Tips for how to learn to self-love!

The world and all of its inhabitants could come to tell you that you are beautiful. Never in a million years would you believe it. What you hear is the whispers of the past. They told you that you were ugly. They told you that your skin was too dark or too pale. They made fun of you for being too big or too skinny. Never for a moment did they appreciate you. You grew to hate yourself. The little things you loved about yourself became things that genuinely annoyed you. You would stare in bewilderment when someone would compliment you. It was not that you were arrogant. You simply did not believe them

Tips for how to learn to self-love. If you feel like this might be you, here are some tips to help you learn how to accept yourself for the beautiful person that God created you to be. 
 
1. Wake up every morning with the reminder that God created you to be beautiful. This could be written on your mirror or it could be post it notes left around your house. 
2. Accept a compliment, rather than shoot it down. Even if you might not believe it, others do. That compliment was given to you for a reason. 
3. Eliminate negative energy. There is a difference between someone that gives you constructive criticism and someone that just wants to hurt your feelings. 
4. Write yourself self-love notes. You have to be able to compliment your own self. 
5. Replace your thoughts with duaa. If you feel like you are going to bash yourself, switch that thought and take the time to talk to your Creator. Doing so will help strengthen you. 
 
Best of luck! May your self-love grow and blossom!

 

 

How to conquer your Darkness

I caught you, putting your hand into the darkness and then quickly taking it out. I sensed your fear. I saw your eyes open wide. I saw your mouth quiver. You were scared. You were full of fear. It was not the darkness that scared you. It was yourself, and your inability to distinguish yourself from the darkness that resided in your heart and in the crevices of your soul. The darkness had slowly consumed your heart. You would have preferred to be cold-hearted, rather than heartless. It was so hard for you to find your heart in all of the wrong places. 
There came opportunities for you to better yourself, but you feared letting go of what you had gotten so used to. Even the darkness offered you familiarity, but it also offered you unhappiness and so much discomfort. The opposite of darkness is light. You knew that you had to reach that point in your life, if you wanted to get anywhere. They tell you that having faith brings light. You found yourself praying to the most faithful of them all. You found yourself praying to your Creator. And as a result, you began to have faith. Although it was small, it was consistent. With time, it was increasing. You turned off the lights tonight, and you found that the darkness did not scare you. Because you had faith, you had a light within you. You did not fear the darkness, because the glow inside you overpowered its presence.
-Chereen

Vegan Eggplant Tomato Medley

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This has to be one of my favourite things to eat..because I tend to eat a lot of it! And I mean a lot! And the thing is, I don’t feel guilty for stuffing my face with this meal. Perhaps it’s because my mind knows I’m consuming pure goodness? Who knows. But what I do know is that you will love this dish just as much as I do, and you will understand what I mean when you take a bite out of this delicious and wholesome vegetarian concoction! 

 

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These vegetables really complement one another well. The tanginess from the tomatoes offsets the sweetness of the cooked onions, and that eggplant is just melt-in-your-mouth goodness that you won’t be able to resist! If my kids love this dish, you know that you have a winner.

 

This Vegan Eggplant Tomato Medley is simple to make and absolutely delicious on its own, or served as a side to a main course. Either way, get to making it tonight!

 

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Vegan Eggplant Tomato Medley
Serves 6
A delicious and wholesome vegetarian dish.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 large eggplants, peeled and cubed
  2. 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, OR
  3. 8 Roma tomatoes or the like, peeled and cubed
  4. 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  5. 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  6. 2 Tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 Tsp sea salt
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

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Instructions

 

1. Preheat oven to 400F on convection roast (or 415F on bake) and have baking pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

 

2. Next, peel and cube eggplants and place in the prepared baking sheet. It will look like a ton of eggplants but trust me, the heat will cause the eggplants to wilt and soften, so you’ll be glad you prepared that much!

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3. Repeat step 2 with both tomatoes and onions, and add to pan with the eggplants.

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4. Add oil and using your hands, toss the vegetables to help absorb the oil. 

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5. Finally, season with salt and cumin, do a quick toss again, and place in the oven for 30 minutes, until eggplants are slightly charred, and tomatoes and onions are cooked through.

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6. Remove from oven, and using a spoon, gently toss the vegetables together and taste to see if you need to add more salt. I always find I need to add a touch more salt, so this is when I do it.

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Enjoy as is or serve alongside cooked quinoa (recipe to come) for the extra nutrition, taste, and protein.

