Categories
General Recipes

Drink your Vegetables!!!: A Healthy Carrot Beet Juice Recipe

I’ve started drinking fresh juices! If you’ve been reading other posts of mine, you know that I struggle with eating vegetables. I especially hate how crunchy they are. Which is why, if I ever eat them, I eat them very cooked. I have found, however, that I can “drink my vegetables”,  even raw vegetables, without too much difficulty.  A carrot, beet (beetroot), orange, and ginger concoction I made yesterday for instance, was actually pretty refreshing!

Healthy Carrot Beet Juice

Of course eating whole vegetables is so much better for you. If you’re simply not eating enough vegetables though, for whatever reason,  juicing is a good way to supplement your nutrient intake. Also, when it comes to people like me who dislike vegetables, I see juices as the opposite of a gateway drug, they’re a gateway to healthier eating. At least, I am hoping they are.

Anyway, it’s week 2 and I am still keeping at it. Every day, I make myself some juice, varying the vegetables so that I am getting a range of nutrients. If you’re looking to try your hand at juicing and haven’t done it before, this is a great starter juice. I use a juicer, but I have heard of people using a Vitamix and then straining out the pulp if they don’t like it.

Ingredients:

8 Carrots (with the ends cut off)

2 Beets (peeled, with ends cut off) (you can use just one beet if you don’t like the strong “root” flavour of beets and just use 2 extra carrots instead)

1 Orange (peeled) (you could also use an apple)

2 inch Piece of Ginger

Healthy juice Recipe

 

Method:

  1. Wash the fruit and vegetables well.
  2. Cut them as needed depending on the size of your juicer feeding tube.
  3. Feed the ingredients into the juicer.
  4. Pour the juice into a glass.
  5. Enjoy your juice 🙂

How to make your diet more healthy

P.s. You could use the pulp to bake muffins. I plan on trying this out at some point and will update this post, when I do.

Categories
General Recipes

Easy Fondue for a Rainy Day!

Today was a bit chilly compared to the past week and it has been raining all evening.  I’ve also been trying to cut down on my sugar consumption. All these factors combined left me craving something warm, delicious, and indulgent. My normal go-to cure for rainy-day blues would be a cup of rich, dark, hot chocolate accompanied by a cookie and some truffles (I’ve written about my idea of a delicious hot chocolate afternoon snack before). Given the fact that I am trying to reduce my sugar-intake for the next week though, hot chocolate was not an option. What then?

I wanted something special, a treat, and something warm…and then, I hit upon it: Fondue!  I made several winter trips to Basel (a little town in Switzerland), when I lived in Europe a few years ago. I was even there for the Basler Fasnacht!

Basler Fasnacht!

Basel Carnival

Basler Fasnacht!

Basel Spring Carnival

 

Anyway, I digress, my point is, naturally, one of my favourite things to do in Switzerland was eat Fondue! For lunch, dinner, and dessert! It was delicious! Fondue, I shall make, I decided.

Mmmm. It definitely hit the spot!

Super Easy Fondue Recipe

 

This is a fairly simple recipe, with very few ingredients involving even fewer steps. So go for it if you’re at the tail end of a chilly day or in the middle of a cold winter day!

Ingredients:

1/4 pound Gruyere Cheese

1/4 pound Emmentaler Cheese

1/2 Tbsp Corn Starch

A couple of splashes of Kirsch (If you don’t have this, skip it and use a 1/2 Tbsp of lemon juice, instead)

1/2 cup any white wine

1 pod of garlic

A sprig of Rosemary

Ground Pepper (optional)

Toasted slices of bread or blanched vegetables of your choice, to dip into the Fondue

 

Method:

  1. Grate the cheese. I used a food processor, which makes grating faster and easier.
  2. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub it all over the insides of a small, heavy bottomed pot.
  3. Heat the wine on medium-heat in the garlic-coated pot.
  4. In the meantime, dissolve the cornstarch in the Kirsch. If you don’t have Kirsch, toss the grated cheese with the cornstarch to lightly coat the cheese with the starch.
  5. Once the wine is simmering, add the Kirsch-starch solution, if using.
  6. Next, add the cheese by the handful, waiting for each handful of cheese to melt, before adding the next. Keep stirring in between each round of cheese being added. (At this stage, if you did not use Kirsch, add a half tablespoon of lemon juice.)
  7. Once the cheese is all melted, transfer the cheese to a fondue pot, if you have one. If you don’t have one, and your fondue thickens while you’re eating it, reheat the fondue, on low heat, with a splash of wine.
  8. Dip toasted bread and/or vegetables and go Mmmmm!

