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Thursday, 28 November 2019

Spinach Soup Recipe


This low calorie spinach soup is one of the delicious ways, one can enjoy the healthy goodness of spinach leaves. It is a creamy and filling soup made with baby spinach, potato, carrot, onion and garlic. I have used homemade vegetable stock in this soup which makes it all the more nutritious and flavorful. The soup is vegan, gluten-free and freshly ground black pepper is used as a flavoring agent. Potato and carrot make the soup thick and creamy and so no cornflour or any other artificial thickener is added to the soup. Caramelized onions impart a very distinct and mildly sweet taste to the soup. This warm and comforting soup is a perfect treat on winter evenings with some croutons or garlic bread.


With the onset of winters, different variety of soups and rasams are a regular affair at my place especially during evenings. Winter soups are not only warm and comforting but they also soothe the sore throat and extremely helpful when you suffering from cold and cough. Soups with homemade vegetable stock are filling and nutritious and yes flavorful as well. I prefer making soup with fresh ingredients in small batches sufficient for single use.


What goes into this Spinach Soup?

This spinach soup is my mom's recipe and it is a hit at my place. Carrot and potato chunks are boiled and pureed along with blanched spinach. A little vegetable stock is used while making the puree. The puree is then sieved to get rid of the fibrous threads of spinach if any and also to make the soup smooth. Little oil is heated and minced garlic is sauteed well. Onions are caramelized with little sugar. The spinach puree is then added along with vegetable stock and allowed to boil for few minutes. The soup is seasoned with black pepper and salt and served.

Baby Spinach leaves : The first and obvious ingredient of this soup is fresh spinach leaves. I have used baby spinach here. You may use any variety that is available. 2 cups of tightly packed spinach leaves are used in this recipe which makes 4 servings. Spinach leaves add nutrition and give the soup its lush green color. I blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water for just 2-3 minutes and immediately transfer it to a bowl of ice cold water before grinding it to a puree. This step helps in retaining the bright green color of spinach.

Carrot and Potato: Carrot and potato both add texture to the soup making it thick and creamier. I have boiled and pureed 1 small sized carrot and potato along with blanched spinach in this recipe.

Garlic cloves: I like the the flavor of garlic in this spinach soup. 3-4 minced or chopped garlic is sauteed and used in this soup.

Onion: 1 medium size onion is caramelized with little sugar and it definitely adds to the flavor of the soup. Caramelized onions also give a soft bite to the soup which we like.

Black Pepper and salt : This spinach soup is seasoned with freshly pound black pepper and salt.

Vegetable Stock: I always prefer adding homemade vegetable stocks to my soups over plain water or store bought ones. In fact i always keep a jar of vegetable stock handy in my refrigerator. It makes the soup more nutritious and flavorful plus it tastes far better than the store bought ones and best part it is easy on your pocket.

Oil: Very minimal oil is used in this soup. 2 teaspoon of oil is used which is enough to saute the garlic and onion. If you do not have any dietary restriction, use 1-2  teaspoon ghee or butter instead of oil.


SoupyWinter@HealthyWealthyCuisines:

When Swaty who blogs at FoodTrails proposed Winter Soups as the theme for our Facebook Gourmet group, Healthy Wellthy Cuisines, i knew i will be sharing this Spinach soup recipe for the event, SoupyWinters@HW. Participating bloggers share recipes on this group every fortnightly on pre-decided themes. Meanwhile do check out swaty's space for some interesting and delicious recipes both from regional and international cuisines. 
You may find the contributions by my fellow bloggers on this theme  interesting . Take a look. 

                                

                           

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups, tightly packed spinach leaves
  • 1 small carrot, washed peeled and chopped
  • 1 small potato, washed, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt to taste
Method:
  1. In a pan take 2 cups of water. Add peeled and chopped potato and carrot to it and cover cook for 4-5 minutes on medium flame. Insert a fork or knife into the boiled chunks to check for doneness. The veggies should be soft on cooking.



2. Remove the cooked potato and carrot pieces and transfer them to a grinder jar. To the same pan add the washed spinach leaves and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until the leaves begin to wilt.


3. Put off the flame and remove the blanched spinach using a slotted ladle and transfer to a bowl of ice cold water. This step ensures the lush green color of spinach is retained. Once the leaves have cooled down, put them in the grinder jar along with boiled potato and carrot.


4. Add little vegetable stock also to the grinder and grind to get a smooth puree.


5. You may use the puree directly in the soup or strain it through a fine soup strainer to get rid of the fibrous threads of spinach if any.




6. Now heat oil in a pan and add chopped or minced garlic to it. Saute the garlic until it turns light golden and there is no more raw smell. Add chopped onions and a teaspoon of sugar  to it. Stir fry the onions till them get caramelized. Do not brown them.



7. Add spinach puree followed by vegetable stock to it and give a good stir. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and allow it to boil on medium flame for 4-5 minutes and put off the flame.





8. Serve the Spinach soup warm with garlic bread or croutons . You may add little cream or butter while serving the soup if you wish to.


Recipe Notes:
  • To make an easy one pot vegetable stock at home i simply add chopped veggies like carrots, onion, garlic, herbs, bay leaf and some black pepper (plus the stalks and trimmings of the veggies in my refrigerator) to a pressure cooker with 4 cups water and pressure cook for 2 whistles and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain on cooling. Discard the veggies and use the stock as needed. However if you do not have time to make vegetable stock at home you may use store bought one or simply add water if it is not handy.
  • If you like your soup to be spicy, you may grind 1 green chilly along with spinach. I have not added any. Spice from black pepper is perfect for us.
  • I blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water for just 2-3 minutes and immediately transfer it to a bowl of ice cold water before grinding it to a puree. This step helps in retaining the bright green color of spinach.
I hope some of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.
                                  
                             
                             
                            


Sunday, 24 November 2019

Mediterranean Buddha Bowl


This Mediterranean Buddha Bowl is a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal comprising of small portions of colorful veggies and fruits (usually served raw), nuts and seeds, healthy whole grains like quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, and plant protein like chickpeas, and homemade hummus all served in a single bowl. You can choose to serve this vegan and gluten-free Mediterranean buddha bowl warm or cold as it tastes great either way! Believe me, you will fall in love with this colorful protein and fiber-rich,  plant-based buddha bowl meal once you try it. It is like having a rainbow on your platter which is fresh, healthy and satisfying.


What is Mediterranean Food?

Mediterranean food includes staple dishes from European countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain; North African countries, such as Algeria, Libya, and Morocco; and Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. This region is rich in a wide variety of ingredients and spices that make even the simple food flavorful. Basically, a Mediterranean diet is rich in lean proteins, like chicken, fish, and legumes; fresh fruits and vegetables; whole, unprocessed grains; seeds and nuts; healthy fats like olive oil; and a limited intake of dairy and red meats.

What is a Buddha Bowl?

A buddha bowl is a vegetarian meal, served on a single bowl or high-rimmed plate, which consists of small portions of several foods, served cold. These may include whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice, plant proteins such as chickpeas or tofu, and vegetables. I love buddha bowls as they serve as a detox, refreshing plant-based diet which are rich in proteins, healthy fats, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Buddha bowls bring so many colors on your palate which not only uplift your mood but are nutritious and filling too. And the best part is that it includes minimal cooking and is mess-free.

