Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Healthy for 2 weeks and counting…

10 Aug

For the last two weeks, I’ve been on this somewhat-diet that I made from a hotchpotch of advise from women’s magazines, some serious examination of calorie charts and titbits of common sense. Just for fun (and I’m not advocating ANY of this) I thought I’d share this diet with you. I still don’t know how well I’ve fared on the weight loss front, but I am feeling a lot less “loose” and a bit more “tight” if you know what I mean  🙂

So up first, Breakfast. Most important meal of the day for me, and I like to think the most healthiest as well. I never have meat in the mornings anyway, so it wasn’t really that much of a struggle. I usually have bran flakes and a cup of coffee. Although fruits do get a bit heavy on the student pocket, they are totally worth it.

Bran flakes with raisins, blue berries and watermellon

In between breakfast and lunch. When I was in boarding school, they used to call this period between breakfast and lunch “juice break” where we used to get a glass of juice (if we were lucky to get there before everybody else did) and two biscuits. When my parents first heard about this, they found the idea ridiculous. How can one eat so much and constantly? But the idea behind it was this – to keep your metabolism going, so you wouldn’t go overboard at lunch time (not that it stopped us :P). So mid-morning, when the breakfast effect has worn off, I have a few almonds (about 6 to 8) and some swigs of a yoghurt drink. Its both refreshing and nutritious!

Lunch. I discovered this really cool, cheap and tasty option that would leave me feeling full AND help me lose some of that extra flab. Its called Rye Bread. Tada!! My friend Shuli who I suggested it to (and who is a willing consumer of it) fondly calls it “cardboard”. It is. But its healthy, fibrous, nearly no calories cardboard. Now for the fun part: go crazy on the dip that accompanies the rye bread. There’s a whole host of flavours out there that I didn’t even know about! In 2 weeks I’ve discovered 3 types of hummous (all low fat), tzatziki (which is so wonderully like raita), and an aubergine dip that has a lovely smokey flavour combined with a smooth texture. Along with the rye bread, I have stalks of celery or carrots, or some fruit to give me a break from the bread. And sometimes sometimes when I’m feeling really generous with myself, I throw in a stick of cheese 😛

In between Lunch and Dinner. At about 6 in the evening, I get really hungry, and its usually for things like chocolate and chips and other fattening stuff that I should stay far away from. To placate my pangs at this hour, I usually whip up some tea which is usually loose-leaf Assam tea and have it with 2 ginger-nut biscuits (only) and perhaps a handful of peanuts. This combination usually keeps me covered until dinner time : )

Dinner. This is probably totally anti traditional diet, but I let myself go slightly over the top for dinner as compared to my other meals during the day. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m used to this pattern because I’ve followed it for most of my life. Even back at home in India, dinner was always the heaviest meal because at the end of the day, you could just relax and enjoy it (plus the family was all sitting together!). So for dinner, I’ve come up with a few options that range from grilled fish, to boiled vegetables and noodle soup (with only salt and pepper!) or just a vegetable stir-fry with egg (sometimes I eat the yoke, at other times I don’t).

Sweet chilli roasted salmon (from Tesco, absolutely delicious) and Noodle soup with celery

So that’s it. Don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up, but I’m hoping it’ll be long enough to get fit!

Healthy Udon Noodle with Crunchy Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce & Chinese Chilli Oil

2 Aug

EEEeeeeek! I’m sooo excited! This is my very first guest post and it’s by none other than Soapsuds and Doodles who happens to be my classmate at Warwick and also a recently converted health freak! Here she is sharing a recipe from her very own customised diet. It’s an absolutely delicious  and experimental (yet simple) dish and her descriptions+ photographs will want to make you eat the screen! A complete winner in my opinion 🙂 I hope you enjoy it just as much as I have! ♥

After devouring a giant bar of Toblerone for both breakfast and lunch a couple of weeks ago (you know – the kind that’s compulsory for everyone going through airport duty free), something told me it was time for a major diet revamp.  I love salads, fresh vegetables and low fat Japanese cuisine but by-and-large, I’m not a health food person so for me to switch to eating wholesome things permanently, they’d have to be pretty darn tasty.  Live to eat, am I right?

Shriya gave me a great idea when she mentioned that one of her kitchenmates constantly eats stark meals of noodles and boiled vegetables with a little seasoning for taste.  I figured that with the right sauces and herbs, such a dish could be a really quick, healthy lunch option and set out to recreate it my own way.

The secret ingredients in this are a fermented black bean sauce and a traditional Chinese chilli oil (make sure you buy a really tasty version because some brands they sell in the West can be quite bland – I recommend Lao Gan Ma.  You know you can’t go wrong when it has a man’s face on it).

The black bean sauce gives it a nutty, salty soy flavour and the chilli oil adds a garlicky kick.  And the thing I love about this meal idea is that you can do almost anything with it.  Jonesing for meat?  Throw in some shredded chicken breast.  Want it cold?  Boil up some soba and soak in dashi.  And I’m sure it’ll be just as amazing with dried chillis and fried onions on top for some added crunch.

My specific recipe uses mushrooms, pak choi, spinach, cucumber, fresh coriander and chilli for a zesty, fresh flavour.  I make it with chewy udon and the resulting dish is a bright, fragrant tangle of firm, earthy noodles and mushrooms, juicy pak choi stems and crunchy vegetables that won’t make you feel guilty about dessert – if you still have space for it!



What you need:

A deep pan or saucepan

A big noodle bowl (I love this pretty pyrex bowl that I found at Tesco for £3 because I can see the colourful veggies right the way down and it makes me feel extra healthy.  Whatever works, right?)

A colander (I made one batch without this and everything was swimming in icky oily water.)

Fresh udon (or noodle of choice.  I use a brand that comes with pre-packed portions.)


A quarter of a cucumber

One bunch of pak choi

A handful of mushrooms

A fresh red chilli

Handful of coriander

Handful of spinach

Half a teaspoon of chilli oil

Half a teaspoon of fermented black bean sauce (The amounts for the last two condiments are estimates – adjust them to regulate saltiness and spiciness.)

What to do:

1)  Cut the bottom off the pak choi.  Slice the cucumber, chilli, coriander and mushrooms.

2)  Put the raw cucumber, coriander and chilli in your bowl.

3)  Put in half a teaspoon of black bean sauce.  Drain the oil from half a teaspoon of the chilli oil mixture and put in the remaining chilli flakes and bits.  It’s important to drain the oil and just use the bits or it completely defeats the “healthy” intention.

4)  Heat water in your deep pan or saucepan.  Bring to the boil, put in the udon, mushrooms and pak choi and let boil for about three minutes.




5)  It’s ready when the pak choi turns a deeper green and the udon strands seperate when you stir them with a fork.  (About three minutes.)

6)  Throw in the spinach to wilt then immediately turn the heat off.

7)  Drain, toss in bowl with raw veggies and condiments.


8)  Eat like you’ve never eaten before.  At least, that’s what I do!  Enjoy!

In Sickness and in Health: Sweet & sour Spinach soup with nuts

6 Jun

This is a wonderful recipe that belongs to my mum. I have never been an avid eater of spinach. Actually, I mostly try and avoid it. But this particular dish is so yummy that I can help but eat a few bowlfuls.

If you are somebody who cannot stand that distinct smell and taste of spinach, then this dish is worth a try, because by the end you will really not be able to tell that you’re eating spinach! It’s tangy-ness  hits the back of your palate, the balance of sweet and salty and the crunch of the nuts under your teeth, is a delight both taste and texture wise.

This is a great soup when you’re feeling sick (spinach is great for strength. Remember Popeye? Its full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and iron) or when you’re looking for something exciting to go with your meal.

(Although I’m calling it a soup, back home in India this is a ‘bhaji’ or vegetable to be eaten either with roti or rice.)

What you need:

300 gm of Spinach leaves (stalks cut)

7-8  cloves of garlic pounded/ finely sliced

a small piece of ginger grated / finely sliced

half a cup of cashew nuts (I personally prefer peanuts instead of cashews)

2 tbsp gram flour (if gram flour is hard to find, you can use regular flour instead, but it will compromise on the flavour a little)

2 tbsp tamarind pulp (or better still, a lemon-sized portion of fresh tamarind)

4 cups of water

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

1 tsp fennel seeds

For the Tadka (or garnish)

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp hing

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic pounded)

1/2 tsp dried corriander powder

1/2 tsp fennel powder

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

(when giving the tadka, try to follow the sequence in which the ingredients are listed)

What to do:

Boil the spinach leaves in 4 cups of water with garlic, ginger and fennel seeds in a pot until soft. Leave it aside to cool.

When cooled, crush the leaves with the back of a wooden spoon (or anything else that is strong) to make them  more fine. Add gram flour, tamrind pulp, cashews , salt and sugar. Keep it on sim till the cashews cook.

For the Tadka, heat oil in a saucepan until its really hot. Now add the ingredients in the same order as given above. Switch off the heat when the spices are sufficiently fried (this usually takes a minute).

Now add the the tadka to the soup. Done!

Serve it hot on its own, or as we traditionally do with plain steamed rice or warm rotis.

