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 hubby...lol.  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!! 

Ingredients:
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
Directions:
  • Blend all the ingredients in a powerful blender except ice cubes.
  • Pour into serving glass and add ice cubes and enjoy.


Notes:
  • 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.




Ingredients:

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


Directions:

  • 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.

Ingredients:
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

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


Directions:

  • 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.

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