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Smoothie series #4 Popeye smoothie

Quinoa, brown rice, wholegrain breads, millets, leafy salads, beets and fruits! Oh how I wish I only ate what I just said above. Someday I am hoping to eat these regularly. Until then, I will only keep liking pictures on Instagram and make some healthy smoothies occasionally. So here is the next one called the Popeye Smoothie! 

It has a good amount of spinach to keep you charged through the morning. I have been told most greens are best to have for breakfast but I hardly follow this rule because I am most of the time just plodding along to get the breakfast done rather than think about making it healthier. But I am getting there slowly and I will hopefully make many more super healthy breakfasts.

 

A handful of spinach – I used organic baby spinach 

One banana 

Milk 

Pistachios or any nuts of your choice 

Simply blend it all together and sprinkle any seeds of your choice or you may just drink it as such. This time I added a scoop of pistachio protein powder because the husband requested for it. And it was delicious anyhow! So feel free to mix and match. But spinach seems to go very well with bananas for some reason. 

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From farm to plate(About my parents farm)

When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever learn to cook. I thought cooking was one of those menial tasks and it involved no amount of fun. Maybe because our mother never let us help her much. The best she wanted from us was that we helped her decide what to eat and that we finished what was served. But, as I got older and a little wiser if I may say so, I started to realise that there was more to cooking than merely chopping and mixing.

Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about where the tomatoes or spinach that you eat came from? No no, I am not that kind of a person who grows her own vegetables and eats only from her own garden. But I am the kind that likes to go pick stuff from the farm preferably or to the least from the market. I find it comforting. I am a little more independent here in London than in Chennai, so I end up buying way too much and often times from very expensive organic shops. I do this with a slight hope of avoiding those greasy takeaways that we do every now and then. Buying too many vegetables is one way of making sure that i almost never want to waste any of it and less of hearing that ” we have eaten out so much this week and we should be spending less bla bla” from the husband. But only the one who cooks can understand the emotions of another isn’t it??? So,When I do cook, I try to use the best possible ingredients.I don’t make what I made the day before or sometimes even a week before. I love food cooked with different coloured vegetables and a reasonable amount of flavour. Apart from trying to make it healthy,I do all of the above to earn that well deserved break from cooking. So when we eat out, I feel a little less guilty.

But here comes the best bit, I am actually very pleased to tell you that my parents own a small farm in Chennai which is a few miles away from our home. And ever so often we get some lovely greens and other vegetables delivered to our house. What a blessing!!! And every time my mother tells me on the phone that she cooked some really delicious stuff using our own farm fresh produce, I would feel so jealous. The last time while I visited home, I was lucky enough to have tasted lots of food made with vegetables from the farm. And needless to say, today I am a bit nostalgic and missing all the food and fun.

Here are some pictures of the produce from the farm which I clicked last year.

 

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The white long ones are Banana Stems which make for an amazing South Indian Style Kootu/Lentil coconut gravy.

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Raw Bananas, Guavas and Vazhapoo(Banana Stem flower)_MG_6981

Musmusukai Keerai(Mukia maderaspatana)

Usually served in the form of Kootu(Curry with lentils and coconut)

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Agathi keerai(Sesbania Grandiflora)

Usually served as Kootu or a dry stir fry with Toor dal and coconut

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Manathakkali Keerai (Solanum Nigrum)

Usually served as Kootu or a chutney

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Helpers around the farm and the house_MG_6993

The bunch of leaves below the Banana Stem flower is Murungai Keerai (Drumstick leaves). This is a very tasty one and usually cooked in Sambar or added to dosais and adais. 

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Banana stem flower (Best had as Kootu or a Vadai(Dumpling)_MG_6997

 

Agathi Poo (My mother made an amazing thokku(Pickle) with this flower and it was out of the world.  I will find a picture of this pickle and post it sometime soon. _MG_6998

 

The little black beauties in the picture above are fresh manathakkalis/black night shades/sunberry. These berries are sun dried and added to kara kuzhambu(a spicy tamarind based curry).

