Monday, 9 November 2015

Recipe: Coconut and Pistachio Halwa Bars (Easy, Healthy and Vegan!)


Hello!

Firstly, welcome to itsiffy.com! After 5 long years, I've finally decided to change the name of my blog and give it the layout it deserves. I hope you guys enjoy this 2.0 version, where you can expect to find greater diversity in content. But you can read more about that here.

I wanted the first post on my 'new' blog to be about food because food is one of my biggest passions, and what better way to share the love of food than to share with you guys one of my most loved recipes, which (I think) I have finally perfected.

I really love halwa. It is basically a sweet dish which is served in a huge range of ways all across the world. In South Asia you will find sooji ka halwa (semolina based halwa), and in the Middle East, halwa tends to be made from tahini or other nut butters. I personally am a fan of all variations! I am passionate about fusion cooking - this basically involves mixing up the elements of different culinary traditions. It's this 'mixing up' which was the main inspiration behind this recipe.

This recipe is ridiculously easy to make and the ingredients are healthy and nourishing. The flavours of the coconut combined with sesame, honey and pistachio go extremely well together - I actually prefer this non-conventional halwa more than the traditional types. These bars are delicious and chewy - once you eat one, I can guarantee you will find it hard to stop. I also made sure that my recipe is vegan-friendly because, although I am not vegan myself, I made the first batch of these for some friends who were.

Makes 12

Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 3/4 a cup of raw sesame seeds
- 3/4 of a cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 a cup of pistachios (without shell)
- Vanilla pods to taste (optional)

Method
1. Add all the ingredients except for the pistachios into a powerful food processor and blend blend blend. It should quickly collect together like a big dough.
2. Place into a tray lined with greaseproof paper/clingfilm and smooth into a rectangle.
3. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the pistachios, then sprinkle them all over the top of the halwa.
4. Cut into rectangular pieces (should make 12).
5. Place in the fridge until they harden (not into a complete solid). This shouldn't take too long - approximately 30 minutes. The coconut oil in these bars will keep them slightly soft and deliciously chewy!

Tips
- If you prefer a sweeter taste, add more honey; for a less sweet taste, add more shredded coconut
- How much honey you use depends on the strength of your honey. If you are using strong raw honey, use less!
- Alternatively, you can place these in the freezer until they are solid. Personally I prefer to refrigerate them as I think they taste nicer when they are slightly soft and chewy rather than completely solid.
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Friday, 4 September 2015

When It's Hot and Cold at the Same Time


Apologies for the quality of these pictures - they aren't too great! I took them on a whim with my iPhone, but then I awkwardly ran out of storage space so I didn't have much of a selection of pictures to choose from.

It's that awkward time of the year where it's too hot to wear a coat but also too cold to be seen without one. I have resorted to pulling out some chunky cardigans from my autumn/winter wardrobe in substitute of a 'proper' coat. Cardigans are usually lightweight so I don't mind lugging them around in my hands if it's too hot as opposed to a coat, (especially those long coats which are lately all the rage) which can feel heavy after a while.

I'm so excited for polo necks to make another leap back into the season. I genuinely believe polo necks are a brilliant invention because they save you the need to wear a scarf and they also feel so cosy. This lightweight polo neck dress was brilliant for blocking the cold. I also can't wait to finally be wearing boots again. I personally believe summer is an awkward season for footwear because you're balancing between flip flops and sandals; but boots, on the other hand, are sturdy and often packed with a little heel to make you look a bit taller.

Autumn is a season of beautiful colour and I also can't wait for the masses of brown/burgundy/khaki colours to be plastered everywhere in the shops, and also to see all the pretty leaves littered on the pavements - the most beautiful and appealing season (in my opinion) is almost here!

Love from,

Miss Iffa
xoxo
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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

What's in My Hand Luggage / Carry-on


I am writing this post before I leave to go on holiday and have scheduled it to be posted in a week! I thought I would write this post to pass on a few tips to anyone who is going abroad or thinking to do so. Overall I would say I am a very light packer - I like to leave room in my backpack for any duty free shopping at the airport. It's best to keep your hand luggage light and only pack a few things; also I would avoid wearing makeup and instead put makeup on when you check into your hotel room. I like to pack mostly books and then watch lots of films on the plane to pass time.


The bag - Longchamp backpack

I bought this bag on a whim just a few days ago. I was not looking for a backpack at all and would have been happy to take my usual old Muji backpack which I normally use on my travels. But this bag just really caught my eye, and since it was the last piece in the sale, I just had to buy it! I love the beige-y pink colour and the slightly leathery material, but the colour and material are not exactly the most practical. This bag will be difficult to clean if dirtied and won't really be durable in the rain.



I bought this copy from my local WHSmith, but you can also buy it online in the the link above. I get through magazines quite quickly so I was instantly drawn to the book-ish style of this magazine. I'm not a regular reader of Monocle magazine but I do enjoy reading the odd article and I love their website. I'm looking forward to reading this


I love stationary. I found this notebook in Oklahoma giftshop for an extortionate £8.75, this is definitely one of the most overpriced pieces of stationary I have ever bought. I do regret buying this overpriced notebook but I am trying to reassure myself that at least it looks pretty.


