whole foods and beyond....nourishing the body, spirit and soul

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

spinach dip

want your kids to eat raw vegetables???


jeeze, I've said that so many times, even I'm annoyed of hearing it! but it's the truth. make a tasty dip, and your kids will zone out, dipping whatever you put in front of them....while saying "i love you mom." ;)

i may have posted this recipe before, so sorry if this is deja vu. I've been making this dip for about a year and it never fails to be a hit. 

it was even our hero yesterday.

we ran errands in the evening and when we stumbled through the front door around 6 pm we were starving. and cranky. and starving. 

riding solo while my husband is on mission, makes dinner time a little more hectic as i have no one to occupy dimitri while i put the finishing touches together. it was a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel of three-year-old-whines, to know that literally all i had to do for dinner was throw a dish in the oven! and bam! 15 minutes later our little fingers were dippin' and scoopin' and sloppi' all over the coffee table while we watched a movie:D

besides the fact that dip will get any veggie into anyone's mouth, my favorite thing about it is the ability to make it ahead of time, so it's patiently waiting on you:) i did all the prep work for this dip, including chopping veggie slices, earlier that morning while dimitri sat at the counter eating cereal. 

key to being a (an awesome) mom: use every moment to your advantage! and know when i found time to reorganize my husband's closet? just kidding, i didn't do that.....yet....

alright here it is:
4 c loosely packed fresh spinach
1 1/2 c plain greek yogurt
1 c shredded parmesan cheese (buy a block and shred yourself)
1/2 c plain kefir
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
dash black pepper
a pinch fresh nutmeg

*roughly chop the spinach and grate the parmesan.

*sautee the onion in olive oil until translucent. add spinach to the onion and cook until wilted, constantly stirring.

*add the garlic, salt, pepper and grate in a dash of fresh nutmeg. cook for two more minutes.

*combine the yogurt, cheese and kefir.

*add sautéed veggies to cheese mixture and stir to combine. pour into an 8x8 greased baking dish.

*set in fridge for later, or bake immediately for 15 minutes on 400 degrees or until the edges are bubbly. 

*dip yourself to better health!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

baltimore and broth

so we travel a lot. 
and we always take a lot of food.
a lot.

food for the road, food for the rest stops, food for the hotel...sometimes even food for the continental breakfasts! my sister and i once brought in "outside" gluten free waffle batter to make on the hotel's griddle! apparently that goes against the rules of a continental breakfast, and we got set straight for that;)

i even packed a gourmet raw meal for our trip to virginia, complete with sauerkraut fermenting in the car on the way!! and it was awesome.

but of all the crazy food shenanigans we've managed to pull off, this week in baltimore has to top them all. 


see how he can't even pull himself away to smile for a photo?

yes, as simple as that. 
as weird as that.

i made homemade broth on saturday to help us get over some stuffy noses. we ate the broth in a soup on saturday night and decided to bring all the leftovers with us on a whim when we left on sunday night. in between our touring of the city, we've been pouring the broth into cups and warming it up in the hotel microwave (side note: I'm against microwave usage on a regular day, but when in a hotel....).  

drinking it has been magical! so tasty! and so nourishing! mmmmm.... 

awww so sweet:)

don't think your kids or husband or traveling band of gypsies will drink that??? you know why my three year old gulps down his broth??? cuz he watches his mom do it (and grandma and grandpa) and can't wait to join in the fun!

so travel lesson sunken into my brain: make broth the day before travel. take said concoction in a thermos along for the ride:)

and then there's these two...

note: it's very typical for my dad to have crazy eyes in pictures....

and my real reason of posting, if i ever stop blabbing and get around to it...

we are in baltimore today and hoping to catch a standby flight to germany tonight. so excited to be back in my own home with my very own husband:)  but so not looking forward to continuing life without my two all time favorite babysitters:(

i love you mom and dad!
thanks for hosting me, my babies, and my craziness all summer long!

see you in the spring america

Friday, October 5, 2012

my summer recap

summer has come and gone so fast i can hardly believe it! i really had a great summer this year. i tried new things, i discovered new parts of my creativity, i went to a few conferences, laughed a lot, shopped a lot, and made incredible memories with friends and family. 

so with out further blabber, here are the top ten highlights of summer 2012.  

