Blueberry Bliss Bowl

I remember the first time I saw a poster for the Vagina Monologues. I was quite young, and must have been around fourteen or fifteen. It was somewhere on the public transit system, and all I could think was: what on earth are the Vagina Monologues? Do they talk about their vaginas? Why would anyone want to talk about their vaginas? I was a young, awkward teenager who was still figuring out how I felt about my sexuality, menstruation, and other lady issues: are you supposed to shave? How do I use a tampon? What is… down there?!

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As I got older, I did a little digging around and eventually found out what the Vagina Monologues were about. I bought the book, a collection of monologues covering issues of body image, menstruation, hair, orgasm, masturbation, sexual violence, and cancer, based on over 200 interviews with women conducted by the author Eve Ensler. Last year, I went to see the show for the first time, and I absolutely loved it. And… a few months ago, I decided to try out for the Vagina Monologues myself. Let me just say that I am no actress (I can’t even lie about a surprise birthday cake)- but, miraculously, I was offered a part! Although I was a little unsure about my acting skills, I was so excited to be a part of the Vagina Monologues and the movement it stands for. We finally performed the Monologues on Monday and Tuesday, and it was a huge success! We sold out both nights, and even increased capacity so more people could attend. I am unbelievably sad that the Vagina Monologues are over now, but so grateful and blessed to have been able to be a part of it and to have done it with such an amazing cast and crew! Together, we raised over £1500 pounds for Fife Women’s Aid and the V-Day Foundation. Everyone I worked with was so immensely talented, and being able to work with them and learn from them has been such a humbling experience. Thank you to everyone who came to see the show- it means so much to the entire cast and crew, and your money is going to such a good cause. If you have never seen it, I highly recommend you go see it- or buy the book!- ASAP.

Because I’ve been extremely busy with the Vagina Monologues and writing my dissertation, many of my meals have been super quick, super easy, and made for on-the-go. This blueberry bliss bowl is one of many, many recipes I’ve been relying on to help me power through long days, and has become one of my favourite breakfasts. If you think about it, it’s pretty much just raw oatmeal!

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As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, blueberries are a marvellous superfood. They also happen to be one of the few fruits you can freeze without damaging their anthocynain antioxidants! Anthocyanins are the compounds that give certain fruits and veggies their wonderful colours- blood oranges, pomegranates, berries, red cabbage, and purple grapes are just a few examples of foods high in anthocyanins. Blueberries are also high in vitamin c, fibre, and manganese. If you are ever feeling low in energy, manganese helps you convert your intake of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into energy! The phytonutrients found in blueberries give the fruit anti-inflammatory properties, which are excellent for fighting certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. These anti-inflammatory properties also mean that if you are ever having a bad breakout, you can use this recipe as a face mask or face wash as well! The combination of raw honey, oats, and blueberries will not only soothe your skin, but leave it feeling refreshed. I am a huge believer in natural skin care and only wash my face with oats, and take care of all potential zits with a dab of raw honey. It works wonders!

*Unlike regular, heated honey, raw honey has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s like magic!

Blueberry Bliss Bowl
2 cups blueberries
1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 1/2 cup oats, soaked overnight
1 vanilla bean scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 banana (optional)
maple syrup or raw honey, to taste

Toppings of your choice: goji berries, flaked almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, toasted coconut, etc.

Put all the ingredients into a blender. Blend, pour, sprinkle, and enjoy.

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Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

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Spring Vegetable Hodgepodge

Spring has finally arrived in Scotland.

I know this not just by the weather, but also by the change in produce: I love the sight of jumbled leeks at the green grocer, the return of gorgeous broad beans waiting to be shelled, and the bundles of asparagus just calling out to me, waiting to be topped with some sea salt, or a soft poached egg… Although the coming of spring and summer means goodbye to kale, one of my all time favourite vegetables, it also means peaches and nectarines, and delicious summer berries. Today was such a gorgeous, sunny day that I sat under a tree with some friends for lunch. When dinner time came around, I insisted on taking our dinner to the beach so we could eat under the blue sky and enjoy the last bit of sunshine. With a pot of roast asparagus and courgettes, we headed to the beach. Lewis had a beer, and I had herbal tea. We watched the clouds roll by, dogs chasing birds, children walking with their parents. I love slow moments: when you get to lazily watch the world go by, take deep breaths, stare at the sky, and just enjoy the present. I spend most of my day indoors, sitting at a desk and staring at the computer screen. Sometimes it’s easy forget how marvellous life is.

