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… 😉

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 jalapeño
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 jalapeño. 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 🙂 ) and keep them in the fridge for 3 days.

Too easy, mate 😉 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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My transition from average Western eater to health food nut

It doesn’t happen overnight, even though it might look like that to the outside world. This whole changing-your-whole-diet-and-relationship-to-food thing was a long time coming. 

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Over several years, many little seeds were planted in my mind (as in most people’s mind through through the media) about of the 20th-21st century standard Western diet. Those little seeds eventually all blossomed this spring to the point where I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I didn’t want to play along with the way our food culture was going. I wanted a big change, and I wanted a lasting change. I wanted to play big.

Then again, I’m only human, and so I felt the need to treat it like a fun game to get me started.

This Easter, I created a challenge for myself. I wanted to see if it really was “impossible” to eat healthy and avoid processed food, frozen dinners, quick meals  – and not go bankrupt.  See, that was my excuse for a really long time. Oh, you know, I would love to eat organic food, quit sugar and dairy, and treat my body like a temple, but it’s just too expensive. Money and time. Those were usually the excuses it boiled down to.

I finally decided to stop saying that eating only healthy food was too was expensive when I’d never actually given it a whole-hearted attempt. And that’s how the 30 Days of Homemade challenge was born! I decided I’d give it a real try for one month and I set up a list of rules and guidelines (a little bit like a manifesto, ridiculous as it sounds) to make sure I didn’t crack under pressure and get that frozen pizza at the end of the day…

The plan was to eat nothing but homemade food for a whole month. I wanted to know exactly what I was putting into my body, and I wanted to feed it only the best! Even if one day I had my beloved  carrot cake, that was fine as long as I made it myself completely from scratch. I knew it was going to take careful planning and that I was going to have to carve out a good amount of time in my calendar. The idea was that if I gave it my absolute best try and did everything by the book and it still wasn’t realistically possible, then fine. I could eat my frozen pizzas and be okay with it.

Spoiler alert: I’m not going back to eating frozen pizzas 😉

So what happened initially?

+ You’d think my food budget instantly doubled in size, of course. And yeah, maybe it did. But the truth is that I didn’t actually make a budget so much as I wanted to get an idea of what a food budget might look like at the end of the month. That’s kind of what the experiment/challenge was mostly about.

+ I didn’t plan on cutting anything out of my diet, but my sugar-intake dramatically dropped by default, and I accidentally stopped eating meat, chicken and fish. Oops.

+ I spent all my time in the kitchen (whenever I wasn’t sleeping, eating, working, or at the gym) and was childishly eager about everything I was making in there.

+ I felt so damn good. Yes, I was that lone weirdo smiling to every stranger on the bus to work.

(Let it be said that I don’t recommend going cold-turkey on all these “bad foods” unless you absolutely have to because of food allergies etc. It’s much much much easier on your system to make a transitional change and just start adding more fresh veggies+fruit and superfoods into your diet. My body was totally in shock the first few days when I basically tripled my fiber intake… I’m just a really impatient kinda girl. If I know I want to change something, I need it to happen NOW. Not always a smart move 😉 ) 

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After two or three weeks when my friends asked me how my 30-day food challenge was going, I told them it was going great, but that the experiment was over. I didn’t need a 30-day challenge anymore to motivate me. This was a permanent change, there was no question about it.

As for the money – it went fine! I didn’t run out of money like I thought I would. Sure, I spent more money on food than I did two months prior, but it was money so well spent. Here is something I really believe in: if you invest your money in things that are making you stronger, healthier, happier – and have the guts to trust that you will have enough – then money will not be a problem. If you stop worrying and stressing, you create space to actually see how much money you do have when you make priorities. I invested almost all of my money that month on things that would nourish me, and naturally I spent less money on things that ultimately don’t nourish me (like new handbags/shoes and too much alcohol and candy at the corner store).

If you’re thinking about making some changes in your diet to eat healthier and more environmentally consciously, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be aware of where your intention is coming from.

The reason this change in diet has worked so well for me now when it never did before (because I have tried “eating healthier!” before, just like anyone else…) is because I now come from a place of self-love. I respect and love myself enough to stop putting things that aren’t food on my plate on a daily basis.

If you’re coming from a place of fear – i.e. I’ll never look like Jessica Alba/David Beckham if I don’t start to force down a green smoothie every day or my doctor says I’ll have a heart attack by the time I’m 40 if I don’t lower my cholesterol– it’s gonna be really, really tough. We all know this! I knew this! But you can’t just recite the words “I am going to take care of my body by eating healthier food!” if you don’t really feel that love and respect for yourself deep down.

