Kalachandji’s

Sometimes Becky and I go way too long without seeing each others faces.  Blogging helps us stay connected, but there really is no substitute for face-to-face interaction.  Since we are both huge foodies, our togetherness is often  always paired with food.  This time, we let our husbands come with us.  Have we ever mentioned that we both married Latinos?  Becky’s husband is half Mexican, half Colombian, and mine is half Puerto Rican, half Colombian.  If we looked more related, you probably wouldn’t have a difficult time convincing me we are sisters, separated at birth.

So, yes, back to the food.

Kalachandi’s.  Indian.  Vegetarian.  Delicious. 

That was the condensed version of what turned out to be a magnificant evening.  Kalachandi’s is located in a spectacular temple, the ceiling above the tables is a tree and between the branches you can see the stars.  The food was incredible, the Indian spices were not overpowering (even though I’m okay with that), their homemade whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread practically melted in my mouth, and please don’t get me started on the Tamarind Tea!  The tamarind tea ended up being the best part, aside from the company.  None of the four of us even like iced tea, but this stuff is like liquid heaven.  I’m not kidding!  Becky and I have certainly added this to our list of recipes to try to imitate so be watching for it!  I probably could have drank two pitchers full of it!

Here is a photo summary:

So, if you live in the DFW area, definitely make a trip to Kalachandji’s.  It will be well worth your while.  If you don’t live close, find your own special place and enjoy a few priceless moments with the special people in your life.  That’s really the most important part.

So, until next time, it’s skinnyfatgirls signing off.  

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

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Carb hangover? Nevermore.

What is your biggest food temptation; the food that you know you shouldn’t eat, but it tastes so heavenly you could just forget yourself and enjoy one moment of pure tastebud pleasure?  My greatest love is dark chocolate, but since cacao is a superfood full of wonderful and incredible nutrients, I don’t bother about feeling guilty about consuming it.  So, if I’m not talking about chocolate, what could possible be such a big food temptation for me?  (Little hint: I want to visit this country, not for the gondolas, for the food).

Okay, that was a big hint, but you’re right, I’m talking about Italian food.  Do you love pasta as much as I do?  Oh my goodness, I can honestly say that I have never eaten an Italian dish I didn’t adore.  Fettucine alfredo, bowtie pasta, eggplant parmesan, the bread, gelato, do I really need to go on?  Unfortunately, Italian food can also be extremely fattening with loads of cream, cheese, and white flour.  Have you ever experienced a carb hangover from eating too much pasta?  I know I have.  You know, that bloated, heavy, uncomfortable feeling?  Now, I’m a huge believer in everything in moderation and the last thing I believe in is deprivation, but it’s so hard for me to restrain myself when it comes to pasta, so I have to be careful.

Now if I hadn’t had the skinnyfat mind makeover, I probably wouldn’t believe that it was possible to make Italian food delicious and healthy,  but now I’ve learned that whole, real nutrient-dense food can actually be way more delicious than the alternative.  Prime example? The best lasagna I’ve ever eaten.

To begin with…

These whole wheat lasagna noodles from Target have one ingredient.  ONE!  Whole wheat seminola.  That’s it and it’s looking like a pretty good start. 

Next you have fresh mushrooms (I’ve used shiitake mushrooms, which I like the best).

Grind or chop these up and moving on.  Next chop up fresh oregano, fresh basil, fresh spinach, fresh kale… Do you notice a theme here? 

Of course, you’ll also need cheese and tomato sauce.  I used half Daiya non-dairy cheese (If you haven’t tried Daiya, it’s the best non-dairy cheese out there and Target has it!) and half Italian blend cheese.  For my tomato sauce I used an organic garden vegetable marinera sauce, also from Target.

With all these delicious and wholesome ingredients, all that’s left to do is layer your lasagna! 

I always layer the bottom of an oiled casserole dish with the sauce first then the noodles.  On top of the first layer of noodles I put more sauce, then I put a thick layer of kale and spinach.

Then add your ground mushrooms, cheese, and sprinkle your fresh oregano and basil on top of the cheese.  Now layer and layer until you cannot fit anymore in!  On the very top layer I only put the layer of sauce, cheese, oregano, and basil.

Bake the lasagna at 375 for about 30 minutes until the noodles are soft and the cheese is melted.

Here is the whole recipe:

  • Whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cheese
  • Fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • Fresh oregano, chopped
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Fresh kale, chopped
  • Fresh spinach, chopped

I have been eating this all week and every day at work someone has commented on how good it smells.  Don’t tell anyone, but it tastes even better.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

Jicama Pear Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Step aside, boring sandwich and Diet Coke, because lunch at the office just got a whole lot more interesting.

No, you’re not in a pricey restaurant, you’re in the break room. This salad may sound fancy, but it’s really quite simple to put together, chock full of nutrients, and, best of all, entirely scrumptious!

I know what you’re thinking: those are some GIANT raspberries. Yup. Gigantic, delicious raspberries that were on sale, 4 cartons for 5 bucks! Definitely the best $10 investment I’ve made in a while. I didn’t initially plan to put them in my salad, but it turns out they add a necessary tartness.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this heat and am really quite ecstatic about not having to put my head in the freezer anymore! And I’m sure my sad lawn will be grateful for a break from the unrelenting sun after being scorched for three months straight.

We have a tiny, random green spot in the yard. We call him "Patchy". We haven't had to mow since the first week of June because SUMMER IS A MURDERER.

This will be the last hoorah for summer recipes of the year, though I can’t promise that I’ll stop drinking strawberry coconut smoothies anytime soon. This salad is light and fresh – a great way to celebrate the last week of summer.

Jicama Pear Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 4 (or, ya know, just me)

Ingredients:
1 medium pear, sliced
1/3 cup jicama, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup toasted pecans (I only had raw almonds, but they tasted great, too)
1/4 cup raspberries, chopped
3 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
3 cups chopped dark, leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach; I used collard greens)
Optional: If you eat dairy products, goat cheese would be a wonderful addition!

For the dressing, combine the following ingredients and mix well:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1.5 T white vinegar
1 T agave (optional)
1 T olive oil (optional, I omitted)


Chop all of your ingredients. For collard greens, kale, and swiss chard, it’s preferable to remove the bitter spines from the leaves.

Toss the greens with the vinaigrette. Because it’s strong, you may not need to use all of the dressing, so add half, taste, and go from there. Divide onto four salad plates and garnish with all additional ingredients. Serve immediately.

What’s special about this salad is that it has so many different things going on at once. The citrusy vinaigrette brightens up the strong, dark flavor of the greens, jicama adds an earthy, root flavor, raspberries provides tartness, the pear is sweet and fruity, and pecans finish it off with a nutty crunch. I imagine goat cheese would add a lovely creaminess.

Of course, I have to mention that the fact that fresh, raw green leafy vegetables contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. They’re an easily accessible superfood that should be eaten daily. Berries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant content and are excellent sources of several phytochemicals that seem to help block cancer development. Additionally, nuts, pears, oranges, and jicama offer other health benefits. Your body will LOVE this super salad!

Powerful and tasty all at once? That’s why I eat four servings.

~Becky, a salad freak skinnyfat girl

Salsa Verde

I married a Mexican. Well, half Mexican, half Colombian…the point is, we eat a lot of Mexican food. I’m talkin’ probably 75% of the time, dinner is tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, nachos, tostadas, chilaquiles, or guacamole with totopos.

Mexican food is simple, quick, tasty, and very healthy. You can easily incorporate lots of plants; shredded greens, pico de gallo, sauteed veggies, and chopped avocado work magnificently with any meal. Of course, beans are almost always a requirement and a great way to add fiber and protein to your plate.

While it’s easy to make healthy Mexican food, remember to avoid the traditional unhealthy stuff, such as white flour tortillas, fried chips, fatty cheese, sour cream, red meat, and the worst offender of all: LARD. If you have to eat any of it, do so in moderation! There are all kinds of great substitutes out there, so make use of them. We like whole wheat flour tortillas and corn tortillas, which can be eaten soft or baked for tostadas or nachos. I’ve found that if you pile your plate with enough greens, tomatoes, pico de gallo, guacamole, beans, salsa, and other delicious veggies, you won’t even miss the cheese or sour cream!

I’ve become a pro at scraping a Mexican meal together with just the bare minimum ingredients. Grilled seitan with onions, corn tortillas, and salsa can be sufficient for an enjoyable dinner. But if there’s one thing you simply cannot do without, it’s salsa. You can work around the other meal components, but salsa is a necessity. Salsa gives a touch of heat and burst of flavor. Without salsa, those grilled seitan and onion tacos would be dry, bland, and one-dimensional, but salsa gives it that kick and – voila!- it becomes a delicious meal.

