Gujarati Style Slaw

This quick and easy slaw makes a great side to round out a meal. I served it this past Sunday along side aloo gobi, a spicy, lemony dal and Basmati rice. But, it would also be great on top of a veggie burger or as a crunchy side to your favorite wrap or sandwich.

Unlike a typical coleslaw, this Gujarati version is not drenched in a heavy dressing and has just a hint of spice. The slaw is only lightly cooked, leaving the vegetables with a nice crunch. Growing up, my mom always made it with green cabbage, but I just couldn’t resist this beautiful purple cabbage at the market. I’d definitely give the green cabbage version a try (my family actually prefers that one!). I liked this version equally and loved the punch of color.

 

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For a recipe as simple as this, it’s important to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go because it comes together in minutes. I find this dish to be very sensitive to salt. Depending on how small or big your cabbage is, you may need to adjust the level of salt. Of course, I recommend you start with the smaller range of salt and add seasoning to taste. This dish can be eaten warm but it’s equally good at room temperature. In fact, one of the beautiful things about this slaw is that you can make it ahead of time and just leave it at room temperature until you are ready to eat.

 

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Asafoetida is a bit of an unusual spice and you may not have heard of it before. If you don’t have it, I wouldn’t let it keep you from making this dish. But, if you have an Indian grocery store within a reasonable distance, I think it’s worth the effort to add it to your spice rack.  It has a very pungent aroma, and the smallest pinch is all that is needed. I’m not even sure you could pick out the individual flavor in the dish, but it seems to add a little something special to the slaw. It’s used in many Indian dishes as a flavor enhancer and is said to add notes of onion/garlic flavor to the dish. Traditionally, it’s felt to aid in digestion and even serve as an antidote to flatulence. Which, I suppose, is good thing if you plan on eating half a head of cabbage:)

Gujarati Style Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • small pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 thin green chili (depending on how spicy the chili is and how much heat you want!), sliced
  • small to medium head of cabbage (purple or green), finely shredded
  • red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots
  • hefty handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet and over medium heat, gently warm the oil.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and warm until they begin to sizzle. Add the green chili, asafoetida, turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Warm until the spices become fragrant (only a minute or two).
  3. Add the vegetables along with the salt. Gently toss until the vegetables are coated in the spices, being careful not to overcook. The vegetables should be slightly wilted but remain crunchy.
  4. Add half the cilantro to the slaw and fold in.
  5. To serve, garnish with the remaining cilantro.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/gujarati-style-slaw/

 

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I’ve started back to work over the last few months and it’s been such a gift. I didn’t realize how much I missed being in an office environment, and seeing patients again has been rewarding. The days are long, and the juggling of work, family and all the rest of it has been challenging for sure. Something I’m working on is to use my weekends for more serious meal planning so that dinner can come together easily on busy work days. I find that prepping and chopping vegetables ahead of time, anticipating leftovers, and relying on my freezer have been an enormous help. I’m still getting the hang of things and hope to share many more quick and delicious recipes that can come together in a snap.

Not Just for Tuesday Gobi Tacos

This is a bit of crazy recipe, and I kind of like it that way. The dish has it’s origins in two cultures and I went ahead and added a third. Gobi Manchurian is a fusion of Indian and Chinese cooking. I remember decades ago when my family traveled back to India for a visit, we were taken out for a very special dinner. The menu featured this Indian-Chinese fusion cooking and it was delicious. Years later, on another trip to India, I tried Gobi Manchurian for the first time. It’s one of those dishes that just sort of haunts you in the best way possible. You go searching for it without much luck, and it remains a fond travel memory.  You can imagine my giddiness when a few years ago, I found a recipe on line at Show Me the Curry (a great Indian cooking website with video tutorials) and tried my hand at making it.

I’ve made the recipe several times and my family truly LOVES it. It’s savory and spicy and just plain delicious. I highly recommend you check out the original version.  The traditional version calls for deep frying of lightly battered cauliflower. It turns tiny florets of cauliflower into crispy little bundles ready to hold a glorious sauce. I’m not a huge fan of frying, and in fact, I think this is the only recipe for which I have ever deep fried a food! You can find baked versions of this recipe on line and I have tried them in the past. I ran into the problem of the batter becoming quite soggy and decided to do away with it all together and simply roasted plain cauliflower. The spicy, sweet and sour flavors are all there without the hassle, not to mention that it’s much more nutritious.

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It’s traditionally served as an appetizer or snack (think bar food) but my family really does love it so much that I thought it might be tasty stuffed into a tiny little taco. So, that’s just what I did.

