There’s goodness in my soup!

Half of 2010 gets done today. It seems like yesterday that we were all wishing our friends some good wishes for the new 2010! Anyway, time to take stock and see where we are and where we want to reach and then change tracks or pick up speed if on the right track!

Taking stock also reminds me something little that we do at home in the rainy season. Keep a stock of food and essential pulses, masalas, tins and milk in tetrapacks. Never know when you need them on a rainy day. We also enjoy a variety of soups in the rainy season. They need not be hot, can be cold – something like Gazpacho.

Secret of a good soup is its foundation – a good stock. Thin soups in general are lower in nutritive content as compared to thick soups. Chicken sweet corn and green pea soups are especially valuable for their protein content. A bowl of spinach soup provides one third of an adult’s daily iron requirements. So if it is protein you are looking for try chicken, fish, egg, meat, lentils and beans as main ingredients in your soup. If you are wanting a vitamin and mineral rich soup make soups using vegetables like spinach, celery, carrot, peas, sprouts, cabbage and lettuce. South Indian rasam and saaru, the saar from Maharashtra and the osaman from Gujarat are light soups. Not only are they low in calories but are also a good source of vitamins and minerals.

A mixed vegetable soup is a clever way of giving vegetables to your young fusspots. It not only has vegetables but also the goodness of wheat flour and milk. As it is fibre rich it is good for the elders in the house too. Serve it with wheat and soya breadsticks and rest assured there will be no leftovers!

Cold soups are incredibly healthy form of soups, basically served chilled or at room temperature and they are as good as hot ones in terms of nutrition, taste and flavour. Just that one has to develop a taste to relish the subtle taste steeped in the cold soups while preparing them. There are simple tips which when followed would yield elegant and delicious cold soups.

  • Use fresh and ripe ingredients for brilliant results.Heavily season cold soups than hot ones, because the cold temperatures lessen the spice taste.
  • The soup can be served immediately, or you can cover and chill it so the flavours blend. For a colder soup that’s ready instantly, replace some of the liquid with crushed ice.
  • At the same time, the longer the soup sits in the refrigerator, the spicier it will taste. Four to ten hours is the optimal chilling time.
  • Before serving, chill the serving bowl and the individual soup bowls or mugs. Place them in the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes. And if using fine crystal ones, place in refrigerator for twenty to thirty minutes.

So are your soup spoons ready?

Chicken and Prawn Laksa
Cream of Vegetable Soup with Spinach
Dal Soup with Tomato

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Drive away the monsoon blues

How better to spend a wet monsoon day than with a cup of hot tea accompanied by a plateful of hot and crispy bhajias? Tempting though this may be it is not very healthy especially during this season when out digestive systems are not at their best. But an occasional indulgence in these goodies is definitely called for.

I do not want to shatter the enjoyable dream of having bhajias on a rainy day, but to be on the safe side I will give you ideas that can work not only for pleasure of the palate but also will not make the digestive system work hard. I agree that pakoras, dal wadas, batata wadas, besan toast, medu wadas are the most favoured in this season. The fact is that deep fried things satisfy the palate deeply especially because the hunger pangs work overtime. But no amount of draining the fried goodies on absorbent paper can work to decrease the calories in the food. So here are some alternatives that might please you.

You can have dhoklas made with fermented batters in a variety of combinations. They are healthy and when tempered lightly with oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame give a fulfilling texture that pleases the palate. You can have these with green chutney or with sweet tamarind chutney or the ubiquitous tomato ketchup.

Dosas and uttappams are great too specially when you have them hot from the tawas. Top uttappams with onions or cashewnuts or tomatoes even with sev – they not whet your visual appetite they fill up your stomachs too. Hot sambhar and coconut chutney pep them up further.

Corn on the cob is a favourite monsoon snack. Have them roasted over (if possible) coal fire or even on the gas flame and sprinkled with herbs and spices. Or just boil the kernels, mix them with chopped onions and chopped tomatoes sprinkled with chaat masala and lemon juice.

Another favourite and wholesome snack could be ragda pattice or chole tikki. Top them with chutneys and chopped onions – they are absolute tongue ticklers.

You can always round off with a cup of hot masala tea or even a cup of hot milk lightly flavoured with dry ginger powder.

Given here are some snacks that would work wonders and drive away those monsoon blues in no time.

Baked Potato Wedges
Fresh Mini Pita with Hummus
Olive Upma

Make them, serve them, have them and simply enjoy!

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Food wisdom

It is certainly not easy to help kids to develop a healthy relationship with food. The habits that the child develops in the early years will have an effect on his health. And with childhood obesity on the rise it is absolutely necessary that they develop the right habits as otherwise it can endanger their health in the coming years. From diabetes to high cholesterol, children are facing health issues now that were once thought to be strictly adult problems.

Buy healthy foods – Kids will eat what’s in the kitchen; so stock the fridge with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Praise healthy choices and ignore unhealthy ones – Let your kid know that they’ve taken a positive step by choosing healthy food. When they pick unhealthy food, offer some healthier alternatives to try to help them to choose more wisely.

Don’t use food as a reward – Try physical rewards instead, like a cricket match or a visit to a swimming pool. Eat dinner together – Eating regularly as a family can help children develop better eating habits. Make these meals even better by serving healthy portions in the kitchen, rather than bringing the serving dishes to the table. Your kids will learn about healthy portion sizes and how much food is enough. Don’t limit foods – Doing so raises the chance that your child may develop eating disorders. Limiting food can harm your child’s growth and development. Get feedback – Find out what healthy foods are your kids favorites. Serve those more often and cut back on the foods they don’t like. Talk to your pediatrician – If you think your child has a weight problem, the first step should be to consult the doctor.

And so with all these tips I will definitely give you some kid friendly but healthy recipes.

Rice flour and Spring Onion Cheelay
Pasta in Creole Sauce
Waffles with Honeyed Bananas

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.