Ooh..its December! I cannot believe it. How did we roll into December suddenly? Weren’t we enjoying summer just a few weeks back! Well at least it seemed like a few weeks back! And wait, it just seems like a few months ago that we welcomed 2017! And now you are telling me that we are ready to usher in 2018? The fact that 2017 went by so quickly seems especially strange to me since I quit my job in Feb 2017 and at that time (very naively I guess) thought that the year will pass by relatively slowly now that I did not need to juggle 101 things on one day! I guess I was wrong about that one! I mean I still ended up juggling 101 things -Hmm..maybe not 101 but 99 for sure 🙂
Oh boy, and that brings us into wintery world with cold, icy spells, snowy blizzards and worst of all ‘darkness at 4’ evenings to look forward to!. I hate that the most. I mean why do they have to pull back the clock? At least give us 1 more hour of brightness during the day! Is that so much to ask for!
OK OK …So all this only means one thing. There will be lots and lots of soup nights in the K household! Having the Instant Pot makes it even easier! Since you put everything that you fancy into the pot, start the timer and go your merry way…which for me means straight back under my blanket 🙂 And when the Mr and kiddos are ready, we will unplug the Pot and have our dinner. Some ‘deli bought’ fresh dinner rolls for them while I dive into a double large bowl for myself! My grain free diet is a good enough excuse for me to indulge shamelessly!
And one of our all time favorite soups is ‘Chicken noodle’. The ultimate in comfort food! And now finally I have a Paleo version of this soup! Dried Sweet Potato noodles to the rescue – TADA! If you read my post on Korean Style sweet potato noodles you will be familiar with these noodles. These are made from sweet potato starch and when you cook them they appear translucent and glassy. They are a little slimier than your regular flour noodles but they taste great. And I am really fortunate that my kids love them too. So I substitute these noodles for the flour noodles, add lots of veggies, some ginger, lots of sea salt, hardly any spices and you get this bowl of comfort that you do not want to share with anybody else!
Last time when I made this, I threw in a whole bunch of spinach towards the end and so we ended up having a green chicken noodle soup! No one cared or complained about the color. They were too busy slurping away! Seriously, guys this soup was so delicious and there are no spices in it! 100% AIP Compliant!
Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode. Add the oil. Let heat for 1 min and then add the onions, celery, and carrots. Stir fry for 2 mins. Then add the salt, ginger and garlic (if adding). Stir for another 30 secs. Then add the chicken pieces and the water. Close the lid on the Instant Pot and set vale to sealing position. Press Pressure Cook button and set time to 10 mins. Release steam carefully and once the valve goes all the way down, open the lid. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces into a bowl. Let cool for a few mins and then shred the chicken pieces using your hands.
Add the chicken pieces back into the Instant Pot along with the noodles and the spinach and the parsley (if adding). Place lid and pressure cook again for 2 mins. Release pressure carefully and open the pot. Stir to mix spinach well into the soup, add freshly ground pepper(if adding) as needed and check for seasoning and serve soup warm!
Heat a large cooking pot with the oil. Let heat for 1 min and then add the onions, celery, and carrots. Stir fry for 2 mins. Then add the salt, ginger and garlic (if adding). Stir for another 30 secs. Then add the chicken pieces and the water. Cover the pot (leaving a small vent open) on low heat for 20 mins.
Turn heat off and open pot and transfer chicken pieces to a bowl. Keep aside to cool and then shred the chicken pieces.
Meanwhile, heat another large cooking pot with water. When it starts boiling, add the noodles to it and let cook for about 4 mins on medium heat. Then drain the noodles carefully using a large strainer. Rinse the noodles once with cold water.
Add the noodles to the soup pot along with the shredded chicken pieces and the spinach and the parsley (if adding). Cook on low simmer uncovered for 2 mins until the spinach gets cooked. Turn heat off and add freshly ground pepper (if adding)as needed and check for seasoning. Serve warm!
I have suggested using between 3/4 lbs to 1 lbs of chicken since the quantity of chicken is flexible - if you want more protein in your soup, you can add more chicken and vice-versa. This soup is really very forgiving - whatever way you do it, it will come out good!
