May 24, 2010

Healthy Burger with Homemade Veggie Patty

Being a vegetarian in the US is like being a little fish in a zoo instead of an aquarium. Yes, you do get a good box to live in. Yes, you do get some fish food thrown at you. But you also see all the big meats thrown at the other animals all around you and sometime that's not what you want to look at.

Sorry, that was just a pathetic example. This is why I should never plan to become a writer. I'll just stick to my blog.

Anyways, in the majority of the restaurants here in the US, there are just a very few dishes on the menu that are made vegetarian. And fast food places especially the burger ones are even more so. Sometimes I hear other moms telling me that eating Mc Donalds on a regular basis really is not so healthy (Newsflash). And I don't even bother to tell them that I probably have taken my daughter twice in her life (that would be the last 5 yrs and a few months) to McD's and on those occasions, I got her some chocolate milk and maybe a cookie (those are good indeed).  And I got myself maybe a medium order of fries. Don't judge me now. At least I'm honest here.

We all do love the veggie patty at Subway's, the veggie burger at Counter's and a couple of other places that offer veggie burgers. But I want more. I need more. I'm needy.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands. Dangerous yes, but healthy, protein packed and filling too. Wanna see?

So, here are some moong sprouts sprouted in my own kitchen. This will be the main ingredient in today's burger recipe.

Chop all the other vegetables that you'd like to add to your burger. About 1/2 cup of each veggie to about 2 cups of moong sprouts would be a good propotion. Chop all the veggies into small pieces.

I used -
Onions, Bell Peppers, Carrots, Green Beans, 1 Potato and Corn - fresh or frozen. I used frozen corn - all the other veggies were fresh cut.
Ginger (1 inch piece) and Green chillies (about 3-4) - chopped fine

In a wide pan, add a tsp of oil. Add some cumin seeds and then add the chopped ginger and green chilli. Fry for a couple of mins.

Then, add the onions and bell peppers. Fry for a min. Don't overcook any veggies - these will be pattied up together and will soak in the sun inside the oven too.

Then add all the other chopped veggies and the moong sprouts.

Here's the fun part - I got a little creative here while adding the masalas. I added some garam masala and pav bhaji masala here and then about a tsp of sambar powder. LOL..that's the extent of my creativity. Add some salt to taste. Once the masalas are mixed together well, switch off and set the pan aside on the counter.

When the veggies have cooled down a little bit, move them to the food processor.

Pulse a few times until the veggies are mashed up a bit.

Move to a mixing bowl and then add some bread crumbs to the veggies. I toasted a couple of whole wheat bread slices and then crushed them into crumbs. Mix well and then take medium ball size of the veggie mix and roll into a ball and then flatten it.

Roast about 1 cup of sesame seeds to a light brown and place the seeds on a flat plate. Once you roll and flatten out the patty, just press it gently into the sesame seeds so that the patties get a nice coating of the seeds. Set them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Once all the patties are ready, freeze these for about 4-5 hours. That will help the patty set well. You could also just skip the whole freezing part and bake them immediately. In case you have made a lot of patties, you can freeze them to reuse later.

Then, bake them in a pre heated oven at 375 F for about 15-20 mins or until you see the seeds get a little bit more browner. And from the picture below you can see that I forgot to remove the parchment paper while baking. As soon as I put the pan in and took the picutures, I remembered - and then removed the baking sheet out and then transferred them to another sheet without the parchment paper. If not completely covered, the parchment paper will start heating up in the oven and you'll see white smoke. Not good for anything. So, please make sure you don't bake with the parchment paper.

You could also drizzle a few drops of oil directly on top of the patty if you want it a little bit more moist. They are soft even without the oil. So if you're feeling indulgent, add that oil. If its just the beginning of your big partying weekend, please skip that and go all out healthy.

Here they are - all done. You can't really see - but these are cooked good well. And they smell good too. And taste great even though its all healthy stuff! And can you believe that there are no added fats, butters or oils to the recipe - the entire batch uses probably about 1-2 tsp of oil. Now, that's calorie cutting I always welcome!

I made a quick burger with some lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Apply a thin coating of mayo if you like - I buy the fat free mayo and it works great.

I served my healthy home made veggie burger with baked sweet potato fries and some homemade mango salsa. Will blog about that mango salsa soon - you've all got to try it!

Now that's some fish food I'd like to eat in my own aquarium! What say you?

Enjoy. Peace out!

May 20, 2010

My Favorite Baby Spinach Salads

Yes..I do eat salads too, just in case you were wondering. And these are my favorites that I make quite often and they all use Baby Spinach. I usually buy a big box of organic baby spinach leaves from my grocers and make different variations of this on a daily basis. A little along with your everyday meal adds both variety and nutrition.

