Baked falafel and healthy tuna spread

November 18, 2015 § 5 Comments

A few days ago I mentioned I had made a big batch of falafels and loved it. Today I bring you the recipe for that and another easy to assemble lunch for busy work-weeks.

falafels

Baked falafelyields ~ 33 falafel balls

2 cans of chickpeas (approx. 350g)

1 yellow onion (or a bunch of spring onions)

1 bunch of dill

3 tbsp. capers

3 roasted peppers – don’t skip these!

salt, pepper, cumin, or your favourite spices – I used zaatar

2 tbsp. oat flour – you can substitute any kind of flour you have on hand

How-to: you only need a food processor and a big bowl. Use the food processor to mince all the ingredients then mix well with your hands. The dough should be easily shapeable but if not you can add a tiny bit of oil. The roasted peppers should be really good quality; the ones I used came from a jar and had been packed in oil and spices. They were lovely!

As soon as you’ve formed the falafel balls, place them on a baking sheet and brush them gently with a bit of oil. Then bake until they are slightly golden, but not overly done. If you leave them too long in the oven they will easily fall apart, and you don’t want that. The chickpeas were already cooked and it took only 20 minutes for the falafels to be ready.

There are infinite variations for how to eat these falafels: in a pita bread with dill yogurt sauce, atop a salad, in a sandwich, or in a ziplock back when you’re travelling as a snack.

Here I had it on top of a beetroot salad and next to cottage cheese. Such a satisfying lunch!

falafel 2

 

Normally for lunch I like to make a decent sized salad that can hold me well. I try to include some protein, carbs and fat – this is the ideal combination. Since I love fish in any shape or form I played with the idea of making a tuna spread where I could maximize the volume of veggies without underpowering the tuna. This one was easy peasy. 🙂

spinach

Tuna spreadyields 2 generous servings

1 can of tuna – if packed in oil you will need to reserve the oil for later use

1 carrot

half a red pepper

4 tbsp. yogurt – I used Greek for extra protein and creaminess

2 tbsp. mustard

How-to: grate the carrot, cube the red pepper and mix all ingredients with a fork until you get a paste-like consistency. I served this with a  spinach salad and extra crackers (unpictured). This recipe is super versatile: you can use broccoli or any kind of cooked or raw veggies, add avocado or pumpkin/sunflower seeds for extra fat, sprinkle paprika or your favourite spices, serve it on red pepper ‘boats’ etc.

It’s ideal because it packs a lot of nutrition and can be assembled in 10 minutes flat. You’ll also have leftovers for later. Try it, you can thank me later. 🙂

 

Ce ma asteapta in 2016

November 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Tocmai am vazut la Anca acest joculet, pe care in mod normal il incadrez la categoria ‘zodiace si astrograme’ si am zis ca ii pot acorda un minut din timpul meu. Cum asa? In ultimele seri, in tramvaiul ce ma duce alene spre casa am inceput sa ma gandesc cate am de facut in 2016, cate sunt deja planificate, fixate, antamate. Am cateva date concrete despre 2016: este anul in care (1) ne casatorim si (2) in care speram sa facem alte cateva lucruri importante. Toate bune si frumoase, doar ca ideea ca incaleci pe viitor si ii dai bice, iar el te duce unde nici cu gandul nu gandesti, imi cam displace. E loc in viata si de poticneli, si de greseli, de tras aer in piept, de cazut la pamant de pe coama viitorului.

Si totusi, am facut joculetul si…. surpriza!!! Cuvantul anului 2016 este pentru mine ‘Future’. Ei na!

future

Practic in 2016 o sa dezvolt relatii noi si o sa fiu fericita, plina de speranta, lipsita de griji, incununata de succes. Oare joculetul asta a fost creat de Neti Sandu si prietenii ei? Mda, nu stiu de ce, dar am impresia ca o sa ma intorc la cititul in stele de una singura. 🙂

Our week-end in review

November 11, 2015 § 2 Comments

Lately our week-ends have been packed. When we’re not travelling, we have guests or are entertaining or are planning a trip or get-together… you get the point. I can’t remember the last time we sat around doing nothing (which arguably I’m not very good at anyway!). The past week-end was jam-packed with activities and I don’t regret it in the least.

Saturday started bright and early with brownie baking. Yes, you read that right I was baking brownies on Saturday at 8am. Very unusual start of the day for me but the brownies were a major hit with all of our friends and I even managed to freeze a few pieces. The recipe is incredibly easy to put together, in fact I whipped up the batter the night before and left it in the fridge. I promise to give you the recipe soon, this is a winner for sure.

brownie

After dropping some brownies to our friends’ house we drove to Gland, where wine-tasting was in order at the Caves Luis Vinzel. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and people were flocking around the wineyards taking sips left and right. Basically, the way this works is that you pay 15CHF which includes a glass and any amount of wine you can sip from the different wineyards. The event was very well organized – from the train station in Gland a bus or mini-car would drop you off to the different wineries which participated. We were done early but I guess the whole atmosphere becomes much more jazzed up later in the day. 🙂

wine 1 wine 2 wine 3 wine 4

We got hungry pretty soon and made a pit-stop at one of the restaurants in Vinzel called Malakoff. The place serves these wonderful dishes based on… you guessed it: cheese. Malakoff is basically a fried piece of bread with cheese on top. I loved it but couldn’t down more than 2, as it’s quite heavy stuff. The views from the restaurant were amazing though and the restaurant serves really great food – highly recommended.

mal 2 malakoff 1

 

Sunday is for resting, right? Well, not if you live in Switzerland and the weather is gorgeous in mid-November. On Sunday morning we woke up to perfectly clear skies and 20C temperature. We decided to tackle an easy hike in St Cergue with our friends. It was more than perfect and I stripped down to my tank top. The views were incredible and we stopped often only to take pictures. St Cergue is such an incredible area and we plan to go back this winter for some snow-shoeing.

munte 1 munte 2 munte 3

We went to bed early that evening as I had an early morning train ride to Zurich. We have some more travel planned for this week but I already want to go back to the mountains… Countdown to Christmas you said? 🙂

Despre moarte si alti demoni

November 10, 2015 § 3 Comments

Am treburi. Cu totii avem. Dar aceste treburi par chestii anodine fata de marele animal care este moartea. Ea parca anuleaza orice sens, suspenda orice activitate, orice plan. Atat de paralizata ma simt in fata ei ca imi tin si respiratia. Si totusi moartea continua sa ni se intample zilnic, natural, fara drept de apel, uneori (si poate cel mai cumplit), fara preaviz.

Incerc sa o inteleg, sa o rationalizez, sa o integrez fiintei mele, sa o normalizez. Dar sunt chestii asociate mortii – suferinta, socul, accidentul, lipsa de sens, golul, dorul, iubirea si afectiunea care de-acum si-au pierdut obiectul. Pe astea mi-e tare greu, spre imposibil, sa le mestec si sa le inghit.

Sper, cu tot egoismul din sufletul meu, sa nu trec niciodata prin asa ceva.

My go-to breakfast as of late

November 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

breakfast

I’ve sang songs of praise for porridge before but ever so often I find myself craving for some variation which is when I resort to tapenade toast with mozzarella, freshly squeezed juice and omelette or… a good old smoothie.

The breakfast below is my emergency, can’t be bothered breakfast that I can throw together the evening before. I basically dump some Greek yogurt in a bowl, top with a frozen mix of raspberries and blueberries, sprinkle some linseeds, leave the whole thing on the countertop and call it a night. You may wonder why I don’t store it in the fridge? Well, I very very rarely eat cold foods and you wouldn’t catch me dead eating a smoothie from the fridge in the cold season.

