Baking | Wholewheat Dark Chocolate Biscotti, GF Buckwheat Mini Apple Pies & Wholegrain Coffee Chocolate Chip Cake … & a product review #élan

“You begin with the possibilities of the material.”
Robert Rauschenberg

Baking & Serving with élanMy love for food props is understated. I am avid lover and collector of any prop related to food, from a spoon to a cauldron! It’s no secret that I haunt the streets of Old Delhi looking for vintage finds, that I browse Etsy just to drool, that Pinterest is another favourite hang out. That’s probably the tip of the iceberg as food photography props are an obsession! élan is a refreshing discovery!

living with elan I rarely veer towards bright colourful props, maybe something to do with my inherent bend of mind towards pristine neutral whites and dull un-shiny metallics! No longer though! I was recently sent this BRIGHT POP ART styled cake stand with server, and 3 tier stand. Gingerly taken out of ‘the well packed box‘, they bowled me over!!

living with elan This was where the very talented NY art school graduate Vidushi Gupta, the creative brain behind ‘Living with elan‘ comes in. She describes herself as  “passionate about the tactile, the messy, and the raw – designs and colors that transcend the mundane and bring joy to your everyday life.

living with elan

élan is a treasure-trove of fascinating lifestyle products waiting for you to organise, garden, entertain, gift, and even entice. Buckets, boxes, caddies, gardening tools, blackboard markers, suspended hearts-birds-mini homes, lanterns, stools, trays, napkin rings and more! Enjoy basic geometrics, vivid colors, patterns, and raw textures. Each piece is handmade.

living with elan I was instantly drawn to the bright, cheerful colours, the interesting and refreshing designs, and the powder coated finish. I love metallic bric-a-brac, and élan fills my heart with joy. That they used the rather underrated and unexplored world of galvanized sheet metal {read unbreakable , long lasting and sturdy} is a HUGE plus for me.

living with elan  The filigree lacework on the cake stand and matching server, the very neat powder finish of the tier stand all scream quality. And this quality available in the very heart of the NCR is even better! The lady was sweet enough to offer me the rani pink cake stand {though she did ask me if I’d rather have another colour}. PINK fitted in beautifully with Pinktober and my breast cancer awareness drive.  How wonderful that the tiered stand also had a nice touch of PINK {and the server can be used with it too}… sweet!

living with elan 6The products are not painted – they are powder coated in an industrial oven to ensure maximum quality and life. All their powder coating is lead-free and safe for foods, so you can eat from any of them. There was plenty in Entertaining with élan for me, yet curiosity drove me to explore further! Plenty of ♥-tuggers I have to say…

Organizing with élan

Wooing with élan

Gardening with élan

Traveling with élan

Mini bird homes, bucket caddies, chantilly gift boxes, an amphora pitcher of l♥ve {♥♥♥}, everything organiser, a fabled accessory bucket, mughal flower bucket, a mughal pie in the sky storage box {♥♥♥}, the dabbawala box {♥♥♥} … I was running out of words! These are just a few of the products they have on offer. The vivid colours, thoughtful designs and versatile range makes sure there is something for everyone.

living with elanBetter still, they offer ‘tailor made‘ options! How cool is that? They can customise any product for you , match it with a theme or occasion, or both. Their existing line can be custom coloured to match party theme or brand colours. You can even ask for a brand logo to be added! Immense possibilities to create refreshing, happy moments!

Whola wheat almond Biscotti & Whole Wheat Coffee & Dark Chocolate Pound Cake Of course I had a field day. I made a Wholegrain Coffee Chocolate Chip Cake that morning. Almost similar to the one above, but for a teeny bit of buckwheat flour. Also sneaked some Chocolate Almond Olive Oil & Whole Wheat Biscotti from a batch baked for Mr PAB who was leaving for HKG. He likes to carry a ‘taste of home‘ with him when he travels!

