Presto Pesto

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The saying about only appreciating things when you don’t have them – so true.

When we moved to India, one of the biggest problems for me was getting used to the fact that lots of the fresh products I was used to getting in Singapore were just not available widely here. I mean, you can still get things like raspberries, blueberries, avocados and asparagus but you have to go to specialty ‘gourmet’ stores and they’re extremely overpriced. Things I had taken for granted like basil, I now relished.

But now that we’ve moved into our own house we have lots of fresh produce growing in our own garden! We have spinach, methi (fenugreek), basil, mini oranges…  So you would think that now I have an almost endless supply of fresh basil I would be using it 24/7. Right?

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But yeah… not so much. Since we’ve moved into the house (5 months) I think I’ve used basil approximately… 3 times. And in that time we have probably gone through 10-12 jars of store bought pesto. I know, I know. Disgraceful.

It’s just that the whole process seems like so much work. It’s easier to just buy a ready made jar and not think about it. But when I went out one day and saw that the basil plant was slowly drying up I decided it was time to change.

And I’m so glad I did! Making pesto is so easy – it takes practically 15 minutes and most of that time is spent getting the pesto out of the food processor! When you make your own pesto, you can alter the flavors to your liking and experiment with different nuts and even add in other herbs. Also the taste of fresh pesto exceeds store bought by a landslide!

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So no further ado.. here’s an amazing, customizable, pesto recipe inspired by love and lemons.

How to customize:

I always use 2/3 basil + 1/3 coriander because otherwise the basil flavor is a bit too strong, but feel free to use all basil or experiment with addition of other herbs like mint or arugula

For the nuts I used a combination of walnuts and almonds, but you can use any nuts – pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans.. Pine nuts are generally the best for pesto but I didn’t have any on hand 🙂

Add in some grated parmesan cheese, some nutritional yeast or a dash of balsamic vinegar for some extra kick. Most recipes also use black pepper but I prefer the taste without it. It’s a personal opinion though so if you like it – go for it!

Basil Pesto

(Makes around 1 cup)

  • 1 1/2 cup herbs
  • 1/4 cup nuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and paprika/chili flakes
  1. Lightly toast the nuts in a small plan until lightly browned
  2. Add all the ingredients in a food processor until well blended
  3. Taste and adjust the salt or acidity if necessary. If too sour, add a splash of honey or agave syrup.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Banana Oatmeal with Toppings

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Chocolate for breakfast? Whaaaat?

I was never an oatmeal person but recently I’ve converted. Or maybe I just like to have an excuse to pile on toppings. I’ve always been big on toppings – ice cream sundaes, pizzas, tacos – it’s the toppings that cinch the deal.

And this breakfast couldn’t be easier. The basic oatmeal is 4 (!!) ingredients and takes around 5 minutes. Decide on what type of oatmeal you want to have, add toppings, and you’re good to go!

Anyway. This is an extremely healthy yet indulgent breakfast. Feel free to play with the toppings and add ins however you wish!  I’ve given you a basic oatmeal recipe with lots of variations! The one pictured above is chocolate banana oatmeal with banana slices, chocolate sprinkles, honey, cashew butter and toasted hazelnuts.

Variations:

– Chocolate Banana – Add 1 tsp cocoa powder and 1/2 mashed banana, top with the other half of the banana slices and chocolate sprinkles/chips

– Pumpkin pie – Add 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon and 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

– Apple pie – Add 1/2 diced apple, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a handful of raisins, replace sugar with honey

– Cinnamon banana bread – Add 1/2 mashed banana and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, replace sugar with honey

– Coffee – Add 1 tsp instant coffee powder and increase sugar by a bit

– Peanut Butter & Jam – Add 1 tsp peanut butter, top with peanut butter and jam

– Pina Colada – Add 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut, top with pineapple/mango/peach

– Fruit & Nut – Add chopped up dried fruits (raisins/dates/dried figs/cranberries/apricots) and nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts/pecans), replace sugar with honey, top with nut butter and more dried fruit and nuts

– Banana Nut Crunch – Add 1/2 mashed banana and chopped nuts, top with granola and sliced banana and more nuts

– Chocolate explosion – Add 1 tsp cocoa powder, chopped dates (optional) and chocolate chips, top with more chocolate chips or chocolate sauce

– Or you could just play around with the add ins and toppings to suit your fancy!

More Topping Ideas

Fresh fruit (berries, mango, pineapple, peach, apple, pear, banana etc.)

Dried fruit

Nuts

Nut Butters, Nutella

Chocolate sprinkles, Chocolate chips, Chocolate sauce

Shredded Coconut

Honey, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon sugar

Granola, Popped Amaranth

Flax seed, sunflower seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds

Basic Recipe:

1/2 cup quick oats

1 cup milk (I used normal low fat milk, but a non-dairy milk like almond or soy would also work)

1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar (according to taste, added ingredients and toppings)

1 tsp vanilla essence

Cook milk over low heat

Add oats and sugar, bring to a boil

Add vanilla essence and other add-ins, cook for a a couple of minutes

Transfer to a bowl and add toppings

Pancakes

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I love breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day – probably because it’s the only meal for which you can have dessert and people won’t look at you like you’re crazy.
Pudding for dinner is a no-no but french toast for breakfast is okay.

I don’t get it but I’m not complaining. Especially when pancakes are on the menu.

Pancakes have always been a personal favorite for me. With maple syrup or whipped cream, fresh fruits or chocolate chips, pancakes are always amazing.

This is a simple but delicious recipe for pancakes. Whenever there’s buttermilk at home, I find an excuse to make these!

There are tons of heavy, decadent pancake recipes out there. Although peanut butter-chocolate pancakes like these or these tiramisu pancakes would be delicious, these simple poppy seed buttermilk pancakes are light and perfect to quickly whip up and satisfy a morning sweet craving.

They are practically fool proof. I’ve made them several times, changing up the flavors and flours and they always turn out fluffy and divine.

Adapted from here

I add some brown sugar for sweetness and some vanilla essence to give it a bit more flavor. I normally don’t have baking soda so I substitute it for all baking powder and the texture is still quite fluffy. If you don’t have/like whole wheat flour, feel free to use all purpose but I love the nutty, wholesome taste it gives. And of course, it’s much healthier.

Variations:
– Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest or orange zest
– Add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
– Use walnuts or almonds or any other nut instead of sunflower seeds

Poppy Seed Buttermilk Pancakes (Makes around 8 pancakes)

1 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/5 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 1/4 cups organic buttermilk
1 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoons butter (softened)
1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
a bit of butter or olive oil for the pan

Mix flour, baking powder, salt & seeds in a large mixing bowl.
Add buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, butter and sugar and mix until combined well.
Heat a dab of butter or 1/2 tsp olive oil on a flat pan
Pour some batter on the pan and wait for a a minute or two until the pancakes fluffs up and is brown on the bottom. Flip and cook the other side.
Add a bit more oil or butter as required and repeat with the rest of the batter.
Serve hot, with maple syrup or honey and some fresh fruits and nuts.