Roasted Phool Makhana (Roasted Lotus Seeds/Fox nuts)

Roasted phool makhana or fox nuts are my favorite evening snack. These are highly addictive and would definitely give popcorn a good run for its money. These yummy and crunchy puffed goodness slightly seasoned with spices is the healthiest version as compared to popcorn for your evening munching.

Phool Makhana is lotus flower’s seed and also go by the name Fox Nuts. These are grown in water and are largely found in India and also in Korea, Japan and Russia. These seeds are known to be highly nutritious and are used all across India in varied forms ranging from snacks, curries and desserts. The fox nuts are high in anti oxidants, high in magnesium, potassium and helps in controlling high blood pressure, it is high in fibre, contain very less amount of saturated fats, high in protein and are considered superior to dry fruits. All these health benefits definitely makes it a very good option as healthy snack for kids as well as adults.

This is a very easy and simple recipe that is ready in under 15mins. I still have to experiment using different spices and flavors. But feel free to add whatever you think might work for this recipe.

 

Ingredients:

3 – 4 cups of puffed Phool Makhana/ Lotus Seeds/Fox Nuts (you can easily find packets of the puffed seeds in any Indian Grocery store)

1 tbsp of ghee or oil (try using ghee it imparts a really nice flavor)

1/2  tsp of turmeric powder

1 – 2 tsp of chili powder (add more or less as per desired)

Salt to taste

Method:

1) In a pan heat about 1 tsp of ghee or oil. Once hot add the puffed fox nuts and roast them on a low to medium flame for about 10-12mins until the nuts are nice and crunchy. Once done remove them from the the pan and place it on a bowl or dish.

2) In the same pan add some ghee or oil around 1 to 2 tsp or more if you want. Once hot lower the flame and add the spices and salt and give it a nice mix. Only for a min or so…so that the spices don’t burn.

3) Now add the roasted phool makhana to the spice mix and give it all a good mix for few mins until the nuts are coated with the spices. Switch of the flame and its done. Once cool, store them in an air tight container.

Enjoy these perfectly healthy and crispy phool makhanas with your cup of hot chai or coffee.

So until next time….Happy Cooking!!!! 🙂

Baked Sorghum Flour Crackers/Jowar Methi Mathri (Gluten Free recipe)

In some of my previous post I have mentioned how I have embarked on a journey to stay fit and healthy and wrote a really long post on my struggles to maintain a healthy weight. Its a very touchy topic for me or for any woman for that matter. Hence sometimes I get carried away and I write whatever comes to my mind at that very moment because of which I end up with a lonngg post. Ok I should stop now…hehehe. 

Anyhow, since the past few months I have been making a conscious effort to stay away from refined sugar, anything that has all purpose flour and deep fried foods as much as I can. Its not like I don’t indulge in them once in a while but its a complete no for me on a daily basis. Somehow it can be a tad bit difficult to say no to some of my favorite fried Indian snacks like chakali, chips, bhajjis,  vadas etc…you get the idea right? :P. Also if anything that has a methi (fenugreek) in it then I can gorge on it endlessly :P. One such Indian snack is Methi Mathri which I love munching with a hot cup of ginger infused chai. Originally mathris are made with all purpose flour or combination of whole wheat flour and APF. These are also deep fried….Sighhhh. But if you are currently in a situation like me 😛 and are searching for a yummy baked version, then fret not. I have come up with the perfect recipe for thin, crispy gluten free and healthy baked version of these goodies. It is quite easy and fuss free recipe. Give this a try and I am sure you will love it. 

This recipe will yield around 30-40 mathris/crackers

Ingredients:

2 cups of sorghum flour/jowar flour
1/2 tsp of baking soda
Salt to taste (i used around 1/2 tsp of salt)
Warm water for making the dough
2 tsp of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
2 tsp of sesame seeds
1 tsp of carom seeds
1 tsp of crushed black pepper
4 tbsp of oil

You can skip the kasuri methi and instead use other herbs like thyme, rosemary etc.

