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Pomegranate, Carrot and Dill raita

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Dill known as ‘sabsige soppu’ in Kannada and ‘soa saag’ in Hindi, is a delicacy especially in Karnataka. It’s added to ‘dal’, upma, rice rotti’s and adds a distinct flavor. Pomegranates on the other hand are a good source of antioxidants, vitmain C, vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, manganese, potassium , phosphorus and fiber. 
The raita is a quick and simple accompaniment to a meal.

Ingredients for pomegranate raita:(Serves-4)

  • Yogurt(non-fat)-1 1/2 cup
  • Pomegranate seeds- 1/2 cup
  • Dill leaves- 2 tbsp (chopped)
  • Carrot: 1/2 grated
  • Salt-to taste
  • Red chilli powder- a pinch
  • Roasted cumin- a pinch(powdered)
  • Chaat masala- a pinch (optional)

Method:
1)Mix the dill leaves, pomegranate seeds, grated carrot, yogurt and salt together.
2)Chill for about an hour before serving.
3)Sprinkle the red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and chaat masala just before serving.


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Healthy snack ideas for kids

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Kids are picky eaters and not eating enough at meal times is a common complaint. That’s why snacks play an important role in providing the extra nutrition that they tend to miss out. Most parents tend to focus more on providing a nutritious meal and overlook the importance of giving healthy snacks. Chips, cookies, cheese puffs, cupcakes are convenient snacks but not the healthiest choices. Here are some healthy snack ideas for kids:

  • Sandwiches (with 100% whole wheat breads)-you can use cheese, tofu, nut/peanut butter, guacamole, paneer, egg, vegetables or even fruit and cream cheese as the filling.
  • Seasonal fresh fruits-cut them up in fun shapes/ sizes(use a melon scooper/cookie cutter), mix them in low-fat yogurt, make smoothies or plain fruit salads.Fruit and cheese kebabs are also a fancy way of serving fruits that kids will love.
  • Fresh vegetables: cut them into strips and serve with dips like guacamole, hummus, peanut/almond butter.
  • Boiled/Grilled corn: makes a tasty snack when served hot.
  • Smoothie popsicles: You can pour their favourite smoothie into popsicle moulds and give that as a treat on a hot day.
  • Baked fries: cut up some carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beetroot into sticks or wedges. Toss them in a little oil, salt and seasoning and bake them to make a tasty snack. Here’s the recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Steamed snacks: like idli’s/vegetable stuffed idlis, dhoklas, khandvi’s can be cut/decorated into fun shapes.
  • Mini- rolls/burritos: whole wheat chapathis/rotis can be used to make rolls with egg/paneer/tofu burji(scrambled), rajma/ channa, mung(pulses/lentils) curry/usal or cheese spread.
  • Tikkis/cutlets can be made with paneer/chicken/egg/lentils, mixed vegetables, and shallow fried or baked . These can also be served inside a pita bread or sandwich.
  • Mini/triangle/cone dosas/uttapams: these fun size/baby dosas can be more interesting for kids than the regular adult size ones. Serve them with chutney/ketchup/peanut butter (you can even draw a smiley face on the dosa with it)!
  •  Nuts and dry-fruits: older children can be given a handful of mixed nuts and dry fruits.

These snacks can be served with either a glass of milk/almond milk or some lassi/buttermilk.
Make sure to serve these snacks at least two hours before meal times, otherwise they may not be hungry enough for it.


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Chicken and Vegtable Biryani ( a one pot meal)

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In my quest to cook ‘healthy food’ comes this version of Chicken biryani which is also loaded with vegetables! Biryani is something every Indian is familiar with and is usually something made on festivals,special occasions or when you have guests/friends over. Whether it’s a ‘Vegetable Biryani’,Chicken Biryani or Mutton Biryani, most families have their own secret recipes.
Usually, a chicken/mutton biryani is made without vegetables, but here is my attempt at combining the vegetable biryani with the chicken biryani to ensure my family gets it’s daily dose of vegetables even on special occasions !
Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • Basmati rice: 1 1/2 cups (rinse and soak in water for at least half an hour)
  • Chicken: 250gms (use chicken with the bones)
  • Onions: 2-3 big red onions/5 medium onions (sliced fine)
  • Tomatoes: 2 big (chopped)
  • Ginger paste: 2 tsp
  • Garlic paste: 2 tsp
  • Mixed Vegetables: 1 cup (peas, carrots, beans, capsicum/bell pepper and such)
  • Yogurt/curd: 1 cup
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 5 tbsp(finely chopped)
  • Mint leaves: 3 tbsp(finely chopped)
  • Green chillies: 5-6 slit(use less/more according to your taste)
  • Red chilli powder: 3-4 tsp(add less/more according to your taste)
  • Coriander powder: 2tsp
  • Cumin/Jeera powder: 1tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: 3-4 tsp (adjust according to taste)
  • Oil: 2 tbsp