Mystique Mediterranean on Foodie Monday Blog Hop

It is Monday and us food bloggers of Foodie Monday Blog Hop are back with yet another interesting theme today. It is our 222nd week on this gourmet Facebook group and we have Mystique Mediterranean as the theme for this week. It was Archana di's turn to propose the theme and between any gravy dishes and Mediterranean food, the later won maximum votes. Archana di who blogs at The Mad Scientists Kitchen is a versatile blogger and her space is home to many authentic Goan recipes and other healthy and easy recipes from around the globe. I have already tried a few dishes from her blog bookmarked a couple of them to try out later. Sweet Potato Bruschetta is among the ones from her space which was a huge hit at my place. Baked Gobi Musallam is the next on my list. Do check out her space for many interesting recipes. Archana di wanted us to cook any dish from Mediterranean Cuisine. I already have Hummus, Tahini, Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice, Msemen- Moroccan Square Pancake , Spanish Chickpea and Spinach StewWatermelon Gazpacho from Spanish Cuisine, Batata Harra, Lebanese spiced potato on my blog. Buddha bowl was on my to-do list for a long time, so I thought why not share a Mediterranean meal in a Buddha Bowl for this theme.
                                                                      
What are the foods going into this Mediterranean Buddha Bowl?

There is no fixed menu and the buddha bowl can have small portions of vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds in any order and of your choice, it has whole grains like quinoa or brown rice, a plant-based protein source like tofu, chickpeas, etc. My Mediterranean Buddha Bowl has a beetroot hummus, cooked quinoa, boiled chickpeas seasoned with lime juice, black pepper, and salt, roasted sweet potatoes, blanched baby spinach topped with toasted sesame seeds, cucumber, onions, some orange wedges, plum, and walnuts. This may sound a lot of cooking and time consuming but it is not. You just have to plan the chopping and cooking wisely. While the sweet potatoes are getting roasted in the oven , you can cook the quinoa and blanch the spinach on the gas top and do the chopping work simultaneously.

                                  

Beetroot Hummus: Hummus is a very popular dip from Middle Eastern Cuisine. A traditional Hummus is made from cooked, mashed chickpeas and blended with tahini (sesame seeds paste), garlic cloves, and seasonings like salt, black pepper, and fresh lemon juice. I have just added a small piece of boiled beetroot while making hummus to get this gorgeous pink colored beetroot hummus. Click here for the stepwise recipe.

Blanched Spinach: I have taken a handful of baby spinach and blanched it in boiling water for a minute or so and transferred immediately to a bowl of ice-cold water. Further, I have topped this blanched spinach with toasted sesame seeds and seasoned it with lime juice and black pepper.

Fruits Vegetables Nuts and Seeds: You may use as many salad vegetables as you wish in this Mediterranean Buddha Bowl like red onions, cucumber, carrots, beetroots, tomatoes, cauliflower rice, bell peppers, etc. You may also use any fruit, seeds, and nuts of your choice. I have used oranges, plums, sesame seeds and walnuts in this platter.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It supports healthy vision, promotes a healthy digestive system and improves the immune system. I have used an Indian variety of sweet potatoes. Wash and peel and make bite-size chunks of sweet potato. Brush them with olive oil and a spice mix ( red chili powder, turmeric powder, roasted cumin powder), salt and minced garlic and roast them in an oven.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients for roasted sweet potatoes:
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
  • Rock salt to taste 

Method:
  1. Wash the sweet potato well to remove dirt and mud. Peel it and chop into thick roundels. Further, chop the roundels into equal size chunks which ensure even cooking.
  • 2. In a bowl take the spice powders, minced garlic, salt, and oil. Mix everything well and add the sweet potato chunks to it. Using your fingers apply the spice marinade to the chunks.

3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celcius for 15 minutes. Line the baking tray with aluminum foil and arrange the marinated sweet potato chunks on it. Transfer the tray to the preheated oven and roast the sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius. Insert a toothpick or fork into the sweet potato chunk to test its doneness.


Quinoa is one of the world's most popular health foods. A gluten-free high-protein, high-fiber, and low-fat grain, Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that contain all none amino acids. It is also high in magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin-E, and various beneficial antioxidants. Click here for stepwise instructions on how to cook quinoa.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup organic Quinoa
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Method:
  1. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold running water to remove the bitterness. Drain and keep aside. Heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan. The ratio is 2 cup water to 1 cup raw quinoa. Add the drained quinoa to the water with a dash of salt and bring to a rolling boil.
                                

