When I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, I spent some time with Roshni and Samir. I went over to their place upon arriving in the city and didn’t leave until almost 11pm! We talked, we watched Wheel of Fortune (their latest guilty pleasure!), we ate delicious lasagna, and we drank what I can only call Roshni’s smoothie concoction.
To be quite honest, when she told me what all was in the smoothie, I was skeptical. I didn’t understand how all of those things together in one drink could possibly be edible…never mind taste good. Well, she proved me wrong! Her random mix of strawberries, blueberries, banana, OJ, ground flax, apple, avocado, spinach, kale, almond butter, and ginger was…refreshing! I even asked her to make it again when I went back to their place later in the week.
With Roshni’s smoothie as my inspiration, I set out to create my own drink. The one criterion I had was that it should get Vishnu’s seal of approval. In order to do that, I knew I had to keep things simple.
When we went grocery shopping this past Monday, I bought some kale, OJ, and fresh ginger knowing that I wanted to include all three in whatever I decided to make.
After a little internal deliberation, I went with this combo –> orange juice, a Granny Smith apple, frozen strawberries, kale, ground flax, and freshly grated ginger (a must in Roshni’s book!). And…It. Was. Delicious. Even Vishnu agreed!
I named it Sunshine Juice because it’s more liquidy than a smoothie and just a bit lighter in taste. And the ginger and OJ combo takes the whole thing to another tart, refreshing, slightly spicy level.
Even if there’s no sunshine where you are right now, make this anyway. You’ll feel like you’re sipping on a yummy tropical drink while basking in the rays. I promise!
Sunshine Juice Serves 2
12 ounces of orange juice 1 tablespoon ground flax ½ of a Granny Smith apple 1 tablespoon freshly ground ginger 3-4 kale large kale leaves ¾ – 1 cup frozen strawberries
Add ingredients to a blender (in this order) and blend until smooth and juice-like.
Note: While any blender should do the job, a high powered blender (such as the Blendtec –> what we own and use) will provide the best results.
Knowing these may be our last few months in Miami, Vishnu and I are making every effort to try new restaurants and visit new places. I’m also trying to soak in every moment I can with him because residency’s going to be a b****.
Here’s a snapshot of our weekend!
When Vishnu asked what I wanted to eat for dinner on Friday night, I mentioned the idea of making omelets and hash browns. That was quickly vetoed. My husband wasn’t into the idea of breakfast for dinner. When he suggested eating out, I was game (no dishes to wash!). After looking at a countless number of online menus, we decided on Momi Gyoza. MG is a new restaurant in our neighborhood, and the menu is made up of different kinds of ramen and a variety of dumplings (steamed, pan fried, etc.).
This was my second time eating here…this week! I went with my friend Shannon on Wednesday after a yoga class. I loved it so much that I had to take Vishnu there sooner rather than later.
Vishnu went with the pork belly ramen, and I ordered the pan fried vegetable gyozas. The ramen, according to Vishnu, was really good but not as delicious as the ramen he had in Chicago. It sure smelled delicious! My gyozas were scrumptious! I loved the slight crispiness and crunch on the outside. And the combination of the hot dumplings and the wasabi dipping sauce…well, let’s just say it was a party in my mouth! We will definitely be back here soon.
When our friend Rohit learned about a Farmer’s Market in Hollywood that’s not only full of fresh produce but also a ton of food stalls, he asked us if we wanted to go there this weekend. We made plans to drive up on Saturday, and I can confidently say that we will be back VERY SOON!
After walking around for a while, trying a bunch of samples, and munching on an empanada, we finally found ourselves in front of an Indonesian food stall. We chatted with the owner for a bit to learn more about the different menu items. I was sold after his description of the vegetable fritters!
The dipping sauces took these fritters to another level (a slightly salty hoisin like sauce and a sweet and spicy red sauce). Both were equally delicious, and I definitely emptied both containers!
We continued to explore after lunch. We tried a whole host of random things – cookies, olives, arepas, cakes, juices, coconut water, etc. So much deliciousness under one roof! We will definitely be back, and next time I’m going to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
OTHER WEEKEND HAPPENINGS:
We met up with a few of my coworkers for dinner on Saturday night at a gastro pub. The food was not up to par (to say the least). The conversation, on the other hand, was great! It was so good to see our London team!
After dinner on Saturday, we went to a friend’s place to play Cards Against Humanity. So. Much. Fun. It’s the ultimate ice breaker! We left my friend’s place at 2:30 am! Who are we?!
VEGAN BEAN DIP:
Now that I’m about to type up this recipe, I wish I would’ve shared it earlier. Oops! Better late than never, right? This crowd pleasing dip is super easy to make, vegan, healthy, and quite delicious.
