Peanut Butter – Dragon Fruit Smoothie

The Pretty-in-Pink Smoothie gets it’s vibrant color from Dragon Fruit. This tropical fruit has a subtle sweet flavor that can be described as a cross between a pear, kiwi and watermelon. It’s rich in anti-oxidants, high in fiber and could potentially lower your blood sugar. It can also strengthen your immune system and boost your iron. Combine that with peanut butter which has plenty of protein, high in fiber and good for your bones – and you get a delicious, great-looking and good-for-you smoothie!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen Dragon fruit – cubed
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup almond milk (or cow’s milk)

Blend, pour …..slurp!!


Almond Date Bars

Healthy, nutritious, simple, clean ingredients! With the kids always on the run with school and sports, it’s good to have healthy snack options on hand. I love Larabars and this make-at-home, no-cook option tastes just as good!

Grab it before getting on the bus for school, enjoy it as a before-sport snack or just when those hunger pangs strike.

Servings: 6 bars or smaller, 18 bite-sized squares

Ingredients

  • I cup almonds
  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • Dash of salt

Utensils

  1. Food processor
  2.  7×7 baking tray/pan
  3. Parchment paper to line the baking tray/pan

Instructions:

  • If dates are very dry: Place dates into a heat-safe bowl. Pour a cup of hot water, allowing the dates to soak for 10-15 minutes to soften. Drain the liquid and reserve dates
  • Use a food processor with an s-blade
  • Add the nuts and pulse until the nuts break into very small pieces
  • Add the dates and the salt
  • Pulse until a thick paste forms, scraping the sides, if required
  • Remove the mixture from the processor
  • To shape the bars, press mixture into the baking tray
  • Place the tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
  • Remove from refrigerator, cut into 6 bars, cover and store for when those hunger pangs hit!

SANTA FE Chicken (crock pot/ Ninja Foodi/ Instant pot)

At the end of a busy work day, I am usually too drained to cook a meal. Given that we try to eat low sodium, healthy meals, I’m constantly trying to figure out meals that are quick and easy to put together (easy enough that Nilesh can put it together too ;-)). And the Santa Fe Chicken comes to the rescue – made with corn, black beans, peppers, tomatoes and seasonings – all pantry staples. Put it into the crock pot, and 4 hours later, you’ll have a good, healthy meal. I served it over Cilantro Lime Rice, topped with low fat cheese, Greek yogurt (a great alternative to sour cream), chopped scallions and cilantro – your family will love this and you’ll be making this again!

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (1-1/2 lbs) chicken breast
  • 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 14.5 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 6 fat garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (or cayenne pepper powder), or to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions and minced garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes till the onions soften.
  • Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients.
  • Combine chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, corn, cilantro, poblano pepper, red pepper, half the scallions, cumin, chili powder, and salt in the crock pot / Ninja Foodi/Instant Pot
  • Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
  • For Crock Pot: Cook on high for 4 hours.
  • For Ninja Foodi: Cook with Slow Cook option on high for 4 hours
  • For Instant Pot: Cook with High Pressure option for 25 mins – quick or natural release
  • When cooked, remove chicken and shred
  • Return chicken back to the Slow Cooker/ Foodi/ Instant Pot and stir
  • Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serving hot over cilantro lime rice or with tortillas, with your favorite toppings


Apple Cinnamon pancakes

Pancakes are a kid breakfast favorite. But given how much the kids love it, adding in fruits and limiting the sugary syrup make for a healthy breakfast option. I couldn’t get my pancakes fluffy until I realized it was the fat-free milk. Buttermilk is the trick. The first time I used buttermilk, I was amazed with how fluffy the pancakes became and, the kids said I finally mastered restaurant-grade fluffy pancakes!

Servings: 16 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large-sized red apple, grated
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Method:

  1. Whisk the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder together
  2. Separately, beat eggs, then brown sugar until sugar dissolves
  3. Add buttermilk, vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk for a minute
  4. Whisk the flour mixture into the milk mixture until combined with a few lumps
  5. Add in the grated apple and stir in gently. Avoid over-mixing
  6. Take a tablespoon of butter. Melt into a skillet over medium heats. Drop 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake into the hot skillet. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake and edges are set, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and continue to cook for about a minute until puffed in the center. Transfer to a oven-proof plate and keep warm in the oven while cooking the rest of the pancakes.
  7. Serve plain or with a drizzle of honey


Hummus

When Nilesh thinks of Hummus, it takes him back to his childhood in Dahran where his dad whipped up bowls of hummus that were wiped clean at parties. Even when his parents visit, we leave it to his dad to make the tastiest, most garlicky, finger-licking hummus around.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted red bell pepper (Use only if you want red pepper hummus)
  • 2.5 cups soaked and cooked chick peas / garbanzo beans
  • 0.25 cup tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 0.25 cup lemon juice (usually 1 lemon)
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder

Instructions:

  1. For Roasted Red Peppers:
    1. Move the over rack closer to the broiler, about 6 inches away. Turn broiler over
    2. Remove core of the red peppers and cut into large, flat pieces
    3. Lay flat on an oven tray with skin side up. Broil 5-10 mins until charred
    4. Remove from oven, when cool enough to handle, gently peel away the charred skin and discard
  2. For Hummus:
    1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor
    2. Process of 2-3 minutes
    3. If the hummus is too thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time, until you reach the desired consistency
    4. To serve, put hummus into a bowl, make a little well and add a 1/2 tsp of olive oil, with a sprinkle of red chili power. Serve with pita chips, or vegetables like carrots and cucumbers.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Pita pockets – layer hummus, cooked and diced chicken, tahini, and greens in a pita for healthy pita pocket for school lunches
  2. Serve with cucumbers and carrots
  3. Wraps – layer hummus, long, thin carrot and cucumber slices, greens and deli meat for a school lunch or an on-the-go wrap


Beetroot cutlets (Tikkis)

When my dad mentioned he tried to eat beets daily, I googled the health benefits and found there is an impressive amount of goodness packed into that little vegetable. They are low in calories and a great source of fiber, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium and potassium. According to health.com, your risk of heart disease can drop and you can also lower your blood pressure.

While I typically served beets just boiled with a dash of lime juice, my friend Chaavi made some delicious beet cutlets that I had to make at home. Try it out – it’s as simple as aloo tikkis but with a chockful of nutrients!

Servings: 10 cutlets

Ingredients

  • 2 medium beetroots (grated – about 2 cups)
  • 2 large potatoes – boiled in pressure cooker for 7 whistles, and mashed
  • 1/4 onion – finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp fennel powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin power
  • 1 tbsp dhania powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp aamchur/dry mango powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or 2 slices of bread (white/brown) – soaked in water, squeeze the water out
  • 1/4 cup semolina also know as rava or cream of wheat
  • Oil to fry or optional – bake in air-fryer

Method:

  • Squeeze out the water from the beetroot and then add to a large mixing bowl
  • Mix in the potatoes
  • Add in the remaining ingredients
  • Mix everything well
  • Now shape them into round cutlets or tikkis
  • In a large mixing bowl, first squeeze out pan or pressure cooker, boil both the beetroot and potatoes together with some salt and enough water for 7 to 8 whistles on medium flame. 
  • Drain all the water. Then peel and grate the beetroot in a bowl. 
  • Grate the potato in the same bowl. This is done to get a even smooth mashed potato mix.
  • Add all the spice powders, green chili, salt and corn starch. Instead of corn starch you can also add rice flour or soaked bread slices.
  • Mix everything well with your hands. Now shape them into round cutlets or tikkis.
  • Now, add the semolina to a plate
  • Place each cutlet on the semolina to coat evenly on all sides by the semolina. Dust off any extra semolina

Shallow-fry option

  • In a pan, add in 2 tbsp of oil, and when heated, fry the cutlets in it, flipping over, till it is crisp and golden on all sides
  • To shallow fry on a stove, heat a nonstick pan on medium heat
  • When hot, spray oil and arrange patties in single layer on the pan
  • Continue cooking on medium heat until golden brown at the bottom
  • Spray a little oil on the top of the cutlets and use a spatula, to flip them over
  • Cook until the bottom layer is golden brown
  • Turn off the heat and remove from the pan
  • Serve hot, with a side of mint chutney

Air-fryer option

  • Arrange cutlets on a sheet in a single layer. Spray some oil on the patties. Bake at preheated 350°F for 12 minutes. Flip them upside down halfway for even baking.
  • Serve hot, with a side of mint chutney

Notes

  • Do check the salt in the mixture before coating and frying the tikkis or cutlets.
  • If the beetroot culet does not hold it’s shape or is too soft, add another slice of bread (mashed up) to the mashed beetroot mix


Watermelon Salad

This watermelon salad is the perfect way to cool yourself on a hot summer day. The combination of watermelon, feta cheese, mint and lime juice looks lovely on the table or at a BBQ cookout.

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into fine long slices (optional)
  1. Cut rind from the watermelon, then chop the fruit into 1 inch chunks.
  2. Place chunks into a salad bowl
  3. In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, salt and black pepper. Pour over the watermelon cubes
  4. Combine the mint leaves, feta cheese and onion (if using) with the watermelon
  5. Refrigerate for an hour and serve