Christmas is gone and the end of the year is almost here. I put a list with 1 healthy desserts to impress your guests. They are easy to made and very healthy. So next to your fancy dress and your beautiful decorations, your guests will be mesmerized by your desserts.
Some recipes are raw, for some recipe you will need use the oven. But they all take little time and little effort. Enjoy!
Cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cardamom are just a few spices that instantly conjure up Christmas. I am using them in mulled wine, cakes, cookies, hot chocolate and coffee. I know turmeric and cardamom are not really spices for Christmas, but I think they deserve to be on my spices list for Christmas.
Cinnamon is obtained from genus Cinnamomum in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Burma.
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale and is indigenous to southern China.
Turmeric the rhizome of the ginger family Zingiberaraceae in Southern Asia.
Cardamom is a spice made from the seeds of several plants in the genera Elettaria and Amomum in India.
At Christmas, these spices helps me make the holidays real. Added to the food, drinks or just in the air they just add a different feel and taste.
All this spices are exotic and come from warmer climates. They were once sold at the price of gold.
They are also a great gift. Mix them all together and put them in a nice small jar, decorated with some Christmas band or a cinnamon stick and give them to your family. They will use them in the coffee or hot chocolate or cookies. Enjoy!
There is no Christmas dinner without the traditional meat stuffed cabbage rolls. The traditional recipe is with sour cabbage, but my mom made us a light version of this recipe with wine vines. Sour cabbage is quite heavy to digest despite being very healthy.
Doing this recipe for so many years, my mom (like most moms and grandmothers) doesn’t use measures any more. Everything is a little bit of this, a hand full of that, some of this, etc. For a newbie in the kitchen, like me, this kind of recipe is doomed to go bad from the beginning, so I managed to make so measures for myself.
- Wine vines
- 500g minced pork
- 500g minced beef
- 4 tablespoons rice
- 3 tablespoons lard (butter)
- 2 chopped onions
- Salt and pepper
- 300ml tomato sauce or 1 kg tomatoes
- 1 liter vegetable broth
To have wine vines in the winter, you put them with salt in a big jar in the fall. Before making your rolls, you take them out and leave them in cold water to get out the salt.
In a large pot, cook the onions in 2 tablespoons of lard until are slightly brown. Add meat, rice, salt and pepper. Let it cook for 10 minutes.
To make a roll, place a wine vine flat and on it place a teaspoon of meat mixture. Turn the right and left edges over toward the center and then starting with the end begin to roll. Tuck in the loose side edges.
In a clay pot with lard, place the rolls in layers and add thyme and some tomato sauce on each layer. Last layer will be of tomato sauce. Add vegetable broth on top to cover the rolls. Put the pot covered in the oven for 2 hours and then uncovered it and leave it for another 1 hour.
Serve them with sour cream and polenta. Don’t forget a great red wine to go with them.
Because the wine vines are small, you will get very small rolls and it will take a lot of time. So be patience. In the end you will get some jewels to impress your guests.
Just a few years ago I discovered turmeric, a new spice which I love. With all the healthy benefits, turmeric became an important spice to use in my kitchen. This year I discovered turmeric milk and now I am drinking it before I go to sleep.
I use my own recipe because is a way to add to this milk other healthy ingredients. If I don’t have almond milk or rice milk in my fridge I use cow’s milk.
Turmeric milk, an Ayurvedic drink, helps you boost your energy and health. Most of us drink turmeric milk at night to help with our sleep and heal common colds or sore throat. It also helps with indigestion, menstrual cramps, headaches, arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Turmeric milk also fights different types of cancer: breast, colon, liver and prostate, and helps with depression, purifies blood, relieves pain and helps with neurological disorders.
You can enhanced the taste and the healthy benefits by adding cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, coconut oil, honey, etc.
- 1 cup almond, rice or cow’s milk
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
Pour a glass of milk into a pot and turn the heat on. Add turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon and coconut oil. Let the mix boil for a few minutes. You can strain it if you like. Add honey and enjoy your turmeric milk.
With all the heavy foods on Christmas is nice to have an easy dessert. When I make my Raw vegan chocolate I always end up with chocolate left in the bowl. Instead of eating it from the bowl, this time I decide it to put it on some mandarins. I like this fruit – chocolate combination and is also very healthy.
You can use mandarin, clementine or orange for this recipe. If you want to be bold try it with lemon or lime. A banana is a must especially if you use peanut butter and chocolate. This is also an excellent snack and very healthy to eat between meals or after effort.
Your kids will fall in love with this snack. They will get plenty of Vitamin C and antioxidants for the day. You can substitute your granola bar or crackers or any other snack you usually eat with this mandarin dipped in raw vegan chocolate.
- 5 – 6 mandarins
- Raw vegan chocolate
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Peel the mandarins. Make the chocolate. Here is the recipe: Raw vegan chocolate. Dip each slice halfway into the chocolate and place on the baking sheet. Repeat for all the slices. Let it in the fridge for 10 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.
You can keep them in the fridge in an airtight container for 2 days.
Every country has traditional recipes for Christmas, Easter or other events. In the villages of Bucovina life is still the same, people still follow the same old traditions and preserve their way of life. From the beautiful practices and winter habits, to the amazing Christmas traditional food, Bucovina is a fascinate place to spend your winter holidays.
