Caribbean Style Grilled Shrimp (Paleo)

Shrimp is an all time favorite of mine!  My parents having been born and raised so close to the coast in Kerala, shrimp was my amma’s ‘go to’ ingredient for added flavor.  Yes she would add prawns in even vegetable dishes to enhance the flavor!. And boy that sure got us kids to eat all their veggies plus lick the plate!  Shrimp or ‘Chemeen’ as they are called in Kerala are used to make so many wonderful dishes like chemeen curry with coconut(thengarachu curry), chemeen varatharachu curry,  chemmeen green mango curry, prawn masala, prawn cutlets,  dried prawns chutney, prawn pickle etc etc.  Gosh my mouth is watering!

So you can imagine my joy when I was allowed to eat shrimp again by my naturopath after having abstained from eating it for more than a year! This is one of the reasons I like my Paleo diet. !

When we had visited Cancun a couple years ago, the resort we stayed in had a beautiful lunch buffet menu. One of the items on that buffet was ‘carribean style’ sizzling shrimp! My husband would grin at me as I loaded up my plate with these wonderfully spiced and perfectly grilled shrimp every single day of the 5 days we were there!

Last week as I pulled out shrimp out of the freezer to grill some quickly for my lunch, on a sudden whim I decided to try making it the carribean style – the way we had it at the resort. Going by my memory of the flavors, I quickly put together a marinade using cilantro, ginger,garlic,lemon juice, pepper, and some honey and this wonderful dish was created in less than 30 minutes.  My son was home that day with me for lunch and we both couldn’t stop marveling at how good these shrimp turned out to be! And they were pretty darn close to the ones we had at the resort!  Chef Mom deserves a pat on the back!  ‘Thank you’ Thank you’ , I say taking my bow as I clean up the table 🙂

I made this recipe again a couple days later since I wanted to share these ‘wicked good shrimp’ as my son had called them, with my husband. That time I tried grilling in the oven since I had pan fried it the first time and the grilled ones came out perfectly too. So I give directions for both ways in my recipe below.  What are you waiting for? 🙂

For a strict Paleo AIP version, omit the chillies and these will still be fantastic I am sure.

Linking this recipe this week to the following link parties:

Saucy Saturdays

Inspiration Galore Project Party

 

Caribbean Style Grilled Shrimp (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer; Main course
Cuisine: Caribbean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Shrimp marinated in a tangy, sweet and spicy marinade consisting of cilantro, lemon, garlic and honey and grilled or pan fried in coconut oil to perfection!
Ingredients
  • 16-18 pieces of medium size shrimp (or about 10-12 pieces of jumbo shrimp)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 by 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 green (serrano) chilies
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp sea salt or as needed
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Place all of the listed ingredients other than shrimp and coconut oil in a food processor (use small grinder) and blend well. Mixture may be a little chunky and that's ok. Marinate the shrimp in this mixture for about 10-15 mins.
  2. Heat a non stick frying pan. Add the coconut oil. Grill the shrimp in the pan and cook 1 min on each side.
  3. If grilling in oven, turn oven to Broil setting. Place the shrimp in an Al foil lined tray on skewers and place on the top rack about 4 inches from the flames. Cook for about 2 mins and then flip once and cook for about 1 minute on other side. Take the shrimp out and serve immediately. (Do Not overcook the shrimp as they will turn hard)
Notes
For a Paleo AIP version, skip the green chillies and use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegetable Korma – Navratan Style (Vegan, Paleo)


Navratan Korma is a rich, creamy and highly delectable dish of vegetables, fruit, nuts and paneer.  It is very rich since butter/ghee, heavy cream and cashew nut paste is used to make the gravy. A blend of different spices is used in this curry along with several garnishes like nuts, seeds and herbs like mint and cilantro.  ‘Navratan’  or ‘Navratna’ means nine jewels and this dish having originated during the Mughal regime really is befitting for a king.! The nine jewels stand for a combination of nine different vegetables, fruits and nuts.

I had been wanting to make vegetable korma since the past few weeks. Now that I am on a paleo diet, I need to eat lots of vegetables to keep me satiated!  My favorite dish lately has been the Keralan Avial which is mixed vegetables in a coconut gravy.  Since this has plantains and other root vegetables like taro root, yam etc this really fills me up.!

Vegetable Korma in Kerala is made using coconut paste or coconut milk and that is what I wanted to make. However, I had some leftover pineapple and so I decided to add some pineapple too and make it spicy and sweet …kinda like ‘navratna korma’. As I began to make it, I thought of adding some swiss chard leaves too! Greens are not common in either vegetable or navratan korma but hey I thought it can’t go  wrong.  And hence this dish was born!  I used only five jewels – cauliflower, carrot, winter melon, swiss chard and pineapple. maybe I should call it panchratna (five jewels) korma 🙂 I decided to make my own spice blend for this curry adding fennel and cardamom along with other whole spices. I loved it very much and this is going to be another of my staple mixed vegetable paleo dishes for now. For a Paleo AIP version, you can still make this curry omitting all spices and using only cinnamon, star anise and cloves.

