Garlic-Scallion Stuffed Shrimp in a Creamy Tomato Curry

I love shrimp. I particularly love shrimp when they are cooked the Indian way. I’m partial to North Indian shrimp curry because it’s fiery and bold, and well, it is literally everything but boring. A friend of mine asked me to make traditional North Indian shrimp curry for her, but I was afraid she would run out of the house after the first bite because I assumed it would be too peppery for her taste. North Indian food is generally pretty spicy, and I can tolerate it because I’ve grown up eating this way, but I still wanted to make a shrimp curry that would introduce anyone to Indian cuisine, gingerly.

For that reason, I chose canned crushed tomatoes to create the base of this dish, and instead of adding an entire carton of heavy cream, I vigorously whisked some low-fat yogurt to bring in the creaminess I was looking for. I used smaller size shrimp because it’s what we had and unfortunately stuffing it with the garlic-scallion mixture was indeed mind-numbing. I’m a very impatient person, and if you too, I suggest using the colossal size shrimp if you can find them, because stuffing will be a breeze. I was going to call this South Indian Shrimp Curry, but it isn’t 100% authentic South Indian food, although it does have some South Indian spices like curry leaves and black mustard seeds. If you can’t find curry leaves don’t fret, it will still be very good. You do have to like garlic to like this curry, but as always, I encourage you to modify any recipe to impress your taste buds.


For the shrimp:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound colossal shrimp, or 35-40 small shrimp (only if you are patient), peeled, deveined
1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cilantro
3 scallions, roughly chopped into 3 inch pieces, roots discarded
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Nonstick cooking spray

For the creamy tomato curry:

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 small curry leaves
1- 28 ounce can crushed red tomatoes, no salt added (no biggie if you can't find no salt added)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, or regular paprika
1 whole lemon, or 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoon red chili powder (preferably Indian it has a different flavor), or cayenne pepper
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

D i r e c t i o n s

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take a small paring knife and run it into the deveined side of the shrimp to create a larger slit. Do not run your knife so far down that you separate the shrimp into two separate halves, the point is to create a slit that is large enough to hold the garlic-scallion mixture.

In a bowl, drizzle the olive oil over the shrimp and toss with the turmeric, coriander, and salt. Set aside while you make the garlic-scallion mixture.

Grind the cilantro, scallion, and garlic in a food processor until it becomes a coarse paste. Tuck this mixture into the opening of each shrimp, stuffing it as far down as you can without tearing, then use your fingers to seal the slit. Avoid overstuffing the shrimp, the mixture should not peek out too much.

Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil, spray with canola flavored cooking spray, and arrange the shrimp evenly. Set this aside and start making the curry.

Heat the oil in a medium nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, open up the canned tomatoes and have them ready to go.

Add the cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves and fry 30 seconds, be careful as the mustard seeds will pop. Then add the canned tomatoes, stir, and bring this up to a low boil. Once it begins to boil, cover loosely with a lid, and leave a small crack open to allow steam to escape. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stir periodically.

Now back to the shrimp while you are waiting. Roast the shrimp for 12 minutes then switch the oven knob to “broil” and cook for an additional 3 minutes. (15 minutes total)

Whisk the yogurt and heavy cream as vigorously as possible to ensure there are no lumps. Stir in the yogurt mixture, salt, sugar, and chili powder to the tomato sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste if necessary.

Take out the curry leaves and blend the sauce in a food processor to pulverize the tomato chunks; if you don’t care for a smooth sauce—skip this step.

Carefully transfer each piece of shrimp to the sauce (to avoid letting the stuffing fall out), drizzle with lots of fresh lemon juice, and sprinkle over some fresh cilantro. This is best served with brown rice.

After roasting the shrimp

Blueprint Roasted Vegetables

You and I both know that vegetables are important. In a perfect world, we would be eating at least five servings of it (the recommendation is five servings of fruits and vegetables everyday). So, I must admit, to rely on a recipe to cook them is rather troublesome. The nice thing is that you don’t have to think very hard with this one. I named this blueprint roasted vegetables because that’s exactly what this is, a blueprint—not really a recipe. It isn’t written in stone. Choose whichever vegetables you please, toss them in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle your preference of dried herbs. It’s fool proof. I have pitched my own blueprint here, but don’t get caught up in it. Follow this “recipe” only if you feel it is beneficial.


