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.

Fish À La Lily Aldridge

I loved the Vogue Diary with Lily Aldridge. It really inspired me to be more committed to my own work-out routine, doing all the things I love like ballet, Pilates and dancing, but it also made me want to eat the fish she makes in the video.

http://video.vogue.com/watch/lily-aldridge-train-victorias-secret-fashion-show-how-to-workout-supermodel

Something that really has helped me to stick to my workout goals these last couple of weeks is heeding the advice of my friend and holistic nutritionist Alina Islam, who wrote a hilarious rant on New Year’s resolutions. She suggested writing down our goals and it has really helped me to keep at it. I love to eat, so it goes a little something like this:

Monday: Floor Barre Class followed by a Ballet Class at Ballet Espressivo
Tuesday: Tracy Anderson Cardio and Toning
Wednesdays: Pilates class followed by a yin class at The Yoga Sanctuary
Thursday: Tracy Anderson Cardio and Toning followed by a Modern Dance Class at Ballet Espressivo
Friday: Pilates class at The Yoga Sanctuary followed by Tracy Anderson Cardio

Find the stuff you love doing, that way you’ll want to do it more and write it down.

Anyway here is my rendition of the beautiful meal Lily Aldridge cooks for herself.

Lily Aldridge inspired fish

(Serves 2)

Whole organic rainbow trout, cleaned and with a slit in it
Some orange slices
A few cloves of garlic
Some fresh green herbs
Some orange slices
A little olive oil and Himalayan Pink Salt
Some organic carrots

Turn your oven on and pre-heat to 350F.

Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and place the fish on it. Stuff the middle of the fish with garlic, green herbs and orange slices.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some pink salt and lay the lemon slices on top of it.

Arrange the carrots next to the fish and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Lily Aldridge inspired fish

Vegan Aubergine Aioli

One of my fondest memories of aioli is from years ago, with my best friend Rach. I had already moved to Karachi by this point and was working there as an associate producer but always stopped off in London before heading back home to the Isle of Man.

We were in a restaurant and decided to order aioli with veggies to start and Rach, couldn’t get enough of the stuff and started dipping the left over baby greens into it, even though she couldn’t care for them. As she described it back then, “aioli, the dog’s (ahem), the bees knees. Garlic mayo, at it’s finest.”

When making my aubergine (eggplant) pesto, I noticed it had a creamy texture and flavour and wondered what would become of it without the basil, the nuts and so on. Though not a vegan myself, I still love eating vegan and vegetarian cuisine and that is what we mostly cook at home. So this aubergine aioli is my love letter to vegans and anyone else who falls in love with it.

So quick and easy, it’s delicious, we ate it with roasted roots, but it also would work well with sweet potato fries, sandwiches, you could use it as a dip or for whatever else you fancy.

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(Makes one batch)

1 aubergine/eggplant, cut into small chunks
1/2 a red onion, cut into small chunks
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Himalayan pink salt, to season
1/2 teaspoon of mustard (I used dijon)
1/4 cup extra Virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Arrange the aubergine, onion and garlic in a baking tray. Toss with sunflower oil and season with salt. Roast for about 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are tender, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool.

Once cool, throw them into the blender with the mustard, olive oil and vinegar. Blend until really smooth.

It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week.

The pesto that was meant to be

Towards the end of last year I was making a salad, no surprises there, it was one of my more elaborate attempts, with various different components to it, including some roasting and boiling. (I’m so fancy.)

It was while I was slicing through the aubergines that I decided to turn them into pesto, allowing them to be whipped into a creamy frenzy with roasted onions and basil worked well in this dish. This pesto (like the rest of them) can be used for whatever you want.

Adding chickpeas and avocados to salads works well because they pack in nutrients and make them so much more satisfying. This recipe is perfect as a light lunch for two, or as sides at dinner for four.

A refreshing take on pesto and chickpeas, making healthy intentions on a Monday all the more easy, it was just meant to be.

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(Serves 2-4)

1 small aubergine, cut into small chunks
½ a red onion, cut into small chunks
2tbsp olive oil
Himalayan pink salt, to season
Bunch of basil
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup of scant pumpkin seeds
Juice of half a lemon
1/8tsp of nutmeg
1/8tsp of cinnamon
1/8tsp of crush chili pepper
1 can of chickpeas
Baby greens
200g sundried tomatoes
1 avocado, sliced
2-3 spring onions, sliced

To serve: Drizzle a little olive oil and freshly ground pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a dish arrange the aubergine and onions, coat with 1tbsp of olive oil and season with a little Himalayan salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes.

Once your vegetables are done, throw them into a blender with the remaining olive oil, basil, garlic, pumpkin seeds, the lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, chili, and blitz until everything is blended together.

Toss the chickpeas in a few tablespoons of pesto. (If you have some left over, store it in the fridge and add it to brown rice pasta, roasted vegetables or spread on rice cakes. It also works well as a dip with crudités.)

