GF Sugar-Free Pancakes, Workouts & a Relaxed NYE | Hello, 2018! | What I Eat #53

I had a really relaxed and wonderful New Year’s Eve and Day with friends and family. It honestly couldn’t have gone much better — I didn’t want a loud NYE this year and I had such a great day of eating, plus working out. It was a gorgeous start to 2018 and I hope it means more good things.

People mentioned: Dana Zubari | Mahmood Janahi

Fluffy, GF & Sugar-Free Pancake Recipe | Gooey Oat, Pecan & Raisin Cookies Recipe


As always, bilafiya
(well wishes and wellbeing)

Fluffy, GF & Sugar-Free Pancakes

I woke up late on New Year’s Day, and lazed around in bed wondering what I could whip up for breakfast that would make for a nice brunch for my family and I. Once pancakes popped into my head, there was no getting them out — especially as a I rarely have them. This recipe, though, is a favourite because it’s devoid of any sugar, just naturally sweetened with a banana.

ingredients for gluten free banana pancakes shown banana chocolate chips eggs buckwheat flour and soy milk

Keep scrolling for the recipe

The best thing about this recipe is how simple it is. You just whisk the wet ingredients together (including the banana), then add in the dry.

Once your mix is done, you can add whatever you like, whether its chocolate chips as we went for on New Year’s Day, or my usual mix of handful of walnuts or blueberries.

Fluffy, GF & Sugar-Free Pancakes
Gluten-free, vegan (if egg subbed out) and naturally sweetened, these are a great weekend brunch recipe that I love whipping up
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 9
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour*
  • 1 mashed banana
  • ½ cup soy milk**
  • 2 eggs (or flax egg)
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅓ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  1. The recipe is simple! Whisk your wet ingredients together (including the banana), then add in the dry.
  2. Once your mix is done, you can add in the chocolate chips if you're choosing to indulge, but I usually prefer to add in a handful of blueberries and walnuts.
  3. Once the mix is ready, use a cup-measurement to scoop them out if you want uniform pancakes. I use a ¼ cup and it usually makes 9 or 10.
  4. Once you see bubbles begin to form, flip your pancake over and cook the other side. Usually this takes 2-3 minutes per side on a medium heat.
* You can use plain flour if you like, spelt flour and rye flour are also good options

** You can substitute with whichever milk you prefer

Stack those babies up and enjoy! My brother chose to have his with Nutella and sliced banana, whereas I preferred to have blueberries, banana, and maple syrup drizzled over mine.

Whichever topping you chose, these fluffy, delicious pancakes will go down a treat! Ready in minutes and hugely satisfying, I find they really keep me happily full for hours. If you, like me, make them for yourself alone sometimes, the best way to heat these up is actually by popping them in a toaster for a bit, rather than a microwave. You keep the crispiness that way!

As always, bilafiya
(well wishes and wellbeing)

Pomegranate Chilli Tofu

Eating more plant-based food is a major passion of mine, although I am (clearly, as you see with my recipes) fully plant-based. It’s vastly better for the environment and as a rule it’s more humane. Usually my food is plant-based by default, but here I tried to create recipes there were flavourful and hearty.

Pomegranate syrup is a staple in a lot of Arab cooking, and I was curious to see how I could bring that into different vegan dishes.


You will need:
(Vegan, GF)

  • 400g firm tofu
  • 3 carrots
  • 3-4 small courgettes or one large
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp pomegranate syrup*
  • Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • olive oil & salt

Optional (to serve alongside):

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3 cups mixed greens

* If you can’t find pomegranate syrup where you are, substitute for balsamic glaze.
For the roasted vegetables, you can obviously use whatever you have on hand or you favourite veggies.


The spices are what’s important to bring this dish together. I’ve focused on quite Arab flavours for both the veg and the tofu.


Chop up your veggies, add your spices and drizzle with olive oil (you don’t need much). Pop it in the oven at 200C for 35-40mins.


For the tofu, you’ll need the pomegranate syrup and chilli flakes.


Place the tofu under something heavy (I used a cast-iron lid) and let the liquid drain out on kitchen paper.

Cut up the tofu into strips.


Lay out your tofu in a hot pan — griddle if you’ve got one, but a normal pan works too (I did both to show that it doesn’t make a difference.


Once your tofu has browned, flip it over and get it to cook on the other side.


Then add your pomegranate syrup and chilli flakes, and let it caramelise.


Here’s an example in a regular pan. No loss in flavour, just no griddle marks.


I was doing this as meal prep, so I served them up in glass tupperware and it made enough for three meals. I had it on a bed of mixed greens, 1/2 cup of brown rice, a third of the roasted veg we made and six slices of tofu per portion.


Tell me that doesn’t look absolutely delicious. I’ve always been on the fence with tofu, but when cooked right it is so damn good.


How do you feel about this meal? Do you like tofu or do you need more convincing? Let me know in the comments if you’d be up for making this meal.

Vibrant Tofu Coconut Curry

A little change of pace here on Sand Kitchen — decided to create a recipe that was specifically geared toward tofu. I know I often suggest using it as a substitute for meat to make something veggie/vegan, but as with all things, starting with it naturally means I can work with the flavour profiles better.


Let’s start with the tofu, which we’re going to marinate while we do the rest of our chopping and cooking.

You will need:

  • 300g firm tofu (in fact, extra firm would be better)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil


Ideally, you will have drained your tofu an hour or two in advance and placed it on some kitchen roll or a hand towel to drain off the excess. This will just make it crisp up a bit more. If you haven’t, no big deal, I didn’t have time and so just placed something heavy on top of it to try and get as much of the water out as possible. Then just chop up your tofu into squares.


Scatter your herbs and spices mix on top of the tofu with a little drizzle of olive oil and leave it to marinate.


