Tag Archive | Vegetarian

Product Review: Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes

Garden-Lites Logo
Above Image Source, All Other Photos By Gail

Being a single, working woman means that I am all about convenience foods. With so many options available to shoppers, I know that I can count on finding delicious meals in the grocer’s freezer section that will go from the package to my plate in about 30 minutes, but I also want to eat food that’s healthy. That said, the ideal frozen entree should fill me up, but not fill me out, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Packaging

For all of those (and so many other) reasons, Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes are a terrific way for convenience-seekers to eat smart. Part of the Garden Lites line of vegetable-forward products that include muffins, waffles and entrees, Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes are an easy way to create a tasty, meatless meal that anyone who saw it would think you spent hours cooking.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake With Packaging

For this review I tried three different varieties of Vegetable Bakes: Cheddar Broccoli (seen above), Zucchini, and Roasted Vegetable. Each vegetable bake comes in its own baking dish and takes about 30 to 40 minutes to bake thoroughly, which gives you time to open a bottle of wine and make a pot of rice, if you choose — which I did.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Back of Packaging

When fully cooked, Vegetable Bakes are similar in consistency and mouth-feel to a very vegetable-dense quiche or frittata, where eggs have been added only to bind the ingredients together. Therefore it’s understood that these dishes, while vegetarian-friendly, are not vegan, due to having whole eggs or egg whites as an ingredient.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Cooked

Here it is, just out of the oven, and you can see that the cheese has browned nicely!

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Serving Suggestion

It looks amazing, doesn’t it?

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Ready to Eat

Broccoli Cheddar Bake is a delicious and nutritious dish that is loaded with healthy, superfood ingredients like broccoli, onions, brown rice, and select spices, topped off with cheddar cheese.  Like all of the Vegetable Bakes, it is gluten free, Non-GMO and kosher, as well as being free of peanuts, tree nuts and soy. The full portion clocks in at just 210 calories and 7 Weight Watcher Smart Points. If you wanted to serve this as a side dish, it could easily feed two people.

Roasted Vegetable Bake Packaging

About a week after enjoying the Cheddar Broccoli Bake, I tried the Roasted Vegetable Bake. This dish is filled with tender carrots, broccoli, onion, red bell pepper, zucchini and potato, seasoned with assorted spices including black pepper and garlic salt. The Roasted Vegetable Bake is just 150 calories (wow!) and will set you back 5 Weight Watchers Smart Points. Check out all of those veggies!

Roasted Vegetable Bake Over Rice

I put some cheese on it as well!

Roasted Vegetable Bake With Cheese

There is no such thing as too much cheese.

Zucchini Bake Packaging

Last, but not least, I tried the Zucchini Bake. Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables and it makes everything that it touches taste better: this Vegetable Bake being no exception to that rule. Here, everyone’s favorite summer squash is combined with cauliflower, onions and  potatoes, as well as eggs, and a select seasoning mix for a farm-to-table dining experience.

Zucchini Bake over Rice

Here it is served over rice with a generous grating of sharp cheddar cheese, for just 150 calories and 5 Weight Watchers Points. A satisfying, delicious and low calorie meal that’s healthy and convenient: Win Win Win!

Find a store near you that sells Garden Lites products and get a money-saving coupon to use on your next purchase at This Link!

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Vatan Indian Restaurant Offers All You Can Eat Vegetarian Feast in an Authentic Setting!

Table and Menu
All Photos By Gail

One of the most enjoyable parts of dining in an Indian restaurant, especially if you possess an adventurous palate, is the experience of being able to taste many different dishes as part of one meal. If I am looking for an incentive to step beyond the comfort zone of my ‘stand by’ favorites, and the quality of the food is still reputably high, I might check out a place that has unique decor, or that features the dishes of a region or state whose food I haven’t yet tasted — because all Indian cuisine is definitely not the same.

Entry Hall

I was recently offered the opportunity to visit Vatan, a Vegetarian Indian Restaurant in Kips Bay which specializes in Gujarati cuisine. A little bit of Googling told me that Gujarat is a state on the western coastline of India, with a strong influence of Jain culture and philosophy, which explains why Vatan favors purely vegetarian dishes.  Vatan is also distinct for its  prix fixe dinner, which includes a thali-style arrangement (many servings of various foods all served together on a large silver platter) of appetizers and condiments, followed by a thali-style main course array, including bread, followed by dessert. The price is $34 per person and it includes all you can eat of any featured dish from any of the three courses. Exciting!

Left Side of Dining Room with Tree

As soon as you enter Vatan, it is clear that you will be dining in an immersive atmosphere unlike other Indian establishments in Manhattan. Vatan’s cozy main dining area emulates the look of a beautiful open courtyard, so you will almost feel that you are dining outside. There is even a tall, leafy tree in the center of the room, whose branches spread out across the ceiling. If you look closely, up high you will see a couple of monkeys perched among the leaves, ready to playfully pelt you with an orange! Just kidding, of course, but it does look that way!

Monkey in Tree
“Hi, There!”

Interior Courtyard Shot

Interior View with Ganesha

Two seating options are offered for your optimal comfort: you can either remove your shoes and sit cross-legged, or sit western style.

Ganesha

The focal point of the dining room has to be this glowing red monumental figure of Ganesha, the Elephant-headed God who is the Remover of Obstacles. It is really captivating!

Mural Indian Lady

The walls also feature may colorful murals like the one above, which is just outside the kitchen, and the mural  below, which was adjacent to our table.

Dining Room Mural

All of the staff are dressed in beautifully-detailed, traditional costumes, which gives the experience an even more immersive and authentic feel.

Merlot

Our server arrived promptly to take our drink order (beverages are not included the fixed price), and they do have both beer and wine on offer. I ordered a glass of this lovely, full-bodied Merlot, which provided a nice complement to the spicy food. Menus are not really necessary, since Vatan serves a fixed fare (though you can choose a vegan, or gluten-free option), but they do have a few specialty sides, which are available for an additional charge. With the Entree Thali, you also have the choice of your preferred degree of spiciness. I opted for mild (which trust me, was still quite spicy) while my dining companion went with medium spiciness.

Appetizer Thali
Appetizer Thali and Condiments

When our appetizer course arrived, our server took a few moments to describe the ingredients in each dish, as well as brief details of how each was prepared (boiled, fried etc). She even offered suggestions as to which condiments went best with which appetizers, or main course dishes. The service was truly impeccable throughout the meal. Here’s a description of everything on the Appetizer Thali:

Chana Masala (Chickpeas With Onions And Coriander)

Khaman (Puffed Cream Of Wheat Flour Cakes)

Muthia (Steamed Flour With Spinach)

Mirchi Bhajia (Fried Hot Peppers With Garam Masala)

Batatavada (Fried Potato Balls In A Chickpea Flour Batter)

Ragda Patis (Potato Cutlet In A White Bean Sauce)

Sev Puri (Potatoes, Garbanzo Beans, Yogurt, And Chutney Filled In A Crispy Bread)

Samosa (Triangular Savory Pastries Filled With Spicy Potatoes And Green Peas)

Despite what you may be “used to” when dining out, I encourage you to just surrender to this unique experience. You may be tempted to ask for bread and raita (popular cucumber yogurt dip), since many Indian restaurants serve those items with the appetizer course, but sit tight, because that’s coming up.

Appetizer Thali

Detail shot of the Chana Masala (foreground), Muthia (right rear), Khaman (left front ) and Batatavada (left rear).

I enjoyed every dish on my tray, though I did offer my hot pepper to my friend, since I did not want to tempt fate. We were asked if we would like seconds of anything, but not knowing how much food was still coming, we declined.

Entree Thali 1

The Entree Thali arrived next, and it was just as beautiful as the previous tray. Here’s what we ate, as seen in the photo above:

Toor Dal (Boiled Lentils Cooked With Indian Spices)

Bhaji (Sautéed Spinach And Corn)

Ful-Cobi (Cauliflower And Green Peas Sautéed In A Savory Sauce)

Batakanu Sak (Potatoes Cooked In A Mild Red Gravy)

Chole (Chickpeas Cooked With Garam Masala)

Puri/Roti (Puffed Whole Wheat Bread/Whole Wheat Flatbread)

Papadam (Thin Lentil Wafers)

Kheer (Rice Pudding With Dry Fruits)

Aam Rus (Mango Soup)

It is not uncommon in Gujarati cuisine to have both savory and sweet dishes in the same course, such as the entree dishes of Rice Pudding and Mango Soup, which I enjoyed mixing together in a single bite.

