Falafel Collard Greens Wrap with Tzatziki Sauce

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These tasty fried fritters are perfect to serve as an appetizer or as a protein in a sandwich or wrap. It is typically served inside pita bread with hummus. I opted for a collard greens wrap with homemade tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and cabbage. Roasted eggplant would be a nice addition.

Falafel:

2 C dried chickpeas

1  bunch of parsley

1 chopped onion

1/4th C finely chopped cilantro

4-6 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

3 tbs lemon juice

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight then drain. Do not use canned chickpeas!
  2. Mix soaked chickpeas, parsley, onion, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and lemon juice together in a food processor. Blend until thoroughly mixed, but not completely smooth.
  3. Mold the chickpea mixture into balls with two spoons and fry in avocado oil (used for high temperature cooking). Alternatively, you can use an ice cream scoop to form the balls. Fry until golden brown.
  4. Heat collard greens in oven or microwave until soft. Place falafel, chopped cabbage, tomatoes, and a dollop of tzatziki (recipe below) in the center of the greens. Roll like a burrito. Voila!

Tzatziki sauce:

2 C greek whole milk yogurt

1 finely grated cucumber

2 cloves of minced garlic

2-3 tbs of fresh dill

1 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Grate cucumber and mix ingredients together. Let chill for 1-2 hours.

 

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Lisbon & Porto

As soon as I stepped off the Baixa-Chiado metro stop in the heart of the city, I loved Lisboa. I was greeted with sunshine and street performers playing music. Lisbon is the European San Francisco sharing the trolley cars, hills, 25 de Abril bridge (constructed by the same company that built the Bay Bridge), warm weather, and relaxed atmosphere. There is even a lookout point, where locals and tourists go to enjoy a drink with a view, that reminds me of Dolores Park. I felt right at home. I spent my days meandering the stone streets and enjoying lots of pasteis de natas. I highly recommend visiting this beautiful city!

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My favorite lookout point with view of the 25 de Abril bridge

Highlights:

Free walking tour (with donation): My favorite fact I learned on the tour is that J.K Rowling lived in Lisbon! The inspiration for her character Salazar Slytherin came from a past Portuguese dictator who was assassinated near her apartment.

Village Under Ground: This is the hipster area characterized by retro themed double-decker buses underneath the 25 de Abril bridge that have been converted into cafes and co-working spaces.

Book stores: The streets are lined with small book stores, and in fact the oldest book store in the world, Bertrand, resides in Lisbon.

Lookout point: This is the lookout point that reminds me of Dolores Park. It is across from Museu de Farmacia off of rue Marechal Saldanha. Everyone basks in the sunlight and enjoys beers that they bought at a nearby convenience store.

Sintra: I took a perfect day trip to Sintra, located about 1-2 hours by train from Rossio station. It is a picturesque Portuguese town where the Portuguese monarchs lived in the 20th century. It is filled with lush green hills and pastel-colored houses. My three favorite sites are Quinta da Regaleira (large estate/park with the famous initiation well that you enter through a cave), Pena Palace (the colorful palace at the top of the hill), and Castelo dos Mouros (medieval castle). The castles and parks are a bit too far to walk between but you can take an overpriced (5 euro per person) tuk-tuk ride. I recommend taking at least one to Pacio da Pena at the top. From there, you can follow a trail down back to the city.

Barrio Alto: A trendy area filled with cute shops and cafés that is very Marina-esque—there is even a juice shop.

Azulejos tiles: Cannot be missed as they are all over the city.

Pink Street: This is where most of the bars and night life takes place.

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Pena Palace at Sintra

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Me walking up to Pena Palace

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Initiation Well

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Village Under Ground

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What to eat:

Pasteis de nata: Rich custard pastries. The custards grew in popularity because women used the egg whites for bleach and were left with excess yolks. Their solution was to make pastries, and lots of them.

Petiscos tapas: A typical one is Moelas– chicken gizzards with traditional sauce. Yum!

Bacalhau: Cod fish. Cod is a staple component to many Portuguese dishes and is often served with roasted potatoes. The fried cod cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau) are popular too.

Sardines: Another specialty from the region.

Ginja: Traditional cherry liquor that you sip. To me it tastes like cough syrup but many people enjoy it.

Bicas: espresso!!

Where to eat:

Cervejaria Ramiro (Seafood)  The seafood restaurant recommended by Anthony Bourdain. It is very touristy and the queue is always long. We waited at least an hour. They offer champagne (don’t be fooled though—it’s not Moët) and charcuterie plates in a nice outdoor terrace while you wait.

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Pasteis de Belem (Pasteis de nata) A 40 minute bus ride from the city center but these are supposedly the best in Lisbon. I found the ones from the little shops in town were equally as tasty.

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Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau  (Cod pastry) The popular cod pastry that you should at least try once while you are in Lisbon. It is often served with a glass of port wine.

