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.

Shine for you

The third installment of glowing recipes. In the winter, I often try to get immunity boosts from soups and hydrate myself with all things coconut. I need warm and hearty food to make me feel better because it is cold outside!

Day Three: Mindful eating is easier than dieting or counting calories. Sure, it means avoiding processed food and not overloading yourself with sugar, alcohol and salt but imagine the food you eat giving you vitality. You don’t need to miss out on pizza or brownies, you just need to make a few changes to the ingredients and instead of empty calories it becomes nourishing.

Processed with Rookie

Breakfast – Chia Seed Pudding

When it is cold outside, try heating chia pudding up a little before topping it with berries and nuts. If you are familiar with my blog, you will have seen this recipe recently, but I wanted to show you different ways to kick-start your day with chia seeds, nuts and berries.

(Serves 2)

1 cup of dairy free milk of your choice
3tbsp chia seeds
2tsp coconut palm sugar
1 cup of raspberries
1/4 cup of raw almonds

Mix the chia seeds with half of the milk, 1tsp of sugar and set aside.

Mash the raspberries with a 1tsp of sugar.

Roughly chop up the almonds by hand.

The chia seeds will have absorbed some of the liquid and started to swell, mix well and add the rest of the milk and leave in the fridge to set for about thirty to forty minutes.

Once the chia seeds have set in the milk you can assemble your pudding. Spoon some raspberries into your jar or bowl and then top with some nuts and then the chia seeds. Repeat layers in this manner until you have two even portions.

Mid-Morning: Green Hydrating Smoothie

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Green, milky and super refreshing, this is one to beat those winter blues.

(Serves 2)

300g watermelon chunks, without seeds
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 handfuls spinach
A squeeze of lemon

Blitz all the ingredients in the blender until really smooth.

Lunch: Immunity Boosting Thai Mushroom Soup

Fragrant flavours always make soup a bit more exciting. More importantly the star anise, ginger and mushrooms are delicious but they also have incredible properties that have a number of benefits on the body’s immune system and have been used for centuries in medicine. I would encourage the use of organic mushrooms.

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(Serves 4)

2 cups organic mushroom broth (or vegetable)
1 star anise pod
1 piece cinnamon bark
A few black peppercorns
1tbsp coconut oil
5 green onions, finely sliced (reserved green part)
1tsp grated ginger
1tsp curry powder
1tsp Thai green curry paste
220g of mixed mushrooms
1 can coconut milk
2tbsp coconut sugar
1tbsp tamari
1 lime

Set the broth to heat up on a medium heat covered in small saucepan with star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns.

Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté the spring onions in coconut oil on a medium heat until sizzling. Add the ginger, curry powder, curry paste and mushrooms and fry for a few minutes. Once the mushrooms soften, stir in the coconut milk.

Discard the whole spices from the broth and add to the mushrooms. Add sugar, tamari and squeeze in the lime. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for ten minutes.

Take two cups of the soup, whizz in the blender and pour back into the pan. Stir in the chopped green part of the spring onions and serve.

Snack – Raw Cacao Protein Balls

A warm squishy sweet treat for the afternoon, this is another one of my favourite recipes from the past.

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Makes six

6 Medjool dates, pits removed
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 scoop Vega chocolate protein
1/2 tbsp raw cacao (plus a little more for dusting)

Pulse the ingredients together in your blender.

Tip into a mixing bowl and form together into a dough.

Roll out into bite-sized balls and dust with some raw cacao.

Dinner – Quinoa and Kale Salad

I shared this in December, but it hasn’t lost it’s charm for me post-festive season! I am still enjoying it at least once a week. I have also been using Alter Eco Royal Black Quinoa, although this is an older picture, I love using their product to make this salad.

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(Serves one)

Couple of generous handfuls of kale
1tsp olive oil
Quarter lemon
Quarter avocado, sliced into pieces
10 grape tomatoes, cut in halves
1/2 cup cooked black quinoa
3 spring onions, chopped
1tbsp pumpkin seeds

Your favourite dressing to drizzle, or you can try my favourite one.

Arrange your kale in a salad bowl, spoon the olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice on it and massage into the kale for a few minutes.

Arrange the tomatoes and avocado amongst the kale. Next arrange the black quinoa and top with the spring onions and pumpkin seeds.

Add your dressing, toss through and serve.

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The Jolly Season

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It’s holiday season on the blog and my first Christmas in Toronto. We saw in December with some festivities over the weekend. Watching Love Actually, spending Sunday at a Christmas Market in the Distillery District and putting up our tree. Happy to report the hard work on those decorations really paid off and our tree looks a fabulous shade of rustic chic.

Last year Ahmed and I were with our families in Karachi during the most wonderful time of the year, for the Aman-Omar wedding. It wasn’t any less hectic, runs to the airport for loved ones flying in, last minute shopping trips, dinner parties, cosy nights in, drinking green tea and cracking nuts with family and friends.

I suppose December will always feel beautifully nostalgic and wonderful for us. We had a gorgeous wedding two days after Christmas and celebrated my Ubtan on the 25th of December. Our home was a scene to see, decked out with marigold flowers, fairy lights and lit ablaze with the colours, orange, yellow and red.

It’s been a while since I’ve spent a December anywhere other than Pakistan, given that I have been living and working there these last few years. Last night while we were sitting at Nathan Phillips Square watching the ice skaters, I realised Toronto as a city, has started to feel more like a home, it doesn’t feel as foreign as it used to.

While this year, December will be a relatively quiet affair – it is still going to be a busy one on the blog. I have lots of lovely things coming your way, gorgeous recipes, tips for blissing out and more ways for you to glow inside out. December can also be stressful and take a toll on your wellbeing, so I am here to take of you. Here is a beautiful salad to kick things off.

Wishing you all a healthy and merry season, happy December everyone.

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Serves one or two as a side salad

Couple of generous handfuls of kale
1tsp olive oil
Quarter lemon
Quarter avocado, sliced into pieces
10 grape tomatoes, cut in halves
1/2 cup cooked black quinoa
3 spring onions, chopped
1tbsp pumpkin seeds

Your favourite dressing to drizzle, or you can try my favourite one.

Arrange your kale in a salad bowl, spoon the olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice on it and massage into the kale for a few minutes.

Arrange the tomatoes and avocado amongst the kale. Next arrange the black quinoa and top with the spring onions and pumpkin seeds.

Add your dressing, toss through and serve.

All about that base

From recent conversations, it seems most plant eating connoisseurs are constantly on the look out for dressings. I easily get bored of dressings and sometimes it takes too much effort to make them, so I end up just adding a splash or two of balsamic vinegar.

Everyone has a go-to dressing, I was struggling with mine. Although I love my orange, mustard and maple, the flavours are strong and so at times I find it limiting because it is so overpowering.

That has changed, of late, I have been taken with this healthy dressing I whipped up in moments. It is delicious, can be used with anything, for example on lentils, for massaging kale and of course in any salad.

At the heart of every salad, (it could be something else for you), for me, is the foliage rich in nutrients and the dew of dressing upon it. I love organic baby kale and baby spinach, the dark green looks spectacular and they taste good with most things. Use this recipe to serve two as a side or as the base of a massive salad for one.

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2 cups baby kale
2 cups baby spinach
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4tsp coconut sugar
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2tbsp extra Virgin olive oil

Throw your leaves together in a bowl.

Mix yeast, sugar, vinegar and oil well.

Pour dressing on to kale and spinach and toss together.

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