GF apple walnut buckwheat piesBeing a kinda free day, I made tiny little GF apple pies with buckwheat just because …

I scribbled  the recipe on a scrap of paper and can’t find it of course. It was basically chopped apples, brown sugar, cinnamon powder, chopped walnuts & raisins, a few tbsps of buckwheat flour all tossed together. I patted them together into cupcake liners {thank you Finla}, dotted them with butter and baked them for about 20 minutes. The daughter loves anything apple, and loved these cold!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies …. #snugg

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies … felt like snug cookies. Something secure and comforting about them. The idea of course came from developing a comforting bite which felt ‘snug’ … thanks to this fabulous Snugg iphone cover I received in the mail the other day.

snugg antiradiation iphone caseI love the Snugg line of products. They spell quality and durability which is what I look for in anything I would pick. I have been using the Snugg iPad cover for a while now, and I love it to bits. The iPad  is ‘safer’ in the kitchen than ever before, and stands beautifully while I dash back and forth! Similarly, the iPhone case spells quality. In addition, this premium case sports some fantastic features.

Black iPhone 4/4S Anti Radiation Case.

– Reduces Cell Phone Radiation (SAR) by 92% and Hot Spot Radiation (EFI) by 90%!

– Ultra Thin, Lightweight, Sleek Design.

– Durable and Impact Resistant.

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies With the word snugg in mind I marched ahead with a cookie idea. I attempted to snuggly fit in some Nutella into the heart of my cookie. At the end of my experiment, wasn’t too sure if the Nutella taste came through, but the cookies were a hit alright!

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Soft cake like cookies, ‘no longer tiny’ hands sneaking them away from the cookie jar one after another. They seemed to hit the right spot with the kids. With a nice deep chocolate flavour, you could barely tell that these were whole grain cookies!

Wholemeal Chocolate Nutella Cookies Maybe it’s the recent almost 100% switchover to healthier eating & whole grains, a sign of evolving tastes. Or maybe that chocolate and wholegrain are good ‘companions’, I have had loads of luck of late. I barely ever use plain flour anymore, unless it’s a special birthday cake, or maybe partly in bread. I’ve had a patch of good luck with 100% wholewheat bread too, so I ain’t complaining!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | GF Amaranth Pom Parfaits & Amaranth Dark Chocolate Brownies – Eating smart & SmartEats

“The body is the soul’s house. Shouldn’t we therefore take care of our house so that it doesn’t fall into ruin?”
Philo

Amaranth Pom Parfaits & Amaranth Dark Chocolate Brownies Amaranth Pom Parfaits & Amaranth Dark Chocolate Brownies. Can you tell that amaranth is my latest obsession? I have been baking smart of late. Eating smart too, and hopefully spreading the word a little! You might have noticed that I am reaching more often than ever before for whole grains in my recipes. It’s a practice I strive to stick too, and have been lucky so far.AmaranthNot every time though. Amaranth is one ingredient that has caught my imagination of late. Sangeeta introduced me to it, inspiring me to experiment with this wonder grain. I strive to find better ways of including it in our diet. Popped amaranth eluded me until Cookaroo was generous enough to give me a bag!

Like buckwheat and quinoa, amaranth is an especially high-quality source of plant protein including two essential amino acids, lysine and methionine, which are generally low in grains. Amaranth is packed with iron and calcium, and its fiber content is triple that of wheat. Amaranth is completely gluten-free and suitable for those with celiac disease; what’s more, it is an especially digestible grain, making it a traditional food for people recovering from illness or transitioning from a fast or cleanse.

Amaranth Pom Parfaits The Pomegranate Salsa Parfaits made for interesting {and pretty if I may say so myself} glassfuls. A nice breakfast dish, maybe an evening snacky dessert! I love making pom salsa. It’s got a complex mix of flavours with ingredients that pair beautifully with each other.

Amaranth Pom ParfaitsGot the recipe while googling for a pom salsa. Happily enough I had everything on hand that day. We had friends over. I’ve made it a few times after that too. The flavours are refreshing. Different too. As deep, red Kandhari anaars or poms begin to flood the market again, it’s a great side to make for flat bread or crackers.

Amaranth Pom ParfaitsThe salsa worked well for these Amaranth Pom Parfaits too. Layer them, drizzle some pom molasses over them, leave them for a bit,  … and dig in! Not quite what kids might like, but we enjoyed them.

