Tag Archives: Recipes

Five Easy, Healthy, Flavorful Indian Recipes

My dad is an amazing cook. We go there for dinner almost every week, mainly because it’s fun to hang out with my dad but also because I get to eat his gourmet meals. The thing with Indian cooking is it can go one of two ways:

  1. Really tasty, but super oily and full of fat (curries are made with butter, ghee, oil, cream, etc.) or
  2. Really tasty, with inventive ingredients and substituting spices for the oil – making it healthy and flavorful

The dinners I grew up with at home were more like option #2 above. My dad can make a “sabji” or “bhaji” (vegetable Indian dish) out of pretty much any veggie. It’s awesome. We have “Butternut Squash” sabji, “Collard Greens” sabji, “Beets and Beet Greens” sabji–the list goes on and on. It’s a great way to add a twist on a regular vegetable dish, and it’s not something you’d traditionally get in Indian Cooking. So these recipes are straight from my dad, and represent what I think is Indian Home Cooking at it’s best: easy to prepare, really nutritious and good for you, but so flavorful you keep going back for seconds, and thirds, and fourths… you get the picture.

Here are five easy and healthy Indian recipes, straight from my dad’s kitchen:

Moong and Toor Daal, Beans and Carrots Sabji, Whole Moong Daal, Zucchini Sabji, and Spelt Rotis (yes – that’s right – spelt!). The only note on these recipes is my dad’s “measurements” are super old-school — in that, there aren’t any. What I’ve found works well is to just play around with the spices and taste as you go. The recipes are really easy so you can’t totally mess them up.

Recipe #1 Moong and Toor Daal

The ingredients: 1 Tbsp EVOO, 1/4 cup Moong and 1/4 cup Toor Daal, equal parts Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds and Turmeric; a pinch of Hing (asafetida), a pinch of Cayenne pepper, Salt & Brown sugar (gud) to taste, 3-4 pieces Dried kokam fruit (you can get this at the Indian store, or try dried sour plums), Cilantro

The directions: Cook the daal in the pressure cooker. Once the daal is done, fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric and hing in 1 Tbsp EVOO. Put the spice mixture into the daal and stir until combined. Add the cayenne, salt, brown sugar and kokam fruit and heat through. Sprinkle cilantro in at the end

Recipe #2: Blue Lake Beans & Carrot Sabji

The ingredients: 1 Tbsp EVOO, 1 pound of Blue Lake Beans chopped, 1 Carrot chopped, equal parts Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds and Hing (asafoetida); Turmeric, pinch of Cayenne pepper, 1/8 cup Urad dal, Salt & Brown sugar (gud) to taste, Masala (curry powder), Cilantro

The directions: Fry the spices (mustard seeds, cumin, hing, turmeric, urad daal) over medium heat in 1 Tbsp EVOO for about 1 minute. Add the vegetables and stir until combined. Cook, covered for 10-15 min until the vegetables are cooked through and the spices have been fully absorbed. Stir in cayenne, salt, brown sugar, and masala. Top with Cilantro and serve.

Recipe #3: Whole Moong Daal

The ingredients: 1 Tbsp EVOO, 1/2 cup Whole Moong Daal, equal parts Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds & Hing (asafetida); Turmeric, pinch of Cayenne pepper, Salt, Masala (Curry Powder) & Brown sugar (gud) to taste, 3-4 pieces Dried kokam fruit (you can get this at the Indian store, or try dried sour plums), Cilantro

The directions: Cook the daal in the pressure cooker. Once the daal is done, fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric and hing in 1 Tbsp EVOO. Put the spice mixture into the daal and stir until combined. Add the cayenne, salt, masala, brown sugar and kokam fruit and heat through. Sprinkle cilantro in at the end

Recipe #4: Zucchini Sabji

The ingredients: 6-8 Zucchini chopped, 1 Carrot chopped, equal parts Mustard seed, Cumin seeds & Hing (asafoetida), Turmeric, 1 Serrano pepper cut in half, Salt & Coriander powder to taste, Cilantro

The directions: Fry the spices & serrano pepper over medium heat in 1 Tbsp EVOO for about 1 minute. Add the vegetables and stir until combined. Cook, covered for 10-15 min until the vegetables are cooked through and the spices have been fully absorbed. Stir in salt. Top with Cilantro and serve.

