Fresh Trout in Coconut Milk Sauce

Please check this post for health information about fish.

Makes 6 servings
Fresh Trout: 1 lb
Onions: 2 chopped finely
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Light coconut milk: 1/2 cup
Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tbsp

For marinade:
Salt and red chili powder: to taste
Lime juice: 1 lime
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Coriander seed powder: 1/2 tsp

Wash the fish and mix in the marinade.
Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large pan. Add cumin seeds.
Add the chopped onions. Saute till golden.
Add salt and red chili powder to the onions.
Add the fish fillets one at a time. Let cook for a few minutes.
Add the light coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water.
Cover and let cook on a low flame for 15 minutes.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving or 129 gms (1/6th of recipe):
Calories: 168
Calories from fat: 78
Total fat: 9 gms (14% of DV)
Saturated fat: 3 gms (17% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.1 gm
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.8 gm
Cholesterol: 45 mg (15% of DV)
Sodium: 625 mg
Carbohydrates: 5 gm (2% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 gm (5% of DV)
Sugars: 2 gms
Proteins: 17 gms

Vitamin A: 12% of DV
Vitamin C: 10% of DV
Calcium: 8% of DV
Iron: 9% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may vary based on individual dietary requirements.

Caloric Values:
Carbohydrates: 11% Fats: 47% Proteins: 42%

Eggless Vegetable Omelette

We used to call this by many many names when we were kids and watched my mom make hot veggie omelette's or besan dosa or senagapindi attulu for us. Its so easy to make, tastes like pakodi's or onion fritters without all the oil. Make on the spur, needs no grinding and no fermenting. Great idea for making breakfast or dinner, or even a quick tea time snack.

Makes 8 dosa's
Chickpea flour: 2 cups (besan, sengapindi)
Red onion: 1 (chopped finely)
Tomato: 1 (chopped finely)
Cilantro: a few sprigs, chopped
Green chilies: 2
Salt: 1 tsp (or per taste)
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Chili powder: 2 tsp (or per taste)
Tymol seeds: 1 tsp (ajwain, vaamu)
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (zeera, jillakarra)
Baking soda: 1/2 tsp

In a mixing bowl, add all the above ingredients and water. Make a smooth batter.
Spread batter like a pancake or dosa (thin layer) on a medium hot griddle.
Add 1/2 tsp olive oil. Let cook for a few minutes (the color should change to reddish brown). Flip. Let cook completely.
Serve hot with tomato ketchup or green chili sauce or mango pickle.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving one dosa or 1/8th of recipe or 75 gm
Calories: 128
Calories from fat: 36
Total fat: 4 gm (6% of DV)
Saturated fat: 1 gm (3% of DV)
Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 gm
Polyunsaturated fat: 1 gm
Trans fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 316 mg (13% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 17 gm (6% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 3 gm (13% of DV)
Sugars: 4 gm
Proteins: 6 gm

Vitamin A: 9%
Vitamin C: 51%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 10%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of Caloric Values:
Carbohydrates: 53% Fats: 28% Proteins: 19%

Asparagus with Feta Cheese

Feta cheese was originally Greek cheese made from fresh sheep milk. The very word "feta" means slice in Greek. The texture of this cheese reminds me of fresh paneer made at home, thick and crumbly. Feta is very generous to taste buds. A taste of smooth, slightly tangy, rich cheese. I love feta cheese with almost any sandwich or salad. It adds the zing to fresh baked asparagus in a way no other cheese can.

The term "asparagus" was coined by ancient Greeks and means to "sprout or shoot". It is a member of the lily family and is rich green in color.

Some interesting health facts about asparagus:
Asparagus is rich in folates, which is of prime importance for the development of the nervous system. Consumption of asparagus has been strongly linked to reduced birth defects in children. It has been suggested that women considering pregnancy consume this vegetable as much as possible before and during the first few months of pregnancy.

Asparagus has also been claimed to reduce inflammation and provide some relief in arthritis and rheumatism, but these have not yet been proven.

Asparagus is also a rich source of potassium.

Asparagus is also a very good for intestinal health. Rich in inulin, it encourages growth of helpful intestinal bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Colonization by these bacteria prevent increase in levels of harmful bacteria.

Some people complain of asparagus smell in their urine. Asparagus contains some sulfur compounds (thiols) which though not harmful, cause urine to have a sulfur-y odor. This is nothing to worry about.

RISK FACTORS: Though not widely known, a report released by the Food and Drug Association in December of 2002 stated that roasting of asparagus caused the production of high levels of acrylamide. Scientists have found that acrylamide, a probable carcinogen in humans, is produced when a naturally occurring aspargine is heated with certain sugars like glucose. Recent studies have also shown high levels of acrylamide in fries, chips and crackers. Though it has not yet been proved that high levels of acrylamide are dangerous, it is suggested that it be avoided from diet as far as possible.

I used to traditionally prefer baking asparagus, but given the recent questions raised regarding baking asparagus, I will also give an alternative recipe to enjoy the same flavor.

Choosing and preparing asparagus:
Buy slender shoots with green or purplish tips.
The stalk of the asparagus is very fibrous and is generally removed prior to cooking. To determine the exact level where the stalk starts, bend the asparagus till it snaps. Use the tender tips.

(Makes 2 servings)
Asparagus: 1 lb
Feta cheese: 2 tbsp
Garlic salt:~1/2 tsp
Freshly ground pepper: ~1/4 tsp
Lime juice: juice from one lime
Dried oregano: 1/4 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tbsp

Rinse the asparagus tips.
Put a large pot of water to boil, and add the asparagus. Let cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
To a large saucepan, add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add asparagus, garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, dried oregano. Saute for a minute.
Remove from flame. Add lime juice. Mix.
Top with feta cheese and serve hot.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving, 1/2 of recipe or 270 gms
Calories: 149
Calories from fat: 89
Total fat: 10 gm (16% of DV)
Saturated fat: 3gm (16% of DV)
Monounsaturated fat: 5.6 gm
Polyunsaturated fat: 1 gm
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 13 mg (4% of DV)
Sodium: 746 mg
Carbohydrates: 11 gm (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 5 gm (20% of DV)
Sugars: 5 gm
Proteins: 7 gm

Vitamin A: 36%
Vitamin C: 31%
Calcium: 13%
Iron: 28%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may change based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of Calorific Values:
Carbohydrates: 27% Fats: 59% Proteins: 14%
Moisture content: 88%

Fresh Sea Bass Curry (Iguru)

For health benefits of fish and recent concerns about mercury levels in fish, please check this post.

Sea Bass is a rich flaky fish and tastes very good when cooked in the traditional Andhra Chepala Iguru style. As with all other fish curries, it tastes best when allowed to sit for a few hours after cooking. This allows all the flavor from the spices to be absorbed by the fillets. This curry tastes best with hot rice. A surprising fact about this curry is that it makes a rich accompaniment to dosa. For all the conservatives, give it a try!!!!! You'd be surprised!

Makes 6 servings
Fish fillets: 12 (3 lbs)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (zeera, jillakarra)
Onions: 2 (chopped finely)
Tomatoes: 2 (diced)
Green Chilies: 5 (sliced length-wise)
Salt, turmeric, chili powder: to taste
Garam masala: 1/2 tsp

For Marinade:
Salt: Per taste
Chili powder: 2 tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp (haldi)
Ginger-garlic paste: 2 tsp
Lime juice: from one lime
Garam masala: 2 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp (dhania powder)

Rinse fresh fillets once in running water. Add all the ingredients of the marinade and coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
To a large cooking pot, add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add the cumin seeds and let them cook for a minute.
Add the chopped onions and green chilies. Saute till onions are golden brown.
Add salt, turmeric, garam masala and chili powder to season the onions.
Make openings in the sauteed onions and layer the fillets on the base of the pan. Sear one side of the fillet, flip and sear the other side.
Add the chopped tomatoes. Add 1 cup water. Mix carefully, so as to keep fillets intact.
Simmer closed on a low flame for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot garnished with cilantro.

