Archive for April, 2010

Nutree Lemon Bars

Posted on April 20, 2010. Filed under: Agave nectar, lemon, Oats | Tags: , , , , |

I love all flavors of Larabars, but I am addicted to their lemon bars in particular. I crave for their intensely lemony taste. A single bite of this bar can reverse the effects of a stressful day, and can make me as happy as 2 hours of shopping. BUT, they are not cheap, and which means I have to limit my indulgence. Plus, I don’t like the fact that they are mainly made out of dates, which although natural, are high in sugar. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful, if I can come up with a recipe that locks that exact lemon taste, yet subtracts some sugar, and add some more nutritional goodness? I have been thinking about recreating these bars for a while, and may I say I have a winner?
My friend, Ananya, was visiting yesterday afternoon. I thought some kind of bars would fit the bill, and would go perfectly with tea. I instantly decided to make some kind of lemon bars. Ananya dropped in, as I was getting ready to put the gently pressed tangy mixture in the oven. We waited anxiously until it baked and cooled. As I cut it in bars, and took the very first bite, I heard a drum roll in my head. Ananya approved as well. As far as comparing them with larabars’ taste, I think this recipe captures the true lemon soul of them. 

Nutree Lemon Bars
I have used agave nectar as a sweetener here, but I think honey should work well instead. I found a 50% less fat shredded coconut at the store few days back, so that’s what I used. feel free to use any unsweetened dry coconut. I wouldn’t skip it though, as it gave another layer of texture and a coconut undertone to the bars. While using lemon extract, seek out for the pure one instead of imitation.
2 cups oats
2/3 cups raw almonds
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
16 majdool dates
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure lemon extract
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven at 350 degree F.
Mix dates, and agave nectar in the food processor. Pulse until dates are broken into small pieces and are combined with agave nectar. You might need to scrape the sides couple times to get the desired puree. Add almonds and continue to pulse until they are chopped fine. Add olive oil, lemon juice and extract, salt and baking powder. Run the food processor till everything is combined well. Finally, add oats and shredded coconut. Pulse 5-10 times more.
Put the mixture in an ovenproof, rectangular dish that has been greased. Press the mixture evenly. It helps to dampen the hand with water before pressing. Bake for approximately 16-18 minutes in the top third rack of the oven. Cut into equal sized bars after 10-15 minutes.
Makes 15-20 bars.

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Nutree Red Chutney

Posted on April 13, 2010. Filed under: Peanuts, Tomatoes | Tags: , , , , |

Green chutney made with fresh coconut, cilantro leaves, and green chillies is my condiment of choice for most of the times. On other days, the thought of eating same old chutney doesn’t excite me. Couple days back, I was in this state of mind. We needed some kind of chutney to go with mixed-dal uttapams, but I was not in mood to eat the green one. I kept flipping the pages of various cookbooks until I stumbled upon this recipe. The combination seemed intriguing enough: a sauteed and mellowed batch of tomatoes, whipped along with crunchy peanuts, and deeply toasted sesame seeds. The heat comes from Thai green chillies, a sure shot way to tingle your taste buds. I decided to add couple cloves of garlic to add a zing factor. The result exceeded my expectations. A quick saute of medley of ingredients, and a fast whirl in a food processor delivered a slightly tangy, moderately hot, and a marvelously smooth peanuty paste.
The chutney fits the bill on the nutrition front as well: Veggie, check. Protein, check. Complex carbs, check. Plus we get bonus vitamin A and C from green chillies. A perfect alternative for folks who want to limit their coconut intake (for saturated fats) but would like to continue eating chutneys.
Nutree Red Chutney
The combination of peanuts, tomatoes and sesame seeds works perfectly. However, I might try walnuts or even cashews instead of peanuts the next time. I have used ripe tomatoes here, but will try the green ones when they start making an appearance in the garden in few weeks. (we might need to rename the chutney then). Substitute a teaspoon of dark sesame oil if you don’t have sesame seeds on hand. Use Serrano or Jalapeno peppers as a quick replacement for Thai green chilies. If you like your food on a spicier side, try Thai green chillies instead. They can be found at most Asian grocery stores. Adjust the spiciness of chutney by adding more or less chillies.
Adapted from: Navavadhusathi Pakakriya (a marathi cookbook)
2 tomatoes, diced medium
3 Thai green chillies
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 handfuls raw peanuts
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp raw cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Heat olive oil in a wide pan. Saute sesame seeds and peanuts on a medium heat for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes, chillies and garlic. Give a quick stir and cover the pan. Lower the heat and let tomatoes cook. This will take 3 or maybe 4 minutes. Take the lid off, give another stir, and take the pan off the heat. Let the mixture cool. Put the mixture from pan, cumin seeds, salt and sugar in a blender (alternatively in a food processor), and grind until the the chutney transforms into a smooth paste. If needed, incorporate a tablespoon of water at a time to help the blending process.   
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Nutree Rava Uttapam

