Category Archives: FOOD

About quick meal, healthy food, nutrition, healthy-tasty food for kids

Indian diet 50% short of high-quality Protein

After food shortage in India was resolved by the green revolution, nutrition experts in India found that the Indian diet was inadequate in the intake of good quality protein. According to experts, the diet should be balanced including carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Protein is an essential component for every stage of life.

During pregnancy, the vegetarian mother should take milk for high-quality protein. After birth, the requirement of protein is very high in 0-2 age group and Adolescence. In the old age, people consume less food and proportionately the consumption of protein is also reduced. During the old age, the amount of protein should not be lowered.

There is a misconception in India that protein is for body building only. Protein is required in every stage of human life. On the other hand, if you have a protein only diet and do not exercise then the protein will go out of the body with urine. You must have a balanced diet of high-quality protein, carbohydrates and fats.

For instance, you can have idli with sambar, rice with rajma and a glass of milk. All the three meals in a day and the two snack must include a high-quality protein food. Milk, poultry and meat are sources of high-quality protein which is digestible. Vegetables are less digestible compared to the nonvegetarian sources.

Nutrition experts say that cereals are a good source of protein, and the ideal ratio of consumption of cereals and proteins is 60:40. Too much or too little protein is not good for health. During the healing process of some diseases, protein is essential.

To maintain a healthy lifestyle we must follow the right ratio of protein, energy and exercise.high-quality protein

In order to increase the awareness of protein among the Indians and to clarify the misconceptions, Indian DIetetic Association (IDA), Delhi Chapter on 18th July declared 24th-30th July 2017 as ‘The Protein Week’. Dr B Sesikeran, renowned nutritional pathologist said,  “In India, there are many myths around the sources of protein, people are confused about their dietary protein intake and often assume that it is for body builders only, however, protein is a fundamental nutrient across life stages that helps in maintaining good health and active ageing.”

The initiative is supported by Protein Foods Nutrition Development Association of India (PFNDAI). Protein intake impacts every life stage. “Our vegetarian diets are already deficient in protein both in quantity and quality, so we need to supplement with protein which not only fills up the gap but is high quality enough to ensure our cereal and pulse-based protein quality would be elevated,” said Dr J S Pai, Executive Director, PFNDAI.

Speaking at first such initiative in the country, to spread awareness and discuss myths and realities of protein, Ms Anuj Agarwala, Nutritionist, Department of Pediatrics, AIIMS and Former President, IDA Delhi Chapter, said “It is important to begin early and focus on a protein rich diet right from the start, which should be continued through all the life stages of development and growth. Children particularly have high protein demand to propel their growth during growing years, as they grow in spurts. Demands for protein among children is particularly high during preteen and teen phases of growth spurts.”

During The Protein Week, IDA with PFNDAI, will hold educational seminars across the country to spread awareness and discuss myths and realities of protein.

4 Lent food of Kerala Christians

Yesterday, was Easter and the 40 days of fasting and 10 days of the passion week has come to end. This year many people said that they never knew that christian fasted and abstained from non-vegetarian food, including milk and alcohol, for 50 days in a year.

Fasting, abstaining from certain food, penance and praying has relevance in the Christian religion, from the time of Christ itself. Christ went on a 40 days fast in the wilderness, before beginning  his 3 years ministry leading to his Crucifixion and Resurrection. 40  days lent is one of the basic foundation the Orthodox and the Catholic churches, founded by the Apostles. Believers get purified, detoxified and they get the energy to survive spiritually for the next one year.

Christianity came to Kerala in the early days itself, when St. Thomas (who is know as Apostle of India), came to India in AD 52. In the past 2000 years, Kerala Christian’s tradition of prayer, food, and culture is a blend of the Bible, the life of Jesus, the association with other Apostolic Churches in the world and Kerala tradition.

The first forty days of fasting is purely full of prayers, fasting even without drinking water upto 12:00 pm; and having lunch after the Mid day prayer and kneeling 40 times. The simplest form of fasting is abstaining from meat, fish and egg for 50 day. The toughest form of fasting depends on the one who fasts. Some of the Ashram priests, it is said, have light lunch including kanji (water rice or gruel) and stir fried moong (green gram). And they have even lighter supper — Such men do not live by bread alone but by the word of God.

There are a lot of symbolism connected with the lent season, which raises nostalgia. Certain lent food prepared during the last 10 days of the passion week have lot of symbolic value. The 40 days of fasting ends on the Friday before Good Friday, and the next 10 days are dedicated for more prayers and more spiritual activities.

