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!

 

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

  

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

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Since my recent post on smoothies, many folks have continued to ask me for ideas on different combinations of veggies and fruits that I use. And so I thought of creating a new post for every smoothie that turns out to be really spectacular!  When it comes to food (and drinks), I always love to experiment! That breaks up the monotony – of both – the task of cooking/making it as well as eating/drinking it!  So every morning as I slide into my kitchen and get the blender out, I mentally survey all the fresh fruits I have on hand and the ones in the freezer and go about trying new combinations. One thing I like to do is to pair fruits with similar colors together – this gives a great color impact.  And that’s what I decided to do the other morning. I have also decided to make it a point to add at least one vegetable to my morning smoothie so that it becomes extra nutritious!

So I decided to go with carrots this time. Papayas seem to be a perfect pairing with the carrots in terms of the color. And then banana and avocado for the creaminess! Yum.  As I started making it, I thought of ‘Carrot cake’ and so decided to add some spice to it – a bit of fresh ginger and then pumpkin spice!  I also had a bot of coconut cream left so I added that too towards the end but even without that the smoothie came out absolutely delicious! Such a beautiful and colorful way to start the day 🙂

Linking this healthy smoothie recipe to Plant-Based Potluck Party Link Up and Saucy Saturday

Carrot Cake Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: International
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
A delicious blend of carrots with papaya,banana and avocado with a dash of coconut cream and spiced with ginger and pumpkin pie spice
Ingredients
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup ripe papaya, chopped
  • ½ of a ripe avocado
  • ½ of a banana
  • about a ½ inch by ½ inch piece of fresh ginger (or 1 tsp dry ginger powder)
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or all spice)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk (or coconut cram) - optional
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a high power blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a tall serving glass.

Happy Diwali!: Chocolate Nut Burfi (Vegan, Sugar free)


dsc_0609With Diwali just being around the corner….it falls on Oct 30th this year,  it is going to coincide with Halloween and we know what that means, right? Yes, just sugar overload! The traditional Diwali sweets mostly all require dairy and tons of sugar.  Oh boy!

This past year has been one where I have spent tons of hours doing research on what constitutes a healthy diet.  And I am still continuing with my dietary experiments on myself and continue to remain confused about a lot of things – meaning what is good for you vs what is bad for you. One reason for my confusion is that some diets seem to work on some folks but do not seem to work as well on other folks. One thing, however, is crystal clear and that is this – that sugar is one thing that is absolutely not good for anyone. Period. Especially white sugar.  Hence I am going to do my part to treat myself and my family in a healthy way for Diwali this year by cutting down on the sugary sweets.

dsc_0607And thus the genesis of this decadent chocolatey burfi.  Burfis are in general made with lot of milk and sugar.  But I substituted nuts for the milk and added dates for sweetness. Now how could I make them irresistible? Easy! Just add cocoa 🙂 I had to do some trial batches before getting the perfect texture.  Yum o Yum. Have your burfi guilt free this Diwali. It is actually so good for you! Loaded with the goodness of nuts and dates. Pure, decadent and heavenly! Happy Diwali to you and your family! May this Diwali usher in good health, peace and prosperity in your homes.

Chocolate Nut Burfi (Vegan, Sugar free)

  • Servings: Makes 20 pieces
  • Time: about 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 16-18 dates (pitted)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 cup whole walnuts
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • extra whole walnuts for decorating

Method:

In a food processor, powder the almonds and the walnuts in batches such that there are no big pieces. The powder will be coarse.(Do not over powder since the nuts will turn into butter)

In a small cooking pot, boil the water and the dates together for about 2-3 minutes. Turn heat off.  Cool for 5 minutes and then puree the dates along with the water until you get a creamy texture.

Take a large mixing bowl and add the powdered nuts. To that add the date mixture and the cocoa powder and the cardamom powder.

Using your hands, mix everything thoroughly to form a well-blended dough.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and dump this mixture onto it.  Using a cup dabbed with coconut or olive oil on the surface, press the dough lightly to fit into the square pan. Place walnuts on top and place the pan in the refrigerator for a few hours(at least 2 hours) to set.

Take pan out of the refrigerator and make slits on the dough to form square pieces.

Note:

To make this buffi sweeter, you can either increase the amount of dates or add a bit of powdered jaggery into the date water mixture.

 

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