Cakes, biscuits and co, Dairy free, Desserts, Gluten free, Soy free, Sugar free, Vegan

Healthy Twix Bar (grain free, sugar free, vegan, paleo, low fat)

Healthy Twix Bar

Healthy Twix Bar

Who doesn’t love a Twix bar? The combination of a crumbly biscuit, gooey caramel and creamy chocolate certainly never goes astray. Shame only that the original Twix bar is so full of sugar and industrial oils – not to mention that for us gluten free folks, it is off-limits anyway. So I thought I come to your rescue and create a healthy version of this popular treat.

As part of my subscription to a monthly box with organic goodies, I was regaled with a packet of coconut flour recently. Though by no means a coconut flour newbie, I have experimented a bit with the stuff lately and just love how it is so easy to create yummy and healthy goodies with it. As it sucks up all the moisture of any other ingredients you mix it with, it is also a great staple for lowfat baking as mixing it with mashed banana or apple sauce yields terrific results. Once I had nailed my shortcrust base, it was time to think of the caramel (knowing that I would use my favourite Lindt chocolate as topping). So it came in handy that Minimalist Baker has this recipe for making a one-ingredient date caramel. A one-ingredient date caramel ticks all my boxes for healthy, easy and yummy delicacies. And I tell you, the stuff rocks. I use it in yogurt, on icecream or porridge. It tastes just as indulgent, creamy and buttery as store-bought caramel – minus the fat and the sugar slump! For this recipe, I use the caramel of about 4 dates, but I’d recommend making the original recipe and keeping any leftovers in the fridge – they won’t stay there for long!

So once you got your biscuit and your caramel sorted, it’s time for the chocolate glaze! Just use your favourite dairy free chocolate for a true vegan delight. If you tolerate dairy and are not vegan, you could also use milk chocolate. It#s a matter of taste and experimenting. The date caramel is rather sweet so I try to offset the sweetness with a bitter-ish chocolate. Using milk chocolate would obviously yield a result closer to a “real” Twix bar (whatever is real about the stuff). It’s up to you – but this recipe is sooo easy and requires just 15 minutes in total so I think you should do it again and again and see how you like it best!

Makes one double-finger “Twix” bar

For the biscuit base
40 g coconut flour
40 g “babyfood” (i.e. unsweetened apple sauce, pureed banana or any other pureed fruit)
2 tbsp of plant milk
stevia or erythritol to taste
generous pinch of Maldon sea salt
pinch of gluten free baking powder

For the caramel
1/4 of this recipe

For the chocolate glaze
40 g chocolate (dairy free preferred)

Preheat oven to 180 °C. Line a baking tray with paper. Mix all ingredients for the biscuit base until it comes together in a uniform mass. Roll a ball, then half this ball and shape two “Twix” like logs. Bake until slightly golden, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly before adding the caramel.

Meanwhile, prepare the date caramel according to the recipe. Spread evenly onto the biscuit logs.

Break up the chocolate in little pieces, place in a microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave in 30 second increments. Once it is liquid and smooth, drizzle over the caramel logs.

Now, here comes the hardest part: If you can at all resist, place the Twix bars in the fridge to firm up. But there’s no harm in devouring these beauties straight away.

Enjoy!

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Breakfast, Cakes, biscuits and co, Dairy free, Desserts, Gluten free, Soy free, Sugar free

Low Carb Low Fat High Protein Carrot Cake (grain free, dairy free, soy free)

Low Carb Low Fat Carrot Cake

Low Carb Low Fat Carrot Cake

This carrot cake is almost an insolence. Yes, it is low carb AND low fat – for all of you that can’t decide between the two lifestyles (or simply want to eat a truly delicious carrot cake). Talk about having it all. There is many recipes for healthy treats out there, but this cake is gonna make them blush with envy. Not only is this cake moist, scrumptious and totally utterly delicious (tick tick tick). It is low carb and low sugar with the carbohydrates coming from carrots, banana and just a dash of honey (tick tick). It is low fat with the fat coming from eggs and flax (tick). It is high protein (tick), high fibre (tick) and on top of it all, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, nut free and soy free (tick tick tick tick tick). Another decisive advantage is that if you are lazy busy you can just throw all ingredients together in one big bowl in no particular order and without any laborious instructions such as “put the dry ingredients here…mix the wet ingredients there”, separating the eggs, or melting butter or coconut oil (helped by the fact that there is no fat or oil in there). It also neatly pours out of the bowl (thanks to the flax that keeps everything together)

Given the high amount of protein and fibre, this cake will fill you up for a while which is another plus, and the icing on the cake is the icing on the cake (forgive the pun). It is fat free and sugar free, made of cannellini beans – which is the reason why this cake is not paleo. If it wasn’t for the icing, this carrot cake would be perfectly paleo(ish). So for all our primal friends out there, just omit the icing or use your favourite paleo icing instead. As there is eggs and honey in it, this is not a vegan cake, but you might be able to experiment with chia eggs and rice malt/agave/maple syrup though I cannot vouch for the results.

