Pumpkin and Flax Seed Thuvayal (Chutney)

pumpkin, flaxseed thogayal1It is a challenge for me to include seeds such as flax seeds in everyday diet. So it feels good when I stumble upon a new idea to include something as nutritious as flax seed in as simple dish as thuvayal / chutney. Combined with pumpkin, this creates a super tasty and nutritious dish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Thuvayal is a vegetable mash; kind of a thick chutney normally made from vegetables and(or) coconut, and eaten with rice. Thuvayals are wonderful in that they make it super easy to include any veggie in your meal. And flax seeds add a wonderful texture to the thuvayal. You should try it to feel the richness of the texture.

Ingredients

Pumpkin – 250 grams (de-skinned and chopped)

Flax seed – 50 grams (roasted)

Urad Dal – 1 tablespoon

Curry Leaves – 20 numbers

Tamarind – a tiny bit

Dry Red Chillies – 3 or 4 (according to desired level of spiciness)

Oil – as needed

Salt – to taste

Procedure

Dry roast the flax seeds and keep aside. Cook the chopped pumpkin without water either by flashcooking* or in an open pan. Heat enough oil in a pan. Add urad dal, chillies, tamarind and curry leaves. Once urad dal turns golden brown, take the urad dal, curry leaves out and keep aside.

In a blender/mixer jar, add the cooked pumpkin, roasted flax seeds, tamarind and chillies. Blend to a smooth paste. Now add the urad dal and just whirr for a few seconds. This adds crunch to the thuvayal. Finally, add the roasted curry leaves for garnish.

pumpkin, flaxseed thogayal-collage

*Flash cooking is an OPOS® technique of cooking food at the highest possible heat for the lowest possible time. This produces dramatic results. It heightens the flavour, colour, and texture of the food, and promises greater nutrition.

pumpkin, flaxseed thogayal

Know Your Ingredient

Flax seed,also called linseed, comes from a crop which is also grown for its fiber, linen. Linen is the oldest plant fiber grown by mankind. Flax seed is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for weight watchers. This also helps in lowering LDL cholesterol and supports heart health.

Flax seeds are high in antioxidants. A component called lignan in flax seed supports the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in your gut, thus making your digestion better and immunity stronger. Flax seeds are the richest source of lignan. Sesame seeds come second only with about 1/7th of the lignans present in flax seeds. Lignans also help in treating hormonal imbalance. So, include flaxseeds in your everyday meal and reap its numerous benefits while enjoying its nutty flavor.

Type Seed
Form Whole, Dried
How to Buy Always check ‘best to use by’ date to ensure freshness. Prefer opaque packaging as light promotes spoilage in flax seeds.
Storage The whole seeds can be stored in a cool, dark place for a year. The ground / powdered flax seeds that are available in the market have to be refrigerated. When stored at room temperature, they go rancid within a few weeks.

 

Home made Peanut Butter

peanut-butter1

Imagine a morning, you snoozed your alarm couple of times and for some odd reason it failed to go off again. You wake up well past your usual time and have nothing ready to prepare breakfast. The kids are also in a sleepy mode and whine at the idea of plain bread toast for breakfast. I’m sure most of you can relate to this.

Being the super health conscious mom, I try to keep homemade peanut butter in the pantry. It comes in handy in these situations and gives a perfect kick start to a busy day.

Once you try it at home, I am sure you will never go back to the store bought version for three reasons. 1. It is extremely easy and 2. It is super tasty and 3. It has absolutely zero preservatives, additives or added flavours.

Ingredients

Peanuts – 1 ½ cups (roasted and peeled)

Salt – ½ teaspoon (or more to taste)

Sugar – 2 tablespoons (adjust according to your preference)

Oil – 2 tablespoons (I used peanut oil)

Procedure

Blend everything in a mixer or blender until smooth. If you like your peanut butter chunky, keep aside half a cup of peanuts before blending. You can add this at the end and blend for just a few seconds.

If you don’t get roasted peanuts in a store near you, you can roast them yourself by spreading on a plate and microwaving on high for approximately 5 minutes.

peanut-butter2

Know Your Ingredient

Peanut, also known as groundnut, is one of the healthiest foods.  Peanuts are a good source of vitamin E, manganese, niacin and folate. They are also rich in protein and monounsaturated fats. This kind of fat makes it a great food for heart health. Among a host of other health benefits, peanuts offer an excellent source of resveratrol, a polyphenolic antioxidant which helps in cancer prevention, reduced risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.  So, what’s stopping you? Go indulge yourself with a handful of peanuts.

