October 28, 2013

Millet Vegetable Pulav

As the weather outside starts getting chilly, our craving for warm comfort foods will be on the rise too. This is one such meal that my family turns to on such days. It falls somewhere between a coconut rice and a vegetable pulav. Originally made with basmati rice, but ever since we have fallen in love with the nutty texture of the millet over the past year, we substitute rice with millet on many dishes. It is a wholesome meal with millet being a protein rich carb, and with addition of the veggies, coconut milk and coconut oil you get the whole deal of protein, good carb, good fat and vitamins.

  • Pearl millet - 1 cup (preferably soaked for 3-4 hours)
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1 cup (recipe here)
  • Homemade tomato paste - 2 Tbs. (see notes below)
  • Green beans - 2 cups (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • Carrot - 1 medium (diced into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • Onion - 1 medium (diced into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • Bay leaf - 1
  • Spice mix - 1 batch (recipe below)
  • Minced ginger and garlic - 1 Tbs. each
  • Cold pressed virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Chopped cilantro - 1/2 cup

  • Add millet along with a cup of water, half of spice mix, half of minced ginger/garlic, bay leaf and salt to a pressure cooker or sauce pan and cook till water is absorbed. 
  • Millet will only be cooked 3/4th. Rest will be done along with the veggies.
  • Heat coconut oil on medium heat in a bigger pan and add diced onion and remaining ginger/garlic sauté for a few seconds. 
  • Add the tomato paste, diced veggies, remaining spice mix, turmeric and mix well. 
  • Add coconut milk cooked millet and simmer on medium heat till liquid is absorbed. 
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Note 1: I am doing this in 2 steps to avoid overcooking the veggies. Another way to achieve that is to use a rice cooker for the whole process. That way you can start adding the veggies and coconut milk once millet is 3/4th cooked

Note 2: to make tomato paste, simmer tomatoes on low-medium heat till liquids are reduced. Purée in blender and store refrigerated for up to a week. You could also use fresh finely chopped tomatoes. 

Spice mix:
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
  • Cloves - 5
  • Cardamom - 6
  • Black pepper -10
  • Grind everything to a powder using a coffee/ spice grinder.
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October 26, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Snack Cake

Yes, I do bake! In fact, I used to bake a lot, but I have now learned, and also enjoy the fun of making treats bypassing the baking process :). I have been making a lot of raw treats and no-bake cakes and cookies lately, which has significantly reduced the use of my oven. My take is, if something can be eaten raw then we should eat it like that.

I have a 12 year old who makes his judgement on the snacks and treats offered at school social gatherings or birthday parties and gracefully says 'no thank you' to most of them. So I feel that I also have a responsibility to give better snack options to him, because kids being kids like to have snacks. 

This one is more of an after-school snack than a dessert. It is quick and easy to whip up, and uses only wholesome ingredients. I did not want to overcook the pumpkin, so I directly puree the sugar pumpkin and used it in this recipe. Most recipes you find on the web calls for canned puree, which is cooked, and the baking involves further cooking, so you end by overlooking the pumpkin which I wanted to avoid.

  • Sugar pumpkin ~ 1 cup (skinned and cubed)
  • Coconut palm sugar - 1/4 cup
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1/2 cup (recipe here)
  • Virgin cold pressed coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Whole wheat pastry flour - 1 cup
  • Baking soda - 1 tsp
  • Sea salt  -  1/4 tsp
  • Cloves - 4-5
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp

  • Add cinnamon, soda and salt to the flour and mix well.
  • Grease 2 4-inch spring form pans with a pat of coconut oil.
  • Blend pumpkin cubes along with coconut milk and cloves to a smooth puree. Add coconut oil and blend till mixed well.
  • Transfer to a bowl, add sugar and whisk with a fork.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine well.
  • Divide the batter into 2 halves and fill the 2 pans equally.
  • Bake in your toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

October 22, 2013

Carrot Cream 'Cheese' Spread

Bagel and cream cheese would be an easy breakfast 'fix' in any dynamic american kitchen or office break room. I have to admit, we too have 'enjoyed' that a long time ago, when we used to think if we buy low fat or fat free cream cheese we are all set! Did not think how fat free cheese can be so creamy or what they need to add to make it fluffy and spreadable and long lasting? Not anymore, I don't worry about those low fat or fat free cream cheese or any of those store bought condiments anymore because I stopped buying them long back. Now, when I take away bad things from the menu, I should substitute it with good or better things, shouldn't I? Here is my substitute for a yummy 'cream cheese' spread which is made with organic, wholesome ingredients. I feel this is actually not a substitute, but it is the right thing to do, and tastes so much better that you'd want to try it right away.