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Lately, I’ve been obsessed with this spring vegetable hodgepodge. I’m not entirely sure what the actual meaning of hodgepodge is, but I’ve been making lots of them because I’ve been so busy! I see ‘hodgepodge’ as… regardless of having tossed a bunch of ingredients into a pot, the end result is still delicious. I think leeks are an incredibly underrated vegetable: people either tend to put them in leek and potato soup or in savoury pot pies, but no one ever wants to eat them on their own! Leeks have such a delicate, subtly sweet flavour that is enjoyable even on their own. People also tend not to realize that it is the white part of the vegetable that is eaten, even though I love them so much I eat the entire leek anyway. For all the busy souls writing their dissertation right now, I dedicate the hodgepodge to you. I didn’t have asparagus when I made this, but I imagine they go quite nicely with the other ingredients. Also, butter and leeks are a combination you will never regret.

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Spring Vegetable Hodgepodge
*makes one large serving
1 large leek, washed and sliced
1 cup greens of choice, chopped (spinach, collard greens, etc)
1 cup peas
a knob of ghee, butter, or coconut oil
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the knob of your preferred cooking oil in a medium pot.

Add the leeks, greens, and peas and cook until soft. Beware of overcooking.

Season with sea salt and pepper, and enjoy.

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Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

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Mango-Kiwi-Avocado Green Smoothie Bowl

 

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I have a month until I’m done with my undergraduate degree. I know everyone says this all the time, but it really is crazy how fast time flies. I remember coming to this small Scottish town when I was seventeen and in my last year of high school, thinking about whether I wanted to hop the pond and study in some cold, rainy place. There are moments when I question my decision and the degree I have chosen, but when I think about it- really, really think about it- I have had such an amazing time. I’ve met some really cool people, including my beardy ginger man, all with interesting stories and opinions. I’ve also met some not-so-cool people, who continue to be a daily reminder of who I don’t want to be. I’ve been taught by some of the brightest academics in their fields, and the best part is getting to ask them weird questions they probably never thought they’d be asked. I’ve participated in the craziest university tradition ever, which was a weekend I barely survived. It ended with an extremely fun foam fight which tasted funny and hurt my eyes. (Raisin Weekend. Mm hmm.) I’ve  jumped into the North Sea at sunrise in May with all the other crazies that attend this university. I’ve enjoyed the best of Scottish summers: where the sun is always shining, it’s pleasantly breezy, and you can go for a walk with an ice-cream cone. I’ve become best friends with the man who sells almond olives at the farmer’s market. The list goes on… this seaside town has captured my heart with a full force and I’ve fallen in love, and I am so sad to have to leave it after I graduate. The only thing left to do now is to make the most of my time with the people who mean the most to me. And, well, I guess I should finish the dissertation, too. (But if I don’t I won’t graduate and I might get to spend another year here?! Just kidding.)

Anyway. Here is a big ol’ smoothie bowl that has magical powers to perk me up after long, reflective mornings like today. It’s still raining, but I have a bowl of liquid sunshine all to myself! I added some avocado in today for a creamier texture. Don’t be scared of the taste- it does more for the texture than it does for taste. I know some people are concerned with feeling full after a smoothie for breakfast, but trust me: if you are having the two servings you are supposed to be having in place of food as the 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge suggests, you won’t have this problem. It’s a lot of liquid with lots of good stuff, and I am always stuffed afterwards!

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Mango-Kiwi-Avocado Green Smoothie
*makes 800ml/one giant serving/two regular servings
2 cups spinach
2 cups mango
2 small kiwis
1/2 an avocado
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon maca

Toppings: goji berries, sliced almonds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

Blend all the ingredients. Pour the smoothie into a bowl and top with your ingredients of choice.

IMG_8874Happy blending!
Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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Blueberry And Mango Green Smoothie

Today marks the first day of the 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge with Simple Green Smoothies! I’m looking forward to 30 days of deliciousness, and I’m going to try and share most of the smoothies on this blog.

So, why green smoothies?

1.) I have to admit, I’m a little bit of a juice and smoothie snob. Unless it’s fresh squeezed, I probably won’t drink it. This isn’t because I don’t enjoy them, but because there is a lot of refined sugar added to most bottled/packaged juice. Yes, this includes Tropicana, Naked Juice, and Jamba Juice. It is much better to buy a couple oranges and juice them at home- I’ve begun to juice my own grapefruits by hand at home, and the result is always amazing and a good reward for all the squeezing it requires. Juice, however, contains minimal fibre, which helps to slow the breakdown of sugar and sugar imbalances in the bloodstream. Don’t want a sugar crash? Make a smoothie with fibre, protein, and healthy fats.