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TimeOut Market (All types of cuisine) It is over-priced and touristy but cool to check out if you have the time. Not a highlight.

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O Cantinho (Locals, traditional) Pan-fried sardines and roasted potatoes.

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Nicolau Cafe (Healthy) A marina-esque cafe offering soups, salads, smoothies, and toasts. I opted for the soup of the day (slit pea), avo toast, and a coconut latte. I heard their pancakes and french toast are also good.

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Artis (Portuguese tapas) I recommend the roasted octopus and moelas (chicken gizzards).

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Santini (Ice Cream) Best ice cream in Lisbon. I got roasted apple and mascarpone.

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Chapito (Nice, traditional) Restaurant with view. Needs reservations.

Casanova (Pizza) Best pizza in Lisbon

Topo (Rooftop bar)

Park Bar (Rooftop bar)

Porto

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Porto is a small coastal town in the northern part of Portugal, around 3 hours by train from Lisbon. To me it is a mixture between Nice and Florence. The close proximity to the water gives it a laid-back and carefree atmosphere that I experienced in Nice. The cobble stone streets, colorful houses, and cafes along the Douro River create the romantic Italian feel. It is often cheaper to fly out of Porto than Lisbon so I recommend tagging it on before/after your trip.

Highlights:

Walking tour

Port wine tour: It is where port wine originated so there is no shortage of wine tastings.

Dom Luis I Bridge: Beautiful view of the city.

Livraria Lello: The bookstore that inspired J.K Rowling.

What to Eat: 

Broa Bread: Traditional bread made out of corn.

Francesinha: A sandwich consisting of sausage, steak, egg, ham, cheese, fries, and special sauce (each restaurant has their secret recipe).

Seafood

Traditional Vegetable soup

Port Wine

Where to Eat:

Café Majestic: Touristy and over-priced but it is nice to see and enjoy an expresso if you have time.

Bread and Breakfast: A cheap alternative to Cafe Majestic, located around the corner.

Casa Guedes: Pulled pork sandwich.

Café Santiago: Where you can try the famous Francesinha sandwich. I recommend splitting it with a friend.

Buraco: Cheap local food. A main entrée is around 5-6 euros.

Fish Fixe: A nice restaurant on the water but it is a bit more expensive.

Maus Habitos (Bad habits): A rooftop restaurant known for their pizzas and salads served in homemade pizza dough.

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Obrigado Portugal, for a wonderful week filled with delicious food!

Indispensable Pesto

This is a modified recipe from The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook. Warning: this pesto will leave a strong garlic taste in your mouth. Use less garlic if you plan on smooching anyone later in the night. For a healthy alternative try it over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.

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1 cup grated fresh Parmesan

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup melted butter (or dairy-free, non-hydrogenated Earth Balance)

10-20 cloves fresh garlic (I use the whole bulb)

1 tbs pine nuts (I throw in a handful, because I love them)

3/4 olive oil

salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Using a blender or food processor, grate enough Parmesan cheese to make one cup; add basil.
  2. Then add melted butter, followed by garlic, pine nuts and finally the oil.
  3. Allow each added ingredient to blend smoothly with the preceding ones, and let stand at least one hour.
  4. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  5. Mix pesto with pasta fresh from the boiling water. Do not add too much pesto, but allow each person a chance to adjust flavor to taste, by adding more pesto if desired.
  6. Leftover pesto will last for a quite a long while if refrigerated in a plastic container, but do not freeze.

Breakfast Cups

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Ingredients:

1 ½ cup oats

3/4th cup almond meal

3/4th cup dates

½ cup coconut oil

1/4th cup maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Yogurt (I recommend Noosa or Coconut Bliss)

Fresh fruit (Strawberries or blueberries)

Directions:

  1. Blend the oats and almond meal in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender until they are powder.
  2. Add the dates, coconut oil, sweetener, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend until smooth. Add more coconut oil if the dough is too dry. The dough should be thick and easy to mold.
  3. Grease muffin tins with coconut oil or butter.
  4. Place roughly 1 tablespoon or large spoonful of the mixture in each tin.
  5. Mold the mixture into the sides of the tin with your hands.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes then place the cups on a cooling rack.
  8. Place a dollop of yogurt inside and fresh fruit on top. Enjoy!

Creamy Summer Smoothies

 

Creamy Peach Smoothie 

 

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Ingredients:

1/2 frozen banana

1 Peach

3-4 ice cubes

1/2 cup Almond milk

Coconut Peanut Butter Shake

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1 frozen banana

3 dates

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1/4th cup coconut cream (from can)

Splash of coconut milk

 

Creamy Berry Sorbet

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1 frozen banana

1/4th cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4th avocado

1/4th cup frozen mango

1/2 cup almond milk