White bean soup (vegan)

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Kidney beans are a vital source of protein in a vegan diet. In India they refer to it as ‘poor man’s meat’. A less know fact about them is that they are an important source of iron and anti-oxidants like manganese. If you’re wondering how to replace red meat in your menus, become a fan of these legumes.

A word of caution however. Kidney beans improperly cooked or raw can cause digestive issues and are toxic. They must be soaked overnight in warm water and boiled till they soften or you can use them directly from the can as I do.

Why is it important to eat you beans??!

  • Protein! Protein! Protein!  One cup of boiled kidney beans (177 g) contains approximately 15 grams of protein!
  • They contain good carbs! – Starchy carbs are the main nutritional component of kidney beans. They do not cause large spikes in blood sugar, making them suitable for diabetics.
  • Fiber– They contain loads of fiber. However, this poses a problem for those who can not digest these fibers properly leading to bloating and stomach aches!
  • Storehouse of vital nutrients – iron, manganese, potassium and Vit K1 (to name a few)
  • As a rich source of ferment-able fiber, kidney beans may promote colon health and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

This wholesome soup recipe can be modified to suit your taste. Add in some crunchy croutons or garnish it with fresh grated cheese. You could even Indianize the soup by adding in cumin powder, coriander powder & cayenne and skip the addition of thyme and basil. You could substitute kale with spinach as well. This version of the soup is pretty basic. Hope you like the recipe!

Ingredients:-

1 can white kidney beans (15 ounce)

1 tablespoon olive oil

a pinch of ground pepper

1 red onion (chopped)

1 stalk celery

1 red bell pepper (chopped into small pieces)

1 carrot chopped

1 zucchini chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 cup vegetable broth ( 16 ounces)

1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

cilantro for garnish

2 cups water

1/2 cup kale chopped

salt to taste

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 teaspoon agave

Method:-

In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium.

Cook onion and celery in oil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, continually stirring. To this add in the veggies- bell pepper, zucchini and carrot. 

Once the veggies cook, stir in beans, vegetable broth, pepper, basil and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.

With a slotted spoon carefully remove 2 cups of the bean and vegetable mixture from soup and keep aside.

In blender at low speed, blend remaining soup in small batches until smooth. ( This adds the thick creamy texture to the soup)

Once blended pour soup back into a pot and stir in reserved beans.

Bring to a boil, stirring now and then.

Stir in spinach and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in lemon juice, salt and honey/agave.

Remove from heat and serve hot with cilantro garnish. 

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Easy Lunch Box: Quinoa Salad with a Mexican Flair

 quinoa salad, veggie  quinoa salad, mexican quinoa salad 
Quinoa, packed with protein and loaded with fibre, is one the more popular superfoods of the day. Anyone who has eaten quinoa is almost always thankful that this delicious grain, which comes in red and white, is good for you :)!

Today, I made this oil-free light yet filling quinoa salad that looked as good as it tasted. And when I ate it for lunch this afternoon, it kept me full till the evening. It’s super easy to make so here goes the recipe (for two meal-sized servings) —

Cook quinoa in water as per the instructions on the packet. I cooked one cup of raw quinoa. Then, chop half a large onion, two medium-sized tomatoes and a generous handful of coriander leaves aka cilantro. Cook two corn cobs in the microwave or grill. Shave the corn kernels and mix them with chopped vegetables and 200 g of cooked black beans. Season with salt, lemon juice and five finely chopped small green chilies. Add quinoa to the vegetable mix, a little at a time. Stop when you have the desired ratio of quinoa to veggies. Mix and adjust the seasoning. Serve the quinoa salad cold.

Needless to say, you could add peppers, cucumbers, avocado, sliced radishes or anything else you wish to the quinoa salad.

winter perfect fruit juice (with pepper)

By Shalini Kolluri 

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People often think that dehydration is a summer story. If you believe so too, think again!

When the temperature drops, we all rush to switch on our heaters, have a hot beverage versus an iced one, switch from salad to soup for a healthy but warming lunch, the vegetables of the season are the roots and the cruciferous veggies which we roast, bake, and sauté. Soups typically contain a higher amount of sodium than salads that tend to provide more water. And so on.

In short, it is really easy to loose large amounts of body water through perspiration and decreased water intake! Thus making it very important to consume more water, herbal teas and fresh fruit juice.

