Ginger Sweet Potato Dal with Leeks


These are not your average lentils, folks.

I know I talk about almost crying over food all the time. But in this case, I came dangerously close.

I love anything lentils, and sweet potatoes are also one of my favorite things. Even though I usually ignore leeks at the grocery store, I like those a lot, too. They’re so subtle, and add a less overwhelming flavor to a dish than a whole onion or shallot.

This recipe calls for a little juggling: Depending on when you start everything, you could be cooking and simmering dal, steaming rice and sautéing leeks at the same time. But trust me when I say, the effort is well worth it.

Wait to take the dal off the heat until the sweet potatoes are tender, but not too soft. If you want to buy yourself some time while the leeks cook, you can add more water to the pot.

The smell when you cook the leeks in salt and lime…I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.

I would strongly urge–no, implore–you to try this recipe as soon as possible. I know not everyone is as big of a fan as lentils, sweet potato and leeks as I am. But I can’t imagine this dish not being universally loved.

Ginger Sweet Potato Dal with Leeks (slightly adapted from The First Mess)


For the dal:
2-3 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of chili flakes
1 cup red lentils
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced small
1 two inch piece of ginger, peeled + minced
1 one inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled + minced (or substitute 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)
3 1/2 cups filtered water + extra if necessary
salt to taste

For the leeks:
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 leek, white and light green part julienned (if you don’t know how to julienne, here’s a good tutorial)
squeeze of lime juice
pinch of salt

To serve:
cooked, warm rice
chopped parsley, cilantro or mint (or a combination)
black sesame seeds (very optional, yet they do add a certain je ne sais quoi)


Place a large pot over medium heat. Heat up the coconut oil in the pot and add the ground coriander, mustard seeds and chili flakes. Stir about until the mustard seeds start to pop just a little bit.

Add the lentils, diced sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir the whole mixture to combine/coat in oil. Add the filtered water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture is creamy and soupy, stirring occasionally. The sweet potato pieces should still be intact with a tiny bit of bite. The lentils will be broken down, filling out the mixture. Add more water if you need to. Keep it warm while you sauté the leeks.

Heat the coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks to the pan and sauté until leeks are soft and very fragrant. Season with salt. Add a squeeze of lime. Remove from the heat.

To serve: Divide the hot dal over 4 portions of rice. Top the dal with sautéed leeks and a few dribbles of the coconut oil left in the pan. Garnish each serving with the chopped herbs and black sesame seeds.


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Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies


I don’t know about you, but my favorite kind of brownie verges on being illegal.

And by that, I mean that it probably shouldn’t be allowed without some kind of disclaimer about its addictive qualities. You won’t be able to eat just one. But then again, why would you want to?

These brownies are gooey, soft, chocolatey and rich. In short, they are everything a good brownie should be. I made them today for my friend Carly’s Valentine’s Day card party. She said that she was serving different kinds of ice cream and I thought that it would be a good pairing.

I was right. While these brownies are good on their own, adding a scoop of salted caramel, coffee or vanilla ice cream on top takes them to another level.

Another disclaimer: When you’re baking these brownies, a chocolate smell will invade your apartment/house/condo/living space that is unlike any smell you’ve ever experienced before. Most of us are familiar with the scent of baking brownies. But trust me when I say that the smell from these brownies is unreal. Proceed at your own risk.

Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies (from here)


10 tablespoons (145 g) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 rounded teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (70 g) all-purpose flour (we use Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour)
2/3 cup (75 g) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. (This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled).

Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).

Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.

Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.

When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be quite thick). Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in lined pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter). Note: Some have found they need to bake an extra 10 minutes, so keep an eye on the doneness of the brownies and use the toothpick test as your guide.

Cool completely then remove from pan. For the cleanest lines when cutting, place into freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into 16 squares.

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Banana Bread Smoothie with Cacao Nibs


Don’t let the name fool you: There is no banana bread in the making of this shake.

That’s okay, though, because the shake tastes a lot like banana bread. And the best part is, you don’t have to do the extra work involved in making a loaf.

I like to have smoothies for breakfast on the weekends, but lately I’ve fallen into a smoothie rut. I kept going with my tried-and-true recipe of frozen mangos, pineapple, banana, chia seeds and coconut, which is great most of the time. Especially when I want to pretend I’m on a tropical island, not in the middle of a D.C. winter.

But every now and again, I like to switch things up. So this weekend, I decided to riff off a recipe I saw on The First Mess for a banana bread shake.

I skipped the step of making my own walnut milk, mainly because I forgot to soak the walnuts overnight so I could blend them in the morning. I fully intend to try that out someday, though–I’m sure it tastes delicious.

The rest of the shake came together quickly. I used a whole fresh banana, and combined it with almond milk, pieces of walnut (to still get the walnut taste), cacao nibs, a little vanilla extract, cinnamon, maple syrup and nutmeg. I also added a vanilla Icelandic yogurt to thicken up the mixture. I garnished the top with more cacao nibs, chia seeds, sliced bananas and a pinch of Maldon sea salt.

