Sumac Hummus

Hummus is my best friend on a lazy day (and all days). It is delicious, satisfying, healthy and versatile. In a pinch, it makes for the perfect kid lunch, slathered into a pita pocket with some chopped avocado thrown in. A large dollop with oven-roasted potatoes and sautéed greens makes for a very happy dinner and my son and his friends love dipping veggie sticks into it for a snack! I like it best on its own straight from the fridge, it's creaminess deceiving me into thinking I'm enjoying a forbidden treat. 

Packed with plant-based protein, good-for-you fats, iron, zinc, potassium, B vitamins like folate and gut-friendly fibre, this creamy classic from the Middle East can be yours to lap up in less than minutes. It's tempting to buy but ridiculously easy to make and even more delicious in its DIY version. 

Without further ado, let's get blending. 

RECIPE

Sumac Hummus
Baby, Toddler, Kid, Adult


Ingredients
1 15 oz can cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tahini (white sesame paste)
Juice of one lemon
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon plus a few extra pinches salt (skip for babies)
5 tablespoons cold water
Large pinch sumac (or cumin and paprika powders)

Method
Bled all the ingredients except the sumac (or cumin and paprika) until smooth, adding a splash more cold water if necessary to achieve a creamy texture. Check the salt and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with sumac (or cumin and paprika if you prefer) and drizzle with a little olive oil. Enjoy with crackers, chopped veg, on pita bread, in a sandwich or on its own. It should keep covered in the fridge for 3-5 days. 

 

Spiced Carrot Muffins

Spiced Carrot Muffins
Toddler, Kid, Adult

Baking with vegetables is a genius idea for three wonderful reasons - added nutrition, natural sweetness and moisture. Carrots, in particular, are the perfect addition to cakes, muffins and breads. I created these whole grain, omega-3 fatty acid-rich, refined sugar-free, spiced carrot muffins to make my mornings less stressful, more nutritious and delicious.

Science Corner
Carrots are brimming with vitamin A, which is ultra important for good vision and critical for developing kids. Carrots contain fibre which helps with regularity and feeds the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. They also contain phytonutrients that prevent cancer and free radical damage to our DNA during normal metabolism. Whole wheat instead of regular processed flour is nutrient and fibre rich, helping with satiety and blood sugar control. Flax seeds are an amazing vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids which are important for brain development and the prevention of unnecessary inflammation making these nutrient-rich yummy muffins a treat you can feel really great about giving your kids and families. 

Yield
12 muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (preferably Ceylon)
5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey) plus extra for drizzling
1/4 cup raisins

Method
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C.

Line a muffin tray with paper liners and set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, flax meal, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Add in the vanilla, melted and cooled butter, milk and maple syrup and mix well. 

Add the carrots and raisins to the dry ingredients. Then add in the wet ingredients and mix until a batter forms without over-mixing. Allow the mixture to rest for a minute or two. 

Using an ice-cream scooper, transfer the muffin mixture into the paper liners two thirds of the way to the top. Create a small dent and add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon maple syrup in the centre of each muffin. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin emerges dry. Transfer onto a cooling rack. Once cooled, enjoy dipped in milk or with a hot cup of spiced chat for the perfect breakfast or mid-afternoon energy boosting, nutritious snack. 

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Spiced Granola

Spiced Granola
Toddler, Kid, Adult

I must admit I've usually bought granola, thinking it's too complicated to make on my own, but boy was I wrong! Homemade granola is so easy to whip up and so much more nutritious and delicious when you play around with add ins yourself. Not to mention the irresistible aroma that floods your kitchen when its baking. It also makes for a thoughtful gift for a friend and is ideal for travel. I am sure this will become a breakfast and snack staple in your household just as it has in ours.  

Science Corner
In addition to the nutrition benefits of oats mentioned here, the nuts in this recipe are rich in protein, fibre, good quality fats, minerals like calcium and magnesium and vitamins E and B. Cranberries and raisins provide anti-oxidants and vitamins, coconut oil can prevent unwanted inflammation and the gentle sweetness of maple syrup is energising without setting off that dreaded sugar rush. 

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not steel cut or instant oats)
1/4 cup almonds coarsely chopped
1/4 cup cashews coarsely chopped
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (preferably Ceylon)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins

Method
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 F.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cranberries and raisins. Mix well. 

Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet into a thin layer. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and transfer into a fresh bowl. Add the dried cranberries and raisins and allow the mixture to cool. Store in an airtight container for 2 months. Enjoy over yoghurt, layered in a fruit and yoghurt parfait, with your milk of choice or on its own as a crunchy, toast, sweet, slightly salty and spiced nutritious and delicious breakfast or snack. 

