Vegan Nutty Chocolate

Recently, I have been craving chocolate much like a chain smoker needs his daily pack or two. And it’s doubly hard for vegans to find vegan chocolate in the city. Although there is a particular brand of vegan chocolate available in Spinneys, it wasn’t within my comfortable two mile radar and I wasn’t ready to trudge to the next Spinneys four miles away. Also, I have been avoiding a lot of soy products nowadays so I decided to skip this one.

So I did what any vegan chocolate addict would do. I looked online for recipes to make chocolate. And I found an incredibly easy peasy recipe. So easy it will make you forego store bought chocolate.

These are the ingredients I used:

4 level heaped tablespoons Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
4 level heaped tablespoons coconut oil
5 tablespoons powdered sugar (I used white refined sugar because I didn’t have any other sweetener at home but you can substitute it with brown sugar, honey if you’re not vegan, agave syrup, maple syrup or any other sweetener)
Nuts – slivers of almonds, roasted cashewnuts (you can also use roasted hazelnuts, raisins or any other nuts of your choice)

Method:

Sift the cocoa powder and powdered sugar together in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and mix well.

Add nuts of your choice and pour the mixture into desired molds. I used silicone cupcake molds.

Let the chocolate set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Voila! Homemade chocolate is ready to be relished!

Vegan Nutty Chocolate

Verdict: My mom and sister vowed never to eat store bought chocolate again – they loved it so much! But I know that’s just them being kind because they’re my family! 🙂

Even though this recipe gave me my much desired endorphin kick, I won’t say that it was any close to perfection. I made some mistakes with this one that I intend to fix next time I make it again.

Firstly, I didn’t powder my sugar and expected it to melt when I mixed it in the coconut oil. DUH, BIG MISTAKE! The sugar didn’t melt so the chocolate was grainy and bittery (but that’s what my dark chocolate loving sister LOVED about this chocolate!)

Secondly, I think that the coconut oil I used was too strong to taste. I don’t know if there’s another less stronger coconut oil out there or if I should just use a lesser quantity. I will keep trying. Back to Google and Pinterest for some more inspiration. 🙂

Also, I won’t say this is a totally healthy chocolate either because of the coconut oil and refined sugar that went into it but then most store bought chocolates have all sorts of chemicals, flavour enhancers, additives and preservatives so it’s way better than all that junk because you know exactly what’s going into your body. As I said before, you can make it healthier by adding any sweetener of your choice.

Meanwhile, please do experiment with this recipe and let me know how it goes. This chocolate is extremely (and I am not exaggerating!) sensitive to heat – even body heat melts it immediately. So be ready to lick it off your fingers the moment you touch it!


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Instagrammers, here I am!

Hello!

While I admit I have not been regular at posting my cooking experiments here on WordPress, I have been regularly Instagramming the pictures! If you are interested in any of the recipes, please follow me on Instagram at @desperately_vegan to let me know and I will post them all here hopefully towards the end of June or early July after the end of my final exams.

Yes, I am finally going to complete my Masters degree! Woohoo!! 😀

Wish me luck. 😀

Cheers to good health!

A Worried Vegan

Vitamin B12

Hello fellow Vegans and GF Friends,

As I have earlier mentioned in my About Me page, I cut out dairy and gluten after observing the symptoms of what was happening to me at the time after eating these items. A year after I slowly and gradually became vegan and gluten free, I was feeling the best I had ever felt in my entire life. My haemoglobin levels had increased to 12.7 (that had never ever happened before!), my energy levels were high, my BMI was finally normal and my hair was sleek and shiny and my skin was glowing. Not to forget the most important thing – the horrible stomach cramps and bloating had finally gone.

However, I have to tell you, I started observing things happening since the beginning of 2013. Irregular menstrual cycles, foggy brain, memory loss (even forgetting commonly used names of people and things!), unexplained loss of appetite which has led to drastic loss of weight, a highly reduced sense of smell, occasional leg and foot muscle cramps, sleeping but waking up tired, lack of energy, and the weirdest of them all – tingling, numbness and sensitivity in my legs and feet since late October 2013 and a loss of balance while walking.

I have been reading up on the symptoms online like an average hypochondriac (I suspect I might have inherited that from my mum!) and they do sound like a Vitamin B12 deficiency which is found in more amounts in non-vegetarian sources and….DAIRY! I haven’t been taking any supplements but now realize maybe I should have checked up on the nutrients I would miss out on when I cut out dairy ! On the other hand, someone very recently told me that nutritional yeast has lots of B12 in it and sprouted grains and legumes also contain this vitamin so planning to include that in my diet.

