Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Post: Relish some mouth-watering desserts and yet stay healthy

Here is the wonderful guest post by Sandeep Arora. Sandeep Arora is a senior chef who has been working as the Chief Chef in the top hotels of India for twelve years now.  He has written many articles on restaurant mumbai. In this article he is providing us with some valuable information on healthy desserts.


Many times we resist ourselves from desserts because of health reasons. But here is some good news for all sweet toothed people out there. It has been proved that desserts can play a role in improving your heart health. A few simple changes in the way we live and choosing the healthy options to eat can work wonder for your cardiovascular health and help you get rid of issues like heart attack and such others. A healthy diet for healthy heart does not mean depriving yourself from tasty dishes and following only boring and bland diet. There are plenty of lip-smacking dishes that are equally healthy and one of such healthy options is dessert.

A favourite of all dessert lovers, dark chocolate has lots of health benefits; it is loaded with antioxidants, reduces stickiness of blood, helps reducing blood pressure and enhances blood flow. All these aid to improve the cardiovascular health to a great extent. Dark chocolate that comes from plants is a rich source of antioxidants. The cacao beans from which the original dark chocolate is made is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

The people who are suffering from high blood pressure can find it great as it helps in relaxing the arteries and make it widen so that the blood pressure is lowered. It also helps to prevent plaque from getting built up and thus reduces the risk of heart attack. But before including chocolates in your daily regime make sure that it is only dark chocolate as most of the milk chocolates lack in high concentration of healthy compounds. As the healing benefits lie in the cacao bean, choose only those chocolates that come with high percentage of cocoa. To get the greatest health benefits check out the contents of the chocolate and be sure that it contains high percentage of cocoa and is low in fat and sugar. Above all, it is important to keep in mind that every good thing should be taken in moderate amount as too much of anything can be bad. So take consideration of calories and fat and reap the health benefits with dark chocolate.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Amelia's Empanada

Last week we had a fall break, followed by an exam. I know no one likes to enjoy a break if they were going to have a mid term exam after it. So, I and my friends Amelia and Emma gathered at Amelia's home to study. That was my first visit to Amelia's home (In fact, to a typical American home). Their house was decorated wonderfully, I just loved the Chinese arts and shell collections at her home. The house was located in a peaceful environment and all those bird sounds and beautiful fall colors attracted me a lot, apart from it she prepared a wonderful lunch. I tasted very delicious  vegetarian Empanada's (Especially for me)  for the first time. She also made some Chicken cheese Emapanada's too. This is not the sole effort of Amelia, her hubby also helped her in preparing these delicious Empanadas.  
Here is the recipe that I jot down from her.


Ingredients
For Empanada Dough:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour (Maida)
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 egg yolks3/4 - 1 cup water
Method:
  1. Sift the flour into a bowl. Stir in the salt and the sugar. 
  2. Blend the butter and egg yolks with 3/4 cups water. 
  3. Stir in the 1/2 cup of water/egg mixture, a little at a time with flour, until the dough starts to come together smoothly. Keep kneading the dough, adding more water/egg a little bit at a time as necessary, until the dough is smooth. 
  4. The dough will seem a bit shaggy until it has thoroughly chilled. 
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. (you can also store it overnight (or a couple of days) in the refrigerator).
  6.  Dough should be soft and smooth.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and roll into desired thickness.


For making Vegetarian Empanada -(Corn-cheese)
Makes 12 medium-sized empanadas.
  • 3 Cups Frozen corn- coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Broth (Or chicken broth)
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tsp Salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 can cheese
  • 1/8 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Directions
  • Heat pan on a medium-high heat, melt butter and cook onion until transparent.
  • Add  vegetable broth and chopped corn. Turn down to medium heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to soften corn.
  • Add flour and allow mixture to thicken.
  • Add cream, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  • Add fresh thyme, black pepper and salt. Mix well and keep it aside.  
  • Take the rolled dough and place the cooled corn filling on one side of the dough and close it, seal the edges by pressing with a fork. 
  • Top with egg wash and bake it at 450F for 20min or till the crust turn brown (check in between)

For Chicken cheese Empanadas substitute Corn with oven roasted chicken and vegetable broth with chicken broth. Me and Emma enjoyed this delicious Empanada's and now it's your turn. I also thank Amelia and her husband for sharing the wonderful recipe with us.   

