April 27, 2013

Rosemary Potato & Celery Soup

Simple pleasures .. bubbles (for him) ..
a glass of wine (for me) ..
.. & warm sunshine in Central Ohio!
I opened a bottle of wine this afternoon after a long time because it just felt right. Nik and I were outside most of the day. Our neighbor visited with us for a little bit .. but for the most part, it was him and I chilling on a rather uncommon (these days!) warm spring afternoon in Central Ohio. He had his bubbles and his baseball bat and his scooter and I had my glass of wine and Nook to read the rest of my latest book! We spent a blissful afternoon under the budding trees (thank goodness I've got a fresh bottle of prescription Flonase!!) 

Anyhow, in the end, I was left with an almost full bottle of wine (since the wuss in me can consume 1 glass/sitting). I also had a pack of celery sitting in the fridge so I decided to use both for dinner and make a celery soup, with a white wine base. 

I looked at various recipes online and then decided to make a variation of one of I found. I included Rosemary since I've developed a fondness for the rosemary-potato combination.  

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (Serves 6):
  1. 1 lb Celery (diced)
  2. 1.5 lb Russet potatoes (diced)
  3. 3 cups of White Wine (preferably dry, and not too sweet)
  4. 3 cups water or Home-Made Vegetable Broth
  5. 1 tbsp 'Better than Bouillon' Mushroom or Vegetable Base
  6. 3 tsp Onion powder
  7. 2 tsp Garlic powder
  8. 1 tsp Nutmeg powder
  9. 2 tsp fresh Rosemary, diced
  10. 3 tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
  11. 3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  12. 1/2 cup Almond Milk
  13. Salt and Pepper, to taste

Rosemary Potato & Celery Soup
In a deep stock pot, add 3 cups of wine and add celery with a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer to allow celery to cook down into the wine (it will become more translucent). Then add diced potatoes, onion, garlic and nutmeg powders, bouillon base and more water (or broth) and simmer until potatoes are tender (~15-20 min). Cover partially to prevent over-drying. Add more water (or broth) as needed to keep the soup runny. In a separate stock pot on medium-low heat, dry roast the whole wheat flour until golden and then add a splash of water and then almond milk. Whisk this mixture to make a smooth roux. Add more water (or broth) as needed and whisk until smooth and frothy. Then add nutritional yeast and whisk again. Bring to a slow boil (on simmer) and then transfer contents to the soup. Mix well and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes to allow the soup to become thick and creamy. Taste test for salt and serve hot with a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 185 (Fat Calories 9)
Total Fat 1.0 g; Carbohydrates 30.3 g; Fiber 5.8 g; Sugars 3.5 g; Protein 5.5 g

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

Crinkly Basil Carrots

This side dish is my 4-year old's favorite side dish. I know I can add carrots to his plate and he will eat - or at least he will eat his side, if not his entree. I use a pack of frozen crinkle-cut carrots, but you can also use fresh crinkle sliced carrots, if you prefer. I tend to use a lot of frozen vegetables as a matter of convenience. There are several articles online (such as these two articles on LiveStrong and EatingWell) which compare the nutritional value of fresh vs. frozen vegetables .. and frozen vegetables come out on top. So stock up that freezer. 

Crinkly Basil Carrots
Prep Time: 10-14 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 1 x 12 oz Frozen Crinkle-Cut Carrots
  2. 2 tsp fresh Basil, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 cup water or Home-Made Vegetable Broth
  4. Salt & Pepper, to taste
In a deep sauce-pot, bring 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Add carrots and a sprinkle of salt and cover and allow to simmer until fork tender (about 8-10 min). Halfway through this process, uncover, toss well and sprinkle chopped basil leaves on top. Once carrots are done, keep covered until ready to serve (this will help preserve the essential oils from Basil). Add salt, as needed and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper. 

