January 31, 2013

Mung Dal w Spinach & Peas

Tonight I was craving the comfort of home (got some bad news this morning) and so decided to make a simple dal to serve over rice. I looked at the variety of whole, split, and split-skinned lentils I had and decided on using Mung Dal. This recipe is an enhanced version of what my mom still makes all the time. She tends to make the traditional/authentic unadulterated versions - her dal is just a dal, without any spinach in it!!     

Palak Mutter Mung Dal
Prep Time: 20-25 min

Ingredients (6 servings):
  1. 1 cup Split-Skinned Mung Dal
  2. 2 cups Baby Spinach
  3. 2 cups frozen Peas
  4. 6 Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Plain dried, Whole foods 365 brand)
  5. 1 (4oz) can of Tomato Sauce
  6. 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  7. 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  8. 1 tsp Deggi Chili Powder
  9. 1 tbsp Goya Recaito Cilantro Cooking Base
  10. 1 tbsp Tamicon
  11. Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together (except for the Tamicon) with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until dal is tender and begins to break apart. The preparation should be really soupy, so if it begins to thicken too much add cup or so of water. When the dal is tender, do a quick taste test for salt and add more, if needed. then add the tamicon, stir well and serve over brown rice. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 168 (Fat Calories 8)
Total Fat 0.9; Cholesterol 0g; Carbohydrates 29.6g; Dietary Fiber 7.6g; Sugars 5.0g; Protein 11.3g

January 30, 2013

Chinese Fried Rice

I seem to be on a rice kick these days. After making the Fiesta Toss-Up last night, I was still craving some rice this evening. Since Dr. McDougall, and others, promote consumption of healthy starches such as Brown Rice, I have no guilt whatsoever :) and consume rice several times a week. What I do try to do is add loads, and I literally mean loads, of veggies to my rice dishes so as to balance out the starches with fiber and nutrition. Today, I decided to make a plant-based version of Chinese Fried Rice. 

Chinese Egg (Tofu)-Fried Rice 
Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (6 BIG servings):
  1. 1.5 cups Brown Basmati Rice (dry)
  2. 1 recipe Happy Herbivore Basic Tofu Scramble
  3. 2 pks (12 oz) Birds Eye - Steamfresh Mixed Vegetables - Corn, Peas, Carrots, Green Beans
  4. 2 pks (12 oz) Birds Eye - Steamfresh Blends - Asparagus, Gold & White Corn, Baby Carrots
  5. 2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  6. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  7. 4 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  8. Salt to Taste
In a deep pan, bring 6-7 cups of water to boil and add brown rice. Simmer until tender and then drain and set aside. Prepare HH Tofu Scramble and set aside. I used black salt in my recipe to get the extra egg-like flavor. In a large skillet, thaw out veggies and allow any excess water to dry out. Then add the rice wine vinegar, ginger-garlic paste and soy sauce. Give everything a good toss and cook for a few minutes to allow the ginger-garlic paste to cook for a few minutes. Taste test the veggies at this stage. They should be saltier than you like them typically, because you will be adding a large amount of steamed rice. When the veggies start releasing the lovely aroma of Chinese food (its a mix of ginger and rice wine vinegar), add the steamed rice, give another good toss, and then add the HH Tofu Scramble and mix everything together. Turn off the stove, cover and let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend together. Serve warm, with freshly cracked black pepper for a garnish. 

Chinese Egg (Tofu)-Fried Rice
My Assessment: This was a great dish. Even my 17-year old step-son, who refuses to eat "my plants" enjoyed a big bowl-full. Tony loved it too (despite the fact that he abhors tofu ... he thinks I used Ener-G Egg Replacer in this recipe). 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 448 (Fat Calories 69)
Total Fat 7.7; Cholesterol 0g; Carbohydrates 72.1g; Dietary Fiber 9.0g; Sugars 12.2g; Protein 18.7g

Flax Seed Chocolate Oats

We haven't been grocery shopping in a few days. Last night, I realized I had no almond milk for my morning smoothie and since I'm addicted to my Red, White & Blue Smoothie, I couldn't imagine changing it up by making it in water. Frankly, the thought of making a smoothie without some kind of nut-milk to add smoothness was somewhat revolting. I polled the New Herbies page on Facebook on what to make for breakfast and the recurring response was Oats, in water. While that seemed somewhat revolting at first, I slowly warmed up to the idea and finally around 11pm last night I went back into the kitchen and soaked some Old Fashioned Oats in water to make overnight oats.  

Flax Seed Chocolate Oats
Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients (1 serving):

  1. 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 tbsp Ground Flax Seed Meal
  4. 1 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa
  5. 1 Banana, sliced 
  6. 4-6 Strawberries, sliced
  7. 1 tbsp Maple Syrup (optional). 
.. just out of the microwave!
Soak oats in water overnight. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl, add ground flax seeds, cocoa and half of the sliced banana and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave, allow to cool for a couple of minutes, mix well and top off with the rest of the sliced banana and strawberries. The banana cooked into the oats provided ample sugar for me, but if you like it sweeter, drizzle a tablespoon of pure maple syrup on top! Enjoy!! 

My Assessment: Compared to my usual breakfast of a spinach smoothie with Chia seeds, this breakfast was loaded with nutrition and substance too. I loved the chocolate mixed in with the flax seed meal. It also kept me full for quite a while more than the smoothie does. I've been meaning to move away from drinking my calories for a while and this seems like a great substitute, although I might decide back-off some on the flax seed meal because of its fat content. Its all good fats, but it does add to my caloric intake which I'm trying to limit these days. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 365 (Fat Calories 97)
Total Fat 10.8g; Cholesterol 0g; Carbohydrates 63.6g; Dietary Fiber 11.6g; Sugars 18.8g; Protein 10.0g

January 29, 2013

Feisty Fiesta Toss!

