Thursday, February 21, 2013

Healthy Wheat Puffs Chivda with Walnuts, Peanuts and Raisins

I often crave for healthy snacks! Between caring for a toddler, managing to do some work and keeping the house running, where is the time to eat! A nutritious snack around 3 pm is all I need to keep me going for the rest of the evening and while sweet snacky ideas abound (I am thinking muffins, cookies and cakes), savory snacks can carry as much a punch. I had puffed wheat cereal in my pantry (Arrowhead Mills brand) and decided to make a wholesome savory dish called "Chivda" with it. Its a crispy, crunchy snack and can be made with many different puffed grains.

I used:

1/2 packet of the wheat puffs lightly roasted in a pan on the stove to make them crisp. This can get tricky, constant stirring of the puffs is recommended to avoid them from getting burnt.
1/2 cup of walnuts.
1/2 cup of dry, roasted peanuts, unsalted.
1/2 cup of raisins.

For the 'tadka', you will need:

1/4 cup canola oil (this can be reduced to about 1/8 cup if you want).
4 dried red chillies.
5 curry leaves.
1 tsp cumin seeds.
1/2 tsp cumin powder.
1/2 tsp coriander powder.
1 tsp fennel seeds.
1/4 tsp asafoetida and turmeric each.
Salt and sugar to taste.

In a large pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds, red chillies and curry leaves. When the cumin seeds sputter add the fennel seeds, asafoetida and turmeric. Now, add the cumin and coriander powders. Stir briefly and add the nuts and raisins. Stir the mixture for about a minute, the raisins may swell, but that is perfectly normal. On cooling they will regain their original shape. Finally, add the roasted wheat puffs. Sprinkle salt and sugar to taste. Mix, stir well (at this point turn of the heat on the stove) and allow to cool. Store in a air tight container. This chivda remains fresh for about 10 days. It never really lasts that long in my house. Its gone in about three days!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Easy Dairy Free Orange Almond Cake

I often have requests for cakes that are either dairy free or gluten free. So I decided to make a cake with orange juice and egg whites. The result, a cake that was not too sweet, a perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea or coffee!

You will need:
1 cup of Odwalla orange juice.
Two and a half cups of Trader Joe's Multi-grain Baking mix.
2 tbsp powdered almonds.
1/4 cup cane sugar (brown).
1 tbsp honey.
1 tsp cake spice from Penzeys.
1/3 cup egg whites.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the flour, almond powder and cake spice in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and orange juice together, add the honey and sugar, mix thoroughly. Pour this liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing constantly to avoid any lumps. Pour the cake batter in a round cake pan or in an eight inch by eight inch, baking dish. Bake until a toothpick or a fork comes out clean when inserted in the cake. Note that this cake is not very sweet, and has a decidedly spicy flavor to it. Just increase the amount of sugar by another 1/4 cup if you prefer a sweeter version of this cake.

Cool, cut into pieces and serve with Chai or Coffee. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Just to continue with my theme on soups and stews to pacify a cold, here is another recipe that combines the sweetness of butternut squash and the slight tartness of gala apples. Again, this recipe is a hit with little children and I tend to show my toddler all the ingredients that go into the soup, especially the apples. Yum, yum. Need I add that butternut squash, is an all time favorite with most little children? I use frozen butternut squash on most occasions, given that I have a ton of things to do around the house. I also am extremely loyal to a specific brand of frozen butternut squash, which was introduced to me by a friend and is produced by Stahlbush Island Farms. It is by far, the best frozen butternut squash that I have found in the grocery store.

For the soup, you will need:
A quarter large red onion, diced.
One bag of butternut squash.
Two small gala apples, cut, cooked.
1 tbsp butter.
Salt and black pepper to taste.
A handful of cilantro.
Two cups of water.

I normally cut the apples and cook them in very little water. I place the cut apples in a saucepan and cover them with enough water so that the apple pieces are just below the level of water.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan to just melt it. Now add the diced onions and saute them until they turn pink and translucent. Now add some black pepper, stir, and add the frozen butternut squash cubes. Mix the squash and the onions thoroughly. Pour about two cups of water into the saucepan and bring it to a boil. Simmer, cover the saucepan, and cook until the squash begins to melt into the water. Remove the lid and add the apples, cooking for another two minutes or so. Finally add the salt and chopped cilantro. Let the soup cool. Blend it and transfer it to the saucepan again. Heat it before serving. Enjoy this refreshing soup with some toasted whole wheat bread!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cauliflower-Onion Stew

Its flu season and everyone I know seems to have the sniffles! Being down with a bad bug is just awful and nothing makes me feel better than a hot bowl of soup or stew. Since I rarely eat chicken, I wanted to make a stew with vegetables that was full of the goodness of garlic and slightly on the spicier side to clear up the sinuses. So here is what I came up with, a simple stew made with cauliflower florets and onions. My little toddler ate it to, and asked for more. Here is the recipe and its super easy to make.

You will need:

One cauliflower chopped into florets.
Half a large onion, sliced.
Four cloves of garlic, crushed, sliced.
Sweet curry powder and bay leaves from Penzeys.
Salt and black pepper to taste.
Butter and olive oil to saute the onion slices.
One tbsp of brown rice flour mixed in a quarter cup of water.
Water to provide a base for the stew.

Use a large saucepan to saute the onions in about 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter. First, add the olive oil and butter to the pan. Once the butter melts, add two bay leaves and the sliced onions. The onions should sizzle if the oil and butter are hot enough. Now saute the onions until they are transparent. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic and onion turn a nice golden  At this point, add the cauliflower florets, stir them to coat them with the onions and garlic and add about 4 cups of water to the pan. Bring it to a boil, simmer and cover the pan to cook the cauliflower florets until they are just tender. This is when you add the curry powder to your stew. I normally add about 1/2-1 tsp but I leave this to you, vary the proportion to suit your spice level. Also add salt and black pepper to taste. Finally, add the rice flour and water paste to the pan, stirring constantly so that no lumps form in the broth. Cover, cook until the stew thickens and serve hot with rustic pita bread.