Burrito madness

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe on the blog, but I can assure you that I’m slowly but surely eating my way through my Pinterest recipe board… Given that dairy (and my beloved feta cheese) is out of the picture for now, I’m more motivated than ever to test recipes and prove that you do not have to eat bland and boring food as a vegan!

I’ve been mildly obsessed with Mexican-style food lately, and there’s a slight chance I may have eaten some sort of burritos for dinner for a week straight. Ahem.

But c’mon you guys, the variations are endless and they taste so good!
Try these ones out for size… ūüėČ

Spicy and smoky sweet potato burritos

Spicy + Smoky Sweet Potato Burritos

Makes 8 medium burritos, 4-6 large 

1 can of borlotti beans (or black beans, pinto beans)
2 whole sweet potatoes
1 large red bell pepper
1 large red onion
1 jalape√Īo
1 fresh corn cob (or canned if that’s what you have in your pantry)
2 limes
1 good handful of fresh cilantro
Your choice of lettuce
Hummus (preferably homemade!)
*Salse and/or guacamole are always a good idea if you have them handy!*
whole-wheat tortillas

2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt & pepper

Spicy and smoky sweet potato burritos

Step 1 – Roasted veggies

  1. Peel your sweet potatoes and chop ’em up in small cubes along with your onion, bell pepper, and jalape√Īo. Put it in all an oven-proof baking dish.
  2. Coat with olive oil and throw in the spices. Mix well.
  3. Roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes; until the sweet potatoes are cooked all the way through. You’re gonna want to get in there and stir from time to time.

Step 2 – Make some burritos

  1. Heat tortillas according to instructions on package, and coat a smaller baking dish with olive oil. Drain and rinse your beans.
  2. When the vegetables are cooked, add chopped cilantro, lime juice, corn, and the beans.
  3. Fill your tortillas and roll ’em up, placing them tightly side by side in the baking dish. This way they’ll stay wrapped up, and they’ll come out nice and crispy.
  4. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until the tortillas are golden brown.
  5. Serve on a bed of lettuce and hummus on the side!

Spicy and smoky sweet potato burritos

The sweetness from the yams, the smoky cumin flavor, the spicy chilli…. YUM. 

These are excellent as a pre-made lunch option too! Wrap ’em up in foil (or for all you Norwegians: matpakkepapir ūüôā ) and keep them in the fridge for 3 days.

Too easy, mate ūüėȬ†

*I changed it up a little bit and made them vegan, but the inspiration came from this awesome recipe

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…and then I quit dairy

dairy cattle

Another 30-day challenge

I’m doing a little experiment: I’m quitting dairy for at least 30 days to see if it might be an allergen for me and to give my digestive system a little break. I don’t eat that much dairy to begin with, so it shouldn’t be too difficult, except it means I can’t eat feta cheese.

I AM HEARTBROKEN.

I’ll probably never quit feta cheese completely (and it is goat cheese after all, which is a lot better than anything made from cow’s milk), but for the sake of this elimination diet, it has to go… Tears have been shed, that’s all I’m sayin’.

cheesecake and berry tart

So, why would I choose to quit dairy?

Basically, I want to see what all the fuss is about…!

When you start reading up on nutrition and health, the “dairy debate” pops up all over the place. Everyone seems to think that in order to achieve optimal health, you must. quit. dairy. right. this. second.

There’s no getting around it. Like I said, I’m not a huge dairy-eater to begin with. I take my coffee black, I don’t drink milk, or eat dubious amounts of pizza with cheddar cheese. It’s basically going to be feta cheese, butter, and yoghurt that I’m giving up.

I want to be strict about this for 30 days to make it a bit of cleanse and see if I can tell a difference. I’m don’t know if I’m expecting anything major, but it’ll be interesting to see if I end up discovering that dairy needs to go for good.

Ice cream

My main points for motivation:

  • Most people cannot digest dairy. After the age of 4, that is. You then stop producing the enzyme lactase – which is the enzyme that digests lactose (the main sugar in milk). The fact that we (Westerners…) can digest it to some extent is a weird form of gene mutation. From a biological standpoint, I’m just not convinced that we’re meant to be drinking milk as adults… especially not milk from another species.
  • Osteoporosis. The countries in the world who chug down the most milk, actually have the highest rates of osteoporisis… Say, whaaat? I know, I know. This goes against everything we learned as kids. Read The China Study – it’ll answer all your questions.
  • Cows are often given steroids and hormones to produces more and “better” milk. These hormones can negatively affect the human hormone balance.
  • Calcium. I knew you were going to bring that up. “But what about the calcium???” You get calcium from plants too, you know. For instance, kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk. Milk made from sesame seeds contains up to 10 times more calcium than cow’s milk.
  • Cows are often fed inappropriate food. Cows eat grass – we all know that. Well, factory cows, or commercially fed cows, don’t get to eat grass. They’re fed grains and soy and corn and all sorts of genetically modified ingredients , and all this can often make them sick. To keep them from getting sick, it’s very common to keep them on antibiotics constantly – putting two and two together, all of that goes into the dairy that we consume.
  • Dairy is mucous forming, which means that – among other things – it can contribute to respiratory disorders. I’ve had asthma my whole life, and a long-term goal of mine is to see if I can heal myself and stop taking asthma medication.

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Ready, set, go! 

As I’m writing this, I’ve already gone over a week without any dairy at all. Can’t say I feel much different yet, but I’m thinking that I’ll find out more when I try to put dairy back into my diet after a month without it. That way I’ll see how it affects me. ¬† ¬†

I’ll keep you posted on the no-dairy experiment as time goes by!
Hopefully I’ll learn something useful from it ūüôā¬†

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Am I becoming a health food snob?

Tomato, feta, pumpkin seed salad

The Brown, Mushy Lunch Option

A little while ago I was at the cafeteria at my university standing in line for the 5$ lunch, trying to see if they might have some sort of veggie option that I could get my hands on. On the handwritten board with today’s specials, it said “Vegetarian: Chickpea & Vegetable Casserole”.

Awesome! It’s no secret I’m quite fond of chickpeas… Smiling, I went up to the lady who worked behind the buffet and asked for the vegetarian option. She smiled back and reached for a large pot of brown, gushy,¬†unrecognizable¬†something.

“Oh God, no! No, no, no, no”

… is what I blurted out, as I hurriedly backed away from the buffet, and went home to make myself lunch.

Feel free to scoff (I cringe while typing this), but I was initially quite satisfied with myself for that immediate reaction. Because it was proof that eating fresh and just real food, basically, is now such a huge part of me that I wouldn’t even consider eating a lunch cafeteria’s brown mush. It’s instinct. If I’m going to eat something that’s the color brown, it’s going to be something I made in my own kitchen from scratch so I at least know what’s in it.

But later that week, I kept picturing that poor cafeteria lady’s puzzled look.

Was I incredibly rude to blurt out an expression of being horrified at the vegetarian dish? 

YES. Oh boy. Yes, I was.

Collage - Health Food

I don’t want to be a food snob

I don’t want to come across as though I think I know better than you do because I’ve chosen to eat a certain way.

I don’t want anyone ever to feel like I’m peeking at their lunch/dinner from the corner of my eye and making judgements.

I don’t want to be that person who sits on their high horse and looks down on all those other people who just don’t get it like I do.

I fear that sometimes, however well-meaning my intentions are, I risk coming across as that person. Not because I consciously judge other people or think that I’m “better” somehow for choosing this route – I really don’t. But because it’s really freakin’ hard to have experienced a major wake-up call, and to learn about things I believe every person deserves to know, and not want to share that message with everyone around me.

Being passionate about something, as I have become about and nutrition and eating real food, means having an urge to express that passion and to spread the seed, so to speak. But there’s a very fine line to thread, there… And sometimes I lose my balance.

