Deliciously innovative home cooking

Gracias Granitas

Gracias Granitas

It is said that the forbidden fruit is always the most tempting. That holds true for any person of any age. When I was a kid, my parents were very particular about what they fed me. And very rarely was I allowed to eat food deemed to be “junk” in their dictionary. Which was of course, most food that wasn’t cooked at home or something that in my mother’s view was “unhygienically” prepared. Mind you, my mother is one person who goes to a five-star restaurant, asks for a tissue, wipes the plate and cutlery and only then proceeds to order. So, well, you get the picture; I was a fiercely protected single child, all thanks to Mommy dearest.

Coming back to the forbidden fruit. Every summer vacation our house maid came to work at our place with her kid, who was a year younger than I was. Time and again I used to see this child with her face all lit up. She used to be sucking some silly kind of juice out of a plastic packet of sorts and seemed to enjoy it to bits. When I asked her what it was, she said it was ‘Phepshi’. Since I had never known the bliss of ‘Phepshi’, one day when my parents were at work I asked her if she could sneak me one. She agreed with a rather more than enthusiastic head-bob and I knew I’d get to sample “Phepshi”.

The next day she got it for me, and Oh Man! This was the most wonderful thing I had tasted in all of my living life (I was about 6). While I was savouring it though, lost in the blissfully sweet and sour flavours, checking my tongue getting coloured with the artificial orange colour and my lips getting a tint that I loved, I didn’t notice my mother walk in. She saw the sight before her, and little but fainted. She flipped her top (an understatement). She immediately snatched the forbidden fruit from a teary eyed, orange stain lipped me and threw it away.

Now, here comes the privilege part, since I was the only child, I could throw a tantrum and the whole house would suddenly scamper to make sure my demands were met. Not a behaviour I recommend, but then again, your children aren’t reading this blog, you are, so you can skip this detail in the story. My mother and grand mom got together and decided to make “Phepshi”. Only this was made with fresh orange juice, or strawberry juice and the likes. They put my father and grand-dad to work into sealing plastic packets to make it look authentic. Armed with a variety of naturally fresh juices, they proceeded to fill the crafted containers and froze them. The next morning, I had a whole lot of my own “Phepshi” that mom let me have without any drama.

I was happy, she was happy, Mudrika’s (the house help) daughter was happy (because I shared it with her, how could I not, she was a bro!). And peace was restored.

Even back then, my parents were so conscious about what I ate. Now it is more so that. That was their way of getting me to eat fruits. Today we have a number of options where that problem is concerned. But, we also need more nutrition, more health and less drama packed in everything the kids eat.  Because, they are pickier, fussier and more opinionated about what they like. Hell, a stare would make us crumble, but not them kids today!

So here is a perfect way to get them to cook and eat ice with all things good, and all things nice; presenting power packed granitas. They are easy and fun to make and delicious to eat, for both you and your kids. In case mommy needs a lift me up, well you could spike up the final product for yourself; you know what I mean (wink, wink)!

What you’ll need:

  • A bunch of mint leaves, spinach, a whole cucumber, 2 oranges, 1 lime, a kiwi (optional), rock salt and honey.

The fun bit:

  • While you blanche the spinach, get your little one to pick the mint leaves and squeeze the juice out of the oranges. Check the oranges and squeeze out any leftover juice that the little hands couldn’t get.
  • De-seed the cucumbers and dice. Now in a blender, add the blanched spinach, the mint, cubed cucumbers, orange juice; rock salt, lime juice and honey (to taste). Secure the lid of the blender and assign the task of blending it to smooth perfection to your kid.
  • Once the mixture is well blended, strain it through a muslin cloth. Though, I prefer not to strain since all the fibres are retained, but if you want a really smooth granita, go ahead and strain.
  • In a square or rectangular cake mould (not detachable), pour the liquid. Cover it with foil and set it in the freezer.
  • Here comes the most fun part; every 2 hours or so, take the tin out and scrape the ice formed from the sides to the middle. Do this at regular 2 hour intervals.
  • Once the entire granita is the consistency of grainy ice, it’s good to go. Serve it in pretty cups and have a ball of a healthy good time.

A few tips:

  • Involve you child in the scraping process. It’s super fun for everybody, so don’t hog the fun part by yourself only.
  • Honey crystalizes when frozen. So, make sure the honey is well blended in, so it doesn’t separate.
  • If you don’t strain the juice, you might get some kiwi seeds or such in your mouth while you savour the granita, which I like because it adds a layer of texture. However, if you don’t like it, strain it. It won’t make much of a compromise where the nutrients are concerned and will give you a smooth icy granita.

So, here’s a really simple, delicious and nutrition packed icescapade that you and your kids can enjoy.

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