Sweet Breakfast Quesadilla with Nut Butter

This month, our aim is to bring to you unusual recipes that use nut butters in innovative ways, not the regular spreads on bread. For today, we’ve got some fusion food coming your way, in the form of sweet quesadillas with fresh fruit in them – perfect for everyday breakfasts! This recipe gives you a full serving of fruit, as well as healthy fats and proteins.

Ingredients

  • 4 wholewheat flour tortillas (or rotis)
  • butter for frying
  • almond butter or peanut butter, to taste
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 apple cored and sliced thin
  • cinnamon
  • yogurt for serving (optional)

Spread as much nut butter as you like on each of your tortillas.

Add a layer of apples to two of the tortillas, half an apple per tortilla.

Sprinkle on a little cinnamon & honey for extra flavor.

Top with the other tortilla to make a sandwich.

In a pan, over medium heat, fry each side of the quesadilla until golden. Set aside and repeat with the second quesadilla.

Allow the quesadillas to rest about 2 to 3 minutes before cutting in half.

Serve with yogurt or creme fraiche!

*Foodstree Pro Tip: You can add bananas, Nutella, maple syrup and other toppings to this quesadilla as per your taste!

Going Nuts Over Butter?

We’re sure you’ve heard of peanut butter, but recently nut butters have become all the rage. As a snack, and a creamer, as a dip – you name it. So, let’s break them down for you here.

What is a nut butter?

To put it simply, it’s a mixture made of finely ground nuts. Due to its high fat content, it spreads like natural dairy-based butter, but is otherwise unrelated. Nut butters can be made from any of a number of nuts such as almonds, cashews, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, walnut and the humble peanut of course, among others. Even some seeds can be used to make similar butters, including pumpkin, sesame, flax and sunflower.

How is nut butter made?

While different nut butters have different flavouring agents and oils added, the essential method for all remains the same. Your favourite nuts and/or seeds are poured into a food processor and ground away. Depending on the strength of the processor and the nuts being used, this generally takes a while.

Initially the nuts will grind into a finer and finer flour, but show no signs of becoming creamy. But this is when the magic is about to happen! Eventually, the nut particles will begin exuding their natural oils, turning the flour-y mixture into a creamy rich butter.

Many variations yield slightly different results – some add a bit of oil to speed up the process, others quickly roast the nuts beforehand to give a better flavour. We’re of the opinion that these additional tweaks completely vary from nut to nut, so it’s relative. However, one thing that is never added is water-based liquids such as milk, juice, or liquid flavour extracts – that’s a sure shot recipe for a clumpy, congealed mess!

Which one is the best?

So, which butter should you go for? The answer to this question completely depends on you! Different butters have different tastes and textures, and can be used for different purposes. The Foodstree Team personally loves almond butter as their standout favourite, due to its versatility and because various flavourings can be added to it with ease.

However, there’s not much to differentiate them in terms of nutrition. Here’s approximately what you get in about 2 tbsp. of these butters:

Nut/Seed Calories Fat Carbohydrates Fiber Protein Calcium
Almond 190 16g 6g 4g 7g 80mg
Cashew 190 15g 10g 2g 6g 40mg
Peanut 190 17g 7g 3g 8g 20mg
Hazelnut 180 17g 5g 3g 4g 40mg
Macadamia 230 24g 4g 3g 2g 20mg
Soynut 190 15g 10g 5g 9g 60mg
Sunflower 180 12g 8g 4g 9g 0mg

 

Don’t be put off by their fat content – these are healthy fats that boost your heart health, reduce bad cholesterol, and decrease your risk of diabetes among other benefits. (For more on this stay tuned for our Mythbuster 2.0)

So, I think we can all agree, nut butters are an excellent addition to your staples! They are super versatile, as you’ll be able to tell with the recipes we’ve got coming up for you this month. You can head over to our shop page to get them ready made, or if you’re feeling adventurous get the ingredients to make them yourself.

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine with Goji Berries

The goji goes Moroccan! This traditionally Asian berry blends wonderfully into the flavours of a typical Moroccan dish. This is great fuss-free food, whether it’s for yourself or a party.

Prep: 15 mins | Cooking: 1 hr | Serves: 4-6 people

  • 4 tablespoons Oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 kg tomatoes, diced
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup dried goji berries
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

 

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook for approx. 3 mins. Then add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and saute for 30 seconds. Put the tomatoes into the pan and cook for a further 5 mins, stirring regularly. Then pour in the water, salt and goji berries.

Combine, turn up the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a medium-low setting and let the mixture simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and mint and simmer for 15 mins more. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Serve with a garnish of fresh mint, alongside a grain of your choice – quinoa or brown rice would be our recommendations!

