Arvinda’s Indian Spice Blends Help Me Cook Like Raj’s Mom!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj's mom's home cooking!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj’s mom’s home cooking!

Raj’s mom, who is from Kerala, India, makes the most delicious Indian dishes (dahls, sambars, curries, etc.). She always cooks with the perfect combination of spices. Indian cuisine involves such intricate blends of complementary spices (also known as masalas) and I am slowly learning about all the different kinds of masalas from her. To Raj’s mom, knowing which spices go well together and in what ratios is second nature (no measuring is necessary). Since my Indian culinary skills are nowhere near her level, I am always on the lookout for ready-made Indian spice blends with flavour profiles that remind me of Raj’s mom’s home cooking. Thanks to the CHFA East trade show this year, I discovered Arvinda’s awesome Indian spice blends, which allow me to cook like Raj’s mom effortlessly! Yes, this line of Indian spice blends tastes that authentic.

Arvinda's Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

This past Thursday on World Vegetarian Day (October 1st), I was craving butter chicken for dinner, but I wanted to satisfy that craving with something vegetarian, healthy, and quick. Thankfully, I had some Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala to make myself a deliciously satisfying “Butter Cauli-Kale”. This yummy and hearty vegetarian alternative to butter chicken satisfied my craving and I think Raj’s mom would have approved! This dish was so good that I have already remade it two more times since Thursday! Since it is Vegetarian Awareness Month, I thought I should share this tasty and nutritious vegetarian recipe. It is so quick and easy too thanks to Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala.

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken!

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken! It definitely satisfied my craving for butter chicken!

Butter Cauli-Kale (Vegetarian Alternative to Butter Chicken)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, puréed
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small head cauliflower or 1/2 head large cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 kale leaves, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon 100% all natural and smooth cashew butter (unsweetened and unsalted)
  1. In a frying pan (that is large enough to fit all the vegetables) over medium heat, sauté the diced onion in the coconut oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add in the puréed tomato and Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala. Continue cooking and stirring the mixture until most of the moisture has evaporated and the consistency becomes thick like tomato paste.
  3. Mix in the low-sodium vegetable broth, chopped cauliflower, chopped kale, fine sea salt, and coconut sugar. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and let everything simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables have cooked to desired tenderness. If you prefer a drier consistency with little to no sauce like I do, let everything simmer without a lid and stir often to ensure nothing sticks to the pan.
  4. Turn off the stove and mix in the cashew butter. Serve and enjoy!
Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

If you get cravings for Indian food and want to satisfy those cravings with delicious and nutritious food, I highly recommend alway having your favourite Arvinda’s spice blends on hand! I am still slowly learning about Indian cooking from Raj’s mom, but for those times when I am in a hurry, there are always ready-made spice blends in my pantry!

XOXO,

Addy

How to Survive Wedding Gluttony!

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With the weather in Toronto getting warmer and with summer right around the corner, more and more weddings are taking place. My family receives about one wedding invite per year. Raj’s family, on the other hand, receives numerous wedding invites every year, especially during the spring and summer. Although all these wedding reception parties will differ in number of guests, catering, decor, time schedule and/or venue, one thing remains constant… There is always an excessive amount of indulgent foods! The first wedding of the year that Raj and I attended this past Saturday at Whistle Bear Golf Club was certainly no exception! Here are some tips I used to keep the eating at a wedding party clean and lean:

1. Have a healthy breakfast and a light lunch beforehand in order to not fill up on hors d’oeuvres and to avoid the fried and unhealthy ones.

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Greasy hors d’oeuvres I avoided (from top left, clockwise): samosas, breaded and deep fried calamari, deep fried risotto balls, beef satay.

 

2. Inform your server well beforehand of any food allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, and/or avoidances you may have. Bring digestive enzymes if you are concerned about cross-contamination. I informed my server that I was lactose intolerant, so all of my courses and beverages were dairy-free. For instance, my salad came without any cheese, my soup was dairy-free, and my coffee was served with almond milk. I also got a healthier fruit sorbet for dessert instead of the cheesecake. Just in case though, I brought and took some digestive enzymes containing lactase before dinner commenced.

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Dairy-free menu options that were offered due to my lactose intolerance (from top left, clockwise): potato and leek soup with crispy potatoes and truffle oil, fruit sorbet with fresh berries, coffee with almond milk, young kale and arugula salad with currants, roasted almonds, and lemon vinaigrette (no parmesan).

 

3. Four your main course, opt for a lean protein with complex carbohydrates and lightly prepared vegetables. I chose the baked chicken breast instead of the prime rib, the roasted potatoes (with the skin on) instead of the potato gratin, and lightly sautéed seasonal vegetables.

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Instead of the roast prime rib entrée with yukon and sweet potato gratin, seasonal vegetables, and red wine jus, I chose the baked chicken breast entrée with skin-on roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables and truffle jus.

 

4. Nine times out of ten, these weddings will have open bar service. I definitely enjoy this, but I enjoy in moderation. I use the open bar service at wedding receptions as an opportunity to try a variety of drinks without having to drink all of everything. For instance, I ordered four different drinks throughout the night, but I only drank about a quarter glass of each drink.

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I only drank about a quarter or less of each glass. So I got to taste everything I wanted without going overboard!

 

5. After dinner and dancing at wedding receptions, there is almost always a late-night snack table. If you are hungry then, choose the lighter and healthier menu options. It should not be too hard to resist the indulgent foods, if you had a well-balanced, healthy dinner earlier. At this wedding reception in particular, the late-night snack table had an assortment of fresh cookies, sliders, a make-your-own-poutine station, and a variety of fresh fruit. Figuring out which one of these four options was the healthiest was not rocket science.