For the rest of the curry, you will need:

  • One onion, in chunks
  • Two bell peppers; I used one yellow, one green
  • 500-700g mushrooms; I used a mix of shiitake and button
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk powder*
  • 1 inch diced ginger
  • 3 diced garlic cloves
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves**

* – you can substitute this with just coconut milk, I find powder easier sometimes because it keeps longer in the cupboard, and I can use less of it to decrease the fats in the meal
** – 
substitute with bay leaves if you can’t get ahold of kaffir


First, fry off your tofu. This should take about 5-10 minutes, until they pick up some colour. When they do, take them out.


In the same pan, add your mushrooms. Don’t add oil here, the mushrooms will naturally sweat out the water and shrink in size.


Once the mushrooms begin to shrink, add your ginger and garlic to flavour the mix.


In a pot, put your onion chunks, peppers, and mushrooms together and give them a toss.


Then add in your tofu and your coconut milk powder.


Add enough water to cover it, about 1 litre, plus your kaffir lime leaves, and leave it to simmer for about half an hour.


And voila — all done! I actually completely forgot to take pictures of this served — apologies! I made it as a meal prep, and that’s why. For me, it made enough for three portions and I served it up with a side of brown rice.

Let me know how you get on with this. Any other recipes with dietary restrictions you’d like to see?

As always, bilafiya
(well wishes and wellbeing)

Rice & Mushroom Salad | Meal Prep

I’d say at least 90 per cent of the meals I make can be used as meal prep, and are easy enough to divide and store either in the fridge (which is what I usually do) or freezer for the week.

This recipe is particularly easy to throw together, delicious and vibrant to the eye. It’s gluten-free and can easily be made vegan by substituting the boiled egg for another form of protein — I’d suggest either tofu or beans.

Salad_15 copy

You will need:
GF, can be vegan

  • A handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • One red onion, diced
  • Half a hot pepper (I used habanero)
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Half a head of cabbage (I used purple)
  • A bell pepper, diced
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • A head of lettuce
  • 1 cup of cooked rice (I used half brown, half black)
  • 3 boiled eggs (or vegan protein alternative)
  • Half a tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sumac powder (alternative listed below)
  • Salt to taste


Start by slicing up your mushrooms.

Salad_10 copy

Then chop up your onion, chilli, and garlic. Pop all of these in a pan with a little olive oil and fry them off until they get a bit of colour.


At this stage, add your mushrooms and your sumac powder. If you don’t have sumac or access to it, go in with half the zest of a lemon, plus a little of the juice, and some black pepper.

Salad_09 copy

Chop up your bell pepper, cabbage, and parsley.

Salad_22 copy

Mix all your cooked and chopped ingredients together, except for the lettuce and boiled egg.

Salad_24 copy

Divide the portion into the three, and serve on a bed of lettuce with a boiled egg for each container.

Salad_26 copy

And there you have it — vibrant, easy, 20-minute meal prep that will yield you three meals.

As always, bilafiya
(well wishes and wellbeing)

New York, New York | 18k Gold Toilets, GF Pizzas and Peanut Butter Cups | What I Eat #25

This video technically should have gone up after my Seattle and Portland vlogs, but I decided to upload my birthday weekend and the Dubai Food Festival because they were more time-sensitive. So here’s New York! We walk in the snow, go around the Guggenheim, and I show you some of my favourite pieces. I pee in a 18 karat toilet. I avoided wheat while I was there so we mostly went to places that offered gluten-free foods, and that pizza was actually really good. The snow tickled me and made me quite happy, and although I had a bit of a (off-camera) moment late in the day, the fries and peanut butter cups really helped chirp my mood back up.

As always, bilafiya (well wishes and wellbeing)

Think Pink: Berry Smoothie Bowl

I’m a huge advocate for breast cancer awareness and research. I had my first thorough check-up at 25 last year and got the all-clear, but I strongly encourage young women to make sure they’re checked. We’re at a point where we have to take responsibility for our health, both current and future. Studies show that women in the Middle East seem to get breast cancer earlier than their Western counterparts, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early.

With that in mind, I wanted to do a post for breast cancer awareness. It had to be pink, of course, so here it is — a berry smoothie bowl!


Simple, nutritious, and involving only reasonably-priced ingredients. These bowls are often ludicrous to make because of the so-called “superfood” additions, which are usually quite pricey. I’ll tell you what the optional extras are, if you have them, but I made it without just to show you don’t need them.

You will need (serves one):
V & GF

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • a splash of almond milk


Pop all your ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth, about 3-4 minutes for me. I added a couple of ice cubes just because I knew I was going to be taking photographs for this post and didn’t want the end result to melt too early before I ate it! You don’t need the ice.

If you like your citrus, go ahead and add the juice of a whole lemon.

If you have goji berries in your cupboard, adding a tablespoon here would work great as they’re high in iron and vitamins A and C in particular.


That said, in my original ingredients you get your magnesium from the bananas, your antioxidants from the berries, vitamin C from the lemon juice and of course, there’s the ginger. Ginger boosts immunity, is anti-inflammatory, helps with ulcers and fights cancer (through delaying growth of colorectal cancer cells).


We all know toppings is where it’s at with these smoothie bowls — for my breast cancer edition, I split my portion into two smaller bowls and topped it with sesame seeds and dried cranberries. These looked like some pretty effective boobs, but it wouldn’t have tasted great without a little sprinkling of something crunchy.


So I added a bit of my homemade granola on the side. If you haven’t got any granola, some chopped nuts would work well, or a sprinkling of seeds.

Two breast cancer charities I love (I’m not sponsored by either): Think Pink Bahrain and Coppa Feel. Check them out and make sure to cop a feel in the shower! Women and men.

As always, bilafiya (well wishes and wellbeing)