I am the traditional toast-for-brekkie or Indian food kinda girl. Have been for several years. You wouldn't have caught me having a smoothie for breakfast; anyone who'd try to sell me the concept of smoothies for breakfast would have a mocking remark about what a joke of a meal that was.
I couldn't be more further from the truth! I am going to blame it on my untrained palate that was treated to only spicy & savoury meal first thing in the morning.
Thankfully, that has changed and now smoothies have become a frequent part of my meal plans. I enjoy the convenience of them but most of all I love how I can pack in more raw fruits and vegetables in my day in smoothies.
Here is one of them I love and include often each week. Don't be put off by the thought of a green smoothie; it is delicious, nutritious and family friendly. If you're trying to convince your kids, tell them it's Hulk juice or something like that! ;)
Bhel puri holds a prized spot in the Indian street food list. This savoury snack is a combination of puffed rice tossed with vegetables, an assortment of spice powders and condiments.
To me though, bhel puri is a salad of sorts with the veggies, carbs, dressing and interesting elements. This can be made as indulgent or healthy, depending on your preference. With bhel, I tend to get naughty and add all the indulgent and deep-fried stuff. That is the best way to have bhel, no? ☺
This chaat or snack is made in many parts of India. My first taste of this chaat was when I was a little girl; my mum would make it on weekends for my sister and me. It was extra special to see her make some of the ingredients like the chutneys and sev from the scratch.
Bhel puri is famous in many parts of India, and is called different names in various regions. Some of the other names it goes by are jhal muri and churmuri. I have the variants in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru. I can’t really pick a favourite because each one has its own special touch, which makes bhel unique to that region.
So, I present to you my bhel puri. I unfortunately did not manage to get my mum to pass on her sev and papdi recipe while she was alive; however, on the bright side, the tamarind-date chutney in this recipe is almost similar to hers. ☺
Zoodles in Tomato and Basil Sauce (Spiralised zucchini pasta)
It’s official! I am in love with my spiraliser! This gadget makes consuming vegetables a very enjoyable thing.
Zucchini noodles AKA zoodles is one my favourite spiralised item. It is healthier, lighter and tastier alternative to pasta. With a fraction of the calories compared to regular spaghetti or other pasta varieties, zoodles makes a great pasta replacement for those on a low carb/calorie, paleo, grain-free and gluten-free diets.
This pasta dish gets done in no time, and packs a lot of nutrition. This is a great way to get kids who are fussy with vegetables to get a good serving of vegetables in their diet.
Zucchini (Large) – 1
For the Sauce:
Juicy cherry tomatoes (or regular tomatoes) – 1 cup
Garlic cloves – 3, peeled and finely chopped
Fresh Basil – 8 to 10 leaves + a few more to garnish
Tomato paste/passata/tomato ketchup – 1 tbslpn.
Olive oil – ½ tblspn.
Chilli flakes (optional) – ½ tspn.
Salt and Pepper – To taste
Trim the ends of the zucchini. I did not peel the zucchini, you could peel it if you prefer consuming the vegetable that way.
Spiralise the zucchini using the noodle blades. I cut the zucchini in half, and spiralised it with the small and large noodle blade. Keep aside.
Chop 8 to 10 basil leaves.
Optionally, you could cut the cherry tomatoes if you like. I chose to keep it whole to allow it to break down while cooking.
Heat oil in a skillet or pan.
Add the garlic, and sauté for a few seconds until fragrant.
Toss in the cherry tomatoes.
Keep stirring the tomatoes and garlic. Allow the tomatoes to break down and release the juices.
Mash a few tomatoes with the back of the ladle to make a sauce out of it.
At this stage, add the tomato paste, passata or ketchup and chilli flakes. Give it a mix. You could also add a few tablespoons of water to make the mixture thick and saucy.
Add the chopped basil. Give it a mix to combine the sauce and the herbs.
Finally, add the spiralised zucchini noodles, and stir for about a minute.
Once done, remove the pasta from the stove.
Place them in serving bowls, and garnish with basil leaves.
- I used a spiraliser to make zucchini noodles. You could use a mandoline slicer or julienne peeler that can do the job.
- Add other fresh or dried herbs of your choice to make the pasta flavoursome.
- You can skip cooking the zucchini and mix the raw zoodles to the sauce.
- Add other vegetables in the sauce to pack more nutrition.
- Sprinkle some grated cheese for added flavour.
When following a healthy eating pattern, the biggest challenge according to me is resisting a deep-fried and indulgent snack. I try and look for ways to keep my snack cravings at check without going too overboard often.
I prefer roasted snacks as they consume small amounts of oil, gives the snack a lot of crunch and renders the ingredients a smoky flavour, which is very appetising.
Talking about snacks, one of my favourites is a seed and/or nut mix. Seeds and nuts are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and good fats.
Consumed in moderation, they keep you full for longer while fixing that incredible snacking urge.
Pumpkin seeds or pepita is one of my favourite seeds. It tastes mild, is easy to digest and tastes amazing. Seasoned, roasted/toasted or plain, pepita never disappoints.
My pick for the best way to consume pumpkin seeds is to roast them in the oven or toast them on a skillet.
In this recipe, I have shared both methods with the chilli lime seasoning.
The combination of chilli and lime is a marriage made in heaven. The tangy notes are contrasted by the spicy kick all subtly balanced by the pumpkin seeds.
This savoury snack keeps well for about 5 days in an airtight container. Sprinkle this in soups, salads and pastas to make it crunchy and flavoursome.
Pumpkin seeds/ pepita – 1 cup
Lime juice – 1 tblspn.
Chilli powder/ cayenne pepper – 1 tspn.
Garlic powder – 1 tspn.
Salt – To season
Chilli-flavoured olive oil (or any oil of your choice) – 2 tspns.
In a small mixing bowl, add all the ingredients.
Combine them well so the seeds are evenly coated with the seasoning, oil and lemon juice.
Heat a skillet or pan.
Add the seasoned pumpkin seeds.
Keep tossing until the pumpkin seeds are golden in colour.
Ensure you don’t burn the seeds. Keep the flame medium-low if you find the pan too hot.
Once done, transfer the contents onto a dry container, allow it to cool.
Serve as a snack or sprinkle it on soups or salads for some crunch.
Pre heat oven at 150*c.
Line a baking tray with a baking sheet.
Transfer the seasoned pumpkin seeds to the baking tray. Make a single layer, and spread it out well so the seeds don’t stick together.
Place the tray in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes.
Once done, allow the roasted seeds to cool.
Transfer the contents onto a dry container.
Serve as a snack or sprinkle it on soups or salads for some crunch.
- You could do the same for assorted seeds, nuts or a mix of both.
- I used store-bought pumpkin seeds for this recipe. You could use seeds from the pumpkin, clean and dry them well, and follow the recipe.
- Add/ omit ingredients depending on your preference.
- I like my pumpkin seeds spicy, adjust the spices to suit your taste.
- I used chilli-flavoured olive oil, use any other oil or oil spray depending on your preference.
This one of the crunchiest and quickest stir-fries I have made ever. The crunchy bean sprouts is the star of this dish, and complements beautifully with other stir-fry ingredients.
Bean sprout has found a happy spot in Asian cuisine, and is used in various dishes like soups, salads, stir fries and as a garnish. This inexpensive yet nutritious sprout variety is made from soaking or rather sprouting moong/mung beans for a few days. I however, bought mine from an Asian grocery store.
These inconspicuous sprouts come with loads of goodness. This is a treat for weight-watchers as it is low in fat and calories. It also is a rich source of fibre. Besides that, it also is a rich source of B vitamins and vitamin C. Bean sprouts also come with a fair amount of zinc, iron, magnesium and other minerals making it ideal for young and old.
