gobi musallam (coconut curried cauliflower)

Hello readers! Sorry i have been on a hiatus, lots of moving and cleaning going on in my end. Last week I made this cauliflower dish that I have been eyeing/wanting to make for a while and it came out splendidly. Served with rice, a side of pita, some baba ghanoush, and fries (which I will be posting the recipe for shortly) it was the perfect meal and very filling dinner (although this cauliflower does look like a brain). Gobi means “cauliflower” and musallam means “whole” or “perfect.” It is served with a makhani gravy (generally made with butter and gravy but in this case it is made with coconut).

I found this recipe on Vegan Richa, one of my new favorite vegan sites, filled with plenty of Indian cuisine recipes. The blanched and baked cauliflower came out very tender and went nicely with the creamy, sweet and flavorful gravy, due to the mixture of coconut milk and other spices.

Cauliflower is a great and versatile vegetable, as it is not extremely flavorful and absorbs the the flavors of its seasoning. I also recently made spicy buffalo cauliflower bites (recipe soon to come) and it tasted very similar to buffalo chicken bites, much to my delight. Cauliflower is very low in calories (only 29 calories per 1 cup) and contains high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B-vitamins, and other minerals. There are connections to cauliflower in cancer prevention, detox support by antioxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits from vitamin K, and digestive benefits from fiber.

Also a side note, this recipe requires you to “blanch” the cauliflower, something I have never done before. Blanching means placing the vegetable in boiling water for a few minutes and then placing the vegetable in iced water to “shock it” and stop the cooking process, in order to remove some of the bitterness of the cauliflower.

Recipe (adapted from Vegan Richa):

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cauliflower head with leaves and stems removed
  • Water to blanch
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

For Gravy/Curry:

  • 2 teaspoons oil (olive or canola)
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped (I used white onion)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala ( I didn’t have any so I used curry powder, but it is normally a blend of traditional Indian spices and you can make it yourself here.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk, from can
  • 1/4 cup ground cashew (I didn’t have any so I used 1/4 cup coconut/non-dairy yogurt)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar or 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Boil water and immerse, fully, the head of cauliflower, cooking for 4 minutes.
  2. Add salt, turmeric, chili and blanch cauliflower.
  3. Set aside and place on an oiled pan and preheat oven to 400 F.
  4. Heat pan, with oil, on medium heat and add onion, sautéing until translucent/golden.
  5. Add ginger, garlic, and chili and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes, salt, and sugar and cook for 8-10 minutes, mashing them when tender.
  7.  Cool slightly before adding coconut milk and cashews/yogurt and blend into a thick puree.
  8. Set aside 1/3 of the gravy and slowly drop the remaining gravy all over the cauliflower head.
  9. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes until gravy is thick and dried on and around the cauliflower.
  10. Heat up the gravy that was set aside and serve with the cauliflower and rice and/or pita.

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chickpea flour omelet (pancake)

This is by far one of my top 3 breakfast dishes to make! The texture and consistency is very similar to a real omelet (unless you dilute it a little more to make a thinner pancake) and it is very satisfying/will keep you full for a few hours. I started to notice once I took a hiatus from eating eggs and ate them on a hasty whim while on spring break I was immediately hungry an hour or so later, which I also believe used to happen to me in the past but I accepted it as I was exercising more and was not so conscious of all that I was eating. The chickpea flour pancake can be scrambled, portioned out into sand-dollar sized pancakes, or made into a large pancake/omelet. I have always had problem flipping the larger sized pancakes so I generally make it into a scramble.

Chickpea flour is super cheap (less than $3!) and can also be used as an egg replacer in various dishes (which I have yet to try). 1/4 cup of chickpea flour + 1/4 cup of liquid (either water or non-dairy milk)=1 egg! You can also use it to make tofu, which I will probably also be posting on this blog later!

Recipe for Chickpea Flour Omelet ( Adapted from Oh She Glows)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup of  each of the veggies you would like, as if for making it an omelet (I did tomatoes, white onions, a little poblano pepper, and green pepper)
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced, or you can use a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon baking powder (use less if you want your pancakes flatter, use more if you want them more fluffy)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Hummus, tahini, guacamole, hot sauce, etc for sides!

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large pan and sauté vegetables and garlic until tender.
  2. Mix together chickpea flour, spices, baking powder, and water and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add batter to vegetables and cook until no longer moist and slightly brown, roughly 5-6 minutes. If you are able to flip your large or smaller pancakes do so until both sides are cooked. Otherwise you can scramble the batter and cook it to your satisfaction.
  4. Serve with any topping of your choice. I usually use avocado and hot sauce :p

 

 

carrot coriander soup

So Cam has been cooking me some things lately :p and this little soup came out very tasty and requires minimal ingredients! 13230729_10153747641326379_688917379_o

Carrots are packed with a plethora of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, and phytochemicals, including carotenoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, and anthocyanins. Carotenoids are responsible for the orange, red, and yellow pigments in fruits and vegetables, a main source of vitamin A, protective against some cancers and heart disease, and promotes eye health. Consumption of hydroxycinnamic acids have been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Anthocyanins also have anti-cancer properties.

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Carrot Coriander Soup (Recipe from Wallflower Kitchen):

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 medium carrots
  • 2 yukon gold potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Black pepper, chili powder, dried coriander, red pepper flakes, salt to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Boil vegetables in vegetable stock. Once simmering spices.
  2. Add tender vegetables to food processor and blend until thick and creamy. Add more spices to your liking.

southwest tofu scramble

This morning I was craving some southwest tofu scramble from Lone Wolf, a local breakfast hot spot in Amherst that has plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, so I decided to make some at home with the help of Cam, who made the tasty home fries to accompany it. The scramble itself is low in calories, about 150 calories depending on how much oil and other ingredients you use.

Tofu, made of soy, is packed with amino acids (building blocks of protein) and a complete source of protein, similar to meat, eggs, and dairy. Incomplete proteins are foods that do not contain all the essential amino acids, that can only be found in food and not produced by our body, and need to be paired with other fods that contain the remaining amino acids (i.e. rice and beans, nuts and whole grains, etc). Quinoa and a few other grains and seeds are also complete sources of protein.

Tofu also is a good source of calcium and iron, as well as other minerals and vitamins and phytoestrogens, specifically isoflavones, which are considered natural antioxidants. Isoflavones consumption are linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancers, menopausal symptoms, bone loss, etc.

The scramble is very easy and quick to make, and goes well with a nice side of home fries, dollops of guacamole and salsa, and nice a piece of toast (with earth balance of course). Cam used yukon gold potatoes for the home fries: he chopped them up in bite size pieces, through them into a skillet with 3-5 tablespoons of olive oil, seasoned them with salt, black pepper, garlic powder and a little bit of cumin, and fried them until crispy.

Recipe for Southwest Tofu Scramble:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of extra-firm tofu (16 oz)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 of a green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 of a large tomato, diced
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 1/2 of a poblano, jalapeño or hot pepper, diced small
  • Other vegetables optional!
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1l/2 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cajun seasoning (optional)
  • 1/2 can of black
  • Salt and pepper for taste
  • 1/2 of a can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Drain and chop tofu into pieces and place in strainer over a bowl to smash out excess water. Mash the tofu with a fork until crumbly/with a scrambled egg appearance.
  2. Heat oil in pan and sauté all vegetables until soft and tender.
  3. Add vegetable and spices and cook for a few minutes
  4. Add black beans and nutritional yeast and cook for another few minutes.

 

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sweet potato chana: a sweet twist on a classic dish

Last night my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach and while noshing on some baba ghanoush I eagerly searched for a chana masala recipe, which I ended up only having a small serving of because I got full so quickly, leaving me with plenty of leftovers 😉 One of my new favorite recipe blogs is Vegan Richa, and I knew there would be a chana masala recipe there, which I successfully found, but also incorporated sweet potato! I have recently  been adding sweet potato to a lot of my dishes and was happy to add it to one of my favorite meals as I knew it would be tender and sweet, matching the creamy and spicy curried chickpeas and veggies. This dish is best served over rice and/or with naan or pita bread, and is very filling and light.

Sweet Potato Chana Recipe (Recipe adapted from Vegan Richa):

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds or cumin
  • 3/4 cup of onion, chopped small
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1/2 of a jalapeño, chopped small
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder (and if you’re adventurous another 1/2 teaspoon of cajun seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (this complements the sweet potato nicely)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or more if you wish
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cup of sweet potato, chopped into bite size cubes
  • 1 cup of kale or spinach, I used kale
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and add cumin, garlic and onions (and jalapeño) until transparent and fragrant.
  2. Add spices and tomato, mixing well, and cook until tomatoes are mushy, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add chickpeas and sweet potato, adding more spices as you see fit, and mix, cover and cook for fifteen minutes until all veggies are tender. Add kale/spinach at the end and cook until soft, a few minutes.
  4. Serve with rice and naan/pita!

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delish baba ghanoush and some eggcelent info on eggplants

As you will start to notice, I am a huge fan of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, not only due to the rich, spicy, and textural flavor, but also due to the many vegan options. I have been dying to make some baba ghanoush, a dip very similar to hummus but replaces chickpeas with grilled eggplant, and did not have access to a grill until recently. The eggplant came out charred to perfection, allowing me to easily remove the eggplant’s smoky entrails, which complemented the nutty flavor of the tahini and the aromatic garlic and lemon combo.

