Monday, March 18, 2019

Red Lentil Soup / Masoor Dal

This year mother nature seems to have forgotten that spring is around the corner. Most days are still cold and chilly. The cat loves to cuddle and is usually waiting for us to finish up in the kitchen and snuggle up with her. I have a little table by the window in the breakfast nook that I use to click pictures for this blog. The cat is not allowed on the dining table. She sits at the very edge of the little table and stares at us, waiting for us to be done eating so we can move to the family room. Back to the recipe.

A warm bowl of Red lentil soup or a bowl of this masoor dal with rice is perfect for a cold evening. Red lentils are very flavorful and a few vegetables and spices are enough to make a flavorful soup. I like to add a lot of vegetables as everyone in my family loves vegetables. Masoor dal turns mushy when cooked. Sometimes I let it cook until mushy and mash it with the back of the spoon. Sometimes like today I let it cook but turn off heat before it gets mushy. You can add any combination of vegetables and spices to make this dal.

You will need
1/2 cup red masoor dal
1/2 tomato
1/8th red bell pepper
1/2 cup baby kale
1/2 cup baby arugula
1 tsp. garam masala (or you favorite dal masala)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili pepper powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the dal for about 15-20 minutes. Meantime, dice the vegetables.

Heat 1/2 a cup of water in a pan. Add the diced vegetables and let them cook until the water is almost evaporated and the greens are wilted.

Drain the soaking water and add the dal to the pan. Add the remaining ingredients and saute for 2-3 minutes on medium low heat.

Heat 2 cups water in the microwave and add it to the pan. Bring it to a boil and lower the heat to simmer. Cover and let the dal cook for about 5 minutes, checking every couple minutes to ensure there is enough water.

Turn off the heat when the soup/dal is at the desired consistency.



This is my entry for week three, day two of BM #98 for the theme Cooking for two. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#98

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Millet, Chickpea and Oats Dhirdi

Dhirdi or crepes are an easy alternative to flatbread. I usually make them once a week with different flours. Today I am posting the millet, chickpea and oats dhirdi. I made this for an easy light dinner after a long work day. One cup of flour is enough for two people. Increase the amount of flour if you want to make more servings. Usually we eat these with some dal or vegetable side. Sometimes we eat it with chutney. I had some red pepper hummus I wanted to finish so we had that instead.

This millet, chickpea and oats dhirdi is a nutritious and simple recipe made with mixed flours. I usually buy millet, buckwheat and oats in bulk bins at Whole Foods. I grind it to a flour in my Vitamix dry grinder. The flour can be stored for several weeks, longer in winter. Addition of chickpea flour makes the dhirdi very flavorful. There is no oil or soda in this recipe.

You will need (for ~6  crepes or 2 servings)
1 cup flour (I used combination of millets, buckwheat, chickpea and oats)
1 tsp cumin-coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ova/ajwain/carom seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 strands finely diced cilantro (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Add a half cup water and whisk. Keep aside to rest for about half an hour.

Heat a pan on medium heat. Check the consistency of the batter. You should be able to pour it with a ladle but it should not be too runny.

Add a ladle of the prepared batter to the heated pan. Cover with a lid and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Uncover and flip it over. Cook the second side uncovered. Take it off the heat and repeat for the remaining dhirdi.

Enjoy with chutney or hummus!


This is my entry for week three, day one of BM #98 for the theme Cooking for two. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#98

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Oats, Almond and Chocolate Breakfast Bites

When kids go off to college cooking is the last thing on their mind. But campus food options are such that they have to cook in order to eat healthy. My daughter is no exception. When she started spring semester she was looking for easy breakfast options. I made these Oats Chia Peanut Butter bites and she loved them. But peanut butter is not her favorite so I kept thinking of alternate flavors.

A week before her last visit I happened to pass by the nut grinder at Whole Foods. I had always wanted to try the fresh peanut and almond butter but had never done it. I figured using almond butter to bind the oats would work just as well as peanut butter. When my daughter came home for a visit we stopped at Whole Foods and bought a tub of fresh ground organic almond butter. My daughter suggested I add mini chocolate morsels for flavor so we got some of those and some unfiltered raw local honey. And this recipe was born. These oats almonds and chocolate breakfast bites are great as breakfast on the go. They would work well as a snack too.

I made a double batch so it would last her a while.

