Limitless

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On wintery evenings I love the tenderness of lentils al-dente. For when you want to eat comforting carbs and not eat them at the same time, they are the perfect antidote and then cooking a little extra for lazy and easy packed lunches the next day. Roasted onions and feta, I’ve found, are the best thing for these teeny tiny sized dumplings of nutrients.

To make about four servings, what you need is a cup of pardina lentils, a slug of olive oil, a red onion or two chopped in two quarters tossed with 1tsp of cumin seeds, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and to finish 1/4 cup of crumbled goats feta cheese.

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Bring lentils to boil and simmer for 25 minutes.

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Roast onions for 25 minutes at 350F.

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Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

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Finish with feta cheese and serve with steamed kale or my favourite Harissa roasted vegetables or both or employ your beautiful imagination, lentils are quite limitless.

Snack your way to good health

I enjoy snacking more than a meal. My sister and I love getting our hands on nuts, carrots and cucumbers with hummus and pieces of dark chocolate. Okay while this is all really healthy, it’s quite easy to eat your way through an entire bag of raw nuts and no one wants that, so like with all things, the key here is to eat well but not go crazy. Here are some really balanced snacks that will stop you from reaching for the chips and dip.

Brown rice cakes and avocado butter

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I had forgotten about these until very recently, I think Snack-a-Jacks took over from the humble salt free ugly duckling version of this air popped rice thing and of course Snack-a-Jacks had to be the worst thing that ever happened to a rice cake.

Thinly slice one quarter of a large and incredibly ripe avocado and distribute evenly on two rice cakes. Next take a quarter of a tsp coconut oil on a knife and smash into the avocado spreading it on the the rice cake and then do the same with your second rice cake. Sprinkle with pink Himalayan salt and some black pepper.

Date-pops

Homemade bite size versions of Lara Bars and Nakd Bars, which I absolutely love. Get experimental, try different nuts, add dried fruit to the mix. Here is my basic version.

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Blend ten pitted dates with about half a cup of almonds (you can soak them if you like), it will leave you with a choppy batter. Mix it up with your hands so you end up with a sort of dough and form small bite sized balls and cover with unsweetened coconut.

Nutty Grannies

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Apples with nut butters are the best, my favourite peanut butter with a Granny Smith. I suppose almond butter is better for you though, so maybe you should use that instead. I can’t have peanuts right now anyway, hashtag, elimination detox, hashtag, ho hum.

Quick Hummus

I don’t know what my family ate at dinner before we discovered hummus. I think the thing with this one is, you feel like you are having something really luxurious. It’s not the standard fruit and vegetable snack. The basic hummus recipe (chickpeas, garlic, olive oil and tahini) is a great conduit for anything you want to add. Here is my favourite.

Blend a drained can of chickpeas with quarter cup of extra Virgin olive oil, two cloves of garlic, juice of half a lemon, 2 tbsp tahini, a bunch of coriander, a 1tsp of ground cumin and 1 tsp of ground coriander.

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The foodie grail

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After a glorious weekend on the lake at a cottage with friends, a lot of out door activities, yummy BBQs and what not, I am grateful I took along my lemons and green juices for the mornings, they left me thoroughly free to enjoy delicious spoils for the rest of the day.

For many after a [long] weekend of indulgence, a knee jerk reaction is to vow off the usual things: enter your list here. While I am all for health, I don’t think that is a very healthy attitude towards food. Of course I will be laying off the s’mores given that there is no campfire in my condo and probably won’t be looking for burgers anytime soon, but there is no need for any chastise. By all means, avoid sugar and salt and processed dairy, for that I will commend you, but please don’t swear to giving up anything on any food bible.

As most of you know for me eating well doesn’t have to lack indulgence or flavour, if anything there is so much more to savour on your plate. I find it harder to stop eating homemade granola over frosted flakes.

There are now more reasons to give up commercial breakfast cereal than eat it but there is something holy about pouring cold (or hot) milk onto a bowl of crunchy grains with your favourite fruits and nuts in the morning!

