Mango Coconut Lassi (Vegan, Paleo)

Lassi is a traditional North Indian yoghurt drink which is highly refreshing on hot, summery days.  Most common is the plain sweet lassi with only added sugar and no flavor.  The thick sweetened cream on top used to be the best part for me. Yum! Mango lassi is a popular, modern variation of this traditional lassi where fresh or frozen mango pulp is added to give a most delectable combination of yoghurt and sweet ripe mangoes. In the US, Mango lassi can be found in the menus of most Indian restaurants.

Being dairy free, I had been missing my lassi!  But not anymore! Coconut yoghurt to the rescue!  I make coconut yoghurt at home now – I recently posted the recipe for the same. You can also buy coconut yoghurt from most organic supermarket stores.

Since Mangoes have been in season (Oh how I am loving it!), now was my chance to try making a mango lassi with my new found love, ‘coconut yoghurt’!  I decided to add a few frozen mangoes too to give it a nice creamy consistency.  I added a tiny piece of raw turmeric to give it a healthy, anti-inflammatory boost!  Yum!

Happy Memorial Day weekend folks. Maybe you can make this delicious mango lassi this long weekend 🙂

Mango Coconut Lassi (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks, Breakfast
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A delicious smoothie made with fresh mangoes and coconut yoghurt with a tinge of turmeric
Ingredients
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup frozen mango pieces
  • ½ cup thick coconut yoghurt
  • ¼ cup thick coconut milk
  • ½ inch piece of raw turmeric root or ¼ tsp organic turmeric powder (optional)
For topping:
  • fresh mango pieces
  • dried shredded coconut / coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Blend everything together in a high powered blender till you get a creamy smoothie. Serve chilled topping with fresh mango slices and shredded coconut!
Notes
If the mango is ripe, you don't need to add additional sweetener. But if you desire, you can add some light maple syrup

How to make home-made coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut yoghurt

I love everything coconut! No surprise there right since the tagline for my blog also has the word ‘coconut’ in it 🙂 But even though I love coconut, I am extremely picky about the coconut or coconut product – it has to be absolutely fresh smelling. And unfortunately not a lot of products pass my ‘smell test’.  Even most organic Coconut milk brands have a slightly rancid smell that fresh homemade coconut milk does not have. For making coconut milk, using fresh coconut is the best. However, since in the US we don’t see fresh coconuts regularly in the grocers, I find ‘fresh frozen coconut’ – either grated or sliced as the next best alternative. And that is what I use for all my Kerala curry recipes. You could also use dried shredded coconut for making coconut milk however you will need to blend it with hot water and for a longer period of time. I blend the frozen coconut (after thawing) and strain through a strainer to get fresh coconut milk. Nowadays, having been avoiding dairy completely, I use coconut milk even for other things like making myself a hot beverage like matcha coconut latte or chicory coconut latte and also for making my smoothies and ice creams! (Check out my instagram page for all these recipes). Since I need to have coconut milk handy for such purposes, I make a small batch of fresh coconut milk every week and store it in the fridge.

Now as I have started using coconut flour for some of my snack recipes like the apricot coconut balls, I started making coconut flour at home too. And if you make coconut milk at home, it makes total sense to make coconut flour too since that is made from the leftover coconut after extracting the milk.

And most recently, I have started making coconut yoghurt also using coconut milk.  Check out all 3 recipes below. It is really quite easy to make all three together every week – it takes me about 30 mins really…that’s all! And the quality of all the products especially the coconut milk makes it just worth your time and effort! And as a bonus, you will save a few dollars too 🙂

How to make home-made coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut yoghurt
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegan, Paleo
Cuisine: Kerala, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Step by Step method for making delicious home made coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut yoghurt
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh or fresh frozen coconut (grated or sliced) or dried shredded coconut
  • 1½ cups warm water (not boiling)
  • 2 tsp tapioca starch mixed in 1 tbsp water
  • 2 capsules of any probiotic supplement (ideally having 50 Billion or above of probiotic bacteria)
Instructions
For making coconut milk:
  1. If using frozen coconut, thaw it first at either room temperature or in the microwave for about 30 secs.
  2. Blend the coconut with half of the the warm water(about ¾ th cup) in a food processor or blender.(If using dried shredded coconut, blend for longer time)
  3. Place a large fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain the coconut mixture through this to get coconut milk in the bowl. You can use your hands to squeeze the coconut meat.
  4. Put the squeezed coconut meat back into the blender along with the rest of the warm water (3/4 th cup) and again blend for another 30 secs or so.
  5. Once again pass this mixture through strainer. You will get about 2 cups of coconut milk. Pour half of the extracted coconut milk in a bottle or jar and place in fridge. Keep the rest aside.
For making coconut flour:
  1. Pre heat oven to 170 deg F (or lowest setting)
  2. Place the strained coconut meat on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Spread it to form a thin layer.
  3. Place this tray in the oven for around 2 hours or until the coconut meat is completely dry.
  4. Place the dried coconut meat in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until you get a coarse flour.
For making coconut yoghurt:
  1. Pour half of the extracted coconut milk (about 1 cup) into a small cooking pot and heat on low.
  2. Mix the tapioca starch and water to form a thick slurry and add this paste to the warmed coconut milk. Stir continuously until the coconut milk turns thick. Turn heat off. Let the coconut milk cool down to about lukewarm (meaning when you put your finger in it, it should not be too hot).
  3. Now open the probiotic capsules and add the contents into the lukewarm coconut milk. (do not add the outer shell of the capsule).
  4. Stir well using a spoon to help dissolve the probiotic contents well with the coconut milk.
  5. Pour this mixture into a glass jar and cover with a lid. Place jar in a warm place like the inside of an oven or at room temperature (if room temperature is above 70 deg F) for about 24 hours for the yoghurt to set.

Step wise pictures:

     

 

Chicken Burrito Bowl (Paleo)

 Mexican food had always been my favorite! I could eat a bean taco any day especially if it was nicely slathered in ‘hot sauce’ and with a dollop of sour cream on the side! Hence, since starting on Paleo a year ago, I had not had a proper Mexican meal. And the past 6 months I have been on the AIP version of Paleo which meant no nightshades and no spices as well. However in the past few weeks I have introduced spices slowly without any issues (I hope!) – I just add very small quantities of cayenne or any hot pepper though to my servings.  Just so that I get a faint taste of the heat without it triggering any flare up.

So anyways, now that I had been able to introduce spices successfully, I was dying to make something ‘Mexican’! During the week of Cinco de Mayo, I saw a lot of bloggers posting recipes of Mexican Chicken Stir fry with rice (caulirice). And so last week I decided to try making a grilled chicken with cauliflower and veggies stir fry. But as I was marinating the chicken, I noticed I had a ripe avocado available and so thought why not go full blown and treat myself to a Paleo Chicken Burrito bowl!  About 30 mins later, I served up these delicious ‘nightshade free’ burrito bowls that were so jam packed with Mexican flavors that all my cravings of the past one year were assuaged. Even without hot sauce there was enough flavor.  The garlic, cumin and the cilantro mainly did the job! And the lemon juice more than makes up for the missing tomato. I licked up the bowl so well that it looked as if it didn’t need any further cleaning when I was done with it 🙂

I also served up some rice for the rest of my family. Yummy dinner that we all enjoyed!

Chicken Burrito Bowl (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Mexican, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Paleo and nightshade free version of the Mexican Chicken burrito bowl made with grilled chicken, cauliflower rice and guacamole
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken (preferably thigh pieces) cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
For marinating chicken
  • ¾ tsp cayenne pepper (or 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder)
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • About 2 tbsp coconut oil for sautéing the chicken
For Cauliflower rice
  • 1 medium size cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
For the guacamole:
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and mashed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
For the salsa:
  • ½ of a red onion, chopped fine
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
For assembling the burrito bowl:
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • white rice cooked(for non paleo members)
Instructions
  1. Dab dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel. Add all the marinade ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken pieces to this to coat well. Keep aside for 15 - 30 mins.
  2. Heat a large frying/grilling pan and add the rest of the coconut oil. When hot add the chicken pieces and sautee lightly on medium until the pieces are cooked. (You may need to do this in batches since you don't want to crowd the pan).Transfer the chicken pieces onto a dish and keep covered to stay warm and moist.
  3. Shred the cauliflower into small pieces using a food processor or by using a knife to get a 'rice' like texture.
  4. In the same pan that you cooked the chicken, add some more coconut oil and when hot add the cauliflower and the garlic. Saute on medium heat for about a minute until the garlic is toasted. Then add the salt and cover with a lid and cook for about 2-3 mins on low heat until the cauliflower is cooked. Do not overcook otherwise it will get too mushy. Turn heat off and keep aside.
  5. Mix all the ingredients listed under guacamole in a bowl using a masher. Check for seasoning and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Keep aside.
  6. Mix all the ingredients listed under salsa in a bowl and keep aside,
  7. To assemble the bowls, place a few tablespoons of the cauliflower rice into a bowl. Add some chicken pieces. Add the lettuce. Then top with the guacamole and salsa. Mix everything well and enjoy!
  8. Serve white rice additionally if needed.

