Wednesday, November 19, 2014



Thanksgiving is only 9 days away and all I can think about is pumpkin pie. Even though the holiday is non-existent here in Germany (there is Erntedankfest, which is a day meant to give thanks to nature's bounty), it's not hard to convince people to gather around a table full of delicious food and enjoy each other's company. My parents would always wake up early the morning of and start preparing food while the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade aired in the background.

One of my favorite dishes on the table was always brussels sprouts. Growing up, I never understood why some people didn't like them because I always thought they were scrumdiliumcious! I love mine roasted with garlic and a bit of salt. The moment they come out of the oven I go to town on those bad boys. So of course I'm including a recipe on my blog! And to take it a step further, I thought I'd make a soup of it because who doesn't love to warm up with a nice bowl of soup?

Roasted Brussel Sprout Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 lb (750 gr.) brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp for sautéing
------------------------
3 cups chopped leek
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of vegan heavy cream (I used oat cream)
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp maple syrup
salt & pepper
chopped hazelnuts for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F or 200 C. Cut off the brown ends of the brussels sprouts and remove any yellow outer leaves before halving them. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the brussels sprouts onto the sheet. Drizzle the 2 tbsp of olive oil on top and massage them until they're evenly coated (fastest way is to get your hands dirty!) Pop them into the oven for 35-40 minutes.
In the last 10 minutes of roasting, prepare your leek and garlic. Put a soup pot over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the leek and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes (until the leek is tender). Add the roasted brussels sprouts and water, then bring the heat down to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in the vegan cream, then cover and let it sit for an additional 10 minutes before adding the thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and maple syrup. Puree with an immersion blender. Serve with chopped hazelnuts and enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprout Soup

Thursday, November 13, 2014



Remember when everyone online was making zucchini noodles? No? Okay, maybe I watch too many raw foodies on Youtube but I couldn't help joining the bandwagon. I'm not usually one for fads. Like that time when everyone decided color blocking was in and I went shopping at Zara only to find everything in beige, red, and forest green? Let's just say I didn't shop for clothes during those few months.

What are zucchini noodles? Basically they're just thin strips of zucchini that resemble noodles. Most people have a spiralizer or a julienne peeler (which is what I have) but it can be achieved with a peeler and some steady handiwork. Of course, you could just go ahead and use pasta.

The sauce here is a nice little mushroom sauce. I didn't add tomato puree/diced tomatoes because I try to avoid tomatoes when I cook for myself (I just don't like to consume it often) but if you like them, add a 16-oz. can (about 2 cups) of pureed or diced tomatoes along with the other liquids and taste it for saltiness before adding any miso.

Zucchini Noodles with Mushroom Sauce
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups brown mushrooms, diced
1 medium onion, diced (a med. onion for me is about 3 inches in diameter)
1 shallot, minced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tbsp white miso paste

2 zucchinis, julienned or spiralized (or 2 servings of cooked spaghetti or fettuccine as per package instructions)



Chop all vegetables accordingly then heat a pan on high heat. When the pan is heated, add the olive oil to coat the pan. Follow with the garlic, shallot, celery, and onions, making sure to constantly stir.



When the onions are tender and translucent, add the mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms have released most of their water and reduced in size (about 5 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium low and add the red wine, apple juice, and miso (making sure the miso dissolves in the liquid). Stir and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated. You can leave it chunky like this or puree it with an immersion blender.

Serve on top of zucchini noodles, garnish with basil leaves, and enjoy!


Zucchini Noodles with Mushroom Sauce

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Everybody talks about oatmeal because it's like that good friend that always has your back, even though you sometimes forget about her and she ends up in the back of your cupboard, mingling with the cocoa powder and bottle of Gordon's gin (this is a no judgement zone people).

But what is it about oats that is so special? To name a few:

-One bowl of oatmeal a day will help lower cholesterol by 8-23%. 1% drop in serum cholesterol is a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease!
-A specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan is found in oats. This fiber helps the human immune system respond quicker to infection.
-Oats are a good source of magnesium, resulting in stronger bones, teeth, and improvement of insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
-Good alternative for those with celiac disease (intolerance to gluten).


I grew up eating oatmeal. I even developed a strange superstition as a kid, where if I didn't eat oatmeal on test day, I wouldn't do well. I think it was because my teachers always stressed eating a good breakfast before exams and to me, a good breakfast is hearty and filling but not too filling that it makes one feel heavy.

