Thursday, June 22, 2017

Very Berry Smoothie; Vegan; Meatless Monday!

It finally feels like summer here!! Well actually too much summer!! It is officially not summer yet!!😩😩 It was so hot all weekend long!! I couldn't bear it! All I did was drink fluids all weekend long. I didn't feel like eating anything due to the heat. 

I made this mixed berry smoothie using the berries I had in my refrigerator. This is the season for berries and I have atleast 2-3 kinds on hand all the time. The kids love yo munch on berries and I use them in my oatmeal. For the smoothie I used some overripe strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. I added a whole banana to give the smoothie thickness and sweetness. Just to be extra sure, I threw in a tablespoon of honey. I am aware that smoothies are made with milk but I blended the whole thing with water. You could use coconut water to give additional sweetness or to substitute for honey. You could strain it if you wish. I didn't strain it! The kids and hubby loved it! I am sure I will make this all summer long! It is a great way to get people who don't eat fruits to eat fruits! My son couldn't keep his hands off!

Servings: makes four 8 oz glasses 

Prep time: 5 minsCook time: 0 mins Total time: 5 mins 

Ingredients : 

Strawberries: 1 cup,hulled, washed and drained. 
Blueberries: 1 cup, hulled, washed and drained. 
Raspberries: 1 cup, hulled, washed and drained. 
Banana: 1, large
Honey/Agave : 1 tbsp
Water: 2 cups ( can add more depending on desired thickness)
Ice: 1+ 1 cup


Add all the above ingredients except 1 cup ice, to a blender. Pulse and blend for 1 minute.

Divide 1 cup ice between 4 cups. Pour the smoothie until desired level. Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

Serve chilled!

Enjoy!! I am sharing this with my dear friends at Angie's Fiesta Friday#177Your cohosts this week are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Cooking made easy: 

If you cannot be bothered with washing and cleaning the berries, you can use frozen berries. They usually come in a mixed bag and are perfect for smoothies! All you have to do is throw them in a blender! 

You can add soy/almond/coconut milk if you are vegan and regular milk if you are not. It makes for a great filling breakfast substitute. 

Tip for healthy living: 

Always wash berries just before using them. Soak them for 5 mins in cold water with a few drops of vinegar in it. This apparently helps clean most impurities. Then drain on paper towels.

Food for thought :

Fear is the mother of foresight. Thomas Hardy

Friday, June 9, 2017

Spicy Karela ( Bitter gourd cooked with spices)

Most people shy away from Karela (bitter gourd or bitter melon in English). I for some reason love it. Every time I go get my groceries, if I see bitter gourd I will surely buy it. May be because I am aware of the immense health benefits and  the nutritional value of bitter gourd, especially for diabetics. People don't like it because of it's bitterness. I am of the opinion that either they have eaten a bitter gourd dish that has not been cooked properly. If a bitter gourd is cooked in the correct manner, there is little to no bitterness in the dish. Check my fried bitter gourd and the Masala Karela recipes.

Today I am bringing to you another of my favorite, easy to make bitter gourd recipes that does not leave the Karela tasting bitter! This recipe was shared by my sister.  I have modified it to make it tastier and more convenient.  Do try it.. You may like it!! 

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 15-20 minsTotal time: 35-40 mins


Bitter gourd/ Karela: 2 medium sized
Turmeric powder/ haldi: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Water: 4 cups
Tamarind pulp: 1/2 tsp
Jaggery/brown sugar: 1 tsp
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Garlic : 4-6 cloves, chopped 
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Freshly grated coconut: 2 tbsp


Chop the Karela either in circles or in pieces. Take this in a bowl. 
Add turmeric powder, salt and keep aside for atleast 15 mins. I usually leave it overnight like that in the fridge ( for convenience). 

After 15 mins ( or whenever you are ready to cook it), squeeze the Karela a fistful at a time and keep aside. Do this with all the available bitter gourd. Discard the remaining water. 

Take this squeezed bitter gourd in a sauce pan or pot. 
Add 4 cups water, jaggery and tamarind pulp. 
Bring this to a boil, reduce the flame and cook it until the Karela is just tender. Turn off the flame and let it cool down slightly.  
When it has cooled down enough to handle it, drain the water completely. Discard the water. Keep the cooked Karela aside. 

In a sauté pan or frying pan, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil.
Add the mustard seeds. 
Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and chopped garlic. Sauté for few seconds until the garlic is fragrant. 
Add the red chilli powder. Sauté for 10 seconds.
Now add the cooked Karela, freshly grated coconut and if needed a pinch of salt( I usually don't add salt as we already added it earlier during marination). Mix and let it all come together for 2 mins. Turn off the flame.

Serve hot. 

Goes well with rice and dal, yogurt rice or roti.

I am bringing this to my dear friend Angie's Fiesta Friday#175. I bet they have not heard of this dish. Her cohosts this week are Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Suzanne @ A Pug in the Kitchen. Both are very talented bloggers.


Cooking made easy: 

The key to ensuring that Karela is not bitter is either to marinate it with salt and turmeric powder, squeeze it out and discard the water or to boil it in water, squeeze and remove and discard the water. 

Tip for healthy living:

Since time immemorial, bitter gourd had known for its health benefits in diabetics. The most significant being the insulin like properties of it's juice which is used in diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Research however has shown inconclusive results. Karela is also used as a blood purifier. It is supposedly helpful in people with toxemia, and helps boost the immune system. There have been also other claims like its use in people with gout, piles etc, but there has been no scientific evidence to support it.


Food for thought: 

Fortitude is the guard and support of other virtues. John Locke

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

4- ingredient Buckwheat Pancakes with vegan option; Meatless Monday.

