July 10, 2015

Popsicle Season @QuickNHealthy Kitchen

Summer is Popsicle season. My son looks forward to our home made Popsicle that come in a variety of colors and flavors, but always with minimal and pure ingredients. They are so easy to make, so much cheaper than store brought and so much tastier as well. The best part is you can customize to your flavors. You can make them with just one ingredient, while others are made with a max of 3-4 ingredients. Compare this to a store brought pack and it will be a big list of ingredients, including ones that you cannot even spell, leave alone understand :-)….

So here are 2 flavors, a chocolate popsicle and a strawberry popsicle made with almond milk and sweetened with raw honey. As simple as it can get…, try them out and you will never go to the store for these again…



Ingredients: 
(Strawberry popsicles) 
  • Homemade almond milk - 1 cup (recipe here
  • Strawberries - 12 small (fresh or frozen) 
  • Raw unfiltered honey - 4 Tbs (adjust according to taste)
(Choco popsicles) 
  • Homemade almond milk - 1 cup (recipe here
  • Raw cacao powder - 4 Tbs (fresh or frozen) 
  • Raw unfiltered honey - 4 Tbs (adjust according to taste)
Equipment Needed:
Popsicle molds - here is my recommendation
Popsicle sticks
Vitamix or other high speed blender

Directions: 
  • Blend everything well using vitamix or any high speed blender. 
  • Pour into popsicle molds. Place the stick and stick holders. 
  • Set aside in freezer for about 4 hours. 
  • To remove just show the popsicle with the mold under running water for a few seconds to loosen.
  • This will make about 6 popsicles.
  • Enjoy!!



June 9, 2015

African Coconut Cupcakes

May-June is a birthday season around me as a lot of my close women friends are fellow Gemenians. Not sure if they have anything in common with me apart from being Geminians, but somehow I do gel well with them. One common thread I have found is that they are all strong women, who also put their family above everything else. Though my husband says you got to be wary of them all, being Geminians you don't know which way they turn ;-). This time also happens to be a wedding anniversary time with a lot of friends and family who share their anniversary with us during this time of the year.

Anyway, I made these African coconut cupcakes for one of my Geminian friend's birthday to go with an African themed birthday dinner. Though the dinner did not happen due to scheduling reasons, I made sure she tasted the cake, and she loved them. As the name suggests, the main ingredient is of course coconut. I have also used raw coconut sugar which gives this recipe an intense flavor. The two non-Gemenians at home lapped up the cake too :-). 


Ingredients:
  • Organic butter - 4 Tbs
  • Organic coconut palm sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Organic free range eggs - 2 
  • Organic grass fed milk - 1/4 cup
  • Organic finely shredded coconut - 1 cup
  • Organic sprouted spelt flour - 1/2 cup
  • Baking soda - 1 tsp
  • Citric acid - 1/2 tsp
  • For topping:
  • Local unfiltered honey - 2 Tbs
  • Organic finely shredded coconut - 1/4 cup

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line 12 cupcake molds with paper liners.
  • Cream butter add sugar together in a deep mixing bowl. Beat eggs one by one into the mixture using a electric or hand mixture. Add milk and coconut and mix at a medium speed. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk flour, soda and citric acid together. Add this to the wet ingredients and mix well. 
  • Divide equally into 12 cup cake molds and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Let it cool completely.
  • Meanwhile toast 1/4 cup of coconut on medium flame or just use the hot oven, toast till coconut is slightly red. 
  • Apply a pat of honey on each cupcake and sprinkle toasted coconut on top. Shake off excess coconut.
  • Enjoy!!


May 26, 2015

Acorn Squash Masala Dosa

Masala dosa (which is an indian crepe made of a fermented rice-lentil batter and stuffed with a spicy potato masala) must be the most ordered menu item in a south indian restaurant. It goes all the way from small appetizer sized masala dosas to the large table sized masala dosas in some fancy restaurants. This is one item that is a favorite with kids, well, kids of all ages I should say as even the older folks like my mom will always end up ordering this one.

The typical masala dosa can be quite filling, thanks to the potatoes that go inside it. Personally I like the masala dosa, but not the filling part of it as I like to have more of the dosa. In the quicknhealthy kitchen we put potato under the starch or carb category, and not so much under vegetables. We like to substitute potato with other less starchy vegetables, this way we can enjoy eating more dosas too :-). 


Ingredients:
  • Acorn squash - 1 small 
  • Red onion - 1 medium
  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch spear
  • Green chillies - 3-4
  • Curry leaves
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp 
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs 
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Dosa batter - 2 cups (or as needed) **

Directions:
  • Peel and remove core from the acorn squash. Dice into 1/2 inch pieces. 
  • Chop onion, green chillies and ginger.
  • Heat coconut oil and add mustard seeds. When the pop, add curry leaves, chopped onion, green chillies and ginger.
  • When onion is slightly pink add chopped acorn squash and reduce heat to low-medium and cook covered.
  • In about 10-12 minutes, squash will be soft and cooked pretty well. Add salt and turmeric powder and continue cooking till squash is well done. 
  • Check salt level and remove from flame. 
  • Make dosa as you usually do, just before removing from the pan, scoop some prepared squash masala on the dosa, fold and serve. 
  • Can be served just as is or with coconut chutney.
  • Enjoy!

For dosa batter refer to my recipes below:

Coconut chutney: 
  • Shredded coconut - 1 cup (fresh or dehydrated)
  • Green chilly - 2-3 
  • Fresh ginger root  - 1 inch piece (peeled and diced)
  • Sea salt - as per taste.
  • Red pearl onion - 2-3 (optional)
  • Grind everything using a blender, adding 1/2 - 1 cup of filtered water. 
  • Garnish with curry leaves and optionally with a tempering of mustard seeds popped in coconut oil. 

May 20, 2015

Asopao Inspired Plantain Mango Soup

One of our favorite restaurants around this part is Claire's Corner Copia in New Haven, Connecticut. It has been around for a long time, and pioneered the vegan, organic, healthy food around here much before many of this became famous buzzwords. It is a cozy family style, vegetarian restaurant serving organic, sustainable food with so many dishes that have vegan and gluten-free options. Sometimes we just stand there for 5-10 minutes figuring out what to choose, there is so much to choose from. So if you go with a group, everyone will get something to pick from the menu, even for the not-so-strict-about-health-kinda-guys :-). The last time we went there they had a Vegan Asopao as their soup of the day.

Here is a tropical soup inspired from it, made with ripe plantains and green mangoes. You can make it with shrimp and shrimp broth, but you can just go the vegan route too plain and simple, and it still tastes awesome, sweet & sour with plantains and raw mangoes. You can enjoy it as a light meal or serve as a stew over some rice, or pair it with a hearty salad. 


Ingredients:
  • Ripe plantain - 3
  • Raw mango - 1 cup (peeled and cubed)
  • Homemade tomato paste - 2 Tbs *
  • Garlic cloves - 3-4 (minced)
  • Homemade shrimp broth or vegetable broth- 2 cups **
  • Shrimp - 1/2 cup (optional)
  • Dried oregano - 1tsp
  • Paprika - 1 tsp
  • Red chilly powder - 1
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • EV olive oil - 1 Tbs
  • Chopped cilantro - for garnish
Directions:
  • Peel and slice plantain and cook them, either steam cook or pressure cook. Pressure cooker works best so that the plantain will remain soft in the soup.
  • Heat olive oil on medium heat and sauté minced garlic till slightly brown.  Add the mango cubes, tomato paste, broth, salt and the spices. Cook covered on medium heat till mango is cooked and soft, in about 6-8 minutes. 
  • Just before turning off add cooked shrimp (if using) and cooked plantain slices. Check seasoning and switch off flame. 
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm for comforting and satisfying light meal. 
  • Enjoy!!

* To make tomato paste: Quarter 5-6 well ripe Campari tomatoes and start cooking on medium heat. Let tomatoes cook with its own water. Gradually water content will reduce in about 25-30 minutes. When your desired consistency is reached, switch off and let it cool. Puree and store in an airtight jar. This can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks.
** If you are going to use shrimp broth, you can make shrimp broth by quick cooking the shrimp with 2 cups of water, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp red chilly powder and 1/4 tsp of salt. (pressure cooker works best). If you are using vegetable broth refer to my recipe here: