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.
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.
Gulab jamuns, literally translated as ‘rose scented’ balls are a traditional Indian dessert that is now famous all across the world. If you have ever visited any decent Indian restaurant, you would have definitely noticed ‘gulab jamuns’ on the menu! The mention of ‘Gulab jamuns’ always makes me feel hungry and I start salivating! The soft dough balls slightly crispy on the outside but fully moist and spongy on the inside soaked with sweetened and rose flavored syrup can help you forget about all your problems and give you a few moments of sheer ecstasy!
Having said that though, I am quite finicky about how the gulab jamuns should be. They cannot be too too sweet. Yes I repeat that. A lot of the gulab jamuns you find at restaurants are overtly and so overpoweringly sweet that you fail to taste the flavor of rose. And no thank you, no cardamom for me in Gulab jamuns please. Saffron is ok but no cardamom. For the same reason – it is Gulab jamuns for heaven’s sake – Gulab means rose, got it? Only rose flavor should be prominent.
You may wonder – all this fussiness for what? I cannot even eat the traditional gulab jamuns now since I have given up dairy and refined sugar. Yikes. So what do I do? Knowing me you can guess! Yes I came up with a vegan and paleo version of gulab jamun. Last year sometime I had seen a bengali dessert using sweet potatoes which was similar to gulab jamuns. And so I looked up recipes for that. That recipe however used rice flour and sugar and since I wanted to make a grain free and sugar free paleo version, I had to make some substitutions. I used arrowroot flour for binding. And then it also had to be refined sugar free so I made a syrup using maple syrup and honey. An instagram post of gulab jamun by one of my besties gave me a huge craving for it and so I instantly scrambled and put together this recipe this past week to satisfy my craving! Turned out perfect! Yummy and healthy too!
Sweet potato balls fried in coconut oil and soaked in a sweetened syrup made of maple syrup and honey flavored with rose flavor.
For the sweet potato balls:
1 large white sweet potato(Indian or Japanese), boiled, peeled and mashed
about 2-3 tbsp arrow root starch
Coconut Oil for frying (or grass fed ghee for paleo version)
For sweet syrup:
¼ cup water
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tbsp honey (omit for vegan version)
2 drops of pure rose extract
In a small bowl, add the mashed sweet potato. Add arrow root starch 1 tbsp at a time and mix using your hands to form a dough - It will be slightly sticky. (You may need to add 2 to 3 tbsp of arrowroot starch depending upon how big your sweet potato is)
Roll the dough into small ping pong size balls. You can apply some coconut oil in your palms to help roll into smooth balls.
Heat the coconut oil in a small frying pan (or deep frying pan)
Add the sweet potato balls in batches of 4 and fry them on medium heat until reddish brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
Place all syrup ingredients in a cooking pot except the rose flavor and heat for about 3-4 mins until you get a thickened syrup.
Turn heat off and add the rose flavor.
In a medium size bowl, place the fried balls and pour the hot syrup over them. Let the balls soak for about 15 mins before serving.
Its amazing how creative you can get when you are forced to be on a restrictive diet. As a kid, ‘Kozhukkatta’ used to be the occasional sweet treat my mom would make for us. Usually she would make it as an evening snack to be had with tea. I loved these dumplings made with rice flour and filled with a sweetened coconut filling. These are incredibly delicious and are quite filling at the same time. So these would be a perfect snack for us kids coming back famished from school. I would gobble up like 5 or 6 in one sitting. My mom would also almost always make extra coconut filling and save that for me since I loved to just eat that by itself:)
For a while now I had been thinking of trying to make these Kozhukkatta using sweet potato instead of rice flour. This idea came to my mind because I saw a recipe on instagram where someone had made ravioli using sweet potato. That was inspiration and I immediately thought of making these sweet dumplings. Finally last week I got to experiment with this and luckily for me the dumplings came out successful! I used a bit of tapioca starch to help form the dough. And also used Indian sweet potatoes which are less sweet and whitish in color. And of course, I replaced the jaggery with maple syrup.
I offered these to my kiddos as they came home from school not sure if they would appreciate these. Oh boy, I need not have worried – they loved it! I had made only a small batch of about 12 and pretty soon all three of us were fighting for the last one 🙂
Sweet Potato dumplings with sweetened coconut filling (Sweet Potato Kozhukutta)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
A Paleo version of the traditional rice dumplings from Kerala using sweet potatoes and coconut
2 large sweet potatoes,boiled and peeled (Use indian or japanese white sweet potato)
about ¼ cup of tapioca flour (you can use coconut flour or rice flour too)
For the filling:
1 cup grated coconut(if using frozen, thaw it beforehand)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cardamom powder
In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed sweet potato and add the tapioca starch (or rice flour) and mix with your hands until you form a smooth dough. Keep aside.
Heat a flat bottomed pan and add the coconut to it. Cook the coconut for about 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the maple syrup and continue cooking it for another 2-3 mins stirring constantly. Add the cardamom powder and turn heat off. Keep aside and let cool for a few mins.
To make the dumplings, take a golf size ball of dough and flatten it with your hands to form a small circle. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and then pinch the edges towards the center to form a round dumpling. Repeat same process until all dumplings are made.
Steam the dumplings in a steamer basket. You can create your own steamer assembly by heating a large vessel with water and placing a strainer on top. Place the dumplings on the strainer and then cover with a lid. Steam for about 10 mins.