Creamy, smooth and easy hummus

Making exceptional hummus at home is one of those pleasures with a high payoff that is so worth fitting into your regular cooking program.

Chickpeas are nutrient dense, providing protein, dietary fibre, folate, amino acids and a few minerals. It’s definitely worth consuming often and homemade hummus can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.

This is a Hummus bi Tahina, otherwise known as the “classic” flavour recipe. I urge you to think of this as a blank canvas and experiment. Add any ingredient of your choice to make variations of this recipe.

Some ideas to get you going :
Pesto, beetroot, avocado, sweet potato, roasted red peppers, pumpkin, mint, sundried tomatoes.

If you don’t have chickpeas on hand, you can easily substitute them with white, fava or black beans. You can also use jackfruit seeds to make hummus.

Hummus bi tahina
What you will need?
  1. Boiled/canned chickpeas – 2 cups (drained)
  2. Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
  3. Tahina – 1tbsp (optional)
  4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
  5. Fresh coriander – few sprigs (about 1/4 cup chopped)
  6. Garlic – 2 large cloves
  7. Cumin Powder – 3/4 tsp
  8. Salt
  9. Chickpea water – 5-6 tbsp (to thin down the hummus if needed)
Method –
  • Add all ingredients to a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. If needed, add additional water to achieve the right consistency.
  • Serve with fresh vegetable sticks, crackers or pita. This also goes really well with baked falafels.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

Take a picture and tag it #theslowkitchen on Instagram so I can see!

Vegetable stock from produce scraps

We live in the second most populated country which is home to the largest undernourished population in the world. About 40% of the food produced in India is wasted or lost at different levels – from harvesting, transporting, processing, packaging and consuming. Wastage of food is not only indicative of hunger, climate change or pollution, but also of many other economic pitfalls such as inflation.⁣

Each time you throw away food, you’re stealing from the poor and hungry. And you are ignoring and insulting the efforts put in producing that food. ⁣

While most food wastage in India happens before it is packaged because of infrastructural loopholes, that does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t do anything to prevent wastage on an individual level.

This vegetable broth is made entirely from vegetable scraps that you would otherwise throw, is super simple to make, adds tons of flavour to your dishes and can be kept in the fridge for a week or frozen for up to 3 months.

What you will need –

  1. Vegetable scraps – 4 cups
  2. Peppercorns – 1 tsp
  3. Bay leaf – 2, torn
  4. Fennel – 2 tsp, crushed
  5. Cinnamon – 2 inch stick
  6. Garlic – 1 whole head, cut into two
  7. Onion – 1 medium sized, quartered
  8. Light oil – 1tsp

Through the week, I wash, coarsely chop and save roots, stalks, leaves, ends, and peels from vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, spring onions, capsicum/bell peppers, eggplant and mushrooms. Gourd skins, beet greens, corn cobs and herbs like coriander, rosemary, thyme and basil are also good additions.

Store scraps in a jar in the freezer and make this stock whenever that jar is full.

Not every vegetable is destined to turn into stock and you’re better off tossing them in the compost bin instead. Potatoes can make the whole stock starchy and gummy. Zucchini and beans may leave a bitter aftertaste. And beets can make the stock red (which I don’t mind sometimes). Broccoli, radish and cauliflower can be added but be careful with the quantities as their flavours can get overpowering.

To pack a massive punch of flavour add the rind from hard cheese like parmesan. This is optional.

Method –

  1. Heat a large pot over medium flame and add oil, quartered onions and garlic. Do not stir. You’re looking to slightly char the onions and garlic. This should take about 2 mins.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and let them sweat for about 4-5 mins.
  3. Add enough water to cover all the vegetables.
  4. Set the flame on medium high, once you begin to see little bubbles around the edges and it’s only just beginning to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for an hour.
  6. Strain with a fine sieve and store.

