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! 🙂

 

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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..

Thailand itinerary–Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Yao Yai

I don’t know why it took us so long to finally visit Thailand, but I’m glad that we did and will take advantage of any opportunity I have to go back–there’s just so much to see, experience and taste!

Here’s a look at our 11-day itinerary to visiting Bangkok, Phuket (Panwa and Patong) and Koh Yao Yai.

Day 1

We arrived in Bangkok late at night and had booked a relatively cheap, but clean hotel. We were heading out to Phuket the next morning and so we just needed a shower and a clean bed to sleep on. At 100 AED a night with breakfast and a 20-minute drive from Don Mueang Airport, D Varee Xpress Makkasan Hotel was a very convenient choice. The location was good for getting a taxi to Don Mueang International Airport early the next morning so that we could go straight to Phuket. So there wasn’t much we got to see in Bangkok then, but we did get to stay a few extra days towards the end of our trip.

Day 2

We woke up at the butt-crack of dawn, had breakfast, checked out and headed towards Don Mueang Airport to catch our flight to Phuket via Air Asia. At the airport, we booked a day full of activities (the Monkey Temple, ATV, ziplining, river rafting, lunch, and take services for our entire stay at Phuket and an elephant ride) for about 180 USD for two. To be totally honest, the convenience of having a taxi driver waiting for you at each hotel and dropping you off the piers and whatnot is worth the investment alone.

We arrived in Patong and checked into our hotel. It was clean, cheap and the location was perfect for exploring the hustle and bustle of Patong–plus it was right underneath the night food market which is a win in its own right in my book any day! The Crib Patong checked all the boxes when it came to cleanliness, budget friendliness and good location. I mean, it’s not secret that food in Thailand is incredible, so the being right next to the night market, that night we had about 13 courses! I kid you not, I tried absolutely everything they had to offer–from grilled crocodile to whole shrimp to fried grasshoppers.

Day 3

Our driver came to pick us up in the morning and to take us to our full day of activities. I’d recommend you do your research well when it comes to these things. Some travel agencies get commission based on your purchases and so will cut your actual activities short to take you to some random snake-fight arena so they can get commission on every ticket bought. When we got back to Patong, we headed out to the night market for some grub then hit the infamous red district for a walk into the unknown.

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Day 3

Breakfast. Beach. Massage. Taxi to paradise.

Up until this point, I really wasn’t too sure how I was feeling about Thailand in general. Once we headed for Panwa Beach, I knew I had fallen in love. I totally different vibe than anything in Patong, Panwa Beach is the quietest area with serene beaches–so serene, it feels like your own personal beach. We stayed at Dream Sea Pool Villa and I couldn’t recommend the estate more. If you’re looking for a pause from life, for a place where everything just stands still and is just so beautiful it leaves you speechless, in Phuket this is where you want to be. We got the room right next to the beach, with our own private pool. It was heaven. Pure, utter heaven. I couldn’t believe that just a 30 minute drive away from all the hustle and bustle of Patong, this serene setting existed.

Day 4

We woke up to the crisp sea breeze, and went straight to breakfast. I spent three days in Panwa and my diet solely consisted of fresh coconut water, seafood and sunshine. I didn’t have to wear shoes for three whole days and never realised how liberating that feeling would be. We spent the day lounging around the pool and the beach. Took a few walks. And steps away from the hotel on the beach side, there are only 2 places in the entire area. Lucy’s massage and the little restaurant right next door. Her deep-fried bananas and lemongrass and ginger stuffed prawns were a killer! After your meal, you can go right next door and enjoy a Thai massage right on the beach. I got 4 in three days and fell asleep on the massage bed all four times.

 

Day 5

Last day in Panwa and we spent it eating, getting more massages, kayaking and lounging around the pool. The hotel even arranged for a scrumptious romantic sunset dinner. Absolute bliss.

 

Day 6

I was absolutely heartbroken to have to leave Dream Sea Pool Villas, but alas Koh Yao Yai awaited is and so did our driver. He drove us to Bang Rong pier about 20 minutes away from the hotel and we hopped right on to the tiny, but beautiful island of Koh Yao Yai a mere 30 minutes away from Phuket.