Nik's Assessment: A+++ !! He ate his entire serving, without asking how many bites he needed to eat :)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 35 (Fat Calories 2)
Total Fat 0.2 g; Carbohydrates 8.2 g; Fiber 2.4 g; Sugars 4.0 g; Protein 0.8 g

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

April 26, 2013

Baked Tofu

I love Tofu. There ... I said it. I'm not ashamed of it!! I do however, try to limit my tofu consumption simply because it is higher in calories than whole plants, or edamame itself. I've tried tofu in scrambles, in soups, in curries, in rice .. basically every preparation except for Baked Tofu. I just hadn't gotten around to it. Finally this week, I decided to make a variation of Basic Baked Tofu from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook.  The original recipe calls for baking strips of tofu at 350 F but after a somewhat failed first try, I decided to bake at a higher temperature today to ensure that I got it nice and crisp on the outside, while maintaining moisture on the inside. 

Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce
Prep Time: 15-20 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  1. 1 x 14 oz box of Nasoya Extra Firm Tofu (frozen, thawed and pressed in advance)
  2. 2-3 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  3. 1 recipe Spicy (HH) Thai Peanut Sauce
  4. Sriracha Hot sauce, to taste. 
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the slab of tofu into 8 strips. One cycle of freeze/thaw makes the tofu somewhat denser and changes the texture. Pressing the tofu prior to making baked tofu makes it absorb the sauces and become more flavorful. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside. I tried  making this on parchment paper and the tofu ended up sticking to it during the baking process. I've tried using a Silpat baking mat and I found the it doesn't let the outside of the tofu become crispy. To get the crispy exterior, I found that direct contact with the metal sheet works best. Using a pastry brush, rub each slice with soy sauce followed by peanut sauce. Flip over and rub the other side. Bake uncovered for 10 min/side and serve warm with Sriracha sauce for an extra kick.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 262 (Fat Calories 114)
Total Fat 12.7 g; Carbohydrates 10.9 g; Fiber 3.6 g; Sugars 3.6 g; Protein 25.6 g

April 21, 2013

Toasted Oats Daliya

I started using Steel-cut oats, instead of Old Fashioned (Rolled) oats for my morning oatmeal not too long ago (yes, I waited too long to try the real deal). Anyhow, one of the first things that struck me about steel cut oats is how much the flavor and texture matches that of Daliya.  

Daliya is the same thing as Bulgur. For those who haven't heard of it before, it is essentially a cereal made from the groats of different varieties of wheat, most commonly - durum. It is commonly used in cuisines across Europe, Middle East and South East Asia, especially Pakistan and North India. It has a light, nutty flavor, similar to steel cut oats, which is why I decided to try out steel-cut oats in the same recipe today. 

Oats Daliya w Spinach and Mixed Veggies
Prep Time: 20-30 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 1/2 cup Steel-cut Oats
  2. 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (peas, green beans, corn and diced carrots)
  3. 3 cups fresh Baby Spinach (or regular spinach leaves, coarsely chopped) 
  4. 1 tsp Onion Powder
  5. 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  6. 1 tsp Mustard Seeds (or Ground Mustard)
  7. 6 fresh (or frozen) Curry Leaves
  8. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  9. Hot Sauce (optional)
Toast the steel cut oats in a dry skillet, on medium to medium-high heat, until golden. What the toasting does is make them less sticky once cooked and also somewhat reduces the amount of water they need to absorb when cooked. Once golden, transfer oats to a pressure cooker. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then add half a cup of hot water (1 to 1 with quantity of dry oats). Cover immediately and cook under high pressure for 2 minutes. Allow steam to dissipate on its own. This works really well in an electric pressure cooker but a stove top should work just as well. Basically that half cup of water is just enough to soak and cook the oats (without making them mushy) and to generate just enough steam in the pressure cooker to last for 2-4 minutes. It all happens super fast!! Do not uncover the pressure cooker even after the steam has dissipated (make sure you turn off the 'keep warm' function, and move the stove top cooker to a trivet). Let it sit until the veggies are ready.  

