Monday, February 13, 2017

Healthy Vegetarian Italian Salad - Valentine's Day special!


The day of love otherwise known as Valentine's Day is upon us. Instead of going to overcrowded, noisy restaurants, sometimes it is better to spend quality time with your significant other at home and enjoy a hearty and healthy salad along with chocolates and wine :)

Ingredients: Mixed baby greens - 2 handfuls,  Baby spinach - handful, Mixed peppers (orange, yellow and red) - cubed 15-20 pcs total, green bell pepper - 1 cubed, Cucumbers - 3-4 cubed, Grape tomatoes - 15-20 halved, Olives - 1 can, onion (optional) - 1/2 sliced, Italian cheese mix - 3-4 oz (about 3/4 the packet), Ranch dressing - 1 bottle - 16 oz - any brand of your choice (I used yogurt based ranch), balsamic vinegar - few drops, crushed red pepper - 1/4 tsp, black pepper to taste, Croutons - to garnish.

Procedure: Wash and chop all the vegetables according to instructions above. Mix Ranch dressing, balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper and black pepper in a separate bowl. Take a big bowl and assemble everything together. Garnish with croutons. Healthy and delicious salad is ready. Chill and serve.

I made a tomato heart decor specially for Valentine's day :) 

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Till my next post, take care.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Simple and Healthy greens - Kale and Tofu Bhaji


This bhaji or vegetable is the simplest and healthiest one that you can ever make. It can be prepared in less than 20 mins start to finish and is totally delicious and good for you. Kale can be substituted with any other green like Swiss Chard, or purple kale, it tastes just as good. It has all the healthy nutrients and vitamins and plant based soy protein that you body needs.

Ingredients: Kale - 1 bunch, Garlic- 5-6 pods, Tofu - 12 oz extra firm, Oil - 3-4 tsp, black pepper - 1/2 tsp, salt to taste and few drops of lemon juice.

Method: Clean, wash and chop the Kale or any green that you are using. Crush the garlic pods. Heat oil in a pan and and add 1/2 tsp crushed pepper and crushed garlic. Immediately add the chopped greens and cover and cook for 3-4 mins on medium heat. Cube the tofu and add that to the greens. Cover and cook for 3-4 mins. Add salt to taste and lemon juice. Delicious bhaji is ready. Eat with Chapati or fill it in Pita pocket or roll it in Lavaash bread or eat as a side dish with rice. It is really versatile, simple and tasty.

Till my next post, take care everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Healthy Whole Wheat Cracker Chaat Bites


I have yet to meet a person who does not love '#chaat'. It is an immensely popular street item India. Like most of you, Chaat is totally my weak point.  I can munch on it endlessly day after day :)

But the typical chaat items are loaded with empty unhealthy calories. So I created this simple and easy to throw together but totally healthy and tasty chaat item to satisfy everyone's chaat cravings in a jiffy. Best part is you do not even have to make any chutney for this - that easy breezy.

It makes for a great appetizer/snack for potluck and parties too. 

Superbowl is coming up soon, makes for great occasion to try it out :)

So here is the recipe:

Ingredients: Ritz or any other brand whole wheat crackers 8-10, chopped onion - 1/2, chopped cucumber - 1/2, chopped tomato - 1/2, cilantro chopped - 3-4 tbsp, chaat masala - 1/2 tsp, paprika/red chilli powder - 1/4 tsp, cheese - 1 cheese single cut into 8-10 parts, Siracha hot sauce - as needed, Sev (Indian sev) for garnish.

Assembly: Take a plate and arrange crackers and sliced cheese pieces on top of it. In another bowl, mix all the chopped veggies, chaat masala and paprika/red chilli powder. Do not add salt. The chaat masala, cheese and the cracker already have enough salt. Spoon the mixture on top of the crackers and cheese. Add a drop or two of #Siracha. Garnish with Sev.

Serve immediately. The chaat bite just bursts into a medley of sweet, savory, tangy, pungent, spicy flavors in your mouth and you are instantly transported to taste heaven. Enjoy!!!

Till my next post, take care everyone.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pesarattu (Lentils dosa) with Tomato Onion Chutney


This dish brings back nostalgic memories of breakfast in Hyderabad when we used to visit our grandparents for summer vacation. It is a very filling and popular traditional Andhra dish.

I make it with a slightly different twist to the traditional recipe. I mix various dals (lentils) to pack a punch of protein and put a mix of brown and wild rice (1:1 ratio) to make it healthier and diabetes friendly.

