Our Veggie Eats

All about the food we eat at home, pack in our lunch boxes, and try everywhere else…. And feel it's blog worthy!

Snack choice

It’s funny how fast kids learn if we find the right way to get the message across. As a matter of choice, I would pack fruit and a snack bar for school snack time. And the fruit would always come back uneaten. I gathered that it was not cool to eat fruit! Lecturing her about healthy choices did not work. And she zoned me out when I talked to her about artificial “something something” in her bar. You know when the look comes into their eyes when they figure that they could just sit there and pretend to hear what mom’s saying! ūüôā¬†Having recognized the look, I asked her to read the ingredients list on the wrapper of her favorite snack. Even though she is just in upper elementary, she quickly realized that most of the ingredients listed were not what we consider FOOD! She now prefers to eat fruit at snack time even though she has a choice. Not to deprive her of all fun eats, I make snacks like these crispy chickpea and rice flour fried noodles at home. It allows for both portion and quality control and most importantly, something unique to share.

To make these mix 2 cups of chick pea flour (besan), 1 cup rice flour, 3t Cayenne or Red chilli powder, 21/2 t salt, a pinch of asafoetida and knead into a firm dough with 1/5 C of clarified butter (ghee), adding enough water. Heat oil on medium heat for deep frying. This dough goes into a press (available at Indian grocery stores) that squeezes out the dough into ribbons. Squeeze the ribbons into the hot oil and fry until the ribbons are golden brown and crisp. Turn the ribbons occassionally to allow for even cooking. Drain the oil and remove to absorbent paper towels. These can be cooled and stored in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks.

Ribbon Noodle Press

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Vegetarian Calzone

Vegetarian Calzone

Every now and then I get a request from my daughter for something Italian in her lunchbox. As she is not picky about veggies, I usually make vegetarian calzones using the Healthy Pizza Dough recipe. The dough is enough to make¬†3-4 calzones. Today’s version has saut√©ed spinach with black olives, garlic, homegrown cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.¬†Making your own pizza dough might seem intimidating at first. A few pointers to get it right.

  • Make sure the yeast you will be using is not past its expiration date.
  • Once opened yeast should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Dissolve sugar in the warm water before adding yeast.
  • Good rule of thumb for adding yeast to correct water temperature is to test by inserting a finger into the warm water. The water should feel hot but not hot enough to make you pull out your finger instantly. This will kill the yeast.
  • Stir the yeast into the¬†sugar solution¬†and let stand for 10-15 minutes. If the yeast is OK, it will be foamy on top. Then the rest of the ingredients can be added to make the dough.
  • It is important to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes to get a nice smooth dough. This makes it easy to stretch or roll the dough out after it proofs.
  • As I don’t own a pizza paddle, I like to transfer the rolled-out dough for pizza or calzone to a baking sheet before adding the toppings.¬†¬†

Hope these tips help if you will be attempting making your own pizza dough for the first time.¬†You’ll have your family and friends saying Bellisimo¬†! Happy cooking!

 

 

 

 

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Lentil and Rice Crepes (Dosa) with Chutney

Dosa with Chutney

Rice and lentil crepes (Indian Dosa)¬†with Chutney are finger licking good and nutritious.¬†Enjoy Indian food with your fingers.¬†Forks and knives just¬†make it difficult to devour one too many of these¬†lovelies!¬†A chance to not worry about polishing our silverware for a change. Just clean hands required ūüėȬ†We love¬†having Dosa for breakfast or snack or even light dinner on lazy evenings.¬†Once the batter is made and fermented it can be refrigerated and used within a week. This makes it easy to eat in on days that you are in no mood to start from scratch.

For the Crepes (Dosa)

Soak 1 cup of Urad dal and 3 1/2 cups of par boiled rice for at least 4 hours. These ingredients are available in any Indian grocery store. Grind to a smooth batter using enough water. Add salt to taste.  Let the batter ferment overnight (or 8 to  10 hours). This gives it a lovely sour dough bread taste. Take a small quantity of the batter and add more water if necessary to adjust to crepe batter consistency. Grease a frying pan (I use cast iron) and heat it on medium flame. Pour a ladle and a half of batter and immediately with the back of the ladle swirl the batter as thin as possible. Use gentle pressure and spread quickly. Add a 1/2 t of oil around the crepe and some on top. Let cook to golden brown. Go around the edges and then flip and let it cook on the other side for a few seconds. Remove and serve hot with Onion and Tomato Chutney. Refrigerate leftover batter to enjoy having Dosa another day!

Tip: If the batter is clumping up before being spread out into a nice thin crepe, either the pan is too hot or the batter too thick. Make sure that the pan is on low to medium heat while spreading the batter. This allows more time to learn the technique. The batter should not be too thick nor too thin. Increase the heat to medium high once the crepe is fully spread out.

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Onion and Tomato Chutney

Onion and Tomato Chutney

Onion and Tomato Chutney is a great accompaniment for Rice and Lentil crepes (Indian Dosa) or as a spread on sandwiches. Sweet and sharp onions, tangy tomatoes, the zing from the ginger, and the heat from the dried red Indian chillies make it a very flavorful chutney.

For the Chutney

Chop 4 medium onions, 2 ripe medium tomatoes and 1 inch piece of ginger. Heat about 1 T of oil in a pan. Season the oil with 2 t mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sputter add 1 t of split urad dal and fry to a golden brown. Add a pinch of asafoetida, 2 dried whole red chillies (Indian) and curry leaves and saute for 10 seconds. Add the ginger and chopped onions and cook on medium flame till the onions become soft and slightly golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes stirring often. Add salt to taste. Let this cool and blend adding a little water if necessary. Serve with Rice and Lentil Crepes (Indian Dosa).

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Making Yogurt

Fresh homemade yogurt

Making yogurt is one of the things I knew growing up. My mom would ask me to swirl a tablespoon of yogurt into milk she had boiled and cooled. Homemade yogurt is awesome for 4 reasons. One, the flavor of simple fresh homemade yogurt is absolutely delicious. Two, it is economical. Three, it is healthy probiotic food. The best reason at number 4, it is easy to make.

Plain yogurt on the side with spicy Indian food is always welcome. My daughter is an adventurous spicy food eater as long as there is a bowl of plain yogurt on the side ;). Blitz with fruits like mango, bananas or strawberries for quick  smoothies.

For making yogurt, boil milk (whole or low-fat). Let it cool to a temperature where if you dip a finger it does not hurt (hot but not too hot). Swirl a little¬†yogurt¬†into the milk (about a tablespoon¬†for 1 litre of¬†milk). Cover with a plate and leave it in a warm place to set.¬†In warm summer months it might set in 6 to 8 hours while in winter it can take¬†longer. I usually leave it overnight to set after starting the process in the evening while preparing dinner.¬†Wrap the bowl with a few kitchen towels for extra insulation. Refrigerate after it is set. Enjoy while it lasts and don’t forget to save a few spoons for the next batch.

Tip 1 : Whole milk gives a nice thick consistency to yogurt. If using low-fat milk, adding a tablespoon of milk powder after it is boiled helps to get thicker yogurt.

Tip 2: Sourness depends on how long the yogurt is left at room temperature after it is set.

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