amaranth, baking, coconut sugar, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, Uncategorized, walnut

Simple Tasks…Baked Gluten-free Date and Walnut Squares (contains no white sugar, no egg or baking powder/soda)

IMG_6258.JPGGive a child a simple task that involves some work , some fun and they can keep themselves engaged with it for such a long time. Amazing, absolutely wonderful to see it – I asked my son to help me wash, clean and dry some of the baby’s rattles and he spent over an hour doing just that. I might have done it faster – but then I wouldn’t have realised that enjoyment is far better than efficiency  And so I gave the task of mixing the flour with the dates and walnuts to my little boy when I was baking these yum squares.

Baking with Gluten-free flours is not an easy task. It takes a lot of experimenting, a lot of courage and a lot of thought process, to bake something that will be delicious and full of nutrition.

Here is the result of one such delicious baking experiment that took shape when I decided to check out the Grow Fit Gluten-free flour mix.

Chewy, intense and perfect for snacking Baked Gluten-free Date and Walnut Squares (contains no white sugar, no egg or baking powder/soda).

The Flour by itself, is Gluten-Free, Diabetes Friendly, PCOS-Friendly Thyroid-Friendly and Low-Carb. You may need to adapt the other components to ensure that the final baked squares fit in those parameters too.

Flour Link: https://getgrowfit.com/collections/essentials/products/low-carb-gluten-free-roti-flour

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Recipe –

1 1/2 cups of the Gluten-free flour ( mainly contains Bamboo Seed, Amaranth Seed, Soybean, Arrowroot, Oats, Flax Seed)

 

3/4 cups Coconut Sugar

Dates and Walnuts chopped

2 tbsp Honey

3-4 tbsp Ghee/melted butter

Mix the dates and walnuts into the flour and coat them well. Add the coconut sugar into this mix, using a whisk. Add the butter or ghee. Finally add honey to bring the dough together. Press it into a baking tin that is greased and lined with baking paper.

Bake for 15 minutes in a prebaked oven at 175 degrees C. Open it, slice it into squares while it is still soft and then put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes of baking.

Cool and remove the slices.

 

 

 

 

 

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baking, biscuits, cane sugar, chocolate, coconut sugar, cookies, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, liquid jaggery, vegan, vegan baking

The Sounds of the Night and Eggless Gluten-Free Ragi Amaranth Chocolate Biscuits ( Vegan version also)

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It’s 3 weeks since we welcomed our second baby into this world – our little girl.
As it is with newborns – the erratic pattern that sets in with their arrival , seems to be overwhelming at first. You start taking it a day at a time. Then you tell yourself that as a second time mom you are seasoned and will handle it with ease.  Much to your shock you realize that each baby is different ( yes, everyone might say it to you but it’s only when it happens that you realize it )  and while you might be able to handle it a bit better, you still tend to struggle with a lot of the basics.
Then you calm yourself down.  Your mind makes the effort to find the high points in seemingly crazy days that flow so rapidly and fluidly into each other, that you stop seeing the calendar.
I have found those moments of re-connecting with the positive elements around me, in the middle of the nights that I am spending awake. Since those times always seems to go by slowly  in order to bring some calmness to one’s tired soul I have rediscovered the sounds and sights of the night – the sky at 3 AM, the moth flitting under the dim night lamp , the rotating fan’s monotonous and comforting sound, the slight drizzle that falls on the road beyond the curtains, the occasional dog barking up a storm, the quiet breathing of my other child sleeping.  Nothing can break that rhythm of the night sounds – and that is the peace that every new mother clings to, as she remains awake with her newborn baby and manages a slight smile.
The darkness of the night always reminds me of one of the flours I discovered when I moved to Bangalore 5 years ago – Ragi. Apart from being highly nutritious, I realized that being a naturally gluten-free flour it lends itself to so many recipes. So I tried using it along with Amaranth seeds in a biscuit recipe. And these beautifully flavoursome bites emerged as a result of the experiment.
Gluten-Free Eggless Ragi Amaranth Chocolate Biscuits

1 cup organic ragi flour

½ cup amaranth seeds

½ cup organic cane or coconut sugar

100 gms unsalted butter ( for vegan version use peanut / apple butter or oil – texture will change)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp organic liquid jaggery

Add the dry ingredients together and whisk them well. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients and add the liquid jaggery. Mix well and keep in the fridge overnight after cling wrapping.