And then it happened. The moment I’d been waiting for my entire life, but didn’t know it. A predominantly Muslim village of fishermen this island is as beautiful as it gets. A handful of hotels inhabit and it’s villagers are kind, loving and simple people that welcome you with open arms.Our hotel, however, was exactly what I’d imagine heaven to look like. 5 months later, and my heart still hurts every time I think of Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort and Spa. It was like walking into a dream that you never want to end.

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Day 7

Once you’re on the island, the only things you really can do are discover the grounds of the hotel, or walk outside of the hotel and rent a motorbike and discover the small island. Within 30 minutes, you’re able to get from one side of the island to the other. We lounged around in our private hot tub and in the room the first day. Just thinking about Santhiya brings a lump to my throat.

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Day 8

We woke up early, went for yoga, had breakfast and then went to explore the island and have (a much cheaper option) lunch.

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And then just like that, it was time to leave again. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t tear up. And I’m not going to pretend that we didn’t try to come up with ways to stay on the island forever. But Santhiya will always have a special place in our hearts and I’ll be back soon–I have to.

Day 9

It was time to head back to Bangkok so we took Santhiya’s ferry straight to Ao Po Grand Marina where we were taken by shuttle bus to Don Maueng Airport. The whole ride took no more than an hour and a half. And then we were in Bangkok again–just like that, a total different world! We checked into our hotel Thee Bangkok Hotel on Sukumvit 20. The red light district, restaurants, markets–all within walking or tuk-tuk distance. Bangkok really is totally different from the islands and it can get to you at times. The plethora of homeless people, prostitution and children begging for money in the wee hours of the night is truly heartbreaking. It kills me to know that modern tourism has exploited their destitution. We arranged for a tour to the Floating Market the next morning.

Day 10

Woke up again at the crack of dawn to go to the floating market. And boy, was that an experience in itself. I highly recommend it–it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before! Old Thai grammies pulling boats closer with her stick so you can buy her fresh coconuts! AMAZING!

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You’ve got to try everything they serve you. Fresh coconut ice cream, deep fried bananas, sticky rice and mango–do not eat before going, because you have to pig out once you’re there.

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Day 11

We explored Bangkok some more and then checked out of the hotel and grabbed a cab to Suvarnabhumi Airport. Give yourself a good 1 and ten minutes to get there, Bangkok’s traffic is tricky.

And just like that our Thai trip was over. There’s only two other trips that I went through a travel withdrawal after–Thailand and Morocco. I can’t wait to go back to both!

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:)

Easy & healthy spiced chocolate chia seed pudding

There’s just something about going to bed knowing that when you wake up a delicious, healthy and easy breakfast will be sitting there just waiting to greet you. It puts a little spring in my step in the morning when my alarm goes off (and by my alarm, I mean my husband’s).

Last night I whipped out one of my trusty mason jars and a few ingredients I had in my pantry and put together this oh-so-delicious and good for you spiced-chocolate chia seed pudding. It’s so ridiculously simple and good I see no reason why I can’t have it every morning!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 2/3 a cup of organic chia seeds
  2. 2 cups of almond, soy or coconut milk
  3. 1 vanilla pod or organic vanilla bean paste
  4. date syrup or honey to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  6. 2 cloves
  7. 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

How to get it done, son:

  • Grab yourself a mason jar or an air-tight container.
  • Dump all aforementioned ingredients in said container.
  • Mix well.
  • Shut container and throw into the fridge.
  • Leave in fridge overnight.
  • In the morning, take out of fridge, plop into bowl and add whatever the heck you feel like adding.
  • Voila! You’re good to go!

You’re going to love this recipe. I promise.

I mean:

  • Chocolate. Check.
  • Cinnamon. Check.
  • Easy recipe. Check.
  • Healthy. Check.
  • Quick. Check.

What more could you possibly want?

Go straight-up bananas with me and give this easy raw, vegan breakfast bowl of goodness a try and let me know how it goes.

Oh, and add me on Instagram!

 

 

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?