15-minute Greek Eggplant and Feta Pasta for Lunch

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Throughout all this craziness of falling in and out of love with Straight-upBananas for the past 4 months, one thing has remained constant. I still love to cook, and I still looooove to eat — it’s just somewhere in the middle, the whole sharing bit that has me feeling a bit confused.

Yesterday’s easy, quick lunch was one of my favorite go-tos when I don’t know what to have, or my fridge is starting to run on low…pasta!

This pasta dish is garlicky, creamy and oh-so slurping good!

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or a full-on omnivore, this recipe could be tweaked for any kind of quick lunch, dinner or even breakfast (who are you kidding, we all know at some point we’ve had something not very breakfast-y for breakfast — don’t lie).

Ingredients

  • Any type of whole-wheat pasta (I like OrganicLarder)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, sliced
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar (or a squeeze of lemon)
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Chopped dill, basil, or thyme (whichever you like best, or have in your fridge)
  • A sprinkle of good-quality crumbled feta cheese (if not vegan)

 

Here’s how to make it

  • First, make sure you put about 2 liters of water  with a nice amount of sea salt to boil for every two portions of pasta (the equation for the correct ratio per person still eludes me. That photo up there was enough for about 3 people, but I ate all of it…alone.)
  • Second, in a large pan, dry fry* (no oil) your eggplant till it gets nice and nearly charred.
  • Then, add your olive oil to the eggplant, and fry up the garlic till nice and golden. Then, add the tomatoes and vinegar or lemon and let the tomatoes stew up nicely and medium-high heat.
  • To the boiling water, add the pasta and cook as the instructions direct (usually about 7-9 minutes).
  • Add some of the starchy pasta water to the sauce in your saucepan and cook for a few more minutes with the sauce till it get’s nice and creamy and reduces. Add the dill to the sauce.
  • Drain the cooked pasta, and add it to the sauce and mix well.
  • Then, serve the pasta with its sauce, and taste it. Add salt and pepper (keeping in mind that your feta cheese will add a dimension of salt to the dish. So do not overdo the salt).
  • Serve in a plate and crumble some feta on top. If you’re feeling extra frisky and have the time, you could even add some chopped up Greek Kalamata olives to the sauce (again, watch the salt).

*The reason  I like to ‘dry’ fry my eggplants is that eggplants tend to act like a sponge when it comes to absorbing oil or water. When you sort of toast them in the pan, they cook through without absorbing the olive oil–making the sauce a lot lighter and less greasy.

I love this recipe. The flavor is so mousakka-ish, but minus the fried eggplants, and the time-consuming assembly. Plus there’s slurpy pasta there, so that’s a win if I ever did see one — no?

Give this recipe a shot, and give me a little shout out. Did you like it? Did you friggin hate it? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.

And since you’re here…why not follow me on Instagram, too?

 

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!

15-minute vegan chili and garlic pasta

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Yes. You read that right, a 15-minute lunch recipe that’ll have you slurping delicious pasta in as long as it takes you to disgustingly crack all the knuckles of your body (cracking my fingers as we speak, and that’s the only analogy I could come up with).

So this sauce is so simple, that by the time the water for the pasta comes to a boil, and cooks your pasta the sauce is done! Now pay attention, or you just might miss how to make this supersonic sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • 2 mid-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 dried chili (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1/3 cup of good quality olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Boiling hot water
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

 

How to make it:

  • First, put about 1 liter of water to boil with a pinch of sea salt
  • Then, in a separate frying pan, and on medium-low heat, put the pine nuts to toast until golden brown, and remove from pan.
  • In the same pan and olive oil, toast your sliced garlic until nice and golden brown as well.
  • Add the dried chili (again, depending on the heat you like) and fry all together.
  • After, add the capers and let them crisp up a bit.
  • By this time, your pasta water should be boiling, add the pasta and cook until done.
  • In the frying pan, add the tomatoes and cook on medium-high heat until the tomatoes start to cook off (galayit bandora style)
  • Then add the pine nuts, add 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water to the sauce and let cook until it becomes a sauce.
  • Once the pasta is cooked through, transfer it to the sauce and mix well together.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the spinach, sea salt and black pepper. The spinach doesn’t need to be cooked, it’ll wilt from the heat of the pasta and the sauce.

 

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There you go, easy peasy. The beauty of this recipe is that you could add or omit whatever you want. I mean white beans or butter beans go spectacularly well with this dish. I’m sure grilled chicken would go well with it. Once you’ve got a recipe down, the variations you could come up with are endless, seriously!

So that’s that. A 15-minute pasta dish, that only requires 4 dishes (if done right). Since you’re here, why not follow me on the Gram of Insta? Instagram

 

Quick carrot and ginger soup

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After 15 hours of fasting, you’d think that the first thing I’d want to do is dig into a ginormous meal, right? Nah, soup and salad are what I crave all day. I know it sounds strange, but that’s just the way it is. After so many hours of not having anything in your system, your stomach kind of gets used to it — and come iftar time, you’ll find yourself physically incapable of stuffing your face no matter how much you try.

