Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review : Xlear SparX Candy

Its the season for celebrations and you know what that means, candies and sweets of all kinds..
Although I am not a tyrant when it comes to letting my kids have candy, I usually limit it pretty strictly.
There is a host of information on the net, various books and especially from pediatricians that confirms that sugar is bad for the human body; it has zero nutritional value. When Halloween comes around, I cringe at the amount of candy that my son lugs in!
So when I heard the words healthier candy, that almost sounded like an oxymoron !

xlear product

I was offered the chance to review Xlear SparX candy as part of the Moms Meet blogger program. SparX candy contains xylitol which is a naturally occurring plant based sweetener that has been proven to
improve dental health and strengthen tooth enamel. So not only is it not bad for you, its supposed to be good for your teeth ! Imagine that in a candy !!
My review kit contained two tubes of Xlear SparX candy in two different flavors. Now I had already had the opportunity to try other Xlear products containing xylitol, the Xlear Nasal spray and Xlear Spry toothpaste. I had positive experiences with both the products and was looking forward to trying out the candy.

The Xlear SparX candy is more like small mints. It has a refreshing feel and taste to it. It definitely does not give the overly sweet aftertaste that I get from some of the other candies on the market. My son loved these small candies and I didnt feel too bad handing him some! I would definitely offer these to other family and friends.
I have been reading more about xylitol and products containing this sweetener. Although the name sounds like some chemical ingredient, its a naturally occuring substance and is plant based. It doesn't interfere with the body's blood sugar levels or insulin production. This makes it safer for kids and adults on a sugar-controlled diet.The candy is available in Berry, Citrus and fruit flavors and doesnt contain any artificial flavors or colors.

Its definitely an option to check out when you are trying to buy some candy for your kids, be it for celebratory occasions or to give it in their lunchboxes as a special treat. The candy retails for about $1.49 for one tube.

You can find more information about the candy on their website and facebook page.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Healthy Spinach Rice

My elder son, who is all of 6 years old now, used to be a very good eater.
When other parents complained about how they had to sit in front of their toddlers, food bowl in hand, for hours together, I commiserated with them, but never really understood their dilemma.
Now that is coming back to bite me in the rear..He still eats pretty well,but I have a tough time getting the majority of vegetables into him, at least straight up..I have had to sneak in some into a few of his favorite foods - add frozen veggies to pasta dishes, chopping up big veggie pieces into tinier ones, etc.
When I decided to make a rice dish for dinner, the other day, I wanted to use some spinach puree so that it would make the dish healthier. On a whim, I also decided to use up some broccoli...In keeping with the green theme, i added some frozen edamame beans as well. along with these vegetables and some simple spices, the rice dish was pretty healthy and tasted good too. I wasn't sure how my son would receive this offering, however. Imagine my delight and my surprise when he gobbled it all up, with a hefty serving of plain yogurt alongside!

I plan to make this again, maybe adding peas, instead of edamame, or adding some shredded carrots for color. It would also make a nice lunch box staple. Do try.



1 C of spinach leaves
1 - 2 green chiles
1 - 2 cloves of garlic
½ inch of fresh ginger, finely chopped
½ C of broccoli, finely chopped
½ C of edamame beans
½ onion, finely chopped
2 - 3 C of cooked rice
2 tsp canola oil (or oil of your choice)
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander - cumin seed powder
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp juice of a lime
salt and pepper to taste


1. Puree the spinach leaves, green chiles, garlic and ginger with justa little bit of water.
If you are using frozen spinach, then thaw and drain completely before use.
2. Heat the oil in a medium pan over moderate heat. Once the oil is hot, add the spice powders and saute for about 10 seconds.
3. Saute the onion in the hot oil until softened. Then add the broccoli and the edamame beans. Saute until tender, but not mushy.
4. Add the salt and pepper and lemon juice and mix well.
5. Add the spinach puree mixture and stir until heated through.
6. Now add 2 C of the cooked rice and mix thoroughly with a gentle hand, so as not to crush the rice grains. Do a taste test. If it looks as if more rice is needed to even out the flavors, then add the remaining cooked rice and mix.

Serve with plain yogurt, pickles and/or papad (poppadam wafers) for a hearty, healthy and delicious meal :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eggless Coconutty Banana Bread

I love to bake..I mean, I am no expert, but I like to try out new recipes, especially when the results are yummy! I usually try and bake something every week, because granola bars and trail mixes can go only so far in satisfying my son's snack appetite.
This last weekend, I wanted to bake up some banana bread, because, you guessed it -- there were some pretty ripe bananas on my counter. I tweaked the recipe that I had for banana muffins and came up with a keeper..I have tried it out twice now and both time the entire loaf was gone within two days!


* 1 C Whole wheat pastry or whole wheat flour
* ½ C all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* ½ teaspoon salt
* 3 bananas, mashed
* ¾ C sugar
* ⅓ C light sour cream
* ⅓ C coconut oil
* ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
* ½ tsp ground cloves
* ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
* ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
* ½ C unsweetened coconut
* handful of chopped nuts
* handful of semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)
* a couple of drops coconut essence (optional)

* Preheat the oven to 350°F.
* Mix the flours, the baking soda, baking powder and the spices in a small bowl.
* In another bowl, add the mashed bananas, the oil, sour cream, sugar and essence, if using.
* Mix the wet ingredients really well.
* Add the dry ingredients to the wet, a third at a time and mix in gently.
* Be careful not to beat the batter to death, we want a light loaf, not a brick.
* Once all the flour has been incorporated, mix in the coconut, nuts and chocolate chips.
* Pour into a greased 9 X 5 loaf pan and bake in the oven for 50 - 60 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.
* Cool the loaf completely before slicing it.

Notes : 
You can substitute yogurt for the sour cream.
I added about 1/2 C of sugar instead of the 3/4 C in the recipe. If you want the bread to be sweeter, then you can add the entire amount.
For an easy vegan version, just replace the sour cream with tofu sour cream or soy yogurt.
The riper the bananas, the sweeter they will be and richer the taste of the bread. You could also use less sugar.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Instant Urad flour Dosa (Lentil flour crepes)

Our weekday breakfasts usually tend to be things that can be whipped up quickly and without too much of an effort..after all who has the time to spend time at the stove top,when lunch boxes need to be filled, clothes need to be handed out and backpacks need to be filled ?
But weekends are different, there is no early morning rush to be out the door and I can take my time in getting a healthy and tasty breakfast on the table.
This particular recipe comes courtesy of my mom. It is nutritious, filling and best of all, pretty quick to make. No grinding of dals and no overnight fermenting !


1 C urad flour
2 C rava (cream of wheat)
4 - 5 C of water
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp sugar
oil to roast the dosas

1.Mix the flour and the cream of wheat in a big bowl.
2.Add the salt and the sugar and mix thoroughly with the flour mixture.
3.Pour the water slowly into the bowl and using a wire whisk, blend it thoroughly, taking care to remove any flour lumps.
4.Add in all the water and make a pourable batter.
5.Heat a griddle or a dosa pan, whichever you prefer.
6.Pour a ladle of batter onto the hot pan and using the back of the ladle, spread the batter evenly to make a thin , circular dosa.
7.Add a little oil around the edges. Once the edges start browning, use a spatula to carefully flip
the dosa.
8.Roast the other side of the dosa for a minute and transfer to a serving plate.
9.Prepare dosas similarly with the rest of the batter
10.Serve hot with any chutney of your preference or you could try my coconut cilantro chutney (recipe below)

1.You might need to increase or decrease the amount of water, depending on how thick you want your dosas to be. But 4 -5 C will give you a well manageable batter.
2.You can buy urad flour at any well stocked Indian grocery store. Just ensure that it has not been sitting on the shelf for too long. If you have a mill at home, then you can grind your own urad flour from pearly urad dal ! I am still waiting for the mill fairy to take notice of me !!
3. I used the fine rava (semolina / cream of wheat ) available at the store..You could also try with the medium textured one.