Method:

1) Heat oil in a small pan. In a bowl add the sorghum flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Now add the hot oil. Mix in and rub the oil onto the flour with your hands. At this stage the flour should resemble the texture of bread crumbs. 
2) Now add rest of the ingredients that is kasuri methi, sesame seeds, carom seeds and crushed black pepper. Mix everything well.
3) Start adding warm water little a time till all the mixture comes together and forms a dough. I used approximately 3/4 cup of warm water. Gently knead it and cover it with a plastic wrap/clingwrap and let it rest for 10-12 mins. This dough does not much of kneading so do not knead it too much. 
4) While the dough is resting preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and place the oven rack one level below the top rack. Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep this ready.
5) Time to make some crackers. Divide the dough into two or three portions. Take a piece of cling wrap or plastic wrap and place it on your counter top or rolling board. Place a portion of the dough on top of it. Now place another piece of cling wrap on top of the dough and start to roll it with the help of a rolling pin. 
6) There is no need to roll it very thin else the dough will form cracks and it will be difficult to lift the crackers. Roll it nice and even as much as possible. Now remove the cling wrap from the top and using a cookie cutter or pizza cutter cut the crackers in any shape of your liking. I used a pizza cutter and cut it into small squares. Brush the crackers with a little oil on top. You may poke holes on the crackers with the help of a fork but you can skip this step. 
7) Gently lift the crackers with a help of a spatula (I used a frosting spatula) and place it on the lined baking sheet. 
8) Bake at 350F(180C) on a preheated oven for 25- 30 mins. Turn the crackers midway after 10 -15mins for even baking on both sides. I baked them for around 30 mins to get a nice color all over them. But 20 -25 mins of baking should be fine. However keep checking on them in between as different ovens can vary with respect to temperature. 
9) After baking transfer the crackers/mathris onto a plate and let them cool completely. They will be more crispy after cooling. 
Enjoy these baked goodies with a hot cup a chai or coffee. 

Amaranth and Dates Energy Bars (No sugar and no bake energy bars)

Long post Alert!!!! 😀 😛

Since the past few months (from the month of September 2015 to be precise, you will know if you have read my previous post about hiking) I have been consciously trying to workout more, cutting down refined sugar, processed and all kinds of unhealthy food from my diet as much as possible. Although i won’t say that I have completely cut down chocolates, cakes, cookies, ice creams, pizzas etc entirely but yes I am trying to eat in moderation and incorporating all healthy organic food in my diet as much as I can.

Being a foodie it becomes a bit difficult or should I say challenging 😛 to control what you eat and you tend to go off track very easily. It becomes even more difficult especially when you live in a place like US where you get the opportunity to try cuisines from all over the world. Believe me it was not that easy initially. But I have done this before and I tried to look back to the “old me” who was very much thin.

Few years back prior to my wedding I used to work a 9-5 job which also involved lot of traveling. I hardly bothered when it came to exercising and ate whatever I liked. The amount of sweets and sugary stuff that I ate during that period was extensive. Then came a day when I said to myself “that’s it”, I had to do something about all this weight. And that is when i decided to cut sugar, fried and processed food completely from my diet no sweets, no chocolates or ice creams. I started walking whenever I could and took stairs rather than the elevator to office. It took time but slowly and gradually after 6 – 7 months I has lost almost 10 – 12 pounds (5-6kgs). Only by cutting down on sugar and eating mindfully and in moderation, I had lost all the unwanted weight. I strongly disagree with any form of dieting. I continued eating our regular Indian food. But everything in moderation. My goal was not only on shedding all the excess weight but I wanted to be healthy at the same time. I reached my target weight and maintained it for a good 2 years.

Post marriage and after moving to US, after 3 years I yet again find myself struggling to stay fit and healthy. I have gained so much weight that this is the heaviest that I have been in years. And its definitely not a good feeling. No I am not interested in being a size zero (I love my curves) or shedding weight just because people started pointing out that I look fat. I want to look and feel healthy, I want to be fit physically and feel strong from within. All this weight gain has caused a number of changes in me like lethargy, lack of interest in doing anything, weakness, unhealthy looking skin, hair fall.. to name a few. Just imagine even after having all the time in the world (yea I am on H4 so currently not working hahaha) I did very little to stay healthy. The only time I lost some weight and stayed healthy was when we lived in Austin, Texas. It’s not like I didn’t want to, I think I was not motivated enough.

