Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Trending Now: Organic Foods

Whether it's because of concern over food safety, ecological damage, or simply a desire to eat fresher, less processed foods, more and more food shoppers are buying organic these days. This food trend definitely inspires hope and encouragement. For in the mere act of purchasing an organic product, a whole philosophy of living comes into play, not just nutritionally but also environmentally. The organic movement supports an entire economy of agriculture, ecological preservation, farmers and best of all ensures a chemical-free diet.

And the great news for Organic Food lovers is that the entire gamut of organic ingredients available now is amazing. Natures Basket is proud to offer an extensive range of offerings from fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to dry pulses, spices, oils, flours, juices and ready to eat snacks.
In addition to stocking a variety of products from smaller producers, Nature’s Basket also support and partner with Conscious Foods and 24 Letter Mantra; two large producers of organic ingredients. Here are a few ideas from us for new and wonderful things you can do with organic produce.

Fruit is so delicious just by itself, isn't it? When it is organic, it becomes even more so! Studies say that it is advisable to consume organic options in any fruit that is eaten with the skin on such as green apples, pears, grapes and chikoos as the skins tend to be a repository for pesticides. Organic fruit can add wholesome goodness to any meal from breakfast to dinner. Dice it into a fresh fruit salsa to top morning cereal bowls or porridge. Slice up some fruit for a quick snack. Chop organic fruit into wedges to make a fruit platter of fruit salad and drizzle with a little of one of our organic honeys to dress it up for a light and wonderful dessert. Skewer chunks onto satay sticks and serve with a sweet sauce for a fruit fondue.
Vegetables are so important at any meal. They add taste, colour, texture and invaluable nutrients to a meal. Which is why only the freshest ones will do! To increase the overall flavour and nutritional value of the dish, pick organic, unsprayed veggies. Especially important in salads where they consumed raw, organic leaves retain their crunch and freshness making for a delicious meal. Try tossing torn arugula with sweet pear slices, crumbled walnuts, and shaved parmesan in freshly whisked vinaigrette for a great organic salad. Or prepare dinner by quickly slicing bell peppers, onions, red cabbage and carrots and stir frying them in a seasoning of garlic and bird’s eye chilli in toasted sesame oil.

Essential to making all food, organic or not, come together deliciously are salt spices and herbs. Tiny in size but intense in flavour, organic spices are naturally free from nasty, chemical additives. Enjoy the hit of black pepper in a Chicken peppery soup or brew some spiced mulled wine to keep yourself warm. Chop and mix parsley and coriander with ricotta cheese and bake in puff pastry for a herby treat. Pound basil leaves with garlic and olive oil to make your own pesto. Or if you find yourself coming down with a cough, warm some milk with a teaspoon of pure, unadulterated turmeric powder and drink for a DIY, instant relief.

Pantry staples like pulses, flours, flavoured oils, breakfast cereals are invaluable in the kitchen. Opt for organic options for more taste, flavour and nutrition.  Try a bowl full of amaranth muesli with wild forest honey or pressure cook a millet and brown rice combo in an onion, celery, carrot base for a filling dish of savoury porridge. Stock up on essentials like organic rice, gram dals, jaggery, peanuts or flours like soya, ragi, barley, wheat to ensure a holistic organic diet. Incorporate organic superfoods like alfa alfa, goji berries, chia seeds, flax seeds and other seed mixes into daily meals to get your daily vitamin requirements.

So, go ahead and stock up on all the goodness of organic food from our shelves. Your bodies and the environment will be better for it.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Romance in the Mornings: Some Breakfast Ideas

If you would like to make your loved one feel special this Valentine’s Day , what better way to do so than to surprise them in bed with a pretty tray full of fresh, home-cooked breakfast? There’s something heart-warming about having a tray of hot food brought to your bedside. 
All you need is some creativity and a few minutes more than normal. 

(Image credit: Pinterest.com)

Cereal Love..
Is breakfast usually cereal? A few quick touches and you can make it superb!
Serve in a colourful ceramic bowl; try a new flavour - cinnamon flavoured oats perhaps? 
Top with some toasted almonds or honey and finish with apples. Or layer muesli in a clear glass with frozen yogurt like a parfait and finish with fresh berries. 

Toast your love
Is bread/toast your morning starter? 
Choose from a wide selection of options to dress things up…. Opt for Cheese muffins or Chocolate croissants to enjoy with your morning cuppa. Or pick up some focaccia studded with olives or cherry tomatoes to tear with your hands and offer it to your loved one with some tapenade or pesto for a quick Mediterranean breakfast. 

(Image credit: Pinterest.com)

Smooth sailing
Prefer to start your day with a smoothie or milkshake? Try a combination of chocolate and strawberry, peanut butter and chocolate, banana and Nutella, orange and other berries for some truly wonderful shakes. 
Alternatively, add some strawberries to your OJ and turn it into a crimson love potion! 

(Image credit: Pinterest.com)

French kissing
Add a twist to the classic French toast with this idea! Lavishly slather slices of bread with Nutella and sandwich together. Then gently fry in butter on a hot pan. Serve with strawberries or caramelised orange segments macerated in wine or Cointreau. Nutella not your thing? Try different spreads, preserves and jams. 

(Image credit: Pinterest.com)

Pancake love
Use a ready pancake mix to quickly whip up a stack of spongy pancakes. Keep them plain or flavour by adding vanilla bean, coffee or chocolate to the mix. Top with some compound orange butter, nutella,  honey or splurge with a dollop of ice-cream ! Add that gourmet touch, with fruit like oranges, grapes, berries macerated in a splash of Cointreau or wine for the most decadent start to the day. Sugar to sweet to start your day with? 
Try a savoury approach with thinner crepes stuffed with cheese and salami. Or shredded chicken with aherb mayonnaise. 

Say it with flowers
None of our suggestions hit the spot? Cook up your lover’s favourite dish and garnish it with some of our edible flowers in vivid colours from yellow to flame red, guaranteed to instantly brighten up any plate…
Preparing and serving a special breakfast is easy. A few small touches; pretty tray cloth, colourful plates or doilies, the good cutlery and a little planning of colours and shapes of the meal itself will make for a special meal that will make that person feel special. 

(Image credit: theedibleflowershop.co.uk)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Culinary Astrology

Culinary Astrology

Did you know that an Aries would find excitement in boisterous meat parties while Cancerians enjoy foods that are comforting and remind one of home? That the with-it Leo,loves a posh restaurant favoured by celebs but the Scorpio craves solitude and anonymity?

According to astrologers, the zodiac can help you woo your lover. So whether you are planning a dinner out or cooking up a meal from scratch this Valentine’s Day tap into some age-old astrology insights to make it even more special!

Here is a handy guide from us with an astrological profiling of ingredients, flavour and cuisine preferences based on Zodiac Signs to help you create a culinary experience with a difference. Cook a meal based on their likes or create an experience that matchesboth your preferences. Make things interesting…After all, you are what you eat.

Aries (March 21st-April 19th)
Those born under this first sign in the Zodiac tend to be boisterous and loud. Aries rules iron and fire which translates into a passion for red meat, spice, barbecues, grills and the like. A crackling flame cooked, chilli infused marinated meat, would be just the thing for an Arian. Try CarribeanJerk chicken’s with our Jerk Seasoning. One of the tastiest spiciest dishes in the world aromatic with Jamaican allspice, cloves, cinnamon, zinged up with a couple of fiery Scotch Bonnet peppers into a grill that packs a serious kick. Cool it off with flatbreads and yogurt dip or enhance the burn with a ginger laced rice!

Taurus (April 20th-May 20th)
Sophisticated, elegant, refined. These are the traits that best define the palate of a Taurus. They know their way around wine and luxury ingredients like truffles, foiegras, etc and detest a mess of numerous flavours. They are best pleased with sensuous meals that so we recommend you put together a platter of some of our lovely meats, Prociutto, Black forrest Ham, Mortadella, match it to a fabulous wine and end with a decadent chocolate dessert. 

