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 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 !