10 minute Curried Chickpea Salad

Weather is getting a bit cooler and I need something more “hearty”, especially after a long day of work. So instead of green salad I have been trying out more “filling” salads while trying to stay healthy. Last week I made a Curried Chickpea Salad, which takes less than 10 minutes to make.

Curried Chickpea Salad

Ingredients
-1 can of chickpeas, drained and quickly rinsed
-Cucumbers and tomatoes, chopped and diced
-1 teaspoon of curry powder
– A small pinch of Salt, pepper. turmeric, cumin, zaatar or spices of your choice
– A tablespoon of Greek Yogurt

Simply mix everything together and that’s it!!

Icing on the cake – I bought some falafel balls from Mana ! Fast Slow Food for snack and didn’t have time to eat it. So I crumbled them up and throw them into the salad.

So good!

Cook with love,
Cora

*** Cooking Tips ***

  • Some people found there is a funny taste from the chickpeas from the can. This recipe is a “no cook” recipe as it’s one of those dishes I whip up when I have to prepare a dish in 10 minutes. If time is not an issue cook the chickpeas in boiling water and add salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. After that rinse the chickpeas in cold water and let it cool down and dry before you add the seasoning.
  • Keeping the chickpeas for a few hours before serving also brings the flavours into the dish. If I am making this dish for a guest dinner I would prepare it ahead of time and take it out 1 hour before serve.

 


Stretching your meal- Bread Talk

Oh yea… I am a yoga teacher so all I talk about is stretching. Stretching my body… stretching my mind… and stretching my mea!!

The term “Stretching your meal” actually refer to ways to “trick your brain” to make your meal looks bigger. In fact I have written another blog post on that before. Please see below link.

How to make your meal look bigger

Now today’s blog is on bread… the “evil” bread that we “should” all stay away from.

Before I go further not this topic (which is not the focus of this blog post), I first have to state my stand on this topic. I love bread. I am so not gluten free. I have tried, however I don’t really see much difference. However I have seen people who experienced a huge transformation in their health after removing gluten. I am not going to go too deep here, as I am still unsure on that topic. However, I have taken a closer look into all the bread around town and took a closer look into the ingredients and I would share them in another post. The findings are quite shocking. More on that later.

However, meanwhile let’s get back into the “stretching”.

As I become a yoga teacher I usually stay outside for the whole day and I come home early evening. I either eat out, but I realised it’s pretty hard to find a balanced meal with enough protein and vegetables when I eat out. So I am starting to pack my lunch and a sandwich or a wrap is a good option for me as I run around town from studio to studio and I need something dry, durable and…  does not require cutlery.

If you have been following my blogs, you may know that I am a huge fan of tortillas or “wrap”. One of the biggest reasons is because I can fit in a lot more protein and vegetables into the wrap, and even more if you eat it “open face” like a thin pizza. At the same time they are actually “lighter” than bread can contain less carb compare to a sandwich. So today I have done a little bit deeper and made a little comparison on different types of bread (and tortillas) on how it looks like.

I basically measured out 100g of different kinds of bread and tortillas.

Not the that 100g of carb grams does not mean 100g of carbs, as whatever we are measuring – bread, tortillas, pasta, bread has other ingredients in it including water, salt etc. Some bread carbs are more airy and than the others, However it is just an easy comparison on the different carb choices with the same “weight”. Also note that all the bread/tortillas in the “experiment” has about the same fat content – less than 2g of fat in 100g serving, except corn tortillas generally have a higher fat content.

You can see the comparison in the photo above.

– Baguettes have lots of air in it, and by far is the lightest bread. You get almost half a baguette for 100g. It’s truly satisfying.
– Whole wheat and white bread is about the same. 100g is about 2 slices of sandwich size bread.
– Rye bread is denser than whole wheat.
– Bagels are very dense bread. 100g gives you a small size bagel only.
– I like using long bread rolls and cut them into small slices. It makes you feel like you are having more.
– Tortillas are also great carb option. As they are thinner you can get more pieces. 100g gives you 3 6″ flour tortillas or 4 6″ corn tortillas or 1 large wrap size tortilla.

Of course these findings would be different from your bread. But I hope you find this information interesting.

More on the bread topic later.


Healthy Eggplant “Parmagiana” with minced Lamb

For the last week or so the temperature has dropped a little bit, especially in the morning and in the evening. I am happily turning off the A/Cs at home and be nicer to Mr. Earth. The market is now filled with fall produce. Root vegetables (with is great for our body in this time of the year in ayurvedic sense), squash, and eggplants.