El Diablo Restaurant – Who Needs a Grill When You Have a Volcano?

Summer is here in full force, and every time we step outside we can feel ourselves barbecuing in the heat. So while we’re on the topic of rising temperatures, let us introduce to you El Diablo, a Spanish restaurant that actually uses natural heat – from a volcano no less, to roast and prepare their food!

This unique restaurant is located in the Timanfaya National Park, situated on the island of Lanzarote off the western coast of Morocco. The area is famous for the Fire Mountains, or Montanas del Fuego, which were created when more than 100 volcanoes sprung up on the island.  El Diablo (which aptly translates into ‘The Devil) uses the literal fires from hell for its dishes, in the form of geothermal heat at 500 degrees Celsius that sears up the vents of the volcano that it is built on.

Constructing a restaurant atop such a massive heat source was no mean task. Architects Eduardo Caceres and Jesus Soto lay down 9 layers of basalt rock to stabilize the structure as digging a foundation was next to impossible. The vent itself is a hole in the ground on top of which food is placed on a cast iron grill to cook, and less than six feet below lies gently bubbling lava!

The menu here includes delectable local dishes as well as Continental fare, with tourists flocking here to especially try their volcanically grilled meats and fish (of course!). Along with a full meal, it is also possible to have the full volcanic experience by taking part in a tour to see the vent and grill. Dramatic cooking methods aside, the panorama from the restaurants windows is no less stunning, with its stark mountainous views.

What are your thoughts on this daredevil restaurant? Is it worth the visit? Let us know in the comments! To influence your decision – if the thought of lava shooting into the air might keep you from enjoying your meal, rest assured that the volcano has been dormant since 1824 and has been officially declared safe.

Chocolate Goji Berry Truffle

This recipe is the ultimate guilt-free dessert! Completely sugar-free, it still packs a sweet punch with its various superfood ingredients. Bite sized and perfect for any time of the day.

Prep: 20 mins | Serves: Approx 16-20 truffles

  • 2 tbsp goji berries
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 6 tbsp almonds
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 8 pitted Medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: desiccated coconut, melted dark chocolate

Grind the goji berries, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and almonds in a food processor until you have a coarse mixture. The coarseness depends on the texture you want your truffles to be.

Add the remaining ingredients – cacao nibs, cacao powder, dates, almond butter and salt to the grinder. Pulse again till the mixture comes together. It should stick together easily when you squeeze it in your hand. Add a spoon or two of water, only if necessary (is contingent on the moisture in the dates).

Take dollops of the mixture and roll into balls. Store in the refrigerator for upto two weeks in an airtight container.

Optional: You can roll your truffles in dessicated coconut, or dip them in melted chocolate (or dip and roll!) before refrigerating.  More flavour the better!

Spicy Goji Berry Soup

A healthy twist on your regular tomato soup. The addition of goji berries brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes and adds a tart kick to the spice in this soup. An invigorating and healthy addition to any meal.

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cooking Time: 15 mins | Serves: 2-4

  • 1 cup dried goji berries
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (230g approx.)
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small chili, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, torn

Wash and soak the goji berries for a few minutes to rehydrate them. You can let them soak overnight as well.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion and chili for few minutes. Add the tomatoes, goji berries and cumin seeds. Stir for another couple of minutes.

Add the stock, bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh coriander and blend the soup until smooth.

When serving, decorate with a few fresh coriander leaves, cumin seeds or even an artsy swirl of yoghurt!

Mythbuster 1.0 – Berries

Keeping in line with the berry theme this month the Foodstree team looks to bust some myths regarding them.

Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge a berry by its looks! While a perfectly symmetrical, big, spotless berry might look the most tempting, it might not be the best choice in terms of taste and health. Here’s why a) symmetricity and b) size aren’t the best basis to buy fresh berries:

  1. Uniform berries don’t automatically mean that they are of good quality. Symmetricity is generally a sign that they have been bred in high volumes for commercial purposes. Such berries look great while presenting or garnishing, but tend not to be as flavourful or juicy.
  2. The same goes for size – when it comes to berries, bigger doesn’t mean better! As a rule, bigger berries have less flavour and nutrients. A larger berry will also have a lower skin-to-water ratio, and it’s the skin where most of the nutrients lie.

Our advice would be to buy your fresh berries from a reputable and trusted source, where you can be confident that they have been grown with good practices, care and natural methods. Farmer’s markets are an excellent place for such purchases – the fruit might not be as pretty or large, but will surely be tastier and better for you!

Foodstree Pro Tip:

Don’t wash your berries until just before eating. Moisture speeds up the spoiling – so store them in a clean, dry place and they will last longer.

