Monday, March 31, 2008

Tropical, Sensational and Oohhh so Easy!

It’s Sunday night and you just gotta have something sweet...but you can’t add extra pounds to that fab body of yours! Oh what to do, what to do? Well, I’m in the same boat and I can’t binge as I have a wedding dress to fit into, so I came up with an easy dessert recipe anyone can follow. While shopping at Whole Foods I was looking for something yummy that I could snack on. Now, I’ve been really good with my work-out “regime” and I just wanted something yummy that won’t make me take two steps backwards for every step I’ve taken forward. And then I saw them, glistening in the grocery aisle and calling my name, 2 cans of organic papaya and mango just wanted to come home with me. It worked! When I was wanting something sweet that night, I remembered the tropical fruit I picked up. Here are 2 versions you can try…one is no fat, and the other has a little but certainly not as much a slice of chocolate cake. Tropical Fruit Salad 1 can mango 1 can papaya 1 banana 2-4 tsp agave nectar 1/2 tsp of blossoming orange extract Chop the fruit and mix it in a bowl. Then in a separate mixing bowl stir the orange blossom extract with some agave nectar. Pour this nectar over the fruit and enjoy! “Whipped” Cream 6 oz silken tofu (or if you can’t eat soy, then you can add about 3/4 cups of cashews) 1/4 cup agave nectar (I guessed at this amount) 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 tsp blossoming orange extract Blend all the ingredients in a blender until the cream is smooth. If you noticed in the picture, I layered the whipped cream with fruit in a martini glass. Once it’s all pretty, put it in the refrigerator to cool for about 30min. There it is…a guiltless dessert. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mac and “Cheese” made with Vegieees (Seriously!)

Do you ever walk into the kitchen on a Sat afternoon and crave Mac and Cheese for lunch?…Ya? I knew it! So that’s what happened to me today. Every once in a while I really crave Mac and Cheese…and this really hits the spot! When I used to baby-sit children, I came up with this absurdly great recipe. How I came up with it, I am not sure. Some crazy vision took over my palate and made me come up with this concoction, but it worked!

1 package of frozen veggies (I like Cascadian Farms Garden Vegetables with corn, carrots, green beans and peas.) 1 package of silken tofu (This is a very smooth tofu. I use the Mori-Nu brand found in Asian sections of grocery stores) 1-2 tsp turmeric powder(more if you want a brighter color) 1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional) 2-4 tsp olive oil (we live a low-fat lifestyle, but feel free to add more oil if you like) 2-4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast 1 Tbsp Shoyu Sauce (you can use Braggs Liquid Aminos) 1/2 lemon, juiced 1-2 tsp salt (optional)
Now, just like most of my recipes, this is a ridiculously easy! All you have to do is cut up the tofu and steam it with the veggies for about 6-8 minutes. You can use firm tofu if you like, but the “cheese” will be more gritty than with silken tofu which is well…silky smooth! Then blend all the ingredients…you can add a little water to your blender if you do not have a powerful blender like the Vitamix. (we’re in love with our Vitamix! Whatever you do, never ask my husband about this blender, as you’ll never hear the end of it!) Pour this blended mixture onto macaroni pasta and stir. I sprinkled just a little bit of salt over the mac and cheese which made the flavors just pop! Please note that this is just a base recipe…feel free to add other things or take things out. Sometimes I add more carrots to this recipes to add more color, but I rarely make it the same way twice. Mmmm...I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Channa Masala in 10 minutes!

What do you do when you’ve just came back from the gym and are staaarving? Well, you make Channa Masala of course! Now, this is not Mama Raj’s way of making this meal, but I like short-cuts. For those of you who like to do things the long way, I’ll have a delicious recipe for you in the next while. Chickpeas are wonderful bean and super healthy for you. They are high in protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. Garbanzo beans (another word fro chickpeas) are a very versatile bean, and when in a hurry, I use them in soups, salads and even dips. 1 can chickpeas 1 tomato, chopped 1/4 onion, diced (you can use more if you like the taste of onions) 3 tsps Channa Masala Powder (you can find this item at Indian grocery stores) 1-2 tsp cumin powder 1/2 lemon, juiced handful of cilantro, finely chopped salt to taste This recipe is so easy! All you have to do is blend the onions and tomatoes until they are pureed. (BTW, when I don’t have any fresh tomatoes, I just use some tomato sauce!) Alternatively, you can dice the onion and tomato if you prefer a chunkier Channa Masala. Then I just pour this puree in a pan and heat it thoroughly on medium high heat for about 5 min. Then I add the spices and chickpeas and let it cook until much of the water in the puree has evaporated. On a side note, I find it saves me time to buy a variety of masalas (Indian spice mixtures) for various Indian dishes I enjoy. This takes the guess work out of the cooking process. Before I serve this dish, I squeeze a fresh lemon over the whole pan. Wow does this make the flavors pop! Imho, when I added lemon to this dish, it just made the flavors come to life, so don’t forget to do this! Lastly, I top the dish with some fresh cilantro. Since I am not at home in TO anymore where my parents make anything I ask them to, I just used some whole wheat pita bread instead of your typical Indian roti. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tastes of India: Mama Raj's Delights