I highly recommend adding the salt. It contrasts nicely with the other, sweeter ingredients in the smoothie.



Banana Bread Smoothie with Cacao Nibs (adapted from The First Mess)


3 cups almond or other nut milk
1 small container vanilla Icelandic yogurt (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup sliced bananas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup walnuts
ice (optional)
2 tbsp cacao nibs

Toppings of your choice (I used chia seeds, sliced bananas, more cacao nibs and Maldon salt flakes)


In an upright blender, combine the milk, yogurt, sliced bananas, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, walnuts and maple syrup (and ice, if using). Blend on high until you have a creamy and smooth mixture. Add the cacao nibs and blend for 10 seconds more–just so that you have little cacao “chips” throughout the drink.

Pour the raw banana bread shake into glasses and garnish with toppings if you like. Serve cold.

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Drinks, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coconut Curry Hot Chocolate


Sometimes, you stumble across your recipe soul mate. That’s what happened when I saw this coconut curry hot chocolate.

The recipe combines two things I love, chocolate and curry. And it also offers a lesson in patience and damage control, as I attempted to make the marshmallows from scratch.

Joy the Baker (who originally blogged about the recipe) said that it would be easier than you’d think to make the marshmallows. She also mentioned something about powdered sugar getting all over the kitchen, but I took that worth a grain of salt. I like to clean up as a I cook, and I’m not a very messy baker.

Well, Joy did not lie about the powdered sugar. Halfway into making the marshmallows it looked like the beginning of #snowmg in my kitchen. But she was wrong about it being easy. I thought the recipe was challenging, not so much from a labor perspective but from a timing perspective. You have to keep an eye on the sugar as it cooks down, and make sure it gets to 240 degrees. You also have to pour it very carefully into the mixer with the gelatin and make sure that it doesn’t splatter.

But in the end, everything worked out for the best. I let the marshmallows sit overnight, and when I woke up in the morning, they were the perfect consistency: fluffy and light like a cloud. The hot chocolate comes together quickly, so it makes up for all the steps you had to do to make the marshmallows.

Coconut Curry Hot Chocolate (slightly adapted from Joy the Baker)


For the Marshmallows
1 cup cold water, divided
2 1/4-ounce packages unflavored gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, plus 1/4 teaspoon for the pan and topping
1 cup powdered sugar, for coating the pan and topping the marshmallows

For the Hot Chocolate
2 cups coconut milk
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 ounces dark chocolate (65% or higher cocoa content), chopped
1/2 teaspoon curry powder


To make the marshmallows, spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and coat with the powdered sugar and a sprinkling of curry. Set aside.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment. Pour the two gelatin packs over the cold water and let sit for about 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, corn syrup, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup cold water to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and bring mixture up to 240 degrees F. There’s no need to stir the mixture, just let it get hot.

When the sugar is heated to 240 degrees F, turn the mixer with the gelatin and water on low speed. Carefully stream the hot sugar mixture into the bowl as the whisk moves. Be careful not to pour into the whisk and spatter the hot sugar all over the sides of the bowl. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer until you’ve added all of the hot sugar mixture. Beat on high for several minutes until a thick, fluffy, white marshmallow batter has formed, about 8 minutes. Pour in the vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon curry and beat for another 2 minutes.

Spread the marshmallow mixture into prepared pan and smooth with a clean, wet spatula to prevent sticking. Top marshmallow with powdered sugar and a sprinkling of curry powder, let set and rest for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When set, remove marshmallow from the pan and place on a large cutting board coated with powdered sugar, Use a pizza cutter, coated with non-stick cooking spray to slice marshmallows. Coat the knife blade in a bit of powdered sugar if it begins to stick to the marshmallows during slicing.

To make the hot chocolate, place coconut milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Warm to steaming and add the sugar and chopped chocolate. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is completely melted. Stir in curry powder. Serve warm with a marshmallow.

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Kale Broccoli Bowl with Roasted Chickpeas


Everyone, meet kale broccoli bowl. Kale broccoli bowl, meet everyone. I’m going to introduce you to coconut curry hot chocolate later this week. But I thought I’d get this introduction out of the way, first.

Sunday nights are a time for reflection, and usually, this involves thinking about what I ate during the past weekend. I like to indulge on weekends, with as many cookies and sweets as my heart desires. So sometimes, I bring it down a notch on Sunday nights and go with a healthier option. Tonight, this kale broccoli bowl fit the bill.

Grapefruit and avocado are two of my favorite things, and crispy chickpeas also rank highly. I think chickpeas taste best when they’re roasted and crunchy, and combined with the perfect amount of salt and seasoning. The ones in this recipe have a dash of spicy cayenne and soy sauce, which gives them a kick.

Toward the end of making this salad, I realized that this song was playing on my Spotify. It seemed kind of ironic:

Feel free to add your own soundtrack. And enjoy!