Quinoa, Herb & Goji Berry Salad

It’s blazing hot this summer, and nothing is as refreshing as a salad. This one is choc-a-bloc filled with protein, vitamins and all things essential. A light dressing and plenty of grain make it a complete meal in itself!

Prep Time: 15 mins | Serves: 1-2

For the dressing:

Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix well.

Toss the two together.

It’s as simple as that!

Here’s the Foodstree recipe card that you can print and add to your collection:

What is this Goji Business Anyway?

The Goji Berry – also called the ‘red diamond, ‘fruit of immortality’ and the ‘longevity fruit’. Celebrities like Madonna and Elizabeth Hurley swear by it. Chinese folklore says that it can reverse aging and let you live for centuries. Hang on tight as the Foodstree team attempts to demystify this mythical creature!

Origins

The goji berry is the small, red fruit of the goji shrub which is native to the temperate regions of China, Tibet and Mongolia. Historically, this plant has been consumed for thousands of years for medicinal and spiritual purposes, with its earliest known use being sometime in the 1st century B.C.

It has gained significant popularity in the last decade in Western markets due to its health benefits. While fresh goji may be difficult to obtain, dried goji berries are now available online readily in India. Shop them here.

Nutritional Value

There is a lot of buzz about the purported extreme health benefits of these berries. However, there is no concrete scientific proof whether these can actually reverse aging, cure cancer or fix arthritis.

What we do however know – goji berries contain all 8 essential amino acids, and are an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, vitamin A and zinc. They also have one of the highest levels of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) so they are a great anti-oxidant as well.

A single serving (15g or 1 tbsp) of goji contains:

  • Calories: 48
  • Protein: 2.1g (quite high for a fruit!)
  • Fat: 0.27g
  • Fibre: 0.75g
  • Sugar: 10.72g

They pack quite a nutritional punch in such a small package!

Taste

Fresh goji berries are sweet, but also quite sour. The dried version however, lose most of their bitterness and are a sweet but tart flavour. If you’re a fan of cranberries or cherries, this will be right up your alley.

Use

You can incorporate goji berries into your diet almost as you would raisins. Dried goji can be incorporated into your oatmeal, trail mix, salads, drinks or desserts. You can also soak dried berries in hot water for a few minutes till they are rehydrated and soft. Rehydrated berries pair well with spiced rice, salsas or chilli. Soaked goji can be easily blended into sauces, smoothies or ice-creams too.

Due to its high levels of vitamins and minerals (yes there can be too much of a good thing!), recommended intake per day is approximately 15g or 1 tablespoon, to a maximum of 2tbsp.

However, be forewarned – goji can interact with some kinds of medication. If you have low blood sugar, are using blood thinners, lactating, pregnant or have blood pressure outside the recommended range – we would advise you to talk to your medical practitioner before adding them to your diet.

To know more on how to incorporate goji into your food stay tuned – we have a range of great recipes coming up this month!

Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burger Bun

What could be better than biting into two of your favourite foods at the same time?

Imagine this – gooey, melt-y mac n’cheesiness with crunchy exterior,  a delicious patty, fresh tomatoes, crunchy lettuce, some more cheese (is enough ever enough?), a touch of Sriracha or Peri-Peri ketchup… You get our drift. A spin-off of the ramen burger trend, this bun seems like a match made in heaven. Without further ado, let’s get down into the nitty-gritties. You will need –

For the Mac’n’Cheese:

  • ⅔ cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup cheddar Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup medium cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 box macaroni, boiled
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

For making the bun:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup coarse panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • Oil for frying

 

In a saucepan over low heat, simmer the heavy cream until reduced by a third (the cream should lightly coat the back of a spoon). Add in the three cheeses and whisk thoroughly. Remove from heat. Place the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta. Season with salt and pepper, mix until well combined, and let it cool to room temperature.

Line baking tray with buttered parchment paper. Pour the prepared mac ‘n’ cheese onto the lined tray and spread out evenly; cover with another piece of buttered parchment paper. Place flat inside freezer for approximately 1-2 hours or until hard.

In 3 bowls make the following mixtures: Bowl 1 – whisked eggs; Bowl 2 – flour, half of the salt & pepper; Bowl 3 – breadcrumbs and the remaining salt and pepper. Remove the frozen mac’n’cheese as either use a cutter/katori to cut out buns of the required size, or use your hands to break and form the buns as per your requirements. Dip the formed discs in the 3 bowls in order – 1,2 and then 3.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the discs in batches, cooking them for approximately 2 minutes on each side until they become golden brown. Remove and set on a paper towel-lined plate to let the oil drain out.

Foodstree Pro Tip:

You can add a little extra to your mac’n’cheese mixture to take your bun to a new level. We’re thinking some spices – paprika, oregano or parsley? Or if you have a favourite cheese (that melts well) substitute one of the three recommended here!