I made it for the first time for a holiday get together back in December. Not knowing how it would go over, I basically crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Well, my friends LOVED it, especially the creamy middle layer!
So when I was thinking about what dip to make for the Super Bowl, this one came to mind. I knew it’d be the perfect game day accompaniment. And you’re going to laugh when you see how simple it is to make!
Vegan Bean Dip
1 can refried beans (I love Trader Joe’s refried black beans) 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 tablespoons water
Mix together all of the ingredients above. Spread the bean mixture on the bottom of a 9×9 glass dish.
2 large garlic cloves 1 cup cashews (soaked in water for 3-4 hours or overnight) 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon paprika 1 tablespoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Blend all of the together in a blender (high powered works best) until smooth and creamy. Carefully spread the “cream” mixture on top of the beans.
1 cup of your favorite salsa
Carefully spread the salsa on top of the “cream” layer. Take a butter knife and cut through the layers to create swirly designs (optional!).
Have a great, Monday!
Do you frequent the local farmer’s markets in your city? Did you watch the Super Bowl? What’d you eat!?
I’m pretty sure every time I say the words vegetarian, vegan, or dairy-free, Vishnu’s heart skips a beat. And not in a good way.
That’s why I sometimes don’t tell him what I’m making until after he eats a few bites. Depending on what he has going on, this tactic can work in my favor or not.
When it works in my favor, I get a, “This is good, Par. What’s in it?” And when it doesn’t…well, take this past Sunday when I was making a Vegan Pumpkin Sauce recipe my coworker shared with me…
I start the cooking process by chopping up an onion. Vishnu asks if he can help me in any way. I smile, say no, and tell him to go watch TV and relax. He gives me a weird look and goes away. I continue cooking. About three minutes later he comes back, pokes around a bit, and asks if he can help. This time I tell him to open up a can of pumpkin. He gives me a strange look. And then the questions start.
“What are you making?”
”Why are you being so secretive?”
”Should I make some meat to go with this pasta?”
”Why are you putting pumpkin in the sauce? It tastes gross.”
I do my best to ignore him. After adding the finishing touches to the sauce, I plate our food and we sit down to eat.
After taking a few bites, Vishnu says, “This is good, but you know what would have made it even better? Some meat!”
GAH! At least I got a “this is good!”
Anyway, I LOVED this sauce and found it to be unique and quite delicious all on it’s own. It’s one of the simplest things I’ve ever made and took less than 30 minutes to throw together. And the best part is that you can put whatever creative spin you want on it – different spices, different/additional veggies, etc. And you can’t even tell it’s vegan. I promise!
And don’t listen to Vishnu. It’s great even without any meat!
Vegan Pumpkin Sauce
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 of a medium onion, finely diced
1 pint of grape tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 sage leaves, cut using the chiffonade technique 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the sage, oregano, red pepper flakes, almond milk, and pumpkin puree. Whisk everything together until pumpkin is well incorporated into the sauce. Cover and allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes.
While I think of this as a pasta sauce (because that’s how we ate it), it would pair well with rice, quinoa, and even meat as Vishnu pointed out!
The title of today’s post describes my weekend perfectly. This was our first full weekend back in Miami together so I wanted to spend time with Vishnu, run some errands, and take it easy a little. I’m happy to report that I was able to do just that!
Friday evening started with Presley’s Stability Ball Circuit three times through. I also went down to our gym with the elliptical on my mind. After quickly realizing that the machine started over every time you changed directions, I jumped off and made my way to the rowing machine (for the first time in years). I selected the 2000m workout and…ummm…it was hard. I wanted to quit halfway through but pushed on. I definitely paid the price all weekend. Between rowing and the circuit workout, I was so sore!
After showering and getting ready, it was date night – dinner and a movie!
Before I go on, I have to mention my new Ann Taylor maxi dress. Bottom line…I freaking love it. I bought it online with a friend while in Austin after seeing one of the other girls wearing it. Mine is petite and the perfect length (I’m a little over 5’2”). The style and cut are super flattering, and the material is very soft and flowy. LOVE!
Ok, so back to date night. Vishnu and I went to LoKal Burgers and Beer for dinner. My veggie burger and green bean and bruschetta side dish were both awesome. And Vishnu really enjoyed his burger and fries. We will definitely be back.
After dinner, we made our way over to the theater to see Gone Girl. Both Vishnu and I really enjoyed it! I read the book a while ago and was excited to hear that the movie followed the book almost to a tee. Everything was spot on and just the way I imagined it – the acting, the setting, the suspense. A must watch if you ask me!