To the lady in the cafeteria – I’m so sorry I behaved like a brat…! If I’m that picky about the things I eat, I really have no business being in a cafeteria buffet in the first place. Point taken.

organic health food

Always be humble, always be kind

We’re at that stage now where my male roommates are starting to catch on to the fact that I eat differently than they do. My American roommate, who I’ve been living with for 7 weeks and cook side-by-side with daily, glanced over at my green salad the other day. He stopped for a second, and then he turned to me:

“Are you a vegetarian or something?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Ohhhhhh…… That makes so much sense now. I thought¬†it was a little weird that there’s always 3 tons of vegetables in the fridge.”

He chuckled and turned to the stove again where he was frying up thick slices of ham in 5 tablespoons of butter. Cue awkward moment as he looked over at my dinner, and then back at his dinner, and the separation of the two diet-worlds we live in just became uncomfortably clear.

The truth is that, Yes. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my roommate eating white bread with¬†cake sprinkles, or bacon fried in butter, and I think, “Oh dear lord… He’s committing the slowest form of suicide right before my eyes. Please, someone throw that guy a carrot stick before it’s too late.”

But at the end of the day, it’s not my place to pass any judgements at all. Not with food, not in any areas of life.¬†It’s not about how other people eat or don’t eat. It’s about being the healthiest I can be, while keeping myself in check to make sure that I don’t ever become that person who makes someone else feel bad about their eating habits.

Picture quote - don't have to attend every argument invited to

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My demise as a wannabe-food blogger

I was lucky enough to provide a home for a brand-spanking-new DSLR camera this past June after I’d been rigorously saving up for months and months in advance.

(No, of course, not really.¬†I’ve never been able to save up for anything. I’m more of a ‘wing it and spend it before they catch ya’-kinda girl. Tax return money, baby. They disappeared that same day and are now living a long and happy life with Canon Inc).

Anyway, I have a healthy (?) obsession with food blogs, and you wouldn’t believe the way the planets aligned for me perfectly that month…

  1. New fancy camera.
  2. Lots of free-time (and what felt like free money at the time) to try out recipes.
  3. Staying at home = Mom’s gorgeous kitchen.

It was like I was kid again playing dress-up and pretending to be a Disney princess!

Except, I’m¬†an adult¬†now, guys, so ¬†instead I was having the time of my life playing with my alternate personality as a wannabe-protog√©-fancy-food-blogger.¬†No Disney princesses here. I took it seriously too; my family would be lucky if they got to dig in while the food was still warm.¬†I would even cook stuff even if I wasn’t anywhere near hungry just so I could take pictures with my camera like a professional. Ah, those were fun times….

…which resulted in lots of picture like these:

IMG_0351

dill dressing

leeks anc chickpeas

IMG_0348Recipe found here

Well, guess where I am now? In student accommodation. Sharing an old and over-used kitchen with three other people who may¬†or may not¬†be less inclined to cook things from scratch than me. They may or may not¬†de dependent on a spotless kitchen for their general well-being and/or sanity like I do. (I’m not suggesting anything here. Just sayin’.)

  1. New camera ‚ě§ my trusted iPhone (it’s a little bit over-the-top to bring out my fancy camera to snap photos of my food… Even I can acknowledge that there would be some eye-rolls and whispers around the apartment).
  2. Lots of free-time and free money¬†‚ě§ I’m gonna go ahead and state the obvious: I’d like to meet the full-time student living abroad who’s rolling in free-time and money. So I can steal their identity and go on with my/their life.
  3. Mom’s gorgeous kitchen¬†‚ě§ this one…. “It’s charming, it’s part of student life, it’s well-stocked, I have every single thing I need, all is well” = things I repeat in my head daily.

This is what my food pictures look like now:
(Cute, right?)

Minty Moroccan casserole, Happy Camper Project

minty moroccan casserole, Happy Camper Project————————————–

Oh well, we can’t all be food bloggers.

I hope I haven’t scared you off, though, because this dish is actually one of my staples and I promise you it’s delicious.