A week or two before Christmas we have the pig’s sacrifice (pig’s Ignatius). They do lots of specific products to be served on Christmas or New Year: “chisca” with rice, blood or liver, sausages, fresh or smoked bacon, greaves or “toba or piftie” (pork jelly). They are made according to traditional recipes.
On December 24th, my family has a fasting dinner with 12 types of fasting food. You will find 3 recipes of beans: beans salad, mashed beans (roe of beans) and beans with tomato sauce. We would also have on the table: eggplant salad, stewed prunes, “coliva” (a dessert made from husked wheat grains), apples compote, potato salad, “sarmale” with mushrooms, mushrooms salad, a vegetable soup and vegetable salad.
All the family will get together and enjoy a great dinner in the family. We will wait for caroling and talk about our year. At the end of the evening the parents and grandparents will tell stories about their childhood, funny stories about Christmas and family.
Christmas is a very important holiday in Bucovina with lots of religious practices, rituals and ceremonies, with prohibitions and superstitions. Our traditional recipes for Christmas start with “sarmale” (stuffed cabbage rolls), “bors de perisoare” (sour meatball soup), “tochitura Moldoveneasca” (pork stew with roasted pork sausages, roasted pork chop, sheep cheese and polenta), boletus mushrooms with sour cream, pickled mushrooms and red peppers and end with “poale’n brau” pies, “cozonac”(sweet bread with poppy seeds or walnuts).
Everything is washed down with “palinca” (double distilled plum brandy). For the ladies we have a wide variety: cherry wine, wild berries brandy and homemade wine.
I got hungry from writing this post. I am going to the kitchen. Enjoy!
Sometimes you have an amazing recipe but you can’t take a photo because doesn’t look great. There is a way to fix some accidents or make your food look better in Photoshop.
This dessert is a chocolate panna cotta with carob powder. I wanted to have it on a plate decorated with raspberries. When I tried to take it out from the glass and put it on the plate, it cracked. I knew I was going to retouch it in Photoshop. So I took photos of the dessert and then I fixed them in the computer.
I used cloning in Photoshop to get rid of the cracks and reflections of the windows on the plate.
Clone stamp is a great tool and easy to use. The Clone Stamp Tool paints with a sampled pixels of an image. You need practice to get it done nice.
Create a new layer before making changes with Clone Stamp tool. Working in a new layer means that you are not changing the underlying pixels of your image and in addition, you can delete it if you don’t like it.
To create a new layer just press Shift+Ctrl+N (Shift+Cmd+N on Mac). To make a duplicate of the background layer press Ctrl+J (Cmd+J on Mac).
You can work with both types of layers. I worked with a duplicate one and is named “Cloning”. You can see it circled with black on the right side of the next photo.
When you use Clone Stamp always zoom in. It will help you work on a much greater level of detail. If your changes look good when you zoom in, then when you zoom out, you will not distinguish them.
Choose from the Toolbox the Clone Stamp Tool. In the Options bar, set the tool’s tip size and hardness.
As you can see, I was in the middle of cloning. During the process you will change the size of the brush depending on the area you are working.
Hardness determines the level to which the cloning will blend in with the surrounding pixels. In general, keep the hardness level at 0% and the edge will blend in the surroundings.
The Clone Stamp tool is all about repetition – you just need to do it in such a way that the viewer doesn’t notice it.
To use the tool, you set a sampling area you want to copy the pixels from and paint over another area. Changing the size of the brush gives you precise control over the size of the clone area.
This is the final photo. As you can see, all the reflections and cracks are gone.
Keep in mind that 90% of my photos are done from the camera. Just apply a little bit of contrast and lighting if needed. I use cloning only in special cases. With this panna cotta I have other photos in the glass, so for my recipe I will not use this one. I managed to get out of the glasses only one, so I got lucky. But, if you made a big one and it cracked this retouching is the best solution.
You can also use cloning stamp to remove stains, reflections, small defects,etc. Keep taking photos and cooking.
Apples, cinnamon, honey and walnuts. This is the smell of Christmas in the kitchen. Pure heaven. This is my favorite Christmas dessert or lunch or breakfast or dinner. The beautiful part is that you can make this recipe with your kids. It’s easy, simple and absolutely delicious. Your little ones will love to mix everything together and taste it along the way. I know I did that all the time.
I always use different types of apples: sour, sweet and very sweet. You will cover everybody’s taste in the family. For the vegan ones you can replace the honey with maple syrup.
Use apples which are very ripe if you want the baked apples very sweet. My dad used to do this recipe with small apples or the one that are over ripe. You can use whole apples or pieces of apples. Just put the mix on the pieces instead of inside.
- 4 -6 apples
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons honey (maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Turn the oven on to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. With a small spoon, scoop out inner core and seeds from inside of each apple up to bottom (do not go all the way through apple). Arrange apples, cavity side up, in a glass or ceramic baking tray. I used my banana loaf baking tray.
In a bowl mix the cinnamon, coconut oil, honey, walnuts and lemon juice.
Fill each cavity with the walnut mixture. Sprinkle remaining walnut mixture on top of the apples.
Bake the apples 30 to 40 minutes or until you like how tender they are. Rotate the baking tray halfway through the baking.
Serve it warm, simple as it is or be inspired and add vanilla ice cream or my favorite: sour cherry jam. Sour and sweet are matches in heaven.