Whole Spices:

  •  Bay leaves: 1-2nos.
  • Cumin seeds: 2 tsp
  • Cloves: 3-4 nos.
  • Cardamom/Elaichi: 2-3nos.
  • Peppercorns: 4-5nos.
  • Cinnamon stick: 1″
  • Star anise: 1-2

Method:

  1. Marinate the chicken in a paste made with 1/2 cup yogurt, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, half of the ginger+garlic paste, half of the chopped cilantro and mint leaves and set aside for at least an hour in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a kadai or thick bottomed pan, add the whole spices and let it fry for a minute.
  3. Add the sliced onions and fry till it turns golden brown (add a little salt to let the onions cook in it’s own water)
  4. Add the remaining ginger+garlic paste, the slit green chillies and the chopped cilantro and mint leaves and fry for another minute.
  5. Drain out the water from the basmati rice and add it along with the mixed vegetables and stir for 5-6 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes,salt and the remaining yogurt and stir till the tomatoes are cooked.
  7. Add the marinated chicken and stir for a 5 minutes.
  8. Then add about 4 cups of water, cover and cook (with occasional stirring) till the rice is cooked.
  9. Serve hot with a mixed vegetable raita.

Healthy tip:

  • Since I use less oil while cooking(which also drastically reduces the calories in the cooked recipe), I add salt while frying the onions to let it sweat and prevent it from burning.

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Strawberry Raita

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Strawberries make a great low-calorie treat. They are loaded with nutrients and can protect your heart as well as guard against cancer as they are packed with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.

Try this delicious fruit raita that your kids will love eating with roti’s or with pulav’s or biryanis.

Ingredients for  Strawberry raita:

  • Strawberries: 1 cup chopped (mash a few)
  • Yogurt:  2 cups
  • Water: 1/2 cup
  • Chaat masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Roasted cumin powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili powder: a pinch (optional)
  • Pine nuts: 2 tbsp (or melon seeds)
  • Mint leaves/cilantro- a few (for garnish)
  • Honey: 1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and serve with mint/ cilantro leaves as garnish.
  2. Chill before serving.

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Fish Molee with vegetables (Kerala Style Fish Curry)

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A traditional Kerala Fish curry with a nutritional twist- vegetables! This twist is the result of my lack of time (or some may say laziness) in making a separate vegetable dish to go along with this. But I must say it tasted great and got everyone eating the extra vegetables! It’s winter, so I added some frozen winter vegetables to it.

The original Meen (Fish) Molee doesn’t have extra vegetables added to it-so you could omit it if you want the authentic dish. For those looking for  one dish with protein+veg, this is ideal.

Ingredients for Fish molee with vegetables:

  • Fish fillets- 500gms (cut and marinate in 1 tsp pepper powder, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp turmeric, salt)
  • Carrot, Green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach- 1 cup frozen/fresh (omit if you want to make authentic molee)
  • Onion – 3 medium (sliced)
  • Ginger:  1 tbsp crushed/grated
  • Garlic: 1 tbsp crushed
  • Green Chilies: 2-3 slit (or as per heat tolerance)
  • Cloves – 4
  • Cinnamon – 1 medium stick
  • Tomato – 3-4 medium (chopped)
  • Coconut milk – 1 can
  • Water- 2 cups
  • Salt- to taste
  • Oil – 3 tsp
  • Curry leaves- 10-20 numbers

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a kadai, add the cloves, cinnamon stick, grated ginger and garlic and sliced onions.
  2. In the meanwhile, shallow fry the fish in a little oil. Keep aside.
  3. When the onions have turned translucent add the coconut milk and a cup of water.
  4. Stir for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and another cup of water.
  5. When the tomatoes are cooked, add the curry leaves, fried fish pieces, salt and let it come to a boil (add more water if it’s too thick)
  6. Do not stir too much or the fish will break.
  7. Serve with appam, rice, neer dosa or plain dosa

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8 Commonly Heard Myths about Exercising

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There are a number of myths associated with exercising. Here are some of the commonly heard myths still doing the rounds in India:

Myth 1: I don’t want to start exercising as I’ve heard that I will put on more weight when I quit!!
This is obviously someone who is looking for reasons not to exercise! When you exercise you burn fat which brings about weight loss. Moreover people also tend to be more conscious of their diet since they are putting in so much effort to exercise. When you quit, you also tend to get back to your old eating habits. This increase in calorie intake and no means of burning those calories will ultimately make the weight creep back.
Solution:  Don’t Quit!! Exercise is not a short-term means to achieve your goal of weight-loss. Make it a daily routine and it’ll help in maintaining the weight you lost (along with a host of other health benefits).

