I love Instagram! Don’t know why I stayed away from it for so long! I am loving meeting different food bloggers and seeing their inspiring creations! Am I inspired? Nope, I am floored! Gosh, so much talent out there and so many young kiddos creating such cool stuff. One of my favorite things in the morning (whilst waking up in bed) is to quickly check out the insta posts to get inspiration for my morning breakfast smoothie. These days along with smoothies, a new healthy deliciousness has been trending – ‘nice creams’! He He, ‘nice cream’ sounds a bit shady but it is nothing but a healthy version of ‘ice-cream’ which uses only fruits and other vegan ingredients. Most recipes use frozen bananas to get the ‘nice cream’ texture. And then with that as the base, you can add different fruits – frozen or otherwise of your choice and blend everything to a creamy, smooth ‘nice cream’ texture 🙂 Oh so yum!
So these days mixed berries nice cream is my favorite afternoon snack to satisfy my sweet cravings! I make sure I keep a few slices of bananas in the freezer at all times so i am adequately prepared to meet my cravings 🙂 The other morning I woke up to see a couple nice cream posts and oh, boy I started craving for one right away. So I decided to make a smoothie ‘nice cream’ for breakfast. A couple dashes of coconut milk gave it the perfect smoothie/nice cream texture. I made a separate blueberry compote to give it some additional richness and sophistication 🙂 Hey, you’ve gotta love your breakfast!
Hope you get inspired by this post to come up with some lovely creations of your own. Please do share with me! Btw, looks like spring is almost here! Yay!
Mixed berries blended with frozen bananas and a dash of coconut milk to create this healthy and delicious 'nice cream' with a topping of blueberry sauce/compote
For the nice cream:
1 banana, peeled, sliced and frozen for 3 hours or more
1 cup mixed berries (I used combination of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - if using frozen, thaw them to room temperature)
2 tablespoons coconut cream or thick coconut milk
½ cup water
For the blueberry compote(sauce):
½ cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
¼ cup water
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp tapioca starch mixed in 2 tbsp water to form a slurry
In a small cooking pot, add the blueberries, water, salt and maple syrup and cook for about 4-5 mins until the blueberries turn soft. Add the tapioca slurry and mix on low heat for another 2-3 minutes till you get a thick sauce. Turn heat off and transfer sauce to a container.
Blend all the ingredients under 'nice cream' in a high speed blender until you get a creamy smooth consistency (should be like slightly thawed ice-cream)
Take a tall glass or jar. Add some blueberry sauce on the bottom. Add 'nice cream' on top and drizzle more sauce on top. Top with berries!
Healthy snacks are a big thing for me. I am constantly trying to make snacks that are nutritious and wholesome and that will satisfy two growing kids. One of whom is a teenager! The hunger pangs start as soon as they get home from school although I make it a point to pack a healthy lunch and a snack for them. So the pantry is constantly being raided. I make them a healthy fruit smoothie and then try to stock up on lots of fruits so that they can eat those first before loading up on the crackers, bread etc. I bake most weekends so that I can create goodies with less sugar or even make them sugar free (by using honey or maple syrup). That way there is always a stock of something homemade and healthy for that huge mid-day hunger attack!
Last week I decided to make something with oats since I had a huge bag of them leftover in my pantry. Before I started on a Paleo diet 3 months ago, I used to eat oats regularly for my breakfast. And after I stopped eating them it was lying there unused since my husband is sensitive to oats and the kids just didn’t want to change from their regular cereal. So I was determined to use them up – I was thinking of making just some granola like I posted before. But then suddenly I remembered seeing some recipes of oats bars on pinterest. So I looked for those recipes and I ended up making a version of my own based on what I had on hand – I added pecans for nuts since that was the only nut I had in my pantry that day and used peanut butter for the base. I also used the food processor to puree the dates and to coarsely chop the nuts and the oats since I knew that would give them a better texture. I have been making a version of these bars – My healthy breakfast bars for quite sometime now and I always felt like chopping the nuts in a food processor gives the bars a better texture.
My experiment was very successful – thanks to all the other bloggers out there with their different recipes which makes it easier to innovate and come up with your own version. The kids as well as the hubby love these bars and considering these are much easier to make than my old version, I know these are going to be a ‘regular’ in my house going forward 🙂
Healthy 'breakfast bars' or 'anytime snack' with oats and nuts; No Baking needed!
1 cup pecans or walnuts (or any other nuts)
1½ cups rolled oats (NOT quick cooking)
1 cup dates, pitted
2 tbsp hot water
¼ cup maple syrup or honey
¼ cup unsalted organic peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
In a large baking tray lined with parchment paper, spread the oats and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Transfer the oats to a plate.
To the same tray add the pecans or walnuts (or other nuts if raw) and toast for about 5 minutes.
In a food processor or chopper, pulse the oats and the nuts together for about 20-30 seconds until the nuts get crushed (big chunks) and oats also get chopped a bit. Keep aside.
In a food processor, add the dates along with the hot water and blend until you get a thick pasty consistency.
In a cooking pot, add this date mixture, the maple syrup(or honey), salt and the peanut butter (or almond butter) and heat for about 2-3 minutes until everything blends together. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Add the vanilla extract and the oats and the nuts mixture. Mix well using a large wooden spoon/spatula.
Dump this mixture into a square brownie pan lined with parchment paper with an overhang. Pat the mixture using the back of a small bowl (or use another sheet of parchment to press on the top).
Place pan in the freezer for an hour (or refrigerator for about 2 hours)
Take out the pan from the freezer/refrigerator and slide the parchment with the bar onto a cutting board and cut the block into bars of desired size using a large knife.
You can toast the oats and nuts in a pan on the stove too instead of toasting them in the oven. Once set, bars can be stored at room temperature (65-75 deg F) for about 5 days or in the refrigerator for unto 2 weeks.
I have been ‘refined sugar’ free for more than a year now and tell you what…I don’t miss it at all! In fact I feel so awful that I was eating all that unnecessary refined sugar all these years. Once you go completely sugar free you will start reaching out for the natural sugars as in fruits, dried fruits and other natural products like honey and maple syrup. And the best thing is that the natural products do not give you a sugar rush plus they all provide beneficial nutrients to your body in addition to just sweetness.
But sometimes you do crave for sweets because you crave for that texture. For example even though I have not felt deprived for the most part, I sometimes have this craving for Indian sweets like coconut barfi (fudge) or coconut ladoo (sweetened balls)! That’s when I began to experiment. I made date, almond and coconut rolls which are absolutely delicious and are now a permanent snack in my home – my son just loves them! My Date nut truffles are also equally amazing and so decadent they feel like an absolute treat! I also made a dates and Nut Barfi (fudge) with dates, almonds and walnuts and that is again absolutely delicious with the gooey fudge texture.
So two weeks ago my cravings for texture meant I had to experiment again since I am on the Autoimmune protocol diet and so I cannot do nuts either. So I scratched my brains and scanned the available items for me in my pantry and apricots and dates were the winners!. I really wanted something that had a texture like a coconut ladoo and so that made me come up with these apricot coconut balls. Oh boy, the texture of these balls are amazing. The coconut flour just gives it the soft but dense texture that I was craving for! And that’s not all – it gets even better! OK so all you need for this recipe are just 3 ingredients! Yes! Dried Apricots, Dates and coconut flour. And Shredded Coconut to roll them in.
And yes you do need a food processor. These balls came together in less than 15 minutes though from start to finish. The first time I made it, I had made a very small experimental batch and I could make around 8 balls and they were all gone in 2 days! And that was just me eating all of them! SO then of course I had to make them again. And again. You see I had to perfect the recipe too so I could share with you guys 🙂
I used lemon zest the first time to get an additional burst of flavor and that gave a wonderful freshness to the balls. The second time I tried cardamom powder so that I could get the taste to be very close to the Indian coconut ladoo. I loved that too. SO you can pick your flavor. Maybe you will come up with some additional ideas. Even if you don’t add anything the apricots give it enough flavor already. If you are 100% AIP compliant then you cannot do cardamom. Over the past one month I have been able to add all my spices (Indian) back to my diet without much complaints. So I am ecstatic. And completely blissful when I eat these apricot coconutties!
Beef Cutlets are a specialty of Kerala’s Christian community. Growing up in Mumbai, we had ‘Mallu (short for malayalee which in turn means someone who belongs to Kerala 🙂 ) Christian’ neighbors. Kunjimol aunty always hosted great parties – be it Christmas or Easter or her kids’ birthday parties! One of the appetizer dishes was always these crispy and spicy beef cutlets! We all loved them! Our parents did not eat much beef however even they liked these cutlets perhaps because ground beef is used to make them and the nice flavors from the ginger, garlic and other spices makes the beef very delicious. And then the best part is the crispy coating that the beef patty gets from the bread crumbs! Pan fry or deep fry these babies and serve them with either ketchup or a sweet spicy sauce and they are gone in seconds!
