6 Recipes From 2013 to Start 2014 Off Right!

 

6 recipes for 2014

 

Happy New Year everyone!

If you are like me, your body might be needing a little break from all the heavy eating that happens during this time. So I put together a few of my favorite recipes from 2013 – a mix of snacks, not-so-decadant desserts and side dishes or meals to help you start 2014 on the right foot!

1. Chickpea Flour Crepe (Gluten & Dairy Free)

A great way of jazzing up any leftovers and a healthier alternative to bread. Top with anything you have lying around and you have a more interesting meal in minutes!

2. Raw Chocolate Avocado Pie (Gluten & Dairy Free)

A very easy and tasty dessert that tastes decadent but uses only healthy, wholesome ingredients – no baking needed! I always have a fun time getting people to guess the mystery ingredient…

3. Humus – No Bread (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Humus is one of my go to dishes when I need to bring something to a party or just want a light meal. While you can now buy ready-made humus in most supermarkets, it’s much healthier and very simple to make your own, especially if you are using canned chickpeas.

4. Harisa – Arabic Semolina Cake

This was  a traditional New Year’s dessert for me growing up – and this is a lighter, less processed version. It is very tasty with a touch of exotic Arabic flavor.

5. Roasted Winter Vegetables

This is my go-to recipe for preparing winter vegetables in a way which brings out their natural sweetness. Did you know that eating naturally sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, beetroots or carrots can actually reduce sugar cravings? This dish makes a great side dish or light dinner.

6. Brown Rice Zaatar Crackers

These are a great snack for when you are on the go and need something healthy to tide you over!

New Year Wishes

Harissa: Arabic Semolina Cake (a healthier version)

Harisa: Arabic Semolina Cake

One of the Arabic desserts I loved growing up was harissa, a semolina based cake traditionally made from ghee (or butter), white sugar and semolina. It is then doused in a sugary syrup called ater, made from boiling large quantities of sugar in water. We would always eat it around New Year’s Eve since there is a belief that eating something sweet makes the coming year sweet!

While I was visiting my family in Amman, my mother and I decided to reinvent it into a healthier version, using yoghurt instead of butter or ghee, brown sugar instead of white sugar, and a honey syrup instead of the sugar syrup. All my family who tried it agreed that they actually preferred this healthier version to the traditional one!

Semolina is a coarsely ground grain made from wheat. If you are not sensitive to gluten, it actually has some interesting health benefits, including iron, selenium and B-complex vitamins and is used in many Arabic desserts and cookies.

Ingredients (for about 6 people)

1.5 cups finely ground semolina (sémoule complète de blé dur fine in French)

1/2 cup dark sugar

1/4 cup orange blossom water (you can find this in the Middle Eastern section of large grocery stores like Coop)

1 cup natural, full-fat yoghurt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Almonds to decorate – remove the skins by soaking them in boiling water, then squeezing them out with your thumbs.

Method

Mix the semolina with the sugar

Add the orange blossom water and mix.

Add the baking soda to the yoghurt and mix before adding this to the other ingredients.

Mix with your hands to create a smooth mixture.

Leave to rest for about 30 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of tahini (sesame paste used in humus) onto a tray about 20 cm in diameter.

Decorate with the almonds.

Put in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes or until it is almost done.

While the cake is in the oven, prepare the honey syrup:

Heat 1/2 cup honey with 1/2 cup water, add a dash of orange blossom water and bring to a boil. Add a squeeze of lemon once it has boiled and leave to cool.

Take the cake out of the oven, cut it in squares and pour the honey syrup over it. Put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

This healthier version of Harissa is delicious served hot just out of the oven but I also like it cold the next day! You can store it in the fridge for a few days (if it lasts that long!)

harissa, a semolina cake

 

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Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies + Free eBook

Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies

As this recipe shows, you don’t actually need white flour, white sugar or butter to enjoy Christmas cookies!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup almond butter – if you don’t have this, you can use 1 cup ground almonds + 3 tbsp oil

3 tbsp molasses

2 large eggs

2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1/2 cup coconut sugar or Rapadura

1/3 cup buckwheat flour or other flour of your choice

1 tsp baking soda + 1 tsp ground ginger + 1 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp allspice + a few grinds of pepper + 1/2 tsp sea salt

METHOD

Beat the eggs with a mixer.

