Chestnut flour is something that I recently got acquainted with. Thanks to my friend Monika. A few weeks ago when we were at their home for dinner, she told me about this flour which is called as ‘singhare ka atta’ in India and how this flour is used during religious fasting periods called as Vrat. She said that this flour came from water chestnuts and hence it is grain free. Wow, I was so happy to hear this and the next time I was at our local indian grocery store, I picked up a bag of this flour. I couldn’t wait to try this for making parathas as Monika had suggested!
I did make the parathas with aloo(potatoes) in them since that was the only way to make the dough. The parathas were good and now I started browsing more recipes using singhare ka atta. There are all sorts of things that showed up – dosas, samosas, etc and I started to drool looking at all these foods that are forbidden for me on my current grain free diet. I was feeling so excited already and then I saw the recipe for ‘singhare ka halwa’! Omg! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Halwa has always been my favorite Indian dessert and for the past two years I have not had halwa being dairy free , gluten free and sugar free! So looking at this recipe, I imagined the possibility of a halwa in the near future for me. That was incredible! If it came out good, Monika, my friend deserved a treat from me!
And today happened to be the perfect day to try this recipe since it was Janmashtami which is Lord Krishna’s birthday. I started seeing all kinds of Indian traditional sweets recipes posted on instagram and in the afternoon, it was time for me to try making the singhara atta ka halwa.!
Turned out great – satisfied my halwa cravings totally. Even though I used coconut oil instead of ghee and maple syrup instead of sugar. The chestnut flour itself has a nutty taste and aroma so the halwa tastes rich even without any ghee or milk in it.
It has been blueberry season these past few weeks and we have been enjoying it to the fullest! With two farms within a couple miles from our home, we are so fortunate to get the freshest of the freshest every season! This year I made two trips to each of the farms. The kids being older now…they aren’t as excited about picking as they used to be some years ago. However, I still dragged them with me saying ‘mom cannot carry heavy stuff alone, remember?’. And that is the truth too. Although my RA has been under control now for the past few months with medications and my new diet, I still avoid carrying even moderately heavy stuff lest it stirs up a flare! And the kids know this. So that’s how I got them to go with me 🙂
We picked like about 4 quarts or 6 lbs each time and finished up all of it in a couple weeks! I had got more thinking I will freeze some but the blueberries were so delicious that between just gobbling them up and adding to my morning smoothies they were all gone. And so I was planning for a 3rd visit when my friend Monika happened to mention that she was planning to go that weekend with her kiddos. Rest you can guess …yeah I asked (em..ordered) her to get me another 4 quarts:)
OK so this time, I had to make the blueberry crostata for my children that I make every year and which they had been asking for. So I made that for my son on his birthday and then since I was craving for a pie myself, I made this Paleo version of blueberry pie for myself based on the Blackberry pie recipe by Autoimmune wellness. Since I was making this only for myself, I decided to make two mini pies using my cute tartlet pans. You might remember that I had made another blueberry dessert recently using these pans – Paleo Blueberry tartlets . Yeah what can I say? I am indeed crazy about blueberries 🙂
The pies turned out perfect. Since I was doing a small batch, I had to add a little more coconut flour than what the original recipe stated. A lot of times in baking, the same proportions of ingredients do not hold when you do a smaller batch. In any case, the crust with the coconut flour was so yummy – almost shortbread like crumbly but very scrumptious! Thank you to Autoimmune Wellness site for this wonderful Paleo crust recipe. I think next time I might make a large batch for the whole family! Healthy and delicious you can’t beat that right?
A healthy and delicious blueberry pie with an absolutely tasty, grain free coconut flour crust!
For the crust:
⅓ rd cup plus 2 tbsp coconut flour
⅓ rd cup arrowroot flour
pinch sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil (semi solid)
About 1 tsp ice cold water
For the filling:
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp tapioca flour mixed in 2 tbsp water
Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F.
In a medium size mixing bowl, add all the crust ingredients except the water. Mix using your hands and add the water and form a dough. (You may need to add a little more coconut flour if you feel the dough is too sticky). The dough should be smooth. Divide the dough into two equal parts.
