Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

First new recipe of the new website! Woohoo!


A.k.a. what I’ve been eating everyday for lunch since I got back from Europe last week. It’s THAT good. This recipe has been swimming in the depths of my mind since we visited Rome about 3 weeks ago. There was an authentic Italian all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant about 500m down the road from the hostel we were staying at. So on a sunny Tuesday evening (it was 30°C, full sunshine at 7 pm, can you imagine?!) we paid a visit to this beautiful establishment. For €11 I got to enjoy a refreshing Mimosa, the scenic views of downtown Rome and all the delicious risotto, biscuits, pasta and bean salads as I could eat. How’s that for a bargain?



Believe me, there was a ridiculous number of items on offer. Pasta in tomato sauces, pasta in various pestos, pasta of all different shapes and sizes- I’m surprised I didn’t gain 2 jean sizes from just looking at it. There was one particular salad that had my tastebuds raving. A grain similar to orzo pasta, oodles of fresh herbs, juicy red tomatoes and a dressing to die for. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, I was browsing recipes from different cultures and BAM, it was there.




Tabbouleh. The same life changing salad I had had in Rome. So of course I made it to relive a great memory. Then I made it again with a couple of tweaks to suit my taste. Then I made it again because I really enjoyed it- and you know what happens after that.


This salad makes the perfect weekday lunch, it will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and it’s also a fabulous addition to your Sunday lunch! Hold on, I think I’ve still got some leftovers in my fridge…..

Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley and fresh mint, finely chopped
  • a handful of dried apricots, chopped finely
  • a handful of chopped pecans
  • a handful of chopped sliced almonds

Method

  1. Add the dry couscous to a small Pyrex baking pan. Cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Add ½ tsp of salt and a drop of olive oil to the couscous. Stir well with a fork to combine. Cover the baking pan with aluminium foil and seal tightly. Let sit at room temperature or in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Make sure you’re happy with the texture- if too wet, leave it in uncovered a warm oven for another 5 minutes, if too dry then add a tablespoon of water and fluff again.
  2. Whilst the couscous is soaking, prepare the dressing. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a small jug and allow to sit at room temperature. Taste the dressing to make sure you’re happy with it, if it’s too bitter then you can add a teaspoon of warm honey to improve the flavour, though I usually don’t find this necessary.
  3. Once the couscous is done and you’re happy with the texture, transfer it to a salad bowl or the dish you’re going to serve it in. Top with the tomato, cucumber, onion, fresh herbs, dried apricots, pecans and almonds. Use a salad spinner or 2 forks to toss the tabbouleh and evenly distribute the veggies.
  4. Drizzle in the dressing when you’re ready to serve and briefly toss the tabbouleh again. Serve with hummus or add to your meze platter! Enjoy!
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Spicy Carrot Spinach Cakes with Avocado Dressing

Lets get down to business. 

You’ve heard me talk about the produce in my mother’s vegetable garden? Of course you have, I’ve only been talking about it for the ages. We’ve got spinach, carrots, tomatoes, leeks and onions! For previous posts about these groegiurs veggies, check out these Carrot Cake Pancakes and these Spinach Falafel. For today, we’re going to talk about how I used the spinach and carrots to prepare your next greatest lunch project.


I’m on a roll right now as far as meatballs and patties are concerned. Falafels, burgers, meatballs, I’m really taking advantage of all the vegan foods. Now it’s no fun to just throw a couple of vegetables in a food processor, pulse and throw it in the oven. No my friends, we have to make it interesting! That’s where the various spices I’ve thrown in here come in. Added bonus: they really bolster the nutritional value of this dish. Trust me when I tell you that you need to get into adding spices to your food. Take for example this Golden Spiced Pineapple Cooler I made a couple of weeks ago. It’s delicious, insanely healthy for you and has a gorgeous colour! So before you start to think twice about the number of spices involved in this dish, remember how every little ingredient contributes to the goodness of these cakes. 


These carrot cakes are delicious tucked into a pita or between 2 pieces of naan with a side of roasted vegetables. The avocado sauce is a must and helps take some of the heat off if you find that they’re too spicy for you. Make these in bulk and freeze just before baking so that you can defrost and cook as you need them! Enjoy! 


Spicy Carrot Spinach Cakes with Avocado Dressing

Ingredients

For the carrot spinach cakes:

  • 1 cup dried red or brown lentils
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 cup rolled oats, divided in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach 

For the avocado dressing:

  • 1 whole avocado, roughly mashed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice 
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • A handful of sliced almonds 

Method 

Start with the carrot spinach cakes: 

  1. Add the lentils to a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Cook on medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until they have soaked up all the water and are soft. Remove and allow the cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the carrots, cooked lentils, 1/2 cup of the rolled oats, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Pulse a couple of times until the ingredients are well combined and you have a thick batter. 
  2. Remove the batter to a large bowl. Add the other half cup of oats, bicarbonate of soda, cumin, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and spinach. Use a large wooden spoon to blend all the ingredients together, making sure that there are no pockets of dry spice. 
  3. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper/aluminium foil and preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Grab a heaping tablespoon of the carrot spinach mixture and shape into a patty with your hands. It’s much easier if your hands are damp. Add each patty to the baking sheet as you form them, making sure to leave some space in between them. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Serve hot with the avocado dressing, some naan and extra roasted veggies. Enjoy!

To make the avocado dressing:

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Keep leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 10 days. 

Spinach and Feta Pesto Muffins

This recipe was originally posted on the 9th August 2016, but was updated with new photos and reposted on the 10th of May 2017. For the original photos, scroll to the bottom of this blog post. 

Killer combos: balsamic vinegar + honey, pasta + pesto, spinach + feta

Today, I decided to get you back onto the healthy wagon having tempted you with these killer chocolate chunk cookies, heavenly rich thick milkshakes and perfectly cooked French fries. We’re going to try and be healthy, okay? I’d also like to debunk this myth that healthy and tasty are mutually exclusive. These spinach and feta pesto muffins are everything you could ever want: an extremely light crumb, bursting with flavour in every bite and extremely filling. Loaded with the super food spinach, these could not be any healthier. It just happened to be a coincidence that these muffins are also sugar-free.


Let me dress down this superior vegetable just so you can see how amazing it is.

1. It turns Popeye into a superhuman.

Are you hoping to increase your gains in the gym? They say that abs are built in the kitchen and not the gym, so look no further than this lean green muscle building machine! Spinach: taking Popeye from 0-100 in 0.4 seconds since 1929.

Meal planning tip: make these muffins on a Sunday and freeze them. Defrost as needed for a grab and go breakfast.

2. It’s loaded with all sorts of great things such as iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B2 and folic acid. What that means for you: increased energy, stronger bones and lower blood pressure.

3. It can be used to make these bomb-ass muffins


The only thing I can fault spinach for is how much it shrinks. Uncooked spinach is roughly 25% water. That explains why this happens whilst making these muffins. I used my Simple Spinach and Parmesan pesto  to give these muffins that lovely dark green colour. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare the pesto, but if you’re seriously short on time then you don’t have to make it.


Spinach and Feta Pesto Muffins                                                               makes 10-12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 and ½ cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp spinach pesto, homemade or store bought (optional)
  • ¾ cup feta cheese, cut into cubes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease 12 muffin cups, you can also line them with parchment paper to give it a more fancy look. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and paprika.
  2. Add the milk, oil and eggs to a separate smaller bowl and whisk until combined. If you’re using fresh spinach, add it to a colander and pour boiling water over the spinach until reduced in size by about 50%. Now squeeze the spinach to get all the water out. By the time you’re done squeezing, the ball of spinach you’ll be left with will be no bigger than a child’s fist. Carefully add the reduced spinach to the egg mixture and stir until the spinach is incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture into the middle. Use a rubber spatula to mix the two together to obtain a thick batter. Drop the tablespoons of pesto into the batter and gently stir it in to yield a dark green colour. Don’t be tempted to mix the pesto completely in, it’s okay if there are streaks of it in the batter.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes before consuming warm. These can also be eaten at room temperature. Store in a cool dry place for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, microwave on high for 40 seconds or place in a warm oven at 200°C for 5 minutes.


The Best Pasta Sauce

It’s really funny how this one came about.


At the end of last year, my dad brought home about 30 tomatoes. No joke, my kitchen was overflowing with this bright red fruit (vegetable?). I honestly feel uncomfortable calling a tomato a fruit, it just doesn’t feel right.


If you’ve read my post on this simple spinach and parmesan pesto, you’ll know that I love pasta from my head to-ma-toes. It’s honestly the best thing on this planet, next to chocolate of course. If there are two things that are meant to be together in this world, they are pasta and tomatoes. To be more specific, tomatoes that have been simmered for a couple of hours, with fresh fragrant herbs mixed in to give it that enticing aroma and I am going to stop before I drown in a pool of my own drool. Tomato sauce is okay, marinara sauce is great but this version is the best. After many weeks of tweaking and adjusting, I have finally come up with the variation of this sauce that I love the most.


Once made, don’t keep this to yourself, share it with others! I have a friend who brings pasta to school every single day for lunch. I have known him for 4 years now, and he’s still bringing pasta to school. No joke. Every day without fail, one of his parents will deliver a lunchbox with pasta to school. Just to mix things up a little, I decided to give him a jar full of this sauce to try out at home. I can confidently assure you that it received his stamp of approval and it’s the reason why you see this post up today. Shout out to all my pasta lovers out there.



The Best Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-8 medium fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (IN CASE OF EMERGENCY use 3×14 oz tinned tomatoes, but the taste won’t be nearly the same)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • a handful of fresh rosemary (may sub 2 tsp dried rosemary)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn (may sub 2 tsp dried basil)
  • a handful of fresh oregano (may sub 2 tsp dried oregano)

Method

Heat a heavy bottomed cast iron pot on high and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Fry the onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and herbs. Give the tomatoes a quick stir and season with salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down released their juices. If you’d like your sauce to be chunky, then great news, you’re all done! Store in a sterilised glass jar in the fridge for up to a month. If you’d like a smooth sauce then add the contents of the pot to a blender and puree for 2 minutes or until there are no longer any large tomato pieces before adding to a glass jar for storage. Use in pastas, as a base for pizza or as a sandwich spread (as my friend recently started doing). Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Chai Quinoa Granola Bars

I’m falling in love with chai spice.


There’s something magical about this particular combination of spices. Whether it comes from their insane health benefits, how good they taste together or the fact that it can be applied to any dish and make it 100× better. Especially when there’s chocolate involved.


Enter: these granola bars. Easy grab on the go snacks. They’re perfect just before a workout, during a long road trip or whenever you need a pick-me-up. They’re also ridiculously easy to make. They’re easily customised, so you can add whatever takes your fancy here. I’m talking coconut chips, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, dried fruit, whatever you like! Need a weekend project? These bars- RIGHT NOW!!!


Chocolate Chai Quinoa Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • ½ cup flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp coconut oil

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or aluminium foil, leaving an overhang so that you can remove the bars. In a large bowl, combine the oats, quinoa, almonds, chia seeds, cardamom, pepper, ginger and cinnamon. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl. combine the almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla essence. Microwave for 30 seconds before whisking to combine. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the almond butter mixture into the centre. Use a wooden spoon to fold the wet ingredients into the dry.
  3. Dump the mixture into the square pan and press down into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes or until set and remove to cool. Once the bars have cooled, use the parchment overhang to pull the bars out of the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 bars.
  4. Add the chocolate and coconut oil to a small bowl. Microwave in 20 second increments, whisking after each, until melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the sliced bars. Leave for 5 minutes to set before indulging. Enjoy!

Golden Chai-Spiced Pineapple Cooler

If you can’t tell, I’m desperately holding on to the remnants of summer.


