November 30, 2013

Pumpkin Coconut Cookies

Holiday season is probably the busiest baking time in any American kitchen. I generally do not go crazy over baking because of fear of consuming tons of sugar. I just bake a batch or two of cookies or a couple holiday cakes during this season.



There is one favorite cookie that I have been making for the past few years - Oatmeal coconut cookies or ANZAC biscuits. This time though, I decided to make one change and replace oatmeal with grated pumpkin. I flavored half of the batch with cardamom and the other half with cinnamon both flavors compliment the pumpkin flavor very well.

  • Sugar Pumpkin - 1/2 cup (grated - see notes)
  • Organic whole wheat pastry flour - 1/2 cup
  • Organic dried shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Organic coconut palm sugar - 3-4 Tbs 
  • Virgin coconut oil - 3 Tbs.
  • Local honey - 1 Tbs.
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Warm water - 1 Tbs.
  • Powdered cardamom or cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp. ( optional )

Dry ingredients:
  • Mix grated pumpkin, coconut, flour, sugar and cardamom/cinnamon in a bowl. 
Wet ingredients:
  • In a small bowl add coconut oil and honey and melt keeping over warm water.
  • Mix baking soda and a tablespoon of warm water and add to melted oil/ honey and mix well. 
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with a spoon to form a dough. No need to over mix or kneed the dough.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and form balls.
  • Lay them separated by an inch or so on a cookie sheet. Press them slightly. 
  • Bake in your toaster oven at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
  • Cool completely on wire racks and store in air tight containers.







Notes: To grate pumpkin - cut the top off with a sharp knife - quarter the pumpkin -  peel the skin - remove the core and seeds -  cut the remaining meat into big chunks - grate each chunk using a vegetable grater. 

November 28, 2013

Quick'n'healthy Thanksgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who are celebrating the pilgrims, and remembering their struggles in building this great country. Not sure if we can truly understand the spirit of Thanksgiving, like how an immigrant family who has been living here for generations will feel. So, we would just be celebrating Thanksgiving with gratitude for all that this country has given us over the past 12 years - which include new friends, a broader outlook towards life (including food from around the globe and an awareness of good food), and finally material things like a good job, home and a comfortable family life. Though we can claim that we made everything with our hard work, I feel a lot of gratitude to this country for giving us the freedom to be who we are, for embracing our family as part of the community and for all the opportunities that helped us in being reasonably successful in our own way.

Since we did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving we do not have any tradition to follow. We just celebrate it in  the spirit of gratitude :). This year seems special since Hanukkah falls on the same day too. So we will also be celebrating this by wishing peace and harmony across the globe.



We as a family are completely vegetarians for this month for religious reasons. This pretty much means that we are avoiding egg and the occasional fish from our otherwise vegetarian diet. Hence I am making a vegan thanksgiving meal made with mostly organic, local and seasonal ingredients. This is also quick'n'healthy, just that I had to do a little bit of planning and prep work ahead of time.

Breakfast


Squash Buckwheat Loaf w/ Cranberry Jam 

Pomegranate Cacao Goji Smoothie


   

Lunch: 

Thai Pumpkin Soup





Mediterranean Farro Chickpea Pilaf 




  • Black chickpeas - 1/2 cup
  • Vegetable broth - 3 cups 
  • Bay leaves - 2
  • Fresh Thyme - 1 Tbs.
  • Black pepper - 10-15 (freshly crushed)
  • Farro - 1 cup
  • Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp.
  • Coriander seeds - 1 Tbs. 
  • Cardamom - 2-3
  • Red onion - 1 (chopped fine)
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves (minced)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • EV olive oil - 4 Tbs. 
  • Mint - a small bunch
  • Cilantro - a small bunch
  • Lemon juice - from half a lemon

  • Cook chickpeas with a bay leaf, thyme, crushed black pepper, 1 cup of broth and salt.
  • Grind the spices coriander seeds and cardamom to a fine powder.
  • Switch on rice cooker (use white rice setting), heat 1 tbs. olive oil and saute, garlic and onion till translucent. 
  • Add the farro and the spices along with remaining 2 cups of broth and cook till farro is cooked half way thru. 
  • Add chickpeas along with any cooking liquid remaining. Adjust taste and let everything cook till all liquid is absorbed.
  • Coarsely grind the mint, cilantro, lemon juice and remaining 3 Tbs of olive oil. Add to this to the pilaf.
  • Serve warm. 
  • Since I am making this for Thanksgiving this time, I am topping this with butternut squash slices roasted with rosemary.

Kohlrabi Noodles w/ Spicy Cranberry-Squash Sauce




  • Kolhrabi - sliced using spirooli
  • Carrots - sliced using spirooli
  • Apple cider vinegar or Lemon juice - 1 Tbs
  • EV olive oil - 1 Tbs

  • Toss sliced veggies with Apple cider vinegar and olive oil and set aside.
  • When ready to serve, mix with the spicy sauce and serve on a bed of salad greens or a bed of steamed cabbage or collard greens.

Cranberry-Squash Sauce - Recipe here

Apple Pom Salad w/ Ginger-Honey Dressing




  • Apple - 2 chopped fine 
  • Pomegranate - 1
  • Baby collard leaves - 4-5
  • Fresh grated ginger root - 1 Tbs. 
  • Local honey - 1Tbs.
  • Lemon juice - 1Tbs.
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch


  • Toss chopped apple with lemon juice and set aside.
  • Slice collard leaves into really thin strips and add to the chopped apples. 
  • Whisk together ginger and honey in a small bowl and add to the salad.
  • Just before serving top with Pom seeds.

Pumpkin-Cacao Pie - Vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free  




November 27, 2013

Pumpkin No-Bake Pie With a hint of Ginger & Cacao

This Thanksgiving, I am making a no-bake pumpkin pie, which is plant-based, gluten free and dairy free as well. Cooking as such is involved only to roast the pumpkin, and then it is just your blender and refrigerator that needs to be at work :-) This is inspired by a recipe from Tropical Traditions. The pie filling turned out to be too good that I had to keep the pie away from the 2 foodies at home so I have a full pie for TG :-).




Crust 

  • Raw walnuts -1 cup
  • Dried shredded coconut - 1 cup
  • Raw almonds - a handful
  • Fresh grated ginger - 1 tsp
  • Dates - 2-3 
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch
  • Virgin cold pressed coconut oil - 1 Tbs. 
  • Raw cacao powder - 1 Tbs.

  • Powder the nuts using a dry blender or food processor.
  • Continue pulsing after adding the dates, salt and ginger till everything forms sort of a dough.
  • Transfer to a bowl, mix in coconut oil and cacao powder and slightly knead the dough.
  • Grease a 9 inch pie dish with a pat of coconut oil and press the dough into it. 
  • Keep in freezer for for 30 minutes. Remove and keep refrigerated till you make the filling. 




Filling

  • Sugar pumpkin - 1 1/2 cups - Roasted and puréed (see notes)
  • Fresh homemade coconut cream - 3/4 cup (see notes)
  • EV Coconut oil - 1/2 cup
  • Coconut palm sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Fresh grated ginger - 1-2 Tbs (taste and adjust while blending) 
  • Nutmeg/Cinnamon/Cloves- 1/4-1/2 tsp each (taste and adjust while blending) 
  • Himalayan salt a pinch
  • Raw cacao paste - 1/4 cup (see notes) 

  • Grind everything except cacao paste in a high speed blender till nice and creamy. 
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of the filling and fill the rest in the prepared crust.
  • Melt the cacao paste in a small bowl over warm water. Remove and add the reserved filling and mix well.
  • Add 4-5 dollops of the cacao pumpkin mix on top of the filling. Using a knife, make nice swirls. 
  • Tap slightly to let any air bubbles escape.
  • Cover and keep in freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove and keep refrigerated till ready to serve.
  • Slice and enjoy with family and friends :-) 




Note 1: To roast pumpkin - cut the pumpkin into quarters and keep cut side up on a cookie sheet in your toaster over at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let it cool before pureeing.

Note 2: To make fresh coconut cream - Make about 3 cups of homemade coconut milk (recipe here) and refrigerate overnight and cream will separate on top. Just remove it using a spoon.

Note 3: I buy my raw cacao paste here. You can also just use 2 Tbs of raw cacao powder mixed with 1 Tbs. of coconut oil instead. 

Sharing this on:
Wellness Weekend
Healthy Vegan Friday

November 26, 2013

Pomegranate Cacao Goji Smoothie

We love pom and since it is available only during this time (fall to early winter), we try to consume quite a bit of it during the thanksgiving season. Till recently though, taking the seeds out was a chore in itself, requiring a lot of patience and time. Not anymore, we got this savior video from Lifehacker to do this easily in no time. Since then eating pom is a piece of cake :-)

This smoothie is inspired by Cacao-goji smoothie from Passionately Raw. I thought the addition of pom into this smoothie would make a delicious and nutritious breakfast. So Enjoy pom while it is in season...




