Prague

Over the Olympic Break we were able to spend a few days off in Prague, Czech Republic .The eastern European architecture is absolutely stunning, especially on a sunny and cold winter day ( or walking at night!). There is so much vibrant culture in the city squares from live music, entertainers, monuments and hot food stands. Our favourite of these stands: the Treldnik. Treldnik is a pastry of dough rolled in cinnamon, sugar and slivered almonds then slow roasted over hot coals. We devoured approximately 2 per day….#notglutenfree, and totally worth it. Walks on the Charles Bridge, hot mulled wine, gothic rooftops, cobblestones, music and more made for four full and great days in beautiful Prague.

February really flew by too quickly, between this quick trip, my photography course and the Olympic events ( we had these on all the time…In Swedish, Czech and luckily a few times in English!). Oh, and did I mention our new family member? ( See photos below, and more in posts to come :) )

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And the photo I promised of our new buddy, who we have been waiting for since November! It has been a really exciting and fun month, which is not usually what I have said about many midterm and exam filled februaries. I’m grateful for this little doodle, he is a bundle of joy and we love having his goofy self around our apartment and out in the snow.

Sammy is a mini english goldendoodle, at 8 weeks & 12 weeks below.

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Sammy, 8 weeks

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Sammy, 12 weeks

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Sammy, 12 weeks

Healthy Hazelnut Cacao Spread

It’s a Beautiful Winter’s day. 

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Who knew ice could be so pretty? Unfortunately, it is really difficult to go for long outdoor walks (unless you walk with ice skates on…or those ice pick shoe add ons) so we are limited to where there are chunks of gravel to walk on. On the bright side, these beautiful trees were what happened when it snowed, melted, rained, and froze again.

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The recipe I’m posting today is not by any means new, or an original combo…just a makeover. It has been around for YEARS, and people have flocked to it’s commercial name with open arms and giant spoons and adoration. That’s right, i’m talking about Nutella. The thing is though, despite their commercials of Mom giving son Nutella and he’s happy and she’s the best mom ever…this stuff is just not healthy. I’m very sorry to break it to you, but it is not. And that by no means refers to the calories or the fat…it’s those interesting ingredients on this label that should be something pretty basic and whole food-like ( hazelnuts + cocoa + sweetness), that are far from. So please, make this recipe…your body and taste buds will be grateful to you!

Healthy Hazelnut Cacao Spread

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(aka, healthy Nutella )

makes~2 cups 

Ingredients:

2 cups hazelnuts

1/4 cup cacao powder

2 tablepoons pure cocoa powder

4 pitted dates + 1/4 cup hot water

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 cup almond milk

1-2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 -1 tsp powdered stevia* (alternative:1.5-2 tablespoons of honey)

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1/2 tsp sea salt

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1. Set oven to 350F

2. Place dates in 1/4 cup hot water to soak 

3. Roast hazelnuts in the oven for 7-8 minutes

4. Remove haleznuts, place in food processor and pulse blend until smooth

5. Add cacao, cocoa, dates +water , coconut oil, sea salt, almond milk and vanilla to processor

6. Add flax seeds and stevia (or honey) , process until smooth nut butter consistency

Let cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour .

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Sea Salt & Sesame Seed Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato lovers…look no further.

If sweet potatoes are not yet a staple in your household, try this recipe on for size and get acquainted with the colourful root vegetable here. These bright potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, D…and are amazingly versatile for both cooking and baking.

These are a great side dish for burgers or chicken dishes, or a snack on their own…I recommend making two pans for more than two people, because somehow this large serving seems to all disappear very quickly.

Sesame Sweet Potato Fries

Makes~1 medium pan of fries

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Ingredients:

500 g sweet potatoes ( one extra large, or two medium)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 large tsp of GF oat flour* ( *optional, but helps them crisp )

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 heaping tablespoon dried parsley

1/2 tablespoon olive oil**( **can use coconut oil as well)

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1.Preheat oven to 420F, line baking sheet with parchment or coat with tsp olive oil

2.Scrub outside of sweet potatoes, cut into wedges with skins on ( about thumb sized)

3. Toss all ingredients in a small bowl, coating most or all of the sweet potatoes with the olive oil

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. At 30 minutes, check to see if they are crispy on the outside. If not, place inside the oven for 5 minute intervals until ready to serve.