Amaranth Dark Chocolate Brownies So I got more adventurous. Ordered more amaranth online, didn’t realise I hadn’t ordered the flour. It was in grain form! We live and learn, and so did I. Tried milling it in the thermomix but didn’t quite get what I was looking for. Yet made brownies with it. They came out quite good. Gluten free too. The only drawback was that you could feel the graininess coming through. Still, the kids enjoyed them. {Recipe once I get the flour!}

Amaranth Dark Chocolate Brownies With all these healthy choices I am beginning to include in my everyday food, it’s a good time to review SmartEatsa subscription service to  delicious, natural & healthy snacks in the NCR.

SmartEats

We at SmartEats have started, what we call a “Healthy Eating Movement” towards making us and our children, healthier and happier. We have teamed up with well-known nutrition specialists to develop & find snacks which are delicious, unique and healthy. These snacks are 100% natural, made from whole grains, high in micro nutrients, high in Fiber and have balanced calories.

SmartEats is a convenient and tasty way of healthier snacking for you and your family. Your monthly membership of Rs. 499 delivers a box full of 100% Natural, Delicious, Unique and Healthy snacks along with smart-living ideas to your door. Each box contains 5 new & exciting snacks. These snacks are a delectable mix of Baked & Roasted snacks , various flavors of Nuts, and Fruits recipes, Rich tea infusions, Herbal drinks and much more. It’s a great way to “EXPLORE & DISCOVER”.

SmartEats The box arrived for a review and I was impressed with the neat packaging, both outside and inside. It had the promised 5 exciting snacks within. I reached for the nuts first. They didn’t disappoint. Honey Chili Nuts … very very nice. Well balanced, slightly chili but the honey fixed that. The Very Berry Strawberry bits were absolutely delicious and addictive. A great snacking option I thought. However I got curious as they were really sweet. Did ask the SmartEat folk who told me that liquid glucose had been added to enhance their sweetness. I’m not sure if that still makes them healthy. I’d sooner opt for fresh fruit. Next came the Lean Bean Mix which was very nice too. Maybe a little over spicy for me but nice flavours. A healthy mix of baked/roasted lentils. I think this can make a good base for a bhel puri like snack too. Some chopped onions, tomatoes, fresh coriander, a dash of lime … and I’d be a happy camper! Marching on to snack four, and it was time for Parsley Pepper Crackers. I liked these even though they could be cheesier. They were really good with the pom salsa {and the Baba Ghanouj & Muhammara I had on hand that day}. The Oat & Raisin Cookies are the only snacks that disappointed.  To be fair to them, on giving the company feedback, they tried to fix the problem and sent me another batch. Cookies for me are truly comfort food, something I would definitely reach out for again and again. That comfort is lacking here. These were too oaty, and far from crisp. The nut-oatmeal balance didn’t quite excite the palette, and I would probably give these a pass the next time.

You can reach SmartEats here. The good thing about this exciting new company is that they are eager to listen, and willing to adapt. I am impressed by the variety they have on offer, new snacks each month!

TUV SUD & AssochamInterestingly enough, there seems to be a lot happening on the food front of late. In recent times, emphasis on food safety standards has taken centre stage in the global food trade, alongside food security concerns. Assocham cohosted a day long event with TÜV SÜD … Safe Future Now Summit for Food safety – a collaborative approach today for a sustainable future in Gurgaon yesterday. I was privileged to be invited to moderate a panel discussion on “Effective implementation of new age media strategy, to safeguard consumer’s interest and enhance company’s reputation.

New social media and the food industryAs globalization increases and the food chain gets increasingly complex, it is natural for incidents of food safety to increase. Food safety was the key message delivered touching upon the power of social media, the burgeoning online market economy, how to contain a safety issue, and how to use the power of social media the leverage a food crisis to the benefit of all concerned. The consumers role as an important entity in the food chain was established. {On the panel that late afternoon were Mr. Max Hegerman, Managing Director, Edelman Digital, Mr. Samir Kuckreja, President, National Restaurant Association of India, Liz Fendt, Vice President, International Marketing, TÜV SÜD and Kishi Arora, Chef}

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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