I like to divide this stock into smaller portions and freeze it.
Use it to make soups, pulao, risotto, stews, add to curries or even uplift regular boiled rice, quinoa or any other grain. You’ll have enough for weeks to come.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Zero-waste DIY All purpose cleaning solution

Soapnuts

Soapnuts, popularly known as Reetha in India, have been part of natural hair care since the beginning of time. What you might not know is that soapnuts can be used for all kinds of cleaning requirements.

They don’t actually contain any soap because, for soap to be soap is has to contain lye. These nuts are actually berries and their long harvesting period makes them a very sustainable solution for cleaning needs.

What you will need?
  1. Tap water – 1 litre
  2. Soapnuts/Reetha – 100 gms
  3. Distilled white vinegar – 2 cups
  4. Lemon essential oil – 5-6 drops
  5. Any other essential oil for fragrance
Method –

Bring soapnuts and water to a boil. Set aside.
Once the water is cool to touch, crush the soapnuts with your hands to dissolve as much pulp as you can.
Strain the water to remove seeds and shell. (Toss them in your compost bin)
Add the rest of the ingredients and store in a glass bottle.

I have been using this solution to clean surfaces, windows and what have you and cannot recommend it enough. Boiled soapnut water serves as my base for almost all of my household cleaning supplies and personal care toiletries as well.

Currently I’m testing the recipe for an all natural body and face wash and will be adding it here as soon as I achieve satisfactory results.

Fully customisable home made granola

We’re all prone to stressful, rushed mornings and in the midst of all the madness, breakfast often gets neglected or perhaps skipped altogether. I find the idea of starting my day on a savoury note rather unsavoury. I simply can’t resist the siren song of sugar in the mornings (strictly natural unrefined sugar). The easiest way to not skip breakfast is to make it ahead of time.

Quick oats or instant oats are old-fashioned oats that go through further processing to decrease cooking time. They’re partially cooked by steaming and then rolled even thinner than old-fashioned oats. They cook within a few minutes and have a mild flavour. The soft, mushy texture has an uncanny baby-puke like mouthfeel that I just can’t get past.

Steel-cut oats are most closely related to the original, unprocessed oat groat. They’re made by chopping oat groats into tiny pieces using large steel blades. They have a coarser, chewier texture and nuttier flavour than rolled or quick oats. But they also take longer to prepare, with average cooking times varying 20–40 minutes.

I bulk buy steel cut oats and make a large batch of this super easy “Clear out the pantry” Granola. Its sweetened with honey, gets the crispness from peanut butter and is completely customisable. With just 10 mins of active involvement and 30 mins of the oven doing its thing, the granola ready to eat and lasts about 3 weeks.

Compare that to 10 mins on average per day for a month and quick oats don’t seem so quick anymore, do they? Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Better food choices are always out there. We just need to look for them.

What you will need?
  1. Rolled oats – 1 1/2 cups
  2. Steel-cut oats – 1 1/2 cups
  3. Flax seeds – 1/4 cup
  4. Pumpkin seeds – 1/4 cup
  5. Chia seeds – 1/4 cup
  6. Sunflower seeds – 1/4 cup
  7. Almonds, chopped – 1 cup
  8. Peanut butter – 1/2 cup
  9. Honey – 1/2 cup
  10. Cranberries or any other dried fruit – as desired
Method –
  • Add oats, chopped almonds, nuts and seeds to a large bowl. Set aside
  • Mix honey and peanut butter to make a smooth, runny paste. (Add a little water if needed)
  • Add the honey-peanut butter mix to the bowl of oats and nuts. Stir well to combine.
  • Transfer mix to a lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degree celsius for 30-45 mins (or till the top is slightly browned). Be sure to take the tray out and turn it every 15 mins.
  • Let cool and break into chunks. Mix with your choice of dried fruit.
  • To serve, add in some fresh fruit, yogurt, smoothie or good ol’ milk and breakfast is ready in a jiffy.

Stores well in an airtight jar for up to 3 weeks.

