My Thankfulness Note and a Recipe for Pumpkin Donut holes (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)

OK so this is going to be a long post. If you would just like the recipe, scroll to the bottom!

Thanksgiving is one festival which I really look forward to! I think I like it even better than Christmas. Of course the food is one big attraction. However, more important than that is the fact that it forces you to look back at the past year and urges you to be thankful. As they say ‘There is always something to be thankful for’ and what a true statement that is!

For me personally this past year has given me many things to be thankful about. Last November, my RA was at its worst since my diagnosis in 2015.  I had tried medications first only to give them up a few months later because of terrible side effects. Then I tried naturopathy, ayurveda and homeopathy.  But nothing helped and last November I found myself in front of a new rheumatologist. Reviewing my blood test reports and by examining my joints, he suggested that I go on Rituxan infusions. Rituxan is a very potent chemo drug that is also used to treat RA but can cause serious, even potentially fatal, side effects. Being a pharmacist, I knew about this and so asked the doctor if he could prescribe something else instead and suggested a combination of meds instead. He reluctantly agreed but did not paint an encouraging picture for me.

I did not want to accept the doctor’s prognosis of my disease and decided to think positive. I kept searching the internet for stories of individuals who had turned their RA and other autoimmune diseases around by diet and lifestyle change.  I found myself a new naturopath who introduced me to the AIP diet. I started on both- the meds as well as the diet in December of last year. And I prayed. A lot.  I wrote down a list of all the things/tasks that I was not able to do then. And then on top of the list I wrote : I will get back to doing these things again…I know I will. The top 3 items on the list were :

  1. Snuggle playfully with my kids in bed
  2. Climb up and down the stairs freely without pain or fatigue
  3. Wear a jacket easily without my shoulders hurting

I prayed with a faith that I never had before. Reading the Bible regularly with a friend helped me to get into that frame of mind. I did not allow for negative and depressive thoughts to linger on my mind. I kept telling myself that I refuse to accept this pain and disability and will do whatever it takes to get better.  Doing the AIP diet was one of the ‘whatever it takes’!  It was tough to be on AIP.  I was already gluten free , dairy free and legume free by then. But on AIP I had to give up my beloved rice too! And that was tough. The first month was very, very hard. But I persisted. The desire to get better was so overpowering that I was willing to do anything. Yes, whatever it takes.

My naturopath also asked me to exercise which was again tough to begin with. My knees and shoulders were so painful and sore that even just climbing onto the elliptical was tough. But I did it in baby steps. The first few days I went to the gym and just sat on the stationary bike and eyed the elliptical building up my mental stamina. And finally one day I had the courage to try it. Slowly with each passing day I got better and I did more and more.

If you have been reading my posts this past year, you would have seen how these changes along with my decision to quit my job early on this year helped me to get better.  Last month my blood reports were all in the normal range. Of course I am still on meds but my rheumatologist is also surprised at my recovery. So there is something to be said about holistic healing. I am able to do more than half of the things on my wish list now. And I am hopeful that very soon I will be able to do all of them.

So you see, I have so much to be thankful for.  I thank the Lord for making me change my perspective – to go from being depressed and full of self-pity to feeling overwhelmingly positive. I am thankful for having the support of my wonderful family – my loving husband, children, sisters and dad. Also my close friends who made me retain my sanity in those difficult times. Most importantly, I am so thankful that I no longer have to balk away when my daughter comes running up to me to give me a tight hug! God, I am so, so thankful.

OK so now for these pumpkin donut holes that are completely grain free and dairy free. So I make these regular pumpkin munchkins for my munchkins and thought why don’t I try making these with coconut flour? Was fairly easy to make the dough. But then as soon as I put them in hot oil to deep fry, guess what? Oh no!.. they totally disintegrated! Yes completely! I almost gave up on having any pumpkin munchkins for myself but decided to bake these using my mini muffin / cake pop pans.

Boy, was I glad I did that! These babies amazingly resisted breaking apart when inside those tiny moulds and came out perfect. They are still quite soft to handle but hey, they are absolutely delicious!

