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Cornmeal Pumpkin Anytime Muffins ( No Added Sugar or Butter!)

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins

I know, I know the last couple of recipes have been very indulgent. Creamy chocolate pudding and Dahi- Vada. What can I say, I really love them.

Cheese, whole milk, elaborate process, whisking. This recipe is an exact antidote to that.

One pot prep. Healthy. No added sugar. And Varun approved to boot.

Cornmeal, pumpkin and applesauce come together in these muffins to create a naturally sweetened muffin which is great for breakfast with eggs ( or just coffee), after school snack or with chili for dinner.

It has fiber, good carbs and protein.

And did I say no oil, sugar or butter.

They freeze well in an airtight container and are perfect to be made on weekend when your toddler naps or when he wants to help in the kitchen and you are ok with a little mess.

Microwave when needed for a minute for a healthy snack with a pat of peanut butter or as is.

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons sugar for dusting on top (optional, incase you need things to be a little sweet)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons chopped almonds, walnuts for crunchy topping.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper cups.

2. In the meantime, mix all the dry ingredients ( cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl or a stand mixer.

Dump pumpkin puree, applesauce and egg in the same bowl.

Mix well for couple of minutes ( by hand) or a minute, if using a mixer on low-speed.

3. Scoop the mixture in paper cups.

Dust with sugar. Sprinkle chopped nuts.

4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or frezee for later.

Semi-sweet Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding

The other thing besides Dahi vada, I was craving during last couple of weeks of pregnancy was a good old fashioned pudding. Made from scratch at home with love.

Creamy, chocolately, that leaves a thick drape on back of the spoon that you want to lick.

Puddings are really easy to make. But most recipes call for cream and corn starch; which I never don’t have on hand.

When I am at Whole Foods, I pause at the fresh cream bottles, thinking that I can make a pudding with this today. Those Straus cream bottles are very inviting. In their cute shape, they sit right next to the milk gallons begging to be brought home. And made into pudding.

But at 25% fat ( albeit good fat), I don’t really give into temptation and walk away as quickly as possible.

Recently, I came across a Tyler Florence recipe using whole milk ( which is what we have switched to given the milk powder and other additives in low fat milk), I decided to give it a try.

Low in sugar, this is a healthier version of chocolate pudding that you can otherwise make.

Flour can be used in a pinch as a substitute to cornstarch.

The result was a silky, creamy pudding as rich as the one made with cream.

If you are craving a special treat this weekend, give this a try. You probably have everything you need in your house to make it right now.

Its bound to surprise you with its ease and its taste. And its something you wouldn’t mind your kid indulging in.

Note: 

1. Don’t use fat free or 1% milk for this. The resulting pudding will be thin and you may not like the texture.

2. Don’t skimp on whisking. It will reward with a smooth lump free pudding.

Chocolate Pudding

Semi sweet Chocolate Pudding Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk + 1 table spoon milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 tablespoon flour
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • Vanilla from 1/2 bean, split and scraped ( or 1 teaspoon extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 For garnish 

  • Whipped Cream ( I didn’t use any but sounds delicious)
  • Grated Chocolate
  • Sugar tossed raspberries or strawberries
  1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of the milk, sugar, and the cocoa powder in an saucepan. Bring it to a simmer, over medium-high heat, whisking intermittently to avoid scorching the milk. Remove from the heat and keep aside.
  2. In the meantime, whisk eggs, flour and table spoon of milk, salt and vanilla in a bowl  ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture.
  3. Add a tablespoon of chocolate milk from the saucepan to the eggs. Whisk till incorporated. Repeat with another 2 – 3 tablespoons of milk, adding one tablespoon at a time. This ensures that the eggs don’t get scrambled when added back to the chocolate milk mixture.
  4. Add eggs- milk mixture to the saucepan. Whisk it with the remaining milk and  cook over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly  until pudding comes to a full boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and continue whisking until thick, about 2 or 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour the pudding into 4 ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Garnish with chilled whipped cream, raspberries or strawberries or grated chocolate.

Serve chilled.

Pear Ginger Smoothie

Pear and Ginger Smoothie

I am on a smoothie kick these days. Mostly because they are so easy to make.

Once I have fruits and veggies on hand, it’s just mix and match and then whirl in my Magic bullet. Single container. Easy cleanup. Tasty. And filling.

I learnt recently that home-made smoothies are healthier than juicing as we retain the fiber in the smoothie v/s discarding the pulp. The fiber makes them filling and low glycemic index.

I mean seriously whats not to love.

I saw pear and ginger combination on Pinterest recently. Had it on hand and this came about.

If a recipe can be so-called, then here it is.

P.S. If you are looking for more smoothie inspiration, just check out Pinterest Smoothies board. There are tips and tricks, combinations and beautiful photos.

Pear and Ginger Smoothie

Pear Ginger Smoothie Recipe

  • 1/2 red pear , washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, chilled
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
  • 1/2″  knob of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

1. Swirl everything in the blender till well mixed.

Serve immediately.

Are you on a smoothie kick? Which flavors are your all time favorites???