Food for thought: Both fish and flax seeds have essential fatty acids. Consumption of fish (or fish oil) however has been proved to be more beneficial than consumption of flax seeds (or flax seed oil). Sea bass not only is rich in omega-3, it is also rich in selenium, a known anti-carcinogenic element.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving, 1/6 th of recipe or 379 gms:
Calories: 339
Calories from fat: 91
Total fat: 10 gms (16% of DV)
Saturated fat: 2 gm (10% of DV)
Monounsaturated fat: 4.6 gm
Polyunsaturated fat: 2.6 gm
Omega-3 fatty acids: ~ 1781 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids: ~ 674 mg
Trans fat: ~ 0 mg
Cholesterol: 106 mg (35% of DV)
Sodium: 807 mg
Selenium: 95.2 mcg (136% of DV)
Carbohydrate: 11 gm (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2 gm (9% of DV)
Sugars: 4 gm
Proteins: 49 gm (98% of DV)

Vitamin A: 25%
Vitamin C: 105%
Calcium: 5%
Iron: 11%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet, and may vary based on individual requirements.

Sodium quantity calculated based on addition of 2 tsp of table salt to the curry.

Breakdown of caloric values:
Carbohydrates: 12% Fats: 27% Proteins: 61%


Cauliflower Peas Curry

Please check this post for Cauliflower health information.

Makes 8 servings
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (zeera, jillakarra)
Urad dal: 1/2 tsp (minapappu)
Chana dal: 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp (rai, awalu)
Red chilies: 4 (broken into halves)
Garlic: 5 cloves
Curry leaves: a few sprigs (optional)
Asafoetida: a pinch
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Onions: 2
Tomatoes: 2
Cauliflower: 1 medium head
Peas: 1 cup (frozen)
Salt and Chili powder: to taste

To a large saucepan, add the olive oil. Once the oil heats up, add chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, garlic cloves, asafoetida, curry leaves and turmeric. Saute till the chana dal turns golden, or the mustard seeds splutter.
Add chopped onions and saute till the onions are golden brown.
Add cauliflower and mix well to coat the florets with all the spices.
Add the peas. Mix
Add chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Add salt, chili powder, water; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or till the cauliflower is cooked.
Serve hot with roti or rice.

TIP OF THE DAY: The daily salt requirement is just 1/10th of a spoon. Try and reduce salt intake.

Nutritional Information:
Per one serving or 1/8 of recipe or 136 gm
Calories: 77
Calories from fat: 20
Total fat: 2 gms (4% of DV)
Saturated fat: 0 gm (2% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 335 mg
Carbohydrates: 12 gms (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 4 gms (16% of DV)
Sugar: 5 gms
Proteins: 4 gms

Vitamin A: 16%
Vitamin C 111%
Calcium: 4%
Iron: 6%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of caloric values:
Carbohydrates: 60% Fats: 26% Proteins: 14%

Cauliflower Health

I love cauliflower, steeped in fresh tomatoes, it's the most divine vegetable. Some important things you should know about cauliflower.

Cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and broccoli belong to the same family cruciferacea.

These vegetables have been studied to play a significant anti-carcinogenic role in humans. This is attributed to glucosinolates and thiocyanates which help neutralize toxic subastances. When they are cooked with turmeric (haldi, paspu), their anti-cancer benefits increase manifold.

Cauliflower contains allicin which improves heart health and helps prevent stroke.

Cauliflower is also rich in folates, hence women planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant should try and include cauliflower as much as they can in their diet.

Cauliflower is also rich in fiber and Vitamin C.

Cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol which helps in the metabolism of estrogen, and is studied to play an important role in reducing the incidence of breast and female cancers.

The best time to buy cauliflower: December to March

Choosing a cauliflower: Buy heads which are heavy and firm, creamy white in color, and with florets not separated.

Avoid flowers with small florets. Also avoid flowers which are discolored or have brownish spots which form as a result of aging.

Storing: Store in plastic or paper bags for upto one week in the refrigerator. Store with stem down to prevent moisture from accumalating in the floret region. Cut florets should be consumed in a day or two.

Cauliflower is one of the few vegetables which spoils faster after it is cooked, so cooked vegetable should be consumed in 2 to 3 days.

Best way to cook: Lightly cook to preserve all nutrients. It can also be eaten raw.

Consumption: Combine with fennel (saunf) or dill(suwa) to reduce flatulence.

Precautions: Cauliflower(and other members of cruciferacea) have some natural compouds which interfere with the synthesis of thyroxin or thyroid hormone, and can result in goitre. These vegetables should be avoided in people with thyroid problems.


