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Food, Review

experiments in raw vegan baking

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I recently visited one of Copenhagen’s raw restaurants, Raw42 on Pilestræde, and was really taken by their raw desserts. They have these amazing mint layered brownies that are absolutely insane. Why eat raw desserts? In some ways they’re not a category of desserts to eat if you’re worried about eating light. They’re pretty heavy, as they substitute a lot of gluten and dairy items for rich fats and ample fruit sugars. Yet all things considered, healthy fats (nuts, nut flours, coconut oil) and fruit sugars (dates, berries) seem like a fine  way to construct a dessert. I’d rather eat desserts like these over the weird pseudo-food combinations found in the US (fat free Reddi-Whip, anyone?) as they’re more natural.

I experimented recently with two raw desserts. One is borrowed from This Rawsome Vegan Life’s book Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-Cookbook. The other is just something I created in honor of the Minnesota dessert bars of my college past, specifically the raspberry crumble bars we had in my college dining hall.

raw strawberry almond bars (raw, vegan, gluten-free, processed sugar-free)

crust: 3/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 & 1/2 cups almond flour, 1/8 cup tahini, 1/2 cup pitted soft dates, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

(combine with a food processor until you get a crumbly ball of dough. press into baking tray (8×8 max)

topping: 1 cup strawberries, 3/4 cup soft pitted dates, 1/3 cup water

(combine with a food processor and spread over the crust. freeze. top with sliced figs!)

tahini cups with coffee cream (raw, vegan, gluten-free, processed sugar-free) 

from rawsome vegan baking: an un-cookbook

ingredients:

shell: 1/3 cup tahini, 1/2 cup coconut oil

filling: 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled & 1 cup raw pitted dates (the super soft kind)

make:

stir tahini and melted coconut oil together. pour half into the bottom of muffin tins, or tiny cup tins – whatever you have lying around that will give you the vague ‘classic peanut butter cup’ shape. place in refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until hardened.

use a blender, food processor, or hand blender to combine the coffee and dates into a uniform paste with no chunks. remove tins from fridge, spoon a dollop of filling onto each cup bottom. spread out but do not go all the way to the edge, otherwise your cups will end up more like little sandwiches as mine did.

use the remaining shell mixture to cover each cup. return to the refrigerator for 15 minutes. enjoy but remember: they will melt quickly if exposed to heat, so store in the freezer and enjoy pretty immediately after removing.

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cacao buckwheat zucchini breakfast muffins

Muffins

These muffins have a zillion healthy-ish things crammed into them, and they’re also gluten-free. Yum. Recipe at the bottom.

Recently I’ve hosted both my sister and my mom in Copenhagen and nothing makes you appreciate the city you live in more than serving as a semi-tour guide. I guess it helps that for most members of my family, my existence in Copenhagen has been a bit of a mystery. What does she do? Where does she live? Who is this extended Danish family she keeps talking about? (Yep, me and the ol’ host family are still really close, and it’s extended to both sets of host-grandparents, who cheer on my slow progress in Danish lessons). I’ve now spent a total of 1 year (working) plus 4 months & 2 weeks (student) in Denmark, so providing my family with some context is really nice. Seeing and participating in the bike culture in Copenhagen. Checking out my work, where I grocery shop, my favorite cafes. And nothing opens your mind to a place you sometimes take for granted than having visitors – their joy and curiosity leads you to discover new places and new phenomenon. 

An example being: there is a large park in Copenhagen that hosts free dance lessons and open dancing with music many nights during the summer. It began in June and I’m sad to say I only checked it out for the first time last night, where I learned some salsa moves and spent two hours dancing with abandon with my sister, a friend from work, and various random Danish men – some of whom were awkward, strict, nerdy, friendly, focused, etc. It was just a good time. The event draws individuals of all walks of life: ages, sizes, couples, passer-by, etc. Everyone danced with everyone and at some points they would stop for a random non-salsa song or two and then the Danes went wild and broke it down in the love-able way that only Danes do while dancing.

