Mushroom Spinach Pasta

Used to have this awesome pasta in a Mexican place (Yes, Mexican!) in Chennai. Loved it so much, but it was full of cream and cheese. Came up with this recipe as a low-fat alternative to pasta's in rich creamy sauces. I dont use cream or cheese in this pasta, and it still tastes great!!!

(4 servings)
Rotelle: 1/2 lb
Evaporated milk: 1 cup
Vegetable broth: 1/2 cup
Mushroom: 12 to 16 button mushroom
Spinach: 1 cup
Pepper: Fresh ground, as per taste
Oregon: 1/2 tsp
Parsley: 1/2 tsp
Basil: 1/4 tsp
Garlic powder: 2 tsp

Cook pasta in salted boiling water till al dente. Drain and keep aside.
In a saucepan, heat evaporated milk and add vegetable broth to reach the desired consistency.
Add quatered button mushrooms and spinach.
Add salt, pepper, herbs and garlic powder. Let the vegetables cook completely.
Let the sauce simmer till it thickens.
Add the pasta and let cook for 2 minutes.
Serve hot garnished with fresh parsley.

Nutritional Information:
Per Serving:
274 calories, out of which 12 calories from fat
1.5 gram of fat, insignificant amount of saturated fat
57 grams of carbohydrates, out of which 5 grams of dietary fiber
17 grams of proteins


Blueberry Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients: (To make 20 medium muffins)
All purpose flour: 2 cups
Brown sugar: 1 cup
Baking soda: 1.5 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Walnut pieces: 1/2 cups
Blueberries: 1/2 cup
Banana's: 4
Vanilla essence: 1.5 tsp
Eggs: 2
Olive oil: 3/4 cup
Brown sugar: for topping (optional)
Oats: for topping (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Mix flour, sugar, salt, soda together. Keep aside.
In a large mixing bowl, completely beat 2 banana's till they are pureed.
Add the olive oil and beat further. Then add the eggs and vanilla. Beat till mix is frothy.
Add the flour mix slowly. Do not over-mix.
Add the remaining banana in very small pieces, the walnut pieces and the blueberries.
Fill muffin cups till 3/4th full.
Top with brown sugar and oats.
Bake for 21 to 22 minutes.
Serve warm.

Storing tip: These muffins are best eaten 2 to 3 days after being made. If you make more than you can finish in a couple of days, place in ziploc bags as soon as the muffins cool and deep freeze. You can store them this way for upto 6 months. To re-heat, microwave on low power for 1 to 2 minutes.


Vegan Rose Ice cream Cake

Hunted for an eggless vegan ice cream cake recipe all over, but didnt find one anywhere. As I was running out of time, experimented with some rose ice cream and vegan orange cake, and topped it off with some frozen cool whip. Turned
out to be a fabulous hit at the party!

Cool whip: Two 8 oz boxes
Cake flour: 1.5 cups (can be substituted by maida)
Orange rind: 3 tbsp (remove white portion of the peel and cut into thin 1 inch long slices)
Orange pieces: 1/2 cup (separated into small segments)
Vanilla Essence: 2 tsp
Orange juice: 1 cup
Olive oil: 1/2 cup
Baking soda: 1.5 tsp
Vinegar: 2 tsp
Sugar: 1 cup
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Rose Ice cream/ Falooda: 32 oz (1 lb)

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
Grease and line a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
To a mixing bowl, add the cake flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
Add the oil, orange juice and vanilla essence. Add the orange rind and orange pieces.
Mix well. Add the vinegar and mix well.
Pour immediately into the greased cake pan.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove cake from pan carefully. Cake will stick if cooled too long.
Take a 9 x 13 pan, add the softened ice cream. Add a thin layer of whipped topping.
Add the cake. Top off with a thick layer of whipped topping and enjoy!!!

Brown Rice Mung Dal Kitcheree

Comfort food that actually is full of vegetables and is so healthy! My enthusiastic hubby bought 25 pounds of brown rice, and then decided he didnt like the taste of brown rice... he found it too chewy! With a pantry full of brown rice as my main motivation, I tried a variety of recipes, till I hit on this one. Not only does this disappear as soon as it is cooked, it's almost impossible to detect the chopped broccoli. I usually add as many vegetables as I have on hand. Feel free to experiment with as many vegetables as you want with this dish!

