Meethe Makhane | Jaggery Coated Fox Nuts & A Parfait


Phool makhana are one of my favorites. They are also known as lotus seeds or fox nuts. A versatile  sweet treat that is gluten free, low calorie, vegan and full of healthy nutrients. I have the savory version HERE  and a Kheer HERE.  These are very addictive but you can eat them free from all guilt. Add to vegetable curries, make desserts or munch on the savory snacks and if you have a sweet tooth like I do then make these gur ke makhane or jaggery coated makhana. These popped seeds are good to eat in fasting days too and provide instant energy. You can even give it to toddlers.

Popped Makhana is chewy but once nicely roasted it becomes crisp and nice.

 

One of the quickest snacks you can assemble. I won’t go into details of the benefits the two ingredients provide. Do Google it.

Here is how even a kid can make it in a jiffy.

Ingredients :

Fox Nuts | Makhana – 1 Cup

Organic or Chemical free Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery  – 1/4 Cup

Pure Ghee – 1 tbsp

Water – 1 tbsp

Cardamom | Til | Desiccated coconut – As per your choice ( I have not added anything here)

Steps – 

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add the popped Fox Nuts seeds. Roast them on low flame till they become crisp. Make sure to keep the flame low and do a finger test by breaking the makhana between two fingers. If done it will crumble nicely. If it doesn’t then roast a little more. Once roasted, take them out in a plate.

Toast the Til or desiccated coconut in the same pan if using and remove in a plate.

Add the jaggery powder with a tablespoon of water to the same pan and let it melt on low flame. Once the jaggery fully melts turn off the flame and add the roasted makhanas and the other ingredients if using. Stir to mix everything and let it cool in a large plate. Once the coated makhanas are cool enough to touch ( 5 minutes) separate them gently.

Store them in an airtight glass container and munch on these power snacks anytime.

You can caramelize the fox nuts with brown sugar or white sugar too but I prefer jaggery. Here I have used Organic jaggery from Monsoon Harvest Farms that was bought from Farmer Uncle . I mostly buy all my fruits and many of the other staples from them. Do take a look at their website.

The Parfait Story 

Now, I had never used caramelized makhana in a parfait.  Usually I just munch on them but this idea of substituting roasted beaten rice or Poha with fox nuts is by Sangeeta Khanna. I treasure her recipes and often look up for interesting combinations or tricks to make things better.

I make parfaits of all sorts with chilled home cultured curd. Adding, fruits, nuts, ramdana or popped amaranth seeds, roasted Poha or beaten rice flakes but this is by far the most delicious thing. The makhanas are a chewy swollen dumplings inside the smooth chilled home cultured curd. You can check the other Parfaits from the search bar but here is One of the recipes.

This is the first mango of the season. A little sour so it has given a unique flavor  the whole composition. The sweeter the fruit is the better. Eliminates the use of white sugar or any other sweetener. Just perfect for a quick breakfast.

Here’s how I made the Caramelized Fox Nuts and Mango Parfait.

Cube the best ripe mangoes (1-2) and chill. Whip and chill a cup full of homemade curd with a little honey or mango puree. I sometimes use hung curd too.

If you have the caramelized makhanas then you are ready to assemble but if you don’t then quickly caramelize them fist.

Now, take a glass and layer the curd, mango cubes and makhana till you reach the top.

Serve immediately.

I can’t tell you how delightful this tastes. Do try and let us know how it worked for you. You can caramelize a few makhanas in five minutes for this parfait so go for it.

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Taste Of Banaras At ThreeSixtyOne|The Oberoi Gurgaon


I am a big supporter of revival of regional, traditional cuisine and the use of indigenous ingredients in daily meals. When I came to know about Banaras Ka Khana Showcase at ThreeSixtyOne, The Oberoi Gurgaon, curated by Chef Ravitej Nath along with a dear friend, food consultant and writer Sangeeta Khanna, I did not want to miss this opportunity to taste the flavours of the temple town cuisine. My mother was born and brought up there and we decided to bring to her a part of her childhood and youth as a pre-birthday gift. She turns 84 on 31st March.Exif_JPEG_420

They say, when you strongly desire something the universe conspires to bring it to you. A contest won me ‘complimentary meal for two’ making the whole experience even more exciting.

Our Holi inspired Dinner began with Panchamrit which is offered to the devotees at Hindu temples as a blessing from the Gods. It is also used in many religeous rituals. The whiff of tulsi (Holi Basil) and the correct sweetness of milk and honey in the drink was a perfect beginning to what was going to be an unforgettable experience.  We forgot to take the picture of Panchamrit.

The street food or chaats of Banaras in the Chef’s tasting menu left us longing for more. As we dug into Tamatar ki chaat, Chivda matar, chenna ka dahi vada and sumptuous aaloo tikki accompanied with traditional aaloo papad and the four chutneys the first thing that came to mind was the  hot, sour, savoury notes of each dish perfectly balancing each other. Nothing was too overwhelming. Wadiyon ki chatney was an instant hit.

The sublime flavours enhanced the pleasure of eating. Ma promptly gave her seal of approval as she remembered her childhood spent in the lanes of the holy city exploring these very delicacies except the tamatar chaat.

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Sangeeta later told us how the flavours of Gujrat have influenced the local cuisine and why. No wonder the tamatar chaat made me think of a similar dish sev tamatar.ki sabzi. It is amazing to see how the food has interconnections with so many parts of India and not just the city of Varanasi itself.

I loved Harad ki papdi, fara, bajka, bhapouri and bhabra too. We make Bajka at home and call it Lobra. Long time ago in Banaras, Harad ka golgappa was served  to digest all the fantastic chaat that the chaat bhandars fed you and this Harad ki papdi was a perfect revival of that. Excellent in taste and texture.

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The khus ka sherbat, aam panna were delicious but the thandai with special hand crafted portion and pan cocktail made with fresh pan leaves and lemon won my heart. Nowhere can one find something so fantastic. Both the drinks were simply out of the world.

The chefs had divided street food and main course in two distinct segments and the drinks served with them complimented the food perfectly.

We loved the street food totally. My son had never tasted the Banaras cuisine so it was a  unique experience for him. He loved the moong beans filled aaloo tiki and chene ka dahi vada.

I knew that the banaras ki thali was going to be a big sumptuous affair so we lingered with the pan mocktail reminiscing about the city and its culture.

We got both non vegetarian and vegetarian thalis in main course.

The Vegetarian Thali 

The Breads 

I had the vegetarian Thali and was bowled over by matar ka nimona (crushed green peas cooked with ginger and coriander) , Gular ka chokha, aaloo chokha and kaddu ki sabzi. It was very much the ghar ka khana. Each dish balancing the taste of the other. I found the flat breads a bit hard and one of the littis was under-cooked but the rest of amazing.  The khade masale ka pulav, made with short grain aromatic rice called Zeerabutti, had such a sublime flavour it really blew my mind.

I was surprised to see mom relishing the meal with such gusto as she is a very small eater. The khoya, matar, makhane ki sabzi was a delight. I had never tasted it before but my ma gave it 10/10 in taste. She found it as authentic as it could be. The tempered moong daal was just as we make at home. Delicious, to say the least.  Again, I found that the pairing of dishes was done in such a way that the tastes do not overwhelm each other.

The non -veg thali

Non Vegetarian Thali

The non veg thali had sookha jheenga (dried shrimps), motton kalia and sadi litti among other things and my son loved the shrimps and the river sol in mustard gravy.

I would love to go on about each dish but the festival is still on till 26th March at ThreeSixtyOne, The Oberoi Gurgaon and if you are in or around Delhi/NCR, you MUST visit and indulge in the Rivayat of Banaras.

Meals that are prepared and served with love are the best. We could see how Sangeeta had put her heart and soul in each preparation, going out of the way to procure the finest ingredients to create the original banarasi khana. Hats off to the F&B team of Chef Manish Sharma, Chef Ravitej Nath who recreated this fabulous along with Sangeeta

Now it was time for desserts and conversations with our gracious hostess.

 

As you can see mom had a lovely time reminiscing about Banaras with Sangeeta. They talked about traditions, city heritage, old houses, chawks and gaiyan, old eateries, their childhood and of course the delectable food. I was happy to see my mom enjoying every bit of the experience.

Malaiyyo, a specialty of Banaras, stole the show. Frothy, light as air and delicately tasteful,  it brought back a surge of nostalgia. Ma told that they would get up early morning before sunrise in winter to eat this delicacy which was then served in earthen pot the size of a small diwali diya. We loved the food and we loved the stories.

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The Desserts

Biranji Kheer

Biranji Kheer

The naturally tulsi scented Sankatmochan laddoos and Sri ram Bhandar’s lal peda (especially flown in from Banaras) were out of the world. I enjoyed the hare chane ki barfi which was new for me and the Biranji kheer was a delight. I make it at home but this was ethereal. Adi was bowled over by Malaiyyo.

Three generations in love with the vibrant food and Banaras came home with fondest memories, blissful dinning experience, unconditional love and a bagful of goodies.

I want to congratulate everyone who is part of Rivayat- Indian Culinary Conclave  and Banaras ka khana fest. You have kept the spirit and soul of the cuisine intact. Well done.

Special thanks for the warmth of hospitality by The Oberoi Gurgaon Staff. Thank you Mallika Gowda for your understanding and care.

Those who wish to know more about the dishes that were served here  or want to try making some of them at home, do visit Sangeeta’s blog Banaras ka Khana .

Raw Mango Poha (Flattened Rice Flakes) – Two Versions And A Bonus Recipe


The good news is that poha is gluten-free and it is full of nutrition. I did not know that it is also a good pre biotic and probiotic food. Sangeeta Khanna is a Delhi based food and nutrition consultant and a very versatile food blogger (No, not the fashionable sorts). Her blog is informative as well as a treasure chest of easy to make healthy recipes. It is from her posts I came to know about the probiotic qualities of poha (flattened rice flakes).  The microbial flora, generated after parboiling and fermentation in the process of making flattened rice, provides superior food value as well as partially digested proteins and carbohydrates. (Thank you for this valuable information dear Sangeeta. )

Poha has been a part of our daily meals since childhood and we make various versions of it from matar poha, kanda poha (onion poha), batata poha (with potatoes), dadpa poha, poha with mixed veggies, dahi poha or tak poha (with buttermilk), doodh poha (with milk)  or the healthy toasted chivda mixture with peanuts, curry leaves, roasted gram etc as a snack but today I will share two very different recipes with raw mango. I used a raw mango which was in a hurry to ripen and had a very delightful flavour and sweet-sour taste. I love mangoes in any form and use it raw as well as cooked in variety of dishes. Green raw mango is full of B vitamins, Vitamin A and Vitamin C  which is highly beneficial in strengthening the immunity system of the body. It of course has great taste and many curative properties too. It is also a good source of calcium, potassium and dietary fiber. You can make a  variety of pickles, aam panna (drink), chutney (with mint and coriander or coconut), salsa, or toss it in salads, rice, poha, daal (amti) as a souring agent and for flavour. Many local indian cuisines use raw mango in food preparations. Manhi from Himachal Pradesh is one such side dish.

What you can do with ripe mangoes, apart from eating them with total passionate devotion, is mind-blowing.

 Kairi Poha or Raw Mango poha ( version 1 ) 

 

You will need :

Poha (Flattened/beaten rice) – 100 gms

Raw mango/ kairi/ ambiya – 1 small  diced in small cubes ( I used the one which was firm, green but slightly ripeing. It had a slight sweetness to the basic sour flavour)

Red onion – 1/4 cup (optional)

Asafoetida (Hing) – 1 pinch

Mustard Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Dry Urad daal- 1/2 teaspoon

Dry chana daal – 1/4 teaspoon

Fresh Curry leaves – 4-5

Whole red chili – 1 small

Turmeric Powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

 

Fresh coriander leaves – For garnish

Grated coconut (fresh) – For garnish (optional)

Oil – 1 tablespoon ( I used Olive Oil)

Lemon – To squeeze the juice as garnish if desired

 

Method –  

Take clean poha in a sieve or colander and wash it under running filtered water. Gently puff it a few times. Set it aside. fluff it wit ha fork or fingers to keep them from sticking together.

