Red Pepper Chutney

This is an Indian style Red Pepper Chutney that my mother-in-law serves with rice, but it goes wonderfully with idli, dosa and roti. It is also great as a dip and as a sandwich spread. Red bell peppers contain twice the Vitamin C as regular green bell peppers, and are considered potentially cancer-fighting due to the antioxidants in this vibrant colored fruit.

Red Pepper Chutney

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida (hing)
  • 1 Tbsp udad dal
  • 4-6 red chillies (broken in half)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 1 small sprig curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • salt to taste
  • 3 red bell peppers – chopped

1) Heat oil in a wok / kadai on medium flame. Add mustard seeds and wait for it to pop.

2) Add hing, udad dal, red chillies, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves one after the other, waiting a few seconds in between each ingredient.

3) After all ingredients are roasted and the udad dal is golden, add the chopped peppers and salt, and stir fry for 7-10 minutes on medium- high, uncovered, stirring often. (While the peppers must not be raw, it does not have to be overcooked.) Roast well.

4) Turn off stove and allow to cool.

5) Blend ( as fine or coarse as you like – I make my fine) with tamarind paste and adjust salt to taste.

NOTE: The peppers tend to release a lot of moisture while cooking and the udad dal helps bind the chutney together when blended. This is not a paste-like / jelly-like chutney, but more like a dip. If you prefer, you can increase the udad dal quantity.


Carrot Muffins

Delicious and easy. I make these all the time and freeze for a quick breakfast or snack. The key is to not over-mix the dough.

Carrot Muffins (Makes 12)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 medium carrots (grated)

1) Preheat oven to 350* F

2) Sift or run a fork through the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder & soda, salt, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg) to combine well.

3) Combine oil, sugar and eggs on medium with a hand held blender or with a whisk.

4) Gently stir in the carrots and mix well.

5) Add the dry flour mixture to the wet mixture and gently stir until just mixed. Over-mixing will result in denser and tougher muffins.

6) Fill lined muffin-trays  and bake for 25-30 minutes.

NOTE: I sometimes add in 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Stir these in with the carrots before adding the dry ingredients. You will end up with 2-3 more muffins for a total of 14-15. Also note that if you do not have nutmeg and/or mace, you can increase the other spices. I have on occasion used pumpkin pie spice because it was handy. To make this recipe lower in fat and calories, you may substitute 1/2 cup oil with 1/2 cup mashed banana or applesauce.

Eat A Rainbow : 5-a-Day Fruits and Vegetables

Eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetable a day is considered part of a healthy diet. We all know that besides providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber, most vegetable and fruits are low calorie, and more importantly, disease preventing. But I felt overwhelmed with all the confusing and contradictory information available, and wanted something simple and practical to follow at home everyday. Here’s what I found, and I hope the information below helps.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) – a US federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services – website offers some excellent and clear guidelines for healthy diet and lifestyle.

Based on a 2000 calorie diet, 1 serving is any one of the  following:

  • 1 cup raw vegetables / salad greens
  • 1/2 cup berries / sliced fruit
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 4-6 oz juice
  • 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce / salsa
  • medium (tennis ball size) fruit
  • 1/4 cup dry fruit

Use the Fruit & Vegetable Calculator  to figure out how many servings your body needs per day based on gender, age, and level of physical activity.

Handy picture chart of what makes 1 cup of fruit / vegetable.


Small apple Large banana 1 medium grapefruit
1 small apple 1 large banana 1 medium grapefruit
1 large orange 1 medium pear watermelon wedge
1 large orange 1 medium pear 1 small wedge watermelon
2 large plums 8 strawberries 1 large bell pepper
2 large or 3 medium plums 8 large strawberries 1 large bell pepper
1 medium potato 2 large stalks of celery 1 cup cooked greens or 2 cups raw (spinach, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens)
1 medium potato 2 large stalks of celery 1 cup cooked greens or 2 cups raw (spinach, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens)
12 baby carrots 1 large sweet potato 1 large ear of corn
12 baby carrots
(or 2 medium carrots)
1 large sweet potato 1 large ear of corn


Applesauce 16 grapes 1 medium cantaloupe wedge
1 snack container of applesauce (4oz) 16 grapes 1 medium cantaloupe wedge
1/2 medium grapefruit 4 large strawberries 5 broccoli florets
1/2 medium grapefruit 4 large strawberries 5 broccoli florets
6 baby carrots Large plum 1 small box (1/4 cup) of raisins
6 baby carrots 1 large plum 1 small box (1/4 cup) of raisins


Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange had a fantastic, easy to read chart that grouped fruits & veggies by color. I have added portion sizes to each for an easy guide chart. (I am no expert in this area and am learning as I go; if you see anything

I also printed several copies of this chart and taped it to my kitchen board. It’s an easy and  good visual reminder to eat better (and of how much my diet is lacking!!). My 8-year old helps track and color what we eat each day, and I think it’s good to make kids aware of healthy eating habits.