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Living abroad has so many ups and downs. And you really have to learn to take each day as it comes and not freak out, sometimes. My friend Charlotte who lives in Beijing told me that there expats talk about having ‘a bad China day’ where everything will just go wrong and the system will get you down and life seems miserable, and I like that concept because at least it means that you can label it, expect it, and process it as just ‘a bad COUNTRY HERE’ day and not a complete breakdown of your entire existence. So while having my family visit was wonderful, I can’t say I didn’t also get pretty homesick. I gave myself a few days of self-pity and then picked myself up and went out into the world again and let Copenhagen court me until I remembered why I love it so much, and how much it makes me smile. Although I still wish D.C. and Copenhagen were located right next to each other, just for ease of obtaining almond butter and, of course, seeing my family. 

When my mom was here one of the best moments we had together after exploring was just being in the kitchen together like I was home again – her at the stove stirring up a spicy daal, me making some strange gluten-free healthy muffin concoction like always. It was perfect. No matter where you are in the world, no matter which kitchen, being with familiar people and creating is always home.

Cacao Buckwheat Zucchini Breakfast Muffins 

slightly adapted from Clean Food Dirty City

dry ingredients

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

4 tablespoons raw cacao powder, or cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

wet ingredients

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla or vanilla powder

2 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, heated so it is liquid

1/4 cup coconut cream (the solidified top part of a can of coconut milk)

2 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut water

1 banana, peeled, mashed

1 cup finely shredded zucchini

coconut flakes, to top

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients. Use an immersion blender to completely blend the bowl of wet ingredients until the batter is uniform and there are no lumps. Combine with the dry ingredients. Batter should resemble the texture of thick pancake batter and not be either too doughy or too runny – adjust with more buckwheat flour or coconut water/milk as needed.

Pour into greased muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Centers should be set but don’t over-bake, nobody wants dry muffins!

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Food, Recipe

pineapple coconut heat wave

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last summer in DC i found myself building up this awesome heat tolerance. i still attribute it to the fact that i was doing heated power yoga sessions up to six times a week, and after finding the zen to complete yoga poses with hand weights while covered – dripped, fully soaked, coated, wet hair – in your own sweat (and sometime’s getting a splash of someone else’s!) for 60 minutes, living in humid 95-degree DC weather became more tolerable.

one danish winter under my belt and i’m back to square one. i’m there with the best of the danes right now, and we’re all complaining – dying – with this heat and humidity. don’t get me wrong, it has been pretty damn humid, but still, i was shocked to convert the temperatures today and realize that it’s been MAYBE 80 once – the rest has been high to mid 70’s. it pales in comparison to DC.

however, let it be said that danes prefer to be a bit more natural about this whole summer thing. most of the year it’s wet, colder, and quite dark, so of course the buildings are designed to let in a lot of sun and air. and we’re all set up for heating quite fine. but air conditioning does not exist here. ‘climate controlled’ spaces aren’t really a thing. there’s no waiting anxiously in the car for the first blast of cold, cold air. i asked my roommate where i could buy a fan for the apartment and she said, ‘well – i guess we don’t really do fans here. i don’t know!’ so i just experience the heat in all its glory – on my bike, in my apartment, at night, etc. that’s probably why it feels rougher. but i’ll live. more re-calibration will occur.

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in the meantime, this is what i love to drink right now. it’s tart and sweet and refreshing. it’s more like a thick juice in consistency than a smoothie, really.

pineapple coconut drank

1.5 cups pineapple, chopped

1 cup coconut water, the pure kind, no sugar added

1/2 cup cold water

8 sprigs of mint

1 large banana

juice of one whole lemon

blend in your blender! garnish with a sprig of mint and add some ice cubes! drink! stay cool!