Heat the oil in pan. Keep the flame on low.

Add mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal. When the seeds begin to splutter add curry leaves, red chili  and finely chopped onion (optional) If not adding onion then add raw mango and poha and stir. If adding onions, let them become translucent before adding raw mango pieces and poha.

Add salt, turmeric powder and stir well. ( You can use little red chili powder and chopped green chilies too. It all depends on what flavour you prefer. )

Keep it covered for five minutes and remove the lid. Stir gently and add chopped fresh coriander leaves. Mix.

Take it out in a serving bowl, top up with some fresh coconut if you like it and squeeze some lemon juice if required. Eat when its hot and fragrant.

Mango Poha  ( Version 2 ) – A summer Salad

This recipe was originally posted at Healthfood Desi videshi by Sangeeta Khanna) . She used ripe mango while I just changed it to the sightly ripe raw mango.

This one is a delicious salad and can be assembled in a jiffy. I loved the taste of the rawness of the mango in this. Perfect cooling meal for summer days and for days when either you don’t want to churn up a full meal or want to give your tummy a small break from all the spicy meals you have devoured. The poha as I said earlier, is gut friendly and often helps it to calm down.

Ingredients – 1 cup poha

Raw mango (slightly ripening) –  1/2 cup cut into small cubes

Red onion – 1 small, chopped roughly

Fresh coriander greens – 4 tablespoon

Red chili powder – A pinch or (finely chopped fresh green chilli as i used)

Raisins – 8-10 ( I didn’t put peanuts)

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of lime juice

The idea is to balance the heat from chillies, the sweetness and sour flavour from mangoes and the hotness of red onions, as Sangeeta mentioned in her recipe. Adding raisins replaced the use of sugar for me.

Method –

Take clean poha in a colander or sieve and wash it properly under filtered water. Keep aside to drain.

If using the thick variety or the brown one you will need to keep it for a longer duration.  Fluff it up a bit to keep the flakes separate.

Meanwhile chop onions and put them in the mixing bowl. Dice mango into small cubes, cut coriander greens and green chilli and add to the onions.

Now, add the soaked poha, salt, pepper, raisins and mix well. Taste a little to adjust the flavours.

This recipe is no fuss, no cooking required  kind and is delicious to say the least. The fresh flavours of all the ingredients make it a really winner.

Serve it at room temperature and immediately after preparing. The cold pieces of sweet sour mangoes taste divine with mushy raisins and smooth poha.

Do try. It can’t get easier than this and the sinful taste of raw mango drizzled with just the right amount of red chili or cayenne pepper is simply divine.

Bonus Recipe 😀

As an added bonus I am having Dahi poha (Curd Poha) too. Blame it on the weather and Delhi belly. Here is a quick recipe for that too.

1/2 cup flattened rice or poha

1 cup beaten curd (preferably homemade)

salt – to taste

mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon

fenugreek seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

curry leaves – 5-6

Whole red chili or fresh green chili broken in two pieces  – 1 medium

Oil – 1 teaspoon

Freshly grated ginger 1/2 inch

 

Prepare poha like you did for previous two recipes. Take fresh curd in a large big bowl and beat it with a little salt (to taste). No lumps should stay. If it’s too thick you can add a little water, tak(buttermilk) or cold milk) to make it just the right consistency.

The poha soaks up the curd so keep the proportions in mind. Curd should be double the amount of soaked poha.

Now add the soaked and drained poha to it and mix well. Add freshly grated ginger.

In a small cast iron/iron skillet heat some oil and add mustard and fenugreek seeds. When they sputter, turn off the heat , add curry leaves and red/green chilli. immediately pour the tempering on the curd rice and cover so that the flavours seep into the preparation. Keep for 5 minutes , open and stir well.

You can keep it in fridge for it to chill or use chilled curd to make it. It tastes best when cold.

This is a perfect comfort food.

Make Flattened/beaten rice flakes a part of your daily food. Explore the possibilities of making it more exotic and flavourful. Do share your experiences with us.

 

 

 

 

Life is Short. Eat Dessert First – An Early Thanksgiving Post


I love this quote by Jacques Torres and I love desserts. I find cooking therapeutic. A sublime blissful experience that provides nourishment and satiation not just to the body but also to the mind. A great relaxant and stimulant at the same time. There is something very life affirming about feeding yourself or someone else a good meal and no meal is complete without a dessert. Be it an apple pie or an apple kalakand :D.

I am not a food blogger or a food photographer but I am a lover and cooking is like love-making. No fear, no guilt, no shortcuts. It is about improvisation, exploration, impulsiveness and discovery. When I am in the kitchen I feel like a high priestess doing her rituals or dispensing happiness. Each creation is a love potion. Something that can satiate at many levels. The memory of an amazing meal like an amazing sex stays with you and has you craving for it days after. It makes you forget everything.

Cooking like writing is a stress buster for me. I met a friend one day long time ago and she said,” never be too far away from chocolate if you want to de-stress.” I love dark chocolates and readily incorporated the advice in my life. I also began experimenting with desserts beyond the usual Indian mithais learned and perfected with great attention and care. There were times I would yearn for something  and the growing state of arousal and powerful sense of urgency  would make me rush to the nearest mithai shop.

Sangeeta Khanna is a friend and a top level food Indiblogger based in Delhi. I have yet to see someone so passionate about food, nutrition and healthy living. Her blogs are a feast for eye and mind and her recipes simple, healthy and easy to make. What I love about her writing is the honest down to earth approach and encouragement to use local, indigenous ingredients. Something not everybody does and that too with so much research and knowledge. She is very open to queries and suggestions too. There is something for everyone on her three blogs.

So, one day I was dealing with a lot of emotional and mental stress and sulking and killing time on FB when I across the yumilicious photographs of  Sugar free healthy Apple Kalakand. In an instant I felt the urge to create something as exotic as this came over me and I hopped to Sangeeta’s Blog healthfood desivideshi to learn the recipe. I wasn’t surprised that it was a quick to make guilt free dessert and I could magically create in 20 minutes flat. I went and got the luscious golden apples and made my first batch of Apple Kalakand. The result was unbelievable. I have yet to try the one with fresh figs. Another fruit I love.

Here is the recipe link of her blog and the Photograph of my Apple Kalakand.

Apple Kalakand for Diwali – Sangeeta Khanna 


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I used green cardamom and cinnamon as flavors in the two batches of Apple kalakand I made and both tasted heavenly. As a foodie I can tell you it was one of the best things I have had in recent times and then I got hooked to her blog and found more gems in the treasure box.

I couldn’t wait to try the 3 minute wonder – Red Carrot Halwa. I love gajar ka halwa and make with both with red and black carrots every winter. It is a traditional recipe perfected with time and a true labor of love as it takes a lot of time. I do not use khoya or condensed milk ( no short cuts you see) and make it with full cream milk. It is a slow process in which slowly the milk thickens into khoya like granules. The taste is out of the world of course. Here is my recipe – Traditional Gajar Halwa  . I love these nutritious recipes for Indian desserts. Halwas, pinnies, laddoos ( click for my recipes) which are perfect for winters and make a lot of variations of these. They can be made and stored in fridge or in airtight boxes  but what happens when you have a craving suddenly? You rush to Sangeeta’s blog and voilà! you find a  fat free, sugar free healthy version of your favorite gajar halwa and that too ready to eat in 3 minutes flat. Life of a food lover is all about such blessings. Although she says the halwa tastes exactly like the traditional one I was skeptical and wanted to judge for myself.

I just finished the bowl full of it and trust me sometimes we are in mood for long love-making  but other times we are all about quickies. This was one hell of a orgasmic experience that gave me a deliriously heady effect. All those weight watchers, diabetics, health freaks go for this right away. Indulge like never before. Leave out sugar if you are not supposed to eat it , leave out ghee if you are conscious eater but I can afford both so like Sangeeta I added a heaped teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of ghee to it. 😀

Here is the recipe link and the photograph of my creation.

