Monday, June 30, 2014

Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Healthy eating starts in the kitchen. I believe if I am trying to instill the benefits of healthy eating to the little guy I need to start the process in the kitchen and not at the dinner table. It is imperative that my little guy realizes the fact that cooking healthy food is fun, easy and tastes good. I try to involve him in the cooking process and within five minutes he turns the whole kitchen in to some sort of expedition and never sticks around to see the whole process. But still, it’s a start. He occasionally notices me frantically mixing up this and that and looks at me and says is that supposed to look like that? 

I was tickled pink when he picked up a Winnie the Pooh cookbook at the library and insisting on cooking something from the book. We poured through the pages and finalized on a shrimp and corn chowder. 

The original recipe calls for lots of butter and cream. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to teach him the idea of improvising and how substituting with healthier ingredients can still make the dish yummy. 

We made our improvised Grocery list- 

Olive oil instead of butter 

2% Milk instead of cream 

Chicken stock (low sodium) instead of clam juice 

I added few things of my own - ginger, garlic, turmeric and green onions. 

He was not convinced at first, but agreed to try my way, I guess with lot of trepidation on his part. 

The Improvised Ingredient list - 

1 cup of corn  

3 small potatoes - peeled and diced in to cubes

12 - Raw extra-large shrimp 

1 cup of chopped green onions 

1/2 cup of chopped coriander 

1 tsp Turmeric 

1 tsp cumin powder 

1 tsp Chili powder 

1 tsp Black pepper 

1 tsp grated ginger 

2 cloves of garlic 

1 cup of 2% Milk 

1 cup of chicken stock 


Heat a pan with 2 tsp of olive oil. 

Add the ginger, garlic and let them get cozy for a few seconds. 

Add the green onions and the potatoes. Let them fry for about 3 minutes. 

Add the corn and the all the spices - cumin, turmeric, chili powder and black pepper. 

Mix the ingredients together and let them fry for 3-4 minutes. 

Add the chicken stock, cover the pan and let it cook for 4 minutes. 

Finally add the milk and when it comes to a boil, add the shrimp and salt. 

Reduce the heat, cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes. 

The shrimp will curl up when they are done. 

Turn off the heat, add the coriander.

Let it sit for 10 minutes and it’s done. 

The spices add the much needed flavor to the dish and compensate effortlessly for the lack of butter and cream. The little guy slurped the whole thing and asked for seconds! He said Mama you sure know your way around the ingredients. Mission Accomplished I would say. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Finger Millet Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

As good as the phrase “Never Give Up" sounds, there were times when I left like I wanted to give up. Life has a funny way of teaching you to believe in yourself. It throws endless obstacles and disappointments, which make you question over and over if it’s worth taking all the trouble and wouldn't it be just easier to give up. I feel it’s OK to harbor this feeling but don't ever give in to it. Yes, I felt like giving up would be a much easier option than putting myself through endless misery with the so called light at the end of the tunnel nowhere in sight. Sometimes all it takes is one more chance, one more try, one stroke of good luck and you will get there. The hardest part is to keep going and not dwell in the misery of failures. 

I was determined to make a chocolate chip cookie that was healthy. A cookie loaded with chocolate and yet high on the list of nutritious wholesome food and here is the catch it has to be loved and devoured by the little guy. I tried and tired and every time the little guy rejected them. At some point he even said - Mama you should stick with your experiments in the lab, please make normal chocolate chip cookies. There I was all ready to give up, maybe I can’t get this to work and I did give up for a while, until I had a little epiphany from my childhood. Finger millet flour or as it is called Ragi was usually used to make pancakes, but once I remember my mom making some sort of cookies with them. I decided to try my luck one last time chocolate, finger millet flour and Almond meal. 

1 1/4 cup of Finger Millet flour 

1/2 cup of Almond Meal 

2 tsp chia seeds soaked in 6 tsp of water for 5 - 10 minutes - used as a egg substitute 

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips melted in the microwave with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 tsp cardamom 

1 tsp vanilla 

1 tsp baking powder 

1 cup of coconut oil 

1/4 cup of sugar 

Preheat the oven to 365 degrees Fahrenheit 

Mix the finger millet flour, almond meal, baking powder, cardamom and sugar together in a bowl. 

Add the chia seeds and melted chocolate chips and mix them together with a whisk. 

Add in the cup of coconut oil, vanilla and the whole thing will together like chocolate dough. 

Line a baking sheet with foil paper and drop the cookies on to the baking sheet and slightly press them with a fork, so they flatten a bit. 

Bake them for 12 - 15 minutes. 

The cookies will still be a bit soft when we take them out of the oven. 

Let them cool completely and they will harden. 

Don't bake for more than 15 minutes; they tend to become too hard once they cool down. 

After several rejections, I finally heard the words that were music to my years - “Mama I do like them". Proved yet again never give up - Ever. 

Linked to Kid friendly dishes at  cooksjoy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Almond Meal French Toast

We spend a lot of time, effort and energy trying to please the folks around us. It could be family, friends or the society in general. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all if you have the ability to bring a smile on someone’s face, why not go the extra mile and do whatever it takes. Over the years as a mother I realized that I only focus on giving and making the little one happy. One day I realized, what if I end up giving so much that I have nothing more left in me to give. All mothers are after all human, a basic fact which motherhood tries to overshadow. We may have carried a life inside of us once, but at the end of the day we are human. Is it OK if I hold on to bits and pieces of myself and not share them with anyone. 

The whole process of pleasing extends to the kitchen. I seldom cook a dish that I am the only one in the family who enjoys it. It seems like a bother to cook just for myself. 

Growing up French toast was my absolute favorite breakfast. It was not something I had every day. My mom used to make them occasionally and I used to look forward to those occasional morning indulgences. My little guy could care less for a French toast and I never make it. I had bought two loaves of bread because they were on sale and after a ton of peanut butter jelly sandwiches ran out of ideas. With all the new found knowledge of giving some time to me, I decided to make a French toast just for myself. Why not indulge in something  I enjoy. 

I had some almond meal and decided to coat my French toast with this extra layer of crunch. The Almond meal adds a subtle nutty flavor to the French toast which I absolutely love. 

Almond meal French toast - 1 serving 

1 egg 
1 Tablespoon Almond meal 
1 Tablespoon Milk 
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence 
1 tsp sugar 
1 tsp honey 
1 tsp cardamom powder
 2 slices of whole wheat bread

Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl. 

Heat a pan with  a tsp of olive oil. 

Dip the bread slices on both sides in the egg/almond meal mixture and fry them until they are golden brown on each side. 

Don't soak the bread in the mixture, that will make them soggy and they tend to fall apart when you fry them. 

The French toast takes me back in time, back when I was a kid devouring the toast while reading my favorite comic book. Fast forward to now, I devoured my French toast watching the little guy reading his favorite comic book and eating his favorite breakfast of what else the pancakes. 

I realized that, taking a bit of time to do something I enjoy is not a luxury, its a necessity. Its necessary so I never stop bringing joy to the loved ones in my life.

Linked to utterlyscrummy. and elizabethskitchendiary. at the No waste Food Challenge

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Quinoa with Lentils

I walked in to the kitchen and surveyed the mess piling up on the counter. I felt I waited long enough for the clutter to disappear on its own and it’s time for me to start acting like an adult and cleanup. I am a stickler for clean counters, however there are days when I feel unmotivated, reluctant and just walk away from the whole mess. Days like this I do wish I was a witch, with some control over the things in my life. May be I can twitch my nose or blink my eyes and things will fall in place. Oh well, it never hurts to have little fun with your imagination. 

I decided to get my act together and started putting things away one at a time and within minutes the clutter was all gone except for the last few morsels of some red Quinoa. It was about half a cup and I was confident that if I put it back, I will completely forget about it and may be in a couple of months it will turn in to something weird that I won’t be able to recognize and eventually see the light of the day in the trash can. 

I was planning on cooking lentils for dinner and without a second thought dumped the quinoa with the lentils. As soon as I did that, I realized I never cooked them together and had no clue how it would taste. Lentils are the quintessential ingredients of Indian cuisine. There are umpteen different kinds of lentils, in different colors and with different names. The one I was tinkering with Quinoa is called the Toor dal. The quickest way to cook them is to pressure cook the lentils with water. They can also be cooked on a stove top, by soaking the lentils in warm water for about an hour and boiling them with water. Add about 2 cups of water to 1 cup of lentils. 

1 cup of Toor dal 

1/2 cup of Quinoa 

Pressure cook them with about 2 cups of water. 
If using a stove top to cook the lentils, I would suggest to boil the lentils and Quinoa separately and mix them together. The Quinoa will cook faster than the lentils. 

1 tsp of red curry paste

1 tsp of cumin powder 

1 tsp of red chili powder 

1 tsp of black pepper 

1 tsp of dried Fenugreek leaves 

1 medium onion chopped 

2 cloves of garlic 

1 tsp of chopped or grated ginger

1/2 cup of water


Heat a pan with a tsp of olive oil. 

To the hot oil add the onion, garlic, ginger  and red curry paste.

Fry them for about a minute and add all the spices - cumin, chili powder and black pepper. 

Let them cook for a minute and add the cooked lentil and Quinoa mixture. 

Add the half cup of water, salt and cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and add the Fenugreek leaves. Serve it with rice, bread or just on its own like a soup. 

The dish was serendipitous, it stopped the Quinoa from future misery and I made peace with the fact that a little clutter now and then is good thing. The Toor dal has a a very subtle creamy texture when its cooked and the Quinoa with its nutty flavor mingled effortlessly in to the dish. The spices added the final magical touch. I may not clean the clutter with my magical powers, but I sure can create some serendipitous magic with my ingredients. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chia seed Pudding with Turmeric

I spend hours, days sometimes even years trying to accomplish a task. In the process I go through a plethora of emotions ranging from joy, sorrow to frustrations. When the task is finally accomplished, I look back and feel the joy of picking a path, working towards it and finally getting to where I wanted to be. Its not about getting to the finish line, its how you get to the finish line is what matters the most. Each and every one of us will eventually get to the finish line, but how we handle ourselves, the brick walls, the trials and tribulations during the process is what matters the most. 

Recently I have been seeing the chia seeds all over the place. I thought, there were flax seeds, hemp seeds and now the chia seeds. I wondered what was different or unique about these chia seeds. Pouring through the cyber space, I learnt that these seeds have the ability to absorb  liquids almost 10 -12 times of their weight.  This makes them  ideal for puddings. The chia seeds are also used as egg substitutes because they turn all gooey and yolk like once they absorb the water.

Having tried these seeds in smoothies, I wanted to try out a pudding. I am not a big fan of puddings, but the thought of having a healthy pudding was way too tempting to pass. The fist time I made the pudding it was way too thick. The second time it kind of worked but I was not really paying attention to the amount of milk and chia seeds. The third time was the charm.

The pudding has a small amount of Turmeric. Turmeric has lots of goodness in it and is not just meant for its rendering a yellow color palette. I usually drink a Turmeric Smoothie and played with the idea of adding it to a pudding.

The whole process takes about less than 5 minutes and then you wait for couple of hours for the chia seeds to get cozy with the liquids.

1 cup of  2% Milk

3 Tablespoons Raw Honey

1 tsp cardamom powder

1/2 cup of Almonds soaked for about an hour or overnight

1/4 tsp of Turmeric

1 tsp of Almond extract

and finally 1/2 cup of Chia seeds.

In a blender blend together the Milk, honey,  almonds, almond extract, turmeric and cardamom.

Add the mixture to a bowl, the whole mixture will be a little over 1 cup.

Add in the 1/2 cup of chia seeds and whisk them thoroughly.

cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour or over night.

The pudding gets a little thick after overnight refrigeration. I add couple of tablespoons of water or milk to make it thin.

Top it off with your favorite fruit. I love to have this with strawberries and some honey drizzled on top.

You can also add your favorite yogurt, nuts or anything that pleases you.

Despite my love-hate relationship with puddings, this whole process of discovering the seed and succeeding in creating something edible made me fall in love with this pudding.

Linked to bunnyeatsdesign. at Our Growing Edge an event which inspires food bloggers to try out new things, hosted by mykitchenoflove.

cookinwluvMade with Love Mondays

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gluten Free Carrot Pancakes with Caraway seeds

Of all the abilities we are bestowed with, the one that fascinates me the most is the ability to make a choice. I made a choice regarding the profession I want, my spouse and my friends. Essentially I shaped my life based on all those choices I made. I keep saying "I" for no one ever told me what to do. If I was happy or sad it was purely because of the choices I made. I had no one but myself to blame. Yet I would never give up the independence of being able to decide and choose for myself.

As in life, we make culinary choices. We have the ability to choose a bowl of broccoli over a bowl of chips. I made a choice to cook my way,which involves experimenting with ingredients, spices and making up recipes in my own quirky way. To be honest I am not always successful and end up with something totally different from what I had in mind and on rare occasions even inedible. I would never trade the joy of trending on an unknown path for anything else - It's purely a choice I made.

These chickpea or Garbanzo bean flour pancakes with caraway seeds and carrots were one such choice I made. Chickpea flour is gluten free and is great in pancakes. These pancakes have savory ingredients like caraway seeds, red chili powder and black pepper.

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup grated carrots

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp black pepper


Mix the chickpea flour, water and carrots in a bowl using a whisk. The batter should be smooth, if not add more water.

Add the spices, caraway seeds and salt.

Heat a pan with a tsp of olive oil and make the pancakes.

The caraway seeds complement the carrots and make these pancakes a rather desirable choice over the regular ones. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Finger millet flour Pancakes with Bananas

We all at some point try to procrastinate things. In my case it happens often. Most often the reason for procrastination stems from the fact that I don't particularly love the task at hand or I am jittery about the outcome. Time and again I have no choice but to eventually get my sorry self out and accomplish the task.

I realized that I go through a series of emotions ranging from sadness, guilt and eventually happiness once I accomplish the task. The alternative would be not to procrastinate and just finish the task and be happy. This way I could avoid the sadness and guilt. After all those years one would think I have learnt my lesson. Nope. I have to go through the series of emotions and I find no joy in just striking things off my list without putting them off for a while. I try to see a silver lining in all my idiosyncratic behaviors. In this case, I guess I cherish the feeling of taking my own sweet time in over coming my jitters. 

Just as with everything else in life, I find immense joy in procrastinating cooking with certain ingredients and eventually feel the joy of creating a scrumptious dish. There were some bananas sitting on the counter for days. Despite the little guy devouring them on a daily basis, they were dangerously getting close to being rotten. They were getting those brown spots and looking very pathetic. I stare at them every day and decide against trashing them. I make a mental note of baking something and move on with my life. 

These pancakes are the result of  a week long procrastination which finally ended with me finding a bag of finger millet or ragi flour in the pantry. This flour is rich in fiber, iron calcium and is also gluten free. 

1 ripe banana 

1/2 cup milk 

1 egg 

2 Tablespoons sugar 

1/2 cup of finger millet or Ragi Flour 

Mash the ripe banana  with a fork in a bowl. 

To this add the milk and egg and whisk it thoroughly.

Add the sugar and mix the ingredients together until its smooth and without any lumps. 

Add the finger millet flour and whisk until we get the right consistency. If the batter is too thick you can add a tsp of milk. 

Heat a pan with a tsp of olive oil and make the pancakes. 

The finger millet flour adds a very subtle nutty flavor and the mushy bananas add the sweetness and texture to these perfect pancakes. This is what I call the joy of procrastination.

Linking this to Made with love Mondays at

No waste food challenge hosted by farmersgirl at elizabethskitchendiary