Snacking is one of the best way to stay fit and sharing with you this super easy recipe. This recipe is especially good for women as it contains essential nutrients like Iron from dates, Vitamins from sunflower seeds , Protein from i2cook peanut butter, Essential fatty acids from cacao nibs and Calcium & Fiber from chia seeds. The good news is that these energy boosters can be customized to your liking. You can add chocolate chips, walnuts or any kind of ingredient that you like.
200 gms dates, pitted
2tbs i2cook peanut butter
1tbs cacao nibs
1tbs roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 tbs chia seeds or flax seed powder
- Pulse the dates in a blender into fine pieces so that it has enough stickiness to roll into a ball
- In a bowl mix all the ingredients along with dates
- Roll into a ball of desired size
- This can be stored in an air tight container for a week or refrigerated for a month. Yields about 15 medium sized pieces.
Spicy Peanut Butter is a versatile product and works great for salad dressings or noodle based dishes. You can also mix this versatile product with your plain rice and curds. At i2cook, we have also introduced a new product called the “i2cook Peanut Crunch” which are powdered peanuts, can be added to your noodles, salads, soup, sabudana kichidi or Indian style vegetable as garnish. Sharing with you a very easy recipe for a lazy weeknight or weekend dinner. Feel free to use your favorite veggies or meat. This meal is not only satisfying but can also be prepared under 15 minutes.
1 packet hakka noodles – 200gms (wheat), cooked and water drained
1 medium sized onion, peeled & sliced
4-5 peeled garlic, finely chopped
1 small capsicum, de-seeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, cut in thin strips
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
4-5 baby corn sliced & cooked (optional)
100gms i2cook spicy peanut butter
1/2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp coconut or palm sugar
salt to taste
coriander or spring onion for garnish
i2cook peanut crunch (powdered peanuts for garnish)
toasted sesame for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in a wok and add garlic. Allow it to brown a little and add onions.
- Once the onions are soft, add carrots, mushroom, capsicum and babay corn. Cook until done.
- Take peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar in a bowl and add some water to form a smooth paste. Add this to the cooked vegetables and cook for a minute.
- Add salt to taste and noodles, mix well. Turn off the gas.
- Add some peanut crunch and coriander as garnish. Serves 2.
Today, on this world health day, I would like to talk about the super food “quinoa”. Diabetics being the prime most concern; over 30 million Indians have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is time for us to wake up and spend some time thinking about what we consume. That eat as you wish attitude is costing us our health and financially, hospital bills too.
This locally grown ingredient (Yes, locally grown, no more importing) is a super seed which can be consumed as a grain. The first project of growing quinoa was started by a farmer in India with the aid of our Government as a testing ground to see if this seed can be grown in a similar way as millets are commonly grown. The success of one farmer encouraged forty others to grow quinoa in the same region. This is a big change and this new revolution will not only help to provide farming with less water belts or drought laden area with a new crop, but will also encourage consumers to include it in their diet. This is a great news for Indian market, however the high price is still catering to the urban market. It is believed that as the demand rises and more and more farmers believe in the product there will be a huge change in the diet of several health affected Indians. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
Quinoa is a seed, the size of a millet. On cooking, it becomes translucent and the germ of the seed uncoils to form a little tail. Its leaves are not only fit for human consumption like any other green leafy vegetable but the excess of it can also be used as a fodder for cattle.
i2cook Quinoa is close to amaranth (millet) in terms of nutritional value. Here is the comparison between i2cook quinoa and amaranth seeds. However, it is difficult to use amaranth seeds in salads or pulav due to its sticky or non fluffy nature. i2cook Quinoa works great in salads and in pulav!
i2cook Quinoa can be cooked in a similar way as rice 1:2 ration, 1 cup of quinoa : 2 cups of water with a dash of rock salt in a pressure cooker (cook until one whistle) or in a pot, cook for 13 minutes. Quinoa from i2cook can also be sprouted to enjoy maximum anti oxidants.
i2cook Quinoa can be used as a substitute to your rice dishes or salads or in pretty much everything. I enjoy one bowl meal during summer and like to use quinoa as a base accompanied by lots and lots of vegetables. We recently made a burrito bowl for lunch and it made a nice wholesome and a lite meal. We served only 2 tbs of quinoa per person which was enough to take care of our daily nutrient in take.
i2cook Quinoa is grown without pesticide, non GMO and the main advantage of our quinoa is that you don’t have to rinse it many times as it does not contain any saponin which imparts a bitter taste if not rinsed several times.
