Category Archives: Vegan

Indian Food Basics: Mint Chutney and Raita

We will be having friends over for dinner every Saturday (starting with this past Saturday) through June.  Binks said it’s great because 1. it forces us to keep our house clean and 2. we eat well.  Obviously – refer to above picture.  I also can’t wait to share some menus with you all.

When a good friend of mine came up from Oklahoma City to visit me, with her new boyfriend, I knew what I wanted to make them.  She and I frequently discussed and ate Indian food while I lived in OKC.  And, while you would think otherwise, one of my favorite Indian restaurants is in OKC proper.  Now, I didn’t know about the boyfriend so I decided to take my chances.  I’m glad I did.  And according to him and his plate, he was glad, as well.  I was especially pleased as he considered himself a sole meat and potatoes kinda guy.

I have made two of the above-referenced dishes (dal and saag), and will give you the remaining recipes soon (especially the butter paneer – heavenly).  

If you should find yourself wanting to prepare a full Indian meal, I’m going to impart some wisdom your way to help you complete your menu, specifically the condiments.  It’s no secret that Indian food can be spicy.  More importantly, with Indian food, you’re going to get a variety of flavor.  Below, you will find your usual accompaniments  to an Indian meal.  If you have been to an Indian buffet, you will have seen these for sure.

First, you have your pickle/achar.  What this is a preserved item with spices.  Popularly, the preserved item is a lemon, mango, or a mixture of both.  There are so many options to pickles/achars that it’s a magnificent condiment.

Second, the chutney.  Usually, from my experience, it’s mint.  And, traditionally, the mint chutney is served with North Indian (as opposed to South Indian) cuisine.  This provides a fresh and crisp side/condiment to a meal.  Comprised of only fresh ingredients, the chutney offers you a clean flavor to be used on appetizers such as samosas and/or pakoras.  I always enjoy using a bit on my rice, as well.

Last, but definitely not least, my favorite – raita.  As I said, Indian food is quite flavorful and in some cases, spicy.  Whether you use pickle/achar or chutney, you want to offer raita whenever you serve most Indian food.  The raita is the cooling factor in a meal and offers relief from spicy dishes without having to resort to water (which doesn’t actually make it better).

Mint Chutney


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 serrano chili peppers (use jalapeno for less heat, and also feel free to reduce the amount of pepper)
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 cup mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp salt

  1. Add the garlic, ginger, peppers, tomato, and onion in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. Add the cilantro, mint, and lemon juice and puree until smooth.
  3. Season with salt.  Add more salt if required.



  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or whole milk yogurt)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp finely minced cilantro leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste (Don’t use too much pepper.  I’d limit it to about a big pinch.)


  1. Mix all ingredients together.   Serve cold.


Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Oven Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

While I believe we incorporate a good amount of veggies in our household diet, spring time really is a great time to add more to your repertoire. My in-laws have a substantial garden growing by this time and they are quite eager to share. I consider it my family CSA. Recently, they brought over some green beans and red potatoes for me.

I wanted to make a dish to highlight the best of the two ingredients while maintaining the flavor of the food. I kept it simple. A combination of favors with the ease of this dish cannot be beat. I have used this side dish to compliment many main courses, including blackened salmon, which we served on Mother’s Day this year.

While the original recipe did not call for onions, the addition of the same gives the dish a dimension of flavor that I appreciate. If you are not an onion fan, feel free to omit.

What fruits or vegetables do you look forward to during the spring?

Oven Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
Adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog who adapted it from Ina Garten and The Joy of Cooking


  • 1 pound potatoes, diced large (I prefer the smaller potatoes, i.e. fingerling, small red, small gold.)
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 1 pound string green beans, ends removed
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and onions.
  3. Toss the potatoes and onions with olive oil to coat.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the coated potatoes and onions to a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  Toss once while cooking, at the half-way mark.
  7. After the potatoes are tender, toss in the string beans to the pan.
  8. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the beans are tender.
  9. Remove from the oven and add more salt and/or pepper if you want.


Filed under Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian

Slow Cooker Urad Dal Curry

My mom and MIL swear by their pressure cooker.  I think a lot Indian women do.  I, on the other hand, am scared of it.  What I’m about to say is not logical at all.  My fear is that the top of the pressure cooker will fly off once it starts whistling and the steam will burn my face off.  Again, completely devoid of logic.

Give me a slow cooker any day.  Slow and steady wins the race for me.

Combining the rich black lentils (urad dal) and rajma (red kidney beans) with several spices in a slow simmer for 8+ hours pretty much guarantees comfort in a bowl.

I had every intention of eating this as a side with my rice or roti.  However, what started as a taste turned into me just pouring a bowl for dinner.  And for many dinners after that.  I served with a side of onions and tomatoes splashed with lemon juice.  Delicious, nutritious and easy-peasy.  And, if you didn’t want to use the slow cooker, or don’t have one, you can just as easily cook this over the stove using the same heat settings.

