Quinoa and Chia Seed Granola – Sugar, Oil and Dairy Free!

Quinoa and Chia seeds granola

Its been some time since my last post. I haven’t ventured much into the kitchen.

Or when I have, I was not in the mood to stop to photograph.

Quinoa and Chia seeds granola
Till this morning, I decided I wanted something crunchy on my oatmeal. I have to eat Oatmeal everyday. A large bowl of it. To aid lactation. It gets boring after a while. This crunchy fruit and nut granola was the simple topping that made me have that bowl.

There is nothing artificial about this. Just oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts and applesauce. Yes, applesauce instead of oil that is traditionally used. I got this idea from David Lebovitz Best Granola Recipe. apple sauce makes it crisp and extra crunchy.I added quinoa and chia seeds to the usual recipe for an extra protein boost.

There is nothing more easier and hands free to prepare than this.

Pre-heat oven, mix ingredients and toast for 40 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Top over ice-cream, yogurt, oatmeal or just eat it as is for an afternoon snack. Crunchy, tasty, healthy. And so very Californian.

Give it a try tonight. Am sure your tomorrow’s bowl of oatmeal will thank you for it!

Quinoa and Chia seeds granola

Quinoa and Chia Seed Granola Recipe

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup applesauce

1. Pre-heat oven to 300 F.

  1. In a bowl mix all the ingredients. Layer them on a baking tray or cookie sheet. Bake for 40 minutes turning every 10 minutes or so for even baking, till it is deep golden brown.

Remove and cool in the pan. Store in an airtight container.

A No Fail Challah

No Fail Challah

Varun goes to a Jewish Pre-school.

Not technically a Jewish preschool but one that is affiliated to Jewish Church. He is in the secular class but every Friday, they have the Rabbi bless the Challah. Apparently the kids all get a piece for lunch.

One Friday, he came home and told me he didn’t get the Challah.

I had made a whole wheat Challah earlier but it was a bit dense. I wanted a no fail recipe that would last a couple of days without being too dense. So, I reached out to the broader mothers group that I belong to here and asked mom’s for a recipe that could be made without too much effort or planning.

No Fail Challah

This is a recipe that is used by a Jewish Center here and the kids in the class help make it.

We tried the recipe last evening. Between the two raises and bake time it was almost 9:30 pm when we had it baked.

I somehow managed to let Varun not gobble it up while it was still warm. He wouldn’t go to bed till it was baked.

First thing he asks for today after waking up is “Challah”.
I think he probably dreamt about Challah.

Mom, Dad and Varun enjoyed it very much. Varun even took some in his lunch box.

The braids make it a beautiful looking loaf. It was light with a nice thin lacquered crust.

By the time I woke up and reached for the loaf, half of it was gone. Devoured.

It turned out to be that good.

Baking bread is like meditating. There is kneading, waiting for bread to rise, punching it down and then waiting again. The shaping of Challah gives a unique twist. It is an exercise in patience and love. And especially with Jewish breads I love their tradition of seeking blessing for the family while prepping and baking the bread.

Give it a try this weekend. It is great as it, buttered up or with some jam. It makes for   fun activity with kids.

And it makes a scrumptious  french toast, if you manage to have any leftovers!

No Fail Challah

Note: I raised the bread 3 times in a warm 170 F preheated oven which was then turned off. Alternately, you can keep it in front of a heater vent or in a microwave in which you have steamed a cup of water for 30 secs.

In school, they bake the bread after first 30 minute raise and it works out as well.

No Fail Challah Recipe 

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/6 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar. 
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4  cup cold water
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups of All Purpose flour (add more if too sticky) 
  • 1 egg + 1 table spoon water ( For egg wash)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil for greasing the baking sheet
1. In a small bowl, add yeast to the water to proof the yeast. Add sugar and set it aside till the yeast activates and foams.
2. In a large bowl, add oil, salt, honey , boiling water . Stir to mix well. Add cold water and then mix again.
3. Add eggs one at a time to the water-oil mixture and beat well.
4. Add the yeast to the water-oil-egg mix and then add 3 cups of flours. Mix well. Add more in 1/4 cup increments if the dough is too sticky. If it is moderately sticky resist the temptation to add more dough.
5. Knead for 5 – 7 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Cover with oiled cling wrap and a thick towel and then set this aside in a warm draft – free place to rise for about 30 minutes.(See Note above for where to keep the dough to rise)
6. Punch down the dough once doubled and then knead for a minute. Cover and set it aside for another raise in a warm- draft free place for about 30 – 45 minutes.
7. Once again when risen, knead the dough. Form 3 dough balls of equal size. Form a long “snake” or “rope” of each dough.Braid the dough. Cover and set aside for 30 – 45 minutes on a well-greased cookie sheet.
8. About 20 minutes before baking,paint the egg wash over the braids. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
Bake the Challah for 35- 40 minutes till golden on top.Let cool. Slice thickly and enjoy with a dab of butter, jam or with eggs!

