Sweet potato and lentil empanadas with a sofrito-avocado sauce

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This week, Sophie from Vergingonvegan and I teamed up for a mystery ingredient challenge. We each asked our audience to recommend 4-5 ingredients that they’d like us to use, and we’ll come up with two separate vegan recipes. And I’ll tell you right now, it was actually a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.

The ingredients that were chosen, were: chickpea flour, almond meal, nutritional yeast, and lentils.

Sounds simple enough, but trying to think a little bit out of the box, and fighting off that urge that you have to just go for the recipes that are tried and tested is harder than you would think.

Finally, I settled on a recipe that I hope would do my Puerto Rican family proud. Empanadillas also known as empanadas. Which literally translates to wrapped stuffing in bread or dough. It’s a dish that almost every Latin-American country has a variation of, and Puerto Rico is no different.

It’s a dish I grew up helping my mother and grandmother cook, and a dish I loved to eat. Traditionally, it’s made either with a meat and onion filling, or stuffed with a potato mixture and deep fried in oil. I decided to find a way to utilize the ingredients given to me, but also make it a little cleaner.

And because in my house, empanadas are usually always eaten with Tobasco sauce, I decided to make a spicy version of my mother’s sofrito. Sofrito is basically the base flavor that’s used in all Puerto Rico dishes. I have distinct memories of my mother in the kitchen, whipping up a quick batch of her sofrito–a medley of green peppers, cilantro, lemon, onions, and garlic blitzed up to make a paste. Then, when you’re cooking (literally anything), you add some oil to the pan, cook off some sofrito till the house smells like heaven, and then add whatever it is you’re cooking.


So here’s how I made it:

The dough:

  • 1 cup of chickpea flour
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of nut milk/water
  • A pinch of sea salt

 

The filling:

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • 1 spring onion
  • 3 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (this is totally optional)
  • 1/4 cup of almond meal
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Chopped yellow bell pepper (half a bell pepper)

The sauce:

  • 1 spring onion
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • Half a green bell pepper
  • The juice of 1 lime/lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of tahini sauce
  • Half an avocado
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of water

 

Here’s how to make it:

  • Start by making the dough. Mix all the dough ingredients together and knead until it becomes well incorporated and a tacky to the tough (not too dry or too wet). If you feel the mixture is still too dry, add more milk or water (A LITTE BIT AT A TIME). Then, cover with beeswax paper/cling film and set aside at room temperature and start with the filling.
  • For the filling, I started off by peeling the sweet potatoes, dicing them relatively small, and boiling them in water until they were soft enough to mash with a fork.
  • In a separate pot, I boiled the red lentils until they too were tender enough to mash up.
  • In a large bowl, I added the sweet potatoes, lentils, almond meal, sea salt, nutritional yeast, and paprika and mashed the mixture with the back of my fork until they became a nice, smooth mixture.
  • Then, in a pan, I fried the garlic, cilantro, and onion and added them to the filling mixture.
  • Set the filling aside and let it cool off a bit, while you work on the dough again.
  • Set your oven to 200C and allow it to preheat while you make the dough.
  • On a clean surface, roll out the dough as thin and uniform as possible — always making sure to flour the surface and your rolling pin so that it doesn’t stick.
  • Then, with a small plate, place the plate on your dough and cut a circle around it, saving all the scraps.
  • Grab all the scraps left, knead them a bit again and roll them out to make another empanada.
  • Put about 3 large spoons of the filling inside the circle of dough, fold to one side and shut using the back of a fork.
  • Place the empanada on a baking sheet, brush with coconut oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they get nice and golden brown.
  • While the empanadas are baking, it’s time to make the sauce.
  • In a container, add all the sauce ingredients and using a hand blender, blitz them all together till nice and creamy.
  • Allow the empanadas to cool a bit before you eat them, and dust some paprika on top.

The recipe sure does sound more complicated than it actually is. And it sure did take me a lot of trial and error to get the dough right. But it’s worth it to be able to see a plant-based, cleaner version of one of your childhood favorite flavors.

I hope I’ve made my abuela proud with this one!

Since you’re here, why not follow me on Instagram Straight-up Bananas

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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.”

Quick Mexican Chopped Salad with a lime and yogurt dressing

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If it’s got avocado, count me in any day, son! This super simple and very filling chicken Mexican chopped salad is perfect for lunch–at work or at home.

Ingredients:

  • Crunchy greens of your choice (I used Boston lettuce)
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1 grilled chicken breast (seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin)
  • 1 mashed avocado
  • 7 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Chopped coriander
  • Chopped spring onions
  • ½ an orange bell pepper, sliced thinly

Dressing ingredients:

  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of water

Method:

First of all, season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika and grill till cooked through.

Then, prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Place the crunchy greens in a salad bowl and top with all the toppings listed above.

Slice grilled chicken over salad and drizzle the yogurt and lime dressing on top.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Oh, and since you’re here…check me out on Instagram paleezzzz

 

 

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?

Healthy avocado and yogurt mousse

Avocado yogurt mousse

So here’s the deal, I’m a sucker for a creamy sauce on my food. Two years ago, I got rid of my mayo obsession, but I’m constantly searching for ways to make a nice creamy sauce or dressing that is clean, healthy and super quick to make and that’s how I came up with this healthy, but oh-so-creamy avocado and yogurt mousse.

So far, I’ve used this sauce as a dressing for a Mexican-style salad I made, as a hollandaise sauce over some poached eggs and as a dip for my homemade roasted sweet potato fries. (You can see that in the picture up there I used not only the leftover sauce, but also leftover sweet potato fries).

I recently gifted myself one of those Braun handheld blenders and I can’t seem to stop myself from blending everything within sight.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 4 tablespoons of yogurt (laban)
  • a glug of olive oil
  • the juice of a lime
  • any herb that you like (I used some spring onions and cilantro)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

The method behind my madness:

Get ready for the easiest, tastiest and creamiest sauce you’ve ever made.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and blend well with a handheld blender (you could also put it in a regular blender…but that’ll just result in more dishes and ain’t nobody got time for dat.)

That’s all, folks! How easy was that? I promise you this easy, quick and healthy mousse will have you coming back for me–best thing is, you don’t have to feel guilty about it!

Follow me on Instagram since you’re here, why don’t you?

2-bean Vegan Chili

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So I love me a good bowl of chili as much as the next person, but how do you change this heavenly Mexican comfort food so that it is healthy, quick and easy to make? First, start by making a vegetarian version of it for Jamie Oliver’s famous Meatless Monday movement. Second, by making it so effing good, you won’t even mind that it’s not it’s normal fatty cheesy self.

I did just that by trying to pinpoint what it is about a good bowl of chili that I love so much. I love the creamy avocado, I love the pickled spicy jalapenos, I love the meaty, chunky flavor of the actual chili sauce–now how can I translate that to veg, low fat and all around healthy chili goodness? Well, here’s how

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cans of organic diced tomatoes
  2. 1 bunch of fresh spring onions
  3. 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  4. 4 cloves of garlic
  5. 1 cube of Kallo’s organic mushroom stock bouillon cube
  6. 1 can of organic cannellini (white beans)
  7. 1 can of black beans
  8. water as needed
  9. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  10. Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  11. 1 chopped jalapeno pepper
  12. Chopped bell peppers (whatever colors you can find)

 

Here’s how to put this bad boy together:

  • First, chop up your bell peppers and place in a large non stick skillet with no oil on a high heat and let the bell peppers get all char-grilled (let the skin get nice and black so it has a nice charred flavor).
  • Then, add your garlic and fry off until golden.
  • After that, add the rest of your ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Once the sauce is boiling, lower the heat to a medium-high and cover so it can cook.
  • That’s it! Can you believe how simple that was?

I served my chili with some mixed quinoa, ripe avocado, more spring onions and coriander, shredded iceberg lettuce and a dollop of labneh and some nice crumbly cornbread. You can add whatever the heck you feel like adding. Make some toasted corn tortillas? Queso fresco or sharp cheddar cheese on top? All hell to the yes! Mmm…I think I’m going to try that with the leftovers right now!

Brb going to go do that.

In the meantime, go straight-up bananas with me and give this recipe a shot and let me know if you have any of your own twists to add!

Oh, and follow me on Instagram by clicking here!

 

 

 

Creamy raw vegan avocado pesto sauce

Day 2 of my veg diet and I can honestly say I don’t feel like I’m missing anything!

A little bowl of wholewheat pasta never hurt nobody! Add some silky avocado, garlic and olive oil sauce. Delicious.

It’s so ridiculously easy to make, you can be slurping silky pasta in no time! Oh, and if it’s not pasta you’re craving, you could easy use this as a salad dressing or a spread on your sandwich for a little extra punch! I just love multi-functional food!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 ripe avocado
  2. 1/2 cup of raw cashew nuts
  3. Chopped spring onions
  4. 1/2 a clove of garlic
  5. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  6. 1/2 cup of the pasta water
  7. A drizzle of good quality organic olive oil

How it’s done, son:

Grab your trusty ole’ blender and mix all the ingredients together on the highest setting available until mixture is smooth and creamy. That is all. I kid you not.

Pour some of the mixture on top of some quinoa, wholewheat or spinach pasta (maybe even some zoodles?) and you are in business my friend! Have you ever had an easier, quicker and healthier pasta dish? EVER!

The beautiful thing about this recipe is, you can add whatever feels right to you! Sometimes I add some fresh red peppers and lime juice for an extra kick, and other times I have been known to grate some parmesan cheese on top when serving. You could add parsley, nutmeg, smoked salmon (if not vegetarian)…Just let this recipe be the base and allow your inner kitchen diva free range by adding whatever you’ve got in the fridge! Life’s too short to stick to the  recipe, anyway!

Go straight-up bananas with me and give this recipe a shot! I promise you won’t regret it!

Oh, and follow me on Instagram by clicking this link.

 

 

#vegan #whatveganseat #veganfood #veganfoodshare #veganfoodlovers #bestoftheday #bestofvegan #straightupbananas #yum #delicious #hungry #eat #food #foodporn #foodgasm #fit #healthy #sogood #eatwithme #foodie #avocado #passion #pasta #vegetarian #feedfeedvegan (at Dubai, United Arab Emirates)