  • Pomegranate - 1
  • Raw cacao powder - 1/4 cup
  • Organic dried goji berries - a handful (soaked in filtered water overnight)
  • Organic raisins - a handful (soaked in filtered water overnight)
  • Organic raw almonds - a handful (soaked in a cup of filtered water overnight)
  • Organic banana - 1
  • Organic frozen cherries - a handful
  • Virgin cold pressed coconut oil - 2 Tbs.

  • Take seeds out of pom, see this awesome video for an easy way to do this.
  • Reserve a handful for topping.
  • Blend everything in a high speed blender.
  • Serve topped with pom seeds. Enjoy !!
  • I also serve it in a bowl sometimes with sliced fruits and homemade granola for a more filling breakfast :-)


Sharing it on:
Smoothie OTW3
Raw Food Thursday
Wellness Weekend
Healthy Vegan Friday


November 24, 2013

Winter Squash Buckwheat Breakfast Loaf w/ Quick Cranberry Jam

All the pumpkin/squash bread recipes that I see on the web are so sweet for us that they are more of desserts than breads. So I had to do some playing around to come up with a 'not-sweet' version of  squash bread. This one is more of a savory bread/loaf with no added sweeteners. It is made with buckwheat, so is gluten-free as well, but it could easily be adjusted for other grains/flours.



Winter Squash Buckwheat Breakfast Loaf

  • Buckwheat groats - 1 cup
  • Filtered water - 1 cup
  • Apple cider vinegar  - 1 Tbs.
  • Coconut shredded  - 1/2 cup
  • Coconut oil - 2 Tbs.
  • Winter squash - 1 cup ( I used butternut squash, peeled and shredded) 
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Baking soda - 1 tsp.
  • Lemon juice - 1 Tbs. 



  • Mix the buckwheat groats with water and apple cider vinegar and leave on your counter top for few hours or overnight to soak well.
  • Grind the soaked buckwheat along with the soaking liquid, coconut, coconut oil  and salt to a very fine batter.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add the grated squash and mix well. 
  • Mix baking soda and lemon juice in a small cup and add to the batter and mix well. 
  • Grease a loaf pan with a pat of coconut oil. 
  • Pour the batter and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or till a toothpick test at center comes out clean. 
  • Cool down on wire rack. Slice and serve. 
  • Drizzle raw honey on top for those who want some added sweetness.
  • Enjoy !! 



Quick Cranberry Jam

  • Fresh Cranberry - 1 cup
  • Dates/Raisins  - 1/3rd cup (or more depending on how sweet you would like it)
  • Fresh ginger root - 1 tsp (grated) 
  • Pink Himalayan salt - a pinch 
  • Virgin cold pressed coconut oil - 1 Tbs. 

  • Start cooking cranberry and chopped dates/raisins along with salt and grated ginger in a pan over medium heat. Cook covered, checking and stirring in between so as to not burn then. 
  • Once cranberries are popped, and dates are softened, remove from flame. 
  • Mash with the back of a spoon, add coconut oil and mix well.
  • There, you have your quick'n'easy cranberry jam! 

November 19, 2013

Triple-nut Cacao Fudge



My husband loves hazelnuts, cashews, coconut and above all cacao. So what do you make on his birthday - something that has it all :) This is a delicious fudge, almost raw, with slightly toasted nuts, dried coconut, raw cacao and sweetened with raw honey. Like any other sweets or desserts that I make, I would recommend making tiny slices and enjoying it for a few days :) 


  • Hazelnuts -1 cup
  • Cashew nuts - 1 cup
  • Dried coconut - 2 cups (divided)
  • Raw cacao butter - 3/4 cup (loose shavings) (divided)
  • Raw cacao powder 1/4 cup
  • Raw honey - 1/4 cup (divided)
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch



  • Toast both the nuts separately on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. (Slight toasting is enough, no need to really roast them)
  • Grind toasted hazelnut and 1 cup of coconut along with a pinch of salt in a high speed blender or food processor to get to nut-butter consistency.
  • Repeat the same with cashew nuts, now you have 2 batches of nut-butters - Cashew-coconut and hazelnut-coconut.
  • Melt half of the cacao butter over warm water, add half the raw honey and melt that too. Remove from hot water and mix in cacao powder and hazelnut-coconut butter. Keep aside.
  • Melt the remaining half of the cacao butter over warm water, add the other half the raw honey and melt that too. Remove from hot water and mix in cashew-coconut butter.
  • Grease a cake pan with coconut oil. Pour both these nut-butter mixtures and spread using a knife giving a marble effect.
  • Freeze for about 30 minutes. Then store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Slice and serve. Enjoy !!