Before I go on talking about how much I love eggplant, I came across an interesting article a few weeks ago showing pictures of fruits and vegetables before we domesticated them. Here is a picture of eggplant!!! (So tiny and yellow unlike our gigantic purple modern day eggplant). More pictures and information can be viewed here.

wild-eggplant

Another fun fact: eggplants were originally named eggplant because they were first seen as small white plants, with an appearance similar to eggs. (More info here.)

WhiteEggplant

From a nutrition perspective, eggplants contain high amounts of fiber, folate, potassium, and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, B6, and other minerals and nutrients. Eggplants also contain phenols/antioxidants/flavonoids, which are protective against cancer and heart disease, specifically anthocyanins. Chlorogenic acid, another phenolic compound found in eggplants, acts as an anti-carcinogen, promotes immune health, and even lowers levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Eggplants are low in calories (only 20 calories per a cup of 1 inch cubes), and the high fiber content promotes satiety, which is beneficial for weight loss and blood sugar stabilization, especially for those with diabetes.

This baba ghanoush recipe also has low calorie content, only 23 calories per tablespoon, and is a great appetizer or snack during the day.

Baba Ghanoush Recipe (adapted from Serious Eats):

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons of tahini
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Pita chips to dip (to make your own pita chips pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F and slice up pita (I prefer fluffy/naan-like pita) into little triangles and drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil with with a dash of black pepper and salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until warm and fluffy, or longer if crispy chips are desired).

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium heat and cook eggplant for 30-40 minutes, until majority of the sides are charred and the eggplant is tender and mushy.
  2. Place eggplant on tinfoil and set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Place all ingredients into food processor. Add the slightly cooled down eggplant by scooping out the insides and disposing of the skin. Blend together all ingredients until creamy. Serve with pita chips!

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chocolate chia puddin

As I have started to explore new vegan food options and was craving something sweet last night, I came across some leftover chia seeds in my roommates cabinet and decided to do some recipe research. I knew that a gel could be formed by adding liquid to chia seeds and came across a chocolate chia pudding recipe, both simple and satisfying.

Chia seeds are packed with nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids (responsible for reducing inflammation and high cholesterol), fiber (good for the digestive tract and also reducing inflammation), antioxidants (protective against cancer and also contributes to increased shelf life of the seeds), as well as carbohydrates, protein and various other minerals. The gel-like substance formed by chia seeds can induce the feeling of satiety, which is why there are some claims for weight-loss, although this claim has not been validated. Due to the gel-like substance formed by chia seeds in water, chia seeds are also a good egg replacer in baked dishes, especially when ground up into powder.

After my experience with this pudding recipe, I definitely want to continue to experiment more with chia seeds, especially in baked goods, and will be sure to document my successes and failures in future posts. The pudding came out think and rich, and not very seedy-tasting as I had expected; the consistency of the pudding was almost mousse-like, rich and velvety. I do want to sample other flavors/different quantities and ratios of flavors to make the pudding fit my exact chocoholic needs.

Recipe for Chocolate Chia Pudding (Recipe from the Minimalist Baker):

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa (unsweetened preferably)
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Optional ingredients to incorporate in the mix or to top the pudding: coconut flakes, peanut butter, berries (strawberries, blackberries), chocolate chips, etc.

Directions:

  1. Add all main ingredients to a bowl, besides the maple syrup, and set a side for at least 3 hours until a thick pudding consistency forms.
  2. Add maple syrup to mixture and mix in blender until consistency is smooth, creamy and less seedy in appearance.
  3. Add toppings!!

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easy peasy pakora and a quick story about food waste

Yesterday was a snack kind of day, so it made sense that I would continue the movement through dinner. I had recently gone grocery shopping and had purchased a bag of mini zucchini (so cute!) Quick side story, if you are ever in Western Massachusetts and specifically the Amherst/Hadley/Northampton area please check out Maple Farm Foods in Hadley! They have a great selection of produce and ethnic food, and a whole section devoted to produce that is either over-ripe or appears to have a superficial defect (bruised or dirty veggies, etc.) grouped in bags of at least five or more items. The best part is that the entire bag of goodies is marked down to the price of 99 cents! Safe to say, this is a post-grad’s dream, and the food is still very delicious. I hope to see more of these types of initiatives in grocery stores and markets, as both the producer and consumer benefit by reducing food waste and increasing food accessibility and affordability. France  is a prime example of a country in support of the elimination of food waste via legislation. Although this may not work in the U.S., due to various economic/legislative reasons, many have been inspired by France’s action, including Whole Foods and Hungry Harvest, a company featured on the show entrepreneurship-themed ABC show Shark Tank (okay, I am guilty to Cam got me hooked on this one).

