Healthier Cookie for a Stealthier You

img_5165

First let me say the most important thing — these cookies are my daughter’s fave and are hence very dear to my heart. Made with rolled oats and whole wheat and of course a megaton of love, these cookies are absolutely the shit. And at the cost of sounding crude, they are the s@#* in two ways — they also cure your constipation… lol.

To make a cookie jar full of these beauties, you will need:

         1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar 

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon (20g) dark molasses

1 and 2/3 cups (140g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats

1 cup (125g) whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 cups chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

Method of Preparations:

Using a mixer or whisk, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed till they achieve a silky smoothness. Then, add in an egg and mix with high speed for about a minute.  Then the molasses and vanilla and mix on high.

In a separate bowl, toss in all the dry ingredients — the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Fold this mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate. Chill the dough for at least 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325°F or 163°C. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll balls of dough (about 1.5 tablespoons of dough per cookie) and place them two inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes until very lightly browned on the sides. The centres will look soft. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Making ahead of time: Cookies stay fresh in air-tight containers at room temperature for up to a week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let the cool dough come to room temperature before baking. Baked cookies freeze well for up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well up to three months. Bake frozen cookie dough after it thaws.

img_5177
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie

Palak Anda: A lean mean spinach egg curry

spinach egg curry
This is a boiled egg recipe that stands on a luscious green spinach onion tomato sauces spiced in typical North Indian fashion.

It’s healthy, it’s hearty and most of all doubles as comfort food that lights up the soul and chases away the blues. 

To cook up this beauty, you will need:

8-10 boiled eggs

Two small or one large bundle of spinach

One generous handful of coriander leaves (cilantro)

One or two Serrano chillis

One medium sized onion, chopped fine

One day pod of garlic, minced fine

One inch cube of ginger, chopped fine

Two medium-sized tomatoes, puréed 

A neutral oil such as vegetable oil or canola

Two tablespoons of dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) or fresh leaves

Whole garam masala — cumin, cloves, bay leaf, cardamom and a small cinnamon stick

A tablespoon of coriander poweder

Salt

Half a tablespoon of red chilli powder 

A neutral oil

A tablespoon of yogurt

Method of preparation:

Add spinach to boiling water and blanch it. Bring out the spinach using a strainer. Once the spinach cools down, grind with fenugreek and corriander leaves.

Coat the bottom of your pot / skillet with oil. Turn on medium heat. Add in cumin seeds, two cloves, a small cinnamon stick, a bay leaf and two cardamom pods. Once they are roasted and an aroma develops, add in minced ginger and garlic, and chopped onion. Once the onion browns a bit, add in the finely chopped tomatoes and cook with a lid till the tomatoes are tender and a sauce develops. Then, add in the spinach purée and season with salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder. Underseason when in doubt. You can always add in more later. Cook with an open lid over a low flame for 10 mins and stir in the yogurt. Toss in the prepped boiled eggs and cook for two minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning for taste. Add some lemon if you like. 

Serve hot with rice, bread or flatbreads. Although I can eat a bowl full as is!

Hearty and Healthy Black beans and Veggie stew

By Mini Kolluri

Black bean stew, veggie stew, healthy stewBean stews are super common in both Indian and Mexican cuisines. But this one swears allegiance to neither camp since it’s something that I just threw together and was lucky to chance upon a spectacular result. It’s hearty but not heavy and healthy but comforting. Ideal for a weekday dinner or for a kiddie meal. Or of course anytime in the cold cold winter.

To make enough stew for six servings,

You will need:

One small onion, chopped

Two medium sized tomatoes

One cup butternut squash cubes

One corn cob

Half a green pepper

19 oz can of cooked black beans

Oil – canola, vegetable or olive

A medium-sized pod of garlic

Salt

Red chilli powder

Thyme

Cumin powder

Method of preparation:

Line the pot with a thin layer of oil. Heat over medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and chopped garlic. While the onions cook, chop the pepper and butternut squash and add it in. Add in the corn kernels and stir. Chop up the tomatoes and add them in. Once the vegetable cook down a little, season with salt, chilli powder, cumin and thyme. If in doubt add seasoning conservatively. You could always add more later. Stir.

Add the beans from the can along with the water it comes with. Add in another half cup of water. Feel free to use soaked and cooked beans instead if you like. Once the beans are in, cover with a lid and let it cook for 20 mins over a low flame. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Serve with rice or as a soup.

