ROASTED PEARS WITH CASHEW CREAM AND SWEET TAHINI SAUCE

roasted pears cashew cream sweet tahini

I’m feeling the winter this year. Not just the crisp cold and the snow falling on my nose. The love for seasonal food. The spices of chill days. The smells of cozy evenings. The taste of roasted pears. It’s the first proper winter I experience since a few years and the first one I embrace with my new-found love for food.

I’ve always been some kind of a foodie (thanks to my dad who lives to enjoy food) but I rather loved to eat out and let others cook for me. This has changed in the last year or so. Cooking brought me closer to the ‘here and now’. I live by seasons. I create with local produce only. And I crave my regular visits to the farmers market to pick fresh ingredients and watch other people doing the same.

Cooking also got me thinking. About food traditions in my family. I remember my grandma being an amazing cook. Or maybe it’s just some blurry childhood memories. Or her semolina pudding with an extra portion of butter is the reason why I still love sweet and creamy breakfasts and desserts. And her paprika chicken was amazing, but that is not an option for me anymore. There is also my dad pancake tower he would make on weekends. For him it was almost like a competition to make the pancakes (not American pancakes but more like French crepes) as thin as possible, spread each one with plum jam and stack them to build a giant cake.  But despite my grandmas puddings and my dad’s pancakes I didn’t have any other memories of childhood food. Until I ate these sweet roasted pears with nuts. The taste, the smell, the emotions, everything reminded me of …well, ehm something. And then it dawned one me. We used to have this beautiful tiled stove in our tiny apartement. And during winter season my mum would make baked apple stuffed with raisins and nuts.

So there are these roasted pears, covered with crunchy walnuts, soaked in golden coconut syrup and baked with aromatic coconut oil. And there is this sweet tahini sauce and it’s slightly bitter yet nutty taste. The cashewcream gives a fresh and simple nod. Read more

SWEET POTATO BLISS BALLS WITH ZA’ATAR & GREEN SUPERFOODS

Sweet Potato Bliss Balls

Happy New Year! So much has happened since my last post (one month ago…ups). Like these Sweet Potato Bliss Balls. But let’s start at the beginning. We moved from Cairo to Istanbul, I had to put on my winter boots for the first time in three years because it was snowing non stop for a few days in Istanbul and I didn’t see the sun for a week now. Yes, that is a highlight (or rather a lowlight) in my life. Don’t take this as complaining. I’m super happy to be in Istanbul. And that is even an understatement. I’m super duper über excited about our move to Turkey. I’m personally looking forward to exploring the local food scene, testing and trying new ingredients, traveling to every corner of Turkey, discovering local craftsmanship and well of course meeting new friends. We also made plans for 2016 to tour an extensive part of the region. We call it ‘Project 12’ and we are aiming to visit (as the name might suggest) 12 countries including Bulgaria, Romania and Armenia. 2016 will be a great year.

So let’s celebrate with some bliss balls. One of my favorite food discoveries of 2015. I’m not a big snacker but I love making little snack so I can add them to my main dishes…. and maybe sometimes even munch on them between meals. Until now I only made sweet bliss balls. But after too many Christmas cookies and a pile of vegan white chocolate from my family I’m currently craving savoury foods. These Sweet Potato Bliss Balls are packed with herby flavours. Za’atar is a mix of Middle Eastern herbs and is used as a seasoning in Arab cuisine. The green superfood is a blend of chia seeds, spirulina and chlorella and high in antioxidants and a great energizer. Read more

WALNUT AND POMEGRANATE STUFFED ZUCCHINI

Walnut And Pomegranate Stuffed Zucchini

My favorite recipes are those that happen by ‘accident’ like these Walnut And Pomegranate Stuffed Zucchini balls. Last week I received my weekly veggie delivery from a farm in Cairo. I had ordered a kilo of zucchini as like them frozen in my breakfast smoothies but also stir fried for dinner. Instead of finding the long type of zucchinis, I discovered a bunch of round ones in my veggie basket. Way to pretty to chop them up I decided they needed to be stuffed. And since I always wanted to try out walnut ‘meat’ (even though I don’t like using this term as it is no meat but the recipe is called like this), a new dish was created. The Walnut And Pomegranate Stuffed Zucchini balls go very well with a green salad or as appetizers for your Christmas party. Either way, they are vegan, gluten-free and super easy to make.
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10 REASONS TO TRAVEL TO EAST AFRICA INDEPENDENTLY

travel East Africa independently
Maasai Mara in Kenya

Did you know that travel makes you a much more awesome and happier person? You know what’s even better? Skip the jam-packed itinerary of a guided tour and travel independently. We did exactly that on our recent trip to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. We loved the freewheel, without any guidelines, timelines or other rules and regulations. We had the freedom to do what we want and when we wanted. Although daunting at first because East Africa doesn’t have a reputation for being a backpacker destination, travelling to the beat of our own drum was the best thing we could do.

