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Pinterest challenge: apple and butternut squash soup

Apple and Butternut Squash soup recipe So the soup season is continuing here and I am trying to explore more and more flavours to stock up with (for the freezer). I find these soup portions very handy for lunches (super kid friendly too!!).

Apple and butternut squash seemed like a great match, was very eager to go and try it out as soon as I saw it on Pinterest. Made few changes, because I needed dairy free option as well as keeping it rich in flavour (I am talking about butter here). Hope you like it too as much as I did. Scroll down for the recipe ;-).Apple and Butternut Squash soup recipe APPLE AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP adopted from Foodess

serves 6 adults (you are welcome to double it up!)

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large cooking apple, cored and chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried
  • olive oil for roasting and frying
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1l chicken stock
  • double cream (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Place butternut squash and apple into the baking tray, sprinkle with sage and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the veg for 25min.Apple and Butternut Squash soup recipe2. In large pot fry the onion for 5 min and add the mixed spice.Apple and Butternut Squash soup recipe 3. Add roasted veg (and fruit) together with chicken stock. Bring everything to boil and simmer for 20min.Apple and Butternut Squash soup recipe4. Puree soup using a blender. Stir in cream, if using, and return to a simmer (although it tastes totally wonderful without the cream as well). Season with salt and pepper. Apple and Butternut Squash soup recipeEnjoy!

Rasa xx

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Pinterest challenge: broccoli, cumin and yogurt soup

Broccoli, cumin and yogurt soup So the chill is on and I thought to better start the soup season (well... I have started it a while ago actually). Joni cooked this soup last year for Lukas dedication and I have been revisiting it ever since. Its my favourite soup at this moment! Whats not to like, its flavoursome (sorry to say it is better than stilton and broccoli soup), kids love it, packed with all the green veg and its freezable (lunches sorted in advance). It's found on Pinterest but it is not challenging at all ;-).

BROCCOLI CUMIN AND YOGURT SOUP  adopted from Trois Fois Par Jour (thank goodness for Google Translator)

serves 12 adults or makes many many portions for kids lunches

  • 50g butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, sliced or cubed
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 2 large handfulls spinach
  • 2 large broccoli heads, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 2l vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200ml yogurt

1. In the largest pot you can find, melt the butter and fry the onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add potato and cumin, continue cooking for about 3 minutes.Broccoli, cumin and yogurt soup2. Add broccoli, spinach and garlic then mix well so that broccoli is soaked in spices and spinach has wilted. Cover everything with vegetable stock, then add maple syrup and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

Broccoli, cumin and yogurt soup3. Blend the soup and stir in the yogurt. Season and serve it while still hot! Broccoli, cumin and yogurt soupEnjoy xx

Rasa :)

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Chocolate oat porridge with dates and bananas

Chocolate oat porridge with dates and bananasAfter drowning my post pregnancy sorrows in sugar (as I often say) for past few months, I finally feel like ready to go sugar free again. Ok, maybe not totally cutting out sugar just yet, but definitely reducing it by at least removing added sugar. Here is what I have been having for most of my breakfasts past two weeks, which is a simple porridge that is sweetened with just dates and bananas. Chocolate for breakfast have not been more satisfying than this, yum!

CHOCOLATE OAT PORRIDGE WITH DATES AND BANANAS serves one

  • 1 sachet of 27g oats porridge + milk according to package instructions
  • 1 tsp coco powder
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3-4 dates, chopped
  • 1 banana, sliced

1. Place all ingredients into microwavable bowl (except dates and banana) and mix briefly to combine.

2. Microwave for 2min or according to the oat porridge package instructions

3. Top the porridge with chopped dates and banana

Chocolate oat porridge with dates and bananas Chocolate oat porridge with dates and bananasSorry but not sorry that it is so simple. I thought I need to share this recipe anyways as it makes a very satisfying breakfast, without giving into sugar

Rasa :-)

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My very-easy-peasy pesto salmon pouches

My easy-peasy pesto salmon pouches I have been making this for quite a while and it has been our family favourite as it is full of flavour and very easy to make. It does not need added salt so its suitable for babies as well. Although we adults eat it with hollandaise sauce which does contain salt, but its completely fine eating it without. Ready to try? Recipe is bellow ;-).

