101 Changes: Change 20 – Healthy Eating Made Easy

If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over for 21 days. I am writing a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out previous 101 Changes Article: 101 Changes: 101 Changes: Change 19- Do More With Beauty Products



Image source Happy Heart and Mind  Cooking at home

One thing I have learned as I am getting older is to take care of my health properly. As a mom of 2 kids, I want to make sure I am healthy enough to keep up with their energy when doing homework with them or taking them to music and sports classes, playing with them.

I am vegetarian so I eat mostly plant and grain based diet but I sure have my moments when I am not eating healthier. Being vegetarian one would think it is healthy, not so. As I have said before, one can be vegetarian eating pizza, potato chips and drink coke or sugar laden drinks; it is vegetarian but it is NOT healthy for sure.

As I am getting older (past 20s and in late 30’s) I am learning how to take care of my health by eating more plant based food and cooking at home. Since I love cooking, it comes easier but there are days, when I simply fall off the health band wagon but I am getting better by buying right groceries and snacks to keep myself motivated to eat healthier.

Here are my top choices for healthy eating:

Green Vegetables: I buy green bell peppers, Kale, Baby spinach, Collard greens, mustard green, Green beans, Thai/Indian long beans, Green squash (Asian groceries store), Dark leafy Salad greens, Broccoli, and use Green herbs such as cilantro for flavors.

Rainbow Veggies: Other than green vegetables, I am focusing on rainbow colors veggies such as carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, Tomatoes, Purple red cabbage, eggplants, radishes (red and large white from Asian store), cauliflower, red onions, sweet potatoes, Olives and so on.

Whole Grains: Being an Indian, I use lot of rice and wheat based grain and flour for cooking. I try to use whole grain as much as possible. Living close to whole foods and trader Joe’s, I have found many new grains (whole, split and flour) such as amarnth, kamut, millet, farro, barley, quinoa and spelt. One can make salad, bread, naan or rotis, savory biscuits from grain or flour. If you can not eat gluten, there are still other choices to eat healthier and still be gluten free.

Eat Fresh Fruits: Eating fresh and in-season fruits is best. In California, there are many farmer’s market that sells fresh fruits from local farmers that are organic. Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Pears, watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Peaches, Apricots make great snacks for kids and adults. I sometimes make dessert, cookies or bread with fresh fruits by looking at online recipes blogs.

Avoid fat free and sugar free: Earlier when I was younger, I thought sugar free and fat free is good and I ate that way. Now, I know better and try to eat good fat, real sugar in moderation. Regular coke always taste better compared to sugar free cola and we know why. Do not be afraid of fat, sugar but eat those food in small quantity, is that simple.

Drink Water: It is okay if you like Wine, juice, Smoothies, shakes or beer. Drinking in moderation is always best practice for any diet. However, drink more water whenever possible as nothing quenches thirst more then cold, fresh water.

Vegetarian Protein: As a vegetarian, I often gets asked about protein in my diet, there is plenty of choices for vegetarian to get required daily protein intake. One of the best vegetarian source for protein is lentils, dried nuts, beans and tofu. There are many soups, stir fries can be made with lentils and tofu. Many think tofu is bland but if you marinate it and cook it right it will be tasty for kids as well.

Take Vitamins: It is always best to take nutrients from fresh and cooked food but sometimes when it is not possible taking daily vitamins may help. Vitamin B12 is hard to find in many vegetables so I try to take vitamins with B12, iron and folic acid to make sure my body’s optimum health.

What To avoid or eat less of:

As I said above, being healthy is not difficult but requires little discipline and planning. Eating or avoiding a few things may improve our health and energy.

