Being a vegetarian in Argentina

Well, there is a challenge for you! Being a food-loving vegetarian in Argentina. Since becoming a vegetarian some 14 years ago, I have travelled all around the world and never once found it very difficult to eat decent vegetarian meals. I didn’t experience any difficulties in the food department while travelling through Kenya, Bolivia, Chili, Peru, Texas, California, Colorado, New York, Sweden, Norway, England, Germany, France, and so on! But Argentina seemed to be a bridge too far 😦 At first!

When travelling to Argentina, and being a vegetarian who does also not eat fish, finding tasty food will be a challenge. But not impossible, as it turned out! I did prepare myself a little bit at home and found some restaurant tips in my travel guides and online. I am glad I did! And just to be on the safe side: I did pack some multivitamines. This is something I would recommend everyone while travelling (veggies and non-veggies alike!), but especially when travelling to Argentina. Fruit and vegetables are few and far between and whole-wheat bread is about non-existent.

To show you that it is not impossible to find good and tasty food in Argentina, here are some pics for you! Followed by some restaurant tips, in case you ever find yourself in Argentina and want something more than just beef, day in and day out.

Eten Patagonie

Plácido in Puerto Madryn

We found ourselves in Puerto Madryn on October 24, our anniversary, and wanted to have a little celebration (as if walking in between penguins wasn’t enough of a treat for me already ;-)). Plácido turned out to be the perfect choice. It is a little more expensive than other restaurants around, but the food was also a different class! No tasteles tourist junk here! Several imaginitive vegatarian options, seaside view, and classy waiters. When you find yourself in Puerto Madryn and in need of actual good food, this is a must try! For veggies and non-veggies alike.

Estepa in El Chalten

I think this was my favourite restaurant in Argentina 🙂 It is very small, 6 tables only. All food is freshly made while you wait. the staff is so, so friendly. The food absolutely delicious. I really, really enjoyed dining at this place after just hiking all over a glacier 😉 The atmosphere is a little like an Italian bistro combined with a Swiss chalet.

Viva la Pepa in El Calafate

Colorful little cafe in El Calafate serving all kinds of mostly vegetarian food. We ended up eating here 2 days in a row. It felt so good to get our veggies in!

Bio in Buenos Aires

We ended up hiking all the way across the city for this one. Getting grumpier and hungrier along the way. But I am sure glad we did it!

This is a vegetarian restaurant using mostly organic ingredients. They also do raw food, but I just like my food hot 😉 Simply delicious. One little minor detail: the staff was not very friendly. But the food made more than up for it.

Then last but not least a tip in Ushuaia: Ramos! A warm and confortable cafe, serving breakfast, coffee, cakes, small dishes for lunch and dinner, all through the day.

A different kind of Christmas pudding

In my previous post, I promised to share this recipe for sticky toffee pudding with you. This was a yummie dessert and a perfect ending for our Christmas dinner. But no worries: this pudding will hit the spot every time, not just for Christmas 😉 The original recipe is by Nigella Lawson and I only made 1 slight adjustment: I about halved to amount of brown sugar. Still sweet enough for my taste! I am glad I didn’t use the whole amount, but maybe someone else is more daring?

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

Ingredients puddingPudding

  • 100 gr brown sugar
  • 175 gr self-rising flour
  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50 gr melted unsalted butter
  • 200 gr dates, cut into small pieces

Sauce

  • 200 gr brown sugar (I used about 80 grams)
  • 25 gr unsalted butter in little pieces
  • 500 ml boiling water
Mix sugar and flour.

Mix sugar and flour.

Whisk milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla.Whisk milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla.

Whisk milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla.Whisk milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla.

Combine wet mixture with flour and sugar.

Combine wet mixture with flour and sugar.

Stir in dates.

Stir in dates.

Place in oven-safe bowl.

Place in oven-safe bowl.

Cover with brown sugar.

Cover with brown sugar.

Add pieces of butter. Then cover with boiling water (yep, sounds strange, but it will work, trust me!)

