Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Enjoying Halloween with a healthy snack

Every year for halloween I decorate the house with scary stuff and buy a lot of candy for the neighbourhood kids. Its so much fun to look at all their costumes and their smiles, after getting candy. Even though most moms wont agree with me, I enjoy giving them candy. While waiting for the kids to knock, we carve pumpkins and I roast the seeds for healthy snacking later.

Showcasing our carving talents

Pumpkin seeds are healthy as they are filled with fiber, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids. They also help lower cholesterol levels. Remember to wash and strain the pumpkin seeds, as this will help remove the fibrous pumpkin flesh. Also eating the pumpkin seeds with the skin on increases its nutritional value.

Pumpkin seeds washed and cleaned, ready to be munched on


Cleaned pumpkin seeds
Chilli powder - as needed
Salt - as needed
Garam masala - as needed
Lime juice - a few teaspoons


Sprinkle the seeds liberally with salt and chilli powder as per taste. Also add a pinch of garam masala. It helps to sprinkle the seeds with masala when the seeds are wet, as the masala sticks to the seeds better. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and distribute the pumpkin seeds evenly. Broil at 500F for a few minutes till it turns golden brown. Remember to toss it few times to allow even cooking. Also keep an eye on it as it can get burnt easily. Remove from oven, sprinkle with lime juice and serve. It can also be stored in an air tight container for a few days.


Monday, October 22, 2007

My Birthday Cake - Chocolate Orange Flourless Cake

Last week during my usual blog hoping I came across this recipe and I liked it. It has chocolate in it and thats more than enough reason for me to fall in love with it. The recipe was pretty simple and easy to prepare. Since it does not use butter I think its healthy too. I wasnt sure how it would turn out and was worried if it would turn out hard, more like a browny as it does not use both butter and flour. On the contrary it was very very moist and fruity.

After the first bite, I thought that it needed more sugar but after a few bites I fell in love with it. It tastes light, moist, fresh, fruity and yummy. For those of you who like your cakes real sweet you can add a ganache frosting or serve it with a creme anglais sauce.

Coming to the reason for this cake, it was my Birthday on Sunday. I wanted to bake my own birthday cake and my husband offered to help. So we decided to bake it together. I followed the recipe as it is from here.

Since I do not have a food processor, we cooked the oranges till they turned soft and blended them coarsely in my blender. It was not clear from the recipe if I had to skin the almonds before powdering, so I decided to powder whole almonds with the skin on(read less work). Be careful while powdering almonds as they can become oily easily. Also the next time I would cut down the cooking time by boiling the oranges in a pressure cooker. I added grated orange rind on top for decoration. I guess it can also be drizzled with white chocolate.

Since it was my birthday, we served the cake with some fresh fruits to make it special. We served it with warm fresh peaches. Heat chopped peaches, sprinkled with sugar in a saucepan till soft. I also added half a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice to the pan. The result was a gooey fruit sauce perect with the orange based cake.

My birthday cake ready to be hogged.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Green Blog Project - Summer 2007 Roundup

It's finally here. The roundup for the Green Blog Project - Summer 2007 event. This was started by Inji pennu of myinjimanga. I read about the Green Blog Project - Summer 2006 event, when I had just started blogging in Aug 2006 and I decided to participate. When I saw the roundup, I was excited to see so many other fellow bloggers growing vegetables and fruits at home and going the organic way. Then Mandira of ahar hosted the Green Blog Project- Winter/Spring 2007 event. Even though it gets pretty cold in Colorado and most veggies dont survive, I decided to grow some herbs indoors and participate. I was surprised to see so many entries at the roundup and realized that there a lot of winter gardeners out there. Both these events were very encouraging and I got good tips and ideas to try new plants this year. So when Inji pennu asked me if I would host this year's event I was more than happy to do so.

Sorry for the delay in posting the roundup. I had 4 of my wisdom teeth extracted 2 weeks ago and developed a dry socket. So was totally drugged with pain killers till the beginning of this week. I am still in pain and eating only mashed food and the dentist thinks it could take up to a month to heal. This roundup was a good deviation for me and I was drooling over all the lovely entries. I hope I get better soon and start trying out these dishes.

This is the first time I am hosting an event so please bear with me if the roundup looks a little messed up. Also I would like to thank my wonderful husband for his constant support and encouragement for my blogging ventures. He helped me a lot with this roundup and gave me feedback, while I was working on this. Without further delay let's start with the entries.

Gini of salt and pepper made Pesto from basil grown at home and served it with cold angel hair pasta for dinner. Also since it does not use the food processor there is less cleaning up required.

