A warm summer evening. It’s time for a home-made dinner, but who wants to stay inside on an evening like that. Let’s go out. A dinner on the balcony. A few candles lit to give the evening an even more relaxed ambience. Tranquil music in the background mixes with some pleasant sounds from the garden and nearby park. Bliss. Let’s eat. Let’s talk. Let’s enjoy the evening.
What could be better for a light summery dinner than some grilled vegetables. And the winning duo of early summer days are the artichokes and asparagus. Delicate flavours of vegetables are smartly accentuated by the lemon and garlic dressing. Hmm, a charcoal grill would be ideal for this, but even our home grill does the job well.
And here we are, sat on the balcony, mouthful by mouthful enjoying the artichokes and asparagus. Best enjoyed eaten with fingers if you ask me. Perhaps it gets more messy, but it’s so much more satisfying than proper fork and knife etiquette. It’s all about taking it easy tonight. Enjoying the moment. Right here. Right now.


Serves 2
2 fresh artichokes
Bunch of fresh asparagus
1 lemon, sliced
Juice of half a lemon
75ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Wash artichokes and asparagus under running cold water.

Prepare a large bowl full of water with a splash of lemon juice and keep the artichokes in the water whilst you’re not working on them. This will prevent from browning.

To prepare the artichokes, trim about 2 cm from top of each artichoke. Peel the stems with a vegetable peeler. Remove and discard any loose bottom leaves. Using scissors, trim 1cm off top of outer leaves. Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise. Remove choke using a small spoon or melon baller.

Trim the asparagus stalks, removing the hard ends if needed and cut them in half.

Bring a large pan of salted water with a splash of lemon to a boil. Place the artichokes onto the boiling water and simmer for 12 minutes. Add the asparagus and simmer for another 3 minutes. Rinse the vegetables under cold running water and drain well.

In a small bowl mix the olive oil with lemon juice of half a lemon and crushed garlic cloves and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush the artichokes and asparagus with some of the dressing.

Grill the vegetables and half of the sliced lemons on a preheated grill over medium-high heat on both sides, adding some more dressing as you turn the vegetables on the other side. This should take about 10-12 minutes.

Serve warm, drizzled with the remaining dressing together with lemon slices.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Grilled artichokes and asparagus in lemon dressing (anti-candida)
Grilled artichokes and asparagus in lemon dressing (anti-candida)

One recipe I didn’t manage to make during a recent visit to my parents, simply as there wasn’t enough days to fit it in, were millet stuffed courgettes. I did try it in advance with quinoa, which you could also use in this recipe, and as millet is much more popular in Poland, I thought I’d make it using this yellow gluten-free grain. It works deliciously with both grains. I’m sure mum will be trying it out soon.

This recipe is the essence of summer, combining ripe courgettes (try using smaller ones though) filled with a very summery combination of grains, flavoursome sundried tomatoes, nuts and seeds. The fusion of colours is wonderful too, with the yellow stuffing thanks to the millet, with some red, brown and green accents, in green courgette shells, all in red tomato sauce.

It looks very impressive whilst actually isn’t difficult to make at all. For me, this is a perfect Sunday lunch, a great dinner that would surprise your guests, or an exciting dinner for two.


Serves 2
2 small courgettes
120g millet
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bunch of spring onion, chopped
8 dried tomatoes, chopped
15ml / 1 tbsp olive oil
30g walnut, roughly chopped
25g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the tomato sauce
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
15ml / 1 tbsp olive oil
Fresh thyme and basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6.

Place the whole courgettes on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes until they soften. Take out from the oven and leave to cool.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil on a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes until golden. Add the chopped spring onion and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the millet, stir well and cover with 350ml of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until the millet absorbs the water and is soft.

Meanwhile, cut the baked courgettes in half, lengthwise and using a spoon scoop out the flesh leaving about 0.5cm thick skin. Roughly cut the flesh and add to the millet, together with chopped sundried tomatoes.