Fish: Health and Harm

Fish is one of the healthiest ingredient you can add to your diet. Rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, it has been proved to be one easy way to cut down on bad cholesterol. To help improve heart heath, it has been suggested that at least two 6 oz servings (about the size of a deck of cards) of fish be included in your diet every week.

Why fish should be incorporated in your diet:

  • Are a rich source of the essential fatty acid, omega-3, which cannot be synthesized by the human body.
  • Produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins like EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which prevent platelets from sticking together, and so prevent formation of blood clots.
  • Reduce incidence of arrhythmic heart beat, atrial fibrillation.
  • Increase ratio of HDL to LDL.
  • Protect against stroke and heart attack (most beneficial when at least 5 servings are consumed per week, though benefits can be observed when as little as 1 to 3 servings are consumed per month)
  • Offers protection from AMD (Age-related macular degeneration, causing loss of fine vision and blindness).
  • Lowers risk of dry eye syndrome (mostly studied in women)
  • Protection against Alzheimer's disease (60% decrease in incidence if fish is consumed once a week).
  • Increases cognitive function and memory.
  • Some studies suggest fish may protect against sun burn, and may also help reduce risk of skin cancer.
  • Protect against cancers of the ovaries, esophagus, stomach, intestines, mouth, pharynx, colon, rectum, pancreas, breast, prostrate. Salmon may be most beneficial since it also contains another anti-carcinogenic agent: Selenium.

There has been a lot of confusion regarding consumption of fish and birth defects caused by bio-magnification of mercury. Some facts about mercury and fish...

Because of our carelessness and the dumping of industrial wastes into our oceans, there has been a contamination of mercury. Our problems with this metal started when it started increasing in concentration each time smaller fish eaten by a bigger fish deposited its mercury in the bigger fish (bio-magnification). Mercury in water, with the help of certain bacteria, is converted into methyl mercury which is easily absorbed by human beings. This absorbed methyl mercury is dangerous because it acts as a very potent neurotoxin. In other words, it effects the brain and nervous system of mammals. This is particularly dangerous in cases where the nervous system is in a developmental stage, like in young children and in pregnant women.

Mercury toxicity is manifested in children by a delay/difficulty in walking/talking, attention deficit, learning disorders etc. In adults, it can result in infertility, memory loss, and may also cause some cardio-vascular problems.

So, what are the precautions you need to take while selecting your fish to minimise your consumption of mercury? First point to remember, small fish have lesser mercury content. So, always try to pick smaller fish. The other important point is to eat different varieties of fish. As different fish have different mercury concentrations, mixing and matching them will ultimately result in a better balance. Recently, it has also been suggested that the best thing to do would be to find a geographic area with lesser mercury levels in the ocean and try to consume wild fish from that region. Try to avoid wild fish caught in heavy industrial areas, as there is a greater possibility for fish in these areas to have a higher mercury concentration.

Finally, I would like to include a list of fish and the levels of mercury:

Class I: Highest Mercury Levels:
Shark: 0.99 ppm (0.90)
Swordfish: 0.97 ppm (0.70)
Tilefish (golden snapper, golden bass): 1.45 ppm (0.80)
King mackerel (called vanjaram in Andhra): 0.73 ppm (0.34)

These fish should not be consumed by young children, women planning to become pregnant, pregnant women, or nursing mothers. All others can consume up to 7 oz of these fish PER WEEK.

Class II: Moderate Mercury Levels:
Fresh or frozen tuna: 0.38 ppm (0.24 to 1.28)
Red snapper: 0.60 ppm (0.27)
Orange roughy: 0.54 ppm (0.002)
Lobster: 0.31 ppm (0.07 to 0.41)
Grouper: 0.55 ppm (0.21)
Halibut: 0.26 ppm (o.40 to 1.00)

Again, young children, women planning pregnancy, pregnant women, and nursing mothers should limit their consumption of these fish. It has been suggested by the American Heart Association that they consume a maximum of 12 oz of these fish PER WEEK. Other people can consume up to 14 oz of these fish PER WEEK.

