Lush Ox Cheek Stew

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Since the last three recipes have been vegan friendly, I think it’s high time I shared one for all us meat enthusiasts out there. Now, when it comes to meat stews, I am probably one of the biggest fans as I’ve probably made over hundreds of different stew variations in my life and I have to say that this one is one of my all time favourites! Ox cheeks may not appear frequently on your menu but trust me, they should!

Ox cheeks, also known as beef cheeks are, as the name suggests, taken from the cow’s cheek muscles and are thus a very lean cut that’s packed with flavour and very affordable – in fact it’s known as one of the ‘cheap’ cuts. For best results, it’s best to cook them for a couple of hours on low heat, either on the stove or in the oven. This is the perfect recipe for a Saturday or Sunday as you can leave it to cook while you get on with your house chores and catch up on your favourite Netflix shows.

Recipe (yields 4 portions)

  • 500g ox cheeks, diced in chunky pieces
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 can white broad beans
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt an pepper
  • handful of fresh herbs (parsley, basil, mint)

Use a large saucepan and melt the coconut butter. Add the onions and chilli flakes and cook until onions become translucent. Add the ox cheeks and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring so the meat doesn’t stick to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and add a cup of water. Once the water evaporates, add the canned tomatoes and another cup of water and lower the heat. Leave it to cook for about 30 minutes, then add the beans. Cook for another 3-4 hours on low heat, adding water as needed. Once it’s done, add fresh herbs and season to taste. Serve with brown rice pasta and feta cheese.

Enjoy!

Love,

AS

No Bake Vegan Friendly Billionaire Bites

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I’d never been super enthusiastic about raw treats, simply because I always thought that desserts can’t really taste good if they are not baked. But once I tried a no bake granola for the first time (that will be on the blog at some point, bare with) I started experimenting more with making raw treats. And I have to say these billionaire bites are definitely my favourite so far. There’s just the right amount of gooey-ness from the date and peanut butter middle, crunchiness from the bottom cookie dough layer and chocolate decadence on top! SOOOOO GOOD! I’m not going to lie guys, these are super addictive – you have been warned 🙂 You can keep these in the fridge for up to three weeks and they are perfect to bring to work when you need some ‘destress’ sugar fix or to the gym for that refuel treat after a gruelling workout.

Recipe (yields 16 medium size bites)

Cookie dough:

  • 125g oat flour
  • 50g almond flour
  • 50g toasted hazelnuts, pulsed
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 70g dark chocolate (85%), chopped

Fudge:

  • 180g dates
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter, melted

Chocolate topping:

  • 50g dark chocolate (85%)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • coconut sugar (extra to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter

Take a medium size brownie tin, grease it and line it with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients for the cookie dough and spread it evenly in the tin. For the fudge, put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse it until you get a smooth gooey mixture. Spread it on top of the cookie dough layer. For the chocolate topping, melt all the ingredients in a  sauce pan on low heat and spread it on top of the two layers. Let the chocolate set for a while and then sprinkle coconut sugar on it. Leave the bites in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting them into squares. You can keep these in the fridge for up to three weeks, however if you’re anything like me, they will be gone much sooner than that.

Enjoy!

Love,

AS

Thai Lentils Vegan Winter Warmer

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I know what you are thinking – the self-proclaimed biggest meat eater is posting yet another vegan recipe?! Now, it is true that I love my meat but I also like experimenting with meat-free dishes as they can be just as delicious. I particularly like to use legumes as alternative protein source, not just because of their taste but also because they make a great thickener. So this spicy winter warmer jewel will not disappoint guys! It’s luscious, thick and full of flavour – the ultimate comfort food! You can make it ahead for the week and it’s the perfect option for a night in when all you want to do is snuggle on the couch with a bowl of warm and nutritious food. And it’s soooo simple to make! Perfect to have on its own or with rice. By the way – would you guess that the secret ingredient is cacao powder?! 🙂

Recipe (yields 4 portions)

