My Thankfulness Note and a Recipe for Pumpkin Donut holes (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)

OK so this is going to be a long post. If you would just like the recipe, scroll to the bottom!

Thanksgiving is one festival which I really look forward to! I think I like it even better than Christmas. Of course the food is one big attraction. However, more important than that is the fact that it forces you to look back, reflect and urges you to be thankful. As they say ‘There is always something to be thankful for’ and what a true statement that is!

For me personally this past year has given me many things to be thankful about. Last November, my RA was at its worst since my diagnosis in 2015.  I had tried medications first only to give them up a few months later because of terrible side effects. Then I tried naturopathy, ayurveda and homeopathy.  But nothing helped and last November I found myself in front of a new rheumatologist. Reviewing my blood test reports and by examining my joints, he suggested that I go on Rituxan infusions. Rituxan is a very potent chemo drug that is also used to treat RA but can cause serious, even potentially fatal, side effects. Being a pharmacist, I knew about this and so asked the doctor if he could prescribe something else instead and suggested a combination of meds instead. He reluctantly agreed but did not paint an encouraging picture for me.

I did not want to accept the doctor’s prognosis of my disease and decided to think positive. I kept searching the internet for stories of individuals who had turned their RA and other autoimmune diseases around by diet and lifestyle change.  I found myself a new naturopath who introduced me to the AIP diet. I started on both- the meds as well as the diet in December of last year. And I prayed. A lot.  I wrote down a list of all the things/tasks that I was not able to do then. And then on top of the list I wrote : I will get back to doing these things again…I know I will. The top 3 items on the list were :

  1. Snuggle playfully with my kids in bed
  2. Climb up and down the stairs freely without pain or fatigue
  3. Wear a jacket easily without my shoulders hurting

I prayed with a faith that I never had before. Reading the Bible regularly with a friend helped me to get into that frame of mind. I did not allow for negative and depressive thoughts to linger on my mind. I kept telling myself that I refuse to accept this pain and disability and will do whatever it takes to get better.  Doing the AIP diet was one of the ‘whatever it takes’!  It was tough to be on AIP.  I was already gluten free , dairy free and legume free by then. But on AIP I had to give up my beloved rice too! And that was tough. The first month was very, very hard. But I persisted. The desire to get better was so overpowering that I was willing to do anything. Yes, whatever it takes.

My naturopath also asked me to exercise which was again tough to begin with. My knees and shoulders were so painful and sore that even just climbing onto the elliptical was tough. But I did it in baby steps. The first few days I went to the gym and just sat on the stationary bike and eyed the elliptical building up my mental stamina. And finally one day I had the courage to try it. Slowly with each passing day I got better and I did more and more.

If you have been reading my posts this past year, you would have seen how these changes along with my decision to quit my job early on this year helped me to get better.  Last month my blood reports were all in the normal range. Of course I am still on meds but my rheumatologist is also surprised at my recovery. So there is something to be said about holistic healing. I am able to do more than half of the things on my wish list now. And I am hopeful that very soon I will be able to do all of them.

So you see, I have so much to be thankful for.  I thank the Lord for making me change my perspective – to go from being depressed and full of self-pity to feeling overwhelmingly positive. I am thankful for having the support of my wonderful family – my loving husband, children, sisters and dad. Also my close friends who made me retain my sanity in those difficult times. Most importantly, I am so thankful that I no longer have to balk away when my daughter comes running up to me to give me a tight hug! God, I am so, so thankful.

OK so now for these pumpkin donut holes that are completely grain free and dairy free. So I make these regular pumpkin munchkins for my munchkins and thought why don’t I try making these with coconut flour? Was fairly easy to make the dough. But then as soon as I put them in hot oil to deep fry, guess what? Oh no!.. they totally disintegrated! Yes completely! I almost gave up on having any pumpkin munchkins for myself but decided to bake these using my mini muffin / cake pop pans.

Boy, was I glad I did that! These babies amazingly resisted breaking apart when inside those tiny moulds and came out perfect. They are still quite soft to handle but hey, they are absolutely delicious!

So this recipe is another thing to be thankful for this year! And what better than to share with all of you guys!

Psalm 107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Sharing this post at the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable hosted by Phoenix Helix.

Pumpkin Donut holes (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Paleo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Delicious and soft grain free and dairy free pumpkin donut holes baked in mini muffin pans
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup thick pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice (use ¼ tsp cinnamon powder for AIP)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • coconut sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Add the melted coconut oil, coconut sugar and the pumpkin puree into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking soda, salt and the pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon powder). Mix well.
  3. Then slowly add the coconut flour little by little till you can form a dough.
  4. Divide the dough into small balls - about 11-12.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 deg F (180 deg C). Place the balls onto the mini muffin or cake pop pans.
  6. Bake for 10 mins. Then flip the donut holes gently and bake for another 4-5 mins.
  7. Take pans out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Roll the donut holes gently over coconut sugar.
Notes
These donut holes have to be baked in a mini muffin or a cake pop pan. Deep frying these will not work as they will disintegrate completely.