Eggplant is not a easy vegetable to deal with, as it doesn’t have much flavour. Also to make it soft traditionally (and most restaurants would still take this practice) would deep fry the eggplant before they cook them so the texture would become soft. Alternative way is to steam them however the “meat” will turn dark and a lot of moisture would come out and it will make the eggplant too soggy. I want to keep a slightly meaty texture to the eggplant.

One of my favourite dishes at my favourite joints in Hong Kong – Posto Pubblico is Eggplant Parmigiana. However I know they deep- fry the eggplant before cooking and also they put in a lot of mozzarella (which I LOVE!!!) but at home I tend to try to make a healthier version. So I substitute with Greek Yogurt. I have also tried with plain cottage cheese and it works pretty well. Alternatively you can stick with the original recipe by using mozzarella or even goat cheese. Goat cheese is amazing as you can add just a little bit but already add a lot of flavours without worrying packing up too much fat.

Healthy Eggplant “Parmagiana” with Minced Lamb

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 zuchhini
  • 200g of minced beef or lamb
  • 100g spinach
  • 5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 beef tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Herbs for seasoning like cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper
  • 100g of Greek Yogurt or cottage cheese (or you can use mozzarella, goat cheese or any cheese you like)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the zucchini and eggplant length wise.
  2. Roast or grill the zucchini and eggplant until they are half cooked. Leave it to cool.
  3. Cut up tomatoes. Add a little bit of salt, pepper and basil and blend it in a blender. Alternatively you can also use canned tomato sauce but watch out for salt and sugar content.
  4. Stir fry your favourite vegetables. Spinach and mushrooms are awesome choice for layering.
  5. Cook the meat. In this recipe I use minced lamb. You can use grounded lean beef in this recipe, but I use lamb instead as I think they have a more distinctive flavor. Also traditionally Chinese people believe lamb warms up the body, more so than beef or any other meat. That’s why in Northern China Lamb Stew or Lamb Hotpot is so popular. You can add some herbs while cooking.  In this recipe I used cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper.
  6. Put zucchini slices on the bottom, then layer with the sauce. Add some yogurt, cottage cheese, mozzarella or even goat cheese and. Then add the vegetables, minced lamb, then repeat the layers with eggplant, alternating the directions of the zucchini. Repeat for 3 to 4 layers and bake for about 30 minutes. Let it stand for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil.

Filling, juicy, and super yummy.

This dish takes a while for preparation, but definitely worth the time. It is low carb, high protein, and packed with vegetables.  I promise you will not feel shabby after this low carb dinner. And it taste even better the next day so it makes a wonderful packed lunch as well.

P.S. Here is a similar recipe.
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/no-noodle-zucchini-lasagna/


I love Flat Breads

Since I visited the new Mana Cafe on Pound Lane I am inspired with making my own flats. I am not exactly making my own flat bread (which I should) but I just like the fact that a flat allows me to load up a lot of vegetables (and protein) which out taking in more carbs.

Think sandwiches. It’s too much bread and you cannot stuff in too much veggies and protein without making it “decomposed”.

Same thing goes to Open Faced Sandwich… and when you put too much on the top the bread becomes soggy.

Then I think wraps. However same thing happens. I can’t fill enough veggies and protein inside the wrap without making it fall apart.

That makes the wonderful flat the person low carb choice to load up your veggies and protein.

The base

You can choose any flat bread as the base. However the bigger and flatter it is, the more stuff you can put on top.

  • Tortilla bread (flour, whole wheat, brown rice, corn) as the base. That’s what I use the most as they are thin, big and pretty low in fat and carb.
  • Naan bread ant Pita Bread, but they are a bit thicker and smaller in size.
  • Roti is another good one. But some Roti has very high content to fat so read the labels.
  • You can also make your own. We make homemade pizza doughs all the time at our house and sometimes I use them as the base of the flats when there are leftover doughs.

Flat Bread Recipe

The spread

You put a spread on top of the flat so that the topping will stick. Some ideas on the spreads:

  • Olive oil and Zaatar
  • Homemade tomato sauce
  • Greek Yoghurt (One of my favourite)
  • Mushed avocado
  • Any kind of nut butter – almond butter, cashew butter etc.

The toppings

Be creative. This can be a breakfast flat, lunch flat, dinner flat, even a dessert flat. But since you have a big surface area to work on you can pile up your vegetables and protein. Some of my favourites are:

  • Greek yogurt as the spread, then add smoke salmon, tomatoes and avocados, Top with a sunny side egg,

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  • Olive oil and zaatar as the spread, then add mushrooms, truffle pate and a scrambled egg on top.

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  • Greek yogurt as the spread, then add diced chicken, tomatoes and avocados makes a nice lunch flat.
  • Almond butter as the spread and add sliced banana, cooked apple and cinnamon and that’s my dessert flat.

The possibilities are endless. Give it a try and create your own version of healthy flatbreads… And…Go to visit Mana Cafe on Pound Lane to get “inspired”. It’s a lovely, quiet neighbourhood to hang out…

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And of course your Mana Cafe visit is the best to combine with a nourishing yoga class before or after at YogaBamBam next door.

bambam

*** A little joke ***

The flat in the feature image is a complete “steal” from Mana Cafe. Every time I had trouble deciding what to get, as I want to try them all. So I decided to make my own.

This flat contains… Zaatar from “The Lennon”, Sunny Side Egg from “Da Vinci”, Mushrooms from “Teslar”, Red peppers from “Lao Tsu”, and Avocado from “The Einstein”. Too lazy to make garlicnaise so use whatever is in hand in the kitchen. I spreaded some hummus on the bottom, and added some grilled artichokes (have 3 pieces of leftover in the fridge), on a piece of whole wheat tortilla.

Complete copy cat. Copy and throw in things randomly here and there (including leftovers) then add a few random “personal touch”, definitely not as good as the original but it works.
Therefore this flat, I name it – “Tao Bao”.

More on Mana Cafe, go to http://www.mana.hk.

More on Yoga Bam Bam and class schedules go to http://www.yogabambam.com.hk.


Egg Salad Breakfast Wrap

So I wrote about the amazing use of yogurt yesterday. Here is the link.

not have thought about before.

The Amazing Use of Yogurt

I thought today I would share a recipe using yogurt in a way that you may not have thought about before.

When I am on training diet my breakfast always contain eggs and yogurt. While a lot of time I eat them separately, this is a good recipe to mix two of them together. Add a bit of carbs and mix in some vegetables and that is your perfectly balanced healthy breakfast.

Egg Salad Breakfast Wrap

One hard boiled egg (feel free add another egg white for a fuller meal but only one egg yolk), tomatoes, black olives, cucumber, purple onions all chopped up, and then mix in low fat Greek yogurt, mix everything all up, and just throw them into a warm tortilla and wrap it up into a “burrito”.

I use Greek yogurt here because the texture is thicker. Natural Yogurt will not work so make sure you find low fat Greek Yogurt because the full fat ones pack quite a bit of fat content.

It tastes so creamy I feel like I am having cream cheese.  Did I tell you I use Greek Yogurt as substitute for cream cheese as well ? It also feels like eating an egg salad wrap without all the fatty mayonnaise. And since you have one egg yolk in this wrap it is mayonnaise, just minus the oil.

Give it a try.


The amazing use of yogurt

I always like yogurt, For almost a year now yogurt is something I eat on a daily basis. Besides eating it with your granola like most people do, I have experimented the amazing use of yogurt in cooking. Low fat (plain) yogurt is so useful and can be used in place of sour cream, cream, and mayonnaise in savory dishes. We can also use it in and on desserts. Greek yogurt, which is naturally thick and creamy, holds up well in cooked dishes. It is just a wonderful ingredient for healthy cooking.

Here are some ways you can put low fat yogurt to good use.

1. Making tandoori. Awesome marinade for chicken or fish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to one cup of low-fat plain yogurt with minced garlic, curry powder, cumin, etc.
2. As dips. E.g. Yogurt dip with cucumber, garlic and herbs
3. As spreads on toast or used in sandwiches. My favorite is avocado yogurt spread.
4. In smoothies with your favorite fruit and crushed ice.
5. Making frozen yogurt icecream.
6. Making lassi (Indian yogurt drink).
7. As part of tangy creamy salad dressing as replacement of mayonnaise.
8. Making low-fat parfait with berries and whole-grain cereal or granola.
9. As replacement of sour cream on baked potatoes or in Mexican dishes, on tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, you name it.
10. In place of butter and oil in muffins and quick breads. I use yogurt to make banana bread.
11. In soups for a creamy texture as replacement of cream. Any creamy soup you normally would use cream you can replace with yogurt.
12. In curries as replacement of cream. I use yogurt to make thai chicken curry.
13. In pasta to give a creamy texture. I use it as replacement of cheese in Spagetti bolognaise or in pasta salads.
14. In sandwiches as replacement of mayo e.g, tuna “mayo” sandwich
15. In stews, chilis, stroganoffs. Add at the end of cooking, but with a gentle heat to avoid curdling. You can also stabilize the yogurt by stirring in a tsp of cornstarch before heating.
16. Yogurt cheese. A great alternative to cream cheese. Best with Greek yogurt as a thick and tangy spread that works well on whole-wheat toast and bagels. My favorite breakfast in the morning is low fat Greek yogurt mixed with chopped cucumber, tomatoes and red onions on a bagel.
17. Or simply enjoy just like that! My favorite is to add a bit of cinnamon on top for sweet or paprika for savory!