Li'l Nikhil made my day he saw me take the box of Baby Spinach out of the fridge this morning. He asked me Leaves (Baby Spinach) and Dip (Balsamic Vinaigrette) for breakfast!! And then of course, he continued on to admonish me on using up all the leaves for my breakfast - "but I won't have any left for me for tomorrow!!" :)
While the oats are cooking, line the dry skillet used for toasting them with a thin layer of water and add onion, garlic and mustard seeds and frozen vegetable mix. Add a sprinkle of salt, and allow vegetables to thaw. Then mix in the curry leaves and saute until they release their aromatic oils (within 1-2 minutes). Then add the baby spinach and allow to wilt and mix everything together. 

Taste test for salt and pepper and once the vegetables are ready, open the pressure cooker, scrap the oats out with a wooden spatula (I've found that steel cut oats never get fluffy like bulgur but remain sticky). Add oats to the vegetables and toss everything really well together making sure to break up the larger pieces of crumbly oats. Garnish with freshly cut cilantro leaves and serve with hot sauce, or fresh mint chutney!

My Assessment: I liked this version of savory oats much better than the recipes I've posted before using old-fashioned oats. And of course, this is the whole, minimally processed, grain so it is much healthier as well. And it tasted just like wheat daliya :) so that was a great substitution that worked! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 218 (Fat Calories 31)
Total Fat 3.4 g; Carbohydrates 40.1 g; Fiber 7.8 g; Sugars 4.5 g; Protein 9.0 g

April 20, 2013

Cilantro Quinoa Khichdi

I hadn't made any Quinoa dinners lately and Tony is a huge fan. He mentioned a few days ago that he'd like some. Then one of my friends on FB posted a picture of a Quinoa and Lentil pilaf that she'd tried for her family. I figured I needed to make that today. I also had a head of white cauliflower that I needed to use this weekend. So I ran a Google search for Quinoa and Lentils and came up with the perfect recipe which used all 3 ingredients that I had on hand. Here's the end result :) Cilantro Quinoa Khichdi

A Khichdi (Kh-itch-dee) is a mildly flavored preparation of lentils and rice, the ultimate comfort food. Variations of the same basic theme (lentils, rice, vegetables) can be found across the entire Indian Subcontinent. Today's preparation excludes the rice, and includes Quinoa instead to up the protein content and lower the carbohydrate content.  

Cilantro Quinoa Khichdi
Adapted from: Food and Wine - Red Quinoa and Lentil Pilaf

Prep Time: 30-40 min

Ingredients (6 Servings): 
  1. 1 cup Masoor Dal (whole red lentils, with skin - also called Brown Lentils)
  2. 1.25 cup Quinoa
  3. 1 Head of Cauliflower, shredded (~2 cups)
  4. 1 Large Yellow Onion, diced (~1 cup)
  5. 1/2 cup fresh Cilantro leaves (Stems removed)
  6. 1 tbsp Garlic
  7. 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  8. 1 tbsp Ground Cilantro Seeds
  9. 1-2 tsp Ground Mustard 
  10. 1 tsp Onion powder
  11. 1 tsp Garlic powder
  12. 1 tsp Turmeric
  13. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  14. Hot Sauce (optional)
Rinse lentils in water and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water (or home-made vegetable broth), for 1 cup of lentils, add turmeric and 1 tsp salt. Pressure cook under high pressure for at 20 minutes. Allow steam to dissipate on its own. Once all the pressure is dissipated, open, drain lentils and save the excess broth for use later. Cover and set aside. Meanwhile rinse out quinoa in running water (until the water runs clear) and transfer to a stock pot. Add 2.5 cups of water, for 1.25 cups of quinoa. Add 1 tsp each of Garlic and onion powders and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered until quinoa is cooked through and most of the excess water has evaporated. Cover and set aside. 

