Category Archives: Food and eating

Yummy snack…healthy too!

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Three boys = lots of random snacking. “What can I eat?” is something i hear at all times except at the table when they ought to be asking the question. Especially when i pick them up from school or summer camp they want something interesting to snack on in the car.

I am not a fan of junk food…chip type stuff on a regular basis is a no-no..yet i can only hand out that many apples or carrot sticks 🙂

Anyway, tried out something as I found a lot of white chocolate lying in my fridge. Wondering what to do with it (had bought it to make stuff over christmas but did not use any of it)…i thought i would try and make some healthy-ish snack with it (starting point it after all chocolate).

So basically, in a bowl, i took some rice crispies (had got them from a baking shop earlier), muesli, almond slivers, raisins, pumpkin seeds and some m&m’s i had lying around. Then i took about 180 gm of white chocolate, added a tsp of oil to it and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. took it out, stirred it a little and put in for another 30 on high. that was enough to melt the chocolate. I poured it over the mix (which was about 1 1/2 cups but i had not measure exactly. I realized when i did batch 2 that it is easier to pour the mix into the melted white chocolate and then mix it up well. I then dropped small spoonfuls onto a baking tray lined with butter paper and put it in the fridge to set for 10 minutes.

Super easy and a really delicious snack at the end of it. You can play around with what goes into the mix…kinda like trail mix in white chocolate. The boys and their friends demolished the first lot in the car when i picked them up and asked for another batch…so i have obliged.

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Birthday Party!!!

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Okay…don’t get too excited by the title of the post. This was a super peaceful and low key birthday party. I did not go overboard, did not spend hours prepping and decorating and did not get any clowns or entertainers.

I decided to focus on the reason for the party…our 2 year old bundle of joy. The party was about him and for him…not about all that I wanted to turn his day into. And honestly, I have realized over the years that it takes really simple things to make a child happy. While bouncy castles and jugglers and puppeteers are fun..so are simple thing like just being with your friends and family and playing together. After much thought, I decided that I would plan the party around what Amu likes.

I have this thing for themes…so I figured I would go with that. Amu absolutely loves Eric Carle’s Brown Bear book…he has since he was a little over a year old…and while a lot of the other books have been passing favorites, this is one that he has carried forward even as he has moved on to longer more complex paper back picture books.

The twins thought it would be a fun theme too and so we sat and designed a simple invite that i got printed on photo paper. I take no credit for the idea…it was from the wonderful world of pinterest and google images but basically it had a pic of the brown bear and one of Amu, and it read: Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see? I see a birthday boy looking at me”

Amu bday 2 invite

Going along with the general Eric Carle theme, I painted a canvas with balloons that had HAPPY BIRTHDAY on it. I picked up cute polka dotted plates, cups and napkins from a local party shop and lots of round colourful balloons. That along with 5-6 cloth buntings (made by our company Printed Elephant Designs) gave the room a really festive cheerful feel. It took hardly anytime and I felt like instead of using paper streamers this was faster, easier and really pretty too!

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Snacks were again around what Amu liked…freshly popped corn (popcorn is of of Amu’s all time favs), ragi/nachni crisps with hummus and salsa, pizzas (bought whole wheat pizza bases and made the sauce at home), jello set in individual cups and of course the birthday cake (which this time we ordered from a place called Aubree).

I picked picked out some of Amu’s favorite music CDs, made a big batch of glitter play dough and set it up with a baking tray, rolling pins, silicone cup cake molds, cut up straws to use as candles and bits of colored plastic beading string as sprinkles. In addition to that, we set up blocks, a reading corner and a puzzle mat. My cousin drew outlines of the animals from the Brown Bear book which we kept in the balcony along with little cups that had crayons.

Once the kids came in, they went straight for whatever activity they chose. Since these were all Amu’s school friends, everyone knew each other and they seemed very comfortable. The playdough was a hit…they were all playing with it. A couple of kids sat in the reading corner while another girl focused on the puzzles. Amu waled excitedly round the room on his tiptoes (a sure sign of being happy-excited for him) and showed off his territory to his friends.  Sid and Nish helped collect the presents and put them away inside. They showed the little kids around and tried to engage with them too. it helped having their friend from school there too so that they had one more person in their age group.

The cake was a big success…All the kids stood there excited as we waited for Amu to cut it. The cake had a big brown bear sitting on top and lovely fondant animals from the story all around the sides.

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Popcorn and jello worked really well too.

All in all the kids had a blast and Amu was super happy through the party. It meant less stress and more fun for all of us!

The return presents were these really lovely eric carle style flash cards made by Art for Akanksha! (www.artforakanksha.org)

Healthy dosa recipe!

