How to eat a vegetable rainbow without eating salads everyday?

Our body needs 13 vitamins and 21 essential minerals! But with each of the 20,000+ species of known vegetables providing a unique set of these vitamins and minerals, how do we make sure we are eating the right nutrients, in the right quantities?

In the book Sapiens, the author Yuval Noah Harari argues that hunters-gatherers, before the arrival of agriculture, satisfied themselves with “a marvelously varied diet”, made possible by the fact that they had few needs and plenty of time to roam around the jungle gathering fruits, vegetable and herbs. Today despite modern agriculture and advanced trade that brings fresh vegetables and fruits from across the world throughout the season at our doorstep, we suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

It’s akin to the irony of movies. When there are too many movies to watch, we gravitate towards the blockbusters that follow a specific plot trend vs a wholesome portfolio to nourish our senses and inspire creativity.

Luckily, nature has made things simple with a color coding system. The 20,000+ vegetable species can be broadly divided into 5 color codes (Red, Orange/Yellow, White/Brown, Green, Red), each unique for its nutrient profile, together providing Yuval’s “marvelously varied diet”

Then all we need is a simple 3 step rule: (1) Shop veggies of 5 different colors, (2) rotate the mix with seasonal, exotic and experimental varieties (3) Cook and eat

I started off with salads to get around the third step – chop all the veggies, dress them up and eat. But eating raw rainbow salads everyday can get boring. So I gave myself the challenge to come up with fun, easy and delicious ways to eat rainbow meals. Below are three of the successful kitchen experiments that have been #SuccessfullyTasteTested

The Marvelous Yogic Veggie Bowl

Prep time: 10min | Cooking time: 20min | Serves two big bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup beetroot, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 cup potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, diced
  • 1 Tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions:

  • Peel, dice, wash, strain all the veggies
  • In a rice cooker or a pan, add all the 4 cups of veggies along with 1 Tbsp ghee, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/4 cup water
  • Cover the lid and cook without moving the vegetables, on medium heat for 10 – 15 mins. Make sure the vegetables are fully cooked but have a tinge of firmness / crunch
  • Remove in bowls and serve hot! Add lemon, salt and pepper as required

Notes:

  • Tastes best when served hot, immediately after cooking
  • Best eaten as a salad replacement or with rice and lentil Kichari
  • Eat with a friend or by yourself without TV/phone, to truly enjoy the subtle flavors and nourishments
  • Its real fun to chop the veggies!
  • Use rice cooker to keep things simple and not worry about adding additional water in between
  • Do not touch / move the vegetables while cooking as the colors of some vegetable swill override everything else (e.g. beetroots)

Upcoming recipes in the series:

Coconut Rice with loads of Veggies and a hint of Indo-chinese flavor (coming up soon)

Clear soup with lots of vegetables, Vietnamese pho style (coming up soon)

Trivia

*13 vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).

*21 essential minerals: Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Copper, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, iodine, selenium, sulfur, chloride, boron, silicon, vanadium, nickel, arsenic, chromium

*Our bodies need energy to survive and carry various bodily functions. We get this energy from the food we eat, specifically carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The enzymes in our body break down the three macronutrients to release energy via chemical reactions. Vitamins and minerals help keep the enzymes active, transport them to the right locations and keep the environmental conditions right (e.g. pH balance, blood sugar levels etc) for the appropriate chemical reactions to take place. Vitamins and minerals are also stores in our body parts (e.g., Calcium in the bones) that provides critical structure to them. Pretty damn important!

Papaya bowls

This papaya breakfast bowl is a treat to the eyes, bursting with naturly fresh orange, red, green and nutty brown colors! 

You want to hold it in your hands and eat it. You would have never eaten so much papaya at one go!

As you take the bites you can feel how the food cools down the body and nourishes you. A great first thing to start your day

Recipe:

Prep time: 5min | Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 papaya
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 4-5 Strawberries
  • Handful of Almonds / walnuts
  • 1Tbsp Chia seeds

Instructions

  • Cut the papaya into two halves, lengthwise. Deseed to create a roughly even bowl
  • Sweeten the yogurt with honey
  • Fill the deseeded papaya with sweetened honey, and top it with colorful fruits, chia seeds and nuts to your liking

Notes:

  • To eat, take a spoon and scoop out from where the yogurt meets the papaya and move outwards towards the edge of the papaya skin
  • Make sure the papays isn’t too ripe that its skin doesn’t hold strong

Ultimate tea cocktail for when you have a bad cold

Cold is natural and body’s way to letting go of the toxins that build up over the course of our lifestyles. Being down with cold once a year is totally normal and I would go to the extent of saying that it should be fully embraced. Put on those lacy pyjamas, cozy up in the bed, get a nice book and relax to let the body get rid of the toxins to recuperate.

