Sunday fun day in Gruyères, with a visit to the chateaux. The mountains are absolutely incredible from this area of Switzerland, with towering heights and lush rolling green in every direction. The castle is supposedly the oldest in Switzerland, but has been preserved inside and out for visitors to explore year round. The countryside drive to get there is enough to be charmed by Gruyères, but the art exhibition at the top of the castle stole my heart. Truly a beautiful place.
It’s been a beautiful westcoast summer. As always, it flew by far too quickly and goodbyes came all too soon. A move home from Sweden, new community/house, an engagement, lake time, weddings and most recently a move over to Switzerland….let’s just say suitcases definitely get good usage in this fam-jam. The crisp feeling of fall is in the air, and it’s time for us to unpack our bags and make a home on our expat journey. Here’s to an unforgettable summer 2014 with some highlights via iPhone & my Nikon, and engagement photos from the incredibly talented Christie Graham Photography.
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 :) )
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.
It’s a Beautiful Winter’s day.
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.
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
(aka, healthy Nutella )
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 .
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
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.
Inspired by Jessica Cox’s Sesame Seed & Turmeric Sweet Potato Wedges
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.
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
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.
Healthy Olive Oil Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes- Approximately 10 cookies
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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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- Preheat oven to 375F
- Mix all dry ingredients into small bowl
- Add wet ingredients to dry, adding the chocolate last
- Bake on baking sheet ( doesn’t need to be lined or greased) for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown
- Let cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Eat all the cookies
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.
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).
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.
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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11/2 cups liquid (almond, hemp or skim milk)
Big handful of spinach or kale
1 frozen banana
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
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!