The first one here is a sprout and spinach and other veggies salad. I used our regular green moong daal. Wash well with water and leave in a mixing bowl with just a little water at the bottom and let it sit out covered with a lid in a corner of your kitchen for a couple of days. Take it out a couple of times, wash again and soak with fresh water. After a couple of days, you'll see these gorgeous sprouts everywhere! Sprouts offer a wide array of nutrition for our bodies. So, eat that chocolate cake and to compensate make sure you eat some sprouts with it too! Life is all about balance.

You will see a lot of the green skin come out while washing - just let it sit in there with the sprouts. That also has nutrition and that will help you make up for the donuts you had for breakfast last Sunday morning! And for the record, I did not have donuts ..its been a while now.  Just so you know.

Chop your favorite veggies to go along with the sprouts. I used fresh baby spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots. Take a big mixing bowl and just mix everything together well.

Then, add these things to your sprout salad. Some sea salt to taste, fresh ground black pepper. A little lemon juice for flavor and top off everything with raisins. That adds a little sweetness and a lot of zing to the salad. You'll love it!

Serve fresh. Its a complete and wholesome dish and makes a meal all by itself. But, I actually took this to a party where we also had a lot of pasta aka carbs. But, hey its party time.

These are my 2 other favorite salads.

Oran'ge you glad its Spinach? Salad

Baby Spinach leaves - fresh and washed well. If you have the regular big spinach leaves, just chop them into two.
Mandarin Oranges - about a couple of small oranges. I use the cuties oranges that we get here. These are really small and sweet and really cute to look at!
Red onion - chopped into small bits - about 1/4 cup
Sliced almonds - about 1/4 cup. You could carmelize these with 1/2 tsp of sugar and then add them in here. That little caramelizing crisps the almonds and kicks up the taste many notches!
1-2 tbsp of orange juice (optional) - I use this instead of adding a dressing to the salad. Lower in calories compared to a salad dressing. You can skip this and add any other dressing you'd like. Suggested dressing would be a low-fat italian dressing. Works well with the taste of mandarin oranges.

Just mix everything well and serve immediately.

Crunchy and Berry Good Salad

This salad again is a simple and easy salad. 

Baby Spinach leaves - a bunch
Fresh strawberries - about 4-5 sliced
Cucumbers - chopped - about 1/2 cup
Store bought baked low fat croutons - about 1/2 cup
Salad dressing - I add 1tsp of low fat Ranch and 1 tsp of low fat Italian

Mix everything well. Add sea salt to taste if needed. Add fresh ground black pepper. Serve immediately. You can also add chopped walnuts to this salad - tastes like the Gods came down from heaven with this salad!

Enjoy eating healthy. Eat healthy most of the time but do have your chocolate cake once in a while. Makes your soul feel good. These healthy foods feed your body - the chocolate feeds your soul.

Before I go, here's something I want to share with you guys. A lot of you are probably already fans of this new blog now - but for the others, here's a little intro on Meet My Kitchen Things.

This is a blog that was created by a very talented Nags of Edible Kitchen. She wanted to host a space that talks about all the instruments and gadgets widely used in kitchens around the world. These includes everything from Sporks and spoons to cookbooks to heavy duty stuff. If you haven't visited her space yet, do visit and leave your comments on there. If you are a blogger or not but would like to share what you cook with, please send her the information and she'll be glad to update the blog with your input ( I volunteer you whole- heartedly Nags!)

Enjoy! Peace out!

May 14, 2010

Bok Choy Stir Fry

All it takes for this awesome tasting dish is a few minutes of chop, fry and pour!

I make this anytime I make Chinese or even Thai food at home. This is a really quick and easy stir fry recipe. The original recipe is here at About dot come by Rhonda Parkinson. This is the very first recipe if you are trying to search for a bok choy stir fry recipe. And I don't think you need to search further. This is a great and simple recipe.  Thank you Rhonda for putting a great Bok Choy on my dining table many many times!

I did cut out the 1 1/2 tbsps of oil for frying from this recipe - really, I don't need more fat and love handles. Got enough already. And besides, the bok choy still tastes great without that oil. And also, I don't cover and cook a couple of mins - I'm sure that tastes great too - but I like mine with a bite to it and not completely cooked. You can try it both ways as you will be making this often too from now on. I just know it.

So - let's get on to some freshness below - here are 4 stalks of bok choy! Washed and ready to be executed. I almost feel sorry for them. Let me say a prayer.