My absolute favorite has to be this awesome juice that not only hydrates but also has anti-oxidant rich flu fighting ingredients.

Pepper during winter:-

Black pepper acts as an effective natural remedy to prevent cough and cold in India. This spice is loaded with many essential nutrients like vitamin C, flavonoids, antioxidants and antibacterial properties. When used in combination with honey, black pepper helps you breathe easy and enhances your immunity!!

So folks remember to stay hydrated and load up on ’em anti-oxidants!!

Ingredients:- (serves 2)

1/2 cup coconuct water

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/2  red apple (pieces)

1 table spoon honey (raw preferable)

a pinch of ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated carrot

Method:-

Blend the pieces of apple and carrot gratings in a blender first. (I do this first because adding the juices early on may not grind the carrot and apple).

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Once this mixture turns into a fine paste, add in the coconut water, honey, pepper and orange juice and blend.

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Serve immediately and enjoy!

Coconut water and hydration:-

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Provides naturally occurring fluid, electrolytes, and carbohydrates with less added sugar, artificial flavor, and color compared to commercially prepared carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drinks.

Orange juice:-

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Freshly squeezed! Always!

Fruit juice freshly prepared at home and consumed immediately has enormous benefits. The most important reson being that the anti-oxidants are retained which boosts immunity!

Oranges contain many of the elements that are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cardiac arrhythmia, and some studies have even shown a slight reduction in the occurrence of many types of mouth, throat, esophageal, stomach and liver cancers in people who have a lot of citrus fruits in their diets.

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Besan or chickpea flour pancake – a vegan omelette

What is Besan?

Besan, commonly known as gram flour or chickpea flour, is often used in Indian cooking for batters and as a thickening agent in soups and curries.

Rich in protein, low in calories and robust on flavour, it forms the perfect body for a vegan pancake / omelette. Popular in the north of Indian as besan cheela, this dish makes a fantastic addition to a vegan or  heart-healthy diet.

To make 6  medium-sized pancakes, you will need,

3/4 cup besan

1 1/4 cup water

Salt

Pinch of red chilli powder 

A pinch of coriander powder (optional)

A pinch of chaat masala (optional)

A handful of chopped veggies ( onion, tomato, bell peppers)

A few leaves of coriander / cilantro, chopped

A pinch of caraway seeds (ajwain) or cumin seeds.

Canola or vegetable oil

Method of preparation:

1. Buy besan / chickpea flour at any Indian or South Asian grocery store. Measure the besan. Add it into a bowl. Whisk in the water till a smooth batter forms.

  1. Chop the veggies. Add them in along with the salt, red chilli powder, caraway seeds / cumin seeds and herbs. At this stage add coriander powder and / or chaat powder and / or green chilies if you like. besan  pancake, chickpea pancake 

2. Mix into a uniform and slightly frothy batter. besan pancake, chickpea flour  pancake 

3. Heat a skillet. Coat with a thin film of oil. Make the pancake over medium to high heat. Flip midway to ensure that both sides cool well.

Serve stand alone with yogurt or chutney.

 besan pancake, chickpea flour  pancake 
Or use as wrap: 

 besan pancake, chickpea flour  pancake 
 

anti-oxidant burst smoothie

 

By Shalini Kolluri

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Boost your immune system during the winter. If you are currently battling a running nose and a sore throat, it is time to take foods that combat those nasty bugs! Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant that reboots the immune system and if taken every other day, it can prove to be really useful in keeping you up and going.

Here are a few foods that are are awesome during winter:-

Broccoli – exceptionally high in antioxidants.

Carrots – full of the antioxidant beta carotene.

Berries – packed with antioxidants but few calories.

Green tea – powerful antioxidant.

Oranges – just one contains your entire daily requirement of vitamin C.

Red capsicum – massive hit of vitamin C

This smoothie recipe is a vegan breakfast smoothie containing strawberries, mango and orange.

Ingredients:-

1 cup soy milk / 2% milk

1 ripe banana, sliced

1/4 cup mango slices

1/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed)

1/2 cup strawberries (you could use frozen fruit medley for more authentic taste)

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger or a a pinch of grated ginger ( optional)

1 table spoon honey (optional)

Method:-

Combine milk, banana, fruit, honey and powdered ginger in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

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potato & pepper soup

By Shalini Kolluri

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This soup is perfect comfort food on a cold snowy day. Its chunky, wholesome and nutritious. A bowl of this sumptuous soup with bread is a huge hit with my family.

