Chickpea Avocado Salad

This recipe is my new favorite. The flavors of spiced up chickpeas and avocado are great! This chickpea and avocado spreadable salad is great on its own as a side or can be spread on toast for a great breakfast or lunch sandwich.  A hint of lemon juice enhances the flavor or do not leave that out.

I made this chickpeas avocado spreadable for my daughter last week. She used it on her toast for breakfast. It is a great alternative to egg salad or avocado toast. It is nutrient rich and keeps you satiated for a long time. That makes it a perfect recipe for breakfast. It is not messy and travels well so it can be used for school lunches as well. It is best kept refrigerated.

You will need
1/2 cup dry chickpeas or 1 can of garbanzo beans
1 avocado
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper powder (increase quantity to taste)
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper

Soak the dry chickpeas overnight and cook them in a pressure cooker the next day. I usually cook them in the instant pot for 17 minutes on the manual setting. Alternately, you can use canned peas. Rinse and drain the water.

Mash the chickpeas with a fork. Make sure you leave a few chunks.

Wash and rinse the avocado. Cut it into half, remove the seed and the peel. Dice finely.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.


Spicy Roasted Chickpeas No Oil (#WFPB)

Healthy nutritious snack options are always on my list of recipes to try. Spicy roasted chickpeas were on my list for a long time. I finally got a chance to post the recipe today. I keep this recipe simple for a spicy tart taste. You can increase the amount of spice or use your favorite spice mix for the flavors you love.

The question I get asked a lot is can you bake without oil? The trick to baking without oil is to keep the temperature lower than the recipes with oil. This prevents the food from burning up. If I were to use oil I would roast these peas at 400 F. Without oil 375 or even 350 F will suffice. Keep them longer to get them dry and crunchy.

You will need
1/2 cup dry chickpeas or 1 can of garbanzo beans
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper powder

Spice mix
1 tsp. Chaat masala
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder

Soak the chickpeas overnight and cook in a pressure cooker until fork tender. I use my instant pot and it takes me 17 minutes manual to get them fully cooked. Alternately, you can use canned chickpeas. Just rinse and drain the water.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Blot dry the chickpeas on a paper towel. Combine with the seasoning and spices. Spread on a baking sheet evenly and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Mix them up with a spatula and put them back for another 20 minutes.


Channa Masala No Oil (#WFPB)

Today I am posting a tried and tested recipe for channa masala without oil. If you have ever eaten channa masala in a restaurant you had to have seen the oil. You may then wonder how it is possible to make this dish without oil. The reality is oil does not add as much flavor. As long as the onion tomato mix is thoroughly cooked with the spices the channa masala turns out perfect. You will never miss the oil.

I made this channa masala after my daughter returned home for summer. She wanted some of her favorites and this dish places somewhere at the top of her list.

You will need
1 cup dry chickpeas or garbanzo beans (or 1 can)
1 small onion
1 medium tomato
1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp. tamarind paste
1 tbsp. channa masala spice mix
1 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste

Soak the dry beans overnight. Next day pressure cook the beans under fork tender. For me it is 15 minutes under pressure or if using the instant pot then 17 minutes manual mode under pressure. If using a can rinse and drain the water. Keep aside.

Mince the onion. Add a 1/4 cup of water to a pan and bring it to a boil. Add the onion and let it cook on medium heat until it is pink and translucent. In the meantime dice the tomato.

Add all the other ingredients, a half cup of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let it simmer until it is cooked and the water is almost gone.

Add the reserved beans, salt to taste and a half cup of water. Bring to a boil and let it simmer on medium heat until the gravy reaches a consistency you like.

The channa masala with no oil is done.

Enjoy with a flatbread or rice!

Stew with Quinoa and Orange Lentils (No oil) WFPB and Vegan

One pot meals are a favorite in my house. But they have taken on a whole new form lately. About 3 months back I decided to stop using oil or processed food. The family was not really on board so I made small portions for myself. To make it easy on myself I would cook one pot meals. As the recipes evolved everyone in the house wanted what I was having. We all love fresh vegetables and with the right spices and legumes for flavor these one pot meals are delicious. I add a whole grain to the pot to make it it a complete nutritious meal. There is so much variety in beans, lentils and whole grain, there are endless flavorful combinations. Try it, you will love it.