Add fresh grated ginger, molasses, coconut sugar and almond butter.

Mix everything well.

Add the flour, baking soda and spices and mix.

Using a teaspoon, drop the batter onto a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 8 minutes.

Leave them to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

Inspired by this recipe

Want more recipes like this one? Download my FREE Healthier Christmas Cookies eBook here!

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Immune Boosting Spaghetti Squash Stir-Fry

 

Roasted squash

I was really excited to find spaghetti squash this weekend – a variety of squash with string-like flesh that can take on the same role as pasta in a dish.

For this stir-fry, I used vegetables with immune-enhancing qualities from the allium family: Onion, garlic and leeks.

The real magic taste-wise lies in the sauce which adds a very satisfying taste thanks to the umami ingredients – read more about this concept here.

Spaghetti Squash

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Wash the spaghetti squash and cut it in half lengthwise. This is actually quite hard, so make sure you are using a good knife!

Scoop out the seeds using a spoon.

Place the squash flesh-side down on a tray with a baking sheet  and roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes or until you can easily insert a fork in the flesh.

Run a fork down the length of the squash’s flesh to create spaghetti-like strands.

Put these to a side.

If you don’t want to use the whole squash in one meal, leave the other half to cool, then wrap it in the baking sheet and keep it in the fridge for a few days.

Stir-Fry

Wash and cut all the vegetables – you can actually use any vegetables you want.

Heat a little coconut oil in a wok and fry the onion and garlic first, then add the leeks and carrots with a little water and cover to cook the vegetables.

veggies

Once the vegetables are ready, add the  spaghetti squash, stir, then add the Umami Sauce as described in this recipe. I actually make a large portion of this sauce and keep it in my fridge for up to 2 weeks, adding it to recipes like this to pump up the taste.

You can also add a green like spinach, Swiss chard or rocket leaves at the very end for an additional nutritional boost. Here I added rocket leaves.

Serve with some pumpkin or squash seeds and the protein of your choice – I tried this recipe with crumbled feta cheese and it was delicious!

Enjoy!

Stir-fry

 

What I Ate Wednesday #1


This is the first time I am participating in What I Ate Wednesday where bloggers all share a day of what they ate. So here’s what I ate today…

I started my day with a glass of water and a green smoothie for 2 which included spinach, kale, Swiss chard, fennel, an endive, raw beetroot, an apple, a banana, hemp and chia seeds and a handful of almonds. I also added some unsweetened cacao powder as I fancied a chocolatey taste.

Here is the smoothie pre-blending:

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I ate the smoothie in a bowl topped with shredded coconut, cacao nibs and a few cashew nuts for some added healthy fats and crunch. It was delicious and so filling I wasn’t hungry for lunch until quite late!

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I also had a raspberry leaf tea in an oversized cup:

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For lunch, I heated up some lentil stew I had made the day before – just lentils with onion, garlic, herbs from Provence, tomato sauce and veggies (carrots, peas, celery, broccoli).

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I added some umami to the meal with a splash of red wine vinegar which really brings the taste to another dimension, while also helping digest the lentils.

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I also had a side of homemade sauerkraut, capers and olives to add some more taste to the lentils.

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After lunch, I had two of my delicious date, hazelnut and cinnamon balls.

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I also had some barley coffee which has a surprisingly similar sensual experience and taste to coffee but is made of barley.

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In the afternoon, I had a mint tea in a café. I liked the name of the tea bag from Lipton – Relax!

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By the time I finished, the grocery shops were closed and I wasn’t able to buy any food, so I just reheated some vegetable soup I had in the freezer. I always make an extra helping of soup to put in the freezer – something I learned from my mother-in-law! I don’t remember what vegetables were in there but it had cumin and mustard seeds for flavor. While I was digging around in the freezer, I also found some slices of spelt bread I had made and frozen a few months ago which I took  out and grilled in the toaster.