Arrange the baby greens, tomatoes and avocados on a plate with the chickpeas tumbled onto them. Sprinkle with the spring onions.

If using, serve with some freshly ground pepper and olive oil.

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.

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.

Ready to glow?

So I didn’t make any resolutions, I am not going to encourage you to either, do what you love in 2015. I love it when my skin glows and I feel amazing because I am eating well, spending time doing activities that I love, like ballet, laughing till my stomach hurts with loved ones and buying myself pretty things.

When my hubby was in Nicaragua he did a home stay with a local farming family who mainly ate a vegetarian diet except on special occasions. We lead an alkaline lifestyle so don’t eat meat everyday (when we do it is mostly organic and raised humanely). So while there are no real resolutions, because of Ahmed’s humbling experience at the farm, we hope to be eating even more veggies this year. Once upon a time my hubby wouldn’t even touch spinach, he came back from this trip talking about kale patties. It’s not a bad idea to look into “Living [more of a] veg life.”

This three day plan, with smoothies, meals and snacks will hopefully leave you feeling wonderful. Wheat, dairy and meat free, the following recipes are my favourite go-to options for nourishment that beautifies inside out. If you aren’t up for the whole thing, why not try adding some of these ingredients to your weekly grocery shop or a meal or two?

Easy breakfasts that take minutes, which you can prepare the night before, hearty soups that can be made and frozen in advance and delicious dinners that don’t take much putting together. Remember to drink lots of water and herbal teas.

Day One: Lots of antioxidants, healing spices and potent super foods today. I am huge fan of ginger (especially in winter) and never need an excuse to enjoy chocolate.

Start the day with a cup of hot water and lemon.

Breakfast – Choc n’ Berry Super Pots

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I love desserts that are healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast! My raw chocolate mousse, featured on We Heart Living, will win your taste buds and your body over. Avocado, berries, chia seeds and cacao are incredible foods, putting them together creates a meal that is a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients.

(Serves 2)

One ripe avocado
½ cup of coconut milk
½tbsp of chia seeds soaked in a little water
2tbsp cacao powder
2tbsp maple syrup
½ cup water
1 cup of raspberries

Whizz all the ingredients in a blender (except the raspberries), adding up to ½ cup of water as needed to give a smooth, light airy consistency. Divide into 2 small dishes and chill in the fridge for several hours. Push the raspberries into the mousse, add some to the top and serve.

Mid-Morning – Beetroot, Pineapple & Ginger Smoothie

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This smoothie is fresh and energising. I love the deep rich flavour of amazing beetroot against the sharp sweetness of pineapple and zing of ginger.

(Serves 2)

360mls of coconut water
One beetroot, washed, scrubbed and cut into pieces
250g pineapple chunks
2″ piece of ginger, grated

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

Lunch – Spicy Squash Soup

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Creamy buttery squash in soup, rocks. This soup is so comforting and it always bring me warmth, which is always welcome.

(Serves 3-4)

1tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g of butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1tsp curry powder
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
2” piece of ginger, grated
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp cayenne pepper
1/4tsp cinnamon
3 cups of vegetable stock

To serve – Fresh coriander and a swirl of coconut milk (both optional)

Heat oil in pan on a medium heat, sauté onion and garlic until soft.

Add the squash and curry powder and sauté until the squash begins to sweat. Stir in the apple, the remaining spices and stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Once the squash and apple are soft and tender, blitz the mixture in a blender and serve with coriander and a swirl of coconut milk.

Snack – Date-Pops

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I’ve shared this recipe before and I absolutely love dates, especially when they are meshed with almonds and shredded coconut. Pop a couple of these in the afternoon to keep you going and glowing like pro.

(Makes 10)

250g dates (pitted)
Half a cup ground almond powder
Half cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (to cover with)

In a blender mix the dates with the ground almonds, this should leave you with a thick sticky mass. Form ten two-bite sized date-pops. Scatter coconut on a flat plate, roll the date-pops in the coconut and cover, pressing coconut in as required.

Dinner – Warm Roasted Veggie & Quinoa Salad

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I know that vegetables are best eaten raw, but I love roasting them, especially with red onions. Something magical happens in the oven and vegetables take on a whole new level of yum when they are roasted in this way. It’s worth eating quinoa, the hero grain, several times a week. Read more about the benefits here.

(Serves 2-3)

1 cup of quinoa
Two small red onions cut into quarters
One zucchini squash cut into quarters lengthways sliced thinly
200g of mixed small tomatoes
Big pinch of cumin seeds
Big pinch of oregano
Himalayan pink salt to season
A tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F.

Wash and cook quinoa according to packet.

Meanwhile, in a roasting tin, add zucchini and onions. Toss together with cumin, oregano, salt and olive oil. Roast for twenty minutes. Add tomatoes to mixture and roast for another fifteen minutes

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the quinoa to the roasting tin, combine and serve.