Kothambir vadi (coriander fritters) is my favorite snack from Maharastra which is made from fresh coriander leaves and chickpea flour. This is further steamed and pan-fried or deep fried. I prefer the pan-fried as it uses less oil and tastes great too! I’ve given the traditional kothambir vadi an i2cook twist by adding some of our pink mustard. Pink mustard is a versatile product which is made from organic ingredients like yellow, balk mustard, turmeric powder and cold pressed soy oil. Pink mustard is a deli style mustard which contains no sugar. Kothambir vadi with pink mustard can be served as an appetizer or a tea-time treat with chai.
3 cups chickpea flour (besan)
2 cups cleaned, chopped coriander leaves
4-5 green chillies (add more if you like yours more pungent)
2-3 garlic cloves 1 tbs pink mustard
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
rock salt to taste
1 tsp ground oil and some extra for pan frying
(All ingredients used to make this dish are organic)
- Pound the green chillies and garlic into a paste in a mortar pestle.
- Mix corriander leaves, besan, garlic & chilly paste, mustard, sesame seeds, oil, salt, cumin powder and water in a bowl until it forms a hard dough. Shape into a log or any desired shape.
- Steam the log for about 20-25 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a skewer and coming out clean.
- Allow it to cool. Cut the cooled log into 1 cm slices. Heat about 1 tbs of oil in a pan and pan-fry the vadis in batches on both sides until golden brown and crisp. Serve hot with some i2cook’s pink mustard.
Coconut sugar production is a very simple one as compared to most other sugars. There is absolutely no additives and it is prepared in the most sustainable way. I’ve been talking about this wonder sugar for some time and its benefits. I recently visited one of the farm which produces the best coconut sugar ever!
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree. This sap is collected once or twice a day and comes from the stem that would normally feed a group of coconuts. Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel, an earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation. The collected liquid in the collection vessel is poured into the boiling vessel which is done first thing in the morning. This is usually done early mornings when the weather is relatively cooler within a span of four hours. This neera or palm toddy is boiled to a desired runny and sticky consistency. This is poured into molds and dried before packing.
i2cook’s coconut sugar goes into further breaking down into powder form and is sun-dried. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar are two different types of sugar. Please refer my blog post for further clarification on different types of sugar (with GI comparison). I use coconut sugar in my tea/coffee or in my banana bread amost every other day. I use this sugar to make some coconut sugar cookies too!
A lot of you may be concerned about the sap being used only in sugar production and wondering about growing coconuts… To clear your doubt – only 10-15 trees depending on the production capacity of that particular farm is kept separate for coconut sugar production only. One of the farm would only produce 10kg per day during the first half of the day and would keep the rest of the day for other work like agriculture, cattle feed etc. The trees marked for coconut sugar production are kept closer to home for a simple reason being, closer to home means closer to production/boiling facility and also no tension of coconut falling on anyone’ head 😉
Using coconut sugar in your diet is relatively a new concept in India and I can proudly say that “i2cook” is one of the first company to launch coconut sugar as a retail product. Coconut sugar production helps farmers to gain an extra income apart from their other agricultural practices. Coconut sugar is not only good for you but also good for the environment!
Diabetics has been on a rise and it is essential that we start looking at what we eat in a more organized manner. Today’s lifestyle demands us to focus on our health and take pre-cautionary measures before its too late. I had spoken about GI with regards to natural sugars before and now I will be talking about it more in detail . GI is a term most often used by nutritionist but in today’s date and it has become important for a layman like us to understand the importance of it. Following a low GI diet for a healthy living will help you keep your glucose level in check.
Glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels. The GI ranking is from 1-100.
Apart from regular exercise, food plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. Today’s post is about low GI foods that are beyond natural sugars. Everything that we eat contains some amount of sugar in them.
Why do I need a low-GI diet?
A low GI diet ensures that you are a more active person. The lifestyle that we have right now as compared to our ancestors is not the same. Our grandparents may seem active even at the age of 80 but there is no guarantee that the same genes will carry on to us. The reason is very simple – lifestyle and introduction of packaged products to make these products last long has become a part of our daily diet. The carbohydrates that our ancestors ate were to basic beans and rice which made it easier from farm to plate due to the lack of refrigeration or processes packaged products. As a result, most of the food that we eat like pizza, burgers, cakes contains the sorts of carbohydrates that break down quickly and release their sugars rapidly into the bloodstream. However, consuming low GI foods will help us keep fit and active.