One carrot – One bowl – Three minutes – by Sangeeta Khanna 

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You can make this halwa in 3 minutes or so with Sweet potato, bottle gourd , pumpkin, carrots, beetroot or anything exotic you want to experiment with. Add dates instead of sugar, add nuts, add anything that goes well and suits your mood , don’t forget to add a little love  and gratitude for those are the secret ingredient in all these recipes.

Here are the links to all the three blogs she manages

Healthfood desivideshi ( healthy, nutritious recipes, personalized diet plans, nutrition tips and much more)

 Banaras Ka Khana ( for those who love the old world charm and the good old recipes handed down from generations to generations)

Ayurveda on my plate  (trust her for some tried and tested remedies)

Do join her FB Blog pages to stay updated.

I had wanted to feature her on my blog since long time to show my gratitude and love for the work she is doing in this field and for who she is, a loving, generous, compassionate friend.

Please leave a link on her blog if you try any of her or mine recipes and give her a feedback.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Eat well. Stay Healthy. 

 

Recipe – Sprouted Fenugreek and Potato Vegetable


Sangeeta khanna is one of the best Food Bloggers in Delhi and a friend. Over a phone conversation I asked her about healthy vegetarian food that could help me get over my Iron deficiency among other things.  I make all sorts of sprouts at home and use them in various ways like in salads, pulao, vegetable combinations and as stuffing for sandwiches etc.

I knew about roasted fenugreek being used for making ladoos mixed with whole wheat flour but had never used them as sprouts.

Usually I use it as seasoning in veggies, dal etc. Fenugreek is very nutritious herb both as a leafy vegetable and as seeds. It contains protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, copper, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, manganese, and diosgenin (which is a compound that has properties similar to estrogen) among other active ingredients.

The herb which is a rich source of anti oxidant, minerals and photo nutrients  is a store house of nutrients is highly beneficial to cure many ailments like high cholesterol, Diabetes (do not eat without consulting the physician), appetite loss, heart burn, constipation, inflammation, muscle and joint pain, erectile dysfunction , baldness etc. It helps in production of milk in lactating mothers. Pregnant women should not use Fenugreek  as it  increase uterine contractions.

Sprouting fenugreek seeds crates enzymatic reaction which produces easily digested proteins.

To make Fenugreek sprouts and other sprouts with no contamination read this  Making sprouts at home by Sangeeta Khanna.

I used her recipe to make this vegetable and did some changes to it according to my taste.

 

 

I prepared a large bowl of sprouted fenugreek and kept the unused part in an airtight container in the fridge.

To make the Potato fenugreek ( methi) vegetable you need ;

Ingredients :

2 large Potatoes

I cup Fenugreek Sprouts

I Medium Onion

2  Fresh Green Chilies

4 table-spoon chopped Fresh Coriander

1 table spoon mustard oil or any other oil to cook

A pinch of asafoetida

Pinch of cumin seeds

Salt to taste

Red chili powder

Dry mango powder – 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon lime juice

Turmeric Powder – 1 teaspoon (optional)

 

Method : 

Make the sprouts as given in the link above. (I don’t throw the water in which the seeds were soaked, I drink it usually. Also I do not wash them so often if hygienically prepared. )

Wash and boil potatoes ( I steam them in a steamer) and cut into small cubes.

Chop onion lengthwise or in rough pieces

Chop green chilies in small pieces

 

In a non stick pan add mustard oil and let it smoke. If you are using any other oil let it heat and turn the flame low.

Add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add chopped onions , grated ginger, green chilies and sprinkle asafoetida powder over it. Putting it early will burn it.

Saute the onion till light golden and then add potatoes, boiled and cut into cubes and also 1/2 of the fresh coriander leaves.

Stir and add salt, turmeric powder, toss well till done . Add the sprouts after this step. Cooking sprouts too much destroys its goodness. Add dry mango powder.

Toss for a few minutes and take out in a bowl .

 

 

The other variation with kasoori methi is in the link I provided earlier in the post.

Add rest of the freshly chopped coriander and a green chili split into half . Add lime juice while serving  if you don’t use dry mango powder.

Eat hot with Rotis, Indian flat bread or any other bread. Use it as a stuffing for grilled or plain sandwich if you like)

So eat healthy and stay well.

Enjoy!