 

Tandoori Chicken || Indian Style Baked Chicken (Paleo)

If you like Indian food and like chicken then I can bet that you would have definitely tasted Tandoori Chicken:) If not, then you need to immediately rectify that!  Tandoori Chicken probably helped popularize Indian cuisine in the rest of the world. And Chicken tikka masala where this tandoor baked chicken is dunked in a delicious creamy tomato gravy is every ‘curry’ and ‘chicken lovers’ dream curry.

I have made Tandoori style chicken numerous times over the years although I had never posted a recipe until now. I did post a Nepalese version of Tandoori Chicken sometime back which has tomato in the marinade.  Usually I would just make Tandoori chicken by making a marinade in yoghurt with ginger, garlic, some coriander, cumin, cayenne and garam masala.  I believe cumin and the ginger-garlic paste is what gives a Tandoori chicken its unique flavor.  The chicken is nice and slightly crispy on the outside while really really moist and succulent on the inside. And it is just oozing with flavor!

Of late since I avoid dairy on my Paleo diet, I have been omitting yoghurt. And I have been using lemon juice instead to impart acidity to tenderize the meat.  That works pretty great too. So last week as I was making a new batch, I remembered to take the pics and note down ingredients so I could post this recipe! The longer you marinate the chicken, the tastier your tandoori chicken will be! Also, tandoori chicken has a special flavor because it is baked in a tandoor (clay oven). So in my version, I tried to get a smokey flavor by broiling the chicken for a couple mins in the end.

The tandoori chicken tastes great with some plain white rice and dal (lentil curry). That’s how my family enjoys them.  I either eat them with a salad on the side or make Chicken tacos using my homemade cassava tortillas. So so yum!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tandoori Chicken || Indian Style Baked Chicken (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Appetizer
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Chicken thigh pieces marinated in lemon juice and a blend of indian spices like cumin and garam masala and baked in an oven to get delicious baked chicken bursting with flavor
Ingredients
  • 1½ lb chicken thigh pieces
For the marinade:
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 2 inch by 1 inch long piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Extra Olive Oil for brushing on top
Instructions
  1. Clean the chicken pieces and cut into large pieces. Dab the chicken pieces using paper towels to remove moisture. Make light gashes on the chicken pieces so that the marinade can seep in.
  2. Mix all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and using your hands coat each piece generously with the marinade. Let the chicken pieces sit in marinade for at least 1 hour. Or up to 8-10 hours. (Transfer chicken to fridge if marinating for more than 1 hour)
  4. When ready to bake the chicken, pre heat oven to 450 deg F (220 deg C).
  5. Line a baking tray with Al foil and brush with oil. Lay the chicken pieces on the baking sheet. Bake at 450 F for 25 mins.
  6. Take out tray and brush with oil and flip the chicken pieces and bake for another 15-20 mins until both sides are well cooked.
  7. Remove tray from oven and turn oven to broil setting. Now place tray on top rack for 2-3 mins until there are slightly blackened smoked spots on each of the chicken pieces.
  8. Take tray out of the oven and cover the tray with Al foil until serving.
  9. Serve tandoori chicken with lemon wedges and sliced red onions!
Notes
I use Kashmiri chilli powder since it is mild as well as it gives great color. You could also substitute smoked paprika to get a good color!
You could also grill this chicken on an outdoor grill. If you add charcoal that would give them a really good flavor!

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies || Coconut flour Brownies (Paleo)

 

  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 🙂

The below recipe is adapted from ‘Paleo Chocolate Brownies’ from Empowered Sustenance.

Better Body Foods - coconut Flour

4.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snacks
Cuisine: American, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A delicious and moist brownie made with coconut flour, cocoa and pumpkin puree and topped with dairy free chocolate chips
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat using a hand-held electric blender. (You could use a stand mixer too).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Notes
Check for doneness beginning at 18 mins since you don't want to overbake them.

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Pumpkin Banana Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)

Finally we can say that fall has arrived in New England. This year the weather has been highly unusual with us seeing really high temperatures even in September. I bet that confused the trees and they forgot that their leaves needed to change color 🙂 I had been quite disappointed until now since the lovely and spectacular foliage that we usually are so blessed to witness, was not to be seen.

But that was until last week and now this week suddenly we started seeing colors everywhere. All of a sudden, driving the kids around town for their activities seems so pleasurable! I will occasionally also stop the car and take pictures, which results in the kids letting out sighs and protests 🙂 But I don’t care – I have got to get those pics!

After fall photography, fall baking was next on my list. My neighbor gave us a giant pumpkin that they grew in their backyard! It was so huge that I had to ask my husband’s help to cut into 4 pieces which then I roasted in the oven to get the puree. I also reserved the seeds as I normally do and toasted them too. Read my post on how to roast a pumpkin and on how to toast the seeds here.

