Saturday, December 29, 2012

Recipe of the week - Oven Roasted Mixed Peppers

Oven Roasted Peppers - This recipe is extremely easy to make and tasty as well. Goes well with any cuisine - Italian, American, Japanese... Or just by itself on a piece of bread for a hearty appetizer. Find the recipe at Vidyaswamyskitchen.com.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wheat Germ Bhurjhi

Wheat Germ is a fabulous substitute for beef or eggs especially in a bhurjhi dish. Try my creation, you may even turn a complete vegetarian and start using wheat germ in all your dishes instead of meat.
Check it out right here. Love it or hate it or just not sure... doesn't matter. Prepare this dish and let me know. Visit my blog and kitchen site every week for a new recipe. You may also follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spiced Vegetable Soup. Not hot, just tasty

This soup recipe is unlike any other soups of mine. The recipe calls for some cayenne pepper and carribben barbecue spice. The end result is amazing, not spicy hot just spicy tasty.

Cook it, taste it. From Vidya Swamy's Kitchen.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Another cold day, another warm soup

Vegetable Barley Soup
Winter days and nights pose a challenge year after year especially when they are too cold to step outside. So, here is a sit-by-the-fireplace and enjoy kind of a meal.

Try this new recipe of the week. Post your comments right here and let me know if it met your expectations or I need to make some improvements. Also, try other recipes on vidyaswamyskitchen.com

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving turkey leftovers? Make a great spicy meal out of it.

Happy Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday of the year. A few days of prep for the one day feast, followed by a shopping spree accompanied with more food, followed by the weekend. What fun!

I am sure every household will have enough leftover turkey meat. The big turkey is supposed to feed your family and some other families on Thanksgiving day, and for a couple days after. At least that's what I see happening at several homes. Here's a great recipe to enjoy another day of turkey feast.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Must have spices and herbs during the holidays

Here's a list of herbs and spices you can do wonders with in your kitchen be it vegetarian or non.
  • Bay
  • Black pepper 
  • Cayanne pepper
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Coriander powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme


























Sunday, November 11, 2012

Diwali dessert - a tasty, healthy, no guilt treat

Happy Diwali to my readers
I'm sure you are wondering how any dessert can be nutritious. There is one. An easy, tasty treat that is also nutritious -- Almond Meal Burfi.

If you'd like to turn out something in less than half an hour, here it is. No sweat at all. Check out my recipe of the week posted to help you enjoy your own home made dessert for Diwali.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holidays = Food. Exotic, tasty, fatty, happy, sensuous...

When it comes to food during the holidays no word aptly represents the stimulations it brings to our sensory organs.

So, what do you do?  Just go ahead, binge and worry about everything else until after the holidays?  Enjoy it whole heartedly and stay happy, without thinking about repurcussions of weight gain, hike in diabetes, blood pressure readings? Abandon them all deny your happiness? Is there an answer?

Yes. There is an answer. I would suggest the following:
  1. Don't avoid any of your desserts
  2. Have everything in moderation
  3. Have one dessert a day, or leave them for weekends and party days only
  4. Instead of whole servings go for a third
  5. If friends gift you chocolates or desserts, share them with others at the next party
  6. Don't purchase anything for yourself, purchase only for your friends
  7. Last but not least, EXERCISE at least 3 times a week right through the holidays
Result: Wait until you get on the scale on January 2nd. You will be surprised.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chole, a perfect accompaniment to Bhatura

Last week I posted a recipe for Bhatura.  This wake is the recipe for Chole to dip your Bhatura in.

Check it out on vidyaswamyskitchen.com.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Martha's Vineyard - an unforgettable experience

Martha's Vineyard is one of those vacation hotspots that's hardly mentioned in travel books. It's possible that an island such as this is best left pure and pristine. 

It is a summer escape, so I was dubious about the weather conditions the past weekend especially since the mainland Boston, was cold and wet. I was pleasantly surprised. The weather was mild and moderate, and this time of the year mid-October turned out to be ideal for the getaway as well. Taking the ferry to the island was also an unusal and unique experience for a person like me who is used to the haste and scrambled rush of busy week day commutes. It appeared that the few tourists who were there knew which restaurants and places to visit, and when. Many of the good restaurants were open. Which brings me to my favorite subject food.

The picture here is the dinner I had at The Alchemy, prepared by the chef especially for me. It was an all vege-tarian mild cheese, garlic and mushroom filled ravioli in a white sauce with sautéd broccoli raab on the side.

The dinner was followed by a combination of berries and ice cream gelato. I've not tasted anything like that before, absolutely delectable.

The Hob Knob I stayed at was a quaint Inn, sparkingly clean with a decor representative of New England homes of the 17th century. The Inn also appeared untainted by anything modern. The breakfast served every morning by the chefs of Hob Knob was spectacular, made with locally grown organic vegetables and fruits; noticeably different and natural tasting than the store bought, genetically modified foods. The staff at the Hob Knob made the stay pleasant and memorable, taking pains to serve their guests with simple luxuries and overwhelmed us with excellent service.

This vacation at the Hob Knob was my cooking contest prize and I would highly recommend it to my readers especially if money was not a concern. High season visits can get to be quite expensive and to the best of my knowledge Martha's Vineyard is a place where the affluent among us vacation.

Bhatura - a delicious, fried Indian bread

Bhatura with Chole is one of my favorite Indian dish to cook. It had been a while since I made it and the restaurants in St. Louis seriously need help with making it right.

Here is my Bhatura recipe. Follow the recipe and you will never order them at restaurants again. Our creations at home are more often than not better than the restaurant ones, especially in this country. The combination of Bhatura with Chole is heavenly. My next week's recipe will be Chole.

Here is the recipe for Bhatura on my web site - vidyaSwamyskitchen.com.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Laughter for longevity? Sounds like a fun thing to do all day long.