Line two mini pie pans with parchment paper. Place the dough in each of the pans and press using your hands to cover the base and sides of the pan. Prick using a fork. Bake at 325 deg F for about 10 mins until the crust looks golden brown from top.
While the crust is baking, in a small pot add all the filling ingredients except the tapioca flour. cook for about 5 mins on medium heat. Then slowly add the tapioca flour slurry and stir continuously until you get a thickened filling.
Pour this filling onto the pie pans and bake the pies again at 350 deg F for 5 more mins. Let cool for 10 mins before serving!
I have probably said this before and will say it again – “Chocolate makes the world go around!” And there is something about ‘chocolate cake’ that makes everyone drool! And when it comes to both my children, they usually look for only one word in the dessert menu – yeah you guessed it – chocolate! Anything ‘chocolatey’ will fly with them! As you know, I usually try to bake ‘healthier’ versions of desserts and I mostly love to include fruits in my desserts. I also like to bake with either less sugar or using better alternatives like maple syrup or honey), try to avoid dairy (or use grassfed butter) and also use healthy ingredients like coconut oil and coconut milk.
Baking sweet treats at home helps to assure the quality of the ingredients and avoid unnecessary chemicals, colors and preservatives. I very rarely bake decadent treats like this one and reserve them only for special occasions like our birthdays. I believe having an occasional treat (essentially 3-4 times in a year) is not only ok but that it is also essential for a balanced approach so that you don’t feel deprived. I like to enforce the 80-20 rule at home where you eat healthy 80% of the time. Of course, if you have a chronic disease like diabetes or cardiovascular disease and or have an autoimmune condition like me, you need to try and avoid these completely for a period of time.
Anyways, for my son’s birthday this year, I decided to bake a ‘healthier’, slightly modified version of Ina Garten’s Perfect Chocolate Cake by replacing butter, refined sugar and milk with coconut oil, coconut sugar and coconut milk. For the eggs too, I used farm fresh pastured eggs. In the frosting too, I used honey and coconut sugar. And for the entire cake, I used fresh 100% cacao powder. Pleased to report that all these changes meant a really decadent, moist cake that was so over the top delicious that all of our friends at the birthday party were raving about it some even asking for seconds! No wonder I couldn’t even get good pictures of the cake:)
But let me assure you that this cake is going to be a keeper. With everyone praising the cake so much, even I was tempted to have a small bite and gosh, it was ‘heavenly, melt-in-the-mouth delicious’! I was actually feeling sorry that I tasted it since it made it harder for me to control myself from having anymore! And next time, I will try making this gluten free.
Please do try this recipe and I am sure you will thank me!
Perfect Chocolate Cake - a 'healthier' version (dairy free, refined sugar free)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Dessert
A decadent, moist chocolate cake covered with a delicious chocolate frosting baked using healthier ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, coconut milk and honey.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups coconut sugar
¾ cup 100% cacao powder (I used OMG brand)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup melted coconut oil
2 large eggs(I used farm fresh, pastured) - taken out of the refrigerator one hour before so they can be at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder(optional)
For the frosting:
1 cup coconut oil(semisolid not completely melted)
⅓ cup coconut cream (from top of a coconut milk can)
⅔ cup raw cacao powder
¼ cup coconut sugar(powdered finely)
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease a large 10 inch springform pan (or 2 smaller pans) and dust lightly with flour.
In a large tray or a sheet of parchment paper, add all the dry ingredients - all purpose flour, coconut sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt. Mix them well using a spatula. Keep this aside.
In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), add the coconut milk,melted coconut oil,vanilla and the eggs and beat using electric mixer until blended. Now slowly add the dry ingredient mix slowly in batches and continue to mix to blend everything well.
Add the boiling water and coffee and mix again till well blended.
Pour the batter into the pan (or pans) and bake at 350 deg F (or 175 deg F) for about 40-45 mins. Check after 35 mins. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Remove immediately from oven and cool for about 30 mins before removing from pan.
If using large pan, you will need to cut the cake horizontally to from two layers.
