Mediterranean Chickpea and eggplant

The Mediterranean diet focuses heavily on nuts, fish, fruits and vegetables resulting in lower inflammation and better heart health. When we visited Greece, we enjoyed the salads, vegetarian dishes and pan-seared aardines. Even the simple tomato just seemed a lot more delicious. This chickpea and eggplant dish aims to bring back those memories. It includes eggplant, known for its vitamins and antioxidants with chickpeas, which keep you full longer because it’s full of fiber. The combination of those two in a simple tomato sauce is luscious and hearty.

Servings: 4

Time to cook including prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups eggplant (1 large), chopped into chunks
  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 Cups chick peas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped

Method

  • In a large frying pan, heat oil
  • Add onions and fry until translucent
  • Turn flame to medium heat
  • Add garlic and fry for a minute
  • Turn heat to low
  • Add in the chili powder, nutmeg powder, pepper powder, cumin powder. Give it a stir
  • Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce and eggplant. Cover the pan and on low flame, cook till eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes
  • Add in the chickpeas. Sprinkle salt and stir gently. Cook another minute.
  • Sprinkle the parsley and turn off the stove
  • Serve with a side of couscous or a salad

Healthy Almond, Peanut-butter Chocolate Bars

A no-bake, vegan and gluten-free snack that is full of protein, and healthy fat. Have one of these as a snack, for breakfast, after a workout , or when you are on the run.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup plant-based vanilla protein powder (I use Orgain)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or Agave or honey)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips ( or regular chocolate, if you don’t need a vegan recipe)

Method

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the peanut butter, almond flour, protein powder, and maple syrup, until well blended
  2. Line a 8×8 glass bowl with parchment paper
  3. Pour the mix into a glass container, spreading it evenly
  4. In a microwaveable bowl, mix in the chocolate chips and coconut oil, and melt in 10 second increments, till fully melted – about 30 seconds
  5. Pour the melted chocolate over the mix spreading evenly
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours to set before cutting into cubes / bars to serve

Salmon with  Tamarind- Mushroom- Red Pepper Sauce

This aromatic, sweet and tangy sauce complements salmon. Not only is it a healthy, quick and easy dinner option, it is an elegant  meal for when you have company.

Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb skin-on, boneless salmon filet
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • 1 large red pepper, diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 large red pepper, cut into thin red strips
  • 2 stems green onions, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp garlic, diced fine
  • 2 tbsp size chunks of seedless tamarind (see method below)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • For the fish before grilling or pan frying
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (2 tbsp if frying)

Method

  1. To make tamarind, soya and fish sauce mix:
    • Take a large marble sized piece of seedless tamarind
    • Put tamarind into a microwave safe bowl and add in 1/4 cup warm water. Heat for a minute in the microwave. Rest for 2 minutes. Then mash the pulp with the back of a spoon, forcing it through a strainer . Scrape off the paste that is on the underside of the strainer. Discard the solids left in the strainer
    • To the tamarind mix in the bowl, add fish sauce, soya sauce, sugar and blend well till sugar dissolves
  2. For the mushroom – red pepper sauce
    • Dice mushrooms and red pepper into small pieces
    • In a wok, heat oil
    • When hot, add in the garlic, stir fry for 30 seconds and add in the ginger
    • Stir fry for 30 seconds
    • Add in the mushrooms and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the water from the mushrooms dry out
    • Add in the tamarind, fish sauce mix and stir fry for 1 minute
    • Add in the green onions, and diced red pepper and stir fry for another minute
    • Remove from heat and set aside
  3. Fish
    • To cook in Ninja Foodi: 
      • Place water into Ninja Foodi pot. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides, no oil, on rack, making sure the rack is in the higher position.
      • Assemble pressure lead, making sure the pressure release valve is in the SEAL position
      • Select PRESSURE and set to HIGH. Set time to 2 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin
      • When pressure cooking is complete, quick release the pressure by moving the pressure cooker valve to the VENT position. Carefully remove lid when pressure is released
      • Gently pat salmon dry with paper towel, then close with crisping lid
      • Select BROIL and set time to 7 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin, check for doneness after 5 minutes
    • To grill on a regular grill:
      • While the sauce is cooking, marinate the fish with oil, salt and pepper. Rub mixture on both sides of fish. Heat grill to 450 degree F. When hot, grill the salmon skin side down over direct heat with the lid closed, for about 4-5 minutes and then turn the salmon over, close the lid and another 4-5 minutes
    • To pan fry:
      • Rub salt on both sides of the fish. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add fish, skin side down and fry for about 4 minutes on each side
  4. Serving
    • Serve fish while hot, with the Mushroom-Red Pepper sauce spooned over it, garnished with red pepper slivers and cilantro. It can be accompanied by vegetables like bok choi or broccoli as well as steamed rice

Thai yellow curry

This mild, yet complex Thai curry impresses with its pleasant and interesting flavors.

