Tamarind and Chick Peas

9🎶  THREE’S  THE  CHARM  🎶  
(1) TAMARIND (2) SPINACH (3) CHICK PEAS
I had this dish years ago, without all the spices and was not impressed.  The spices in this recipe enhance the key flavour of  the tamarind.  Surprisingly, the 3 jalapeño peppers are not hot in this dish.  An EASY 30 MINUTE meal packed with protein and flavour.  Leftovers makes a great lunch at the office!  Another  winner!


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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp nigella seeds
1½ tsp fennel seeds  ( or  anise seeds)
1 medium onion ( chopped )
400 g can chopped tomatoes (san marzano)
3 green jalaeño peppers, seeded and cut into quarter lengths
2-3 tsp monk fruit sweetener ( or stevia, truvia, etc. )
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
410 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp tamarind paste ( adjust to taste )
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
half a 250g/9oz bag of organic baby spinach leaves
Serving suggestion:  natural yogurt and chapatis

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the nigella and fennel seeds for about 10 second. Add the onion and cook gently for 8-10 minutes until golden.

2. Mix in the tomatoes,  jalapeños,  sweetener ( Monk fruit ), paprika, turmeric and  chickpeas. Bring to a boil,  then simmer for 10 minutes.  Make sure your dish is stew-like; not too dry. Add water if needed.

3. Stir in the tamarind and coriander. ( (You need to do a taste test here. Add more tamerind to get  that tamerind sweet and sour flavour).  Add the spinach leaves and stir gently until they’ve just wilted. You can serve as a main course with yogurt and chapatis or as a side dish.

Tamarind paste

Tamarind Paste

Tamarind Chick Peas

Tamarind and Chick Peas

COOKING TIP:  Before starting to cook, do all your chopping and rinse out the chick peas. Check your spice rack to make sure you have all your spices  measured and placed in  small dishes. ahead of time. This “mise en place”  technique makes cooking time much faster.

WARNING: Do not buy tamarind without reading the ingredients on the label. I bought tamarind in a bottle at the grocery store. I neglected to read the label as I was in a hurry. The main ingredient was syrup. Tamarind was the fourth ingredient! I was disappointed. Do not accept substitutes or a bogus spice seller that claims to be tamarind. Without ‘true’ tamarind, this recipe is so – so. I soaked my tamerind block in water  took the seeds out and ladled the liquid into the dish. ( About 1 cup ) The difference was like night and day.

DID YOU KNOW? The recipe for WORCESTERSHIRE Sauce contains tamarind?  The one ingredient that sets Worcestershire sauce apart  is tamarind  fruit. The sweetness in this fruit  is balanced by its high content of acid, giving it that sweet-sour taste.

TAMARIND is a condiment, a spice and a fruit. Its extract, which tastes deliciously tangy, is one of the most highly valued foods in Asian and Indian cuisine. ( Origin: Africa )

TAMARIND contains an impressive amount of essential minerals such as thiamine, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Some of its other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, fiber and pyridoxine.

Tamarind treats both constipation and diarrhea naturally by increasing the effectiveness of the digestive tract.  Tamarind has long been considered a natural laxative.  It stimulates your metabolism and also keeps your digestive system strong and improves blood circulation. Good for weight loss. Boost your immune system. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Tamarind Pods and Beverage

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Swedish Red Cabbage and Apples

animated-swedish-flagA traditional dish served during the Christmas season in Sweden. Pair the Swedish red cabbage and apples  with Finnish meatballs  or as a side dish with just about anything.  A bright and colourful addition to your festive holiday dining! Easy to make in advance. This dish is actually better the next day.  Enjoy your red cabbage/apple dish in the summer since it is equally delicious served cold.  Any leftovers will disappear quickly from your fridge.
Note: I have used olive oil instead of the traditional butter, so you can served cold. Yumm!!!

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cabbage-ingredientsINGREDIENTS
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 organic Granny Smith, Macintosh or other slightly tart apples
1 large onion, chopped
1 red cabbage (1 lb. before trimming)
3 Tablespoons sweetener
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon red currant or hot pepper jelly
salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot.
2. Add chopped onions and saute until translucent on medium low heat.
3. While they are cooking, peel and chop the apples and add to the onions stirring occasionally.
4. Remove the inner core of the cabbage and roughly chop. Add to the onions and apples and cook for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low if it is boiling.
5. Add the salt, vinegar, spices, and sugar substitute. Cook covered for 10 minutes.
6. Add wine and jelly and cook uncovered for 5 minutes longer.

I try not to overcook this dish as texture is a very important part of food appreciation.  Crunchy and chewy textures slow you down and help you eat more deliberately and more joyfully.

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didyouknowRed cabbage is an excellent source of vitamins C and K and a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It is also a good source of vitamin B1, B2, calcium, vitamin A and protein.  One cup of boiled cabbage has just thirty-three calories.  Cabbage is good for reducing your risk of cancer and possibly of Alzheimer’s disease.  In the laboratory, red cabbage protects against oxidative stress in the brain, reducing the buildup of plaque and again reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.  Also, a Chinese study found that women who ate the most cruciferous vegetable such as cabbage were at half the risk for breast cancer as those who ate little or none.

Tasty Cucumber Salad

This Dill~Cucumber Salad recipe is so easy and simple to make with just a few ingredients.  It is very refreshing and delicious in summer and equally as good during the winter months.

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Chilly Dilly Cucumber

An excellent salad  to accompany those tasty Finnish meatballs, meatloaf, smoked salmon and as a side dish for any meal.  I brought the cucumber salad to my neighbour’s place.  We had this salad with smoked salmon, capers, lemon, cream cheese and rye crackers.  The cool cucumber salad cuts the richness of the smoked salmon in a most pleasant way.  Since we are all of different nationalities, we discussed and critiqued other country’s versions of  cucumber salad. The election was over after we counted the votes. My Dill~Cucumber Salad won!
Chilly Dilly cucumber will not be making any speeches. However, his winning secret is in the dill ~ a subtle, delicious flavour that really enhances the cucumber.

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INGREDIENTS
1 medium cucumber thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar substitute
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons  avocado or salad oil
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INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Mix the vinegar, water, sugar substitute, salt and oil together and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar substitute
2.  Add the dill and cucumber slices.
3.  Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavours meld.
IMG_1526didyouknow TOP SEVEN ALKALINE FOODS: The cucumber is one of the most alkaline foods  (#3) that you can eat.  Combined with the  effect of the apple cider vinegar, it will help to make you body alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH when you are eating acidic proteins.  Both meat and even fish and chicken are acidic.  Your body wants to stay alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH to stay healthy along with fighting off and prevent disease.  Eat your veggies!

BONUS: This is a very tasty cucumber salad recipe!  Until you make this cucumber recipe perhaps for the first time, you will know what you have been missing!  My taste testers (friends) tell me all the time.  You will make this salad again and again!
HEALTHY OIL
This salad contains 2 tablespoons of healthy oil, which is my variation to the traditional Finnish cucumber salad. Not only does it prevents the cucumber slices from sticking together it is so good and healthy for you. If you recall the  true story about Lorenzo’s oil. (actually containing two specific long chain fatty acids, isolated from rapeseed oil and olive oil)  will know the miracle of oils.  We don’t know everything about food/medicine. Some people have a shot of oil in the morning to start their day!

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CUCUMBER TIPS and benefits!

Pumpkin Risotto ~ Thanksgiving Vegetarian Style!

This is a vegetarian dish! But, if you eliminate the cheese, this would make an excellent vegan dish.

It started a few years ago….

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While having dinner with my serious foodie friends. I scrunched my nose when one friend ordered pumpkin risotto for their main course

We would all have a taste of everyone’s main on our bread plates before we started.
 The Pumpkin Risotto was the winning dish!


Ingredients

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Include Fresh ‘Pie’ Pumpkin

Pumpkin Risotto

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: medium
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INGREDIENTS
2Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carnaroli rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup apple cider
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups diced fresh ‘pie’ pumpkin
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup walnut pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat 4 cups of vegetable stock. Keep warm.
2. In a large heavy bottomed pan with high sides, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, about 1/8 teaspoon as the onions become sweet tasting. This helps to layer the flavours.
3. Add carnaroli rice and cook a few minutes longer to coat all rice kernels in oil but not browning.
4. Add wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.
5. Add apple cider and ladle in hot stock one cup at a time.
6. Add ‘pie’ pumpkin, sage and thyme and cook until all liquid is absorbed. About 18 minutes. (Mix, but do not keep stiring)
7. Before serving add walnuts, salt and pepper (to taste), olive oil and grated parmigiano.

Every fall Pumpkin Risotto is on the menu. The flavour is stunning!  You would swear that there is butter and cream in this risotto but it is completely absent.
Carnaroli Rice: This is partially due to the cooking method as well as the substitution of the classic arborio rice with CARNAROLI Rice.

COOKING TIP 👨‍🍳
Most chefs will argue the cooking time should be only 18 minutes. A chef’s school instructor told me that the famous chef who’s pumpkin risotto I fell in love with lets his risotto sit and cook without stirring. At the end he just gives the risotto a toss. So far, I have been reluctant to try this method as I have put so many good ingredients in it. One day? 

Make sure that you buy edible pumpkins and not the ones that are meant for carving.  Pumpkins belong to the winter squash family along with butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash.  Pumpkins grown for eating  ( not carving )  are  called: sugar pumpkins, sweet pumpkins, cheese pumpkins, pie pumpkin & some heirloom varieties.

TASTE TEST Results You Need To Know: I baked fresh pumpkin in the oven for 60 minutes at 350F.  After it was baked and cooled, I opened a tin of pumpkin puree and tasted both of them.  What a difference!  The tinned pumpkin had a muddy taste while the ‘pie’ pumpkin tasted divine!  I vow to never buy tinned pumpkin again!

Pumpkin has many health benefits. They are a great source of carotene which is one of our major antioxidants that helps to protect us against certain kinds of cancer (particularly lung cancer) and heart disease. Pumpkin aids in blood sugar metabolism and the health of the pancreas. Along with the vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is helpful in the relief of bronchial asthma, and promotes healthy lungs and throat. European folk medicine acknowledges pumpkin as a remedy for respiratory and digestive ailments.

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Ratatouille ~ With Pizzaz

I am so in love with the beautiful flavour of the fresh tomatoes that linger on in the season that I had to make some to enjoy them.  So I decided to make ratatouille.   In the beginning of the process the eggplant got charred to carbon in  literally minutes in my Vulcan convection air oven.  So not to give up I moved to a frying pan and made the ratatouille anyway substituting poblano peppers for the eggplant.  My Italian friend said it was the best ratatouille she had ever had!  Gone was the bitterness that was imparted by the eggplant and the heat of the poblano was not really noticeable.  It added just a background of mild heat and umami if you will.  We used this as an accompaniment for our meal and as a filling for our omelets the next morning.  Yummy!  Here is the recipe. Yet another healthy sugar free, gluten free one.
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INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
2 zucchini
1 tablespoon lemon thyme
1 yellow bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
2 tomatoes (skin removed)
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INSTRUCTIONS

1)  Dice and saute onion in oil a few minutes until translucent
2)  Dice and add garlic and saute for a few minutes longer
3)  Dice zucchini and add to pan  along with the lemon thyme
4) Next add diced yellow and poblano peppers and saute a few minutes longer
5)  Dice the tomatoes and add to the pan.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook a few minutes longer.
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The resulting ratatouille will taste more like vegetables and is not dripping in tomato sauce.  It lacks the bitterness that eggplant imparts.  It is so fresh, tasty and versatile.  Serve it with your meal, in your lasagna,  and in your omelets.  Adding this with cheese to your morning omelet will also enhance the flavours and it is great for single servings and it has multipurpose uses.  This is for the “who’s- got-time?” – to cook – crowd  but we want to eat tasty and healthy food!

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