Before I joined the other side and became a vegetarian, it was a chicken casserole. If you do eat meat, I highly suggest you make this with cutlets of bone-less, skin-less chicken; you can easily skip the broccoli and carrots then.¬†I call it “Moroccan”, and that’s really just because me and one of my dearest friends – who is half Moroccan – used to make some version of this all the time when we were living together in Egypt. She claimed her family used to make this kind of food all the time and her grandmother taught her how to make it, but really, I have no idea if she’s a credible source. She’s a bit cooky, that one – like me – so it might just be some idea she had in her head.¬†Either way, here’s the recipe for…

Minty Moroccan Vegetable Casserole with Couscous
serves 4

1 head of broccoli
2 medium/large carrots
1 yellow onion
1 red sweet pepper
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 chilli
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh mint // personally, I prefer the minty fresh flavor, but you could skip the mint and use fresh coriander (cilantro) instead. My cooky Moroccan wonderful bestie would usually choose this route
1/2 jar of tomato sauce
450 ml cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 – 1.5 cup couscous // brown rice or quinoa would also be good
1 teaspoon of butter (optional)

  1. Get ready: Roughly chop up the broccoli, carrots, onion into bite-sized pieces. De-seed your chilli, peel your garlic cloves, and cut them up finely. Wash the mint (or other herb) and chop it up.
  2. Make the couscous: Take double the amount of water as the amount of couscous you plan to use, and bring it to a boil. When boiling, add the couscous and stir it with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper (the butter is optional, but I find it just makes the fluffiest, best couscous). When stirred, cover it with a lid and let it rest for 10-15 minutes or until the couscous has absorbed all the water.
  3. Make the casserole: Start with frying your garlic and chilli in a some cooking oil (whichever you prefer); then add the onion. When the onion is soft, add all other veggies and give them a good fry-up. At this point, add the mint and be generous with salt+pepper. Add the tomato sauce first and stir it in with all the veggies. You want to then add the cream, little by little, stirring as you go. When it starts boiling, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Taste it now and then to see if it needs more flavor.
  4. Serve: …immediately and with a green salad, of course ūüėČ Gotta eat your greens!

…I’m not going to pretend I don’t miss playing around in Mom’s awesome kitchen…¬†

But at least, there’s always chocolate in the world.

Premium Organic Dark Chocolate, Happy Camper Project

 

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Reaping the benefits

Anyone who’s ever moved someplace new knows that you need to push through a period of chaos, both externally and internally, before you start to feel like yourself and find a rhythm in everyday life. I know how this goes; it’s not new to me. What is new to me is how quickly I found my stride here in little Sippy Downs in the Sunshine Coast in terms of my wellbeing.

Me moving to a new place (which this far in life has almost always meant a completely new country) usually goes a little bit something like this: 
+ Running around like a headless chicken the first few of days, high as a kite on adrenalin
+ Eating my weight in ready-made or frozen meals because figuring out the way to the grocery store and actually cooking is too much to deal with
+ Lots of coffee and coca-cola to stay awake (because getting used to new surroundings and new people is exhausting)
+ 
Jabbering away like it’s my job to anyone I make eye contact with. I talk a lot in any normal situation, so imagine when I’m nervous and/or confused
+ Staying up all night watching The Office.¬†Being mentally transported to something very familiar is the most soothing thing in the world when you’re in a new and strange place
+ Terrible digestion, in case you were wondering.
+ And then, of course, I always catch a cold. Always.