Serves 4

2 cups zucchini, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 medium size red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch cubes

4 small red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes, skin left off

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons herb de Provence* (French herb)

2 teaspoons Za’atar* (Middle Eastern spice blend)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons flat-leaf Italian parsley, minced, optional

D i r e c t i o n s

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the vegetables in the olive oil and spread them out on a large sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbe de Provence.

Roast for 45-50 minutes. This could vary depending on how your oven radiates dry heat, so be sure to check on them after the first 20 minutes of roasting and decide how much extra time the vegetables will need. If you like a crunchier texture, take them out earlier.

Douse the vegetables with the balsamic vinegar, and toss to coat. Sprinkle over the Za’atar and fresh parsley. Eat while they are warm.

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of sesame seeds, oregano, basil, thyme, and sumac (a sour fruit that is dried and then grounded). It lends a warm earthy flavor to the vegetables. If you can't find it at your local grocer, try searching online. I love sprinkling Za'atar over whole wheat toast piled with lemony hummus.

Herbes de Provence translates to “Herbs from Provence”, Provence being a Southern region in France. Some of the French will gladly argue that there isn't a particular herb in the mix they have grown up eating, but I have come to the conclusion that there are different versions. This blend that I have used has lavish amounts of thyme, tarragon, basil, savory, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, and even lavender. These days you can find Herb de Provence every where. You can always separately mix in the herbs I have listed, if its what you have on hand.

The combination of these two herb mixes is not common, but I don't care to follow traditional vegetable roasting techniques, I care about the taste. Give it a try.



A few years ago, before college, and before any of my personal ventures in nutrition, I went on a low-carb diet. It’s best not to go into details. In short, it wasn’t for me.
There is a frequent misconception that carbohydrates cause weight gain. There is some truth to that, depending on what type of carbohydrate it is. However, you can eat what you crave in the smaller amounts you need to fuel yourself. I'm not talking double or triple servings. It may sound like common sense, but looking at the recent obesity statistics it's obvious that we're not using it.
So, to praise the amplifying effects which carbohydrates can have on your state of mind, here is my healthier, and unusual take on regular sweet potato fries.
In my recipe, the sweet potatoes are shaved down to paper thin ribbons using a regular vegetable peeler. You can use a mandolin if you have one, but I don’t have one of those fancy things. When you cook them this way, the sweet potatoes have the crispy crunch of regular fries, but the heat from the red pepper flakes cuts through any excess sweetness. There is also a nice citrus and “piney” hint from the thyme and rosemary that I think you will appreciate. These are great for breakfast, but always delicious despite the meal time.
Serves 1
1 small sweet potato, peeled
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, if you like it spicy
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1.) First, cut each sweet potato in half lengthways. Next, cut each piece into half again, this time cutting into the opposite direction. Look at the profile of each piece of sweet potato, it should resemble the shape of a rectangle. Use a vegetable peeler, or a mandolin to slice paper thin ribbons. Continue until you have 1 cup of ribbons.

2.) Heat the oil in a medium non stick skillet over medium high heat, wait a minute for the oil to get nice and hot. This is important.
Add the honey, red pepper flakes, and garlic directly to the oil. Swirl it around in the pan for 10-20 seconds and then immediately add the sweet potato

3.) Use a spoon to coat the sweet potatoes in the oil and then spread them out into one single layer in the pan. Sprinkle over the thyme and rosemary. Allow this side to brown for 3-4 minutes. (It may take more or less time, depending on the intensity of your heat and quality of your skillet) 

4.) Once this side is nice and golden brown in color, flip over to the uncooked side and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Sprinkle with salt and fresh parsley.



