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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Toasting 2015

Happy New Year everyone! Like me, I hope you all had a wonderful break. I am not the biggest fan of January and February, but I promised not to harp on about that this year, I know it’s cold but the sun is shining away today.

Christmas was really quiet (just me, as Ahmed was in Nicaragua). I feel like a lot has happened on the personal side, Dad turns sixty today, and my father-in-law turns sixty this week. They are both remarkable, I hope that when I am sixty, I too might have the grace and poise they possess. Given that such life events are happening at the moment, it has been a time for reflection indeed.

Ahmed and I had our first wedding anniversary, we hit the spa and then skipped going out on New Year’s Eve and had a lovely evening at home, which is something I have wanted to do for years.

I am feeling quite tired at the moment, which probably has something to do with being a bit lax with food selection. We got back to being alkaline with green smoothies, avocados on Kamut toast and lentils yesterday. Tomorrow I’ll be posting recipes for a three-day plan to get you glowing in no time!

Usually I skip resolutions, but this year I am a little more than taken with Pantone’s colour of the year, Marsala or more so the selection of it, to enrich our mind, body and soul. If there is anything that makes one glow inside out, it is seeking out such experiences, how ever big or small they are.

So that is what I’ll be doing and I hope you’ll join me in raising a glass to such a year. Here is my first recipe for 2015!

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Power Green Smoothie

This concoction is a powerhouse of nutrients. I really slacked off the green juices over the past week, so definitely needed something strong and nourishing this morning. It’s breakfast in a glass, fantastic fuel for workouts and busy (or gloomy) January days!

One banana
A handful of spinach
1 Medjool date
1 cup nut milk (I used cashew)
1tbsp nut butter (I used cashew)
1tsp super greens powder
A few chlorophyll drops

Blitz all the ingredients together until smooth.

Santa Claus is coming to town

I love giving presents and am always so excited that I usually end up trying to convince my loved ones to open them earlier than the celebration in question.

During a season that thrives off consumerism, I do try to put gift giving into perspective, no matter how big or small, it is always the thought behind it that matters.

This year my theme for thoughtful gifts is just that, the thought put in by creators of these beautiful gifts will bring your loved ones joy for more than just a day.

Here are my favourite picks, just in time for some weekend Christmas shopping.

For chocolate lovers

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Like most celebrations, Christmas isn’t complete without chocolate. The usual candy bars just don’t cut the mustard during the festive season. Do they ever? When it comes to chocolate, what I crave is a heady intense experience that makes your tastebuds stand up. I suppose that is why I shy away from the usual haunts and lust after Alter Eco’s organic chocolate range. Their ethos is right up my street, sustainable and responsible, they are a FairTrade company that believe in direct relationships with small-scale farmers. Even more amazing, their goods are packed with nourishing antioxidants because they use real ingredients like cacao. Why not put together a stunning chocolate hamper filled with their goodies for the chocolate lover in your life?

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For the ones that want to get healthy in 2015

Will drinking a green juice a day keep the doctor away? Maybe, but here’s the truth, once you get into them, there is little else that will do. The Greenhouse Juice Co. is not your average juice joint. You get a sense of that when you taste their cold-pressed elixirs, a lot goes into each individual juice. Why I love them? Well apart from the delicious liquid menu on offer, they aren’t just the product of hype. Their mantra, that health is all about balance resonates, they really believe in what they are doing and when you drink from one of their recyclable glass bottles you know you’ve got the real thing. They are also offering 10% off all gift cards right now until the 24th of December, for any amount, including cleanses.

For those who love thoughtful classics

Cashmere is definitely one way to make loved ones feel special this time of year. For beautiful pieces that will be treasured for years to come I love Everlane because they keep it real with total cost transparency for the customer. For the last two years, they sat out on Black Friday and shut down their online store out of protest, because they believe it creates “a false sense of value.” They also like to challenge status quo, even if it is their own, so this year they started a tradition called the Black Friday Fund, in which they will donate all profits made that day to improving the lives of workers, by beautifying an Everlane factory each year.

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(Also, if my hubby is reading this, I am hoping a certain slouchy tunic will find it’s way underneath our Christmas tree.)

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For the bathing beauty

I discovered Pure+Fresh after they followed me on Instagram. They are a natural skincare company that believe “the time you spend in the shower and bath should be the most delightful moments in your day and night.” Their bath and beauty products are stunning and would be a welcome edition to anyone’s bathing ritual, especially the bath milks. The two I’ll be treating myself to are the Rose Bath Milk and the Vanilla Bath Milk.

For the awesome health nut

I don’t need to go into much description here, this wicked top is self explanatory. I am pretty sure everyone knows someone who loves kale and if there is anything that says I’m glowing inside out, it’s this this baseball top from SeaSoul and Snow.

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For the girls dreaming of Paris

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This tongue-and-cheek book puts a smile on your face and is something one will go back to again and again. How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are is full of witty tips and thoughtful advice so you can gift your loved ones a little more of that coveted chic which seems to be in the air that locals of Paris breathe.