January 31, 2013

Beets-Cucumber Salad With Ginger-Honey Dressing

My son's school chef is inspiring me a lot these days. Last week, he had made a ginger-cucumber salad. Even though my son is not a big ginger fan, he said he liked the salad. I am very proud that I have been able to raise him to be a real foodie who is brave enough to try different flavors and enjoy them. His school serves very nutritious and wholesome food, which includes local and organic produce, freshly made bread, sauces, etc. Unfortunately he is one of the few kids who enjoy the salads and vegetables on the side. I feel that people have so much going on in their lives, that teaching healthy habits to kids tends to take the least priority, and convenience takes precedence over health.

This salad is inspired from the chef's cucumber ginger salad. I added some sesame seeds and coconut oil to give it a little more Asian flavor.

  • Freshly grated ginger root - 1 Tbs.
  • Lemon juice - from half a lemon
  • Honey - 1 Tbs.
  • Sea Salt - as per taste

  • Whisk everything together to make the dressing.

  • Beets - 2 small
  • Small cucumbers - 2
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Sesame seeds - 1 Tbs.

  • Wash the beets and peel the skin. Cut into half and slice very thin. I cooked it sprinkling little bit of water on medium heat for couple minutes. If you can handle them raw that is the best.
  • Cut cucumber lengthwise and slice them very thin.
  • Mixed cooled beet slices and cucumber slices, add dressing and top with melted coconut oil and sesame seeds.

January 26, 2013

Brown Rice Set-Dosa & Kadala Curry

Set-dosa always brings back memories of my teenage vacation days when our family used to go to  Trivandrum and stay at my Dad's office guest quarters. We used to buy breakfast from a nearby tea stall. It used to be pretty much the same every day - set-dosa and chutney or set-dosa and kadala curry. I still remember the taste of the dosas; nothing special, maybe it was just tasty because of the simplicity.


  • Brown rice  - 1 cup
  • Whole urad dal - 1/3 cup
  • Sea Salt as per taste

  • Soak rice and urud dal separately for about 6 hours. 
  • Drain urad dal completely and start grinding in your wet grinder or high speed blender ( I use Vitamix). Add few tablespoons of water through the grinding to aid the grinding. Once finely ground, transfer to a bowl. 
  • Grind rice with adding enough water and salt to make a thick batter. Add rice batter to ground urud dal and mix well.
  • Keep the batter in a warm place for 6-8 hours till fermented well. You can judge this when the batter has risen to approximately double its volume. I keep my batter inside my oven and keep it warm at the lowest temperature setting in winter months. 
  • You can immediately make dosas or keep the batter refrigerated for about 3-4 days. 
  • Heat a cast iron griddle. Add few drops of your cooking oil to a paper towel clean cloth. You can use this to wipe the griddle before each dosa. Add about 1/4 cup of batter onto hot griddle (don't spread like a regular dosa), and cook covered for about a minute or so, till you see the sides are firm. Flip carefully and cook the other side also the same way. Dosa is being pretty much steam cooked, no need of spraying oil. 
  • This will make about 10 dosas.
Kadala Curry:

  • Black channa - 1/2 cup (you can also try making this with chickpeas or black bean - be creative)
  • Shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
  • Red pearl onion - 3
  • Coriander seeds - 1 Tbs.
  • Red chilly - 1-2 
  • Curry leaves - few (highly recommended, unfortunately I did not have them)
  • Red onion - 1/4 cup (chopped)
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp.
  • Sea salt - as per taste

  • Soak black channa for about 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • Pressure cook with 1 1/2 cups of water. 
  • Heat a pan and dry roast coriander seeds and red chilly on medium heat. Add pearl onions, coconut and curry leaves and roast till raw smell of onion goes away. Add this to your blender jar and grind to very fine paste adding enough water. 
  • To the same pan add coconut oil, on medium heat chopped onion and saute for couple of minutes. Add cooked channa and ground coconut and more water if you need to adjust the consistency. Add salt and turmeric powder.  Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

January 20, 2013

Chocolaté dû Coconut Joy (Raw- Vegan)

My son came up with this name, but this is not a complicated French chocolate recipe as you might think :-). These are just simple coconut balls covered with chocolate, inspired of course from Bounty chocolates. They have only simple organic ingredients: dried organic coconut, organic raw honey, organic cocoa powder, organic agave nectar and organic virgin coconut oil.