Type Technically legume; a nut for common culinary purposes
Form Dried
How to Buy Look for a fresh pack which has been stored in clean, moisture free environment. Check if the nuts are whole and are not cracked.
Storage Store in a cool, airtight container. Peanuts can be refrigerated for longer shelf life.

Roasted Peanuts and Pumpkin Soup

I first tasted this soup in an Italian restaurant and the flavour was just mind blowing. I had to come back home and search all of Google to get the various versions. Finally, I came up with my own version which is not just awesome but is also healthy and made from scratch. Okay, I know I am praising myself here. But, try for yourself and do let me know. I’m sure, just like me, you too would love this soup.

pumpkin-soup-final1

Soup topped with crushed peanuts. Can you see charred bits?

 

Ingredients you would need:

Pumpkin – 250 grams

Roasted and de-skinned peanuts – 30 grams (or just a handful)

Garlic – 2 pods

Butter – 1 tablespoon

Onions – ¼ cup (sliced)

Oregano (or any Italian seasoning) – 2 teaspoons

Cream – 2 tablespoons

Milk – ¼ cup or as desired to bring the soup to the required consistency

Salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

Bread croutons – for garnishing

pumpkin-soup-ingredients

Main ingredients at a glance

Procedure

Chop the pumpkins into medium sized squares. If you like the smoked flavour (I love it!), char a couple of pieces on an open flame after brushing with oil. Keep aside.

img_20170117_151841

Char your way to glory!

 

Add some butter to a small 2 or 3 litre pressure cooker. Lightly roast the garlic and onions. Add in the pumpkin pieces. Top up with ¼ cup of water. Close the lid and set the pressure valve. Cook for 3 whistles on high flame. Turn off the flame and let the pressure settle.

Add the peanuts to a blender or mixer jar. Blend till the peanuts are powdered fine. Add in the cooked pieces of pumpkin (including the charred pieces) along with the onion and garlic. Blend till everything comes together. Add milk and cream to bring the soup to the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper.  Serve with bread croutons.

pumpkin-soup-final2

Roasted Peanut with Pumpkin Soup. just the golden beauty without char!

 

Know Your Ingredient

Pumpkin is a highly versatile vegetable. Just cook pumpkin pieces and blend till smooth. Your pumpkin puree is ready to go into a whole lot of dishes. Pumpkin is used right from our South Indian sambar and kootu through many global cuisines (it goes into the making of pies, breads, soups and even desserts). Pumpkin is one of the most nutrient-rich easily homemade baby foods in the world.

Pumpkin is super rich in vitamin A (which aids in better vision and eyesight). The vegetable, being rich in potassium, is a great source of energy. It is also rich in Vitamin C, which greatly helps with immunity.  Eating this vegetable is a great way to lose weight as it is rich in fiber and low in calories.

Type Vegetable
Form Fresh
How to Buy Check for firmness of skin and flesh. If you are looking to buy just a piece cut out of the whole pumpkin, ensure that it was cut not more than a few hours earlier.
Storage Store the cut pumpkin without covering/cling wrap in the refrigerator. This way, it will not rot. While using, just cut the outer dried out layer and use the rest. It will be as good as fresh. Pumpkin puree can be frozen for almost a month. If you have lots of pumpkin, puree might be a good way to store it.

 

Ragi Pancakes

Hi! I’m back with a kid-friendly recipe.

Breakfast is always trouble around here with the kids. They don’t like idli, pongal,or any of the other regular breakfast items in a typical South Indian menu. I would always be in a fix when I wake up without having planned for the day’s first meal. So, when I thought I will try something new from the dosa variety, I discovered Ragi Pancakes. And! Here is a secret! Because of the colour, my little one calls this choco pancake… and hence, I consider myself to be the winner in this breakfast war, having given them a healthy, yet tasty dish.

I tweaked the basic eggless pancake recipe and added jaggery as a healthy alternative for sugar… and here comes the recipe.

