Salty, Recipes

Pomegranate Lentils

One of my favorite Lebanese-inspired dishes!

As a child, my mom used to prepare minced meat in pomegranate molasses with onions and pine nuts as stuffing in the traditional ‘Kebbe’ dish. Not a big fan of ‘Kebbe’ myself, I used to take out the stuffing and enjoy it on its own with mashed potatoes.

Definitely one of my favorite comfort-foods, this was one of the first things I needed to turn Vegan, and trust me when I say it tastes even better cruelty-free!

You will find a similar recipe for the pomegranate lentil mix in my Kebbe stuffing; the spices used here and ratios differ slightly.

Enjoy my pomegranate lentils with mashed potatoes, rice, or even macaroni!

Let me know if you try it, tweak it, like it or love it!


Ingredients: (2 servings) 🛒

  • 1 big onion
  • 1/2 cup green or brown lentils
  • 2 tbsps raw pine nuts
  • 2 tbsps+ pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsps Vegetable Oil (Sunflower or Olive)
  • 2 tsps Sumac
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon and Sweet Pepper
  • Salt to taste

For the mash:

  • 1 big potato
  • 2 tbsps Oat Milk
  • 2 tsps Margarine
  • Salt to taste

👩🏽‍🍳Preparation👩🏽‍🍳:

  1. Place lentils in a pot with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer until lentils are completely soft (this should take no more than 20-30min). Add water if lentils dry up, but aren’t cooked yet.
    ⚠️Different green/brown lentils have different cooking instructions. Check the packaging, or to stay on the safe side, wash your lentils and let them soak in the water for 10 min. before cooking. As long as you end up with very well cooked and soft lentils, you’re good to go!
  2. While the lentils cook, dice the onion in fine pieces, add to a pan with the oil and pine nuts, mix, and fry on medium to low heat until completely soft. Stir throughout to avoid burning (yes, it takes time. No, you’re not doing anything wrong).
  3. Drain cooked lentils.
  4. Once onion pieces soften, add cinnamon and sweet pepper, mix well, then add cooked and drained lentils to the pan, mix well. Turn to medium heat.
  5. Add Sumac and mix well. With a wooden spoon, lightly mash the lentils as you mix them with the onion.
  6. Turn to low heat, add the first tbsp of pomegranate molasses and mix well (some people who aren’t used to the taste of the molasses might want to stop here, just salt to taste). Taste, and add second tablespoon or more!
  7. Salt to taste. Turn off heat.

For the mash:

  1. Peel and either boil or poke your potato with a fork a few times, and pop it in the microwave for 5-6min.
  2. Once cooked, mash it really well with a fork, and while still hot, place the margarine in the middle and keep turning around the mix around until margarine completely melts.
  3. Add first tablespoon of oat milk, mix well. Depending on how soft you like your mash, you may or may not like to add the second tablespoon.
  4. Salt to taste. Pinch of Nutmeg Optional!

Serving 🍴:

  • Serve warm, and either sprinkle some additional Sumac on top, or add some molasses.
  • Option to serve with fresh pomegranate seeds!

I really hope you have fun preparing this one. Please do not hesitate to DM me on IG or email me if you have any questions of trouble in the process !!

Lifestyle

My Story

Three years, an Instagram page, and more than 14 recipes; time to celebrate the Vegan Whisper’s first anniversary, that’s right, we’re turning one!

I figured the best way to celebrate would be to (finally) release a VW- tailored guide to transitioning to veganism, inspired by my own journey. Whether you’d like to cut off your animal product intake, adopt a plant-based lifestyle, or turn completely vegan, I’m releasing a guide just for you!

I am very proud and happy with my own lifestyle which rests on a particular mindset I carefully crafted throughout the years; it relies on flexibility, transparency, curiosity, and simplicity. As you’ll discover, I religiously think the most important advice I could give is that no book, no influencer, no blogger, or nutritionist, no movement, group, or trend, no parent or friend should draw the lines, conditions, and stages of your journey; YOU are the one that decides how when and why to do this, whether it feels right or not, what you’d like to gain from it, and how you feel about it.

My guide will include some personal tips and some interesting insights I wish someone had shared with me during my own transition. You can now find it as a section under “Lifestyle” in my Menu! I will be gradually releasing different sections – make sure to follow me on IG, or follow my blog to stay updated!

In the meantime, here is my journey towards veganism, which inspired the guide. Happy reading, and never hesitate to email or DM me for any inquiries!


How it started

Believe it or not, pre-2017, I barely ate any fruits!

My diet consisted mostly of meat, chicken, legumes, grains, and salad. I never liked fish except for the occasional grilled salmon, but really enjoyed cooking and eating stews based on meat and chicken, not to mention the incredible amount of dairy I had every day (from milk to Lebanese yoghurts and lots of Cheese Mana’eesh). My mom had to beg me to eat fruits; I only liked green apples and cherries, and those weren’t always easy to come by!

Whenever I met a vegetarian or vegan, I remember feeling admiration, respect, but for some reason, it wouldn’t stir any kind of motivation to adopt that lifestyle myself. I somehow felt detached from these people, like I was a different category of human, and these diets were not an option for me. I never held any strong opinions about plant-based diets, but I simply never thought about them much.

Flash-forward to March 2017, when diet culture was still a thing in my life and I wasn’t as aware as I am now of its highly toxic nature; I had a friend who offered a 2 week ‘detox’ program with 24/7 tips and support that involved going completely vegan and gluten-free for 14 days, including 2 juicing days (which to be honest I really enjoyed! I would love to do these again).

Mother’s day was coming up, and I decided to offer my mom that program to lose some weight, and experience what it would be like. Now obviously, that meant having LOTS of veggies and fruits (as much as we wanted actually), which didn’t sit very well with my taste buds at the beginning, but this was a challenge, and I thought it would be fun to try it out.

Story short, the whole experience was absolutely life-changing. First off, I had never felt better in my body than during these 14 days, I rekindled my flame with fruits and seeds, I started to appreciate spices and different flavors more, and my whole outlook on animal products just shifted completely. From having them as a major player in my food consumption to completely not even wanting to consume them anymore; this is where it started.

I then decided to try and maintain a sort of plant-based lifestyle; the benefits of that ‘detox’ program, including better sleep and less-painful periods, completely convinced me to set a plant-based lifestyle as a goal.

Being the moderate and control freak that I am, I decided to take it slow.

It took me 6 months, from the day I decided I wanted to be a vegetarian, to actually become one.


How it went

I set myself the goal to only consume meat or chicken 4 days a week for around a month, then 3 days a week for another and another, until I felt like reducing that rate to weekends only.

Honestly, hadn’t I done so, hadn’t I listened to my body and allowed it to get accustomed to a new lifestyle that was completely different than the previous 20 years, I don’t think it would have worked out. Which is why I think that the advice I give you in the guide is incredibly important, and I urge you to consider following it if it sounds convincing enough for you.

Then one weekend, I was heading down to a BBQ birthday, and on the way, I told my best friend: “You know what? I think I’m ready. I’m gonna go two full weeks, starting tonight, without any meat or chicken, and after that, I’ll see how I feel”.

Guess what, these two weeks turned into three years, four months and counting!

I just kept going with “one more day” two weeks after that BBQ, until “one more day” wasn’t even necessary.

That Christmas, I was offered my favorite kind of meat, and I wanted to have it, but the moment it touched my lips, I was immediately disgusted, and put it away. That was the moment I realized I was a vegetarian, and that cravings or the appeal of meat and chicken were purely psychological, linked to moments of happiness, comfort, and warmth.

A HUGE part of my progress was getting informed; learning more and more about the impact of cattle on the environment, global health (hi 2020), realizing what was really lying in my plate (ie. animal carcasses), and exercising the mental association between the juicy steak and where it actually came from. I cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT for your transition it is to work on that association. As I mention later in the guide, an enormous part of finding meat and chicken flavorful, good, and nutritious, falls on culture, the industry, and propaganda. You want to flip that switch in your brain, so get informed!

Another crucial part of my progress was specifying WHY I was doing this. I think that for every vegetarian/vegan, there is a driving factor, that ultimately, at least in my personal humble opinion, will lead to also adopting other motivations towards plant-based diets.

For me, it started with the impact of the industry on the environment and global health. Next came animal abuse as I had just adopted my baby June: a constant reminder of the hypocrisy of adoring a pet, and ignoring the lives of pigs, cows, hens, ducks etc., and finally came the health factor.

Around that summer/fall, my brother found out he was intolerant to dairy, and I realized I might have been too, so I did the test, which came out positive [Disclaimer: these tests are NOT 100% reliable/accurate]. I knew I wanted to transition to veganism one day but I wasn’t ready to do so then, and so I only reduced my dairy intake, until that January 2018. I was virtually surrounded by vegan athletes, doctors, and vegan nutritionists who helped me realize the harm the dairy industry inflicted on the animals, as well as the products’ very negative impact on my body. I was completely sold when I understood that being a vegetarian in our days isn’t enough to change anything really, since dairy farms feed the meat industry as well.