I love that this salad offers simplicity through its ingredients, but complexity in its taste. Buttery black beans, fire roasted corn, sweet red bell peppers, crunchy gala apples, and creamy bits of avocado are completely smothered in a tangy cumin-scented vinaigrette. Many people have their own version of a black bean salad, but I really wanted to make one that brought sweet, salty, and sour flavors in harmony. It’s also very budget friendly. You can save even more money if you purchase the dried black beans, cook them, and separate them into plastic bags; then store them in your freezer for later use. You get twice the amount of black beans for half the price. Now, there is some prep involved here, but extra servings can keep well for a few days—just keep the avocados and apples out and store the vinaigrette in a separate container. Add these just before serving. I recently served this at my coworker's baby shower and it was a huge hit.

Serves 4


1-15oz canned black beans, rinsed, (2 cups)
1 cup or 2 ears of fresh corn
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh avocado, diced
1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup gala apple, diced (or your choice of any sweet apple, tart apples are fine too, if you wish)
1 tablespoon jalapeno, chopped, deseeded (or seeds in tact if you like heat)
2 tablespoon canola, or extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin powder
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


Turn stove top flame on to medium high heat, and begin fire roasting the corn until all sides are lightly charred. This can take anywhere from 3-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, add the beans, onion, avocado, bell pepper, jalapeno, and apples. Leave this alone for a few minutes while you work on the corn.

Use a small paring knife to slice the kernels off of the fire roasted corn. Add these to the bowl and toss everything together.

In a separate (small) bowl, add the oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and whisk until this vinaigrette is completely emulsified. It should be smooth, you know, look like ahomogenous dressing. If you peeked down at the side of the bowl, you should not be able to spot the division between the vinegar and oil.

Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary. Add the vinaigrette to the bowl and toss. Serve immediately.


Masala Chai

I truly believe cinnamon makes you slap happy. This is how I feel every morning just after having my fix of chai. It's the spices in chai that make it extra special. And this is the reason it is named Masala Chai in India, masala means "spice" in Hindi.

In India, they believe cinnamon has ayurvedic properties (health benefits), which is why you'll find a lot of bark cinnamon used in Indian cuisine. It's particularly used in the beginning of cooking, so that the cinnamon has a chance to infuse the oil and permeate its flavor throughout the entire dish. It does the same thing for chai. You'll also find green cardamom pods in masala chai (think of this as India's answer to lavender), plus a few baby cloves, and one gorgeous star anise. Star anise imparts a licorice note to whatever you're cooking, but in North India, where my parents are from, I've learned that it really isn't used much in savory dishes.

I really do love Starbucks, but I laughed out loud when I read "chai" on their menu. Well, technically they're called "chai tea lattes", and the reason I found it funny is because it has a much deeper significance in my home.

Indians became dependent on chai many, many, years ago. It's this drink, that is made three to four times a day on my mother's stove top, and in a culinary sense, it's the glue in our family. It always lures me to the family room where I'll find mom and dad enjoying a cup, so I often sit down to sip and chat with them. If a friend come over, my mother asks, "Would you like some Chai?". For Indians, even the thought of tea time is customary.

It's safe to say that this is the one thing I will never give up. And it tastes best with whole milk. I'm not apologizing for that either. I love nutrition and I also love helping people discover the positivity in it, but I will never make this with low-fat milk. This is where you tell yourself that clichéd line, “All things in moderation”.
Sometimes you just have to feed your soul, and you should. But notice that the serving size is less than half a cup, and this is actually quite normal. We always drank chai out of miniature China cups back in India at my grandma's home. Out of fine quality china cups actually. She was very particular about that. Why? I have no idea. But I do know you're going to love this.

Masala Chai

Serves 2


3/4 cup cold filtered water
2 1/2 teaspoons loose Orange Pekoe tea (We swear by "Red Label")
2 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar (dark versus regular makes a difference)
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 cinnamon stick, or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon is fine too
2 green cardamom pods, bruised
2 small cloves
1/2 star anise
1/2 cup whole milk

1.) Add the water to a small saucepan over medium high heat.
2.) Add the loose tea, sugar, cardamom pods, cloves, and star anise. Bring this up to a boil.
3.) Reduce heat to a simmer, let it boil on a low heat for 1-2 minutes.
This isn't a common step, but I do this because I like to get the tea very strong before adding in the milk. When it's done this way, the tea/milk ratio is perfect. Don't boil it very long if you like a milder flavor.
4.) Add the milk.
5.) Bring back up to a boil again.
6.) Reduce to a simmer and boil on low heat for 3-4 minutes.

