Seeds of health

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Time and again, I am bought into the idea of super foods that I diligently attempt to include in my family’s everyday diet. I make sure to stock my kitchen pantry with green tea, oatmeal, quinoa, walnuts etc. and my refrigerator with avocado, greens and berries, just to list a few. Off late, the bandwagon is joined by 2 newcomers in the form of seeds

  1. Flax seed
  2. Chia seed

The numerous health benefits that these two ingredients have is quite too often discussed with regard in the food world. Chia seeds, indigenous to South America, are loaded with fiber, protein and Omega -3 fatty acids. They are also high in vitamins and minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorous that are essential for bone health. They are usually grown organically and are naturally free of gluten. Due to high levels of fiber and protein content, these seeds are highly recommended in weight loss programs. They are believed to control high blood pressure as well as blood sugar given their antioxidant property. It is only befitting for ‘Chia’ to mean strength in ancient Mayan.

Flax seeds, believed to be native to Egypt, have omega 3 fatty acids that helps in healthy glowing skin. It is also high in fiber content which helps improve digestive health or remove constipation. Its high anti-oxidant qualities is supposed to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Consumption of flax seed also helps in moderate regulation of blood sugar level. It is believed to fight many types of cancer, including breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer. Its high fiber-low carbohydrate combination is an excellent recipe to combat weight gain. Flax seed is best absorbed in ground form as it is easier to digest.

I find ways to incorporate these ingredients in my everyday meal, by sprinkling a table spoon or two of these to most food items, be it salads, soups, side dishes, dosa batter, chapatti dough or rice dishes. They make for excellent ingredients in baked goodies too. The addition of small quantities of these seeds do not bring a noticeable variation to the taste or texture of food as they do not possess any peculiar smell or taste. These seeds find their way in smoothies, cereals and yogurt on a fairly regular basis. Chia seeds, when soaked, become tiny, slimy globules with interesting texture that qualifies for a perfect condiment in refreshing drinks.

Using these in moderation and discretion is a key reminder to maintain balance of nutrient intake. Anything, including super foods if consumed in excess is rather toxic to the body than beneficial. Add these ingredients in creative ways to your daily cooking to reap full benefits. There is no effort required or time wasted in finding unusual and complicated recipes.

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Chia seeds
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Flax seed powder

My husband’s bulging waistline continues to make a mockery of my culinary efforts. I don’t give up. Like an invincible warrior on a single-minded pursuit, I patiently wait for the day when my seedy adventures proudly stand testimony for a naturally flat belly, not sucked in as seen in photos 🙂

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‘Lemon-Cilantro’ Couscous

Today’s recipe is ‘Lemon-Cilantro’ Couscous. Couscous, pronounced as koos-koos, made its way into my pantry very recently, like about a month ago. Though I had tasted couscous dishes before at friends’ place and parties etc, I hadn’t tried them out of my habit to stick to my routine recipes. Well, finally when I explored the couscous culinary world, it wasn’t a hard shift at all. It is a very bland grain that doesn’t effuse its own strong flavor, just like rice. That makes this grain very versatile in terms of usage, since you can literally make anything with it like pulav, upma, salads, soups, or plain couscous with any side dish. In fact couscous is a type of parboiled semolina pasta, made from durum wheat. It is relatively high in protein and fiber. The whole wheat version is definitely healthier.

Now, going on to the ‘Lemon-Cilantro’ recipe, it is quite similar to the lemon rice recipe, except rice is replaced by couscous:

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Couscous  – 3/4 cup

Water – 1 1/4 cup

Olive oil – 2 table spoon

Cumin – 1 tsp

Mustard – 1/2 tsp

Urad dal – 1 tsp

Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Green chilli – 4

Peanut or cashew – 1/2 cup

Cilantro – 1/2 bunch

Lemon – 1

Salt – 1 1/2 tsp

Sugar – 1/4 tsp

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In a pan, boil water with 1/2 tsp oil and a pinch of salt. Add couscous and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Switch off the stove and let the couscous cool down.

In a heavy-bottom or non-stick pan, add oil. Once it heats, add in mustard,urad dal and cumin. When the mustard splutters, add curry leaves, green chillies and asafoetida. Stir for couple of minutes, add in turmeric and peanuts. Stir for another minute and add the cooked couscous. Sprinkle salt and sugar and mix well. Cover the pan and let the couscous cook in low for about 5 minutes. This helps the flavor of all ingredients seep in. Switch off the stove and add chopped cilantro. Squeeze in the lime and mix well. Serve ‘lemon-cilantro’ couscous while it is still warm.