Zucchini Fry (Tawa Fry)



This fry is the same like a tawa brinjal fry, which my mom, makes except that I used zucchini here instead of eggplant. If you are looking for a different and interesting recipe with zucchini, try this fry and this will become you new favorite recipe with zucchini.  Hardly takes any time to prep and cook.

Ingredients:
1. Zucchini, 2, sliced thin into long slices.
2. Ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon.
3. Chili powder, 1 teaspoon or more depending upon preferred spice level.
4. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
5. Salt, as per taste.

Preparation:
Mix all the ingredients together. Let it sit for 10 minutes.  Heat a cast iron pan and place the zucchini slices on the pan and pour a little bit of oil over the slices. Keep the flame low and flip the slices after 5 minutes and let the other side cook for 3 more minutes. Serve as a side dish with rice.

Spinach And Black Eyed Peas Tomato Rice




Dishes like these are ideal lunch box recipes for me since they are well balanced and I do not  need to pack anything else. We can play around and change the veggies and the protein like adding chickpeas, green peas, or soya chunks instead.  I sometimes make this with brown rice, diabetic rice, or quinoa.  Usually I pack yogurt and fruits to make it a complete meal and all is done in an hour in the morning rush.

Ingredients:
1. Cooked rice, 3 cups.
2. Diced onion, 1 cup.
3. Chopped tomatoes, 2 cups. (You can peel the skin of the tomatoes if preferred. For this put an "X" with a paring knife and immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Then immerse them immediately in ice water. This will stop the cooking process and the skin can be peeled off easily).
4. Ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon.
5. Green chilies, 2, slit into 2.
6. Cooked black eyed peas, 1 cup.
7. Washed and chopped spinach, 1 cup.
8. Bell peppers or any other vegetables like carrot, green beans etc, 1 cup.
9. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
10. Mustard seeds, 1/4 teaspoon.
11. Fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
12. Urad dhal, 1/2 teaspoon.
13. Channa dhal, 1/2 teaspoon.
14. Dried red chilies, 1, break them into 2.
15. Salt, as per taste.
16. Curry leaves and chopped cilantro for garnish.

Preparation:
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Now add the fennel seeds, channa dhal, urad dhal and broken dry red chilies and fry for a few seconds.  Now add the diced onions and saute until tender. Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, green chilies, ginger-garlic paste, curry leaves, and turmeric powder at this stage and keep sauteing until everything is well blended. Add salt now and mix well. After this add the black eyed peas and chopped spinach; mix everything well and let the spinach wilt.  Now add the cooled rice and mix well. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Butternut Squash Cheese Sandwich



This recipe is from Deceptively Delicious cookbook, which is slowly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks.  I have been trying out many recipes from this lately. The author has a good collection of variety of recipes, and everything has some vegetable or fruits sneaked in and the good thing is that the kids couldn't taste the veggies in the dish!  As moms, we too feel happy that the kids are eating a vegetable as well instead of just cheese and bread. I have used whole wheat sourdough bread since we love cheese sandwiches made with this type of bread. The sourness of the bread goes well with the cheese and the bread also turns out super crispy with getting burned. You can also use any other kind of bread.  The best thing about this sandwich is that you can never taste the squash :)

Ingredients:
1. Cooked and pureed butternut squash, 1/2 cup. (We can cook a whole squash and freeze the rest for later).
2. Whole wheat sourdough bread, 4 slices. Crust can be removed if preferred.
3. Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup.
4. Butter, 1 tablespoon.
5. Garlic powder, a pinch.

Preparation:
Heat a thick pan preferably cast iron pan. Meanwhile mix the cheddar cheese, butternut sqaush puree, and garlic powder well in a bowl and keep aside. Take 1 slice of the bread and spread some butter on one side and place this side directly on the pan. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the surface and cover it with one more slice of bread. Spread butter on the outer layer of the sandwich. Let it cook under low flame for 2 minutes and gently flip the sandwich. Cook the other side until both the sides are crispy, brown, and the cheese is melted. Serve hot by itself or with soup. This sandwich pairs well with tomato soup.

Whole Wheat Apple Cake






This is one of our favorite cake recipes especially my daughter's favorite.  These days even for the kids I use palm sugar or coconut palm sugar for desserts and cakes where brown sugar is required. There is not much difference in the taste as well and coconut palm sugar is also a low-sugar substitute, hence ideal for adults in the family trying to watch their sugars. I make two batches usually once with plain apples for the kids and the other one with chopped walnuts and raisins (hubby's favorite).

INGREDIENTS:
1. Whole wheat flour, 1-1/4 cup.
2. Diced apples,1 -1/2 cup.
3. Chopped walnuts, ½ cup. (Raisins can also be added with the walnuts)
4. Coconut palm sugar, 2/3 cup.
5. Salt, a pinch.
5. Butter or oil, ½ cup.
6. Egg, 1.
7. Baking soda, ½ teaspoon.
8. Baking powder, ½ teaspoon.
9. Cinnamon powder, ¼ teaspoon.