Here are some the food items which are symbolic of certain holy days of the Lenten period:

Lent Food
Kozukattai

Kozhukattai Saturday

The family of Lazarus, and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, was Jesus’s favourite. Lazarus died and was buried. On the third day Jesus came and rose Lazarus from the dead. It is said that Kozukattai was one of the favourite food of Jesus. He had kozukattai with Lazarus family. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is remembered on this Saturday.

People make kozukattai at home and share it with friends, relatives and neighbours. Kozuattai are steamed rice dumplings with a stuffing of cocounut gratings, jaggery and a pinch of cardamom.

 

Lent Food
Pesaha Appam

Vattayappam/Pesaha Appam

The tradition of Pesaha Appam dates back in the Jewish tradition 2000 years before the birth of Jesus. The Jews remember the Passover day when the Israelite’s left the Egyptian slavery and started their Exodus to Israel. During the preparation to leave Egypt, the Israelite’s were asked by Moses to prepare unleavened bread. On the day before his Crucifixion on Good Friday, Jesus observed the Jewish Passover festival with his 12 disciples, at the house of Mark. The ‘Last Supper’ painting of Michelangelo depicting the event is very popular.

Kerala Christian prepare unleavened bread or Pesaha appam (Pesaha mean Maundy Thursday) with rice flour and urad dal as the main ingredients. There are a number of different variation of preparing pesaha appam. And an accompaniment called Pesaha pal is also prepared. In traditional homes all the members of the family gather round the table, with the head of the family at the main chair. The youngest member of the family will ask the head of the family about the relevance of the festival. He will explain and distribute the appam to the family members.

Good Friday Kanji

Lent food
Good Friday Kanji

Rice Gruel (kanji) at the end of the long Good Friday service is a nostalgia for Kerala Christians. After fasting for the whole day, and having Chorukka (bitter drink) at the end of the service, the Rice Gruel, with stir fried green moong (green gram) and kadu manga(a special mango pickle) is an incomparable delicacy blended with spiritual and traditional values. In olden day the Kanji was served in earthen place with jack fruit leaves shaped as spoons.

Lent Food
Wherever Kerala Christians go they carry their tradition – Courtesy Roshini and Manu Stephen, ScotlandVellayappam

Vellayappam

Vellayappam is kind of dosa prepared from rice flour, crated coconut and; fresh coconut toddy or yeast used as leavening agent. On the two main festivals of Kerala Christians, Christmas and Easter, vellayappam is prepared in large numbers for the relatives, neighbours and helpers. For a Kerala Christian Christmas cake is exotic. For them vellayappam with chicken or mutton stew symbolises the celebrations of Christmas and Easter.

Food Stories of Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Yesterday during Mother Teresa’s canonisation there were two trending topics – ‘SaintTeresa’ and ‘FraudTeresa’. Many considered here a Saint, other’s viewed her sainthood with doubt “how can this be”.

Two thousand years back a 12 year old girl asked the same question to an angel that appeared to her and told her that she will bear a son. She said to the angel, “How can this be, when I haven’t known a man”. From that moment, Mary the mother of Jesus underwent many pains and sufferings. Now she is the most revered, after Jesus Christ, and the foremost among the Saints of Jesus.

Man is fallible, and so there will always be doubts about how human beings with all their inherent faults can be declared saints. A saint is one who is in heaven with God because of their holiness and virtue.

We only have third party knowledge of saints, mostly through verbal stories passed on from generation to generation, because holy people are declared as saints years after the death of their contemporaries.  I couldn’t meet Mother Teresa, so all the  that I know about mother is third party information –  through books; and the experience of others. Stories about her inspired me all through out my  life. Many prominent people have shared their rendezvous with mother, which changed their life forever; and listening to their experience changed my perception of life.

Saint Teresa took care of the sick people, infected and dying on the street in a way which is unimaginable to replicate for an ordinary human. There was a story, in a newspaper, of a woman who was a strong anti-campaigner for Mother Teresa, but when she saw the missionaries of charity helping a sick man lying on the street, she changed her opinion. Because, the Sisters were doing a service which she couldn’t imagine herself doing.

Mother Teresa inspired people to share food, and to give the left over food to the needy. Giving away food is the simplest act of charity which any human can do. The inspiring food stories , share in this post, resonates Saint Teresa’s famous quote; “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Here are some of St. Teresa’s food stories that inspired many to do charity:

The story of the broken biscuits

In Khushwant Singh’s book ‘Unforgettable Women’, he says that once he went with Mother Teresa to a biscuit factory where the Manager was ready with excuses like there was a Union Strike, they were already doing charity, and so on.  She thanked the Manager for all the broken biscuits they had given in the previous years and continued **”You must have lots of problems. Everything is in short supply— flour, butter, sugar.’ It was evident that Mr Mukherjee’s speech had been taken out of his mouth………….** When Mother continued with stories of the hungry destitute, Mukherjee finally delivered forty large boxes of broken biscuits to Mother Teresa.

