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.

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Vegan Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of my favorite vegetables is Pumpkin. (OK I feel like I say it every time I write about a vegetable – spinach, eggplant, mushroom, carrot …) In the west, you think of pumpkins in October and November. But in India, you cook it through the year in sambar and a lot of Kerala dishes.

I just love roasting vegetables and roasting pumpkin just brings out its sweetness. Sometimes, I just sprinkle a little brown sugar and roast it, it tastes like pumpkin pie without all the calories. I can eat a whole bowl of it.

For this recipe, I roast the pumpkin before I add it to the soup stock. Of course, you can cook it directly in the stock, but believe me, the roasting just takes it to the next level. I always make a little extra, as I eat some straight from the pan. If you have extra, you can also mash it and add to hummus to make a pumpkin hummus or top it on a salad.

 

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throwing some roasted pumpkin on a couscous salad

 

Depending on what I have that day, I top the soup with either toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted pine nuts, some goat cheese or stir-fried mushrooms. Enjoy the steaming hot bowl of goodness on a cold winter night!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 kg pumpkin
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 4 -5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (usually milk cream is used)
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Garnish: toasted pumpkin seeds or toasted pine nuts or stir-fried mushrooms or goat cheese

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pumpkin

Directions:

Cut the pumpkin in half, remove seeds and cut them into wedges/ slices. You could remove the skin at this point or scoop out flesh after it is roasted.

Preheat oven to 200ºC/ 400ºF

Place pumpkin slices on pan, drizzle a tbsp olive oil on the pumpkins and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 – 40 minutes till the pumpkin is soft.

Scoop out flesh and cut into small pieces.

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onions and garlic and fry till golden brown.

Add pumpkin and stock and cook for about 15 minutes. Add salt and the spices.

Blend the soup using a blender or an immersion blender till it is a nice puree.

Add coconut milk to give it an, even more, creamier consistency.

Check for salt and add accordingly.

Garnish and serve hot with some crusty bread. It is perfect for a cold winter night.

 

 

Salad Dressings and Density of Fluids

A salad dressing always heightens the taste of a salad. The simplest salad dressing is oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. You could add honey to sweeten it or some dijon mustard. Have you noticed that when you pour oil and vinegar, they do not mix? Have you ever wondered why?

Salad dressing reciipes1 (1)

Salad dressing reciipes1 (2)

I had written about density in my previous blog – Float or Sink, but here is a recap. Density is how much ‘stuff’ is packed in a certain volume. The density of a liquid is the mass per unit volume (1kg/m3). For all practical purposes, if you take 1 liter of liquid and measure the mass (weight on earth), the density of that liquid (for example) 1.2 Kgs, then the density of that liquid is 1.2/1 =1.2.

Here is an easy and fun experiment to do with kids about the density of liquids. If you color the liquids, it would be a fun addition to their room.

Use the same volume of liquids. I used 1/4 cup each.

The liquids I used were honey, vegetable oil, water, dish soap, and milk. I had to use a baster and add milk gently which I did not and it did not work, so I redid the experiment without milk. You can also add vinegar.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (you could mix an oil based food coloring)
  • 1/4 cup water mixed with some water-based food colour
  • 1/4 cup dish soap
  • a tall glass
  • cherry and other small objects

 

Directions:

Pour equal volume of the different liquids in cups and place them in order of liquids being added. (honey, dish soap, water, and vegetable oil.  I also labeled the cups.

Pour the honey carefully into the cup without touching the sides of the cup. Carefully add dish soap. If you have a baster, use that.

Then add water and then vegetable oil. It is ok if it mixes a little.

Leave it for an hour to settle, you will see the different layers.

Why does this happen? Liquids have different densities. The heavier liquids like honey have a higher density and therefore will sink below the lighter liquids.

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 8.58.47 PM

The same rule for float or sink works here too. Denser solids will sink and solids that are less dense like a walnut will float. A cherry is denser than water and oil so it settles on top of the honey. Try different objects, how about a ping pong ball. Experiment with different liquids like vinegar, baby oil, lamp oil, corn syrup or maple syrup. Ask your child to hypothesize and then document the results.

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Adding solids to the liquids

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Beetroot and Sweet Potato Salad

wonderful!

There are days when all I want to eat is a nice big bowl of salad. I would not have said the same 20 odd years ago. When I first moved to Sweden, my first meal when I landed in Uppsala was a bowl of greek salad. I was astounded that my lunch was a big bowl of salad. At that time, we mostly ate South Indian food and anything exotic was North Indian or Chinese. Also, the salads were served as a small side and most of the times it was just cucumber, onion and tomatoes. But here I had a big bowl of salads with olives and feta (which I had not seen before). I ate it apprehensively. Today, I would kill for a greek salad.

This is a lovely salad where the beetroot and sweet potatoes and roasted to bring out the sweetness. I have also added carrots. There is some quinoa too to make it a more hearty salad.

Ingredients:

2 medium beetroots

2 carrots (optional)

2 medium sweet potatoes

1/2 cup quinoa (you can also try foxtail millets or sorghum (jowar) or any other millets of your choice

1 1/2 cups water or stock

1 small bunch of romaine lettuce

a handful of walnuts

a handful of cranberries (optional)

1/2 avocado (optional)

1-2 tbsp goat cheese (optional)

Dressing:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

1 tsp dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Heat oven to 425º F (220ºC).

Cube beetroot, sweet potato, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and a tbsp of olive oil. Spread on a baking pan. Bake for around 25 minutes or until soft.

In a pan heat water or stock. Add quinoa and cook for around 20 minutes (till the quinoa is cooked).  Set aside.

Add all ingredients for dressing in a bowl or glass bottle and whisk/shake till dressing emulsifies.

Chop lettuce. Toss with all the other ingredients. Add dressing and mix.

Enjoy!