Roz Ka Khana

A blog about everyday food. Mostly Indian. All vegetarian.

Archive for the category “Vegetables”

Lunchbox Series – Day Two – Mediterranean Salad with Creamy Garlic Cilantro Parsley Dressing

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It’s been quite a busy few days so pardon the delays in the “daily posts”. For one I have restarted the 1-green-smoothie-a- day series again. This time for 21 days. I figured it’s February and probably a month where the zeal of New Year resolutions just starts to wane so why not try to keep the momentum alive. I have been smoothie-ing for the past year and a half and cannot tell you how beneficial it has been for me. There have been quite some requests to share the daily recipes so I just started to post them here and on the Facebook page, in case you’re interested in following along.

So get your green smoothie to start your day and continue to nourish with these protein packed lunches.

Day Two comprised of a Mediterranean Salad inspired from this popular salad chain in Singapore called Salad Stop. The perfect combination of carbs, protein, greens and veggies topped with a creamy Arabic spiced vinaigrette. Top this with a peanut chaat and some fruit and you have a wholesome lunchbox to last you through the 4pm sugar or caffeine rush.

Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces – 2 cups
  • Red bell pepper, sliced thin, 1/2 cup
  • Chickpeas, 1/2 cup, boiled and drained
  • Boiled potato, 1 , cubed
  • Cucumber, 1/2 sliced thin
  • Cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup, halved
  • Falafels – 4-5. (Prepared ahead using this recipe. You may also use an organic falafel mix).

Layer all the above in that order in the lunchbox container.

Arabic Spiced Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cups Olive Oil
  • ¼ cups Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar (can Substitute White Vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Mint
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-½ teaspoon Sugar
  • ¾ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • •¼ cups Loosely Packed Fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 Chopped cilantro

Blend all the above to a creamy mix.

Peanut Chaat:

  • 2 cups boiled peanuts
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies chopped fine
  • cilantro, 1/2 cup chopped
  • juice of half to one lemon squeezed.
  • salt to taste

Mix all the above and garnish with cilantro.

Lunchbox Series – A Week of Protein Packed Lunches – Day One – Rainbow Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I just realized that this is my first post for the new year. A wee bit late but what better way to start than with some healthy lunchbox recipes. It’s always heartening to see the whole family get on a healthy streak versus a lone crusader (that would be me) experimenting with single serve “healthy” menus which has been the case for some time now. I’d still try to cook and pack healthy food for Nikhil but I have never wanted to force “dairy free” or “gluten free” or “grain free” menus on anyone, even on myself. Those have purely been weekly experiments to see the effect of elimination of some of these highly talked about diets, on my own body. And I have realized that some things that work for me may not work for everyone. To each his own. I have, for example, tried to eliminate milk, caffeine, white flour, white rice, white sugar etc. from my diet, I try to be gluten free once a month if I can, have introduced fermented foods like kefir and kombucha on a regular basis and have noticed quite drastic effects on my energy levels, skin, vision and even my outlook in general. I keep trying something new every month and it’s amazing to see the direct effects of food on the body and mind.

But I’m also not wont to spending hours catering to every diet need at home so this project meant that either everyone get on the healthy bandwagon or I jump off and “be normal”:) Save my green smoothies of course, which I have stuck on to – possibly for life:)

So it came as a pleasant surprise when last week G announced that he wanted to try packing lunches to work. And make it a rice-free but protein laden week. Like I said I have enjoyed packing lunches for Nikhil, something I would never have imagined I had in me, but I also love a good challenge. One of my favorite pastimes on weekends (call me strange) is creating healthy menus for the week ahead and it has been a blessing to have a planned food calendar for everyone in the house – removes the stress out of crazed weekday mornings, eradicates the eternal and annoying “what’s for lunch or dinner” questions and makes shopping easier.

And so we were on. Vegetarian, protein laden menus for the week, minus rice, pasta and heavy carbs. Here’s what it looked like:

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I have been posting the daily lunchboxes on the Facebook and Twitter pages but do need to record the recipes somewhere for posterity and of course to share with those interested. So here goes…a daily recap of the #proteinweek #lunchbox.