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I hope you enjoyed this post🙂

 

Smoothie series #3 Papaya, Dates& Seed mix Smoothie

I am not going to lie by saying I was so busy and I couldn’t post any smoothie recipes after the first two. I have only been eating some proper finger licking south Indian breakfast all this while on most days because the mother was here. So, it was clearly a well thought through decision to only make healthy smoothies once a week when family visits you. And get pampered for the rest of the days. Now, the family is back to good ol’ Madras and the three of us are back to the grind. Which means, I will be trying very hard to eat healthy and end up getting stressed only to gobble up cheesy potato wedges with Jalapenos and almost half of the medium(sometimes large) pizza which the husband lovingly orders to cool me down. Oh well! So,while I am still in the mood for a smoothie for breakfast, here is the next one.


To make this you will need : 

Fresh Ripe papaya- roughly cut to one cup

Two pitted dates 

A sprinkle of sunflower seeds and any other seeds of your choice. 

Milk or yoghurt of your choice 

First crush the seeds in the blender and then add fruit and milk. Blend altogether once and enjoy. 

Chickpea Raita/Dip

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It has been a long week for various reasons. But that doesn’t mean we ate boring meals. Chickpeas are much loved in our house and after making a little batch of sundal(spiced chickpeas)the other day , We had some leftover Chickpeas/Channa and so I decided to quickly whip up a dip. This was made to go with a simple Wheat Upma which would’ve tasted rather bland without any side. Upma is usually had with chutneys,pickles or Sambar. But this combination brought a lovely change.

I will get straight down to the recipe.

A Cup of Chickpeas

Chopped onions -1 

One Green chilly

Coriander leaves

Salt

Turmeric

Coconut powder or finely grated coconut 

Cumin powder

For the seasoning- Mustard seeds and some oil

Heat up some oil, add mustard seeds, green chilly and onions. Lightly saute onions and then add cooked chickpeas, salt and turmeric. Give a good mix and add coconut powder and coriander leaves and switch off the flame immediately to avoid burning coconut.

Beat yoghurt till smooth and add the above mixture and sprinkle some cumin powder on top for that earthy flavour to come through.

I am quite sure this dip would go well with vermicelli upma or biryani as well although I am yet to try it myself.

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Smoothie Trails #2 The very Berry Smoothie! 

Sometimes, when words are not enough to explain how one feels, there is always food. Food is also a form of a love. Atleast to me it is. I think it’s my duty to make good food regardless what we have been through the day. Because good food comforts you. But it is also my duty to make food that not only comforts the soul but also nourishes the body. And I am on a hunt to find recipes that can give you that instant gratification yet not increase your waist size. I may or may not end up finding many such recipes but for now, I am going to do my best and blend it all away to make smoothies. 

Here I present to you, the Very Berry Smoothie that may not give you an instant kick like a Oreo milkshake  but it surely is going to some good for the body. 

Here’s what you need : 

Mixed berries – I used fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. More of blueberries as we are a little partial to those little beauties. 

Milk or yoghurt – your favourite kind 

Oats or granola- you can skip this if you want to have a light drink. This time I chose to add some granola with raisins for a little bit of sweetness as berries are mostly tart. 

A spoon of Dark Cocoa powder – optional 

I also added a scoop of whey protein for my husband. But I would’ve preferred it without. 

Blend it all together till you reach a smoothie like consistency and there you have it. 


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Smoothie Trails #1 Banana Flaxseeds and Vanilla

I am kickstarting a new series called the “Smoothie Trails” on the blog. This series will feature some( I am aiming for 5-10 atleast) easy and healthy smoothie recipes to start your day on the right note. This is my attempt in spreading the word on eating well. All of these recipe ideas will use simple ingredients but most importantly fresh ones. You can also easily tweak any ingredients to make it just the way you would like it. Let’s get started with the first recipe that uses everyone’s favourite Bananas.

