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Indian Diet Plan for Gestational Diabetes

I was at my OB/GYN’s office last week for my annual check up. This time I happened to take my little one along and my doctor and her medical assistant were so excited to see him grown up. Even my son was super excited and kept waving at them shouting “hi’ every now and then. She was seeing me after the weightloss and she assured that my healthy lifestyle might prevent me from diabetes in the future. She was curious to know what I did to get rid of 26 pounds. You can read about my weightloss journey here. I don’t think you could enjoy this drink during pregnancy. Read and save the recipe for post-pregancy weightloss journey.

Ayurvedic Drink

After the exam, we had a brief conversation about her new patients and that the practice is getting busy with new South Asian patients. That’s when we spoke about gestational diabetes (GD). She mentioned that despite the low body mass index (BMI), most women from India suffer from gestational diabetes. Yes I have seen that despite the low BMI, South Asians are more prone to diabetes and cardiovascular complications.
She wanted to connect them with me and my blog as most patients are not ready to accept the fact that they have GD and need to be on a strict menu plan. I can totally understand the mind set of pregnant women. Even I was in the same state – unaccepting, depressed and lost. Even my mom was not “OK” with it. She kept confusing me that if you avoid idly/dosa and rice, your baby will be thin and not healthy. She would also say that she ate so much rice and lot of food during pregnancy and me eating such measured quantities was  totally wrong as per her views. But the truth is that, whole grains, vegetables and nuts on a GD diet is going to make your child more healthy. I don’t blame the Indian mom as there is a lot of ignorance about their knowledge about pregnancy and GD. Also nobody is telling you to avoid carbs. Carbs are so key for your child’s brain development. If you deprive your child of carbs, there might be some adverse consequences. All you have to do during GD is to eat complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat rawa, barley, whole wheat flour, finger millet, lentils, legumes and lots of vegetables. To make you feel  better, I have shared my story here.

Salmon Quinoa

Even I went through a phase where I was lost on what to cook, how and when to eat. I literally lived on cucumber and celery with hummus. Once I got a hang of the whole GD lifestyle, I ate every 2-3 hours. I made batches of “sundals”, bought organic hummus from Costco or Trader’s Joe, nuts. We need to walk atleast 20 minutes after every meal. This can help to maintain blood sugar level at a constant level.Eating in a restaurant would be challenging during gestational diabetes (GD). We used to buy food from our local Indian restaurants on days I was tired or nauseated to cook for  myself.   Every time I had a meal my sugar level would shoot up to 175-180mG/mL. I think I dined just couple of times after those “spiked up” sugar levels. My husband and I would discuss about starting a restaurant or a food truck specializing in low glycemic foods. Anyone with GD, diabetes, heart problems or looking to  lose weight can dine happily without worrying about the calories, oil or sugar level. If you happened to dine for special occasion, I would recommend eating bowl of brown rice with steamed veggies and grilled tofu or chicken breast. In Indian restuarants, you could request for whole wheat rotis/chapati and channa masala or any lentil/beans curry made with no sugar and little oil. That’s what I did – my husband enjoyed plateful of delicious foods and I ate salad and steamed veggies.

Here are few ingredients I explored during my pregnancy:

1. Poha / Aval from red rice instead of white ones
2. Quinoa
3. Purple potatoes instead of white/red ones
4. Short grain brown rice from Costco
5. Adzuki and pinto beans (highly low glycemic in number)
6. Ragi / Finger millet
7. Red rice and Hand pound rice (kai thuthal arisi)
8. Wild rice and black rice ( I made salads with them)
9. Whole wheat rawa ( made upma with them)
10. Couscous ( again made salad with them)
11. Avocados
Today, I have decided to write this post summarizing the list of recipe everyone could try during GD.This list is also useful for those who are diabetic/ pre-diabetic or anyone who wants to lose  weight (low glycemic diet ideas – South beach diet).Unsweetened low fat yogurt plays a key role in keeping good bacteria in gut and female reproductive organs (cervix, uterus wall linings). They maintain an optimum pH and prevent the growth of bad bacteria. Hence I suggest including 1 cup of yogurt each day. You can eat it with pulka in the form of raita or you can just eat it as it is.


  1. Hummus served with celery or cucumber or Spicy hummus or Guacamole
  2. Roasted cauliflower
  3. Salmon quinoa patties ( replace Salmon with sweet potatoes or purple potatoes)
  4. Nuts (almonds, walnuts, soy nuts)
  5. Boiled  edamame (can be found at Costco, Whole foods, Savemart, Safeway, Trader’s Joe)
  6. Sundals with black eyed peas, green gram, channa dhaal, mooth beans, pinto beans, mung bean salad etc)
  7. Channa chaat / salad
  8. Thengai manga sundal (our good old Marina sundal) 
  9. Chickpea Vegetable Patties


  1. Whole grain idli with tons of moong dhaal sambhar
  2. Kadai vegetables with purple potatoes and serve it with pulka/chapati/roti
  3. Adzuki beans masala with brown rice or pulka
  4. Beans or asparagus parruppu usili
  5. Roasted vegetables with brown rice
  6. Home style dhaal , Kale Dhaal
  7. Channa masala
  8. Pinto beans masala
  9. Pala pinji poriyal / Baby jackfruit stir fry
  10. Mushroom masala / curry
  11. Red lentils dhaal with red chard, serve it with cucumber or avocado slices
  12. Adai with brown rice
  13. Aviyal
  14. Ragi idiyappam with vegetable or chicken kurma ( I wouldn’t recommend eating with sweetened coconut milk for GD women)
  15. Paruppu urundai moor kozhambhu
  16. Lemon quinoa (just like our lemon rice)
  17. Brown rice idli or dosa batter
  18. Roasted broccoli and cauliflower with my quinoa spice powder or idly mulagai podi
  19. Pesarattu with brown rice
  20. Kothuparotta with whole wheat tortilla
  21. Ragi sevai / savoury noodles 
  22. Paruppu urundai puli kozhambh 
  23. Salad Idli
  24. Rasam, Thogayal and Okra
  25. Murungai Keera Thengai Sadam



8. Chicken kara kari (super spicy chicken curry) – may be once in your pregnancy 🙂
10. Whole chicken roast ( if you have Thanksgiving around your pregnancy)


1. Ground turkey wrap with lettuce

Lamb / Mutton


Soups / Drink

2. Lemonade (savoury version – just lemon, salt and water)
3. Organic carrot juice from Costco (no added sugar)

Dessert (Very rare)

1. Fresh fruit juice popsicles (homemade and sugar less) with grapes and oranges
2. Avocado chocolate mousse with agave nectar or coconut palm sugar

50 + After School Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids

What will you find in this post?

  1. 50 + Healthy After School Snack Ideas for (working) mother
  2. 5 ingredients Rule which I follow during shopping
  3. Tips for working moms to plan well so kids eat the right snack at the right time
  4. Pdf copy of the list of snack in calendar format (7 days for 5 weeks chart)+ shopping list for each week

As a working mother, it is important to keep snacks ready when I pick my kids. They will be tired in the evening and they need some food right when we pick them. I can see that you are all nodding a yes. When I came to this country in 2009, I was so curious to try sugary or salty and processed snacks in the grocery store. Trust me, I have tasted almost each and every one of them. If you ask me if I will do that again. My reply is I wish I can live those days with a better food choice. The first obvious effect was on my health. I kept gaining weight and ended up with gestational diabetes. There is no direct evidence between the two but I personally felt that I would prevented it if I ate right in the years before getting pregnant. Anyways life is all about learning. Since then, I have made conscious effort to serve healthy food for my family. Purple Carrots_1 Couple of weeks back, I was invited to be a guest on Health Roots, a show in Bay Area Local Radio Channel (1170 am). I was asked to share my journey with gestational diabetes during both my pregnancies. You can read more about my story here. We spoke about the conscious lifestyle change I made as part of eating right. My kids will turn 5 and 2 years by end of this year. As a mother, I feel that I have the responsibility to give them the right food so their tender body is nourished with all the goodness.