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This is not an original recipe but something a friend had suggested I try out. It is a healthy breakfast / snack option and all my boys (including the big boy) love it.

you need:

1 cup mixed daals – i use tur, masoor and moon
1 cup oats (quaker or any other instant breakfast oats)
ginger (as per your taste)
cumin powder
green chilly (if you like it spicy)
salt to taste
A little yoghurt / dahi (optional..gives a slightly tangy taste which we like)

Soak the daals in water for about an hour
Soak the oats in a little water for 15 minutes

Grind the daal mixture and then add the soaked oats and remaining ingredients and put it in the mixer to for a coarse paste. You can add water based on how thin you like the batter and how thin or thick you would like your dosas.

Heat some oil on a flat pan or non-stick tawa, put a dollop of batter on and spread it into a large circle. Cook it like you would a regular dosa.

You can eat it plain or with a chutney. For the kiddos I make a simple dip using dahi (yoghurt), salt, a bit of sugar, some red chilli powder and ground peanuts. It is easy to whip up and quite delicious. You can also make it minus the red chilly powder.

Healthy Dosa recipe

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This is not an original recipe but something a friend had suggested I try out. It is a healthy breakfast / snack option and all my boys (including the big boy) love it.

you need:

1 cup mixed daals – i use tur, masoor and moon
1 cup oats (quaker or any other instant breakfast oats)
ginger (as per your taste)
cumin powder
green chilly (if you like it spicy)
salt to taste
A little yoghurt / dahi (optional..gives a slightly tangy taste which we like)

Soak the daals in water for about an hour
Soak the oats in a little water for 15 minutes

Grind the daal mixture and then add the soaked oats and remaining ingredients and put it in the mixer to for a coarse paste. You can add water based on how thin you like the batter and how thin or thick you would like your dosas.

Heat some oil on a flat pan or non-stick tawa, put a dollop of batter on and spread it into a large circle. Cook it like you would a regular dosa.

You can eat it plain or with a chutney. For the kiddos I make a simple dip using dahi (yoghurt), salt, a bit of sugar, some red chilli powder and ground peanuts. It is easy to whip up and quite delicious. You can also make it minus the red chilly powder.

Another recipe…yummy scrumptious (healthy?) cookies!

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My quest for interesting food for the kids led me to another fun and delicious recipe today…actually Nish was flipping through a cookbook and spotted it and we decided to make the cookies.

The cookies are quite unconventional. The recipe calls for rice crispies and chocolate chips and walnuts (optional). I used puffed barley instead of the rice (picked up from a place called Vriksh which is a nice small organic store in our neighborhood). I also tossed in a handful of cranberries for good measure and they only enhanced an already stunning cookie…crunchy, chocolatey with a tinge of tartness from the cranberries and a delicious nuttiness from the roasted pecans (which i used in stead of walnuts). You can pull them out in 10 mins if you like your cookies slightly chewy or leave them for about 14 minutes if your wan them crispy. I did a couple of batches of both!

Here is the original recipe
Crunchy Jumbles (Source: The Complete Book of Baking by Carole Clements)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter at room temp
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
50 gm crisped rice cereal (I used puffed barley that i roasted to make it crisp)
175 gm chocolate chips
50 gm walnuts- optional (i used pecans because i had a few lying around)

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Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcious (350 F)
With an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Sift over the dflour, baking soda and salt and fold in carefully.
Add cereal, choc chips and nuts. Stir to mix well.
Drop spoonfuls of thre mixture onto greased baking sheets and bake until golden. (10 -14 minutes)
Transfer to a rack to cool.

Like i mentioned, i also tossed in some cranberries to cut through the sweet elements! Absolutely yum. Sid wants to eat it again first thing in the morning!

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nice and healthy recipe

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I keep trying to think of interesting snacks for the boys …today i tried ‘frozen chocolate bananas’ (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Frozen-Chocolate-Bananas-240064). Really really simple and the kids enjoyed it quite a bit. And it was really healthy too as they ate a banana each with more relish than they normally do (which is quite a bit anyway). Basically took small “yellaki” bananas, put them onto a popsicle stick, and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. In the meanwhile i melted some chocolate chips with a little butter (the recipe calls for vegetable oil but i used butter), then dipped the bananas into the melted chocolate and put sprinkles on top before putting it back in the freezer for the chocolate to set. 

The boys loved the novelty and enjoyed their “popsicles” in the veranda. Definitely a treat that i recommend! 

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Delicious Cookies!

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Here’s a recipe I found online for the most scrumptious white chocolate cranberry cookies! Like most of the recipes i pick, this one is fairly simple, straightforward, uses easily available ingredients and turns out finger licking good! seriously! 

It smells super divine in the oven and i literally had the twins waiting in the kitchen and drooling as we pulled them out of the oven and let them cool on the rack. Sid could not wait long enough for it to cool completely so he grabbed himself a couple while they were still a little warm and gobbled them down so he could get two more! Nish was a little more civilized and took his in a bowl while the little one crawled all over with two cookies of his own! That, my friends, is the true test of whether something tastes good…really good. Because my very honest children will not think twice about telling me it is too sweet or not crunchy or really not nice at all! 

