Warm bread with cheese, tomato with cheese, pasta with cheese, melon with cheese, home-made “banitza” (traditional Bulgarian filo pastry dish) with cheese, salad with cheese. We, Bulgarians, are so used to cheese ever since we were children that it is difficult to imagine food without it.
Often when I tell a client that her condition requires to limit or temporarily exclude dairy products from her diet, the first reaction is total rejection, “I can’t do without cheese”.
I also used to think that I can’t do without cheese. Without yellow cheese. Without milk. But the more I was reading about the harm caused by dairy products, the more I was motivated to try. And it turned out easier than I thought! Once I stopped eating dairy, I didn’t miss it!
There was a period when I gave up dairy products completely. In this way I gave my body a chance to rest and recover. Nowadays I occasionally have a serving of goat cheese or hard yellow cheese, but I do it in the name of taste and diversity; I do not feel addicted and dependent on the consumption of dairy products.
Besides getting rid of an addiction (because every time you say “I can’t do without something”, it means that you are addicted to something!), the temporary restriction or stopping the consumption of dairy products is similar to the saying: one door closes, another one opens! Rather than accept this as a limitation, you can look at it as a unique opportunity to try amazing new foods and flavors! You can replace milk with almond, rice, oat or coconut milk – sounds interesting, right? You can make nut cheese yourself! Well, not quite the same, but it may be that you like it even more (at least in my case it is so!).
I’ve tried various recipes for nut cheese. Part of them I have published – herbal nut cheese and alripe almond cheese.
However, the recipe I’m offering you today is my absolute favorite! This spicy cheddar-type nut cheese is more delicious than 95% of exquisite dairy cheeses I have ever tasted!
In fact, looking back at my cheese-memories, I can say that the most memorable cheeses I have ever tasted were in the Netherlands (anyone surprised by this?). At the beginning of our relationship, my loved one spent more than a year on an internship program in Amsterdam and I used to visit him frequently ( maybe that’s why for me Amsterdam remains the most romantic city in Europe … ) . We once visited a small town on the outskirts of Amsterdam, known for its windmills and small dairies for artisan cheese. Over there I tried an amazing spicy cheese, which I still love. At that time this cheese could be bought only from Zaanse Schans and a small shop for cheeses at the Flower Market in Amsterdam.
Now without exaggeration, I can say that this nut cheese is uniquely reminiscent of the famous Dutch spicy cheese, which I remember with nostalgia!
Its preparation is not difficult at all, but requires some specific products that I want to tell you about:
- nutritional yeast
- coconut oil
- this is an inactive yeast with nutty taste that comes in the form of flakes. It is very rich in minerals and vitamins of the B group, useful for the bones, which act beneficially on the nervous system. Last time I bought nutritional yeast enriched with vitamin B12. People who do not consume animal products must necessarily get it through supplements or enhanced foods in order to prevent dangerous nutritional deficiencies!.
– this is a Japanese seasoning which is prepared by the fermentation of soybeans, rice or barley, soaked in water, salt and a special type of mold fungus – “kohi”. It has probiotic and immune stimulating action. Very good alternative to the popular dry broth with sodium glutamate! Please see also my recipe for miso soup, which I often make in winter.
– if you follow my blog, you know that I often use coconut oil. This is one of the most useful fats for the human body – suitable for raw cakes, for cooking, and also for cosmetic use! This is the only moisturizer that I have used on my baby!
Regarding nuts, I made the cheese once with cashews and once with almonds. It works well in both cases, but the result with cashews appealed to me more. Perhaps because the nuts are smoother and easier to give a creamy consistency. Moreover, almonds should better be peeled after soaking, which makes the preparation of cheese a slower and more laborious.
The original recipe for the cheese comes from this website. I offer it with slight modifications.
Spicy Nut Cheddar-Type Cheese
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 3-4 hours
- 1 handful of dry sun dried tomatoes soaked together with the cashews
- 2-3 tbs nutritional yeast
- 2 tbs miso paste
- the juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 tbs spicy cayenne pepper (if you like, add also some chili)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature
- sliced almonds, sesame, walnuts or raw pumpkin seeds for rolling in
Drain the nuts and tomatoes from the water and put them in a blender or food processor, where they are ground into crumbs. Add the other products without the coconut oil. Turn on the device and pulse until a homogeneous paste is formed. It may take 2 to 5 minutes depending on the power of the processor / blender. You will have to stop occasionally to scrape the mixture down the sides. When a smooth mixture is formed, add the coconut oil and pulse a little bit more to mix the products.
