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…

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.

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.

Glow Again

Here is the second day of recipes! A lentil soup for you to try as well as my favourite on-the-go snack mix! If you are still cynical, just try a couple of them, they are yummy enough to be enjoyed just for the heck of it too!

Day Two: Eating in a way that enriches the body, will enrich your mind and soul too. Today, you’ll find more beautifying foods that I love to indulge in like pomegranate and pumpkin seeds, detoxifying foods like pear and broccoli and healing food such as buckwheat and spices.

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Breakfast – Pomegranate Overnight Oats

Another simple, delicious and nutritious recipe that can be put together the night before and heated up in the morning for a lovely breakfast. Pomegranate is the most incredible fruit, I ate so much of this during my wedding. I throw it into salads, on top of hummus or pop handfuls of it whenever in my reach.

(Serves 2)

1 cup gluten free oats
2tsp chia seeds
2 cups of nut milk (I used cashew)
A splash of vanilla essence
A pinch or two of cinnamon
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2tsp coconut sugar (optional)
Some shredded coconut (optional)
Some flaked almonds (optional)

Mix oats, chia seeds, nut milk, vanilla essence, cinnamon and divide equally in two bowls, cover and put in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, warm the oats gently in a sauce pan for a few minutes and top with pomegranate. Transfer to a serving dish, if using also top with the coconut sugar, shredded coconut, almonds and serve.

Midmorning – Pick-Me Up Smoothie

This was one of the first recipes I created for We Heart Living. It’s still one of my favourite smoothies. Nutrient dense, it fills you up and gives you a really healthy kick for the day. Avocados (the beauty fruit) are high in protein and packed with vitamins, pears have pectin in them, which help to remove toxins from the body, spinach helps to boost immunity and coconut water adds incredible hydration to this smoothie. Try to have wheatgrass everyday, the numerous potent benefits of wheatgrass are incredible so it is well worth making it part of your daily diet. Adding orange juice delivers a hit of vitamin C but also cuts through the richness of this green juice with some citric deliciousness.

(Serves 2)

2 big handfuls of baby spinach
500ml coconut water (chilled)
1 small ripe avocado, chopped
1 small ripe pear, chopped
3 heaped tsp Naturya wheatgrass powder
120ml smooth not from concentrate orange juice (optional)

Blend the spinach with coconut water first on high. Add the avocado and pear, pulse to blend. Add the wheatgrass, pulse to blend again. If using, add the orange juice and give it one final blend.

Lunch – Green Lentil Soup

This too was one of my earlier recipes for We Heart Living, but I love going back to it for a chilled out lunch during the week or at the weekend. Here, I have modified it a little from the original recipe.

(Serves 4)

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper & turmeric
1½ cups green lentils washed, soaked and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tin of coconut milk

To serve: a squeeze of lemon and freshly ground black pepper

Gently heat the coconut oil in a large pan on a medium to low heat, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of stock and then add garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add another tablespoon of stock and then add all the healing spices and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the lentils and cover in spices. Pour in the remaining stock and add the bay leaf, bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add coconut milk and bring to the boil once again, then cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and use a blender or a hand-held blender to blend mixture, leaving it a little chunky. Serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon and black pepper.

Snack – Super Pick’n’Mix

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I love a snack, especially after ballet or working out, or while watching Masterchef and The Voice. I really enjoy brown rice cakes topped with avocado or hummus, date balls and Nakd Bars but there is nothing quite like a pick’n’mix! You can even try making your own using the ratio below.

(Serves 1)

2tbsp pecans
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1tbsp cacao nibs
1tbsp goji berries
1tbsp toasted coconut

Toss the lot together and munch away!

Dinner: Buckwheat Noodles with Tamari, Green Chillies & Ginger

I’ve shared this recipe on the blog before, but it’s such a wonderful gluten free vegan option, it would be remiss not to include it on this eating plan. I’ve noticed my lazy Sunday recipes are fabulous during the week because they come together so easily and quickly!

(Serves 2-3)

King Soba Buckwheat Noodles
1tbsp Coconut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1tbsp grated ginger
2 small green chillies (we love spice so kept the seeds, but you don’t have to)
3 spring onions sliced (including the green part)
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1tbsp tamari (you can add a little more if you like)
1/4tsp smoked paprika
1/4tsp cayenne

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.

Melt the oil in a wok on a medium heat and sauté ginger, garlic and chillies until they start to sizzle. Then add the spring onions, mushrooms and broccoli. Stir-fry while the noodles cook.

Once the noodles are done, drain and rinse in cold water and then throw them into the wok. Add the tamari, paprika and cayenne. Mix everything well and stir-fry for a few more minutes. Serve immediately.

“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.