Entree Thali 2

The little puffed Puri breads are ideal for holding small bites of food and making little tacos with them. Super tasty, and also, fun!

Rice and Yogurt Soup

Because you are not quite exploding just yet, they also bring you delicious Entree Complements (Seen Above):

Pulao (Boiled White Rice With Peas)

Khichdi (Lentils Mixed With Rice And Assorted Vegetables)

Kadhi (Soup With Yogurt And Chickpea Flour In Authentic Spices), which is similar to Raita, and which we shared for use as a sauce to cool the fire of the spicier dishes.

Roti Plus Two Dishes
Roti Flat Bread

Everything was delicious.

Indian Ice Cream

After a short break to let our food ‘settle’ a bit, it was time for the final Dessert And Chai course, consisting of mango and one other flavor of Homemade Indian Ice Cream, which we split evenly.

Gulub Jamun

There is also Gulab Jamun , a warm Donut Ball in a Sugar and Rose Syrup, which I just added to my ice cream because I thought would be more fun, and it was.

Masala Chai

Masala Chai is a sweet Indian Tea with Cardamom, Ginger and Milk; the perfect ending to a perfect meal. While we were advised that we could have as much as we wanted of everything, frankly, the cumulative portions served were very generous. The fixed price menu is an excellent value and I could not possibly have eaten one more bite. .We really enjoyed our evening at Vatan, and I am looking forward to returning for future visits with new friends!

Indian Lady Artwork

Vatan is Located at 409 3rd Avenue (Between 28th and 29th Streets), in the Kips Bay Neighborhood, New York City. Visit Vatan NY Dot Com for more Information and to Make a Reservation.

Vatan Signage Elephant

Product Review: Cucina & Amore Ready-to-Eat Farro Meals!

Cucina and Amore Farrow Meal
All Photos By Gail

Farro is an ancient whole wheat grain that, along with grains like Quinoa, is enjoying a rise in popularity (although it’s been around for thousands of years). Not only does Farro taste great — it’s also very good for your health; being an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Before it’s cooked, Farro looks similar to wheat berries, but afterward it looks similar to barley. It’s a small, light-brown grain with a noticeable outer layer of bran. Farro is loved for its nutty flavor and unique, chewy texture.

Grilled Vegetables and Herbs

At Cucina & AmoreKitchen of Love, they are giving this an old world cuisine a modern twist. Cucina & Amore’s new ready-to-eat Farro Meals leave even the busiest person with no excuse to skip lunch, because each healthy and tasty meal is fully cooked and ready to eat! The meals taste great served chilled or at room temperature, but they are packaged in microwave-safe containers if you wish to heat yours up in the office microwave. They even come with their own spoon! Preservative and GMO-free, these farro meals are packed with nutrients to keep you energized during your long day.

Farro Meals include both farro and red and white quinoa, and they available in three different flavors: Artichoke, Lemon & Roasted Garlic, Grilled Vegetables & Herbs (with a medley of eggplant, zucchini, & artichoke), and Roasted Peppers & Artichoke.

Box Top

Recently, I made the Artichoke, Lemon & Roasted Garlic farro meal for a quick lunch while I was home blogging. Here’s what the farro meal looks like during easy preparation.

Cucina and Amore Farrow Meal Preparation

While the cup holding the grains is deep and roomy enough to hold the vegetables, I used a separate bowl to mix and eat from to give you a better view of the ingredients.

Cucina and Amore Farrow Meal Preparation

Here’s everything in one bowl before mixing. You can see the nice-sized pieces of artichoke and red pepper, which is marinated in a garlic, oil and lemon juice, and seasoned with salt, peeper and parsley for a fresh, light taste.

Cucina and Amore Farrow Meal Ready to Eat

Co-workers will think you’re eating a delicious Mediterranean dish that you cooked and brought from home. Farro Meal  are shelf stable to they are perfect to take on-the-go, and so quick to prepare if you only have a short lunch break. Delicious, healthy and super easy!  Kitchen of Love’s new Farro Meals and other fine products are available at grocery stores nationwide. To find a store in your neighborhood visit This Link!

Cucina and Amore Farrow Meal Packaging