This one was from Paperchase, I bought it quite a while ago!

Cap

This is a men's cap. I'm pretty sure it belonged to my dad many years ago. Keeping a cap with you at all times is pretty important as you never know if you will always find shade in a hot country.

Watch

This is a pretty obvious one. Even if you don't normally wear a watch, I would definitely recommend you wear one whilst travelling because then it is quicker to adjust to the time zone when you land.


This isn't really a must-have in your hand luggage but Vaseline is a classic I try to keep with me. This red tin was a limited edition one I found in Selfridges but you can still buy it from the link above. To be honest, the red tint from this tin is not phenomenal - it is very sheer and hardly shows up. The ordinary Vaseline is just as good!


Clearly I am still in the Ramadan spirit! Chocodates are one of my favourite snacks. The three in this picture are big understatement to how many I really eat! (Originally there were four in the picture) For those who have never tried this wonderful piece of deliciousness, a Chocodate is basically an almond stuffed date covered in chocolate. The white chocolate one is the best one, it tastes so fudgey and delicious. You can find these beauties in a local Tesco in the world foods section, or alternatively you can buy online through the link above.


I am pretty indecisive when choosing which books to take with me on holiday, hence why I have this little Kindle. I like to buy quick, easy reads on my Kindle. I recently just bought 'The Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins and I'm looking forward to reading it to see what all the fuss behind it is.


Book: Ernest Hemingway - Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises

This book was recommended to me by a good friend, I always take people's recommendations very seriously so I'm relying on this book to be a good read! It's all about Paris in the 1920's and the lost generation - I am not too far into it but so far so good!

Book: Plato - Republic

My teacher recommended this book to me. This one will definitely be a challenging read and I highly doubt I will get through it all whilst busy abroad, but she assured me that this book is not too difficult and is fairly straightforward to understand. I hope she is right!

Nokia 6230

Civilisation has move into the world of touchscreen and HD, yet I still prefer to keep my trusty Nokia with me. I like to use this phone when I am out and about and regularly use it to make calls and send texts. From a safety point of view, you're less likely to be robbed if you're using one of these on a busy street, rather than an iPhone!

iPhone 6

You know the drill: music and wifi and pictures and stuff.

Earphones

These are just a basic white pair I bought quite a long time ago. I always lose them and then find them again" Normally my earphones are never this nicely wrapped up though, but they do do the job when it comes to listening to music and watching videos.

Sunglasses

I've had these trusty sunglasses for around two years now. I bought them from Guess and they are just basic aviator glasses. I like the simple frame and colour because it can go with any outfit. With sunglasses, do make sure that you are getting sufficient eye protection - cheap sunglasses are great for style but be prepared to spend a little more for good protection.

Love from,

Miss Iffa
xoxo
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

What I Wore: Eid

I think this is the only picture on my blog with me smiling with my teeth - and you can see why!
Suit - Pakistan
Shoes - Kurt Geiger

Hello!

On Saturday we celebrated Eid! Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of a month of fasting - it's a time when people get together with their friends and family, cook delicious traditional dishes, apply mehndi (henna) and wear their best clothes. I wanted to share a few pictures of what I wore this year with you all. I'm personally not the biggest fan of this outfit myself - I never wear green! Also the clothes were quite big for me, but hopefully you can't notice that! I do, however, really like the embroidery on the sides of the trousers. The shoes don't really match this outfit exactly but again, I hardly own any heels and this pair was kindly gifted to me by my friends on my birthday, so I really wanted to wear them!

I've noticed that a recent trend in Pakistani/Indian clothing at the moment is to use pretty simple embroidery on clothes. This is a stark difference from what I remember Asian clothes to be like as a child - the trend at the time was to wear heavy, embroidered clothes with thick bangles and dangly earrings, or at least that's how I remember it. Although heavily embroidered clothing looked appealing to the eye at the time, it sure didn't feel that way because the clothing used to be itchy and uncomfortable. I think I may be exaggerating a bit here though because I am no expert in Asian clothing and to be honest, I do not wear Asian clothing as often as I would like to!

I hope you have enjoyed this outfit post, it was fun to write about something a bit different. My aim for this blog was always for it to be a fusion of eastern and western cultures and fashions. Although you're probably getting tired of seeing my face on this blog all the time, so my next post is going to be a bit different and will be up next Wednesday!

Love from,

Miss Iffa
xoxo
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Saturday, 27 June 2015

What I Wore to Prom



Hello!

Apologies for going a little photo crazy here, by now you guys probably know that I go into photo overdrive when I haven't blogged in a while!

It feels good to be writing this blog post after so long. I had to take a big long break from blogging because of work, and also because I wasn't quite sure with what I wanted to do with this blog. I have been blogging here fore four years and whilst it has been amazing, I feel like my interests have changed and I've sort of hit a brick wall. That is not to say I want to stop blogging, I'm just thinking of ways I can refresh the experience both for me and for the reader - I am considering posting more articles here, redesigning the whole layout and perhaps tapping into my YouTube channel again. If you guys know of any cool people who are into designing websites, let me know!