Makes 6 servings

Brown rice: 1.5 cups
Whole Green Mung dal: 1.5 cups
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1tbsp
Grated ginger: 1 tbsp
Cloves: 2
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Asafoetida: 1 pinch (also called hing or ingua)
Peppercorns: 1 tbsp
Dried Red chilies: 5 (broken to pieces)
Water: 8 cups (Add half cup more if you like rice softer)
Carrots: 1 cup, cubed
Baby Lima beans: 1/2 cup (can be substituted by regular beans, or double beans)
Spinach: 1 cup, chopped or use baby spinach whole leaves
Broccoli: 1/2 cup, chopped
Peas: 1 cup (frozen)
Tomatoes: 2 chopped
Salt: approx 3.5 tsp
Cilantro: To garnish

Wash the mung daal (or moong dal) and rice in running water till the water runs clear. Soak and keep aside for 10 minutes.
To a large skillet, add 2 tbsp olive oil, and add cumin, mustard, red chilies, ginger, curry leaves, turmeric, peppercorns and cloves. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the rice and mung daal. Mix well.
Add the carrots, lima beans, broccoli and mix well.
Add the water. Cover partially and cook on medium flame for around 40 minutes.
Add peas, tomatoes, spinach, salt. Mix well. Cover and let all the water be absorbed by the rice and mung.
Serve hot garnished with cilantro and yogurt.

For those who find whole peppercorns too spicy, add freshly ground pepper after adding salt.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving:
207 calories, out of which 46 calories are from fat
7 grams of fat, out of which 1 gram is saturated fat
33 grams of carbohydrates, out of which 9 grams are dietary fiber
8 grams of proteins


Seasoning in Seconds

All those times when I was in a hurry to add popu (tadka/seasoning) to dishes.... this is a 2 minute no hassle way. Every time you have daal ready, and dont want to clean out a dish to make popu, this trick works wonders!

In a microwave safe dish, add some oil, depending on recipe, and microwave for 2 minutes. Remove carefully, dish will be hot. Add all the seasoning. If the mustard doesnt splutter, microwave for an additional 30 seconds.

Eggs Eggsplained

Meri jaan meri jaan murgi ke ande...

Wanted to share some very interesting information about eggs.

What the different grades of eggs mean:
AA : Firm eggs with thick whites : good for frying or boiling
A : Thinner whites, all purpose eggs
B : Thin yolks and whites, better for recipes

Eggs with broken shells:
Should always be discarded as they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Freezing eggs:
Break the eggs, stir to combine and add 1.5 tsp sugar and 1/8 tsp salt per 1/4 cup of eggs (2 eggs or 4 yolks) and then freeze. Never freeze boiled eggs! They turn congeal-y!
Use frozen eggs within 24 hours of thawing.
Egg whites dont need any additon before freezing.
Frozen eggs and egg whites are good for 9 to 12 months.

Peeling boiled eggs:
Salt the cooking water. crack the end of the shell. Makes shelling easy and clean!

Hard-boiled eggs:
To check if an egg is hard boiled, spin it on its side. A hard boiled egg will spin uniformly.

Using egg whites:
Separate egg whites half an hour before using.

Checking if an egg is good:
A good egg sinks in a bowl of salted water. A spoilt egg floats.

Cleaning eggs from dishes:
Always use cold water to rinse off eggs from dishes. Hot water sets the eggs and makes them more difficult to clean.

Green Capsicum Masala

I was looking for a different dish to go with fried rice rather than make kurma all the time. Green bell peppers are available all year round, and this dish is very low in calories. All the fat in the dish is from extra virgin olive oil, that is, healthy monounsaturated fat.

Green bell peppers: 4 large (cut into 1 inch pieces)
Onions: 2 large
Curry leaves: few sprigs
Dhania powder: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon: 1 small piece
Cloves: 2
Cardamaom: 1
Kasoori methi: 2 to 3 tsp
Red bell peppers: few circles, for garnish
Green chilies: 2
Red chili powder: 1/2 tsp (according to taste)

To 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, chopped green chilies and chopped onions. Saute the onions till golden brown.
Add salt, chili powder, the coriander and cumin powders. Mix well and keep aside.
Cool and grind. Keep aside. This mix can be stored for upto one week in the refrigerator.
To 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, add curry leaves. Add the onion mix. Cook for 2 minutes, add green capsicum/green bell peppers. Mix well. Add water to make gravy like consistency. Add kasoori methi and let cook covered for a few minutes. Do not overcook as the peppers shouldnt get too soft.
Simmer till gravy thickens, uncovered.
Garnish with red bell pepper rounds and serve.

Nutritional Information:
Dividing the above curry to 16 portions, nutritional information per serving or portion of the curry (about half a cup of curry):
35 calories, out of which 19 are from fat
3 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram from dietary fiber
2 grams of fat, out of which 1.5 grams are monounsaturated fat
No significant amount of protein

Additonal Information:
Kasoori methi are dried fenugreek leaves. They taste similar to celery and fennel combined, but have slightly bitter undertones. Kasoori methi has a stronger flavor than fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves, hence smaller quantities are used.
To get to know more about fenugreek, its uses and medicinal properties click here

The Colors of Health

The Colors of Health