PREPARATION:
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon powder together. Beat the egg, butter, salt and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is frothy. Add the diced apples, along with flour mixture and mix everything just a few times until there are no lumps in the batter. Pour the batter into a greased baking dish and add the chopped walnuts on top. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Insert a toothpick to check for doneness and remove from the oven.

Spinach and Mushroom Quesadillas (With Whole wheat tortillas)




A very easy recipe when you are short on time and want something  quick, different (Mexican) and tasty.  I always have whole wheat tortillas on hand and use it for different recipes, mostly for evening snacks and sometimes breakfast as well. This is very filling and healthy as well. I have used low-fat shredded cheese (a Mexican blend). You can also add other different fillings instead mushroom like chicken, shrimp or even tofu. I have served these with Marinara sauce. Even ketchup is good for dipping.


Ingredients: (to make 2 quesadillas)
1. Whole wheat tortillas or corn tortillas, 4.
2. Spinach, washed and chopped finely, 2 cups.
3. Chopped mushrooms, 1 cup.
4. Garlic, 2 cloves, crushed.
5. Blend of cheeses, like Monterrey Jack, cheddar, and mozzarella, 1 cup. You can also just use cheddar and mozzarella.
6. Salt and pepper as per taste.
7.  Marinara sauce or ketchup for dipping.

Preparation:
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil and saute the mushrooms along with the crushed garlic. Once the mushrooms are done, add the chopped spinach and let it wilt. Add salt and pepper now, mix well and switch off the stove. Take one tortilla and spread half of the mixture evenly all over the tortilla. Sprinkle the cheese blend over the mixture and close this with the other tortilla. Place this gently over a pan sprayed with oil under low flame and let it cook for a minute and half and the cheese should start melting by now. Keep pressing the top tortilla gently with a spatula without spilling the contents. Once the cheese is melted both the tortillas stick together. Now flip it gently and let the other side crisp. This is kind of like making a grilled cheese sandwich. Serve hot with Marinara sauce or ketchup.

Variation:   Sliced onions can also be used here. Saute them with the mushrooms.  Leftover rotis can also be used in place of tortillas.

Cauliflower Egg Bhurji



The idea for this recipe is from a cookbook "Deceptively Delicious". I love the concept of this book. It is full kids-friendly recipes, where the authors sneaks in vegetable and fruit purees into kids favorite dishes. Yesterday I tried out a grilled cheese sandwich from the book and my kids loved it. The good part was that the kids had some butternut squash as well instead of just the bread and the cheese and they didn't know the difference. I have bookmarked so many recipes from this book.

Coming on to this recipe, there was a scrambled eggs recipe in the breakfast section where she had added pureed cauliflower into the eggs. This give me an idea to do the same with our regular egg bhurji. There was no big difference in the taste and it was very good. I was happy that there was some vegetables in the dish instead of just eggs. This is also a great way to reduce egg intake and increase the vegetable value of the dish.

Ingredients:
1.  Grated cauliflower, 1-1/2 cups.
2. Diced onion, 2 cup.
3. Chopped tomatoes, from 2 tomatoes.
4. Curry leaves, a sprig.
5. Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
6. Fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
7. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
8. Chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
9. Briyani masala, 1/2 teaspoon.
10. Salt, as per taste.
11. Eggs, 3.

Preparation:
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the fennel seeds and fry for a few seconds. Now add the diced onions and saute for a few minutes until brown.  Now add the grated cauliflower, chopped tomatoes, curry leaves, and ginger-garlic paste and keep sauteing under low flame for 10 more minutes. Add turmeric powder, chili powder, briyani masala powder, and salt and keep sauteing for 5-7 minutes until the dish turns day and the cauliflower turns into a kind of mushy consistency.  At this point, add the eggs and scramble them until they are done. Serve hot with rice or chapathis or bread.

Brown rice and cracked wheat dosa (fermented batter)









This dosa batter recipe stays good for up to a week in the fridge, makes for a wholesome breakfast for kids.  The dosas came out crispy and the kids loved it and did not notice any difference from their usual dosas. The good thing about this is that these dosas are also diabetic-friendly.

Ingredients:
1. Cracked wheat, 1 cup.  Any type of cuts can be used here.
2. Brown rice, 1/2 cup.
3. Urad dhal, 2 tablespoons.
4. Fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tablespoon.
5. Salt, 1/2 teaspoon.

Preparation:
Wash the rice and the dal and soak them together with the fenugreek seeds for 2 hours.  Grind this mixture along with the cracked wheat, salt, and enough water into a fine mixture.  The batter consistency should be that of a dosa batter.  Transfer the batter into a container and let it sit for around 8 hours to ferment and prepare dosas the usual way.