When the millet is ready, take it away from the heat, add the chopped walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the millet mixture onto the courgette skins. Place the stuffed courgettes in a preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes.

To prepare the tomato sauce, in a small sauce pan heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes until golden. Add the chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs and cook over low heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Take out baked courgettes from the oven and serve warm with the tomato sauce.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Millet stuffed courgettes
Millet stuffed courgettes

I really fancied something delicious this weekend. Something absolutely indulgent, delectably sweet and creamy. And this shouldn’t mean any less healthy. As I couldn’t make up my mind, I decided to do a bit of food gazing and came across this recipe. Oh yes, I definitely had to try it out. Only three ingredients, yogurt and fruits, no sugar added, no cooking and baking required, just some time to drain excess water. So as long as you can plan it a day ahead, this is the ultimate healthy dessert to indulge in. Try it yourself.


500g Greek yogurt
125g strawberries, hulled and halved
7 oranges (or 500ml freshly squeezed orange juice)


Line a medium sieve (about 12cm wide) gauze (you can also use paper towels for this) and place it over a bowl.

Stir the Greek yogurt in the container to make it smooth and pour onto the sieve. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 24 hours, whilst any excess water drips into the bowl and the yogurt thickens.

An hour before serving, prepare the orange sauce. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out orange juice. In a small sauce pan, bring the orange juice to a boil. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until reduced to a third of its original volume and thickened. Chill in the fridge.

When ready to serve, remove the yogurt from the fridge and gently turn the yogurt and the sieve onto a serving plate. Remove the gauze or paper towels. Gently mold the yogurt with a spoon to achieve the desired form.

Garnish with strawberries and pour over some orange juice.
Serve with some more orange juice on the side.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Yogurt cheesecake with strawberries
Yogurt cheesecake with strawberries

I found inspiration for this recipe in a beautifully illustrated book by Celia Brooks ‘Low Carb & Gluten-Free Vegetarian’. I like referring to it for healthy no-fuss recipes, whether it’s for a special occasion or just a simple ‘something’ without any particular reason, just because I fancy it.
This recipe uses canned tomatoes and canned or jarred artichokes, so it’s an all-year-round formula.


Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 jar of artichoke hearts, drained
2 eggs
Fresh parsley leaves
0.5 tsp chilli flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large frying pan heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove the lid, add the chilli flakes and fresh parsley leaves and simmer for another 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make two hollows in the vegetable mixture and break the eggs into them. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt. Cover the pan and let the eggs poach.

Serve warm with cooked millet and salad greens.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Tomato and artichoke stew
Tomato and artichoke stew

One more recipe this month with quail’s eggs. Here the soft-boiled eggs spill gently over layers of vegetables that separates them from the blini. Perfect finger food. Good for any time of the day. Not much to add. Just have a look at the photos and get cooking!


Makes 12

For the blini:
1 egg
80g buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
150ml almond milk
2 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the topping:
6 quail’s eggs
2 avocados
2 red peppers, deseeded and quartered
6 black olives, pitted and sliced
150ml Greek yogurt
4 radishes, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 180 C / gas mark 4.

Place the quartered peppers on a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, turning on the other side half way through, until they’re soft and start to brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To make the blini, in a bowl whisk the egg until frothy. Mix in the flour, baking powder and almond milk, and beat quickly to make a smooth batter. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and gently pour tablespoons of the batter to create round blinis. Fry for a couple of minutes until the underside is golden then turn over and cook the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter and set the blini aside.

Boil the quail’s eggs for just over 2.5 minutes, then rinse under plenty of cold water and then peel and halve.

Peel the whole avocado and cut round slices from both sides of the stone.

To prepare the yogurt topping, mix the Greek yogurt with grated radishes and crushed garlic clove and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the blini on a serving plate. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt dressing, add a slice of avocado, then roasted pepper and top with quail’s eggs halves. Add a couple of slices of olives on top.

Serve cold.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Quail’s eggs blini
Quail’s eggs blini

This is my absolutely favourite Great British cake: the great carrot cake.

