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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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!
A scrumptious and healthy version of Pumpkin bread that is grain free, dairy free and refined sugar free, made using coconut flour
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)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
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.
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.
You can omit the walnuts and keep this cake totally nut 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: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Fusion, American, Indian
Scrumptious tuna and potato cakes mildly spiced with Indian spices with a crispy coconut coating
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
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.
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.
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.
Shape into about 6-8 patties (depending upon size of patty). Keep patties aside.
In a small mixing bowl, add the cassava flour and water and mix to get a batter. Keep this aside.
In a plate, add the shredded coconut.
Heat a frying pan with a layer of coconut oil (just enough for shallow frying)
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.
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!
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.
Ever since I went grain free about 9 months ago, tapioca has been my savior! Tapioca has a variety of different names in case you are confused – tapioca, yucca, cassava! Yes they are all the same root vegetable. The end product also comes in a variety of forms – fresh yucca roots, frozen yucca pieces, tapioca pearls (sabudana in hindi, also called a s sago), cassava flour, tapioca starch or tapioca flour.
And I use each of these different forms to create a multitude of dishes which enables me to not only stick to my grain free diet but also enjoy it! Tapioca pearls are a product made from fresh tapioca/yucca. In India this ingredient called as sabudana is primarily used during religious fasting periods. Sabudana Khichdi is one such popular dish.
Nowadays I have started using sabudana to make sabudaana kheer or pudding where I use coconut milk and coconut. This recipe is a variation of the tapioca pearl pudding recipe where I incorporated fruits to make it a ‘parfait’. So yum. This has become one of my regular items for breakfast now but this could easily be your dessert too!
A delicious and light parfait made with alternate layers of tapioca coconut pudding and fresh papaya and pomegranate.
½ cup tapioca pearls(sabudana or sago), soaked in water overnight (or at least for 4 hours)
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup water
1 tbsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
¼ tsp sea salt
½ cup fresh papaya pieces, chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate arils
Drain the tapioca pearls using a strainer. Wash thoroughly in running water while in strainer. Place the tapioca pearls in a medium cooking pot and add all the rest of the ingredients except the fruits.
Cook on medium heat for about 7-8 mins stirring continuously until all the pearls turn translucent. Turn heat off. Let cool for a few mins.
In a tall serving glass, layer this tapioca pudding with the fruits and serve!
You can use any combination of fruits for this recipe
Its amazing how creative you can get when you are forced to be on a restrictive diet. As a kid, ‘Kozhukkatta’ used to be the occasional sweet treat my mom would make for us. Usually she would make it as an evening snack to be had with tea. I loved these dumplings made with rice flour and filled with a sweetened coconut filling. These are incredibly delicious and are quite filling at the same time. So these would be a perfect snack for us kids coming back famished from school. I would gobble up like 5 or 6 in one sitting. My mom would also almost always make extra coconut filling and save that for me since I loved to just eat that by itself:)
For a while now I had been thinking of trying to make these Kozhukkatta using sweet potato instead of rice flour. This idea came to my mind because I saw a recipe on instagram where someone had made ravioli using sweet potato. That was inspiration and I immediately thought of making these sweet dumplings. Finally last week I got to experiment with this and luckily for me the dumplings came out successful! I used a bit of tapioca starch to help form the dough. And also used Indian sweet potatoes which are less sweet and whitish in color. And of course, I replaced the jaggery with maple syrup.
I offered these to my kiddos as they came home from school not sure if they would appreciate these. Oh boy, I need not have worried – they loved it! I had made only a small batch of about 12 and pretty soon all three of us were fighting for the last one 🙂
Sweet Potato dumplings with sweetened coconut filling (Sweet Potato Kozhukutta)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
A Paleo version of the traditional rice dumplings from Kerala using sweet potatoes and coconut
2 large sweet potatoes,boiled and peeled (Use indian or japanese white sweet potato)
about ¼ cup of tapioca flour (you can use coconut flour or rice flour too)
For the filling:
1 cup grated coconut(if using frozen, thaw it beforehand)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cardamom powder
In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed sweet potato and add the tapioca starch (or rice flour) and mix with your hands until you form a smooth dough. Keep aside.
Heat a flat bottomed pan and add the coconut to it. Cook the coconut for about 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the maple syrup and continue cooking it for another 2-3 mins stirring constantly. Add the cardamom powder and turn heat off. Keep aside and let cool for a few mins.
To make the dumplings, take a golf size ball of dough and flatten it with your hands to form a small circle. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and then pinch the edges towards the center to form a round dumpling. Repeat same process until all dumplings are made.
Steam the dumplings in a steamer basket. You can create your own steamer assembly by heating a large vessel with water and placing a strainer on top. Place the dumplings on the strainer and then cover with a lid. Steam for about 10 mins.