“Let-us” Wrap!

So I am half way through my 28 day “tighten up” program. The idea is to tighten up both my body AND my diet a little bit after the summer holidays. Here is one of my low carb meals favorite – Lettuce!

Why Lettuce?

1. I am measuring my food grams and lettuce is light. 100g of lettuce you get a good plate, while you get one tomato for 100g.
2. It takes up space, so it fills up your plate and makes your dinner look less sad. (It is important for your mental mind!)
3. It is filling. And it’s crunchy and takes effort to chew.
4. Of course it’s yummy, healthy, and sweet!
5. Best of all, besides salads, I like to use them as wraps! Since you have to do the wrap yourself your dinner becomes more fun and it also makes you eat slowly and distract you from your small meal portion.

Seafood ceviche duo, guacamole, lettuce wraps/ tortilla chips

Sashimi grade lean tuna with spring onions, shallots and ginger and lime juice
Sashimi grade scallops with cilantro, tomatoes, avocados and lime juice

Chop everything up, marinate for an hour and ready to serve. For no carb-er, wrap with lettuce. For a carb meal, serve with home made tortilla chips. Cut flour or corn tortillas (I use whole wheat tortillas) into 8 wedges to make tortilla chips. You can add spices like paprika, coriander and lime. Bake in oven for 5-10 minutes or until crispy. I also made some guacamole to go with this meal.

Vietnamese lettuce wraps (Bun Thit/ Goi Cuon variations)

You can use any grounded meat with this dish. Chicken, turkey or beef. Stir fry them, added your favorite spices. Leave out to cool. Add your favorite shredded and chopped vegetables. Tomatoes, carrots, onions, cucumbers, red chillies, cilantro, etc. Squeeze lime on top. You can add a bit of agave nectar if you like. Serve at room temperature with lettuce wrap. For a carb meal, serve on top of chilled rice vermicelli or wrap in rice paper rolls., even with rice. To make the vietnamese dipping sauce ( nuoc cham), traditionally it uses fish sauce and sugar. To make a healthier version, I can use lime juice, water, coconut nectar (or raw honey) and chillies. But for me I think the dish is good enough even without the sauce.

Great spring/summer dishes!Let us wrap!!


Craving for Ramen

I love Japanese Ramen (and who doesn’t?!). They are so delicious and hearty. However, they are not exactly healthy as they are full of MSG, especially if you eat in ramen shop. Every time I had ramen I always feel thirsty and dehydrated afterwards.

To make good ramen it’s all about good broth. Most ramen shop use pork bones (and a lot of them) to make the broth. It’s a lot of work if you want to make it at home. And honestly the broth can be quite heavy too.

I am in Japan and the kids love ramen. Instead of going to ramen shop I decided to make a healthier version at home.

I found these natural kombu soup base at the supermarket and decided to give it a try.

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1. Put the soup base packet in the hot water and boil for 5 minutes.

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2. Add in vegetables of your choice. I like to add cabbage as they add sweetness to the broth. I also added some seaweed and Japanese mushrooms. If you want a stronger flavour, you can add 1 tsp of miso or soy sauce but it’s optional.

image33. In another pot, boil some hot water and cook the ramen for 5 minutes and then strain it.

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4. Prepare your protein. Chicken, beef, pork, whatever you like. You can chose to stir fry them, or just to add them straight into the broth.

5. Finally add the noodles and a bowl of healthy ramen is done! Add some spring onions on top for garnish. I also added a little bit of homemade kimchi that I made few days ago!

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Yummy, healthy and MSG free!

Here is a link with other healthy ramen inspirations!

9 DIY Healthier Ramen Recipes


Hangover Over

I called my site “Play with Cora”” for a reason. First of all the P.L.A.Y. actually stands for Play, Love and Yoga… (Isn’t that obvious? Haha of course not!)

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Anyways, I want to see myself as a fun mom and a fun partner. While I am disciplined in my eating, my yoga practice (well I am disciplined in general) I think it’s important to have some fun from time to time. And it is important to do that to maintain a good marriage… that’s why date night is so important between me and my husband.

