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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas Holiday Fruit Cake

Here is my last post for the year. Christmas and the holiday season brings a lot of memories for Malayalees.  One such memory would definitely be a piece of dark flavorful fruit cake. It is probably a representative flavor of the season and will be something that every Malayalee would have had over the years during this season. Initially when we moved to the US, we were not able to find Kerala style fruit cake here and I started to attempt to bake my versions of it. This is one cake I have been making for the past 14 years, though I have been refining the recipe every year based on our increased awareness about food and the cooking ingredients used. Nowadays, even though we can buy the Kerala fruit cake from any Malayali bakery, we still stick with our homemade version. This is the latest version of my christmas holiday fruit cake. It is made with all organic and pure ingredients, yet not compromising much on the flavor. Though, this recipe has egg, I have made eggless versions of th…

Tropical Chickpea Stew

During our recent trip to a middle eastern restaurant, we were having a conversation about chickpeas. During the discussion we found that it is one ingredient that is used in so many cultures, and each one used in a different way, that you cannot make out that they are all from the same ingredient as all of them taste so different. It is probably one of the most common ingredient every ethnic group finds some use in their kitchen. We use chick peas in many ways in India itself, starting with the varieties of channa masala and besan (chickpea flour) used for many snacks. Then we have the hummus from the middle east, the different chickpea stews from the African continent, all the different types of chickpea salads from the Americas and Europe, chickpea soups from Europe and Asia... the list goes on and on. Also chickpeas fits well into many diet regimes, if you are into any.. vegan, gluten-free, paleo, low carb. you name it. Moreover, chickpeas come loaded with nutrients, are high fibe…

Eggless 'eggnog'

Wishing all my friends and readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays !!!
Since we are vegetarians for a month, we are having a simple and quicknhealthy Christmas breakfast. Moroccan anise bread served with African style almond mango stew along with a slice of our homemade eggless christmas fruit cake and 'eggless' eggnog. If you are a vegetarian, or vegan,  or just cannot stand raw egg (like me) and you just like a simple taste, then this recipe is for you.

Homemade coconut milk- 3 cupsCashew nuts - 6Dates - 8-10Cardamom - 5-6 (skin removed)Fresh grated nutmeg - for garnish
Blend all ingredients to a smooth consistency. Optionally you can warm it on stove top for a warm eggnog. Pour into 3 serving glasses and grate nutmeg on each.Serve immediately.Enjoy!!

Patra w/ Collard Leaves

Patra is a Gujarati dish which is made with steamed colocasia leaves and coated with a batter made with besan (chickpea flour) or rice flour. My version here is made with collard leaves and the batter is made with soaked channa dal. This can be served as a healthy snack, appetizer or as a side dish which is gluten-free, vegan and quicknhealthy :).

Ingredients: Collard greens - 1 bunch ( about 12 leaves)Channa dal - 1 cup soaked for 6-8 hoursGreen chilly - 1-2Lemon juice - from a lemonAsafoetida - a pinchAjwain/Omam - 1/2 tsp (crushed)Turmeric powder - 1/4 tspnSea salt - as per taste
Directions: Drain and grind the channa dal with salt, lemon juice and green chilly adding very extra little water (just enough for the blender to run).Add the spices and mix well.Wash the collard greens and wipe them with a kitchen towel. Cut them thru the center and remove the stem. Lay one collard leaf half with ribbed face up. Take about 2 tablespoons of the batter and spread evenly on the leaf. Lay one mor…

Apricot Energy Bars

How often do you get goodie-bags filled with junk? Yes I know, it is an over debated topic as to whether distributing goodie-bags is a good idea or not. My son does not get much of them nowadays because he is older, but have got a fair share of it in the past, though I have to admit that many parents have been conscious to give my son books rather than candies and other junk.

A few weeks back we were pleasantly surprised to get a goodie-bag at a birthday party hosted by a close friend which was not filled with junk, instead it was filled with real 'goodies'. It had an assortment of healthy organic snacks. My son was pleasantly surprised and loved it, and so did we. This post is inspired from one of those goodies, an Apricot-nut energy bar. I made it right in time when my husband was getting ready for his next travel and  was looking for good snacks for the long haul flight (as we have stopped eating food from flights).