Again, if you like it mild, don't boil it as long. The longer you boil it, the more water evaporates and concentrates the flavor of tea and milk. That's my preference.

7.) Use a small sieve to strain the chai in to two cups.
8.) Tell does it taste?



Can you be malnourished and obese at the same time?

A.) True

B.) False

Isn't he cute?

Image from Wraptnotes

Dînez avec nous: The French Diet Plan

Image from Scottsdale College

I hate the word diet.
I'm still cringing from just using it in the title--but it was the only way to get your attention.

Do me a favor. Close your eyes and muse on this for the next thirty seconds:

Sticky Merlot jam hidden in the center of warm flaky croissants just freshly baked with golden knobs of butter.
Crispy baguettes smeared with pungent Camembert cheese.
A fancy slice of Opéra, an exquisite almond spongecake soaked in coffee syrup, layered in between aerated masses of butter cream frosting, and a thick coating of dark chocolate ganache glued on the surface. It's comparable to satin.

You think you could eat these things and keep healthy?
Of course you can. The French do it all the time. There's a term, "French Paradox", that was created back in 1987 by a French scientist Dr. Serge Renaud, who discovered that the French had the lowest cases of heart disease and still ate a diet high in saturated fat.

Before I go on, let's agree on something here. There is more than enough information in the world that tells you what you should or shouldn't eat to lose weight. But, you and I know that not all advice is not good. In fact, anyone can call their self a nutritionist but it doesn't mean that they have a college degree in human nutrition.

You don't need another best selling diet book that gives you a list of "secrets", which claims to be a magic bullet solution to all of your weight loss miseries. You don't need to hear about the latest craze about a new diet pill that sheds 10 pounds off of you in one week and also claims to be safe.

You need the truth. What are you really suppose to eat? Which foods do the best job in nourishing YOU? Once you have figured this out--you shouldn't need to depend on a diet book, a plastic container full of pills, or even flavorless food your canine wouldn't go near to lose weight.

With that said, you can always look to healthy people and learn from them. Be a sponge and always be the student that learns. With food, and everything else in life.

So check this out. I mentioned that the French have one of the lowest cases in heart disease yet also the highest intake in saturated fat.

17% of people in France are obese, and 34% American people are obese.

What can we learn from the French?
Here are three simple truths to a French person's diet:

1.) Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
44% of the French do this. Only 24% of American do this.

Why do this?

Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber that sweeps the debris from your colon, vitamins and minerals your organs, tissues, and blood need to thrive, but the best part about fruits and vegetables is that they keep you full a hell of a lot longer.

2.) Have less than 1 sweetened beverage per day.
70% of the French do this. Only 37% of American do this.

Eat too much sugar than your body can digest then some will be stored in your muscles for later use, but if you've gone overboard, then it will be stored as fat.

For those of you that cut out sugary drinks, you've probably noticed the rapid loss in your belly fat. This type of fat burns faster (maybe the last 5 or 10 pounds are difficult) but it also builds just as quick.

3.) Walk 30 minutes per day.
65% of the French do this 7 days a week. Only 50% of American do this 5 days of the week.

Walking is the easiest exercise to do. If it's difficult to commit to a half hour everyday then start walking while you talk on your cell phone, park further away than you normally would at work, or break it up into three 10 minute sessions a day. Do what you have to do to make it happen.

Have belief. Believe in yourself, and I know you will be right where you want to be.


Lynda, Powell, Kazlauskaite Rasa, Sima Carolyn, and Appelhans Bradley. "Lifestyle in France and the United States: An American Perspective." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 110.6 (2010): 845-47.