Brazilian Love Green Smoothie (Vegan)

Brazilian Love Green Smoothie by My Little Jar of Spices
Ugh, green smoothies. Like what’s new, right? So how about some Brazilian love, exotic fruit and samba grooves to welcome Spring and reboot your green smoothie routine? I just spent a week in Brazil visiting friends and working long-distance, and I had forgotten just how amazing the options of available fresh fruit juices and smoothies was there! Papaya and mango are like currency in this country, and forget about the insane amount of fruit you can squeeze into your happy hour Caipirinhas, from acerola to pineapple, passion fruit and cashew fruit. And man did I drink the life out of all the coconuts while I was there. I used to buy a fresh green coconut every day from a street vendor by my house who would crack it open with an actual machete and sip on it on my way to classes. Ah heaven. And just in general, I realized going back how much I had underestimated Brazil’s level of development when I lived there. I suppose I needed to go live in Peru to actually appreciate the level of comfort and the modernity of services available in Sao Paulo. I almost cried when I jumped into a taxi with a GPS or opened a restaurant menu with an actual salad section. It was really nice to go back for a few days. Now I’m in Lima for a week before going back to Cajamarca, which is cool because I never really got to discover Lima. I have been to Lima a few times but I always passed by for a couple of days or less when travelling to somewhere else and never had time to discover it though I know it’s an amazing city.

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‘Tigrillo’ Ecuadorian Plantain, Cheese & Egg Scramble

'Tigrillo' Ecuadorian Plantain, Cheese and Egg Scramble by My Little Jar of Spices

It’s Sunday night and I’m currently listening to a good old American country song by the very, very, very smoochable Luke Bryan that goes “It’s homemade peach ice cream on sunburnt lips, that’s what country is”. I just thought I’d share the wise word with all of you, I mean I’m sure you too were wondering what country music was. Ladies, seriously, click on the link above. Anywho, on to this recipe. Continue reading

Coffee-Rubbed Ribeye Roast


Coffee Rubbed Ribeye Roast by My Little Jar of Spices

This is a little awkward, the last recipe I posted was in February. I almost feel like a stranger on my own blog. Long time no see blog! The reason why I haven’t been posting lately is that I have been pretty overwhelmed with work. In fact I was traveling last week for a study on small-farmer Peruvian coffee cooperatives that produce and export organic and fair trade coffee to the US. Hey, maybe you’re sipping on a cup of freshly brewed Green Mountain coffee right now? Well I met some of your suppliers! Our objective was to study how connecting coffee smallholder farmers to international markets produced positive socio-economic impacts in the region and for the farmers of the cooperatives. Amazing experience in an absolutely gorgeous and breath-taking region (San Ignacio, Peru) named one of the best in the world for coffee; and for the first time in my life, I participated in a coffee-tasting. It’s kind of like wine-tasting, and believe me it’s serious business. They do it in a lab and test everything from aroma to flavor, uniformity, body. And you got to love the vocabulary of any specialty product-tasting profession when they discuss the results of each sample. Me: “slurp. Hmmm, wow, that’s some tasty coffee, batch number two seems stronger than batch number one, wouldn’t you say?”. The lab tester: “you’re right, batch number two was a little syrupy, with notes of aromatic cinnamon in cup, along with hints of mandarine acidity and quite lively on the palate”. Me: “…………yes, totally what I meant”.

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Thyme, Honey & Dijon Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Thyme, Honey & Dijon Glazed Chicken Drumsticks by My Little Jar of Spices

