March 31, 2013

Raisin Bread w Cinnamon

For Easter dinner tonight, I decided to make a loaf of home-made bread. Since my last several attempts at making whole wheat bread have ended in a rather miserable loaf ;) I've reverted to All-Purpose Flour (at least when the intention is to feed my omnivore family!) and I've gone back to one of the recipes I've tried previously (see here). 

Raisin Bread w a hint of Cinnamon
Prep Time: 10 min + 3.5 hours in the Bread Machine

Ingredients (Serves 12):
  1. 1.25 cups Water
  2. 0.25 cup Maple Syrup
  3. 3.5 cups All Purpose Flour
  4. 1 tsp Cinnamon
  5. 1.5 tsp Sea Salt
  6. 2.5 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  7. 0.25 cup Raisins (@ "add ingredient" stage, optional)
Place all ingredients in the order they are listed into the baking pan of your bread machine, with the exception of the raisins. 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 raisins. 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: My first loaf that was a complete hit and consumed 100%!!! Instead of cutting slices, I cut it into 2 halves straight down the middle and then cut each half into 6 wedges. Worked well as everybody got some part of the crust and everybody got some part of the soft middle. This recipe, was a hit for sure! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 162 (Fat Calories 4)
Total Fat 0.4 g; Carbohydrates 35.1 g; Fiber 1.4 g; Sugars 5.8 g; Protein 4.2 g

March 30, 2013

Tomato & Kale Miso Soup

Those of you who follow my blog regularly probably know already that I've been under the weather the past few days (Sinus infections suck!).  I started the day out so-so but felt significantly better as the day went by. My throat was still sore so I decided to make a rather simple Miso Soup for dinner tonight. I've made it before (see Cremini Miso Soup) and this one is a slight variation on that recipe.  To be quite honest, every miso soup recipe is a slight variation of the last recipe you used. It's just that good :)

Tomato & Baby Kale Miso Soup
Prep Time: 15 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 2 large Tomatoes, diced
  2. 6 White Mushrooms, sliced thinly
  3. 4 cups Baby Kale (~6 oz)
  4. 6 cups Water or home-made vegetable broth
  5. 4 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  6. 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  7. 1 tbsp White or Yellow Miso
  8. Salt (probably won't need any), to taste
  9. Black Pepper, freshly cracked, to taste
In a large stock pot, bring tomatoes, broth, mushrooms and kale to a rolling boil. Add soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Turn off heat and mix everything well together. Allow the soupy broth to cool for a couple of minutes and then add miso and stir in really well to dissolve. Let sit for another minute or so and then mix in again to dissolve miso. Taste test for salt (with the miso and soy sauce you probably won't need to add any). Garnish with lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy with freshly baked bread or crackers. 

Miso Soup
My Assessment: Perfect brothy peppery soup for a sore throat! Did you know that Miso is a nutritional powerhouse? During the aging process, basic nutrients in soybeans (or barley, or brown rice) are broken down into their simpler forms. It is packed with amino acids and vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and protein. It includes all the essential amino acids and is often considered a source of complete protein. Miso also facilitates the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium. Along with miso, the tomatoes gave it an extra tartness which worked well with the baby kale! And Tony, who swears that he hates kale, lapped up his large serving :) with gusto!!! (wink! I didn't tell him he was consuming kale!)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 107 (Fat Calories 8)
Total Fat 0.9 g; Carbohydrates 20.0 g; Fiber 4.3 g; Sugars 7.0 g; Protein 7.7 g

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

Chocolate Bread Pudding

So after Tony had a sinus infection last week, he lovingly passed it onto me :)!! Not a pleasant experience especially since I was hit much harder than he was and after 3 days of OTC medicines had to go in to see the doctor and get the big guns!!! Last night was the worst ... head ache, plugged up, sore scratchy throat and a lot of coughing, fever .. the works!! So as I'm laying in bed with my achy throat, I was craving something soft and gooey (oh no!). So I decided to try this bread pudding, which came together in 5 minutes and was warm and gooey after 30 min at 375 F. 

Chocolate Bread Pudding
Prep Time: Less than 5 min and 30 min in the oven

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 3 slices of 100% whole wheat bread (I used Brownberry Double Fiber Bread)
  2. 4 tbsp Vegan Chocolate Chocolate chips
  3. 2 tbsp Slivered Almonds
  4. 1 cup Almond Milk (Silk PureAlmond Unsweetened)
  5. 1-2 tbsp Maple Syrup (to taste)
  6. 1 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa
  7. 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  8. 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut bread slices into halves and place the first 2 in a bread pan. Sprinkle a few almonds and chocolate chips on these and then add 2 more slices. Sprinkle a few more almonds and chocolate chips and top off with the last slice of bread. In a separate cup make a thick paste with cocoa, vanilla extract, cinnamon and maple syrup and then add almond milk and mix it all together. Making a paste with maple syrup first helps the cocoa and cinnamon mix into the milk much better than if you added these directly to the milk. Once the almond milk mixture is nice and smooth, pour it over the bread very slowly making sure some of it is absorbed into the top slice and seeps in (instead of just pouring off to the side). Place in oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes (at the end you should see no spare liquid, except for thick gooey chocolaty bubbles on the side) as it should all be absorbed by the bread). Serve warm, with freshly sliced bananas and sprinkled with slivered almonds and more chocolate chips. 

