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south beach diet phase 1

Chicken rasam – A South Indian soup

I had a lovely weekend with my cousins and aunts; we saw the much hyped movie of the season “SAROJA” (South Indian Movie – Tamil). As expected the movie was a thorough entertainer, and few scenes do drag you to the edge of the seat. Extremely witty one liners of all the characters were the highlight of the movie. Saroja has created a niche for itself and I would recommend it for people who want to have a good laugh throughout. 

SAROJA = Awesome thriller with a great humor!!! 🙂

 



Coming to my recipe, I had cooked a very simple chicken curry. 1..2..3.. chicken, a hotty, gingery,peppery, garlicky soup is a very spicy gravy having a rasam like consistency.The pepper corns and green chillies add a beautiful flavor to the dish and also provides an extra heat to it. You can alter the taste according to your palate.


My achi makes this dish from the bone pieces and chicken organs and we would drink it like a soup or have it with rice. It is great for digestion and relieves you of cold. It involves no additional use of oil for cooking, the soup gets its oily texture from the chicken fat. If boneless, skinless chicken breasts are used, then it is a completely healthy soup.


 

 
Serves 4
Ingredients

250gm chicken (cleaned and chopped; preferably ones with bone pieces) 
2-3 green chillies  
2 onions – diced  
1″ ginger  
4-5 garlic pods  
1 large tomato – cubed  
1/2 teaspoon mustard  
2 teaspoon cummin seeds  
2 tablespoon black pepper corns 
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
10-12 curry leaves  
1-2 teaspoon chilli powder  

1teaspoom turmeric powder  

1 liter water  
1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
Salt

Directions
1.Grind the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and pepper corns to a fine paste.

2. Heat the cooking pan to smoking hotness. Add the mustard seeds and let it pop. Then add the above made onion paste. Cook till the oil separates. Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilli powder and cook till the raw smell disappears.

3.Add the chicken and saute for 5-10minutes. Add water and curry leaves. Cook for 8-10 whistles. The chicken should be really soft and tender. Add salt to taste. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve hot.


This yummy dish is a perfect accompaniment to rice and goes great with chicken fry. Wrap the meal with a glass of cold buttermilk. Sluurrrrrpppp!!!!! 🙂




Note:
This soup is ideal for South beach diet of any phase. Use boneless skinless chicken pieces while in phase 1.

South Indian Egg Roast Recipe

Eggs are my go-to protein source on weeknights. I work for a pharmaceutical company and I am a molecular biologist who needs to read scientific papers to update myself of the current trends in the field of research and drug development.

Amino acids are the basic building blocks of all proteins. Proteins are large molecular made up of amino acid chains. When we eat a protein rich food like eggs, the body readily absorbs them as they are available for the body at a cellular level. According to the recommended daily allowances, women should have 46 grams of protein daily and men should consume 56 grams. During digestion, proteins are broken down to release amino acids. These amino acids will repair tissue, make proteins and help in metabolic reactions. Please note that 9 essential amino acids must be supplied to the body through food we eat. Body cannot make them.

Brown_Eggs_3

I boil a batch of eggs over the weekend and use it as a snack during the day or make some curry or roast for bread or roti or rice. One large whole egg has 6.28 grams of proteins plus 9 essential amino acids and 4 non-essential amino acids. In total, egg has 18 amino acids. The yolk and white each contain the same amount of amino acids. If you have cholesterol, you can eat only the whites.

If you are a vegetarian, please note that milk has all the amino acids that are present in 1 egg. You can drink whole milk or 1%, 2% fat milk depending on your choice.

During gestational diabetes, this was one of the easiest way to add protein to our diet. This is also a great snack/dish while following South Beach Diet phase 1 and during weight loss.

Brown_Eggs_1

South Indian Egg Roast Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoon curry leaves powder or use fresh ones – finely chopped
  • Salt & Fresh Black Peppercorns to taste
  • Water to mix them to a paste

Cooking Directions

  1. Make a smooth thick paste with all the ingredients except boiled eggs and oil.
  2. Remove egg shells, cut into half and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a wide saucepan.
  4. Using hands, smear a layer of the spice mix and gently layer the eggs and let it brown on each side, about 10-12 minutes. Remove and serve hot with rice or any carb.

South Indian Celery Recipe – Poriyal

When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2010, my dietitian recommended eating celery and cucumbers with hummus. I have tasted cucumber before but celery was alien to me. I don’t remember seeing celery in my mother’s kitchen.

Celery Poriyal 2

 

When I tasted it for the first time, it’s fibrous texture reminded me of banana stem (vazhathandu). During my post pregnancy weightloss, I followed South Beach Diet (but with Indian inspired recipes), I have made a lot of recipes with ingredients that were local to me like kale, quinoa, celery, jicama, zucchini & its blossoms etc. It is key to eat what is local and in season. I pick all my veggies and fruits from farmer’s market. Celery is available almost all summer and end of Oct to Jan. I got bored eating it with a dip. I slowly started adding it to my soups and moved up to sambar, kootu and poriyal. If you are someone who counts calories in your food, then you must know that one stalk of celery has only 6 calories. I was asked to include celery in my diet as a healthy snack by doctors and dieticians. Don’t explore too much and rely on celery for your weightloss transformation. But they are definitely better than a candy bar or potato chips.

I have been following Rujuta Diwekar​’s work and I love her philosophy towards eating. She promotes eating local and seasonal food. The best thing about living in Bay Area California (apart from the awesome weather 🙂 is the access to freshest ingredients at the farmer’s market. I try to create recipes with the vegetables in season. Celery is one such ingredient I love to cook as I got bored eating it raw with hummus.

Celery Poriyal 1
Today I am sharing the recipe for a South Indian stir fry called poriyal. We will be using the entire celery bunch for it. The dish is flavored with coconut oil, dry red chillies, mustard seeds, curry leaves and coconut.

Celery Poriyal 3
SOUTH INDIAN CELERY PORIYAL

Serves: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 dry red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon urad dhal (white lentils)
  • 10 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 whole bunch celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup dry shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • Salt to taste

Cooking Directions

For kadai /cooking pan method:

  1. Rinse and clean the celery stalk well. Chop them into tiny pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let it pop. Then throw in the red chillies, urad dahl and curry leaves. Saute for a minute.
  3. Add the onions, little salt and turmeric powder and saute for 5-8 minutes. Finally add the celery and water. Cook covered for 15 minutes for crunchy poriyal or 20 minutes for softer version.
  4. Add coconut, salt to taste and mix well to combine. Serve hot with rice, sambar or rasam.

For Pressure Cooker Method:

  1. Heat oil in a cooked base. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let it pop. Then throw in the red chillies, urad dahl and curry leaves. Saute for a minute.
  2. Add the onions, little salt, turmeric powder, celery, dry coconut and water. Mix well and cook for 1 whistle for crunchy poriyal or 2 whistles for softer version. Please manually release the pressure to prevent over cooking.
  3. Add salt to taste and serve hot.

How to plan a trip to Israel?

Israel, Holy Land is a beautiful country and this tiny country is definitely in our top list of countries to revist. Before you plan your trip, I want to share some information about visa, travel details, safety tips, best time to visit and top must visit towns/citites.

Haifa 1
How to apply for a Israel visa from US?

We went to Israel in March, 2015 and we applied for the visa at Consulate General of Israel in San Francisco. If you are a US citizen, then you can stay upto three months from the date of arrival. You do not need a visa but must hold a passport that is valid for atleast 6 months from the date you are departing the country. All the details can be found here.

Address of Israel Consulate in San Francisco: 
456 Montgomery St # 2100, San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 844-7500

When to Go to Israel?

We visited Israel in March 2015 and left before Passover holidays. You should plan your visit around the weather and holidays. Summers are from April to October and it can be very hot with humid conditions along the coast. Winters are from November to March and the temperature are cooler. It was raining when we were at Galilee. It was like Indian monsoon. As you all know, Israel is a Jewish State and the busiest months tend to be October and August.
Haifa 3
When is the weekend in Israel?

The weekend in Israel is on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the start of the work week. In the Jewish religion, Saturday is the holy day of the week. All public offices and most business are closed from friday afternoon to Saturday evening. Trains, trams and bus services can be affected on these days. This can delay your plans for the trips planned on Friday and Saturday. We rented a car during our stay in Israel.

Haifa 2

Is Israel safe to visit?

Israel’s location is tricky. Israel shares land borders with 7 countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon. Their conflict with Palestine remains unresolved. Hence their vigilance in security matters is top noth. We spotted full time secruity guards everywhere be it the supermarket,  restuarants, shopping malls or shuks. Gaza Trip or West Bank requires prior clearance. Overall it is a safe place to visit. We went with my 2 kids and returned back to the US safely.

Map

Map of Israel : Places we visited

What is the currency in Israel?

The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS).

1 US Dollar = 3.48 Israeli New Shekel
Nazrath 1

What to pack?

  1. I travelled with my 4.5 years old boy and 18 months old girl. Israel is sunny and warm in March however it rained cats and dogs in Galilee when we stayed. So carry a thick jacket with a hood for both kids and adults.
  2. Comfortable walking shoes as we walked a lot & flipflop for the beach
  3. Moisturizer
  4. Stroller for the baby
  5. Electrolyte packets for all
  6.  Umbrella
  7.  Cotton pants and tops
  8. Sunscreen, hats and glasses
  9. Medicines
  10. Food for the kids
  11. Swimsuits

Things to plan and be aware:

  1. Travel time from San Francisco was close to 20 hours including transit hours. We flew from SF to New York and then to Tel Aviv. It is definitely a long flight so be prepared with toys, games and favourite movies for your kids
  2. Culture is very similar to India. We spend time with my husband’s colleagues and interacted with their neighbors. The kids in the neighborhood know each other and they run across the streets to neighbor’s house and there are impromptu visits from neighbors. My husband’s colleague lived in moshav. The culture and hospitality among them reminded me about India where I played in the streets till sunset and I knew most of the people in the neighborhood.
  3. I fed my kids heavy breakfast and dinner so anything in between is snack . BAsically, they ate what they wanted. We stayed in airbnb apartments and I could cook some of my kid’s comfort food like rasam, rice and eggs for breakfast.
  4. Always drink bottled water
  5. Read my post on kid’s travel food.

Nazrath 2

Day 1-4 at Haifa

Day 1:

  1. We drove straight to Haifa on the day we landed at Tel Aviv. We rested that day.
  2. The following morning we woke up to a beautiful view from the apartment we are staying in Haifa. Then we went to my husband’s office at Or Akiva for a welcome lunch. The meal gets prepared by their cook every morning.
  3. I had sore throat, cough before we boarded our flight to New York. Over the days, it got worse and on the day we landed Tel Aviv, I had severe ear pain while coughing and my eyes turned red. So first step while planning an international trip is to carry travel insurance. Major health insurance companies from US like Cigna, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross process your claim. The colleagues at my husband’s office arranged for a doctor who visited me at their office. Isn’t that so convenient? Last time I remember having the luxury of doctor visiting the patient was in my grandmother’s home in the village. But the sad part was the doctor spoke only hebrew and absolutely no english. We had my husband’s colleague translate it for us. Just as a precaution call your insurance provider about international medical claim before you fly out . I did it as I was traveling with my kids and it came useful for me.
  4. After an awesome heavy lunch of more than 12 dishes of rice, chicken, salmon, salads, corn, pea soup, eggs we headed to Birds Mosaic Mansion. The lovely people at my husband’s office packed food for us so we can eat it for dinner.
  5. Birds Mosaic Mansion in Caesarea was originally part of a large 6th century mansion. The mosaic has a border of animals and trees which are native to the land.
  6. Then we went to Aqueduct, Caesarea with its Roman amphitheater, port, hippodrome.

Day 2:

  1. The day started off with my visit to my husband’s office at Or Akiva to meet with Limor, cook. She started to cook from 9.00am and reached only at 11.00 am. I watched her make the salad. She made 8 dishes today and my most favorite one was whole roaster cauliflower with mayonnaise, salt, pepper and oregano. She roasted them at 400F for 1-1.5 hours.
  2. Next we drove to Nazarath to visit the beautiful Basicilia of Annunciation, the largest church in middle east.
  3. We walked through the bazaar that leads to the church and drank fresh pomegranate juice and ate falafel sandwich. 
  4. We walked further through the streets and found fresh almond fruit and an Arabic sweet called Awami ( crispy small donut balls fried and coated with sugar syrup) and crunchy baklava cigars
  5. Final stop was to view Haifa Port.

Day 3:

  1. We visited Bahai gardens on day 3. It took close to 1.5 hours from start to finish and back to the car. Do remember to check out the schedule for Walking tour in english before you arrive. That will help you save time.
  2. Next we went to Carmel beach for a lovely lunch with my husband’s CEO and family. Food was amazing and we ordered fresh pita bread with hummus, babaganoush, spicy butternut squash and beets dish. I ordered grilled fish with salad and rice.
  3. We then went to Ein Ayyala Moshav. Moshav means village in Hebrew and thats where my husband’s CEO lives. His house was nestled among banana plantations. My son loved the huge backyard, dogs, swing, trampoline, tractor. I felt as if I visited my family in Southern India. I felt really great to know about the village and understood the difference between village and Kibbutz (communal living) and every word I heard from CEO and his wife were so informative and I am feeling more knowledgeable about Israel now.
  4. It is so true that intracting with the locals helps one see many faces of the country. I heard real life stories about holocaust as his father lived through that phase in history . I got more insight about the country for sure.
  5. Then they were kind enough to take us to Zikhron Ya’akov. Since it is Shabbath ( weekly holiday) roads were empty and we walked past synagogues, stores and many historic buildings in the Zikhron downtown.
  6. Finally we drove to Yokneum Illit to meet my husband’s dear friend for Shabbath dinner at his home. His parents and family welcomed us with an amazing meal.
    Galilee

    Day 4 & 5 at Galilee

     Day 4:
    1. We went to spice village at Beit Lechem. This place is a treat for food lovers. Spices! spices! More spices every where. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was so excited and I was tempted to pick every spice mix. I still bought close to 6 different spice mix to cook with fish, meat, rice and also to mix with hummus. A great place to add to your list.

    Beit Lechem
    2. Then we were off to Akko, northern costal city at Haifa bay. We ate at Abu Christo restaurant which was right next to the water. I tasted Turkish coffee for the first time with Baklava. Coffee was super strong, thick and black. We enjoyed a delicious lunch there.
    3. We walked through the Akko shuk and I bought sweets, few Arab kitchen items and souvenirs.
    4. We drove to the Kibbutz in Galilee area and called it a night.We are staying in Kibbutz in Galilee, Northern Israel. Kibbutz means communal living and the place is very scenic. It feels like visiting a hill station like Ooty, Kodaikanal, Southern India. There are little cottages and vast open space between each. My son enjoyed climbing trees, jumping in the puddle, plucking flowers, climbing rocks. It has been raining for the last two days and we are also taking a break from sight seeing to enjoy the place and catch some sleep.

    Day 5:
    1. We enjoyed a hearty Mediterranean breakfast in the Kibbutz and headed to a historic church and ate an awesome lunch from a local restaurant.
    2. We spend the rest of the day relaxing at the Kibbutz and kids played in the olive orchards there.

    Jerusalem 1

    Day 6-9 at Jerusalem

    Day 6:
    1. We drove back from Kibbutz to Jerusalem. We rented an awesome apartment in the downtown through AirBnB. Its close to shuk, train /bus station and all awesome restaurants, bakeries, supermarket, pharmacy, laundry service.
    2. We spent the day walking through the historic alleys talking to locals, eating great food and shopping souvenirs. We also went to Mahane Yahuda and I shopped for some more spice mixes.

    Mahane Yehuda

    Pasta Basta Restaurant Jerusalem

    Pasta Basta Restaurant Jerusalem at Mahane Yahuda

    Day 7:
    1. We went to Yad Vashem, museum in Israel. We took a train and my son loved it. This museum contains world’s largest information on holocaust. This was one of the places I was waiting to visit. I highly recommend to spend your time here if you care to know about Jew’s history.

    Holocaust Museum
    2. We spend close to 8 hours at the museum and our way back we headed to Pasta Basta Restaurant at Mahane Yehuda for dinner. It is one of the popular food place to check out in the shuk. Its small, cramped and crowded. They have a limited menu and the food was brilliant. We ordered tomato soup, roasted pepper -cream-mushroom pasta and tomato- cream-zucchini pasta. They were super tasty. Do add it to your list of food to try inIsrael.
    3. We walked back enjoying the busy streets of downtown and I am munching on hand crafted chocolates from Aldo, a shop opposite to the apartment.

    Jerusalem 2

    Downtown Jerusalem

     

    Masada

    Masada National Park

    Day 8

    1. We had an early start today . The plan was to cover Masada and Dead Sea. We left the apartment at 7.30am ( from Jerusalem) and reached Masada close to 9.00 am. Masada is an ancient fortification located in the Southern district of Israel overlooking the dead sea. You can hike to the top but we took the cable car . It is easy this way with kids. It takes 4 hours to do a complete tour of the fort. You cab buy the audio guide at the information center. It is very informative and it reminded me of Senji Fort, Tamil Nadu and Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad and other forts in India . Masada is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Israel. There was also a music performance by the locals.

    Dead Sea

    Dead Sea

    2. Then we were off to Dead Sea to float. Yes! Did you know that we can easily float in Dead Sea because of natural buoyancy. The water had high salt content and hence there is no fish or any aquatic life in it. We reached there around 1.00 pm. I will recommend driving south as you exit Masada as you can find free entry to the beaches after a 20 minute drive. We went to the beach next to Hotel Herold. I saw everyone with mud on them. I didnt see any dark mud in the beach and I was so curious that I asked a fellow tourist. They told me that they are sold in packets in the souvenir shop. We bought a packet of dead sea mud, applied it over the body and sun dried it for 20minutes. Kids below 5 are not allowed to play but my son played with the water and pebbles. He was excited to find salt crystals along the shore and rocks covered in salt. I scrubbed my feet with the salt crystals that he got for me from the shore. He brought back few pebbles as a souvenir. I recommend kids to wear swimming goggles as eyes burn when salt water touches the eyes and skin. I floated and soaked myself in the sea for more than an hour. My skin feels super soft. Note-to-self: Do epsom salt bath every 15 days 🙂
    3. On our drive back, we stopped in highway 90 to meet the camels. My son was so excited about meeting a camel. There were camel rides. One more happy memory there!
    4. We reached the apartment at 7pm. After a quick shower, we went to try some local food. The fruit shop owner below our apartment gave us tips on places to visit and eat in Jerusalem downtown. Today he asked us to walk to Hummus Ben Sira. It takes about 10 minutes to walk to that place. I ordered garbanzo hummus with salad, pita and falafel and my husband ordered chicken hummus with pita and beer. With happy tummy and two sleepy kids, we ended the day.

    Ben Sira

    Day 9:
    1. We took the FREE 2 hour tour at Jaffa Centre, Jerusalem. Make sure to do this when you are in Jerusalem. It covers all the four quarters of the old city. My husband during his previous visit in Israel prayed in the Western wall and he does that every time he comes to this beautiful country. We can write our wish/prayers in a small sheet of paper and place it in between the gaps of the wall. Its a belief that the wish will be granted. Women and men pray in two separate sections of the wall. There is a small passage that leads to mosque where people with Islamic belief pray and we were at the Jewish quarter.
    2. We ate lunch at Tala hummus and falafel place in the old city. I don’t think I can ever get bored of hummus, shawarma or pita. We have been eating the same menu every meal and we are loving it.
    3. We spent rest of the day walking through the historic streets of old city.
    4. For dinner we went to Pinat. It was mentioned in airbnb reviews that it has one of the best hummus in Jerusalem and it was right behind where we stayed. A quick stroll to the eatery and we took a take-out as they close at 7.00 PM

    Tel Aviv 1

     

    Day 10-12 Tel Aviv

    Day 10
    1. We went to Mini Israel before we drove to Tel Aviv, our last stop of the trip.
    2. We took a long nap and headed to the beach that is 5 minutes away from the airbnb apartment we stayed. We spend the evening playing in the water, collecting shells and walking through the busy streets of Ben Yehuda, Tel Aviv.
    3. Ofcourse eating a lot of great food along the way.
    Tel Aviv 2
    Day 11

    1. My day started off with a brief meet up with a popular food blogger in Tel Aviv. We had so much to talk about and I am so glad that we could meet.
    2. We met with my husband’s friend and family at Tel Aviv Port. We walked through the board walk with kids stopping at each play area. For lunch we went to most famous restaurant called Beni, the fisherman. First they served fresh out of the oven hot buns with more than 5 dippings and salad; there was hummus, babaganoush, tahini, pickled cauliflower, beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumber and deep fried cauliflower and fresh summer salad. To wash them down, we ordered fresh lemonade and orange juice. I was completely fill after eating them. For entree, we ordered deep fried and grilled Mediterranean Sea Monk with onion rings and roasted potatoes. I felt too stuffed for sure. Post lunch we walked a lot to make room to try some local food at the shuk in boardwalk.

    Tel Aviv Restaurant
    3. There was an arabic stall with awesome array of sweets, chestnuts, beans and nuts. There was a crepe stall and also an Arab women was making fresh wrap with a bread similar to Indian Romali Roti. She topped with tomato sauce, zaatar spice blend and eggs and rolled it into a wrap. I tastes the semolina dessert from that stall.
    4. Next to it was Holland pancakes made like South Indian paniyarams. They were served with chocolate spread, whipped cream and fruits.
    5. After that was a Lebanese stall where a bread similar to Indian flaky parathas were made into a wrap with eggs and tomato sauce.
    6. The most attractive one for me was the Italian Crema Fresca stall where fresh ice cream were made right before us in a super cold plate (-37’C temp) and served as roll ups. They also served fancy waffles in a stick. I tasted them both as it was too hard to resist.
    7. We continued to walk around the beach, river and watched a public performance.
    8. We then decided to wrap the day by visiting the last stop for the day – Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. My son wanted a bark of milk chocolate with hazelnuts in it. My husband bought a cappuccino and our friend and his wife bought chocolate milkshake. His youngest son ordered chocolate pizza and I went with Chocolate Souffle. They bought two milk chocolate syringes. I have never seen anything like this before.

    Chocolate
    Burp! I am in a food coma now.

    Day 12

    1. Today my son and I took the bus to visit Carmel Shuk which was about 15 minutes bus ride from Ben Yehude, the place where I am staying. I took my son with me as he wanted to ride a bus. We spent two hours walking through the market and tasting few dishes that grabbed our eyes.

    Carmel Shuk 2
    2. Then we took another bus to Levinsky market to join a walking food tour with @delicious israel. I was introduced to Inbal, the women behind the company Delicious Israel through a blogger friend. I joined a group of 12 people and we walked through the streets of Levinsky market tasting and talking about the culinary influence in Tel Aviv. I will share more details in my blog post. In the meanwhile enjoy the pictures of the food that we tasted today.
    Carmel Shuk 1
    3. In the evening we went to the beach again to collect more shells for our travel journey DIY project.
    4. We dined at a fancy Asian restaurant right across the street. Its called Nini Hachi.

    Day 13: Our lovely vacation came to an end and we were on our return flight to San Francisco.

    I hope this post will be helpful for anyone who is interested to visit Israel.

    When are you going to Israel?

     

     

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 ÂĽ 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 ÂĽ 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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Shrimp Cocktail with South Indian Spices

Traveling to an exotic location for a special occasion is always fun. It is even more fun when planning happens weeks before the special day.  My trip to Las Vegas earlier this year was so special as my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary there. We had been discussing on which place to visit with a toddler in hand. We narrowed down to some place in the West Coast as we had just five days in hand and didn’t want to spend all the time travelling. San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland , Reno and Vegas topped the list. Nobody would have thought about travelling to  Las Vegas with a toddler but trust there are equally good amount of child friendly attractions to check out. It was a four day trip and we spend all the time in the strip. If you are planning a trip, make sure you check the to-do list online. Vegas has much more attractions than poker.

 

Las Vegas is considered the most populaous city in the United States. Everyone wants to visit it more number of times in their lifetime. It’s a perfect place for singles, couples, kids, seniors and everyone inbetween. It is a casino city.  The gambling and entertainment attractions are mostly popular in the Las Vegas Strip. If you want to stay closer to the strip, try to book your hotel around that area. It makes it easier to walk to and from the hotel instead of running around to find a parking spot. We stayed at Hilton, Convention Center but prices were high as we booked it at the last moment. So if possible, make sure you plan your trip stay ahead to get good deals on hotel price.

 

Apart from Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at Mirage, M&M world, Aquarium at the Silverton and V-the ultimate variety show for the kids, there are tons of great food to enjoy in Vegas. We dined like there was no tomorrow.  One place which I am sure everyone would love is the ultimate 24-hour buffet called Buffet-of-buffets that lets you enjoy all day access to six specific restaurants in the Vegas Strip. It costs around $50.00 and is valid at the participating buffets. I love appetizers and if its deep fried I love it even more. Vegas is all about eating, walking and getting drunk. But with a kid in hand, we didn’t want to get drunk so we enjoyed the long walks with a plush in hand to kill the heat and some crunchy appetizers to go with the drink. One such delicacy we loved the most was shrimp cocktail. Vegas is no fun without a cocktail in hand but this time,  get the Vegas feel at your residence with my shrimp cocktail.

Shrimp Cocktail is a seafood dish where shelled and cooked shrimps are served with a mayonnaise-tomato dressing. Since it’s served in a martini glass, it gets the name Shrimp Cocktail. I made a South Indian twist to the dip by using basic spices like mustard, cumin seeds, shallots and spice powders.

 

SHRIMP COCKTAIL WITH SOUTH

INDIAN SPICES

Source: Self
Serves: Party of 6-8
Ingredients

  • 1 lb cooked, shelled shrimp (store bought)

For the dip

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ÂĽ  teaspoon asafetida powder
  • 10 curry leaves (optional)
  • 2-3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger and garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon sugar or honey or agave nectar
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish

Direction

  1. Heat oil and once they are hot, add mustard seeds and let It pop. Throw in the cumin seeds, asafoetida powder and curry leaves.
  2. Add the shallots, ginger-garlic paste and a pinch of salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Don’t burn the mixture.
  3. Add the tomato paste, water and mix to combine. Sprinkle turmeric, chili, coriander, cumin powder and garam masala. Stir well.
  4. Add sugar/honey or agave nectar and salt to taste.
  5. Bring it to a boil and simmer it for 5-8 minutes.
  6. Remove from flame and garnish with chopped cilantro. Cool it down to room temperature and serve with shrimp.

Additional notes

  1. If you omit the sugar/honey or agave nectar, then the dip is ideal for those who are following South beach diet.
  2. This dish can be eaten by women with gestational diabetes if your OB/GYN allows you to eat seafood.
  3. This hearty shrimp meal is perfect after a power work out.  Since seafoods are healthy and has low glycemic index, this dish can be made without added sugars during weightloss.

 

Menu ideas for one pot South Indian meal party

Every month Foodbuzz hosts an online event called 24×24 which showcases 24 meals in 24 hours.When I got the email for monthly contest I immediately knew the kind of dinner party I wanted to throw: a comfort food that my mom would make from the basic ingredients available in the kitchen. Hearing the news that my submission got accepted I instantly called up my new-found friends for “One pot South Indian meals dinner party”. This month I am one of the featured publishers chosen to document a meal whipped from the kitchen staples, and yesterday’s dinner was special for sure.  I went with the theme – budget friendly pantry meals and created a menu,  keeping in mind my husband’s favorite one liner “Going ethnic means going global” – so here I am making a simple meal that reflects my South Indian origin.

My pantry is stocked with basic Indian spices like turmeric, chili and cilantro powder, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, whole spices like cloves, cardamon, cinnamon and dry red chillies, herbs (some dried and some fresh), ghee – clarified butter, oils from sesame, sunflower and olive, tamarind fruit, three varieties of rice, lentils like yellow split peas, frozen coconut, frozen and fresh and cans of few beans. With these staples, I can make more than 25 dishes and these were the pantry essentials I had during my student life too. Everyday cooking requires meager use of the spice mix, which makes them be used over a long period of time. Indian cooking is simple, affordable and healthy. Even with minimum spices, wholesome meals can be cooked. Like Italian cuisine, nothing goes waste in Indian cooking, any left overs will be turned into a new dish. 

Now take a peek into my domain – the kitchen I love the most and my pantry – the one I totally depend on for everyday cooking. I mustered all the courage in the world to show the utterly cluttered pantry of mine. Feel free to voice your views on what you feel about that and also  tell me what are the things you stock in your pantry?

 

Indians love their pressure cooker and I have four in total, each in different sizes – Small, Medium, Large and Extra-large, just like in clothing stores 🙂 I steam the vegetables and cook my dhaal (lentils), meat, rice, payasams (dessert), you name it and that would have been cooked in my cooker. You can find no house without one.  It makes cooking fast and saves ton loads of gas. We have been part of reducing carbon footprint for over 50 years now. That’s something to be proud of. Anyways coming back to my foodbuzz event, for today’s dinner – all the dishes were cooked in the pressure cooker.

A one pot meal…

One that can be cooked in no time in a pressure cooker…

That is delicious and quick to fix…

Perfect lunch box food…

A definite party hit…

One that fits the bill perfectly is my menu for today.

What’s on the menu?
1. Bisi-bele-bath – Rice-lentil based dish
2. Cucumber raita – Cold yogurt seasoned with cumin
3. Cabbage poriyal – Cabbage stir fried with mustard seeds and coconut oil
4. Pathirpeni – Indian dessert

I invited three of my blogger friends, Prerna of Indian Simmer, Rose of Magpies recipes and Kankana of Sunshine and Smile to join me for dinner. We had such a lovely time talking about food, blogging and everything under the sky. All of our Curious Georges had fun playing together, hugging, pulling toys and laughing together. Since all the three were such talented blogger and ardent foodies, I was so nervous about they liking my food. Two of them were from Northern part of India and Rose is from Kerala, so I took this opportunity to introduce them to the foods I have grown up eating.

Since my little one needs to be carried and pampered almost 24X7, I managed to whip just the entree, side dish and dessert and decided to go for a store bought salsa and chips for the appetizer. I know that is no South Indian dish, please show me some love and forgive that part of the meal 🙂

After munching few chips, we started right away with Bisi-bele-bath. A South Indian rice based meal made with equal portions of rice, lentils and vegetables cooked in an exotic spice blend. Bisi-bele-bhaath translates to hot-lentil-rice in Kannada, A South Indian language. My mom’s second sister, S periamma is known for this dish and I call this her signature recipe. For any family lunch or potluck parties, she would prepare this and the moment she opens her hot pack box, the wonderful flavor of nutty sesame oil will waft through the air and tickle our taste buds in a way that would attract all my cousins to the dining table like bees buzzing around a flower. To get that brilliant taste, she shared her trade secret. Finish the rice with few drizzle of sesame oil at the end, she announced when I asked her for the recipe. Yes perimma I followed your recipe and that tip and everyone loved the outcome. Thank you lovely lady!

I served bisibelebath with cool raita and potato chips and cabbage stir fry. I quickly chopped all the veggies, made the spice mix, soaked some tamarind in water, washed the rice and lentil. Saute, pour and stir – pressure cooker was set to cook for 10 whistles. Once done, the rice-lentil medley was garnished with fresh cilantro. I left them hot in the pressure cooker until the guests arrived. 

For the side, I steamed the cabbage for 1 whistle and tempered the fuming oil with mustard seeds, curry leaves, onions and green chillies. Saute and mixed in the cooked cabbage and for little color, I added turmeric powder and finally drizzled some coconut oil for an added earthiness. Stirred to combine and ready to enjoy.  We paired the food with Cabernet Sauvignon, Robert Mondavi wine.

 
Finally for dessert, I made pathirpeni. That dish was totally new to them and I was so glad that I included it. It is a noodle-shaped dry dish which is soaked in aromatic milk infused with saffron, cardamons and nuts. I pressure cooked the whole milk with cardamons for 8 whistles and once they steam has settled, I mixed in saffron strands, coarse rice powder, nuts and sugar to taste. I bought cute ceramic glasses similar to shot glasses. I placed the noodles at the bottom and pour the warm milk over it and garnished with some chopped nuts. 
 
I’ll post the recipes of bisibelebath and cabbage poriyal in the coming weeks. Since the Pathirpeni was such a favorite,  I have posted that recipe couple of days back. Many thanks to Foodbuzz for organizing this event every month. Also special thanks to my most supportive husband who took care of my little cub while I cleaned and prepped my kitchen, and four gorgeous ladies including Rose’s mom and Little dumpling – P, Cutie angel – A for making it a lovely evening. Delicious food, good wine and awesome girlfriends!!!
 
 
Tips:
1. For women with gestational diabetes, replace white rice with brown rice. Its better to overcook the brown rice, as the mushy consistency of the brown rice  when mixed with lentils and other spices will not taste any different from white rice.

Update on Jan 10th 2012:

Hope over to my good friend Grishma’s blog to know the recipe for bisi-bela-bhaath. She is such a warm person who is so passionate about cooking and I love her smile 🙂 Infact I see magic in her hands be it with food or garden. Yes she is a pro gardener who attempts to grow every possible vegetable, fruit and herbs in town. Hop over to her space to know more her and her love for food and cooking.

Healthy grilling /BBQ ideas with Indian dishes

Memorial day is a federal holiday observed in the United States on the last Monday of May month. It become an official holiday in 1971. The day marks the remembering of men and women who have died while serving the United states armed forces.  Memorial day was officially proclaimed on 5th May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the republic and for the first time it was observed on 30th May 1868. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873.Decoration day was the original name to this day and it originated in the years following the Civil War. Many Americans observe this day by visiting cemeteries and participating in parades. Every city/town across United States hold parades, including military personnel and war veterans. But over the years since the Congress made it a three day long weekend holiday, the actual spirit of celebrating the day has diluted. Since it marks the start of summer season, many throw parties and barbecues on this day.

 

My in laws are here with this and we had made plans for every weekend for the next few months. San Francisco area has been bit cold over the weekends which is quite uncommon for this time period. Hence we cancelled our plan and decided to stay at home, watch some movies and do some grilling. When the summer comes, we barbecue atleast twice or thrice in a week. For today’s meal, we marinated the chicken and fish in an aromatic spice blend that had chili powder, garam masala and tamarind paste.  I love grilling for the fact that the entire cooking uses very little oil and on this day, we get to eat lot of veggies and fruits. Gladly when we were ready grill, the sun that was hiding behind the clouds popped out and  made my patio warm and bright.
I love the day when we grill as I need to do minimal work and my husband takes over the cook role. I call him a grilling pro. Here are few tips to get the grilling go right (in his words).
1.  Buy a good quality cooking spray. Apply a light coat of cooking oil prior to lighting the grill. You need to spray the oil before you switch on the grill. Please don’t spray it on a hot grill as the oil can cause flame ups and severe ones can cause injury too.
2. We bought a webber gas grill last summer and I would recommend gas grill over charcoal ones and also webber will be my choice of grill anyday. I am in love with my three burner webber gas grill and I am so glad that I invested on a long lasting one.
3. Most gas grills have an igniter switch for lighting the burners. First turn on the gas at the tank, then turn one burner valve on and push the igniter button to light it. Since today we grilled chicken, fish and corn at the same time, the temperature has to be maintained high.
4. Before placing the food, switch on three burners and close the lid and let the temperature rice gradually to 500F. Once it has reached the desired temperature, switch off 1 or 2 burners (its your choice).
5. Using a kitchen tissue/ hand towel dipped in little oil, I rub the hot crates with it. Then place my meat, corn and fish and cook them for 8 minutes without any disturbance. Constant opening of the lid we change the cooking temperature. So try not to open the lid often. Play around with the burners if the temperature goes high or low.
6. Once done on one side, flip it over and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until done. You want the meat to be tender and juicy.
7. After cooking, turn of the burners and gas tank. Clean using lemon wedges before you wrap the grill. Maintaining a clean grill is key for long lasting grill.
8. Marinate the meat/seafood a day ahead for better taste. I prefer marinades to have a thick consistency, so I use minimum amount of water.
9. For regular users, I would recommend investing on a sturdy BBQ tool kit and also on few accessories like fish basket grill, meat thermometer, basting brush.

This month’s theme for World on a plate is grilling ideasand I am sharing the recipe for healthy grilling. Today we grilled skinless chicken thighs, mackerel, corn and pineapple.  To wash them down my husband enjoyed a bottle of Korean beer and we stuck with organic carrot juice.

RECIPE
GRILLED INDIAN CHICKEN

Recipe: My husband
Serves: 4 ( 2 thighs each)

Ingredients
8 chicken thighs – Skinless and cleaned
1 egg
For the marinade
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paster
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt to taste, about 1 tablespoon
Little water to mix
Directions
1. Mix the ingredients under the marinade section and set aside.
2. Beat one egg and mix with the marinade.
3. Using a paring knife, make small incisions on the chicken. Using hand massage the marinade over the chicken thighs.
4. Cover the container and let it refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
5. Before you begin to grill, bring the chicken back to room temperature.
6. Pre-heat the grill and once the temperature reaches 500F, place the chicken and cook covered for 8-10 minutes on each side. Check for doneness before you serve.
7. Serve hot with onion slices and mint chutney.

RECIPE
GRILLED MACKEREL WITH INDIAN SPICES
Recipe: Self
Serves: 4 (2 each)

Ingredient
8 whole mackerel – cleaned, pat dried

For the marinade
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon chili powder + more if you like it spicy
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 tablespoon tamarind pulp
Salt to taste
1/4 water if needed
Directions
1. Mix the ingredients under marinade section and set aside. Add water if needed to get the desired consistency.
2. Rub them inside and outside of the fish and let it rest in the refridgerator for 6-8 hours / overnight.
3. Pre-heat the grill to 450 F and cook the fish using a basket grill. This prevents fish from breaking up. Cook 8 minutes on each side.
4. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

My mother-in-law is rubbing the spices over the corn before it hits the grill.
RECIPE
 GRILLED SWEET CORN WITH INDIAN SPICES

Source: Self
Serves: 4 (1 corn each)


Ingredients
4 large sweet corn – cleaned, pat dried.
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoon coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 half of a lemon

Directions
1. In a bowl, add the butter stored at room temperature. Mix in chilli, coriander powder and salt and squeeze little lemon juice.
2. Using the head of the lemon, massage the butter mixture over the corn and cook them for 6-8 minutes on each side. Before you serve, rub the roasted corn with the lemon head to add more zestfulness to it.

Additional notes:
1. Since we have grilled the fish with minimum oil, they are an ideal side for South beach diet phase 1.
2. Grilled chicken used here was made with chicken thighs which can be eaten in Phase 2 and 3 of South beach diet. You can follow the same recipe and cook with chickn breast and that is allowed in phase 1.
3. Grilled fish, chicken and corn are perfect while on a weightloss journey.

Paruppu urundai moorkozhambhu – A savoury curry with buttermilk and lentils

On a Sunday night weeks ago I got an email from Pola of An Italian in cooking in the middle west, a friendly and enthusiastic blogger friend who mentioned about forming a team of bloggers from different countries. Her email read “I am thinking of putting together 10-20 bloggers from around the world who would blog once a month about a recipe typical from their home-country. The idea is to have a different theme or ingredient each month and each blogger would interpret the theme according to her/his own culinary style“. I wrote back with a yes and was so curious to hear back from her soon. The next morning she wrote back CCing all the talented bloggers in the list, we introduced ourselves, started a conversation about the key ingredient for the month, followed each other in twitter and liked each other’s page in facebook and that was the beginning of new friendships. I hope to learn a lot through this friendship and hopefully we get to meet each other one day.

There will be one theme chose for a month and all the bloggers will cook and write a post about it on the last Sunday of each month. Today is our first post and the theme is Meatballs.  Since I had recently wrote a post on Kofta curry (meatballs curry), I took the liberty to post an vegetarian version of the meatballs with lentils. It’s called Parruppu urundai moor kozhambhu (Steamed lentil balls cooked in a yogurt sauce)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: MY INDIAN AYURVEDIC KITCHEN
Indians believe on the rule “Food is medicine and medicine is food”. The word Ayurveda means the science of life. Experts like Dr. Deepak Chopra define ayurveda as an ancient medical system with a holistic approach. Ayurveda is the most ancient form of medicinal system in India. The food is developed as per your body type called doshas. It is similar of the concept of  personalized medicine. Cooking certain spices and herbs together promotes the body’s own healing properties. India being a tropical country, excessive warmth in the body is believed to cause many illness, so foods that will help in heating and cooling the body are prescribed by the elders at home who know ayurvedic approach of eating and healing. Foods like yogurt, buttermilk, ghee (clarified butter), honey, tender coconut water, rice, milk, water vegetables like white pumpkin, chayote squash (chow-chow),cucumbers are cooling to the body. While mangoes, jack-fruit, meat, tamarind are heat inducing foods that should be eaten in moderation.
According to Ayurveda, a meal must have six tastes called rasas – sweet, sour, pungent, salty, bitter and astringent. Each taste has a healing property to it and helps to maintain a well balanced body. Everyone must consume each of the six rasa in moderation on a daily bases because lack of one or too much of one can upset the body’s balance called doshas.With this concept in mind, our elders created meal (thali) like this one – sambhar with tamarin and other spices, rasam with little sourness and tangyness, two sides that are hot, pungent or sometime bitter, cooling yogurt and sweet like payasam.

If you have noticed, a typical sambhar has fenugreek in it, that gives a mild bitterness to the dish, the peppercorns in rasam is a digestive and liver stimulant, garlic aids in digestion, lowers cholesterol and increases your metabolism, turmeric powder is used in every dish as they have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties and they also act as a diuretic. Ayurveda recommends the usage of coriander seeds for kidney ailments and liver disorders. The consumption of coriander extract can induce urination thereby help to reduce body fever. When used with fresh ginger, coriander seeds help to relieve respiratory tract infections and cough. Cumin seedsused in Indian curries are known to reduce superficial inflammation, aids in digestion and reduces flatulence. I remember my grandmother telling about the goodness of cumin seeds on female reproductive system. Chewing a teaspoon of it can help to reduce inflammation of uterus.