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I realized that 2/3 meals were recycled food – something I consider to be smart cooking since it means there is always something healthy at hand! Still, I am looking forward to stocking up on some fresh, seasonal food tomorrow!

Get Well Soon Red Lentil Soup

lentil soup1

Growing up, whenever someone in my family caught a cold, my mother would immediately whip up some red lentil soup or shorabet ‘adas as we call it in Arabic.

There was something magical about this soup: The mix of spices, fresh lemon and onion always made me feel better as soon as I ate it.

As an adult, I still make when my husband or I catch a cold or sometimes when I simply need a hug in a bowl.

I wanted to share this recipe with you as the perfect antidote to the colds that are so frequent this season. This powerful soup combines immune-boosting onion, nutritional powerhouse lentils and vitamin C-filled lemon juice. You can eat it as a starter or a main meal: Make it more filling by adding some of the toppings mentioned below. I almost always add olives, since as a healthy fat, they make a meal more filling while also adding some umami!

A nutritional aside

Red lentils are actually one of the fastest lentils to cook – they don’t need to be soaked (only washed) and are a good source of protein and fiber. Lentils are also a very good source of iron, and the vitamin C in the lemon helps improve iron absorption in the body.

I love using red lentils in soups because they become mushy when cooked unlike brown or green lentils which stay intact.

The star of this recipe is without a doubt the ground cumin. Cumin is traditionally paired with lentils in Arabic and Indian food because it acts as a digestive aid. Cumin is also a very warming spice – perfect for the winter months ahead, as well as a good source of magnesium and iron. Not just a tasty addition, a healthy one, too!

INGREDIENTS

2 cups red lentils, washed until the water is clear

4 cups or 1 liter water

2 onions, chopped

Ground cumin, salt & pepper to taste

Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon – depends on the size of your lemon and how much you like the taste!

METHOD

Heat oil and fry the onion. Once it is cooked, add the washed lentils, stir with the onions, then add water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat and leave for about 10-15 minutes until the lentils are mushy.

Add the ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste – I use about a large tablespoon of cumin.

Once the soup is ready, remove from the heat and add lemon juice.

POSSIBLE TOPPINGS

Olives, capers, strips of grilled Arabic bread, steamed leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard or kale or fresh spring onion for some added immunity boost.

I’d love to hear from you – what was your ‘Get well soon’ food growing up?

Umami or How to Make More Satisfying Meals

Umami TasteYou know the feeling. You’ve just eaten a full meal but you feel there’s something missing. You might be physically full but you’re not satisfied. In an effort to stimulate your taste buds, you seek out something sweet or salty to get that hit you didn’t have in your bland meal. Next time, try adding more umami-rich foods to your meal. Umami elevates the taste intensity of a dish. It’s your regular meal, on steroids. It adds flavor to an otherwise banal dish. And this is super important because taking full pleasure in what you are eating actually increases nutrient absorption in the body while stopping you from overeating or having cravings later on.

So what exactly is umami?

As you might already know, our tongues have taste buds that detect the following tastes: Sweet, salty, bitter and sour. The Japanese have always known this, but we also have a fifth set of taste buds for the taste of savory or umami. Umami comes from Japanese and means “pleasant savory taste”. Umami foods all have a warm, earthy, deeply satisfying taste. Chemically, these foods all contain an amino acid called glutamate which provides the distinctive umami taste. The man-made imitation of this is a chemical called monosodium glutamate (MSG) which the food industry adds to Asian food, soups, chips etc. to enhance flavor and increase their appeal. Stock cubes like Maggi cubes also use this principle to add taste but again, at the cost of putting an artificial man-made chemical into your body with potentially toxic side-effects. So here’s my solution: Leverage the power of naturally umami-rich foods to add big taste to your dishes.

UMAMI→ MORE SATISFACTION→ LESS CRAVINGS

As humans, we are hard-wired to love the taste of umami. Human breast milk is naturally rich in umami and babies already show a taste preference for sweet and umami-rich foods in their first months of life. It might also be a way of pointing us towards easy to digest protein-rich sources of food since umami is naturally found in proteins that have been partially broken down such as aged cheese, cured meats or soy sauce.  Adding more umami to your meals brings that taste that leaves us satisfied and without cravings after a meal.