Picking up waste food at parties

Usha Uthup the popular singer, has 47 years of association with Mother. She says mother had tremendous influence on her and St. Teresa never talked about religion though she was from a different religion. Once Mother told Uthup that when she goes to parties, she should pick up the left over food and give to the needy. Though her assignment was embarrassing Usha Uthup did her job dutifully.

Charity in the air

Jiji Thomson, former Chief Secretary of Kerala, said that once when he boarded a flight there was an announcement that Mother was also on board. Everyone clapped their hands. When the food was being served there was another announcement that if there is any leftover food, the passengers were requested to hand it over to Mother. Every single passenger gave their food packet to Mother.

The flight story shows the universal impact of Mother. Imagine who all might have been on board- atheists, youths enjoying life, Kids waiting for the tasty  meal, etc. All of them forsook their meal to be part of a great service to humanity.

**Excerpts from ‘Unforgettable Women’ by Khushwant Singh

3 Recipe with Milk Powder – Nido

While rearranging old books, I discovered Mother’s recipe book in which she noted down recipes she prepared 30 years back. I remember mother trying out all the recipes and I had also helped in the experiments. Sometimes the recipes came out well in the first trial and sometimes we had to retry and tweak to get the recipe perfectly made.

Since it is Raksha Bandhan I thought why not try out few desserts in the book. I decided to try Gulab Jamun, Milk Chocolates and Rasagulla recipe with milk powder. There was also a Rasgulla recipe with milk, but to add a new twist to the old recipes I thought why not try to make Rasagulla recipe with milk powder instead. Mother used to prepare all the milk powder recipes with Nido, so I too used the same Milk Powder.

Before sharing the recipes I would like to apologise that I am not a cooking expert. I try out new recipes so as to give a creative twist to the daily routine diet, hence there will be a lack of perfection and professionalism in the presentation of the desserts. However, believe me, they are tasty, healthy and nutritious.

Do try out these recipes and post pictures of the desserts in the comment section of this post. I am sure, your preparations will be much presentable than the pictures used in this post. Also, tell us what changes you made to the ingredients, and methods, mentioned in this recipe. The best recipes will receive attractive Gifts.

 Rasgulla

Just discovered mother's book of recipe with milk powder like Rasgulla, gulab jamun and milk chocolate. Mother used Nido in those day, so did I.

Ingredients

Milk Powder      10 tbsp

Water                        1litre

Essence                    1tsp

Vinegar                 1/4Cup

For Syrup

Sugar                  11/2Cup

Water                 3 Cup

Preparation

Boil the water, add the milk powder and stir well. When the milk boils, lower the flame and pour the vinegar. When the milk curdles strain into a cloth. Tie the cloth and hold under a running tap for two minutes. Hang the cloth for three hours. After three hours, squeeze the cloth well to remove any excess water. Transfer the coagulated milk or Chenna from the cloth to a plate. Knead the Chenna well with the palm of your hands till they are soft and make small balls.

Mix the sugar and water in a big vessel. After the sugar boils and becomes a bit sticky, add the chenna balls. Cover and cook on medium heat, turning the vessel around slowly after every 10 minutes. Remove from stove after 35 minutes and add rose essence.

Milk Chocolates

Just discovered mother's book of recipe with milk powder like Rasgulla, gulab jamun and milk chocolate. Mother used Nido in those day, so did I.

Ingredients

Icing Sugar or Sugar       200g

Milk Powder                          50g

Cocoa Powder                      50g

Vanaspati Ghee                 175g

Preparation

Mix the powders and sift three times. Double boil* the mixture in a steel bowl. Add the ghee and stir in one direction until the mixture becomes soft and smooth. Pour the mix into a chocolate mould and refrigerate for an hour. To make chocolate cookies, dip the cookies in the chocolate mix and refrigerate.

Gulab Jamun

Just discovered mother's book of recipe with milk powder like Rasgulla, gulab jamun and milk chocolate. Mother used Nido in those day, so did I.

Ingredients

Milk Powder                             18tbsp (tablespoon)

Maida (All purpose Flour)    4tbsp

Oil                                                      3tbsp

Milk Cream                                200ml

Baking Powder                            1tsp

For Syrup

Sugar                                        3 Cups

Water                                   6-7Cups

Preparation

Mix all the ingredients with milk cream and make a soft dough. Make small balls and deep fry them on a low heat. While frying, let the dough balls remain in oil for a while before turning them slightly.

Mix the water and sugar and boil till the syrup become a bit sticky. Remove from the stove and add the fried balls. Close with a lid and let the jamun’s soak in the syrup for an hour.

*Double Boil: Boil some water in a vessel, and when the water boils remove from the stove. Now place the chocolate mix, in a smaller vessel, in the boiled water and stir.

Follow traditional diets to reduce obesity

While being interviewed for the post of a dietitian , a candidate was asked if she were a poor housewife and she wanted to cook a nutritional meal for her husband what would she cook. She said she would prepare drumstick leaf curry and sardine curry. Two items very cheaply available in Kerala two decades ago.

Nowadays our concern is about obesity. How to prepare food that is nutritional and reduces obesity. The answer is there in our traditional diet, the ingredients are available in the market. We can also grow a few vegetables in our little balconies.

I feel that ‘elaborate daily meals’ is the fad of the 21st. Having tasty food three times a day and ensuring right combination of food is as a result of the consumerist culture of today.  In my childhood days, on a normal day, I don’t remember having the right kind of accompaniment for a breakfast dish: Instead of chutney or sambar there will be sugar with idli, and instead of puri with chole there will be puri with mango pickle. The right combinations were available only on special occasions. Most children in my native village use to have pazhamkanji (old rice) for breakfast.

There were many reasons for the mismatch in food combination:

  • Shops were few and far between
  • Very few cooking gadgets
  • Unavailability of ready-made ingredients
  • Less income
  • Taste was of least priority
  • No choice: we ate what was put before us
  • Very little exposure to restaurant food

Nowadays we give the highest priority to taste, whereby nutrition comes second in importance. We ensure to have apt combinations for the meals and also taste should be as good as the restaurant one. So we add a lot of masalas and sometimes cook the food for a long time so as to get a particular tasty texture. Since tickling the taste palate in of utmost importance, we prepare different types of food every day. If yesterday we had roti, today we have puri and tomorrow idli. According to experts if we have the same kind of food every day we consume less, on the other hand, if different kinds of food are cooked then we have more food since we relish a new variety of food. For instance, the cooked rice left overnight soaked in water (pazhamkanji) and consumed for breakfast, was a tradition in Kerala. There are many nutritional benefits of pazhamkanji. Why not follow traditional diets to reduce obesity.

Go back to traditional diet………..

Nowadays we revive our tradition in our dressing, family values and ceremonies. When it comes to food, we take the tastier options of different cultures and from a tradition of our own. Why not instead of just adopting the tastier, easier, convenient and happier traditions, let us also adopt some of the tougher and bitter traditions which gave our ancestors a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tough dietary tradition followed by our ancestors and may help to reduce obesity:

Same diet every day

We know very well the staple diet of our ancestors. My ancestors used to have rice;  they had rice for lunch and dinner and sometimes even for breakfast, which is known as pazhamkanji (old rice), considered as one of the most nutritional breakfasts in the world. According to some medical experts, if we stick to our childhood diet in adulthood, then we remain healthy lifelong.

prominence for nutrition

Our ancestors never added flavour to make the food tastier. Every ingredient had some kind of nutritional content. My ancestors used jaggery, (containing antioxidants and mineral) in coffee, tea, sweets, etc. They had green leafy vegetables with rice for lunch. And the labours had pazhamkanji for breakfast which gave them stamina for their hard labour.

Add some bitter in platter

Post delivery diet in my village includes a jaggery sweet mixed with equal amount of fenugreek powder. This bittersweet combination is said to be the secret of the stamina of the elderly women in their 70’s even after giving birth to 7 to 8 children. Many good medicinal food items are bitter, so we must make it a habit of giving bitter food to kids. I know a mother who never gave sugar products to her daughter till she was 5 years old. She was given only naturally sweetened products like fruits and vegetables. And in the meantime, the girl became more interested only in naturally sweet products.

Seasonal diet

When I visit my mother’s village home there are no rewards for guessing what my mother will prepare for me. During the mango season, there will be mango thoran (Thoran is shallow frying of any minced vegetable, mixed with grated coconut and spices), mango curry, mango pickle etc. During Jackfruit season there will be jackfruit chips, mashed jackfruit, jackfruit seed fry, jackfruit halwa etc. And if there is a bunch of banana: first there will be banana flower thoran; then a few raw bananas will be fried or made to thoran; then the rest of the bananas will be kept aside to ripen. Now the inner portion of the banana stem will be made into thoran ( very rich source of fibre and good for the kidney stone).