Spinach Chapathis (Spicy)




One of my preferred lunch box items these days since it is fast and easy it make and the chapathis stay soft for a long time as well. They are almost like methi theplas and since my family is not a big fan of methi leaves, I had to use spinach instead. These chapathis are spicy enough and do not require any side dish.  They go well with just plain curd. For the kids I usually cut the chapathis into animal shapes using a cookie cutter and serve them with curd or tomato ketchup. A good way to include spinach in the diet as well.  Sharing a picture of the cookie cutter chapathis I packed for kids school (regular rotis smeared with ghee and served with plain seasoned dhal without tadka just the way my kids like :)




Ingredients:
1. Whole wheat flour, 1-1/2 cup.
2.  Finely chopped spinach, 1 cup.
3. Green chilies, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
4. Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
5. Chili powder,  1/4 to1/2 teaspoon depending on preferred spice level.
6. Turmeric powder, a pinch.
7. Salt, to taste.
8. Hing, a pinch.
9. Water and oil as needed to make the dough.
10. Curd, 1/4 cup.

Preparation:
Mix all the ingredients except the water and oil. Once everything is mixed sprinkle water as required and a little bit of oil to make a soft pliable dough.  Let it rest, covered with a moist cloth for at least 30 minutes.  Make small balls from the dough and roll them into thin circles. Heat a pan and once the pan is hot, place the chapathis and let it heat up for a few seconds and flip it over. At this point, pour a teaspoon of oil over the surface and keep flipping the chapathis every 3-4 seconds until both the sides are cooked. Serve with any preferred side dish.





Watermelon Chaat Masala And Mint Salad




A different combination salad with different flavors going on throughout.  These can served on toasted papads and my favorite is on  wheat toasts.  This can be served as an appetizer or as an evening snack.

Ingredients:
  1. Cubed, small watermelon pieces, 1 cup.
  2. Finely diced mint leaves, 1 tablespoon.
  3. Finely minced ginger, ¼ teaspoon.
  4. Lemon Juice, 1 tablespoon.
  5. Chaat masala, 1 teaspoon.
  6. Ground pepper, ½ teaspoon.
  7. Salt, a pinch.
  8. Whole wheat toasts, small ones, around 10.
Preparation:

Mix all the ingredients except the toast and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Place half a teaspoon or more of the salad on the toast and serve immediately.

Baked Chicken Parmesan Cutlets



My kids favorite chicken recipe. This is very versatile. We can make sandwiches out these with some marinara sauce poured on top of the cutlets. The same way it can also be served with pasta.  This also can be served by itself as a snack. A healthy chicken recipe, which uses less oil and is baked. The bread crumbs used here are whole wheat bread crumbs.

Ingredients:
1. Chicken breast pieces, 4.
2. Grated Parmesan cheese,  1/2 cup.
3. Garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon.
4. Dried parsley leaves, 1 teaspoon.
5. Salt and pepper as per taste.
6. Beaten egg whites, 1 cup, seasoned with salt and pepper.
7. Toasted whole wheat bread crumbs 2 cups.

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, parsley leaves, salt and pepper.  First dip the chicken in the egg whites making sure it is well coated. Then roll them over in the bread crumbs mixture making sure that the chicken breasts are fully covered in with the bread crumbs. If needed, the same procedure can be repeated again to ensure even coating. Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking pan and spray them evenly with any oil spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, turning them over once in between.

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Mufffins



I tried so many blueberry oatmeal recipes from different sites but it didn't turn out the way I expected since I was using whole wheat flour.   The muffins were not that soft and were turning a little dry once cooled.  Finally at many trials and errors, I started changing the ingredients a little more to my preference and  this recipe yielded a good batch of soft muffins, which is also on the low sugar side. I have used coconut palm sugar here, which is a ideal substitute for brown sugar and still gives the same flavor ass brown sugar.

Ingredients:
Dry Ingredients:
1. Whole wheat flour, 1 cup.
2. Oats, 1/2 cup.
3. Baking powder, 1-1/2 teaspoon.
4. Baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon.
5. Cinnamon powder, 1/2 teaspoon.
6. Salt, 1/2 teaspoon.
7. Blueberries, 1-1/2 cups, mixed with a tablespoon of flour.

Wet Ingredients:
1. Yogurt, 1 cup.
2. Milk, 1/2 cup. We can use any kind of milk here like soy milk or almond milk.
3. Vanilla essence, 1/4 teaspoon.
4. Coconut palm sugar or agave nectar, 2/3 cup. Any other white sugar substitutes do not work so well here since coconut palm sugar or palm sugar gives nice brown color and a good flavor to the muffins.
5. Two more tablespoons of coconut palm sugar for sprinkling over the top of the muffins.
6. Egg, 1.

