Friday, October 30, 2015

Friendly Chocolatey Ghosts ; Halloween Special!

When you have little kids at home, it is rather hard to ignore Halloween. You have to participate in the spirit of it and have the kids dress up in some costume, go trick-or-treating and of course, make some scary treats!! Last year, I put together these " mummy dogs" which was a big hit.

This year, I thought of making something that would appeal to them , is easy to put together and would be relatively healthy. I came across these cute ghost snacks somewhere. For the life of me, I cannot remember where but the image has stuck in my head.I think it was an ad I came across by snack-pack pudding. I had to re-create it and the kids loved it.

In fact, they helped me make it! Do give it a try! Bet your kids would enjoy it too.. It is also a nice way to make your kid eat bananas.

Servings: 4 ( 1 cup per person)


Snack-pack Chocolate pudding cups: 4

Bananas: 4 small or medium sized bananas
Chocolate chips: 12 numbers


Peel each banana and cut 6 inches from the top. Keep the cut portion of the banana on a plate.

Open the flap of each of the pudding cup. Insert one piece of the cut banana in each cup.

Take 3 chocolate chips per banana and insert it into the banana in such a manner that it looks like the eyes and mouth.


 Your ghost is ready! Yes, it is as simple as that!! I am bringing this to Throwback Thursday,Fiesta Friday #92 and Saucy Saturdays.

Cooking made easy:

Make sure that the banana are firm ( just turning yellow) and not over-ripe.

Tip for healthy living:

If you have children who are fussy with fruits and vegetables, one of the ways to introduces healthy food to them is combining  or pairing them with the unhealthy food. This ways it does not look like a bad deal to the child and it is a win-win for both the parent and the child. Some examples would be combing fruits with chocolate by dipping the fruit lightly in it; serving rice and vegetables with chips or crackers. In fact, one of the favorite ways for my son eating his lunch is : one scoop of rice and vegetables with one piece of cracker( usually goldfish or cheese-its).

Food for thought:

A champion is a dreamer that refused to give-up. Unknown

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ragi Shevai / shemiyan( Finger millet vermicelli); Meatless Monday.

I personally avoid gluten as much as possible. I love vermicelli . We have a traditional home-made version of this where in we make vermicelli from rice, wheat and Ragi and is sun-dried. This can be stored for years!  Rice and wheat shevai/vermicelli are the more popular ones. Every time either when someone visits us from India or we visit India, I bring this for myself. During my recent trip to India, I was pleasantly surprised to find Ragi vermicelli so easily available. I am a big fan of Ragi ( finger millet) and use it a lot in my cooking. I regularly make Ragi Neer dosa, Ragi Phanna polo, Ragi masala dosa and even ragi porridge. When I made the vermicelli dish as a fasting recipe, I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn't stop eating! I ate a lot but my stomach felt light unlike other meals, which when we overeat we feel  bloated and uncomfortable. I  was eager to share this recipe with everyone. It is a super simple and easy recipe.

Servings: 2-3 ( 1-1 1/2 cup per person)


Dried ragi shevai ( finger millet vermicelli): 4 cups
Water: 8 cups
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Urad dal( matpe bean lentil): 1 tsp
Green chilies: 2 small, slit lengthwise
Freshly grated coconut: 1/4 cup
Sugar: 1 tsp


Boil water with salt in a pot. When it boils, turn of the flame and add the dried ragi Shevai  to the pot in such a way that the Shevai is completely immersed in it.

Close the pot and keep aside for 5 mins or until all the Shevai have changed color slightly and look soft.

Drain and keep aside. Make sure that you don't soak the shevai for too long as then the whole dish will be mushy! The Shevai has to be al dente.

Upon draining, if it looks a little clumpy, separate it using your fingers.

Heat coconut oil in a sauté pan/ kadai on medium heat. Add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the curry leaves, urad dal and green chilies. Saute for a few seconds.
 Now add the drained Shevai and mix well. Add sugar and more salt if needed. Add freshly grated coconut reserving a little for garnish.Turn off the gas.

Garnish with the remaining coconut. You can also sprinkle a little sugar on top, especially for little kids as it gives it a nice taste.

Serve hot .

For adults, it can be served with savory snacks like mixture or chips. Some like to eat it with a banana or even yogurt. I am bringing this to Throwback Thursday and Fiesta Friday.

Cooking made easy:

Make sure that the shevai is completely drained before adding it to the pan with the seasoning. Once the Shevai is drained, you can fluff it with a fork to ensure that it is not stuck to each other. You can also run the colander under cold water while draining so that it does not continue to cook.

