14 May, 2016

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Yes, I know. It's been a very very long time since I last posted a recipe here. Needless to say that I lost interest a bit. Needless to say, never enough to kill this blog altogether. I knew one day I would want to post again. And I do use my own blog to look up my recipes while cooking. Another reason why I it is still there.

I have been working on a new layout for my blog: less blog style, more recipe collection. More modern, less dated.  This layout of this blog looks so 1990s. I don't like it. It probably even contributed to me feeling less and less inclined to blog.

But having a good-looking new blog style almost ready for the public is only half the truth for what got me going again. I guess some other news have an equal share.
We will be leaving Dubai this summer after 12 years and relocate to Germany. It's exciting news: new beginnings lie ahead, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us.

I am looking for schools, apartments and jobs. Reliable material for sleepless nights, that's for sure. When I do sleep I dream of robbing banks. When I lie awake I try to figure out what to take and what to leave behind. How to convince my family to take my rustic food styling props. Wooden boards shipped to Germany, anyone?!

Decisions, decisions. In a good way. It's good to come out of your comfort zone once in a while. It makes you look at what you are, what you have and want and what's available here and elsewhere in a more through way.

It's gonna be a life-altering move. The kids have only seen Germany for 2-3 weeks in the summer. They have never seen snow. Or dark gloomy days. The first German winter will be quite an experience for them. My son is convinced his soccer career will really take off in Germany. He trains everyday now, as I have signed him up for the youth trials with Berlin's first division football team Hertha BSC. Good spirits all around with a bit of apprehension, and a bit of fear of the unknown. Not a bad thing, it keeps you on your toes.

1 cup full fat cream
1 cup full fat milk
100g turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla, pod slit open and scraped

Combine all ingredients in a small pot and bring to boil over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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26 July, 2015

Green Avocado Smoothie

I can imagine what you are thinking: she must be living under a rock. The world has been drinking green smoothies for about a decade, and now she's coming up with a recipe...yawn!!!

I won't blame you. I do live under a rock in many respects. Although I was aware of the whole green smoothie movement. I have always lived by the rule that you shouldn't drink your calories (red wine is the big exception here). Your satiety senses would be fooled by drinking a meal, as the drink would go down much quicker as EATING the same foods with fork & knife or spoon.

Several things happened that changed my mind. Recently, I read a lot about alkaline and acidic foods and their reactions on the body. Acid-forming foods are very pro-inflammatory and might be responsible for chronic inflammation in the body which then sets the stage for many lifestyle diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes or cancer. These foods include animal protein, grains (for their phytic acid content), fruit (for their sugar content), dairy, coffee, and needless to say,  all processed foods, sweets, and alcohol.

Alkaline forming foods will be non-starchy vegetables, green leaves, nuts and seeds. Which would be a vegan diet without the fruit and grains. That leaves you with not much to eat. And if you have a day job, a family or a very energy-consuming hobby like my running you won't have time to think about foods all day long.

My conclusion is a diet consisting of mainly vegetables and healthy plant fats coming from olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds combined with moderate amounts of animal protein and small amounts of fruit and dairy to keep the balance on the alkaline side.

You should have vegetables for each of the three main meals. So guess what comes in handy here? Yes, the smoothie. For me personally, a smoothie is not enough to be a whole meal. Due to my running, I need something more of the size of 500-600 calories to make it a main meal. My green avocado smoothie has around 200 calories.  Just good enough for a snack, with spinach/parsley, cucumbers, avocado and flax seeds being very alkaline forming. with a large part of the energy coming from healthy fats. Coconut water is my favorite natural electrolyte. I have it religiously after each of my training runs to replace lost minerals.

Last but not least there is another reason for me making smoothies: my new kitchen machine. When it comes to kitchen gadgets, I definitely live under a rock, and happily so. Anything that comes with a manual is too much work to sift through.
Now I got this Kenwood MultiOne kitchen machine, which I happily stuffed into the kitchen cupboard upon its arrival. To be used later. Soon. On the weekend. Surprisingly, once I got it out to make my smoothies, it never made it back into the cupboard. As it's being used daily now. Didn't have to read the manual, it's easy to clean and it makes nice smoothies. Sometimes it's good to come out from under the rocks.

(Print Recipe)

1 ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small cucumber, roughly chopped
2 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped (or half parsley, half spinach)

1 ripe banana, peeled and roughly chopped
330ml coconut water
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Serves 2-3

Combine all ingredients in a high speed food processor and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. 
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18 May, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala

I am lagging behind with a lot of recipes that I have been cooking lately, as the other grown-up family member in our house decided to go starch and sugar free as of 1 March. That was good bye to many easy dishes that we/he had on a regular basis: no more pasta, rice or potatoes, even if it was just on the side...Bye bye to you-eat-a-sandwich-I-just-have-a-salad.