2.) Green smoothies are more nutrient dense: they’re a great way to get a portion of veggies in, and because the ingredients are already broken down by a blender, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest and absorb these nutrients.

3.) They’re great for busy people. If you’re on the go and need a quick meal, or if, like me, you are stuck on the library floor that doesn’t allow food, green smoothies are perfect. Add a little protein by adding nut butter, plant-based protein powder, or by sprinkling hemp and chia seeds on your smoothie.

4.) The more leafy greens you add in your juice, the higher the chlorophyll content. What does this mean? According to Lauren from The Holy Kale, the similar molecular composition of chlorophyll to human blood means that green juices “act as “mini-transfusions” for the blood, and tonics for the brain and immune system.” They also help to balance the body’s pH levels and detox by removing waste from the bloodstream.

5.) Green smoothies help you stay hydrated. This is also a great reason for drinking them in the morning: after a long and hopefully good night’s sleep, your body will probably be quite dehydrated when you wake up. I certainly feel dehydrated when I wake up! After drinking some warm water with lemon, I make a green smoothie to help my body with the rehydration process.

Those are just a few tips to help inspire you to get started! Now, onto the smoothie…
(If you are on a budget, frozen fruit is great for smoothies as long as there are no artificial sweeteners! I would recommend using fresh leafy greens. All preferably organic.)

Today’s superfood add-ins were maca and lucuma.
Maca is great for balancing hormones, and is high in B, C, and E vitamins, iron, calcium, and zinc. Yellow maca is most commonly sold in health food stores, but I only just found out the other day that, for the best results, women should opt for red maca while men should look for black maca.

Lucuma, on the other hand, is a low GI index natural sweetener that also serves as a good source of potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

For an extra oomph of protein, I always top my smoothies with chia seeds and hemp seeds.

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Blueberry & Mango Green Smoothie
*makes two servings
2 cups mangoes
2 cups blueberries
2 cups spinach
1 banana
1 cup almond milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon maca
1 teaspoon lucuma
chia seeds, to garnish
hemp seeds, to garnish

Toss the ingredients in the blender, and blend. And that’s it!

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Wishing you much love and happy blending,
Gen

Sources:
Green Smoothie Challenge FAQ
The Holy Kale Juicing Guide
Mind Body Green: Is Your Green Smoothie Actually Healthy and Balanced?

 

 

Blood Orange Salad

I want to start off today’s post with a HUGE thank you to everyone who has come to check out the new site since I’ve shared it, and to everyone who has liked my new Facebook page! I truly am grateful for all the love this blog has received in the past week. There have been many moments in my blogging journey where I wonder if anyone is reading what I am sending out into the world wide web, and when I see numbers on my stats dashboard, I wonder: who is reading this? The stats features is actually remarkable- I can see what search terms, countries, and referrers reader use to get to my site, and what my readers click, too. Whoever you guys are, you are awesome. Thank you for coming back, time after time. I have felt especially motivated and inspired this past week, and am very excited for the days ahead.

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I am even more excited today because blood oranges are back! I went to the green grocer this morning with only £2, intending to buy a bunch of bananas. Luckily for me, my bananas were only 80p and I got to spend the rest of my money on blood oranges. These babies are full of vitamin C and anthocyanins, making them a heart healthy food and also great for long-term disease prevention. They are also absolutely delicious, and I am looking forward to making lots of blood orange juice now that they are back in season. This salad really lets the flavour of the blood oranges shine through, and can be made in five minutes.

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Blood Orange Salad
*serves one
1 1/2 cups spinach, washed and chopped
a handful of basil leaves, washed and chopped
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
2 blood oranges
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of coarse sea salt
sheep’s cheese to garnish (I used manchego. Omit the cheese if vegan.)

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Wash and drain the spinach and basil, chop and set aside in a mixing bowl.

Toast the pine nuts in a pan on low-heat, turning them occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. Once the nuts are toasted, remove them from the heat and add them to the salad leaves in the mixing bowl.

Peel a blood orange, and slice sideways to create orange wheels.

Add the orange wheels to the mixing bowl, and toss the salad.