Gemini (May 21st-June 20th)
Always up and about, Gemini are best pleased with food in small portions like tapas or meals on the go like sandwiches, wraps, etc. So a heavy, 7course meal is a complete no-no.  Instead keep it light and simple with a cleverly put together selection of beautifully matched canapes in unusual flavour combinations and textures, little morsel od fruit and cheese combinations, salty meats rolled around sweet melon or pears, innovative dips and chip combinations, we recommend quiche shells filled with smoked salmon and capers.  

Cancer (June 21st-July 22nd)
Cancerians tend to be moody with frequent nostalgia trips to the ‘good old days’. So call up his/her mom and re-create that feeling of comfort again with a rustic, home-cooked meal. So refrain from taking them to modern glass and steel restaurants. Instead take them to an old college haunt, an inn or a home-stay. And at home they will be happiest digging into a slow simmered casserole or cheese enriches lasagne.

Leo (July 23rd-August 22nd)
Those born under the Leo sign seek refinement in food like Taurus and Capricorn. However, just an expensive meal won’t do for a Leo seeking a special night to remember. Focus on the ambience, music, accompaniments, a surprise element along with an extravagant meal to please a Leo looking to create memories. May we suggest a 3 course Italian mean with an antipasti platter, pasta and Tiramisu for dessert.

Virgo (August 23rd-September 22nd)
Health conscious and persistently so, Virgos can be picky eaters. Include a lot of fresh, organic fruits, vegetables nuts, grains and herbs in a meal to suit their taste. Take them out to a reputed sushi bar for a meal they would truly appreciate. Or lay an Mediterranean mezze with an array of salads, yogurt dips, breads and finger foods that you can feed each other while you watch a romatic movie.

Libra (September 23rd-October 22nd)
A leisurely yet tasteful meal with delicate finger foods suit the Librans refined palate. Take them out to a traditional high tea or indulge them with pretty and luxurious confections to win their approval. Pick from an array of chocolates and candied confections on our shelves to sweeten the evening.

Scorpio (October 23rd-November 21st)
When dining out with Scorpio, ask for a good table with privacy or better yet a private room. Stay away from noisy, overcrowded places. Known to be the sign of steakhouses, sample different types of meats and the wines they go with. A Korean meal of meats barbecues at your table would be ideal, shared in the intimacy of your home or in a private dining area of your local Korean restaurant.

Sagittarius (November 22nd-December 21st)
Globetrotters at heart with an international palate, Sagittarians are adventurous eaters always looking for a new dish to try. They are all about variety, bounty and travel. Take them out on a food trail of the city in search of the perfect version of their favourite dish or attend food festivals of their preferred cuisine. Or lay a table with different dishes from around the world and take them on a food safari!

Capricorn (December 22nd-January 19th)
Possessing an acute financial sense, a Capricorn is not a fussy eater but looks at food from the Value for Money angle. Yet when they splurge on food, they expect it to be special in the sense that it should carry social prominence or historical relevance. An elaborate Italian meal is ideal with all the frills and fancies is ideal!

Aquarius (January 20th-February 18th)
Aquarians love food that has a techy side and like to stay updated on the latest trends. This applies to their food as well. Inquisitive by nature, they can also be unconventional. Take them to a molecular gastronomy restaurant and watch them squeal with delight at each innovative dish. Experimentwith unusual ingredients like jellyfish, edible flowers, flavoured salts, single flora honey, quail eggs, naga chillies and other Haute ingredients for a special meal for them!

Pisces (February 19th-March 20th)
With a dispositon toward sensitive digestive systems, they seek fresh and light meals. As befits their sigil, the fish, a Piscean would feet most comfortable at a lavish seafood spread overlooking the ocean. Good company, intelligent conversation and delicious food will make them happy. Simmer up a seafood stew or arrange a saefood canape platter for them to win their hearts.