Chia seed pudding is the new shinning food for the health conscious people. Chia seed is high on fiber and works great as a post workout breakfast or a snack. This ancient grain is now locally grown in some parts of Karnataka which works out cheaper than the imported ones. Read here about the nutritional benefits of chia seeds.
The overnight chia seed pudding is so easy to make that it requires less than five minutes to assemble. I like to make my chia pudding with almond milk, sweetened with honey or coconut sugar. Homemade almond milk can be made before hand and refrigerated for 4-5 days. In the morning, I just season my pudding with i2cook’s peanut butter, cacao niba, nuts like walnuts, sunflower seeds and fruits. You can also soak chia seeds overnight in PB banana smoothie for some extra flavour and energy!
1/4 cup chia seeds (40 gms US cup standards)
1 cup almond milk (240ml)
1 tsp honey
Measure and mix all the ingredients in a glass jar. Refrigerate for min 3-4 hours or overnight. Eat chilled with your favorite topping.
Snacking is one of the best way to stay fit and sharing with you this super easy recipe. This recipe is especially good for women as it contains essential nutrients like Iron from dates, Vitamins from sunflower seeds , Protein from i2cook peanut butter, Essential fatty acids from cacao nibs and Calcium & Fiber from chia seeds. The good news is that these energy boosters can be customized to your liking. You can add chocolate chips, walnuts or any kind of ingredient that you like.
200 gms dates, pitted
2tbs i2cook peanut butter
1tbs cacao nibs
1tbs roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 tbs chia seeds or flax seed powder
- Pulse the dates in a blender into fine pieces so that it has enough stickiness to roll into a ball
- In a bowl mix all the ingredients along with dates
- Roll into a ball of desired size
- This can be stored in an air tight container for a week or refrigerated for a month. Yields about 15 medium sized pieces.
Spicy Peanut Butter is a versatile product and works great for salad dressings or noodle based dishes. You can also mix this versatile product with your plain rice and curds. At i2cook, we have also introduced a new product called the “i2cook Peanut Crunch” which are powdered peanuts, can be added to your noodles, salads, soup, sabudana kichidi or Indian style vegetable as garnish. Sharing with you a very easy recipe for a lazy weeknight or weekend dinner. Feel free to use your favorite veggies or meat. This meal is not only satisfying but can also be prepared under 15 minutes.
1 packet hakka noodles – 200gms (wheat), cooked and water drained
1 medium sized onion, peeled & sliced
4-5 peeled garlic, finely chopped
1 small capsicum, de-seeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, cut in thin strips
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
4-5 baby corn sliced & cooked (optional)
100gms i2cook spicy peanut butter
1/2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp coconut or palm sugar
salt to taste
coriander or spring onion for garnish
i2cook peanut crunch (powdered peanuts for garnish)
toasted sesame for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in a wok and add garlic. Allow it to brown a little and add onions.
- Once the onions are soft, add carrots, mushroom, capsicum and babay corn. Cook until done.
- Take peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar in a bowl and add some water to form a smooth paste. Add this to the cooked vegetables and cook for a minute.
- Add salt to taste and noodles, mix well. Turn off the gas.
- Add some peanut crunch and coriander as garnish. Serves 2.
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.
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 🙂
When Vandana of Esvasa asked me to do an organic recipe for her website. I knew I had to share this recipe. Esvasa is the only online journal which shares and talks about organic food in India (elaborately). It is an informative site and also features list of organic stores and restaurants across India. They also have a monthly news letter and you can sign up for free!
Focaccia is a flatbread, unlike a very thick-crusted pizza. Focaccia is similar to a bread and can be made in any shape or variation. You can use all kinds of toppings and make it taste good but also visiually appealing. A square of focaccia topped with tomatoes, onions or zataar makes a great lunch or snack, and it’s good lunchbox fare.
Another thing you can do with focaccia is split it laterally and fill it, to make a sandwich.I made myself a nice focaccia sandwich using yellow butterfly’s sundried tomato hummus.
This is a very easy bread. I’m using 100% whole wheat flour and you get a denser than the regular focaccia made with refined flours. You could also use 1:1 variation of whole wheat & all purpose flour (maida) or 2:1 combination.