This recipe comes from a lovely lady in Singapore called Angel Tan. She also owns a fun blog very aptly titled Angel Laughs & Cooks. Her recipes are not just simple but come with a lot of love, and not to forget they are droolworthy. Her posts are funny, light and very easy on the eyes and heart. :) Do check out her blog: http://angellaughscooks.blogspot.sg/
Bean sprouts: 1 cup packed
Sping onions/ shallots/ green onions – 2
Red chillies – 2
Garlic – 4 cloves
Soy sauce – ½ tblpsn.
White or black pepper powder – ¼ tspn.
Oil – 2 tspns.
Salt – To taste
Clean bean sprouts thoroughly. Allow it to dry in a colander or on a clean kitchen towel.
While the bean sprouts are drying, peel and chop the garlic finely.
Trim the ends of the spring onions, cut the white and green parts at an angle. Reserve some of the green bits to garnish the final dish.
Chop the red chillies at an angle.
Keep the chopped ingredients aside.
Heat oil in a wok or skillet. To it, add the garlic. Stir fry the garlic a bit but make sure you don’t burn it.
Toss in the spring onion white bits and some of the green bits. Stir fry briefly to retain the crunch.
Add the red chillies. Give it a toss, and stir fry them for about 30 seconds.
Finally, add the bean sprouts. Combine the vegetables to mix well.
Drizzle some soy sauce. Add the pepper powder and salt.
Give it all a quick stir. Keep stir-frying all the ingredients for another 30 seconds to coat the veggies in the condiments.
Taste once to see if the dish requires additional seasoning. If not, remove the wok/skillet from the stove.
Sprinkle some of the green bit of the spring onion on top.
Serve immediately with your meals.
- This stir fry tastes great with eggs, on toasts, as a side for main meals, with rice and even with some noodles.
- Add/omit ingredients based on your preference.
- Angel also suggests that frying the bean sprouts in a little oil before stir-frying the other ingredients, gives it a very tasty finish.
- I used sunflower oil, you could use other oils of your choice to stir fry.
When two nutritious ingredients go into making a drink, can it be anything short of healthy? This is one such awesome drink that takes iced tea to a new level.
Chia seeds has gained popularity in the recent past, and rightfully so. These tiny seeds of goodness come with a host of nutrients, which are beneficial to the body. It is rich in fibre, Omega-3, calcium, protein, minerals and antioxidants. It is a great protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
The green tea is another nutritional powerhouse. It is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Although rich in caffeine, it is comparatively lower than other caffeine sources. Several researches suggest that it aids in lowering cholesterol.
This drink is not just energising, it is also a great way to hydrate your body in the tastiest way possible.
This recipe inspiration comes from this lovely blog called In Sonnet’s Kitchen. Check out her blog for some healthy, tasty and wholesome foods. http://www.insonnetskitchen.com/
Green tea bags (any variety or just about any tea works) – 2
Chia seeds – 1 tblspn.
Lemon slices – 2
Mint leaves – 2 to 4
Water – 2 to 3 cups
Place tea bags in a clean glass or Mason jar. Pour hot water into the container.
Allow the tea to steep for about 6 minutes or based on the instructions provided for the tea.
Discard the tea bags.
Now, add the chia seeds. Stir once.
Add the lemon slices and mint leaves.
Allow the drink to cool, and refrigerate it.
You can refrigerate the drink from anywhere between 2 hours to overnight. The longer you allow the drink to infuse, the more intense the flavour.
Optionally, you could sweeten your drink with honey, stevia or sugar.
Despise greens? Kale chips is a guaranteed way to make you fall in love with greens.
Ever since kale gained its ‘superfood’ status, kale chips has enjoyed the well-deserved popularity. I enjoy kale in this form the most. Move over, potato chips, this crispy, a crunchy snack is here to stay.
It amazes me how something not deep-fried tastes so good! It is super crunchy and so incredibly tasty. I made a big batch of this chips to keep me going while I watch one of my favourite TV shows – My Kitchen Rules.
Before I get to the recipe, here is why kale is considered a powerhouse food. It is one of the most nutritionally dense greens. It is loaded with anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is in fact it is one of those vegetables that has healthy amounts of Vitamin A, C and K. No, it does not just stop there; kale has the goodness of calcium to keep your bone health in tact. It is a low glycemic food making it perfect for diabetics. Want more? It is a great Omega-3 source for vegetarians.
Several researches suggest that this superfood has cancer fighting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Note: Kale shares its family tree with the likes of cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. When cooked, you may notice that it has a similar smell to that of the vegetables listed.
Kale – 1 bunch
Salt – To taste
Olive oil/ olive oil spray - Enough to coat the kale leaves
Paprika/chilli powder – 1 tspn.
Garlic powder – ½ tspn.
Pizza seasoning – To taste
Remove the kale leaves from its thick stems. Tear them up into small pieces.
Wash them thoroughly to ensure it is clean.
On a clean, dry towel, spread the washed kale to dry it out.
For a quicker alternative, you could run it through the salad spinner to remove the excess water.
Pre-heat oven at 180*c.
Once dry, add the kale into a large mixing bowl. Along with it add the salt, garlic powder and olive oil.
Combine all the ingredients to mix well. Ensure the kale leaves are coated well in the seasoning and oil.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Spread the seasoned kale leaves on the baking tray.
Place the tray in the pre heated oven for 12-15 minutes.
Once done, remove the baking tray from the oven, and allow the chips to cool.
Before serving, add the remaining ingredients listed under ‘Seasoning’ to the kale chips.
Serve with dips of your choice or enjoy it as it is.
- The oven temperature and times vary. Adjust it accordingly as you may end up with undercooked or burnt chips.
- I used chilli-flavoured olive oil. Use flavoured, plain or any other oil depending on your preference.
- I used the seasoning that I enjoy my chips with. Use any of your favourite seasonings to make your chips flavourful.
- Sprinkle some parmesan cheese or power, or any other cheese of your liking to make the chips more interesting.
This hot noodle soup is more like clean-the-fridge soup. Besides being a super convenient soup to make, it is a meal in a bowl with noodles, veggies and the works.
Add vegetables you like with noodles & some condiments, and lo! Your soup is ready to be chowed down.
This one-pot wonder is a perfect winter warmer and for lazy weeknight dinners.
Carrot – 1
French beans – 12-15
Celery (optional) – 2 stalks
Spinach – 1 small handful
Capsicum – 1/2
Spring onion/green onion/scallions – 1 stalk
Onion – ½
Cabbage – ¼ of a head
Garlic – 5 cloves
Ginger – ½ inch piece, peeled
Chilli – 1
Noodles – As much or as little as you like
Stock/water – 4 cups
Oil – ½ tblspn.
Soy sauce – 1 tblpsn.
Chilli sauce (red/green) – 1 tblspn
Vinegar – 1 tblspn.
Salt and pepper – As required
If you have mad knife skills or a knife ninja, chop the vegetables finely or at an angle. If you are like me, with average knife skills, use a chopper.
While chopping the spring onions, reserve some of the green bits for garnish.
Heat oil in a pot.
Add chopped ginger and garlic to the hot oil, sauté until fragrant.
Follow it up by adding the onions and the white part of the spring onion. Give it a good mix.
Once the onion turns soft, add chopped carrots and beans. These vegetables take the longest time to cook.
Keep sautéing them for about 3 minutes.
Toss in chopped cabbage, capsicum and celery.
Cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Add the items under condiments Mix it all well.
Add more of the condiments, if required.
Finally add the noodles and spinach; follow it up by pouring the stock.
Bring the soup to a boil, and cook until the noodles are soft.
