Monday, October 31, 2011

Foodie Finds {Video}

I have not one, but TWO video posts for you today.

I only planned on doing one, but I was in the mood to dance...hence the second one. Also, it looks like I have dirt on my face because that was part of my Halloween costume.

Lastly, please hold the judgement on the extreme cheesiness of the content that follows. It's a little ridiculous.

Okay, enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Punkin.

This is going to be a short post because I am ill-prepared to write a real post.

But remember the time I posted this picture?

The recipe for my pumpkin pie smoothie is at Greatist! Go check it out. It's a nice and filling snack for an autumn day. Or any day, really.

This week has been a whirlwind. Literally. I don't know where it went and what I did, but it's Friday tomorrow. (Don't you love when that happens?)

Also, I cooked an Indian meal on Sunday and have been eating it everyday for dinner this week. When I get the chance to look through my pictures, a post with both recipes will be up very soon. But here is a teaser: if you are a fan of garbanzo beans and/or okra, you are in luck! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Heart Beets.

Hi. My name is Tulika and I have a strange obsession with beets.

Now that that's out of the way, let's discuss today's week-in-a-day! The past couple of weeks have been full of not so common ingredients, and for those of you who aren't fans of quinoa polenta, this is for you.

So I had beets, spinach, and tomatoes that needed to be used. Oh, and some basil.

What does one do with that combination? Make pasta sauce, of course. And I didn't use just any pasta...I experimented with brown rice pasta. It tasted a lot like regular pasta and less like whole wheat pasta. I was quite a fan. Healthy food tasting unhealthy? Sign me up!

Beet & Basil Pasta Sauce

  • 2 beets
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt/pepper/oregano

Boil the beets for about 5-8 minutes, let cool, and peel/chop them. Also, chop the tomatoes, spinach, basil, and garlic and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized pot, and add the garlic. Heat the pot on the stove over medium, and add the tomatoes, spinach, and beets. Continue to do so until the spinach has wilted, then add the basil. Then add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Lower the heat and let the flavors mix for another few minutes.

Super easy one-pot pasta sauce! And it lasts for quite awhile. I still have leftovers, but I happily put them in the freezer for another time. 

It's also really, really good topped with melted cheese. In case you needed confirmation on that.

On a completely different note, I know I promised a new Zumba video a few weeks ago. However, plans have changed...because I am going to be teaching TURBO KICK again! I haven't taught kickboxing in almost 6 months, so I've been practicing my routines non-stop. Have I ever mentioned how incredible of a workout Turbo Kick is? I'm thinking the 6 pack might make a comeback? (Wishful thinking).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time Flies.

...when you're having fun?

But really, where has the week gone? I don't know what happened. Actually, I do. I've been doing 1 hour of cardio everyday this week, and it makes my evenings go by way too quickly. I haven't even had a chance to properly sit down and veg on the couch. And my appetite is off the wall. I forgot what that was like. I kind of like it.

Some updates on life:

I'm still eating pumpkin for breakfast everyday. Usually pumpkin oatmeal, sometimes pumpkin smoothies.

I'm kind of obsessed with graham crackers lately, and I put them on everything. Graham cracker + pumpkin + cinnamon = faux pumpkin pie. It's quite yum.

(P.S. You'll get the pumpkin smoothie recipe soon!)

On the weekends, I make pumpkin pancakes. Whole wheat pancake mix + pumpkin + whatever else the box calls for. So easy.

(Pre-maple syrup addition...of course).

Someday when I'm not in a rush whilst packing my lunch in the morning, I'll take pictures. I've been majorly slacking in the taking-pictures-of-my-food-all-day-errrrday area. (Hence why I've only really been posting one recipe per week). But my lunch today was pretty awesome. I made a vegan quesadilla. Only because I didn't have cheese and I wanted to make quesadillas. So...I spread some roasted red pepper hummus on a whole wheat tortilla, sprinkled a nice spoonful of nutritional yeast atop the hummus, and topped that with some fresh spinach. Fold the tortilla and half and there you have it. No picture though.

However, I can provide you with a picture of something I took for a snack last week.

Thinly sliced baked tofu! I seasoned these with some soy sauce and olive oil before baking. These are perfect for dipping in whatever kind of dip you happen. I tried dipping these in marinara and in hummus...both quite successful, I think! Or you can eat them plain. Whatever floats your boat.

Lastly...let's talk about the ONE thing I like about cold weather.

Not the weather, that's for sure. But the presence of BEETS!!! Remember my obsession last year? It's definitely making a comeback this year. I made an incredibly easy one-pot recipe with them to last me the whole week (recipe also coming soon!). Oh, and I saved some for juicing purposes.