Vegetable Korma - Navratan Style (Paleo, Vegan)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Delectable curry of mixed vegetables cooked with an aromatic blend of spices and coated in creamy coconut milk sauce to be served over white rice.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup cubed winter melon (or you can use any other vegetables like squash or zucchini etc)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup swiss chard leaves, chopped roughly
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp spice blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 1 /2 cups thick coconut milk (fresh* or canned full fat)
  • ½ cup pineapple chopped
For Spice blend:
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 -3 green cardamoms, outer shell removed
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 one inch long cinnamon stick
Instructions
To make spice blend:
  1. First lightly roast the fennel seeds on a small heating pan for about 2 minutes on low heat. Then add the rest of the whole spices and heat stirring frequently for another minute. Transfer to a spice (coffee) grinder and blend till you get a fine powder. Place in an air tight container.
  2. In a large cooking pot, add the coconut oil and heat. When hot, add the onion,ginger and the curry leaves and sauce for 2-3 minutes. Then add the cauliflower and carrot pieces and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Then cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked. Then add the winter melon, salt and water and again cover and cook for about 4 minutes.
  3. Open the lid and add the spice blend, red chili powder and the swiss chard leaves. Stir to mix well.
  4. Next add the coconut milk and let cook for about 2 minutes till it comes to a boil. Turn heat off and add the pineapple pieces and mix well.
  5. Serve warm!
Notes
For making fresh coconut milk:
1cup of freshly grated coconut or fresh frozen grated coconut that has been thawed
1½ cups of warm water
Blend the coconut with 1 cup of the water and strain using a fine mesh sieve. Add the strained coconut meat back into the blender and blend with the rest of the water. Again strain milk thru the sieve. You should have about 1½ cups of milk.
For AIP version:
Omit all spices not permitted under AIP - use only star anise, cinnamon and cloves for spices

Sweet Fried Plantains

Some will say plantains, bananas …what’s the difference? Well, both of them belong to the Banana family however there are some differences. Plantains are starchier, contain less sugar than bananas and are much more versatile as a cooking ingredient – you can make both savory and sweet dishes with them. Both Green plantains as well as ripe yellow plantains are used widely in south indian and south american cuisines . Unlike bananas, plantains are typically cooked before consumption.

In terms of nutritional value, both bananas and plantains are equally good with some differences.  Both are high in potassium, magnesium and iron. Bananas however have higher antioxidants as compared to plantains.  But plantains have less sugar and low on the glycemic index scale and hence good for diabetic patients.  For some folks though, plantains can cause flatulence or gas.

Since starting my Paleo diet 3 months ago, I have been having mostly smoothies for breakfast. But once in a while if I am really hungry and if I was lucky to have found a ripe plantain at the grocers, then I make ‘fried plantains’.  Plantains are allowed on the Paleo diet because of the benefits mentioned above.

Plantains, both green and the ripe yellow ones are very common in Kerala cuisine.  Come to think of it, Kerala might be the only state in India where plantains are grown abundantly.  Plantain chips , which are nothing but green plantains peeled and thinly sliced and deep fried in coconut oil, are one of the specialty food items of Kerala.  Plantain fritters are also a very common keralan food! And steamed ripe plantains are always an accompaniment to  breakfast in the Malayalee household.

I have posted recipe for Kerala plantain fritters before.  Today I just wanted to post this simple dish of fried plantains made by cooking them and pan frying them. I first had these in a resort when we  were vacationing in Cancun.  So this is really the Mexican way of making ripe plantains I think (not sure). Only variation I have done here is that I have used coconut oil to fry them and added maple syrup instead of refined sugar.  This dish is so easy to make but is so tasty and makes a delicious and nutritious paleo breakfast!

Pan fried Plantains
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, anytime snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
Ripe plantains cooked and then lightly fried in coconut oil and served warm topped with maple syrup
Ingredients
  • 1 Ripe plantain ( should be really yellow or black)
  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil for frying
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Place a cooking pot half filed with water and heat till the water begins to boil. Cut the plantain into two halves and place in the boiling water. Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes or until the plantains are fully cooked and soft to touch.
  2. Alternatively, you can steam the plantains in a steamer until soft.
  3. Once cooked, peel the plantains and slice them into ½ inch thick rounds.
  4. Heat a non stick cooking pan adding the coconut oil. When hot, add the plantain pieces (you may need to do so in batches) and lightly fry them flipping them once until they turn crispy on both sides (About 1 minute on each side)
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle maple syrup on top!
Notes
Make sure you use only ripe yellow skinned plantains. If they are still pale yellow and seem hard, place them in a brown paper bag for a couple days before using!