Add pieces of butter. Then cover with boiling water (yep, sounds strange, but it will work, trust me!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 Celcius and bake for 50-60 minutes for this delicious end result :-)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 Celcius and bake for 50-60 minutes for this delicious end result 🙂

Christmas Eve Dinner

We decided to take it easy this year for the Holidays. Our parents live both in the far north and far south of the country (we are in the middle). Last year, we spend most of Christmas travelling from one to the other. Not this year! We spend December 25 and 26 at my parents and we will be visiting The Boyfriend`s parents over New Year`s. This meant we got to spent Christmas Eve relaxing at home. Of course, with some good food to keep us company 🙂

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve Menu

Mangold pie with goat cheese
Green salad with pear

Sticky toffee pudding for dessert

Let´s go with the recipe for the mangold pie for now. The pudding will follow in the next post (I promise, it will be worth the wait :-))

Mangold is also known as swiss chard, our snijbiet or zilverstelen in Dutch. It is one of those “forgotten vegetables” that hardly make it to the dinner table anymore. Such a shame, ’cause it is really tasty and the green leaves so, so healthy! I am glad I discovered this vegetable, which was in my veggies bag the week before Christmas. Perfect timing for this Christmas Eve pie. I did adjust the original recipe a little bit by adding more vegetables instead of only mangold.

Mangold Pie

Ingredients

  • 400 gr mangold (or however much you happen to have)
  • Yellow pepper, tomatoes or other veggies you like. Make it colourful!
  • 100 gr feta cheese
  • 25 gr pumpkin seeds (I didn’t have pumpkin seeds and roasted some almonds instead)
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • little bit of olive oil
  • 125 gr flour
  • 60 gr unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp soft curd cheese (kwark in Dutch)

Pie crust

Make dough from flour, butter, salt and curd cheese, cover and place in fridge for about 30 minutes.

Veggies

Wash and cut mangold, peppers and tomatoes. Heat oil and add mangold, peppers (not tomatoes!) and a little bit of water. Cover and let stew for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add coriander and pepper.

Roast pumpkin seeds (or almonds or any other nut or seed you like).

Roll dough until it is about 3 mm thick (my dough was much too sticky for this, so I ended up pressing it into an oven dish using my fingers ;-)). Grease oven dish and place dough in it. Put veggies on top. Add tomotoes, if using, and pumpkin seeds. Crumble feta on top.

Mangold Pie

You can use any leftover dough to cover the pie (As you can see, there was nothing left of my dough…).

Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C) and bake pie for about 30 minutes. Serve with a green salad. Mine included pears and my favorite dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.

I am back!

Did I leave you or what? I am so, so sorry! But I have several very good reasons for this absence.

At the end of September, I started having some dental problems. Which turned into a whooping 3 root canals within 2 weeks! At the end of those 2 weeks, I really did not feel like blogging anymore. I didn’t feel like doing anything but sit on the couch and try to breath through the pain while shaking incontrollably. Fortunately, I have a great dentist, who always managed to squeeze me in right away and made all the pain go away in the end 🙂

Right in time for our upcoming trip: halfway through October we went to Patagonia for a month!!! I went completely offline during that time. No blogging, no mailing, no Facebook, nothing! And it was great. I am planning to do a post on vegetarian dining in Argentina, which is somewhat interesting 😉 Some highlights: we climbed glaciers, walked amongst penguins and went whale watching 🙂

Then, after we got back, I went back to school! Yep, evening school, next to my fulltime job as a project manager. I thought about this decision very hard and long and I am absolutely happy about it, but I must say: it is a lot of work. Evenings, weekends, I am always studying. “Studying what?”, you might ask: I am studying to be a weight and food consultant.

I have always been very interested in healthy eating and excercise and the way it influences your health and wellbeing. Obviously, I am also very interested in cooking and in good food. In the past, several people have asked me things like “How do you stay so slim?”or “How do you manage to eat healthy and still enjoy your food?”. I figured: I do eat healthy, I think I eat according to my needs, but I have no idea about the whole processes in your body and the whole theory behind food and drink or how to best advise and motivate people on this subject. So, I decided to go back to school, learn about food and then hopefully being able to help a few people gaining a healthy weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

And next to working 40+ hours and going to school, I am still spending time with The Boyfriend, friends and family, excercising, cooking, reading and taking care of my house. So, all in all, it is a pretty busy time right now 🙂

But I promise: from now on there will be (hopefully) weekly blogs again! Talk to you soon!