10gms dry active yeast
300gms whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2tbs olive oil & some extra for rubbing
12-15 pitted black olives, halved
- In a glass of lukewarm water, dissolve sugar and yeast. Allow it to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the measured flour, yeast mixture and form a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.
- Cream the olive oil and salt separately and work into the dough. Tip onto a floured work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until elastic.
- Form into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes or double in size.
- Knock back the dough (punch it in the middle and let all the air escape) and knead again for 3-4 minutes,
- Shape the dough in desired shape and place the dough on the greased tray.
- Roll or press out the dough into a rectangle the size of the sheet pan. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough all over and place the olives at equal distance.
- Leave it in a warm spot for 20 minutes or double in size.
- Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes or until the surface is browned.
- Brush with some olive oil mixed with zataar and cool on a wire rack.
You can keep this bread at room temperature for a day or refrigerate upto a week.
Peanut butter is versatile. My last recipe, grilled chicken with warm peanut butter sauce was a killer with my friends and family. Peanut butter can so easily make any Asian dish taste good. I can think of so many good uses of using peanut butter in Asian cooking like satay sauce, pad thai or a salad recipe that I’m going to share in my post today.
If you’re not a peanut butter fan like me, spiking your peanut butter with some palm sugar or coconut sugar and bird’s eye chilli can do wonders! If your basic sauce is ready, you can add pretty much anything that you like to this sauce.
These little lettuce wraps are just right for a healthy light meal or serve them up as a snack or starter. It is a vegan recipe and you could also make it raw by negating the tofu. This salad is a colourful and fun way of enjoying your veggies!
6-8 Lettuce leaves, cleaned, dried and of desired size
1 big carrot, julienned
50 gms tofu, shredded (optional)
50 gms sprouts
1tbs peanut butter (I used i2cook’s peanut butter)
1 bird’s eye chilli, chopped finely
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp palm or coconut sugar (I used i2cook’s coconut sugar)
juice of half a lime
salt to taste (if required)
basil & roasted peanuts for garnish
- Combine the carrot, tofu, chilli and sprouts in a bowl.
- Mix peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and lime juice. Add a teaspoon of water and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Place this mixture on each lettuce piece and garnish with basil, peanuts. Serve immediately.
- Alternatively lay out the ingredients and allow everyone to assemble their own. Serves 2-4.
More recipes on peanut butter
Caramel is generally made by adding butter and cream to caramelized sugar. I’m sharing a vegan recipe of caramel sauce here. You heard it right! It tastes equally good or I can say even better. The secret ingredients in this caramel sauce are coconut sugar and coconut milk. Coconut sugar is better than refined sugar and the coconut milk gives right amount of fat for a great texture.
The low glycemic index (GI) of coconut sugar is 35 (around half of white sugar) and has led some to claim that it’s a good sugar substitute for people with diabetes. It has a high mineral content compared to other sugars and is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. You can use coconut sugar 1:1 in any way you would use regular sugar, including coffee, baking or cooking. More benefits and details in my previous post about this wonder sugar.
How does coconut sugar taste? It does not look, smell, or taste the way one would expect it to (like coconut). It actually looks, smells, and tastes like brown sugar with the slightest hint of caramel.
Although this recipe is fairly simple, it does require some understanding of the caramelization process. When sugar is heated to the point of melting (with or without water), it begins to color and caramelize. If left as is, it will solidify into a hard mass. If water is added, it becomes a thin sauce. If water and fat are added, the caramel develops body and texture. Adding water will make the caramel bubble up- Caramel is extremely hot and can do serious damage, so be careful.
1cup coconut sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup of water
1 cup coconut milk (I used homemade)
1/4 tsp vanilla powder or extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
Mix all the ingredients in a pan. Place it on a stove top, on low flame. Allow it to simmer for 30 minutes, until thick or till desired consistency. Stir occasionally and keep a keen watch on the sauce. Once done, allow it to cool before transferring into a bottle. Remember, that the sauce will thicken after cooling. You can refrigerate up to 3 weeks.
Serving suggestions: This sauce is so good and tasty to use it as a dip for fresh fruits, crepes, waffles, ice-creams, trifles, cakes, cookies, chocolates or best had straight from the bottle 🙂
This recipe is sure a keeper! It is easy to make for any occasion or for snacking. This dip can be had with pastas, crackers or can smeared on your sandwiches.
