Daliya Kichadi (Broken wheat Kichadi)

Daliya or broken wheat as a rice substitute is one of my favorite. I make porridge, pongal, sweet pongal, and variety rices with this. I have been making kichadi with broken wheat for a while, usually for dinner since it is more filling and on the lighter side as well. This time it was for lunch since we wanted something spicy and flavorful after the Navarathri preparations of sweets everyday. I have paired this with potato fry and spicy cauliflower chukka (sauteed grated cauliflower with chili powder, salt, garlic and kasuri methi). This combination paired really well.  I have made the kichadi as a one pot dish with Instapot. It can be made using pressure cooker or stove top. This kichadi is a no onion, garlic recipe. It can be added, if required. This was taste-tested by my daughter Krithikha who loved it :

Broken wheat, 1 cup. (I have used the bigger variety here).
Moong dal, 1/2 cup.
Tomatoes, 2, finely chopped.
Green chilies, 3-4, slit into 2.
Criushed ginger, 1 tablespoon.
Turmeric powder, a pinch.
Asafetida, a pinch.
Salt, as per taste.
Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
Chopped vegetables like carrots, beans, capsicum, peas 1-1/2 cups.

Wash the wheat and dal together and keep aside. Heat a pressure cooker pot or Instapot in saute mode with a teaspoon of oil. Add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Now add the crushed tomates, chilies, and ginger and keep sauteeing until everything is blended. Add the turmeric powder, salt, asafetida along with 4 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Then add the wheat and the dal; mix everything together and pressure cook for 3 whistles or in the pressure cooker mode in IP for 15 minutes.  It can served with some ghee if preferred.

Brown Rice Spinach Kichadi

Posting another recipe after a longtime.  It's getting really hard to blog with kids activities and school routine.  Weekday mornings are usually very hectic with getting the kids ready for school and packing lunchboxes. My pressure cooker and Instapot are my busy day mornings lifesavers.  At my house, both the kids and my hubby prefer one-pot rice dishes. We have been giving the kids brown rice for lunch as well. I usually make fried rice or mixed rice varieties with brown basmati rice. My favorite brown rice is Sona Masuri brown rice these days. The cooked rice is very soft and tastes almost similar to white rice. The brand that I typically use is 24 Mantra Organic rice, which is available in most of the Indian grocery stores close by to us.

This is a very easy dish, all made into a one-pot and takes a few minutes to assemble. Kichadis are typically served hot with any spicy side dishes like potato fry, pickle, pappads etc. I usually pack the lunches in thermos for the kids and it stays warm until lunch and hubby usually warms up his lunch in microwave at work.

1. Rice, 1-1/2 cups. I have used Sona Masuri Brown rice here.
2. Spinach, 1 big bunch.
3. Garlic, 3 pods.
4. Peeled small onions, 1 cup.
5. Curry leaves, 1 handful.
6. Toor dhal, 1/2 cup.
7. Mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
8. Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
9. Salt, as per taste.
10. Ghee, 2 tablespoons.
11. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
12. Bayleaves, 2.

Wash the spinach well and chop into big pieces. Puree them with little water and keep aside. In a pressure cooker or Instant pot, add a teaspoon of ghee and once the ghee is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and bayleaves and let it splutter. Then add the small onions, crushed garlic, and curry leaves and saute until the onions are tender. Now add the rice, dhal, 3 cups of water, purred spinach, turmeric powder, and salt and cook it for 3 whistles for up to 12 to15 minutes.  I put it on the pressure cook mode on IP for 15 minutes. Once the pressure is released, mix the rice well and add more ghee if preferred. Serve hot with any spicy side dishes or pappads.

Mexican Rice with Quinoa and Brown Rice

This is one of our favorite dishes when we go out for Mexican restaurants, mildly spiced and I love the flavor this dish, which reminds of Indian tomato rice. My hubby is a fan of quinoa, so this time I made the rice with a mix of brown rice and quinoa together. This version will not be that fluffy because of the mixture and will be on the mushier side. You can use only rice or quinoa for a fluffier and drier texture. Preparation is very simple, just saute and dump everything in the rice cooker and cook, very easy and handy for lunch boxes.  I packed this for hubby's lunch along with cucumbers and strawberries.

1. Brown rice, 1 cup.
2. Quinoa, 1 cup.
3. Salsa, 1 cup. (Diced tomatoes can also be used instead).
4. Garlic, 2 pods, crushed
5. Bay leaf, 1 (optional).
6. Any kind of broth, 1 cup. (Water can be used instead).
7. Salt and pepper as per taste.
8. Diced onions, 1 cup.
9. Diced bell peppers, 1 cup.

Wash the rice and quinoa throughly and keep aside, I used an InstantPot to make this.  A thick bottomed pan or rice cooker can be used instead.  Add a teaspoon of oil in the pot and saute the onions until it is brown, Then add the garlic and diced peppers and saute until the peppers are tender. Add the rest of the ingredients into the pot along with 3 cups of water and let it cook until the rice is done.  Fluff it up with fork and serve.

Broccoli and Carrot Soup (low calorie and Vegan) Panera Bread Style

Broccoli cheddar cheese soup is one of my favorite soups from Panera Bread, but the calories and sodium content is very high in these; so tried to make a low-calorie version of the same; This time I made a vegan version with unsweetened almond milk and no cheese and the taste was very good even without the cheese; For a regular low-calorie version, low-fat milk and a little bit of cheddar cheese can be added; I have also added some nutritional yeast here for vitamin B;  The ingredients used here are very minimal and simple; Paired with a crusty bread, it is a filling healthy lunch or dinner;

Broccoli, 1 head, chopped into fine pieces
Shredded carrots, 2 cups
Garlic, 2 cloves, crushed
Any type of flour, 1 tablespoon; (I have used whole wheat flour here; you can use any type of flour, even any gluten-free flour works well here)
Nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon
Unsweetened almond milk or any other milk of choice, 1 cup
Salt and pepper as per taste

Heat a pot with a teaspoon of oil or butter; Add the flour and keep stirring under low flame until the flour turns into a light brown color without burning the flour;  Add a cup of water now along with the broccoli, carrots and garlic and let it simmer for 5 minutes; Now add the almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and let it simmer for 10 more minutes until it reaches the desired consistency; some more water may be added if required; Serve hot with bread

Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal

Today's breakfast: Oatmeal with chopped apples and almond milk (1/2 cup and I used water for the right consistency), topped with cinnamon powder, chia seeds, hemp seeds.  No sugar is added here. The sweetness comes from the apples. Served with celery juice on side. I have been Dr. Axe Josh for the last couple of months and been trying out his healthy food choices. The celery juice was suggested in his page.  I have been drinking it for the last few months and have seen a significant improvement in my energy levels.

Healthy snacks - Roasted red poha and coconut palm sugar coated peanuts

These two  snacks are the easiest to make and comes together in 10 to 15 minutes if the ingredients are available. Red poha is a better choice than regular white poha due to its cholesterol-lowering benefits. It is also pan-fried rather than deep fried.  The peanuts are usually made with jaggery, this time I tried them out with coconut palm sugar and it was equally tasty as the other version. These snacks come in handy when we are craving for something sweet and savory during evening teatime.

Roasted Red Poha 

1. Red poha (aval), 1 cup.
2. Raw peanuts, 1/2 cup.
3. Roasted channa dal, (pottu kadalai), 1/4 cup.
4. Curry leaves, a few.
5. Mustard seeds, 1/4 teaspoon.
6. Asafetida,  pinch.
7. Chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
8. Salt, as per taste.
9. Cashews, broken, 1/4 cup.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Now add the curry leaves, cashews and the peanuts and keep frying for a few seconds until the peanuts are well roasted. Reduce the flame now and add the poha, roasted channa dhal, chili powder, asafetida, and salt and keep mixing under low flame for 5-8 minutes until the poha is well roasted. Turn off the flame once the raw smell from the poha is gone. Serve once cooled.

Roasted dry red chilies (mor milagai) can also be broken and added for a different taste.

Coconut palm sugar coated peanuts:
1. Raw peanuts, 1 cup.
2. Coconut palm sugar, 2/3 cup.
3. Cardamom powder, 1/4 teaspoon.

Heat a pan with a cup of water. Once the water comes to a boil, add the coconut palm sugar and cardamom powder and keep mixing it. Once the sugar syrup reaches string consistency,( at this stage if jaggery is used instead, it is advisable to drain the syrup to avoid any grains of sand in the mixture) add the peanuts and keep mixing it under low flame.  Once everything comes together, turn off the flame and let it cool. Once cooled, the peanuts tend to get hard. Break them into separate bite-size pieces and serve.

Book review - "40 Steps To Reverse Diabetes" By Gowardhan Doddi

Diabetes is  spreading on epidemic proportions, especially in India. We have become the diabetic capital of the world since the last few years. In India, with the variety of choices of different cuisines and fast food options, foods loaded with sugars, fats, and artificial preservatives are getting consumed very often these days, since these are easily accessible owing to everyone busy and hectic lifestyle.  This ultimately leads to hereditary diseases like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.  The sad part is that many kids are getting diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes these days.  We as the adults need to do some major lifestyle changes to make our next generation healthy and make them follow our example.

Recently I have been reading many books about healing our body naturally with food and supplements, and alternative healing therapies. It is very true that some types of foods have the power to heal our body from many diseases.  I came across "40 Steps to Reverse Diabetes" by Gowardhan Doddi, who is the founder of the Facebook group  Healthy Diet for Diabetics . This book is a very useful resource, for anyone trying to reduce their blood sugars with diet, exercise and other lifestyle modifications in simple easy to follow steps. He also shares inspiring stories about people who overcame diabetes or reduced their diabetic medications mainly through diet and exercise and what they did to achieve their goals.

The book focusses on getting back to our roots, when healthy eating was a way of life and everything was in moderation.  Each chapter in this book gives detailed information about understanding our body to overcome diabetes by following simple techniques and everything has been explained in a easy way to follow through.  The book also emphasizes on taking care of vitamin deficiencies like vitamin D and chromium, which play a major role in overall health, particularly in relation with diabetes.  It also gives elaborate information about steps and types of food to keep our body fats in the healthy range.   The book suggests making simple changes like being stress-free, having adequate sleep hours, and many more useful details, which is very much needed today to improve our overall health. I like the part where he explains about how simple day-today habits and alternate therapies can make a big difference in lowering blood sugars.  I am a strong believer in alternate therapy and the power of nourishing foods to heal our body, so I would recommend this book for people like me trying to reverse their diabetes naturally and trying to reduce their diabetic medication.

Copies of the book is available at:

All the people who purchase the E-book will get an opportunity to participate in 8 weeks diabetes challenge. This is a sincere effort by the author to make the people take action after reading the book. I am also going to participate in this challenge that is starting on May 21st.  Please click on the link below for more details about this challenge.

8-week diabetic challenge

Guest Post- Understanding Mesothelioma Cancer

  Understanding Mesothelioma Cancer

I get the following question a lot so I thought it would be ideal to make it the highlight of this article.  What is mesothelioma? Mesothelioma (also known to be called malignant mesothelioma) is a fairly rare form of cancer that affects the mesothelium. Mesothelium… mesothelioma… you see the connection.

The mesothelium is the thin tissue layer that lines (covers) most internal organs. Mesothelioma can be very aggressive and deadly in its attacks, and although treatments are available for its early stages, progression into more chronic stages will result in certain death.

Types of Mesothelioma

There are different types of mesothelioma based on the particular organ affected. The common types are pleural mesothelioma (which affects the lungs), peritoneal mesothelioma (which affects the abdomen), pericardial mesothelioma (which affects the heart), and less frequently, testicular mesothelioma (which affects the lining of testicles). The most common form of mesothelioma is that of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), while the peritoneal,pericardial, and testicular forms are rare.

Mesothelioma Causes

Medical research has shown that mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos are a group of naturally occurring minerals that have been recognized for their strength and fire resistance. Its fire retardant qualities made the use of asbestos common in products such as roofing materials, cements and even fabric. Over the past few decades however, its use has greatly declined in the manufacturing of these products since it has been implicated as the principal culprit causing mesothelioma. Prolonged exposure to asbestos is known to greatly increase the risk of contracting the disease.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 2000 people are diagnosed of mesothelioma annually in the United Kingdom (UK), while in the United States, over 2700 people die annually of mesothelioma. In the UK, deaths from mesothelioma increased by up to 10 times from 1969 to 2009 and is not showing any signs of letting up.


Mesothelioma Symptoms

The symptoms of mesothelioma may take years (sometimes decades) to develop. This makes early diagnosis of the condition rare, with most cases being found when already advanced into the chronic stages. There are various symptoms that result from mesothelioma and these symptoms depend principally on the site of contraction. The evident symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are not the same as those of pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma.

The diagnosis of mesothelioma is achieved through various techniques, but ultimately it all begins with the examination of the symptoms observed by the patient. The use of CT scans and X-rays are utilized to examine the potentially affected area. If these tests do not reveal concrete evidence, then a biopsy is carried out. Biopsy is a procedure that involves the removal of a small amount of tissue (with the aid of a specialized needle) from the suspected area. These tissues are then analyzed and observed under a microscope to confirm the presence or absence of the disease.

In conclusion, mesothelioma is fatal.  By knowing about common asbestos locations, possible asbestos exposure, the warning signs, and symptoms, you are more likely to live a lot longer than the average person diagnosed with mesothelioma because you will have the knowledge to get screened for it annually.  Prevention can only be possible if you have never been around asbestos products. So, as much as possible, stay away from asbestos-made products and avoid them at all costs so that you will never run the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.


This is a guest post from Ashley Stafford.  He is from  a volunteer effort based website with the mission of raising mesothelioma cancer awareness and saving lives. Their mission directly involves helping cancer patients, veterans, firefighters, construction workers, seafarers, and senior citizens.

Quinoa coconut milk pulav

A couple of months ago, I posted the photo on a popular foodie group and got good reviews about it and there were many readers asking for the quinoa recipe. I couldn't get to post the recipe until now since I was busy with the kids and adjusting to their new school routine. This is a very simple recipe when you are short on time and still want to have something healthy and filling. This pairs well with just a simple raita and pickle.

1. Quinoa, 1 cup.
2. Diced onions, 1 cup.
3. Green chilies, 3-4, slit into two.
4. Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
5. Mixed vegetables like carrots, green beans, peas, bell peppers etc, diced into small pieces, aeound 1-1/2 cups.
6. Bay leaves, 2.
6. Cardamon pods, 2.
7. Cinnamon, a small stick.
8. Cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon.
9. Coconut milk, 1/2 cup.
10. Curry leaves, a few.
11. Salt, as per taste.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cardamom pods and fry for a few seconds.  Add the diced onions now and saute for a few minutes until translucent. Now add the ginger-garlic paste, green chilies, curry leaves, diced vegetables, and salt and mix everything well. Add 1/2 cup of water along with the coconut milk and let it come to a boil. (At this stage you can transfer the contents to a pressure cooker or rice cooker, add the quinoa and let it cook like rice.) Add the quinoa now and cook closed for around 10-12 minutes under medium-to-low flame until the quinoa is cooked and all the water is absorbed.  Serve with any preferred side dish and yogurt.

Split peas and vegetable soup with quinoa

Split peas are almost like our dals and they taste like regular dry green peas. We love the taste of these in soups. I usually make very simple soups like these for dinner.  I also add brown rice, barley, or quinoa to soups like these, so they make for a complete one-pot meal and we dont need any other sides like breads. We can also pair these soups with simple salads to make it more filling and a complete meal. Here we can also use any other lentils or legumes instead of the split peas.

1. Split peas, 1 cup.
2. Cut mixed vegetables like carrots, celery, green beans etc, 1-1/2.
3. Quinoa, 1/2 cup.
4. Garlic, 2 cloves, crushed.
5. Diced tomatoes, 2 cups. (Make sure the skin of the tomatoes are peeled before dicing).
6. Tomato juice, 1 cup.
7. Any preferred seasoning mix, 1/2 teaspoon. I have used Italian seasoning mix here)
8. Dry chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon. (optional).
9. Salt and per pepper as per taste.

Wash the split peas well and cook it well either by pressure cooker or stove top until tender. Heat a pot with a tablespoon of oil.  Add the crushed garlic and saute for a few seconds. Now add 4 cups of water along with the diced tomatoes, tomato juice, seasoning mix and the split peas and let it come to a boil. Now add the diced vegetables, washed quinoa and cook for 15 minutes until everything is cooked. Add salt and pepper now along with the dry chili flakes and turn off the stove.  Garnish with any preferred herbs and serve hot.

Vegetable Kothu Chapathi

Kothu parotta is one my favorite street food dishes. These days with hubby and I trying to cut down the calories, I usually make these with whole wheat tortillas or chapathis.  These pack nicely as well for lunchbox.   A filling dish, which is on the lower calorie and carb side. This dish is spicy enough and can be just served with curd.

Please check out my other favorite dishes with leftover chapathis : Chapathi Upma and Chili Chapathi and Egg Kothu Chapathi.

1. Leftover chapathis, 5.
2. Diced onion, 1 cup.
3. Diced tomatoes, 1 cup.
4. Diced mixed vegetables, 2 cups.
5. Green chilies, 3, slit into 2.
6. Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
7. Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
8. Chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon.
9. Salt, as per taste.
10. Fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon.
11. Garam masala or any other masala powders, 1/2 teaspoon.

Break the chapathis into small bite-size pieces and keep aside. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the fennel seeds and fry for a few seconds.  Add the diced onions and saute until translucent. Now add the diced tomatoes, green chilies, and ginger-garlic paste and keep sauteeing until everything is blended. Add the diced vegetables along with turmeric powder, chili powder, garam masala and salt and mix well. Cook closed under low flame for 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Add the chapathi pieces now and mix well. Let it sit under low flame for 5 more minutes until the chapathi pieces are soft. Serve with yogurt.

Mediterranean Style Beans Stew

This recipe is from a cookbook that I got from the library recently. I liked the way the dish looked and the preparation was also very simple and easy.  This goes well with almost everything, rice or bread or quinoa, millets, or cracked wheat.  We had this for a weekday lunch with quinoa and boiled eggs. This recipe is a keeper if you are looking for a different lunch recipe.

1. Thinly sliced onions, 1 cup.
2. Garlic, 2 pods, crushed.
3. Green beans, chopped into an inch pieces, 2 cup.
4. Cooked white beans, 1 cup.
5. Stewed tomatoes, 1 can.
6. Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons.
7. Dried dill, 1/2 teaspoon.
8. Salt and pepper as per taste.
9. Chopped parsley, 1/4 cup.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sliced onions and chopped garlic once the oil is hot and saute until tender. Now add the stewed tomatoes, 1 cup of water, tomato paste, green beans, dried dill and let everything cook for 10 minutes until the beans are tender. Now add the white beans, salt and pepper, mix well, and cook for 2 more minutes and turn off the stove. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with bread, rice, quinoa or any carbs of choice.

From Healthline: 29 Things Only a Person with Diabetes Would Understand

Friends, check out this article from Healthline, many of which I can relate :)


Lemon and Vegetable Quinoa

This is our favorite quinoa recipe since we are big fans of lemon rice. Here I have made the lemon quinoa in Mysore lemon rice style by adding onions and ground paste. I have also added some vegetables to make it more filling.

1. Cooked quinoa, 2 cups.
2. Juice of one big lemon.
3. Green chilies, 2-3 depending upon preferred spice level.
4. Ginger, a small piece.
5. Mint leaves, a handful.
7. Chopped cilantro for garnishing.
8. Chopped vegetables like carrots, green beans, peas etc. 1 cup.
9. Mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon.
10. Urad dhal, 1/2 teaspoon.
11. Channa dhal, 1/2 teaspoon.
12. Peanuts, 1 tablespoon.
13. Curry leaves, a few.
14. Broken dried red chilies, 2.
15, Turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon.
16. Salt, as per taste.
17. Hing, a pinch.
18. Diced onions, 1/2 cup.

Grind the green chilies, ginger, and mint leaves into a fine paste 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 urad dhal, channa dhal, curry leaves, peanuts, broken dried red chilies and fry for a few seconds until the dhals turn brown.  Add the diced onions and saute for a few minutes until they are translucent. Now add 1/2 cup of water along with the ground paste, turmeric powder, hing, lemon juice, and the chopped vegetables and cook for around 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.  Add the cooked quinoa and the required amount of salt and mix well. Let it sit under low flame for 5 minutes and switch off the stove. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with chips and pickle.

Zaatar-Spiced Chickpeas Stir Fry

Zaatar seasoning mix is a Middle-Eastern spice mix comprised of  sesame seeds, dry herbs, and spices.  Recently there are many recipes coming in blogs made with this spice and I wanted to also try this spice. I found them at a local farmer's market nearby. They also had some ready-made flat breads sprinkled with this spice. I loved the flavor of this bread and wanted to try out something else with the same spice. I tried adding it to soups and this time with a simple stir fry. If you are looking for a different recipe with chickpeas other than the regular channa masala, you will love this. This goes well with almost everything, rice quinoa, rotis or even with salads. My favorite is a veggie wrap with salad vegetables along with these chickpeas.

1. Boiled chickpeas, 2 cups.
2. Diced onion, 1 cup.
3. Garlic, 2 crushed.
4. Zaatar seasoning mix, 1-1/2 tablespoon.
5. Paprika, 1 teaspoon.
6. Salt, as per taste.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil and saute the diced onions until tender.  Then add the crushed garlic, zaatar spice mix, and paprika and saute under low flame for 2 more minutes. Now add the boiled chickpeas and salt, mix everything,  cook for 2 minutes under low flame and switch off. Serve with rice or any type of breads.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 :)

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 :)

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.

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.

  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.

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.

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.

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.