Dates & Oats Energy Bites

No Bake Date and Oats Energy Bites

Energy Bites

My best friend sent me a picture of my co-workers getting into a habit of eating healthy breakfast at work a few days back. The picture had them bringing breakfast jars to work.

It all started with me sharing my overnight oats jar, with a dear colleague one morning. It got us talking about how easy it is to put together this breakfast option. Like I say healthy need not be boring!

Overnight Oats2

Overnight Oats 

This is for you Sho and MJ, thanks for waking me up from my blog-slumber and reminding me why I love sharing recipes in the first place. Also Palla, without your persistent nudge I would have not written a word this weekend.

So no promises of being regular out here posting recipes. However I would do my best juggling a hectic full time job and a new gym subscription.

Well, the past few months have been quite exciting. I have tried making many lifestyle changes, few have take shape and few are work in progress. More on that soon!

I have not bought white sugar in the last 4 months, given up white rice, tried some exotic ingredients (mac powder, cacao nibs, chia seeds, wheat germ, matcha powder and so on)

Along with thus I have hopped on the bandwagon and made these date-oat energy bites, best decision ever!

It’s got simple ingredients which come together quickly to get this moorish bite. I made mine with Medjool dates, oats, dried coconut flakes and walnuts, great source of dietary fibre and protein.

I chose Medjool dates on purpose, they are a good source of fibre and essential minerals. I also like their caramel like taste.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 tsp cinnamon or more
Himalayan pink salt to taste
Little water to help blend everything together

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor for 3-4 minutes. You should have a fine paste.

Remove the mixture in a plate. Grease your palms lightly with any neutral oil or simply dip them in cold water. This would prevent the mixture from not sticking to your hands.

Now take a tablespoon of the date mixture and roll it.

Once you shape it like a small ball, roll only the one side in unsweetened coconut flakes.

Energy Bites

Voila! You got yourself some pretty looking pre or post workout snack to munch on. This recipe should make about 12 bite sized portions.

Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. Pack these in your lunch box, here’s the His&Her edition of lunch boxes in our household. Sahil was very happy to carry these to work!

Lunch Box

What are you usual pre or post workout snacks ? Do let me know!

Dal Fry

Masoor Dal

Missing home and want to comfort your soul ?
Got 20 minutes to put together a meal ?
Feel like eating something light yet nourishing ?

If your answer was yes, make this simple home style dal.

The silky smooth dal is a perfect accompaniment to some jeera rice. Serve with a side of cucumber raita, papad and pickle to make it a complete meal.

Cooking Time : 20 minutes

Ingredients
1/2 cup masoor cup
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp rice bran oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 onion finely chopped
1 tomato finely chopped
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
2 tsp coriander finely chopped for garnish
2 dried red chillies broken
1 tsp butter (optional)
Salt to taste

Wash the dal with several changes of water.

Pressure cook the dal with water and some salt. It should get done in 3 whistles.

Uncover the lid and whisk the dal until smooth. Add a dollop of butter and whisk the dal lightly, this gives the dal a buttery sheen.

In a pan, heat some oil. Once hot, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and red chillies.

Allow it to sizzle for a while and then add the onions, cook until translucent.

Add tomatoes and all spices, cook for a few minutes and add the dal to the mixture.

Add little water if the consistency is not as you prefer. Allow it to simmer for another minute or so.

You can add kasuri methi to the dal to make it fragrant.

This time around I added chopped coriander instead of kasuri methi. Take it off heat and serve with fluffy basmati rice or rotis.

Until next time, happy cooking!

Brown Rice Salad

Brown Rice Salad 1

I am always on the look out to use up leftovers, they serve as healthy office lunches options for the next day.

I am trying to slowly move away from the lure of white rice and incorporate more of brown rice and other grains. The new year saw me stocking up on pearl barley, buck wheat, farro and chia seeds. These happen to be ingredients I have always had at eateries, they have not been a part of my pantry.

So here’s to being hopeful that I use them up this year. Sharing the recipe for a simple salad made with leftover brown rice.

Takes 5 minutes to assemble

Ingredients
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tomatoes thinly sliced
1 cucumber thinly sliced in halfs
1/4 cup kalamata olives coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes coarsely chopped
1 tsp sumac powder
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp finely chopped mint leaves (optional)
4 sundried tomatoes coarsely chopped (optional)
6 pre-soaked almonds coarsely chopped
Salt to taste

In a mixing bowl, add all the vegetables and rice. Toss them together.

Juice 2 lemons, add sumac powder, dried herbs, salt, olive oil and whisk it together.

Pour this vinaigrette over the rice mixture and toss it well. Garnish the almonds and mint over the salad.

Refrigerate for half an hour or more and relish the salad.

Brown Rice Salad

Until next time, keep it healthy and happy cooking!

Savoury Veggie Oats Upma

I wake up most days thinking what to have for breakfast. It constitutes the most important meal for me personally.

Given that I have a massive sweet tooth, it is tough to stay away from peanut butter jam sandwiches, honey cereal or granola with berry yoghurt and fruits or simple blue berry muffins. However you regret these choices by lunch time since it makes me guilty reaching out for sweet treat after lunch.

I love a hearty breakfast, it just prepares you for the day ahead. Also the first thing I like doing once at work is to pour myself a nice cup of home made masala chai and let out my breakfast box. Ask my work mates and they would vouch for my masala chai getting the most amount of attention even on busy days. It’s cute to have them ask me to share some with them sometimes.

Off late I have been piling on the kilos and am trying to reduce my sugar intake early in the mornings. This led me to look out for savoury options for breakfast, I started with making Indian breakfast essentials Thalipeeth, Poha, Daliya, Besan Chilla and Upma but soon got bored.

Since I had already experimented with oats while making Idlis, I thought giving the humble Upma a uplift with this fab ingredient. And what do I say I am addicted to this recipe!

Oats Upma

It’s easy to prep and make on busy work mornings. I usually don’t go by adding all vegetables as listed below but make use of whatever is in the fridge. Feel free to add or remove the vegetables listed and go by the ones which is easily available for you.

Cooking Time : 15 minutes
Ingredients

2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin
1 green chilly finely chopped
1 white onion finely chopped
1 red bell pepper finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper finely chopped
2 carrots julienned
1 cup spinach chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas thawed and washed
1 tomato finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp super seed powder
1 cup organic rolled oats
1 1/2 cup water
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
Salt to taste

In a wok heat some oil, add cumin seeds and green chilly.

Oats Upma3

Once it sizzles, add onion and cook them until they are translucent.

Oats Upma4

Add peppers, carrots to the mix and cook them for a few minutes.

Oats Upma6

Add spinach, tomatoes and peas to the mix and sauté them lightly. Add salt, super seed mixture and spices.

The super seed mixture I use has a mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, wheat germ and some dried goji berries. This is rich in omega 3s, folic acid, fibre and other essential nutrients. I do not like having them on it’s own so disguise their presence. Adding the super seed mix in the upma gives it a good nutty texture.

Oats Upma7

Add rolled oats and mix them well in the mixture. You can roast the oats before adding them.

Once it is blended well with the vegetable mixture, add water and mix well.

Oats Upma8

Cook until all water has absorbed and the oats get a creamy consistency.

Oats Upma1

Serve hot and you are ready to tackle the day ahead. This stays good for 3 days if kept refrigerated in an airtight container.

Oats Upma2 Until next time, happy cooking!

Zucchini Bake

Hello lovely people!

Long time no see, I hope everyone is gearing up for the cooler months. I envision myself planning tea parties, making homemade soups, sipping on hot chocolate, stocking up on slow cooker, bakes and casserole recipes.

One such Zucchini bake recipe which was an instant hit at a recent potluck at a colleague’s place is what I would like to share with you all.

Zucchini Bake

Zucchini is relatively low in calories making it an ideal item to include when you are watching the scale. It is also high in folate, potassium and Vitamin A.

My earliest memories of eating zucchini are at a Mumbai eatery where I ordered Pasta Arrabiata with mixed vegetables. It had broccoli and some carrots along with some pretty unusual looking green strips. I enquired with the server about what were these green strips which made the overall dish rather pretty and delicious.

And that’s how I was introduced to this beautiful vegetable. I love eating zucchini stir fried with other vegetables on most occasions. However in stir fries I feel like the wonderful flavor of this veggie does not shine through.

Hence I decided to bake this on it’s own with the only exception being some cherry tomatoes and a couple of shallots.

Serves : 4

Ingredients
2 zucchini thinly cut in rounds
12 cherry tomatoes halved
3 cloves of garlic minced
a handful of shallots
Fresh thyme sprigs
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
3 tsp olive oil
Sea salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Line a flat baking sheet with foil and grease it well.

In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients except cheese and coat them well with oil and seasoning.

Zucchini Bake 1

Layer the zucchini neatly on the baking tray and sprinkle parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius. I did not want to over do the cheese and baked it for a short duration so that the flavours of were given it’s due credit.

Serve with any pasta dish or good to be eaten on it’s own.

Until next time, happy cooking!

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup
My first post for 2015! Happy new year everyone! I hope 2015 brings everyone loads of success, happiness and good health.
Last 2 months or so has being difficult for the family with us constantly battling ill health and bouts of recurring flu. This left us making many much required lifestyle changes, less socializing, taking it easy at work for a bit, eating out occasionally and staying put at home reading or watching favorite movies.
I was eating light most days and also did not bake much over the festive season. Soups and toasted bread with garlic butter was dinner most days.
 
My experiments with new recipes for smoothies and soups continued. One recipe which was well received was Minestrone Soup

My earliest memories of having this soup are at my home when mum doused leftover cooked macroni in the mixed vegetable soup she made for us. A successful attempt by her to feed my younger brother some veggies, the macroni got him excited and he found himself busy trying to find the pasta in bowl of vegetables.

 

There is no one fixed recipe when making minestrone soup. I usually make this with the ingredients readily available in my kitchen. Sometimes I add spinach or kale to bring some color to the soup but mostly it is from the vegetables listed in the recipe below:

 
Serves : 4 
Prep Time : 15 Minutes
Cooking Time : 30-35 Minutes
 
Ingredients
1 large white onion finely chopped
2 stalks celery finely chopped
2 carrots diced
4 tomatoes finely chopped
50 ml tomato paste (optional)
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil roughly chopped
1/2 cup green beans finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic butter
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup cooked pasta
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
3 tsp olive oil
Fine sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste
 
In a big pot, heat some oil and add garlic. Cook for a minute or so.
Vegies
 
Add onions, celery, carrots and french beans and cook them until they are soft.
Minestrone Soup 6
 
Add tomatoes to the mix and cook the mixture well.
Minestrone Soup 5
Follow this with cooked chickpeas, pasta and tomato paste.
 Minestrone Soup 4
Minestrone Soup 3
Add salt, black pepper and dried herbs and blend well. Add vegetable stock and allow the soup to simmer on low heat.
Minestrone Soup 7
I usually make vegetable stock at home else use some cubes of organic stock cubes from Waitrose. Meanwhile add fresh basil and garlic butter to the mix.
Minestrone Soup 8
Cook until the soup reaches the consistency your are after. This is usually after 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and relish the goodness.
Minestrone Soup2
Serve this with Foccaccia or toasted bread with garlic or herb butter.  The soup is quite comforting and the chunky vegetables and pasta in there make it interesting with the crunchy texture of the bread.
Minestrone Soup1
In the month of January I intend to do a recap of the beautiful 2014 I had. Some events where I got to see my celeb chefs, cooked some new recipes which friends and family loved and also two of my articles got published in an e-magazine by Food Blogger’s Association of India.
I promise to share my food stories with you all shortly, until next time, happy cooking!
I definitely have a lot to do since I’d be hosting an Italian themed dinner party for my very close friend and his pretty wife tonight, wish me luck!

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

It’s getting cooler these days and what’s more comforting than a bowl of home made soup!

At my parents home, having soup before meals is quite the norm. My grandfather was so very fond of having soups! And my mom used to ensure she serves him a variety to choose from.

He loved every ounce of liquid from the vegetables which were just blanched or boiled. I remember him asking my mom to use the whey left from home made paneer to make dough for chapatis. Not wasting any nutrients from food was his mantra. He was also a great at recommending home made remedies and most of them worked. Yes! Even the weird ones worked much to our amusement.

I have loved tomato soup since childhood. It’s got to be my favorite soup to order when at a restaurant. My love of tomatoes is evident since most of my recipes have one in them!

He used to lovingly ask my mum or grandma to make this especially on days I was in low spirits. This is how dearly and selflessly he loved me. His first grandchild and perhaps the luckiest one who got to spend 27 glorious years under his wings.

Well this is turning out to be quite an emotional post. Let’s get on to the recipe of his favorite tomato soup.

I have modified a popular Sanjeev Kapoor recipe as shown in Khana Khazana to my family’s liking.

Cooking Time : 30 minutes

Ingredients
2 tsp canola oil
6 tomatoes roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 onion thinly sliced
1 carrot chopped
6 tomatoes chopped
700 ml water or more as required
1/2 tsp sugar
5-6 whole black peppercorns
Freshly cracked black pepper powder as per taste
Salt to taste
Full fat cream to drizzle (Optional)
Mint / Basil leaves for garnishing
Toasted Bread Croutons to Serve

In a big pot, heat the oil and add bay leaf, peppercorns and sautee it for a minute.

Add garlic cloves and cook them until the raw flavor goes away. Add onions, tomatoes and carrots and cook them they are soft but not mushy.

Tomato Soup 1

Add water and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Take the mixture off heat and after cooling it for a while, strain the mixture. Reserve the stock on the side.

Veggies

Tomato Soup2

Now in a blender add the strained vegetables with a little water to facilitate smooth blending.

Tomato Soup3

Once the mixture has blended well and is at a consistency you like, pour the puree back in the sauce pot and let it simmer. You could add tomato paste at this point of time if you prefer to enhance the color.

Add salt and black pepper powder to taste, sugar and the stock set on the side and cook for another 10-12 minutes uncovered.

You can skip sugar from the recipe however I prefer adding the same since it helps to cut the sourness of the tomatoes.

Once the soup reaches the consistency you desire. Take it off heat and strain once more.

Serve with a drizzle of cooking cream and garnish with any herbs you prefer. Until next time happy cooking!