50 + Snack Ideas Screenshot

Click on the image to download the 50+ snack ideas chart along with shopping list for 5 weeks

I am a huge supporter of local, seasonal food and a visit to farmer’s market is our weekly ritual. My son looks at each vegetable and fruit at the market and plans which one to pick. Ofcourse I help him along the way. I feel that with limited time in hand, it is important to come with a meal plan. That’s why I shared few of our weekly meal plans with you all. Please feel free to download it from the dropbox link below:

  1. Week 3 Menu Plan + Shopping List (highlights in red)
  2. Week 2 Menu Plan + Shopping List
  3. Week 1 Menu Plan + Shopping List

Strawberry_2 It’s summer time now. My son goes for swimming class, art projects in library and plays soccer in the park. I pick him around 5:30PM. Our dinner time is between 07:30-08:00 PM. Even if the school serves snacks at 3PM, every kid will be hungry when we pick them. My son comes to the car exhausted and tanned J. I try to carry his milk in his sippy cup to work. I store it in the fridge and I warm it a bit when I drive back home. So that’s the first snack he eats in the car. The moment we reach home I have to get the snacks ready within 15-30 minutes. Thankfully we are 5 minutes away from his school. I prefer to feed my kids homemade food on most days. I was taught “5 ingredients rule by a friend”. I mentioned it in the radio show as well. The rule is that when you take a look at the list of ingredients in store bought food product and you find more than 5 ingredients, then it shouldn’t be consumed. Ofcourse there should be exceptions.   Pub Snack Lemongrass Peanuts I want to share a conversation I had with my son few weeks back. I was playing puzzles with him at home and he began a new conversation with a question. Can you guess what I had for snack today? I smiled as I get excited when he asks questions. I asked him for a clue. He said it has only one ingredient. I gave him a expression that it was a tough question and I didn’t know the answer. He was so excited that I couldn’t guess. He folded is hand around his chest and said it was baby carrots. I felt on top of the world. It is an Eureka moment for me as it shows that we as a family are heading in the right direction of eating right  almost right. We follow the 5 ingredients rule on most food. My son knows that all fruits and vegetable are the best choice as it is made with only one ingredient. When grandparents were here there were arguments that I rationed my kids too much and that I am living in a bubble. I gave it a thought and yes as a mother I am learning, analyzing and reanalyzing the situation and trying to make a choice that I feel is good for the kids. I have realized that everything in moderation is good so I try to include dishes that are deep fried (use fresh oil everytime) and use puff pastry (buy the brand that uses real ingredients). Every one gets to eat 1 or 2 pieces and that’s it 🙂 Also, some mothers will like to feed the kids early dinner by 6:00 or 6:30 PM. I serve snacks around 5:30-6:00PM and our dinner time is 08:00 PM. So please free to find a schedule that works for you and your child. South Beach Diet Snack Soy Chunks Masala Coming today’s post, I have been asked about what I serve to my kids as snacks. I am not an expert in this – I think no one is or no one can be. As a mother, we learn everyday, each child is different and each family is different.  Like every awesome mother out there, I am doing the best I can to see what works best for my family. For instance, some kids might like chocolate drink or smoothies but my son hates it. Over the last couple of years, I have finally cracked the puzzle. I kind of know what my son eats on a regular basis. I created a list for my use and I wanted to share it with you all. I have made a list of 50+ snacks that I serve for my kids. You can use this as a template to build on the dishes your kid loves.

