Avocado Penne

 

There’s truly nothing better than coming home to a nice carby bowl of pure love. Problem is, nobody likes the bloat or general feeling of heaviness that inevitably comes after every pasta fest. For years, I’ve been avoiding that feeling by buying pasta made of alternate whole grains, corn or quinoa which not only leave me feeling incredibly light but full of energy too. My basic principle – if it’s a whole carb product with more fibre and protein than sugar- go for it, if it’s not, you’re better off eating a vegetable. This is why the Barilla+ brand is pure genius! all their pastas taste virtually the same as their white counterparts but with a serious boost of healthy Omega-3’s, protein and fibre and very little sugar or added ingredients.  Their penne are absolutely incredible and they pick up sauce like a boss’. My favorite way to eat them is with an avocado “pesto” that I make with middle eastern spices, lemon, garlic and basil. It’s absolutely delicious and the perfect creamy foil to the slightly chewy penne. In a way, it almost makes you feel as if you’re eating an alfredo, but without the dairy and unnecessary fats. Spicy, Sweet, limey and oh so filling, this avocado bowl is truly a dish of love.

Ingredients: (for 2, or 3 not-s0-hungry people)

1 avocado, very ripe

1/2 lime, squeezed and zested

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup basil leaves

1 large garlic clove

1/3 cup toasted walnuts (in a dry pan on high heat, removing from pan when walnuts start perfuming the air)

2 tsp sumac

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tbsp chilli flakes (or to taste)

2 cups barilla plus penne (http://www.barilla.com/content/product/plus-penne)

How to:

  1. Heat a large pot of water with a pinch of salt and a tsp of oil (too keep the penne from sticking) on high heat until boiling.
  2. Add Penne and cook as says on box (12-15 mins usually)
  3. While Penne cook, make the avocado sauce.
  4. First, blend your toasted walnuts until very fine
  5. Add spices and garlic, then your avocado, basil, oil, lime juice and zest
  6. Pulse until completely smooth and creamy
  7. When your penne are al dente, drain and set aside
  8. In a medium serving bowl, toss together penne and sauce, topping with more spices and zest.
  9. Enjoy!

Easiest ever tomato sauce

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This recipe is how the mothers in my family have for generations taught their daughters to make tomato sauce. It’s a ridiculously simple recipe and yet somehow magical in it’s ease, making any dish smothered in the sauce a million times tastier and instantly more nuanced in flavor as it’s the perfect combination of salty, sweet and sour. The sauce takes about 20 minutes to make and lasts for a week in the fridge, although in my house it typically doesn’t even last a day – we use it in everything (and on everything). Add a cup of water and a little extra seasoning and you have soup, puree with some oregano and you have pizza sauce. Add some paprika, sumac and cumin and you have the perfect base for Shakshuka or any curry. Unlike most tomato sauces, this one doesn’t simmer on the stovetop for hours on end so it’s perfect for busy, health-conscious people who don’t want to spend their moolah on expensive organic sauces. In the words of Guy Fieri, I bet it would even taste good on a flipflop.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced very fine

1 tbsp raw sugar

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 large can tomato puree

1 tbsp dried basil (or even better, 1/4 cup fresh, packed basil leaves)

salt and pepper to taste

Good e.v.o.o or garlic oil for drizzling

How to:

  1. Heat a saucepan on medium-hot until oil is hot (it should be easy to move the oil around when tilting the pan)
  2. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds, just enough to perfume the oil and for the garlic to be golden
  3. Add tbsp of sugar and stir quickly, letting the garlic mixture caramelize slightly
  4. Drop in cherry tomatoes, squashing slightly with a spatula and stirring to combine
  5. Once tomatoes are sauteed (1-2 minutes),  add tomato puree.
  6. Lower heat to medium (6 out of 10 on my stove) and let cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add basil, salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  8. When serving, drizzle sauce with a little oil for extra flavor and a beautiful shine

Vitamin Bomb Breakfast Bowl

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This is one of my favorite breakfasts, especially after an evening of heavy food and over-indulgence. The combination of apples and carrots reminds me of my childhood and the coconut, pecans and honey give a sweetness and scent reminiscent of fall. Although mostly raw, this simple combination tastes so decadent, if you closed your eyes you’d swear you were eating carrot cake. Topped with plain vanilla yogurt or coconut yogurt (my new favorite thing!) this Vitamin bomb bowl  (so much vitamin A, B, C, fibre and potassium)  is quite possibly the healthiest and most delicious breakfast you could ever make under five minutes. Not to mention, no fancy machinery, juicers, blenders or shakers to clean! only a grater to wash, or rather, nonchalantly rinse. Lazybums, this ones for you!

Ingredients:

1 large carrot

1 large granny smith apple

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

pinch of salt

3 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

3 tbsp pecans, roughly chopped

2 tsp lemon juice

pinch of salt

How to:

  1. Shred carrot and apple manually with a stand grater and put in bowl
  2. Add spices, lemon and salt and stir
  3. Add coconut and pecans, stir once more

Serve!

So easy right?

Kale, Apple & Zaatar roasted Hazelnut Salad with Pomegranate dressing

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Once upon a time, I wasn’t exactly Kale’s number one fan. I found it bitter, stringy and well, evil-tasting and seeing as I usually had to either cover it in spices or fry it into oblivion, I typically avoided any recipe that mentioned the stuff.  Now, to be completely honest, this bothered me pretty deeply.  How could I hate something so nutritious and angelic and oh-so-praised by every vegan, health-nut and yogi that ever lived?  One day it hit me, if I find raw kale so unappealing, why not try steaming it? Why not try offsetting the bitter with sweet things like nuts and fruit? Why not, I don’t know, treat it like Brussels sprouts?  I looked into my pantry and found hazelnuts and a huge bag of beautiful ambrosia apples from the farmer’s market. Bingo! ten minutes later, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I was eating kale! happily! The pomegranate dressing I used is one I keep in the fridge at all times and it’s especially delicious with bitter vegetables. If you’re anything like me and have a vendetta (had a vendetta..) against kale, I ask you to at least try this delicious and very speedy salad out, who knows, your relationship with kale might have a happy ending after all.

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette (use about 2 tbsp of this and keep the rest in the fridge)
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Hazelnuts
1/4 cup hazelnuts
2 tbsp zaatar
1 tbsp olive oil
Salad
1/2 bunch kale
1 ambrosia apple (or any sweet variety)

How to:

  1. Make vinaigrette, set aside
  2. Roast hazelnuts in microwave (not kidding!) on high for two minutes with olive oil and zaatar, when roasted, scrape of skin and crush with a mortar and pestle or chop with a large blade
  3. Steam kale also in microwave , chop and put into a bowl
  4. Chop apple into thin slices and add to bowl on top of kale
  5. Sprinkle salad with spiced hazelnuts and dressing
  6. Mix well to combine
  7. Enjoy

Nearly Raw Hazelnut Mocha Cupcakes

The problem with becoming an adult is that at times we feel as if we’re ready to take on the world and nothing, much to our distress, seems to be happening, and then other times,  as if overnight, a thousand things begin happening at once and we found ourselves hiding beneath our Ikea bed covers, wishing we were five again and the only thing we have to worry about is which cheese string to bring to school and which teddy-bear to spend the night with.  It’s my final semester of university and I definitely wish I were still in my onesie sipping on a juice box. If I neglect this blog, it’s only because I have a bazillion other things to do, not because I’ve given up on blogging. The only thing that seems to help calm me down, most appropriately, is good ol’ chocolate – and lots of it. Although my taste in chocolate has evolved from loving Hershey style cookies & creme to relishing 80% Valhrona, when I’m anxious, the velvety stuff is still my ultimate pacifier, helping  my worries dissapear and my thoughts turn to mush. What wine is to the typical college student dark chocolate is to me. Without it, well, I’m a blubbery neurotic mess.

These, shall we call them, “cupcakes” are an absolutely delicious and fuss-free way to get your chocolate fix in minimum time with maximum nutrients. They look, taste and smell decadent but are really very simple, comprised mainly of nuts, dates, avocado, honey and coffee beans. If you replaced the honey with agave and didn’t toast the nuts, they would be completely vegan and raw, but seeing as I love the taste of toasted hazelnuts as well as the traditional south American combination of avocado and honey, I personally wouldn’t change a thing.

They are denser than the treats we all grew up with, but these cupcakes are just as rich and sweet, without the insulin rush of refined sugar. They are perfect for dessert, as a pre-exercise snack or even for breakfast with a tall glass of almond milk. The absolute best thing about these nut and date wonders however, (if you’re not hooked on the idea of chocolate bliss yet), is that they taste just like nutella! So if you’re anything like me, go ahead and eat some chocolate. You deserve it, worry-pants. Hakuna Matata, ok?

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup hazelnuts (toasted)

1/2 cup walnuts (untoasted)

1 cup dates, pitted

1/4 cup cocoa powder (or cacao powder)

4 tbsp melted coconut oil

4 tbsp honey

For the chocolate avocado mousse/frosting:

1 avocado

3 tbsp honey

4 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

2 tbsp dark rum (or espresso)

optional coffee beans for decoration

How to:


1. Toast hazelnuts and put into food processor with next five ingredients.
2. Pulse until mixture sticks together and looks like brownie batter.
3. Press equal spoonfuls of cupcake mixture into a standard 12 cup cupcake tin lined with coconut oil.
4. In same processor, mix avocado, cocoa, salt, honey, vanilla and rum until smooth and creamy like chocolate mousse.
5. Top the cupcakes with the mousse and put cupcakes into fridge to set.
6. Decorate with coffee beans and enjoy!