My rendezvous with Martha & a recipe for eggless mousse

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This post has been  long over due and I cannot express how much I’ve been pushing myself to write this post. Settling down in a new home and office at the same time can be very exhausting. I’m slowly getting my life back to normal and enjoying meeting new people and learning something new every day.

I happen to know about Martha’s preserves through a friend of mine and was curious to meet the face behind such lovely products. Every product which comes out is dear to every entrepreneur and setting up a business coming from foreign land is not an easy task. Meet Martha Kohlhagen. She makes awesome marmalade and sauces which gives you a taste of a true artisan product sans preservatives.

Martha’s Preserves operates from a 20 acre farm at Bannerghatta. Martha  stays and works from her farm. They are a team of 10 dedicated individuals dishing out 10 plus yummy products like  pomegranate and orange marmalade, lemon curd, caramel sauce, chocolate fudge, onion relish etc. Martha has a  background in food technology and uses her grandmother’s recipe to make these delicious products. She does keep the Indian taste in mind and has created products like chilli pineapple jam. Martha aims to produce quality products without comprising on taste. She says that it takes a lot of care and planning to sort fruits and make seasonal products. Martha plans to increase her reach to other cities too.

What really impressed me about Martha’s preserves is that they not only make unique combinations but also have sauces like caramel sauce, chocolate fudge sauce on offer that make life simple. Some ice-cream and a combo of these two sauces makes for a stellar dessert. However, for those who like a little more salt in their caramel sauce can add some sprinkles of sea salt to round up on the flavours. Martha’s Preserves are a Gourmet range, hence be prepared to shell an extra buck for these artisan products but trust me when I say they are worth it!

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Since the time I’ve moved back to Bangalore, I’ve been enjoying avocados. My mom’s neighbouring garden produces some of the best and creamiest avocados that I’ve ever had. Long live thy neighbour! Avocado mousse is so easy to make and can be made guilt-free. The natural creamy texture of the avocado makes all the difference and you won’t miss any cream in your dessert. If you don’t have Martha’s chocolate fudge at home, you could use cocoa powder or dark couverture chocolate (melted). You can also spike your dessert with a teaspoon of brandy! This dessert allows you to play with ingredients and feel free to experiment by adding rolled oats, cashew butter or hazelnut with different flavours or textures.

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Ingredients for avocado & chocolate fudge mousse

1 big size avocado, scooped into a bowl

2 tbs of Martha’s chocolate fudge sauce

1/2 tbs maple syrup or honey

1/2 tbs coffee decoction

nuts or cocao nibs for garnish

 Procedure:

  • Add all the ingredients in a mixer except garnish and make a fine paste.
  • Pour the mousse into the desired serving glasses or bowls. Garnish with some nuts and cocao nibs. Refrigerate for minimum of two hours  before serving.
  • Serve chilled. Serves 2-4.

Note: I layered my serving glasses with some caramel sauce at the bottom to give my dessert a surprise element.

Martha’s Preserves is available at Foodhall.



Peanut Butter Blondies

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I’ve been addictive to these blondies and everyone at home just love it! These are made with real nuts and addition of choco chips makes these an heavenly treat.

Baking with nut butters negates the use of butter since nut butters contain their own fat/oil. You can use any nut butter as the main ingredient and these can be made vegan or gluten free or flour-less. Blondies are like brownies but contain less of cocoa or chocolate. As the name suggests, they are brown in colour. They are  great as a snack or you could have them as  dessert with some  ice-cream.

Ingredients 

500 gms nut butters like  peanut butter or almond butter

2 eggs or 30 gms flax seed powder lightly beaten with 6 tbs of water for egg-less version

1 tsp baking soda

120 gms raw sugar

25 gms choco chips

20 gms nuts or cocao nibs

Note: I usually prefer to add some crunch to my blondies by adding cocao nibs or nuts

Procedure

  1. Measure all the ingredients and keep aside.
  2. Lightly beat two eggs in a bowl.
  3. Mix the nut butter, raw sugar, soda , choco chips and nuts into the wet mixture very softly.
  4. Line 10×10 inch baking dish/pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly throughout.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for about 18-20 minutes.
  6. Once done, allow it to cool before cutting them into desired shapes. Serve warm or at room temperature.  This recipe makes about 25 pieces.

 

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Artisan Dark Chocolate – Earth Loaf

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Artisan dark chocolate produced locally

 

An invite to an organic  chocolate tasting and a 1 hour drive led me to a quaint cafe at Indiranagar where the tasting was held. A nice breezy evening and conversation over some tea and chocolate made me forget all about the horrid Bangalore traffic. We were all seated in a room and watched David and Angelika educate us about their passion - Earth Loaf.

Earth loaf makes  artisan raw chocolate and  tea infusions. I was surprised to sip on a glass of pure raw cacao beans infused in hot water that tasted good to my liking. David explained that it is a good energizer and a perfect post lunch drink. Earth loaf also has a blend with Assam tea leaf and cacao beans. David and Angelika come from the background of cocktail mixing. Their true calling for raw organic food lead them to experiment with chocolates. Earth loaf is based out of Mysore and currently David is busy training two women who come to work with him from a nearby Village. It took about two years to source and make their own machinery to produce the finest quality of handmade chocolate, right from scratch. David believes that chocolate is addictive due to its sugar content and he wants his customers to experience the opposite in his product. He believes that by adding minimum amount of coconut sugar, he is giving a pure taste of cacao rather than a sugar overload. David believes that it is more sustainable to go local (Indian) rather than sourcing it from abroad even though he may be tempted to. The raw materials are all procured from South and the ingredients used are minimum.

After all this talk about raw chocolate and cacao beans, many of you must be wondering that what is cacao beans….

Cacao beans are a source of all things chocolate. Cacao beans contain phenylethylamine (PEA), an antidepressant that stimulates the body’s adrenaline and dopamine levels for a dose of happy feelings. So now you know the reason why chocolate makes us happy ;)

Cacao beans may look like an almond and comes with a thin skin covering. This skin can be removed by hand or soaked in warm water to discard the skin.  Large processing house use  machine to remove the skin covering, David built his own machinery to remove the skin.  These beans are then crushed and are called cacao nibs, which is used as a garnish  or are processed into making chocolates. Cacao beans is particularly found to be very healthy for its flavonoid content. The darker the chocolate the better flavonoid content is has, which helps to prevent diseases Cancer and Alzheimer.

How is earth loaf chocolate different from the conventional dark chocolate?

Earth loaf chocolate is made with minimum ingredients and doesn’t contain any milk solids. This chocolate is  made from pure raw cacao  and is also vegan. Most of the conventional chocolates are so highly processed that they tend to lose their nutrients and antioxidants. More on raw chocolate and coconut sugar.

Earth loaf

Raw chocolate with cacao nibs and coconut sugar sprinkle.

 

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Pure and handmade chocolate

 

David says that he is trying to set a trend as it is one of its kind in India. I liked the idea of tasting raw cacao and coconut sugar in my chocolate. Right now, I’m enjoying my  chocolate with a glass of wine :)

 

Earth Loaf products will be soon available on i2cook.com. You can also shop at their online store.


What is a low-GI diet?

Diabetics has been on a  rise and it is essential that we start looking at what we eat in a more organized manner. Today’s lifestyle demands us to focus on our health and take pre-cautionary measures before its too late. I had spoken about GI with regards to natural sugars before and now I will be talking about it more in detail . GI is a term most often used by nutritionist but in today’s date and it has become important for a layman like us to understand the importance of it. Following a low GI diet for a healthy living will help you  keep your glucose level in check.

Glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels. The GI ranking is from 1-100. 

Apart from regular exercise, food plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. Today’s post is about low GI foods that are beyond natural sugars. Everything that we eat contains some amount of sugar in them.

Why do I need a low-GI diet?