Now, I would say that it’s not that easy to be stuck with cold and a running nose. You want to rush to pop those pills and feel better. But that would just subvert the cold inside, make you feel better in the short term and you would be down with cold again at the slightest hint of the infection.

Instead, Try this ultimate cocktail for when you have a bad cold, to make you feel better, heal your body and get rid of toxins.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 inch ginger (grated)
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric (grated)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey

Instructions:

Put the water to boil along with ginger, turmeric, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. Let it come to a nice rolling boil. Remove it from heat, strain and add lemon juice and honey. Mix it all up!

Wrap your hands around the mug, breath into the fresh condiments and take a sip. It’s so good as it combines all the things Ayurveda says you need to have when you have a cold. Take it 3-4 times a day and you would start feeling better in a couple of days!

Breakfast: Playing with Avocado

I love Avocado toasts and would have it every single day! At the simplest, avocado guts  mashed together with a drop of lime, sprinkled with salt and spread over a slice of toasted bread is creamy, savory, delicious and filling. But, avocados are extremely versatile and there could be so many variations to the basic avocado toast, that you would rather play with it, experiment and delight your senses with your own take on avocado toast every single day than getting stuck with the usual.

This week’s edition is Avocado toast with white beans

Recipe

Prep time: 10min | Cooking time: 5min | Serves: 4 bread toasts (2 people)

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole avocados (sliced in half, seeds removed)
  • 1/4 cup white beans (soaked and cooked)
  • 15 – 20 Cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 10 almonds / other nuts
  • 2 garlic
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chilly flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

  • Put the bread to toast
  • Roast the tomatoes till they become soft and start falling on themselves (Oven: 9min, 250 degrees C | Stove: 10min with a dollop of oil)
  • In a mixer grinder, mash together avocados, white beans, almonds, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and chilly flakes to a thick paste. Add 1 tbsp water if needed
  • Prepare the spread with placing the thick avocado paste on the bread and topping with a couple of cherry tomatoes

This avocado toast was incredibly delicious and fulfilling! Cheers to Experiments!

The most refreshing Watermelon Juice

I got up today morning to a temperature of “36 degrees outside, feels like 47 degrees” due to the intense humidity and air quality. It was so hot that I couldn’t think of cooking anything for breakfast and I wanted something cool to kick start the day. Some fiddling around the kitchen led me to….Fruits, juices! I laced up my shoes and ran to the fruit shop. 20min later I was  gulping down 3 cups of the most refreshing juice I have ever had!

Recipe

Prep time: 5min | Cook time: 2min | Makes 4 glasses

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 watermelon, roughly cut into pieces
  • 2 tsp black rock salt / Himalayan rock salt
  • 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Ice cubes (optional)

Recipe:

  • Put the watermelon pieces into the juicer or blend it (Watermelon has 92% water content, so even if you juice it, you waste very little fibre but end up avoiding the hassle of taking out the seeds. If you decide to blend, do remove the seeds upfront)
  • Add mint leaves
  • Add 1/2 tsp of black rock salt to every glass of juice
  • Add ice cubes / cool the juice in the refrigerator for 20min before drinking

(Himalayan Rock salt has been much praised in Ayurveda because of its high sulphur content. Compared to the readily available, processed and bleached “white” salt version, Himalayan salt is still widely available in its unprocessed state, grind into granules, maintaining its pink/black color.

While you can use the Himalayan rock salt to season absolutely anything, its match with watermelon is one made in heaven. Add a couple of mint leaves and you are sure to say this is THE MOST REFRESHING drink you have ever had and wont be able to stop at one!)

 

Water – my best travel buddy

I am at the airport right now, on my way to Switzerland to attend a friend’s wedding. It’s 9am here and the food shops are starting to open, but I am starving. So I pick up a croissant from Starbucks and rush to my gate.