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To make this smoothie : 

Banana- 1 medium sized ripe

Any Milk of your choice or Greek Yoghurt

Vanilla pods or extract

Flaxseed powder – A spoon

Granola bites or Oatmeal to give you more fiber.

Blend all ingredients except the flaxseed powder to a thick puree. And sprinkle some flaxseed powder on top and there you have it.

 

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Some television talk and a healthy recipe 😁

First of all, I am not a TV person. I don’t remember the last time I sat down on the couch to watch some tele on my own. Not because I am so busy but it is just not my thing. Pah! What a boring wife/friend do I make of myself!

My way of relaxing is to lie down and browse for recipes after I have had a glass of good wine. When it comes to a drama or a sitcom, I hardly have any patience to begin with. But there have been a few shows which I really loved watching. Downton Abbey will remain my most favourite ever. I also liked watching Gavin and Stacey, Only fools and Horses and some episodes of IT crowd. Okay, they are all British because I am a little biased towards the English when it comes to humour, cakes and manners.

We now find a little time to watch our favourite shows after the man-cub goes to bed, but the challenge now is choosing which one to watch. So, every time my husband and I decide to watch, we spend way too much time on choosing than actually watching. This is one of those things like “where do we eat out” dilemma. But there are always exceptions. So, we do manage to find shows that interest both of us such as the ones I said above. But 99 times of 100 , we are on opposite poles and choose what each other won’t enjoy. So, one such show that I watched recently which I knew he wouldn’t enjoy is an American TV show called Grace and Frankie. It was surprisingly a delightful watch. I am now moving onto Season 2 which was released earlier this month. This is available on Netflix if you want to watch too. I am not great at reviewing TV shows as I don’t watch a lot but all I can say is if you are looking for something rather warm yet funny, then you might give this a try.

But before you do that, you may also check out my recipe for a delicious side. Perfect for munching on while you Grace and Frankie.

Oven baked Sweet Potato fries:

Step 1 : Cut Sweet potatoes lengthwise. Put them in a food bag, add salt, paprika and Olive oil. Shake the bag to coat evenly.You could leave for about 20 minutes before you bake. (Might be a good idea to turn the oven on now for preheating)

Step 2 : Arrange them on a baking tray. Make sure you use a cooking spray or some sort of oil to avoid sticking. And another tip I learnt is to separate each of these sticks so they don’t stick together and become mushy.

Step 3: Bake in a preheated oven at 190-200 degree celsius until they start to look like fries🙂

Serve on its own or with any sauce of your choice although my favourite is Sweet chilli.

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A Mangooooeey fudge recipe.

Is your mother one of those generous souls who never knows to cook in small quantities? Mine for sure doesn’t know. The other day when we were on the phone chatting, my mother had told me she was busy all day as her dearest sister visited her after long. I knew she must have cooked a lot and spent the day gossiping and also exchanging recipes etc etc etc. My auntie is no less when it comes to cooking. She cooks well and cooks a lot of food each meal. These two ladies can happily spend their time watching tele, shopping and what not. Simply because they have a lot of house helpers and they can afford to be served each meal. So much so that I do feel very jealous at times. But despite all the help, they  choose to cook each meal only taking very little help from the maids. They find so much pleasure and happiness in cooking for others. Be it for the men of the house or for maids, the food is the same. And needless to say, the food is way too delicious when it is cooked with so much love. I have seen my mum make dosas after dosas for her maid and still does. I would’ve expected it the other way round, but such is the kind of love the family shows when it comes to serving food. I failed to understand this respect while I was younger, but I am ever so glad that I have realised it now. I may not cook enough to feed an army like they do, but whatever little I cook, I cook with love.