A low GI diet ensures that you are a more active person. The lifestyle that we have right now as compared to our ancestors is not the same. Our grandparents may seem active even at the age of 80 but there is no guarantee that the same genes will carry on to us. The reason is very simple – lifestyle and introduction of packaged products to make these products last long has become a part of our daily diet. The carbohydrates that our ancestors ate were to basic beans and rice which made it easier from farm to plate due to the lack of refrigeration or processes packaged products. As a result, most of the food that we eat like pizza, burgers, cakes contains the sorts of carbohydrates that break down quickly and release their sugars rapidly into the bloodstream. However, consuming low GI foods will help us keep fit and active.

Risk of consuming high-GI foods

  •  Weight gain – high GI foods will make you hungry and more likely that you will want to eat again. It also causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and fall, which in turn results in craving for sugary and fatty foods. In both cases insulin’s main role is to promote fat storage, which means that the more insulin you have in your body,  you are storing excess calories in your body.
  • Food cravings and lethargy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Diabetics
  • Heart disease
foxtail salad

Foxtail millet salad loaded with veggies works best for a busy afternoon meal at work.

 

A low GI diet can help

  • Obtain a high fibre diet by consuming rolled oats, leafy vegetables, fruits.
  • It is naturally more filling and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Consuming nut butters like peanut butter or cashew butter keeps you full for long.
  • Vegetables and fruits are  rich source of  nutrients and can help fight diseases.
  • Higher in essential vitamins,minerals and antioxidants will help your immune system stay strong and healthy.

How to follow a simple low GI diet?

A low GI diet is not that difficult to follow. In India, it is much easier to achieve this as we cook our own food (most of the time).

  • Eat different types of fruits and vegetables about 6-7 servings per day as per your liking. Although, some fruits and vegetables may contain high GI, in relaity when eaten in normal quantities they contain small amount of carbohydrate that they have little or no measurable effect on blood sugar levels.
  • Eating whole grain foods and cereals with low GI like whole wheat or ragi breads or cookies
  • Unpolished rice pulses or lentils
  • Nuts and seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids. If you think that nut butters are fatty, think again.
  • Eating  fish or seafood 2-3 times a week is a good source of omega 3.
  • Eating lean meat or chicken, minus the fat and following healthy cooking styles like grilling or barbecuing is best way to enjoy meat and control your GI.
  • Snack on low GI foods like fruits, ragi/millet chips or crackers, coconut sugar biscuits or low fat yogurt.
  • Replace sugary, packaged drinks with fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water
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Pasta has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI

Following simple steps and taking tab of what you eat can help you a long way. GI-diet is not a fad but a scientifically proven theory. Taking smaller steps and planning your meal by swamping basmati rice with millets or white bread with whole wheat bread will help. Pasta also has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI. Al-dente is the best way to eat pasta and maintains its low GI. The longer you cook the higher the GI it has.

 

My first bread

Opting for whole wheat bread is a better choice. Baking your own bread is an even better option.

GI and GL for Common Foods
Food GI Serving Size Net Carbs GL
Peanuts 14  4 oz (113g) 15 2
Bean sprouts 25  1 cup (104g) 4 1
Grapefruit 25  1/2 large (166g) 11 3
Pizza 30  2 slices (260g) 42 13
Lowfat yogurt 33  1 cup (245g) 47 16
Apples 38  1 medium (138g) 16 6
Spaghetti 42  1 cup (140g) 38 16
Carrots 47  1 large (72g) 5 2
Oranges 48  1 medium (131g) 12 6
Bananas 52  1 large (136g) 27 14
Potato chips 54  4 oz (114g) 55 30
Snickers Bar 55  1 bar (113g) 64 35
Brown rice 55  1 cup (195g) 42 23
Honey 55  1 tbsp (21g) 17 9
Oatmeal 58  1 cup (234g) 21 12
Ice cream 61  1 cup (72g) 16 10
Macaroni and cheese 64  1 serving (166g) 47 30
Raisins 64  1 small box (43g) 32 20
White rice 64  1 cup (186g) 52 33
Sugar (sucrose) 68  1 tbsp (12g) 12 8
White bread 70  1 slice (30g) 14 10
Watermelon 72  1 cup (154g) 11 8
Popcorn 72  2 cups (16g) 10 7
Baked potato 85  1 medium (173g) 33 28
Glucose 100  (50g) 50 50

The table  shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI’s of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL’s of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index#ixzz30XN8MWEo

GI ratings for some of the popular foods.

i2cook.com sells some of the low GI products like coconut sugar, rolled oats, millets etc.

