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February 28, 2011

Healthy Start to the week

We ate quite a bit of sweets this weekend and now that it is Monday we are dedicated to starting the week as healthy as possible. I usually wake up starving in the morning- which is where the the term breakfast came from, to "break a fast." Breakfast should be one of the bigger meals of your day. Studies have shown that those that skip breakfast eat more through out the day than those that do. I love a big breakfast. I look forward to it the minute I open my eyes in the morning.

If you do not wake up hungry it might signify that you are eating too late at night. Our bodies need a rest from digestion, and it is a good idea to give yourselves a few hours to digest your food before you go to bed for the evening. You know how sumo wrestlers get chubby? They eat and then they lay down! So yes, today both Nikos and I did not wake up hungry, so we ate light.We started the morning with fresh fruit and hot water with fresh lemon.

Soup is one of my favorite foods, something that Nikos makes very well, and when it is cold, it is the perfect way to warm up the body. One thing I always keep in my freezer is frozen fruits and vegetables. When I make soup I add the frozen vegetables (such as peas, green beans, spinach, corn, etc.) in my soup. It boosts my meal with extra vitamins and minerals and offers a more substantial meal- I am full longer. I like the biological soups shown in the picture, because I understand what the ingredients mean. Anytime I pick up an instant soup, or any food product, and I cannot understand nor read the ingredients it means it is not good for my body and I avoid it. Of course fresh is best, but some of us do not have the time to whip up fresh soup, nor have fresh vegetables on hand. Also, some of the instant soups taste really yummy.

Nikos went to work with a bag of raw natural almonds and 2 fava sandwiches on 100% whole wheat/high fiber bread.- I loaded them with extra protein, salmon on one, and a grilled egg on the other. I threw in some tomato and red bell pepper to sweeten them up. Bon Appetite!

February 27, 2011

Light Blueberry Burgers

2 cups flour
1 TBSP baking power
dash salt
1 cup blueberries
4 egg whites
1.5 cups fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Bake 20 min at 200C.

These came out very airy and they taste very, very, very light as they only have 12o calories and are fat-free. The blueberries offer flavor yet you know you are eating a light muffin. It is always my aim to make sure that light does not taste light so I am not sure if I will make this recipe again. I prefer to use low-fat products (instead of fat-free) as they offer better taste and, well, life is TOO short to omit taste! Sometimes I prefer to use regular butter, sugar, etc. I just try to eat a smaller portion-if that is at all possible.
We sweetened them up a bit with mascarpone frosting and made blueberry burgers (Nikos' idea). Even though the cupcake taste has improved, we are not distributing these to the family.

Light Buttermilk Lemon Cupcakes A+

These are buttery and delicious!

1 cup flour (whole or white)
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP lemon zest
1/2 cup buttermilk (light)

For icing we used light cream cheese and light butter with a dash of powdered sugar!
These taste so creamy and they are light, about 150 calories and 4 g of fat, minus the icing.
We also put a tiny piece of dark chocolate on the top and a surprise in the middle :)

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/8 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pureed pumpkin, fresh/canned
1 tablespoon soy yogurt
1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon molasses

Mix dry and ingredients separately and then add together. Bake at 200C for 20 min.

Unfortunately these just came out of the oven a disaster! They taste soooo yummy but they are stuck to the paper lining and are gooey on the inside- and they have been in the oven for 75 minutes now. I believe we are having a problem with the measurements and the measuring instruments we are using. Also we used fresh pumpkin ( which is better than canned) however I have only used canned pumpkin, which is readily available in America. Canned pumpkin is hard to find here (we have not found it as of yet) nonetheless, we will attempt again until we get it right :))

Liz's Cupcakes

Nikos and I took a day-trip to Napflio to visit Liz's new cupcake shop! Liz was having an open house and we wanted to support her so we took the drive to meet her and try her cupcakes.
We tried the lemon cupcake, almond rose-water and the jungle cupcake (peanut frosting with banana cake). We really enjoyed the frosting on all the cupcakes, which tasted very fresh and delicious. We also loved the colors of the store- very "dollhouse-like" with alternating hot and baby pink colors. The customer service was a 10 out of 10 which is difficult to find in Greece. Thank you Liz and we will be back :))

Cherry Bruschetta

Sweet Saturday breakfast:

Cherry Bruschetta
one cup of fresh cherries ( I used canned cherries in its own juice)
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
4 large slices of sweet brioche bread
1/2 cup 2% FAGE greek yogurt
1 tsp powdered sugar

In a bowl toss the cherries, sugar and lemon juice. Mix yogurt with powdered sugar. Toast the bread top with yogurt and finish with cherry mixture.

