Indian food and DAHlicious lassis giveaway

Aren’t they pretty? This picture makes me want to start painting!! Until then, I’ll just keep drinking these yummy lassis. More on that in a minute…

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When I meet new people and they learn about my blog (or at least my love for cooking), the first question is always “What’s your favorite thing to cook?” The answer is – I like cooking everything! Of course the focus is mostly on healthy meals, but I don’t limit myself to any particular ethnic angle. I feel like if I did that, I’d be missing out on so much deliciousness that’s out there. Variety is the spice of life, as they say!

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So the second question is 9/10 is this (seriously, almost every time!): “Do you know how to cook Indian food? And this is where I must confess my limitations. I love love love Indian food, especially the non-traditional dishes the likes of chicken tikka masala (I’m sorry, I know people in India don’t eat it but it still tastes like Indian food to me and that creamy/nutty tomato sauce it comes with just can’t be beat. It’s the best!!). But I haven’t been able to replicate the stuff to save my life. I follow recipes, often highly rated recipes claiming to have restaurant-quality taste, and they still fall flat every.single.time.

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The other day, I was browsing through my blog archives and found this old post on pork vindaloo that got rave reviews from me and Adam. I thought, hey – maybe I can cook Indian food after all! This also happened to be a super quick dish so I was excited to give it a go again and hopefully also make it a little more appetizing to look at. The end result was this:

1. It was very easy to make.

2. This dish is hard to photograph but the pictures are definitely an improvement over my previous set.

3. It tasted just ok. I guess my standards have gotten higher. I will not be making this dish again. Sad smile The search for a great Indian recipe continues!!

The bright spot of dinner were these DAHlicious Lassis sent to me by the company for review. Just in case you are unfamiliar with lassis – they are Indian yogurt based drinks. They are creamy and sweet – sort of like smoothies you enjoy with your dinner. Since a lot of Indian food is quite spicy, they add a nice cooling effect too. I enjoy them on occasion when out (although to be honest, they are typically quite indulgent and sweet and I usually don’t like to drink my calories).

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DAHlicious Lassis are made with low fat Indian yogurt, made with milk from grass-fed cows (LOVE), are 100% natural and only lightly sweetened. When reading the labels, I also noticed that the banana flavor doesn’t even have any added sugar. Way to take advantage of banana’s natural sweetness. Very cool!

Here is what these pretties look like in a glass:

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Again, love the color! The flavors offered are mango, vanilla, blueberry, strawberry and banana. Adam and I had a little taste test with dinner and honestly enjoyed every one. The creamy, slightly tangy taste of yogurt really comes through in every flavor. My favorites were vanilla (most yogurt-centric in flavor), banana – which had the perfect balance of yogurt and banana flavor (my favorite of the bunch, I think!! Also, this one gets bonus points for not having any added sugar), and blueberry – which has a much more berry forward flavor (most smoothie-like and Adam’s favorite too). The strawberry seemed to be just too mild at first but upon a second taste (since it was one of Adam’s favorites), I sort of enjoyed its subtlety. The mango seemed to the exact opposite – completely overpowering, ranking the least favorite of all.

So there you have it! I think these babies would make for a great on-the-go “snack” too, and they sure are tasty.

Would you like a chance to win some? One lucky Healthy and Sane reader will win 5 coupons for free DAHlicious lassis – so you can taste each flavor too and pick your own favorite (they are sold at Whole Foods and various independent retailers across the country)!

Here are the rules: there are plenty of ways to enter.

1) Leave a comment on this post – Tell me anything Indian related. And I will love you forever if you direct me to a great Indian recipe!

2) Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway (a link to this post must be included to qualify)

3) Pin this post on Pinterest

4) Subscribe to Healthy and Sane by email

5) Like Healthy and Sane on Facebook.

6) Link to this post on your Facebook page.

7) Add Healthy and Sane to your blogroll.

8 ) Link to this post on your blog, if you have one. If you don’t, let someone else know about this giveaway and tell me so in the comments section after they’ve entered the giveaway.

Please leave a separate comment on this post for each qualifying entry. This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!) and ends at midnight on Wed, February 8. I will randomly choose 1 winner using random.org and announce him/her the following day. Good luck! :D

Quick meals with a little premade help

I was in a weird mood yesterday as the work day was coming to an end and of course to make myself feel “better” I thought about finding a bakery and enjoying a cupcake or perhaps some caramel filled chocolates (yes, my cravings get specific!). I knew, however, that those treats would not actually fulfill me as the problem was with something else (I think I was just tired and overwhelmed with my to-do list) so I opted to come home and relax while making dinner. Something simple. Something healthy. Something that would make my body feel like I’m taking care of it.

I actually had plans to make this curried chickpeas and broccoli dish but when I saw this Seeds of Change tikka masala sauce in my pantry as I reached for the chickpeas, I decided to make dinner even simpler. What could be easier than 3 ingredients with a little premade help?

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I browned the chickpeas a bit, then threw broccoli pieces and the sauce into the pan to simmer.

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Red quinoa was cooking on the burner next to it and everything was ready in 10 minutes.

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[Sorry for the picture, the steam coming off the curry was making everything blurry!]

I loved that someone else took the time to let the flavors develop and all I had to do was dump the sauce over some protein and veggies and 10 minutes later a real meal was ready! Smile Unfortunately this particular sauce had so many onion chunks I was completely appalled – I dug them out like a little kid between bites, which did not make for a pleasurable dinner experience and actually ruined my mood. The search for the perfect tikka masala sauce continues!

Next time I’m in no mood to cook, I would love to turn to some premade “shortcuts” for a semi-homemade dinner. Do you have any favorites? While I always prefer homemade, convenience sometimes wins. I often turn to bottled salad dressings, packaged granola bars, etc.

Oh, and if there is jarred sauce you know of or you have a tikka masala recipe that tastes like the real thing at restaurants, I’d love to hear about it! It’s my favorite!!

For more from me, check out my post on kotleti over at Russian Bites. :D

Vegan food, vegan clothing

It’s Meatless Monday so I thought this would be the perfect day to tell you all about a fun vegan dinner and a little (vegan) shopping spree I had last week at my friends’ Melissa and Josh‘s house. Melissa recently followed her life long dream of opening a clothing store. After years of thinking and planning for it, she finally quit her corporate job and created ecolissaan online eco and vegan friendly shop. I am so excited for her!! When she offered to have us over for dinner and shopping, I immediately said yes. I mean, how can you say no to that? ;)

First things first – dinner!

Some snacks to munch on while dinner was finishing up…

I was starving and dominated the hummus + Mary’s Gone Crackers. The crackers are super thin, incredibly crunchy and surprisingly addictive. I think the pepper just kept you going back for more. Delicious!

Adam had an apple cider martini with a brown sugar rim

I chose a lower calorie option – vino :)

The main fair – an Indian feast! Pumpkin curry with chickpeas, tomatoes and peas (recipe here, she subbed peas for onions), whole wheat naan (so doughy!) and brown rice (unpictured):

I’ve never had Indian food with pumpkin. So cool! I love how flavorful ethnic food is. This is the type of vegetarian (or vegan, if we’re being specific) food I love – naturally so. There was nothing fake about it – just good flavors and lots of spice. I also discovered these gems:

These are the dipping sauces you always get at Indian restaurants. I don’t know why I never thought to look for these in a grocery store. Brilliant! :D

Dessert was on me. I made Leslie’s Bad But Good bars from the Eat, Drink & Be Vegan cookbook. The recipe isn’t online but basically it’s a coconut/oat crust with the most decadent (yet vegan) fudge made of melted vegan chocolate chips, silken tofu and almond butter. Oh yeah, these were goooooood (and I want to start covering everything in that fudge). :) [email me if you're dying for the recipe ;) ]

And then it was time to shop!! As I mentioned, ecolissa is eco-friendly and vegan. That means that not only does the clothing not contain any animal products (leather, suede, fur, wool, silk, down feathers, etc.) but everything is also made of sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, modal and tencel. I’m going to admit, I’m very conscious about ethical eating but I never really took it a step further into ethical fashion. Reading this little bit on the ecolissa website really brought it home for me:

Why do I want vegan clothing?
It is a more compassionate and ethical choice. While the cruelty in leather and fur is apparent, it is not so obvious in wool, silk, and down feathers, but these materials can be just as inhumane. For example “3,000 silkworms are killed (by being steamed alive) to make just 1 pound of silk”, down feathers are cruelly plucked from live geese, and the raising and shearing sheep for wool can be exploitative and cruel.
I seriously never thought about this!! Very, very interesting. The cherry on top? Everything is super cute and incredibly comfortable. Oh yeah, I got to dig through all of this:

… and I had a personal shopper/cheerleader by my side ;) [Of course Melissa loved everything on me since she hand-picked every piece of clothing she sells.] How about a little photo-shoot?

I haven’t shopped since I gained weight but this was really fun. I actually ended up purchasing 4 things (one of them unpictured) because everything was just so comfortable and most things were quite flattering (and it felt good to not be self-conscious and comfortable for once!). Which ones would you pick?

Melissa offered me a generous discount on my loot and is also offering all Healthy and Sane readers 20% off all your ecolissa purchases. Just enter the code: “hs20″ when you check out. Good luck, Melissa!!!  I know in my heart that you’ll succeed. :mrgreen:

PS – Voting for challenge 5 of Project Food Blog is now open. Please support me by voting HERE. Thanks!!!!!!! :grin:

[Weigh-in recap tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about this week.]

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