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

Paleo Berry and Chia Clafoutis (low carb, low fat, grain free, dairy free)

Low Carb Low Fat Clafoutis

Low Carb Low Fat Clafoutis

It seems I have a thing for French desserts at the moment – or rather, my take on them. While I love the timeless finesse that French desserts exude, a little makeover never goes astray, especially if it’s as delicious as this one! I must admit, I wasn’t exactly on a quest to create a “paleo” dessert. That whole paleo thing is so 2013 for me, but this take on clafoutis just happens to be that – paleo. Without getting into all the intricacies of the “paleo” diet, it simply means that there is no nasties in here, no wheat, dairy, soy, refined sugar or oils. As far as this goes, I think we can all use a bit of paleo in our life.

The thought about making clafoutis has been at the back of my mind for a while – actually, ever since I saw a recipe for cherry clafoutis in my French text book at high school. (Which, sadly, is a long time ago now. Very long.) Ever since then, clafoutis recipes have been popping up in magazines. and, naturellement, on the internet. This recipe is my own little invention. There is low-carb, fibre-rich coconut flour instead of conventional flours and starches, stevia instead of sugar, cashew mylk instead of milk, and no fat, oil or butter (I did grease the mould but dare I say that the amount of fat used is rather negligible). It contains eggs, so is sadly not suitable for vegans, but a) we get fresh free range eggs from my parents-in-law’s farm every few days, b) I had to use up the egg yolk from my chocolate mousse recipe (coming soon) (what a pathetic excuse). I’m gonna vegan-ify this one day, promise, but meanwhile you could try use an egg replacer or chia eggs or flax eggs.

I like my clafoutis so much that I will never go back to any other recipe. It is also very versatile – you can use any fruit, any milk and any sweetener you like, and you could use flax instead of chia. This little delight is as good as impressive dessert to impress guests as it is as for afternoon tea or even a satisfying breakfast – all this knowing that you are devouring a treat that is not going to blow your calorie budget (something you can’t say about French desserts), and that is a winner on the health front. Plus, it looks pretty.

4 individual clafoutis

2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp ground chia seeds or chia meal
4 tbsp stevia
pinch of Maldon sea salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
300 ml plant milk (I used cashew)
fruit of choice (approx. one cup, red fruit are a great option)

Preheat oven to 180 °C and prepare four individual ramekins or mini tart dishes. Mix the dry ingredients (coconur flour, chia seeds, stevia, sea salt) in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and carefully fold in the eggs and yolk until mixed in. Beat in milk until you reach a homogenic consistency. Divide fruit between the four dishes and spread batter over the fruit. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.

Enjoy!

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Gluten free, Sides, Soy free, Vegan

Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Pepitas

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze

Think you hate Brussels sprouts? You are hardly alone. To be honest, it never really occurred to me to prepare Brussels sprouts. Even my love for broccoli and cauliflower is fairly recent, but Brussels sprouts hadn’t been on my agenda until I tried them at my grandparents-in-law’s house. I was so blown away by how tasty they were that I decided to pick up a bag on my next shopping round – and apparently I’m right on trend as Brussels sprouts were featured in the recent food issue of our local newspaper as retro vegetables having a come-back (along with beetroot and silverbeet).

While my hubby’s nonna uses oodles of garlic and oil to make vegetables tasty, I came up with a different approach, namely a balsamic maple glaze with cranberries and pepitas. The sweet and sour combination of the maple syrup and the balsamic together with tart cranberries and crunchy pepitas offset the cabbage-y flavour of the sprouts which become a scrumptious caramelised melt-in-your-mouth side dish or snack. The fact alone that half a cup of sprouts accounts for one fifth of your daily folate requirements should be reason enough to give these guys a chance – but this recipe will win over even the most ardent sprouts hater.

Serves 4

250 g Brussels sprouts, halved
125 g fresh or frozen cranberries
125 ml balsamic vinegar, divided
2 tsp maple syrup, divided
50 g pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 200 °C and line a braking tray with baking paper. Combine half the vinegar and half the syrup in a bowl and toss sprouts and berries to coat. Spread evenly on to the baking tray and roast until the Brussels sprouts start to brown, about ten to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the remaining vinegar and syrup. Carefully take the tray out of the oven, turn the sprouts and berries and sprinkle with the vinegar mixture. Return to the oven and rost for another ten to 15 minutes until sprouts are just tender.

Enjoy!

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

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

The idea of making a vegan “Bolognese” with legumes has been at the back of my mind for some time, and while the concept is not exactly new, I think I have come up with quite a cracker recipe which will convince even the most ardent meat lover! At the point of making this, I had run out of diced tomatoes in my pantry (yes, it happens). I had neither the time nor the inclination to run out to the shops and get some so I used the last bit of Maggie Beer tomato sauce we had in the fridge. And since the result was divine, this is the best proof that you don’t need a tin of tomatoes or a jar of marinara sauce if you make bolognese (you’ll be hard-pressed to find a recipe for bolognese on the net, vegetarian or not, which doesn’t include a tin of tomatoes or a jar of marinara sauce).

