EGG FREE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

My son and eggs do not mix well.

After planting 2 seeds of pumpkin  that months later brought fourth 8 really huge  pumpkins,i was left twiddling my thumbs on what to do with the rest of them .

Then i had one of  those now of my now rare light bulb moments……i decided to try my hand at making cupcakes packed with lots of vitamin  A and flavor to boot that he would not react to. what

I tinkered with a carrot cake  recipe i had and i replaced the butter  with sunflower oil which gives them a crumbly crust but a very moist inside……yummy.

Here is the recipe……

Photo credits:Broccoli Crazy!
Photo credits:Broccoli Crazy!

Ingredients

150 grammes cooked pumpkin well mashed

150 grammes flour

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup sun flower oil

3 tablespoons grated white chocolate

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence

 

Instructions

1. Pre- heat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line a 12  section cupcake tray with liners.

2.In a medium sized bowl  sized bowl sift your ingredients,add your wet ingredients and using a hand mixer with whisk attachment,mix for 2-3 minutes till  combined.

3.Using an ice cream scoop,spoon  mixture into cupcake liners.It should be enough for all 12 of them.

4.Pop into the oven for 25- 30 minutes,you will know they are done when toothpick  inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with moist crumbs.

5.Remove from the oven,leave to cool for 15 minutes then remove them from tray and serve.

Can be kept in an air tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Photo credits:Broccoli Crazy!

 

MY BETTER THAN A THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING

All you need for this dressing are these four things :

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The salad dressing is great with your favourite vegetables or with pasta.
I had it with some blanched broccoli,grated carots,tomatoes,red onions and julienned cucmber slices…deliciously scrumptious is all i can say.

I prefer these recipe rather than go buy a bottle of ready made dressing because reading the labels of most commercial dressings,the ingredients are on a list as long as my arm.This allows me to enjoy my salad without all of the guilt of unhealthy ingredients i am  putting in my body as i saw that Kenya Orchards does try to keep their ingredients as simple as possible.
The only thing to note is the mayonnaise has eggs,for anyone with an egg allergy please do get an alternative.

Ingredients
4 level tablespoons mayonnaise
2 level tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 pinches of black pepper
freshly squeezed juice of 1 small lemon.

It should look like this...
It should look like this…

Method
In a small bowl add the above ingredients then thotoughly mix with a fork or spoon
Cover with cling film and let it rest in the refridgerator for flavours to mesh and develop.
A half hour before serving add your vegetables and toss then return to the fridge.
It can keep for a day.

TURMERIC

In my mind nothing defines Indian cooking like turmeric.

India  is the home of curries,we would not be enjoying the tastes of India if it wasn’t for this spice that when  used in spice blends  gives dishes  their distinct  yellow colour.

Though it is  widely available in powder form,the turmeric root resembles the ginger root.

Turmeric powder.

Its has no noticeable flavour and is mainly used for its color,but it is blended with other spices which then add flavour to whatever dish it has been used in.

It can be paired with garam masala,ginger and garlic paste,hot chilli peppers,coriander,and cummin.

It will transform your dish of boiled rice into a lovely yellow color that stands out.

It gives stews a lovely yellow undertone and  transforms everything it is added to without changing the dishes flavour.

It  has been claimed to have medicinal properties which include being a natural liver detoxifier,as a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis due to its anti inflammatory properties and as a natural pain killer.Read more about turmeric benefits here.

Indian women have also been said to use turmeric as an anti-ageing agent in paste form

RED “HOT” MANGO FRUIT SMOOTHIE

Nothing screams December is here, better than mangos…in Kenya atleast.

Mangoes are everywhere you turn,in fruit stalls, in wheel barrows being pushed by street vendors,you see them in all shapes and sizes and colors everywhere you look.

And they come cheap.

They remind me of the lond December holidays i had as a kid and we would go back to Nairobi with a sack ful of mangoes for our neighbours.

And no fruit vendor worth his salt would sell mangoes without some chilli powder mixed in with salt to accompany these delicous fruit.

Mangoes are a great source of Vitamin C,dietary fibre ,folate and Vitamin B6.

Mangoes are some of the most commonlly cultivated fruits in the tropics and they originated from India then spread to the rest of the world.

In addition to being eaten on their own as a fruit,they can be turned into smoothies,eaten in salads,chutneys and as garnishing on ice cream.

There are even dried mango strips sold in some specialty stores and thye are delicious and great for kids to snack on,definetely better than potato crisps.

Ingredients

2 ripe mangoes

1 glass of  drinking water

Juice from a fresh lime/lemon,fresh

1/2  a medium sized beetroot sliced into quarters.

1-2 pinches red chilli powder.

Ice cubes

Method

1.Peel mangoes and slice off the flesh aound the seed then cut it into cubes .