The transition was easier than I thought. Determination and and open mind to new foods helped a lot to introduce cauliflower rice, paleo wraps, boiled eggs, eggs in any form, and rich cream-based main dishes.

I kept saying that it would be going the wrong direction if one ever felt overly hungry between meals. That would be the trap when you tend to grab sugary and starchy snacks. In order to avoid that, the main meals must be filling enough. What's the point of having a healthy salad if you are hungry again an hour later? Then what would you eat? Rich main meals are the answer. If I ever eat salad, I have 2-3 boiled eggs with it. Or a decent sized salmon fillet. Or a steak.

This curry has become one of our new staples. I got a bit tired of the coconut milk-based Chicken Curry. A tomato based curry is so much fresher.
I am a sucker for any ideas/recipes that reduce the time that I have to spend in the kitchen. Now here comes the best part of this recipe:
It is worth cooking huge amounts of this sauce, and keep them in portioned containers. As the Masala is cooked separately, the dish is easily made into a Fish or Prawn Masala. If you drop peeled prawns or fish cubes into the ready sauce and cook them through, you have a different dish altogether. It saves you a lot of cooking time on several evenings. I love that. Bon appetit!

(Print Recipe)

1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
500g boneless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 red chili, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala

1 can chopped peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons seas alt
2 cups water

1/2 cup cream

Serves 2-3
In a bowl, mix yogurt with ginger and garlic, salt and pepper and chicken thighs. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. Remove from marinade and set aside.

In a large pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and chili and sauté until lightly browned.

Add chicken thighs and sauté until browned, around 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add tomato paste, garam masala and paprika and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in tomatoes, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down the heat to let simmer for 20 minutes.
Let cool a little before blending the sauce in a mixer until smooth.

Pour sauce back into the pan. Bring sauce to a boil, add chicken and cook until cooked through, around 8-10 minutes. Stir in cream. Serve garnished with fresh coriander.

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07 February, 2015

Chicken Liver Pate

Surprise, surprise: I am still alive. Alive and kicking and cooking. It's been a while since the last post, about three months. Let me explain.

You may have noticed that my recipe posts got less frequent recently. I can't even remember when I last posted on a weekly basis. Fact is, that I came up with something new on a weekly basis for 5 years or so. This blog was intended to be my public journal of a journey with foods and dishes that would make me healthier and more energetic.

It started off by eliminating processed sugar and processed flour. That was my breakthrough. I experimented with gluten-free dishes which didn't do so much for me. I then ventured into the realms of a grain-free diet, which was a lower-carb diet in disguise. Now that was the true revelation for me. There were raw, vegan  and paleo side paths which I appreciate for what they are. However, they never made it to be the main form of my diet as I find them too restrictive and/or time-consuming to follow.

What's my diet now? I still eat everything apart from processed sugar. Grains only occasionally. After phases of spending lots of time in the kitchen to cook up sophisticated healthy meals, I am going back to even less processed foods: raw salads, boiled eggs, grilled salmon or steaks. Raw nuts and pieces of raw fruit for snacks. Seed crackers and grilled vegetables I make in big batches that will last us through a few days.

My food journey has come to a standstill. I feel like I have reached my destination. I am happy with my diet. I figured out what's good for me. As a result, I read less other food blogs (honestly, almost none). I don't research the latest nutrition discoveries anymore, and I am less excited when the next "super food" is being announced.

My motto has always been to "eat to live" rather than "live to eat". I cannot help but keep myself busy with new challenges. This has increasingly been running and running coaching with my running club. I have started to accept web design assignments, I am doing freelance picture researching for a local publishing house. And I take on the occasional photography assignment. I am also obsessed with the idea of being able to do a pull-up before I turn 40. Which is in about two months time. I never managed one in my whole life. My upper body strength is close to zero, and even though I have been doing strength training for quite some time, I find my upper body is not very susceptive to training. I'll try anyway!

Despite all those new directions that keep me busy, I feel hesitant to stop food blogging completely. I still pride myself of throwing BBQ parties where every single food is made from scratch. Even the vanilla ice cream that comes with the dessert (a recipe that I owe you).

I still cook and eat, but I don't feel the need to try out something new every week. Therefore, I will change the format and style of my blog. So it doesn't look as embarrassing when I don't post for three months. It should rather be an online recipe book that gets updates on a regular or irregular basis. I don't know when this will be completed. Until then, everything stays as it is.
I have never come across as the chattiest person through my blog. But rest assured: I am here, and any feedback, questions and suggestions are welcome at any time.

