Monday, 14 August 2017

HOMEMADE COCONUT GRANOLA WITH SUPERFOODS


     With the middle of August coming tomorrow, I can't believe that summer will soon be over. Tomorrow we are having some of our friends over for barbequeing the Greek way, which translates into a lot of juicy meet and fresh vegetables being grilled. I'm going to provide dessert and my help to my boyfriend, as well as cleaning the house, preparing everything for the food and perhaps getting some flowers. 
     I love having friends over for food. It feels like taking care of your family, so personal and intimate. Everyone is laughing, having a great time and although there is a lot of work behind it, it doesn't matter, because these are memories we are going to have for the rest of our lives...



     Yesterday we went for another one of our big walks into the forrest we have here in Rümlang. To our surprise, as we took another road that we've never taken before, we met some young deers. Babies to be correct. Of course, they were scared of us and run quickly the other way, we could see them in the depth of the trees taking a peak at us. Or so we liked to think! It was rejuvenating to be back in the nature and look at its creatures. So simple and yet so beautiful, without the human interference.



     In the morning I also managed to quickly prepare a homemade granola. I've been wanting to make some for a long, long time, but I have been postponing it. Only because I think if I make it then I will be tempted to it right away, and it's not the least caloric thing to eat. But to be frank I had A LOT of oat flakes in my pantry and I needed to do something with them, since porridge is not a usual dish during the summer.
     The recipe for this one is very simple. You have wet and dry ingredients and you mix them together. Also, the great thing about granola is that you can add whatever exists in your fridge or pantry without worrying about it going wrong. Now, these are the recipes I like. If you are busy and trying to do everything at once, then this will help you a lot in the kitchen spectrum. Plus granola is so versatile and it can be paired with so many other ingredients like yoghurt, milk, as a topping on your porridge, an add-on for smoothies and on its own.
     This granola is a little different that your usual kind, since it contains three amazing and good for you superfood powders: Maca, Mesquite and Reishi. Each on each own with numerous benefits for the health. I will start with Maca, my favourite one, a root used by the Incans, which helps with balancing your female hormones, acne, energy levels anaemia and libido. During the Incan Empire it is said that soldiers used it to regain their energy. Reishi is a medicinal mushroom used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has some effects on protecting you from infections, cancerous cells and chronic fatigue. Mesquite is natural sweetener that doesn't spike your blood glucose levels, which has a lot of fibre and omega 3s. 
    So there you go! A healthy version of granola you must not resist!

Homemade coconut granola with superfoods

ingredients

4 cups oats
1 cup coconut slices
1 cup nuts (I used almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, popped Amarath and pumpkin seeds)
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon of each: Maca powder, Mesquite meal and Reishi powder
1/4 cup coconut oil (liquid form)
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup


how do I make it?

1. Preheat your oven to 150C. Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl very well. Everything needs to be combined well before toasting the granola.
2. In a large pan, place a baking paper and then pour on top the mixture in your bowl. With a spoon, make sure the mixture goes fills the surface of the pan.
3. Put the pan in the oven and toast for about 30 to 40 minutes. I toasted mine for 45 minutes. This depends on how crunchy you like it. Every 10 minutes after you begin to toast your granola, open the door of the oven and carefully mix again the mixture with a spoon to make sure everything in there gets a colour.
4. When your granola is ready, take it out of the oven and let it cool completely before serving.






Sunday, 6 August 2017

HEALTHY BANANA AND OATMEAL BREAD (AND SOME TALK ABOUT EMOTIONAL EATING)


     It's been a while since I've written a recipe. I won't tell you clichés about how busy life is, because that's what it's like to most of people. The truth is I lacked the inspiration in my life I really needed. I am a sensitive and emotional human being and most of the times if I feel uninspired it shows up in every aspect of my life. So, my blogging life was affected as well. Since the last time I blogged, I've been to an amazing trip in Greece to Elafonisos island with my two best girlfriends. We had such a relaxing time, doing almost nothing but sunbathing, swimming and eating during the night. What else did we need? Just some quiet for a while...
     But it's not only my everyday life that gets affected by emotions,it's food as well. With food I share a love and hate relationship for a lot of years. I almost never like to talk about it and really, who cares? I enjoy food very much, but sometimes when stress sneaks into my life, I overuse food for the wrong reasons. Then I stress about food, which leads to more stress, which leads to more food and...you get the picture. 
     I've read a lot of articles talking about "listening to your body" and I always thought they were talking nonsense or made it seem so simple, when it's not. Willpower. Such a strong word and also so far to reach sometimes. And what about having an order in your life? 