Sources of Vitamin B12

When I recently went to a reputed Ayurvedic doctor with the worry that I might be deficient in nutrients, he said that all I needed to do was to change my eating and sleeping patterns which is the root of all diseases. According to Ayurveda which is the most powerful and proven science there is, our body is able to digest food from the time the sun rises till the time the sun sets so our early morning breakfast should be done by 7am and our last meal of the day by 7pm. We should go to bed early by maximum 9.30pm so our body gives itself time during the night to perform its functions optimally while we are resting.

Having said that and believing in everything he said, I was able to follow the pattern for some time only but the last meal is very difficult to follow mainly because I have night classes and leave early evening and return late around 11pm.

Back to the point which is I haven’t been able to follow his given schedule to the T at the moment and am still worried about the deficiency because I still can’t feel my legs and feet which is the most obvious symptom of all among everything else.

I am planning to go back to India soon next month or so to get myself treated again in a Naturopathy Centre because in my experience, my body has healed itself naturally before without the use of any medicines in the right environment and by eating the right foods.

Has anyone ever gone through the same things? Please help me out and let me know how you overcame it. I would be very grateful.

Cheers to good health!

I am a Beliebster !

Yay ! I got nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by Skinny Muffin some weeks ago and I am so excited ! Excited because now I know that there are people out there who do read my blog and appreciate it ! That’s a pretty awesome feeling !! So thank you, Skinny Muffin for this lovely nomination ! I am truly grateful for this honor !  😀

lieber-award (1)

As a newbie blogger, I really didn’t know what the Liebster Blog Award was for until I read this post on it. It’s an award given by bloggers to other bloggers who have 1000 followers or less. These are the original rules for spreading forward the love:

The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award 

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you. 4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

 

Skinny Muffin asked me 10 questions which I shall answer here:

1. What is your favorite movie? I adore romantic comedies, they’re my release and my all-time favourite movie is “You’ve Got Mail”. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan really give me the tingles each time they come on screen.

2. What is your biggest fear? My biggest fear is not being able to overcome many irrational fears that are holding me back.

3. What food would you request as your last meal? If I were staring death in the face and had to ask for my last meal, I would definitely go for a thin-crust crispy EXTRA LARGE vegetable pizza. Full of gluten and completely cheesy. I would also request for chilled yoghurt and buttermilk since I do miss these terribly sometimes.

4. What is one cooking utensil you have always wanted but have never bought? There are so many utensils and appliances that I want but I think one of them is a vegetable chopper that will make my life so much easier.

5. Coffee or tea? Definitely tea. A hot piping cup of Indian Masala Chai.

6. What do you do in your free time? I read a lot of chick lits, food blogs and watch many movies and TV series’. Currently watching ‘The Newsroom”

7. What is your favorite thing to cook? Not very accomplished at cooking just yet, but I love making anything related to rice and quinoa. Very versatile and very easy.

8. What is your dream car? I love convertibles. And I love spacious cars. But what I would really like to own is a fuel-efficient/battery-operated spacious convertible. Hint, hint – Is anyone in the automobile industry reading this?

9. What was the last dream you had that you can remember? I don’t remember much but I remember the odd, uncomfortable feeling I got when I woke up on having a bad dream recently.

10. If calories didn’t exist for a day, what would you eat? EVERY CARB I had to give up (provided I could digest it all) It has to be all vegetarian though!

11 Random Facts about myself:

1. I don’t quite look my real age. And I’m very petite and skinny too. (Not tooting my horn, since this works as a disadvantage most of the time ! :O )

2. My love for food stemmed from reading Enid Blyton books when I was younger. The vivid descriptions of food have stayed in my mind all these years and I wish I could experience everything that the Famous Five, Secret Seven and Five Find-Outers experienced !

3. I am a teetotaler.

4. I am obsessed with Tom Hiddleston because of the person that he is. More and more people should take a leaf out of his book and develop a happy and positive outlook towards life.

5. I would really love to live in an eco-friendly cottage in the country with a garden full of homegrown stuff.

6. I really wish WiFi and mobile phones hadn’t been invented. (Crazy I know! But I hate the way I have become a slave to these two evils!) 😥

7. I quit drinking fizzy drinks when I was 12 because they made me very very sick. I am convinced that they are the evillest of them all.

8. We cannot ever be friends, if you start telling me about any REAL animal product you bought. Sorry.

9. I am not into branded stuff so I might judge you if you say “I just bought xxxxx shoes/clothes/purse/watch” all the time.