(Note: Since the soup tends to get thicker as it cools down, add sufficient water and heat the next time you want to eat it. )

Ok Mr.Oliver, lets see what you got

14 Apr

I’ve always been a big time fan of Jamie Oliver, but I’ve always sort of been a little distant from the merchandising and ready-made product wagon that inevitably follows celebrity chefs. I mean, there’s so many of these ‘Chef’s Specials’ out there masquerading as secret ingredients and magic potions to transform your cooking into professional stuff, that one has to be really careful about which one to pick, and what the product is going to deliver.

Recently I picked this one up along with a pinch of salt. Its called  ‘Jamie Oliver’s Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce’, under which is says ‘Honest Italian Flavours’.

At first look and taste, I was really impressed with the fact that I could see whole Basil leaves in the sauce. Also, it tasted fresh and like it had been made from proper tomatoes, minus the artifical colours and flavours. I decided to use it in my spaghetti with some vegetarian meatballs (I was still on my 9 day Veg challenge, remember?)

But when I began cooking, I realised there was a gap between my expectations and what the product delivered.  I guess I must’ve fallen for the whole ‘magic potion’ thing too, because I very quickly became disappointed that it did little beyond giving me the basic. To salvage the situation,

I added some garlic paste, some salt, pepper and a bit of oregano to make the whole thing a little more exciting. This was clearly not a product for someone who wanted to make 2-minute meals.

To be fair, it did retain its thick and natural consistency even after being simmered, and so was faithful to its promise of being honest.

All in all, I will say go ahead and try this. But I will also suggest that if you do, you may as well bring your own magic tricks to the table.

Palak Biriyani

11 Apr

So this is a total throw-all-your-bits and bobs-in-the-pot kind of recipe. Basically, I had some beans, some carrot, half a capsicum and some mushrooms lying around, so I decided to put it all in the biriyani and it turned out quite awesome.

What you need:

1/2 tin chopped Spinach
1 cup yoghurt
1 inch cinnamon
2-3 cloves
2-3 cardamom pods
4-5 pepper corns
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp biriyani masala
2 cups rice
3-4 tbsp oil
chilli powder to raste
salt to taste
any/all vegetables lying about, chopped

What to do:

Boil rice and keep aside.

In a deep vessel, heat up the oil. Once hot, add the whole spices, onions and ginger garlic paste. Saute until the onions are golden brown.

Now add the spinach and saute till the flavours nicely combine. Now add the yoghurt and give it a stir.

Add vegetables, the biriyani masala and cook on medium flame until the vegetables are cooked.

Add to this rice and stir until everything is mixed properly. Now add salt. You’re ready to go!

For garnish, you can fry onion slices until crispy brown and sprinkle them on top.

Detox Vegetable Soup and Crunchy Mixed Salad

8 Apr

As I eat this very healthy detox soup and salad, I have a vision of myself sitting high up on a snow mountain in mediation. Haha. No, really, this is healthy food to the hilt, its what we in India call yogic,  “sattvic” food.

As the name suggests, this food is not meant to be ‘rajasic’ or stimulating to the taste bud. And believe me, I was really worried about who was going to eat all this soup and salad when it was made.

But happily, I was proved wrong. The soup was found to be “tasty” (my flatmates swore by it) and the salad was literally gone in minutes.

So first things first, the Crunchy Mixed Salad.

I got this recipe from my friend and ex-school mate Krittika. I made a few minor changes in the recipe, like adding seasonal four-leafs to it, but it is more or less the same as described in her version:

What you need:

A handful of cherry tomatoes
A handful of sprouts
One Red Bell Pepper
One Yellow Bell Pepper
Black Olives
Salt
Pepper
Lime Juice
Feta Cheese (Optional)

What to do:

Wash the cherry tomatoes and sprouts and put them into a bowl.
Cut the red and yellow bell peppers into two equal halves and remove the seeds.
Take one half of the red and yellow bell peppers and slice them into thin slivers and add them to the bowl. Take the two remaining halves of the bell peppers and roast them on the gas until they are lightly charred.
Once they are cool, wipe the charred area with some soft tissue and cut into slivers. Add into the bowl.
Add olives, salt and pepper to your liking. Add lime juice and sprinkle feta cheese into the bowl- gently mix the salad with your hands and serve immediately.
Sounds yummy right? Looks absolutely dashing too. I’m sure it does great for when you have guests to impress 🙂

And now, the Detox Soup.

Another friend of mine and coincidentally, an ex-school mate from the same school, Meghna, suggested I try the Itsu 7 Vegetable Detox soup. But because I don’t live close by, I couldn’t get my hands on it. Instead, I googled it, got an idea of what the basic ingredients were and then I simply improvised!

