3 reasons why we should distribute healthy cupcakes to kids to give a moment of joy when the poverty that surrounds them cannot be removed with just one baked good ? Well, there are more than 3 and very good ones at.
A couple of conference calls related to work on the project front and the Ovenderful front , a quick visit to the swimming pool to take the little boy whose holidays have started in full flow , a little walk on the way for his little sister, a set of articles written and submitted and booom – half the day is gone ! And just as you ponder over how it’s 12 noon already and feel a bit worried about how you didn’t realise how time flies , your crazy day is made – a friend calls and tells you that the only way to describe your cookies is by saying ‘Your food makes me happy, truly’ 🙂
And you are so much at peace with these busy days that fly past, because being bone tired is good. When you are happy with what you do. Being fatigued is good. When you have such a lot of happiness that it starts reflecting in your food !
To more such days
On that note, here is a lovely and simple recipe for a quiche we make very often at home. Baking different quiches is yet another thing that makes me very happy.
1 cup milk ,
1 TSP paprika ,
salt and basil as per taste.
Blanched and chopped spinach
Crumbled cottage cheese
For the Crust – 1 cup whole wheat flour, chilled water as per what is needed, 50 gms unsalted butter cold , 1/2 tsp and 1 TSP thyme. Mix the flour ,thyme and salt. Rub the butter into it to form bread like crumbs. Slowly add chilled water only as much as is necessary to bring the dough together. Wrap in cling film. Store for at least 2 hours in the fridge. Take it out. Roll and place in quiche pan and blind bake for 20 mins.
For the filling –
Beat the eggs well along with the milk and the spices. Keep it aside. Blanch and chop spinach and crumble some cottage cheese. Proportions for all these will depend on what you want more or less of. You can add onions too if you want. Grate half a cube of cheese. Add the spinach and cottage as the first layer at the base of the prebaked crust. Add the grated cheese. Pour the egg mix uniformly. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 160 degrees C.
Every so often one thinks and over-thinks how to manage a crazy schedule with two little kids – who are little enough to find joy in the most ordinary things in life together. Yet a little apart in age to move onto different things that hold their interest.
My son is now in the phase where he loves the story of ‘Black Beauty’, the horse and his life journey. And we are reading it over and over again. And we are carrying it to bed so that he can hug the book and sleep. My daughter is mainly treating books as a chew toy when no one is watching and at times trying to turn the pages to discover what’s inside.
And yet, he decided to keep away his book and try and flip through the pages of his sister’s book with her. She in turn , despite being so tiny has figured out that when we are reading out his story book, she can also actually join in by listening !
As adults there are so many times when we refuse to give up what we love doing just for a few hours to try and be with the other person and do what they truly want to do.
But children ? They can drop what they enjoy doing with unbelievable ease, and move onto another thing that makes the other person happy and immediately get engrossed in that.
May we all find the quality to be in the moment , be involved and be engrossed in what someone else loves doing – even if it is not what we might like.
Happy week ahead to all of you 🙂
For this time, here is a recipe that is super simple. It’s quick to mix and bake. Contains loads of spinach and some great spices . And a hint of Millet flour . It’s a great recipe to add to your collection of mealtime bakes and get more spinach into your child’s foodplate !
Pick up a fork and dig into these yum crustless glutenfree , butterfree Spinach and Caramelized Onion Quiche.
1 bunch of spinach washed and chopped finely
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 large onion sliced thinly and caramelized till they are brown
1 cup milk
2 tbsp jowar/sorghum flour
1 tbsp oil
Seasoned with salt, paprika and thyme as per your requirement.
Method – Beat the eggs nicely and add the seasoning, as well as the chopped garlic. Add milk and beat well. Add the jowar flour and oil, mix well. Add the onions and spinach. Mix well.
Pour it into ramekins or tart tins. Sprinkle some cheese ( optional). Bake for 20-25 minutes at 175 degrees C.
For the first 12 years of my school life , I went to a school that did not have its own field. It was the best school that I could have gone to – inclusive , close-knit, encouraging and warm. But we didn’t have a field that we could call our own – our Sports days were conducted in the field of another school. Our ‘heats’ and practice races were conducted in a large maidan / public ground. All that came rushing back to me as I sat in the pavilion and watched the field being prepared for the Sports Meet for my son’s class.
