Movies, heartache & a strawberry smoothie

On a bad day, there is nothing better than cooking something beautiful to be shared with loved ones, dancing at the barre or smothering a mask on your face and drifting off with epsom salts. It’s all so healing. All of us are on a universal search for fulfillment in one way or another. In my heart of hearts I feel living a healthy life brings you a little closer to that phenomenon.

I used to believe in making movies, to me, that was the greatest thing in the world, pouring my heart and soul into films was how I made sense of the universe we live in, a way to discover it. I never thought that my one true love, film, would break my heart, but it did and I’m not sure how I would have dealt with that if my body felt weak and ill from unhealthy lifestyle choices. I don’t know if I will pour my heart and soul into another film, but how would I ever muster the strength for that again if I didn’t want to get out of bed? (Because on somedays, who wants to?) So what does get me out of bed? To explain that I take a green leaf from my friend and nutritionist, Alina Islam.

Strawberry Smoothie

Read the full post and get this delicious strawberry smoothie recipe over on The Quirky Princess.

Reimagining toast (& my new site!)

I’m sharing my confessions over at The Quirky Princess now. I don’t want you to miss out on what has been happening so will send you a reminder every now and again. All my recipes are now categorised in The Quirky Kitchen. Which means you can find recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and treats much easier. Click here to see what I mean!

In the past I’ve worked as crew, and in production for film, television and news channels, peanut butter and jam on whole wheat toast used to get me through gruelling days. Understanding what I do now about alkaline bodies, looking back, it probably wasn’t the best breakfast, but I did have the right idea. Switching up your grains, butters and jam for fruit could actually turn this into a superfood breakfast that is refined sugar free.

Blueberries & Chia Seeds on Toast

Cashew Butter, Blueberry & Chia Seed

(Serves 1)

Two slices of bread, toasted (kamut, spelt, rye, etc. etc.)
1tbsp cashew butter (or almond)
A handful or two of blueberries
2tsp chia seeds

Spread your toast with the cashew butter.

Arrange the blueberries on top of the toast, you can smash one or two into the butter as well.

Sprinkle each toast with a teaspoon of chia seeds.

For the rest of the post, head over to The Quirky Princess.

Quinoa Salad with Asian Dressing

Queen Street Warehouse does an apple, avocado and quinoa bowl, which is really delicious. It has lovely Asian flavours – the dressing is made with soy sauce, honey and lime.

Much to the hubby’s horror, I’m the girl who takes tamari with me to sushi restaurants and we hardly ever have soy sauce now but some days I like to get away with wheaty murder. What can I say? Soy sauce brings out my wicked side.

The kind of food I enjoy cooking and eating most is vegan or vegetarian and gluten free. My soft spot for pizza at the weekend and chocolate cake at celebrations (the joys of multinational family and friends are all the various national holidays and birthdays) is no secret. Until I master the art of clean baking, moist and squishy cake will be my vice.

I feel happiest when sharing recipes that can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their food preferences are. So it only felt natural to whip up my own vegan and gluten free rendition of an Asian quinoa bowl to be enjoyed on more than the odd occasion. I like to eat it with baby greens and some slices of avocado.

This recipe calls for a mixture of regular and black quinoa. I used Alter Eco’s Royal Black Quinoa, as I had some in my pantry, if you can get hold of their goods please do. I really love their stuff (especially their chocolate) and all of it is sustainable. I’m not perfect, but every little helps.

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(Serves 4)

For the salad:

1/2 cup each of regular and black quinoa
4 spring onions, sliced
2tbsp almonds, slivered

For the dressing:

Juice of one lime
2tbsp tamari
1tbsp sesame oil
1” piece of ginger
1tbsp coconut sugar

Cook quinoa according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, in a small chopper, blitz all the ingredients for the dressing together.

Once the quinoa is cooked, toss it together with the spring onions and dressing. Sprinkle the almonds on top before serving.

Gesundheit

I haven’t been as active on the blog this week, because I am not feeling so great. My throat feels like carpet and I have a head that feels like there are woodpeckers hammering against my third-eye.

When I used to get sick back in the day, I used to eat instant noodles, Farley’s rusks, drink Ribena and take over-the-counter drugs. I’d lose weight, but feel weak and terrible and with my autoimmunity it would take me the longest time to recover.

Since then I’ve learnt other alternatives to nourish myself whilst sneezing away, at some point I will create my own version of Ribena (it can’t be hard, I’m thinking beetroot juice and berries). Given that it is “cold season” I wanted to write a quick note to you sharing some of my fixes, which help me to feel a lot better without reaching for the pills. You can try these out even if you don’t have cold and flu symptoms to boost your immunity and keep sniffles at bay throughout winter.