Urad Dal Curry


  • 1 cup urad dal (dry black lentils), washed
  • 1/2 cup rajma (dry red kidney beans), washed
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (Adjust to taste.  If you don’t prefer that spicy, start with 1 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup ghee (or butter)
  • salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro to garnish (some people prefer to mix it in but if you don’t, omit altogether)


  1. Soak the urad dal and rajma in a bowl of water overnight (at least 8 hours).
  2. The next morning, place everything except the salt and cilantro in the slow cooker.  Fill with enough water where you have at least two inches above the beans.
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours.  After 4 hours, add salt, starting with 1 tsp and increasing to your liking.*
  4. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 4 hours.
  5. Serve with chopped cilantro.

*At this point, I add a little less salt than I think the dish calls for.  As the dish continues to simmer, the salt gets concentrated so I hold back until after the full 8 hours to add more.


Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Comfort Food: Dal Curry

For the past few months, Binks has decided to cut meat (save fish) from his diet.  My job has then been to make sure he incorporates healthy proteins to ensure he is full and satisfied with what he eats.

The easiest, cheapest and tastiest way to do this?

Lentils.  Specifically, dal curry.

There are several ways to prepare dal, but this is the absolute favorite for me.  It’s comforting and flavorful.  On top of it all, it packs a healthy punch.

I used to make this version often (given to me by my MIL) until I perfected this version.  Now, it’s one of those dishes where I’m absolutely satisfied with the results and acts as a “go-to” recipe for me.

For this recipe, I use yellow split lentils as it cooks fairly quickly and does not need the overnight soak that other lentils typically require (i.e. urad dal).  You can also use masoor dal (red lentils) as it cooks quickly, as well.

Dal Curry

–  1 cup dal (I use yellow split lentils or toor dal)
–  2 cups water
–  1/4 tsp turmeric
–  1 tsp salt
–  3 tbsp olive oil
–   1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to your taste – if unsure, start with a scant 1/4 tsp and go up if you want)
–  1/4 tsp cumin
–  1/4 tsp turmeric
–  1/2 tsp coriander
–  2 tsp ginger paste (you can also just grate fresh ginger)
–  2 serranos, diced (you can use jalapenos and/or adjust the amount per your taste)
–  1 small onion, diced
–  3 cloves garlic, minced
–  2 small tomatoes, diced
–  big pinch of garam masala
–  salt to taste

For tadka:
–  1/2 tsp cumin seeds
–  2 dry red chili, tear apart with your hands
–  pinch of asafeotida
–  1/2 tsp garam masala
–  2 tbsp olive oil

1.   Place 1 cup dal, 2 cups water, and 1/4 tsp turmeric into pot and boil until the dal until the dal is soft.  Mash some of the dal in the pot.  Add salt to the dal mix.
2.  In a separate pan, heat oil over medium-high heat, and add cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, coriander and ginger paste (or grated ginger) and fry until the raw smell of the spices vanish, about 2 minutes.
3.   Add the onion, garlic and serranos (or jalapenos or any other pepper you decided to use) and saute for another 4 minutes until the onions have browned a bit.
4.   Add the tomato and cook for another 5 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and mixed with the spices and onion mix.
5.  Add the dal mixture (water and all), and lower the heat to medium.  Now, taste to see if you need more salt and add if you need.  Once properly salted, add a pinch of garam masala to ‘finish it off’ and stir to incorporate.  Cook the dal over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  (At this point, if you want the consistency to be more watery or soupy, add boiled water, 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.  I prefer my dal a bit thicker so I just usually add 1/4 cup.  Remember, as the dal cools, it thickens so add water accordingly.)
6.  While the dal is cooking, in a separate pan, you prepare your tadka.  Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.  Once the oil has heated, add cumin seeds and let it sputter for approximately 1 minutes.  Then add the dry red chili, asoafeotida, and 1/2 tsp garam masala.  Cook until the raw smell of the spices is gone and the red chili peppers have toasted a bit.
7.  Pour the tadka into the dal and stir.
8.  Serve hot, preferably with rice.

I love the combination of this dal curry with brown rice.  Talk about hearty and perfect for a fall night.


Filed under Dinner, Favorites, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Detoxing After Ranch Attack

After the crazy week of vacation and adjusting to being back at home and work, I needed a detox.  And, I usually do this when my eating and exercising have not been up to par.  I mean come on, I just told you about my ranch and hot sauce covered cheese steak sandwich and my love of french fries at every meal.

Detoxing is in order.  After eating all those heavy meals, I don’t just naturally go back to eating healthy.  It takes time and it takes a plan.

I have been using Amazing Grass products for a while.  When, I read about and had the opportunity to participate in the 2 Week Challenge, I jumped at the chance. When, I heard about the different Amazing Meal flavors, specifically the Pomegranate Mango Infusion, I did a cart-wheel in my head.

Once you sign up for the 2 Week Challenge, you get a daily inspirational email (for two weeks) and then a meal plan.  The meal plan starts out each day with a smoothie.

And, I wouldn’t want to start it any other way these hot summer days.

