Monday, May 14, 2018

Carrot Cake With Raisins And Orange Zest

Carrot Cake With Raisins And Orange Zest 

I have always enjoyed using seasonal fruits in my cakes. The Orange Cake recipe that I had shared with you last year is a huge hit in my family. I wanted to make another simple orange cake before the orange season ended. Of course, this year the orange season just doesn't seem to be getting over. Malta oranges are still available in some places. But I admit they do not have the tangy taste that is so typical of them.  But imagine my joy at discovering this carrot cake recipe which used not just orange juice but also the zest. If you've seen my previous posts you will realize that I like to use almost the entire fruit or vegetable to obtain maximum nutritional benefits. The skin and the layer just below the skin, the pith and seeds are loaded with nutrients and is usually the most nutritious bit. 
And of course, I don't have to keep reminding you that I replace refined flour and sugar with wholewheat flour or any healthy flour and powdered jaggery. Coconut sugar is another option although a slightly expensive one. All the ingredients used in my dishes are healthy and wholesome. One can be assured that they are eating healthy. That's the biggest advantage of cooking at home. So here we go with the preparation of the cake

Wholewheat flour – 1 cup
Custard powder (vanilla) – 2 tbsp
Egg – 2
Jaggery powder – 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda – ½ tsp
Orange zest – 2 tbsp
Carrot (grated) – ¾ cup
Orange juice – 2 tbsp
Coconut oil – ¼ cup
Salt – ¼ tsp
Cinnamon powder – ¼ tsp
Raisins - 1/4 cup
Milk – ¼ cup (add accordingly to adjust consistency of batter)

Mix dry ingredients well
Beat the eggs
Mix orange juice and beat again
Add oil and blend well
Add the dry mix to it gradually using cut and fold method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes

Enjoy this as a healthy snack with your cup of tea or coffee or just any time with the goodness of carrots, oranges and jaggery.

Note: Refrigerate leftovers especially in this heat. It tends to go bad after a day.

Orange Zest
Orange zest is the brightly coloured outer part of the peel. It contains the essential oils responsible for the orange fragrance and flavor. Orange peel also includes the zest, so it can provide the same orange flavor that you get from the zest; however, it also includes the white pith. The pith can be bitter. Orange zest provides the flavor without any risk of bitterness from the pith.

Health Benefits Of Orange Zest
Lowers high blood pressure and cholesterol
Has anti-cancer effects
Contains considerable amounts of calcium, copper, magnesium, vitamin A, folate and other B vitamins
Contains dietary fiber

Health Benefits of Carrots

Antioxidant rich
Fibre rich

Health Benefits of Jaggery
Excellent source of iron
Cleanses the liver
Prevents premenstrual syndrome
Has antioxidants - zinc and selenium which boost immunity

Friday, May 11, 2018

Potato Tuna Bake

Potato Tuna Bake

Potatoes (medium) - 2
Tuna (steamed and cut shredded) - 1 cup
Cheese (I used Parmesan) - 1/4 cup
Black pepper (freshly crushed) - 1 tbsp (can add more or less)
Pesto Sauce - 2 tbsp
Milk - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste  

Parboil potatoes
Cool and slice them with the skin on
Steam the fish fillet
Layer potato slices 
Spread pesto sauce over it
Sprinkle crushed pepper
Layer tuna pieces
Cover with a layer of potato
Pour milk over this
Sprinkle grated cheese on top
Bake at 160 degree C for about 12 to 15 mins  

Health Benefits
Heart Friendly
Lowers Blood Pressure
Immune System booster
Weight Loss
Strengthens Bones
Skin Health
Provides Energy

Nearly half your daily value of vitamin C
More potassium than a banana
A good source of vitamin B6
Fiber, magnesium and antioxidants
Resistant starch

Resistant Starch

This type of starch is called Resistant Starch. It works like soluble, fermentable fiber. When the bacteria in our digestive system digest resistant starches, they form several compounds, including gases and short-chain fatty acids, especially a beneficial fatty acid called Butyrate. Resistant Starch appears to increase butyrate production more when compared with other soluble fibers.
Butyrate is the preferred energy source of the cells lining the colon. Butyrate has beneficial effects on the colon and overall health. It maintains the colon lining and is believed to prevent colon cancer. It also helps to increase metabolism, decrease inflammation and improve stress resistance.

Potential benefits of Resistant Starch

Improved blood fats
May help to lower blood cholesterol and fats while also decreasing the production of new fat cells
Can increase the amount of fat we utilize for energy.

Better Satiety
Can help us feel full by triggering the release of hormones that reduce the drive to eat. After someone starts eating more RS, it may take up to one year for gut hormones to adapt.
Slows down the amount of nutrients released into the bloodstream, which stabilizes appetite

Better Insulin Sensitivity
It doesn’t digest into blood sugar, so less insulin release
Lowered blood sugar levels
Might improve insulin sensitivity

Improved Digestion
May help alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, constipation and ulcerative colitis
Can add bulk and water to stool, helping in regular bowel movements
Can prevent development of abnormal bacterial cells in the colon and enhance mineral absorption (especially calcium).

Better Body Composition
Since Resistant Starch has less energy (calories) per gram than other starches, it can help us eat less.
Improved immunity
Can influence the production of immune cells

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Oh To Be Back In The Gym!!!

Oh To Be Back In The Gym!!!

What a feeling! Especially for a hard-core gymmer to hit the gym again after 2 months. This 2-month absence from the gym was a self-imposed exile (not for any medical reason. I would have rather died!).
And yes, this is also my comeback article. I know I’ve not written anything for a while now. I’ve been posting a lot of healthy, tasty tried out recipes and kept my blog alive.  
There were lots of ideas floating around in my head (the problem was there were just too many and I had a tough time zeroing in on one). Then it was also partly a hectic schedule and part procrastination. And of course, I was busy cooking also.

Way To Start

Anyway, so here I am writing about something very close to my heart. Secretly I wondered if I would end up with aches and pain on the first day of gymming after 2 months. I targeted my back muscles on the first day. It’s customary to start my week with a Back and Biceps workout schedule. It just struck me that I had forgotten my bicep workout. I only did Back yesterday. Slow and steady is the way to go.
Today was abs and core strengthening. I could feel a slight stiffness in my upper arms but they vanished when I did my stretches at the end of the session. Yayyy, it’s not difficult for a seasoned gymmer to get back. Touchwood.
In these 2 months, I had been very active. Training my clients rigorously with thrice a week jogging or brisk walking thrown in. Plus my diet consultation. And then there was the bank work and other official stuff that one keeps postponing endlessly. Suddenly I had time to do it all. So it was a busy 2 months.
In these 2 months, I enjoyed my solo morning jogs and walks in the park. It brought me in touch with a different side of me. Being a nature lover, I could have been lured into continuing with this fitness schedule. But experience makes us wiser. 


A few years ago, I had fallen into this trap. After years of gymming, I thought I needed a break from gym. This is courtesy those self-proclaimed fitness gurus who give gyaan like one should not stick to just gym and a whole lot of nonsense like that. Of course, I wasn’t a Fitness Professional then... so didn’t realise the stupidity of their words. I lulled myself into alternate days jogging and brisk walking. That year, I fell sick so often - Malaria, viral fever, stomach infection, some strange throat infection and fever that kept coming back with the slightest provocation. Not once did I attribute this to my ‘no gymming phase’. Looking back, I’m sure it was.
Cut to the present. Once bitten twice shy. So I knew I had to get back to the gym sometime soon. In this 2 month period, I admit that I felt a bit fragile. I experienced few aches and pains in my body a month after I had stopped gymming. This worried me. I knew I had to get back.
So now I’m back and already experiencing the highs of exercising.  While jogging and walking is important nothing can replace resistance training. For those who do intense yoga using their body weight, this works. For the others who love to pump iron, weight training is the way to go.

Only Cardio

I often see people walking or jogging. I wonder if this is all they do for their fitness. Over the years, I’ve seen people who’ve been doing their morning walks or jogs regularly. Some of them, mark my words, are in good shape. The others, over the years, have either bloated up because their knees don’t permit them to walk or jog with the same intensity as before, or look too tired and weak to walk with the same intensity as before.
Point is, by just jogging or running, we are only causing wear and tear of our tendons and ligaments. Worse, if the diet is not up to the mark, there’s also muscle loss. Research shows that not only can weight lifting improve your body composition and give you a toned appearance; it can also improve your overall health and make you a happier person. Weightlifting can help you burn fat, reduce your risk of diabetes, prevent back pain and even help you fight depression. 

Read on to find out all the benefits of weightlifting:

Muscle Fights Fat

Type II muscle fibres, the kind you build when you lift weights, improve your metabolism. An increase in type II muscle fibres can reduce body fat and might be effective in the fight against obesity.

Fight osteoporosis

As you age, you naturally lose muscle and bone mass. This is of special concern for women, whose bones can become dangerously weakened by age. Weightlifting can help fight this. Just as your muscles adapt to the stress of weightlifting by becoming bigger and stronger, your bones also adapt. Any time your bones perceive stress, the response is - more bone will be deposited.

Lowers your risk of diabetes

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that those who lifted weights - about five 30-minute sessions per week - had a 34 per cent lower risk of diabetes. Adding regular cardiovascular exercise slashed the risk by 59 per cent. According to a study published on the Nature Medicine website in April 2013, weight training encourages the growth of white muscle, which aids in lowering blood glucose because it uses glucose for energy. Red muscle, which uses fat oxidation to generate energy, is more prevalent in endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, while white muscle is abundant in weightlifters and sprinters.