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Ways I Try To Banish Cold & Flu

  • I start by adding ginger and star anise to my morning cup of hot water and lemon.
  • Shots! I love shots of wheatgrass, with filtered water and a few drops of chlorophyll (1tbsp wheatgrass powder, with a shot glass of filtered water and a tincture of chlorophyll as well as ginger shots. Just blend a a chunk of ginger with the fruit and juice of a lemon, add some cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric and raw honey (or maple syrup) to it!
  • Green juices and green smoothies.
  • I eat poached or boiled eggs, or my avocados on toast and have grapefruit and my other favourite cold busting foods are are Khow Suey, the mushroom soup I posted last week and dhal/dal/daal.
  • I drink lots of herbal teas, especially green tea.
  • Exercise such as gentle Pilates and restorative yoga.
  • Taking hot baths with Epsom salts and soothing bath oils.

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Award Season

Did you all watch the Golden Globes last night? Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of yet another stellar year in movies.

While it may seem that the glitter of festivities has worn off, award season kind of keeps it alive for me. I love braving the cold in order to watch movies at the cinema, look forward to seeing the sparkling and glowing faces of the epic films and continuing to work on my own scripts and ideas hoping they make it to the big screen someday.

I definitely want to be healthy today following all that jazz from the red carpet last night, but something came to mind, on Mondays, given everything else that is going on (back to work, back to school, the beginning of the week, etcetera, etcetera), it isn’t always easy to make that a priority.

My sister-in-law shared a link to uber-avocados-on-toast with me over the weekend. I put it up on the Confessions of a Quirky Princess Facebook page saying I could live off green smoothies, lentils and avocados on toast. The only way I get through Monday without tearing open bars of chocolate are these go-to recipes.

Although having said that, my friends Haji and Jared can attest to their Christmas chocolate stash having significantly diminished after my visit to their home this weekend before a garage rave on Queen Street. Which also means I’ll be doing my Tracy Anderson treadmill workout for much longer today.

Mondays are busy and hectic for us (for anyone) and the last thing anyone wants to worry about is what to cook and eat. Between Ahmed working on shows, my deadlines, ballet and chores it’s so easy to succumb to an easy and not always healthy fix.

That is why our freezer is laden with frozen portions of homemade dahl, which we gorge on for meatless Mondays. A Sunday night grocery trip for smoothie ingredients, organic spelt and kamut bread, avocados and lemons for hot water ensures we don’t go awry.

So today, keeping up the momentum of January, I am sharing with you my foolproof Monday menu, which gives me my best start to the week so you can make post-festive season most awarding.

I love to start the day with lemon and hot water, (and drink plenty of fluids throughout). I need snacks while I write, (it’s true) and keep a stash of nuts, apples and Nākd bars nearby.

Breakfast – Go Green

Monday morning and emails go hand in hand, that’s why a filling smoothie with greens and a banana is my solution. Here are my favourite recipes, you can even chop up your ingredients and put them in your blending cup the night before.

Karachi Green Juice
Power Green Smoothie
Pick-Me-Up Smoothie
My Green Go-To

Lunch – Avocados on Toast

No kidding.

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(Serves 1)

Two slices of bread (for example rye, spelt, kamut)
1/4 of a large avocado
1/2tsp coconut oil
Squeeze of lemon
Himalayan pink salt, pinch
Freshly ground pepper
Small handful of alfalfa sprouts
Some raw pumpkin seeds

Pop your bread to toast.

Meanwhile prepare the avocado, by mashing it with coconut oil, lemon, salt and some pepper.

Once the toast is done, spread the avocado, arrange the alfalfa sprouts on top of it and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

Dinner – Dahl

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This is my easiest lentil dish yet, without the onions but all the taste.

(Serves 4)

1tbsp coconut oil
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp ginger paste
1tsp garlic paste
1tsp curry powder
1tsp Thai red curry paste
2tbsp tomato paste
2 cups of red lentils, washed and soaked for at least an hour
1 cup of coconut milk
3 cups of water
Himalayan salt to season

Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the cumin seeds for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn them.

Add the ginger, garlic, curry paste, curry powder, tomato paste and fry for a few more minutes. Add a little water if it starts to dry out.

Next stir-in the lentils once they are nicely coated pour the coconut milk and water into the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes, adding more water if necessary depending on how thick you like your dahl to be.