I literally fell in love it it from the first bite. What’s not to like? Moist, indulgent and so flavoursome. Ten years ago, when I first tried it, it was a pretty new concept to me to use carrots in a cake. Cake with vegetables? Interesting. And seems pretty healthy too, as the grated carrots and apple add plenty of volume, meaning you don’t need to add so much flour to it. And the addition of spices make it seem sweeter, so you can also reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in the recipe (I use xylitol in this sugar-free recipe). And let’s not forget the healthy, crunch walnuts. Abundant frosting makes it look even more decadent, but as it’s based on Greek yogurt, it makes it a pretty clean and innocent dessert.

Perfect for the spring celebrations of Easter.

This sugar-free version can be enjoyed in the latter stages of anti-candida diet.


150g wholemeal flour, sieved
75g polenta, sieved
150g xylitol
75g walnuts, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
0.5 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
210ml rapeseed oil
250g carrots, grated
2 apples, grated

For the Greek yogurt buttercream
125g butter, softened
75g xylitol, powdered
300g full fat Greek yogurt
finely grated orange zest
12 walnut halves
1 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4.

Grease and line three 18cm round bottom-less cake tins with baking paper. If you haven’t got three cake tins, you can bake the cakes one by one.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients: the flour, polenta, spices, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, xylitol and chopped walnuts.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and rapeseed oil together. Pour into the flour mixture and fold until combined, without overmixing.

Stir through the grated carrot and apple.

Divide the mixture between the three lined tins and smooth the surface.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top feels springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool.

To make the frosting, beat the softened butter and half of the powdered xylitol until creamy. Beat in the Greek yogurt and orange zest. Gradually add the remaining powdered xylitol to achieve desired consistency.

Divide the frosting between the three cakes, spreading it evenly over the top of each. Stack the cakes one on top of the other.

Top with the walnut halves and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Sugar-free carrot cake
Sugar-free carrot cake

Can you make a special dinner for that special one and still keep to the diet? You bet!
I admit first few weeks or maybe even a couple of months on the diet were rather tricky, as it required a bit of readjustment in my cooking habits, but now it’s just the normal diet. So if I cook, I cook for both of us, or for more if friends are coming over. And whilst my husband will sometimes have a yeast-based pizza or bread, he’ll also be more than happy to eat my meals (and he’s a rather picky diner). So seeing him enjoying all my cooking like in the pre-diet phase tells me that this is now a long term diet. This is the new norm.

So, what are we cooking this weekend?

I wanted to treat my other half to an exquisite dinner, but at the same time I wanted to enjoy the evening together, without the need to spend much time in the kitchen. And as I happened to have some free time earlier in the day, I thought about preparing a dinner a little bit in advance and thought about what ingredients would actually benefit from being set aside for a while, waiting for the dinner time. I came up with this recipe for a tricolour baked quinoa with slow roasted peppers and rich tomato sauce.

The way to a man’s heart is through a stomach. How true.


Serves 2
750g fresh peppers of all kinds and colours (I used green, red and yellow bell peppers, orange and red Romano peppers, 1 jalapeño pepper and 1 red chilli pepper)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 onions
2tbsp olive oil
50g white quinoa
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g red quinoa
bunch of fresh oregano and basil leaves
50g black quinoa
fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Start by preparing the slow roasted peppers. Slice one onion and roughly chop all the peppers. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on a large heavy-based frying pan. Add the sliced onion and cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add all the peppers and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let the peppers cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t stick to the pan. If you can allow more time for cooking the peppers, even better, as the peppers benefit from long slow cooking, even up to 90 minutes, just make sure you keep checking and stirring occasionally. One minute before the end of cooking, season the peppers to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180 C / gas mark 4.

Whilst the peppers are cooking, prepare quinoa. Rinse quinoa and cook each quinoa type separately in about 250ml water for about 12-15 minutes. After that time, drain and transfer to a baking tin. Mix the white quinoa with the garlic clove, the red quinoa with chopped oregano and basil leaves (leave some aside for the tomato sauce) and the black quinoa with fresh thyme leaves. I made them all in one large roasting tin, just keeping aside in various corners, so that they don’t mix up.