When we have guests, Thai or Mexican dishes are usually our go-to. Quick, flavorful, and enjoyed by most, it’s definitely faster to pull together than Indian food. When we do make Thai dishes, curries take center-stage and this yellow curry, is a mildly spicy delicious alternative to the ubiquitous red curry.

This curry can be made in advance, I prefer to, as I find it tastes even better. It has lots of sauce and can be re-heated very easily.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional if vegan, see note)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can Thai yellow curry paste or the paste made with this recipe
  • 3 kefir lime leaves
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce (alternatively, 3 tbsp lime juice if vegan)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 1 medium sized Chinese eggplant, cut into thin long slices
  • 3 tbsp green peas
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large red potato (or white) cut into small cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 red pepper strips, cut into thin strips for garnish
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Method

  • Slice chicken breast into thin, long slices ( 3 inch long, 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick)
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok
  • Add in the onion, and stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add in the yellow curry paste and stir fry for 1 minute
  • Add in the potato cubes and stir fry on low flame for 2 minutes
  • Add in half the can of the coconut milk, stir to dissolve the paste in the coconut milk and bring to a boil
  • Add the remaining cup of coconut milk, raise the heat to medium and let it cook for 10 minutes. You will start to see the oil from the coconut milk raise to the top
  • Tear the lime leaves to halves and add to the sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes, the sauce will thicken
  • Add chicken and egg plant into the sauce, turn heat to maximum, cook for a minute
  • Add 1/2 cup water and let the curry boil for a minute
  • Add fish sauce and sugar and turn heat to medium. Stir for 2 minutes
  • Add in bamboo shoots, red pepper strips and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add in the peas and 3/4 of the chopped cilantro
  • Stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Serve hot, topped with remaining cilantro leaves and a few red pepper strips with a side of rice

Peach Cobbler Dump Cake

This is one of the easiest desserts you can make and I guarantee, it will be a hit. This super-simple, 4-ingredient peach cobbler is always polished off at parties. So much so, I’ve not been able to take a good picture of it, it’s usually gone before I get to a picture. 

The work involves taking the ingredients and dumping it into a container and then baking or slow cooking it. Viola, dessert is ready!! I hope you find it wonderful too.

The difference between a cobbler and a dump cake is that the latter uses cake mix while the cobbler uses pie crust.

Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook times vary based on method below

Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 2 (15oz each) cans sliced peaches in pear juice (I avoid the ones in syrup)
  • 1 (15.25oz) yellow cake mix package
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon powder

Method

  • Slow cooker method
    • Empty cans of peaches including the juice into the bottom of the slow cooker container
    • Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the peaches
    • Sprinkle the cinnamon powder evenly over the dry cake mix
    • Pour butter evenly over the cake/cinnamon mix
    • Layer paper towels over the rim of the slow cooker so it absorbs the steam. You may need to change the paper towel
    • Then cover and cook on high for 2 hours or 4 hours on low
    • Serve warm with a big dollop of icecream
  • Oven method
    • Pre-heat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Empty cans of peaches including the juice into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish
    • Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the peaches
    • Sprinkle the cinnamon powder evenly  over the dry cake mix
    • Pour butter evenly over the cake/cinnamon mix
    • Place dish in oven
    • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cobbler is golden on the top
    • Serve warm with a big dollop of icecream

Jaya’s caramel sauce

Easy instructions for a clean-ingredient, simple yet finger-licking made-at-home caramel sauce.

I have fond memories of my classmate Jaya – two braids with blue-ribbons – the school-house color. She was simple, beautiful and fun-loving. It’s been decades since we met but thanks to Facebook, it’s wonderful to watch how our lives have panned out. She now lives in Singapore and is always rustling up these delicious looking dishes for her family. When she posted this clean, corn syrup free, simple caramel sauce, I had to give it a try. I will never buy caramel sauce again…. P.s. my kids licked the bowl clean!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup half and half milk
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  • In a small thick bottomed vessel, mix all the ingredients together
  • Bring to a boil
  • Turn off stove, cool and store in an air-tight jar
  • Serve at room temperature over ice-crean, drizzle it over desserts or just steal a teaspoon full and lick it clean! Yum!!


Thai yellow curry paste

Made from scratch, this recipe beats canned curry pastes. When time is not of the essence, prepare this paste and then make a delicious Thai curry. Serve it over rice and then enjoy the afternoon siesta!

Ingredients:

  • 14 dried thai chilis
  • 2 tbsp fresh turmeric root, grated (or 2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 tbsp galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro stems
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 kefir lime leaves or 1 tsp grated lime
  • 6 large garlic cloves, diced fined
  • 4 small shallots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, bottom half only, chopped
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste, omit if vegetarian
  • 1 tsp oil, set aside for later

Method:

  • With a mortar and pestle or in a blender, mix all the ingredients (except oil)together. Grind until you have a smooth paste
  • In a frying pan, heat the oil and on low flame , slowly cook the paste for about 3 minutes
  • Use to make a Thai yellow curry

Tropical Mango Boba Smoothie

Transport yourself to the tropics with a sweet, refreshing mango pineapple smoothie served over chewy boba pearls.