Season with Himalayan salt and serve.

Shine for you

The third installment of glowing recipes. In the winter, I often try to get immunity boosts from soups and hydrate myself with all things coconut. I need warm and hearty food to make me feel better because it is cold outside!

Day Three: Mindful eating is easier than dieting or counting calories. Sure, it means avoiding processed food and not overloading yourself with sugar, alcohol and salt but imagine the food you eat giving you vitality. You don’t need to miss out on pizza or brownies, you just need to make a few changes to the ingredients and instead of empty calories it becomes nourishing.

Processed with Rookie

Breakfast – Chia Seed Pudding

When it is cold outside, try heating chia pudding up a little before topping it with berries and nuts. If you are familiar with my blog, you will have seen this recipe recently, but I wanted to show you different ways to kick-start your day with chia seeds, nuts and berries.

(Serves 2)

1 cup of dairy free milk of your choice
3tbsp chia seeds
2tsp coconut palm sugar
1 cup of raspberries
1/4 cup of raw almonds

Mix the chia seeds with half of the milk, 1tsp of sugar and set aside.

Mash the raspberries with a 1tsp of sugar.

Roughly chop up the almonds by hand.

The chia seeds will have absorbed some of the liquid and started to swell, mix well and add the rest of the milk and leave in the fridge to set for about thirty to forty minutes.

Once the chia seeds have set in the milk you can assemble your pudding. Spoon some raspberries into your jar or bowl and then top with some nuts and then the chia seeds. Repeat layers in this manner until you have two even portions.

Mid-Morning: Green Hydrating Smoothie

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Green, milky and super refreshing, this is one to beat those winter blues.

(Serves 2)

300g watermelon chunks, without seeds
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 handfuls spinach
A squeeze of lemon

Blitz all the ingredients in the blender until really smooth.

Lunch: Immunity Boosting Thai Mushroom Soup

Fragrant flavours always make soup a bit more exciting. More importantly the star anise, ginger and mushrooms are delicious but they also have incredible properties that have a number of benefits on the body’s immune system and have been used for centuries in medicine. I would encourage the use of organic mushrooms.

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(Serves 4)

2 cups organic mushroom broth (or vegetable)
1 star anise pod
1 piece cinnamon bark
A few black peppercorns
1tbsp coconut oil
5 green onions, finely sliced (reserved green part)
1tsp grated ginger
1tsp curry powder
1tsp Thai green curry paste
220g of mixed mushrooms
1 can coconut milk
2tbsp coconut sugar
1tbsp tamari
1 lime

Set the broth to heat up on a medium heat covered in small saucepan with star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns.

Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté the spring onions in coconut oil on a medium heat until sizzling. Add the ginger, curry powder, curry paste and mushrooms and fry for a few minutes. Once the mushrooms soften, stir in the coconut milk.

Discard the whole spices from the broth and add to the mushrooms. Add sugar, tamari and squeeze in the lime. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for ten minutes.

Take two cups of the soup, whizz in the blender and pour back into the pan. Stir in the chopped green part of the spring onions and serve.

Snack – Raw Cacao Protein Balls

A warm squishy sweet treat for the afternoon, this is another one of my favourite recipes from the past.

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Makes six

6 Medjool dates, pits removed
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 scoop Vega chocolate protein
1/2 tbsp raw cacao (plus a little more for dusting)

Pulse the ingredients together in your blender.

Tip into a mixing bowl and form together into a dough.

Roll out into bite-sized balls and dust with some raw cacao.

Dinner – Quinoa and Kale Salad

I shared this in December, but it hasn’t lost it’s charm for me post-festive season! I am still enjoying it at least once a week. I have also been using Alter Eco Royal Black Quinoa, although this is an older picture, I love using their product to make this salad.

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(Serves one)

Couple of generous handfuls of kale
1tsp olive oil
Quarter lemon
Quarter avocado, sliced into pieces
10 grape tomatoes, cut in halves
1/2 cup cooked black quinoa
3 spring onions, chopped
1tbsp pumpkin seeds

Your favourite dressing to drizzle, or you can try my favourite one.

Arrange your kale in a salad bowl, spoon the olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice on it and massage into the kale for a few minutes.

Arrange the tomatoes and avocado amongst the kale. Next arrange the black quinoa and top with the spring onions and pumpkin seeds.

Add your dressing, toss through and serve.

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Glow Again

Here is the second day of recipes! A lentil soup for you to try as well as my favourite on-the-go snack mix! If you are still cynical, just try a couple of them, they are yummy enough to be enjoyed just for the heck of it too!