Bake the quinoa in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes (you can do this straight away, or just before serving if you’re preparing the dish in advance).

To make the tomato sauce, in a small saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the second onion, chopped, and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on a low heat for about 8-10 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add fresh herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Tricolour baked quinoa with slow cooked peppers in tomato sauce
Tricolour baked quinoa with slow cooked peppers in tomato sauce

I admit, I wasn’t a big fan of peanut butter until I moved to London. And even then the beginnings weren’t too smooth until, step by step, I just fell in love with peanut butter…

Perhaps it’s like with olives – they say you need to eat enough of them in one go to start loving them. That’s how I got my husband into the olives affection – he was quite adamant about his dislike of olives, until one night when I convinced him to try some with a promise of no complaints from his side for one night only. I admit I was well prepared with a bottle of red wine (our favourite Tempranillo from Rioja) and a selection of best quality olives, probably with some other bits like bread with olive oil and cheese. Hearing him ask the next evening, ‘so have we still got some of these olives left’ was the best proof that the trick has worked. And ever since then he just likes olives, full stop.

Anyway, back to the peanut butter… I don’t remember how and when exactly my love to the peanut butter started, all I know it’s here for good.

Even though I do like it a lot, I don’t consume too much of it, and so I always go for quality over quantity. Having tried plenty of varieties, I do have my favourite jars that offer the taste and texture I like most and, most importantly, reassure me with a very short ingredients list on the label.

Recently however, I thought: ‘why don’t I make my own peanut butter?’ And that was certainly a good question to ask! With actions that followed. The list of ingredients shrunk even further, there’s actually just one of them: peanuts! Although admittedly, I use raw peanuts as well as salted peanuts so the latter ones do come with addition of oil and salt. Plus, preparation instructions are limited to just one word: grinding. Although on that point, it’s worth noting this process does take some time… Having done just a bit of research, I wasn’t quite sure how long it would take for the peanuts to turn into peanut butter… When I switched on the food processor, within seconds peanuts turned into ground peanuts, as you could expect, going through different stages of their coarseness. And then, nothing happened. I actually stopped the machine a few times throughout the process, as it seemed it was getting warm, plus I admit I actually had enough of the noise too (not to mention others at home). And then, once I started thinking: ‘this is never going to work, surely I must be missing the trick here’ (that’s after some 10-12 minutes of grinding) crushed peanuts mixture almost magically transformed into a creamy peanut butter. Success! Clearly patience pays off also in the kitchen.

So, the kitchen went quiet again, for just a few moments before my husband, visibly intrigued, came over to see the result, and just a few moments later there he was with a spoonful of peanut butter in his mouth. Delicious!

Now that I had a good amount of peanut butter, time came to think how to turn it into even more healthy recipes. Let me think, what goes well peanut butter? Bananas? Chocolate? Glass of milk? Well, what else do you need? Put all the ingredients in a blender (I used cocoa powder for the chocolate flavour, and also added Greek yogurt and just a touch of honey), mix it all, and voila! A nutritious, high in protein smoothie that will keep you going all the morning (or indeed mid-afternoon). Takes seconds to prepare. So here they are – two quick and easy recipes in one blog post today. Enjoy!


For the peanut butter
Makes 1 jar

250 unsalted peanuts
100g salted peanuts

For the peanut butter smoothie
Serves 2

1 banana, cut into chunks
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
200ml Greek yogurt
200ml almond or hazelnut milk


To make the peanut butter

Place the peanuts on a large frying pan and toast them for 3-5 minutes until they start to brown.

Place all the peanuts in a food processor.
Mix on a high power.

If you prefer crunchy peanut butter, after a minute of processing the nuts, take out a few spoonfuls of the peanuts mixture from the processor and set aside.

Keep mixing the rest of the peanuts, until you get the consistency of a peanut butter. This will take a good while (10-15 minutes of mixing – read the blog post for more).

