November 25, 2015

Spicy Kale Rice

Kale is health conscious America's favorite poster child, and is one of the 'super-veggies' always in the top of the 'you should be eating this' lists. Top celebrities, including presidents and many hollywood stars have made it very fashionable by claiming to eat it daily. Of course, there are a lot of Kale jokes around as well, and my son sometimes tells his friends that we are 'Kaleing' him :-), but then he loves anything made with Kale too.


Kale was also in the news recently when it got some attention for the news about the side effects of eating too much of it. I was reading thru some of them and most of the so called 'side effects' are caused by eating too much of it via raw salads, juices and salads. Also, from what I understand, in most of the cases the people are newbies to eating kale or any veggies for that matter, and all of a sudden if you start eating a ton of kale, that too in raw form, it may not suit your body right away. So the key is to cook the kale, and include a variety of veggies in your diet to have balance and eat everything (including kale) in moderation :-)

Coming to cooking with Kale, it is a very versatile green that can fit into a multitude of dishes, like a salad, or a soup, or a chip or an Indian inspired dish like this one. I feel it is better than spinach when substituted in some of the Indian spinach dishes because it has more character and texture. This is more of a fall dish when you get an abundance of fresh locally produced kale, but you can make it anytime of the year especially in winter when you really crave for something spicy. 



Ingredients:
  • Rice - 1 cup *
  • Kale - 6-8 leaves
  • Homemade tomato paste - 2 Tbs **
  • Green chilly - 3-4 
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves
  • Fresh ginger - 1/2 inch 
  • Cardamom - 3-4 pods
  • Clove - 3-4
  • Coconut oil - 2 Tbs
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as pet taste
Directions:
  • Cook rice with 1 and 3/4th cups of water.
  • Meanwhile, separate kale from the stem, tear into small pieces. 
  • Add kale pieces to a food processor along with ginger, garlic, green chilly, cardamom and cloves. Process till everything is very finely chopped, almost minced.
  • Heat a pan on medium heat, add coconut oil. Add kale mixture, tomato paste, turmeric powder and salt. 
  • Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously for about 5-8 minutes till the kale is cooked and soft.
  • Switch off, add cooked rice and mix well. 
  • Keep covered for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm. Enjoy!!

Notes:
* You can use any kind of rice, just judgement for cooking time and amount of water accordingly. If it is a whole grain rice, be sure to soak it for a few hours or overnight. 
** To make tomato paste: Quarter well ripe (I use 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 2-3 weeks.

November 11, 2015

Baked Pumpkin Kesari

Happy Deepavali to all of you. :-)


Deepavali, the festival of lights, is also a festival of sweets:). This time we are going seasonal  by making the Diwali sweet with locally grown pumpkin. Baked pumpkin kesari is inspired from baked mango kesari that I tasted at a friend's place. Kesari is a common sweet/snack from south India. Kesari can me made in multiple ways - steamed, baked or stovetop versions. It is usually made with cream of wheat or rava. I am making it with idli rice (coarsely ground par boiled rice). It is sweetened with sugar, unlike many other quicknhealthy desserts and sweets. So the key as always is moderation. Serve small portions :). 


Once again wishing all of you a Happy, Peaceful and Safe and Sweet Deepavali, and a great time ahead. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:
  • Pumpkin puree - 1 cup *
  • Idli rava - 1 cup **
  • Unrefined organic sugar - 3/4 cup  (Add more or less based on your preference)
  • Organic grass-fed butter - 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom - 5-6 pods (skin removed and powdered. 
  • Ghee or coconut oil or greasing the baking dish.
Directions:
  • Preheat oven at 350 degree F. Grease a 8 X 8 baking dish with ghee or coconut oil.
  • Heat a pan on medium heat and dry roast the idli rava. Keep stirring taking care not to burn. Switch off just when it starts to turn golden. You can optionally add a a teaspoon of ghee at this point.
  • Blend the pumpkin puree along with cardamom powder and butter. 
  • Add the pumpkin mix to the roasted rava and mix well.
  • Pour the mixture to the greases baking dish.Bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes. 
  • Let it cool and cut into desired shapes and sizes.
  • Enjoy!!

