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.
He He … ABC Paratha, isn’t that a fun name? Its an interesting story how this particular paratha was conceived in my kitchen. So you see, of late I have been juicing regularly using a variety of vegetables and fruits. I would always feel upset about throwing away all the pulp since there is so much fiber (and also nutrients) left in the pulp after you juice. At least my Breville juicer does not really compact my veggies and fruits and so I know there is still a lot of good stuff left in that pulp. What I would do is freeze the pulp and then put it in smoothies and soups.
Then one fine day while I was making methi parathas for my kiddos, a light bulb went on and I said to myself – Hey, next time I an use some of that juice pulp! And so as it happened , the next time I used Apples, beets, cucumber and celery for making my juice. I faithfully gathered the pulp and saved it for making parathas the following day. The next day as the kids came home from school, there were these warm, pink parathas ready for them. They both devoured the parathas. They loved it! I did not tell them what was in them nor did they bother to ask! So after that day I kept making such parathas frequently and this combination with the apple, beets and the cucumber was the one they loved the best. One day I had added grapefruit too and that gave a bitter taste which they complained about. So Ok no grapefruit business. let’s stick to the ABC and let’s call it the ABC paratha.
So now this paratha has become a regular in our house along with the methi thepla. Over the past few weeks I experimented further with these parathas adding ragi flour (finger millet flour) and flaxseed meal to replace part of the whole wheat flour. The kids continued to love it. Isn’t that the best thing? When you make them such healthy, wholesome food and they enjoy it?
Btw, I make this paratha now by using freshly grated apples, beets and cucumber even on the days I am not juicing:) And I serve these parathas with my homemade apple and date chutney, which is also a cinch to make and my daughter and my favorite chutney since it is sweet, tangy and spicy. My daughter loves the combination – of this paratha with the apple chutney. I think they perfectly complement each other.
Sweet and Savory paratha (Indian flatbread) made of whole wheat and millet flour and stuffed with grated apples, beets and cucumber
½ cup grated apple (about ½ of a medium peeled apple)
¼ cup grated red beets(after peeling the skin)
¼ cup grated cucumber (skin peeled)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder(cayenne pepper)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1 tbsp olive oil
1½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup Ragi flour (finger millet flour)
1 tbsp flax seed meal
about ¾ cup water to knead the dough
extra ghee or olive oil for cooking paranthas
In a large mixing bowl, add the grated beets, apple and cucumber. then add the salt and all the spices and the oil.
Next add the whole wheat flour, the rage flour and the flexed meal and the oil and start mixing together. Add water slowly until you get a smooth dough. (Add additional bit of flour or water as needed)
Divide the dough into small golf ball size balls - about 20 balls.
Heat a frying pan on medium heat.
Take each dough ball and roll using chapati rolling pin into a round chapati shape (about 5-6 inches diameter) - use flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to the rolling surface.
Place the chapati onto the heated pan and cook for 1 minute. Flip and apply oil or ghee to the chapati and let cook for about 30 seconds and then again flip to the other side. Apply oil/ghee to this side too and again flip to let cook for another 30-40 seconds or until both sides are cooked and have brown spots on top. Transfer to a container to keep warm. Continue making the rest of the parathas the same way.
For the recipe of Apple and Date Chutney, Click here
Btw Happy Holi to all those who celebrate! I started writing this post and realized it was Holi. In maharashtra we make stuffed lentil parathas called Puran Poli for Holi. These Pink parathas I made I thought could also be very apt for Holi don’t you think so? 🙂
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 🙂
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!
Ripe plantains cooked and then lightly fried in coconut oil and served warm topped with maple syrup
1 Ripe plantain ( should be really yellow or black)
1 tbsp Coconut oil for frying
1 tbsp maple syrup
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.
Alternatively, you can steam the plantains in a steamer until soft.
Once cooked, peel the plantains and slice them into ½ inch thick rounds.
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)
Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle maple syrup on top!
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!