Vegetable Bread Rolls


  1. Sandwich with pesto and mushrooms:  One of the easiest snacks to make on a weekday evening is a sandwich. I always stock whole wheat bread and pesto from the store. Sometimes I make my own pesto with spinach or cilantro or basil. If you buy it from the store, please make sure to make the brand that has less number of ingredients and uses less sodium. For this sandwich, I use button mushroom. Heat oil, quickly sautee the chopped garlic for 20-30 seconds and add finely sliced mushroom. Cook in high heat for 5 minutes. Remove and mix with pesto. Layer the bread with pesto mix and mozrella or cream cheese and grill until lightly browned and crunchy. It takes 15-20 minutes to make this snack. You can also find recipe for spinach pesto-mushroom sandwich here.
  2. Peaches with Sour Cream and Pistachios: Around this time of the year, farmer’s market is flooded with stone fruits like plums, plouts, peaches, nectarines. You can use any of the seasonal fruit and top it with sour cream or mascarpone cheese and crushed roasted pistachios. My son loves it and I serve them little cold. It takes less than 5 minutes to make this.
  3. Celery with cottage cheese + dried cranberry: I had gestational diabetes during both my pregnancies so I try to eat healthy snacks all the time. Celery is one of my favorite vegetable that I always have in my fridge. I add them to soups and stir fries. In this snack, you can smear cottage cheese in to dips/pockets in celery and top it with dried cranberry. You can replace cranberry with raisins or dates. It takes less than 5 minutes to make this snack. Have you noticed that you secrete more saliva when you chew celery? This is because celery needs a lot of chewing. When more saliva is produced it will neutralize the acids (lowers the pH) in your mouth and it helps us by keeping our teeth and gums healthy.
  4. Roasted boiled plantains with ghee: I am from the Southern part of India where plantains, mangoes, coconuts and jackfruits are popular. The ingredient used in my cuisine is very similar to those you can find in Malay, Caribbean or other tropical islands. Ripe plantains are needed for this snack. Cut the plantains into half and gently remove it skin with a pairing knife. Cut them into thin roundels. Heat ghee or butter in a large saucepan and arrange the plantains next to each other. Cook on each side for 8 minutes or until its brown and crispy. Serve with Greek yogurt sprinkled with cardamom. It takes 30 minutes to make this snack. Recipe can be found here as well.
  5. Microwave kale chips: I buy 2 bunches of kale from farmer’s market every other week. I use one bunch to make kale chips and other bunch to make dahl or pilaf or coconut based curry. Recipe for kale chips here. It takes less than 10 minutes to put them together.
  6. Microwave popcorn with grated cheese: My son loves popcorn and anyone can make popcorn in a microwave. My son makes it by himself with little supervision from me or my husband. Add 1/3 or less corn kernels in a sandwich brown bags. Based on the heat setting in your microwave, you can start at 1 minutes to pop them. Once done, transfer to a bowl and drizzle coconut oil and cheese. This snack can be made in less than 5 minutes.
  7. Carrots with maple syrup: Another easy recipe that I love to serve. My son wears glasses as he has lazy eyes. We try to include carrots few times in a week. You can use baby carrots or regular carrots for it. Please make sure to rinse and clean them well. I try to buy organic / pesticide free varieties as we eat them raw. Serve it with maple syrup or ranch or any of your kid’s favorite dressing. Did you know that eating raw carrots helps to clean the teeth? This is because the increased chewing helps clean the gums. This snack takes absolutely no time to make. All we have to do it rinse and clean the carrots and serve it with maple syrup. I use all natural maple syrup and they are 100% natural sweetener that is in use for many centuries in North America. There are evidence that it is more nutritious and healthy than regular white sugar. There are purple carrots available in the markets as well.
  8. Sliced Banana, shredded coconut, raisins in yogurt: Our kids go for classes that requires a lot of physical effort to stay alert and active. We always keep banana at home. It provides instant energy and that is my go-to snack when I feel tired or low in sugar. I mix ripe bananas, fresh grated coconut, raisins in yogurt.
  9. Peaches with mint-almond pesto: This is yet another seasonal snack made with fresh peaches. Don’t use fruits that are sold in sugar syrups. Please use fresh fruits from the market. The recipe for pesto is here. This snack takes 10 minutes to make. You can also make the pesto over the weekend and use it for the pasta as well.
  10. Masala Puffed Rice: Southern part of India has rice based cuisine. Puffed rice is a popular ingredient used in Indian cooking for so many centuries. Recipe for puffed rice snack can be found here. I make a whole batch and store in airtight container. Since the puffed rice are sold in bulk, you can either share the packet with a friend or plan a chaat meal for few other times to finish them. They stay fresh for long time as it has low moisture content. I prefer to keep them for 1-2 months.
  11. Boiled mung bean sundal with coconut, curry leaves and spices: I grew up in a household where eating “sundals” is almost an everyday ritual. Among all the legumes/beans that are staple in Indian cuisine, mung bean is my top favorite. That is because it is a versatile legume that absorbs the flavors of spices and herbs really well. It turns mushy pretty fast and that makes it a super easy baby food too. Mung bean has soluble and insoluble fibers in it. I was interacting with my friend who is an Ayurvedic doctor from India and she mentioned that astringent taste of mung bean helps tone our digestive organs. A diet based on mung bean will help us cleanse our body. They are low in calorie and low glycemix index. Mung bean sundal is one of the most common snack I ate during gestational diabetes. There are so many benefits like aids in lowering cholesterol, blood sugar and is a mild diuretic. In this preparation, I soaked the mung dahl in water overnight. I pressure cooked it for 1 whistle. Gently remove the whistle to release the pressure. This is done to prevent it from getting over cooked. I like to see the whole beautiful beans in the sundal. I make a simple tadka with sesame oil, mustard seeds, dry red chillies, curry leaves and asafeotida. You can find detailed recipe here. This snack can be made in 30 minutes.
  12. Roasted chickpeas,nuts & jaggery mix: Pottukadalai trail mix is a common food that is offered to God during prayers. Store bought roasted chickpeas are mixed with grated jaggery and nuts. I serve this snack to my kids on some days as jaggery prevents constipation, cleanses liver and increases immunity. I sweeten my evening chai with jaggery. However, you should remember that jaggery contains more calories so use it cautiously on yourself. This snack takes less than 5 minutes to make
  13. Zucchini-Beets bites with mint chutney: Grate 1 zucchini and 1 small beets in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoon garam masala and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix in cooked brown rice or regular rice or quinoa and breadcrumbs to the vegetable mixture and add an egg. Roll them together into a dough. Make small patties. Shallow fry in oil. Serve hot.
  14. Idli bites with spice powder and buttermilk: I make the idli batter (recipe here) on Sunday. Being the typical South Indian, I need my idli, dosa and uthapam during the week. Mini idlies is very popular in my house. My kids love it. I either make them in the morning and make it fresh when we get home around 5;30 PM. It takes less than 5 minutes to pour the batter in to idli moulds and takes less than 15 minutes to cook. I serve it with idli podi and yogurt. I skip milk in this snack.
  15. Watermelon-feta cheese-basil salad: You can make this salad pretty quickly. Place watermelon chunks in a bowl, layer it with feta cheese and thinly sliced basil leaves. It is a refreshing salad that will be a big hit during get-togethers and parties. It takes 10 minutes to make this.
  16. Boiled black eyed peas with vegetables like grated green apple, green mango carrots and cucumber: This is similar to sundal I spoke about earlier. Mix boiled black eyes peas with grated green apple, green mango, carrots and cucumber. Season with South Indian tadka made by heating sesame oil and cooking the mustard seeds, dry red chillies, asafeotida, curry leaves and salt. Once the beans are cooked, it takes less than 10 minutes to assemble. I pressure cook the soaked beans to save time and gas.
  17. Cucumber with hummus: Easy cucumber wedges served with hummus. It takes less than 5 minutes to serve.
  18. Boiled peanuts with vegetables like grated green apple, carrots and cucumber: Raw peanuts are boiled and served with vegetables and South Indian tadka (refer steps in 16).
  19. Whole wheat roti or tortilla with banana and almond or peanut butter: Smear whole wheat roti or store bought whole wheat tortilla with almond or peanut butter and place sliced banana. Roll it into a wrap and serve. It takes less than 5 minutes to make.
  20. Grapes and Paneer skewers: I make fresh paneer. Grab my recipe to make homemade paneer here. I let my son assemble this snack. I give him a bowl of grapes and paneer cubes along with toothpicks or skewers. He would thread the grapes and paneer alternatively into the toothpick or skewers. It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble and serve. You can use babybel cheese as well.
  21. Vegetable Paniyaram: I make this quick snack with idli batter. Mix 1 cup of idli batter with thinly slices vegetables like cabbage, carrots and cauliflower. Cook them in paniyaram chatti / appe pan. Serve hot with idli podi. It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and about 20 minutes to get the first cooked batch.
  22. French toast with eggs and honey: Mix ¼ cup milk with 1 egg, teaspoon of honey, pinch of grated ginger, salt and pepper in a bowl. Dip bread in it and cook in a griddle until done, about 8 minutes on each side. This makes 2 toasts. My son loves it. It is our Sunday breakfast too. It takes less than 20 minutes to make and serve.
  23. Sandwich with cream cheese + cucumber: Smear laughing cow cream cheese over bread and layer with thinly sliced cucumber roundels. Cover with another slice of bread. Cut into squares or triangles and serve. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and serve.
  24. Celery with cream cheese and honey: Mix cream cheese with honey. Smear the cheese mixture into space in celery wedges. This is one of the quickest snack to eat after workout. You can skip honey and replace it with nuts. It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble and serve.
  25. Sandwich with mint chutney-cheese spread + pineapple: My kids love pineapple. I buy a fruit and use it for next few days. It will be in sandwich, salad or smoothie. Mix mint chutney (grind mint leaves, ½ red onion, 1 green chilly or less, dried pomegranate seeds, 1 teaspoon ginger to a smooth paste) with cream cheese. Smear the spread over the bread and layer with pineapple slices. Place another slice of bread on top of layered pineapple and cut into halves. Serve immediately. It takes less than 15 minutes to make.
  26. Paneer-Pineapple skewers: I make fresh paneer. Grab my recipe to make homemade paneer here. I let my son assemble this snack. I give him a bowl of pineapple cubes and paneer cubes along with toothpicks or skewers. He would thread the pineapple and paneer alternatively into the toothpick or skewers. It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble and serve.
  27. Small egg dosa: Beat one egg in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dosa batter over a hot griddle. Smear it with the back of the ladle to form a large circle. Pour egg on top of uncooked batter. Drizzle sesame oil around the edges of the dosa. Let it cook for 6-8 minutes on medium low flame. Release the edges and flip. Let the other side cook for 8 minutes. Serve hot with chutney or idli podi. I serve egg dosa for my kids with lentil powder (paruppu podi) and ghee. It takes 20 minutes to serve this.
  28. Zucchini paniyaram with besan/gram flour and chaat masala: You will all love this recipe for sure. All you have to do it grate the zucchini and add gram flour (besan), chaat masala or any spice mix like sambhar powder or pav bhaji masala and salt. Don’t add water as zucchini leaves a lot of water. It will turn into a batter by itself. Heat the appe pan/paniyaram chatti and cook on both sides for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot with mint chutney. My son eats it without any dip. It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and about 20 minutes to get the first cooked batch.
  29. Celery with paneer crumble & raisins: Mix paneer with raisins and stuff it into celery wedges. This can be made within 5 minutes
  30. Baked vegetable chips: Serve store bought dehydrated, baked vegetable chips
  31. Dhokla: This is similar to idli. The gram flour is steam cooked. It is one of the safest food to give toddlers. You can find my recipe here.
  32. Lemongrass Peanuts: 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, 2 tablespoon grated lemon grass, 1 tablespoon lime peel ( finely grated), 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and serve.
  33. Roasted Corn: I relate roasted corn as a snack that transports me to my home city, Madras. Roasted corn with lemon juice and spices. They are popularly sold in Marina Beach in Madras. I make this during BBQ and you can find the recipe here. I have also shared tips on how to pick the right corn. On weekdays, I make it for us in kitchen stove.
  34. Grilled Cauliflower: This is yet another snack that we love. Cauliflower is my favourite vegetable and I grill them like steak. This recipe is allowed in South Beach Diet Phase 1. You can find the recipe here. You can find purple, orange and yellow cauliflower too. Kids will love to see the colors on their plate. This snack takes 15 minutes to cook and serve.
  35. Ghee Roasted Pav: “Pav” bun toasted to perfection with homemade ghee (clarified butter). Serve warm with Nutella and berries!
  36. Apple wedges with all-natural almond or peanut butter: Apples are in season from Oct to Jan . I try to buy them when I see it in farmers market. This one of the easiest snack to serve as it involves just washing and slicing the apples. I serve it with almond or peanut butter. Did you know that apples are the nature’s toothbrush? The juice from the fruit strength the gums and prevents the buildup of plaque. Just like celery, carrots there will be more production of saliva as it involves a lot of chewing to eat the fruit.
  37. Boiled egg with any spice powder or just salt & pepper: Make a paste with spices like turmeric powder, curry leaves powder, coriander powder, salt & pepper, dash of ghee and water. Cut boiled eggs into half. Smear the paste with boiled eggs smeared with the spice paste. Roast in a cast iron pan with little oil. Serve hot. Once you have the boiled eggs, this snack can be made in less than 10 minutes. I generally boil the eggs along with rice in the morning. I use pressure cooker to make them. They are hard boiled as it goes through 4 whistles. Find my recipe here.
  38. Boiled Corn with ghee or butter: On days I am pressed for time, I use frozen corns to make this snack. You should microwave the frozen corn for 2 minutes on high. Check whether it is hot and well cooked. Add a spoon of ghee, salt and pepper. Serve immediately. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and serve. My son loves it.
  39. Soy Chunks Stir fry: Soak soy chunks (as much as you want) in hot water for 15 minutes. Remove the water by straining and gently squeeze out little water. Dont get rid of all the water. The water retained in the soy chunks is needed to cook and prevent it from burning. Heat oil, once hot throw in ginger-garlic paste, sriracha, turmeric powder and curry leaves powder. Sauté for a minute. Add soy chunks and cook it for 15 minutes on medium low flame. I used cast iron pan to cook this. Once cooked, serve hot. This snack takes less than 20 minutes to cook and serve.
  40. Roasted Moong Dhal: Haldiram sells moong dhal snack and you can find them in store but they are deep fried. I make a microwave version which uses less oil. This snack is a make ahead snack. You can find the recipe here. It takes less than 10 minutes to cook them in the microwave.
  41. Bhel Poori Salad: A quick snack to make with puffed rice, sev, cucumber, onions, carrots, tomatoes and mint chutney-date chutney. I make a quick cheat version of sweet-spicy chaat chutney. Grind together ½ cup mint leaves, ½ cup cilantro, ½ green chilly, 10 dates, 2 teaspoon tamarind pulp or fresh tamarind, chaat masala. Store the chutney in fridge. Assemble the ingredients for the salad and drizzle chutney as your kid’s liking. I also add yogurt to it.
  42. Vegetable Bhajji: This is a typical snack I make over the weekends as I will have the time to cook and enjoy the crunchy delight. I use vegetables like onions, eggplant, plantains and potato. The trick to make crunchy bhajji is to slice the vegetables thin and also make a perfect batter. I mix 1 cup besan / kadalai maavu/ gram flour, 1 cup rice flour, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, salt and asafetida with ½-3/4 cup water. The batter should be thick so it adheres to the vegetable so don’t add excess water. Dip the vegetable in the batter and deep fry it in super hot oil.
  43. Cashew-Vegetable Pakoda: Another weekend snack I make for my kids. Recipe can be found here at Spicy Tasty.
  44. Avocado Cheese Toast: Saturated fat, cholesterol and polysaturated fat are very key for growth of brain. The body can make them but two polyunsaturated fats must be obtained from diet. Human brain is made of Omega 3 Fatty Acids which will continue to build up in child’s brain until the age of 2. It is similar to how body needs calcium to grow bones. Hence I try to include egg, coconut oil, avocado or nuts everyday. This is an easy recipe for snack. You can find the recipe here.
  45. Poha-Nuts Trail Mix: This yet another make ahead snack in my home. This snack has no added fat. Alternately you can roast the poha (flattened rice) in couple of teaspoon ghee or butter. Grab the recipe here
  46. Peas-Paneer Tarts: I make these tarts on days I have frozen puff pastry at home. When I leave to work, I remove the puff pastry from freezer and place it in the fridge. In the next 8-10 hours, it will thaw by itself. I make quick sautee with veggies of my choice and make easy tarts with them. You can grab the recipe here.
  47. Paneer Pakoda: I make fresh paneer almost every week. I follow an easy method taught to me by my Punjabi cook aunty. You can find the tips and recipe here. Actually it carries no particular recipe and anyone can make paneer by that method. I make a batter similar to the one give in Snack 42. Dip the paneer cubes in batter and deep fry it.
  48. Deep fried poha delights: This is my childhood favorite snack and I recommend making it for your kids. Poha is deep fried in hot oil. Press them against kitchen tissue to remove any excess oil. In the same oil, deep fry raw cashews. Drain the excess oil using kitchen tissue. Mix deep fried poha, cashews with salt and pepper. Store in air tight container. It lasts for 2-3 days. Take ¼ cup of the fried mixture and add finely chopped carrots, onions, cucumber and raw green mangoes. Top with chopped cilantro.
  49. Fig Puff Pastry: Figs, plums, plouts, peaches, strawberry or any of your child’s favourite stone fruit or summer fruit or any jam can be used in this preparation. I use the most common cheese available at my home for making this and that is mozzarella. I feel that brie or goat cheese will be a great choice too. Please find the recipe here.
  50. Steamed crunchy broccoli with melted cheese: Steam the broccoli until crunchy about 5 minutes. Serve with ranch. The good thing about broccoli is that we don’t have to pick organic varieties. It is one of the vegetable that can be picked at your non-organic section of the supermarket. I always stock broccoli as its my son likes it. I make creamy cheese soup or stir fry or rice dish with it. Serve hot with cheddar or cream cheese warmed with milk in a microwave or gas stove.
  51. Dates + Goat Cheese: Stuff seedless dates with goat cheese and serve. It takes less about 2 minutes to put them together. Dates are rich in iron and I try to give it to my kids often.
  52. Strawberry with Whipped Cream: This is a quick snack my son loves. Serve strawberry with whipped cream
  53. Egg Puffs: Make a simple onion spice mixture by cooking onions (2 large onions) with oil and cumin seeds to make 4 puffs. Season with garam masala. While the onions are cooking, boil the eggs for 15 minutes. Once cooled, remove the shell and cut them in half. Place the onion mixture over puff pastry cut as squares. Gently place the egg with flat side touching the onion mixture. Fold the corners of the puff pastry towards the centre and seal with finger. I prefer to leave the eggs little visible. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. It takes 30 minutes to make and serve this dessert.
  54. Beets-Paneer Puffs: My son loves puffs so I create different stuffing to it. We eat one puff per person. That’s it. This is a super easy stuffing made by cooking grated beets with oil and cumin seeds. The beets are sautéed for 5 minutes. Once cooled, mix in equal portion of grated paneer. Follow the rest of the steps (refer Snack 52) to assemble. It takes
  55. Boiled ripe plaintains (Nentharam Pazham Mash): This recipe was taught to me by our neighbor in Madras. They are from Kerala and this is a popular baby/ toddler food. Ripe yellow plaintains from Indian or Mexico store is pressure cooked for 2 whistles. Once cooled, the skin is peeled and chopped into pieces. I mash them for my almost 2 year old daughter. My son eats the pieces. Drizzle ghee and sprinkle fresh coconut and sugar. It takes 20 minutes to serve this.
  56. Boiled Sweet Potatoes: Simple boiled sweet potatoes as snack. You can also find purple ones in the market. I serve them sliced.
  57. Boiled Edamame with soy sauce: You can buy cooked edamame from Costco. Just microwave it and serve with soy sauce. My son enjoys spending the time to open the pods. Read my post on edamame here.
  58. Puff Pastry Sticks: This is a make ahead snack. You can involve your kids to make it too.My son loves crunchy snacks like this. I mix puff pasty with toasted cumin seeds and nigella seeds. I roll them out to a large rectangle on lightly floured sheet. Cut them into strips. Spray oil or brush butter. Gently twist the sticks and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 400F for 12 minutes. Cool and serve.
  59. Cherry tomatoes-cheese-basil skewers: The cherry tomatoes that are tiny are the most sweet. I pick them at the farmers market. Thread cherry tomatoes with mozzarella cheese squares and basil leaf. Drizzle lemon juice and sprinkle salt & pepper. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and serve.
  60. Vegetable Bread Rolls: I make this snack with white bread as I felt rolling out was easier and it retained its shape. I could easily roll them to make the snack. You can definitely try to make it with multi grain or whole wheat breads. You can replace the filling with beets-paneer masala or paneer-bell pepper stir fry or shrimp/minced meat curry.