Mishmash of kitchenmishmash made Hot Crostini with sweet basil that she grows in her balcony. She has a small herb garden containing mint, sweet basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, rosemary and chillies and calls it her small beautiful green forest. She says that the crostini's tasted fresh and looked colorful and takes only 10min of preparation time.

Then she made Mast Va Khiar (Yogurt cucumber salad - middle eastern style) with mint from her herb garden. She also has a very innovative idea of serving this in cucumber boats.

Rp of myworksh0p made Roasted Potatoes with her new potatoes that she harvested early in the summer. New potatoes are immature, small potatoes and she says that since they have a thin skin they can be cooked with the skin on.

Also she made a quick Sambar with home grown plum tomatoes. She says that growing them is easier than regular tomatoes as one plant yields lots of tomatoes and its also perfect for snacking.

Bubbalili of bubbalili made Masala Morkuzhambu with home grown pepper, tomato, okra, cucumber and green bell pepper. She was very proud to use the bounty of veggies that she harvested and her toddler made a choo choo train with the harvest.

Sridevi of sreelus made Chapathi/Roti Fry with tomatoes, curry leaves and lemon that she grew at home. She gets immense joy to see her saplings grow and fruit and is attached to her plants as they all have a significant story or incident associated with it.

Also, because of the beautiful weather she got a bounty of tomatoes and she made a delicious Tomato Chat Masala. Even though she was skeptical, her plants did survive without her around, for 2 months.

Vee of keeptrying planted some turmeric and called for divine intervention. Her prayers were answered and she made Patholi from fresh turmeric leaves for Nagpanchami. She also has a step-by-step pictorial of making the dish.

Linda of out of the garden made a special Garden Veggie Sambar with tomatoes, brinjal, green beans, okra and summer squash from her backyard. She dedicates the recipe to all the people who offered her advice and encouragement in her quest for a backyard garden.

Bharathi of spicychilly made Curry Leaves Powder with her own plants that survived the scorching summer in Tamil Nadu. Even though most of her plants died she saved her curry leaf plants by watering them twice every day and the shade from the shrubs helped them.

Asha of foodieshope made Tilwali Milijuli Subzi with eggplants, green beans and peppers from her garden. Even though the summer was HOT she managed to grow okra, eggplants, peppers, red and white radishes, amaranth, bottle gourd and cucumbers.

Lissie of salt and spice made Bitter Gourd Thoran from bitter gourds that she planted this year. She harvested pumpkins successfully and that encouraged her to grow bitter gourds and she has been harvesting enough bitter gourds every week to make a dish.

Sharmi of neivedyam made Beans Aloo Subzi from beans grown in pots in her apartment window. She misses her huge garden back home but still managed to grow a variety of plants in her apartment.

She then made Masaledar Bhindi from okra that she grew. She also grows mint and cilantro in her apartment.

She also used the okra to make Bendakaya Perugu Pachadi (okra in yogurt sauce).

With the fresh methi leaves she made Methi Aloo.

Annita of my treasure my pleasure made Cheera Thoran from India cheera (kerala spinach) seeds that she got from her friend. Even though she harvested a small bunch this year she managed to make colorful thoran with it and also has preserved some seeds for next year.

She also made Hariyali Murg with mint leaves from her patio garden.

Richa of as dear as salt made Paneer, Red & Green Bell Pepper in whey gravy, from fresh red and green bell pepper from her own garden. She also grew eggplants, cucumber, tomatoes, cantaloupe and okra in her backyard.

Sunita of sunita's world made Mixed Vegetables from runner beans from her garden. This was part of her daughter's school project and her daughter tended to the bean plant and took good care of it.

Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi had quite a harvest this year. From their blogs I know that they try to eat healthy and organic and the pictures from their garden reflect their hard work. They have 3 big vegetable patches in the garden and grow a variety of vegetables and fruits.

They made a healthy snack and juice from cucumbers.

They made Spring Salad with the different variety of greens (rainbow chard, spinach, pea shoots, romaine and curly red) they grew and with herbs from their garden.

They made Strawberry Ice Cubes with the two varieties of strawberries that they grew. They add the ice cubes to lemonades and drinks or blend them into icecreams or sorbets.

They made Xacuti a Goan dish from fresh cauliflower.

With the cauliflower leaves, Bee made crispy Cauliflower Leaf Pakoras, Cauliflower Leaf and Onion Bhajias and Cauliflower Leaf Spirals.

They made Methi Malai Buns and Valor Muthia Nu Shak with fresh methi leaves.

With the raspberries they made Ridiculously Easy IceCream which takes almost no time to prepare.

