Delicious Duo: Lean Eggplant Parmesean and Kale Pesto

 kale pesto,  eggplant  parmesan 
Classics are classics for a reason – they work! But adaptions can be awesome too as long as the soul of the dish is preserved. I am no Italian nonna and cannot claim to have the same touch but I think I pay a handsome tribute to the original with my Eggplant Parmesan-kale pesto combo.

For my Eggplant Paremesean, 

I used the long slender eggplants that are commonly referred to as Japanese eggplants here in Canada and in the United States. I cut them into scallops, with a half inch depth. I used two eggplants and needed two eggs and two slices of bread for the breading.

Breading: 

Beat two eggs in a bowl. Submerge the eggplant discs in the bowl so as to coat them with a layer of egg. Pulse two slices of bread with three tablespoons of grated Parmesean cheese, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of dried basil or oregano. Spread the crumbs onto a clean flat surface and gently press the eggplant discs against them such that all surfaces are coated with the seasoned crumbs. Collect the coated eggplant pieces in a plate. 

Heat a skillet, preferably non-stick, and coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil reaches an optimal temperature, pan fry the eggplant discs in three patches. When one side becomes brown and crisps, flip to fry the other side. Medium flame allows for the inside of the cutlets to cook well.

Once the Eggplant Parmesan is ready, soak in an Italian tomato sauce of your choice. I made one with olive oil, handful of chopped onion, basil, a small pod of galic, three steak tomatoes, salt and pepper. Steak tomatoes have a lot of seeds so if you are not pulsing with a blender in the end, use Roma tomatoes. 

kale pesto, eggplant parmesan 
Kale pesto:

Using kale instead of the more popular basil, mint, parsley or spinach is a genius move Imao 😀. Of course, I cannot claim to come up with it but I am rather pleased to announce that it’s pairing with eggplant Parmesan had a very high dining vibe to it.

Here’s a kale walnut pesto recipe that is almost identical to what I did. I hope you love the depth of its flavour do.

Kale is also a nutritional powerhouse. Here are some of its benifits.

I used this awesome pesto and Eggplant duo with both whole wheat pasta and toast and found resounding success. Let me know if the formula works for you!

Aloo Gobhi: Peasant Food for Your Soul

On a day-to-day basis, its not gourmet gimmickry that we seek. No amount of molecular gastronomy can match a mother’s loving hands that source from tradition, experience and love to concoct dishes that build sweet sweet memories.

Aloo gobhi is one such traditional classic, a hearty curry that delights both tastebuds and the heart. If you are Indian, use this recipe as a ticket home. And if you are not, experience the warmth that is North India through this one-pot vegetarian dish that has become so popular around the world.

 

To 4-5 servings,

You will need:

Two medium-sized potatoes, boiled and cubed

Three medium-sized tomatoes, diced fine

One onion, chopped fine

Half a large cauliflower or three-fourth a small one, in florets

Oil

Spices – a teaspoon of cumin seeds, one bay leaf, one pod of cardamom, two cloves, a small stick of cinnamon, a pinch of mace powder

One tablespoon ginger-garlic paste ( I use chopped fresh ginger and garlic of an equivalent amount)

Handful of raisins 

Salt

Red chilli powder – half a teaspoon or a tad more

Corriander powder -half a teaspoon

Garam masala – quarter teaspoon

Turmeric powder – a pinch

A splash of lemon

A handful of cilantro / Corriander leaves for garnish

Method of preparation:

Boil the potatoes in a pot so that they are cooked but not mushy. Peel the potatoes after running cold water over them. 

Place a skillet on a stove and coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Add in the the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Once the aroma develops, add in the chopped onions and, ginger and garlic. Once the onions soften and turn translucent, add in the tomatoes, half a teaspoon of salt, Corriander powder, chilli powder and turmeric stir. Put a lid on and let a sauce develelop on a medium to low flame. Stir in upto half a cup of water into the sauce while cooking. Pick the amount according to the consistency you want. Meanwhile, microwave the cauliflower florets, with a lid on, for five minutes in a microwave.

Once the tomatoes cook down, add in the boiled cubed potatoes and raisins. Stir. Then add in the cauliflower and cook over low heat for 10 mins with a lid on. Taste, adjust for salt and spice. Add in a splash of lemon juice. Stir and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with rice, Indian flat breads or regular bread.

Thanksgiving: healthy gift baskets

By Shalini Kolluri

 

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This holiday season I have decided to combine my passion for healthy vegan food with my love for making fun goody baskets!

People are often surprised when they hear that I prefer vegan food. If only I had a nickel for every time someone asked me where I got my protein!!