Ghee Toasted Pav Buns


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Salmon quinoa patties

I still remember that day. Bright sunny day in August. It was half past ten in the morning. The telephone rang and the call was from my OB/GYN’s office. I guessed the reason behind the call even before I picked up phone. I stayed motionless in my couch. The phone continued to ring and moments later the call went to voicemail and I heard what I didn’t want to hear.

“Hey V! This is the medical assistant from doctor’s office. We got your sugar test result today and I am sorry you failed the test. You have gestational diabetes”. That was the last thing I wanted to hear during my pregnancy. I was 24 weeks then and my husband was away on a four weeks business trip to Israel. I was shocked. depressed. scared. Tears rolled down my cheek and the silence in the room were broken by my loud cry.  I felt lonely. I called up my good friend from middle school and shared the news with her. She was reassuring and kind. But I wasn’t convinced. Since I was warned by the doctor from the the beginning of my pregnancy about this, I had been extra cautious and was praying to God each day to escape from this gestational diabetes struggle. I don’t know for some reason I really couldn’t take up the fact that I failed the blood test.

Couple of days later, I went to the doctor’s office for the monthly check up and they enrolled me on a program with a medical team (a dietician and a nurse) to counsel me about right eating. I was with them  until my delivery date. Gosh! That was the most depressing phase of my pregnancy. I couldn’t eat what I craved for. I was left to drink oatmeal (just 1/2 cup dry) with no milk as the first thing in the morning followed by tons of veggies and calculated portions of fruits or 8oz milk for mid morning snack, 1/2 cup cooked rice with tons of vegetable stir fries or soups or eggs or meat for lunch followed by some nuts for snack and similar menu for dinner and the day ends with 8oz milk for dessert. The morning fasting sugar level were always spiked up, so I was on little insulin too. Slowly days went by, I regained my usual self and came in touch with the reality. I became more composed and sensible over the days. I read a lot online and slowly I began to explore with whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, millet.

