Friday, September 6, 2019

A Balanced Vegetarian Meal plus Product Review

Elements of a Balanced Vegetarian Meal plus reviewing Vegetarian products from Healthy Choice, Gardein and Birds Eye. 

This post sponsored by on behalf of Conagra Brands. All opinions are mine alone.

It is Friday and we are gearing up for the weekend. Fridays call for easy meals that are delicious and filling. Today I am showcasing a meal that is all this and MORE! 

A perfect vegetarian meal consists of protein, vegetables, greens and a delish side that brings everything together. I got a bunch of items from Healthy Choice, Gardein and Birds Eye that completed my meal. A perfect mix of plant based protein with other items, the meal was great for busy days and beyond. 

A Balanced Vegetarian Meal

For those who enjoy a meat free lifestyle, it is often a struggle to get the right amount of nutrition from a meal. In order to get everything right, it is essential to include a little bit of all kinds of food on the plate. I have been meat free all my life and was striving to get a balanced meal for myself. 

With several experiments and changes in my diet, I realized there is a need to include the following elements in the platter. Today I am sharing my findings which are purely based on my experience with food over the years. 

Proteins in Vegetarian Meals

A meat based diet boasts of a LOT of protein options, the vegetarian diet has quite a few options too. From legumes, nuts, seeds, milk based protein to tofu, tempeh and seitan. Having one of these plant based proteins is always a great idea. 

A few protein rich recipes that are easy to make: 

Nutrient dense whole foods 

After the protein content in the food, next comes the nutrient dense whole foods. These include fruits, vegetables and whole grains that help bridge any nutritional gaps. Including fresh salads, fruit based recipes and a LOT of whole grains makes any meal PERFECT. 

Here are some recipes that include one or more of these nutrient dense whole foods: 

Nuts and Seeds in a meal

Having a handful of nuts and seeds is always a great idea. If you do not like them as is, you can include them in recipes and have some in any meal. They are a source of natural oil and other nutrients in the diet. 

To include nuts and seeds, here are a handful of recipes:

Healthy fats in the diet

A vegetarian diet can only be complete by including some healthy fats. These range from coconut oil and olive oil to oil rich ingredients like avocados. Include them to cook meals or to make salad dressings. They form an essential part of the diet for sure. 

A box full of DELISH products

Having considered everything above, I recently reviewed a box of delish goodies from Healthy Choice, Gardein and Birds Eye. The box had everything to make a perfect dinner. The box had three products that complemented the others perfectly. We definitely intend to get more of these for easy to make Friday meals! 

I started off with the Gardein Nashville Hot Chick'n Tenders. The Vegan side made from plant based protein is amazing. Perfectly seasoned, great taste and texture describe these nuggets in the best way. Whether served as a side or as an appetizer, these would definitely make an appetizing plant based dish. We thoroughly enjoyed these as a side for our meal! 

The next side in the box was Birds Eye Oven Roasters Sheet Pan Vegetables. The pack had a mix of cauliflower and broccoli and was seasoned with sea salt, pepper and herbs. All that needed to be done was to place them in the oven and let them cook for a few minutes. The result was perfectly crisp vegetables that made a great Vegan side. The herbs were just right to not overpower the taste of the vegetables. Get a bunch of these folks; they are totally worth it! 

The last part of the meal was the main dish. Power Bowls from Healthy Choice, we had the Mango Edamame bowl from the box. Edamame, mango and vegetables served on top of brown and red rice, red quinoa and black barley; the red wine vinaigrette, dried cherries and sunflower seeds made perfect toppings for the dish. We loved every element of the meal, especially the combination of mango and edamame. 

Overall, the meal was amazing. Different flavors, textures and colors came together wonderfully on the platter. Everything came together quickly and easily and the portion size was just right too! If you would like your own meal from the box, get it here. You can mix and match flavors and combinations you like to complete the meal! 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Easy NO-GRIND Dosa Recipe

Perfectly crisp dosas made with minimal preparation; this version can be made without soaking and grinding rice and lentil. The recipe is GREAT for a snack or for dinner! 

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Dosa, a crisp lentil and rice crepe from India is super delish to enjoy. Enjoyed as breakfast or a quick dinner, these crepes are generally served with an array of chutneys and sambar. 

These crepes are generally made by soaking rice and lentil (urad dal), grinding it and fermenting it for a few hours. The batter is then used to make crepes on a hot griddle or tava. The entire process takes close to 24 hours to get everything together. 

An easier way to make these crepes at home are to skip the first two steps and ferment a mixture of rice flour and urad dal flour. The recipe shortens the time required from 24 hours to 8-10 hours. So plan to make dosas and get them for dinner the same day! As simple as that! 

How to get the NO-GRIND batter right each time?

This batter needs ground rice and urad dal. The ground flours are available to buy off the shelf or make it yourself. I like to use my NutriMill to mill the flours to a fine consistency and use the freshly milled flours to make the batter. That way, I know what rice and dal goes into my batter and I can adjust the consistency of the flours too. 

The rice I use for the recipe is Idli Rice and the Urad Dal is the Gota Urad Dal. Both are easily available in most Indian stores and on Amazon. The proportion of rice to dal is 3:1; the same as traditional dosa recipe. While I add some fenugreek seeds to the traditional recipe, I skip them in this. The rice flour results in crisp dosas without having to add anything extra. 

Given that the batter is made using flours, ensure the water is not too much while fermenting. There is really no way to remove the excess water after fermenting. So if you end up with a thin batter, add some rice flour at the end to make the batter thick. 

How are these different from regular Dosas?

As mentioned above, these crepes are made from fermented flours instead of soaking and grinding. The time reduces considerably to make the batter. 

Besides the time taken, the flavor varies a little. If the flours are store bought, they tend to be super fine and that changes the texture of the final product. If you like the dosas with slightly coarse flour, use a mill or a high power blender to make the flours at home.

The fermented batter made from slightly coarse lentil and rice does give flavor and texture similar to the traditional version. This is definitely a short cut version and might vary slightly from the actual recipe. But if you want dosas in under 12 hours; this recipe is a keeper! 

What to serve with these Dosas?

Dosas make a great breakfast or dinner recipe. There are plenty of options to make the dosas more interesting. From converting the simple dosa to Indo-Chinese version by adding noodles to it or to a more spicy version using Mysore Masala powder, dosa is a versatile dish that can be customized easily. 

These dosas taste awesome with the same condiments and sides as regular dosas. If you are looking for dipping sauces (chutneys) and sides; try these: 


Rice flour 3 cups
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Water 2-3 cups 
Oil as required


To make the dosa batter

In a bowl mix together rice flour, urad dal flour and salt. Add in water as needed to form a batter.

Ensure there are no lumps and the consistency of the batter is thicker than pancake batter. 

Leave the batter in a warm place to ferment for 8-10 hours. It is super easy to make the batter in the Instant Pot using the 'Yogurt' function. Check out the detailed recipe here

Once the batter is fermented, ensure the consistency is maintained. In case the batter is too thick, add some more water and mix well. The batter can be refrigerated for 4-5 days.

To make the dosas

Heat a cast iron griddle or tava. Add some oil to grease the tava. 

Take a ladle full of batter and spread it evenly on the griddle. Let the dosa cook till it is light brown. 

Flip over, add some more oil/ghee and cook for a couple of minutes. 

Serve the dosa with SambarCilantro Coconut Chutney and Tomato Onion Chutney. It tastes best when enjoyed warm.