So T wanted tacos and he wanted quinoa for dinner tonight. I wanted something Mexican but wasn't sure I wanted to really eat the tortillas. I knew I wanted lots of veggies and I wanted to incorporate some greens in my dinner AND I wanted rice. A tall order? Naaah ... its not THAT difficult to make tacos, veggies, rice, quinoa and greens ... heck .. I decided to mix them all together :) 

Fiesta Toss-Up
This recipe is inspired by Happy Herbivore's Vegan Taco Salad

Prep Time: 20-25 min

Ingredients (Serves 6):
  1. 1 cup TVP crumbles (reconstituted) OR 1 cup Brown Lentils (Masoor Dal, steamed)
  2. 1 cup Brown Rice 
  3. 1 Pk Birds Eye - Steamfresh Mixed Vegetables - Corn, Peas, Carrots, Green Beans
  4. 1 x 15oz can of Black Beans
  5. 1 Medium Tomato, fresh, diced
  6. 2 cups of Baby Spinach, fresh
  7. 2 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  8. 2 tbsp Onion flakes
  9. 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  10. 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  11. Salt & Pepper to taste
  12. 2-4 tbsp Medium Salsa
Place TVP crumbles in a fine mesh hand-held strainer and run water over the it for a couple of minutes. This removes any TVP dust and also partially reconsititutes the TVP.  Place TVP in a skillet and add half a cup of water and all dry spices. Mix well and allow water to evaporate. Then add steamed brown rice and baby spinach and toss well. Allow the spinach to wilt. Meanwhile steam the pack of mixed vegetables in the microwave (about 5 minutes). Transfer contents of the skillet to a large bowl and add salsa, steamed vegetables, black beans and fresh diced tomatoes. Add a sprinkle of fresh cilantro leaves, if available. Toss everything together and serve warm, with freshly baked tortilla chips to scoop up the veggie loaded crumbles. For those who like tostadas, serve over corn tortillas after crisping them in the oven (flat cookie sheet, 10 min @350 F). Yum!

Fiesta Toss-Up Tostada
My Assessment: This was a great WARM way to enjoy lots of veggies and carbohydrates. If you're watching carbs (I'm not sure why anyone would!), enjoy just the toss-up without the tortillas. If you're in the mood for a burrito, wrap the toss-up into a large tortilla.  Of course, if you're in the mood for a salad, go right back to the original HH recipe !!! This was a hit even with my non-TVP eating husband!! He loved it and asked to take leftovers for lunch ... AGAIN!!! Score :)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving, with TVP): Calories 240 (Fat Calories 9)
Total Fat 1.0g; Cholesterol 0g; Carbohydrates 44.0g; Dietary Fiber 8.9g; Sugars 7.0g; Protein 15.5g

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving, with Lentils): Calories 224 (Fat Calories 10)
Total Fat 1.1g; Cholesterol 0g; Carbohydrates 45.8g; Dietary Fiber 8.8g; Sugars 5.6 g; Protein 10.5g

January 28, 2013

Chunky White Bean Chili

It wasn't particularly cold today. In fact, it was unseasonably warm today. But for some reason, on my drive home, I was craving chili. I didn't have all the ingredients on hand for my Quinoa Chili but I did have enough ingredients to think up a new recipe. I've been meaning to find a recipe for a White Bean Chili for a while and so today, I decided to cook something up with what I had at home ... and for a first attempt, it came out really good. Tony loved it enough that he wants to take leftovers for lunch :)

Chunky White Bean Chili
Prep Time: 20-25 min

Ingredients (4 Servings):
  1. 1 cup white Quinoa, rinsed and drained
  2. 2 x 15oz cans of Butter Beans, drained and rinsed
  3. 2 Russet Potatoes, diced
  4. 3 tbsp Dried Minced Onions (or a medium white onion, diced)
  5. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  6. 2 tbsp Dried Cilantro
  7. 6 cups of Water or Home-made Vegetable Broth
  8. 2 cubes Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable Bouillon 
  9. Salt & Pepper, to taste
Bring water or broth to boil in a deep pot. Add all ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 min until potatoes are tender and the Quinoa releases its germ rings. Taste test for salt/pepper. Serve simmering hot!! 

Non-Chunky :) White Bean Chili, with extra broth, if you like it soupy!
Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 440 (Fat Calories 36)
Total Fat 4.0 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 82.6 g; Dietary Fiber 12.8 g; Sugars 3.3 g; Protein 20.2 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary.

January 25, 2013

Lentil & Vegetable Khichdi

I've blogged about Khichdi (Kh-itch-dee) before. It is typically a very mildly flavored, and rather thick and soupy preparation of lentils and rice. Today I started out making a lentil soup with vegetables. I added brown rice to it ... and inadvertently over-cooked it and it ended up as a Khichdi. So here it is ... it wasn't my prettiest dish .. but it tasted pretty awesome! And look at the whopping amounts of dietary fiber and protein and carbohydrates in each serving. This is a nutritionally dense meal if  you ever saw one. 

Lentil & Vegetable Kitchdi
Prep Time: 15 min

Ingredients (6 Servings):
  1. 1 cup Masoor Dal (Red lentils, split and skinned)
  2. 1 cup Brown Rice
  3. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  4. 1 tbsp Goya Recaito Cilantro Cooking Base
  5. 1 x 15oz can of Hunts Fire-Roasted Garlic Diced Tomatoes
  6. 1 pk (12 oz) frozen baby Brussels Sprouts
  7. 1 pk (12 oz) frozen Okra
  8. 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  9. 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  10. 2 tsp Tamicon (or lemon/lime juice, to taste)
  11. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Add all ingredients (except tamicon) to a pressure cooker and add 5-6 cups of water, or home-made vegetable broth. Pressure cook under high pressure for 10 min. Release steam immediately, mix tamicon (tamarind concentrate) and serve steaming hot. If using a regular pot of the stove-top, you may need to adjust the water as it cooks, and it may take longer than 10 minutes (cook until rice is tender, the lentils will be done much quicker). I cooked mine for 15 minutes which was a bit much. As you can see from my picture above, my okra was pretty much disintegrated and my Brussels Sprouts were pretty mushy too! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 303 (Fat Calories 28)
Total Fat 3.1 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 56.3 g; Dietary Fiber 15.8 g; Sugars 4.0 g; Protein 14.5 g

January 24, 2013

King Kale Pilaf

I've been looking for some different kale recipes recently and today I decided to adapt one of the interesting ones I've found recently. Being Indian, and being the daughter of a Rice-loving North Indian man, I have  always considered a warm Basmati Pilaf, or Pulao as we Indians call it, to be the ultimate comfort food. Today's recipe uses close to 8 cups of chopped Kale, for 1 cup of White Rice. With that much kale, it deserves to be called King Kale Pilaf!