So this recipe is another thing to be thankful for this year! And what better than to share with all of you guys!

Psalm 107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Pumpkin Donut holes (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Paleo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Delicious and soft grain free and dairy free pumpkin donut holes baked in mini muffin pans
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup thick pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice (use ¼ tsp cinnamon powder for AIP)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • coconut sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Add the melted coconut oil, coconut sugar and the pumpkin puree into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking soda, salt and the pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon powder). Mix well.
  3. Then slowly add the coconut flour little by little till you can form a dough.
  4. Divide the dough into small balls - about 11-12.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 deg F (180 deg C). Place the balls onto the mini muffin or cake pop pans.
  6. Bake for 10 mins. Then flip the donut holes gently and bake for another 4-5 mins.
  7. Take pans out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Roll the donut holes gently over coconut sugar.

 

Cranberry and Cherry Sauce || Cranberry and Cherry Chutney (Paleo, Vegan, AIP)

  Hey its Thanksgiving, people!. Cranberries need to be on the menu!  Honestly speaking, cranberry sauce has never been my thing.  I think all that sugar that goes in it is what puts me off.  Because I really love cranberries – I really do! And like to use them in a lot of my curries! I make cranberry rasam often. And for the past two years, I became even more close to cranberries since I have been avoiding tomatoes.  I find cranberries to be a perfect substitute for tomatoes in my indian curries and stews. In fact it is a perfect substitute for tamarind also which is another pantry item that I have stopped using now. So cranberries have been my ‘go to’ and  pretty reliable friend 🙂

Now this cranberry and cherry sauce has been on my mind for the longest of times.  I have been wanting to make a sugar free cranberry sauce and once when I was making a smoothie with cherries, this thought came to mind. I thought of combining it with cherries to balance the tartness with the sweetness of the cherries.  And that did seem like a wonderful idea considering both cranberries and cherries are so high on nutrients.  The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure 1. And cherries are not far behind with their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer prevention properties2.

So my idea of combining cranberries and cherries seems like a perfect marriage made in heaven right? Well, my inclinations were certainly right.  The combined flavor is a perfect balance of tart and sweet and the Indian in me couldn’t resist adding cayenne pepper and garlic for an additional kick:) I started by roasting the berries and the garlic and throwing them in a  blender to make a smooth sauce. Then just a little bit simmering with some cayenne and fresh herbs – cilantro and curry. And a final tempering of mustard seeds in coconut oil!  Yum!

It tastes fabulous as is and I can only imagine how good it would taste with roast chicken or turkey!  I cannot wait to bring it to our Thanksgiving dinner! This will be a great dip for crackers and plenty of other savory stuff!.

Sharing this recipe at the AIP Recipe Roundtable hosted by Phoenix Helix.

Cranberry and Cherry Sauce || Cranberry and Cherry Chutney (Paleo, Vegan, AIP)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A smooth, sweet and tangy sauce made with cranberries and cherries and infused with cayenne and fresh herbs like cilantro and curry leaves!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic with skin on
  • About 3/4 cup water
  • About 3/4 tsp sea salt or per taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or kashmiri chilli powder (per heat level desired; omit for AIP)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped
  • 4-5 fresh curry leaves
    For the tempering (omit for AIP):
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg F (200 deg C).
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the cranberries, cherries and the whole garlic cloves with skin on it. Bake at 400 deg F (200 C) for about 13-15 mins until the berries are roasted - dark skin on top. Peel the skin of the garlic away.
  3. In a food processor or blender, blend the cranberries, cherries and the garlic cloves with some amount of water to form a thick smooth paste. Then add the rest of the water and blend again. Pour this blend into a cooking pot.
  4. Place pot on low heat and add the salt, cayenne (if adding) and stir well. Let simmer for 5 mins on low.
  5. Then add the fresh cilantro and curry leaves and let simmer for another couple mins and turn heat off.
  6. For the tempering, in a small pan, add the coconut oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds. When they splutter add the fenugreek seeds. Continue heating on low until the fenugreek seeds all turn brown and turn heat off. Pour this oil garnish on top of the cranberry cherry sauce.
  7. Store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
http://indusinternationalkitchen.com/2017/11/cranberry-and-cherry-sauce-cranberry-and-cherry-chutney-paleo-vegan-aip.html

Turmeric ‘Mashed Potatoes’ || Turmeric Mashed Taroroot || (Whole30, Paleo, AIP)

The other night at our dinner table the conversation turned to next week’s Thanksgiving Dinner menu. We always celebrate Thanksgiving with a few of our close friends and we divvy up the dishes between ourselves. The conversation went something like this:

My Husband: So tell me again what’s on the menu?

