December 31, 2013

Cardamom Flavored Pumpkin Chocolate Moussé

Want to end the year with one of the best, and this time it is the best dessert I have made so far with cacao. It is simple, easy to make and tastes delicious. This dessert uses only pure and simple ingredients, and hence will be a great guilt free dessert for your new year's eve. It is always good to use minimal ingredients as they bring out the intense flavors best, and this is one where you will find the intense taste of cacao, pumpkin and cardamom play with your tastebuds and leave a lingering feeling for more. So go ahead and try it out...

With that I close out my year, and wish you all a Peaceful, Happy and Healthy 2014 !!!  See you back in the coming year.

  • Sugar Pumpkin - 1/4 of a small pumpkin 
  • Raw cacao paste - 1/3 cup shavings 
  • Raw cacao powder - 1/4 cup
  • Raw honey - 1/4 - 1/3 rd cup (adjust according to sweetness levels, we prefer less sweetness with cacao to get the intense cacao taste) 
  • Coconut oil - 1/4 cup
  • Cardamom powder - from 8-10 cardamoms (you need to adjust this according to preference) 
  • Himalayan salt -  a pinch

  • Peel the skin and remove the core from pumpkin and cut into cubes. You should have approximately 11/2 cups of cubes.
  • Spread the pumpkin cubes on a baking tray and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. 
  • Transfer to a high speed blender jar along with all other ingredients. Purée till nice and creamy.
  • Pour into single serving dishes (I used mini dessert cups) and keep in freezer for about 3-4 hours to set. 
  • Keep refrigerated and 30 minutes before you serve, take out and keep at room temperature. 
  • Like all desserts, I recommend making mini servings. This makes about 8 servings in mini dessert cups. 
  • Garnish with a topping of your choice, my choices were coconut flakes and pomegranate. 

Sharing this on: Healthy Vegan Friday

December 29, 2013

Chipotle Chili Powder & Chipotle Roasted Cauliflower

Keeping my savory streak going, here is something hot'n'spicy. It is an Indian style chipotle chili powder, it has heat from the south Indian chilly peppers and the smoke from the chipotle chili pepper. I use it to make roasted chipotle cauliflower as in the recipe that follows below. This can also be used as a rub for other veggies or fish, be creative. This is a time saver condiment to make ahead, so that whenever you are on the run and want to serve something quick, spicy, homemade and healthy...,this comes really handy.

Chipotle Chili Powder:

  • Chipotle chili pepper - 2
  • South Indian red chilly - 5 (adjust according to spice level of chillies)
  • Red beaten rice flakes - 2 Tbs
  • Garlic cloves - 1-2 cloves (chopped)
  • Coarse sea salt - 1/2 tsp

  • Powder everything together using a coffee/spice grinder.
  • I just make it enough for one time and hence I don't usually store it. Above batch will be enough to make roasted chipotle cauliflower with 1 head of cauliflower.
  • If you want to make ahead and store it, you might want to refrigerate it.

Chipotle Roasted Cauliflower:

  • Organic Cauliflower - 1 medium head
  • E V Olive oil - 2 Tbs.
  • Chipotle Chili powder - 2-3 Tbs. (as per spice level)

  • Cut cauliflower into small florets.
  • Add olive oil and stir a few times to coat evenly.
  • Add the chipotle powder and stir again to coat evenly. 
  • Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes in your toaster oven. 
  • Serve hot off the oven optionally with a few lemon wedges. 
  • Serve as an appetizer, snack or as a side dish. 

Chipotle Roasted Cauliflower recipe is adapted from:

Millet Winter Squash Savory Pancakes

This is actually a remake of my buckwheat savory pancakes. I have made and played with it enough times that I am ready to try it with different grains/seeds. Millet is one of our favorite grains. It provides a host of nutrients, has a sweet nutty flavor, and is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available. It is one of the few grains that is alkalizing to the body.. Read more about the benefits of millet here:

Millet has a nutty texture and is very suitable for pancakes and crepes. It is also great as a substitute for rice or couscous. This recipe can be made with whole millets or with millet flour. It is wholesome with protein rich millet, good fat from coconut and coconut oil, and added nutrition from the veggies.

