I was getting tired of the green salad recipes. I suppose Vipul was too so to mix things up a little, I made him a crunchy salad.
I had celery, broccoli, green beans and raddichio on hand. The last was an impulse buy. This is a winter vegetable. In season here in US. A new one to add to our routine. Its purple and white ribbed leaves are so beautiful. Tempting. Inviting.
I didn’t really know what to do with it and was torn between roasting it and eating it as is. I ate one raw, and it was so bitter. I know based on my Indian cooking experience that if a vegetable is bitter, blanching it in water removes the bitterness. I decided to go with that approach.
Raddichio was chopped and soaked in hot water.
Broccoli and green beans were blanched in hot water.
Kidney beans were marinated.
Everything was tossed in a soy sriracha dressing and served with salmon.
It was crunchy, flavorful, a little spicy and a little tangy.
Vipul was tired of chewing all the crunchy vegetables so if your guy is like him then serve it as a side rather than a main salad. I topped mine with cold soba noodles in sesame oil and let me tell you it was 100% yumm!
Will make this again, in a heart beat.
Note: Sriracha sauce has sugar in it. So if you are on no sugar diet, replace sriracha sauce with another hot sauce of your choice.
Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing Recipe
- 1/2 head of raddichio thinly sliced (about 2 cups of sliced leaves)
- 3 cups hot water + 2 cups water to blanch vegetables
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (use less if you want it to be little less spicy)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly.
- 1 1/2 cups brocoli chopped roughly
- 1/2 cup green beans diced
- 1/2 cup celery diced
1. Soak the raddichio leaves in hot water for about 20 – 30 minutes to remove the bitterness from the leaves. Set aside.
2. Whisk together siracha, soy and sesame oil. Toss some of the dressing over the kidney beans. Set aside in a large bowl.
3. In the meantime, boil water in a saucepan. Once you have a rolling boil, blanch broccoli and green beans in hot boiling water till they turn bright green.
4. Once the vegetables are blanched, scoop them out and add them to the kidney beans bowl.
5. Drain the water from raddichio leaves and add the leaves and celery to the kidney beans – vegetables bowl. Add some more of the soy -siracha dressing.
Toss well. Taste and add more dressing as appropriate.
Serve immediately with grilled salmon or tofu.
Vipul is on to Phase 2 of South beach diet. This simply means he can introduce carbs back into his diet.
One serving for a few days and then add another for a total of 3- 4 servings of complex carbs and two servings of low sugar fruits ( apples, pears etc).
The idea of the whole exercise is to eat more vegetables ( 4 1/2 cups non starchy vegetables), complex carbohydrates, good fat and good protein.
As goes with diets, you get bored with the routine and need something warm and bold to shake up the routine.
Leeks and Fennel provide that exactly. Both have their own unique flavors. And I was worried how they would pair. I have never cooked with leeks before and have only recently “discovered” fennel. I saw online recipes that paired them with citrus fruits, tomatoes or even potatoes. But since all of those were out of question, I decide to give a try with red bell pepper and zucchini to tone down the flavors.
And this was an experiment, I prayed would succeed. Else poor Vipul has nothing for dinner 😦
Luckily this is one pairing that worked in favor. Vipul liked the salad. The crunch of red bell pepper and zucchini is satisfying. Mushrooms and celery would be good too.Next morning, he even used this salad as a base to make fried eggs and he loved that combination even more.
Serve this salad with poached eggs, some citrus fruits and you are set for a healthy and nourishing meal.
Hope you like it as well.
Braised Leeks and Fennel Salad Recipe
- 2 Leeks, roots trimmed, outer firmer leaves removed and washed.
- 1 Fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered (discard stalks; save some fennel fronds for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or orange juice )
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Pinch of chili powder
- Salt to taste
1. Quarter the leeks and cut them into 1 inch segments. Wash again if necessary and set aside on a towel to dry.
2. Thinly slice the fennel bulb , discarding the tough base. Marinate it in lemon juice and salt for at least 30 minutes.
3. Heat oil in a pan. Once heated, add garlic and cumin seeds. Saute them taking care not to burn it for a minute or so.
4. Add the leeks and cook for a minute, working the pan to avoid charring the leeks. Add the chili powder. Mix well.
Saute for another couple of minutes till tender.
Taste and adjust salt.
5. Remove the leeks in a bowl. Layer the fennel with the marinade over the leeks. Layer the zucchini and lastly the red bell pepper.
Toss well and serve immediately garnished with fennel fronds.
Salads are basis of all diet programs. Eat more veggies!
And that’s where we falter. After a while the green salad becomes boring. We start craving carbs and bolder spicier flavors.