Best served hot, with ketchup, hummus or tahini dip.

Inspired by Jessica Cox’s Sesame Seed & Turmeric Sweet Potato Wedges

January Tunes & Olive Oil Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my vision board snippets for 2014: organize and rebuild my entire iTunes collection. When your iTunes is all properly labelled, orderly and you’ve finally downloaded that list you e-mailed and re-emailed to yourself ages ago…oh so satisfying. With that, comes some great playlists on replay. I love getting ideas from friends, TV shows, new artists or movies for these playlists and have recently been deleting to make room for some newbies. Some are old songs, some are new but I thought i’d share the music to my ears this month.

Jan 14′Playlist

The Lumineers- Stubborn Love

Luke Bryan- Drink a Beer

Lennon & Maisy – A Life That’s Good

Nashville (TV show) Soundtrack -What if I was Willing, Undermine

Chip Esten & Lennon Stella- Believing

Rudimental- Not Giving In

Zac Brown Band & Clare Bowen- Free/ Into the Mystic ( live)

Zac Brown Band- Goodbye In Her Eyes, Colder Weather, Keep Me In Mind

Major Lazer- Get Free

Maria Mena- I Always Liked That

Clare Bowen & Sam Palladio- I Will Fall

Billy Currington- Hey Girl

Ed Sheeran- I See Fire (Live), Lego House (Live), U.N.I

Jessie Ware- Wildest Moments

Bon Iver- Stacks, Blindsided

Emile Sande- Clown

Donovan Woods- Put On Cologne

Imagine Dragons- Demons, On Top Of The World

Emeli Sande- Next to Me ( Kendrick Lamar Remix)

Foster The People- Houdini

Andrew Belle- In My Veins

Black Keys- Tighten Up

The Naked and Famous- Punching in A Dream

Coldplay- Atlas

Et Voila! The various genres & tunes of my winter playlist. Hopefully it can help you get a new song for your own, or remind you of an old one. My cousin Robyn is going to remind me of the fact that I specifically requested One Direction story of my life to sing along to last weekend…and I’ll admit it, that absolutely did happen. I’d also highly recommend it as a girls night out sing along, but it hasn’t quite made it’s way to the winter playlist yet.

After a beautiful winter walk today ( some sunny iPhone shots below) , I put this playlist on shuffle for a baking filled sunday afternoon. It was one of those days where I did not want to burn or have to make excuses for a sad excuse of a crumbling-like-granola cookie ( happens fairly often when experimenting with recipes). So, I pulled up my go-to cookie recipe that still had all of our favourite ingredients. This is a recipe that makes a fairly small batch, and is great if it is just a couple of you in a household. Simple, fast, healthy and crazy good are how I would describe these cookies…I make them at least once a week, but they are probably requested more often than that.

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Healthy Olive Oil Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes- Approximately 10 cookies

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups Oat Flour

4-5 tablespoons coconut sugar**

4 tablespoons finely shredded coconut

4 tablespoons of chopped dark chocolate (or chips)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup chopped pecans or macadamia nuts

6 tablespoons almond milk

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

**can add stevia instead of a 5th tablespoon

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  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Mix all dry ingredients into small bowl
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry, adding the chocolate last
  4. Bake on baking sheet ( doesn’t need to be lined or greased) for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown
  5. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Eat all the cookies

Home for the Holidays & Green Smoothie Goodness

Finally, back in North Sweden after a lovely month home for the holidays. the 20 plus hours of travel was worth the while for a visit in Vancouver, despite my neighbour…a sleepy stranger whose feet sprawled onto my seat and my lap on and off for the 10 hour Vancouver-London flight. She slept sideways quite comfortably for the entire duration ( oh yes, that did happen!).  Christmas flew by in its usual way, full of laughter, fun and family shenanigans.  Time with family is so precious when you spend much of your year overseas or away from where you grew up. I find myself entering 2014 more grateful than ever for a wonderful family,  and friends both near and far away.  