I would also like to introduce another kitchen utensil thru this blog, which is my new Greenpan.
I had discarded all my non-stick pans long ago and had to switched to cast iron griddles and stainless pans. Sometimes though, you wish you had a non-stick pan which has the convenience of non-stick properties and at the same time the coating is less harmful to your body and the environment. Like any other non-stick pan, you can extend the life by using it with care and on low-medium temperatures. You can also read a professional review about it here.

  • Pearl millet - 3/4 cup (see notes)
  • Homemade yogurt - 3/4 cup (For vegan version, use 3/4 cup homemade coconut milk + 1 Tbs ACV)
  • Winter squash - 1 cup (grated)
  • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Coconut oil - 2 Tbs
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Fresh ginger - 1 tsp (grated)
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice - 1 Tbs.

  1. Powder millet using a dry blender. This will yield approximately 1 cup of millet flour. (If you have millet flour, just use 1 cup of flour) 
  2. Soak overnight in yogurt or for a few hours. (for a vegan version, soak in 3/4 of coconut milk with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar) 
  3. To the soaked millet batter, Add grated squash, coconut, green chilly, ginger, salt and coconut oil and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Just before making pancakes, mix baking soda and lemon juice and add to the batter and mix well.
  5. Heat a griddle on medium heat and make pancakes.
  6. Makes about 9 small pancakes, serves 3.

Notes: You can also soak whole millet overnight or for a few hours in yogurt. When you are ready to make pancakes, grind the millet along with soaking liquid to a thick batter. Mix in remaining ingredients and continue from step 3 in the above recipe.

Sharing this on:
Healthy Vegan Friday

December 27, 2013

Amaranth Upma for a Wholesome Spicy Breakfast

Amaranth is something new I am introducing to this blog. It is from the same amaranth family that we use as greens in India and many other parts of the world. Amaranth is not a grain, but is a seed and contains good protein which you cannot get from many other vegetable sources. Similar to other grain-like cereals/seeds, amaranth is good to include in your diet for a complete protein rich nutrition.

Now for today's recipe, I am posting something savory and spicy. I have been told a few times by readers that I post too many sweet things. Maybe because I am a sweet person ;-). So here is something spicy and cozy for a winter morning breakfast or brunch. It is wholesome, with good carb and protein from amaranth, good fat from coconut, and you can add your choice of veggies to make it more nutritious. 

  • Amaranth - 3/4 cup ( soaked overnight )
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Ginger - 1 inch piece
  • Red onion - 1
  • Tomato - 1 medium 
  • Veggies - 1 cup (chopped) (optional)
  • Shredded coconut - 1 cup

  • Chop onion, ginger, green chillies, tomatoes and veggies if you are using any.
  • Drain amaranth and keep aside. Discard the soaking water.
  • Heat coconut oil and add mustard seeds, when they pop add chopped onion/ginger/green chilly.  Sauté till raw smell goes away. Add a cup of water, chopped tomatoes and salt. Bring to a boil, check the salt and adjust if needed. 
  • Add drained amaranth and cook covered till water is completely absorbed , in about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Remove from flame and add shredded coconut and keep covered for 10-15 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and serve warm. 

Sharing on:
Wellness Weekend

December 26, 2013

Snowhite Tender Coconut Chia Breakfast Pudding

Want a perfect after Christmas breakfast? Here is a pure breakfast that you can have after a heavy dinner on the previous night. This can also be very good to break your cleansing fast because it is so pure, mild, light, and yet full of energy. It is made with minimal pure ingredients - tender coconut (meat and water) and organic chia seeds. For anyone who enjoys the simple and pure taste, this is the ultimate breakfast. This also happens to be my husband's favorite breakfast.