Day One:

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Rainbow Salad with Boiled Egg and Lemon Vinaigrette:

Ingredients: (for one lunchbox)

  • Romaine Lettuce – 2 cups
  • Grapes – 1 cup, sliced
  • Red apples – 1 cup, chopped
  • Red Bell pepper- 1/2 cup sliced thin
  • Carrot – 1/2, grated
  • Red cabbage- 1/4 grated
  • Sunflower seeds – 1/4 cup
  • Boiled egg – 1, sliced (you may replace with tofu or tempeh or quinoa if you don’t eat eggs for other protein alternatives; even paneer or haloumi cheese if you don’t mind dairy)
  • Kidney beans, 1/2 cup, boiled

Lemon Vinaigrette: (Epicurious.com recipe)

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, and fine sea salt, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the oil , whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The vinaigrette can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 3 days.

Chickpea or Kabuli Chana Chaat:

  • 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight, boiled and drained
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cherry tomato, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp Jiralu powder or chaat masala (available at Indian stores)
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • a small bunch of cilantro, chopped.

Take the chickpeas in a bowl and mix the first 5 ingredients. Add the lemon juice and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Thai Vegetarian – Steamed tofu in garlicky lemon sauce (Tao Huu Neung Manao)

This is one of those unforgettable dishes that stays etched in your memory months, no, years after you savor it for the first time. It was a serendipitous visit to a restaurant called Sabai Thai at a bustling Orchard Road mall, during one of our first visits to Singapore (before we officially moved here).Unbeknownst to us we had hit a gold mine in a Thai restaurant that had a unique all vegetarian menu😊.

This steamed tofu dish in a garlic and lemon sauce was one of the best dishes on the menu and the most unique Thai dishes I have tasted – different from the usual curry, salads and other fares that dot most Thai vegetarian menus.

I tasted this dish again exactly 3 years later at Sabai’s other branch near the Fullerton Bay Hotel. The flavors were still the same and I realized they were probably one of the few restaurants to offer a vegetarian version of this dish. Typically made with steamed whole fish in garlic and lemon sauce or Pla Kapong as it is called, this is considered popular in Isan cuisine, the northeastern part of Thailand.

There was something about this dish that, like many other Thai dishes had an Indian taste, South indian, to be exact.. It was like a fusion of tofu simmered in a rasam broth. Possibly why my rasam loving husband listed it as his most favorite-est Thai dish:)

And as you know from this post, I am always looking to re-invent the rasam. Lime Rasam Noodles and now Tofu with Garlic Lime Rasam?

So I tried to recreate this recipe and looked around for the best recipe for guidance. Surprisingly there were no vegetarian versions out there and even the original fish recipe was not documented very clearly. So this was one of those experiments where I made the sauce from half memory and half inspiration and was quite proud of the result.

This one is for the files and will be used again. Dinner that evening was Thai vegetarian green curry, steamed white rice and Tao Huu Neung Manao.

Nom Nom.

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Ingredients:

Fresh tofu (medium firm) – 1 packet

Garlic 3-4 pods or 3 tbsp

Lemon –  1 1/2 squeezed; or 3 tbsp

Thai red chili, sliced – 4 (note the red ones are very very spicy so you may substitute for 2-3 green ones)

vegetable stock – 1/2cup

Miso paste – 1 tbsp or to taste (this is used in place of the fish sauce)

1/2 tsp sugar

Cilantro, 1 bunch

Thai basil leaves, few chopped, optional

salt, to taste

Method:

  • Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Set aside.
  • Now make the sauce. Mix the vegetable stock, crushed garlic, red chilies, cilantro, miso and sugar together. Add salt to taste.
  • Take a flat vessel with edges. Pour some of the sauce/liquid in the vessel. Place the tofu slices. Add more of the sauce over it so the tofu is able to soak up the liquid.