As promised, this week I’m going to share Mama Raj’s wonderful Indian recipes. This chutney is my absolute favorite! I’ll eat it with anything I can get me hands on! Mama Raj once made what she called a “Indian Club Sandwich” with mint chutney and ever since I fell in love with it. She spreads the chutney on one side of the bread, the other has margarine (optional) and she then add slices of tomatoes. Oh it’s delightful! Whenever I make this chutney, I eat many many club sandwiches all day long! Maybe it’s nostalgic for me…but I think it’s more than just that. It’s a very unique flavor which may take getting used to, but I know you’ll enjoy it. My husband wasn’t sure about this at the very first bite, but the more bites he took, the more it grew on him and now we eat it often. I remember picking tons of mint leaves in our backyard garden for this chutney. Of course, nothing beats the flavor of fresh picked herbs! Mint is really easy to grow in the summer, but in colder weather there’s always the grocery store. Here are all the basic ingredients you need: 1 tomato 1/8-1/4 red onion 1 lemon, juiced 1 apple 1 bunch mint 1 handful of cilantro (optional) 4-5 chunks of mango (optional) salt and pepper (to taste) So all I do is blend everything in a blender with just a tiny bit of water. I have a very powerful blender, so I don’t need much water, but feel free to add more to make the ingredients blend better. Now you don’t need to follow my recipe, I never do! This chutney is always in a state of flux for me! I add different fruits for different flavors. (I usually like adding kiwi) Please experiment with this recipe and make it your own. That’s it, its done! You can eat this on the side with any Indian food as it always enhances the flavor for me…or you can make Indian Club Sandwiches from it as well…mmmmmm!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

When you just want it now!

So I got off the Greyhound bus about an hour ago and here I am blogging! I missed you all while I was gone…shout out to my sis Priya who helped pack my week with more meetings and projects I thought humanly possible! I went to Toronto to prepare for my wedding and I had all the right intentions to share more of Mama Raj’s cooking, but alas I had little time to myself amongst the chaos. I promise to make up for it and share more of Mama Raj’s recipes this week. As I was saying, I just got home and was staaarving! I opened our freezer and I found the perfect food to satisfy me while my pasta was being cooked: edamame. I knew that I had to just blog about it really quickly. So I went went to work cooking and taking pictures of it…see how much I love y’all? I didn’t even unpack my bags and here I am writing on my Mac as I scarf down my edamame. Edamame is the whole soybean pod and the inner beans are eaten as a delicacy in Asian countries. According to the USDA: When cooked and lightly salted, the pea-like beans inside "vegetable" soybeans make a protein-rich addition to salads, casseroles, soups, snacks, mixed or stir-fried vegetables and other foods. 6 cups of water 1 package of Edamame (in most frozen foods sections of grocery stores) Optional Sauce: 2 tsp of black fig vinegar (or any flavored vinegar could work) 1 Tbsp shoyu sauce (Japanese name for soy sauce…the brand San-J makes a wonderful shoyu) Once the water is boiling, cook the edamame for about 4 minutes. Drain and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process (if it is cooked longer the bean will be mushy... some people like that, but I like my beans a little on the firmer side). Now you can eat just like that (I had to stop myself from eating it all as I cooled it over the sink!) or sprinkle some salt over the pods. I decided to experiment with a light sauce and it was great! If you are used eating salted edamame, try it with the sauce above. That’s it for now…time for unpacking!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Exotic Food from an Exotic Land: Mama Raj's Rajma