While cooking on stove top, I recommend cooking the noodles separately since that is the best way to cook them - Rinsing once with cold water makes them a little less slimy.
Hey its Thanksgiving, people!. Cranberries need to be on the menu! Honestly speaking, cranberry sauce has never been my thing. I think all that sugar that goes in it is what puts me off. Because I really love cranberries – I really do! And like to use them in a lot of my curries! I make cranberry rasam often. And for the past two years, I became even more close to cranberries since I have been avoiding tomatoes. I find cranberries to be a perfect substitute for tomatoes in my indian curries and stews. In fact it is a perfect substitute for tamarind also which is another pantry item that I have stopped using now. So cranberries have been my ‘go to’ and pretty reliable friend 🙂
Now this cranberry and cherry sauce has been on my mind for the longest of times. I have been wanting to make a sugar free cranberry sauce and once when I was making a smoothie with cherries, this thought came to mind. I thought of combining it with cherries to balance the tartness with the sweetness of the cherries. And that did seem like a wonderful idea considering both cranberries and cherries are so high on nutrients. The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure 1. And cherries are not far behind with their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer prevention properties2.
So my idea of combining cranberries and cherries seems like a perfect marriage made in heaven right? Well, my inclinations were certainly right. The combined flavor is a perfect balance of tart and sweet and the Indian in me couldn’t resist adding cayenne pepper and garlic for an additional kick:) I started by roasting the berries and the garlic and throwing them in a blender to make a smooth sauce. Then just a little bit simmering with some cayenne and fresh herbs – cilantro and curry. And a final tempering of mustard seeds in coconut oil! Yum!
It tastes fabulous as is and I can only imagine how good it would taste with roast chicken or turkey! I cannot wait to bring it to our Thanksgiving dinner! This will be a great dip for crackers and plenty of other savory stuff!.
Cranberry and Cherry Sauce || Cranberry and Cherry Chutney (Paleo, Vegan, AIP)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
A smooth, sweet and tangy sauce made with cranberries and cherries and infused with cayenne and fresh herbs like cilantro and curry leaves!
1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup cherries (fresh or frozen)
2 large cloves of garlic with skin on
About 3/4 cup water
About 3/4 tsp sea salt or per taste
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or kashmiri chilli powder (per heat level desired; omit for AIP)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped
4-5 fresh curry leaves
For the tempering (omit for AIP):
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
Preheat oven to 400 deg F (200 deg C).
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the cranberries, cherries and the whole garlic cloves with skin on it. Bake at 400 deg F (200 C) for about 13-15 mins until the berries are roasted - dark skin on top. Peel the skin of the garlic away.
In a food processor or blender, blend the cranberries, cherries and the garlic cloves with some amount of water to form a thick smooth paste. Then add the rest of the water and blend again. Pour this blend into a cooking pot.
Place pot on low heat and add the salt, cayenne (if adding) and stir well. Let simmer for 5 mins on low.
Then add the fresh cilantro and curry leaves and let simmer for another couple mins and turn heat off.
For the tempering, in a small pan, add the coconut oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds. When they splutter add the fenugreek seeds. Continue heating on low until the fenugreek seeds all turn brown and turn heat off. Pour this oil garnish on top of the cranberry cherry sauce.
I can’t believe I am going to be completing one year on Paleo in another two weeks! When I first started on Paleo and that too with AIP in December of last year, I was very apprehensive about how long I could last without eating rice. Rice had been a staple for me – at least one meal a day for all my life! Considering my initial trepidation, I guess I did great! I was on strict AIP for only 4 weeks and after that I slowly started reintroducing spices. The ‘Indian’ in me was learning to live without rice but she definitely needed her spice! With my vast repertoire of Indian curries that use spices in varying proportions, with each blend having its own distinctive flavor, how could I stay away?
I however use very less quantity of spices than what a traditional indian curry might call for. But I definitely needed them! And as long as I could go back to my curries, albeit less spiced versions of them, I was good. And then began a quest for making some kind of bread with which I could sop up all the delicious curries! Cassava flour to the rescue and I started making cassava rotis/parathas/tortillas and was one happy mama!
Now only one thing remained. I needed something substantial for breakfast since I do not like to eat meat for breakfast. I don’t know why …perhaps just because I never did that before. And since eggs and oats were out too, I was left with very slim options. So even large bowls of smoothies couldn’t satisfy my appetite for breakfast. And that’s when I started making lots of other sides to go with the smoothies – plantains – boiled and pan fried, boiled sweet potato, mashed sweet potato, yucca mash etc etc. And then I rediscovered tapioca pearls and started making tapioca pearl pudding, tapioca sweet potato savory hash etc etc. If you check my instagram page, you can see all my creations there!
And finally last month I came up with this sweet potato and tapioca pearls pancake. In India, there is a similar recipe for a savory pancake where potatoes are used instead of sweet potatoes. So I decided to swap the potato with the sweet potato and tried different variations of the recipe to come up with something that was absolutely perfect for me. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. A slight drizzle of maple syrup or honey is all you need to make your breakfast perfect!
This pancake recipe is unlike other regular pancakes where you have a flowing batter. Here you get a dough and then you need to pat the dough carefully between plastic or parchment sheets to make a pancake shape. I have attached step wise pics so you can see the consistency of the dough as well as the detailed steps. Believe me, its not too hard once you get the hang of it. I make it literally every other day! This recipe below makes 5-6 pancakes which is like 2 servings.
Hope you try this and let me know how you like it!
I wonder who discovered brownies and whether it was an accidental discovery? Was it a cake batter not rising adequately or a cookie batter becoming a bit runny? Well, we will never know for sure. But when I googled this question, it seems that in 1906, a cookbook author, Fanny Farmer adapted her chocolate cookie recipe to a bar cookie baked in a rectangular pan and this was published in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook1. Well, whoever discovered this cross between a cookie and a cake, definitely raised the bar (pun intended 🙂 ) on ‘snacking’ ! Can you imagine what kids’ school events, bake sales, other fund raising events and office parties would be without the ‘much coveted brownies’ ?
When I see folks going for the boxed brownie mix, it really saddens me! Ugh! I have a funny recipe related to this. So my very first month at work here in the US (many many moons ago :)), our departmental assistant baked these delicious brownies that were so perfect – a bit dense from outside but when you bit into it they were really gooey and so chocolatey. I was impressed. That was my first time eating a brownie ever! (yeah since in the late 1990s until I left India, brownies were not available there, alas!). Since I loved baking, I immediately asked this assistant if she would share her recipe with me. She just looked at me and said ‘Oh I just add 3 eggs instead of two’. I felt a little surprised by that response but more than that I felt embarrassed in front of my other colleagues that I wasn’t even aware of the general brownie recipe which everyone seemed to know about! Well, it was only later that a friend told me that most folks generally use a boxed mix! what a tragedy! What is funny is that I don’t even think that using the boxed mix saves any time! So why add a few dozen chemicals into your body unnecessarily?
Anyways, sorry for that detour there! Getting back to homemade brownies, I have a few recipes that I have regularly used in the past. And then in the past couple years, I have been trying to bake healthier versions of brownies. One of them is the Black Bean Brownies. My kids absolutely love this one. So of late I have been meaning to try paleo brownies and I had pinned a few recipes. Finally this past weekend I got a chance as we were having a get together with our friends and I had signed up to bring dessert! So I chose a recipe that used coconut flour instead of almond flour since one of the kids was allergic to nuts. As I began ready to bake, I realized that I was out of maple syrup and so I replaced maple syrup with coconut sugar. And then as I was wondering if the consistency of the brownie would get affected because of this change, my oven timer went off and I realized that I had just finished roasting a pumpkin. So you can guess what happened next! Yes, some pumpkin puree went into my brownie batter 🙂
Pleased to report that four kids cleaned up this batch in a matter of minutes! And since I knew what went in these delicious and moist brownies, I did not mind it all 🙂
A delicious and moist brownie made with coconut flour, cocoa and pumpkin puree and topped with dairy free chocolate chips
½ cup minus 2 tbsp coconut flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
3 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup thick pumpkin puree, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup dairy free chocolate chips(optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (180 deg C) and grease a 8 by 8 in baking dish using coconut oil. Line with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat using a hand-held electric blender. (You could use a stand mixer too).
Add the coconut flour, cocoa, coconut sugar and the melted coconut oil. Continue mixing and then add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, salt and baking soda. Mix till well blended. The mix will be a bit thick and not too runny which is ok.
Dump mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top if adding. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares.
Check for doneness beginning at 18 mins since you don't want to overbake them.
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DISCLOSURE: This recipe post may contain one or more affiliate links. Sometimes when you click a product link on this blog , it’s an affiliate link. This means that if you decide to buy the product, I get a small commission. Your price stays the same, but your purchase helps to support this blog.
Rush Offer!: I made this soup in my new Instant Pot. Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Qt is now available at amazon for $74.95 for a limited time!
Fall always brings a sense of contentment in me. The vibrant colors makes you want to go for leisurely walks trying to soak in all that beauty. The change in weather makes me want to snuggle in blankets all day long and plan for the imminent holiday season. This year has been a particularly relaxing year for me after I decided to quit my job early in January. I took this hard decision with careful thought and reasoning and my desire to get my RA under control was the influencing factor in this decision. Stress is a trigger and an aggravator for most autoimmune diseases and I am fairly convinced that the stressful work environment that I was in for the last few years was one of the factors responsible for the sudden onset of my RA two years ago.
So it was time to take care of myself after being 100% focused on only the needs of the children and the family for the past 18 years. And let me tell you – this was long, long overdue. A lot of times, we, especially women become such ‘busy’ beings that we don’t even realize that we have become machines, working like clock work. I didn’t realize when I made the decision to quit that it would have such a profound impact on my health and well being. I quit because I felt I could not do both the things – do the job as well as take care of myself. Now I feel…. ‘liberated’. I am so thankful to God for being able to take this break. I can indeed vouch for the fact that lifestyle changes can have a profound impact on your disease and well being. I am not sure when and if I will ever get back to my previous professional life. But for now its all about taking a step back and rejoicing in all the positive things that has happened this year. I am just lazing around, enjoying the beauty and doing what I enjoy the most – cooking all day! For the past two weeks, its about warm and comforting soups and this pumpkin coconut soup is one such comforting bowl of deliciousness that makes you relax, unwind and be thankful.
Last week I roasted two large pumpkins and froze them in ziplock bags. That is what I used for this soup. To see how to roast a pumpkin, check this post of mine from before. I made this soup in the Instant Pot. I find it convenient to use the Instant Pot for soups since you can put it on and do your stuff without having to wait around. Plus it keeps the soup warm until you are ready to eat! Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Qt is available at amazon for $74.95 for a limited time!
A delicious and comforting soup made from roasted pumpkin and coconut milk mildly spiced with Indian spices like turmeric and cumin
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium size onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
4-5 fresh curry leaves
2 serrano chillies, chopped fine (optional, skip for AIP)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
2 cups water
1 cup coconut milk (organic canned or fresh home made)
1 tsp cumin powder (skip for AIP)
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Instant Pot method:
Put Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the coconut oil and then add the onions and celery. Stir on high for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and ginger and curry leaves and chillies (if adding) stir on low for 1 minute.
Next add turmeric, salt and cranberries. Stir for 30 secs. And add the pumpkin puree and water. Close the lid on the Instant Pot and set valve to sealing. Set pressure cook time to 10 mins. Release steam carefully, open the lid and add the coconut milk. Add cumin (if adding) and again pressure cook for 5 more mins. let pressure release naturally.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or use a blender/food processor to blend)
Add fresh cilantro leaves and serve warm.
Regular Pot Method:
Follow the same exact steps as above increasing initial cooking time to 20 mins.
Conventional Pressure Cooker:
Follow the same exact steps as Instant Pot.
Cranberries provide a nice flavor and tartness to this soup. I use them as a substitute for tomatoes so do not skip them. For making homemade coconut milk, check my recipe post 'How to make homemade coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut yoghurt'