Wheat Berry and Butternut Squash Salad

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I think all immigrants who come to the western world have their own funny stories related to English pronunciation and accents, and we are no exception. Over the 12 years or so that we have been here, we have picked up on slangs and new ways of explaining ourselves, but it has certainly been a process. When we lived in Dallas, we had to explain to our parents how they were pronouncing the city wrong - it was Da as in David, and Not Du as in Dull. "Da-llas" not ""Dull-Ass". Then we were in Miami, and we had to fix their "Me-Amy". Anup still defends himself when I bring up a funny incident that happened in Dallas. Anup's business partner had a four year old son, Cooper, we babysat one … [Read more...]

Healthy Cookies – Quinoa and Almond Flour Cookies with Chai Spiced Almond Butter

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When I decided to make a change in my life by making healthier choices, I had to unlearn so many of my old habits. One of the hardest things to do was to eat more. Yes, more. Back when I was heavier, skipping meals was something I gave myself props for. I would start my day with a large cup of Starbucks coffee with two shots of espresso, and that would set me up till about 4 pm. I wouldn't get hungry and I used to be so happy about that! Dinner was my largest meal, and because I felt so good about skipping meals earlier in the day, generally I indulged myself with comfort foods at restaurants. As I started to make a positive change in my eating habits, I learned about the importance of … [Read more...]

Lentil Soup – Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens

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There is a guy who is a regular at the gym I go to. I have noticed that all the exercises he does at the gym are for his chest - bench presses, push ups, flies - day in and day out. I have never seen him do any dead lifts, or lunges, or pull ups. He knows chest workouts, and he is really good at it. In hind sight, my diet back when I ate out more than I cooked meals myself, was similar to this guy's workout routine. A significant portion of my meals consisted of carbohydrates and meats - pizzas, pastas, burgers. Lack of fruits and vegetables in my diet meant absence of sour, bitter and astringent tastes. My liking for sweet and mellow flavor profiles along with the lack of other tastes … [Read more...]

Baked Samosas with Sprouted Moong Filling

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Every culture has a version of samosas - fried or baked pastry with savory fillings like potatoes, peas, or ground meats. My mom used to make samosas from scratch, and they were always served hot for the guests. Our little family would turn into a small commercial enterprise. I would roll the pastries, my little sister would put the filling in, and my mom will fry the samosas. Dad was the floor manager taking out the hot fried samosas to our beloved guests. Traditionally, samosas are deep fried, but I think the baked version tasted even better! Guilt free samosas? Count me in! When the issue of obesity in the western world is discussed, the media is quick to point out … [Read more...]

A Healthy Snack – Roasted Lentils with Green Mango Salsa

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Jugaad (Hindi: जुगाड़) - Jugaad is a term applied to a creative or innovative idea providing a quick, alternative way of solving or fixing a problem. Jugaad literally means an improvised arrangement or work-around, which has to be used because of lack of resources. Jugaad sums up a lifestyle of millions of people in India. I saw my parents buy a dress for me, which got passed on to my little sister. When she outgrew the dress, it was turned into a pillow cover. When the cover started showing holes, it was turned into a cloth to clean our bicycles with. Poor dress. Jugaad is most visible if you are traveling in India by train. Four people might be sitting on a berth that's meant for … [Read more...]

Birthday Cake – Almond Cake with Honey

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I met a boy 21 years ago, the boy was 13 then. He was a slender kid with curly hair who rode around his bicycle on the dirt roads in India. He could solve math problems faster than anyone I have known. I was an emotional girl, who saw beauty in flowers and dreamt of the ocean. He read "Think and Grow Rich" while I read "Pride and Prejudice". We were polar opposites from the beginning. He lived in a hostel, away from his parents. I thought the reason why he wanted to be friends with me was the home made meals he got to have at my place sometimes. He was full of big dreams; he told me he wanted to see the world and take me with him. I listened to him intently as he told me what America … [Read more...]

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk Panna Cotta

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Even before I attended culinary school, I was an adventurous home cook. I read a lot of food magazines, watched every episode of top chef and drooled over amazing pictures on my favorite food blogs. I like to think that everything I have read about food, every picture and recipe I have come across has contributed to the cook I am today. Nothing has changed me more as a cook than my training at the culinary school. If I had to describe my style of cooking before culinary school in one phrase, it would be "more is better". If I had to enhance a dish, I always looked to do more. More ingredients, more sauces, more spices - I thought these things made my dishes "more … [Read more...]