Almond Cherry Bars

nut bars

I love the way these bars turned out. They are dry and crispy in a good way and not overly sweet. They do crumble easily but that’s because there is not a lot of honey/sugar in it to ‘glue’ the nuts together. Less sugar or sticky-hold-perfectly-together bars. I think I will pick the less sugar ones.

 

1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds

1/2 cup sunflower and or pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup cherries

1 Tbls almond butter

1 Tbls water

1/4 tsp Vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid)

1 tsp honey

 

Pre-heat oven to 250F. In a bowl, mix the nuts and cherries together. In a separate bowl dissolve 1/4tsp V. C in 1 tbsp water. Then add the honey and stir until dissolved. Mix the almond butter with the nuts, seeds and cherries. Add the honey and vitamin C to the mix and stir, stir, stir! Stir everything to coat with the sticky honey and almond butter. Dump everything on a lined cookie sheet with parchment paper and pack tightly down with a stiff spatula knife or you can try rolling it with a rolling pin. Either way, you want everything packed tightly together. This recipe is kind of small for a medium cookie sheet, but you can easily double it for a full 14”x10” sheet. Mine was only half full. Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes. When done let cool. With a sharp big knife, cut into bars and wrap into parchment paper for easy to-go snacks.

 

My Two Week Juice Fast

Beet Juice Today is my last day of a two week juice fast. Two weeks not eating anything but just drinking water, herbal tea, and veggie juices (OK I will admit I did do some fruit juices) oh and coconut water from fresh young coconuts! It was an interesting experience.  Totally different from the first time I did a juice fast. But the first time it was more of a juice feast than fast. I am thankful that I had this opportunity to do a juice fast for two weeks. If it were not for Sashenka then I would have never completed it successfully. He encouraged and motivated me (also worried for me, made juices, took care of our toddler, gave me a massage, etc…!!!) A huge thank you!!! I’m not going to say that it was supper easy. But I’m not going to moan and groan about how horrible it was either. I’m just going to talk about some things that were different from what I expected when compared to the first time I did this. And of course a juice recipe at the end.

  • The first time around, the first three days were exhausting. I felt like a drug addict with a headache and absolutely no energy. This time, my first three days were not as extreme. Yes, I felt a little bit week and hungry but not as bad as the first time. I was surprised that I could actually function normally; and this all on only 3 juices a day. Where, compared to the initial feast, I did ten juices a day.
  • Cravings. The past two weeks I did not know what that word meant! I did not have a single craving for anything. Sure I had an appetite when I saw or smelled food, but I was under control and calm. My first experiment with juicing was an enslaving dance with cravings. I craved burgers to chocolate. Even things I normally do not like. But I was pleasantly surprised that this juice fast did not torment me at all with cravings. I did not mind a green salad with sprouts and an avocado but it was not a possessive kind of ‘want’. Just a ‘sure would not mind’ – kind of thing.
  • The past two weeks were very smooth. No roller coaster like the first time – low on energy and then a high of energy.
  • This time around I did not cheat by drinking V8 – the first time I had two cans of it.
  • I still cooked for our toddler and Sashenka. Where last time I could not be under the same roof of a building with food that is cooking. During the first fast Sashenka ate on our balcony because I could not tolerate the smell. But this time around, I cooked most meals for both of them and even made cinnamon rolls today and veggie burgers for a cookout on our street!
  • I enjoyed the juices exceedingly more the past two weeks then on the initial juice feast. And had the inspiration to get creative with them.

 

And speaking of tasty juice recipes…

…. The star that is pictured consists of…

1 Sweet Potato

1 Beet

2-3 Carrots

Juice root veggies with skins on and enjoy!

This juice is very filling, sweet, and beautiful!