Better heart health

45 minutes of moderate-intensity strength training decreased blood pressure by 20 percent - a benefit equal to or surpassing that of taking anti-hypertensive drugs. The blood flow improving effects of resistance exercise persisted for about 30 minutes after the end of a training session and continued for as long as 24 hours in people who trained regularly - 30 to 45 minutes a few times a week.

Prevents back pain

Weightlifting strengthen your core muscles which provide support to the spine

It Will Make You mentally stronger

When you feel stronger physically, you usually feel stronger mentally. Weightlifting teaches you the skill of perseverance, the ability to overcome discomfort and challenge yourself.

You will look and feel better

Weightlifting is the best way to get a lean, toned, fit body - for both men and women. Do all the cardio you want, but without some form of resistance training to challenge the muscles, you will never get those toned muscles in all the right places, the ones that shape your body.

Note: Day 2 - Legs Day
I was hard-pressed for time. It was a rushed 45-minute workout. But did it feel good!!
That will be my next blog.  

I survived the first week of gymming after a break with a few muscle aches and pains which gradually disappeared by the end of the week.

2nd week
Today was the start of the 2nd week. I could lift better and little heavier. I think I'm almost getting back to my old form. Touchwood. But this is the advantage that years of gymming gives you. It takes us shorter time to bounce back after a break. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Watermelon Rind Magic

Watermelon Rind Magic

Watermelon, like the cucumber, is edible, including the green skin and the white parts that usually end up in the bin. Watermelon rind might be less flavorful but nutritionally, they are no garbage. 
Actually the rinds might just be the most nutritionally loaded part of a melon.
Watermelon juice contains Citrulline, an amino acid and natural antioxidant. This is found more in the skin and rind than the red pulp.
Citrulline converts to Arginine, which is vital to the heart and improves circulation
Citrulline can help boost blood flow and some reports suggest it can help treat impotence. It has also been shown to help athletes reduce muscle soreness.
We always used the rind to make dosas and idlis. Then gradually I came across a lot more interesting recipes. I tried them out and they all tasted awesome. The kheer and halwa is a great hit in my house. So get on with it. Pull out your ladles and pans and get started on a new health trip. Forget about counting calories. Watch your portion size, meal timings and the placement of food items at different times of the day.


The kheer lover will lick this up!

Watermelon rind (grated) – 1 cup
Milk – 1 cup (can add more)
Milk powder -  2 to 4 tbsp
Jaggery powder – ¾ cup
Broken Cashewnuts – 2 tbsp
Raisins – 2 tbsp
Salt – a pinch
Ghee – 1 tsp

Heat ghee in a pan
Saute the rind in it for 2 to 3 mins
Add milk and cook it for about 10 mins till soft
Add milk powder and mix well
Remove from heat and cool
Add jaggery powder (increase or decrease according to taste)
Add the nuts and raisins and mix well
Serve chilled


I don't have to say anything about this one. After this, I don't enjoy dudhi and gajar halwa any more. This has got too much fibre that makes me feel good


Watermelon rind (grated) – 1 cup
Milk – ½ to 1 cup
Milk powder - 3 to 4 tbsp
Jaggery powder – ¾ cup
Broken Cashewnuts – 2 tbsp
Raisins – 2 tbsp
Salt – a pinch
Ghee – 2 tbsp


Heat milk
Add the rind. Cover and cook for about 10 mins till soft
Add milk powder and mix well
Keep stirring till the mixture becomes dry
Add jaggery powder (increase or decrease according to taste) and mix well
Add the nuts and raisins and mix well
Add ghee. Keep stirring the mixture on slow flame for about 10 mins till well roasted
Serve hot


This is an instant and very versatile chutney. Goes with everything from bhakris and mathri to even idlis and dosa, especially when the dosas are slightly sweetened. 

Watermelon rind (grated) – 1 cup
Coconut oil – 1 to 1½  tbsp
Red Chilies – 2 or 3
Hing – ¼ tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red Chili powder – 1 tsp (vary according to taste)
jeera – 1 tsp
Jaggery powder - 1/4 cup
salt - to taste

Heat oil in a pan
Add jeera, hing, ginger-garlic paste and the red chilies 
Add the grated rind, salt and chili powder and fry for about 5 mins
Add little water, cover and cook for about 15 mins till it is just tender
Add jaggery powder and mix well on low flame
Keep mixing and cooking on low flame till the mixture becomes dry and oil leaves the sides
Cool and store in the refrigerator for about a week   

If looks could kill!

