Monday, September 28, 2015

Apple Beet Carrot Detox Smoothie

When I reached home after work, there was a surprise box sitting at our front door delivered by UPS.  I knew that it was something my hubby would have ordered.  Kids were excited, but they knew that it was not their XBOX game.  And I knew that it was not anything for me.  So we called him at work and as soon as he heard from us that a box arrived he was thrilled.  He told us not to open it and it was something for him and instructed us to keep it on the kitchen counter.  He told me that he was getting some detox item online, and my notion was it was some kind of powder and so never expected a big box.  Later when he reached home, we gathered around the huge box just like kids gathering around a birthday cake.  He opened the box carefully.  To test our patience there was a silver box inside.  Our eyes opened even wider due to the eagerness.  Finally the ceremony of box opening happened and we saw the 18 ice cold frozen juice boxes plopping out of the insulated cover.  Their packing was excellent that the juice remained frozen.  He organized everything on the kitchen counter showing us like an expert and explaining that the set of 6 bottles were going to be the meal for each day and he was doing the detox diet for next 3 days.  I was more eager to read the labels and the ingredients.  As soon as I did my job of reading, I declared 'Oh I could have made all these for you!!’  He agreed that we could try next time.  We were so eager each time he opened each bottle.  Kids never came to his vicinity when it was the turn of green juices.  I was like a baby opening the mouth for coke to try a sip what he was having.  Tender coconut juice was the best out of the whole set.  We ignored his complaints that it was his meal.  On top of our meal, we all got a sip of the tender coconut juice with the flesh leaving less juice for my poor  Anyways that was the inspiration for this post.  The earthy taste of beets is balanced by the lemon juice and ginger.

 Juicing fresh vegetables and fruits helps to keep the enzymes, antioxidants and other nutrients intact.  Our body can absorb the nutrients quickly, so it helps in detoxing the body with raw juices.  The beets carrots juice is supposed to detox your liver and gallbladder.  Raw juices have the tendency to get oxidized quickly especially when we have fruits like apples added to it.  To prevent the oxidation lemon juice is added.  But I would recommend drinking the juice/smoothie as soon as it is prepared.  Also remember that fresh juice is not a complete meal unless you are balancing the diet with a protein.  This detox juice is high in sugar due to the kind of vegetables/fruits used in it.  This detox juice is rich in Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin C and A.  There is no cholesterol in this juice and it is very low in saturated fat.  People with the kidney stone history should limit the consumption of beets.  Also make sure to  hydrate yourself with lot of water after taking this smoothie, otherwise you might fret by the discoloration of urine due to the pigmentation caused by beets.   Hope you will try this detox smoothie!! 

1/3 cup - peeled and cubed beets
2 - juicy sweet apples peeled and cubed
1/2 inch - ginger piece
2 - medium size carrots peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp. - lemon juice
2 cups - cold water
ice cubes
  • Blend all the ingredients in a powerful blender except ice cubes.
  • Pour into serving glass and add ice cubes and enjoy.

  • You can strain it through a strainer if you prefer a juice, but we enjoyed with the fiber which was not even evident in the liquid, as it was blended well like a smoothie.
  • Two apples were good enough to sweeten the detox juice, so there was no need for honey or any sweetner. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Plantain Fudge/Ethakka Halwa

Ethnic vegetables/fruits are not readily available where we live, but veggies like plantain are making their way to regular grocery stores now days.  I love to buy them and stock them up in my pantry to ripe.  Once they are ripe, I steam them for breakfast or pan fry them with some Coconut Palm sugar and a bit of butter.  Since my kids love them, I have a tendency to buy them often and keep them in brown bag to ripe.  As a normal Mom, I have my share of forgetting things and it sometimes results with a bag of over ripe plantains.  When you have a bunch of plantain sitting in the kitchen counter with dark skin, it doesn't seem to be appealing to the kids or even to me.  My conscience is always hesitant to waste food, so I had to use my noodle to come up with some recipe that could use up the over ripe plantains.  Hence this easy minimal ingredients recipe originated.  My hubby gave thumbs up and I had made it few times since my first trial.  I think it’s about time to share this quick and easy recipe for Plantain Fudge / Ethakka Halwa.  Hope you will try it soon!   