Notes:
*  To make pumpkin puree:
  • Cut pumpkin into quarters and bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Let it cool, peel the skin, remove the core and seeds. Puree the flesh using a blender or food 
  • If you want to make a small batch of pumpkin puree, cut out wedges from pumpkin, remove skin, core and seeds and make thin slices. Heat a pan on medium heat, drizzle coconut oil and arrange the slices without crowding. Roast till slightly brown for about 5 minutes.Flip the slices and repeat on the other side. Let it cool and puree. 

** Idli rava is coarsely ground parboiled rice. You can use regular rava/suji/semolina.

November 8, 2015

Pumpkin Parathas (Pumpkin Flatbread)

My son loves Parathas with pretty much anything. So going with the seasonal theme, it is pumpkin parathas this time of the year. Pumpkin comes loaded with vitamins and minerals - vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium to name a few. You can use any variety of pumpkin for this, or you can also use any winter squash too. Pumpkins also give a nice color to your Parathas, you can serve it for festive occasions like Diwali to add color to your food and life :-)

Since pumpkin has a lot of moisture content, I am using it to directly knead the dough instead of making the paratha stuffing from it. You can serve it as a breakfast with yogurt, or serve it as dinner with your choice of side dishes, or you can also use it as a wrap for a to-go meal.



Ingredients:
  • Whole wheat flour - 2 cups (or more if needed for kneading)
  • Pumpkin - 2 cups (Skinned and cubed)
  • Fresh ginger root - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves 
  • Green chilly - 2 
  • Dried fenugreek leaves - 2 Tbs (Kasuri methi) 
  • Dried mango powder - 2 tsp (Amchur powder) 
  • Sea salt - as per taste. 
  • Coconut oil - 2 Tbs
Directions:
  • Add the pumpkin, ginger, garlic and green chilly to food processor and process till finely chopped (almost ground).
  • Add wheat flour and all remaining ingredients to the food processor and continue to process till everything mixes together and forms a smooth dough. 
  • If the mixture is too dry drizzle water and continue. If the mixture is too sticky add a few tablespoons of wheat flour. It all depends on the moisture content of the pumpkin, use your judgement here.
  • Take out the dough, make a smooth ball out of the dough and keep aside covered for about 30 minutes or so.
  • When ready to make the parathas, heat a cast iron griddle. 
  • Take out small lime sized balls and roll out into approximately 6 inch circles. 
  • Cook on the hot pan till you start small bubbles rising up. Flip and repeat the same 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.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  • Serve with yogurt or with your choice of side dishes.
  • Enjoy!!

November 4, 2015

Almond-butter Ginger Laddus

It is Diwali time and that means it is time for home made sweets. I like to bring in some spice to the sweets, it adds a nice balance and takes the monotony out. Balance is the essence of life, and this is true with the environment and with our food. So ginger is the balance for this laddu inspired by two traditional sweets/snacks, one from the north of India and one from the south, Besan laddu and Avalose unda. The almond butter gives it a nutty taste, and the ginger and cardamom elevates it to a different level. So try it out for Diwali, it is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and as always quick'n'healthy :-)


Ingredients:
  • Homemade almond butter - 1 cup (recipe here)
  • Unrefined coconut palm sugar - 1 cup
  • Channa dal - 1 cup
  • Fresh ginger root - 2-3 inch long *
  • Cardamom - 5-6 skin removed
Directions:
  • Powder the channa dal using a dry blender. Heat a pan on medium heat and dry roast the channa dal powder till it turns slightly golden. Keep stirring taking care not to burn the powder.
  • Powder coconut sugar with cardamom and ginger.
  • Mix everything together either using your hands or using food processor. 
  • Starting making truffle sized balls or laddus. If you feel the mix is not holding together, you can warm the mix in a pan. Make balls while the mx is still warm. This will also help you make the smooth balls.
  • This makes around 24 laddus. 
  • Enjoy!!

* Note: If you are planning to store these laddus for a while, you might want to use dried ginger. Since I make these in small batches and share it with friends and family to be consumed immediately, fresh ginger works just fine.

November 2, 2015

Oven Roasted Breadfruit (Kadachakka) w/ Sun-dried Tomato Salsa

Heard of Breadfruit? It is quite common in our part of India and we call it as Kadachaka. In Kerala cuisine, we use it to make a variety of side dishes. Intrigued by its English name, I wanted to see what it has in common with bread, so here is the simplest form. Since this is a starchy vegetable, I prefer to serve it as is. Just cut it like bread slices and bake it, and serve it for breakfast, simple enough ?? :-) Some research online tells me that this is very close to a typical Jamaican breakfast. They serve either roasted or boiled breadfruit slices along with an array of sides and sauces. I like mine with a freshly made salsa, while my son loved it with almond butter. 



Ingredients: 
  • Breadfruit - 1/2 medium
  • EV olive oil - 2-3 tablespoon
  • Sea salt and black pepper - as per taste

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove the skin and core from breadfruit.
  • Slice them into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Arrange the slices on a cookie sheet with a pat of coconut oil.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes turning once till you see slight golden brown on both sides.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Serve with your favorite salsa, sauce or nut butter.
  • Enjoy!!


Note:
  • If you do not want to switch on the oven, just heat a cast-iron or non-stick pan on medium heat, drizzle a tablespoon of coconut oil, arrange the breadfruit slices and roast till slightly golden, for about 4-5 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. 

Sun-dried Tomato Salsa (Ingredients) 
  • Tomato - 3 (small)
  • Sun-dried tomato - 1/4 cup (loosely packed)
  • Red onion - 1/2
  • Serrano pepper - 1 -2  (adjust according to spice level)
  • Sea salt
  • EV Olive oil - 2 Tbs

Directions:
  • Add all ingredients to a food processor or molcajete and process till desired consistency is reached. I like to keep mine a little chunky.
  • Enjoy!!
Note: btw, did I mention that this year I made my own home made sun-dried (oven-dried actually) tomatoes? I made a few batches with my local farm-grown tomatoes. I am still playing around with oven temperature and timing and not ready to post anything on that yet.






October 26, 2015

Choco Nut-butter Cups

I love chocolate desserts that melt in your mouth. Here is one from the Quick'n'Healthy kitchen that is a variation of 'Reese's peanut-butter cups'. Made with pure coconut oil and your choice of nut-butter (Almond or Hazelnut works best) and sweetened with raw honey. Add your favorite flavor - mint, orange, lemon, ginger or anything you can think of, and make this your own 'melt-in-your-mouth' nut-butter cups. Adding mint to it will give it the added coolness.


Ingredients:

  • Homemade almond butter - 1/4 cup (replace with your choice of nut butter) 
  • Virgin cold pressed coconut oil - 1 cup
  • Raw cacao powder - 1/4 cup
  • Raw honey - 1/4 cup
  • Mint extract - few drops (optional)

Directions:

  • Blend everything together using a blender or just whisk them together in a bowl.
  • Line paper liners in a mini cupcake tins.
  • Fill the paper liners with the mix and let it set in the freezer for about an hour.
  • Keep them refrigerated till ready to serve.
  • This makes about 15 mini cups. 
  • Enjoy!!




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.



August 2, 2015

Watermelon Strawberry Refresher Juice

Happy Friendship Day to all !!! Thanks to all our friends and readers, QuickNHealthy has crossed 100K views today. So here is a toast to all of you!! 