Sadly…no pictures…just a delicious smelling kitchen and full bellies! 

But here is a link to the recipe. 

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/White-Chocolate-and-Cranberry-Cookies/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

If you feel like baking and want something yum yet not complex…this is it! I baked 2 batches and gave a bunch to some friends as well as a christmas present! The current recipe makes slightly chewy cookies. For the boys i let it stay in 5 minutes longer and got them crunchy…for the remaining ones i stuck to the suggested baking time. You can play around with that piece based on what you like. Oh, and i am thinking that hazelnuts and white chocolate chips might be a delightful variation! 

 

Masterchef 1

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Cooking seems to be such an important activity for the twins. They love being in the kitchen and watching the action. They want to taste stuff, they are curious about what is inside an egg, about what a vegetable smells like…so a few days ago we decided to let them help us with dinner.

Dinner was simple, soup and pizza. we picked up the small sized individual kiddie portion pizzas for them. They watched us make the pizza sauce and identified the ingredients that were going in. (baby amu made off with one tomato in the midst of the action)

Then we turned the oven on and the boys spread the pizza sauce on the bread. Then they put some shredded chicken and topped it off with grated mozzarella cheese. There were other toppings like olives which they tasted and decided against.

Not only were they super excited about helping make their own dinner, they actually polished it all off with no reminders or requests to eat without wasting.

Healthy snacking

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My two year old boys like most kids their age get quite snacky in the evening. I used to give them a cheese singe or banana chips or milkshake or nuts but i think they wanted more variety. So i recently tried giving them veggies with a yoghurt dip. The kids enjoyed it and came back for more. It’s really simple, makes eating veggies fun and is healthy too.

For the veggies i use carrots and cucumbers that i cut into sticks. I often make a beet salad by boiling the beet and if you leave the cucumber in the beet water for a bit the sticks get a nice pink color which my boys love. You can also try other veggies like brocoli if you like.

For the dip i use Amul masti dahi which is nice and thick and creay..i don’t need to hang it. If I cant get the Amul dahi (curds) then i hang the curds in a cheese cloth for a couple of hours.

Chop one small onion very finely. Take 1 tsp freshly finely chopped garlic (can use garlic paste), some chopped coriander, a green chilly cut into 2 big pieces (optional), 1 tbsp mustard. In a bowl take a spoon of olive oil and add the onion, garlic, chilly and a pinch of salt and sugar. Using the back of a spoon mix this well to get the flavors out. Then add the mustard and mix a little more. Add the dahi (curds) and mix it with a spoon. Do not blend it in with a mixer or blender as it might get too watery. If you dont like the texture of small bits of onion in the dip you can blend just the ingredients minus the curds and the chilly and then add the curds in. Chill for a bit.

(As a variation you can add chopped bell peppers or finely chopped dill as well)

I put this on a platter for them and they crunch away on the carrots and cucumbers quite happily.

The dip is also great with salted crackers and chips.

I want chips

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Do you know that a 2 year old has the amazingly remarkable quality of being able to repeat the same thing ad nauseum for as long as it takes till he gets what he wants??? You can temporarily distract him by showing him dump trucks and diggers and excavators and double decker buses…but as soon as you stop for a breath, he starts once again like he had not stopped at all. He goes at this with single minded focus and a deep sense of purpose like his life depended on it…a quality you may never have guessed he possesses if you have ever watched him play with his blocks or crayons or puzzles.  Anyway, he does…and mine gave me a really great demo of it in the car while we were stuck in ridiculous mumbai traffic forever. he wanted chips…”i want chips….i want chips…i want chips…” A never ending monotone droned on in my ear while we spent 25 minutes traversing a road that should have taken 5…with no shops on it to pick up chips from.

Anyway, finally went to a mcdonalds and settled the issue by negotiating some chicken nuggets and fries instead. There was welcome silence while the twins demolished these and licked up the last drop of ketchup and barbecue sauce. “Nice!” my two year old announced. And then as we stepped out and started to walk to the car, he looked me in the eye, smiled and started once again “i want chips!”

(As an aside, i have to tell you that i had a very random experience at mcdonalds…i ordered some minute maid pulpy OJ for the boys because we don’t drink any aerated sodas. It was super diluted and almost tasted like water. Took it back to the counter (it is served in a flimsy plastic cup) and was told i needed to shake it. Really?  A plastic cup like that in a kid’s hand needed to be shaken? So i did just to give it a shot..not much difference. I pointed this out to the guy…i asked him if he wanted to try it for himself. And that’s when he told me that i needed to shake it for every sip!! Probably what one can call an action drink. Anyway, i let it drop – the matter, not the drink…and decided to sit down and watch the boys devour their nuggets.)