Recipe #5: Spelt Rotis/Chapatis

The ingredients: 5 parts Spelt flour to 1 part Quinoa flour, Water (enough to form into a sticky dough – about 1/3 of the amount of dough) very small quantity of EVOO

The directions: Combine all ingredients to make the roti dough.  If you have a gas stove, hold the roti/chapati over a medium flame and it will puff up immediately. Turn quickly to flame-bake the other side. Do this several times, taking care that the edges are well cooked. Otherwise you can preheat a cast-iron tawa over medium heat. Place the rolled dough on the palm of one hand and flip it over on to the tawa. When the color changes on the top and bubbles appear, turn it over. When both sides are done, use kitchen tongs (chimta) to remove the roti from the skillet.

These rotis are soft and fluffy – you’d never guess that it’s unleavened bread. When I was growing up, it was common for us to have four out of five of these dishes for dinner: 2 sabjis, one daal and the rotis. This is completely my version of comfort food: warming, nutritious, delicious, and filled with nostalgic memories of dinners at home.


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Guilt-free Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

As many of you know (and as you can probably tell from my recipes, I’m not really a baker. But this past weekend, while I was feeling a bit sluggish and gloomy – partly because of the weather, but mainly because I was sick – I decided to make some fun treats that would make me feel better. I was also inspired by a friend’s comment about making “healthier” desserts, so I started looking for more guilt-free versions of desserts we all love. And I came across a great recipe from Hungry Girl for guilt-free chocolate cupcakes, and decided to give it a shot.

Now, in general – I’m not a fan of processed ingredients, fake sugars, ingredients I can’t pronounce, etc. But I figured I’d follow Hungry Girl’s suggestions for this recipe and see how it turned out. Once in a while – a slightly processed but lower calorie dessert is probably not the worst thing in the world – especially if it comes in the form of a cupcake. That would be my only disclaimer in this recipe – that it’s not really an all-natural cupcake. But – disclaimers aside, it tasted AMAZING. Just like any other cupcake I’d get at a bakery! And it was really easy to make. AND the best part – each large cupcake is only ~120 calories! (More notes on how the low calorie-goodness is achieved later in the recipe).

First – The Ingredients

You can find the ingredients list here. Also – this recipe is being featured in a link party at Sweet as Sugar Cookies! Yay!

The Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a tall glass, combine cocoa mix with 2 oz. hot water. Stir until cocoa dissolves. Add 6 oz. cold water and stir well. Set aside.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, egg substitute, sweetener, and salt. Add the hot cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth.

The mixture might be slightly thinner than your normal cupcake batter – but don’t worry – it’s supposed to be that way.

Look at all that chocolatey goodness 🙂 Ok on to Step 3: Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute cake mixture among the cups.

Step 4: Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes (mine took about 18 min), until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

I loved how much the cupcakes rose – they looked so cute while they were cooling.

Step 5: To make the glaze, put marshmallow creme in a small dish. Add soymilk and mix well. I had to use a small whisk to get the glaze mixed properly because the marshmallow creme is really sticky.

Step 6: Once cupcakes have cooled completely, drizzle marshmallow glaze over them. Top each cupcake with 1/4 tsp. chocolate chips and 1 mini marshmallow. (Note – I used probably a 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp chocolate chips and no mini marshmallow)

How delicious do those cupcakes look?? And the best part is, each cupcake only has ~120 calories, 13g sugar, and 2g fat. My husband couldn’t even tell the difference between this cupcake and any other cupcake – and to tell you the truth, neither could I. This was an amazing guilt-free dessert.