It was my last ever prom a few days ago, so I thought I'd do an outfit post on what I wore to mark the occasion. I went for this bright orange-y/red dress just because of the summery weather (although the sun stopped shining as soon as I stepped out to take these pictures!). But I mainly chose this dress because I loved the light material, it just made me want to spin around continuously.

Love from,

Miss Iffa
xoxo
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Friday, 20 February 2015

Introducing... WHAT!

Click to enlarge

Shirt - c/o What is the Motive
"I just CBA - Continue Being Ambitious"

Hello!

I was recently sent this shirt from a new sportswear brand on the scene, What is the Motive. I love the whole ethos behind this brand - they're all about inspiring young people to work hard and achieve their motives through slogan tees and branded beanie hats. Slogan shirts have lately been popping up in all kinds of high street shops, so if you're planning on investing in a piece, at only £10 a shirt, these are well worth the buy! I love the catchy word play that the brand uses, (WHAT is an acronym for Working Hard Achieving Targets - clever!) and their minimalistic approach means you can basically style their clothing in whatever way you like.

Be sure to give this up and coming brand lots of support - I personally think it's great how they are combining style with a strong motivational message. Give them a follow over on their Insta: @whatisthemotive.

Love from,

Miss Iffa
xoxo
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Sunday, 25 January 2015

"Smart but Casual" Dress Code


Clockwise from the top: Selfie with Christine Bleakley | Group selfie! | Me with the stunning birthday girl | Another group pic!Top - H&M | Trousers - River Island | Shoes - Kurt Geiger

Hello!

I recently wore this outfit to my friend's party. I was aiming for a "smart but casual" look that didn't fall into the category of "dresses". When I initially came across these trousers I was little apprehensive about wearing them because I tend to stick to basic block colours (preferably black) when it comes to trousers, also, the trousers resembled harem-style pants without heels, which was a bit too casual for the event. I think this outfit could be worn on a casual day out too if the heels were swapped for flats and opting for lighter accessories instead. The shirt is a really simple black polo neck that I wear in and out of college, these shirts are really popular at the moment and you can find them at pretty much every major high street retailer.

As for the party - it was a fantastic night! The theme of the night was 'Hollywood' and my friend Liv certainly looked the part! It was exciting to see a few famous faces at the party, such as Christine Bleakley from the TV programme This Morning. I went a bit snap-happy with all the pictures/videos - the Speakmans definitely know how to throw a party!

Love from,

Miss Iffa
xoxo
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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Birthday! & Turning in the New Year


Hello!

I recently turned the big 18 and to celebrate becoming a 'legal adult', I held a Great Gatsby/1920's America themed party! I thought I would share some of my favourite pictures of the night with you all. I found the dress in the pictures in a sale and fell in love at first glance! I liked the slightly unusual mix of red and cream and the fact that it was on sale was just an added bonus. I loved wearing this dress and can't wait for another opportunity to wear it again.

December is always a busy month for everyone, hence my lack of blogging recently! I know it's a little late, but happy new year! I hope you all have a prosperous new year full of happiness and success. I've been thinking of some realistic New Year's resolutions which I am determined to keep. The problem with me is that by December, I always forget what resolutions I have kept that year, but posting them in a blog post is a smart way to not forget!

  • Say "yes"!

The main thing I have learnt in 2014 is that the answer to every opportunity should always be "yes". Life is way too short to spend time thinking "what if", so my goal this year is to embrace every opportunity - big or small - that comes my way. Even if the experience turns out to be terrible, at least having that experience is better than having no experience at all. Carpe diem!
  • To be more creative with my hair and makeup
Ok, this is definitely one I need to uphold! I have naturally curly hair and still to this day I am pretty clueless as to how to style it - I probably have 3 generic hairstyles. I have watched numerous YouTube videos on styling curly hair but I am terrible at following tutorials and the results just never seem to be same for me. But this year I am determined to change that! This week I tried blow drying my hair for the first time ever, unfortunately, my hair went ridiculously frizzy and I had to use straighteners. In short, I still have a long way to go!
  • Learn how to cook more complicated dishes
If I'm planning on moving out soon, then I need to be able to cook more complex dishes. I am pretty great at cooking up desserts, if I do say so myself, but when it comes to cooking 'proper' meals then I'm pretty clueless. I rarely stretch out of my 'pasta bake' comfort zone, but I'm hoping this year to master more difficult dishes.
  • Carry on reading/writing
This is one resolution I am desperate to see through. I love to write! I enjoy writing poetry, short stories and blogging here. I used to blog quite consistently, but as life gets busier, I seem to find less time to blog. Nevertheless, I have been blogging for 4 years now and I hope to carry on writing here for more years to come!


I would love to hear of some of your new year's resolutions, feel free to share them in the comments below!

Love from,

Miss Iffa
xoxo
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