For the coconut - cilantro chutney, you will need :
1/2 C dessicated fresh coconut
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves and tender stems
2 -3 green chiles (or to taste)
1/2  - 1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice or tamarind juice

Blend together all the ingredients in a blender or in the chutney jar of an 'Indian style' mixer.
This chutney will keep in the fridge for a day or two, but it tastes best if served fresh.
It can also be used as a sandwich spread and travels well.
Please use fresh coconut for the best texture and taste.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk - Review and Giveaway

My family and I have been consuming non-dairy milk for a while now..Initially it was just soy milk on the market.This was a boon for vegans and lactose tolerant people alike..Currently on the market,
however, there is a plethora of non dairy milks available, with such a wide variety for everybody !
Almond milk is a widely available and quite popular non dairy alternative. We use almond milk quite frequently. My kids drink it straight up, my husband uses it in smoothies and I use it in baked goods in place of dairy milk.

When I got the opportunity to try out Blue Diamond Almond milk as a Mom Ambassador blogger, I looked forward to it because I had always enjoyed the various types of almond milks on the market.Almond Breeze almond milk measured up pretty well to the other almond milks on the market that we had tried.It has a pleasant taste with a slight hint of almonds. We used Almond Breeze almond milk with our cereal, our morning oatmeal and in our smoothies. I also tried it with my coffee one morning and decided that the almond milk gave my coffee a gourmet taste !
Both my kids liked the taste. I would definitely serve this to my friends and their kids. Since there is no strong taste or smell to this milk, I am sure most kids would enjoy this almond milk.

A few points about the Almond Breeze almond milks that caught my attention :
* Almond Breeze is calcium enriched, providing about 45% of the daily required value in a single cup of milk.
* Almond Almond Breeze is available in original, Vanilla and Chocolate flavors as well as the unsweetened varieties.
* There is also an almond milk - coconut milk blend available.
* The milk comes packed in Tetra Pak cartons, which do not need to be refrigerated until opened. These cartons are recyclable and have a low carbon footprint!
* Almond milk has a lower fat content as compared to dairy milk, with an astonishing 60 calories per cup in its original favor.
* The milk is also soy-free and lactose free.
* It should be noted that almond milk is low in protein, so consumers should make up by eating other protein rich foods.

You can get more information about the brand and the product on the following sites :

All said and done, I really liked the Almond Breeze milk, because of its versatility, mild flavor and rich calcium content. That my family liked it as well was the icing on the cake !
Do try it with your family and let me know how you liked it !

To enable you to do just that, I am delighted to announce that I will be able to give away 3 vouchers to my readers, each voucher providing a free carton of Almond Breeze Almond milk (any variety)
Please leave a comment on this post telling me if you have tried non dairy alternatives before. Do include your email id. Please note that this giveaway will end on August 18th, 2012 at midnight and is available for US residents only.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Akki Payasa / Indian Rice Pudding

According to the panchanga or the Hindu Calendar, yesterday was the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. It falls on the third lunar day of the month of Vaishakha. Akshaya, in Sanskrit, means infinite, somethings that never ends. In a culture, where every event is performed after taking the auspicious moment into consideration, this day is at the top of the list.
According to legend, this is the birthday of Lord Parashurama and this is also the day when Lord Ganesha and Sage Vyasa started writing India's most famous epic, The Mahabharata. Another legend states that this was the day when the river Ganges descended to the earth from the heavens ! This day is considered to be a day to start new ventures. I also remember that many Indians bought gold on this day, even if in trivial amounts, because it was considered that gold purchased on this day would only grow and never recede :-)
Akshaya Tritiya is also considered an auspicious day by the followers of Jainism.
So much for legends and gold {sigh}
Although I don't remember my mother making any such purchases, however insignificant ( we were a strictly middle class family), I do remember her making some or the other kind of dessert to commemorate the occasion. I decided to keep that part of tradition going and made Rice pudding, Indian style.
It is a pretty straightforward recipe, not needing too many ingredients.


1 C rice  ( any kind will do - basmati or long grained)
3 C whole milk
1 C light coconut milk
1/4 C - 1/2 C sugar (according to taste)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 C mixed nuts (almonds , cashew nuts, pistachios)
2 Tbsp raisins
1 tsp ghee / canola oil
4 - 5 strands of saffron

1. Wash the rice and put it in a pot (preferably non stick) with the whole milk.
2. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the rice is cooked. If the mixture starts getting thicker, add more milk until its cooked perfectly.
Note: On hindsight and after conferring with my expert (my mom), I realized that I should have cooked the rice in water first instead of trying to cook it entirely in milk. This would have yielded a creamier pudding.
4. Once the rice is cooked, add the coconut milk, the sugar and the spices. Gently simmer until the pudding becomes creamy.
5. Roast the chopped nuts and the raisins in the ghee / canola oil and pour into the pudding.
6. Soak the saffron strands in a little warm milk and then mix into the pudding.

Notes: The pudding was pretty good and was enjoyed by my family. The next time, however, I am going to pulse the rice in a blender to get broken rice and then I will cook it in water before I add the milk and the sugar.  Do try out this pudding!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Annie's Homegrown Rising Crust Pizza - Review and Giveaway (3 winners!)

                                                This giveaway is now closed !
As a family, we are not big pizza enthusiasts. In a country, where the pizza industry is worth a whopping $30 billion and people eat around 350 slices of pizza every second, that might come as a big shock :-)
The biggest reason is because when I was growing up in India in the 80's and 90's, my parents were blissfully unaware of this pie. It was only after I started working in a software company that I got introduced to this Italian specialty.
After I came to the US, it was as if there was a pizza explosion ! There were pizzerias at every corner, lots of advertisements for various stores, pizza brought in for sustaining the software development teams during long hours at the office and even served at birthday parties ! Although I do enjoy an occasional slice of vegetarian pizza, I am not a very big fan. My son seems to enjoy pizza, however, so we either order in pizza or bake it at home so that we can control the ingredients that go on it.
The main reason that I am apprehensive about ordering in pizza is because I am not always certain about the cheese that is used. Specifically, the enzymes used to make the cheese - I am trying to avoid products containing rennet and its difficult to verify if a company uses cheese made using animal enzymes.
So when I got the opportunity to try out Annie's Homegrown Rising Crust pizza through Moms Meet, I decided to give it a try because I like most of Annie's Products. They are all natural, do not have any artificial flavors, colors or additives and the products specify that they use cheese made using vegetable rennet.
I picked up the 4 - cheese pizza from Whole Foods (The only other vegetarian option available was Spinach Mushroom and we are not that fond of mushrooms!)


I baked the pizza according to the instructions to get a crisper crust and 20 minutes later, my family and I
enjoyed piping hot pizza. My 5 year old really enjoyed his pizza dinner! We liked it as well. The crust was pretty crisp (I could have probably left it in the oven for a couple of minutes longer to get it even crisper !).
There was a sufficiently thick layer of cheese and the pizza was big enough for our family of 2 adults and a 5 year old. The one year old was sneaking in little bites of the crust after his own dinner ;-)

The overall taste was pretty comparable to pizzeria pizza, although I would have loved to have had more vegetarian options. I would definitely buy this when I wanted to appease my son's craving for pizza.
I liked that fact that all ingredients used were organic with 8gms of whole grain per serving and with 100% real cheese made from milk not treated with rBST. There are 4 different varieties available and these can be purchased in the freezer section of Whole Foods at a retain price of $9.99

For more information about Annie's and their products visit the following sites :
Annie's Homegrown website 
Annie's Facebook page

And now for the giveaway ! Three readers will get the opportunity to try out any one of Annie's Homegrown Rising Crust pizza for free. They will each win one voucher for a free pizza which they can redeem at Whole Foods ! This giveaway will run till Apr 19th, 2012. The giveaway is open to US residents only. Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite pizza topping is and dont forget to include your email id ! 

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yoplait Trix for kids and a Giveaway !