For years Asia has been known for being the perfect place to explore by travelling independently. Africa on the other hand is much courted by travel agencies and there doesn’t seem to be a big backpacker scene in East Africa. But travelling independently in countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda grows you in a way that any organised tour won’t. So I’ve compiled a list of reasons why everyone should travel to East Africa independently.
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SUPER EASY BAKED VEGAN SWEET POTATO DOUGHNUTS

Easy baked vegan sweet potato doughnutsLet me tell you one thing first. You do NOT need a doughnut pan to make doughnuts at home. There are plenty of tips and tricks online. I personally used a muffin pan and placed piping tubes of my cake decoration set in the middle of each cavity (photo of my little experiment). A great summary on how to make vegan doughnuts even if you don’t have a doughnut pan was also written by onegreenplanet.org.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s talk about doughnuts. I had my last doughnut more than a year ago. And even before that, the few times I tried it I found doughnuts too sweet or too greasy to become a regular treat.
So here I am on a lazy Friday night scrolling through Instagram , browsing Pinterest and seeing all these healthy-looking vegan doughnut recipes. And my mind wonders ‘Hm, this doesn’t look *too sweet* or *too greasy*. Maybe I should just make my own doughnuts?! And Hey, I could even add pumpkin or sweet potato. And I don’t need tons of powdered sugar to create a delicious and shinny glaze.’. No sooner said than done. Here is my Super Easy Baked Vegan Sweet Potato Doughnut recipe with refined-sugar-free peanut butter glazing. You need less than 10 ingredients for the dough AND the glazing. Another wonderful thing about this recipe, you need no more than 30 min from taking out the mixing bowl from the cupboard till getting out the freshly baked doughnuts from the oven. But what’s even more awesome (I hope you now understand that this is the best doughnut recipe ever), the peanut butter doughnut glazing does without powdered sugar or any other form of refined sugar. Read more

PUMPKIN SWEET POTATO BUDDHA BOWL WITH CREAMY MUSTARD CASHEW DRESSING

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl

The good thing about working from home is that it’s a lot easier making healthy meals for lunch break than if you are working in an office. Don’t get me wrong, there are many amazing recipes for lunches that you can take to work. I just love to decide spontaneously what to eat and I also like a warm lunch once in a while (and I dislike microwaved food).

In summer, I definitely prefer green salads. I guess that doesn’t come at a surprise but the summer months in Cairo are very hot and just the thought of warm food makes me cringe. If I could I would probably add ice cubes to every meal and drink that I have. However once the temperatures become slightly moderate, lets say below 25°C/80 F, I slowly start craving warm and comforting food. And that time is now.

My go-to recipe at the moment is not really a recipe but rather a food style. And it’s called buddha bowl or meal bowl. Basically there are no rules but lots of ideas on what you can throw in your bowl.
The buddha bowl is part salad, part cooked dish. There are several ways to make a veggie meal bowl and ingredients and dressing can be different each time. Buddha bowls are very easy to make and truly versatile. And here is the perfect fall version and one of my favorite buddha bowl recipes. It’s a buddha bowl with roasted pumpkin and sweet potato on spicy arugula. This time I also added avocado, cucumber, pomegranate seeds and a very delicious artichoke parsley dip and topped it off with a mustard cashew dressing.

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VEGAN PUMPKIN EMPANADAS FROM ARGENTINA

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It is July 2007 and Argentina has the coldest winter since 90 years. On the other end of the world, in Germany, and at 40°C I step into the plane for my very first trip to South America. At that point, I was clueless on what to expect from a trip to a country which language I didn’t speak and people warned me to go due to safety issues. 7 months later I had not only found myself but also my love for food. It was only the beginning of my culinary journey and much has evolved since but I will forever be grateful to Argentina and its food.

My love affair with food started with Argentinian empanadas. It was love at first bite. If you ever tried empanadas in Argentina I guess you know what I’m talking about. It literally translates into “wrapped in bread” but this is a sheer understatement and does no justice to the diverse flavours and textures of empanadas. This savoury stable of Argentinian cuisine is served warm either as an appetizer or by its own.

This recipe is a recreation of what I remember empanadas are like, just without the meet and/or cheese but they are vegan pumpkin empanadas with peas and corn. Read more

VEGAN FEASTING IN ST. GEORG HAMBURG

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Hamburg! You hold a special place in my heart. I can’t believe it’s probably 3 or 4 years that I last visited. Not much has changed though. With the breeze still fresh, the Labskaus still the typical food and the Reeperbahn colourful and crowded as ever, Hamburg stands its ground at the German north coast. But, a big BUT, the food scene has seen some changes. Vegan, vegetarian and organic restaurants and menus predominantly appear in the cityscape, at least much more than a few years ago. Notably one neighborhood seems to attract restaurants and cafes that embrace vegan or vegetarian options, St. Georg. Here are four that I visited during my 2-days trip to Hamburg this fall. Read more