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.

 

Cranberry and Cherry Sauce || Cranberry and Cherry Chutney (Paleo, Vegan, AIP)

  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!.

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

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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg F (200 deg C).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Place pot on low heat and add the salt, cayenne (if adding) and stir well. Let simmer for 5 mins on low.
  5. Then add the fresh cilantro and curry leaves and let simmer for another couple mins and turn heat off.
  6. 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.
  7. Store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
https://indusinternationalkitchen.com/2017/11/cranberry-and-cherry-sauce-cranberry-and-cherry-chutney-paleo-vegan-aip.html

Happy Thanksgiving! : A Plain Pumpkin Pie


dsc_0017A Plain Pumpkin pie? Now you may wonder what is that? Well, that is what my kids wanted me to make this year. And this is how the conversation went.

‘Mom, what are you making for dessert for thanksgiving?’ And I said, ‘Pumpkin Pie’.

‘That’s awesome! You have never made a pumpkin pie, right?’ Happy Screaming followed by ‘Cheta, amma is making pumpkin pie this time!’

I go ‘Wait a minute! what did you say? That this will be my first time making pumpkin pie? How can you say that? I have been making pumpkin pie every thanksgiving!’

I glared at both my kids. Their smiling faces quickly turned red as they sensed mom’s anger.  It was more incredulity actually!  I said ‘ Don’t you remember the ‘caramel pecan pumpkin pie‘ I made last year? And the pumpkin cream cheese pie the year before that? And the 3 layer pumpkin, chocolate and cheese pie I made the year before that?’

They both looked at each other and then brilliantly in one tone “See that’s what, you never made a plain pumpkin pie – Like the one they make in our school cafeteria. ” ‘Oh I so love that pumpkin pie from school’, my daughter adds.

So that was it. Lesson learned. Nothing fancy schmancy for my kiddos. Give them plain. Give them old fashioned. And thus, this good old pumpkin pie for this thanksgiving from my ‘Betty Crocker Recipes collection’ cookbook. 🙂 Jokes apart, my kids really taught me an important lesson this thanksgiving – to always treasure the old, whether its our friends or family, since they are the best!

Happy Thanksgiving folks! Isn’t it so wonderful to be surrounded by family and friends over some great food. Thank you Lord for all the blessings you bestow upon us every single day.

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Happy Thanksgiving! : A Plain Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: Makes 8 servings
  • Time: 30 minutes preparation time and about 45 mins baking time
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter plus 1 tbsp cut into cubes (should be cold)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Method:

In  a large mixing bowl, add the flour, butter and salt.  Use your hands to mix them pressing the cold butter between your fingers to form coarse crumbs. then add the water – 1 tsp at a time until you can form a dough.   Roll dough into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Take dough out of the fridge and keep 1/4 of the dough aside.  Take the rest of the dough and roll it into a large circle and place on 10 inch’ pastry dish pressing with your fingers such that dough completely covers pastry dish.    You can use the leftover dough to form edges of the crust.  I tried this time to make leaf patterns although they didn’t turn out that great since I didn’t have a leaf shaped cutter.

Pre-heat oven to 425 deg F (210 deg C)

In a stand mixer or a mixing bowl, mix all the pie filling ingredients together until smooth and add this filling into the pie crust on the pie dish.  Bake in the oven at 425 deg F for 15 minutes.  Then take the pie out and lower oven temperature to 350 deg F.

Cover the edges of the pie with Al foil to prevent edges from browning and place pie dish back in the oven to cook for another 25-30 minutes or until a stick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Remove pie from oven and let cool before serving.

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Herbed Garlicky Baby Potatoes (Slow Cooker Potatoes)


dsc_0997 dsc_1001OK not going to babble much here.  Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  One by one the dishes are coming together.  We are celebrating as usual with our close friends – we are all a big family 🙂 So I have signed up for only a couple. But you know me, I do have to make an extra one too 🙂 And how could I not make this baby potatoes dish which was such a huge hit last year! I never got to post the recipe before. Hence this year I am determined to! Everyone needs to get a chance to taste this yummy dish – did I say baby potatoes? Yes and that too slow cooked with lots of herbs and garlic and some lemon zest. A bit of curry flavors mixed with some of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors of rosemary and thyme!  And then a final drizzle of EVOO! Need I say more!

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Herbed Garlicky Baby Potatoes (Slow Cooker Potatoes)

  • Servings: Serves 8-12 as a side dish
  • Time: 15 minutes preparation time and 4 hours cooking time
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs baby potatoes (washed thoroughly and big ones cut into two)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
3 tsp sea salt
6 green serrano chillies, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
10 large cloves of garlic
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

For topping:

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt as needed

Method:

Add the washed potatoes into the slow cooker (crockpot) along with all the other ingredients.  Place the lid and cook on high for 4 hours.  Turn heat off.

To serve, place potatoes in a serving dish and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and fresh cilantro leaves.

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