Easy ‘No Bake’ Breakfast Bars (Sugar free, Vegan)

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 🙂

Easy 'No Bake' Breakfast Bars (Oat and nut bars)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 bars
 
Healthy 'breakfast bars' or 'anytime snack' with oats and nuts; No Baking needed!
Ingredients
  • 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)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. 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.
  3. To the same tray add the pecans or walnuts (or other nuts if raw) and toast for about 5 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. In a food processor, add the dates along with the hot water and blend until you get a thick pasty consistency.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and the oats and the nuts mixture. Mix well using a large wooden spoon/spatula.
  8. 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).
  9. Place pan in the freezer for an hour (or refrigerator for about 2 hours)
  10. 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.
Notes
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.

 

Apple Beet Cucumber Multigrain Paratha (ABC Paratha) with homemade apple chutney

 

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.

Apple Beet Cucumber Multigrain Parantha
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, snack,lunch
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Sweet and Savory paratha (Indian flatbread) made of whole wheat and millet flour and stuffed with grated apples, beets and cucumber
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the grated beets, apple and cucumber. then add the salt and all the spices and the oil.
  2. 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)
  3. Divide the dough into small golf ball size balls - about 20 balls.
  4. Heat a frying pan on medium heat.
  5. 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.
  6. 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? 🙂

Linking today’s recipe to Plant Based Potluck Party  and to Saucy Saturday this week.

Apricot Coconut Balls (Vegan, Paleo)

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!

Linking this recipe to the Plant based Potluck party Link up this week!

Apricot Coconut Balls (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Healthy Snack
Cuisine: Raw, Vegan, Paleo
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Delicious and healthy treat made of dried apricots, dates and coconut
Ingredients
  • 10 Apricots
  • 10 Dates
  • ½ cup warm water for soaking
  • About ½ cup coconut flour (I used 'Let's Do Organic' brand)
  • ¼ tsp zest of one organic lemon (or ¼ tsp cardamom powder)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut for rolling (I used 'Let's do organic' brand)
Instructions
  1. Soak the dates in a small bowl in the warm water for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor bowl, add the apricots and the dates along with the water used for soaking. You should get a thick pasty mixture.
  3. AT this stage, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the coconut flour and the lemon zest or cardamom powder to it.
  4. Mix the coconut flour with the apricot date mixture using a spatula or your hands to form a smooth non sticky dough. (You may need to add slightly more coconut flour if your dough is sticky)
  5. Roll the dough into small balls and roll in shredded coconut
Notes
You could add the coconut flour also to the food processor and form the dough in it.
For AIP compliant, use only lemon zest and no cardamom

Caribbean Chow/Indian Chaat Style Salad

I think you can guess from the title of my post that I was struggling to come up with a proper name for this creation 🙂 It started with me coming across a caribbean mango cucumber chow recipe on a recipe forum. My sensory buds tingled at the mention of mango. And with cilantro and lime thrown in? Wow, even more mouthwatering stuff.

So that was the inspiration for my salad. So I got myself a mango two weeks ago – yes mangoes have started making an arrival here in our grocers! And note I said ‘ got myself a mango’, which meant that I was NOT willing to share this with anyone else at home. Yes I mean it. When it comes to mangoes, I become an infant …’Its mine!”  OK OK so my family left me alone.  They had the infinite wisdom that once mangoes start making more of an appearance especially at the Indian grocers, mom would get a crate of them and at that point she will be willing to share some with us.

So the recipe I had seen was fairly simple – onion, garlic, green chillies, lime juice and …Culantro.  Yes no typo there, it is Culantro.  I looked it up and it says that culantro or shado beni is a special herb grown in the caribbean.  It is supposedly slightly different from Culantro or shado beni but cilantro is a close substitute.  I am definitely very interested in laying my hands on this herb!  Please let me know if any of you know where I can get it in the US?

Continuing with my salad, I added diced avocado, cucumber and mango together.  For the caribbean chow,  you pound together the onion, garlic, chillies and culantro and add this to the mango/cucumber pieces. Toss with salt and pepper and you are good to go! So I did this and then decided to add some chaat masala since the green chili and cilantro mixture along with lime was so reminiscent of the chaat we used to have back in the streets of Mumbai.  So I added some chaat masala – the salad started tasting so good and I continued to sprinkle more and more of the chaat masala till I felt that it was just perfect – ‘You could eat the whole bowl’ kind of perfect!  Yum!

After that day I started getting mangoes every week and I have made this salad at least three times in the past two weeks!. This last time I made it, i also added cooked beets and sweet potatoes to it.  Tasted wondrous and a perfect side dish to my pan fried salmon.

Chaat masala btw is a blend of several different spices and has a dominant sour/tangy flavor from the dry mango powder and the black salt (pink salt) but it has a little bit of heat also from the other spices and cayenne pepper. I always buy store bought chaat masala but here’s a recipe for it if you would like to see the ingredients – Chaat masala recipe

Linking this delicious salad recipe to Plant-Based Potluck Party Link Up and Saucy Saturdaythis week.

Caribbean Chow/Indian Chaat Style Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad, Paleo, Vegan
Cuisine: Caribbean , Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
A tangy and sweet tropical salad consisting of cucumber, avocados and mango deliciously spiced with cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and chaat masala
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ red onion
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • ½ ripe mango, cut into medium size chunks
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and diced
  • ½ boiled potato (or sweet potato), diced
  • ½ of a medium beet cooked (optional), diced
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chaat masala
Instructions
  1. In a mortar or pestle or a small food processor, add the cilantro, garlic, red onion and the lemon juice. Blend well until you get a chunky kind of paste. Keep aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the avocado, cucumber, mango, potato (or sweet potato) and beet (if adding). Add the cilantro mixture to this. Add the salt, pepper and the chaat masala. Toss well to mix the spices well with the vegetables and fruits. Serve fresh!
Notes
For Paleo version, Use sweet potato instead of potato
For AIP version, Use sweet potato instead of potato and Skip chaat masala

Link up your recipe of the week

Vegetable Korma – Navratan Style (Vegan, Paleo)


Navratan Korma is a rich, creamy and highly delectable dish of vegetables, fruit, nuts and paneer.  It is very rich since butter/ghee, heavy cream and cashew nut paste is used to make the gravy. A blend of different spices is used in this curry along with several garnishes like nuts, seeds and herbs like mint and cilantro.  ‘Navratan’  or ‘Navratna’ means nine jewels and this dish having originated during the Mughal regime really is befitting for a king.! The nine jewels stand for a combination of nine different vegetables, fruits and nuts.

I had been wanting to make vegetable korma since the past few weeks. Now that I am on a paleo diet, I need to eat lots of vegetables to keep me satiated!  My favorite dish lately has been the Keralan Avial which is mixed vegetables in a coconut gravy.  Since this has plantains and other root vegetables like taro root, yam etc this really fills me up.!

Vegetable Korma in Kerala is made using coconut paste or coconut milk and that is what I wanted to make. However, I had some leftover pineapple and so I decided to add some pineapple too and make it spicy and sweet …kinda like ‘navratna korma’. As I began to make it, I thought of adding some swiss chard leaves too! Greens are not common in either vegetable or navratan korma but hey I thought it can’t go  wrong.  And hence this dish was born!  I used only five jewels – cauliflower, carrot, winter melon, swiss chard and pineapple. maybe I should call it panchratna (five jewels) korma 🙂 I decided to make my own spice blend for this curry adding fennel and cardamom along with other whole spices. I loved it very much and this is going to be another of my staple mixed vegetable paleo dishes for now. For a Paleo AIP version, you can still make this curry omitting all spices and using only cinnamon, star anise and cloves.

Vegetable Korma - Navratan Style (Paleo, Vegan)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Delectable curry of mixed vegetables cooked with an aromatic blend of spices and coated in creamy coconut milk sauce to be served over white rice.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup cubed winter melon (or you can use any other vegetables like squash or zucchini etc)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup swiss chard leaves, chopped roughly
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp spice blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 1 /2 cups thick coconut milk (fresh* or canned full fat)
  • ½ cup pineapple chopped
For Spice blend:
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 -3 green cardamoms, outer shell removed
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 one inch long cinnamon stick
Instructions
To make spice blend:
  1. First lightly roast the fennel seeds on a small heating pan for about 2 minutes on low heat. Then add the rest of the whole spices and heat stirring frequently for another minute. Transfer to a spice (coffee) grinder and blend till you get a fine powder. Place in an air tight container.
  2. In a large cooking pot, add the coconut oil and heat. When hot, add the onion,ginger and the curry leaves and sauce for 2-3 minutes. Then add the cauliflower and carrot pieces and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Then cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked. Then add the winter melon, salt and water and again cover and cook for about 4 minutes.
  3. Open the lid and add the spice blend, red chili powder and the swiss chard leaves. Stir to mix well.
  4. Next add the coconut milk and let cook for about 2 minutes till it comes to a boil. Turn heat off and add the pineapple pieces and mix well.
  5. Serve warm!
Notes
For making fresh coconut milk:
1cup of freshly grated coconut or fresh frozen grated coconut that has been thawed
1½ cups of warm water
Blend the coconut with 1 cup of the water and strain using a fine mesh sieve. Add the strained coconut meat back into the blender and blend with the rest of the water. Again strain milk thru the sieve. You should have about 1½ cups of milk.
For AIP version:
Omit all spices not permitted under AIP - use only star anise, cinnamon and cloves for spices