Myth 2: Women should not train with weights otherwise they may end up looking like bodybuilders.
Both men and women can benefit with a little strength/weight training. Weight training has shown to help make your bones stronger and can also help in shedding weight faster by maintaining muscle mass and reducing the percentage of body fat. As for the fear many women have of becoming bulky-relax! Women don’t have enough testosterone (the hormone needed for building muscles) like men to end up looking like bodybuilders!
Solution: Work out with less weights at least once or twice a week.

Myth 3: Don’t drink water during your workouts.
This is a myth that I’ve heard ONLY in India. It probably originated in gyms where the trainers had to show instant weight loss after a workout! Water should be an essential part of your workout routine. You lose a lot of water from the body in the form of sweat and water helps in hydrating your body. Watch any sport and you’ll see players(cricketers, tennis players, basketball players, gymnasts and such) grabbing a bottle of water whenever they can to avoid cramps due to dehydration!
Solution: Try to sip a 1 liter bottle of water  during your workout.

Myth 4: Crunches will help get rid of belly fat.
Spot reduction is a myth. You need to reduce the overall fat in the body to see some difference in the belly fat. Crunches can help in tightening/toning the abdominal muscles, but it cannot convert the belly fat into muscle.
Solution: A balanced diet and a regular exercise routine will help you over a period of time.

Myth 5: Don’t workout during your periods.
Sounds more like an excuse to get 3-4 days off from exercising! Unless you have severe cramping/pain, working out during your menses can actually help in reducing the discomfort.
Solution: Try doing lower intensity workouts like walking or yoga on those days.

Myth 6: I’m not overweight,so I don’t need to exercise!
Exercise has many health benefits out of which weight-loss is just one of them. Lack of physical exercise can increase the risk of obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, strokes later on in life.
Solution: Exercise should be as important to you as brushing your teeth. Even low intensity workouts like walking 2-3 times a week will help you in the long run.

Myth 7: You need to workout in a gym to see the desired results.
Any kind of exercise/physical activity whether done in a gym, in a park,on the beach or in your house is enough to see results.
Solution: Aim at exercising at least 4-5 times a week for 30mins-1 hour.

Myth 8: I don’t have time to exercise!
I don’t have time either-I make time!! Just remember someone busier than you is exercising right now!!
Solution: Take inspiration from the President of the United States who is known to exercise regularly!


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Palak Paneer- Creamy, Healthy version (Cottage cheese in Spinach gravy)

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Here’s a healthy version of Creamy Palak Paneer:
Ingredients for Palak Paneer (low calorie version):

  • Palak: 4 big cups or 250 gms
  • Tomatoes: 2 big
  • Garlic: 4nos.
  • Ginger: 1″piece
  • Green chilies: 2-3 (or according to taste)
  • Paneer: 250gms (cut into cubes)
  • Skim milk: 1 1/2 cups
  • Cumin seeds: 1tsp
  • Hing(asafoetida): a pinch
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2tsp (or 1 tsp curry powder)
  • Coriander powder: 2tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1-2 tsp
  • Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 3tsp
Method:
  1. Puree the tomato along with the garlic and ginger.
  2. Bring some water to boil and then blanch the palak leaves for 3-5 minutes. Take out the leaves and puree when cool.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds, when they start to brown add the hing.
  4. Then add the tomato puree, garam masala, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric/curry powder and stir fry till you see the oil separating out.
  5. Then add the palak puree and mix well.
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes stirring in between.Add salt to taste.
  7. Lower the flame and add in the milk . Mix well and then cover and cook for about 5mins.
  8. Add the paneer pieces and mix. Cover and cook for another 5-6 minutes while stirring gently in between.
Serve the creamy palak paneer with phulkas or plain rice and dal.