  • Raw cashew nuts - 1/2 cup (Soaked overnight)
  • Lemon juice - 1-2 Tbs (from half a lemon)
  • Sea salt - a pinch
  • Carrot pulp - 3/4 cup
  • Dried oregano - 2 tsp
  • Black pepper corns -1/2 -1 tsp

  • Add soaked cashews, lemon juice and salt along with 1/4 cup of soaking liquid to a blender jar and blend till smooth and creamy.
  • Transfer to a bowl, add carrot pulp, oregano and crushed black pepper.
  • Mix well, add more salt if needed.
  • There, you have the carrot cream 'cheese' spread. Spread on your toast, crackers, serve as a dip. Enjoy :-)

    Note: Click here for recipe of my wholewheat coconut bread shown in the picture.

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October 20, 2013

Ginger-Coconut No-Bake Fruit Cake

When it comes to desserts or snacks or snack-desserts, I am all for wholesome treats which involves minimal cooking and processing. Even better, if there is no cooking/baking involved. Here is a fruit-cake which can be put together in no time and uses only basic wholesome ingredients. I make a lot of raw treats and always look for new exciting ideas.

This one started with a beautifully presented Peach Tarts from The kitchn. The coconut and ginger combination was so inviting and the tarts looked so beautiful that I added that to my 'to make list'. As my regular readers might have already noticed, I am not someone with a lot of patience or aesthetic eyes when it comes to food presentation. I work more with my taste buds and so do my food testers or tasters (whichever way you want to call my husband and my son). I think that some ingredients cannot go wrong whichever way you make it or present it. One such pair would be coconut and ginger. If you agree, then this no-bake fruit cake is for you to try :-)

  • Organic raw sunflower seeds ** - 1/2 cup 
  • Organic unsweetened dried shredded coconut - 1/2 cup 
  • Organic chia seeds -2 Tbs 
  • Himalayan salt - 1/8 tsp 
  • Pitted medjool dates - 2-3
  • Fresh ginger - 1-2 Tbs grated with juice (Adjust according to your preference)
  • Cold pressed virgin coconut oil  - 2 Tbs 
  • Fruits - 1 medium peach or nectarine or apple 
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

  • Grind chia seeds in a coffee or spice grinder.
  • Add sunflower seeds, coconut and salt in a food prep or blender and pulse till coarsely ground. 
  • Add dates and grated ginger and continue pulsing till everything just starts to combine together to form a 'dough'
  • Transfer to a bowl, add coconut oil and ground chia and mix well.
  • Grease a 4 inch spring form pan with a pat of coconut oil.
  • Chop fruit really small and thin.
  • Spread 1/3rd of the dough into the pan and press well. Layer 1/2 of chopped fruit. Spread another third of dough and press well. Repeat the fruit and dough layer pressing each layer firmly.
  • Remove the cake from the pan. Slice and serve. 

** you can substitute sunflower seeds with walnuts or pecans. 

Quinoa Breakfast Pizza w/ Pumpkin-Cacao Spread

Can you imagine eating pizza for breakfast? My answer is an emphatic 'No' if the pizza is made with white flour, and greasy with loads of cheese along with a bunch of ingredients which are not going to do any good to your body. How about if we make it with all these good ingredients like quinoa (which is a complete protein and is naturally gluten-free), pumpkin (which is seasonal, good carb with added nutrients) and raw cacao (which is rich in anti-oxidants, iron and magnesium) ?? Yummm, yes please !!

The idea of using Quinoa for pizza crust is from AlmondsandAvocados. There is no kneading or leavening involved here, just use fresh soaked quinoa (better if it is sprouted) to make the crust. That is Quick'n'healthy right :-)

Spread and be creative on the topping. You don't really have to make it a breakfast/fruit pizza, you can use homemade tomato sauce and toppings to make the 'regular' style pizza or hummus and fresh veggies to make a Mediterranean style pizza, possibilities are endless. I just made the pumpkin-cacao spread  and apple slices as topping to have a seasonal breakfast, and it vanished from the breakfast table in a jiffy :-)

For the crust:
  • Quinoa - 1 cup (soaked 8+ hours or overnight) 
  • Himalayan salt  - 1/4 tsp
  • Filtered water - 2-4 Tbs

  • Soak the quinoa overnight 
  • Drain the quinoa and grind along with salt and just enough water to grind to a fine batter - I used around 3 tbs of water.
  • Spread the batter on pizza tray (I just used a round stainless steel plate greased with a pat of coconut oil). Just pour the batter and tilt the plate/tray around to spread evenly.
  • Bake at 400 degree for 8-10 minutes - I did this in my toaster oven. 
  • Let it cool a little bit before you use it.

For pumpkin-cacao spread:
  • Sugar pumpkin ~ 1 1/2 cups (Skinned and cubed) 
  • Raw cacao powder - 2 Tbs 
  • Medjool dates - 3-4 
  • Dried shredded coconut - 2 Tbs (optional) 
  • Cinnamon powder  - 1/2 tsp
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch 

  • Spread the pumpkin cubes on a tray and roast it in 400 degree toaster oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Puree along with dates, salt and coconut to nice and creamy.
  • Transfer to a bowl, add cacao powder and cinnamon and mix well.
  • Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Spread on the pizza crust, top with sliced fruits, shredded coconut etc.
  • Slice and serve. 

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October 13, 2013

Aloe Apple Cider Refresher

My husband is the juice man at our home. He comes up with a lot of wonderful combinations that give us a nutritional blast every morning. We have come a long way from the citrus juicer, to the centrifugal juicer to latest masticating juicer. On weekdays we have a full glass of vegetable juice with a combination of greens (kale/collard/spinach/celery), veggies (carrots/cucumber/zucchini/peppers) and herbs (cilantro/mint/basil) along with some ginger & lemon. On weekends though, he goes a little easy and adds some fruits to the blend to make it more interesting and to make it exciting for our son.

We have been reading about the healing, therapeutic and nutritional benefits of aloe and found that the best way to consume it is to add it to your juices. So what he does is take the flesh out of the aloe leaf, and chop up and add it to the fresh juice. This one is the best so far, keeping the apple cider tradition of the fall season going, which is also my son's favorite drink during the fall season.

  • Apples - 5-6 (Variety of juicy apples)
  • Mint - 4-5 stems
  • Aloe - pulp from one leaf

  • Take pulp from the Aloe leaf and chop up and keep aside.

  • Take Apple juice using a your choice of juicer/blender.
  • Add mint towards end of juice making.
  • Add the chopped aloe pulp. 
  • Serve immediately or keep refrigerated and serve chilled. 
  • This make about 6 cups of juice. 
  • You can also add ginger, lime, lemon .. go creative :-) 
  • Go ahead and try this. Your body and skin will thank you :-)

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    October 12, 2013

    Kamut Coconut Dosa

    All of you might be familiar with Kamut in the form of puffed Kamut. It is a nutritious ancient variety of wheat berries. Khorasan wheat was the original name, attributing it to the Khorasan region where it was grown in ancient times.  It has a very distinct nutty flavor compared to wheat and is rich in minerals like magnesium and zinc, and also high in protein and dietary fiber.  Even though this wheat variety contains gluten, it has been found to be more easily digestible by people who may have slight allergic tendencies. All reasons to add it to my list of whole grains to experiment with. 

    This one is inspired by Rice coconut dosa , favorite quick breakfast from my mom's family. Grains are soaked overnight and then ground with coconut to make instant non-fermented version of dosas.

    • Kamut - 1 cup
    • Shredded coconut - 3/4 cup
    • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Black pepper corns - 1/2 tsp (optional)

    • Soak the grains overnight in 3-4 cups of water.
    • Grind them with coconut, cumin and salt to a five batter to a pancake consistency.
    • Heat griddle and wipe with a pat of coconut oil.
    • Pour 1/4 cup of batter and spread with back if the spoon. Cook till the sides are firm and easily comes off the griddle in about 45 seconds. Flip and cook on the other side also for the same amount of time.

    • This will make about 12 dosas.
    • Serve hot with Kadala curry. Enjoy :)

    October 5, 2013

    My Favorite Fall Recipes with Winter Squash

    It is fall here in New England and the colors are starting to show up. It is also the season of Pumpkins and Winter squashes. To me if there is one vegetable that you can associate with Fall, it is Pumpkins/Winter Squashes. I am compiling a few of my favorite winter squash recipes that I have been making this season. Some are new, while others have been tried and tested over a few years. I am a believer of seasonal local produce because nature is providing you the food it believes is good for the season. So when winter squashes are in season we eat plenty of them. And why not? Winter squash is a low-calorie vegetable, while also a good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It is also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. Guys' Eco farm has been a blessing for us with an abundant supply of freshly picked organic squashes this season. All these recipes have one kind of squash as the main ingredient, along with other wholesome ingredients, and they are all quick'n'healthy  :)

    Honey nut squash breakfast porridge:

    I could not imagine pumpkin or squash in a breakfast porridge initially, and then I saw a few recipes around which made me give it a go, especially since it is good to have those complex carbohydrates in the morning. Many recipes on the web call for canned pumpkin puree, but since I avoid anything canned, I decided to use fresh squash instead. More so as I live in an area where we get this in abundance locally. I would also recommend making this with sugar pumpkins

    • Honey nut squash - 2 small-medium
    • Mix of raw almonds/sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight)
    • Nutmeg -1/4 tsp (freshly grated)
    • Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Himalayan salt - a pinch
    • Coconut palm sugar - 1-2 Tbs
    • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
    • Raisins - handful (optional for topping)
    • Some fresh fruits chopped - (optional for topping)

    • Wash and skin the squash. make 1 inch slices and lay on a cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes in your toaster oven.
    • Blend the soaked almonds with a cup of water, to make a thick almond milk.
    • Add roasted squash and sugar to the almond milk and blend till nice and creamy.
    • Transfer to a saucepan, add the spices and warm it a little bit.
    • Top with coconut, raisins and fruits.

    Honey nut squash Halwa
    This is a quick'n'easy dessert inspired from the Indian dessert 'Carrot Halwa' and can be made under 10 minutes. So on one of those fall evenings when you feel like having a warm dessert that does not compromise on your healthy regime, go ahead and try this :-) 

    • Honey nut squash - 1 medium
    • Raw almonds - 1/4 cup
    • Coconut palm sugar - 2 Tbs
    • Nutmeg - a generous pinch- freshly grated
    • Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp

        • Wash and skin the squash. Remove the seeds and grate.
        • Powder almonds coarsely in a dry blender, or coffee/spice grinder. You just need almond meal consistency.
        • In a shallow pan, start cooking on medium heat stirring constantly.
        • When the squash is soft and tender in about 5-6 minutes, add coconut sugar, and spices and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes more.
        • Serve warm :)

        Butternut squash tomato soup: 
        This is kind of transition from summer to fall, when there is an abundance of tomatoes as well as fall squashes. This pureed soup is perfect for a fall evening when you are not in a mood to cook an elaborate dinner. Just whip this up in no time to sit, relax and enjoy :-)

        • Butternut squash - 1 medium
        • Tomatoes  - 5-6 medium
        • garlic - 2-3 cloves
        • bay leaves - 2
        • black pepper corns - 1 tsp (adjust as per your spice level)
        • Sea salt - as per taste

        • Wash and skin the squash. Cut into rough chunks (if the squash is tender, you don't need to discard the seeds and core)
        • Wash and slit the tomatoes into halves.
        • Heat a soup pot or a deep sauce pan on medium heat, add a drizzle of virgin coconut oil and roast garlic.
        • Add bay leaves, pepper corns and sauté for a few seconds.
        • Add tomatoes, squash and 3 cups of water and bring to boil.
        • Simmer on medium heat till squash is just cooked enough.
        • remove the bay leaves and puree the soup in batches.
        • Return to the soup pot to warm.
        • Add salt and serve warm.

        Butternut Squash Chapatis: 
        Chapati is a staple in most Indian households.There are plain chapatis (rotis) and stuffed chapatis (parathas). Then there is another kind where you replace some of the flour with another kind of better carbohydrate. That is what I have tried here by replacing some wheat flour with squash, giving you a delicious and healthier version of the chapati.

        • Butternut Squash - 1 cup (cubed) 
        • Whole wheat flour - 1 1/2 cups + extra if needed for kneading and/or rolling
        • Water - enough to make dough (about 1/4 cup or less)
        • Omam/Ajwain (carom seeds) - 1/4 tsp
        • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
        • Sea salt - as per taste

        • Puree the squash using blender or food processor.
        • Grind the spices using a coffee grinder.
        • Mix wheat flour, salt and spices in a bowl and add squash puree and start making a dough adding just enough water needed to form the dough.
        • Knead the dough for 5 minutes and keep aside covered for about 30 minutes or more.
        • Divide into balls and roll into 6 inch circles and make chapatis.

        Honey Nut Squash Buckwheat Crepe:

        One more for the breakfast menu :-). Once you master the art of crepe making and get the right consistency of batter, this will become such a quick and easy breakfast. 

        • Honey nut squash - 1 small-medium
        • Buckwheat groats - 1 1/2 cups
        • Apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbsn
        • Sea salt - as per taste 

        • Soak the buckwheat in about 1/2 cup of water and apple cider vinegar for about 30 minutes
        • Wash, skin and cut the squash into cubes.
        • Add soaked buckwheat along with soaking liquid into blender jar. Add squash and salt and blend till you get a smooth batter.
        • Add extra water if needed. You can try making one crepe to see if you have the right consistency. You should be able to pour the batter and tilt the griddle around to spread the batter to a circle.
        • This makes about 12 crepes.  Serve with homemade Nutella spread and sliced banana. Enjoy :)

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