Friday, 20 May 2011

Balkan Europe

Bosnian Cevapi (or ?evap?i?i)!

The Balkan Peninsula includes the state of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and European Turkey. These regions were once a part of the Roman & Byzantine EmpireThe peninsula is very mountainous and blessed with thick forests and natural resources. Most areas of this Balkan region are very rich in history and contribute goods and services to the rest of the world. The people of the Balkan Peninsula make up several racial groups and you will find distinct ethnic and cultural groups following their own tradition of food, style and architecture. I’m a big fan of Balkan cuisine and traditional foods. Along my travels, I’ve noted a few small details about the varying dishes in the Balkan region:
  • The best part of the Greek cooking is olive oil. Olives are a huge part of Greek culture, and can be associated with their cuisine from the ancient times. The region is rich in olive trees and the olive oil is frequently used in many Greek dishes. Wheat and Barley are the basic grains in Greek region, and major vegetables include tomato, eggplant, potato, green beans and okra. Dried oregano seeds are commonly used in Greek food to add flavors to the dish prepared.
  • Bosnian dishes are rich in spices and cooked with lot of vegetables. Typical meat dishes include beef, lamb and pork. Some of the best wines are available from many of the large vineyards in and around Herzegovina, as the climate is quite suitable for growing grapes. Some of the local specialties include ajvar, burek, cevapcici, dolma, goulash, pilaf sarma, and delicious Eastern sweets.
  • Montenegro’s cuisines are largely influenced by the Italian and continental European recipe. The coastal area of Montenegro yields Mediterranean dishes entirely different from the northern highland region’s recipe.
  • Macedonia is famous for its rich Shopska salad, an appetizer and side dish which accompany almost every meal. This region is better known for diverse milk products, wines and ‘local beverages’. Pork is the preferred meat in Romania, but beef, lamb and fish is also used in many local dishes. Mamaliga is a common dish; cornmeal mush served separately or along with a side dish.
  • Before Christmas, a pig is slaughtered by rural families of Romania, and variety of dishes are prepared from the meat and served with spicy sausages.
  • A typical breakfast of Turkey consists of cheese, butter, olive, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers. Black tea is served along with breakfast in turkey.

Baked Eggplant Roll Recipe

Ingredients: All ingredients are to taste
Eggplant – sliced lengthwise (approx 1/3 to 1/2 inch slices)
Ricotta Cheese
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Powder or Garlic Salt
Black Pepper
Green Chilies – finely chopped
Chopped Basil and Parsley
Crushed Red Chili Flakes
Pasta/Spaghetti Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese
1. Place Eggplant slices in a colander and generously salt them. Leave them to “sweat” for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine Ricotta Cheese, Garlic Salt, Crushed Red Chili Flakes, Italian Seasoning, Black Pepper, Green Chilies and chopped Basil and Parsley. Mix well and keep aside. Tip – use one heaping dinner spoon of ricotta cheese per each slice of eggplant.
3. Rinse off salt from Eggplant and gently squeeze out water or blot it with a paper towel.
4. Heat a little Oil on a skillet and cook eggplant slices until lightly brown on both sides.
5. Allow the eggplant to cool enough to be able to touch it.
6. Place a heaping spoon of the Ricotta Cheese mixture on the wide end of the cooked eggplant and roll the eggplant all the way.
7. Place the rolled eggplant in a lightly oiled baking dish and repeat until all eggplant slices are rolled.
8. Spoon spaghetti sauce over the eggplant rolls to coat them.
9. Bake uncovered in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 – 25 minutes (until cheese is heated all the way through).
10. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce and Broil in the oven for few minutes until cheese is melted and lightly brown. Garnish with chopped Basil and Parsley.
11. Server hot with bread and salad.


