The Sugar Free life

Many of us grew up using refined white sugar. Consuming too much of the nutritive sweeteners or sugar grains can result in numerous health issues, which includes diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Nutritive sweeteners provide calories or energy to the diet at about 4 calories per gram. Non-nutritive sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners do not provide calories and will not influence blood sugar levels.

Some of the excellent sugar substitutes are Table Sugar, Sugar Free Gold and Sugar Free Natura. Table Sugar is a natural source of sweetness. It is composed of glucose and fructose. Sugar Free Gold is made from a protein derivative ‘Aspartame’ and is ideal for your tea, coffee and lemon juice as they are 200 times sweeter than sugar. Sugar Free Natura is sucralose, a non-caloric sweetener made from sugar. It is derived from sugar (or sucrose) through a multi-step patented manufacturing process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. This change produces a sweetener that has no calories, yet is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. It tastes like sugar and does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Since sucralose is non-caloric, it adds no calories to any of your foods and beverages. It is not broken down like sucrose and therefore not utilized for energy in the body. It passes rapidly through the body virtually unchanged. Food items made with sucralose. However, may contain calories from the other ingredients that are used to make them.

It has been proved through research and clinical studies that sucralose can be safely consumed by diabetics. It is not recognized by the body as sugar or even as a carbohydrate and is not metabolized by the body for energy. It does not affect blood glucose levels and does not have any effect on blood glucose utilization, carbohydrate metabolism or insulin production. Over 110 safety studies have been done on sucralose. It is absolutely safe to use them and has been approved by WHO,USFDA and FSSAI.

Scientific studies have also shown that sucralose does not promote tooth decay since it does not support the growth of oral bacteria. It is freely soluble in water at both high and low temperatures and therefore, can be used in most food products. It is also heat stable and ideal for cooking and baking without any loss in sweetness. It can be used for making a wide range of desserts and mithais besides being used as a tabletop sweetener like in tea, coffee, lassi and yes can also be used in the making of ice creams.

But yes it does not perform certain actions that sugar does. It lacks the browning, tenderizing and moisture retaining properties provided by table sugar. Moreover, it cannot be caramelized or used to make candies. Certain modifications need to be incorporated while using sucralose. When the recipe calls for beating ingredients like butter, sugar and eggs together you will need to beat the ingredients a bit longer to incorporate enough air into the mixture. With sucralose, you won’t be able to bake as good as done with sugar. Therefore, addition of cocoa or other dark ingredients may be necessary to get the browning effect. Also, ingredients like buttermilk may be needed for moisture retention. Baked goods will get done faster so one will need to check for doneness a bit earlier than the time that a recipe with sugar calls for. Furthermore, these foods will last longer if stored in a refrigerator.

Substitute Sugar Free in your everyday diet and see the difference.

Live healthy, live Sugar Free. I live a Sugar Free life, do you?

Saying Hola from Spain!

Vegetarian Paella in Spain!

Currently in the land of senors and senoritas for work, but in a country like Spain its tough to stick to just work, a little play always follows! What is really great is that while work for me is all about food, even leisure and unwinding leads me to food! This is why I love Spain, there is never a dearth of the flavours, recipes and ingredients in this land. Everytime I visit, I take back home a new food experience! Amidst this plethora of food, there is one dish which shines bright like the pole star. This dish is the mighty Paella! Paella is to Spain what Biryani is to India, only more important. Different versions of this wholesome flavourful rice dish are created and recreated across the country. I have been fortunate to taste authentic Paella as well as some contemporary versions of this dish on this trip. Because I am on a work trip, writing at leisure is not one of the luxuries I have. So, I am quickly going to share with you 2 recipes for Paella.

One is a classic seafood Paella, which is how they make it in Spain. Another one is not really a Paella but a vegetarian spaghetti, that is cooked the Paella way and does live up to the taste of one. Now let me tell you a couple of things about Paella so when you try these recipes they turn out perfect.

  • Paella is a rice based dish. It is cooked a lot like a risotto. It uses short grain variety of rice. Paella is authentically made with Valencian Rice, which comes from a place called Valenciaon the East Coast of Spain. The idea is for the rice to absorb all the flavours of the stock and other ingredients in your Paella pan. Arborio rice is the closest easily available option to make delicious Paella.

  • Traditionally, the meats used in Paella would include snails, chicken, duck and/or rabbit meat. But don’t worry you can make an equally delicious Paella using other more easily available ingredients – it is a freestyle dish! Use sausages, chorizo, chicken, fish, clams, prawns, squid or just vegetables if that’s what suits your liking.

  • While making Paella keep in mind you cover and cook it on low heat. This ensures a crispy crust at the bottom of pan which is called socarrat. Perfect Paella should have a perfect crunchy base. These are the bits that everyone scrambles for in Paella.

  • A Paella pan is called a paellera. If you don’t own one, any 3-4 cm deep, medium-weight non-stick frying pan should do just perfect.

  • Two little ingredients that contribute a lot to the flavours of a Paella are – olive oil and saffron. So, make sure you skip out or compromise on these. Also, make sure the heat is evenly distributed – induction cooktops work great.

                                       CLASSIC SEAFOOD PAELLA

Classic Seafood Paella

Ingredients

200 gms prawns, shelled with tails and head intact and deveined

100 gms clams

3-4 small fish

1½ cups rice, half cooked

3-4 tbsps olive oil

12 garlic cloves, crushed

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, cut into long strips

1 yellow pepper, cut into long strips

Crushed black peppercorns to taste

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 cup fish stock

A few strands of saffron, dissolved in 2 tbsps milk

1 tbsp red chilli flakes

3-4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

10-12 fresh basil leaves

1 cup frozen green peas, soaked

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add garlic and sauté. Add onions and sauté till translucent. Add red and yellow bell pepper and sauté.

  2. Add crushed black peppercorns and mix.

  3. Add prawns, clams, small fish and sauté. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add salt, sugar and tomatoes and mix well. Add rice and mix well. Add fish stock, saffron dissolved in milk and chilli flakes and mix well.

  5. Add 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil. Chop basil leaves and add to the Paella pan.

  6. Add green peas and mix well. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  7. Sprinkle some extra virgin olive oil.

  8. Transfer in a serving plate. Sprinkle some more extra virgin olive oil and serve hot.

                                                                   

                                 SPAGHETTI VEGETABLE PAELLA

Spaghetti Vegetable Paella

Ingredients

200 gms brown spaghetti

1 large potato

¼ large red capsicum

¼ large yellow capsicum

¼ large green capsicum

¼ cup green peas

3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion

1 tbsp chopped garlic

Salt to taste

2 cups vegetable stock

2 medium tomatoes

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chilli powder

Few strands of saffron

1 lemon

Juice of ½ lemon

Method

  1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan. Halve onion, slice horizontally thickly and add to the pan and sauté. Quarter and slice potato and add.

  2. Chop red, yellow and green capsicums.

  3. Add garlic to the pan and mix. Add capsicums, mix and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add green peas and salt and mix.

  4. Break spaghetti into smaller pieces and add to the pan and mix well. Add vegetable stock and mix well.

  5. Slice tomatoes. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a few strands of saffron and mix well.

  6. Add tomatoes but do not mix. Cover and cook.

  7. Cut lemon into thin wedges and remove the seeds and centre pith.

  8. Add juice of ½ lemon and mix, cover and cook till the vegetables and spaghetti are done.

  9. Transfer into a serving dish, garnish with lemon wedges and serve hot.

Hope you guys try these recipes, leave a comment below as its always great to hear from you guys.

Given to a foodie that I am, it makes most sense to end with a Spanish phrase barrigallena, corazon content” which literally means “full stomach happy heart.” 

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Adios Amigos! Till I write again.

Happy Cooking!

Christmas On-goings!

Christmas phenomenon has been around for more than two millennia.  People around the world have been observing it with traditions like exchanging gifts, attending the mid-night mass on 25th December, decorating the Christmas tree, leavingout the chocolate cookies and milk for Santa and last but not the least listening to Uncle John talk about his hernia removal surgery while you are trying to enjoy yourChristmas cake!
Christians celebrate, Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, a piousleading light whose teachings form the basis of the Christian religion. In India, the colonization of British till 1947 lead to percolation of this religion and its teachings amongst certain sect of Indians. Christianity in India is a minority and around 3% of its population observe Christmas. Christmas in India is also known as “bada-din” (the big day).
Christians in India decorate pine or banana or mango trees (this varies from region to region) during Christmas. They also light small oil lamps as decorations and fill their churches with red flowers. They give presents to family members and baksheesh, or charity, to the poor people. In India, the poinsettia is in bloom and so the churches are decorated with this brilliant red flower for the Christmas Midnight Mass. In South India, Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses.
At home families prepare cakes and cookies and traditional regional sweets.  The Midnight Mass precedes the Christmas day when the church resounds with the joyful singing of Christmas carols and thanksgiving.  The Christmas dinner is an important affair, where the whole family sits down together for athanksgiving meal, which includes Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and Roast Chicken or Turkey with all its traditional trimmings and numerous other dishes.
Feasting and merrymaking takes precedence during Christmas. Though each region has its specialties, it is an exciting opportunity to explore the newer possibilities of a sumptuous array of X’mas goodies this Christmas. Prepare these yummy treats suggested and do not forget to share it with your family and the much-loved Uncle John!

Christmas Punch
Christmas Cookies
Christmas Pudding

Greetings from Philadelphia!

Reached here from New York last evening. Good short ride in Amtrak from NYC. Quite an experience!