 

 

 

Categories
Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

Dondakaya Vepudu: A Delicious, Easy, Andhra-Style Vegetable Sauté

Tindora, Dondakaya, Indian Ivy Gourd, Low fat South Indian Vegetable Sauté

Dondakaya is a common vegetable in Andhra Pradesh (a State in Southern India). While I normally hate eating vegetables, this particular vegetable, prepared in the way my parents make it, I find absolutely delicious! If you’d like to try it, all you have to do is go to an Indian store and ask for “Tindora” which is the Hindi name for it. Once you get your hands on this vegetable, this is a fairly easy recipe to replicate.

Dondakaya Vepudu, Tindora fry, South Indian Veggie Sauté

Dondakaya or Tindora has a slightly tangy taste, and when sautéed in the manner I describe below, it turns out mostly soft, but slightly crunchy. Overall, it’s a flavourful vegetable with nutritional and health benefits. For one thing, according to WebMd it is “possibly effective” for helping manage diabetes by improving blood sugar control. It is also rich in beta carotene which can be converted by the body to Vitamin A (See Artemis C. Simopolous & C. Gopalan, Plants in Human Health, Basel, Switzerland: Karger, 2003) page 64-65).

If you’d like to give it a try, here is what you will beed:

Ingredients:

500 g Tindora/Dondakaya/Indian Ivy Gourd

1 small or medium onion, sliced (yellow or red)

3-4 dried red chillis

1 -2 tsp of red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 – 3/4 tsp cumin powder (optional)

1/2- 3/4 tsp coriander powder (cilantro seeds, ground) (optional)

3 tbsp oil (I use avocado oil, but you can use any oil that doesn’t have a very strong flavour/fragrance)

 

Method:

1. Slice the Dondakaya either widthways into rings, or lengthways into strips.

2. Add about 1.5 tbsp oil in a pan and heat it at medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced Dondakaya to the pan.

Tindora, Indian Ivy Gourd, Dondakaya

3. Sauté the Dondakaya for a few minutes, tossing the slices constantly.

4. Cover the pan and let the Dondakaya cook on low heat for about 10-13 minutes until the vegetable is softened.



5. Move the Dondakaya into a separate bowl. Add 1.5 tbsp of oil to the pan again, increase the heat to medium, and add the red chillies and toss until they darken. Then, add the onions and sauté.


6. Once the onions are softened and browned, add the Dondakaya to the pan again, and toss. Season with turmeric, chilli powder and cumin and coriander (if using) and stir the contents of the pan about, for a few minutes, until the spices are more evenly distributed over the Dondakaya pieces.

7. Once the spices are well distributed, take the pan of the heat and serve the Dondakaya Vepudu!

You can serve it as part of a South Indian meal with Pappu (lentils) and/or Pulusu (a tamarind broth with vegetables) and/or Rasam and/or Sambar, rice, roti, and yogurt.

Dondakaya Vepudu in South Indian Meal

 

Dondakaya Vepudu; Tindora fry, Healthy Veggie Sauté

Sometimes though, when I am busy, I make just the Vepudu and eat it with yogurt 🙂

 

Categories
Chocolate General

Brainy Choconutmeg!!!

 

chocolate and red wine, flavanoids, resveratrol, smarter

I’ve written about the gloriousness of chocolate many, many times, including its health benefits. If there is one belief I have in life, it is this: chocolate is an elixir of happiness. Now, there’s one more study that supports my thesis that chocolate is basically magic.

According to new study, published in the journal Appetite, frequent consumption of chocolate was:

 

“significantly associated with better performance on [cognitive tests including] visual-spatial memory and organisation, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination”.

 

The study’s researchers used data collected from a Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) involving 968 people (between 23 and 98 years old). Cocoa flavanols, a type of flavonoid found in chocolate, are said to be associated with this increased cognitive function.

