All posts by Mervin

Gemista – A Rainbow of Stuffed Veggies

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With less than a month left before the baby is due to arrive, a riot of feelings are bombarding me as I am trying to get mentally and physically prepared. The excitement that our small family (or perhaps not so small anymore) soon get to meet the tiny person that has been kicking my ribs out for the past months. The nervousness how this baby will affect our family’s dynamic. And the fear that we won’t have time to hug all our children and each other enough as we will be drowning under all the duties of everyday life.

I don’t think I can be entirely mentally prepared for all the changes that are coming. But I am at least trying to solve a few practicalities. I have just started filling the freezer with soups, bread and vegetable patties. I have also picked up a small selection of new clothes for the baby and brought down the ones we saved from Isac from the attic. Isac has been sleeping in our room until now but will soon move in together with Elsa. Things are starting to fall into place, piece by piece.

One bump in the preparations is that David actually is traveling to Turkey tomorrow and will be there for a few days for a mission with WFP, meeting Syrian refugees and documenting their stories (he will tell you more about it here on the blog soon). Even if I am not thrilled about the timing, we both felt like this was something we wanted to be involved in. It’s a beautiful cause and we are humbled by the opportunity to take part of it. I’m just crossing my fingers that the baby isn’t too eager to come out early (and that he will stay safe down there)!

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Lately, I have been making variations of the Greek dish Gemista (a.k.a stuffed vegetables). The kids are loving it and have been shoving there faces full with the stuffing even before it’s baked.

The traditional way of preparing the rice is to let it cook together with the rest of the stuffing ingredients but since we are using red or black rice, we cook it separately and then add it, otherwise it stains the entire filling and it just doesn’t look pleasant.
In Greece they usually also add some potato slices in between the vegetables on the tray and then pour a thin layer of tomato passata to cover the bottom of the tray. This slightly cleaner approach work well in our family as the kids love to hold the stuffed vegetables with their hands without getting messy. But feel free to add potatoes and tomato sauce for a more traditional take.

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We used a mix of green, yellow and red tomatoes and peppers and it came out so beautiful. If you only have red tomatoes, that of course works as well. It is easily made vegan by swapping the feta cheese with tofu.

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Gemista – Rice Stuffed Vegetables 
Serves 4

200 g/ 1 cup red rice, rinsed
500 ml / 2 cups water
1 tsp sea salt

1 kg / 2 lb mixed tomatoes and/or bell peppers (approx 15 vegetables, less if they are large)

1-2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
20 wrinkly black olives, pitted
2 tbsp pickled capers, drained
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 handfull almonds, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp raisins or finely chopped dates
150 g /1 cup feta cheese (optional)

Yogurt sauce
1 cup natural yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F.

Place rice and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, lower the heat immediately and let simmer on low heat for as long as instructed on the packet (meanwhile prepare the other ingredients). Drain if needed and transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.

Trim off the top of each tomato. Use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds and flesh from the tomatoes and into a bowl. Slice each bell pepper lengthwise and discard the seeds, alternatively trim off each top and discard the seeds (depending on the shape of the pepper).

Heat oil in a skillet, add onion, olives and capers. Finely chop the tomato flesh and add it together with the seeds and liquid. Sauté for about 15 minutes until soft and fragrant, then transfer to the mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Fill upp the tomatoes and bell peppers with the stuffing, pressing down very gently as you go. Place the caps back on top of the tomatoes and bell peppers. Place the vegetables in a greased ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tomatoes and bell peppers are soft, golden and have slightly burnt edges. Whisk together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a small bowl while the vegetables are in the oven.

Serve the stuffed vegetables with a drizzle of yogurt sauce and a simple side salad of choice.

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PS! We are having a supper club at Urban Deli in Stockholm next Monday, 26th September at 17.00. We have created a dinner menu together with them and it includes a few smoothies from our new book, warm dishes from our other books and a dessert. We will be there all evening to talk about our books, food philosophy, answer questions and also try to sit down and chat with all of you. Hopefully we will all have a nice and cosy Monday evening. Tickets can be purchased here!

We have also released a few new products together with Urban Deli – a curry, a salad, a smoothie and a delicious overnight oats – that are sold as take-away boxes on all their locations.

Apple Pie Sundaes (30 minutes!)

Apple Pie Sundaes (30 minutes!)

Fall is just around the corner here in the northwest and I can barely contain my excitement for it all. Are you ready for all the apple and pumpkin things?

Let’s get started with an apple pie sundae, shall we?

This naturally sweetened apple pie sundae is what I go for when I’m craving apple pie but don’t actually want to make a whole pie (namely the crust).

View, Print or Pin Apple Pie Sundaes (30 minutes!) from Minimalist Baker →

Tahini Noodle Bowl with Collards

Tahini Noodle Bowl with Collards | @naturallyella

When I changed my diet to focus on plant-based meals and moved away from junk food, I found exploring new ingredients intimidating. Sure, I could easily toss together a salad, bake a sweet potato, or grill asparagus. But I avoided other ingredients for years. Jicama, kohlrabi, and collards didn’t find their way into my diet until much later. However, once they did, I realized I was missing out. In fact, collards are the perfect cooking green in my opinion. They are one of the heartier greens, holding up to heat much better than their chard or spinach counterparts. This tahini noodle bowl is just the start of a few collard recipes this fall. It’s easy, vegan, and the perfect way to jump into cooking collards. Read more and see the recipe.