Here is the debut of my Mama Raj. She’s an awesome cook and I learned a lot about making great food from her. I can’t say I always appreciated her pressure to make me roll out perfectly round rotis (Indian wheat tortillas) or her attention to detail in every aspect of the meal preparation. However, years later I can look back and appreciate her efforts in helping me become a good Indian house wife (not!). Today’s dish is just as yummy as it looks…Rajma (curried red kidney beans ) has a robust flavor and the beans seem to melt in your mouth. How can a bean melt in your mouth…I don’t know how, but these totally do (excuse me as I wipe drool off my keyboard…ya, it’s that good!) Once you try it, you’ll eat it everyday! Believe me, given a chance, my brother will eat Rajma for breakfast, lunch and dinner if we let him! It’s like a bowl of divine ecstasy for him…he’ll go on and on about it so this is why I’m not asking him to write this blog!

The wonderful thing about this dish is that red kidney beans are very high in iron, folate, protein and anti-oxidants…so you can’t go wrong eating this for every meal (if you chose to) So here is my mom. She's hardly ever used a computer let alone written a blog... (enter mom)
1 cup Red Kidney beans, dry or 1 can cooked 1 medium onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 large tomato, diced Seasonings: salt, cayenne pepper, and garam masala to taste I soaked one cup of red kidney beans in four cups of water over night and pressure cooked it for 20 minutes. As the beans were cooking, I sautéed the onions and garlic in a little bit of canola oil. Once the onions are browned, add the seasonings and diced tomato in it and sauté it for 5 more minutes. Then add 1/4 cups of water and cook for 5 more minutes until it becomes a thick sauce. Mix this sauce with the cooked red kidney beans and add one tea spoon of garam masala and salt to taste. You can add a touch of cayenne pepper to lift up the taste of the dish but Sangeeta loves it mild. So enjoy. Easy……..Rajma goes very good with any kind of rice. This time I made rice pullouve. I heat one tea spoon of olive oil in a large pot and add one teaspoon of cumin seeds and 10 black peppercorns. Let it splitter in the pot (5 seconds is enough to let the seeds pop) and then add rice. Mix it up and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Throw in some frozen peas or mix veggies to boost the vitamin content. Now add 1 1/2 cups of water and bring it to boil. When it boils, bring the heat to low and let it cook for 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat but let the pot stay on the stove for five more minutes. Voila, a delicious meal is ready. Your family will be happy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Powered by Seitan

Who says creating beautiful food takes hours? I whipped up this meal in about 15 min. Adding color to a dish can make it go from a “drab to fab” fairly easily. This picture above is steamed rainbow chard surrounded with some seitan (wheat gluten) The seasonings I used were very minimal, however it is bursting with natural flavor! For those of you who have not had the privilege of eating seitan, no it’s not food from the devil, it’s actually created out of wheat flour and is used as a meat substitute in many Asian restaurants. It has a meaty texture and the great thing about it is that is easily picks up the flavors you put on it. You can find this product at many health food and Asian grocery stores. Here is how I made this dish: 1 bunch Rainbow Chard 1 package of Seitan 2-4 tsp. of Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Blackened Redfish Seasoning 1 Tbsp Shoyu Sauce Chop the seitan in bite sized pieces. Spray a nonstick pan with canola oil and sauté the seitan with the Magic Redfish Seasoning. Once the seitan is lightly browned, put the seitan aside. Then lightly steam rainbow chard for a few minutes. (If you'd like, you can eat this dish with some type of grain on the side.) To make the dish look like it does above, all you need to do is put a mound of chard in the middle of a plate and place the seitan around the chard and pour some shoyu sauce on the chard for light flavoring. That’s it! What a simple, elegant and healthy meal!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Trippin' In Style: Food for Long Drives