 

grilled chicken 3

Grilling lean meats like chicken is a more healthier option.

Disclaimer: the above research has been done some through personal experimentation and online research. If you are diabetic, I suggest you consult your doctor for low GI diet.

Resources

http://www.lowgidiet.net/


Introducing i2cook’s Spicy Peanut Butter

Spicy peanut butter

 

Spicy peanut butter is the new addition to i2cook family of organic products. After all the hoopla over the peanut butter, at i2cook we introduced something more suitable for the Indian palate. The idea of creating a spicy version of peanut butter was to make it more versatile as a condiment which can be used in both Indian and Western cooking. The best part about this product is that it is made with no added oil.  The combination of peanuts and spice is something we Indians have brought up with and you can’t go wrong with the combination right!

Spicy peanut butter can be used to make Thai dishes like Thai peanut dip, pad Thai or chicken satay. It is also great with khakara (Indian crackers) or you could also make peanut chutney by grinding it with some coconut. Since, it is in the wet form, you don’t have to add extra ghee or oil to moisten. You could eat it directly with your dosa, idli or chapathi. It is also great as a spread to make rolls of your desired filling. Needless to say that our spicy peanut butter is also great as a spread for sandwiches.

 

Spicy peanut butter

A note on peanuts: The peanuts are sourced from an organization which believes in  organic farming and practises multi-cropping and crop rotation to preserve soil fertility. Since there is absolute no use of pesticides, the farmers use neem and cow urine to keep the pests at bay. 

 

Our spicy peanut butter is available on our online store i2cook.com and in other stores too.

 

Spring roll

Recipe for Thai peanut dip

10ogms of spicy peanut butter

1tbs of soy sauce

1tsp of coconut or palm sugar

 

Mix all the ingredients together and add some water for a thinner consistency. Serve at room temperature with spring rolls. You could also use this as a dip to serve with some sliced cucumbers and carrots.

 


Gingerbread Cake or Molasses Cake

Hello from my new office in Bengaluru :)

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i2cook office in Bengaluru

I kickstarted 2014 with a new office and the madness called ‘transfer & set up’. I felt like I was restarting i2cook but with a bit more experience and help. Couple of months have been busy with birthdays and family time too! I seem to have finally settled into my new space and hoping this year to be a super duper one and promise to bring you more recipes!

I’ve also been spending less time cooking and having a long distance relationship with my husband, who is in Mumbai (Sigh). Which is why baking a cake always makes me happy even if I’m missing him ;)

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Gingerbread cake has a lovely texture

I maybe a little late at sharing the ginger bread recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks. But this cake has become my all time favourite cake to bake any time of the year.
Baking a cake has its own positive energy! I like to use only unrefined ingredients. I avoid using maida in my baking and use wheat flour or gluten-free flours. If you are not comfortable using 100% whole wheat flour, I suggest you change the proportion to 50-50 mixed with multi-purpose flour (maida). We are going to use three types of sweeteners in this cake. Remember my post about natural sweeteners… We are using raw sugar, molasses and honey. Molasses does a perfect job at giving that nice flavour which can get you addicted.

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This cake is good for any occasion. You could add some walnuts to it and have it as a tea cake or just have it plain. I served this cake for my brother’s birthday with some cream cheese flavoured with coffee and garnished it with some caramelized walnuts; his reaction was a silent smile. You could also make a trifle and gift it to your friends. This cake is  versatile and with a little creativity with flavours can get your guests asking for more!