Shape them into cookies, place them onto a greased tray and bake at 170 degrees C for 20 minutes, in a preheated oven.

 

almond, apple, baking, cake, coconut, coconut sugar, healthy baking, wholewheat

Healthy baking exists….and a delicious Wholewheat Apple-Coconut cake ( with coconut sugar)

IMG_6000I had started this post on a separate note. Then something prompted me to re-write it. So here goes…

About evolving times but stagnating taste buds. About oscillating between wellness and rules. Some of the views that I hear as a healthy baker are – healthy baking is a fad or what we consume through our traditional bakes is not harmful or even better, there is nothing called healthy baking.

And in my mind – all I am thinking is, even the best of us can sometimes get trapped in the confines of our own minds, get tricked by our own taste buds, get slowed down by our own lack of courage.

Yes, healthy bakes are an acquired taste, it does not happen overnight, it comes to us slowly. But it only comes to those who approach it with an open mind. Have you given yourself enough opportunities to open your mind? Forget a big change, just try this to start with – instead of beginning with a thought that it can’t taste delicious, tell yourself that it will taste different.  Possible?

Let’s just try and remember that when the world evolves at the pace that it is now, everything has a disruption which leads to the next phase of growth- The same is happening with rule-based baking. We owe it to our family and friends to bake with healthier ingredients, because our lifestyles and the quality of what we are consuming has changed. Rules are good, but work with rules in a way that you put your wellness first and rules second. Not the other way round

So what’s YOUR next step ?

Start with this simple healthy cake – take it one step at a time 🙂

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Wholewheat Apple-Coconut Cake ( with coconut sugar)

1 1/2 cups wholewheat flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2-3 tbsp honey

1 tsp grated cinnamon powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 large apple peeled, cored, grated

1/2 cup grated coconut

3 eggs

100 gms butter

Chopped almonds

Method

Preheat the oven at 170 C. Grease and dust a 7 X 7 inches square pan. Beat the butter, coconut sugar and honey well till it becomes creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift the flour, bp and cinnamon together. Add it slowly to the batter while beating at low speed.

Fold in the apple, coconut and almonds gently. No beating is needed at this stage. Pour it into the tin. Bake at the same temperature for 45 minutes or till it becomes golden brown.

Remove from the oven, let it cool off entirely before de-moulding.

 

apple, barley flour, coconut sugar, eggless, healthy baking, oats, pie

4/11 City- Cologne/Koln, 4/11 Healthy Bake: German Apple Pie in a Barley-Oats Crust

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Cologne / Koln, November 2008: the only thing I knew about it was that this was the first European city I was going to visit, it sounded exotic and I was going to be attending a conference by Chemicals organizations there. That was it.

Strange as it may sound, my excitement was centered around meeting my colleagues from the US, South America and Europe.  Not around the city. It is not that I was under-estimating the loveliness of the city. It was just that at that time in my life, I thought work should be an all-consuming part of one’s life.

I am one of those people whose senses are more heightened after a sleepless night!

And so driving into Cologne immediately after landing at Frankfurt, was probably what made me absorb the gorgeous beauty of the city – there were streets that were actually cobbled and people strolling in a leisurely manner with little dogs on the side-walks in the middle of a busy week-day !  At the heart of the city towering above all else was the Cologne Cathedral – not only is it a resplendent architectural wonder, since it stands next to the river the entire picture is a sight to watch, almost like a painting.

I walked through the city since that is what the hotel staff suggested and I would recommend that to everyone – it is the only way to absorb the sights and sounds. But seeing the quaint ( and quite modern too!) trams go past, was enough to tempt me to climb into one of them for a short ride. It seems to be a common form of transport through the city and it took me back to the time I used to take tram rides in Calcutta.

In a short 2 day work visit, this was all I could manage, but the city’s charm is irresistible-it lies somewhere between being a small city to a large town, steeped in German tradition and yet somewhat welcoming towards those like me who wandered through it before moving onto other places.