 

Vegan Borscht

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A lot of people who have tried my borscht have asked for a recipe and I never seem to write it down when I am making it. So finally I did and here it is. Sashenka and I absolutely love it and easily eat an 8 Qt. pot in three days. It is vegan, light, and packed with vitamins and nutrients! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

2.5 lb red young potatoes with skins on washed and cubed
1 large onion diced
3 carrots diced
4-5 celery stickes diced
2 green bell peppers diced
3 medium beets grated on the larger size grate.
1/2 head of small cabbage shredded
5 bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp vitamin c powder (ascorbic acid Do not use a crushed vitamin tablet. Can substitute 1 Tbsp ketchup)
2 vegetable bullion cubes (vegan, organic)
Salt and pepper

Wash and cut the potatoes. Fill a pot 3/4 with water and add salt and potatoes to it. Set on stove on high. Dice onion and sauté in a skillet on medium on grape-seed oil till golden. Dice carrots, celery, and peppers , after the potatoes returned to a boil, throw them into the pot. Wash, peel, and grate beets and add to skillet with onions. Throw bay leaves and bullion cubes into pot. Add Vitamin C or ketchup to skillet. I add vitamin C for extra vitamin and it adds a nice sourness that a lot of people achieve with tomato past or ketchup. Slightly sauté the beets till just barely cooked and add everything from the skillet into pot. Add shredded cabbage. Throw in parsley and pepper and add more salt if need be. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 min or until cabbage is cooked. If the borscht is to thick for you and you have room in the pot you can add some more water and season accordingly. Приятного Аппетита!

Sweet Potato Bowl with Chimichurri

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I enjoy my subscription to vegetarian times and this is another recipe that I have attempted at making. I made only two minor adjustments from the original recipe. One the red quinoa is switched to white quinoa (red would have looked great, I just did not have any on hand). The other one is I used more garlic then the recipe notes (as usual). We love garlic and the Chimichurri defiantly needed the extra garlic in my opinion. Without it would have been bland. This is a very healthy dish packed with nutrients and is definitely guilt free!

Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa
2 large sweet potatoes, skin-on, finely diced (1 ½–2 lb.)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 small, ripe yet firm avocados, peeled and sliced
Chimichurri
¼ cup olive oil
3 cups loosely packed Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
3 Tbs. lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425°F. Wash potatoes and dice them into cubes. On a baking sheet spread them in a single layer and season with salt pepper and olive oil. Cook quinoa as directed on package. Usually 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Season with salt if desired. While the potatoes and quinoa are cooking make the Chimichurri. Blend parsley, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped. Pour in warm oil, and pulse quickly until blended. Serve sweet potatoes and quinoa in a bowl topped with sliced avocados and Chimichurri. And wedges of home grown tomatoes are a refreshing on the side. Enjoy!

Broccoli Sprout Salad

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With all of these sprouts growing and eating 1-2 jars a day, we try to come up with interesting ways to incorporate them into tasty recipes. Here is one recipe that we made together, and if I may say so, is by far the best original recipe that we have ever created! We have made it more than 5 times and absolutely love it! You guys should try this! It is very flavorful but not overpowering, perfect for a side salad but great on its own as well.

1 Quart Broccoli sprouts (radish sprouts would work too)
2 Roasted red pepper
1 Avocado
1/2 medium Onion
3-4 TBSP Roasted walnut oil (I used La Tourangellen oil but any roasted walnut oil will work.)

Salt pepper to taste

Dice the red pepper, avocado, and onion. Combine everything in a salad bowl and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Tofu Cream

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A dairy free dessert for my creamy cravings. I actually feel a lot better without any dairy and have noticed that if I have any dairy I immediately suffer from a stuffy nose and a whole lot of mucus. Not very pleasant. I’m not a big tofu fan but this cream turned out surprisingly fresh and nutty. Sashenka even gave this a tiny taste and pronounced it edible but would not consume it himself. He eats tofu only in Miso soup. This cream could be used in different combinations with the help of some imagination. This was the simplest and quickest way that I chose to enjoy it.

I adapted this recipe from vegetarian times.
– ½ tsp. sea salt
– 2 Tbs. lemon juice
– 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
– 2 Tbs. maple syrup
– 2 Tbs. coconut oil
– 16 oz. firm tofu
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth and creamy like. Top with fruits and nuts or refrigerate and use in desserts.

Baby Greens Sweet Potato Soup

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Creamy without any cream. Blended sweet potatoes have a creamy consistency by themselves. I baked some sweet potatoes ahead of time thus this soup was super fast to make. Heathy and nutritious and the greens add more texture and flavor.