My basic outline for a good oatmeal is Oats + Liquid + Sweeteners + Mix-ins + Toppings. There's a fine line between mix ins and toppings because you could essentially use both interchangeably but I find some things taste better cooked. Here's the low down for each:

OATS
The three basics are Steel-Cut, Rolled/Old Fashioned, and Quick. Steel-cut oats are groats that have been split into several finer pieces which produces a much creamier porridge but also takes 20-30 minutes to cook. Rolled or Old Fashioned oats (the standard variety sold in Germany) are steamed, pressed, and dried, making them more absorbent and reducing the cooking time to about 5-10 minutes. Quick cooking oats have an even shorter cooking time but are less textured and more mushy.

LIQUID
Tip: Always cook the oats in water first. Milk makes it easier for the oats to burn and stick to the pan. You can add milk after the oats are 75% cooked.
Any type of milk is fine. A more decadent option for vegans would be to use coconut or homemade cashew milk. If you like butter, you can also melt butter in your oats in addition to milk. Another option is to cook oatmeal in tea! Boil water, add the tea bag, and fish the tea bag out before adding the oats. Chai makes a good porridge but experiment with other flavors for a fun breakfast.

SWEETENERS
I prefer liquid sweeteners in oatmeal but use what you like. My favorites are molasses, maple syrup, and stevia. If your stevia contains alcohol (such like vanilla extract), add it in during the cooking process so the heat cooks it out. Another idea is to add chopped up dates, loaded with natural sugar, eliminating the need for an added sweetener.

MIX-INS
Ground flax seeds and chia seeds are great mixed in while the oats are cooking because they help to absorb water and for some people, are more easily digested when cooked. With fruit it's all about preference. I like cooked apples because it reminds me more of apple pie so I mix it in while the pot is still on heat. Same goes for pears, plums, and sometimes bananas. Berries are more delicate so I prefer them fresh and on top. Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg and powders like carob, cocoa, or even protein powders can be added at the end of cooking to enhance flavor.

TOPPINGS
This is pretty much the part of the creating where you can add anything and everything. Nut butters are great on top for added protein and healthy fats as well as chopped nuts and seeds for the contrasting texture. Dried fruits are also great for when you don't have fresh fruit on hand. Finally, fruit purees or jam, even cheese (though I haven't tried it, some people swear by it) can be added depending on what you like.


Here is a simple recipe for cinnamon apple oatmeal using rolled oats.

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal (vegan, gluten free)
Serves 1

Ingredients
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup of non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
1 medium apple, diced (I like gala, honey crisp, fuji, or any of the sweeter red apple varieties)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
6 drops stevia extract
handful of raisins
chopped walnuts for topping

In a small pot over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Measure out your oatmeal and place in the pot, immediately stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir for a 2-3 minutes until the water has mostly evaporated and the mixture looks thick. Lower the heat to medium and add the chia seeds, flax seeds, and milk. Stir and add the stevia, apples, and raisins. Continue stirring for another 5 minutes. If the mixture looks too thick and the oatmeal is sticking too much to the bottom of the pan, add water. Turn off the heat and put into a bowl. Top with walnuts. Guten Appetit!

Oatmeal: Tips, Tricks, and How I Prepare Them

Friday, October 31, 2014

I don't know what it is about salads that is so repelling. People hear salad and instantly think of 3 other things that sound much better (I thought of lasagna, sushi, and burgers btw). I mean, I don't blame them. The only time I really wanted a salad was when I discovered that goat cheese, cranberry, walnut salad at Whole Foods and let's face it, 9 times outta 10, Whole Foods got it right.

So imagine my surprise when I was just craving salad the other day. And my being famously bad at making salads (it's a fact, I'm not even going to deny it), I decided to start with the dressing first. A good salad needs a good dressing, am I right?



"Miso Nutty" Salad
Serves 2-4

Dressing:
1/4 cup white miso
1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp black strap molasses
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp flax oil
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Mix together the miso, peanut butter, ginger, and molasses. Add the oils and vinegar and mix with a fork until well combined.

Salad:
Mixed Greens
Smoked Tofu; cubed (or use regular firm tofu and season it)
Spring Onions, cut thin
Mushrooms, chopped (I used Chanterelle but Shiitake, Enoki, Maitake, or Brown Button Mushrooms would work)
Gluten Free Pasta (optional)
Plums (optional)
Peanuts for garnish

Toss all ingredients in a big bowl. Only mix with dressing before consumption (otherwise it will get soggy and unpleasant). Enjoy!