King Kale Pilaf!
Adapted from: Tasty Palettes - The Colour Purple

Prep Time: 20-30 min

Ingredients (4 Servings):
  1. 1 cup White Basmati rice
  2. 8 cups Kale (stems removed, leaves chopped fine)
  3. 1 Medium Red Onion, diced
  4. 1/2 cup Frozen Peas
  5. 1/2 cup Frozen Corn
  6. 1 tbsp Cumin seeds
  7. 2-3 pcs Cloves
  8. 2-3 pcs Green Cardamom
  9. 2-3 pcs Black Peppercorns
  10. 2-3 pcs Black Cardamom
  11. 2-3 pcs Bay Leaves
  12. 1 tsp Deggi Chili Powder
  13. 1-2 tsp Garam Masala
  14. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Boil rice in an ample amount of water, drain and set aside. Line a deep pot with water or home-made vegetable broth and add onions. Once onions become translucent, add whole spices and saute for a couple of minutes until the aromas are released. Sprinkle a little bit of salt, mix and add corn and peas. Mix well. Then add kale in small increments and fold the vegetables and spices into the kale until everything is well incorporated. Simmer until the kale reduces in volume (about 7-10 minutes). Once most of the water is evaporated, add rice, fold everything together and garnish with garam masala and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve warm. 

My Assessment: I really liked this dish. Sauteing the kale tenderizes it immensely. The whole  spices gave it a subtle flavor without the heat and I loved how much fiber I was consuming with each bite and it almost made up for the fact that I made this pilaf with white rice :)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 283 (Fat Calories 14)
Total Fat 1.5 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 60.8 g; Dietary Fiber 5.7 g; Sugars 3.6 g; Protein 9.8 g

January 22, 2013

Mama Sawhney's Garam Masala

A fellow herbie asked me to recommend a generic blend of spices for curry today. I thought for sure I had posted my mom's recipe for Garam Masala on my blog. When I started to look for it, I couldn't find it anywhere. So during our regular call this evening, I had her list out all the ingredients so I could share it with Shirley, as well as anyone else who might be interested.  

Curry is a generic and rather Western term used to define what is actually a huge variety of dishes with origins across South East Asia. Varieties of curry vary even within different states and regions of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Maldives, Fiji and even Seychelles.  A common feature of all curries is that they incorporate more or less the same few spices and herbs (both fresh and dry) and some curries also include red hot chili peppers. Recipes for curry vary within each household and depending also upon the dish. Some recipes call for whole spices, while others use only ground powders and still others may use a combination.  

Curry powder, is a commercially prepared mixture of spices, and is again a very Western notion, originating back to the 18th century. Spice merchants returning from the then British colony of India would bring mixtures to Great Britain. Similar to family recipes in India, there are literally tens of varieties of curry powder in stores .. Balti Curry, Badia Curry, Madras Curry, Maharaja Style Curry, Sate Curry, Rogan Josh Curry, Sweet Curry, Red Curry, Yellow Curry, Tandoori seasoning, Vindaloo Curry .. the variety is a little mind-boggling. Interestingly, most Indians don't use commercially prepared curry powders. Most of us simply use home-made Garam Masala, or a blend of different whole or ground spices depending upon the dish.  The best way to find your favorite blend of curry is to play with the recipe until you find a blend you love :)

Garam Masala - North Indian Curry Powder
In Northern India, Garam Masala is the most common form of curry. Literally translated, it means 'Warm Spice' and the root of that term rests in tranditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda). This blend of spices is supposed to have a warming effect on the body and should be consumed sparingly, especially when used as a blend of all the spices together. While the recipe is quite traditional, depending upon individual families and their palate, the recipe varies across all of Northern India. The recipe below is what my mom has prepared for as long as I can remember. At the end of this post, I've also provided a list of optional ingredients that can be included. My mom only uses the Magic 8 in her recipe. 

I buy all my whole spices at the local Indian grocery store. I almost always pick up the in-store generic whole spices and almost never, except in case of an emergency, buy Brand-name spices. Most Indian stores import whole spices in bulk and then package them into smaller generic packs here. Also, whole spices last forever when stored appropriately (cool, air-tight conditions). 

  1. Cumin Seeds (whole) 100g (3.5oz)
  2. Black Cardamom (whole) 100g  (3.5oz)
  3. Black Peppercorns (whole) 100g (3.5oz), or to taste.
  4. Cinnamon sticks 25-35g (~1oz)
  5. Cloves (whole) 25-35g (~1oz)
  6. Green Cardamom 25-35g (~1oz)
  7. Bay Leaves 4-6 Medium sized leaves (~0.5oz)
  8. Nutmeg (whole bulb) 2-3 pcs 
Make sure that spices are dry and free of damp. Roasting spices prior to grinding is not recommended as that strips them of essential oils and aroma. Traditionally, my mom would sun-dry the spices in a metal tray on a hot and sunny day. One afternoon was usually sufficient to get rid of any residual moisture in any of the spices. In the U.S. during the winter months, it is also sufficient to leave them on a tray on the kitchen counter, or on top of the fridge, for a couple of days when the furnace is on (unless of course you have humidifier on!). Then, simply grind the spices to a fine powder and store in an air-tight container. My mom still sends me a jar every time someone visits from India, or whenever I visit her and when stored in a well sealed container, it will retain its aroma and essential oils for well over a year. Enjoy!!  

Optional Ingredients (Add in addition to those noted above):
  1. Cilantro seeds (whole) 100g (3.5oz)
  2. Turmeric root (whole)  (~0.5oz)
  3. Mace 25-35g (~1oz)
  4. Star Anise 25-35g (~1oz)
  5. Dried Red Chilli Peppers (whole), or to taste.
  6. Mustard Seeds (whole) 25-35g (~1oz), for a Southern Indian flavor. 

January 19, 2013

Oven Roasted Russet Potatoes

I was in the mood to have a baked potato this afternoon. But I didn't really want to make it in the microwave because I've never liked the slightly chewy outer portions where the microwave sucks the life out of the potato (over dries it!). So I turned the oven on and once it was preheated, I scrubbed and washed my potatoes and discovered that we were out of Aluminum foil. So ... how am I supposed to bake a potato without foil? I honestly have no clue. Oh well .. change of plans. I decided to make oven-roasted potatoes instead. 