Long drives can be so...well... looong unless you bring a lot of fun things to do and lots of yummy food. Well, that's what I intend to do for my trip to Toronto tomorrow! I am traveling with my husband and his mom for a fun weekend in Canada. We've got a lot of shopping to do for our second wedding in Toronto (we already had one in Ohio and we just can't get enough!) and I'll have plenty to report on while I'm there. Back to you know how I like things done fast...well today is no different. I was actually thinking of taking PB&Js along for the ride, but it started to sound a bit boring. Then my mother-in-law suggested making P&BJs in a tortilla with some walnuts and raisins! Now, we're talking! Fast, easy and yummy. When I went out to buy peanut butter, I saw something called Soy Nut Butter. Ooo, something I haven't tried before! So, of course, I bought some. Here is it pictured below. It looks just like peanut butter, but many people are allergic to it and it's so overdone! I put a twist on the original ideas and put soy nut butter on a whole grain tortilla, then I spread some banana instead of jam (oh the creative juices are flowin'!), then I cut up some apples and sprinkled them over the banana spread and topped it off with raisins. Soy Good Roll-Ups 4 Tortillas soy nut butter (or peanut butter) to taste 1 banana 1 apple, diced into tiny pieces handful of raisins Once all the ingredients are in the tortilla, here is how you roll it up: I figured a graphical representation would be more food for thought than my going on and on about how to roll the darn thing! As you can see above, I'm not stopping here. I bought some Tazo teas, cliff bars, fruit and my roll ups. This should be a delicious and healthy way to cross the border into dangerous and foreign lands. (I'm trying to spice up the trip!) Anyhow, wish me luck and don't think I've forgotten about my readers! I'll have some tasty Indian recipes for you while I'm in Momma's homemade Indian food!'s gonna make you want to move in with her! She has plenty of space and loves to teach people to cook...hmm sounds familiar... it's all in my genes, I just can't help it! :)

A Taste of Japan

Have you ever wanted to go to Asia but didn’t have the time or money? Well, don’t you worry because today, we’ll bring Asia to you! In this post, I’m going to write about a soup that is a Japanese staple and so easy to prepare. Today, I needed to clean out the refrigerator which was full of little odds and ends. When this happens, it’s time for miso soup! Wait till you try this soup, you’ll make it everyday! Believe me homemade miso soup is way better than ones you find in many Asian restaurants…ya those bland soups with 2 pieces of lonely tofu floating on top and maybe 4 or 5 piece of green onions. Forget about that soup…it’s old news, history…have you forgotten yet? Good, let’s move on! This soup is so easy you can honestly use ANY left over veggies in ANY proportion. Here is what I did, but by all means, please experiment. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to miso soup: 4 carrots, finely sliced 1 bunch kale, chopped 1 tomato, chopped 5 green onions, chopped (or to taste) 1 package of soba noodles (optional but it adds a robust flavor) 2-4 Tbsp Mellow White Miso Cook the carrots in about 4 cups of water until slightly tender and then add the rest of the veggies. (ok..that’s not what I did! I just threw all the veggies in a pot and cooked them until they were tender…but I’m lazy, so don’t listen to me!) I don’t really measure the water content of miso soup because it’s totally up to you if you want it to be a thin or thick soup. In a separate pot, boil about 3-4 cups of water and add the soba noodles. (or follow the direction on the soba noodle package) I cook the noodles for about 4-5 min only. Soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour and are a very light and “earthy” tasting noodle. Once they are cooked, transfer the noodles into the pot with the veggie soup and add more water if you need to. I actually added about half the noodle water to the soup. You could be super efficient, or super lazy (depends on how you look at life) and cook the noodles in the soupy water with the veggies. I thought of that later…otherwise, that’s something I totally would have done and it would’ve saved me washing a pot. After the noodles are done, I let the veggies and noodles simmer for about 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, take out your Mellow White Miso (this has a “mellow” miso taste and is slightly sweet…it’s a great miso to use if you are not familiar with this product.) I add a few tablespoons of miso with about the same amount of water and mix it with a fork until it looks like a sauce. Then I pour the soup in a bowl and add the miso to the soup. (warning: do not cook the miso as it’ll destroy some of it’s delicate enzymes) Add a little miso sauce to the soup until you get the desired taste. I love miso, so I put a lot in my soups…but the amount you use it totally up to you. Miso soup is so wonderful and easy to make that I hope it’ll become a staple in your home just as it has become in mine. Wait! There’s more! Miso has great health benefits you should know about. According to Dr.Weil’s site: Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans, and is full of antioxidants like vitamin E, as well as protective fatty acids. It's healthful and delicious, and the Japanese say that the linoleic acid in miso promotes soft skin. The soybeans miso is made from also contain isoflavones and other elements that provide protection against some forms of cancer. To preserve these properties, miso should not be boiled. Add it to a soup after it has been removed from direct heat. There you have it…a perfect meal in the perfect amount of time! And you don’t have to get jet lag to experience a taste of Asia!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fresh Asparagus: A Quick & Easy Sauté