Day Two: Eating in a way that enriches the body, will enrich your mind and soul too. Today, you’ll find more beautifying foods that I love to indulge in like pomegranate and pumpkin seeds, detoxifying foods like pear and broccoli and healing food such as buckwheat and spices.

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Breakfast – Pomegranate Overnight Oats

Another simple, delicious and nutritious recipe that can be put together the night before and heated up in the morning for a lovely breakfast. Pomegranate is the most incredible fruit, I ate so much of this during my wedding. I throw it into salads, on top of hummus or pop handfuls of it whenever in my reach.

(Serves 2)

1 cup gluten free oats
2tsp chia seeds
2 cups of nut milk (I used cashew)
A splash of vanilla essence
A pinch or two of cinnamon
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2tsp coconut sugar (optional)
Some shredded coconut (optional)
Some flaked almonds (optional)

Mix oats, chia seeds, nut milk, vanilla essence, cinnamon and divide equally in two bowls, cover and put in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, warm the oats gently in a sauce pan for a few minutes and top with pomegranate. Transfer to a serving dish, if using also top with the coconut sugar, shredded coconut, almonds and serve.

Midmorning – Pick-Me Up Smoothie

This was one of the first recipes I created for We Heart Living. It’s still one of my favourite smoothies. Nutrient dense, it fills you up and gives you a really healthy kick for the day. Avocados (the beauty fruit) are high in protein and packed with vitamins, pears have pectin in them, which help to remove toxins from the body, spinach helps to boost immunity and coconut water adds incredible hydration to this smoothie. Try to have wheatgrass everyday, the numerous potent benefits of wheatgrass are incredible so it is well worth making it part of your daily diet. Adding orange juice delivers a hit of vitamin C but also cuts through the richness of this green juice with some citric deliciousness.

(Serves 2)

2 big handfuls of baby spinach
500ml coconut water (chilled)
1 small ripe avocado, chopped
1 small ripe pear, chopped
3 heaped tsp Naturya wheatgrass powder
120ml smooth not from concentrate orange juice (optional)

Blend the spinach with coconut water first on high. Add the avocado and pear, pulse to blend. Add the wheatgrass, pulse to blend again. If using, add the orange juice and give it one final blend.

Lunch – Green Lentil Soup

This too was one of my earlier recipes for We Heart Living, but I love going back to it for a chilled out lunch during the week or at the weekend. Here, I have modified it a little from the original recipe.

(Serves 4)

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper & turmeric
1½ cups green lentils washed, soaked and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tin of coconut milk

To serve: a squeeze of lemon and freshly ground black pepper

Gently heat the coconut oil in a large pan on a medium to low heat, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of stock and then add garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add another tablespoon of stock and then add all the healing spices and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the lentils and cover in spices. Pour in the remaining stock and add the bay leaf, bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add coconut milk and bring to the boil once again, then cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and use a blender or a hand-held blender to blend mixture, leaving it a little chunky. Serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon and black pepper.

Snack – Super Pick’n’Mix

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I love a snack, especially after ballet or working out, or while watching Masterchef and The Voice. I really enjoy brown rice cakes topped with avocado or hummus, date balls and Nakd Bars but there is nothing quite like a pick’n’mix! You can even try making your own using the ratio below.

(Serves 1)

2tbsp pecans
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1tbsp cacao nibs
1tbsp goji berries
1tbsp toasted coconut

Toss the lot together and munch away!

Dinner: Buckwheat Noodles with Tamari, Green Chillies & Ginger

I’ve shared this recipe on the blog before, but it’s such a wonderful gluten free vegan option, it would be remiss not to include it on this eating plan. I’ve noticed my lazy Sunday recipes are fabulous during the week because they come together so easily and quickly!

(Serves 2-3)

King Soba Buckwheat Noodles
1tbsp Coconut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1tbsp grated ginger
2 small green chillies (we love spice so kept the seeds, but you don’t have to)
3 spring onions sliced (including the green part)
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1tbsp tamari (you can add a little more if you like)
1/4tsp smoked paprika
1/4tsp cayenne

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.

Melt the oil in a wok on a medium heat and sauté ginger, garlic and chillies until they start to sizzle. Then add the spring onions, mushrooms and broccoli. Stir-fry while the noodles cook.

Once the noodles are done, drain and rinse in cold water and then throw them into the wok. Add the tamari, paprika and cayenne. Mix everything well and stir-fry for a few more minutes. Serve immediately.