Pizza with spinach and red bell pepper

This is not any tough task, pizza is often an easy option no matter what. Among the plethora of flavors, spinach outshines everything. The delicious contrast offers a rather quality touch. So, for a change I decided to add only vegetables and cheese. My ruse to maintain the balance without hindering the taste or the texture.

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The picture I had in mind till date is the one that I happened to watch on Food Network a few years ago. But, to be honest it wasn’t that appealing at all to the eyes except the celebrity aha moment 🙂 Something then clicked though. I don’t know what. It’s the idea of adding loads of greens, may be.

Anyways, the colors and the charm, ‘two birds in one shot’  allows you to have a carefree and relaxed time! Recipe here.

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Healthy green rice

This rice is a whole package of nutrition and my all time favorite healthy green rice. Seemingly a simple ruse to hide most of the vegetables to keep the texture more appealing. Adding pureed vegetables would enhance the flavor and reduces the mushy texture of the rice.

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The delicious texture of the rice although I’ve added all those pureed veggies simply amazes any eyes! That’s the fact. In the end finish it with tomatoes, coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chilies to bring that authentic look!

Palak Paneer

Best loved and popular Punjabi Palak Paneer !

Originated in Punjab, this simple green textured dish outshines all the expensive and spicy spread on the table. Palak (means ‘Spinach’) paneer (Cottage cheese or Indian cheese) does it a lot ! Oh, yes, it grabs our attention pretty fast as we give special place for greens when it comes to food. As it says, necessity is the mother of invention, it occurred to me that definitely the excess amount in growth may have nudged them to try the paste form of this green grace. Luck would’ve it, the idea clicked and became one of the star dish…I’m a super fan of this ever since I tasted it:)

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Travelled from Punjab to various corners of the world , palak paneer has become everybody’s favorite -one of the best loved dishes and popular among all. Spinach packed with vitamins while paneer does the job to provide protein and calcium, equally good and healthy – yet delicious – for children and grownups alike. 

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In Atlantic Canada, I’ve couple of my non-Indian pals asked me about the blending of paneer and spinach. They wanted to learn the recipe and if possible they wanted a serious cooking lesson in my Indian kitchen. Since I had to show the preparation, I chose the best and easiest way to prepare this dish, slightly different than my normal approach. Well, things went well!  I was so darn surprised to see the outcome. So glad to know our Indian dish is so popular and well loved outside India as well.

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That being said, when it comes to food, I adore Indian cuisine, cherish everything about it. I respect the invention of special dishes like palak paneer or saag paneer and such. It’s such a delightful dish. The delicate cubes of paneer in velvety green sauce outshines all the non-vegetarian dishes. Pureed spinach provides a soothing as well as healing touch to the tummy if you’re more of a meat eater and adore spicy foods. This recipe is indeed a keeper.

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First and foremost, keep ready – 1 cup of cubed paneer – gently shallow fry for few seconds and keep it aside. This approach would give a nice texture and enhance the flavor of the dish.

Then the spinach. If you get rinsed and ready to eat spinach, even better since it reduces the rinsing and cleaning part. Just grab 3-4 handful of spinach and keep it aside.

Second step:
Oil 1 tbsp
Garam masala 1 tsp
Green chilies 2
2 tomatoes
3 – 4 handful of spinach, rinsed well

Heat oil in a pan and add garam masala and green chilies. After a few seconds once it’s aromatic, add green chilies. Saute it for few seconds. Add tomatoes, and then add the spinach. Cover it and cook it for few minutes until everything well blended and sort of like soupy texture. Turn the heat off. Allow it to cool down. Then puree the mixture.

Third step:
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp minced ginger/garlic
1 tsp kasuri methi, crushed finely
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp cream

Heat oil in a pan; add the spices including ginger/garlic. Saute it for few seconds in low heat. Add the spinach mixture. Stir well. Once it started bubbling, add the paneer cubes and adjust the salt. Just sprinkle some garam masala over and garnish with cream.

spinach falafel cutlets

Indeed a feast to the eyes; falafel fulfills everything you want for a meal or best to whomp up your weekend with family! It fits easily and comfortably both as a snack or even by itself as a meal. Delicious addition of vegetables and pickles on the side simply enhances the whole beauty and gives a healthy touch as well. Hence it makes falafel a must have in vegetarian menu. It  also provides sufficient protein portion.