Have you ever had a night where you just want a simple elegant meal with no fuss, and no mess? After watching another tear-filled episode of Oprah’s Big Give (it’s kind of like Apprentice, but here contestants are judged on the merits of their giving) I was in the “no fuss, no mess” zone. I opened the fridge and saw a lonely bag of asparagus needing to be eaten. Hmm...what to do with it? I opened The Garden of Vegan cookbook and found what looked like a fairly easy recipe. A quick glance at the the ingredients, got an inspiration, and then promptly put the book away. (recipe books tend to inspire me to make things, but I’m not big on following recipes…must be my rebellious nature;)) With a vision in mind I got ready to make a yummy meal. Firstly, I got ready to blanch the asparagus for a few minutes. If you’ve never done it before, don’t worry, it’s super easy! Blanching 101 According to Wikipedia: Blanching is a cooking term that describes a process of food preparation wherein the food substance, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocked) to halt the cooking process. I put the asparagus in boiling water for about 3 min. Now, I made a mistake…I was in such a rush to eat that I didn’t peel the outer skin of the asparagus. If you want the vegetable to be really soft and easy to bite into, then take a veggie peeler and lightly take off the outer skin of the asparagus. It has a lot of cellulose in it so it tends to be tough. In my kitchen, there are no wrong decisions, so the choice is yours. 1 bunch asparagus 1-2 sprays of canola oil (or enough to coat pan) 2 garlic cloves 1 small handful of parsley, chopped 1-2 green onions (just the top green part) salt & pepper to taste While the asparagus was cooking, I minced the garlic cloves and lightly fried them with 2 sprays of canola oil, I like my food to be low fat, so I spray oil onto my pan so that it spreads out evenly and I end up using less oil. I then added parsley and some green onions and sautéed them as well. Halfway through the process, I added a few tablespoons of water and sautéed the veggies. (basically it’s like using oil, but you just pretend that the water is oil…just use your imagination!) As soon as the asparagus was blanched, I added it to the garlic mixture and cooked it with the rest of the flavors for a few more minutes. At this point, you can add salt and pepper to taste and it’s ready to eat! The food was so good that after I ate what you saw in the picture above, my husband quickly gulped down the rest of the asparagus. When I went for seconds, there was none left! Beware of hungry people finishing off this meal before you. So don't be shy...go ahead and pile on the asparagus before it piles into someone else's stomach!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mix, Stir and Pour…Pancakes in a Hurry!

Our every weekend seems to be jam packed with things to do and catch up on. Preparing an elaborate brunch is usually not high on our list of things to accomplish. Enter delicious and easy buckwheat pancakes. Before you tune out and turn your nose at the idea of whole-grain pancakes, please read on with an open mind. Buckwheat is actually not related to wheat, but rhubarb! According to Dr. Weil’s site it is very high in nutrients: Nutritionally, buckwheat provides vitamins B1 and B2, the minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphate and iron (buckwheat contains more iron than cereal grains), and it has nearly twice the amount of the amino acid lysine found in rice. Buckwheat bran (farinetta) contains rutin, a flavonoid known to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and maintain the strength and flexibility of capillaries. A recently discovered compound in buckwheat called fagopyritol seems to have potential to help manage type II diabetes. Now that our nutrition lesson is over, let’s get going and whip up some amazing pancakes. This is actually my husband’s way of making pancakes. He doesn't like spending time in the kitchen, so he takes all the short cuts when cooking. Imho it doesn’t always pay off (he would disagree!) but this shortcut works well. So what we do is buy Arowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake and Waffle Mix to save time. You can find this in many grocery and health foods stores. There is actually a recipe on the back which you can use if you like your pancakes extra fluffy. But what we do is waaaay simple! Derek’s No-Hassle Buckwheat Pancakes 1 cup of Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake Mix 1 cup (approx) soy milk Slowly pour the soy milk into the pancake mix until you get the desired consistency. If you like your batter thicker, add less liquid, and if you like it a tad bit runny, add more.. Spray a little canola oil onto a non-stick pan, and pour the pancake batter. Then wait tell the bottom of the pancake is lightly cooked and then flip it over until the other side is fully cooked. Serve immediately with bananas, strawberries, walnuts, and agave nectar. (BTW, agave nectar is a great sweetener which can be high in minerals and low on the glycemic index) If you have a “no-hassle’ pancake recipe you enjoy, send them my way as I’d love to try them!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Finally…A Dessert That’s Not Deadly!

Are you craving ice cream but need to lock your freezer door to keep yourself away from this deadly dessert? Well, you can now hire a lock cutter, because I’ve got some news for you! What if I told you that you can now eat ice cream that’s actually good for you? No, I’m not crazy, I’m just resourceful! :) There are now brands of ice cream made of soy which have all the flavor and none of the cholesterol. Really…I’m not joking! Take a look at that picture above, does that look bad for you? Well, it does, but it’s not! This is a Green Tea ice cream made by Soy Delicious my absolute favorite brand of ice cream. They have flavors like Cherry Nirvana, Cookie Avalanche, Rocky Road and on and on. I have to warn you that the Green Tea flavor is very “earthy unique” and won’t be for everyone. So where can you find this soy goodness? Most grocery stores will have soy ice cream. Tofutti is the brand that is most available around the country. But if you go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you’ll be in soy ice cream heaven. I’ve seen people look like zombies staring into the ice cream freezer. Their brains freeze looking at all the amazing flavors and choices they have with absolutely NO guilt! (actually, I haven’t really seen that happen, but I’ve been one of those zombies myself, so I know the experience!) Who says eating healthy can’t be fun, delicious and beautiful?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We Be Yammin’!

Why eat yams (i.e sweet potatoes)? Because they are full of nutrients. So much so that some call it a super food. According to Dr.Weil they are low on the glycemic index and should be eaten more often than just on holidays. The following simple recipe comes from Candle Café’s Cookbook. It’s a great cookbook full of gourmet and sometimes really simple recipes like this one I tweaked. (You’ll notice I rarely ever follow recipes) This is apparently one of the most ordered appetizers at the café, and once you try it, you’ll know why! Mashed Yams 2 red garnet yams (or any sweet potato variety) 1/2 Tbsp mellow white miso 2 Tbsp maple syrup 1/4 tsp. cinnamon Please note that I’ve just approximated the proportions. This combination is so lovely, that I don’t think you can really go wrong so play with it! I cut up the yams into 8 pieces each and wrapped them into foil and baked at 350 for about 45 minutes or until tender. Then I began to peel them and almost got my fingers burnt! I didn’t have the patience to let them cool so I ran them under cold water so that I could bare to hold them. I then mashed the potatoes and mixed the rest of the ingredients and made a quick sauce of it. Then I poured the miso sauce into the potatoes and mixed it well. Make sure you eat it warm as it tastes best this way...I was too busy taking pictures of this dish (as seen above) that I lost track of time and ended up with a cold meal, but it was still great! Enjoy!

Quinoa “Mongolian BBQ” Style

Today, I was up for a really quick meal and I realized that we only had a little bit of red quinoa and “normal” quinoa left in the pantry. So we decided to mix them together. Since today was the day my husband and I are suppose to make our dinner together, I gave him the duty of making the quinoa since it was easy. (oh and I got him to clean all the dishes too.. wohooo!) Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a very light grain that is very high in protein. If you’ve never had quinoa before, it is a great replacement for rice and it has a unique nutty flavor. It’s like no other grain! Since I was feeling lazy (what else is new?) I decided to just make a simple quinoa salad Mongolian BBQ style. For those of you who have never been to this restaurant, basically you just pick a bunch of veggies, sauces and other toppings at a buffet table and give it to a chef who cooks it right before your eyes. So inspired by this concept, I put all these ingredients below out on our counter and we picked the ingredients we wanted and mixed it with quinoa. I used all of the ingredients as I thought they all went well together. It made a delicious salad! So next time you want to prepare a quick meal, take some quinoa and load up on some veggies and some of the sauces I’ve suggested in the diagram below, and most likely you won’t go wrong. 1 cup quinoa 2 cups water or veggie broth Wash the quinoa at least twice to get the naturally occurring coating off the grain. This coating can make the quinoa really bitter. I remember spitting out the grain when I first tired cooking it! Believe me you don’t want to make that same mistake! Then, boil the quinoa with water and when it starts to boil, lower the temperature to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until you get the desired consistency. (some people like it crunchy and others like myself, like it well cooked) If you are always on the go, then the next time you are making quinoa (or any grain for that matter) make double the amount and freeze the extra. Then, when you are in a hurry, you’ll have a great base for any meal.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Vinaigrette for Everyday Use!