 

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Bon appétit! xo

8 tips to help you have a productive Ramadan!

I know that Ramadan is halfway through, but you can always use tips to help you prepare in advance and also during this blessed month! Here are 8 tips to help you have a productive Ramadan!
 
1. For a super productive Ramadan, it helps to spiritually prepare in advance! The sahabeh used to prepare 6 months ahead of time! The next time Ramadan is nearing, you can do little things that will help better you, so that you are ready for Ramadan when it comes. 
2. One tip to help you prepare in advance is to fast Mondays and Thursdays ahead of time.This is so that you are not overly tired come Ramadan. This way, your body is already used to fasting! You will not feel as tired the first week, allowing for you to have a productive Ramadan from the start! 
3. Early to bed, early to rise! I know that taraweeh might keep you up a bit later than usual, but it definitely helps to go to sleep right after. This will allow for you to be ready for suhoor and be prepared to have an early and productive day of fasting. 
4. Organize your day. Dedicate time to Ramadan. Whether you are able to spend hours or half an hour reading and praying, remind yourself that actions are of intentions and stay motivated! 
5. Have a healthy suhoor! Make sure to have suhoor to begin with, as it gives you the energy you need to carry on with your day. 
6. Drink plenty of fluids during suhoor and after iftar! You have to stay hydrated, especially if you plan to pray taraweeh later. 
7. Try your best to do tahajjud at least twice a week! If you have good intentions and really want something to happen, praying tahajjud is a great way to get closer to your Creator. 
8. Have a Ramadan calendar! Decorate it and allow for it to make you feel the Ramadan spirit. Do something special each day of Ramadan, which will inspire you and motivate you to really tap into your faith. 
 
Stay blessed! -Chereen :)

Natural Pink Lemonade

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Everyone knows my obsession with the colour pink.  So it was only a matter of time before I made my own pink lemonade. The kids loved it!! They especially enjoyed being a part of making the lemonade and seeing it go from a pale yellow to a beautiful light pink. The taste is of course amazing! If you love lemons, you’ll love this drink. The best part is always how simple it is to make. A couple of steps and you’re ready to enjoy this summertime (or any time) drink. 

 

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This lemonade is so healthy because the ingredients are 100% pure and natural…it’s literally a guilt free drink! It’s so refreshing too and quenches your thirst with style! Plus, lemons have many health benefits; they’re known to help cleanse the digestive system, help with fresh breath, and many other advantages. 

 

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The beautiful pink colour is achieved using one of my favourite vegetables, the beet. You can make it a pretty light pink or an intense dark fuchsia! I made this lemonade using honey and organic sugar and they both tasted fantastic. The honey lent a slightly more peachy colour once I added the beet because of the yellow colour honey gives. Which is still quite pretty and obviously so healthy for you. I would recommend you stick to lighter coloured honey so you can achieve the pinky-ness we’re after. You can also replace the water for sparkling water to make it more grown up and fun.

Either way, the taste is delicious and because this is homemade using fresh ingredients, you avoid the unwanted junk ingredients you’d otherwise find in the canned varieties.

 

Natural Pink Lemonade
A refreshing, thirst quenching drink, and is naturally coloured a beautiful pink!
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Prep Time
3 min
Total Time
3 min
Prep Time
3 min
Total Time
3 min
Ingredients
  1. Juice of 2 lemons (~ 1/3 C fresh lemon juice)
  2. 1/2 C clover honey (or any light coloured honey) OR
  3. 1/2 C sugar
  4. 6 c water
  5. 1 Tbsp coarsely cut beet OR
  6. 2 Tsp finely grated beet
Notes
  1. Serves 4-6
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

 

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Instructions

 

1. Wash, cut, and juice lemons. Add to pitcher.

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2. Add to that either honey or sugar, and stir a bit to help dissolve.

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3. Next, add water and stir until honey or sugar is completely dissolved.

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4. Finally, add beet, stir until desired colour is achieved. Then, remove beets using a strainer.

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Tip: You can also add beets to a tea dipper/strainer thing and allow the beet colour to steep into the lemonade that way. I never took a picture of me doing that sorry! This avoids the extra step of having to fish the beets out – although I didn’t mind – but it’s up to you!

 

So satisfying and a breeze to make. Enjoy!