Put the ready mixture in a box and store in the fridge for a few hours. When it is firm, you can form it into a big ball, small balls or a cylindrical bar and roll them nuts or seeds.
Store the cheese in a fridge (if there is something left to be stored!) and take it out just before serving.
I often come to descriptions of desserts that claim the recipe is healthy just because it does not contain white sugar, or flour or both.
Folks, let‘s get it right! Lots of sweet, even less sweet , in combination with healthy is an oxymoron! There is no such thing! Sweet is sweet and it is not healthy. Any sweet raises our blood sugar level and causes an acute insulin response, and regular consumption results in insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes.
By this I don‘t mean to tell you not to eat sweet (as we are humans after all and we want to experience delight and satisfaction from food), but to be careful with the quantity and quality of sweet. Undoubtedly, things like raw desserts and those sweetened with honey, agave, maple syrup, dates or stevia are a far better option than desserts packed with white sugar, but a better option means less harmful rather than healthy! If you do not pay attention to the quantity and you eat “a lot” , the result for the body is the same as when eating traditional desserts – high blood sugar followed by a sharp rise in insulin.
And now that we have clarified these concepts, I am going to offer you a recipe for a pumpkin dessert sweetened with a little bit of honey. Yes, it is delicious. No, you will not gain weight from it. Yes, it is light and if you eat one portion (note: one portion!) – you will not feel heavy. No, it will not cause the chaos in your body, which a chocolate cake would cause. But it will not bring you the nutrients you would get from a cup of freshly squeezed vegetable juice, either.
It‘s simple: we drink vegetable juice as often as possible to get healthy nutrients and we eat sweet dessert as rarely as possible for the sheer purpose of experiencing pleasure!
Two-Colour Pumpkin Mousse
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 300 g baked pumpkin
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 tbs peanut butter
- 1 tbs raw cocoa
- 20 g dark chocolate
- 50 g walnuts
In a food processor puree the pumpkin together with the coconut oil and honey . Turn off the processor and pour half of the mixture in a separate bowl.
In the bowl of the processor add the peanut butter and swirl until the products are thoroughly mixed. Divide mixture into 4 glasses or dessert bowls and sprinkle nuts on top.
Put the mixture set aside into a separate bowl back into the processor. Add to it the cocoa and the chocolate broken into pieces . Blend until a smooth chocolate mixture forms . Divide it into four bowls / cups .
Decorate with grated chocolate.
If you have landed on my page in the last three months, you had been seeing the same old post and no new publications. But guys, I have not been idle for a single day! What I actually did was developing nutrition-and-coaching programs for moms-to-be, lactating mothers, women who want to get pregnant, couple who want to boost their natural fertility or just ladies who want to feel better (meaning more healthy and in good shape) in their bodies.
All my programs are presented on my new website www.zdravismagi.com (which reads “healthy with magi”). The website is in Bulgarian because I am currently located in Bulgaria but all my programs can be done on-line and in English, so if you are interested, drop me a line! By the way, I am offering an initial 30-minute free Skype consultation – just write to me at email@example.com to schedule one!
Apart from working on my programs and the new website, I have been cooking, shooting and publishing recipes in a couple of Bulgarian website. If you read Bulgarian, you may check a few of my favourites:
All that time I have also watched my little baby growing, crawling around, learning how to sit, making funny noises and getting more curious about the world with every single day! The time spent with her fills me with awe and gratitude, and in inspiration to follow my own dreams and be a good model for her!
The summer is passing by so fast! My daughter started crawling and is now all over the place! It’s amazing the fascination and curiosity with which she discovers the world around!
She is still exclusively breastfed but I introduced the first solid foods in her menu. We started with single-ingredient vegetable purees, then moved to blends of 2 vegetables, added fruit purees and now she is having combinations of vegetables or fruits with gluten-free grains (quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and brown rice). She definitely has my curiosity for new tastes but happens to like one taste today and to reject it tomorrow. This is though natural for babies. They need time to get used to new foods. So I gently offer to her new tastes and let her decide whether and how much she wants.
