How do I manage excess cooked food? Freeze or not?

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Freezing food is a good way to have meals on the go! Whether it be leftovers or extra big batches made for future consumption, it is important to know how to store different foods. Here are some steps to make sure that frozen/refrigerated food is safe to eat and the taste is well preserved for your next meal:

      1. Freeze any fresh cooked food only once it cools down and reaches room temperature. You can quicken the cooling process by placing food in a shallow container on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate all around the container. Limiting the depth of food in containers to 2 inches or less leads to quick cooling.
      2. You can refrigerate practically any recipe of fresh cooked food if you are not going to use it for the next 2-3 days. If you plan to use the cooked food within this time, it is perfectly safe to keep it in fridge, it does not need to take up freezer space!
      3. thumb_IMG_0290_1024Store/freeze excess cooked food in small differently sized containers or freezer bags (not storage bags) so that you only reheat/thaw the amount needed for that meal. thumb_IMG_0105_1024

If using freezer bags try to flattened the food into a thin layer. A lumpy or rounded shape takes longer to thaw through to the middle.
Flat packages are also better for stacking in your freezer.

4. If you had to freeze a large container but want to eat a part of it at a time, be careful when refreezing partly thawed food. The thawed food can be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals. Try to reduce the time between thawing and refreezing to ensure that the food to be refrozen does not thaw completely.

Also check- How best to thaw frozen food? and Facts to know with freezing and thawing cooked food.

Guilt Free, Gluten free, no carb Pizza

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GLUTEN FREE, NO CARBS 

QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? 

A similar conventional recipe for a home made flour based pizza base would take considerable time for yeast to work its way. Nutritional benefits of cauliflower and goodness of eggs adds to the dietary value of the pizza base. 

Vegan Option (no eggs, no dairy, no sugar)

For the vegan option replace eggs with chia/flax seeds and almond meal mixed with water. (see recipe below) 

How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

This recipe requires minimum cooking time, you save fuel energy and your precious time. You can also make 2-3 pizza bases with the same oven baking time and save them for future use.

SERVES- 2-3
COOKING TIME
15 minutes for no flour pizza base
20-30 minutes for vegan pizza base
8-10 minutes for pizza toppings

Flour free Pizza (with eggs)

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium sized cauliflower (400 grams)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Red chilli flakes (optional)
1 table spoon dill weed or oregano(optional)
Pizza toppings and cheese to taste

guilt free pizzaSTEPS:
1. Chop/grind cauliflower and squeeze all water out of it.
2. Beat eggs and add all ingredients to it (squeezed cauliflower, salt, chilli flakes and oregano).
3. Spread/pat down the mixture on parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes at 400F or until the base turns lightly brown. It usually take 10 minutes.
4. Add toppings and cheese to the pizza to your taste and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

For Vegan Option:

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium sized cauliflower (400 grams)
3 tablespoons of ground chia or flax seeds
1/2 cup of almond meal
3 to 6 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Red chilli flakes (optional)
1 table spoon dill weed or oregano (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pizza toppings to taste

Preparation For Vegan pizza base:

Mix ground chia or flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and leave for 10 minutes for the mixture to look like thick vegan egg

STEPS:
1. Chop/grind cauliflower and squeeze all water out of it.
2. Add all other ingredients squeezed cauliflower that is chia mix, almond meal, salt, chilli flakes and oregano). You may need to add more water for the mixture to be able to spread like dough, but add as little to make the crust crispy.
3. Spread by patting the mixture on parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes at 400F or until the base is lightly brown.
4. Add toppings to the pizza to your taste and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Spread or spray some olive oil on the pizza just before putting it in the oven. This will make it more crisp and yummy.
2. You can make more than one pizza base as per your choice of thickness of the base and save them when they cool down. Wrap the base in a cling wrap and freeze for future use.

Chickpea Fish or Eggplant with Oats -अमृतसरी मच्छी या बैगुन और ज्वार का पोहा

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GLUTEN FREE

QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? 