As a word of warning, if you have IBS, follow a low FODMAP diet or otherwise have problems with fibre, this carrot cake might not be suitable for you or you might just want to go easy and enjoy a small amount. The coconut flour in this recipe is full of fibre which is great but might give certain people intestinal discomfort. Try it for yourself. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

For one cake (approx. 12 large or 24 small slices)

2 heaped tbsp vanilla flavoured pea protein powder
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup flaxmeal
pinch of salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp nutmeg
1 mashed banana
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla essence
4 eggs
300 ml plant milk
5 large carrots, grated

For the frosting
1 cup cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp stevia
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 180 °C and line a round baking tin with baking paper. Mix the cake ingredients in a large bowl until a homogenic mass develops (I did this by hand). Scoop into the mould and bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, process all ingredients in a high-powered blender until completely smooth. You can use it straight away or place in the refrigerator to firm up even more. Tip: If you find the taste of the frosting to bland, you could add spices such as nutmeg or flavouring such as almond or lemon essence.

Enjoy!

 

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Bread and Co., Breakfast, Cakes, biscuits and co, Desserts, Gluten free, Soy free

Apple and cherry bread (gluten free, low fat)

gluten free low fat apple and cherry bread

gluten free low fat apple and cherry bread

I love healthy and satisfying treat that are a cinch to make, especially since having a toddler, and this delicious, fudgy and moist apple and cherry bread just fits the bill. Just as a word of warning, this delicacy is not dairy free as it contains Greek yogurt (though I might try to make a dairy free version one day), but it’s so good that I just had to share it with you, especially since many people with dairy intolerance are still okay with yogurt.

This crossover between a cake and bread can be done with whatever fruit you like/have available, and you could even include nuts in it (which wouldn’t make it lowfat but nonetheless delicious). It is very addictive, comes in handy as a quick snack or breakfast on the go, is very kid friendly, not overly sweet and still super yummy, and it’s a great companion with your afternoon cuppa – in short, go baking now!

I used part banana flour, which you might not have at hand. In that case just use your usual gluten free flour blend instead. While I made it in a loaf pan which is a great “format” (a bit like banana bread), you could also make muffins with it.

Makes 1 loaf/12-15 slices

225g self-raising gluten free flour blend (you can use store-bought or your favourite gluten free all purpose flour)
75g banana flour
70g coconut sugar
half teaspoon gluten free baking powder
300g lowfat Greek yogurt
2 free range eggs
125ml milk of choice
dash of vanilla extract
2 apples, cubed, or other fruit
2 handfuls of frozen cherries or other fruit

Preheat oven to 180 °C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper (if using a silicone mold, you don’t need to line it). Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the wet ingredients one by one, whisking or mixing with a hand mixer until smooth. Carefully fold in the fruit.

Pour the dough into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bread passes the “toothpick” test. Turn off the heat and let the bread cool in the oven to firm it up. Once the tin is no longer hot to the touch, take out the bread and let cool completely. Serve as slices and store at room temperature, wrapped in aluminium foil.

Enjoy!

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Gluten free, Mains, Soy free, Sugar free

30-Minute Pressure Cooker Coq au Vin (gf)

Weeknight Coq au Vin in the Pressure Cooker

Weeknight Coq au Vin in the Pressure Cooker

I’m all for maximum impression with minimum effort. I love fancy meals and entertaining, but I don’t have the time, energy or patience to spend the whole day in the kitchen. The humble pressure cooker to the rescue. Admittedly, for a working mum and amateur cook, I have been pretty slow to jump on the pressure cooker train, but massive sales at department stores (and gift cards) are to be taken advantage of. So here I am with a brand new pressure cooker – and a brand new recipe!

I’ve made coq au vin countless times before: It is relatively easy to throw together, economical, very forgiving if you can’t or don’t want to use certain ingredients (such as flour, onions, garlic and bacon – yes, that is right, you don’t need any of these though they definitely improve the flavour), it never fails to impress, and is not least delicious! In short – it is everything I love in a meal. The only issue so far has always been that you need to start a day in advance with the marinade, and on the day itself let it cook for hours on end, the longer the better. And while the Creuset pot takes on the bulk of the work, there is still some planning required which I can’t always afford. So I was wondering whether I could make a coq au vin in the pressure cooker. I am happy to say that it worked! And while for purists, it may be a sacrilege to prepare a coq au vin in a pressure cooker, I find that not even an unconventional cooking method can beat whipping up a fancy French meal on a weeknight.

