Bring the VegOut! Challenge To Work

Cooking classes make great team building events.
Cooking classes make great team building events.
According to the CDC, in 2010 only about 26% of adults ate vegetables three or more times a day. For companies, Part of being a wellness director is to motivate and inspire colleagues to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Make participating in VegOut! the first step to building a happier and healthier team. VegOut! challenges you to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days. You can pick a new vegetable every day or eat ten in one day, as long as you track it on your log and complete it in 30 days. Continue reading…

Shubhra’s Fire Roasted Eggplant

Shubhra Ramineni is a culinary instructor, busy mom of a veggie-loving girl and award-winning cookbook author of Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook. Shubhra’s no-fuss cooking style recreates authentic Indian flavors using easy techniques and fresh and easily available ingredients.

 Shubhra has generously provided a  copy of her latest tome, Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook for one lucky VegOut! participant who completes the 30-day challenge this March.

In the mean time, she’s shared one of her simple, yet elegant recipes to inspire you in your food adventure…

Shubhra's Fire Roasted Eggplant

Smoked eggplant is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and is fun to make! The eggplant, also known as brinjal in India, is roasted directly over the open flame on a gas stovetop. If you don’t have a gas stove, you could roast the eggplant under an oven broiler or cook it on an outdoor grill. If you use an oven broiler, it is not as messy, but you will not get the smoky taste that comes from cooking directly over an open flame. This dish can be served with naan or as an appetizer along with lightly toasted wedges of pita bread. – Shubhra

Fire Roasted Eggplant (Baingan Bhartha)

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes if using a gas stove
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method:  Place the refrigerated or defrosted eggplant in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place it in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically.


1 large eggplant, globe variety (about 1 lb/500 g)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus 1 extra teaspoon oil if using an oven)
1 small onion, diced
1 fully ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teaspoon salt 


On the stove:

  • If you’re using a gas stove to roast the eggplant, place aluminum foil under a large burner to make clean-up easier.  Wash and dry the eggplant.   Place the eggplant directly on the gas burner on high heat.  Using tongs, frequently turn the eggplant to make sure all sides are evenly cooked, about 8 minutes.  When done, the eggplant will become very soft and mushy. The skin will be charred, and it will have collapsed in on itself.  Also, some liquid will release the cooking process, which will be caught by the foil.  Remove from the heat and let cool. Discard the foil.
  • If you’re using your oven to roast the eggplant, preheat the broiler to high. Wash and dry the eggplant.  Rub 1 teaspoon of the oil on the eggplant so it will not dry out while cooking. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet on the highest rack possible near the broiler and turn frequently until the eggplant is evenly charred and the flesh is soft and mushy, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Using your fingers, peel the skin off the eggplant and discard.  After you have removed the skin, hold the eggplant over your sink by the stem with one hand.  Wet your other hand and very gently grab the eggplant and run your hand down it to help take off any small remaining bits of skin.
  • Place the eggplant in a shallow dish.  Holding the eggplant by the stem, use a potato masher to mash the eggplant flesh and break it apart.  (The stem will become separated from the eggplant flesh.  Do not discard the stem.)
  • Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  When the oil is heated, add the onion.  Sauté until the onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the tomato.  Cook until the tomato pieces become soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.   Add the mashed eggplant (including the stem and the juices), red pepper and salt. Stir to combine.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve the eggplant on a platter, along with the stem, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!

On the grill:

  • Wash and dry the eggplant.   Heat a grill on medium-high heat.  When the grill is heated, place the eggplant directly on the grill rack.  Close the grill, and check back every 5 minutes to turn the eggplant.  Cook for a total of 20 minutes with the grill closed.  Cook until all four sides of the eggplant are soft and mushy.  Remove from grill and let cool.  Continue with steps 3 to 7. 

Recipe from Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People by Shubhra Ramineni. Learn more about Shubhra, her cookbooks and upcoming events and classes at



This week’s social media flash contest kicks up a notch with VIDEO SUBMISSIONS! Use your phone’s video function or your favorite movie app (Vine, Instagram, etc) to shoot and share a quick film of you vegging out, from dining on kohlrabi at a VegOut! HERE spot, whipping up an eggplant stirfry for dinner, or crunching some carrots at work. Camera shy? Get your kids to talk about the veggies they’re eating!

Post videos with the hashtags #VegOutVideo and #VegOutRFS to enter. Our fave flick wins Dinner for Two to Monica Pope’s Sparrow Bar + Cookshop. Remember, to qualify for contests, you must be registered for the 2014 VegOut! Challenge.