The Perks

When I say it’s life-changing, I am not exaggerating.

1. Bye Bye Iron deficiency!
I had lived the first 20 years of my life with a scary and painful iron deficiency, and I was constantly told to have red meat, so that’s what I did, and it wasn’t enough. I spent my teenage years with an Iron IV (which burns a lot) for around 2 hours twice a year. It was an absolute nightmare, but since supplements wouldn’t be absorbed, we thought it was a biological problem.

A year into vegetarianism, and around 9 months into veganism, I had my blood tested; and the 20 year old “4” that made me cry on my results suddenly turned into a “62”. I also cried, quite a lot.

My iron levels didn’t only rise up from the dead, they actually became normal.

A lot of acquaintances tell me they suffer from iron deficiency under a vegetarian/vegan diet, and I am planning on writing a post about that because in my experience, the fact that I was dairy intolerant, and didn’t know it, used to block the iron absorption. Studies show that dairy could be inhibiting iron absorption anyway – so that might be a reason why vegetarians are having a hard time with iron!

The minute I stopped having dairy, my body started absorbing iron, and with no IV, no supplements, just plants, my iron levels boosted up.

This of course will be different for every person, which is why the “Learning Experience” section in my guide is super super super important.

2. Self-communication
I’ve never been more in touch with my body and what it needs. Whenever I crave something, I notice that the nutrients in it are ones that I haven’t had in awhile. My body just speaks to me. It’s like I unblocked its airways or something.

3. Hello Flavors!
Any other vegans out there noticed their taste buds developing?? I used to absolutely loathe garlic, cinnamon, and turmeric. And suddenly? Can’t live without them. It’s almost as if they started tasting better.

4. Do meat-eaters know what’s out there?
I never knew that we had so.many.things.to.eat. From the different types of scpices, seeds, and mushrooms, to Kombucha. No meat-eater I know has as big as a variety of fruits, seeds, grains, legumes, sauces, spices, and just flavor combinations as the vegans I know.

5. It’s SO MUCH FUN.
Experimenting with food is amazing as a vegan. Just trying to recreate the comfort you used to feel with meat/chicken-based stews, but cruelty-free, will not only satisfy your taste-buds, but also satiate a curiosity you never knew you had.

6. I sleep better at night.
Knowing that I’m doing the best I can for my planet, the ecosystem, my community, my body, looking at my cat like I would any other animal in the world; I just know I am doing my best, and it feels so good.

7. Bye bye Acid- Reflux!
Acid reflux is also a monster that’s followed me literally since the day I was born. And nothing, and I mean nothing made it go away, well, except cutting-off dairy.

8. I know so much more stuff
From learning about the ecosystem, to animals’ fascinating personalities, to different combinations of food, to the negative impacts of the vegan industry, this whole journey is nothing but a learning experience. And that, to me, is incredibly enriching.

That journey OFFERED me so much It FIXED so much. It EXPLAINED so much. It TRANSFORMED me, my body, my perception of the world around me, my values, and mostly, my kitchen.

Thinking of hopping on the Plant-based train? Stay tuned for the Vegan Whisper’s Guide to Veganism!

Recipes, Salty

Potato and Carrot Soup

Nothing says sweater weather better than orangey colors! Soups take over the menu as we prep to get into the chilly winter season.

This may not be pumpkin soup (not there yet), but it is very creamy, hearty, with a harmonious combination of sugar and spice.

It’s a fairly easy recipe, especially that I use canned baby carrots! All you need is chopping skills and you’re good to go.

Let me know if you try it, tweak it, hate it or love it!


Ingredients (3 servings) 🛒

  • 195g canned baby carrots
  • 3 medium-sized white potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 big garlic cloves
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp grounded allspice
  • A pinch of: cumin and nutmeg
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsps. olive/vegetable oil
  • 3 cups of water
  • Oregano and olive oil (optional garnish)

👩‍🍳Preparation (30 min)👩‍🍳

  1. Chop the garlic and add to a pot with 2 tbsps. of oil. Heat on high until it starts simmering, then lower to medium heat for around 2min.
  2. In the meantime, cut onion into half-moons add to pot and fry on medium heat for 5-6min. until softened. Stir throughout.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes into cubes.
  4. Once the onion and garlic soften, add allspice and cinnamon, mix well. Add potato cubes, mix a little bit.
  5. Add 3 cups of boiling water, bring to high heat.
  6. Add vegetable stock, mix well.
  7. Once water starts to boil, cover to simmer. Let simmer on low heat for 15 min.
  8. Open the pot and check if the potato softened, if they did, add carrots, bring back to a boil and let simmer on low heat for another 5 min.
  9. Uncover the pot, make sure carrots and potatoes are well cooked. Turn heat off, and with a hand blender blend the mixture really well.
  10. If not creamy enough, leave on low heat halfway through blending until enough water evaporates.
  11. Add nutmeg, cumin, and salt to taste. Mix well.

