5 delicious ways to use Avocado | Recipe for Avocado on Toast

One of the advantages of living in Bangalore (apart from the weather, that is) is that we do get a steady supply of good quality avocados here. They are also called butter fruit locally, because the pulp is like butter when mashed. Although high in calories, the fruit is packed with 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that it is considered a nutrient-dense food. It also has a very low glycemic index (GI) making is suitable for diabetics.

For the longest time, I was an avocado ignoramus. It's almost impossible to find perfectly ripe avocados in the supermarket. The ones I would buy would be hard as nails. I would put them in the fridge only to be discarded in a week. And then, I learnt from a friend on how to get perfectly ripe avocados. Wrap each one in a newspaper and place it in a fruit basket with apples, bananas or any other fruits (ripe bananas and apples release ethylene which naturally ripens the avocados). Each day, check on the fruit by lightly pressing it, once the flesh feels a little soft and yielding, it is ripe for use. At this point you can either use it straight away or refrigerate it for 1-2 days and use it. Do remember to keep checking though, or you could end up with an overripe mess in the fruit basket, if you let things go too far.
Now that life has given you a perfectly ripe avocados, here are a few delicious ways you can use it.

1. Guacamole - A universally loved Mexican dip, a healthy partner to chips, I can go through a big bowl of this even before someone says 'guacamole'. Traditionally made with a mortar-pestle, it goes well with chips of any kind, and as a condiment with quesadillas.
Mash up avocado with a fork, immediately adding some lemon juice to retain its green colour. Add salt, cumin powder and mix well. Fold in finely chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander, jalapeños. Top with some more lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Serve with chips.

2. Salad - Avocados go well in any green salad, but especially so in a Mexican style corn and bean salad, where you can use cooked corn kernels, cooked beans, onions, tomatoes, coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, jalapeños and lots of lemon juice. Toss in diced avocados coated with lemon juice towards the end. You can eat this by itself, or as a salsa or to top nachos.

3. Smoothies - Green smoothies are the current rage. Adding half an avocado to your green smoothie gives you a boost of healthy fats, while making the smoothie creamy and thick. A good combination of ingredients to go with this is frozen banana, avocado, vanilla flavoured whey protein or yogurt and honey for a sweet smoothie. A savoury smoothie would work well too - just blend avocado, diced cucumber, mint, ginger, salt and yogurt with ice.

4. Avocado and eggs - Instead of the regular egg salad sandwich, try the egg avocado sandwich. Toss chopped boiled eggs in mashed and seasoned avocados, use as a sandwich filling. Creamy mashed avocado can also be used as a filling for devilled eggs.

5. Avocado on toast - This Smørrebrød inspired open sandwich has mashed avocado on whole grain bread with a few other toppings to make a quick healthy snack or a dainty brunch item.

Recipe for Avocado on Toast
Time taken: Under 15 minutes
Serves 2

4 slices of bread, whole grain or rye
3 garlic cloves 
1 ripe avocado 
1 lemon 
pinch of salt 
3-4 pickled gherkins, sliced (or use sliced olives)
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp feta cheese
black pepper
few fresh mint leaves

Toast the slices of bread either in a toaster, oven or on a skillet over low flame until crisp and golden. Cut each into two halves.
Rub one side of the toasted bread, when still hot, with the garlic clove.
Scoop out half a ripe avocado in a small bowl, add lemon juice, salt and mash with a fork.
Spread this over the garlic rubbed side of the toasts.
Top with halved cherry tomatoes, sliced gherkins/olives, mint leaves and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.
Eat/serve immediately.

This was first published in Huffington Post, India.

Eggless Chocolate Muffins in Airfryer

If you haven't made these chocolate muffins in your airfryer, you are missing out on something! Most people I know only use it to make fries or snacks from the ready frozen packets of food - be it fries or poppers. While that is great, you are not exploiting the full potential of this machine :) I absolutely love this for super fast baking too!

Check this recipe for savoury carrot and herb muffins made in airfryer I had shared on my blog earlier.

We have two ovens but when I want to bake something real quick, or bake a small batch, the airfryer comes super handy. One, it preheats very quickly and two, the baking time is much reduced too. The drawback is you can make only 4-5 muffins or cupcakes or a small cake at one time, but hey I did say 'small batches' :)

With this machine on hand, it doesn't feel daunting to bake at 6 in the morning on a school day and a batch of muffins sorts out the after school snack or lunchbox treat for my kid for 5 days. That's how we multitasking mums roll, baby! Make every little effort go a long way ;)

So here's the recipe for eggless chocolate / chocochip muffins made in the airfryer. These can very well be baked in a convection oven / OTG too.

A photo posted by Nandita Iyer (@saffrontrail) on
RECIPE: Eggles Chocochip Muffins in Airfryer
Makes 6 muffins
Time taken: 15 minutes

silicone muffin moulds 

1/2 cup self raising flour (or use 1/2 cup all purpose flour + half tsp baking powder + pinch of salt) [scoop out 1 tbsp flour from this, so you need 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp]
1 tbsp Nesquik or cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp yogurt
4 tbsp milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or regular vinegar)
2 tbsp chocolate chips


  1. Preheat airfryer at 200°C.
  2. Remove 1 tbsp flour from the 1/2 cup flour and add 1 tbsp of cocoa powder or Nesquick. This is to make sure that the total dry component is 1/2 cup. Add baking powder and salt, in case you are using plain flour and not self raising flour.
  3. Add baking soda, sugar and combine with a fork.
  4. In a measuring jug or small bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, oil and vanilla extract until combined.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Add the vinegar.
  6. Stir to combine. Do not over mix, a few lumps of flour are ok at this stage. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon the mix into 6 silicone cupcake / muffin moulds
  8. Place 4 at a time in the wire basket of the preheated airfryer.
  9. Set timer at 8 minutes, after which you can insert a skewer / tester to see if it comes out clean. You can keep the second batch to bake at this point.
  10. Remove and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from moulds and serve or store in airtight container in refrigerator.
  11. You can store this for 4-5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight box.
To bake in convection oven, you can use a muffin tin lined with paper liners and bake all six at one go. Preheat to 180°C and bake for 15 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

You can read my experience with Philips airfryer in detail here. 

Disclaimer: Please note that this post may have affiliate links and Saffron Trail will earn a small commission if you purchase the product from these links. I will only recommend products that I use personally and trust for my family.

Breakfast Parfait with Mango Yogurt

breakfast parfait, parfait, muesli, yogurt, breakfast
Aam Doi Breakfast Parfait
A breakfast parfait is a breakfast in a glass that brings together yogurt, fruit and muesli. Perfect, right? Well, that what it means in French - parfait=perfect. Typically a frozen dessert made using eggs, cream and sugar syrup, dating back to 1894, this breakfast parfait contains none of the above.

You can create your own versions of breakfast parfaits using seasonal fruits, plain or fruit yogurts and cereal / granola / muesli of choice. Sprinkling the parfait with a few toasted nuts, dried fruit or seeds, adds to the flavour and crunch. Diabetics can use plain unsweetened yogurt. A breakfast parfait gives a good mix of protein, fiber, calcium, carbs and anti-oxidants to start the day.

breakfast parfait, parfait, muesli, yogurt, breakfast
Ingredients for the Mango Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

This parfait is made using Mother Dairy Aam Doi which is a thick mango yogurt, muesli, chopped bananas, pomegranates and toasted sesame seeds. If you don'd find the ready mango yogurt, you can make some by placing plain yogurt overnight in a muslin covered sieve inside a refrigerator and mixing some mango pulp into it just before assembling the parfait.

breakfast parfait, parfait, muesli, yogurt, breakfast

Recipe for Breakfast Parfait with Mango yogurt
Makes 2
Time taken: Under 15 minutes

2 glasses to serve

2 tubs Mother Dairy Aam Doi (Mango yogurt)
3/4 cup muesli or broken granola bars
2 small bananas, diced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
handful of mixed dried fruit (the muesli I used already had this)
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Place a layer of muesli in each glass. 
Remove the mango yogurt in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until smooth.
Place 2 tbsp of whisked mango yogurt over the muesli in each glass.
Top with a spoonful of fruit.
Repeat the layers and top with dried fruits and toasted sesame seeds.
Serve immediately as the muesli will lose its crunch.

This post is the final recipe in the Mother Dairy #summerofhappiness series. 
Do check Chef Vikas Khanna's recipe - Aam Doi Cheesecake using Mother Dairy Aam Doi and take part in the Summer of Happiness Challenge, creating a recipe like I have with one of the Mother Dairy products listed on their website and you have a chance to WIN! Details on summerofhappiness.in 

Do check out my other posts in the series #summerofhappiness:
Pahari Aloo Palda
Mango Lassi Frozen Yogurt
Mishti Doi Banoffee Pie
Savoury Green Smoothie
Grilled Paneer Salad with mango and baby spinach
Triple Blueberry Pancakes

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Nutrition: What You Should Eat: Decoding The Indian Plate

If most international diet guidelines leave you scratching your head and wondering where your dal, roti, sabzi and mithai fit in, use this guide to ensure that you're filling your plate with the best possible foods. 