Summer is the time for watermelons and we find different ways to use it. Summer is also the time you do outdoor activities and sports, and after the activity you feel like having a refreshing, yet light drink. So here is a refresher juice that is in the true spirit of friendship and summer. It is light, a great thirst quencher, looks wow, and is in season.




  • Watermelon - 3 cups (chunks)
  • Strawberries - 1 cup
  • Dates - 4-5 (adjust according to desired sweetness)
  • Blend everything to a beautiful and delicious smoothie to refresh your summer day
  • Serve with ice, or just cool the juice and have it. I use frozen strawberries so you don't have to use ice at all. 
  • Serves 3. Enjoy!! 



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:


May 12, 2015

Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing


Spring is here and so are salad days. I enjoy eating salads especially when there are baby greens and mixed fruits in my salad.  I feel that adding fruits to your salad is the best way to get into the habit of eating salad, mangoes and strawberries are the best. They make salads interesting and appetizing. To make it a little more enticing and healthy, you can try a variety of homemade salad dressings.


Why a salad dressing? According to nutritionists and food scientists, eating a salad without fat is actually less healthy. (read more here and here). The reason is that fat is needed by our bodies to absorb the nutrients in vegetables. So why homemade? Simple, because not all fats are same, and not all salad dressings are the same (read an interesting article on this topic here). So it is important that you choose good fats and other clean ingredients to make your own salad dressing.


Ingredients: 
  • Organic chia seeds - 2 Tbs.
  • Yellow mustard seeds - 2 tsp.(if using black mustard, use only 1/2 tsp) 
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Unpasteurized Apple cider vinegar - 3 Tbs
  • Local unfiltered honey - 2 Tbs
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Filtered water - 1 cup
  • EV Olive oil - 3 Tbs.
Directions: 
  • Blend everything except olive oil in Vitamix at high speed for about a minute or till you get a creamy dressing. Add olive oil an whip for a few seconds. 
  • Transfer to a glass bottle and keep refrigerated up to a week. 
  • This serves 3 to 4. Enjoy with you favorite salad ! 



Recipe source: Eat The Rainbow

May 1, 2015

Homemade Nutella

Are you a fan of Nutella? Hardly seen anyone who does not like it after having tasted it. We were big Nutella lovers too and used to stock it in our pantry. We used to have it as a spread for bread, better still if you use banana along with it inside your sandwich. Well, it is best if you just take a spoonful and put it inside your mouth. So we used it a lot till we started discovering more about commercial food and since then have not used it. Looking at the ingredients, you will find that Nutella is loaded with sugar and other ingredients which are strict no-no in quicknhealthy kitchen for the past few years.  That does not mean that we do not like the taste of it anymore as the hazelnut-choco combo is awesome :-).

So I have been trying to recreate homemade versions of it which are close to the original in taste, but comes devoid of all the unwanted ingredients, and hence does not have the infinite shelf life like the branded version. But who cares about the shelf life when we can make it as much as we want, when we want it and using only ingredients that you believe in. So here is my latest version of homemade Nutella which is made with organic hazelnuts, pure organic chocolate, grass fed organic dairy and sweetened with only dates and pure honey. We can call it as Nutrella !!!



Ingredients:
  • Hazelnuts - 3 cups
  • Dates - 2 cups (packed) 
  • Raw unfiltered honey - 1/4 cup
  • Unsweetened baking chocolate - 6 oz 
  • Organic cream - 1/4 cup (I just separate cream from top of my milk can) 
  • Organic whole milk - 3/4 cup 

Directions:
  • Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast at 350 Deg F for 15-20 minutes. Let it cool completely. Remove skin as much as possible (just by rubbing them between your palms. 
  • Add the nuts and dates to a vitamix and process at high speed tamping down as you go till you get a nut butter consistency. Try to do this as fast as possible and finish everything under a minute, else the nut butter might heat up and start separating oil.
  • Chop the chocolate into chunks, melt them over a pot of hot water till nice and creamy. 
  • Add the melted chocolate, honey, cream and milk to the hazelnut butter and process till everything is nice and creamy. 
  • There you go, your homemade Nutella is ready. Scoop up and fill into glass jars. Let it cool down completely. Close the jars and keep refrigerated. 
  • Makes about 4 cups of homemade Nutella. 
  • Enjoy!!