Firstly, I'd like to give a shout out to my dear friend Robin Robertson who just came out with a wonderful new book called "Vegan Fire and Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes." I recommend any of her cookbooks as she just has a knack for making awesome food! (I've been honored to have a few meals at her house..and let's just say, they had to kick me out of their house because I wouldn't leave...ok it didn't really happen that way, but I fantasized about living in her kitchen!) Anyhow, I wanted to make something fast and easy with ingredients that I already had in the fridge. So I tried this wonderful Thai Lime Vinaigrette and poured it over a bed of baby lettuce topped with lightly sauteed tofu, steamed broccoli and carrots.

This statue is of the Buddhist
goddess of compassion, Kwan-Yin
Here is the recipe from "Vegan Fire and Spice" Thai Lime Vinaigrette 1/2 c fresh lime juice 2 Tbsp soy sauce 3 Tbsp agave nectar (or brown sugar) 1 clove garlic clove, crushed 1 crushed dried red Thai chile, or 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (I just used a pinch of cayenne pepper) Whisk all the ingredients and drizzle over any salad or steamed veggies. We like to keep a box of pre-washed baby lettuce or baby spinach on hand at all times. Being working professionals, we don't always have the luxury of time, so this makes eating healthy quick and easy. You must try this recipe! It's so easy and so delicious!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Smoothies 101: A Fresh Start to the Day

Wow! This is my very first blog entry. So, in honor of new beginnings, I thought I'd share with you the wonderfully delicious way I begin my day--smoothies. I can live on smoothies! They are a great way for me to get a lot of my nutrients for the day and receive a boost of energy to keep on going. They take less than 5 minutes to make and I'm not joking! When I used to walk to work each day, I was always running behind schedule...but I definitely had 5 mins to make my morning elixir! So here are the basics that I use most every time:

  • Base Fruit (i like to use bananas or mangoes for a creamy base)
  • Frozen Fruit (i like to use blueberries since they are super high in anti-oxidants)
  • Liquid (you can use juice, soy or rice milk, or even water)
  • Flax Seeds (they are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids essential for brain and other bodily functions)
  • Greens (this is optional but I like to put a big handful of spinach because you can hardly taste the "green" flavor, and you get so many added benefits from this powerhouse food)
  • Nutritional Boost (this is optional as can use green powders or vitamin powers to add an extra "umph!")
Looks complicated? No way! Once you get the hang of it, it only takes minutes. Here is a very very basic recipe I have taught in past cooking classes. Blueberry Smoothie 1 banana (base) 1/2c frozen blueberries 1 cup (approx) soy milk 1 Tbsp flax seeds (optional) That's it! Some of you might be thinking, "She's crazy! I can't make that in 5 minutes!" Go ahead try it...and tell me what you think. Once you get the hang of this, you can begin to add other fruits, juices etc. But that's for another day... Now regarding where to get some of the other ingredients. If you live near a Trader Joe's (go ahead google it, and come right back) you can get lots of cheap frozen organic fruit. I have not found better prices than Trader Joe's. If you don't have one nearby, then stock up on frozen fruit from your local grocery store. I used to live near a grocery store which would have big sales on frozen fruit every few months. I filled my whole cart with frozen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and peaches. I am sure that everyone around me thought I was crazy, but hey, that's the price you've gotta pay sometimes! You can also get soy milk from your local grocery store's dairy section. Soy milk can take some getting used to, but I fell in love with it the first day I tried it. (I cradled my first box of Eden Soy on the bus home from high school 15 years ago!...I couldn't stop reading the honestly this is true!...I know I'm a dork! ) So, try it with an open mind. Silk soy milk, is the most popular brand out there, but try some different brands until you find the one you love. (it's just like buying any brand of cereal, some you hate and some you love) The other ingredients like flax seeds and nutritional powders can be found most grocery stores, but I usually get mine at Whole Foods. Contact me if you want a list of the products I use. Oh, and you'll of course need a blender. Now, you can buy one from Target for $20, but I suggest investing in a much better quality blender. I've gone through many cheap blenders that have burnt out on me. I don't want that to happen to you. I'm not going to scare you away by telling you how much I spent on my new blender, but I'll definitely talk about it more in an advanced smoothie making post. My last piece of advice is: be creative! You can not go wrong with me on this one! My husband makes smoothies all the time for midday snacks...and he learned pretty quickly how to get good it. I'll stop writing now so that you can run out and get your ingredients for your morning smoothie. Please tell me how it goes. I'd love to know! Oh and one more thing (I can go on and on about this stuff!) here is a video of Dr. Gregor making a flax smoothie and explaining the medical benefits of some of the ingredients I've recommended. Happy drinking to y'all!