I have a special fruit salad to share today, inspired by some of the Moroccan flavours combined with a very non-Moroccan fruit (papaya). A dressing of fresh mint, orange blossom water and honey give a sparkly boost to papaya, figs and candy-like dates. The whole mixture is topped with finely chopped salted almonds, dried rose petals, and a tiny drizzle of argan oil - it's totally lovely, as well as naturally free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. 

papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen

Next week, I plan to post photos from my trip around beautiful Morocco as well as to share my top tips for where to stay and eat. The trip was so full of fantastic food, people, and settings that I am still processing it all. I can tell you this though: I loved it and am already dreaming of going back.

For the moment, I've been finding myself adding some of the Moroccan flavours I love to most of what's come out of my kitchen since I've returned - it's all mint, sumac, argan oil with thoughts of whipping up a ras el hanout spice mix and some homemade chermoula. And tajine, of course. Today though, I have fruit salad. This one's quite a bit different than the fruit salads we ate each morning with breakfast, but it's absolutely inspired by my trip. I was wandering around the grocery store, as I love to do, and came across some very ripe papayas. Usually, the papayas here are much too green and not ready to eat but these little babes were yellow and splotchy and pretty much perfect so of course, I had to take one home. Usually papayas are just sliced up and eaten as-is around here, but I also had come across a tray of ripe figs (you could say it was a very successful grocery shop!) and wanted to find a way to combine the two. 

papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen

My kitchen table is still covered by many of the ceramics, glassware, and ingredients I brought home with me. I'm perpetually a wonderful packer but terrible un-packer. I noticed the dried roses and argan oil, and immediately my thoughts jumped to the mint in the fridge and I knew I could tie them all together! Mint is no stranger to fruit salad, but do you ever find yourself with a mouthful of sliced mint that just isn't very pleasant? I've taken care of that by crushing fresh mint into a paste, combined with local honey and just a bit of orange blossom water - the combo is dreamy and so delicious that I had to make a second batch just as soon as I finished making the first! Toss the papaya and figs with this dressing and you already have something delightful, but to add a few extra touches I also slivered my new favourite "candy' (deglet nour dates), and crunchy salted almonds and then topped the whole thing with some of the rose petals I brought back, and the tiniest drizzle of argan oil. The result is an absolute delight - fresh, a little sweet, and the kind of thing that just tastes like sunshine and could be eaten for breakfast, an afternoon treat, or dessert. I can picture myself enjoying this one now as I remember sitting on the terrace of my riad, and all through the warm months to come here at home. 

Edible argan oil was at the top of my list of things I wanted to find in Morocco. I found mine in Essaouira, the little town where much of the country's argan oil is produced. It was there I learned that the difference between edible and cosmetic argan oil is simply that culinary argan oil is toasted, whereas cosmetic argan oil is raw. Personally, my feeling is that as long as the source is credible and high quality, that raw and cold-pressed cosmetic argan oil would also be safe to consume. I suggest that because I've been keeping an eye out for culinary argan oil for a couple years here in Canada, without luck! If you are unable to find argan oil for this recipe, simply skip it or replace it with an easier to source nut oil, like pistachio. It adds a lovely nutty quality to the dish but certainly there are plenty of flavours going on here and it will be okay to go without :) 

Here's to May and the slow seasonal shift towards Spring. Wishing you guys a wonderful week! xo

papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
papaya salad with a moroccan twist (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen

Papaya Salad with a Moroccan Twist

Note: Orange blossom water can be found cheaply in the international aisle of many grocery stores - I use the Cedar brand, which is generally about $2 and is pure (without additives or artificial flavours). 

1/4 cup fresh mint, packed

1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (fleur de l'orange) 

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon raw honey

about a half of a medium-sized ripe papaya, peeled and seeds discarded

3-4 ripe figs

5 deglet nour dates, pitted and slivered

1 tablespoon salted almonds, finely chopped

8-10 dried rose petals, crushed or finely chopped

argan oil, to drizzle

Slice the papaya into 1/4 inch pieces. Take each slice and then cut again into 1 inch sized bites. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Roughly chop the mint, then transfer to a mortar and pestle, and add the honey and orange blossom water. Use the pestle to crush the mint and work it into a paste - this takes only a few minutes. It's okay if there are some slightly larger pieces of mint remaining, but you should aim to have a well-integrated paste without chunks.

Slice the figs into thin wedges and add to the bowl with papaya. Add the dates, almonds, and mint paste and gently toss to combine. Add most of the crushed dried rose petals (saving a bit for garnish) and toss again. Divide the salad into serving dishes, drizzle each with a tiny bit (approximately 1/4 teaspoon each) of argan oil and the remaining rose petals and serve. Keep any leftover salad in a covered container in the fridge, and consume within the day. 