Quinoa (pronounced as keen-wah) was the first grain I laid my hands on and it is believed to be a holy grain. It looks like minute grains, smaller than rice and it has a hard exterior which is coated with saponins. They are bitter when cooked and needs to be removed before you cook. It is good to wash them thoroughly in running water. Once cooked, the seeds become soft, chewy and a cute spiral tail pops out. Quinoa is low in cholesterol and sodium and is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. It has good carbs too, since it’s a whole grain, they will break down into sugar much slower in your body and that way your blood sugar will not spike drastically. That’s the kind of foods one must be eating during gestational diabetes. “You need carbohydrates for your baby. Carbs help in their brain development” my dietician would keep insisting to me on every meeting. So please don’t skip your carb and remember to eat the right carb.

I went to a safeway store closeby and hunted for a quinoa packet in every aisle but couldn’t locate one. I reached out to a sales assistant for help. I asked ” Does safeway carry quinoa?” . He stared back at my pregnant tummy and wondered what this lady was saying. Most of the sales guy in that store didn’t even know that there existed a grain like that. I wasn’t ready for a no that day and I asked the manager to help me with the search. He just took couple of minutes to locate it and he said that they place quinoa in international food section. “What ever” was my reaction. I bought one red inca quinoa and reached back home to read more about its cooking options. The first thing I did was to taste it raw, it tasted muddy and gritty. I decided to cook it like how I would cook my rice.Tired to explore other options, I told to myself “Pressure cook it”. For dinner, I ate it with lentil curry (recipe here). It tasted different but definitely not exciting enough to satisfy the taste-craving, flavor-craving tongue of a pregnant women. I cried in the bed that night and went to sleep crying. And my husband was still in Israel.

Next day, I found few salad recipes with quinoa online. I ate that for a day and even that wasn’t what I was looking for and since I had terrible cravings for Indian foods, I recreated some of the recipes using quinoa and lentils or legumes with tons of vegetables or chicken. They turned out pretty delicious and I was hooked on exploring different dishes with it and my journey with whole grains continues even after my son was born. Even he eats quinoa once a while, he seems to love this patty which I made with salmon and quinoa. For the patties I toasted quinoa and I pulsed them in the processor to a coarse powder, that gave it a crunchy coating on the outside and the addition of cilantro, onions, ginger and garlic boasted the flavors further.

During the fancy food show at SFO, I met the most friendly mother-son duo team in one of the booth. They were promoting their chutney products and if you are looking for spicy delicious zesty chutney, this is the place to look for – Virginia Chutney. I had a lovely time talking with them about England, different flavors in chutneys, the history behind its origin and how Britisher’s tweaked it after tasting it in India. I had a quick conversation with them as there were tons of people waiting behind me to taste their creation and talk about it too. I brought home two chutneys in hand – spicy mango and hot peach chutney.  While making this patties, I wanted to serve it with a sweet and spicy chutney, something cooked with mango and chili flakes would be perfect. I thought to myself. I pulled out Virginia chutney bottle from my kitchen cupboard, cracked open the lid and spoon a little and licked a bit, it was sweet, juicy, had a spicy kick from the red chilli flakes and an earthly flavor from ginger. Yum, I loved it and licked even the last drop of the chutney. I served the patties with a dollop of this juicy chutney and it was a super-dooper hit with my friends.


Source: Self

Yields – 10 small size patties


  • 1 cup olive oil for shallow frying
  • 1 – 5oz salmon tin
  • 1 cup raw organic quinoa
  • 1 medium size onions – chopped
  • 1 inch ginger – minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves – minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (use more or less as per your spice level)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg – beaten


  1. Dry roast the quinoa in a clean pan. Saute for 3-5minutes until they get roasty. Remove, cool and grind to a coarse powder. Set aside.
  2. Open the tin and transfer the salmon to a strainer and wash in running water to get rid of excess salt and squeeze the excess water and crumble them into smaller bits and add them to the fresh bowl.
  3. Then mix in the onions, ginger, garlic, cilantro, chili flakes, chili and coriander powder and garam masala. Mix well to combine with hand. Then add the salt and lemon juice. Stir.
  4. Add the egg and stir. Finally add the quinoa, starting with 2 tablespoon at a time. Keeping mixing it until you feel that the mixture rolls into a neat ball. I used about 8 tablespoon to get that consistency.
  5. Divide the mixture to 10 balls and let it chill for 30minutes.
  6. Heat a saucepan on medium flame for 5 minutes. Once they are hot, drizzle few drops of olive oil and spread them on the surface with a kitchen tissue.
  7. In the meanwhile, remove the balls from the fridge. With wet hands flatten them into a small patty and slide them into your saucepan. Spoon out a tablespoon of oil along its edges and let it cook for 6-7 minutes on each side. Add oil if you feel its drying out. I tried to use minimum amount of oil.
  8. Serve hot with Virginia mango chutney by its side.

My tips:

  1. Salmon quinoa patties can be served to kids too. My son loves it with mango chutney/mint chutney. You can also replace quinoa with meat or shrimp or even with mashed sweet potato or potatoes or any veggies.
  2. If you are a vegetarian, omit the eggs and instead add little (about 1 tablespoon) all purpose flour and this would help to hold the mixture together and you can easily work with them.
  3. Ideal for dieters as per serving (2 small patties) will have less than 300 calories and even if you had deep fried them, don’t worry extra few minutes in the gym will sort the problem.
  4. Women with gestational diabetes, look for more recipes here. Do send me an email if you want to know more about my eating schedules. I am not an expert but I will be more than glad to share my experience. You need to consult your OB/GYN or dietician before changing your diet.

Start Here



Spicy Mangai Urugai

Raw Mango Pickle ( Mangai Urugai)

Thank you for being here and thank you for taking your first step towards learning a new flavor of Indian cooking. Spices and Aroma is a family food blog focusing on the cuisine of Southern India. You can learn more about us, on the about page.

About Tamil Nadu

Language Spoken: Tamil

Capital: Chennai (previously known as Madras)

Nearest Airport: Chennai International Airport

Culture: Tradition of literature, music and dance. Known for Hindu temples, Tanjore painting and classical form of dance (Bharata Natyam)

Cuisine: Rice and rice based dishes. Meals are served in banana leaf instead of plate and eaten with the right hand. Traditionally prepared filter coffee is popular.

Popular Ingredients: Coconut, Curry Leaves, Tamarind, Mangoes, Jackfruit, Plantains

Economy: Agriculture, Leather Industry, Textiles, Engineering, Automobiles, Heavy Industries, Electronics and Software


Food from Tamil Nadu

Spices and aroma is a humble attempt to share my love for Southern Indian cooking. This is my canvas where I paint the different colors of tastes. For a girl born and brought-up in a typical Southern Indian household, the word spices and its aroma evokes a lot of cherished memories from the kitchen.

I started this blog in 2008 to document my achi’s (grandmother) and amma’s (mother) recipes. Over the last 6, 7 + years the blog has given me a great oppurtunity to grow and evolve as a food lover. I grew up in a house that believes in the concept of Ayurveda so I create menus with spices that heal your mind and soul. Being a molecular biologist working on clinical trials, science always fascinated me. So is food. I love to understand the connection between the two so my approach towards eating is “Food is medicine”.

I come from Southern part of India, that part of the nation where tamarind, curry leaves, coconut, plantains, jackfruit, mangoes and rice are popular. The diet by itself is gluten free as most of the dishes like idli, dosa, idhiyappam, uthappam, adai, aappam are rice based. We cook few dishes like kootu, poriyal, biryani with coconut flesh, coconut oil and coconut milk so my cuisine is vegan too. This space will carry recipes of authentic Indian dishes, of-course a lot from my mother’s, mother-in-law’s and grandmother’s kitchen and their cooking tips and tricks to survive the trade. I am experimenting on healthy cooking and different cuisines as well so you will find a whole lot of good menu ideas here. Most of my recipes are the ones that I grew up eating and I am tweaking few others with local ingredients. Being a typical foodie and a cook, I give importance on the freshness of the ingredients used. I love to shop in my local farmer’s market every week. There is no harm to shell out couple of more dollars to get the nature’s best and its a great way to support the community.

At Spices and Aroma, below is the list of popular categories:

  1. Gluten Free (225+ recipes)
  2. Vegan (90+ recipes)
  3. Vegetarian (150+ recipes)
  4. Kids Cook (Demonstrated by my 4 5 year old) and Kids Food
  5. Indian inspired recipes for Gestational Diabetes  (110+ recipes) & South Beach Diet phase 1  (100+ recipes)
  6. and much more!

