November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

This healthy, fulfilling and hearty soup is my favorite. Sometimes I even add squash or winter melon. For For an Indian touch, I fry cumin seeds in 1tsp of oil and garnish it.  Read below for the Health Benefits of Red Peppers and Enjoy!

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
Serves: 4


1 or 2 Carrots
1 Red Pepper
4-5 Medium Tomatoes
1 Small Ginger piece
Salt to Taste
1 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
Fresh Basil, optional

  1. Wash all of the vegetables and cut them into pieces. 
  2. In a pan, cover the vegetables with water.
  3. Add in all of the ingredients. 
  4. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  5. Cover the pan and lower the heat to very low. 
  6. Let it cook for 20 Minutes or until the carrot is tender.
  7. Let it cool down and blend with hand blender until it liquifies.
  8. If you want a smooth texture, run it through a sieve.
  9. Garnish with parsley, cilantro and cracked black pepper.
Nutrition Facts are for Entire Recipe.

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Health Benefits of Red Peppers

  • Red peppers aren’t just tantalizing for your taste buds, these colorful peppers are a rich source of anti-carcinogenic carotenoid called lycopene that is believed to work against prostate cancer as well as cancer of the bladder, cervix and pancreas. Beta-cryptoxanthin, another carotenoid in red peppers is being held as a potential source of fighting against lung cancer.
  • Did you know that eating red peppers actually helps in losing weight? Red peppers contain substances that are believed to increase body’s heat production and oxygen consumption after eating that assists in burning calories and losing weight.
  • Red peppers are an excellent source of essential vitamins such as vitamin A & E. Vitamin A  is known to be good for vision, bone growth, immune function, cell function and skin health. Vitamin E helps prevent cell damage, cancer and heart disease.
  • Red pepper is also a rich source of vitamin C that helps strengthen your immune system. This is important in preventing infections as well as some cancers. It also helps increase iron absorption by your body.  High antioxidant levels contained in red pepper is known to lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Red bell pepper has 3g fiber, which helps to prevent colon and aids in digestive health, heart health and diabetes.
  • Red peppers also contain vitamin B6 that helps in brain functioning and aids the body to convert protein into energy. It is also a rich source of Vitamin B that aids in healthy metabolism, immune function, and cell growth and may help relieve symptoms caused by stress, depression and heart disease.
  • Red pepper contains Folate aids that is vital for brain health and fights heart disease. It is also necessary for blood cell formation, growth and prevention of liver disease. It is also believed to play a huge part in preventing birth defects.
  • Red pepper is an excellent source of potassium that aids in proper electrolytic functions and keeps the brain, heart, kidney and muscle tissues in good condition. It also reduces the risk of stroke and softens the effects of salt on blood pressure.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Masur Pullav - Lentil Biryani

One of my friends makes this dish in a very special way with an authentic flair. I have adopted the simple version.  The recipe uses lentils which are full of valuable nutrition like protein, iron, and B Vitamins.  They also help with lowering your risk of heart disease, stabilizing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol.  Detailed Health Benefits follow the recipe.

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8


1    Cup Lentils
1 & 1/2 Cups Rice
2    Medium Tomatoes, cubed
1    Medium Onion
2    Cloves Garlic, minced
Small Ginger, grated
2    Tsp Coriander & Cumin Powder
 1/4 Tsp Turmeric
Salt to Taste
1    Tsp Chili Powder
Few Saffron Strands
2    TBsp Oil

  1. Wash lentils thoroughly. 
  2. Soak lentils for a couple of hours. 
  3. Soak rice for half an hour.
  4. In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté onion, garlic and tomatoes. 
  5. Add in the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Add lentils and let them cook for 10 minutes. Do not over cook lentils. Set them aside.
  7. Prepare rice with a little salt.  Set rice aside.
  8. Now in a flat glass pan, layer lentils at the bottom and add layer of cooked rice on top.
  9. Repeat by adding another layer and then another.
  10. I usually top it with saffron. You can add butter, clear butter of ghee but this will add more calories, also. Bake for 20 minutes at about 200º. 
  • To use Saffron in a proper way, I warm it up for 10 seconds in a glass container in the microwave so that the moisture is dried out. Make a powder with a pestle. You can also add a few drops of milk.

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Health Benefits of Lentils

Lentils are low in calories and high in nutrition. Eating them at least once a week is a great way to add the health benefits of these tasty legumes to your diet.

Heart Health
Studies have found that people who eat high fiber legumes like lentils have a much reduced risk of heart disease. The high levels of folate and magnesium in lentils also go a long way in protecting the heart.

Stabilize Blood Sugar
Due to their high fiber content, lentils help in regulating blood sugar by providing steady, slow-burning energy and balancing blood sugar levels.

High in Iron
Lentils are loaded with iron and are a great way to replenish the body's iron stores, especially for people who don't eat red meat like vegans and vegetarians.

B Vitamins
Lentils are a great source of B vitamins, most notably folate and niacin (B3). B vitamins are important for the healthy functioning of the nervous, digestive, and immune systems.

Lower Cholesterol
Lentils are a great cholesterol lowering food due to their high levels of fiber.

Protein Packed
Protein makes up 26% of the calories in lentils and they have the third highest level of protein than any other plant food. It's no wonder that they're a staple in many parts of the world.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Masala Chickpeas- Chole

Masala chickpeas

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4
Recipe Type: Gluten Free, Vegan, Anti-Oxidants


1    Can Chickpeas
1    Medium Onions, minced
1    Medium Tomatoes, chopped
Green Chili
Salt to taste
Ginger to taste
Garlic to taste
1    Tbsp Coriander & Cumin Powder
2    Tsp Oil
1/4 Tsp Chili Powder
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1    Tsp Anardana or Pomegranate Seed Powder optional


  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan.  
  2. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté them for a few minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and the rest of the spices.
  4. Wash chick peas thoroughly and add to the spices.
  5. Let it simmer for few minutes.
  6. Garnish with cilantro, green chili and onion rinds.


  • Chole goes very well with rice, bread and specially with Naan.
  • If I use a can of Chickpeas, I wash the Chickpeas thoroughly. Boil Chickpeas in a separate pan with water and one tea bag for 4-5 minutes.  This makes the Chickpeas very tasty.
  • If I have more time I soak dried Chickpeas and Channa Dal for 2-3 hours, add a tea bag and pressure cook the Chickpeas.
  • Black-eyed Beans can be used with the same ingredients in a similar manner.
  • This is famous in Samosa Chaat and Chutneys.
  • One of my favorite North Indian foods. I love it.

Approximately half a single serving size.

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Health Benefits of Chickpeas


Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) provide an excellent source of molybdenum.  They are a very good source of folic acid, fiber, and manganese. They are also a good source of protein, as well as minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium. As a good source of fiber, garbanzo beans can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels.  This makes them a great food especially for diabetics and insulin-resistant individuals. When served with high quality grains, garbanzo beans are an extremely-low-fat, complete protein food.  

Garbanzo beans contain molybdenum which is a trace mineral that is needed for the body's mechanism to detoxify sulfites. Sulfites are a preservative commonly found in wine, luncheon meats, and fresh salad in most salad bars. Sulfite-sensitive individuals who are deficient in molybdenum may experience headaches, a racing heartbeat, or confusion.  

Caution:  Garbanzo beans can cause a severe allergic reaction in those who are sensitive to them.  They contain purines which can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. Excess accumulation of uric acid may contribute to health problems, such as gout and kidney stones. Garbanzo beans also contain large amounts of oxalate. Individuals who have a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over consuming them.  


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Split Pigeon Peas - Toor Dal

This dal is must all over India. It is the basic staple for both the rich and poor. This is one of the greatest sources of protein in our diet.

Cooking Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4-6


1    Cup Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas)
4    Cups Water 
Ghee or Oil
1/4 Tsp Turmeric
1    Tsp Mustard and Cumin Seeds
Salt to taste
1/4 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Small Piece of Ginger
1    Small Green Chili
2    TBsp Sugar or Jaggry or Gur
1    Tbsp Lemon Juice
1    Small Tomato, cubed
Few Curry Leaves
Few Peanuts

How to Prepare:
  1. Wash dal thoroughly.
  2. Bring to a boil in a pot and when it's done, use a hand blender to blend it smoothly.
  3. Return to pot and bring to a boil on medium heat, add spices and sugar and lemon juice, ginger chili and cut tomatoes.
  4. Now in a very small pan add oil or ghee of your choice. When it is heated, add cumin and mustard seeds. It will start popping. Add a little astofedia and turmeric.
  5. Add this mixture from the small pan on top of the dal. It is also called chok or vaghar.
  6. Garnish with cilantro.

Tips: Sugar and lemon juice goes together. It is totally up to personal taste. Hope you will like it!

Single Serving Size

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Health Benefits of The Split Pigeon Pea


Pigeon Pea cures cough, poisoning effect, gas troubles, acidity, stomach pain and piles. It makes a balanced human food, quells swelling of internal organs and with water it cures intoxicating effects. It is useful in the treatment of internal organ swelling. Some herbal practitioners/researchers are of the opinion that it diminishes the swelling of internal organs like stomach, liver, intestines etc. In case of wound or cancer of these organs it is helpful in reducing them.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Okra Sabji

Okra is a very healthy vegetable.  It is also known as "lady finger" or "gumbo."  It is a highly nutritious pod vegetable that is grown in the tropical and warm regions of the world.  The plant bears many dark green pods 2-6 inches in length.  It is used a lot in Southern cooking here in the United States and in India it is also very popular, as in this recipe for Okra Sabji. 

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3

1    Lb. Okra, washed, dried & cut
Salt to taste
1    Tsp Cumin Powder
1    Tsp Corriander Powder
1/2 Tsp Chili Powder
3    TBsp Olive Oil
1    Pinch Astofedia (optional)

  1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil on low.
  2. Add the okra and stir fry for couple of minutes.
  3. Add the spices and sauté for 2-3 minutes, untill the color changes.
  4. When finished, pour into a bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes.
  5. If you wish, add dry mango powder or lemon juice for taste.
  6. It is great with rice and tortillas or naan.
Tips: Okra has to be washed and dried properly with a cloth.

Serving Size is for 1/5 of recipe.

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Health benefits of Okra

  • Very low in calories, provides just 30 cal per 100 g and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; but is a rich source of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins; recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  • The rich fiber and mucilaginous content in Okra pods helps smooth peristalsis of digested food particles and relieve constipation condition.
  • The pods contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta carotenes, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the green vegetable with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Fresh pods are good source of folates; provide about 22% of RDA per 100 g. Consumption of foods rich in folates, especially during pre-conception period helps decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in the offspring.
  • The pods are also an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C; provides about 36% of daily recommended levels. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps body develop immunity against infectious agents, reduce episodes of cold and cough and protects body from harmful free radicals.
  • The veggies are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. The pods also contain good amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a co-factor for blood clotting enzymes and is required for strengthening of bones.
  • The pods are also good source of many important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.