On one hand I’m excited for the hot chocolate and pot pies, but on the other hand, I’m reluctant to let go of the fruity drinks and endless fields of flowers. Frankly, there isn’t that big of a difference between winter and summer in Zimbabwe. The mornings and evenings get much colder and the rains stop, but besides that it’s still blazing hot in the daytime. Sure, the lack of rain means that anything green or colourful dries up and dies but it’s otherwise all the same to us. My wardrobe doesn’t change and neither do my activities, but just so that we can feel that we are in a different season, our eating habits change and we light up the fireplace. There’s no place like home.


Anyways, we have this drink that tastes luscious but is also incredibly good for your health. It’s filled with all the antioxidants and the good stuff, here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Turmeric: is mega loaded with vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. Has also been proven to reduce acne (Lord knows I need it), have anti-inflammatory properties and improves digestion
  • Ginger: has been proven to reduce muscle soreness, reduce your risk of stroke and cardiovascular related diseases as well as boosting your immunity to everything from bacterial infections to cancer!
  • Cardamom: helps with heartburn, constipation as well as reducing blood pressure
  • Cinnamon: prevents tooth decay and gum disease, controls blood sugar levels, can assist in weight loss and surprisingly also works as a headache relief!

These are just a few of the wondrous properties to be gained from ingesting these spices, I encourage you to reap the benefits by preparing a batch of this today!

Golden Chai-Spiced Pineapple Cooler

Ingredients

  • 1× 14 oz tin pineapple chunks
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • a whole thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • ½ cup coconut water

Method

Add the pineapple, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, black peppercorns and ginger to a large saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil then simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes. Dissolve the turmeric in the infused water. Strain the liquid into a glass jar and refrigerate for an hour. Discard the cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns and ginger. In a food processor, blend together the spiced pineapples and coconut water until you have a thick smoothie. Refrigerate for an hour.

When both mixtures are cold, pour the pureed pineapples into the chai water and stir until fully dissolved. The solution will turn a beautiful golden colour! Serve over ice cubes, and toast to summer!

Spicy Marinated Halloumi and Veggie Wraps

I can’t believe that it took me this long to get into halloumi.


I’d never really been big on cheese, unless it was on pizza or in pasta. On the other hand, my mum eats either camembert or brie as a post-dessert palette cleanser. It’s also an excuse for her to drink wine and feel fancy. Sigh, the things that go on in my house.


To be fair, this lunch spread was an excuse for me to feel fancy. In an effort to terrorise my mother, I’ve been using various wooden bowls ,that previously housed ornaments, as crockery for my food shoots. Because aesthetic, obviously.


I’ve also been bullying my brother into posing for me. In case you couldn’t tell, the background of this photo is his penguin onesie, the new love of his life. Last week he got a break when my neighbour volunteered his hand for this vegan pot pie recipe. This week, he wasn’t as lucky.


This was shot on one of those days that I just felt like cooking. I roasted some chopped potatoes with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, mixed herbs and S&P; threw together a quick strawberry basil salad and rolled up these kick-ass wraps to go with them. How’s that for a healthy balanced lunch?


Spicy Marinated Halloumi and Veggie Wraps                                            makes 2-4 wraps

Ingredients

For the halloumi:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • a pinch salt and black pepper
  • 100g halloumi, sliced into small rectangles

For the wraps:

  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • ¼ cup sliced strawberries (optional)
  • 2-4 tortillas

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, chilli powder, garlic powder, oregano, S & P. Add the halloumi and toss until coated. Set aside for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the filling.
  2. Combine the grated carrot, spinach, basil and strawberries in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Divide the veggie mixture between the tortillas, on one side only.
  3. Heat a skillet on high heat and fry the halloumi for 2-3 minutes on each side or until crispy. Top the veggies with the halloumi and roll up to create your wraps. I like to pan fry my wraps for a minute on each side just to warm the filling and create that beautiful grill pattern but this is completely optional. Serve and enjoy!