April 23, 2015

Rajasthani Guar Ki Sabji (Cluster Beans in Rajasthani Style)

During our recent trip to the north of India, we did the famous golden triangle, Delhi-Agra-Jairpur. While it was a trip to discover our cultural heritage and learn the rich history of India, it was also a culinary journey for us to experience the range of different styles of cuisine from each region, and from different types of eateries ranging from street food to exquisite five star food. One of my favorite on the trip was the Rajasthani vegetarian thali that we had at the famed Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar restaurant (known as LMB) in Jaipur known for its traditional Rajasthani food. It was nothing like the typical food that we categorize as 'North Indian'. It had a wide range of vegetarian dishes, each one had a distinct taste and texture. I was an instant fan of Rajasthani cuisine. I have been trying to re-create some of those flavors back here in the quick'n'healthy kitchen. 

Today's post is a quick side dish with guar beans or cluster beans (a.k.a Kothamara in Malayalam, and Kothavarangai in Tamil). Cluster beans has a distinct flavor and texture compared to green beans or long beans. They are also powerhouses of nutrients with loads of vitamins and minerals, they are diabetic friendly, heart healthy and also bowel healthy. A bunch of reasons to love these beans and here is one more way to enjoy them :-)




Ingredients:
  • Guar beans (cluster beans) - 1 lb
  • Campari tomatoes - 5-6
  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch piece
  • Garlic - 4 cloves
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Amchur (dry mango powder) - 2 tsp
  • Homemade garam masala  - 1/2 tsp
  • Homemade coriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Your choice of unrefined cooking oil - 1 Tbs (I used virgin coconut oil)
Directions:
  • Wash and trim the beans, chop into approximately 1/2 inch long pieces. 
  • Add ginger, garlic, green chilly and one tomato, all roughly chopped into food processor or blender and make a coarse masala paste. Keep aside. Chop remaining tomatoes fine.
  • Heat oil on medium heat, add the ground masala paste and sauté till the raw smell goes away. Add tomatoes and sauté till soft. 
  • Add chopped beans, turmeric powder and the spice powders. Stir well to coat the beans with the masala evenly. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cook covered. 
  • Once the beans are almost done (in about 10-15 minutes), add salt and continue cooking, stirring frequently.
  • Check/adjust the salt and spice level and switch off when the beans are done well.
  • Serve warm with freshly made rotis or rice. 
  • Enjoy!!


  • Note 1: If you buy conventionally grown beans, before using, soak them in water along with sea salt, turmeric powder and baking soda for about 30 minutes. Drain, wash and rinse well. 
  • Note 2: Homemade coriander powder is made by grinding coriander seeds in your coffee grinder. 
  • Note 3: Garam masala is a mix of ground spices which can vary from region to region or even family to family. Here is my recipe:
    • Fennel seeds  - a handful
    • Cinnamon - 5-6 inch long pieces
    • Green cardamom - 4-5 
    • Black pepper - a few 
    • Cloves - a few
    • Dry roast the spices on medium heat till nice aroma comes out. Let it cool completely and grind to a powder using coffee grinder. 
Sharing this on: HealthyHappyGreenNaturalParty

April 18, 2015

Pineapple Payasam

Payasam is an essential part of a Vishu Sadya (feast) being the main dessert. It is also called as Kheer in some parts of India. In Kerela, we make so many varieties of payasams. One of our favorite is the Chakka (Jackfruit) pradhaman which is usually made during the vishu season when jackfruits are in abundance. Pradhaman is a payasam variety from Kerala where the base is coconut milk instead of milk.



