Our Veggie Eats

All about the food we eat at home, pack in our lunch boxes, and try everywhere else…. And feel it's blog worthy!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Oh…poor Abby has worms crawling out of her head!!!! Happy Halloween everybody.

Abby’s worms are savory crisps made out of a combination of rice and lentil flours. Deep fried crunchy goodness. YUM.

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Eating right

Sunday Lunch

A look at Sunday lunch. Dal (lentils) with turnips, spinach, onions and homegrown cherry tomatoes; tomato, cucumber and mint salad; chapatis (low-fat whole wheat flatbread) and plain unsweetened yogurt. My husband and daughter harvested the tomatoes bright and early Sunday morning.

Tomatoes from the kitchen garden

After a nice, cosy breakfast in the kitchen, as a Sunday ritual we prepared lunch together. She was not sure about the turnips but as she had helped prepare the meal, everything that was served on the plate was eaten. And then she served some more by herself. She decided she liked turnips after all. Her favorite as always was salad and yogurt .

Worry and parenting go hand in hand. More often than not, we worry if our kids will eat right. After all, there are so many unhealthy choices out there. Keeping it simple and leading by example can foster a healthy relationship with food. Yes, there will be cupcakes and candy at birthday parties and lunch trades at school, but  they will still have the opportunity to eat healthy at home. Why? Because that’s what we bring in and that’s what we cook 😉

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Best foot forward….After breakfast

Packing a healthy lunchbox for school is important, but ensuring that it’s eaten is a different beast altogether ;-). This makes breakfast and after school snacks important mini meals for kids.

A look at today’s breakfast. Rice and lentil savory pancakes (dosa) with spicy chutney (made with roasted sesame seeds, lentils and dried red chillies), fruits and a glass of milk. The chutney is like a dry rub and can be made and stored in an airtight container for a month. It is served like a dipping sauce by adding sesame oil to a small amount of the chutney.

Rice and Lentil pancakes with spicy chutney

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Whole wheat stuffed Indian flatbread (Aloo Paratha)

Remember the nursery rhyme Pat a cake, Pat a cake…… These versatile and quick Indian flat breads are just that. Roll it, pat it and put it on a griddle and they are ready for you, baby (ok, not exactly baby as these are a bit spicy) and anyone else you want to impress :). The dough is just whole wheat flour, salt and water. Doesn’t get easier than that 😉  Quite often I pack it in my daughters’ lunchbox as a wrap with curried vegetables inside. It can be served at breakfast in place of bread, lunch or dinner as wraps, or to scoop up curries, stews etc. Best of all it tastes great plain served hot off the griddle. Handy hint : Kids love it with fruit preserves or Nutella.

Potato Filling (for 8 flat breads)

Peel, dice and boil 250g (I used 1 large Russett) potatoes.

Drain and return to the pan to eliminate excess moisture. Mash, add salt, finely chopped coriander and chillies.

Innovate at this point and add the seasonings that suit your taste buds. If it’s rosemary and garlic, go for it! The only rule is that the seasonings should be finely chopped as this will go into the dough and will have to be rolled out. No tear, No tears 🙂

Dough (For about 8 flat breads)

Mix 2 1/2 C of whole wheat flour and  1/2 t salt. Slowly add  about 1 1/4 C water and make a smooth dough. Add 1/2 t oil and knead for about 3-5 min. Cover and let the dough rest for about 20 min.

Making the Flat bread

Heat a griddle pan on medium heat. Take a lime sized ball of dough. Roll it in some flour (all purpose or whole wheat).

Flatten it and roll it out into a small disc. Take about 1 1/2 T of the potato filling and shape it like a ball. Roll the ball in the flour (prevents sticking). Place it on top of the disc.

Cover the disc and roll it out dipping into the flour as necessary to avoid sticking.

Roll it out gently, avoiding excess pressure on the rolling-pin.

Lift the flatbread and put it on the hot griddle. Add about 1/2 t of oil (canola, olive or any oil that you like) around the flatbread and a little on top. Cook for about a min.

Flip and cook the other side. The flatbread can be flipped a few times. Remove when it has a few golden spots and it is ready to serve or stack.

Tip: The flat breads can be frozen after being rolled out. Use wax or parchment paper between the flat breads while stacking. They go from freezer to a hot griddle making it a healthy fast food.

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Time to celebrate

Yummy festival season treats

Yummy festival season treats

This being festival season in India the little ones can look forward to yummy homemade treats. Today is one such day. After school snack includes lentil fritters (vadai) and cardamom flavored rice sweetened with whole cane sugar (aka jaggery).

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Lentil Fritters (Vadai)

Lentil Fritters

Lentil Fritters

These fritters are crunchy on the outside and soft and cushion-y on the inside.  Plain is good but mixed with finely chopped onions, cabbage, green chillies, and ginger is even better.