Spicy Quinoa Muffins

After reading a dozen quinoa-muffin recipes online, I decided to try out my own version with an Indian twist. Pulled 2 out from the freezer for my husband’s breakfast this morning, and he said “Hmmm…. I love it!!” He asked to have 2 more after his run this evening 🙂

(Makes 16-18 muffins)

  • 3 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 4 eggs (use 3 if that’s all you have)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese ( I used mozzarella as that’s all I had at home)
  • 1 medium onion (chop fine)
  • 2-3 green chillies (chop fine)
  • few sprigs cilantro (chop fine)
  • salt to taste

1) Heat oven to 325* F. Spray two muffin trays with cooking spray.

2) Gently mix all ingredients till combined.

3) Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way and gently press down. Bake 25-30 mins till set, gently lifting one muffin to check if crust is light golden brown.

NOTE: I put the onion, chillies and cilantro in a small food processor to make it easy. Make sure not to make it too fine as the onions will release more moisture. For easy clean-up, you could line the muffin tin with cupcake liners, but I find that they do not give  crisp golden edges.

MAKE AHEAD: Once cooled, these muffins can be stacked in a freezer bag and frozen for a few weeks. To reheat, cover with a paper towel and place 2 in the microwave for about a minute and let it sit for another minute (time varies according to microwave power).

Spicy Tofu Scramble

Low in fat and high in protein, this is one of the easiest and versatile recipes. This is just one version of how I make it. Use this recipe as a guide to adapt to your taste preference. I like the taste and texture of FIRM tofu, and serve this scramble as is, rolled up in a tortilla, or as the protein on my salad. The yellow color is from turmeric. Used widely in India, this relative of ginger is rich in Curcumin – the disease-preventing anti-inflamatory chemical believed to prevent or alleviate cancers, arthritis, and Alzheimers disease. My mother-in-law uses it everyday with the belief that it has virtually no side effects. Costco sells a really good quality turmeric for under $5 for a large bottle. (Take care not to get it on your clothes – it stains.)

(Serves 5-6)

  • 1 packet Firm tofu – drained & crumbled
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 cups chopped spinach leaf (washed & drained)
  • Salt & Lime/Lemon juice to taste

1) Drain the tofu and place in a colander on top of a large bowl to catch extra liquids. Place a heavy weight (or a pot filled with water) on top of the tofu so it presses down and squeezes out as much liquid as possible. Alternately, place tofu in a colander on a bowl in the refrigerator overnight to drain.

2) Crumble tofu. Finely chop the onions and spinach.

3) Heat 1tsp oil in a pan and saute onions till opaque and soft (or brown them if you like).

4) Add tofu and stir fry till lightly roasted on a medium flame, stirring frequently.

5) Add spices and roast for a minute. Then add spinach and salt, and saute till just wilted. Turn off heat and stir in lemon / lime juice to taste.

NOTE: I have substituted fresh spinach for frozen chopped spinach / kale. The spices and their quantities can be switched to your liking. I make another version with tofu, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, black beans, corn and diced tomato. Again, any of these items can be switched to suit your taste. Roll in a whole-wheat tortilla or stuff in a pita for a sandwich alternative.

MAKE AHEAD: This dish (and its variations) keep well in the fridge for a few days and can be reheated in the microwave.

Baked Strawberry, Banana, Chocolate Oatmeal

Seriously delicious!!!! Left overs were good, and it can be assembled or cooked the night before. I have slightly changed this recipe from the original – you can watch the video at Inspired Taste.

(Serves 8)
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled, 1/2-inch slices
1) Preheat oven to 375°F and spray a 10-1/2 by 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2) Mix oats, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, cinnamon, salt, half the walnuts, half the strawberries and half the chocolate in a large     bowl. (The other half of the strawberries, walnuts and chocolate go on top of the oatmeal).
3) In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract.
4) Add the oat mixture to prepared baking dish. Arrange the remaining strawberries, walnuts, chocolate and sliced banana on the top.
5) Pour the milk mixture evenly and shake the baking dish to distribute it through the oats.
6) Bake 35-40 minutes till mixture is set and the top is golden brown.
NOTE: The original recipes notes that this dish can successfully be prepared without egg. Substitute the milk, nuts, fruit, and chocolate with any variety you prefer. While topping the oatmeal with the sliced berries and banana makes for a pretty presentation, you could also mix all ingredients together to speed up preparation.
(I forgot to place the fruit on the oatmeal before pouring the wet ingredients like the original recipe called, but it still turned out okay.)
MAKE AHEAD: The cooked oatmeal kept well for 2 days and was easily reheated in the microwave.