Risk of consuming high-GI foods
- Weight gain – high GI foods will make you hungry and more likely that you will want to eat again. It also causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and fall, which in turn results in craving for sugary and fatty foods. In both cases insulin’s main role is to promote fat storage, which means that the more insulin you have in your body, you are storing excess calories in your body.
- Food cravings and lethargy
- Lack of concentration
- Heart disease
A low GI diet can help
- Obtain a high fibre diet by consuming rolled oats, leafy vegetables, fruits.
- It is naturally more filling and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Consuming nut butters like peanut butter or cashew butter keeps you full for long.
- Vegetables and fruits are rich source of nutrients and can help fight diseases.
- Higher in essential vitamins,minerals and antioxidants will help your immune system stay strong and healthy.
How to follow a simple low GI diet?
A low GI diet is not that difficult to follow. In India, it is much easier to achieve this as we cook our own food (most of the time).
- Eat different types of fruits and vegetables about 6-7 servings per day as per your liking. Although, some fruits and vegetables may contain high GI, in relaity when eaten in normal quantities they contain small amount of carbohydrate that they have little or no measurable effect on blood sugar levels.
- Eating whole grain foods and cereals with low GI like whole wheat or ragi breads or cookies
- Unpolished rice pulses or lentils
- Nuts and seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids. If you think that nut butters are fatty, think again.
- Eating fish or seafood 2-3 times a week is a good source of omega 3.
- Eating lean meat or chicken, minus the fat and following healthy cooking styles like grilling or barbecuing is best way to enjoy meat and control your GI.
- Snack on low GI foods like fruits, ragi/millet chips or crackers, coconut sugar biscuits or low fat yogurt.
- Replace sugary, packaged drinks with fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water
Following simple steps and taking tab of what you eat can help you a long way. GI-diet is not a fad but a scientifically proven theory. Taking smaller steps and planning your meal by swamping basmati rice with millets or white bread with whole wheat bread will help. Pasta also has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI. Al-dente is the best way to eat pasta and maintains its low GI. The longer you cook the higher the GI it has.
|GI and GL for Common Foods|
|Food||GI||Serving Size||Net Carbs||GL|
|Peanuts||14||4 oz (113g)||15||2|
|Bean sprouts||25||1 cup (104g)||4||1|
|Grapefruit||25||1/2 large (166g)||11||3|
|Pizza||30||2 slices (260g)||42||13|
|Lowfat yogurt||33||1 cup (245g)||47||16|
|Apples||38||1 medium (138g)||16||6|
|Spaghetti||42||1 cup (140g)||38||16|
|Carrots||47||1 large (72g)||5||2|
|Oranges||48||1 medium (131g)||12||6|
|Bananas||52||1 large (136g)||27||14|
|Potato chips||54||4 oz (114g)||55||30|
|Snickers Bar||55||1 bar (113g)||64||35|
|Brown rice||55||1 cup (195g)||42||23|
|Honey||55||1 tbsp (21g)||17||9|
|Oatmeal||58||1 cup (234g)||21||12|
|Ice cream||61||1 cup (72g)||16||10|
|Macaroni and cheese||64||1 serving (166g)||47||30|
|Raisins||64||1 small box (43g)||32||20|
|White rice||64||1 cup (186g)||52||33|
|Sugar (sucrose)||68||1 tbsp (12g)||12||8|
|White bread||70||1 slice (30g)||14||10|
|Watermelon||72||1 cup (154g)||11||8|
|Popcorn||72||2 cups (16g)||10||7|
|Baked potato||85||1 medium (173g)||33||28|
The table shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI’s of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL’s of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high
GI ratings for some of the popular foods.
Disclaimer: the above research has been done some through personal experimentation and online research. If you are diabetic, I suggest you consult your doctor for low GI diet.
We are all fond of sugar and it has become an integral part of our everyday diet. Sugar is everywhere! Your morning cup of tea/coffee, fruits, cereals, bread all contain sugar. If sugar is such an important part of our diet; don’t you think you should know what your options are, before choosing the right type of sugar that your body requires? Some may also tell you that your body doesn’t require any sugar and you may go on a “no sugar diet”. Sometime later, you find yourself losing control over a candy; to kill your sugar craving. There are times when you are stressed or going through your PMS and all you want is a piece of that scrumptious dessert. Why is sugar bad for you? Is it because all good things have to be the devil incarnate?! 😉 Perhaps a little knowledge on what sugar really is might help.
Sugar is a source of energy for all our body cells. It comes from food, mainly carbohydrates and excess sugar gets stored in our muscles and liver. Which means that, most naturally available food already contains sugar as a natural sweetener. Hence sweeteners are a necessary food of life! One of the easy or the fastest way to detect sweeteners in food is by it’s GI (glycemic index). Glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels.