 

‘Probiotics 101’ and a recipe for a homemade probiotic drink: Beet Kanji

What does the word ‘probiotics’ mean? It seems to be the new buzzword? Everyone seems to be talking about probiotics and gut health. For the last 18 months or so I have been reading up a lot on the relationship between the gut and the immune system and thereby the implications for autoimmune diseases. I have been following a strict paleo diet(autoimmune protocol version) . Many of my friends and family have asked me about the relationship between diet and disease. Some of them seemed confused that our gut would have so much of an impact on our health and wanted to know why ‘probiotics’ were important.

So I thought of writing up this post explaining the basics for my readers.

  1. Significance of gut health on our overall health:  As I was reading up about the impact of diets on disease, one of the facts that really helped me understand this relationship was that “80% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract”!  Now, once you begin to appreciate this, it all begins to make sense doesn’t it? yeah, so if immune system is located in the gut, then what you eat has an impact on the immune system! Ta Da! Many health issues, such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism and many other conditions originate in the gut.
  2. Good bacteria vs bad bacteria: The secret to restoring your digestive health is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. There are actually 10 times more probiotics in your gut then cells in your body! If you don’t have enough probiotics, the side effects can include digestive disorders, skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease, and frequent colds and flus.
  3. Probiotic ‘Killers’ or Eroders: In the olden days, our ancestors used plenty of probiotics in their diets from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting our foods to keep them from spoiling. However, because of refrigeration and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine, our food contains little to no probiotics today, and most foods actually contain dangerous antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our bodies. Following are some ‘probiotic killers’ in our environment today: prescription antibiotics, Non Steroidal Anti inflammatory medications (NSAIDs/Pain killers), sugar, tap water , GMO foods, Grains, emotional stress etc.

Thus adding probiotics to our diet can help  to provide us with a

  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved digestion
  • Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
  • Healthier skin, since probiotics naturally treat eczema and psoriasis
  • Reduced cold and flu
  • Healing from leaky gut syndrome and thereby all autoimmune disorders

What are some natural probiotics?

Sour foods and fermented foods like apple cider vinegar, yoghurt (dairy free coconut yoghurt is best), kefir, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), Kimchi (fermented vegetables), beet kvass (fermented beets) are all great sources of probiotics.

What are some other sources of probiotics?

Nowadays you can buy probiotic capsules from the pharmacy and GNC stores that contain the good bacteria inside a capsule. Make sure you use a probiotic supplement that has a mix of strains from the two main genus lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Pick a brand that has at least five billion CFU (colony forming units) of bacteria. Otherwise it is not good enough. And always store them in a cool place always.

(references: https://draxe.com/probiotics-benefits-foods-supplements/

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics#1

http://dailyburn.com/life/health/choose-best-probiotic/)

I recently came across this lovely recipe for an Indian probiotic drink called as Beet kanji from Myheartbeets.  This drink has been traditionally made in Northern India and I am so glad that I got to know about this drink.  I have been making it regularly now.  The first time I made it , it came out too strong and so after a couple variations, I have the process nailed down – adding just the right amount of mustard and keeping it for fermenting for the right amount of time. I love having this drink chilled! At our dinner gatherings at home, I sport a glass of bright red kanji while others have their alcoholic drinks 🙂  Oh, and you can use the fermented vegetables to add to your salads!