For customisation –

You can use rolled oats or steel cut oats or both.
And add whatever nuts and seeds you currently have in your pantry.
Honey can be substituted with maple syrup or liquid jaggery.

Ensure a nut-seed to oat ratio of 2:4
Ensure a wet to dry ingredient ratio of 1:5


Some of my other favourite homemade granola flavours are dark chocolate and espresso, rose, lavender, cinnamon and chocolate-coconut.


If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

Take a picture and tag it #theslowkitchen on Instagram so I can see!

Zero-waste DIY tooth-powder

Regular toothpaste contributes to pollution and negatively impacts our environment in more ways than you can think of. Approximately 1 billion toothpaste tubes make their way to the landfills each year. These tubes are made with aluminium or plastic. Almost all of them are non biodegradable and may take up to 700 years before they begin to decompose. In addition, toothpaste companies package the tubes in boxes. Paperboard production contributes to deforestation, increased water consumption and higher greenhouse gas emissions.

And it’s not just the packaging. Regular toothpaste is rife with chemicals, parabens and triclosan that go down the drain and wash into our natural water systems each time you brush your teeth. also wreak havoc with animal hormones and the environment.

By choosing to make your own toothpaste, you can reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and save the water and energy involved in the production as well as disposal of these products.

What you will need?
  1. Calcium Bentonite clay – 2 tbsp
  2. Rock Salt/Pink Salt – 1/4th tsp
  3. Clove powder – 1/4 tsp
  4. Activated charcoal – 1 tbsp
  5. Peppermint oil (optional) – 5-6 drops
  6. Stevia Powder – 1/2 tsp
Method –

Mix it all up. Thats it.

It doesn’t get simpler than this. This dry powder can be stored in a glass jar and you can use a wet brush. You may also mix it with a few drops of coconut oil before brushing your teeth if you’re looking for a creamy consistency.

If you cant be bothered to make it, you may use baking soda, salt and coconut oil. I personally miss the lack of minty, refreshing, clean feeling that the recipe above delivers perfectly.

By recycling bottles into tees, your favourite juice brand is doing more harm than good

Clothing made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) water bottles, ocean plastic, and other “upcycled” plastic sources has been getting a lot of encouragement and support recently. Many of us fall prey to the trap of thinking we’re making a responsible choice by supporting these businesses. While in reality, clothing made of plastics (of any kind) render more harm to the environment and our planet than good.

To transform into clothing, plastic is broken down into pellets, heated into a viscous plastic-y liquid and spun into fibre. The same fibre we’ve all known for years to be wrecking havoc to our planet – polyester. Part of the slow-fashion revolution is based on the principle – Clothes made of polyester (or any other synthetic fibre) are not earth friendly.

Turning plastic into clothing doesn’t take away the plastic from our ecosystem. It simply breaks it down into untraceable bits.

@sustainablyslow

When clothes made of synthetic fibres are washed, they shed microfibres that break down into smaller and smaller plastics that are infinitely harder to filter and collect. Dr. Mark Browne, an ecologist at the University of New South Wales and world-leading expert on microfibres, published a paper in Environmental Science & Technology stating that a single synthetic garment can produce more than 1,900 fibres per wash.

These microfibres are one of the largest threats to ocean health. They enter not only our waterways but also get consumed by fish and marine life, in turn entering our food chain. Eventually humans end up consuming these micro plastics. A study by University of New Castle and the World Wildlife fund reports we eat an average of 5 grams of microplastics per week.

That’s a little over 250 grams a year.

I am always in support of the idea of lowering our impact and of companies and people working towards it. Maybe the companies making and marketing plastic clothing products do not understand the complexities of Systems Science.

But oftentimes, they are intentionally taking advantage of a trend. 

The use of non-reactive packaging such as glass and plastic to preserve the nutritional value is understandable. They claim plastic was chosen over glass to reduce the carbon footprint from a higher energy consumption during transportation. But no information is presented comparing this fuel energy consumption to that of plastic bottles. Nor has it been compared to the energy spent in manufacturing t-shirts.

