Tabbouleh: there’s never too much mint. Or olive oil.

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I was sitting on my balcony, chilling, looking at my vegetables and thinking what to prepare for lunch. That gorgeous green mint caught my eye and made me think of something… It’s been almost 10 years now, since I visited France for the first time. It must have been then that I’ve fallen in love with it… Anyway, I was staying with a family in Antibes, in the south. Tabbouleh was le plat de resistance. Every day. Every lunch. It was more or less a cous-cous salad with some tomatoes, raisins and mint. To be honest, I was not a big fan. It was something I’ve never had in my life before. But, years pass by and you get wiser… and you travel (now a visit to a local Lebanese is practically a must on all my trips), returning at home, hoping that one day you’ll be able to sit down in an restaurant ordering some hummus, falafels and tabouleh in your home town. And one day when you return, your wish comes true. Mezze.

Tabbouleh comes from Middle Eastern cuisine and is usually served as mezze. It’s fresh, healthy and really easy to make in the summer. The real thing is actually lots of mint and parsley, tomatoes, some onions, sprinkeled with lemon and some bulgur. Yes, sprinkeled with bulgur.

My recipe is a mix of everything. Cranberries and pistachios came across when I was staying in Canada. And bulgur is so much healthier than cous-cous. It’s not that common to use it at our place, but you should definitely be using it more. Bulgur is cracked durum wheat and is considered wholegrain, so rich in fibre and has approx. 10% of protein. It is made by cooking the wheat, drying it, partially removing bran and craking it. This actually means that there is no need to cook it. You can just soak it and drain when soften.

So, serve it with one of these beauties  plus some grilled vegetables. And you’ve got yourself a real feast!

 

Ingredients:

  • 250 g bulgur
  • 350 g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 big handfuls cranberries (or raisins)
  • 150 g salted pistachios in shell
  • 20 g mint leaves or more
  • 15 g parsley
  • 1 small spring onion
  • juice of 1,5 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar.
  • salt
  • olive oil. lots of it.

Preparation:

  1. Cook bulgur according to instructions. Do not overcook. Let cool completely.
  2. Chop mint leaves, parsley and spring onions. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Remove pistachios from the shelves and chop roughly.
  3. Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and lots of olive oil to cooled bulgur. Mix in pistachios, cranberries, chopped herbs and spring onions. Salt according to taste and mix. At the end mix in cherry tomatoes and serve.

BBQ season: best dips for roasted veggies

namazi-4Last weekend was the official barbecue season opening at our house. And we had a good reason for it. We were celebrating the release of a new album of a band my dad plays at. Demolition group. I was growing up with the band and their music, but never considered them like big stars. They were more of a  family. I think it was not until I’ve grown up (hope my dad won’t be reading this. lol) that I realised how significant actually is what they are doing.

It was a lovely day, we had great time and we ate well.

Usually there’s a lot of meat when you organise a barbecue. Luckily I was not the only vegetarian and there was abandonce of meat free dishes. As far as I’m concerned, the best concept for a barbecue is to follow the mezze principle, as I call it. Small, fresh, colorful sides that accompany the main thing, so that everyone is satisfied, veggie and meat lovers. I was thinking, what would go best with grilled vegetables and came up with these three easy and delicious dips:

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Greek yoghurt with lemon, mint and black olive paste 

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg greek yoghurt
  • peel of 5 organic lemons
  • 1 – 2 tsp salt
  • mint leaves
  • 80 g black olives
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil

For this recipe you will need a cheesecloth

Preparation:

  1. Drain greek yoghurt: put cheesecloth into a strainer and place over a large bowl into which you will collect excess water from yoghurt. Pour in your greek yoghurt, put into the fridge for at least a day. The longer it drains the firmer it gets.
  2. The next day, mix drained yoghurt with salt and peel of 4 organic lemons.
  3. Mix olives and olive oil and grind into a paste using a mortar or food processor. You can also leave larger pieces of olives.
  4. Put the lemon yoghurt into a larger bowl, garnish with black olive paste. Grate zest of 1 lemon and sprinkle with fresh mint leaves. Sprinkle with olive oil.

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Chickpea, roasted red peppers and walnut dip

Ingredients:

  • 10 -12 long red peppers
  • 1 can chickpea
  • 2 handfuls of walnuts or pecans
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 tsp salt
  • garnish: feta, coriander or parsley leaves, olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Oven roast peppers at 200°C until soft and well grilled. You can also barbecue them. Let cool and remove the skins.
  2. Put skinned peppers, drained chickpeas, walnuts or pecans, garlic, lemon juice, ground coriander and salt into a food processor and mix into a smooth paste.
  3. Garnish with crumbled feta, fresh herbs and sprinkle with olive oil.

 

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White bean and almond butter hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can white beans
  • 3 big Tbsp almond butter (you can also replace it with 3 handfuls of almonds)
  • 1 small tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp water
  • ½ garlic clove
  • 1 tsp cumin (Cuminum cyminum) – optional
  • garnish: avocado, olive oil, cranberries or pomegranate, sesame

Preparation:

  1. Make almond butter: you will need at least 400 g almonds. Mix them in a food processor or a blender at highest speed until oils get to separate and grounded almonds turn into a smooth butter. You can substitute almond butter by 3 handfuls of almonds, but the consistency will be less smooth.
  2. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix into a smooth paste at the highest speed. Add water according to the thickness you prefer.
  3. Garnish with slices of avocado, pieces of cranberries or pomegranate, sesame and sprinkle with olive oil.

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Be good! Enjoy in sunny days!

DG – U tvojim očima

Chocolate, dried fruits and nuts. And it’s vegan.

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Panforte di Siena: the italian medieval energy bars. That’s what I read somewhere. It really made me laugh and I said let’s give it a try.

Its origins date back to 12th century. It’s a really sweet dessert made with candied fruits, almonds and spices with couple of variations. Traditionnaly, it’s serverd at christmas time. You can read more about it here, but the site’s in italian.

Christmas or not, my recipe’s an all timer. No sugar, dates and honey instead. Dried fruits and nuts. Some spices and that’s it. Bake it, let it sit 2 or 3 days and you’ve got yourself some yummy energy bars or a great cake to serve along coffee.

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Ingredients:

  • 120 g almonds
  • 75 g unsalted peeled pistachios
  • 75 g roasted hazelnuts
  • 75 g candied orange peel
  • 75 g dried apricots
  • 120 g dates
  • 45 g agave syrup or honey
  • 25 ml vode
  • 230 g chocolate (vegan)
  • 75 g spelt flour
  • 35 g corn starch
  • 30 g coconut oil
  • peel of one orange
  • 1,5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1,5 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven at 180ºc. Oven roast the hazelnuts for about 10 mins or until golden brown (hazelnut peels should be cracked). Let cool and remove the peels.
  2. In a bowl mix all the nuts, candied orange peels and roughly chopped apricots. Add flour, corn starch and all the spices.
  3. Make date paste by using hand mixer or a mortar: roughly chop dates, than add water and honey. Mix into a smooth paste.
  4. Melt chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler. When melted, add date paste and orange peel.
  5. Add chocolate mixture to the nuts mixture and combine.
  6. Lin cake tin with baking paper and bake at 180ºc for 20 – 25 mins. Cool down and let sit for 2 – 3 days.
  7. Garnish with dried fruits, nuts, chocolate or cocoa.

 

This recipe was created as a part of a project for Spar Slovenija and their magazine Dobro zame.

Cashew, banana and coconut smoothie bowl

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. There’s been just so much going on lately. I finished my blog project I’ve been working on – I’ll let you know all about it very soon 🙂 And it felt great! After stressing about deadlines and everything, the satisfaction of finishing on time and turning in my work was priceless. That actually gave me the energy to started working on my Master’s a bit more seriously. So yes, that’s what’s been keeping me away from my computer… And there was another crazy thing going on in March… Ljubljana Sweet Swing Festival. I’ve been dancing for years, but haven’t been really that active recently. It reminded me how I love dancing, going to festivals and meeting new people. With all this on my mind, I realised the time has come to finish what I’ve started and move on!

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Also, I went off gluten and lactose for a while. It’s been just a little cleanse before the Easter hits me… Well, I’m guilty. I just can’t resist those sweets and Easter bread…

So the first thing I did was to change my breakfast routine. Instead of fruit, rolled oats and yoghurt I had pancakes or smoothies and other things (that I will hopefully post in the next days). I replaced cereals with seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, bee pollen and cocoa nibs. And instead of cow’s milk I used plant based milk. Not bad at all.

That actually sounds very easy and delicious, which it was. But being a diabetic, I know what it means if you have restrains in your life. My condition is not that easy, but I’m grateful that I don’t have any severe allergy to gluten or lactose. So a brief pause won’t do any harm. But life without cheese? Or bread? No. I could go crazy with all this new food trends I see lately. But I won’t. I love trying out new things, but I always say to myself: be smart and don’t limit yourself if there’s no need to. Life offers great things, so take take them with a big spoon!