Ingredients for Pesarattu Dosa:
Yellow Moong dal - 1 cup, Green Moong Dal - 1/4 cup, Chana dal - 1/4 th cup, Urad dal - 1/4 cup, Brown rice - 1/2 cup, Wild rice - 1/2 cup, Ginger - 1/2 tsp, Garlic - 5-6 pcs, Curry leaves - 8-10, Green chillies - 2-3 (depending on your taste), cilantro - 3-4 tbsp, cumin - 1 tsp, salt to taste, oil for making the pesarattu dosa. Onions - chopped, green chillies - chopped, cilantro chopped - for garnish.

Procedure to make Pesarattu dosa:
Soak all the lentils and rice (preferably overnight, or at least fpt 6 hrs), Finely grind the mixture along with the other ingredients like ginger, garlic, green chillies, cilantro, cumin and salt in a mixer. There is no need to ferment this mixture unlike traditional dosa. Heat a pan, add few drops of oil, put a big ladle of batter and spread it evenly. Cover and cook for 2 mins till it is brownish on the bottom, add a layer of onions and some chopped green chillies (optional) on top, flip and cook for a minute. Pesarattu is ready for stuffing (see stuffing recipe below).

Upma stuffing for Pesarattu dosa:

Ingredients for Upma: 
1 cup rava (preferably fine semolina, sooji, cream of wheat), Water -  2 cups, Urad dal - 1 tsp, Chana Dal - 1 tsp, Tempering - 1tsp spoon mustard seeds, Asofoetida - 1/2 tsp, green chillies (as per desired spice level), ginger - grated 1/2 tsp,  5-6 curry leaves, oil - 3 tsp. I do not add onions to the upma I use for stuffing. I like to keep it simple.

Procedure for making Upma stuffing:
Dry roast the upma rava for 5-6 minutes till light brown and keep it aside. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Now add asofoetida, urad dal, chana dal, green chillies and curry leaves. Saute for 1/2 minute and add 2 cups of water and bring it to boil. Then  add the upma rava slowly and stir continuously to avoid lumps.Cover and cook for 3-4 mins. It should be nice and soft Cook for 2-3 additional minutes and set aside. Use this to stuff the above pesarattu dosa.

Serve with Tomato Onion Chutney.



Tomato Onion Chutney:

Ingredients for Chutney:
Onion - 1 chopped, Tomato - 2 medium chopped, Urad dal - 1 tbsp, Chana Dal - 1 tbsp, Cilantro - 3-4 tbsp, Green chillies - 3-4, Ginger - 1 tsp, Garlic - 4-5 pods, Dry shredded coconut - 2 tsp (optional), oil - 2 tsp, salt to taste. Tempering - 1 tsp spoon mustard seeds, Asofoetida - 1/2 tsp, turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp, red ciilli powder - 1/2 tsp,  5-6 curry leaves, oil - 2 tsp.

Procedure for Chutney:
Dry roast urad dal, chana dal and shredded coconut (each separately) till light browna and put aside. Put 2 tsp oil in a pan and roast onions till brown. Add ginger, garlic, cilantro, green chillies and saute for 3-4 mins, then add tomatoes and saute for 5-6 mins till everything is cooked. Add the previously roasted dals and coconut. Cool and grind in a mixer. Add the tempering (For tempering: Heat the pan and add oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Now add asofoetida, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and curry leaves.) Mix and serve with Pesarattu.

Here is another version without Upma filling........... we ate this with coconut/peanut chutney.


Enjoy this protein packed delicacy for breakfast, lunch or dinner :), Till my next post, take care everyone!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Beetroot curry (beet chi bhaji)


For busy families, dinner is the only time where everyone can catch up on the days events. I love spending quality time with my loved ones and my goal is to cook healthy dishes for my family for dinner. Beetroot is one of my go to vegetables since I can cook it in the morning or previous day and make the vegetable after getting back from work. I have a microwave safe cooker so I just pierce the beets with a knife, add some water to cover them and microwave for 12 mins - that easy. It is totally healthy and full of vitamins and nutrients. This is my take on the traditional South Indian beetroot palya or beetroot curry.

Ingredients: 3-4 beetroots cut in cubes, 1 small onion  chopped, 2 green chillies, freshly grated coconut and cilantro for garnish, tempering: 4-5 tsp Oil,  1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4th tsp asofoetida, few curry leaves, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp Sambar masala, Salt to taste

Method: Cook the beetroots is a pressure cooker or microwave. Peel the skin and cut into cubes. Heat oil in the pan and add  mustard seeds and let them crackle, then add asafoetida, curry leaves and green chillies, turmeric powder, chilli powder. Add chopped onion and cook for 2-3 mins till the onion is soft. Then add the cubed beetroots, and cover and cook for additional 2-3 mins. Add sambar masala and salt and a little water 4-5 tsp and cook it on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Garnish with fresh grated coconut and cilantro. Enjoy with Roti or as a side dish with rice.

Till my next post, take care everyone!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Water Chestnut Flour (Shingada), Almonds, Walnut and Date Cake (Sugar and Egg free)


Recently we celebrated my mom's birthday. She is a diabetic and can no longer enjoy sweet desserts. All through our growing years, she unfailingly and enthusiastically baked a variety of delicious cakes for us at home. So, I wanted to do something for her this time around. So I literally thought of all healthy things she could eat and baked them into a cake, and that is how this cake was created :) It is diabetic friendly: sugar free, gluten free, and egg free (vegetarian friendly) healthy cake.

Ingredients: Water Chestnut Flour (Shingada or Singoda): 1 cup, Almonds: 5-10, walnuts: 5-10, dates: about 20-25, yogurt: 1 tbsp, baking soda: 1/2 tsp, baking powder: 1 tsp, vanilla essence: 2 tsp, cardamoms: 5-6 pods crushed (optional).

Procedure: Soak Almonds, walnuts and dates in milk for about an hour. Grind to a fine paste (along with the milk they were soaked in - remove excess milk  while grinding - it should be about 3/4th cup while grinding). Grease a baking pan. Sift the Water Chestnut Flour (Shingada or Singoda), add baking powder and ground paste and yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Add vanilla essence and crushed cardamom pods (optional) and mix. Now add baking soda. Mix well and pour into greased pan (I used a loaf pan) and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 mins. Insert toothpick and check if the cake is done. If not bake for additional 5 mins on 300 degrees F. Let it cool. When the sides of the cake start leaving the pan, flip it over in a flat dish. Cake is ready to enjoy.

Tip: This cake can be made with sugar too if desired for non-diabetic people. It is really healthy. You can add 1/4th cup sugar or 1/2 cup condensed milk since it already has dates. Adjust sugar/condensed milk quantity as per desired level of sweetness. 

Till my next post, take care everyone.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kalakand Barfi (Ricotta Cheese and Condensed milk - Microwave recipe)


With an ever so busy schedule, it is really challenging to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, especially during Diwali. But my family members have a sweet tooth and love Kalakand barfi, so I really wanted to make it this year. I was inspired by some recipes on the internet for Kalakand barfi made with Ricotta cheese, condensed milk and best of all in a microwave! So here is how I made it after browsing through a lot recipes.

Ingredients:
Ricotta cheese - 15 oz tub, Sweetened Condensed milk - 14 oz (1 small can), Milk powder - 1/2 cup, Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp, Rose essence - 1/4 tsp, Saffron - 1 tsp crushed strands, Pistachios - 12-15 finely chopped, Almonds - 8-10 - crushed. **Additional sugar 2-3 tsp (I did not add since it was sweet enough for me, but if you feel you need more sweetness, you can add, it is optional)*


Procedure:

  • Take a large microwave safe bowl or container, combine ricotta cheese,condensed milk, milk powder, cardamon powder, rose essence and few saffron strands. Whisk till everything is mixed well without any lumps. (I have a 1200 watts microwave, but you can adjust cooking time according to your microwave wattage). 
  • Microwave it initially for 1-2 minutes, make sure the bowl is partially covered with splatter guard since the liquid boils over and splatters a lot initially. 
  • Check on it and mix well and microwave it partially covered for 1-2 mins, keep checking for boil over and splatter. Repeat 2 more times. 
  • By now, the mixture will start getting thicker. Now you can remove the splatter guard. 
  • Microwave uncovered for 2-3 mins and repeat 2-3 times. The mixture will start turning dry and grainy and will not stick to the bowl. (Keep microwaving for additional minutes, 1 minute at a time till you reach desired consistency)
  • When it reaches almost dry consistency, pour it into a greased container. Pat it to make it even and add crushed pistachios, almonds and saffron strands on top. 
  • Let it set for 30-45 mins, after which you can cut it into squares or any desired shape.

Enjoy quick and easy Kalakand Barfi!


Wishing everyone a very Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year 2016, till my next post take care everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Baby Bok Choy, Tofu and Bell Pepper Bhaji


I frequently came across Bok Choy vegetable while shopping at our local Chinese market. One day I just bought it out of curiosity, but had no clue how to use it. I decided to give it an Indian twist and use it for making bhaji/Indian curry. The result was yummilicious. 

The garlic and bell pepper gives it a nice, rich and complex flavor. It cooks down quite a bit so adjust quantity accordingly. It is really healthy and nutritious and has lot of vitamins and is low in calories.

Ingredients: Baby Bok Choy - 5-6 heads (chopped), Green Bell Pepper - 1 chopped, Onion - 1 chopped, Tofu - 1 packet (about 12 oz), garlic - 5-6 pods crushed, tempering - 3-4 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp asofoetida, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp - garam masala. Few drops of lemon juice, salt to taste.

Procedure: Heat about 3-4 tsp oil in a pan. When it is hot, add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add 1/2 tsp of asofoetida, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder and 1 tsp coriander powder and 1 tsp cumin powder and 1 tsp garam masala. Add onions and crushed garlic. Saute till onions are a little soft. Add chopped bell pepper and saute for 3-4 mins, add chopped bok choy, stir, cover and cook for 3-4 mins. Add salt and check for taste. Then add cubed tofu, stir cover and cook for 4-5 mins on medium heat. Add lemon juice. Adjust salt if needed. Serve with Roti or side dish for rice. Enjoy!

Till my next post, take care everyone.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Shingada Flour Thalipeeth (Singoda/Waterchestnut Flour Pancake)


Happy Navratri!! This thalipeeth is usually made for fasting. The Shingada or waterchestnut flour makes it a more healthier alternative to sabudana (sago). Sometimes I make it at snack time for my kids if they are really hungry and need some variety. It is very quick and easy recipe, not to say tasty as well.

Ingredients: Singada/Singoda flour (Water chestnut flour) - 1 cup, Roasted peanut powder - 1/4 cup, jeera/cumin seeds - 1 tsp, red/chilli powder - 1 tsp or chopped green chillies - 2-3, salt to taste, chopped cilantro - 1 tbsp, oil - 1 tsp + 2/3 tsp for cooking, Water to mix dough.

Method: Take flour, peanut powder, jeera/cumin seeds, red chilli powder/chopped green chillies, cilantro, salt and little oil in a bowl and mix the dough.
Grease a pan/tava with oil and flatten the dough to make a thalipeeth/pancake. Cover and cook for 3-4 mins on medium high heat and turn over and cook the other side for 3-4 mins. When both sides are cooked, serve it hot with peanut chutney (see sabudana vada with chutney) or yoghurt.

Enjoy and till my next post, take care everyone!!

Monday, September 26, 2016

How to make healthy 'Sprouts' at home



Sprouts ( mod aleli kad dhanya in marathi) are extremely healthy and low in calories and a major source of plant based protein. They are also a source of fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals. They are also good for your skin, eyes and hair, known to boost metabolism and help to protect against many common ailments.

So, how do you make sprouts at home? I got this question from a lot of my friends, after I recently made Misal, so I decided to make this post.

You can make sprouts out of pretty much any kind of grain or legume. The more popular ones are moong (mung, green gram bean), matki (moth bean), dried green peas, horse gram, soy, fenugreeek, alfalfa to name just a few. 

Procedure:
  • First Day
Take desired quantity of legumes/grains (considering that they will double after sprouting). Wash and fill the bowl with lukewarm water till it is at least 2-3 inches over the legumes. Preferably soak them overnight.
  • Second Day
Drain the water and wash the soaked legumes/grains and place them on a colander to drain a bit. After that take a towel or soft cotton cloth and place it inside the colander, and pour the legumes/grains on it. Rinse the legumes/grains thoroughly at least 2-3 times during the day and return them to their sprouting position in the cloth/towel.
  • Third day
You will see that they have begun to sprout. By afternoon or evening, they are ready for use. If the weather is warm, they will be ready in the morning by 3rd day. The length of the sprout should be more than the legume/grain, that is how you know they are ready. 

Enjoy your healthy sprouts in a variety of recipes. I will try to post a few more sprout recipes soon.

Till my next post, take care everyone!