Tag Archives: vegetarian

Recipe: Desert Berry Smoothie

Turning limitation into inspiration, this is the second in a series of recipes born of a 14-day cleanse. Living in a hotel, with no kitchen appliances save a kettle, a borrowed blender, and a knife, in the middle of the Western Region deserts in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where grocery shopping leaves much to be desired. And yet, we’ve come up with some pretty tasty treats!

So what makes this recipe particularly Desert-y, you might ask.  The base of the drink is rose tea, commonly found in the Middle East.  With a hint of fresh mint and summer’s finest strawberries, it’s a potpourri of  refreshment perfect for a hot day.  Don’t forget to check out the health benefits at the end of the recipe . . .


  • 1 box of seasonal berries – I used strawberries
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint
  • 5 rose tea bags
  • optional: agave nectar, honey, molasses, or date syrup to taste


  1. Brew 5 rose tea bags in a kettle of one pint of freshly boiled water.
  2. Allow the tea to cool.  You may want to place it in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process.  If you prefer a frozen smoothie, pour the rose water into ice cube trays.
  3. Wash and prepare the strawberries and mint and place them in the blender.
  4. Add the rose water, once it’s cool, and blend.
  5. Add sweeteners to taste.

The mint in this drink is great for soothing an upset belly,and as we all know, strawberries are a great source of phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamin C, especially when consumed within two days of picking.  Additionally, strawberries are fantastic fruits for diabetics.

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website,

“…scientists have recently discovered a fascinating relationship between intake of strawberries, table sugar, and blood sugar levels. As you might expect, excess intake of table sugar (in a serving size of 5-6 teaspoons) can result in an unwanted blood sugar spike. But you might not expect this blood sugar spike to be reduced by simultaneous consumption of strawberries! Yet that’s exactly what researchers have discovered. With the equivalent of approximately one cup of fresh strawberries (approximately 150 grams), blood sugar elevations from simple sugar intake can be reduced.”

Add the claimed health benefits for rose tea, and this is one spectacular smoothie!

FYI: Cleansing Food Guidelines


Detox: The Gentle Phase

Day Two of the Gentle Phase

The feelin’ is bright, light, and optimistic. It vaguely reminds me of my raw-phase in Tucson, six months of raw vegan grinds makes for a very different daily vibe.

The consideration, planning and creativity behind making exciting dishes with a very limited selection of foods can be incredibly exhilarating – as opposed to the frustration you might imagine going into such a stringent selection of edibles. By limiting the ingredients I use, I was able to explore the possibilities of each one in greater depth. Carrots weren’t just stalks to much on. They were grated to use as part of a dip or dessert, peeled to act as noodles, or sliced into crackers, where I could pile on raw vegetarian pates!

And if your creativity rolls up on a “cooker’s block”, there are loads of suggestions on Arise and Shine’s resources page (along with lists of do’s and don’ts at the supermarket, if anyone’s curious!).

This combo-salad I munched today damn near sent me into praisin’ the lawd! It was comprised of a broccoli-apple-sunflower seed-honey-apple cider vinegar portion, a homemade salsa-perfectly ripened mango-avocado portion and a sliced cucumber-lettuce-olive oil-raisins base. I had the body wiggles all through lunch!

Warning: Salad may be tastier than it appears

Though I’ve done intense cleanses twice before, it seems no two cleanses are the same. It’s a brand spankin’ new phenomenon every time. Unique lessons are learned and my physical reactions haven’t been entirely consistent either. Then again, this is the first time I’m doing a cleanse for more than a week, totally independent of a spa or friend/coach, and with a group of three friends. That, and the most important difference: on this cleanse, I can eat solids. Twice a day during this Gentle Phase, once a day in next week’s Power Phase.

The daily sched is rather rigorous . . .

6:30 – Bentonite clay and psyllium husk shake

8:00 – Alkalizer, greens supplement, herbs

9:30 – Shake

11:00 – Herbs

12:30 – Lunch, alkalizer, greens supplement, enzymes, minerals

2:00 – Herbs

3:30 – Shake

5:00 – Herbs

6:30 – Dinner, alkalizer, greens supplement, enzymes

8:00 – Herbs

9:00 – Probiotics

Part of the reason I love these cleanses is they help you press the ‘reset’ button if your nutritional lifestyle’s been gettin’ outta whack for any reason. And as we all know, there are millions of reasons why that could happen! Stress at work, loneliness, travel, feeding a family of varied tastes, perceived lack of time, laziness and the binding effects of good old fashioned habit.

I consider myself a relatively conscious eater, but these cleanses are always beneficial, physically and psychologically. It’s not easy keeping this mind when I look up and there’s a delightful box of dark chocolates staring back at me on my workplace desk. But I enjoy the challenge. Having the chocolates there is a reminder: of course I’m free to partake in whatever I want, but I’ve made a choice to complete this detox in as positive and thorough a way as possible.

And that’s exactly what’s goin’ on./em>

Recipe: Raw Vegan Banana Almond Crunch

Turning limitation into inspiration, this is the first in a series of recipes born of a 14-day cleanse.  Living in a hotel, with no kitchen appliances save a kettle and a knife, in the middle of the Western Region deserts in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where grocery shopping leaves much to be desired.  And yet, we’ve come up with some pretty tasty treats!

Mmmmm . . . divine taste, divine health.  This is the perfect compliment to all these yummy salads, soups and steamed veggie plates we’ve been munching on.  Because after a few days, crunching down on veggies loses some of its charm – and I was jonzin’ for a sweet sumpin’ sumpin’!