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk all the wet ingredients together until they are fluffy.  Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl except the blueberries and add the dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredient mixture. Mix everything well. Now add the blueberries and mix everything just once.  With a ladle, pour the muffins into a greased muffin pan. Sprinkle coconut palm sugar on top of the muffins and bake for 12-14 minutes.

Khara Bath/ Masala Rava Kichadi (made with wheat rava)




I saw this recipe at Sathya's space recently and I wanted to try this right away. I followed her original recipe and the only changes that I made was to use wheat rava instead of regular rava and added some fennel seeds in the seasonings.  This is a very flavorful dish and the spice powder added in the end gives a complete new taste to the dish.  To lean more about the original recipe and other interesting facts about this, please check out her space at: http://mykitchenodyssey.blogspot.com/2015/10/rava-kichadi-khara-bath-recipe.html#more


Ingredients:
To Grind:
1. Cinnamon, 1 small piece around an inch.
2. Cloves, 2.
3. Coriander seeds, 2 teaspoon.
4. Coconut powder, 2 teaspoon.
5. Dried red chilies, 2-3.
6. Roasted channa dhal, (pottukadalai), 1 teaspoon.

Other Ingredients:
1. Diced onions, 1 cup.
2. Diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup.
3. Green chilies, slit into two, 2.
4. Finely chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon.
5. Curry leaves, a sprig.
6. Chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons, for garnishing.
7. Mixed vegetables, like carrots, cauliflower, green beans, peas etc, all chopped into small pieces, 1 cup.
8. Roasted wheat rava, small size, 1-1/2 cups.

For Seasoning:
1. Mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
2. Urad dhal, 1 teaspoon.
3. Channa dhal, 1 teaspoon.
4. Raw peanuts, 1 tablespoon. This can be substituted with roasted peanuts and can be added in the end.
5. Fennel, seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
6. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.

Preparation:
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the peanuts and fry for a few seconds. Then add the fennel seeds, urad, dhal and channa dhal and fry for a few more seconds until it is brown. Now add the diced onions, curry leaves, saute for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add the diced tomatoes, slit green chilies,  chopped ginger, and turmeric powder and keep sauteing until everything is well blended. Add enough salt and the mixed vegetables and keep cooking under low flame for 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.   Add 3 cups of water now, mix everything well and let it come to a boil. Now add the wheat rava slowly and mix well. Keep the flame under low simmer and cook closed for 10 more minutes and the water is all absorbed and the rava is cooked.  At this stage, add the ground powder and mix well. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with coconut chutney or pickle.

Spinach Chutney /Thokku



I have been including spinach in my diet a lot lately due to health reasons. I have been adding them to stir fries, eggs, rotis, or I usually make a simple dhal. I saw this recipe in a foodie group in Facebook recently and wanted to try this ever since. I modified the recipe a little to my taste and it was very good.  We had it with brown rice and a simple carrot stir-fry. This is a good recipe, if you are looking for a different flavorful dish with spinach.

Ingredients:
1. Spinach, 1 big bunch.
2. Small onions, peeled, 1/2 cup.
3. Garlic, 2 pods.
4. Urad dhal, 1 tablespoon.
5. Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
6. Dried red chilies, 3-4.
7. Tamarind, a small goose-berry size ball.
8. Salt, as per taste.

Preparation:
Wash the spinach and keep them aside.  There is no need to chop the spinach since we are going to grind everything.  Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the urad dhal and fry for a few seconds and then add the cumin seeds and red chilies and fry for a few more seconds and remove everything from the stove and keep aside. In the same pan, add one more tablespoon of oil and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Then add the spinach and keep sauteing until the spinach leaves are wilted and then switch the stove off and let it cool down. Once this mixture is cooled down, grind it into a smooth  and thick paste with a little water along with the urad dhal mixture, tamarind, and salt. Adjust the spices and salt according to taste and serve with rice or chapathis.  If preferred,  we can also add some tadka (seasoning of mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the chutney in the end).

Sweet Potato Vegetable Patties



A different take on our regular vegetable and potato cutlets only made healthier. I have omitted the bread crumbs here and baked the patties trying to make it more wholesome and loaded with vegetables and still on the lower calorie side. For a different taste, try serving with a spicy raita rather than a dipping sauce or ketchup.  This is a very good combination since the spicy raita balances the sweetness of the patties and takes the flavor combination to a whole new level.  Try baking the potatoes instead of boiling them for the patties for a richer, intense taste of the potatoes.

Ingredients:
  1. Sweet potatoes, medium-size ones, 2.
  2. Mixed vegetables like green beans, carrots, bell peppers, peas etc. ; all cut into very small pieces; 1 cup.
  3. Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
  4. Ginger-garlic paste, ¼ teaspoon.
  5. Garam masala, ½ teaspoon.
  6. Fennel seeds, ¼ teaspoon.
  7. Salt, ¼ teaspoon.
  8. Chopped coriander, 1 tablespoon.

