Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Food For Thought: Cauliflower And Chickpea Coconut Curry

Since giving up meat, I'm absolutely loving cooking. Don't get me wrong, I liked cooking before deciding to change my lifestyle but now, you literally can't keep me out of the kitchen. At every chance, I'm thinking about and planning and preparing my next culinary creation. I'm buying ingredients that I've never bought before; I'm being inspired by vegetables I didn't think I liked that much (I'm looking at you, cauliflower) and I'm even beginning to convince my family that meatless meals don't have to be boring. 

I went out for lunch recently with a friend and after looking at the menu for all of 30 seconds, I'd already chosen what I wanted to eat (a first for me - when it comes to food, I usually want everything and have to make an on-the-spot decision when the server comes over). Immediately, my eyes were drawn to a coconut and butternut squash curry, something I've never eaten before in my life. I honestly don't know what made me choose that dish that day but it was incredible. It was colourful, flavoursome and full of interesting textures: each mouthful got better and better until I'd pretty much licked the plate clean.

So when I was out food shopping this week, I wasn't surprised when a cauliflower grabbed my attention. I knew exactly what I was going to cook with it and here it is. My vegan cauliflower and chickpea coconut curry recipe is super healthy, super easy to make and tastes like an absolute dream. (And I didn't think it would be possible but it tastes even better a day later so if you make too much, you'll have a cracking healthy lunch already prepared for tomorrow!) 

Even though it's meat-free, the protein from the chickpeas keeps you feeling satisfied for hours, minus that uncomfortable stodginess that can occur when eating rich foods like curries. So if you need a bit of #foodspiration, this recipe is for you - and I guarantee you will love it!

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium cauliflower
1 can of chickpeas
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 can of tinned tomatoes
1 teaspoon of medium curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
Wholegrain rice with quinoa
Mini naan breads (optional)

1. Remove the stalks from the cauliflower and cut into large florets. 
2. In a pan of boiling water, add the cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes. When ready, drain from the water and place back in the pan. Cover so it stays warm.
3. While the cauliflower is cooking, chop the onions and garlic and cook in a large pan over a medium heat until soft. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
4. Add the spices and cook for a further 3 minutes until they become fragrant.

5. Add the chickpeas and pour 150ml of water into the pan so the chickpeas are covered. Increase the heat and bring the pan to the boil.
6. Add the coconut milk and the tinned tomatoes and stir well. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
7. In a separate pan, boil the rice until soft.
8. Add the cauliflower to the curry and simmer until you can pierce it with a fork then stir in 2 handfuls of spinach and cook until the spinach softens.
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Drain the rice, serve immediately and enjoy! 

What are your favourite vegan recipes?

Hair Rehab: Vatika Naturals Wild Cactus Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

 “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” 

Over the years, I've become very attached to my hair. I invest so much time and effort into it that I treat it as I would a small child. I've grown it, I care for it, I love it and we will live happily together as one.

Although I love having long hair, keeping it in tip top condition can be quite a chore. The responsibility is tremendous but it's one thing in life that is 100% reliable. Wash it vigorously and it will break. Wash it too often and it will lose its natural oils. Wash it with the wrong products and it won't get the nourishment it needs...

But treat it right and it will shine like a star.

Yes, I may often hate the thought of having to spend an hour just washing, conditioning and drying my hair (forget about styling!) but the fact that I'm left with soft, shiny, gorgeous smelling hair that I can swish around makes it all worth while (I know you all do it too).

On top of my normal hair washing routine, I use a hair mask every week to prevent my ends from becoming damaged. As a self-confessed oil addict, I instinctively choose products that contain well-known oils such as argan, coconut or macadamia but for the past month, wild cactus has been on the agenda - and I may just be converted.

Enriched with natural ingredients, Vatika Naturals Hair Products provide nourishment for all hair types, while balancing the nutrients within the hair that are required for health and vitality. With an extensive range of products, they provide a remedy for the most common of hair woes by drawing on Ancient ingredients including henna, wild cactus, lemon, garlic and rosemary.

I was introduced to Vatika at a press event and was very interested in their all-natural approach. After assessing the condition of my hair and browsing their website, I decided to try the Wild Cactus Deep Conditioning Hair Mask.

High in omega fatty acid, cactus oil has been found to prevent hair loss, promote shiny hair and encourage hair growth. Because of the low moisture environments in which cacti thrive, the oil has a high concentration of vitamin B5 which allows the plant to store water for incredibly long periods of time. This property means that it's a naturally effective moisturiser, offering lasting protection to weak hair. 

To apply the hair mask, wash hair as normal then apply the mask all over and wrap in a towel. Wait for 15-20mins then wash off. I then condition the hair as normal as I like to give my hair as much nourishment as possible. 

The Verdict:

I didn't expect to like using the Vatika Wild Cactus Deep Conditioning Hair Mask as much as I do. First things first, I wasn't too keen on the branding as it doesn't say 'luxury' product and that's what I expect a hair mask to be. Nevertheless, the consistency of the hair product is good; it feels a little bit gloopy but it's easy to work into the hair. It also smells gorgeous and fresh and at only £5.99, it's very affordable.

After drying, my hair feels amazing: it's super soft, super shiny and smells lovely. Sometimes with using heavier hair products, you have to work that little bit harder to ensure you've washed it out completely but with Vatika, there is never any remnant of the product which makes hair feel light, sleek and manageable. What's great is that this feeling lasts for 3+ days so my hair still feels protected during this time - and still looks freshly washed.

So, if you're looking for a cheaper but effective all-natural hair mask, try Vatika.

What are your favourite hair products?

Things To Do In Ibiza When You're Not A Hardcore Raver

Ibiza has never been somewhere that I've ever wanted to visit. Renowned for its 'party isle' status, full of banging clubs, house music, underground DJs, music worshippers, recreational drug users and €9 bottled water, it's never really taken my fancy.

Don't get me wrong, I love the odd raving night out but I'm fast approaching the wrong side of my 20s and quite frankly, I'd much rather spend my evenings eating good food and drinking good wine and not battling my way through a club packed with sweaty teenagers. So, when my close friends asked me to join their wedding party in Ibiza this summer, I was expecting a week of loud  monotonous music, extortionate ticket prices, lairy drunks, bad behaviour and no sleep. A week that isn't really my scene but knowing I was going to be part of a beautiful wedding and see two souls come together made the thought of Ibiza bearable.

But I was wrong. Yes, it was full of banging clubs, house music, underground DJs, music worshippers, recreational drug users and €9 bottled water but it turns out, Ibiza is way more than its club scene; and it's actually rather beautiful. It just goes to show that you shouldn't judge a place before you've been there and that you don't need to be into that scene to have fun on the White Isle.  So, here's a list of things to do in Ibiza when you're definitely not a hardcore raver.

Hop on a boat to Formentera

Only an hour's boat ride away from Figueretas Beach, Formentera is the smallest of the Balearic Islands but definitely the prettiest. With glorious white sandy beaches and perfectly clear waters, the feeling is so tropical it's easy to forget you're only in Spain! And at €22 for a return ticket, it's an absolute steal.

Getting around the island is really easy too: you can walk, hire a bike / scooter / car or if you feel like being chauffeured and admiring the views, you can flag down a taxi. It may sound like the most romantic idea to jump on a scooter and wrap yourself lovingly around your other half, but if you're inexperienced riding abroad it can be a bit stressful as there are so many people on the roads (and it's quite difficult to navigate a tiny map when your hands are preoccupied).

By far, the best beach on the island is Playa Illetes but in the height of summer, it can get extremely busy as it's closest to the port. Playa Migjorn is further from the port but also gorgeous and has some lovely places to eat along the sea front, while Playa Es Arenals is perfect if you're looking for a beach closer to civilisation.

Dance like no-one's watching at Ushuaia

If you want to experience an Ibizan club and you can't get enough of festival feels, then Ushuaia is the club for you. Situated in the centre of Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel, the atmosphere in the open-air venue is indescribable. Made for those who want to experience a different kind of pool party, Ushuaia hosts an impressive stage with a mesmerising lighting set up, a phenomenal sound system, gorgeous dancers and a line up of some of the world's best DJs.

So, take all your friends because this is definitely a night you will want to remember. Entry is priced from €40 depending on the lineup but the only downside is that drinks are extortionate (I'm talking €24 for a gin and tonic) so if you don't want to splash the cash, it's best to get a few drinks in elsewhere first.

Eat breakfast at the Skinny Kitchen

Sometimes, the heat abroad can affect seriously your appetite so it's important to make sure that you're fuelling your body well (especially if you're having a few cocktails!). Located in the marina of San Antonio, Skinny Kitchen is the perfect way to start your day. From pancakes and waffles to smoothies and big breakfasts, everything on their menu is homemade with love and packed full of goodness. Trust me, you won't regret a Skinny Kitchen breakfast.

Walk the cobbled streets of Dalt Vila

A holiday is not complete without a bimble around the quaint cobbled old town of your chosen holiday destination and Ibiza's is up there with the best. Ascend the dramatic sloped entrance, cross the drawbridge and hidden inside the great walls of Dalt Vila, you will find a treasure trove of narrow, winding streets steeped in history and lined with lovely restaurants, bars and unusual works of talented local crafts people.

With stunning panoramic views, it's one of the most relaxed and romantic places on the island. There are lots of little places to sit and hang out but if you're looking for interesting places to eat, I'd thoroughly recommend La Dispensa and La Olivia - located right in the middle of the old town, you can experience Dalt Vila at its best while treating your taste buds to some delicious Spanish cuisine.

Eat paella the Spanish way

When I think of Spain, the first thing that comes to mind is paella. To me, it's the real taste of Spain so the best way to eat it is to have a local cook it for you. Served in a wide set pan and made for sharing, this traditional Spanish rice dish hits all the right notes and whatever your dietary requirements - meat eater, seafood lover or herbivore - there's a paella for you.

Party in the pool at Ocean Beach Club

With an impressive swimming pool surrounding by luxurious sun beds, cabanas and booths, Ocean Beach Club is home to the ultimate VIP pool party. So, don your most dazzling bikini, put the champagne on ice and let your hips do the talking.

By day, the vibe is chilled - that is, until the sprinklers are turned on unexpectedly to soak the gorgeous girls posing around the pool (is it rude to laugh?). Let the sun kiss your skin while aerial performers enchant you from above and the resident DJs pump out old-school anthems. And as the sun goes down, the beats get bolder, the pool lights up and the whole place comes to life!

Entrance costs €20 and VIP tables can cost up to €5000 - but the best thing about Ocean Beach Club is that everybody can have a good time, regardless of their budget.

Watch the sun set over Ibiza Town at Patchwork

Just outside of Ibiza town, there is a restaurant like no other; a fine dining restaurant, a rooftop Lebanese restaurant and a cosy Asian restaurant all under one roof. Sa Punta, Patchwork and Ginger respectively. Each restaurant is bursting with personality and if you're a foodie like me, you will find it very difficult to decide where you want to eat!

We ate at Patchwork, which offers a menu of Lebanese mezze including falafel, lentil salads, houmous, filled pastries, meatballs and kebab skewers. The food was lovely but for me, the deciding factor of choosing this restaurant lay in the visuals. Although Ginger has the most adorable theming (think colourful Asian umbrellas and ornate flora-inspired furniture), dining at Patchwork offers gorgeous views of the sunset and there't nothing more impressive than nature.

Have you ever been to Ibiza?

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