Supercharge your Salads

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Salads. They always sound good, healthy and just the right thing to do. Toss a few vegetables together and get on the fast track to good health. But there’s perhaps another real (and boring) side to them.

The same old taste of cucumbers, tomatoes and a ton of other vegetables seem boring.

The recipes you’ve been tossing for years now turn you off. And the fancy ones from YouTube call for exotic veggies and a trip to the supermarket.

I hear you. I’ve walked that lane. And that was exactly when I invented a bunch of fresh new flavours. I rustled up recipes that are not only super-healthy but super-easy to make, and lip-smacking too.

Today, how about I share with you some hacks for these exotic salad recipes that need rather ordinary ingredients?

Let’s give your daily bowl of salad a quick and delicious makeover. Ready?

To start off, everything you need to toss up a twist in your salad bowl is already available in your fridge and kitchen cabinet. Chop your favourite fresh green veggies. Try sneaking in veges that you would traditionally not think of as a part of a salad bowl. Add nuts, seeds and sprouts. Zest it up with grains and condiments. To take it to the next level, there’s just one extra ingredient you need – a fresh perspective and some creative thinking.

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Here are my simple Salad Makeover Hacks to instantly turn your regular bowl of salad into a finger-licking appetizer:

  • Dice, Chop, Grate: Experiment with shapes and sizes to twist the taste and experience. Trust me! A grated carrot tastes different from the chopped or diced cubes. Try it yourself and let me know what you think.
  • Sneak in some unconventional veges : Ever tried adding raw pumpkin, ivy gourd (tindli) or mustard greens into your salad? I have, because they just happened to be in my refrigerator. And you know what, they just transformed my boring salad meal to something else! Don’t be afraid to try.. Seriously!
  • Add crunch with Seeds and Nuts: There’s just such a whole lot out there! Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia. Try whole, broken, crushed, powdered, sliced, roasted or raw nuts and seeds. While buying nuts and seeds, make sure they are not already processed or flavored with some unnatural toxic stuff we want to stay away from!
  • Add some sweetness sans Sugar: Sprinkle dry fruits (these could be dry or soaked) like dates, raisins, cranberries, apricots, pineapple, pomegranate, orange. Again while buying, make sure they are not coated with additional artificial sweetners.
  • Play with different leafy greens or Micro-greens: Add lettuce, aragula, iceberg, collard greens, spinach, kale or pakchoy. Micro-greens pack quite a punch with their intense flavors. Cant find these around you? Just visit your local vegetable market, and chances are that you’ll find some pretty awesome local seasonal stuff that you had never noticed before! I discovered purslane( known as kulfa saag locally), ambat (sorrel) and few other such greens, which I had no idea even existed earlier.
  • Rainbow in your bowl: Pack in all the nutrients and micronutrients in your salad by tossing different colored veggies together.
  • Perk it up with sprouts, lentils, beans or tofu. Welcome the good, clean plant based protein. It also makes your salad more fulfilling!
  • Zest it up with flavorings: Try sour ones like lemon, raw mango, sundried tomato, apple cider vinegar (raw), or grated star fruit. Go for sharper tastes like rock salt, red chilli, green chilli, spices, lemon zest, or tamarind. And throw in fresh herbs like parsley, mint, or celery (fresh or dried).
  • Make it a meal: Add fillers like baby potato, sweet potato, quinoa, millet or occasionally, a whole grain such as brown rice, whole rice pasta, vermicelli and more.

A Whole Foods and Plant Based diet is not just a trend but a truly effective source of essential nutrients your body needs. And a big bowl of wholesome Salad is a must with every meal.

Easy peasy, isn’t it?

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Once you’ve learnt to toss up yummy salad recipes in a jiffy, you’ll never need to go back to finger foods to satiate your 4pm cravings. In fact, with so many interesting ways to toss it up, you can switch a meal with a well-balanced bowl of salad altogether. They’re yummy and make great sense.

Go ahead, use my tips and recipes to turn ‘salad’ into the most exciting deal in your meal. Feel free to print the Salad Makeover Recipes below that hero the humble cucumber. Pin them up on the fridge for a cool treat.

Happy Tossing!

Cool as Cucumber Slices with Gomasio | 15 sec

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Gomasio is a sesame powder dressing. Simple Gomasio is just Sesame seeds and salt coarsely ground. High in calcium, you can add spices of your choice to make it like a chaat masala too! This can be sprinkled on almost any dish. Some people like this on the dishes where they used to sprinkle cheese. 

Ingredients   (Gomasio)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 tsp salt

Red chilly powder or any other spices to taste

(for the salad)

2 cucumbers

Handful of parsley or coriander

Lemon juice to taste.

Method
Lightly roast the sesame. Once cooled pulse it in the grinder just a few times so till you get a fine powder. Make sure you don’t pulse too much else it will become a sticky powder. Add salt and spices of your choice to it.

Slice the cucumbers into long pieces ( with peel). Sprinkle the gomasio, chopped parsley or coriander and lemon as per taste. Polish them off the plate.