To make the dressing, juice the other blood orange. Pour the juice into a small mixing bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Whisk to blend. Pour the dressing over the salad. Toss the salad once again, and garnish with sheep’s cheese if desired.

Plate and eat. Yum!

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

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Chocolate Lover’s Buckwheat Granola


Forgive me for the little break I took from the blog- although, I promise, it only looks like I took a break from the blog. The past three weeks have been extremely busy for me, and, in the process of writing my dissertation, applying to holistic nutrition programs, and hunting for a place to live next year, I’ve been working very hard behind the scenes to transfer my blog from Life Is Like A Dumpling to its new home, Gratitude and Greens. I know my web presence has been a little jumpy: I first started on tumblr, before deciding the platform wasn’t right for proper writing and recipe sharing and moving to WordPress. Following a great year on WordPress, I moved to my blog to Squarespace to try something new. It was a completely unnecessary move, and, although Squarespace is great in many respects, I just found that it wasn’t the right fit for me. After a long, long process of sitting in front of my laptop for the past two weeks trying to figure out domain transfers, site hosting, coding/css changes, all the while trying not to pull my hair out, I am extremely glad to be back on the WordPress system. If you are interested in why I’ve changed my blog name to Gratitude and Greens, please visit my updated ‘About’ page.

Because I’ve had such little breathing space, my meals have become pretty lazy. My library lunch and snacks have become a standard of either cucumber slices and a pot of hummus, or a bag of homemade granola. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I probably wouldn’t have made it out of the past few weeks alive had it not been for this amazing granola. I made it late one night to take care of a chocolate craving, and I haven’t been able to stop eating it since. This is all thanks to Sarah, the creative genius of My New Roots, whose recipes have saved me time after time and continue to appease my taste buds.

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I’ve fallen in love with this granola so much that I ordered 5 kilograms of organic buckwheat, have insisted on sharing it with everyone and anyone, and have even made batches to mail to my sisters and my boyfriend’s family. Have it for breakfast, dessert, or an afternoon snack- I promise you won’t be disappointed. And don’t be afraid to share it with your gluten-free friends, because this granola is made with gluten-free oats and buckwheat! I quote Sarah’s words of wisdom: “Whether you choose to eat this granola for breakfast or an afternoon snack doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you make chocolate granola a real priority in your life. Laundry can wait, emails can wait, and your hair looks just fine a little on the greasy side.”

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Chocolate Lover’s Buckwheat Granola
Recipe adapted from My New Roots
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup buckwheat
1 1/2 cups coconut flakes
1 cup pecans (original recipe called for hazelnuts, but I just love toasted pecans!)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup raisins
a handful of goji berries
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix the all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Melt the coconut oil in a small pot on low-heat. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract.

Sift the cocoa powder in, and whisk to blend. Adjust to taste, and add more maple syrup if you’d like it to be sweeter.

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Pour the liquid cocoa over the dry granola mixture and mix well, making sure most, if not all, of the granola is covered with chocolate.

Spread the chocolate granola onto your lined baking tray, and bake for 15 minutes. Flip and stir the granola, and bake for another 15 minutes.
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Store in a jar, or eat immediately. Serve with almond milk, or your milk with choice. I had it straight out of the even and the warm chocolate made chocolate almond milk in my bowl- mmm…

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Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

Valentine’s Day + Mini Flourless Chocolate-Hazelnut Cakes

To me, February 14 is just like any other day: I wake up. I make coffee and breakfast. I get on with my day, think about food, and maybe daydream a little.

For someone in a relationship, I’m not a particularly big fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I dislike the day—I just don’t have a huge affinity for it. I love my boyfriend 24/7, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and don’t see why February 14th is any different. We do lovey-dovey things for each other regularly, and I’m lucky that I’m dating someone who is super cool, mellow, and is able to deal with pain-in-the-ass me. (I am usually satisfied with a cup of tea and some chocolate. But it’s not always that easy.) I’m even luckier to be dating someone who makes everyday feel like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or my birthday. Neither of us thinks it is necessary to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. As much as I love eating at nice restaurants, there are few things that are greater than a delicious home-cooked meal, snuggling on the couch, and maybe a few episodes of a TV show we both enjoy—in other words, a typical evening for us. Tonight I made us a simple but delicious meal: gnocchi with rosemary and garlic, kale and lentil salad in a maple-mustard dressing, and a side of roast purple broccoli. For dessert? Mini flourless chocolate-hazelnut cakes.