While the lentils and quinoa are cooking, in a pan large enough to hold everything, add a thin layer of water. Add minced garlic and saute until aromatic. Then add minced onions and a couple of pinches of salt and cook until excess water evaporates and onions are translucent (~3-4 minutes on medium-high). Add cumin seeds, coriander and mustard powders at this stage, toss well and add shredded cauliflower. Reduce heat to medium and cook this mixture together until the excess water has evaporated. Taste test this cauliflower onion mixture for spices and salt and add more of the same 3 spices and salt, as needed, to taste. At this stage, the mixture should taste 'over' spiced. Remember that you're still going to be adding 1 cup of lentils and 1.25 cups of cooked quinoa. Once the mixture is spiced to your taste, add fresh cilantro leaves (saving a couple sprigs for garnishing) and toss well. The warm cauliflower/onion mix will imbibe the essential oils and flavors from the cilantro leaves as they wilt with the heat. Once ready, toss lentils with the cauliflower/onion mix and the add quinoa and toss everything together. If the mixture appears too dry, add some of the saved lentil broth to add moisture to the dish. Serve warm, with freshly cracked black pepper, and more fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 201 (Fat Calories 24)
Total Fat 2.6 g; Carbohydrates 39.8 g; Fiber 10.0 g; Sugars 1.9 g; Protein 11.6 g

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

April 19, 2013

Indian Spiced Chickpeas w Chunky Tomatoes & Kale

This is my version of the Happy Herbivore recipe - Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Kale - from Everyday Happy Herbivore. I find that I like Kale better with a slightly tart ingredients such as lemon juice, tomatoes or even orange juice. I like the original HH recipe, but I like my modification better. Also, such acidic foods help in absorption of iron from food sources (see here) so adding tomatoes is a win-win. 

Rugratized Indian Spiced Chickpeas w Chunky Tomatoes & Kale
Prep Time: 20-30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 2 x 15 oz cans of Chickpeas (rinsed in running water, and drained)
  2. 1 x 15 oz can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes (No Added Salt)
  3. 3 cups Kale, coarsely chopped (or use baby kale). 
  4. 1 Large Red Onion, julienned (thickly).
  5. 2 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  6. 1-2 tbsp MDH Chana Masala Spice Mix**
  7. 4 cups Home-made Vegetable Broth, or water
  8. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Line a deep stock pot with water or vegetable broth and add ginger-garlic paste and red onion. Once the onion becomes translucent, add kale and diced tomatoes, cover and cook for a few minutes to allow Kale to wilt. Now, add chickpeas, and the chana masala mix and the rest of the vegetable broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes on medium-low. Serve garnished with freshly cracked pepper, over steamed rice. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 247 (Fat Calories 17)
Total Fat 1.9 g; Carbohydrates 46.8 g; Fiber 3.3 g; Sugars 12.5 g; Protein 12 g

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

** Chana Masala is a spice mix prepared and sold in India which is used specifically for chickpea dishes. It is a spicy smoky ground blend of cilantro seeds, dry young mango, pomegranate seeds, chilli peppers, cumin, dried musk melon, black pepper, black salt, fenugreek leaves, cloves, mint, nutmeg, dry ginger, cinnamon, Indian bay leaf, cardamom, ammomum (black cardamom) seeds, caraway and mace. Since I don't have a few of these ingredients, I always keep a pack of MDH Chana Masala on hand. Works like a charm every time!! 

Asian Spiced Wilted Kale Salad w Onions and Mushrooms

Here's another variation of my Wilted Kale Salad recipe. This one is spicy and amazing! It uses a Sweet Red Asian Chilli Sauce. I used "Huy Fong" Sambal Oelek Chili Paste which is super spicy (to me!).

