Tag Archives: healthy

Tilapia Tacos with Avocado, Mango & Arugula

13 Aug

Tilapia Tacos with Mango and Avocado

Loving to cook and spending hours by a stove-top on a hot summer night do not necessarily go hand in hand.  While I like to limit my time in the kitchen on a really hot night, it never comes at the cost of a wholesome and appetizing meal.  The abundance of fresh seafood and superb summer produce are the perfect inspiration and ingredients for light, uncomplicated and exceptionally flavorful meals.

I recently came across Giada De Laurentiis’s Tilapia Fish Tacos with Arugula recipe and instantly feel in love with it. Giada’s recipe is an uncomplicated appetizer served up in wonton cups with a wasabi scented crème fraîche topping. I adapted her recipe to create a nifty summer night dinner that despite being economical and accessible is sophisticated and wholesome. Flakey Tilapia is flanked with sweet mango, creamy avocado, peppery arugula and a gently spicy Sirarcha kissed sour-cream topping.  Each of these delicious parts come together to create a nutritious taco that’s ideal for a hot summer night.  Continue reading

Bacon & Chive Yogurt Dip

1 Aug

Bacon and Chive Yogurt DipI recently ate a scrumptious but rather unhealthy Roasted Garlic and Bacon Dip. The base of this dip was mayonnaise and hence the fat content was off the charts. My father recommended that I test making something similar with hung yogurt.

Yogurt dips are a wonderful light and figure-friendly appetizer for the warmer summer months. Since yogurt is so versatile there’s a multitude of yogurt dip recipes available. Despite yogurt being the common denominator you can always find a way to switch things up by playing around with the additional flavor elements.

This recipe eliminates the mayonnaise to reduce an overabundance of fat. I also use a lower fat cut of bacon. The bacon specks running Bacon & Chive Dipthroughout the dip provide a fantastic smokiness and textural crunch. The chives add an aromatic and visual brightness that’s imperative in any brilliant summer appetizer. I use just a hint of roasted garlic to let the main stars of this yogurt dip – the bacon and the chives shine bright.  Continue reading

Asparagus & Couscous Salad

7 May

Asparagus & Couscous Salad

About a month ago a few of us got together to picnic and enjoy the Cherry Blossoms in DC. When a bunch of foodies and girls who love cooking get together we end up with a surfeit of delectable treats that are often even figure friendly. The cherry blossoms were not even in full bloom but the spread at our picnic more than made up for Mother Nature’s shortcomings!

I was especially mesmerized by my friend Alisha’s Couscous Salad as she managed to breathe new life into a dull and often flat tasting dish with fresh and bright flavors. Her tricks included cooking the couscous in chicken broth instead of water and adding a distinct aroma and tang with generous amounts of fresh dill. Asparagus, Couscous Salad

Alisha’s Couscous Salad is the inspiration behind this recipe. I marry tastes and tips from her recipe with my love for adding asparagus to everything this time of the year. This salad comes together in minutes and highlights the season’s best ingredients in a light, healthy and extremely satisfying dish! Continue reading

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

8 Feb

IMG_2487My Facebook news feed is flooded with updates of plans and preparations for the potential historical blizzard – winter storm Nemo. Since you cannot really beat Mother Nature at her game, why not stay in and warm up with an effortless, delicious and hearty one-pot soup-based meal? And even if you are not caught in the eye of this storm this is the ideal flavorful and healthful one-pot meal for any chilly night.

This soup is a detour from a classic chicken noodle soup; it is in fact a Far East variation of it. Ginger, lemongrass, lime and Thai birds-eye chilies breathe new life into a classic chicken broth, while the bacon adds a layer of smokiness to it. The chicken, noodles, bok choy and mushrooms come together to create a well-balanced meal. There’s nothing wrong with a traditional chicken and egg-noodle soup, but this feisty and flamboyant cousin is sure to gratify your soul on a cold and dreary day.