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AuthorChristine DesRoches
CategoriesSalads
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These parfaits combine a few simple but really delicious parts in a serendipitously delightful combination - eaten together, the blueberry compote, crunchy nut clusters, chia pudding made with cashew milk, and coconut whip taste unbelievably good. Simple, healthy, and a total winner for breakfast, an afternoon treat, or dessert. 

blueberry chia parfaits with crunchy pecan clusters (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen

I'm writing this post from the airport because I'm going to Morocco! I have an overnight flight ahead and my carry-on is stuffed with everything I could think of to promote a restful sleep on the plane (is that even possible?). Seriously, there's lavender essential oil, the most luxurious eye mask, a spritzing toner and other skin care minis, ear buds, melatonin, sleepy time tea, a large blanket scarf, warm socks, my travel pillow and a good book. Fingers crossed it works ;) Honestly, I very much wish that I also had one of these parfaits in my bag but I ate the last one for breakfast yesterday. So good! 

So over the next week and a half, that's where I'll be. I'm going with one of my closest friends and I am a stressed out mix of excited and nervous. Getting ready has been total madness. I always feel a little guilty being away from work, like I need to complete all the work that I would have done if I was there before I leave. It's both irrational and sort of true, unfortunately. But we all deserve vacations, right? This feels like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip for me, so we have a few really special splurges planned. I'm obsessed with Moroccan decor and can't wait to shop in the medina, eat tangine, visit the painted blue city and see goats in trees!!! Keep up with me on instagram if you want to see what's going on! 

I also wanted to just leave a quick note because it has been way too long since I posted here last - March 17! I'm sorry for that. The past while has been a bit of a blur. I wasn't feeling well for a pretty long time, then this trip became a possibility and then all I found myself doing was reading blog posts of what women should wear in Morocco and how to ask for gluten free food. I'm so happy to be back though, and I have plans to get things much more regular around here. Thank you so much for reading! xoxo

blueberry chia parfaits with crunchy pecan clusters (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
blueberry chia parfaits with crunchy pecan clusters (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
blueberry chia parfaits with crunchy pecan clusters (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
blueberry chia parfaits with crunchy pecan clusters (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen
blueberry chia parfaits with crunchy pecan clusters (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by my natural kitchen

Blueberry Chia Parfaits with Crunchy Nut Clusters

Serves 4. If you happen to have any of Tara's golden honey elixir from her cookbook, it is an absolutely fantastic addition here, and a real favourite of mine. 

for the chia pudding:

1 1/4 cup water

heaping 1/4 cup raw cashews

3 tablespoons chia seeds

Add the water and cashews to a blender and increase the speed to high. Blend for a full minute until completely smooth. If using a high speed blender, there's no need to strain your cashew milk. If using a regular blender, than you may use a fine mesh sieve or a nut milk bag to filter out any pulp (or feel free to leave it in). Add 1 cup of the cashew milk to a bowl and whisk in the chia seeds. Whisk continuously for a full minute until the chia seeds begin to swell and the pudding thickens. Stir in the remaining cashew milk and set aside while you prepare the remaining components. 

for the nut clusters:

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/4 cup cashews, roughly chopped

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil

a pinch each of sea salt and cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the pecans, cashews, and sesame seeds to the baking sheet and toss gently to combine. Warm the coconut oil over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the brown rice syrup, the maple syrup, the salt and cinnamon and stir to combine. Pour the liquid mixture over the nut mixture and toss together. Bake for 10 minutes, stir gently, and then bake for another 2-5 minutes until golden and toasty-smelling. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Once cooled slightly, break into clusters. 

for the blueberry compote:

1 1/2 cups wild blueberries, frozen

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup water or blueberry juice

2 teaspoons arrowroot starch

Add the frozen blueberries and maple syrup to a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Whisk the arrowroot starch into the water or blueberry juice to make a slurry, then add to the saucepan and stir with the blueberries and maple syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the compote becomes syrupy and thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

for the coconut whip:

1 can of full fat coconut milk (I prefer Thai Kitchens brand)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon maple syrup

The coconut milk needs to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours before opening for coconut whip. Turn the refrigerated can upside down and open it; pour off the coconut water (it's good for smoothies!). Scoop out the solid coconut milk remaining in the can and add to a bowl. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract, then use a hand blender to whip to stiff peaks. 

for the parfaits:

Place two spoonfuls each of blueberry compote into four small jars or glasses. Add two spoonfuls of chia pudding, followed by a heaped tablespoon of nuts, and two spoonfuls of coconut whip. Follow with more blueberry compote, chia pudding, a dollop of coconut whip and two spoonfuls of nut clusters. Serve immediately, or store covered in the fridge for up to two days.