The post Tahini Noodle Bowl with Collards appeared first on Naturally Ella.

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice & Broccoli Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice & Broccoli Bake

Consider this my healthier, vegan homage to a cheesy broccoli rice casserole.

However, I don’t like the words “casserole” or “hot dish.” Hearing them conjures up images of church basements and mystery potlucks. So instead, why don’t we call this a bake? Glad you’re on board.

This recipe screams fall and the holidays. Am I jumping the gun on fall-themed dishes? I say no.

Cauliflower and broccoli are in my part of the world at the moment and I’m putting them to good use recreating one of my favorite side dishes.

View, Print or Pin Cheesy Cauliflower Rice & Broccoli Bake from Minimalist Baker →

Cajun Cauliflower with Cilantro Avocado Sauce

Cajun Cauliflower with Cilantro-Avocado Sauce

Post sponsored by Bed Bath & Beyond. See below for more details.

In the transition to fall, there are certain foods I gravitate towards such as warm stews, stick-to-your-rib meals, and spice. This cajun cauliflower uses one of my favorite spice combinations, also labeled as blackened seasoning. I enjoy the seasoning because it’s smoky, spicy, and the perfect compliment to cauliflower. In fact, you can easily purchase a blackened/cajun seasoning. But, if you have a well stocked spice cabinet, you could probably whip up a batch of seasoning. Beyond the seasoning, when I make cauliflower steaks, I like to steam the cauliflower before grilling. This helps to take the raw edge off the cauliflower so the final texture is perfect. Additionally, the pre-seasoned cast iron grilling pan from Bed Bath & Beyond’s Artisanal Kitchen Supply is perfect for this recipe! For one thing, you to get the char just right on the cauliflower! Read more and see the recipe.

The post Cajun Cauliflower with Cilantro Avocado Sauce appeared first on Naturally Ella.

Strawberry Coconut Granola

Strawberry Coconut Granola

Do you have any embarrassing childhood cereal obsessions? My ultimate indulgence was Fruity Pebbles, then came Lucky Charms, and later, Frosted Mini Wheats. And when I was in college I developed a thing for Special K with Strawberries.

Are you sensing a pattern? I got progressively more old lady in my cereal tastes as I got older (appropriately so). And these days I don’t even buy cereal and only make my own – the ultimate grandma move.

View, Print or Pin Strawberry Coconut Granola from Minimalist Baker →

Yogurt Love: A Dozen Favorite Recipes

I thought I’d highlight one of the ingredients I reach for most often. Yogurt isn’t just for breakfast or a quick snack; it has limitless possibilities. If you wrap it in cheesecloth and let it drain, you’ll end up with creamy, delicious yogurt cheese (labneh), to which you can add herbs, spices, or citrus zest for a savory spread, or berries and honey if you’re after something sweeter. Unsweetened plain yogurt is the perfect base for many dips, and a favorite component in a wide range of soups and grain bowls. I’ve included a list of my favorite yogurt recipes below. Enjoy! xo – h

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil: This recipe, from Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal was a big hit when I initially posted it. It’s great on many fronts, fast and easy!

Pomegranate Yogurt Bowl Recipe
Pomegranate Yogurt Bowl: We’re on the cusp of pomegranate season, so keep this in mind. A simple breakfast bowl made with Greek yogurt, fresh pomegranate juice, puffed quinoa cereal, toasted sunflower seeds, and honey.

Labneh Recipe
Labneh Recipe:How a package from Jaipur, India inspired lots of yogurt-straining, labneh-making.

Mast-o-Khiar Yogurt Dip
Mast-o-Khiar Yogurt Dip: The prettiest dip in my repertoire – my take on the Iranian preparation of Mast-o-Khiar (yogurt and cucumber). I use lots of fresh herbs, dried rose petals, toasted walnuts and a pop of added color and tartness from dried cranberries.

Fresh Mint Chip Frozen Yogurt
Fresh Mint Chip Frozen Yogurt: A luscious fresh mint frozen yogurt recipe from the wonderful Sprouted Kitchen cookbook.
Herbal Rice Salad with Peanuts & Yogurt

Herbal Rice Salad with Peanuts & Salted Garlic Yogurt: An herb-packed rice salad recipe with peanuts, toasted coconut, a strong boost of fresh lime, and salted garlic yogurt. A recipe to keep in your back pocket.

Mung Yoga Bowl
Mung Yoga Bowl: The kind of bowl that keeps you strong – herb-packed yogurt dolloped over a hearty bowl of mung beans and quinoa, finished with toasted nuts and a simple paprika oil.

Other yogurt recipe inspiration!

Cantaloupe and Mint Yogurt Pops (Sprouted Kitchen)

California Yogurt Bowl (Quitokeeto)

Turkish Style Vegetables with Yogurt and Green Chile oil (Ottolenghi)

Frying Pan Yogurt Flatbreads (Anna Jones)

Naz’s Aash-e Reshteh for Norooz (A beautiful version of one of my favorite soups)

A few last thoughts: When it comes down to something as straightforward as purchasing or sourcing yogurt, the only thing that matters is finding a good source or brand. That slick-packaged, synthetically sweetened stuff at the supermarket isn’t what you’re after. Look for fresh organic yogurt rich in live active cultures, or if you’re more ambitious, try making your own. The live cultures in yogurt help maintain an optimum balance or microorganisms in the digestive tract. This supports healthy digestion, strengthens the immunes system, and provides a host of other benefits.

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