As for myself, I’ve been drinking a lot of smoothies. Maybe because this summer I have the chance to buy lots of fresh produce (including organic produce) and one of the best ways to consume it is through smoothies. Maybe because they keep me hydrated (it’s been really hot the last few weeks!) and satisfied. Or maybe because smoothies are so quick and easy to prepare, and time is a luxury these days! Every mother with a baby will confirm that between baby feeding, walking, shopping, cleaning and doing other house chores, you don’t have much time available to fix your own meal. So whenever I feel hungry in mid-morning or mid-afternoon, I often go-smoothie or take a smoothie-to-go.
As you can guess, I have tried various combinations but below are 5 of my most favorite summer smoothies! I serve them really cold and they are the perfect summer treat. The lists below contain only the main ingredients but I usually add some super-foods to my smoothie e.g. hulled hemp seeds, flax seed, bee pollen, chia seeds, etc.
Which are your favorite smoothie combinations?
Antioxidants-packed blueberry smoothie
- 1 frozen banana (you need to peel, chop and freeze the banana at least a few hours in advance; I usually keep a few chopped bananas in the freezer)
- ½ cup blueberries
- 150 ml water
- 2 ice-cubes
My baby daughter turned 6 months old yesterday! Half a year passed by so quickly and I am still figuring out what it means to be a mom. I guess that this is a process that goes on all your life!
For one thing I am sure – this is a really exciting, inspiring and overwhelming experience! Watching how the little one changes every day, how she starts discovering the world and enjoying its simple pleasures fills my heart with owe, love and gratitude! I truly treasure these moments with her and feel that they become more meaningful with every single day!
In the same time my baby is the reason I became more interested in proper nutrition for children and moms-to-be, and plan to focus more on these areas of nutrition. I am currently working on developing a few tailored programs for women and children, a new site on my own language and a book on healthy pregnancy (but I will superstitiously save the details for now)!
I am sharing all this in order to explain to you that I will be taking a short vacation off Naturelita while working on the above projects and taking care of my baby. You might expect some changes in the site in a couple of months and more detailed explanations of the nutritional programs I shall offer.
In the meantime feel free to contact me by email or by leaving a comment here – I will try to reply as soon as practical. And I shall remind of myself with occasional publications – be it just a few pictures or a recipe.
I’ve been told that becoming a mom will change my life completely. Now I am living this change!
Motherhood comes with a great joy, a new love that grows every day but also with new responsibilities that at times might be overwhelming. While I find myself in doubt about certain baby-matters, I feel certain about my approach to nutrition. Nutrition has a huge influence on conceiving, pregnancy, new-borns and toddlers. Giving your baby a healthy start in life means giving your body optimum nutrition from the moment you decide to conceive, all through your pregnancy and lactation.
Realizing this, I was theoretically prepared for my own pregnancy and had the chance to test my own nutritional guidance on myself. Not only did I feel in great shape during the 9 months, but I was also able to give a completely natural birth and to be back to my old weight 3 month after delivery, without any diet and while still breastfeeding exclusively.
It is only natural that now I want to share this knowledge and experience with other moms-to-be and help them go smoothly through pregnancy, giving their babies an optimal start in life.
I already had the chance to make two public lectures on the subject and featured an article with nutritional advice and two recipes in the new issue of the Bulgarian magazine The Woman Today.
I will be happy to discuss pregnancy nutrition in personal consultations with future moms and their families and also plan to write more on this subject. It is only so important that more women realize that good nutrition means health and health is the first and best present that they can give to their future child! One that will stay with them for life!
If you want to discuss pregnancy nutrition with me, drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
Morning shake for moms-to-be
- 1 cup of sugar-free, life and natural yogurt
- 1/2 cup forest fruits
- 1 small banana (preferably frozen)
- 1 tbs oats
- 2 tbs freshly-grounded seeds (sesame, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower)
Place all ingredients except the seeds in a blender and mix into a shake. Serve for breakfast topped with the freshly-grounded seeds.
Helloooo…. Is there anyone around? I haven’t posted here the last couple of weeks but I haven’t stayed idle as well! I taught an 8-weeks long healthy nutrition course in a yoga studio in Sofia, participated as a co-organizer and co-tutor in a 3-day long workshop (you may see a video here), did weekly publications in the Bulgarian site Momichetata ot grada and, of course, looked after my little daughter who turned 5 months old the previous week.