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These bars feature matcha green tea powder, coconut, and bee pollen - all known for their energizing powers and superior nutritional properties. A short ingredient list and quick to make, these no-bake bars are an ideal treat for busy people!

no-bake matcha coconut + bee pollen bars (gluten free, vegan) from my natural kitchen

I'm pretty sure we all could use a few recipes that involve minimal ingredients for a super-health/tasty/satisfying treat. For the last month or so, I've been trying to simplify a bit for the sake of my poor stomach. I developed a new food intolerance (goodbye for now, black beans) and the aftermath of my reaction has been pretty uncomfortable - low-energy, on the brink of getting sick with a sore throat most mornings, and totally uncomfortable in my body. My stomach hurts after most meals and I just feel kind of heavy and blah. To help myself out, I'm mostly following food combining principles and loading up on probiotics. If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen my posts about water kefir - so fun! Every time I start a new fermentation project, I feel nervous that it won't work out and so naturally, I was a bit apprehensive to attempt kefir. I bought the grains on a whim, watched a bunch of how-to videos online, and gave it a go. To my surprise, it's been a total success and much easier than I could have imagined - my grains are so happy that they are even multiplying (on that note, any locals want some kefir grains?). Feeling a little ambitious, I went ahead and ordered a gluten free sourdough starter as well as a vegan yogurt culture - my kitchen might just became a bit of a science lab soon ;) 

Because I always seem to have a sweet tooth, no matter how I'm feeling otherwise, I have also been making bars to snack on. My focus has been on what's easily digestible lately, in addition to my usual "how can I make this healthy and jam-pack as much good stuff in as possible?" These are a recent favourite, and couldn't be quicker to make! Lemon or lime zest would be a nice twist, especially for vegans who might avoid bee products like pollen. I love the slightly bitter taste of pollen, and all the protein and nourishing qualities I get from it. Matcha is energizing and delicious with coconut, and they only take about 10 minutes to set up in the freezer!

Five weeks in and I'm finally starting to feel better. Quick no-bake treats like these Matcha Coconut and Bee Pollen bars are sticking around though! Hope you all are enjoying March, can you feel Spring just around the corner? xo

no-bake matcha coconut + bee pollen bars (gluten free) from my natural kitchen
no-bake matcha coconut + bee pollen bars (gluten free) from my natural kitchen
no-bake matcha coconut + bee pollen bars (gluten free, vegan) from my natural kitchen
no-bake matcha coconut + bee pollen bars (gluten free) from my natural kitchen
no-bake matcha coconut + bee pollen bars (gluten free, raw) from my natural kitchen

No-Bake Matcha, Coconut + Bee Pollen Bars

Note: I find that silicon loaf pans are perfect for recipes like these, and used two mini ones here. A large silicon loaf pan would be a fine replacement. Alternatively, you could use a small glass dish (4x6") or double the recipe and use a brownie pan (8x8") lined with parchment paper. The bitterness of the bee pollen and extra matcha really help off-set the sweetness of the coconut and honey, so don't skimp on the extras on top!

3 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons raw honey

1/2 cup coconut butter

1 tsp matcha green tea powder

a tiny pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2-3 teaspoons bee pollen (depending on your taste)

extra finely shredded coconut, matcha powder, and bee pollen for topping

extra finely shredded coconut for "lining" the bottom of the dish

Place a few inches of water in a small pot and set over low heat. Place a glass or metal bowl over the pot and add the coconut oil, raw honey, and coconut butter. As the water heats, the coconut oil and butter will gently melt and the raw honey will soften - stir together to combine. In total, this will probably take about 5 minutes. Don't allow the coconut butter to become too melted - it should remain thick, but become soft enough to integrate with the other ingredients. Stir in the matcha powder and salt and combine evenly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the finely shredded coconut, coconut flakes and bee pollen. Add the matcha mixture and combine with a spatula or wooden spoon. 

Sprinkle a layer of finely shredded coconut over the bottom of your pan. Dump the coconut mixture and gently flatten out, careful not the disturb the shredded coconut underneath (this helps the bars come out without sticking to the pan!). Sprinkle extra bee pollen and a little more shredded coconut over the top of the bars and place either in the fridge to set (30 minutes) or in the freezer (for 10 minutes). Check that the bars feel solid before cutting. If using a silicon pan, carefully remove from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to slice. If using a glass or metal dish, either slice the bars in the dish or remove the bars with the parchment paper and slice the bars on a cutting board. Sprinkle a little extra matcha powder over the sliced bars and serve! 

Sliced bars should be stored in a sealed container. Mine kept well up to 3 days at room temperature on my kitchen counter. If your home is warmer than 70 degrees, keep the bars in the fridge. I like these best at room temperature to eat, and find that they keep well for travel or lunches.

I love hearing from you, leave a comment to say hello! You can also follow me on instagrampinterest, or bloglovin'  

Posted
AuthorChristine DesRoches
6 CommentsPost a comment