Kale Broccoli Bowl with Roasted Chickpeas (slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest)


Lemon Tahini Dressing
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
juice + zest from 1 lemon (use only half of the zest)
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
salt + pepper, to taste

Kale Bowl
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups Tuscan kale, roughly torn
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/4 head purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup fresh parley + cilantro, roughly chopped
hemp seeds + chia seeds, for topping
2 red grapefruits, segmented
2 ripe, but firm avocados, sliced or chopped


Lemon Tahini Dressing: Add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined. Taste and adjust salt + pepper to your liking. Alternately you can add the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. The dressing can be made a week in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use.

Kale Bowl: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the chickpeas out on a towel and dry them completely. Add the chickpeas and coconut to a baking sheet and toss with the soy sauce, sesame oil and cayenne pepper. Toss well to evenly coat. Roast for 20 minutes and then stir the chickpeas around and roast another 10 minutes or until the chickpeas are browned and the coconut is dark brown. Remove from the oven. Save any leftovers for snacking on later.

Add the kale to a large bowl and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Using your hands, massage the kale for 2-3 minutes until the kale is well coated and has slightly softened. To the bowl add the broccoli, cabbage, parsley and cilantro. Toss well. Add the dressing and continue to toss until all the veggies are coated. Add the grapefruit segments and avocado. Gently toss to combine. At this point, you can cover and store the salad in the fridge for up to 24 hours or continue on with the recipe.Divide the salad into bowls. Top with the crunchy coconut chickpeas and a sprinkle of chia + hemp seeds.

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Pistachio Rose Water Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Rose Water Cookies

I’d never had rose water cookies until I lived in France. There was a Middle Eastern bakery on one of the popular streets in Orleans, right across from a bar that my friends and I would go to. One night, I got hungry after I started drinking and I saw that the bakery was still open. My friend and I decided to go inside.

Walking through the door was a little like stepping into a different world. There was sitar music playing, you could smell mint tea and behind a glass case, there were rows and rows of colorful cookies, all tiny and delicately shaped. There were also stacks of Turkish delight, vibrantly colored and dusted with powdered sugar. I remember saying to my friend, how am I going to choose? In the end, I think we just got one of everything.

I still miss that shop in France, and I’ve had trouble finding something similar in the U.S. And I never forgot the rose water pistachio cookies I tried there. So this weekend, I decided to try to recreate them.

Rose water is so fragrant and sweet, it’s almost like a perfume. But don’t worry–it’s not so perfume-y that putting it in cookies doesn’t make sense. Once you bake the cookies the flavor becomes more subtle, and the pistachio balances out the sweetness.

The original recipe calls for baking the cookies at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, but I found that was too short. I ended up increasing the heat to 350 degrees, and it took around 25 minutes for them to bake. But if you start with a higher temp and check them often, I bet you can bake them for around 15 minutes.

Pistachio Rose Water Shortbread Cookies (adapted slightly from here)


1¾ cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp. salt
1½ sticks of unsalted butter (cut in cubes)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ Tbsp. rosewater
1 Tbsp. water
½ cup pistachios


Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times until well blended.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until the mixture begins to form a ball.

Remove from food processor and place on a lightly floured surface. Bring together into a large ball.

Cut ball into two equal parts.

Roll out each part into a 9″ log that’s about 1 inch thick. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 3 hours (or overnight if you want to).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut cookies into ½ inch circles, place on a greased baking sheet and bake approximately 12-15 minutes or until they appear golden brown on the edge.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar after they cool.


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Baked Banana Oatmeal with Raspberries and Cashews


Nothing says the day after a blizzard like baked oatmeal. I woke up the morning after the snow stopped in D.C. and I was going to make a smoothie.

But then I sat in bed for a while scrolling through pictures of oatmeal on Instagram, and I decided to change my game plan. When I saw this recipe for baked banana oatmeal with raspberries, it practically jumped off the screen saying “make me now.”

I was worried because in the picture, the oatmeal is served in ramekins. And I didn’t think that I had any lying around. Then I remembered that I had an old creme brûlée kit that came with four china ramekins, so I dug that out of the closet.

The dish comes together quickly, and the smell of the oatmeal as it bakes in the oven is nothing short of heavenly. The smell is a combination of banana bread, nuts and a berry crisp…I’m almost tearing up just thinking about it (this is not an exaggeration).

I also wanted to give a shout out to this blog, Rebel Recipes. I found the baked oatmeal recipe through the blog’s Instagram handle but then I visited the site. It’s very vegetarian and vegan-friendly and there’s no shortage of delicious, healthy breakfast recipes. I’m all about pancakes and French toast, but if you’re looking for colorful smoothies and oatmeal dishes, this is the blog for you.

Baked Banana Oatmeal with Raspberries and Cashews (slightly adapted from Rebel Recipes)


1/2 cup organic oats
1 mashed up banana
1 tsp baking powder
1tbsp sweetener – coconut syrup, maple, honey, agave; I used raw honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 cup cashews
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 banana cut into slices
Few more raspberries


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl then add in the banana, sweetener, vanilla extract and almond milk.

Mix everything together and the divide between four small ramekins or two large ramekins. Top with some banana slices and raspberries.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes then allow to cool for a few minutes.

I highly recommend drizzling with some maple syrup to finish. Enjoy!

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