For making frosting, add all frosting ingredients in a small bowl and mix using an electric mixer until creamy.
Frost between the layers and on the outside.!
Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before you add them to the coconut oil and coconut milk mixture. If they are cold, the coconut oil will solidify! It happened with me. So in the event that this happens, don't worry - just place the bowl in a larger bowl with hot water and wait for about 10-15 mins until the coconut oil comes back to room temperature again.
Mappas is a coconut milk based curry that is unique to Kerala and particularly among the Kerala Syrian Christian community. Fish mappas, Chicken Mappas and also vegetable mappas. Last week I wanted to make some kind of vegetable korma since I was so excited that I was finally able to make grain free parathas using cassava flour. After being deprived of all kinds of breads the past two years, I am now ecstatic that I can finally eat parathas. And so I was looking to make a curry that will go well with parathas / rotis – I was craving for a flavorful and rich curry where I could use my cassava paratha to soak up all the gravy. I suddenly remembered my friend Reena’s mixed vegetable curry that she had brought to a potluck some several thousand moons ago! Yes, I am weird like that – I remember everything about who brought what dish to what potluck even if it was several years ago 🙂
Reena doesn’t stay near us anymore but in these days of whatsapp messaging, distances hardly matter! So I messaged Reena to give me her recipe and lo and behold, a very beautifully crafted recipe was delivered to me 2 days later. I wasn’t surprised since Reena is the most meticulous of all my girl friends – she likes to go about things in an organized fashion. And she is a fabulous cook too being a Keralite brought up in Chennai, she has the best recipes from both the worlds! Thank you Reena for this fabulous recipe. I made it exactly as her recipe only replacing peas with carrots and then also adding green beans. We had the curry with rotis (for the family) and my cassava paratha. The gravy was finger licking good and even my 10 year old daughter who is allergic to vegetables(not clinically but you know what I mean right?) also took seconds! God bless you Reena darling 🙂
Hope you all enjoy this recipe. I have also included the recipe for cassava (tapioca) paratha here. Check out my youtube channel for a video of this curry and my grain free cassava paratha recipe.!
Kerala Style Vegetable Mappas (Vegetable coconut milk curry) and Cassava Paratha
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main course
A finger licking, flavorful curry of mixed vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, green beans and carrots cooked in a rich gravy of coconut milk and spices
Red chilly powder or cayenne pepper - 2 tsp (I used Kashmiri chill powder for a mildly spicy and for color)
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - ¼ tsp
Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1 inch long piece
fresh Ginger - about 1 inch by 2 inch piece
fresh Garlic - 4 big cloves
¼ cup warm water
For making coconut milk:
2 cups fresh or frozen grated coconut
about 2½ cups hot water
Coconut oil - 1.5 tbsp
Shallots/red onions, chopped 1 cup
Potatoes- peeled and cubed - 2
Carrots - ¼ cup
Green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces, 1 cup
Cauliflower - florets - 2 cups
Vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar but any vinegar is fine)- 1 tbsp
Thinned Coconut milk (2nd extraction) - 2 cups
Thick Coconut milk (1st extraction) - 1 cup
Salt about 1 tsp (or per taste)
fresh Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
extra coconut oil for drizzling on top
For cassava parathas:
½ cup cassava flour
1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
pinch sea salt
½ cup hot water (water that has been boiling and just removed from heat)
2 tsp olive oil
Place all the ingredients listed under 'masala' in a small blender jar and grind together to form a fine paste. Keep aside.
In a blender mix the grated coconut with about 1 cup of the hot water and blend for 1 minute. Using a strainer, extract the coconut milk. Keep aside this first coconut milk. Now add the rest of the water and blend again. Strain to get the 2nd extract. Keep both extracts aside.
Heat the coconut oil and sauté the shallots for 2-3 mins.
To this add the ground masala paste and sauté for about 1 minute on low heat until the raw smell dissipates.
Add all the veggies, stir to mix veggies with the spices, cover with a lid and cook for 5 mins.
Add the 2nd milk, vinegar and salt. Cover and cook for about 8-10 mins or until the vegetables are cooked.(Take care not to overcook)
Now add the 1st milk and the fresh curry leaves.
When the curry comes to a boil, remove from heat and drizzle extra coconut oil on top and serve warm with rotis or parathas!
For making cassava paratha:
In a large mixing bowl, add the cassava flour. Add the salt and the oil. Then add slowly the hot water in 2-3 portions and continue stirring with a spoon. When all the water is added, add 1 more tsp of oil and then knee with your hands to form a smooth dough.
Roll dough into chapatis and cook on a frying pan cooking about 2 mins on each side. Apply ghee or oil as needed.
This curry tastes best with homemade coconut milk. But you can use organic canned unsweetened coconut milk too. If using canned milk, you can just use the entire quantity - 3 cups of coconut milk together. For AIP, skip red chili, coriander and fennel powder
In the raw cakes world, this would be called a vegan cheese cake. But I found that my followers were a little confused when I posted my first vegan cheese cake made with berries and cashews. So I will just call it ‘cashew cake’. Although it has cashews, coconut and dates too. And maple syrup. And some lemon juice and coconut oil. Don’t you love it when you can list all the ingredients in a cake using your 5 or 6 fingers? As opposed to that cake that you get from the supermarket bakery, which has like what close to 50 ingredients some of which you cannot even pronounce forget recognize.
Yes we like it simple. We like it clean. We like it healthy. Since that first time I made my first raw cake (cashew cake), I have made it 2 more times. Once I just kept it plain with vanilla flavor and added strawberries on top! The family loved it. The next time I made it for mother’s day where I made a 2 layer one with strawberry layer on top. And that was super and fabulous and totally delicious! Yes all the moms in our Mother’s day party were impressed. And the kids loved it too. (Btw, to see my day to day posts, please follow me on instagram. You see guys, I cook way more than I can write a blog post on. so I use instagram now to post my day to day recipes!)
So after mixed berries and strawberries, the next one I was dying to make was …yes you guessed it! Mango, of course! Mangoes being my favorite fruit and them being in season it made perfect sense to make a Mango cashew cake. So with some friends visiting us this past long weekend, I had the perfect opportunity to make the ‘Mango cheese cake’ and also showoff my ‘raw cake making’ talents to them 🙂
Btw, I just realized that we could call this cake a ‘pie’ too. Incidentally, Mango pie used to be the most common dessert that I used to make until recently. I have posted my famous Mango pie recipe before. And I still make it for some special occasions. However, in terms of a healthy dessert, this Mango Cashew Pie would be the winner hands-down. Refined sugar free, Dairy free and Gluten free! Eat as much as you like 🙂 Our guests appreciated this cake a lot. It was a beauty. I also made a video of it. Here it is!
A delicious cake(pie) made with cashews, mangoes and coconut.
For the crust:
1 cup finely shredded coconut (desiccated coconut)
2 tbsp coconut oil melted
Pinch sea salt
For the Filling:
2 cups cashew nuts soaked overnight
⅓ cup coconut oil
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp coconut cream(or thick coconut milk)
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt
1 cup chopped fresh ripe mangoes
Soak cashew nuts in warm water and let sit for at least 12-24 hours.
Line the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
For making the crust, in a food processor blend all the crust ingredients except the shredded coconut. Then mix this with the shredded coconut in a bowl to form a thick mixture. Press this mixture to the bottom of the pan. Freeze the pan for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling by blending all the filling ingredients except the mangoes to get a thick creamy filling.
Pour ¾ of the this filling mixture onto the pan after the base has set. Then to the rest of the filling mixture, add the mangoes and again blend to get a creamy smooth mixture. Pour this over the top of the white filling layer. Place pan back in freezer for at least 5-6 hours.
Remove pan from freezer about 30 mins before serving the cake. Place pan over warm water for 5 mins to help slide the bottom easily.
For making the crust, I do not blend the shredded coconut with the dates since then the mixture becomes too fine and the crust will become a hard crust. When you have loosely packed crust, it firms up perfectly after freezing. You can add more maple syrup if you prefer more sweetness.