Blueberry-Yogurt Parfait

Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

As you all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Most of you have also probably come across multiple sources that state that starting your day with a healthy & nutritious protein-rich breakfast is the key to feeling energetic, controlling appetite, reducing snacking, and staying slim. Protein-rich breakfasts have shown to regulate blood sugars and reduce late afternoon cravings for sugary and unhealthy snacks, and I can personally vouch for it. But if you are like me, meat in the morning is not appealing and eggs are not an option due to allergies. Greek yogurt to the rescue!! With around 200 calories & over 20 gms of protein per cup, greek yogurt is an easy, tasty and portable breakfast or snack item.

Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

The Blueberry-Yogurt Parfait is so simple to make and can be assembled ahead of time. Just top with granola before eating. Use the fruit of your choice and customize quantities to suit your needs. If Greek yogurt is not available, you can use hung yogurt (recipe below). Make a few of these in resealable containers and store in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go snack or breakfast. My husband & kids love it too!

Blueberry-Yogurt Parfaits

  • 1 cup greek yogurt (plain or flavored) – [use hung yogurt if greek yogurt is not available – recipe below]
  • 1 cup fruit of choice (berries, banana, mango, peach, etc.)
  • sweetener of choice (honey, sugar, agave, etc) – optional
  •  1/2 cup granola (Click here for stove-top granola recipe.)

1) Take 2 resealable containers and layer each with 1/4 cup greek yogurt on the bottom.

2) If using sweetener, drizzle a teaspoon on the yogurt.

3) Top with 1/4 cup fruit.

4) Repeat yogurt, sweetener, fruit.

5) Just before eating, top with granola. Stir and enjoy. (Click here for stove-top granola recipe.)

 

To Make 1 cup Hung Yogurt

 1) Line a strainer/small colander with a large clean piece of muslin cloth and place the strainer over a deep bowl.

2) Pour 2 cups of regular yogurt onto the muslin cloth.

3) Bring the ends of the muslin together and make into a bundle.

4) Hang the bundle from the faucet / knob with a dish to catch the whey dripping.

5) Leave undisturbed for 3-4 hours till all the water is out. Creamy hung yogurt is ready.

6) Flavor with sweetener if needed and stir well.

Vegetarian Pinto Beans for Burrito Bowl or Tortilla Salad

Pinto Beans

 

Serve these beans as an option alongside Mexican-style black beans, tofu sofrito, cilantro-lime rice, and salsa chicken when you want a Homemade Chipotle-style Buffet & Tortilla Salad (Lots of Vegetarian Options). It can be made ahead and heated at the time of serving. Leftovers freeze beautifully, and I’ve had it without any accompaniments as a hearty chilli. Adjust the spice levels to suit your tastes – this version is medium spiced.

Vegetarian Pinto Beans for Burrito Bowl or Tortilla Salad

(Serves 12-15)

  • 1 lb dry pinto beans *** (picked, rinsed, soaked in water overnight)
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped fine OR (1 Tbsp paste)
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup taco seasoning (or to taste)
  • 3 cups water
  • salt to taste

1) Discard the soaking water and rinse the pinto beans well. Drain and set aside.

2) In a large stockpot, heat the oil on medium-high.

3) Saute garlic, then onion for a few minutes till fragrant and just starting to brown.

4) Add cumin powder and stir for a few seconds.

5) Add the pinto beans, taco seasoning, tomato sauce and salt. Mix well.

6) Bring to a boil, then reduce flame and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally.

7) The beans should neither be dry or runny. Add more water or broth is it looks too dry, or cook uncovered for longer on a higher flame if it seems too runny.

8) Check beans for doneness, and adjust seasoning.

 

***NOTE: You can substitute 4 (15 oz) cans of pinto beans for 1 lb dry. Drain 2 cans and reserve the liquid. Follow recipe as stated above by using 2 cans undrained & the beans from the drained cans too. Cook according to above instructions, but reduce time to 30-40 minutes. If you need more liquid, then use what was reserved from the cans. Or simply rinse out all beans, and use about 2-3 cups of water / broth.