Y’all should know me well enough by now to know that I don’t eat many things from cans, boxes, or jars, so our salsa is always homemade. Store-bought salsa is probably one of the healthier things you can buy in a jar, but honestly, you have no idea what you’re missing. Once you’ve tasted the homemade stuff you will never go back. I could slurp it up with a spoon. Or drink it from the jar. Gross.

Okay, enough of my rambling. Here it is, the best salsa I’ve ever made!

Salsa Verde (Green Sauce)

Ingredients:
10 – 15 tomatillos (green tomatoes)
3 medium serranos (more or less, depending on desired spiciness)
3 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (more or less, to taste – I use more!)
Salt, to taste

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400. Remove the dry, loose outer peel and wash the tomatillos. Arrange them on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish.

 

Step 2: Roast them for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better. The flavor will be better if you let them bake until they look almost burnt. Actually, the absolute best-tasting salsa is made by grilling the tomatillos on a charcoal grill, but I really wasn’t going to go through all that trouble at 10pm.

These guys baked for about 45 minutes. I would have preferred to cook them longer, but my kitchen was a sauna at this point and there’s only so long that I can bake myself at 400 degrees.

Step 3: Cut off the hard stem part on top of the tomatillos (you don’t really want that in your salsa). The reason you don’t cut them off before baking is so that the tomato juice can’t escape, although some of the tomatoes will “explode” in the oven, as you can see happened to the deflated-looking ones above.

Step 4: Grill the serranos and unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry frying pan until thoroughly blackened.
 
 
 
Step 5: Peel the garlic and take the stems off the serranos. Put the tomatillos, garlic, serranos, cilantro, and a few sprinkles of salt in the blender and blend until smooth.
 

That’s all there is to it – so simple, yet so flavorful! This can go on anything, and believe me, you’re going to want to put this on everything!

What’s your favorite healthy Mexican meal?

~ Becky, una chica Skinnyfat

Suma Veggie Cafe

Last weekend I attended a two-day conference with my mom and some friends. Our tickets included lunch, but by dinner time I was nearly starved. You see, I have a hard time eating things masquerading as food, or “food-like substances” as Michael Pollan would say. Don’t be confused – I do eat “unhealthy” things on occasion. But if I am going to splurge, you can bet it’s going to be on REAL food. My idea of a treat is a plate of fresh spinach ravioli and homemade marinara with hot bread and spiced olive oil. Its “food-like” equivalent would be a can of Chef Boyardee served with a slice of wonder bread and margarine. I just can’t see or taste the appeal; real ingredients taste best.

Surprisingly, nobody else seemed to care that their lunch was nutritionally void. 50,000 women sat in the arena happily munching away on their food-like substances. The lunch consisted of a turkey sandwich on a white bun, potato chips, a rice krispie-like (plastic-looking) treat, a mini bottle of water, and an apple. I drank the water and ate the tiny and rather tasteless apple (red delicious? my butt…) but couldn’t really stomach the idea of the other stuff. I’ve never considered myself high maintenance or picky until that moment; I felt like the kid who will only eat his sandwich if the crusts are cut off or those snooty ladies who wouldn’t dream of carrying anything but a Coach purse. However, upon further contemplation I came to the conclusion that being picky about food can be a good thing and that I’ve actually trained myself to be this way for a great reason: I want to live a healthy and happy life. It’s that simple.

But I’m not gonna lie – I got grumpy. I guess that’s what happens when I go too long without eating nutrient-dense food. I yearned for my daily salad bowl, filled to overflowing with kale, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, beans, and countless other delicious foods from the earth. I’m an plant addict: one day without leafy greens and I start going through withdrawals. If I don’t eat a hearty, fruit-filled breakfast I break out in hives and develop flu-like symptoms.

It’s possible I’m exaggerating slightly, but for goodness sake, how do so many people live happy lives while eating garbage? I figured they probably don’t live every day feeling every cell tingling with life, which deeply saddens me. I want everyone to experience it, that feeling of being truly alive, that beautiful and indescribable feeling of health and energy. There has to be a way to fuel that desire in others, so they will taste and see for themselves the joy that is healthy living. In fact, I’m starting to feel as though it may be my life calling – fueling that desire. Honestly I could ramble on about this forever, so back to my story:

Yes, I felt deprived. And HUNGRY. And did I mention grumpy?