I get on the flight at 9:30, wait for 1.5hrs before the in-flight food service commences. I pick the vegetable pasta option, served with a side of hot bread and chocolate cake. It’s delicious and I gulp it down. But an hour later I start feeling heavy in my stomach.

This is usually my tale with airport food and post meal uneasiness. It’s really hard sometimes to find fresh and fulfilling options. But after multiple travels I have found my remedy. AISLE SEATS and a BIG BOTTLE OF WATER.

Weather control in the flight makes them dehydrating, coupled with carb loaded food can really take a toll on the stomach. Sometimes the food is unavoidable. But if you can keep drinking lots of water throughout the flight (300ml every 30min), than it really helps calm the stomach and keep you fresh.

Try it!

Cheers to Traveling heathy!

An unexpected match: Cabbage & Quinoa

As I was walking home from office today, I started thinking about what should I cook for dinner tonight.

My thought process: So, I have one whole cabbage in my fridge. I don’t think there is any other vegetable left. I am leaving for Switzerland tomorrow, which means I have to pack tonight and have no spare time to go buy vegetables and the last thing I want to do is waste any vegetable. That means – lets get creative in the kitchen!

After a couple of web searches, I stumbled upon this recipe of cabbage and quinoa, modified it a bit and just slowly went through the cooking process to get to this surprisingly delicious meal! It is going to be my go-to under 15min Wholesome dinner recipe!

Recipe:

Prep Time: 5min, Cooking time: 10min | Makes 4 bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, washed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 whole cabbage, finely cut length wise
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 10-20 almonds, halved
  • 1 can / 1 cup of boiled chickpeas
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more as needed)

Process

  • Prep Quinoa: In a deep pan, add 1 tbsp oil, garlic and tomato paste. Stir it for a minute and add water. Once the water gets to a gentle boil, add quinoa and cover pan with the lid on medium flame. Let it cook for 10-15min till all the water has evaporated. Turn off the flame and leave the pan covered for another 5min. Quinoa should be nice and fluffy now!
  • Prep the mix: In the second pan, add 1 tbsp oil and the chillis. Add almonds and stir till they are golden. Add turmeric and cabbage with some salt. Cook cabbage till it is mildly wilted.  Add chickpeas and mix it all together for another 2min and turn off the heat
  • Mix it all up: add quinoa to the cabbage, mix it up, add lemon juice and mix it up again, before taking a huge first bite into your mouth 🙂

 

Cheers to Unexpected discoveries!

Those tiny little Chia Seeds

Its summer time! Long days and hot weather here in Shanghai has kept me indoors, which has lead to a lot of reading lately. I am trying to average a sustainable pace of one book a month, squeezing in half an hour every night before I go to sleep and weekend mornings. Now after finishing every book if I can take away just even one thing which I remember for more than a couple of days, one thing that shifts the way I think, one think that is inspiring, that’s when I feel the book has jumped on my 5Star reading category.

Last week I finished reading “Born to Run”. Its a fantastically informative, even seemingly fiction like tale of these secluded ultra marathoners from South America, who ditch NIKEs, run in mere sandals, while beating some of the fastest runners on the planet a race deep down in the canyons of “”

The book shifted my perspective on the history of human running, calling out that “Humans are born to be super long distance runners. Before hunting tools were invented, we would run an animal to death for food”, But the biggest thing I took away was this magic potion that our gang of secret runners in South America were drinking.

Described in the book as “a gooyee thing” that the author hesitated but then gulped down in the middle of his 20+ mile run, giving him instant energy, more than any other energy bar he has ever had! Further investigation by the author reveals that made as a concoction of honey, lime, chia seeds and water, this is what the local runners were swearing by as a pre and during run drink of choice…

Intrigued as I had never heard of this chia seed drink before, I did my own research and then experimented on myself. I have been soaking and drinking this potion everyday when I get back from work and voila. This thing is great! Loaded with Vitamin C, Glucose, protein, this is a power packed drink that gets made in seconds! Why is this such a secret recipe! I am going to taste test this with as many people as I can and couldn’t wait to write about it!

Give it a shot! Mix one tea spoon chia seeds in one cup of water, let it soak for a 1-4hrs, add a juice of one lime and 1 table spoon honey. Give it a BIG mix and serve!

 

Cheers to Great things that come in small tiny packets!