I would like to talk about the importance of having dates with your other half in another time, as it’s going to take a whole article, today I just want to share my hangover cure.

So it was T8 in Hong Kong last night. I was supposed to have a 6:00pm class but due to the typhoon it was cancelled. So instead I went to pick up my husband at his office and asked him to go out for a drink (he actually wanted to go home…). We met up with a friend and had a few glasses of wine, and then we continued to one of our favourite Vietnamese restaurant for a dinner and opened another bottle.

I was not drunk, but I could definitely feel it. I came home, and this was what I did.

I ate a banana, a glass of coconut water before I went to bed. I also put a carafe of water next to my bedside table.

Banana21coconutwater

Then at 2am in the morning I woke up still feeling woozy.

My husband made me some soup.

I know.. it’s a lot of food.. but this is not the time I care about calories.. It’s more about how to feel better the next day. So even I was not hungry I made myself eat them.

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Here is an article on natural hangover remedies and why.

5 natural hangover remedies

This morning I woke up and feel surprisingly awake and ok… and a gentle yoga session will help you to recover. This morning  I did a 12 minutes headstand followed by another 20 minutes self practice mainly on the head to reverse the blood flow. If you can’t stand on the head it’s ok. Here is a good gentle sequence for hangover.

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Too much to drink? Try Yoga

I feel much better now… and now I am going to make myself a banana avocado smoothie for breakfast and ready to start my day again.

Avocado-Banana-Smoothie-RecipeBanana Avocado Smoothie

Ingredient (serves 2 – hey one for my hubby!)

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 cups of coconut water
  • 2 tablespoons of raw honey or coconut nectar
  • 12 ice cubes

Blend everything till smooth and enjoy!

I have also shared a post on a Lemon Barley drink which is also a great hangover recovery remedy as barley helps to remove water retention!

Lemon Barley Drink

After that, of course today I have to get back to strict diet as I probably have packed 5000 calories last night.

Oops.


“Soup’-er!!

I found one trick to feel satisfied on a no carb meal is to fill yourself up with fibre and liquids. Hence soup is a great choice on a no carb dinner. Especially when you are exhausted from a long day of work, something warm and hearty will be more appealing than a chicken salad. I have been teaching in some evenings last week when I come home I just want something warm and hearty.

You can serve the soup as a side with your protein (and extra veg if you need), or you can serve the soup as a meal. I have made a few soups in the last few weeks. Thought I would share some ideas.

Gazpacho

Easiest 5 minute soup. If I get good tomatoes I just use them raw.

  1. Put chopped up tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers into the blender.
  2. Add red wine vinegar, spices like black pepper, oregano, coriander and blend them till smooth but not foamy.
  3. Sometimes I slightly cook the vegetables for a more roasted taste (especially onions and garlic they are sweeter after cooked).
  4. Add some chopped vegetables on top. Add avocados for a fuller meal.

Recipe for reference: Gazpacho minus the bread

Chunky Curried Broccoli Soup

  1. Stir fry broccoli, onions, carrots and garlic.
  2. Add spices like curry powder, cumin, paprika.
  3. Make some hot broth and add the vegetables into the broth.
  4. Separate the mixture into two batches. Blend half till smooth and blend the other half coarsely so you get some chunky vegetables. You need the fibre to keep you full.

Seafood Stew (Cioppino)

The best way to make this dish is use fish broth but you can use any broth you like.

  1. Heat up broth to boil. Then add chopped vegetables. I like to use carrots, onions and celery as they are sweet and can add a lot of flavors to the soup.
  2. Add oregano, thyme and a bit of canned crushed tomatoes (I use Waitrose which has no salt added).
  3. When it boils add your favorite seafood till cooked. White fish like halibut, snapper works best in this dish. Salmon will also work great. Or any other seafood like crab, shrimps, scallops, even shellfish).

Recipe for reference: Seafood Cioppino

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Leftover Chicken Soup

Basically this is the soup from my home made chicken broth. Please click on the following link for recipe.

Recipe for reference: Homemade Chicken Soup

I take out all the meat from the chicken, reuse all the vegetables (carrots, celery, onions) and make it into a hearty chunky soup as a meal. Since I was reusing the chicken meat from the soup I used good quality meaty chicken. I used an organic Australian whole chicken in this. You can even add rice/pasta for a fuller meal.

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All these soups can be kept in the fridge for a few days except for the fish stew. I have been serving these in the evening for my husband’s no carb meals. And for me, I either eat them with toasted baguettes or some brown rice to make it like a gumbo.

“Soup”-er duper!

Stay full.”