   It often seems that when chaos exists in your life, it's the reflected chaos inside you that you look at. 



So, I had to do something about it.



     In my journey towards realising what my body is saying to me, I tried for the last two months to keep a journal. Not a calorie and food intake journal, but an emotional journal.  Every time I am hungry I make a note about how I am feeling at that time of the day. Then I can see which days or periods during the day I am really hungry and when I am just bored, angry, stressed or sad about something going on in my life. It's really a silly task to let myself realise sometimes that it's not hunger that's making me crazy and not being able to concentrate on something else. It's my own emotional chaos that is recking everything. If anything sounds familiar to you, then maybe you should give it a try and see if something clicks in your head. You can also read this article I found that talks suggests doing a Broccoli test before you eat anything. It also talks a lot about emotional eating. 




     Another major change in my life that helped me a lot with my relationship with food was exercise. But not once or twice a month exercise. Daily one, with a few breaks between the week. My plan? Plan ahead... Every Sunday I make a schedule about possible gym days, running or Pilates during the week and give it my best to try to do them all. So far it has really helped that in my new internship position we have a pretty good gym where I spend all my lunchtime days there. I am pretty sure my classmates and colleagues think I am a freak for doing so, but it really makes me feel amazing afterwards. I am doing a lot of HIIT sessions combined with running and Pilates, which I can never give up. 
     In this spirit of a healthier body and mind, I made a recipe this morning for a healthy banana bread with oatmeal, oat milk and walnuts. It's a real treat and since it's not very sweet, it's a good choice for breakfast. What I like doing with it is toasting it slightly and then slather on top some crunchy peanut butter. I am already hungry talking about it!

Healthy Banana and Oatmeal bread

ingredients (for one loaf)

2 large ripe bananas smashed and one not so ripe
1/4 cup oatmilk (or any other type of milk)
1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup crushed walnuts

how do I make it?

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. In a large bowl whisk together the oil and honey. Then pour inside the eggs and whisk again very well until everything is combined. Add the milk and smashed bananas. 
2. Lastly add the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix everything very well. Mix in the walnuts.
3. In a prepared loaf pan pour the bread dough. Take your other banana and slice in lengthwise. Top the unbaked bread with the two halves of banana. 
4. Bake the bread for 40 minutes or until slightly golden brown. 
5. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then enjoy it while it's still warm.



Sunday, 23 July 2017

COCONUT WATER, OAT MILK AND MAPLE SYRUP CHIA PUDDING WITH MELON AND CACAO NIBS


     Having a sleep schedule has always been a challenge. With social life and work going on, there never seems to be a constant pattern. The last two months I started doing my internship, I've been waking up quite early (at 6:30), which seems to have affected my other days of sleeping. I can't seem to sleep more than 6 to 7 hours. Despite being a big creature of habit, this is a habit I don't quite fancy.
     Natural remedies such as Magnesium supplements, calming no caffeine teas and good old warm cup of milk seem to help the situation a bit, but not the level of my satisfaction. However, I don't give up or give into quick fixes. Challenge is accepted!
     On other news, I am as of this Thursday on Greek grounds. I have come for a quick vacation back home, in a desperate need of some vitamin D. I am also planning to do a small roadtrip to the south of Greece and to a small island called, Elafonisos. The beach there is so magical as if you were in the most virgin, untouched place on Earth. Crystal blue waters, white sand and only the ocean ahead. If I manage to go, I will for sure take a lot of photos and show you one of the most magical places in Greece.



     Now that summer is here, I thought of a chia pudding could save me from having to think what to eat every day for breakfast when I am working for my internship and keep me full, but not too full. Coconut water is also full of electrolytes that can save you from all the sweat you've been shedding. Cantaloupe melon is the star in this one, as it contains a lot of Vitamin A in the form of carotenoids, which are crucial for summer glowy skin as well as the protection from harmful sun rays. Prep this pudding on Sunday and enjoy it all week long.