                               This giveaway is now closed ..Congrats to katychicks for winning the prize pack

My family loves yogurt, especially homemade. My 5 year old relishes it and even my one year old likes it. Thankfully, neither of them is lactose intolerant. I usually prefer to make yogurt at home and very rarely buy the flavored ones from stores, because they have so much added sugar and other unwanted ingredients.
Sometimes, though, my son likes to have them and then I look for the ones that have the least number of ingredients and those with low sugar contents.
When I got the opportunity to review the Yoplait Trix for Kids yogurt, I was in two minds. The brand had undergone a change and had reformulated their yogurts to remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and HFCS. That was encouraging news !
They are available in 4-cup packs, with two bright and natural colors that can be swirled or eaten at once in every cup. There are 5 interesting flavors to choose from, to suit every kid's taste.
My son certainly liked these and enjoyed them at snack time and in his lunch bag.


I liked that the ingredients are natural and free from artificial flavors and colors. The added sugar content is also not too high. Although the total sugar content in each serving is 14 grams, some unsweetened yogurts have 11 grams of natural sugars in them..The one factor that would prevent me from buying these is that these yogurts have gelatin added as a thickener...Since I am trying to move my family away from products containing these animal products, that would be a deterrent for me.

One reader of this blog will win a prize pack containing all the things pictured above.
Just leave a comment telling me how your kids would enjoy their Yoplait Trix yogurts!
Please leave your email addresses so that I can contact you if you win !
The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S only and will end on Mar 31st 2012.

Please visit the following links for more information about Yoplait Trix Yogurt

Disclosure:  The Yoplait Trix Yogurt prize pack, information and coupon have been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spicy Tomato Jam

I had been on the lookout for a tomato jam recipe for some time.Although I had made jam a couple of times before, I am no expert when it comes to preserving fruit ! That's when I came across this recipe and it looked intriguing and delicious.. When my local Sprouts Farmers market had a 3lb/1$ tomato sale, I knew it was time to get busy in the kitchen...with jam, that is !
I made a few changes to the recipe. It turned out really well. I think this recipe is a keeper !


2 lb tomatoes (I used roma tomatoes) - chopped
1 C brown sugar
2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp ground roasted cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Reduce the heat and then simmer for about 1.5 hours until the mixture reaches a jam consistency.
3. Stir often to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This recipe yielded about 2 cups of jam...I poured it into a previously cleaned jam bottle with a tight lid.
Since we were going to use it daily, I didn't refrigerate it, but you could do that to extend its life !

1. I used brown sugar instead of white, because the brown sugar gives a depth of flavor to the jam. Next time, I will try with a little less sugar..I might have to simmer for longer to get the desired consistency.
2. I roasted the cumin before grinding it. The roasted cumin has a bolder, smokier taste.
3. Since my Indian palette can accommodate more heat, I used about 1/ 2 tsp of cayenne pepper...feel free to adjust to your taste and preference.

The jam goes well in PBJ sandwiches and also pairs up well with chapatis (Indian flat bread) and dosas (Indian crepes).
Do give this recipe a try..you will not be disappointed !

Have you ever tried any home made jam recipes ? Any observations or tips ??

Monday, March 05, 2012

Green Veggie Bhath / Spiced Rice with Green Veggies

Having browsed a significant number of blogs specializing in South Indian cuisine, I have come to the realization that rice dishes are very popular among us..Its probably got to do something with the fact that the southern states of India are the rice basins of the country as opposed to the northern states where wheat is primarily grown and hence consumed. Using up the previous day's extra rice before cooking up a fresh batch for the day's meals must have given rise to the idea of mixing up the rice with vegetables and various spices, thus creating a substantial lunch box item or a hearty brunch. (It should however be noted that in a lot of traditional households in India , in villages, especially, day old rice was not consumed..it was probably fed to the cattle of the house - the Ayurvedic premise being that freshly cooked food is always the best !)
I would love to be able to serve freshly cooked dishes for every meal without having any leftovers, but in this day and age, when time is at a premium and help is not always available, its not always practical ! 
Anyway, this creation is a godsend to the cooks who need to come up with a lunch or dinner idea on the fly with minimal ingredients and minimal expenditure of time and energy. With a few frozen vegetables from the freezer and a few spices from the pantry, you can whip up a delicious and filling lunch or dinner. Pair it up with a yogurt based raita or even plain yogurt , Indian pickles and a papad or two (in my house, it means roasted papads , not fried :D ) and you have a nice spread for yourself and your family.
My kindergartener loves this dish and doesnt mind it for his lunch box. My hubby likes to take this for his lunch as well. It travels well, can be easily reheated and keeps its flavor well.


