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….


Amaranth Brownies (gluten-free)

Amaranth Brownie

I’ve been baking for a year now….I have realized that baking is like learning how to drive a car. You practice, gauge and finally become an expert. I bake not only to eat healthy but also to rejuvenate. I know, most of you will agree that baking is therapeutic and can really get you all pumped up! I prefer to follow or create recipes which are easy and most of my recipes are made using unrefined ingredients. If you are addicted to refined ingredients, it may take you a while to get used to unrefined ones.  However, these small changes do make a huge impact on your life and I can assure you that I’m experiencing it first hand.

Amaranth

I’ve been wanting to use amaranth flour in a lot of ways….I’ve used them in my choco chip cookies, combined with wheat flour. Amaranth or rajgiri flour has a very distinct taste. Amaranth comes in three forms – grain, flour and puffed. Puffed ones are commonly used in Maharashtra and are easily available. Amaranth flour can be used in baked goodies like cakes, cookies, cereals and if using it to make bread, it is advisable to mix it with another flour for bread to rise. Amaranth grain can be used as a substitute for rice or in cereals or baked goods and the puffed one can be used in making muesli, bars, laddoos or snacks. Flour and grain are not easily available and only a few keep them in stock. SOS is one such brand, which produces locally grown Himalayan amaranth.

Amaranth is one of the oldest grain. It is a  nutritional grain and contains only 4 grams of fat. Amaranth is also very high on proteins.  Amaranth contains four times the calcium found in wheat and two times the iron and magnesium.  Amaranth is very similar to quinoa when compared to it’s evolution and nutritional contents. However, amaranth contains slightly more protein compared to quinoa. Buckwheat is another gluten-free flour that I love baking with and it goes perfectly well with chocolate. Chocolate and amaranth are a good combination too! The earthiness of amaranth flour and the hint of dark chocolate can make this brownie your snack, breakfast or dessert. The addition of amaranth grain gives this brownie a good crunch and a texture. Feel free to add nuts or cocoa nibs. This brownies tastes better each day. I had refrigerated it for a week and found that it matures with age. This is my guilt-free version of  brownie and ofcourse, don’t tell anyone that you have added amaranth flour…Let your family and friends keep guessing 😉

Amaranth Brownie 1

Ingredients:

100 grams dark chocolate (65-70%)

75 grams amaranth flour

100 grams raw sugar (you can add 25 grams more for sweetness)

2 free range eggs

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp baking powder

50 grams butter

50 grams olive oil

25 grams raw amaranth grain or add nuts or chocolate chips

Procedure:

  1. Measure butter, olive oil & chocolate in a bowl and melt it on a double broiler. Keep this aside and allow it to come back to room temperature.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients.
  3. Once the wet mixture is cooled, add two eggs and beat it lightly until fluffy.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, including the amaranth grain and mix well.
  5. Pour this mixture in a pan, lined with parchment paper. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 18-25 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
  6. Allow the brownie to cool completely before cutting into squares. I got 15 pieces. Store these in an air tight container. This can be refrigerated up to a week.

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