Fiber Cakes- The recipe

My favorite muffins in California come from Trader Joes. They are a recipe from Zen Bakery and have 60% fiber in one small muffin. I attempted to recreate the recipe and here is what I used:

1 apple, diced ( I planned on using two but only needed one- I used the sweet pink lady)
200ml grape juice concentrate
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1tsp soda
2 cups wheat bran
1 cup wheat flour

I then baked for 20 minutes at 180C/350F. We topped them with 100% fruit jam (strawberry) and LOVED them. These are high-fiber healthy muffins and are not meant to taste like dessert. Nikos and I absolutely love the taste but not everyone will agree as some people are looking for a sweet and buttery muffin. I do recommend giving them a try at least once. You can add applesauce, blueberries, or honey if you wish for a sweeter or fruitier muffin.
Last night we watched "The Notebook" and ate fiber cakes- very romantic :)

February 26, 2011

Salmon Sandwiches

I made Nikos three kinds of sandwiches for lunch yesterday- all consisting of one main ingredient- smoked salmon (IKEA is yummy). One one sandwich I used avocado cream and orange bell peppers, while on the other two I used sweet mustard and dill sauce (IKEA gravad lax sauce) and fresh parsley on one sandwich and tomato on the other.

Nikos favorite was the avocado cream sandwich :) Even though gravad lax sauce is delicious, 100% homemade does come out in the avocado cream, which results in a fresher and more unique flavor.

February 25, 2011

Our FAVORITE bakery in Athens- CAKE

Nikos and I went to the cutest bakery in Athens called Cake late last night after our IKEA excursion. The ambiance and decor is darling- very cutsey and doll-house like. They have maybe 10 different kinds of loaf- cake and a few pies, brownies, cheesecakes, round cakes and cupcakes. We tried the banoffee cake and the mini cupcakes. We loved the red-velvet and the banoffee best. The others were a bit dry, but the owner said they were not as fresh (as it was 945pm). They were prettier to look at than to actually consume. The banoffee was flavorful and the creme was really fresh. Yum!
You can order salads, soup, coffee and wine there as well so it seems like a great place to meet a friend and spend some time together.

February 24, 2011

Nikos explains the Greek Traditions

As in many part of the world the Greek food is an important element of every type of celebration, from births, weddings to major holidays like Christmas and Easter. Today there is a special day called Tsiknopempti that is an annual tradition in Greece of meat eating before lent and fasting before Easter begins. The word Tsiknopempti comes from two other words 'tsikna' (the smell of burnt and grilled meat) and 'Pempti' (Thursday in Greek) and is celebrated on the Thursday, which is 11 days before Clean Monday (the start of Easter fasting). Easter is the most sacred observance in the Greek Orthodox faith and follows close with family tradition. Preparations and customs remain some of the most traditional in modern Greek life, mainly in villages and the islands.

Meat eating for celebration has its origins back to ancient Greece.

Beef was very expensive, so it was rarely eaten. Beef and pork were only available to poor people during religious festivals. It was during the festivals that cows or pigs were sacrificed to the gods, and the meat was cooked and handed out to the public. Fish was the main source of protein in the ancient Greek diet. Therefore sailing and fishing has always been important in this region of the world and created the history of Greek Shipping (my other passion). The ancient Greek diet consisted of foods that were easily raised in the rocky terrain of Greece’s landscape. Breakfast was eaten just after sunrise and consisted of bread dipped in wine. Lunch was again bread along with some olives, figs, cheese or dried fish. Supper was the main meal of each day. It was eaten near sunset. It consisted of vegetables, fruit, fish, and possibly honey cakes. Sugar was unknown to ancient Greeks, so natural honey was used as a sweetener. During the summer fruits and vegetables were readily available. Fruits were eaten in all possible manners, while vegetables were preferable well dressed. For the winter they dry out and preserve them. Another way of preserving a whole variety of fruits is to put them in honey, carefully ensuring that the fruit does not touch other fruits.

So the conclusion is that ancient Greeks were mainly vegetarians.. something that is the exception today in the modern Greek community.

We can explain why Greeks are carnivores in many different ways but it doesn’t really matter. Today we have the choice and the knowledge to treat our bodies in the best possible way, the only element missing is time away from our hectic schedules for new ideas and creation. So therefore, in this respect we are trying to do some work for you.. so we hope you will keep reading our blog :)

Healthy Shakes- the perfect snack

I love making shakes. They are easy for your body to absorb and really delicious. Also, if you are in a hurry a shake makes a great breakfast or lunch. I use almond milk (it is light and I try to stay away from dairy as much as possible- more on this topic later) ground flaxseed, banana, natural protein powder and if I have raw cocoa nibs or hemp seeds they are really good additions as well. I top Nikos' drink off with natural granola and mine with banana. There are many health benefits from healthy shakes and depending on your specific needs you can add or subtract different items. Flaxseed is rich in good fats and is high in fiber and I eat it everyday. My favorite protein drink is called Source of Life- it tastes like sweet granola- it is so yummy and has been around since the 1960's (obviously it has lasted so long because it tastes so creamy and delicious). Berries (frozen or fresh) are a great addition and have great health benefits as well. Enjoy!!

Americaniki Sandwiches

I sent my Greek boyfriend with two traditional American sandwiches today: 1) Peanut butter and jelly and 2) peanut butter, honey and banana. Let's see which one he likes best, or if he likes them at all. I do recommend using natural peanut butter, however we used up all our peanut butter for cupcake sunday so I used the Skippy that was in the fridge. The jelly is 100% fruit and the breadis 100% whole grain. And the honey, well it is Greek- and FANTASTIC. As you can see the jar is empty and we will be buying some from the countryside on our weekend day-trip to Napflio.

A breakfast favorite- Avocado Cream eggs

I am going to let you in on my favorite secret recipe. If I am cooking for two people I use the following: 3 or 4 organic eggs (very important to eat eggs that come from happy chickens), 1/4 cup/100ml of almond milk, one onion, a dash of olive oil, cumin, sea salt, pepper, 2% FAGE yogurt, honey, and a fresh lemon. I usually have a banana with my breakfast and today we had smoked salmon as well. I try to make breakfast my biggest meal and taper down as the day progresses.

I saute one onion, over med-high heat in a dash of olive oil. In the meantime, I beat three eggs and add the almond milk (you can add regular milk, soy milk any kind you wish) and add to the onions after they are slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and cumin. Then in a separate bowl mash a ripe avocado well, add two spoonfuls (TBSP) of yogurt and about one small spoonful (TSP) of honey and one spoonful (TBSP) of lemon juice. Blend well and serve with the eggs. Sometimes when we crave the extra fiber we eat breakfast with knackebrod (Swedish hard rye bread/crackers). In the picture you can see we are drinking hot water with lemon too- an everyday must!

Can't Sleep...

I am up late- it is 4am and I cannot sleep. There is a stillness outside that is rather beautiful. Living in a large city and experiencing such a sense of tranquility can be odd. I was over at a lovely family member's house tonight and had to BEST dinner. Marinated octopus with potatoes (I LOVE LOVE LOVE Octopus), lasagna, cheese pie, salad with sweet balsamic dressing and butter beans with bacon (Nikos favorite). Yum, Yum, Yum. Maybe I cannot sleep because I am thinking about how good the food was :) The little three year old had the longest eyelashes I have ever seen and he was so beautiful and kind. I believe we will be at the same reading level so it is nice to know I have someone to practice my Greek with!

Tonight Nikos and I are going to IKEA to buy new food utensils so we can bake again on Sunday. I will also be making salmon burgers with dill creme sauce and cheddar turkey burgers with peach salsa over the weekend.
Our cupcakes for this weekend include the light/vegan/healthy kinds: Lemon Buttermilk (light) and for muffins: Blueberry (light), Vegan Pumpkin (MY FAVORITE!) and Fiber Cakes (high-fiber).
We will be posting pictures and recipes for you and we hope you enjoy them.

February 23, 2011

A very happy tummy

Well, after the quinoa sat for a while (about 2 hours) it became so laden with fresh flavor that we opted aginst the dressing and instead put the spinach directly in the recipe-delish. It is amazing how buttery the dish tasted without an ounce of butter or oil. I did add a dash of cumin in as well- my favorite spice.
For dessert, I made my apple pie specialty. One apple diced, put in a pan, with a dash of quaker oats, honey, cinnamon, about a 1/4 cup hot water and a pinch of salt. Baked for 30 minutes at 350F/180C and put about 2 teaspoons of light butter (this can be omitted if you wish to make the dish even lighter- however the slightest amount of butter does give the dish a zing). I then made fresh whip topping with 2% FAGE yogurt (it tastes different and MUCH better here in Greece) and about one spoonful of organic powdered sugar. Makes a great substitute whipped cream. Sometimes when I feel the need for a sweet treat and want to eat light I just dice an apple (a sweet one, like a Pink Lady) and top with cinnamon, apple sauce and then bake it. It really is so good without an ounce of butter or sugar. Fruit is truly nature's candy :)


February 22, 2011

Quinoa, the magical food

I just had my first private Greek lesson today! I am really excited to learn the language. If there is anything else I get excited about, besides food, it is education, in any form.