Oven Roasted Potatoes
Prep Time: 20-25 min

Ingredients (Serves 6):
  1. 3 Russet potatoes, cleaned and cut into 8 wedges each
  2. 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  3. 1 tbsp Goya Recaito Cilantro Cooking Base
  4. 1 tbsp dried minced Onions
  5. 2 tsp McCormick's Steak Seasoning
  6. 1 tsp Garlic powder
  7. Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Toss potato wedges and spices together in a large bowl. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth if needed to help the seasonings stick to the potatoes. Place wedges on a Silpat-lined baking sheet, skin side down and roast uncovered for 15-20 minutes until a pin inserted into the thickest part of the wedge glides in and out. Turn on broiler on Hi for 2-3 minutes to help brown the potato wedges. They're done when you see small browned up bubbles on the cut surfaces. Garnish with fresh cilantro, cracked black pepper and lemon/lime juice. Yum!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 83
Total Fat 0.2 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 18.2 g; Fiber 2.7 g; Sugars 1.5 g; Protein 2.0 g

Chocolate Raisin & Walnut Bread

Another weekend, another bread-making attempt ... I wish I could do this more often. Last week's attempt was actually quite good, with the exception of being a little too sweet. We ate about half of it on the same day and then I put the rest in the fridge. Unfortunately, when I took it out next, it was too dry and chewy to be eaten as bread. So I made my East-Indian Stuffing ... in January :) !!! It was pretty delish and half a loaf made me 4 good sized servings which I enjoyed for lunch this week. So here's today's attempt. Its in the machine now and is expected to be done in about 3 hours. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes + ~3.25 hours in a bread machine

Ingredients: (8 servings/slices)*:
  1. 1 cup Water
  2. 6 tbsp Apple Sauce (1 Mots Naturals Snack cup)
  3. 2.5 cups All Purpose Flour
  4. 0.5 cup Whole Wheat Flour (Atta)
  5. 3 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  6. 1.5 tsp Sea Salt
  7. 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  8. 2.5 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  9. 1/4 cup Raisins
  10. 1/4 cup Pecans
  11. 1/4 cup Ghirardelli Non-Dairy Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Place all ingredients in the order they are listed into the baking pan of your bread machine, with the exception of the Raisins, Pecans and Chocolate chips. Most bread machines want you to put in liquid ingredients first, followed by dry ingredients and the require that the yeast be added at the very top, in a little hollow made into the dry flour. Make sure that any salt is not in contact with the active yeast. 

Start the machine using the menu selection for Basic White bread. Set the crust to medium or light. Start the cycle and when the machine beeps at the 'add ingredient' stage (just before the last 5-10 minutes of kneading), add the last 3 ingredients. Allow the baking cycle to complete, remove the bread from the pan onto a baking rack and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes before slicing/cutting into the loaf.

Chocolate Raisin & Walnut Bread
My Assessment: Adding a half a cup of whole wheat flour made it a tad denser than the 100% white bread I made last week. The recipe initially called for 2 tbsp of oil. Initially, when I substituted 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, I added 4 tbsp of applesauce, instead of just 2. When the dough was initially formed, it looked just a tad too tight to me so I added 2 tbsp more. That was probably a good idea. I got very good rise and some nice air pockets. The bread was light, but not fluffy. I wonder if it can even be fluffy when I've added raisins and nuts and chocolate chips. This recipe tasted a lot like the Pepperidge Farm Raisin Cinnamon Swirl. Yummy! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 240
Total Fat 3.5 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 46.9 g; Fiber 2.4 g; Sugars 8.8 g; Protein 5.9 g

* I seem to have trouble slicing bread very thin. Especially fresh bread is even harder to slice in my opinion. The best I've ever gotten out of my bread machine is 8 slices. If you can slice thinner ... more power to you :)

January 16, 2013

Soup of Baby Kales w Potatoes & Chickpeas

Little did I know, when I started this journey 13 months ago that I would grow to love the heartiness of kale. I was never a fan of tough greens and to be perfectly honest, I am still not a fan of raw kale. There are recipes for massaged kale which apparently allow it to lose some of its toughness, but I've never tried making those ... mostly because I'm lazy and also because I'm perfectly happy eating baby spinach in my salad - seven days a week. This soup, comes together in 20-30 minutes, in one-pot, and is loaded with more than 2 pound of greens. I added Seitan and Chick Peas for protein and a potato for starch. 

Soup of Baby Kales w Potatoes and Chickpeas
Prep Time: 20-30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4): 

  1. 1 lb Baby Kale (whole)
  2. 4 Heads of Baby Bok Choy (~1.1 to 1.2 lbs), sliced
  3. 1 x 15oz can of Hunts Fire-Roasted Garlic Diced Tomatoes
  4. 1 Russet Potato, diced into small pieces
  5. 8 Dry Sun-dried Tomatoes (I buy the Whole foods 365 brand), sliced/diced.
  6. 8 oz Cubed Seitan
  7. 1 tbsp minced garlic
  8. 1 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  9. 1 tsp Cumin
  10. 3 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or Low-Sodium Soy Sauce) 
  11. 3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  12. 6-8 cups of Water, or home-made (no-added-salt) Vegetable Broth
  13. Pepper, to taste. 
Line a deep pot with water or vegetable broth and add garlic and seasonings. Once the garlic releases its aroma, add remaining ingredients (except nutritional yeast), bring to a boil and simmer until greens are wilted and potatoes are tender. Mine took about 27 minutes because I added the potatoes last. I only used liquid aminos because I'm trying to finish up my trial bottle. In my opinion, it is very salty. I prefer low-sodium soy sauce. Neither adds any substantial calories so nutritional content remains the same. Sodium content does vary. Once the potatoes are tender, add nutritional yeast and boil for a minute or two. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper. 

My Assessment: I love this soup because it is a very nutrient dense meal, for being only 300 calories. Each serving provides a whopping amount of food, 11 g of fiber and almost 28 g of proteins. The addition of the tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes together gave the broth a slight 'sweet & sour' flavor which worked perfectly with the kale. Great for leftovers too. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 291
Total Fat 3.3 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 44.3 g; Fiber 11.1 g; Sugars 13.1 g; Protein 27.7 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary tremendously.

January 13, 2013

Quinoa Upma

Upma is a South Indian Breakfast dish that is immensely popular also in the Northern parts of the country. It was also one of my Dad's favorite snacks, and my mom would make it at tea time. It is traditionally made from roasted refined semolina. Depending upon regional preferences, it may be made as a thick porridge or as a dry crumbly dish. In either case, spices and a lot of veggies are added to make it wholesome and nutritious. Some regional variations include vermicelli, pearl sago (similar to tapioca) and whole-wheat semolina. Nuts (peanuts, cashews) and coconut are often added as garnishes. 

