plant based

Carrot cake inspired overnight oats

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Quick and easy overnight oats inspired by one of my favourite flavour combos, the mighty carrot cake! This will help keep you energised & feeling fuller for longer. The recipe can easily be scaled up to make a bigger batch, and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Top Tip: Soaking grains, nuts & seeds overnight before eating them helps your body digest them more easily, while also making the nutrients more bioavailable. 

Ingredients (makes 1)

  • 1/2 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (can be substituted for buckwheat groat)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup OR 1 medjool date chopped up
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Optional add ins: walnuts, raisins, coconut flakes

Method

  • Add all the ingredients to a jar with a lid, stir to combine.
  •  Place in the fridge overnight to soak 
Photos by Claire Fulton Studio

Wholistic vs. Holistic, what's the difference?

I get asked this question a lot, as I refer to myself as a Wholistic Chef. Most people think that I just can't spell! However, it isn't a typo, there is a difference between the two words even though they are essentially quite similar! 

Holism is a term coined by philosopher Jan Smuts. His definition was that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". Meaning it's best to focus on the overall picture as opposed to the individual details. It's usually applied to a much broader spectrum of themes and ideas, from philosophy to ecology.

Wholism sees the body, mind and soul (life force energy such as Chi in Chinese medicine, or Prana in Ayurveda) as the whole, and nutrition as one of it's parts. Instead of treating each organ as a separate entity, this view of nutrition sees the body as a fully integrated system. Understanding that there's usually more to illness than treating individual symptoms.

 T. Colin Campbell, PhD explains this in greater detail in his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.

When I discovered I had problems with my liver, I realised all the different effects it had on the rest of my body. My hormones were completely unbalanced, I was feeling depressed, weak, achy, tired, and angry (and I was only 22 years old!). Once I understood how to heal myself through plant based nutrition, regular exercise, and meditation, I started to feel progressively better. I noticed the dramatic difference between how I felt after eating foods which were fresh and minimally processed (more life force energy), than foods which were heavily processed and essentially dead energetically. The minimally processed whole-foods helped heal the cells in my body, gave me more energy, and made me feel happy again. As an added bonus, it was nice to know that my food choices were having a less harmful impact on the environment.

Wholistic cooking looks at the bigger picture. It's about zooming out and consciously understanding that everything is connected: from the cells in our bodies to the ingredients we choose to fuel them with. 

Chocolate Chilli Overnight Oats

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I love overnight oats because they're quick and easy to make, are super versatile and you can take them on the go with you when you're pressed for time!

Now that the weather is cooling down I like to keep my internal body temperature warm by using ingredients that help keep my internal fire going. This recipe is filled with super boosted medicinal foods which support a healthy immune system to keep the seasonal colds at bay.

The use of cayenne pepper in this recipe is to activate the healing benefits of the turmeric while also making you feel all warm and tingly inside. Turmeric is a superfood root which is dried and powdered, the benefits of using it are numerous. For me the most important thing is that it reduces inflammation in the body. Inflammation is your body's response to injury which is great! However, our modern diets and lifestyles of eating highly processed sugars and dairy, drinking alcohol, feeling stressed etc can also cause inflammation in the body. Therefore by adding turmeric to our diets we can aid our bodies by reducing it's workload. It's not a cure all and it also helps to be more mindful of what we fuel our bodies with, both nutritionally and mentally.

Cacao is also a very powerful antioxidant, high in magnesium, which helps relax our muscles, hence why women crave chocolate when they are about to start their cycle. Please make sure that you use good quality raw cacao powder for this recipe as nutritionally it makes a big difference. Most cocoa powder you find in your local supermarket has been heated at very high temperatures which kills a lot of the nutrients. It is more expensive but a little goes a long way with so it's worth investing in some as it will last quite some time.

If you don't have all the ingredients don't worry, get creative and substitute some or leave others out. Or better yet why not try your hand at making your very own signature version?!