Asian Spiced Wilted Kale Salad
Prep Time: 5-7 min

Ingredients (4 Servings):
  1. 1 bunch of Kale, stems removed, and leaves coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
  2. 1 medium Yellow Onion, julienned (about 2/3 cup)
  3. 1 cup quartered Cremini mushrooms
  4. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  5. 1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  6. 1 tbsp Asian Chilli Sauce (Huy Fong Sambal Oelek Chili Paste) 
  7. Salt and Pepper, to taste.
Rinse kale in cold water, drain and set aside. Line a large skillet with water. Add ginger-garlic paste and rice wine vinegar. As soon as the water begins to boil, add the julienned onions and cremini mushrooms. Toss well and add Kale. Cover, reduce heat to medium low. Within a couple of minutes, the kale will turn bright green and begin to wilt. Keep covered for 2 additional minutes. Remove lid and and the chilli paste. toss really well. Transfer to a salad bowl, garnish with freshly cracked black pepper, and add salt (to taste). Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving ): Calories 51 (Fat Calories 5)
Total Fat 0.5 g; Carbohydrates 10 g; Dietary Fiber 1.9 g; Sugars 1.1 g; Protein 3.0 g

April 17, 2013

Griddled Polenta Cakes with Roasted Vegetables

I've been meaning to try Polenta for a long time but have just never gotten around to it. Tonight, it became New Veggie #68 and the latest permanent member of my pantry. Although I've never really been a fan of grits (I need to give them another chance soon), I have always liked all other corn products so today I finally got around to making a lazy version, which turned out great! 

Griddled Polenta Cakes with Roasted Vegetables
Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (4 Servings):
  1. 1 tube of Food Merchants Traditional Italian Polenta
  2. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  3. Roasted Vegetables (I used Zucchini and Haricot Verts today) with juices
  4. Cooking spray, for skillet
  5. Hot Sauce, to taste

Slice the tube of Polenta into 12 round cakes, each about 0.5 inch thick. Preheat a skillet, or cast iron pan. Once the pan is hot, spray lightly with cooking spray and place each round cake on the hot skillet. As one side gets seared, turn over to sear the other side. This helps create a sort of skin on each cake and preserves the juices inside, leaving the inside soft and creamy, and the outside a little chewy. I served these tonight with my Oven Roasted Zucchini and Garlicky Haricot Verts. I drizzled whatever juices there were in the vegetable pans on top of the polenta and also drizzled with hot sauce. Umm Umm Good!!

My Assessment: I really liked it. Tony was not a fan - he thought it was pretty tasteless. I liked the fact that it retained its softness inside even though I seared the outsides. I liked the blending of the vegetable juices with the corn meal and how it basically imbibed the flavors of the roasted vegetables. It has definitely found a permanent place in my pantry!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving of Polenta): Calories 105 (Fat Calories 0)
Total Fat 0 g; Carbohydrates 22.5 g; Dietary Fiber 1.5 g; Sugars 1.5 g; Protein 3.0 g

Veggie Fact of the Day

New Veggie #68 - Polenta
Polenta is a staple food of Northern Italy, and is far less famous than its traditional cousin, pasta. It was traditionally considered peasant food because it was made from cheap corn instead of other grains. It was considered a staple in winter months when fresh food was scarce. It is made from ground yellow or white corn that has had the germ removed. It can be used as the main dish, as a side as a grain, and is often even used in desserts because of its smooth texture. It is extremely versatile. It can be baked, boiled, fried or grilled, and has a neutral bland flavor that allows it to be modified to multiple recipes and tastes. 

While traditionally sold as powdered cornmeal, pre-made tubes are a norm in most American supermarkets which makes it easy to slice and bake, broil, fry or grill. Always make sure that the package you buy has limited ingredients - corn meal and water  being the 2 basic ingredients and no added oil. 

Nutritionally, Polenta is low on simple sugars and high on complex carbohydrates, making it a low glycemic index grain. It is rich in vitamin A and C making it a good source of the caroteinoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, foods made from milled yellow corn including polenta provide a natural and excellent source of carotenoids. Polenta is high in protein, with each 8-oz serving containing almost 10 g of protein. It is also rich in trace elements such as potassium, iron and zinc, as well as small doses of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. And it is gluten-free!!! 

Veggie Fact of the Day

Photo courtesy: http://www.spaweekblog.com/
Purple Cabbage, often known also as Red Cabbage gets its color, like most other purple fruits and vegetables from a family of pigments known as Anthocyanins. At least 36 different varieties of anthocyanins have been identified in purple cabbage. These chemicals have high anti-cancer potential. In fact, some varieties of anthocyanins have been shown to be double in strength to the antioxidant effects of vitamin C. Red cabbage is also a good source of indoles, compounds that may reduce the risk of breast cancer by altering estrogen metabolism.

In size, shape and weight, the purple cabbage is quite similar to its pale green counterpart. Typically each head of cabbage is heavy for its size due to the densely packed leaves. each leaf is dark red to purple in color and may have white portions on the inside which become evident when one cuts into it. 

Purple cabbage is fat and cholesterol free like almost all the fruits and vegetables we eat (with the exception of a limited few like nuts, seeds and avocados). It is a wonderful source of Vitamin C - with each cup containing close to 85% of the RDA. Other vitamins include A, E and K. It also contains large quantities of sulfur, and other minerals that work as cleansing agents for the digestive system. It is also a great source of Calcium. And there is also evidence that red cabbage juice may have therapeutic value in the treatment of ulcers. due to its high concentration of the amino acid glutamine. So eat up .. eat your greens and reds and purples too!!

Steamed Cabbage Rice

It has been a few days since I posted. Not because I haven't tried anything new but mostly because I've been battling the worst seasonal allergies these past 2 or 3 weeks and have been quite worn out in the evenings. Feeling somewhat human today, so decided to post some of the recipes I've worked on. It also so happens that I added to my list of new vegetables during this brief hiatus. 

Steamed Cabbage Rice, with Steamed Broccoli
New Veggie #67 - Purple Cabbage. I'd just never gotten around to trying purple cabbage although I've eaten plenty of regular green cabbage in my life. Oddly enough, I came to the conclusion several years ago that I am slightly allergic to raw cabbage. I say slightly because I don't have a huge reaction and don't need to get epi injections but my tongue feels swollen and my mouth itchy whenever I eat raw cabbage - no coleslaw for me. Interestingly, whatever it is that I am allergic to, either cooks down, or breaks down when the same cabbage is sauteed for a few minutes in a pan. Hence, I tried a Steamed Cabbage Rice recipe. 

Prep Time: 15 min

Ingredients (4 Servings):

  1. 1 head of Purple Cabbage, sliced thinly, with a knife or mandolin slicer (about 4 cups raw)
  2. 1 cup White Basmati Rice
  3. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  4. 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  5. 2 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  6. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Boil white rice in ample amounts of water, drain and set aside. While the rice is boiling, remove outer leaves from the cabbage, rinse the whole head and then slice the cabbage as thinly as you can. Some people prefer to wash the cabbage after its been sliced, but I tend to think of a closed head of cabbage as a closed onion bulb, you remove the outer layers, rinse and then use. In a deep sauteing pan on medium-high heat, add an eighth of a cup of water and add ginger-garlic paste, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce and a splash of salt. Saute for a couple of minutes and then add sliced cabbage. Saute for another couple of minutes until the cabbage just begins to wilt. And the add the steamed white rice and toss it all together. Enjoy with your favorite oriental flavors. I had it with steamed broccoli drizzled with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce.

