Slovak Christmas Recipes with Vegan Twist

christmas recipesMy Vegan Christmas in Slovakia

I’m originally from Slovakia so I will first describe what we usually did on Christmas when I was growing up.

We are celebrating Christmas on 24th – Christmas Eve. And you are not supposed to eat anything until dinner (fruit is allowed but nothing else) and on this day we usually have dinner around 4- 5 (depends on what is in TV), so it’s very early dinner or very late lunch. Most of the meals are prepared day before because it tastes better the next day when all the ingredients are well combined together.

After the table is beautifully decorated and two candles are lighted we sit down and start the dinner with Christmas oplátky (thin wafers stamped with a nativity scene). Once the oplatky have been shared, the meal begins with a toast of, usually, red wine or/and eggnog followed by Kapustnica (sauerkraut soup) with homemade pasta. Next come freshwater fish, usually floured and quickly fried. Carp, trout and white fish are common. Carp is served with potato salad. And later on we have some dessert – coconut balls and medovniky (something like gingerbread but made with honey not ginger). No one is allowed to leave the table until the meal is finished. After the dinner we open the presents and watch TV.

What we watch in TV during these holidays:

There are no Christmas without these Czechoslovakian classics:

Tři oříšky pro Popelku (Three Wishes for Cinderella) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070832/ , or/and

Perinbaba : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089800/?ref_=tt_rec_tt , Pyšná princezná, Princezná so zlatou hviezdou na čele Neboj sa, Byl jednou jeden král,….

and also Russian Mrázik http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058374/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

Our traditional Christmas recipes made Vegan

I’m really horrible with following recipes! And I almost never measure anything. But I will try my best to give you my version of the recipes so you can try them yourself.

Traditional Slovak Sauerkraut Soup

(without the spicy sausage or with some vegan alternative)
Ingredients:
500g Sauerkraut (homemade is best)
1 bottle of sauerkraut juice (if you don’t make your own it makes the soup more sour)
1/2-1tsp caraway seeds /cumin
1/2 tsp whole pepper corns
2 Bay leaves
1 Onion (dice it or leave it whole and you can remove it after the soup is done)
Dried mushrooms (soak for min 30 min and drain)
– water
Vegan spicy sausage (optional)
Sweet paprika or red pepper flakes (optional – adds nice color)
Directions:
Put all the ingredients into large pot except the optional ones and add water to fill up your pot. And cook on medium for 30 min (if it starts boiling lower the heat). Now add the vegan sausage, pepper flakes and cook further for 10-15 min and you are done. You can serve it with some eggless pasta (small shapes like stars or dice) or without pasta is also fine.

Vegan Mayo

We don’t use mayo at home, we buy tatarska omáčka. And I will try to give you the closest tasting thing to it. Vegan mayo basic recipe is adapted from: The Blender Girl the optional ingredients are my own and I also cutted oil from the recipe :http://healthyblenderrecipes.com/recipes/basic_raw_vegan_mayonnaise
Ingredients:
1/2 -1cup filtered water if you don’t have high speed blender you will need more water
1 cup organic raw cashews soaked for 2 hours (makes cashews more digestible and liquefy better)
1/4 cup raw cauliflower
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar or 1 chopped pitted date
3 Tbsp lemon juice or more to taste
a tiny 1/2 pinch of Celtic sea salt, Himalayan salt, or more to taste
Optional : dried onion, celery, carrot and parsley seasoning
Some extra fresh parsley
Directions:   
Put the water, soaked cashews, and cauliflower in your blender and add the water until combined well.
With the machine running on a low speed, slowly add the oil in one steady stream, and process until thick and creamy.
Place the mustard and vinegar, then rest of the ingredients into the blender to taste, and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice gradually to taste. Add in some more salt, mustard or lemon juice to taste until you create your perfect blend. Now add both optional ingredients or at least the fresh parsley in my opinion it makes it taste better and it’s also smells better. For the salad is better if the consistency of the mayo is more runny because the potatoes will absorb the liquid and you don’t want dry salad.