So for a city as multi-layered as Cologne, the German Apple Pie, a comforting bake with complex flavours is what comes to mind 🙂

I tried it on one of my walks and this is my healthier version of it in a buttery Barley-Oats crust with a delicious apple-cinnamon filling, topped with caramel sauce and baked. It is entirely free of refined white flour/all purpose flour and the sauce uses coconut sugar.

Ingredients –

  • 3 large apples, peeled, sliced and stewed with 2 tsp of freshly grated cinnamon, in 1 1/2 cups of water.
  • For the crust – 1 cup barley flour, 1/2 cup powdered oats, 1/2 cup wholewheat flour, 100 grams butter. Rub the cold butter into the flour mix, cling wrap it and keep it in the fridge for at least 5 hours. Blind bake the crust at 180 degrees C just before making the pie, for 20-25 minutes.
  •  For the caramel sauce – 1 tbsp barley flour, 3 tbsp coconut sugar and 20 gms butter. Plus the liquid from the stewed apples.  Melt the butter, add the sugar and stir it well till it caramelizes. Add the flour while stirring well so that it doesnt become lumpy. Finally add the liquid that is drained out from the stewed apples.

Method –

If the above three elements are ready, the method is just about assembling them and baking. So layer the baked crust with sliced stewed apples.

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To use

Pour the sauce uniformly and then place the pie into the oven to bake for 30 minutes, at 180 degrees C.

Serve warm as is or with ice cream !

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chocolate, coconut, coconut sugar, community impact, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, tart, Uncategorized

What Ovenderful has been upto and the Gluten Free, Eggless Dark Chocolate Ragi Tarts with Coconut Cream

You might be wondering why it has been so quiet at my end. Well, it has been a very busy month in many ways. The reason for the same is that I have been involved with 4 events all of which are unique and special.

I loved being a part of each of these experiences and from all the invitations that I receive, why I choose to be a part of these is entirely because of their uniqueness and the depth they added to my own journey as a healthy baker and blogger. They opened up a new and wider perspective for me as an individual and Ovenderful as a social enterprise.

Here’s a quick look at 2 of those 4 events ( the remaining 2 will be covered  –

 

  • Panel Discussion by Mom Bloggers: Bloggers Adda by Mums and stories at Bhive Workspace in HSR, Bangalore, was about bringing together 4 moms, including me who were blogging in different spheres and how they had been successful at it.

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See more pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/mumsandstories/posts/682771135219738)

Audio Link : https://soundcloud.com/radioactivecr90-4mhz/active-bangalore-mums-and-stories-a-panel-discussion-on-how-moms-can-create-successful-blogs

  • Collaborative Baking for Kritagyata Trust

Over 35 bakers came together to bake for 3000 children in 27 government schools in rural Bangalore, to make Children’s Day a special one for them. When Aruna, who is the Founder of Kritagyata Trust got in touch I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

So here is what we did ! I think Children’s Day had a new and special meaning for me this year simply because I believe at some level we were able to touch lives, unknown to us so far and yet find a connect that is so heart-warming.

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As a tribute to these two events both of which helped me reach back within my soul to rediscover what I truly love – writing ( and hence blogging ) and baking for community impact, here is an earthy, close-to-the-roots kind of recipe :

Gluten Free and Egg Free Dark Chocolate Ragi Tarts filled with Coconut cream and grated dark chocolate ( Baked for an event that I will share in my next post) 

(Picture Credit – https://www.facebook.com/IndiaPhotoArtist?fref=ts)

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For the tart –

1 cup ragi flour
1/4 cup jowar flour
60 grams cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup  Coconut sugar

1/4 cup Dark chocolate ( grated )

2 tbsp cocoa powder

The mixing process is exactly like it is for the pastry crust of tarts – Mix the flours, coconut sugar, dark chocolate and cocoa. Then slowly rub cold butter into this mix till it looks like bread crumbs or comes together. Keep some milk in the freezer to use incase you need to bring the dough together. Cling wrap this and keep it for 2-3 hours in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes prior to baking. When the dough is ready to be baked, take it out and press it into muffin trays to give it the shape. Bake them for 20 minutes till it becomes crisp.

For the filling – Mix together some fresh coconut cream, liquid jaggery, grated coconut and grated dark chocolate. The proportions will depend on how sweet you want it, how ‘coconuty’ and how liquid in texture !

You can use any other filling of your choice too 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cake, cane sugar, caramel, coconut sugar, liquid jaggery, wholewheat

The Caramel Cake with bold flavours of 3 natural sweeteners !

 

Just like you have Triple chocolate cakes or brownies or cookies, is there a way to have different natural sweeteners in one single cake? Tempted to pick a chocolate cake for this experiment just so that the chocolate masks the flavour if something was to go wrong? Continue reading “The Caramel Cake with bold flavours of 3 natural sweeteners !”

baking, cane sugar, coconut sugar, liquid jaggery

Healthy Sweeteners for Baking

 

Its time for the festivities to set in as they already have in all parts of the country – and as we all know, this is truly the best time of the year. Having worked in healthy baking for several years now, I am absolutely certain that while refined white sugar forms an integral part of so many sweets, it has almost zero nutrition value. Continue reading “Healthy Sweeteners for Baking”

butter-free, coconut sugar, creme caramel, flourless, liquid jaggery

2 / 11 CITY – COLOMBO , 2 / 11 HEALTHY BAKE – “Watalappam(n)” inspired Creme-Caramel

2006 – Exactly 10 years ago I visited Sri Lanka, Colombo and then Beruwala. Long before Peter Kuruvita made it a ‘fashionable’ destination to visit, through his culinary series on TLC. Continue reading “2 / 11 CITY – COLOMBO , 2 / 11 HEALTHY BAKE – “Watalappam(n)” inspired Creme-Caramel”

almond, apple, baking, cake, coconut, coconut sugar, healthy baking, wholewheat

Healthy Baking exists and a delicious Wholewheat Apple – Coconut cake(with coconut sugar)

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I had started this post on another note. But then something prompted me to rewrite it in another way, to share a perspective – about different kinds of opinions,  about breaking internal barriers, about evolving times and then some more.

It’s interesting to hear many schools of thought from various bakers – how healthy baking is a fad or what we consume through our traditional bakes is not harmful or even better, there is nothing called healthy baking.

Has happened to me as well – healthy bakes are an acquired taste, they come to you over a period of time. Have you given it that time ? As I think back to my own approach, I know I can say this with absolute conviction – even the best of us can sometimes get trapped in the confines of our own minds, get tricked by our own taste buds, get slowed down by our own lack of courage.

But what if, just what if we opened the window of our mind a wee bit – If we simply make a small change? Instead of beginning with the mindset that they can’t be yum, let’s just re-align our minds to understand that they will be different. That’s it. You have taken the most important step.

 

Because you know what – closed minds will always lead to redundancies – no matter what area of work or passion you follow. Because the world is evolving and if we keep following rule-based baking and do not experiment with healthier ingredients, guess who loses – our family and friends, because they deserve healthier options and as the bakers it is our responsibility to make that change. Yes rules are good, but work with rules in a way that you put your wellness first and rules second. Not the other way round:)

So what’s YOUR next step ?

Blame it on your present lifestyle? You may have done that already.
Change food habits to suit present lifestyle – Have you done this yet?

Assure yourself of how we have grown up with these ingredients? You may have done that already.

Tell yourself that what you eat as you ‘grow older’ should change too –– Have you done this yet?

Oh but you eat all that stuff only of special occasions –You may have done that already.

Oh but you love your tea biscuits daily, so should you change that-– Have you done this yet?

So here’s a recipe to ease you into Healthy Baking (it does exist!)

Wholewheat Apple-Coconut Cake

1 1/2 cups of wholewheat flour

1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

1 large apple, peeled and grated

1/2 cup of grated fresh coconut

1/2 cup of coconut sugar

2-3 tbsp of honey

3 eggs

100 grams butter

1 tsp of cinnamon ( freshly grated)

Almonds ( chopped)

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Method – 

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C.

Sift wholewheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder and keep aside. Grease and dust a 7×7 square pan.

Mix the butter, honey and coconut sugar with a whisk first then beat them well so that it becomes creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.

Add the sifted flour-bp-cinnamon mix into the tin. Lastly fold the grated apple, coconut and almonds into the batter gently. No need to beat at this stage.

Transfer it into the tin, bake at 170 C for 45 minutes, until it becomes golden brown. Cool it well before de-moulding it.