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Archive for the category “Healthy”

Cranberry Lemonade

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In an effort to create a juice that can be had first thing in the morning and that does the job of improving metabolism, I came up with this lemonade recipe. It went surprisingly good with additions of the cranberries and orange juice. This cranberry lemonade provides all the necessary components that helps in cleansing and eliminating toxins from the body to aid metabolism and increase the performance.

Cranberry, orange and lemon are high in fiber, essential vitamins and minerals and important antioxidants. Black salt has numerous health benefits, it is considered as a cooling spice and digestive aid in Ayurveda. Such combination of fruit juices aide in elimination of toxins from liver and keep the organ in good health. The honey helped bring the tartness down a bit to make it sweeter, too. Quick to make, this lovely drink, with its appealing fresh fruit flavor, is not too sweet or too tart and feels refreshing and nourishing.

The fresh zing of the lemon that hits in the nose is so refreshing. I sometimes serve this beverage at gatherings, it is a wonderful alternative to cold juices that have all those “-ose” like sucrose, fructose add-ins.

Cranberries are not found ingeniously in India, but available as dried or frozen berries and as ‘cranberry drinks/juices/crushes’ in most grocery stores. But since there are no hard-and-fast rules for labeling these products, it can be difficult to know which to choose.

So, when life offers you lemon, ask for cranberry and make this cranberry lemonade. You’ll be ready for a fresh start in no time.

Recipe :- For two servings.

Ingredients:-

Cranberry, dried – 3 tbsp
Honey – 2 tbsp (or as per taste)
Lemon juice, fresh – 2 tbsp
Orange juice, fresh – 1/4 cup
Black salt – 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon – 1/8 tsp (optional)
Water – 1.5 cups

Method:-

1. Soak dried cranberries in 4 tbsp water for 3-4 hrs. Grind them very finely.
2. Stir lemon juice, orange juice, cranberry, honey and black salt together with a spoon.
3. Strain the lemonade if you like, sprinkle cinnamon on top, stir and serve.

Notes:-

1. Skip the soaking step if you’re using frozen or fresh cranberries and adjust the amount of honey accordingly.

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Butter Spinach (Makhani Palak) Stir-fry Spinach

Stir Fry Spinach

Stir-fry is music to ears. Vegetables/greens cooked with flavorful ingredients and sautéed in butter with a zing of lemon adds dimension to the meal. They’re a healthy side dish which goes with almost anything.

Spinach are an absolute powerhouse of nutrients, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These nutrients become even more concentrated and better assimilated when spinach is cooked with butter/oil/ghee. It reminds me of the character Popeye, he eats his spinach fresh and raw straight from the bag, but this recipe sure would make him proud. The freshness of lemons add such a bright note and also reduce the spinach’s bitterness big time. A moderate amount of sugar elevates the taste and red chilli flakes adds little heat to the spinach.

The body absorbs more of the iron in the spinach if complimented with foods containing vitamin C such as lemon, fruits or tomatoes. Keeping this in mind, I thought of lemon as nice compliment to the spinach in this recipe. Spinach is high in oxalate so people with kidney or gallbladder problems may be wise to limit or avoid it. The healthiest way of cooking spinach is to boil them in water for 1 min. (blanching) and allow them to leach oxalic acids in the water. Oxalic acids interfere with the absorption of calcium and other nutrients in the body. This also brings out the sweeter taste of spinach.

Ingredients:-

Spinach, chopped – 1/2 kg
Butter/Ghee – 3 tbsp
Garlic, finely crushed – 6-8 cloves
Dried crushed chillies (chilli flakes) – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Lime juice – 1.5 tbsp (or as desired)
Salt – to taste

Method:-

1. Bring plenty of water to a rapid boil, add spinach and boil for 1 min. Drain and immediately pour cold water over the spinach to stop further cooking.
2. Add butter/ghee, garlic and chilli flakes in a large pan, swirling so that the butter comes about halfway up the sides of the pan. Let them sizzle for sometime. Adding garlic and chillies when the butter is cold helps them to infuse better.
3. Mix in the spinach and sugar, sauté at high flame for a few mins. or until all the water from spinach dries up. Keep stirring the greens to prevent burning. Mine took about 6 mins. to do it.
4. Add salt, continue cooking at medium flame for 2-3 mins. Mix in lemon juice and serve hot.

