Fruity Veggie Bundles Recipe with Yogurt Ranch Dressing – By Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

FRUITY VEGGIE BUNDLES WITH YOGURT RANCH DRESSING (SERVES 2)      

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Ingredients:

For Dressing

  • 60 ml Plain Yogurt
  • 30 ml Buttermilk
  • 20 g Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 5 ml Lemon Juice
  • 5 g Parsley (finely chopped)
  • 5 g Salt
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 g Dijon Mustard

For Bundles

  • 4 outer Romaine Lettuce Leaves
  • 50 g Cucumber
  • 50 g Tomatoes
  • 50 g Beans
  • 50 g Carrots
  • 50 g Yellow Pepper
  • 50 g Pineapple
  • 50 g Orange
  • 2 g Salt
  • 2 g Pepper

Method:

For Dressing

  • Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake well until uniform.
  • Alternatively, you can combine all ingredients in a food processor/blender and pulse until it is uniform and smooth.

For Bundles

  • Separate 4 outer Romaine Lettuce leaves and trim the ends if they seem too long.
  • Fill the center of the leaf, along the rib, with thinly chopped strips of cucumber, tomatoes, beans, carrot, peppers, pineapple, and orange wedges.
  • Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Roll up the leaf and secure with a tie or parsley leaf that is long enough.
  • Serve with yogurt ranch dressing.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

Serving Size: 2 Bundles with 50 g Dressing

  • Calories: 86 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 16.8 g
  • Fiber: 2.7 g
  • Sugar: Nil
  • Protein: 3.5 g
  • Fat: 1.8 g
  • Iron: 2.7 mg
  • Calcium: 140.4 mg
  • Sodium: 1429.3 mg

The Untold Tales of Millets

Ever come across the story of the murder of millets? Yes indeed, millets were a part of our country’s staple food. However, with the advent of polished rice, wheat, and their processed descendants, millets are no longer a part of the picture.

Sadly, this acclimatization has lead to a plethora of health disorders and diseases like diabetes, obesity, and blood pressure which seem to prevail in a widespread manner. It’s time to bid adieu and break the unhealthy trend, and who better than our children to start and set the right trend.

“Did you know that millets are much superior to rice and wheat when it comes to protein, fiber, and mineral content?”

Millets could be the best bet to keep children on high-energy mode since they are said to be high-energy nutritious food and an excellent source of B-vitamins. While the protein of baragu (Proso Millet) ensures optimal growth in children, the calcium content of ragi (Finger Millet) strengthens the children’s bones and teeth.

“Each one of the millets has more fibre than rice and wheat. Ragi (finger millet has thirty times more calcium than rice while every other millet has at least twice the amount of calcium compared to rice.”

Research shows that a jowar (Sorghum Millet) rich diet improves growth and positively affects the hemoglobin, folic acid, vitamin A, iron and calcium content in school going children. Those hunger pangs can be saved for later since the high fiber content of millets gives children a feeling of fullness and as a plus point prevents over-eating.

Millets are not only easy to digest but also offer healing action in cases of gastrointestinal inflammation and ulceration. This gluten-free grain is the mantra for children struggling with gluten related health issues like celiac disease. Additionally, consumption of millets notably cuts down the incidence of wheezing and asthma in children.

Loaded with phytochemicals, millets provide the antioxidants that keep the body’s immune system at its peak. Not only do fermented millet products act as natural probiotics but millets’ whole grain also shows pre-biotic activity, boosting the population of friendly bacteria that play a key role to promote digestion.

Although it would be nice to say that millets are synonymous to perfection, they do contain anti-nutrients. The proportions of these anti-nutrients can be cut down by simple food processing techniques like decortication, germination, malting, and fermentation.

Last but not the least, here’s another bonus – with the monsoon setting in, get set to include millets in your children’s diet because it is a warming grain that will help to heat the body in cold or rainy seasons and climates!