Serves 4-6

600g chicken thigh fillets, cut up
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
600g mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, peeled and cut in very small cubes (leave out for low FODMAP option)
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup red wine (a Burgundy works best, but a Merlot or Pinot noir never go astray)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, minced (leave out for low FODMAP option)
a handfull of fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1 bouquet garni

60ml brandy or port

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Melt the oil or butter on the bottom of the pressure cooker so that the bottom is fully coated. Sauté the mushrooms (in batches, without crowding the pot) while constantly stirring until browned, remove and set aside. Brown chicken pieces (in batches) without crowding the pot. Add more fat, if necessary. Remove and set aside. Fry onions (if using) and carrots in pressure cooker until browned and onions are translucent.

Return the chicken pieces into the pressure cooker with the onions and carrots. Add wine, stock, garlic if using, parsley, bay leaves, bouquet garni, brandy and mushrooms. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium. Close pressure cooker cover securely according to manufacturer’s instructions. Cook for 12 minutes under pressure – refer to your manufacturer’s instructions and adjust the temperature to maintain the pressure. Turn off the heat and release the pressure.

When the pressure cooker is no longer under pressure, remove lid. Thicken, if required, with a bit of cornstarch. Let cook for another 15-20 minutes until the stew has reduced as required and serve with homemade creamy mash.

Enjoy!

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Dairy free, Gluten free, Mains, Sugar free, Vegan

Buckwheat and Silverbeet Stew (vegan, gf)

WP_20160430_19_48_17_Pro.jpgI’d like to call this an “anti flu stew”. It’s got all you need to make you feel just that little bit better when you are fighting those viruses – and even when not. Lots and lots of fresh organic vegetables, beautiful spices, wholesome broth, supergrain buckwheat and antiviral coconut oil. Throwing this stew together was about as much as I was able to while succumbing to the childcare winter germs, but it was well worth it and kept me going for a few nights. If you are lucky, you might even have someone who does it for you. Envy!

This stew is of course not only for the cold and flu, but I was so amazed how I felt after having it compared to before that I stick to anti-flu stew. Actually, as the title suggests, the two stars are buckwheat and silverbeet, but I think it would work with any types of vegetables and grains. It somehow happened that I had a delivery of organic vegetables that day, and half the box was filled with silverbeet. Turning it onto a stew was more an experiment than anything else, but here we go. The silverbeet works a treat but, again, you can sub your favourite vegetable if you haven’t got an organic vegetable delivery with silverbeet in.

I tend to avoid garlic and onions as much as possible due to FODMAPS which are not my tummy’s friend, but since those organic vegetable people like to fill up the boxes with onions, I had quite a bit of onion and garlic, and as both have great antibacterial and antiviral properties, I set priorities and chose to fight those germs (and put up with a bit of bloat). But as always, you can omit garlic and onions even though that might slightly impair the flavour.

This stew freezes very well and tastes great even after days.

1 tbsp organic coconut oil
1 organic onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 organic garlic cloves, minced
spices and herbs of choice (great options are cayenne pepper, chili powder, curry powder, paprika, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, bay leaves, parsley…)
1 bunch organic silverbeet, chopped (or other vegetable)
1 bunch organic broccoli, chopped (or other vegetable)
250 g organic carrots, peeled and chopped
1l vegetable stock
2 x 400 g cans diced tomatoes
1 x 400 g legumes of choice (I used butter beans)
1 cup raw buckwheat kernels
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

Heat oil in a cast iron pot over low heat. Stir in garlic and onions and fry well until the garlic is soft and the onion translucent. This can take up to ten minutes. You can fry them for less than that, but the longer you fry them, the more easy on your tummy.

Add vegetables and give them a quick stir until the fragrances are released. Add the prepared vegetables and cook for a few minutes.

Deglaze with tomatoes and stock, add the buckwheat and legumes. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly. Season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice and fresh parsley and serve. Due to buckwheat, this stew is very filling without the need of an additional starchy side dish.

Enjoy!

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Cakes, biscuits and co, Dairy free, Desserts, Gluten free, Soy free, Sugar free, Vegan

Healthy Snickers / Bounty bar (gluten free, vegan, no bake)

Healthy Snickers Bar - gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free

Healthy Snickers Bar – gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free

If you asked me what would be better than a Snickers or Bounty, I’d have to say a Snickers AND a Bounty! Don’t you think? But wait – before you run to the nearest vending machine or fuel station to indulge in said lovelies, wouldn’t it be even more satisfying to make these babies yourself, knowing you’d have a healthy treat in the end?