My Assessment: This is a great way to add more colors to your meal and also to add more fiber and fresh vegetables. While cabbage doesn't have the fiber content of the power-food kale, it is still considered a green leafy vegetable and has a lot of nutritional benefits. Since I only sauteed it until it began to wilt, the cabbage also added a nice crunch to the rice. I liked it and I think I will definitely be using this to add a little extra oomph to my steamed rice. On this particular day, I used white rice, but I this would work equally well with steamed brown rice as well. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 218 (Fat Calories 25)
Total Fat 2.8 g; Carbohydrates 43.6 g; Dietary Fiber 1.8 g; Sugars 2.7 g; Protein 5.6 g

April 6, 2013

Savory Oats Upma

My typical breakfast for the last couple of month has been a big bowl of my Everyday Oats. This morning, I didn't have any bananas at home and that is my main source of sugars in my regular recipe. I wasn't really in the mood to add Maple Syrup or Agave to my usual recipe (it just doesn't taste as good without a banana). So I decided to make some Savory Oats Upma.

Upma is a traditional South Indian Breakfast preparation which has traditionally been made with Semolina (Rava or Suji). These days a number of variations of Upma can be found in restaurants and include wheat berries, rice, rice vermicelli, durum wheat semolina or even pearl sago. I decided to add another variation to it and made it with Old Fashioned Oats, which are also known commonly as Rolled Oats. I think this would work great with Steel-Cut or Irish Oats as well.

Savory Oats Upma
Prep Time: 15-20 min

Ingredients (1 servings):
  1. 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
  2. 1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (I use Silk Plain)
  3. 1 small Red Onion (julienned)
  4. 1 cup Frozen Mixed Vegetables (mine had corn, peas, carrots and green beans)
  5. 2 tbsp Raw Peanuts, roasted in the microwave.
  6. 1 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  7. 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  8. tsp Cumin Powder
  9. 1 tsp Chilli Powder (I use Deggi Chilli Powder)
  10. 1 tsp Ground Mustard 
  11. 4-6 Curry Leaves
  12. Salt and Pepper, to taste
In a microwave-safe bowl, mix oats and almond milk and microwave each on high for 3 minutes; set aside. After a few minutes, mix well so that the oats are moist, yet crumbly. I used a 1:1 proportion of oats to liquid as I don't like them mushy. You can increase the liquid if you like. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, roast raw peanuts until they release some of their oils and the skins can be brushed off (microwave on high in 1 minute increments, making sure to mix with your fingers after each minute - you want to roast, not char them - that's why you can't leave them in there for 5 minutes straight). My 2 tbsp peanuts were roasted in 4 intervals of 1 minute each, with about 30 seconds in between each session. Once done, let sit for a couple of minutes to cool and then rub between your fingers or palms to remove the skins, which can be discarded. 

Line a non-stick skillet with water and add mustard seeds and ginger-garlic paste. Saute for a couple of minutes, add another splash of water and add onions. Saute until caramelized. Once done, add curry leaves, saute for another couple of minutes and then add the vegetables. Allow the vegetables to thaw, adding more water as needed and cook until the vegetables are fork tender and all the flavors are well blended. Taste test for salt and garnish with pepper. Either toss the oats in at this time and mix everything together, or serve over a bed of oats with roasted peanuts.  

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 398 (Fat Calories 125)
Total Fat 13.9 g; Carbohydrates 58.6 g; Dietary Fiber 13.1 g; Sugars 10.6 g; Protein 15.8 g

April 2, 2013

Beans, Greens & Bean Curd

Having grown up with a rice-loving father, I developed a love for rice early in life. Being around dad, I got used to considering a rice-less meal incomplete. He loved rice in all forms - steamed plain, fried, pilafed or in the form or a biryani. To me a perfect meal has always been rice topped off with something. Tonight I decided to use some of the spinach I had sitting in the fridge to make a oriental style dish which could be eaten over rice. 