Coconut water, Oat milk and maple syrup chia pudding with cantaloupe melon and cacao nibs

ingredients (for 4 persons)

1 cup coconut water
1 cup oat milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
2 cups cantaloupe melon
4 teaspoons cacao nibs
4 teaspoons chopped almonds
2 tablespoons mesquite meal
more melon to serve

how do I make it?

1. In a large mixing bowl add the coconut water, oat milk, chia seeds and maple syrup. Mix roughly all the ingredients together and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. After time has passed, the mixture will have become quite thick. Transfer into individual pots or in one large jar or container you wish. Let them in the fridge for up to 2 hours or overnight.
2. When it's time to serve your chia pudding, put in a food processor 2 cups of cantaloupe melon and the mesquite meal. It has a somewhat cacao and sweet flavour. If you don't have any, you can skip it and just pulse the melon. Pulse on high speed until you have a pulp. 
3. Top the pots or bowls you serve the chia pudding with the melon pulp in the previous step. Continue with a teaspoon of cacao nibs in each one and chopped almonds. If you wish, add more melon chunks  and maple syrup on top. 




Tuesday, 27 June 2017

CANTALOUPE MELON ICE CREAM


    Hot, hot, hot! And I'm talking about the temperature lately. I mean, of course, if you live in Europe you know what I'm talking about it. No news there. But also, I'm referring to the remake of the very loved 90s drama, Baywatch. Have you seen it? I happened to watch it on Sunday and somewhat enjoyed it. It was nothing like the original series, but that was mostly because David Hasselhoff was not part of it... Other than that, I enjoyed the very simple script, with no big surprises there and of course the girls had amazing bodies as expected. 
     However, it reminded me how much I miss Greece during the summer, the best season to be there. I miss my walks along the beach in my hometown, Glyfada, I miss the drinks with my friends in a bar next to the sea, the chilly breeze that hugs you during the nights and of course the smell of sunscreen mixed with sea salt water. I booked my tickets a few weeks ago for July and I really can't wait. My little trip also involves a Greek wedding, which means a lot of food, dancing and more food. Oh, and drinking!



     Until then, I need to have something that reminds me of a careless summer, eating juicy summer fruit and trying to chase every bee and bug that exists in the house. One of my favourite summer fruit, apart from peaches and nectarines, is melon. Not a big fan of honeydew melon, though, I think cantaloupe is my choice here. I love the colour inside the melon and the sweetness of it. It's something really really special to eat. Sometimes I even pair it with some feta cheese to make it a bit fancier and take some of the sweetness out of it.


     Now, during summer I don't like to do a lot of things in the kitchen. I prefer easy and manageable tasks. And since I don't have an ice cream machine (yet), I had to come up with an easy recipe for a melon ice cream for this summer. You only need a few ingredients and some good freezer. Prepare yourself for some fruity mess with this one!

Cantaloupe melon ice cream

ingredients

one medium cantaloupe melon (gives about 500gr pulp)
1 1/2 cup full fat heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 rectangular pan

to serve 
chopped pistachios
honey

How do I make it?

1. First, prepare your melon by cutting it in half and taking out the seeds. Using a spoon try to carve all of the pulp and pour it into a processor bowl. Once you're done, set your food processor to high speed and pulse for a minute or until you get a nice pulp without any big chuncks. 
2. In a bowl pour in the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer or with the standing mixer, whip your cream very well until you get stiff peaks. 
3. Once the whipping cream is ready, slowly and carefully transfer the melon pulp into the  whipping cream and using a spatula mix in slow motions. Do this until all the pulp is incorporated into the mixture.
4. Fill in the pan with the ice cream mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then transfer into the freezer. 
5. After an hour take it out and mix it slightly with a spoon. Then place it gain into the freezer and let it for 3 more hours or best overnight.
6. When you want to serve, take your ice cream out at least 30 minutes before. Fruity ice creams tend to get very icy and they are harder to serve. Sprinkle some chopped pistachios and drizzle some honey for extra delight!


