Easy potato, leek and butter bean soup

 

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Have I ever mentioned that I originally wanted to blog ONLY about soups…? Dumb, I know. But I’m an avid fan of everything slurpy and thought it would be a good idea to dedicate a website to my slurping obsession. Then, that same day, I was watching an episode of New Girl and Jess tells Schmidt that she’s “Straight-up Bananas, yo” and I literally popped my laptop open and bought the domain on spot. Fast forward four years and here we are…with a thriving Instagram account (have you followed me yet?), and less than impressive website (help meeeee)

Long story, short: I love soups. Probably way more than I should. Now add Ramadan and my constant need to break my fast with any kind of soup and you’ve got some good old-fashioned improv happening in the kitchen.

And the leek, potato and butter bean soup was born.

Super simple to make and MEGA good — it tastes creamy and cheesy for some reason without an ounce of either.

It takes about 20 minutes to put together and then you just puree it with a handy, dandy hand blender and you are good to go, mi amigo.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Leeks
  • 1/2 kilo of potatoes, skinned and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 can of fullfat coconut cream
  • 2 organic stock cubes
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil
  • 1 can of white butter beans
  • 1 liter of boiling water
  • Dill, coriander or spring onion for serving (optional)

How to make it:

  • First, make sure you clean the leaks as they sometimes can be gritty
  • Put 1 liter of water to boil in a kettle
  • In a pan, melt the tablespoon of coconut oil
  • Slice the leeks, garlic, and spring onion and add to the pot to saute a bit
  • Then add the diced potatoes, stock cubes and boiling water and bring to a boil
  • Once up to the boil, lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes (or until potatoes are completely tender…like mashed potato tender)
  • Add the can of butter beans and cook a bit more (1 minute or 2)
  • Turn off the heat and add a cup of coconut milk and the juice of the lemon
  • With a hand blender, blend the mixture until completely cream
  • Serve with freshly cracked black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and some dill or any other herbs.

This soup is easy, delicious and perfect for Ramadan — you’re going to love it, I promise!

While you’re here, why not check out my Instagram account and follow me!

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

 

 

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!

5 Days in Southern Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka has been on my Bucket List for a while now, and I’m so happy that I finally had the chance to visit.

Although our trip was shorter than I would’ve liked, I think we got a pretty decent taste of the Southern cities of Sri Lanka. Our trip was – all in all – 5 days, but it was absolute perfection from start to finish and I can’t wait to share our itinerary with you!

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Day 1

We set off from sunny Abu Dhabi and a short 4 episodes of Family Guy and 4 New Girl episodes later, arrived in Colombo.

We hired a taxi to drive us to Midigama from Colombo. The entire ride I was told should be about 3 hours long, but we got lost along the way so it ended up taking double the time. Just make sure the taxi takes you through the highway! The taxi ride cost us about 7000 Rupees which is about 175 AED + tolls.

Our first order of business was to visit Ebb and Flow Jungalows in Midigama. About a year ago, one of the only fashion bloggers I’ll ever follow, StyleDrifter, featured these lovely Jungalows on her blog and ever since I’ve been lusting over them, in the hopes that one day I’ll get to check out the place. And I did. And it was glorious.

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We pulled into the driveway a good four hours later than anticipated, only to find the wonderful Chef Indika had been waiting for us all along with a full-fledged dinner of incredible Sri Lankan curries galore!

 

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Chef Indika’s Amazing Curries
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View from the kitchen and dining area

Each Jungalow comes with its own special Jungalow Manual. A manual with all the information you’ll ever need. How to order food, where to get the best surf classes, the best-priced massages in the area, how much taxis should be charging you–I mean, this little booklet was a testimony on how much love end energy Verity and Garrath put into the jungalows. No detail is spared. They even give you a mobile phone along with their numbers so you can contact them whenever needed.