Bircher Muesli with Apple & Banana – By Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

Bircher Muesli with Apple & Banana (Serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • 50 g Red Apple (peeled and grated)
  • Half medium-sized Banana (sliced)
  • 50 g Yogurt
  • 50ml Cold Water
  • 25 g Oats
  • 7 g Chia seeds
  • 7 g Almond (chopped)
  • 1 g Cinnamon

Method:

  • In a bowl mix grated apple, oats, chia seeds, half the quantity of chopped almonds and cinnamon.
  • Stir in the yogurt and cold water, mix well, cover and chill overnight.
  • Spoon the muesli into bowls and top with sliced banana.
  • Garnish with the remaining almond slivers and serve

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

  • Calories: 257 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 34.4 g
  • Fiber: 4.4 g
  • Sugar:  Nil
  • Protein: 7.9 g
  • Fat: 10.9 g
  • Iron: 2.7 mg
  • Calcium: 166 mg
  • Sodium: 15.2 mg

Resurgence of the Humble Coconut

Case # 101: Coconut Chaos

A couple of decades earlier, under Section 111 of the health & nutrition penal code, coconut was defamed and found to be guilty of contributing to ill health because of its high saturated fat content. The accused was thus sentenced to a lifetime banishment from plates across India.

Now, wait let’s crack open this case.

Is coconut really guilty of all the heinous crimes that it was convicted of? Definitely not! Let’s look at why the coconut is back with a bang.

Every part of the humble coconut; be it the coconut meat called copra, water (tender coconut water), milk or oil, has nourished Indians long long before the West became interested in it. However, all of a sudden the coconut was condemned as its oil was touted as an artery clogger due to its saturated fat content. Consequently, the coconut pretty much became extinct from Indian food plates.

It is not hard to see that the accused was framed for the crime of his evil twin – the hydrogenated coconut oil. This fellow creates health havocs with trans fat. The refined coconut oil too, which is extracted from chemically bleached and deodorized coconut meat, is equally bad.

On the other hand, unrefined, virgin coconut oil does contain saturated fat, but of the good kind. It mainly contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that boost metabolism and increases satiety. One of the main MCTs in coconut oil, Lauric acid, offers antimicrobial action and surprise, surprise coconut oil actually improves heart-related risk factors like cholesterol and triglycerides. Coconut oil also nourishes the hair and skin and is found beneficial for brain disorders and diabetes.

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But why just look at the oil. The tender coconut water is a natural thirst quencher that effectively replenishes fluids and electrolytes. In fact, it is comparable to sports beverages. Coconut water is also said to help with the battle against diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney stones. But again not the one from bottled or branded water with added sugar, sweeteners or flavors but the natural and fresh form. And last but not the least, coconut milk whose benefits parallel that of the oil.

Why leave the fresh coconut meat? Did you know that that the fresh coconut meat contains a huge amount of fiber? 100g of fresh coconut kernel contains nearly 11 g of fiber which is about half your daily requirement of fiber!

If coconut was as bad as it was portrayed then certain populations who survived purely on coconut should have been sick because of it. But that’s not the case, if you don’t believe our ancestors, especially the South Indians then turn the globe and have a look at the Tokelauans and the Kitavans. It’s just that we forgot the other elements that contributed to ill health.

So in a nutshell, the coconut was just a victim of scattered anecdotal evidence and hearsay and now thanks to sound scientific evidence, it has made an envious-worthy come back rising above all the damning accusations.

Case closed! 

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and/or diet.

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes – By Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes (Serves 4)

Ingredients

4 Medium Potatoes

50 g – Grated cheddar

100g – Sweetcorn

100g – Finely chopped bell peppers

A small bunch of Fresh basil

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 180°C and bake the potatoes for about 1 hour until cooked and the skins are crispy. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • To stuff the jacket potatoes, heat the oven to 180° Cut the potatoes in half. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the middle of the potato, leaving the skin unbroken (like a boat). Place the scooped potato into a mixing bowl.
  • Using a fork, mash the potato until there are no lumps. Add the cheese, sweetcorn, peppers and mix well.
  • Gently pick the leaves from the Basil. Chop/tear into smaller pieces and stir into the cheesy potato mixture.
  • Using a spoon, carefully scoop the mixture back into the potato boats. Make sure that you use all the mixture up.
  • Sprinkle little extra grated cheese and place on a baking tray. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 10-15 mins until golden, and serve hot.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

Serving size: 2 potato halves

Calories: 162.8 kcal

Carbohydrate: 25.7 g

Fiber: 1.3 g

Sugar: 0.06 g

Protein: 5.6 g

Fat: 4.5 g

Iron: 0.6 mg

Calcium: 13.5 mg

Sodium: 87.25 mg

Make Sure Your Budding Athlete Eats Like A Champion

Being on top of the game doesn’t just require the best gear and right training but it’s also about being prepared inside out. It is incorrect to think that nutrition aimed at enhancing performance on the athletic field is only the prerogative of professional athletes.  Whether your kids are competitive athletes or weekend warriors, athletic performance is at its best only with the right nutrition.

