Vegan, healthy and quick pasta primavera

Primavera means spring in Latin. And a pasta primavera is quintessential for any Italian spread during the spring–filled with everything green and plenty of cream, it makes for the ultimate comfort food.

Fortunately for me, my newly-started vegan diet to atone for the food that I ate during the weekend, forced me to come up with my new plantbased spin on the famous Italian dish.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you a foolproof, quick and easy vegan pasta primavera.

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Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 chopped garlic
  • 1 grated zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 2 sprigs of spring onions
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • Sea salt and pepper

Pasta:

  • Buckwheat pasta
  • 3 cloves of garlic, fried till golden in a pan
  • 1 handful of spinach roughly chopped
  • 1 handful of baby asparagus, grilled
  • Zucchini ribbons (you can make these by peeling off the skin of the large zucchini with a peeler)
  • Red chili flakes
  • Sea salt and black pepper

 

How to make it:

  • Make the sauce by mixing all it’s ingredients together and blending with a handmixer till smooth and creamy
  • Cook the buckwheat pasta according to the instructions
  • In a pan, sautee the asparagus first (because it needs more cooking time), then cook down the spinach for a minute.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the zucchini ribbons
  • Remove the veggies and cook the garlic until nice and golden brown
  • Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan along with the fried garlic and veggies
  • Turn off the heat, and add the pasta to a plate with the avocado sauce and mix well
  • If you allow the avocado sauce to touch the heat, it’s vibrant green color will fade
  • Enjoy!

Super simple and super good for you, this plant-based vegan avocado pasta primavera is packed with vitamins and is crazy easy to make. Also, it tastes AMAZEBALLS!

It’s really versatile as well . The beauty of this recipe is that you can use whatever green ingredients you have in your fridge on that day: peas, green string beans…

Go Straight-up Bananas with me and give this recipe a shot! And also, since you’re here, maybe check out my Instagram by clicking this link here? Thank you!

Delicious Palestinian Fatteh in a Jar

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So there was recently a pretty decent dinner/iftar party at the Straight-up Bananas HQ and I accidentally cooked up a storm enough for 10 when in reality we were only 5….Never cook when you’re hungry, I guess. Lesson learnt.

I made a Middle Eastern feast fit for kings and queens, and along with the Moroccan stuffed leg of lamb I recently got from an event with Spinney’s, I also made my rendition of their popular recipe for fettit khobiz, or bread fatteh.

It was actually my first time making fatteh, and probably only my second time eating it (I had only had it with soggy bread and that never felt appealing to me). I decided to make it in a jar, partly because I had ran out of plates and partly because I felt it looked so pretty with all the layers showing.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 slices of day-old Arabic pita bread cut into squares
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Yogurt
  • Tahini
  • 1 can of drained chickpeas
  • 1 minced garlic (very fine)
  • The juice of a lime
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Here’s how it’s done, son:

  1. First, toast the bread in a hot pan until nice and golden brown–a little oil goes a long way, there’s absolutely no possible reason you’d have to deep-fry the bread.
  2. Then, dry toast the pine nuts–dry toasting means that you place them on a skillet without any oil, eventually the natural oils of the pine nut with help toast them up.
  3. In a bowl, mix the yogurt, garlic, lime, olive oil and tahini together to form the yogurt sauce.
  4. In the jar, place the chickpeas on the bottom, layer with pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and yogurt sauce then garlic with some more pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and maybe even a swig of pomegranate molasses.
  5. When you scoop out the layers from the jar and place in your plate, top with the toasted bread–this means each bite is as crispy as it should be!
  6. Go Straight-up Bananas and enjoy!

It’s super simple to make and as long as you don’t add the bread, the jar could last a few days–so you’d be able to make it in advance for any dinner parties you may have.

Go Straight-up Bananas with me and give this a shot, and since you’re here, follow me on Instagram as well, please! 🙂

 

Rainbow coucous salad

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There’s something about cooking up a storm in Ramadan that I find oddly satisfying and I can’t quite pinpoint why–is the anticipation of having something delicious for iftar? Is it the sense of mystery whether or not the food is going to be taste..good? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I love that feeling of spending time cooking a dish and unveiling the flavors only at that first call of “Allahu Akbar”.