Did you know that most powerful animals on the planet: the bull, elephant, giraffe, rhino, hippo, etc., are all herbivores. Also consider that the biggest dinosaurs, the ones who outlived the others, were mostly herbivores. Have you ever heard of a person who is protein deficient, other than in third world countries where they do not have access to nutrient rich foods – or food in general – on a daily basis? No.

Vegans are in no way threatened by protein deficiency. If they ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily take in more than enough protein.

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and gaining a few extra pounds. No…I’m not trying to be a kill joy asking you to forsake all your favorite munchies, just trying to promote healthy ways to satisfy your holiday cravings.

This Thanksgiving I have decided to give all of my friends and family gift baskets that contain wholesome healthy vegan snacks. Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds! This is a great gift for someone who leads a healthy lifestyle.

I started this project one week ago. First, I bought some really fun baskets which were sturdy enough at a florist’s near my house. Make sure they aren’t flimsy as they have to support some weight. I also bought some festive ribbons to go with it. The green and yellow ones I chose go nicely with the earthy baskets that I had picked out.

I decided to put these healthy goodies into my baskets-

Green tea sachets:-

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I’m a green tea fanatic, and have tried over 40 different varieties. It keeps me energized and wanting more. Coffee works, but at the cost of digestive issues, acidity and a dehydrated “run-down”, stressed out feeling.

Green tea’s antioxidants, small amounts of caffeine and theanines promote a feeling of relaxation as well as stamina, and you can drink several cups without feeling stressed out and jittery (i.e the over-caffeinated syndrome from coffee). This tea (Yogi – Blue berry slim life) not only helps control my appetite and helps me to bounce around all day without getting tired. The light and sweet blueberry flavor and hints of organic hibiscus add brightness and heavenly fruity flavor.

Coconut water:-

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Professional tennis player John Isner credits coconut water with keeping him on his feet for his epic 11-hour marathon Wimbledon tennis win. “It is super hydrating and has kept me going in long matches and prevented me from cramping even in the hottest and most humid conditions,” Isner said.

It is mostly just water, packed with potassium, low in calories and contains cytokinins. Science has confirmed cytokinins slow down the development of cancer, plus they slow down the aging. What’s not to love, right?

Ground cumin:-

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It is an herb that many associate with Mexican, Indian and Spanish foods, but it is also widely used in Middle Eastern and American fusion recipes. Cumin seeds have traditionally been noted to be of benefit to the digestive system, and scientific research is beginning to bear out cumin’s age-old reputation. Research has shown that cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation!

Flax seeds:-

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Finding creative ways to add flax seeds to your meals can be a challenge. One popular technique is to incorporate ground flax seeds into your muffin, cookie, or bread recipes. I prefer snacking on toasted flax seeds when I’m in the mood for something crunchy.

One of the most extraordinary benefits of flax seeds is that they contain high levels of mucilage gum content.  Mucilage is a gel-forming fiber that is water soluble and has incredible benefits on the intestinal tract. Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings.

You should aim to consume 30-40 g of fiber daily.

They are rich in omega-3-fatty acids and keep heart problems and  menopausal symptoms at bay.

LUNA Bar: Caramel Nut Brownie:-

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It’s mouthwatering flavors combine the finest ingredients with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is:-

  • Gluten Free
  • Made with 70% organic ingredients
  • Has low Glycemic

Hope you enjoy the upcoming holidays and find creative ways to stay healthy and have fun!!

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cauliflower-lime

By Shalini Kolluri

So simple, so tasty, so easy. I first discovered this yummy recipe awhile back when I was in the mood for something that satisfies my craving for authentic Indian food that was also easy to make.

You’ll want to include cauliflower as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by this vegetable family.

The five fold benefit of consuming cauliflower regularly:-

Anti- oxidant properties:-As an excellent source of vitamin C, and a very good source of manganese, cauliflower provides us with two core conventional antioxidants.

The detox support it provides:-   The reason it’s so important to bring cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables into our diet on a regular basis is that it provides the detox system adequate nutritional support as we continue to expose ourselves to unwanted toxins through our lifestyle and our dietary choices.

Anti-inflammatory benefit:-As an excellent source of vitamin K, cauliflower provides us with one of the hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Cardiac Health:- The anti-inflammatory support provided by cauliflower (including its vitamin K and omega-3 content) makes it a food also capable of providing cardiovascular benefits.

Digestive health:- The fiber content of cauliflower—over 9 grams in every 100 calories—makes this  vegetable a great choice for digestion.

Hope you enjoy this recipe.

