Saturday, May 22, 2010

Indian Food Saturday: Curried Veggies Over Rice and Salad

Last night for dinner I made a quick dinner of grilled fiddleheads and ramps served with millet which I topped with a vegan cream sauce which included fresh morels. The pictures really didn’t do it justice. Since I have more fiddleheads, ramps and morels I may have to make a repeat of this just so I can share the dish. I was quite good, just not photogenic. The picture debacle was my fault. I was in a hurry to eat and didn’t check the photos before we dug in. Louis thanks again for the lovely birthday present. We are both enjoying it!

Today started late at our house since I was on the phone until 2 am. How can I talk for 3 ½ hours on the phone no one knows, not even me. But I am going to say it must be a girl thing. At least my hubby had the good sense to go to bed long before I did. ;-) If only one of us were going to get adequate rest I am glad it was him.

The weather has cooled today and only reached 81 degrees. However the mild temperature felt nice after the upper 80’s we had yesterday. The weather here tends to go from winter directly to summer. This year we have had a fairly mild spring and that has been enjoyable after our very snowy winter.

Because the weather is a little cooler I decided to make curried veggies over brown rice and a vegetable salad with curried salad dressing. As usual Dan and I discussed dinner this morning after breakfast (our usual process). I knew I wanted to use a little reduced fat coconut milk; I was just craving it. That meant Thai or Indian and since I am more comfortable in the Indian realm I went with that. Also because we had the pita and pasta on Wednesday flour products were out. I don’t want that in our diet too often. I realize that seems a little extreme, but when you are battling cancer extreme doesn’t seem to be so difficult. As long as the food still tastes good I don’t mind severely limiting or eliminating items from my cooking that are less than optimally healthy.

Curried veggies is an easy to make healthier. Eliminating the oil and using less reduced fat coconut milk is very simple. As long as you use enough seasonings it tastes just as wonderful. When I am using turmeric I am always torn on what to do. Specifically I know that dissolving the turmeric in oil (and adding black pepper) increases the absorption of the turmeric by anywhere from 100 to 1000 times depending on which study you believe. But as you know I also don’t cook with oil. This choice was tough for me. I thought about dissolving the turmeric in fat from the coconut milk versus doing so in the oil. In the end I decided the coconut would be fine but I don’t have any science to back this up it is just a guess on my part. Here is what I made:

Curried Veggies Over Brown Rice
Serves 4


1 ½ cups brown basmati rice
3 cups water
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced or grated on a microplane
¼ cup water to sauté the aromatics
2 cups peeled diced tomatoes or 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 cup water or veggie stock (or as much as you need to make adequate sauce)
1 cup reduced fat coconut milk
½ teaspoon turmeric, ground not fresh
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds, whole
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (or as much heat as you like)
6 cups fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice (I used frozen organic corn, green beans , carrots and peas)
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (or what is necessary to achieve the texture you like)
Cilantro springs, for garnish -optional
Cherry tomatoes, for garnish – optional
Cashews for Almond slices, for garnish – optional


Start the rice cooking in the water.

While the rice is cooking water sauté the onions, garlic and ginger until tender (about 3 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients (except 6 cups of veggies, cornstarch and garnish). Simmer the sauce base while the rice cooks. When the rice is just about finished add the veggies and cook to heat through. Dissolve the cornstarch in water (to make slurry) and pour this into the sauce and bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

To serve, place the rice on the bottom of the plate, top with the curried veg, add cilantro, fresh tomatoes and nuts (if desired).

Nutritional Information (does not include the optional ingredients):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 460.69
Calories From Fat (13%)-  60.55

Total Fat - 6.5g
Saturated Fat-  3.59g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 93.03mg
Potassium - 921.26mg
Total Carbohydrates - 88.85g
Fiber - 13.72g
Sugar - 13.27g
Protein - 11.5g


Both Dan and I were surprised by how rich this dish tasted given how little coconut milk was used. That is certainly a sign that our tastes have changed a lot during the last 5 months. We were also pleased with the nutritional numbers on the dish. The fat was very reasonable given the calories. If you are concerned about protein chickpeas would be a wonderful addition to this dish. The other protein alternative would be to serve this over quinoa instead of rice.

I love dishes like this the next day. The flavors seem to be marry so nicely while they are stored.

Next recipe:

Like usual we had a huge salad with our dinner. In fact the salad was so filling that we ended up storing much of the curried veggies and rice to be eaten tomorrow for lunch. Normally I have great difficulty coming up with healthy vegan dishes my elderly omni parents will enjoy. But salad is something that is universally accepted. We all had big plates of salad with seconds. Since we were having Indian flavors for dinner I wanted to make a curried salad. In the “old days” I used to make curried vinaigrette but didn’t want to use an oil replacement tonight. Instead I made a creamy raw cashew dressing and flavored it with curry seasonings. Here is what I did:

Salad with Curried Raw Cashew Dressing
Serves 4 as an Entrée sized salad


1 pound fresh green beans, lightly steamed and refrigerated for later
1 cup cucumber, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
10 cups red leaf lettuce

Salad dressing:

½ cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons of water
¼ teaspoon turmeric
I pinch mustard seed
1 pinch cumin
Cinnamon, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Lime zest from 1 lime
Juice from I lime


Combine everything in your high speed blender and process until smooth. If you don’t have a high speed blender soak the cashews for a few hours and then drain thoroughly. The soaking should soften them enough that your blender can achieve a smooth dressing.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 138.7
Calories From Fat (35%) - 49.22

Total Fat - 5.86g
Saturated Fat-  0.98g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 47.15mg
Potassium - 741.87mg
Total Carbohydrates - 18.1g
Fiber-  6.54g
Sugar - 4.68g
Protein - 6.77g


How much liquid you use in this dressing will make a difference in the final texture. I suggest you start with less liquid and add more if necessary. We all liked this dressing (vegans and omnis). The flavor is subtle but still definitely Indian. It went perfectly with the veggies and rice. Variations of this will be served often at our house when we are having Indian food for dinner. If you like Indian food I think you will like this dressing.

Email I Received and My Thoughts on it: Warning rant coming!

Before I share what has me wound up I should tell you that normally I am a very happy laid back person. However when I am attacked, as I was by email, I am not one to avoid a confrontation. I have never been shy or timid about what I know to be true or taking up for myself.

Since I know that not everyone has a blog I wanted to share how this works. Anyone can have a blog and they can write anything they choose on their blog. This is something you do because you want to share information. Writing a blog can be very time consuming, at least it is for me. I do not get paid for this; it is strictly a “volunteer” activity that takes me quite a few hours each week. I started this blog to share what I was learning about health and healthy cooking for anyone that wanted to read about either topic. If I had known some of these things earlier I would have made serious lifestyle changes sooner. My goal has and continues to be to share this information with anyone that wants it.

For those of you that don’t know I spend a minimum of 10 hours every week (normally more) reading about and researching nutrition and health. I have logged an inordinate amount of time at Pubmed reading scholarly articles on scientific studies regarding cancer. I email links to new articles on cancer to the oncologist. I am not some bored woman with a blog; health and diet as they relate to cancer are extremely serious for me. My nutrition and health focus tends to be on cancer, for obvious reasons, but the same diet we follow seems to be good for overall health.

Over the last year I have come to understand that diet can have a dramatic impact on the doubling rate of cancer. Studies have shown the average doubling rate for cancer is 100 days but can range from 24 to 850 days. Not to mention that the food you eat has an enormous impact on IGF-1, inflammation and the immune system. Food is a powerful component in the health of people both pre and post cancer. Anyone can modify their diet and make their body less hospitable for cancer cell growth if they chose. A properly functioning immune system can destroy the cancer in its initiation stage and even during the promotion stage. Sadly the diet most people eat promotes cancer initiation and progression. I have always sincerely believed that if more people knew they could make a difference in their health they would be make changes. But that doesn’t mean I think that everyone wants to change to the extent that we have. I also don't expect to make everyone happy with what I write. This is not a popularity contest, nutrition and health are extremely serious subjects for me.

I spent the majority of my life believing good genetics were all you needed to avoid cancer. However if that were true we wouldn’t have gone from an overall cancer rate of 4% (per the CDC) to approximately 42.5% (47% if male and 38% if female … at last estimate and still climbing) in 100 years. What has changed during that time frame? Simple, both lifestyle and diet have changed dramatically. If reading information that doesn’t support your bad habits bothers you, then you need to stop reading. Since the email writer asked, I have no intention of downplaying the health hazards of food or lifestyle because someone doesn’t want to know the truth.

For all of you that didn’t write the offensive email I apologize for my obvious irritation. When the person wrote that diet can’t affect cancer and that they were more concerned about the environment than cancer knowing we are in a fight for life it ticked me off! I had seriously considered replying to the email directly but wanted to make certain that I was not misquoted later. A response on my blog seemed the logical way to go.

Unrelated notes:

Sorry for ending on a less than warm and fuzzy note. In spite of my rant (which I wrote last night) we had a wonderful Saturday. The rain that had been threatening today held off until 8pm. Our day was relaxing and a little on the lazy side. I enjoy my lazy days with my hubby. For those of you that don’t know stress reduction is also important for those faced with cancer. That is one reasons we make a point to have low keyed weekends at our house. ;-)

Tomorrow morning we are back to the farmers’ market. As geeky as this sounds I am really looking forward to it. I get so much pleasure out of shopping for local produce at the market. I will write a quick post to let you know what I come home with.