Sucrose (combo of glucose + fructose) comes from sugar cane or beet and is often referred to as ‘table’ or ‘added’ sugar. It also occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables. Chemically speaking table sugars refined from cane and beet sugar are quite similar. However, many of the labels do not specify if the sugar is extracted from beet. Cane sugar may caramelize better than beet, but the difference may not be noticeable to most. Though, sugar beet is common in other parts of the world, there has been some interest in growing sugar beet in India too.
There are so many sweeteners available in the market and the promotional doctored articles make it really hard for us to choose what is really good for us. I’m sharing with you a list of natural sweeteners which are not only healthy but also a good alternative to switch from refined and processed sugar crystals. I’ve cooked, baked and have made them a part of my diet. I think you need to be comfortable with each sweetener and that’s when you know what works best for you.
Raw Sugar or Khandsari – This sugar is a part of my everyday diet and I use it in almost anything. Raw sugar is also known as cane sugar or unrefined sugar and it is minimally processed. Raw sugar is processed in india for hundreds of years. Sugar is made by extracting juice from the sugar cane. The extracted juice is then boiled and cooled, allowing it to crystallize. The sugar may crystallize into a very fine or granular sugar. This pale golden crystals are raw sugar.
Because raw sugar is not heavily refined, it has higher molasses content than table sugar. It has higher moisture content than regular sugar and keeping raw sugar in an airtight container is highly advised. Raw sugar can be used in your daily cup of beverage, in making jams, juices, Indian sweets, desserts or baking.
Liquid Jaggery or kakvi – Liquid jaggery is obtained by boiling raw sugar cane juice in a cast iron. As the liquid begins to boil the molasses is separated out. The removed molasses is usually fed to the cattle feed in India. Upon further boiling the juice condenses into a thick viscous liquid, which is called liquid jaggery (if further boiled, it leads to form jaggery). The boiling process is stopped and allowed to cool for bottling. Liquid jaggery has low GI. It helps relieve cold, cough, asthma and congestion in chest. Treats Indigestion and constipation. Also acts as a body coolant and antioxidant. Ideal for people with low haemoglobin. The uses are same as block or powdered jaggery. The disadvantage of this sweetener is that it tends to ferment. The best way to use the fermented jaggery is to boil it again with a little bit of water and use it again and you won’t notice any change ;). Here is an awesome liquid jaggery cake recipe from my blog!
Jaggery or gur – Jaggery is one of the most popular sweeteners in india. It is an unrefined sugar, made by boiling raw sugar cane or palm juice (known as palm jaggery) in iron pans. It is then formed into trays to dry and either made into balls or powder form. Jaggery is healthier than refined sugars as it retains natural vitamins and minerals.
The mineral content of jaggery includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron and traces of zinc and copper. The vitamin content includes folic acid and B-complex vitamins. Thus, other than that it is a good source of energy, it also prevents rheumatic afflictions; prevents disorders of bile; helps in relieving fatigue, relaxation of muscles, nerves and blood vessels; maintains blood pressure and reduces water retention; increases hemoglobin level and prevents anaemia.
Jaggery is a versatile sweetener. It goes so well with our Indian cooking that is has become a must have sweetener in every household. Jaggery perfectly enhances and gives a final touch to any Indian dish. Jaggery is used in coffee/tea or in South Indian cooking to make dishes like sambar. Jaggery can be used in baking cookies, cakes or even breads.
Palm sugar or palm jaggery – Palm sugar is a natural sweetener made from the sap of palm trees. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar may sound same but are completely two different sweeteners. The liquid collected from the sap is called toddy or neera. This fresh toddy is boiled to obtain palm sugar or palm syrup. This process is done quickly to avoid toddy from fermenting. To make the sugar solid, the boiled juice is then poured into bamboo sections to form cylindrical shapes or into coconut shells or into small baskets woven of palm leaves. You also get palm sugar in powder form, which looks very close to coconut sugar. This sugar, even when soft, can be extremely dense and very sticky. Palm Sugar has a low GI and helps prevent diabetes and anemia during pregnancy. It is also known to be effective against cold and lung related ailments. You can use palm sugar in the same way as you would use jaggery.
Coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar – This is a wonder sugar! Most people are amazed and wonder if it tastes all coco-nuty. Coconut sugar is created from the sap of the coconut palm tree, rather than from the actual coconut itself. Coconut sugar is 100% pure, single-ingredient product with no additives, fillers, or added sweeteners. It is the single most sustainable sweetener in the world! Coconut sugar is a healthy sugar; low in glycemic index and full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is definitely a better substitute compared to all sweeteners including agave syrup.