Tamil Nadu Wedding Meal (Kalyana Sapadu) Photo Credit: Eva Blue

Food for Weightloss & Gestational Diabetes:

I have been on the heavier end of the scale since childhood. I wasn’t obese but I was chubby and during college, I went on diets that annoyed my mother. I did lose some weight but they came back right away. Later in early 20s like every bride in the world, I hit the gym, ate healthy Indian foods and lost close to 20 pounds for the big day and then the weight gain was back. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during both the pregnancies and that’s when an alarm rang in my head and started to eat right. I ventured out in the market and came up with Indian inspired recipes with the ingredients I got in hand. I started with South beach diet and in 6+ months, I lost close to 20 25 pounds in 2011. I am working to get healthy to avoid being pre-diabetic so I still try to eat the right food. You can find Indian inspired South beach diet and gestational diabetes food here. Please feel free to reach out to me for cooking ideas. I will be more than glad to share my tips, struggles and story with you.

Multigrain Dosa with Brown Rice Dosa Batter + Soy Flour + Multigrain Flour (Sathumaavu)

Multigrain Dosa with Brown Rice Dosa Batter + Soy Flour + Multigrain Flour (Sathumaavu)

Our goal is to help you try South Indian dishes at the comfort of your home with ease and confidence. We are here to prove that there is more to Indian cuisine that just naan, butter chicken, saag paneer, samosa and dosa. We are sure that you will fall in love with it like we did.

Weekly Menu Charts

As a working mom, I realized my family runs like a well oiled machine if everything is planned and organized. On a attempt to make my life better, I created menu chart, pantry essential checklist, travel check list and 50 plus snack ideas to serve kids.

Here is the link to download the charts:

  1. Weekly Menu Chart 1
  2. Weekly Menu Chart 2
  3. Weekly Menu Chart 3
  4. Weekly Menu Chart 4
  5. Indian Pantry Essentials Checklist
  6. Travel Essentials Checklist (Domestic)
  7. 50 plus Snack Ideas for Working Moms
  8. 12 Practical Breakfast Ideas for Kids


Neer Mooru / Spiced Buttermilk from Tamil Nadu


Neer mooru known as buttermilk in english is a common summer drink in South India. It is a simple concoction of water and yogurt mixed with salt and other Indian spices like mustard and cumin seeds and perfumed with herbs like curry leaves and cilantro.

I still remember this hiking trip we took in one of my school summer breaks. My cousins and I were hiking the hills around Mahaballipuram, Chennai (South India). It was summer of 1999 and it was May. The temperature were at all time high. We ran out of water we brought and all of us were tanned, tired and thirsty. Right under a tree an old lady was selling pots of buttermilk. My uncle suggested that we should try it as buttermilk is so good for the heat. We were little hesitant to drink it as we weren’t sure about the quality of water used in it. Still we went ahead and drank it. Gladly there was no stomach upsets for anyone. Warm lady in her late sixties served each one of a pot of buttermilk for less than 5 cents. Till date whenever I hike, I remember the serene face of that old women.

This was my go to drink during South beach diet and gestational diabetes.  Being a typical tropical country, South India is filled with hot and humid months during most part of the year.  Buttermilk is known to cool down your body temperature and stabilizes the good bacteria in the stomach. Hence in most homes, buttermilk is served as a mid-morning or late afternoon drink.

 Buttermilk with Indian spices recipe

A quick recipe for a drink you can enjoy in Phase 1
Serves 4
Source: My mom


  • 16 oz low fat buttermilk or 2 cups non-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
  • 1 dry red chilly
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 (+1) cups water


  1. If using yogurt, beat them with 2 cups water with a whisk (for about 5 minutes at maximum speed) to make it frothy and smooth. Set aside. If using buttermilk, pour in 2 cups water and stir with a spatula to combine. Set aside. You can add 1 more cup of water if needed.
  2. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Once they sizzle, add the curry leaves and let it crisp. Then throw in the mustard seeds and let it pop.
  3. Next add cumin seeds, dry chili powder, asafoetida and turmeric powder. Saute for 30-45 seconds and switch off the flame.
  4. Add the above mixture, salt and cilantro to the whisked yogurt or buttermilk and stir to combine.
  5. Serve in a pitcher glass and enjoy it cold.

Additional notes:

  1. We like the buttermilk to be watery, so I add little bit more water (about another cup or so) and adjust the salt level accordingly.
  2. My list of food for Phase 1 is healthy and can be made well balanced with rice/brown rice/quinoa. Then it becomes ideal for women with gestational diabetes. This can be a sample menu for gestational diabetes
  3. This is also a type 2 diabetes food guide. Just add little bit whole grains like brown rice, kaikuthal rice, quinoa, barley along with tons of vegetables and little fruits (sometimes)

Warm quinoa salad with Indian spices

Quinoa and its benefits



I have spoken in brief about quinoa on my post about gestational diabetes.  After I wrote about brown rice, I wanted to explore in detail about quinoa. So here I am writing about a magical grain – QUINOA (pronounced as Keen-wa).

Most kitchens known to me doesn’t have quinoa in their shelves. Well, most supermarket known to be doesn’t even carry it. Then finding a store that would have quinoa all the time was by itself a challenge for me. Finally I have settled down with amazon or you can buy from direct retailers.

Where to find one?
1. Costco – very selected stores
2. Safeway – small packets 
3. Whole foods – small packets
4. Amazon – Best option

Quinoa is not a grain, its the seed of the goosefoot plant. They are staple food for the people of Andes Mountains for thousands of years. In a nutshell, its a healthy complex carbohydrate grain from South America. The warriors were nourished with quinoa to increase their stamina. Since it can be lightly toasted and ground to a flour, they are also referred to as pseudograin. Quinoa is a seed that becomes fluffy, creamy and gets a nutty flavour when cooked. Quinoa is a close cousin of beets, spinach and swiss chard.  I have personally not seen the leaves but relevant articles suggested that the leaves are very similar to that of beets, spinach and swiss chard and they are edible. 

Quinoa is rich protein and also its a complete protein (contains all the nine essential amino acids). It’s the best protein source for vegans/vegetarians. Lysine is one of the nine essential amino acid which the body cann’t produce by itself and must be obtained from dietary sources. Other grains like barley, brown rice, buck wheat has little lysine content in them but not enough to count. Quinoa had sufficient amount of lysine in it. Apart from quinoa, cheese, eggs, fish, lima beans, milk, potatoes, red meat, soy products, and yeast also contains lysine.

Did you know?
1. Quinoa cause no insulin spike
2. Will keep you full for longer
3. Reduced risk of heart diseases
4. Its rich in fiber and helps in better gastrointestinal health
5. Rich source of manganese, magnesium, folate and phosphorous.

One of the literature said that the magnesium and riboflavin present in quinoa helps to relax blood vessels that constricts and rebounds to cause migraines. Since magnesium relaxes the blood vessels, a diet rich in quinoa can help to lower the chances of getting cardiovascular diseases. Magnesium acts a co-factor for so many enzymes in the body including the ones that are involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion. Now start including quinoa in your meals if you have a family member who are pre-diabetic or diabetic.
There is high levels of micronutrients in quinoa which are involved in muscle growth. Magnesium maintains the muscle growth and also helps in creating new muscles. The potassium acts like a pump by pulling out the fluid from the bloodstream in to muscle cells. Folate is required by the muscles to produce new cells. So if you eat a diet rich in quinoa, it will help in better recovery after a workout.

Quinoa had similar health benefits like brown rice. You can read about that here. On my personal taste preference and usage, I use brown rice for two purposes: one to make batter like idly, dosa, adai, idiyappam and other when made mushy like for pongal, bisi bela bath, bagala bath. I didn’t develop a liking for cooked brown rice but for all the other India inspired dishes I use quinoa. Quinoa complements the spices well and they taste delicious when cooked with right ingredients.
Today’s post is about a warm quinoa salad I made with lemon juice and toasted almonds. The recipe is similar to that of Indian lemon rice. Instead of the rice, I am using quinoa here. Mostly we use roasted cashews or peanuts to garnish but I made this dish with roasted almonds. Those were the two simple changes I made to the original recipe. But this bowl of my warm quinoa salad is packed with wholesome goodness. As I always say I would like to create recipe that are tasty and healthy. I take the old and carefully incorporate the global influences to create a new recipe.
Serves: 4
Source: Self