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 big sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 can organic green lentils (no added salt)
  • 1 tbsp chilli paste
  • 1/2 can organic chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley

Heat a large pan, melt coconut butter and add the red onions. When the onions become translucent, add the chilli paste, turmeric, cacao and curry. Stir well and after about 3 minutes, add the sweet potatoes and about 5 spoons of the liquid from the lentils. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add lentils with the remaining liquid. Lower to medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes and coconut cream. Stir well and add fresh thyme and parsley. Cook for another 20-25 minutes on low heat, adding water if needed and stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving over brown rice or just on its own. Told you, super simple!

Enjoy!

Love,

AS

Meat-lover approved Vegan Curry

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I know I haven’t posted anything for a while and I deeply apologise for that! The past two weeks have been mental though – both with work, catching up with friends and trying to get everything sorted on time before the holidays. Is it just me or do you ever feel like Christmas is the most joyful, yet stressful time of the year? All the shopping, late nights, catch ups, midday bubblies and baking are super fun, but always leave both me and my family feeling absolutely shattered! No wonder why we so often get sick on Christmas. That said, it’s still my favourite time of the year by far 🙂

Anyhow, after the holidays I always have the need to tone it down with the treats and regain balance in my nutrition. But I’m not talking going into extremes and living off just salads, god no – I love life too much! I’m talking about making more wholesome, nutritious, veggie-boosted meals and cutting down on sugar and dairy. I also tend to make chicken and beef broth more often this time of the year as they help heal the gut from all the booze and food indulgences.

Another dish I love to make whenever I need to recover from rich food, yet still want something comforting is vegan curry. Now for a big meat-eater such as myself, that may come as a shocker but it does happen to me that I need the occasional  ‘break’ from  meat. But trust me, you really don’t miss it here as this curry is seriously luscious, full of flavour and on top of great taste it has both quinoa and chickpeas so you’re still getting loads of protein. I mean, even my dad had seconds when I made it for him and he doesn’t even like curry! Additionally, it’s a great dish when you’re meal prepping for the week as it stays in the fridge for several days and is convenient for freezing too. I love it with wild rice, but it goes great with white rice, couscous or even barley or spelt.

Recipe (yields 4-5 portions)

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 100g cavolo nero, roughly chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium size carrots, chopped
  • 1 red pepper (Romano), chopped into chunky squares
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 can coconut milk (2 if using low fat)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 2-3 handfuls fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • salt, pepper

Heat a large pan, melt the coconut butter and sweat the onions with chilli flakes until they become translucent. Add sweet potatoes and carrots, and continue stirring for roughly 5 minutes. Add water (just enough to cover the potatoes and carrots) and cook until boiling. Then add chickpeas (including the liquid) and simmer for another 10 minutes on medium heat. Add coconut milk, season with salt, pepper, curry powder and turmeric. Add cavolo nero, red pepper, quinoa and a handful of coriander. Cook for another 20-25 minutes before adding the remaining coriander. Let the curry sit for 10 minutes and serve with rice (I usually go with wild rice, but regular will do) and some chopped fresh coriander.

Enjoy!

Love,

AS

 

Winter Warmer Zagliatelle With Lamb And Beef Meatballs

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If you are looking for a heart warming, rich and satisfying winter warmer recipe but want to opt for a low carb option, look no further. These spicy lamb and beef meatballs with zucchini tagliatelle (or how I like to call them – zagliatelle) are perfect on a cold Sunday afternoon when you don’t feel like having roast but still want to treat yourself to a satisfying lunch.

This recipe is also perfect to make in advance and freeze, or if you are meal prepping for the week ahead as it will last in the fridge for a couple of days. Instead of zucchini, you can use sweet potato spaghetti, regular pasta or potato/cauliflower mash. Alternatively, you can dip in the yummy sauce with a slice or two of rustic bread. Honestly, goes well with everything!

