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Thai Red Curry

Oh let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… well, it does not snow where I live but certainly a cold winter. I like to sit next to the fireplace, cuddled inside a blanket and sip some hot tea. Who wouldn’t like that comfort? Winter also calls in for healthy eating for me since not eating healthy is an easy choice considering the fact that its so cold outside and less walk in the parks etc unless I am committed in going to the gym, which surely am not. And winter is also a season of festivities and parties – potlucks, wines, beer and so much fun. Every year I host christmas party at my place and call family over. It really feels festive to have people around rather than being alone. Kids look forward to this party you know why, the presents. The unwrapping of each and every present gives them so much excitement and watching them unwrap brings me chills. That smile on those innocent faces is worth a million bucks!
Ok, coming back to food, now I wanted to make something quick and easy yet flavorful and healthy and kids and adults will like it. Parties should be fun and not be stressful for me so I was thinking what to make and after giving considerable thought I narrowed it down to Red Curry. It’s spicy, tasty, has tofu, tons of chunks of vegetables in a savory coconut sauce. I am so glad I made it because everyone loved it. Here is the recipe to a easy breezy recipe.

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Ingredients: (For about 12 people)

– 1 Big red bell peper
– 2 Cups broccoli florets
– 2 medium size carrots
– 1/2 extra firm tofu
– 2 medium size zucchini
– 1 8oz. can baby corn
– 10 String beans
– Thai Red Curry paste (Mae Ploy or Thai Kitchen brand)
– 14 oz light coconut milk
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– Salt per taste
– 4 cups rice

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Directions:

Wash and chop all vegetable in big chunks, say about 2 inch pieces. In a wok, heat oil, then add the vegetables except zucchini. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add about 1 tbsp of red curry paste, sauté for about 2 minutes. Now add the coconut milk, bring it to a boil, simmer, cover and let it cook until 3/4th done. Now add the zucchini, let it cook. Add salt, taste and add more curry paste as per your taste. Before turning off the stove, add tofu, mix and cover it with a lid. Just before your guests arrive, turn on your rice in the rice cooker so that you can serve it hot with the scrumptious thai red curry.

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Happy Halloween! Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Every year, 31st October, carved pumpkins are put out on porches and doorsteps in the United States, but also other parts of the world. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns” originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. The name comes from an Irish folktale about a man called Stingy Jack. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween tradition.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a low-calorie (26kcal per 100g), low-fat vegetable, and contains 91.6% water (raw). It is also a great source of Vitamin A (8513 IU per 100g).

Pumpkin Coconut Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 cups peeled and diced pumpkin
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 small red chili, diced
  • Chopped stalks from a bunch of fresh coriander (about 2 tbsp, perfect for using up those tasty bits)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • Some lemongrass
  • 2 large garlic clove, chopped
  • Peel from half of fresh lime
  • Juice from half of fresh lime

Instructions

  1. Put the oven on 200C. Cut a lid off the pumpkin and carve out the seeds. Fill the pumpkin with 3 tbsp of water and put the lid over. Roast the pumpkin seeds at the same time. Leave in the oven for 20 minutes until the pumpkin is soft enough to dig out the meat.
  2. Sautee onion, chili, coriander stalks, galangal and turmeric in coconut oil for a couple of minutes. Add pumpkin, garlic, lime peel, water and coconut milk and bring to boil. Simmer on low heat for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the rest of the mixture to a food processor or a blender. Puree until smooth, then add coconut cream and lime juice. Blend until incorporated. You can use a hand-held blender/soup mixer as well. Serve with fresh coriander leaves on top.

