Chestnut flour Halwa (Singhare ka Halwa) – Grain free, Dairy Free

  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.

Chestnut flour Halwa (Singhare ka Halwa) - Grain free, Dairy Free
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, sweets
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A delicious fudge made with chest nut flour and maple syrup flavored with cardamom
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chest nut flour (sing hare ka atta)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • cashew nut pieces-5-6
  • shredded coconut- 1 tsp
Instructions
  1. In a kauai (wok style pan), add the chest nut flour and roast it on medium heat stirring continuously. Keep roasting for around 3-4 mins on medium heat until it turns to light brown color.
  2. Now add the coconut oil and again stir to blend it in with the flour.
  3. Once it forms into a sticky mass (about 2-3 mins later) add the water, salt, maple syrup and cardamom powder. Stir continuously till you get a smooth halwa consistency.
  4. Turn heat off and top with cashew nut pieces and shredded coconut.

Perfect Chocolate Cake – a ‘healthier’ version (dairy free, refined sugar free)

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.

Vital Proteins HomeBaking 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: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
 
A decadent, moist chocolate cake covered with a delicious chocolate frosting baked using healthier ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, coconut milk and honey.
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease a large 10 inch springform pan (or 2 smaller pans) and dust lightly with flour.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the boiling water and coffee and mix again till well blended.
  5. 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.
  6. If using large pan, you will need to cut the cake horizontally to from two layers.
  7. For making frosting, add all frosting ingredients in a small bowl and mix using an electric mixer until creamy.
  8. Frost between the layers and on the outside.!
Notes
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.

Chocolate Love Cake (Vegan Chocolate Cake with a berry filling)

Healthy Chocolate Cake (Vegan)February brings mixed emotions in me. One one hand it brings us a lot of snow storms but on the other hand it also is so romantic because of Valentine’s day. Our wedding anniversary also falls close to V day so for me Feb says ROMANCE in capital letters 🙂 And so once again I got my twin heart shaped cake pans out from the pantry. Since I have been on a dairy free diet for the last 4 months in an effort to reduce my RA flares, I thought of going completely dairy free i.e. no eggs too and so decided to bake a vegan cake. I had also been meaning to bake this Sri Lankan ‘Love’ cake that I had pinned several weeks ago when I was browsing and collecting interesting Sri Lankan recipes. When I had first seen this recipe, owing to its name, I had mentally pinned it to bake it for our ‘Anniv cum V- day’ celebration.  How perfect – love cake for Valentine’s, isn’t it? This cake looked so good with the richness of cashew nuts. Yes, it is indeed called as the ‘love cake’ 🙂

DSC_0874Anyways now since I was going the vegan route, I decided to skip the original recipe which is heavy on eggs but decided to still add cashew nuts to my cake. And further in my quest for really making this a healthful cake I also added another of my favorite (and secret) healthy ingredient …yeah you got it …beet puree! 🙂 I had made Beet Red Velvet Cup Cakes once before so I was confident that it would be all good! And I wasn’t wrong. I also replaced part of the flour with whole wheat flour. But I also wanted to make this a really decadent cake with minimal frosting and so made a cherry and strawberry filling. A decoration with fresh fruits sealed the healthful deal.

DSC_1419Pleased to report that hubby and the kids were bowled over by both the beauty and the decadence of this vegan beauty. See, it’s possible to make a healthy cake and eat devour it too 🙂 Happy Valentine’s day to you and ‘yours only’. Much Love to you all!

DSC_1430I am bringing this healthy and delicious ‘Chocolate Love Cake’ (yes I think ‘love cake is a perfect way to describe this beauty) this week to Throwback Thursdays as well as Fiesta Friday.  Lily at the Littlesweetbaker  and Julianna from Foodie on Board are co-hosting FF this week. What fun!

Chocolate Love Cake (Vegan Chocolate Cake with a berry filling)

  • Servings: Makes about 8-10 servings
  • Time: about 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Adapted from the Basic Vegan cake recipe from Sweetlittlebluebird

Ingredients:

For the chocolate Cake:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup beet puree (beets cooked and then pureed with very little water to get a thick puree)
1/4 cup cashew nut (powdered in a food processor)

For the berry filling:

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp sugar

1 cup mixed frozen or fresh cherries and strawberries

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

For the frosting:

6 oz bar, semi sweet baking chocolate (vegan), chopped into pieces

1/2 cup soy whipping cream / soy creamer

Method:

Pre heat oven to 350 deg F(180 deg C). Mix all the dry ingredients-flours, baking soda,salt,cocoa and sugar in a parchment paper/tray.

In a large mixing bowl add the water, oil,vinegar and vanilla. Add the above dry ingredients to this and mix using an electric mixer.  Add the beet puree and the cashew nut powder. Mix till well blended and you get a smooth mixture.

Pour into 2 greased heart shaped pans. Bake at 350deg F (or 180 deg C) for about 20 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cakes from oven and let cool.

For the filling:

In a small pot, add the water,sugar and the berries and heat on low to medium heat until the berries are all mashed through. Mix the corn starch in the 2 tbsp water to form a slurry and pour into the berry mixture and stir quickly to form a jelly like texture. Put the heat off and keep aside to cool.

For the frosting:

In a microwave safe bowl, add the soy creamer and heat in microwave for about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate shavings/pieces and stir to completely melt the chocolate. Heat further(20-30 seconds more) if needed. You will get a chocolate ganache. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Assembling the cake:

First arrange one of the heart shaped pieces on the cake tray. Top with the berry filling.  Top with the second cake. Frost with the chocolate ganache. Decorate with fresh fruits.

Notes:

Oven times may vary depending upon pan used. So keep checking early on to see doneness of cakes. If you overcook cake, cakes will dry and will not be moist. You can brush cakes with a simple sugar syrup after they are baked to make them extra moist.

 

Healthy Chocolate Cake (Vegan)DSC_0876

Semolina Almond Halwa (Vegan Sooji Halwa)


DSC_0515One always hear about folks talking about middle of the night cravings. But what about middle of the day cravings? And that too when you are in the middle of work? Well that does not usually happen to me but of late its been happening. I think its because of the different diet restrictions that I have been following. In general my philosophy has always been to cook fresh, use natural and exercise moderation. But being desperate to find a way to alleviate my RA symptoms, I have been trying different restrictions. I had been on a gluten free, dairy free diet and have also been excluding some inflammatory foods like tomatoes, eggplants etc. for the past 10 weeks. But a couple weeks back I decided to add gluten back since I was n’t seeing any benefits. Maybe I didn’t try it long enough. Anyways, my symptoms didn’t get worse after adding it back on so I am guessing i am probably not sensitive to gluten. Anyway long story short, I started getting a craving for sooji ka halwa in the middle of the day earlier this week. Yes a craving for sooji ka halwa exactly. (Good thing I didn’t text my husband as he would have panicked wondering if I was pregnant 🙂 ) My reasoning for this weird craving was that a few weeks ago at a party there was halwa that I could not eat due to my above mentioned restrictions.

So now I was determined to rectify that. I dashed to the kitchen (so thankful to be working from home – it has its benefits for sure! ). Got the almond milk out first and then the rest of the ingredients that I would need. Within 15 minutes halwa – or to be more precise, a ‘dairy free version’ of halwa was ready. I am not kidding. This is what craving can do to you! I added ground almonds and almond milk to get the richness that typically comes from ghee and milk.

Yummy Halwa. Craving abated. Nirvana.

Semolina Almond Halwa (Vegan Sooji Halwa)

  • Servings: Serves 2-3
  • Time: About 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

1/2 cup semolina (sooji or rava)

1/2 cup ground almonds (coarsely ground)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup sugar (I used cane sugar)

pinch salt

1 1/2 cups almond milk

cardamom powder 1/2 tsp (optional)

Method:

In a medium size kadai, roast the semolina(sooji) on a low flame for about 5-6 minutes till you get golden brown color stirring frequently to avoid any burning.

Add the ground almonds, sugar, salt and oil to this and stir again to mix everything together. Warm the almond milk in the microwave for 1 minute. Add this to the kadai and immediately stir again continuously till the almond milk gets incorporated fully into the semolina and it is cooked fully – about 4-5 minutes. Add the cardamom powder (if adding) and mix. Put the heat off and serve halwa in small bowls garnishing with slivered almonds.

Notes:

I like to use less sugar in my desserts but if you like yours really sweet you may need to add more sugar.

Add extra almond milk or hot water if you want your halwa to be very moist.


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Vegan Sooji Halwa