Enter my brilliant and wonderful friend, Sheri, who invited me to dinner at…wait for it…an ALL-VEGAN chinese restaurant! Goodbye, deprivation! The place looks unimpressive, in fact, it was bordering on “hole-in-the-wall”, but I’ve found that those are usually the best places to eat. They don’t hide behind immaculate interior design, overpriced menus, or fancy entrees. Nope, its simply all about the food, which has got to be good or they’ve got nothin’.

The first thing I saw was this:


And yes, my heart did leap up into my throat with excitement! I realized later that the sign is for the buffet, not the entire menu, which actually does serve some non-vegan but vegetarian options. Speaking of the menu – it was gigantic! It was at least five pages of the most incredible veggie food I’ve ever heard of. They actually have veggie substitutes for almost any kind of meat you can think of: chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, fish, duck…I was awestruck.

We ordered some appetizers to begin with: egg rolls and dumplings. Both were fab, but I especially enjoyed the egg rolls with an amazing sweet garlic sauce they had at the table.

I was so overwhelmed with options that I couldn’t make up my mind about what to order. I asked the owner, a tiny Asian lady, what she recommended. She said everyone loved the orange chicken, so I went with it.

It was absolutely delicious! I’ve eaten my fair share of orange chicken, and this tasted just like the real deal! I was blown away, not to mention appreciative of the beautiful green broccoli to feed my vegetable habit. My mom got a tofu dish and Sheri order the Beef Lo Mein, both of which were quite tasty.

This was literally an entire block of tofu. It doesn't sound or look very appetizing, but it was very enjoyable, trust me!

This dish was absolutely scrumptious! It rivaled my orange chicken. The beef was almost black, which was a little weird, but it tasted so amazing that it didn't matter.

If only this place were a little closer to me I would go all the time! Unfortunately, it’s an hour and a half drive from my house, so I may not even go ever again. Sad face. Their food proves that you don’t need animal products to have a spectacular meal. And while there were plenty of healthy options, this meal was definitely what I consider to be a treat! I’m not regularly a fan of fried anything, but those egg rolls…*drool*.

Now it’s off to do homework. School is now in full swing and I’m barely finding time to cook, let alone blog. Elesha just got a new and demanding job, so we’re both running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We’re expecting things to settle down a bit and we’ll be able to post more regularly.

Until then, eat at the Suma Veggie Cafe! 🙂

~Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Vegan “Fast Food” and Gelato

E – After weeks and weeks of pining and tear-shedding, Becky and I finally had a proper girls outing.  Now, of course, the word “proper” in our vocabulary absolutely and unequivocally means that food will be involved.  This trip we decided to try Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine.

B – This place was quaint, but actually left something to be desired. We both got wraps, which were good, but nothing special. We agreed that we could have made something more delicious at home. We’ll probably do that next time! Still, the seitan was tasty and inspired us to work on our own gluten recipes. We each had a side of potato salad that definitely did NOT taste vegan. Again, it was good, but I’m not a huge potato salad fan and wasn’t crazy over it.

E – After the slightly underwhelming lunch, we made our way over the mall and had gelato at Paciugo!  The great thing about Paciugo’s is that the gelato has 70% less fat than regular ice cream because they don’t use cream.  They also have fruit sorbet and vegan options available, but Becky and I weren’t quite so good and went for the real deal.  Everything is made fresh daily with fresh, real ingredients, and you can really tast the difference.  Once you go Paciugo, you will never go back.  Okay, so that was cheesy, but it’s still the truth.

B – While gelato is not healthy by stretch of the imagination, it is still healthier than ice cream.  The Hazelnut Mocha completely reversed any dissatisfaction caused by lunch. We were both silently immersed in our own little gelato worlds for at least five full minutes, which is saying something because we usually can’t shut up.

We took a bunch of regular pics, but I think this one sums up our real feelings.
E – While gelato nearly always makes for a number one moment of any day, I have to say that the very best part of the day was having some good quality togetherness.  Next time we will try to cook something fabulous and share it with all of you!
~Becky and Elesha, skinnyfat girls
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