PESTO SALMON POUCHES makes 4 servings

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • a bag of baby spinach
  • pesto
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • hollandaise sauce (optional)

My easy-peasy pesto salmon pouches1. Steam spinach till it starts to wilt, about 2 min.

2. Split spinach into four and place it on separate foil squares (about 20cmX20cm), top it with salmon fillet, pesto and cherry tomatoes.

3. Wrap the salmon to close. Bake the pouches in 200C preheated oven for 25min. My easy-peasy pesto salmon pouchesEnjoy!

Rasa xoxo

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My sugar free diet: update

Evil cookies!!Since my sugar free diet is officially over (thanks to evil cookies above), I thought I will give you some feedback. Some of you may know I removed sugar from my diet in March and April which was the longest I survived without eating something sweet. So I am really pleased with that at the least :-).

In the beginning I avoided foods that have added sugar, but I soon realised there were sooo many alternatives available that are almost as good as a chocolate cake! I guess you don't realise that because there are not many cakes like that available ready made. This is why I went mad over pinning hundreds of recipes on Pinterest that are raw and sugar free. I tried few of them myself ;-).

Here came the April and I decided to make it a bit strict. I chose to avoid all types of sugar which if you have any idea is very very hard to do. Sugar (even natural sugar) is everywhere. Fruits are the more obvious, but little did you know even milk contains small amounts of sugar. So I really had to restrain myself. I think what really helped is munching on nuts (which has small amounts of sugar as well in case you wondering). I think I ate so many that I was wondering is I am going to experience some sort of side effects. Thankfully nothing happened and I did not develop any nut allergies (feel sorry for all of those who suffers from it!).

Anyhow, so what are my overall feelings about sugar free diet? I I think it's great if you can stick to it! Personally I think it is simple diet, no special meal planing, all you need to do is don't add sugar to your food or check your food labels. After all if it taste sweet then probably it has high contents of sugar.

Did I loose any weight? Yes, although not much. I lost about 5kg through two months period which is little to compare how much I usually loose on any other diet. I guess I can blame my very slow metabolism after having a baby!

Did I feel more energetic? A lot of people shared with me that they feel so much more energetic after quitting sugar. Well, this did not work out for me. I felt the opposite, very very sluggish in fact. I wonder why? Maybe the hormones (after having the baby) or maybe that was a "cold turkey" I was experiencing.

Am I less of sugar addict? I think yes! I find it much easer to survive a day without a cake. Although I don't say no if the cake presents itself. I also realised that I don't have to eat the cake if its not my type of cake. I remember I used to eat a cake just because I can and because it is sweet (bye bye boring sponge cakes!). I find myself asking, do I really want this cupcake with icing? The other day I learned to make icing rose decoration for a cupcake, I was super pleased I gave it to Joni instead as I realised I would not enjoy it that much other than sugar satisfaction. Almonds are great when on sugar free dietHope you found my story inspiring ;-)

Rasa xoxo

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Sugar free April

Sugar free banana pancakesSo here is, the end of sugar free (almost) March! It was a great success even though I indulged in lots of sugar during Easter. Could anyone resist all that chocolate going around? I think it was a good learning curve and I am up for another month of trying out this "sugar-free" diet, detox, quitting or what ever else you want to call it!