One fine day I read this quote on Instagram “Take care of your body, it is the only place you have to live”, that is when something in me switched on and I decided enough is enough. This powerful quote coupled with a strong motivation from my husband has been the driving force on my road to leading a healthy life.

To stay healthy we have to eat healthy as much as possible. . Well there are cheat days involved but even on those days I make sure I never go overboard. Cook your own meal, eat at home, homemade is always good because you know what goes in your food and you have complete control on what you add. Choose healthy snacking to fight the hunger pangs during the day. That is the reason why I always have dates, walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds etc handy in my pantry. Eat a handful in place of fried chips and other processed stuff to satiate your hunger pangs late in the afternoon.

Healthy lifestyle had led me to avoid all kinds of packaged stuff and that includes energy bars. I make mine at home. This way I always know that my energy bars are free of preservatives and all that sugar. Have you checked out my previous energy bar recipe? If not then click here.

My husband requested to make a completely sugar free energy bar. And this Amaranth and Dates bars are just that. Super easy, no bake and no sugar energy bars . They are perfect as a pre workout snack or you can even carry them in your purse when you are on the go for a quick energy refill.

 

This is a super easy recipe. All healthy ingredients minus sugar and homemade makes this energy bar a must try. If you don’t have amaranth at home skip it add more oats and nuts. Feel free to add your favorite nuts in this recipe and enjoy this healthy snack but try and limit yourself to one small bar at a time because this can be very addictive :P.

Ingredients:

1 cup of puffed/popped amaranth
1 cup of oats (traditional or quick cooking. I used quick cooking oats and toasted them on a skillet for few mins)
1 and 1/2 cup of crushed medjool dates
1/2 cup of unsalted peanut butter (at room temperature)
2 tbsp of goji berries
1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
1 tbsp of chia seeds
1 tbsp of flax seeds

All of the above ingredients used were organic.

Method:

1) Throw the pitted medjool dates in a blender and give a few pulses until it is gooey in texture. If you are using dates that are a little hard, soak them in warm water for few minutes.

2) In a large bowl add the crushed/pureed dates and peanut butter. Mix thoroughly.

3) Now add all of the above mentioned dry ingredients and mix everything until nicely combined. The texture will be such that you should be able to make a ball of the mixture easily.

4) Transfer the ingredients into a lightly greased 8″ x 8″ inch baking pan or any pan in which you can spread the mixture easily to make bars. I lightly greased the pan with some coconut oil.

5) Press the mixture with the back of a spoon and pack tightly in the pan. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 -2 hrs. And thats it.

6) Cut the bars in any shape of your liking and enjoy this perfectly healthy no sugar energy bars 🙂

Need more information on Amaranth? Check out the below link and get to know everything about this nutritious grain.
We have only one life and one body to care for, and we better do it right – Novak Djokovic
 
So until next time, stay healthy, stay happy 😀

Oats, Banana and Blueberry Pancakes…..Healthy and Yummy

So the other day i was randomly scanning through my pantry to check if there was anything that i bought and have absolutely forgotten about. Yes that happens quite a lot with me. I buy stuff with the intention of making something and then i forget :P. 
To my surprise i couldn’t find anything. I was just about to close the door of the pantry feeling good about the fact that this time around i wasn’t so absent minded after all. And then i saw it, sitting at the very far corner of the pantry, darn it!!!. I saw a box of  our very own old fashioned quaker oats staring at me. Hubby and I had bought it few months back and we did try it once but somehow didn’t like it. And i had also made cookies with them. I liked them but hubby didn’t. Sigh…..So how do i make him eats these oats?

Not wanting to throw it away, i started wondering what can i possible do with it. Oats is an ingredient which you can be easily incorporated in your daily breakfast or meals. I wasn’t in a mood to experiment too much so i just emptied the box onto to baking sheet, toasted it for 5 mins in a preheated oven at 350F, put it in a blender and made oats flour. Now this flour can be used in many possible ways. But i made very easy breakfast dish out of it. Oats pancakes. Just substitute the all purpose flour in your pancake batter with oats flour. 

