Healing Savoury Turmeric Pancakes

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The past two weeks have been quite intense for me as I’ve been recovering from a concussion. I’ve been feeling rather nauseous followed by migraines, shoulder and neck pain so as a result I’ve been eating and drinking as much turmeric, ginger and cacao as possible to help heal myself naturally. As I was feeling much better today I was inspired to make us some savoury pancakes for brunch and decided to add in some turmeric, as a precautionary measure for the pain, and I’m pleased to say that they ended up tasting great (husband approved) so thought I’d share them with the world!

If you haven’t heard of all the incredible healing properties of turmeric here’s one example. It’s a great anti-inflammatory and has been used in many cultures for hundreds of years due to these specific effects which are caused by the chemical curcumin, that gives it the prominent yellow pigment. Recently studies have shown that it’s just as effective as taking synthetic anti-inflammatory medication and when combined with black pepper it’s bioavailability is boosted making this wonderful golden spice much more potent and effective in healing the body.

So here’s a quick recipe which is 100% plant based, gluten free and wonderfully healing. You can get inventive with the toppings and add whatever you have at home. we had left over mung bean curry from dinner last night so decided to use it again, this can be substituted with cooked lentils, chickpeas or left out completely and enjoyed simply with the avocado and cherry tomatoes.

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Ingredients (Makes 6)

Pancakes
3 flax “eggs” (1 flax “egg” = 1 Tbs ground flaxseeds : 3Tbs water)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 cups water
Couple pinches Himalayan pink salt
Pinch of cracked black pepper
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

Toppings
1 ripe Hass avocado, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh parsley
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Cooked mung beans/lentils (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Make the flax eggs by combining the ground flaxseeds with water in a bowl, stir to get an even consistency and place in the fridge to set (about 10-15 mins).

Heat up your pan (preferably a non toxic non-stick pan like these) on medium – high heat.

Combine all the pancake ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Once the pan is nice and hot pour a ladle full of the mixture into the pan, using the back of the ladle to spread the batter out making it nice and even. Leave to cook for 3-4 mins, then flip and cook for another 2 mins. Repeat until you’ve finished all the batter.

Heat up the coked beans or lentils if you’re using them. Pour 1/2 the lime juice and a pinch of salt to the thinly sliced avocado . Put the chopped cherry tomatoes in a small bowl along with the rest of the lime juice, sesame oil and a pinch of salt & pepper.

Add a little bit of each topping to your pancake and fold it over for a fancy looking crepe or add A LOT of each topping and eat it messily (my preference).

Enjoy!

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Chickpea coconut curry with seasonal greens


This is a deliciously comforting meal to keep you warm in the winter months, my definition of comfort food. It is inspired by my  Iranian culture and travels to Sri Lanka & India. It’s also 100% whole food plant based made with nothing but pure goodness. I’ve recently started an online course in plant based nutrition with the Center for Nutrtion Studies founded by Dr. T Colin Campbell and it is such a joy to enhance my knowledge of this lifestyle. It has also influenced my food choices, I’m eating more greens than usual and using a lot less fat. The studies in this field are absolutely incredible and it’s so interesting to see how much research has been done in the field of plant based nutrition, especially in relation to chronic diseases. I would suggest reading Whole by Dr. Campbell or watching one of his many talks online if you’re curious to know just how much our diet affects our health.

Anyhow moving on to the recipe!

The rice and tahdig, crispy Persian rice literally meaning bottom of the pot, are made in a rice cooker. I’ve found that this is the most foolproof, and fuss-free way of making it without burning the rice. However if you don’t have a rice cooker you can also use a non stick pot, preferably a non toxic one like the ones Green Pan make. Follow the instructions to cook the rice as stated below, then when it comes to making the tahdig, make sure you cook the rice on low heat so that it doesn’t burn. I admit this is quite an art and gets better with experience and much easier if you use a rice cooker!

The greens can easily be replaced with whatever is in season in your part of the world.

(Serves 6)
*Use organic ingredients where possible

Curry
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch fresh turmeric, diced or 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 inch fresh ginger, diced or1/2 tablespoon ginger powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
6 plum tomatoes or 3 vine tomatoes, diced
1 kohlrabi, skinned & diced or 1 medium potato
4 teaspoons coconut butter
2 cups cooked chickpeas, I used brown chickpeas
4 mustard leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
6 spinach leaves, chopped

Coconut Rice & Tahdig
4 cups brown basmati rice
2 cups dried shredded coconut (unsweetened, organic)
8 cups water
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or another high smoke point oil)

Coriander vegan “yoghurt”
1 cup fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
2 handfuls cashew nuts
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon Apple cidre vinegar
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
Pinch of sea salt & black pepper
1/2 cup water

1. Rinse the rice a couple times, strain and place in a rice cooker, add the 8 cups water, dried coconut and salt and leave to cook, approximately 30 mins.