Foods naturally rich in umami include:

    • Parmesan cheese & other aged cheese
    • Grilled & cured meat
    • Anchovies
    • Ripe tomatoes, tomato paste and ketchup and sun-dried tomatoes
    • Asparagus
    • Mushrooms
    • Nutritional yeast
    • Olives
    • Garlic
    • Dried sea vegetables
    • Marmite
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Fermented foods like miso, tamari and sauerkraut
    • Red wine
    • Roasting and grilling food also increases umami

 

Ways of boosting umami in your cooking:

♦ Combine both red wine and balsamic vinegar in your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

♦ Use soy or tamari sauce to add flavor and saltiness to soup, add taste to a meat or poultry marinade, or to vegetables.

♦ Add blended dried tomatoes (you can buy them without the oil) to a stew or tomato sauce

♦ Add mushroom to soups, stews and sauces.

♦ Add fresh or dried seaweed to soups, stews and sauces.

♦ Add nutritional yeast to anything.

♦ Add green vegetables like asparagus to an omelet or frittata

♦ Sprinkle grated Parmesan on top of dishes.

♦ Add toasted nuts to a salad.

♦ Garlic is a very umami-friendly flavor and even a small amount — not enough to notice the garlic but enough to add complexity — can give whatever you’re cooking more flavor.

Caramelize onions to bring out their flavor and top dishes with them

♦ Roast or grill vegetables to bring out the taste such as in this recipe

♦ Add this easy to make umami sauce to anything from steamed vegetables to salads.  

I would love to hear from you, what umami foods do you use to add more flavor to your food?

Black Bean Salad + Plant Protein

Bean salad2I find that beans are one of the most underrated foods. Competing in a world of sexier animal products like meats and cheese, beans are often forgotten. Yet the humble bean is a powerhouse of protein, fiber and antioxidants.

If like me, you don’t eat a lot of animal protein, it’s important to be careful about getting enough protein, and beans are a great option. In my home, humus is a staple and so are different types of lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

A word on plant protein:

Plant proteins are incomplete proteins, meaning they do not have the 9 essential amino acids needed by our bodies to build protein. For this reason, it was thought that different types of plant proteins always needed to be combined to create a complete chain of amino acids. Typical combinations include humus & bread, tortilla & beans, lentils & rice. Recent studies show that as long as you combine various sources of plant protein within a 24 hour window, your body magically combines the amino acids – so if you have lentils at lunch and beans for dinner or are simply eating a good mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, your body has enough to work with from this amino acid ‘pool’.

Black Bean Salad

One of the healthiest varieties of beans is black beans – they are the highest in antioxidants of any bean choice. Cooking them in a pressure cooker if you have one allows you to retain the most antioxidants.

If you are cooking beans from scratch, make sure you always soak them for at least 8 hours, longer if you can – you can also add a strip of kombu seaweed to improve digestibility.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can find out more about cooking beans here.

This recipe is a wonderful way to add more beans to your diet. The combination of beans, pineapple, coriander and cayenne pepper give it an exotic edge while the Swiss chard provides a more grounding, nutrient-rich base.

Ingredients

2 cups black beans

2 handfuls pineapple, small chunks (preferably fresh)

4 stalks Swiss chard

4 large tomatoes

1 red onion

4-5 artichoke hearts – I used frozen but you can also use canned, pickled or fresh

A handful of grilled pine nuts

Coriander

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

A dash of sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and chili flakes.

Method

Cook beans until tender. Leave to cool.

Chop up all the other ingredients. If you don’t have all the ingredients above, it’s also easy to replace one ingredient for another. Mix everything in a bowl and add the dressing and chopped coriander as garnish.

Enjoy!

Bean salad1

Brown Rice & Zaatar Crackers

crackers2

As mentioned in a previous post, I try to avoid bread and bread-like products as much as possible. Not only because white flour is void of nutrients and spikes blood sugar levels, which is what makes us fat, but also because conventionally bought bread has a lot of yucky stuff in it like preservatives. Seriously, check the ingredients next time you’re in a supermarket – it’s actually quite shocking!