Decorating the cupcakes was pretty fun too. And now the million dollar question: what makes Hungry Girl’s recipe so low in calories and guilt free? My guess is that – there are a few secrets:

  1. There’s no added oil in the recipe
  2. The added sweetness is mainly from the 25 calorie hot chocolate and the 1 Tbsp of sugar – which is only 45 calories (so a total of 70 calories in the ENTIRE recipe)
  3. The normal 1-2 eggs you add to prepared cake mix is replaced with egg substitute – which is mainly egg whites and …
  4. You don’t even use all the cake mix!

Pretty ingenious – I have to give Hungry Girl credit for making such a delicious and guilt-free cupcake – thanks Hungry Girl!

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the cupcakes – I was proud to have one of my first successes as a baker! Meanwhile, my husband devoured the cupcake below right after I took a picture of it. Yum!


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The Peanut Butter Sandwich: Reinvented

Who said that peanut butter sandwiches had to be 1) boring 2) just for kids and 3) the same every time? I’m a huge fan of PB&J, probably because I had it almost every day when I was a kid and eating it for lunch has some element of nostalgia for me. And even though I can be a creature of habit a lot of the time, the same three ingredients (which for me are: sprouted wheat bread, almond or peanut butter, and blueberry preserves), can get a tiny bit monotonous. Then I heard about this PB&J sandwich shop in Portland that makes the coolest PB&J sandwiches, and I was inspired to get creative with one of my childhood favorites. So here goes – the peanut butter sandwich: reinvented!

The Ingredients

These were the ingredients I used, but you can obviously experiment with your own. My list included: Sprouted wheat bread, walnuts, sliced bananas, cinnamon, a mix of almond and peanut butter, and honey.

The Directions

Step 1: Spread the peanut & almond butter mixture on both slices of bread, and top one half with sliced bananas

Step 2: Chop 3-4 walnuts, and add on top of the banana slices along with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey

Doesn’t that just make you want to take a big bite out of that sandwich? I couldn’t resist taking more than one picture of it.

Step 3: Top with the other slice of bread (that already has peanut/almond butter spread on it), and put into the panini press (or grill in a pan if you don’t have a panini press)

At this time, the nut butters, banana and honey are getting all melty and gooey…

Step 4: Once the top has browned and is slightly crispy, remove from panini press and let cool for 1-2 min.

I love the grill marks!

Step 5: Cut sandwich in half (I always like cutting on the diagonal because I think it looks more fun)

Eat and enjoy!


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Healthy & flavorful pesto (with rotini, parmesan, spinach and pine nuts!)

Hi Everyone!! I’m back from my trip to New Zealand and this is my first post in the new year 🙂 So first of all, happy new year to all of you – I hope you had a great holiday! As for me – my trip to New Zealand was absolutely amazing – probably one of the coolest vacations I’ve ever taken in my life! Later this week I’ll be sharing pictures of all the great FOOD we ate during our vacation, along with some fun stories about the adventures we had (one of which was a 400 ft bungy jump into a canyon which each of us did individually!)

But first – I’d like to share this recipe for an awesome, flavorful, healthy pesto that I made for dinner tonight and tossed with rotini, spinach, parmesan and pine nuts (note – next time I’ll be adding in diced tomatoes for some extra texture and flavor as well!) The reason I was so excited to try this recipe is that pesto is one of my favorite things to eat – but it’s always loaded with tons of fat and calories (coming from oil, cheese and nuts). And while those are all good fats (and you should definitely be eating those ingredients) – the amount used in restaurant pestos is really excessive and ends up with 1000 calories in your pasta dish!

The other reason I was excited is that most “healthy” pesto recipes don’t taste very good… or are super complicated to make so almost aren’t worth the time. But then I found this great recipe from Hungry Girl for a pesto recipe that’s actually really tasty and super easy to make! The recipe with my notes are below, and you can find the original here. Thanks Hungry Girl!


