healthy recipes

Adas Quinoa with Vegan Yoghurt

This is my take on the Persian dish called Adas Polo, which literally means lentil rice. Growing up, this was one of my favourite meals so it is the ultimate comfort food for me. I've replaced the rice with quinoa and made a non-dairy yoghurt to go along side it. The combination of savoury and sweet tones are what make Persian food so unique and so reminiscent of home cooked meals enjoyed with my family.

Quinoa is a wonderful source of essential amino acids which makes it a complete source of plant protein. It is also high in minerals such as magnesium, zinc and potassium as well as fibre, and a group of antioxidants called flavanoids.

Lentils, like quinoa are high in plant protein, and are a great source of iron. They also contain folic acid, and Vitamin B-complex, which are essential for your body.

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After being brought up eating yoghurt almost everyday, I have now cut it out of my diet completely. So when I made this simple recipe it was a revelation, all the soothing familiar flavours came back to me and it was delightful! You can also add in one diced up cucumber to make a mast-o-khiar, which is the Iranian version of tzatziki.

This plant powered, protein packed dish is a definite winner, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Adas Quinoa Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 1/2 cups dried green lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water (approx.)
  • 2 cups white quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Pinch ground up of saffron threads, steeped in 3-4 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or any other oil with high smoke point such as safflower oil)
  • 1 large white onion, cut in slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1/3 cup yellow sultanas/raisins Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt) and black pepper to taste
  • Sumac powder to taste (optional)

Vegan Yoghurt Ingredients

  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6-8 tablespoons water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Dried mint leaves
  • Dried rose petals (optional)
  • 1 small cucumber, diced (optional)

Method

Pick over the lentils, making sure there aren't any stones and discarding any shrivelled lentils. Rinse and place in a medium saucepan along with approximately 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cover and leave to cook for 20 mins or so, until the lentils are cooked through. Drain any excess liquid and set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium pan, add the chopped onion and cook on medium/high heat until they turn translucent, then reduce the heat to medium/low. Add the turmeric along with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Leave to caramelise, stirring occasionally, for approximately 25 mins. Then add the dates and cook for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and mix in the sultanas/raisins.

Rinse the quinoa, at least 3-4 times, this gets rid of the bitter taste. Drain in a sieve then transfer to a large pot along with the 4 cups vegetable stock, a couple pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and leave to cook with the lid on for 15 mins. Once all the liquid has evaporated pour the saffron liquid over it, put the lid back on and set aside for 5 mins. Then using a fork gently fluff the quinoa.

Make the yoghurt by combining all the ingredients, except for the dried mint, rose petals, and cucumber if using, in a blender and blitz until smooth, adding more water if needed. Transfer to a bowl, taste to adjust seasoning and sprinkle with crushed dried mint and rose petals.

Add the lentils to the pot of quinoa and gently combine. When you're ready to eat, transfer to a large plate, cover with caramelised onions, dates and sultanas, then sprinkle a couple pinches of sumac, if using, over the top and serve alongside the yoghurt.

Enjoy!

Healing Savoury Turmeric Pancakes

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The past two weeks have been quite intense for me as I've been recovering from a concussion. I've been feeling rather nauseous followed by migraines, shoulder and neck pain so as a result I've been eating and drinking as much turmeric, ginger and cacao as possible to help heal myself naturally. As I was feeling much better today I was inspired to make us some savoury pancakes for brunch and decided to add in some turmeric, as a precautionary measure for the pain, and I'm pleased to say that they ended up tasting great (husband approved) so thought I'd share them with the world!

If you haven't heard of all the incredible healing properties of turmeric here's one example. It's a great anti-inflammatory and has been used in many cultures for hundreds of years due to these specific effects which are caused by the chemical curcumin, that gives it the prominent yellow pigment. Recently studies have shown that it's just as effective as taking synthetic anti-inflammatory medication and when combined with black pepper it's bioavailability is boosted making this wonderful golden spice much more potent and effective in healing the body.

