Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

" I don't mind bananas if they come in this form " is a  moment for me.

I remember my mom telling us, even when sick she  can't have bread. That's how many South Indians are.Bread is often considered as a food when you fall sick.We always love our Idli and Dosa so much . I'm not an exception too. Once a week making idli batter and some other variety of dosa batter is a mandate for me. Last week was so hectic that I didn't get to follow my routine.This weeks breakfast had to be something like a quick fix that would help us a couple days... that's when this bread happened again .



I always look for an alternative method to use bananas as my son shine literally hates them. He would come up with  different reasons each time you give him a banana.Oh no  mushy... oh no slimy .... smells horrible ..etc I wonder no one would have such an enmity with this humble fruit like him. It was almost 6 years of battle to make him eat a banana , happily. When he tasted this banana bread few months ago , he said 'I don't mind bananas if they come in this form' with a wicked smile. And that was a moment for me.Since then , I bake this bread often as I always end up having over ripe bananas at home.



After having won the six year battle , do you think I will win a 60 year one ? I'm sure if  Amma visits me here, she would take back her words on bread. It is 100 % whole wheat , no eggs , only minimum sugar.. all good but some butter .... I believe moderation is the key.

Why not regular wheat Flour ?
It  makes the bread kind of heavy not as light & soft like the store bought one.

Why Did I use Date Syrup?
I wanted to to use minimum amount of sugar . I learned from my  yoga master that heating up honey is not good, so used up some date syrup for light sweetness and  also achieving darker color on the bread.

Replacements and alternatives ?
If you include eggs in your diet , replace flax seeds and 4 tbsp water  paste with 2 large eggs.
Replace white whole wheat flour with All  purpose flour / Maida , the same quantity or a mix of wheat flour and All purpose flour each 3/4 cup.

Why Dry fruits ?
The choice of dry fruits is purely up to you, But the dried cranberries gently cuts through the sweetness and makes that little bit of tart here and there makes you feel the bread is sweet with minimal sugar. Kind of cheating though :)
And the walnuts adds a beautiful texture and of course taste to the bread.






This is not a sponsored post. I have been baking with King Arthur's white whole wheat flour for a long now. If you are like me trying to avoid all purpose flour, trust me this works a charm in baking. The light and airy bread kind of melt in mouth is just perfect like store bought one without the guilt of  using APF. One or two slices with a glass of milk makes a perfect breakfast.



Ingredients

White Whole Wheat Flour ....................................... 1 1/2 cups
Ground Cinnamon.......................................... 1 tsp
Baking Soda .................................................. 1 tsp
Salt ................................................................. a pinch
Dark brown Sugar ...........................................1/3 cup
Date Syrup/ Liquid Dates ................................2 tbsp
Butter .............................................................1 /2 cup *room temperature
Flax seeds ....................................................... 2 tbsp
Vanilla Extract .................................................... 1 tsp
Banana ( over ripe) mashed ............................... 1 cup
Walnuts ............................................................. 1/4 cup , chopped (optional)
Dried Cranberries ............................................. 1/4 cup(optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 325 F .
Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
Grind flax seeds with 4 tbsp water to a smooth paste.
In a mixing bowl add wheat flour, cinnamon, salt , baking soda and mix thoroughly or sift well.
In another mixing bowl , cream butter and sugar , add in vanilla extract , date syrup, bananas and mix well with a hand blender.
Gently add in the flour mixture in parts , continuing with hand blender.
Finally stir in the cranberries and chopped nuts.
Transfer to a prepared loaf tin.
Bake in the middle rack for about 50 to 60 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
Let rest for 10 minutes and transfer to a  cooling rack.
Let cool completely before storing.
Tastes better the next day according to me.

Note:

You can  add mixed nuts and fruits of your choice or avoid.
Cooking time varies , it would be better to keep an eye after 50 minutes.
Store in a airtight container and stays well for a couple days in refrigerator.






Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Berry , Coconout and Sesame Smoothie

Berry Coconut Sesame Smoothie Rich and creamy with a hint of nutty taste from sesame makes a great recipe for a quick smoothie ready in 5 minutes. Serves 3 Ingredients: Strawberry, Coconut milk, Sesame seeds, add as many ingredient tags as you need.
Boston is known for its unpredictable weather. When I was surprised of early spring this time, snow happened just when it was about to be the time for cherry blossom. Well, happy that weather is settling down a bit and  50 F is fair enough to go out comfortably with  minimum layers. I usually have a list of seasonal recipes, well , how much I end up making is a different story.



