A Berry Luscious dessert

This is an extremely simple, easy breezy and did I mention “healthy” dessert you can whip up in a jiffy! No measuring required, just eyeball😀

Depending upon the kind of milk and the quantity of sugar, you can keep this dessert low in calories, cholesterol and sugar!

121fc098-8a68-4022-a31d-ac1b18035552            b17e91c1-43f3-4602-b8dd-cb341236fb20

Ingredients

Frozen strawberries, blueberries and bananas.

Milk – just enough to help the fruits blend

Sugar or honey for a little sweetness

Vanilla – just a teeny bit

Method

Blend everything together for about 30 seconds or until the ingredients come together.

Serve right away with fresh blueberries and freeze the rest.

Note – You may also use frozen mangoes or peaches. As for milk, pick any kind you like – regular, 2%, fat free or any nut milk – anything you like!

I am not a fan of sweeteners so I go with low or no sugar.

Enjoyyyyy!

Crispy Spicy Tofu

Here’s a super simple appetizer!


Ingredients
16 oz extra firm tofu cut into cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
salt to taste
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Method
Drain as much liquid as possible from the tofu. One way of doing this is by keeping the slab of tofu between two plates for about half hour and intermittently draining the liquid. Next pat the tofu dry and cut it into cubes that are at least 1.5 inches long.
Mix the cornstarch, salt, pepper, paprika and sesame seeds. Dip each cube of tofu into the cornstarch mixture coating it evenly on all sides and set it aside.
Heat a pan with the oil. Put the cubes one by one into the oil and let them get golden and crisp on their sides before turning them gently on the other sides.
Serve them warm.
Enjoy!!

Kale Pesto

 

Amp up the pasta with this nutritious pesto from Kale – a low calorie, high fiber, vitamin dense (A, C, K) greens also rich in iron and calcium!!


Ingredients
5 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Method
Soak walnuts in water for about an hour. I’ve mentioned the benefits of soaking seeds, nuts or beans in The how and why of Sprouting . Chop garlic finely. Heat oil and add the garlic and kale leaves. Cook for 3-4 min on medium high heat. Lower the heat and add the walnuts. Add salt and pepper flakes and then cover and cook for about 5 min. If kale sticks to the pan, sprinkle some water. Let this cool and then blend it in a food processor.
This stays fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator or a week in the freezer.
You can enjoy this pesto in pasta or maybe even on toast or salads.

Hello Summer! Wild Rice and Lentil Salad

An earthy, crunchy, sweet salad for summer!

preview (7)

Ingredients

1/2 cup wild rice

1/2 cup brown lentils

1 red bell pepper chopped

1 medium sized carrot chopped

1 tomato de seeded and chopped

3/4 cup chopped cucumbers

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon finely chopped serrano pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds

Lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Soak the wild rice and lentils in hot water separately for 30 minutes. Drain them. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to wild rice and 1 cup water to the lentils in separate saucepans. Bring them to a boil. Lower the heat and let the rice cook until most of the water has evaporated. Then cover it and cook in lowest heat until rice has cooked. Note – wild rice takes longer than regular rice to cook.

Lower the heat in lentils and cook until soft but not mushy.

While the rice and lentils are cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients together except the salt, lemon juice and olive oil.

Drain the lentils and let it cool to room temperature along with the rice. Add these to the vegetable mixture. Now add the salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Combine everything gently.

Serve as it is and Enjoy😋

NOTE: Cooking wild rice takes some practice so don’t feel discouraged if your rice turns out a little mushy (as mine did). Spread this rice in a thin layer on a plate and let it cool for about 30 minutes. By this time rice loses its mushiness (if any) and holds its texture and shape when stirred together with the rest of the ingredients.

If there’s another way to cook wild rice please share!

Surya Namaskar : a yoga practice

What is Surya Namaskar?
Does it help lose weight?
Is it “cardio” enough?

SURYA NAMASKAR is a yoga practice that comprises of a set / round of 12 poses that are performed rhythmically in a certain order.
Yes! it does help lose extra pounds. One round burns about 13.9 calories.
And it does raise your heart rate also.
BUT if you’ve never tried yoga before, try a couple of classes (maybe at your local gym) to see if it’s your thing AND do consult your physician before trying any new exercises if you have health issues.

SURYA = Sun & NAMASKAR = Salutation

preview (11)
It’s best to start small and build it gradually. You can start with 1 round, take a little rest and complete the second round. As soon as you begin to feel tired, stop and rest.
Round 1
Asana 1 – Pranamasana / Prayer Pose
Stand straight with your feet together and hands joined against your chest in a prayer position. Breathe in and breathe out.
Asana 2 – Hastauttanasana / Raised hands pose
As you breathe in, raise your arms towards the sky. You may bend slightly backward as you do this.
Asana 3 – Hasta Padasana / Hand to Foot Pose
Breathing out, bring your arms down to your feet. For those who find this difficult, you can reach as far as possible and can even bend your knees.
Asana 4 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana / Equestrian pose
As you breathe in, stretch your left leg as far back as possible and bring up your right knee with palms touching the floor.
Asana 5 – Dandasana / Stick Pose
Breathing out, push your right leg back and bring your body in a straight line with arms perpendicular to the floor, as if you are doing a push-up.
Asana 6 – Ashtanga Namaskar / 8 point salutation
Breathe in and lie straight with the 8 points – your feet, hands, knees, chest, and chin touching the floor and the hips raised slightly. Breathe out.
Asana 7 – Bhujangasana / Cobra Pose
As you breathe in, raise your chest upwards with elbows bent and hands touching the floor.
Asana 8 – Parvatasana / Mountain or Downward facing dog pose
Breathing out, raise your hips up and head and chest down in an inverted V position.
Asana 9 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana (asana 4)
As you breathe in, stretch your left leg as far back as possible and bring up your right knee with palms touching the floor.
Asana 10 – Hastapadasana (asana 3)
Breathing out, bring your arms down to your feet. For those who find this difficult, you can reach as far as possible and can even bend your knees.
Asana 11 – Hastauttasana (asana 2)
As you breathe in, raise your arms towards the sky. You may bend slightly backward as you do this.
Asana 12 – Pranamasana (asana 1)
Breathe out and stand straight with your feet together and hands joined against your chest in a prayer position. Breathe in and breathe out.

Round 2
It’s the same as round 1 except that asanas 4 & 9 are performed with left knee bent and right leg pushed backward.
Take it easy, breathe and relax.

The how and why of Sprouting

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A super healthy way to consume beans!

Since spring’s just around the corner I thought why not share something healthy with all of you. I know this is a longish post but I hope by the time you finish reading it you’ll understand the science behind sprouting better and also might want to try it out in your own kitchen!

Science behind sprouting

We already know these foods are nutrient dense powerhouses. But for our bodies to be able to absorb all that richness, we need to first understand the phytic acid connection.

PHYTIC ACID is found in all plant foods in variable amounts. It’s not all that bad because it attacks cancer cells and is also an antioxidant BUT when consumed, it binds to important minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and copper in the gastrointestinal tract forming PHYTATES which can’t be absorbed and so are expelled from the body resulting in deficiencies of minerals mentioned.

Coming to the rescue is PHYTASE – an enzyme found in the plant food, that deactivates the phytic acid. Rye, wheat and buckwheat are high in this enzyme while oats and corn are pretty low.

We humans cannot produce this enzyme but we can use methods like SOAKING n SPROUTING to activate this enzyme.

Here is a simple and easy breezy way to start. To begin I assemble a few old pickle jars, poly mesh bags cut into squares and some rubber bands and some mung beans. That’s all! 

SOAK

1. Place the beans in the jar/s and wash them a couple of times with water until the drained water looks clean.

2. Pour room temperature water into the jar to completely submerge the beans.

3. Add some sea salt if soaking nuts, seeds and beans. This helps activate the phytase.

4. Cover the mouth of the jar with a square of poly mesh bag and keep it in place with a rubber band.

At the end of soaking period, you’ll notice that the size of the grains or beans has increased.

SPROUT

1. After the soaking period, wash and drain the water from the jar through the mesh a couple of times until water is clear.

2. Make sure that all the water has been drained out. Now slightly invert the jar at an angle over a folded towel or rack and cover that bowl with a cloth in a dark area of the kitchen away from direct sunlight.

3. Twice a day – morning and night or every 12 hours, rinse and drain the beans for the designated sprouting period.

This process removes some more phytic acid as well as releases the vitamins and makes the food a lot more digestible. As soon as the sprouts are ready, wash them one more time. I prepare only small amounts of sprouts at a time and cook them right after they are ready by gently boiling them in water OR by steaming them. I make sure that they are consumed in 1-2 days.

NOTE – It is very important to handle the sprouting process very meticulously using CLEAN hands, kitchen equipment and counter tops to reduce contamination and food borne illnesses such as Salmonella and E coli.

What’s the best way to eat sprouts?

Sprouts always carry a risk for contamination as they grow under moist conditions. So it is safer to COOK them before eating. They can be added to soups or stews or they can be sauteed in olive oil. You can 

Actually I choose to sprout only mung beans (I’ve got so used to them). But you can try black chickpeas also. The process is similar to that of mung beans. So give this a try this spring and share your experiences with me. Happy Sprouting!

 

A tiny cabbage called Brussels Sprouts!

Many of you will agree with me on this – Brussel Sprout is NOT appealing – in taste or smell!! But did you know that it is one of the healthiest veggies around? Here are a few of the reasons it is a Hero!

1. It is very high in sulfur-containing substances called Glucosinolates (also found in kale, cauliflower, and broccoli ) that impart the pungent smell and taste. Along with a high concentration of vitamin K – these protect the body from a state of inflammation. And as you should know that long-standing inflammation in the body serves as the basis for diseases like cancer.

2. It is rich in Antioxidants like Vitamin C and Manganese which fight the bad guys – free radicals and protect the body from cancer.

3. It is also rich in Fiber which not only supports digestive health but also lowers cholesterol.

4. Believe it or not, it also provides Omega 3 fatty acids. So good for the brain and heart!

Here’s a very simple and healthy recipe that I would like to share with you. 

IMG_20170911_115025068_2

Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients

1 12-16 oz frozen package Brussel Sprouts 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you like it hot)

Salt n Pepper to taste

Method

Microwave the Brussel Sprouts as directed. Empty and drain the sprouts. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Just as the oil begins to heat, add the cumin seeds and as they start crackling, add the sprouts to the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Remember, they are already cooked in the microwave! So all they need is a good coat of olive oil and that charred roasted look. Shake the pan a couple of times. Turn off the heat and serve them hot and sizzling with a dash of salt and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Snack away!!