This recipe allows you to whip up your own Snickers/Bounty bar in next to no time! Sure, it needs some chilling, but other than that, the process couldn’t be easier. And as there is no baking allowed, you save some energy, too. Good for the environment, good for your wallet. Oh, and like all my recipes, these bars are not only good for you and easy to prepare, they also taste amazing! And if you belong to the family of health nut cooks and bakers, you should have all ingredients in your pantry ready to go, which is an added bonus (if the weather in your place is like Melbourne at the moment, you surely don’t want to leave the house, not even for buying ingredients!).

Okay, but what IS this, I hear you asking? A Snickers, a Bounty, or what? Well – I think it takes the best of both worlds, i.e. peanuts and coconut. Of course, if you use any other nut butter than peanut butter, then the Snickers aspect would be lost, but it would certainly still be delicious! I could also call these superfood slices as something so yummy, satisfying and still good-ish for you must be a superfood slice, but it seems that these days, superfood slices need to involve goji berries and acai and these ones have neither (feel free to include them though – a goji Bounty bar, wouldn’t that be nice?). Coconut and peanut make a great item and the bitter chocolate topping cuts nicely through the sweetness and gives the whole creation a lift. So the only thing missing is a name!

Maybe just make them and then find a good name. If you come up with one, just let me know.🙂

Makes 20 slices

For the base:
150g peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter)
100g desiccated coconut
80g rice malt syrup (or honey if not vegan)
25g raw cacao

For the filling:
150g peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter)
80g rice malt syrup (or honey if not vegan)
20g coconut oil, melted
dash of vanilla essence

For the topping:
20g rice malt syrup (or honey if not vegan)
20g raw cacao
20g coconut oil, melted
chopped nuts to decorate (optional)

Line a 20x20cm baking tin with baking or greaseproof paper. Mix the four base ingredients one by one in a large mixing bowl until very well combined. I’d recommend elbow grease here rather than a processor as you’ve got more control and won’t end up with a mess. It shouldn’t take long before a ball forms; adjust the wet/dry ingredients if you have issues with the consistency, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Press the coconut mass evenly into the prepared baking tin and make sure that it sits in there really firmly. If you can, use a heavy item such as a book to press it down even further. Put in the fridge to set.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling by mixing the filling ingredients until everything is mixed through and smooth. Spoon on top of the chilled base and spread evenly with a spatula. Return tin to the fridge.

Lastly, mix the topping ingredients – you might want to place this into the microwave for 20 seconds to make it nice and thin, but strictly no more than 20 seconds. Pour over the chilled slice, sprinkle with chopped nuts if you like and return to the fridge again for at least four hours or overnight before cutting in slices/squares.

This slice freezes very well and can be eaten straight out of the freezer, so it is a great option to make to have a healthy and filling snack on hand whenever you need it.

Enjoy!

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Cakes, biscuits and co, Dairy free, Desserts, Gluten free, Soy free, Vegan

Healthy Anzac Biscuits with banana flour and lupin (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Vegan Paleo Anzac Biscuits

Vegan Paleo Anzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuits are naturally a must on Anzac day and you shouldn’t miss out on this just because of your intolerance or lifestyle choice! I hope you enjoyed last year’s Anzac biscuits but if they were too macaroon-y for you, here is a recipe that is closer to the original we all love and miss. This one uses banana flour which is a great source of resistant starch, keeping you fuller for longer. It functions like soluble fiber and is therefore great for digestion without being a burden on your gut, like unsoluble fiber. Add to that improved insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels and you can enjoy Anzac day without your usual blood sugar rollercoaster.

These babies are vegan, making them the ideal companion for a cuppa if you are following a vegan or low-cholesterol diet, and depending on which sugar source you use, these could even be paleo. The choice is yours! With the fat coming from moderate amounts of coconut oil, desiccated coconut and just a few sliced almonds for that extra crunch, they are a guilt-free treat, and because they are so satisfying, there is less risk for you to go overboard on them. Despite their moderate fat content, they have a yummy buttery flavour. I also added lupin flakes for added texture, protein and fibre. Enjoy!

Makes 20 biscuits

150g banana flour
100g coconut sugar or other sweetener of choice
50g desiccated coconut
30g lupin flakes
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 tsp gluten free aluminium free baking powder
50g coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp rice malt syrup

Preheat oven to 150 °C and prepare a cookie tray by lining with baking paper or a silicone mat. Combine the dry ingredients bar the baking powder, i.e. the flour, sugar, coconut, lupin and almonds in a large mixing bowl. Froth the baking powder with 4 teaspoons of hot water in a small bowl, and mix in melted coconut oil and rice malt syrup. Stir the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients, knead until well mixed, then roll into balls and place on the baking tray. Lick the bowl clean. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let stand in the oven for another few minutes, then cool on a plate.

Enjoy!

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