When PET bottles can be recycled and turned into new bottles at least ten times, why is there no mention of the same on their website?

Let’s assume the cost to recycle the bottles is excessively high. Recycling them into products is the only sensible option. But why wearables like t-shirts? Why not accessories like bags, shoes or bracelets that don’t get washed after each use? Why not pen holders and storage baskets that, perhaps, require no washing at all?

Clothing made from “upcycled” plastic, despite good intentions, is not at all a sustainable solution.

@sustainablyslow

It is completely okay to manufacture merchandise. Brands have been doing it for decades. What’s not okay is to present profit-seeking merchandising efforts as sustainable or environmental pursuits.

We ought not to patronise such stunts with our money.

I urge you all to please always research companies and products that claim to be “sustainable”. Greenwashing and painting a sustainable picture online/on social media through messaging is not only dangerously misleading but also practically free in the absence of appropriate policies.

We must choose to support companies that embrace environmental practices through design, supply chain infrastructure, and at the end-of-life stage of their products.


Absolutely selfish gains from switching to a low waste lifestyle

If you’re still sitting on the fence about going low/zero waste, here’s a case for choosing to adopt a low waste lifestyle, and how it will benefit you personally.

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

Jane Goodall
1. Enjoy a fit and healthful life, maybe even lose weight.

Learning to cook yourself nourishing, wholesome meals is a huge part of living a low impact life. With renewed focus on not buying processed and packaged food, you will be forced to buy fresh fruits, veggies, legumes and grains. Buying fresh, unpackaged ingredients is not just good for the environment but also better for your body.

2. Acquire new skills and hobbies

In addition to learning how to cook, living a low waste life will also offer many opportunities to hone new skills. In an effort to find a more sustainable version of a product, at times you will decide to make them yourself. It was my decision to reduce my waste that led me to gardening. Maybe you have a lifestyle sorceress in you waiting to come out to whip the most delicious smelling personal care products. You’ll never know till you try.

3. You will learn to put yourself first

Reducing your impact or even trying to do so requires that you be thoughtful. Every meal you consume, every purchase and decision you make, you will think about how it impacts people and the planet. This way of thinking will bleed into almost all aspects fo your life and you will start thinking about yourself with as much love and care as you do for mama earth. This will help you take better care of yourself physically and emotionally.

4. You will learn to say NO more often

In our desire to be socially obliging, we all struggle to say no. We end up overcommitting time, energy and maybe even money in an effort to not be branded rude. When choosing to go low waste, there will be lots of unnecessary everyday things that you will refuse to participate in or buy like that plastic bag your grocer decides to put your purchases in, or that packaged bag of toiletries your aunt decides to gift you, or the packaged instant noodles your friend thinks is a great idea for a meal. Living a low waste lifestyle will help you develop the habit of saying no more often.

5. Save money

You will invest your money in reusable items, choose to walk smaller distances, stop impulse shopping and stop wasting money on buying overpriced packaged food or ordering in. They seem like nothing at first but over time, these costs add up to be a lot.

6. Find the right kind of people who support and uplift you

Before I started my journey to zero-waste, a lot of my lifestyle activities were just mundane things I needed to do. Now, I put an effort into researching sustainable shopping options in my city. in doing so, I met many people who share the low impact ideology and/or are zero-waste aspirants like myself. Finding these people, even though I haven’t met a lot of them, makes me feel supported and empowered and will do the same for you.

7. Be more organised

The process of going zero waste involves planning. Your meals, daily activities, shopping schedule, storage requirements will all have to be planned. Your life will be so much more organised and you’ll have lots of extra time to do the things you love because you’re not wasting an hour each day, trying to decide what to cook.

Maybe caring for the planet is not your biggest priority or maybe you find it too time consuming, but choosing to lower your impact will do wonderful things to your personal life. If not for any other reason, choose to do it for these self indulgent reasons.