The way he would come and describe his field practice each day lifted my heart. The way he spoke about how they were running the races , made me smile immediately. The thrill of being in an open space , running a race , with your friends , the march-past , the flags , the dust-covered sports shoes. A child who didn’t care that the field didnt belong to her school when she ran. A child who didn’t care that the field did belong to his school when he ran.
It was as if Calcutta 1988 had merged into Bangalore 2018, seamlessly, from one childhood to another. From one field that we couldnt call our own, to one that we could.
We just loved the thrill of running a race, then and now
Alongside that we also love a Butterfree , white sugar-free , Gluten-free Brownie that melts in the mouth. Yup, that’s what a treat should be.
Superfood Amaranth ( if you didn’t know it already, it is my favourite flour ) in the form of grains mingled with dark chocolate – who says we need sugar or butter to make life happier ? 🙂
- 170g Dark Chocolate ( I used Bournville- 50% Dark)
- 50 ml Sunflower Oil
- 80 g Raw Sugar or Coconut Sugar
- 50g Sorghum / Jowar Flour
- 25g Amaranth Seeds , coarsely ground into a flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
Mix the chocolate and oil, and melt over a double boiler. Let it cool. Whisk together the sugar, the flours, baking powder. Preheat oven to 170°C.
Beat the eggs well and then add them to the melted chocolate-oil mix. Add the vanilla. Beat well. Pour the batter into your brownie pan or square tin which is lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.
Gearing up to start 2018
The cupboard can definitely be cleaner but that’s the best I can manage with a 5 year old and a 6 month old acquiring new personalities in 2018 – while one has discovered that she has a voice and she must use it at the highest pitch possible , the other has realized that he still prefers his sister’s rattles to his puzzles ( as is the case with all siblings !) .
But then 2018 was never going to be about a cleaner baking cupboard it is about more and more opportunities to dig into it and try out all that it contains !
One such opportunity arose when I had to think through a healthy ingredient, for my healthy baking community bakers on Facebook, Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community, to bake with, for the month of January. And guess what – its Coconut !
Here is my first take ( or rather bake!) – a lovely Wholewheat Coconut Almond cake with coconut sugar. The thick sauce on top is a mix of Coconut cream, coconut powder and some almonds.
1 1/4 cup wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 dessicated coconut
1/2 ground almonds
3 / 4 cup coconut sugar
100 gms butter
1/2 cup milk
Preheat the oven at 165 degrees C for 10 minutes. Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the eggs and mix, one at a time. Add the ground almonds and dessicated coconut, and mix well. Add the sifted flour and milk, alternately.
Transfer into an 8 inch round pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes and allow it to rest before removing from the pan.
For the topping, all I did was mix coconut cream and some coconut powder. I am fine with the mild sweetness that the cream lends. But if you want it sweeter, add a healthy sweetener of your choice.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup Oats ( Rolled)
Jeera and Kasoori Methi, as much as you prefer
Salt as per your preference
Homemade garam masala, as per your preference
Red chilly powder , as per your preference
4 tablespoons of oil + 2 / 3 tbsp of ghee ( to make a vegan version, exclude ghee and add only oil)
Warm water to bring the dough together
Mix together whole wheat flour, oats( I ground them roughly), salt, jeera, kasoori methi in a big bowl.
Add the oil and ghee, into the above mix and rub into it till it turns crumby. Add only as much warm water is needed to bring the dough together.
Preheat oven to 165 degrees Centigrade and prepare your biscuit tray.
Roll out the dough as thin as possible. Cut out the crackers with a cookie cutter. Arrange them on the baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes till it turns crispy. Cool it off and store.
Give 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
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.
I took my son to a place close to home, where the children were going to spend a couple of hours working on a patch of garden. I went with the idea of getting him to expend his energy since the summer vacations are on. As some of you might be aware, a restless 4 1/2 year old with unused energy is a different kind of person altogether !