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tofu Butter Masala (Healthy version of Paneer Butter Masala)



Tofu looks just like paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and it is tasteless. That means we can induce flavors by cooking it with the spices we like. Tofu is made from soy beans (mostly), it can serve as agreat source of protein, iron, calcium for the vegans and vegetarians like me. 100gm of tofu contain 8gm of protein, 350mg of calcium (35% daily value), iron 5.4mg (42% daily value) and it counts for 76Kcal. One cup of paneer made with cow milk contains 265 calories and 21 g of fat.. The same amount of paneer made using buffalo milk contains 292 calories and 23 g of fat.



Where  to find tofu?
Walmart: you can find near the fresh greens (Produce section).
Kroger: you can find in the frozen section. 
Publix: You can find it near greens and mushroons (Produce section).

I always love eating healthy and tasty food. This recipe satisfies my taste buds and it is healthy too. A duel combo. 

Ingredients:

Tofu cubes medium size-200gm
Onion - 1 medium-sized one, chopped fine
Ginger-1 inch
garlic cloves - 2
red chili-2
Sesame seeds (Dry roasted)-3ts
Coconut milk-1/2cup
Tamarind- half lemon size
Green peas-1/4cup
Dhania powder/malli podi/Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Cumin powder-1/2ts
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves - 1 generous pinch
cumin seeds-few
cinnamon stick-1 small
bay leaf-1 big
Turmeric-pinch
Curry leaf-10 leaves
Butter-1/2 stick
Cream - 2ts
Oil - 3 tbsp
Salt - to taste



Method:
  • Prepare the masala paste by grinding together tamarind+ sesame+ coriander powder+ cumin powder+ginger+ garlic+ kasuri methi + Onion. ( add little water while grinding, and make a fine paste).
  • Now take a pan and melt butter add bay leaf, cumin seeds, red chili, cinnamon stick, and saute it.
  • Add green peas and cook till they are done, then add turmeric.
  • Now add the prepared masala + curry leaf + salt + red chili powder+ coconut milk and cream and cook for a while. Add water if required.
  • Finally add tofu and mix well, cook for 10 min at medium flame.
  • Add little garam masala (if you like very spicy) at the end and garnish with cilantro.
You can enjoy this wonderful curry with roti/naan/rice. Hope you like my recipe. 
Tip: if you add mutter (green peas) to this recipe, it becomes Tofu mutter masala.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spinach Soya beans and Yellow peas curry-Healthy Recipe

Spinach is one of my hubby's favorite veggie. Spinach is also one wonderful nutritious veggie which can be used with any combo. Here, I used soy beans and yellow peas along with spinach. This turned wonderful and delicious. I am also posting the nutritional content for soy, yellow peas and spinach. This curry can be had with rice/roti.
Nutritional Information:

Spinach:                                           Soy Beans:                                     Yellow Peas:
 

Source:
http://www.oceanmist.com/images/spinach/spinach_nutrition.jpg
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/wp-content/uploads/UserFiles/Image/cooking/good/nutrition/fvdb/labels/Nutrition_Facts_Soybeans.jpg
http://www.quitehealthy.com/nutrition-facts/food-labels/labelL159741.gif

Ingredients:
Soy beans (Dry) -1/2 cup
Yellow Peas (Dry)-1/2 cup
Spinach washed and chopped-3cups
onion-1/2cup chopped
Ginger-1 inch
Garlic-2 cloves
Tamarind concentrate (Juice)-4tbsp
Garam masala-1/2tbsp
Coriander powder-1tbsp
Green chili-2
Red chili powder-1/2tbsp
Salt to taste
Mustard seeds-1/2tbsp
Cumin seeds-1/2tbsp
Red chili-1
Curry leaf- 1 spring(Optional)
turmeric-1/4tbsp
oil-2tbsp

Method:
Soak Soybeans and yellow peas together for 6hrs and pressure cook them for 2 whistles. Drain water and keep aside. Do not throw the drained water.

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and mustard seeds when they splatter add red chili and saute. Add onion, turmeric,green chili, curry leaf and cook till it is tender, meanwhile grind garlic, ginger and green chili together and add this mixture to onion. Close the pan with the lid, cook till the oil leaves the curry from sides. The add spinach and cook till it is well done. Mash cooked soy beans and yellow peas coarsely and add it to the spinach, also add 1/2 cup water (that is drained from beans) and mix well.

Finally add red chili powder, tamarind extract, coriander powder and salt to taste and mix well. Check for taste and cook till the raw flavor from spinach goes away. Turn off the stove.

Enjoy this curry with roti/naan/rice. Hope you like my recipe.




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Noodles Vs Spaghetti; Fried egg Spaghetti

Can you identify the picture below? is it Noodles or Spaghetti. I know, it is difficult to find unless you have tasted it. Noodles and Spaghetti both look alike but they have a big difference form the way of cooking, serving and eating. 

The main ingredient of spaghetti is wheat flour, but noodles can contain different types of ingredients such as rice starch, rice flour, potato starch etc., A good quality of spaghetti is prepared of durum wheat. Noodles originated from China, where as spaghetti from Italy. The way of boiling of noodles to different from spaghetti.  Noodles are boiled in hot water with out any addition of flavor, where as spaghetti is boiled in a salted and herb flavored (optional) hot water with few drops of olive oil.


Noodles are served after stir frying them along with the ingredients where as spaghetti is served with sauce on topping. Generally, spaghetti is had with fork and Noodles with a chopstick. 



Now, enough of the story about their difference and jumping to the recipe.
As mentioned above the cooking of noodles and spaghetti is very different  But, I treat them the same and some times cook spaghetti like noodles and noodles like spaghetti. I do not mind changing the recipes because all that matters is about satisfying our taste buds. Here, I made a fried egg spaghetti with spaghetti sauce.

Ingredients
Spaghetti-1/2 box (100gr)
onion finely chopped-3tbsp
green chili finely chopped-1/4tbsp
olive oil-1tbsp
salt to taste
pepper powder to taste
spaghetti sauce-2tbsp
ginger garlic paste-1/2tbsp
egg-1

Method:

  1. Take a deep bottom medium size pan and and fill it with 3/4 volume of water. 
  2. Bring water to boil and add 1/4tbsp salt, 2drops of olive oil and pinch of oregano/thyme (optional).
  3. Add spaghetti,  and cook till it is done (Make sure you are not over cooking it.
  4. Take another thick bottom deep pan and add 1tbsp of olive oil and heat it.
  5. Add onion and green chili and cook till onion turns transparent. 
  6. Add ginger garlic paste and when the raw flavor goes away, add spaghetti sauce and mix well.
  7. Keep stirring and cook for 2more min under medium heat. 
  8. Drain water from spaghetti and add to the pan, mix well till all the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
  9. Check for salt and pepper and add if required. 
  10. Now in the same pan move  the noodles to one side and create an empty space, break open egg and add it on the other side of the noodles.
  11. Cook till it obtains a omelet kind of texture, now scramble it  and mix with the spaghetti.
  12. Serve hot, Hope you like my recipe and keep visiting for more wonderful recipes. You can also make Noodles in the similar style. I used tomato, mushroom raghu sauce, you can use any kind of sauce or only tomato puree instead of sauce.      




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