Beans, Greens and Bean Curd
Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (Serves 6):

  1. 1 lb Baby Spinach
  2. 1 x 14 oz Extra Firm Tofu
  3. 3 large Roma Tomatoes (~1.5 cups, diced)
  4. 8 oz Shelled Edamame
  5. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  6. 1 recipe Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce
  7. 1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  8. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Line a stock pot with water and saute garlic in water until its aromas are released. Add baby spinach, reduce heat to medium low, cover and allow spinach to wilt. Once spinach is wilted, add tomatoes, edamame and the soy, peanut and sambal oelek sauces. Add about a cup of water, cover and allow to simmer until semi dry and spinach and tomatoes are well wilted and combined (about 10-12 min). Do a quick taste test, and add add more sauces, and salt or pepper, as needed. Serve over a bed of steamed jasmine or basmati rice. 

Did you know that Tofu is also called Bean Curd?
My Assessment: LOVED IT!!! It was delicious and each serving contains a quarter of a pound of greens. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 239 (Fat Calories 89)
Total Fat 9.9 g; Carbohydrates 16.8 g; Fiber 6.9 g; Sugars 3.8 g; Protein 21.6 g

April 1, 2013

Mud Puddle Chickpeas

Growing up, my grandma used to make what she called 'Chikad Chhole' ... and the best translation I can come up with is Mud Puddle Chickpeas. I know, that is kinda pathetic. However, the name is quite catchy in my opinion and is indeed a literal translation of my grandma's name for this dish. She made it with Chickpeas as well as with Green Split Peas. The recipe is about the same for both kinds of beans.

Chikad Chhole
Prep Time: 25-30 min (with canned chickpeas)

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  1. 2 x 15 oz Canned Chickpeas (drained and rinsed) (~3 cups cooked)
  2. 1 x 15 oz Canned Diced Tomatoes (I used Hunt's No Added Salt, Fire Roasted)(~1.5 cups fresh)
  3. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  4. 1 tbsp Goya Recaito Cilantro Cooking Base
  5. 2-3 cups Water or Home-made Vegetable Broth
  6. 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  7. 1 tbsp Cilantro Seed powder
  8. 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  9. 2 tsp Deggi Chilli Powder
  10. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  11. Lemon/Lime juice, to taste
  12. Hot Sauce, to taste
I used canned chickpeas and canned tomatoes in the interest of time and because I forgot to soak chickpeas last night. If you remember to soak them overnight, make sure you precook the chickpeas for this recipe. In a stockpot, bring about a cup of water to a rolling boil. Add ginger-garlic paste, cilantro cooking base and spices and the tomato. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat to a simmer and cook tomatoes until they begin to disintegrate (5-7 min). Add chickpeas, and another cup or water or vegetable broth and mix well and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes adding more water, as needed, to keep the dish runny, but not soupy. Do a quick taste test and add more salt, pepper, and spices as needed. The tomato should add a certain sweet tang to the dish. Once you're satisfied with the taste, use a potato masher and press down on the chickpeas about 10-12 times so that some of the chickpeas get smooshed and form a thick mud (now you get why this dish is called a mud puddle?) making sure to leave about 2/3rd of the chickpeas still intact i.e. just enough that the intact chickpeas are floating in the mud :)!!! My grandma used to serve these over sliced bread, or rice, sprinkled with fresh lime juice and garnished with fresh cilantro leaves, fresh thinly sliced onions, sliced serrano/jalapeno peppers and even fresh sliced ginger. Instead of using bread or rice as the bed, I served these lovely muddy chickpeas over a freshly baked potato. Top off with hot sauce, as desired. 

Mud Puddle Chickpeas over a Baked Potato
My Assessment: Even without a lot of the fresh stuff that my grandma served these with, this dish was awesome and a hit with my dear American husband as well.

Quick Tip: If you want it extra spicy, or flavorful, add an additional tbsp of taco seasoning. Adds some extra zing. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 226 (Fat Calories 34)
Total Fat 3.8 g; Carbohydrates 37.9 g; Fiber 11.7 g; Sugars 8.2 g; Protein 10.4 g

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