I have to say this was by far the prettiest smoothie bowl I have ever made.  It was just as delicious.

In the Mix:

  • 1 scoop Amazing Meal Pomegranate Mango Infusion
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats

On Top:

  • Shredded coconut
  • Blueberry granola

I enjoyed every bite.


What do you do to detox?  When do you usually do it?  Have you tried the Amazing Grass challenge?  Notice any changes?


Filed under Breakfast, Favorites, Vegan, Vegetarian

Life After Cleanse

Since the juice cleanse, I have been trying to keep up with the SCD Diet.  It’s definitely hard as I’m not used to scrutinizing everything I eat.  And, it may come as a surprise that giving up bread is really hard.  I don’t miss the cookies and cakes as much as bread, pasta and rice.

My skin has stayed about the same – a little more inflamed since the fast but not as bad as it was before at all.

So what have I been eating?

If you read Joy The Baker’s blog, you know that she did the Blue Print Cleanse and after, she made a vegan cream of mushroom soup.

I followed suit.  Because if it’s one thing I’ve learned is that for good food – do what Joy does.

There is nothing seemingly vegan about this soup.  It’s rich and most of all – creamy.

This was my first time experimenting with cashew cream and I am hooked for LIFE!  Mind you, I’m not a soup person.  I will push aside any bowl of soup for a salad monster or a sandwich.  But, this soup takes the no-grain-no-sugar-no-flour cake.

And it seems like lately my life meals aren’t complete without an apple (I’ve turned into Dorry) and some sauteed spinach.

More news – my life hasn’t been on pause lately.  I’m going to do the hydrogen breath test.  If it is SIBO, I am likely going to start taking Rifaximin (Xifaxan) to see if this can be cured/helped.  I will keep you all updated.

If you or any loved ones deal with any type of stomach, intestinal, or internal problems, you have to know that a lot of damage has been done by the past.  So, time is necessary to heal what has been broken.

Be good to your insides and I have faith that you will glow on the outside.

What do you eat on a daily basis?  Do you believe in the apple-a-day theory/rule?  How are you good to your physical or emotional insides?


Filed under Health, Life, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Oh, It Is LOVE! {Giveaway}

Can I just say that I have some of the nicest and most caring readers anyone could ever ask for?!  So many of you e-mailed and commented with really great advice and personal stories regarding yesterday’s (very personal) post.  I was feeling much better by the end of the day.  LOVE was truly in the (blog) air!

It’s quite amazing how people you never met could show you so much LOVE when you need it the most.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  And I truly do LOVE you all.

And I want to show you some LOVE in return.

About a month ago, LOVE came to Dallas.  LOVE by the name of Maddie and Alex.  This power couple is the brains and LOVE behind Love Grown Foods.  Love Grown Foods is really a granola movement – granola for everyone.  Love Grown Foods granola is gluten-free, refined sugar-free, trans fat-free, preservative free, and free of artificial flavors.  In addition to all this, Love Grown granola is DELICIOUS – it actually tastes like LOVE has been put into every oat cluster.  Ask Dorry and Lindsay – they know!

Despite our plans to meet up, scheduling issues kept us from meeting.  Despite this, Maddie still sent some LOVE my way.  (P.S. If you ever meet/talk to her, you’ll see – she’s quite LOVEly.)

So, in an effort to pass along the LOVE, Maddie has agreed to give some LOVE to a very lucky reader.  One lucky reader will receive the bag of their choice, along with mini bags of the remaining flavors so you can sample them all!

And, because you have been so good to me, I will send another reader TWO bags of your choice.  Now, keep in mind, I have already tore into the Cocoa Goodness so that’s out.  (Whoops!)

There are four other delicious flavors for you to choose from.

–  Apple Walnut Delight

–  Simply Oats

–  Sweet Cranberry Pecan

–  Raisin Almond Crunch

Take a look at the Love Grown Foods website and blog, the adventures of Maddie and Alex as they tour and promote their granola full of LOVE!

The following are many ways to enter for a chance to receive some LOVE yourself:

1.  Leave me a comment telling me what flavor of the Love Grown Food granola you would like to try.

2.  Leave me a comment telling me a blog post or recipe that you liked on my blog.

3.  Follow me on Twitter (@oliepants) and leave a separate comment letting me know.

4.  Tweet the following (@oliepants is giving away some @LoveGrownFoods LOVE! ), and leave a separate comment letting me know.

5.  Mention this giveaway in a blog post and leave a separate comment letting me know.

6.  Follow @LoveGrownFoods on Twitter and leave a separate comment letting me know.

7.  “Like” LoveGrownFoods on Facebook and leave a separate comment letting me know.

Whew!  Is that a list or is that a list?!

You can comment until Friday, April 1, 2011 at 11:59 p.m.  I will announce the winner on Monday, April 7, 2011!

**This giveaway only ships to those in the U.S.!**

So, what are you waiting for?  Spread some LOVE!!


Filed under Breakfast, Giveaway, Health, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian