Vegetable shopping at my local green grocer is one thing that I enjoy very much. It is pleasing to see fresh and colourful fruits & vegetables arranged beautifully. The seasonal goodies take the prized spot in the front of the stores and demand to be picked up.
My haul, today, included crisp apples, mushrooms, pumpkin and carrots. The mushrooms especially were fresh and I just couldn’t resist picking up some. I am glad I did because I was able to dish out these awesome stuffed mushroom cups.
These make great party canapés, lunchbox fillers or a snack. In this recipe, mushrooms serve as an edible cup filled with sautéed vegetables topped with cheese.
Mushrooms are low in calories and are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. For those of you on a low GI or low calorie diet, mushrooms are ideal as they have negligible amounts of fat and carbohydrate. For vegetarians and vegans, mushrooms are a good protein source. A little Google research also suggests that a mushrooms contain a specific type of protein called hydrophobins, which are exclusively found in mushrooms; it hydrophobins that render that beautiful texture to mushrooms. Cool, eh?
Here’s how you make these delish stuffed cups of goodness.
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. ☺
It is a pleasant day today and wanted something light and refreshing to eat. I was not up to some major cooking or even chopping for that matter. All I wanted to have was something quick and light.
After raiding the fridge and pantry, I saw some ingredients sitting pretty. There were all that I needed for this no-cook, no-bake bruschetta.
This idea is adapted from the classic Italian caprese salad. The main ingredients of the salad are tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. The salad is as fresh as it comes, and gets done in no time.
I had all the ingredients for the salad and a beautiful loaf of pane di casa to make this bruschetta. The sweet basil, tangy tomatoes, cheesy bocconcini come together atop bread slices for a delish snack.
With minimal chopping, and prep, this was all that I needed. I am happy so is my tummy. :)
If you are planning to feed a crowd, this makes for a great appetiser.
Tomato – 1, sliced thinly
Bocconcini/ fresh mozzarella – 4 to 6 pieces (or more depending on your preference)
Fresh basil - 6 leaves, washed and dried.
Balsamic vinegar / balsamic glaze - 1 tblspn.
Baguette/ pane di casa/ sourdough/ regular bread slices – 2
Olive oil – ½ tblspn.
Salt and pepper – To taste
Take the bead slice. I used pane di casa.
Brush the olive oil on the bread slices.
Alternating among the three, arrange the tomatoes followed by basil leaves and bocconcini pieces.
Drizzle some of the balsamic vinegar or glaze.
Season with salt and pepper.
- As mentioned in the ingredients, use any type of bread you like.
- If you can’t find fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, use grated or shredded mozzarella commercially available.
- You could toast the bread if you like.
- Before serving, you could also pop the bruschetta in the oven at 180*c for 10 minutes for an almost pizza feel. :)
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.
It is pure joy to consume snacks that are low in calories and carbs yet delish. The baked cauliflower tots are a delightfully guilt-free, tasty and nutritious snack. The vitamin-rich cauliflower is combined with cheese and complementing ingredients, and then baked till it turns a crispy golden colour. This snack is perfect people who are on a low carb diet, or have gluten intolerance; this is just the kind of snack that kids who fuss about eating vegetables would enjoy.
Cauliflower florets – 2 cups
Shredded cheese – ¼ cup
Onions – 1, finely chopped
Garlic minced/ garlic powder – 1 tspn
Breadcrumbs – ¼ cup
Chilli flakes (optional) – 1 tspn.
Dried mixed herbs (or any of your choice) – ½ tspn.
Oil – To spray or brush
Water – To cook the cauliflower
Salt and pepper – To taste
Grate the cauliflower florets or put them through a chopper to shred them.
In a small pot, boil water and put the cauliflower in.
Allow it to steam for 4 to 5 minutes with the pot covered.
Once done, drain the water and allow the cauliflower florets to dry till the excess moisture is gone.
Pre-heat the oven at 200*c.
In a large bowl, combine the steamed and drained shredded cauliflower and the remaining ingredients except oil.
Mix well till you can mould them into a little ball or oval shaped pieces.
Place those tots in a lined baking tray.
Spray some oil and pop them into the oven for 15 to 20 mins or till it turns golden brown.
Serve warm as an appetizer or as a side.
- Ensure there the mixture is not too watery, this will not aid in keeping the shape intact.
- In case you have an issue with excess moisture, add breadcrumbs, besan or cornflour.
- Add an egg or egg whites from 2 eggs to bind the mixture better.
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.
Yes, you read that right! This indulgent dessert goes on to prove that sinfully tasty goodies don’t necessarily come with a guilt factor attached to it.
This no-cook/no-bake dessert is rich in calcium, probiotics, antioxidants and vitamins.
Whether you’re packing this with your lunch, feeding a crowd or craving for a dessert indulgence, this quick-fix parfait is just perfect.
This yummy dessert keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days, which means you can make small portions of the parfait, refrigerate it and dig in when the sweet craving kicks in.
PS: With just 2 ingredients, it doesn’t get any better than this, does it?
No-fat Greek Yoghurt – ½ cup
Mixed berries (Fresh/frozen) – 1
Whisk the yoghurt smooth. Keep aside.
Blend a tablespoon of berries into a smooth, pourable mixture.
Take a medium-sized water glass or small Mason jars. Make sure it is clean and dry.
Add the yoghurt in the bottom.
Add a tablespoon of the mixed berries. Pour some of the pureed berries over the assembled ingredients.
Layer with some more yoghurt.
Top it with berries and the puree.
- I have used no-fat Greek yoghurt. You can use any other yoghurt of your liking. Flavoured yoghurts work well too.
- Include other fruits of your liking in the parfait.
- To add some crunch, add chopped nuts or toasted oats.
- For added sweetness, include some honey or sugar.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip made with chickpeas and a few tasty ingredients. Typically, hummus has tahini (sesame paste). I do not enjoy tahini so I decide to skip it from the dip.
This easy and versatile dip tastes great with crudités, pita bread, chips, salads and wraps.
Hummus is forgiving when it comes to flavours; it adapts to most ingredients you add to it. I wanted something spicy, and I used a fresh jalapeño for the spicy kick.
My favourite way to consume hummus? With crunchy crudités.
Chickpeas - 1 can or 1 cup boiled chickpeas
Lemon juice - 1/2 tblspn.
Garlic - 2 cloves, peeled
Salt - To taste
Olive oil - 1 tblspn + 2 tspns for serving
Jalapeño - 1, stem removed, deseeded and deveined
Paprika - 1 pinch
If you're using canned chickpeas, drain the brine, clean it and keep aside.
In a clean and dry blending jar, add all the ingredients except paprika. Blend it to a smooth paste.
If required, add a little more oil to aid the blending process. Avoid using water to grind it.
Scoop out the hummus and place it in a serving cup, drizzle some olive oil. Sprinkle the paprika, and serve fresh.
- If you can't find fresh jalapeños, used the pickled ones or green chillies.
- If you are not a fan of spicy dips, omit the jalapeños. Add flavourings like parsley, coriander or mint.
- I added paprika for the smoky flavour, you could add cayenne pepper, black pepper powder or red chilli powder.
Bread Upma (A bread-based savoury dish)
This is one of the easiest dishes to make for a lazy weekend breakfast or for a quick-fix weeknight dinner.
This super easy upma is my go-to dish when a pack of bread is nearing the end of its shelf life. It is also a good way to use up things when you're clearing your pantry and fridge.
Bread upma can be made with any veggies of your choice; I've kept it pretty basic as I did not restock my fridge.
Bread slices – 7
Onion- 1, finely chopped
Tomato - 1, deseeded, finely chopped
Capsicum - 1/4, deseeded and chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
Ginger - a small piece, peeled and finely chopped
Green chillies - 2, deseeded and chopped
Chopped coriander leaves - 1 tblspn.
Chaat masala - 1/2 tspn.
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tspn.
Chilli powder - 1 tspn.
Garam masala - 1 tspn.
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tspn.
Oil - 2 tspns.
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Water - To soften the vegetables
Lemon juice - 1 tblspn.
Salt - To taste
Cut bread into small cubes, and keep aside.
Heat oil in a skillet, and add mustard seeds. Let it splutter. Add asafoetida.
Toss in the ginger and garlic pieces. Sauté till the raw smell of ginger and garlic is gone.
Add the green chillies & chopped onion, and cook till onions turns soft.
Once cooked, add the chopped tomatoes. Mix well and cook for a minute.
To the mixture, add the dry spices except salt.
Mix to combine the ingredients. Sprinkle a little water to let the tomatoes turn slightly mushy.
Once the tomatoes have turned soft and mushy, add the capsicum pieces.
Mix everything well. Sprinkle a little more water, cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
After the said time, add the bread pieces.
Give it a good mix and ensure the bread is coated in the cooked veggies.
Allow this to cook for another minute.
Turn the stove off.
Pour the lemon juice over the upma and sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves.
Serve hot, topped with some sev.
- Use any type of bread. I have used multigrain bread slices.
- I have used red capsicum, use green, yellow or a mix of 3 capsicums.
- Use veggies of your choice to make the upma more nutritious.
- The same goes with spices; add or omit spices depending on your preference.
Often, I look for healthy snacking options especially for those post-workout hunger pangs. On one of my grocery runs, I saw these dates, almond and coconut balls; not only were they pricey but also contained obscene amounts of glucose and sugar in it.
Although very appetising, the thought of consuming sugar in that quantity put me off. So, I decided to make my own version with no added sugar. The necessary sweetness comes from the amazing dates.
With just two ingredients, this is a quick snack that can be fixed in minutes. You can store it an airtight container in the fridge for use later. This is perfect for pre/post-workout snacking, kids' lunch boxes and those midnight sweet carvings.
Note: If you are diabetic or insulin resistant, go easy on these.
Dates - 15 (I used medjool dates, use any soft date varieties)
Shredded desiccated coconut - 2 heaped tablespoons + 1 heaped tblpsn.
Remove the pits from the dates.
Put 1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut in a plate.
Chop the dates roughly into little pieces, and place them in a mixing bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut into the mixing bowl.
Mix the ingredients to combine well.
Make little balls out of the mixed ingredients.
Roll them on the desiccated coconut that we placed in the plate.
Put them in a clean, dry airtight container. Consume as required.
- Add chopped nuts and raisins for variety.
- Replace dates with semi dried apricots.