Healthy Mexican-inspired Falafel Sandwich

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Here’s why I love Instagram, you follow people for months, years or even a day or two and one day all the stars line up perfectly so that you meet and it’s like you’re old friends catching up over a cup of coffee. Or at least that’s how it was when a couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting one half of the dynamic duo that is SweetPillar.

They were in Dubai for a few days, and Deana reached out. We met up for what was supposed to be a morning cup of coffee at Mirzam the chocolate factory, and it ended up turning into a coffee, chocolate, lunch, dessert, coffee, beach, and art gallery roaming day. It was like meeting up with cousins that I hadn’t seen in a while – so natural, so organic, and so friggin hilarious, man. And I really do feel that if I ever find myself in New York or California, I’ve genuinely got people to visit.

But since we only got to meet for a day, we promised ourselves that we’d have a little cyber get-together to try each other’s recipes and boy am I glad I came across their Cinco De Mayo Middle Eastern Falafel Tacos recipe.

Here’s why this recipe appealed to me so much. After watching the episode where Phil is in Mexico eating a shawarma-like ‘pastor’ in Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil, I vaguely learned about the culinary history shared between Syrian and Lebanese immigrants to Mexico, resulting in a fusion and new take on the traditional recipes that people have grown to know and love.

Because Deana, Nadia and I are all third (fourth) culture kids, bringing our own history and culture to the table when it comes to coming up with new recipes, a falafel taco recipe feels just right.

A warm, crunchy-at-the-sides wholewheat pita bread, topped with a smoked-pepper hummus, crunchy falafel, pickled onions, creamy avocado and a nice cilantro tahini dressing, I mean…come onnnn.


Ingredients:

For falafel*:

  • A can of organic chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Cilantro to taste
  • 1 medium-sized red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oat flour (depending on how wet the mixture is)
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
*based on the recipe from Minimalist Baker

For hummus:

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce
  • The juice of a lemon
  • Half a clove of garlic
  • 1 smoked red pepper (canned works fine)
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sea salt
  • Cumin powder

Toppings (everything here is optional, and based on your falafel sandwich preferences):

  • Pickled red onions (pickle the onions by slicing them, and leaving them in some apple cider vinegar and sea salt for a few minutes)
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Wholewheat pita bread
  • Pomegranate jewels
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

 

Tahini Side Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce
  • A handful of chopped cilantro
  • The juice of half a lime/lemon
  • Sea salt
  • And a littttttle bit of water to dilute it.

 

How to Make it:

I know the ingredients may seem like a bit much, but once you get the hang of the flavors and what goes with what, it’s a lot simpler than it seems. The beauty of dishes like this is, there are no rules — just build up, or build down the flavors whichever way you like and practically anything goes.

  1. First, make the falafels by sticking all the ingredients in a food processor except for the olive oil. Make sure to gradually add the oat flour, depending on how wet or dry your mixture is. The falafel mixture should be dry enough for you to form a ball without the mixture sticking to your hand. If it sticks too much, then it’s too wet, add more flour.
  2. Once the falafel mixture is ready, form it into balls and heat a non stick (preferably cast iron skillet) with enough olive oil to coat the pan and fry the falafel balls on medium-high heat, making sure to turn them only once, or they will crumble (since they’re not being deep fried).
  3. In your food processor, mix all the hummus ingredients and blitz until nice and creamy.
  4. With your hand blender or food processor, add the tahini sauce ingredients and blitz together, adding enough water to make the sauce runny and not too dry.
  5. Heat up your pita bread, and start layering the flavors. First, start with some hummus, then pile on the falafel, pickled onions, and all the other toppings you want. I even added some alfalfa sprouts for some extra crunch and nutrients.

There it is, crunchy, healthy and absolutely friggin delicious. This Mexican inspired take on the humble falafel sandwich from the lovely Sweet Pillar Food has everything you’ll ever need.

I know there are a few falafel sandwich puritans out there that aren’t really digging the whole smoked peppers/avocado ensemble, put those rolling eyes aside and give this recipe a try. As Nadia and Deana say in their article:

“As a wannabe food historian, I can’t help but read about the history of food but also pay attention to the present.  With the largest refugee crisis in our lifetime happening before our eyes, I cannot help but wonder what will happen to the culinary world in decades to come. As Middle Eastern refugees begin to settle in Germany, Sweden, Greece, the US, Canada and beyond they will bring their culture and their food and merge it together with the local flavors.  Call it looking at the glass half full, but I am excited to see what culinary creations are going to happen for the years.”

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Healthy plant-based spiced chocolate tart with figs

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Something really strange has been going on with my Instagram lately — it seems the algorithms have changed (again) and smaller pages such as mine are lagging behind (again) unless they pay to have their posts boosted — sucks for me and my numbers, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop posting my recipes and photos; even if it’s only little ol’ me looking at them.

Ladies and gents, I give to you this beautiful plant-based chocolate tart with fresh figs on top. With no added processed sugar, this decadent beauty is the perfect chocolate fix and the best thing is…you could even have it breakfast if you felt like it.

It takes about 30 minutes to put together and about 2 hours to set in the fridge/freezer.

Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

For crust:

  • 1 cup of date paste (alternatively, you could soak about 20 dates in warm water, pit them and make into a paste in your food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of salted pecans (you use any kind of nut you like)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla pods
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter

For filling:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup of tahini paste
  • 1/4 cup of date syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
  • 1/3 cup of organic cacao powder
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

For topping:

  • Any fresh fruit you’d like.
  • Cashew cream (optional)**

The method to my madness:

  • First things, first. In your food processor, process the oats, cinnamon, ginger, and pecans into a fine flour.
  • Then, add the dates, honey, almond butter and vanilla and process all together until it forms a dough-like ball.
  • Take out the crust dough and with your hands knead it until it becomes nice and sticks together.
  • In a serving plate lined with wax paper, form the ball into a circular crust (or whatever shape you’d like) using your fingers and pressing down firmly. I created a little pool-like dough so the chocolate doesn’t pour out.
  • Place the dough in the freezer to firm up as you make the filling.
  • In a food processor (sorry, you’re going to have to clean it:)), throw together all the filling ingredients and blitz until it’s nice and creamy — taste it and see if you need to add anything (more honey, more cinnamon…)
  • Pour the filling mixture into the dough and put back in freezer to set (for two hours), or overnight in the fridge.
  • To top, you could make a simple cashew cream by placing 1 cup of raw cashews into a bowl with boiling hot water on top and let sit for two hours. Then blitz all together with a hand blender. I like to add two tablespoons of honey, vanilla paste and a little squirt of lime.

 

That’s it. Super simple. Super healthy. Super beautiful. No nasty processed additives that’ll have you feeling terrible after, this plant-based chocolate tart is just what I needed this hectic Sunday!

Since you’re here, why not follow Straight-upBananas on Instagram, too!

Refreshing coconut, watermelon and lime agua fresca

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This Ramadan it’s all about getting good food in your body in the short time you have to get you through the next day. It’s also about easy, quick, and simple recipes that you could make, and then sit back, relax and enjoy your favorite Ramadan-friendly show.

This simple agua fresca recipe is full of all the ingredients you need to replenish your electrolytes and rehydrate after a day of no food and water.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a medium watermelon, diced
  • 2 young coconuts
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • Mint leaves (for serving)
  • Lime slices (for serving)

 

How to make it:

In a blender, place the diced watermelon, coconut water and the juice of the lime and blend together.

Using a seive, pour the juice from the blender into a jug, trying to get rid of any seeds that might be caught in the juice.

Serve in glasses wih ice, lime slices and mint leaves.

Enjoy! 🙂

 

It’s simple, I feel like a recipe might be a waste, but I really think it’s one you  should you try. I’m fasting writing this, so I definitely know it’s a recipe that I’m going to have to go back and edit the crap out of this. lol

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Oh, and how’s about a follow on the ole’ Gram of the Insta? @straightupbananas 

Easy Coconut and Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

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I know I’ve feature chia seed puddings quite a bit, but I just can’t seem to get enough of them! They’re so damn versatile, tasty and incredibly good for you. And the best part is, there’s absolutely no cooking whatsoever!

Check out this vegan chia seed pudding. Prep only takes 10 minutes. Leave it overnight and in the morning you’re good to go in the breakfast department, man!

Ingredients:

1 cup of chia seeds (I like the Organic Larder brand from Spinneys)

2 1/2 cups of coconut milk (I prefer AlPro)

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Strawberries (for topping)

 

How to make it:

First, you’ll need a container with a tight lid (mason jars work perfectly)

Just put all the ingredients except for the strawberries, mix well and close jar then put in the fridge to set overnight.

Next morning, mix the chia seeds and top with whatever you’d like.

I mashed some whole strawberries with a fork and topped the chia seeds with almonds, coconut and mashed and whole strawberries.

 

Please give it a try, I just know you’re going to love it.

Also, follow me on Instagram, por favor!

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Pudding

 

 

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I topped my pudding with fresh strawberries, almonds and toasted coconut chips

I’ve featured this recipe on the blog quite a few times, but it never gets old.

It’s vegan, healthy and super simple to put together. All you’ve got to do it stick the 5 ingredients in a bowl and process together and voila you’ve got yourself healthy chocolate pudding instantly!

 

What you’ll need:

1- 1 avocado

2- 1 banana

3- 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

4- 3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey

5- 3 tablespoon of coconut oil

6- A pinch of sea salt

 

How to get it done:

You can either throw all the ingredients into your food processor or you can blend it in a bowl with a handblender–either way works fine.

This recipe could be a perfect breakfast or dessert. You can top it with whatever the heck you feel like and you’re good to go!

Please give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Oh, and since you’re here, follow me on Instagram maybe?

Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Bowl

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So I’m an avid fan of all things pumpkin spiced and ’tis the season, my friends. ‘Tis the season.

This recipe is perfect as a healthy breakfast or a healthy dessert option. It’s super simple and ridiculously quick to put together. Another of my favorite things about is that it requires frozen very ripe (almost black) bananas that would have otherwise been thrown away!

Ingredients (for one bowl:

  • 2 frozen bananas (as ripe as you can get them)
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (either canned or homemade, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/2 cup of Greek style coconut yogurt (you can use regular yogurt, just make sure it’s got some probiotics/live cultures)
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A splash of soy milk (to get the food processor moving)

Method:

  1. Throw everything into your food processor and blitz till nice and creamy
  2. Top with anything you’d like. I’ve added salted coconut chips, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds.

 

I kid you not, this stuff is as good as ice cream of frozen yogurt ANYDAY! Give it a try, it’s the perfect healthy breakfast or dessert option.

Since you’re here, check out my Instagram account–purrty paleez?

 

Spiced chia seed and almond milk pudding

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Yes, another vegan chia seed pudding recipe. I love them. They’re so quick, so easy and so damn versatile. So if it’s alright with you, I’m going to be repeating them, time after time!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of chia seeds
  • 2 and ½ cup of almond or coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • Any type of fruit or nuts for topping

 

 

Cooking Instructions:

  • In a container, throw all the ingredients together and mix well.
  • Close container and place in fridge overnight.
  • In the morning, pour mixture into bowl and top with whatever you like!

 

Since you’re here, mi amigo. Go on and follow me on Instagram! Please and thank ya!