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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Almond Maca Energy Bites

Over the last months I have done a lot of research on nutrition and the benefits of the so-called super foods. In times, where high performance is key, I was wondering where I could get my energy from and more precisely, which foods I could get it from. I am not a fan of energy drinks or supplements, that's why I got interested in which foods could provide me with what elements in order to stay energized the whole day.

 At some point I discovered Maca, a root cultivated in a narrow, high-altitude zone of the Andes in Peru. This root was already cultivated 2500 years ago. The Incas, cultivated, dried and transformed it into powder for centuries, and it has emerged as one main source of income for the people of the Andes.

Maca has many benefits, but the one I was interested in was its boosting effect. For centuries it has been used to fight fatigue among the indigenous peoples. Combined with dates, almonds, and chia seeds it makes up for a perfect snack. These additional ingredients provide also loads of goodness to compose this healthy snack. Chia seeds for instance are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber as well as various micronutrients. The dates however are a great source of potassium and rich in copper. They also contribute to keep you full for a long time hence curbing the cravings. 

Now you know which power-packed snack I consume. I can assure you that 2-3 balls keep you going for hours. As this recipe is in regular rotation in my home, I have offered these balls, to some of my friends. It would also make a great recipe for my 'Gifts from the Kitchen' section. My friends also recommend them as pre- or post-workout snacks, which I can perfectly understand for the reasons mentioned above. 

 For about 30 balls you need:

460g roughly chopped Medjool dates
270g raw almonds
45g cacao raw powder
2,5 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
2tbsp maca powder
2tbsp chia seeds

Place the almonds into your food processor and pulse until they're completely crushed. Pit the dates, chop them and add them to the food processor. Pour in the cacao powder, almond butter and coconut oil, pulse again until all the ingredients are well-combined. Now add the chia seeds and maca powder and mix again until you get an even mixture.

Place the mixture into a medium sized bowl. Now roll the mix into equally sized balls. In order for the balls to set well, place them into the freezer for 45 minutes. Then put them into an airtight container and store in the fridge. 


Monday, February 15, 2016

White Chocolate Raspberry Pralines

No, this is no cheesy belated Valentine's blog post. Actually, this blog post is again about sharing love through food. You remember when I recently published my first recipe for the 'gifts from the kitchen' section. I couldn't help but repeat myself; edible gifts are always the best gifts. Sometimes, one just doesn't need a special occasion, sometimes it's just because you want to say thank you or show some love.

I would say that rather often, when we're invited to a dinner party we tend to bring a bottle of wine or flowers, which are definitely nice gifts as well. But as a foodie at heart, I decided I would rather go for homemade gifts in the future. Many recipes are easy to make and allow you to bring something more personal. 

Not so long ago I bought these little praline molds and. The plan was, to prepare some pralines for Christmas to offer them to my colleagues. But as usual, the holiday season is a very busy season. Everyone wants to complete their projects and that's why I didn't' really manage to experiment in the kitchen. Just a few days ago, while daydreaming about yummy food again, I had this idea about making some pralines at last. 

I was lucky enough that all the crafting stores were selling decorative hearts because of Valentine's Day. Well.. at least this allowed me to find some details to decorate my packaging. As you can see in the picture, even the gift tag spreads some love. One thing I can ensure, that these gifts are definitely 'made with love'.

For 30 pralines you need:

450g white chocolate
100g raspberries
red food coloring paste

Melt the chocolate over a hot water bath until completely molten. Add the food coloring paste an set aside. Put the raspberries into your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. 

Take one teaspoon and place the chocolate into the silicone heart mold. Then add half a teaspoon of raspberry purée to it. Finally place another spoon of chocolate until the mold is full. Repeat. Once you filled all the hearts, cool in the fridge for half an hour. 

Once cooled, pop out of the mold and enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chocolate Baileys Cake

Do you know that feeling when you work on a chocolate cake recipe, taste the outcome and think: wow this is the best chocolate cake I have ever made. When it comes to chocolate cake I am really hard to please. Chocolate cake is my favorite cake, but it really has to have the right texture, the right amount of chocolate and also most importantly the right balance between chocolate and sugar. It should neither be too sweet nor to bitter. Only recently I've tasted one of the best chocolate cakes in my life, and if I am lucky enough, my colleague will hand the recipe over to me so I can try it for very special occasions. When I tasted his birthday cake, I was just amazed. With half of the cake in my belly, I was wondering what made this chocolate cake so special. It took quite a while until I found out. But I would say, as mentioned above it is the balance between chocolate and sugar; neither too sweet, nor too bitter.