I need to get back to relaxing. I hope the weekend is treating you well.


  1. Excellent recipes as always!

    You go girl!
    You have all of my support and what you are doing is changing the world and the way people think about health. Keep doing what you do!!

  2. Thanks Brandi,

    I really appreciate your suppport, more than you know. :-)

    big hugs,

  3. I'm finding it so hard to understand why people go to the trouble to attack your blog at all! Healthy, veggie filled dishes never hurt anyone! I LOVE your recipes.

    My husband is a type 1 diabetic and his A1C numbers have improved drastically just by my cooking vegan at home, so I totally relate to where you're coming from.

    Keep 'em coming, lady!

  4. sgcorrie,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. It is nice to know that I am contributing. :-)

    Congratulations on helping your hubby to reduce his A1C. Have you watched the documentary "Simpy Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days"? I saw it about a week ago and the results were very impressive. One type 1 diabetic was able to get off insulin completely and another was able to reduce his insulin from 70 to 5 units. It might be worth viewing.

    thanks again for your support! :-)

  5. I'm sorry if I missed it...what happened that made you so angry dear?

  6. Will definitely try your take on curried veggies! Various types of curries have become a staple in our house - er...humble apartment ;).
    I totally love and support your blog and do not let the haters get you down!
    I always find it funny that people discount diet and nutrition so quickly when it truly makes a huge difference in our lives! I can personally attest to it and went from an unhealthy, sickly person to a vibrant and vital healthy person just from diet and small lifestyle changes.

  7. It makes me angry that someone would attack you when all you're doing is good. Unfortunately I think it goes down to people not liking what they're hearing as it involves some effort on their part. It's easier for some to deny than to take action.
    Reading the China Study is making the link between diet and illness even more clear to me- the results truly are remarkable regarding cancer.
    You've helped me so much in learning about nutrition and also in putting it into practice by providing amazing recipes.
    I had been meaning to ask you what you're thoughts were on coconut as a sat fat. I am a big fan of coconut and especially love artisana coconut butter drizzled on oats with fruit every now and again...
    That curried dressing is being added to my recipe list.
    Thank you again.

  8. Good Morning Cory,

    I rec'd an inflammatory email that set me off. When someone thinks that cream and cheese don't cause cancer in the face of the evidence of casein promoting tumor growth it set me off. The overall email was clearly uninformed and criticized me for writing about health and "hurting their feelings". When they closed with diet can't help cancer and the environment was more important that was it for me. I guess you could see that, LOL. Can you tell I can be a little scrappy when I need to be?

    I hope you are having a good weekend, ;-)

  9. Possum,

    Thanks so much! I appreciate the support more than you know. :-)

    I agree with you 100%, diet makes a huge difference in overall health, cancer or not. It is very sad that people would rather ignore the truth, or worse yet tell someone they don't want to hear it (like I care) than make a change.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend,

  10. Ohhhh Ali, I'm so sorry you had to deal with that verbal attack. This is the 2nd time in a week that I've read of one of my bloggy friends getting hate mail, and it astounds me. Your public response via the blog was excellent, calm, well thought out, and of course, like all of the info you share with us, well researched and based on fact.

    Keep on doing what you're doing--there is always more that we can learn from you (even the haters might learn...they just won't admit it).


  11. Hi Emma,

    I am fine, but I appreciate you being angry for me. I had to get that out I was so mad when I got that email I could spit nails. As you noticed I have no problem taking up for myself. If I am not going to let cancer win then some person I have never met is not going to change anything I do! My first thought was that I just may have to take it up a notch. ;-)

    I am so glad you are reading the China Study. I learned a lot from that book. It should be required reading in school.

    I hope you are having a great Sunday,

  12. Good Morning LJ,

    I hope you are having a good Sunday.

    Thanks for the happy thoughts. I was also shocked. When someone writes things I don't agree with I stop reading but I would never tell them they should change their blog for me. Talk about audacity.

    big hugs,

  13. I am so sorry that someone felt it necessary to confront you. It is always unsettling to be attacked. I hate it most because this is truly the last thing you need to deal with right now. Yet, You know that this person is clearly ignorant in the area of health; Kind of like a child crying to have junk food!
    I am glad that you are here for that person too. I know that sounds silly, but that person needs you more than your avid followers. True!
    So give yourself a big pat on the back! You have planted a seed in that person's life. That person will one day thank you. :)
    I appreciate all the time you put into sharing your knowledge.
    Don't feel hurt/angry, feel sad that this person might be a parent and passing on (eating for disease) unknowingly.
    After all, most of us were taught how to eat for disease. I know for me, disease was/is the catalyst for learning to eat for health.
    You are doing a great service, in a much needed area!!
    Be encouraged!

