Category: Healthier Options

Cooking with the Books: KAF’s 100% Whole-Wheat Bread

I seriously don’t enjoy eating Ethoxylate Mono and Diglycerides, Calcium Peroxide, Datem (or uncommonly known as Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Ester of Mono- and Diglycerides), Ammonium Sulfate or even Azodicarbonmide? Like, seriously don’t like it.

You might be wondering why am I listing all these unpronounceable words.

Well, if you are eating store bought breads, and enjoying them then most probably you do enjoy eating all those long sounding ingredients I just mentioned.

And not that I want to scare you or anything (really, I don’t) but calcium peroxide (something common in lots of bread brands out there especially the white flour kinds) is a chemical that can also be used as a fertilizer. Tasty, right?

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Now we’re talking: Soy & Chickpea burgers!

We had an amazing lunch today and I am really proud of myself for getting it right in every respect.

There was Hungarian roasted pepper and paprika chicken (yum!) served with a side of tomato & basil couscous and golden crusted brussels sprouts on the table.

It was a feast and both V and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

Yet, none of the above is the dish I will be talking about today. But don’t worry! I’ll post those recipes- because really I can’t keep all that good stuff to just me. You guys should be in the know too!

You guys should also be in the know of these burgers that I made over the weekend.

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SRC: Berries & Cherry Walnut Oatmeal Bars

The first week of the month is generally busy for me- what with the Recipe Swap post going up the first Sunday of the month and the SRC post going live the first Monday of the month. As a result, the weekend is always spent working on the posts and since I am a big time procrastinator, I end up baking/cooking, editing photos and blogging two posts in one day. I know, I really should plan things better!

Anyway yesterday proved to be doubly busy as I finally made myself a Facebook page for the blog! Yay!

After toying with the idea for months, I finally decided its time to face my fears. When asked by V why I wouldn’t get a Facebook page, I would give him the excuse that I am too scared that no one will like my page and also a big reason for no FB page was that I as it is struggle with my own profile on Facebook- a blog page will be a lot of commitment in terms of updating status and making sure they are good, etc., etc. But I knew I was just being lazy about it. So, I took the plunge and set up a page.

Since I was getting all tech savvy for the blog, I made myself a twitter account too! Woo hoo! I have to admit, I have no clue what to do with it, but I am sure I’ll learn along the way.

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Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup

June is the month I had chosen to go on a controlled diet. And what would you know it’s here.

Now the thing with me is that I can not, for the love of god, diet. See, I don’t mind slogging it while exercising, but dieting and me have just never been good friends. Earlier this mutual hatred never was a problem. When I would put on weight- one month of rigorous exercise and I would be back in shape. Results with exercise were instant- in fact within a week I would see a difference. But now, not so much. I have been exercising quite religiously for months and still have not seen the results I would like.Of course I do admit things are different this time around.

For one, this time I have really, really, really put on weight. So there is more to shed off than the previous times. For another, (harsh reality) I am older than before. With age also comes slow metabolism. And maybe that’s why the results have not come as fast as before.

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Garam Masala Tuesdays: Punj Rattani Dal

Dals are an integral part of Indian meals. In some form or the other, they are eaten daily in almost every Indian home.

Dals- lentils or pulses- are varieties of dried beans and peas. They are the main source of proteins for the average vegetarian Indian. Although dal generally refers to split pulses, in actuality there are two types of dal. Whole pulses are known as sabūt dal and split pulses as dhuli dal. The hulling of a pulse is intended to improve digestibility and palatability, but as with milling of whole grains into refined grains, this affects the nutrition provided by the dish, reducing dietary fiber content

Each state in India cooks its dal in different ways.  In south, dal is mostly eaten in the form of sambhar. People of Uttar Pradesh swear by toovar dal which is tempered with asafoetida, cumin seeds and sometimes garlic. Punjabis love their dal whole and unhulled, in the form of the delicious dal makhani, or rajma to accompany their rice or chole with their bhaturas.

When I have to describe dal to people in America who haven’t eaten it, the easiest way is to give them a picture of a lentil soup, although dal is a far cry from just a simple soup. The dal that we have is not as watery as soup, generally being creamier (without necessarily adding cream). A well cooked dal is generally quite thick, but sometimes just to keep it light, people thin it down a bit, such being the case for some of the dals that are cooked in southern India.

The tadka or the tempering is what gives a dal its distinct flavor, and is probably what distinguishes it from soups.

Tempering involves heating oil/ ghee in a small pan, to which whole spices are added, which in turn is poured over the cooked dal. Tempering can be simple with a little asafoetida and cumin seeds being tempered in some ghee/or oil, and then mixed in with the cooked dal. Or it can be elaborate by tempering some onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes in ghee/oil, before adding to the cooked dal.

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Home Alone making paranthas, salad & pizza and thinking of all things sweet & scary!

So I am home alone for three nights.

V had to go for some office stuff to Texas, and I am left home alone.

This is the first time I am staying alone in our house. And I was very nervous about it. Our town is quite safe. So I was not scared of somebody breaking in (although, I made sure all my windows were closed and do not laugh, but I also put a chair/stool in front of the front and back doors. Just in case someone does decide to break in, I will be warned by the noise. Too much of CSI does that to you!)

Like I mentioned, I am not scared of someone breaking in (you are rolling your eyes, aren’t ya?), but all the horror movies I have seen have made me a little scared of the paranormal- ghosts to be more precise. So that you are sure, yes, I am an adult. But I have an overactive imagination. A very overactive imagination.

I remember after watching the movie The Ring , I slept with my lights on for a month, imagining the girl ghost in the movie standing next to my bed every time I switched off the lights off and then even when the image of the ghost left after a month, I continued sleeping with the lights on, thinking the ghost would get pissed off that I wasn’t sacred anymore, and would be tempted to scare me off.

