Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

DSC_0232PB banana smoothie is high in protein and healthy fat, this recipe makes for a hearty breakfast, lunch, or after-workout snack. It’s easy to make , full of all sorts of delicious and healthy and protein-rich ingredients, and it’s the perfect use for ripe or overripe bananas. The yogurt creates a smooth desert-tasting consistency while providing  healthy digestion. Adding ice is optional, and makes for a thicker, cooler smoothie. I prefer to drink it chilled!

Drink this after a workout to recharge your energy with heart healthy fat and protein. Banana adds additional fiber with Potassium, Manganese (helps in bone structure) and Vitamins. Yogurt adds probiotics which helps in healthy digestion along with calcium. You can also add nuts like almonds, walnuts or flax seeds to this for an extra crunch. I added some raw organic cocao nibs.

Ingredients

1 large banana or 2 small, peeled & roughly chopped

1/2 cup yogurt

1 tbs i2cook peanut butter

a pinch of cinnamon powder

1 tsp or more coconut sugar (optional)

Procedure

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve chilled!


Introducing i2cook Quinoa – Eat Local

 

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Today, on this world health day, I would like to talk about the super food “quinoa”. Diabetics being the prime most concern; over 30 million Indians have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is time for us to wake up and spend some time thinking about what we consume. That eat as you wish attitude is costing us our health and financially, hospital bills too.

This locally grown ingredient (Yes, locally grown, no more importing) is a super seed which can be consumed as a grain. The first project of growing quinoa was started by a farmer in India with the aid of our Government as a testing ground to see if this seed can be grown in a similar way as millets are commonly grown. The success of one farmer encouraged forty others to grow quinoa in the same region. This is a big change and this new revolution will not only help to provide farming with less water belts or drought laden area with a new crop, but will also encourage consumers to include it in their diet. This is a great news for Indian market, however the high price is still catering to the urban market. It is believed that as the demand rises and more and more farmers believe in the product there will be a huge change in the diet of several  health affected Indians. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

Burrito Bowl

 

Quinoa is a seed, the size of a millet. On cooking, it becomes translucent and the germ of the seed uncoils to form a little tail. Its leaves are not only fit for human consumption like any other green leafy vegetable but the excess of it can also be used as a fodder for cattle.

i2cook Quinoa is  close to amaranth (millet) in terms of nutritional value. Here is the comparison between i2cook quinoa and amaranth seeds. However, it is difficult to use amaranth seeds in salads or pulav due to its sticky or non fluffy nature. i2cook Quinoa works great in salads and in pulav!

i2cook Quinoa can be cooked in a similar way as rice 1:2 ration, 1 cup of quinoa : 2 cups of water with a dash of rock salt in a pressure cooker (cook until one whistle) or in a pot, cook for 13 minutes. Quinoa from i2cook can also be sprouted to enjoy  maximum anti oxidants.

i2cook Quinoa can be used as a substitute to your rice dishes or salads or in pretty much everything. I enjoy one bowl meal during summer and like to use quinoa as a base accompanied by lots and lots of vegetables. We recently made a burrito bowl for lunch and it made a nice wholesome and a lite meal. We served only 2 tbs of quinoa per person which was enough to take care of our daily nutrient in take.

i2cook Quinoa is grown without pesticide, non GMO and the main advantage of our quinoa is that you don’t have to rinse it many times as it does not contain any saponin which imparts a bitter taste if not rinsed several times.

Burrito bowl 1

 


Difference Between Organic & Natural Products

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Organic is a growing sector and a lot of consumers are slowing converting their kitchen to organic. Most of the stores in India store both organic and natural products and sometimes due to insufficient information on the label, the consumer is often confused.

The term “organic” and “natural”  are widely used and a lot of  consumers are not sure what it means. Let me explain to you the difference between the two.

‘Natural’ means that the product has undergone minimal processing and does not contain any preservatives or additives, but the term is not protected in any way and there is no certification. However, “all natural” term is loosely used and doesn’t have any legal definition. Natural products can also be genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Organic products are those made entirely from natural substances, which in turn have been grown eschewing the use of artificial chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. According to WHO, organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conversation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. Simply put, organic produce is grown without the use of any pesticide, synthetic fertilizer, genetically modified organisms (GMO) or sewage sludge. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs and diary products don’t take any antibiotics or growth hormones. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs are also termed as free-range, where the animals have outside access and is not couped up in a cell.

In India, the term “organic” is not legally protected for use in retail, and organic produce can also be sold without certification. FSSAI is currently in the process of notification of organic rules for the domestic market.

The retail chain Fabindia developed a three-tier labeling system that distinguishes between so-called natural products, products from farms in conversion to organic and fully certified organic products. ICCOA, also followed similar labeling system for vegetables sourced from Karnataka. Navdanya, the NGO gives the ‘navdanya gurantee’ for organically grown products, the credibility of which is based on the reputation of the NGO rather than on third party certification.

Organic labeling can be further categorized into 3 categories:

100% organic: made with 100% organic ingredients

Organic: made with 95% organic ingredients

Made with organic ingredients: made with organic ingredients without any certification

Since organic sector is an unorganized one in India, a lot of times you will see unbranded or non-labelled packets at stores. This may be due to several reasons, repackaging by the store (who doesn’t follow any labeling norms due to small supply), small production/supply, seasonal product, applied for certification and is in transition, cannot afford certification etc.

In Bangalore, it is common to see a lot of organic stores organizing twice a week sale of organic fruits and vegetables. These are mostly not certified and are sourced from farms on the outskirts. Organic in India, is mostly promoted on the basis of trust and the intent of the producer/seller. Since, certification cost is too high most of the small producers prefer to sell their goods through small retail outlets.

 

You might also like

How do I convert my kitchen to organic?

I like my chicken free-range..

Reference: Organic food marketing in urban centres of India


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.



Artisan Dark Chocolate – Earth Loaf

Fresh loaf

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.

 

Earth loaf 1

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.


Gingerbread Cake or Molasses Cake

Hello from my new office in Bengaluru 🙂

office

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 😉

Gingebread 2

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!

Gingerbread 1

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.
Gingerbread4

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….