Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grilled pita sadwich with sauteed spinach and potatoes

Pita bread is one of my favorite flat breads. I try to have it in the freezer most of the time to put together an easy sandwich.After trying out Meena's Aloo palak for the tried & tasted event, I wanted to use that as a filling for pita sandwich. Here's the recipe for a quick grilled pita sandwich:


1 whole wheat pita bread - sliced into 2 halves
1 tbs Hummus(I had roasted red pepper hummus)
2 tbs shredded cheese (pepper jack or cheddar)
1 cup sauteed Spinach with Potatoes(Recipe


1.Take one half of the pita bread and spread one side with hummus.
2. Spread the cheese on top of the hummus and fill with spinach and potato mixture.
3.Keep it in a panini grill and let it cook until the cheese melts.
4. Serve warm with any spicy sauce. (I used Masala ketchup)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tried & Tasted - Aloo Palak (Potato 'n Spinach)

This week has been pretty busy for me as I had some final interviews for my MBA admission.Hope to hear some positive news soon. Coming weeks are going to be even busier with the summer vacation for my daughter and her summer camps/classes etc., ..and our India trip.. I can't wait to see how Chennai has changed.. I'm excited about taking my daughter to the places where I had been as a child..will be interesting to see her reaction...

This month's Tried & Tasted event is hosted by Jean of Kits Chow. Jean has chosen Meena's Hooked on Heat as the blog of the month.I have visited Meena's site many a times since I was introduced to food blogs and love her recipes. I chose to try the aloo palak from her recipe collections. I decided to use it as a filler for my pita sandwich. you can also eat it just as it is. A quick healthy salad ready in under 30 minutes and it tastes great..

Here's the recipe:

2 large bunches of spinach,chopped
1 large potato, sliced into thin wedges
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste


1. Heat oil in a deep non-stick wok and saute cumin and coriander seeds with garlic and onions till fragrant.
2. Add in spices and fry for a few seconds.
3.Throw in potatoes, season with salt and fry for a few minutes till partly done.
4.Add in spinach, and stir fry till it starts to wilt and potatoes are cooked through. Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spinach and Split yellow mung beans (dal) soup

Mung dal is favorite in our household and I try to use it atleast every other day. It is a great source of protein and has good fiber content too. When you buy this dal from the Indian store, you roast it a little bit and then store it to extend it's shelf life.

I am trying to use leafy greens as much as possible in my cooking. Spinach is the most common leafy green I get and I try different kinds of recipes with that. Here's our all time favorite soup recipe using spinach and mung dal from The art of Indian Vegeterian Cooking. This recipe is slightly modified from what you see in the book.

Servings: 5 or 6


1 cup split yellow mung beans(dal) - can be substituted with split green peas
1 cup fresh spinsch,washed,trimmed and coarsely chopped or 1/2 pkt of frozen spinach
5 cups water
3 green chillis
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Cumin(jeera) powder
1 tbs minced fresh ginger root
1 tbs ghee or canola oil
1 ts cumin(jeera) seeds
1/4 ts asofetida
1/2 tbs lemon juice
salt to taste


1. Wash and drain the mung dal. If using frozen spinach, defrost it at room temperature,place it in strainer and press out all excess water.
2. Place the mung dal, water,turmeric,jeera powder,ginger root,green chillis and a dab of ghee or oil in a heavy non-stick suacepan.Strring occasionally, bring to a full boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low,cover with a tight-fitting lid and gently boil for 1 hour or until the dal is soft.
Alternatively, you can pressure cook the dal to save time. Combine all the ingredients in a 6-quart/liter pressure cooker, cover and cook for about 25 minutes under pressure. Remove from the heat and let the pressure drop by itself.
3.Off the heat, uncover and add the salt.Beat with a whire whisk or rotary beater until the dal soup is creamy smooth.Add the fresh spinach,cover and boil gently for 5-8 minutes more or cook frozen spinach for 2-3 minutes.
4. Heat the ghee or oil in a small sauce pan.When it is hot, pur in the cumin seeds and fry until they are brown.Add the asofetida and fry 1-2 seconds more. Then quickly pour the fried seasonings into the soup. Cover immediately. Let the seasonings soak into the hot dalfor 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon juice,stir and serve.

