I wasn't a fussy kid when it comes to food. I pretty much ate and drank everything. If it tasted sweet, it became my favorite. Those days there was no skimping of sugar, nor exotic ingredients. Just the stuff you get from the grocer's round the corner. The avocadoes are bought from the weekly trip to the Sunday market. Me and mom would leave home in the morning and take the half an hour bus ride to the market. I had a love/hate relationship with it. I love going to the market for fresh fruits. I'd get a mangosteen, peel it and devour it's sweet flesh. Or a get a thambili (It's called king coconut, a variety of coconut only used for it's sweet water) to quench my thirst under a burning sun. Mom would haggle and buy mangoes,bananas and avocadoes by the dozen.
I hated the chaos in the market, To get to the main market complex where everything was well kept and neat, you have to pass a long route of dirty and muddy roads, vendors with their wares everywhere, the noise and jostling crowd. Not to mention the sun burning down on you.


After all the purchases, we would lug the bags heavy with the fruits and vegetables, me carrying the lightest load, passing all the chaos again, to the bus stop to wait for the bus to head back home. The mini bus would come after ages, leaning heavily to a side. We get in the bus, stand with our bags wedged between our feet, hold onto whatever we could find, seats, ceiling railings and continue our journey back home. 
The first thing mom would do after a wash is to make a smoothie out of the fruits we bought. Mostly it will be mangoes or avocadoes. The avocadoes will be blended with milk, sugar and the glasses topped with a scoop of ice cream, if we're lucky. That tasted divine after all the hard work and I'd lick the glass clean and go for seconds from whoever has not yet finished their glass.


I think that made me really love avocadoes and I haven't had it any other way. Till recently after the avocado craze in the internet. I'd been using sliced avos on my toast. When the craving hits I'd scoop it out and have it with goat cheese and a sprinkle of sea salt. Or with a drizzle of honey to satisfy a sweet tooth.  Or make this green smoothie. It comes handy as a snack mid-morning.


Unlike those days, now I have a few ready-to-eat Haas avocadoes stocked in my fridge all the time. It's summer here and when I want to have a quick breakfast I make this smoothie. I add protein powder to make this a complete meal. I use hemp protein powder and it's a lovely dark shade of green. You could use any protein powder or collagen. I think plain or vanilla would work best but the flavored varieties will change the taste and color.  I have used almond milk, but any non dairy milk would work fine. A bit of grated ginger adds a nice kick and balances out the flavors nicely.




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Avocado Green Smoothie
A complete breakfast smoothie with spinach and hemp protien powder.
Ingredients
  • 1 Avocado, large or 1 1/2 medium
  • Handful of  Spinach, washed
  • 1 cup Apple Juice
  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Hemp Protien Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Ginger, grated
Instructions
Scoop the avocado and put it in the blender with all the other ingredients.Blend till smooth. Add more apple juice or almond milk as per your preference.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 servings
Avocado Green Smoothie

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Breakfast is an important part of my day. I can never skip it. But I can't sit down to a hearty breakfast still groggy-eyed and in my pj's either. I start the day with a cup of tea and a digestive. Yes,that's fuel for the heavy work to follow.
A half hour to one hour studies later, I'm off to make breakfast and lunch for boys and hubby. Waking them up, getting them fed and ready for school and work with packed meals in their bags requires copius amounts of energy. That's where my tea and biscuit comes in handy. Ha.
Before I set to tackle the house which by this time looks like a whirlwind has passed through, I sit down for my proper breakfast. That is, I start cooking my morning meal. When you're on a Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free diet that's the most sensible thing to do.



There are days I miss the convenience of having a piece of bread right out of a cellophane bag, toast it and slather it with butter. Or having a ready-made wrap and make cheesy quesadillas. Then I found this bread and I feel I'm normal again. I hear a lot about Low Carb and Keto diets for healing from the groups I follow and I was so excited when the The Ketogenic Kitchen by Domini Kemp and Patricia Daly came out. 
Out of all the recipes I tried this is my favorite. Because now I can take a few slices of bread from a ziplock bag in the refrigerator, toast it and slather it with butter and strawberry jam. Breakfast is ready in a few minutes. Tada..

The main ingredient in this recipe is the hazelnut butter. But nut butters are expensive. I buy hazelnuts and toast them in the oven. Then use a food processor to make it into a butter. It's very simple and cheap. 


This bread doesn't require a lot of ingredients but just a few which are sure to be in the cupboard of those of us who chose to eat this way. I added cinnamon and vanilla to the original recipe to give it more flavour. And for milk, I used almond milk as that's what I have in hand and use everyday. But that can be substituted with coconut milk or any other dairy free milk. Try this out when the baking bug bites you and I'm sure you'll love this.







