Archive for ‘Recipes’

October 13, 2014

hazelballs

Preparing food is one of those things that tent to end up somewhere on the bottom of my list when I have little time. Of course I make sure I eat, and most of the time I eat pretty healthy in my own opinion. When I do have time, like last weekend, I always like it to spend some time in my kitchen to try new ideas. Mostly new ideas evolve around foods that I do not regularly have in my home but end up being here anyway. This time I had about 100 grams of hazelnuts waiting for me on my kitchen table and I figured those would make an awesome high energy but still healthy (and paleo) snack. It was a simple process and I really do like the outcome. Here is what I did:

What you need:

  • 100 grams hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tea-spoon cinnamon
  • 1 tea-spoon very dark grated chocolate
  • Mortar & pestle (or a kitchen machine if you go for bigger quantities)
  • Serving plate

What to do:

hazelnut1Start with stamping the hazelnuts into small pieces with the mortar and pestle. You will see some oily substance emerging in your mixture. I myself prefer pieces that are about half a millimeter to a millimeter big, but if they are bigger or smaller it will only change the substance. If you go for the kitchen machine, make sure not to grind the nuts to a paste.

hazelnut3Now, coconut oil is an oil that will reach solid stage quite fast under room temperature. Depending on where you are living, your coconut oil might be liquid or solid, either way, it is usable for this treat so don’t worry about it too much and definitely do not heat your oil before using it. It will change the structure of the oil and turn it into something less healthy.

 

hazelnut2Add the coconut oil and the honey and mix these together until a sticky mass starts to form. I myself used the pestle to mix it all and stamp the last big pieces at the same time. Add the cinnamon and the chocolate (you can use more or less if you like or dislike the taste of any of these two). Mix it all together so the taste is equally divided through the substance.

hazelnut4Use a tea-spoon to scoop out some of the substance and squeeze it into a ball in the palm of your hand. You will notice some of the oil being squeezed out of the ball when you squeeze harder. Put the little ball on a plate in such manner it won’t touch the others. Once you squeezed all the substance into little balls, cover the plate and put it in the refrigerator for about half an hour. The coconut oil, honey and chocolate will turn into a solid substance again and the balls are ready to be eaten.

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Of course you can alter the spices to your likings. I can imagine they taste great as well with some piri piri, anise or cranberries. Let me know what your variation to these little balls of energy is!

1 of these balls consists of approximately 75-80 calories, don’t indulge on them too much ;).
(per piece approximately: fat: 6.9 grams, saturated fat:0.6 grams, carbohydrates: 10,2 grams, protein: 1.2 grams, fibers: 0.8 grams)

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January 12, 2014

Learning Challenge #2: Comfort soup

For me, cooking is a comfort that is so basic and so unique that it does not stop to amaze me. The activity offers me time to think about things without getting too much attached to the emotions that come with it. Cooking offers me this comfort more than the actual eating but some foods are naturally comforting. Pea soup is one of the favourite winter meals of the Dutch and for most people definitely counts as comfort food. After a week that turned my heart heavy, there couldn’t have been a better moment to learn how to make pea soup, from a dear friend, than today.

1601205_3794773683919_584836644_nAs I arrived at Vera her house, the first thing that I noticed was her warm smile welcoming me from the gallery of the building she lives in. I was not the only one learning today. Suzanne, a friend and former colleague of Vera, joined in today and Vera was more than prepared to teach both of us to make a good pot of comforting pea soup, but not before: coffee!

I have known Vera ever since the first day of secondary school and we cannot meet without talking about how she broke her front teeth due to me and cats. Happily Suzanne is also a cat lover so the tree of us naturally talked about cats as we petted Helmut and Lore. “Time to get to work, there is plenty of time to chat later”, were the first directions Vera gave us, and of course we listened. Now there are many stories about pea soup. There might even be more recipes out there than stories. Many of these stories say how difficult the making of a good pot of pea soup is, but Vera ensured us that making pea soup is everything but difficult, it just takes time.

120120143226For starters, using the correct ingredients is the basis of every soup. Vera had already soaked the dried peas and divided the ingredients so both Suzanne and I could make our own pot of soup. I myself, being brought up with garlic in almost every dish, was rather surprised to hear there was no garlic in this soup, but there were plenty of other tasty vegetables! For 4 – 5 liters of soup, we used 500 grams of dried peas (soaked overnight), 2 leeks, 3 onions, 1 potato, half of a celeriac, a hand full of chopped celery, pork meat and pork sausage and about 8 bouillon cubes.

