cilantro plantain fry


Though plantains originated in India, it quickly spread to other tropical countries and is now sold in most fresh produce sections of the supermarkets. They look like green bananas but they may have darker or blackish skin. On the inside (once peeled), they are starchy and cream colored.

Plantain relatively has more calories weight for weight than that in the table bananas. 100 g plantain holds about 122 calories, while dessert banana has only 89 calories. Which is why it is important to watch out for the quantity you are consuming.

Health benefits of plantain:-

  1. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin A plays a vital role in the visual cycle, maintaining healthy mucus membranes, and enhancing skin complexion.
  2. They also provide adequate levels of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Magnesium is essential for bone strengthening and has a cardiac-protective role as well.
  3. They contain 2.3 g of dietary fiber per 100 g.
  4. Fresh plantains have more potassium than bananas


Being a close relative of bananas, plantains too often can be a cause for skin and systemic allergic reactions in some sensitive individuals. Please watch out for these symptoms if you are eating plantain for the first time -“Oral allergy syndrome,” is a condition in which eating banana family foods may cause itching and swelling in the mouth or throat within hours.

This is a modification of a well know south Indian recipe.


3 plantains (washed, peeled and sliced)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 tablespoons lime juice


cayenne powder (a pinch)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 cup chopped scallions or red onion

2 table spoons canola/sesame oil

4-5 curry leaves (optional)

2 green chilies

14 teaspoon turmeric (optional)


In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat.

Add in the mustard, ginger and cumin. In a minute add the chopped green chilies and curry leaves and fry for 1 minute. Add in the plantain (raw banana). Sprinkle a few drops of water in the skillet and place a lid on it. Cook for 5 minutes.

Now, remove the lid, stir the raw banana and cook on low flame for 6-7 minutes.

Add salt, turmeric,  cayenne and cilantro. Cook on low heat for another 5 minutes while stirring.

Turn off the heat and add lime juice and stir.

Eat this wonderful plantain fry with brown rice or roti.






Baked Sweet Potato Fries

They are bright, they are bold and they are… beautiful!

We all the know that sweet potato is lighter on the palate and sweeter but it’s also healthier as illustrated by this Cleaveland Clinic info graphic:

So yeah, when you pick fries, go for sweet potatoes and remember, while frying gives a crispier and quicker result, baking is awesome too – it takes way less oil and allows for a depth of flavour that can only come from relative slow cooking.

Here’s how you can bake sweet potato fries:

sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato fries
Preheat the oven to either 450 F or 350 F. Dice a large sweet potato into fry-shaped strips of desired thickness. Toss in a tablespoon of olive or canola oil. Season with salt and spice ( pepper or cayenne powder and garlic if desired). Bake for 22 mins on 450 and for 40 mins if on 350. Flip the fries midway through the bake. Season with herbs and Parmesan if desired.

sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato fries

Black bean brown rice burgers

By Shalini Kolluri

Sink your teeth into a delicious vegan burger recipe made from beans and rice. To make cheeseburgers, about 1 minute before burgers are done, top with sliced cheese; continue cooking until cheese begins to melt.

If you are on a no carb spree just like me, you could swap out the usual buns for lettuce-leaf wrappers, and these meatless burgers are instantly lighter and much more healthier. The spices and herbs that go into the patty depend on your personal preferences. Mint and lime are my personal favs. You could replace mint with parsley, basil or cilantro. Being an Indian at heart I love to add a dash of cayenne to my patty.

hope you love making this as much as I did. Once you master the recipe, it’s perfect food for parties and picnics..


2 cups cooked black beans

1 boiled potato (peeled and mashed)

1/2 cup overcooked brown rice

1 red onion (minced)

1/2 cup chopped mint leaves


2 table spoons lemon juice

1 table spoon garlic powder / minced garlic



2 tablespoons oil

Hamburger bread sliced in halves

sliced red onions

sliced tomato

tender lettuce leaves

mustard sauce

cheese slices (optional)


Mash beans and brown rice with a fork till a thick paste forms. Stir in the onion, mint, salt, pepper, garlic and lime. Mix and form patties. Roll the patties in breadcrumbs for that extra crunch.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add patties gently and cook for 6-7 minutes on each side.

