Shiro is a Gujarati sweet dish made for many celebratory occasions. My mom makes a very special chocolate version that is really unique – I don’t know any other Indian auntie that makes it this way so I consider this recipe a rare treat 🙂 My mom used to make chocolate shiro any time my brother and I weren’t feeling well and it was such a delicious pick-me-up. Recently my husband was feeling under the weather so I asked him if he wanted shiro and his face lit up and just the thought of it seemed to make him feel better. One really interesting thing about Indian food is how a base ingredient like semolina can easily become something sweet or savory (see Upma recipe). This shiro recipe is unique with the addition of chocolate chips – traditionally it is only spiced with cardamom, some golden raisins, and sliced nuts (cashews/almonds). Enjoy! (more…)
The War on Sugar
Recently, I heard a story titled “From Detox To Elimination Diets, Skipping Sugar May Be The Best Bet” on All Things Considered (NPR). It’s amazing how many times I’ll talk to patients about their dietary habits and the variety of things they tell me – the worst I have heard so far is someone drinking 2 liters of Mountain Dew every day. Many of them have Type II Diabetes or are obese and have tried a variety of ways to lose weight: no red meat, only meat/no carbs, vegan, etc. It’s also amazing how little information there is on the health benefits of each of them as seen in this article: Science On Diets Is Low In Essential Information. I am vegetarian and my husband as a result eats mostly vegetarian with some chicken/fish/pork scattered throughout the week but the only real dietary limitation we place on ourselves is sugar consumption. We love an occasional ice cream or dessert but everything in moderation. (more…)
Mushroom Barley Soup
My exposure to mushrooms as a kid was mostly mushrooms on pizza – which I could not stand. After about 15 years of thinking I hated mushrooms I came across this recipe for Mushroom Barley Soup. I decided to give mushrooms another go because I love barley and thyme. I am so glad I did because when served with a delicious chunk of warm crusty bread, this is one of my favorite cold weather dishes! (more…)
Spicy Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa
One of our favorite dinners (especially on a rare cold evening in Texas) is this veggie chili with quinoa. I have tried a few variations on chili using soy substitutes like meat crumbles, but we like quinoa in it the best. You can easily substitute the quinoa with meat crumbles, just saute the crumbles with the onions and garlic in the first step and you’ll have a chili texture that is thicker and more like the real deal. When I have a little extra time I make cornbread following either of these recipes: Homesteader Cornbread (takes about 1 hour) or Golden Sweet Cornbread (takes about 35 min). Enjoy!
Veggie Egg Bake
This simple recipe is one my favorites for a brunch with 4-6 people. It’s prepped the night before and when baked it puffs up into this deliciously light and fluffy savory cloud. This recipe is from my mother-in-law who never fails to make the best brunches ever. You can always add cut up veggie/meat sausage if you want a little bit more protein or meaty flavor. My favorite is this one.
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower
This is a recipe that I created after seeing a bunch of posts about roasting cauliflower. I love Indian flavors that have a little sweetness with spice – Gujaratis are notorious for adding sugar to all of their savory dishes. This is a fun appetizer that has a slightly crispy texture. The sesame oil seems to blend the flavors a little bit better than olive oil but any vegetable oil will do. One head of cauliflower seems like a lot for just a few people but it shrinks down during cooking. My husband and I ate 1 cauliflower each when I first tried out this recipe. (more…)
Quinoa Black Bean Burger
I love veggie burgers but don’t enjoy the frozen varieties at the grocery store – some have a funny texture or after taste that keeps me from eating them. I also think that these are so easy to make and freeze that buying the other kind aren’t worth it! I usually start with the base of quinoa and black beans and add whatever veggies I have in the fridge. When freezing them I usually cook them and then place them in an air tight container spaced out on parchment paper. You can thaw them before cooking but I go straight from freezer to pan and they turn out great. Enjoy! (more…)
Sip All Day, Get Decay: Lemons
A popular trend for many people is drinking water with fresh squeezed lemon either in the morning or sipping it all day. Unfortunately, these diets and trends for ‘detox-ing’ aren’t supported by science and have led to an unfortunate rise in enamel erosion. The major positive is that drinking water (with or without lemons) keeps you hydrated but otherwise lemon in water doesn’t improve digestion, boost absorption of nutrients, nor does it really ‘detox’ your body.
Acidity in lemons reduces the surface hardness of tooth enamel and can cause erosion. If you brush your teeth soon after consuming the drink, the enamel is still soft and can easily erode. This enamel can never be replaced despite what the toothpaste commercials may purport. When it’s worn away, it exposes the softer underlying dentin (making the teeth look more yellow) and can cause sensitivity and cavities.
Minimize the risk of enamel erosion from acidic drinks:
- Limit the frequency of acidic beverages throughout the day.
- Try to limit acidic drinks to meal times only, to give the mouth a chance to restore to its optimal pH level
- Drink water frequently during the day to help wash away acid
- Don’t brush your teeth for at least half an hour to an hour after the drink
- Rinse your mouth out with water or eat something like cheese to neutralize the acidity
- Brush your teeth gently (don’t scrub hard)
- Use a straw to limit the drink’s contact with the teeth
- Chew sugar-free gum (this stimulates saliva which helps to neutralize the acidity)
Here’s a quick article about the medical side of the lemon water detox debate.
Upma (South Indian Savory Porridge)
Upma (pronounced ‘oop-maa’) is a traditional South Indian breakfast dish made from semolina or ‘sooji’. Recipes vary from household to household but this is my favorite way of making it. My mom would make this for me on Saturday mornings after dance classes especially in the winter and it made me feel cozy from the inside out. Semolina is similar to cream of wheat (aka farina) so you can use that instead of going specifically to an Indian grocery store for ‘Sooji’, however it may just turn out a little softer/smoother since it is further processed than semolina.
Perfect Mac and Cheese
One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is an ooey gooey rich creamy Macaroni and Cheese. I came across this Martha Stewart recipe and since then have tweaked it to be a little easier for me to make. I also doubled some of the spices for a little stronger flavor. This recipe is my favorite for potlucks around the holidays because it’s an instant crowd pleaser.