 

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Fresh Fruit and the Jungalow Manual

 

Day 2

After getting the good night’s sleep we so desperately needed. We woke up nice and early for a very eventful day planned out meticulously. First, we were going to have breakfast with Chef Indika then we were going to get our swimwear and head for our first lesson in surfing…ever

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Prepping our surfboards

I won’t lie and say that I was a natural, but I did thoroughly enjoy it even if I wasn’t ever able to get off my stomach! Garreth (owner of the Jungalows along with his wife, Verity) set up our class with a local instructor and I’m glad he did. This guy was an excellent teacher–very safe and very cautious while still giving you plenty of room to play:)

After our surf class we headed back to Ebb and Flow Jungalows and found that chef Indika had prepared a lunch fit for kings. So every morning after breakfast, you choose what you want for lunch and chef Indika scouts the local markets for fresh produce,

Here’s how the halfboard option of the Jungalows go. Every morning after breakfast, you choose what you want for lunch and chef Indika scouts the local markets for fresh produce, fish and poultry, comes back to the junglaows and prepares lunch/dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever been as spoilt  as I was on my last trip to Sri Lanka.

 

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Lunch was Singapore Crabs with a fresh avocado and tomato salad

 

After lunch, we finally got to meet half of the brains behind these wonderful Jungalows. Verity stopped by and told us everything we needed to know about the area. She asked what we enjoyed doing and we hoped to gain from our stay in Sri Lanka.

Before my tour with Verity, Mohanned and I decided to chill in the private pool in our villa and enjoy the lovely weather.

 

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Private Villa Pool

 

Her and I later decided to go on a famous Tipple Tuk Tuk Tour. You can find information on the tours on this link. So the cool thing about a Tipple TukTuk tour is that Verity and the wonderful Talak have you hop on their tutktuk and take you to all the coolest spots for drinks, snack, sunset views and dinner. You can hook up your phone or ipod to Talak’s tuktuk and enjoy your favorite tunes on the road.

The beauty of this tour is that Verity takes you to cool hangouts that you probably wouldn’t have found without her. She takes you off the beaten path, to enjoy wonderful experiences like catching fireflies by the beach.

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Then she took me to meet her friends at Bedspace Hotel for an amazing dinner experience. Malcolm, the owner and chef, is also an expat living in Sri Lanka. The food, conversation and music just make for a perfect night out.Verity is also a life coach and I could honestly say I had very heartfelt, one-on-one

 

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Grilled Chicken and Spanish Rice — Absolutely Delicious!

 

Verity is also a life coach and I could honestly say I had very heartfelt, one-on-one conversations with her without ever feeling awkward or judged in any way. It truly is an experience not to be missed. I mean, it’s not every day that you have the opportunity to roam a city with a local, right?

 

Day 3

Sadly, our third day in Sri Lanka was our last in Ebb and Flow Jungalows and it was time to set sail to our next destination in the Southern region of Sri Lanka, Koggala Lake.

We really enjoyed hanging out with everyone after dinner and I feel like we made friends in Midigama that I’ll never forget.

Sweet Tallak (he is the sweetest person on the face of this planet and the best hugger ever) was waiting to take us to Koggala by tuktuk and a short and very scenic 25 minutes later we were pulling up to the drive way of Tri.

On the way, Tallak stopped and showed us some wild sea turtles splashing about in the ocean and we got fresh coconuts. I mean that right there is my idea of heaven.

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Tallak and I looking for sea turtles

I’d really recommend reaching out to Tri before arrival as the hotel is a bit off the beaten path and it will make your life a lot easier if the hotel staff talks directly to the taxi or tuktuk driver–it’s a little far out and could be tricky to find, but once you get there your life will never be the same, I promise.

This. Place. Is. Unreal.

It’s like something straight out of a dream.

Minimilist. Beautiful. Inspiring.

 

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The first thing you see, the infinity pool
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Library and Yoga studio

We were greeted by the lovely Imesha and a nice cold papaya smoothie and I knew I was in love. I still hadn’t seen where we’d be staying, but at that point, I didn’t care if I stayed on the grass and slept the night. This place is unbelievably beautiful. I cannot even explain.

After check in, Imesha guided us to where we’d be staying, the Water Tower room.

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The outside of the water tower
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View of the pond, library and yoga studio from the water tower

 

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The bed and view

And as if I weren’t gob smacked before, I was informed by Imesha that multiple-course breakfast and dinner were included with the cost along with free yoga classes with the owner of the estate.

I can’t even call this place a hotel. It’s much, much more. Every inch of this place is so well thought out. I mean, the water in the pool is chlorine free, it’s ionised water.

The positioning of the water tower rooms follow the Golden Ratio which is said to promote harmony and internal balance.

I know most of you may be skeptical, but there’s something about this place that just has you at ease.