Not too long ago as I was flipping through the channels on my TV, a favorite hobby of mine, I stopped at the PBS channel. What caught my attention was this lady talking about Laughter Yoga. She is a cancer survivor and says she owes much to all the laughing she does on a daily basis. She has practiced and become so good at it now that she has also started to spread the feel good and happy experience to others by starting a laughter coaching class. I noticed she was laughing throughout the show.

People who believe in laughter being a medicine for even the worst of illnesses like cancer are in this class.  There are students of all ages, some with illnesses but some who are in just to experience the good health and positive well being it brings. One other take away from this show is even fake laughter has a good effect on our health. A good hearty fake laugh releases endorphins, relaxes tense muscles, changes a depressed mood and lifts up energy and spirits.

So, how about ending your end today with a good hearty laughter real or fake. It is Friday too!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Island where people forget to die

Perhaps here is a secret to longevity. Is it easy enough to emulate? Follow what the article has posted for an everyday diet routine. Use a good subsititute for the food that is not available in your country. Maybe it will work. In my opinion though moderation is key.

From the New York Times - The island where people forget to die.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meatless French Onion Soup

This recipe I've heard is better than a beef-brothed French onion soup.  Very easy to make and a perfect sumptuous dinner for a cold evening. 
Check out this week's recipe of the week at vidyaswamys kitchen.com.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Try this spicy Italian Pepper Bhajjis - southern Indian style

The recipe of the week is Italian Pepper Bhajji, an authentic south Indian recipe to delight your palate. Log on to vidyaswamyskitchen.com. Try the tasty recipes and read the health tips on the ingredients and vegetables used in my cooking.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Is not drinking socially a taboo in business circles?

Well, in some circles such as sales where business negotiations are most often made over a couple drinks, I guess it would be. So, what do people like myself do?  Should we be called social misfits or awkward, or inept and incapable for sales roles?

I thought, in fact it was starting to becoming fashionable to say that you don't drink!  I am wrong.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Get introduced to the powerhouse vegetable - KALE

I recently discovered this magical, wondrous, gorgeous leafy vegetable -- Kale.  I had read the enormous benefits of Kale in our regular diets and have tried to cook them several times, each time using a new method. It was never really palatable. Also, involved a lot of prep work.  So, I stopped thinking about it altogether until about a couple months ago.

I was at Costco's and saw this humongous package of Kale, absolutely clean and ready to go. I just couldn't hold my excitement. I bought the 1 lb. package, came home and cooked it right away.

So, here's the recipe of Kale curry, a simple southern Indian style of cooking vegetables where one can reap the benefits of nutrition of a vegetable.  Here's how I cooked it.  Enjoy my recipe of this week.  Check it out and let me know how it turned out.  Also, read about the health benefits of Kale

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fried Okra in Yogurt -- one of the many ways you can use Okra

Fried Okra in Yogurt. What a delicious recipe for Okra! Check this recipe out on Vidya's kitchen site at vidyaswamyskitchen.com.


Would love to hear a comment after you test it out.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Off-the-charts Indian fast food joint in Naperville, Illinois

I had to make a trip to Naperville, IL from MO just to have some decent Indian food! My experience at Tandoor Hut was way better than just decent. It was a busy Saturday and we needed to have a meal and move on to other things. We ordered our food before we left home and were right on time at the restaurant.

I had the best Chole Bhatura ever. A tickle to every sensation. Perfect color, taste, aroma and definitely visually appealing as well. What else does one need? The combination of spices were absolutely perfect, good friendly people and fresh food added to the experience. The place is tiny; but clean and there are still tables to have a relaxing meal.

There's a whole list of things to pick from.  Unfortunately, I was in a rush or could have hung around to taste some other things.  Reservations already made for my next visit. 

I would give it five stars and rate it at a 5 out of 5.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What do the food labels say? Organic or genetically modified?

Companies hardly highlight any portion of the Food labels unless it is advantageous to them.  Now they might have to, mandatorily. At least in California -- 'Genetically Modified' labels need to stand out.
 
Behemoth companies almost mask their names on the organic food labels because they are afraid to reveal the name behind it. Only because of their otherwise bad association with all the modified ingredients they use in other foods. While they make sugared soda on the one hand, they also might be bottling pure coconut water. If we only knew all the names of such companies! Consumers who are especially fastidious about what goes into the foods they buy, will stay as far away as possible.

California is trying to make labeling food containers that have genetically modified ingredients, mandatory.  Lobbyists and the big names behind them are spending hundreds of thousands to block this initiative. This has scared some of the organic brands that are trying to distance themselves from the big named parent companies. One of the arguments against it is that the law should be a national one and not a one-state mandate.

What are the large names afraid of?  That their sales would go down or that the truth that almost every ingredient in the food products they sell is genetically modified?  What do these companies care about? 
Clearly, it's the money. The hope of many true organic brands is that the law will pass. Not sure if they have the money to fight those who oppose labeling. It will take a while for the results to come out. One would hope it does and spreads to other states as well. Why can't the U.S. follow Europe's example and as a country ban the use of any thing that is genetically modified?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Indo-chinese Noodles


Check out this noodle recipe.  I would like to call it an Indo-chinese recipe as there is a little indian twist in there.  But believe me they taste better than the restaurant bought one. You'll get the kick of the spices and the flavor of a good chinese restaurant preparation. The combination of the two make it a fusion recipe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Does being 'too clean' lower our body's defence systems?

There may be an element of truth in that question.  There was a time when I hardly fell sick. No colds, fevers or any other aches or pains.  In fact, I don't remember visits with a doctor in my school days except for maybe one or two. I could drink water straight out of the tap and eat anything from the busy roadside food stalls. 

I can do none of these things now.  I need to take shots to travel, flu shots every season as my doctor recommends them, constantly wash my hands, drink only bottled water in a foreign land and can never risk eating just anywhere.  As a matter of fact, I avoid using public restrooms if I can help it because I wonder about the type of bacterias that breed there. 