When I am launching the group “World on a plate” today, I wanted to share a post focusing on the benefits of Ayurveda and that Indian cooks are prescribing food not only for taste and flavor but also as best medicine for health. And this medicine has no harmful side effects. I am very proud to be a part of this ayurvedic heritage and very glad to have inherited this knowledge from my mother, aunts, grandmother and elders at home.
Moor kozhambu is a satifying South Indian side made with yogurt, fresh coconut and few staple Indian spices. Moor translates to buttermilk in my mother tongue Tamil and kozhambhu means something that’s thick as a curry/gravy. The authentic recipes uses peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds along with ginger, green chillies and fresh coconut. The use of lots of curry leaves will make the sauce taste even better. Generally this curry is made with okra (lady’s ginger), white pumpkin and taro but today I have made mine with steamed lentils balls.
Parruppu urundai moor kozhambhu (Steamed lentil balls cooked in a yogurt sauce)
Recipe: My mother
Serves: 4
Ingredients
For the lentil balls
1/2 cup toor dhal
1/2 cup channa dhal
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated coconut
3 tsp chilli powder
1tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbs coriander powder
1″ chopped ginger
10-12 curry leaves
2 tsp chopped corainder leaves
Salt
For the gravy
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 dry red chilly
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A a pinch of asafoetida
a few curry leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup thick yogurt
salt

Soak in 1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns – whole
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon channa dhal
Grind to a paste
3/4 cup fresh grated coconut
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 green chillies (use more or less according to taste)
1/2 cup water

Cilantro for garnishing
Directions
For the lentil balls
1. Soak the lentils in water for 3 hours. Drain the water completely and grind them into a thick paste without water but the blender gets stuck, add 1-2 tablespoon water to smooth them.
2. Add the onions, garlic, coconut, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, ginger, curry leaves, coriander leaves, salt.Mix well to combine
3. Roll them into small balls, about the size of Brussels sprouts. Steam cook them in a pressure cooker (without whistle) for 10-12 minutes. Switch off the flame, remove and keep aside. Click here to take a look at some pictures.
For the yogurt sauce
1. Soak the ingredients listed under the Soak section for 34 houres. Drain water an grind to a smooth paste with coconut, fresh ginger,green chillies with little water, about 1/4 cup to start with.
2. Place 1 cup fresh yogurt in a fresh bowl, add the above paste, turmeric powder and salt. Stir well to combine and set aside.
3. In a large cooking pan ( I use non-stick pan), heat oil and once they ripple, add mustard seeds.When the mustard starts to pop and splutter, add the dry red chilly, asafoetida, curry leaves. Saute for 2 minutes on medium flame.
4. Pour the yogurt mixture, lentil balls and cook low flame until it boils over about 5 minutes. This step is very key as you don’t want the sauce to curdle. When it rises up to boil, immediately switch off the flame and cover.  Do not let the gravy boil once you’ve added the yogurt. Add little water if it looks too thick. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with white rice.
Additional notes
1. Since its made with non-fat yogurt and lentils, I have eaten them as a warm soup during South beach diet phase 1.
2. It can also be eaten with brown rice, quinoa or even limited quantity of white rice in phase 2 and 3 of South beach diet.
3. Again because of the lentils and yogurt, it is ideal for women with gestational diabetes and also for those who are prediabetic and diabetic.
4. As mentioned in the earlier part of the post, the ingredients used in the cooking (cumin, coriander seeds, pepper corns, ginger, yogurt and lentils) are part of Ayurvedic eating habits and this dish is so nutritious and packed with goodness.

Butternut squash soup with garam masala and silken tofu

Did you know?
1. Butternut squash is a type of winter squash. They are in beautiful yellow color and the flesh is similar to the yellow pumpkins you find in India – orange and fleshy.  The orange color is because of the carotenoids, i.e. high levels of beta-carotene. Our human body can automatically convert them to Vitamin A. Butternut squash can help to fight against breast cancer.
2. It taste sweet and nutty and grows on a vine.It is one of the ideal vegetable that could be used in all the phases of South beach diet. It is rich in Vitamin C, Manganese, Potassium and Magnesium. Since it is low in fat and rich in fiber, it is an excellent source of food for heart disease patients. My doctor recommended taking butternut squash often as the folate present in it boost healthy heart and helps to protect against brain and spinal cord related birth defects in babies. Also supports the development of healthy lung in fetuses and new born.
3. Butternut squash has high antioxidant content which thereby helps to lower inflammation in your body. Conditions like asthma, cancer and arthritis can help lower the chance of getting these diseases.
It has been raining for the last few days and what more than a bowl of warm soup will comfort us on a cold night.Since it is a busy week for me and I have couple of unfinished business to finish over the weekend, I am heading straight to the post.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
Serves 6
Source: Self

Ingredients
1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash- peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter ( I used olive oil, just 1 tablespoon)
1 medium onion- chopped
1 carrot – chopped
2 celery stalk – chopped
1 teaspoon red chili powder
3-4 cups chicken stock (low sodium) or just plain water
2 teaspoon garam masala
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For garnish:
2 tablespoon silk tofu (beaten) with a teaspoon of cinnamon powderDirections
1. Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot add oil. Add onion and chili powder and saute for 8 minutes. Then add the carrots, celery and cook for another 8-10 minutes.
2. Add squash and stock/water. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot.
3. Stir and season with garam masala, salt, and pepper. You could fold in the silken tofu to make the soup taste creamier.
4. Transfer to a warm soup bowl and place a dollop of silken tofu on top.
Tips:
1. An ideal soup for South beach dieters.
2. Excellent source of good nutrients for pregnant women and all the more perfect for women with gestational diabetes.
3. Since I have used carrot in the cooking, the recipe is not ideal for South beach diet phase 1 dieters. Omit the carrot and cook.