    Dinner looks delicious!

  14. Naina,

    Thanks for your warm thoughts! I appreciate it.

    I think you nailed it with your description of a child crying to have junk food, but in this case it appeared to be cheese and cream from the email.

    Disease is what prompted me to learn all I could about health as well. Once you know it is hard to go back. I suppose it is easier when you have something to actively fight. However if I had this information before the disease I think I would have made changes.

    I hope you are having a great weekend,

  15. I haven't seen that documentary, but I will definitely check it out! Thank you!

  16. sgcorrie,

    You are welcome. I hope you find it as fascinating as I did.


  17. I really enjoy curry and don't use it enough. It's something I tend to forget about. I think you have far more support than not!!!!

  18. Heather,

    I love curried anything and the turmeric is so healthy.

    Thanks for your support. You are right I do seem to have much more support versus not.


  19. Hi Alicia,

    First, let me say I am deeply sorry that I offended you. As I said at the beginning of my email, I hold your blog in very high regard and value the information you post and your dedication to healthy eating. I truly meant to leave constructive criticism.

    I realize you will probably not approve my comment for posting, but I just wanted to clarify a couple points:

    I acknowledge that DIET has a HUGE effect on cancer. I just feel that criticizing the diets of others (rather than simply promoting a healthy diet) does more damage to the cause than good.

    If you'd like to maintain your integrity, and not misquote me, you can publish this comment and let your readers interpret my actual words, and stance on diet and cancer. However, if you continue to let my words remain twisted by your interpretation, I will have to assume this happens with most your postings, and your blog is no longer credible.

    As I said, "Of course, we all wish Americans would eat better, and most of us recognize the American diet as a problem. And surely your diet is better than the majority. But I highly doubt it will prove to be the magic bullet to stop cancer, which at this point seems to be caused from a myraid of factors including environment and genetics."

    You have permission to post my entire email, if you feel your readers are capable of making up their own minds about the subject, I have no desire/interest to misquote you at any point, although I find it incredibly ironic that you mentioned that seconds before misquoting me.

  20. Alicia, I will never understand why the people who don't want to change feel the need to attack. I get attacked frequently in my personal life for the changes I've made. My making healthy changes doesn't harm anyone else, yet they often feel the need to attack. I just don't get it. You are helping so many, don't let the few bring you down.

    I get so excited over the farmers' market too, hope you enjoy your day!

  21. Janet,

    I have come to the conclusion that not everyone wants to hear something about their diet that isn't good. They would rather criticize the other person than make changes themselves. People seem to be vested in their diet and want to disregard information that doesn't support it. Their problem, not mine.

    I am sorry you have people in your life that don't understand we do as well. Our most vocal detractors are family. They seem to think we are entitled to their opinions. LOL! If they only knew how little we cared what they had to say. ;-)


  22. hey Alicia, im sorry you got a redunk email...some people are stupid, not very eloquently said but so so true.
    that was interesting about how quickly cancer can double and grow. i have been reading more about inflamation and i know that walter with his stomache problems, is always inflamed.we are lucky to live in a ime with so much information, lets use it.

  23. Michelle,

    People in general seem to find change to be difficult. It is hard for some to imagine that food they have eaten their entire life isn't healthy. Most of my friends think our diet is too restrictive and that they can't do it. I hear that all the time. It is a shame people don't want to know the facts, but many don't, and ... that is okay. We all make our own choices and live with the consequences of those decisions. I doubt there will ever come a time when all of us agree on what is healthy vs not.

    talk to you later,

  24. Alicia, keep up the good work, no matter what ignorant readers might say! I look forward to all your posts, for recipes and the health information you share. Cancer is a disease that has touched many of us, and we can do more to prevent its occurrence than we have ever realized. You speak from the heart, and that is the best kind of teaching anyone can do.

  25. Colleen,

    Thanks so much for your kind words. It means more than you know.

    I started this blog with the idea in mind to share recipes and information with those that have been touched by cancer, or just wanted to be healthier. I sometimes forget that not everyone wants to hear that there are changes they can make that would benefit them. That fact makes me very sad, but it is just a reality of human nature. We are all at different points in the journey toward better health. Some people welcome the information and others would rather say things like the environment is more important and cancer can't be helped by diet. As someone that is fighting cancer I can't think of a more thoughtless thing to read.

    thanks again for your support,


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