Two days ago, I decided that I wanted to cook some chicken and couscous, but was left uninspired on how I wanted to go about it. I pranced into the kitchen and started to ransack the cupboard, looking for anything that I thought might fit the Moroccan flavors I was looking for. Many ingredients and spices later, and I came up with this salad and it was a smashing success 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the couscous:

  • 1 cup of fine couscous
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1 sliced spring onion
  • Coriander
  • A pinch of seasalt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of red chili flakes

For the toppings:

  • Toasted almonds
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • More coriander
  • Mint leaves
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Grilled chicken breasts (seasoned with sea salt, cinnamon, chili flakes, sumac and zaatar)
  • Grilled halloumi cheese
  • Sliced olives
  • Baby spinach
  • Grilled sweet potatoes

For the sauce:

  • Yogurt
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • Coriander
  • The juice of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini

 

How to prepare:

  1. In a glass bowl, place the couscous along with all the couscous ingredients and fill with 2 cups of boiling hot water. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and let set for 10-15 minutes.
  2. After the couscous has set, remove the  plate or plastic wrap and with a fork lightly fluff the couscous.
  3. In a large flat plate, place the warm couscous and layer on the toppings. To ensure that each bite is tasty, mix half of the topping ingredients together with the couscous and leave the rest for the top.
  4. Pour yourself a few spoonfuls and layer on the yogurt sauce.
  5. ENJOY!

 

I know it feels like it may be a lot of ingredients, but I can’t tell you how delicious this dish is. You could eat it warm on the spot, or enjoy leftovers the next day–it’s absolutely delicious!

Go Straight-up Bananas with me and give this recipe a shot! And since you’re here, why not follow me on Instagram and SnapChat (ahlam.al1)?

 

Tropic Fruit Rolls with a Yogurt-Turmeric Sauce

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I’ve got a real issue when it comes to fruit–I love ’em, but sometimes that sad little old orange could sit in the fruit bowl for days on end without me touching it only because I can sometimes, sorta be a lazy bum. If it’s washed, cut and ready in front of my face, I’ll have at it, if it’s not, I procrastinate until the poor little old orange whithers away and dies. Morbid…I know.

With Ramadan right around the corner, and plenty of Ramadan menu tastings happening, I’m trying my best to eat clean (especially the days I work from my home office).

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you these beautifully satisfying healthy Tropic Fruit Spring Rolls–TADAAAA!

Here’s what you’ll need:

For fruit rolls:

  • Any fruit you’ve got on hand, sliced very thinly. I used bananas, kiwis, orange and strawberries
  • Rice paper

For sauce:

  • 1/3 a cup of cultured yogurt
  • Organic maple syrup (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of organic turmeric powder

 

How to make ’em:

  1. Fill up a big ol’ bowl of hot water and leave to cool down just enough for you to be able to put your hands in it and not boil your fingertips
  2. Grab your rice papers and submerge in the water for about 30 seconds or until the edges start to curl up a bit
  3. Carefully take the rice paper out of the water and place it on a plate
  4. Layer your fruits on to the rice paper
  5. Start rolling by bring in the sides and roll
  6. For the sauce, dump all the sauce ingredients into a little bowl and mix
  7. Serve, grab and dunk in sauce–good times..

Easy raw strawberry fig cashew bars

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So I’ve made quite a few cashew bar posts over the years, but it’s only because I love them and they’re so utterly versatile you can make with whatever fruit you have in season–now, why wouldn’t I keep posting them, hmmm?

These easy, raw vegan strawberry and fig cashew bars could be in and around your mouth sooner than you’d think.

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • ½ dates
  • ½ almonds
  • pinch of sea salt

Filling:

  • ¾ cup of raw soaked cashews
  • ¼ cup of agave nectar, maple syrup or honey if not vegan.
  • ½ the juice of a lemon
  • ¼ + 1 tbspn of full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1 tspn of vanilla extract
  • Frozen strawberries
  • Fresh figs or strawberries for topping

Top with any fresh fruit you’ve got on hand. I topped some with figs.


HERE’S HOW IT’S DONE, SON:

1) Line you loaf tin with cling film so that you can easily remove the cashew bars from the mold without it crumbling into  pieces.

2) In your food processor, process the dates, almonds, and salt until it forms a crumbly crust.

3) Throw crust into the loaf tin and press down until very firm.

4) In a blender, blend all the filling ingredients for 2-3 minutes until silky smooth and poor over the crust. If you’d like to make two layers like the picture above, just blend everything except for the strawberries together and pour half of the mixture into the loaf tin, then add the strawberries to the remainder of the cashew mixture (now it should be nice and pink) and pour on top of the white cashew mixture.

5) Bang the tin on your counter top a few times to get any air bubbles (and aggression) out.

6) Top with the fresh figs or strawberries and cover with cling film.

7) Place in the freezer to set for 4-5 hours.

8) When you’re ready to have a piece, take it out at least 15 minutes before eating so that it doesn’t freeze your teeth off.


There! Easy, peasy! Please, please give it a go and let me know how you liked it.

Oh, and follow me on Instagram since you’re here @straightupbananas

Roasted sweet potato fries

Healthy sweet potato fries

I love fries as much as the next person. Fries are my kryptonite. I’ve recently fell head over heels in love with sweet potato fries (I can’t believe I ever hated them when I was a kid) and they’re just the perfect healthy, easy and quick alternative.

After roasting the sweet potatoes, I sprinkled on some sea salt and spring onions and served them with leftover avocado and yogurt mousse from last night’s dinner. You can find the recipe for that here.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of flour or corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • sea salt

The method behind my madness:

  • Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into fries
  • Soak the fries in water for a few hours (preferably overnight to get extra crunchy fries)
  • Preheat the oven to 150C degrees
  • Drain the sweet potatoes and dry them on a paper towel
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  • In a bowl, put the sweet potatoes, corn starch, garlic and olive oil and mix well
  • Line the baking tray with the potatoes and put in the oven
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the fries and bake for another 3-5 minutes
  • Take out of the oven and taste to see if you need more sea salt
  • Top with spring onions

 

Voila!  These crunchy roasted sweet potato fries are the easiest, healthiest simplest are a wonderful alternative to regular deep fried French fries, and they’re absolutely loaded with flavor!

Go straight-up bananas with me and give this recipe a shot–you will not regret it, promise!

Oh, and since you’re here, follow me on Instagram please!

 

Tropical-fruit mango and turmeric vegan cheesecake

Vegan turmeric mango cheesecake

Yes, it’s yet another raw vegan cashew cheesecake, folks. And you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t like them just as much as I do, now would you?

This cheesecake is processed sugar free, colorant free and full of healthy goodness like the mega antioxidant turmeric and mangos.

Once you get the flow of these raw vegan cheesecake recipes, it’s so easy to pimp it up as much as you want. I love it, it’s like the perfect base for so many things!

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the crust:

  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil
  • A sprinkle of sea salt

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons of turmeric
  • 1 can of fullfat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup of maple syrup, agave nectar or honey
  • the juice of one lime
  • 250g (a whole pack) of cashews soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 2 mangos
  • fresh fruit for topping
  • a pinch of sea salt

How to get it done:

First things first, you’ll need one of those cake or tart tins with a removable bottom.

Place all the crust ingredients into a food processor and blitz till nice and crumbly.

Put the crust mixture into the tin and press it down firmly.

Then, in a blender place all the filling ingredients EXCEPT for the turmeric, mango, and fruit for topping.

On a high speed, blend the ingredients together till creamy and no longer lumpy.

Pour half of the mixture into the cake tin and then add the mango and turmeric to the remaining mixture and blitz again till mango and turmeric are combined. (You should get a yellow shade of cashew cream)

Pour the yellow cashew cream on top of the white, and swirl around as much as you’d like to get the marbled effect.

Place in freezer for about 4 hours.

Before slicing and serving, take out of the freezer and let the cheesecake thaw out at least 20 minutes (no one wants to bite into ice. Oh and please don’t forget it out or it will collapse).

When ready to serve, add your choice of fresh fruit on top.

There you go! Easy Peasy! You’re going to love this cake. And no one needs to know that: A) It’s good for you. B) It’s not a real cheesecake. C) It’s got turmeric in it, ’cause that’ll just turn people off from the idea of having dessert for some reason.

Try this easy, quick and healthy raw vegan mango and turmeric cheesecake now! All the ingredients can be found in any regular supermarket in Dubai, it doesn’t necessarily call for a trip to the Organic Shop or whatever.

Go straight-up bananas with me and give this a try.

Oh and my Instagram account awaits a new follower in the form of you! Click this here link, matey. Aaargh.

 

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:)

Simple, chunky vegan Mexican tomato soup

Here’s my rendition of a very easy, very quick and healthy Mexican tomato soup that J.O. did in one of his episodes of ’30 Minute Meals’. This recipe is my go-to recipe when I’m craving a soup that is easy to make, yet super hearty. You throw a few ingredients in a pot, boil them for a few minutes and puree them and you’re good to go!

I know this has been said way too many times in the history of food, but without Jamie Oliver and my abuelita, I honestly do not think I would’ve ever grown to love cooking as much as I do. I’ve got distinct memories of being 11 years old and having my eyes glued to the screen of what was then called ‘The Naked Chef’. It goes without saying that till this day, 15 years later, I am still constantly inspired in the kitchen by the both of them.