Savory Spinach and Buttermilk Pancakes

After years of leaving for work with just coffee, I finally got my husband to start eating breakfast. He isn’t a fan of muffins, bagels, pancakes, etc., and would love a hot, spicy Indian dish each morning. NOT HAPPENING!!! Surfing for savory and easy breakfast recipes that I could make ahead took me to Vegetarian Nirvana. These pancakes are eggless, savory, and can be frozen. I have made a few changes to the original recipe and it is a big hit in our family.

(Makes 5-6 pancakes)

  • 1 cup finely chopped baby spinach (tightly packed) – washed & drained
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 pinch nutmeg [optional]
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • ¼ cup fat free cheese (I used crumbled feta) – [optional]
  • Oil/ cooking spray for cooking

1) Measure out baking soda, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chilli powder.

2) Gently mix with buttermilk so it can start its leavening reaction and set aside 2 minutes.

3) Stir in spinach & feta till just incorporated.

4) Gently stir in pancake mix till mixed and no lumps are visible. Do not overmix.

5) Cook 1/4 cup batter on a hot griddle till golden brown like regular pancakes.

NOTE: Cheese is optional. Add any seasoning to adapt to your tastes. My 8-year old love his with ketchup while my teen has his pancakes with spicy Sriracha.

MAKE AHEAD: Cool completely and stack with pieces of wax paper inbetween. Place in a freezer bag and seal after removing all the air. Can be reheated in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Banana-Oatmeal Pancakes

Fitness Magazine featured this recipe in October 2012, and I just had to save it. Using oats, banana and milk overrides the guilt of eating a few pancakes for breakfast on a Saturday morning. Using ripe bananas made them sweet enough to eat without syrup. The recipe is from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin – given how easy and tasty these pancakes were, I’m definitely checking out this book. I made a big batch and froze them for a quick weekday breakfast – see detailed note below for instructions on freezing.

(Makes 8-10 pancakes)

  • 1 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder

1) Puree milk and oats in a blender till smooth.

2) Add bananas, flour, salt, and baking powder and blend for few seconds.

3) Let batter sit for 10 minutes while heating a non-stick skillet. (I use a non-stick electric griddle so I can make 6-7 pancakes at the same time.)

4) Pour 1/4 cup batter and cook till air bubbles appear and underside is golden brown. Flip and cook again.

5) Top with sliced banana, toasted and chopped walnuts, and maple syrup.

NOTE: If you are not vegan, any milk can be substituted. Do not over mix the batter as it will result in flat pancakes.

MAKE AHEAD: I cooled the pancakes on a rack (the first two pictures below are of  savory Spinach & Buttermilk Pancakes – I forgot to take photos of the banana pancakes, but you get the idea) and layered them between pieces of waxed paper. Place in a freezer bag and remove all air before sealing. Once frozen, they can be reheated in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds.

Zucchini Cakes with Feta

I came across this recipe in the Washington Post and immediately clipped it out. I rarely make zucchini at home and wanted to add another vegetable to our diet. These cakes are easy to prepare, it made a great after-school snack,  and I was pleasantly surprised to see my teenage son ask for them at breakfast. No trouble getting my husband and 8-year old to wolf them down either. I used a non-stick electric griddle and could make 8-10 cakes at a time with very little oil.

(Makes 15-18 3inch cakes)

  • 1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Greek Yogurt (for dipping)

1) Toss grated zucchini and salt i a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a sieve, press out the excess liquid, and transfer to a dry bowl.

2) Mix in egg, flour, feta, parsley, onion, dill, and salt. If batter is runny, add some more flour.

3) Heat oil in a griddle and drop batter and spread lightly. Cook till golden about 5 minutes per side.

MAKE AHEAD: Can be made 1 day in advance and rewarmed uncovered on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. I reheated 4-5 at a time in the microwave for 30 seconds and let it rest for a minute.

NOTE: I skipped the parsley, substituted red onions for the green, and increased the dill to 1/4 cup. Since I used a non-stick griddle, I also used very little oil.