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

If there is one thing I didn’t know about San Francisco before the move, it is about its extremely fickle weather.

It’s not like Seattle where it can rain anytime. Here it is extreme.The mornings that usually start with a roll of fog or cloud cover, make way for splendid sunny afternoons. Warm enough to be in shorts and sandals. And sunny days can give way to foggy afternoons. Yesterday it was 70 F and today its 48F.So locals tend to dress in layers.

The fog and clouds brings chilly weather and it is perfect for soups.

Pumpkin and sage, chicken noodle or even simple tomato and bell pepper. We had a lovely mussels in sofrito based soup over the weekend for lunch and ended the day with a hearty cauliflower soup.

Creamy, cheesy and healthy. Not something you will see in same sentence. Usually. But its the milk that adds to the natural creaminess of roasted cauliflower here. Sum total being greater than parts.

I have seen pinterest pictures of this being made with colorful cauliflower heads. I made with plain old white one.

Mom was a little skeptical. She is used to standard normal tomato and clear broth soups. For her,vegetables are had stir fried with a little spices. Not with cheese and blended into a soup. This was too much of a paradigm shift for her. But we all loved it.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup Recipe

  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped into florets ( about 2- 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon  + 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Toss cauliflower with spices and olive oil. Lay it in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 – 40 minutes till golden spots begin to appear.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the teaspoon of olive oil. Saute onion in it till cooked for about couple of minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add cauliflower, mint, salt and 2 cups of water. Mix well. Cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the cauliflower soup. Else wait for it to cool a bit and blend in a regular blender. Hot liquids and blenders need to be handled carefully. 
  5. Add milk and cheese. Mix well and cook for another minute.

Serve warm with garlic bread.

A Simple Homemade Dressing

Homemade Salad Dressing

Mom and Dad will be here tomorrow. I will hand over the kitchen to my mom once she is here.It’s the best thing about mom being here 🙂

But it creates a dilemma. My mom’s diet is primarily Indian. She will rarely venture into salad’s.

Vipul is still mainly eating salads. But he cannot will not make dressing.

Even if its a simple act of putting together olive oil and lemon/ balsamic vinegar to conjure up a dressing, it is filled with questions.

How much lemon juice? Is this much olive oil a lot? Should I add pepper? Or garlic? How about fresh herbs? It still doesn’t taste like what we had two nights ago!

I roll my eyes.

Call it a combination of late pregnancy hormones, exhaustion and general 10 years of marriage 😉

Here is a simple homemade dressing , bottled up and kept in the fridge.

No more every day Q & A session on how to make a dressing.

Take it out of the fridge, warm it up in microwave a bit, pour as much or as little, toss and serve.

We have sorted out one thing out.

Now the questions have changed.

Which cheese, which mix-ins, which bowl,… ( Le sigh! I exaggerate for effect ;))

Simple Homemade Dressing Recipe

  • 3/4 cup  Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon Mustard sauce
  • 1 – 1 1/2  tablespoon Garlic finely minced
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bottle. Shake it till mixed through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Pour over salad immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip

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Need I say more?

Dips are something I cannot eat in moderation. Salsa’s and Hummus are ok. They can be had without restraint. Possibly some seven layer dips. But what about the warm cheesy dips? They are inviting and very scrumptious.

In restaurants, I manage to finish the dip as I eat it as is.

So much cheese can’t really be good for anyone in a single serving. But sometimes heart (or rather taste buds) don’t listen to your brain and then next think we know is that the dip bowl is empty! Now satisfaction kicks in. Later regret kicks in.

I needed something that was amazing to taste with no regrets.

That’s where a healthified artichoke Spinach dip came into picture.

Its full of veggies and using less cheese compared to traditional recipes. Thick Yogurt is what gives it extra creaminess and protein without the excess fat.

We topped it with finely diced bell pepper and ate them with veggies ( as well as multi grain toast fingers) for a filling afternoon snack.

It makes about 3 cups of dip and can be made ahead, frozen and then thawed before serving. We have a stash in our freeze for days when the baby arrives and we are hungry for “something fun/interesting”. It tastes yummy even as is out of the fridge.

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Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip Recipe

Makes ~ 3 cups of dip

  • 1 can Artichoke hearts drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water removed
  • 1 cup milk , divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 goat cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper and red onion ( for Garnish)

1.  In a skillet, add artichoke hearts, spinach, 1/2 cup milk, garlic, cumin seeds and paprika. Mix well and let cook for a few minutes on medium-low heat.

2. Stir in the parmesan cheese and let cook for another 2-3 minutes till the cheese melts and is incorporated in the mixture.  Lower the heat if necessary. Once cooked, let cool for a couple of minutes.

3. In the meantime, in a bowl, whip greek yogurt with goat cheese. Set aside.

4. Once the artichoke-spinach mixture is cooled, blend it till desired consistency. I like the dip to be smooth with some chunks of artichoke. Skip this step if you like the dip to be chunky.

5. Add the yogurt – goat cheese mixture to the artichoke mixture. Add salt. Mix well.

6. Top with bell pepper and red onions.

Serve immediately or freeze for later use.

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