Watermelon rind - 1 cup
Jaggery powder - 4 tbsp
Orange zest - 2 tbsp (heaped) 
juice of a quarter of a lemon
Cinnamon stick - 1

Remove the green parts off the rind  and cut 
Add  enough boiling water to submerge them 
Cool and store in the frig overnight
Drain off the water reserving about 1/2 cup water
Bring it to a boil over medium heat
Lower the heat and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes
Add the jaggery powder and stir till it dissolves
Add the cinnamon, orange peel and lemon juice and cook on low heat
Stir the mix occasionally for an hour over very low heat keeping the vessel partially covered (add water if you feel the fluid is drying up before the watermelon rind is cooked through. It is cooked through when it turns translucent).
Gradually the liquid will thicken and deepen in color


You can't take away the idli from a south Indian

Rice – 1 cup (1/2 cup each brown and white rice)
Udad dal – 2 tbsp  cup
Rice flakes – ½ cup
Methi seeds – 1 tsp
Jaggery powder – 1 tsp
Watermelon rind – 1 or ¾ cup as required for grinding
Wash and soak dal and rice together
Soak rice flakes in water 10 mins before grinding
Make a thick batter
Let it ferment for 5 to 6 hrs
Make small thick pancake like dosas


Nothing like a healthy dosa breakfast

Rice – 1 cup (1/2 cup each brown and white rice)
Udad dal – 2 tbsp  cup
Rice flakes – ½ cup
Methi seeds – 1 tsp
Jaggery powder – 1 tsp
Watermelon rind – 1 or ¾ cup as required for grinding

Wash and soak dal and rice together
Soak rice flakes in water 10 mins before grinding
Make a thick batter
Let it ferment for 5 to 6 hrs
Make small thick pancake like dosas

You don't need a reason to eat this. An any-time bite

Watermelon rind (only the white part) – 1 cup
Apple Cider vinegar and White vinegar (I used red wine vinegar) – ¼ cup each
Jaggery powder – ¼ cup
Cinnamon – 2 pcs
Cloves – ¼ tsp

Cut the rind into pieces
Soak in brine overnight
Next day, drain it and wash in water
Drain again
Combine the rest of the ingredients and boil for 5 mins
Add rind and cook for about 20 mins till it is translucent
Cool and pack rind in glass bottles
Add some of the liquid


It's just too healthy. So indulge!

Watermelon rind - 1 cup
Green and red capsicum - 1/2 cup
Carrots - 1/4 cup
(All veggies to be cut into thin long strips)
Balsamic vinegar - 11/2 tbsp

Mix all the veggies
Add balsamic vinegar and mix slowly
Serve cold 


A healthy variation to the usual pulao

Brown rice (cooked) - 1/2 cup
Watermelon rind (pieces) -  1 cup
Green peas - 1/2 cup
Capsicum (red and green) - 1/2 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Oil or ghee - 1 tbsp
Mixed garam masala (whole) - 1 piece each

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil
Add the whole spices
Add vegetables and little salt
Cook till the veggies are just tender
Heat 1/2 tbsp oil
Saute the capsicum
Add cooked veggies and mix well
Add brown rice and mix carefully
Serve with curd and curry of your choice

A sure-shot winner in this heat

Watermelon rind (small pieces) -  1 cup
Mango pieces - 1/2 cup
Dates – 3 or 4
Water - 1/4 or 1/2 cup
Blend them all in a mixie
Serve chilled

Enjoy it guilt-free with a cup of tea or coffee for breakfast or a 5 pm snack

Watermelon rind (grated) - 1 cup
Besan - 1/2 cup (Quantity of besan and oats will vary slightly depending on the moisture content of the rind)
Oats - 1/2 cup
Green chilies - 2
Fresh coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Combine grated rind with all the ingredients
Coat an appe pan with little oil
Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into each cavity
Cover the pan
pour a drop of oil on each fritter and flip it over
Let it cook till crisp 

You can't go wrong with this

Watermelon rind (grated) - 1 cup
Wholewheat flour - 1 cup (Quantity will vary depending on the moisture content of the rind)
Green chilies and garlic (crushed) - 2 tbsp
Fresh coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Combine grated rind with all the ingredients except flour
Add flour gradually to form a dough
Let it rest for 10 mins
Roll out to make paranthas
Fry with little ghee on either sides till crisp
Serve hot with a bowl of fresh curds for breakfast 

Goes really well with steamed brown rice, dal and fresh curds. My comfort food!

Watermelon rind (pieces) – 1 cup
Ginger – garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) – ½ tsp
Methi seeds – ½ tsp
Hing – ¼ to  ½ tsp
Green chilies (slit) – 2
Red chili powder – 1 to 2 tsp
Turmeric powder (haldi) – ¼ tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves (for garnish) – 1 tbsp

Heat oil
Add jeera and methi seeds
When they splutter add ginger– garlic paste, hing and green chilies
Add the rind and mix well
Add salt and chili powder according to taste
Add little water and cook on medium heat for about 20 mins till done
Garnish with coriander leaves