Without doubt, home-made hummus is healthier, tastier and cheaper than store-bought ones. Chickpeas are rich in fibre, easy on digestion, a good source of protein and antioxidants. Avocados! Beyond the delectable flavour, they are a nutrition booster. Avocados offer a variety of nutrients, such as monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium that help keep your metabolism and energy level. We need to eat healthy fats, like avocados, olive and coconut oil because fat helps your body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene as well as lutein, in foods.
A classic creamy garlic hummus is delicious itself, though adding other ingredients makes it more flavoursome and special like this mushroom hummus I made earlier. This time, I used this creamy ripe avocado to add extra smoothness and richness. It is absolutely addictive on its own as a great appetiser or snack. If you happen to have leftovers, use it as a spread in your sandwiches or wraps or fillings when making sushi like this one. It is delicious!
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1/2 ripe avocado
100g raw chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp e.v.o.o plus more for serving
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp of cumin
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
smoked paprika for a sprinkle
Cook soaked chickpeas in boiling water over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until beans are soft. Drain and transfer to a food processor along with all other ingredients. Pulse for a few minutes until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Serve with vegetables sticks or pita chips.
One of the things I cannot live without is chocolate desserts. A piece of dark chocolate with a cafe noir, minty chocolate after meals, strawberries dipped in chocolate with a glass of wine, home-made cacao balls with a cuppa, chocolate-zucchini or chocolate-banana cake.. mmm..is it just me drooling right now? I fell in love with this raw fudge as soon as I had a first bite. It is rich, decadent, heavenly, melting in your mouth. I was lucky to find this French lavender sea salt from a local shop, but feel free to use normal sea salt or make one yourself 🙂 It is divine.
Another good thing about this fudge? It is made of all my favorite healthy ingredients, which means no guilt of eating chocolate dessert, yay! Tahini made of sesame seeds is an excellent source of vitamin B important for healthy cell growth and red blood cells, which will prevent anemia. It also supports your bone health, metabolism, immune and nervous system. Chia seeds contain calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, and a great source of healthy omega-3 fats. I don’t have to go over awesomeness of coconut oil again here, but did you know coconut oil is a natural appetite suppressant? The compounds as coconut is digested are shown to curb hunger naturally and increase energy expenditure. Certainly another reason to add into your diet for overall good health, right? You can replace carob powder with cacao powder in the recipe, though taste the mixture as the sweetness and bitterness is slightly different between two.
Ingredients (x10 serves)
1 large ripe banana
3 tbsp hulled tahini paste
1 tbsp raw honey
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp raw carob powder
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp French lavender sea salt (optional)
Mesh a ripe banana with a fork in a large bowl. Warm up the raw honey, tahini and coconut oil in a pot over low heat until they are just melted. Combine the honey mixture, banana and other ingredients (except lavender salt) in a bowl. Combine well with a spatula and transfer to a prepared silicon baking tray or a container lined with a baking paper. Sprinkle salt evenly on top and chill in the freezer to set. Cut into squares and serve straight from the freezer.
After another overnight cruise from Sweden, the last Nordic country I visited was Finland. Strangely, when I started this Europe trip in Denmark, I had to wear layers of clothes and a thick winter coat. It quickly changed to a nice warm Spring weather in 10 days and I had to wear jeans and t-shirts in Helsinki. I couldn’t resist myself taking a photo of this fashionable guy who was reading a book and enjoying tourists’ attention in the park. I saw so many fashionistas that I couldn’t take my eyes off. City itself was also very vibrant being on Sunday. Families, couples and friends having a relaxing picnic on the water front, lots of sunshine, local markets, yummy smell from the paella and chowder places, window-shopping through boutiques.. I went to some sight-seeing places before I flew back to Korea that evening – Uspenski cathedral, Sibelius monument, Esplanade park and Rock church. So that’s it. Four countries in ten days. Maybe not long enough, but it was good enough for me to feel their culture, understand history, experience local produce, learn to respect nature and most importantly, let my hair down. Love traveling.
After an overnight cruise from Denmark, I arrived in Oslo, Norway. Then we drove to Bergen to stay at a little vintage hotel up on the mountains. The view from my room was stunning! Lots of snow and cold air, I couldn’t believe we were in Spring. Since they were just coming out of winter and were located up on the mountains, it was hard to find any fresh foods except chopped lettuce salad. They also had a variety of interesting canned fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, fish roe and fish pate. I had seeds and dried fruit on natural yogurt, and tried some of the mackerel in tomato sauce with cottage cheese and salad, which was quite nice.
Trip to Norway was all about the fjords, mountains and glaciers, traces of the ice age. I was amazed by the fact that it takes centuries to accumulate snow and eventually form the dense ice. It is such a shame though they are melting slowly because of climate change. It made me respect nature more after looking at the glaciers. Haha how am I going to miss salmon in Norway? Ocean-farmed salmon is famous world-wide, bred in the cold clean fjords. I was happy trying all varieties – smoked, steamed, grilled and raw. To me, raw salmon sashimi was the best, two thumbs up! Fresh and melting in the mouth. Beautiful nature, fresh food, friendly Norwegians.. I cannot wait to go back.
While I was in South Korea in May and July, I decided to go to Northern Europe for 10 days. Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland in 10 days! Yes, it was only enough to visit famous sight-seeing places though I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. Denmark was the first Nordic country of my journey. It takes about 11-12 hours direct flight from Korea to Copenhagen. Time difference? Europe is 8 hours behind, which means you get a massive jet lag. Worse for me cause I just cannot get over it for a couple of weeks, which means once I kind of get used to the time zone, I actually have to go back to Korea and struggle again. I tried to eat healthy and stay hydrated, plus a bit of nap on a bus. My breakfast was mostly oats, natural yogurt, fresh fruits and black coffee. Sometimes a slice of pumpernickle or rye bread if I feel like one. I also had trail mix and home-made power balls in my bag for healthy snacks. Well.. I tried but my diet wasn’t perfect while traveling when I couldn’t resist trying local food and wine. It is okay as long as you keep 80% healthy and indulge yourself the rest. Nothing wrong with that 🙂
I had a beautiful lunch at one of the oldest hotels in Denmark called Skovshoved hotel, about 30 minutes drive from the city. There was a heavy shower on the way to the restaurant, then beautifully cleared up when we arrived. A stunning reflection of blue sky on the rain puddle, cool crisp air, green herb garden at the back of the restaurant, fresh food from local produce. It was perfect.
The cycling culture in Denmark is pretty impressive. Apparently, about 80-90% of Danish who live in the city rides a bike, which means less pollution, traffic jams or car accidents. I couldn’t imagine to see this wealthy country has more bikes than cars on their way to work in the morning. People look so attractive and fashionable on them plus the city looks cleaner, healthier and more lively. Yes, Copenhagen is the city of bicycles. I think it would be a safe option for tourists, too, to hire a bike and have a look around the city. Maybe next time, when I get a hang of riding a bike 🙂