Kitchari

(recipe in Italian HERE 🇮🇹 – fa parte della mia collaborazione sull’alimentazione consapevole con Gaia di The Green Pantry)

Who knows Kitchari? Or it’s even better to ask… who else loves it? Because this is what happens when you try it for the first time, you suddenly fall in love with this nourishing and simple preparation. Kitchari is a classic Ayurvedic recipe to support your body’s natural balance. It’s a great option when you need to reconnect with your body and you’re looking for an easy (and healthy) way to rebalance – for example, in between seasons, after a stressful time, or in a period with several occasions for overindulging with food.

You can check out my version for this deliciously simple soup below. This is actually only one of the ways in which I prepare Kitchari – not only I try to change the spices and vegetables, especially according to my own needs or to the seasons, but I also sometimes decide to blend part of the mung beans (usually half of them, to get an extra creamy texture). Every time I have some Kitchari left from the day before (a rare occasion!), I try to change it a little by adding extra fresh veggies.

Hope you’ll like it! Chiara x

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KITCHARI

Ingredients:
(x 2)
2 parts of yellow mung dal beans (approx. 100 g)
1 part of brown basmati rice (approx. 50 g)
4 medium-sized carrots
1 shallot
2 bay leaves
1 cardamom pod (open it)
½ tsp cumin seeds
1/3 tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
5-6 coriander seeds
a pinch of black pepper
ghee or extra virgin olive oil
fresh coriander or parsley to use as a topping
optional: chopped spinach, kale, or other dark leafy greens

Preparation:
Heat 1 tsp of ghee or ½ tbsp of olive oil in a pot over a medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and stir until it turns golden. Add the yellow mung beans (previously rinsed with water) and mix well. Add enough water to keep everything covered. Add also the bay leaves and crushed fennel seeds (half of the total amount that you are using for this recipe). While they are cooking, keep adding water in small amounts to be sure that there won’t be water left when they will be ready. After approx. 20 minutes, add the finely chopped carrots, rice, and turmeric. Mix well. Cook for approx. 20 minutes or until everything is cooked and start to become quite creamy. If you are also using
some finely chopped dark leafy vegetables, add them almost at the end (cook for approx. 5 minutes).

To prepare the mix of spices: heat in a pan ½ tbsp of olive oil or 1 tsp of ghee and add the spices (at this stage, you have already used turmeric, bay leaves, and half of the fennel seeds – so just use what is left on the list). Stir well until fragrant. You can crush them in a mortar before or after toasting them. Add your mix of spices into the Kitchari and mix well – remove the bay leaves.

When the Kitchari is ready, turn off the heat – leave to rest in the covered pot for 5 minutes before serving. You can serve it by itself with just a little bit of olive oil on top or you can decide to use some fresh parsley and/or a dollop of yogurt as a topping.


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Chickpea Flour and Kefir Pancakes

It’s that time of the year once again, the Carnival season is almost at the end and most of us are getting ready for Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday (depending on where you live). Last year, I have published on these pages a recipe for pancakes made with spelt flour and flaxseeds that are still one of the favourite recipes among my readers and clients. From my point of view, pancakes should be something that you can easily cook and fit into your healthy lifestyle: in such a simple way, you can turn a regular weekday breakfast into something special, even when you don’t have too much time (and yes, you can make them in advance). Prepare a batter using nutrient-rich whole foods, experiment with different flours or combinations, try to add some colour to your pancakes (beetroots, spinach, kale, cacao, turmeric… just to name a few)… then pair them with simple toppings that will add extra nutrients to your breakfast (yogurt, kefir, nut butter, fresh and seasonal fruit, salmon, cheese, avocado, etc… GET CREATIVE!).

For this recipe, I have prepared some simple crepes-style pancakes using only a few ingredients – they are filled with a delicious raw orange cream (it’s similar to one that I have already published here, but check below for the details). In addition, I have used some dark chocolate and fresh fruit as toppings.

An alternative: you can use the same recipe to make some delicious fluffy pancakes – adjust the batter using less water since you’ll need a thicker one (then I use 3 tbsp of batter for each pancake).

Hope you’ll like them as much as I do! Chiara x

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Chickpea Flour and Kefir Pancakes

Ingredients
(makes 6-7 large crepes-style pancakes)

For the batter:
150 g chickpea flour
100 ml plain kefir
300 ml water
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp extra virgin olive oil (for cooking)

For the cream:
2 blood oranges
5 dried apricots
1 ½ tsp ginger powder

Toppings:
some dark chocolate (85% or higher)
1 apple
1 small banana

To make the batter: in a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, kefir, water, and the baking powder. Stir until there are no lumps (add the water slowly in small portions – check if and when your batter needs more water). Let it rest for 5-10 min. Add more water if needed (the batter will be pretty liquid, to allow you to make these large and thin pancakes). Heat a frying pan, preferably a non-stick one, on a medium heat with ½ tsp of extra virgin olive oil. Use 5 tbsp for each pancake, moving the pan until the batter is evenly distributed and using a spoon to help you. Cook each pancake until it can be easily flipped with a spatula. Keep the batter well mixed. Using these quantities, you will be able to make approx. 6-7 pancakes (I usually consider 2 of them as serving size, and prepare more to use for a quick lunch or another breakfast – they keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days).

To make the orange cream: the recipe is similar to one that I have already published on these pages. Peel the oranges, chop them into small pieces and blend them with the chopped apricots and ginger (you can add in the blender some zest as well if you’re using organic oranges). Place the cream inside the pancakes or use half as filling and half as a topping.


 

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Mince Pies

I have finally decided to make my own version of these cute little tarts. I always want to create recipes that we can truly enjoy at home, not just something good for sharing a pretty picture, so I needed to come up with a combination of taste, festive feeling and obviously an attention to the nutrients (such as using almond butter, fresh mandarin peel, and whole grain spelt flour – not using extra sugar in the filling or on top, etc). To get the most out of this spiced filling, serve them warm – the ginger, cinnamon and mandarin peel give a perfect festive taste to these mince pies with a healthier twist.

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Ingredients
(makes 12-14 mince pies)

for the filling:
2 medium-sized apples (sweet, preferably cooking apples)
4 tbsp raisins
1 ½ tbsp almond butter
juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 mandarin (peel)

for the dough:
180 g whole grain spelt flour
25 g butter (or olive oil, 4 tbsp)
1 level tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
nut or oat drink

on top:
coconut flour

To prepare the filling:
mix the grated apples (use apples grated in small pieces, not in a paste, or finely chop them) with the other ingredients and mix well. Among other ingredients listed, there’s the peel of a mandarin: use an organic one, washed and peeled – for the filling you will need the peel finely chopped. Place the mixture in a jar and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours – you can even prepare the filling 1 day in advance.

To prepare the dough:
in a bowl, mix the sugar with the melted cold butter and cinnamon. Start adding the flour and allow it to absorb all the liquid mixture (you will get a sort of crumble). Start adding some nut or oat drink in small portions – mix well with your hands and check the dough, before adding more liquid. You want a final result that doesn’t stick to the bowl or your hands. Cover the dough and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using it.

You can use a muffin tray to make the mince pies if you don’t have one for small tarts. To cut the dough, I have used a 7.5 cm round cookie cutter for the base and a little star-shaped cutter for the top. Prepare the dough more or less thick depending on what are your preferences. Cut the rounded base for each pie and place it in the baking tray, add approx 1 tbsp of mince meat (filling) and then add the little star on top. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until they start to turn golden.

Better served warm – sprinkle on top with some coconut flour. Do you have some leftover filling? Use it on top of your bowl of porridge or yogurt!


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Pear and Nuts Crumble

Playing with oats… again! This time to make a naturally sweetened dessert that will be a great plan-ahead breakfast. I have a deep love for both granola and crumbles – this one has a great mix of nutty taste, spices and a little bit of crunchiness. There’s no added sugar and just a few simple ingredients – each of them a staple of many healthy eating pantries. I definitely try to have all the time oats, flour, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, spices, and fresh fruit in my kitchen.

Not only nutrient-packed but also a delicious and easy to make treat – it’s a win-win recipe!

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Pear and Nuts Crumble

Ingredients:

(serves 2)*
for the crumble:
3 tbsp rolled oats (choose the gluten-free option if needed)
1 ½ tbsp whole grain flour (any kind of whole grain flour will work well)
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 handful of hazelnuts, chopped
2 tsp almond butter
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lukewarm water
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
a pinch of salt

for the fruit layer:
1 large pear
a handful of raspberries
a splash of lemon juice
½ tsp cinnamon powder
a pinch of nutmeg

In a large bowl, mix all the things that go in the crumble – add the water as last ingredients (you will need enough water to allow the crumble to combine together but not to form one big piece).

Prepare the fruit for the bottom layer: chop in small pieces the pear and mix it with raspberries, lemon juice, and spices – mix well and place them in the single-serving pots (as you can see from the pictures, I have used a couple of oven-safe mini cocottes). Place the crumble on top of your fruit and bake in the oven at 180°C for approx. 20 minutes (check them from time to time ’cause the crumble tends to burn easily).

Serve as itself, preferably warm or with a dollop of yogurt or labneh.

*If you want to make these crumble in a larger baking tray, just increase the amount of ingredients.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

Such a tricky recipe! Using pumpkin into pancakes isn’t like using mashed or blended bananas. I had to adjust the batter a few times to get it right but, at the end, the result was delicious. If you add too much pumpkin or nut drink or both, they just remain too moist and not well cooked. So just go for roasted pumpkin, with less water, and check your batter step by step as you prepare it – I actually love this step: you learn to be more aware of what you are doing and how you prepare your food!

I have decided to top them with some tahini sauce (1 tbsp of tahini mixed well with approx. the juice of 1 lemon) and some fresh fruit. The nutty taste of tahini pairs well with the sweetness of these pancakes.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients:
70 g cooked pumpkin (better if roasted)
120 g whole grain spelt flour
1 handful of pecans
1 tbsp date syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coconut oil (measured solid)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of garam masala
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp ginger powder
nut drink

To make the batter: in a medium-sized bowl, combine spices, date syrup, melted oil, pumpkin (make a puree of pumpkin+pecans with a blender, use the minimum amount of water necessary to blend it) – mix well with approx. 130 ml of nut drink. Let it rest for 5-10 min. Then add the remaining ingredients. Stir until there are no lumps. Add step by step more liquid when it’s necessary – depending on the pumpkin puree and the kind of flour that you are using. The batter tends to be particularly tricky due to the pumpkin, so learn how to check it step by step. Heat a frying pan, preferably a non-stick one, on a medium heat with ½ tsp of coconut oil. Use 3 tbsp for each pancake, moving the pan until the batter is evenly distributed. Cook each pancake until it can be easily flipped with a spatula. Keep the batter well mixed. Using these quantities, you will be able to make approx. 8/10 pancakes.

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Pumpkin Seeds Granola and Thick Mango Lassi

One of my favourite options for a plan-ahead breakfast: you can soak the chia seeds overnight in the fridge, and make the granola in advance. In the morning, you will just have to mix the ingredients in the blender and prepare your bowl. You can even prepare this in the morning, pack everything in a jar, and use it as breakfast to go.

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I definitely have a deep love for granola, and this recipe allowed me to pair it with another thing that I usually enjoy ’till the last drop: a mango lassi. Perfect as snack or breakfast, this bowl is packed with nutrients. If you have never tried to make a mango lassi before, have a look at my basic recipe for it. The one presented here is a thicker version, different in taste, but still delicious.

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Let’s see which are some of the benefits of mango:

1) RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Mangoes contain plenty of antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, and other phenolic compounds. They may help your body in fighting oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

2) GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
Mangoes are rich in folate, a nutrient that has been studied in relation to cardiovascular diseases, showing that has benefits for our heart health. They are also rich in fibre that helps to manage cholesterol levels and overall health.

3) HELPFUL FOR IRON ABSORPTION
The high content of vitamin C makes mangoes a good pair for foods rich in non-heme iron (less easy to be absorbed than heme iron).

4) GOOD FOR YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Due to their high content of vitamin C and carotenoids, mangoes are a good choice to boost your immune system.

5) GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN
Due to their characteristic content of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals (especially vitamin A, C, E, B6, K – folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, iron) mangoes are helpful for keeping a healthy and younger skin.

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Thick Mango Lassi

Ingredients:

(serves 2)
1 ripe mango
4 tbsp unsweetened plain yogurt (regular or plant-based)
½ medium-sized banana
2 tbsp chia seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 green cardamom pods (it’s better to crush the seeds in a mortar before adding them to the blender)
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp of turmeric
a pinch of black pepper

In a cup, mix the chia seeds and the yogurt – leave to rest for 10 minutes. Then combine all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until you get a smooth paste.

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Pumpkin Seeds Granola

Ingredients:

(serves 4-5)
100 g rolled oats (choose the gluten-free option if needed)
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
80 g almonds, chopped
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp coconut oil, melted (measured solid)
approx. 2 tbsp lukewarm water

In a bowl, combine oats, spices, coconut oil and some lukewarm water. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients. It can be useful to use a baking tray with baking paper or reusable baking sheets. Spread the granola on the baking tray making an even layer. Place in the preheated oven at 180°C for approx. 5 min. (mix once).

Take the baking tray out from the oven, add the chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds. Mix well with a spoon. Place in the oven at the same temperature for 5 min. (mix twice).

Allow to cool completely before serving or putting in a container.

Place the lassi in a bowl and top it with some granola. If I’m serving this for breakfast, I like to place a bowl with some extra granola on the table so everyone can add more to their bowl if needed.



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