Category Archives: Food

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

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Quinoa is scary to some people. It seems like an intense health food, like the step before drinking wheatgrass for breakfast. But it’s surprisingly versatile, slightly nutty, and protein packed.
My mom is the one who developed this recipe, which makes sense, because she’s been cooking healthy foods since her 20s in the 1980s, back in that frightening time when everyone thought oils and fats were bad and nobody knew what hummus was (how could a world like this exist?! How did she survive without avocados and hummus?)

Try and delight! It’s my go-to snack option for between classes and before yoga when I need a vegetable packed salad that keeps well in the fridge.

Quinoa 
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The general rule is 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. Double check your packaging, but here’s the typical plan. You begin by bringing the water to a boil, add the quinoa, fluff and sprinkle in salt, then cover and turn down to a simmer or low heat for about 15 minutes – depending on type – read your instructions! – then fluff (what a delicious word for the process of using a fork like a shovel to gently scoop up and, well, fluff), then let sit for five or so minutes more.

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Salad Component 
Ingredients: 1 cucumber, 1/2 onion, 1 red pepper, 1/4 c. parsley

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Just chop and add to the quinoa

Dressing: mix 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt

Mix dressing, quinoa, and veggies together. Taste the health rainbow.

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Almond-Fig-Soy Dressing and The More than a Salad Salad

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The More than a Salad Salad: Cucumber, Red Pepper, Onion, Cilantro, Sesame Seeds, an Almond-Fig- Soy Sauce, and Brown Rice Foundation

The halls of Harvard are hallowed, but the dining halls are… embarrassingly void of delicious food. There are the pizza options, the fried food options, and the cheese covered-mystery meat options.
I usually make a salad. But dining hall salads too are disappointing, satisfying hunger without satisfying the tongue. Without good dressing, eating a salad means accepting that I am in fact eating a pile of vegetables.

What the world needs is a hero. A dressing hero to save me from the bland flavor of my own salads. I have made that hero.

“The embarrassing thing is that my salad dressing is out-grossing my films.”  – Paul Newman

Brown Rice

Ingredients:

1 c. brown rice

2 c. water

½ onion
½ tsp salt

1.  Soak the rice and drain to rid of excess starch

2. Cook onion with 1-2 tbs. olive oil until begins to turn gold (medium heat)

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3. Add the rice and 2 cups of water (medium heat)

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4. Bring water and rice to a boil, then drop temperature to a simmer and cover with a lid

5. Follow timing instructions of rice brand

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Salad Component

Ingredients:

1 cucumber

1 red pepper

½ onion

3 tbs. chopped cilantro

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1. Chop all the ingredients into small pieces and toss

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Almond-Fig- Soy Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbs. almond butter

1 tbs. fig jam (preferably made without added sugar)

1/4 c. lemon juice

2 tbs. water

3 tbs. Braggs amino acids or soy sauce

1 tsp. fresh ginger

1. Blend until creamy

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Toss ¾ of the rice, the vegetables, and the salad dressing and serve with 1 tbs. of sesame seeds

Hummus

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Literary thoughts on Hummus:

“My fatal flaw is hubris.”
“The brown stuff they spread on veggie sandwiches?”
“No, seaweed brain. That’s hummus. Hubris is worse.”
“What could be worse than hummus?”
– Rick Riordan, The Sea Monsters

Unlike Percy Jackson from The Sea Monsters, I personally love hummus, and veggie sandwiches.

I went to Israel two years ago and discovered that it was not the land of milk and honey that Biblical PR had led me to believe… it is the land of chickpeas, and the children of chickpeas, falafel and hummus.

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Yum. This was no deli board dip for vegetables. The hummus in Israel is a main attraction, somehow both more simple (they don’t do the “garlic lovin’ ” or “roasted red pepper” or “lemon coriander” flavored or altered styles we eat) and yet substantially more delicious.

So I ate hummus for lunch with pita, hummus for dinner as a side dish, and hummus for breakfast, because, hey! Why not?

But after so much joy, when I came home, I suffered. Hummus wasn’t the same. How could I ever be satisfied with the packaged brands of my youth?

So put down the plastic tub and consider making your own hummus, because I want to show you a whole new world.

I won’t claim I’ve listed the perfect hummus recipe below, oh no! this is only a formula for you to make your own. Go forth my favorite cooks and spread the word, we don’t have to be satisfied with store bought hummus anymore!

Hummus

1 cup. chickpeas (extra points if you’ve started with dry chickpeas and cooked them yourself)

3 tablespoons tahini

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbs. water (with the possibility of adding more for a thinner and creamier hummus)

½  -1 tsp. salt (taste taste taste!)

½ tsp ground cumin

1 clove garlic or ½ tsp. crushed garlic (optional roasting until golden, or add raw)

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

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Blend the ingredient together until the hummus reaches an incredibly smooth consistency. I’d let the blender or mixer run for at least two minutes.

Serve sprinkled with paprika and drizzled with olive oil

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Happy Bowl: Of Brown Rice and Veggies

Image“Not all those who wander are lost” J.R.R. Tolkien

I have been wandering, but am home again, this time in Harvard Square. What better way to settle into a new school year – the LAST school year *cue dramatic music* and a new apartment than with cooking?

Tonight I brought together many, many fresh ingredients to make this Happy Brown Rice Bowl. I admit that by the time you’ve chopped and cooked three or four vegetables and put together the romesco sauce, you may not feel as happy. But the Happy Bowl is delicious and the roasted sweet potato leftovers become morning egg scrambles. Worth it.

Happy Bowl

1 c. brown rice

2 sweet potatoes or 2 cups chopped butternut squash

2 c. spinach

1 tomato

2 onions

1 clove garlic

salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil distribution will be explained below

Begin with the sweet potatoes

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1. Wash two potatoes and peel if you wish

2. Chop into 1/2 inch cubes

3.  Toss the sweet potatoes in 1 tsp. salt and 2 tbs. of extra virgin coconut or olive oil

4. Bake at 350 for between 45 minutes to an hour (making sure to stir the potatoes halfway through cooking so they cook evenly) until softened and beginning to crisp up at edges

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Brown Rice Base

Quick cook rice takes about 15 minutes  while ordinary brown rice takes around 40. Check your rice instructions!

1. Soak 1 cup rice in water and stir, then drain to rid rice of excess starch – which can make it sticky

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2. Dice 1/2 onion and fry in a pot with 2 tsp. olive oil for two minutes

3. Add drained rice and two cups of water

4. Add 1/2 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp salt

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5. Bring water and rice to a gentle boil on medium heat, place lid on pot, and turn heat to simmer (following the timing directions for your rice)

Caramelized Onions

1. Chop 1 onion into thin slivers

2. Fry with 1-2 tsp. water for two minutes (you can begin with oil, but I prefer to use water in the beginning), then add 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil and allow to fry for five minutes, stirring and adding oil as needed to prevent burning. Image

3. Add 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp. of honey to increase sweetness and caramelization

4. Onions are done when they’ve turned a golden brown color and have lost much of their original size

Romesco Sause

Ingredients:

1 red pepper

2 tbs. basil

2 tbs. parsley

1/2 cup almonds

3 tbs. olive oil

1 clove garlic

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp each: salt, paprika, red chili flakes

pepper to taste

Blend, add extra oil or water to reach a thinner consistency if desired.

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Garlicky spinach recipe can be found here

https://dakotaroot.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/build-a-better-breakfast-with-spinach-three-ways-and-british-tomatoes/

Now CONSTRUCTION

fill a bowl with rice, layer with garlic spinach, caramelized onions, sweet potato (or butternut squash) chunks, diced tomato (I trust you to dice a tomato without guidance), and then, oh king of sauces, the Romesco.

Sit, smell, eat, enjoy.