I know one reason is paranoia and the other reason is my weak immune system.  Don't know if one feeds into the other.  Whether it is paranoia that has weakened the system, or if it is the not-so-strong an immune system that scares me from doing anything normal.  On the other hand, by being too careful I could have possibly lowered by body's own capacity to fight off the usual bacterias.

Not sure what is right anymore! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Potato Cutlets - Baked

One of the most tasty and in this case healthy appetizers. Check out this delicious cutlet recipe and your guests won't feel guilty taking a second or maybe even a third helping. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower with Olive Oil and Garlic

Recipe of the week - Check out this delicious roasted cauliflower in olive oil and garlic.

Other recipes from vidyaswamyskitchen.com.http://www.vidyaswamyskitchen.com/recipes_list.html

Friday, August 24, 2012

Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes and Mozzarella with Basil



Easy appetizer for surprise guests.  Test out this week's recipe.  Never known to fail.

Take a look at all recipes at vidyaswamyskitchen.com.

Who is to blame for one's obesity?

Well, I have written several blogs on this topic.  Some of them are pretty harsh because I get angry with people who have just let their health go. 

Some look at their own body as just a place to reside in and nothing more.  On the other hand, the same people may have a clean, well-oiled car and take better care of it than they do their health.

Then there is the other group who are completely aware but just love food.  They live to eat. 

The next group falls under the category of those who use food as a comforter, as a punch bag to get out their anger and frustrations just because they have no one else to talk to.

To some, food is mere entertainment and that fun is never-ending.

Beyond all the above excuses which I believe are superficial in nature and avoidable there is indeed a serious reason why some turn to food.  Several of these people have an underlying reason that goes deep down to their childhood and are quite often related to abuse, poverty, chemical imbalance of various kinds, or ailments of a mental of physical nature. Although some come out of these things, some people's injuries are too deep to zip out of. 

I have changed my attitude lately from the immediate reaction of anger to empathy but have no answer as to how I would go about helping them.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thai beats Indian when it comes to spicy hot food

Spicy food is good. Hot and spicy food is too good.  Thai hot and spicy? It depends.

I've always liked tasty Thai food. I would rate it sort of close to Indian in the ingredients and some of the spices used.  When it comes to spice range, I don't think any other cuisine comes close.  Here's a tip when you order Thai food in an authentic Thai restaurant. 

Never make the mistake of asking for hot thai food.  Am sure many of you have experienced this but it is unbearable.  Your tongue might even get scalded if you don't watch. A couple times I asked for hot and couldn't eat the food.  I barely had a bit and walked out hungry. So, now adays I go for mild and medium at the most depending on the dish.

However, I thought salads are supposed to be mild in any cuisine.  I had a julianned radish, carrot and cherry tomato salad with a lightly sweetened dressing with some crushed peanuts.  Hidden among these were, I thought one or two tiny bits of green chillies. A great idea as green chillies add flavor to a dish. The first bite was bearable, the second spicy and by the third I had tears flowing down.  Had probably a gallon of water, then looked closely at the salad.

Little did I know there were quite a few of those green chillies and some had a red tinge on them and they were hotter than the pure greeen ones. The salad would have tasted delicious if not for those colorfully speckled chillies in it. So, the lesson is look at the range and rating of the spices in any Thai restaurant.  If there is a wide range go toward the lower end of the spectrum.  If it is a short scale, go for the lowest.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mushroom Pasta in Red Sauce

Mushrooms are not a favorite of many people.  But if prepared the right way with the right dish, they can enhance the flavor like none other. Here is my recipe of the week. Check out the recipe at Vidyaswamyskitchen.com  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thai Vegetable Red Curry


Thai Vegetable in Red Curry
I tasted this some years ago at a Thai restaurant in Collingsdale, PA.  I think it is the best Thai restaurant I've been to and this dish I ordered was delicious; however, I hear there's nothing that comes close to the one in Vegas.  Guess where I'll be heading to for lunch on my next visit to Las Vegas?

Check my version of the Thai preparation in this week's recipe of the week



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where is your next travel destination out of the U.S.?

My answer is any place where there is safe food first and good food next.  Definitely not to countries where you've got to wonder about what's on their grocery shelves, if it has passed FDA regulations or is contaminated with things such as chlorinated sodas or food loaded with bacteria that glow in the dark. 

Some countries have low or no value for human life and everything is allowed for consumption even if they could kill you.  Just came across this shocking article while browsing online.  If you have missed it, it's a must read. 

Here is a country one can avoid, China.  Looks like everything should be banned because no food is truly safe.  If one would like to go on a crash diet then head for China. There'll be no food around that you'd want to trust. Live on protein bars, nuts and seeds taken from home and come back with more appreciation and less weight. 

But, is China worth it even if you'd like the crash diet idea?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What do you crave on a hot, sultry, summer day?

I suggest a hot, spicy appetizer called 'Thool Bhajji".  The tamil word 'thool' literally means 'dust'.  So, dusty or small pieces of bhajjis can be divine with a mid-afternoon tea on a Sunday.

Check out the recipe for 'Thool Bhajji' right here.  This is the recipe of the week.

Friday, July 13, 2012

This one gets me every time

'Life, Interrupted' written by this young cancer patient/survivor tugs at my heart every time I browse through the 'Health and Fitness' pages of the New York Times and see the heading.  I have read a few of the author's postings and what a brave fight!  Along the way I believe Suleika Jaouad is also telling the heart-wrenching stories of many a cancer-fighting person.  

I am waiting to see if Jaouad would some day write about the diets she's been recommended to follow to keep the cancer at bay.  Foods to avoid, foods to eat more of, and general nutrition guidelines for anybody to follow and stay healthy.  Maybe she did and I missed it.