A similar conventional fried fish recipe would take considerable oil and time to deep fry the fish. Nutritional benefits of chickpea flour and goodness of veggies in the oats as a side, add to the dietary value and palate. 

How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

This recipe needs only 10 minutes of cooking time, you save fuel energy and your precious time.

SERVES: 3-4
COOKING TIME: 8-10 Minutes
PREPARATION: 10 minutes (Marination)

INGREDIENTS:

For Main Recipe
400 grams fish (or Zucchini/Eggplant for vegetarian option)
1 teaspoon of oil
50 grams frozen or fresh ginger
50 grams of fresh or frozen crushed garlic
cut coriander leaves
2 chopped fresh or frozen green chillies
2 pinches of orange food colour
1 tea spoon of salt
100 grams of chickpea flour

For SIDE
200 grams of rolled oats
2 teaspoon of oil
1/2 cup frozen green chickpeas or peas
1/2 cup of frozen sweet corn
3-4 nuggets of frozen spinach
10-15 craisins
10-15 pieces of pecans
3/4 glass of water

STEPS -Main recipe:
STEP 1. Mix all ingredients except oil and chickpea flour and marinade fish or Zucchini/eggplant pieces with it, leave it for 10 minutes.
STEP 2. Add chickpea flour and oil and smear all pieces well with the flour. before putting them on a non-stick heated pan. Leave it with lid covered on high flame for 2-3 minutes and turn it over once before it is ready (will be a total of 5-6 minutes).
STEP 3. Put all pieces on a non-stick heated pan. Leave it with lid covered on high flame for 2-3 minutes and turn it over once before it is ready (will be a total of 5-6 minutes).

IMG_1154STEPS for side :
STEP 1.
In another pan sauté rolled oats in heated oil for 3 to 4 minutes.
STEP 2. 
Add all ingredients including water. Let it simmer with lid closed for 3-5 minutes.
STEP 3.  
Serve fish with oats.  You can add all spice to oats before serving.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Cooking on high flame with lid covered will leave the fish/zucchini/eggplant juicy and tender while the chickpea flour will make it crisp from outside.
2. Be creative and replace fish/zucchini/eggplant and or marination herbs with your choice of flavour/aroma.

Spicy Sweet Tomato Chutney-खट्टी मीठी टमाटर चटनी

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Why this recipe?

GLUTEN FREE- loaded with vitamins and minerals

QUICK TO MAKE- Takes less than 10 minutes to cook to tingle your taste buds.

This recipe can replace canned and preserved tomato dips/sauces/salsa with a freshly made nutritious accompaniment.

You can be creative -add other ingredients like spring onions, nuts, raisins, berries, mushrooms or green pepper to further enhance flavour.

Cooking Time: 7-10 minutes

Serves- 3-4

INGREDIENTS:

2 big ripe tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of red chilli powder or chilli flakes
1 pinch asafoetida powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 inch of frozen grated ginger or 25 grams of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of oil

STEPS
Step 1. Heat oil, add cumin seeds and hing (asafoetida) and let it brown for 30 seconds.
Step 2. Put all ingredients except garam masala and keep stirring until chutney becomes thick to the density of ketchup.
Step 3. Add garam masala and serve warm or cold.

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Why Spices?

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Spices offer exotic flavours to food, and flavourful food is divine. But spices are not just used to appease our taste.In fact, some spices can be a real boost to the body, and help rid it of toxins. Here are some benefits of spices used in most of my recipes:

