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.

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.

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.

Raw Mince Pie Bites

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What usually happens is my mind gets an idea and I wing it and sometimes it ends up tasting even better than imagined, I come here and share the love with you. These raw mince pie bites though…

I was craving mince pies (well everyone on my Instagram feed is posting their healthy versions of these glorious little Christmas treats) and while I love pastry, I am lazy when it comes to making it. That might sound ridiculous, given that I am posting food almost everyday and short of growing my own crops there isn’t much in our house that isn’t homemade, but seriously, pastry and dough, make me lazy. That’s why I haven’t even tried to attempt a healthy batch of mince pies, instead I took the easy way out with these raw bites.

They are so scrumptious, have all the depth and flavour of a mince pie and the best part is they are so healthy it’s just heavenly. Perfect fuel for your December workouts, these little bites will also give you an energy boost for Christmas shopping and help you keep well away from all the sugary stuff in coffee shops.

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Makes 6-8

Six Medjool dates, pits removed
1/2 cup almond meal
1/3 cup sultanas
1/4 cup dried currants
Zest and juice of half a Navel orange
1/4tsp cinnamon
Some shredded coconut to roll in (about 1/2 a cup)

Throw your dates and almond meal into a blender and whizz together. Add the rest of the ingredients and whizz once more.

Tip the lot into a bowl and knead into a sticky dough. Form bitesized balls until all the dough is used up.

Roll them in the shredded coconut and they are ready to serve.

Hugs for cockles

At the end of a cold day, I adore recipes that can be served in a bowl, enjoyed from a comforting corner of my couch and eaten with the simplicity of a spoon.

This kind of hearty food not only warms, but also hugs your cockles, it soothes away the day and leaves you feeling replete and nourished. This baked casserole is nostalgic of many things, the pot pie Tanya and I would eat at Butlers, the vegetable and cheese sauce bake from my childhood and the depth of flavour from leeks in a soup. Yet, it is none of those things.

This casserole is one of my rare moments where a first stab at a healthy makeover doesn’t completely backfire. It’s easily made friendly for vegans by omitting the chicken and using puy lentils and perhaps trying out nutritional yeast in place of Parmesan. I love eating this on it’s own, but the hubby loves to have a crusty bread roll on standby to gather some of that renegade liquid every now and again.

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Serves 4-6

1tbsp coconut oil
2 leeks, with the green part removed and finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, cut into small strips (or if you are making a vegan version use 11/2 cups of slightly puy lentils*)
1tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp black pepper
A little ground Himalayan salt
Pinch of red chilli flakes
3 cups of mushrooms
1 and 3/4 cups of sweetcorn
One broccoli crown, cut into florets
1 can of coconut milk
1tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I use Go Bio Organic)
1/2 cup of quinoa flakes
1tbsp Parmesan (I actually found some made with flaxseed oil, if you can get that amazing otherwise don’t worry)

*If you are using puy lentils, bring to a boil and simmer until they are slightly undercooked. Use them in place of the chicken below.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the Parmesan and quinoa flakes together and set aside.

Heat oil on a medium heat in a pan, once the oil is ready, throw the leeks and garlic in. Sauté until leeks have softened.

Add chicken (or lentils), mushrooms, herbs, nutmeg, pepper, salt and chilli flakes and sauté until the mushrooms begin to sweat.

Add the sweet corn, broccoli, coconut milk, and nutritional yeast and crumble the stock cube into the pan. Bring contents to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid has thickened slightly.

Pour the casserole mixture into a dish and top with the quinoa and Parmesan mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is bubbling.

“Fudged” Brownies

I am not kidding when I say “fudged.” These beauties may have the texture of a fudge brownie but have the potent health benefits of dates, the antioxidant properties of cacao and healing buckwheat. I have been on a mission to make the perfect healthy brownie, moist, rich and chewy. While I am still not quite there, these creations along the way are a far cry from a botch job. In fact, the whole endeavour has been so mouthwatering, I am quite happy to keep trying.

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3/4 cup warm water
8 Medjool dates
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup cacao
2 eggs, beaten (or vegan alternate)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/8tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a tin (I used a loaf tin).

Soften dates in half a cup of the warm water, then pulse in a chopper in the liquid until smooth and set aside.

To make your “fudge” melt the sugar and coconut oil in 1/4 cup of water on the lowest heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Add cacao and dates and mix well and let it cool.

When the fudge has cooled, mix in the eggs so you get a smooth and glossy mixture.

Mix flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold into the “fudge.” Pour into tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.