What is ageing?
Ageing is an inevitable part of growing older. There are certain factors that can minimise this process like the appearance of blotchy skin, age spots, wrinkles etc. It can be difficult for older people to maintain self-confidence, stay active and involved, and feel useful and needed, especially with the physical limitations age can impose. But the better they feel about themselves, the more likely it is that they will be able to cope with the minor health problems of ageing.
What are some ways to combat the signs of ageing?
Regular exercises and a healthy diet will always contribute positively to one’s health. As one ages, exercise tends to become more difficult yet more important. It is especially important to stretch regularly to keep the muscles relaxed, but active, and to keep the joints flexible. Regular exercise can improve some diseases and disabilities in older people who already have them. It can improve mood and relieve depression, too.
  • Limit alcohol 
  • Quit smoking 
  • Avoid crash diets
  • Manage stress
  • Get regular exercise
  • Avoid harsh skin products
  • Get enough rest
  • Use sunscreen
  • Stay out of tanning booths
  • Drink plenty of water
Does ageing slow down one’s metabolism?
As the body ages, there are also unique nutritional concerns. Cholesterol intake should be monitored due to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart diseases and stroke.) High blood pressure can be controlled through a low-fat and low-salt diet. Fruits and vegetables are known to combat the risk of cancer, and can help regulate one’s digestive system. In addition, post-menopausal women should consult their doctor regarding calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis. While it is true that older women need fewer than the recommended calories/day, no one should consume fewer than 1,500 calories per day.
How to fight against osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when one’s bones are excessively fragile and break easily. Women are four times more likely than men to develop this condition because of the loss of oestrogen at menopause. Drugs to treat osteoporosis have been shown to preserve or increase bone masses and maintain bone quality to reduce the risk of fractures. There has been significant recent advances in treatment. A healthy diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D is prescribed. Calcium tablets and oral vitamin D preparations may be given if the oral intake is inadequate. Routine exercises are recommended.
If one becomes forgetful, is it Alzheimer's disease?

It is natural to lose some mental acuity as one ages. So one’s minds can at times experience something that feels like overload, and it is easy to forget some of life’s details. Serious memory loss, however, is more rare. As many as 1% of people over the age of 60 suffer from some form of dementia which is characterised by significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older people. It begins slowly. At first, the only symptom may be mild forgetfulness. People with AD may have trouble remembering recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. There is no cure for it. Doctors may prescribe certain medication in an attempt to slow the progression of the disease. People with AD should go to their doctor regularly. The doctor will check to see how the disease is progressing and treat any other illnesses that occur. The doctor and other health professionals also can offer help and support to patients and their families. Currently, there is on-going research into preventing and curing Alzheimer’s disease.
Does ageing necessarily mean bad eyesight?

Many older people have relatively good eyesight into there eighties and beyond. Growing older does not always mean one sees poorly. But age brings changes that can weaken the eyes, making reading, in particular, more difficult. There are some easy things to try when these changes happen. One might add brighter lights in more places around the house, like at work counters, stairways, and favourite reading places. This may help one to see better and can sometimes prevent accidents caused by weak eyesight. One might need prescription glasses for reading, or simple reading glasses might be enough.
Cataracts are common among older people. Cataracts are cloudy areas in part or all of the eye lens. The lens is usually clear and lets light through. Cataracts keep light from easily passing through the lens, and this causes loss of eyesight. Cataracts often form slowly and cause no pain, redness, or tearing in the eye. If a cataract becomes large or thick, it can be removed by surgery. Glaucoma is another common eye disease. This is the result of too much fluid pressure inside the eye. It can lead to vision loss and blindness. It is important to see the doctor regularly to check on one’s eyesight and other related problems.
What can one do about hearing loss?
As people get older they have hearing problems. They may mistake words in a conversation, miss musical notes at a concert, or leave a ringing doorbell unanswered. Hearing problems can be small (missing certain sounds) or large (more serious deafness). However, one can get help. Special training, hearing aids, certain medicines, and surgery are some of the choices that help people with hearing problems.
Are there any benefits to ageing?
Ageing men and women face many changes mentally, physically, and emotionally. Many of these changes offer new opportunities in life and a new outlook. It is important to maintain an optimistic and active life-style. There are many ageing societies, which help seniors remain active and involved.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Grilled Eggplant and Basil Goat Cheese Panini Recipe - 4 Points