Friday, 23 June 2017

RED LENTIL FALAFEL SUMMER BOWL


     Surviving the heatwave is a really tough task. Especially when you are used to having an air/conditioning when the temperature rises in extreme speed. This last week has been 33 C or 34 C in Zurich, with most of the days being windless. One way to make it through is to swim in the local pools here and pray for some rain soon. But the high temperature is not only happening in Switzerland, but the rest of Europe as I heard on the news the other day. Global warming says hello again!
     Anyways, for those of you who follow me on Instagram, I posted a photo the other day of the cheesecake ice cream I made last year and asked you for new ice cream ideas. I got some responses and will be soon making some really creamy and hopefully delicious ice cream. If you have any more ideas you would like to share here, please leave me a comment below.



     During the summer I realised that you cannot leave food for a longer time without eating it, even in the fridge. Cleaning up your pantry and combining leftovers for new recipes is the ideal thing to do in this hot weather.  Which brings me to this recipe I created in the spur of the moment. Red lentil falafels. I love falafels and I recently learned to like red lentils. Red lentils have a nutty flavour and don't need to be cooked for long time, actually only 7 to 10 minutes. For an impatient and hungry person like myself, this is a perfect deal. 
     This is a lighter version of the original falafels, but I can assure you it lacks no taste at all. I chose to bake these falafels, because during summer I cannot stand frying things. Feel free however to fry them if you have experience with falafels before or just wish something less healthy. I feel that this is a recipe I will be making a lot of times. The best thing about it is that you can make a big batch of falafels and then keep them in fridge. That way you can pair them either in salads or any other way you want to. 


Red Lentil Falafel Summer Bowl

ingredients for red lentil falafels (makes about 10-12 balls)

1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons good quality tahini (sesame seed butter)
1/4 cup oat flakes (and more if needed)
salt as needed

for the summer bowl (serves two)

2 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2cup chopped Greek feta
1/2 avocado sliced
2 tablespoons flaxseeds 
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon honey

how do I make it?

1. First step is to cook the red lentils according to instructions. Normally, they are cooked with 2 cups of water for 7 to 10 minutes or until soft. make sure you rinse them before cooking them and while cooking them make sure they don't overcook and turn into a mush.
2. Let the lentils cool and drain them letting all the excess water.
3. In a food processor, put all of the ingredients needed for the falafels. Season with salt as much as you want. What I like to do is taste for saltiness after I mix everything together. Set your food processor to high speed and mix very well. You need a quite thick mixture that is a bit moist. Open the lid of the processor and check with clean hands if the mixture is too moist or liquid. If it is, put some more oat flakes inside and mix again. When you feel the mixture is ready, transfer the bowl of the processor in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Preheat the over to 200 C. Get out your mixture and with clean hands or wearing gloves, start making medium size falafel bowls. I made them in a size between a golf and a tennis ball. Prepare a baking pan and place your falafels with some distance between them.
5. Sprinkle with some extra olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
6. To prepare the salad bowls, rinse the spinach and transfer into two bowls. Place two or three falafels in each bowl. Place the chopped feta and sliced avocado in the bowls. Sprinkle the flaxseeds. Last, prepare your tahini dressing by mixing everything together. Pour into the bowls and enjoy the salad bowls in the next 30 minutes maximum!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

TAHINI AND COCONUT GRANOLA BARS


     Hello dear friends. I hope your week was just as wonderful as mine was. I did a lot of things, met with some friends and prepared a lot of food. A lot of friends and people I meet always ask me "how do you find the time and energy to make so many things"? I am known among my friends as the one who always bakes, cooks or makes something in the kitchen. This week I made some chickpea curry (as usual), hummus and tried a new recipe for red lentil fallafel (recipe for this baby soon). And I always say that I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I feel after I made all those things. I believe in making your own food from scratch and try to avoid as much processed foods as possible.
     This kind of change towards homemade and as much as possible natural food, happened I think about 5 years ago, when I really started paying attention to what I eat and not how much I eat. I don't know about anyone else, but I am concerned about what goes into my body. Of course I won't go crazy, because really you can't control everything,
 although you might think you can. You buy something that says organic or natural, and quite soon you read an article or find out that it's not so organic and natural after all. The only way to achieve that is if you immigrate to a virgin area, where no human presence has ever been...which is impossible.




     What I can suggest you do, if you want to take care of your nutrition, is to make most of your food yourself and when you buy something, look at the ingredients. Like for example there are so many granola bars out there. Some are pure sugar, in which case you better eat a candy bar instead, and other contain very few ingredients that makes them almost homemade. So, if you love the taste of homemade granola bar and have some time in your hands, I have the perfect recipe for you...
    These bars I made on Thursday are pure magic. Very simple to make and they don't require baking them, so actually they are not so heavy on your stomach. For me sometimes raw food is better for my stomach issues. They only thing you need is some good quality tahini or sesame butter, coconut flakes and some other few ingredients. I found that tahini pairs well with coconut, however, some of you might find the taste a bit too strong. You can substitute it for almond butter, which gives the bars a lighter taste.


Tahini and Coconut granola bars

ingredients (for 10 to 12 bars)

1 cup tahini or almond butter
1 cup coconut flakes
1 3/4 cup rolled oat flakes
1 cup roasted and roughly chopped almonds
1/2 cup raw honey or good quality honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt


how do I make it?

1. First, in a large bowl put the oats, roasted almonds, cinnamon, coconut flakes and salt and stir a bit.
2. In a small sauce pan, pour in the honey and tahini on medium heat. Stir continuously until the honey melts and is incorporated with the tahini. Be careful to mix it all the time as you don't want the mixture to burn. 
3. Pour into the large bowl and with a big spatula or spoon, mix very well all the ingredients until you get a soft mixture that resembles a dough.
4. Prepare a medium pan with some paper sheet (leaving some paper on the sides) and pour in the granola mixture. Using your hands, press the mixture until it covers all the pan and has a somewhat smooth surface. 
5. Cover the pan with a transparent sheet or a clean towel and refrigerate for two hours or better overnight.
6. Using the sides of the baking paper, pull the mixture out and using a sharp knife, cut into desired shapes of bars.



Saturday, 10 June 2017

CHERRY AND RHUBARB CRUMBLE PIE


    Summer is definitely here! Exams are over, internship started and I am going to Geneva Street Food Festival tomorrow. Woohoo, life is good finally. I don't know when was the last time I just sat on my sofa and read a book or did something else that study, obsess about studying or yell at my boyfriend. Oops! Well, yeah, it happens to the best of us. Stress is a weird thing not to cave in, I'm trying my best. But since the weather is warm and everyone is stress-free, one can only dream of more days like this.
     On another note, I went hiking last weekend. It wasn't the first time, but it was the first time I did it with a big group of people who were passionate about it. We hiked uphill and downhill for more than 5 hours. I woke up at 5:00 and got home at 22:00, but it was all worth it. The feeling of accomplishment, the laughs, the amazing view when we reached our final destination. All worth it. During my hiking I was thinking that these will be the memories I will have in mind when I get older and I won't be able to bend my back in front. Or maybe until then I will become a yogi, so who knows?




     What better way to celebrate this summer that with a pie? I was planning to make a rhubarb and strawberry pie, since I've read a lot of amazing recipes with this combination. However, I couldn't find any proper strawberries lately and I had some cherries in the fridge wanting my attention, so inspiration came! I have to say this is not a very sweet pie, which is perfect for me as I don't like very sweet stuff. Also, it was the first time I cooked something with rhubarb and I was very pleased with the result. 

Cherry and Rhubarb Crumble pie

ingredients (for one pie)

1 buttery pie dough of your choice
4 cups of pitted cherries
2 cups rhubarb cut in slices
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter cut in slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice

for the crumble

150 gr butter cold and cut in pieces
100 gr flour
80 gr sugar

to serve: ice cream of your choice

how do I make it?

1. Prepare your fruit and put them in a large bowl. Pour inside the sugar and lemon and stir very well. 
2. Prepare your pie tin with some oil brushing. Carefully place the dough on the tin and then pour in the middle the prepared fruit. 
3. In a food processor mix together the butter with the flour until breadcrumbs are created. Then add in the sugar and mix again.
4. Place the crumbs on top of the fruit of the pie, making sure all of the fruit is covered with the crumbs. Preheat oven to 190 C.
5. Bake your pie in this temperature for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 175 C and bake for 30 minutes or until the pie turns golden, while juices come out. 
6. Let it cool for some minutes and then serve with some ice cream.