I also read a column of the genetically modified apple that is likely to be sold in the market in the near future... Green apples that will never turn brown, look attractive and fresh always like it's just been picked from the home garden.  Who knows what lies beneath that look?   I feel whenever nature is adjusted to suit us, there could be something in it that will affect us in some way.  Wonder what this apple is going to do? Could modified foods like the apple be the reason why there are more cancers today than ever before?  I am sure that's being studied at some lab.

If you are interested in reading Suleika Jaouad's story, here's the link.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vegetable Lemon Noodles

Check out this week's recipe.  Delicious vegetable lemon noodles.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Recipe of the week - Lettuce Wrap Filling



I've made this a few times now and the end result is heavenly -- absolutely delicious.  It's an extremely simple recipe but quite satisfying as well.  Check it out here.

Does eating dinners as a family equal happy children?

It is absolutely likely that families who eat dinners together are happier and closer. Dinner time is not just to enjoy food, but also discuss school, work, world; a place to just be, listen to one's siblings, parents and the perfect place to communicate, understand or relate to each other at several levels.  Dinner time is a special part of the day in many families.  More times than not, here is where families discuss several things and each one is aware of what's going on in the other person's life. 

I think food at the dinner table is food for your body but everything else aside of that is food for your mind and soul.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why do we head for the starch first?

Maybe because that is the most satisfying?

After a regular 3-meal day it is unusual for a person to head to just starch food the following morning. But try to see what happens if you haven't had a proper meal the previous day, meaning at least one good balanced meal.  Most people crave for the starch.  I know I do.

Three-balanced meals with two decent snacks in between are the best way to go. Also, hide the high-starch ones or just don't buy them. That should be easy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The best way to cook Quinoa

The answer is, well I haven't found much of a difference any which way I have tried cooking it.
Some fastidious palates will probably like it toasted, soaked for about 30 minutes, rinsed and then cooked.  Some do it by just rinsing, soaking and then cooking.  I just rinse and cook them under pressure in a pressure cooker.

I've tested two methods.  One is cooking in an electric cooker.  It takes a while to cook and the end result is a pretty dry, cooked quinoa.  The pressure cooker method is faster and the quinoa is never dry or separated even on the second day.  It goes well with any of the vegetarian sides except salads.  The cooked dry one is the best for use in salads.  If you are into carbs, then quinoa is a good replacement.  You'll notice you consume less of it and feel satisfied much longer than rice or wheat.

Quinoa bought in stores or online in bulk is very clean.  In my opinion there is no need to soak them (which is recommended by many to get rid of the soap taste).  If the quinoa is clean there is no soapy taste to it, so why bother soaking them first. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mashed Potato burger with Spicy Indian flavors

Mashed Potato Burger with Indian flavors
Recipe of the week

Mashed Potato burger with spicy Indian flavors.
Check out this recipe on Vidya's Kitchen.

Father's day lunch at PF Chang's was a disappointment

PF Chang's is one of those fusion resatuarants that's quite consistent in its quality of food and taste.  I wouldn't say food is extraordinary but definitely not bad.  Unfortunately, today's lunch was below average.  My dish 'Buddha's Feast' was way too salty.  I had requested for it to be spicy.  What I got was quite bland. The only vegetable that stood out were the half cooked carrots.  The brown rice was under cooked and utterly dry.  Part of the problem was the waiter who did not convey what we had requested to the chef.

I am still hungry after this dissatisfying meal so going to cook a good Sunday dinner. It's enraging to feel hungry after a restaurant meal and especially after having paid a good penny for a bad experience.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mushroom burgers filled with flavor

It will be a repeat performance second time this week -- this Sunday, ie grilled mushroom burgers.  This past busy Wednesday I decided dinner will be an easy one with no messy kitchen.  Well, I tried. The kitchen still needed as much cleaning as any other day but the food was quite easy and flavorful.

I did not have those fancy porcini, portabella or crimini mushrooms.  They were just plain old button mushrooms but fresh. So, here's what I did.  Diced them real tiny, then mixed some corn flour, diced onions, garlic and spicy green chillies.  Added a bit of bread crumbs, diced tomatoes and a touch of salt of course. Surprisingly they held together.  Rolled them out and flattened them to burger sizes.  Grilled for about 4 minutes per side.  Delicious.

If you like them very spicy, you may add hot chillie sauce while grilling and flip a couple times on the grill for a roasted flavor .

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quinoa in all your salads

Feels like I left out Quinoa and haven't really included it in my recipe postings.  Actually, I do include Quinoa in most of my salad recipes and subsitute Qunioa for rice wherever possible.

Most salads contain some kind of spinach.  Make Quinoa a staple too in all your salads especially if you are not using meat or fish. It makes a difference if you are looking for all the vitamins and the protein in a salad.

Today, I went for a veggie salad from my local grocery store.  Sprinkled a 1/4 cup of cooked Qunioa and guess what I am so full and happy that I may just go for a very light dinner.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wheat Germ Vegetarian Burger from Vidya's Kitchen



Wheat germ burger

Another veggie burger variety from my kitchen. This is made with wheat germ. Delicious and gratifying that you won't even miss the meat. Check out vidyaswamyskitchen.com for this week's recipe of the week.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brushing your teeth after a meal. Is that good or bad?

How many of you go rushing to the bathroom after a meal to brush your teeth?  I don't do it often, but often enough.

After a restaurant meal in particular, I can't wait to get home to brush my teeth.  Washing hands and feet thoroughly is one of my habits after getting back home from where ever I had been to that day.  Brushing is a close second.

New researches say that brushing right after a meal is not a healthy thing to do. Our teeth can actually get damaged especially if we do it immediately following an acidic meal.  Acid irritates the gums and the enamel in the teeth and erodes them.  Brushing after an acidic meal can actually speed that process.

Instead developing the habit of rinsing your mouth thoroughly right after a meal would make sense.

Look for my vegetarian burger recipes to barbecue and make it a fun summer

You don't have to sit aside and watch people enjoying their meat burgers when you have several options.  Guaranteed, the vegetarian burgers will taste better than the meat options.  Maybe they'll even switch completely. 

That reminds me of an experience I had on a cruise.  The chefs were absolutely fantastic.  When I told them I was a vegetarian, they said not to worry.  I thought I will probably be served some grilled vegetables and rice.  Guess what!  My meals had more variety and were tastier then the other meals.  Within 2 days msot people at the table were asking for vegetarian meals as well.

Look for a burger recipe in the upcoming recipe of the week post this Sunday.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vegetarian Burger Varieties - This week's burger recipe

Mixed vegetable burger sautéd or grilled
Maybe it's the free summer spirit or the bright, humid weather that beckons one to grill burgers during this season.

I am starting out this week with a variety of delicious vegetarian burger recipes for you to try.  Here is my first. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quinoa - nutrients & taste without the baggage

Unlike meat, Quinoa has all the benefits of meat especially protein without the fat. Preparing Quinoa with other vegetables and cheese does bring effortless nutrition to our diets.

Try this one for instance.  Take a few zucchinis.  Scoop out the center a bit.  Mix the center portion with sauted red onions, garlic, some chopped tomatoes and mild cheddar cheese.  Add spices of any kind that you like.  Fill the scooped zucchini center with the mix. Douse the outside with olive oil. Wrap in a foil and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then remove the foil and bake until it turns golden brown on top and is slightly roasted all over.

Serve as an appetizer. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crispy Spinach Mushroom Summer Salad

Check out this week's recipe of the week - Spinach mushroom salad. Look for other delicious vegetarian recipes if you'd like to experience incredibly tasty, healthy, home cooked food.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Obesity among children in India

One of the most disturbing things I noticed during my latest visit to India was obesity among children. There is a segment of the population -- I would say middle, upper middle, upper, and the absolutely filthy rich who are obscenely obese.  Although this group is only a percentage, just a minority of well-to-do rich, you can't help noticing them when you are at a restaurant or shopping at a mall. 

The new found wealth has led them to flaunt it at expensive restaurants, icecream parlors, fast food joints, quick-service restaurants or cafes that is filled with rich, fatty, fried foods.  Unfortunately parents are not good guides or teachers since they do the same thing. There is no such thing as regular sports or play time every evening for children to burn off the fat and stay active. This group both parents and children hardly pay attention to what is cooked at home or what is purchased by their cooks and maids.  Carbohydrates play a big role as well in this pool of bad diets and foods. 

These health habits will definitely have repercussions in the form of persistent obesity, diabetes, heart problems and all other health related issues at a very young age. Unfortunately, this is the segment that is most educated. That hardly seems to make a difference.  Quite sad.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Let's blame obesity on this - ABUNDANCE

Let's say not the people but the country is to be blamed for people's weight issues.  Why?  Because, there is so much of food available everywhere -- genetically modified meat, chicken and super sized meals all round us.  It's human nature to eat the abundance that is around.  If there isn't much available, then we will not be this fat. I love this psychology.

Here's my solution - The environment we live in has to be changed.  Every individual of a household should have a quota on their grocery purchase.  They should have an ID card that scans through the check out aisle, that identifies the household they are from and rations their purchase. How can one get fat on this type of change?  Same with fast food restaurants.  A person should be allowed to buy burgers only once a week with their ID card.  Would this help to reduce the obesity of this country?  There would be no restriction on vegetable purchases but definitely on sugar, soda and snacks. Maybe there is a solution here!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Is it the lifestyle or social status?

One thing I have noticed is as a general rule women and men, but mostly women who come from a socio-economic status higher than an average person is usually not obese.  Is this because they can afford to buy healthier food or is it because they care about themselves?  Are they happier and thus avoid junk food, or is it because they are more fitness aware than people who belong to a lower economic status?

Lately, I have read that the availability of good food, vegetables and fruits is the same in most neighborhoods rich or not.  However, fast food restaurants are higher in lower income neighborhoods. This doesn't mean that people in lower income neighborhoods should gravitate toward burgers and fries.  Why won't they pick other healthy options like the higher income groups do?

Most people do know about eating right especially with so much information around.  So it appears education is not the problem, neither is the availablility of healthy food.  May be it is related to expense?  I can't really believe that because you tend to spend less for eg. if you go on a lentil, nuts, vegetables and fruits diet.  I do that so I know it. Maybe it is the quantity that is also related to their state of mind.  Is it possible that poor people are more unhappy and have more of the stresses of life, also tend to eat a lot more and are less disciplined than the other group?

Can't seem to find a good reason for obesity among the lower income group?  If you are reading this, would love to get your input.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recipe for the week - Spinach Paratha

Appetizing Spinach Paratha - Made with fresh spinach, spices and wheat flour.  Check out other recipes from vidyaswamyskitchen.com.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Easiest way to cook vegetables if you want them tasty as well

This is exactly what I do.  Cut vegetables in the desired shape.  Place them in a baking bowl.  Drizzle enough virgin olive oil to coat them.  Add simple herbs and maybe a dash of crushed red pepper and bake them in the oven at 375 degrees until they are just at the roasting point.  Remove, sprinkle salt and add a touch of lemon (optional).  This method is packed with nutrition, taste, appeal and of course, it's speedy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Potato herb salad

Red potatoes in herbs, a fantastic recipe

Ingredients
5 Potatoes halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (tarragon,chives,rosemary)
1 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
kosher salt and black pepper

Directions
1.Fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water and fit with a steamer basket; bring the water to a boil. Place the potatoes in the basket, cover, and steam until tender, 12 to 14 minutes; drain.
2.Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the herbs, scallions, oil, mustard, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the cooked potatoes and toss to combine.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Delicious bisi bela bhaath

Try this recipe of the week. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon meal. Also other recipes of Vidya's kitchen.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Can't forget those snack times! Can we?