As Darina is approaching the time when solid foods will be introduced into her diet, I realized that the information on this important topic which is available in my language is quite scattered, contradictory and insufficient. So I plan to do more publications and classes on the topics of introducing solid foods to babies, children nutrition, nutrition for moms-to-be and women with fertility problems. Actually, this morning I gave a lecture on nutrition during pregnancy and lactation in a school for future parents organized by one of top Bulgarian magazines for parents and babies.
My idea is to do such publications in Bulgarian websites but let me know if you want to share part of this information here as well.
Now, about the recipe today. It is a cake. A raw cake. An ice-cream raw cake. When I first posted the picture of this raw cake on my Facebook page, I received a comment that it is impossible to make an ice-cream cake without diary and eggs. But, it is possible! And here is the proof!
I haven’t tried the combination of apricots and bananas before and first tasted is for breakfast, served over overnight oats and chia seeds. It is delicious, I promise! Try it for breakfast! Top it with some freshly-grounded flax and sesame seeds or hemp-seeds and you will have a tasty, super-powerful and nutritious breakfast. Instead of overnight oats, you may use buckwheat sprouts or a mixture of quinoa and nuts.
You might not believe me but it was last spring that I first tasted fresh green peas and fava beans!
All my life green peas have come along into jars and cans or in the last few years – only frozen. But fresh… it didn’t even occur to me that peas are first fresh before becoming canned or frozen!
Ok, the thing is that the beans are just not offered in their green state on the market where I live. And it was during my stay in France last May that I saw the piles of fresh green peas and fava beans on the farmer’s market. And fell in love. And when I tasted them, I fell in love even more!
So this year, I was happy to find a lady on the market close to where I live who has been bringing me the sweet beans all spring long and every time I purchased as much as I could carry home!
The little green pearls found their way in salads and pastas, perched on top of open-faced sandwiches or huddled in wraps. Virtually everywhere. I even found myself nibbling upon them for mid-afternoon snack.
Not only that I like the buttery taste of the beans but they perfectly compliment any dish that I add them to – giving it colour and texture, and taste.
Today many countries celebrate the International Children’s day. A good reason to think about the future of our loved ones.
As a new mother with a 4-month-old baby I am getting increasingly concerned with our children’s living and food environment. Do you know that one in three children in the developed world eat fast food every day of their life and that trends threaten to leave them with shorter life expectancy that our generation? Are you not afraid that our reckless attitude towards the nature and the environment will leave our children with less green forests, less clean waters, polluted air and dramatic climate changes? I am.
I am pretty sure that most of you feel over-worked and short-of-time almost every day. Your to-do lists usually run for pages and it might be that many times home-cooking does not figure on it. It is much easier and time-saving to get processed and packaged take-away food from the local convenient store or to take the kids for quick dinner in a fast-food restaurant. But that food does not feed your children!!! It only abuses their little systems and fills them with empty calories that eventually make them susceptible to obesity and life-threating chronic diseases like diabetes that not long ago used to be considered old-age diseases.
My transition to healthy eating was not an overnight shift but a process. The more things I learnt, the more things I changed, replaced and discovered. Тhe more inspired I felt! As time passed by I tried new tastes, textures, flavors, aromas and loved most of them!
At the beginning (which is now several years ago) I cut off foods like soft drinks, packaged sweets, frozen dinners, etc. Then I swapped some foods that I wouldn’t give up for their healthier alternatives e.g. dairy milk for nut milk, white sugar for natural sweeteners like honey or agave, white flour for whole-grain flour, etc. And finally, I started to recreate certain favorite recipes by using healthier ingredients. And this is the most important message of this post: you don’t need to give up favourite foods and tastes in order to eat healthy – you actually discover more food and more tastes by eating true food that nourishes your body!
This month, one of my favourite webs Yahoo Shine Super Club called for sharing favourite recipes from our childhood. While reading the article, my mind pictured the image of a desert that my grandmother used to make, using tea biscuits, lots of butter, powdered sugar and cocoa: sweet salami. I loved it so much that it never lasted more than a couple of days.