This is a very nutrient rich dish. Each serving is rich is protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and complex carbs. When you eat this kind of food you have to remember that a large volume accounts for a relatively small amount of calories. Each serving of a large filling bowl of food is about 140 calories.

Note: Cook the legumes and grains first. Then add the vegetables for the last few minutes of cooking time. This way the vegetables will not get mushy, they will retain their shape and color but will be fully cooked.

You will need (5 servings)
1/2 cup rainbow quinoa
1/2 cup orange lentils (masoor dal)
1/4 onion
3 shitake mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup zucchini, diced
1/2 cup green beans, diced
1/2 cup yellow squash, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper
1 large tomato
1 handful each of spinach, arugula and kale
1 tbsp. cumin coriander powder
3 tbsp. sambar or dal masala (I added rasam masala)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 1/2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (source of B12 for vegans, you can skip if you want)
salt to taste

Wash and rinse the quinoa and lentils. Soak in a about a 1/4 cup water and keep aside until needed.

Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil in a large pan. Add the diced onion and the soaked quinoa and lentils. Cover and let it cook, about 5-8 minutes. The lentils and quinoa should be cooked completely. Add salt to taste and the spices (the last 5 ingredients on the list).

Now begin adding the vegetables. Place them one by one in the center of pan starting with the mushrooms in the order listed. Push down in the center as you add them. This will create a well for the vegetables in the center pushing the cooked lentils and quinoa to the sides of the pan. Add all the vegetables except the greens, sprinkle with a little salt, cover and let it cook on medium-low heat for a 2 couple of minutes.

Uncover and stir the vegetables in the center of the pan leaving the ring of quinoa and lentils on the side. The fresh vegetables will release juices and cook in them. Cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Then add the greens. Combine all the ingredients in the pan and let them simmer for a couple of minutes. If it feels too dry add a little water warmed in the microwave.

Turn off the heat and serve hot. Optionally, top it with roasted sesame seeds or seeds of your choice to increase the fat content.


Sweet and Sour Tofu

This Sweet and Sour Tofu recipe is a favorite in my house. The flavors are so good together. The roasted sesame seeds enhance that flavor and best of all it is baked. The recipe itself is very simple. The sauce adds all the flavor and is made with ingredients you should have around the house. Baking simplifies the cooking process even further.

I rarely prepare tofu at home. I usually never get around to buying it. But when I do this is one of the recipes I make. Here in the US, Tofu is often used in restaurants as a vegetarian/vegan substitute for animal based add-ins, fondly called 'protein'. I have always found that weird. Protein is not a food group, it is a macro. And we know there is protein in all plant based foods, even potato. But I digress. I like tofu and so does my family. We prefer the extra firm kind that holds its shape.

You can eat this Sweet and Sour Tofu as a snack, a side to a stir fry or you can eat it as the main dish to a side of fried rice.

You will need
1 packet extra firm tofu

2 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. thick maple syrup
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. thick maple syrup
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Drain the block of tofu under some heavy weight being careful not to crush it. Discard the water and chop the tofu in bite size chunks. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Add the tofu cubes to it. Let is rest for 30 minutes.

Evenly place the tofu chunks on a baking sheet. Save the marinade. I do not line the sheet nor do I use oil to prep it. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the cubes over and bake another 10 minutes.

During the last few minutes of baking Add all the topping ingredients except the sesame seeds to the saved marinade. Transfer to a pan and cook on low heat to thicken. Take it off the heat and keep aside. Add the sesame seeds to a small dry pan and roast on low heat until they till color slightly and are fragrant. Take it off the heat.

Take the baked tofu out of the oven and transfer it to a serving dish. Pour the thickened sauce over the top. Sprinkle the sesame seeds.


Simple Vegan Breakfast Oatmeal with the Works

Breakfast is usually a busy time of the day in most homes and my house is no exception. Fixing lunch, getting ready for work, feeding the cats and taking them for a stroll in the garden are some of the things that have to get done. When everything is done, I like to sit down with the family for breakfast. Oatmeal is my go to breakfast. It is the easiest breakfast to put together with a variety of ways to cook it.