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese (I might have used a bit more than 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping (I actually used freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The grated topping thing weirds me out because it’s usually full of processed ingredients)
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1 tsp. olive oil (I used EVOO)
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic (I just used 2 cloves of garlic – might be more than 1 tsp but gave it great flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper, or more to taste
  • Frozen Spinach
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (to top your pasta dish)
  • Whole wheat rotini pasta (or any whole wheat pasta you like!)
  • Pasta water (save about 1-2 ladle-fulls after cooking the pasta – it helps to make the sauce even creamier!)
  • Note: The Hungry Girl recipe suggests you use this pesto with Tofu Shirataki Noodles to save calories. I personally love pasta and I think eating whole wheat pasta is a good enough substitution (plus the Tofu Noodles thing kind of weirds me out a bit too haha). So I’d recommend eating this pesto with whole wheat pasta – but feel free to try the Tofu Noodles if you like!


  1. To make the pesto sauce, put all ingredients (basil through black pepper in the list above) into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserve 1-2 ladle fulls of pasta water to mix with the sauce.
  3. In a large pan, heated over medium heat, defrost the frozen spinach for 2-3 min. Add in the cooked pasta and pesto sauce, stir until blended. Add the pasta water a little at a time until you like the consistency and taste.
  4. Serve topped with 1-2 tsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a small sprinkling of pine nuts!

Nutritional Information: According to Hungry Girl, this portion of pesto + 2 packages of Tofu Shirataki Noodles is about 180 calories. The Tofu Noodles have 40 calories per package, so I’d estimate that this recipe for pesto is about 100 calories – which is great!!


Here is what the pesto looked like when it was almost done…

The frozen chopped spinach I used (I love that it’s organic!)

The ingredients all combined and almost ready to eat…

Dinner is served!


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Amazing Cherry, Almond Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies!

So, ok, technically cookies aren’t healthy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t eat them! As most of you know – my philosophy is: everything in moderation. So one or two amazing freshly baked cookies once in a while (especially during the holidays) is totally warranted! Life isn’t about deprivation – it’s about enjoying real, whole foods and delicious treats on occasion 🙂 And for me – I will totally indulge in sweet treats – but I just try to pick things that are made with real butter and real sugar and doesn’t have any weird ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Which makes homemade goodies some of my favorite desserts to enjoy!

When my friend brought over these cookies, I thought they were freaking amazing. And even better with a tall glass of milk! So I had to share the recipe with all of you. The recipe comes from Epicurious, and I love all the variety in the ingredients! Here’s how they turned out…

How good does THAT look?? I couldn’t decide which lighting I liked better so I put both pictures in haha. I love how the cookies are so chunky and delicious – every bite has a surprise in it!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

And for the directions, just go to the recipe on Epicurious. I think I’m going to whip up a batch of these and take them to my next holiday party over the weekend! What are your favorite cookie recipes?? I’d love to hear from you!


And if you’re looking for amazing gluten-free chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, be sure to enter my giveaway here!


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Book Club and Dinner: Spicy Samosa Wraps!

Last night, we had our monthly non-fiction book club meeting, something we started almost a year ago with a few of our friends. This month, our selection was Zeitoun – a truly amazing story about one man’s experience after Hurricane Katrina.

The story is both unbelievable and incredibly engaging, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet! Our whole book club loved it 🙂 So last night, it was our turn to host – so I decided to make Samosa Wraps – a recipe I found on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. After a few modifications to the dish, the wraps turned out great and were a big hit with our book club friends. My modified recipe is below – and you can find the original here. Thanks Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for a great recipe!


  • 1 pound (450 g) red or gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 14 ounces (390 g) extra-firm tofu, frozen for 24 hours and thawed (I actually just used regular firm tofu and crumbled it – worked out great)
  • 1 medium onion, minced (I used red onion)
  • 1 cup (236 ml) frozen green peas
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (I used 2 tomatoes because I love the flavor!)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 – 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced (I used 1 pepper for more spice)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water (I only used 1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (I probably ended up using closer to 3-4 tsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (I used about 3/4-1 tsp)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste) (I used 1/4 tsp, maybe a bit more)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I definitely added a few more splashes of lemon juice at the end to add additional flavor to the dish)
  • 6 whole-grain tortillas (may use gluten-free) (We used Naan and Tortillas from Trader Joe’s)
  • Roasted cashews, chopped – I added this to give the dish a bit more texture
  • Mango ginger chutney (or any sweet/spicy chutney) – Trader Joe’s has a great mango ginger chutney which I would highly recommend using as a side to this dish!

