Saturday, January 31, 2015

Yam and Chickpea Mason Jar* salad

In my continuing bid to eat healther I have hopped onto the new "salad in a jar" trend which is actually pretty fun. One or two nights a week I will fill up 4 ziplock containers (more practical than mason jars) with salads and then eat them whenever I need a quick healthy meal. They usually last 3-4 days. This one is a great one I made today, I cobbled the recipe together from a bunch of different online sources so here is the recipe all in one place:

 Yam and Chickpea Mason Jar Salad


Roasted yams:
-- 9 sweet potatoes, or yams (the orange kind) peeled and cubed -- maybe like 2 pounds worth? can also use squash for this recipe.
-- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
-- dash ground nutmeg
-- salt and pepper
-- oil

For the Tahini Sauce:
Yield: 2/3 cup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
a few grinds black pepper
3 T tahini (a fermented sesame seed paste, can find it in the middle eastern section of stores)

For the salad:
-- Spring mix (or other lettuce)
-- 2 cans garbanzo beans
-- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
-- 1/4 large red onion, chopped small
-- 1 large carrot peeled and julienned
-- 1 red bell pepper, julienned


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On two large baking sheets, coat yams with spices, salt, pepper, and oil and spread in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft throughout, turning every 10-15 minutes or so.

2. Make the tahini sauce by mixing the ingredients together with an immersion blender or other blender.

3. In 4 medium round (4-cup or quart size) ziploc containers or mason jars, layer the ingredients as follows: Tahini sauce, garbanzo beans, carrots, red bell peppers, onions, yams, cilantro, and fill the rest of the container with the spring mix.

4. Can keep in the fridge for 5 days (or more). When the time comes to eat, mix well in a large bowl and enjoy!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mason Jar Chinese Tofu Salad

When I lived in California I used to love eating something called Chinese Chicken Salad, my favorite was the one at California Chicken Cafe (I sometimes called it "California Chicken Kitchen"). Here in Vancouver this delicious salad (which doesn't have anything to do with real Chinese food, I believe) is nowhere to be found.

Today I wanted to try making some mason jar salads so I decided to make a vegetarian version of the one I missed so much, and adapt it to mason jar salad trend as well so I could keep some for upcoming meals.

This is what I did:

Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing
-- makes enough for 2 Quart-size (4-cup) mason jars (or medium tall round ziplock containers, as I ended up using)
  • 1/3 cup chow mein noodles (the crunchy kind)
  • 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 package smoked tofu (I use plain Soyganic), julienned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted lightly
  • 1/2 large carrot, peeled and julienned (about 1/2 cup?)
  • 1/2 large red pepper, seeded and julienned (about 1/2 cup?)
  • 1 cup mandarin orange segments
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (I used plain rice vinegar and found I had to add at least another Tablespoon of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (add more to taste if you prefer a strong sesame taste)
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well until sugar dissolves. 
  2. Pour half the dressing in each mason jar (or medium tall round ziplock container)
  3. Add half of each of the following ingredients into each mason jar, in this order: mandarin oranges, green onions, tofu, red peppers, carrots, then pack the rest of the container with the romaine lettuce. The idea is to keep the lettuce dry.
  4. Close each mason jar tightly.
  5. Now you want to make a "crunchy packet" because if you put crunchy things in the jar they will get soggy -- so rip 2 large pieces of plastic wrap, put half the chow mein noodles and almonds into the center, and twist each one up tightly.
  6. Keep the containers in the fridge,with the crunchy packet on top so you don't forget about it.
  7. Done! When you're ready to eat, dump the salad and crunchy toppings in a large salad bowl and mix it up and enjoy. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

kovakkai curry

This is the recipe for a curry made of an Indian vegetable called kovakkai (small green squashes about 1 1/2 inches long -- also called Ivy Gourd, or Tindori) from Mahesh's mother. You will notice there are no measurements or timings for this recipe. When Mahesh asked her how much spice to use, she said "use your common sense." Which is not all that helpful to me. I will try to measure and update with amounts when I figure out what they are.


-- Kovakkai (how much? we bought a lot, maybe 1 lb)
-- 1 tsp. cumin powder
-- 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
-- chile powder or sambar powder (or mix little bit of both) (I used 1 tsp sambar powder)
-- 1 tsp. salt
-- oil
-- minced cilantro


1. wash and cut kovakai into quarters length-wise
2. Heat oil in pan to medium heat. Mix three spices together, then fry in oil until fragrant, do not let the spices burn! (cook 30 seconds or so)
3. Put kovakai in the pan with salt, stir to coat with oil and spices. Cover and fry for 40 minutes over medium heat, or until kovakkai are soft and start to taste good.
4. After the kovakai is cooked through, remove the cover and fry until browned in places, 15 or 20 more minutes.
5. At the end, add in some minced cilantro.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Onion Lentil Rice

In honor of a new year and a new resolution to eat healthier in our house, here is a healthy one-pot vegetarian meal which is one of Mahesh's favorites. I believe this recipe started out as a stuffing for something else, and we decided it was the best part so just decided to make the stuffing, and it's changed up quite a bit since then. It's pretty simple so it works best with a nice dessert or appetizer course.



-- 1 cup green lentils
-- 2 bay leaves
-- 2 onions, sliced
-- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
-- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
-- 5 cups vegetable stock (or water)
-- 1 1/4 cups basmati or other long-grain rice, rinsed
-- 1 c. frozen peas
-- 4 T. chopped fresh parsley
-- 2 t. chopped fresh dill (or 1 t. dried)
-- 1 t. salt
-- pepper to taste


1. Put lentils in bowl and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, saute onions, mushrooms, and carrots in butter until onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. (the more you can caramelize them during this stage, the better)
3. Add all stock, bay leaf, and lentils, boil 15 minutes
4. Add rice, boil until almost done (30 minutes or so) -- keep an eye on the water level during this phase, you may need to add more!
5. Add in peas, boil until cooked.
6. When cooked, add in herbs, salt and pepper to taste.