1 onion diced
2 celery sticks diced
2 carrot sticks diced
3 baked sweet potatoes
2 cups tightly packed baby spinach and baby kale
2 vegetable bullion cubes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt pepper
Smoked paprika and dried basil for garnish.

In a pot sauté onions with olive oil till golden. Then add celery, carrots, water, and bullion cubes. Boil till carrots and celery are soft. Add baked sweet potato and bland everything in a blender or with an immersion blender. Return to the pot if used a blender and add greens to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer till greens become wilted. Spoon into a bowl and garnish with smoked paprika, dried basil, and drizzles of olive oil. Enjoy!

Food Venture in Philadelphia

collage in PA 2013

The weekend before last, we went to Philadelphia for the weekend. Sashenka had to do some stuff for his job so Aurelius and I went with him. Every time we go somewhere I try to find an interesting place to try new food. And since I do not eat dairy and we are vegetarian our search is already narrowed for us from the thousands of dining options that big cities have to offer. I searched online for vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Philadelphia and was overwhelmed with the vast variety of eateries that they had! With great difficulty I narrowed it down to three and hoped we would have time to stop by at least one.

We stayed with Sashenka’s family and they were extremely hospitable and went out of their way to make vegetarian food for us. We had a cookout with grilled shiitake mushrooms and veggies, home pickled bell peppers, roasted eggplant and veggie dish, and rice. They also made ‘varenikie’ with fresh picked strawberries for dessert. And of course the best part was that we got to see everyone and Aurelius got to meet his cousins!

On Sunday we went to center city Philadelphia to shop at H&M because we do not have one in our city. On our way there we stop by a soap shop called Lush. It was an interesting place. They had solid toothpaste in tabs that you chew and then brush your teeth with and lots of huge and pretty bath bombs. We bought their solid shampoo. I picked one that smelled like rosemary. We than went to a park where they had a fine art exhibit. The weather was lovely and we had a great time. After all the walking everyone was hungry including Aurelius so we headed towards Hip City Veg Cafe. I breastfed Aurelius and we had the best vegan lunch that we ever ate out! Sashenka ordered a Buffalo Bella burger which was a crispy Portabella mushroom with celery slaw, tomato & buffalo sauce. I had the Bistro Bella burger with herb glazed grilled Portabella mushroom, dijon, olive tapenade, tomato, artichokes, red onion & arugula. We shared a side of sweet potato fries with cilantro-black bean dip which was a great combo and I will try to replicate it at home! For drinks we had the Groothie which is a green smoothie with organic apples, organic leafy greens, bananas & seasonal fruit and a Green Lemonade made with fresh squeezed lemons & organic kale juice, lightly sweetened with raw organic agave nectar. I also ordered a vegan cupcake that I saved for later for tea (but it was not as good as the rest of the food). Sashenka and I try to avoid mock meats for they are not healthy and if we really wanted to eat meat we would eat good quality meat. But we just do not want to eat meat and thus do not want to try to imitate it either. We were very happy that they had burgers with Portabella mushrooms but their menu also offered a veggie burger that we didn’t get to try. I think that the art of a great burger is all of the other details that you put into it. Instead of having the usual lettuce tomatoes and onions with ketchup mustered and mayo these burgers had olive tapenade, artichokes, arugula, and celery slaw. Now that’s two very creative burgers! Not to mention that the Portabella was very juicy and tasty! And did I mention that everything is vegan?! The atmosphere and decor was very crisp, clean and fresh. Sashenka really enjoyed it! Now what we didn’t enjoy was a 12 hr drive back home at night with a 7 month old! But it’s all part of life.

Oh I almost forgot! Before we left we stopped by a Russian food store and bought all kinds of goodies! Like Ukrainian chocolate, unrefined sunflower oil, buckwheat, ‘vareniki’ with cabbage and potatoes, kvass (you have to try it and its even good for you if it was fermented naturally and has natural ingredients and no preservatives or artificial flavors), and a whole lot of other things that I can’t remember right now.

So that was our food expedition in Philadelphia. Next time we go we hopefully can stay for a longer time and visit more places.