This time around the transition has been about twenty times easier than in the past, and I’m pretty sure I know what I have to thank for that. I’ve done a major overhaul this past year in terms of health and wellness, and I honestly had no idea how much it was paying off until just now. Giving up meat and eating the ‘cleanest’ diet I can realistically pull off is easily the one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. I’ve never felt this good in my life; even in this overwhelmingly new and different environment I spring out of bed at 6 am, like I would back home, and show up for the day.

food be thy medicine

another food collage

In comparison, here’s how I’ve handled this particular move:
+¬†Running around like a headless chicken the first few of days, high as a kite on adrenalin – some things never change, right? ūüėČ
+ Immediately locating the grocery store and stocking up on veggies, grains and my beloved chickpeas
+ Lacing up my running shoes and getting back to my regular morning exercise routine soon as possible. Moving my body every single day is still nonnegotiable even though I normally would have given myself some slack in the first couple of weeks. It makes a huge difference, folks. I’m such a loyal convert to this philosophy. 30 minutes every day does the trick.
+ I feel so much more calm and “unstressable” (oops! I just made up a word…. I just mean that I don’t get stressed out about things the way I used to. Yeah, school is probably going to be stressful at times. And things take time here which is a huge trigger for impatient people like me. But I refuse to get worked up about it – it is what it is. Let’s sit in the sun and have a laugh about the fun we had last night. Much better use of our time, I reckon.)
+ I haven’t had a sip of soda in months and months, and I’m down to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day. It’s a big deal! I used to be one of those people who would gladly drink 6 cups of coffee before lunch, so this is what I call progress. And it’s true what they say – you really do feel more energised even though you’d expect the opposite.
+ And finally; I haven’t gotten sick! Trust me – I’ve never even gone on vacation without catching some sort of virus, so this is to me the very proof I needed. It shows that making my health and wellness my number one priority this past year is paying off big-time.

run collage

This morning I woke up at 5.30 am, waited for the sun to rise, and then went for a 6K run around a nearby lake. I had the world all to myself and felt completely content with where I was. I got home and made breakfast (dark rye toast with raw spinach and hard-boiled eggs) and sat down on my computer to read some of my favourite food blogs. And this feeling of gratitude washed over me; similar to when I first went to the beach here. I am so grateful for where I am right now. For everything I’ve learnt about nutrition, self-love and the power of mindfulness, and about pursuing what makes me feel good in all areas of life. I had to move all the way across the world to really see how all my hard work is paying off. I’m now reaping the benefits shamelessly, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Xx Christine

A very happy coincidence

A little less than one year ago, when I started to become increasingly interested in health, I started following a few beautifully crafted blogs based here in Australia. There seemed to be a bit of a tribe of women here on the East Coast who became my go-to gals for inspiration and interesting reads on all things wellness, inside and out. Back then the thought of moving to Australia hadn’t even entered my mind; I was focused on getting my application essays ready for the University of Vancouver. But as life would have it, 10 months later I suddenly find myself smack in the middle of the gorgeous views I’ve been seeing pictures of on my favorite blogs.

Growing more and more enamoured by the vegetarian/vegan/raw food movement, I kept stumbling upon a place called Ground which is a caf√© specializing in certified organic raw food. Anytime I came across a reference to the place on blogs or on Instagram I kept thinking, that’s exactly what I’m missing here in Oslo. I wish I had a place like that right outside of my doorstep! In particular, the gorgeous Jess (from the Wellness Warrior) has been raving about this place several times and it got me drooling every single time.

Well, whatdoyaknow! My first week here on the Sunshine Coast I was on the bus driving through a little town called Buderim when I suddenly spotted a very familiar-looking caf√©. Wait, is that..? No..! Is it? Yes, it is! Holy schmoly! And there it was – just a 10-minute drive from where I now live. ¬†How crazy is that? Ever since I made this discovery I’ve been scheming and planning to see when I could find the time to go there. (Australia is strikingly similar to the US in the sense that if you don’t have a car, you’re in trouble. Buses are slow and infrequent and I would have to walk along the highway to get to Buderim by foot.)