Carrots + beets + celery + lemon + ginger. I'm still juicing every few days. And guess what I'm using the pulp for? COMPOST. I got some plants and now have a miniature garden. I will also take pictures of that someday when I get back on the picture-taking train.

TFG Recommends: Confused about what foods to buy organic? This might help get you started!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


So...I am officially posting this recipe one week late. Before you go and say "UGH, worst food blogger ever!" let me explain. (Get the acronym in the title now?).

I guess I don't have an explanation, except that being an engineer who writes all day long ('s a thing) makes me want to come home and NOT write. That is actually the reason you haven't heard from me. But I'll get over it soon. And hopefully you'll get a chance to make today's recipe and forgive me for being so M.I.A. 

In the realm of workouts, I caved and decided I needed to go to a gym. I spent that past couple of months on the fence about joining a gym, because I thought I had motivation to do my own thing. Apparently I don't, because I was incredibly inconsistent. I went to boot camp yesterday for the first time in...over two months. Today, I am having some issues walking. (Can you say squats to the MAX?) Best feeling ever.

Remember how last week I found that quinoa polenta? I couldn't wait to use it. I've never had regular polenta before, and actually didn't really know what it was. (It's boiled cornmeal). The easiest thing to do if you don't know how to use something is to bake it...because really, you can't go wrong with baking stuff.

Layered Quinoa Polenta Casserole

  • 1 package quinoa polenta (or regular polenta)
  • 1 can refried black beans*
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 hatch pepper (or any large moderately spicy pepper)
  • shredded cheese of choice
  • salt/pepper

*You could easily make your own re-fried black beans if you don't prefer the canned version!

First things first, chop up the vegetables, and cook them in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Season with salt, pepper, and some garlic powder (optional). 

Mix the refried beans and frozen corn and set this aside.

Slice the quinoa polenta into medium-thick slices. Evenly pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil onto a large baking dish and place the polenta slices on the dish.

Spread the black bean mixture on top of the slices, then top with the vegetable mixture.

Top with a light layer of shredded cheese, and bake for about 30 minutes at 350F. 

Slice and serve. 

And maybe top with your favorite spicy salsa for an extra kick, or maybe a dollop of greek yogurt!

Perfect make-ahead meal. I ate this every day last week for dinner and it did not get old at all. I am so behind on life that I still haven't planned this week's dinner (gasp). Any ideas? I'm thinking about somehow incorporating those kelp noodles I found...that'll be an adventure.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Foodie finds. Part II.

I seriously thought I updated yesterday, and then saw that my last post was TUESDAY. Time flies when you're having fun?

But really, I don't know what has been happening. It's not like I even do all that much. Take for example today. It has rained ALL day, and I stayed inside for most of the day, except when I had to make a quick run to the grocery store. I almost bought an umbrella but it was so overpriced that I decided against it. My hair took the hit when I went back outside without an umbrella. Ouch.

Yesterday I spontaneously went to a natural foods store and picked up all kinds of things. I was had such a field day at that store, it was ridiculous. This is what my cart looked like:

[I've seriously missed my SunButter. Also, the rice nog was DELICIOUS. Also, on the top right corner of the car is a big bag of vegan marshmallows. Win.]

The lady at the checkout counter thought I was organizing the items in my cart so it would be easier for her. Until she saw me pull out my camera. Awkward.

Before we move on, I have some purchase highlights to share with you:

I was super curious about this. If you are, you won't have to wait long, because this week's meal in a day featured this quinoa polenta :). 

I've ALWAYS wanted to try kelp noodles! 

Okay, please brace yourself for the next two pictures. I went into the chocolate section of the store and freaked out when I saw this:

For someone who can't eat Reese's (allergic to peanuts/peanut butter), this was such an exciting find. When I thought life couldn't get better, I found these right next to the almond butter cups:

O.M.G. This is what I'm talkin' about. 

I obviously bought both. Obviously. I preferred the sun cups over the almond butter cups solely because they had a richer flavor. But both were awesome and I should have bought more than one of each!!

I even found some fantastic items/sales at the regular grocery store. 

15 limes for one dollar? OKAY!

3 avocados for one dollar? Yes please! 

What's one to do with limes + avocados? Make guacamole, obviously. Large batch of guac in my fridge--check!

I also found this super interesting salsa:

The best part about this salsa is that it's made of all natural ingredients and no added sugar/unnecessary ingredients. Oh, and it's SUPER spicy! Super spicy = super addictive (hence why half of the bottle was empty before I took a picture).

Time to go make a batch of hummus for the week! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chili cook off.

I discovered something recently, and I'm never going back to canned beans AGAIN! Let me explain.

Last week, on a whim, I bought a bag of uncooked black beans for 84 cents. (When things cost less than a dollar, I am very likely to buy them. No matter what they are).