Me: I am making pumpkin soup, roasting a chicken, and making apple pie.  And then there is going to be one more roast chicken, a couple of vegetable dishes, a salad, etc etc. by the others.

My son: Mashed potatoes! We are having mashed potatoes right? We gotta have that!

My daughter: I don’t like mashed potatoes.

My son and me both looking shocked and in unison: What? How is that possible? How can anyone not like mashed potatoes! Ruch, what’s wrong with you???

Ruchi just shrugged her shoulders in her newly acquired 11 yr old, ‘almost teenage’ like attitude.

My son and I continued staring at her and at each other shaking our heads in disbelief.  My husband didn’t have an opinion in either direction so he continued eating.  But I think at that very instant, my son and I somehow bonded a bit more close to each other than we already were, sharing our love for mashed potatoes and expressing disgust and shock at anyone who were not in the ‘mashed potatoes camp’ like us!

Finally I assured my son that yes, someone was bringing mashed potatoes. He gave a sigh of relief!

But this conversation reminded me to add mashed potatoes to my list too since that way I could make a version that I could eat – one that was dairy free.  That is exactly the reason why I chose the 3 dishes I did for myself. Since that way I could make sure I would be able to eat an entire 3 course meal.  That’s a trick I have been doing since the past two years ever since I started with my new Paleo lifestyle. For all our social gatherings, I volunteer making 2-3 dishes and I always make those in accordance with my diet. That way I can always be sure that I won’t go hungry! Plus its also a chance to introduce others to my healthy recipes which in most cases everyone ends up enjoying. So that’s a win-win for everyone!

Speaking of mashed potatoes, potatoes aren’t paleo. However, I love potatoes and so every now and then I indulge myself. Thankfully, unlike some other non-paleo foods, potatoes don’t seem to bring out a reaction in me and so I don’t feel too guilty when I eat them. However, dairy is not something that I can tolerate and so I have been experimenting with different recipes for making ‘mashed potatoes’ in my kitchen lately.  And this version is I think the best!  Going back to my Indian roots, this mashed potato is inspired by ‘potato masala’ or ‘Aloo ki sabzi’  where boiled potatoes are mashed and then sautéed with mustard seeds, cumin, onion, ginger, green chillies, turmeric and fresh curry and cilantro leaves. I have tried this recipe with ‘taro root’ too and it came out equally good!  To make it a little more creamy and to give it some ‘richness’, I added some coconut milk too. That made it just perfect!

So this is what I will be bringing for myself. I guess I better plan to make extra because I have a feeling that others would wanna taste this 🙂

Sharing this at the AIP recipe Roundtable this week hosted by Phoenix Helix.

Turmeric 'Mashed Potatoes' || Turmeric Mashed Taroroot || (Paleo, AIP)
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
A delicious Indian take on mashed potatoes by adding flavors of turmeric, ginger and curry leaves
Ingredients
  • 4 medium size potatoes or 8-10 taro root (Use taro root for Paleo/AIP version)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (skip for AIP)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (skip for AIP)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 serrano chillies, chopped fine (optional, skip for AIP)
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup coconut milk, unsweetened, homemade or canned (Optional)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine
Instructions
  1. If using potatoes, boil the potatoes in a pot with lots of water until cooked throughly. Let cool and peel them. Mash using a masher and keep aside.
  2. If using taro root, peel the taro root and place in a pot of water to boil for about 10 mins or until cooked.Drain all the water and mash using a masher and keep aside.
  3. In a wok style pan or a skillet, heat the coconut oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to splutter, turn heat to low and add the cumin.(Skip this step for AIP version) As the cumin starts to brown, add the chopped onions and saute for about 2-3 mins.
  4. Add the ginger, green chillies (if adding) and fresh curry leaves. Saute for another min.
  5. Then add the turmeric and sea salt. Stir fry for another 30 secs.
  6. Now add the mashed potatoes or mashed taro and stir well to mix the onion and spices well into it.
  7. Finally add the coconut milk (if adding) and stir for 1 more min until well incorporated.
  8. Turn heat off and add the fresh cilantro and mix well.