This breakfast is extremely refreshing and satiating; I find that it keeps me full for 4 hours or longer. It’s packed with good protein and fiber and it’s on the table in under 1 minute, which is great for busy weeks. Other great additions could be mashed avocado or kale – if you do use kale make sure to blend the whole thing and perhaps add some milk.

If you need this to be sweet you could always add a bit of honey or maple syrup – would work great here!

Let me know what you think if you try it!

November. What I’m looking forward to

November 6, 2015 § 5 Comments

The countdown to the year end has begun (actually it never stopped…) Here’s a list of things I’m looking forward to:

  • A good running race – whether it will be the one at the end of November, or the one beginning of December I know for sure that I won’t let this year go by without completing a race. Because they’re so much fun!
  • Many more squash games. We have one scheduled for tonight, yay!
  • Some Christmas shopping and gift-making. This year I am actually planning to bake some cookies for friends. I love that I can start doing this early on and don’t need to leave it last minute.
  • Listening to Christmas carols and drinking some hot chocolate until… we take off for New Zealand. Which I’m hoping will be warm and nice.
  • Speaking of New Zealand here are my top 3 things to look forward to: hiking in Fiordland (supposed to be a-ma-zing!), meeting with my beloved penguins (fingers crossed!) and drinking endless cups of coffee (Kiwis are famous for the good quality java they make and I.can’t.wait)
  • Reading some more – I’m currently deep in ‘On the move’ by my beloved O.Sacks and ‘Rising strong’ by Brene Brown – she is such an incredible writer.

Here’s a cute pic – a house in Gex at the end of October.

gex

What are you looking forward to?

Why I’m proud to be Romanian

November 5, 2015 § 4 Comments

I have often been ashamed to admit to someone I’m Romanian. There, I said it. In hindsight I think this was because I was afraid I would be judged strictly based on my nationality. I’ve lived through a number of episodes where I was called out on my nationality or singled out because of the country I grew up in – and not in a good way. I remember once when Elvin and my sister were renting bikes from the local bike center the guy there asked for my nationality, and to my boyfriend’s and sister’s disbelief, I said I was Croatian. It wasn’t the first time – I was on a train once when a guy tried to pick me up and when he started a conversation asking me the obvious question, I said I was Serbian (in case you’re wondering, yes, he turned out to be Serbian; you can imagine how this ended).

Shame is a very powerful emotion – it dominates a lot of what we do. Being ashamed of your roots – your nationality, your parents, your upbringing is very painful, as you’re negating a significant part of who you truly are, irrespective of judgements.

But over time I have not only come to terms with being Romanian – I’m actually proud of it. In fact, I consider myself blessed to have been born and raised in that country. Why? Well, let’s just say we Romanians did not have it all. Because of the hardships my generation and even 2-3 generations before us endured I understand what it means to be competitive, to have goals and work for them, to be frugal, to save money, to not have everything at your fingertips. I know the power of dreaming – after all, I wanted that scholarship at King’s College London with every ounce of my being. I understand cultural diversity very well – the combination of Latin and Slavic heritage is very unique. I understand middle Eastern influences too and at the same time I’m familiar with the longing for a higher standard of living similar with the one in Western Europe.

But it’s not just inter-cultural savviness that is at play here. There’s also empathy. Because I know hardships I am much more inclined to recognize them in others and react appropriately. I know how hearts expand with compassion. And I can do a lot with very little. Now, this may be translated as ‘I can improvise, and sometimes the quality is sub-par’. I know there is this stereotype about Romanians being superficial and performing below the standards. But having little and wanting more means you will need to be creative and resourceful. Being under a less than ideal political regime for 50 years (and some 25 years more) will definitely enhance someone’s resilience and capacity to rise above circumstances.

These days Romania’s face is changing before our very eyes and a huge wave of energy is surging. I’m keeping my eyes and heart fully open to see what the next chapter will bring.

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