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I passed on the sliders, the make-your-own-poutine station, and cookies. Instead, I went straight for the fresh fruit at the late-night snack table! Tip: fresh pineapple contains the protease enzyme, bromelain, which helps you to digest protein!

 

If you get invited to a lot of weddings like Raj and his family, I hope these tips help you enjoy and get through wedding season healthfully!

XOXO,

Addy

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What a blast at our first wedding of 2015!

 

My First Time Applying Natural (NOT Black) Henna!

Drawing Henna

Growing up in a predominantly South Asian community, I would see a lot of my female friends with henna (also known as mehndi) designs on their hand(s) every now and then for festive occasions like weddings or just for fun. In elementary school, I remember admiring this cosmetic art so much that I attempted to recreate the designs on my left hand (since I am right-handed) with brown, washable Crayola marker several times. I was terribly unsuccessful every single time (in case you were wondering). As a grown woman now with better fine motor skills, I finally felt ready to upgrade from brown Crayola markers to real henna, especially since I will be attending an Indian wedding for my first time with Raj in about a month. How hard could it be?

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Raj and I went to his local Indian grocery store where I was asked if I wanted brown or black henna. I had no idea there were two different colours! I just wanted the reddish brown henna that I remember seeing on the hands of my childhood girlfriends, so I opted for the brown one. It was lucky I chose the brown henna, because I found out later that black henna is synthetic and may contain skin irritants and toxins such as p-Phenylenediamine (PPD).

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Natural, pure henna paste for skin art is prepared by mixing henna leaf powder with a liquid such as water or lemon juice. The paste can then be applied in intricate patterns all over the hands. After about 20 minutes, the paste will dry out on your skin and begin to crack a little. At this point, you can gently re-moisten the henna design on your skin with lemon juice and let it re-dry out again for a more intense colour afterwards (I did not do this). You can also wrap your hand(s) in a plastic bag after the henna design has completely dried to allow your natural body heat to develop the colour even further (I did not do this either).

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Raj’s mom suggested I wrap my left hand in a plastic bag and go to sleep with it on to let the colour intensify overnight. However, patience is not one of my strengths. After two hours, I could not wait any longer and had to wash it off. Raj’s mom and I were shocked at how intense the staining was after only two hours sans lemon juice and sans plastic bag! That initial colour intensified even more via oxidation during the first few hours after washing off the henna!

Before After

The colour remained bold and vibrant on my hand for about three days before starting to fade. The timing was perfect, because after the third day, I was getting bored of that design and wanted it to fade away. I should also point out that henna leaves a faint, natural, herbal, grassy smell that lingers on your skin for the first few days. Some people hate the smell, but I happen to like it. Hopefully, you do not mind the smell or the long waiting-for-the-colour-to-develop time, because henna art is beautiful, natural, and fun! Although my first time applying henna was fun, it was harder than I thought! I think I will leave it to a professional for the Indian wedding next month. 😛

XOXO,

Addy

P.S. Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? This is why it is so important to be conscious of what you are putting on your skin and to avoid potential carcinogens like the PPD in black henna. For more tips on “Staying Cancer-Free Through Nutrition”, register and attend our FREE lecture at the Big Carrot on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm. 🙂

Raddy Recipe: Dairy-Free Chai Tea Latte (From Scratch)!

The recipe was a success! I liked it better than any of the almond milk chai tea lattes I've had at cafés.

The recipe was a success! I liked it better than any of the almond milk chai tea lattes I’ve had at cafés.

A chai tea latte is Raj’s go-to drink at cafés and coffee shops and it’s one of my favourite kinds of tea lattes. The special combination of spices makes this tea so uniquely flavourful and it gives the tea various health benefits (i.e. source of antioxidants, digestive aid, immune booster, anti-inflammatory support, etc.). So when I found out that Raj can make chai tea lattes from scratch, I HAD to get him to teach me how! The chai tea latte that we made was foam-less (which is how I like my lattes), but if you like foam in your latte, use a milk frother before serving. Anyways, here’s the recipe with step-by-step pictures…

Add 2 cups of your favourite dairy-free milk to a pot over medium to high heat and then, add 2 bags of black tea leaves to the pot.

Add 2 cups of your favourite dairy-free milk to a pot over medium to high heat and then add 2 bags of black tea leaves to the pot.

Chai Tea Latte - Steps 3 & 4

Add 1 tsp. of fennel seeds and 1 whole star anise (broken up into pieces).

Add 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon and 5 cardamom pods.

Add 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon and 5 cardamom pods.

Add 2 tsp. of chopped ginger and 2 tbsp. of coconut sugar.

Add 2 tsp. of chopped ginger and 2 tbsp. of coconut sugar.

Add about 10 whole peppercorns and stir everything together!

Add about 10 whole peppercorns and stir everything together. Bring mixture to a boil. Then, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Pour mixture through a sieve and strain out the spices and tea bags.

Pour mixture through a sieve and strain out the spices and tea bags.

Pour the liquid into 2 cups. Serve and enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

Pour the liquid into 2 cups. Serve and enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

This was actually Raj’s first time making chai tea latte with almond milk (he normally uses 2% dairy milk) and he really liked it! We used almond milk, because I’m lactose intolerant and because it’s my favourite non-dairy milk. If you don’t have or don’t like almond milk, feel free to use low-fat dairy milk or any other dairy-milk alternative instead. Also, if you don’t want to use black tea leaves like we did due to the caffeine content, feel free to try using unflavoured decaffeinated tea leaves or unflavoured rooibos tea leaves. You can even adjust the spice measurements to suit your liking, if you like more or less of a certain spice. This is a simple recipe that can be easily tailored to suit your preferences. We hope you check it out!

XOXO,

Addy

P.S. Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for 2 tickets to the National Women’s Show HERE!