spinach falafel with vegan tzatziki (vegan, paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free)

I’m so sad that long, lazy summer days have passed, yet I’m inexplicably happy to be back to normal life.

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I miss days of kitchen experiments and hours of recipe developing, photographing, and testing (I think we can all infer what the latter entails..), but I’m enjoying learning new things, meeting new people, and experiencing new experiences. Granted, I’m not thrilled about the mounds of homework nor the sentence ‘welcome to high school, this is where your grades start counting!’, but hearing colloquialisms being thrown around in the hallways and the world being back to ‘normal’ is definitely something I take for granted far too much.

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This past week was my first week back at school for over 18 months. For the first time, I felt well enough to go to school, to enjoy it, and I cannot express how happy that makes me. I used to take the simple act of being able to go to school for granted; I know that there are so many of the 7 billion people in the world who don’t have the privilege of education, and it hit me this week that I am so lucky to be one of the ones who do. I am so lucky to attend a top international school, to have lived all over the world, to have food on my plate at every meal. I am so lucky.

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Satisfyingly course, this falafel recipe was the result of many a crumbly, gummy, and simply horrible falafel failures.  A crispy, crunchy outside encases a vibrantly spiced filling of earthy chickpeas, fresh baby spinach, and a streak of the Middle East. Eaten hot with a drizzle of tzatziki lying on a bed of hummus, it’s probably one of the best falafels I have ever eaten. Creamy, cooling and garlicky, the tzatziki brings me back to making it alongside a short Qatari man, laughter lines engraved in the nooks and crannies of his face, telling me to ‘squish! squish!’ the cucumber. These are my favourite types of recipes – ones that aren’t just great, but better than the originals.

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Don’t forget to serve with a healthy dose of ‘call the doctor, I falafel!’

I had to.

spinach falafel with vegan tzatziki

by Alessandra Peters

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

    For the Falafel

    • 4 cups baby spinach, washed
    • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 tbsp tahini
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 2 tbsp potato starch
    • 5 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking

    For the Tzatziki

    • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled for at least 24 hours
    • 3 tbs lemon juice
    • half an English cucumber, diced
    • a handful each of dill and parsley

    Instructions

    For the Falafel

    1. In a food processor, combine spinach, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and salt & pepper until well combined.

    2. Add in the potato starch, then blitz again until well combined.

    3. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of the mixture on to a baking tray and put in the fridge for ten minutes.

    4. Pour the olive oil in to a large frying pan and set the heat to medium. Let it heat up, and when the ten minutes have passed, gently flatten the falafel balls with your hand before sliding them in to the hot oil. Watch out!

    5. Cook, four at a time, until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook for another minute or so or until golden.

    6. Serve hot with tzatziki and hummus if desired! Enjoy!

    For the Tzatziki

    1. Take the can out of the fridge, open it using a can opener, and scoop out the solid white cream from the top. Set aside the clear coconut water to use later (I love mine in smoothies!).

    2. In a bowl, combine the coconut cream, lemon juice, and a good pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    3. In a separate bowl, squash the cucumber with your hands. Keep squashing it until it has released liquid, about 20 seconds, and is quite mushy.

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    spiced oven-dried apple chips (vegan, paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, healthy)

    I know; it’s most likely scorching hot outside and I’m here with a recipe for spiced oven-dried apples.

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    Summer days are fleeting and the chill of winter is starting to tiptoe around my feet – last night, for the first time in months, I felt the need for an extra blanket warming me up at night, and this morning was no different as I pulled my jacket from underneath the towering ‘winter’ pile. But somewhere in my heart, hidden underneath the gloom and darkness of cold winter days, lies my love of warm, cozy evenings fragranced with earthy, aromatic spices.

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    Crisp, sweet, fresh paper-thin slices of apple are rubbed lovingly with a mixture of sweet, warm cinnamon, bold, nutty cloves, and potent, complex star anise. Perpetual complexity and depth coat the dried, luxuriously chewy apple to make these wonderfully simple, unassuming snacks which hide a fragrant kick.

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    On the bright side, winter also means celebration, love, and family. It means appreciation, great food, and laughter. Speaking of.. I was given my Christmas present early this year! Very early – yesterday, in fact. I’m absolutely over the moon to announce that I’m now the proud owner of a Vitamix! I think a spiced apple chip party is called for.

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    And yes, my lovely new blender has a name. That’s normal, right?