Pancakes are fun for kids and adults alike. But there are many who follow a gluten free diet due their intolerance to gluten. Buckwheat flour is a great alternative to regular flour. It is of course darker in color and may not appeal to all but it is definitely healthier and has a different kind of nutty flavor. For all those who are vegetarian and don't eat eggs, you can totally skip the eggs and make the pancake. The use of buttermilk helps leaven the butter and make the pancakes fluffier.

Those who are vegan can use almond or soy milk and still make the pancakes. The only difference is that it won't be very fluffy.

I also make it healthier by using honey instead of sugar. You can use maple syrup too. Sugar alternatives like agave can also be used.

Servings: makes 5-6 medium sized pancakes.

Prep time: 10 minsCook time: 15 minsTotal time: 25 mins


Buckwheat flour: 1 cup
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Honey: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Buttermilk: 3/4 cup ( Vegans can use plant-based milk like almond milk/ soy milk)
Butter/ coconut oil : as needed to grease the pan. ( Vegans may use coconut oil)


Add buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt to a bowl. Mix well.

Add honey. Stir.

Now slowly add the buttermilk little by little, mixing the batter in between. Stir gently until all the batter is nicely mixed. The batter might be thicker than usual. It is ok.
Do not overmix!

Heat the griddle/pan.
Add 1/2 tsp of butter/oil to the pan.

Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan. Using a ladle, gently spread it in circular motions. Don't spread it thin.

Let it cook on low flame for 2 mins. You will see bubbling on top. Try to release the edges of the pancake from the pan. If it releases easily, flip the pancake.

Cook from the other side for 1 more minute.

Remove from the griddle and place it on a serving plate.

Top it with bananas,  berries, chocolate chip or nuts. Pour maple syrup/honey or regular syrup on top.


I am bringing this to my dear friend Angie's Fiesta Friday#175. Her cohosts this week are Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Suzanne @ A Pug in the Kitchen

Cooking made easy:

While making pancakes, it is best to spread the batter thick. Also cook the pancakes keeping the gas flame low or else the bottom of the pancake will get burnt.

Tip for healthy living:

Buckwheat is a great alternative for people with gluten intolerance. It can be easily substituted for flour and it has a high nutritional value.

Food for thought:

Unless we remember, we cannot understand. E.M.Forster

Friday, June 2, 2017

Vaangibaath ( Eggplant Rice/ Brinjal Rice)

The other day my friend and I were out running errands and we felt like going to a South Indian Restaurant. While the North Indian restaurants are ubiquitous, South Indian are harder to come by. I don't know exactly why.. However I think the western world relates Indian cuisine mainly to flatbreads ( rotis, paratha, naan), chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, aloo gobhi and chole than to the South Indian cuisine of dosas and idlis. Dosas are nothing but pancakes and crepes while idlis are steamed rice-lentil cakes both of which form the mainstay of South Indian Cuisine.Anyways, we happened to go to Dosa Hut ( translates as pancake hut) to eat some nice and crispy masala dosa. 

While we were done, my friend ordered some Vaangibaath "to go" for her hubby and her for dinner. She doesn't know how to make it and was craving it. Her ordering Vaangibaath made me crave it too.. I realized I had not made Vaangibaath in a long time. I decided to make it. Vaangibaath or Vangibath is nothing but Eggplant Rice. "Vaangi"
means "eggplant"or "Brinjal" and "Baath" is rice. Basically it is rice and eggplant cooked together with flavorful spices to make it something like a pulao( pilaf). It is quite simple and easy to make. I had some chimes eggplant in my fridge and I made it for lunch the next day. It is usually served with some chutney or raita ( yogurt based salad). My husband and I both relished it.

You get Vangibath powder in the store. I don't like to keep a whole bunch of pre-mixed spice mixes in my pantry if I am only going to make the dish sporadically. I keep a bunch of basic spices and mix it when I want a specific mix. For Vangibath I use sambar powder and add a couple of other spices to it. I use sambar powder to make my bisibelebath too. Here is my quick version of Vaangibaath.

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 15 minsCook time: 20 minsTotal time: 35 mins


White rice ( Basmati or any long grain rice is preferred): 2 cups
Water: 4 cups
Onion: 2 medium, chopped lengthwise
Cashew halves: 1-2 tbsp ( optional)
Eggplant, long variety ( Chinese eggplant): 3-4 medium-sized.
Oil: 2 tbsp ( I used coconut oil; any cooking oil can be used).
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch piece
Cardamom:4 pods
Bay leaf: 1 small
Sambar powder: 2-3 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Jaggery or sugar: 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp  for garnish ( 1 tbsp)


Wash and soak basmati rice in water for atleast 30 mins. Drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a sauté pan or pressure pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add curry leaves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom. If adding cashew halves, add them now. Sauté for 15-20 seconds.

Add the sliced eggplants. Sauté for 3-4 mins until the eggplant slightly wilts. Now add the sambar powder. Mix well. Add the washed and drained rice. Add 4 cups water, salt, jaggery and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame to low.

Cover and cook for 15 mins.

When done, fluff the rice using a serving spoon.
Garnish with freshly grated coconut and/or coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita/cucumber-tomato slices and/or chutney of any kind.

Enjoy!   I can't wait to bring this to Angie's Fiesta Friday#174! I am sure this will be something new to everybody!

Cooking made easy:

If using a pressure cooker, don't use weight or whistle.
If it is convenient for you, you can use the Vaangibath mix that is readily available in stores.

Tip for healthy living:

Cooking with minimal oil reduces the overall calorie and fat content of the meal. A rule of thumb is that any dish that uses water for cooking, does not require much oil to cook.

Food for thought:

He who angers you conquers you. Elizabeth Kenny

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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