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  • Use a steamer or pressure cooker. Pour some water at the bottom of the pressure cooker, keep a small cup upside down and place the flat vessel with the tofu and sauce over it. If you have other sophisticated steamer vessels please use your own method but this was my contraption to ensure the tofu and liquid get steamed together:)
  • Pressure cook for about one whistle or for about 7 minutes. Make sure you don’t steam for too long as it will dismember the tofu.
  • Wait for the pressure cooker to cool and then open the lid for a wafting garlicky aroma:). Garnish with chopped Thai basil leaves,
  • Enjoy with steamed hot white or brown rice.

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Snappy Salads – Lemony Kale Salad

This catchy title from MindBodyGreen caught my eye recently. “A Salad That Makes Even The Skeptics Fall In Love With Kale”:). So there it was. My next salad inspiration. I took this for lunch last week and am not being cliched when I say “I licked this salad clean.” Yes. This is the best kale salad I have tried. And in making it I also discovered how the natural flavors of kale can be accentuated.

The secret to making the perfect kale salad is this – Massage that kale. Use your bare hands. I think what makes kale salads so gratifying is that you literally use your senses to make it. No tongs, no fancy equipment, just roll those sleeves and use your fingers to press the kale leaves and rub them together. With or without the dressing.The process of massaging apparently breaks down the cellulose in the kale leaves and makes them soft and pliable, so when you douse them with dressing and any other flavors they take to them easily. I already have a kale “fetish” thanks to the oodles of green smoothies I have been consuming but this just took my kale love to new heights.

Note: The pictures don’t do enough justice to how delectable this salad is, and the fact that I didn’t slice the onions didn’t help to make it look as appetizing as well but this is one time I will guarantee it is worth the try. You will begin to LOVE kale:). Oh and did I mention this goes very well with Indian dishes too.

Enough gushing I suppose, here’s the recipe.

Serves 2 to 3 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches Lacinato kale (also called “Tuscan” or “Dinosaur” kale)
  • 1-2 lemons, squeezed
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 large white onion, sliced thin. I used red onion and chopped it fine and it was equally good so depends on how strong you like your onion flavors.
  • Olive Oil, to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Method:

  • Thinly slice the onion.
  • Take the crushed garlic into a bowl, and combine with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Add the sliced onions to the mix, douse with a healthy amount of olive oil and balsamic, mix well and set aside to marinate.

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  • Take the kale and strip the leaves off the stem. (You can check this video from Marin Mama Cooks on how to prep the kale). Break the leaves into bite sized pieces into a salad bowl.

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  • Squeeze one lemon directly onto the kale. Now begin to massage the kale, rubbing them together or using whatever technique you like, but ensure that the leaves get coated well. The kale will reduce in size and become smooth. You may taste the leaves here. If you still find them to be bitter, then add more lemon and keep massaging till the taste gets all lemony.

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  • Now heat a skillet and add the pumpkin seeds. You may add some coconut oil to the skillet to roast the seeds or just roast them dry. Once the seeds turn golden, remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

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  • Now add the marinated onions into the kale bowl, and throw in the cooled pumpkin seeds. You can massage the leaves again to ensure the leaves are coated well with the dressing. You may also add more salt, pepper, oil, or lemon until you find that perfect flavor.

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I had saved some leftovers at home but the salad was gone before I could try it again for dinner. The original recipe says that this salad only gets batter with age so keeping it in the refrigerator and eating the next day will enhance the flavors of the citrus and kale even more.Sadly we didn’t have any left to try this but that’s a good problem to have I suppose:).

Snappy Salads – Cucumber, Tomato and Feta, a Watercress Slaw , Home Made Dressings and more

After a week of binge desserts, festival food and family gatherings for Diwali post a whirlwind trip to India, I needed to quickly get back on the real food wagon. Oodles of sweets and savories, jaggery laden manoharams, murrukkus, gulab jamuns– top these with food coma induced naps countered with jet lag and a crazy road trip, and I was back to needing another vacation.

