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.

Amaranth Brownie 3

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Wonders of coconut oil & the best recipe ever!

We all are familiar with coconut oil. We all know that it is good for our hair, skin etc.. But have you tried cooking or baking with it?

Baking with coconut oil is something new to me. Studies are now finding it has great health benefits and is a wonderful substitute for other oils in your cooking and baking.

Good points:

  • Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats available.
  • Promotes weight loss.
  • The main type of saturated fat found in coconut oil is lauric acid. Preliminary studies show that lauric acid increases the levels of HDL in the body and lowers LDL.
  • Virgin coconut oil doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils or harmful trans fats so it’s a healthier option.
  • Coconut oil is incredibly heat stable when compared to other typical baking oils and fats such as butter, olive oil, and even vegetable oil.
  • Unlike butter, coconut oil is shelf stable and does not require refrigeration. Coconut oil also does not go rancid quickly and can be stored for over a year on the shelf.
  • A good substitute for butter in vegan baking.

Bad points:

  • Can be expensive – especially for the highest quality versions
  • Solid at room temperature – usually must be melted to incorporate into baking recipes

pic 538

How to use coconut oil?

In liquid form, coconut oil is an excellent substitute for vegetable oil, melted butter or margarine. One cup of solid coconut oil will melt to approximately one cup of liquid. You can substitute for butter in 1:1 ratio.

You can either microwave or heat on a stove top to melt the solidified coconut oil. It is advisable to use coconut oil, in liquid form at room temperature.

What type of coconut oil to use?

Virgin (unrefined coconut oil or pure) or the less processed oil, preferably organic is the best. The virgin oil is minimally processed using very little heat and has a mild coconut scent and flavor.

Coconut oil helps to curb the salt content, which is otherwise found in salted butter. I find that when I bake with it, my bakes have a special lightness to them and a slightly sweet fragrance unique to coconut oil. I love to incorporate coconut oil into my weekly baking because it makes sweet treats a little healthier. Add some whole wheat flour and natural sweetener, and you have a nourishing, real food. I even use coconut oil in baking my breads!

I’ve shared my banana bread recipe before but this one is different. Way different!  Everyday I’ve been having a slice with my morning & evening cup of coffee. Every bite takes you to heaven. Trust me.

The traditional banana bread is made by using mashed and over ripe bananas. Here we are using sun dried bananas.  I discovered these from Sirsi, Karnataka. You can also substitute the dried bananas to  dried figs. I like my organic  figs from Ecorico . The millet inspiration is from Smitten Kitchen.

Millet &  sun dried banana bread

Ingredients for Crackly Dried Fruit Bread

170 gms whole wheat flour

30 gms uncooked millet (you can use madhira, amaranth or foxtail)

75gms dried banana or dried fig, roughly chopped

1 egg, room temperature

50 gms raw sugar

50 ml agave syrup or maple syrup

80 ml coconut oil, room temperature

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp (5 gms) baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven at 160 degree centigrade and grease a 8 by 4 inch loaf pan or equivalent.
  2. Sieve the flour along with baking soda, salt and cinnamon powder.
  3.  Add egg, raw sugar and beat until mixed well. Add coconut oil and mix.
  4.  Combine the dry and wet ingredients gently and mix it with the help of a spatula.
  5.  Pour the mixture into the greased pan and  bake for about 45 minutes or until its done based on your oven settings.
  6. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for about one hour.

You can store this bread at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerate up to 10 days. Most of the ingredients used in making this bread is from i2cook.com.

Millet & sundried banana bread

Some useful links on coconut oil:

http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/your-ultimate-guide-to-coconut-oil-benefits-types-uses/

http://www.livestrongfitness.com/blog/coconut-oil-miracle-or-myth/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/511678-how-to-make-coconut-oil-a-part-of-your-diet/