September 15, 2014

Unniaffins a.k.a Baked Unniyappams

I know what you are thinking now, unniyappams are at its best when they are deep fried in pure homemade ghee. I agree, but it is always good to have another quick version or even better, a quick'n'healthy version.

Unniappams are a delicacy in Kerala and is a key sweet dish for any special occasion. This is even more true if the occasion  is related to Lord Krishna. Today being Ashtamirohini (or Janmashtami - Lord Krishna's Birthday), we have to make the Unniappam. 

I always make the regular version, and the recipe was well sought after by most of my non-malayali friends. This time though I wanted to try something different, and in-line with the quick'n'healthy philosophy. The inspiration was from an unexpected source, a classmate of ours had mentioned that he had tried this for Onam. I knew that we'd like it because with the ingredients involved there is not much that can go wrong :), so decided to give it a try.

I am calling them quick because you don't need to stand near the fire and fry those tiny little cuties one by one, you can spoon them into mini muffin tins and get it over in one go. I am calling them healthy because of the ingredients, all wholesome and organic ingredients, red rice, banana, coconut, pure homemade ghee, and sweetened with just enough coconut palm sugar and a few dates. A gluten-free and vegetarian version to replace your banana bread muffins. To go vegan, just replace the ghee with organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.

You cannot replace Unniappam with the Unniaffins, but it is quite close and you'd love this if you are an Unniappam fan like us, else it is still worth a try and it is a close (and tastier) relative of the banana bread.



Ingredients:

  • Raw rice - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight or for a few hours) (I used Sri Lankan red rice)
  • Pink himalayan salt - a pinch
  • Coconut palm sugar - 3-4 Tbs
  • Dates - 6 -8 
  • Cardamom - 3-4 (skin removed)
  • Very ripe banana - 1
  • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Sesame seeds - 1 Tbs (lightly toasted)
  • Golden flax meal - 1 Tbs (just powdered flax)
  • Pure homemade organic ghee - 2 Tbs
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp

Directions:

  • Grind the soaked rice along with salt, sugar, dates and cardamom along with 1/4 cup of water to a thick fine batter.
  • Mash the banana with fork and fold into the batter.
  • Add the coconut, sesame, flax meal and ghee and mix well. 
  • Keep this batter aside for a couple of hours - This step is optional, but it is worth the wait for a more flavorful end product :) 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Line 24 mini muffin cups with paper liners.
  • Add baking soda to the batter and mix well. 
  • Add about a tablespoon each into each mini muffin cups. Drizzle drops of ghee on top and bake for about 20 minutes or till golden brown. 
  • Enjoy !!

September 13, 2014

(Not) Eating On Long Haul Flights

Hello friends, I am back from a long break. I was on a long 5 week vacation to India. Had a wonderful time visiting family, friends and places. And of course trying out a lot of regional/local food as well, including some mouth watering street food. Will do a separate post on how you can eat well while traveling, without compromising much on your healthy habits. Today's post though is on eating and feeling well during a long haul flight.



Have you been enjoying eating on long flights? I have never liked eating on flights for a couple of reasons. One being that food on the flight is not healthy, hygienic or tasty, and two being that you are sitting for a long time doing nothing and your body does not need so much of food. If you happen to have a 24 hr journey with a break in between, the airlines over feed you between 5-6 meals. Eating too much on a long flight wreaks havoc on your digestive system as you feel too full, especially since you don't do any work to help with the digestion. We travel at least one long trip every year, and every time at the end of the flight I feel miserable. So this time we decided that we are not going to eat anything from the flight.

Here is what we did, and why we did it. We packed some high energy food while being light on the stomach. It included home made nut balls, good arabian dates, raw cashews and some good chocolate. So you just had to eat a little as the food was high energy, and it did not make you full or heavy, and no urges to rush to the toilet. We did drink a lot of fluids (water and juices) though which is very essential on a flight to keep you hydrated. We also took time to stand-up and walk around to stretch our legs 2-3 times during every leg.



So what was the result? We have never felt so good about a long flight, had a lot of energy all through the journey, felt light, slept well, and no signs of headaches/nausea/bloating/vomiting that I have had on every other journey. This is going to be our mantra for every flight trip going forward. Try this on your next flight and you will surely feel the difference. 

Suggestions on food to take:
-Nuts: Any nut that u like to munch on, don't go for unhealthy trail-mixes though. We prefer raw cashews and almonds, and roasted peanuts if we can get hold of organic peanuts
-Energy bars: Home made is best, else u can get from a good health store like Wholefoods
-Dry fruits: Raisins, Dates, Dried Figs or Apricots
-Chocolates: Take good quality chocolates in moderation, sugar will be on the higher side, but a little indulgence when you travel is OK I guess :)



You can be innovative too with your own preferences for the above items. It provides for good energy, good fat and protein, and needed sugar as well, while keeping you light and energetic. This is not a diet for a long period, would recommend it while you are on a flight. Try this on your next long haul flight and your body will thank you :-)






July 23, 2014

Figs'n'Honey Ice Cream

Yes, I am back with another ice cream recipe. This time it is another family favorite - Figs'n'honey. We are big fans of dried figs and honey. Though the original version is made with fresh figs, I am making it with dried figs. If you have not tried dried figs yet, you got to try it, quite a treat. Though desserts are meant to be enjoyed in moderation, you can indulge in this one because it is made with nutritious ingredients like dried figs, raw honey and do not have any refined sugar, or other processed ingredients. Here's for a quick'n'healthy summer :)


Ingredients:
  • Organic dried figs - 15 
  • Organic raw unpasteurized honey - 3 Tbs
  • Organic non-homogenized organic whole milk - 2 Cups
  • Organic arrowroot powder -1 Tbs

Directions: 
  • Make sure you have the ice cream maker bowl in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight. 
  • Soak dried figs in 1/2 cup of milk.
  • Mix arrowroot powder in 1/4 cup of milk without any lumps. Add the remaining milk and mix well.
  • In sauce pan on medium heat, cook the arrowroot milk mixture, stirring constantly till the mixture starts  to thicken. Remove from flame and let it cool down.
  • Blend the soaked figs along with soaking milk and honey to get desired consistency. Some smalls bites of fig remaining would be nice.
  • Transfer to a bowl, add the arrowroot mixture, mix well. Keep this refrigerated for a couple of hours or till nicely chilled.
  • Add the mixture to ice cream maker bowl and run it for 20 minutes or as per manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Serve immediately for a soft serve ice cream. For a scoop-able version, keep frozen for a couple of hours.
  • Scoop and serve. This makes about 3 cups of ice cream. Enjoy !!


Sharing with:
Hearth and Soul Blog Hop@Zesty South Indian Kitchen
AllergyFreeWednesday@TessaDomesticDiva

July 19, 2014

Mango Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Do you make ice cream at home? I have been making ice cream for quite a while now. Ice cream has to be frozen and creamy, and of course should be sweet and tasty too. We find most store bought ice creams to be too sweet, while also containing a big list of known and unknown ingredients. So when you make it at home you can control all the ingredients. Making it creamy is the only tricky part. If you directly freeze the ice cream mix, it is just going to freeze into a big chuck of ice and not ice cream. The trick is to not let the mixture form into big chunks, but to let it freeze into tiny frozen crystals making it creamy even after it freezes. This can be achieved in different ways, stirring the mixture every 30 minutes or so while it is freezing so as to block the formation of big ice crystals is one way, but should have a lot of patience and time :-). Another way would be to play the zip lock ice cream game, it is a lot of fun and a lot of mess to clean up. Then there is Vitamix, in which you can make instant ice cream with a mix of frozen and chilled ingredients. I am sure there must be other methods by which people all over the world make the ice cream creamy.



Now, if you have to make your 'creamy' ice cream ahead of time and keep it frozen and still retain the 'creaminess' so that you can enjoy it, you definitely need a better plan. So I finally decided to buy an ice cream maker. The $50 price tag for the Cuisinart ice cream maker was just equivalent to buying a good brand of ice cream a few times. Easy to store, easy to clean and easy to use. The first ice cream I made in my machine is an all time family favorite - mango coconut milk ice cream. The taste was nothing new, since we have enjoyed it a lot during mango seasons in the past, the star was the the texture this time. We have reinvented our family favorite ice cream with the new ice cream machine - and this is one ice-cream we cannot have enough of no matter how many times we keep making it !!!


Ingredients:
  • Thick coconut milk * - 1 1/2 cup
  • Fresh mango (well ripened) - 2 cups (peeled and diced into cubes)
  • Raw unpasteurized honey - 5-6 Tbs
Directions:
  • Make sure to keep your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer for at least 6 -8 hours.
  • Make about 5 cups of coconut milk (recipe here) and keep it refrigerated for a few hours so that thick coconut milk (cream) separates on top. Separate it little by little carefully with a spoon. You will get about a 1 1/2 cups of thick coconut milk.
  • Add mango cubes and honey to a blender and puree well. Transfer to a bowl, add the thick coconut milk and mix well.
  • Keep refrigerated for 2-3 hours or till chilled well.
  • Add the chilled mango-coconut milk mixture to ice cream maker bowl and run it for 25-30 minutes or till desired consistency is reached. 
  • Serve immediately for a soft serve or keep frozen for a couple of hours for a 'scoop-able' consistency.
  • This can be stored in freezer in freezer proof containers for a few days. 
  • Enjoy !!


Sharing with:
Plant based pot luck party @UrbanNaturale