  • 2 cups raw soaked almonds
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 avocado
  • ginger to taste
  • cinnamon to taste
  • agave nectar, honey, or date syrup to taste
  • optional: vanilla extract, nutmeg, coconut oil, flaxseed oil.  You could also add sea salt or soy milk if you’re not on a cleanse and turn the custard into a kick-booty shake!


There are so few steps necessary for this dessert, it almost seems silly to list them.  But for the sake of consistency, here we go!

  1. Soak the almonds over night in cool drinkable water.  Make sure the top is covered enough so no unwanted visitors can get inside.
  2. Using a food processor, if it’s available, puree the almonds with a little bit of water.
  3. Chop up the ginger nice and fine.  Start out adding just a marble-sized portion or less.
  4. Add all the ingredients to a blender and . . . voila!  You have a scrumptious and healthy addition to your diet.  Even if you’re cleansing!

FYI: Cleansing Food Guidelines

Hella Halloumi

Yum!  One of my favorite – and most underrated – cheeses on the market.  But where did such a gustatory wonder come from?

Halloumi originated in Cyprus and was initially created back in the Medieval Byzantine days.  It’s found throughout the Middle East – though my first experience with the rubbery wonder was in a NE corner of London, where Cypriot immigrants offered halloumi, feta and olives by the pound (not to mention a good slice of heroin down the road, or so the scene appeared from afar!).

Traditionally, the cheese is made from a combination of goat and sheep’s cheese, though these days, industrial halloumi contains more cow’s milk and isn’t aged as long – yes, it’s officially been touched by the white(r) man!  Mint leaves were used as a preservative before the invention of the refrigerator, and many modern packages of halloumi will have bits of mint leaf on the surface of the cheese.  Fancy!

Hairy 80’s models – and your grandma – are big fans of the halloumi!

As I’m sure the halloumi pimps in the video would tell you, this cheese is wonderfully versatile.  Often fried until a crispy golden brown without melting due to its higher-than-normal melting point, halloumi is especially good for kebabs, roasts, or as an ingredient in salads.   The halloumi – carmelized onion combo is pretty damn killer, in my books!

My Latest Nibble

At the Abu Dhabi mall, our first weekend trip to the city, we delved into some multi-grain Halloumi wraps and a big plate fulla veggies.   Soft and herby, this wrap fully hit the spot after a long day of abaya-gazing and shopping.

Quick calorie facts: 100 grams of halloumi cheese has about 320 calories and a typical serving of 1 oz., or 30 g, contains 94 calories.  It’s a great source of protein (what up all you vegetarians out there!), but beware the sodium.  This cheesy bady boy packs a salty punch!

Interesting (well, I thought so) Tid Bit

Halloumi is currently registered as a protected Cypriot product within the US but not the EU. The delay in registering the name halloumi with the EU has been largely due to a conflict between dairy producers and sheep and goat farmers as to whether registered halloumi will contain cow’s milk or not – and if so, at what ratios with sheep and goat’s milk. If it is registered as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) it will enjoy the same safeguards as 600 or so other agricultural products such as feta and parmesan cheese.  Perhaps the row over halloumi’s true recipe could explain why – oh why – it’s just not as popular as its modern counter-cheeses.

And now, for the fight you’ve all been waiting for!  In the blue corner, weighing in at 3.2 ounces, the uncontested champion of exotic Mediterranean cheeses, Fetaaaaaahhhh!  And, in the red corner, the underdog from the underbelly of Cyprus, 3 ounces of deadly deliciousness, HALLOUMIIIIIII!


A rather Libran end to the whole fighting fiasco.  Aaaaaahhhh….love wins in the end.  Hehe.

You Likey De Hummus?

Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea, and is a staple in this little corner of the world.  It’s a dish that’s been around for at least 7,000 years, and was first developed by the Egyptians.  I’ve had some of the most amazingly fine hummus here, literally grounded into a creamy spread like nothing I’ve had before. The dish is found at all times of the day, including breakfast – and is so popular I found this sweet little blog dedicated entirely to the love of hummus: Hummus 101

Guinness Book of Hummus Records!

Here’s a recipe, in case you’d like to try your hand at it back home.  You could also experiment with variations on the bean, using broadbeans, fava beans, or even kidney beans instead of the traditional garbanzo.  Alternate toppings include extra virgin olive oil, sprinklings of garlic, olives, or, if you’re into it, any kind of ground meats (preferably free range, grass-fed, locally raised, and all that jazz…). It’s super easy and only requires a handful of healthy ingredients!


  • 4 garlic cloves, minced and then mashed
  • 2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup of tahini (roasted, not raw)
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Pine nuts (toasted) and parsley (chopped) for garnish


1 In a food processor, combine the mashed garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt, starting at a half a teaspoon, to taste.

2 Spoon into serving dish and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.

Serve with crackers, raw dip vegetables such as carrots or celery, or with pita bread. You can cut the pita bread into thin triangles, brush with olive oil and toast for 10 minutes in a 400°F oven to make pita chips with which to serve the hummus.

Makes about 3 cups.

Ho, grind ‘um, cuz!

And as if the tasty goodness weren’t enough, the dish can be very nutritious as well (so long as you’re not topping it with something nasty!). 

Chickpeas are a fantastic source of fiber – the kind that digests slowly and keeps blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly.  So, if you have diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia, this is a dish for your menu!
Chickpeas also contain molybdenum, a trace mineral that helps the body detoxify sulfites, as well as iron and manganese, which are essential for healthy blood and high energy.