You will need (about 30)
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup honey
~ 1/2 cup almond butter
a good handful mini chocolate chips (I used semi sweet)

Add the oats and coconut flakes to a flat bottom pan and dry roast on medium heat until heated through. Grind coarsely in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add the honey and chocolate chips. Add 1/4 cup almond butter and combine the ingredients together. Add almond butter as needed to bind the mixture. You should not need more than 1/2 a cup.

Moisten your hand. Pick up about 1 1/2 tbsp of the mixture and roll into a ball. Keep aside on a plate. Continue until all the mixture is used up. I like to refrigerate the bites. They last a few weeks.



This is my entry for week one, day three of BM #98 for the theme Dishes in a meal. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#98

Monday, March 4, 2019

Cauliflower And Peas in Almond gravy (Vegan, WFPB)

My post today is a simple vegetable side. This was the first side I cooked after I decided to stop using processed food like oil. Almost all recipes I make start with heating oil in a pan. I have always wondered how much influence that step has on the final taste. I was going to find out.

Cashew or almond paste is routinely used to make the gravy think and creamy. Since I took out the fat content from the recipe when I dropped the oil I decided to replace it with almond butter or crushed almonds. Whole Foods has a little grinder in their bulk bins section where you can grind your own almonds and peanuts. I had bought almond butter for a different recipe and had some left over. I added almonds to the recipe, skipped the oil and left everything else the same. When it was almost done I asked my husband to do a taste test. His response was 'Bhadhiya' or awesome!

I have since made a wide variety of foods without oil. My family loves it.

You will need
1 cauliflower
1 handful peas (I used frozen)
2 tbsp almond butter
3 small tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin coriander powder
1 tsp. red chilli pepper powder
1 tsp. amchur or amboshi powder
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and break up the cauliflower into florets. Dice the tomatoes and defrost the peas.

Heat a 1/2 cup of water in pan. Add the tomatoes and let them cook until tender. Add all the remaining ingredients, cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Turn off the heat. Makes a perfect side with flatbread or poli.



This is my entry for week one, day two of BM #98 for the theme Dishes in a meal. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#98

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Butternut Squash Soup (Vegan, WFPH)

At this time of the year butternut squash is in all the grocery stores. It is very flavorful and lends a beautiful color to anything you use it in. I am not very fond of the soft texture of squash but I love it in a bowl of butternut squash soup. The last several weeks have been very cold. After a long day at work a hot bowl of soup is perfect to warm you up. Butternut squash soup is one of our favorite dinner recipes in winter.

With this recipe you will see a big change in this blog. For the longest time I have pondered over giving up dairy. I usually had a cup of milk in my morning oatmeal and occasionally had cheese. During the summer months a little ice cream. But the more I read up on osteoporosis the more I wanted to move to a whole food plant based lifestyle. With this post you will see recipes geared towards this lifestyle. Focusing on whole foods let you move away from processed foods like oil. This recipe does not have any added oil. This was the single biggest change I had to adjust to. Instead of oil, I add all kinds of nuts and seeds to our weekly menu. Since we ate a predominantly plant based diet and most of it whole foods the change was fairly easy for us. I am loving all the recipes I have made and will share them on this space.

You will need
1 butternut squash
1 medium orange sweet potato
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin powder
2-3 cups water or vegetable stock
salt and black pepper to taste

Cut the top and bottom of the squash and slice it in half. Using a sharp knife cut off the tough skin. Remove the seeds and cut into cubes. Keep aside.

Cut the ends of the sweet potato, peel and cut into cubes. Keep aside.

Peel and dice the onion. Crush, peel and mince the garlic.

In a large pot add a half cup of water. Add the onions and garlic and let them soften a little. Add the remaining ingredients and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer on medium low heat until the squash and potato are cooked. Puree in a blender or in the pan using a hand blender.



This is my entry for week one, day one of BM #98 for the theme Dishes in a meal. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#98

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Green Lentils with Mixed Vegetables and Feta

Last week I was very surprised to find that I had not posted any green lentil recipe in this space. Green lentils in my opinion are the most flavorful of the lot. I use green lentils frequently and usually in a simple preparation like the one I am sharing today. The day I cooked this my husband had lunch and dinner plans at work and I was cooking for one. I had bought some green lentils during the weekend grocery shopping and decided to make this recipe. It is a one pot meal.

I have used feta cheese in all three recipes this week. I rarely use feta cheese though we all like it a lot. Crumbled feta is usually available in tubs and 1-2 tablespoons of it goes a long way. Once you get a tub you have a couple weeks to finish it so I use it as garnish on everything.