  • Avoid meat products, this is more true even if you are meat lover, if you reduce or give up meat products for health or ethical reasons, it may help with your health.
  • Avoid cheesy, fatty food at home or when eating out
  • Avoid fried food such as french fries, dumplings or eat in moderation
  • Avoid or reduce eating refined flour
  • Artificial flavoring, diet food staple from grocery store.
  • Do not eat old food sitting in fridge for more than a few days
  • Do not use plastic to heat up food, use glass container instead
  • Avoid trans fats
  • Do not deprive yourself of any food, just eat less of instead
  • avoid or reduce sugary drinks or alcohols
  • Reduce eating out or take outs
  • Do not read or watch Television when eating, this is one of my worst habit that I am working on fixing it

If you want more plant base food diet, check out these following books;

Product Details

 Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

This is one of the best book with over 300 healthy plant based recipes. The secret is out: If you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and prevent (or even reverse!) chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the right food is your best medicine. Thousands of people have cut out meat, dairy, and oils and seen amazing results. If you’re among them—or you’d like to be—you need this cookbook.

Product Details

 The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

If you are vegetarian, vegan or thinking about eating more plant based diet but wondered what about nutrition?, Where to get nutrients that others get from meat and dairy?, How to spot hidden animal ingredients in packaged foods?, Howto avoid the vegan pitfall of overfed but undernourished?, How to order at restaurants? if you asked these questions, this is right book for you. I have it and I still refer to it when I am in doubt.

Make Homemade Gifts From Extra Fruits


If you have a extra fruits at home, either because you bought too much from the farmer’s market, or got from someone who has garden, what to do? It happened to us, a neighbor gave us so many oranges, more than we could eat. We ate fruits, made fresh juice, even shared some with other friends, we still had leftover oranges on our kitchen counter.

I turned to internet and food blogs to find a ways to make something edible form oranges, as I could not think of anything at top of my head. I found a few ways to not only use leftover extra oranges but also found a ways to use other fruits and make some home made gifts to share with others. Here are a few ways to save money, eat healthy and be creative at the same time.

Make Citrus Salt:


Leftover fruits such as Oranges, Lemon, Lime

1 Cup Coarse salt

How to Make it: Recipe

Zest Oranges or other citrus fruits Until you get about 4 table spoons worth of Citrus zest. I use small inexpensive gadget that works well. Make sure not to zest white part of the citrus fruit as it tends to be bitter.

Mix zest and coarse salt in small bowl. You can use small whisk, but I prefer to use my hand to mix the content to release the flavor.

Spread it on baking try and leave it overnight to air dry it. I suppose it can be done in oven but I did not try it so not sure how the outcome would come out and taste. Air drying worked well for me. Fill it in air tight glass herb bottle. You can use in in Salad, soup and use it in herb infused olive oil with pasta dishes. Over the time, zest colors may fade but taste remains.

It should have about 2 months of shelf life.

Candied Orange Peels



3 Oragnges

2 Lemons

4 Cups of Sugar

1 Grapefruit


Peel Orange, lemons and grapefruit and score them in to sections in to 6-8 pieces by hand. Make sure peels are washed and does not have white parts or citrus membrane.

Cut Peels in to strips about half inch thick approximate measure.

Put washed and cut peel strip in sauce pan with water. Cover the sauce pan and bring to boil until soft. Drain.

Use same sauce pan and add 3 cups of water with 3 cups of sugar and bring to boil. Make sure sugar dissolves in to water.

Add boiled Citrus peel and bring to boil again.

Reduce heat and simmer peels slowly and gently. Stir once in a while until Citrus Peels are translucent and syrup becomes bubbly. It took about 94 minutes or so for me , approx. 1.5 hours. It is not a fast cooking so have patience while making this.

Once you think peels are translucent, drain it. Save syrup for other things (topping on crepes etc.)

Spread Peels in to cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Let it sit and dry it overnight, 8-12 hours.

Put remaining 1 cup sugar with food color of your choice, I used red. Toss red sugar powder in a bowls with air dried peels. Shake off excess sugar. Again let it air dry for 1 more day 8-12 hours, before eating.