Quinoa Upma
Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 1/2 cup Quinoa, rinsed and drained
  2. 1/3 cup Corn
  3. 1/3 cup Peas
  4. 1 Roma Tomato 
  5. 2 tbsp Minced Onions
  6. 1 tsp Garlic powder
  7. 1 tsp Cumin powder
  8. 1 tsp Mustard seeds (whole)
  9. 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  10. 1/2 tsp Deggi Chili Powder
  11. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  12. 1/2 tsp Roasted Cumin powder (optional)
  13. 1-2 Green Chili peppers, sliced lenghwise (optional)
  14. 1 tsp Cilantro leaves (fresh or dried)
  15. 2 tbsp Peanuts/Cashews (optional)
  16. Water or Vegetable Broth, as needed
In a small sauce pan, add 1 cup of water to quinoa and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a slow simmer until quinoa is done, and then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, line a skillet with water or home-made vegetable broth and add minced onions, garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric and deggi chili powder. Mix well and allow to simmer for a minute or so. Add peas and corn and mix well. Allow to simmer, uncovered, until the spices are well incorporated and any extra water is evaporated. If using nuts, add them at the same time as the peas and corn. If you like carrots, you can slice some in at this stage as well. I didn't have any at home today. They make a really pretty picture when added in :) !!! Taste test the veggies at this time and add any additional spices, to your taste. Add drained quinoa and mix well, adding a splash of water or broth, as needed, to prevent sticking and burning. Once well mixed, add cilantro leaves and a sprinkle of roasted cumin powder, if you have any. All it does is add a wonderful aroma and cuminy flavor. Serve warm with or without hot sauce, or green chili peppers. I served it without any hot sauce as it tasted perfect without the added heat. I used a plump read chili pepper as a garnish for my pics :)

Quinoa Upma ... umm umm good!
Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 234
Total Fat 3.8 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 42.8 g; Fiber 6.8 g; Sugars 5.6 g; Protein 9.8 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary tremendously.

January 12, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Soup

Sitting at home on a lazy Saturday afternoon, with no plans for the day, I felt the need for a hearty wholesome soup. I had New Veggie #66 - A Green Cauliflower - sitting in the fridge for the last few days and while I knew I wanted to roast it, I knew I wanted to do something more! 

Roasted Cauliflower & Black Bean Soup
Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (6 servings):
  1. 2 x 15 oz cans of Black Beans (~3 cups, drained and well rinsed)
  2. 1 head of Green Cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets (~2 cups)
  3. 2 Portabella Mushroom caps, diced
  4. 1 Medium White Onion, diced
  5. 2 tbsp Garlic, minced
  6. 8 cups of home-made no-added-salt Vegetable Broth, or water
  7. 1 tbsp Miso
  8. 1 tbsp 'Better than Bouillon' Mushroom Base
  9. 1/2 tsp fresh Rosemary, diced finely
  10. 2-3 tbsp fresh Cilantro, diced finely
  11. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  12. Lemon/Lime Juice, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or Pam and spread cauliflower florets in a single layer. Place in oven and turn the broiler on Hi. Monitor the progress of the cauliflower as your prepare the rest of the soup. Turn florets over after about 5-7 minutes, and if needed, turn the broiler down to Lo. Roast until the florets are tender (not mushy) and aromatic, and a hint of brown at the tips. Mine took about 8 min on Hi, and 10 min of Lo before the aroma and look was just right. 

Roasted Cauliflower & Black Bean Soup
While the cauliflower is roasting, line a deep pot with water or broth and add garlic and onions. Once the garlic begins to release its aroma add the black beans, and mushroom base and the remaining broth (yes, it will look very soupy at this time) and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to allow a simmer and add rosemary, cilantro and diced Portabella mushrooms. Simmer for 15 min. Once the cauliflower is done roasting, remove the sheet from the oven and allow to sit for a couple of minutes (which allows the outside of each piece to dry up some, which prevents them from disintegrating in  the soup). Then add each floret, piece by piece, to the soup and once all the pieces are added, give the whole thing a gentle stir. Turn off heat, dissolve miso in a few tablespoons of water and add to the soup. Mix again gently and then cover and let sit for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld before serving with freshly cracked black-pepper and/or a few drops of lemon juice, with warm bread. 

My Assessment: My DH had 2 bowls. He preferred it without the lemon juice. I liked mine better with a few added drops of lemon juice. Both of us ate it with some of last night's bread. Li'l Nik didn't want nothing to do with the soup :) ... we loved it!!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 161
Total Fat 0.9 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 34.5 g; Fiber 8.9 g; Sugars 3.4 g; Protein 10.4 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary tremendously.

Veggie Fact of the Day

New Veggie #66
Green Cauliflower is one of 4 different colors of Cauliflower that can be found in grocery stores across the US. It is a hybrid, made my cross-pollination of Broccoli with white cauliflower. So, in essence, it is a GMO crop .. just as every naturally cross-pollinated cultivar of edible fruits and vegetables. It was first developed in the Salinas Valley, right here in the US, by hand cross-pollination and first brought to the market in 1988 under the trademarked name Broccoflower. There are 2 forms of green cauliflower, both referred to as Broccoflower - one that looks just like its white cousin, just green in color and another rather interesting looking variety that has a spiky appearance. The internal color, when cut, resembles Broccoli for both varieties. Green cauliflower, like its cousins, is highly nutritious. One cup provides only 20 calories, nearly 2 g of protein, 4 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of fiber and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Green cauliflower is higher in protein, at 2.95%, than either white cauliflower, 1.92%, or broccoli, 2.82%.

Green cauliflower looks a lot like its white, orange or purple cousins. The plant is made up of tightly packed clusters of lime green florets, known as the "curd", that form from a single stalk, which produces green leaves that hug the base of the curd. Various sources on the internet indicate that the green version is sweeter, milder and nuttier, than the white cauliflower - I didn't detect any differences.

January 11, 2013

In Search of the Perfect Loaf #2

So last weekend, I started up my brand-spanking new Bread Machine and after 2 attempts at making Multi-Grain bread ... I was left with 2 half-loaves of dense bread that no one would touch about 30 min after the loaf had been cut into. Both loaves tasted great while still warm ... but they turned out to be bricks when allowed to cool. So this entire work week, as and when I got the chance, I researched recipes and techniques for multi-grain bread. One of the cool websites I found - The Fresh Loaf -has lots of interesting tips and recipes and even a primer for the novice bread-maker. One of the interesting things I read this past week, is that even supposedly whole-grain breads actually are "cheater" breads in that they are made predominantly with white flour with a portion of whole-grain flour mixed in. So that's why my loafs were like bricks. I can't find the website where I read this ... but I know I did. 