Mexican-style Black Beans (Vegan)

Black Beans

I made this super easy and yummy black beans  to go with the Homemade Chipotle-Style Buffet & Tortilla Salad (Lots of Vegetarian Options). We filled baked tortilla bowls with cilantro-lime rice, black or pinto beans, tofu sofritos or taco chicken, corn salsa, tomato salsa, red onions, cheese, sour cream, cheese and cilantro for a delicious meal. These black beans can be eaten as-is, or topped on rice/quinoa too. To see pictures of the buffet table and the finished salad, click here.

Mexican-Style Black Beans

(Serves 12-15)

  • 1 lb dry black beans*** (picked through, rinsed, & soaked overnight)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 large cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 large onion (chopped fine)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

1) In a large stockpot, add the beans, water and salt and bring to a boil.

2) Simmer, partially covered for about 30-40 minutes till bite tender.

3) In another pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.

2) Add the bay leaf and saute for a few seconds.

3) Add the minced garlic and the onion, and saute till it starts to lightly brown.

4) Stir in the cumin and oregano, and saute another 15-20 seconds till fragrant.

5) Add the onion-herb mix to the pot of beans and stir well. Adjust seasoning and simmer for another 30-45 minutes, adjusting liquid as needed. (Mixture should not be dry nor soupy and runny.)

6) Can be served over rice / quinoa, or eaten by itself as a thick, hearty soup.

***NOTE: Substitute 4 (15 oz) cans of black beans for 1 lb dry. Drain 2 cans, but save the liquid separately. Saute all the ingredients above (except beans) in a stockpot. Then, add the 2 drained cans & 2 undrained cans of black beans and mix well. Adjust seasoning and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the reserved liquid if the mixture seems too dry.

A New Beginning… Another Chance To Do It Right

Happy 2014 to all of you. I hope everybody had a fantastic time over the 2013 holidays – good food, laughter, time with family & friends, shopping, cleaning, cooking, drama ;)) – all the things that make the season feel like you can’t take it anymore, yet you look  forward for it to roll around again a year later.

On my end, over the last month, I met family in snowy Deep Creek, MD for Thanksgiving, hosted my son’s 10th birthday party for 20+ people, had a few friends over for a South Indian dinner, hosted 20+ family members for Christmas dinner, and then headed to Atlantic City to meet my husband’s elementary school friend and his wife who were visiting from Jamaica. It was a ton of shopping, gift-wrapping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, nagging, complaining, but also laughing, eating, hugging, gossiping and catching up with friends and family. The cherry on top was my $635 win at the casinos in Atlantic City. For someone playing 3-card poker for the first time, I guess I got really lucky. Santa must have thought I was a very NICE girl :))

Of course, all this made me neglect this blog. I have a ton of new entertaining recipes that I tried and loved, but it’s a little too late to put up considering that most of you would have started your “get skinny / healthy” resolutions. I will definitely post them in the coming weeks. But below are some links that should help you get started on the track to eating better and taking care of your body.

Pomegranate-Banana-Smoothie

Banana Pomegranate Smoothie

Double Green Smoothie

 Double Green Smoothie

Ginger-carrot-pineapple Smoothie

 Ginger-Carrot-Pineapple Smoothie

Oatmeal with Dates and Walnuts

Oatmeal with Dates  and Walnuts

IMG_3826

Spicy Quinoa Muffins

IMG_3818

Spicy Tofu Scramble

Tri-Colored Antioxidant Rich Salad

Tri-colored Antioxidant Rich Salad

winter-tabbouleh-salad-1

Easy Winter Salad

Rainbow Cabbage Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Rainbow Cabbage Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Black Bean Soup

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

Savory Quinoa Pongal

Savory Quinoa Pongal

Quinoa "Fried Rice"

Quinoa “Fried Rice”

I hope these links will help you get started on eating better this year. I appreciate feedback from you readers, and hope to hear about your tips and tricks for enjoying good food without guilt.

Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

Low in calories and high in soluble & insoluble fiber, lentils are a good source of protein as well as a good substitute for meat. They are filled with folate, iron, and other important nutrients. They require no pre-soaking and cook in about 20-30 minutes. The recipe below is delicious and freezes very well. I always make a large batch and pack 1-cup servings in small plastic containers to freeze and reheat for quick and healthy lunches on busy days. I prefer to use the easily available and inexpensive Brown Lentils as they hold their shape well, but I think you can substitute red ones if thats what you have on hand.

Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

(Makes about 8 1-cup servings)

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 medium onions (about 1 heaped cup) – chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – pureed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves – grated
  • 2 Tbsp ginger paste (about 1 1/2 inch)
  • 1 tsp cayenne / red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 cups frozen / fresh kale or spinach
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice
  • sour cream (optional)

1) Pick through the lentils and make sure there is no dirt or stones. Rinse and drain well.

2) In a large pan, add lentils and water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce to low flame and cook covered about 20 minutes till tender, stirring mid-way.

3) In another pan, heat the oil and add onions. Saute till transparent.

4) Add ginger and garlic and saute till fragrant.

5) Add the spices and roast for a few seconds.

6) Mix in the tomato puree and heat, scraping the bottom.

7) When lentils are ready, mix with the onion-tomato mixture.

8) Add coconut milk and salt, and simmer on low about 10-15 minutes.

9) Add the kale/spinach and simmer an additional 5 minutes till it is wilted.

10) Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of sour cream.

Black Bean Soup

 

Thousands of recipes can be found for Black Bean Soup and I’ve experimented with different versions. This recipe is my version after a few trials. It is a big family favorite, and makes a substantial meal by itself. Before I start with the recipe and instructions, I must give credit to my 8-year old who is my “light-boy” & “set-designer”.

 

Black Bean Soup

(Serves 4-5)

  • 3 cans (15 oz each) black beans
  • 1 medium onion (chop)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves (chop)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream
  1. Puree 2 cans of black beans without draining. Drain the third can and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and saute garlic for a few minutes till lightly brown.
  3. Add onion and saute for a few more minutes till lightly brown.
  4. Add chilli powder, cumin powder, and oregano and saute for few seconds.
  5. Add 1 can  of drained black beans, the pureed black beans, salsa, and salt to taste. Add more water if you want a thinner soup.
  6. Simmer 10-15 minutes and stir often.
  7. Serve topped with grated cheese and/or sour cream.

NOTE: The spice and salsa measurements above are only guides. Feel free to increase or decrease to suit your taste. I use a one-pound bag of dry beans that are soaked overnight and cooked in the crockpot or pressure cooker. In this case, I substitute 1 1/2 cup beans and 1/3 cup cooking water for 1 can of black beans. This leaves me with about 1 1/2 cups of extra beans to use for another time. If you intend to use all of the beans in this recipe, increase the spices and salsa to taste.

 

 

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

With the cold weather setting in, a salad is not always the most inviting meal when trying to get our veggies for the day. Chopping and prepping a ton of vegetable is sometimes a chore too. A hot bowl of soup sounds so inviting, but I know that baked potato soup should not be a regular menu item. This carrot soup is easy to make, and is not only healthy, but also quite versatile. The spices give it a good punch, and I’ve had a quick lunch by adding leftovers on a bowl of quinoa or brown rice that was sitting in the fridge.

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

(serves 5-6)

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion (chop)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chop)
  • 1 inch ginger (grate)
  • 1 Tbsp corriander powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 6 cups stock
  • Cilantro for garnish

1) Wash, peel and chop carrots in chunks.

2) Heat oil in a large pan and saute garlic for a minute.

3) Add onion and ginger and saute till well roasted.

4) Add corriander, cumin, and pepper powder and saute for few seconds, making sure it does not burn.

5) Add carrot chunks and lightly roast with the spices.

6) Add stock and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes till carrots are tender.

7) Cool slightly and strain / scoop out the vegetable chunks and puree. Alternately, use your immersion blender and cream the soup.

8) Return to pot or serving bowl, garnish with cilantro and enjoy.

NOTE: I prefer to use vegetable stock in this soup, but chicken stock can be used too. If you do not have stock on hand, use about 3 bullion cubes with water, but salt accordingly. The next time, I plan on adding some lentils to make this a heartier soup – will post an update on how it turns out.