So here how it went... In the very beginning I was expecting cold turkey sort of stage. But no such thing happened, instead I got little bit of cold. Not sure if it was how my body was coping or just coincidence :-D. I mean, don't get me wrong it was very hard to fight the temptation, but eventually I found the other foods to sweeten my life! Grapes are good for example and bananas of course. I tried making banana 2 ingredient pancakes that you see all over Pinterest (the other ingredient is egg), but I found it not very pancakey, instead it felt like sweet soufflé. At the end I added third ingredient which is flour, which made everything soooo much better. It would of course work with any other type of flour or oatmeal if you prefer.sweetened porridge with oats Then I discovered I could make sweet treats that are sugar free! I even created a board on Pinterest dedicated to raw treats, that are of course sugar free. My favourite are these chocolate energy bars that I made in different variations. Yum! Although I did feel sick few times after consuming too many...Sugar free chocolate energy bar Next, I realised I could introduce chocolate into my breakfast. This was getting suspiciously naughty! I was adding cocoa powder into my oats and sweeting it with dates. I felt like eating a cake for breakfast!Sugar free chocolate aots Few weeks ago I mentioned that I was quitting sugar to my sister. It turned out she was quitting it too!! We must be synchronised ;-). She did questioned my sugar substitutions as I was sipping on wine. Turns out that fruit contain sugar! I mean it's natural, but still sugar!

During Easter I fell back even further... I got tempted by chocolate :(. At least I wasn't alone. Nicola said she was having sugar days as well. Once it was over I was actually glad to resume as it made me pretty sick. So I guess it's good, I can see sugar free March was working for me ;-)Oops!So what is my goal for April? Well, cut out all types of sugar. That includes fruits and wine! Eeeeek! Wish me luck! Will let you know next month how it went :-).

Rasa xoxo

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Sugar free March

Hidden sugars in foodAnd where do I begin? My relationship with sugar is a life long! I don't remember at what point I became addicted to it, but I blame my mum that, who often would have something sweet after each meal. Don't get me wrong, in general I enjoy eating healthily, I always love side salads with my meals and I find healthy looking food quite appealing. However sugar is just getting in my way! I heard so many good testimonies about people who completely cut out sugar, but I never considered it was for me. Why? Well... I never believed I could survive without sugar! My passion is baking, how I would do that without tasting?

But something changed my mind last week. While chatting with other mums at one of the socials I go to I realised I was not alone!  You see I always thought that it's ok to eat sweet things once in a while and that it's not effective to completely quit. In reality I found quite opposite. Because once I have a slice of cake I immediately want another slice! I find that moderation does not work for everybody. After hearing another success story of quitting sugar I realised that moderation is not for addicts. I decided to first quit and then see if I can enjoy that piece of cake once in the while. This is where you are coming in to help me. Because I am writing about my plans openly here, therefore I feel accountable to you and I am more likely to succeed. What is in it for you? Well.. I will tell you my story in the end which hopefully will be an inspiration to you.

So what exactly will I be quitting? There are many types of sugar out there and I decided to quit even the most innocent types such as honey and my beloved agave nectar that I drizzle onto my breakfast oats. I also decided to no longer fool myself over organic chocolate, because it still has sugar!!! The only sweet things I may eat in my moments of desperation are fruits and maybe sugar free chocolate (that does exist thankfully!). My plan is to last for at least a month hence sugar free March ;-)Hidden sugars in foodWhich me luck!

Rasa xoxo

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Heart beet potion

Heart Beet Potion recipeLately we have been ill (me and Lukas, but not Joni). I mean we were not terribly sick, but had a lingering cold that we could not quite get rid off. My mum suggested drinking iron (apparently that improves blood therefore bugs don't stick that much to it). She actually gave me a recipe for this drink that is packed with iron which contains some beetroot and alcohol. It kind of taste like a sweet liquor with earthy tones in it. I must admit I look forward to a shot of it everyday ;-). This is why I think this would make a perfect Valentine's gift, because apparently beetroot has some natural aphrodisiac (well...apparently).

HEART BEET POTION

  • 1 cup grated raw beetroot
  • 1 cup grated raw carrot
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup cognac
  • 1 cup lemon

Heart Beet Potion recipe 1. Place all ingredients into the jug and mix well. My mum says that it is ready for consumption straight away, but I prefer drinking it when it is without bits. Therefore I placed the jug into the fridge overnight and then sieved it the next day.Heart Beet Potion recipe Heart Beet Potion recipe Heart Beet Potion labels2. I poured it into the bottles (spirit bottles are the prettiest) and labeled for presentation. You are of course welcome to use my label printouts ;-).Heart Beet Potion recipeHappy Valentines weekend!

Rasa xoxo

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Pinterest challenge: raw berry burst cheesecake

Raw Berry Burst Cheesecake recipeWe called this a fake cheesecake as it actually has no cheese (or any other dairy)! But to my surprise it tasted very cheesecake like and they were quite addictive. I made them for friends get together and by the end of it it was all gone! I adjusted the recipe a little bit to make the process of making go quicker but you can't skip soaking cashew nuts overnight (they become so creamy when pureed). So before you make them make sure to prepare for it the night before. Other than that I am already searching for another occasion to make them again ;-). Raw Berry Burst Cheesecake recipeRAW BERRY BURST CHEESECAKE adopted from Pure Ella

(for the base)

  • 100g walnuts
  • 110g raisins
  • 3 tbsp water

(for the middle layer)

  • 250g cashews
  • 120g extra virgin coconut oil (important to get a quality one for the taste)
  • 160ml agave nectar

(for the topping)

  • 260g mixed berries (I used frozen ones)

1. First, soak the cashews for 4 hours or more in the fridge, or overnight.

2. Make the base, middle layer and the topping. For each layer combine all ingredients and whizz them in the processor in separate bowls. Make sure you process middle layer really well so it comes out all creamy.  Raw Berry Burst Cheesecake recipe 3. Line the baking tin with grease paper and cover the bottom of it with the base layer. Follow it with middle layer and the topping.Raw Berry Burst Cheesecake recipe 4. Use the table spoon to smooth the top of the cheesecake. Pop the tin into the freezer for at least one hour or whenever you want to eat it (30 min before).Raw Berry Burst Cheesecake recipe5. When ready leave it to defrost it for 30 min before cutting it into squares. Raw Berry Burst Cheesecake recipe Raw Berry Burst Cheesecake recipeEnjoy!

Rasa xoxo

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Courgette and goat cheese blinis

Courgette and goat cheese blinis recipe This is another of my favourite breakfast at this moment (or lunch depending on when I have more time). I would say it's healthy, unless you label fried things and diary are unhealthy. I love eating these little blinis with salmon as it works really well together :). But you of course are welcome to experiment!Courgette and goat cheese blinis recipe COURGETTE & GOAT CHEESE BLINIS 

Serves 2

  • 1 medium courgette, grated
  • 125g goat cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Place all the ingredients into a measuring jug or a bowl and mix everything to combine.Courgette and goat cheese blinis recipe 2. Heat up the oil and then spoon the mixture into the frying pan. Wait long enough so the blinis are set on the top and then carefully flip them to fry the another side. Courgette and goat cheese blinis recipe 3. Serve warm with yogurt (or creme fraiche if you are feeling noughty) and dill. Courgette and goat cheese blinis recipe Enjoy!

Rasa xoxo

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A healthier coke float

A healthier coke floatLast week I tried making popsicles for the very first time. This week I thought I will give a try on making an ice-cream float. I have never tried a soda float that I liked, but I definitely like the idea of it! I tried root beer float in the past and I hated it, maybe it's not my cup of tea (maybe root beer requires acquired taste). Anyhow I decided to go with coke this time and make it slightly healthier than usual recipes I have seen. Just because (I am not quite sure why I went with this challenge at all!)...

First I thought I will make diary free and low fat almond milk ice cream. I thought the taste of coke and almond would go well together, a bit like amaretto and coke! I froze some almond milk with a small amount of ground almond in the cups...A healthier coke float: attempt to make almond milk ice-creamBut when I whizzed it in the food processor (because I don't have ice-cream maker), it turned into something of sorbet consistency.  Not something I would put on top of the coke!A healthier coke float: attempt of making almond milk ice-creamNext I thought I will make the coconut milk ice-cream (something safer as many I heard tried and made this successfully). Not as low fat, but still on the healthy side ;-). Here is the recipe!

COCONUT COKE FLOAT

(for ice-cream)

  • 1 400ml can coconut milk (choose the creamiest brand like "Chaokoh")
  • 1 tsp stevia

(for soda)

  • coke life

1. First make the ice-cream, strain the coconut milk loosely so liquid separates from cream as much as it can. Mix the stevia into the cream and freeze the mixture for 3-5hours.A healthier coke float: making coconut milk ice-cream2. Once the cream is frozen (in shallow container preferably), break it up and whizz it in food processor. A healthier coke float: making coconut ice-cream3. The mixture will become chalk like, but don't worry! Once you start mixing it, the ice-cream should loosen up and gain cream texture (which is what we want! right?). A healthier coke float: making coconut milk ice-cream4. Finally, time to enjoy this ice-cream float! Pour the coke into the glass and then scoop the ice-cream on top. Alternativelly you can scoop the ice-cream first into the glass and then pour coke over it.A healthier coke floatEnjoy!

Rasa xoxo

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Pinterest challenge: chilled cucumber soup

Chilled cucumber soup recipeAlthough it went chilly outside, I have been craving for refreshing foods such as salads or chilled soups like this one. Chilled soups aren't common in England but because I am Lithuanian I am quite familiar with it. My favourite was chilled beetroot soup until I came across chilled cucumber soup here on this adorable blog! I slightly modified the recipe and served it with roasted new potatoes (just what any other Lithuanian would do). Chilled cucumber soup recipeCHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP adopted from Dishing Up The Dirt

Serves 2

  • 1 large cucumbers, sliced
  • 300ml natural yogurt
  • 1.5tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • small handful of dill, (plus some for the garnish)
  • small handful of parsley (plus some for the garnish)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 sliced radishes for the garnish (optional)

1. In a blender combine cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, dill, parsley and olive oil. Blend until smooth.Chilled cucumber soup recipe2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Chilled cucumber soup recipe3. Garnish with herbs and sliced radish if using. Serve it with roasted potatoes and drizzle of oil.Chilled cucumber soup recipeEnjoy!

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One ingredient ice cream (well… almost)

One ingredient ice cream (well... almost) Although I eat ice cream any time of the year, I think today is a special ice cream day. For a long time I wanted to make one of those one ingredient ice creams, so I had a look here and there and realised it is quite quick and simple to make! So here is ho I made it...One ingredient ice cream (well... almost) So if you have not checked the links above maybe you have already guessed what this one magical ingredient is? Yes, it's just a banana! I have been freezing my unused bananas for quite some time now so I had a good amount to play with.

ONE INGREDIENT ICE CREAM

  • Frozen bananas, chopped

1. All you need to do is put the frozen bananas into the food processor and blend it!One ingredient ice cream (well... almost) It takes some time for the bananas to blend but eventually it turns into this creamy mass that can be enjoyed straight away. One ingredient ice cream (well... almost) Unless you want to play with some other flavours!

You can add any of the following

  • peanut butter
  • Nutella
  • chopped nuts
  • biscuits
  • honey
  • caramel
  • cocoa powder
  • cinnamon, cardamom or ginger
  • frozen berries

I tried out few flavour combinations myself

  • Peanut and chocolate chip (our favourite!)
  • Nutella with chopped hazelnuts (I loved it even when I dislike chocolate ice cream)
  • Digestive and caramel (almost like banoffee pie)
  • Pecan and honey (we found this tasting a bit plain)
  • Cherry and almond (we liked the least as we could taste the banana which did not suite the overall taste)

One ingredient ice cream (well... almost)

Enjoy hot weather!