1 cup raw white quinoa ( I used Bob Red Mill oraganic quinoa)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
20-30 almonds (raw) or roasted
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dhal or black gram
12-15 curry leaves
1 teaspoon asafoetida
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 Thai green chillies – slit
1/2 tablespoon ginger – minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste, about 1-2 teaspoon
1. If using raw almonds, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cooking pan. Once the oil ripples, add the almonds and roast them for 10- 15minutes, until they brown a bit. Remove and place over a kitchen towel.
2. In the mean while, pressure cook the quinoa with 2 cups water for 4 whistles or cook over the stove top with 2 cups water for 20-25 minutes (cook covered). Once done, use a fork to fluff them up. Set aside.
3. To the left over oil, add mustard seeds and let it crackle. Then add the curry leaves and let it crisp, about 30-45 seconds. Then add the urad dhal and saute for 60 seconds.
4.. Now add asafoetida, green chillies, ginger , turmeric powder and saute for 30-45 seconds. Finally add the lemon juice and salt. Stir.
5. Mix in the quinoa with this lemon vinaigrette. Garnish with roasted almonds. Serve hot with a oven baked bittergourd chips/ okra stirfry / egg curry / chicken cury
Additional notes:
1. My warm quinoa salad can be eaten during phase 2 and phase 3 of South beach diet.
2. An excellent source of protein for pregnant women and definitely a good replacement for rice for women with gestational diabetes and also for those who are diabetic and pre-diabetic.
3. Eating a serving of quinoa for a meal everyday can help in better recovery after a workout.
4. Quinoa had low glycemic index
5. They are gluten free, wheat free, cholesterol free
6. Quinoa had the highest content of unsaturated fats and a lower ratio of carbohydrates than any other grain

Cold Quinoa Salad with creamy balsamic dressing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The weekend was busy as always. We spent the Saturday at Bounce-O-Rama with mommies and kids I met through Facebook mommy group. It was a real pleasure to meet with mommies who speak the same language. The kids had a lovely time bouncing in the play area and mommies enjoyed chatting. I ate a lot of food that day. Fresh pastries and bun from Anderson Bakery for lunch followed by fried chicken and finally lamb biryani for dinner. So this week must involve lot of physical activity and clean eating. I engulfed myself into too much that I reached a point where  a simple salad is all what I need.

Though the recipe for salads are simple, I feel that getting a right balance in flavor is key. I started off by pressure cooking white quinoa. I added 2 cups of water for 1 cup quinoa. Please always check the directions in the package to make it right. Regular readers of my blog will know about my love for quinoa. I started experimenting with it when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. You can look for my quinoa recipes here.

Cold Quinoa Salad_6

Its super hot here, cold salad was the obvious choice. As the quinoa whistled its way, I thinly sliced cabbage. I walked past the pantry to grab raisins which I soaked in hot water to plump up. I wanted more crunch and sweetness in the salad, so I chose sweet corn and green peas to go with it. Next on the list was protein. I could use cooked chicken or shrimp or lamb or tofu or soy chunks. For today, I stuck with extra firm tofu. I chopped them into bite size cubes. As the list of ingredients came together in my mind, I felt a need for a herb. It’s cilantro for today. You can add fresh mint or parsley too. If you love mint, you should try quinoa salad with minty yogurt dressing. Click here for the recipe.

Cold Quinoa_Salad_4

Cold Quinoa_Salad_3

Next comes the dressing, I love balsamic vinegar and I love yogurt. I decided to bring them together by mixing equal portion of both. Then I added Dijon mustard and Sriracha for the heat. To even out the flavors, I added little agave nectar for sweetness. The vinaigrette is all set. My three year old boy helped me assemble the salad. I left the salad to get cold for an hour and served it chill at noon for lunch. We loved it so much that it was packed for Monday lunch too. You won’t believe it, my son wanted the left over for his lunch as well.

I wouldn’t recommend eating this during gestational diabetes as it has sweetness from sweet corn, peas and agave nectar. During diabetes, I would skip the agave nectar in the dressing and also would replace corn and peas with carrots and lettuce. I would add nuts like almonds, peanuts or seeds like pumpkin or sunflower seeds too. This is a great salad to munch on after a workout. Eat yummy food and stay fit!

Cold Quinoa_Salad_2

Cold Quinoa_Salad_1


Cooking Level: Super Easy

Recipe: Self

Serves: A family of four


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sweet corn (you can use frozen too)
  • 1 cup green peas (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 10 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup raisins

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup thick low fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon sriracha (use as per your liking)
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt to taste


  1. Whisk all the ingredients listed under “for the dressing” together. Store in a container until use. You can refrigerate it and it stays fresh upto 2-3 weeks.
  2. Cook quinoa as per the instruction in the package. Once cooked, let it cool down to room temperature and store it in the fridge until use.
  3. Mix all the veggies, tofu, quinoa and herb with the salad dressing. I would start with 1 tablespoon and move up as per the requirement.

Why should we eat edamame?

Edamame is a popular snack in countries like Japan, China, Korea and Hawaii. All of us know the goodness about soy products – be it soy milk or tofu, we know that its so right for your body (ofcourse when eaten in moderation). Coming from a similar family is edamame.Soy is a wonder food. A half cup of edamame has good amount of fiber, proteins, vitamins and minerals in it. For vegetarians, eating it is one of the best way to pump up the iron levels. Edamame is nothing but immature soybeans in the pod. They are green in color and it is picked before the soy beans ripe.

Nutritional value (Source:Manufacturer’s packet)
1/2 cup of shelled edamame has 120 calories
  • 13 grams of carbohydrates
  • 11 grams of proteins
  • 9 grams of fiber
  • 2.5 grams of fat ( 1.5grams polysaturated fat and 0.5 gram monosaturated fat)

N, my good friend from middle school introduced me to edamame. It was during one of my visit to her house I tasted it for the first time. Since she is a health freak, her kitchen cabinets doesn’t carry any unhealthy greasy snacks, instead her guests are welcomed with baby carrots with organic maple syrup and cooked edamame with soy sauce as snacks. Thanks to her for letting me know about this bean.Trust me when I say this, edamame beans are so addictive and just with a dash of salt it tastes so good. It is definitely a yummy snack to serve your kids. It tastes like white kidney beans – nutty and creamy. My son loves edamame and every time he catches me munching few beans, he would take one in each hand and sit by the stairs to admire its shape, color and chew it with his bunny teeth and slide them into his tummy with the toothless gum at the back of his mouth. Then he would walk towards me for more. Soy products have isoflavones, they are phytoestrogen found in red clover tea as well and they protect your body against cancer, heart diseases and kidney problems. Isn’t a good thing to give to your little ones? Think about it.

I continued eating it during my pregnancy too. This nutritious bean is sure to nourish your growing fetus. Since I had gestational diabetes, cooked edamame was something I could trust on for mid day hungrypangs. Just take a bowl full, sit by the couch, peel the shell, watch TV and eat.  Edamame has equal amount of protein and carbohydrates. Remember it’s a snack so eat accordingly. My dietician suggested to eat edamame often as they help to reduce insulin resistance in people diagnosed with diabetes. The isoflavones in edamame reduces the bad cholesterol and increases the good cholesterol. Don’t you want that?

Where can you find them?

They are parboiled and quick-frozen to retain their freshness and natural flavour.  Hence they are sold cooked, you just have to thaw it or may be microwave it for couple of minutes on high before you eat. They are sold either shelled or with the pods. You can locate them in the freezer section of your supermarket. I shop edamame from Costco, Savemart, Safeway, Trader Joe, Whole foods.  I always have a bag or two in my freezer. You can use them in your cooking too. Add a handful to your dhaal/ pulao/ omelet / curry / chaat or make a hummus out of it, there are endless possibilities. Since I am lazy, I prefer to eat them as such. I don’t have the time to sit and shell it first and then make a dish out of it. Instead I eat them as such. They taste pretty good that way. If I am hungry around 7.00PM , a time that hangs between snack and dinner time, I eat a bowl of edamame and that way I can atleast avoid headaches/ tiredness due to hunger.

How to eat it?

Once it is cooked, remove the beans like you do for peanuts. Cut the ends and press the bean to pop out from the end, once there’s a small opening, peel them open and remove the beans and eat. You could also squeeze the beans directly from the pods into the mouth with your fingers.  Keep repeating the process until you are done 🙂


Serves 2


  • 1 cup edamame in pods
  • A dash of salt optional
  • 1 tablespoon water


  • Microwave


  1. Remove the beans from the packaging. Place in a bowl and microwave at high for 2-3 minutes.
  2.  Sprinkle salt and serve.

Additional notes:

  1. Edamame can be eaten as snack in all the three phases of South beach diet and also for those who are on a weightloss journey.
  2. It is an ideal snack for women with gestational diabetes and also for individuals who are prediabetic/ diabetic
  3. You can make a “sundal” (South Indian snack) with edamame – can be tempered with mustards seeds, dry red chilly, pinch of asafoetida and little coconut powder.

Update on 04.11.2012

We had an informative discussion in facebook today and I am tempted to update my post with a key information Sadhana Ginde, Indian editor for Bella shared with us. I would call her a walking encyclopedia, she can talk about anything under the sky and her views definitely opens up many thought provoking conversation among our FB friends. Thanks S for the lovely insights. So my dear readers please read through her views and let me know your thoughts as well.