    Note:  I’ve used crisp Pink Lady apples as well as tart Granny Smith apples, and both worked wonderfully! If you’re taking part in the 21DSD, one fifth of this recipe using Granny Smiths (about 10 chips) would count as your daily natural fruit sugar.

    spiced oven-dried apple chips

    by Alessandra Peters

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 7 hours

    Ingredients (about 50 chips)

    • 4 large apples
    • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tablespoon ground star anise
    • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves

    Instructions

    1. Preheat your oven to 175F or 90C.

    2. Wash and core all of the apples. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, cut the apples in to 1/8 inch (1/4 cm) slices. I then cut all of the slices in half, but it’s up to you whether you prefer the whole slices or half slices.

    3. Spread the slices out on baking trays, taking care to not overcrowd the trays. In a small bowl, mix together the spices until combined. With either a large paintbrush or your finger, rub the spice mixture on one side of each apple slice.

    4. Bake in the oven for around 4 hours or until the top has crisped and the bottoms are still a bit chewy. If you like your apple chips crispier, simply bake a little longer, and if you like them chewier, bake them for about three hours.

    5. Once they have finished baking, turn off the oven and leave them in the oven for another 3-4 hours or overnight (I like to start baking at around 5pm, turn the oven off before I go to bed, and let them dry overnight).

    6. Store in an airtight container – the longest they have stayed around in my house has been around a week when I made a gigantic – I’m talking quadruple recipe – batch, but I would imagine they would stay just fine for anywhere up to about three weeks.

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    lemon sesame kale chips with coconut milk sour cream (vegan, paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

    Hi, I’m Alessandra and I’m addicted to lemon sesame kale chips.

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    Particularly these golden crispy, nutty, satisfyingly crunchy nuggets of pure and utter flavour with the zesty whiff of sparky, spunky citrus dipped in a creamy, thick, rich, tart dip. Seriously, these are good. When I was growing up, lemons were always the only constant in our bustling fridge; in the humid, warm climate of the Middle East, lemons were abundant and their bright, cheery hues could be seen on every street corner.

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    I remember chomping on handfuls of ‘bird seeds’ at a time, convinced that the pale, nutty seeds would send me flying in to the air squealing with joy at any moment. It may be a decade later, a few countries further, and I certainly don’t refer to sesame seeds as ‘bird seeds’ any more, but that’s not to say I didn’t find myself concealing a joyful squeal when I tasted them with the deep, earthy flavour of kale.

    Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 19.03.44And, dear reader, the coconut milk sour cream – oh my. Sweet and creamy from the gloriously thick coconut cream hidden in the depths of a chilled coconut can, and tantalisingly tangy from the fragrant, acidic lemon juice. It fits so perfectly with the lemon & sesame kale chips, but I can only imagine what else this would be perfect addition to. Sour cream is one of those intriguing magical ingredients which can completely change a meal but which tastes quite, well, abhorrent on its own. Vanilla extract, anyone? The tangy taste seems to intensify every other flavour in a dish without stealing the limelight; certainly an underrated fridge necessity. Drizzled, dipped, or eaten by the spoon, you need it in your life.

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    It is an axiom of making kale chips that you are allowed to eat at least half the batch in the process, right? Right. Enjoy!

    lemon sesame kale chips with coconut milk sour cream (SCD, GAPS, candida diet, Palaeolithic, Primal)

    by Alessandra Peters

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 25 minutes

    Ingredients (serves 4)

      For the Kale Chips

      • 200g curly kale, washed, dried, and cut into bite-sized pieces
      • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      • 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
      • zest of 1 lemon
      • juice of 1/2 lemon
      • sea salt, to taste

      For the Coconut Milk Sour Cream

      • 1 can coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 12 hours
      • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
      • sea salt, to taste

      Instructions

      For the Kale Chips

      1. Preheat the oven to 120C/240F.

      2. Place the kale into a large bowl and toss it thoroughly with the olive oil, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and a good pinch of sea salt.

      3. Spread the kale on a large baking sheet. It shrinks as it cooks, so it’s okay to not have it in a single layer.

      4. Zest the lemon over the tray of kale.

      5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until crispy.

      For the Coconut Milk Sour Cream

      1. Turn your cold can of coconut milk over and, using a can opener, open the tin from the bottom. Set aside the coconut water to use another time (it’s great in smoothies!), then scoop out the white coconut cream at the bottom of the can.

      2. Add the lemon juice to the coconut cream and stir to combine. Add salt to taste, then leave in the fridge for 15-20 minutes in order for the flavours to meld.

      To serve: Put the kale chips on a large plate and serve with fresh lemon wedges and coconut milk sour cream. Enjoy!