Grilled Eggplant with Basil Goat Cheese Recipe

Grilled Eggplant Panini Recipe with Basil Goat Cheese

- 8 slices whole-wheat, light bread (I used Sara Lee Delightful)
- 8 1/2-inch slices eggplant, (about 1 small)
- 4oz goat cheese, softened at room temperature
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1 garlic glove, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled and quartered
- 4 slices red onion
- 4 leaves romaine lettuce
Preheat grill or Panini press to a medium-high. Combine goat cheese, basil and garlic in a small bowl. Lightly spray both sides both sides of eggplant with non fat cooking spray and sprinkle each slice with salt. Then lightly spray each slice of bread with the cooking spray. Grill the eggplant for 6 minutes, turn with a spatula, and continue grilling until the the eggplant is tender, about 4 minutes more. Toast the bread on the grill, 1 to 2 minutes per side. To assemble sandwiches: Spread basil goat cheese on four slices of bread. Top with the eggplant, red peppers, onion, lettuce and the remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve warm.
Entire recipe makes 4 servings
Serving size is 1 sandwich
Each serving = 4 Points +
PER SERVING: 225 calories; 9g fat; 14g carbohydrates; 12g protein; 7g fiber

Basil Chicken Recipe - 6 Point Value

Basil Chicken Recipe

4 whole skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon basil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 whole green pepper – sliced
To begin the process of making this low fat crock pot recipe, you must place first the skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot. The chicken should then be sprinkled with fresh basil, salt and pepper and soy sauce. Then pour the cream of celery soup over the chicken breasts. Next, slice the green pepper and place it on top of the chicken that is covered with the cream of celery soup. Cover the crock pot and let it cook for approximately six to eight hours.
Serving Size: 1 chicken breast; Per Serving: 287 Calories; 4g Fat; 55g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 141mg, Cholesterol; 391mg Sodium.

Lemon Garlic Chicken Crock Pot Recipe - 3 Point Total

Lemon Garlic Chicken

- 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup lemon pepper seasoning
- 4 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tsp lemon zest
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Mix together the lemon pepper seasoning, paprika and salt. Coat the chicken with the spice mixture. Place the coated chicken in the crock pot and cover with the fat free chicken broth, garlic cloves, parsley and onions and lemon zest. Cook on low heat for about 3-4 hours (or until done).
Entire recipe makes 8 servings
Serving size is 1 breast, with approx 4 tbsp of sauce
Each serving = 3 Point Total

Weight Watcher Cajun Chicken Wrap Recipe

4th of July Chicken Wrap Cajun Style

3/4 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips3 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
4 medium tortillas, flour, fat-free
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 small onion(s), red, thinly sliced
1 tsp paprika
2 cup mixed baby greens
3 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
8 medium basil, leaves
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
4 tsp fat-free mayonnaise
1 small tomato cut into strips
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the 3 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, paprika and flour. Season chicken with salt and pepper and coat with seasoning mixture. Spray a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, add chicken to pan and sauté until cooked through (approximately about 1 to 2 minutes per side). Remove chicken from heat and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning for the dressing. On each tortilla, spread 1 teaspoon dressing, add greens, onion slices, two basil leaves and some slices of tomatoes. Top with chicken pieces and wrap. Enjoy!
Serves 4.
Each serving = 3 Point Value

Tips to reduce facial fat

Have a diet rich in fruits
Have a diet rich in fruits
Eat fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts and seeds daily. Raw nutrients help reverse aging, clean up your gut, detoxify your liver, fight diseases, metabolise excess fat, lessen stress, help build muscle mass and promote healthy sleep.

Exercise regularly
Regular exercising helps unclog your skin's pores and promote circulation, giving your face a healthy flush of color.

Reduce alcohol consumption
It can also add inches to your belly and under your chin because one gram of alcohol contains seven calories! So you should reduce the intake of alcohol consumption in order to lessen facial fat.

Watch your calcium intake
Watch your calcium intake
Scientific studies have proven that taking at least 1200 milligrams of calcium from dairy sources (milk, curd etc.) can help reduce fat.

Burn more calories
You have to burn more calories than you consume. Easiest and healthiest way to burn extra calories is exercising. You can burn 250 calories by just walking for a 20 minutes.

Drink lots of water
Drink lots of water
Keeping the body hydrated helps prevent bloating. So, have at least 8 glasses of water daily. Use plain water instead of soda or carbonated drinks.

Increase fruit and vegetable intake
Increase fruit and vegetable intake
Try to include 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet daily. This will act as natural filler thus keeping you away from junk food. Go for fruit salad instead of a thick chocolate bar.

Control your salt intake
Avoid all such foods as are loaded with high sodium content Junk food like pizzas, chips, burgers are high in sodium. Sodium causes water retention and excess facial fat.

Facial Massage
Try performing facial massage to firm up your cheeks, chins and face muscles. It will remarkably reduce mass from your face.

Adequate sleep
Lack of sleep and too much stress are also responsible for facial fat. So try to sleep on time for 7 to 8 hours and exercise to manage stress to keep facial fat at bay.

Habits that make you fat

Watching TV
Watching TV

Research has proved that those who spend prolonged hours in front of the TV tend to be overweight than those who don't. This is because when you watch TV, you are motionless, don't burn any calories and hence screen time kills the time you can spend for physical activities like exercising.

Eating too fast
Eating too fast

It takes the brain about 15-20 minutes to start signaling feelings of fullness and eating fast lets you eat too much before you are fully aware of it.

Eating while working on computer
Eating while working on computer
People often have snacks while working in front of the computer, driving, watching TV, or standing at the kitchen counter, shopping with a friend, or talking on the phone and one doesn't really realize how much one is eating while doing these activities simultaneously.

Junk food dependence
Junk food dependence
Most working people are too busy to make healthy dinners at home and thus opt to get fast food at the nearest drive-thru instead. Junk food has zero nutritive value and just adds up extra calories to your diet.

Eating to manage feelings
Eating to manage feelings
People tend to overeat when they too feel happy, too sad, excited, nervous, lonely or depressed. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions, resulting in being overweight.

No exercise
No exercise
Not exercising is one of the very obvious reasons for gaining weight. From sitting in traffic, clocking hours at our desks, and plopping in front of the TV in exhaustion at the end of the day, exercise often goes by the wayside.

Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep
Sleep deprivation can raise your odds of obesity by boosting ghrelin (an appetite stimulating hormone) and lowering leptin (an appetite suppressor). So, make it a point to get at least 6 – 7 hours of sound sleep every night

No idea of calories
No idea of calories
Many people eat with no idea of the calorie or fat value. This leads to weight gain because you can easily consume twice the normal amount required to maintain your weight, let alone lose weight.

Missing meals
Missing meals
Numerous studies have proved that those who have a healthy breakfast are less likely to be overweight, and that morning meals seem to help those who've lost weight to keep it off.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


How to Clean Strawberriesthumbnailbaskets of fresh strawberries

How to Clean Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits. Yet, many people have no idea how to properly clean this tasty berry. If you don't take time to learn how to clean this fruit, you will be wasting a lot of money. Once you learn the proper technique though, your strawberries will last longer and taste even better.