Serve hot immediately.
- I used veggies that I had to use up in my fridge. You could add vegetables like mushrooms, bok choy, coloured capsicum, etc.
- Adjust seasoning and condiments depending on your preference.
- If you are serving the soup to kids, you could bring down the spice levels by making it mild.
- I used white vinegar, you could also substitute it with rice wine vinegar.
- I have not used thickeners like corn flour/arrow root flour as there is sufficient amount of starch from the noodles. You could use them to thicken the soup, if you don’t like it very thin.
What do you do when are sick and have very few ingredients in the pantry? Make some chilli garlic noodles.
A bad cold is all it takes to send your tastebuds hibernating; I needed to get it back in action with something spicy and that required minimal effort. This ridiculously easy dish saved my day, and kicked the insipidness.
Chilli garlic noodles not only are a lifesaver during a bad cold, it works great as quick fix weeknight dinner, or a lazy weekend lunch.
For me though, this is just what the doctor ordered. ☺
Noodles (any variety) – 1 packet
Water – To cook the noodles
Chilli flakes – 1 tspn.
Garlic – 8-12 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Chilli (optional) – 1, finely chopped
Oil – 2 tspns.
Salt – To taste
Cook noodles according to packet instructions, and keep aside.
I used quick-cooking vegetarian Hakka noodles; use any variety according to your preference.
Heat oil in a wok, add the chopped garlic.
Stir it in high flame. While doing so, ensure the garlic pieces get a lovely golden colour. Avoid burning the garlic.
Once done, minimise the flame to medium-low, and add the chilli flakes and finely chopped chilli.
Sauté it well enough till the raw flavour of chilli is gone.
At this stage, add salt if your noodles does not already include salt.
Give it all a mix.
Finally, add the cooked noodles.
Turn the flame back to high, and give it a brisk mix to combine all the ingredients.
After about 2 to 4 minutes, turn off the stove.
The chilli garlic noodles are ready to be served hot.
- I like my food spicy, adjust the spice levels to your liking,
- You could improvise by adding sauces, vegetables and condiments to suit your preference. However, let the garlic’s flavour dominate.
Nutty, sweet and oh-so-yummy just about sums up this soup. The combination of carrot and cumin is a match made in heaven.
This soup is easy-to-make, vegan, nutritious and tasty. Since the soup is cooked in a pressure cooker, it retains a lot of flavour without compromising on the nutrition. It is Vitamins and fibre-rich. This orangey goodness is great as a meal accompaniment or on its own.
Carrots – 4, peeled and roughly chopped
Onion – 1, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled and roughly chopped.
Celery (optional) – 1 stalk, roughly chopped
Cumin seeds – 1 tspn.
Cumin powder – ¼ tspn.
Coriander powder – ¼ tspn.
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Chilly powder – 1 tspn.
Oil – 1 tblspn.
Stock/water – 4 cups
Salt and pepper – To taste
Heat a pressure cooker, add the garlic and onion. Sauté the veggies.
Toss in the celery and carrots. Give it a good mix.
Add the dry spices, and mix well.
Pour the stock.
Cover the cooker, and allow it to cook for 3 whistles.
Allow the pressure to settle.
In the meanwhile, heat a pan.
Add the cumin seeds, and toast them until they turn brown. Ensure it does not burn.
Keep the toasted cumin seeds aside.
Open the pressure cooker, and using a stick blender, make a smooth soup.
If you do not have a stick blender, allow the soup to cook before you blend it.
Before serving, season with the toasted cumin seeds, salt and pepper.
- If you don’t have/use a pressure cooker, cook the soup in a pot. The cooking time, however, may be longer.
- Add/omit ingredients depending on your preference.
- Spices like nutmeg and bay leaf add a beautiful flavour to the soup.
- This soup is vegan-friendly; if you don’t have dietary restrictions, add cream or yoghurt to the soup for thickening.