I had an interesting experience today. My yoga instructor and his wife invited me to spend the day with them and their kids. We went on a lovely hike in Otuzco, about twenty minutes outside of Cajamarca where there are beautiful ruins, a river and a couple of farms, and then back to their house for lunch. They are vegetarians. While I have nothing but profound respect for anyone’s dietary preferences and choices, vegetarianism is always problematic given my own diet choices. Case in point: on the menu – whole wheat soup, peppers stuffed with rice, sweet potatoes, corn cobs and fruit, homemade mango ice-cream and quinoa-oatmeal cookies for dessert. A seemingly perfectly healthy lunch, but the total absence of fat or protein and the abundance of carb-dense vegetables and grains took me aback. In fact, 100% of the food on the plate was carbs, and what’s more, I completely forgot that this is what almost all of my meals used to look like before. Aside from the wheat soup and cookies, I ate everything else. I steer clear of gluten as a non-negotiable principle because even very small amounts can prevent your gut lining from repairing and keep your symptoms going. But on the other hand, I’m at a place where I feel that my digestive health is good and I have a pretty squeaky clean paleo lifestyle the rest of the time that I don’t need to freak out about the occasional small portion of grains, sugar or dairy as much as I used to. There are moments when it just seems senseless to reject delicious food that people have prepared for you because you follow a grain-free diet, and one carb-dense vegetarian meal with whole grains will not kill you or “screw up” everything you’ve been following. I can completely feel the effects of eating a bit of rice and milk ice-cream on my body though, which confirms that this can only be on an exceptional basis. My stomach has not been in a happy place all afternoon, rumbling, struggling and grumbling and trying to recognize how the hell all this rice got here. It’s ok, it was a delightful day, and I realized I’m almost never around children so this was a pleasant change of routine. Continue reading

Decadent, Fudgy Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread with Pecan Streusel

Decadent, Fudgy, Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread with Pecan Streusel by My Little Jar of Spices

This bread is AM-AZING, I just couldn’t wait to tell you. Oh-so perfectly moist banana bread with a decadent dark chocolate batter delicately swirled in and a caramelized pecan streusel sprinkled on the top. Oh my, look at that I’ve salivated all over my keyboard. The first time I had banana bread when I was a child was when we lived in New York, and my mom bought this divine banana walnut loaf, and I remember thinking that I had never eaten banana that way before but somebody was definitely on to something. Shortly after that, we moved back to France and that put an end to that. It also put an end to Oreos and pancakes for a while, as those favorite treats of us kids remained on the other side of the Atlantic and only arrived later to Europe. I feel like an old lady when I talk like this, seriously. Anyways, when they started opening Starbucks coffee shops in Paris, I was thrilled to have banana bread back in my life and even set out to learn to make my own recipe. And then shortly after, I stopped eating gluten. And THAT put an end to that, and a lot of other things.

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Baked Sweet Potato Croquettes

Baked Sweet Potato Croquettes by My Little Jar of Spices

I almost never get sick, but this weekend I got hit by the worst case of fatiflusea. What you’ve never heard of it? It’s a weird combination of drop-dead fatigue, intense stomach flu and constant nausea. Fatiflusea. It came down on me yesterday morning and  has just put my body on full stop. I could not get up or keep any food down for the life of me. My parents used to say that when I’d get sick as a baby, they would really start to worry when I wouldn’t want to eat anything. Ha! So true, even today as an adult, I really know something’s wrong if I don’t want to eat anything. And I have literally not been able to get off the couch for the entire weekend. The 20-yard walk from the couch to the bathroom takes me over a minute as I drag my Alpaca socks feeling all sorry for myself and taking a break to catch my breath halfway there. Even picking up my computer from the table leaves me out of breath and in need of a nap. This has never happened to me, but it could be my body’s way of saying it just needs a break? The only thing I’ve been able to eat in the past hours has been some banana and these succulent local Incan Berries that are grown in the Andes. They’re shock full of Vitamin C so maybe that’s been doing the trick. Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mug Muffin 2.0 (Paleo, DF, Vegan option)

Cookie Dough Mug Muffin 2.0 by My Little Jar of Spices

It’s no surprise that the most popular recipe on this blog is the paleo (and vegan) 5-minute Cookie Dough Mug Muffin that I published back in June of last year. It has gotten over 3,000 pins and is constantly at the top of the list of most viewed recipes. There’s nothing I can post that will take it down from first place. For a while, my Creamy Chicken, Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake was getting dangerously close to bumping it down and becoming number one, but the Cookie Dough Mug Muffin stuck on for dear life, showed everyone who was boss and let the Creamy Chicken Bake take second place. I’m always wondering if the next recipe I’ll publish will beat it, but nope. And to be fair to the mug muffin, it is a pretty awesome recipe, not to mention it’s adorable. It comes together in 5 minutes – preparation and cooking times combined! -, is the perfect comfort food without any added-sugar, and it tastes like cookie dough for crying out loud. Plus, it’s a single-serving recipe so it’s great for a little sweet craving without actually tempting you to go overboard like if you bake an entire batch of cookies. I should have known it was going to have that kind of mind-blowing success. The funny thing is that when I made it, I had absolutely no intention to post it on the blog. I just wanted to make a mug muffin for Freddy one rainy Sunday afternoon, adapted a  chocolate chip cookie recipe with what I could find lying around my cupboards and popped it in the microwave in a mug. It looked so cute, so I took a pretty lame picture, and it tasted so good that I ended up posting it as a recipe. Continue reading