In this part of the world it is difficult to get fresh jackfuit in season, hence we have to innovate with what we get. So instead of the chakka pradhaman, I make the kaitha-chakka (Pineapple) pradhaman. Caramelized pineapple brings its own distinct flavor to the payasam and it is one that we all love to have. So go ahead and try this one and you will love it.


Ingredients:
  • Pineapple - 1/2 (1 cup chopped)
  • Coconut palm sugar - 3/4 cup
  • Homemade coconut cream - 1/2 cup (see notes) 
  • Homemade coconut milk - 2 cups (see notes) 
  • Homemade light coconut milk - 2 cups (see notes) 
  • Ginger powder - 1 tsp
  • Himalayan pink salt - a pinch
  • Cardamom - 6 (skinned and crushed)
  • Homemade ghee - 1 Tbs
  • Ripe banana - 1/2 (chopped)

Directions:
  • Peel and remove core from pineapple. Chop into really fine pieces.
  • Add chopped pineapple with a pinch of himalayan salt into a saucepan and start cooking on low medium heat. Cook covered so that pineapple cooks on its own liquid.
  • Once the pineapple is really soft and most of moisture is reduced, add coconut sugar and ground ginger. Continue cooking on low medium heat stirring frequently till pineapple is kind of caramelized, in about 20 minutes. 
  • Add light coconut milk and continue cooking on medium heat, stirring frequently till liquid is reduced to half, in about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk and continue cooking on medium heat, stirring frequently till liquid is again reduced to half, in about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add cardamom powder and coconut cream and switch off.
  • Heat ghee in a small pan, add chopped banana and sauté till golden. Add to the payasam.
  • Let the payasam stay on the warm stove top for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy warm!!


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.
Notes: 
  • You can substitute coconut palm sugar with equal amount of powdered jaggery.
  • Substitute ghee with coconut oil for a vegan version. 
  • For garnish, instead of chopped banana try finely chopped coconut pieces for a crunchy bite in your payasam. 

April 14, 2015

Mambazha Pulissery

Happy Vishu to all my friends and readers !!!

I  was reading an article on Vishu (and the dishes made for Vishu) in a Malayalam newspaper yesterday. It was a trip down the memory lane for me. Idichakka thoran (mashed breadfruit stir fry), chakka erissery (jackfruit cooked with coconut and black pepper), kani vellarikka pachady (cucumber salad with yogurt and coconut), chakka pradhaman (jackfruit payasam), mambazha pulissery (mango cooked with coconut and yogurt) ... all watering my mouth and tearing my eyes, and I could smell the wonderful aroma at the same time. Those simple pleasures in life..., It was a great nostalgic feeling.




Mambazha pulliseri is a favorite for all of us. So, here is my version of 'mambazha pulissery' made with the Guatemalan mangoes that I get in this part of the world.  


Ingredients:
  • Ripe mango - 1 large
  • Water - 1 cup
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea Salt -as per taste
  • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup 
  • Organic homemade yogurt - 2 cups
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Cumin seeds -1 tsp
  • For optional tempering:
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 tsp
  • Black mustard seeds -  1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Red chilly - 1
Directions:
  • Skin the mango, remove the seed and cut into small bite size pieces.
  • Start cooking with 1 cup of water, turmeric and salt.
  • While mango is being cooked, grind, coconut, cumin seeds, green chilly into a very fine paste, add the yogurt to the mix and whip all together.
  • Once the mango is cooked and about half of the liquid is reduced (in about 8-10 minutes) add the coconut yogurt mix and reduce flame to low.
  • Continue cooking on low flame for 5-6 more minutes, stirring frequently so that it does not boil or curdle up.
  • Remove from flame and wait for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Optional tempering - heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chilly, when mustard seeds pop and fenugreek seeds are slightly red, garnish over the pulissery. If you are not used to Indian cooking, do take care, keep everything ready by your side and keep a lid handy so that you don't have popped mustard seeds all over your stove top :-)