Ingredients

Ragi flour – 1/2 cup

Wheat flour -1/4 cup

Milk – as needed

Jaggerysyrup (jaggery, dissolved in water) – 1/2 cup (increase if you or your brats have a sweet tooth)

Baking soda – a pinch

Cardamom (powdered) – a pinch (can be substituted with flavourings of your choice)

Method

Add jaggerysyrup, milk and flavouring of your choice to ragi and wheat flour and make a thick batter of pouring consistency. Add a pinch of baking soda and give it a gentle mix. Pour the mixture on to a hot pan and let it take the shape of a circle (no need to spread the batter). Add a little butter if you are in for indulgence, or a bit of your favourite fat will do. Once cooked, flip the pancake to cook theother side. The pancakes turn to a nice deep brown and give a chocolaty effect.

I’ve added home-made whipped cream to make it more interesting.

 pancake with cream

Know Your Ingredient

Ragi (nachni, kezhvaragu, bhakri)

ragi

Ragi is a finger millet, which is high in protein and minerals (in comparison to all other cereals and millets). Being a good source of protein, it is perfect for vegetarians.

Ragi has high amounts of calcium and potassium. It is a great source of iron, making it beneficial for people with low haemoglobin levels. Low in fat and gluten free, ragi is easy to digest. It is therefore given as first food to babies in the form of ragi porridge.

Ragi possesses anti-diabetic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

Ragi and its flour

ragi with flour

Type Millet
Form Powdered
How to Buy If you are planning to buy whole Ragi, check if the packet is free from stones, dust and other impurities; If you buy whole millets, check for impurities
Process Remove impurities and clean with water and dry in sunlight for a day or till it gets completely dried.Make a fine powder by grinding it in a mixer or a mill.
How to cook Ragi flour can be cooked as porridge by adding it to water. Follow the procedure as in any porridge recipe.

Sprouted Horse Gram Salad

horse gram salad1

Sprouted Horse Gram Salad

Our menu always has some kind of salad everyday. To make the preparation easier and to introduce some variety, I’ve made it a practice to sprout different legumes in bulk and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Though the kids don’t like them in their original form, I try to hide them in a salad, or disguise them as kebabs or as stuffings inside dosa or roti.

The horse gram is mostly used as horse fodder, and it is believed to give the consumer ‘horse power’. May be that’s too much to say but the benefits of horse gram are needless to list here; and sprouting it only adds to the nutrition. It is known for its medicinal properties in Indian Ayurveda. It helps weight watchers as it is rich in calcium, iron and protein while being low on calories. It also helps lower cholesterol and is known to treat various medical conditions like renal stones, piles, cold, cough and fever.

Ingredients

Sprouted horse gram : 1 cup

Onions : 1 small (finely chopped)

Tomatoes : ½ (finely chopped)

Green capsicum : ½ (finely chopped)

Almonds : 3 or 4 (sliced)

Salt and freshly ground pepper : to taste

Coriander leaves : to garnish

Steam the sprouts in a pressure cooker for 5 minutes and toss with all the other ingredients, and you have a very nutritious and crunchy salad. The almonds add the nice crunch to the salad, but if you don’t like them with the other ingredients, you can always skip them.

It’s better to steam the sprouted legumes to make them easy on the tummy. Got to keep this in mind when you are giving it to kids. If you would like to use the legume as it is (soaked but unsprouted), you will need to cook it for longer (about 30-40 minutes).

How to make sprouts:

Wash and soak the horse gram in water for about 8 hours. Drain the water, tie it up in a clean muslin cloth, and hang this cloth bag in a cool, well lit place for another 8 hours. The gram would have sprouted by now.

sprouted horse gram

You can store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Sprouted Horse Gram

Type Legume
Form Sprouted
Storage If kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it would stay fresh for a week -10 days.
Usage Best to use a dry spoon
Tip Sprouted legumes have high moisture content. They can be frozen to extend their shelf life.

Horse gram tends to have many impurities. Before washing it, look for and remove any small stones. To be on the safer side, wash it twice or more before using. Even the sprouts are best washed before using.

The rules for buying are the same as for buying any other legumes. Watch closely for bugs and holes, and avoid packets with a powdery residue. Once bought, they can be stored in their own packing inside an airtight container (to avoid moisture) and they will stay fresh for months together.