Strict meal timing

In my village, if someone asks you at 1:30 PM that if you had lunch and you answer is in the negative, then the villagers will rate you as an undisciplined person. In my village, people follow an unwritten schedule for food: Breakfast at 7:00; Lunch at 1:00; Tea at 3:30 and Dinner at 7:00.  In our busy office schedule, we might say maintaining a strict timing is impossible. I know a number of people in various kinds of occupation who stick to their traditional diets and habits, no matter which part of the world they are, or how much work pressure they have.

A friend once said that the Tamil Brahmin community follows their dietary tradition no matter wherever they are. To make her point more clear she said just watch a Tamil Brahmin at a Buffet in a Five Star Hotel. They will look at all the dishes and finally settle down with idli and sambar, or rice and a veg curry.

I think we all need to follow the dietary tradition of our ancestors and not be carried away by all the tasty, enticing odour and attractively presented food items that will pave way for obesity.

3 Kerala Style Apple recipes: When apples are cheaper than onion and vegetables

In a Butter Chicken recipe video, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor says that the style of cooking changes with time. Butter Chicken cooking method he demonstrates in the video is different from traditional methods. What he says in the video is right not only about the method of cooking but also about the basic ingredients used for cooking traditional dishes.

In Kerala during my childhood my mother used to cook those items that were abundantly available in that season. During mango season there were mango thoran*, mango coconut curry, mango chutney, mango pickle and so on. During the season of Jackfruit we had Jackfruit thoran, Jackfruit seed fry,  Jackfruit halwa, and so on. When my mother comes to North India she will make thoran, theeyal* and fry of all the locally available vegetables.

This week when I went to the local market, where we can bargain and get fresh vegetables at lower rates  as compared to regular shops, I got onion at Rs 80/Kg and Apple at 40/Kg. I bought 2 1/2 Kg of apples. It is in human nature that when you see an item is surplus, even if it is your favourite thing, you lose interest in having it. The basket of red apples simply lying around reminded me of basket full of mangoes in my mother’s home during summer season. A friend Sudhir suggested adding apple pieces in Sambar, where from I got the sudden Idea of trying out Kerala recipes with apples, as shallots (not onion) are required for the dishes.  And Kerala recipes are a perfect combination with rotis.

No wastage in apple recipes

Apples are fleshier and hardly very little is lost while cleaning the fruit. However if we clean Okra, french beans or yard-long beans there will be lot of wastage while trimming the stem end.  Besides apples need not be skinned like beetroot or papaya.

Why apple is a perfect substitute for Kerala vegetable curries

Thoran, fry, theeyal, pachadi* and pickle is made literally out of every fruit and vegetable available in Kerala – Pineapple, mango, yam, avacado, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, etc. The tinge of sourness and the texture, makes apple a perfect substitute for chambakka (Rose water apples) and mango  recipes of Kerala.

Apple-Coconut Chutney

apple chutney - apple recipes

Ingredients

Coconut –  1 cup (grated)

Dry Chilli – 2 No.s

Apple – Quarter piece of a small apple

Salt – as required

Curry leaf – 3 Nos.

Method

Put all the ingredients in a mixer-grinder and coarsely grind. Add very little water and maker sure the coconut is not ground to a smooth paste.

Apple Thoran

Apple Thoran - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple: 2 No.s (Medium Size)

Coconut – 1 Cup (Grated )

Green Chilli – 3 Nos

Shallots – 2 No.s

Garlic – 1/2 tsp

Ginger – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Mustard seed – 1/2 tsp

Oil -1 tbsp

Salt – as required

Cumin Seed powder – a pinch

Method

Cut the apple 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad slender pieces and keep aside.  Coarsely grind all the ingredients, except salt and apple, for 3 seconds. Add the grounded mixture to the apple and gently mix with a spoon. Heat a wok and pour the oil, when the oil heats, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seed crackle add the apple mix and blend with a spoon. Lower the flame and close the wok with a lid. After  5 minute remove the lid, you can see gentle smoke/vapour which means the dish is nearly cooked. Stir and cook with open lid for a few minute and remove from fire.