                                

2. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until the quinoa turns tender and all the water gets absorbed. let the saucepan remain covered for 5 minutes after putting off the flame. On cooking the quinoa turns slightly translucent and we can see tiny spirals/germ (appear like small tails) coming out from the quinoa seed. Fluff it gently with a fork and allow to cool down at room temperature.

                               

                               

Chickpeas: The fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, Vitamin B and selenium in chickpeas, all keep the heart-healthy. Chickpeas contain no cholesterol too. You may choose to roast the canned or boiled chickpeas as we did for the sweet potatoes. My family is comfortable having boiled chickpeas seasoned with rock salt, black pepper, and lemon juice as a salad, so I kept it simple.

Assembling the Mediterranean Buddha Bowl: Once you are ready with the chopped veggies and fruits, cooked quinoa, chickpeas, and hummus, you are good to serve. You just have to place small portions of all of this onto your bowl in an appealing and color coordinating way. 

                           


I hope some of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.
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Monday, 18 November 2019

Ankurit Mugachi Usal / Sprouted Green Gram Stir- Fry


Ankurit Moogachi Usal is a simple yet delicious and healthy sprouted green gram stir-fry cooked in a Maharashtrian style. This moogachi usal can be served as a side dish with chapati or simply had on its own as a flavorful salad. Made with minimal ingredients and very less oil this stir-fry can be made in a jiffy if you have sprouted green gram ready at hand. Goes well in the lunch box as well. The dish is vegan and if you skip the asafoetida while tempering, it can be gluten-free as well.


My family loves this ankurit moogachi usal and hence it is a regular affair at my place. I try to add sprouted beans in our diet at least twice every week either as stir-fries, curries or salads. My little one happily takes it in his lunch box or stuffs this stir-fry in his sandwiches and veg Frankie rolls. Apart from having whole green gram in sprouted form i do make Pesarattu, a healthy moong bean dosa very often.


What is sprouted Green Gram ?

The whole moong beans that have been sprouted are called moong sprouts or sprouted green gram. Moong sprouts are edible,  have a mildly sweet and nutty flavor and are crunchy. They can be eaten raw as well in salads but they are prone to bacterial contamination, hence they are often blanched before consumption.

Whole moong beans are cleaned, washed and soaked in water for 6-8 hours. They are drained, rinsed again and tied in a clean kitchen towel for 10-12 hours depending upon the climate. Water is sprinkled on the cloth to keep it moist. Once you see sprouts coming out of the kitchen towel, the moong sprouts are ready to use. Make sure you rinse them thoroughly before use. The sprouts can be refrigerated for 2-3 days and cooked as per need.


Health Benefits of Sprouted Green Gram
  • Moong sprout is a nutrient-dense food. It is a good source of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. It is also rich in several nutrients like potassium, magnesium and phosphorous.
  •  Moong sprouts are a good source of antioxidants that help neutralize the effects of free radicals in the body.
  • The fiber from the sprouted moong has been linked to lower LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels thus decreasing the risk of heart diseases. 
  • The high fiber content of these sprouts gives you a feeling of fullness thus aid in weight loss.
  • Sprouts are easily digestible since complex nutrients are broken down into simpler substances. The presence of pectin in it helps in the smoother passage of bowels and clearing your gut of the food. Click here to read more about it.
What all goes into this sprouted green gram stir-fry?