10. Ever since I can remember, I have been sleeping with my feet sticking out of my blanket. Not sure why I do this but I don’t like them trapped.

11. I don’t understand why more and more people are moving towards atheism nowadays. Be spiritual if you must but please keep the faith going in a higher power that has created us and is sustaining us. It couldn’t have all happened by coincidence.

11 questions for 5 lovely nominated bloggers who will answer them on their blog and keep the chain moving….

 

Solar Cooking Challenge | The Dreamy Idealist | Aiming to live as ‘Green’ as possible | All you need is Hummus | Made in Kachchh

1. Who’s your favorite celebrity chef and what one question would you love to ask them?

2. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

3. What’s your comfort food?

4. Which country has always fascinated you and why?

5. Is there a myth you would like to break?

6. Is there something you truly believe in that people around you don’t quite understand?

7. The one time when you experienced absolute bliss.

8. Your stress-buster?

9. What is the hardest thing you have ever had to give up?

10. If you could live someone else’s life for a day, who would you choose and why?

11. What one important thing would you definitely like to do in this lifetime that holds some deep meaning to you?

 

I hope you have as much as fun as I did in answering and creating questions.  Congratulations and keep blogging ! We love to read your stories ! 😀

Guilty Pleasures – Food, Film and Foodgasms!

I love food and I love film and TV. As I am sure, so do you. But I love it most when they are together on screen. I swear, Food on Film should be a genre in itself. Imagine the kind of conversations we could be having.

– What movie are you watching tonight?
– Oh, I’m watching a Fomedy starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep called ‘Julie & Julia’.

Okay, maybe not the best kind of conversation but you get my drift.

Before I turned vegan and gluten-free, I would drool over each and every pizza, pasta and sandwich scene that hit the screen and then go relive that scene in reality. Now that I don’t crave bread or dairy products anymore, it doesn’t make much of a difference to me. Oh, who am I kidding? My eyes still dilate at the sight of melted cheese and my nostrils flare wide at the memory of freshly baked bread. Even if I can’t eat it, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the memory of what used to be comforting, right?

So without further delay, here’s presenting my top 15 favorite non-vegan, gluten-laden food on film scenes ever !

1. Eat, Pray, Love – Pizza Scene – Remember the part where Julia Roberts is in a relationship? With her Margarita pizza? Yes, that one. While digging her beautiful teeth into her rich tangy pie, she gives thoughtful insights on how important it is to let go and stop feeling guilty about every calorie you put in your body. #YOLO !

2. Eat, Pray, Love – Pasta SceneWho needs love when you have a bowl of fresh pasta in front of you? Julia Roberts demonstrates how important it is to love yourself first ! Watching Julia radiating inner peace with a smile on her face while slurping on her tomato-basil spaghetti was one of the best moments ever.

3. America’s Sweethearts – Breakfast SceneJulia Roberts can make eating anything, in any fashion, a delightful spectacle ! Even if she is, quite literally, attacking a stack of pancakes in vexation and moaning about the lack of butter!

4. Pretty Woman – Breakfast Scene in Hotel Room – I just realized the extraordinary number of scenes Julia has had on film with her mouth full. This scene is no less. Julia Roberts looks so sweet and vulnerable in a bathrobe with her feet up while eating a croissant and a pancake with her bare hands.

5. Julie and Julia – Bruschetta Scene – This is definitely one of my favorite scenes ever from one of my favorite films because it is completely dedicated to the art of cooking and blogging! Here Amy Adams serves up a lovely myriad of colors in the form of a plate of crispy bruschetta with bell peppers and tomatoes as toppings. Not only is it a pleasant sight, but also apparently tastes amazing which is evident in the way her on-screen husband Chris Messina responds , “This is good. This is really good.” P.S. – Chris Messina shows us the meaning of ‘foodgasming’, as he gorges on everything that his wife makes and moans with absolute pleasure throughout the film.

6. The Importance of Being Earnest – Cucumber Sandwich – There was something very appealing and very very British about two grown men devouring bite-sized cucumber sandwiches, that were only meant for their Aunt Augusta.

7. The Importance of Being Earnest – Eating Muffins Agitatedly Watching the usually solemn and (earnest!) Colin Firth get into a tussle with Rupert Everett over muffins in this comedy of errors was simply adorable. As Rupert Everett rightly remarks, “I can hardly eat muffins in an agitated manner, can I?”

8. Matilda – Matilda Makes Pancakes – Matilda is one of the strongest little girls on screen. She is positive, upbeat and never one to back down from difficult people and situations. Here she demonstrates her cooking skills as she makes some pancakes for herself when her aunt and uncle are away.