One of the fun things is indulging in something that is sinful once in a while. I mean food wise. So, here is something I love, and the rest of my picky, discriminating foodies in my family love as well. This one is not necessarily sinful but definitely delightful.

Baking crunchy apples spread with peanut butter. It takes hmm... about 15 minutes in all.

You may use Granny Smith Apples the green ones or even Gala which are sweet, crunchy and delicious. Remove the core, cut into halves, spread crunchy, organic, unsalted peanut butter. Bake on high heat about 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. Savor the result. You'll keep going back to it, again and again.

More sinfully delightful snacks in the next coming days.
For appetizers, soups, entrées, side dishes check these out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hard to go Vegan

Is it even necessary? It is a hard switch especially if you have been a medium to a hard core meat eater. Instead, I am offering you an easy option.

Being a pure vegetarian is very easy. I don't mean partial, I mean pure - not only no meat, but no fish, chicken, seafood or eggs either. Go Indian food, meaning southern Indian. It is the best with all the natural healing ingredients and spices, less of oil or frying; and more of the fresh vegetables and flavorful dishes.

If you opt for south Indian cuisine, there is really no need to include much of dairy, cheese, or milk. There is an incredible variety of dishes.

Try recipes from vidyaswamyskitchen. A new recipe is added almost every week. So, keep visiting.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tasty Spinach in just 15 minutes

The simplest preparation and one of the tastiest is this recipe. It can be literally prepared in 15 minutes.

Use only fresh spinach. This recipe is for about 1/2 pound of fresh spinach.

Boil spinach in hot water with a pinch of salt for 8 minutes. Take 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a wok or pan. Saute about 4 cloves chopped garlic for a couple minutes, add the blanched spinach after draining the water. Add 1 tspn. salt and some crushed red pepper. Keeping turning over until water evaporates completely.

Serve as a side dish or main dish with pasta, indian breads or rice. For other recipes, go here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Try a new recipe for dhal


A new recipe for the upcoming week - Dhal with Sambhaar podi. This is extremely flavorful with no garlic, onion or garam masalas.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do people who claim to be healthy practice what they preach?

Not all the time. I always wonder about doctors in particular who talk about health but are obese or have a pot belly, about dentists who have terrible teeth and bad breath but then sell you on the expensive tooth brushes and breath freshners, about nutritionits who preach on healthy food but get a pizza on their way home to feed their children. Believe me I have met a few of them. And, it enrages me.

Of course with food I do understand cravings and going off track once in a while. The truth is, eating healthy is easier said than done. I also believe strongly in not posting recipes if I haven't tried it myself and can't vouch for it. Or claim something is nutritious or good without doing enough research and testing them out for myself.

If you are looking for variety, health, flavor and more check out recipes in Vidyaswamy's kitchen where nutrition and taste are combined into delectable vegetarian dishes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bitter Squash in Yogurt

No pain, no gain. If you are looking for a natural way to lower your blood sugar well, here is the definite answer. Bitter squash does your body good in spite of the slight bitterness. But, it is bearable and some even like the taste. When fresh, the bitterness is not pronounced. Mixed with yogurt, you may not even notice it.

Have a cup of this dish every other day and watch your sugar levels go down. Of course consult your doctor before adding this to your diet.

Here is a simple recipe.

Dice gourd into small cubes, skin and all.
Wash well.
Add 1 Tbsp. oil of your choice. Take a wok or a pan. Spurt some mustard seeds and urad dhal (white lentil), add 2 tsps. turmeric. Add the chopped squash and start sauteing. Keep turning the vegetables over for even cooking. Do not cover with a lid as it could make them more bitter. Add a bit more oil if needed. When more than half done, add salt. You may add a spoon of cayenne pepper. That'll help in reducing the bitterness. Also add 1 Tbsp. of tamarind juice or lemon juice. Remove the stove when vegetables are done. Add yogurt to a bowl and drop some of the cooked squash. Mix well. Add salt and black pepper for additional flavor. You may also sprinkle some chopped coriander right before serving.

Great as a side dish or mixed with rice or even by itself. Let me know if you tested this recipe out and send me your comments

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

TV appearance on Channel 2, St. Louis

I loved it. I was on the Fox News show this morning, April 4, 2012 and spoke about my winning recipe.

Please visit the link to see the video.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Live on Fox news, hearty vegetarian lentil soup

Watch me on Fox news morning hour, St. Louis. A short live segment on April 3, between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. Visit http://vidyaswamyskitchen.com for recipes and learn how to cook healthy with naturally healing ingredients.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Photos from the Soup Challenge Contest

Just getting back to routine after a fun weekend. Here are some pictures and some short write-ups as well that will recap the entire contest and my experience.

http://www.soupchallenge.com/new/2012/03/28/midwest-soup-challenge-winner-vidyas-hearty-vegetarian-lentil-soup/

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I won the Soup Contest!

A long drive followed by a long day at the Illinois Culinary Institute in Peoria, IL turned out to be quite a memorable trip. As a finalist, I was one among five others to participate in the Midwest Soup Challege.

The finalists from different parts of midwest met at the Illinois Culinary Institute, in Peoria, IL. The facility had a state-of-the-art chef's dream kitchen.

The cook-off started at 10:30 a.m. and finished up around 11:45 a.m. Five totally different soups competed against the New England Country Soups mainly on taste and nutrition. My hearty vegetarian lentil soup came out the winner. Three highly acclaimed judges did the taste tests of our soups.

The experience was similar to 'The Iron Chef' show we see on TV, with cameras going around showing the chefs at their finest, viewers watching from outside the enclosed kitchen space, the entire hour projected on TV, and the media writing and commenting on it.

The award I received as a winner was a standing ovation accmpanied by a bouquet of flowers, a heavy-duty brushed stainless steel ladle, two dinner tickets to the culinary restaurant, a weekend getaway to Martha's vineyard, all expenses paid. The Friday before the contest, my guest and I stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast in Peoria also compliments of the New England Country Soup team.