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul
Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats: Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup with Lime and Ginger Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Store bought or homemade)
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces (see note)
2, 1 inch pieces of ginger, peeled
2 -3 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Thai birds-eye chilies, seeded and diced
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast (or 2 small ones)
½ tablespoon of good olive oil
3 slices of center cut bacon, diced
½ cup scallions (whites and greens), minced
2-3 bunches of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
6-8 thinly sliced shitake mushrooms (see note)
1/3 cup thin Thai basil, shredded (see note)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
4 ounces of rice noodles or ramen-style Japanese noodles, cooked al dente per package instructions
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of cilantro
Optional condiment: Siracha sauce, to be added per taste at the time of serving

Notes:

  • Fresh lemongrass is available at all Asian grocery stores and several large grocery chains. If you cannot find fresh lemon grass then, substitute it with the bottled kind that can be found in the international aisles of most grocery stores.
  • Thai basil is available at all Asian grocery stores and several large grocery chains.
  • You can substitute the shitakes with crimini or white button mushrooms.
  • The fish sauce and broth are salty, so make sure before you add any additional salt you taste the soup to determine how much you need.

Method:
1) Pour the chicken broth into a large stock pot. To this add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic cloves and birds eye chilies. Bring these ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the broth reaches a roaring boil, reduce the heat to low and add the chicken breast. Cover and simmer until the chicken breast is fully cooked.
2) Turn-off the heat and remove the pot from heat. Remove the chicken breast and it set aside to cool. Remove the ginger pieces and garlic cloves from the broth and discard. At this point you can even discard the lemon grass, but I prefer to remove it right at the end as it keeps infusing the soup with flavor. Set the broth aside to use in the soup. Use a fork to shred the chicken once it has cooled and is easy to work with.
3) In a medium Dutch-Oven or soup-pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook it through. Now add the scallions and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the broth to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil (uncovered). Once it reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low and add the bok choy and mushrooms. Cook for a minute and then add the shredded basil, chicken, noodles, fish sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Give everything a good stir and then turn-off the heat.
5) Stir in the lime juice and garnish with cilantro. Serve with Siracha sauce for some extra heat!

Goat Cheese, Sun-dried Tomato & Arugula Pesto Crostini

15 Jan

IMG_2398Necessity is the mother of invention, and often how a new recipe is born. In fact excess of a perishable ingredient and a desire to do something special with it often inspire tasty solutions in my kitchen!

In short here is the whole truth behind this recipe:

Pickle # 1:  I have a bunch of arugula that I need to use up soon, and I do not feel like eating a salad tonight. Duh, but I  always eat Arugula in my salad!
Solution #1: Make a Pesto out of it!

Pickle #2: A basic Arugula Pesto is a bit too strong by itself on bread.
Solution #2: It could use some sweetness and tang and possibly the addition of neutral and  creamy component. Hmmm…how about topping it with SUN-DRIED TOMATOES & GOAT CHEESE?

Final Result: Aha! The perfect balance of flavors on a slice of crusty bread. It’s a party in your mouth when the sweet, acidic and chewy sun-dried tomatoes balance out the sharp taste of the pesto and the creamy texture of the goat cheese. Pair this with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and its a lot more elating that a classic Arugula salad!

Goat Cheese, Sun-dried tomato & Arugula Pesto Crostini Recipe
Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 3/4 cup of Pesto

Ingredients:
2 cups packed arugula, washed and drained
6 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of pine nuts, lightly roasted (See note)
1/3 cup of good Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
6 whole black peppercorns
¼ cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1/3-1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced or diced
1 cup of goat cheese, crumbled
1 loaf French or Italian Baguette (See note)

Note:

  • Pine nuts can be toasted in a non-stick skillet on low heat. Keep an eye on these as they get done quickly and can burn easily. They are ready when they have a light color change and you can smell them.
  • French Baguettes are typically a lot harder than Italian Baguettes. Since I used a French Baguette, I did not toast it up for the Crostini. If you use an Italian Baguette or another softer baguette, you should toast it in the oven or under the broiler to ensure crusty bread that stands up to the toppings without getting soggy too soon.

Method:
1) In a food processor or blender combine the arugula, garlic, roasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, peppercorns, olive oil, crushed red pepper and salt to taste. Blend this to a thick paste, or leave some texture if you prefer a chunkier pesto.
2) Slice the baguette into 1 inch slices on a bias.
3) Spread a layer or two of pesto on each slice. Now top each slice with a few sun-dried tomatoes followed by goat cheese crumbles. I was skimpy with the goat cheese, to reduce some of the fat content, but these are even tastier when you are generous with the sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese!