The movie didn’t get out until 12:45 am, so of course that meant we started our Saturday a bit later than planned. And by later I mean 11:00 am. I was a little thrown off the rest of the day but still got a lot done. I went to Target, the mall, and Costco, which ended up taking over three hours! We needed quite a few things, so it was worth it. I also fit in a 4.5 mile run before dinner (will be blogging about my current runs and half marathon plan soon). And then Vishnu and I made pizza using crusts I bought at Costco. The outcome was delicious!
Sautéed onions, mushrooms, and green bell pepper/jalapenos/barbecue sauce/mozzarella
Sunday started bright and early with a trip to Trader Joe’s!
I surprised myself a little with how much stuff was in the cart. But no one was more amused than my cashier. As he was ringing me up, he asked if this was a restocking trip. I said kind of and laughed a little. He then asked if I had kids. I said no and then he started laughing. My response – “My husband and I love food and prefer to eat in!” It’s the truth.
I spent the next couple of hours cleaning and organizing. I know I sound crazy, but it was so much fun. Our apartment was a little too messy, dusty, etc. for my taste. I finally feel settled and back to normal! And just as an FYI, I am still using a homemade vinegar based cleaning solution for pretty much everything (counter tops, the floor, wood cabinets, etc.). This stuff is amazing. I highly recommend trying it out. Life changing.
The night ended on a high (and sweet) note with homemade molten chocolate cake! I followed this recipe and made a few tweaks. I changed the serving size to 2. I also swapped 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar for powdered, whole wheat white flour for all purpose, Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips for bittersweet chocolate, and glass bowls for ramekins (because I don’t own any). And finally, I only baked my cakes for 9 minutes (instead of 14). Ooey gooey perfection! The only thing that would have made this dessert better is ice cream…next time for sure!
And finally, I have one other weekend highlight to share. I got a new hair straightener! My almost seven year old CHI stopped working early last week, so I had no choice. I did a little research and narrowed down my choices to the Sedu and theGHD. I decided to go with the Sedupurely based on the fact that Roshni owns one and highly recommended it. And the reviews were pretty much split between the two brands, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong either way. And so far so good! I used it last night for the first time and loved how quickly my hair went from coarse and wavy to straight and silky. Even Vishnu was shocked…his exact words – “I don’t think your hair has ever been this straight!”
*Shak is a generic north Indian term for vegetables in spices.
While in Chicago, I learned a lesson in Indian cooking from my friends Roshni and Ankita. Keep it simple!
You see, I have the tendency to overcomplicate my Indian food with too many vegetables, spices, etc. But after watching them make delicious dishes using one or two vegetables and just a few spices, I quickly realized I was doing it all wrong.
And Vishnu agreed. After eating Ankita’s cauliflower and potato shak one night, he looked at me and said, “See, you have to keep it simple.”
Well, that’s what I plan on doing from now on!
In fact, I made a dish last night that was simple enough to prepare but didn’t lack in the flavor department. This potato and eggplant shak is creamy, comforting and perfect with a side of rice and yogurt.
I can’t take all the credit though. When I mentioned my new “keep it simple” rule to my mom, she told me about a sauce she makes that pairs well with all kinds of veggies and beans. I even got her to email me a loose “recipe!”
And that, my friends, is how this Creamy Potato and Eggplant Shak was born!
Without further ado…
Creamy Potato and Eggplant Shak
For the sauce: 2 cups water
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small green chili, cut into several small pieces
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/3 cup raw whole almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
Heat water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add all of the ingredients to the water, except salt and garam masala. Stir to combine. When the mixture starts to boil, reduce to medium heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Drain the mixture, reserving the water. Place onion/tomato mixture in a blender and puree until combined into a thick paste. Place saucepan over low heat and add olive oil. Pour onion/tomato mixture back into the saucepan. Add salt and garam masala. Mix everything together, cook for additional two minutes and set aside.
For the vegetables: 2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium eggplant, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add cumin seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes until they are deep brown and fragrant. Add potatoes along with 2/3 cup reserved water [from sauce]. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook for 5-10 minutes until potatoes are almost cooked through but still firm to the touch. Gently fold in eggplant. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes until eggplant is cooked through. Add turmeric, salt, and red chili powder. Mix well. Cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the sauce to the vegetables along with 1/3 cup reserved water [from sauce]. Gently mix everything together, cover, and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add additional salt if needed.
Hello and welcome to My Inner Shakti! My name is Parita, and this little corner of the internet is where I like to talk about all the things I love - my husband, my family and friends, health, fitness, recipes, personal development, etc. Join me as I blog my way through the randomness of life!