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.

Vegan Carrot halwa

vegan-carrot-halwa

This recipe was posted in February 2017. I am reposting some of my old but true and tested recipes.

Carrot is a very versatile vegetable. You can make stir fries or curries, salads, carrot cake or baby food. When I was a kid, I was told to eat carrots. I was told that it is good for eyesight. It is very high in Vitamin A. (For more information and health benefits check http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21).

 I was always proud of my eyesight and always thought it was because of the carrots I ate. Unfortunately, today, even with all the carrots I eat, I need reading glasses. 😦

I love carrot halwa, but can’t eat it most time since one of the main ingredient other than carrots are milk. So, I make my own. I usually substitute milk with soy milk. Today, I have used almond milk instead. Try it and let me know, how it tastes. As I am writing this post, I am enjoying the halwa, not too sweet, just right and delicious!

Ingredients:

4 cups grated carrots (around 1 Kg)

2 cups almond milk (or soy milk)

6-7 tbsp sugar (according to taste- you could add more)

1/2 cup cashew nuts

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp oil or ghee

Directions:

In a heavy bottom pan, add the oil or ghee. To it, add the cashew nuts and fry till golden brown. Add raisins and fry for thirty seconds. Remove and keep aside.

In the same pan, add the carrots and fry for 5-6 minutes. 

Add milk and let it cook on a slow flame till most of the liquid evaporates. Add sugar and cardamom powder mix well till the liquid evaporates. 

Add cashews and raisins and mix. Serve it hot or cold.

Enjoy!

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Leftover Fries Frittata

What would you do with leftover fries? You could fry it again or crisp it in the oven, or make a frittata. I have made frittata before with noodles, mushrooms or sliced potato. When I googled ideas for leftover fries, I saw ideas for frittata. Threw in a few things together and a dish is made! You can follow the same recipe and instead of fries, you can add leftover noodles or thinly sliced potatoes.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

1 1/2 cups french fries

1/2 onion, chopped

1 green chilli , chopped (optional)

3 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

2 slices, ham or smoked turkey (optional), chopped

2 tbsp goat cheese or mozzarella cheese (optional), crumbled or grated

Directions

Chop the fries

Heat skillet and add oil

Spread fries on the skillet and and let it sit on medium flame for a few minutes to crisp up

Beat eggs and other ingredients together

Pour on the fries and let it cook

Slowly flip. I usually cover the skillet with a plate and then flip. Then slide the frittata back

Cook till golden brown

Slice and serve with a side of vegetables or some salad

Enjoy!

Peach Cobbler

I bought some beautiful peaches from the farmer’s market. I used some for salads and made a dessert with the rest. It is a really easy dessert to whip up. I don’t know why I never made this before. This recipe has no eggs, so a good dish to make if you want an egg-free recipe. I had this recipe in a recipe book which I wanted to try but never had peaches. When I got the peaches, my cook book was packed up. I remember the picture in the book, it was beautiful; peaches sliced perfectly and laid out perfectly. My dish is more rustic, may not be a great photograph, but really tasty. This recipe was inspired by tastesbetterfromscratch.com


Ingredients

3 peaches (I would try it with ripe mangoes too)

¼ cup sugar

1 tbsp brown sugar

A pinch of cinnamon

A pinch of salt

3 tbsp butter (could substitute a vegan butter)

For the batter

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup brown sugar and the rest white sugar)

1 tsp baking powder

¼ cup milk (I used almond milk)

a pinch of salt

1 tsp cinnamon powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C)

Place peaches in a pan of boiling water for a minute. Immerse it in cold water and peel the peaches or use a peeler

Slice into wedges

Add it to sugar and cinnamon and salt in a pan and cook till sugar dissolves, 4-5 minutes

Chop butter and put in an 8 inch pan. Place in oven till butter melts

Take the pan out

Mix ingredients for the batter except the cinnamon. Add batter to the pan, over the melted butter and spread it

Spoon the peaches and the juice into the pan

Sprinkle with cinnamon on top and bake for 40 minutes. The batter rises to the top giving a rustic look

Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or just as is.