So in an attempt to find a bread alternative and use up 4 cups of cooked brown rice that I miscalculated after having my family over for lunch and slightly overestimating their appetite for brown rice, I had this idea: Make a healthier cracker using brown rice and seeds, loosely based on this recipe. I added zaatar, a herb mix frequently used in the Arab world but you could add pretty much any herb or spice, or even onion and garlic powder or olives. Otherwise, you should be able to find zaatar mix in Middle Eastern stores and often in Fair Trade type stores as well. I have included the recipe in the photo below if you want to make your own mix!

Ingredients (makes 2 full trays)

4 cups brown rice

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup linseeds

5-6 tbsp olive oil

sea salt to taste

Herbs or spices – I used zaatar which was a match made in heaven.

Method 

Put rice in food processor and pulse until it is mushy. Add all the other ingredients and continue to pulse until a dough-like consistency is formed.

Place the dough on a parchment paper, then take another piece of parchment paper and a rolling pin and flatten the dough as much as possible. The flatter the dough, the crunchier the crackers will be.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. Turn them over at the 30 minute mark – you should be able to do this with the whole block.

Once they are as crisp and golden as you would like them to be, take them out and leave them to cool. Once they have cooled, you can break them into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Enjoy!

 crackers1

Zaaatar

The 10-Minute Revolutionary Raw Jam

raw jam

I love jam with my weekend pancakes but I have never tried making my own because I don’t have the patience for cooking and preserving the jams properly!

This jam is a much simpler and healthier alternative to traditional jams AND it only takes a few minutes to prepare, doesn’t need sugar and relies on only 2 key ingredients: Seasonal fresh fruits and chia seeds. I have written about the wonder of chia seeds here and this recipe relies on their jelly-like consistency when soaked with water to provide the same consistency you want from jam.

You can get as creative as you want by using any fruit and then adding whatever tickles your fancy: Ginger, spices, orange or lemon peel, lemon juice, lavender…And if you want a sweeter taste to the natural sweetness of the fruit, you can add a little maple syrup or honey.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cup seasonal fruit 

1 tbsp chia seeds soaked for 10 min in 2 tbsp water

 

Add to taste: Ginger, spices, orange or lemon peel, lemon juice, maple syrup or honey.

PICTURED: 

Apricot with fresh ginger root

Mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) with a pinch of lavender and a dash of maple syrup

METHOD:

Mix chia seeds in water and leave to sit for 10 minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, blend the fruit and any other ingredients. When the chia gel is formed add it to the mix and blend. Pour in jars and keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks. You could also trying freezing your raw jam, although I haven’t tried this yet.

Enjoy!

PS – You can find chia seeds in most organic stores, but I find it cheaper to order them online from www.iherb.com. Use the code WIV403 to get $5-10 off your first order.

Chickpea Flour Crepes

Chickpea flour crepe

If you think about it, the role bread or dough plays is more of a supporting role than a starring role. A sandwich is more about the filling than the bread and pizza dough is more a carrier than anything else.

In my attempt to recreate this supporting role of carrier, I came up with this recipe, inspired by the Italian farinata and French socca, but simplified to only 2 ingredients: Water and chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is just ground chickpeas and can be found in Indian speciality stores or organic stores, usually in the gluten-free flour section.

I usually make these crepes as a way of jazzing up leftovers – here I had some tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, sweet potato, chickpea and Feta stir-fry and some homemade sauerkraut that needed finishing!

Ingredients:

Same quantity water and chickpea flour – for 2 people 1 cup of each

A dash of unrefined salt and herbs or spices if desired. I find that ground cumin goes very well.

Method

Mix everything in a bowl and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes. This makes the chickpea flour easier to digest.

Heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan and add some batter. Flip the crepe when the side is cooked.

Serve with any filling or topping – works particularly well for leftovers! You can also fold the crepe in half to make it more sandwich-like.

Enjoy!

Chickpea flour crepe2

Shake up your eating habits!

Market

Do you find yourself on automatic pilot when grocery shopping, buying more or less the same foods every time?

Do you always have the same ‘staples’ at home, things like bread, milk, bananas, tomatoes all year round?