SO now on to my dinner of the evening: Quinoa ia an amino-rich, high protein alternative to couscous or rice and has a buttery taste. It is one of my favorites while I was vegetarian/vegan as I needed to find alternate methods to increase my protein intake. Tonight I am making a simple recipe, quinoa with onions, bell peppers (red and orange) and parsley- another magical food that one should have in their everyday diet. My Danish lineage stems from a long line of farmers and if it one thing I have been taught, it is to EAT MY PARSLEY! This very well have something to do with my 6' frame :)

I have boiled the ingredients together, thrown in a dash of sea salt and minimal pepper (as it is acidic forming) and I have set it to steam in its own juices.
I am a fan of the "hot-cold" salad. I will top a fresh bed of spinach with the hot quinoa and top with a new dressing Nikos and I bought in Charmonix last week- a balsamic concoction made from hemp oil and full of good fats.
I think this will be a yummy meal :)) I will post pictures later!

February 21, 2011

Cupcake Sunday

Today we started baking at 3PM and three hours later had 60 delicious cupcakes! The flavors: Cookies and Cream, Banana Chocolate Chip with cinnamon frosting, Carrot Cake with nutmeg frosting, and a good old American classic- PB&J (peanut butter and jelly), a vanilla cupcake filled with pure strawberry jelly and topped with all natural peanut butter frosting.

The biggest problem we had was with the cream frosting on the cook
ies and cream cupcake- it turned to yucky mush after we added
in the Oreo crumbles. Also, the cinnamon frosting was a bit runny as our butter was not soft and we had to somewhat melt it (not advised). Today the frosting is perfect so I suppose maybe it needed more time to set. The cinnamon frosting recipe called for 2 parts cream cheese to one part butter, while the nutmeg frosting called for equal parts butter to cream cheese.

We will make our second attempt next Sunday with Vegan cupcakes (my specialty) and light/ high fiber organic muffins. We have so much fun together in the kitchen and it is true that when you have a passion for something it comes out in the taste!

We home delivered to four separate family members for review. We will keep you updated on the results. We realized we need the proper kitchen tools and the ability to configure the measurements from American to metric units. We have a date with IKEA for this week.

My favorite- PB &J and I believe that Nikos favorite was the Carrot Cake.

February 19, 2011

Bakery hopping

Today Nikos and I went to visit some local bakeries- Fresh, Paul (French) and Special Cakes. For lunch we ate a fresh sugar roll from one of the bakeries and unfortunately it was dry :( The sandwich, however, including the bread and the tomato and egg filling, was FANTASTIC. For our afternoon Fika (a lovely Swedish tradition that includes an afternoon coffee and cake siesta) we tried three cupcakes from another store which we both agreed were OK, not bad, but as we are searching for the perfect dessert recipe we were extra strict with our review. The cake for all of the three cupcakes were the same- chocolate- and two of them were really dry and the third was somewhat moist- I believe because it was fresher. Note to self- MAKE SURE that desserts ARE BAKED DAILY so they are FRESH. We tried the oreo, peanut butter and ganache cupcakes. Our favorite was the frosting on the oreo cupcake- it wasn't too sweet and had a suttle taste of marshmallow.

Tomorrow we will be baking four types of cupcakes and making Fava and Hummus. I am hungry already!


The journey begins....

Nikos and I are a young couple on a fun journey together. We are living in Greece and in a constant mode of cooking, baking, experimenting, eating, more eating, and learning about the organic and holistic lifestyle. I have been a healthy eater since birth, thanks to my granola-mother and have also been raw, vegan and vegetarian at different times in my life.

I have just graduated school and have come to Greece to be with Nikos and of course to experiment with all the delicious food products available in this region. Our dream is to have a food related business sometime in the next year.

Please join us as we explore with fun recipes, and creative ideas to lighten your diet and improve your health without missing any of the taste and texture of mainstream foods. A commitment to "healthy living" has taken me on a fascinating journey that has brought healing and renewal to every aspect of my life.

Lots of love and LIGHT :)