Here are some health benefits of plantains:
  • They are a reliable source of starch and energy. 
  • They contain adequate amount of dietary fiber.
  • Fresh plantains have more vitamin C and Vitamin A than regular bananas.  Vitamin A plays a vital role in the visual cycle, maintaining healthy mucus membranes, and enhancing skin complexion.
  • They are rich sources of B-complex vitamins, especially vitamin – B6, which is a vitamin used for treating neuritis, anemia and coronary artery disease.
  • They also provide adequate levels of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.
  • Fresh Plantains contain more Potassium than regular bananas which helps to control heart rate, blood pressure and countering negative effects of sodium.


3 - overripe plantain
1/4 cup - grated jaggery
1/2 cup - water
1/3 cup - wheat flour
1/4 tsp - cardamom powder
10 - cashew nuts
3 tbsp. - ghee/butter


  • Steam the plantain in a steamer for 15 - 20 minutes till the plantain gets nice yellow color.  Keep it aside to cool.
  • While plantain is steaming take a non stick pan and dry roast the wheat flour for 5-6 minutes on low to medium heat till a nutty aroma comes.  Turn off the flame and let the wheat flour cool down.
  • Meantime melt the jaggery in 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Strain to remove any impurities and keep the syrup aside.
  • Remove the skin of the steamed plantain and mash it with a spoon or a potato masher.
  • Heat a non stick pan with 1 tbsp of ghee.  Fry the cashews till light golden brown.  Using a spoon remove the cashews into a bowl.  Add the mashed plantain into the pan.  Keep stirring for 5 minutes till it gets light brown on the sides.  Lower the flame to the minimum, add the jaggery syrup and wheat flour.  Its time to do some serious stirring to make sure that no lumps of wheat flour is formed and everything is mixed together.  Add 2 tbsp. of ghee and stir continuously till the mix is sticky and gets brown color.  This will take somewhere between 10-15 minutes.  Add the cardamom powder and half of the fried cashew nuts, mix well and turn off the flame.
  • Transfer the Halwa to a square or rectangle container greased with ghee/butter.  Level to top using a spoon.  Arrange the left over cashews on the top of the Halwa and push it down to stick.  Leave it outside to cool.  Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 - 4 hours.
  • Slice them into pieces and enjoy.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Spicy Pan Roasted Eggplant And Potatoes/Aloo Bhangain Masala

A lavish meal sometimes leaves a small prickling pain inside me thinking if you need that entire extravaganza just for a meal?  I make lavish meals only on special occasions or parties.  My normal cooking plan includes a meat, veggies and grains.  That is the reason why I use to get panic attacks when unexpected visitors show up during lunch time...LOL.  But blogging had made me tackle this situation to a great extent.  The short cut methods of preparing food in a jiffy are my resorts for these situations.  Keeping a batch of freshly ground ginger garlic paste and caramelized onion paste in the freezer gives me the ease to make curries in jiffy.  It’s almost a routine for me to make a small batch of these pastes every month.  Before winter starts I have to make a bigger batch of caramelized onion paste to save some time in the kitchen.  I like to plan the weekday dinner on the weekends, so that I can prepare either the base or get the ingredients ready to cook on the weekday.  I do this preparation for kids’ lunch box too, which makes my life easier every morning when everyone is busy. 

Here is a simple recipe for Spicy Roasted Potatoes with Eggplant/ Aloo Bhangain Masala that I make to serve with Rotis/Chapathi.  The spices used in this dish enhance the plain bland taste of eggplant and they can be served well with steamed Basmathi rice too.  I like the dry version of this curry rather than the gravy version.  In fact this dish is not very dry. It has a very thick paste like gravy that will keep the dish moist.  I usually use the long Asian egg plant for this dish because they cook faster and absorb the spices fast.  Hope you will try this recipe and let me know how it turns out for you.