Here is a simple and yummy solution for a great breakfast that only takes ten minutes to prepare. Make it on a Sunday night and store for the week ahead and start your Monday well.

Serve with blueberries and chia seeds for their potent health benefits and almond and coconut milk for a breakfast that not only detoxes but has you reaching for another helping of goodness. Then later, get inspired by going to the cinema and watching the documentary that’s got us all buzzing, Fed Up.

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Detox Granola

Makes 5 servings

1 1/2 cups of your favourite raw nuts, seeds and dried berries (we used a mix of flaked almonds, hazelnuts, cranberries, raisins, pumpkin and sunflower)
2 1/2 cups jumbo rolled oats
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F.

Line a baking tray with parchment.

Pulse your nuts, seeds and dried berries once or twice on low in a small chopper blender. Add to the oats and mix well.

Heat the olive oil and honey on a low heat until bubbling gently, stir in cinnamon. Pour into the oat mixture and combine well.

Spread out onto baking tray and bake for about 45 minutes until golden and crispy.

Juice, glorious juice

I contemplated the world of juice for a while, only really getting into it last October before my wedding in a bid to get amazing skin. I had no fancy equipment, just my Mum’s hand blender and a questionable jug. Of course I now have a bullet juicer which makes life much easier! The idea of green juice (blended spinach amongst things) was a scary thought for my palette but the thought of drinking raw wheatgrass on it’s own was much worse so I started mixing with vegetables and fruit. If you are like me (once upon a time) and seriously unsure, these recipes are a yummy way to get started and they aren’t all green!

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Karachi Green Juice

(Serves one)

I drank this everyday in Karachi before my wedding and it was a real team effort, I think that is why it tasted so good. I used spinach my uncle grew on his farm, my cousins would bring home fresh coconut water and I love the bananas in Karachi, they are small and so sweet, if you can do this how I did, lucky you, if not, it’s just as good.

Blend a handful of homegrown spinach, fresh water from one coconut, one small banana and a heaped teaspoon of Naturya wheatgrass.

Optional add on: A tablespoon of ground almonds.

My Green Go To

(Serves two)

Hope you love this one as much as me. I used to be an apple a day kind of girl until I started juicing pears. It’s super refreshing because of the parsley.

Blend one pear, a generous handful of spinach, a cup of cold pressed apple juice and a few sprigs of parsley.

Optional add on: A tablespoon of Naturya wheatgrass.

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Strawberries & Banana

(Serve two)

My take on a classic.

Blitz one banana, a generous cup of quartered strawberries, a cup of coconut water (or coconut milk if you want a more decadent milkshake) and eight ice cubes.

Optional add ons: Chia seeds, a tablespoon of Vega protein.

ABC Juice

(Serves one)

My awesome Mum-in-law gets this freshly pressed for the whole house during the winter months in Karachi. It’s aptly named by a cousin and we can’t get enough of it.

Pull the juice from one apple, beetroot and carrot.

Optional add ons: Pinch of cinnamon, a piece of ginger.

Avocado and Wheatgrass

Beauty Cream

(Serves Two)

Thick and luxurious, it’s got some stuff in it that can help to give your skin a glow.

Whizz a small avocado, 300g of pineapple, 2 cups of coconut water and a tablespoon of Naturya wheatgrass.

Optional add on: Chlorophyll drops. 


Home, sweet snowy home

Having finally experienced beyond minus 10 temperatures in Toronto last night on route to watch Gravity, it is safe to assume I am finally back! Affirmation for braving such a winter is the gusto that it’s good to be home with my better half (albeit with a hot water bottle).

For most, the general theme of January has been about getting back to their routine. There are lots of other words floating around, dry January, detox, diet…focused around a type of deprivation, easy to understand, when the party season wears off, one want to gets back to being healthy. It seems though that alongside the daily grind of work, gym and diet has been added to that slog.