I usually bake a pumpkin bread which is always loved by the kids.  This year I wanted to try and make a healthier version and so I searched for paleo versions of pumpkin bread. I found a recipe that looked good from ‘DoyouevenPaleo’ – Paleo Pumpkin Banana bread. I liked that since I had a very ripe banana that I wanted to use 🙂 But that recipe had almond flour and since I did not have that, I wanted to try making it using coconut flour. So I modified the recipe and tried it using coconut flour also adding some coconut oil to ensure the cake came out moist and not dry.  I added some walnuts for crunch factor since my husband loves nuts. But you can easily omit that and make this a nut free cake. Since I am writing this post, you can see that my experiment was a success! The kids and my husband said it was delicious. Since it has eggs, I did not try it – I am wary of reintroducing eggs. Perhaps next year! Anyways, glad the recipe turned out good. So now I can make this regularly for the kids since I have about 6 packs of pumpkin puree in the freezer!

Pumpkin Banana Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Fusion, Paleo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
 
A scrumptious and healthy version of Pumpkin bread that is grain free, dairy free and refined sugar free, made using coconut flour
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ cup walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, mashed banana, eggs, maple syrup, and mix until smooth using an electric mixer (or you can use a stand mixer). Add the coconut flour, tapioca flour, coconut oil, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix using mixer to blend well together. Add the walnuts and mix gently.
  3. Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Notes
You can omit the walnuts and keep this cake totally nut free.

 

Tuna masala cakes with a coconut crust (Gluten Free, Whole30, Egg Free)

  I have made a lot of different type of patties. In India we also liked to call them cutlets. Vegetable cutlets, Chicken cutlets, Shrimp cutlets and Beef Cutlets.  They all have almost a similar base – mashed potatoes, onions, garlic, some spices and then dipped in egg wash and coated with bread crumbs. Shallow fried to get a crispy crust and a soft inside. Ooh my mouth is watering!

Now that I am on a grain free and egg free diet, the above recipe wasn’t going to be of much use to me. But if you know me, you will know that I don’t give up that easily! A few months ago, I made Beef Cutlets that were grain free and egg free by using tapioca flour and shredded coconut. And since then I had been using this technique for a lot of other things – Crispy Calamari being another such recipe.

Tuna had been on my mind for the longest time. But somehow never got around to making Tuna cutlets until now.  Last week I finally rectified that. And I am SO GLAD I decided to make these Tuna cutlets. OMG! These are I think the best patties/cutlets/cakes of all the different ones that I have made over the years. These are to die for! Seriously, I made a small batch of 6 cutlets and I ate almost 4 in one sitting!

Then I felt guilty and so made another batch the next day so I could share with the family and the kids absolutely loved it too! The crispy coating imparted by the shredded coconut and the soft interior with the shredded tuna mixed with just the right amount of spices, makes eating these cakes an incredibly delightful experience that every foodie needs to indulge in! Now I did add potatoes to this and so this is not Paleo. However, you could easily sub mashed yucca for potatoes in this same recipe. As for me, I LOVE potatoes and although I limit the quantity of starch I have, once a week I do like to cook something with potatoes in it. (actually it ends up being chicken and potato curry almost every week:) )

Tuna Masala Cakes with a coconut crust (Gluten Free, Whole30, Egg Free)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Fusion, American, Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Scrumptious tuna and potato cakes mildly spiced with Indian spices with a crispy coconut coating
Ingredients
  • 2 cans 4.5 oz each of shredded tuna (in water or olive oil - I prefer olive oil)
  • 2 small or 1 medium size boiled potatoes (about 1 cup when mashed)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ of a red onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2-3 fresh curry leaves(optional)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or a pinch of cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp sea salt or as needed
For the crust:
  • 2 tbsp cassava flour(see Notes)
  • pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp water
  • about 1 cup dry shredded coconut (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • Coconut Oil for shallow frying
Instructions
  1. Drain the water or the oil from the can of tuna and add the tuna to a large mixing bowl. Peel the potatoes and mash them well. Add to the bowl with the tuna. Keep aside.
  2. In a small pan, add the coconut oil and the onion. Saute for about 2 mins and then add the chopped garlic and the grated ginger and the curry leaves )if adding). Saute for another 1 min. Lower heat and add all the spices. Sir well for 30 secs and turn heat off.
  3. Add this onion and spices mixture to the bowl with the tuna and potatoes. Sprinkle the sea salt on this mixture (before adding salt make sure tuna is not very salty and accordingly lower amount of salt if needed). Now using a masher or your hands mix everything well to incorporate the onion and spices with the potatoes and tuna. The mixture should resemble a dough like consistency at this point.
  4. Shape into about 6-8 patties (depending upon size of patty). Keep patties aside.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, add the cassava flour and water and mix to get a batter. Keep this aside.
  6. In a plate, add the shredded coconut.
  7. Heat a frying pan with a layer of coconut oil (just enough for shallow frying)
  8. When the oil gets hot, turn heat to medium and then dip each patty into the cassava batter coating it fully with batter and then dip it in the plate with the shredded coconut to get he coconut coating. Place the patty on the pan. Repeat similarly for all the patties.
  9. Cook each patty for about 2 mins on one side until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve warm!
Notes
For a Paleo version, substitute mashed yucca in place of potatoes. For AIP version, in addition to using mashed yucca, omit cayenne pepper, cumin and garam masala and replace with cinnamon powder. You can use tapioca flour instead of cassava flour in this recipe but you may need to add a bit more water to get a slurry.