Most people view potatoes as carbs that make you put on a few pounds. However, potatoes and yams possess complex carbohydrates that digest at an optimal level that provides energy and are very different from refined carbohydrates. So, unless you deep fry your potatoes in oil or prepare your mashed potatoes with heavy cream, potatoes prepared the healthy way don’t cause weight gain.

Potatoes contain antioxidants including vitamin C, carotenoids, and anthocyanins. The amounts and types are dependent upon the potato variety. So, make sure to include a number of different potato types (e.g., reds, purples, yellow, russets) in your diet. One wholesome, satisfying potato with skin contributes 2 grams of fiber to the diet or 8% of the recommended daily value. Dietary fiber has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving blood lipid levels, regulating blood glucose, and increasing satiety (makes you feel full longer), which may help with weight loss.

So this what you’ll need to make this yummy soup:- ( serves 2)

Ingredients:-

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 big russet potatoes

5 cloves minced garlic

2 teaspoon crushed pepper

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (I use 1 teaspoon)

salt to taste

2 cups vegetable broth

1/4 cup cilantro

1 red onion chopped

I prepare my own vegetable broth. You could use store bought vegan broth as well.

Method:-

Partially cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Stir fry the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium/high heat for about 20 minutes until caramelized.

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Bring the vegetable broth to the boil, and reduce to a simmer, and then add the drained potatoes.

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Squeeze the roasted garlic pulp into the soup, stir through the onions, and add in the pepper, chili powder and salt.

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Simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through, and the flavors infuse.

Pulse very briefly with an immersion blender so still relatively chunky. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve hot with bread.

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vegetable tomato soup

By Shalini Kolluri

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A piping  bowl of soup is the ultimate comfort food during the winter. After a long day of spending time out doors I love curling up on my couch with a warm bowl of steaming soup. We never had terrible winters in India. Having a bowl of wholesome soup for supper was never really a concept back then. However, now I understand that when temperatures drop and the days get shorter nothing hits the spot like this nutritious mug of goodness.

Every one loves soup. One of my friends always told me that giving soup to her kids was a way to fight picky eating! Her kinds loved creamy tomato soup alongside some grilled cheese sandwich. Soon she incorporated different soups such as, french onion and roasted pumpkin soup in their menu and bid picky eating goodbye!

Soups are great to make ahead. You can make large batches of soup, then freeze them in freezer bags. After you pour in the soup try to remove as much air as possible and then seal the bag.

Here’s the recipe of a simple tomato vegetable soup. It is easy to make and is perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends. I use a lot of cilantro in this recipe and this is why:-

Firstly, It adds a kick ass aroma and flavor when used in tomato based recipes.

Secondly, the herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.

Thirdly and most importantly, its deep-green leaves possess good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber, which may help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood.

Hope you enjoy one of my favorite soup recipes:-

Ingredients:-

4 large plum tomatoes

4 garlic cloves minced

1 small red onion

1 small green bell pepper chopped (optional)

1 bay leaf

2 table spoons whole milk/soy milk

1 table spoon olive oil/ butter

1 slice whole bread

1 table spoon agave/1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon pepper (finely grounded)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (red chili powder)

salt as required

1/2 cup cilantro finely chopped

2 tablespoons of water

1/2 teaspoon rice flour/corn starch

Method:-

Rinse tomatoes. Take a saucepan with enough water so that the tomatoes are fully immersed. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water and boil with a lid for 20 minutes.

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In the meantime, place the slice of bread in a pan or toaster and toast the bread till browned and crisp. After it is toasted cut the slice into small squares and keep aside.

Make a smooth paste of water and corn starch and keep aside.

Drain the tomatoes, peel them and remove the eves of the tomato. Add directly into a blender and make into a smooth puree.

On a skillet add oil. Once warm, add bay leaf. When the oil sizzles add in the minced garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add in the chopped onions and fry till golden. Add in the green pepper, salt, chili powder and pepper.

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After 5 min add in the puree and stir on medium heat.

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Once the mixture comes to a boil in 7 min, add 2 tablespoons of soy milk and stir.

Add in the cilantro and heat for 10 min on low heat.

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Add in the corn starch paste and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add in the sugar/agave and stir.

Turn off the heat.

Serve soup with toasted bread and croutons. Enjoy!

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