Yesterday went off very smoothly in New York. Flagged off my promotion tour for the new book How to Cook Indian with a taping for the Rachael Ray show. This is the second time I have demonstrated a recipe on her show. We chose to make Quick Jeera Chicken and the cooking demo was planned very well and was well organized. Also plated were Lahsooni Dhania Murgh, Tandoori Chicken and Tangdi Kabab. From there zipped off for a quick cup of coffee and light conversation with Ms Allison Beck, Editor of Entertaining & Holiday. Had to catch the train at 7.05 and it left on the dot!

In a rush right now as have a taping at 8.30 am. More, later for sure…

Recipes to share with you.

Quick Jeera Chicken

Bhindi ki Kadhi

Pineapple Sheera

Sanjeev Kapoor

FoodFood Press Conference in Delhi

Just settling down in Delhi after a short trip to Agra to attend our team member Chef Sauurabbh Saxena’s wedding. Alyona will be flying down shortly and together we will address the Press Conference with Ms Madhuri Dixit Nene at Hotel Imperial in Connaught Place 4 pm onwards.

The same venue will be the location for a dinner party at 8 pm.

Will write again once back in Mumbai.

Sanjeev Kapoor

The perfect cut

Chopping of food is an art. Food that has been chopped neatly cooks well. And to chop well one needs a good set of knives. In my career I have used hundreds of knives. Sharpness is critical, as also matching the correct knife to a specific job..It is safer to use a sharp knife than to use a blunt knife. Sharp knife would cut ingredients efficiently whereas a blunt knife tends to slip and may result in causing an injury. In case of a cut, apply antiseptic cream or liquid immediately. In absence of any antiseptic, apply turmeric powder it not only acts as an antiseptic but also helps in clotting of the blood.

Here are some tips to give you the cutting edge over others.

When choosing knives, look for sturdy construction, with the handle end of the blade running inside the handle and solidly attached with rivets. Knives with handles made of heat resistant plastic or coated with it, are the easiest to maintain as they do not split. Avoid knives with a space between the handle and the blade, as bacteria may collect there. Knife blade of carbon steel can be sharpened at home a much finer edge than those of stainless steel. However, they are prone to rust, therefore, should be dried thoroughly after washing.

Use a small paring knife for peeling and trimming vegetables. It is easier and faster. You may also use a peeler for the same. Use a heavy, wide blade knife for chopping vegetables, herbs and other ingredients. An 8 inch blade is ideal and is most often used. The side of the blade can be used to flatten sliced meats, to crush garlic and to transfer ingredients from the cutting board to the pan. Use serrated knives for fresh breads, sponge cakes or extra soft vegetables like tomatoes.

Train yourself to do all the cutting on a chopping board. It is much faster and safer. A traditional wooden cutting board also protects the blade. A thick board will not warp with washing. Synthetic chopping boards are also available, make sure they are made with food grade material.

All said and done, food has to go on the table! As it is a weekend, some nice snacks for you….


Stuffed Aloo Tikki
Seyal Dabal
Papdi Pizza

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Cook faster and smarter this August

The major thought that gnaws away at time is the ‘decision’ of what to cook. The hardest part of cooking a meal in not the making but the deciding! Don’t you agree? So let’s take these four steps, a little thought provoking perhaps!

1. Plan the menu! Make a list of meals for the week keeping in mind that the whole family has to be pleased. You want to feed the family healthy meals and make the most of the rupees too.
2. Shop. And shop going by the list. Pick up provisions for extra mouths to feed in case there are unexpected guests. If not used, they can always be incorporated in the following week’s meals.
3. Take a hour or two on an off day or weekend to prepare the masalas, grind the gravies, scrape the coconut, boil the stock, boil the dals, prepare dosa/idli batters etc. and then freeze them in portions. We have no dearth of readymade ginger garlic pastes, tomato purees etc. that can be made use of. We can also make use of precut vegetables once in a while when time is really short. Blanch spinach and keep. The colour is retained and all you have to do is puree it. Some even like to freeze makhni gravy or onion-tomato masala that can be the base for many recipes. I recommend freezing paranthas, tikkis etc. for those absolutely rushed moments.
4. Keep measuring cups in every bin. If you have the cup to measure rice for one family meal kept in the rice bin, keep an appropriate one in the dal tin, and flour bin etc. It helps to cook in the correct quantities and in case you do plan to cook for two meals (so that one can be frozen) then the measurements can be increased proportionately.

This August there is a lot on www.sanjeevkapoor.com. The piece on how to make your counter clutter free is winning many hearts…so are the tips on how to throw a diet friendly party! Do read and send in your inputs! Enjoy the Bread Festival and the Kashmiri recipes…and as for this week’s menu planning, posting three recipes that use fresh seasonal vegetables…

Besanwali Bhindi
Lauki Manpasand
Kachci Makai Dhingri

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.