It rained radishes in their garden and they made a variety of dishes with radish and radish leaves. They made Radish Coconut Chutney, Mujj Chatin, Mulyachi Koshimbir, Mooli Paratha, Mooli Mouse, Mooli Sabzi with Punjabi Wadi, Sirkewali Mooli, Radish Leaves Bhruji, Mulo Shaak and Radish Leaves Haak.

They made a bold statement with the Taste of Red Fruit Salad that they made with watermelon from their garden.

With peas and pea pods they made Matter Paneer, Risi E Bisi and Pea pod and Mint Soup.

They made Egg Fried Rice with colorful purple spring onions.

The Gentleman Farmer of the duo grew Crookneck Squash and Bee used it as a Pizza topping.

With Colocasia (Arvi/Taro) leaves they made Taro Dal. They say that the leaves are abundant with nutrition.

They made Brussels Sprouts with Lemon-Mustard Sauce with fresh brussels sprouts.

They used the Brussels sprouts leaves to make a tasty Haak.

They made Potato Bhaji with the yukon gold potatoes that they grew. They harvested about 3 pound of potatoes just from one seed potato.

They planted 4 different varieties of tomatoes (Beefsteak, Roma, Cherry tomato and Husky) and harvested a lot of fresh tomatoes. They used both red ripe tomatoes and green ones. They preserved most of their tomatoes to be used later and with the green tomatoes they made Fried Green tomatoes.

They made a Roasted Green Tomato, Poblano and Avocado Salsa using green tomatoes and poblano pepper fresh from their garden.

They used lavender from the two different types of bushes that they have (Munstead and Hidcote) and made their favorite Chocolate Pudding infused with Lavender.

With the okras they made a traditional Rajasthani dish, Besanwale Bhindi.

Hats off to both Jai and Bee for their hard work and detailed gardening posts.

For my part, we have three vegetable patches each 2ft by 4ft in my backyard. Both me and my husband, we enjoy gardening and he helps me a lot with it. We also grow mint, curry leaves, lime in pots so that I can bring them indoors during winter. This year we harvested tomatoes, okra, beans, carrot, radish, spinach and watermelon.

I made Carrot and Mint Rice with fresh carrots from my backyard and mint that I grow in a pot. It was a full meal by itself and I served it with just raitha.

With the radish and spinach I made a Simple Dinner Salad. I use the small leaves from my spinach plant for salads and use the bigger ones in dal or subzi.

After wasting a lot of my radish leaves I found out that they can be consumed. So I made Radish Leaves Poriyal with them just like the way I would make with spinach.

For a change, my husband suggested I try something different with the spinach that we harvested. In fact he helped me search on the net for this recipe and so I made a healthy Spinach Dip and served it with fresh veggies and bread.

I made Sorbet with the watermelon. They were naturally sweet and we ended up eating most of the melons just fresh or making juice out of it.

Padmaja Koti of spicy andhra used her tomatoes to make Green Tomato Chutney and Green Tomato Dal. She gives all credits to her husband and her 6yr old for maintaining a beautiful garden. Her tomatoes survived well when she went on vacation and she says that they are the easiest to start for first time gardeners.

Sheela Preuitt of delectable visuals has a lovely presentation of her garden and veggies that she grows. They had their garden soil tested and accordingly amended it with additional nutrients. They do their own composting and also do not use pesticides and fertilizers and so have organic home grown vegetables.

With eggplants she made Sauteed Eggplant, Ennai Kathrikkai, Thai Red Curry, Godshu and Eggplant Rasavangi.

With greens she made an Ethiopian Meal, Creamy Chards Soup and Chards Masiyal.

With potatoes she made Potatoes Lyonnaise and Swiss Rosti.

With summer squash she made Summer Squash and Eggplant dish.

With raspberries she made Raspberry Chipotle Chicken.

Inji of myinjimanga, the creator of this event has so many wonderful plants in her garden. She grows a lot of tropical plants be it vegetables or fruits or flower and I envy her garden so much.

From fresh mangoes from her mango tree she made Green Mango Chammanthi.

She made Vaazhakoombu Thoran or Banana Flower Fry with banana flower from her very own banana plant.

Indira of Mahanandi made Taro Leaf Dal with the leaves from her Taro plant. She planted a healthy looking taro root and in two months had a young plant with healthy leaves.

That ends the roundup for the Green Blog Project - Summer 2007 event. Hope all you guys enjoyed your gardening experience as much as I did and will continue this effort in the future. The next Green Blog Project - Winter event is going to be hosted by our very own Injipennu, the brain behind this whole idea. I hope like me, all you guys are also looking forward to growing some winter veggies.

Thank you all for participating and please let me know if I have missed any entries.

Note: Updated with rp of myworksh0p's sambar entry and corrected Bharathy of Spicychilly's Curry leaf powder link.