My roommate offered to drive me there this past weekend; no doubt because she felt pity for the weird Norwegian who gets this excited about what most people call “rabbit food”. I put my fist in the air and sent a mental high five to one of my Swedish friends here who is as obsessed with green juices as I am. So I rallied up a few buddies and off we went on a sunny Saturday, me acting just as excited as if we were going to a theme park.

ground collage 1

Oh, man… This is place is everything I thought it would be. Welcoming, homey, fresh, good vibes all around. As with all vegan food, it takes some careful navigating on my part to avoid nuts, but the food I tried was absolutely freakin’ delicious. We each had a meal for lunch and then a ¬†green juice to take with us to the beach later. Me and my fellow green juice fan, Moa,¬†were swooning the whole time and decided that, “yup, we need to make this a Sunday tradition as of right now.”

ground collage 2 ground collage 3

My roommate, the driver, is Australian and more of a fried-chicken-with-chips-and-ketchup kind of girl, so this wasn’t exactly her cup of tea… But I loved seeing her give it a try! She told me that her taste buds were slowly dying and that she could barely stomach it (it was a simple green salad) “but at least my insides feel happy!”¬†She was starving two hours later and went on the hunt for a burger. ¬†Oh well… we can’t win ’em all ūüėČ

What better way to end our day than with this little fella?

yoghurt world 2

Ground – you’ll be seeing a lot of me in the months to come!¬†

Xx Christine

Hummus

There’s no better feeling than to cook up something – anything – for your friends or your family members and strike gold. It gives me immense satisfaction to know that someone liked what I cooked for them, and that they can’t wait to have it again.¬†

Cooking for friends and family has been such a pleasure lately – they seem to have given the thumbs up to all of my latest experiments, but a couple of recipes have stood out as extra popular. And when I say “a couple of recipes” I specifically mean two recipes for hummus: one regular, and one with roasted sweet potato.

I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge hummus eater. I’d only eaten it a handful of times before and if you would have asked me 6 months ago what hummus was made of, I would have said “chickpeas” and then I would have said “yuck” because I hadn’t yet discovered that I love chickpeas. Well, now that it takes actual restraint for me not to incorporate chickpeas into lunch every single day, it should come as no surprise that I’ve taken an interest in the art of hummus-making. Simple, but oh so delicious!

This one is especially dedicated to my sister and my friend K who have been asking me for this recipe for ages now… sorry girls! Better late than never ūüėČ

hummus

Hummus
Adapted from Oh She Glows  

2 cups/4.7 dl/330 g cooked chickpeas
1 tsp sea salt
0.5 tsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup / 0.8 dl tahini
7-8 tbsp fresh lemon juice (you’ll need 2 medium-sized lemons)
2 tbsp reserved chickpea liquid
A little bit of olive oil for drizzling
Ground paprika for garnish

  1. Cook the chickpeas until soft and then drain the liquid in a cup
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a food processor (I like it a little bit chunky), adding the salt last (to taste)
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and paprika before serving

cookout

(It was definitely a hit with naan bread at our cookout recently! )

Sweet potato hummus 
Adapted from My New Roots 

3 small sweet potatoes
2 cups/4.7 dl/330 g cooked chickpeas (liquid reserved)
1 lemon
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin (to taste)
A pinch of cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic
A little bit of olive oil for drizzling
Ground paprika for garnish

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 C
  2. Put the sweet potatoes (with the skin on!) in an oven proof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Roast them in the oven until completely soft, anywhere from 30-45 min depending on your oven and how small the sweet potatoes
  3. Meanwhile, cook your chickpeas, drain them, and reserve the liquid
  4. When the sweet potatoes are done, let them cool and then you can easily pull off the skin and roughly chop them up
  5. Mix all ingredients in a food processor/blender, adding the salt and cumin last. I’m really sensitive to the taste of cumin, so that’s the one thing I try to be very careful not to use too much of…
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and paprika before serving

This hummus keeps in the fridge for up to a week, and it’s a great addition to ¬†meals. You can always serve it as a side or snack with naan bread or¬†crudit√©s (fancy word for raw vegetables), but don’t forget you can use it as a spread on sandwiches with some avocado and cucumber. I also use hummus in lunch wraps with cooked pearl barley and fresh veggies, and the sweet potato hummus would be a great substitute for tomato sauce on top of a pizza crust – sounds like a fun twist to me! ūüėČ

Xx Christine