Ingredients:-

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2 tablespoons canola oil

A head of cauliflower (washed and broken into pieces)

1 green chili (chopped)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/4 cup cilantro ( washed and chopped)

5-6 curry leaves (optional)

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

Method:-

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high

Add in the mustard

Once the seeds start to splutter, add in the curry leaves and fry them.

Add in the cauliflower and stir.

Let the pieces cook for a 8-9 minutes till they start turning a little brown.

Stir in the salt, cilantro and cayenne.

After the pieces become tender, turn off the heat.

Add in the lemon juice and stir. Serve with hot rice / bread.

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vegan vodka sauce and pasta

By Shalini Kolluri

Tomatoes were introduced in Italy in the early 16th century but they were thought to be poisonous. The French, however appreciated tomatoes calling them “pomme d’amour” (meaning love apples). Colonists took tomatoes where ever they went. Technically tomatoes are fruits since they grew on vines.

Tomatoes have a rich flavor, high liquid content, a supple texture and a sweet sour taste which breaks down easily, and enhances every dish it is added to. This is one fruit you do not want to leave out of your diet. It can reverse about a dozen conditions if eaten daily.

According to Tufts and Boston University researchers, the highest average intakes of lycopene were linked to almost a 30% reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, respectively, according to findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Tomatoes can reduce the amount of damage done to your body by smoking cigarettes or inhaling second hand smoke. The coumeric acid works to protect the body from carcinogens that are produced from cigarette smoke. Rich tomato components fight acne and help your skin glow.

This vodka sauce is rich with cashews and also has a sharp, bright flavor from the vodka and cayenne, it’s the kind of sauce that’s not only comforting in the cold weather but makes you think of summer.

Ingredients:-

2 lbs plum tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

1-2 garlic cloves, whole peeled and crushed

1 cup shallots sliced

¼ spoon cayenne

½ cup vodka

¼ cup raw cashews

1 teaspoon oregano

¼ cup Cashew milk

12 ounces whole wheat penne (cooked)

Method:-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss 1 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Place the garlic, if using, on the baking sheet. Roast 30 to 40 minutes, or until the skins have popped and are starting to brown in spots.

Let the tomatoes cool, then add them to the juicer. Squeeze garlic pulp into the blender add ½ teaspoon salt and cashews. Puree till smooth.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet, over medium heat. Add shallots, sauté till tender.

Remove from the heat. Add tomato puree, cayenne powder and vodka.

Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Add in the cashew milk and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Test taste, and sprinkle in more salt.

Stir in the oregano and mix.

Black olives sliced (to garnish)

Add in the pasta.

 

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Curry in a Hurry: Eggs

 egg curry, indian egg curry, best egg curry 
All of us need those dishes we can whip up in a hurry so that we can go on with the crazy business of living. And one way to do that is to boil eggs, while watching TV, over the weekends and storing them in the fridge to use in sandwiches, salads, curries, etc that are easy to fix on busy weekday evenings.

The egg curry I make with boiled eggs is super simple, way less complex than some of the other egg curries that involve the entire pantheon of spices of or creamers such as coconut milk or dairy.

To make a curry with 10 boiled eggs,

You will need:

10 eggs, boiled and de-shelled

One medium sized onion, chopped

One teaspoon of chill-garlic paste. (Feel free to use either garlic or ginger if you prefer)

Three medium-sized tomatoes, diced fine

Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds

One teaspoon of red chilli powder

One teaspoon of coriander powder

Salt to taste

A few springs of coriander leaves, chopped (for garnish)

Oil – vegetable or canola

Method of preparation:

Coat the bottom of the skillet with oil and heat slightly. Add in the cumin seeds. Once the aroma develops, stir and add in the onions and ginger-garlic. Stir occasionally and cook till the onions become translucent. Add in the diced tomatoes, put on a lid and cook till a thick sauce develops.

At this stage, add in the salt, chilli powder and coriander powder. Toss in the eggs, stir and cook over medium flame for 5 mins. Taste, adjust for salt / spice. Garnish with coriander leaves / cilantro. 

Serve with rice or breads.


Soulful and Soupy: Veggie Chili

A warm soup on a cold day – pretty much how heaven must feel! As an omnivore, chili is my fave because because it of its depth of flavours, chunkiness and ability to constitute a full-fledged meal.

Of course most traditionalists would scorn at chili without beef but veggie chilies are fast becoming the rage and for good reason — meaty veggies such as mushrooms and butternut squash, coupled with a well-spiced bean broth could get a carnivore lining up for seconds.

Here’s a super simple no-fuss recipe I follow that is a hit with both my baby and baby daddy: 

For four large meal-sized servings,

You will need:

One cup of red kidney beans, soaked and cooked (you could use canned)

Two cups of chopped veggies – butternut squash, beans, mushrooms, corn

Half an onion, chopped

Two small pods of garlic, chopped fine

Two tomatoes, diced 

Oil

Salt 

Hot sauce

Cumin powder – one teaspoon

Handful of cilantro / coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

Handful of grated cheese of choice for garnish

Baked tortilla chips, also for garnish  (optional)

Chopped green onions for garnish (optional)

Water

Method of preparation: 

Coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Add on the onions and garlic. Once the onions cook to translucence, add in the diced tomatoes. Put the lid on and let the tomatoes cook down into a sauce. For this, medium flame is ideal and occasional stirring necessary.

Once the tomatoes cook down, add in the veggies and a cup of water and cook with a lid on. After about 20 mins, add in the cooked kidney beans with about a cup of the water they cooked in. Season with salt? hot sauce and cumin. Cook with lid over a low flame for 2o mins. If you wish for a thinner sauce, add in some water. Also, taste adjust for salt and spice.

Garnish with any or all of the following: chopped coriander leaves, chopped green onions, grated cheese and baked tortilla chips.  If you wish to bulk up the meal, add in some cooked rice.  

Ayurveda : the goodness of turmeric

By Shalini Kolluri

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My grandma used to say that there was nothing this golden spice couldn’t do. Coming from India, turmeric was used as a home remedy for almost every little ailment. It made frequent appearances in curries, soups and herbal ointments. Initially, I detested this spice as it is the source of some of the most stubborn stains I have seen in my life. However, this wonder spice has grown on me over the years. If used carefully and appropriately, you couldn’t have a healthier ingredient in your kitchen.

Turmeric powder in ayurveda is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Spices,’ its main characteristics are its unique aroma, a sharp taste and a golden-yellow color.

According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric has been used as a substitute for saffron (an old world spice) in Europe for over 700 years. One of the main healthful  chemical in turmeric is curcumin (a curcuminoid), which gives turmeric its yellow color. Western scientists first isolated the curcumin molecule in 1815, obtained its crystalline form in 1870, and determined its overall structure in 1910.

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Turmeric is native to South Asia, particularly India, but has been cultivated in many warm regions of the world such as – Indochina, Peru, Haiti, Sri Lanka and Jamaica. Peru is the leading exporter and Iran is the largest importer of this spice.

Besides being a coloring and flavoring agent in Indian food, it has numerous medicinal applications in Ayurveda since 5,000 years. It has 46 different synonyms in the Indian languages, including: ‘pitta’ (yellow), ‘Gauri’ (brilliant), and many other words.

It has been shown to treat skin, heart, and liver and lung conditions. In the same vein, they’re thermogenic, meaning they naturally support your metabolism to help you burn calories. You feel satisfied more easily, so you eat less. Studies show that consuming certain herbs and spices before each meal can potentially reduce your caloric intake.

It is also loaded with many healthy nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. Due to all these factors, turmeric is often used to treat a wide variety of health problems.

The science behind Turmeric:-

Scientists are beginning to understand the importance of turmeric in modern disease. In both India and Pakistan, where curry/turmeric is a dietary staple, boast much lower incidence of cancer than in other countries where turmeric is not regularly used.

I read that the ongoing studies have shown that curcumin inhibits an enzyme called Topoisomerase, which stops cancer cell growth and proliferation.

The active properties of curcumin are best called ‘protective properties’ as they prevent deterioration of food and possibly help prolong our life span.

Down below, I’ve listed two common home remedies using turmeric.

  • Apply a paste of turmeric on the skin before bed, and wash off in two minutes. In the morning remove any remaining yellow tinge with a paste of chickpea flour and sesame oil. Since, turmeric has anti-bacterial and astringent properties, it greatly enhances your skin tone and adds a notable glow. But, keep in mind that you don’t keep it on your skin for over 2 minutes as it can stain your skin deeply.
  • A pinch of turmeric is added to a mug of hot boiled milk and mixed. I never add sugar to this but, the taste of turmeric milk eventually grows on you. This is said to relieve minor coughs and a running nose. Turmeric consumed this way is said to have great benefits for people with arthritis.

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Precautions while using turmeric

1) Pregnant women are advised not to use turmeric. Turmeric being an anti-inflammatory agent can contribute to stomach ulcers.

2) Normally turmeric in food is safe. However, since it acts as a blood thinner, those who require surgery must stop taking any form of turmeric – food or supplements a couple of weeks before surgery.

3) It can also react with diabetic medication and medication taken to reduce stomach acid.

Turmeric powder is extracted from its root. This humble spice with its sunny color has innumerable benefits when used right. I sincerely hope that you find good use for it.