9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Opening Breakfast SceneElegant Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly makes this scene the most memorable ever as she gazes into the display window of Tiffany’s on an early Sunday morning, eating a Danish pastry and sipping on coffee to the score of the soulful “Moon River”.

10. Mr. Bean – How to make a sandwich from scratch in the park Who can resist laughing at anything the lovably absurd and innocent Mr.Bean does? I adore this scene simply because of its sheer originality. Only he could think of something like carrying a slab of butter in his overcoat pocket and spreading it on bread slices with a credit card! A real comical treat to watch, albeit slightly cringe-worthy. I won’t say any more, please watch it !

11. F.R.I.E.N.D.S – Ross’s Sandwich The usually affable Ross demonstrates an insurmountable level of rage when his favorite turkey leftover sandwich is taken by someone at work. While you cannot see any sandwich in the scene, hearing Ross describing it in detail and crediting it as “the only good thing going on in his life” is quite comical and somehow relatable. You cannot help but feel for him.

12. Julia and Julia – Chocolate Pie Scene – Resisting cocoa is like resisting life itself. Because, chocolate makes everything so much simpler. And messy at the same time.

13.  Julie and Julia – What Julie loves about cooking?Julie loves that cooking is a way of unwinding and the one thing she is sure of. Again, Chris Messina licks chocolate off of the spatula quite greedily. He plays the role of a pretty supportive husband in his wife’s cooking and blogging endeavors.

14. 13 Going on 30 – Breakfast SceneJennifer Garner asks her mother about regrets and going back in time to fix things while slowly nibbling on pancakes garnished with strawberries and raisins and sipping milk. I love the peaceful look on her mother’s face as she delicately stirs sugar in her tea.

15. Hell Baby – Sandwich Eating Scene – I confess, I haven’t actually seen this movie nor had I come across this scene before I decided to write this blog post. I just loved this scene for what it was. Four macho men enjoying a very masculine favorite – a sandwich. No dialogues necessary. Just some grunts, moans, foodgasms, followed by the sound of crunchy chips, gulping beer, and very satisfied burps and some other rude noises. As one of the guys keeps saying, “Yeah!” “Yeah” “Yeah”.

I find solace in the comfort of a well presented meal, the colors and textures give me hope and happiness. I don’t know if that made much sense but I hope you enjoyed watching these scenes as much as I did. Please do let me know what your favorite food-related scenes are. 🙂

 

P.S. – I do not own any of the video links or GIF images posted here. No copyright infringement intended.

Hiatus from the Personal Challenge

I really do apologize dear readers, but I have had to take a hiatus from the Personal Challenge. I have successfully completed the first 13 days of this endeavor but had to take a break due to my exams. I pledge that I will complete this challenge as soon as my exams get over by the end of this month. 

Till then, keep it healthy. 🙂

An Evening with the Master

The Smiling Chef of India

The Smiling Chef of India

As every Indian, irrespective of where he/she resides has heard of the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, similarly every Indian foodie, irrespective of whether he/she cooks or not, has definitely heard of legendary Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, the most famous celebrity chef from India.

He is the Godfather of Indian cooking with a fan following of easily millions of people (including men!) who have been avid viewers of his popular television cooking show Khana Khazana for more than 20 years and his own cookery channel FoodFood. He has made cooking therapeutic for many rather than a requirement for daily survival with his soothing and serene personality and a charming smile that never wavers.

It was the privilege and dream of over a hundred people gathered at Sharjah International Book Fair 2013 (SIBF) to meet their beloved celebrity chef in the flesh. In true Sanjeev Kapoor style, he addressed the cheering crowd with folded hands and his most famous TV greeting, “Aap sabhi Ko Sanjeev Kapoor ka pyaar bhara Namaskaar!” (A love-filled welcome to you all from Sanjeev Kapoor!)

Many were left nodding their heads in agreement or laughing with mild embarrassment when his opening statements hit one very close to home. “There are many people who watch cooking shows, who read recipe books, who collect recipes from different sources, watch channels on TV on food to learn how to cook. But actually 90% of these people dream of cooking or keep on collecting recipes in the hope that one day they will cook.”, he said.

He went on to correct the misconception that when most people cook, they are not cooking something original. They are usually recreating or copying something that they have already seen from a source – either on television, or their mother’s or mother-in-laws recipe. To create one’s own unique recipe, one must know what they are cooking with. “First thing to know is to understand tastes and ingredients. We normally taste dishes but not the ingredients.”, Chef advises.