Recipe (serves 4 people)

  • 4 medium size zucchini (I used yellow ones, but feel free to use any of your preference)
  • 300g lamb mince
  • 400g beef mince
  • 2 cans organic tinned tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, chopped into half circles
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped (use 2 tbsp for the meatballs)
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • handful chopped mint
  • handful chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • grated Parmesan and chopped fresh herbs (optional)

Start with the meatballs. In a bowl, combine all the meat mince, eggs, onions, almond flour, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne pepper, mint and parsley. Make sure all the ingredients are well combined. Form 12-16 meatballs and set aside on a plate.

Take a large sauce pan and heat the olive oil. Add chilli flakes and the remaining onions and cook until the onions become translucent. Add the meatballs and cook for 5 minutes, carefully turning them so they cook evenly. At this stage, if the meat is sticking to the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water to create some steam as it will prevent the meat from sticking too much. Add carrots and cook for another 3 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and stir well, again being careful with the meatballs so they don’t break. Lower to low-medium heat and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed. Season to taste.

For the zagliatelle, use a potato peeler to form the ‘pasta’. If you prefer, you can use a spiralizer for this and make regular veggie spaghetti. 5 minutes before the sauce is done, mix in the zagliatelle and cook for the remaining time. Once the sauce is done, let the it sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Serve with chopped fresh herbs and grated Parmesan, or just as it is.

Enjoy!

Love,

AS

No Bake Chocolate Fudge Cashew Butter and Hazelnut Slice

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Ok, these babies are sure to to hit that rich chocolate dessert craving! I’ve made them twice now and they are a true crowd pleaser. My friends from the gym absolutely love them, especially as they are dairy free, grain free and vegan friendly, yet they taste very decadent. The only sweeteners I used here are coconut sugar and maple syrup and instead of using grain flour, I opted for almond flour. I suggest keeping these in the freezer as they melt quite quickly. You can take them out 10 minutes before serving or have them straight as a yummy icy slice 🙂

Recipe (yields about 18 medium sized slices):

Cocoa-hazelnut layer:

  • 600g almond flour
  • 240ml maple syrup
  • Vanilla bean
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 4 handfuls roasted blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • (optional) 2 shots of strong espresso

Second layer:

  • 300g cashews (soaked for at least an hour)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4-5 tbsp almond milk
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut fat

Caramel sauce:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 150g coconut sugar
  • Vanilla bean

Chocolate coating:

  • 100g dark chocolate (85% or more)
  • 4 tbsp coconut fat

Start with the caramel sauce. Mix coconut milk with coconut sugar and vanilla bean in a saucepan and stir it with a whisk until until it starts boiling. Lower the heat and continue cooking the caramel sauce for about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally and scrapping the sides.

While the sauce is cooking, mix all the ingredients for the cocoa-hazelnut layer and shape the mixture into a ball and cut it in half. Take a medium size brownie tin, grease it and line it with parchment paper. Evenly spread one half of the cocoa-hazelnut mix and leave it to rest in the freezer.

For the cashew layer, put the nuts, the syrup and the milk in a food processor (powerful enough to deal with nuts!) and pulse it until you get a smooth and silky texture. You might need to pause the food processor and scrape the bits from the sides or give it a little bit of  a shake to get there.

Once the caramel sauce is done (you’re looking for a thick texture here) let it cool on the side for about 15-20 minutes. Then mix half of it in the cashew mix.

Spread half of the cashew-caramel mix on the the cocoa-hazelnut layer and let it sit in the freezer for 30 minutes. Take it out and repeat with the remaining mixtures, adding two additional layers.

For the chocolate coating, melt the chocolate bits and coconut fat over boiling water. Let it cool for a couple of minutes and then spread it on top of the 4 layers. Let it chill in the freezer for another 30 minutes, take it out and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce (I always end up with leftover caramel sauce in the end, but you can use it for other desserts or add it to smoothies, ice creams or fruit!).

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s best to keep these in the freezer and take them out 10 minutes prior to consuming.