"Miso Nutty" Salad

Sunday, October 26, 2014



It seems Fall brings out the desire in me to make raw treats. It makes absolutely no sense since the colder it gets, the more people are likely to want to turn on the oven. Well for me, I get mega lazy this time of year. We're talking let-me-drink-this-chai-tea-for-several-hours-while-watching-youtube-wrapped-in-my-ikea-blanket lazy. So if I can just whip up a dessert without turning on the oven and cutting baking paper to fit the bottom of my cake pan, I will.

Now I'm going to try and refrain from saying this is one of the best things I've made lately on a whim BUT GUYS, this is really freaking good. I want to take this gooey mess and put my face all up in it the way Bruce Bogtrotter did with that chocolate cake in Matilda. Except it's not a punishment. Oh, and it's dare I say it, good for you.

Raw Chocolate Walnut Brownie
with Cinnamon "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Makes 4 Brownies

For the Brownie
3/4 cup of dates, pitted (mejool or deglet noor dates preferrably)
1/4 cup of almonds, ground
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt
walnuts for studding

For the Frosting
1/2 cup of walnuts, soaked + 1 tbsp of soaking water
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup or 2 dates

Start by soaking your frosting walnuts in water for 30 minutes, making sure the water covers them completely.

Chop up dates into pieces and place in a blender or food processor. Pulse until it comes together to form a sticky paste (if your dates are not soft enough, have them soak in water for 15 minutes before pulsing). Add your ground almonds and pulse again. Pour out into a bowl and add the cocoa and sea salt. Mix with a spoon until the mixture is the same dark brown throughout (it might seem crumbly at first but it will eventually come together). Using plastic wrap, shape the "dough" into a 6" x 6" square. Push in walnut pieces throughout the square, then wrap and store in the fridge.

In the meanwhile, drain your walnuts, leaving a tablespoon of the soaking water. In the same machine you used to pulse the dates, do the same for the walnuts until it has a chunky cream cheese like consistency. Add cinnamon and maple syrup (or dates if you want to keep it purely raw).

Cut the brownie into 4 squares. Top with the frosting and top with walnuts and extra cinnamon if you'd like. Enjoy!


Raw Chocolate Walnut Brownie with Cinnamon "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Monday, October 20, 2014

I always dread rain more than any other type of weather. There's just something about rain that makes me tired and unmotivated to get out of bed. Not to mention taking photos when you want natural lighting is one frustrating task.

There are many fun activities that I find are reserved for those days. Going to the movies, taking a sports class, walking around the mall, and of course, a good ole museum visit. I LOVE museums but I rarely go to them in Berlin. Maybe it's knowing that I have to shell out full admission now that I'm not a student. Or perhaps finding a partner in crime on a weekday afternoon is just difficult. Luckily my friend Marinka from Finland was in town so we decided to head to the Pergamon to gaze at ancient artifacts.



The rug collection was so pretty! I love textile everything!





After leaving the museum, Marinka wanted to do a headstand so I caught one of her warming up between columns.



Finally, my remedy for rainy day sadness is always soup! If you're going to roll around on your bed like a panda, you might as well be waiting on soup to cook! This is my fail-safe recipe because it is so stinkin' easy and good for you.



Carrot Ginger Soup
Serves 4

4 big carrots washed, peeled, and cut into 1 cm rounds
2 medium sized (or 4 small) potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium sized onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups of water (enough to cover vegetables when cooking)
3 tbsp non-dairy creamer (optional)
parsley for garnish (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Place a soup pot* on the stove over high heat. Once heated, put in oil, garlic, and onions and toss until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, potatoes, and ginger and toss for an extra minute. Pour the water into the pot and wiggle the vegetables around until everything is immersed in water. Cover the pot and let the water come to a boil before reducing the soup down to low heat. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes.
Pierce a fork into the carrots and potatoes to make sure they are tender. Take an immersion blender and puree to liking (I prefer mind a bit chunky). At this point, you can add the creamer and mix it in with a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or parsley flakes. Serve with noodles if desired.

*The soup pot should be big enough to hold all vegetables and the water needed but not too wide that the water spreads out and is not enough to cover the vegetables.

Rainy Day at the Pergamon and Carrot Ginger Soup Recipe