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Spirulina and its health benefits

In this fast and furious life, one needs to give in some attention to health. The changing pace has a tremendous effect on our lifestyles and hence our well-being. To be in one’s pink of health one has to go the natural way.
Nature offers goodness in abundance. Spirulina is one of the best gifts that nature offers to mankind. It is a blue-green algae and has been present for ages. This power-packed nutrient supplement is rich in protein, iron, copper and vitamin B1, B2 and B3. It also contains magnesium, potassium and manganese, though in small amounts.

Apart from the nutrients that spirulina contains, it has amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It aids in lowering bad cholesterol and building up immunity. Spirulina has properties that fight cancer and blood pressure. They help in increasing haemoglobin and build up endurance.

This nourishing cyanobacterium comes with some dos and don’ts. Since the taste of the algae is not palatable for most, it is best to add in some sauce or knead into a roti or chapatti dough. They can also be added to soups along with other ingredients. Heat kills many vital nutrients, so cooking on a high flame is a big no-no. It is best to add Spirulina powder while the food is at room temperature or cold. Adding it to foods that can be served frozen is also a good way of incorporating spirulina.
One can enjoy spirulina in the form of both yummy sweet and savoury dishes. Spirulina is widely available in tablet and powder forms.

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Spirulina Lassi
Ingredients:
Curd: 1 cup
Ice cubes: 2-3
Sugar: ¼ cup
Cardamom powder: ¼ tsp
Spirulina powder: 2 tbsps.
Almonds: 10-12
Method:
Take curd made with full-fat milk. A thick and creamy curd results in a luscious lassi. Pour curd into a blender. A wooden hand-held whisk or beater works well. Add ice cubes and sugar. Whisk the milky goodness till the sugar dissolves and the ice cube melts. This will take about a couple of minutes. Add in the cardamom powder and the spirulina powder and whisk well till the lassi turns frothy. Pour the smooth and lip-smacking lassi into a tall glass. The almonds can be chopped rustically into small bits. Or one can add some panache and sliver them thinly. Top up the lassi with almonds.

An Ice-Cream with a Twist
Ingredients:
Full cream milk: 2 litres
Vanilla flavoured custard powder: 3 tbsps.
Sugar: ½ cup
Spirulina powder: 2 tbsps.
Whipping cream: ½ litre
Slivers of almonds and pistachios and some strawberry crush to garnish and serve
Method:
Take a small bowl and add in the custard powder. Pour a few tablespoons of room temperature milk into the custard powder and mix well. This prevents the custard powder to form any lumps while adding into the milk. Heat up the rest of the milk for 10 to 15 minutes and simmer till it reduces to one and a half litres. Pour the custard mixture into the reduced milk and cook till it thickens. One should not forget that after adding in the custard mix a bit of muscle work is required. Stirring continuously prevents lumps and burning of the mixture. Add in sugar and cook for another 5 minutes on a low flame. The sugar can be adjusted according to one’s taste. By now the mixture would have thickened. Let it cool completely. After it has cooled add in the spirulina powder and whisk well till it is well blended. Pour it into an air-tight container and close it tightly with a lid. Set in the freezer for 3-4 hours. If the container is not sealed well, icicles are formed which ruins the taste and texture. Just before taking the custard mix out of the freezer, whisk the whipping cream till stiff peaks are formed. This will take some time if done manually. Take out the custard mixture that has been set. Whip this up separately till it reaches a creamy consistency. Fold in the whipped cream into the custard and pour it back into an airtight container and seal well. It is very important to ensure that no air gets into the container. Set it overnight in the freezer. Scoop out this rich and velvety light green ice cream in bowls. Garnish them with almonds, pistachios and strawberry crush and serve.

Cottage Cheese with Spinach and Spirulina
Ingredients
Cottage Cheese: 250 grams
Spinach leaves: 250 grams
Onion: 1
Garlic: 3-4 cloves
Ginger: 1 inch + 1 inch
Butter: 2 tbsps.
Oil: 3 tbsp.
Red chilli powder: ½ tsp
Salt: to taste
Spirulina powder: 2-3 tbsps.
Method:
Cut cottage cheese into inch cubes. Keep them aside. Wash and chop the spinach leaves finely. Chop the onions. Grate an inch of ginger and garlic. Once the preparation is done, take a pressure cooker and place it on a high flame. Put chopped spinach, onion, ginger and garlic into the cooker. Add half a cup of water and close the lid. Cook till the cooker lets out 3-4 whistles. Remove from heat and cool. Open the lid of the cooker and mash up the spinach till it is pureed. Add seasoning. Cut an inch of ginger into juliennes. Take a tempering pan and add in butter a tablespoon of oil. The oil prevents the butter from burning. Once the butter heats up add the ginger juliennes and red chilli powder. Sauté them well and pour them into the spinach puree. At this stage add the spirulina powder and mix well. Take another frying pan and heat up the rest 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry up the cottage cheese cubes and add them to the spinach and spirulina puree. Serve hot with butter naan or roti.
Every supplement comes with caution. Thus, even though Spirulina has innumerable benefits, one needs to be discreet and aware while consuming it. Hence it is advisable for pregnant ladies, diabetic patients and people with other medical issues need to consult their doctor before having this superfood.

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