For coconut balls:
  • Dried shredded coconut - 2 cups 
  • Raw wildflower honey - 4 Tbs.

  • Powder half the coconut. Mix the with the other half of coconut and honey and shape into small balls. This makes about 18 -20 balls. 

For Chocolate coating:
  • Cocoa powder - 4 Tbs.
  • Virgin Coconut oil - 4 Tbs.
  • Agave nectar - 4 Tbs.

  • Melt coconut oil keeping in a bowl on top of warm water. Mix with agave nectar, add cocoa powder without any lumps. 
  • Dip each ball into the chocolate and arrange on a parchment paper. Keep refrigerated for 30 minutes to harden the chocolate.

January 19, 2013

Thai Inspired Fish Curry

We are coconut lovers, especially coming from the part of India where everything starts and ends with coconut. Unfortunately we have not been consistently getting good fresh coconut in this part of the world. We have been on the lookout for a way to satisfy our craving for good coconut. Our only other alternative was to use frozen coconut from local Indian stores. Even though we have been seeing dried coconut in wholefoods, we were skeptical about the freshness and the wholesomeness. After extensive research on the web, we found that there were many others like us, and they were using and recommending this brand of Organic dehydrated shredded coconut. We got our first batch last week and have been using it since. Extremely happy with the quality of the coconut. Highly recommended :-)

Now for the Thai inspired curry here is the recipe. This list of ingredients and steps might give a feel that it might take a long time to make this. With a little bit of planning of your tasks you can do this efficiently in 30 minutes :)

For paste:

  • Shredded coconut* - 2 Tbs.
  • Fresh ginger - 1/2 inch
  • Garlic - 4 cloves
  • Corinader seeds - 1 Tbs.
  • Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Red chilly powder - 1 -2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon grass - 2 Peels from a stem
  • Lemon juice - from 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt -  as per taste

  • Grind everything to a fine paste adding just enough water (about 1/2 cup) to aid the grinding.

To make coconut milk:
  • Shredded coconut - 6 Tbs.
  • Water - 1 1/2 -  2 cups
  • Grind everything into very fine smooth coconut milk. Vitamix makes it so fine that you don't really need to strain it.

For the curry:
  • Fish - 1 lb - I use Branzini or any similar wild caught fish
  • Snow peas - 10- 15
  • Carrot - 1 medium
  • Green peas - 1/2 cup
  • Shitake mushrooms - 1/2 cup
  • Ginger - 1/2 inch
  • Virgin Coconut oil - 1 tbsn

  • Clean and cut fish into 1/2 inch steaks - Wholefoods does this part for me :)
  • Marinate the fish with the paste prepared above and keep aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Wash and cut vegetables into thin strips or slices.
  • Juliene ginger.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan and add the ginger julienes and saute for a minute.
  • Add the marinated fish steaks and cook each side for a minute or so. Remove and keep aside.
  • To the same pan, add the vegetables, remaining marinade paste and saute for a minute or so.
  • Add the coconut milk and bring to quick boil. Simmer on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Add more salt if needed.
  • Just before removing from flame add fish back in and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.
  • Serve hot with brown rice.

January 17, 2013

Beets: Root & Greens

When you buy beets, do you throw away the greens, or keep them? If you keep them and actually eat them, you are getting a lot more nutrition, in fact more than the beet root itself. You can read more here.

I always keep the greens and try to pair the greens with the beets as 2 dishes to serve with brown rice. These are really simple and easy recipes; recipes that I have grown up with, but with different vegetables.

Beets Pachadi - Raw beets salad 

  • Beets - 3 small 
  • Coconut shredded - 1/2 cup (fresh recommended - but if not available use dried coconut) 
  • Black mustard seeds - 1/2 tspn
  • Red chilly - 1-2 
  • Homemade yogurt - 1/2 cup
  • Sea salt - as per taste 

  • Wash beets well, peel the skin. (I don't completely peel the skin, I just rub the skin softly with knife to remove the very rough outer part of the skin) 
  • Grate the beets into bowl.
  • Grind coconut, mustard and red chilly into a fine paste. Add yogurt if needed to aid grinding.
  • Add ground coconut, yogurt and salt to grated beets and mix well. 