You were an inspiration to all around you. May your soul rest in a mild flavored soy sauce and may you be enjoyed by all who savor you. Amen.

In a small bowl, add 2 tsp of soy sauce - that would be twice the picture below.

Add 1 tsp of brown sugar. (the recipe calls for just plain white sugar, but I like the flavor of brown sugar in my sauces)

Add 1/4 tsp of salt. Now if you are like me and bloat a few inches with every ounce of sodium in your asian meals, you can skip this as the soy sauce does have the sodium needed. But, I was just following the recipe you see. I'm going into hiding due to bloating the next couple of days. I'll just tell all I'm vacationing in Hawaii!

Add 1/4 cup of water to the rest of the ingredients.

In the recipe, the sesame oil is added at the end. But I just added 1 tsp of sesame oil in here. If you don't have sesame oil, you could just use your regular cooking oil - be it Olive or Canola or Veg oil.

Stir everything together well. Set aside.

In a wide pan, add about 1 tsp of your cooking oil. Throw in about 1 inch ginger piece chopped into small bits. Fry till you can smell the invigorating awesomeness of ginger. I would marry ginger if I could - love it that much!

Throw in the chopped bok choy to the pan and stir in with the ginger.

Add the sauce mix on top of the bok choy.

Cook for a couple of mins or until some of the water evaporates.

Serve hot immediately.

Enjoy. Peace out!

Before I go, I just have to share this with you guys. Coz...well..I just have to.

Here's what happened to me on Mother's Day! Bright and beautiful. Enough said.

Now I enjoy, And I peace out. You do too.

May 11, 2010

Mac n Cheese - Fresh n Tasty!

This is a quick version of Mac n cheese the whole family can enjoy! Its way better than the boxed version - and definitely without all the preservatives that come with the yellow powder.

This is made with fresh ingredients and that shows when you take a bite into it. Try this sometime and I'm positive you'll love it!

I made two versions of this - one's a classic, just mac and cheese. The other is a kicked up version - just the way I love my pasta - with lots of broccoli! Like I always say - congress should pass a law that pasta should always be served with broccoli  - its a match made in heaven and human race should not interfere with it. Go show your people power somewhere else. Not here.

Let's get on with the recipe.

I used a little seashell pasta for this dish. You could use the regular mac noodles or even farfalle or penne for this dish.

Take about 2 cups of pasta and add to boiling water with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 7-8 mins - make sure they are al dente and not too soft. We will be baking these again so they cook in the oven too. Its ok if they are a little underdone too.

Once they are done, wash the pasta with cold water in a colander. Set aside.

In a small saute pan, add 2 tbsps of regular unsalted butter. Melt over medium heat.

When the butter is all melted, add 1 tbsp all purpose flour to the butter and whisk together well so that there are no lumps in there.

Now add 1 cup of milk to the butter flour mixture. Mix well.

When the milk is heated up, add 1 cup of fresh cheese to the milk. I used a cheddar and jack cheese mix. You could use just sharp cheddar too for a strong flavor.

When all the cheese is melted and a thick sauce is formed, remove it from the heat and add it to the washed and drained pasta.

Whisk the sauce with the pasta well. I divided this whole batch of pasta into two portions so I could make both the versions.

Move the pasta to a baking dish. Top off with a little cheese.

Next step would be to top off the pasta with bread crumbs.

To make this, just toast a couple of slices of bread. And then grind it to a coarse powder. Then, fry it for a min in a saute pan.

Add the bread crumbs to the top of the pasta.

Cover the pasta completely with the crumbs.

And now for the kicked up grown up version. Blame my indian genes, but I like to spice up everything I eat. So, here's me adding some red chilli flakes. And some dried oregano and basil to the pasta. Just sprinkle as much as you'd like.

Add fresh broccoli to the pasta. This was what I was going to eat - so my broccoli is probably more than the pasta itself! I love broccoli that much! Mix well.

Add a little bit of cheese on top.

I covered the grown up version with wheat bread crumbs.

Move the baking dishes to a preheated oven at 350F. Bake for about 8-10 mins or until the top starts to get golden.

Like this. Remove from the oven. Serve immediately and bring a smile to the hungry souls waiting patiently around you and your oven!

Does that look good? Not too cheesy. Not too difficult. Fresh mac n cheese for all in the family!

Try it out sometime and let me know how you liked it.

Here's another obsession shot, of course.

I do have another version of mac n cheese that is much more detailed. Its got onions and eggs and what not in it. Will make it some other time and share with you guys. Until then...

Enjoy! Peace out!