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Cashew, coconut and banana smoothie bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 handful cashew
  • 3 tsp maca powder
  • 2 tsp lucuma powder
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 Tbsp coconut flakes
  • 100 – 150 ml water
  • 150 ml coconut milk

to garnish:

  • 1 tsp cocoa nibs
  • 1 tsp hemps seeds
  • 1 tsp bee pollen
  • strawberries, raspberries or bluberries

Preparation:

Mix all the ingredients in a blender. Add more or less water depending on thickness you prefer. Garnish with fruits and seeds.

Hello sunshine!

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This morning I woke up with the smile on my face. I pulled up my window blinds and let the sun come in. It was bright and the colours were amazing. Birds singing. Not cold at all… Almost as if it were spring already. I went to the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee. Cozy. I couldn’t be happier! Then I realised that a glorious morning deserves an equally glorious breakfast. I took my time. And a second coffee. I had coconut chia with roasted blood orange compote.

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Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 4 big Tbsp chia seed
  • 1 big Tbsp finely grated coconut flakes
  • 100 – 150 ml coconut milk (depends on the consistency you prefer)
  • sweetener of your choice (I used sucralose)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1,5 Tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp bee pollen

Preparation:

  1. Peel and cut oranges. Preheat oven at 170ºc and bake 30 – 40 mins. Turn once in between. Let cool.
  2. Mix chia, coconut milk, sweetener of your choice, vanilla extract and coconut flakes. If necessary, grind coconut flakes in a coffee grinder. Let sit. If after 10 mins the mixture does not have the consistency you prefer, add some chia, coconut flakes or milk.
  3. Using a fork, mash the cooled baked oranges, reserving one or two pieces for garnish. Add rum.
  4. Assemble in a jar, putting the compote on the bottom, topping with chia pudding and garnishing with a piece of orange and some bee pollen.
  5. And you can always multiply the ingredients and prepare couple of jars for your next breakfast (or late night snacks and desserts as I did 🙂 ).

Roasted beet and avocado dip

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Lately I’ve been going nuts about beets.  It’s probably one of the most amazing vegetables. There are so many things you can do with it, be it sweet or savory. And I just love that color!

There’s more on its health benefits in one of my older post. Anyway, raw, cooked, steamed or oven baked. Everything goes. So here it is, my favorite dip/spread.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 medium size beets
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1.5 cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum)*
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • some roasted hazelnuts to garnish

Preparation:

  1. Cut beets in quarters, sprinkle with olive oil and bake on low temperature (at 180ºc) until it softens. Cool and peel off the skins.
  2. Finely grind coriander and cumin seeds.
  3. Using a hand blender mix all the ingredients.
  4. Serve with corn tortillas or crackers. You can also use it like this.

 

*more on cumin – carvi – black cumin here.

Green pancakes with quick avocado & beet spread – gluten free

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I started writing this blog because I wanted to give a healthy twist to those traditional dishes. Of course, since I got diabetes, I was mostly trying to find a neat solution to avoid sugar or at least finding an alternative for it. But in the end, everything is sugar. During digestion the food we eat will eventually turn into sugars. The question is how fast? My answer to this is balance. A meal that’s rich in fiber and protein, not only carbs, will rise your blood sugar level much slower and will make you feel full longer. And protein intake can sometimes be a huge problem for vegetarians. I say chickpea, people!

Chickpea is one of those superfoods for me. It has quite some carbs, to give you the energy, but also lots of fiber and protein. Chickpea flour has around 60% carbs, 20% protein and 15% fiber whereas cooked chickpeas will have round 30% carbs, 9% protein and 8% fiber.

When I first heard of Socca that funny word immediately caught my attention. For a reason. Farinata or Cade, as it is also called, is a chickpea pancake brought from Genoa to south of France, Nice and Toulon to be more precise. It’s a street food and there are some variations between the three, but the basic recipe for socca is:

300 g chickpea flour
500 ml water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
pepper

The batter is poured into a large iron skillet and than baked in the oven at a really high temperature until golden brown.

So, I mixed a bit and came up with this broccoli chickpea gluten free pancakes, that are way better and certainly way healthier than the regular ones using plain white flour. The batter is less liquid so the pancakes will be slightly thicker, but they sure look nice and make a great contrast with the beet-avocado spread.