To serve, spread each burger with mustard sauce, top with lettuce, patty, red onion and tomato.






Pink perfection

By Shalini Kolluri


This is a healthy, easy, and satisfying drink for those who enjoy a cirtrusy flavor or are looking for a drink that is fiber rich. It contains nectarine, grapefruit, apple and strawberry. What better way to greet the day than with a tart sweet blend of fruits!

Grapefruit is a well known diet food for good reason: It is packed with nutrients like lycopene, vitamins A and C, and fiber. What’s more, studies show that this citrus fruit can help lower your cholesterol and  protect you from certain cancers.Needless to say, strawberries are a power house of anti-oxidants too. Nectarine and apple add fiber in addition to enhancing the consistency of this wonderful drink.

How do you make it?

All you need is 1 nectarine (peeled and sliced), 4 strawberries (washed and sliced),  1/2 cup grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed) and 1/2 an apple (gala).

Now, blend all four ingredients with 1 table spoon honey and drink it under 5 minutes!



brussel sprouts and cashew cheese



I’m always in search for that perfect appetizer that satisfies my cravings without making me feel guilty.However, as a cheese lover I find myself always gravitating towards cheese platters and good old Indian paneer! But, if I’m going to keep my lean streak on, I’ll have to cut back on the dairy!

I recently visited a vegan bar in Williamsburge where I was served  Brussels sprouts. What surprised me was that though I had grown tired of the usual sauteed sprouts which come as a side with practically any vegetarian main course, here was a perfectly crunchy dish with the right amount of flavor and a tangy dip! This got me really pumped. I wanted to use my imagination and create a  version of Brussels sprouts with a vegan cheese  topping! And I’m pleased to say that the baked apple and cashew cheese go perfectly well with my savory sprouts.


A pack of fresh Brussels sprouts( You could saute them for 6-7 min before placing them in the oven)

1 apple cut in thin slices



Garlic powder

Canola oil

Roasted almonds 6-7

For the cheese:-

1/2 cup cashews (soaked overnight)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

cayenne powder (a drizzle)


1 garlic pod crushed

olive oil


How to make the cashew cheese?

First,soak your cashews for at least 6 hours.  Drain them.  Add lemon juice, salt, olive oil, garlic and mix all that in a food processor until super smooth. You could add a pinch of cayenne to the cheese. But, that is totally optional.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Arrange frozen Brussels sprouts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle apple and almonds evenly around the baking sheet. Drizzle the sprouts, apples and almonds with canola oil; sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Toss the mixture gently to coat.

Roast in the preheated oven until sprouts are hot and fragrant, about 18 minutes. 

Pour the cashew cheese on the sprouts and put it back in the oven for a good 6 minutes.

Take it out and enjoy!


sunrise smoothie

By Shalini Kolluri



This thick and creamy, fresh fruit smoothie will satisfy your sweet tooth without stretching your waistband. If you need to cool down after a tough workout or a hot day at the beach, this colorful and absolutely delicious smoothie is the way to go!

Pour a strawberry-watermelon  juice mixture over a layer of mango peach smoothie for a two-tone drink that’s as pretty as it is tasty.

To create a two tone or a double layered smoothie, you must follow these tips:

  • Pour in the heaviest blend on the bottom of the glass.
  • “Stack” layers on top of it according to weight/mass.
  • Finish the drink with the lightest color blend last.

During summer and before a robust work out- I love pouring in a mango or a banana smoothie at the bottom, topping it off with a citrus-y fruit juice.