Here are the ingredients I used (well most of them anyway 🙂 )


  1. Cook the potatoes, unpeeled, in boiling water until they’re tender (pierce easily with a fork). Remove from water and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (6mm).
  2. Squeeze tofu to remove as much water as possible. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes.
  3. Heat a deep non-stick skillet and add the onion. Cook on medium-high until onion begins to brown. Add peas, tomato, ginger, jalapeno pepper, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring, until peas thaw.
  4. Add potatoes and tofu to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, salt, curry powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Remove cover and cook until most liquid has evaporated. Check to see if more salt or lemon is needed. (I needed to simmer it for about 20 min for the potatoes to cook all the way through)
  5. Warm tortillas or naan according package directions. Place 1/6 of filling in center of wrap, top with cashews. Fold bottom edge up, and fold sides over filling. Serve with mango chutney (or any other chutney you like!)

Nutritional Information: 1/6 of the filling + 1, 8 inch whole wheat tortilla = ~270 calories, 5g fiber, and ~12g protein

Here are the veggies prepped and ready to go…

The filling is almost ready!

The naans are ready to be rolled…

And dinner is served!


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The Best Vegetarian Chili EVER!

Historically, my husband has always been a bit skeptical of vegetarian chilis. I think this is because he used to eat meat (he turned veggie at age 15) and probably never got used to the non-meat flavor in veggie chili. (I could probably ask him why he didn’t like it but it’s more fun for me to speculate on this blog hehe). Anyway – I recently came across a really flavorful veggie chili recipe on Kath Eats and convinced my husband to try it. It was a total SUCCESS! He LOVED the chili so much he went back for seconds 🙂 I made a few modifications to Kath’s recipe – but overall stayed pretty true to it because it was so good! Thanks Kath for a great recipe!


  • 1 can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Navy (or pinto) beans, drained and rinsed (I used pinto beans because I like them better)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen okra (I actually omitted this, and substituted 1 cup of chopped red pepper)
  • 1/2 cup frozen lima beans (or canned) (I omitted this too, and substituted 1/2 cup chopped red onion)
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth) To keep it veggie friendly, I used veggie broth of course 🙂
  • 3 garlic cloves (I probably used closer to 4-5 to up the flavor)
  • 1 heaping tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp Ghirardelli cocoa powder (unsweet) (This is totally the secret ingredient in the recipe! Makes the chili super smoky and gives it a wonderful flavor!)
  • 2 sprinkles garlic powder (This ended up being about 1/2 tsp for me)
  • 1 sprinkle cayenne pepper (This ended up being a little less than 1/4 tsp for me)
  • 3-4 glugs Worcestershire sauce (Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it, so I actually used soy sauce as a substitute and it worked great!)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper


  1. Chop the garlic, onion, and red pepper. Saute lightly over medium high heat in 1-2 tsp olive oil
  2. Add everything else into the pot! Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 min or longer as needed
  4. Top with cheese, sour cream, and serve with tortilla chips!


This makes 12 ladles of soup. Each ladle has ~135 calories; 8g protein; 8g fiber! Talk about a nutritional powerhouse in a one pot dish!

Pictures of the Ingredients I used…

The chili is almost done cooking…

Dinner is served!

Now topped with the cheese for the final touch – yummyyy 🙂

This chili really was the best veggie version both me and my husband have ever had. It had a great smoky quality about it, was super hearty with all the beans and veggies, and was amazingly easy to make! Thanks again Kath, you saved Sunday night dinner for me! 🙂


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