Now the steps were very easy. First put the peas, with loads of water (filling the pan) in the pot. Add the meat when the water is boiling. Clean the vegetables peel if necessary and cut all the vegetables in pieces.  Then: Make a pot of tea, or hot choco, or any other preferred beverage and go back to what you were doing: In our case chatting about cats. At a certain point, the pork meat will be done and needs to be taken out of the pot. Now, add the vegetables and go back to what you were doing again, preferably with yet another nice drink.

120120143227After about half an hour or a bit more if the conversation is interesting, it is time for a little bit of work! Time to puree the soup. Before we did so, we separated (most of) the vegetables from the stock. “Leave some of the vegetables in the stock”, said Vera, “so you can recognize what you eat, and it looks nice too. When it comes to the effort you put into pureeing, some like their soup smooth and soft, others like it with bits and pieces in it, so pick something that suits your taste.” Suzanne took a vastly different approach than I did. I left quite some vegetables in the stock when I divided the two and I like my bits and pieces. Suzanne put some more effort in the dividing part and she loved to puree. After turning the vegetables in a mash and cutting the meat in pieces, we stirred the mash back through the stock, adding the meat (all of it!) and bouillon cubes. Now, all there was left to do was KEEP STIRRING! And so we did.

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Vera was observing our hard work, tasting our soups and suggesting to add some pepper and salt to the soup. She was a true supervisor during the entire day, but not without leaving us choices. It were exactly those choices, and a bit more water in one of the pots, that resulted in two slightly different soups. Now, the proof of the soup is in the eating and there was never any doubt about us tasting the soup right after the making, however, a night of rest will do help the development of taste and structure of the soup. After the first bowl of soup, both Suzanne and Vera  had enough, but I just needed to know the difference. If I had to pick one of them, I would not have been able to pick the best one, since both of them were decent, good and delicious pea soups.

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All and all the entire experience of making the soup, taking time to share stories about cats, work and relationships, cuddling with the cats, and eventually eating the soup, resulted in a happy tummy, a comforted heart and a smile on all of our faces. I think the most important thing I learned about pea soup today is: Take your time (and put in as much meat as you want).

Thank you Vera Sanders for this wonderful and well prepared soup workshop and thank you Suzanne for sharing the experience with me!

Curious about my next experience? It will be driving electrical go-karts with Gordon de Munck and of course I will write a blog about it! Think you can teach me something? Let me know!

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September 4, 2013

Dinner: Hot and cold

Last week I shared one of my lunch recipes that I make when I do not have that much time to prepare lunch. Did you try it? Did you like it? Well, lunch is not the only meal I make in a rush during the day. When it has been a sunny day and it is starting to cool down in the evening, my body wants to go out and work-out. My mind wants to wander during an hour filled with exercises. Though, after a day at the office, I need to eat first. And yeah, there are many many other reasons why I like a dinner that is easy to prepare.

After eating this dish, I usually wait about 45 minutes before I actually go outside, or I eat it after my work-out. It only takes me about 20-25 minutes to prepare.

For 1 person:

  • 50 grams of mixed (ready to eat) lettuce260820132809
  • 1 handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 100-150 grams of sliced chicken breast
  • some oil (I used olive oil)
  • optional: red pepper and / or paprika flakes (pul biber), chili and / or pepper
  • optional: lemon juice (less than a teaspoon)
  • optional: desert of grapes or strawberries

Put a frying pan on a low fire and add about a tablespoon of oil. Peel the garlic gloves and put them in the frying pan in one piece. Peel the onion and cut it into small bits. Add it to the garlic and oil after about three minutes. Glaze the onion in about 5 -7 minutes.

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While you are glazing the onion, take out a plate and put the lettuce on there. Cut the tomatoes into quarters.  spread them over the lettuce. When your budget is low, you can go for cheaper lettuce options and use 1 or 2 normal tomatoes instead of the cherry or grape tomatoes.

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When the onion is glazed nicely, add the pieces of chicken and the rosemary. At this point you can also add the Pul biber or some chili and pepper. Keep the fire low and slow fry the chicken in about 6-8 minutes. When you want to reduce frying time, use thinner slices of chicken breast. You can also buy a filet of chicken and cut it yourself, this might be a cheaper option, but make sure the pieces are small so they won’t be pink after frying them. Stir the chicken regularly.

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After frying the chicken, take out the rosemary and add the chicken onion mixture to the plate. I myself like to eat it with a glass of water next to it and sometimes I add a little bit of lemon juice to give it an extra fresh taste.

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In for a desert? What about finishing the meal with a nice bowl of grapes or strawberries?

August 26, 2013

The lunch box 2.0

As some of you might know, I really like the philosophy of the Paleo diet. I do not see a diet as something temporarily. I see my diet as permanent food choices. I choose to combine simple ingredients with mostly simple recipes, as my main focus throughout the week is on my day job, sports, music and the e-zine I work for. I am not strict when it comes to eating Paleo: I need a pizza now and then!