This is our third Valentine’s Day together, which is… crazy, to say the least. I remember when my boyfriend and I first started dating—he came over to make peanut butter cupcakes with Nutella frosting, and we debated the difference between cupcakes and muffins. I’m still not sure whether we’ve reached an actual conclusion to that discussion. Today I decided to recreate similar cakes to celebrate our third Valentine’s together. I made this cake last week for my friend Marge’s 22nd birthday, and I think it was well received. These gorgeous cakes are made with coconut oil and coconut sugar, which give the cakes extra richness and a darker flavour.


Mini Flourless Chocolate-Hazelnut Cakes

*yields 6-8 little cakes in ramekins, or 8 slices
6 eggs, separated
175g 75% dark chocolate, chopped
125g coconut oil
75g coconut sugar
130g ground hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Grease a baking tin or your ramekins.

In a food processor, blend the hazelnuts until they are finely ground.

In a double broiler or a small pan, heat the coconut oil and chocolate. Stir.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar.

Once the chocolate and coconut oil have completely melted, let the mixture cool for a few minutes. This is to prevent the mixture from cooking the egg yolks! Once cooled, add the chocolate and coconut oil mixture to the egg yolks and sugar.

Slowly fold in the ground hazelnuts. Add the egg whites bit by bit until all the egg whites have been thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the cake mixture into either your baking tin or your ramekins. For the smaller cakes, bake for 15 minutes, before removing from the oven and allowing them to cool on a rack.

For bigger cakes, bake for 45 minutes, before removing from the oven and allowing it to cool on a rack.

Coat with homemade nutella and top with pomegranates (or your fruit of choice).

Enjoy :)

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Sunchoke Paté

I am writing this as my pancakes cook on the stove- happy Shrove Tuesday! I’m not religious, but how can you resist a day dedicated just to pancakes? This is our last homecooked meal for the next few days, as we’re heading down to London tomorrow to see Beyoncé (and to hopefully .visit one of Ottolenghi’s restaurants…).

The first time I encountered unchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, I picked one up, rolled it around in my fingers, and wondered what on earth the strange tubers were. My first time trying them was only recently—we made leek and sunchoke soup, and it was hearty, warming, and delicious. Sunchokes have a rich, earthy flavor that I just can’t get enough of! This morning I roasted some sunchokes along with some garlic and made it into a paté, perfect for spreading on toast, dipping carrot sticks into, or just eating with a spoon. The best part? All you have to do is pop everything in the oven, remove from the oven, and puree. Talk about an easy meal! My lunch today was sunchoke paté on toast, accompanied by a side salad of kohlrabi, kale, purple broccoli, quinoa, and nuts and seeds. That recipe will be for another time :)

Sunchoke Paté
*yields one small pot
2 cups sunchokes, peeled and cut into cubes
4 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
coconut oil for roasting
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius and line a baking tray with tin foil or baking paper.

Peel and cut the sunchokes. Pour the sunchokes onto the baking tray, and rub with coconut oil. Wrap the garlic cloves in a separate piece of foil. Roast both for around 45 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary.

Remove the sunchokes from the oven once golden, and remove the garlic once soft and fragrant.

In a bowl, blend the sunchokes, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil until a smooth purée. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy :)

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

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Superpower Soup: Carrot, Coconut, and Turmeric Soup

I promise you there is no food colouring in the soup I am blogging today. All of the bright, sunny yellow you see is pure and natural! The wondrous colour you see is from the amazing turmeric root, which has no cholesterol (zero, zip, zilch!) and is an excellent source of iron, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Thanks to its main component curcumin, turmeric has great healing properties, and studies have shown that turmeric not only boosts immunity, but also prevents certain cancers and liver diseases, the development of type two diabetes, prevents and slows down Alzheimer’s in the brain, and can help with arthritis. And if you’re experiencing menstrual pain- yes, turmeric can help you with that, too! Turmeric is most commonly used in Indian curries, and can also be used to make tea. Its anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties means that you can also make a turmeric and oil paste for wounds to speed up the healing process. Isn’t turmeric simply amazing? If you need anymore convincing, check out Mind Body Green’s piece “25 Reasons Why Turmeric Can Heal You.”

