The great thing about my job as an illustrator is the fact that I can do all of my work from the coziness of my home. So when I decide to take “a break” from drawing, I usually go and cook something or bake something or search for new recipes. Sometimes I loose track of time and end up stuck in kitchen for hours, experimenting and making unimaginable mess. I seriously think that nothing inspires me and motivates me as much as a new recipe. Usually I find it hard to get out of bed early on a cold morning but if I decided the night before that I am making homemade bread in the morning, I will be up before the sun rises! (this actually happened only once)

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So how did this cooking obsession of mine begin?
Well, growing up with two great cooks, my mom and grandma, I’ve learned to appreciate the everyday abundance of wonderful smells, tastes and flavours early in childhood. Home-baked apple strudels, light summer cakes with seasonal fruits, all kinds of pies, cakes, pastry and piles and piles of Christmas cookies and sweets are something one cannot easily forget. And now when I am all grown up and living with my favourite person in the world, I have my own kitchen where I spend hours and hours gaining experience, using the knowledge passed on to me from my mother and combining it with the wonders of modern cooking.
But before I was even given a real chance to cook by myself my most beloved meals and desserts, some recent events in my life have forced me to change my diet quite a bit…
No sugar, they said. No white flour, they said. No milk and cheese, they said. No croissants, no pancakes, no cookies and cakes, they said. Then what in the world was I supposed to eat? The news literally broke my heart. The world suddenly became a terrible and boring cookieless and cakeless place. But thanks to internet, I soon realized that I didn’t have to give up on baking and cooking tasty meals and wonderful desserts. Not even close!
Though it took me some time (and lots of money!) to learn how to bake and cook with these new healthy ingredients, I am now happier and healthier than ever before! Experimenting with new flavors and ingredients is not always an absolute success (fortunately, I live with someone who can eat a lot and who enjoys all my culinary experiments) but it is great fun and very often ends up with some amazing new and healthy dish on the table. Of course there are times when I wish I could just devour 8 nutella pancakes or eat a whole tray of chocolate brownies with ice-cream, but I have to admit that I really enjoy my new healthier recipes.
All kinds of new ingredients and spices came into my kitchen. All kinds of vegetables and fruits, new flours, natural sweeteners, alternatives and new combinations and ideas.

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I learned to make a buckwheat flour galetta, coconut flour bread, rice flour pancakes. I realized that I didn’t need tons of white sugar or white flour to make wonderful cakes. I learned that you can get homemade coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut butter from a single coconut! I realized that I don’t need yeast for making bread, or baking powder to make cookies. I experienced the beauty of raw food. I found dozens of tasty recipes with zucchinis, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots… I fell in love with almonds and dates and chia seeds. I became addicted to homemade kefir with banana, flax seed and cinnamon. I learned what to do with psyllium (the hard way), aru powder and cacao butter and how to make almond milk or homemade nutella without a single spoon of processed sugar!
My family and friends were very skeptical about this new diet at first, but then I made lemon ricotta pancakes with ricotta filling and baked peaches, sprinkled with almonds and they just couldn’t get enough of them!
So today I will share this recipe with you guys and maybe you will like it too.
The recipe is a combination of various recipes I have encountered and tried so far.

Ricotta pancakes with ricotta filling and roasted pears

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Ingredients:
rice-flour-ricotta-pancakesRice flour pancakes:
1 cup ricotta cheese (250g)
3 1/2 Tbsp agave nectar (or granulated sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup kefir (or milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Ricotta filling:
1 cup ricotta or cream cheese
1 Tbsp agave nectar

Roasted pears:
2 Tbsp butter
4 pears (or peaches), cored and sliced
2 Tbsp honey

Recipe:
Ricotta pancakes:
1) In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, ricotta, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
3) Whisk lemon zest with lemon juice and add to milk mixture along with melted butter and blend until well combined.
4) Pour into flour mixture and whisk just to combine.
5) Pour batter onto buttered griddle and cook until bubbles begin to appear on surface and bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook opposite side until golden brown.

Ricotta filling:
1) Heat cheese and agave nectar on medium-high and keep mixing it until the mixture becomes liquid.
2) Remove from heat and let it cool.
3) Once it cools, the mixture would become more solid, which is what we want.

Roasted pears:
1) In a separate medium size pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter on high heat.
2) Add sliced pears to the butter, close the pan with the lid and let it cook on high for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, flip sliced pears on the other side, close the lid and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
3) Immediately add honey to the pears (adding honey will caramelize them).

Serve your pancakes warm and sprinkled with almonds.

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Winter Treats

I would also like to share with you recipes for these three healthy and creamy winter drinks. Recipes are taken from Mihaela Devescovi’s wonderful book “Raw Food”.

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“Chocolate Milk”

1 cup almond milk
4 dates (don’t forget to remove pits from dates)
3 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 glass of water

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until very smooth and creamy. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, cacao nibs, cinnamon, cardamom or chopped almonds.

“Chocolate Smoothie”

1 1/2 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
2 1/2 Tbsp agave nectar or dates (don’t forget to remove pits from dates)
1 cup cashews or Brazilian nuts

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until very smooth and creamy. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, cacao nibs, cinnamon, cardamom or chopped almonds.

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“Carob Cappuccino”

7 dates (don’t forget to remove pits from dates)
1 Tbsp carob powder
1 glass of warm water
3 Tbsp cashews

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until very smooth and creamy. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, cacao nibs, cinnamon, cardamom or chopped almonds.

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And finally, here is a recipe for a homemade nutella. This recipe was also inspired by Mihaela’s book “Raw Food” but I used some tips and ideas found on internet, like roasting hazelnuts before making nutella.

Homemade Nutella

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2 cups soaked and dehydrated raw hazelnuts (you can roast them before if you like)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 cup almond milk or coconut milk or water
1/4 cup raw cacao
1/2 cup dates or coconut sugar

1) Put 2 cups of soaked and dehydrated nuts into the food processor. Grind to a fine powder (5-6 min).
2) /this step is not necessary/
Add some oil. Continue processing until it becomes smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl every minute or two. It may take up to 20 minutes until it is totally creamy. Be patient!
3) Once the hazelnut butter is ready, add the remaining ingredients slowly and keep processing and scraping down the bowl for another 5-10 minutes, or until silky and smooth.
4) Your healthy nutella is ready! Put it in a jar and store in the fridge.

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It’s been 6 months since I’ve changed my food habits. I feel great, I have plenty of energy and my health improved greatly! Unfortunately, it seems that eating healthy today requires much more time and money than eating regular stuff. But I truly believe it is worth it. Focusing on seasonal foods and with a little bit of careful planning, you can even find balance in financial costs.
Hope you like this post and if you are inspired to try something new, I will gladly share with you some other recipes that I have found or came up with.

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