 

 

Sweet Potato and Tapioca Pearls Pancake (Paleo, AIP)

I can’t believe I am going to be completing one year on Paleo in another two weeks! When I first started on Paleo and that too with AIP in December of last year, I was very apprehensive about how long I could last without eating rice. Rice had been a staple for me – at least one meal a day for all my life!  Considering my initial trepidation, I guess I did great! I was on strict AIP for only 4 weeks and after that I slowly started reintroducing spices.  The ‘Indian’ in me was learning to live without rice but she definitely needed her spice!  With my vast repertoire of Indian curries that use spices in varying proportions, with each blend having its own distinctive flavor, how could I stay away?

I however use very less quantity of spices than what a traditional indian curry might call for.  But I definitely needed them! And as long as I could go back to my curries, albeit less spiced versions of them, I was good. And then began a quest for making some kind of bread with which I could sop up all the delicious curries! Cassava flour to the rescue and I started making cassava rotis/parathas/tortillas and was one happy mama!

Now only one thing remained. I needed something substantial for breakfast since I do not like to eat meat for breakfast. I don’t know why …perhaps just because I never did that before. And since eggs and oats were out too, I was left with very slim options. So even large bowls of smoothies couldn’t satisfy my appetite for breakfast. And that’s when I started making lots of other sides to go with the smoothies – plantains – boiled and pan fried, boiled sweet potato, mashed sweet potato, yucca mash etc etc. And then I rediscovered tapioca pearls and started making tapioca pearl pudding, tapioca sweet potato savory hash etc etc.  If you check my instagram page, you can see all my creations there!

And finally last month I came up with this sweet potato and tapioca pearls pancake. In India, there is a similar recipe for a savory pancake where potatoes are used instead of sweet potatoes. So I decided to swap the potato with the sweet potato and tried different variations of the recipe to come up with something that was absolutely perfect for me.  Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. A slight drizzle of maple syrup or honey is all you need to make your breakfast perfect!

This pancake recipe is unlike other regular pancakes where you have a flowing batter.  Here you get a dough and then you need to pat the dough carefully between plastic or parchment sheets to make a pancake shape. I have attached step wise pics so you can see the consistency of the dough as well as the detailed steps. Believe me, its not too hard once you get the hang of it. I make it literally every other day!  This recipe below makes 5-6 pancakes which is like 2 servings.

Hope you try this and let me know how you like it!

Bringing these delicious pancakes to the AIP recipe Roundtable this week hosted by Phoenix Helix

Sweet Potato and Tapioca Pearls Pancake (Paleo, AIP)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 2

Sweet Potato and Tapioca Pearls Pancake (Paleo, AIP)

A delicious pancake made from sweet potatoes, tapioca pearls and chestnut flour and is dairy free, egg free and nut free

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup tapioca pearls, soaked overnight in water (they should measure about 1 cup after soaking since they swell after soaking)
  • 3/4 cup mashed 'white sweet potato' (boiled, peeled and mashed carefully without introducing any water)
  • 1/4 cup water chestnut flour(plus 1 tbsp more if needed)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • About 2 tbsp coconut oil for frying
  • maple syrup and fresh fruits for serving

Instructions

  1. Wash the soaked tapioca pearls in a colander several times until water runs clear. Then strain completely and blot dry using paper towels. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the mashed sweet potato, chest nut flour and the salt also to the bowl.
  3. Mix well using your hands and form a dough. Dough will be slightly sticky which is ok. if its too sticky, add some more chestnut flour. Divide dough into 5-6 dough balls.
  4. Heat a frying pan on medium heat.
  5. Take one ball at a time and pat on a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper to form a pancake shape. (see step wise pics below recipe)
  6. Add a tsp of coconut oil to the pan.
  7. Peel the plastic or parchment carefully and place the pancake on the pan.
  8. Cook on medium heat for about 2 mins. then flip carefully to the other side and cook again for another 2 mins. Transfer to a plate.
  9. Finish cooking all pancakes the same way.
  10. Serve warm pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup and / fresh fruits.