Healthy Quinoa Upma

10 Jan

IMG_2391

I revealed my love for Indian breakfasts when I shared my Chai Chocolate Truffles Recipe a few weeks earlier. I have always loved a good Upma for breakfast. Upma, is a common South Indian savory breakfast dish made with dry-roasted semolina. Vegetables and spices are added in the cooking process to create a wholesome and delicious breakfast item.

Since I am still repenting for my gluttony in the last few months of 2012, I wanted to recreate my favorite upma with a lower carbohydrate and higher protein substitute for semolina. The ingredient is (yes, yet again!) the super food – Quinoa! Quinoa, turned out to be a perfect textural substitute and a wonderful blank canvas to be enriched by the tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little ghee (clarified butter).  I only included peas and corn for the vegetable additions to this upma, but you can substitute or supplement them with  cauliflower, green beans and even cabbage. This upma is sure to satisfy your palate without undoing your ongoing New Year’s resolution of eating healthy.

Quinoa Upma Recipe
Time: 25 minutes
Yield: About 3.5 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, washed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons of ghee/clarified butter (See note)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • ½ cup red onions, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 green chilies, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • ½ cup frozen green peas, defrosted
  • ½ cup frozen yellow corn, defrosted
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts, chopped (optional)
  • Store bought mint chutney/cilantro chutney as an accompaniment (optional)

Note:

Method:
1) In a medium pot cook 1 cup of Quinoa along with 2 cups of water, as per the package instructions. When cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside.
2) In another medium non-stick pot heat the oil and ghee on medium heat. Once the oil is heated add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to sputter, add the curry leaves and cook them for 1 minute.
3) Now add the onions and green chilies and sauté until the onions start to change color. Add the ginger paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the peas and corn along with 1-2 tablespoons of water and cover and cook till the peas and corn are tender.
5) Add ½ teaspoon red chili powder and salt to taste. Now add the quinoa and toss gently to mix all the ingredients into the quinoa.
6) Turn off the heat and remove from the stove-top. Add the cilantro and give the quinoa another quick toss.
7) Season with lemon juice to taste and garnish with crushed peanuts. (Add more salt if you need to at this stage).This can be served by itself or with an accompaniment of store-bought mint or cilantro chutney.

Start your year right: Thai Pomelo Salad

2 Jan

Thai Pomelo Salad

Happy New Year!

It is the time for New Year’s Resolutions; often know as – lofty promises of regular workouts and healthy meals. These resolutions are more than often short-lived pledges that fade away within a few weeks into the year. But since most of us are trying to start our year right, this is a great salad to add to a healthy regimen. Its intense flavors will ensure that even though you’ll soon revert to your old ways you may just crave to eat this salad throughout the year.Pomelo Salad

This salad is inspired by my favorite salad on a recent trip to Thailand. Its star ingredient is the Pomelo, a citrus fruit similar in taste to a pink or Ruby Red grapefruit (great substitutes if you cannot find Pomelos). The fish sauce, Thai basil and birds eye chili add a quintessential Thai flavor to this salad, creating a unique and invigorating salad for any meal of the day.

Thai Pomelo Salad Recipe
Yield: about 3 cups of salad
Time:20 minutes

Ingredients:

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 finely chopped birds eye chili

Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bite size pieces of Thai pomelo/ South Indian Pummelo or Ruby red grapefruit (See note)
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely sliced scallions
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped Thai basil (See note)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • Garnish: Crushed peanuts (optional)
  • Iceberg or Bib lettuce for a serving bed (optional)

Notes:

  • You can use Thai Pomelos, South Indian Pummelos or ruby red grapefruits for this salad. The dressings and all other salad ingredients work well with any of these 3 fruits. Pomelos can be found in Mexican and in Asian markets.
  • Thai Basil can be found in all Asian Grocery stores as well as some of the larger grocery chains.

Method:
1) In a small bowl mix together all the dressing ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes.
2) In a large bowl Toss together all the salad ingredients (except for the peanuts and lettuce).
3) If you do not want a very spicy salad, at this stage remove the birds eye chili from the dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well till all the ingredients are well coated with the dressing.
4) Refrigerate for 30 minutes (can be refrigerated for a maximum of 12 hours).
5) Serve cold on a bed of lettuce or in lettuce cups and garnish with peanuts if using them.

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