Here's the New England Country Soup Web site - http://www.soupchallenge.com. Over the course of the coming week, pictures will be posted on this site.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Calories - how do you count?

Calories are on all food items. How do you count them? Many people forget that the calorie count is usually per serving. So, if one serving (probably a few ounzes) has 300 calories and you have 2 servings, you are already into 600 calories.

A woman needs about 2,100 calories, ie. on an average. Say you have one bagel for breakfast, then a lunch (sandwich and salad) then a hearty dinner. Don't you think that could amount to at least 3,000 calories? Oh, don't forget the cream cheese and salad dressing!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Appetizing, savory vegetarian chilli

Check out my delicious vegetarian chilli recipe of this week. Here's a list of all my recipes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Broccoli Raab - Does it exist in the midwest?

Ever since I came here, I've been looking for my most favorite veggie - Broccoli Raab. Can someone help me with this? Where would I find them? There is a huge market place in downtown St. Louis that doesn't carry it. There is no Italian market either to go hunting for broccoli raab.

Food tastes very different compared to the east coast. Italian places are not anything Italian, the cheeses used are different, the way dishes are made are different as well. Mexican food-- forget that. None of the other ethnic foods come close to those in the east coast, actually many don't exist. It is quite frustrating when people can't cook in restaurants when do find one.

'The Hill' supposedly has good Italian restaurants. We went to one some months ago and found the food to be decent. By accident, thinking it was another Italian place we went there again. What a disappointment!

It's been a while since I moved here and still looking for decent places to eat.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hot and spicy pakodas south indian style


Oh, what a drab Sunday.

The only exciting event of today were my hot and spicy pakodas. Here is a picture. Look for the recipe tomorrow at vidyaswamyskitchen.com.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Soup Challenge Contest - A piece of good news

The soup challenge was a fun cotest which I entered way back in October or November of last year. Mid February I heard back from the organizers saying that I am a finalist.

If things go as planned, then I would be doing the final show in Peoria, IL at the Illinois Central College. The finals will take place at Illinois Central College (ICC) in Peoria, IL. The event will be held at ICC’s fabulous Culinary Arts Institute.

Thanks to all my fans who voted for me and continued until the last day of the challenge. I would love to hear back from you and will keep you posted as to what happens on March 24th at the finals.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Soft drinks - do you really need them?

I am not a great fan of soft drinks but I do like the taste of an orange soda or lemon/lime as in Sprite or Dr. Pepper off and on. I head toward these if they are available at gatherings.

For months on end I had not had a soda. But this morning I went out to get breakfast. They had an option of coffee or a softdrink. Coffee is not an option for me anytime, so I picked Dr. Pepper.

I eagerly had one sip. Although I wanted to drink at least half the cup, I couldn't get myself to have another sip. I just didn't want it anymore. It was a regular soda not diet but even the first sip left an after taste. So, I just poured the whole thing down the drian. Either my system is rejecting it or my taste buds have become too sensitive to artificial sweetners and high sugar drinks. I'm not quite sure. I'll try these sodas maybe on a pizza day and see what happens.

The surprising fact is some people get addicted to these sodas while others have experiences like me. Do we really need these sugar drinks in our diets?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vegetable Quesadillas

Recipe of the week - Try these absolutely tasty vegetable quesadillas for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Leftovers

I rarely had left over food when I was growing up. But after I left home, it became a necessity of life. I didn't have the time initially to cook a fresh meal every evening; now I have 45mins. to an hour to spare in the evenings after work. So, I cook everyday and am now used to it. Besides, my left over food was often consumed only by me. Thanks to my uber picky family.

Here's how I make cooking a meal every evening efficient. I plan the meals during weekends and make sure I have the ingredients ready. Even if they are not all fancy meals, at least a couple of them are involved ones. The planning makes it a lot easy. I take my leftovers for lunch. My refrigerator is clean and has just what is needed for the week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finally, they are here. The Food Police. At least in some cities and states.

We've all heard these statistics. One in three adults is obese and about 17% of children as well. There is growing awareness everywhere with promotion of exercise, diets, making good food available in poor neighborhoods, proper food labeling, stacking convenience store shelves with healthier foods, promoting and selling fruits and less sugared food varieties in cafeteria's and vending machines.

The Food Police is getting to be louder and louder. Now they are being heard. Yet not all local governments are able to execute their ideas in all areas. The Food Police are being pushed back in some cities.

Unfortunately, anti-obesity agendas have put convenience stores in the crosshairs of the food police, with at­tacks on sweet and salty snacks and beverages. Sales in grocery stores and convenience stores are bound to increase. Slowly and steadily. Until that happens, businesses would do well by working with the Food Police and helping out our obese citizens.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tomato Onion Chutney


I had not posted a recipe of the week in a while. Here is a simple chutney that's absolutely delicious and delightful.

This week's recipe is Tomato Onion Chutney. Try it with your morning breakfast. No other side condiments are necessary if you have this chutney.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mindfuly eating

Is it easy to meditate? Not for me. Whenever I attempt, it takes me a full 30 minutes to calm down even just a bit. It's not just one thought but several all at once like a series of movies, dramas and real life situations that race through my mind.

When I sit down to eat, it's the same race. A million thoughts rush in and before I know it, my plate is empty. I am not even sure what it is I ate at that meal. Possibly, many of you can relate to this crazy rush through life in everything we do.

There is a new way to deal with the hurried-stuffing of food and excess weight issues that result from it. It is called 'mindful eating'. It is a practice that's becoming more prevalent from universities to lunch hours at Google to holistic centers. The essence of 'mindful eating' is to think about the food and nothing else. The taste, texture, smell, looks, all being a part of it. The idea is to turn off the world completely and just focus on the food in front of you, relish every morsel, forget about everything else for a few mintues.

Advocates and experts on 'mindful eating' say we should spend meal time 'contemplating the enjoyment of spice, crunch, saltiness, warmth, tenderness and like-minded company'. Sounds easy. Actually, it may not be that easy. Although easier than trying out diets and failing miserably.