When was the last time you ordered something new at a restaurant?

Do you have more or less the same breakfast every day of the week?

I am not saying you are lazy. On the contrary: As humans living in the modern world, we need to make hundreds of choices in a single day – from what to wear to where to park. It is completely normal that our minds go on ‘automatic pilot’ rather than actively making a decision for every little thing we do – this is what makes activities such as driving possible – we no longer need to think about every little step involved.

Sometimes though, shaking ourselves out of automatic pilot can be very enriching. It can allow us to see what we do with different eyes or to simply try something new.

Here are some ideas to help shake up your eating habits!

♦ Vary your grains – try a whole grain that is new to you such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat or brown rice.

♦ Buy a new vegetable you’ve never used before next time you are grocery shopping then google to find a recipe for it.

♦ Do NOT buy your staples next time you are shopping – restrictions can make you more creative, forcing you to find alternatives.

♦ Buy a different brand of your favorite food.

♦ If you always go to the same restaurant, try a new kind of cuisine you have never tried, like Ethiopian food.

♦ Buy something that is in season right now in a big quantity and then figure out what you want to do with it. For example, I bought a large quantity of zucchini which is currently in season and made zucchini muffins, a vegetable stir fry with buckwheat noodles, a tomato sauce with zucchini and added it to a lentil salad.

♦ Buy a type of herb and put it in a glass of water when you get home then add it to everything you make over the next few days. You can even add herbs like mint to water to jazz it up a little.

What about you, do your eating habits need to be shaken up? Which of these action points are you willing to try over the next week? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

A Healthier Pancake (Gluten & Dairy free)

pancakes2

A frequent weekend tradition for me growing up was my Dad’s pancakes. This was special because not only was it a rare occurrence for my father to actually cook, it was also one of my favorite breakfasts and a celebration of the weekend.

Pancakes are still one of my favorite breakfasts, so it was one of the first things I ‘healthified’ – by replacing the white flour with buckwheat flour (which is whole grain) and the milk with almond or rice milk. If I am avoiding eggs or don’t have any, I substitute them with flax or chia seeds.

INGREDIENTS

Combine the following dry ingredients: 

1.5 cups buckwheat flour or a mixed with other gluten-free flours like teff, chestnut, rice flour

1 tsp brown sugar 

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Combine the following wet ingredients: 

1 egg (or you can substitute eggs with 1 tbsp of ground flax seed or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well, and place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes)

2 tbsp olive  or coconut oil

1.5 cups milk of your choice

Combine dry & wet ingredients together, then heat some coconut oil in a frying pan and pour batter into pan. Flip over when side is cooked.

Do you mix food and feelings?

Food & feelings

When you are feeling stressed, bored or depressed, do you find yourself reaching for food?

As emotional beings, our relationship to food IS emotional. We take pleasure in eating. Food is not just fuel to us. But if you find yourself regularly using food to numb emotions or stress, its time to take a deeper look at what’s really going on.

Here are some steps you can take to bring a level of awareness to help you cope with emotional eating.

1. Identify your true need

Ask yourself whether you are hungry. If you are not actually hungry for food, ask yourself what you are hungry for – this could be love or connection or stimulation. According to Linda Spangle, when we are feeling angry, aggressive or stressed, we tend to crave more crunchy foods such as chips, cookies or crackers. When we are feeling more sadness, loneliness, fatigue or comfort we crave more mushy and smooth foods like chocolate, ice-cream or pasta. Often, craving something sweet means we are looking for more sweetness and pleasure in our lives – perhaps as a resulting from too much work and not having enough me-time. You can use your craving as a clue to help decipher your true need.

2. Find non-food ways of meeting your true hunger

Once you have identified WHY you are craving food without being hungry, realize that eating is not going to do the trick. Your cravings or binges are not actually the problem – the problem is what you are avoiding by eating. Try instead to identity what’s going on before you are tempted to eat and make a list of alternative ways you can address this need, such as talking to a friend or going out more if you are bored or doing things that bring you pleasure if you are craving more sweetness in your life.