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Cinnamon Hazelnut Bread - Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free
A lovely free from hazelnut bread with cinnamon. Toast and slather with butter and pure fruit jam for a hearty and sweet breakfast.
Ingredients
  • 240 g Hazelnuts
  • 60 ml or 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 4 Eggs, separated
  • 30 g Coconut Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Instructions
Spread the hazelnuts in a baking sheet and toast them in a pre-heated oven of 180 degree Celsius for 10 minutes until light golden in color. Cool slightly. Add the nuts to a food processor or a grinder and grind till it forms a butter. You may have to scrape sides to incorporate all the nuts. The butter should resemble a thick liquid.Butter or line a loaf pan. Seperate the eggs and beat the egg whites till stiff and peaks form.Sift the coconut flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and keep aside.Mix the almond milk and maple syrup in a milk pan and heat it lightly.In a mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, followed by the nut butter, and the milk mixture. Mix until combined and no lumps. Add the vanilla extract and vinegar. Then mix in the dry ingredients. Add the egg white to this mix and fold gently until well incorporated.Pour the batter in to the loaf pan and bake in 150 degrees celsius for abot 45 minutes. Once done, remove from the pan cool on a rack. Can be sliced and kept in the refrigerator upto a week. Slices can be frozen as well.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 Slices
Cinnamon Hazelnut Bread - Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free

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I love biryani. They aren't confined to special occasions or days, they're a comfort food. It warms my soul and nourishes my body. It saves me from those days where I stare at an open refrigerator wondering what vegetables to pair and what to cook. No,I'm not good at meal planning. So, having an easy recipe with ingredients I mostly have in my pantry is a relief.

The only two ingredients I didn't have until now are the white poppy seeds and dried plums. But ever since I started making biryani this way they've become part of my pantry. For my Irish readers, poppy seed is available in most Asian stores. They come in a 200g pack and will last for a long time, I mean a very long time. Unless you use it to make lemon poppy seed muffins all the time. A favorite of mine which I should blog about. And the dried plums. They are different from prunes and comes with the seed. It has a sweet and mild sour taste and that too can be found in Asian stores. It will be great addition to any curry. The hulled white poppyseeds and dried plums can be seen in the picture below.


For a novice biryani cook who relies on store bought biryani spice packs the ingredients list might seem long and steps arduous. But I assure you it's not. Once you gather the ingredients and know the steps it's a matter of putting everything together. Yes, it may take a couple of tries to get cooking smoothly. When I like a recipe and it becomes a routine I fall into a rhythm of executing each step.


I let the chicken marinade;
keep the water to boil for the rice;
rinse and drain the rice;
grind the spices;
cut the onion and the leaves for garnish.

After I'm done with the chopping, I cook the chicken;
boil and drain the rice. Keep it aside.

When the chicken is done, I dump the rice onto it and let it cook.

That's my rhythm. I feel it's important to develop one's own rhythm in performing tasks so that it doesnt seem daunting but rather, enjoyable.


Up until recently, I relied on store bought biryani packs for convenience. I wanted to make my own biryani spice mix but it always felt like extra work. Ready-made mixes almost always had red chili in it which I don't tolerate anymore. I have used green chillies as they are mild when used whole. But you can avoid that and use some blackpepper instead. When I fell sick last winter, a dear friend made this for me. Needless to say, I'm in love with recipe ever since. Give it a go, let me know what you think.



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Mildly Spiced Chicken Biyani
A Chicken Biryani for those who have milder tastebuds or who don't tolerate red chilli. Use chicken with bones for optimal flavor, preferably legs ,thighs and wings.
Ingredients
  • 750 g Chicken with bones,skinned and washed
  • 300 g Long Grain(Basmati) rice
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Poppy Seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg Powder
  • 1 tbsp Almonds or Cashews
  • 2 Onion, medium and sliced
  • 2 Green Chillies, whole
  • 2 tsp Ginger and Garlic Paste
  • 3 Dried Plums
  • Whole spices(Cardomom pods,Staranise,Cinnamon,Cloves;2 of each)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp Oil
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp Butter or Ghee
  • Fried onions,Coriander and mint leaves chopped to garnish
Instructions
In a mixing bowl, add chicken pieces, yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric and 1 tsp salt. Mix everything together and coat the chicken evenly and cover the bowl. Let it marinate for about 30 minutes.Grind the poppy seeds, cumin powder, coriander powder, nutmeg powder, almonds in to a powder.In a large pan in which you can fit the biryani, heat the oil and add the onions, Cook the onions till it becomes golden and add the marinated chicken. Discard the liquid leftover from the marinated chicken. Add the ginger,garlic paste,dried plums, whole green chillies and the ground spice powder. Mix well and cook on medium heat for abut 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, 1/2 tsp salt and stir. Cover and cook for about 25 to 30 minutes till the chicken is cooked and curry is reduced to half.In a separate pot, bring to boil 4 cups of water, 1 tsp salt and whole spices. Add the rinsed rice and cook for about 10 minutes till the rice is cooked half way through. Drain the rice.Once the chicken is cooked, add the drained rice and mix well. Dot with butter or ghee. Cover and cook on low hear for 10 minutes. Garnish with fried onions, coriander and mint leaves.Serve with raita or yogurt with cucumbers.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 Servings
Chicken Biryani - Mildly Spiced

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