My usual energy bars are nutty and my son always wanted me…

Green Mango Quinoa

Raw mango could take on different meanings. We have always called the green sour mango as raw mango, while in these parts raw mango is the ripe mango fruit eaten raw. Anyway, what I mean by raw mango is the green and sour un-ripened mango. So the raw mango is very widely used ingredient in Indian cuisine and they are great addition to make any bland dish to a lip puckering one. One of our favorite dish with it is the raw mango rice, but what we have for today is a take on it using quinoa. Here is a great blend of Indian and South western tastes which can be put together in under 30 minutes. It is a perfect warm meal for a winter day.

Quinoa - 1 cup (soaked overnight or up to 24 hours)Green Mango - 1 largeGarlic - 4-5 clovesGreen chilly - 2-3Chopped cilantro - 1/2 cupEV olive oil - 1 TbsSea salt - as per tasteChopped almonds - 2 Tbs  Directions: Drain and rinse quinoa well. Cook with 1 cup of water. Keep aside.Remove skin from mango and chop very fine. I use my vitamix at a l…

Cranberry Puliyogare

Cranberry is one of those seasonal things that we love. In fact, a lot of people do not really know that cranberry is a sour sweetless fruit as they always associate it with cranberry juice, syrup and crainsins, all loaded with additional sugar. I never liked that cranberry, but the real fresh cranberry is a whole different story, it is awesome and can be used in so many different ways. This recipe is a South Indian classic called Puliyogare.
Puliyogare is a traditional dish and can be eaten at any time of the day :-). As the name suggests, it has a sour/tangy taste. This rice dish gets the sour taste from tamarind (and from lime in some parts). It is also a staple at most temples as a prasadam. This is the case in tbe US as well where most temples serve this dish and we have always look forward to it as part of the temple visits :-). 
Many of our traditional dishes call for sour ingredients like raw mango, tamarind, lime, cocum, etc. and cranberry is a great substitute for each of them…

Quick'n'Healthy Thanksgiving 2014

Herzliche Danksagung’, Feliz Día de Gracias, felice ringraziament, Joyeux Action de grace, 感謝幸せ, سعيد عيد الشكر, God Helgdag, Happy Thanksgiving !!!

Thanksgiving is one of my family's favorite annual festivals for many reasons, the primary being that it is to being thankful to family, friends and the higher element for what we have, such a honest and noble feeling. Another reason is it gives an opportunity to meet with close ones. And then being the foodies we are, it is an opportunity to try out new recipes that is in the true spirit of the season. This year we are going global with our menu by having one dish from every continent. Doing this to symbolize the need to live in harmony together with all people in the world, no matter what race, religion, culture, region, cast, gender and preferences they have. 
We see so many wars and sufferings around the world just because some of us cannot accept the faith and practices of others. Would it not be so good if we can all accept that…

Homemade Yogurt-Coconut Granola

Do you still take store brought breakfast cereals? If yes, then is is time for a rethink. Now what if we can make our own healthy breakfast cereals ahead on weekends?, and that too if they are easy to do and tastes better than those store brought stuff that is highly processed, may contain GMOs and laden with sugar and what not. 
I have made different varieties of homemade granolas before, but since we have started learning about soaking and activating nuts and grains, I have been making less of them. Recently I have been experimenting a lot with soaking and dehydrating my nuts and grains. Maybe it is time for me to invest in a dehydrator. For now, I am using my oven at the lowest temperature setting as my makeshift defydrator. Idea is to keep as much of the nutrients and active enzymes from the ingredints intact by not heating at a higher temperature. In this granola for example, I use soaked oats, soaked nuts, honey and homemade yogurt, and all of them have active nutrients which are…

Purple Puttu

Purple is the color of the season at the QuicknHealthy kitchen :-). I have been using a lot of purple vegetables this season including sweet potatoes, cabbages, potatoes and cauliflowers. Have used the sweet potato more than others this season in a variety of ways. The recipe today is a variation of a staple breakfast from Kerala. 'Puttu' is very nostalgic to every malayali. They are steaming hot rice cakes traditionally made with roasted rice flour, slightly moist, put in a cylinder shaped mold with layers of coconut and steamed. Most non-malayalees find it hard to understand how the rice powder holds together to stay in shape, and that is a secret known only to us mallus :-). In olden days, when people used to work in the fields, it was probably a good idea to eat a high carb breakfast like this one. I think it is not really a good idea for people like us, who sit in front of a computer for a living, to do the same. So while we try to indulge in our traditional delicacies w…

Purple Olan

Olan is probably is the most simple dish from kerala. This 'semi-cooked seasonal vegetables simmered in coconut milk' is very mild and oh-so-easy to make. There are variations as we go from North to South of Kerala, so why not add a New England fall version too :-). This version of olan is made with purple sweet potato and ash gourd cooked in homemade coconut milk.

Purple sweet potato, which is found mostly during the fall season in our grocery stores, is one of my favorite because of the color it brings to your table. It is also versatile enough to be added to many dishes like mashed potatoes (err..mashed sweet potatoes) for your breakfast, roasted sweet potato salad for your lunch or oven roasted purple sweet potato fries for an evening snack. This season though, I have recreated our favorite olan with purple sweet potato giving it a different color and flavor. Purple sweet potatoes are a high source of antioxidants from anthocyanins which gives them the rich purple color. T…

Asian Style Coleslaw

What do we do with all those green and purple cabbage that you find in abundance during this season? I have been doing a lot of pickling projects these days. Still mastering the 'kimchi making'..a post will soon follow. Today's recipe though is one of my favorite salads. Though it has been my favorite, it was not selling much with my family until I added an asian touch to it with some peanuts and ginger in the dressing. Fresh purple cabbage and Mutsu apple right from our farm stand mixed with some nice yogurt based dressing strikes a right balance of crunchiness and flavors.
Ingredients for coleslaw: Purple cabbage - 1/4 of a medium headGreen apple - 1/2 (Mutsu or Granny Smith)Apple cider vinegar - 1 TbsEV olive oil - 1 Tbs For dressing: Organic peanuts - a handful (lightly roasted)Garlic - 1 cloveOnion - 1 Tbs (chopped)Fresh ginger - 1 tsp (chopped)Red chilly -1-2Apple cider vinegar - 1 TbsEV olive oil - 2 TbsHimalayan salt - as per tasteHomemade organic yogurt - 1/2 cup Dire…

Easy 'Cheesy' Kale Chips

These days, you cannot miss seeing packets of kale chips by different brands, big and small, on the shelves of your grocery store. I have tried a few myself. They are an awesome concept for a couple of reasons. You can satisfy your chips cravings with this good alternative. It is also a creative way to eat kale for those who do not care for the vegetable otherwise. I have had couple of issues with the store bought kale chips though. Some of them are too salty for me, and some others tasted rancid maybe because of poor quality of nuts used. Hence I needed to come up with my own version so that I can control the flavors and the ingredients. My version is not raw, but I use the lowest temperature in my oven to mimic dehydration and to preserve as much nutrition as possible. Though, I am calling these 'cheesy' it does not have any cheese in it, but has a cheesy flavor from the nutritional yeast. So try these crunchy delights and you could get hooked on to it. Nothing wrong with th…

Honey-Nut-Squash Buckwheat Crepe

If there is one vegetable that you can associate with Fall, it must be pumpkins/winter Squashes. There a quite a few favorite winter squash recipes that I have been making over the 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. Here is a recipe for a quick'n'healthy honey nut squash buckwheat crepes. This can be made with any other winter squash (butternut or kabocha). Instead of buckwheat, you can also make these with any millets.

Ingredients: Honey nut squash - 1 cup (cubes)Organic buckwheat groats - 1 cup (where to buy)Organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs. (where to buy)Sea salt - as per taste
Directions: Soak the buckwheat in about 1 …

Homemade Applesauce

Again another apple recipe that I was hesitant to make all these years, but I gave in to my son this time around. I never attempted it because I did not want to loose the nutrition by cooking apples. I decided to take a balanced approach, which might seem obvious from some of my recent posts. I am trying to find the right balance between the strict mom who looks at everything from the nutritional point of view and a loving mom who wants satisfy her son's cravings with homemade goodies :-).
I have made hot apple cider and apple sauce a few times this apple season. I buy apples from our local farm's apple pie blend, which is a mix of a few different kinds of apples. Mixing up a few different varieties gives the apple sauce a nice mix of sweetness, tartness and other flavors. I did not add any sugar (of course not, as I cannot stray too far from my quicknhealthy principles ;-)). I also did not add any flavor enhancers since we all like food plain and simple, and no preservatives,…

Sweet Pumpkin Boli (Puran Poli)

Deepavali (Diwali) traditions can be different for different people as India is so very diverse and each state and region has their own legend, tradition and tastes. Our Deepavali tradition have evolved a lot from what we have grown up with to what we do now. For my family, Deepavali (like many other festivals) was celebrated in a low-key way. We did an oil massage and took bath early in the morning, my father would get us a box of assorted sweets and that was about it. My husband's family also did not celebrate Deepavali elaborately, but since they were all big foodies, they had some traditions with the dishes that they made for Deepavali. They make a special breakfast with vadas (deep fried lentil doughnuts) and boli (sweet stuffed flat bread). After we moved to the US, we have kind of made a mix of these along with a few others into our family's Deepavali traditions. Traditions like wearing an Indian attire to work, sharing Diwali goodies and going out for lunch to an Indi…

Choco-Nut Laddus

It is that time of the year when people all over the world start the holiday season. Indians celebrate Diwali irrespective of which part of India they come from, or which part of the world they live in. Different parts of India have different versions of the legends behind the celebrations and the traditions associated with it. One that is common to most must be celebrating Diwali with sweets. There are a variety of sweets made for Diwali depending on geography and the local resources. This time my Diwali sweet has a global touch to it as it has ingredients that come from different parts of the world. Almonds from California, organic peanuts from India,  organic cashews from Vietnam, organic dates from Tunisia, organic coconut palm sugar from SE Asia and a pure form of organic cacao paste from Peru.. yes I made laddus with cacao this time. I was in fact a little afraid if it might turn out to be more of a truffle than a laddu, but I am very happy with the end product. It is a good mix…

Spiced Hot Apple Cider

My son has been asking me to make this hot cider that he had at school. I kept denying because I was not going to cook apple, since cooking will get rid of all vitamin C, and more nutrients might be lost during straining of the pulp. This apple season though, I thought of making it once for his sake. I have to say I am totally sold. The infused spices along with the mildly sweet, sour & crisp apples makes it a perfect formula for a fall evening. I am not claiming this to be a totally quick'n'healthy drink, but if you live in the New England area, and enjoy the fall season, then you definitely should give this a try :). It is so soothing and can be had anytime of the day, best for a cool evening. 

Apples - 3 (I used 3 different kinds Empire, Gala and Mutsu)Raisins - a small handfulCinnamon stick - 1(crushed)Cloves - 4-5Ginger - 2 TbsFiltered water - 3 cupsDirections:
Add cubed apples, along with the spices, raisins and water into a soup pot or pressure cooker. Coo…

Hot'n'Sweet Beets Pickle

There is a lot of buzz around probiotics these days. Probiotics in simple terms is good bacteria, which is pro-life (no, not the political term, but the real meaning of it). Probiotics are important for your gut health, digestion and improving immunity; to name a few. There are a lot of ways in which you can include probiotics in your food. Probiotics are used across the world by many traditional cultures. Most traditional foods from around the world had their probiotics, just that we might not have thought of them in that manner. Some of the most common foods include yogurt, sauerkraut/kimchi (both are fermented cabbage preparations used across Europe and East Asia), Kefir (used in Eastern Europe and South America), Miso (Fermented Soy used in Japan and east asia), Kombucha (fermented green tea) and a variety of pickles.

Being from India, I know that the Indian diet has a lot of probiotics as part of our daily diet. First and foremost would be yogurt, which has the good milk culture. …

Hearty Bottle Gourd Soup

Bottle gourd is another neglected vegetable just like ash gourd. Also known as churakka, lauki, sorakkaai in different Indian languages, it is very popular in Indian cuisine. Just like ash gourd, it is simple in taste and comes loaded with nutritious and medicinal properties and is a highly recommended vegetable by Ayurveda. Besides, it reduces fatigue and keeps you fresh, it is rich in thiamin, vitamin C, zinc, iron and magnesium.  Also, bottle gourd fights constipation as it is fiber rich, and bottle gourd juice being alkaline helps with acidity, indigestion and ulcers. Just like ash gourd, it is low in calorie and has high water content  which makes it very diabetic friendly. Today's recipe is yet another simple hearty soup that is great for the fall weather. 

Ingredients  For Soup: Bottle gourd - 1 small or 1/2 medium. Fresh ginger root - 1 tbspGreen chilly - 2-3Turmeric powder - 1/2 tspSea salt - as per tasteFresh homemade coconut milk (recipe here) - 1 cupFor optional Garnishi…