10. flying home
in the spring i decided to fly back to the states with my two year old and two month old all by myself, while my husband was busy traveling for work. i was nervous about how this long trek would unfold, but through prayer, god provided everything we needed every step of the way. safety, calm children, someone to help carry bags, someone to carry dimitri….

9. mod podge beginnings
i used mod podge for the first time this summer to add a layer of hot pink glitter to my travel mug. my addiction has begun...and after adding glitter to all my makeup brushes, I'm on the hunt for more things to glitter. yes, i know I'm crazy! 

8. my husband's visit
my husband was able to take time off from work and stay with us in the states for july! it was an amazing month of bubbles, swimming, camping, painting, eating and laughing! 

7. the pinterest awakening
when i first started using pinterest last winter i thought it was really stupid. really really stupid. somewhere down that long road of judgement i found a few art projects….fast forward to my obsession with pinterest! I've gotten so many ideas off this phenomenon that it has revolutionized my life!

6. the decorator
i always wanted to be that person who was really into decorating their house, but was never quite sure how to get there on a budget. through august and september, i worked my butt off night and day (seriously, i would be dreaming about my projects in my sleep!) to add some personal touches to my parent's house….. and was quite shocked that all my homemade decorations look sleek and all come together to unify the look!

5. my baby boy turned 3
it is so strange to think of that tiny new born in your arms, and to realize they are now their own little independent person. i don't know what happened! i did get to throw him his first over-the-top-birthday-party...and IT WAS AWESOME.

4. starbuck's
do i need to say more? carmel iced coffee was my jam this summer.

3. greek dancing
for the last few years my family and i have gone to a greek dancing club at our greek orthodox church every tuesday week. dancing, laughing, and eating were our usual tuesday nights:)

2. my brother's wedding
my favorite part??? slow dancing with dimitri!!!

1. relationships
what a generic title. but i had to get it all in there... the time I've been able to spend with my family, friends and jesus has been nothing short of fantastic. being home with my parents while my babies are little is indescribable. building on relationships and making new ones with friends this summer has overwhelmed me with joy. and just when i think I've had a huge does of jesus love, he gives me a drink strong enough to knock me off my feet. i love that man! and can't believe he loves me back!

my summer is not what i imagined…..but so much better! i hope you have amazing memories of sunshine and laughter to look back on as you snuggle up to the fire this fall!

Friday, April 13, 2012

feeding a family

i've been trying to write this post for about a month now. but for some small little reason i've had a hard time getting around to it......

thankfully my friend recently messaged me a question about feeding her one year old daughter, and this gave me the starting point to "feeding a family."  i want to share this with you because having a "picky eater" is so common in our culture. so i hope you can gain inspiration from our conversation. please jump in and leave a comment about what has helped you to nourish your children (and other loved ones). after all, i think our best resource is each other and the trial and errors we've gone through on the journey. tune in next week for part two of this series, as i bring the "logistical" part of feeding everyone nourishing foods:)

here is her message to me:

Hi Eleni, 
I am writing you because I am having a bit of a problem with "julie" being picky with food. I was wondering if you could suggest something. Before, she loved everything- spinach and all. Now she is really giving me more of a hard time eating. She still gets homemade goats milk formula. Did Dimitri go through any picky stages? It is an awkward eating time because she doesn't really want pureed foods anymore. She wants solid foods. But obviously they have to be in bitty pieces. She likes any fruit, ezekiel toast, eggs, oatmeal, mushrooms(random huh?), and she likes crunchy things a lot. But not too many veggies these days. I thought maybe I could give her green smoothies to get some of the greens she is lacking in. Luckily, she does get some spirulina powder in her milk. Do you have any suggestions?

here is my message back to her:

well it really sounds like your doing a great job of getting variety in. have you tried the green smoothies with her? does she like them? with dimitri i always felt assured that he was getting everything he needed each day by having a "fully loaded" green juice or smoothie every morning. that way later in the day if he chose to only eat other foods that weren't nutrient dense (like toast, pasta, or any baked goods i might have around) i knew he had already surpassed his nutritional needs. at this stage, while she hasn't been exposed to overly sweet foods, she should be pretty receptive to some hardcore green juices. i think her shift in not eating everything you put in front of her is just her realizing what she likes and doesn't like, so don't worry if she doesn't eat what you've chosen for her every time. when dimitri was still transitioning to solids, he would nibble on raw collard greens no problem. but later, as he ate more and more new foods, eating a raw collard just wasn't as appealing to him as other more exciting foods.