This is a very simple stir fry and all the ingredients used in it are basic and easily found in any Indian pantry. 
  • Sprouted Moong: I have sprouted the whole moong beans at home. You may use store-bought if you wish to. Sprouted moong can be replaced with sprouted moth beans also. Only the cooking time will differ a bit as moth sprouts take a little longer time to cook as compared to the mung sprouts. 
  • Peanuts: I have used about 2 tablespoons of peanuts here. Peanuts add to the protein content of this stir-fry and give it an appealing nutty flavor and crunch to the dish so do not skip it.
  • Garlic: Minced or grated garlic can be used in this stir fry.
  • Curry leaves: A sprig of curry leaf is used here. it can be skipped if you do not have it handy but would recommend its use.
  • Green chilies: I have used finely chopped green chilies as we like this stir fry to be a bit spicy. You can avoid it completely if feeding this stir fry to kids or if you cannot tolerate so much spice.
  • A basic oil tempering of mustard seeds, cumin seeds asafoetida and turmeric powder is done in this stir fry, as I do for almost all my stir-fries and dals.
  • Onion and tomatoes: Finely chopped onion and tomato add a lovely and appealing taste to this sprouted moong stir fry.
  • Spice powders - As this is a spicy stir fry, I have added red chilly powder and goda masala apart from the green chilies. You may adjust the amount of red chilly as per your taste and goda masala can be substituted with garam masala if not easily available.
  • Fresh coriander leaves: This is optional but definitely adds a refreshing flavor to the stir fry so add it if you have it handy.
  • Lemon juice. I squeeze a juice of one lemon to this stir-fry at the end just before serving. This is also optional but I love that zesty flavor and of course, it adds to your daily Vitamin C intake. 
The Event-related to this Post:

I made this delicious and healthy Ankurit Mugachi Usal for the #221th Foodie Monday Bloghop event with Moong Magic as the theme for this week. This theme was suggested by Swaty who blogs at Foodtrails. Swaty wanted us to cook any dish with whole green moong as a star ingredient. As this sprouted green gram is a regular affair at my home i chose to contribute this dish to the event. Meanwhile do check out swaty's space for many scrumptious dishes both from regional and International cuisine. I find her writing style and food styling very interesting.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes 
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup moong sprouts / sprouted green gram
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoon peanuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 /4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon goda or garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
Method:
  1. Heat oil in a pan on medium flame. Add mustard seeds to it. Once the seeds splutter, add cumin seeds and allow them to crackle. Next, add asafoetida followed by peanuts. Allow the peanuts to fry until they turn crisp. Keep the flame low to avoid the peanuts from turning brown. Next, add the curry leaves, green chilies and minced garlic. Fry until the raw smell of garlic goes away.

2. Now add the chopped onions followed by the tomatoes. Stir fry the veggies for 1-2 minutes.


3. Now add the spice powders, turmeric powder, red chili powder and goda masala. Mix well and fry the spices on low flame for about 30 seconds.


4. Add the rinsed sprouted moong and salt to the masala and stir fry everything for 1-2 minutes and cover cook for 3-5 minutes max. Do not overcook the sprouts as they lose their nutrition and they taste best when they retain a bit of crunch in them.



5. Open the lid and put off the flame. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon to it and garnish the stir-fry with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves. Give a quick stir and serve the healthy and delicious ankurit mugachi uasal with chapati.

                           

Recipe Notes:
  • To make moong sprouts at home: Whole moong beans are cleaned, washed and soaked in water for 6-8 hours. They are drained, rinsed again and tied in a clean kitchen towel for 10-12 hours depending upon the climate. Water is sprinkled on the cloth to keep it moist. Once you see sprouts coming out of the kitchen towel, the moong sprouts are ready to use. Make sure you rinse them thoroughly before use. The sprouts can be refrigerated for 2-3 days and cooked as per need.
  • Sprouted moong can be replaced with sprouted moth beans also. Only the cooking time will differ a bit as moth sprouts take a little longer time to cook as compared to the mung sprouts. 
  • Green chilies can be skipped if you cannot tolerate much spice.
  • Do not skip peanuts as they add a lovely crunch and nutty flavor to the stir fry.
  • Do not overcook the sprouts as they tend to lose their nutritional value and also as they taste great when they retain a bit of crunch in them.
I hope some of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

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