Serving 🍴

  • Serve warm, you can sprinkle some oregano on top.
  • Option to add a line of olive (or even truffle!) oil.

I really hope you have fun preparing this one. Please do not hesitate to DM me on IG or email me if you have any questions of trouble in the process !!


Recipes, Sweet

Lebanese Turmeric Cakes

This is the vegan adaptation of my amazing aunt’s recipe. Turmeric Cakes are incredibly easy to make; this is great to prepare with kids, or if it’s your first time baking!

Cakes that transport me right back home, whenever I need it.

Let me know if you try it, tweak it, hate it or love it!


Ingredients (27x15cm/10.5″x5.9″ pan)photo_2020-08-12_22-14-14

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 cups semolina
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsps Turmeric
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup plant milk (oat recommended)
  • 1 cup oil

Optional: some sesame seeds for the top



Preparation

  1. Heat oven 180C/356F
  2. Mix all ingredients until homogeneous it’s that simple! I’d recommend sifting the flour, and starting with the dry ingredients, followed by the wet ones.
  3. Pour into pan, sprinkle with pine nuts, sesame seeds, and/or peeled almonds, place on middle rack, and let bake for 30-35min. until golden.

 


Serving 

Let it cool for around 30 min. before serving.


 

photo_2020-08-12_22-14-14

I really hope you have fun preparing this one. Please do not hesitate to DM me on IG or email me if you have any questions of trouble in the process !!

Recipes, Salty

My Bolognese sauce

This is a classic Monday after-school lunch. It was a habit in our home when I was in school, and I find myself repeating it as a grown-up every single week.

Nothing too complicated about this dish; as long as you can make spaghetti or pasta, you’re good to go!

If you’re allergic to or don’t like soy, you can replace it with yellow or brown lentils!

Let me know if you try this, tweak it, hate it or love it!


Ingredients (3-4 servings)IMG-20200724-WA0067

  • 400g of tomato sauce OR chopped tomatoes can (these should also contain some sauce)
  • 8 tbsps or 200g of tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup of dried brown minced soy
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2+2 tbsps of vegetable oil
  • 1 cube of vegetable stock
  • 1/4 tsp of each: cinnamon, all-ground spices, paprika, oregano
  • 1/8 tsp of each: cinnamon, 7 spices, garlic powder, paprika, cumin

If you’re allergic to soy, you can replace it with red or brown lentils. Just make sure you cook them well in water, drain them, then add spices. 

Preparation

Prepare the Soy:

  1. Soak your brown minced soy in boiling water until most liquid is absorbed
  2. Drain, then place in a big frying pan forming as thin as a layer as you can
  3. Add 2 tbsps of vegetable oil, and 1/8 tsp of each (cinnamon, 7 spices, garlic powder, paprika and cumin) mix, and turn on medium to high heat
  4. Repeat this procedure until soy is crisp and brown:
    Every time you form a layer in your pan, wait till the soy barely starts to stick to the pan (you can test this with a wooden spoon on the edges), scrape, mix, and form a layer again.
    The time needed for the soy to stick will be decreasing between one round and another.
    Once soy starts to brown, turn to medium heat. For the last couple rounds, turn to low heat to avoid burning.
  5. Set aside in a bowl.

For the Sauce

  1. Dice the onion and garlic cloves, and fry them with 2 tbsps of vegetable oil in a pot on medium to low heat.
  2. Once onions soften, add tomato puree, and the rest of the spices (1/4 tsps). Mix well and let fry for a minute on low heat.
  3. Add cooked soy, mix.
  4. Add tomato sauce OR chopped tomatoes, mix on medium heat.
  5. Add the cube of vegetable stock to the mixture directly, stir well.
    keep stirring to avoid a popping red mess
  6. Add spices/salt to taste. Option to add some olive oil.

Serving 

  • I love having this with whole wheat or gluten free spaghetti.
  • If you’re into a “watery” dish, add sauce on top of spaghetti before serving.
  • I personally prefer mixing it with the spaghetti before serving it, and storing them this way in the fridge as well; this will allow the spaghetti to absorb some of the sauce.

I really hope you have fun preparing this one. Please do not hesitate to DM me on IG or email me if you have any questions of trouble in the process !!

IMG-20200724-WA0067