While we are on the theme of cooking with love and no negativity, I did manage to flop a lovely recipe this week. I tried to bake a cardamom cake and failed miserably. Not because I went in with anger, but because I was lacking sleep. That’s all!  But we all tasted it a little bit while it was warm, and fed the rest to the ducks this morning. Oh poor ducks, they must’ve cursed me later on for giving them such awful cakes. But just to compensate for that cake disaster and feel rather good about fixing our vintage refrigerator, I thought I should make an easy dessert that I was quite sure would be a hit with the boys because whats not to love about anything with mango in it. I have been wanting to make fudges for a while and this came about as a good chance. It was whipped in five minutes and cooked in seven minutes. But took overnight to set as a fudge. Yummy was my son’s response while he was licking my mangoo-eeey fingers.

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I thought I should share this very simple recipe on the blog and here it is

Mango puree- 1 cup or less (I used Alphonso)

Milk powder-3 cups

Double cream – 180-200ml

Sweetened condensed milk – According to your preference for sweetness

A pinch of saffron

Mix all the ingredients except mango puree. Do a taste check for sweetness.

Microwave for 3-4 minutes till it starts to bubble on the sides. Take it out and tip in the puree and mix well.

Microwave again for 3-4 minutes till it has bubbled well and looks like a thick paste.

At this stage, it should be still a bit flowy. Now, take a plate or a wide pan, grease with ghee or butter. Spread the cooked mixture evenly. Let it cool before you refrigerate for setting.

Beautiful looking easy peasy fudge is ready to be gobbled up.

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first quiche

My inability to deal with helplessness and a quiche recipe

If you have been reading my blog, then you may have read a couple of posts on how much I miss my homeland.It looks like I am never going to get over this feeling. Well, there is so much to love about the place where you grew up and where you have such wonderful memories. So, when you have been taken away from where your heart belongs, how do you cope up with home-sickness? I make endless calls back home, I make food that smells so much like my home and I sometimes simply sit down and sob like a loopy little girl.

And when I do hear that any of the family member has been poorly, I find it so hard to be away. It may have only been a fever or some sort of a regular ache/ infection which has been checked with doctors and given assurance that he/she will be fine in a couple of days,but being thousands of miles away, I never know to stay calm. I may not shout out loud or panic but it would show all over my face.This feeling of being away and not being there to check on your lovely people often makes me want to hate my life at times. I want to admit that I still haven’t found a good way to deal with helplessness other than annoy my husband and make a few dozen calls to disturb everyone back home in such situations.

Sorry to have taken you down the gloomy train, I am leaving you with a very colourful recipe to cheer you up and I am sure you will forgive me for everything else.

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This is one of the most easiest quiche/savoury pie you will ever make. If you call yourself a vegetarian but don’t mind eggs, then you may love this recipe a tad more because it is loaded with vegetables. You may want to add/omit any veggies of your choice.

Here is what you need :

If you don’t feel like making the base by yourself, then skip this bit and buy a ready-made tart case or savoury base.

For the pastry base

1.5 cups of plain flour

Half cup of cold butter

a pinch of salt

Ice cold water enough to make a firm dough

Dry beans for baking pastry initially

For the filling :

2 eggs

One cup of milk

Vegetables of your choice- finely chopped

I have used Sweet potato and mixed peppers for this recipe.

Butter to season the veggies with any herbs of your choice

Pastry Base :

Add salt to flour. Mix flour and butter till crumbly. Then gradually add cold water until you gather all the flour mixture to form a dough. Now, fold the dough and wrap in a foil or cling film and chill it in the fridge until you make your vegetable filling.Give it about 20 minutes atleast to chill.

It may now be a good idea to turn the oven on for pre-heating at 180 degree.

If using microwave, then follow instructions on the manual on how to turn the convection mode on your microwave and you can make delicious varieties of quiches.

Filling :

Heat a pan with some butter. Once melted, add the herbs. I used Italian seasoning dried herbs. Now add the vegetables and cook till soft. Add enough salt and pepper for the veggies. Switch off flame.