For variety, you can dip these peels in to melted chocolates half way and dry it or freeze it. It will make beautiful candied peels that will taste great too.

Fruit Jelly:


Approx. 2 Cups fruit juice such as Orange Juice or Lemon Juice. (It can be freshly squeezed of store bought)

3 cups sugar

6 oz liquid pectin

2 table spoon fresh lemon Juice

Coarse sugar

Cooking oil (spray)


Take large sauce pot and pour Citrus Juice and sugar in it. stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Line a baking pan with microwave safe plastic wrap, covering whole pan and spray with cooking oil spray lightly. Leave it on side.

Cook juice on sauce pot on high heat for about 20 minutes or so, until mixture becomes soft ball stage. add liquid pectin inside and stir in for 2 minutes or so. You can use candy thermometer also but I did not, I just eye balled and guessed the temperature. I am bit lazy like that. If you use candy thermometer, make sure temp is about 220 degree or so.

Remove pot from the heat. Stir in lemon juice.

The pour the mixture in to prepared baking pan lined with plastic wrap.

Let it sit and cool for 1.5 to 2 hours, until it becomes firm.

Lift plastic wrap on pan and cut in 1 inch squares, or any shapes you like by knife or cookie cutters.

Dip each pieces in to sugar gently.

Store it in air tight container. You can wrap each little pieces to make sure they stay unbroken if you like.


Image source: Wikipedia

How To Cook and Eat Healthier

BLR 066

Image source: Zengirl

I am life long vegetarian since my birth, but that does not mean I eat healthy. Occasionally I tend to eat junk food sometimes, especially when I am stressed out, or extremely busy in other things. As part of finding balance between heart and mind of six areas, eating and being healthy is one of the important thing in my life as it is for many of you. Cooking and eating is important for anyone because we are what we eat, and we are what we think of ourselves.

Here are a few Tips for Healthy Cooking:

Some of the people I know think cooking is complicated and hard so they tend to get take out or eat out. When they eat something at home it is almost always frozen meals heated up. Other people are opposite cooking great 7 course meals on weekdays like Martha Stewart’s shows. I fall somewhere in between, I generally love cooking but occasionally I go through times where we simply eat Khichadi or Bread and Milk for dinner.

Here are some of the ways I have learned over the years, so cooking is not complicated. Cook healthy at home with these simple tips.