Successful sports training and stellar performance come with adequate calorie intake to support energy expenditure and maintain strength, endurance, muscle mass and overall health. Briefly, nutrients that are important for your little athlete are iron, calcium, potassium, high glycemic carbs, and protein.

Why is nutrition important?

The muscle needs food to exercise. So it first uses its own store of glucose (called glycogen) followed by the liver’s store. However, when the sport requires repeated bursts of energy or energy over an extended period of time, the glycogen stores run out. This results in muscle fatigue (commonly called “hitting the wall”) and the athletes either have to stop or drastically reduce the pace.

Therefore, a pre-exercise meal is of utmost importance as it helps prevent the young sportsman from going hungry during the exercise bout and also maintains the blood glucose levels for the muscle to keep recharging itself through the activity.

So, the key to stamina and endurance is to include carbohydrates which release glucose slowly and therefore last over the entire exercise period. So is a glass of milk, a banana or a fistful of dry fruits enough? Not really!

Food choices should be high in complex carbohydrate (high-glycemic), low in fat and moderate in protein. Make sure to fuel your child with a fiber rich mixed millet milk porridge sweetened with jaggery or date syrup or a couple of oat idlis with a glass of milk.

Even a boiled potato whole wheat sandwich with a glass of milk can do wonders for your child’s game. Make sure to avoid high-fat foods as they may cause stomach discomfort.

During exercise, hydration is the mantra. In the absence of thirst, experts recommend that kids drink water or other fluids before beginning their activity and every 15 to 20 minutes during physical activity.

Coconut water, diluted juices, lemon juice, watermelon juice are superb choices. Sugary drinks and carbonated drinks are a strict no-no.

Last but not the least – nutrition post-exercise. Experts recommend that you feed your child carbs within 30 minutes after intense activity and again 2 hours later. Refueling with ample carbohydrates and moderate protein means you’re on the right track. But most of us take the wrong step here. Carbohydrates don’t equate to glucose alone, so loading up on glucose tablets or reaching out for off the shelf juices post exercise can harm the pancreas in the long run. This is because it is overworked in producing loads of insulin to deal with the glucose glut.

Ideal food would be high-glycemic foods like millets, brown rice and lean meat, boiled chicken or whole pulses along with some fat like butter, ghee. It’s important that the post-activity meal be a balance of protein, carbs, and fat.

Understanding young athlete’s nutrition requirement is quite tricky. So keep these tit-bits in mind and do reach out for professional help in managing their nutrition as it is very important in determining the course of their health and the game!

Quick & Easy Oats Peanut Butter Squares – By Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

Oats-Peanut Butter Squares (Serves 12)

Ingredients

220 g – Oats, dry

180 g – Crispy Wheat cereal

80 g – Peanut butter

1/2 cup – Natural honey

1 tsp – Vanilla extract

Directions

  • Grind oats into flour and pour into a bowl. Add crispy wheat cereal to the flour.
  • Prepare a pan by greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.
  • In a small sauce pan add peanut butter and honey. Melt together over medium heat and stir to form a uniform blend.
  • Pour the peanut butter and honey mix onto the dry ingredients and stir. Dump into prepared pan and firmly press into pan.
  • Cool in fridge for at least 25 minutes and evenly cut into 12 squares, and serve.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

Serving size: 1 square

Calories: 200 kcal

Carbohydrate: 34.3g

Fiber: 2.9 g

Sugar: 14.8 g

Protein: 4.4 g

Fat: 4.7 g

Iron: 0.7 mg

Calcium: 0.4 mg

Sodium: 0.67 mg

Festival Special – Deciphering Modaks

Come festival time, we always celebrate and rejoice with a wide spread of traditional dishes dedicated to that occasion. Ganesh Chaturthi is one such occasion celebrated with Modaks among other foods.