Green Veggie Bhath / Spiced Rice with Green Veggies
Serves 2 -3 

1.5 C mixed veggies (green beans , green bell pepper, zucchini, etc) diced
2 C rice , cooked and cooled - white or brown
1/2 onion chopped or thinly sliced
2 tsp oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 Tbsp raw peanuts / cashew nuts
1 tsp  red chile / paprika powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dhania - jeera powder ( coriander - cumin powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
lemon juice
3 Tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

Method : 
1. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the fennel, cumin and mustard seeds and the peanuts.
2. When the seeds start spluttering, add the onion and saute till the onions are soft.
3. Add all the spice powders and mix thoroughly with the onion.
4. Add the diced veggies, mix in the salt, sprinkle a little water and cook until the veggies are tender, yet not mushy. You can cover the pan to hasten the cooking process.
5. Add the cooled rice to the veggie mixture and mix well with a gentle hand. You dont want a lumpy rice and vegetable mixture !
6. Mix in the lemon juice, sprinkle the cilantro leaves and serve hot !

1. If serving to my kindergartner, I make sure that the vegetables are not too large. My son seems to have an aversion to big vegetable pieces, but he doesnt mind if they are diced small.
2. I generally use the red chile powder, but you could try green chiles for an interesting variation.
3. You can use a variety of vegetables instead of the ones used here. Use seasonal vegetables for a healthier option !

4. We are certainly not a fat free family, although I do strive to keep our fat intake optimal. I believe that we do need a certain amount of healthy fats to keep our system functioning smoothly. I have used 2 tsp of canola oil in this recipe. Feel free to substitute olive oil or coconut oil. Reduce it for a lower fat option, or saute the veggies and spices in water for an even lower fat option !

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Heart Healthy Bulgur Wheat Upma

The month of February is generally anticipated for Valentine's Day ! Heart themed products abound everywhere. Love is in the air and the candy, flower and greeting card industry turns a brisk profit, I am sure !
It might however be a less known fact that February is also Heart Health Month. So its actually time to pay attention to our hearts , literally !!
Here are a few tips to keep that beloved organ healthy - :
  1. If you are at risk for heart disease ( heredity, life style, etc) , make sure you know your numbers. Check your blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol levels and weight. Having a base line makes it easier to chart your strategies for a healthier heart and hence a healthier life.
  2. Eat omega-3 rich walnuts everyday. These nuts help in decreasing the inflammation of the arteries around the heart. Obviously, having bowlfuls of nuts, however healthy, is not the route to go. Moderation is key. Experts suggest that 5 - 6 walnuts will help ensure that your heart functions longer and better. The fats in the nuts will also make you feel fuller faster, so that overeating is less likely ! 
  3. Give yourself a break from stress. Stress is all encompassing and ever present ! Whatever job you might have, whichever walk of life you may belong to, you will have some amount of stress. What matters is how you deal with it. Allow yourself some time to relax - cultivate hobbies, exercise, listen to music, anything that relaxes you. You will doing your heart a world of good ! 
  4. Pay attention to what you eat. Your diet is the most important way to regulate your health. In the current age, we all have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Research about all the different foods that are good for you and try different recipes with them. You never know - you might find several new favorites :-)
  5. Include strength training to your routine ( I am going to go out on a limb and assume that you will have a workout routine ;-) ) Weight training reduces fat and increases muscle mass. This will also improve your aerobic capacity.
Do consult your physician if you have concerns about your health. You can come up with a perfect plan suited to your needs and preferences when you work with your primary health care provider.