So here's a quick recipe which is 100% plant based, gluten free and wonderfully healing. You can get inventive with the toppings and add whatever you have at home. we had left over mung bean curry from dinner last night so decided to use it again, this can be substituted with cooked lentils, chickpeas or left out completely and enjoyed simply with the avocado and cherry tomatoes.

       

 

 

 

Ingredients (Makes 6)

Pancakes

  • 3 flax "eggs" (1 flax "egg" = 1 Tbs ground flaxseeds : 3Tbs water)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Couple pinches Himalayan pink salt
  • Pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

Toppings

  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Cooked mung beans/lentils (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Make the flax eggs by combining the ground flaxseeds with water in a bowl, stir to get an even consistency and place in the fridge to set (about 10-15 mins).

Heat up your pan (preferably a non toxic non-stick pan like these) on medium - high heat.

Combine all the pancake ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Once the pan is nice and hot pour a ladle full of the mixture into the pan, using the back of the ladle to spread the batter out making it nice and even. Leave to cook for 3-4 mins, then flip and cook for another 2 mins. Repeat until you've finished all the batter.

Heat up the coked beans or lentils if you're using them. Pour 1/2 the lime juice and a pinch of salt to the thinly sliced avocado . Put the chopped cherry tomatoes in a small bowl along with the rest of the lime juice, sesame oil and a pinch of salt & pepper.

Add a little bit of each topping to your pancake and fold it over for a fancy looking crepe or add A LOT of each topping and eat it messily (my preference).

Enjoy!

Pistachio & Rose Amazeballs

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I started doing weekly specials about a month ago, selling the food products I make for catering jobs, or at home. I never imagined I would be selling my amazeballs, cashew milk, banana bread etc, but my friends and clients kept asking so I thought I'd give it a go! And I couldn't be happier, not only do I get to share my food with more people, which is what I love doing, but I've also met such wonderful new people! It has made me realise just how much people in Doha do want good, organic, whole, plant based food.

One thing I've sold almost every week and have been playing around with is what I call 'amazeballs'! They are the perfect little treat to have around as they all filled with pure goodness, no added sugars, fillers, words you can't read, let alone say, and my husband loves them, which is a good excuse to make them all the time. The different variations I've sold so far have been chocolate orange with maca, goji berry with flaxseed , and pistachio & rose with spirulina, which is this weeks' special inspired by my Iranian background and a little bit, but not really, valentines day.

Once you have the consistency of the base down, which is basically raw nuts, dates, and a superfood (this is optional, but so much better added in) then it's easy to experiment with flavour combinations etc. If you don't have all the ingredients, it's ok, you can sub it for something similar, or leave it out all together. Goji berries can be substituted for cranberries, medjool dates can be substituted for any other soft dates, raw honey can be substituted for date syrup or maple syrup etc, and you don't have to roll them in anything, they're also great just on their own.

P.S. I'm not really one for celebrating valentines day, I think that if you love someone, be it your family, friends or your other half, you should shower them with love (and amazeballs) every single day!

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Ingredients (makes approx. 20 pieces)

  • 80 grams raw, unsalted pistachios (peeled)
  • 50 grams goji berries (see notes above for substitutions)
  • 50 grams dried figs
  • 100 grams medjool dates
  • 60 grams unsweetened desiccated coconut (organic, preservative free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon spirulina powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rose water

Toppings (optional) 1/2 cup dehydrated rose petals, or dried rose buds 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

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Amazeballs mudra!

Method

Place pistachios in the food processor and pulse until they are crumbly.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor, except for the toppings, and blitz on a medium speed for about 20 seconds then go to high speed for about a minute, until you have an even consistency (this will vary depending on how powerful your food processor is).

Scoop out approximately 1 tablespoon of the mixture at a time, squeeze in your hand, and roll into a ball gently with the palms of your hands.

Prepare the toppings (optional) by using a spice mill, or pestle and mortar, to grate down the rose petals to a similar consistency as the desiccated coconut.