Rasa xoxo

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Buckwheat, roasted veggies and avocado hummus bowls

Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowlsSomebody once asked me what food is like in Lithuania.... and after a quick think I said that traditional Lithuanian food is generally very fatty and rich in taste, and doesn't look ascetically pleasing (I don't think I sold Lithuanian food well here!). However I have shared many Lithuanian recipes on the blog here that are slightly edited and presented in a more appealing way. For instance we do eat a lot of buckwheat in Lithuania (almost like rice here), but it is usually served with fried onion and pancetta type bacon cubes which if you can imagine would look a bit brown and dull (and very unhealthy). However I used to love eating cooked buckwheat with sliced avocado and some tomatoes in the very beginning when I moved to England. I love the taste of buckwheat so I am happy that I started cooking with it again!   Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowlsBUCKWHEAT, ROASTED VEGGIES AND AVOCADO HUMMUS BOWLS makes about 3-4 bowls

(for veggies)

  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tsp cajun spices (or any other spices such as curry or Moroccan spices)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

(for buckwheat)

  • 200g buckwheat
  • 1l water
  • 1tsp salt

(for more hummus than you need for 4 portions)

  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
  • 1  ripe avocado, stone removed and flesh scooped out with the spoon
  • 2 cloves garlic, pealed
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground paprika
  • salt to taste

(extras)

  • 100g feta cheese, crumpled
  • handful dill, finely chopped (very Lithuanian)

1. First prepare the veggies. Slice courgette, tomato and red pepper and place them into the baking dish. Season the veggies and drizzle oil over them, toss well to coat. Roast in C200 preheated oven for 30 min or so.Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls2. Meanwhile cook the buckwheat (in Lithuania I am used to seeing dark brown buckwheat, but here they are much lighter in colour, although it taste the same). Add the water, salt and buckwheat into medium size pot and cook it as you would cook rice. I usually start with cold water, bring it all to boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 min or so. Cooked buckwheat usually soaks up all the water and becomes really soft.Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls3. Next make the hummus. Just pull all the ingredients to the food processor and whizz… ta da! Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls4. To combine the bowls just add a little bit of everything: roasted veggies, buckwheat and avocado hummus. Sprinkle the bowls with some feta cheese and dillpomegranate Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowls Buckwheat, roasted veg and avocado hummus bowlsSkanaus! ("Bon appetit" in Lithuanian)

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Pinterest challenge: chicken avocado soup

Chicken Avocado Soup recipeI love broth soups! I made one couple of weeks ago that I used to often make. This one is different though (one of the reasons for choosing for today's challenge)! The broth is poured over rather than used as a base for the soup. This is why it tastes soooo fresh as some ingredients don't even get cooked (some herbs and avocado). I tried avocado baked, not a good taste (to me at least)! But in this scenario it tasted wonderful! Anyway, try it for yourself ;-).

CHICKEN AVOCADO SOUP adopted from Mama Miss

  • 2 chicken breasts (I used 4 as I wanted to use for something else. Chicken cooked this way is sooo versatile!)
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • bunch spring onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1.5l chicken stock
  • pinch of cumin
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • small bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • lime wedges

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large cast iron pan over medium-high, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Add chicken to the heated skillet and place it under the grill. Shred chicken and cover with foil to keep warm, then set aside.Chicken Avocado Soup recipe2. Sauté spring onions (reserving some for latter) and garlic for about 2 minutes. Add diced tomato; Sauté 1 minute, until soft.

Chicken Avocado Soup recipe3. Make broth by add chicken stock and cumin to pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover pot and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
4. Layering in separate bowls; Fill each bowl with shredded chicken, diced avocado, remaining spring onions, coriander leaves, and lime wedge (one per bowl).
Chicken Avocado Soup recipe5. Ladle the chicken broth onto the layered chicken in each bowl. Serve!
Chicken Avocado Soup recipe
Enjoy!
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