  • Chia seeds - 4 Tbs.
  • Water from a tender coconut 
  • Meat from a tender coconut

  • Take half of the water(about a cup) from coconut and soak chia seeds for an hour or so. ( You can also soak overnight)
  • Take out meat from coconut meat. 
  • Add remaining coconut water (about a cup) along with a handful of coconut meat pieces and purée to get coconut milk. You don't need to sieve this milk since it is with tender coconut. Mix this with soaked chia. 
  • Chop the remaining coconut into fine bites and add that to the chia pudding.
  • Optionally you can serve topped fruit slices or just as is.

Note: If you do not get tender coconuts, you can substitute with homemade coconut milk and sweeten with honey.

Sharing on Raw Food Thursday

December 23, 2013

Baked Peechinga (Ridge Gourd) Rings

I am introducing 2 new ingredients to this blog, Peechinga (Ridge gourd) and Nutritional Yeast. Peechinga is something I have grown up eating, whereas nutritional yeast is something new that I have added recently to my pantry. Peechinga, which is known by different names in different parts of the world, is from a creeper and is common in rural Kerala villages. You can find it as Luffa or Chinese okra in some of the Asian grocery stores in this part of the world. In Kerala, the very mature fruits are kept to dry completely and the fiber is used as a natural bathing scrub. The green tender fruits are edible and have a very mild, slightly sweet taste.  

Now on Nutritional Yeast. During the last visit to my naturopath, she found out that I have Vitamin B12 deficiency. Good sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, mainly meat and eggs. Though we consume organic, free range eggs occasionally, I could not commit myself to consuming it enough to make up for my deficiency. The plant based source that she suggested was nutritional yeast. I decided to give it a try. Nutritional yeast gives a nutty, cheesy flavor to your dishes and hence can be a tasty, and nutritional addition to your plant based dishes. 

  • Peechinga (ridge gourd) - 2 small or 1 medium
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1/4 cup 
  • Raw almonds or other preferred nuts - a big handful 
  • Nutritional yeast - 1/4 cup 
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Red chillies - 1-2
  • Sea salt - as per taste

  • Add almonds to a blender or food processor and grind well. 
  • Add nutritional yeast, garlic, chillies and salt and grind to fine powder. 
  • Peel ridges and rough skin from the ridge gourd. You can leave the softer skin on. 
  • Slice into 1/4 inch thick rings. 
  • Make an assembly line with the rings, coconut milk and almond powder on 3 different bowls.
  • Dip the gourd rings one by one in coconut milk, then dip in almond powder, and arrange on a baking sheet. 
  • Optionally you can also drizzle a few drops of coconut oil on each ring.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 5-6 minutes, flip them and bake for another 5-6 minutes. 
  • This will not become very crispy and  baking it more will make it more soggy. 
  • Serve warm as a side dish or as appetizer. 

This recipe is adapted from

December 22, 2013

Hemp Coconut Cacao Holiday Twin Truffles

Holiday season is the season of many things, shopping, gifts, giving, cooking and so on. I guess it can also be said as a season of truffles,especially for food bloggers :). We love truffles too. These are the easiest and quickest truffles I have ever made, takes under 10 minutes to make. Even better, they are packed with great wholesome ingredients like, coconut, coconut oil, hemp, cacao and sweetened with only a teeny bit of raw honey. Talking of coconut  oil, I have read a lot of health/nutrition articles about the health benefits of cooking with coconut oil. My family has been cooking with coconut oil for generations and have experienced the health benefits, as well as the mild aroma and simple taste it can bring to your dish.  I have been experiencing another fact about coconut oil in the recent past, coconut oil helps you with reducing your belly fat :). This is by simply including coconut oil in your cooking, and even better if you consume it in the raw form in breakfast, salads, smoothies and treats like these truffles.

These truffles are so easy to make, you just need a bowl and a spoon as your equipment, and less than 10 mins of your time. They are also so simple that even my son can put them together in a few minutes. The first version is an all coconut version for coconut lovers. In the second version, I am replacing half of shredded coconut with hemp hearts for added good protein and for a different texture to these already awesome trufflles :). In the beginning you might feel like there is not enough ingredients to bind them together and would want to add more honey, but trust me, it holds together and stays together, and it did for a ride to NYC on the warmest first day of winter we have ever seen.

Coconut Cacao truffles:

  • Dried shredded coconut - 1 cup
  • Raw honey - 2 Tbs.
  • Raw cacao powder - 1/2 cup
  • Cold pressed virgin coconut oil -  1/4 cup

  • Measure out coconut and cacao into a bowl.
  • Measure out coconut oil and honey in a small bowl and melt slightly over warm water. 
  • Mix everything well with a spoon and make into balls/truffles.
  • In the beginning you might feel like there is not enough ingredients to bind them together and would want to add more honey, but trust me, it holds together and stays together, it did for a ride to NYC on the warmest first day of winter we have ever seen (was 62 deg F yesterday at 10 pm).

Hemp Coconut Cacao Truffles:

  • Dried shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Hemp hearts - 1/2 cup
  • Raw honey - 2 Tbs.
  • Raw cacao powder - 1/2 cup
  • Cold pressed virgin coconut oil -  1/4 cup

  • Measure out coconut, hemp hearts and cacao into a bowl.
  • Measure out coconut oil and honey in a small bowl and melt slightly over warm water. 
  • Mix everything well with a spoon and make into balls/truffles.

Sharing on:
Raw Food Thursday

Red Rice Ginger Cookies

If you ask me what my favorite spice/flavor to cook with is, the answer would be ginger. It is the season in which everyone is making some version of ginger based cookies, like gingerbread cookies, ginger man cookies, etc. Keeping in line with the season and the tradition, here is my version of the gingerbread cookies. This is made with red rice making it naturally gluten free. It is also free of any refined sugar or flour, and is sweetened with only dates. 

Dry ingredients:
  • Red rice flour - 1 cup (get recipe to make rice flour here
  • Potato starch/arrowroot powder - 3 Tbs.
  • Coconut milk pulp -1/4 cup (or use powdered coconut)
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
  • Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp (freshly grated) 
  • Pink Himalayan salt - a pinch
  • Baking soda - 1/4 tsp

Wet ingredients:  
  • Chia seeds/Flax seeds - 1 Tbs
  • Deglet noor dates - 20 
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1/2 cup
  • Virgin coconut oil - 3 Tbs
  • Fresh ginger - 1 tsp (finely grated)

  • Soak dates in 1/4 cup of coconut milk for 30-40 minutes
  • Powder the chia seeds in a coffee/spice grinder, mix well with remaining 1/4 cup of coconut milk and keep aside for 5 minutes.
  • Add dates along with soaking liquid to a blender jar or food processor. Add grated ginger, melted coconut oil and grind to a find paste. Add chia mixture and well. 
  • Mix the dry ingredients, rice flour, potato starch, coconut pulp, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda.
  • Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and form a dough.
  • Keep the dough refrigerated for a few hours or overnight.
  • Divide into small balls spread on a cookie sheet. 
  • Give them a slight press and bake at 350 degree toaster oven for about 20 minutes.
  • These make soft versions of cookies - about 24 small cookies. 
  • To make thinner, crisper versions roll out into 1/8 thick sheets, cut out cookies and bake for 20-25 minutes.

December 17, 2013

Cranberry Puliyinchi (Cranberry-Ginger Pickle)

This is a variation of the classic Kerala pickle 'Puliyinchi'. Puliyinchi is a must-have in a Kerala feast for any occasion, the reason being that it contains all the main tastes (hot, sweet, sour, salty and bitter) with a simple combination of ginger, green chillies, and tamarind. This stimulates all your taste buds and lets you enjoy all the different dishes served on your plate. Ginger is well known for its digestive, anti-inflammatory properties along with the multitude of nutritional and medicinal properties; which makes it a must-add to your daily diet. In this version of puliyinchi, the tamarind is substituted with cranberries, which gives more depth to the sour taste and also adds an additional color to your simple pickle. This is usually made a couple of days before a feast and can be kept on your counter-top for a week. So go ahead and enjoy this ginger pickle.

  • Fresh cranberries - 1 heaped cup
  • Fresh ginger - 1/2 cup finely chopped - loosely packed 
  • Green chillies - 10-12  (adjust according to spice level of the chillies)
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Uncooked rice - 1/2 tsp 
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp.
  • Sea salt - as per taste 

  • Wash and drain the cranberries. Chop ginger and green chillies.
  • Dry roast fenugreek seeds and rice separately and powder them using a coffee/spice grinder.
  • Heat coconut oil and add mustard seeds, when they pop, add chopped ginger and green chillies and saute till slightly golden, for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add cranberry along with 1 cup of water, salt and turmeric powder. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer on low-medium heat till liquid is reduced almost half way thru. 
  • Check taste, add more salt if needed. If it is more spicy or sour add a pinch of coconut palm sugar to adjust.
  • Add the roasted fenugreek/rice powder and switch off flame. Let it stay there for 20-30 minutes more.
  • Let it cool and transfer to a clean glass container.
  • Can be stored on counter top for a week or so.

December 15, 2013

Cacao Nut Flattened Rice Granola

Monday mornings are usually hard on working moms because after a relaxing weekend, you have to drag yourself up for a busy week ahead. Sometimes you wish there was a quick'n'healthy way to fix the breakfast, which is wholesome and convenient at the same time. That is where this granola comes in handy.  This is wholesome, contains multiple sources of good fat (coconut oil, almonds, coconut) which is really essential in your breakfast and contains no refined sugar/oil/flour. This is also naturally gluten free since it is made with beaten rice instead of oats. 

  • Red flattened rice - 2 cups (a.k.a, aval or poha or beaten rice)
  • Puffed rice/puffed kamut - 1 cup (or use more flattened rice) 
  • Virgin coconut oil - 3 Tbs.
  • Raw honey - 1 Tbs (or more if you want a sweet granola)
  • Raw cacao powder - 2 Tbs. 
  • Fresh ginger - 1 tsp (finely grated) 
  • Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp.
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch
  • Raw almonds - 1/2 cup
  • Dried shredded coconut - 1 cup

  • Melt coconut oil and honey over warm water. Add cacao powder, cinnamon, ginger and himalayan salt. 
  • Add the beaten rice and puffed rice/kamut to a bowl, pour the cacao mixture over and mix well with hand. 
  • Add almonds and spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degree toaster oven for 10 minutes stirring/turning once midway thru. 
  • Add shredded coconut and mix well and spread evenly and bake for 3-5 minutes more. 
  • Let it cool completely and store in air tight container. 
  • Serve it as a breakfast cereal with milk/yogurt and sliced fruits or serve it as a snack.

December 13, 2013

Mulayari (Bamboo Rice) Payasam

Bamboo rice sounds special and is a delicacy, it is the rice taken from the bamboo grains. As some of you might know, bamboo is a grass just like rice, just that it grows very tall and flowers only once in 12 years. So the bamboo rice a rare variety of rice. I remember when I was young, the tribal folks in our village used to collect bamboo rice, wild honey and rare things like that, and we used to cherish it. As people got prosperous and started enjoying the 'modern' food they started forgetting the old wild gems. There is good news though, we are slowly realizing the value of those old gems and are going back to them, eating more natural and wholesome food. During our last trip to India, it was the year the bamboo flowered in my hometown and a lot of small shacks were selling bamboo rice.  Bamboo rice can be cooked and consumed just like any other rice. Since I got only a little of it, I am just using it for special desserts like this one.

Payasam is an essential part of the 'Sadya' (feast) in Kerala. There are 2 basic versions of payasams, one made with cow's milk and the other made with coconut milk. There are different subsets within these two, depending on the ingredients, consistency and occasion. The recipe here is a variation of 'Idichu pizhinga Payasam' which literally means payasam made with 'crushed and squeezed' coconut milk. The original version is made with milk from fresh coconut, and I have customized it as we don't get good coconuts all year through and hence substitute with the best alternative.

  • Mulayari (bamboo rice) - 1/2 cup
  • Coconut palm sugar - 3/4 cup 
  • Fresh ginger grated - 2 tsp (adjust according to preference) 
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch
  • Homemade coconut cream- 1/2 cup (see notes) 
  • Homemade coconut milk - 2 1/2 cups (see notes) 
  • Homemade light coconut milk  - 2 cups (see notes) 
  • Cardamom - 8-10 pods (skinned and powdered)

  • Soak bamboo rice overnight.
  • Drain and cook rice with 1 cup of water (use pressure cooker or a saucepan).
  • In a heavy bottom deep pan, add cooked bamboo rice and coconut sugar along with finely grated ginger and Himalayan salt.
  • Cook on medium heat stirring frequently till sugar is melted well, for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add light coconut milk and simmer on medium heat till the liquid is reduced to half, for about 20-25 minutes. 
  • Add coconut milk and simmer on medium heat till the liquid is reduced to half, for about 20-25 minutes. 
  • Switch off and add cardamom powder and coconut cream. Let if stand on warm stove top for 30 minutes or so. 
  • Serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled as per preference. Our family prefers warm payasam :-) 

Notes for coconut milk and cream: 

  • I make my coconut milk with organic dried shredded coconut.
  • Get coconut milk recipe here.
  • For this recipe I make coconut milk in 2 batches, one batch I use as is.  
  • Second batch is made earlier and kept refrigerated so that cream separated on top.
  • You can remove cream from top using a spoon and remaining will be your light coconut milk.

December 12, 2013

Purple Sweet Potato Stuffed Parathas

This is my son's favorite anytime of the day; for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack. I guess stuffed parathas (stuffed indian flat breads) are a universal favorite amongst Indian kids. It is a common topic of discussion among Indian moms as to what is the new stuffing that they have tried on their kids :-). So here's my latest, purple sweet potatoes. This of course is a healthier version of the potato stuffed parathas (classic Alu parathas).  Sweet potatoes have a much higher nutritional value compared to potatoes and makes it a better substitute without loosing much of the classic taste, and the purple sweet potato adds color to your plate too :-) 

For paratha (roti) dough:
  • Organic whole wheat pastry flour - 3/4 flour
  • Organic sprouted spelt flour - 3/4 flour 
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Filtered water  - 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs.
  • Sea salt  - as per taste

For stuffing:
  • Organic purple sweet potato - 1 medium
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp 
  • Ajwain (Carom seeds)  - 1 tsp
  • Black pepper - 1 tsp 
  • Sea salt  - as per taste

Make the dough: 
  • Mix all the ingredients and knead for 5-10 minutes. (I use my bread machine's dough setting for this, hand kneading works just fine) 

Make the Stuffing:
  • Wash the sweet potato and peel and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. 
  • Powder the spices using a coffee/spice grinder.
  • Steam cook sweet potato. Let it cool and mash well without big chunks.
  • Add the ground spices and salt and mix well and make sort of a dough. 

Make the stuffed parathas:
  • Divide the paratha dough and sweet potato into 6 equal sized balls each.
  • Take one ball from paratha dough, press it with your palms. Keep a sweet potato in the middle and cover it with the paratha dough.
  • Roll it out into 6' diameter paratha. Repeat for remaining dough and sweet potato stuffing. 
  • Heat a griddle on medium-high heat and the rolled out paratha. Once you start seeing small bubbles, flip and cook on the other side. Repeat this for a couple of times more till parathas are cooked evenly on both sides, it would take about 3-4 minutes in total. 
  • While parathas are still warm, spread a pat of ghee on each side. 

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