I'd say forget all diets. Just practice 'mindful eating' and who knows the excess pounds may just all melt away.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Labels are the worst offenders for weight loss. I agree.

Food Labels lie. That's the truth. They are more misleading than helpful. I believe the only positive here is the list of ingredients provided. It helps a bit but truly doesn't since most of the time there are unknown names and we don't have a clue as to what they really are. Why not abandon labeling completely like they do in India?

I just got back from a trip to India. I noticed that hardly any food item is labeled. People in general just don't question anything. It's like saying ignorance is bliss. So, which is better? Not labeling or lying?

Weight watchers need to realize that they have to find a different formula for measuring calorie intake and not totally rely on labels. There are too many hidden lies in those labels. A can of soup has x milligrams of salt per serving which is usually 1000s of mgms. A serving is only a third of a can. Most of us have a full can as a meal. So, the salt content is 1000s of mgms. times three. And, that's a lot of salt in one food item. This is just one tiny detail. Imagine how many more are missed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Annalakshmi - A one of a kind restaurant in Chennai

I was craving for an authentic restaurant food experience along with excellent service, ambience and fair price. I experienced them all at Annalakshmi.

Food was as good as home-cooked. Everything about this place was unique. We started off with a soup, followed by an array of breads, sides, dhals, south Indian specials and desserts. I would suggest going to this place with a big appetite to do justice to a display of exceptional, tasty dishes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Making my rounds to favorite restaurants

I am back in India for a short visit. Again, making my rounds to some incredible restaurants.

I was at Sangeeta last night. Same food, same quality. Bhel puri, pani puri, masala dosai with 3 different types of chutneys, badaam kheer and badaam halwa. Could have easily wiped it all off. But of course, I had a person to share this meal with. And, I did so reluctantly.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lose weight - Some Simple Secrets

From my own experience, a layperson's experience I discovered that just a few simple steps can truly help take excess weight off.

If you remember I wrote in one of my blogs right after the holidays that I had gained 3 to 4 pounds. Don't know how, my guess is by gorging on cheese, junk food and chocolates. I was horrified obviously and decided to do something right away.

Here's exactly what I did. I stopped cheese and chocolates completely. I also packed my lunch. They usually consist of soups and salads with a lot of fruits. Snacks like granola bar, walnuts and almonds. Most likely cereal for breakfast with a banana. Then a good balanced dinner with lots of vegetables, some bread but not in excess. Cardio and weights total 3 times a week for about an hour. I did this for two weeks and was thrilled to see my pounds melting away. It really does work.

If you eat meat, keep it to smaller portions and if you are not satisfied add nuts and vegetables. See the magic happen.

Oh, one more. This may or may not be a reason but my total hours of sleep went down to 8 from 9 or even 9.5 hours. Needed to get to work!

I would be thrilled to hear your questions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Broccoli - make it spicy and healthy

Check out this delicious recipe of the week. Make it mild and your children will never say NO to broccoli.

Health benefits - High in Vitamin C. Great for bone health, heart health and vision health as well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Go Nuts with Nuts

Some nuts are all around goodness for your health.

Walnuts and almonds are definitely the most recommended of the good Omega 3 fatty acid nuts among all others. All you need is take about 8 walnuts and 8 almonds every day, any time of day.

See the magic happy to your cholesterol readings. If you don't have a problem with cholesterol, a handful of nuts as indicated above will keep them constantly healthy. If you do have cholesterol issues, they lower the bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.

So, go ahead and go Nuts.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Quick, delicious appetizers

If you need to throw an appetizer party with very little advance notice, say half a day's notice, it's quite easy. As long as you don't have to spend time cleaning up the place. In my experience, I can tell you cleaning up before and prep work on the house take the longest time.

So, if we are talking just appetizers, here are some ideas.

1. There's always the colorful vegetable platter.
2. You can also bring color by having a crystal bowl full of berries. You'd just need to wash and dry them.
3. A beautifully laid cheese platter with just a couple assortment of cheeses but displayed artistically. Adding a bunch of black and green grapes make them even more appetizing.
4. Simple cucumber or tomato and cheese sandwiches neatly cut into quarters.
5. The indian spicy wafer appetizer with chutney is always a hit as well.
6. A couple store bought appetizers such as spinach dip with sour dough around in a platter or Baby quiches
7. Marinated artichoke with melted cheese on top. Lay crackers around the dip. YUMM!

Okay top it off with a few bottles of wine. You can get all of this done in an hour. Promise.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A vegan lives the healthiest life

A vegetarian: My definition of a vegetarian is one who eats everything except meat, chicken, and sea food or anything that once moved. Sometimes, people call themselves vegetarians but eat everything except red meat. They are NOT true vegetarians and their idea of being a vegetarian is quite distorted.

I've always thought that being a 'a vegan' is extremely difficult since they avoid gluten foods as well, along with meat and dairy. However, the foods they eat have the least toxins or none at all. From everything I'm reading and from talking to several vegans, I understand they do have balanced and healthy diets. Lately, more people have chosen to become vegans.

With a little more research and help through cook books I'm sure it is possible. This is something to experiment with especially with grocery stores and restaurants having more vegan options.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Too much salt is really not that bad

Recent studies say that less salt intake is worse than too much salt. So, should all of us start using excess salt in our foods? Common sense tells us excess salt equals high blood pressure. So, what should we do?

I'd say stick to minimum salt. Balance is never a bad answer when it comes to food.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Mango Pacchadi
Wish you all a fantastic year ahead.

I started off the recipe of this week with a Mango condiment called 'Mango Pacchadi', usually made in some homes in southern India. This recipe is a tradition of my family made on Tamil New Year's day which falls on April 14th; I have started the tradition of making it on Jan. 1st as well.

Check it out on vidyaswamyskitchen.com.