One of my sisters-in-law once made this delicious carrot and ginger soup, so I tried to make my own vegan version minus the cream and the butter.

It’s super simple to make, mega good for you and tastes great. My husband and I finished 4 bowls in one day.

What you need:

  • 1 kilo of carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 handful of raw cashews
  • 1 organic stock cube
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 liter of boiling water
  • 1/2 can of coconut milk (optional, but makes it much creamier)
  • Olive oil

 

How to make it:

  • In a large pot, add some olive oil and add the chopped carrots, spring onions, ginger, and garlic and saute lightly.
  • Then, add the stock cube, cashews, and boiling water and bring to the boil.
  • Simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until you can pierce carrots with a fork.
  • Turn off the heat, add the coconut cream (optional) and with a hand blender, blend the soup together till nice and silky.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • I like to serve pureed soups with a dollop of yogurt and you can top with some fresh coriander or dill.

 

As always, easy peasy.

Let this be a testament that you can get that creamy, hearty soup you’re craving, minus all the nasties from the cream. Give this soup a try, I promise you won’t be missing anything.

Oh, and since you’re here, why not show me some love on Instagram?

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!

6-ingredient vegan pasta dish

Simple spaghetti sauce straightupbananas

My go-to meal when I’m in dire need of groceries and need something wholesome and easy for lunch.

Made of 5 ingredients and in two pots — it’s a win- win for me any day.

Ingredients:

  • Wholewheat pasta of your choice
  • 1 can of organic crushed tomato
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • Green peas
  • Sea salt

 

How to make it:

  • In boiling water with some sea salt, add the pasta and cook as instructed on package.
  • While the pasta is cooking, in a frying pan, add the olive oil and fry the garlic till nice and golden.
  • Then, add the can of crushed tomato and cook together.
  • Add some pasta water to get a nice rich consistency for the sauce.
  • Once the pasta is cooked through, add the pasta to the sauce and cook together then add the frozen green peas making sure not to over cook it.

That’s it, you’re done!

Hey why not visit my Instagram page: @straightupbananas

 

Fresh Citrus Salad

Citrus Salad StraightupBananas

Here it is, ladies and gents — summer in a single salad.

Fresh, insanely easy to put together and nice and light — you can’t go wrong with serving this nice citrusy salad with any meal.

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 grapefruit
  2. 1 navel orange
  3. pumpkin seeds
  4. fennel
  5. chili flakes
  6. watercress (arugula, baby spinach or chard works fine)
  7. olive oil
  8. sea salt
  9. mint leaves

 

How to make it:

  • First, slice the grapefruit and orange as thin as you can without chopping off your fingers.
  • Then, place on the plate you’re going to serve it in.
  • Slice the white part of the fennel onto the citrus
  • sprinkle on the watercress leaves, chili flakes, mint leaves and sea salt
  • drizzle on some olive oil and you’re good to go!

 

That’s it, you’re done! It’s gorgeous, amazingly fresh and the kick of the chili adds just the right flavor to bring this fresh salad all together!

 

Give it a try and follow me on instagram, folks: @straightupbananas

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?

Easy healthy vegan fudge squares

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After almost two weeks of being ill, I am finally back in the kitchen and couldn’t be happier.

After hours of thinking of new recipes to feature on my blog and without the will power to put pants on and go out to get some groceries, I rummaged through my cupboards and fridge and decided to test something out…luckily it proved to be one of the most successful recipes yet…no joke.

They’re crazy simple, really quick to make and are healthy as hell!

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The beauty of this recipe is that you can just store in a container in the fridge and you’ve got a chewy, fudgy snack ready for you at any time.

So I may or may not have cheated just a tad. Last Ramadan Mohanned made an impulsive purchase of date paste. Which is basically dates that’ve been pitted and formed into a paste. I don’t know why it took me so long to venture out and make a dessert using them, but they save LOADS of time. I actually cut the block (which is 1 KG) into fourths and will use one fourth each time I make this recipe. And I will be making it, many, many times. 🙂

I think the beauty of this recipe is that it’s so easy and really versatile. I mean, I literally threw whatever I had in the food processor and so can you (as long as you feel the flavors go together).

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 of the packet of date paste (about a quarter of a KG)
  • 1 handful of toasted coconut
  • 1 handful of granola (or toasted oats)
  • A sprinkle of goji berries
  • 1 handful of banana chips
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini sauce (sesame paste)
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • 3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons of carob powder

 

How to make it:

  1. Throw everything into your food processor
  2. Blend together till everything is nice and crumbly and you can easily form it into a ball with your hands
  3. Line a container with parchment paper
  4. Throw the mixture into the container that’s lined with parchment and press down until firm
  5. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes and then cut them into small squares

As long as you keep these babies in the fridge and properly covered, they’ll be chewy and wonderful for a long time.

Check out my Instagram account, since you’re here 🙂

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 🙂