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Yep, I love those peoples. Holidays and home time also meant more time for photography, outdoors runs ( since Vancouver seems to lack a real winter…not that i’m complaining),  yoga, seeing friends and spring planning. The photos below are some walks with Timber our beloved old dog, and one of my dad’s indoor gardening projects. He has a knack for many projects and hobbies,  with a talented green thumb being one of them. I also began my first vision board for 2014…which was both fulfilling and very messy. I apologize Jilly for the living room table chaos (aka little magazine letter cutouts, photos, tape and glue sticks absolutely everywhere).

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Oh, and did I mention I also did some serious slow cooking and blending? This (naturally) involved a surplus of chopping . My cousin Brad likes to tell me that every time he comes out for sunday dinner, I am chopping something in the kitchen…what can I say , I am fruits and vegetables kind of gal.  The result of this kitchen experimentation was a new green smoothie recipe, suitable for even those who hear the word green smoothie and bolt from the room in fear that they’ll have to drink one ( not pointing to anyone in particular…like my boyfriend…or anything). This smoothie is full of healthy fats from avocados, antioxidants from the berries and fiber from flax and chia seeds. Healthy nutritional profile aside, the taste is creamy, sweet and perfect for the start of the day.  Almond butter lovers rejoice, because this one is also for you! The pudding/ice cream-like consistency is an added bonus from the frozen bananas, giving the option of eating with a spoon & added toppings.

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Maple Blueberry Green Smoothie

Makes: 1 very large or two small/medium servings ; What you’ll need: a Blender or food processor, measuring cups/spoons

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Ingredients:

11/2 cups liquid (almond, hemp or skim milk)

Big handful of spinach or kale

1 frozen banana

1/4 avocado

2-3 teaspoons maple syrup

1/2-1 tablespoon almond butter

3/4 cup frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

5-6 ice cubes

1-2 dates for added sweetness, soaked in warm water * (optional)

Stevia for added sweetness, to taste* (optional)

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1. Soak dates in warm water for at least 5 minutes ( so they blend more easily)

2. In a blender, Add liquid and frozen ingredients ( bananas, blueberries, icecubes)

3. Mix in chia, flax, maple syrup, almond butter, avocado and spinach

4. Blend until smooth, refrigerate for at least 10 minutes for chia seeds to expand and thicken the smoothie

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This smoothie is fairly thick depending on how much liquid you use, and can be topped with the likes of granola, coconut flakes, goji berries or hemp seeds to eat with a spoon. For those in a hurry, it is just as good on the go without the add ins. Despite cold winter weather, this smoothie is great all year round and a filling and healthy start to the day without having to add any protein powders or supplements…just pure, whole food goodness.

Happy blending & Happy new years!

Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crumble

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I love apples. I really, really love apples. In fact to make this particular dessert I drove (much to my discomfort) through the first snow storm of the winter season to get these apples. I am completely out of my league when driving in snow, and if you’ve ever driven in Europe you know what I mean when I say roundabouts (or rotaries, as my American friends tell me) are everywhere. I really thought I was getting the hang of those until the snow came and the lines inside the roundabouts disappeared. Wait, now where do I go, the far lane? Where IS the far lane? Do I still signal? Everyone is staring at me! Story of my life. If my Mom is reading this right now she is laughing, because when she came to visit I mentioned my paranoia of people staring at me funny while I drive…and she pointed to the massive advertising on the side of our car as in…hmm, I think I know why. She may or may not be right about that, but I still think my roundabout technique could use some touching up.

The important part of this story is not my lack of foreign driving expertise, but instead the fact that I DID get the apples, with this appetizing winter crumble being the result. This is a sure crowd pleaser and can be adapted for any season: berries for spring and summer, nectarines for fall, apples for winter. To quote my boyfriend on this crisp, “You’ve turned your creative skills into baking…which is way better for me, since I can’t eat paintings but I can definitely eat this “. To enjoy this crumble as he does, use a vanilla bean ice milk or cream when serving. For the lactose intolerant like myself, you can try this easy two ingredient banana soft serve and use almond or oat milk instead.  I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oat flour and oats for the topping, but it would work with any rolled oats and flour of similar texture (spelt, whole grain, etc.) For best results, I recommend granny smith apples for this recipe.

