August 26, 2015

Quick'n'easy Apple Cake

If you like baked goods, homemade is always the best way to go for a lot of reasons. You can quality control the ingredients, you can play around with flavors that you like and flavors that you dislike and find your own unique blends of flavors. Here is an adaptation of Italian Apple cake into a more intense flavored quick and easy apple cake. Best part of this cake is that even without any frosting or decoration the cake looks absolutely gorgeous and tastes awesome too. 



Ingredients:
  • Flour (half all purpose + half wholewheat pastry flour) - 1 cup
  • Melted coconut oil - 1/2 cup
  • Free range organic eggs - 2
  • Jamaican rum - 2 Tbs (or just use 2 tsp vanilla extract) 
  • Organic coconut palm sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Baking soda - 1/2 heaping tsp
  • Citric acid - 1/4 heaping tsp
  • Apples - 1 large or 2 medium.

Directions: 
  • Preheat oven to 325 deg F.
  • Line a 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil.
  • Slice the apples to 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Mix the flour with baking soda and citric acid and whisk well. 
  • Beat coconut oil and sugar together till nice and creamy. Beat eggs one by one into it. Add rum and mix well.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the batter to the lined pan. Arrange the apples on top in any desired pattern. Press the apple slices into the batter as you go.
  • Bake at 325 deg for 50-60 minutes.
  • Let it cool down before slicing.
  • Enjoy!!



August 17, 2015

Long Beans Leaf Stir Fry (Payar Ila Thoran)

This summer is special at the quicknhealthy kitchen because this is the first time we have tried our hand at kitchen gardening, in a small way. Till recently I used to attribute good garden to 'green thumb' and I assumed that I did not have it in me. Well, now I know that green thumb is just another way to describe love, care and patience :-). So we have a small kitchen garden with a couple of tomato plants, okra, red amaranth and a few long beans creepers. Long beans is one of my favorite vegetables and I am so happy and proud to have grown them in my backyard. 

Long beans greens are edible too, tender leaves are especially nice. Long beans greens stir fry (payar ila thoran a.k.a chappupperi) is one of the long lost treasures of my native place Wynad, a pristine and beautiful place on the western ghats of Kerala. I am kind of rediscovering that old memory and the taste with this recipe.



Ingredients:
  • Long bean leaves* - 1 bunch (about a cup when chopped and packed tightly)
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Raw rice - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic - 1-2 cloves (optional)
  • Green chilly - 1-2 (optional) 
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
Directions:
  • Chop the greens nice and thin. 
  • Heat coconut oil and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add rice and stir till they turn slightly golden. 
  • Immediately add the chopped greens stirring well mix everything.
  • Add turmeric and cook covered for a few minutes till the greens are cooked and soft. 
  • Meanwhile coarsely crush the garlic and green chilly with the back of a knife or using a mortar and pestle. 
  • Add crushed garlic/chilly and shredded coconut and salt and mix well. Switch off.
  • Serve warm with rice. Enjoy!


Note: Try to pick as much tender leaves as possible. Tender leaves tastes better, and cooks faster. 

August 9, 2015

Fresh Fig Ice Cream

We are huge fans of dried figs, and we get wonderful organic dried figs at our local Costco. I have tried a lot of desserts and energy bars/balls with them. I have also made our favorite figs'n'honey ice cream. I had not tried much with fresh figs though, so this week when I found fresh figs, I was tempted to buy them and try out a fresh fig ice cream. Made with just 3 wholesome ingredients, how can you get better than that? It is vegan as I have used cashews instead of milk cream, and have used honey as the sweetener. The result is a simple and honest taste, so if you haven't tasted fig ice cream yet you definitely have to try it.  So go ahead and enjoy a wholesome vegan ice cream without any guilt.




Ingredients:

  • Figs - 8 
  • Cashew nuts - soaked in filtered water for an hour
  • Raw Honey - 4 Tbs (adjust according to your sweet level)


Directions:

  • Add soaked cashew and figs into a blender jar and process till nice and creamy. Add honey and process for a few minutes more till mixed well.
  • Keep the mixture refrigerated to chill.
  • If using an ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer's instruction to churn the ice cream. Serve immediately for a soft serve. Keep frozen for a couple of hours to serve a 'scoop-able' version.
  • If you don't have an ice cream maker, directly freeze the mixture for an hour. Scoop out and and process once again using blender and keep back in the freezer. Repeat a couple of times more till the ice cream is completely frozen.
  • Scoop and serve with optional chopped fresh figs.
  • This makes about 11/2 cups of ice cream. 
  • Enjoy!! 

Note: If you consider honey as not vegan, please substitute with a vegan-friendly sweetener like coconut palm sugar, agave or maple syrup. Personally I am not a fan of agave or maple syrup as I consider them much more processed when compared to raw honey.

August 7, 2015

Lemon Balm Thai Style Green Curry

Have you heard of Lemon Balm before? No, it is not a balm that you apply on your forehead :-). I have not heard of it either, that is until my friend gave me a big bag full of lemon balm leaves from her garden as it was growing like crazy. She teased me to make a good recipe out of it so that she can also use them. So I decided to give it a try, it is always interesting to try new things with new ingredients, especially if they are fresh and local. 

So what is lemon balm? It is a perennial herb from the mint family with a lemony aroma. You can think of it as a mix between mint and lemon grass. It is used for a variety of home medications. As per WebMD, Lemon balm is used for digestive problems, including upset stomachbloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), vomiting, and colic; for pain, including menstrual cramps, headache and toothache; and for mental disorders, including hysteria and melancholia. Many people believe lemon balm has calming effects so they take it for anxietysleep problems, and restlessness. Lemon balm is also used for Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an autoimmune disease involving the thyroid (Graves' disease), swollen airways, rapid heartbeat due to nervousness, high blood pressure, sores, tumors, and insect bitesLemon balm is inhaled as aromatherapy for Alzheimer's diseaseSome people apply lemon balm to their skin to treat cold sores.

Here, it has found it's way into a Thai style green curry loaded with lots of farm fresh summer vegetables. Because of the lemongrass flavor, it was a perfect fit for a Thai curry. We love Thai curries and when you can get local and fresh ingredients in abundance, it is definitely worth a try. 

For green curry paste:
  • Lemon balm leaves - 1 cup (loosely packed)
  • Coriander seeds - 1 Tbs
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Garlic - 4  cloves
  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch long
  • Coriander leaves whole - 2-3 stems
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1/4 cup (just enough to help grinding the paste)
  • Sea salt - as per taste 
For green curry:
  • Homemade coconut milk- 2 cups (recipe here)
  • Mixed vegetables - 3 cups (see notes) 
  • Lemon balm leaves - a handful 
  • Sea salt - as per taste 
Directions:
  • To make the green paste, add all ingredients to a blender and process to get a fine paste.
  • Wash and slice the vegetables, mix with the green paste and set aside for about 30 minutes.
  • Add the vegetables along with the green curry paste and lemon balm leaves to a soup pot or any heavy bottom cooking pan. Start cooking on medium heat. 
  • Cook covered for about 10-12 minutes or till vegetables are nice and soft. 
  • Add coconut milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Adjust salt and switch off.
  • Serve warm with a small serving of rice.
  • Enjoy!


Notes: 
For vegetables, you can use mushrooms, snap peas, sugar peas, green peas, carrots, long beans, french beans, or anything else you can think of.
Quicknhealthy does not recommend using canned coconut milk. But if you have to use canned version, be sure to find a good brand with only coconut milk as the ingredient and make sure it is BPA-free. Also please be aware that the consistency will be thicker. Use your judgement and adjust the quantity accordingly.