Know your carbs
If there is something an average Indian meal is abundant in, it is carbs thanks to rice,roti, root vegetables and possibly a sweet on the plate. According to Dietary Guidelines for Indians, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad (NIN), in India, 70-80% of total dietary calories are derived from carbohydrates present in plant foods such as cereals, millets and pulses. In this case, the quality of carbs matters more than the quantity. Grains, sugar, fibre, all contribute to the carbohydrate pool.
Eating whole grains ensures that the entire grain kernel is being consumed - bran, germ and endosperm. This not only makes it more nutritious but also gives you more fibre than a refined grain product, making every calorie from the carbohydrate count towards your health. Most health benefits come from the antioxidants and fibre -- some of them being cardiovascular health, lowered blood pressure, cancer protection, diabetes, gastrointestinal health and protection from age-related vision problems.
Best to eat: Whole wheat, unpolished rice, barley, millets, buckwheat, cooked beans, vegetables etc.
How much: As per the WHO Scientific Update on carbohydrates in human nutrition, "...at least 55% of total energy should be provided from a variety of carbohydrate sources, regardless of the nature of the dietary pattern". As per theHealthy Eating Plate created by the Harvard School of Public Health, a quarter of the plate should be filled with carbs in form of whole grains.

Protein power
Protein makes up about 75% of the body's dry weight - hair, skin, cartilage, muscle, bone, organs. Protein, therefore, is a vital part of your diet. Most vegetarian protein sources also contain carbohydrates but most of them are low GI foods, which means they will not raise your blood sugar rapidly. The protein and fibre present along with the carbs lead to a slow rise in the sugars.
"To sum up, as per the Healthy Eating Plate, half the plate should be reserved for vegetables and fruits - with a focus on non-starchy vegetables, greens and fruits of different colours."
Proteins are complex molecules made up of different combinations of amino acids. Our body manufactures some amino acids, while some need to be supplied from the diet. These are called essential amino acids. A special note on glutamine and glutamate here, as they have been in the news currently in relation to their presence in processed foods. Glutamic acid is a non-essential amino acid (salt: glutamate), which is manufactured in the body. It is naturally occurring in foods in our daily diet such as mushrooms, milk, tomatoes and chicken. Glutamate is said to be responsible for "umami", which is known as the fifth food flavour after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. What is popularly known as MSG, is a sodium salt of glutamate. A Japanese chemist first isolated it in the early 20th century.
Some like glutamine are called 'conditionally essential' becoming essential when there is severe injury or illness. Dietary sources of glutamine include whey protein, cheese, dried lentils, meat, fish and cabbage, among others.
Animal proteins deliver all essential amino acids while plant proteins are usually short of one of more amino acids, making them an "incomplete protein". The good news is that a variety of plant proteins can be combined in the daily diet to get all the essential amino acids. While carbohydrates and fats are stored in the body, amino acids need to be supplied on a daily basis via protein intake.
Best to eat: Fish, poultry, beans, nuts, lean meats, tofu, soya chunks, dairy products, lentils
How much: As per The Healthy Eating Plate, 1/4th of your plate, or 10-15% of your daily calorie intake according to NIN. This makes it around 37.5-56 grams of protein in a day for a person on a 1500 calorie diet.

Fat Facts
The Nutrition Source (Harvard University) recommends usage of plant-based oils, which are unsaturated fats, avoiding transfats (no partially hydrogenated oils) and including one source of omega 3, which is an essential fatty acid -- think fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseed. A new meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine has questioned the benefit of eating a low-fat diet, as it increases the consumption of carbs and processed low-fat alternatives. In June 2015, the US FDA has gone ahead with a ban on artificial transfats ie. partially hydrogenated oils, giving companies time until 2018 to do away with it altogether.
Best to eat: Plant based oils, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, butter & ghee in moderation
How much: 20-30% of daily calorie intake, as per NIN.

Vitamins and minerals form this component of your diet. While they don't have to be included separately, focusing on adding enough colours to the plate via fruits and vegetables more or less covers this requirement.
Vitamin C, E and beta carotene are antioxidants preventing cellular damage, along with selenium, manganese. Iron, calcium, zinc are some of the essential minerals.
Best to eat:: Fruits and veg of different colours, green leafy veg.
How much: Five-seven servings of fruit and veg in a day, one multivitamin pill for those whose diet is not optimum.

To sum up, as per the Healthy Eating Plate, half the plate should be reserved for vegetables and fruits - with a focus on non-starchy vegetables, greens and fruits of different colours. One quarter of the plate should contain protein such as fish, poultry, beans and nuts; red meat and cheese should be consumed in moderation, and processed meats are best avoided. The remaining quarter is for carbohydrates -- all whole grains, limiting refined carbs to a minimum. There is no upper limit on healthy fats such as liquid oils, butter in moderation; avoid transfats completely.
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