The thing I love most about this recipe is that it’s super versatile. You could use it as a base for pretty much anything. Make the soup a bit chunkier and you’ve got a killer salsa for your tortilla chips, substitute cilantro for basil and voila it’s an Italian version of the soup–you really cannot go wrong with this recipe in your repertoire.

Vegan Mexican tomato soup

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 2 cans of organic crushed tomatoes
  2. 2 cubes of organic bouillon stock
  3. 4 roasted bell peppers
  4. 4 sprigs of diced spring onions
  5. 3 cloves of garlic
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  7. 1 liter of hot water
  8. A handful of rice (even leftover pre-cooked rice works out fine)
  9. Chopped cilantro stalks
  10. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  11. The juice of a lime for taste
  12. Optional toppings: cilantro leaves, sliced jalapenos, cultured yogurt, cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, smashed avocado, guacamole (to name a few)

Here’s how to make it:

  • First, in a pot add all the ingredients except for the salt, pepper and lime juice (and the ingredients for the topping…duh)
  • Cover in pot and allow to simmer on medium-high heat for about 10-14 minutes (until rice is fully cooked)
  • Grab your handheld blender (or pour into a regular blender) and blitz until it’s reached the consistency you like. We like ours silky smooth, but it’s up to you.
  • Taste the soup and add lime, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with whatever the heck you’ve got on hand.
  • Enjoy the crap out of this one, because it’s a bonafide winner!

I cannot stress how much I love this recipe! I make it almost once a week and I’m yet to hear a complaint about the frequency of the dish.

It’s delicious, easy and super quick to put on the table. Go straight-up bananas with me and give this recipe a shot.

Oh, and since you’re here…why not follow me on Instagram by clicking this little link right here?

 

 

 

Tortilla Baskets Filled with a Mango and Avocado Salad

Ever had one of those lazy Sunday mornings where all you want to do is lounge around in your PJs in your soft bed with the most extravagantly beautiful, but also ridiculously-simple-to-put-together breakfast ever? Around here in the Straight-up Bananas HQ that happens a little more than I’d care to admit. Last Sunday I decided to have these super clean, super easy and super quick baked tortilla baskets with a mango and avocado salad topped with some smoked tuna for breakfast and I couldn’t care less that I was having some pimped up leftovers from last night’s dinner.

Oh, and remember that day when it rained gatos y perros in Dubai? Ooooof course you do, because it’s 1 week later and we’re still constantly hearing about it, non?

Anyhoo, that was the day I decided to make a Caribbean feast so grand that the gloominess outside could never get to me! And boy, did it go well! I made a Caribbean dinner fit for a king with the husband and had the leftovers for breakfast the next day and I ain’t even made.  I made my own rendition of Lorraine Pascal’s Caribbean 3 course meal with baked tortilla baskets as the starters, the sweet potato and fish coconut curry with homemade rye roti as the main and a killer spiced chocolate cake for dessert. Oh. Dear. Lawd.

Take a look at these hot mamas! Breakfast in bed never looked this sexy!

Tortilla Baskets

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 4 corn tortillas
  2. 1 can of kidney beans
  3. 1 diced ripe mango
  4. 1 diced ripe avocado
  5. The juice of 1 lime
  6. A handful of chopped cilantro
  7. 1 diced crunchy bell pepper (I used an orange one)
  8. A pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste
  9. A glug of extra virgin olive oil
  10. Chopped spring onions

 

Here’s how it’s done, son:

  • First, preheat your oven on medium heat.
  • Then, cut your tortillas into quarters.
  • Then, lightly coat the tortillas with some oil so that they get nice and crispy in the oven.
  • In a muffin tray, stuff two of the tortilla quarters in and put to bake for 10 minutes or until tortillas are golden and crunchy.
  • While the tortillas are baking, you can make the salad by combining all the ingredients above.
  • Once the tortillas are nice and golden brown remove them carefully from the muffin and let cool.
  • Once the tortilla baskets are cooled down and you’re ready to serve, scoop in some of your salad.

If you’re not thinking of eating the baskets immediately, do not put the salad in or else it’ll get super soggy. For this breakfast in bed, the tortilla baskets were already made the night before and the mango and avocado salad was already in a mason jar so I just assembled them and tried to make them a bit more breakfasty by serving them with some smoked tuna and a soft-boiled egg on the side.

You will knock your guest’s socks off with this one. They look so damn pretty that one would think they’d take hours of slaving over a hot stove and a rediculous amount of culinary prowess to get done, but they couldn’t be more wrong. You’ll have these easy, quick and clean babies in and around your mouth within 15 minutes!

Go straight-up bananas with me and give this recipe a shot.

Oh, and since you’re here…why not follow me on Instagram by clicking this little link right here?