Probiotic 101 and a recipe for a homemade probiotic drink: Beet Kanji
Author: 
Recipe type: Healthy drink
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A healthy traditional indian probiotic drink made from fermenting beets and carrots.
Ingredients
  • 1 large organic beet, peeled and cut into thin, long slices
  • 1 large organic carrot, scraped and cut into thin, long slices
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 2 tsp powdered mustard seeds (coarsely powdered is fine)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Take a large glass jar and add the vegetables and the mustard and salt. Pour the filtered water to cover all the vegetables completely plus leave about 1-2 inches of water above. Cover the jar with a lid and keep it aside on the kitchen counter for 4-5 days or until you see bubbles on top. Taste the liquid to see if you get a strong fermented taste and that's when it is done.

 

 

Blueberry Tartlets (Vegan, Paleo)

A lovely afternoon.  A lovely lunch. With a lovely lady. I had been wanting to invite my next door neighbor over for lunch since a few months now. Finally, it happened last week. This lovely lady is actually an octagenarian but behaves nothing like how a typical 80+ yr old would! She is bubbly, energetic, witty, chatty, open minded and so kind.  I first met her 9 years ago when we moved to our current house and we instantly clicked.  The 40 plus yrs age difference between us never felt like a barrier! We talk about so many different topics like gardening, home renovation, raising kids, health issues and occasionally we also indulge in some neighborhood gossip 🙂

She is not just a kind neighbor but a very caring one too. Two years ago when I was first diagnosed with RA, she was the first one to bring me an enormous amount of food – enough food to last a week actually!. She said that since her mom had RA, she knew how physically challenging this disease was! I was overwhelmed and all teary eyed by her kind gesture. Anyways, now that I was feeling much better and since I had more free time during the day having quit my job, I really wanted to make her a special lunch. She had also not been doing well lately. She had a fall recently injuring her shoulder and knee and was undergoing physical therapy. I asked her if she would like fish and her answer was a resounding ‘yes’!

So what did I make? Main course -Pan grilled Salmon with a honey lemon sauce and some ‘Pulao’ rice with vegetables. A small salad – With mangoes in season, I made my caribbean salad. And then I wanted to make a really special dessert since she had a sweet tooth! And I obviously wanted to make something that I could eat too!

So drawing inspiration from my raw vegan cake and my berry panna cotta recipes, I decided to make a tart/pie by making the base like the raw cake and use the filling like the panna cotta. Also I decided to make ‘tartlets’ since I had bought these cute tartlet pans recently and they were begging to be used!

I was so happy how great these blueberry tartlets came out! Not only did they look so pretty – My guest was totally blown away by how cute they looked…but they also tasted awesome! The blueberry coconut milk pudding was so so delicious! The crust with the shredded coconut and dates is to ‘die for’ and the combination just rocked. How great is it when you can bake your tartlets and eat them too without any feelings of guilt? Dairy free, refined sugar free and grain free dessert that is so damn delicious! My guest at the end of our meal told me that I was the best cook in the entire town! Now isn’t that something coming from someone who has been around for a bit? 🙂 🙂

Happy Mother’s day weekend to all of you lovely moms! You deserve a treat like this one!

Bringing this gorgeous and ‘feel good’ dessert to the Vegan, plant based party potluck

Blueberry Tartlets (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Dessert, Raw Cuisine
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Mini Tartlets with a delicious crust of coconut and dates and a creamy blueberry and coconut filling.
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (I used Bob's Mill )
  • 18 dates
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
For the filling:
  • 2 cups full-fat organic coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. gelatin (use agar powder for vegan version)
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Instructions
For making the crust:
  1. In a food processor blend all the crust ingredients to form a thick dough / mixture. Place parchment paper to cover the base and the sides of the pan. Press this mixture to the bottom of the tartlet pans. Freeze the pans for 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
  1. Place the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add gelatin keep aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In a small pan, heat half of the coconut milk (about 1 cup) over medium heat. Add the maple syrup (or honey) and the gelatin (or agar) mixture. Stir until dissolved completely.
  3. Pour this mixture into the blender, along with the remaining coconut milk and the blueberries. Blend at low speed until smooth.
  4. Pour the filling into the tartlet pans and place in refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours to set.
  5. Slide the tartlets out onto a serving dish and serve with fresh berries on top!