1. Turmeric (haldi): Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Arthritis, joint pains, and Alzheimer are some of the known medical problems that turmeric helps in curing. It has been used in India for ages for cosmetic benefits like bringing radiance to skin, curing acne and skin related medical problems.
2. Cloves (laung): Anti-viral, Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, source of many minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids
3. Cumin seeds (jeera): helps remove toxins, helps with digestion, lactation, common cold, diabetes, insomnia, prevents memory loss.
4. Bay leaf (tez patta): boosts immunity, improves nervous system function, protects oral health, regulates body metabolism and prevents blood-related conditions like anemia.
5. Star Anise (chakraphool): antioxidant, rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, copper, and manganese. Has stomachic, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, digestive, expectorant, and stimulant properties. Helps to increase the circulation and oxygenation of body parts.
6. Caraway Seeds (ajwain): improve digestion, reduce constipation, lowers blood cholesterol, reduces bloating, belching, gas and gas pains and improves blood pressure. A source for thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and niacin, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. This is most commonly used as a safe treatment in India for stomach related medical problems for infants and kids.
7. Cardamom (elaichi): Aids in digestion and increased frequency and volume of urination, reduces spasms, lowers blood pressure and increases metabolism. A source of vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, iron, manganese and potassium.
8. Cinnamon (dal chini): Reduces inflammation, eliminates pain and infections, manages diabetes, reduces bloating, belching, gas and gas pains , increases cognitive function, good for bones, prevents cancer and good for the health of eyes and skin.

These are all mild flavoured spices used commonly in an Indian household. All of these are easily available in asian grocery stores all over the world. It is also good to know that they are quite inexpensive.

Spices should be used according to personal preferences/palates and in moderate quantities.

Tandoori Naan in Toaster

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thumb_img_3032_1024 SERVES: 3-4

Quick Light Fresh Baked Bread

COOKING TIME: 5-7 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 
400 grams all purpose flour
400 ml plain yogurt
5-10 drops of oil

STEPS:
thumb_img_3033_1024STEP 1.  Add yogurt to the flour, make dough soft enough that is not sticking to your hands. Take oil on your hand and roll the dough with greased palm to finish. Wrap the dough in wet cloth napkin (water squeezed). Rest the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling into naan.
STEP 2.  Make balls of dough for the size and thickness that you want the naan to be. Roll the balls with pastry roller to make naan.
STEP 3.  Place rolled naan on to heated non-stick pan, turn it around when you see brown dots on one side.
thumb_img_3031_1024Step 4.  Once both sides of the roti have been on the heated pan once, move the naan into the toaster on high setting. Fluffed and crisp tandoori naan will pop out of the toaster.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Keep rolling the dough balls into naan while one is cooking on the pan so that next one is ready as soon as you move the first one into the toaster.
2. Usually a tennis ball size of roll would make a 6-8 inch diameter naan.
3. Due to elasticity of all purpose flour the dough may not be able to be rolled in round shaped naan, they usually come out oblong shaped. This shape fits well into toaster slots.
4. Depending on the size of the slot of your toaster you may want to cut the naan in half before sliding it into the toaster so that all of it bakes well.

 

Tandoori Roti in Toaster

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SERVES: 3-4

Quick Light Fresh Baked Bread

COOKING TIME: 5-7 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 
400 grams whole wheat flour
200 ml water
5-10 drops of oil

STEPS:
STEP 1.  Add water to the flour, make dough soft enough that is not sticking to your hands. Take oil on your hand and roll the dough with greased palm to finish. Rest the dough for at least 15-20 minutes before making roti.
STEP 2.  Make balls of dough for the size and thickness that you want the roti to be. Roll the balls to make roti.
STEP 3.  Place rolled roti on to heated non-stick pan, turn it around when you see brown dots on one side.
Step 4.  Once both sides of the roti have been on the heated pan once, move the roti into the toaster on high setting. Fluffed and crisp tandoori roti will pop out of the toaster.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Add water cautiously to the flour not to make dough too soft. Dough should be hard enough to easily roll the ball with a rolling pin. You can add more dry flour to the dough or give the balls a pat of dry flour on either side before and during rolling it.
2.Keep rolling the dough balls into Roti while one is cooking on the pan so that next one is ready as soon as you move the first one into the toaster.
3.Depending on the size of the the slot of your toaster you may want to cut the roti in half before sliding it into the toaster so that all of it bakes well.