Source: WebMD

With these tips in mind, I would like to share a recipe with heart healthy whole grains.
I have used broken wheat, also known as Bulgar wheat to make this Indian breakfast dish, that is traditionally made with semolina.


1 C broken wheat / bulgur wheat / daliya
1 tsp oil of choice
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp jeera seeds
2 Tbps raw peanuts / cashews
1 - 2 green chiles
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 C mixed frozen veggies (carrots / green beans/ bell peppers / peas)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp coriander jeera powder (optional)

For garnish : 
2 Tbsp grated coconut
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1.Dry roast the broken wheat over a medium flame for a few minutes.
2. In a thick bottomed pan, heat the oil over medium flame. Add mustard seeds, jeera seeds and the nuts (if using). When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add ginger and green chiles and saute for a few seconds before adding the chopped onion.
3.Saute the onion until translucent. Then add all the spice powders and mix well.
4. You could choose to omit the spice powders for a less savory dish
5. Add the veggies, mix well and then pour in 2 cups of water.
6. Stir in the salt. When the water starts boiling, add the roasted broken wheat.
7. Cover the pan and cook over medium high heat for about 15 minutes.
8. Check periodically and add more water if required. The end result should be chewy , but not mushy.
9. Garnish with shredded coconut and/or chopped cilantro.
10. Serve with fruit for a heart breakfast or brunch!

I am sending this dish off to Sugar Free Sunday over at FlipCookBook.
How will you keep your heart healthy this year ?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Low Fat Coco Pudding

At the beginning of the year, I had promised myself that this year I would try and be more active on my blog...having been ridiculously slow with posts the previous years. But as the first month drew to a close, I realized that I haven't really made much progress ! My children's colds, then my own ...catering to the needs of an active kindergartner and a baby, cooking and cleaning and a few other activities leave me with no time...I also know that these are just excuses...other bloggers out there juggle far more than I do and manage to post wonderful , creative posts quite regularly..but it is what it is and all I can do is do better next month!
The following recipe came out of a low fat dessert cookbook that I had purchased from a library sale. I had perused all the recipes but had never cooked from it before...but one evening, while my son and his friend romped through the house, I felt like making a decadent pudding for them to snack on and chanced upon this recipe !
It turned out delicious and pretty easy to make...Of course , I did need to spend some time at the stove and then the finished pudding did need to be cooled a little in the refrigerator, but if you have an hour or more then you can easily delight your family and friends with this pudding.


Recipe :  Coco pudding
Vegetarian, Low fat

Ingredients :
1/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 T cocoa powder
1 can evaporated skimmed milk
1/2 C pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, evaporated milk and maple syrup. I didnt have any maple syrup on hand and used 1/2 a cup of sugar instead.
2. Bring this mixture to a low boil over medium high heat . Reduce the heat and cook until mixture thickens. This took me about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. A little flavoring goes a long way, so use the extracts judiciously.
4. Cool slightly and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Garnish with chocolate shavings and watch as it disappears !
The whole wheat pastry and the skimmed milk amps the nutrition content of this dessert.

The two young food critics for whom I made this pudding polished off their plates in a jiffy !
This is one recipe that I know will become a staple at my house.

Vegan / Dairy Free Option: Replace the evaporated milk with an equal quantity of non dairy milk like almond or soy milk. Unflavored and unsweetened milks should be preferred.

Gluten Free option: Replace the whole wheat pastry flour with a gluten free flour, preferably one with a mild taste, such as oat flour.

Do try this out and let me know !

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pohe / Seasoned Flattened Rice Snack

I come from a family of breakfast eaters...we always eat breakfast, no matter what time we wake up !! Traditionally though, the breakfasts that my mom prepared for us were usually savoury. It was only after I came to the US that I found out that people here preferred their breakfasts on the sweet side !
The recipe that I have today is one that we often had in the mornings before we went off to school. It is simple, quick to prepare and quite delicious ! Maharashtrians call it 'kanda Pohe' and in Kannada, it is called
'Oggarisida avalakki' . What it is , is a simple preparation of seasoned flattened rice, garnished with fresh coconut and cilantro leaves.