 

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Food, Review

vegetarian and raw eats in stockholm

8t8 swedenborgsgatan 1

this cozy health food grocery store slash cafe boasts an impressive amount of specialty goods in such a small space. organic fruits & vegetables, condiments, chocolate, spices, teas, grains, alternative proteins – the list goes on and on. they offer a large collection of raw snacks, including chocolate, snack bars, and crackers. home-made treats change daily – the first day i walked in there were slices of raw carrot cake and raw energy balls, while the second time i visited they had made tropical mango chia seed pudding. for lunch they offer a rotation of noodle & salad bowls five ways, for around 100 sek – i tried the rice noodle salad with curried tofu cubes. it was topped with seaweed, sprouts, and came with a wonderful dressing. the best part was that they accommodated my love of spice and brought out a basket with oils, red pepper flakes, and other asian condiments. do not miss out on the freezer full of lily & hanna’s rawfood ice cream. you will be tempted to try them all. my advice: give in.

hermans vegetariska restaurang fjällgatan 23b

a vegetarian stockholm classic. they offer discounts for students so you’ll see a lot of young people eating at this all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet. sit outside and you’re treated to one of the best views of stockholm, overlooking the harbor area. (should normal seating prove not relaxing enough, they have hammocks, too.) i was impressed by their selection of well-seasoned dishes that span a variety of cuisines – mediterranean, indian, italian, etc. bland buffet food this is not. coffee & tea are included in the buffet price. check out their dessert area – it’s worth paying extra to try some of their home-made sweets. the raw cake was sold out when i visited, but they have a variety of vegetarian and raw desserts including cakes, cheesecake, muffins, energy balls, cookies, and bars. i’d recommend visiting the fotografiska museum afterwards: it’s open late and is located just down the stairs from hermans. lunch is around 110 sek, dinner is around 175 sek.

drop coffee wollmar yxkullsgatan 10

delicious small batch roasted coffee (micro-roast?) near mariatorget. you can get a tasting flight and sample several of their bean varieties. there are a few choice seats outside for people watching and maximizing summer sun, if you can manage to snag one amongst all of the strollers. inside is light, airy, and open – the perfect place to do some reading and watch the talented staff – it is an art form here. light sandwiches and food available as well.

ecobaren @ centralbadet drottninggatan 88

if you’re willing to splurge a little bit, you’ll find ecobaren tucked into a leafy green courtyard alongside centralbadet, one of stockholm’s oldest bathing houses. take a seat outside or in, and you’ll probably be surrounded by relaxed spa-goers in white robes sucking down smoothies. they offer organic drinks and homemade juices as well as a variety of salads, classic scandinavian plates, raw entrees, and warm dishes for those that want more substance. the raw pad thai is good, and make sure to try the raw energy plate for 170 sek – a beautiful, colorful plate with lots of different vegetables, topped with a delicious tomato walnut pesto and homemade raw crackers. very filling!

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pumplm
Food, Recipe

coconut curry hokkaido pumpkin soup

Here are some things I love about fall in Copenhagen:

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Lake-side beers at Norrebro Bryghus. The best post-Monday work treat.

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Brunches with friends. Fresh squeezed OJ. Danish pancakes. Eggs. Hangovers. Chats. Danish minimalism. Light.

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Candles. Candles everywhere. I cannot exist in a space without candles these days. Also probably because the sun now sets around 3:45.

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PUMPKIN SOUP. I had been wondering what to do with the hokkaido pumpkins at the store. They are like little orange gourds, but I’d never seen or used them before. Lo and behold, they are the creamiest, most awesome fall vegetable ever. I thought butternut squash was a winner but these are something else. This soup is just perfect – it’s hearty, it’s not watery, it’s creamy and slightly sweet from the coconut but also spicy and the three flavors (pumpkin, curry, coconut) are killer. I topped mine with the requisite Sriracha and more curry, it’d also be good with a swirl of cream or some pumpkin seeds on top.

graeskarsuppe / hokkaido pumpkin soup

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 knob of ginger, around 1×1′ chunk (but if you’re a ginger lover, you can double this), diced

1 medium sized onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper

1/3 cup coconut milk, any kind (light, full-fat, your choice)

1 bouillon cube

3 cups water

3 fingerling potatoes, cubed

1 medium hokkaido pumpkin, cut into 1′ sized chunks, seeds removed

Combined garlic, ginger, onion, olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper in a soup pot over medium heat and cook until the onions have softened. Add coconut milk and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring consistently. Add the bouillon cube, water, potatoes, and pumpkin. Cover and let simmer on low-medium heat for around 25 minutes, or until both the pumpkins and potatoes are completely soft when pierced with a fork. Use an immersion blender to blend all of the soup.

 

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two wheels spinning

Know why I love to bike in Copenhagen?