Also, this week, I saw a McDougall Moment video about the use of white rice vs brown rice. And one of the things Dr. McDougall says in this video is ... white rice is OKAY!! ... brown rice is better, but white rice, white pasta and white bread, are not deal breakers. So I decided to make an about face - no I'm not switching to white bread completely. But, I'm going to first find the perfect white loaf ... and then, I'm going to tweak it with whole grain flour, seeds and nuts and whole grains where possible to make it as nutritious as possible. Sound like a plan?? Here's the first recipe I'm trying today. I found it online Its intended for bread machines and uses 1/2 a cup of Oatmeal and 1/2 a cup of sunflower seeds and white all-purpose flour. So, its not all bad!! :)

Oatmeal Sunflower Seed Bread
Adapted from the Betty Crocker website:  Bread Machine Oatmeal-Sunflower Bread

Prep Time: 10 + ~3.5 hours in a bread machine

Ingredients: (8 servings/slices):
  1. 1cup water
  2. 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  3. 2 tbsp Apple sauce
  4. 3 cups All-purpose White Flour
  5. 1/2 cup Oats (quick-cooking or old-fashioned)
  6. 1.25 tsp salt
  7. 2.25 tsp Active Dry Yeast 
  8. 1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
The Perfect Loaf?
Place all ingredients in the order they are listed into the baking pan of your bread machine, with the exception of the Sunflower Seeds. Start the machine using the menu selection for Basic white bread. Set the crust to medium or light. According to the original recipe - do not the delay cycle (I'm not experienced enough to know why!). Start the cycle and when the machine beeps at the 'add ingredient' stage (just before the last 5-10 minutes of kneading), add the sunflower seeds.  Allow the baking cycle to complete, remove the bread from the pan onto a baking rack and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes before slicing/cutting into the loaf.

My Assessment: First off, I liked adding the nuts at the end of the kneading cycle. The last 2 times, the poor sunflower seeds I added were beaten to a pulp by the time the bread was done. This time I could see the whole seeds in the dough and also on the crust. Secondly, we had air ... yes, the dough actually rose and we had air pockets in the middle and the bread was soft and spongy. Lastly, it wasn't perfect. It was a great recipe and the bread came out real good - but tasted a bit sweet. I think I may need to cut back on the maple syrup. The sunflower seeds added a good amount of chewiness to the bread. And guess what? It was not a brick!!! :)

See the air in that baby?
Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 237
Total Fat 2.3 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 47 g; Fiber 2.3 g; Sugars 6.3 g; Protein 6.5 g

January 8, 2013

Cumin-Spiced Potatoes

Jeera Aloo
This afternoon at lunch, as I was  browsing the New Herbies page on Facebook, I came across pictures and a video recipe for Jeera Aloo. Simply translated, it is a dish consisting of Cumin-Spiced potatoes. I was reminded of lazy afternoons when Mom would make Jeera Aloo for lunch, and hence decided to make my own version tonight!! 

The posted pictures looked amazing and I'm sure it tasted great as well.  However, and yes, there is always a however ... when I looked at the video - two things jumped out at me (a) the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of oil and (b) it used at least 10 different spices and condiments (if not more). In my opinion, when oil or butter are added to potatoes - they seem to absorb it all and only begin to look/feel/taste greasy when the starch is completely saturated (e.g. deep-fried french fries feel greasy on the tongue but a baked potato, even with a gob of butter often seems dry) - so in my opinion, the 2 tablespoons of oil (in 4 cups of diced potatoes) would just disappear and make the dish appear healthy. Here's the bad part - if one used 2 tbsp of olive oil, there would be 28 g of pure fat, and 280 calories hiding in this dish.  Secondly, Jeera Aloo is supposed to be a simple quick fix meal back home in India. Typically, it is eaten with fresh chapatis and the beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity. I didn't think it needs to be complicated with so many flavors.  

Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (6 Servings): 
  1. 4 Russet Potatoes (steamed and peeled)*
  2. 1 Medium White Onion
  3. 3 tsp Cumin Seeds
  4. 1.5 cup Vegetable Broth
  5. 1 tsp Deggi Chili Powder
  6. 1 tsp Salt
  7. 1/8 cup fresh Coriander Leaves
* If you want to leave the skins on, use red potatoes instead and cook in the broth, instead of presteaming the potatoes. I chose to remove the potato skins because that is how I grew up eating it.

Scrub 4 potatoes with a vegetable brush and while still soaking wet, put all 4 in a grocery bag and place in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Once done, test the potatoes with a pastry pin or knife for doneness. If needed, microwave for another 5 minutes and the potatoes should be really well steamed. This is  a trick I learnt a few years ago from my sister-in-law Arti - of the Aloo Paratha fame!! The grocery bag helps maintain the moisture in the potatoes while they are getting steamed.  Once done, transfer potatoes to a colander or a bowl and the skin should peel off really quickly off the potatoes. 

Aloo Jeera
While the potatoes are being steamed in the microwave, line a skillet with vegetable broth and add cumin and deggi chili powder. As they both release their aroma, add diced onion and mix well. Add salt, which will allow the onions to wilt and then reduce heat to medium low to allow the onions to cook down. Once potatoes are done, peel and dice each one into bite-sized pieces. Steamed potatoes tend to become crumbly, so don't worry if your pieces don't look perfect, the crumbles, mix-in with the cumin and onions and that is what adds to the flavor to this dish. Toss everything together, adding splashes of vegetable broth if the potatoes begin to look dry. You want the potatoes to be moist, but not runny. I ended up using about 1.5 cups of broth today but I've used a little more or less in the past. Cover, turn heat to medium-low and let sit for a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to blend and merge. After 5 minutes or so, uncover, toss well and add finely tossed cilantro leaves and give it another toss. Do a quick taste test for salt and add more, as needed. Garnish with a sprinkle of deggi chili powder and a sprig of Cilantro. 

Steamed Broccoli & Jeera Aloo
My Assessment: Both my DH and I loved over dinner tonight!! We had a huge plates of steamed Broccoli with Jeera Aloo. Amazing!!! :)  

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 119
Total Fat 0.7 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 24.7 g; Fiber 3.8 g; Sugars 2.6 g; Protein 4.0 g

Herb & Spice Fact of the Day

Deggi Mirch or Kashmiri mirch is an Indian spice made by blending roasted dried red bell peppers and Kashmiri red chilies. 

It has a mild heat and a deep red-orange color. It is often used for its color more than its heat as it impart a deep red color when cooked. It northern India, it is liberally added to curries, dals, kebabs, soups and stews. It has a rich bold (almost smoky) flavor with a heat index of 1500-2000 Scoville units. In comparison, Cayenne peppers are around 50,000 SHU. 

Deggi chilis are a great way to add the color and flavors of chili peppers, without the heat.

January 6, 2013

Multi-Grain (Machine) Bread - Take 2

Homemade Multi-Grain Bread - Take 2
So my first attempt at using my bread machine turned out pretty good. It wasn't great 'to die for' bread but it had a lot going for it. It had 3 different whole grains, it had a nice and crunchy crust, and was soft inside. The downside - it had 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance (a vegan butter replacement) and it was pretty dense - almost the consistency of a dense banana bread. So this morning, I decided to make a few changes that would help reduce the density and replace the fat with a more healthy alternative. 