‘As Indian as it gets’ Carrot Salad

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What I love about this salad is that you couldn’t imagine a plain salad with just carrot could be enhanced so well with ingredients readily available in any Indian kitchen.           

Ingredients           

5 carrots washed and grated

½ tsp. mustard seeds

Dash of asafoetida

8-10 curry leaves

½ green chilly, split longitudinally and seeds removed

½ tsp. salt

Juice of ½ a lime

Finely chopped coriander for garnishing

Grated coconut – optional

Method
Heat the pan on a medium flame. When it is hot, put in the mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, lower the flame to the minimum and add the asafetida, curry leaves and chilly. Turn off the flame within seconds. Add the carrots, salt, lime juice and coriander. You can add a dash of jaggery. Mix and serve.

 

Crunchy Sprout Moong Bhel

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If bhel can be your salad, does it get any better than this?  This works as a snack, as side salad or a meal replacer salad.

Ingredients

1 cups moong sprouts, steamed and cooled

1 spring onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, finely chopped

1 slice raw mango, finely chopped (optional)

1 small potato, boiled & finely chopped (no need to peel)

1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander leaves

2 tbsp. roasted peanuts – coarsely broken

Fresh mint or dried mint powder (optional)

Dates and tamarind chutney

1 cup date paste

1/4 cup tamarind pulp

¼ tsp asafetida

1 tsp roasted cumin powder ( more if desired)

rock salt to taste

Method 

For the chutney mix date paste and tamarind pulp in a pan and bring to boil. Then add the spices and boil for another 5 min. If you like it tangier add more tamarind or raw mango powder. Keep aside to cool.

Mix all ingredients of the bhel except coriander and peanuts. Add peanuts last, so that their crunchiness is retained. Mix well with generous amounts of chutney. Garnish with coriander. Munch on while it’s still crunchy.

Variations : Add black gram sprouts, throw practically any salad vegetable in in a small quantity, throw in some steamed corn, or replace potatoes with sweet potatoes, there’s a lot you could play around with in this salad!

3 Salads, 1 dressing: Raw Vegan Mayo

This delicious dressing can probably smear anything make it taste good! Below are 3 different salad recipes, but you could probably create at least a dozen more to go with this yourself!

Ingredients for the dressing

½ cup soaked cashews

2 tbsp. onion chopped

Juice of ½ lime

Yellow mustard to taste

1 small clove of garlic

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Water (about /1/4 cup)

Method
Grind everything together into a smooth paste. Keep in a glass jar.
It can be refrigerated for 5-7 days.

Coleslaw

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Ingredients
½ cup cabbage grated

¼ cup purple cabbage grated

¼ cup carrot grated

1 tsp dates paste (optional)

Method
Toss the ingredients together. Mix the Raw Vegan Mayo dressing.
Enjoy a bowlful or add it to a sandwich or toast.

Filling Broccoli Salad

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Ingredients
1 medium floret of broccoli chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 cucumber chopped into 1-inch pieces

¼ cup black eyed peas beans (soaked for 4 hours and steamed)

1-cup bell peppers chopped into ½ inch pieces

¼ cup cranberries /Raisins

½ cup iceberg lettuce

Method
Toss the ingredients together. Mix the Raw Vegan Mayo dressing.

Chickpeas salad 

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Ingredients
½ cup chickpeas soaked overnight
1 cup mixed red, yellow and green bell pepper
bunch of parsley chopped
bunch of celery finely chopped
½ cup onion finely chopped
salt and lemon juice to taste
Bed of Iceberg lettuce

Method

Boil the chickpeas with some salt. Let them cool.
Mash the chickpeas with a fork. Mix all ingredients together.
Add 2-3 spoonful of the Raw mayo dressing. Enjoy.

Make it more exotic with Bell Peppers

Take the bell peppers, cut off the tops and deseed them. Stuff them with the chickpea salad. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

 

Tried any of these salads or dressings already? Got a fave recipe to share? I’d love to know. Share your healthy eating hacks with me on bhavna@healthnut.in.

 

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The wonder hack – Green Smoothie

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It’s New Year. You’re excited about the fresh vibes and want to get healthier this year.

Now while New Year resolutions don’t have the best reputation, let’s do it differently this time. Instead of aiming for something huge, let’s make a fresh start with do-able baby steps. Read on for my realistic good-health plan that isn’t boring or a burden to rustle up. In fact, it’s so easy that you can stick to it for weeks, months, even years, day after day.

The wonder hack I’m talking about is – Green Smoothies.

These green potions are delicious, nutritious and filling as a breakfast or evening snack. They pack in a punch with goodness of greens and energy of fruits.

With my experience of coaching people of all ages, lifestyles and backgrounds, I can tell you that just a sumptuous Green Smoothie helped them go green.

But do you really need it? Will you like it? And would you have time and ingredients to make it?