I am sending this recipe to the RCI: Jain Cuisine event hosted by PJ from Seduce your Tastebuds. Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine started the RCI events and she has been letting fellow bloggers host the event every month.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Healthy eating habits for kids

I always look for ways to introduce and practice healthy eating habits for my daughter. I was a chubby kid when I was in elementary school and I am worried that my daughter may have gotten my gene. I feel that it's my duty to teach her to make healthy eating choices and be physically active. I found Dr.Susan's kids-only Weight Loss Guide book in our library during my last visit. I liked reading it and thought of sharing some useful points from her book.

According to Dr.Susan, there are three simple steps that you must take with your child down the path towards healthy eating. Those are

Step one: Help your child make healthier choices.

Step two: Teach your child to eat smaller portions.

Step three: Make sure your child eats enough and isn't deprived of foods she loves.

For step one, you have teach your child about main food groups. You can use USDA's food group pyramid. Once your child learns about different food groups and their nutritional values, you can all sit together and take a look at the food your child is eating. List down all the meals and snacks your child is eating regularly and see if you can find healthier substitutions for them. Dr. Susan has given a list of great substitutions for the food that children like. Here are some :

French Toast : For the batter, use fat-free or low-fat milk and use 100% whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Give your child just a little syrup for flavor.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich: Use all natural peanut butter(read the label to make sure peanuts are the only ingredients),100% whole-wheat bread and real fruit jam instead of jelly.

Breakfast Cereal: Mix your child's favorite sugary cereal with a low sugar cereal(e.g., Honey nut cheerios mixed with Total or Frosted flakes mixed with bran flakes) and use low-fat or fat-free milk.

Pizza: A slice of veggie pizza is actually quite a well balanced meal for a child- it has protein,veggies and carbs. You can special order and ask for less cheese. Pair pizza with seltzer or water rather than soda.If you can convince your child to eat a salad along with it, you have got a great meal.

Potato Chips: Try replacing it with low-sodium pretzels,salted air-popped popcorn or couple of rice cakes.

Glazed donuts: Try donut hole, handful of jelly beans,a lollipop or a cup of caramel popcorn.

Large scoop of ice cream: Instead offer a small frozen yogurt or sorbet or a smaller scoop of ice cream.

Here's the food diagram for a vegeterian kid:

Now for step two, the child has to understand what a serving is and how many servings of a certain food group is needed everyday. Dr. Susan gives a list of serving sizes for common food items:

1. A serving of cooked pasta,rice,fruit,cereal or cooked vegetables is equal to an adult or teen's closed fist or a child's slightly open fist or a baseball.(about one cup).

2. A serving of cold cereal is two handfuls(about a cup).Teach your child to use the same size bowl every morning. Use a measuring cup once or twice to see where the cereal should measure up to in the bowl. Then your child will be able to pour a healthy portion of cereal each morning without help.Instead of a second bowl of cereal, offer a piece of fruit.

3.A serving of butter,margarine,cream cheese or mayonnaise is equal to the tip of your thumb to the first joint(about one tablespoon). Keep this in mind when you are making sandwiches for your child.

4.A serving of peanut butter if the size of a golf or ping pong ball(about two tablespoons).

5.A serving of waffle or pancake is equal to a CD(in circumference).

6.A serving of french fries is TEN fries.

7.A serving of chips or pretzels about Fourteen.

8.A serving of cheese is one string cheese, or it's the size of an adult's index finger or the shape of an index card(sliced cheese).

This book is really good and will be very useful for people who want to teach healthy eating habits to kids. Try reading it when you get a chance.