Spanish Tapas – Five quick and delicious appetizers

Eggplant crisps, pepper-garlic mushrooms, bell pepper-cheese mini toasts, roasted tomatoes, pickled veggies

As  promised earlier, here are a few vegetarian tapas if you are in the mood to eat light this summer, or if you just want to incorporate lots of veggies in your diet. Protein rich and non-vegetarian tapas to follow soon! Complement any of these tapas with some of the protein tapas that I will post next time, that way you have a more balanced meal~

tapas collection

Pickled Veggies

Per serving: 30 cals | 1 g protein | 1 g fiber | 0 g total fat | 40 mg Vit C 

Low calories, high fiber for the serving, high vit C

Total time: 5 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

1/2 Perisan cucumber, long slices

1/2 red bell pepper (medium), long slices

Any other vegetables of your choice. Since I was using so many veggies for my tapas, I pickled just two of my fave! 🙂

2 tsp vinegar*

1 tsp honey or brown sugar


*Juice of the cucumber usually oozes out to soften the veggies, so no need to add more vinegar, but you can add more if you like.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and keep it in the refrigerator while you prepare other tapas to soften the veggies a bit or leave them overnight to make them very soft. You can even serve immediately to enjoy the crunchiness of the veggies. So, its up to you how long you want to pickle them or just enjoy fresh.

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Pepper Garlic Mushrooms

Per serving: 50 cals | 2 g protein| 1 g fiber | 5 g total fat

Low calories, some fiber, good amount of B-complex vitamins

Total time: 10 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

6-8 mushrooms (button or crimini)/ 0.5 box, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tsp olive oil

salt to taste

generous amount of freshly ground black pepper

chives, minced


Wash and slice the mushrooms.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the chopped garlic. As it turns brown add the mushrooms.

Sprinkle salt and black pepper and cook on medium heat, till done or till brown and crispy. I like to caramelize some for texture and taste. 🙂

Serve with garnish of minced chives.

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Roasted Egg plant Crisps

Per serving: 55 cals | 2 g fiber | 1 g protein| 5 g total fat

Low calories, good amount of fiber for serving size

Total time: 10 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

6 thinly cut eggplant slices

2 tsp olive oil

salt to taste

a pinch or two of paprika or red chili powder

lemon juice, optional


Coat the egg plant pieces with oil, salt, paprika uniformly.

Heat the non-stick pan from the above recipe and cook the eggplant pieces till done on both sides. Cover the pan and keep the heat on medium.

Then uncover the pan and turn up the heat so that they caramelize and become crisp. The thinner the slice, the crispier they will be.

My slices were not evenly thin, but it had a very nice appeal with a part of it being crispy and a small portion being moist and soft. I thought both textures went well together.

Sprinkle additional paprika and/or some lemon juice per your preference.

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Roasted tomatoes

Per serving: 11 cals | 1 g protein | 1 g fiber | 8 mg vit C

Low calories, good amount of fiber for the serving size, some vitamin C

Total time: 5 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

2 pearl tomatoes

salt, if needed


Cut the tomatoes like a flower by making two partial longitudinal cuts, being careful not to cut it all the way.

Roast the tomatoes after the eggplant is done in the same pan without additional oil. Or add 0.5 tsp of oil if you are making it on a fresh pan. (NOTE: Oil helps with the absorption of lycopene, anti-oxidant in tomatoes, but there is oil in the other dishes that you would be consuming with these tomatoes as part of your meal, so you may or may not add here)

Cover and let it cook a bit on low heat.

Serve with rest of the tapas. I enjoy my tomatoes without salt, but you can sprinkle some salt & pepper if you prefer.

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Yellow bell pepper & Cheese mini-toasts

Per serving: 90 cals | 4 g protein | 4 g fiber | 3 g total fat | 86 mg Vit C 

High fiber, high vit C, good amount of good quality protein

Total time: 5 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

1 high fiber bread (3 g or more fiber per slice)

1/2 yellow bell pepper (medium), diced finely

1/4  onion (medium), diced finely

a few cilantro/parsley sprigs, chopped finely

1/8 cup or about 2 tbsp shredded cheese

salt & black pepper to taste


Toast a slice of high fiber bread and then cut into shapes of your choice – circles, mini-triangles or squares.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 30 secs

Serve as a topping on toast pieces.

Prepare this dish just before serving. For variation, try different cheeses or different bell peppers.

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Assemble all tapas on small plates and enjoy with a glass of wine or pair it with the Gazpacho, Spanish Cold Soup

Chicken and seafood tapas coming up next…..

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Gazpacho – the Spanish Soup (Cold & Refreshing)

gazpachoWhat can be better than this refreshing and cleansing cold summer soup to beat the heat? A few simple ingredients and no cooking required – can you ask for more? 😉 There are several gazpacho recipes available online, but here is my take on the Andalusian soup. If you want to experiment then you can add soaked bread to thicken the soup, generous amount of olive oil, some vinegar to increase the tang, and include raw onion to recreate the original recipe. Enjoy it any way you like, but definitely try it out. Bring on some tapas and you have a delicious meal ready in no time (quick, delicious, and, of course healthy). Tapas recipes coming soon- I promise!

Know your key nutrients: By now, I think you might have become familiar with the foods I usually work with and their nutrient profile. You might be able to fill out this section for me, right? 🙂 Can you describe this dish by its nutrient profile in the comments – say whether it is low, moderate or high in terms of its calorie, fiber, protein, fat, vitamin content ? Right answers will get a surprise!

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(A hint)

Per serving: 97 calories | 2 g protein | 5 g fat | 1.5 g fiber | Vit C & Pro-vitamin A

Total time: ~ 10 mins 

Ingredients (2 servings)

2 Persian cucumbers, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 red bell pepper (large), de-seeded and diced

1 large clove of garlic

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Chopped Cilantro or grated cheese for garnish


  1. Wash the vegetables and then dice. De-seed only the bell pepper and retain the peel of cucumber. Best is to avoid washing vegetables after cutting. Washing after cutting the vegetable increases the exposed area and washes away the water soluble nutrients with it. More such tips on preserving nutrients are in the GOOD TO KNOW section. 
  2. Blenderize the vegetables along with garlic to make a fine puree. Add some water if necessary.
  3. Collect the puree in a large bowl while you pass it through a fine sieve. Mash the residue as much as possible to extract maximum juice and reduce the solid residue. If you wish to not strain the puree, you may do so. I tried it in order to save the fiber, but the consistency was not so appealing & taste was not as palatable. I found other ways to utilize the fiber rather than discarding it. Save it for your stocks, or spice it up with different spice mixes (red chili powder, cumin & corriander powder, with or without ginger-garlic) and bind with potato or bread crumbs to make patties (like my SCHEZWAN PATTIES recipe) or use it as a filling for your turnovers, parathas, or savory cakes (like my DOODHI DHOKLA recipe).
  4. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and olive oil.
  5. Serve the soup immediately or keep it in the refrigerator for cooling. Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or grated cheese. Salud ! 🙂

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Rustic Crepes with fresh strawberry sauce

A few years back, we somehow managed to go strawberry picking, between our frequent transcontinental travel. It was a little late in the season but we were happy picking the fruits that were left behind by the crowds who managed to get the bulk in time!! Our first fruit- picking experience was quite enjoyable, and successful because the strawberries tasted so good! We wanted to go cheery picking this year, oops sorry, cherry picking, but missed our chance. However, my bro & sis-in-law brought us a ton of cherries that we devoured in no time.

There are a ton of dishes that you can make with strawberries, but here’s a healthy sauce to go with your crêpes! The delicious Nutella is sort of irreplaceable in terms of taste, but its packed with calories and is high in fat especially saturated fat (10 g saturated fat per serving of 2 tbsp). So, try this fresh strawberry sauce for your breakfast this weekend. Imagine yourself, not in a farmer’s market serving delicious crêpes, but in a little crêperie in French countryside…. Bon Appétit! 😉


Know your nutrients: A home-made crepe is healthier that what you would order in a restaurant for brunch, as you have more control over your ingredients. Try to enjoy brunches at home rather than in a restaurant. Get your friends or family together and get everyone to help out and have fun 🙂 Serve with a side salad or grilled chicken or chicken sausage.

Whole wheat flour and the fruits provide fiber; milk and eggs provide complete protein, while strawberries add vitamin C. Since strawberries are cooked for a few minutes, some vitamin C is lost, and so I have reported 50% of the actual value for raw strawberries. As such, be careful not to overcook them. This dish is a high fiber dish with good amount of protein and some vitamin C.

Per serving of :

Crepe : 110 cals | 6 g protein | 4 g total fat | 2 g fiber

Strawberry sauce: 50 cals | 1 g fiber | 20 mg vitamin C

Filling (banana & almonds): 100 cals | 2 g protein | 2 g total fat | 3 g fiber     vs       Nutella (2 tbsp) 200 cals | 2 g protein | 11 g total fat | 2 g fiber

Total time: 10-15 mins

Ingredients (4 servings/ 4 crepes)

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp sugar

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp butter (more if you exercise regularly 😉

Strawberry sauce

2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

2 tbsp sugar, * depending on the sweetness of your strawberries

1 cup water

* My strawberries were very sour, so that is probably the max amount of sugar you would need. Another time I got a very sweet batch of strawberries and I didn’t need to add any sugar. So, it will vary from batch-batch and your preference.


3 bananas, diced

16 almonds (0.5 oz) , slivers or halved



  1. In a small steel pot, add the diced strawberries and water. Heat them on medium till they soften, and the sauce thickens (~2-3 mins). Add sugar 1 tsp at a time and stir well; taste and then add more. If your strawberries are sweet, you will need very little sugar. Your sauce is ready.
  2. Prepare the crepe batter by beating the egg lightly and adding milk. Mix well.
  3. Then add the flour, salt and sugar and whisk well to avoid any lumps.
  4. Heat a 7″ non-stick pan. Add 1/4 tsp of butter and let it melt. Swirl the pan or spread it with your spatula.
  5. When it is warm, pour about 1-2 ladles of batter off-center and tilt/swirl the pan to make a nice round shape. Let it cook slowly on low-medium heat. With your spatula, check to see if the first side is cooked and then turn it over. Lightly cook the second side and serve.
  6. Transfer the crepe to a plate. Place the diced banana in the center, pour some sauce and sprinkle the almonds. Fold the crepe & indulge!

Quick & Easy Schezwan Sauce/ Sichuan Sauce

Its hard to not laugh while reading the Indian-Chinese section of the menu in Indian restaurants (if they offer this specialty). Only a few dishes served under this heading, may have authentic resemblance to the food prepared in China. Our friend, who is from the Sichaun, was very intrigued by this concept and the variety of innovative fusion dishes. The names are especially interesting –  Chicken 65 (with or without the dragon prefix!!), Vegetable Manchurian, and so on…. 😀

Schezwan sauce, a variant of the original Sichuan sauce from the Sichuan province of China, is quite popular in India, and in Indian restaurants here in the US. It is either mixed in while preparing the dish or served on the side as a dipping sauce. Either way, it tastes delicious!!


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Know your nutrients: “Indianized” Chinese cuisine, although liked by most Indians, can be unhealthy. You probably already know that its quite greasy, contains high amounts of Sodium, and may contain MSG (ajinomoto) and/or artificial red color. Here’s how you can make your favorite Schezuan sauce in a few minutes, with more control over oil and sodium and no artificial colors. You can use this instead of Sriracha Sauce!

Stay tuned for recipes using this sauce to vet your appetite for Indo-Chinese, in a more mindful manner!

Per serving (1 tbsp): 69 cals |6 g total fat |3 g sugar

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Cooking Time: 10-15 mins

Ingredients (5 servings- 5 tbsp)

2 Kashmiri Red chili (soaked in hot water for 30 mins)- These are not spicy chilies; but are valued for the natural red color they impart.

3 large cloves of garlic

1.5″ ginger piece

1/4 yellow onion (US) or 1/2 red onion (India), diced

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 red chili powder / cayenne pepper (more if you like it HOT)

1/2 tsp sugar (optional, if your ketchup is tangy)

2 tbsp oil (3 tbsp if you want to preserve)

Salt to taste

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  1. Grind the red chilies, onion, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste with 1/4 cup water.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and when its warm (not hot), add the smooth paste. Let it boil on medium heat, while stirring it constantly, for 2-3 mins.
  3. Then add ketchup, sugar, red chili powder and salt and mix well. Let it boil and thicken to desired consistency.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a bowl for serving or into a small jar for later use! Enjoy~

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Note:  This sauce can last for 1-2 week in the refrigerator. However, if you want to make a bigger batch and preserve it for a longer period, add additional oil (1 tbsp). I haven’t tried preserving it for a longer time, so I am not sure of its shelf-life beyond 2 weeks. If you try, please do let me know! Thanks! 🙂


Schezuan sauce






Flavorful Coleslaw (Cabbage & yellow pepper salad) – Boost your vit C

Flavorful coleslaw

This is a very interesting and unique recipe that I’ve developed using ingredients, all of which (except for salt & pepper) contain vitamin C, an important and volatile antioxidant. Here’s how you can make this simple & refreshing salad that you can add as a side to your meal, or as a filling in your burritos, or wraps or sandwiches.

Know your nutrients: Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues; facilitates healing of cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy. As an anti-oxidant it is all the more important for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes etc. who have greater physiological oxidative stress. It can help you relieve your acidity problem by reducing the production of excessive gastric acid. Include it with iron rich foods in your meal and you can boost your iron absorption significantly and thereby increase your Hemoglobin levels. So much for the educational info on vitamin C. Enjoy this salad and leave a comment on the recipe or for the educational info. Thank you! 🙂

Per serving: 24 cals | 1 g protein | 2 g fiber | 0 g total fat | 78 mg vitamin C

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