  1. 95% fat free does not “eat 95% more”. It still has 5% fat, which is not 0%.
  2. Also zero percent fat, is also misleading. See always calories before consuming extra food. I am now skeptic of all no fat, low fat, claims. Some low fat and no fat actually have known to more calories compared to full fat counter part. Check it for yourself, you’ll know.
  3. Being Vegetarian does not mean, you’re eating healthy. I know that my own experience, in college I have eaten and lived on only cold pizza, chips and soda. That is Vegetarian diet but not healthy one.
  4. When buying food such as bread, grains, read label. If the first ingredient is not whole wheat or whole grain it might be not healthy enough.
  5. Always eat colorful fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cantaloupe, watermelon and so on. It will bring out vitamin and nutrients more.
  6. Add more dried beans, dried lentils, tofu and nuts for protein sources. It is best for Vegan and Vegetarian. Even if you’re meat eater, these will work with your diet as well.
  7. Broil, boil, bake or steam food instead of deep frying or sauteing in oil. As it will have less fat and more healthier.
  8. Eat more fiber hero food for better digestive system such as brown rice, oatmeal, rye, quinoa, barley.
  9. When looking for re-fried beans, you can make it at home easily or look for low fat, no lard added refried beans from super market. It will have less fat and less calories.
  10. If you buy canned fruits, make sure that canned fruits are packed in its own juice rather than sugar and syrup.
  11. Same as above for vegetables and beans, make sure no extra salt is added or always rinse canned beans to get rid of access of extra salt. extra salt does not help with Blood pressure.
  12. For sugary food, check labels to see names that you can not pronounce, that always rings true for me. If I can not pronounce or know ingredients that means to usually be careful.
  13. If you read labels and it says it comes form natural sources, some ingredients such as chemical, artificial flavors also, comes from natural sources too. Do not go by advertizement or what it says, follow your gut feeling.
  14. Give up or reduce meat. If your meat eater, go one day meat free.
  15. If you are Vegetarian, eat healthy, not chips or soda. Eat Vegetables.
  16. Skip rich sauces made from cheese. Try instead to use lemon, orange juice, salsa, vinegar, garlic, herb and spices to flavor the food.
  17. Use hard anodized or cast iron cookware so you can cook without much or no oil. I would recommend not to use Teflon coating nonstick pans and they tend to peel and Teflon is chemical you do not want to mix with your food.
  18. Many of us waste food, myself included when we buy too much or cook too much. Learn to either share it with friends, neighbors, family or homeless shelter. You can also learn how to preserve food to make it last longer.
  19. If you’re cooking in cast iron pan, take out the food after cooking to avoid discoloration due to metal reacting to food.
  20. Eat healthy and filling salads, with veggies, bread, pasta and beans. Who says salad has be only greens? You can add more stuff to make it filling and rich with nutrients.
  21. Use whole grains whenever possible and avoid refined flours and food.
  22. Some fat are supposed to be good for you such as olive oil, avocado, corn oil, soybean oil and canola oil. Still use it sparingly.
  23. You can use cooked and pureed potatoes, cauliflowers for thickener in soup and sauces instead of corn starch or other thickeners.
  24. You can saute food in little water instead of oil sometimes. Or use little oil.
  25. You can replace high fat cheese in recipe such as ricotta to low fat cottage cheese. I have done it and people have hardly noticed. In similar way, I use tofu instead of Paneer (Indian Cheese) to make stews and curries. You can tell the difference in taste a little but it still comes out great.
  26. Key to cooking with tofu is to marinate the tofu for 3 hours to over night. Otherwise tofu is so bland and does not taste good. When tofu has absorbed the flavor it will be liked by all, including kids.
  27. We do not use eggs, so when I bake or cook any recipe that calls for egg, I use vegan egg replacer, which is healthier, lower fat, socially feels right.
  28. Eating and cooking at home does not need to be fancy or expensive, there are a few ways you can make 99 cents noodles look and taste like a gourmet meal.
  29. You can replace high fat sour cream and mayo with low fat or no fat yogurt in soup, dip or sauces.
  30. Whenever possible cook at home from scratch. It will be more healthier and some of the food can be cooked around 30 minutes. If you’re looking for ideas check out cookbooks for fast cooking ideas.
  31. If you’re short on time like I am sometimes, I get help from grocery store which I call semi-home made cooked food. This where I get some ingredient prepared from store but I do some cooking or addition to make food like what we like. For example, I get frozen pizza dough or frozen pizza shell then all I have to add is sauce, veggies and cheese.
  32. If you eat out follow these 20 tips when you eat out so you can be kind to your waist and your wallet.
  33. We have stopped eating at fast food places, except a few one such as Quiznos and In and Out Burger that we like and we could not be happier and bit healthier.
  34. Try out some new food that you have never tried, be it new fruits or new ethnic food. You might be surprised and like it. There are many ethnic food such as Thai, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Indian (including popular Italian, Chinese, Mexican) restaurant have many vegetarian, vegan choices.
  35. Last but not least, walk and exercise by doing simple things such as parking a car in little further from your office or school. Taking stairs instead of elevator. Dance silly with kids for fun. Think happy healthy thoughts!

I am sure, there are more ways to eat healthy that does not feel like climbing mountain or so hard. Do you have your favorite to share?


101 Changes: Change 14: Try New Food -How To Use Pomegranate Fruit

I am writing a series of 101 small changes that we can make to make the quality of our life better and build and lead a happier life that is in tune with our heart and mind. These are small changes that I have made and am working on now, so I know they are possible for anyone to do.