We changed it up this year, opting for a harmonious theme. Instead of sending ourselves the depriving kind of messages, we said, this year we really would take care of ourselves (whatever that entails). That could be a pampering bath, a walk in the park, a session on the treadmill, a healthy meal or healthy dessert. It’s all about sending this message to the mind, body and soul: ‘I’m taking care of you.’ Which means, ‘I’m not starving you, I’m not burning you out in the gym, I’m not working you to the ground and I’m not depriving you.’ So working out and eating is not about getting bigger or slimmer, it’s about nourishing the body and heart, keeping the limbs active and getting a good hit of happy endorphins.

Food wise, it seems, alkalising the body, honestly, is the healthy way. I used to be terrified of green juice (my current favourite is a handful of leafy greens, half an apple, one pear, half a banana, one quarter of an English cucumber blended with a heaped tablespoon of wheatgrass powder and water), so would start the morning with lemon and hot water (which we all should do anyway!) and a cup of Heath and Heather herbal tea.

Having finally found a resolution for 2014, I’m adopting the 70/30 rule. It was this article that inspired me: “the best way to do [it] is by looking at your week as the overall 100%. This means that you have about 4 meals per week to play with and fill with your old favourites. As a result, you are not living a life of deprivation on a diet – you are following a healthy lifestyle that will make you feel so much better from the inside out.”

While the intention is to be virtuous, it’s hard not to be tempted by the city’s Winterlicious culinary festival! One for the Toronto foodies (me, myself and I), it’s an extensive list of restaurants participating in a varied fixed price menu for lunch and dinner. Below is my pick of the bunch, indulgent and wholesome and a beautiful recipe from my kitchen for last night’s dinner.

Bangkok Garden – Their Winterlicious dinner menu features Chicken Laksa which sounds reminiscent of Curry laksa, something I first discovered while living in London’s Bloomsbury at the Hare and Tortoise. It’s a friendly option with gluten free rice noodles, dairy free coconut milk, beneficial spices like chilli, lemongrass and galangal.

Pan on Danforth – It says their fresh fish, extra Virgin Greek olive oil and vegetables are the real winners, so I’ll definitely bite at some Grouper Fillet served on the lunch menu, at $15 dollars it’s well worth a slot on my week’s naughty meals.

7 Numbers Danforth – Featuring a starter and main on their dinner menu, a becoming surf and turf with pan-fried New Zealand calamari and a New York steak that has been aged 6 weeks, melt in your mouth or what?

pizza e pazzi – If only for the most delicious sounding Italian dessert ever, gelato can move over and give way to Tiramisu` alle fragole, which in English is strawberry puree and zabaione cream between layers of savoiardi biscuits topped with fresh strawberries.

Quinta Restaurant – Gourmet green options that are more adventurous than your average restaurant. A vegetarian potato and parsnip soup for starters featuring smoked paprika oil and crispy kale and a vegan roasted main with squash, quinoa and romesco sauce are tempting my tastebuds.

Organic trout, roasted beetroot salad and brown rice
(Serves Two)

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For the rice (this has some serious kick to it!):
Soak one cup of rice for about 6-8 hours in two cups of water
When boiling add two more cups of water to the water rice has been soaking in, a dash of oil, one and a half teaspoons Oddball Organics The Other Thing (which is basically awesome people creating a mixture of Himalayan crystal salt, certified organic garlic powder, certified organic Habanero powder). Bring to the boil until a frothy foam appears and then lower heat completely and cover until rice absorbs the water. Once the rice is cooked, before serving sauté a little mashed up garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil and stir fry rice.

For the trout (it’s really worth getting fresh fish which is organic):
Take two trout fillets and garnish with:
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of mixed Italian herbs
Pinch of chilli
Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
Liberal amounts of black pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of maple syrup

Bake in oven until fish turns a light pink (about 15-20 minutes in a hot oven on 400F), finish under the grill to give a sheen to the fish.

For the the salad:
150g roasted beetroot
One orange
50g of feta

Peel orange and cut into pieces, reserving any juices, chop up beets and mix into the orange pieces along with juices, crumble feta and serve with rice and fish.