I always keep a small stock of green lentils in the pantry. In fact I usually have all varieties, yellow, green, orange and black in the pantry as we like them all. If you have not tried the green lentils yet you should try this simple green lentils with mixed vegetable and feta. Lentils taste best the day they are cooked. Green lentils take longer to cook than the orange ones but they do not have to be pressure cooked. I usually soak them in a little hot water and they soften up. I then cook them with the rest of the ingredients in a pan on the stove top.

You will need (2 large servings)
1 cup dry green lentils
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 large handful spinach or arugula or kale, diced
2 tsp. oil (I used olive oil, any vegetable oil will do)
2 tbsp. feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. paprika (adjust to taste)
1 tsp cumin coriander powder (optional)
1/2 cup warm water + 2 cups water to soak lentils

Wash and rinse the lentils. Boil 2 cups of water in the microwave in a microwave safe cup. I use the large measuring cups. Add the water to the lentils and let them soak for about 15 minutes while you prep the vegetables as indicated in the ingredient list.

Heat oil in a pan and add all the vegetables. Saute for a couple of minutes and add the lentils. Add the warm water and let the lentils cook covered on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, paprika and cumin coriander powder. Turn off the heat after another couple minutes.



This is my entry for week one, day three of BM #97 for the theme Gluten free, Vegan or Paleo. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#97

Monday, February 4, 2019

Roasted Winter Vegetables

I frequently bake a medley of vegetables as a snack or a side. Most combinations do not make it to the blog. This is a very rustic flavorful mix so I wanted to record it. I made it on a weekend when my daughter was visiting and we all enjoyed it a lot. Next time you see these vegetables at the grocery try roasted winter vegetables.

It is said you should try to eat five different colors everyday. This one vegetable mix will suffice to provide all the colorful foods for a day. I had leftovers so I used it in a winter warm salad with chickpeas. A little lime juice and paprika is all that it needed. That was my very filling lunch.

This combination tastes great on its own as a snack. You could add it to noodles as I have done here with a different set of vegetables. Except for the yellow squash which I added for color the other vegetables all take a while to cook. Make sure all the chunks are on the sheet in a single layer.

You will need
An assortment of vegetables. I used
Red and Purple mini potatoes
Orange Sweet Potato
A Fuji Apple
A bunch of Green Beans
A Yellow Squash
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Chop the vegetables into chunks. Combine with oil, salt and pepper and spread in a single year on a baking sheet.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender.



This is my entry for week one, day two of BM #97 for the theme Gluten free, Vegan or Paleo. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#97

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Black Bean, Avocado and Egg Breakfast

I like to make something different for breakfast as often as I can. This combination evolved over time. It is one of the endless combinations I make with beans of some kind, vegetables, eggs and greens. My family loves vegetables and enjoys dishes that showcase them.You can mix in zucchini, broccoli or green bell peppers. You can use any green leafy vegetable as the base and you can skip the egg altogether. You could make guacamole instead of sliced avocado or make a simple salsa to flavor the beans. You could use any kind of cheese but I usually stick to feta or skip the cheese.

This breakfast takes you through the morning until lunch. It is one of my favorites for the weekend. But if you chop all the vegetables over the weekend, you can easily make it on busy weekday mornings too.

You will need (for 3 servings)
1 can black beans
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (optional, I use it sometimes)
1 cup spinach, kale or arugula, chopped
1-3 eggs (one per serving, my daughter skipped the eggs)
1 avocado, remove seed, skin and slice
3 tbsp. feta cheese
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp lime juice

Rinse and drain the black beans, keep aside. Heat the oil in a small pan for the eggs. Heat a 1/8th cup water in a second pan. Simultaneously cook the veggies and the egg.

Pan 1: Eggs - crack the eggs in the pan with the oil. Sprinkle salt to taste and let them cook. Flip over if you like them done on both sides. Turn off heat.

Pan 2: Add the veggies and let them cook until soft but not mushy. Add the beans, salt and pepper. Add the lime juice and turn off heat.

To assemble: Place a bed of greens on the plate. Spread the black bean mixture over the top. Place the egg over it and sprinkle the feta cheese. Place the sliced avocado to one side.



This is my entry for week one, day one of BM #97 for the theme Gluten free, Vegan or Paleo. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#97