2Put these in ablender,then add the quartered beetroot,juice from the lemon(it prevents the beetroot from turning color).

3.Add some honey or syrup for taste,2 pinches of red chilli powder  and water  to make it easier to blend the mixture and pulse for 3-5 minutes .

Add more water till you get the desired consistency.

4.Get 2 tall drinking glass,put some ice cubes and pour the drink.

GINGER INFUSED HOT CHOCOLATE

There are two types of food,there is “all the time” food and then there is “sometimes” food

All the time food is nutritious food like vegetables,fruits an everything your body requires to function and then there are sometimes food like this hot drink that should be taken..sometimes.

Now since its winter inKenya and  some parts of the world,this hot chocolate drink  will warm you up considerably.

Mug of hot chocolate

Ingredients

2 cups whole/low-fat milk

5 cubes of dark chocolate/cooking chocolate,grated

1 tsp vanilla essence

a pinch of  ground ginger

Method

1.Over low heat,place small saucepan and then add the milk.

2.Add the grated chocolate,then vanilla essence and 2 pinches of ginger and using a wire whisk ,slowly whisk in the chocolate till it melts..

3.The chocolate mixture should be frothy  without a skin on top .

4.When all the chocolate has melted and milk is just about to boil ,turn off heat and put the milk into wide cups like those used to serve cappuccino.

5.Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings on top or a scoop of whipped cream.

NB:No need for sugar as the chocolate add some sweetness to it and ginger add some kick.

Keep warm this December

SWEET POTATOES(NGWACI)-THE UNSUNG SUPERFOOD

Ngwaci’s or sweet potatoes are a super food and next time you are in the market, do not ignore this super food and here is why……

In Kenya we grow three kinds of sweet potatoes ,white,purple and red skinned ones whose flesh will either be yellow or white.

The yellow fleshed sweet potato variety is the most nutritious of all as it comes packed with beta carotene that is great for your eyes and immune system,Vitamin C ,dietary fibre and carbohydrates.

Read more about sweet potatoes and diabetes  here.

Here is how you can enjoy this superfood:

1.Sweet potatoes are very versatile and canbe  boiled and mashed and had  in place of regular potatoes.

2.You can have sweet potatoes fries by baking  them in a 180 degrees centigrade oven for about 35-40 minutes .

Just drizzle some olive oil ,black pepper and salt  over them and pop them in the oven.

3.They can be added(pre-cooked) to pastry dough and cake/pancake   batters  as a natural sweetener  and to boost the nutritional value of these foods.

4.They can be an alternative to regular potatoes in salads ,soups and stews.

5.You can make  sweet potato pie, even souffles!

Flavours that really go well with sweet potatoes are:bananas,rosemary,garlic,chicken,honey,cheese and bacon.

Spices:Cinnamon,nutmeg,black pepper

How to store them

Sweet potatoes should not be stored in the fridge as it alters their flavour ,store them in a cool dry dark place and they should keep for atleast a week

CREAMY COLESLAW

Coleslaw is a quintessential American salad that i love to bits.

Made from shredded cabbage,carrots and onions it is very easy to make and will have you loving cabbage all over again.

I have added my own twist to regular coleslaw by adding a dash of color with the inclusion of red cabbage,a German twist to an all American classic

Red cabbage has more Vitamin A than regular cabbage and has more anti- inflammatory agents  and  anti oxidants than its counter part the regular green cabbage. 

Red and white cabbages

Ingredients

1 small cabbage shredded finely

2 medium-sized carrots 

1/4 red cabbage shredded

2 sprigs of spring onion

1/2 cup sour cream

 salad seasoning for taste

2 sprigs of spring onion for garnishing,chopped finely(optional)

Method

1.Pour the sour cream into the   salad bowl.

2.Starting with the shredded cabbage add all the vegetables to the bowl except the spring onions.

3.Add salad seasoning just enough for taste and toss,add more seasoning if need be.

4.Add the shredded spring onion,toss again and if not serving immediately cover salad bowl with cling film and refrigerate.

5.Serve,it goes well with almost all kinds of food.

NB:If you do not like the taste of onions then add some chopped nuts for extra crunch.

SPICY PEA CARROT RICE

If there is a time in history I would love to have lived in,it has to be during the   days when the spice route was all that and a bag of chips.

Trade in spices began about 3,600 years ago and  lasted up until the 17th century.Read more on the spice route here.

The spice route covered the areas from Java in Indonesia all the way through parts of Asia like India,it even covered the East African coastline as Somalia,Zanzibar were part of these lucrative route.It then went on to Egypt,parts of the Arab world and on to Europe where demand for spices like cummin,nutmeg,ginger and cloves turned it into a profitable ,very profitable trade.

A lot of legends and tales covering these time in history abound and the writers have regaled us with the bravery,treachery and adventure of this time in human history.

But enough of history lessons,here is a rice recipe with one of my favourite spices,cummin.

Spice market in India

Ingredients

1 cup rice,preferably long grain washed and drained.

1/2 cup of  peas

1/2 cup carrots

1 large onion,chopped

1 large tomato .cubed

1 small green sweet pepper,cubed

1 carrot,cubed

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

1 teaspoon cummin powder

1/4 teaspoon fennel seed

2 pieces of cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon ghee

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups water

Method

1.In a sauce pan over medium heat,pour the ghee  and vegetable oil and once hot enough after 2 minutes   add the ground cummin,cinnamon,cloves,fennel seed and let the spices “bloom in the oil”.

Blooming is the process of letting the flavours in the spices out by heating them with oil,you will know when this is done because the aroma from the spices starts wafting from the saucepan and teasing your senses.

2.Add the  ginger-garlic paste to the spices and stir in saucepan for 40 seconds till it softens ,then add onions,stir for 30 seconds and let cook till softened.

4.Add the tomatoes,green pepper  and salt and pepper to taste,stir and add 1/2 cup of water  and cover for 2 minutes to cook.Make sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan  after adding the water,thats where all the flavours are!

5.After 2 minutes the water you have added  will have made a thick sauce from the spices and vegetables in the pan,its now time to add the rice .Stir the rice in the sauce till it is coated through with the sauce.

6.Add the green peas and carrots,stir them into rice .

7..Add 2 cups of water,taste and if need me add some more salt,bring it to a boil and then turn heat to low.

8..Let rice cook for 15-20 minutes covered,turn off heat,let it steam for 5 minutes then uncover and serve.

It is a great dish on its own,or when served with a salad.

CUMMIN INFUSED GREEN GRAM STEW

The green gram/ mung bean or ndengu as we call itin Kenya  is a very common item in the cuisines of South eastern Asia .

The bean is believed to have originated from the indian subcontinett and spread to toher parts of the world.

It  is a very good source of protein especially for vegetarians but it also contains vitamin C  and essential  minerals like calcium ,phosphorus and potassium

In every 100 grammes of boiled greengram you also get 7.6 grammes of dietary fibre,7.02 grammes of protein and just 19.15 grammes of carbohydrates(source USDA  Nutrient Database).

The beans can also be sprouted and used in stir fries or as a filling for items like spring rolls.

They especially taste absolutely great when paired with spices and ginger or garlic.Here is my recipe for the beans which even my picky 5-year-old loves.

Ingredients

1 cup pre boiled green grams

1 onion,chopped

1 large tomato

2 medium sized carrots,cubed

2 clove garlic,minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 and a half cups chicken stock/water

salt/pepper to taste

Method

1.In a  sauce pan ,heat oil slowly for 2 minutes then add the ground cummin seeds.

2.Let cummin infuse the oil for about 2 minutes till you can smell the aroma of the spice wafting from the pan.

3.Add the minced garlic,fry for 3o seconds till it softens then add onions,tomatoes,carrots, 2 pinches of salt and a dash of pepper and let to cook till softened.

4.Add tomato paste and stir into vegetables let cook for a minute then add the pre-boiled green grams.

5.Add the chicken stock and let to simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes then serve

They stew is great when served with  plain rice or chapatis.

GHEE -Everything you need to know

I recently wrote a post about how to cook traditional Kenyan vegetables and one of the comments left on the post suggested i fry them in ghee as it would take away the bitter taste.

I tried it and it worked!

Normally I use ghee for my pilau or add 2 tablespoons to my chapati dough,the rest of the time it sits on my shelf waiting for the next time that I am going to need it.

Ghee is basically  butter fat after all the solids and moisture have been removed.

It falls under the category of saturated fats which you should not have too much of as they increase bad cholesterol in your body.

People are advised not to consume more than 2 tablespoons of ghee in a day and especially if you have cholesterol related health issues.

Nonetheless when added to food it adds a wonderful caramel,nutty  buttery taste to food.

And when used in doughs it is a wonderful flavour enhancer.

Ghee has one of the highest smoke points of any oil.A smoke point being the highest temperature an oil can be heated at before it starts “disintegrating” resulting in unhealthy components.

Ghee is great for cooking spicy foods and long before low-fat cooking became a fad,samosas were deep-fried in ghee giving them a nutty crispy crust.

Ghee can keep for months if refrigerated,hardly ever goes rancid if kept at room temperature and is much cheaper than butter.

Did you also know ghee is great for burns,is used to make candles,used in cosmetics,great forbody  massages and for your skin too?

 

You can read more about the nutritional value of ghee here and its health benefits.