Because it requires nothing of you.

Just two wheels spinning.

A helmet if you want to be extra safe. A basket for the double bags of groceries, or books, or flowers, or, let’s face it, those two bottles of wine, a loaf of bread, and cheese. Your legally obligated front and back lights, so you can join the twinkling rows of merry-makers at midnight on a Friday, heading into town to shed coats and step into smoky bars and sip cold, sweating glasses of Carlsburg in uniform sea of black and beauty.

So you might need a few extra things, but it’s just two wheels spinning in the end. You don’t need attitude, you don’t need years of experience, and biking doesn’t have to define you. It will become an essential part of you, make no mistake, but Copenhagen biking isn’t roped off for the hardcore, the ‘gangs’, the fixie-junkies, the road-ragers, the Portlandia-esque gauged ear million tat folks. It’s for everyone. It’s for the girl in high heels, the man with his kid in the back, the old folks, the unsure, the five year olds with their first whiff of independence.

If I am not biking in Copenhagen I do not feel like I am in the city at all. Driving is sterile, removed. Walking is nicer, but slow. Where’s the rush of wind? Where’s the montage of sights that shift with every minute, the changing of light, the snatches of sound, the snapshots of neighborhoods as you flash by, a scent of something lingering (is it the bakery? is it someone’s perfume? is it a fall fire?).

Here is a Sunday afternoon and everyone has taken to the lake, dappled light dancing on water, and I catch a glimpse of the swans as I lazily slide past the bridge, and now here is a young couple kissing, and next is a teenager learning chess, and now I am pausing at a red light to listen to the sound of a herd of brakes, quietly shifting like metal grass blades.

And here is the city on a Monday morning, and every single Dane is yearning for sunlight, and I catch the smell of a dozen freshly showered citizens heading to work, and there are toddlers babbling in the bike lane strapped to the backs of their long-haired mothers and bearded fathers, who coo at them in the gutteral Nordic language of which I am only beginning to be able to pick out melodies.

Biking is meditation. It is the cure for everything, they’ll tell you: a bad mood, a hangover, a feeling of joy that you fear may erupt inside you if you do not move fast and sing. You can sing in the bike lane, at night if you’d like, weaving in between glittering carcasses of beer bottles. It’s lifeblood, this way of being. It’s 3D. It’s surround-sound, it’s IMAX.

You begin biking in Copenhagen because although daunting it welcomes you, promising you don’t need to be anything other than yourself. And then before you know it, you’ve drank the koolaid. You’re just on top of two wheels spinning. You’re ruined forever.

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tiny apartment cooking like a boss

greetings from my tiny copenhagen kitchen.

 

salad

two things that i made this week that were really good were the soup (pictured above) for when i was feeling sick. and then, this grain salad. perfect for summer transitioning into fall. good heated or chilled.

i’m still at a total loss for how to proceed in danish grocery stores. i fear they think i may be shoplifting because i spend so much time staring at things, then shoving them into my bag, then putting half of them back, then taking forever to check out. it’ll happen. my basic formula is that things are cheap only when very seasonal. frozen foods are always good. quinoa, sadly, is very expensive. as are avocados. toilet paper is very cheap here. nectarines are cheap as well. and peppers. and i found some kale the other day randomly and wanted to raise my fist in the air like a hunter with fresh kill.

two-bit vegetable soup for one

three cups water & a proportionate amount of bullion, whatever kind ya like

1 yellow zucchini, ribboned in a mandolin or sliced really thin

1 green zucchini, ribboned in a mandolin or sliced really thin

frozen edamame

1 small white onion, diced

1 bulb garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. add the water, bullion and remaining vegetables. add salt and pepper to taste. if feeling adventurous or like you may have the onset of a cold, add chili powder or red pepper flakes. cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes, until the zucchini ribbons are soft. yum.

two bit salad for one…for lunch 4 an entire week

4 cups water

2 cups of farro

enough bullion for 4 cups of water

1 clove of garlic, minced

add all of these ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, until the farro is cooked but crunchy. then stir in:

3 red peppers, diced or sliced thin

1 cucumber, diced or sliced thin

1 small red onion, diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Serve hot or cold!

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