Preparation time: 10 minutes, cooking time: 15 minutes, number of servings: 4

Enjoy!   . ★

Resources

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3188?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=pumpkin

http://www.history.com/topics/jack-olantern-history

Edamame Succotash

succotash

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 small ear of organic corn, cut off the cob and blanched
  • 3/4 cup edamame, blanched
  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet potato in salt, pepper, and a
  3. small amount of melted butter.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and a bit brown.
  5. In the meantime, blanch the corn and the edamame in salted boiling water and drain.
  6. Toss together and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Butternut Squash & Kale Tostadas

Butternut squash and kale make me think of fall, and I love finding new ways to pair them together. These crunchy vegetarian tostadas are loaded with black beans seasoned with garlic and cumin, thinly sliced kale, roasted butternut squash, diced red onion, and avocado sour cream.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube a 1.5 lb butternut squash. Place on baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast squash about 25 minutes, stirring with a spatula halfway through.

While squash is cooking, pour two cans of low sodium black beans into a saucepan, and add garlic and cumin. Warm on low heat.

Wash kale thoroughly. Cut kale leaves from the ribs. Roll kale leaves up and thinly slice. Place kale in colander and rinse with hot water for about 15-30 seconds to slightly wilt leaves, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Eggplant and Bell Pepper Terrine

Eggplant

So what is a terrine? My online Apple dictionary defines it as: 1. a meat, fish, or vegetable mixture that has been cooked or otherwise prepared in advance and allowed to cool or set in its container; 2. A container used for such a dish, typically of an oblong shape and made of earthenware.

This recipe conforms to both definitions and is a wonderful vegan appetizer. If you’re an eggplant lover, this one’s for you. It takes about an hour of prep time and can be made the day before. In fact, it is best if made the day before so the terrine fully marinates. Bring it to room temperature before serving for best flavor.

Ingredients:

4 red bell peppers
2 medium eggplants  – cut ¼ inches thick rounds
1 small shallot  (peeled and minced)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup organic tofu (mashed)
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves (Now appearing at the Farmers’ Market)
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Directions:

Roast the bell peppers under the broiler until skins begin to bubble and peel. Peppers will almost be black when they are ready. Transfer to a large baggie and close the top carefully (peppers will be plenty hot). Let steam in the baggie until cool enough to the touch – approximately 15 minutes. Peel, seed and skin peppers. Cut into 1-inch wide strips. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. Working in batches, arrange the eggplant rounds on baking sheets in a single layer. Roast until tender – about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the rounds over after 12 minutes to ensure even cooking. Using a spatula, transfer the rounds to a wire rack to cool (wax paper works well but if you can use a rack it lets the air circulate to both sides).

In a small bowl, combine the shallot, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Set vinaigrette aside.

Spray a terrine with cooking spray (I use a 9×4 inch earthenware loaf pan). Arrange one-third of the eggplant rounds, slightly overlapping, to cover the bottom of the pan. Brush lightly with vinaigrette. Arrange half of the bell pepper strips, slightly overlapping, over the eggplant. Using a rubber spatula spread half of the tofu over the peppers. Top with half of the fresh basil and brush lightly with vinaigrette.

Make another layer of eggplant, vinaigrette, bell pepper, tofu and basil. Brush with vinaigrette. Top with a third layer of eggplant. Brush with vinaigrette. Using your hands, press down firmly but gently on the terrine, compressing the layers.

Cover tightly and marinate, in the refrigerator, for 12 to 24 hours. Carefully un-mold terrine onto a platter and garnish with fresh basil prior to serving.

Fall Salad: Roasted Pear, Pomegranate, and Gorgonzola with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

salad

If you’re looking for an easy, crowd-pleasing salad then here you go! The roasted pears add a nice twist, and the pomegranate seeds burst in your mouth. I buy the pomegranate seeds already packaged, but if you have the time you can meticulously de-seed the pomegranate. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do that…I had to watch a You-Tube video! If you don’t like gorgonzola or blue cheese, you can easily substitute goat, feta, or Parmesan. You can also use candied walnuts or pecans, but the maple syrup in the dressing already adds a nice sweetness. Enjoy!