My mom who actually never cooked beef regularly at home did learn this recipe from Aunty. I am so glad she did! And so over the years I have made cutlets the same way using either ground chicken or beef. And they are always a crowd pleaser! However now being on a paleo diet for the past year, I hadn’t eaten any cutlets in a while 🙁
And this had to change…and so this is how it happened. I had some cooked ground beef leftover in my fridge. So one fine afternoon when I was really really hungry and was really craving for something really really satisfying , the image of beef cutlets popped into my head! At first I brushed it off thinking there was no way I would be able to make a paleo version! And that too an eggless paleo version since I am sensitive to eggs too! But then necessity is indeed the mother of invention, right? 🙂 🙂
And so in about 30 minutes I had these crispy beef cutlets with a coconut crust that were ‘melt in your mouth’ delicious! I gorged about 3 of them and had to stop myself from eating more!
So how did I do it? What were the substitutions? Well first for the potato, I subbed yucca (cassava). Incidentally I also had some leftover boiled yucca in the fridge. How convenient was that! Then for the crust part, I used shredded coconut and tapioca starch slurry. These came out so delicious. My kids ate the rest of the cutlets as a snack when they came back from school! The yucca made the cutlets somehow feel more richer than when you use potato.
Reading the recipe you might think its too time consuming but that can be easily rectified if you plan to make the kheema curry beforehand i.e. cook the ground beef with spices. This kheema curry can be eaten with a salad on the side. That is one of my regular Paleo meals.SO once you have some leftover kheema then making these cutlets is a cinch! Either way guys this is totally worth the effort!
Paleo version of the Indian Beef cutlets made from ground beef and yucca cooked with Indian spices and coated with shredded coconut and shallow fried in coconut oil
Precooking the Beef:
1 lb ground beef
2-4 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin powder (omit for AIP version)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper) (Omit for AIP version)
1 bay leaf
For making kheema
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
½ of a medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 tbsp garlic, chopped fine
1 tbsp coriander powder (sub cilantro leaves for AIP version)
1 tsp garam masala (skip for AIP version)
For the cutlets:
about 1 cup of boiled yucca (cassava or kappa) pieces, mashed well
2 tbsp of tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
½ cup dry shredded coconut (unsweetened)
2 tbsp coconut oil for pan frying
Add all the ingredients under 'pre cooking the beef' into a pressure cooker (or an ordinary pot with a tight fitting lid) and cook for 3 whistles. If not using a cooker, you need to add about ¼ cup water.let cool and keep aside.
In a sauté pan, add the oil and add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the onions get softened and you get the cooked smell of ginger and garlic. Next add the coriander powder and garam masala and stir for a minute.
Next add the cooked ground beef to this onion mixture and let cook together for 4-5 minutes or until all water is gone.
Let this kheema mixture cool nicely before you start making the cutlets.
For making the cutlets, take a large mixing bowl and add the cooled kheema (beef mixture) and the mashed yucca pieces.
Make patties out of this mixture and keep aside.
Place shredded coconut in a plate and in a small bowl mix the tapioca starch with about 2 tbsp water to form a slurry
Next Taking one patty at a time, dip the patty first into the tapioca slurry and then coat with the shredded coconut. Place the coated patty onto a plate. Repeat similarly for all of the patties.
Heat a non stick frying pan and add the coconut oil to it.
When the oil is hot, turn heat to medium and shallow fry the patties until both sides turn golden brown!
Transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil and serve warm!
For an AIP compliant version, omit all the spices as indicated above in the recipe
Since my recent post on smoothies, many folks have continued to ask me for ideas on different combinations of veggies and fruits that I use. And so I thought of creating a new post for every smoothie that turns out to be really spectacular! When it comes to food (and drinks), I always love to experiment! That breaks up the monotony – of both – the task of cooking/making it as well as eating/drinking it! So every morning as I slide into my kitchen and get the blender out, I mentally survey all the fresh fruits I have on hand and the ones in the freezer and go about trying new combinations. One thing I like to do is to pair fruits with similar colors together – this gives a great color impact. And that’s what I decided to do the other morning. I have also decided to make it a point to add at least one vegetable to my morning smoothie so that it becomes extra nutritious!
So I decided to go with carrots this time. Papayas seem to be a perfect pairing with the carrots in terms of the color. And then banana and avocado for the creaminess! Yum. As I started making it, I thought of ‘Carrot cake’ and so decided to add some spice to it – a bit of fresh ginger and then pumpkin spice! I also had a bot of coconut cream left so I added that too towards the end but even without that the smoothie came out absolutely delicious! Such a beautiful and colorful way to start the day 🙂