Tips:-

1. After boiling spinach, discard the drained water or do not use it for soups or gravies.
2. Do not cover the pan while cooking as it helps to release more of the oxalic acids with the rising steam.
3. Using a pinch of baking soda with spinach while cooking retains the bright green color of spinach.
4. Large pan is great for stir-fries, because of the large surface area, they prevent vegetables to pile on top of each other and thus fry them evenly instead of steaming up.

Creamy Curd Rice (Dahi Chawal)

Curd Rice“I’m preparing lunch for us. I know you like carrots a lot. See how fresh and bright they are? I mash yours up. I’ll do that until you get some teeth to chew them up. When you eat carrots, you smile. That’s how I know you like them.”
“See, I came back, I needed that time to get a few things done, now I can be with you again.”
I love having such running conversations with Vid everyday in my home. This has just become our rhythm of talking. Once a relative of mine observed that I talk to Vid as I would like to a friend, rather than ‘baby-talks’. I talk, Vid babbles and I again respond.

When my baby was born, I instinctively knew that this bond is most sacred with unconditional love. As a parent the most important thing I and my husband K could do was to provide security, health, creating a safer and nurturing world for him to live in. I realize that most of the commitments were inspired by something that I myself had experienced or learned from family, memories, friends and from my own life. I trust this will help us grow and co-evolve together.

Vid has become more interactive, speak few simple words and soaking up the environment around him. I replayed the challenges I had in the first year – the sleepless and exhaustive nights, the struggles to adjust new ways, but yet fulfilling, I knew this was the most precious journey in my lifetime that I loved more than anything else, and I’ll cherish it at every turn.

Here I share a recipe for Curd Rice, popularly known as ‘Mosaranna’ in South and ‘Dahi-chawal’ in North. Made with the subtly spiced curd mixed with rice and well seasoned, it creates a rich and zesty combination. I had the good fortune of eating it as “prasada’ (blessed food) in Shiva Temple in Chennai. When I started giving Vid solids, I often fed him curd rice with simple preparations – adding curd to the boiled rice and seasoned with ghee and cumin seeds. Sometimes I would add mango or banana puree to make it sweet. Now I like to make it with more elaborated method. This is my husband K’s one of the favorite rice dishes that I often make in home.

Any rice can be used in making Curd-rice, I like to use half the quantity of brown rice and half the white rice. Brown rice loads up with the goodness of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and what not. Loaded with tangy flavors of curd, pomegranates and spices, the subtle flavor of asafoetida makes the entire dish awesome.

Ingredients:-

Rice, boiled – 3 cups
Curd – 2 cups (for vegan version, use any non-dairy curd)
Salt – To taste
Sugar – 1/2 tbsp(if desired)
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Asafoetida(Hing) – 1/8 tsp
Split Black Gram Dal (Urad dal) – 2 tsp
Green chillies, chopped – 2 nos.
Ginger, grated – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Pomegranate seeds – 1/4 cup or as desired
Coriander leaves – For garnishing

Method:-

1. Mash the rice and add curd, salt and sugar (if using) and mix well. At this point, if the curd is too sour, add milk to adjust the sourness. Milk helps to reduce the tartness of the curd.
2. Soak split black gram dal in little water for 1 min and then drain.
3. Heat ghee in a pan, splutter mustard seeds, asafoetida and split black gram dal. Sauté till the dal turns light brown.
4. Now add green chilli and ginger, cook on low for a few seconds.
5. Place curry leaves on top of the rice-curd mix and pour the seasoning over it. Cover the bowl for the flavors to infuse.
6. Mix pomegranate seeds and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve at room temperature with simple chutney or pickle or any vegetable side dish as accompaniment.

Tips:-

1. For interesting variations, try different veggies with the rice each time like grated carrots, cucumbers, peas or fruits like grapes, pineapple, mangoes or raisins with cashews roasted in ghee. But just don’t go overboard with them. I like to make this either veggie-combo or fruit-combo.
2. If the curd is not sour as required, keep it out of the fridge for 1 hr.
3. The boiled rice should be cool before adding the curd.

Sending some over to ‘Healthy Vegan Fridays’.

On a cold and frosty morning… Wholesome Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

With all his laughing and giggling, Vid put his hands up while this rhyme is recited. It’s delightful watching him tapping on the rhythm of rhymes.

With the days getting shorter and winter looming here, a warm and nourishing bowl of soup is a great way to drive away the winter chills. Minestrone soup is jam-packed full of veggies goodness and with all those fibers and proteins from the beans it comprises a quite filling and nourishing dish.

Vegetables

Traditionally, Minestrone soup is a thick bean-based soup and is made with varieties of vegetables with the addition of pasta or rice. I decided to use up red double beans for the soup as it was sitting on my shelf for long threatening me to turn rancid. Earthy beans, the generous addition of  fresh herbs imparts a hearty and satisfying depth of flavor to the soup.

Red Beans

It’s a breeze to make as all the stock is added in one go and you don’t need to hovering around the stove. The colors of vegetables made the soup looking attractive and scrumptious. Vid loved the soup but kept the baby corn aside. It felt nice to see him trying to figure out the colors and taste of different vegetables.

You can stock up on produces which are in the season and make most of their nutrition by varying the choices all through the year.

Ingredients:-

Dried beans -1/3 cup, 80 gm
Thyme – 2 sprigs
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Garlic – 3-4 cloves
Shallots/pearl onions –  8-10 nos.
Green beans, chopped – 1/3 cup or 50 gm
Carrots, chopped – 1/3 cup or 50 gm
Turnips, chopped – 1/4 cup or 40 gm
Cabbage, shredded – 1/3 cup or 60 gm
Babycorn, chopped – 1/3 cup or 50 gm
Celery, chopped – 1/4 cup or 15 gm
Tomatoes, crushed – 1 med.
Oregano, dried – 1/4 tsp
Basil fresh, chopped – 2 tbsp
Black pepper, freshly ground – To taste
Salt (I used sea salt) – To taste
Pasta – 1/4 cup (if desired)

Method :-

1. Soak dried beans in enough water and little vinegar(see notes 2) for 6-8 hrs. or overnight.
2. Drain and discard water from the beans. Now cook beans with 1 cup water, thyme and little salt in a pressure pan till 3 whistles. Let the pan cool.
3. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and shallots. Cook till golden brown.
4. Add in green beans, babycorn, carrots, turnips, cabbage and celery. Stir for a few mins. and add 3 cups water. Let it come to boil. In the meantime, take out beans, thyme and water from the pressure pan and purée.
5. After the soup comes to boil, add in the beans purée and mix well. At this point, add water according to the consistency you like. Cook for 10-15 mins. on low-medium flame stirring occasionally or till the vegetables are tender.
6. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper powder and let the soup simmer further for 5 mins. on low.
7. Mix pasta in the soup and let it simmer till the pasta is cooked.
8. Switch off the flame, garnish with basil and serve with warm toasted wholewheat bread as an accompaniment.

Notes :-

1. Any dried beans like kidney beans, white beans, lima, etc. can be preferred.
2. While soaking beans, I use vinegar with the water as it reduces the phytic acid content of beans thereby making it more digestible, nutrient-dense and easier for assimilation. In place of vinegar, you can also use yoghurt, whey or lime juice.
3. For the added sourness, you can add vinegar. Adjust the seasonings for the balanced sweet, sour and spicy flavor.
4. I don’t reserve veg. stock/broth nor use veg. cube as I prefer them fresh. But if desired and you have it on-hand , you can use them in place of water.
5. For another version, blend the soup swiftly after the step 6, then add pasta and place the pan back on the stove till pasta is cooked.

Sending some over to Vanesther’s Event the round ups can be found here and Healthy Vegan Fridays

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