Gooey Chocolate Bread Pudding
My Assessment: This hit the spot last night. The bread was gooey and soft and chocolaty and no added fat!! I like nuts but Tony doesn't and so I will probably make it without the added nuts the next time and just sprinkle some on top for myself. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 110 (Fat Calories 41)
Total Fat 4.6 g; Carbohydrates 17.0 g; Fiber 2.3 g; Sugars 12.3 g; Protein 2.3 g

March 24, 2013

Black Bean & Lentil Soup

So the DH is feeling a little under the weather with a sinus infection. What better to feed the poor baby than a wholesome home-made soup. I often add split lentils to my soups to increase overall protein content and also to make the broth at little creamier. Skinned Split lentils tend to breakdown when cooked well and that helps add a nice creaminess to soups. So much better than adding dairy based cream or additives like corn starch. This one came together really well. 

Black Bean & Lentil Soup
Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (6 Servings):
  1. 1 cup Mung Dal (split, skinned)
  2. 1 x 15oz can Black Beans, drained, rinsed.
  3. 1 Russet Potato, peeled and diced
  4. 1 Large Tomato, diced (~1 cup)
  5. 1 x 12oz Bag of Frozen Spinach
  6. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  7. 1 tbsp Better than Bouillon Mushroom Base
  8. 1.5 tbsp Dried Parsley flakes
  9. 1-2 tsp Lawry's Garlic Salt
  10. 8-10 cups Water or Homemade Vegetable Broth
  11. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  12. Hot Sauce (I use Cholula, optional)
Add all ingredients to a deep stock pot (start with 8 cups of water/broth and add more later, if needed). Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until lentils are tender and begin to break apart (~20-25 min). Taste test for salt, and add pepper for a garnish. Serve hot :) 

Tony's Assessment: Loved it. He ate 2 bowls for dinner and asked to take some for lunch tomorrow. 

My Assessment: This was a very filling soup by my standards. I was pretty full halfway through my first bowl and finished it only so as to not waste any. I liked it better with hot sauce added to it!! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 170 (Fat Calories 15)
Total Fat 1.7 g; Carbohydrates 31.4 g; Fiber 7.9 g; Sugars 2.0 g; Protein 9.5 g

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

Tofu & Peas w Curry Leaves

I usually keep a pack (or two) of  tofu on hand for emergencies .. or for days when I feel like I eating something more than veggies with my dinner. Yesterday, on the way back from the grocery store, something in the trunk (from one of the other bags) fell atop the tofu container and popped the plastic cover i.e. I was left with a busted pack of tofu that needed to be used soon. I'd also picked up some curry leaves on my monthly trip to the Indian Grocery store and decided to combine the two together this afternoon!

Tofu & Peas Curry
Prep Time: 20-30 min

Ingredients (4 Servings):

  1. 1 x 14oz Pack of Extra-Firm Tofu, cut into bite sized cubes
  2. 1.5 cup frozen Peas
  3. 1 small Roma Tomato, diced into large chunks (1/3 cup)
  4. 2 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  5. 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  6. 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  7. 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  8. 5-6 fresh Curry Leaves
  9. 1 tsp Penzey's Sweet Curry powder (optional)
  10. 2-3 cups water or Homemade Vegetable Broth
  11. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Line a deep stockpot with water or vegetable broth and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Allow these to simmer for a couple of minutes to release their aromas. Then add the remaining spices and peas. Adding more broth to keep everything from drying. Once peas thaw and start to simmer, add tomatoes and tofu and add another cup or so of water or broth. Note that I did not press the tofu since I was adding it to a broth based dish. If you press it, it may absorb some more of the flavors but you'll need to add more broth to make it the same consistency as the pressed tofu will absorb a lot of liquid. 

Tofu & Peas Curry over Brown Rice
The final dish should be soupy like a vegetable soup so add enough broth to ensure that consistency. If you want it thicker, feel free to add less water. I like it soupier because that curry-leaf-flavored broth is the best part. Once everything comes to a boil, cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste test before serving and add salt, as needed. Serve hot over steamed brown rice and garnish with salt and pepper. 