Modaks are dumplings made across India in various sweet and savory variations, although the sweet variant is more popular. The modak can either be steamed or deep fried.

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Known by various names, these dumplings are called modak in Marathi, Konkani and in Gujarati languages. Kozhakkatta in Malayalam. Modhaka or Kadubu in Kannada. Modhakam or Kozhakkattai in Tamil and Kudumu in Telugu.

Although there are many modern innovations, the classic modak includes a rice flour or maida (refined flour) dough with a jaggery/sugar and coconut filling. Most of the times the steamed modaks are placed in vessels but they may also be steamed in turmeric or jackfruit leaves. The stuffing can include:

  • Toor dal, jaggery, and fresh coconut
  • Jaggery, til/sesame seeds, fresh coconut
  • Channa dal, coriander leaves, dill/shepu leaves, mint leaves and green chilies (savory)

The deep fried modaks are mostly made with maida flour and can have a variety of fillings like:

  • Toor dal, jaggery, and dry coconut
  • Jaggery, til/sesame seeds, and dry coconut
  • Roasted channa dal, sugar, dry coconut and dry fruits

Another regional variation is the besan modaks or steamed rice flour balls steeped in flavored coconut milk. The steamed modaks are served with ghee or coconut milk.

Apart from the classic modaks, the modern twists include the use of millet flour instead of rice flour. Fancy innovations include chocolate modaks, shrikhand modak, green peas modak, and the list is endless.

It’s not hard to see that what goes into making the traditional modaks is rich in energy, protein, and good fats. While the different dals prove to be good sources of protein, jaggery, coconut, til/sesame seeds and ghee are power packed and provide good fats as well.

The medium chain triglycerides or MCTs in coconut is said to boost metabolism and also help boost the body’s power to ward off infections, both beneficial for the winter/rainy season.

Ghee, on the other hand, is a concentrated source of energy and a rich source of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), a crucial element for brain development. It is also said that during the rainy season, the oils and fat help nourish the skin.

So go ahead and enjoy the modaks guilt free but remember moderation is key!

CELEBRATING FRIENDSHIP DAY, IN THE MOST MONKEYBOX WAY EVER!

Sure, Friendship Day falls on a Sunday, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate it at school. A few days before Friendship Day, we asked our little co-conspirators, i.e. the children who eat our meals every day to nominate 5 of their friends each for a Friendship Day Surprise. The nominations poured in, with heartening & sweet reasons why they nominated the friends they did. You can see a few responses below. This plot was open to all children in schools across Bengaluru.
And on Monday, 7th August 2017, our troops marched on and served free MonkeyBox meals to all the excited friends at school – made fresh, served warm. We, at MonkeyBox, are really grateful for this opportunity of not just making sure children get the healthiest, most nutritious food in school, but also that they get to show their friends how special they really are. That’s all for now! Watch this space for more.

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HOW THESE KIDS SURPRISED THEIR DADS ON FATHER’S DAY WILL MAKE YOU SMILE

On Father’s Day, kids do their best to show their dads that extra bit of love and appreciation. And since we directly interact with kids on a daily basis, we decided to help them out.

MonkeyBox delivers fresh, nutritious, and delicious meals to school kids during their mealtimes, every day, and is a refreshing alternative to the average tiffin box. So, a few days before Father’s Day, we slipped the following note into the kids’ MonkeyBoxes, inviting them to do something special for their dads.

 

Father's Day

We asked them to do something simple: write a special message to their dads on the note, and send it back to us in their empty MonkeyBoxes. Out of over 500 notes sent, we received an overwhelming number of responses from the kids. Take a look at some of the cutest ones below – believe us, we had a hard time picking!

 

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What happened next was a surprise for both the unsuspecting dads and their excited kids. We delivered the notes to the dads on Father’s Day! The end result was a large number of euphoric dads, and tons of brownie points scored for their kids at home. To us, that sounds like a mission well accomplished.

Out of the many hundreds, here are responses from some very surprised Dads.

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responssAt MonkeyBox, we know the things that make kids happy. And nothing makes them happy like seeing a smile on their parents’ faces. We hope this little surprise did just that and a little more.