Before Vipul reaches that point, I made him a bold and spiced eggplant-cauliflower and chickpeas salad. Roasted eggplant and cauliflower make a “warm and nourishing” base for this salad. It has that “feel good” effect of a fulfilling meal on a cold winter night. The flavors are reminiscent of Indian curries – cumin, coriander and red chili powder. Paired with protein powerhouse of chickpeas and crunch of other veggies like celery and radishes, this was a complete meal.
I topped mine with diced cooked chicken sausage for an extra boost but any other protein would work just fine. Vipul had his as is and was blown away by the flavors of eggplant, roasted cauliflower and lemony-mustard flavors of the chickpeas.
Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients. The hands on prep is really easy and mostly it is the oven that does the work. It roasts and caramelizes the eggplant and cauliflower and brings out their natural flavors. This is probably the only way I will eat eggplant – ever!
Use a Chinese or Indian eggplant that has a thin skin rather than the globe one that I used. The skin was a bit tough on roasting. Or maybe I should have peeled it before roasting.
I am loving this diet phase of Vipul’s. I get to try new recipes, new vegetables ( fennel, butternut squash, and now eggplants!) and he gets a fresh home cooked meal every night! Bring it on weight loss 🙂
Spiced Eggplant, Cauliflower and Chickpeas Salad Recipe
- 1 cup cauliflower florets sliced
- 1/2 eggplant sliced into rounds ( any 1/4 inch thick)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
- Salt to taste
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 celery sticks diced
- 4-5 small red radishes diced
- 1/4 red onion diced
- 1/4 cup pre-cooked edamame pods
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Salt to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
While the oven pre-heats, lay cauliflower and eggplant on two baking sheets in a single layer. ( I used a bowl and foil as I don’t have baking sheets in temporary accommodation here; but baking sheets will give even results). Lightly sear the eggplant in a cross hatch/tic-tac-toe pattern with knife on both sides.
2. Oil the eggplants and cauliflower. Then add the spices (cumin, coriander,, chili) and salt. Toss the veggies to make sure that the spices cover it.
(Alternately prep these in a bowl and then layer them on baking sheets)
3. Bake the cauliflower and eggplant for about 30 – 40 minutes till they are golden brown. Depending on how thick the eggplant slices are they may need additional time. Keep them in till they looked cooked and their sides curl up.
4. In another bowl, mix mustard, lemon juice and salt. Marinate the celery, edamame, chickpeas, red onion and radishes in the mustard-lemon mix. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.
5. Once the cauliflower and eggplant are done, take them out. Start with eggplant as a base, layer cauliflower over the eggplant circles and then top with the chickpeas-veggie mix.
190 lbs!! Are you sure? I asked Vipul last Thursday as he walked in from his doctor’s appointment.
Yea, and even the blood pressure is higher than normal. And I suspect my triglycerides are also on higher side.
Probably even my cortisol.
It’s not the first time we are dealing with weight gain and high BP. Vipul has been struggling with this for years now and with exercise and diet we have managed to keep it under control. But the last couple of months have been especially stressful. Between the apartment hunting, school search, finding a doctor for both Varun and me; its been hectic to say the least.
Not to mention some drama on my part as I adjust to staying at home while Vipul and Varun go off in the mornings to their busy schedules.Also we have been eating out a lot while out between appointments.
So, now that we are a bit settled on apartment/school/doctor/midwife/car front, its time to focus on eating right. Playing with Varun and walking to work has incorporated some exercise in Vipul’s routine; its time to eat more veggies.
The other flip side to our move also has been that Varun has stopped eating veggies. He will have occasional carrots and peas but nothing else. Our hope is that by incorporating more veggies in our daily routine, we will set a good example for Varun!
South Beach diet has worked well for us in the past – with its focus on veggies, fruits, proteins, complex carbs and fats. Its easier for the entire family to adopt this diet. Vipul is starting with Phase One to eliminate cravings and kickstart his diet while Varun and I will be on Phase Three which focuses on healthy eating habits for life. Their one principle I love is to eat a lot of variety of vegetables at every meal and eat good fat to help body absorb vitamins. That’s one thing advocated by couple of other blogs that I follow: 100 days of Real Food and Deliciously Organic.
To start the diet, I made fennel and radish slaw to go with salmon.
I have never cooked with fennel bulb before so I didn’t really know what to expect or if Vipul would like it. I know it has a strong taste which can be mellowed with lemon juice. So I went ahead, thinly sliced the fennel bulb and marinated it in lemon-orange juice, seasoned it. And served it raw with thinly sliced radishes.
Layered over baby spinach and skillet grilled salmon, it was a pair made in heaven. It didn’t taste like diet food at all. Flavorful, crunchy, colorful – now we are talking.