*If you don’t have a rice cooker please read the notes above.

2. While the rice cooks, add the tablespoon of coconut oil to a medium sized pot and on medium/high heat until the oil melts.
Add the diced onion and let cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, turmeric and curry powder, stir to combine let cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
Then add the diced tomatoes, reduce heat to medium/low and allowing the tomatoes to reduce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finally add the kohlrabi/potato, coconut butter, chickpeas, and enough water to cover the ingredients by half an inch or so. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

3. Once the rice has cooked through, gently scoop the rice from the edges of the pot towards the middle to form a pyramid shape. Make 5-6 holes in the rice pyramid by gently poking the back of a spatula through to the bottom of the pot. Pour a small about of the melted coconut oil into each hole, and leave to cook for another 15-20 mins, this is how you get the crispy rice.

4. Add the chopped spinach and mustard leaves to the curry, cover the pot and let cook for 5 minutes, until wilted. Stir to combine, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavours to settle.

5. In the meantime place all the “yoghurt” ingredients in a blender (I used my magic bullet), and blend until smooth.
6. Take most of the rice out the pot, except for the bottom layer touching the base of the pot, and using a wooden spatula gently cut and flip over the thin crispy bottom layer.

7. Serve up the dish and enjoy!
**This will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and usually tastes better the next day as the flavours infuse further.

5 Minute Cleansing Sprout Salad

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This recipe is inspired by my friend Dan’s father, Mooky, who I mentioned in my post about my travels to London over the summer. He grows a lot of his own vegetables and herbs in his garden and makes a salad very similar to this with his homegrown produce. This version is a bit less intense but I do warn you, it is not for the faint hearted as it includes fresh garlic, chilli, and energy and nutrient rich sprouts, so be prepared for a boost of plant power!

I recently put some seeds in my germinator and a few days later had way more sprouts that I could handle so I thought of a way to utilise them without too much effort as I was feeling a bit lazy. I had a look in the fridge and saw parsley, fennel, jalapeño chilli peppers, cucumber…I was immediately transported back to Mooky’s garden picking fresh herbs and veggies and that’s when I knew I had to try and recreate the amazingly powerful green salad he made for us this summer. You can used whatever veggies and herbs you have at home but the key is to keep the flavours fresh and clean.

Germination and Sprouts

I’ve been the proud owner of a three tiered germinator for the past 4 years now and go through phases of using it. But when I’m on a roll, I absolutely love it because there’s always a quick nutrition rich pick me up at arms length which I can just eat as is or add to salads, soups, noodles etc.

A germinator is basically a fancy sieve which you put organic seeds/beans/grains, and add water to so that the seeds get activated at begin the sprouting process. However, you do not need to own a germinator in oder to sprout your own seeds, all you need are good quality organic seeds/beans/grains, a jar, some cheesecloth to cover the top of the jar and a rubber band, as this beautiful info-graphic by Victor Paiam explains:

Germination

Once you have your seeds, I use these, you need to soak them over night in a bit of water. The next day discard the water and put the seeds in your germinator, fill with filtered drinking water, enough to just cover the seeds then tilt upside down so that it drains out, keeping the seeds moist. Repeat the watering and draining process twice a day until you get some sprouts, this should take anywhere between 2-4 days depending on what you are using.

Sprouts are a great source of B vitamins, protein and antioxidants which are perfect for vegetarians and vegans alike. They also give your body a lot of energy. Image how much energy it takes for one seed/bean/grain to transform into a sprout, well when you eat it, all that energy gets transferred to your body and is very beneficial to your whole system. However be sure to use organic seeds/grains when sprouting as they will not have any chemicals added to them, and please use clean drinkable water too!