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ and Wilted Chard

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I found this recipe in my monthly vegetarian times issue. It is very filling and the spiciness adds warmth to this dish. I followed the recipe exactly except I did not mix the nuts into the sauce but grinned-ed them up and served them on top. I think the best part is the wilted chard. Sashenka said that you can’t separate one part form the other and that it tastes best as a whole dish. Hope you enjoy!
Wilted Chard

  • 4 oz. Swiss chard leaves, stems removed (4 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

Zucchini with Spicy Romesco

  • 4 large red bell peppers, chopped (6 cups)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ⅛ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup raw almonds
  • ¼ cup raw hazelnuts
  • 4 large zucchini, peeled

1. To make Wilted Chard: Toss together all ingredients in large bowl, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside to marinate.

2. To make Zucchini with Spicy Romesco: Blend bell peppers, tomatoes, oil, lemon juice, garlic, chili powder, and red pepper flakes in food processor until smooth. Add almonds and hazelnuts, and process until well combined but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Slice zucchini into noodles with spiral slicer, and add to sauce.

4. Divide Wilted Chard among individual serving plates. Top each serving with 2 cups Zucchini with Spicy Romesco.

Birthday Cake Smetanik

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So I haven’t eaten any dairy for about 6 months and the past two weeks before my birthday I had the greatest craving for ‘smetanik’ or a sour cream cake. After a store bought one did not satisfy my cravings (because it tasted nothing like the real thing, creamy plastic on dry bread with sugar would have tasted better) I decide to make my own. I knew that ‘kolobok’ would suffer from it but it would be only for a little bit. I promise I will have just a little piece.  I found this Russian recipe online and proceeded to create my obsession. The recipe turned out very simple and easy to make -coming from someone who does not like baking and finds everything that has to do with dough or flour difficult. This is a quick cake to make; takes a little bit more work than brownies but tastes unbelievably superior. My only complaint about the recipe is WAY too much sugar! Next time –if there is a next time- I will put one third of sugar into the cream. This cake is NOT dairy-free for it has condensed milk, butter, and sour cream in it. When I’m done breastfeeding I will make this cake to celebrate!

100g Butter

2 eggs

1 can condensed milk

3/4 c flour

1-1.5 TBSP cacao powder

1 tsp baking soda

1tsp vinegar

700-800 g sour cream

3 c sugar (use less)

 

Melt butter in a double boiler (or use a microwave if you have/use one). In a mixing bowl beat eggs by hand or on slow speed in mixer. Add butter to the eggs slowly while mixing and mix till it’s a single consistency. Then add the condense milk and mix well. React baking soda with vinegar and add it to the mix. Mix in flour adding little at a time. Preheat oven to 350F, butter a cake pan, and pour half of the batter in to it. Put it in the oven and let bake for 15-20 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile add cacao powder to remaining batter and mix throughout. Take out the first layer and let cool. Butter the pan again and pour in the chocolate batter. Bake as previous piece. When it will be done take it out and let cool. While it’s baking you can start making the cream. Pour the sour cream into a mixing bowl, add sugar to it and start mixing till sugar dissolves. When the two cakes have cooled cut of the edge and crumble it and set aside. You will use this to decorate the cake. Slice the two cakes in half so you have 4 layers of cake. Place the first half on a plate and cover with the sour cream and poke holes in the cake to help the cream absorb into the cake. Add a different color cake and spread cream in it, then the third and spread cream in it as well and the last and spread cream on it. Decorate the cake with the crumbs and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.

Tip: When I attempted this cake twice with regular Daisy brand sour cream it would spill off the sides of my cake. If I attempted to dump all of the cream on the cake as the recipe calls for my cake would be swimming in a 5 foot pool of sour cream. This would also result in a huge mess. So I just always had a lot of sour cream left over and the cake tasted dry. My belle-soeur informed me that sour cream in Russia is way thicker for some reason and if I substitute 1/3 (maybe more) of the sour cream for cream cheese then it would hold together and I could get more into the cake and it would absorb better. I have not tried this yet but am planning on when I make this cake again. If you try it let me know what works for you.