I am not too much of a fan of boozy cakes, except for Rum and Baileys. I love rum truffles and all kind of baileys treats. When I was in high school, a friend of mine gave me this delicious chocolate cake recipe, which my grandpa then took as a base for his chocolate ganache cake. I inherited the recipe and added an extra note, notably the Baileys note. I was experimenting several times with the amount of Baileys until I finally came to the end result of this cake.

I took it too work, and within seconds it was fully approved. Three quarter of the cake were gone in only one afternoon. Fair enough, I saved the last quarter for my parents, to let them see what I transformed grandpa's cake into. I found it would be a perfect Christmas recipe, because of the booziness on one hand and the lovely Baileys taste on the other, which makes a great treat for the festive season.

For the cake you need:
160g butter
100g good quality dark chocolate
200g brown sugar
45g cocoa powder
180ml Baileys
180g flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
3 eggs


For the ganache you need: 
200g dark chocolate
120ml liquid cream
80ml Baileys

Preheat the oven to 175°

Chop the chocolate first, then take 100g for the cake. In a saucepan, heat the butter and chocolate over medium heat until completely melted. Add the sugar, cocoa powder as well as the Baileys and whisk together until you get a silky and lump-free mixture. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until you get an even dough. Add the eggs and mix again. Now you can pour the dough into a buttered cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. 

In a saucepan, bring the liquid cream and Baileys to a simmer. Add the remaining chocolate and stir regularly until it has completely molten. 

Set the liquid ganache aside at room temperature. Stir every now and then, to avoid clumps, until thick enough to spread over the cake. 


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Triple Spice Baked Apple Oatmeal

A week of testing has come to an end. And yes I can confirm, I just can't get enough of this triple spice baked apple oatmeal. I am really delighted to share this breakfast recipe with you. I would even say it is the best breakfast treat that I have ever prepared. Next to being really delicious, it is also very convenient for all those who are no morning persons at all. I am not a morning person either, but I can ensure you that every single morning of this week I was looking forward to get ready in a heartbeat to finally savour a bowl of baked oatmeal. I added some little extra almond milk before heating it up. It would remain chunky without a problem and not resemble a usual porridge at all.

I am not sure how I could top my breakfast ever again, but I am really happy I discovered baked oatmeal. Apple-cinnamon is a great combination of which can result so many healthy comfort foods. In my quest to delivering some more delicious breakfast ideas, I will play around with these two ingredients a little more often I'd say. Many people don't like fall, but I really appreciate what the season has to offer. I am therefore also very happy that I can add yet another recipe to the apple collection. It's such a simple product, which reveals so many different flavors. I couldn't name many more with the same attribute.

For one large dish you need:

350g rolled oats
25g brown sugar
500ml almond milk
75g apple sauce
2 chopped apples
1 chopped pear
12 chopped walnuts
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground vanilla
4 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 180°

In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients, notably the rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon, ground vanilla, baking powder, ground ginger and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, mix well the almond milk, applesauce and maple syrup. Stir well until the liquids are well combined. 

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until you get an even mixture. Now add the chopped fruits, mix again until the fruits are well spread. Pour the oat mixture in a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the walnuts over the dish. Press them a little down into the oatmeal with your fingers.

Put the casserole dish into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Once well baked, let the oatmeal cool down for 10 minutes. 

As mentioned above, you may easily keep it 5 days in the fridge and heat it up in small portions. Drizzle a little almond milk over the oatmeal to keep moistness.  


Monday, October 26, 2015

Maple-glazed Apple Oat Cookies

This is the very first post of my 'gifts from my kitchen' series. Cooking and baking are my passion, that's not a secret. But I also love tasting creative homemade recipes from my friends. I am surrounded by many passionate cooks or bakers and I am always happy when they bring along their treats. Many of my friends say that when I am eating, I am not simply eating, I am celebrating food. Well, that's right. Whereas many people just eat to survive, I really enjoy it. I love taking time to prepare my meals whether it be quick recipes or three course menues. I put all my love for food in it and that's why I was thinking about dedicating a whole page to this passion on my blog. 