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As mentioned above, this recipe is not for the faint hearted as it is extremely strong in flavour, and is very cleansing for your body, so don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂

Ingredients

1 big handful of sprouts (I used lentil, radish & mung bean sprouts)
2 small cucumbers (organic/pesticide free if possible)
1/2 bulb fennel
1 jalapeño chilli
1 handful fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Dried chilli flakes, to taste (optional)

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Method:

1. Dice the cucumber, fennel, and jalapeño up quite finely and add to a medium bowl.

2. Roughly chop the parsley, and mince the garlic, add to the bowl.

3. Add the sprouts, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, and a pinch of salt & pepper and combine all the ingredients until everything is coated in the salad dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed, and sprinkle some dried chilli flakes on top if you want an extra kick of flavour.

Enjoy!

5 Ingredient Delicious Chickpea Crepes

Socca

These are the most delicious, filling, easy and protein rich crepes ever! They’re naturally gluten free, high in iron, magnesium and Vitamin B-6. These are all magnificent vitamins and minerals which your body needs to function well. Iron produces collagen which keeps your skin looking young & fresh, magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, and Vitamin B-6 aids in regulating your mood and appetite.

I first became familiar with them a couple of years ago through Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty  but was living in the UK at the time and couldn’t find chickpea flour very easily, so I quickly forgot about them. It was only recently when I read through my copy of Sarah Britton’s cookbook Inspired Plant Based Recipes for Every Season that I immediately put the chickpea flour which had been sitting in my cupboard for a few months, to good use! They are traditionally called Socca, in France or Farinata in Italy, and are made with olive oil, however olive oil has a very low burning point so coconut oil is used as an amazingly delicious and nutritious substitute. The toppings are very versatile, so you can use what you’ve got in the fridge, which is what I tend to do, and wrap them up into a simple and nourishing meal. They also freeze very well, so you can make up a big batch, freeze, then heat them up in the oven quickly when you need them.

As I’ve been hosting more group cooking classes recently, I’m very aware of using ingredients which are readily available in Doha. And chickpea flour happens to be available in almost all supermarkets here, it’s really cheap too, which means you have more money to spend on other whole food items or perhaps a little present for yourself! So Doha people, this one is dedicated to you 🙂

Ingredients

(makes 4 large  crepes)

Chickpea Crepes (recipe from Inspired Plant Based Recipes for Every Season) 

1 cup chickpea flour (also called besan or gram flour)

Pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Pinch fresh cracked black pepper

1 1/4 cup warm water

3 tablespoons coconut oil + more for cooking

Topping Suggestions

Beetroot hummus (regular hummus is also fine)

Carrots

Baby spinach leaves

Goats cheese

Guacamole

Cherry tomato salsa

Pesto

Method:

Sift the flour over a large bowl, then add salt & pepper, mix to combine.

Whisk in warm water and melted coconut oil and let sit for at least 30 mins. This will ensure the crepes hold together well.

Then heat up 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil in large pan over medium heat, once hot pour 1/4 of the mixture to coat the pan. Cook for 5-8 minutes on one side, until bubbles start to form and the crepe holds together well (patience is key here) then flip and cook for 2 mins on the other side, and repeat.

Add your toppings of choice and enjoy!

Mushroom, Courgette, and Broad Bean Frittata

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This is great recipe to whip up when you want something comforting, filling and nutritious. It’s a lovely warming meal on a cold winters night, and great served cold with a simple green salad for lunch or even at a picnic. The veggies can all be substituted with whatever you have at home but I found that this combination was a winner!

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Ingredients (serves 6)

1/2 tbs coconut oil

1/2 a medium onion

1 medium courgette – chopped into quarters

3 cups of chestnut mushrooms – chopped into quarters

1/2 cup fresh or frozen broad beans

1 tbs paprika powder

3 spring onions – greens only, roughly chopped

handful of dill – roughly chopped

4 eggs (preferably organic free range)

1/3 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)

Himalayan pink salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat a large non stick pan over medium heat, add oil and let it heat up, then add the diced onion half. Cook until the onion browns slightly, stirring occasionally.

Add the courgette, and cook for about 5 mins. Then add the mushrooms, and paprika, stir to combine, and cover with a lid for about 3 mins. Add the broad beans, stir and cover for 5-8 mins, or until the mushrooms have reduced in size.

Crack the eggs in a bowl, whisk together with the almond milk, then add the chopped spring onion greens, along with the dill, salt and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the pan, reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook for 10 mins, check firmness, and flip the frittata. I placed a plate over the pan by holding the plate with one hand and the pan with the other, slowly turning over the frittata and cooking the other side for 3-4 mins.

When cooked all the way through, cut and serve with a simple green salad, and some gluten free bread or crackers.

Enjoy!