1 large red bell pepper
1tbs green olives, chopped
5-6 basil leaves, chopped roughly
2tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Roast bell pepper on the stove top or oven. Discard the skin and the seeds. Chop roughly.
- Blend in all the ingredients into a course paste or use a mortar pestle.
- Spoon the prepared paste into the serving bowl and drizzle some olive oil on top.
- This dip can be refrigerated for about a week. Serves 2.
I love crackers! Best way to snack healthy. They go well with almost anything or are great just plain. However, I find the store bought crackers either very expensive or not preservative free. I prefer crackers to biscuits for my evening snacking. They also make a good entry into your fancy cheese boards. Oatmeal gives a different taste and wheat flour is used more as a binder. I tried searching some recipes on the internet for oatmeal crackers but found very few that I liked and was left to experiment on my own.
I wanted to increase the shelf life of my cracker so I decided to negate the fresh herbs and use a different kind of flavor instead. I tend to use a lot of cinnamon in my cooking and decided that this time I will try something “different”.
**Star anise not only gives a sweet flavor but really makes your cracker taste different and at the same time, the taste is not overpowering. I’ve also used some nutritional yeast to give it a bit of a cheesy taste. You can increase the quantity of the yeast more and it will only result in more yumminess. All ingredients used are organic and vegan.
100gms rolled oats
200gms wheat flour and some extra for dusting
20gms flax seed
1 tsp star anise powder
1tsp baking powder
50gms vegetable or olive oil
**50gms nutritional yeast (optional) see note above
1 cup water at room temperature
1tbs raw sugar
salt to taste
Blend rolled oats and flax seed in a blender into a coarsely ground powder.
Add wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, nutritional yeast into the ground mixture and mix well.
Add oil and water slowly into the mixture and roll into a dough.
Flatten the dough with the help of a rolling pin into a thin layer. Cut the crackers into desired shapes and sizes.
Place the crackers on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully towards the end of the cooking time; they should be just beginning to turn brown at the edges.Once done, allow it to cool on a wire rack. Store them in an air tight container for up to two weeks. I got 20 big sized crackers and you may get 30-40 small ones.
My cat loved these cracker and I’m super trilled. No, no its not cat food. Let me introduce to you “Bhunkas” (means vagabond), who sometimes behaves more like a human and less of a cat 🙂
I will be talking about two products in my first post on featured products for this month –
1.Black rice pasta
2.Nutritional yeast flakes (vegan cheese)
1. Black rice pasta
This pasta is unfamiliar in India and is completely gluten-free and vegan. It also suits people who avoid wheat completely in their diet. Well for me it was the colour and the curiosity that made me taste the product 🙂
Cooking time is same as any other pasta. However, it does change the colour of the water unlike other pastas. The pasta turns dark purple when cooked. I found the aroma to be sweet and the texture reminds me a lot of ragi or nachini. The pasta is different than other pastas not only in taste and texture but tends to be sticking in nature. Don’t forget to drizzle some olive oil after straining and avoid over cooking.
Black rice is commonly used in China. It has high level of antioxidants that help fight cancer, heart disease and even diabetics. I found an interesting article describing black rice as a “superfood”.
There is also something known as squid ink pasta which is a coloured pasta made by adding an extract from squids. Do not confuse the black pasta with squid ink pasta though they may look black in colour.
Any type of sauce will go with the black rice pasta. Since the pasta has it’s own flavour and taste unlike other pastas, you can even serve it plain drizzled with some olive oil, pesto and some nuts or make a simple tomato sauce or bechamel sauce.
2.Nutritional Yeast Flakes (vegan cheese)
Nutritional yeast is not only rich in protein but is also nut free and soy free. It is not only vegan but gluten- free also. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and especially rich in B-complex (benefits of B-complex & B12).
Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese. Nutritional yeast can also used by vegetarians who are conscience of animal rennet being used during cheese making process.
Nutritional yeast is made from sugar beet molasses and is different from sugarcane molasses. The molasses is fermented and dried. Do not confuse it to be active dry yeast or baking yeast.
It is a great substitute for cheese. Couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast can enhance your gravies, soups, pastas, popcorn or any vegan dishes. I also found some good information about nutritional yeast here.