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Ingredients:

for the broccoli chickpea pancakes:

  • 100 g broccoli
  • 75 g chickpea flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 140 ml milk of your choice (I used oat milk)
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • salt, pepper

quick beet and avocado spread
(or if you have more time)

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 medium size cooked beet
  • 1,5 tsp coriander seed
  • 1,5 tsp cumin seed
  • juice of half lemon
  • salt

tahini sauce (optional):

  • 1 big Tbsp tahini
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp water
  • salt

handful of spinach
goat cheese
roasted walnuts or hazelnuts

Preparation:

  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender an mix well. Let rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. Finely grind coriander and cumin seeds.
  3. Using a hand blender mix all the ingredients for the spread.
  4. Bake the pancakes at medium heat in non-stick frying pan of 20cm in diameter until golden brown. Do not expect paper thin pancakes, they should be slightly thicker.
  5. Spread the beet and avocado on half of the pancake, fill with spinach, goat cheese, tahini sauce and some roasted nuts.

Green dream smoothie

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It’s a wonderful day today. I haven’t seen a sun like that for some time now. Blue sky and warm light. Looking through my window, big grayish trees. Naked. Behind them, on the other side of the street, some colorful table cloths drying on the line and playing in the wind.

I remember my life from Paris… Everything was way too often so black and white. And gray. In the metro, on the street, people… Maybe that’s why I loved so much going to the african or indian quarters. And maybe that’s why I bought some colorful african fabrics that still hang from my wall today.

Life should be colorful. One way or another. I had my smoothie blender for couple of years now, but I think it was never in use as much as it is right now. I guess this Ljubljana’s gray screams for colors.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 2,5 dl coconut-rice milk
  • 1 Tbsp hemp protein (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seed
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flakes

Preparation:

  1. Blend. Blend. Blend. 🙂

Red DETOX smoothie

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After a busy end of the year and all that feasting and festivity the time has come to start a new chapter. New year – new beginnings, they say. And to start well, mind, soul and body need to be free. And clean. So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to detoxify my body, do more sports and just breathe that fresh winter air. I left out a party or two and switched from wine to smoothies. Since I’ve got this diabetes thing I learned how important it is to listen to my body. Once you do that, you start acting differently and you feel great.

This smoothie has been replacing some of my breakfast lately. It’s really boosting and nourishing. In the morning I sometimes mixed it up with oats and hemp seeds and it was definitely my favorite 5 o’clock thing.

Beet is a great source of folic acid and potassium. It also contains high level of antioxidants and supports detoxification. It has a slightly higher level of carbs than other vegetables (5g carbs/75g), but that’s not much of a problem since it is also a good source of fiber. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Also, and that is something I did not know, leaves were highly appreciated in ancient times. That’s no surprise since they contain up to 25% magnesium. They can be prepared the same way as spinach. Superfood.

Carrot A, B, C, E, K. Nuff said.

Orange is the best winter fruit. I’ve got an orange tree in my apartment and it just started blooming (don’t know how that’s possible), but the smell…it’s amazing. Of course, a super source of vitamin C that will boost your immune system in those harsh winter months and hydrate your body. Just make sure it’s heavy when buying. That means it will be really juicy.

Strawberries are a good source of antioxidants, folic acid and vitamins B and C. They have a high water content and are beneficial for digestion. They also have low glycemic index, so go for it!

Green tea is said to have more health benefits than the black tea which is most widely used. This is due to un-oxidation process which retains more antioxidants and vitamins.

Chia seed has high fiber and slows down digestion. It’s also rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, minerals like potassium, calcium and iron. It has high protein content so it is perfect for balancing fruit or vegetable smoothies.

Ginger is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is considered a medicinal plant in alternative medicine. It’s said to have beneficial effects on digestion, respiratory system and nausea, but its recommended daily amount is between 3 and 10 g. It has a nice lemony, but very sharp taste. When grated and used with fiber it will gradually become even sharper. If you want milder taste, use squeezed (grated) ginger juice only.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 beet (raw or cooked)
  • 100 g strawberries
  • 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp chia seed
  • 1 cup green tea

Preparation:

  1. Make 1 cup of green tea and let cool.
  2. Wash and peel all the fruits and vegetables and cut into bigger pieces.
  3. Put all the ingredients into smoothie maker and blend on the highest speed.

 

 

Chocolate coconut nutella

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A healthier vegan nut free nutella. Coconut milk and chocolate. No added sugar. That’s about it! Love it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 400 ml coconut milk (emulsified, I used Vegalife)
  • 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 80 g milk chocolate (I used Balance Stevia by Klingele)

Preparation:

  1. Melt chocolate over water bath. Gently whisk in cocoa.
  2. Heath up coconut milk. Do not overheat. It just needs to have the same temperature as chocolate. Mix in the chocolate.
  3. Pour into jars, let cool and store in a fridge overnight. It will harden get spreadable consistency. Voilà!