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Baingan Bharta – Spicy Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Onions

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Baingan Bharta – Spicy Roasted Indian Eggplant

 With Oxford’s biggest boat racing on the river this weekend, it’s like we’ve all stepped into a romantic British novel. Silver skies, a dark blue river, and future members of Parliament sipping Pimms from the boathouses and screaming for their colleges. 

But even with summer just days away, the atmosphere is stormy and dramatic. Even the excitement of the races can’t make it warm and sunny.

When I want to feel sunny or warm, I cook something like this dish, with spicy peppers and brightly colored tomatoes and turmeric.

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

2 onions

5 tomatoes

3 green finger chilies (or 2 if they are big)

1-2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. red chili powder

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp. salt

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Step 1. Begin by roasting your eggplant at about 375 for 45 minutes until the skin is scorched and wrinkled.

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Step 2. Chop the onions, tomatoes, finger chilies, garlic, and ginger in preparation

Step 3. Heat 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and when hot, put in the cumin seeds. Allow to ‘pop’

(Note, heat should be about medium high)

Step 4. Add chopped onions to the cumin seeds, cook for about 2 minutes

(Note, I added an additional two tsp. of coconut oil at this point. You could add it at the beginning as well, but I prefer to keep some of my oil less cooked. You could also probably go without the extra oil if you want a healthier dish)

Step 5. Add the chopped garlic, ginger and finger chilies, stir and allow to cook about a minute

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Step 6. Add the turmeric, red chili powder, and diced tomatoes. Stir and cook for about 5-8 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down to a sauce-like consistency and the oil begins to separate from the mixture

Step 7. Cut your cooked eggplant in half and scrap the inside pulp into a food processor or blender. It should be soft and easy to remove from the skin. Blend the eggplant with the ½ tsp. of salt

Step 8. Add the eggplant pulp and the ½ tsp. of garam masala to the pan, stir in, and let cook for an additional 2 minutes so mixture comes together

*Taste and potentially add between a ½ tsp and a full tsp. more salt to taste

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Warmth in a bowl! To contrast with gray cloudy days. 

Build A Better Breakfast with Spinach Three Ways and British Tomatoes

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Spinach Three Ways and British Steamed Tomatoes

Ah, morning. Even if I’ll be doing the same things I did yesterday, it is a chance to start them over, do better, and feel like this library/essay/walk to town just might be more exciting than it has been the last 150 days. So how can I begin this day of infinite possibilities with a bowl of cereal?

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.  “What do you say, Piglet?”

    “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

    Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.  – A. MILNE, Winnie-the-Pooh

Yes, Winnie-the-Pooh understands that what we eat, especially in the morning, is intertwined with what kind of life we build for ourselves.

My first breakfast in England featured the two side dishes I will be bringing back with me: steamed spinach and steamed breakfast tomatoes. Below are three ways to make the spinach (which really can and should be eaten with any meal), and one way to make the simple, healthy, but incredibly delicious breakfast tomatoes.

British Breakfast Tomatoes

Ingredients:

Any number of tomatoes you desire (probably 2 per person)

Salt

Step 1. Fill a pot ¼ way up with hot water. Allow to boil. Prepare a small steaming colander

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Step 2. Add the tomatoes whole to the colander in the pot, (you should just remove the small circle where the stem attached at the top of the tomato). Put a lid on top and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft, slightly wrinkled, and the skin begins to come away from the flesh

Step 3. Peel away the skin, if it doesn’t want to come off, they weren’t cooked long enough

Serve whole with a sprinkle of salt

Spinach Three Ways (for any time a day)

Ingredients:

Between 2 and 3 cups of spinach (it will shrink as it cooks)

2 tsp. olive oil

The foundational step will always be to steam the spinach. I put it into a small steaming colander, and then put the colander into a pot filled ¼ way up with water, then put on a lid and steam for only 1 or 2 minutes. Goal is to have it half cooked, because you’ll giving it a quick fry in the pan later.