Notes

I have tried this recipe only using white sweet potato. We may need to add more chestnut flour if using regular sweet potato.

http://indusinternationalkitchen.com/2017/11/sweet-potato-and-tapioca-pearls-pancake-paleo-aip.html

 

Tandoori Chicken || Indian Style Baked Chicken (Paleo)

If you like Indian food and like chicken then I can bet that you would have definitely tasted Tandoori Chicken:) If not, then you need to immediately rectify that!  Tandoori Chicken probably helped popularize Indian cuisine in the rest of the world. And Chicken tikka masala where this tandoor baked chicken is dunked in a delicious creamy tomato gravy is every ‘curry’ and ‘chicken lovers’ dream curry.

I have made Tandoori style chicken numerous times over the years although I had never posted a recipe until now. I did post a Nepalese version of Tandoori Chicken sometime back which has tomato in the marinade.  Usually I would just make Tandoori chicken by making a marinade in yoghurt with ginger, garlic, some coriander, cumin, cayenne and garam masala.  I believe cumin and the ginger-garlic paste is what gives a Tandoori chicken its unique flavor.  The chicken is nice and slightly crispy on the outside while really really moist and succulent on the inside. And it is just oozing with flavor!

Of late since I avoid dairy on my Paleo diet, I have been omitting yoghurt. And I have been using lemon juice instead to impart acidity to tenderize the meat.  That works pretty great too. So last week as I was making a new batch, I remembered to take the pics and note down ingredients so I could post this recipe! The longer you marinate the chicken, the tastier your tandoori chicken will be! Also, tandoori chicken has a special flavor because it is baked in a tandoor (clay oven). So in my version, I tried to get a smokey flavor by broiling the chicken for a couple mins in the end.

The tandoori chicken tastes great with some plain white rice and dal (lentil curry). That’s how my family enjoys them.  I either eat them with a salad on the side or make Chicken tacos using my homemade cassava tortillas. So so yum!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tandoori Chicken || Indian Style Baked Chicken (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Appetizer
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Chicken thigh pieces marinated in lemon juice and a blend of indian spices like cumin and garam masala and baked in an oven to get delicious baked chicken bursting with flavor
Ingredients
  • 1½ lb chicken thigh pieces
For the marinade:
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 2 inch by 1 inch long piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Extra Olive Oil for brushing on top
Instructions
  1. Clean the chicken pieces and cut into large pieces. Dab the chicken pieces using paper towels to remove moisture. Make light gashes on the chicken pieces so that the marinade can seep in.
  2. Mix all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and using your hands coat each piece generously with the marinade. Let the chicken pieces sit in marinade for at least 1 hour. Or up to 8-10 hours. (Transfer chicken to fridge if marinating for more than 1 hour)
  4. When ready to bake the chicken, pre heat oven to 450 deg F (220 deg C).
  5. Line a baking tray with Al foil and brush with oil. Lay the chicken pieces on the baking sheet. Bake at 450 F for 25 mins.
  6. Take out tray and brush with oil and flip the chicken pieces and bake for another 15-20 mins until both sides are well cooked.
  7. Remove tray from oven and turn oven to broil setting. Now place tray on top rack for 2-3 mins until there are slightly blackened smoked spots on each of the chicken pieces.
  8. Take tray out of the oven and cover the tray with Al foil until serving.
  9. Serve tandoori chicken with lemon wedges and sliced red onions!
Notes
I use Kashmiri chilli powder since it is mild as well as it gives great color. You could also substitute smoked paprika to get a good color!
You could also grill this chicken on an outdoor grill. If you add charcoal that would give them a really good flavor!