Ingredients
(Makes 1 large serving or 2 smaller servings)

  • 3 Tbs chia seeds
  • 3 Tbs rolled oats
  • 1 Tbs almond meal
  • 1 tsp cacao powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 Tbs goji berries
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 Tbs cacao nibs
  • 1/2 Tbs coconut flakes
  • 1.5 cup non dairy milk (I used sunflower seed milk)
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Method

Mix everything into a bowl or jar using a fork, making sure it's all well combined. Place in the fridge overnight or for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. Enjoy! *This will last in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Super Smoothie Bowl

Now that the weather has started to heat up in Doha, I've switched from warming bowls of porridge to smoothie bowls. I prefer my smoothies in a bowl because it stops me from slurping it all up in one go, which can be quite a shock to the system. My theory is that by eating my smoothie one spoon at a time, I give my body some time to digest it slowly. Plus I like decorating my bowls to make them a feast for the eyes as well as my body. It really doesn't matter what you add to the smoothie so long as you have a good high speed blender, I used my magic bullet and it works just fine!

I like to add a mixture of fruits and vegetables and generally try not to add fruits which have a high glycemic index just to keep my blood sugar levels in check. If you do add banana or mango for example, try to add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder to help stabilise blood sugar spikes.

On another note, I'll be hosting a group cooking class at the end of this month focusing on healthful breakfasts, click here for more information.

Finally here's the recipe for my super plant powered smoothie bowl filled with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, blood cleansing, gut friendly ingredients. This is guaranteed to boost your morning with nourishing, healing goodness!

Ingredients(Serves 2)

Smoothie

  • 1 fresh young coconut, water and meat
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric
  • 1 small beetroot
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • Zest of 1/2 a lime
  • Juice of 1 lime

Optional add ins: 2 tablespoons maca powder | 2 tablespoons acai powder | 2 tablespoons Lucuma powder | 1/2 teaspoon spirulina powder

Suggested toppings: 1/2 cup VTH Nutty granola | 1 cup dices strawberries | 2 teaspoons chia seeds | 2 teaspoons hemp seeds | Raisins

Method:

1. Blend the smoothie ingredients, along with the superfood powders if using, in a high speed blender until you have a smooth consistency. 2. Pour into a bowl, and add the toppings. 3. Enjoy the super powerful benefits of this smoothie bowl!

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!

Chickpea coconut curry with seasonal greens

This is a deliciously comforting meal to keep you warm in the winter months, my definition of comfort food. It is inspired by my  Iranian culture and travels to Sri Lanka & India. It's also 100% whole food plant based made with nothing but pure goodness. I've recently started an online course in plant based nutrition with the Center for Nutrtion Studies founded by Dr. T Colin Campbell and it is such a joy to enhance my knowledge of this lifestyle. It has also influenced my food choices, I'm eating more greens than usual and using a lot less fat. The studies in this field are absolutely incredible and it's so interesting to see how much research has been done in the field of plant based nutrition, especially in relation to chronic diseases. I would suggest reading Whole by Dr. Campbell or watching one of his many talks online if you're curious to know just how much our diet affects our health.

Anyhow moving on to the recipe!

The rice and tahdig, crispy Persian rice literally meaning bottom of the pot, are made in a rice cooker. I've found that this is the most foolproof, and fuss-free way of making it without burning the rice. However if you don't have a rice cooker you can also use a non stick pot, preferably a non toxic one like the ones Green Pan make. Follow the instructions to cook the rice as stated below, then when it comes to making the tahdig, make sure you cook the rice on low heat so that it doesn't burn. I admit this is quite an art and gets better with experience and much easier if you use a rice cooker!

The greens can easily be replaced with whatever is in season in your part of the world.

(Serves 6) *Use organic ingredients where possible

Curry

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric, diced or 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, diced or1/2 tablespoon ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 6 plum tomatoes or 3 vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 kohlrabi, skinned & diced or 1 medium potato
  • 4 teaspoons coconut butter
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, I used brown chickpeas
  • 4 mustard leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 6 spinach leaves, chopped

Coconut Rice & Tahdig

  • 4 cups brown basmati rice
  • 2 cups dried shredded coconut (unsweetened, organic)
  • 8 cups water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or another high smoke point oil)

Coriander vegan "yoghurt"

  • 1 cup fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
  • 2 handfuls cashew nuts
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon Apple cidre vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
  • Pinch of sea salt & black pepper 1/2 cup water

Method

1. Rinse the rice a couple times, strain and place in a rice cooker, add the 8 cups water, dried coconut and salt and leave to cook, approximately 30 mins.

*If you don't have a rice cooker please read the notes above.