So try to keep that in mind and make sure you check in with your honest intention! That’s the difference between diet and lifestyle 🙂

Xx Christine 

Muffins mania

I’m a sucker for baked goods. I’ve never been that crazy about candy, but anything sweet and savoury that comes out of the oven immediately has my attention. My grandfather used to always get me cinnamon buns fresh from the bakery whenever he could and together the two of us would trick my mom into thinking I only had one half when really I’d always eaten two whole ones. Oh, the sugar high and the tummy ache that followed…! Those were the days, man.

When I committed to stop treating my body like a dumpster and trying to actually consistently eat nourishing food, I immediately started searching the web for healthier alternatives to my favorite baked goods. Scones, cupcakes, carrot cake, cheesecake, buns, pies, cookies… you name it. I was on the hunt. There’s an insane amount of drool-worthy and healthy recipes for raw vegan desserts out there, but turns out the reason they’re all so healthy is because they’re made from nuts. I’m extremely allergic to nuts. Cream cheese made from cashews, almonds in every pie crust… it was devastating.

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BUT, even though I’ve yet to find a healthier alternative to cheesecake that’s not made of nuts, I have found some truly amazing recipes for buns and scones and muffins. My personal favorite are the healthy muffins I found over at My New Roots. I’ve made a few batches of them, each a little different, and they taste amazing! They only contain the good stuff; sugar-free, dairy-free and almost gluten-free as they’re made with spelt flour and most people who are allergic to gluten don’t react to spelt.

If you’re expecting some über-sweet treat for dessert, these muffins are not for you. They’re only sweetened with the natural goodies like maple syrup and freshly squeezed orange juice, and they’re very hearty. Better to serve them as a breakfast muffin than as dessert, or as a snack in between meals. Since I’m a little over-sensitive to very sweet-tasting things these days, they’re perfect for me and they tend to mysteriously disappear quicker than I would like…. Okay, fine, so I chow them down like a madman. But when something is this good for you, you’re allowed 😉

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//As I mentioned, I’ve made a few varieties of these, but here’s a version with added chia seeds that disappeared from my kitchen particularly quickly…(*original recipe found here, only thing I changed was the fruit + added a little more liquid if I felt like it).

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (3,5 dl) spelt flour
1/2 cup oatmeal (little more than 1dl.. 1,2 dl usually does it.. do not get too fancy with the measurements here, you gotta be able to live a little on the wild side)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. chia seeds + 1/4 cup (0,6 dl) water
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (1,5 dl) freshly squeezed orange juice (I use about 3 oranges)
1/4 cup (0,6 dl) maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
A good handful of raisins or chopped up dates
Blueberries/blackberries
Pumpkin seeds (optional)

  1. Mix the chia seeds with the water and set aside for at least 15 minutes
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit/200 Celsius
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients
  4. Whisk together all the wet ingredients by hand, including the chia gel
  5. Blend dry and wet ingredients together. No need to blend too much; only until the whole thing is moist
  6. Fold in the berries and raisins/dates
  7. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, each one about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes

Enjoy!

Xx Christine

An amateur’s approach to clean eating

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This spring has been a turning point for me because in a lot of ways I’ve had a sort of awakening when it comes to my health. This covers a lot of areas in my life because “health”, to me, also means my general well-being. So eating more carrots just ain’t gonna cut it. I also did a spring cleaning in the stuff I was carrying around in my head that was simply taking up too much space and not really serving me anymore.

However, some of the more tangible changes I’ve made includes:

  1. I upped the ante on active living. I took it to new levels this year by starting to take my yoga practice seriously, becoming a runner, and making 30 minutes of moving my a*ss every day non-negiotiable. (Confession? Every now and then those 30 minutes are just an evening walk to the grocery store furthest from my house, and back. I’m totally fine with that.)
  2. I kicked a six-year nicotine addiction that I honestly never thought I’d be able to beat.
  3. And the thing that most surprised me was that I managed to do a complete overhaul of my diet.

Having always been physically active, I think I’ve used that as an excuse to not have to really do anything in particular with the way I eat. In the past, I have been extremely resistant to making changes in my diet. Why? Because I knew what it would mean. It would mean giving up cake. And who in their right mind would want to give up cake? Or rather, who would would want to add a big, fat dollop of guilt every time you eat that cake?

This all changed when I stopped thinking about good foods/bad foods, what’s healthy/unhealthy. Instead I adopted this very logical philosophy: just eat real food. Just….real food, for God’s sake.