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Gingerbread trifle with cream cheese, pomegranate and cocoa nibs

Ingredients

For dry mixture:

350 gms wheat flour

6 gms ginger powder

5 gms cinnamon powder

6 gms grated ginger

5 gms baking soda

For wet mixture:

200 gms butter

100 gms raw sugar

150 gms black strap molasses

150 gms honey

110 ml water

120 ml milk (at room temperature)

Procedure

  1. Measure and mix the dry mixture along with grated ginger. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Measure all the wet ingredients like butter, sweeteners and water in a non reactive pan. Heat on a stove top until the sugar and butter has melted. Keep aside to cool.
  3. Add eggs one at a time to the wet mixture while it is  warm. Add milk and mix well.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour them in the desired pans and bake in a pre heated oven at 160 degree centigrade for 45-50 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
  6. Once baked, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes before removing it from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Gingerbread cake is good for any occasion – topped with coffee flavoured cream cheese and caramelized walnuts.

You might also like…

Gluten-free chocolate cake

Polenta cake

Carrot cake with liquid jaggery


How do I convert my kitchen to organic?

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I’m here to share my experience with organic food and how it changed my kitchen!

My kitchen still functions the same with any recipe from any cuisine that I like to cook. The only thing that has changed is that 99% of the ingredients that I use now are sans pesticide. Sounds unbelievable doesn’t it….

There is a lot of information on the internet telling you that organic food is good for you or that there is no proven fact that organic food is more healthier compared to the conventional food. My theory is very simple, if my food is grown artificially or ripened or polished with the stuff that I cannot even pronounce, I prefer to stay away. I like my bottle of peanut butter to taste like peanuts and nothing else. For me, it doesn’t matter if I have to consume my condiments within a certain period of time. I prefer it this way as it gives me more confidence that there has been nothing artificial added to it to make it last long.

I was first introduced to the term ‘organic’ when I was interning in an Architect’s office in Auroville. I used to have my lunch everyday at the solar kitchen where most of the ingredients were grown locally and were organic. As a young individual, I never realised the importance and forgot all about it. In the year 2011, I was reintroduced  to organic produce through Farmer’s Market. This is when I took notice. The first thing that hit me was the taste. The produce were not only fresh but had a sweet, refreshing taste. I started cooking with organic produce and noticed that my cooking tasted of pure ingredients and that I didn’t have to do too much to enhance it. Thus my journey to  learn about different organic ingredients started.

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My approach has been slow but consistent. Organic food is 10-20% higher priced than conventional foods. My theory here is more simple, If I’m cutting down on my one or two bill(s) of eating out, I can buy better quality ingredients for my family.  I first made a note of all the ingredients that we consume at home and narrowed it down to the most consumed first. For example, rice is the most consumed ingredient at home and I changed it to organic first. I gradually made a progress and have converted my kitchen into an organic one over a period of 12 months. Now we eat out less and still save more on groceries than before!!

I eat organic food and I’m not a vegetarian!

It is very difficult to source organic meat. I’m told that there are organic chicken available in some parts of India. I haven’t come across any and I don’t see it available in Mumbai or Bangalore (as a retail product). I do eat fee range chicken or eggs and studies have proven that they contain more nutrition than the injected ones. I have shared more information on free range in my old blog post. I prefer the locally available seasonal fish in comparison to the frozen ones.

Does organic food taste good?

I’ve been asked this question by several people. I hope the pictures convince you that organic food is not boring as it may sound :)

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lettuce wraps 1

Asian style lettuce wrap with i2cook’s peanut butter. Click on the image to view recipe.

Millet & sundried banana bread

Crackly dried fruit bread with coconut oil. Click on the image to view recipe.

Do I eat out?

As a blogger, I get invited to a lot of restaurants for tasting. Organic food is a part of my daily diet and I tend to be strict about it at home. However, there are some exclusive restaurants in different parts of the country serving some locally produced and organic food like Tattva in Delhi, Carrots in Bangalore or The Pantry, Birdsong in Mumbai.

Where to buy organic food?

There are a lot of options now from where you can buy organic food. Our online store i2cook is a 100% organic store. There are also stores in different cities which stock fresh organic produce from nearby farms. Cities like Mumbai and Bangalore are holding Farmers market selling organic produce regularly. Esvasa has a good list of stores across India selling organic produce.

Read more….

Debate on organic food

Organic vs. conventional & a chart for fruits/vegetables

Why organic food might be worth all that cost….


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