Healthy Quinoa Salad

Most of the time we think of healthy food and we and equate it to a drab, tasteless meal and especially, if it is a salad, we think of rabbit food. This salad is healthy and tasty, full of veggies and with a lime chilli vinaigrette. I was also making hummus and had some cooked chickpeas, so added that too to make a complete meal. It is also colorful and will make a beautiful addition to your holiday dinner table.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 green, red and yellow capsicums/peppers, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 small English cucumbers, cut into cubes
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, cut into half
  • 1/2 cup, chopped coriander/cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans (optional – but will add protein to the salad)
  • salt to taste

Lime Chilli Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, cooked in a tsp of olive oil and chopped finely

Directions

  • Rinse quinoa well. In a saucepan add the quinoa and double the amount of water and place on high heat, till it boils. Then lower to medium heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes till all the water has been absorbed. Cover for 5-10 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Let it cool.
  • Meanwhile, add all ingredients for the dressing in a glass bottle, cover it and shake it well till well blended. Let it rest. The longer it rests, the better.
  • In a large mixing bowl add all the vegetables and the cooled quinoa.
  • Pour in the dressing and mix. (Pour half of it, mix, taste and then add more if required)
  • Season with salt and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. 
  • Enjoy!

You could substitute quinoa with couscous or broken wheat/bulgar too. This stays for a couple of days in the fridge, so save some for lunch the next day! I was inspired by the recipe in cookie and Kate and then adapted it to my own taste.

Hummus – Healthy and Easy to make

When I have guests, I have some easy appetizers and dips that I make. Hummus is one of them. I think the first time I ate hummus was at Oasis Falafel in Iowa city. It is a very small restaurant with maybe four tables but with the best falafel and hummus. Because I am lactose intolerant, I make this often, since it is dairy-free and of course healthy. I jazz it up with whatever catches my fancy that day and what I have in the pantry. Add olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pumpkin and you get a different hummus.

Healthy Hummus

Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 1 can garbanzo beans

4-5 garlic cloves

¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt to taste

1 pinch baking soda

1 tsp cumin powder

4-5 ice cubes 

Garnishes: cumin powder, chilli powder, roasted chickpeas, chopped parsley, roasted pine nuts or sesame seeds

Directions:

Soak dried chickpeas in water, overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Cook chickpeas with 2 cloves of garlic and some salt till soft. I use a pressure cooker and let it whistle for 3-4 times. It should be soft. Let it cool.

Strain (save the cooking liquid) and rinse the chick peas.

In a small saucepan, heat a tsp of oil and cook 2 cloves of garlic till soft. (Usually, raw garlic is added, but I prefer to cook it)

In a blender/ food processor, add the garlic, tahini and ice cubes and blend. The ice cubes make the tahini smooth by breaking down the fat. Blend for a few minutes.

Add chickpeas in small batches and blend. Add some chickpeas cooking liquid and blend. Add cumin powder and salt and blend till creamy. (Be careful with the salt, since salt was added while cooking the chickpeas and the liquid will also have salt). Add olive oil and blend.

Garnish it with any of the garnishes mentioned.

Serve with pita bread.

Olive Hummus

To the basic hummus recipes, add 3-4 tablespoons of oliveand blend for 20 seconds. Serve.

Olive Hummus

Pumpkin Hummus

To the basic hummus recipe add a couple of tablespoonsof roasted pumpkin and blend till smooth. This hummus is slightly sweet. Garnish with small pieces of pumpkin or roasted pumpkin seeds

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

To the basic hummus recipe add a couple of tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes and blend.

Sweet Potato Toast

One day, while I was grocery shopping, I saw a box of sweet potato slices in the frozen section. I decided to try it at home. It is easy to make, healthy and for those who are on a low carb keto diet, whole 30, have gluten or dairy allergy or just want to eat less carbs, this is great. I had just made sundried tomato pesto and used that as a spread. I also added avocado on that and made my version of avocado toast, which is the ‘in’ thing to eat. My son commented that I was eating like the millenials. I had some baingan bharta which I used as a spread too. Top it whatever catches your fancy.

Ingredients

  • 1 Sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
  • Slice sweet potato , 1/4 inch thick
  • Place on a pan in one layer
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Bake for 15 to 20 mins
  • If you do not have an oven- parboil teh sweet potato, slice and pan fry with a little oil.
  • Top with whatever you want and have it as breakfast, snack or as dinner.

Cauliflower Steak

This is a really simple dish that looks like you spent a lot of time. Makes a great side or a main. I served it with tomato chutney, sun dried tomato pesto and yogurt sprinkled with some spices.

I roasted this on the oven but you can roast it on a grill or a pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 big cauliflowers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a mixture of 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)
  • Cut cauliflower in half lengthwise
  • Cut 1 inch thick slices. The outer slices will fall apart. You could save them for another dish or grill them too.
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • Sprinkle the seasoning mixture on both sides and place on pan.
  • Bake 15 minutes each side
  • Serve as a side or a main dish

Pytt i Panna (Swedish Hash)

Last week when I went grocery shopping and saw beets, pytt i panna flashed in my mind. This is a popular swedish dish, originally made with leftover potatoes and pickled beets on the side. Onions and meat/ sausages were also chopped up and added to it. For vegetarians, meat was excluded and at most restaurants had beets and carrots. An egg was usually fried and placed on top.

Here is my version of a vegetarian/ vegan pytt i panna. Of course you could add an egg if you want. This is a very rustic dish.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized potatoes, diced in small pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 large or 3 small beetroot, diced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper

Direction

  • In a pan, heat oil. Add onions and fry till golden brown
  • Add potatoes and stir fry till half cooked
  • Season with salt
  • Add beetroot and carrots
  • Season with salt and stir fry till veggies are cooked
  • Taste and add more salt if required
  • Season with fresh cracked pepper
  • Top with a fried egg (optional) and serve with gerkins (optional)

South Indian Carrot Salad

I remember eating this salad at my friend’s house when I was in college. I have been making this ever since. It is easy to make, healthy and delicious. You can serve it as a side or eat it as a main. You could grate some radish with it too, if you like; but I prefer just carrots.

My Mom’s Tomato Thokku/ Chutney

My mom is a wonderful, gutsy, amazing woman. Some of my first memories of her was playing volleyball with her students, her saree tucked up. She was the first person in her village to go to college. She is a sportswoman who was a sports teacher at a college in Bangalore. She treated her students like her kids; sometimes making me jealous. She was hard working and passionate about her profession. I must have imbibed that from her. She has slowed down with age, but she is still that gusty woman. I don’t think I have ever told her this, but I am so proud of her and look up to her!

My mom

My mom never cared about cooking much; maybe with her busy schedule. However, there were certain dishes that she made superbly. There were some dishes which are not common, some of them are from Coorg, others she picked up on the way. Today is her birthday and thought I would put up one of her recipes in her honor. Happy birthday, Mummy!

My mom made a lot of chutneys. One of her favourite was coriander chutney. She also made a mint chutney to go with sandwiches. I remember her making mint chutney sandwiches to take for her students when they went for day long athletic events. This is another chutney my mom makes. It does take time to make but it stays for at least a month in the fridge. The ingredients are few, but it packs a punch. It goes really well in sandwiches, idli, dosas and methi roti/theplas. I used heirloom tomatoes for this. But any tomatoes will work, preferably meaty ones.

Ingredients

  • 3 kg ( approx 6 pounds) tomatoes, (try to get meaty tomatoes)
  • 4 tbsp salt
  • 10-12 dry red chillies (or fewer if you do not want it spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp oil

Directions

  • Cut tomatoes in pieces. Sprinkle salt and let it sit in the fridge for a day
  • Drain the tomatoes in the colander and let it sit
  • Squeeze the juices out of the tomatoes
  • Spread it on a pan
  • Preheat oven to 200F (approx 100C)
  • Place tomatoes in oven for about an hour till it dries out. (My mom dries it in the sun)
  • Cool
  • Grind the tomatoes with garlic, asafoetida and red chillis
  • Heat oil. Add tomato mixture and fry on a low flame
  • Cook for about 30 mins and keep mixing
  • Cool and store in an air tight container
  • Stores for at least a month, if it lasts that long