Tip for healthy living:

You can add vegetables like peas, peas and carrots or mixed vegetables to this dish to make it even more healthier and balanced.

Food for thought:

Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction. E.O. Wilson

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Food Day Blogger Takeover! #GreenMeal Recipes

I am a proud Meatless Monday Blogger. I am all for shifting from meat to healthier protein alternatives and even to a plant-based diet.The very purpose of my blog is healthy eating and thereby healthy living. So when the Meatless Monday Team  invited me to participate in the Food Day Blogger Takeover, I was quick to jump to grab this wonderful opportunity to promote healthy food choices.

Food Day is celebrated here in America on October 24th, to inspire Americans to change their diets and their food policies. Thousands of events occur across the country  to celebrate a better food system. The focus for Food Day 2015 is Toward a Greener Diet. The goal is to increase awareness about the critical importance of eating less meat and enjoying more whole plant-based foods so as to lead healthier lives and to help save/protect the animals and our environment. These are issues towards which all of us have to be more proactive and take a positive step for the better.

As part of this celebration, the Meatless Monday Team is running a week-long campaign starting from Monday, October 19 th through October 24th.The campaign has several options from how to transition to meatless meals or sustainably raised protein to small changes towards a greener diet. I chose to use #GreenMeal Recipes and round up my best plant-based recipes. Why did I choose you theme?? Because I wanted to drive home the message that one could eat, enjoy and live on plant-based food. You don't need meat to enjoy food. You DO NOT need meat to live. If humans were meant to eat meat, we would have had longer canines( teeth)  like carnivorous animals do. Did you know that the human digestive system was not built to digest meat? In fact, it is said that meat takes FOUR days to be digested in our gut!  Here is some living proof that we can live healthy wholesome life without meat: majority of Indians are vegetarians who don't even eat eggs.They have been vegetarians for generations and are absolutely healthy with healthy bodies and brains. How many doctors and engineers have you personally  come across who are vegetarians?? In my family, my mother, my in-laws, several aunts and uncles are all vegetarians and very healthy. This should prove that it is possible to live without eating meat.

As part of GreenMeal Recipes, I have rounded up 10 of my favorite plant-based recipes; recipes that I cook on a regular basis in my kitchen. Some of the recipes are very traditional that have been cooking in our kitchens for hundreds of years, while some are very modern resulting from the fusion of several cuisines . But, most important of all, is that these are simple and easy recipes that anyone can cook! You could easily make any of these recipes a part of your everyday life. Some of course, are easier than others. So just start with the easier ones and you can slowly get more adventurous . So without further ado, here are the recipes. Just click on them to read the recipe in entirety.

Tawa Pulao

Moon-Bean Sprout Pulao

Spicy Fall Salad

Tacos Made Healthy

Supergreens Salad

Batate Ambado

Avocado Cheese Burger

Avocado Cheese Wrap

Beetroot Raita

Bisibelebath ( Rice-lentil-vegetable medley)

Black-Bean Chilli Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Butternut Squash Fries

Caribbean Black Bean Corn Mango Salad

Also, do visit all these other wonderful bloggers for ideas to move away from meat towards a healthier diet and therefore healthier living.

Alli from Don't Panic Mom
Amanda from Produce for Kids
April from Gluten is My Bitch
Apsara from Eating Well Diary
Donna from The Hanging Spoon
Emily from Colorado Moms
Gina from The Multitasking Missus
Jen from Driftwood Gardens
Jessica from The Balanced Kitchen
Jill from Just the Right Byte
Jory from Teeny Tiny Foodie
Kristen from Fueling a Fit Fam
Lacy and Emily from Laughing Lemon Pie
Maaike from the Official Food Day Blog
Maybelline from Naturalmente Mama
Monica from Mommy and Love
Sally from Real Mom Nutrition
Siri from Cooking with Siri
Suchitra from Su's Healthy Living
Susan from Real Kids Eat Spinach

I am linking this post to Fiesta Friday #91, Throwback Thursday and Saucy Saturday so that we can spread more awareness. Do share this post on the social media and help spread the word.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Batate Ambado /Batata vada/ Aloo bonda( fried potato fritters) ; Meatless Monday

Batata ambado is a classic konkani Amchi dish that is like by all potato lovers and most potato non-lovers( well if there is such a word as non-lovers). It is basically mashed potato that is seasoned, shaped into a ball, dipped in a seasoned chick-pea flour ( besan) batter and then deep fried. There are many versions of this dish all over the country where it is called differently with a few differences in the ingredients. The Maharashtrians make it spicy and use a different seasoning. They usually place it in a small roll/bun, pair it with some spicy, dry garlic chutney and eat it qlike a slider/sandwich. This is a very popular street dish and is known as " vada paav" wherein "vada" means the potato patty and "paav" means the bun or the roll.Elsewhere in the country they make it with either diced or mashed potatoes which may be mixed with other vegetables like onion, peas and carrots. This seasoned mixture is then dipped in chick-pea flour ( besan) batter and deep fried. It is then served with ketchup or some spicy chutney.