Mix the 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut and the rose in a small bowl, and roll the amazeballs in the mixture. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes (if you can resist) or eat as is! They should keep in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks, but they'll probably be eaten up way before then!

Enjoy and share with all the people you love in your life!

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If you are based in Doha and are interested in knowing more about my weekly specials, head over to my instagram or facebook page for more info! 

Lemony Swiss Chard Soup

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Sometimes all you need is a big hearty bowl of soup, especially during the winter, and this is the one to try. Well it's not exactly freezing in Doha, it's about 20 degrees Celsius, which is cold compared to the scorching 50+ degrees in the summer months!

A lovely friend of mine, Lana, introduced me to a supermarket which stocks some pretty fresh produce from the Levant region, so I've been quite lucky recently with finding fruits and veggies I wouldn't normally have over here. The other day I came across some beautiful Lebanese Swiss Chard stalks just waiting for me to scoop them up! I bought them and they sat in the vegetable bowl on my kitchen counter for a few days as I debated between making dolma (stuffing them with a herbed rice) or soup. I finally decided soup would be the best option given the minimal prep required, and so I tried to recreate a recipe an old colleague had told me about a while back which sounded delicious. I didn't have all the ingredients but decided to work with what I had at home, I replaced potatoes with butternut squash and green lentils with black-eye peas, also fresh coriander with coriander powder. So work with which ever ingredients are easier to get your hands on. Either way, you will have a lovely warming bowl of soup to savour!

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Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups black-eye peas, rinsed
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups swiss chard, sliced
  • 2 tsp sumac powder himalayan pink salt (sea salt is fine too) & black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbs ghee (can be replaced with coconut oil for Vegans)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs coriander powder

Method:

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot on medium - high heat. Then add the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes until they soften slightly. Stir in the black-eye peas and pour in the vegetable stock. Bring the broth to a boil and add the butternut squash, swiss chard. Season with sumac, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn the heat down and let simmer, covered, until the squash and peas are cooked, approximately 20-25 mins. While you're waiting for the soup to cook, heat the ghee in a small pan over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook for about a minute, then stir in the coriander powder, and remove from heat once the aromas start being released, about 30/40 seconds. Once the peas and squash are nearly done, add the garlic and coriander,and cook for 5 minutes, or until the squash and peas have cooked through. Just before serving add the juice of one lemon, and taste to check seasoning, add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed. Cut up the left over lemon into wedges to serve on the side and enjoy!

Dairy and Nut Free Ice Cream

IMG_6212 I love ice cream, I mean who doesn't?! The only problem is that immediately after I have eaten it I get an upset stomach, this is probably because my body just doesn't digest milk, it's been that way since I was little. However I used to ignore this and eat ice cream, well...because it's just so good! But as I have become more in tune with my body over the past couple of years, I really do notice how it reacts to different foods, especially dairy. So I started off my dairy free ice cream endeavour by making frozen banana ice cream, which quite simply is blending up frozen ripe bananas and adding the topping of choice, mine would always be cinnamon and cacao nibs. It's delicious and easy to make but I was not quite satisfied, it lacks the creamy consistency. Then I experimented with making nut based ice cream, which was also really yummy but my husband wasn't convinced, and I wanted to try and make something for people with nut allergies.

So after a lot a of research and experimenting, I bring you the dairy and nut (and ice cream maker) free ice cream! It's rich and creamy, the perfect alternative to normal ice cream, husband approved (he went for seconds), and you don't need any fancy equipment to make it! It requires some pre planning, which is just putting a can of coconut milk in the fridge over night and peeling some ripe bananas and placing them in the freezer for a couple of hours. It is a great base so you can add cacao powder, fresh berries or just keep it plain and simple. I served some on top of spiced poached plums last night and it was divine. So let your imagination run free and the little child in you will be very happy, I promise!

