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!

Why stop at just drinking your 10 glasses of water? Go to the next level

It is recommended that we drink 8 – 10 glasses of water everyday (approximately 1 glass, 200ml, for every waking hour). It’s a seemingly simple step to keep our bodies hydrated that is composed of 70% water.

For most of us, getting to the goal of 8 – 10 glasses feels like an achievement as we forget or feel lazy to getup from our desks to fill up our water bottles in the middle of this important piece of work that we are doing or just don’t want to be that person that goes to the washroom every hour so pre emptively just avoid drinking water.

But there are those who have gotten over these social / mostly personal stigmas and built habits that are useful for our bodies. Are you one of those who will stop after achieving your goals? If no, read below as we will go to the next level of our water drinking routine.

Infuse water with Tea leaves

  • A morning affair with Black tea: the highest caffeine tea will instantly boost your body and wake you up. But drinking this 4-5times a day can bring your body to an unnecessary overstimulated state
  • Keep going through the day with green and white teas: they are not processed and have high levels of antioxidants
  • Energize your afternoons with flower teas (jasmine, rose, chrysanthemums, osmanthus): the smells and sweet flavor with leave you refreshed and in a positively elevated mood
  • Go to bed with lavender tea
  • Digest your heavy food with Pu’er tea: these are fermented teas aged over several years and should be paired with heavy meals to boost digestion.  If you find the taste very strong, then mix the leaves with orange zest or rose petals and be careful not to seep the leaves in hot water for more than 5 sec!

Infuse water with fruits and flowers

There are so many superfoods, herbs and nuts out there that sometimes it can be really overwhelming to think of recipes to include them in your diet. Yes, you can just drop all of them in your smoothie, but that doesn’t let the individual flavors out and can sometimes ruin the taste.

  • Goji berries
  • Chia seeds (add honey and lime to make it a perfect post workout recovery drink)
  •  Ginger (to build immunity)
  •  Apple cider vinegar (for post meal drink to balance stomach pH)
  •  Green tea, jasmine tea (for a mid afternoon refresh)
  •  Star anise, cardamom, cinnamon (fight cold in winters)
  •  Tamarind water ( digestive laxative and a fun tangy taste)

Infuse water with roasted grains

Did you know you can drink your grains? Roast them till they become effervescent then ground them or pack in tea bags to infuse your water. The smell of a roasted grain is satisfying and will be a good experiment to reduce dependence on caffeine as grain teas are caffeine free. If not all the way, blend half of your coffee with the below grains

  • Roasted barley tea: It is loaded with antioxidants, and helps improve digestion. Famous in Japan, roasted barley is infused in hot or cold water depending on the season.
  • Quinoa tea: Loaded with superfood nutrients

Ferment it!

Kombucha is a fermented drink, aged for 10-30 days. Every 2L of kombucha drink is made from 2Tbsp tea leaves, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 disc of bacteria rich scoby, 0.5L of starter kombucha and 1.5lts of water

During fermentation, the bacteria and yeast feed on sugar and tea to release acetic acid and probiotic bacterias as byproducts, improving the overall bacteria flora in our stomachs and intensities to aid digestion.

How to?

For your everyday routines, start with enhancing one glass of water with any of the above infusions of your choice, going up to 5 glasses a day. You can choose one infusion type a day / a week or mix it up as you like and as much prep time you have!

Seville’s Gazpacho: Under 7min!

Chopped tomato, cucumber and onion is the most traditional salad in India. With a dash of lime, its simple and refreshing across seasons.

2000miles in the west Spanishers decided to blend these vegetables together to make an even more refreshing summer drink called Gazpacho! Its delicious when served chilled , served like a cocktail or soup, and can be had before a meal on a hot summer days.

Ever since I got back from Seville I wanted to recreate this drink with simple steps  and here it is!

Recipe:

Prep Time: 5min | cooking time: 30sec | Serves 2 glasses

Ingredients

  • 2 red juicy tomatoes (washed and roughly chopped)
  • 1 cucumber (washed, peeled, roughly chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (washed and roughly chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled and crushed)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp salt

Instructions

  • Blend all the ingredients together. Do not add additional water
  • Place in the refrigerator to chill for 2hrs. Serve with ice cubes / straight up

Sip, close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting on a outdoor cafe alongside Seille’s beautiful river. The sun’s setting, there are purple flowers blossoming on the trees and people are running. skating, walking along the riverside. You take a sip, take it all in, and thank life for all it has provided.

Cheers to Simple pleasures

 

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!

Detox Fiber Overload Salad

For days when you need a fix for “I-ate-something-I-now-regret”.

You are feeling bloated and want to cleanse before you have your next meal.

To your rescue #1: A quick fix fiber overload salad.

Recipe

Prep time: 5min | Makes 2 big bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 White radish, grated
  • 1 Cucumber, grated
  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • 5 mint leaves, chopped
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1tsp salt

Recipe

  • Mix grated radish, grated cucumber and diced tomatoes together in a bowl
  • Add lemon juice, cumin powder and salt
  • Mix it all together and cool for 5min in the refrigerator
  • Garnish with mint and it is ready to eat!

This salad is packed with fibers. Cucumber is soothing for the stomach. Mint is refreshing. Lemon is acidic but has a positive alkaline effect in the guts. All in all, have a big bowl of this salad and you will be detoxed from whatever you had in the previous meal.

Proof: I had “Maggie” noodles for breakfast today…just because it felt like a rebellious Saturday morning thing to do! But then right after, I started feeling bloated and the feeling didn’t stop till about 4hrs later. I needed a fix before I could have lunch. And this fiber Detox salad came to the rescue. I had a big bowl of it, and soon after I finished I could feel the distinct gut refresh! Try it!

 

 

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!)

 

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!

Mushroom on Avocado toast!

Sunday morning breakfasts are meant for hearty, filling and colorful meals, the ones whose mere thought can make you roll out of the bed and head to the kitchen. Better still if it can fulfill my three cooking filters – readily available ingredients, under 30min prep time and colorfully healthy.

One of my favorite go to is Mushroom on Avocado Toast. Its the perfect example of “sum of parts can be bigger than the whole”.

Mushroom on Avocado Toast Recipe

Makes: 4 toasts | Prep Time:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Avocados
  • ~30 button mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, per taste
  • 1tbsp chopper Cilantro
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1tbsp half lemon

Recipe:

  • Avocado Guacamole: Split avocados into half along the longer side and remove the big seed. Make a couple of slits and scoop avocado chunks into a bowl. Add in lemon juice, salt and red pepper flake and mix it all together. Taste and adjust spices as needed
  • Saute Mushroom: Clean mushrooms with a clean cloth and trim the end stems as needed. Cut each of them into 4-5 lengthwise pieces. In the meantime heat oil in the pan and add the mushrooms into it. Cook uncovered on medium heat as the mushroom loose water. Let it cook till most of the water evaporates. Add in salt, pepper, cheese and cilantro. Saute for 1-2 minutes and bring it off the heat.
  • Putting it all together: On lightly toasted bread, put first a layer of avocado guacamole and top it with mushrooms. Make a fold and take a BIG bite. voila!
  • Accompaniments: Have a juice / smoothie to complete the meal

Cheers to bright Sunday breakfasts!