Recipe Round-Up: 25 Most Beautiful Salad Recipes

25 Beautiful Salad Recipes Round-Up

My roommate from Sao Paulo, Lea, and I shared a similar love for bright, beautiful, colorful salads. Whenever we’d have potluck dinners or invite people over at our house, you could be sure we were on the salad making crew. We’d let our imaginations run wild and put anything that sparked our tastebuds and eyesight to make them look visually stunning and oh-so-tasty: arugula, cherry tomatoes, mango chunks, toasted almonds, figs, parmesan shavings, thinly sliced radishes and beets, bell pepper strips, sundried tomatoes, sautéed courgettes… And then as we would serve our plates, Lea would go “oh wow, the colors in this salad are amaaaazing” or plainly say “Just beautiful” with a sigh. I miss my salad buddy. Continue reading

Roasted Broccoli Tuna Salad

Roasted Broccoli Tuna Salad by My Little Jar of Spices

I think we food bloggers could all stand to be a little more transparent on the truth of what our lives are actually like (I mean, we don’t actually eat sweet potato fries out of newspaper cones or take a bite from a cookie and put it back on the cookie sheet like the photos say). I don’t actually eat small portions of salad on fancy rectangular restaurant plates like you see here. That’s just for good blogging decorum. I wouldn’t want you to see the actual tupperware I ate this HUGE salad out of. This little confession is coming from an e-mail exchange I had with another food blogger this week (Little Red Bird Kitchen, check her out!) about food photography. I told her I take 80% of my pictures on the floor because it makes it easier to get even lighting, block out background “noise” and get better shots from high up, and even though no one openly says it, I can’t be the only one to do that. Let’s be honest, you can see the wooden floorboards in more than half of the pictures on foodgawker :) And since I’m in a truth-telling moment, I might as well say it flat out, my meals are not nearly as exciting as this blog might have you thinking. I’m a very routine person when it comes to food. On most days, I will eat exactly the same thing for lunch (omelet, avocado and salad), cook dinner twice or three times a week and eat leftovers on the other days. Most of the recipes you see here are recipes that I’ve tested and made for friends or family, for specific occasions, when I’m on vacation and don’t have much going on, almost always when there are other people around to try the food. You can be sure, if you see a muffin recipe on the blog, it’s because other people ate it and approved it. Recipe testing method. Continue reading

Basa Fish and Sweet Potato Curry

Fragrant Fish and Sweet Potato Curry by My Little Jar of Spices
I feel like I haven’t blogged in months but it’s only been two weeks or so. But I guess moving to a new country will make you feel like you’ve been that much farther away from the rest of the world. I’ve been in Peru for about a week and it has been a total change of scenery from the bustling, busy, ever-moving, traffic-jammed Sao Paulo. I’m in Cajamarca, in the Northern Andes of Peru, a town of about 200,000 also known for its local specialty of fried guinea pig, its booming Golden Berry farming (Golden Berry, also known as “Incan Berry” or “Pichuberry” was declared one of the superfoods of 2014 in the Huffington Post and withholds a wide range of nutritional benefits), its local dairy and its thermal springs installed in a gem of well-preserved Incan ruins. Not too bad, right? And people, it couldn’t get any more authentic, or “paleo” might I say, than this. Not that I’m living in prehistoric times, Cajamarca is a rather modern, albeit small and traditional, town. But it’s ironic how after talking about the benefits of a paleo diet and lifestyle for months, life put me in a place where I could actually walk the talk. Continue reading