My Assessment: I loved the aroma of curry leaves in the house. If you're new to Indian cuisine, the aroma and flavor provided by curry leaves is an excellent, yet mild, introduction to the spicy cuisine of the Indian sub-continent. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 158 (Fat Calories 51)
Total Fat 5.6 g; Carbohydrates 13.4 g; Fiber 5.3 g; Sugars 3.2 g; Protein 13.7 g

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

Herb & Spice Fact of the Day

Curry leaves belong to the curry tree, a tropical tree native to India and Sri Lanka. It produces small highly aromatic leaves that are used in a lot of Indian curries common to Western and Southern India. 

Typically used fresh, the leaves have a very short shelf-life after being removed from the tree. The leaves are also rich in iron. Although the name evokes images of 'CURRY' the flavor of curry leaves is quite unique and does not match traditional curry powders that most people identify with curry. 

Traditionally, curry leaves are toasted in oil before any other ingredients are added. I added them to a broth lined pan instead of oil and the whole house smells like divine. As the leaves cook into the dish, they infuse volatile oils and aromas into the dish. Once done, the leaves can be removed although eating a leaf or two will not harm anyone.  To preserve, separate each batch of 4-6 leaves (that's the amount used per dish) between folds of paper towel or parchment paper and freeze in a zip-lock bag. Unlike some of the more tender herbs, curry leaves maintain their texture and flavor really well in the freezer and you won't be able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen leaves.  

They can be used dry however, the aroma is largely lost with drying. The leaves have a long history in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda). They are valued for their anti-diabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective, and anti-hypercholesterolemic qualities. Interestingly, a study was published in 2001 showing that Girinimbine - one of the many alkaloids found in curry leaves - inhibits growth and actually promotes cell death in human hepatic carcinoma cells (in culture!) ... so eat away!! 

Shredded Kale w Almonds

Kale ... aah!!! I still don't believe how much my body craves it after going without it ... even every couple of days. I had one bunch in the fridge already and I bought another bunch of dinosaur kale and a box of baby kale at the store last night. I hadn't had any kale at all in the last couple of weeks as I was travelling on business and kale isn't big on restaurant menus ;) so I was feeling greedy. I decided to adjust/modify my previous Garlicky Kale recipe to make it easier to eat. In the past, whenever I've made kale I've simply torn the stems away from the leaves and used is as it - coarsely torn and in some pretty large pieces. Unfortunately that makes it a rather 'ungraceful' dish to eat. 

Shredded Kale w Slivered Almonds
So today, I decided to shred my kale to make a more 'eater-friendly' version. Shredding salads and greens has definite nutritional advantages over eating them whole. While the act of chewing the leaves does help breakdown the cell walls, none of us really chew as well as we should, and often portions of leaves are swallowed whole. Fresh shredding of greens, and even other veggies (i.e. its not the same as buying shredded lettuce of cabbage), allows us to cut and expose a lot more of the cellular contents and that releases lot of enzymes and nutrients that may otherwise not be readily released. 

Prep Time: 10 min

Ingredients (2 Servings):
  1. 2 cups fresh Kale
  2. 2 tbsp Slivered Almonds
  3. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  4. 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  5. 1 tsp Deggi Chilli Powder
  6. Salt, to taste
  7. 1/4 cup water, as needed.
Shredded Kale
Wash kale well to remove any dirt and then remove the thick stems. Using a food processor (shredder or slicer attachment) shred kale just before you're ready to prepare this dish. Because some of the enzymes and nutrients exposed by shredding can be labile to oxygen or air ... you will lose nutritional value while it sits on the counter after shredding. In a skillet on medium heat, add a thin layer of water, and add garlic, red pepper flakes and deggi chilli powder. Mix well and once garlic is fragrant, add shredded kale and slivered almonds. Toss well. Add a splash of water and cover and allow to simmer on very low heat. Stir every few minutes (adding splashes of water, as needed to prevent drying) until the leaves turn dark and wilt. Serve warm as a side dish. Garnish with hot sauce (I used Cholula).  

My Assessment: Loved it even more than my original recipe and this was so much more easy to eat!!!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving with Almonds): Calories 81 (Fat Calories 34)
Total Fat 3.8 g; Carbohydrates 10.7 g; Dietary Fiber 2.7 g; Sugars 0.6 g; Protein 4.0 g

March 21, 2013

Mummy's Aloo Gobi

I had some store-bought Naan sitting in the fridge and I really wanted to make a nice Subzi to eat with it. Tony usually prefers something wet with his naan, but I knew I wanted a somewhat drier vegetable. The dish I decided on was a great compromise. Moist enough to stick well to the naan and dry enough to not drip while eating. Cauliflower (New Veggie #38) is a seasonal winter vegetable in India and I remember cool winter afternoons when we would eat Aloo Gobi with fresh chapatis, straight off the griddle. Yum! 

Aloo Gobi w Naan
Prep Time: 20-30 min

Ingredients (2 Servings):

  1. 1 head of Cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces (~1.5 cups)
  2. 1 Idaho Russet Potato, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
  3. 1 small Red Onion, diced (~1/3 cup)
  4. 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  5. 1-2 tsp Ground Cumin
  6. 1-2 tsp Ground Coriander Seed
  7. 4-6 whole pepper corns
  8. 1 tsp dried Cilantro leaves 
  9. 1/2 tsp Deggi Chili Powder
  10. Salt, to taste
Mix diced onions and potato together and dry roast in a pre-heated deep skillet for a few minutes. Add spices, except salt and dried cilantro, and mix well. Add a splash of water, as needed to prevent sticking. Now mix in the cauliflower and add another splash of water. Reduce heat to medium low, cover. Every few minutes, uncover, toss well and test cauliflower. Once fork tender, mix in dried cilantro leaves and add salt to taste. The final dish should be very moist with the potatoes almost crumbly and the onions well mixed into both the potatoes and cauliflower. If it feels dry, add another splash of water and mix well until well blended. Serve with fresh chapatis or warm naan. For an added kick ... sprinkle some Cholula Hot Sauce on top of the dish while still steaming hot!! That stuff kicks this dish by several notches into the world of amazing!! :)

Aloo Gobi w Naan
Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 92 (Fat Calories 4)
Total Fat 0.5 g; Carbohydrates 20.7 g; Fiber 3.8 g; Sugars 3.8 g; Protein 3.6 g

March 20, 2013

Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

For some odd reason, I was craving Thai Peanut Sauce today. I love the HH "Cheater" Pad Thai Sauce and decided to make a spicier hotter version of it tonight!! 

Spicy HH Thai Peanut Sauce
Prep Time: 15 min

Prepare 2x recipe of HH "Cheater" Pad Thai Sauce* and set aside. Boil a bag of Boil-in-a-bog Brown rice (about 1.5 cups), drain and divide into 2 serving bowls. Steam 2 scrubbed Russet potatoes in the microwave (scrub, rinse, place soaking potatoes in grocery bag, wrap, and microwave on high for 7-9 minutes).  Meanwhile saute 4 cups of Baby Spinach in a skillet with 1 tbsp of crushed/minced garlic and 2 tbsp Low-Sodium soy sauce and a splash of water. Transfer sauteed spinach to serving bowls containing boiled brown rice. Once potatoes are tender, remove from bag, transfer to serving bowls and cut open. Drizzle the peanut sauce over the 2 bowls, dividing it approximately equally and serve hot :) 

HH Cheater Pad Thai Sauce (1 recipe, whisk everything together until smooth):
  1. 2 tbsp warm water
  2. 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  3. 1 tbsp Smooth Peanut Butter
  4. 1 tbsp Sweet Red Chili Asian sauce
  5. 1/4 tsp granulated garlic powder
  6. 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  7. 1/4 tsp hot sauce (to taste)
For Smooth Peanut Butter: I used "Naturally More" Smooth Peanut Butter with flax seed.
For Sweet Red Chilli Sauce: I used "Huy Fong" Sambal Oelek Chili Paste (super spicy)
For Hot Sauce: I used "Huy Fong" Sriracha Chili Sauce (even spicier).

My Assessment: What a lovely easy dinner to have on a week night! Got my 2 cups of greens in (albeit wilted - the fiber is still all there!). The HH Sauce is one of my favorites. With the Sambal Oelek Chili paste, it was lip-smacking good (especially if you're into hot stuff!). If you're not into hot foods .. make this the standard way and the dinner will still be equally amazing!!! Yum!! 
Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 346 (Fat Calories 52)
Total Fat 5.8 g; Carbohydrates 63.9 g; Fiber 7.5 g; Sugars 7.3 g; Protein 16.04 g

March 18, 2013

Taco Night

After a week of restaurant hopping in Texas, we returned to a home-cooked meal today. Guess what we had? Taco night!!! Yup, we didn't get enough Tex-Mex while in good 'ol Tejas so we had to have some the first day we were home. 

Taco night at the Coder Residence!!! 
I've posted about our taco fixin's before (see here). Today, we had Steamed Corn, Southwestern Quinoa, Spicy Black Beans, Sautéed Onions, Fresh Tomatoes .. and for the omni boys some taco meat and cheese.  For final toppings we had Salsa Verde and regular Medium Salsa. Everyone made their tacos with what they liked ... and everyone was happy!! No added-fat in the veggie fixins'!

Taco fixins!!! 
My Assessment: A+++ ... this might just be the most favorite dinner at the Coder residence.

