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!

 

Vegetable Minestrone soup (Vegan,Paleo)

I am sure you will agree that there is no food more comforting than a warm bowl of soup.  In my house they are welcome on any nights but especially on cold, wintery nights. Although spring is here, last weekend ended up being chilly. As I was wondering what to cook for dinner on sunday night, I noticed that there were a lot of different vegetables leftover in the refrigerator. So what better meal than a soup to be able to use all of them?

I make this ‘fridge clean up’ soup quite a lot. And usually it is on sunday nights.  Best part about soups is that you can create variations by just changing the combination of vegetables and the spices used. Before I went paleo, I used to make Minestrone soup all the time where I would add vegetables to the beans and use tomatoes to make the typical Italian favorite. So now I decided to make some changes – since I wasn’t going to add the beans, I decided to add in more of the starchy vegetables like turnip and taro root. And I used my favorite substitute for tomatoes – cranberries!  The soup turned out fabulous. The family ate it with some whole grain bread while I had mine with a small piece of boiled yucca on the side. Yes and that’s how I got the idea of adding the grated yucca on top!  I couldn’t resist – the grated yucca looked so much like grated mozzarella! But tasted so much better 🙂 Yum! 

Vegetable Minestrone soup (Vegan,Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main course
Cuisine: Italian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A vegan and Paleo version of the Italian Minestrone soup - hearty and comforting with a variety of vegetables cooked in a delicious blend of Italian and Mexican spices
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 large cloves of garlic chopped
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ of a large purple turnip, chopped about 1 cup
  • 2 medium size taro root, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup cubed zucchini or smooth gourd
  • 6-8 frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 6 cups water
For garnish:
  • Boiled yucca, grated
Instructions
  1. In a large cooking pot, heat the oil. Then add the chopped onions and celery.Saute for about 2 minutes.
  2. Next add the garlic and ginger and the bay leaf. Sauce for a minute.
  3. Then add the turnip, taro root and green beans. Add the salt and all the spices. Stir for a minute.Then cover the pot with a lid and turn heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next add the pumpkin, cabbage, the zucchini (or gourd) and the cranberries. Add the water and cover and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked.
  5. Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed. Turn heat off.
  6. Serve soup warm with grated boiled yucca on top!
Notes
You can use any combination of vegetables. Just add the hard ones first to allow for more cooking time for them.
For AIp version, skip the cumin, coriander and cayenne powder

Tapioca Pearl and Sweet Potato Hash (Sabudana Khichdi)

Tapioca or Yucca or Cassava has become one important component of my diet these days since I am avoiding all grains and all other starches. I mostly just boil fresh yucca pieces (after peeling and chopping them) with sea salt. Or eat them with onion chutney. And they taste delicious! I also have been making the tapioca ‘rice’ or the steamed kappa Puttu which is a traditional Kerala breakfast item. And occasionally when I miss my rice, I tend to cook this hash using tapioca pearls.  Tapioca pearls are called ‘sabudana’ in both Hindi and Marathi and this savory hash recipe is called as ‘khichdi’, which just means a mish-mash of tapioca with potatoes or sweet potatoes. Traditionally in Marathi cuisine this ‘khichdi’ is eaten during religious fasting periods.  Doesn’t it seem like our ancestors were indeed very smart ? – Avoid grains and eat sabudana khichdi and only fresh fruits for the entire day- what better way to detox than this!

One slight drawback about this dish is that it does need a little bit of advance planning in that you need to soak the tapioca pearls in advance for at least 6-8 hours. Peanuts are what is used traditionally however I use walnuts nowadays since I seem to be having some reaction to peanuts. Also regular potatoes or sweet potatoes are used. However if using sweet potatoes, they have to be ‘white sweet potatoes’ or the Indian/Japanese variety of sweet potatoes with white flesh, which also are less sweet as compared to yellow sweet potatoes or yams.

This past week when I made this I paired it with a fresh kale and orange salad. Was so good and definitely filling!

Tapioca Pearl and Sweet Potato Hash (Sabudana Khichdi)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, side dish
Cuisine: Indian, Maharashtrian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Tapioca pearls cooked with sweet potatoes and mild spices and mixed with roasted nuts and grated coconut
Ingredients
  • 1 cup tapioca pearls (soaked overnight or for 6-8 hours in water)
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts (or any other nuts)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated coconut (or fresh frozen grated coconut that has been thawed)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds(skip for AIP)
  • 1 green chili (serrano chili) cut into 3-4 pieces (skip for AIP)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 4-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large sweet potato or potato (boiled, peeled and mashed)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or lime juice
Instructions
  1. Soak the tapioca pearls overnight in a large bowl with enough water on top (pearls will swell up). Drain them using a sieve or colander and blot dry using paper towels.
  2. Place the pearls in a mixing bowl. Add the nuts and the coconut to it and mix everything well together. Keep aside.
  3. Ina wok style pan or kadai, heat the oil. When hot add the cumin seeds and after 30 seconds add the green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Stop fry for 1 minute on medium heat.
  4. Next add the tapioca pearl mixture to this and turning heat to low, keep stirring mix continuously to prevent the pearls from clumping together too much. After they start becoming transparent (about 4-5 minutes or so), add the mashed sweet potato (or potato) to the pan and str everything together well.
  5. Add the cilantro and lime juice and stir well before serving.
Notes
For AIP compliant version, skip the nuts, cumin seeds and the green chillies. Use only white sweet potatoes if using sweet potatoes otherwise the dish will be too sweet.

 

Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan ‘Cheese Cake’

I have to confess…until a few months ago I did not know that there were an increasing number of folks in the world who were following a totally ‘raw foods’ diet!  My first reaction was – wow, that’s great – so healthy and ‘no need to cook’!  I looked over a lot of raw food bloggers’ websites  and saw how creative they were getting with their raw food recipes!  Gosh, it is mind boggling! Personally for me I don’t think I can manage a complete raw food diet since I would crave for warm food from time to time!  However, hats off to those who can pull it off and doing well with it.

So anyways as I have started following more raw food bloggers on my instagram, I continue to get inspired by their creations. One of these was the ‘raw cheese cake’ which is only made using nuts, dried fruits and other fruits! Watching numerous such vegan ‘cheese’ cakes and reading their recipes, I have been meaning to try making one for a few weeks now. The fact that I am currently on a AIP (autoimmune protocol) version of the Paleo diet was one reason – cos I am not allowed to eat nuts on this diet :(.  However, last week was hubby dear’s birthday. Him being a lover of cashew nuts , I thought why not give this raw cheese cake a try?

I looked for recipes and found that the basic recipe was pretty much same – nuts and dates for the crust or the base. And then a cashew nut cream filling. Then you can use your imagination for flavors – I decided to use mixed berries to create a two layer cake. And then topped it with a lot of fresh berries.  I also decided to do the crust only with shredded coconut and dates. I was so proud of my creation!  Our rhododendron had just blossomed too and the color of the topping of the cake perfectly matched with the light purple flowers! What a beautiful evening it was – my husband absolutely loved the taste of the cake!  He said it was better than any dairy cheese cake that he had before! The kids also loved it. I also had a couple bites – I had to see the result of my efforts, you see? 🙂  – Creamy, mildly sweet filling combined with the wonderful coconut crust  made for a delectable dessert! Simply superb is my verdict.

Btw, I would like to mention here a few of the bloggers who have inspired me to make this cake and whom I love to follow:

Edgar raw: https://www.instagram.com/edgarraw/?hl=en

Olivia from Lovehealthok : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoCEQG-JcqA

Sophie from A squirrel in the kitchen : http://asquirrelinthekitchen.com

Bringing this raw, vegan cake to the Plant based Potluck party this week.

Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan 'Cheese Cake'
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, sugar free dessert
Cuisine: Vegan raw cake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 9 dates
  • 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
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup mixed berries
Instructions
  1. Soak cashew nuts in warm water and let sit for at least 24 hours.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. 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.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by blending all the filling ingredients (without adding any water) except the berries to get a thick creamy filling.
  5. 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 berries 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.
  6. Remove pan from freezer about 30 mins before serving the cake.

Happy Vishu! : Papaya Coconut Halwa (Vegan,Paleo)

   Happy Vishu to all those who celebrate – Vishu falls on the 14th of April this year. In Kerala, the start of the Zodiac New Year is celebrated as ‘Vishu’. It is believed that what one sees when one first opens one’s eyes on Vishu morning is an indication of what one can expect in the year to come. Thus on the morning of Vishu, ‘Vishukkani’ is prepared, which is an assortment of beautiful things – the image or idol of Lord Vishnu, beautiful flower arrangements and a panorama of vegetables and fruits to show abundance. Even gold jewelry and gold coins are displayed as part of the kani. It is said to be auspicious to open one’s eyes before the decorated ‘vishukkani’ on Vishu morning. And an elaborate and delicious sadya just like Onam is prepared in all Malayalee households for Vishu.

Although I don’t usually prepare an elaborate sadya for Vishu, I do make some sweet dish at least. This year that was hard too considering my dietary restrictions. But I am one not to be easily discouraged – I decided to make this Papaya halwa.  Traditionally this halwa is made using milk and rice flour along with ripened papaya. But since I am on a paleo diet, I came up with some alternative ingredients – coconut milk instead of regular milk and coconut flour instead of rice flour. The coconut flour gave it a wonderful texture. I also skipped the sugar and used maple syrup instead. The halwa came out delicious!

Mind you, this version is indeed an easy version of the traditional halwa since I cooked it only for about 30 minutes until I got the desired fudge consistency. But I remember my aunts in kerala making the traditional version of papaya halwa by cooking it over slow fire for at least a couple hours stirring constantly. The resulting halwa under the laborious process is of course even more tastier with all the sugars in it getting caramelized completely. But the result of this easy vegan version is not far behind either. So I hope you do get to try making this!

The celebration of Vishu signifies the importance of ‘making a good start’ and of asking for divine blessings before embarking on a new project. Hope all your dreams for the following year come true!

Papaya Coconut Halwa (vegan, paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, kerala, fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Papaya Halwa is a delectable dessert of Southern india and this version is a modified, vegan and paleo version of the traditional halwa using ripe papayas, coconut milk and coconut flour
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups ripe Papaya pieces pureed in blender
  • ¼ tsp or pinch salt
  • ½ cup thick coconut milk or coconut cream
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder (optional)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour (or desiccated coconut powder
  • ½ cup water
  • Chopped nuts for garnish
Instructions
  1. Take a non stick frying pan or a wok style pan (kadai). Add the coconut oil and when hot, add the papaya puree to it. Add the salt and Cook on low heat stirring frequently for about 10 mins. You should begin to see the oil separating from sides.
  2. Next add the coconut milk and maple syrup and continue cooking on low heat stirring frequently. After about 10 mins, when you see the oil separating out again, add the coconut flour with the water to the papaya mixture. Stir very quickly to avoid forming any lumps and then continue to slow cook for another 5 mins stirring regularly until the mixture attaining a 'halwa' consistency - i.e. semisolid and smooth. Remove from heat. Serve garnished with the chopped nuts.
Notes
For AIP version: Skip the cardamom powder and the nuts