Prep Time: 10 min + ~4 hours in a bread machine
Ingredients (8 servings/slices): 
  1. 1 cup almond milk
  2. 2/3 cup water
  3. 2 tbsp Natural (No Sugar) Apple Sauce (replaces Earth Balance)
  4. 2 tbsp Agave syrup (I removed this because I figured Apple Sauce would add some sweetness)
  5. 2 tsp Salt (I removed this because I added Roasted Salted Sunflower Seeds)
  6. 3 cups Whole Wheat flour 
  7. 3/4 cup All Purpose flour
  8. 1/4 cup Ground Flax Seed Meal (replaced 3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats) 
  9. 1/4 cup Roasted Salted Sunflower Seeds (replaced 3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats)
  10. 2 tbsp Chia Seeds (I doubled this from Take 1, as I added less than 3/4 cup seeds) 
  11. 2.25 tsp Active Dry Yeast
Place all ingredients in the order they are listed into the baking pan of your bread machine.  I used the menu selection on my machine for whole wheat bread. 

Allow the baking cycle to complete, remove the bread from the pan onto a baking rack and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes. Let the awesome yeasty aroma penetrate the senses of every living being :) !! Once they're all begging for you to cut some slices ... slice away!! 

My Assessment: Its still not there yet! Even though Joules, the old dog is begging for a slice (and she got a little piece!) it was still too dense in my opinion. So its back to the drawing board for me. Also, next time I will add back the agave as replacing both the salt and the sweet with only roasted seeds and 2 tablespoons of applesauce made it rather bland. This was definitely a better version than yesterday's attempt.  

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 198
Total Fat 10/9 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 22 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 1.3 g; Protein 5.8 g

Multi-Grain (Machine) Bread

In this past year of being plant-based, I've often read and wondered about the multiple ingredients and preservatives in store-bought bread. Lindsay Nixon (Happy Herbivore) did a blog post last March about how to look for vegan breads. She posted a iPhone pic of a bread label that she took one day while grocery shopping. The ingredient listing was almost 5 inches long. Now that is a tad insane, isn't it?

Home-made Whole Grain Bread
Anyhow, all last year I mused about getting a bread machine so we could have our own home made bread. Surprise, Surprise ... Santa, disguised as my DH of course, brought me a Black & Decker BK1015W Bread Machine. Yup! That's me all smiles on Christmas morning :) !!!

The only bread we ate growing up was either store-bought white bread, or it was whole-wheat (unleavened) Indian flat-bread (chapati). My mom always made the dough at home, by hand, and we were taught to help out as we got older. Kneading the dough was a rather tedious job. I am sure anyone who has ever made home-made bread of any kind can attest to that. So, I didn't make chapatis at home until very recently and even then I used my Cuisinart with its dough hook attachment.  So when I got a kneading bread machine ... I was admittedly quite excited. Then ... came the realization that I can no longer just made dinner in 30 min or less after work. If I wanted to have fresh bread with dinner, I needed to plan ahead. So my bread machine has been sitting in its box for almost 2 weeks. Finally, this evening, again rather late to be able to eat it today .. I opened the box and washed out the removable parts with the intent of making a loaf tomorrow. But, I couldn't wait and decided to do a test run tonight! :) If it works, I have a plan for Monday night .... !! 

I adapted a recipe I found online on Guilty Kitchen. Since this is my first attempt and because I am relatively new to 'yeast' breads - I followed the recipe almost to the tee, with one slight change. I called it multi-grain, instead of whole wheat, because I used all, in addition to whole wheat flour - Oats (which the original recipe allows for) and Chia seeds (my addition). 

Prep Time: 10 min + ~4 hours in a bread machine

Ingredients (8 servings/slices): 
  1. 1 cup almond milk
  2. 2/3 cup water
  3. 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  4. 2 tbsp Agave syrup
  5. 2 tsp Salt
  6. 3.75 cups Whole Wheat flour 
  7. 3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats 
  8. 3 tsp Chia Seeds (not in original recipe) 
  9. 2.25 tsp Active Dry Yeast
Place all ingredients in the order they are listed into the baking pan of your bread machine. This is important because bread machines allow the ingredients to sit for a while before the program initiates. Always add the liquid ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients and always add the active yeast at the very end - make a little well in the center of the flour and place yeast there. Make sure that the yeast does not immediately come in contact with salt, or water (this is especially important when using the delay-bake function).  
The dough, before rising!
Use the menu selection on your machine for whole wheat bread. Mine had a setting for 3 hours and 53 minutes. I got quite the scare today when the bread machine sat for a good 30 minutes before it showed any signs of life (it just sat there .. giving out the occasional click). Apparently, it was making sure that all the ingredients were at the ideal temperature for the yeast before it even starts kneading the dough. It made a pretty smooth ball of dough after it was done kneading.

The dough, halfway through rising .. very spongy!!
Then, it allowed the bread to rise for another 90 minutes before the bake cycle began. The instruction manual asks you not to open the lid once the kneading cycle is done, but curiosity got the better of me. I could not just sit there and smell the delicious aroma without looking. I did let the program run its course however. The house smelled amazing during and even after the baking period. Once done, remove the bread from the machine when done and allow to cool on a baking rack for 15-20 minutes. Slice away ... !

The loaf, after it was done & resting!
My Assessment: For a first attempt, this bread came out pretty good. The crust was nice and crunchy and the inside of the bread was soft and warm. It had the wonderful aroma of fresh baked bread. The body of it was a little denser I would have wanted it to be - which might be a function of the brand of whole wheat dough that I used versus the original recipe. I might try to mix a little bit of all purpose flour to tone down the density of the whole wheat flour next time. I really liked the bits of  Oats and Chia seeds which gave it the bread a little more substance. This recipe also uses 2 tbsp of Earth Balance (a vegan butter) .. so I need to modify my next attempt to replace that as well. The loaf slid out of the pan in one smooth swoop. The crust could have been darker, but I set it to medium. Overall, I think the bread machine was a hit! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 222
Total Fat 11.5 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 27 g; Fiber 4.6 g; Sugars 1.4 g; Protein 5.1 g

January 4, 2013

Seitan & Broccoli Korma

I posted a recipe for TVP Korma a few months ago. Today, the cold temperatures outside again made me yearn for the richness of a korma. I've been wanting to make it for the last couple of days and decided that a Friday night definitely called for a little extra effort for dinner. I modified my previous recipe just a tad today and used several whole spices (instead of powdered Garam Masala) and used a special ingredient :) - which made it pretty close to the authentic version found in Dhabas across India - i.e. a mom & pop style restaurant, which  are generally found along highways and interstates and usually serve home-made local cuisine; they often also serve as truck stops, so are best visited with locals, or at least someone who speaks the local language. 