March 9, 2013

Everyday Oats

I was having a Spinach Smoothie for breakfast for the longest time. However, I'd read so much about not drinking one's calories that when I started on a new Corporate Weight Loss Challenge at work, I decided to change to oats instead. Of course, the added benefit of oats is how healthy they are (not that my smoothie was unhealthy). Oats have Avenanthramides - these polyphenolic antioxidants that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity, and according to Dr. Esselstyn, oats also help stimulate the health of endothelial cells in our arteries. 

Everyday Oatmeal
Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients (1 Serving):
  1. 1/2 cup Rolled (Old Fashioned) Oats
  2. 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  3. 2 tbsp Raisins
  4. 1 Medium Banana, sliced
  5. 1 tbsp Slivered Almonds
  6. 1.25 cups Almond Milk (I use Silk PureAlmond, Unsweetened Original)
  7. A dash of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  8. 1 tbsp Maple Syrup (optional, if you like it super sweet only)
Add the first three ingredients to a microwave safe bowl and nuke it on high, for 3 minutes. Sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, mix well and serve. I almost never use maple syrup in this recipe because the banana and raisins provide ample sweetness. 

Everyday Oats
My Assessment: The perfect way to start the day. The nuts and the chia seeds help me stay full longer and also satisfy my crunch craving. Great way to start the day! Feel free to leave out the nuts or chia seeds if you're not a big fan. Just banana with pumpkin pie spice is great in this recipe.

Optional Ingredients: frozen or fresh blueberries, fresh blackberries, red raspberries. Sliced strawberries. Switch almonds with raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Switch raisins with or dried/diced apricots or half of a medjool date (those are super sweet, so add less than usual). 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 451 (Fat Calories 131)
Total Fat 14.5 g; Carbohydrates 76.9 g; Fiber 14.7 g; Sugars 26.4 g; Protein 12.4 g

March 7, 2013

Saag Tofu

Whenever I talked to non-Indian friends about Indian cuisine, I've heard rave reviews of Palak Paneer  or Saag Paneer (Curried Pureed Spinach with cubes of fresh cheese). I grew up eating a much healthier version of this dish at home in India, and have always thought the restaurant versions are too greasy. My version today, is 100% plant-based, with no added fat at all and is high on plant-based protein with the addition of Tofu instead of paneer. I've posted a recipe before, which I affectionately called my Lazy Saag Tofu. Today's recipe is a modification of the original, with less spices and it tasted amazing. 

Saag Tofu over White Rice
Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (6 Servings):

  1. 1 x 12 oz bag of frozen Cut Leaf Spinach (~2 cups or so)
  2. 1 cup of fresh Kale
  3. 1 x 15 oz can of Hunts Fire-Roasted Garlic Diced Tomatoes
  4. 1 Medium Red Onion, diced
  5. 1 x 14 ox block of Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
  6. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  7. 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  8. 2 tsp Cumin Powder
  9. 2 tsp Ground Mustard Powder
  10. Salt to taste
Line a pot with water and add garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes and add onion. As the onion turns translucent, add spinach and kale and tomatoes, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. During this time, as the spinach is simmering, stir in turmeric, cumin and mustard. In a separate pot, boil rice (brown or white, although I prefer White Basmati with this dish), drain and set aside. Once the spinach has wilted down and the tomatoes begin to disintegrate, turn off heat, and blend everything together to a smooth paste using a stick blender, or you can use a jar blender as well (the latter is of course more tedious and more messy!). Once well blended, add salt to taste and then do a taste test for spices and if needed add more cumin and mustard. Turn the stove back on (medium heat) and cover the pot with a lid - pureed spinach spatters very badly and can burn if the spatter makes contact with your skin. As the spinach sputters and simmers, cut a pressed block of tofu into bite-sized pieces. Carefully remove the lid and add tofu, gently folding the spinach with the tofu (if you're too rough, the tofu will crumble). Cover and simmer everything together for another 5-10 minutes. Turn heat off and let the pot sit for a couple of minutes to allow the sputtering to stop before removing the lid. Do a quick taste test for salt. Serve hot over steamed/boiled rice. 

My Assessment: Loved it!! The inclusion of kale gave it more robust, and less-grassy flavor. I really like using mustard powder in this recipe vs the usual Indian spices (Coriander, Garam Masala etc.). 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 113 (Fat Calories 32)
Total Fat 3.6 g; Carbohydrates 8.9 g; Fiber 2.7 g; Sugars 1.6 g; Protein 9.1 g

March 6, 2013

Rosemary Potatoes

Potatoes, especially roasted potatoes, with any kind of seasoning are very well accepted in our family. I've posted a recipe for Herb Roasted Red Potatoes before. Today, I tried a variation of my recipe, using only a lot of rosemary. They turned out really good :) 

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (6 Servings):

  1. 20-25 small Red Potatoes, quartered
  2. 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  3. 1 tbsp Goya Recaito Cilantro Cooking Base
  4. 1-2 tsp Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  5. Pepper, to taste
  6. 3-4 Sprigs of Rosemary (fresh)
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with a SilPat mat, or grease lightly with cooking spray. Rinse, clean and quarter potatoes. Transfer to a gallon-sized zip-lock bag, and add all the spices, except of rosemary. Close the bag and toss well. Spread the seasoned potatoes in a single layer on the cookie sheet and bake uncovered for 10-12 minutes. Remove, toss well to turn, mix in sprigs of rosemary and return to the oven for another 10-12 minutes until tender and beginning to crisp around the edges. Leave in longer if you like them crispier. Remove, garnish with freshly cracked black pepper, more fresh rosemary and serve warm. Adding the rosemary too soon makes it char and causes all the essential oils to burn off. That's why I added it only for the last 10 minutes. A friend advised me that if you want your rosemary flavor to be mild, leave the sprigs intact and remove before serving the potatoes. 

My Assessment: A success with the whole family! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 95 (Fat Calories 2)
Total Fat 0.3 g; Carbohydrates 21.4 g; Dietary Fiber 2.4 g; Sugars 1.3 g; Protein 2.6 g

Black Bean Burrito

This post was inspired by a post by Fat Free Vegan Kitchen yesterday. She was asked what she made for her family when she was short on time. And just like me, her response was, Black Bean Burritos. Her pictures are more colorful than mine ;) maybe that's why she's more famous. My recipe is extremely lazy compared to hers :)

Black Bean Burritos w Spanish Rice
Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (6 Burritos): 
  1. 1 bag of Kroger Boil-in-Bag Parboiled Brown Rice
  2. 1 x 15oz can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  3. 3 cups of Baby Spinach
  4. 2 tbsp Dried Minced Onions
  5. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  6. 1 tbsp Taco Seasoning
  7. 1/4 cup Mrs. Renfro's Hot Jalapeno Green Salsa.
  8. Salt & Pepper, to taste
  9. 6 Tortillas or your choice (today, I had white flour tortillas)
In a sauce-pot with ample water, boil brown rice until tender. Once done, transfer to a bowl. Add salsa to rice and toss well. Separately, line a skillet with water. On medium heat, add garlic and minced onions and allow to saute until garlic is fragrant. Add Spinach, allow it to wilt and then add black beans. Mix well, add taco seasoning, using more as needed to your taste. Saute for a few minutes until almost dry. Warm tortillas, wrapped in aluminum foil, in an oven preheated to 350F (10 min). Once tortillas are warm, transfer beans and rice to each and roll into a burrito. Add greens, fresh tomato, olives and more salsa, as needed. Enjoy!

My Assessment: Perfect for a great lazy evening meal! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 90 (Fat Calories 4)
Total Fat 0.5 g; Carbohydrates 17.6 g; Dietary Fiber 3.2 g; Sugars 1.2 g; Protein 4.7 g

* Nutrition facts are provided without the taco shells as calorie content can vary by size and brand.

March 4, 2013

Malka Masoor Dal

In honor of my dear brother going plant based (Yay! It's Day 1) I decided to make a traditional Indian dinner tonight. This would be a very typical meal when growing up and in fact, it still is a very typical meal back home in India. My mom plans her meals around one lentil dish (Dal), one vegetable dish (Subzi) and roti/chapati (Indian whole wheat flat bread). Tonight I decided to make Mutter Mushroom (Curried Peas & Cremini Mushrooms) with Split Masoor Dal (recipe below) and enjoyed my meal with chapatis made my the local Indian chef :) who sells her home-made plain (no added fat) whole wheat chapatis in packs of 10 at the Indian grocery store. Simply heat in a skillet and you're good to go!

Malka Masoor Dal, with Roti & Subzi
Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (4 Servings): 
  1. 3/4 cup Red Masoor Dal (This is the same as Brown Masoor dal, except it is skinned)
  2. 1 medium tomato, diced
  3. 2 tbsp Cumin seeds
  4. 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  5. 1-2 tsp Deggi Chili Powder
  6. 1-2 tsp Cayenne pepper, to taste
  7. Salt & Pepper, to taste
  8. Fresh or dry Cilantro leaves, 1-2 tsp chopped finely
  9. lemon/lime juice, to taste (optional)
Masoor Dal (Malka Masoor)
Rinse lentils really well until the water runs clear. In a stock pot, bring about 2-4 cups of water, and lentils, to a boil, add all spices and simmer until lentils begin to break up (about 10-12 minutes). Once lentils are about done, add tomato and cilantro leaves and let simmer for a while until tomato begins to break down as well (see picture on right!). Add more tomato if desired, or use lemon/lime juice after its been cooked to give a slight tang to the dish.  Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, and fresh cilantro (I didn't have any today). 