 

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Bon appétit! xo

 

           

    

Tisiyeh

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This is definitely a Sunday breakfast must-have in my family. Tisiyeh (pronounced Teh-si-yeh) is yet another Syrian dish unique only to that beautiful country. Growing up, this is what we ate on Sundays, and I’m so happy that I’ve continued this tradition with my own family. My kids absolutely love eating Tisiyeh, and as a matter of fact, look forward to Sundays because of it.

You guys, this thing is so good you can eat the whole bowl and not feel full afterwards…ok not sure if that’s a good thing but it’s a testament to how delicious it is! It’s super light and loaded with chickpea goodness in an olive oil base called Fa’seh…aaaaaamazing. 

You MUST make this because I know you will love everything about Tisiyeh. This dish can be enjoyed any time of the day, but we eat it strictly as a breakfast food. :)

 

Tisiyeh
Serves 6
A delicious Syrian breakfast that you will surely love and enjoy with the entire family.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cans chickpeas (Preferably organic) OR
  2. 3 C pre cooked chickpeas
  3. 3 pita bread loaves
for the Fa'seh
  1. 3 C chickpea water
  2. 3 Tbsp ground cumin
  3. 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1 Tsp baking soda
  5. 1 Tsp sea salt to start
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

Instructions

 

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1.  Place chickpeas in a pot with enough water to cover about 1 inch above. Allow water to come to a boil and once boiling, reduce heat to medium and let cook for approximately 10 minutes to help soften the chickpeas – you’ll notice the skin of the chickpeas separating. 

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2. While chickpeas are cooking, cut pita bread using a knife or your hand, into somewhat evenly shaped pieces. Place cut bread into a deep serving dish/bowl.

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3.  Using a strainer spoon, remove cooked chickpeas and place on top of the bread. Reserve about 1 cup for the presentation.

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Now for the main event! To make the Fa’seh:

4. Using a blender, add the hot chickpea water. Add to that cumin, baking soda, olive oil, and salt, and blend on high until fully incorporated and frothy – about 15 seconds or so. Taste salt content and if more is desired, add another 1/2 teaspoon – adjust accordingly.

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5. Pour over the chickpeas and bread, top with reserved chickpeas and extra cumin. Serve immediately. 

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Simple. Healthy. Vegan. Absolutely delicious. Serve along side fresh vegetables and pickles; I especially enjoy Tisiyeh with green onions. You will love everything about this meal I guarantee it! :)

 

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Bon appétit loves! xo

Vegan Snickerdoodles

  

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When I hear the name of this cookie I giggle a bit. Not sure where the name came from and there seems to be a few theories floating around the internet. But whatever the answer, these cookies are amazing! And so simple to make too!

A good friend of my husband’s was over one night and I thought I’d try making Snickerdoodles for them (you see, any time someone is over, I take full advantage and make them my tasters haha)! So tried I did, and I got two thumbs up!

 

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What a relief. I always seem to experiment with new recipes when I’m expecting company. Why the added and certainly un-needed stress I’ll never understand about myself. But hey it seems to work… most times :)

 

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These delicious cookies are special in that they’re rolled in a mix of sugar and cinnamon. Yum! When they’re baking in the oven, the sugar hardens and offers that crunchy texture before you bite into the soft core! 

 

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Give this recipe a try because you and whoever else lays a hand on them will love these Vegan Snickerdoodles!

 

Vegan Snickerdoodles
Yields 30
A deliciously simple to make cookie with a hint of cinnamon that you will surely love!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
For the coating
  1. 1/4 C sugar
  2. 1/4 Tsp ground cinnamon
For the cookie
  1. 3/4 C vegan spread
  2. 1 C sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  4. 1 Tbsp vegan coconut yogurt, or vegan yogurt of choice
  5. 2 Tbsp hot water
  6. 2 C flour
  7. 1 Tsp baking powder
  8. 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  9. 1/2 Tsp sea salt
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

 

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Instructions:

 

1. Preheat oven at 350F. Have baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Mix together sugar and ground cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Set aside.

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3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, start by beating vegan spread and sugars on high until fluffy and creamy.

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4. Add coconut yogurt and mix well. Scrape bowl down and remix to ensure full mixing.

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5. Add hot water and mix.

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While the wet ingredients are mixing, prepare the dry ingredients.

 

6. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking flour, and salt. 

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7. Turn mixer speed on low and add the dry ingredients to the sugar mix. Once they’re incorporated turn mixer speed on high and beat for a few more seconds until the dough comes together. 

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Tip: Don’t overwork the dough!

 

8. Using either a spoon or an ice cream scoop, shape dough into small balls and roll each ball into the prepared sugar/cinnamon mix.

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9. Place sugared balls onto prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until cookie tops slightly crack open, as shown. 

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Remove from oven and let cool slightly before enjoying.

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Bon appétit! xo

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Hummus

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This is arguably the best hummus you will have.. I know, pretty bold statement – it’s a great thing my mother-in-law doesn’t go online!! 

I want you to try it and see for yourself how creamy and silky smooth this turns out. And the taste is beyond delicious. 

Hummus is a great dip that’s healthy and full of nutrients.  Bonus: it’s super easy to make! Serve with crispy pita bread slices, fresh vegetables, or anything you’d normally dip!

 

Hummus
Arguably the best hummus you'll have!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 C chickpeas (pre-cooked or if canned, drained)
  2. 1 small garlic clove, minced
  3. 1/4 C tahini (sesame paste, available at middle-eastern stores)
  4. 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  5. 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  6. Salt to taste
Notes
  1. This recipe will yield approximately 2.5 cups
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/

 

 

hummus

 

Instructions

 

 

1. In a food processor, add the chickpeas and blend until completely smooth.

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2. Add tahini and blend until completely incorporated.

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3. Next, add oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and blend until all ingredients are fully incorporated and super smooth.

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Done! Simple right? Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and extra chickpeas if you have any on hand, or serve as is.

Who needs canned hummus when you can make your own batch at home, without the unnecessary ingredients.

 

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Bon appétit! xo

 

Vegan Cheesy Spaghetti

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I was about to make spaghetti and tomato sauce for my kids when I had a quick change of heart and decided I’d try replicating one of my favourite childhood meals! Although this is a vegan dish and a much healthier version of what I grew up eating, the taste is very much deceiving…which is how I like to cook and  bake!  It’s not lost on me that many non-vegan eaters tend to stay away from vegan foods because of the stigma that the dishes and desserts are bland and ‘blah’…but I promise you that my recipes will make you a believer and have you come around and embrace healthier foods (I’m not advocating becoming vegan..I myself am not vegan). But with how animals are treated and how meats are processed these days, suddenly eating more vegan foods sounds better for your health and that of the animals and the environment.

 

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The best part about cooking vegan when I have to, is that none of my non-vegan friends realize they’re eating vegan foods! That’s so important to me. Just because we live with allergies, doesn’t mean that our food choices have to suffer! It’s a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to experiment and come up with great dishes for your family to enjoy. :)

So forget the usual spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti and sauce dinners and go for this instead! This dish in particular brings me back to the days when my parents would make us a very similar version, using macaroni noodles, lots of yogurt, and garlic! Yum..!

 

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This meal is so simple to make and it’s a perfect addition to your cooking repertoire! 

 

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Vegan Cheesy Spaghetti
A take on a pasta dish I grew up eating! This one is vegan, much healthier, and just as tasty as the one my parents used to make :)
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Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 package spaghetti noodles
  2. 1 C Daiya Mozzarella cheese shreds, or vegan mozzarella cheese
  3. 2 Tsp dried parsley flakes
  4. 1 Tbsp fresh basil
  5. 2/3 C reserved pasta water
  6. 1 garlic glove, minced
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Pepper to taste
Notes
  1. This recipe serves 4-6 people.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

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Instructions

 

1. Begin by cooking pasta noodles. In a pot of boiling salted water, add pasta noodles and cook for 10 minutes, until ‘al dente’. Drain pasta but reserve 2/3 cup pasta water.

2. In a large skillet, add cooked pasta and cheese, and cook on medium heat.

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3. Next, tear up the basil leaves and add to spaghetti, along with the dried parsley flakes, and reserved pasta water.

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 4. Stir spaghetti just until cheese has emulsified with pasta and its water.

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Tip: Try not to leave spaghetti on the heat for too long because you don’t want to dry out the cheesy sauce.

  

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Perfection!

 

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5. Finally, add minced garlic and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.  