Coconut sugar has to be stored in an air tight container. It looses its texture to moisture and may also turn hard. Coconut palm sugar is a versatile substitute for conventional cane sugar for most baking purposes. It is slightly less sweet than cane sugar but more flavorful, and in many cases the quantity of sugar can be reduced by up to 25 percent without altering the end result.You will find coconut sugar not as sweet as refined white sugars (so if using them for cakes or other desserts, you may need to add more to achieve the same level of sweetness). However, I find they have a nice caramel like taste which is similar to molasses, but lighter. You’ll definitely enjoy the taste! I have been using this wonder sugar in baking cookies, muffins, ladoos and I also made some yum vegan salted caramel.
Molasses or blackstrap molasses – This sweetener is used by many as a medicine more than cooking. Cane Molasses is made in a three-step process that begins with the juice from mature or green sugar cane plant. The juice is boiled to concentrate and crystallize the sugar. The result is called the “first” molasses. The crystallized sugar is removed and the residue is boiled again. The mixture darkens as the remaining sugar is burnt or caramelized. What results is called, “second” molasses. After more sugar crystals are removed, the process is repeated once again. The final or “third” boil produces the dark, concentrated syrup known as blackstrap molasses.
Molasses is rich in iron and contains benefits for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, pregnant or lactating and growing children or adolescents.Molasses is rich in copper, manganese, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Honey – This naturally rich sweetener produced by the honey bees, making it not suitable for vegans. It is an alternative substitute for white sugar. Research also indicates that honey’s unique composition makes it useful as an antimicrobial agent and antioxidant.
The process of making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees’ saliva, a process that turns it into honey. The bees carry the honey back to the hive, where they deposit it into the cells of the hive’s walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the honey’s moisture content, making it ready for consumption. Raw honey is the best option than the most filtered honey available in the market. Honey is best stored in glass bottles and they can be used in to enhance your juices and smoothies or for cooking and baking.
Pure Maple Syrup – The process of creating maple syrup begins with tapping (piercing) the tree, which allows the sap to run out freely. The sap is clear and almost tasteless and very low in sugar content when it is first tapped. It is then boiled to evaporate the water producing syrup with the characteristic flavor and color of maple syrup and sugar content of 60%. Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and zinc. Pure maple syrup does not contain any flavouring and will be displayed on the labels. Maple syrup is commonly enjoyed with pancakes. You can also enjoy it on peanut butter toasts or in a bowl of cereal.
Stevia or sweet leaf or sugar leaf – Stevia is a plant and origins from South America. The compound in the leaves is responsible for the sweetness. This compound is sometimes sold isolated from the leaves in a highly refined form. In other cases, the sweetener is made by crushing or distilling the leaves of the plant to form a powder or a syrup with an intensely sweet flavor.
It has been shown that stevia is much sweeter than other sugars, meaning that only a small amount needs to be used. The body also processes stevia very slowly, which greatly reduces the risk of a sugar high. In addition, it is essentially calorie free, which is why it is popular with dieters. However, there has no proven facts and some scientists claim that it can cause cancer. Though stevia may seem like a natural sweetener, there has been no proven studies. Stevia leaves can be used in your dialy cup of tea/coffee, juices and smoothies. I’ve never baked with stevia and would like to know if you have used it.
Agave Syrup or agave nectar – Agave syrup is made from the juice of the agave plant, particularly found in the deserts of Mexico. Agave syrup looks like honey, but it is usually lighter and has a cleaner taste. It is nearly twice as sweet as white table sugar or raw sugar. Though agave syrup has low GI it is high on fructose and is compared to the commercially available sweeteners (because of the way it is being processed). Agave syrup can be used to sweeten your juices, smoothies or can be used in baking.
Going the natural way is the best way of not in taking highly processed sweeteners. All sugars contain glucose and fructose but what you need to check and compare is the GI’s for easy understanding. You can go deeper with the breakdowns and open a chemistry lab. All the mentioned sweeteners are available on our online store i2cook.com.
Glycemic Index (GI) (%)
|Pure Maple Syrup||
|Jaggery & Palm Sugar||
*Studies have shown that insulin is secreted by the pancreas soon after the sweet taste is experienced on the tongue, whether the substance contains calories or not. The body is fooled by the zero calorie sweetener. It expects glucose to hit the bloodstream and it gets none. This may result in increased appetite soon after.