My Assessment: I'm Indian. There is no assessment :) this is comfort food  - and my brother's favorite dal!! This is an excellent dish to also simply have as a lentil soup. Low on calories, high on nutrition and low on overall effort. I made 4 servings out of 3/4 cup dry lentils, but this could easily be 2 servings of soup if you wanted to have it just by itself as a heartwarming cuppa :) 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 137 (Fat Calories 10)
Total Fat 1.1 g; Carbohydrates 24.2 g; Dietary Fiber 6.7 g; Sugars 2.6 g; Protein 9.3 g

March 3, 2013

Spicy Garlicky Kale w Slivered Almonds

A good friend of mine reminded me how hesitant I was until a few months ago to even try kale :) This quick and easy recipe goes out to her because I think it is inspired by her original recipe (she uses a couple of other spices and olive oil).

Spicy Garlicky Kale w Slivered Almonds
Prep Time: 10 min

Ingredients (2 Servings):
  1. 2 cups of fresh kale
  2. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  3. 2 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  4. 1/3 tsp Smoked Chipotle Pepper (powder)
  5. 2 tbsp Slivered Almonds (optional)
  6. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Line a skillet with water, heat to medium high, and and add garlic, soy sauce and Chipotle chilli pepper powder. Add kale on top and cover. Reduce heat to medium low and allow the kale to wilt. Typically for my wilted kale recipes, I tend to only cook it through until it turns dark green, but for this recipe I like the kale to be cooked down and tenderized. After about 5-7 minutes, uncover, toss well, turn heat to medium high to allow any excess water to evaporate. Serve topped with slivered almonds and garnish, as needed with additional salt and freshly cracked black pepper. This serves as an excellent side dish for any kind of meal, and even as a warm side salad. 

Spicy Garlicky Kale w Slivered Almonds
Nutrition Facts (Per Serving with Almonds): Calories 79 (Fat Calories 31)
Total Fat 3.4 g; Carbohydrates 10.4 g; Dietary Fiber 2.2 g; Sugars 1.3 g; Protein 4.7 g

March 2, 2013

Braised BBQ Celery

As a plant-based person, I am proud to say that I am no longer scared of starches and carbohydrates. I eat white and sweet potatoes and brown rice and pasta and all things carbs and enjoy them to the fullest. If you're still scared of carbohydrates, you should obtain a copy of The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall - his tag line is "the more rice, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans you eat, the trimmer and healthier you will be!" .... So eat those awesome starchy potatoes folks. One extremely important thing to remember is that Baked Potato Skins are not a health food and neither is a  baked potato smothered in butter, sour cream and bacon bits. I'm always on the lookout for interesting new toppings for my baked potato - toppings that are high on flavor and contain no added fat. I love plain old Salsa on my potato and in Steakhouses, will often ask for a baked potato with a side of salsa, or even A1 Steak Sauce. Yum! Today's recipe is another baked potato topping that you will fall in love with!

Braised Celery Smothered Baked Potato
Prep Time: 5 min 

Ingredients (2 Servings): 
  1. 3-4 stalks of celery (~2 cups)
  2. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  3. 1 tbsp Minced (Dried) Onion
  4. 4 tbsp Stubb's Original BBQ Sauce
  5. Salt & Pepper, to taste
Dice celery coarsely and set aside. Line a skillet, on medium heat, with a thin layer of water and add minced garlic and dried onion. As the garlic releases its aroma, add celery. Give it all a quick toss and then allow the celery and onions and garlic to caramelize just slightly as it sits in the skillet (2 min or so). Add a splash of water, add BBQ sauce and mix everything together. Turn heat to medium low, simmer for another couple of minutes and then serve hot, over a baked potato, with freshly cracked black pepper, and salt (to taste).  

Braised Celery Smothered Baked Potato
My Assessment: Brilliant!! I enjoyed the sweetness and moisture of BBQ sauce over the somewhat dry texture of the potato. Mixed with the crunch and flavor of celery .. awesome combination!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 64 (Fat Calories 2)
Total Fat 0.2 g; Carbohydrates 13.9 g; Dietary Fiber 2.0 g; Sugars 6.2 g; Protein 1.1 g

HH Black Bean Burgers

This afternoon we were planning on going to our favorite family restaurant, a Mom & Pop Mexican place, which we often visit. I always get Grilled Vegetarian Fajitas, without cheese or oil or tortillas (yeah, basically grilled veggies on a plate) and I love it!!! Unfortunately the Rugrat Gods were unhappy and we had a rather cranky 3-year old and decided it was probably best to avoid entering a sit-down restaurant. Unfortunately, everyone in the car, including the cranky 3-year old, was starving and couldn't wait for the 30 minute drive home. So DH decided on Wendy's. I was determined to not ruin my resolve and refrained from ordering anything. All 3 of them gratefully chomped down on their lunch while my stomach groaned and moaned all the way home. So, the long and short of it, is that I needed something to eat, and real quick too, once we got home. I decided on Black Bean Burgers which were on the table in 20 minutes from the moment I turned on the oven to preheat. 

