Vegetable sago
Sago is widely used as a "fasting food" especially in North India. This recipe is slightly different and quite tasty - something I would love for a change, although I've not found any particularly appealing information on health benefits as such from sago.


Ingredients:

sago - 1/2 cup
potato - 1
peas+carrots(diced) - 3/4 cup (cooked with a little salt)
roasted crushed peanut - 1/4 cup
green chillies - 3 (adjust according to taste)
broken cashewnuts - 1 tbsp
oil - 2 tsp
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
black gram - 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - a twig
coriander leaves - a few (chopped)
turmeric powder - a pinch
salt - 3/4 tsp (adjust according to taste)
lemon juice - 1 tbsp

Method:

Soak sago until soft. Drain on a kitchen towel and keep aside. Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Heat a teaspoon of oil. Fry potato pieces with a little salt and keep aside. Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram and cashewnuts. When the mustard seeds start spluttering and cashews start turning light brown, add green chillies and curry leaves. Add sago, cooked carrots+peas, turmeric powder and salt. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add fried potatoes and broken peanuts and fry for a minute. Mix in the lemon juice and top with chopped coriander leaves.

Notes:
Soaking time will vary depending on the sago - if it is instant sago, just wash and drain. If it is the hard sago, it needs to be soaked for a few hours, preferably in warm water so that it soaks faster. (Do not use hot water).
Roasted red pepper snack with cream cheese topping
The first thing I need when I get home after a long day's work is a light snack. Needless to say, a person starving for a snack wouldn't have a lot of time or energy to prepare it. If it is a healthy one, that is definitely an added bonus. Most of my evening bites are sweet, but there are times when I need something salty and spicy. This is an adaptation from a delightful appetizer by the American Heart Association.


Ingredients:

red bell pepper - 1
flavored or fat-free cream cheese - 4 oz.
powdered almonds - 3 tbsp
ground pepper - 1/2 tsp
sliced almonds - 1 tbsp
oi - 1 tsp
salt to taste

Method:

Cut red pepper into 1 inch squares. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add sliced red peppers and stir fry with a pinch of salt and ground pepper for a couple of minutes. Leave it on for a few minutes. Remove from fire when the peppers just start getting grilled, while they and still crisp. Arrange on a serving plate.

Mix cream cheese with almond powder and beat until combined. Place cream cheese mixture in a piping bag
or cake decorator. Run it imaginatively on each pepper slice. Decorate with sliced almonds.
Creamed Spinach
A versatile, simple, easy, healthy and delicious dish, I could enjoy the creamed spinach any time! It can be made ahead, especially to be used as a filling later, but I prefer making it fresh, as it can be made in minutes.


Ingredients: (makes about half cup)

spinach - 5 oz (about 150 grams)
cream cheese - 2 oz
mozzarella cheese - 2 tbsp
parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp
salt to taste

Method:

Boil the spinach, cool it and pulse coarsely in a food processor. Mix in the cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, cayenne pepper and half the parmesan cheese. Stir on low heat until cheese melts and the mixture is creamy. Add a little salt if necessary. Mix well and serve as a side-dish or use as a filling.
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