So the 7 vegetables you need are: Beans, bean sprouts, spinach, carrots, red bell pepper, mushrooms and coconut (though this isn’t technically a vegetable, it is used such in the recipe. I used it in coconut milk form)

You will also need:
Lime juice
Ginger juice (or you can use ground powder if its more convenient)
Salt to taste
Water, ofcourse
Glass noodles (I didn’t include these in my recipe

What to do:

Chop vegetables and keep aside.
In a large pot, boil 1 part coconut milk and 2 parts water. Add lime and ginger juice to it.
Now put in all the cut vegetables and boil till they are cooked. Add salt. Done!

Simple and fast. The best thing I like about it is that I dont have to use any oil or butter for it!

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Day 3: Cold Turkey

7 Apr

Its day 3, and already I’m feeling the pangs. From time to time, I have to remind myself to breathe, and think about what a positive detox my body is going through… (#%$*&^*%#)

Anyway, so this morning, I decided to try my first Immitation Meat product. These are basically “Smok Ham Styled slices” which are supposed to be great with salads and sandwiches and are rich in proteins and what not. But who cares, right? Do they taste like smoky Ham at all?

The answer is: Yes. They have got the taste right. Its smoky. Its Ham-y.

But, what they don’t get is the texture. And I guess this is the problem with most imitation meats. They lack the bite.

I slapped a slice of Smoky Ham styled salami with a slice of Edam cheese and some lettuce on my Whole Grain bread (that I’m very proud about purchasing) which I got to slice with my teeny little kitchen knife (albeit a bit difficult)  which I then sprinkled with some chilli flakes and Italian seasoning.

Great. Filling, wholesome, healthy. I was happy.

In other news, I also tried Sunpat Creamy Peanut Butter, and let me tell you, I have not been more disappointed. All salt and no sugar, makes this peanut butter  a dull spread.

I long for Skippy’s PB that I used to have as a kid(anyone remember Skippy’s?)


The 9 day All-Vegetarian Challenge

5 Apr

Yesterday was my New Year (Gudi Padwa) and also the beginning of the Chotti Navratri (which literally means 9 nights). As a self-made decision, I have decided to go All-Vegetarian for these nine days (4th April – 13th April).  And this includes eggs.

Back home in India, this would’ve been a cake walk because let’s admit it, most households don’t eat that much non-vegetarian food on a regular basis anyway. Plus, there’s a huge variety of wholesome meals, fast-food and snack food, that is cheap and readily available.

I have to confess that I will miss biting into that juicy piece of meat once in a while (after all there is a total of 27 meals I have to go through) but on the bright side, its a great excuse to discover some amazing vegetarian recipes and give them their rightful due (as a bonus, it’ll be great to know that I have some will power too)!

To up the stakes, I also decided to go off Chocolate and Alcohol.

Prep:

So as not to be altogether as sea, I’ve prepped myself with some stuff that I’m going to work with these nine days:

Bread          Peanut Butter          Honey

Spaghetti       Potatoes              Salad leaves

Feta Cheese    Lettuce               Brown rice

Roti                   Lentils                 Edam Cheese slices

Fruit                 Custard mix

And finally, some Imitation meat, that I’m dying to try and review!

 

In the next few days I’ll be sharing with you my trials and tribulations and hopefully some yummy planned (and accidental) vegetarian recipes.

Wish me luck!

It don’t taste like Home

30 Mar

The other day someone asked me what I missed most about home. The answer that immediately came to mind was: Food. It’s not that ghar-ka-khana isn’t available here, or that it can’t be made…its just that its different.

For example, I tried to make Baingan Bharta (Roasted Aubergine with spices) last week.

I went and bought the nicest looking egg-plant, put it in the grill and coated it with oil to make it all nice and juicy.

I got a beautiful crack on the skin like you would never see on an eggplant back home.

I used all the right spices and condiments. Heck, I even threw in some peas.

No surprises here.

It tasted nothing like Bharta 😦 The eggplant didn’t even have seeds! And the burnt taste…let me not get started on the burnt taste.

How I made a break from Instant Noodles

12 Mar

I have these moments all the time when I dont want to cook. I’m sure you’ve had them too. Except, all these days I dealt with it by diving into a cup-o-noodles. Yes, they’re hot and tasty blah blah. But lets be honest. They’re tantalising,deceiving strings of deathly dough.

Not good, my friends.

So I have decided to mend my ways and my food passages. I have replaced them with Flat Bread, Reduced Fat (aha. you see?) Onion and Garlic Dip, and a Fruit Medley.

No mess. No running to the kitchen for hot water. Only yummy, healthy ready-made meal in seconds, that is also MOBILE! Beat that! ( no, don’t say you can carry the piping hot plastic noodle bowl, just so you’ll have something to say)