Apple Theeyal

Apple Theeyal - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple – 1/2 of a small apple

Coconut – 1 cup (grated)

Shallots – 7 No.s

Garlic –  3 pod

Ginger –  1 inch piece cut is juveniles

Red Chilli – 3 Nos

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Fenugreek powder – 1/2 tsp

Cummin seed Powder 1/2 tsp

Tamarind – Size of half a lemon

Curry leaf – 4 to 5

Salt to taste

Method

Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water for 1/2 an hour. Boil the apple (cut is 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad sizes) and 3 shallots in tamarind water with salt and turmeric. Cook until the apple and shallot are tender. In a dry wok heat the coconut, when it turns brown add the rest of the shallots, ginger and garlic (all sliced). Stir for a while and add dry chilly, coriander, fenugreek and cumin seed. When the coconut becomes dark brown, remove from fire. let is cool. Grind the coconut mixture to a smooth paste in a mixer-grinder without adding water. Blend the mixture with the cooked apple. Now heat the mix for a while after adding a little water, do not let it boil. Remove from flame when you see the smoke.

Tip

Apply a little salt on the apple pieces so that they do not change colour.

Malayalam words used

Thoran*:  A dish made of finely chopped vegetables and grated coconut.

Theeyal*: A curry made with roasted and finely ground coconut paste.

Pachadi*: A simple side dish prepared in coconut and yogurt.

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Also read the following post: Seven Onion Substitute For Everyday Cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggi took a break: Now Let us have some ghar ka khana (home made food)

In the hectic lifestyle of the cities, we Aam Admi’s follow a balanced diet – consuming almost equal amount of nutritious food as well as junk food everyday. Everyone knows that junk food and fast food are injurious to health, but due to time constrains we decide that having something – junk or unhealthy – is better than having nothing. At home preparing healthy food, or ghar ka khana, regularly can be stressful so if woman are given a helping hand they can prepare healthy food. It is said that Joseph Maggi invented maggi so that working women can prepare healthy healthy food easily for their kids.

In their busy schedule parent usually prepare lunch box consisting of bread and jam or cooked instant noodles. The lunch box recipes makes no one happy. Neither the children are happy with the  cold snack, nor the parents are happy with the nutritious value of the food packed in the lunch box. If the children are inculcated with the habit of eating home-made food, they never give up that habit. With some quick trick, and 20 minutes to spare, parents can prepare healthy and homely lunch box recipe for kids. Here are a few lunch box recipes, that will bring smile on the face of parent and children.

Tip: To make the cooking easier and happier, both the parents should lend each other a helping hand in preparing the lunchbox. Here are a few recipes to be make the lunchbox of kids tastier, healthier and happier. To know more about lunchbox home delivery system read this post.
  1. Potato tricks: A lunch box recipe that every child will like to pack to school. Boil potato overnight; and in the morning add some spices to make it tastier. Use the potato base as stuffing for roti and sandwich. Add some tomato sauce, kids will love the combination.
  2. Cottage cheese magic: A lunch box recipe with lot of calcium. Crumble the cottage cheese and add spices as per choice. You can also add chopped tomatoes, onion and capsicum. Use the base as stuffing for sandwich and paneer parantha. Or else, cut the paneer into 1”inch cubes; cook the paneer using paneer butter masala. Instant butter panner mix requires less cooking time.
  3. Egg unlimited: Kids love eggs; and its easy to prepare, tasty and nutritious egg snacks. Sandwich or roti rolls can be made by stuffing boiled and crumbled egg; scrambled egg or omelet. Whip an egg and pour it over the roti in the pan, flip the roti over two or three times, until the egg is cooked well – Egg Parantha is ready!
  4. Minced Chicken: Any dish with a hint of chicken in it, is inviting. Minced chicken can be converted into limitless number of dishes. On a busy morning you can go for a minced chicken stuffed sandwich or roti. Or, if time permits, refrigerate, boiled and drained, noodles overnight; in the morning mix it with shallow fried minced chicken and other ingredient to make chicken chow mein.
  5. Vegetables Cutlets: A play-way method lunch box recipe that will inculcate the habit of eating vegetables. At leisure prepare and refrigerate ready-to-fry vegetable cutlets. In the morning fry the cutlets and place it between bread slice along with cucumber and tomato slices. The vegetables can be sliced  and kept beforeitself.

The entire cooking process will take only 15 to 20 minutes. The cooking process is made simple if the dough for roti is prepared and stored overnight.To cook faster utilize all kinds of kitchen gadgets.
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Ancy Abraham

5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat

On scorching summer afternoons, you see parents giving chilled juice bottles to kids as soon as they alight from the School bus. Only few kids are lucky enough to get such minute parental attention as in most homes both parents are working. After School kids come home and serve the food themselves with the result most kids do not eat and drink on time. Drinking a lot of water in very important in the summer season, but due to tiredness and laziness kids will avoid drinking water.

Many kids suffer from stomachaches and they sometimes faint in the classrooms in summer. There is a general feeling of lethargy and sickness which may be the sign of not taking a lot of water to stay hydrated. A medical professional once told me to take a lot of seasonal fruits during the summer like watermelon, pomegranate and strawberry. Kids do not eat fruits unless given forcefully and parents do not have the time to persuade them. The healthiest and the easiest way to make the kids intake the fruits is to prepare juice and refrigerate them.  When the kids return from school the first thing they will do is to open the refrigerator and have some cool homemade, refreshing summer drinks.

It is not true that kids do not like homemade food.  Parents who cook regularly at home say their kids like homemade food. (Tip: understand your kids taste bud and cook accordingly.) The 5 summer drinks mentioned here are not as sweet and yummy as the packaged drinks, and you won’t find them on menu cards, but once the kids develop a taste for these drinks they will drink it without any compulsion.

The summer drinks mentioned here are for people of all age groups and you can easily prepare them using ingredients that are regularly used at homes. Unlike the aerated, sugary, soda drinks, that just quenches the thirst these healthy summer drinks option also provide necessary vitamins to resist heat and diseases.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Aam Panna – Raw mango juice, a refreshing summer drink

Raw Mango Juice (Aam Panna)

As a child, the only time I loved having aam panna was while travelling by train during summer vacations. My Mother carries the aam panna pulp in a small container and sugar in another. We, siblings, make friend with other kids while travelling together for two days. Mother prepares the juice and serves to all the kids. Aam panna in those moments were rejuvenating, soothing and enjoyable like never before.

Ingredients

Raw Mango – 1 Medium Size

Sugar/jaggery- As required

Cumin Seed – 1/4 tsp

Water – 2 cup

Method of preparation

Steam the mango in a pressure cooker/ steamer. Remove the peel on cooling and extract the pulp. Add the cumin seeds, sugar and two cups of water. Stir well. Pass the concoction through a strainer to remove the pulp. You will get a translucent juice.

Health Benefits

Resists heat; provides Vitamin C and anti-oxidants; prevents Dehydration, diarrhoea, Indigestion and Constipation; an effective solution for Diabetes; checks Anemia and Improves digestion.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Gooseberry extract (Nellikai Arishtam) – a summer drink to resist heat stroke

Gooseberry Extract (Nellikai Aristam)

Gooseberry has many medicinal properties hence the extract is known as aristam (medicinal wine). Gooseberry is prepared with jaggery so as to keep the percentage of alcohol low. Mother used to prepare Gooseberry liquor at home which is similar to the process of wine making except that yeast and sugar is not used. Gooseberry extract is the best resistance against heat and resists many diseases. In Ayurveda gooseberry is an essential ingredient for hair products due to its cooling effect.

Ingredients

Gooseberry – 1 Kg
Jaggery – 1 Kg
Cloves and Cardamom – Powdered

Method of preparation

Select fresh gooseberries, wash and dry them. Make small holes on the gooseberries with a fork. In a porcelain jar, place one layer of gooseberries followed by a layer of powdered jaggery. Finally, add the cinnamon and clove on top. Close the lid tightly, cover the lid with a cloth and keep it undisturbed for 2 months.  By now the Juice is extracted. Squeeze and strain the juice and store it for more than a year in a cool, dry place. For kids, a spoon full of gooseberry extract diluted with water is highly refreshing for the whole body.

Health benefits

Gooseberry extract is rejuvenating and it is used as a remedy for jaundice, dyspepsia and cough.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Bael (Stonne Apple) Juice – A traditional Indian summer drink to beat the heat

 

Stone apple (Bael) Juice

There was a bael tree in front of the temple near my home. In those days Bael was common, large fruits hang on the tree like Christmas hangings. When the fruit falls, the hard shell breaks and the yellow pulpy fruit inside is visible. Some passerby will take the fruit and have it. I did not know the value of the fruit until coming to Delhi, where you have to buy the fruit and juice. In the villages in North India Bael (Stone apple) is a holy fruit and the fruit juice is considered as an excellent heat resistor.

Ingredients
Bael / Wood Apple – 2 medium size
Jaggery – 2 tbsp
Salt –  A pinch
Cumin Seed – 1 tsp
Water – 2 glasses

Method of preparation

Split the fruit using a pestle, and scoop the pulp. In a bowl, mash the pulp so as to soften the pulp and separate the seeds. Now add a glass of water and pass the juice through a strainer. If required add more water and press the pulp so that the juice is separated and only the fibre remains in the strainer. Add the rest of the ingredients – jaggery, salt and cumin seed to the juice. Blend it in a mixer and serve it.

 Health benefits

The ripe fruit keeps the body and mind cool, cures acidity also. It helps to improve the digestive system and controls diabetes.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Watermelon Crush – A summer drink which requires no water to be added

Watermelon Crush

Watermelon is sweet and watery so there is no need to add water. We can add some flavours to make the juice tastier and healthier.

Ingredients

Watermelon – 1 medium size

Sugar – 2 tbsp.

Mint leaf – 3 to 4 Nos.

Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.

Method of Preparation

Peel the watermelon and remove the seeds. Blend the chunks in a blender for a minute. Now add the sugar, mint leaf and lemon juice. Blend it again. Pour it directly into a serving glass and cover with a plastic sheet before refrigerating.

Health benefits

Watermelon consist of 90% water, hence the juice helps to stay hydrated and prevents heat stroke. The fibre in the fruit helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract. According to some studies, a glass of watermelon juice before an intense workout helps to reduce muscle soreness.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Lemon Juice – Easiest and most common healthy summer drink

Lemon Juice

When you want to have some chilled summer drink, the first option that comes to mind is the soda lemon juice. Many small juice sellers become famous due to the twist they provide in the lemon drink. In my hometown, a juice seller got customer queuing up because of his famous lemon juice with ginger extract. Multifarious tweaks can be added to the lemon juice, here is the simple recipe that I prepare almost every day:

Ingredients

Lemon: 1/4 Cup

Sugar: 1/2 Cup

Water: 1 Cup

Salt: 1/4 tsp

Method of preparation

Mix the Lemon juice with sugar, salt and water and keep it in the refrigerator. Lemon juice will remain fresh for two to three days.

Health Benefits

Lemon juice helps you to stay calm and cool. It helps to improve the immune system, cleans the stomach and purifies the blood. Lemon is also useful in treating arthritis, rheumatism, obesity, constipation and dental problems.

Three Generations of Christmas Cakes

A month of joy and merriment is coming to an end  with the New Year celebrations tonight.  A feeling of nostalgia struck me when I thought about making a new year resolution. Every year we make a resolution to bring a change in ourselves that will last for a few weeks and then we are back to the old ways.  On flipping the pages from memory I noticed that changing lifestyle has given a new twist to the Christmas celebrations. Read how to prepare nutritious and healthy honey-oat bread.

Plum Cake
A friend’s Christmas Plum Cake

The arrival of Christmas season is heralded when people busily go shopping for nuts and fruits to be soaked in wine for atleast three weeks in advance before the preparation of the plum cakes.  Few days before Christmas, people go to bakeries with all the ingredients and patiently watch as the batter is mixed and baked in the industrial oven.  Normally every family bake fifty to sixty cakes and wrap with colorful papers to distribute to friends, neighbors, clients, colleagues and helpers. Friends reminds in advance about their share of Christmas cake.

How plum cake became the symbol of Christmas, like Santa Claus, I am sure. But every year, for the last few years during Christmas season, people consider it a ritual to bake plum cakes and, wear Santa caps and masks.

Plain Christmas Cake
Mother’s plain Christmas Cake

Two decade back my mother used to bake the cake at home. And the recipe was quite simple. Equal amount of all purpose flour, butter, sugar, eggs and a few nuts.  Cake was one of the few snacks that mother prepared for Christmas along with Rose cookies, doughnuts, murukku,…..  On Christmas days mummy packed all the delicacies in colourful boxes and we kids distributed the gifts to our neighbors and friends. Somehow all my childhood friends remember only the Christmas cakes.

Christmas Appam
Appam, Granny’s version of Christmas Cake

My mother who made tasty cakes, never made cakes at home during her childhood Christmas. During her childhood the main Christmas delicacy was the appam (kallappam) a flat bread made of rice flour, ground coconut; and yeast (or toddy) for fermenting. Days before Christmas grandma reminded the coconut tree climber for some fresh toddy (yeast was not common in those day). She then soaked the raw rice, drained it. Family members and servants took turn to powder the rice with a mortar and pestle. During the Christmas season all the children and grand children  The coconut is grated and ground and mixed with rice powder and toddy to make a smooth bath. It is left to ferment overnight. On Christmas day the batter is poured on hot tawa to prepare nice round rice cake. The appam was distributed with chicken curry to the neighbours and helpers family. Many guests come home to have appam and curry. All the children and grand children will gather at the ancestral home for Christmas.

Customs have changed in the last four decades. Tough we never took a new year resolution to change the style to celebrating Christmas, we have added many elements to the celebrations. We use yeast instead of toddy for appam. Wine is  used in cakes. We distribute cakes instead of Greeting cards. Instead of inviting relatives home, we go out to celebrate Christmas.  But the spirit of sharing during Christmas is still alive.

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