An inspiring and positive personality that kept the crowd entertained with his humorous quips and tales, Sanjeev Kapoor invited the crowd to ask him anything they wanted, even “When will Salman Khan get married?” eliciting chuckles from the audience.

Many audience members had concerns about many ingredients that they were using and whether they were healthy or not. Sanjeev Kapoor dismissed all concerns by summing it up simply, “I always say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Everyday keep learning more. For healthy living, moderation is the key. Do not overdo anything.”

When asked how one can incorporate gluten and lactose intolerances and allergies into Indian cuisine, Chef’s best advice was to know your ingredients well and to find similar forums and groups where gluten-free and lactose-free Indian food is being discussed and use their knowledge.

A very young chef-in-the-making expressed her concern that she gets disheartened whenever she fails at making something, to which Chef wisely replied, “Don’t think that once you cook a recipe, it’ll be perfect. Have patience. It’s likes everything else, it takes practice. It’s okay to go wrong. It’s okay to fail. Most of the time, what is the time when you try a new recipe? When there is a party, or when people are coming home. There is a lot of pressure already. Don’t do it. What you do right, just follow that. Forget what went wrong.”

He remembered his childhood days fondly and how he was incredibly lucky to have a supportive family that encouraged him in whatever he did. “Fortunately for me, the environment around me that was created by my parents was very nice. We were brought up in an environment, where even if we did anything wrong, there was encouragement. So we never felt there was anything as failure, we were always encouraged, ‘Oh, maybe next time you’ll do it.’ So for me, I got it easy. I was not afraid of failure. I’ve never been afraid of failure. I believe that it is okay to fail. It is okay to do something wrong. Because from there learning comes and if you accept that failure is okay, you can only look up.”

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s motto in life when it comes to cooking is to think simple. “It is more difficult to think simple things. Complicated things can be followed. but simple things have to be created.”

A powerhouse of great advice, Chef encourages beginners to always “Keep on trying. Create things that you like. Don’t cook with things that you don’t like when you are beginning to cook. Create more successes. Think of ingredients that you know that your family would like to eat. Begin with that. Once you have opened that door, then its easy.”

Well, if the Master says that it’s easy, we believe him.

Jan 6 – Day 6 – Spinach and Corn Rice Medley

We have a family meal policy, “There shall not be a grain of food leftover or wasted.” In other words, we often reheat our lunch and have it for dinner. Not very exciting, I know. 😦

This is hard especially when cooked and forgotten food gets lost in the black hole that is our big refrigerator. We don’t see it for days and then have to throw it away with a sinking heart. 

When I was staying with one of my aunts in India for the better part of a year, I picked up a little trick from her. My aunt is a big fan of recycling lunch leftovers for dinner. She can instantly whip up a delicious supper using the leftovers and not have to worry about missing out on her favorite back-to-back evening TV series’. Win Win !

So here’s a little medleyI came up with, using some leftover rice and a spinach gravy that we had for lunch. This is the simplest I could come up with the ingredients that I already had.

Ingredients:

2 cups leftover rice
1 and 1/4 cup leftover spinach gravy (Mine was a typically Indian style vegetable gravy so it had turmeric and other spices already added to it. You can add the spices/chillies additionally if you wish)
1 medium sized onion – chopped
1 clove garlic – chopped
1/4 cup corn (I boiled the frozen kind)
1 tbsp vegetable oil (or Olive Oil)
4-5 curry leaves
Salt, to taste.
Juice of 1 Lemon

Method:

1. Heat oil in a pan and when its slightly hot, add the curry leaves and watch them crackle.

2. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute till the garlic loses its raw smell slightly.

3. Add onions and saute till they become light pink and translucent.

4. Mix the rice and saute well with the onions and garlic for about two minutes.

5. At this point, you can add the Spinach gravy and the corn to the rice and mix till the rice is all coated. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 3-4 minutes. I had heated the gravy beforehand and added extra salt to it before mixing it in with the rice.

6. Just before serving, drizzle lemon juice and mix well.

7. Serve and enjoy! I had some extra gravy left so I served the rice with it. You can even serve it with tomato soup or a salad. 

Spinach and Corn Rice Parody

Spinach and Corn Rice Medley

Jan 5 – Day 5 – A Japanese dinner

I hadn’t expected to skip a day of this challenge especially in the first week but there you have it. I didn’t cook on the 5th day. 😦

Instead, I had dinner in a Japanese restaurant in Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa – Sho Cho for my cousin’s birthday celebration. It was kind of difficult because the restaurant didn’t have many gluten-free, vegan options.

But, bringing myself back to the topic of my challenge, I vowed to cover up my missed day by cooking an extra recipe over the weekend.