    • 1
      Wet a cloth or paper towel. Many people are under the misconception that you can clean strawberries by simply running them under water. With strawberries though, you need to clean them with a damp cloth or paper towel. This ensures that the berries are as clean as possible.
    • 2
      Gently wipe each strawberry with a damp cloth or paper towel. This process does take a bit of time, but it ensures that every speck of dirt is removed.
    • 3
      Cut the tops off the strawberries. Unless you're going to be using your strawberries for chocolate dipped berries, you will want to go ahead and cut the tops off. The leaves are almost impossible to get clean and this makes it easier when it comes time to slice the berries later on.
    • 4
      Remove any bad spots. Even the freshest pound of berries will have a blemish or two. While cutting the tops off, cut away any bad spots that you see. This will include any dark red or mushy spots.

Tomato Chutney


  1. Wash the dal and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the washed dal and stir till it becomes golden brown in colour.
  3. Add the onion, curry leaves, red chillies, turmeric powder and asafoetida and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Then add the chopped tomatoes and fry for about 5 minutes to soften them.
  5. Remove from the fire and cool to room temperature.
  6. Put the tomato mixture in a blender, add salt and a little water and grind to a coarse paste.
  7. Prepare the tempering by heating the oil in a small bowl and adding the mustard seeds and red chillies and frying till the seeds crackle.
  8. Pour the tempering over the chutney and mix well.
  9. Refrigerate and use as required.

Fresh Garlic Chutney


1 cup roughly chopped garlic (lehsun)
2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp tamarind (imli)
1 tbsp coriander (dhania) powder
1/2 lemon
salt to taste


  1. Combine all the ingredients and blend in a mixer to a smooth paste, adding ¼ cup of water.
  2. Use as required.

Cucumber Pineapple Salad

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Makes 4 servings


2 1/2 cups sliced cucumber
1 cup sliced pineapple
1 cup shredded spinach (palak)

To Be Mixed Into A Dressing
1/2 cup thick low fat curds , beaten
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely chopped celery
salt and freshly ground black pepper powderto taste


  1. Combine the cucumber, pineapple and spinach together in a bowl and refrigerate to chill.
  2. Refrigerate the dressing to chill.
  3. Just before serving add the dressing and toss well. Serve chilled

Mini Spinach Quiche

 Use the directions  to adapt the recipe to mini spinach quiche.

Spinach Quiche
Makes two quiches
1 package Pillsbury rolled pie crusts (2 crusts)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup low-calorie mayo
2 tbsp. self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
1 large onion, chopped
16 oz. bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed off
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll each pie crust, and press each evenly into a glass 9.5-inch pie plate. Set aside.
Mix together the eggs, mayo, flour, milk, cheese, and onion. Add the spinach, and mix well. (Add a little more milk if the consistency is too thick. It should be a little runny.) Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.
Pour half of the mixture into each pie crust. Roll the edges of the pie crust down to the edge of the quiche mixture and press into place. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Beetroot salad, garlic-herb chicken

Beetroot Salad
Beetroot contains no fat, has very few calories and is a great source of fibre. In accompaniment with carrots it has an enhanced vitamin-A content. All these bright colors make this dish rich in anti-oxidants. This can make an excellent snack of under 100 calories (when made without olive oil).

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 medium Beetroots washed
2 carrots
Iceberg Lettuce
Handful fresh Mint
Lime juice
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

  • Cook beetroots in the microwave till they are slightly cooked but still have their crunch. Peel and julienne.
  • Peel carrots and julienne as well. Mix with beetroot sticks.
  • Add salt, pepper and lime juice and mix well. Can add a drizzle of olive oil but it taste just as good without.
  • Serve over bed of lettuce.                                                    

Garlic Herb Chicken

Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 Chicken drumsticks
1 tbsp Olive oil
Garlic powder
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
Sprig of fresh Chives
Lime juice and rind of 1 lime

  • In a small bowl mix together all ingredients for the marinade.
  • Wash the drumsticks and remove the skin. Give a few diagonal slits.
  • Smear the marinade all over the drumsticks and let it marinate for at least 4-5 hours.
  • Grill chicken turning once till it browns evenly and is cooked thru reaching an internal temperature of 74C.