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Unlike other fritters, the interesting fact I like about is its delicious dual texture. The consistent dark brown texture on the outside and the graceful green texture inside was quite intriguing to me. Honestly it took a while to get a good grip of processing the beans to frying some fantastic looking falafel cutlets. I would say, replacing parsley with spinach seems to be a great option. Two handful of fresh spinach is a big deal, indeed 🙂

Anyhow, now I’m quite good at preparing falafel at home. This post is purely intended to save the recipe and share the joy!  That being said, feel free to comment if you find anything less or more 😉

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Let me tell you, it won’t tolerate if you bend the rules – as I did in my earlier attempts – by adding more water to ease the stiffness and heedlessly adding flour to correct the discrepancies. Even though adding flour helps to some extent, the flaw reflects in the end result.

Instead, gently process the soaked chick peas batch by batch without adding water in the food processor and treat it nice and easy. If you wish you could switch spinach instead of parsley as I did. Hint of onion, ginger and green chilies, to spice it up a bit. As to give the shape, simply use your palm to give the beautiful falafel cut. It’s neither hard nor fun, but in the end it’s worth the effort. 

1 cup dried chick peas

2 handful of fresh spinach

1 small onion, sliced

2 green chillies, halved

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp baking soda, optional

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

In a large bowl, rinse and soak 1 cup of chick peas. You need enough amount of water to completely submerge the chick peas. Also, remember to level up the water every few hours as the beans tend to increase in volume. Soak it up around 8 hours or so.

After a quick rinse, drain the water off. Transfer the beans in a food processor or mixer, adding along fresh spinach, onion slices, green chillies, ground pepper, cumin seeds and salt. Pulse it until the mixture blends well to a coarser texture yet sort of smooth overall. Add just a hint of water when necessary. Too much water would hinder the right forming of the fritters while frying. Adjust salt and spices according to your taste.

Shaping into small patties are simple. Using a spoon, scoop spoonful of mixture, gently roll and shape the mixture in your slightly grease wet palm. Deep fry the patties in oil until golden brown. It may look green in the beginning after you dropped the patties in the hot oil. Allow it to reach the right texture and in the process it get cooked through as well.

Drain them on a paper towel. Serve with lots of greens and pickled vegetables and sides. Enjoy!

Sunshine green smoothie

Green smoothieThe day begins with a pleasant surprise, melodious and pleasant spring is here. A sigh of relief, finally!  Sun is already up in the sky shining in full glory. The land looks still the same, pristine and white snow silently on the ground still hanging around as if it has no plans to leave the stage any time soon.

There is no strong breeze – for the plants to sway in the rhythm -as it was a few days ago. Everything seems nice and warm, gentle and polite. All are being nice to winter since it allowed spring a grand welcome!

Today is the first day of spring, very beautiful and warm day, a nice change of season.  Even though there aren’t many colors to beautify the nature, the bright and warm day made everything perfect.

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Indeed an inspiration to try something new. For me today was a new start to begin my green smoothie journey. Grinding vegetables are not my cup of tea. I couldn’t imagine grinding a handful of spinach in a creamy form and pouring in a smoothie cup where I use only for alluring fruit smoothies with sweeteners and flavors.  

In order to make it more interesting and pleasing, before hand I thought of a plan to avoid any hint of fibers from the spinach, seeds from the flavoring fruits, etc. Everything worked great and the smoothie was indeed delicious and picture perfect.  Succeeded at the first attempt itself, and moreover, I convinced my three boys as well. Bingo! So I named it “Sunshine green smoothie” 🙂

Even though I opted out sugar or honey, the sweet flavor from the pineapple and strawberry made it sort of sweet to the senses. It reduces any kind of cravings for sweet snacks was a bonus. I’m glad I did it.