Black bean soup, veggie soup, veggie stew, black bean and vegetable soup

Thai green curry (Vegan)

By Shalini Kolluri 

The Thai green curry is the perfect go to comfort food on a hungry winter afternoon. It is not only rich and flavorful, it can be custom made to suit all your veggie cravings. I love using eggplant and sweet potato in my curry as it enriches the taste and consistency. Hope you enjoy eating this simple yet delectable recipe!

thai

Ingredients:-

1 can low fat coconut milk

1/2 cup vegetable stock

4 teaspoons soy sauce

4 teaspoons sugar / agave

6 tablespoons Thai green curry paste( Thai Taste, Maesri, and Thai Kitchen)

1/2  cup diced white onion

1/2 cup plum tomatoes

1 eggplant chopped in pieces

1 cup diced (1/2 inch) red bell pepper

1/2 cup diced (1/2 inch) zucchini or other summer squas

1/4 cup diced (1/2 inch) peeled sweet potato

1 lime

8 large basil leaves (cut)

salt (drizzle)

Method:-

Spoon 6 tablespoons of the coconut cream from the top of the can into a medium saucepan. Pour remaining contents of can into a medium bowl, and mix well. In a medium bowl, combine vegetable stock, soy sauce, and agave.

Place saucepan of coconut cream over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Add curry paste and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until very fragrant, about 3 minutes; adjust heat as needed to prevent burning.

Add in the vegetables. Boil for 10 minutes on low. Making sure the veggies are tenderly cooked.

Stir in coconut milk – soy sauce mixture, bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce heat to low for 10 minutes.

Add salt and 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice to taste; you may use the juice of an entire lime.

Stir and mix well.

Add up to 1/4 cup water if the curry seems too thick.

To serve, place the curry in a serving bowl and garnish with the basil or cilantro.

Serve with jasmine or brown rice.

eggplant carrot sandwich

By Shalini Kolluri

brinjal1

This was an experiment and it worked! I always loved crunchy breaded eggplant, but always wondered how it would taste with out the cheese that usually accompanies it. Well, I’m glad to say that this unique combination of flavors work really well. The creaminess of the hummus, the crunchiness of the baked eggplant and the sweetness of carrot sure do compliment each other. Hope you like this recipe!

Ingredients:-

For the breaded eggplant –

1 large eggplant

1 bowl of bread crumbs

1 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 cups almond/soy milk (plain)

For the carrots –

1 carrot (peeled and diced in circles)

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon lime juice

salt

pepper

1/2 teaspoon agave (optional)

Store bought organic hummus (with/ without tahini)

Method :-

Breaded eggplant –

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Depending on how you plan to serve the eggplant slices, you can peel or not peel the purple exterior.Cut slices in 1/2 inch rounds.

In a bowl wide enough to submerge the eggplant slices, add the plain soy milk, Dijon mustard and whisk together.

In the two baking dishes, fill each with the whole wheat pastry flour and the bread crumbs.
Place the flour and bread crumb dishes side by side.

Dip the egg plant slice into the whole wheat pastry flour.

Dip the floured slice into the dipping liquid. Immediately place the wet slice into the bread crumbs and flip over to coat the other side. Place the coated eggplant slice onto the parchment paper and repeat till all the slices are encrusted.

Slip the baking tray into the preheated oven.

Use an aerosol can of olive oil and spray the tops of each eggplant slice with a generous amount of olive oil.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Carrot –

Stir fry the carrot on medium flame for about 6-7 min on each side with out charring it. Add a drizzle of olive oil to hasten the process. Add in the salt and pepper. Turn off the flame once semi cooked and season with cilantro plus lime. Add in the agave if you want it to have a sweet and sour taste.

Making the sandwich –

On a couple slice of fresh whole wheat bread spread the hummus. Top it with the breaded eggplant and carrots. Enjoy!

 

A bold and beautiful Pomegranate Beet Pasta Sauce 

A sauce should be well… saucy. A sauce without character is like a burlesque dancer without sex appeal.

Keeping that in my mind you could do variations on staples. But remember, while tomato , herb and cheese based sauces are classics for a reason, venturing into the new is what adventure is about. So get bold with us by trying this pomegranate beet sauce. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s tart and an all-round sweetheart. It’s toddler approved making it the perfect vehicle to get some nutrition in while building a plate pretty enough to land a prince.

Beet pasta sauce, pomegranate pasta sauce, beet pomegranate pasta sauce, healthy pasta sauce
To make this pasta for four, 

You will need:

Half a large pomegranate 

Quarter a big beet or half a small

One cup pasta

A handful of chopped onions

A pod of garlic

Two tablespoons of tomato purée

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Pepper

A tablespoon of white vinegar 

Method of preparation:

I cooked a cup of pasta. I mixed rotini and penne in an effort to finish up my reserves.

Then I puréed a pod of garlic and half a large pomegranate. I did not strain this mixture if you dislike the texture of minute bits of seeds, you could. I personally think it adds crunch. Then I puréed quarter a large beet and mixed the two sauces. 

I coated a saucepan with a thin layer of olive oil. Turned on medium heat and added in a handful of chopped onions. Once they turned a bit translucent, I added in the pomegranate-garlic-beet mix. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, a tablespoon of white vinegar, and a handful of cheddar cheese. I also added two tablespoons of tomato purée. Once the desired consistency was reached, I added in the pasta, gave it a quick stir and turned off the flame.

Indulge your madness with this everything-goes chickpea salad

As the temperature drops, quick one-pot / one-dish dishes come to the rescue. And of course since grocery shopping becomes such a production in winter, it’s best to resort to pantry-led cooking and to go easy on letting recipes take the lead.

A warm chickpea salad lends itself to that kind of flexibility and acts as the perfect canvas for the lone carrot or the few leaves of Swiss chard left over in your fridge.


For this amazing salad, you need cooked chickpeas. Of course soaking dried chickpeas overnight and cooking them is the best way but canned chickpeas are just fine. I usually soak and cook a large batch of chickpeas and divide them into ziplocks and freeze them so I can use them at short notice.

You also need cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Then, just open up your fridge and pull out whatever veggies you like — carrots, beans, greens, asparagus, mushrooms… whatever you like – indulge your madness.

Place a skillet or wok on the on the stovetop. Turn it on medium heat. Pour in a bit on oil, preferably olive oil. Add in your veggies and stir till you reach the desired done-ness. Then add in the potatoes, salt, pepper and lime. Add in the chickpeas. Once it’s warm enough, add in chopped greens and herbs. Green onions are welcome too, always! Give it a minute and transfer to a bowl, add in chopped tomatoes or not depending on your preference. Sliced pink radishes or cucumbers should work brilliantly too. Add a bit of light sour cream, Greek yogurt or lite mayo for the extra comfort factor. You need to add enough dairy to just quote the chickpeas. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Bon appetite!

mango sesame chutney

By Shalini Kolluri 

This is a classic South Indian traditional recipe that goes perfectly well when eaten with rice crepes (dosas) or steamed rice. Although, I would’nt say no if you tried it with crackers or nachos! The tarty sweetness of a raw mango combined with the spiciness of red chilies makes this chutney my absolute favorite.

The taste of this dish heavily depends on seasoning. While sesame seeds add that nutty taste and enhance the aroma, the crushed mustard powder adds an unmistakable south Indian taste to this chutney.

Raw mangoes are versatile and are widely used in Indian cuisines. From pickles to lentil soups, they make an appearance in many forms. I will post many more raw mango recipes in the days to come. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

 

cook-3

Ingredients :-

 

1 raw mango peeled and grated (approx 1 heaped cup) -Slightly sweet and sour mangoes work best.

a pinch of turmeric powder (optional)

1/2 cups sesame seeds( dry roast on low flame for 6-7 min and crush into a coarse powder

1/2 teaspoon of crushed mustard seeds

Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp, dry roast till red and crushed to a fine powder ( available at Indian stores)

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)

Canola oil -3 tablespoon or mustard oil -3 tablespoons

1/4 teaspoonMustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds

3 to 4 Dry red chilies tear and de-seed

Curry leaves -a few leaves (optional)

Method:-

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Add the cumin seeds, red chilies, and curry leaves.

Immediately, add the grated mango and turmeric powder and mix. Cook on medium flame for 7-8 mins without a lid or till oil separates.

cook-4

cook-2

cook-1

Add the sesame seeds powder and mix and continue to cook on low flame for a min. Add the mustard seeds powder, fenugreek powder, chili powder and salt, mix well and turn off the heat.

 

Remove to a serving bowl and serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Bulgar Upma 

bulgar upma

Today, I give the recipe of a slightly modified version of a dish I grew up with — Rava Upma. Traditionally made with semolina (rava) and vegetables, this comforting dish is a staple in South Indian households. While the recipe I give departs slightly from the authentic from time to time, I can confidently say that it unmistakably tastes like a really good upma. In fact if I may dare say, it is better than the semolina version because bulgar wheat has a nutty flavor, a delightful texture and nutritional value that is off the charts.
Bulgur wheat, a cereal made by cracking steamed and toasted whole wheat kernels, makes an excellent base for upma because it comes really close and even manages to upstage the cracked wheat upma that the health conscious eat in India. Cracked wheat, a cracked whole wheat cereal made from raw whole wheat, is also often used as a rice substitute by diabetic patients in India.

Here’s the recipe for the moist and well-spiced bulgar upma that I just made. I will also give you tips on how to jazz up the upma South Indian style. Hope you guys enjoy it!

Essential ingredients:

About five tablespoons of canola oil, three and a half cups of cooked bulgur wheat, two small onions, one and a half-inch cube of grated / crushed ginger, three medium-sized tomatoes, three slender carrots, a handful of peas, two handfuls of baby spinach leaves, a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), salt and red chili powder.

Optional ingredients (Add a more distinct South Indian flair):

A pinch of cumin seeds, a pinch of mustard seeds, a dash of turmeric, a handful of curry leaves and raw peanuts or cashew nuts. You can also add vegetables such as chopped cauliflower, green beans or bell peppers. To gourmet it up, you could add cooked chickpeas in place of nuts. If decadence is what you are in the mood for, add a spoonful butter or ghee (Indian clarified butter).

Method of preparation:

Chop the onions fine and coat a skillet with oil and heat on a medium flame. Add in a dash mustard, cumin seeds and a handful of chopped cashews or whole peanuts if you like. Once they splutter a little and the nuts roast, add in the curry leaves. Once an aroma develops, add the chopped onions and ginger, and let them cook till they brown slightly. While the onions cook, peel and chop the carrots and cut the tomatoes.

When the onions slightly brown, add in the carrots and stir. After a minute or so, add in the tomato pieces and peas. Let the vegetables cook till the tomatoes become soft and ooze some juice. Once this happens, add one and a quarter tablespoon of red chili powder, a pinch of turmeric and a tablespoon and a half of salt. Mix and add in the cooked bulgur. Stir and let it cook over a low flame. Add in the baby spinach leaves and coriander leaves (cilantro), mix and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the baby spinach leaves become tender, turn off the heat. Taste and adjust for salt and spice.

Serve hot with low-fat yogurt.

cilantro plantain fry

banana

Though plantains originated in India, it quickly spread to other tropical countries and is now sold in most fresh produce sections of the supermarkets. They look like green bananas but they may have darker or blackish skin. On the inside (once peeled), they are starchy and cream colored.

Plantain relatively has more calories weight for weight than that in the table bananas. 100 g plantain holds about 122 calories, while dessert banana has only 89 calories. Which is why it is important to watch out for the quantity you are consuming.

Health benefits of plantain:-

  1. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin A plays a vital role in the visual cycle, maintaining healthy mucus membranes, and enhancing skin complexion.
  2. They also provide adequate levels of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Magnesium is essential for bone strengthening and has a cardiac-protective role as well.
  3. They contain 2.3 g of dietary fiber per 100 g.
  4. Fresh plantains have more potassium than bananas

 

Being a close relative of bananas, plantains too often can be a cause for skin and systemic allergic reactions in some sensitive individuals. Please watch out for these symptoms if you are eating plantain for the first time -“Oral allergy syndrome,” is a condition in which eating banana family foods may cause itching and swelling in the mouth or throat within hours.

This is a modification of a well know south Indian recipe.

Ingredients:-

3 plantains (washed, peeled and sliced)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 tablespoons lime juice

salt

cayenne powder (a pinch)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 cup chopped scallions or red onion

2 table spoons canola/sesame oil

4-5 curry leaves (optional)

2 green chilies

14 teaspoon turmeric (optional)

Method:-

In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat.

Add in the mustard, ginger and cumin. In a minute add the chopped green chilies and curry leaves and fry for 1 minute. Add in the plantain (raw banana). Sprinkle a few drops of water in the skillet and place a lid on it. Cook for 5 minutes.

Now, remove the lid, stir the raw banana and cook on low flame for 6-7 minutes.

Add salt, turmeric,  cayenne and cilantro. Cook on low heat for another 5 minutes while stirring.

Turn off the heat and add lime juice and stir.

Eat this wonderful plantain fry with brown rice or roti.