Beet Greens Thoran  - Stir fried beet greens

  • Beet greens with stems - small bunch 
  • Virgin Coconut oil - 1 tbsn
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Red chilly - 1-2
  • Coconut shredded - 1/2 cup (fresh recommended - but if not available use dried coconut) 
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tspn
  • Sea salt - as per taste

  • Wash the greens and drain well.
  • Chop the stem and leaves separately.
  • Mince garlic and red chillies. 
  • Heat coconut oil in a shallow pan over medium heat, add garlic & chilly and saute till garlic is slightly golden. 
  • Add chopped beet green stems and turmeric powder. Sprinkle few tablespoons of water and cook covered for a minute or so. 
  • Add chopped leaves and mix well and cook till the leaves just wilted. Remove from flame so that you don'e over cook them.
  • Add salt and garnish with coconut.
  • Serve both these along with brown rice. 

January 16, 2013

Chilly Spiced Goji Bars (Raw-Vegan)

If you are travelling for work, or generally staying late at work, and you are not sure about the choice of food that you are going to have, it is always a good idea to pack some healthy alternatives from home. A bunch of apples, home made trail-mix with raw nuts/seeds/dry-fruits, home made energy bars etc. can always be handy. Here's a quick recipe for a spicy and nutritious energy bar.

  • Dried goji Berries - 1/2 cup
  • Medjool Dates - 10-12
  • Red chilly - 2-3 (control according to your spice level)
  • Sea salt - a pinch
  • Coconut oil - 1 tbsn
  • Chopped raw nuts - 1 cup (Raw cashews, almonds, walnuts or a mix)

  • Add goji berries, dates, chillies and salt into a dry blender jar and blend till you get a coarse mixture and everything start to bind together.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add coconut oil and chopped nuts and mix well.
  • Press into a shallow rectangular glass dish and keep refrigerated for couple of hours.
  • Cut into bars. This makes about 10 mini-bars.

January 12, 2013

Quinoa Black Bean Chili

There are a lot of quinoa black bean chili recipes online, and in cookbooks. Of course, chili is not something that I grew up with - it is an acquired taste for me. What I have noticed is that chili is  a slow cooked soup.  I have also noticed that a lot of recipes call for canned beans, canned tomatoes, ready made chili powder, and things like that. I am not a slow cooker person, but more of a quick fix person :-) I don't use anything canned either. So what I have tried is to give the slow cooker feel by using VitaMix blending. Also, instead of using ready made chili powder, I used roasted garlic, oregano, sweet peppers, and red chilly powder. Then I  added them while blending in my VitaMix. 

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup Black bean
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 small sweet peppers
  • 1 tbsp of cumin
  • 2 cups of veg broth *
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 -3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp Red chilly powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro
  • EV Olive oil - 1 tbsp

  • Soak Black bean and quinoa separately overnight
  • Cook Black bean with 1 cup of water - I use pressure cooker for this
  • Cook quinoa with 3/4 cup of water - can be done on a saucepan or pressure cooker taking care to not overcook it
  • Meanwhile, crush garlic, chop onion , dice sweet peppers, quarter 1 tomato and chop the remaining 2 tomatoes.
  • Heat olive oil in a deep sauce pan and saute garlic along with cumin and oregano till garlic is slightly browned
  • Transfer to VitaMix jar along with quartered tomato, diced sweet pepper, 2 big scoops from the cooked black bean , red chilly powder and vegetable broth. Start  with speed 1 and increase to 10 and high and blend for couple of minutes till you get a silly smooth puree - this is the soup base.
  • Now to the same saucepan add chopped onion and saute till slightly golden. Add chopped tomatoes, cooked Black bean and quinoa, pureed soup base and salt. Mix well and give a quick boil and adjust taste . You don't need to really simmer for a long time since VitaMix blending is already giving the slow cooked feel to the soup.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

* Note: I make my vegetable broth by pressure cooking my left over vegetables towards the end of the week, pressure cooking them with enough water and then straining them. I don't add salt because I like to control the amount of salt when I make soup.