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Makes ~ 1 medium sized baking dish of crumble, or two small dishes

Ingredients (For filling):

7 granny smith apples

2 tsp oat flour

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tsp coconut oil

2 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon of coconut or muscavado (*or stevia, to taste)

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Ingredients ( For topping):

1 cup oat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup pecans and almonds, chopped

1/2 cup coconut sugar or muscavado (* if using stevia, use 1/4 cup coconut sugar + stevia to taste)

2 tablespoons flax seeds

3.5 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil, melted ( * I used a blend of both)

3 tablespoons of warm/hot water

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional) 

pinch of clove (optional)

1/4 tsp sea salt

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Preheat oven to 350F (175 C)

For filling

  1.  Wash and peel half of the apples, keeping half of the apples with skin on. Cut into regular sized slices
  2. Saute apples with water and coconut oil in pan until softer ( but not mushy or fully cooked through), adding in lemon juice, flour and sugar at the end
  3. Grease with coconut oil the baking dish, then fill the dish with apple filling ( if water remains in the pan, drain this out in the sink, do not add to dish)

for topping

  1. Add in a mixing bowl the flour, oats, & all dry ingredients
  2. Using warm water in a small mug, melt coconut oil by mixing with the warm water. Add olive oil if using the blend. Mix until it is liquid consistency.
  3. Pour liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, mix until topping is slightly moist with no dry flour left at the bottom ( add small amounts of warm water until this is achieved). *For those using stevia, add to your own preference for desired sweetness
  4. Crumble topping on top of apple filling until apples are mostly or all covered, depending on dish size
  5. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to cool…this will also make your kitchen and house smell of amazing cinnamon spice.

Best enjoyed shared with company and in very, very large bowls…Happy baking!

Sweden Adventures & The Disappearing Hummus

Today marks the four months mark since moving from Vancouver, B.C to a little town in Northern Sweden. We were lucky to catch the end of summertime in Sweden, especially way up north where the sky was full of light past midnight . Those warm sun filled days have long since passed, and daylight is sparse here by the end of November. No, I don’t mean the sun sets at 4:00 pm. We’re talking rising at 8:30 am and setting just before 2:00 pm. Word on the street is that by december 21st, the sun will only rise for three hours on that day between 11 and 2 pm (3 hours ?!). It is definitely an adventure and there are some unexpected perks to these dark days. One being a new found love for sleep, which during university I did little to none of. Two being the christmas markets that have arrived, which are incredibly european, festive and cheerful. The last is that these early sunsets light up the sky like this after a sunny day (pardon the iPhone quality)…

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IMG_4338IMG_4334IMG_4234It is pretty spectacular. Not to mention the spoils of trails, hiking and forests surrounding us ( runner’s paradise).

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DSC_3081 DSC_3048Another chapter in our book of adventures.

Without further ado and on a very different note…the star of this post:

Hummus! and more hummus. Can’t get enough of this hummus, and apparently neither can our household because it seems to always be running out. In fact when I go searching for it in the fridge to use, it’s usually gone or there are  large dip marks of bread in it…hence the disappearing. Hummus is a great kitchen staple and can be used in place of unhealthy store bought dips and mayonnaise. It can be changed around so many different ways (basil, roasted red pepper, pesto, lebanese…the list goes on) you never have to make the same kind twice. I’m a big fan of all varieties, but this one is topping the list right now for go-to hummus recipe.

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Caramelized Onion Hummus, aka “The Disappearing Hummus”

~ Makes : ALOT of hummus!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of chickpeas

3 tablespoons chickpea reserve or water

4 tablespoons of lemon

1 tablespoon of olive oil

4 garlic cloves

2 onions

3 tablespoons of tahini

1 tsp sea salt

Optional garnish: Parsley, Basil or Paprika & olive oil drizzle

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  1. Sauté onions in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown
  2. Add into food processor the rest of olive oil, tahini, lemon, garlic cloves, chickpea reserve (or water) and chickpeas
  3. Blend until smooth
  4. Add caramelized onions to mixture and blend until smooth
  5. Let cool in fridge for at least 1hour, or until cold