Class III: Low Mercury Levels:
Fresh and frozen salmon: 0.01 ppm (0.68 to 0.73)
Herring: 0.04 ppm (1.71 to 1.81)
Flounder or sole: 0.05 ppm (0.43)
Scallops: 0.05 ppm (0.05)
Catfish: 0.05 ppm (0.15 to 0.20)
Pollock 0.06 ppm (0.46)
Crabs: 0.06 ppm (0.34 to 0.40)
Cod: 0.11 ppm (0.13 to 0.24)
Canned tuna, light: 0.12 ppm (0.26 to 0.73)
Mahi-mahi: 0.19 ppm (0.12)

Values in parenthesis denote the quantity of omega-3 fatty acids per one 3 oz serving of the fish. Values in ppm indicate the concentration of mercury.

Interesting point: Mercury levels can be controlled by reducing intake of fish high in mercury for about 6 months.

Shrimps, Oysters and Clams have been shown to have mercury concentration below detectable levels.

American Heart Association
World's Healthiest Foods


Cabbage Peas Sabzi

Motivated by Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals, I have decided to make a list of curries that go well with rice or roti and which can be made in less than 30 minutes (including preparation time). These are recipes I turn to when I have a hungry restless person/people to feed.

For 4 servings
Oil: 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp (rai, awalu)
Urad dal: 1 tsp (minapappu)
Chana dal: 1 tbsp (senagapappu)
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp (zeera)
Red chilies: 3
Garlic: 3 cloves
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida: a pinch (hing, ingua)
Cabbage: 1/2 medium, shredded
Peas: 1 cup (frozen)

To a large saucepan, add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add the chana dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, mustard, asafoetida, turmeric, red chili's, garlic(in this order). Saute for a few seconds, till the chana dal changes to a golden color.
Add the peas, mix to coat with oil and spices.
Add cabbage, mix to coat with oil and spices.
Cook UNCOVERED for 15 minutes till cabbage is cooked, but doesn't get soggy.
Add salt and chili powder. Mix.
Serve hot with rice or roti. Makes a great accompaniment with daal and rice.

TIP OF THE DAY: Saffron (kumkum puvvu or kesar) has been proved to be an amazing antidepressant. The results of adding 30 mg of saffron per day to your diet has been studied to be equivalent to therapy with 20mg per day of a popular anti-depressant drug!!!!!

Nutritional Information:
For one serving or 1/4 of recipe, i.e., 167 gms:
Calories: 144
Calories from fat: 71
Total fat: 8 gms (13% of DV)
Saturated fat: 1 gm (6% of DV)
Trans fats: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 644 mg
Carbohydrate: 16 gm (5% of DV)
Dietary fiber: 6 gm (24% of DV)
Sugars: 6 gm
Protein: 5 gm

Vitamin A: 41%
Vitamin C: 76%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 10%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may change based on individual requirement.

Breakdown of caloric values:
Carbohydrates: 39% Fats: 50% Proteins: 11%


Durum Wheat

Recently read some very interesting things about various vegetables and wanted to share the information. Did you know that turmeric has been proved to slow the spread of cancer. Well, I guess most of you would have guessed that, knowing that turmeric has been the topic of many scientific discussions and patent right wars. However, I bet not many of you knew that the potency is increased manifold when consumed in conjunction with cruciferacea family of vegetables, or cauliflower and cabbage.
Most of us know that tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an important source of anti-oxidants in our diet. Did you know that combining avocado with tomatoes increases the uptake of lycopene?

Durum wheat
I come across many labels which say "made from durum wheat". After ignoring that claim for many months, I decided to finally look up information on durum wheat. What is it about durum wheat that makes it more important than regular wheat. Well, this is what I learnt. Durum wheat is the most commonly cultivated wheat (Triticum durum). Unlike regular or non-durum wheat. durum wheat is rich in proteins and in gluten, which is good for making pastas and breads. However, because of it's high gluten content, it is not a good choice for making cakes (makes cakes dense). In conclusion, durum wheat appears to definitely be better than non-durum wheat, but is not to be confused with whole wheat (which means made from the entire wheat grain, including the bran). Whole grains in general are richer in nutrients and fiber and lower in fats and are considered the best choice of the three mentioned above.

The Colors of Health

The Colors of Health