Now coming to the smoothie story, My son shine had an early release and he had a plan for his play date. All his mind was on the play date that he didn't even focus on lunch. I knew that he will be famished when he is back home and  would need an energetic healthy drink to cope up with swim lessons later. I had made this berry smoothie a bit ahead and I was relaxing ( read as acting as if I don't care much about him). The boy came home and immediately he was opening the refrigerator. Mom I see a colorful drink , is it for me ? I said No , Dad wanted me to make a healthy drink for him as he will be heading to Gym, A reply came back as a bullet " Even I have swimming today, i too need energy mom". Exactly what I was waiting for.



Sometimes I do this kind of tricks to him as you know, kids of this age , have a kind of ego, no matter how you tell , they are not ready to follow until they reallywant to. You need to do some tactics :) :) . Let go sometimes helps a long way. He gulped down a glass of drink in no time and wanted a refill. If you are looking for more options check here .



I like to add sesame seeds where ever possible . They are a good source of iron, copper , manganese, phosphorous , magnesium . Also they are rich in calcium and dietary fiber. For vegetarian , these tiny seeds are as good as gold. Little bit every days makes a great impact in your health.More probiotic and calcium and protein from yogurt  and  minerals rich coconut milk together contribute to a healthy drink here.


Ingredients

Strawberry ........................................1 1 /2 cups (fresh / frozen)
Plain Yogurt ....................................... 1 cup ( refer notes for vegan)
Sesame seeds ..................................... 1 tbsp heaped
Coconut Milk ..................................... 1/4 cup
Honey .............................................. 2 tbsp ( or any other sweetener)

Method

  • Wash and hull the berry, place everything in a blender and blend until done.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Transfer to serving glasses and serve immediately.

Note:-

  • I recommend serving immediately as the frozen berries tend to release more water later.
  • Use berries of your choice.
  • Replace yogurt with non diary yogurt and sweetener for vegan and lactose free smoothie.



Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chickpea , Soy and Rice Crackers

That was enough of rest after spraining my leg and almost 2 weeks of  boring days as I was advised to stand only for critical needs. Looking at the positive side , I have charted out up coming recipes, watched a lot of movies, lots of pinterest time etc. When 'sonshine' was complaining about routine snacks , I had to make this, you got me, I can shoot and blog this.



This idea of crackers had been there for almost an year.Don't ask me why I waited for an year, that's just me , the lazy me. If you are aware of thattai , a traditional snack from TN,which is a deep fried version, you will agree with me on the basic idea. But then I wanted something that is real healthy so that I can pack this for school snack. The whole thought process started from here. I chose chickpea and soy bean flour and a bit of rice flour for that crispness. Toppings and flavors depends on what you like, I have settled on garam masala and for that little bit of nuttiness, some sesame , flax and nigella. Now you have the protein from soy and chickpea and you know the benefits of sesame and flax.



The first try wasn't a successful one by any means. After 5 of my trial and errors  method approach  , I got the perfect recipe in terms of combination and quantity of ingredients.Any kids party or movie time or game day, this will be perfect with a dip. In case you are looking for more snack options,
Falafal with Thahini
Cheese balls with greens
Milaga Bajji / Stuffed Mirchi bajji
Panner and mint pinwheels
 Some more here




 If you have a rainy day like the one I have now , make yourself a cup of masala chai & a bowl of crackers , enjoy every bit of the rain , by slowly sipping the cup of chai and some crackers in between , don't forget to play some mild & soothing music. That's all , you can be in your own world. After I click the publish button ,exactly this is what I'm going to do with some Illayaraja's (Raja Sir) songs and more rain, drenched trees with new new buds...... I know I will be in a different world.



Ingredients

Chickpea flour ...................................................... 1 cup
Soy bean Flour .....................................................1/4 cup
Rice Flour ...........................................................1/4 cup
Ground red Chile / paprika ...................................1/2 tsp
Garam masala .....................................................1/4 tsp
Salt .................................................................. to taste
Oil...................................................................... 1 tbsp + little extra
Warm water ....................................................... 1/4 cup

Topping
Sesame seeds .....................................................1 1 /2 tbsp
Flax seeds ...........................................................1 1 /2 tbsp
Nigella seeds....................................................... 1 1/2 tbsp

Method 

  •  In a wide mixing bowl mix everything except for water.
  • Rub the mixture with oil thoroughly, with your palm.
  • Add water slowly and make a smooth dough.
  • Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Line baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Divide the dough into three equal sized3 balls.
  • Now, take a rolling board and place a piece of parchment paper on it.
  • Grease your hand with some oil, flatten a ball of dough  slightly with your palm and place it on the rolling board.
  • Cover with another parchment paper and gently roll the dough to a thin disc of 1/8th inch thickness.
  • Sprinkle some sesame, flax and nigella over the top, and gently roll the pin over it to secure them in place.
  • Trim the edges and Cut the disc into  vertical strips.
  • Transfer to the lined baking tray. Repeat the same with the remaining dough.
  • Spary / brush some oil on top of the strips.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the tray once after 10 minutes.
  • Cool them on a wire rack and store in a airtight container.
Notes

  • You can find the soybean  flour , chick pea flour and rice flour  from any Indian Grocers and so is Garam Masala.
  • Keep an eye on the oven after 15 minutes.







Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sun Shine Smoothie & The Flavors of Islamorada , Florida



It always feels good to take a break from routine, relax and rejuvenate and comeback with double strength. After few rounds of discussion , we settled on a trip to Florida for the winter break . Being from East Coast , the name Florida itself gives that thrill and excitement to let loose yourself to that gorgeous sun shine and that too in December where Boston will be completely blanketed with white snow.




This being our second trip , we planned to visit those we missed on our first trip. Key west and Space center topped the list.

We felt as if we were liberated as we don't need layering or that heavy jackets weighing  some pounds any more. Our mornings are dedicated to Miami beach. It is one of its kind of experience to forget about anything and everything and surrender before nature, the early sunrise, the water , the golden light,the waves , the mist .  While my son shine enjoying his time in water I used to sit and relax and try to capture that scenic beauty and save for rest of my life.  The gorgeous array of coconut trees and palm trees all along the roads would remind me of my place in India and perhaps that's the reason I feel more connected to this place, I guess.



After breakfast , it was time to visit Downtown Miami. As December is peak season in Miami, we spotted tourists from across the globe. The ferry ride, the gorgeous park are something that we enjoyed the most here.


The Next 2  days all for Florida Keys & KEY WEST, the southern most city of continental USA. It was almost 3 hours of  drive from Miami . I would rather call it the Southern most paradise with  most natural scenic beauty. With the sub tropical weather, the diverse culture , the unique architecture and history, this place is bejeweled by mother nature and carries an unbeatable romantic appeal. I bet you will fall in love with this place even if you are not much into nature.



Being so close to Cuba, the Florida Keys comprises of Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon , Big Pine Key and Key West . It was all  about water , water and water and which we loved the most.  While you travel through , you will feel like you are in the mid of Atlantic as both your sides will be covered with water. The ocean, the sunshine, the water , the wind ....together it makes a whole new experience. We took our time to explore Islamorada as the island attracted us the most with impeccable , serene beauty after that long travel.



Fishing , fossils and boating  , Diving, eco tours,  water sports, on the water activities and dolphin encounter scooba diving and so much more to do here.  You wouldn't regret any single minute you spend here.  The everglades , Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay on one side and the Atlantic and the beautiful reef on the other side. What else can one ask for?




 If you haven't visited yet , all I can say is , you are missing a great experience that lasts your life time.


Now comes the smoothie I enjoyed there after my morning walk .



Ingredients 

Florida Navel oranges ........................................ 2
Pineapple .......................................................... 1 cup, chopped
Banana................................................................1/2 cup mashed
Coconut Milk .....................................................1/4 cup
Plain Greek yogurt...............................................1/4 cup, I used homemade one
Honey ................................................................2 tsp (optional)
Mint ................................................................ few leaves for garnish



Method

Blend everything except mint and transfer to a tall glass, garnish with mint, enjoy.

Those cute coasters are from my best friend Dolphia, isn't that beautiful ?

Want more options ? Check out Sandhya's Tropical Smoothie , another one on the theme KeyWest.

Disclosure :  This post is sponsored by The Florida Keys and Key West in connection with Honest Cooking 










Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spring salad with Carrots and Cukes


Days are getting brighter and warmer here.The first thing I do in the morning is to open my patio blinds. I know I can't open the door , I can't step out. Still I do this every morning. Hubby would be asking me " There is nothing other than the bald trees and I wonder what you are seeing every day? "I don't know. I will stand near the patio door and see the outside world, the so called bald trees and parked vehicles and some sky . This is what I see pretty much every day.But I feel very happy when i do this. I feel like life is back when I see Sun.  Now this week , I'm seeing some buds on those bald trees . I'm all happy feet to go out and enjoy my nature walk, soon.

 It's been a long since i shared a recipe here. I kind of lost my rhythm I guess and wonder what to write. Hope to improve soon. Till then bear with me.



My sonshine loves salads and today he will be early from school. These are the days I get to feed him enough veggies and now you know why I'm making this.