For starters, it helps to know that most diets fall short on greens, a vital food group. Even a vegetarian diet does not pack in enough green power. Plus Indian food is all about cooking greens, which is incidentally the same as killing them. This is because cooking destroys the chlorophyll in greens and thus the nutrition. So we may think we’re eating enough greens, in reality we are losing out on a bunch of nutrients. And while salads are a better way to consume raw greens, you need to chew them down to get the best.

Green Smoothies are surprisingly the best way to absorb nutrition from leafy greens.

Greens have one of the strongest molecular structures on the planet and hence need to be chewed really well or broken down in a blender to release their anti-cancer properties.

 Green Smoothies are low fat, alkaline, and high on micro nutrition: and a breeze to make – with my “greens, fruit, flavour enhancer” formula.

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(Tip-off: These three ingredients are the ideal and complete formula – no yogurt, milk, nuts or seeds needed. These additions have a different digestion process and don’t go so well when mixed with fruits and greens.)

Just go to your refrigerator. Pick 3 simple ingredients: a delicious herb like mint, a juicy fruit like apple and an optional flavour enhancer like lemon.

  • Prep: Wash and chop your ingredients. (Tip-off: If you’re really short on time, you can do this bit in advance and freeze your ingredients for up 4 -5 days)
  • Blend: Add leafy greens first and blend with a ¼ cup of water. Add other ingredients and blend thoroughly (for 2-3 minutes). Add more water to make it thinner if you like.
  • Relish: Drink whole, one sip at a time. No straining needed. For best results, drink fresh and avoid storing. But if you need to, store in a flask and consume in a couple of hours.

(Tip-off: Always have your smoothie first thing in the morning on an empty stomach – or at least 2-3 hours after a meal)
Once you’re a pro, play with proportions and flavours.
With many greens and fruits at arm’s length, you’ll never get bored.

(Tip-off: Cabbage, guards, cucumbers. are not leafy greens, they are vegetables)

  • Common greens or herbs: Spinach, Amaranth Green, Collard Green, Beet Green, Kale, Lettuce, Hari Maat, Radish Green, Mint, Parsley, Coriander, Curry Leaves, Basil
  • Wholesome fruits: Banana, Chiku, Pear, Apple, Peaches, Berries, Orange
  • Flavour enhancers: Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Lemon, Orange Zest, Dates, Raisins, lemon zest

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Rotate greens weekly and try different mixes. (Tip-off: If your system needs a break after a holiday or a festive occasion, these smoothies are a great and tasty detox.) Just don’t consume spinach more than twice a week.

This New Year, let’s get you healthy with baby steps.

Go with one glass of my “greens, fruit, flavour” a day and soon, you’ll be craving for more. Take it to 3, even 4 glasses of freshly-blended Green Smoothies.

I leave you with a pin-up chart with weekly smoothie recipes to make it fun. Put it up on your refrigerator door or kitchen cupboard. Take your pick and go healthy, one smoothie a time.

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Enjoyed a smoothie before? Got a fave recipe? I’d love to know. Share your green mantras with me on bhavna@healthnut.in.

5 Minute No Sugar Coconut Barfi

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Looking to whip up something quick, easy and yummy as hell? Here is a 5 min Barfi recipe, full of the goodness of whole fats like coconut and nuts, and naturally sweetened with dates (kid friendly,  diabetic friendly, waist friendly, I seriously cant think of a better and easier friend) and its Vegan. And you know the best part – my lovely sister in law made this for me when I asked for something sweet few days ago! Seriously bowled over by this easy yummy, 4 ingredient barfi! Try it and you’ll know what I mean.

You can also substitute jaggery for dates if you like the sweetness sharper (it wont remain diabetic friendly). I loved both versions hence sharing.

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup powdered nuts (cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios)

1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Date paste or jaggery syrup (for binding)

Mix everything together to form a gooey dough. Shape into balls (for laddoos) or flatten and cut (for barfi).

Sprinkle shaved nuts on top. Enjoy!

Raw Vegan Pesto Pasta

This is the simplest no hassle pesto pasta that I know of.. Its completely raw ( no cooking) and gluten free, has the wholesome goodness of soaked nuts and a variety of greens. It takes only 15 minutes to make 🙂 and works as a meal or a salad, however you like it..

Watch me making the pesto on the link given below

OR just follow the steps below 🙂

The ingredients are –

1 cup walnuts ( soaked over night and then washed and dried) Walnuts can be replaced with pine nuts, or cashews as well..

1/2 cup mamoth basil,

1/2 cup parsley ( you could also throw in some coriander if you’d like )

2 cloves of garlic

rock salt to taste

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 Zucchini

STEPS 

Blend the nuts along with lemon juice and a few spoons of water till it becomes a nice frothy paste.

Add in the garlic and salt, and the greens little by little and blend till all is well mixed and you get a lovely light green creamy pesto 🙂

Peel the outer payer of the Zucchini and then peel the rest into fettuccini. Or use a spiralizer to make it into sphegetti.

Mix it well with the pesto and eat 🙂