Here is my recipe for healthy, yummy and fluffy oats, banana and blueberry pancakes:

This recipe makes around 7-8 small pancakes

1 cup of oats flour
1 large egg
3/4 – 1 cup of milk
2 ripe bananas (the ripe bananas gives sweetness to the pancakes and also flavor)
1/4 tsp of baking powder
Pinch of salt
Butter to grease the pan

1) In a bowl first mash the bananas with a fork. To this add the egg and whisk.

2) Now add the oats flour, milk, baking powder and pinch of salt.

3) Add milk gradually and check for consistency of the batter. It shouldn’t be too thick or too thin.

4) Heat a non stick pan or griddle. Grease it with little butter and spoon out the batter onto the pan. Make it as much big or small as you desire.

5) Add blueberries on top of the pancakes. Now flip the pancakes after 3-4 mins and cook it on the other side.

Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup (not too much :P)

The best part….once you cut into it, the blueberries will also be cooked slightly and it will give out all the juices creating a yummy jam for your pancakes.

Do try this recipe and let me know what you think. My hubby loved it and so did i.

Until then happy cooking 🙂

Date n Nut Balls….Healthy Sweet Indulgence

Craving for something sweet but healthy?

Try this super easy, healthy and nutritious date and nut balls.

Ingredients:

1 cup of pitted Medjool dates or any other dates as per your preference
1/2 cup of walnuts (you can adjust as per your desire)
Dry coconut flakes for coating the balls
2- 3 tbsp of hot water (optional)

Method:

1) Remove the pits of the dates and roughly chop them. Medjool dates are really soft and moist. If the dates you are using is a bit on the hard side, then soak the dates in 2 – 3 tbsp of water for 15- 20 mins.

2) In a blender/food processor, add the walnuts and pulse it 2- 3 times until the walnuts are roughly chopped but are not in a powdered form. You should be able to bite into the walnuts along with the dates.

3) Add the dates and pulse until the dates and walnuts combine to form a dough.

4) Make small balls of the dough and roll it in dry coconut flakes. Refrigerate for half an hour to one hour until set.

You can also try another variation of date and almonds, rolled in crushed pistachios or you can also try date with pistachios coated with almond flakes.

Veggie Quinoa…..Healthy and Hearty

Are you a vegetarian and want to include healthy protein in your diet? Are you looking for gluten free food to include in your diet? 

QUINOA… is the answer for all these questions. It is loaded with proteins and is gluten free. In addition to that, it is high in dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. So undoubtedly quinoa is called as the superfood. 
So here is my new invention (recipe)…..bored of the regular chapatti (indian bread) and bhaji (veggies) for afternoon lunch, this what i came up with:
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
1/2 cup Quinoa (anyone which is available, i used the organic tricolored quinoa)
1 onion finely chopped
1 tomato finely chopped
1/2 – 1 cup of chopped button mushrooms
1/2 – 1 cup of broccoli florets
1/4 cup of cottage cheese cut into small squares (you can also use tofu)
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1/2 tsp of chili powder 
1/2 tsp of cumin powder
1tbsp of minced garlic (u can also use ginger-garlic paste)
1/4 tsp of oregano
1 tsp lemon juice
Coriander leaves for garnishing
Salt and pepper for seasoning
For that extra indian kick you can also use garam masala 🙂

Wash and rinse the quinoa in cold water. Place 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1 cup of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Simmer then cover and cook until all the water is absorbed which takes about 15-20mins. You will know the quinoa is cooked when the grains appear translucent and the germ ring will be clearly visible on the outside edge of the grains.

In another pan heat the olive oil. Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. You can also add the bay leaf in the quinoa while its cooking. Add chopped onions. Saute and cook the onions for few minutes. Now add the chili powder and cumin powder and mix well. Add all the vegetables except the cottage cheese and mix well. Add oregano, salt and pepper for seasoning. Let the vegetables cook for about 5-10 mins. Add the cottage cheese and stir carefully without breaking them. Finally add the quinoa into the vegetables and mix well. Let it rest for about five minutes before serving. Serve hot with coriander leaves and a splash of lemon juice.