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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.