3 - long Asian purple eggplants
5 - small potatoes 

Masala Ingredients
1 tbsp - ginger garlic paste/finely chopped ginger & garlic
1 - medium size onion finely chopped/ half a cup caramelized onion paste
2 - medium size tomatoes chopped
2 - green chili splits
2 tsp - cumin/jeera
1/4 tsp - fennel seeds (optional)
1 tsp - coriander powder
1/2 tsp - Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder (divided)
1/2 tsp - garam masala

5 tbsp - oil
salt to taste

1/4 cup - chopped Cilantro
1/2 tsp - dry fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi


  • Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes.  Keep them in a bowl of water to prevent oxidation.  Wash and pat dry the eggplants.  Cut them into 1 inch thick pieces and cut into half.  Each piece should look like semi circle.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wide mouth non stick pan.  Once the oil is hot add the eggplant pieces and 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder.  Sprinkle some salt to taste and cook on medium heat till the egg plant is cooked and becomes soft.  Stir in between and cover with a lid to help even cooking. Don't over cook them, they will lose their shape.  Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towel.  Now add 1 tbsp of oil to the same pan and add the potatoes.  The oil should have enough turmeric in it.  If not add 1/8 th tsp of turmeric powder.  Adjust the salt and cook the potatoes on medium heat with the pan covered with a lid.  Flip the piece in between to help even cooking.  Once the potatoes are cooked well and lightly browned, transfer them to a bowl.
  • Lower the flame and add 2 tbsp of oil.  Splutter cumin/jeera and fennel seeds (if using) in the hot oil. Add ginger garlic paste, chopped onions/ caramelized onions, green chili, salt and  turmeric powder and cook on medium heat by mixing well.  Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the coriander powder, chili powder, garam masala and cook them till the raw smell is gone.  Add the chopped tomatoes.  Close the lid and let it cook on low heat for 10 minutes or till tomatoes get mushy and the masala becomes a thick paste.  Add the roasted eggplant and potatoes to the masala.  Mix the vegetables, so that the masala/thick gravy gets on all the pieces.  Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.  Rub the dry fenugreek leaves/Methi leaves between your palms and add along with chopped Cilantro to the dish.  Cook for another minute and turn off the flame.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy it with some freshly made Roti/Chapathi/Indian flat bread.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eggless Coconut Cranberry Banana Bread

When life gives you bananas, what will you do?  Summer time is the time when I have overload of over ripe bananas in my kitchen.  Being a banana fan, my hubby never forgets to grab a bunch whenever he stops at the grocery store to buy anything.  When I do my weekly grocery shopping, I too make sure to grab his favorite fruit.  At times, we will end up with lots of bananas and if they don't finish within the anticipated time, we will have an overload of these overripe fruit.  But I always make sure that none of them gets wasted.  The overripe bananas are peeled and dumped into a ziplock bag and they go straight into the freezer.  I use them in smoothies, banana bread and Unniyappam (a Kerala tea time snack).  Just puree the frozen banana in the blender and you are good to use them in the batter of banana bread and Unniyappam.  

Here is the experimental banana bread I tried without eggs and they turned out to be very moist and delicious.  The addition of chewy coconut flakes and tangy dried cranberries complemented the egg-less banana bread.  This recipe is a keeper for lent period when it's a challenge to bake egg-less.


1 cup - all purpose flour
1 cup - whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp - baking powder
1/2 tsp. - baking soda
1/4 tsp - salt
3/4 cup - brown sugar
1 cup - mashed overripe banana
1 tsp. - pure vanilla extract
1 cup - sweetened coconut flakes/fresh grated coconut
1/2 cup - dried cranberries
3/4 cup - low fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup - low fat milk
4 tbsp. - oil

