Things That Makes Me Feel Good (Like This Dairy-Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe)

You know what makes me feel good? Blasting Bomba Estereo and dancing in the sun rays. Sweating until my lungs fling wide open. Loving my body and loving my pooch. Sitting on my couch and just staring at my awesome home. Eating and totally savoring good food.

dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loaf

There is something special about eating good food. There’s this amazing Chicago style pizza place near my apartment. Every time I eat there I feel so good. When I go, I’ll still order the large to make sure there’s extra for 2 breakfasts’ worth. Because when I eat herbed tomato and feta cheese baked inside a cornmeal pie in the AM after a workout, I feel ultranourished. My taste buds light up, my stomach is sooo satisfied, and my brain is honored with how well I’ve decided to treat my body that morning.

My friends and family laugh when I explain how good Chicago style pizza makes me feel in the morning: how can a heavy piece of pizza for breakfast make you feel good?? IMO diet culture has succeeded in replacing critical thinking with knee-jerk judgements. Like when my body craves a bag of potato chips and the first accompanying thought is, you’re a pig worthless. Or when I eat a burrito and a cookie for lunch and a mocha a few hours later and then tell a friend “I was so bad today.”  So when I tell a friend how much I love pizza for breakfast, diet culture invades his brain, then he looks at me like I’m crazy, and then he waits for the punchline that never comes.

chocolate icing on dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loa

Luckily I realized a long time ago that I write the rules of my life and no one really cares what I do or don’t put into my body. All this to say, find out what food makes you feel good and eat it. Be patient throughout this discovery process. And try this chocolate zucchini bread recipe below to start.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1+1/2 cup shredded zucchini*
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly smear an 11″x8″ pan with canola oil (oh, you have cooking spray? oooo girl you fancy.).

Mix the 2 flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loaf

Whisk (or beat aggressively with a fork) together the applesauce, sugar, yogurt, oil, and extract in a medium bowl. Add zucchini and 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Once well blended, slowly add batter to dry mixture, being careful not to overwork. Spread into lightly greased pan and pop into oven for 30 minutes. When finished, a knife show come out clean (minus for any melted chocolate! yum!). Remove from oven and, if desired, top with the remaining cup of chocolate chips. Let them sit and melt for a minute, then smooth them over the top of the loaf with a spatula using light pressure so as not to deflate the warm bread.

 

Cool completely before cutting then enjoy! I recommend saving it on the countertop so the insides don’t get mushy in the fridge. Pre-portion it out to throw in your work or gym bag for a yummy, well-deserved snack that’s as good as breakfast pizza!

*If you have a poorly stocked kitchen like me, use a potato peeler to skin the zucchini then peel it into long strips. After, chop the strips into smaller pieces and wala! shredded zucchini!

 

Eat Your Oats

overnight oats with berries

This morning at 5:30am I found myself awake and deeply regretting the pizza I ate last night. Usually, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal but this morning I had to get to spin and could not move due to the stone in my stomach. You think I’d learn by this point that dairy is not my friend but I still go for it, when given the option. Throughout spin, I was very aware of my unhappy stomach which made it hard to push through to tempo. But I love these classes so much so even in my stomach’s angst, I had a good time.

By breakfast, I could still feel that damn pizza and was not feeling breakfast. Regardless, I wolfed down my magical overnight oats. I’m very aware of how good and satisfied a bowl of oats leaves me feeling all day. Gotta stick to the plan, even if I veer off path for a dinner. or two.

These overnight oats are so easy and delicious. I love making things that just require me to take them out of the fridge and plate when hungry. I eat a bowl, refill the same container with enough ingredients for the next day’s breakfast, and repeat throughout the week. I feel so satisfied and energetic on the days I start my mornings with overnight oats: I’m less prone to snack and have energy for my lunchtime swim.

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Very Berry Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup frozen berries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk (you could make it unsweetened or you could #treatyourself and get the real delicious deal)

Contents will be liquidy. Stir until it’s all mixed together. Put in the fridge overnight (or for at least 2 hours). The next morning, I like to take mine out about an hour before I eat it. Usually, this will be before my morning workout class. By the time I come home, it’s warmed up a little so it’s still cold — just closer to room temperature.

A Friendsgiving For the Rest of Us

Preface: You’d be surprised how a person can ruin Thanksgiving. Or maybe I’m just miraculously gifted in doing so. Take the year I spent T-giving with a frozen turkey dinner and college essays. I had mistakenly told my mom I would be spending the holiday with my dad, and told my dad I was spending the day with my mom. I’m usually not too good at making plans, but even this err exceeded my normal incapacities. Since I ended up spending the day in an empty house, I decided to be productive por lo menos and took a crack at finishing my college essays {…at least that result worked out in my favor}.

But it’s not just me –apparently screwing up Turkey Day runs in the gene pool. One year, my mom made oatmeal cookies….with cooked oats. Apparently…{SUPPOSEDLY}….she didn’t realize you could add raw oats to cookie dough. And thus cooked them into a goopy porridge before adding them in to the batter. Thus producing even goopier, ungodly cookies. 

But enough with living in the past, let’s get to the delicious present……

A plus to me being thousands of miles away from home is that I am no longer able to screw up the good ol’ traditional Thanksgiving festivities. And since Thanksgiving doesn’t exist here, I decided I could re-create my own, and no matter HOW it turned out I’d be safe allright because this would be my personal re-invention of the holiday.

And thus, FRIENDSGIVING in Buenos Aires was born!!!! Didn’t receive your invite? Well thank goodness I’ve posted a copy below then! The more the merrier, so should your family happen to be prone to cranberry sauce-flinging fights or conversations loaded with jabs at your religion/political views/lack of a boyfriend {I, thank goodness, do not come from such a lineage}, book your ticket NOW so you’ll get here in time for supper.

FRIENDSGIVINGyo!

What’s on the menu, you ask? So far I’ve heard a turkey WILL be present {God bless Meredith}, along with a baked pasta dish from a South African, papas a la crema from our Argentinian, apple crisp from a lovely German, cheesy cauliflower from the Italian, etc. etc. etc. All except 3 are foreign to this “Thanksgiving” we speak of, so I’m excited to {kind of} show them what it’s all about.

For those of you still looking for quick Turkey day fixes, I provide you with my easy-peasy but delicioussss dishes. Tomorrow I’ll be dishing out a traditional green bean casserole, a calabasa rice pilaf, and my famous {erhm..Toll House’s famous…} chocolate chip cookies.

Interesting fact: calabasa here refers to squash –not pumpkin– and so I’ll be making this calabasa rice pilaf with butternut squash, and not the usual Jack. In fact, pumpkins are a pretty rare site here! I saw a Jack-O-Lantern on my way home today, and tried to buy it off the produce grocer whose son had decorated it. I figured I could try my hand at making pumpkin pie. Well, the grocer eventually agreed to sell it…..but it’d cost me. Already holding an armful of groceries and feeling the ever-present hole in my pocket widening, I continued on my sad, pathetic, pumpkin-less way….

I found a great recipe on Smitten Kitchen for a green bean casserole that I could make partially ahead of time. Upon informing my friends they’d be eating my kind-of traditional attempt at Thanksgiving, they all immediately inquired about “this green bean casserole” cosita Americans are always eating on Turkey Day. So obviously, I had to make it. I figured it’d be easy…I had seen tons of Campbell’s soup ads before showing all you do is add cream of mushroom soup to canned grean beans, stir in some funion-looking thingies and BAM, there you have it! LADIES & GENTLEMEN,  I PRESENT THANKSGIVING!! Well…no such luck. None of these prepared things exist here. My friend suggested I purchase the fried onions they litter on top of panchos but I couldn’t find them in stores…and unless I wanted to find a hot dog stand and buy them off of the vendor {which I was not in the mood to do}, I’d have to make my own. Although I’ve only first started the process, and will assemble the finished product mañana, it’s lookin’ pretty darn rico.

DSC03003DSC03009{the ingredients}

DSC03017{Cooking the mushrooms & garlic –emitting one of the best smells in this world}

DSC03018{the finished mushroom cream sauce and cooked green beans}

DSC03021{add the two together and YUM!}

Tomorrow I’ll be making the fried onions and the calabasa rice pilaf.

Now onto the cookies. Remember the infamous chocolate chip cookies I made a few weeks ago? Ya, yeaaaa, that’s right…that time when Toll House lied to me…remember? Well I sure do. And with some minor adjustments to the recipe {refridgerating the dough before baking, less butter, and actually using baking powder —polvo para hornear– this time} the cookies have turned out magnificent! Now the trick will be to hide them from the roommates before the supper.

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That’s all the mouth-watering madness I have going on in la cocina de Raqui at the moment, but more to come tomorrow when there will be FOUR kooks in the kitchen to prep for the meal. The actual dinner will be taking place at a friend’s departamento in Palermo {she has a pool….so she wins}, and all in attendance will be bringing their own interpretation of a Thanksgiving dish to share.

I sincerely wish you the best this Thanksgiving –whether you nationally celebrate the holiday or not. I hope you each take a bit of time to reflect on all you have to be thankful for, and pray/chant/raindance {whatever it is you do} for those less fortunate.

So, happy November 28th everyone! I hope it’s a good one

El Galpón Organic Market

Food shopping is always fun; but when go with one friend planning a pop-up dinner party, and another on the hunt for organic produce rivaling that of California…it’s even BETTER!

Saturday, these three hungry stooges headed to El Galpón, an organic market hidden in a back parking lot in Chacarita. As we walked further back towards the yellow cabin, we spotted other crunchy hippies leaving with armfuls of fresh produce and cured meats –a sign off delicious products ahead, and that we better hurry if we want to beat the next round of customers.

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Colorful walls, ecletically-dressed shoppers, and a mixture of smells reminding me of Cusco’s Mercado San Pedro greeted me upon entering this little hippie paradise. Each of the market’s suppliers carry organic products; from cerveza to aceitunas and everything in between. I left with recycled shopping bags full of lettuce, carrots (my mistake for at first requesting a kilo’s worth…not realizing that would leave me with enough to feed all of Arg), dried pineapple, fresh yogurt and other fresh, delicious goods.

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A dining area occupies the front quarter of the warehouse, where market-goers can sit, munch on their purchases, or enjoy a drink from the market’s side café. And the waitstaff is so nice and attentive! All I wanted was a water, and a nice older gentleman gave me a glass and pointed me in the direction of a water cooler. Fresh, filtered water fo’ FREE!

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After my fellow foodies finished their purchases, we snacked on my entire glass jar of dried pineapple {a purchase I acquired for a mere 24 pesos} and headed home. I could’ve easily spent all afternoon there. Today I’ll be returning …if only for more dried pineapples!

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El Galpón Mercado Orgánico, Federico Lacroze 4171 {Wednesdays & Saturdays}

Hungry besos my gente!

Toll House Lied To You {But don’t worry…I won’t}

Aaahhhh Monday. The day where you want to chuck your computer out the window. Thank god my home “office” doesn’t have any windows, or Darla would be long gone by now. One hour after finishing work and my eyes were stinging. My bum hurt. And I smelled like salty, dead pig due to the fact that I’d consumed an entire pack of salami while sitting at my desk. I was grouchy and sore, and decided the best thing to do would be to go for a run and clear my head. {{I know what some of you are probably thinking: dat pyscho skinny puta! who does that when they’re tired. But, honestly, this is a new routine for me that actually helps shake all those work jitters away…so please don’t stereotype me as “healthy”…like, you DON’T even KNOW me!}}. By the end of it, I had turned from uptight worker-Rachael to sweaty, red Rachael. My skin felt like a rain-soaked windshield and I could barely pant out enough syllables to compose a sentence in Yiddish….let alone Spanish. On my way home, I saw my roommate Katarina at the neighboring grocer,  and decided it would be a great idea to buy ingredients to bake some chocolate chip cookies. I figured I could make a cute meal with even cuter cookies, and blog about how domestic I am.

Well, wow. I haven’t baked {or really cooked, to be honest} in quite a long time. And here I was, in a foreign grocery store, looking for …..baking soda. After realizing gaseosa de horneando wasn’t translating into anything besides rubbish, I decided to stop embarrassing myself and just buy the other necessities: sugar, flour, eggs, butter, and of course, CHOCOLATE! Katarina and I then returned home, and I began my baking extravaganza.

I was searching for a chocolate chip cookie recipe, and found one from Toll House promising these amazing, chocolate speckled pastries. SOLD! I couldn’t wait to show off to my roommates what I was about to reveal.  I was so hungry from my run however, that I began cooking at the same time to put dinner on the table {or at least just in my single stomach}. Simultaneously I had cookies burning in the oven, stovetop chicken going up in flames, and pasta boiling over in the pot.

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….Well, it wasn’t that bad, but it was pretty hectic. First off, I am not dainty. Never have been, and probably won’t ever be. So by the time the cookie dough was ready, I had flour all down my workout top and leggings, and dough in my hair. My roommate spent ten minutes lighting our gas oven, whose handle you have to hold down for a good 3-minutes straight if you want it to even think about turning on. With the chicken cooking on the stove and the cookies in the oven, it suddenly smelled like something was burning. I took off all my lids and peeked at all the baking sheets, but everything looked fine. And then, I realized the cookies were turning into more of a pancake-looking blob rather than the “Toll House Classics” guaranteed by the recipe’s description. I tried making my dollops of dough larger before plopping them on the cookie sheets, but that only tended to make bigger blobs rather than thick cookies. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t add baking soda.

The resulting product: a delicious spinach pasta with garlic-herb chicken and fresh parmesan {gracias, Gen!} and….chocolate-chip blobs. I named them my “Magic Skinny Cookies” or “Galletitas Flacas.” Regardless of their appearance, they’re delicious! And there’s  tons, so feel free to come over and enjoy.

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After all this, you know what? I felt SO much better. Taking the time to occupy my hands on something other than a keyboard was a nice change. And even though my flat cookies would be an embarrassment to any talented Palermo pastry chefs; although some tasted like a block of butter sprinkled with chocolate chips; and regardless of the fact half fell to crumbs before making it onto the final platter…I felt better. Just another good little reminder that it’s about the journey and not the destination.

Below I’ve included  THE REAL RECIPE for these cookies.

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As far as the recipe to find your way back to sanity? 1 part fresh air + a little bit of physical work + a whole lot of deep breathing, and you’ve got yourself a recipe to success. And probably 7 parts of stay-away-from-Rachael’s-cooking, because that could cause serious damage to a level head.

Besos my gente!

Feeling Chez Moi @ Casa Mua

I’ve been desperately seeking salad the past few weeks. In California, we are absolutely spoiled with easy access to fresh produce, spicy sauces, and any salad accessory you’d ever desire. At the same time, restaurants serving creative and delicious salads are in abundance.

Here….not so much. Although I recently found a great organic market and Palermo’s streets abound with produce stands, finding all the other fixins’ to make a fancy shmancy salad in only a matter of minutes is not so easy.

I thought I’d try to get my fix at restaurants or cafés but, once again, I’d have no luck. The plates that passably rank as “salads” in the cartas are usually nothing more than bland lettuce topped with shredded carrots and cheese, accompanied with olive oil and balsamic {to add at least a little flavor to the vegetables}. But when my roommate suggested we try a new café a few streets away….I once again found myself in that comfortably familiar  vegetable food coma.

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Chez Mau is a bruncher’s heaven: take a seat at one of the petit white tables, with pillow-plushed seats, lining the sidewalk and order your choice of the Nueva York breakfast bagel option, granola trifle, or savory tartine, all while the smell of baking pastries wafts in the air.

We ordered dessert first {after all, you never know when that comet will hit}. Within ten minutes, Gen and I had devoured the chocotorta they served. This was followed by an order of two salads –mine, a chicken-corn-carrot-parmesan mixture atop a bed of AMAZING arugula, and served  with a criss-crossed drizzle of fresh pesto.  The roomie ordered the tuna salad, which boasted hard-boiled eggs, carrots, tomatoes, all atop a crisp bed of lettuce. For customers like my animal-friendly amiga, they have lots of selections including, a lentil-loaded hamburger, veggie pasta options, & meat-free salads….or just do what I know you really want to, and order one of their many pastries {guaranteed meat free and delicious!}. I can’t tell you how the coffee was, as they forgot to bring me my café con leche {but still charged me…their only downfall}, but I can highly recommend the ginger-mint lemonade and chocotorta, to finish it all off {or star.

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Although we chose to sit outside on the sidewalk, the inside is overbearingly adorable. High ceilings shelter this urban-chic cottage.  Colorful ribbons hang from every nook and strewn-about children’s toys add a playful pizzazz to the quaintly endearing white-washed counter and pale blue decorations.

For Buenos Aires, it’s “pricey” {70-something pesos for a salad; 40-something for a pastry}. But if you crave a GOOD, FRESH, NUTRITIOUS meal that will throw you back to brunch on a foggy SF morning, THIS IS YOUR SPOT.

Find Casa Mua at Soler 4202, Palermo