 

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These steps happen very quickly. The final product should be done in less than a minute (once you’ve boiled your pasta of course!). My kids LOVED this version of spaghetti! And you know how hard it is to get kids to like anything these days! Hope your family enjoys this simple healthy meal next time you make dinner. Until next time :) 

Bon appétit! xo

 

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Vegan Balooza

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Balooza is a classic dessert unique to Syria. It’s composed of two layers, rice pudding and an orange ‘jello’ layer. It is so delicious I can’t begin to describe to you how amazing it is! However, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy this delicacy if you have an intolerance or an allergy to dairy since Balooza contains dairy…until now! Yes I’ve done it once again and made a vegan version of this incredible dessert!! And my twist on this classic dessert will leave you reaching for more!

You are most welcome. But save your thank yous until you’ve actually tried it. I’d made them for Munsur’s SK graduation and everyone loved them! And there is no exaggeration in that statement! I had a nice woman looking for me that night just to comment on my Balooza (she had asked what it was prior to having one and I explained to her what it was and asked her to let me know what she thought of it) Not knowing she would actually follow through with my request, she told me how much she absolutely loved this dessert and wanted to know on the spot exactly how I made it! 

The combination of coconut and mango is heaven! And for many of us who observe the beautiful month of Ramadan, its taste closely resembles that of the popular ‘Amaredeen’ drink made primarily from apricot paste; traditionally enjoyed in many homes during this month. Absolutely delicious! 

Hope you enjoy this dessert not just during Ramadan, but afterwards too! It’s a snap to prepare and it’ll wow anyone who tries it. I promise :)

 

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Vegan Balooza
Yields 26
A delicious take on the Syrian classic consisting of two layers, a coconut pudding layer and a mango jello layer. Absolutely delightful!
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Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
3 hr
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
3 hr
For the Milk Layer
  1. 7 C coconut milk
  2. 1/2 C plus 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  3. 2/3 C water
  4. 1/4 C orange blossom water
  5. 1 C sugar
For the Mango Layer
  1. 10 C mango juice
  2. 3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  3. 1 C water
  4. 1 3/4 C sugar
Notes
  1. The total time factors in cooling and setting time too.
NO DAIRY NO CRY http://nodairynocry.com/
 

Instructions

 

 

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1. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with cold water and stir until cornstarch has completely dissolved. It might seem difficult to get it to dissolve at first but keep at it for a few seconds and you will notice the resistance suddenly change. Set aside.

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2. Starting with the milk layer, and using a dutch or french oven, add coconut milk and sugar over medium high heat. Stir continuously until milk comes to a boil.

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3. Once milk is boiling, add cornstarch mixture and orange blossom water while vigorously stirring the milk. You will notice the milk suddenly thicken up, remove pot off of heat at this point and let cool slightly before pouring into designated bowls or cups. 

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Tip #1: To avoid getting a ‘skin’ on top of your milk and mango layer while cooling, place a Saran wrap directly on top, as shown below. Remove once cooled enough to pour into desired bowls/glasses.

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Tip #2: If you find you’re left with small lumps of cornstarch in either your milk or mango layer, use a sieve prior to pouring in desired dish to get rid of the pieces. 

 

4. Pour some of the milk layer into each cup or bowl, as shown. Let cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until it sets.

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While milk layer is setting, prepare the mango layer. 

 

5. In a small bowl, have cornstarch diluted with water and ready to use. Set aside.

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6. In another pot/dutch oven, combine juice with sugar and bring to a rolling boil.

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7. Once juice is boiling, add cornstarch mix stirring continuously until you feel juice thicken – about 1 minute, at which point you’ll want to turn the stove off and remove pot from heat. Let cool.

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Tip: to speed up the cooling process, I fill my sink with ice-cold water and dunk my pot in to help it cool much quicker! If you’re in no rush, then you may skip this tip/step.

 

8.  When you jiggle the milk layer and see that it has somewhat of a jello consistency, add the mango layer to it.  Add approximately twice the amount as the milk layer, as shown below.

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9. Once you’ve topped all of your glasses/bowls, return to the fridge to cool and completely set, at least 1 hour. 

TiP: The test once again is to wiggle your glass or bowl slightly to see how much movement there is. If it displays similarly to jello, then you’re good to go, and if not, give it a bit more time to set. I find the longer it sits in the fridge to set, the better. But again, you really only need it to set just enough that you can break into it (sort-to-speak) and enjoy it!

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Voilà! You have an amazing dessert that is quite simply one of the best things you will ever experience :)

 

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Hope you enjoy a part of my culture which I have and always will cherish. 

 

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Bon appétit! xo 

 

 

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