I was hesitant to make the beans because I've never cooked beans before. But I made my weekday meal plan and decided to make chili this week.

Out came the bag of black beans. If you've never cooked beans before, this is what I did in three easy steps:

1. Rinse and then soak 2 cups of dried beans in 6 cups of water overnight, preferably in a stove top-safe pot.
2. Cook the beans on the stove (bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for about 40 minutes until beans are soft and water has been absorbed).

Actually it was two easy steps. By the way, this made over 6 cups of cooked beans.

I've made a couple of chili recipes in the past (check the recipes page for those!), so I'll give you a quick run-through of this one. I added the following to this gigantic pot of beans:

  • 16oz tomato sauce (equivalent of two small cans)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with added green chilies
  • 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • ~1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt + pepper

Star of the show (which was also the star of the sauce show from last week's quinoa patties):

Finished product after mixing all ingredients together and heating for just a few minutes:

So how do you eat chili without getting utterly bored of beans? Get creative!!

The first day, I ate my chili alongside a quesadilla and some green salsa.

(Bonus points for whole wheat tortilla!)

The second day, I ate the chili atop a bed of brown rice. With some cheese on top!

(Late dinner = dark picture).

Third day, chili atop a baked potato!

Topped with a dollop of greek yogurt.

Warning: when you start eating this, the once aesthetically pleasing meal turns out quite messy. 

Can you tell I had way too much fun with this baked potato photoshoot?

Enough with the pictures. I have enough chili to last me the next three weeks. See you then! (Just kidding).

Something about this meal gave me enough energy to choreograph a new Zumba dance to a popular new song (any guesses?). Video to come soon!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Warning: this post is going to be WEIRD. Don't say I didn't warn you.

After juicing up a storm this past week, I ended up with quite the vegetable pulp collection. Mostly carrot because I bought 5lbs of carrots. I didn't even realize how many carrots 5lbs was when I bought the bag.

I've been brainstorming ways to use the pulp. (Believe it or not, I didn't use up very much of it in my quinoa patties). I really wanted to make something resembling carrot cake with the carrot pulp. So I started out with my oatmeal. Of course.

My usual overnight oats combination with the addition of a few hefty spoonfuls of carrot pulp and some cinnamon, topped with almond butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. This was seriously WAY too filling. I hardly ever feel that full after breakfast but this was just ridiculous. That's what I get for eating what was the "meat" of something like three carrots. Goodness gracious.

I was planning on making the carrot cake until I was given the suggestion to make carrot halwa. If you aren't familiar, it's an Indian sweet. I LOVE Indian desserts. They are sweeter and richer than any other dessert...what's there not to love? So I looked up recipes and decided to make a Tulika-fied version: easy and not involving 100 grams of sugar.

Tulika-fied carrot halwa = 2 packed cups carrot pulp (or finely grated carrot) + 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk + cinnamon (optional).  Mix everything together on the stove top over medium-low heat.

[Side note: I found marshmallow creme at the store for a dollar. So I bought it. Marshmallow creme is vegetarian. Marshmallows are not].

I wanted some kind of frosting for my "carrot halwa" know, to make it more carrot cake-like. (Can you tell I'm a huge carrot cake fan?). Enter MARSHMALLOW CREME!

Cream cheese frosting would work well, too. I also tried some with melted dark chocolate on top. <-- Big fan.

Enough about the sweets. Let's talk salty. And crunchy.

I've seen lots of recipes for juice pulp crackers. I attempted to come up with my own. It worked. Good thing it worked, otherwise I would have had to say goodbye to my juice pulp.

I mixed together the juice pulp with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then transferred the mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet and flattened it with my hands.

The baking time is the reason I'm not making this into a formal recipe. I put this into the oven at 325F for 30 minutes or so, but the edges were beginning to burn and the center was still moist. My goal was to get these as dehydrated as possible so they would resemble actual crackers!

So I cut these into squares, reduced the temperature to 200F, and put them back in the oven for a longer time (another hour or so). I checked periodically and finally took them out of the oven when they felt dry.

The biggest problem I had was prying the crackers off the foil! Next time I'll remember to generously grease the foil. However, taste and texture-wise, these were exactly what I was looking for! Flavorful, salty, and crunchy. I think the garlic powder made a huge difference to the flavor.

They held together pretty well! I even tested this out by dipping them in the remains of my homemade hummus...

Oohh yeah. I'm taking these to work for a snack, along with a batch of kale chips I also made today. My co-workers are going to be so confused if they ever see what I'm eating.

P.S. I went grocery shopping today, looked for some more canned pumpkin, and they were all out. Can you believe it?! So disappointing. Anyone else have this problem recently?