Shaved Fennel and Radish Slaw in Citrus Dressing Recipe
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of paprika
- Salt to taste
- 1 Small bulk fennel thinly sliced
- 4-5 radishes thinly sliced
1. Mix all the citrus dressing ingredients in a bowl (from lemon juice through salt). Place the fennel slices in the citrus dressing for at least 30 minutes.
2. Remove fennel slices from the citrus dressing and layer them with radishes.
Spoon the dressing over the slaw. Or over the fish.
Serve at room temperature.
Taking a break from the desserts that I have been posting here lately, I wanted to share with you a recipe for a really tasty, sweet and spicy veggie burger. After all a little bit of spice is nice.
No, no, I hope I didn’t lose you at “veggie” or the “spicy” part. These are damn good vegetarian burgers. Vipul who doesn’t care for veggie burgers enjoyed them . Thats saying a lot! And hence the atypical second post for today.
Butternut squash is so good for us – fiber, beta carotene, loaded with Vitamin A and C and even folate – it is a super food in itself. Pair it with black beans – a protein powerhouse- you have a healthy and filling burger. A can of black beans saves some hassle and roasting the squash brings out its natural sweetness. Paired with some chili powder, cumin and ginger, the patty dough is tasty as is.
Mustard and ketchup are the simple accompaniments to keep the focus on the flavors of the patty.
The best part, it can be made ahead and kept frozen for a quick weeknight healthy meal.
Give it a try this weekend. I guarantee even pickiest of eaters will love it.
Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burgers Recipe
- 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/2 + 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1/2 inch knob of ginger root, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon green chili pepper finely diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon canola oil to fry the patties
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, cumin seeds, chili powder and salt. Bake for 30 mins till tender. It should be easy to mash them up with a spoon.
2. In the meantime, wash the black beans well and marinate them in lemon juice, ginger root, green chili pepper and salt. Set aside till the squash is done.
3. Remove the squash from the oven. Let it cool a bit. Mash it well with back of a spoon.
4. Mix the squash, black beans and bread crumbs. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shape into patties.
5. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the patties about a minute or two on each side taking care not to char them.
Serve them on sandwich or burger or in enchiladas or simply as is with a bit of mustard and ketchup!
I recently joined The Daring Kitchen, an online community where everyone month a new challenging recipe or technique is posted and enthusiasts around the world recreate it and post their results.
I was too late for their March 2013 Cheese Making Challenge, but I decided to try it out regardless. There were a few recipes shared on true cheeses like Mozzarella and Goat cheese. But as I didn’t have necessary ingredients on hand, I decided to go with a soft cheese recipe for Labneh. Labneh is a soft breakfast cheese made from yogurt. Besides being yogurt based, it actually needs no other ingredients and is a recipe ( if I can call hanging a yogurt to drain the whey a recipe) that works on its own.
Hanging the yogurt to remove its moisture is a typical first step in making Srikhand – a very traditional Maharashtrian desert. I remember days when my mom used to do this to create a very dry curd base called – chakka and then mix it with sugar, saffron or mango pulp to make Srikhand and Amrakhand. A creamy desert loved by kids and adults alike!
Using labneh, I wanted to make a modern version of this traditional Indian desert. So instead of a sweet nutty desert, I served it as a light breakfast parfait complete with saffron and pistachios.
Pairing the crunchy watermelons chunks with the soft creamy labneh is an exotic way to start your day. Top it with a dollop of orange marmalade and honey for a touch of sweetness, while pistachios elevated the crunch factor. I surprised Vipul with these on a weekday morning by serving them in wine goblets as they allowed for a generous serving. Varun was excited by the colorful watermelon while I loved the crunchiness of pistachios and watermelon against the creamy labneh. I would love to try this with mangoes in summer. Though I think any fruit would work just as well -strawberries, blueberries, peaches!
A perfect start to any day where you want to feel like you are on vacation even though tons of work awaits you. Bliss in a glass when stresses abound. Try it. Am sure it will help you escape your daily work realities!
Watermelon Labneh Parfait Recipe
- 32 Oz container of full fat yogurt
- 1 generous pinch – Saffron strands
- Watermelon chunks – 1 cup
- 2 tablespoon marmalade or honey
- 1/4 cup pistachios -coarsely chopped
1. Take a clean white non terry cloth ( muslin or large men’s cotton handkerchief) and place yogurt in it. Tie it into a bundle. Place it in a colander with a bowl underneath to collect the whey. Let this drain in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight to drain.
2. Squeeze excess whey out of the yogurt before opening the yogurt bundle. Whisk the strained yogurt labneh with saffron to make it smooth and creamy.
3. In serving glasses, layer watermelon, labneh and pistachios. Drizzle some honey on top or scoop in orange marmalade. Top with pistachios.
Chill for a couple of hours to overnight. Serve chilled.