Roasted Pear, Pomegranate, and Gorgonzola Salad with  Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Roasted Pears:

  • 3 Anjou pears, quartered and cored
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Skirlie stuffed savoy cabbage – total comfort food

stuffed cabbage

I’m on a bit of a veg kick at the moment, when I’ve got loads of work on I tend to cut out meat, pasta and potatoes as I find it gives me much more energy and focus. Every Sunday, if I’m home, I head to my local car boot sale to buy the week’s veg from Maureen and Bridget. I’ve spoken of these two wonderful ladies quite often on here, they live just over the border in Lincolnshire and Bridget grows the most impressive veg and Maureen is the queen of pies, fruit vinegars and lemon curd.

The weather is dreary and wet today which leaves me craving comfort food. Off I went as usual in the driving rain to get my veg and came back with a mountain for less than £10: purple cauliflower, romanesco cauliflower, cavelo nero, green and purple kale, red cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, bunched…

 

Farro salad with pomegranate

Fall salads made with farro arugula e pecorino cheese, rich in healthy ingredients

This is a farro salad rich in healthy ingredients as pomegranate seeds, arugula and extra virgin olive oil. This is one of my favorite fall recipes, because is a fresh meal and a rich source of dietary fiber. Pomegranate is a super food rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and it adds an elegant touch to the farro salad.

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

100 g of whole grain farro or pearled farro (remember that whole grain farro is the richer in fiber content but it must be soaked for 12 hours prior to cooking)
30 g of arugula
40 g of pecorino cheese shavings
2 pomegranates
Salt.

Salad dressing

35 ml of pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

PREPARATION

Cook farro in boiling salted water for 20- 25 minutes. Drain the farro and put it in a bowl, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Stir and let the farro cool.

Fall salads made with farro arugula e pecorino cheese, rich in healthy ingredients

Cut a pomegranate in half, and remove all the seeds using your fingertips, discard the  white attached membranes.

With the second pomegranate prepare the juice using a manual juicer, as if you are squeezing  an orange.

Pour the juice through a strainer.

When the farro is cold add a tablespoon of olive oil, 60 g of pomegranate seeds, 35 ml of pomegranate juice. Add the pecorino cheese. Season with salt to your liking. Only before serving, add the arugula.

Are you a pomegranate lover? Please suggest your favorite pomegranate recipes!

You may be also interested in the following posts

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

What is a Vegetarian and Vegan Diet?

Although there are many variations of vegetarian diets, they all base their diets on foods of plant origin, but there are different levels of vegetarianism according to how much food derived from animals is also eaten. The groups can generally be split into 5 major categories:

  1. ‘Semi vegetarian’ eats poultry and/or fish, dairy foods and eggs, but no red meat;
  2. ‘Lacto vegetarian’ consumes dairy foods but no meat, poultry, fish or eggs;
  3.  ’Lacto-ovo vegetarian’ includes dairy foods and eggs, but no meat, poultry or fish;
  4. Pescetarian’ includes fish and other seafood, but no meat or poultry (while eggs and/or dairy foods may or may not be eaten); and
  5. A ‘vegan’ eats only foods of plant origin.

There are also some extreme forms of vegetarianism, like ‘fruitarians’ that eat nothing requiring a living organism to be killed, restricting their diet to fruits, nuts, honey and olive oil.

Why Go Vegetarian or Vegan?

Many people are vegetarians as a result of religious beliefs and some because they don’t want to support animals suffering. A lot of people also chose to not eat red meat as a result of research that links red meat consumption and health issues. Heart diseases and high cholesterol levels are two examples.

Vegans would almost certainly agree with the moral argument but would probably add that, unlike milk and eggs, plants contain no cholesterol and most plant foods have little ‘saturated fat‘ (a type of fat that is associated with increased risk of heart disease). But it is worth noting that coconut oil and palm oil are exceptions, in that most of the fat from these plant foods is saturated. However, please stay as far away as possible from palm oil as this breeds highly unethical behaviour against wild life (google or youtube it if you need more insight).