St Patricks Day Parade and Smoothie (aka Green Smoothie)

St Patricks Day Parade

I  am behind schedule. It was St Patrick’s Day last Monday.

With a new baby, sleepless nights and constant nursing its hard to keep track of days; let alone weeks.

Nevertheless here I am posting about  St Patrick’s Day Parade that Vipul took Varun to last weekend. It was a MardiGras meets Halloween meets St Patrick Day.

When they reached the corner of 2nd and Market Street, Varun, who had been earlier to Chinese New Year Parade, asked loudly, “Where are the Chinese?”

Red faced, Vipul tried to distract him. Luckily, it wasn’t too hard to distract him as the parade with colorful floats, bands and dance troupes started making their appearance. Folks threw beads and candy at the crowd which were happily collected and donned.

Varun marched alongside the bands and played imaginary drums.

He had a ball.

St Patricks Day Parade

St Patricks Day Parade

St Patricks Day Parade

St Patricks Day Parade

St Patricks Day Parade

St Patricks Day Parade

At home, Vihaan and I stayed put. I didn’t want to take him out in the crowd. I couldn’t really have a beer so I made myself a Green Smoothie to celebrate.

St Patricks Day Smoothie

Healthy, green, delicious to boot. Not too sweet or tart. Perfect.

I would be lying if I say you should have it instead of beer but if you can’t/don’t drink and yet need something green, then this will do. Or at least will work for times when you can’t drink beer (like breakfast).

St Patrick’s Day Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 ripe Kiwi , peeled
  • 1/2 ripe Banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen Spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup frozen peaches, roughly chopped
  1. Add everything to a blender and whirl till everything is smooth.

Serve immediately.

Cornmeal Pumpkin Anytime Muffins ( No Added Sugar or Butter!)

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins

I know, I know the last couple of recipes have been very indulgent. Creamy chocolate pudding and Dahi- Vada. What can I say, I really love them.

Cheese, whole milk, elaborate process, whisking. This recipe is an exact antidote to that.

One pot prep. Healthy. No added sugar. And Varun approved to boot.

Cornmeal, pumpkin and applesauce come together in these muffins to create a naturally sweetened muffin which is great for breakfast with eggs ( or just coffee), after school snack or with chili for dinner.

It has fiber, good carbs and protein.

And did I say no oil, sugar or butter.

They freeze well in an airtight container and are perfect to be made on weekend when your toddler naps or when he wants to help in the kitchen and you are ok with a little mess.

Microwave when needed for a minute for a healthy snack with a pat of peanut butter or as is.

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons sugar for dusting on top (optional, incase you need things to be a little sweet)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons chopped almonds, walnuts for crunchy topping.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper cups.

2. In the meantime, mix all the dry ingredients ( cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl or a stand mixer.

Dump pumpkin puree, applesauce and egg in the same bowl.

Mix well for couple of minutes ( by hand) or a minute, if using a mixer on low-speed.

3. Scoop the mixture in paper cups.

Dust with sugar. Sprinkle chopped nuts.

4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or frezee for later.

Pear Ginger Smoothie

Pear and Ginger Smoothie

I am on a smoothie kick these days. Mostly because they are so easy to make.

Once I have fruits and veggies on hand, it’s just mix and match and then whirl in my Magic bullet. Single container. Easy cleanup. Tasty. And filling.

I learnt recently that home-made smoothies are healthier than juicing as we retain the fiber in the smoothie v/s discarding the pulp. The fiber makes them filling and low glycemic index.

I mean seriously whats not to love.

I saw pear and ginger combination on Pinterest recently. Had it on hand and this came about.

If a recipe can be so-called, then here it is.

P.S. If you are looking for more smoothie inspiration, just check out Pinterest Smoothies board. There are tips and tricks, combinations and beautiful photos.

Pear and Ginger Smoothie

Pear Ginger Smoothie Recipe

  • 1/2 red pear , washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, chilled
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
  • 1/2″  knob of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

1. Swirl everything in the blender till well mixed.

Serve immediately.

Are you on a smoothie kick? Which flavors are your all time favorites???