3. Feel it, don’t fix it

If you just feel overwhelming feelings and can’t stop to ask yourself what you’re really hungry for, try to just feel what you are feeling for 30 seconds without judgment and without trying to fix it. Even if it feels like your emotions are going to swallow you whole, when you stop and just tune into your body to feel what is happening and where the emotion is within you, you are taking a first step towards bringing awareness to emotional eating. All emotions actually have a physical root, so trying to identify in your body what you are feeling is a very powerful tool to helping you cope with emotions.

4. Bring more satisfaction to your meals…and your life

Eating meals that truly satisfy you actually decreases the risk that you crave or binge on certain foods. According to Marc David, if your body does not register satisfaction when eating because you are eating food you don’t actually like or are not taking time to enjoy it, your body’s signal will be for MORE food which leads to binges or cravings.

Are your meals truly satisfying, do you take time to enjoy them and get the most out of them? Are you truly honoring your hunger and eating when your body tells you it needs food or are you waiting so long that you lose all control when you see food? Do you restrict yourself when it comes to ‘bad’ foods? Restriction actually leads to rebellion and loss of control, so try eating your ‘bad’ foods in moderation to avoid reaching this stage.

5. Be gentle with yourself

Above all, be gentle with yourself. If you are using emotional eating as a coping mechanism, there is a perfectly good reason for this. Change takes time and you can choose to focus on every tiny victory along the way instead of lamenting what isn’t working.

Apply an attitude of nonjudgmental curiosity and start investigating what is REALLY going on in your life. And if you need help with this, don’t hesitate to book a free chat with me to discuss how I can support you on this journey.

 

Millet Stir-Fry

 

Millet stir fry

This recipe is so simple yet so tasty that I just had to share it.

Millet is a whole-grain that does not contain gluten, the protein complex found in wheat and its derivatives, including kamut, spelt, barley, rye, pasta and couscous.

When I use whole-grains, I try to focus on the non-gluten ones, mostly millet, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, rice and oats.

While I am not fundamentally against gluten, I do think that we consume it in huge doses, and that many people would be better off reducing their consumption of wheat and its derivatives as it is often difficult to digest.

One of my favorite whole grains is actually millet – it is similar to couscous in look and consistency but has a nuttier, more complex flavor. It is also a good source of B-vitamins, magnesium and phosphorus.

I usually make a big batch of whatever whole grain I make and then use it over several days: As a porridge in the morning (heated with some almond milk and topped with fruit and nuts/seeds and spices) as well as in salads or stir-frys.

Here is a simple stir-fry you can make using any whole grain.

Ingredients:

Cooked whole grain (preferably soaked in water overnight or for a few hours before cooking – if you don’t have time to do this at least rinse the whole grain well before cooking) – follow the instructions on the packaging

Steamed or boiled vegetables – here I used broccoli, carrots and zucchini

Pine seeds

Olive oil

Curry powder

 

Method

Cook the whole grain (here I used millet) and vegetables separately.

Heat a little olive oil in a wok and add the pine seeds. This gives them a lovely flavor that is a lot more interesting than raw pine seeds. Once the pine seeds are lightly browned, add the millet and vegetables then season with some curry powder and salt to taste.

Add some coriander or other herb as garnish.

Enjoy as a side or main dish!

Frozen Banana Soft Serve

My big aha moment this summer is this: Bananas freeze really well because they are made up of less water than other fruits. The recipe below is very simple and makes for a deliciously creamy, healthy treat on a hot summer day.

Enjoy!

Frozen banana ice-cream.001

 

Watermelon Salad

watermelon salad_1

My family and I spent almost every summer growing up visiting my extended family in Jordan.

Being so scarce the rest of the year meant we were invited for lunches and dinners almost every day. But the nights we didn’t have anything special and just stayed home with my Grandmother always meant one thing: Watermelon and white cheese for dinner.

I loved this dinner. So simple, yet refreshing. And no other fruit reminds me of summers in Jordan quite like watermelon.

I pulled together this slightly more sophisticated version of my Grandmother’s dinner to make it into more of a real meal. The tastes go really well together, combining the sweetness of the watermelon with the saltiness of the cheese and olives, the sourness of the lime, the bitterness of the arugula and the pungent taste of the red onion and oregano.

A side note: According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, in order for  a meal to be balanced and satisfying, it is essential for all the tastes mentioned above to be present. This can even help reduce cravings for foods like sweets. You can find our more about the six Ayurvedic tastes here.

INGREDIENTS: 

1 small watermelon (to avoid the seeds)

1 small red onion 

Black olives

Handful of arugula leaves

Feta cheese (or even better, Haloumi cheese if you can find it)

Drizzle of olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

Dash of sea salt & pepper

Dried oregano or zaatar mix

 

METHOD: 

Chop all ingredients and place together in a bowl. Dress with lime or lemon juice and olive oil and season with herbs.

Enjoy on a hot summer’s day!

watermelon salad_2

 

Arabian Almond Balls (Gluten & Dairy free)

Arabian Balls

These Arabian Almond balls, based on this recipe, are really quick to make and do not even need baking.

I grind almonds with their skin – but you could also buy already ground almonds or use ground almonds without the skin for a more subtle taste. I used almond oil which I thought worked perfectly but if you do not have this you can also use coconut oil or probably even olive oil.

The Arabic taste really comes from the orange blossom water and lightly toasting the sesame seeds takes the taste experience to a whole new level.

Ingredients

2 cups ground almonds 

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of unrefined salt

2 tbsp almond oil 

3-4 tbsp maple syrup or honey

1 tbsp orange blossom water

1/2 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Method

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl then add the maple syrup or honey, orange blossom water and mix. Form balls in whatever size you want and roll them in the lightly toasted sesame seeds. Store in the fridge.

Enjoy with some fresh mint tea!

How to think about Food: Annemarie Colbin video

During my studies at IIN, there were many great speakers I learned a lot from, but I think the one whose approach I could relate to the most was Annemarie Colbin, Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City.

While her approach to food is much more complex than what she covers in this 11 minute TEDx talk, this video summarizes quite well.

And if you don’t have time to watch, these are her seven criteria for good food selection:

1. Food should be WHOLE – the way it is found in nature, so no white flour or white sugar or even wheat germ as the body will recognize when something is missing. This also excludes low-fat or lactose-free products. Non-whole food and even supplements can lead to cravings and not feeling satisfied after eating.

2. Food should be FRESH and NATURAL – so avoid frozen and canned foods which affects the food’s natural energy. Frozen and canned foods can lose up to 20-80% of their nutrients. Pickled, fermented or dried are better options for food conservation.

3. Food should be REAL – do not use fake substitutes like margarine for better or artificial sweeteners for sugar.

4. Food should be SEASONAL/ LOCAL/ ORGANIC/ NON-GENETICALLY MODIFIED – whenever possible. Eating local and seasonal foods help create a sense of connection and belonging to nature and where you live.

5. Food should be IN HARMONY WITH TRADITION – the foods your ancestors ate are probably the ones that benefit your body the most.

6. Food should be BALANCED in flavor, texture, color, and flavor and in the way it makes us feel. A meal that leaves you unsatisfied or craving something sweet was probably too bland and unbalanced.

7. Food should be DELICIOUS. There’s no point in eating something you don’t enjoy, no matter how ‘healthy’ it is.

Enjoy the video and let me know what you think!

Is ____ healthy?

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Here is a frequent question I get asked: “Is ____ healthy?” where the blank can be anything from milk to green tea to rice crackers to yoghurt.

A perfectly legitimate question. That’s very difficult to answer.

Because it depends.

It depends on what your definition of healthy is.

It depends on how often you consume the food or drink in question.

It depends on the greater context of the rest of your diet because 80% is perfection.

It even depends on the brand as ingredients can vary greatly.

And most of all it depends on you and your bio-individuality. Because no one diet works for everyone and one person’s panacea is another person’s poison. And in the end, the greatest – and only – authority on what works for you is learning to listen to your body’s wisdom.

The health coaching I do is about helping you connect with your inner wisdom to find the food and lifestyle choices that nourish you best. Because the only truly honest answer to the question “Is ____ healthy?” will always be “It depends…”