To make this smoothie you will need:-

3/4 cup ripe mango slices

1/4 cup peach slices

1/4 teaspoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon mint leaves

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

a few slices of watermelon

2 tablespoons of water


Blend mango, peach, lemon juice and ginger. Add the water if too thick. Pour into a glass.

Now, bled the watermelon, strawberry, mint and ice cubes. Gently pour over the mango peach layer.

Stick a straw in your drink and enjoy!!







Eat your edamame steamed and salted

Full disclosure – I haven’t visited Japan yet. But from what I have seen in Japanese bars (izakayas) and restaurants, Japanese love their edamame steamed and salted. Over the past few years, I have incorporated this preparation of these green soybeans in my snacking routine and have been delighted by the results. Not only does a small packet full full of frozen edamame pods, yield a filling meal, it is also a splendid source of vegetarian protien! 

And needless to say steamed and salted edamame are yummy to the point of being addictive.

japanese edamame, sreamed edamame,  salted. edamame

Making your own Lean Edamame Snack:

Buy frozen edamame pods either at an Asian store or a mainstream market. I buy mine at CostCo because of the quality. Steam the pods till they cook but retain their green-ness. Be careful not to overcook.

Salt the pods on the outside. I put the pods in my mouth and drag the seeds in with a sweeping motion involving my teeth.


Simply Delish: Mango Orange Smoothie

smoothie, mango orange smoothie
This delicious smoothie is a fruit-lover’s delight. All you have to do is cut up two mangoes, juice two large oranges, transfer the fruits to a blender and blend with four cubes of ice.

In a minute or so, you got yourself a killer smoothie that is enough for three to four servings.

Why oranges are awesome:

The fruit is low in calories but is rich in dietary fiber.

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful natural antioxidant.

Oranges also contain vitamin A, and other flavonoid antioxidants.

It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamine, pyridoxine, and folates.

Orange fruit contains a significant amount of minerals like potassium and calcium.

Why mangoes are awesome:

Mango is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds.

Mango fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin A and flavonoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.

Fresh mango is a good source of potassium. 100 g of the fruit provides 156 mg of potassium and just 2 mg of sodium.

The fruit is a good source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin C and vitamin E.

It also has moderate amounts of copper.

Primary source for the nutritional details:

cauliflower mascarpone sandwich

By Shalini Kolluri 


With layers of  spiced cauliflower, tomato and mascarpone this sandwich is packed with some refreshing flavors and texture. This easy recipe comes in handy when I’m craving for a sumptuous yet healthy meal.

Mascarpone cheese’s creamy texture is perfect for stuffed crepes or baked desserts Your palate may crave mascarpone cheese’s rich flavor, although it isn’t something you want to eat too often. I like to use it on cheat days as a spread for my sandwich. It is essentially an Italian cheese made by curdling milk cream with citric acid or acetic acid.

Cauliflower’s appeal however is its extreme versatility. You can eat it raw, roasted or add it to salads. Cauliflower can even be seasoned and mashed for a healthier version of mashed potatoes.

However, a mouth watering combination of roasted cauliflower and creamy flavor infused mascarpone just blows my mind. Make it fresh and eat it warm!


1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon of vinegar

1 teaspoon of ground pepper

1 cup kale chopped in pieces

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 ounces mascarpone

1 multi grain baguette

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1/2 cup mixed greens

2 teaspoons milk

a few  slices of peeled cucumber

3 cherry tomatoes cut in half

pickled green tomatoes (optional)


Saute the cauliflower pieces in olive oil for 6-7 minutes. Add in the pepper, vinegar and salt. Take it off the flame and keep it aside. Garnish with cilantro.

Saute the kale and greens.

Cut the baguette in half and toast it with a dash of olive oil.

In the bowl of a food processor add in the  mascarpone, remaining olive oil, and milk. Pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice and black pepper.

Spread both sides of each of the bread with the mascarpone spread. Add a layer of kale and mixed greens then top with the roasted cauliflower, cucumber, green tomatoes and diced cherry tomatoes. Serve warm.