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      chocolate mousse (vegan, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

      Chocolate mousse. Delicious, healthy, lusciously smooth, rich, velvety chocolate mousse. Seriously. 

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      Sometimes, all you want is a thick, sleek spoonful of indulgence. The deep, dark notes of chocolate enriched with the light, sweet, airy tones of creamy whipped coconut, unique, fragrant vanilla bean seeds which speckle everything with tiny black flecks and the crunch of bitter cacao nibs dance with the tongue in a slow, romantic waltz as this creamy chocolate mousse rolls around your mouth. Ribbons of indulgent sweetness mixed with thick, lusciously rich chocolate create a real magic moment in these busy, bustling summer days.
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      The abyssopelagic flavours meld together in a way as beautiful as a child’s imagination. I couldn’t believe it when I first tasted it; starting off as a simple coconut whipped cream to top the remnants of the raspberries I picked a few days ago, my affinity to chocolate led me to throw in a handful of cacao, and from that moment onwards, things just got better and better in that kitchen.
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      I’m absolutely not ashamed to admit that I’ve taken a liking to inhaling the entire recipe within a few minutes; it’s quite incredible.

      chocolate mousse (GAPS, SCD, coconut milk chocolate mousse, vegan, Paleo, health, organic)

      by Alessandra Peters

      Prep Time: 10 minutes

      Ingredients (serves 2)

      • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
      • 1/2 cup cacao powder
      • 4 tbsp agave nectar
      • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped out with the back of a knife
      • cacao nibs, to serve (optional)

      Instructions

      1. Take the two cans of coconut milk out of the fridge. Turn them upside down, then open both with a can opener. Pour the coconut water into a container for later usage – I love using it for smoothies in the mornings – then scoop out the thick white coconut cream at the bottom of the can and place into a large bowl.

      2. Using a hand whisk, whisk for 1-2 minutes until you achieve a fluffy mixture which holds stiff peaks. Alternatively, use a stand mixer and mix for about 20 seconds.

      3. Take out around three tablespoons of coconut whipped cream and put it in a separate bowl to use as a garnish. In the larger bowl, add the cacao powder, agave nectar, and vanilla bean seeds, then whip again until fully incorporated.

      4. Divide the mixture between two large ramekins or glasses. Take the coconut whipped cream which was set apart earlier, fill a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle with the mixture, and pipe a swirl on top of each serving of chocolate mousse. Set the mousses in the fridge to set for an hour or so before serving. If using, sprinkle with cacao nibs at the last minute.

      5. Enjoy!

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      simple caramel sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, vegan, grain-free)

      Caramel sauce makes everything better – it’s quite alike to peanut butter, which has the same property. Moving on from my attempt at chemistry, this sauce is utterly delicious and is even easier to prepare than it’s dairy-filled counterpart, making it a definite contestant in my top-10 ‘I’m hungry’ list.

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      It’s a perfect companion to banana chunks, the aforementioned chunks but frozen and chucked in the food processor to make glorious ice cream, almonds, and of course chocolate pecan cookies. Is it sad that I can verify each and every one of those claims?

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      I’ve taken to keeping at least 6 cans of coconut milk in the fridge for caramel sauce emergencies; that’s how scrumdiddlyumptious this sauce is. (My lexicon consists of Roald Dahl vocabulary. Don’t judge.)

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      Attack it with a spoon, dig out a scoop of it or spread it on anything within a 2-foot radius – have sauce, will (most likely) share.

      Simple Caramel Sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, vegan, grain-free)

      by Alessandra Peters

      Prep Time: 20 minutes

      Keywords: dairy-free egg-free gluten-free grain-free paleo vegan

      Ingredients (1 cup)

      • 1/2 cup muscavado sugar
      • 1 can coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

      Instructions

      1. Take the can of coconut milk out of the fridge. Open it, then scoop the thick white coconut fat at the top into a separate bowl until you are left with just the coconut water. Reserve 1/4 cup of the water and put it into a small saucepan.

      2. Add the sugar to the coconut water in the pan, then heat on medium heat until it is fully bubbling, about 3-4 minutes. Teaspoon by teaspoon, add in chunks of coconut fat and whisk after each addition until no lumps remain. Keep adding coconut fat until you have finished it and the caramel is a light golden colour.

      3. Let the caramel come to a boil again (3-4 minutes) until it starts to thicken a bit. Take off the heat, pour into a glass container, and let the container stand, lid open, until the caramel is completely cool. Transfer to the fridge and let set for at least 3 hours.

      4. Enjoy!

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      Enjoy!