Entries are due by Wednesday, March 26, at 11.59 a.m. 

Veggies… camera… ACTION!

Our #VegOutJicama winner is…

VegOutJicamaDishLast week, we asked you to submit your best photo of a jicama dish with us on social media with the hashtag #VegOutJicama for a chance to win our second VegOut! flash contest. Several of you rose to the challenge and share some inspired cuisine, so we asked Chef Jason Gould of Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen to help us determine a winner.

After reviewing all the submissions, here’s what he had to say:

“These are some really good recipes with some great and unique uses for jicama, it was hard to choose just one winner. The one I picked is the “Sōté-rubbed Salmon with Hatch Pepper Sauce and Jicama-Mango Slaw”. It’s simple use of the jicama in the “slaw” really highlights the great qualities of the vegetable, helping to retain the crispness and complementing the flavor with the addition of the citrus and mango.  Served with the seared salmon and spicy Hatch pepper sauce, makes for a great spring dish.”

So congrats to Dragana Harris (aka the writer and home cook behind Dragana Bakes).  Enjoy the $50 gift card donated by the lovely folks at Cyclone Anaya’s.

Dragana has shared her recipe with us to help you veg out with jicama, too!

Sōté-Rubbed Salmon with Hatch Pepper Sauce & Jicama-Mango Slaw

Serves 2


For salmon:

¾ lb salmon fillet

Sōté seasoning or seasoning of your choice

1 tablespoon olive oil

For sauce:

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

1 roasted Hatch pepper (spicy or not), skin removed, stemmed and seeded

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

¼ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

1 peeled and chopped Roma tomato

For jicama slaw:

½ lb jicama, peeled and julienned (use the mandoline for this if you have one)

1 mango, peeled, sliced thin and then longwise into thin strips

8 radishes, sliced thinly (here again, the mandoline comes in handy)

1/3 cup red onion, sliced thin

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

4 tablespoons fresh orange juice

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste


  • Pat salmon dry with a paper towel to remove any moisture. Rub a little Sōté seasoning on the salmon, remembering that the Sōté is mostly salt.
  • Pour olive oil into an oven-proof pan or cast iron skillet. Heat pan over medium heat until the oil is very hot. Carefully add the salmon, skin side down. Cover with a splatter shield if necessary to prevent oil from splashing everywhere. Sauté salmon until the edges begin to turn color, about 5 – 6 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Remove pan with salmon from heat and place under broiler for 2 minutes to sear the top. Remove pan from oven using an oven mitt. Serve with Hatch pepper green sauce and Jicama mango slaw.
  • Place all ingredients in a small blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill until ready to serve.  Serve using tongs to drain slaw from the juices.

See Dragana’s original post, plus more recipes and culinary tales on her blog, Dragana Bakes.

GRAND PRIZE: Deer Lake Lodge & Spa Getaway

We’re wrapping up Week 2 of the 2014 VegOut! Challenge… how are you doing? Need a little boost? Let us tell you about one of the prizes YOU could win, just by eating all 30 of those veggies…

Deer Lake Lodge & Spa-Juice

Deer Lake Lodge & Spa, an exclusive destination health spa and wellness resort, promotes enhanced living through holistic cleansing and other therapeutic approaches in a relaxing, secluded environment. Located on a 50-acre rustic-chic oasis, only 40 minutes from central Houston and 15 minutes from The Woodlands, the green-constructed health haven is a country mile away from stress. Deer Lake Lodge & Spa’s ideology is to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit through organic spa treatments, juice-fasting programs, raw foods classes, yoga and spiritual enrichment workshops. Through these holistic services and treatments, guests will return home not only feeling cleansed and relaxed, but energized and educated about living enhanced and healthier lives.

Deer Lake Lodge & Spa-2

THE GRAND PRIZE: Experience wellness, pure and simple, with a 3 day/2 night stay at Deer Lake Lodge Spa & Resort.  The package includes a suite for two, plus a range of feel-good activities, from juicing and raw foods class, yoga and life enhancement classes and use of the salt water pool and hot tub and hiking trails.

Guests can also indulge in the resort’s array of refreshing spa treatments.

Sounds pretty dreamy, right? How do you qualify for a chance to win? Simply finish the 30-Day challenge and submit your completed Veggie Log by April 4, and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a host of fantastic prizes.

Learn more about Deer Lake Lodge & Spa on their website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.