Stir the mixture with a spoon, add the crunchy peanuts (if using) and transfer to a jar.

Keep refrigerated and eat within 4 weeks.

To make the peanut butter smoothie

Place all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Homemade peanut butter and peanut butter smoothie
Homemade peanut butter and peanut butter smoothie

Who would believe you can have such a treat whilst on the anti-candida diet?

Well, one of my girlfriends couldn’t quite believe it. She visited us a few weeks back and as I knew she also started her anti-candida treatment I prepared a nice started, main and a dessert. I had to reassure her and list all the ingredients of these bars as it seemed quite incredible that you could have such a treat on a diet.

Well, once you get used to it, it’s actually quite a cool diet. I’m going through the phase I diet again this January and February, but even this phase is not that scary anymore. Not to mention the day-to-day diet once you’ve gone through the main clearing phase (you can read all the details in this post).

Back to the nut bars – well, they really are yummy as even the hubby liked them and they really are good for you and pretty easy to make.
They’re full of energy too and quite filling so even a small piece is quite satisfying. And they can be easily stored in a fridge (for up to 5 days) or in the freezer. I made them in a 20x20cm square tin and stored half of it in the freezer for another time.


150g walnuts
150g almonds
100g hazelnuts
4 egg whites
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp stevia

For the chocolate cover:
100g butter
75g coconut butter (or coconut oil)
4 tbsp raw cacao powder or cocoa
3 tbsp xylitol


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / gas mark 4. Line a 20cmx20cm square tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix together all the nut bars ingredients ensuring all the nuts are covered in egg white. Press the nut mixture into the bottom of the tin.
Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the cocoa oil and the butter. Once melted, add the salt, cacao powder or cocoa and xylitol and mix well until all the ingredients are melted and well combined.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the nut bar (in the tin) and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes until firm.

Take out from the freezer and cut into pieces.

You might get a thin white layer of coconut oil separating on top of the bark. It doesn’t affect the taste, but if you want a consistent dark chocolate look, simply wait for a few minutes after taking out the bark from the freezer and using a teaspoon scratch the surface to remove the white layer of coconut oil. This is what I did with the bars you can see on the photos.

Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or keep in the freezer for longer.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Chocolate covered nut energy bars (anti-candida, sugar-free, gluten-free)
Chocolate covered nut energy bars (anti-candida, sugar-free, gluten-free)

Here’s a relatively quick and easy festive recipe. It uses ready-to-roll puff pastry and as long as you’ve got all the ingredients to hand, it doesn’t take much effort or time to prepare, so you can easily make it on the day.

Winter vegetables like carrots and parsnips will give it a seasonal touch, and roasted nuts combined with the honey glazing will make a special celebratory point of this dish. Plus serving it in separate puff pastry squares will make them look so special.

Here’s an idea: why not spend the time saved on preparations on a long family walk this Christmas?

Ps. Original recipe comes from this website.


Serves 2

6 carrots, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in quarters, lengthwise
2 tsp olive oil
4 tbsp honey
320g puff pastry roll
1 onion, diced
150g brown mushrooms, chopped
50g butter
100g cream cheese
50g chopped roasted hazelnuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 200C/ gas mark 6.

Bring a pan of water to boil, add the carrots and parsnip and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain and transfer the vegetables onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with some olive oil and 2 tablespoons of honey. Bake for about 20-30 minutes.

In a large pan, melt the butter and cook the onion for 3-5 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5-8 minutes until tender. Leave to cool. Mix the mushrooms with the cream cheese and most of the chopped hazelnuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut out two 12x12cm squares of puff pastry. Place them on a lined baking sheet and mark a 1cm border with a knife. Place in the oven for 5-8 minutes.

Remove the puff pastry from the oven. Spread the mushroom mix and lay the glazed carrots and parsnips on top. Drizzle over the remaining honey and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden. Sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts.

Serve hot.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Puff pastry with glazed vegetables
Puff pastry with glazed vegetables