Roasted cauliflower and broccoli with quinoa spice powder

A few months ago, I set out to make few changes in my lifestyle. One beautiful morning of April last year, I started with a new regime. I had couple of good reasons to point out to my friends and family if they bombard me with questions. There are quite a handful of brats waiting to catch me but they are real sweethearts who enjoy rubbing me on the wrong side. Giggles and jokes and mockery are part of my bond with them.
I have been raised in a family where fresh food is cooked with ingredients found in the local market and my mom still doesn’t store any leftovers in the fridge. Like in every Indian home, leftovers are given away to maid servants/watchman. Mostly what they cook gets done the same day. She cooks with seasonal produces and never likes to try new recipes and never buys out of season produces. “How on earth can watermelon be available in winters? Its a summer fruit eaten in tropical countries to lower the body heat and now every fruits and vegetable is available year round” She would complain. “Human race wants to prove that he is superior to nature or what” she would lament about the changing world. She is one silent yet aggressive women with strong views.
The menu at home would get repetitive but assured that they are healthy, nutritious and safe for the body. I followed her rules when I lived with my parents. Once I flew out of the nest and started to live in England, I got into the habit of cooking over the weekend, store and eat them all week long.  Then the same practice continued after I got married. I would spent days reading a novel or watching a movie but wouldn’t lift my ass to fix something fresh for the day. I would make chicken curry or lentil stew or vegetable stir fries in bulk and make fresh rice/rotis whenever we sat for a meal. Even eating schedules were haphazard. With the intention to impress the new bride, my husband would take me to every new  restaurant in town. The typical diet I ate in the US were cheesy, sugary, huge and deep fried. Along with the love for my husband, something else grew left right center in the two+ years of marriage. Yes, that something was my body. My BMI went close to 30. For the record, I was a slim bride.
After watching too many episodes of Dr. Oz I arrived at a conclusion that American diet can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  One fine day, I bell rang in my head and I went back to basics. I went back to my childhood days where my mother would prepare fresh meals at 7 in the morning and even now when I close my eyes thinking about that, my nostrils would flare and I would inhale the smell of lentil curry and fresh stews. That’s the smell of my home. I want my son to have the same experience. I decided to recreate the scene for him but there was a little change in the time. My cooking happens at 7 in the evening. Anyways the nose can still sense the same smell right?
At this age, I am over weight but gladly no cholesterol or blood pressure but I suffered from gestational diabetes which puts me at high risk for diabetes at 40. My family doctor suggested I eat whole grains and become vegan. I smiled back as an answer without revealing the disappointment in my face, a disappointment not because I might become diabetic but because I have to leave meat/diary products.
On the drive back home, I spoke with my alter ego that was hiding deep inside me, even she was equally disappointed with the thought about becoming a vegan, we argued, fought and finally decided with eating everything in portions and eating whatever I ate as a child. Again it was nothing but back to basics. A self realization I thought to myself. It’s all about eating home cooked portion controlled food with tons of lentils, whole grains and vegetables with egg, chicken, fish, shrimp or lamb once a while.  It is a flexible diet, also a personal diet that would satisfy my cravings in a genuine way like licking a tablespoon of natural peanut butter for dessert instead of  indulging in a bowl of ice cream or bread pudding.
Then I began to slowly incorporate healthy eating into my lifestyle and yay! it worked and I have lost close to 20 pounds. I still have a long way to way and I wish to run a marathon one day. For a healthy lifestyle, the first step which I took was to buy local and seasonal foods. Buying out of season means that it has been grown in heated greenhouses or it comes from another country which means that they have plucked well before time and this will affect their nutritional value. Both these are creating carbon emissions. My motto for this new year is eat more plant based food, less animal products and do some workouts.
The first vegetable that got my attention on the farm stand were these chubby cauliflower and pretty broccoli heads. I decided to roasted them with little olive oil, salt and pepper and then before few minutes of final roasting I wanted to add a little crunch with my own quinoa spice mix. For that, I dry roasted quinoa and pound them into a coarse powder, even the dry red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, couple of cloves, cinnamon and cardamons were roasted in a dry pan and ground to a smooth powder. I mixed them with the coarse quinoa powder and voila you now have a super delicious whole grain spice powder in hand. You could add this to soups, lentil curries, dumplings, flavor the rice, rub for meat/seafoods and even a little sprinkle over your butter toast.
Did you know?
1. Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, A, folic acid and calcium. For vegans, broccoli is an excellent source of calcium and one serving of it is equivalent to a glass of milk. Since broccoli is rich in fiber, it improves your bowl movement and also know to prevent colon cancer.
2. Cauliflower known as edible flower has zero fat, is rich in vitamin C and for those of you who know about South beach diet eat mashed cauliflower in the place of mashed potatoes.
3. Cauliflower and broccoli are the best examples of a cruciferous vegetable and research suggests that eating cruciferous vegetable reduces the rate of cancer. A chemical by name sulforaphane found in broccoli is found to increase the activity of enzymes that nullify the effect of cancer causing agents.
Source: My mother
Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small cauliflower head – cut into florets
  • 1 small broccoli head – cut into florets
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves – minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lemon juice (optional)
For the spice mix
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 dry red chillies or 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoon coriander seeds or 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds or 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamons
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400′F on conventional mode.
2. In the mean while, clean and wash the cauliflower and broccoli florets. Pat dry them with a kitchen towel and set aside.
3. Dry roast the quinoa in a dry pan for 3-4 minutes. Cool and pound into a course powder.  Set aside. Add oil to the same pan, roast the dry red chillies, cloves, cardamons, cinnamon,coriander powder and cumin seeds. Saute for 2 minutes, be careful not to burn them down. Cool and grind in a blender to a smooth powder. Mix the quinoa with this powder and store in an airtight container.
4. In a large bowl, add the florets and toss in oil, salt and pepper and garlic and mix well with hand or spatula to combine. Place in a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes. Turning the florets after 10 minutes of cooking.
5.  After 15 minutes, add the quinoa spice mix and roast for further 2-3 minutes. Squeeze of little lemon juice for taste. Serve hot with lentil curry and brown rice.

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  1. healthy healthy…. Love to read ur posts….such a great feeling when u incorporate good habbits and the results show… 🙂

  2. Such a yummy looking cauliflower and broccoli roast!Loved that spice powder!

  3. Nice pictures Vijitha..and njoyed the post..a good read :-)..I changed a lot in my food habits,lost close to 28 lbs in the last 2 years, I am well within my BMI now.., but since I m just 5 feet , I always look plump :-(….

  4. loved the read, straight from the heart! I think we all have put on wt since coming to US! I thing I know is because of the portion sizes! They serve more and you eat more – after all you can't waste! I love your resolve… I need to do it too! Still working on it…
    lovely roast!

  5. what an inspirational post, ur right about the unhealthy american diet… even i went to the US as a newly married & had put on 10 pounds in that one year. The funny thing is after just 3 months of being back in India i shed all of that weight without any change in my diet or excersise pattern. im still trying to figure out what the reason could have been for my weight gain in US… maybe the chocolates i gorged on, or the restaurants we went to served really fatty stuff, or the AC being on at all times dint give my body a chance to sweat?

  6. I love roasted veggies and this is one of my fav! I usually pair it with some baked fish.

  7. Hi Vijitha, Made this today and it was amazing. Except that I did not include quinoa. Even otherwise it was tasting really nice. And its my first time with broccoli. 🙂

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