These yummies go amazing with your midday coffee or as a treat after lunch when plain chocolate just doesn’t do the trick 😉

Enjoy!

Love,

AS

 

 

Hi-ya stranger!

Soooooo this blog has been a long time coming! I’ve been contemplating it for over two years now and it’s  just one of those things that you really want to do but for some reason keep holding it off as you want it to be perfect. But I’m done with excuses, this is it! It will be a learning curve for sure and even though it’s far from what I wanted my blog to look like, I’m glad I finally started it.

Given the name, I believe it’s quite obvious my blog will be dedicated to FOOD. It won’t be all peanut butter and jelly though! 🙂 For anyone that’s known me for more than 5 minutes knows that I am somewhat obsessed with food. Cooking, baking and reading about food is something I’ve always been really passionate about. My favourite thing about it is probably the emotional aspect of it. Just think about it – how many times has a certain dish taken you for a trip down memory lane to when you were a child or to your favourite summer holiday? Or how many times have you had a bite of something so delicious that you forgot all about the outside world and troubles and just relished the excitement going on in your mouth. No wonder people associate food with happiness so much.

More to the point, in recent years and with the rise of social media, food has become a worldwide obsession with everyone posting pictures of their dirty burgers, group brunches and home-baked goods. It may be annoying to some, but I’ll take food pics over selfies any day! And yes, I am one of THOSE people who love taking pictures of food wherever they go- so sue me!

Apart from being an absolute food-aholic, there’s a bit of a health and fitness freak in me as well and I love to indulge in foods with a healthier feature to them and to which your body responds better. On that note, I am a big proponent of moderation as well as I’ve learnt the hard way what excessive dieting and exercising might do to your body. To give you a quick overview on this, I started dieting when I was in my early teens (I know, if I could slap my teenage-self right now I would) which resulted in me losing a drastic amount of weight, only to gain double back a few months later. And this vicious cycle went on for years,  up to a point where I became quite ill and my body basically crashed. I was feeling depressed, did not want to socialise and I started to have severe pains in my joints that kept me awake at night. My skin was in a pretty bad condition and my hair started falling out.  My hands and arms up to my elbows were pretty much numb for the first couple of hours in the morning and I had no strength whatsoever so even doing light stretches felt too much for me. That was a clear sign that I needed to make a drastic change in my life.

Because I was dieting, I felt like I couldn’t enjoy good food anymore and would then either eat solely broccoli and steamed fish or go full out on pasta and cheese when I wanted to indulge. This led to me not enjoying food anymore which made me absolutely miserable. So when I decided to put my health first as opposed to physical appearance, and start seeing food again as a friend, not a foe, I started researching more about the health-side of food and how certain foods affect our metabolism and hormones and then trying to apply that knowledge in the kitchen. Seven years down the line, I am still learning and experimenting! I find it so interesting how our bodies react to the same foods differently over time. And I am definitely not a believer in one-size-fits all! There are so many factors contributing to how our bodies respond to certain foods, and not one reacts the same as the other – thus, it is a trial-and-error journey (like everything in life hey).

Whenever I’m developing a new recipe, my aim is to always try and make lush, comforting food that hits the spot and soothes the crave, but has less nasties and fuels your body so it can perform better on a daily basis and at different tasks. Like I mention earlier, I am a fitness freak too and as I do Crossfit at least 5 times a week, I need to fuel my body accordingly and keep it interesting as I don’t want to be stuck with boring meals.

You will mostly find recipes on my blog, from brekkie to dinner ideas to snacks and treats – all with a healthy (er) twist. I will also post tips on meal prepping, holiday baking and hosting dinner parties, with the odd restaurant review, video of me eating (ok, maybe not), food markets, healthy cheap bites and buys etc. – I mean who knows, I’ll play it by ear to be honest 🙂 Like I said, it will be a learning curve-type of process and I intend to enjoy the ride – hope you do to!

Love,

AS