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.

Pancake Day

Since coming to North America, I eat buckwheat pancakes almost every other weekend. Given that it is Shrove Tuesday, the official day for pancakes and introspection, penance and confession, I decided to trade in my usual go-to for a more special recipe in light of this year’s pancake traditional edition.

This recipe is all too reminiscent of my childhood and when my mother would make the delicious South Indian dosa. While I am not making dosas by any means, I am invoking the spirit of them, with this savoury gram flour and brown rice crepe, filled with a masala potato mixture and served with my easy coconut chutney. It’s such a healing and nourishing dinner but has a real oomph for the occasion in question and beyond.

Masala Crepes

Get the full 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

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.

IMG_3287.JPG

(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.

Blue[berry] Monday

Ignorance is bliss. I didn’t even realise today was the most depressing day of the year but while reading about it online I found an article promoting a good use for the 26th of January 2015. Let’s use today to create awareness about all mental health illnesses.

I energy exchange at my local yoga studio and this week we are running two classes in support of Bell Let’s Talk, a campaign geared to ending the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. I did a certificate in counselling and psychotherapy, so talking about mental wellbeing isn’t something I shy away from but not everyone feels comfortable talking about it. This makes it really hard for people who have mental health illnesses, because what they need more than anything is support and empathy.

So how can you get involved? See if there are any events happening locally and take part in them, so you too can be part of the conversation. Educate yourself, ask questions and listen.

There are times where we feel down, this is beautifully human. Sometimes I need to feel sad, instead of fighting it I embrace it and work through those emotions and emerge feeling much better. If you ever feel like your down days are not just a passing phase, don’t stop yourself from reaching out. It is so important to talk to someone who will be able to give you the support and advice you need.

I’ve found that when I don’t eat well or workout I start to feel terrible, tired and quite out of sorts. While there are many mental illnesses that need more attention than better food choices and exercise, for most of us, leading a healthy lifestyle can do wonders for our mental wellbeing.

I kicked off my day with an uplifting smoothie. This one has all the right things to turn that frown upside down. Blueberries have a purple pigment called anthocyanin, so as well as being a heart-healthy antioxidant, they are wonderful mood enhancers. For good measure, I added flax (as low levels of Omega-3 can throw you off), and magnesium-rich cashew butter and chia seeds, both are also great mood enhancers.

IMG_3397.JPG

(Serves 1)

A big handful of blueberries
1tbsp ground flax
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup of nut milk
1tbsp cashew butter
1tsp chia seeds

Blitz the blueberries and flax with the water and pour into your glass.

Clean out the blender, and then blend your milk with the cashew butter and chia seeds.

Create a layer effect by taking a teaspoon and place it on the rim of the glass. Pour the milk slowly into the glass over the teaspoon. See this image.

(Or you can just blend the whole lot together, layering is optional.)

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.

IMG_3289.JPG

(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.

IMG_2834.JPG

(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.