January 11, 2013

Raw Nutty Fudge Bites

You can call these fudge bites, brownie bites, energy bites, or anything else :-) What matters is that there is no baking involved, it can be put together in a jiffy, and it has no refined flour, sugar, or fat. It is raw, vegan, gluten free and above all kid-approved - my son cannot get enough of it :-)

  • Pumpkin seeds -1/4 cup
  • Buckwheat -1/2 cup
  • Chia seeds -1/4 cup
  • Medjool Dates - 8-10
  • Raw cocoa powder - 1/4 cup
  • Cashew - 1/4 cup
  • Almonds - 1/4 cup
  • Raisins -1/2 cup

  • Powder buckwheat and pumpkin seeds using any dry grinder - I use VitaMix dry grinder jar.
  • Powder chia seeds, add dates and continue powdering till dates are mashed up well, add buckwheat and and pumpkin seed powders and cocoa powder.
  • Everything will now start binding together. Transfer to a bowl. 
  • Coarsely chop almonds, cashews, and raisins using same blender jar. 
  • Transfer to bowl and mix everything together and press into 1/2 inch thick rectangle. I used a glass rectangular dish. Cut into 1 inch squares.

January 7, 2013

Rejuvenating Herb'n'Spice Tea

There is no real tea involved in this one. Just rejuvenating ingredients like fresh ginger, black-pepper, coriander, tulsi, and turmeric. This is inspired from "Chukku Kappi" and Coriander tea. There are some tastes and memories that stay with us for a life time. Chukku Kappi (dried ginger coffee) is one of those nostalgic tastes that I carry with me, along with the memories of an old Sabarimala pilgrimage with my grandma, uncle and cousin. Coriander tea is something that we had invented for rare late night movie sessions :-). Now here is something that we have been drinking every evening for the past week. It has been helping us with the cold weather outside and the sniffles and coughs inside :-)

  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch piece
  • Black pepper corns - about 15
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tspn
  • Tulsi - few leaves fresh or 1 tspn dried tulsi powder - I used contents from a bag of tulsi tea
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Filtered water -  3 cups
  • Milk - 1/2 cup (optional)
  • Coconut palm sugar or Honey - to sweeten

  • Grate or crush ginger, crush pepper corns and coriander seeds (I use my spice grinder to do this)
  • Add the herbs and spices along with water to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • If not using milk, sieve directly to cups and sweeten according to taste and serve.
  • If using milk, add it to the simmering tea and heat thru and sieve into cups and sweeten and serve.
  • Makes 3 servings.

January 3, 2013

Mango Fig Chia Breakfast Pudding (Raw-Vegan)

Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants.. here's more on chia seeds by Dr Weil..

We have been trying to include chia seeds in our smoothies, energy bars, snack balls, etc, for quite some time now. Here's another quick and yummy way to include chia in your breakfast. This is taking advantage of the fact that chia soaks up on the liquid around it and becomes an easy to make, gel-like pudding.

  • Frozen Mango chunks - 1 1/2 cups
  • Dried Calimyrna Figs - 5
  • Almonds - a handful
  • Filtered water - 2 cups
  • Chia seeds - 3 Tbsn
  • Chopped figs or Raisins - 1/4 cup
  • Chopped fresh fruits (Optional)

  • Add mango chunks, figs, almonds, and water into VitaMix jar and blend at high speed for 1 minute or till you get a smoothie consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl, add chia seeds and chopped figs (or raisins) mix well and keep soaked for 2-3 hours or keep refrigerated over night.
  • Serve optionally with fresh cut fruits.

January 1, 2013

Fig-Goji Berry Breakfast Spread (Raw-Vegan)

Goji Berries:

Goji berry is a bright orange-red berry that comes from a shrub that's native to China. In Asia, goji berries have been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer. Over time, people have used goji berries to treat many common health problems like diabeteshigh blood pressurefever, and age-related eye problems. Goji berries are eaten raw, cooked, or dried (like raisins) and are used in herbal teas, juices, wines, and medicines. Read more >>

Figs originated in Arabia and grow best in areas with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually an inverted flower, and the seeds are the fruit, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. Flower or fruit, the nutrient-rich dried fig can help you meet some of your essential nutrient needs, making it a healthy addition to your diet. Read more>>

Here's a wholesome and yummy breakfast spread with Goji berries, Figs, Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and Dates: 

  • Pumpkin seeds - 1/4 cup  
  • Dried Goji Berries - 1/4 cup
  • Sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup  
  • Medjool Dates - 3 Dried 
  • Calimyrna Figs - 4-5  
  • Raw cocoa powder - 1 Tbsn (Optional)  

  • Soak the goji berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and dates for about 3 hours. 
  • Drain and add everything to blender jar, add chopped figs and cocoa powder (if using).
  • Start pulsing at low speed, gradually increasing to grind everything to a chunky but spreadable consistency.
  • Keep refrigerated till ready to use. Use within couple of days. 
  • Serves - 5-6 

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