For the first 15 minutes I simply looked on and prayed for him to remain engaged for the entire duration of 2 hours. I wondered if I had done the right thing – gardening and connecting with the soil, as well as nature are immensely therapeutic but will he want to do it again?
But as I kept watching him, my mind was whirling with thoughts….The world we live in – we have to teach our kids to play in mud, to wonder about the magical creatures living in the soil, to touch leaves without hesitation, to feel the wonder of planting a seed, to squeal with delight when a caterpillar crawls on their little hand.
And when you do that, the world we live in changes…A little each time, because we start removing the layers of indoor dust that’s settled into our own souls as well, to uncover the glistening beauty of outdoors.
That’s what nature does for us – puts us back right where we belong.
And by the end of those 2 hours, I think both of us had been put back where we belong – more me, than him. Because for a child, it is so much easier to sense that belonging. But for a jaded adult, it takes a while to revisit the deep recesses of the soul, scrape off the dirt and uncover the roots.
On that note, let me share something that is earthy in flavour and contains ancient grains.
Grow Fit has some excellent flour mixes and the first one “Ancient Grain Low Carb Atta” that I tried has yielded excellent results. I was very excited to try it in both, savoury and sweet bakes.
It is diabetic-friendly, PCOS-friendly, Low Carb and High Protein, containing Quinoa and Amaranth.
What I baked with it ( also eggless, bp/bs free) –
1. Kasoori Methi- Ajwain Matthi / Mathri ( butter-free)
2. Chocolate Almond Cookies
They turned out so crisp and crunchy in texture, that I am looking forward to baking many more things with this flour super soon.
Baked Kasoori Methi- Ajwain Matthi / Mathri ( butter-free)
1 cup of the Low-Carb Flour, Ancient Grain
Kasoori Methi and Ajwain as per your taste preference
2-3 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp red chilly powder, 1-2 tsp homemade garam masala
3-4 tbsp oil
Hot water for kneading
Mix all the dry ingredients well. Add the oil and mix with hand. Use hot water a bit at a time and then mix well. Knead it well and leave it side for 10 minutes. Shape it into rounds and bake at 180 degrees C, for 20 minutes or until crisp.
And talking about the earth brings me to my recipe.
Festive season is approaching and so are the advertisements about what to gift, why this time of the year is special and very importantly – how you need to look your absolute best. Seriously?
Recently I saw an ad, in which a mother is talking about how her child loves to pull her cheeks and after using a certain product the child has been telling her how soft her cheeks have become. My son saw it and promptly asked me – “Do you want me to get that for you Mamma?” He is 4 1/2 years old. I looked at him and asked if he didn’t like my cheeks as is ! He looked amused and responded that they were already soft, but if I wanted them to become even softer, like the Aunty on TV.
Well, where am I going with this ? Here’s my take – we really need to stop such emphasis on physical appearance. And let us stop when we can. Let us draw lines. Let us define boundaries on this one. To not encourage our children when they feel the need to appreciate what we look like. Yes, I want to be well-dressed and looking my absolute best. But I would not want my child to focus on how I can “improve” my physical appearance.
At some base level, it is imperative that a child knows and understands that softer cheeks are good. Infact they are great. But only if one already has them 🙂 Shift the direction of their thoughts to being proud of what you look like already. That will promote a positive body image in them as well.
Bring the festivities on , on that note ! And bake away – a recipe that closely resembles elements of our traditional kheer / rice pudding !
Mace and Saffron flavoured Italian Rice cake – with Almonds ( butterless, no all purpose flour , made with Arborio rice)
600 ml milk
1 tsp zest of lemon
150 grams of risotto rice ( preferably Arborio)
100 gms chopped almonds ( you can use any other nuts that you prefer but those which will go well with this flavour are alnuts, pinenuts, pistachios as well)
3 eggs, separated
85 grams caster sugar
1 tsp finely powder Mace
1 tsp saffron threads ( soaked in 1 tsp milk)
Cook the rice in the milk and the lemon zest till it is cooked well and soft. This should take about 40 minutes and the mixture will be creamy and thick. While it cooks ensure that you stir it well so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Shift this mix into a bowl to cool off well. Prepare a 9 inch springform cake tin by greasing and lining it. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius. Toast the chopped almonds in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Beat the egg yolks one by one into the rice mixture using the whisk or wooden spoon. Beat the caster sugar into this mix and add the chopped almonds, saffron threads soaked in milk and the powdered mace.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and gently fold them into the rice mixture. Put this final mixture into the prepared springform cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin and then cover it and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Unmould the cake and remove the lining when you want to serve it the next day and dust with icing sugar. Slice and serve.
There is a moment of calm at the point where a super tiring day ends and a sleepless night begins – that moment is this picture for me. Football buddies don’t need to have the same shoes or shoes at all. They don’t need to speak the same language. They don’t need to wear similar clothes. They don’t need to carry where they come from to the field – they need to simply carry who they are. They only need to have the same passion. They only need to discover the sense of rhythm, that works for them and their game. And that is the game that is in play, with a great sense of concentration between the two boys – the one of the right is my son, the one on the left is the little boy we met at Richmond Park, when we were playing there.
On that note of carrying who they are from within, here is one fruit that carries its depth of flavours in all bakes – Orange.
I did a batch of Semolina/Sooji Cupcakes with Kinu, which is a variant of orange but more intense in flavour:)
Here is the recipe for you to try out.
- 100 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind/orange rind
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups semolina
- 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
- ½ cup milk
- add a little vanilla extract
- For the Kinu syrup (check the sugar in the syrup to ensure that when combined with the cupcakes it does not become excessively sweet) 1/4-1/2 cup caster sugar Almost 1/2 cup lemon or kinu juice, strained
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line cupcake tray with liners.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, orange rind and sugar on high speed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating between each addition.
Stir in semolina, ww flour and milk.
Spread mixture into cupcake liners. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the kinu syrup: Place sugar, kinu juice and a little cold water in a saucepan over low heat.
Pour half the syrup over cupcakes by make tiny insertions to allow it to get absorbed. Let it stand for about 15 minutes and then serve.
I 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 🙂
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
100 gms butter
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.
As a mother, let me share with you that it has been a very crazy yet happy half-year: filled with many worried nights, many days of undiluted joy, lots of second guessing myself as a mother and frustrations, of trying to weigh mother’s instinct against experience and expertise, of trying to wonder how does one need to behave when one becomes a mother..but most definitely a half-year with not a single dull moment in it.
But you know what – Thank you for being patient and waiting for me to grow into my role as your Mom…sometimes
I look at you and it seems to me that you understand what I say, you understand when I say I have two other babies –Gunna Masi and Elsu, and smile back. You understand when I say I won’t pamper you silly, but that doesn’t make me love you any less.
Most importantly you understand that seeing how you do on well-defined milestones is not for your mother, for they seem like a checklist to tick on….it is the uncharted adventures that are for me…
Like our first flight together alone means more than when you first rolled over, or our first road trip, our first visit to the children’s home, how you and Elsa started growing comfortable with each other’s presence or even our daily debates about why sleeping in the night takes precedence over playing away!
So here’s not to more milestones…but to more ADVENTURES, my son ! The adventurous journey that started when I became a mother..”
Sharing a recipe that marks the first break that I am taking from baking on order, as the Chief Baker of Ovenderful, ever since it started in November 2013.
Wholewheat Butter-free Egg-Free Chocolate Almond Cake
1 cup wholewheat flour
3/4 cup cane sugar
½ cup curd
½ cup milk
½ cup boiling water
¼ cup any flavourless oil that is safe for baking
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( use great quality cocoa powder, it makes a world of difference)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped almonds and some additional for topping the cake with
Grease and dust an 7/8 inch round cake tin. I used a springform one, but it is not necessary to use only that one. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Sift together the wholewheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder .
Beat the curd, cane sugar, oil and milk. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ones and mix well.
Slowly add boiling water and mix well ( just use a whisk, no need to beat it) to get a smooth batter. Add the chopped almonds and dark chocolate chunks, fold them into the batter gently. Pour in the baking tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
Let it cool off entirely before you remove it from the tin.