Preparation:

Wrap the potatoes with aluminum foil and bake them for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Peel the potatoes and mash them once they are cool. Take the potatoes in a big bowl and add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything together and make small patties out the mixture.  Shallow fry the patties on low-to-medium flame for 3-4 minutes on each side until it gets brown and crispy. 

Ragi Malt (Ragi porridge with almond milk)



I wanted to blog about this recipe for quite some time since I have been explaining this recipe to a couple of my friends who were on the lookout for healthy evening snacks and breakfast porridges.  Ragi porridge is a low-glycemic beverage and can be had for breakfast or an evening filling snack.  I have used almond milk than regular milk here to boost up the iron content of the dish and almond milk has less sugars compared to whole milk and hence the porridge itself is on the lower carb choice side; very ideal during pregnancy, especially with gestational diabetes. If serving for kids, you can add jaggery or even maple syrup or honey for a different flavor.  Sometimes I even add vanilla essence or cinnamon powder instead of cardamom powder to change up the flavors. I usually make it a little thick and have it with a spoon. You can also make this a little thinner.

Ingredients (for 2 cups of porridge):
1.  Ragi flour, 2 tablespoons.
2. Almond milk, 1 cup.
3. Water 1-1/2 cups.
4. Cardamom powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
5. Any sweetener of choice like Stevia, coconut palm sugar or jaggery, 1-2 teaspoons, depending upon preferred sweetness level.

Preparation:
Start by boiling the almond milk and a cup of water along with the cardamom powder.  Whisk the ragi flour along with 1/2 cup of water and slowly add this to the boiling almond milk and water. Cook the porridge on low flame until the porridge thickens to the desired consistency. If needed, more water can be added at this stage to make it a little runny. Add the sweetener now and serve hot with chopped nuts and dry fruits as garnish.

Kale Chips (Indian version with light besan batter)




Kale chips are one of the healthiest snacks loaded with many essential nutrients and an ideal low-calorie snack. Here I have added an Indian twist to these with besan and spices and very less oil.  These comes in handy when we are craving for something spicy to snack on without any guilt.

Ingredients:
  1. Kale, 1 big bunch.
  2. Besan, 2 tablespoons.
  3. Turmeric powder, a pinch.
  4. Chili powder, ½ teaspoon.
  5. Ginger-garlic paste, ¼ teaspoon.
  6. Salt, ¼ teaspoon.
  7. Asafetida, a pinch.
  8. Oil, 1 tablespoon.
Preparation:
Make a thick slurry paste of the besan, turmeric powder, asafetida, chili powder, oil, ginger garlic paste, salt and water of around a tablespoon to two and keep aside. Tear or cut the kale leaves out of the stalks and tear them to medium-size pieces that are easy enough to hold when baked. Pour the besan mixture over the kale leaves and toss them around well so the mixture coats the kale leaves evenly.  Arrange them on a greased cookie sheet by spreading them out. Bake them at a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes until the leaves are crisp. 

Note: If the kale leaves are not crisp enough by this time since each oven settings may differ, we can always put them back in the oven a couple more minutes, keeping an eye them, so as not to burn the leaves and bake the leaves until they are crispy.

Best Practices for Improving Your Health and Happiness - Guest Post By Ryan Miller

Best Practices for Improving Your Health and Happiness

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, facing a diabetes diagnosis or simply want to improve your health, there are a few key practices every person should incorporate into their daily lives to achieve their goals. Here at
Modernize, we understand that your health is one of the most important priorities in your life, so we encourage you to create this daily checklist for a healthier and happier you.



via Shutterstock

Keep Moving
You know how important it is to exercise, and while that message can seem overly promoted, the health benefits of exercise are undeniable—especially for managing diabetes. It’s no secret that reducing body fat can help regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, which will give you a cleaner bill of health overall. And while reducing fat mass and creating lean mass is the primary goal of exercise, there are other benefits as well.

Exercise is a natural stress-reliever, which may seem a bit counterintuitive when you’re on your third rep of a heavy bench press. Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals that interact with your brain to trigger a positive feeling. They can also reduce the sensation of pain.


High stress levels lead to weight gain and spiked blood sugar, so we suggest incorporating relaxing meditation, yoga classes or walks into your busy schedule to keep your health in tip-top shape. Log your exercise each day, and motivate yourself with a reward for every week you exercise regularly. Some of our favorite rewards are going out to see a movie, getting a massage or buying a new book or game.

via Shutterstock

Change Your Habits
It’s easy to fall into the morning latte or fast-food trap. It’s even easier to grab takeout after a hard day at work. But small changes can significantly improve your health, and the benefits of making better choices far outweigh any temporary discomfort in changing your lifestyle.