Oh and studies are beginning to show that red wine (in moderation) is also good for us (see this website for a good summary of the research on flavanoids), so why not couple some handmade delicious truffles with wine 🙂

Categories
Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

Healthy Palak Dal (Spinach Lentils)

I made chocolates today and I was going to sit down with a cup of Jasmine tea and write about them. When I looked at my blog home page, however, I realized that my last post was also about chocolate (in fact, a LOT of my posts are about chocolate). Also, Easter was just the other day, so it occurred to me that some of you are probably feeling a little stuffed, maybe even a little ill from all the chocolate eating. In thinking about how guilty and sick you might be feeling, I began to feel somewhat stuffed myself. I’ve been eating loads of homemade, cheese covered pizza and of course, tonnes of chocolate. It was time, I decided, to eat something yummy but healthy.

So, I made myself the healthiest lunch that I am capable of enjoying. It included one of my favourite dishes, palak dal (spinach lentils) and was served with rice and baked beets and sweet potatoes.

Palakoora pappu, palak pappu, palak pulusu, palak dal, spinach dal, lentil soup

In general, I hate eating  vegetables. The prospect of having to eat a bowl of crunchy and/or leafy vegetables makes me feel ill, miserable and hopeless. Yet, this lunch included tonnes of spinach and I still loved it! The spinach lentils shown above, are as flavourful, as they are good for you (I am no doctor or nutritionist, but I think you will all agree with me when you see the ingredient list). I think spices make vegetables not only edible, but enjoyable 🙂

Healthy Indian food, low-fat spinach lentils, palak dal

 

You can also include rotis and a light vegetable sauté with the meal. I also like to eat some yoghurt along with my meal, but of course, this isn’t compulsory.

 

Indian healthy spinach lentil soup recipe

A quick note:  You can adjust the level of spice easily. In the list of ingredients in the recipe below, I have provided a range of amounts for various spices; you can decide whether you want to stay on the lower side of that range or be brave and add in the highest amount that I recommend.

If you would like to try to make the lentils, the recipe is below; I will write later about the sauté.

Ingredients:

1 cup Pesara Pappu (Moong Dal in Hindi; a type of lentil, native to India; you can also use Toor Dal, or Masoor Dal)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2-3 tablespoons of oil (I use either avocado oil or sunflower oil)

1 large onion or 2 medium-sized onions (red or yellow) chopped

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

3-4 cloves of garlic, skinned (you can also crush them if you don’t like having large pieces of garlic in your dal: I like the chunks :))

3-6 green chilies cut in half lengthwise (You can reduce this amount if you don’t want the dal to be too hot/spicy)

2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 – 1 teaspoon coriander (cilantro) seed powder

1 – 2 teaspoons red chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon of garam masala (optional)

About a medium-sized bunch of spinach (250 g) (I used organic baby spinach)

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (you can use white if you don’t have brown sugar) (optional)

Salt to taste

Ingredients for the tadka, baghar, or popu:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3-12 dried red chilies

1 or 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves (optional)

2-4 peeled whole garlic cloves

2-3 tablespoons of ghee (You can get ghee at an Indian store. If you want to make your own, here is my recipe. If you don’t have ghee, you can simply use sunflower oil, vegetable oil, or really any oil with a high smoking point. DO NOT USE BUTTER, it will smoke and burn before the spices are properly fried).

Method:

1. The first thing to do is to prepare the dal (lentils). I use moong dal for this recipe. If you don’t live in India, you should be able to get most lentils at an Indian store. I normally soak lentils for a few hours before I cook them (this helps them cook faster and apparently helps to reduce bloating and gas; I am still looking for studies to back this up, which I will cite here when I find them). If you don’t have the time to do this, you can skip this step. This is how the lentils look soaked:

Moong dal (lentils native to the Indian subcontinent)

2. The easiest way to cook dal is to cook it in a pressure cooker. If you don’t have one, just boil the dal in water until its cooked. Add half a teaspoon  each of turmeric and salt to the dal before you cook it. Once it’s cooked it should look like this:

Cooked moong dal

3. I like to purée the dal in a food processor/blender/mixie in order to make it into a smooth paste. This makes the texture of the dal smoother and distributes flavour more evenly. This step is completely optional, however. You can skip it without much consequence to the taste of your dal if you do not have either the necessary equipment or the time.

4. In the meantime, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan. When it’s hot add the chopped onions and sauté them until softened and lightly browned. Now add the ginger, garlic, and green chillies and sauté again until the ginger and garlic is cooked (their raw smell should vanish).