 

 

Steamed Yucca Coconut Cake (Kappa Puttu)

One of the reasons I find the Paleo diet not only ‘doable’ but in fact, enjoyable is due to the fact that it allows me to go back to my Keralan roots! And yes pun intended there. You see root vegetables are the only starches allowed in Paleo and in AIP (autoimmune protocol).  These root vegetables include sweet potatoes, yams, celeriac root, turnip root, horseradish root, yucca, plantains and taro root.  Sweet potatoes and yams I love love love.  So no issues there and then yucca, plantains and taro root (called as arabi in Hindi) being very common in Kerala cuisine, these are all comfort foods for me. Plus I have so many Keralan recipes to draw from – which gives me so many ideas for new ‘Paleo meals’ for myself.

Puttu or Pittu is a very staple Keralan breakfast food. It is also popular in srilanka and Tamil nadu. It is sort of a steamed cake made with rice flour and coconut.  It is really a very healthy and nutritious breakfast dish since it is steamed and is eaten with a curry so no sugar involved! It is funny that growing up I never liked Puttu!  Whenever amma made Puttu for breakfast, I would sulk. Puttu is usually eaten with Kadala (black gram) curry or some other lentil curry.  I totally hated that combination and would grudgingly eat the Puttu with some sugar sprinkled on top!  Fortunately or unfortunately, my husband nurtured the same ‘not so warm’ feelings for Puttu as I did and so after marriage we never made Puttu at home 🙂 Many years ago when my mom had visited us, she had got a small Puttu Kodam for me. Puttu Kodam is an utensil used to steam the Puttu and looks like this.  Since I had no desire at that time to make Puttu , I sent it back with her!

And now last month as I was talking with my aunt in Kerala about my Paleo diet and how I don’t eat any rice or any grains, she suggested that I try making Kappa Puttu i.e. Puttu made with Yucca (cassava or tapioca) and coconut. She suggested grating raw Yucca and then making the Puttu. However, that seemed too tedious for me and luckily I came across a recipe which used boiled yucca and rice flour.  I tried to use the same method to try making puttu using a ‘make shift’ steamer cum puttu maker assembled using a cooking pot and a large sieve that fit on top of the pot.  I skipped the rice flour and used coconut flour instead.

The Puttu came out fabulous and was really a breeze to make. I ate it with kozhuva curry (anchovy coconut curry).  You could also have with any other curry or just mixed with a ripe banana. Yum.!

In case you are not familiar with yucca or cassava, here’s a picture. It’s a but hard to cut but you need to chop them the same way you chop sweet potato or yams by giving it a hard whack and then breaking it apart using your hands. Peeling the skin is also easier when you use a similar technique. Once you have it cut into pieces, you can either steam them or cook it with some water and salt.  In this recipe, I am using boiled kappa and hence you need to do this step beforehand.

Steamed Yucca Coconut Cake (Kappa Puttu)
Author: 
Recipe type: MAIN COURSE; Breakfast
Cuisine: Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Yucca Puttu is a steamed cake made with yucca and coconut. This has a loose crumbly consistency and tastes wonderful with fish curry or any other spicy curry!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup boiled yucca(tapioca/cassava/kappa) pieces
  • ½ cup rice flour (or coconut flour for paleo version)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup freshly grated coconut (or fresh frozen grated coconut)
  • extra grated coconut for topping
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, add the boiled kappa (yucca /cassava) pieces. Also add the flour (rice or coconut flour depending upon what you are using and the salt and pulse for a few seconds (10-15 secs)till you get a coarse, crumbly mixture. Do NOT over mix otherwise you will get a big lump.
  2. Now if you have a puttu maker, pack this mixture into the puttu maker mould and steam.
  3. If you do not have a puttu maker, heat water in a cooking pot (water should fill about ¼ of the pot). Place a steamer vessel (or a sieve) on top of this pot and place the kappa mixture as a thin layer on this steamer/sieve. See step wise pictures below. Cover this with a lid tightly to make sure no steam escapes. Steam cook for 7-8 minutes on medium heat. Turn heat off.
  4. Transfer the cooked puttu to a small bowl and press it with a spoon to make it compact. Turn this onto a plate to get a dome shaped puttu. Add freshly grated coconut on top. Serve warm with curry or a ripe banana!

For curry recipes to eat with Puttu, check out my following posts:

Kerala FISH CURRY fish curry with coconut milk post

Kerala Fish curry without coconut milk

BLACK GRAM CURRY kadala curry

Boiled kappa(yucca) pieces

Pulse kappa pieces with flour and coconut in the food processor/grinder

Mixture should look crumbly like this.

Place mixture on sieve

Place sieve on top on pot with boiling water

Cover pot and steam for 7-8 minutes.

‘So good for you’ smoothies!

Juice or smoothie? If you have wondered about that, let me quickly assure you that both of these are super beneficial for you. And you can use both to improve the health of your family!

When you juice (using a juicer that has filters) you are removing the insoluble fiber – the pulp. Although fiber is good for you, it slows down the absorption of nutrients and some nutrients stay in the fiber. When you juice, you are extracting up to 70% of the nutrition right into your glass1, and without the insoluble fiber your body absorbs 100% of these nutrients. Juicing has its advantages in that you get the nutrients out of the vegetables/fruits in their most absorbable state and so body can get the maximum benefits without it having to do any additional work.

Smoothies on the other hand are what you get when you blend whole fruits and vegetables together to form thick pulpy mixture. You can also add other nutritious ingredients to it – You can toss in a healthy fat, in the form of avocado, coconut oil, chia seeds, or almond butter. And you can blend in plenty of other superfood ingredients for an even broader spectrum of nutrients, like fresh grated ginger, matcha or cacao powder, fresh mint, and cinnamon.

Depending upon what your immediate health goals are, both of these can be beneficial. Juicing is incredibly beneficial for folks who are nutrition deficient and or immunocompromised as in autoimmune conditions.  Some children and even adults who don’t like to eat vegetables with their meals can really benefit from juicing since this way they get all the vitamins and nutrients easily. However, juicing can fail to keep you fully satiated since it does not have the fiber to fill you up. That’s where smoothies come in – smoothies can provide great taste and nutrition along with keeping your tummy full 🙂

We have been doing smoothies in our house a lot – I make it for the kids as a snack when they come from school. And my breakfast has been strictly only smoothies now for the past few months ever since I am on a Paleo diet.  And I love the fact that I can some up with so many variations of it!  I don’t even bother with recipes – its just about throwing different things together and most of the times they do come out great no matter what you put in them.

Many of my friends and family members have asked me what kind of smoothies I make. So in this post today I just wanted to give you some ideas …only to get you started and then all you need is your imagination and a refrigerator full of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables!

  1. Go Bananas!:  I love adding bananas in my breakfast smoothies because they are sweet, they are creamy and they give the smoothie a lot of body, meaning they fill me up! Using bananas as a main ingredient, you can create many different smoothie variations using various fruits like apples, plums, strawberries, mangoes, papayas, cantaloupe etc.
  2. Use Avocados: I love avocados for almost the same reasons as bananas – they are creamy, and filling. Plus since they don’t have a strong flavor of their own, so they can blend well with a lot of different fruits and veggies.
  3. Fresh mint/herbs/citrus:  Mint or citrus adds a nice fresh twist to your usual smoothie so use it sometimes to change up the flavor profile of your smoothie. A tinge of Fresh ginger or cinnamon are also great ways to spice up your smoothie giving it a whole new flavor level!
  4. Veggies and Greens: Smoothies are a great way to feed vegetables and nutritious greens to your kids (or to yourself!)- Some good vegetables to add in smoothies are celery, cucumber, carrots, beets and all kinds of greens. Blending Kale or spinach with bananas for example packs in a lot of iron in one glass! And is a great way to increase your iron intake.
  5. Add nutritional boosters: Adding chia seeds, flax seeds, matcha powder, almond butter, coconut oil etc to your smoothie can give it added nutritional and flavor boost!
  6. Healthy Fillers: To make the smoothies more filling, you can add nut milks or coconut milk to the smoothie for a creamy and fully satisfying drink!

As I said before I don’t follow any recipes but just the above rules. Following are 3 recipes that I recently made that I made sure to note the recipes for!  These are incredibly delicious and satisfying!

3 Refreshing Smoothies

  • Servings: Serves 2
  • Time: about 15 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Mint Avocado Cantaloupe:

  • 1 ripe Avocado(peeled)
  • 1 Banana (peeled)
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, chopped
  • 1 orange (skin and seeds removed)
  • 2 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup water

Green Smoothie

  • 1 Green apple (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 Banana (peeled)
  • 1 ripe Avocado (peeled)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 small fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water

Very Berry 

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 Banana (peeled)
  • 2 kiwis (peeled and sliced)
  • 1/2 cup water

Method: For each of the above smoothies, add all the ingredients to a blender or a food processor and blend completely until smooth! This recipe makes 2 tall glasses!