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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Vegan veggie tortillas in 15 minutes

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Last weekend was filled with yummy food and I’m not going to lie and say I held back. At all. I so did not. First I had a food review at LeTen, Dubai Mall then I had another at Fume, Pier7 Marina and the food was exceptional at both places and I ate like an absolute pig!

So now, I shall try to atone for my piggie sins and make amends with my Temple by nourishing it back to health.

For breakfast I made these wholewheat tacos that are filled with quite literally whatever I had in my fridge.

Ingredients:

  • Brown beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • Olive oil
  • Lime
  • Zucchini ribbons
  • Grilled beef tomatoes
  • 2 wholewheat tortillas
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Baby asparagus
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sea salt and pepper

 

Here’s how to make them:

– Toast the tortillas
– Mix the brown beans, chickpeas, tahini and olive oil together and mash together
– Layer the bean mixture on the bottom of the tortillas so the rest of the ingredients stick
– Place the rest of the veggies whatever way you want
– Top with some sea salt and pepper and a squirt of lime
Crazy simple and very filling, these tortillas were just the thing I needed to help myself get back on track!
Go Straight-up Bananas with me and give this recipe a shot! And since you’re here, I think you should follow me on Instagram by clicking here 🙂

 

Quick and healthy chocolate pudding bars

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Ramadan. The season of spending your day thinking about food, dreaming about food, cooking food, eating food and contemplating what food you’ll eat tomorrow.

For those of you who know me, you know that an Ahlam who hasn’t slept well or ate well is not a fun Ahlam. My brain gets super foggy…I’m double checking everything I’m writing right now for typos knowing fully well, that months from now I’ll look back at this post and wonder what I was on when I typed it and how any agency every hired me as a copywriter lol. I promise it’s the hunger. And the sleep.

For some reason, though, the only part of my brain that’s still A-Okay during Ramadan, is the part in charge of cooking and thinking of recipes. My culinary creativity just comes alive in Ramadan!

Anyway, long story short, I made these AH-MAZING raw vegan chocolate pudding bars for dessert–they were super easy to rustle together, they taste great and they’re good for you.

If sweet cravings are your thing when you’re fasting, then boy have I got the solution for you!

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Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 1/2 a tablespoon of organic coconut oil
  • 1 cup of almonds (walnuts or pecans also work)
  • A sprinkle of sea salt

Pudding:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or honey, date syrup or agave) (add the sweeteners to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • Strawberries for topping (you could substitute with any fruit, or none at all)

 

How it’s done:

  1. Grab a pan (Whatever shape you want the bars to look in the end) and line it with cling film–this will help you transfer the bars onto a plate to cut without having them crumble.
  2. In a food processor, place all the crust ingredients together and pulse until almonds form a soft meal and the ingredients come together.
  3. Throw the crust ingredients into the pan and press down until the crumbly mixture becomes firm and solid.
  4. Place the crust in the fridge to firm up even further while you make the filling.
  5. In a food processor, mix all the pudding ingredients together until well incorporated and forms a beautiful, silky chocolate pudding.
  6. Pour the pudding over the crust and allow to set in the fridge for at least two hours.
  7. Top with whatever you’d like when serving and cut up into bars.
  8. Enjoy!

 

As far as I’m concerned, there is absolutely no recipe that is set in stone. Go straight-up bananas. Play with it. Add whatever you’re feeling that day! Life’s too short to stick to the stupid rules, especially when it comes to what you want to stuff in your mouth, man.

Just a little heads up, sometimes the dates for the crust can be a bit dry and you’ll find the crust won’t come together–if that’s the case, just add some more coconut oil. If you accidentally add too much coconut oil, then add more almonds to even it out. You got this!

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

K.Thanks.Bye.

Do you have any idea how super easy these raw vegan cashew bars are?

Day 3 of my veggie diet and these beauties have came to life before my eyes.

These are raw vegan strawberry and fig chewy cashews bars. Recipe is up on the blog 🙂

They almost look too pretty to eat…almost…

What are you having for lunch today?

#straightupbananas #raw #vegan #recipe #rawvegan #veganfoodlovers #bestoftheday #bestofvegan #whatveganseat #veganfood #veganfoodshare #vegetarian #fruit #fruitporn #gloobyfood #uae #beautiful #amazing #loveyourself #love #foodpicsbruh #food #foodporn #foodgasm #feedfeed #feedfeedvegan #gloobyfood #buzzfeedfood (at Sufooh Beach)

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)

This one’s an Arabic mouthful. Protein-packed veggie kebab sandwich with all the works!

I may have gotten too carried away in the kitchen today. Just spent a good hour and a half making this vegan lunch for myself.

With the rigorous workout I’ve been doing lately, I need to pack on the protein to build muscle and in the true spirit of being kind to my body I’ve made this Arabic vegan feast.

We’ve got a vegan chickpea and potato “kofta” sandwich doused in pickled red onions and radishes, a dill and cucumber yogurt sauce in some wholewheat pita bread. On the side, I’ve got some vegetarian stuffed grape leaves and some hummus topped with pomegranate!

An absolute mouthful and handful, but it was delicious.

#vegan #whatveganseat #veganfood #veganfoodshare #veganfoodlovers #bestoftheday #bestofvegan #straightupbananas #plantbased #plantpowered #arabicfood #hummus #kebab #sandwich #lunch #food #foodporn #foodgasm #palestinian (at Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Making some #nicecream for breakfast since I’ve got lots of super ripe bananas on hand.

This right here is a swirl of two kinds: a blueberry and raspberry coconut milk nice cream and a cinnamon and banana frozen yogurt. Sounds like a mouthful, but all you’ve got to do is throw the ingredients in a blender and plate the way you want.

Let’s get this day started, shall we?

#straightupbananas #food #foodporn #foodgasm #raw #vegan #fruit #fruitporn #rawvegan #veganfoodlovers #veganfood #veganfoodshare #bestoftheday #photooftheday #breakfast #breakfastinbed #eat #yum #delicious #bananas #workfromhome (at Remraam)