I'll leave you today with a recipe of chicken liver pate. As a German, liver pate used to be part of my staple diet. While the store-bought ones are full with preservatives and chemicals, this recipe is the easiest and quickest to cook. You cannot mess it up, I promise. Just a warning: It's so more-ish, that it comes with the risk of overdosing after a few weeks. Bon appetit!

(Print Recipe)

1 cup milk
1 pound/500g fresh chicken livers

6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup brandy or whiskey

1/2 cup butter, melted

Serves 6-8
Place livers and milk in a bowl and soak for 2 hours. Drain well.

In a large saute pan or skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Cook chopped onions until softened, around 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. 
Add drained chicken livers, bay leaves, herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until livers are browned on the outside but pink inside, about 5 minutes. Add brandy/whiskey and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the livers are cooked through but still tender.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Discard bay leaves.

In a food processor, puree the liver mixture. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in pieces and pulse to blend. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Fill liver pate into ramekins. Top with melted butter until completely covered. Refrigerate until firm, around 2 hours. 
Serve with crackers or veggie sticks.
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06 November, 2014

Greek Yogurt with Honey, Figs and Almonds

Today's recipe can hardly be called a recipe as it is just an assembly of raw and mostly unprocessed ingredients. My diet has gone more and more into this direction over the last few months: not much processing and cooking, just lots of raw ingredients, perhaps combined with something quickly grilled. The predicament now is a lack of "real" recipes and as a result fewer posts on this blog.

Nevertheless I want to share why I took this direction and why I like it.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted on this blog for a while. It coincides with the fact that I am sidetracked by a few other things at the moment. My motto in life is "eat to live" rather than "live to eat". Don't get me wrong, I still love good food, but I don't have the time or patience to spend my day sourcing rare ingredients and cook for hours, or even sit in a restaurant for a meal that I could have easily made at home in half the time and a fraction of the money spent. I still cook, eat, run and read a lot about nutrition and running training. The cooking part, however, has been replaced by lots of quickly assembled, mostly raw meals and snacks.

My diet is neither 100% paleo, nor is it 100% grain free, even though many of my recipes are one or the other. I'd classify it rather as a low carb high fat  (LCHF) diet. It is less restrictive as it allows meat, fish, eggs, low sugar fruits and vegetables and full fat dairy products.
The typical high-carb foods, such as bread, rice, pasta and many fruits are simply to be avoided at most times to keep the carb-intake low.

Now most of you know that I am an avid runner. I spend a lot of time doing that or dealing with the issues that come with it: e.g. eating more food to meet increased energy demands or the need for more sleep. Two very time-consuming side-effects of running!

In high-intensity training times (e.g. a 12-week marathon training) the carb reserves stored in my body get used up and need to be replaced more often and to an higher extent and I find myself craving carbs more during those times. Naturally, I will give in as this is what my body needs.

At all other times, I do very well on a lower carb diet. You will be surprised how many carbs you still consume, even without bread, pasta and rice. My regular fruit and veggie intake usually gets me to more than 150g of carbs per day. A very knowledgeable and experienced running coach once said to me that no-one needs more than 180-200g of carbs per day unless you run at least 10k each day. Anything beyond that will just end up on your hips and mess unnecessarily with your metabolism.

So what do I eat now? It's more and more fresh salads for lunch and dinner, accompanied by some boiled eggs, grilled salmon or steak. Or omelette wraps filled with green leaves and tahini sauce. And for snacks? Whole raw fruit and whole raw nuts. You see that each meal and the snack contain some high fat or high protein foods, such as the salmon, eggs, tahini or nuts. Those will keep you full and make sure that blood sugar levels don't spike.

Same applies to my breakfast which is today's recipe: some fresh fruit topped with full-fat yogurt and a handful of raw chopped nuts. It adds up to about 600 calories. That's a good base to start the day. I assure you, you will last until lunch without cravings.

Greek Yogurt has worldwide fame, deservedly, for its creaminess and richness, obviously provided by a high fat content. In Crete where I spent my summer holidays this year, the yoghurt with the least fat percentage available was 2%. I spoke to Greeks who smilingly admitted that anything with a fat percentage below 2% is not considered yoghurt.

It doesn't only taste better, full-fat products are also less processed. Another reason to go for them. What do you eat for breakfast?

(Print Recipe)

200g/8oz Greek Yogurt
3 fresh and ripe figs, chopped ( or any other fruit of your choice)
1 handful almonds, chopped

raw honey to taste (optional)

Serves 1
Place the chopped figs in a breakfast bowl. Add yoghurt and drizzle over with honey.
Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Ready to eat.
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