I've read a lot that babies and toddlers will go through phases where they'll be really into a certain food one day and then have no interest at all in it the next. they're total "swingers." hehe:) anyway, continue to offer the foods she resists and when she's ready she'll try it again and at some point enjoy the flavors again.

another thing thats always worked really well for us is, whatever I'm eating, dimitri will eat.
no matter what:) maybe you could let her pick the food right off your plate if she's ready for that.

a recent discovery for us was giving him a few options at a time to choose from at snack time. he would ask me for a snack and i'd get him what i had ready for a snack or whatever i could get quickly, like a banana. and half the time he wouldn't eat it, and would get all upset. i finally read an article that talked about
toddlers liking to have choices. so whenever he asks for a snack now ill put three healthy things on a plate and let him have at it. some times hell eat just one, other times hell eat all three. either way i can feel good about his decision making. i know "julie's" not at that toddler stage yet, but since girls mature faster, she might be ready for something like that.

oh and another way to sneak veggies in would be to 
"hide them in plain sight." literally just sneak them in everything she already likes. lets say she wants something sweet so you make her chocolate avocado pudding...pulse in some zucchini with it and spinach too. dimitris a big fan of rice. whenever i make it i sautee veggies in the pot first and then cook them up in the rice. that works really well with all the grains, legumes and beans we eat. does she do scrambie eggs yet? that's another great place to sneak them in.

dimitri eating a sunday afternoon lunch of brown rice, lentils and sautéed vegetables.

jeeze, i just thought of another one. if i leave food out on the counter, dimitri will be so curious he won't stop until he's tasted it.... and then of course stood there and finished off the whole thing. this usually happens after i've roasted chopped veggies and just left them on top of the stove to cool. yesterday i had to pull him away from the kitchen to stop picking at the roasted broccoli...what a great problem to have! or if i have a bowl of nuts and dried fruit sitting around, hell get excited when he "finds" it and eat the whole thing. so i guess for this one, have little things within her eyesight that she can grab if she wants it.

i hope you can use some of these suggestions with your princess. i think the most important thing is that you
only offer foods that are nourishing. as long as you do that, no matter what she's eating, you know its doing good in her body.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

the latte revival

upon moving to germany in september i sadly waved goodbye to my beloved raw lattes:( you can enjoy some of my favorite recipes herehere and here. finding quality raw nuts at a decent price was harder than i thought. remembering to soak nuts overnight for milk making in the morning, was even harder as i became more and more pregnant;) ahhh but the time has come for a revival! 

athena at eight hours old

12 days ago i gave birth to the sweetest little girl i have ever met. athena gloriella was born at 6:15 a.m. at our home, which was dimly lit with candles as the subtle sounds of worship music created an unforgettable atmosphere. when the time is right, the chronicles of her journey to earth will be posted....as well as dimitri's since that's something i never got around to. soon after her arrival....ok you got me, it was the very next morning.....my mind switched from pregnancy mode to full on mothering gear to take care of everyone and everything in my path.....because how would the world survive without me doing everything?! i had to think of a quick and easy way to nourish my two year old and myself before the midwife came over for our check up appointment, all while carrying a fresh 24 hour old baby, and taking care of my mother who had woken up sick that morning. god creates funny situations sometimes to let us know what we're capable of! if i hadn't had to "do it all" right after my baby was born, perhaps i'd be questioning my mothering/wifing skills and how i'd...well, do it all.

so i cracked some eggs in a skillet, threw some homemade sourdough blueberry muffins, fresh from the freezer for emergencies like this, into the oven to thaw, and then the light bulb lit up. how else to round out this breakfast for optimum energy, nourishment, and of course enjoyment? the latte! since i haven't kept fresh nut milks in the house for a few months, the basics to my glass of magic needed to be altered just a bit. i now keep homemade kefir in my fridge on the regular, so that obviously needed to make a star appearance. for dimitri to enjoy this concoction as much as i would, it definitely had to have a chocolatey flavor. and so the most amazing latte was born, as i danced around the kitchen with the most amazing children i know, on the morning after the most amazing day of my life:)

dimitri and i just guzzled down this latte this afternoon. unfortunately we did it so fast, i didn't get any photos of it! i did however steal some photos of the new princess around here, so you can enjoy those instead;)

                cuddling in daddy's arms

when my husband tasted this, he described the flavors as "something you would get at a coffee shop," hence the name.....

bath time with grandma

1 1/2 c raw milk or coconut milk (i prefer the raw milk, but on the weeks i can't make it out to the farmer, organic canned coconut milk will yield the  same rich creaminess)
1/4 c kefir
1 handful spinach
1 handful ice
2 dates
2 tbs roasted sunflower seed butter
2 tbs cocoa powder
1 tbs maca powder (optional)
1 tbs coconut oil (optional)
1 tbs raw honey
1 tsp bee pollen (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash sea salt

*throw everything except ice in the blender and blend on high until everything is smooth and creamy like a proper latter should be;)

*add ice and blend again.

*pour in your favorite starbucks thermos and pretend like your trendy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

grain free chocolate cupcakes

let me just tell you how cool my husband and i are.  every year on valentines day, we get super excited for the food that we'll be celebrating with.  

no romantically plotted dates.

no forced cheesiness.

no flowers.

just food.

 you better believe im all about chocolate!  i usually make one thing for valentines dessert, but perhaps being nine months pregnant has influenced me towards the decision to make multiple treats for us to enjoy this year;) among them will be my favorite cupcakes.


this chocolate cupcake recipe has been under my belt for a few years now.  i love to feed it to non gluten free people and watch as it rocks their world.  this cupcake is so smooth, moist and chocolatey, that you would never guess its base is black beans, let alone gluten free!  its light and fluffy, leaving you feeling heavenly with each bite lingering on your taste buds:) oh i can't wait for valentines day!

1 15 oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed well
5 organic eggs, plus 1 yolk
2/3 c honey
6 tbs butter
6 tbs cocoa powder
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

*preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with cupcake papers.  i read a trick recently to make cupcakes the shape of hearts: place a marble in between each paper and the side of the pan. as you pour the batter in, this should create a heart shape. haven't tried it, so don't be mad at me if it doesn't work out!

*place all ingredients in food processor and mix until smooth.

*pour 3/4 of the way up each muffin tin. bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

*these are so great on their own, a crazy frosting just might ruin them. if you want to top them keeping it simple would work out wonderful with something like real whipped cream, or a chocolate drizzle made of coconut oil, cocoa powder and honey.

*enjoy them with your valentine:)

wouldn't you love it if this stud was your valentine too?


what will you be making for valentines day?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the ravioli fiasco

"sorry this is so crappy guys. but at least try to get full." dinner should never start off with such harsh words, and yet it did last night.  to my horror, the homemade gluten free ravioli i had envisioned to serve my husband and son for dinner, played out far worse than my scariest nightmares.  spending hours in the kitchen, using up expensive gluten free flours, and six freaking organic eggs!!!....only to have it land on a  plate as a total disaster, literally left me feeling unsatisfied with my whole day as i laid my head on my pillow last night.  am i crazy or what?

not only did it taste horrible, but it looked horrible as well

so let's start from the beginning.  ever since we got to germany, i've had strange longings for foods that i haven't had in a while.  some may say pregnancy, but i know myself, and i say it's desiring to eat for comfort and to induce feelings of familiarity in a foreign place.  cheese filled ravioli has always had a special place in my heart.  whether it was the frozen garbage straight out of the bag, eaten for lunch with friends as a teenager, or ordering it in an upscale restaurant, those raviolis always treated me right.  so i've been searching for a frozen gluten free ravioli to make, knowing in advance that it would be a task and a half to try this from scratch.  with no luck (for the last five years!) i finally had the courage for some stupid reason this week, to think "hmmm ill try to make homemade ravioli for dinner one night." oh how naive of me.....