If you have not read previous posts, check out a few posts on the changes from the past:

101 changes: Change 13: Reduce Eating Fast Food

101 changes series:


Pomegranate fruit or its juice is popular in India and other part of Asia. In US, many people seem to know and drink POM juice bottles, which seems to be popular among some health conscious people. However, fresh Pomegranate fruits are easily available in even regular store and can be used in variety ways in cooking for its nutrition. One of my friend wanted to try eating fresh fruit but did not know how to cut and use in recipes or even making a juice at home.  While cutting open Pomegranate fruit is not complicated, it can be messy and its juice can stain your clothes and sometimes even counter top. So, taking some minor precautions will make this task much simpler and easier.

About Pomegranate Fruit:

Pomegranate fruit is native to Iran and used in Asian areas such as northern India and Himalayas region. It is now cultivated in California and Arizona area. There are several varieties of Pomegranate with flowers and without fruit which are grown for its red flowers looks. Usually fruit is size of large lemon or grapefruit size. One fruit can hold anywhere from 300 to 1500 seeds, depending on size.

Health Benefits of Pomegranate:

  • Used in Aryuvedic medicine for traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites.
  • Its juice is used in Aryuvedic medicine for stopping nose bleeding and gum bleeding.
  • It is also used for firming-up sagging breasts and treating hemorrhoids
  • Some use the juice as eye drops for cataracts
  • It supposed to help reduce the heart disease risks
  • It provides Vitamic C, B5, Potassium and other flavonoids
  • Pomegranate is high in fiber which is best for digestion

Where  and how Pomegranate can be used in cooking?

Pomegranate juice and seeds both can be used in various ways in savory or sweet recipe dishes. Juice can be drank, reduced to make syrup as gravy on top. Seeds can be used in salad, chutney, curry sauce, as a garnish on soup and stews. Dried Pomegranate seeds can be used in dry cereal or making granola bars, topping on yogurt, frozen yogurt and so on.

How to Open or Peel Pomegranate fruit?

  1. I usually cut the small crown on top of the fruit first to make it easier.
  2. Score Pomegranate in four quarters with sharp knife, do not worry about breaking the seeds.
  3. Put all four pieces in bowl filled with cool water, one at the time.
  4. Softly take out seeds by gentle hand touch to dislodge seeds from the cut pieces.
  5. Once out seeds should sink and other fruit part will float.
  6. Take out the floating parts and drain the water and take out seeds.
  7. Place wet pomegranate seeds on to paper towel to pat dry
  8. Now it can be used to be eaten raw or in any recipes as you desire.
  9. You can keep those fresh pomegranate seeds in fridge for 4-5 days.
  10. Add to Salad, juice can be added in to dressing, garnish on yogurt, soup, stew, pasta, couscous or in vegetables.

For those of us who are busy can buy frozen Pomegranate seeds or dried Pomegranate seeds delivered to your home, or ask skilled friend or mom to do it for you. I like those fresh Pomegranate seeds, it looks so much like small bright ruby stone that you can eat and are cheaper than real ruby gems!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and so always check with your doctor and its facts before trying out at your own judgement and risk.

Salad Image source: http://www.realepicurean.com

Other Image source: Wikipedia, imgfave

No Spend Month Update

In past couple of years I have done “No Spend Month” Challenge where my family of 4 spent about $300 on daily expenses, not counting mortgage/rent, utility and phone bills. One year I did great and another I did not. This time, I am going to be out of town traveling during month of July, hence decided not to do “no spend month challenge” this time.

If you are curious about it check out past few years post to see weekly updates and how I fared below; If you decide to go through this challenge, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. It is always easy to do this with a friend or online friend support.