Take the eggs and beat well. Add it to the milk. Once the veggies have slightly cooled, pour the egg+milk into the veggies and give a good mix.

You can also add grated cheese at this point this to make it very rich and also use double cream instead of milk. 

Take the pastry out and roll it thinly and slightly bigger than the size of your pan on a floured surface. Now slowly tip the rolled out pastry onto the pan you are baking with. Trim the excess and do any sort of pattern with fork around the edges or simply press it down with your hand. Now bake this pastry with some beans for ten minutes in the preheated oven. After ten minutes, remove the beans and pour the vegetable+milk/egg  filling you prepared and spread evenly and gently. Put it back in the oven and bake till you see a beautiful brown crust around the edges of the pastry and a well set egg vegetable mix. It took me about 20 minutes in my age old oven.

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Serve it warm with salad or just on its own for a nice sunny day lunch.

 

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Our reading journey –Part 2 of Our favourite books

 

If you have read my previous post here, you may have known that I embarrass my husband quite often. But you might have also read that I do a few things that save me from all the rubbish I get up to. Number one is cooking good food and here is number two– Reading with my little boy.

This post is also a continuation to one of my very early posts (Our favourite baby books so far! )on our favourite baby books. I am going to share our journey into the world of books and also list a few of the best books we have come across and are currently reading.

Initially during the baby days, the idea was to only sit down and feel the book. So it was like listening for ten seconds and then probably throwing it around and a bit of tasting too. Then gradually as he got to being 7 months old, we could sit down and read a bit more each day. Which meant, we had a favourite page in each book and we would only see that page in each book for weeks. But at this stage, I was happy that he at least sat down with me and sometimes very patiently too. He may have had no choice with his stubborn mummy but at least I knew he was getting close to loving the whole idea of reading a book. And when he was almost a year old, he started to sit through for four or five pages. After which, we decided to venture out to little story books. Our first story book called “The very fiddly fish” was a big success. It really is a very cute story. This is the time he actually started enjoying books more than I ever thought he would. He loved to point and asked me to repeat the same word over and over again. And he would do this with every book. And it was amazing to see the enthusiasm at such a tender age.

After he got to being 18months old, I started to let him choose his own books from the library. This way, I felt he enjoyed every book we borrowed. Today, Although he enjoys choosing his books to take home, he also finds swiping the card and throwing the book into the return box equally exciting. I find great pleasure in seeing all this and also a bit of relief that he can do all these little jobs by himself.

For now, we read as and when he insists. Some days it might be around lunch time, some days as soon as we wake up, or some very odd times like when mummy is dressing up. So, there is no pattern except for our bedtime collections. While I do most of the reading to him, he also gets very excited to share his new books with his daddy. It is rather adorable to watch them read together as it is very different from the way he reads with me. I like going in a particular manner which may look rather silly if you watched me read with him. But my approach has always been baby-led. He chooses and I follow. When he reads with daddy, it is fun to watch too because they go about looking randomly and sometimes they even build their own stories. Yay for the love of books!!!!

In no particular order, here are some of our current favourites.


Touch and feel books are really wonderful. Usborne books have a lot of topics under this series. We never got a chance to borrow much of them as they were not available to loan. But we were lucky to read a few of them in the children centres. These books have a simple theme – a little story told using various structures and textures in each page. And the phrase “that’s not my…” in every page gets the anticipation and keeps them engaged for longer. And they use real-life objects like vehicles or animals to explain the various textures like bumpy or rough or smooth etc.


We would also highly recommend the below books as they are so good to read on their own too. So These can come in handy and will  keep your toddler busy for a while when you have to do your chores or  in places where one has to wait. There are lots of pictures in all of these to keep the imaginations going.

 Oh, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love reading with my little boy. It probably is the next best thing to eating and sleeping  for us. It gives us such joy and a lot of togetherness which is what I love the most. Ok, besides the bonding factor, it really is being a great tool overall.

What are your thoughts on reading with your kid? Tell us your favourites too…