so i found a good sounding recipe from a trusted gluten free blog.  i love everything over at http://glutenfreegirl.com/, and felt pretty confident about how straight forward her gluten free ravioli recipe was.  and as a bonus, she was also rolling her dough out with a rolling pin for lack of that "must have" pasta making machine.  watch enough food network, and you too will realize that this is a necessity in every kitchen.  things were promising as i blended my flours of choice; brown rice, quinoa, corn starch and xanthan gum with the eggs, oil and salt in my food processor.  to my surprise the dough actually looked like a dough! and i was able to knead it! now we all know how rare that happens in the gluten free world... so i joyfully rolled the dough into a ball and set it in a dish to rest for a while.

things looked promising as i went upstairs to put dimitri down for his afternoon nap. just over a half hour later, i glided into the kitchen on a cloud thinking i was about to make a successful dinner from such a previously daunting task. wrong! here's where everything started to fall apart.  of course, when rolling gluten free dough, it will inevitably stick to your rolling pin. so, annoyed that this happened with my first portion of the dough, i pulled out my trusty wax paper and placed the dough between two sheets.  back and forth. back and forth. i vigorously rolled this dough out as thin as i could get it.  of course, when i tried to peel the top layer off, it was one huge sticky mess and wouldn't come off with out ruining the whole disk.  i regrouped, made a new game plan and decided to put the flattened dough, still between the sheets of wax paper in the freezer, so it could think about how to behave.  of course, my two year old had to wake up after only an hour of sleep.  so i laid down with him to help him fall back asleep, therefore leaving me more time to nurture this pasta to life. nope. didn't happen.  of course, he fell asleep, but woke up every time i moved to get off the bed for the next hour.  now this really put me behind.  the rest of my portions of dough were in the fridge waiting for me when i finally got back to the kitchen over an hour later.   so i rolled the three remaining portions between wax paper and stuck those in the freezer too.  when the first disk was finally frozen enough to take the wax paper off of it, i set out to cut them in squares, fill them with about a teaspoon of cheese and seal them off, all with a beautiful crimped
edge.  ive seen giada, mario and even bobby do this a million times on the food network in five seconds flat...how hard could this be?  ill tell you how hard it could be...i slaved in that kitchen for at least the next hour, trying to problem solve my way through this mess, as everything around me became disorderly, and my back cried out for a heating pad, only to have the dough continually fall apart in my hands and stick to everything! i did manage to get most of them into the pot of boiling water so i wouldn't be completely defeated.  at this point, i tried to get past the fact that they were all misshapen and looked ahead to smothering them in a delicious red sauce. wrong! of course, the texture was thick...like card board, and the flavor was just off, leaving a strange after taste in your mouth. it was utterly and completely gluten free. and the last thing you want to be thinking when you're eating something, is that it's gluten free.  if you can figure that fact out by just tasting something, then some where down the line things went horribly wrong. my husband comforted me by making jokes and continuing to taste them through out the cooking process.  but all we could really say in the end was "this would have been the most simple thing, had it just been regular white flour...."

if you have any information of the whereabouts of good gluten free ravioli (homemade or pre made...although at this point i think it will take a lot of counseling and reflection before i attempt to make it from scratch again) please send me the info.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

sunbutter chocolate bites

homemade chocolates are my favorite

 and apparently, they're my husband's favorite too...a tray of twelve was gone in a week! 
and i only had three!

when i decided to come up with the recipe for these chocolates, i wanted them to be bigger than bite size, but small enough that they could be eaten in two or three bites. an ice cube tray was the perfect mold for the job.  smooth velvety homemade chocolate will make your conscience feel good about eating a sweet treat at any time:) since it's loaded with healthy fats from coconut oil, sunflower seed butter and almonds, you'll be nourishing your body as you tame your sweet tooth as well.

with two layers of filling, your tongue will dance with delight, as the chewy nougat mixes with the cookie layer!  i was even surprised at how well this combination worked out to transport me to that magical chocolate candy bar land.... but on a more important note, the nougat i created for this chocolate bite contains raw egg whites. what better way to come up with a healthy, fluffy consistency with just the right chew to it?  if this is concerning to you, or perhaps you've never had whipped raw egg whites, consider this: research shows that as few as three per thousand eggs are infected with salmonella.  and these findings are referring to the commercial variety.  i never use anything other than organic eggs in my kitchen for many reasons, but to avoid salmonella contamination is a reason high on the list.  Dr. Mercola states, 

whipped egg whites are fluffily like marshmallow dreams
"only sick chickens lay salmonella contaminated eggs."  stick with a trusted organic brand and this should never be an issue.  although egg whites, raw or cooked contain many nutrients, it's important to not overeat raw them.  Sally Fallon teaches, " it is fine to consume plenty of raw egg yolks, a custom found in many traditional diets, but consumption of raw egg whites on a regular basis can lead to digestive problems.  the problem is...that raw egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with protein digestion."  so have some self control, and don't go making these chocolates everyday!

to learn more about eggs and their true benefits check out these articles from the Weston A. Price Foundation.

this is what your cookie layer should look like
Sunbutter Chocolate Bites:
1/2 c almonds
5 dates
2 tsp maca
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

*place almonds and salt in food processor.  grind until the almonds have become a flour.
*pulse in the rest of the ingredients and run until the mixture holds together. add another date if its not sticky enough, or add a little water if it's too sticky.
* set cookie mixture aside.

2/3 c gluten free puffed rice cereal (see notes)
1/2 c roasted sunflower seed butter
2 organic egg whites
2 tsp raw honey 
pinch sea salt

*beat sunbutter until smooth. (to help mine out, i added a tbs of warm water, since i store nut butters in the fridge.) set aside.
*in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until you have reached firm peaks.  this should take around five minutes.
*little by little, fold the egg whites into the sunbutter.
*next stir in the honey and cereal.
*set aside.
he had to taste everything! he was downing coconut oil:)

1/2 c coconut oil                                                  
1/2-3/4 cocoa powder
1/2 c dark cocoa powder
1/4 c raw honey plus two tbs
dash sea salt

*gently melt the coconut oil on low heat.
*combine cocoas and salt.
*pour oil and honey into the cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth.
*taste and see if the chocolate is dark enough to your liking or sweet enough.  adjust by adding more cocoa or more honey.

*pour about a teaspoon of chocolate on the bottom of each ice cube mold. let stand in the freezer for at least five minutes.
*after mold has been taken out of the freezer, pour a teaspoon of nougat in each mold. return to the freezer for at least five minutes.
*after mold has been taken out of freezer, mold a teaspoon of cookie layer to fit just inside the perimeter of the mold and set it on top of the nougat. press down gently.  next, cover the top with chocolate and enough to run down the sides and reach the bottom of the mold.
*let chocolates chill in the freezer for at least fifteen minutes before popping them out of molds. 
*this chocolate will not hold up very long at room temp, so store in freezer.

1. i wanted the inside of this chocolate to have a crunch factor.  my solution was the box of gluten free puffed rice cereal we had laying around. (we only eat cereal in emergencies around here...like when my son decides to wake up before 7 am and im not even alive yet to fix a real breakfast!) however, to my extreme disappointment, the cereal lost its characteristic crunch during the freezing process.  if you want to achieve a crunch with this bar i would suggest folding in raw cacao nibs, or chop up one of your favorite nuts.

2. when you're finished making chocolates, check around your house for mysterious little chocolate hand prints:)

instead of making a couple batches of these in ice cube trays, i decided to use my leftovers to make truffles for a new years party we went to.

i rolled the cookie layer in tiny balls. and then rolled a chocolate brownie layer made of walnuts, dates and salt around them.

then i covered them all in melted semi sweet chocolate:) they were awesome!

just between you and me, we all kept sneaking back to the fridge all night to grab more of these;)

happy new year and happy chocolate making!