I made turmeric soup (which I’ve appropriately called superpower soup) this week because my better half has been feeling under the weather and is suffering from a sore throat. I’ve forced numerous remedies upon him- making sure he drinks echinacea tea with goji berries, warm water with lemon and raw honey (vitamin c + raw honey to soothe and heal the throat with its antibacterial properties), getting him to sprinkle vitamin D flaxseed mix onto all his meals, and have even sacrificed my morning alarm so he can get all the sleep he needs. I had a bunch of carrots and figured, why not make soup with carrots and turmeric?  It’s a quick, easy meal and everyone loves soup when they’re sick.

Superpower Soup
*serves four
3 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 can coconut milk
1 red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2-3 tablespoons of turmeric (I probably added a bit more!)
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
sea salt and pepper, to taste
goji berries to garnish

Cook the carrots by steaming or boiling. While the carrots are cooking, heat the coconut oil and sauté the onions in a medium pot.

Once the carrots have softened, add the carrots to the onions. Add a tablespoon of the turmeric, curry, and chili powder, stirring to make sure all the carrots and onions are covered with the spices.

Add the coconut milk and the vegetable broth. Stir and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Add the rest of the spices, and stir. Taste, and add more spices if desired.

Using an immersion blender, blend all the ingredients until you have a thick soup. Season to taste.

Pour the soup into bowls, garnish with goji berries, and enjoy.

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

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Recipe Redux: Maca Cocoa Lattes

There was a time in my life when I hadn’t yet discovered my love for coffee. I found it bitter, repulsive, unnecessary. My father loves coffee—we have two Nespresso machines at home: one for everyday use, and one for emergency situations when the first machine has broken down. He even keeps one in his office, accompanied with a box selection of Nespresso capsules and all. When I visited his new office for the first time, I laughed: of course he would have one in his office, on his desk, right next to his computer. Growing up, I knew his Starbucks order by heart, and I still do—the man would never forgive me if I forgot! I never understood his love for coffee, and when I was younger, I told him I would never drink coffee. He told me it would change when I entered university, and it did—even if it took a bit of time.

In my second year of university, my friends suggested I venture into the coffee world via caramel macchiato from Starbucks before trying ‘serious’ coffee. Before that, my only experience was a frappuccino from Starbucks, which I highly doubt qualifies as ‘coffee’. Somewhere along the way I was introduced to better, richer coffee—coffee that didn’t taste watered down, that didn’t need a pound of sugar or syrup to mask the taste of bad coffee. I am still nowhere near to being a coffee connoisseur, but I’ve become a coffee snob enough to avoid Starbucks coffee when possible. (When it comes to mainstream coffee chains, I prefer Costa Coffee. Their roast is so much better!) In the past year, I’ve even started buying nice ground coffee from Leo’s Beanery, my favourite café in Edinburgh, and brewing it in a little moka pot on the stove. (Thanks Sheena for introducing me to the wondrous ways of brewing coffee on the stovetop and for giving us the moka pot!) And with my recent purchase of an aerolatte—a little milk frother that is travel size and battery operated—I’ve been able to make my own lattes and cappuccinos at home!

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is hot beverages, which is why I’m doing a drink recipe! One of my favourite hot beverages is hot chocolate- I love smooth, rich hot cocoa. Since I’ve discovered the power of maca, I’ve been adding it to my hot chocolates, and even my mochas. I tried my first maca cocoa latte at Fresh in Toronto for the first time this summer, and there’s no going back now!

So, what is maca? Maca is a root native to the Peruvian Andres. It is a superfood that helps to stabilize hormones- if you are experiencing anxiety, menstrual pain and cramps, or a lack of sexual libido, try adding a teaspoon of maca into your coffee, hot cocoa, or smoothies. It is also a natural energizer that won’t give you a sugar crash like Red Bull will! The flavour is quite rich, somewhat resembling a mixture of cocoa and butterscotch.

Maca Cocoa Lattes
*serves one
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup strong coffee or 2 shots of espresso
2 teaspoons hot chocolate powder (I use Montezuma’s Organic Dark Drinking Chocolate)
1 teaspoon maca powder
raw honey/maple syrup

Brew your coffee. When the coffee is almost done brewing, begin heating up the almond milk in a small saucepan on medium low heat.

Once the milk is warm, froth the milk. If you don’t own a milk frother, use a whisk or a fork. You can also skip this step and just use warm milk!

Put the hot chocolate powder and the maca in an empty cup. Add the coffee, and mix until the powders are combined. Pour the hot milk into the cup, mix, and sprinkle cocoa.

If you’d like the drink a little sweeter, add a little raw honey or maple syrup.

Enjoy :)

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