You will not want to leave. I promise you.

Please do not miss the spectacular sunset view over the lake on the terrace upstairs.

 

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The sunset over lake Koggala at Tri

 

Day 4

The soothing sounds of dawn prayer at the monestary nearby along with the lake breeze will wake you up with a smile on your face.

Then it’s time to head to breakfast.

Everything they serve at Tri is locally sourced and organic. And each dish is a work of art.

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After breakfast we sat at the infinity pool and soaked in some sun.

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Pool Area

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Then we contacted Imesha for help booking a boat trip to the nearby Cinnamon Island and a couple’s massage for our 3rd year wedding anniversary.

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On our way to Cinnamon Island

The boat ride is equipped with a cooler full of cold beverages and fresh coconuts for the ride.

The island itself is a tour on how cinnamon is grown, harvested and prepared along with some other local spices and herbs.

My only piece of advice would be not to take on the tour guide’s challenge on eating chilis. I thought I was okay with the heat, but my stomach didn’t agree. At all. Don’t do it.

When we came back to the hotel, Imesha had put together a very romantic dinner for Mohanned and I in celebration of our anniversary. Along with a custom made anniversary cake.

The estate is breathtakingly beautiful, but the staff are amazing. They will literally bend backwards to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible.

Day 5

I was heartbroken to leave, but it was time to thank the Universe for giving me the wonderful opportunity to visit Sri Lanka. We headed back to Colombo airport and right back to overly sunny Abu Dhabi.

Two months later, and I’ve already booked another trip back. I can’t wait.

 

 

The easiest soba noodle salad in just 15 minutes!

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So I’m frantically packing for my last-minute trip to Jordan courtesy of Movenpick Dead Sea and Petra, but I need to fuel my body..I need to have lunch or else I won’t remember all the important things I need to pack, right?

With an almost empty fridge, I was left to rummage the cupboard to see what I could make to nourish my body and here’s what I came up with, an easy, quick and healthy soba noodle salad that I could even save in the fridge for lunch the next day!

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Ingredients:

Noodles:

  • 1 pack of soba noodles
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • Chopped coriander
  • 1 cup of toasted cashews (in a pan with no oil)
  • 1/2 cup of toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 red chilis (depending on how hot you like it)
  • Almost 2 cups of chopped mushrooms (whatever kind you have), cooked in a pan with no oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic cooked in sesame oil till nice and golden and crispy

Dressing:

  • 1 large tablespoon of creamy peanut butter
  • 1 thumb of ginger, grated
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • Rice vinegar to taste
  • About 3 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • About 1/2 cup of warm water from the soba noodles (adding a little bit at a time)

 

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. First, you need to toast the cashews, sesame seeds, garlic and garlic in pans individually (do not put them together in one pan because you’re lazy, they can and will burn)
  2. Then boil a pan of water and when the water comes to a boil, cook the soba noodles for 5 minutes (or read pack) and then drain and wash with cold water
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients. Add some of the hot water from the noodles a little bit at a time and keep mixing till the dressing is nice and creamy
  4. Add all the ingredients into the bowl and toss till the noodles are mixed with the dressing
  5. ENJOY!

 

Please give this recipe a shot, it’s even easier than it sounds, I promise. Plus it’s perfect for lunch the next day!

It’s healthy, quick and easy! Go Straight-up Bananas with me and give this recipe a shot. Also, please follow me on Instagram by clicking this link 🙂

 

 

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

We all have that one friend or sister that is absolutely obsessed with chocolate. If you don’t know that person, then it’s probably you. This recipe is so delicious AND you can have it done in less than 15 minutes! It’s quick, simple, and healthy. And I promise you, no one will be able to tell the difference.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

1- 1 avocado

2- 1 banana

3- 4 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder

4- 3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey

5- 3 tablespoons of coconut oil

6- A pinch of sea salt

HOW TO GET IT DONE, SON:

This is dead simple. Are you ready?

Just grab all your ingredients, throw them in a blender and blitz. Tada! You’re done! No really, you’re done.

I’d recommend refrigerating it for at least an hour before eating. This recipe is so versatile you can top it with whatever you’ve got on hand. I topped them with raspberries, coconut flakes, and more sea salt because I love the contrast!

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

And, while you’re here, follow me on Instagram please:)

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!