Wash and soak 1 C Urad Dal, 3 to 4 green chillies and a 2 inch piece of ginger for about 1 hr. Grind to a smooth dough like consistency using water. Use water sparingly and add slowly while grinding.  Add salt to taste ( about 1 tsp). This is the time to add veggies if desired. Mix well.  Heat oil for deep-frying.  Moisten a Ziploc bag with some water and drop a small amount of dough on it. Pat it and put a small hole in the center with your finger.  The hard part is inverting the fritter into your hand and transferring to the hot oil with the hole intact. But the taste is worth the challenge. Continue with the rest of the dough. 4-5 fritters can be made in a batch. Fry to golden brown on both sides. Serve hot.

 Tip: If it is too hard to make the donut shape, just drop the dough with a spoon into the hot oil. It tastes just as good!

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Black eyed peas burger

Black Eyed Peas burger on Rye bun

I had never tried making burgers with black eyed peas but it was an experiment that leaves you thinking “duh why didn’t I think of it before”! Pre soaking and pressure cooking the peas with minimal amount of water made it easy to work with. The burgers were nice and firm and did not fall apart even after the addition of grated carrots and lime juice (aka moisture) for zing.  Slider sized homemade medium rye buns served well for these delicious burgers. Topped with melty swiss cheese and homegrown cherry tomatoes.

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Corn Meal Crepes

Maize (Corn) Flour Crepe

Maize (Corn) Flour Crepe

Corn meal crepes (Indian Corn Meal Dosa) serve as breakfast or after school snack at home.  This versatile crepe can be served with fillings (the usual potatoes and onions or the unusual based on your imagination), chutneys or fruit preserves for the little ones.

1 C corn meal ( yellow or white)
1/4 C semolina flour (cream of wheat)
1/4 C rice flour

1. Make a thin batter with the flours by adding water. Add salt to taste.

2. Heat 1 T of oil and season with 1 t mustard seeds, 2 t cumin seeds, 2 green chillies finely chopped and a few pinched curry leaves.  Add this to the batter and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

3. Heat a frying pan. Stir the batter before pouring starting from the outside and working your way to the center. Add about a teaspoon of oil around the crepe and some in the center. The crepes will be crispy only if the batter is thin.

4. Use a spatula to flip the crepe when it starts getting crisp and golden brown. Cook on the other side about 15 seconds. Fold in half and serve hot with desired sides or fillings.

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Vegetarian Cannelloni without Ricotta

Vegetarian Cannelloni without Ricotta

Vegetarian Cannelloni

I have lost count of the number of times I buy random things at the grocery store. One such casualty was a box of cannelloni pasta. All vegetarian cannelloni recipes I had seen so far were heavy on ricotta cheese. Not being a big fan of ricotta, the box of cannelloni stayed on the shelf for well over a month. Having been gently reminded by my husband that there were pantry items to be used, I figured it was time.

Inspired by a dish made by Jamie Oliver on one of his shows, I stuffed the cannelloni with vegetables. I sautéed onions, eggplant, tomatoes, white beans, ginger, garlic with seasonings (crushed red pepper flakes, Indian spice mix garam masala)  to create a mash that I then piped into the cannelloni. I used leftover butternut squash soup and tomato purée as the sauce base and topped the casserole dish with a gentle sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It was absolutely gorgeous when it came out of the oven. No points for guessing that when this dish went into her lunchbox, the entire thing was eaten and she came home and asked if there were any leftovers! And she NORMALLY does not like eggplant!

RECIPE

1 pkg oven ready cannelloni

1 large Italian eggplant cubed

4 tomatoes finely chopped

1 big onion finely chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1/2 inch piece of ginger crushed

cooked white beans about 2 cups

garam masala 1 tsp

red pepper flakes 1 tsp

olive oil 2 T

Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup

mozzarella cheese 1/4 cup

marinara sauce 3 cups approx ( I used a mix of butternut squash soup and tomato puree)

salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 200C. In a saucepan, saute onions, ginger and garlic in olive oil on medium heat.  Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

2. Add eggplants and sprinkle some water. Cover and cook until tender about 8-10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

3. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft.

4. Stir in white beans. Season with garam masala. Add some water or vegetable stock and cook for about 5 minutes. Let the mix cool a bit before blending. Blend into a smooth paste with enough water or vegetable stock.

5. Add a layer of sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish. Pipe each cannelloni with the vegetable puree and layer them on top of the sauce in the casserole.

6. Cover the top of the cannelloni completely with marinara sauce.

7. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese and cover the casserole with tin foil. Bake covered for about 30 minutes or follow the directions on the cannelloni box.

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Red cabbage with coconut

Red Cabbage with coconut

Red Cabbage with coconut

Most stir fry vegetables (curry) in south India have few ingredients that just enhance the natural flavor of the vegetable. Red cabbage, though not easily found in India, is no exception.

2 T canola or sunflower oil
1 t mustard seeds
1 t split Urad dal
3 C red cabbage shredded finely
1 green chili chopped finely
curry leaves
2-3 t freshly grated coconut or dry unsweetened coconut

1. Heat oil over medium heat and season with mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add split urad dal and stir until it turns golden brown.
2. Add curry leaves and when it becomes fragrant (about 10 seconds), put in the green chilies and fry for 10 seconds. Add cabbage and salt and sauté for a few minutes until it is crisp tender; stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
3. Add 1/4 cup water and let cook for 6 to 8 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the cabbage is tender.
4. Add the shredded coconut and remove from heat.

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