5. Add the tomatoes, followed by cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, garam masala (if you are using it), and half a teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook all of this for about 10 minutes on low-medium heat.

6. Meanwhile, rinse the spinach well.

Spinach for healthy lentil soup

7. Place the spinach in a bowl and microwave for a minute, until tender.  I like to simply use a herb scissors or a normal pair of scissors and cut up the spinach in the bowl (after it has been microwaved) into slightly smaller bits. If you don’t like this method, you can, of course, chop the spinach on a cutting board with a knife (before or after you microwave it.

8. Add the spinach to the sauce pan, then add the lentils and sugar (if you are using it). Let everything cook for about 5 minutes.

9. The baghar/popu/tadka:

Heat a tablespoon or two of ghee in a little saucepan like this:

Hot ghee

Let the ghee get hot. To test if it’s hot enough, throw a single cumin seed into the pan. If it begins to sizzle, add the rest of the cumin and stir the seeds about until they start to pop. When they start to pop, add the curry leaves, garlic cloves and red chilies.

Baghar
Tadka, popu or baghar

Once the red chillies darken like this:

Baghar, tadka or popu

Add the baghar to the lentils.

Making Hyderabadi Palak Dal (Spinach Lentils)

Immediately cover the pot.

The dal is now ready! Serve it with some hot rice and/or roti, dahi (yogurt), Indian pickle, ghee, and any other accompanying curries or vegetable sauté.

In the photograph below, it is served with rice , roti, dahi (yogurt), some pickle (Gongura pickle, to be precise, which you can get in most Indian stores if you live in North America) and sautéed Dondakaya (Indian Ivy Gourd).

 

Healthy South Indian lunch with lentil soup

 

Categories
Chocolate Food General Recipes

Boozy Berries: Champagne Strawberries!

While plain old chocolate-covered strawberries are delicious in themselves (I’ve blogged about those before) some evenings or afternoons call for something with a little more Oomph; champagne gives strawberries exactly that!

Making these champagne-y berries is a little more complicated than simply serving your friends some fruit, but I think they’re fun and worth the effort!

Oh and a quick note: my partner got excited about injecting the berries with other sorts of alcohol, so we tried rum, vodka, and whiskey. We both felt all three options were too strong and they overpowered the strawberries; we would not recommend them!

 

Ingredients:

12-15 Strawberries

100 g good quality dark chocolate (I used Côte d’Or)

A cup of champagne (you might want to buy a mini-bottle of champagne, unless you want to drink the left-over champagne from a full-size bottle)

Equipment:

A tray

A sheet of parchment paper or wax paper

A syringe

A bain marie (double boiler) and stove, or a bowl and microwave

Method:

1. Wash the strawberries.

2. Fill the syringe with champagne and then inject each strawberry. Just experiment with it a little and see how much champagne you want in each strawberry. You will actually see the fruit fill out and become more plump. You’ll know if you’ve injected too much because the champagne will start squirting out of the fruit. It’s quite a fun process 🙂

IMG_1973

3. Once all the berries have been injected, melt some chocolate in a bowl. Ideally, one ought to temper the chocolate (go to this website for a pretty clear explanation of how to do it in case you are not familiar with the process). Tempering will ensure that the chocolate is glossy and shiny. If you don’t have the time and/or the patience, you can skip the tempering.

20151114_170526

 

4. Carefully dip each strawberry into the chocolate, holding the leafy portion of it, and then place it on a tray lined with parchment/wax paper.

5. Once all the berries have been coated, let them set on the tray for about 30 minutes.

Champagne filled chocolate strawberries

Champagne filled chocolate strawberries

6. Serve them to your guests!

Categories
Adventure General

Heavenly Visions of Chocolate?

On a recent trip to Niagara Falls on the United States side, I came across this church:

 

Chocolate Church, Niagara Falls, NY

In case it wasn’t evident from the first photograph. Here is another one that shows the board outside the church more clearly:

IMG_2254

There was no other signage of any kind, so I have absolutely no idea what sort of church this is, or how chocolate is involved in their worship. If anyone knows anything about this, do let me know in the comments!

A quick google search produced nothing illuminating. I found it so fascinating, I had to stop and take a photograph!