Yes. Overactive. Imagination. Mine is.

So, how I always do when I am alone, the first night I slept with the lights in my room on. And with the TV on. And the bathroom lights on. And the hallway light on. And the living room light on. With the phone in my hand every time. I felt really bad that I was wasting so much electricity, but honestly I could not help it. This is how I slept last night as well. Today though, my protector, my husband, will be back home, and I should live in a world less scared of the evils it possesses. (I repeat- do not roll your eyes! or laugh! Please?)

Besides being scared at night, the other thing that was bothering me about being home alone for three days was the food situation. With V gone, I knew I would not feel like cooking for one. I knew I would be cooking Maggi noodles for lunch, dinner, and well, even breakfast. But, I did not want that. So, instead, as soon as V left I made it a point to pre-make things. I made the tomato feta pasta salad. I made the topping for the artichoke spinach pizza and also had the necessary leftovers for the chicken paranthas I had packed for V before he left. The maggi packets are left to be eaten some other week.

This post has no recipes. It has links to some of my previous recipes though. And all of them are good. Some are quite old, some not so much.

Chicken Paranthas

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March SRC: Spinach Artichoke Whole Wheat Pizza

My SRC assignment for the month of March was to make something from the site Baking & Boys.

Baking and Boys is a blog managed by the talented Katrina. Katrina has been blogging since Feb, 2008- that means she has been blogging for more than 4 years now. This is how Katrina describes why she started this blog and how it turned out to be what it is today.

I started my blog just thinking I was going to keep my family and friends up-to-date with the boys. I’ve said it before, I just put some cake pictures of Sam’s first birthday party on here and then for some reason my favorite cinnamon rolls. Next thing I knew, this whole wonderful world of food blogging opened up before my eyes. I often say that baking and sharing and blogging are my sanity—which with this house full of boys I often find necessary! Keeps them fed and me sane. Sounds like a good combination. 😉 And here I am, four years later with just noticing yesterday that I now have 400 followers on my blog and 200 “likers” on Facebook.

I am glad she changed from just a daily journal to much more.
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February DB Challenge: Healthier Apple & Pear Walnut Loaf

Thank god for the Daring Bakers’ monthly challenges. Thanks to them I have been forced out of my no-blogging rut.

It has been more than a week since my last blog post. So what had been keeping me so busy?

Nothing.

Nothing of importance actually.

If you remember, I swore I won’t take any of my cooking pictures till I get my pending posts up (which obviously are still pending). And since I have not been taking pictures, I decided to take a break from blogging. It can be like a full time job sometimes- cooking, composing, photographing, cleaning up, post processing, writing, posting and then spreading the blog love. Blogging can be like a full time job (an unpaid full time job). Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy it. It keeps me busy. It gets good food on the table. And it teaches me so much. And thanks to it, I have met some really, really talented people.

But sometimes, you need a break from your job no matter how much you love it. And I needed a break.

I thought I would get my pending posts up, but for four straight days I did not feel like opening my laptop. And that is unprecedented (I can’t live without my laptop- so not feeling like working on it was a very welcomed feeling). I really needed that break. But, now I am back! Thanks to the Daring Bakers’ :)!

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Quick bread is any bread that is quick to make because it doesn’t require kneading or rising time. That’s because the leavener in such a bread is usually baking powder or baking soda, which, when combined with moisture, starts the rising process immediately. In the case of double-acting baking powder, oven heat causes a second burst of rising power. Eggs can also be used to leaven quick breads. This genre includes most biscuits, muffins, popovers and a wide variety of sweet and savory loaf breads.

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Black Bean Burgers/Patties

There are plenty of reasons why I chose to not post for GMT (again) this week.

One, I had my hands on the last of The Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay, and could not put it down till I finished it.

Two, it snowed in our little mining town and it never snows here. Well, almost never. I just did not feel like spending time on the laptop while looking at the snow fall.

Three, I had decided last Sunday that I am taking no more pictures of my food, till I do not post the pile of recipes in my folders on my comp. (Actually I had decided, sometime last week, but broke that resolve to click the Mascarpone Meringue Cake and the Browned Butter cookies). My blogger’s block hasn’t been helping me in getting rid of the backlog, but till the pending recipes aren’t posted I am not clicking any more pictures.

Four, because it was V-day. Not that I celebrate Valentine’s day, but since V day is a play on what I call my husband (V) on the blog, I just found it amusing and thought would take a break for “V”day! And what would you know, on V day, V is the one who gets flowers and a card for me! You would think it would be the other way round. But, no- not in our household. V is the more romantic one. I’m the banal one. But, I can be nice too. I did make his favorite Baingan ka Bharta (roasted and mashed eggplant) for lunch. For dinner, we went out. 🙂

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Garam Masala Tuesdays: Split Green Gram Pancakes

…and a lesson in knowing your “Moong” dal.

When I was in India this time, somebody asked me, why is your blog called the “Novice” Housewife? Going on further to explain that from the pictures and the food I make, it didn’t look like I was a novice.

At that time I took it as a compliment and smiled (reminding myself that when someone pays you a compliment you should always accept it and never protest).

In my mind though, I was saying- of course I am a novice, there is so much I do not know.

This post is a reflection of just that.

How little I know. And how much I need to learn.

(I know this doesn’t sound like a strong case for me giving my “expert” advice on Indian food at GMT!   Yikes!   Anywho….)

The other day, I downloaded a food recipe app- a Nita Mehta iPhone app.

Nita Mehta is like the Ina Garten of Indian food, if I could say so, without offending fans of either of the mentioned parties. Her recipes are quick and mostly great. Like Ina’s.

So anyway, I downloaded the app- its a breakfast recipes app. And looked good. I decided to try her version of Rajasthani Chilla.

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