Lately I get a lot of questions about what I eat, and also about the recipes I use, so I decided to put on one of my recipes again. I get the most questions about my lunch. This recipe is quite easy and therefore I really like to make it when I am in a little bit of a hurry. If I miss out on any information here, feel free to let me know, so I can alter it a bit.260820132800

For 1 person:

  • 1 Zucchini
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Tomato
  • Some oil

Clean the garlic and slice it. Put a frying pan on a small fire and put some oil in it (about 1 teaspoon). Add the slices of garlic. Wash the Zucchini and cut of the ‘head and tail’. Slice the zucchini (don’t peel it!). Put the slices in the pan. Stir them a little bit so the garlic and oil mixes with the slices of zucchini. Add the eggs. I myself use the eggs as they are, but when you like it, you can whisk them with some milk (or almond milk) before adding them. Do not stir after adding.

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Now, the most difficult part is done. Make sure the fire is not too hot, you don’t want burned zucchini with eggs. While you wait for the dish to slowly fry, you can wash the tomato and dice it up. When the egg is almost done, you can flip parts of the dish in the pan so the last slimy bits get some heat as well, but you can also just leave it as it is, depending on your personal taste. Take the pan off of the fire and let the dish cool down while you drink your coffee, take a shower or pack your bags.

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Before you leave for work, or school, or wherever you are going, put the egg-zucchini mix in a take-away container or sealed lunchbox. Put the tomato dices on top of the dish and you’re ready to go. For an extra bit of taste you can add some sweat pepper or fresh oregano if you happen to grow that in your garden. When you need a bit of extra bite, you can add some crushed almonds or some seeds.

Take some bananas and maybe a peach and you’ll survive the day.
There you have it. Lunch. Enjoy!

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September 29, 2011

Present on a plate

Surprises can come in unexpected forms. At times preparing someone a plate of healthy snacks can be a really nice gesture. Especially when someone has been working hard and is by far thinking about food due to the engagement and inspiration that is accompanying the hard work. I myself tend to forget about food when I am studying hard. Sometimes I even think about eating lunch or so, but due to reasons like pressure or focus, or plain lazyiness, I don’t take the time to go to the kitchen and prepare something that is both appealing in taste and attractive visually.

When I notice people around me at home are working hard, for our company, on their hobby, on their health, basically on whatever they are working at, and I have a few minutes. I like to surprise them with a little bit of health. Not a full meal, but more a snack. What I used to do is put some crisps, some cookies and maybe some candy I had laying around on a plate and present that to them with a glass of coke, coffee or tea. Now since my new eating habbit, I hardly have those lying around anymore, and I would not feel comfortable presenting such a plate of indulgence to someone, knowing that it is not a choice of food that I would like anymore.

That’s why now, when I present someone a plate of snacks, it looks different. In my opinion a snack does not need to be completely healthy, whatever diet or eating habits you might have. Though, it must be healthy enough. Down here is one of the examples of a plate that I consider a little present on a plate throughout the day.

Ingredients
(for 2 persons)

  • 2 hands full of white grapes
  • 2 hands full of pink or blue grapes
  • 1 pear
  • cherry tomatoes
  • an orange
  • some olives (with garlic)
  • some nuts
  • Any other fruit or vegetable, or some raw meats or fish you like

Tools

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Plate and/ or some small cups
  • Some small skewers

Preparation

  1. Wash the fruits and vegetables, remove skins or zest of the fruits and vegetables if necessary / to your liking.
  2. Cut big fruits and vegetables in bite size pieces.
  3. Arrange the fruits and vegetables on a plate.
  4. Put nuts, olives and meat or fish in separate small cups. Try to fit everything on one plate. If you don’t have a plate that is big enough you can also put the plate and the cups on a cutting board or so for presentation.
  5. Put some small skewers in one of the cups
  6. Surprise the person or people with this colorful pallet of healthy snacking :D.

    Present on a plate

 

  • In addition prepare some tea, or a fresh, homemade vegetable or fruit juice and serve this with this present on a plate.
  • Be carefull with adding food that needs to be boiled, cooked, baked or heated in any way. The person who is going to eat it might not have time to start eating right away.
  • Basically you can add or change any ingredient of this little plate as long as you cut ingredients into bite size pieces and the person you want to surprise likes the ingredient.
  • If you are surprising yourself with this little snack, try to take just as much time to prepare it as you would take while making it for someone else. This time the effort does count!

I’m very curious about what ingredients would be on your ‘present on a plate’. Feel free to share pictures, ingredients and maybe even other ideas about ‘presents on a plate’