Learning from No Spend Month Challenge and Experiment:

I have learnt a few things from being stay at home, Zenguy being out of work for 22 months and doing this experiments for a few years;

  1. Using cash made me aware what I was spending
  2. Credit card usage made me spent more and did not realize where money went, until bill came
  3. Writing down daily expenses, including small 50 cents expenses made me more frugal
  4. Cooking at home is always cheaper, faster and healthier
  5. Kids did not even know anything was a miss, they simply enjoyed it.
  6. Money does not make life better, there are lot of simple things that makes us happy
  7. Library has great resources for entertainment such as new books, movies and even music CDs to enjoy
  8. Paying down bills made me more happy then spending it on luxury item at the end
  9. It is not money but how we feel about money makes difference in our life
  10. Knowing I spent less and was able to control my “I deserve it”, made me learn patience in life
  11. Reading  how to save money books surely gave me ideas on ways to save in my daily life without feeling the pinch.
  12. Finding new ways to make money from home or start blogging to supplement income also helps.

No Spend Month Challenge (2011)

No Spend Month Challenge Take Away and Lessons
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4
No Spend Month -July 2011: Update 3
Upgrading Inexpensive Food In to Gourmet Meal: Ramen Noodle Hacks
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2 and Savings Tips
  No Spend Month Challenge: July 2011- Update 1
No Spend Month Challenge: July 2011

No Spend Month Challenge (2010)

No Spend Month Challenge: Update and Take away from the experiment
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 3
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2
  No Spend Month Challenge: Update 1
No Spend Month challenge: July

Question for you:

How are you saving money now?

Chocoholic Cookies From Martha Stewart

Chocoholic Cookies

Are you or someone in you know is chocoholic like me? Many girls and woman I know tend to love chocolates. You can indulge your chocolate lover friends and family with home made cookies that are perfect for Christmas potluck dinner, or make a perfect gift from heart that is not too hard on your wallet.

I will admit, I am little better than average cook and not so great baker, so I am experimenting baking things and experimenting. I got this recipe selection from Martha Stewart Cookie Collection and changed it a bit to make to my taste as a vegetarian person.

This cookies are great for Christmas time as well any other times, we may have sweet craving. You and your loved one will enjoy these delightful cookies as it blends cocoa powder and coffee flavors in it.

Chocolate Espresso Coffee Cookies Recipe

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps: This cookies looks like little snow covered brown hills. These cookies will stay fresh about a week in air tight container. If you still have left over cookies after 5 days, call your chocoholic girl friends to help you finish it and make some more.

Time needed:

  • Prep: 45 Minutes
  • Total: 1 hour and 45 minutes


  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso or strong instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted Margarine or vegan butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • Egg Replacer for 1 egg, or Use 1 over ripe mashed banana
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon soymilk
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for coating

How to Make Cookies:

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In another bowl mix with an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in mashed banana until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate.
  3. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in soymilk until all if mixed well.
  4. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  6. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
  7. Pour confectioners’ sugar (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.
  8. Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch.
  10. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
  11. Share it with friends and family. But before you share, first make sure you eat some.

Important Note:

These cookies crack in oven while baking, it is supposed to, so do not worry. It will make rustic look like snow covered hill.

If you want to check out More recipes check out more Recipes here.

How To Make Baba Ganoush: Eggplant Recipe

Easy Party Appetizer

If you love cooking or not, making this recipe is fairly easy for any one. Baba Ghanoush can add a great flavor to any party and it’s easy and quick to make. Sometimes I roast eggplant in oven and sometimes when I am in hurry, I use my toaster oven to roast the eggplant in high heat. It cooks up fast. It is vegan recipe so it is great for vegan, vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

You need to add Tahini, Garlic, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and put in food processor to coarse constancy or fine pureed dip per your taste. Add extra garnishing touch with Cilantro and olive oil and you’re done. It is that simple. You can serve it with pita or bread.

Around the World: Interesting Tidbits

There are similar dishes made from grilled eggplant similar to “Baba Ganoush” around the world, eaten and loved by many people.

  • In Palestinian homes, it is made with wild eggplant from the Arabic meaning ‘of the earth.’ It is made with tehina, olive oil, lemon and parsley.
  • In Lebanon, baba ghanoush is a starter or appetizer and quite famous dish eaten everyday.
  • In Egypt it is mostly served as a side-dish or salad. It is made of aubergine with finely diced onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables mixed inside it.
  • In Israel, both the traditional version made with tahina and a variation made with mayonnaise is eaten.
  • Also in Greece, it is called melitzanosalata(meaning “eggplant salad”).
  • In Romania, the eggplant spread is called “Salată de vinete” (eggplant salad).
  • In India and Pakistan it is known as “Baigan Bharata”, it is made with grilled charred long eggplant, with onions and tomatoes.
  • There is also Bulgarian eggplant salad/spread, called kyopolou.

Baba Ganoush Recipe:


3 long thin eggplant or 1 large eggplant

1 tsp.grated lemon peel (about half a lemon, outer rind only)

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs minced garlic or 3 garlic cloves

2 TbS. Tahini (found at health food stores)

Salt and Pepper per taste

Olive Oil as Needed about 2-3 Tbs

Finely chopped Cilantro for garnish

6 or so Pitas, or crackers or other bread


1. Sliced the eggplants in to thin disc if using large eggplants. If you are using long thin ones, slice it in half on long side.

2. Put some olive oil all over the eggplant, salt and pepper.

3. Put Eggplants on foil for easy clean up. You can use oven or toaster oven to roast the eggplants.

4. Roast until eggplant skin is charred and feel soft to touch, turning the eggplant over once. It can be 20-40 minutes, depending on size of eggplants and type of oven you may have.

5. Take it from oven, let it cool. Peel the skin or keep it. It is up to you. I usually leave skin as it is for rustic flavor.

6. Roughly hand chopped the eggplant and put in food processor or blender.

7. Add Grated Lemon peel, Lemon Juice, Garlic Cloves, Tahini, Salt as needed and Olive oil and puree until smooth as you like.

8. Take out mixture in to shallow dish or serving bowl.

9. Drizzle more olive oil, peperika and finely chopped cilantro for garnish.

10. Serve at room temperature, with toasted pita triangles, crackers, or other breads.

How to Make Video:

For those who like visual learning of how to Baba Ganoush, here is video of how to make it. I make it often at home, but my skills at video and picture taking are so minimal, I always leave to professional!

Enjoy and check out other food and recipe posts from Heart and Mind:

We are what we eat, really!

How to Make Best Ever Chai-Tea at Home

Best Pressure Cooker and Canner

How to Preserve Food

Image source: Source

Other source: Wikipedia, My Middle eastern Friend Abeed

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes

One of the best thing about having a vegetarian and vegan thanksgiving is healthy and animal and specially turkey may thank you for not eating them. I am vegetarian since birth so it comes easy to me but even if you are occasional vegetarian or vegan, you can have a great, healthy and delicious food fiesta during thanksgiving.

Also check out:

101 Changes: Change 10: Eat Like Vegetarian

Are you a silent Vegetarian?

We are what we eat

I am sure, these recipes will be loved by herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore alike.

Cranberry Chutney:


1 tbsp. margarine or olive oil
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 lb. (about 4 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup packed light brown sugar,or Maple Syrup
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger (peel the skin off)
¼ tsp. ground allspice
1 green apple,  finely chopped


Heat the sauce pan over medium heat, add margarine or olive oil. When margarine melts or oil gets hot, add celery and onion, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10-12 minutes. Add cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, apple, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil.

Keep stirring until cranberries gets mushy and release their juices, for 15 minutes or so. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until berries are tender and chutney is the consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour. You can grind the chutney to fine paste once cool or eat as it is for chunky taste.

Corn Chowder Soup


1 medium to large butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
One 32-ounce carton vegetable broth or water
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (can use fresh basil leaves0
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (can use fresh thyme)
2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked fresh  corn kernels (about 3) or thawed frozen corn kernels
1 cup soy milk, or as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, or more, to taste


Slice the squash  into small dice. You can pre-bake squash to make cutting easier . Heat the oil in a soup pot. Once oil is hot, add onion and celery and sauté over medium heat until the onion is golden brown. Add the diced squash and diced sweet potato to pot. Add enough stock or water to cover all but about an inch of the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, then add the bay leaves and other seasonings. Simmer gently, covered, until the squash and potatoes are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Add cooked corn and soy milk to bring our thickness or chunkiness in the soup. Season with salt and pepper and simmer again for 15 minutes and serve hot.

I like to use potato masher to mash the big pieces a little while in pot. You can puree half soup if you like, just make sure you puree soup when it is cold. Hot soup never should be pureed unless you want to redecorate your kitchen later 😉

Stir in the finely chopped cilantro just before serving.This may also be cooked a day ahead and refrigerated, since its flavor develops nicely overnight.

Rice Pilaf with Corn and Walnuts

Image Source: neelscorner.com


1 1/2 cups basmati or any long grain rice
1 vegetable bouillon cube, broth
1/4 cup roasted walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cups cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin, or more, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Cook basmati rice in large pot of broth or with vegetable Bolivian in water. Put 2 cup water or broth or each cup of long grain rice. Cook until all water is absorbed. You can cook rice in rice cooker for easy cooking as well. Toast walnuts on oven or nonstick pan.  Set it aside. Heat the oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until golden. Stir in the corn kernels and continue to sauté until the onion begins to brown lightly. Stir the cooked rice into the corn mixture along with the scallions, chopped cilantro, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the toasted walnuts. Serve hot.

Spinach and Orange Salad:

Image source: Food network


1 pack loose leaves baby spinach
2 cups thinly shredded red cabbage
1 medium red onion sliced thinly
3 small seedless oranges, such as clementine, peeled and sectioned
1/2 medium cucumber thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or as desired
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


In large salad bowl, combine the spinach, cabbage, red onions, oranges, cucumber, and almonds in a serving bowl and toss together. Dress as desired with oil and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Mix gently and serve.

Coconut-Pumpkin Soup

Image Source: Cookbook cover


2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium green sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
1 14 ounce can unsweetened light coconut milk
1 14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 medium fresh jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro or parsley


In a large saucepan, cook carrots, sweet pepper, and onion in hot oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until vegetables are nearly tender. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, coconut milk, and broth. Stir in brown sugar, jalapeno pepper, salt, and ginger. Stir pumpkin mixture into cooked carrot mixture.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently. Before serving, stir in cilantro.

Marbled Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies

Marbled Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies

Source: Pumpkin Recipes


3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar or maple syrup
egg replacer powder for 5 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger1
tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup butter, cut up
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking pan with oil. In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese and the 1 tablespoon butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until well combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in 1 egg replacer, the pumpkin, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the cinnamon, and ginger until combined. Stir in the 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the 1-1/4 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large saucepan combine the chocolate and 3/4 cup butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Gradually add the 2-1/4 cups sugar, beating with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Add the additional 4 egg replacer powder, . Beat in milk and the 2 teaspoons vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture just until combined.

Spread chocolate mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture in several mounds on top of the chocolate batter. Using a narrow metal spatula, gently swirl the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate batter. If desired, sprinkle with walnuts. Bake about 60 minutes or until center is just set when pan is gently shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Use foil to lift uncut brownies out of pan. Cut into brownies.

Also check out: How to Make Baba Ganoush: Eggplant Dip Recipe

Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy and Enjoy!

Recipes adopted from Zengirl, Veg Kitchen, Pumpkin Recipes


This entry was posted in Cooking.