  • In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, mix the 3/4 cup plain yogurt with 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Add baking soda and baking powder to the yogurt and mix well.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350ยบF.
  • Meantime, sift the flours and keep it aside.  After 5 minutes, you will notice some bubbles in the yogurt mix.  Add milk, oil, mashed banana and vanilla to the yogurt mix and mix for 30 seconds.
  • Add the sifted flour mix and salt to the wet ingredients.  Fold in all the dry ingredients and mix for another 10 seconds.  Fold in the coconut and cranberries.
  • Pour into a greased loaf pan or parchment paper lined loaf pan and bake for 50 - 55 minutes or till the loaf is bulged on the top and a toothpick comes out clean when tested on the center of the loaf.
  • Keep the bread in a air tight container or wrap it with a aluminum foil and refrigerate.  Properly stored banana bread lasts for a week in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Berry Fruit Roll Ups

We used to visit Kerala once a year during our summer vacations when we were in North India.  Our stay will be with the grandparents and we get to see our cousins from Bombay.  It will be a fun filled vacation.  Our grandparent’s house was surrounded by fruit trees like Mango, Guava, Jack fruit etc. There was a Citrus tree in the corner of the front yard, which my grandma watered and raised from an orange seedling which survived a long time without bearing any fruit. There was a humongous sweet mango tree right in the front yard which was there from my grandpa's childhood.  There were 2 swings setup for the kids to play, one on the mango tree and the other on the guava tree, but everyone preferred to play on the swing tied to mango tree because it was strong and steady and will help you to swing high.  Being scared of heights, I always liked to hang around the guava tree swing.  Another personnel reason for me was that the mango tree bears tons of sweet mangos and when you start swinging hard, you might get knocked out by the falling mango :).  But nothing seemed to bother anyone.  Everyone waits patiently for their turns and occasionally parents had to separate the fighting ones from the scene.. lol.  When it rains in the monsoon, the mangoes will be at their peak season and you can literally see a mango rain from this tree which generous drops the ripe mangoes into the river pebble filled front yard.  After the rain subsides, the mangoes will be filled in baskets with burlap lining to remove moisture and the ripest ones will be handpicked by the adults to serve immediately.  The rest will be placed in the storage to ripe.  I don't remember us cutting any mangoes as they were in abundance and we used to bite into each and gobble some and threw the rest.  Those were some good old memories.  I regret now for the amount of the honey sweet mangoes I had wasted then.  Now it hard to find that kind of sweet mangoes here.  Few years ago when we visited our grandparent's house, now owned by my younger uncle, I saw the same tree standing there without much branches and it barely bears any fruits now.  It still brings the warm nostalgia to all those who grew up in that house.  The old mango tree is still in the front yard with lots of wild Vanda orchid growing as a parasite on them.  It’s not just an old mango tree, but by standing firm it reveals the lesson of good work and hard labor of our great grandparents who planted it and passed on the fruit of labor to be enjoyed by generation after another.

During one of our summer vacations we were introduced to the mango roll ups/leather that my grandma made.  The mango leather was made in bulk by sun drying the mango pulp.  The scorching sun and the availability of the honey sweet fruit were the best circumstances to create the delicious mango leather.  My grandma used to make this for her kids when they were young and she continued to make it for us too.  We were fortunate enough to enjoy the delicious treats she used to make for us during our visits.  And those irresistible tastes take me down the memory lane and made me try my hands on these berry roll ups.

2 cups - fresh blueberry and strawberry mix
4 tbsp. - sugar

  • Pre-heat oven to 200°F.
  • Puree the berry mix with sugar in a blender.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pour the berry puree on the baking sheet and spread it evenly using an offset spatula by leaving some space on the sides.  Place the baking sheet in the oven in the middle rack and let the puree dehydrate for 30 minutes.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 170°F and set the timer for 3 hrs.  After 3 hrs, take the baking sheet out of the oven.  The center of the fruit roll up will be still smooth.  Let the roll up cool for another hour.  You can peel off the fruit sheet from the parchment paper once it is cooled down.
  • Place the fruit sheet on a wax paper/parchment paper.  Cut them into long strips along with the parchment paper and roll them into fruit roll ups.  Secure them with a string and store them in air tight containers.