There are so many occasions in life where you want to thank somebody for their help or support, where you want to comfort your beloved in difficult times or just want to bring along something delicious to have a cup of tea of coffee. Cooking or baking is love made edible and that's what will be spread in this section of the blog.

These apple oat cookies are a lovely treat for fall. I prepared some delicious homemade apple sauce with the apples I bought at the apple orchards in Steinsel two weeks ago. It was the first time I went there, but it was quite an adventure. There were so many different types of apples that it was difficult to choose one specific kind. Sure there are some that are better for baking or cooking, but the unique flavors of apples can transform a simple recipe into an amazing treat. For my applesauce I opted for Boskoop, because of its slightly acid note. The outcome was amazing. 

I am preparing so many things with oats these days. The nice little bag you see here above was a gift for my good friend Susanna, who recently, by simply sharing ink on Facebook contributed to an important change in my life. To thank her for this great move, I offered her a large bag of cookies.
This morning I took the half of the batch to work to collect feedback from my colleagues. My taste buds already approved them yesterday morning, but it's always good to collect a second opinion outside of my own kitchen. So far, no one complained and one even qualified them as the perfect fall cookies. 

For around 25 cookies you need:

180g brown sugar
80g caster sugar
50g butter
1 egg
160g rolled oats
200g flour
120g chunky apple sauce
1 tsp baking powder
110g sultanas

For the icing you need:
200g icing sugar
3tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 175°

In a large bowl whisk together the butter, the caster sugar and brown sugar. Add the egg and the apple sauce. Mix until you get an even batter. Now add the oats, the flour and the baking powder. Mix again then add the sultanas. 

With two table spoons form little cookies and put them on the baking tray. Be careful to let a certain distance between each of them, because with the heat they might flatten a little bit.

Banke for 12-15 minutes.

Once taken out of the oven, let them cool down several minutes on the baking tray before you place them on the cooking tray.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chunky Red Lentil Soup

I have never been indifferent about what I was eating. Raised in a home where we always consumed fresh products, I was taught from the very beginning how important it is to wisely choose ingredients. Later on, when I moved to the south of France and had to cook for myself, I always went to the green markets to buy my fruits and veggies. And also nowadays, I get really annoyed when I have to eat plastic meals, which unfortunately, sometimes seems to be just inevitable.

Over summer I decided to take care again more consciously of my body and health. I was very active and went to the gym much more often. The more I moved the hungrier I became. At some point I decided to learn a little more about nutrition and what ingredients would really help me to build strength and fuel my body with energy. I have no intention to give up on meat, but still I found that there are many more foods that provide you with protein, iron etc..

The health benefits of lentils are numerous, nonetheless it seems they are highly underestimated. They include high protein content on one hand and contribute to a healthy heart, diabetes and cancer control on the other. During my research I found out that lentils are a rich source of essential amino acids such as isoleucine and lysine. They are also a god source of micronutrients like vitamins or minerals.

It seems that to date, lentils are considered to be the plant that provides the highest amount of protein. The amount of protein generated from lentils equals around up to 35%. This rate is comparable to red meat, poultry, fish or even dairy products. A positive side effect however is, that they are the ideal source of protein without adding any extra fat to the body.

For 4 large servings you need:

530g red lentils
1/2 yellow onion
1 fist-size baking potato
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground curry
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 pinch of salt
1,6L vegetable broth
chopped coriander 
1 tbsp olive oil

In a medium-sized pot prepare the vegetable broth. 

Then start chopping the onion, peeling the potato and cut it into cubes. Chop the carrot as well, then mince the garlic. Now rinse the red lentils to have all the ingredients ready and start cooking.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and let it sauté for around 3 minutes until golden brown. Now throw in the potato cubes and the chopped carrot. Sauté for another 2 and a half minutes, then add the garlic. 

Pour in the vegetable broth, then add the lentils and let them simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Straight after haven thrown the lentils in, add all the spices one at a time. Stir your soup every now and then in order to avoid it to burn. 

Once your lentils start falling apart and are beyond al dente you can turn off the heat. Depending on how chunky you want them to be let them simmer another 5 minutes if you prefer them softer. 

Serve with fresh chopped coriander.


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