Last year I posted my favorite oatmeal recipe. That was before I cut dairy out of my diet. Today I am posting my current favorite vegan oatmeal recipe. I had toyed with using water instead of milk for a long time but I have a problem with mushy texture so I was not sure it would work for me. If you do not like mushy food try this recipe.

Have fun with the toppings. Anything that enhances the flavor works. Here is are some ideas of what I like and use frequently.

You will need
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 scant tsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. ground flax seeds (I buy them whole and grind enough for a week)
1 tsp. unsweetened dried coconut
1 tsp. brown sugar or maple syrup
1 banana (optional)
1 tbsp raisins (optional)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon powder (optional)

Assemble all the ingredients. I have everything in a drawer for quick access in the morning.

Put the oatmeal in a microwave safe bowl with 1/4 cup of water. Cook it for 1 minute. This is the consistency I like. Cook with more or less water as per your taste. Adjust time if needed. Remember all microwave ovens are different. Start with 30 secs and go from there until you find the time that works for you.

Add all the toppings. Chop the fruit and add that to the bowl. Your bowl of oatmeal is ready. I like to eat it as soon as it is done. I do not like mushy texture. I add a little water if I am unable to eat it as soon as it is done.


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.


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!

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 maple syrup. 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 maple syrup
~ 1/2 cup almond butter
a good handful mini chocolate chips

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 maple syrup 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.


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.


Butternut Squash Soup (Vegan, WFPB)

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.


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.


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.


Chocolate Raisin Chewy Cookies

My daughter is home for the long weekend as we have Monday off - Martin Luther King day. She will leave for school some time tomorrow and I am packing all kinds of goodies for her. I may have to make a second batch of these if there are not enough left by tomorrow.

I do not make cookies often but there are a couple of recipes we like and when I do make the cookies I stick to those recipes. Today I wanted to bake cookies but wanted to try something different. I had cocoa but no chocolate chips. I had raisins so I tried these Chocolate and Raisin chewy cookies using the base cookie recipe I follow. The batter is gooey and sticky from the cocoa powder but on the thicker side. The cookies do not spread much in the oven. The trick is to take them out when they are still soft so you get that soft chewy cookie we all love.

You will need (about 18)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar (use any granulated sugar you have on hand)
1 egg
1/2 cup flour (all purpose or whole wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
~1/8 sparse tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cream the softened butter in a bowl. Mix in the sugar. Now break an egg in the bowl and beat until the mixture is well combined. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and the salt. Mix everything together. Finally mix in the raisins.

On a baking sheet drop a tablespoon on cookie batter at a time 2 inches apart. You may use a parchment paper or directly place the batter on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes. The cookies should be soft when they are taken out of the oven. Cool and a rack.


Oatmeal Chia Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Today I am posting a recipe with a combination of flavors mixed into a small ball. Rolled oats and chia seeds combined with peanut butter, coconut flakes and honey make a delicious snack. This recipe is quick to put together and is the perfect mid morning snack. Just one of these energy balls and you are good to go for a couple of hours. Energy balls have been on my list of recipes for the blog for a long time. I am glad I was finally able to post it. 

When my daughter came home for winter break she brought home leftover jars of honey and peanut butter. The raw unfiltered honey had turned to a soft solid mass as the temperature had dropped. And unlike the processed peanut butter with loads of additives, the organic peanut butter she had was just peanut paste with very little salt. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand. The oatmeal chia peanut butter energy balls were ready in no time.

You will need (for 16 balls)
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup dry coconut flakes
2-3 tbsp. chia seeds
3 tbsp. maple syrup
3 tbsp. organic peanut butter
1 tsp salt (optional)

Lightly roast the oats and coconut until warmed. Run through a food processor to break down into small pieces. Do not blend to a powder.

Combine with all the ingredients in a bowl. Adjust honey and peanut butter if needed. Take about a small lime size ball of the mixture and using your palm form into a ball. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. You can store it for a week or two in the refrigerator.


Edible bread basket

Edible Spring Bread Basket / Braided Bread Basket

After I had made an edible bread basket I had this vision of a shallower basket that could be used as a centerpiece decorated with flowers. ...