Once I started to become vegan, I immediately searched for egg alternatives, as I was used to having an omelet or scramble almost everyday for breakfast. I stumbled upon a recipe for a chickpea pancake, which I will definitely post on this blog in the near future, which served a similar purpose as an omelet and tasted so delicious. The primary ingredient is chickpea flour, which has become a frequent addition in many of my meals, and is indeed included in the recipe for pakoras. Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour, garbanzo bean flour, or besan, is a very common ingredient in many South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian dishes. Chickpea flour is both a great egg and wheat flour substitute, and has many benefits including high fiber content, which is good for digestion, blood sugar stabilization and diabetes prevention, heart health, and the list goes on. (More discussion of chickpea flour will be mentioned in the future chickpea omelet blog post).

Now back to the mini zucchini…..One of my new favorite sites to use to find new recipes is http://yummly.com/, which is essentially a user-friendly database of recipes from various food blogs/sites all over the . I typed in zucchini and found a pakora recipe that met my snack needs. I have always been a huge fan of Indian food and while I was growing up would often frequent the Indian restaurant in my town, which was known for having a very cheap and diverse lunch buffet, which was where I tried pakora for the first time. These little veggie fritters are very simple and quick to make as well as customizable for your palate (in the future I hope to add more veggies, potentially spicy peppers to the mix).

Zucchini Pakora Recipe (Adapted from Autostraddle):

Makes about 8-10 Pakora

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of chickpea flour ( I use Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 cup of zucchini, small dice
  • 1 cup of cilantro, diced
  • Olive or canola oil, use to your discretion
  • Optional veggies to include in the mix: onions, jalapeño peppers, bell peppers.
  • Optional: Hot sauce and/or chutney on the side.

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until a thick dough forms.
  2. Heat pan or griddle to medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom. You will add more as you see fit.
  3. By using a tablespoon or ice cream scooper, place dollops of the dough on the hot pan, pressing down a little to flatten them and fry until crispy.

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jalapeño jummus (hummus)

 

 

It has been almost a week since I graduated from college and I am still trying to figure out what I am doing for the summer/the fall. I am waiting to hear back about my admission into the Food Corps for the fall (wish me luck!) but in the mean time I have been studying for the GRE, playing with my new kitty, Miko, and inevitably looking for new and exciting vegan recipes I can make to satisfy tastebuds and my nutrition knowledge.

Today my boyfriend, Cam, who still indulges in a non-vegan diet but also has a growing palate for new and healthy foods, and I were craving something spicy. As a result, I found a spicy quesadilla recipe that caught my eye, substituting a jalapeño hummus for cheese. Jalapeño peppers have become a favorite of mine once I discovered my obsession with spicy food during the past few years.

These tiny peppers are packed with Vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage and Vitamin A, beneficial for skin and eyes. Similar to other hot peppers, Jalapeños contain capsaicin, which acts as a vasodilator and anti-inflammatory, and promotes anti-cancer activity and even weight-loss, via thermogenic and appetite-reducing features.

I love to add jalapeños to any dish I make for a little kick, and most recently accidentally experimented with cooking with jalapeño infused cooking oil when making churros, which added a surprising spicy element to a classic Mexican fried dough treat (vegan recipe to come soon!) Today, however, I made some jalapeño hummus, oil-free, to complement a combination of roasted veggies and a healthy serving of guacamole in a tortilla to make a delicious quesadilla.

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Recipe for Jalapeño Hummus Quesadillas with Roasted Veggies (adaptation from Spicy Mexican Hummus Quesadillas from Veganosity):

Serves 4

Ingredients for Hummus:

  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed well
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped small
  • 1 jalapeño pepper – seeded
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of finely ground sea salt
  • ¼ cup of seeded and chopped tomato-chopped small
  • ½ cup of water

Remaining Ingredients for Quesadilla:

  • Tortilla wraps
  • Guacamole
  • Olive oil
  • Salsa
  • 1/4 cup of each of your choice of veggies ( we used to sweet potatoes, red onion, green peppers, carrots, zucchini, corn) chopped small
  • Spinach (optional)
  • Cheese/Vegan Cheese (optional)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients for hummus in food processor until creamy and set aside.
  3. On a a non-stick baking tray place chopped veggies. Drizzle lightly in olive oil and sprinkle the oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes until veggies are tender to your liking.
  4. On a tortilla, smear hummus and guacamole and add enough veggies to your liking. Cook quesadilla on a pan with light oil or panini press until crispy.

Enjoy!! 🙂13230838_10153737074096379_684475436_o

Happy lil Miko, can you tell I’m obsessed with her.