1 C flattened rice (pohe, avalakki)
1 tbsp canola oil (or oil of choice)
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp peanuts
1 -2 green chiles
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/4 C finely diced potatoes or green peas (optional)
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp fresh shredded coconut
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
juice of half a lemon

1. Soak the flattened rice in plenty of water for a couple of minutes and then drain completely and set aside.
2. Add the salt and the sugar to the flattened rice, mix well.
3. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the urad dal, chana dal, peanuts and the mustard. When the dals brown slightly and the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the green chiles and the onion.
4. Saute for a few minutes on medium heat. The onion should retain a slight crunch.
5. Add the turmeric to the onion mixture and mix well.
6. If using potatoes or peas, add them to the pan now and cook until the veggies are tender.
7. Pour the lemon juice and mix.
8. Add the flattened rice and mix thoroughly. Be gentle, though, you dont want the avalakki flakes to get crushed !
9. Sprinkle the coconut and the cilantro on top and serve hot !

Enjoy a plateful of this simple dish as breakfast or as snack with a hot cup of coffee , tea or beverage of your choice  !

Side Notes :
1. I have had this dish where the cook used so much oil that there was a layer on the bottom of the plate..Although this might increase the flavor and give a crunchy fried mouth feel, it is neither healthy nor necessary to use so much. Just use your judgement and make the dish a healthy one!
2. You can buy flattened rice in big packs in Indian grocery stores. There are two types - thick and thin...This recipe needs the thick variety...the thin avalakki will not be able to stand up to the soaking.
3. Try flattened rice made out of brown rice, if available in your store.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Usher in the new year with something sweet !

I hope your new year is off to a great start ! I spent a quiet evening with my family at home....couldnt even keep my eyes open to see the ball drop ! I guess having a 10 month old whose nightly sleep patterns can best be described as sporadic, will do that to you !
Coming to the recipe, I guess its been around for a long time, judging by the number of variations on the internet and how long people have been making it and delighting others with it :)
I only made slight changes to account for available ingredients.
Without further ado, then - here is the recipe for my magic cookie bars with oats crust!


1.5 cups toasted oats
5 tbsp butter (melted)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 can condensed milk
1 C shredded sweetened coconut
1 C mixed nuts of choice
1 C chocolate chips

1. The original recipe called for a crust made with crushed graham crackers. But since I didnt have any on hand, despite the grocery trip that I made the previous day, I had to come up with one made with oats.
I toasted 1.5 C of plain rolled oats on the stovetop and pulverized them in my mini food chopper after they cooled down.
2. Add the cardamom powder to the oats.
3. Melt the butter and mix with the oats mixture. I used a 1/2 cup of butter that the recipe called for, but I think a little less will do as well.
4. Press the mixture into a 9 X 9 or a 13 X 9 pan. The larger pan will give flatter bars and the smaller pan will give thicker ones.
5. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the crust.
6. Layer the nuts, coconut and chocolate chips evenly over the condensed milk.
7. With a spatula, press everything evenly so that the condensed milk seeps upwards into the other layers. Alternatively , some sites suggest that you could pour the condensed milk as the last layer over the other ingredients.
8. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until the coconut browns a little and chocolate chips melt a tad.
9. Cool , slice and serve !
10. If for some reason, you have difficulty slicing, refrigerate overnight and then slice the next day.

Be aware that this is in no way a healthy recipe :D ...With the condensed milk, chocolate chips and the sweetened coconut flakes, this is pure sugar overload. So make tiny slices and enjoy moderately.
That said, the oats crust added a nice crunch and a contrast to the sweet filling. This is a decadent dessert and should be enjoyed sparingly. But do try it at least once and share it with family , friends and colleagues and see their love for you exponentially increase with each bite !

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year ! May the new year herald the beginning of good tidings, an abundance of health and happiness and a celebration of everything that is dear to you !!