Sadhana Ginde: “But I also must caution you here — as much as I love soybeans, tofu & soy milk. These are all products that cause a natural increase in the body’s estrogen. This is great for women & especially menopausal women! But soy is also used in many other products as a extra protein source such as garden burgers, cookies, snacks, cereals & many bars. That being said, too much soy = too much estrogen in kids of any age. But this is not good for little boys & little girls! Studies have shown in kids especially lactose intolerant kids who use a lot of soy in their diets — the boys have delayed onset of puberty & for girls — too early!  

So you may ask — what about people in Asia who have been eating large amounts of soy for centuries? It appears their bodies have evolved over time to process these large amounts of soy. Also, their soy products are all natural. The ones produced here in the US are “enhanced”.
So is it okay for your kids to eat edamame, have a glass of soy milk, eat tofu…. ? Yes, but not daily 3x! They are already getting a lot of soy in their diet through other foods, so no need to add more. You may not believe me & that’s ok! But I am a science researcher (cancer) and there are many available studies & data on the internet as well. Thanks for your time, but many people dont know this! Well this came into light about a decade ago because young 7-8 yrs girls had already started their “ladies days” 🙁 So just an FYI folks!)”

Mung Bean Salad – Desi Style and Gluten Free

Summer is here. Well, almost its there. Now is the time to pack the bags and head outside for a hike and a picnic. What more is wonderful than fixing something quick, easy and healthy. If winter is for soups, then summer is all about salads. A bowl of colorful veggies and glossy vinaigrette reminds me of the bright days ahead. On most days, I make my  salads with beans or lentil base. I start with a bowl of cooked beans and work my way up by adding favorite or  seasonal or sometime with what’s available in my fridge. There is no recipe for a salad. You can play and create one based on your liking.  I will top it with seasonal vegetables and fruits. The vinaigrette is made with Indian spices like cumin, garam masala, oil and lemon juice. Today’s post is a quick salad made with mung bean. I love this beans because they are tiny and cooks faster. I soak the beans overnight and pressure cook it the following day. Some days, I let the bean sprouts and I add them raw to my salads.

In Southern part of India, there is a dish called sundal. It is nothing but boiled beans/lentils (mung bean/pacha payaru, garbanzo beans / konda kadalai, black eyes peas/karamani, mung dhal/ paasi parupu, green peas/ pacha patani, horse gram/kollu) are tempered with mustard seeds,  asafoetida and curry leaves. They are eaten as evening snack with tea or coffee. Sundal is a popular dish made during Navarathri/Golu (South Indian festival). Nine varieties of beans are offered to God on nine days of festivity.

I cook a lot with mung bean. If you love mung bean like me and need idea on how to use the water you cooked them with. Then you must check my mint rasam post. Today I am sharing a healthy salad recipe made with mung beans, salad radish, red onions, carrots, tomatoes and green mangoes. All it takes is chop them in to small chunks, mix them all together and toss in the flavorful vinaigrette.


Makes: 4 cups

Recipe Source: Self


  • 1 cup raw mung bean/ whole green gram / pasi paruppu – soaked overnight in water
  • 4 small salad radish, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sized carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cucumer, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw green mango , chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro for garnish

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste


  1. Remove water from the soaked mung bean. Cook them like pasta in boiling water for 30-45 minutes until done. For a faster option, cook in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Once done, drain any water and let it cool.
  2. Mix the ingredients under vinaigrette section. Set aside.
  3. In a large salad bowl, mix the chopped vegetables with the bean. Toss in the vinaigrette and mix well to coat.  Sprinkle cilantro for garnish. Serve right away,

Additional Notes:

  1. This salad can be eaten during gestational diabetes. Your body needs a lot of fiber to digest and help to get the stuff out of your system easily. The vegetables and mung bean have low glycemic index and that makes it an ideal dish to eat when you have gestational diabetes.
  2. This salad can be eaten during weightloss. It is packed with nutrients and flavors. It’s tasty and good for you and will help you get rid of those excess fat. You can read more about the goodness of mung bean in my mint rasam post.

Adai with brown rice and lentils – South Indian Speciality

Another dish created in my kitchen with brown rice is adai. Adai is a Tamil term for savory pancakes made with white rice and lentils. You may wonder why I replaced white with brown rice in this recipe. I have answered it here. Hop over to read it and do come back!

In short, brown rice is a whole grain and is not replenished of any nutrients. People who want to lower their blood sugar, lose weight or just want to eat healthy are in love with this holy grain. I can hear you say “I don’t like bland taste of brown rice. It doesn’t go well with Indian sauces and gravies”. Chill! I have a solution for you.
We have complex taste buds and we crave for our aromatic spices and wonderful flavors to linger and dance in our tongue before it makes it way to the tummy. That’s how I felt during gestational diabetes. My dreams would be filled with plates of crispy adai, jaggery , butter, aviyal and what not! See I have the taste bud of a typical foodie. Doesn’t that key quality in me make you trust my experiments in the kitchen?
I have started using brown rice in batters like idly, dosa, pesarattu and now adai too! You cann’t even find the difference in taste. Brown rice in batters is the magical way to get the whole grains straight to your loved one’s tummy without receiving any stares and shouting at the dining table. Yeah! I know we get shouted at the table or atleast see frowns at the table when menu is with not so usual ingredients. Here is the link to my post on adai eons ago. I had used white rice in it. Now see my brown rice version, visually you don’t see a difference right? Trust me, you will not find any change in taste as well. I love to serve adai with chutneys made with vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, cilantro, mint, bell peppers or anything that doesn’t add excess calorie to your meal. It’s better to avoid serving these healthy adais with coconut or peanut chutney. Well, you can eat them once in a while. That’s acceptable for sure but eating my wholegrain adai with coconut/peanut chutney every other day is a big NO-NO! Also I love to serve them with creamy sambhar cooked with lots of vegetables. Doesn’t it sound like Complan drink ad? – A complete planned food.
Now you ask me “My plate is filled with healthy adai served with healthy chutney and a healthy sambhar”.
I nod with pride that I convinced you to make a healthy dinner.
Then you ask me “What will I serve my husband?”
I stare back thinking about how my husband frowned when I gave it to him that night?
Leaving that unpleasant scene behind and winking as if nothing happened, my reply is “Serve with dollops of butter and jaggery (well, if he likes it) or if he still frowns better serve him super crispy with little oil/ghee and keep pointing out that we will meet the cardiologist pretty soon. Keep scaring  him I say!
Well, these kind of arguments are pretty common in every household. Just keep switching between what he loves to eat and what you love him to eat. He caught me with a bowl of ice cream one night. He cynically said ” South beach diet huh? Eat ! Eat!.
Rules break, mistakes happen and so does we come up with menu deals at home. And next day I made chole bhatura (deep fried bread with garbanzo beans curry) for him.
Makes 20 medium adais
Source: Self
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup yellow split peas/ toor dhal
1/2 cup Bengal gram / channa dhal
2 garlic cloves
1/4 inch ginger – skin peeled
2 dry red chillies
Salt to taste, about 1-2 teaspoon
 1 medium size tomato
For the tempering
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil or any oil of your choice
1/4 cup onions – finely chopped
2 teaspoon asafeotida
10-12 curry leaves – finely chopped
Black pepper balls – whole/crushed
Water to soak and grind
1/4 cup oil to make 20 adais
Non-stick tava or saucepan
Wooden spatula
Food processor or mixie-grinder

Soak the brown rice and lentils in a separate bowl with excess water to fill them both for 4-5 hours. Also soak the dry red chillies in any one of the bowl. Set them aside. Once done, drain the water completely and grind them with ginger,garlic and tomato to a coarse paste. Use minimum water. The batter will be thicker than pancake or dosa batter.

Heat oil in a small pan and add asafoetida, curry leaves, onions , black pepper balls and salt. Add them to the batter and mix well.

Heat the non-stick tava over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Spray the tava with cooking spray and spread it around with a kitchen towel. Pour a ladle full of the thick batter in the center of the heated non-stick tava/ griddle and spread in circular fashion with the back of the ladle to form a circle. Drizzle little oil (be stingy with its use) around the edges and let it cook for 8 minutes and flip it over for another few minutes, about 5 minutes. They should be brown and crispy. Always cook them in medium flame to avoid burning them.

Serve with a chutney and sambhar

Tips: The first one will always take longer time to cook, hence be patient when you have the first one getting cooked.

Additional notes
1. Adai with brown rice and lentils can be eaten during phase 2 and 3 of South beach diet.
2. Also a perfect dish for women with gestational diabetes. Eat 2 of them with healthy chutney and little sambhar. You have to watch your sugar level after the meal. If its less, then eat one more adai. That’s how I experimented with the quantity.
3. An ideal dinner idea for those who want to lose weight or those who are pre-diabetic and diabetic.
4. It is a protein packed dish with complex carbohydrates. Nutritious without doubt.