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Vroom Vroom Energy Balls

Vroom Vroom Energy Balls
Toddler, Kid, Adult

Yield
12-14 balls
Each bite contains 33 mg of Mg or 41% and 25% of the daily required intake of Mg for 1-3 and 4-8 year olds, respectively. 

Ingredients
1/2 cup almond butter
3/4 cup oats
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon (preferably Ceylon)

Method
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend well until the oats are broken down into granules and the ingredients are well combined into a crumbly dough. Shape the mixture into 3/4 inch diameter balls between the palms of your hands. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour to set. These will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks in an airtight container but they will most definitely not last that long, if my tot's obsession with them is any indication :). You can also freeze them for longer enjoyment. 

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Curry Egg Salad

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Curry Egg Salad
12 months+

Growing up in India, I had never heard of curry powder. Powder blends of various spices are common there, with garam masala being the most well known, but curry powder, per se, is a distinctly Western invention. That said, there are particular dishes where it works beautifully to lend a hint of the exotic without overpowering subtle flavors. In that vein, it perks up this healthy twist on classic egg salad perfectly. Curry powder blends can contain various compositions of herbs and spices - mine has cumin, turmeric, coriander, chilli pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper and saffron. Naturally, I'm working on the perfect homemade blend and will share that with you soon - stay tuned! 

Science Corner
Eggs contain choline which is extremely important for brain and memory development. At only 75 calories, an egg has 6 grams of high quality, complete protein (as in, containing all 9 essential amino acids) as well as iron, vitamins like B12, D, riboflavin and folate, minerals and carotenoids that are vital for eye development and vision. The egg is therefore a tiny nutritional powerhouse. But what about all that cholesterol?! While it's true that eggs do contain a meaningful helping of cholesterol, experts agree that it's not cholesterol in food but saturated and trans fats in the diet that causes blood cholesterol to be elevated. So go ahead and enjoy those nutrient-dense eggs - one a day is considered safe for healthy people. I skip the mayo and substitute calcium and protein-rich, creamy Greek yoghurt here for a super nutritious and healthy version of this favorite. 

Yield
2 toddler servings

Ingredients
3 eggs
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery (about ½ a stick)
1.5 tablespoons full fat, plain Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon curry powder
¼ lemon juiced
Salt to taste

Method
In a pot for which you have a lid place the eggs in a layer on the bottom, cover with an inch of cold water and bring to a rolling, aggressive boil. Turn the heat off, cover the pot and let the eggs sit for 15 minutes for the perfect hard-boiled texture. 
Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place in ice water until cooled, for a minute or so. 
Peel the eggs and mash with a fork or chop finely using an egg slicer into a fresh bowl. 
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. 
Serve on top of sliced cucumber sprinkled with sweet paprika or between whole wheat bread for a healthy and delicious lunch or snack. 

Cardamom Chocolate Energy Balls

CARDAMOM CHOCOLATE ENERGY BALLS
Toddler, Kid, Adult

This past rainy weekend brought with it an intense chocolate craving and my stash was out. In a moment of desperation, I whipped up these 'laddoos' or energy balls with the only chocolate I had on hand - raw cacao . I wasn't expecting fireworks but boy oh boy were these AMAZING. Packed with protein, iron, calcium, fiber, anti-oxidants and a host of other nutrients, these cardamom chocolate energy balls have become toddler's favorite snack and the best part - he hasn't asked for 'real' chocolate since! 

Science Corner
As discussed in a previous post, cardamom has a range of scientifically proven health benefits including anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, digestion-promoting, detoxifying and anti-nausea effects. In one study, the effect of a blend of essential oils from ginger, peppermint, spearmint and cardamom was assessed on post-operative nausea in 300 patients. Both nausea levels and the need for anti-nausea medications were reduced in a statistically significant manner in the aromatherapy treated group versus controls! Raw cacao is minimally processed cacao to preserve all the magic of the cacao bean, including anti-oxidants and polyphenols. Tahini is a wonderful non-dairy source of calcium and protein and oats have heart-healthy fiber. All of these beautiful ingredients join forces to make these ultra delicious superfood delights you can feel amazing about feeding your family. 

Yield
About 15 balls

Ingredients
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 cloves cardamom, seeds removed and ground
1/4 cup oats
4 dates pitted
1 tablespoon cacao powder (preferably raw for a nutritional punch)
2 tablespoons honey

Method
Blend all the ingredients in a good processor until smooth. Using your hands, shape the mixture into 1 inch diameter balls. Allow them to set in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. They should last for 5-7 days in the fridge if you can wait that long to finish them! They are perfect as an energizing mid-morning snack, in the lunchbox or whenever a chocolate craving strikes. 