Not Just for Tuesday Gobi Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for spraying
  • 1 medium onion,finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of red chili sauce (I like Sambal Olek -- 1 tablespoon would be pretty mild and 4 is definitely hot!!!)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons corn starch
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • corn tortillas
  • garnishes such as shredded cabbage, limes, green onions, cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small, bite-sized florets. Spray with just a bit of olive oil (feel free to omit if you prefer) and lay them in a single layer onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through and slightly browned.
  4. While the cauliflower is roasting, in a sauté pan warm the oil over medium heat. (Note, I haven't tried this recipe without oil, but you can certainly try a no-oil sauté with vegetable broth. The oil helps to carry and combine the flavors).
  5. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent and lightly browned.
  6. Carefully add the ketchup and chili sauce (it may splatter). Cook this mixture for several minutes until the oil starts to separate a bit.
  7. Next, add the tamari (or soy sauce) and white vinegar.
  8. In a small bowl, combine the corn starch with the water and make a slurry.
  9. Add the slurry to the sauté pan, mix in, and cook for a minute or two until it thickens.
  10. Once the cauliflower is nicely roasted, add it to the pan and mix in gently until the florets are nice coated.
  11. Spoon the mixture onto corn tortillas and garnish with your favorites.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/not-just-for-tuesday-gobi-tacos/

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A few of notes. You could use homemade ketchup or perhaps even tomato paste if you didn’t want to use store-bought ketchup. However, I find that the ketchup (Whole Foods makes one that I like) adds just a hint of sweetness that really makes the dish. If your sauce is done before the cauliflower is done roasting, just pull it off the heat and rewarm when you are ready. If you are concerned about the spice level for little ones (the joy of this dish is the spiciness!), don’t mix in all of the cauliflower into the sauce. Instead, you can drizzle just a bit of sauce onto the cauliflower to give it a little flavor without all the heat. Be warned, this recipe makes quite a bit of cauliflower. I don’t mind, though, because the leftovers are delicious. You could certainly eat them with tortillas and garnishes, but you might even just add them to whatever greens and veggies you have on hand for a quick lunch on the go. I added mine to some leftover rice and beans that we served with our tacos, shredded purple cabbage, and kale.

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I think having fun with your food and combining cultural cuisines can be a great way to introduce your kids to different flavors. I also love learning about the origins of dishes, especially ones like this that seem to have such a cultural history. I found this article on the CNN Travel website that talks about the history of Indian-Chinese food, and all of a sudden, I’m wanting to go back to India….

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Green Soup: A Cold-Weather Twist on the Classic Green Smoothie

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. Ours was spent with family in a non-traditional setting. My dad turned 70 this fall and we decided to celebrate by spending the holiday in Mexico. It was an easy to get to destination for all, filled with sun, sand and togetherness. I find that when I travel or come through a holiday with a heavy focus on food, the following days require a bit of a reset. For me, that means refuelling with simple whole foods. Green smoothies and juices are a great way to reset, but as the weather cools, I want something a little warmer. This green soup fits the bill for sure. I made I nice big pot of it on Sunday and it will be great to have on hand throughout the week for a simple lunch, snack or even breakfast.

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This recipe really is about as unfussy as you can get. Think of it as a green smoothie in soup form — use what you have on hand, create a nice texture, and try to balance the flavors. Start with some aromatics (garlic, onion, maybe ginger?!), fill it with as many greens and other veggies as you can, and consider adding in something to give it a creamy, hefty texture (potatoes, cannellini beans, etc.). This basic recipe will give you a way to access “green soup” but, really, add your touch to it. I kept things simple for this version, but you could certainly spice it up with additional seasonings, toppings, and condiments.

Basic Green Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • large bunch of kale, roughly chopped
  • large head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 3 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat (alternatively, you can omit the olive oil all together and do a no-oil sauté).
  2. Add the diced onions and sauté until they begin to brown.
  3. Add the garlic, celery and bell pepper and continue to sauté until the vegetables have softened.
  4. Next, throw in the kale and broccoli. Sauté until it the kale has wilted.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, potatoes and salt. Add an additional 1/2 to 1 cup water to make sure the vegetables are covered in liquid.
  6. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked tender.
  7. Carefully, and in batches (it took me 2), purée the soup in a blender.
  8. Return the soup to the pot. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/green-soup-a-cold-weather-twist-on-the-classic-green-smoothie/

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To serve the soup, I recommend topping it with a few toasted pumpkin seeds or even some roasted chickpeas for a more substantial meal. You can store the soup in the refrigerator and just warm up a bowl or mugful at a time. I don’t mind having a bit of texture to it and flecks of broccoli, so I don’t purée it for too long. It also packs very nicely in a thermos.

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I wanted to end this post by sharing a personal story. A bit of an “emotional reset” it you will. As parents, we tend to worry about our children in all the many aspects of their lives. School, friendships, homework, safety, happiness — you mention it, we are capable of fretting over it. Over the last few weeks, I faced some professional challenges of my own, and what I realized is that how we behave and how we handle things are perhaps the most powerful lessons we can provide our children. There is such a push to teach our kids to be resilient, graceful under pressure, not whine and somehow manage it all. We lose patience when they can’t seem to be ready on time, fuss over homework or complain about chores. But, what I learned from my 13 year old (soon to be 14, yikes!) is that sometimes our quiet presence, a few simple words in place of a lecture or lengthy discussion, and just a bit of time and space work wonders.

I can no longer say that we “just” moved to California. It’s been nearly 18 months, and the truth is, it’s been challenging at times. After a year of getting settled and exploring options, I had decided it was time to get back to work. I looked at various opportunities and found one that I thought would be a good fit. The job ended up not working out and it threw me for a loop — a big one. After months of effort, I would have to begin again. I was in the car with my daughter, and she was acutely aware of my mood. There was a lot of silence in the car. She waited for the right moment to ask what was going on. I explained. She waited some more. Somehow she found the words to reassure me, to encourage me, and to remind me that how we handle adversity not only shapes who we are, but how we move through life. I needed a few days (ok, maybe more than a few) to fully feel the disappointment and upset. There was no pressure to make an immediate decision. She didn’t fill the silent spaces with lots and lots of words, nor did she demand that I immediately look on the bright side of things. She had the confidence that I would figure things out. How did she get so smart?

 

Quick Pickled Beets and a Few Words on Diet

Last week I had the pleasure of attending The International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference in Anaheim, California and wanted to share some hi-lights from the meeting. If you’ve seen the movie Forks Over Knives, you may already be familiar with the topics and presenters from the conference. In essence, the whole meeting supports the notion that we have the power to alter our state of health and well being through the food that we eat. Specifically, that eating a whole food, plant-based diet is the path to not only a longer life, but a more healthful and vibrant one. Physicians, dietitians and researchers presented evidence and case after case of how this health promoting way of life can be truly transformative.  For some, the transformation came on the heels of an emergent medical problem (heart attack) and for others it was in the face of years of suffering with chronic conditions and their associated complications (diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, etc.). The list of presenters read like a whose who in the plant-based world and was beyond impressive. I found the meeting to be (both personally and professionally) inspiring and motivating. I’m not a huge fan of writing in short-hand list format but I did want to share some hi-lights from the meeting with resources if you wanted to do some more exploring (p.s. read to the end for a quick and easy pickled beet recipe!).

  • Prescription for heath from Dean Ornish, M.D.: eat well, stress less, move more, love more. He offers a compassionate approach and suggests that “shame, guilt, and humiliation” have no useful purpose in this conversation. He presented research supporting how lifestyle changes can make a powerful difference in disease processes such as prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even gene expression. From a health and environmental stand-point, he summed up by stating that a plant-based diet is “the power of love made manifest”.
  • While these lifestyle changes may be a disruptive process, they represent a paradigm shift. One in which we are no longer “mopping up the floor (medications, surgery, etc.), but actually turning off the faucet (via lifestyle changes)”.mopping
  • Gut health and the gut microbiome, (including the benefits of fermented foods and and the deleterious effects of antibiotics) were covered. The nature and diversity of our microbiome is thought to affect metabolism, inflammation and immune health.  Though research on the gut microbiome is still in its early stages, it is clearly a topic to follow. As many researchers have stated, we are only at “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to our understanding of the gut microbiome but its effects may be as far reaching as diabetes, heart disease and even autoimmune conditions.
  • Dr. Esselstyn and others discussed the importance of our endothelial system and how what we eat impacts our cardiovascular health.
  • Dr. Greger (If you haven’t checked out his site, it’s an absolute must! An incredible database of information supported by research) gave a phenomenal talk that covered a plethora of topics that supported a whole food, plant-based diet.

Just a few articles and links that might be interesting for you to review:

The American Gut Project
Article in The New York Times on the microbiome by Michael Pollan
TED Talk: How are microbiome makes us who we are
TED Talk by Dean Ornish: The Killer American Diet that’s sweeping the planet

And now, the promised pickled beets! The following recipe  (once again, inspired by my coursework at Rouxbe!) is so simple and makes a great addition to salads, as a condiment on sandwiches or side dish. The most “difficult” part of the recipe is actually just the time that it takes to roast the beets. At the farmer’s market this past week, I spotted a bunch of Cylindra beets, which are heirloom beets named for their long, cylindrical roots. They have a sweet flavor and their tops (greens) tend to be a bit less bitter than round beets (don’t throw away with greens!). I also found them to be easier to peel (score a slit down the length of the beet and then just peel away) and slice more uniformly. Either variety works for this recipe. You can even use golden beets but I would cook them separately so that you keep their vibrant color.