Now, we Mangalorean Konkanis make it slightly different. Ours is a no-onion/garlic recipe which makes it a perfect item to be served during auspicious occasions . Hence this can be eaten during Navartri. It also is made exclusively with seasoned mashe potatoes only. No other vegetable is mixed in it. It is usually served with a ginger-coconut chutney.

You must be wondering why a deep-fried potato dish is here on Su's healthy living??? Well, there are a few reasons to it.  The first one is that I have a healthier, skinny /low calorie/non-fried version too for this very popular item. Secondly, I wanted to provide this option for Navratri as it doesn't have onion/garlic. Thirdly, once in a while, eating one bonda is ok. Let me state something at this point. I rarely ever eat potatoes so I rarely make this dish. The pictures  I am posting today is from the batate ambado that my mother made. She makes the best! Here is the recipe:

Servings: 2-3 people( serving size: 2 ambado per person)


Potatoes: 3, medium sized
Water: to boil the potatoes
Green chillies: 1, chopped fine
Cilantro ( coriander leaves), chopped: 1 tbsp
Freshly grated coconut: 1 tsp( optional)
Salt: to taste
Hing ( asofoetida): a pinch

For tempering:
Coconut oil: 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Urad dal ( split matpe beans): 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig

For the batter:

Besan ( chick pea flour): 3/4 cup
Water : 1/2cup
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder: 1/8 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/8 tsp

Coconut oil for frying

For healthier version: coconut oil to grease the appe pan.


Boil the potatoes with the skin until tender in enough water so as to completely immerse the potatoes in it. You could cook the whole potato or cut it into quarters and cook it.

When cooked whole, it does not absorb a lot of water and therefore you can make a firmer ball. When done, drain the water, let the potatoes cool completely. Peel the cooled potatoes, mash it thoroughly in a bowl. The batter should be thick enough to shape it into balls. Add salt, finely chopped green chillies, coriander leaves and freshly grated coconut and mix well.


In a small frying pan/skillet, heat oil. Add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the urad dal, sauté for few seconds until the urad dal turns slightly golden in color. Add the curry leaves. Turn off the flame. Add this tempering to the mashed potatoes and mix well.

Pinch a lime size portion of the potato mixture and shape it into a ball using your hands. Do this with all the available potato mixture. Keep aside in a plate.

The batter:

In another deep  bowl, mix together besan( chick pea flour) and water to form a smooth homogenous mixture that has the consistency of a purée or idli batter. The batter should not have any lumps . It should not be too thick or too thin. Now add to this mixture salt, red chilli powder and cumin powder. Mix well and keep aside.

Putting it together:

Deep frying method :

In a wok/ kadai, heat enough oil so as to completely immerse the potato balls. The oil should be so hot that if you put in it a drop of batter, it should immediately float to the top.

Dip each of the potato balls in the prepared batter until it is completely covered by the batter.

Now gently drop this batter covered potato ball into the hot oil. Reduce heat and fry on medium low flame until the outer cover starts turning golden yellow.

Flip them using a slotted spoon and fry the other side. When done remove using a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

Healthier unfried version:

Heat appe pan on medium heat. Grease it using coconut oil. Place batter coated potato balls one each in each of the pan indentations . Cover and cook on low flame for 3-4 mins or when it easily starts to leave the pan. Flip each of them and cook from the other side for another 3-4 minutes or until it starts to turn golden in color.I don't have pictures for this but I promise to post in future. I have used this method in the past. I have to however warn you that the appe pan version is not as tasty as the fried version.

Serve hot with coconut-ginger chutney or cilantro-coconut chutney or just good old ketchup.


Cooking made easy:

You could cook the potatoes using a pressure cooker. This makes it faster.  One of the quicker ways to cool the cooke potatoes is placing them under running cold water. Using a peeler to peel is also an efficient way of peeling the potatoes.

Tip for healthy living:

If there is one vegetable that should be consumed organic, then those are potatoes. Potatoes have a very high level of pesticides in them as they absorb pesticides present in the soil and they absorb pesticides when they are sprayed on the plant! These pesticides have significant health impact on our bodies.

Food for thought:

Memories of our lives, of our works and seeds will continue in others. Rosa Parks

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Khotto Ani Mudo ;Festival Special; Navratri day 3.

Khotto & Mudo are two very traditional Mangalorean Konkani dishes that are prepared on auspicious/special events be it religious festivals or weddings, engagement parties and even during death anniversaries. Khotto is basically idlis ( rice-lentil cakes) that are made in moulds/cups made out of jackfruit leaves while Mudo is idli made in a cylindrical mould made out of some leaves that grow in the wild. It is believed that these are basically leaves of a plant that bears these flowers called "Bingaru".

Mudo is usually available during rainy season or the festival season in South Canara region. I cannot speak about elsewhere. If you are aware of other places that use these, please do share with us. Khotto, however is available all through the year as jackfruit leaves are available all year round. Most people have jackfruit trees in their backyards or somewhere close to them, so it is easily accessible to them. The problem however is that not everyone knows how to put the four jackfruit leaves together to make the Khotto cup/mould. I recently was in India on vacation and had a chance to videotape my mother making Khotto out of the leaves. I am going to share that video with you as soon as I have had a chance to edit it.

The batter used in both Khotto and Mudo is the basic idli batter except that during festivals, the rice in the idli batter is replaced with sooji or  varai / samo. You can find the recipe for the same here. Just replace the rice with samo. The difference however is in flavor in each of these due to the leaves that are used. Each one imparts a distinctive flavor and smell to the idli which can only be understood by someone who has eaten them. It is truly a specialty. When I went home this time, I refused to eat mere idlis. I ate all the mudos and khottos that I could. Khottos and mudos take longer to cook due to the volume and density of each one of them depending on the size. Mudos take even longer than khottos to cook.

Servings: 6


For the mould ( Khotto):
Jackfruit leaves: 24 medium leaves
Thin wooden skewers: 50 in number

For the mould ( Mudo): get readymade ones.

For the batter:
Urad dal: 1/2 cup
Cream of wheat( sooji):  1 cup
Water: 1 to 1 1/2 cups to grind urad dal
Salt to taste ( approximately 3/4 tsp)


For the mould ( Khotto): See the pictorial below:

For the batter:

Soak Urad dal for at least 3-4 hours.

Wash sooji/cream of wheat  thoroughly . Take it in a heat-proof bowl. Boil 5 cups water in the idli steamer/ pressure cooker, with the steamer plate in it. Place the bowl with the cream of wheat in it . Close the steamer/ pressure cooker and cook it for 10 mins on medium flame. Turn off the flame. Take the bowl out and let it cool down to room temperature.

Blend urad dal in a blender/ grinder , adding water little at a time until it rises to 3 times the volume you started with. Make sure you give the motor of the blender some rest in between. The consistency of the ground urad dal should be fluffy  and light ,not runny.

Pour the blended urad dal in a big bowl/ container.

Now mix the steamed and cooled sooji ( cream of wheat) with the  urad dal , cover and let it sit overnight to ferment. If living in cold region, you can keep it in the cold oven/ microwave overnight.

Next  morning add  salt to the batter and mix well.

Ensure that the batter has fermented well. You can know this when the batter has risen a little in the container. The consistency of the batter should be slightly thicker than the usual idli batter.

Putting it together :

Boil 500 ml of water in the idli steamer or pressure cooker with the steamer plate in.Fill the khotto/ mudo with batter until 2/3 full and steam in the idli steamer / pressure cooker ( without using the weight) on medium- high flame for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Mudo may need another extra 10-15 minutes before they are done. Turn off the heat and let it cool down in the steamer for another 10 minutes before taking them out of the mold.

Once completely cooled, you should be able to gently shake the mould and bring the steamed Khotto out in its entirety without breaking it and re-use the mould for another round of steaming. However, if you are apprehensive of breaking the Khotto, you can peel the mould and remove the Khotto out. In this case, you will no longer be able to re-use the mould.

Serve the khotto/mudo hot with sambar/ chutney or both.

Cooking made easy:

Usually for auspicious occasions, rice is not used for making Khotto/ Mudo. Instead sooji or varai ( samo) is used. For daily purposes, you could use idli rava ( rice rava) or soak and grind rice to make batter, as explained here.

Tip for healthy living:

Idli/ Khotto when served with coriander chutney or Sambhar becomes a complete meal with the essential portions of protein ( urad dal and tur dal), sooji/ rice rava( carbohydrates) and the vegetables in the Sambhar  or the greens in chutney providing essential minerals and vitamins.

Food for thought:

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. Ralph Marston