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Neer Dosa (Lacy Rice Crepes- A Mangalorean delicacy)

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Neer Dosa (neer=water and dosa=crepe) is a no-ferment dosa which is a specialty of Manglorean cuisine. The name “Neer Dosa”is derived from the fact that the batter is almost of the consistency of water which is unlike other dosa batters. The resulting thin lace-like dosas (nick-named “lace dosas” by an aunt of mine) is eaten with relish in all Manglorean homes.
Made from rice, the rice grains are soaked in water for about 2 hours, then ground to a fine thin(water-like) batter. Once the batter is ready it is poured onto a hot round iron griddle(most Manglorean houses have a separate griddle kept aside for neer dosas). The sizzle on the pan creates the craters or lace-like appearance.

Ingredients for Neer Dosa: Makes 15-20 dosas
Rice: 2 cups
Water: enough to make a thin (water-like) batter
Oil: 1tbsp
Salt: to taste

(Note: you can also add some freshly grated coconut if you want when grinding)

Method:
1)Soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours.
2)Grind to a fine,thin consistency.Add a little salt and mix well.
3)Heat the iron griddle till it’s really,really hot.
4)Spread a little oil. Usually an onion is cut into half and dipped into the oil and used as a brush to spread the oil (this is believed to make the pan non-stick).
5)Pour a ladle full of batter into the center of the griddle and let it spread by itself (do not spread)on the griddle (add extra if needed where required to make a perfect circular dosa).
6)Cover and let it cook (do not flip the dosa over)
7)When done, remove the neer dosa gently with a spatula.
8)Serve the with neer dosa with chutney, honey or kori gussi (chicken curry).

How to make Neer Dosa


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Idli Upma with vegetables (Leftover Idli Recipes)

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Left -over idlis?  Tired of eating idlis the next day? Try out something different-Idli Upma and make it healthier by adding some mixed veggies.

This recipe was suggested by my college friend, the ever gorgeous Vidya Suresh. Thank you Vidya!! Love you for all the encouragement-that’s what friends are for. Love you 🙂

Ingredients for Idli Upma (Serves 4):

  • Idlis: 10-12 (crumbled)
  • Onions: 2 small (chopped fine)
  • Tomatoes: 2-3 medium (chopped)
  • Green Chilies: 1-2 slit (or as per heat tolerance)
  • Ginger: 1″ piece (grated)
  • Mixed vegetables: 1 cup (green peas, green beans, carrot,etc)
  • Coriander leaves/cilantro: 2tbsp (chopped) for garnish
  • Oil: 3 tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Urad dal: 1/2 tsp
  • Peanuts/ cashew nut: a few (optional)
  • Curry leaves: 8-10
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a kadai, add the mustard seeds and urad dal, when the mustard starts to pop, add the turmeric leaves, curry leaves, peanutsslit green chilies, ginger and onions and stir till the onions become translucent.
  2. Add the salt, mixed vegetables and stir fry for 5-10 mins.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir fry till they are cooked (add a little water if necessary)
  4. Once the vegetables are cooked add the crumbled idli and mix well.
  5. Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro and a dash of lime (optional). This can be served as such or with some chutney or sprinkle it with some peanut chutney powder .

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Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken (Kerala Style)

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This is a dry chicken dish which requires LOTS of CURRY LEAVES!! You can even make it with drumettes / chicken wings.
Ingredients: 

  • Chicken- 500 gms (cut into small pieces)
  • Red chilli powder- 3-4tsp
  • Coriander powder-4 tsp
  • Turmeric-1/2 tsp
  • Salt-to taste

Curry Leaf Chicken

Boil the chicken in the above ingredients adding a little water. Let the water evaporate. Keep the pieces aside.

Ingredients for the Stir-fry:
  • Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
  • Onion- 1 medium (mince)
  • Garlic-4-5 cloves (finely chopped)
  • Green chillies-3-4nos. slit
  • Red chilli powder: 2-3 tsp (depending on your spice level)
  • Coriander Powder: 3tsp
  • Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice-1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves-20-25 nos.
  • Oil- 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Curry Leaf Chicken

Method:

  1. Heat the  oil ,add mustard seeds.
  2. When it pops and half the curry leaves, then add the onion,garlic and chillies and fry till translucent.
  3. Add all the powders and salt. Mix well.
  4. Add the chicken and mix till the masala coats all the pieces. Switch off.
  5. Check the salt.
  6. Add the rest of the curry leaves on top (lots), mix.
  7. Add lemon juice/tamarind water. Mix, cover and keep.
Serve the Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken hot as an appetizer or with plain rice and dal.
Curry Leaf Chicken
Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken (Kerala Style)