2. While the rice cooks, add the tablespoon of coconut oil to a medium sized pot and on medium/high heat until the oil melts. Add the diced onion and let cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, turmeric and curry powder, stir to combine let cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Then add the diced tomatoes, reduce heat to medium/low and allowing the tomatoes to reduce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the kohlrabi/potato, coconut butter, chickpeas, and enough water to cover the ingredients by half an inch or so. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

3. Once the rice has cooked through, gently scoop the rice from the edges of the pot towards the middle to form a pyramid shape. Make 5-6 holes in the rice pyramid by gently poking the back of a spatula through to the bottom of the pot. Pour a small about of the melted coconut oil into each hole, and leave to cook for another 15-20 mins, this is how you get the crispy rice.

4. Add the chopped spinach and mustard leaves to the curry, cover the pot and let cook for 5 minutes, until wilted. Stir to combine, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavours to settle.

5. In the meantime place all the "yoghurt" ingredients in a blender (I used my magic bullet), and blend until smooth. 6. Take most of the rice out the pot, except for the bottom layer touching the base of the pot, and using a wooden spatula gently cut and flip over the thin crispy bottom layer.

7. Serve up the dish and enjoy! **This will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and usually tastes better the next day as the flavours infuse further.

5 Minute Cleansing Sprout Salad

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This recipe is inspired by my friend Dan's father, Mooky, who I mentioned in my post about my travels to London over the summer. He grows a lot of his own vegetables and herbs in his garden and makes a salad very similar to this with his homegrown produce. This version is a bit less intense but I do warn you, it is not for the faint hearted as it includes fresh garlic, chilli, and energy and nutrient rich sprouts, so be prepared for a boost of plant power!

I recently put some seeds in my germinator and a few days later had way more sprouts that I could handle so I thought of a way to utilise them without too much effort as I was feeling a bit lazy. I had a look in the fridge and saw parsley, fennel, jalapeño chilli peppers, cucumber...I was immediately transported back to Mooky's garden picking fresh herbs and veggies and that's when I knew I had to try and recreate the amazingly powerful green salad he made for us this summer. You can used whatever veggies and herbs you have at home but the key is to keep the flavours fresh and clean.

Germination and Sprouts

I've been the proud owner of a three tiered germinator for the past 4 years now and go through phases of using it. But when I'm on a roll, I absolutely love it because there's always a quick nutrition rich pick me up at arms length which I can just eat as is or add to salads, soups, noodles etc.

A germinator is basically a fancy sieve which you put organic seeds/beans/grains, and add water to so that the seeds get activated at begin the sprouting process. However, you do not need to own a germinator in oder to sprout your own seeds, all you need are good quality organic seeds/beans/grains, a jar, some cheesecloth to cover the top of the jar and a rubber band, as this beautiful info-graphic by Victor Paiam explains:

Germination
Germination

Once you have your seeds, I use these, you need to soak them over night in a bit of water. The next day discard the water and put the seeds in your germinator, fill with filtered drinking water, enough to just cover the seeds then tilt upside down so that it drains out, keeping the seeds moist. Repeat the watering and draining process twice a day until you get some sprouts, this should take anywhere between 2-4 days depending on what you are using.

Sprouts are a great source of B vitamins, protein and antioxidants which are perfect for vegetarians and vegans alike. They also give your body a lot of energy. Image how much energy it takes for one seed/bean/grain to transform into a sprout, well when you eat it, all that energy gets transferred to your body and is very beneficial to your whole system. However be sure to use organic seeds/grains when sprouting as they will not have any chemicals added to them, and please use clean drinkable water too!

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As mentioned above, this recipe is not for the faint hearted as it is extremely strong in flavour, and is very cleansing for your body, so don't say I didn't warn you :)

Ingredients

  • 1 big handful of sprouts (I used lentil, radish & mung bean sprouts)
  • 2 small cucumbers (organic/pesticide free if possible)
  • 1/2 bulb fennel 1 jalapeño chilli
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Dried chilli flakes, to taste (optional)
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Method:

1. Dice the cucumber, fennel, and jalapeño up quite finely and add to a medium bowl.

2. Roughly chop the parsley, and mince the garlic, add to the bowl.

3. Add the sprouts, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, and a pinch of salt & pepper and combine all the ingredients until everything is coated in the salad dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed, and sprinkle some dried chilli flakes on top if you want an extra kick of flavour.

Enjoy!