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Quick Pickled Beets and a Few Words on Diet

Ingredients

  • 5 or so beets
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable broth
  • juice of 1 medium or 1/2 large orange
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Wash the beets thoroughly. In a medium bowl, toss the beets with the vegetable stock, orange juice and thyme sprigs.
  3. Using a double layer of aluminum foil to create a small "boat" and place the beets along with the liquid and thyme, in the center of the boat, being careful to keep the liquid inside the boat. Tightly wrap the foil into a packet.
  4. Place the beet packet on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes, until the beets are tender.
  5. Let the beets cool slightly and carefully open up the packet, being careful not to burn yourself with the released steam.
  6. Remove the skin and slice the beets into 1/4 inch slices.
  7. Lay the beets in a glass baking dish and pour the sherry vinegar over the beets. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Allow the beets to marinate for about 1/2 an hour and then store the beets along with the liquid in a glass mason jar. Refrigerate and use liberally on salads, sandwiches or just as a snack!
http://www.thefamily-table.com/quick-pickled-beets-and-a-few-words-on-diet/

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If you happen to have a lot beets and don’t think you will use them up, you can create a simple beet soup but sautéing some shallots in a  bit of olive oil (optional)and then adding the roasted beets, chopped fresh thyme, a squeeze of orange juice, vegetable broth and salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture for a 10 to 15 minutes and then purée in a blender. They are especially nice served as little shooter appetizers and garnished with finely diced cucumber and orange zest.

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IMG_8125A lot of information and still more to discover. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topics that are interesting to you and hope to delve a bit deeper.

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup with Orzo

Back to school has started for nearly all of us and I’m amazed at how quickly the pace of life has picked up. Looking at the calendar and planning the week can be a dizzying task. Dinner is probably the last thing on many of our minds, but sometimes I feel like it’s exactly those moments when a simple, home-cooked meal is the most needed. It’s an opportunity to slow down, reconnect and nourish our family.

This roasted pepper and tomato soup with orzo is my take on the classic tomato rice soup (does anyone else remember eating Campbell’s “Old-fashioned Tomato Rice Soup”?) I adapted the recipe from my alma mater, Rouxbe Cooking School (if you haven’t checked out their site, I highly recommend it!). It’s essentially the same recipe with just a couple of additions. The first time I made this soup, I was amazed at how the roasted red peppers transformed a simple tomato soup into something so rich and very special. The peppers add a bit of sweetness and a layer of flavor that is well worth the extra effort. If you have a brand of jarred roasted peppers that you love, you certainly could use them for this recipe. However, I think making your own is incredibly simple, much less expensive and so much tastier that I’m urging you to give it a try.

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Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup with Orzo

Ingredients

  • 2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup orzo, cooked just to al dente
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • medium onion, diced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
  • 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the peppers on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, flipping the peppers half way through. The skin of the peppers should look charred and the flesh should be soft and cooked through. Once the peppers are nicely charred, allow them to cool enough so that you can handle them without burning yourself. Gently peel away the charred skin from the pepper and pull out the stem along with the seeds. Slice the roasted peppers and set them aside.
  2. While the peppers are roasting, cook your orzo according to package directions, making sure not to over cook. In fact, you may want to under-cook the pasta a bit since it will continue to cook once it's added to the soup. When the pasta is done, drain it and drizzle it with a tiny amount of olive oil to keep it from clumping together. Set the pasta aside and move onto the soup.
  3. In a medium sized pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until they begin to brown. Add the optional pinch of red pepper flakes, salt, garlic and thyme. Cook them for another minute or two.
  4. Next, add the roasted peppers, tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes to allow all of the flavors to meld.
  5. Carefully and in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. When you are ready to serve, ladle a generous portion of soup into a bowl and add a heaping spoonful or two of the orzo to the bowl. Mix in and enjoy! Alternatively, you can add all of the orzo to the soup, mix and serve right from the pot.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/roasted-pepper-and-tomato-soup-with-orzo/

The dinner required a little bit of planning ahead on a particularly full day. I made the soup in advance and even prepped a simple kale salad so that when everyone was home for the night, we had something to sit down to — a mound of orzo over a steaming bowl of soup with a lemony kale salad and crusty sourdough bread.

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Something I’m working on this year is to find the space to not complain so much. Personally, I can get very easily trapped into feeling that I don’t have much of a choice when it comes to hectic schedules and the responsibilities that come with home and work life. The truth is, most days I do have a choice. Maybe not in the everyday tasks that lie ahead of me, but in how I choose to look at those tasks. Something as simple as enjoying the smell of the roasted peppers as they come out of the oven or finding the beauty in a sizzling pot of onions, garlic and thyme, rather than feeling rushed or pressured about making dinner. And so my mantra for the week to come……

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”
― Eckhart Tolle