Start of Fall Season

I love fall. I love being able to bundle up in comfy clothes again. I love the changing colours. And I love the abundance of veggies on the market! The best of all (in my book) being: PUMPKINS!

I celebrate the start of autumn with this little tradition I created: I invite one or more friends and make my very yummie pumpkin soup, the first of the season 🙂 This year, I invited one of my Book Club friends who has invited herself over for dinner on more than one occasion 😉 The soup was a hit (as was the company :-))

I found this recipe years ago somewhere and I just keep on making it. There is a “secret” ingredient which I think gives it it’s special sweet taste: granny smith apples.

Best Pumpkin Soup Ever

  • about 1kg pumpkin
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • 750 ml vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • crème fraîche for serving

Start with cutting pumpkin into chunks. This is hard work! Use a good knife, and don’t be surprised if your arms ache the day after 🙂

Put pumpkin, apple, onion and rosemary in pan. Add broth, cover pan and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After about 40 minutes the pumpkin will be very soft. Purée soup. Add pepper, as much as you like.

Serve with crème fraîche and bread.

Note: as long as you do not add the crème fraîche you can freeze this soup as well. It will keep for a few months. It is also perfect to make ahead of time. As long as you do not add the crème fraîche before serving.

My Own Worst Enemy

Yep, sometimes that is just what I am. And with this I am hinting at how I always push myself so hard, ask too much of myself, want to do everything, and want to do everything perfectly.

On a few occasions, I shared a little bit about my excercise routines with you (if you missed it, check out these posts here and here). So, as you know I love to excercise. I might even go as far as to say I am addicted. Addicted to the great feeling it gives me (and the toned body that comes with it). It makes me sleep better, I have higher energy levels and am hardly ever sick. And of course it does not hurt that it burns tons of calories that can be used eating yummie food 😉

Anyways, as you might also recall, there is many sports I like to do (spinning, bodypump, biking, bodybalance, dancing, etcetera) but there is one sport I swore I would never, ever try again: RUNNING. I even went as far as giving my almost brand new New Balance running shoes away. Yep, that’s right, GAVE them away. So as not to ever be tempted to run again.

Well what can I say: I failed …

The last 2 weekends we went shopping for running shoes, for me and The Boyfriend (!!!) and swe started our new running plan.

I decided I want to try it one more time. The difference this time being that I will follow a running plan and actually start at a beginners level. Trying to build it up to running 30 minutes and then take it from there. This is different from my previous attempts.  Normally, I would just say: ok, my fitness level is good so I will run for 30 minutes or 5k straight. Well, that will set you up for failure, big time. Physically, I am able to run 5k. But mentally is a different question. The thought of having to run for 30 minutes: yuk, boring, no way! Haha, we will see.

So, what made me decide to buy new shoes and give it another try. Several reasons:

  1. I am looking for a type of excercise that I can do anywhere, while staying at The Boyfriend’s, at my parents, his parents, while traveling, etcetera.
  2. My BFF started running and is really enthusiastic about it. Would be great if at one point we can do some runs together.
  3. Then, someone at my spinning class (who also turned out to be a marathon runner himself) commented on how I have the perfect runner’s built and he was very surprised when I told him I gave up on that completely. He tried to convince me of how much fun it can be. Well, I guess it worked 😉
  4. And, last but not least: there is this little voice inside my head that keeps telling me I should be able to do it and how great would it be if I could, at one point, run a race, or even work towards a triathlon (uhoh, I see swimming training in my future….)

Then, when I was buying my running shoes, The Boyfriend (who previously did NOT, just absolutely NOT, excercise) surprised me by asking the sales clerk if he also had some running shoes in his size! So, this turned out to be a great decision even before we really started: we will be excercising together, starting a (hopefully) new hobby together! Come to think of it, this might be even better than having him join me in a spinning or bodypump class. This way, we are completely equal. We both start at the beginning 🙂 Ha, and I got The Boyfriend to start excercising, how cool is that 😉

The plan is to run 2 to 3 times a week and build it up to running 30 minutes straight. We are starting with a beginners plan, so I don’t set myself up for failure again and to give myself the best chance of starting to like running. The first week did feel a little easy to me, but I will not be tempted to go too hard, too fast. If I want hard and fast, I will just have to take a spinning class (which obviously I will keep doing).

I am very confident I will succeed this time. Because:

  1. I have a running buddy 🙂
  2. I told any people of my intentions: co-workers, BFF, and the marathoner at my spinning class. I do not want all to have to explain why I stopped.
  3. I have this blog, which will keep me accountable
  4. I had to buy new shoes! Need to make it worth my money 😉

My first week incorporating running into my routine looked like this:

Monday: spinning

Tuesday: pilates, running inside at the gym

Wednesday: spinning

Thursday: spinning

Friday: bodypump

Saturday: running in the park

Sunday: running in the park followed by bodybalance at the gym

It felt very good. Not too hard. And especially the stretching at bodybalance on Sunday felt really awesome 😉 Obviously, there will be weeks when I cannot incorporate excercise in each day, but I will keep trying for 30 minutes of excercise a day. Wish me luck!

Preparing for Patagonia

In only a few short weeks from now, The Boyfriend and I will be travelling to Patagonia!!!! I still  can’t really grasp the idea of it, but it is really happening. We will fly out to Santiago in Chili, then travel all the way south to Ushuaia, the most southern city in the world, and back up again to Buenos Aires 🙂 Along the way there will hiking up a glacier, visiting pinguins, whale spotting, hiking up a volcano, tango dancing (The Boyfriend is not yet convinced about this part ;-)) y mucho más 🙂

To prepare a little bit for this trip, I was looking for some Argentine and/or Chilean dishes to make. Then I found this cool recipe in this ancient (2005) Vegetarian Times issue:

Humitas (Argetine Corn Pudding)

  • 5 cups corn kernels
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 medium-sized green pepper (I used a red pepper), chopped
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

Put corn kernels, eggs and milk in food processor or blender, and purée until smooth. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper, and sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, paprika and cayenne, and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Add corn mixture, salt and pepper, and cook 2 minutes. Pour into baking dish (I used small, 1-serving dishes), and sprinkle with cheese.

Preheat oven to 175C (350F). Bake for 30 minutes. 

I served this with homemade pita chips and a tomato salad. And it was GOOD! So good, we are doing a rerun this weekend, as requested by The Boyfriend.

Fish spa

For a while now, I keep getting these Groupon deals for fish spas. I always immediatately deleted them. Yuk, putting your feet (or worse: your whole body!) in water with fish nibbling at your skin? No way!

What is a fish spa, you might ask. In a fish spa, you will put your feet, or whole body, in a bath with little Gara Ruffa fish. Why would someone do this? Beats me, but apparently there are some benefits: exfoliation of dead skin, promotion of blood circulation, lightening of minor scars, stress relieve.

Anyways, I didn’t even consider ever doing this. First, I do not really think the above mentioned effects are really to be had from having fish nibble yoy. But more even: I do not like the feeling of fish. I do not touch fish. I given me the creeps.

So, why am I telling you all this? Fast forward to last weekend: my BFF, to my big surprise, did buy a deal for a fish spa. And not even a FEET only one. Nope: whole body! Anfd guess who was invited to come along. Yep, that’s right.

Why did I go? Well, I am not very good at saying no, obviously. I do really like to spend time with my BFF and we don’t see each other that often. Plus, I think you should always give something the benefit of the doubt and try it at least once (well, this might not go for EVERYTHING).

So, off we went. It was a small spa in Rotterdam and I must see it was not the nicest or cleanest spa we have ever been too. But we made it to the bath… As I sat down, I got a mild case of hyperventilation (did I mention I do NOT like the feeling of fish?). As the fish started “attacking” me I was seriously wondering what I got myself into. When I asked my friend for how long we were going to sit there and the answer was 1 whole hour (!) I was about to get up and leave.

After a little bit, I did start to relax. As long as I was not looking at the actual fish going at it (or me in this case) it felt a little like being scrubbed softly. I was ok for a while, and while talking to my friend, the time passed.

We made it to 45 minutes but no longer. Then we took a really good and long shower, to get rid of the (imaginary?) fish smell! An hour really felt too long to just sit there and have fish nibbling at you. At least we went on to a nice lunch after this adventure.

So, it was fun that we shared this experience and we did have a good laugh about it. But I will not ever pay to go to a fish spa again! There are way more fun ways to relax. I rather go for a decent massage or a facial.

Does our skin now feel much smoother? At first we thought maybe. But that was most likely because we had just sat soaking in a hot bath for 45 minutes! Do I recommend this: definitely not the whole body thing. I will not do this again. But maybe the foot fish spa is a little better, and easier to handle. Might be fun to do if you really want to try something new.

Plum and apple pie

Remember how I “lost my closet? If not, check out this post.

Well, for the last 4 weekends, The Boyfriend, his dad and uncle have been working hard, really, really hard at building me a new one 🙂 I am so, so grateful to them. I don’t know how we would have managed without their help.

Men at work

And now, the ordeal is slowly but surely coming to end. The closet has been built and weekend 4 (and most likely weekend 5  next week) has been spent on painting our new wardrobe.

I might have mentioned here or there that I absolutely dislike undertaking any Do-It-Yourself projects myself. I am just not good at it, not patient enough, or maybe just lazy. I do like the end results, most of the time. So, in lieu of me helping with the actual hard work, I put myself in charge of the food 🙂 Everyone should do what they are good at, right?

So, after working all of Sunday morning, I had this warm plum and apple pie waiting for my knight in shining armor paint specks 😉

Plum and apple pie

Ingredients

  • about 900  grams of fruit (I used plums and apples), washed, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 150 grams unsalted, melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
  • 250 grams flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 120 ml milk

Mix eggs with sugar and vanilla using electric mixer for about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and baking powder; mix well (not using electric mixer!). Add melted butter and milk. Pour layer of batter into greased baking tin. Place 3/4 of fruit on top and cover with rest of batter. Place rest of fruit on top and press into batter a little.

Preheat oven to 180 °C (350 °F) and bake for about 1 hour. Let cool for a little and enjoy 🙂

Mango curry with chickpeas and cucumber

Cucumber is one of those vegetables that I do not much care for. I don’t necessarily dislike them, but find them just kind of bland and boring.

Some while ago, The Boyfriend gave me this book with information on all kinds of vegetables, fruits, vitamins, etcetera. Stating pros and cons of all sorts of foods. And guess what: cucumber does not really have any positive qualities, except for the fact that it is mostly water, so quite handy when you try to lose weight. But not much else. (Nothing negative about them either, by the way). So, this makes me feel better for hardly ever eating cucumbers 😉

However, last week, it was in my bag and I do think it is a waste to throw away a perfectly fine vegetable. But just plain cucumber salad? Bleehhh! So guess how happy I was to find this curry recipe with mango, chickpeas and cucumber 🙂 And my Very Berry Chutney just happened to go perfectly with it 🙂

So, when my mom visited us on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year and I did not feel like cooking much, this turned out to be the perfect dish: I cut all veggies in the morning and also made the berry chutney ahead of time, when the heat was still tolerable. Then, actually cooking the dish took about 15 minutes, which was just about bearable with temperatures of about 38 degrees Celcius 😉

Mango curry with chickpeas and cucumber

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, cut into pieces
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cans of chickpeas (800 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 3 tablespoons mild curry paste
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400 grams)
  • 100 ml coconut milk
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 8 papadums
  • fresh coriander

Preparation

Heat oil and bake onion for about 2 minutes. Add curry paste, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber and cocnut milk. Let simmer over low heat for about 8 minutes. Add mango chunks for last 3 minutes.

Prepare papadums according to package directions. Server curry with coriander, papadums and berry chutney.

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