Arguments for a vegetarian diet are the higher levels of many vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and other substances that are of nutritional benefit in foods of plant origin.

Many vegetarians believe that, in addition to health benefits and moral considerations, there is also reduced environmental degradation (i.e. increased sustainability) associated with vegetarianism.

Do I Get All the Necessary Nutrients With a Vegetarian Diet?

Vegetarian diets, when properly planned, have been consistently found to provide the full range of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fibre necessary for optimal nutritional status.

However, vegetarian diets can lead to low iron status. Vegetarian teenage girls and women of child-bearing age are particularly at risk of iron-deficiency anaemia because red meat a good source of iron. Combining a source of vitamin C (such as fruit or fruit juice) with wheat-based cereal foods will increase the absorption of the iron available in the cereal. Eggs, legumes (a term that includes peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, soy foods) and nuts are also significant sources of iron.

Do I Get Enough Nutrients With a Vegan diet?

A well-planned vegan diet can meet all nutritional requirements. However, some are at risk of developing B12 deficiency unless special effort is made to eat foods with this vitamin, or a vitamin supplement is taken. Although any diet that fails to address healthy eating principles can be deficient in essential nutrients, vegans may need to be especially cautious with their eating habits with regard to nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, iodine, selenium and omega-3 fats.

These nutrients can still be absorbed via supplementation. Supplement vendors like GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe, local grocery stores or online vendors such as Powder City provide the aforementioned nutrients in supplement form. It is most cost effective to purchase your supplements in bulk powder form.

Vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods, and studies have shown that both vegetarians and vegans generally have lower levels of vitamin B12 than do omnivores.  While it can take many years to become deficient, anyone following a vegan diet who doesn’t include a reliable source of vitamin B12 is at risk of becoming deficient over time.  If you follow a vegan diet (or you are vegetarian but don’t eat many dairy foods or eggs) you should either take a vitamin B12 supplement or include foods fortified with vitamin B12 in your diet regularly. This is particularly important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, to reduce the risk of deficiency in their babies.

If you’re tired of getting ripped off for vitamins and supplements from your local grocery or department stores, affordable and high quality supplements are at online retailers like Powder City or Hard Rhino. Their customer service is top notch and they offer free shipping to orders over $25.

Do I Get Enough Protein on a Vegetarian or Vegan diet?

One of the first things that stops people from going vegetarian or vegan is that they think their only source of protein is meat. Grain foods, legumes, potatoes, seeds and nuts are good sources of protein. Pepitas seeds are a good source – 36.7% of its weight is actually protein!

Although vegetarians and vegans have to make an effort to get enough of certain vitamins, is fair to say that vegetarians in Western nations often eat a diet that is closer to the recommended pattern of food intake. Vegetarian diets include higher intakes of cereal foods, vegetables (including legumes) and fruits—and therefore of dietary fibre—with lower intakes of fat  (particularly saturated fat) and salt.

Vegetarians in Western countries experience significantly less cancer, less heart disease, fewer strokes and generally live longer

What are the Benefits of Being on a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet?

medicinalThere is substantial evidence supporting that vegetarians in Western countries experience significantly less cancer, less heart disease, fewer strokes, and generally live longer than omnivores. Studies has shown that higher intake of beneficial dietary factors—available only in foods of plant origin— explains the better overall health of vegetarians.

Much research is still needed to determine the optimal diet for health and longevity (living to a ‘ripe old age’). Some nutritionists believe that a predominantly vegetarian diet, with low-moderate quantities of lean meat and moderate quantities of low- or reduced-fat dairy products will produce the best long-term health outcome. However, it is still true that strict vegetarianism (particularly the lacto and lacto-ovo varieties) is associated with better health outcome than an omnivorous diet.

Resources

http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/frequently-asked-questions/vegetarian-diets

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