This is a simple salad with available fresh produce. You can add and subtract veggies based on your choice. Most of the time I go with mix and match of veggies and nuts to make it interesting  with  some crunch in every bite.


Ingredients:

Carrots ......................... 2 medium
Cucumber ..................... 2
Lettuce .......................... 1 head
Dried Cranberries............. a handful
Toasted sesame seeds....... 1 tbsp (optional)
Salt .................................. to taste
Pepper ............................ to taste
Lime ................................ juice 1 tsp
Olive oil ............................ 1 1/2 tsp
Tahini ............................... 1 tsp


Method:

Wash and prep the veggies.
I have chopped them as disks .
Throw in all the veggies along with cranberries in a wide mixing bowl.
In a small bowl , whisk together oil, lime juice, salt , pepper. Stir in tahini.
Pour this dressing over the salad.
Top it off with toasted sesame seeds if using .
Serve immediately.

Note:

Mix the dressing just before serving , otherwise the salad becomes soggy.
You can add toasted almonds / crushed roasted peanuts .
You can use orange juice in the place of lime to make variation.










Thursday, February 18, 2016

Snow 2016 and the magical moments

Its been a long and hope you are all doing good. Whether I blog or not , I try to capture some special moments of life. When Dolphia and Meena shared, I got motivated to share what I captured.
It was all white out when it was snowing then suddenly it became dark and that magic happened.
The light after that storm was so mystical . All thanks to my Sinus problem I hardly step out to enjoy snow, but this magical light pulled me out.

After that when  the community snow blowers were doing their best, I tried my best to record my son shine enjoying to his fullest.It's not that easy to capture him and that too when he is outdoor, enjoying something.




And my first trial on creating a GIF.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Holiday Spiced Apple cake



Where to start,I'm not sure. What to share I'm not clear. But I'm just going with the flow. It was one winter morning that we got connected to each other.Thanks to FB without which we wouldn't have met. We took our time to know each other. The first thing  that clicked for me is the straight forward approach. Slowly we started understanding each other. From that minute to until now , this is one such relationship I would cherish my life time. What relationship am I talking about ? Any clues....



Whether I'm bored , whether I'm confused , whether I'm super energetic, I have something to share . This one such bonding has given me so much . I have grown in leaps and bounds as a person and as a blogger. I have realized my pitfalls and started working on them. When hundreds are ready to pull you down when you are confused, this one will  be there to guide you, help  and constructively criticize . My day never ends without OUR little time. It is very common to help whenever you have a free time. But this one is a super busy bee, who works full time , but always plans things perfectly , which I feel is the ultimate strength.



Those where the days we send greetings with personalized messages, handmade ones , then came telephones to pass messages instantly. Now everything is through FB and Whatsapp. But this one made our Diwali a memorable one with her hand crafted tea and a personalized message leaving us emotional.



If you are still clueless , it's none another than Dolphia Nandi Arnstein from Storyofcooks. And after all. November is about Thanksgiving. I don't cook a ThanksGiving meal , that's when I decided to cook something and dedicate a post to someone who has been special to me.



Now coming to this apple cake, this is simple and straight flavors, mild sweet making it perfect coffee or tea time cake. I didn't wanted it to be rich , but you can add chopped nuts or dry fruits , if you prefer.



I have used white wheat flour , as I like to avoid all purpose flour/ maida. It's totally your choice. You can chose a combination of whole wheat flour and APF combination too.



Ingredients

White Wheat Flour ...................................... 2 cups
Dark Brownsugar .......................................1 cup
Butter ....................................................... 1 stick / 1/2 cup room temperature
Milk .........................................................1/4 cup
Egg........................................................... 2 large
vanilla Exgtract ........................................ 2 tsp
Salt ....................................................... a pinch
Baking Powder ...................................... 1 tsp
Baking Powder ...................................... 1 tsp
Ground Cinnamon ................................... 1.5 tsp
Nutmeg ................................................... 2 pinches, finely grated
Cardamom ...............................................1
Cloves ....................................................2
Apples ..................................................1 cup grated
Apples ................................................ thinly sliced for garnish

Method

Grease a bundt pan with butter and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a spice grinder , grind cloves, cardamom  with nutmeg and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl , sift together the flour, spices, salt , baking powder, baking soda.
In a large bowl, whisk together butter and eggs one at a time.
Add in the sugar and beat well along with milk. Finally throw in the grated apples and stir well.
Now mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in batches.
Try not to over do the mixture.
Transfer to the prepared pan and place it in the top rack.
Cook for about 25 minutes or until the tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool the cake and move it to the serving platter.
Arrange the thinly sliced apples and dust with a bit of spices to garnish.