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Ingredients (serves 8) 

1 can full fat coconut milk (the only added ingredient on the list should be water, no other nasties!) 3 ripe bananas (frozen) 1 vanilla pod / 1 teaspoon pure vanilla powder Optional : Goji berries (1/4 cup)

Extra ingredients

Coconut sugar / maple syrup / honey Cacao powder Fresh mint Cacao nibs

Equipment

Food Processor / blender Tupperware / Glass Pyrex container / I use this

Method:

Place the can of coconut milk in the fridge over night, or for at least 6 hours. When ready, turn the can upside down and open, you should have thick creamy coconut milk, scoop the contents into the food processor / blender. (At this point you will feel an urge to eat the solidified coconut milk straight out of the can, please try to control yourself!)

Add the bananas to the food processor / blender and combine, depending on your machine this should take around 5 mins to get a smooth consistency.

Meanwhile cut the vanilla pod lengthways and scoop out the seeds and add to the food processor / blender. This is the point to add in any other ingredients you want. I didn't add any sweetener to mine as I thought the bananas made it sweet enough for my palette but if you want it sweeter, add some coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey.

Then give it one final whizz in the food processor to combine all the ingredients (about a minute or so).

Pour the ingredients into the container and place in the freezer for 2 - 3 hours, at least.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 10 - 15 minutes before serving so that it is easy to scoop up.

Then add your favourite topping, or serve plain, and most importantly enjoy!

Easy Spelt Pizzas

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I was always intimidated by the idea of making any bread related food, but once I gave this spelt pizza base a go I realised how easy it actually is and haven't looked back since! I have made it in all different shapes and sizes, from a large family style pizza, to mini heart shaped ones. The options of toppings are endless so experiment as much as you want, with whatever you have on hand. This is a staple in the Vegetarian Treehouse Kitchen and every time I make I am so glad I didn't decide to order in!

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Spelt is a wheat free flour, which is packed with nutritional benefits from regulating the body’s metabolism to lowering blood sugar, and reducing cholesterol levels. It does however contain very low levels of gluten therefore if you are celiac I would recommend replacing it with rice or quinoa flour.

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Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

Pizza Base

4 cups wholegrain spelt flour 3/4 cup warm water 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons zataar Salt to taste (preferably Himalayan pink salt or sea salt)

Toppings

4 vine tomatoes 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1/4 cup tomato paste 1 teaspoon coconut sugar / brown sugar 1 medium onion - sliced 1 tablespoon coconut oil 1 pack chestnut mushrooms - sliced 250 gram pack halloumi cheese - sliced salt &  freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

Sift 3 1/2 cups of the spelt flour into a large mixing bowl.

Gently whisk the yeast in 3/4 cup water to dissolve.

Add the yeast and olive oil to the flour and stir in until you have a consistent texture.

Then start kneading the dough on a clean floured surface for about 5 mins.

Place the dough back in the bowl, dust with some flour and cover with a damp towel. Leave the dough to rise for approx. 1 1/2 hours, until it has almost doubled in size.

In the meantime you can make the topping....

Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side down on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 mins.

Heat up the coconut oil in a pan on medium/high heat, and add the onion. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 mins, until caramelised and set aside.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven, and leave to cool for about 10 mins. Then remove the skins and place in a medium sized bowl.

Add the oregano, tomato paste, and sugar to the tomatoes. Whiz all the ingredients with a hand blender or normal blender, until you have a smooth sauce consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

When the dough has risen, oil a lined baking sheet and set aside.

You can divide the dough up into 2 medium sized pizzas or 1 large pizza, it's up to you.

Dust a clean surface with flour and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, adding the zataar and salt as you go, and pinching the edges with your fingers. The dough will rise slightly so roll it out as thin as possible.

Place on the oiled and lined baking sheet and brush the edge of the pizza with olive oil and add the the toppings, starting with the tomato sauce, caramelised onions, mushrooms and finally halloumi cheese.

Pop in the oven for approximately 30 mins, if you're making smaller pizzas bake for less time, about 20 mins.

Take out the oven, cut up and enjoy!