HH Black Bean Burgers

Prep Time: 20 min

  1. 1 can (15 oz) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  2. 2 tbsp Ketchup
  3. 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  4. 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  5. 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  6. 1 tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
  7. 1/2 cup Instant Oats
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper and set aside. In a mixing bowl, coarsely mash black beans with a fork or rounded spatula or your hands (whichever works for you!) leaving some half beans and whole bean intact. Stir in all condiments and spices, using your hands if necessary until well combined. Add oats and vital wheat gluten (the latter helped it stay together a little better for me) and mix really well to allow all the ingredients to combine. Divide into 4 approximately equal portions and shape into thin patties. Bake for 7 minutes, flip over and bake for another 7-10 minutes, until crusty on the outside. 

HH Black Bean Burgers with Peppers & Onions
My Assessment: These were sooooo much better that the commercially available black bean burgers. It came together in a jiffy. While the burgers were cooking the first time, I sliced onions, mixed them with taco seasoning salt and when I flipped the patties, I made space on the cookie sheet and added the onions on the side to grill/roast those as well. The roasted red peppers came out of a bottle (roasted red peppers in water, not oil). I also used a touch of Dill relish and more ketchup and mustard on the buns!! Umm Umm Good!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 113 (Fat Calories 10)
Total Fat 1.4 g; Carbohydrates 18.8 g; Dietary Fiber 5.6 g; Sugars 2.6 g; Protein 7.5 g

* Nutrition facts are provided without the buns as calorie content can vary by size and brand.

March 1, 2013

Product Review - Aloic™

One of the advantages of running a food blog is that from time to time you get requests for product reviews. I recently received samples of Aloic Organic Aloe Vera Drink. It is a certified organic, non-GMO drink which is essentially 95% Aloe Vera. 

Aloe is best known to beach bums ;) for its soothing cooling properties as it is believed to be an excellent remedy for sun burns as well as for minor burns incurred in the kitchen. It doesn't heal but has a cooling effect on the wound which helps soothe. What most people don't realize however is that Aloe has been used in traditional, herbal and alternative medicines (such as Ayurveda) across the world. It is also used widely in cosmetics and recently, in health drinks. As for any herbal product, there are claims of health-imparting properties as well as claims from naysayers that contradict the health claims. Aloe extracts have been told to be anti-microbial and anti-fungal in nature. These posts present some Facts and Benefits of Aloe.

Aloic.... Organic Aloe Vera drink with pulp ..

Product Information: Distributed in the US by Epicurex LLC, it is a product of Korea ( 

Nutritional Information: 60 calories per 8 oz serving. 
Each serving also provides 23 mg of Sodium and 11 g of total carbohydrates (all from sugars) and contains zero grams of fat and protein. The bottle indicates that it contains pulp but the nutritional information did not include dietary fiber content, so my assumption is that it is minimal. 
Ingredients: Water, Organic Aloe Vera Gel and Powder, Organic Cane Sugar and Natural Grape Flavor.

Serving Suggestion: Serve Chilled, Shake well before serving. Refrigerate after opening.

Taste/Flavor/Texture/Aroma Assessment: It had a mildly sweet, grape flavor. Given that it had 11 g of sugar I was expecting it to be sweeter, but was pleasantly surprised.  We had it really nicely chilled and it was quite refreshing. Transparent to slightly translucent in appearance, the aloe pulp was visible when the glass was held against a light source (see picture on right). When sipping it the pulp was quite apparent but the texture was only slightly pulpy, similar to low-pulp orange juice. The aroma was similar to grape juice or any grape-flavored drink/food. 

Overall Assessment: My husband and 17-year old (who is extremely skeptical of my plant-based diet and healthy eating habits) were pleasantly surprised. All 3 of us shared the bottle and although he was hesitant at first, once he tasted it, my step-son asked if he could have the entire second bottle all to himself. I'd say that's a success story right there.  

The Proof is in the Pudding: Would I buy it if I saw it in the store? I think the answer would be a Yes! I typically do not drink anything except water and the very occasional glass of wine. However, when we're on the road, I have been known to buy a drink at a gas station (often a flavored product like Vitamin Water). So yes, if I were to see this in a store, and I was looking for a drink, I'd definitely buy it again. 

Availability: From what I could find on the internet, Aloic is available in stores only in Florida (which is where Epicurex is located). It is available online via Amazon and has pretty great reviews online as well. Enjoy!