Down below, I have provided a link describing the step wise process to remove a turmeric stain,  in case you get unlucky while using the yellow spice. I suggest you use an apron while using turmeric.

http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Turmeric-Stains

Hope this was informative. I hope you fall in love with turmeric just as I did!

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beet stir fry – Indian style

By Shalini Kolluri

I love beets. They look great, they add a natural sweetness to any salad and they are packed with awesome nutrients.

Before I get into the scientific facts that make beetroot one of the most nutritious vegetables there is, here is a fun fact – Beets are nature’s Viagra! The ancient Romans used it as an aphrodisiac. Beets contain a high amount of boron which aids in the production of sex hormones. Besides, the nitrates in the beets increase the blood supply to your genitals which in turn increases your sexual appetite.

This mechanism of action is very similar to that of a Viagra. The nitrates are converted into nitric oxide which expand your blood vessels so you can enjoy more oxygen, nutrients and energy. Did you know that 70 ml of fresh beet juice can lower your resting blood pressure by 2%?!

The sugars in the beet are smart carbs. A cup of cooked beet has only 60 calories and loads of fiber. Not only is it sweet, it is also very similar to chocolate. It contains very high levels of tryptophan that helps combat depression and creates a sense of well-being similar to chocolate! Pregnant women can also benefit largely from this wonder root as it is rich in folic acid and iron content.

I hope I’ve managed to convince you that beet isn’t a special occasion dish and that it should make an appearance on your plate almost every day.

Though I love my beets in salad, I also like preparing them the Indian way. Its earthy sweetness and rich color makes cooking them as well as eating them an absolute treat. Hope you enjoy eating this version of beetroot. Let me know if you like it.

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Ingredients:-

1 beet (big), peeled and grated

½ tablespoon turmeric

1 small red onion, minced

1 tablespoon grated coconut

1 tablespoon olive oil

5-6 curry leaves

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon mustard

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon red chili powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

Salt to taste

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Method:-

In a skillet, heat the oil on medium.

When the oil is sizzling, add in the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Wait till the curry leaves look slightly fried before adding in the minced onion.

When the onion turns golden brown, add in the grated beet and turmeric.

Mix the ingredients in the skillet and add a few drops of water to ensure that the beets do not stick to the pan. Cover with a lid and keep stirring every few minutes.

Cook on medium for 15-20 minutes till tender.

Turn off the heat and add salt, cumin powder, coriander powder, grated coconut and the red chili powder. Mix thoroughly. Serve with rice or Indian flat bread (roti).

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dish love : fishs eddy

By Shalini Kolluri

I believe that food shouldn’t only appeal to your taste buds but also to your eyes. You don’t have to be a culinary genius or a trained chef to make sure your food looks appetizing. This includes simple things like playing with the right color combinations or choosing the right dishes to serve your food. For example, a white square plate used for serving your kebabs or tomato sauce can make sure it stands out in a back drop of white drawing more attention to you food. Another favorite of mine is the wooden plate, it not only makes a colorful salad look great, it also looks good with what ever you chose to set on the table.

As a dinner ware and cutlery enthusiast, I love shopping for glass ware and plates in NYC. I was super excited to stumble upon this rad store on the corner of 19th and Broadway called Fishs Eddy.

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We do dishes’, declares a sign at Fishs Eddy and a visit to the Union square emporium proves that this statement is truer than true. Dishes and glassware are piled high, and browsing around the shop is like a treasure hunt, discovering gems of wit and quirky humorous displays. Their trademark humor has helped make this brand unique. When I visited their store this weekend, I came across some really funny hand painted wooden blocks.

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The shop started almost thirty years ago by husband and wife, Dave Lenovitz and Julie Gaines. Julie, a painter, met Dave, an antique dealer. They got together and leased a cozy shop near Gremercy Park. They filled it with dishes and cups found in the basements of supply shops and goods from manufacturers going out of business. Soon, they developed their own product working with overseas factories to replicate the double fired, heavy gauge dinner ware that they are famous for. They developed their own iconic designs such as that of the New York skyline pattern. They also used their products to market their own brand of political satire.

There are local artists showcased in the gallery as well. A lot of designs come and go, but the most popular ones stick around. Most of them are New York based designs and some are not.

I will definitely go back there when I need to pick up presents for birthdays and Christmas. This place is filled with cutesy cute and funny dishware that will make any dinner ware lover such as me very happy.

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The staff is sweet and customer focused. Always smiling and eager to help.

FYI, if you are visiting and don’t have the desire to lug your purchases back home, they have most of their products available on their website.

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