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 A handful of spinach

1 slice of avocado

½ cup of frozen pineapple chunks

2-3 pieces of strawberries

1 ½ cup of filtered water

In a blender, add frozen pineapple chunks first, then spinach, and the rest of the ingredients. Don’t add the whole amount of water in the beginning. Pour one glass first. Once everything blends well and in smooth puree form, add the rest of the water and extend the consistency.  Enjoy,

Chocolate chips spinach almonds and apple salad


Salads are like music to the body, a slice of garden to soothe and strengthen our overburdened stomach. It seems like eating a bowl of fresh raw greens a much needed process to make things go well with our health. Chocolate chips added an extra grace to the green texture and the bitter sweetness was a nice marriage when it combined with the dressing. The gentle chewy chips were sort of an entertainer to the taste buds. 

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Then thought why not a hint of Indian spices to jazz it up. Turmeric and cumin are two healthy spices we adore to add in our cooking. Hence it took the toll adding healthy touch to the dressing.

It is true that the more we indulge in nature, the more lively and energetic we become. That was one of the advice I took to my heart over the course of time. Eating salads in raw form is sort of letting our soul to embrace the nature. It does a lot of wonders to our health!

Today the efforts are comparatively less when it comes to sorting out and cleaning vegetables, mainly leafy vegetables. Back in my younger days my granny had to perform a tough task to rinse it multiple times to make sure the leaves are dirt free since the farmers sold it without doing any extra cleaning or such. Even though it took a lot of effort to get pristine and clean leafy vegetables, she valued the quality and good health. Thankfully, I’m following her so far quite nicely and successfully.

Fortunately, today it’s easy to skip few steps and have access to already – triple – washed vegetables and salad greens readily available at the store, if I prefer to. I take advantage of such benefits regularly often paying bit extra for a good cause especially when it comes to spinach. I’m a big fan of those boxed spinach :). 

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Chocolate chips spinach almonds and apple salad

This time, thought of having my favorite combination of spinach and –my next best favorite – apple along with almonds as a salad. With the company of  chocolate chips as the guest ingredient to make it more alluring. In the end, spinach the star ingredient and chocolate chips, the guest ingredient did an amazing job. The dressing tasted so good and well balanced. To my surprise, salad alone was darn filing! Indeed an amazing bowl of salad.

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Chocolate chips spinach almonds and apple salad

2 cups baby spinach
1 cup sliced apple
1/4 chocolate chips
1/4 cup almonds
Few walnuts

Dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed pepper
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp spicy ketchup
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp dry red chili flakes

First, as usual prepare the dressing. The delicious texture will nudge you and make things faster. Combine everything well and keep it in the refrigerator to chill the dressing. Next arrange the salad ingredients elegantly in the bowl. Toss with dressing. Enjoy!

Spinach and peach muffins

IMG_4792-03My first thought was to bake some muffins just to save those slices of peach I had in the refrigerator. Fruits like peaches tend to rot easily and are not safe to eat raw at that stage, hence the plan to bake muffins out of it. For a contrast I decided to add spinach to make it more appealing.  I love adding greens in anything to explore the possibilities… Well, without any doubt, spinach seemed to be a strong ingredient to go with my recipe. Oh, yeah, spinach and peach, rhymes beautiful, too!

On the contrary, my kids hesitate to indulge in any confection made out of spinach or vegetables in general.  So I had to be careful to keep the spinach away from their sight until it disappeared in the batter. Now that I’m obsessed with adding spinach also in the recipe I’m forced to have a backup plan, an alias for spinach. And I came up with an awesome alias!

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Luckily, no one was around to hinder the smooth flow whatsoever. Muffins were already in the oven doing its job, rising well without any cracking on top. Things were going nice and smooth. I was relieved to see the desired texture I had in mind.  Next I was in the process of taste testing and scanning through every aspects of it. Then there came that impending question from behind me: “What’s that green stuff in the muffins?” My son was right. The scattered green tinge was still there, of course a dire moment for me. Well, not so fast.. Oh, dear, that’s ‘green vanilla’ to enhance the texture and the taste of the muffins. It was prompt and darn convincing. He just walked away with a sense of relief.

Ingredients

IMG_4789-051 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp salt

3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ sticks of butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup peaches, diced
3/4 cup spinach (minced if it’s fresh or crumbled, if it’s frozen)

Grease the muffin pan with cooking spray. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat eggs adding vanilla to it. Add the cream mixture and the flour mixture. Gently incorporate everything. Add the diced peaches and the spinach. Mix everything together with a wooden spatula. Fill ¾ cups full. Bake in 325°oven for about 15-20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean.