Healthier Cookie for a Stealthier You

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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.

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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!

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!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

They are bright, they are bold and they are… beautiful!

We all the know that sweet potato is lighter on the palate and sweeter but it’s also healthier as illustrated by this Cleaveland Clinic info graphic:


So yeah, when you pick fries, go for sweet potatoes and remember, while frying gives a crispier and quicker result, baking is awesome too – it takes way less oil and allows for a depth of flavour that can only come from relative slow cooking.

Here’s how you can bake sweet potato fries:

sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato fries
Preheat the oven to either 450 F or 350 F. Dice a large sweet potato into fry-shaped strips of desired thickness. Toss in a tablespoon of olive or canola oil. Season with salt and spice ( pepper or cayenne powder and garlic if desired). Bake for 22 mins on 450 and for 40 mins if on 350. Flip the fries midway through the bake. Season with herbs and Parmesan if desired.

sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato fries

Simply Delish: Mango Orange Smoothie

smoothie, mango orange smoothie
This delicious smoothie is a fruit-lover’s delight. All you have to do is cut up two mangoes, juice two large oranges, transfer the fruits to a blender and blend with four cubes of ice.

In a minute or so, you got yourself a killer smoothie that is enough for three to four servings.

Why oranges are awesome:

The fruit is low in calories but is rich in dietary fiber.

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful natural antioxidant.

Oranges also contain vitamin A, and other flavonoid antioxidants.

It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamine, pyridoxine, and folates.

Orange fruit contains a significant amount of minerals like potassium and calcium.

Why mangoes are awesome:

Mango is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds.

Mango fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin A and flavonoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.

Fresh mango is a good source of potassium. 100 g of the fruit provides 156 mg of potassium and just 2 mg of sodium.

The fruit is a good source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin C and vitamin E.

It also has moderate amounts of copper.

Primary source for the nutritional details: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com

Pack a punch with this delicious home-made granola

Bittman's  granola, granola
I use this recipe for granola from time to time and have never been disappointed. It’s deliciously crunchy, it’s healthy, has the perfect amount and kind of fat and is a life saver on days when the the crave hits and we really want to behave. It’s also the perfect pre-workout food and is super amenable to adaptations.

Of course its origins can be traced back to superstar food writer Mark Bittman. I take the basic recipe and add my flair to it. Some zest and some herbs and it comes alive in a whole new way!

Here’s the recipe for the oh-so-delicious goodness:

For eight cups, you will need:

6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)

2 cups mixed nuts and seeds: a combination of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, etc.

1 cup shredded coconut (optional) 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

Dash salt

1 /2 to 1 cup honey or maple syrup, or to taste

1 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit

A handful of  banana chips (optional)

I teaspoon of orange zest (optional – instead of coconut)

Chopped cilantro / parsley (optional – instead of coconut)

Method of preparation:

Heat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, the coconut if you’re using it or zest and herbs, cinnamon, salt, and sweetener. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.

Remove the pan from the oven and add the raisins or chopped dried fruit. Cool on a rack, stirring once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely.

Two creamy vegan soups: Corn Cashew Chowder & Green Bean Almond

 It’s still cold in these parts of the world and sometimes  a creamy soup is exactly what you need to lift your spirits. And of course if it’s healthy and vegan, that’s a huge bonus to us conscientious eaters. Here’s presenting two simple nut and veggie based soups that had have a very very good chance of knocking your socks off:

1. Green Bean and Almond Soup

  

It’s hearty, it’s delicious and it’s resplendent in verdant notes. This recipe is adapted from one published by Paris’ Rose Bakery in the book Breakfast Lunch Tea.

To serve six, you will need:

4 tablespoons extra virgin oil

2 onions, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1 pound 2 ounces or 500 g of green beans, trimmed

( this comes up to about three large handfuls)

1 litre vegetable stock or water

100 grams ground almonds

Method of Preparation:

Heat oil in a saucepan and cook the onions, celery, carrots and garlic over a very low heat till the veggies soften and begin to turn golden. Add in the salt, pepper and sugar. Then the green beans and stir for five minutes. Pour in the water and cook with a lid 30 mins till the veggies soften. Add in the ground almonds and stir. 

Stir well, turn off the heat and let it cool down. Then, blend into a fine soup. Adjust consistency using water, if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

2.  Corn and Cashew Chowder

 corn chowder, corn cashew soup 

This is another one of those quick-cook beauties that reminds you that simple can be gorgeous. It’s hearty, has layered notes when it comes to taste and is a smash hit with kids and adults alike.

To serve four, you will need:

 4 large ears of corn, lightly cooked and reduced to kernels

2 cups water

1/2 cup raw cashews

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small garlic clove

Up to 2 teaspoons of salt

Crushed pepper to taste

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method of Preparation:

In a blender, combine 2 1/4 cups of lightly cooked corn with water, cashews, olive oil, garlic and salt and puree until smooth. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the remaining corn kernels, the cilantro and a sprinkle of pepper. Serve.


Easy Lunch Box: Quinoa Salad with a Mexican Flair

 quinoa salad, veggie  quinoa salad, mexican quinoa salad 
Quinoa, packed with protein and loaded with fibre, is one the more popular superfoods of the day. Anyone who has eaten quinoa is almost always thankful that this delicious grain, which comes in red and white, is good for you :)!

Today, I made this oil-free light yet filling quinoa salad that looked as good as it tasted. And when I ate it for lunch this afternoon, it kept me full till the evening. It’s super easy to make so here goes the recipe (for two meal-sized servings) —

Cook quinoa in water as per the instructions on the packet. I cooked one cup of raw quinoa. Then, chop half a large onion, two medium-sized tomatoes and a generous handful of coriander leaves aka cilantro. Cook two corn cobs in the microwave or grill. Shave the corn kernels and mix them with chopped vegetables and 200 g of cooked black beans. Season with salt, lemon juice and five finely chopped small green chilies. Add quinoa to the vegetable mix, a little at a time. Stop when you have the desired ratio of quinoa to veggies. Mix and adjust the seasoning. Serve the quinoa salad cold.

Needless to say, you could add peppers, cucumbers, avocado, sliced radishes or anything else you wish to the quinoa salad.

Besan or chickpea flour pancake – a vegan omelette

What is Besan?

Besan, commonly known as gram flour or chickpea flour, is often used in Indian cooking for batters and as a thickening agent in soups and curries.

Rich in protein, low in calories and robust on flavour, it forms the perfect body for a vegan pancake / omelette. Popular in the north of Indian as besan cheela, this dish makes a fantastic addition to a vegan or  heart-healthy diet.

To make 6  medium-sized pancakes, you will need,

3/4 cup besan

1 1/4 cup water

Salt

Pinch of red chilli powder 

A pinch of coriander powder (optional)

A pinch of chaat masala (optional)

A handful of chopped veggies ( onion, tomato, bell peppers)

A few leaves of coriander / cilantro, chopped

A pinch of caraway seeds (ajwain) or cumin seeds.

Canola or vegetable oil

Method of preparation:

1. Buy besan / chickpea flour at any Indian or South Asian grocery store. Measure the besan. Add it into a bowl. Whisk in the water till a smooth batter forms.

  1. Chop the veggies. Add them in along with the salt, red chilli powder, caraway seeds / cumin seeds and herbs. At this stage add coriander powder and / or chaat powder and / or green chilies if you like. besan  pancake, chickpea pancake 

2. Mix into a uniform and slightly frothy batter. besan pancake, chickpea flour  pancake 

3. Heat a skillet. Coat with a thin film of oil. Make the pancake over medium to high heat. Flip midway to ensure that both sides cool well.

Serve stand alone with yogurt or chutney.

 besan pancake, chickpea flour  pancake 
Or use as wrap: 

 besan pancake, chickpea flour  pancake 
 

Spicy Chickpea Sweet Potato Hash Topped off with a Fried Egg

 brunch,eggs,indian,masala,sweetpotato,Mini Kolluri,chickpeas,curry,sunny side 

Being a savory brunch kinda girl, I  have often leaned on bacon, sausage and pulled pork to rescue me from depression, hangovers over just plain old hunger. So, while a salad may qualify as a perfect vegetarian brunch option for many an evolved being, I need something more robust to take the place of the piggy!

And, at least six times out of ten, my go-to bold flavor is Indian. As a wink to the countless hashes I have had all over North America and to the spices of my childhood, I present this spicy curried chickpea sweet potato hash. To feed two people,

You will need:

One large sweet potato

3/4 cup of cooked chickpeas

One pod of garlic, chopped

A few slices of onion

A generous handful of baby spinach (optional)

Half a small tomato (chopped)

A handful of chopped coriander leaves aka cilantro

A teaspoon of chili powder

3/4 teaspoon of cumin powder

3/4 teaspoon of coriander powder

salt to taste

Two eggs

Two -three tablespoons of oil

Lemon juice – one tablespoon or so

Method of preparation:

Place a skillet on a burner, pour in the oil and heat. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into cubes. Stir fry them in the hot oil. Feel free to use a lid to aid quick cooking. While the sweet potatoes cook and become crisp, add in the garlic and onion slices. Stir once in a while. Once these veggies get done, add in the spinach, tomato and the chickpeas. Change the sweet potato-chickpea ratio if you like. Season with salt, cumin and coriander powders and lime / lemon. Add in half the chili powder, mix and taste. Add more chili powder to achieve the desired level of heat.

Heat an omelette pan. Add in a tablespoon of oil. Crack two eggs and fry them.

Serve the hash warm with a nice bright egg on top!