Posted on April 9, 2010. Filed under: Lentils | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

There are some recipes of every household, that make their appearence pretty frequently on the dinner table, but everyone still eats them with the same enthusiasm, and excitement every single time. Rava uttapam is one of such recipes in our house. I don’t even remember where I found this gem, but rarely a week or two go by without me making, and us devouring this treat. It is a simple recipe, takes hardly few minutes of preparation, yet delivers a taste that we long for.  
Traditionally, uttapam are thick savory pancakes made out of a fermentated mixure of rice and urad dal (black gram split lentils). Cream of wheat (rava in marathi, and sooji in hindi) replaces rice, and yogurt replaces the fermantation process in this recipe. Sooji and urad dal can be easily found in the indian grocery stores. I do not know how the quick cooking cream of wheat will fare in this recipe, but I would suggest to stick with sooji for the best results. Also in the past, I have had success using buttermilk, if I am running low on yogurt.  I have used carrot and spinach as toppings in this version, but the possibilities are endless. E.g.
Coconutty: fresh grated coconut (also found frozen at Indian grocery stores), chopped cilantro, lemon zest, and coconut oil instead of olive oil
Mediterranean: Mix red onion, chopped black olives, crumbled feta and mint into the batter. Eat alongside greek yogurt or hummus. Leave ginger, and green chilli out of the batter, if going this route.
Pizza style: Replace ginger and green chilli with a dash of oregano. Make a slightly thicker uttapa, add marinara sauce, diced yellow onion, chopped green, and yellow pepper, and cheese. Reduce the heat, cover for a minute or two until the cheese melts, and then cut into wedges. This can be a winner with kids.
Or how about a thai one with coconut milk, and a splash of red curry paste.
Nutree Rava Uttapam
1.5 cups coarse sooji (rava / cream of wheat)
1/2 cup urad dal (white variety)
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
1 fistful of baby spinach leaves, washed and chopped fine
2 green chillies
one coin of fresh ginger
salt to taste
2 tbsp. extra version olive oil,
2 tbsp. pure olive oil for applying on the griddle.
Soak urad dal in warm water for an hour or two, until it is tender. Grind it in the blender with chillies, ginger and some water. Mix dal, rava, yogurt, and wheat germ together. Add carrot, spinach, and salt. Add evoo in the end, mix and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Heat a griddle on a medium flame. Pour a ladleful of batter on it, and spread it clockwise with the same ladle until it becomes a thick circle. Add diced onion, and cover with a lid. Take the lid off after a minute, drizzle a tsp of olive oil on the uttapa. Loosen the uttapa with a spatula, and turn it. Let it cook for another 30 seconds or so, until it becomes golden brown. Fold it in half, and serve immidiately with green chutney, or chutney podi mixed with oil. Repeat the procedure until the batter is gone, or everybody is full. Makes 10-15 uttapa, depending on the size.
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