Thursday, June 16, 2016

pumpkin stir fry salad | sage butter infused pumpkin, baby potato and paneer salad


sage butter infused pumpkin, baby potato and paneer salad

Pumpkin is one of my favourite vegetables for more reasons than one. Very few people realize Pumpkin is as good as a fruit in terms of the antioxidants it packs. Especially the Carotenoids of pumpkin are comparable to Papayas, I keep telling people who don't like pumpkin.

Yes a few friends actually used to hate pumpkin and have started eating now after this comparison with fruit. More recipe ideas also work because most people who don't like pumpkin have actually tasted something insipid in the past and were turned off pumpkin for life.

Let's change that and make more people enjoy pumpkin. Pumpkin is after all one of the desi super foods not only because it packs superb nourishment but also because it grows without much fuss, all parts of the plant (flowers, leaves, fruit and seeds) are edible and most farmers grow it without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

I prefer buying a whole pumpkin so I get all the seeds to myself. We love eating the seeds as a snack or sprinkled over salads etc. Try popping a few fresh pumpkin seeds in your mouth next time when you chop a pumpkin and see how fresh and delicious they are.

pumpkin

Did you know pumpkins can be stored in a loft for more than 8 months if it gets perfectly ripe and the skin is undamaged?

In fact I once saw special hanging baskets made of rope in an old Hyderabad market where they had hung many pumpkins and I found it a great way to display them and keep them good (aerated) for a long time. They had hung Ash gourds along with Pumpkins too which keeps well if it is mature enough.

pumpkin hanging

Even after cutting the pumpkin into wedges, you can cling-wrap them and keep refrigerated for a couple of months. If a portion of the pumpkin starts rotting you can just discard the affected portion and use the rest. How wonderful is that?

Coming back to the pumpkin salad, I have some nice Sage growing in the garden right now and I am fearing it might perish in the rains. Though I sun dry a lot of the sage leaves but using them fresh is something I look forward to. This sage butter infused pumpkin and baby potato and paneer salad was born out of this desire to use the sage, the pumpkin from a farm in Manesar as well as the baby potatoes from Tijara farm. Fresh produce inspired me like nothing else.

sage plant

ingredients 
(2 meal servings)

500 gm pumpkin with yellow orange flesh, preferably with skin
12 baby potatoes boiled and peeled
100 gm paneer cubed in bite sized pieces, kept in warm water
2 dozen fresh sage leaves or use dry
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic or a bit more (I used 2 tsp)
salt and pepper to taste
chilli flakes or paprika powder as per taste

procedure 

Mix the butter, garlic and half of the torn sage leaves together.

Choose a pan that is wide and large so all the vegetables can be spread out in a single layer. Else you may want to bake everything together. I like pan frying as it is quick and doesn't heat up the kitchen.

Heat the pan and add the butter mix, let it melt and add the pumpkin cubes. Toss to coat well, sprinkle salt and let it cook on medium heat, tossing it all after every couple of minutes.

Add the halved baby potatoes and paneer cubes. Let them brown along with the pumpkin pieces while it is being tossed and cooked. Take care not to crush the pieces while tossing.

Sprinkle pepper, adjust salt and keep tossing till you get the right texture that you prefer. We like it cooked through but firm, lightly charred in a few places.

I repeat if you mix everything together and bake it in a wide baking tray your work will be easier so do that if it suits. 

Empty in a serving dish and serve right away. This salad is best eaten warm but we loved it even at room temperature. It has become a lunch box salad for Arvind too.

sage butter infused pumpkin, baby potato and paneer salad

Rocket leaves, baby spinach, purslane greens etc can be added to the serving platter and it does make this salad all the more desirable. I grow these leaves so it is easier to get. Try growing a few leafy greens that you can use over your salads all year round.

Time to make this salad with or without fresh leafy greens. Sage butter is the flavour that takes baby potatoes to another level but pumpkin was very happy in this company too. I was actually surprised to see how paneer took to this salad so well.

Here is a pumpkin, chickpea and paneer salad made with thyme butter

Here is another caramelized pumpkin salad with garlic thyme butter and cheddar.

I am shocked to see I haven't yet posted a pumpkin wedge salad (steak) that I make with calamondin tahini dressing. You can see it here on my Instagram feed.

Pumpkin is delicious. You haven't tried a nice recipe if you don't agree with me here :-)




Tuesday, May 31, 2016

beetroot juice can become your best energy drink | beet juice recipes to fight inflammation and improve muscle efficiency

beet juice with fruits

Beets are nourishing healthful food not just because they are rich in antioxidant pigments. The nitrates and Betaines found in beets make them one of the best foods to heal and nourish the tissues. I have already enumerated reasons to include beetroots into everyday meals, I would also like to tell that I have myself experienced how beet juice helps improving the energy level and even helps athletes to improve their performance.

I usually don't recommend juices but when one needs some specific nutrients instantly into the bloodstream, the juices help. Like in this case the nitrates and Betaines together help improve the stamina (read more), muscle efficiency (here) and overall performance in sports or exercise (see here). I have experienced the beet juice giving great result in the instance of adrenal fatigue and stress induced Fibromyalgia. Fresh beet juice with some lime juice and rock salt gives relief in Fibro fog, the inability to focus when there is a Fibromyalgia flare.

The way beets work can be further explored and since it is a cheap and readily available ingredient I feel glad recommending it to everyone who needs it. All the above benefits are more pronounced in the form of juice, I have actually not compared the juice with raw or cooked beets but imagine you can drink the juice of 2 beets easily while eating 2 beets in a salad will become a meal, preventing you from having some more nutrients you may need when you want to improve stamina or treat your fibromyalgia or even extreme exertion.

beet and pineapple juice

The beet juice with rock salt and lime juice is alkalaising for the system and helps in managing Gout and uric acid surge. I sometimes add chunks of pineapple to make the juice tastier since pineapple is anti inflammatory too. The beet juice combination with pomegranate and amla is also quite tasty.

beet and celery juice

You can add some celery to the juice and the benefits remain the same, with a little difference in the final taste. Adding different beneficial ingredients to the juice helps get multiplied benefits and keeps one interested in the drink that one has to drink everyday. 

 beet complex juice

The one combination I found the most beneficial in managing muscle efficiency, DOMS, pain management and to boost energy and healing in general is this one I call Beet complex.

My beet complex includes 1inch piece of both fresh turmeric and ginger roots, one amla and 2 beets per serving, along with salt and pepper sometimes even a green chilli. This combination, I must add is NOT tasty but the most healing for the body. 

ingredients for beet complex juice

This beet complex helps gut health along with it's anti inflammatory effect and of course regulating the blood pressure too.

beet complex juice

If you find beet leaves you can cook it like palak paneer or even make rajma with beet greens. More beetroot recipes can be explored to keep using them everyday. Beetroots or beet leaves cooked with meat is great too, check this chukandar gosht and try if you wish.

beet greens

A very good everyday beetroot dip is made using grated raw or steamed beets. The recipe can be found here.

beetroot tzatziki

You can grow beets easily if you have some space. Or try and find beets with greens to get the most of them. This is one vegetable that should be in your weekly shopping list.

beetroots

I know many people who don't like beets because of the strong earthy taste (that is due to the betaines) but on the other hand some other people love beets precisely for the same reason. Try different recipes if you want to include them in your everyday meals and make it more palatable for yourself.

The beet juice with pineapple is quite a tasty concoction so it can be your daily juice if you wish. The beet complex needs a bit of stronger will but you do eat and drink your medicines too.