Meatless ‘Grünkern’ sauce bolognese

Grünkern bolognese sauce

What the heck is ‘Grünkern’? It’s basically spelt that has been harvested while still unripe – therefore its green (‘grün’ in German) colour. It’s quite popular among vegans and vegetarians in Germany since its texture makes it perfect for replacing ground meat in burgers, chilli or pasta sauces – just like this bolognese inspired vegan pasta sauce. It’s also a good alternative if you are allergic to soy protein and therefore can’t use the most commonly sold soy based meatless alternatives to ground beef. It also brings a nice hearty flavour to every dish, so you will need less spices – especially salt – than usually. Call me weird, but its taste and smell kind of remind me of smoked bacon – though it has been years since I last ate smoked bacon, so my taste-memory might not be the best. If you search for Grünkern on your next shopping trip, try whole food stores – that’s where you would also find it in Germany. It may also be sold as ‘unripe spelt grain’, though it is usually sold under it’s German name. If you find it – give it a try! Continue reading

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Creamy avocado pasta with green peas

Creamy Avocado Pasta with green peas

The past couple of weeks were marked by almost  ridiculously warm weather with up to 23° C on some days. Starting the balcony season in the middle of march has definietelly been a first for me. I decided to celebrate these very early first days of summer with a matching dish, and created a creamy, yet light pasta sauce based on avocado and natural soy johgurt. Thai basil works really great in this sauce, even though I could only get my hands on dried  instead of fresh leaves. If you can’t find it in you local store,  cilantro will work as well. To add a few more vitamins, I cooked some frozen peas along with the pasta, so I ended up with a delicious bowl of fresh, green pasta. Just make sure to use a really ripe avocado for the sauce – otherwise your dish will come out lumpy instead of creamy. Continue reading

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Cherry chocolate muffins with a sweet surprise

cherry chocolate marzipan muffinsI didn’t really plan to be posting another “sweet” recipe so soon, but then my fellow PhD-students and me had a day-long meeting where we presented our projects to each other and our professor (because why suffer alone when you can also suffer in a group), and I figured that we might need a little sugar rush in between to get us trough the day. While going through my pantry to search for inspiration, I found a jar of cherries and a packet of marzipan – and what is a better combination than chocolate, cherries and marzipan? I also used almond milk to enhance the marzipan flavour, but you can use whatever (plant) milk you have in your pantry. These muffins turned out perfectly moist and fluffy, with a strong though not overpowering dark chocolate flavour that works perfectly with the sweet cherry and marzipan flavours. Truly delicious – and a perfect sweet and energizing snack!

I decided to use the marzipan as a filling instead of mixing it with the batter, though you could also chop the marzipan into much smaller pieces and just stir it in with the cherries – whatever you prefer! Since I was a little worried (as it turned out, completely unnecessary) that the marzipan filling might sink to the bottom of the muffins while in the oven, I didn’t shape the marzipan into balls but into coins, which is why you see a flat line of marzipan if you cut the muffin in half. For the more adventurous of you (or the more crafty ones), you could also make little hearts or other shapes from the marzipan. Continue reading

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Millet salad with pointed peppers and cherry tomatoes

Millet salad with peppers and tomatoes

Have you ever tried millet? It’s a not very popular – though delicious – grain, that is believed to be one of the oldest cultivated crops in history. There are many different kinds of millet, the most common one being pearl millet, which is also the one I used for this dish. You can use millet just like rice or quinoa, though if you use it for the first time, always check the packaging instructions! Millet is also gluten-free, so you can use it as a tasty substitute for wheat products such as couscous or bulgur. In whole food stores, you might even find pasta or bread made from or with millets!

After using millets in several sweet dishes (like a lovely millet porridge), I wanted to give it a try in a savoury dish as well, but I didn’t want to overpower its delicious flavour with heavy sauces or spices, so I went for a zingy, fresh and just slightly hot salad with crisp pointed peppers (ball peppers will work as well) and cherry tomatoes. If you can’t find millet in your local stores, try bulgur instead – this will work just as well. Of course it won’t be gluten-free anymore! Continue reading

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Chocolate cake with ginger jam

chocolate cake with ginger jam

This cake was partly born from my monthly chocolate craving (hello hormonal cycle), and partly from a slight desperation regarding a jar of very ‘potent’ ginger jam. While I do love ginger in all sorts of sweet and savoury dishes, the aforementioned ginger jam has such an intense flavour, that even spreading it millimetre-thin on a slice of bread of toast isn’t enough to ‘neutralize’ it. Since very spicy ingredients are best balanced out with sweet ones, I decided to try to use the jam in a cake – and what’s a better combination than chocolate and ginger? So I used the recipe below to spice up an otherwise simple chocolate cake and ended up with a delicious chocolate ginger cake with just the right amount of spicy ginger and sweet dark chocolate flavours. I recommend adjusting the amount of ginger jam to your liking – or just go for a different kind of jam like raspberry or cherry. Continue reading

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Apple fennel salad with curry and mint dressing

Apple fennel cucumber salad

I really love the flavour of raw fennel – it’s crunchy, savoury, and with just the slightest hint of sweetness, all of which making it perfect for any salad. I created a little symphony in green for this one, combining the raw fennel with a crisp Granny Smith and fresh cucumber. The mint and curry dressing though is what makes this salad so special, giving it a fresh, albeit warm and comfy flavour. Sounds odd? Just give it a try! Continue reading

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Buckwheat pasta with courgette and white beans

Buckwheat pasta with white beans and courgette

Last Sunday, I decided to start this year’s outdoor running season (I use a treadmill during the winter), and of course, I ended up overdoing it. Apparently,  even the combination of regular treadmill running and strength training focussing on your thighs and buttocks isn’t enough to prepare you for running up several hills in the course of one 35 minute run. Especially if it’s pretty damn windy. Since I still felt pretty spent a couple of hours later, I decided for a lunch rich in protein and carbs to help me refuel my energy so I wouldn’t just spend the rest of the day channel surfing on my sofa.

I always have a couple cans of beans or lentils in my pantry – while it is usually cheaper to cook them yourself, it often takes hours (literally) to cook them, so if you want a quick lunch or dinner, go for the canned ones. I also had an previously unopened package of buckwheat pasta that I still needed to give a try, so I decided on a quick buckwheat pasta dish with white beans and courgette, seasoned with lime juice and a little sage. This recipe takes you just about 10 to 12 minutes to prepare, and the result is a really delicious and energizing dish with a great combination of flavours – you will be surprised how well white beans, sage and lime juice work together! And the best part: After lunch I finally stopped felling worn out! This might become a regular post-workout dish for me. Continue reading

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