Delicious & Nutritious Raw Avocado Chocolate Mousse

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I've recently been getting my hands on some really lovely Hass avocados and I couldn't be happier! They are just so creamy and perfect for this recipe. I used to make this quite often back in London, but when I got to Doha I stopped as I couldn't find the right avocados, and trust me I tried, but not all avocados are created equal! So if you decide to make this recipe I would highly recommend using nicely ripe Hass avocados, they are usually more expensive but definitely worth it. This recipe calls for few ingredients therefore using the best quality ingredients really does make a big difference, and the end result is the most rewarding guilt and cruelty free deliciousness!

Avocado is packed with heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which help reduce inflammation. It is also high in fibre which helps stabilise your blood sugar levels. And it's one of the best source of plant based foods for female fertility as it helps balance hormones - I mean just look at it, it looks like a womb!

Raw cacao is high in magnesium, which relieves cramping, probably the main reason why women crave chocolate at that time of the month. It also is great for cardiovascular health as it has shown to reduce the likelihood of strokes & heart attacks.

So ladies this one's for you because you'll be doing your body a big favour by eating this. I don't want to exclude the men here either because they will definitely enjoy it, my husband doesn't like avocado and I've fooled him on several occasions with this recipe!

 

Ingredients (makes 2)

1 ripe Hass avocado (see notes above)

3-4 tablespoons raw cacao powder

3 tablespoons raw honey (maple syrup for vegan option)

1/2 cup almond milk (or non dairy milk of your choice)

1-2 tablespoons coconut butter/coconut oil (optional, it just makes the consistency creamier)

Toppings

Selection of fresh or frozen berries

Pecans or walnuts

Cinnamon powder to taste

 

Method

Place all ingredients except for the toppings in a blender and whizz until you have a nice smooth consistency, you may have to stop and give it a stir a few times depending on the size of your blender. It works beautifully in the magic bullet as it's got quite a small container.

Top with berries, nuts, cinnamon powder, a drizzle of honey and enjoy!

*You can also store it in the fridge for 30 mins to set for more of a mousse like consistency, I personally cannot wait that long and tend to devour it straight away!

Summertime Homemade Popsicles

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I know I haven't had the chance to post a recipe up on the blog for a while... We went away on a family holiday to Jordan & Dubai and as soon as I got back I went straight into weekly special orders, my first ever group cooking class, followed by lots of catering orders and few new exciting developments which I'll hopefully be able to write about soon :)

I've been practising yoga on the balcony recently as the weather is absolutely beautiful over here at the moment, and this recipe idea came to me on one hot morning! It was a lot hotter than usual and after I finished I was drenched in sweat, all I could think of was having a nice fruity popsicle. I rummaged around the cupboards and found my old popsicle moulds, reached for the few ingredients we had in the fridge and decided to make some mango, coconut milk, lime, and ginger popsicles.

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Mangos are very alkaline, which help balance the acidity in your body, they are also high in antioxidants which help protect the body against certain types of cancers.

Coconut milk has a multitude of benefits so here are a few, it's anti-bacterial, high in good fats, and iron, which is especially good for women.

Limes are an amazing source of vitamin C, they also help keep the body's blood sugar levels balanced, which is a good combination with mango as they are high in natural sugars.

Finally, I love ginger, not only does it add a nice depth of flavour but it's so good for you too! It helps reduce inflammation, aids in digestion & nausea and has also been linked to studies which have shown that it kills cancer cells.

So not only will this popsicle cool you down in the summer heat, but it will also be doing a lot of good to your body, in contrast to the sugar and chemical filled popsicles you can by at the shops! Again, if you don't have all the ingredients, try experimenting with what you have at home.

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Ingredients (makes 6)

1 medium ripe mango

1 frozen ripe banana

1/2 cup coconut milk/cream

Juice of 1 lime

1 knob of fresh ginger, peeled

Method

Scoop the flesh out of the mango, place in a blender along with all the other ingredients and pulse until you have a nice smooth consistency.

Fill the moulds with the thick mixture, tap the moulds on the counter to make sure the mixture has been evenly dispersed, then place in the freezer for 4 hours, or over night.

Enjoy!

Group Cooking Classes

I've been quite busy doing my weekly specials, catering, and a tending to a few exciting new developments! I haven't had much time to write up any new recipes, I'm hoping to get round to doing so at some point this week!

But for now, I just wanted to mention my group cooking classes. I hosted my first group cooking class earlier this month and the response was so great that I have decided to host two more before the end of the month!

Here's the flyer for more details xx

Group cooking classes 20th & 21st April 2015