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Healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins

Healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins 
Toddler, Kid, Adult

Science Corner
Oats contain a special kind of fiber called beta-glucan which has been shown to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, boost immune function, stabilize blood sugar and even prevent breast cancer. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium which is critical for heart function. Creamy and naturally sweet, they contain fiber which aids digestion and is a 'PREbiotic' - food that feeds the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Mangoes are brimming with carotenids like alpha and beta-carotene, which are precursors to Vitamin A production in the body and potent anti-cancer agents due to their antioxidant free radical scavenging activities. Vitamin A is especially important for eye development in children - being fat soluble, it is well absorbed in these greek yoghurt muffins. Mangoes also offer a boatload of Vitamin C and some B vitamins, particularly folate - if you're pregnant and looking for sources of folic acid, you can devour these with your kids. With blood sugar-stabilizing and anti-inflammatory cinnamon, a touch of honey, low glycemic coconut palm sugar and a few indulgent milk and white chocolate chips, these muffins are just the right amount of decadent while still being so good for you. A truly delicious and nutritious way to start your day!

Yield
12 muffins

Ingredients
2 cups whole grain rolled oats
3/4 cup full fat Greek yoghurt
1 banana
1 cup chopped mango (~ 1 medium mango)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Method
Preheat the oven to 375F / 190C. Grease a muffin tray or line cavities with paper liners. 

Blend all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips saving a few for sprinkling on top of the muffins before baking. Scoop batter into muffin cups until each cavity is about 2/3 full and sprinkle a couple of chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin emerges dry. Allow the muffins to cool. Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Makes for a perfect, healthy lunchbox item too! 

 






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Garlicky Guacamole

GARLICKY GUACAMOLE
Toddler, Kid, Adult

You know you've nailed a dish when everyone requests you to make it for their parties, including kids' birthdays! That recipe for me is this garlicky guac. The mere addition of garlic elevates an already perfect classic to the upper echelons of deliciousness. The garlic adds a subtle heat, a nuance, a depth that keeps folks guessing what 'that secret ingredient' might be. And kids seem to love it too which is, for us, the ultimate thumbs up.

Nutrition
Garlic is one of the oldest medicinal foods. A sulfur containing compound called allicin in garlic is responsible for its potent biological properties including reduction in bad cholesterol (LDL) and an increase in good cholesterol (HDL), anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects, reduction in triglycerides and immune boosting activities. Avocados are a potent anti-inflammatory food, rich in anti-oxidants and a source of excellent quality fat that aids in keeping inflammation in check and prevents heart disease. The raw shallots in this recipe also contain allicin like in garlic, boosting the aforementioned health benefits. 

Yield
Serves 4 adults and 1 toddler as an appetizer/snack

Ingredients
4 large avocados
2 shallots finely chopped
1 large garlic clove crushed
2 large limes juiced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander / cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste

Method
Mash the avocado flesh in a bowl, a good activity to involve toddler in! Add in the other ingredients and mix well. Check for salt and lime, adding more if necessary. Enjoy with chips, raw veggies, in sandwiches or on its own for a delectable, delightful, creamy, nutritious treat. 




Spiced Banana Oat Chia Muffins

I woke up from a nap yesterday with an intense muffin craving. It's been a week of clean eating so I didn't want to sabotage myself and toddler with added sugar nastiness. I decided to create 'healthy' muffins with oats, bananas, spices, and NO WHITE SUGAR. These are definitely gently versus cloyingly  sweet but they absolutely hit the spot. I made them again for breakfast today and given toddler and papa's reaction, I'll be adding them to the 'healthy family favorite' list. 

Nutrition
Oats contain a special kind of fiber called beta-glucan which has been shown to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, boost immune function, stabilize blood sugar and even prevent breast cancer. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium which is critical for heart function. They are creamy and naturally sweet but also have a good amount of fiber which aids digestion. Specifically, bananas are a 'prebiotic' - food that feeds the good bacteria or probiotics in your digestive tract, making them great for digestive health. With omega-3 rich chia seeds, blood sugar stabilizing cinnamon and anti-bacterial cardamom, a touch of honey and no white sugar. these muffins are a perfect power snack or a delicious and nutritious way to start your day. 

Yield
12 muffins

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups whole grain rolled oats
4 medium ripe bananas
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 scant cup honey
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
2 eggs

Method
Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190C.

In a food processor, blend together all the ingredients except the eggs. Add the eggs and pulse until well incorporated. Using an ice-cream scooper, transfer the mixture into muffin liners or a greased muffin tray. Bake for 18 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool and enjoy as is or with a drizzle of maple or brown rice syrup for some added deliciousness. Alternatively, for a more decadent treat, fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips into the batter before baking. 

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Turmeric Popcorn

TURMERIC POPCORN
SOME 
Toddlers, Kids, Adults

Some experts consider popcorn a choking hazard for toddlers. As described in the article below, parents are the best judge as to whether their toddler can handle popcorn or not, depending on how well she chews and swallows other foods. You can err on the side of caution and wait until your child is 4 to give them popcorn. My 2 yr old seems to handle it fine, for what it's worth. 
http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/can-child-eat-popcorn-4201.html

Nutrition
Popcorn, believe it or not, is a very healthy snack as long as it's not the butter and sodium-doused movie theater variety or the chemical-laden kind found in ready-to-pop, microwavable popcorn. Popping your own corn is ridiculously simple (see details below) and when done so, this crunchy, tasty snack is a rich source of antioxidants (yes, really!), fiber, folate and other minerals like iron and manganese. Combined with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory turmeric, this is a bright, healthy and delicious snack you can feel good about giving your kids and yourselves.

Science Corner
The most vigorously studied use of turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, is for cancer. While most of the evidence is limited to animal studies, a few clinical trials are ongoing to determine if curcumin can treat cancers in humans. The ability of curcumin to thwart cancer in has been linked in several studies to its inhibition of a protein in the cell, called NFkappaB, which promotes the expression of genes that assist cancer growth. Research has shown that curcumin can slow cancers of various organs including the lung, breast, skin and colon. Given its poor absorption into the blood stream previously discussed here, it may be more promising for cancers of the esophagus and gut where it can exert its function without having to be absorbed. It's also important to keep in mind the limitations of dietary curcumin as a therapeutic given the high doses required. We see the benefits of dietary curcumin more as an anti-inflammatory molecule, potentially useful in preventing rather than treating cancer, which we consider reason enough to embrace it in our kitchen! 

Yield
~10 cups of popped popcorn

Ingredients
1/2 cup popping corn
2 tablespoons coconut oil, preferably the anti-oxidant rich, unrefined or virgin variety
1-2 tablespoons butter depending on richness desired
1-2 teaspoons turmeric powder depending on strength of flavor desired
Pinch or 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

Method 
Heat the coconut oil with 4 kernels of popping corn over medium-high heat in a pot with the lid on. Once the kernels pop, take the lid off, add the remaining corn and give them a good stir. Cover the pot and take it off the heat for 20 seconds, allowing all the kernels to come to popping temperature at around the same time. Place the covered pot over medium-high heat again. Once the kernels begin popping, lift the pot off the heat and shake it from side to side every 10-15 seconds to prevent the bottom layer from burning. Once there is a 30 second gap or so between pops, turn the heat off and lift the lid off the pot. 

Melt the butter in a small pan, add the turmeric and pepper and stir for about 30 seconds. Pour in batches over the corn, stirring well between pours to evenly incorporate the seasoning. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste stirring once again. Store in air-tight containers for prolonged freshness. Serve as a snack, during an at home movie night or as a lunch box side. Spice it up further with some cayenne for adults mmmm. 

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Turmeric Hummus

TURMERIC HUMMUS
6 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Nutrition
Chickpeas provide a tremendous amount of insoluble fiber which regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels, aiding heart health. This fiber is converted into short chain fatty acids by gut microbes which serve as fuel for cells lining the colon, thereby keeping this very important digestive organ in healthy, pristine condition. Tahini is a superb source of calcium and vitamins B and E. Combined with pita or wheat bread, hummus offers complete protein i.e. all 9 essential amino acids, critical for growing babies and toddlers (and us adults!)

Yield
2 1/2 cups

Ingredients
1 15oz can cooked garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons tahini
1-2 garlic cloves (optional, especially for younger babies)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice ( from 3/4 of an average lemon)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
6 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon salt (skip for babies)

Method
Heat the oil over medium flame until hot but not smoking. Add the turmeric and stir the pan on and off for about a minute until the turmeric heats and opens up. Turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the chickpeas and add to a blender bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper (if using) and cooled turmeric oil and blend. Add the ice-water (a Yotam Ottolenghi trick!) one tablespoon at a time while blending to smooth out the hummus. 

Serving suggestions
Serve as a dip with chopped veggies, whole wheat breadsticks or pita bread for toddlers and adults or as a puree for babies. Slather on bread and top with chopped avocado (or other veggies) for a nutritious and tasty sandwich meal. 

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