Roasted Tomato Salsa with Chipotle Peppers

More than a year ago, I ate a chipotle sauce at Sancho’s in Bangalore. The sauce was really good and I wanted to recreate that dish. Since I could not get my hand on chipotles, I never got to trying it. I cannot remember the exact taste of the dish or even what the exact dish was, except that it was exceptionally good and I remember trying to get every drop of sauce off the plate.
The other day, I found chipotle in adobe sauce in a store. I had one heirloom tomato from the farmer’s market and I used three of the store bought tomatoes. I made this salsa adding things as I went to improve the taste. I called my son to taste, he had this expression “no way it could be this good”. I had to write it down quickly, so I will not forget what I added. This would go well with chips, on tacos, fajitas, with chapati; I suppose with anything! this is lip smacking good! Try it! 

4 medium sized tomatoes

2-3 cloves garlic

2-3 tbsp coriander/ cilantro

3 pieces chipotle in adobo sauce (You could substitute with 3 red chillies or ½ -1 tbsp chilli powder, 1 tsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp tomato puree and  ½ tsp of cumin powder)

Directions

Roast tomatoes and garlic in the oven at 400º F (200º C) for 20-25 minutes

Peel skin off.

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend.

Add salt to taste

Serve with chips, veggies, or as you please

Enjoy!

A Burger By Any Other Name

So you all must have heard of the plant based burgers – beyond burger and impossible burger, they look like meat, taste like meat but are not meat. This is a big hit across the world especially for meat eaters trying to give up meat. Just recently, I heard on the news that soon in the USA, a law may be passed that bans the usage of ‘burger’ even if it says veggie burger, if no meat is used. Burger according to them has to be meat, not lab grown, but from an animal. They are also going against the use of rice for example cauliflower rice where the ‘rice’ is actually grated cauliflower. I can see where that could be mistaken for rice with cauliflower, like lemon rice is rice with lemon flavoring or spinach rice is rice with spinach. But a veggie burger seems quite self explanatory, it is a burger made of veggies.

Read more here!

In India, when I was growing up, we did not have that problem because we hardly used the word burger. We had a word for ‘burgers’ and they were cutlets. No, they are not what the rest of the world thought of a cutlet. These were vegetables (mainly potato with some beans, carrot and cauliflower) or meat or fish, minced or mashed with spices of course, shaped as patties and coated usually with semolina and deep fried. They are crisp on the outside and moist in the inside and spicy. This was an ideal snack to be eaten after school or when you have guests. In India, there is a coffee shop called India Coffee House (there is one in almost every city). They were started some time in the 1930s, the waiters have a uniform with a white turban, I sometimes wonder if the uniforms are the same ones from the 1930s. Their coffee is simple, good Indian filter coffee, cheap and no frills.  They are also known for their cutlets served with ketchup.So, here I am not sure if I should call it a burger or a cutlet or a patty. Call it what you want, but let me tell you it is delish! 

This burger is almost like falafel but the mushroom also gives it a slightly meaty texture.  I fried the mushrooms and had the garbanzo cooked and ready to go the previous day.  If you want to add spinach, go ahead and add a few handfuls of chopped spinach. I had also made some pesto the night before. Putting the burgers together did not take a lot of time, once prep was done.

Ingredients

400 grams mushrooms, sliced or chopped fine

1 medium onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can garbanzo beans or chickpeas (1 ¼ cups cooked chickpeas)

½ cup chickpea flour (besan)

2 tbsp sunflower seeds or watermelon seeds

2-4 tbsp chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves

1 green chilli, chopped (optional)

2 tsp cumin powder

 1 tsp chilli powder

Salt to taste

2-3 tbsp oil

Accompaniments (Whatever takes your fancy, but here are some options)

Sliced tomatoes, pesto, coriander chutney, raw onions, pickles, jalapeno pepper, lettuce, cheese, goat cheese, mayo, tahini or tamarind and date chutney

Directions

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add onions and saute till golden brown

Add garlic and mushrooms and saute till mushrooms are cooked and it is dry

Cool and mince in a chopper or blender. If you are using finely chopped mushrooms, you can skip this step

If using from a tin, rinse garbanzo beans/ chick peas

Mash the beans using a masher or in a chopper. It has to be coarse so there is some texture to it

Mix the beans with mushrooms and add the sunflower/ watermelon seeds

Add a tablespoon of gram flour at a time and mix

You should get a mixture that is not too sticky but it should not be like a dough

Leave it in the refrigerator for ½ hour

Heat oil in a pan

Form patties and pan fry on a low flame. Flip and fry the other side

Serve with burger buns and a few accompaniments of your choice or just eat it plain


Enjoy!