It’s amazing how your body begins to tell you (more like when you listen to it:) when you fall off the wagon and what it needs to get back on track. For the 10 days that I was filling my body with whatever was in front of me, it showed in my energy levels and my skin. I returned with breakouts, allergies, sinus headaches and all that I thought I had left behind months ago. Not that I wasn’t eating sweets and such in general – I‘m a big believer of eating everything in moderation, but a healthy balance of exercise and greens was doing the trick so far for me. It has now taken a full 10 days to get my schedule and energy back with my favorite green smoothies, juices, and greens.

So I figured I would get started with updating my salad repository or rather actually trying the many salad recipes I have stored in my Evernote files. I’ve been an avid user of Evernote of late, on my desktop and phone. I find it extremely useful when I’m browsing through my various news feeds and find anything that catches my eye, and this could be a list of books, articles, quotes, anything that tickles my funny bone and my palate. The best part – I can sync my notes with my tablet and phone and access my notes anywhere. So I have collected over 450 notes so far, more than half of which are recipes of course. I find this very handy when I’m planning my weekly lunch and dinner menus to pick from the various folders that I have saved recipes into- it’s a virtual cookbook that I can access from anywhere 🙂

This week, we had watercress and carrot slaw with home-made orange vinaigrette, and vegetable soup (with sandwich for those who wanted some extra heavy carbs) for dinner on Monday night. Today I toted along a cucumber tomato feta salad for lunch. You can use the second salad as an accompaniment to an Indian meal if you leave out the feta.

I used a useful gadget called the Salad Zinger to make the orange vinaigrette and it was amazing. Recommend the buy if you’re a gadget freak like me;) though you can still make it in your good old blender.

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Here are the recipes.

Watercress, green apple and carrot salad/slaw (Serves 2)

  • Watercress – a big bunch, chopped
  • Red cabbage – 1 /4 , grated
  • Carrots – 2, grated
  • Cherry tomatoes – 6-7, halved
  • Green apple – 1, grated

Orange vinaigrette dressing:

  • Navel oranges – 1, deseeded and quartered
  • Red onion, a small slice
  • Parsley, a small bunch about 1/8 cup
  • Garlic pod – 1
  • Olive oil – ¼ cup
  • Red wine vinegar – 2 tbsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp

For making the vinaigrette in the Salad Zinger, you will need to fill the first 4 dry ingredients in the bottom half of the gadget and screw the blades and bottom back on. Fill the top part with the liquid ingredients, shake the contraption and let the juices from the orange, onion mixture seep into the olive vinegar mixture. Let it sit for at least a half hour before adding to the slaw.

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Alternatively you can coarsely chop the first 4 ingredients in a blender, add it to a bottle and fill the bottle with the wet ingredients. Let steep for a half hour before serving.

Take the grated veggies in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine.

Cucumber, tomato and feta salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Mint leaves, 2-3 tbsp, chopped
  • Scallions, 2, chopped with the leaves
  • Green olives, ¼ cup
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:

  • Lemon juice, 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Mix the cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, mint in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt as feta is salty by itself. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss and sprinkle the crumbled feta before you serve.

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Vegetarian (Thai) Green Curry

It’s been a great summer so far and for once I didn’t seem to want school to start. The fact that I didn’t get to spend my entire summer with Nikhil may partly or wholly have to do with it. He was on a trip to the US this summer – all by “his self” as he used to say when he was younger:). I know – we were either bold or crazy, but the distance did make the heart grow wayy fonder:) …I’m still reveling in the afterglow of the impromptu hugs (which he wouldn’t be caught dead doing in public of course) and the occasional niceties. And so it wasn’t entirely surprising that he got to be the creator of the weekly menu last week. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all his choice and I was pleasantly surprised (and secretly proud) that he chose healthy and even some gluten free dishes for our dinners:).

The best part – I got to finally get out of the usual menu rut and try some new dishes all over again. It was Thai Green Curry night one evening and we were both proud of how good it turned out;). There’s nothing more satisfying than watching plates being (literally) licked clean:).

The green curry paste recipe is  inspired from Love Food Eat’s lovely blog. I made very few changes but most of the recipe is similar. I wanted to use Thai basil originally but couldn’t find it in time for dinner, so like the original recipe I used sweet basil but also added a sprig of mint. Sweet basil does change the taste slightly but adding mint gives it the bite that Thai basil adds. Also, as the original  post suggests, do make sure you use only the authentic Thai ingredients like Galangal (young ginger), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and Thai basil leaves. Do not try other substitutions or you will compromise on the taste.

IMG_2452.JPGIngredients for the green curry paste (this makes enough for about 6 people. You can also make and freeze for use later)

  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch galangal (young ginger), roughly chopped
  • 10-15 thai green chilies
  • 3-4 chopped kafir lime leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil leaves (if using sweet basil, use 2 tbsp of basil and 1 tbsp of mint)
  • 8 garlic pods
  • 3 chopped shallots
  • a sprig of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tamari or nama shoyu or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper

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IMG_2442.JPGMethod: Grind all the above to a fine paste using no water as far as possible. I used about 1-2 tbsp of warm water only to mix the ingredients or if the blender wouldn’t spin, but do use sparingly.

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IMG_2447.JPGIngredients for Green Curry:

  • 2 carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch matchsticks
  • Enoki mushrooms – 1 bunch roughly chopped
  • Baby corn – 6-7, sliced thin
  • Broad beans (I used these instead of snow peas and the taste was good) – 1/2 cup, chopped into 1 inch pieces.
  • Tofu (extra firm)- 1/2cup chopped into cubes
  • Red bell pepper – 3/4, roughly chopped into 1 inch pieces.
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 3-4 green chilies, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • Water, as needed for consistency
  • Salt to taste.

Method:

  1. Blanch or steam the veggies.
  2. Heat oil in a vessel, add the crushed garlic when the oil is hot. Add the green chilies.

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  1. Now add the green curry paste and fry on a medium flame till the curry paste blends with the oil and garlic and the raw smell goes away.

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  1. Add about 1/2 cup water, then add the steamed veggies. Mix well and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Add soy sauce as needed. Make sure that the mixture does not come to a boil but simmers on a medium flame.
  3. Add the tofu. Add salt and sugar to taste.
  4. Garnish with fresh basil and cilantro (optional).

Serve hot over white or brown rice.

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Snappy Salads – Taco Salad in a Jar

Salads in a Jar is probably another Pinterest favorite but it was actually a Huffington Post article that caught my fancy this week. The article was about colorful salads and fruits to make for a not so sad desk lunch. Couldn’tbe more timely as I was on a gluten-free/clean eating binge this week again after all the “junk” devoured over the past week and weekend.

My hurried clicks with my Iphone camera while I was making this salad didn’t come close to the vibrant colors in the original article, but it was a decent first attempt to inspire me to eat healthy at work and stop my binges in Singapore “dhaba” type eateries and food courts. I have to admit, this is by far the most convenient method to tote a salad to work, greens stay fresh, its healthy, compact and the dressing gets evenly mixed when its time to eat. All you need to do is turn the mason jar upside down and shake it a few times and you have a wholesome green colorful meal. And yes its snappy too!

After my smoothie obsession (that continues), salads may come a close second to slowly becoming an everyday habit.  Both smoothies and salads use my favorite kitchen utensil…the versatile mason jar. Not that ubiquitous in Singapore, you can find mason jars at wholesale Chinese kitchen stores in Chinatown or at Japanese dollar stores (Daiso). I do miss the “Ball” mason jars I used to collect at Walmart and Amazon but these aren’t too bad. Of course there’s always the pasta sauce/pickle jars that can be reused so it’s not hard to get started. You can also make the dressing and the fresh salsa ahead of time and keep it handy to whip up other tasteful mason jar salads.

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Taco salad in a mason jar

Couple of points to note when making salads in a jar:

  • Use mason jars that have a wider mouth than those you use for smoothies. Helps to mix and eat out of the jar if necessary.
  • Put the dressing in first and then add in other ingredients, Beans, harder veggies or fruits at the bottom and the softer ones on top. The salad leaves should be top most so they stay fresh.
  • Experiment with different veggies, fruits, beans and dressing.
  • Use homemade dressings as much as you can. Store bought ones not only have processed ingredients but are also calorie laden so nothing like blending some fresh dressing with fruits, veggies, olive oil or other on your own. I will share some dressing recipes frequently in this section as well so keep a look out.
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Taco salad prep

Ingredients:

For salad:

  • 1/2 cup boiled and drained black beans (soak black beans overnight in water and then cook it the next day in water over a stove or a pressure cooker)
  • 1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper,or both
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions or regular sweet Vidalia onions
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice (I mixed the quinoa with some lemon juiceand cilantro beforehand)
  • 1 small avocado, diced (toss with a little lime juice to prevent browning)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Mexican salsa (recipe below)
  • small handful chopped cilantro
  • shredded or sliced lettuce or any leafy greens

For dressing: (can be made 1-2 days ahead) 

  • juice of 1 lemon or lime (or about 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea Salt to taste

Mix all the above with a whisk and set aside.

For fresh Mexican salsa: (in the Vitamix)– from Vitamix recipes. Can be made a day or even a week ahead)

  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 5 baby carrots
  • 3 or 4 slices of fresh serrano peppers pending your desired heat level
  • fresh cilantro ( 3 finger pinch)

Turn the Vitamix to variable speed 7 and drop the garlic, serrano peppers, cilantro, and carrots in through the hole in the lid while the machine is running. Next, add the following to the container and put the lid back on:

  • 3 roma tomatoes (cutting in 1/2 or 1/4’s will make it easier for the blades to grab the tomatoes)
  • 1/4 inch slice of sweet yellow onion (larger onion) or a 1/2 inch on a smaller union
  • 1 thin slice of green bell pepper
  • Season Salt (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Pepper (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Garlic Salt (4 or 5 shakes)
  • Ground Cumin (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Squirt of lime juice

Now, turn the machine on variable 1 or 2 range. The less ripe the harder the tomato and the higher the speed needed to chop), and then use the tamper to push everything down in to the blades! When you can no longer see or feel large chunks of food, then your salsa is ready to devour:)

Method for layering the salad:

Layer ingredients in jar in the order listed- Lemon cumin dressing, black beans, diced pepper, green onions, salsa, quinoa, avocado and end with the lettuce. Top with lid and refrigerate until ready to eat. Can be made 1-2 days in advance.
To eat – turn jar over to let dressing/salsa coat the salad ingredients. You can eat out of the jar or empty it on to a plate. Salad leaves stay fresh and dressing is all evenly coated. Perfection!

 

 

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Fresh, Raw Summer Rolls with Chili-Peanut dipping sauce

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This was actually a Pinterest recipe that caught my eye at first but then I promptly forgot about it after adding it to my many recipe boards. Question for all your social media consuming foodie geeks – how do you keep track and organize the many recipes and food tips you pin, tag, instagram, stumbleUpon, Read it Later, save on Pocket, Evernote and whatever else you use to file recipes these days? I just glanced through my pins and bookmarks and I have enough recipes to menu plan for an entire year, without repeating any of them! But they are in dire need of organization and focus –  which one of those 10 spelt flour choc chip cookie recipes was THE one that got me ” the best-est cookie ever” badge from my foodie son? (Yeah I know I do manage to try some strange recipes:). I’m still not sure after trying out 4 other recipes and am not close to the original one:(

So send in your tips and suggestions. Of course the easiest method would be to record the best one here, so here goes…

I chanced upon this recipe again at this awesome blog called The Simple Veganista and the presentation and simplicity of this was enough to pull me in. I tried it for dinner last night and was impressed by how simple and yet how flavorful it was. This one is a keeper.  The recipe is modified slightly here as I used the ingredients I had (skipped tofu and added sprouts and kale) but it’s quite a forgiving recipe and I’m sure will taste good with whatever veggies you use.

Fresh, raw, healthy and very simple. Those should be good enough for anyone to try them I’m sure. The dipping sauce takes about 5 minutes to whip up. Have these summer rolls with a bowl of hot soup or any cold gazpacho and you have a balanced and healthy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 5 rice papers (I used circular sheets)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 bell pepper green, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • kale, pea shoots
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • mung sprouts
  • mint leaves, a handful
  • basil leaves, a handful

Method:

  • 1. Dip the rice paper in a flat bowl of warm water (the water should be warm,not boiling but not lukewarm either). Soak untilyou feel the paper soften and begin to get translucent and a bit sticky.
  • 2. Layer the veggies -I added kale first, then pea shoots, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers,sprouts and then mint or basil.
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  • 3. Roll the paper tightly around the veggies and continue to roll until you get a tube of tightly rolled veggies in rice paper.
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  • 4. Cut them in half and serve with dipping sauces of your choice.
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Peanut chili dipping sauce: (this is exactly as on the blog except that I added additional red chili flakes.You can also add fresh thai red chili if needed)

This makes 2 servings.
  • 3 heaping tbsps peanut or almond butter (I mixed 2 tbsp of peanut and 1 tbsp of almond butter)
  • 1 tbsp tamari, Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 – 2 tbsp rice vinegar, optional
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

Mix all the above with a small whisk or fork until it blends together. You can make this ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.

Snappy Salads – Baby Spinach, Red Onion, Orange and Feta Salad with a Sweet Citrus Dressing.

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This is a quick post for a snappy salad that I packed for lunch this morning. This week is fridge clean out week after days of entertaining and multiple grocery visits. Let me also add that it’s also a “clean eating” week for much the same reasons:). That is quite a challenge when you have pints of ice cream, chocolates and wine as party leftovers in the fridge but I did want to try.

This week’s resolve was to pack my lunch as often as I could and this salad was the easiest I could mix up with the clean-er items in my fridge and pantry. Some farmer’s market marmalade, rice vinegar and olive oil and I had a sweet citrus dressing. Truly snappy.

Ingredients:

3 cups of baby spinach

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

2 small mandarin oranges

1/2 cup pecans chopped

2 tbsp feta crumbled

1 small red onion sliced

Dressing:

1 tbsp orange marmalade

1 tsp rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

1 tbsp olive oil

You may also add some orange juice if you don’t have marmalade handy. As I said I was cleaning out my fridge:)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the above with a fork or small beater. Makes enough for 1/4 cup, enough for one salad.

Method:

Mix all the ingredients for the salad. If you’re packing it for lunch, keep the onions and the feta in separate containers and only mix them before you are ready to eat. Add the dressing, toss and enjoy!

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The 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge begins October 1!

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I mentioned earlier that green smoothies have been quite life changing for me. I’ve noticed some remarkable changes in my health even since I started to juice and blend every day. The Vitamix blender and the Hurom juicer are a countertop staple in my kitchen despite limited counter space. I have realized that having them at eye level keeps it top of mind – I now use them both every single day, sometimes more than once a day.

I’ve had several sources of inspiration as I mentioned earlier – the movie and site of Joe Cross’s reboot, Pushita’s The Rawsome Life, Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox and more recently Simple Green Smoothies. The last one has been a go-to for all things smoothies, especially the green kind. I tried their first 30 day challenge a few months ago and am now hooked. I start my morning with a daily glass of warm water with lemon, and then it’s usually a green smoothie for breakfast. I may or may not have additional toast or oatmeal – it depends on how full I feel after the smoothie and they are usually quite filling. Of course I’m hungry in about two hours for a mid morning snack so while I’m eating more frequently it’s actually helped with my energy levels.