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan, a concoction of tea with chewy tapioca balls i.e. Boba. Over the last couple of years, we have seen a rise in Boba cafes offering boba tea and boba smoothies. My kids LOVE it and a smoothie with tapioca balls is just the thing that has them smiling from ear to ear. Anyone else find that food is usually the one thing that can put a grumpy teen into a good mood??

And here’s an idea: we did a Boba-themed birthday party and it was a hit with the tween/teen crowd….see pic below. You can make other smoothies and drop in the boba.

A lot of grocery stores now carry tapioca balls and of the ones I’ve tried, the one I like the most is WuFuYuan -tapioca pearls. (It is usually cheaper in an Asian store than Amazon). The pearls from this brand consistently turn out like the cafe-bought boba and the kids like the flavor.

Servings: 4 Total time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup boba (see note below in cooking boba)
  • 2 cups unsweetened mango pulp (usually available in the Indian grocery store much cheaper!)
  • 2 cups of pineapple chunks
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 10 ice cubes

Method

  • Cooking Boba
    • Follow the instructions that come with the dry tapioca pearls (the ones I buy require me to cook the pearls in boiling water for 3 minutes, switch off flame, cover and leave for 3 minutes, then drain water and soak the cooked boba in cold water till ready to use. If your boba comes unflavored, after cooking soak it in a combination of honey and water to sweeten it)
  • Making the smoothie
    • Combine mango pulp, pineapple chunks, coconut milk and ice cubes in a blender and blend until smooth
  • To serve, drop in 3 spoons of boba (drain off the water) into the bottom of a glass and then pour the smoothie over it. Use a wide straw to slurp up the boba along with the smoothie
  • Enjoy!!









Vino Dosh – The Portuguese version of Pork Vindaloo

One of my favorite dishes – hot and spicy Vindaloo is a Goan dish that my mom made for parties, a special Sunday meal or festivals. The original Portuguese version is anything but spicy but nevertheless this “meat in garlic marinade” packs a punch of flavor. The longer it marinates, the better it tastes. Make this in the Ninja Foodi, Instant Pot or in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • Prior to cooking – 3-4 days ahead
    • 3 pounds pork shoulder (boneless) – chopped into 1.5-inch cubes
    • 10 cloves of garlic – peeled and minced fine
    • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 10 whole cloves
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp red chili flakes
    • 2 tbsp black pepper powder
    • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • When ready to cook:
    • 1 large onion chopped into quarters
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Prepare the marinade:
    1. In a bowl, whisk the red wine vinegar, red wine, garlic, cloves, bay leaves, chili flakes, black pepper, and thyme
    2. Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag
    3. Add the pork to the bag, massage the marinade into the pork, squeeze out the excess air and seal the bag
    4. Marinate in the fridge for 3-4 days, turning occasionally. Each time, massage the pork gently in the bag
  2. Ready to cook – in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
    1. Press the sauté button and add in the olive oil
    2. When oil is hot, add the onion and the pork (minus the marinade) and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, browning the meat on all sides
    3. Add the marinade, close using the pressure cooker
    4. Secure the pressure cooker valve, select the pressure cooker option and cook for 25 minutes on high pressure
    5. Naturally release the pressure
    6. Open the lid, and select the sauté button
    7. Stir in the all purpose flour, slowly to avoid lumps
    8. Cook for 5-8 minutes until it thickens to a stew-like consistency
    9. Serve with Hawaiian bread
  3. Ready to cook – in the oven:
    1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F
    2. In a Dutch pan, heat the oil
    3. Add onion and pork pieces (minus marinade) and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, browning the meat on all sides
    4. Add the marinade and bring to a simmer
    5. Add in the flour, slowly, stirring to avoid lumps
    6. Cover with oven-safe lid and put the dish in the oven
    7. Cook for 1.5 hours – the meat should be tender to a fork
    8. Remove from oven, remove the bay leaves and thyme springs and discard
    9. Serve with Hawaiian bread

Chipotle Black Beans

To soak or not to soak? The kids want to take burritos to school and I don’t have time to soak beans. Sure I can make it without beans but beans add a lot more protein and nutrition. What to do? A no-soak option gives me delicious, smoky beans within an hour.

The options below include the method if you did soak your beans overnight.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp crushed chipotle pepper with sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, for garnish
  • Optional garnish: red onions, avocado

Method

  • Wash the beans and remove any debris
  • Put beans and 2 cups water in a pressure cooker-safe container and pressure cook on high for 30 mins and slow release for 15 minutes
  • If you did soak your beans for atleast 6 hours, pressure cook beans for 15 minutes
  • Garnish with cilantro