Bringing your own lunch to work is one of the best things you can do to control your waistline and your overall health. Restaurants often exclude detailed nutritional information, and there’s no guarantee that whoever prepared your food is using correct portion sizes. The only way to truly know what you’re eating is to make it yourself. Gita’s Quinoa, Lentil and Vegetables Stir-Fryis one of our favorite quick meal options.

Changing your ways isn’t easy. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, defines habits as cycles. Every habit includes a cue, reward, and routine. In order to change a habit, one must respond differently to a cue with a new reward, which will create a new routine. In action, this may mean that after a long day at work you grab a pre-made meal from your freezer, which you prepped over the weekend, rather than takeout.


 via Healthline

Monitor Your Progress
It’s important for anyone to monitor their weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and general physical health regularly, but even more so for those with diabetes. Create a health log to track your weight each month, and log your blood sugar levels at least twice a day.

You’ll also want to get a regular physical at your doctor’s office once or twice a year and file your records to monitor your progress. Many diabetics choose to track their calories and daily food intake for weight loss, but at the very least, it’s essential to track carbs and stay under a certain threshold. There are a variety of free food-tracking apps, and some of our favorites are Myfitnesspal, Lose It and Fitbit.

From meditating to making your own meals and keeping track of your progress, the power is in your hands to improve your health, your happiness and quality of life!

Baked Red Poha Chivda/Mixture




A low-calorie and healthy snack, which is very easy to prepare. It requires less oil since it is baked. I have used red poha, which is more health benefits than white poha with which this mixture is usually made. Ideal for evening snacks when you are craving for something spicy along with a cup of tea or coffee.

Ingredients:
1. Red Poha, 1 cup.
2. Roasted channa dhal, 1/4 cup.
3. Raw peanuts, 1/4 cup.
4. Mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
5. Curry leaves, a sprig.
6. Asafetida, a pinch.
7. Salt, as per taste.
8. Coconut powder, 1 tablespoon, (optional).
9. Chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon.

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter.  Turn off the stove and add the curry leaves, chili powder, and asafetida.  Mix this along with the poha and peanuts and mix everything well with the required salt. Spread this mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until the poha is crisp. Once the mixture is cooled down, add the roasted channa dhal, mix well and serve.

BROCCOLI RICE (Indian style with podi)





A simple recipe, which takes no time to whip up if you have the powder ready.  This is my friend's recipe. She usually makes this bell peppers (capsicums). I wanted to try this broccoli instead and it came out very well. This is also an ideal lunch box recipe, balanced and healthy.  Here I have made this with diabetic rice.

Ingredients: 

To roast and grind:
1. Channa dhal, 1 tablespoon.
2. Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
3. Dried red chilies, 2-3.
4. Coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon.

Other Ingredients:
1. Rice, 1 cup.
2. Onions, 1 medium size, diced finely.
3. Broccoli, 1 floret, cut into small florets.
4. Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
5. Mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
6. Urad dhal, 1 teaspoon.
7. Channa dhal, 1 teaspoon.
8. Raw peanuts, 1 tablespoon. (Roasted peanuts can also be added in the end).
9. Salt, as per taste.
10. Curry leaves, a sprig.

Preparation:
Cook the rice and let it cool completely. Grind the powder under the "roast and grind" section and keep aside.  Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the peanuts and fry for a few more seconds. Now add the channa dhal, urad dhal, and cumin seeds and roast for a few more seconds until red. Add the diced onions and curry leaves and saute for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add the ginger-garlic paste, cut broccoli florets, and salt and keep sauteing for a few more minutes and until the broccoli is tender. Now reduce the flame to a simmer and add the rice and mix well. Sprinkle the powder now and keep mixing under low flame for 2 more minutes and turn off the stove. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with any preferred side dish.

Cracked Wheat, Dates, and Fig Payasam (Kheer)




This is a very simple and quick dessert that I whipped for last week puja. Instead of using regular sweetener, I wanted to include some dry fruits to make this more nutritious for the kids. I have used coconut palm sugar to give some more sweetness, if desired it can be omitted. The dates and fig give enough sweetness to the dish without the sugar. The dates and fig can also be pressure cooked than microwaved before making the payasam. Here I have made it a little thicker, you can add more milk, probably half a cup more to make it a little thinner.


Ingredients:
1. Cracked wheat, small variety, 1 cup.
2. Dates, 5-6.
3. Fig, 3-4.
4. Cardamom powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
5. Milk, 1 cup. (I used almond milk here).
6. Broken cashews and raisins fried in a little bit of ghee, 1 tablespoon.
7. Coconut palm sugar, 1 tablespoon or more. (Jaggery can also be used here).
8. Chopped dates and fig for garnishing, 1 tablespoon.

Preparation:
Chop the dates and fig into small pieces and microwave them in a bowl with water just in to cover them for 4 minutes.  This will turn a little mushy. Heat a pot with a cup of milk and 3 cups of water. Once it comes to a boil, add the cracked wheat, cardamom powder, cooked dry fruits mixture and the palm sugar. Cook it under low-to-medium flame for around 7 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Once the desired consistency is reached, switch off the stove, add the fried cashews and raisins and the chopped dates and nuts and serve hot or cold.

Green Apple Chutney/Thokku





Grocery shopping with kids is quite a show with the kids these days since they are in the "opinionated and expressive" stage.  My little guy was in a phase where he loved green apples and then it went to "I like only red apples only" phase.  Now I was left with almost half a dozen green apples, which no one wanted. The only way to finish these was to use it cooking and I had been using these apples in rasam, chutney and spicy salads.  Coming on to the recipe, this is originally my tomato thokkku recipe, where I used the tart apples instead. It was very good, and the tart apples balanced well with the heat and spices. I have paired it here with cracked wheat vegetable upma. This chutney goes well as side dish with rice, dosas, chapathis, and bread.

I have used very less oil here, so it looks a little thicker. You can add more oil in the end when the chutney comes together to give it a creamy texture.

Ingredients:
1. Green apples, 4. I have used granny smith apples here. Peel them and cut them into small cubes.
2. Ginger, a small piece.
3. Mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
4. Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
5. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
7. Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
8. Fenugreek powder, a pinch.
9. Hing, 1/4 teaspoon.
10. Curry leaves, a few.
11. Salt, as per taste.

Preparation:
Grind the apples and ginger together into a coarse mixture. You can also grate the apples if preferred. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil turns hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Now add the rest of the ingredients and keep sauteing under low flame until the apples are cooked and the chutney comes together. This will take around 10 minutes.  If preferred more oil can be added in the end.



Broccoli Stuffed Parathas





Stuffed parathas are very healthy and balanced when served with curd and pickle. My favorite stuffings are cauliflower and potatoes. We can also add other grated vegetables like radishes, carrots, etc. I started making these broccoli parathas to sneak this healthy vegetable into the kids' diet.  For the kids, I usually cut them into wedges and serve them with curd or ketchup. My favorite side dish for these kinds of parathas are any tomato-based sides like chutneys. I have served them here with tomato gotsu for favorite side dish for pretty much everything ranging from pongal, upma, dosas, to idlis.  Try these parathas with tomato chutney or tomato pickle, you will never go back to just pickle and curd again :)

Ingredients:
For the  Stuffing:
1. Grated broccoli,1 cup.
2. Cumin  seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
3. Chili powder or sambar powder, 1/2 teaspoon or more depending upon preferred spice level.
4. Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon (optional).
5. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
6. Salt, as per taste.
7. Asafetida, a pinch.

For the dough:
1. Whole wheat flour, 1-1/2 cups.
2. Salt, 1/4 teaspoon.
3. Warm water, for mixing the dough.
4. Oil, around a tablespoon.

Preparation:
To prepare the dough, mix the salt and the flour first and then add the water slowly  to start creating the dough. Once a sticky ball is formed, add the oil and knead it into a pliable dough. Knead for 10 more minutes and cover with a moist cloth and let it rest for half an hour.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil.  Once the oil is hot enough, add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds.  Now add the broccoli along with the rest of the ingredients and saute or cook closed under low-to-medium flame for around 10 minutes until the broccoli is cooked. Let it completely cool before using this mixture for the parathas.

To make the rotis, take a ball of the dough (probably around the size of a big lemon) and flatten into a thick circle using the palm. Add a tablespoon of the broccoli mixture right in the center and close the dough around the mixture.  Flatten it gently and roll it into parathas.  These parathas are a little thicker and it is okay if a little bit of the stuffing oozes out. Heat a pan and rub with an oil-soaked rag or a cut onion. Place the paratha on the pan and let it cook for 30 seconds on one side. Flip the parathas to the other side and let it cook for 30 more seconds. Flip the paratha for a few more seconds until it is cooked evenly. Serve with pickle and curd.

Dhal Dhokli






This is a popular Gujarathi dish made with wheat flour dough and toor dhal. The taste and the flavor combination is very good. I tasted this a local Indian restaurant once and really loved the taste. It was served in a bowl with a ghee on top. The taste of the peanuts and bits of dough floating with the spiced dhal was very good, especially when eaten piping hot in this cold weather and it is healthy as well. Got this recipe from a friend and sharing it here:

Ingredients:
For the dough(I have used multi-grain atta here):
1. Whole wheat flour, 1 cup.
2. Oil, a tablespoon.
3. Hot water, 1/2 cup or more as required for preparing the dough.
4. Salt, 1/4 teaspoon.
5. Ajwain seeds, 1/2 teaspoon. I didn't use this here since hubby is not a big fan of this taste.

For the dhal:
1. Raw peanuts, washed and soaked for a couple of hours, 1/2 cup.
2. Toor dhal, 1/2 cup.
3. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
4. Diced onions, 1 cup.
5. Chopped tomatoes, 1 cup.
6. Ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon.
7. Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
8. Coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon.
9. Cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon.
10. Hing, a pinch,
11. Lemon juice, a tablespoon.
12. Mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
13. Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
14. Cinnamon stick, a small piece.
15. Cloves, 2-3.
16. Cardamom pods, 2.
17. Salt, as per taste.
18. Chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons, for garnishing.

Preparation:
Mix the ingredients given in the dough section and make a pliable dough with enough water and let it rest covered with a moist cloth. Cook the dhal with the turmeric powder and boil the peanuts and keep these two aside. I cooked the dhal and the peanuts in the same pressure cooker with a small bowl for the peanuts.  Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom and fry for a couple of seconds.  Now add the diced onions and saute for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add the chopped tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste and saute for a few minutes until everything turns into a pulp. Now add the chili powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder and keep sauteing under low flame until the spices lose their raw smell. Now add 3 cups of water along with the cooked dhal, boiled peanuts, hing, and enough salt and cook medium low flame for 5-10 minutes.

When the dhal mixture is getting cooked, roll the dough into small balls and make thin chapathis out of them. Cut them into diamond or square shapes and drop them into the boiling dhal mixture. Let it cook for 10 minutes until the roti pieces starting floating to the top. Switch off the stove at this stage, add lemon juice, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with a teaspoon of ghee on top.
 

Red Rice Poha Bisibelebath




This is a short-cut version of one of my favorite rice varieties.  Usually the prepping and cooking time for bisibelebath takes longer for me but this time I had some cooked dhal on hand. All I had to do was to cut the required vegetables and start preparing it right away. I have used red rice poha here. Red rice is known for its various health benefits like reducing cholesterol etc, so this is a very healthy and ideal grain of choice for diabetics.  Personally, we liked this variation better since the texture of the poha was very soft in this dish. I have used home-made bisibelebath masala here and the recipe for that will be updated here soon.

Here is the recipe for a quicker and healthier version of bisibelebath:

Ingredients:
1. Cooked toor dhal, 2/3 cup.
2. Red rice poha or any other poha varieties like white or brown rice, 1 cup,
3. Peeled small onions, 1 cup.
4. Tomatoes, medium-size, 2, chopped.
5. Ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon.
6. Mixed vegetables like carrots, green beans, bell peppers, peas, drumsticks etc all coming around 1-1/2 cup when chopped.
7.Curry leaves, a few.
8. Chopped cilantro, around 2 tablespoons.
9. Mustard seeds, 1/4 teaspoon.
10. Cumin seeds, 1/4 teaspoon.
11. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
12. Bisibelebath powder, 1 tablespoon.
13. Asafetida, a pinch.
14. Salt, as per taste.
15. Tamarind, a small gooseberry size, extract thick juice from this and keep aside.

Preparation:
Wash the poha and let it soak in water just enough to immerse it for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, squeeze the water out of the poha and keep it aside. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Now add the small onions and saute for a few minutes until the onions are tender. Now add the chopped tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, and curry leaves and keep sauteeing until everything is well blended. Now add the diced mixed vegetables along with the turmeric powder, bisibelebath powder; mix everything and saute for 2 more minutes until the spices lose their raw smell. Now add the tamarind juice along with 2 cups of water, asafetida, and salt and let it come to a boil and then add the cooked dhal. Mix everything well and let it cook for 5 minutes until the  vegetables are cooked. Now add poha ,  2 more cups of water, mix well, and cook for a minute and turn off the stove and garnish with chopped cilantro.  The bisibelebath might look a little runny at this stage but it will start to thicken up as it cools. Serve with pickle or pappad or any spicy side dish.

Baked Masala Peanuts




Starting the year with a healthy snack recipe. One of my favorite snacks, this time I wanted to make it at home and bake them instead of the usual deep frying method. This method hardly takes any time at all. I assembled everything in 5 minutes when I was preparing lunch and by the time lunch was ready, the peanuts were also done. Try this method and let me know your thoughts. There was no compromise in the taste and we can save all the unwanted fats and calories by baking them instead.
Ingredients:
1. Raw peanuts, 2 cups. I have used the ones with skin on.
2. Gram flour (besan), 4 tablespoon.
3. Oil, 1 tablespoon.
4. Chili powder, 1 teaspoon or more depending upon preferred spice level.
5. Hing, 1/4 teaspoon.
6. Curry leaves, a few.
7. Salt, as per taste.
9. Garlic powder or ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon (optional).

Preparation:
Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl along with a little water to that all the flour and spices stick and coat the peanuts. The mixture should be a little thick and not too runny. Spread them out on a greased baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, mixing them around every 15 minutes to aid in even baking. At the end of 25 minutes keep and eye on them, sometimes the peanuts get baked pretty quickly and will get burnt. Remove them from the oven earlier if you feel that the peanuts have baked adequately.