This ritual has helped in more ways than one:

  • My energy levels have increased significantly – I don’t feel the need for caffeine any more in the morning – I have cut out morning tea or coffee except for an occasional afternoon cup of green tea or herbal tea
  • My skin has noticeably improved – what used to be very acne prone is now relatively smooth and on weeks I eat right it actually does have a sheen, not due to oil but a brightness to it:)
  • My eyesight has improved –  this took me a few validations from 2 different eye exams – but in my opinion the juicing of carrots has actually helped. My prescription has dropped a full 0.5 points.
  • Has helped with more than  my daily intake of fruits and veggies.
  • Has helped with toning and losing a few pounds – small but noticeable.
  • Has helped with immune support – my sinus issues have cleared up.

And so when Simple Green Smoothies announced they would start their next 30 day challenge – I was of course all set. Only this time I wanted to share my progress so hopefully we can do this together:)

If you are interested in joining and supporting me on this challenge please follow me on my Tumbl-og, FB and on Instagram to get daily updates, weekly shopping lists and recipes. Of course go ahead and sign up with Simple Green Smoothies too, the creators of this challenge.

Feel free to share your experiences and any green smoothie recipes that have worked for you as well.

Getting Started with the Challenge: (adapted from Simple Green Smoothies)

The goal is to help you drink at least one green smoothie a day for the next 30 days…and you can keep it flexible as long as you can make it happen.
 #1: Drink at least one green smoothie per day (1 green smoothie = 16 ounces). The recipes make 2 servings— so you can share with a friend,  save the other half for a snack or half the recipe.
#2: Keep eating regular meals. If you’re trying to shed some pounds, you can substitute a green smoothie for a meal. In general maintain a healthy diet – no heavy fats, fried stuff, avoid sugary stuff, hydrogenated fats etc. if you want to see a difference in your weight and in your overall health.
#3: Read the weekly shopping list and daily recipes on either of those sources mentioned above.
#4: Be adventurous! Buy those mustard or collard greens at the farmer’s market! Throw in some coconut oil! Sprinkle the top with chia seeds! You can be flexible with your smoothies.
#5: Buy fresh veggies and organic as much as you can. Be sure to wash the greens and fruits well especially if they are non organic to wash off the pesticides.
#6: The green smoothie general recipe is greens (1-2) + fruits (1-2) + herbs (1-2) + liquid base (coconut water or almond milk or water) + superfood (optional – chia, flax, spirulina etc)
#5: Blend your heart out! Any blender will do as long as you are consistent and use it a lot.

Happy smoothi-eing. You will notice that one green smoothie a day will transform your life as well, and hopefully help you drop a few pounds if you need to.

Here is the shopping list for the 1st week that I will share here and in all the other places of course. The things you will need other than the list are a good blender (I find the best ones to be Vitamix or the Blendtec if you are looking for suggestions but have found any blender to do the basic trick).

Note that this list makes about 4-5 cups or 2 servings of smoothies a day for 2 people so feel free to halve if you want to make less. Also note that you may use any greens (if you don’t have kale available for example use any local greens and any liquid base.

Shopping list for week 1:

FRUITS:
  • 6 bananas
  • 6 oranges
  • 1 pineapple, fresh or frozen
  • 2 apples
  • 4 pears
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 package mixed berries
  •    (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bag grapes 
VEGGIES: 
  • 1 small bag spinach, fresh (10-16 ounces)
  • 1 small bunch kale, fresh
  • 1 bunch basil, fresh

OTHER (LIQUID BASE):

  • Almond milk, unsweetened
  • Ginger root
  •  Coconut water
OPTIONAL (yet recommended!):
  • Chia, flax seeds
  • Elderberry extract
  • Probiotics
  • Spirulina powder

You may substitute the fruits as you like but try to keep it within the same family of stone fruits, melons, berries etc. For instance you can substitute oranges with grapefruit or clementines. Pears with green apples or maybe even guavas etc.

Also those are frozen berries in the picture – you may use fresh or frozen.

Stay open minded, flexible and watch that transformation happen!

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