The key element here is that I made a decision to just eat more real food. It’s all about adding – not eliminating. At no point did I say to myself ”I’m not gonna drink diet soda” or ”I’m gonna quit coffee”. Heck, I didn’t even say ”I’m never gonna eat at McDonald’s anymore” even though this is a choice that would obviously be very beneficial to my health. I refused to get dragged into the ”Oh my God, am I seriously never gonna have another bite of cheesecake again?! Screw that!” kind of thinking.

I mean, come on. You don’t seriously think that’s the realistic way of approaching a healthy eating lifestyle, do you?

Instead I found an approach that worked wonders for me, and I believe it would work pretty well for other mere mortals too:
Just for today, I will eat and drink only things that nourish me.”

I repeated this little mantra in my head. Looking down at my plate or shopping cart at the grocy store or the menu in the restaurant, I asked, “is this going to nourish me?”. If you take it day by day, the days soon add up. And once the days add up, you’ve successfully created a habit. Congratulations! Half the work is done, trust me on this. Here’s the good news that I’ve learned in my quest so far to become a healthier version of me:

  • It’s a day-by-day, meal-by-meal kind of thing in the beginning. Do not let yourself get overwhelmed by the idea of keeping this up for the rest of your life, that’s a recipe for disaster. Just make the choice that today, for breakfast, I will not eat store-bought cereal containing 500 different kinds of sugar. I’ll make oatmeal. Those little choices add up and before you know it, you’re a healthy, happy camper.
  • You know those cravings you’re having for sugar and grease and fried stuff? They’ll go away on their own once you start adding more real food. You don’t even have to do anything to change what you’re craving right now. Your body takes care of that on its own.

I think that the important thing to remember is that we’re all just humans here trying to do the best we can, so let’s not put too much pressure on ourselves… Effort = success in my book!

I’m definitely still an amateur at this stuff, but I can assure you that I’m reaping the benefits of turning over to a mostly plant-based diet. You just feel darn good.

I’ll keep you posted!

Xx Christine

An accidental vegetarian

Alright, so I’m not actually a vegetarian.

I’m just someone who is increasingly fascinated by all things diet and nutrition related, and who recently discovered that her eating habits mirrored those of a… well, vegetarian.

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I had a conversation with a few friends friends about it recently and I told them how I was really surprised when I realized I’d hardly eaten any animal products at all in a month’s time and I hadn’t even noticed. Granted, I’ve become much more aware of the things I stuff my face with, but I have not thought about what kind of ”bracket” that would mean fitting in to. Is it possible that I’m becoming an accidental vegetarian?

This spring, I’ve been really focused on teaching myself how to take better care of the ol’ machinery and to actually learn about nourishment. I don’t want a life where I have to elimate things in my diet, where there are things I can’t or won’t eat. Who does? Sounds miserable to me. What I do want is a long and happy life with good health. Lightbulb moment: ”Well, in that case I should probably eat more things that are not made in a laboratories.”

This naturally lead to eating a lot more vegetables, because when you’re trying to avoid processed foods they become your obvious choice 90% of the time. And the more you eat vegetables, the more you crave vegetables. It’s really quite nifty! I never consciously made the choice to not eat chicken or fish or even meat, but I find that at this point I don’t really miss it and I’m feeling really good and happy about my salads and veggie dishes.

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‘But oh no, you’re not gonna get enough protein and you’re gonna whither and die! Best fetch you a T-bone steak,’ cries the meat-eaters out there. Oh, please. If elephants, gorillas and 50% of dinosaurs can figure out how to get big and strong without eating fried chicken, I’m pretty sure I can work it out too. It’s not about eliminating, it’s about adding 😉

Here’s the thing: I don’t like the label ”vegetarian.”

  1. It tends to make people kind of judgemental of you and quick to point out if you’re ”doing it wrong.” If the mood strikes me next week and I really really want bacon with my toast, I’m gonna eat bacon. And I’m gonna enjoy it.
  2. People often automatically assume you’re an animal rights activist – or at the very least an animal lover. I’m not. I know that’s not really what people expect to hear, and I like puppies just as much as the next person, but I don’t really get emotionally evolved in the lives of animals. It doesn’t break my heart to eat a cow – that’s honesty for ya.
  3. I have no quarrel with meat. If I called myself a vegetarian, doesn’t it sort of imply that I made a conscious choice to stay away from it? I don’t think I’ll ever consciously make that choice.

Can I just be a person who is becoming more passionate about eating real food? Foods that nourishes me? Foods that don’t come with an ingredients list?

If that means I’m turning into an accidental vegetarian, so be it.

I’m sure I’ll make some cow very happy.

Xx Christine