November 17, 2013

Acai Breakfast Bowl

We are less on dining out mainly because no restaurant can provide the comfort or the nutritional benefit of a home cooked meal. Another reason to dine out would be convenience, and in my case that does not count either because, cooking is like a stress buster/therapy to me :-). We still try out restaurants once in a while when we want to give our son the dine out experience. In the recent past, we have been picking restaurants that do business with a principle. Serving simple meals to exotic gourmet meals using sustainably grown, mostly organic ingredients.




G-zen is the latest restaurant that we tried out. It is rated as the best organic, vegan restaurant in CT. Though that was the reason to check it out, we would go back there anytime for their awesome menu made with wholesome, pure, organic ingredients. This one is inspired from G-Zen's buddha brunch menu. It is basically a smoothie, made with pure acai puree, nuts and coconut water and served in a bowl with your choice of toppings.

  • 1 pack of pure acai puree 
  • Water from a tender coconut
  • Meat from a tender coconut
  • 1/2 cup of organic raw nuts (I used a mix of cashews and almonds)
  • 4 Tbs organic chia seeds
  • 1 frozen organic banana
  • 1/2 cup pitted organic cherries (or use other berries)

  • Soak nuts in 1/2 cup of coconut water overnight.
  • Soak chia seeds in remaining coconut water overnight.
  • Add soaked nuts along with soaking liquid to a high speed blender jar. Add frozen banana slices, cherries, tender coconut meat and acai puree. Blend till smooth and creamy. Add extra water if needed.
  • Add soaked chia along with soaking liquid and mix well.
  • Serve into bowls, add optional toppings (bananas, homemade granola, dried berries, coconut etc.)




Sharing this on:
Raw Food Thursday
Smoothie OTW @Omnomally

November 13, 2013

Cranberry-Kabocha Squash Sauce

When the weather outside gets cold, we crave for warmer food. Indian cuisine is not short of warm food, there are endless possibilities to whip up a quick'n'healthy  warm Indian meal. At times we also feel like eating something different, and if that something different can be seasonal that would be the best. When the farm stands are still selling those cute little squashes, and with cranberry showing up on the produce aisles, it is right time to mix them up in a warm and creamy sauce. It is a versatile sauce that can go with pasta, or with a warm winter salad. 



  • Kabocha Squash - 1 cup (peeled and cubed)
  • Fresh cranberry - a big handful
  • Garlic - 1-2 cloves
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Extra virgin olive oil - 2 Tbs
  • Sea salt as per taste

  • Roast the garlic with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Roast the kabocha in the same pan, and cook covered on medium heat till soft.(about 5-8 minutes)
  • Add cranberry and let it pop in the warm pan. Remove from flame and let it cool a bit.
  • Blend along with olive oil and salt till nice and creamy. Add extra water if you want a thinner sauce.
  • Serve warm with pasta or with a warm salad. 
  • Pic below shows a warm salad with cooked red quinoa and wilted mixed baby greens.


November 10, 2013

Cacao Banana Breakfast Bread

I have to admit, this is my first time ever baking with cacao. Being such a huge cacao/chocolate lover (of course I have 2 others at home who love cacao even more), I make a whole lot of goodies with cacao. Never attempted to bake though. I guess the reason being all the chocolate baked things I taste outside are so overpowered with sweetness that I never thought it is a good idea to bake with cacao. This one though is just sweetened with the addition of bananas and no other sweetener. The result is an outstanding pure flavor of cacao. I just drizzled some raw honey on my son's serving for added sweetness for him :-)




Dry ingredients: 
  • Organic sprouted spelt flour - 1 cup
  • Organic raw cacao powder - 3 Tbs.
  • Baking soda - 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder  - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - 1/4 tsp

  • Mix everything well and keep aside. 

Wet ingredients: 
  • Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Filtered water - 3/4 cup
  • Apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs. (you can substitute with lemon juice)
  • Cold pressed virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs.
  • Well ripe bananas - 2 (small) 


  • Grind the coconut and water to get a fine puree (thick coconut milk). 
  • Mix apple cider vinegar and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Melt coconut oil and add to the sour coconut milk. 
  • Mash bananas with a fork and mix in. 