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And now? Infinite possibilities

Simple Chili Spinach

Ingredients:

2-4 green finger chilies

(After steaming the spinach)

Step 1. Heat a pan on medium, add 1 or 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil to a pan and add between 2 and 4 chopped green finger chilies (I typically would add 3 – just depends on how spicy you like your food) Allow the chilies to cook for a minute

Step 2. Add steamed spinach and salt, stir and cook together for 30 more seconds, and serve

Enjoy!

Simple Garlic Steamed Spinach

Ingredients:

1 small clove garlic

optional tsp. lemon juice

Step 1. Add the 1 or 2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil to a pre-heated pan. Add the chopped garlic clove and cook on medium for 1 to 2 minutes (depending on heat of the pan), or until any of the pieces begins to turn gold

Step 2. Add the spinach and salt, stir and cook together for 30 more seconds, and serve

Spiced Onion Spinach

Ingredients:

½ onion

1 green finger chili

½ tsp. cumin seeds (or ¼ tsp. cumin powder)

¼ tsp. red chili powder

¼ tsp. turmeric

salt

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(After steaming your spinach)

Step 1. Chop the onion and put it into a pre-heated pan or pot with about 2 tsp. water. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes on medium.

Step 2. Add the 2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil and the cumin seeds (if using cumin powder, don’t add it yet. Just add the oil) Allow to cook 1 minute more, then add chopped green chili. Cook 1 more minute

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Step 3. Add all the spices, and stir with salt to taste.

Step 4. Add steamed spinach, stir and cook together for 30 more seconds, and serve

Enjoy!

Bonus recipe, a quick way to make scrambled eggs more interesting!

Ingredients:

½ tsp cumin seeds

Just add the cumin seeds to 1 or 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil once the oil is hot enough to make the seeds ‘pop’.

Then scramble your eggs into the cumin seeds like you normally do.

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Voila! Excitement for breakfast!

Gujarati Style Daal

ImageCooking is a form of translation, where my taste begins converting flavors and traditions from another culture into my own recipes. Indian food my be my favorite, because the ingredients are so colorful, so spicy, and so filled with life. Inevitably though, I make changes, like adding an onion, dropping a spice I don’t have, or taking out the ever present ghee to make the dish dairy-free with coconut oil

Gujarati Style Daal

Ingredients:

1c. lentils (urid daal that has been presoaked in water for 2-4 hours)

4 c. water

1 onion

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 garlic cloves

4 curry leaves

2 tsp. ginger

3 finger chilies

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup pureed tomatoes (about 3)

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. hot chili powder

at least 1 and 1/4 tsp. salt

Step 1. Cook the 1 cup of lentils in 3 cups of water and a teaspoon of sea salt for 30 minutes, and then smash the lentils with a spoon (every lentil does not have to be smashed, but smash enough so you begin to get a creamy consistency)Image

Step 2. Cook 2 tablespoons of virgin/cold-pressed coconut oil, drop a cumin seed in when gets hot, if it pops (a sizzling, crackling noise) the oil is hot enough and you can add all the cumin seeds

Step 3. When the cumin seeds have ‘popped’ add the diced onionImage

Step 4. Let onion cook 1-2 minutes (you don’t want it to brown) and add the diced garlic, ginger, curry leaves, and finger chilies. Allow to cook for an additional minute

Step 5. Add the tomatoes (which you should have pureed in a blender or food processor), turmeric, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt

Step 6. When the tomato, onion, and spices mixture has cooked about 5 minutes more, add this mixture to the lentils. Stir and mash further.Image

Step 7. Add 1 cup additional water to the pot and let cook on low for 10 to 15 more minutes, until creamy.

Step. 8 Serve with chopped cilantro, rice, and some naan or chapati

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Note: If you taste the daal and you think “hmm, it needs something, but what is it?” Add a pinch more salt at a time until that question goes away. This lentil dish might just need a little extra salt to taste)