Potato Salad

Ingredients:
500g cooked and diced potatoes
250g Mixed frozen veggies ( carrot, peas & sweetcorn)
4-5 medium gherkins sliced
1-2 cups vegan mayo
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste
Directions:
Mixed all the main ingredients together and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to your liking. Serve with Fishless cakes (recipe below).
potato salad and fishless cakes

Fishless cakes

This recipe I found on the internet and I made some changes in it. It was big hit at home also my vegetarian sister and meat-eating part of the family liked it.
Makes 6-8 patties (depending on the size you want them)
Ingredients:
450g potatoes, peeled and diced
150g cannellini beans or any white beans
¼ cup gluten free flour
3 spring onions, finely chopped
¼ cup / 4 tablespoons fresh parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (I used EVOO)
2 tablespoons soya milk (I used water)
2 teaspoons kelp powder (I used seaweed)
¾ teaspoon ground sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup sesame seeds or breadcrumbs
Directions:   
Cook the potatoes until soft, by bringing to the boil in a pan of salted water, and then gently boiling for around 10 minutes. When cooked, leave to drain and cool slightly.
In a food processor, blend the beans, spring onions, parsley, kelp powder, oil, sea salt, white pepper and lemon juice. You want the beans to be well blended. Add the potatoes and milk, and blend further until well combined, then pulse in the wheat gluten flour. This will make the mixture drier and more malleable – like a very soft play dough.
Put sesame seeds (or you may use breadcrumbs,) into a small dish. Form the fishcake mixture into patties, and press each side of patty into the seeds, gently pressing around the sides too.
You can fry them on pan or also in the oven I baked them in the oven on 170°C 30 min (15 min on each side)without any oil
Serve them with vegan mayonnaise, a sprig of parsley and a wedge of lemon.

Vegan Christmas Liquor

Ingredients:
2 cups vanilla soymilk (you can use any dairy free milk preferably vanilla flavor or add vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon cloves  (I didn’t have any this time)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I didn’t have any this time)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used 1 tsp)
½ cup of dark rum
2 teaspoons coconut sugar (maple syrup, stevia or agave)
Directions:
Blend all ingredients. Serve your delicious vegan eggnog over ice and dress with a sprinkle of nutmeg and a cinnamon stick for the perfect festive touch.

Date Balls

Recipe from : http://detoxinista.com/2013/09/date-energy-balls-vegan-paleo/
Serves: 24 or depends on size
Ingredients:
2 cups walnuts, or other nut/seed of choice
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups soft Medjool dates, pitted (I used some dried dates from normal shop and I did soaked them over night)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions:
In a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the walnuts and coconut until crumbly. Add in the dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process again until a sticky, uniform batter is formed.
Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons, then roll between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving. Store the balls in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.
For a gourmet-looking truffle, you could also roll them in shredded coconut or cocoa powder before chilling!

Merry Christmas! Fill up your life with love, compassion, tolerance, peace and happiness. Happy Holidays.

Peace and Love, G.

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December 2013

xmas

I wish Happy Holidays to all my followers or just anyone who stops by. I know that this time of year can be pretty stressful just remember it’s not about what you spend on presents it’s about who you spend the holidays with.

I’m very happy that this year I will be spending my Christmas at home (after 2 years when we were not able to). I will be doing some vegan alternatives to our traditional Christmas recipes (hopefully my family will like it too – they still don’t like that we are vegans) and I will also share them on my blog- so check back for those.

December Workout Log

12.G

Ok, here I go again. I changed my workout plan again. After finishing Insanity workout I was planning to start with Zuzka Light ZCUT Power Strength Series and maybe to combine it with Cardio Series but I choose my jump rope instead and another change came when we went abroad for holiday…we had some bad luck with our car and we spent double time on traveling. So no workout on 11th, than vet on 12th … Weekend – still stressed out from the journey so only long walks and from Monday I connected my xbox 360 – Kinect and I had some fun with Your Shape- Fitness Evolved 2012 (jump rope, cardio boxing, zen).

I like this workout game, it’s fun and challenging, doesn’t feel like workout until you get muscle pain on the next day  and it keeps my scores so I don’t need to write them down. And I can play it also with my family or friends (1-4 players). I usually do the same thing: jump rope, cardio boxing and zen just switching between the levels.

I think that for this week I will stick with my xbox and who knows what I will do next week maybe ZCUT but I have here only 1kg weights. And for the Christmas Eve I will do Insanity – Core Cardio and Balance and same I will do on New Years Eve.

Peace and love, G

Insanity – Final Fit Test

I can’t believe that it is over ....final fit test ;( … but I’m very proud that I did it. 🙂

I finished my 2 months of Insanity yesterday with the final fit test. Every time I do the test I feel like I’m doing it for the first time, because every time I push myself harder. I’m very pleased with my results. For me doing the Insanity wasn’t really about losing weight, it was more about my mental strength to finally finish it. And I did it …yes it was 100% and it wasn’t always perfect but I kept going.

My ultimate favorite workout is Core Cardio and Balance. I’m still hating the shoulder burner exercises (can’t get through without short breaks!), but I’m loving the hip flexor burners!

My biggest struggle was with the workouts in the month 2. I personally think that they are pretty advance so if anyone else struggle with them I suggest that you go back to month one. And next time when I will be doing the Insanity I will do the month 2 workouts for sure! Insanity I will be definitely back with you in 2014 😉

So here are my fit test results from day 1 to 63:

fit test

I’m happy with my improvement in numbers 😉

And here are my results in cm:
Arm         -0.5 cm
Waist       -3 cm
Abs         -2.5 cm
Butt        -2.5 cm
Tights      –1.5 cm
Calf        -0.8 cm

So you can get definitely good results also without following the diet program with it. I’m pretty tiny so for me it’s harder to lose big amount of weight. And for me it’s mostly about maintaining and toning anyway. So whatever your goal is .. if you commit you will succeed .

Peace and love, G.

Must Have Kitchen Gadgets and Tools For Your Healthy (Vegan) Kitchen

These are my must have tools in the healthy kitchen. You probably don’t need all six but these simple gadgets give you good variety. But if you are raw foodist they are definitely must have. I’m definitely not paid to promote any of this, I’m only sharing what I have in my kitchen or I’m planning to buy.
Take care of yours tools, washed them straight after use this way you will keep them in the best shape and stain free for longer, warm soap water is more than enough to keep them clean. If you can’t wash something straight away try to rinse it with water at least.

1. Blenderblender
Vital for making good healthful foods, blenders turn out smoother, more refined sauces, smoothies, raw nut cheeses and raw nut milks. Powerful high speed blenders are the best choice for making raw foods and they even make raw whole juices, ice creams and so on …. the best are  Vitamix, BlendTec. Those are made for everyday use and can handle mixing frozen fruits and so on, but of course they are pretty pricy. I will definitely invest in one of those in the future.
I own:
For now I’m pretty happy with my Andrew James Multifunctional 4 in 1 Smoothie Maker, Blender, Gringer, Juicer. With this baby I can do smoothies, nut milks and juices. And you don’t need any extras because the strainer is included. I have it for half year and it works very well.

2. Knives
The only knives I own are the ceramic ones, they give you very nice cuts and I was reading somewhere that they are best for cutting fruits. That the fruits don’t oxidize and turn brown as fast when cut by ceramic knife, particularly apples. And because I don’t need to cut anything hard they are best for me.ceramic knives
Ceramic knife is a high-end product, and it has the advantages that the traditional metal knives don’t have. The ceramic knife is able to clearly cut most things such as meat (not bones), fruits and veggies without leaving any residues. For cutting is also best to use wooden or plastic chopping board. Please don’t use it on marble, glass or porcelain surfaces. You can damage your knife. Also is best to buy ceramic knives with sheaths where you can safely store them.

3. Vegetable slicer or/and  food processor
Vegetable slicer
These handy devices slice and shred vegetables so quickly, decoratively, and with so much ease. Helpful tools for making salads, raw noodles, salsas and desserts.
Food Processor
They are useful in making shredded salads, raw food pates, puddings and all manner of raw food desserts that you will want your own gorgeous shiny machine. Even some of the really cheap food processors can do a decent job. They also come in mini sizes which are fabulous for smaller projects or making food for one or two people.
I own:spiralizer
Spiralizer: handy tool that makes zucchini spaghetti, cucumber ribbon strands, curly fries or long, spiral apple strands.
The only negative about this tool is: It consists of a round hollow cutting edge with an approximate 3/8 opening. This simply means whatever you are slicing will lose a quite big cylinder from its center. So not suitable for small vegetables. I use it almost daily for slicing cucumber or zucchini.
dicerNicer Dicer: All in One: works as graters, cutters, peelers, slicers, choppers, dicers, and zesters
Negatives for this one: more useful with softer produce, not best for cutting carrots. But I still like how it cuts tomatoes in nice dices and also mushrooms. It comes also with peeler but I prefer my ceramic one.

4. Dehydrator
Nothing says commitment to raw food like purchasing a dehydrator. These machines are invaluable to a raw foodist for dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, seed crackers, granolas. Once you get rolling, you’ll find many  uses for it. Make sure yours comes with some Teflex sheets or other non-stick pads to lay over the mesh trays. These make dehydrating a breeze and they clean up quickly.
I don’t own one… yet 😉

5. Fine Mesh Strainers or Cheesecloth
Many raw food recipes call for straining milks, cheeses or sauces through a cheesecloth, I find that fine mesh strainers do a very nice job in much less time and with less mess.But also depends what are you using it for.  Have fun experimenting with both techniques.

6. Glass Jars + sprouting jars
Great for storage of dry goods and prepared foods, glass jars come in most handy for fermenting foods. Raw nut cheeses, sauerkraut and other pro-biotic raw foods are fermented and stored using glass or ceramic jars.
The advantage of glass bottles over the plastic ones is the quality of the material. Despite the long-use tradition, glass has the purity ofbottle1 structure that makes any interaction with the stored liquid impossible. Plastic on the other hand is known to alter the properties of certain beverages because of the chemical reactions that appear in time between the artificial structure and the possible acids in the beverage.
Let’s not forget about why is important recycling of glass bottles. Glass bottles do not affect the structure of the environment by their chemical composition, because  they remain in the same form for millions of years, there will actually be no change in their structure and that’s is the main problem.
Choose glass bottles with wide tops for easier cleaning!
This ones are super cute and I use them for smoothies and homemade milk.bottle2

Peace and love, G.

Not just Vegan books

booksI enjoy reading books about healthy lifestyle. That’s also one of the reasons I went vegan. I want to be happy and healthy.I don’t like diet books which are promising quick fixes and don’t really care about long term health. I like books which are giving you advice on how to live healthy and eat to fuel your body so you can enjoy your life.

So here are some of my favorite books on this subject:

Vegan book I read or I’m still reading:

1. Thrive Fitness: The Vegan-Based Training Program for Maximum Strength, Health, and Fitness by Brendan Brazier

About the author:
Brendan Brazier is the creator and host of the Thrive Forward web series, based on his bestselling Thrive book trilogy (Thrive, Thrive Fitness, and Thrive Foods). Brendan is a former professional Ironman triathlete, and the creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called Vega. He is also a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion.
About the book:
The first few chapters of this book are pretty solid–mostly a testimony of Brazier’s vegan-based philosophy for performance athletes and weekend warriors. He presents a compelling argument for pursuing one’s goals, eating right, and taking care of the body. There is a good discussion of how stress and lifestyle impact health, and how that in turn affects the body’s performance capacity. Following these sections, he introduces a section on performance improvement. This chapter contains a solid regimen of exercises. The next section is about incorporating vegan-athlete friendly foods into your diet.
My favorite part of Thrive Fitness, though, is what makes it unique in compare to other fitness books—the focus on energy, sleep, stress, and non-physical benefits of exercise, such as creativity, active meditation, and the effects of endorphins. I found that reading about these added something extra, rather than the standard fat-loss, muscle-gain fare of other exercise books, motivated me more than anything has in a while to hit the gym or to get out for a run.
I was checking also reviews and many are suggesting that Brendan’s other books are better especially “Thrive Diet,”. At the moment I’m not able to compare them but I will definitely in the future  buy also Thrive and Thrive Foods.

2. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD

This book is the ultimate book for learning about the benefits of a plant-based diet. It helps understand the science behind a plant- based diet and proves that veganism is the way to go. The books explains in plain terms how a plant-based diet is the strongest tool we have against disease and illness. It is easy to read and will completely change how you think about food. You’ll be hooked by page two of the Introduction where Campbell tells you that by simply changing your diet, you can completely reverse heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. He also reexamines the “protein myth” and shows how not only vegans are getting enough protein, but that consuming a lot of protein actually promotes cancer. This book teaches you how to eat in order to maximize your health and longevity, and tells why you haven’t been taught proper nutrition before. The China Study could save your life and it’s definitely must read.

3. The 80/10/10 Diet Balancing Your Health, Your Weight, and Your Life One Luscious Bite at a Time. by Dr. Doug Graham
About the author:
Dr. Douglas Graham, a lifetime athlete and twenty-seven year raw fooder, is an advisor to world-class athletes and trainers from around the globe. He was in private practice as a chiropractor for twenty years, before retiring to focus more fully on his writing and speaking. Dr. Graham is the author of many books on raw food and health including The High Energy Diet Recipe Guide, Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Grain Damage, Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries and The 80/10/10 Diet. As owner of a fasting retreat in the Florida Keys for ten years, Dr. Graham personally supervised thousands of fasts.
About the book:
The book is a raw food version of a low fat plant based diet. Graham proposes that the ideal ratio of nutrients to support optimum health is: 80% of total calories from carbs, 10% protein and 10% fats. Graham  uses mostly common sense arguments and scientific analyses. You will also find in this book sample menus, nutrient breakdowns, portion equivalents, testimonials, faqs, …
This is very interesting book. I like the scientific facts and explanations. It’s definitely good for people which are living in countries with easy access to cheaper organic fruits. I live in Austria in the moment and good quality organic fruit costs many times double or triple times more that non-organic kind. Back in UK it was little bit more affordable.

4. Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko
About the author:
Victoria Boutenko is an author, teacher, inventor, researcher, artist and mother of three. In 1994, The Boutenko family, also known as The Raw Family, became seriously ill. Victoria sought out alternative health paths and discovered the raw food lifestyle which enabled the family to gain vibrant health.
About the book:
Ok this is not just vegan book. Perfect for anyone – raw foodists, vegans, vegetarians, also for meat eaters – who wishes to develop a healthy diet without making sacrifices to taste or lifestyle. Boutenko promotes healthy living, not gimmicky diets or fad lifestyles. In this book, Victoria Boutenko explains why eating raw greens is so important.
Green for Life includes the latest information on the abundance of protein in greens, the benefits of fiber, the role of greens in homeostasis, the significance of stomach acid, how greens make the body more alkaline, the healing power of chlorophyll, and more. Also included are the results of a pilot study demonstrating the effectiveness of adding just one quart of green smoothies a day to one’s diet, without changing anything else in dietary intake. Green smoothie testimonials and recipes give readers confidence and motivation in exploring green smoothies for themselves. This updated edition offers important new research on the role that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play in metabolic health and includes nutritional data on select green smoothies and updated findings on organic versus conventional produce.

Skinny Bitch by Friedman and Barnouin
About the authors:
Freedman, a former agent for Ford Models and a “self-taught know-it-all” and the woman on the right is Barnouin, a “former model who holds a Masters of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition” from Clayton College — an online school)
About the book:
I started to read this one but I didn’t like the writing style. I don’t see the need to call somebody bitch, fat or skinny and also the F word and so on …. And also saying that healthy = skinny and unhealthy = fat that’s just rubbish! Look at people with eating disorder- the skinny part is far for being healthy! I agree with this part where they are saying that smoking and soda are bad for you ( “ Soda is liquid Satan” – so true). But I can’t say much more because I’m really discoursing by use of vulgarisms in this book so I didn’t even past the first chapter.
 

Books by food blogers:

I read:

Easy to be raw, Easy to be raw Desserts, You in bloom by Megan Elizabeth
Easy to be raw, Easy To Be Raw Desserts easy, fast and delicious raw vegan recipes
You in bloom– Megan shares her personal story, her eating lifestyle and fitness habits. Tips how you can easily take charge of your health and fitness and how to make your very own raw makeup, and what foods and natural products can keep your skin healthy. You’ll also see examples of a simple season meal guide and options to create your own workout routine based on your needs. Plus! You even get super yummy bonus recipes to help you incorporate more raw food into your diet.
Her blog: http://meganelizabeth.com/ns/
Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/EasyToBeRaw
 

Go Fruit Yourself! By Freelee
This one is short ebook containing a months’ worth of Freelees blog entries from November 2006 when she started her raw food journey with her commenting what she did wrong and how you can avoid the mistakes she made. Plus helpful tips how to stay low fat raw vegan and of course some tasty recipes.
Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Freelea

I would read:

Seasonal Sweets by 40belowfruity

Her blog: http://www.40belowfruity.com/
Youtube channel:http://www.youtube.com/user/40BelowFruity

The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon
Her blog: http://ohsheglows.com/

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
Her blog: http://thekindlife.com/

Peace and love, G.

Insanity Month 2 Week 3 & Week 4

M2W3&4Last Two Weeks of Insanity

I’m feeling better this week and  I’m slowly getting back on track so I’m returning back to month 1 workouts. And I will finish my 2 months of Insanity with some modifications. So if you think that month 2 workouts are too intense or too advance go back to month 1 workouts it’s still better that quitting all together.

This month will fly by so fast …. We won’t even catch our breath and we will be in NEW year.

I already scheduled my workouts for entire December. After Insanity I will take it little bit easier on myself. We are going home for Christmas and I’m planning to do some catching up with my family and friends, but I will do also my workouts. Last year I did workouts also during X-mas, and New Year’s Eve and it felt so good so I think I will do the same this year too.

Ok, so after Insanity I will return to Zuzka Light workouts and I will combine ZCUT Power Strength with her Cardio Series which I already tried before. I will do workouts Monday – Friday and if I do something during the weekend than that will be my bonus. And regarding the Insanity workouts I will definitely try them again in new year.
So for the last two weeks I created my own workout calendar and this is how my schedule for last two weeks is looking:

24.11      Fit Test & Max Interval Circuit
25.11      Max Interval Plyo           
                     Fit Test – My scores:Day50
Not much improvement there but at least I haven’t had worst scores than the previous times. Even one extra rep is always better than no extra or even one less. I have to push myself extra hard those last days to get better scores on my final one 😉
26.11      Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs       
               Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs
27.11      Max recovery                    
               Cardio recovery
28.11      Max Interval Circuit         
                Cardio Power & Resistance
29.11      Core Cardio & Balance      
                Plyometric Cardio Circuit
30.11      Rest

1.12        Core Cardio & Balance
2.12        Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs
3.12        Cardio Power & Resistance
4.12        Plyometric Cardio Circuit
5.12        Core Cardio & Balance
6.12        Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs
7.12        Plyometric Cardio Circuit
 

8.12        FINAL FIT TEST

 
Peace and love, G.