The bread: 
  • Grease a loaf pan with a pat of coconut oil.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. 
  • Pour the batter to the loaf pan and bake at 350 degree toaster oven for 30 minutes. 
  • Mine is a 9' X 5' loaf pan and the bread turn out as a shallow bread. You could use a small loaf pan for a deeper bread, just adjust baking time accordingly.




Sharing this on:
Healthy Vegan Friday








November 8, 2013

Plantain Veggie Kabab

Raw bananas (nentra kaya or kerala bananas) are a staple in Kerala cuisine. Both raw and ripe versions are used equally well. I make a lot of different dishes with plantain too. This recipe is not quite from Kerala though. It is a quick and simple recipe for kababs with plantain as a base along with some veggies, herbs and spices. It is also very versatile; serve it as a breakfast just like you do hash browns, or serve for dinner along with a hearty salad, or even better, spice it up and make smaller sizes to serve as an appetizer.



  • Raw plantains - 2
  • Veggies - 1/2 to 1 cup (see notes)
  • Ginger - 1 Tbs. (minced)
  • Green chilly - 2 (minced)
  • Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup (chopped fine)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Cashew nuts - handful
  • Amchur - 1 tsp (see notes)
  • Cold pressed virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.

  • Wash and boil plantains. It can done in two ways. 
    1. Put the whole bananas in a pressure cooker with 1/2 cup of water and cook till you get a couple of whistles. Take out and peel.
    2. Peel and cut into chunks and boil with a cup of water in a sauce pan checking frequently. Drain the water.
  • While the bananas are being cooked, prepare rest of the ingredients.
    • Chop the veggies, mince ginger and green chillies
    • Powder cashew nuts in a coffee/spice grinder.
  • Mash the boiled plantains while they still hot using a potato masher or back of a fork. 
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Best is to work with your hands if you can handle the warm plantains. 
  • Get to form sort of a dough holding everything together. 
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal balls and press them to form a patty/kabab. 
  • Spread them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes in your toaster oven. (see notes)
  • Increase the temperature, drizzle drops of coconut oil on the kababs and broil for 5 more minutes till the edges are slightly golden brown.
  • Keep in mind that plantain is already cooked and other ingredients really do not need any cooking, so you can adjust the baking time accordingly.



Notes:
  • Veggies - I used 1/2 cup of carrot juice pulp and a couple of handfuls of spinach chopped very fine. 
  • Baking - The patties shown in pictures above are baked in cupcake molds so that I get equally shaped patties. Next time though, I would divide the dough into 10-12 parts and make thinner patties. 
  • Amchur - you can substitute with some lemon juice, just make sure your dough does not become soggy.

November 1, 2013

Carrot Coconut Laddu




 Diwali is one festival that all Indians celebrate irrespective of which part of India you are from. It represents victory of good over evil, light over darkness and of course good food:). Food bloggers all over are showcasing their 'sweet' talents this time of the year. I am not a 'sweet' person mainly because I do not have a lot of patience to make traditional sweets, but I still wanted to make something quick'n'healthy for my family and also to share with friends. Here is a simple sweet made with all organic, wholesome ingredients which can be made under 30 minutes.




  • Carrots - 2 cups (grated)
  • Almonds - 1/2 cup (preferably soaked overnight or at least few hours)
  • Coconut - 3/4 cup (finely shredded)
  • Unrefined coconut palm sugar - 1/2 cup (or less according to your sweet preference)
  • Cardamom - 6-8 (peeled and powdered)
  • Saffron - a pinch

  • Start cooking the grated carrot in a shallow heavy bottom pan, stirring every once every 30 seconds or so.
  • Meanwhile grind the almonds with about a cup of filtered water and peeled cardamom.
  • In about 10 minutes, carrot should be just cooked enough.
  • Add almond paste and saffron and continue cooking on medium heat, stirring continuously till the liquid is completely absorbed. Takes about 10 -15 minutes. 
  • Add the coconut sugar and shredded coconut. You might want to switch off the flame at this point and keep stirring till you feel you can roll it into balls. 
  • Make small walnut sized balls (laddus) while the mixture is still warm. 
  • I added few drops of ghee on my palm while rolling so that the laddus have nice ghee aroma :-) 
  • Optionally roll the laddus in finely shredded coconut. 
  • Enjoy, Happy Diwali !!