Seitan & Broccoli Korma
Wikipedia describes a Korma as a South/Central Asian dish that can be made with yogurt, cream, nut and seed pastes or coconut milk; it is usually considered a type of stew. The korma I grew up eating in India was almost always made with a rich paste made with minced onions and tomatoes and heavy cream. Korma is a key dish in Mughlai cuisine which has strong cultural roots in India and Pakistan. Its flavors are based on mixing a variety of (very typical) Indian spices - ground cumin, coriander, onions, ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper corns and cardamom. The traditional Shahi (Royal) Korma is often simmered for hours on a charcoal fire which gives it a nice smoky flavor.  

I also use Seitan (New Veggie #36which is essentially gluten - the main protein in wheat. Its an ideal chewy addition to this plant-based version of Korma. Commercially available seitan is light to dark brown in color (it is much lighter in color when made at home using vital wheat gluten). Like Tofu, it easily absorbs whatever flavors and seasonings are added to it, much like tofu. It is nearly fat free, and has 0 saturated fats and cholesterol. Because the starches have been washed away, it is also low in carbs but remains high in protein.

Prep Time: 30-40 min

Ingredients (4 servings):
  1. 8 oz Seitan strips 
  2. 1 or 2 large heads of Broccoli
  3. 1 medium to large Red Onion, minced
  4. 4-6 tbsp Hunt's Crushed Tomatoes 
  5. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  6. 1/4 cup Raw Cashews
  7. 2-3 cups Water, or Vegetable Broth
  8. 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  9. 2 tsp Cumin powder
  10. 2 tsp Coriander seed powder
  11. 1 tsp Red Chili powder
  12. 2-3 pieces of each Whole Spice 
    • Cloves 
    • Green Cardamom
    • Black Cardamom
    • Black Peppercorns, 
    • Cinnamon stick
    • Bay leaves
  13. Special Ingredient - 2-4 drops of Liquid Smoke
  14. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  15. Fresh or Dried Cilantro  
Line a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat with water and add minced onions (I used a food processor to mince really fine) and caramelize using splashes of water or vegetable broth (see previous recipe for details on how to caramelize). Once onions are done, add the tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste, and caramelize. Cook until the tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and tomatoes are cooked down to make a thick red paste. At this point add all the spices and salt, mix well and add a splash of broth.  As the whole spices release their aromas, add Seitan and a cup of vegetable broth, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Pulse the raw cashews in a coffee grinder until they are ground to a granular powder. Add cashews to the simmering mix, adding more broth as needed and simmer for a minute or two and then add liquid smoke and broccoli. Cover and simmer for another 7-10 minutes until broccoli pieces turn bright green in color (at this point, the broccoli is just steamed, still retains its crunch and hasn't become mushy). Garnish with fresh or dried Cilantro, freshly cracked black pepper. I served it over steamed brown rice. 

Smoky Seitan Korma
My Assessment: I liked this version of my Korma recipe a lot more than the previous version. The inclusion of liquid smoke and the whole spices gave it a more authentic flavor, without the heat of some of those spices (e.g. black pepper corns). 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 213
Total Fat 9 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 14 g; Fiber 2.7 g; Sugars 2.7 g; Protein 17.9 g

January 3, 2013

Kale Migas

Migas (pronounced 'miyas') or quite literally "Crumbs" is a very Tex-Mex dish that is very popular across the state of Texas. While I've never made it at home since moving to Ohio, it was one of my favorite dishes during my years in Austin, TX (Kerbey Lane Cafe has the best in the whole city, and they have a vegan  tofu scramble version too!!). After going plant based, I came across the Engine 2 recipe - but just never got around to making it. I don't think I've ever known anyone who liked Tex-Mex cuisine to not like Migas. 

Traditionally, migas were a way of using stale tortillas. It is a breakfast dish consisting of scrambled eggs mixed with strips of corn tortillas; the moisture from the eggs and other condiments softens the stale tortillas and adds the carbs to this breakfast dish. The meatless version includes (along with eggs) diced onions, sliced chile peppers, diced fresh tomatoes, and cheese, plus various spices and condiments (salsa or Pico de gallo). The meaty version often includes a spicy Chorizo along with all the other ingredients. In the restaurant version of migas, the corn tortillas are often deep fried and then cut into strips. My version, of course, is much healthier - I used toasted tortillas, added no butter, and used all plant-based ingredients. 

Kale Migas
I recently came across a plant-based recipe for migas again in Happy Herbivore Abroad - the new cookbook by Lindsay Nixon that was released last month. All day today, and on my drive home from work, I was dreaming of a plate full of migas. When I got home, I was all set to make my dinner when I realized that I didn't have any scallions (because I used them all yesterday) and I had a huge bunch of kale that needed to be used today. Now I'm not one to let a good bunch of greens go to waste, so I compromised ... and oh what a lovely compromise it turned out to be!! 

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings): 
  1. 1 batch of HH Tofu Scramble
  2. 1 medium Tomato, diced
  3. 1 Bunch Kale, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
  4. 4 Corn Tortillas, cut into 1 cm strips, about 3 inches long
  5. 1 tbsp Goya Recaito Cilantro Cooking Base (optional)
  6. Salsa, to taste
  7. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Line a large stock pot with water, bring to a boil and add rinsed kale to the pan. Cover and let the steam from the water wilt the kale. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place tortilla strips on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast until crisp. Transfer to a cold plate and set aside. In a skillet make the HH Tofu scramble recipe according to the recipe directions. Once ready, add the cilantro cooking base and kale and mix well. Allow all the water to evaporate. Then add tomatoes, give it a quick toss and then add the toasted tortillas and give another toss. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with fresh salsa or pico de gallo and serve warm.  

HH Tofu Scramble & Kale Migas
My Assessment: I love to eat, and I love my cooking (LOL!). But seriously, the addition of kale to the basic tofu scramble dish added a crunch to the scramble and the inclusion of tomatoes and salsa added just the right amount of acidity to make the kale yummy. My only disappointment today was that I had only 1 lb of tofu at home, so I could only make a single batch of HH Tofu Scramble. The dish tasted amazing, but my ratio of Kale to Scramble was off just a tad.  I am still so excited for lunch tomorrow ... leftovers :)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 175
Total Fat 3.8 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 23.2 g; Fiber 5.1 g; Sugars 2.8 g; Protein 15.2 g