Back to the vegan bolognese – you won’t miss anything in here. My husband, an avid meat eater, loved it and simply couldn’t believe there was no meat in it. This is comfort food at its best, and at the same time full of goodies while being very low in fat. Your vegan/vegetarian and omnivore friends will be raving alike. Serve it with gluten free pasta like I did (photo) or “voodles” (spiralised vegetables) and it’s gluten free as well. So what inspired me to make a lentil bolognese?

While mushrooms or quorn mince would be an obvious choice, there had to be a more cost-effective solution. I love the effect legumes have on my blood sugar and satiety levels – I don’t so much love their effect on my gut, but I found the “smaller” the legume the more easily digested, hence lentils are usually my legume of choice (they taste friggin’ delicious too). I love kidney beans and chickpeas, but if I have too much of them, they just about kill me (or rather, my bowels). Of course I know the spiel about soaking and phytic acid and blabla, but I couldn’t find a huge difference between soaking dry lentils and just rinsing organic tinned ones very well, and if in doubt, I always opt for the easier and quicker option but it is of course up to you if and how you prepare your lentils.

With all this being said, you would assume that lentils are the hero of this dish, but they are actually not…it’s celery! What the…? Well, I have to admit I’ve never liked celery all that much, especially in its raw version. In fact, celery is probably the only vegetable I couldn’t eat raw to save myself (something I inherited from my mum). So while I have recently found a new organic box delivery service which I really like, their inclusion of celery in the last box was a bit of a letdown for me at first. But an unknown vegetable for the amateur chef is like a new country to the devoted adventurer, so I knew I had to experiment. My internet search about the uses of celery only yielded raw salad recipes – three strikes, I was out. I had to do it without the help of Uncle Google. I knew that soups and stocks usually contain traces of celery, so I figured if I just cooked it long enough, maybe it would act a bit like vegetable stock without imposing the (imho yucky) raw flavour of celery. Bingo! This bolognese tasted so rich and just had this certain “je ne sais quoi”, and since I don’t cook with onions, I knew it had to be the celery which lended this dish “a depth of flavour”, according to my hubby.

So I’ll be sure to include celery more often in my creations. You never stop learning, do you?

2 generous portions

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 or 2 carrots, grated or finely sliced
1 celery stick, very finely sliced
1 tin organic brown lentils, drained and rinsed very well
a dash of tomato sauce or tomato paste or diced tomatoes
250-350 ml good vegetable stock
basil, oregano, salt, pepper and any other herbs and spices of choice

Make sure to have all the ingredients readily prepared or otherwise your garlic will burn while you are still slicing the celery! Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and fry for a few minutes until soft. Add carrots, celery and lentils and heat through for another few minutes, than add the tomatoes and stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the desired consistency is reached. Adjust the amount of stock according to your preferences. Season to taste and serve with gluten free pasta or voodles. (I’ve got no idea how long this stuff lasts and if it tastes better the next day – we finished it in one sitting!)

Enjoy!

 

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

Tempeh Curry (vegan, gluten free, low carb, low fat)

vegan tempeh curry

vegan tempeh curry

There’s something about curries on a Friday night, isn’t it? I know so many folks – us included – for who Friday night means snuggling up on the couch with a favourite Thai or Indian takeout and a good bottle of wine. It is as if all the stress of the week just disappears with a bowl of steaming, fragrant curry. So warm, comforting and satisfying! I have to admit, I love our local Thai (and judging from the Menulog reviews, I’m not the only one), but I also love to know what’s in my food and while takeaway-wise you can certainly do worse than Asian, it doesn’t hurt to make your own version of it once in a while – which is also more cost-effective.

While this recipe is by no means traditional and doesn’t claim to be, it is nonetheless yummy, filling, and very easy, quick and cost-effective to prepare. I don’t know about you, but that’s big ticks in my book! In any case, it is prepared more quickly than the arrival time of the average takeaway so if you are like us and starving on a Friday night, here we go! Granted, you don’t get a free can of soda like you get with our Thai, but maybe it’s better that way (it goes much better with a glass of good red, preferably organic, of course). Plus, you can rest assured that there’s no nasties in there, and that it will please herbivores and omnivores alike. It is low carb if you serve it with my new discovery that is cauliflower rice, and it is also very low in fat if you use almond or other plant milk instead of coconut milk. Needless to say, it is gluten free like anything on this blog, and it is also vegan (although you can use meat or fish instead of the tempeh).

Which leads me to the next topic – yes, tempeh is soy. Yes, this blog is meant to be soy free and I generally advise to stay away from soy. BUT – tempeh is actually fermented soy, which along with miso and natto is soy as it is meant to be (and how Asians consume it). The fermentation improves the digestibility of soy and according to a study the bioavailability of calcium in tempeh is higher than in cow’s milk! So how about telling that a dairy-proponent when they ask “But where do you get your calcium from?” While popular soy products such as tofu and soy milk give me terrible digestive distress, I never have any issues with the underrated tempeh, so I would recommend trying it if you usually have problems with soy. I just love that it is so versatile. Just pan-fry it for a few minutes and it is ready to go. Due to its neutral flavour, it absorbs other flavours easily, meaning you can marinate it in your favourite sauce, and it is a great filler for soups, salads and sandwiches to bulk up the protein.

Now, given that I’m a health nut, I am admittedly quite late to jump on the cauliflower rice bandwagon. But after trying this recipe, I am hooked! I’d highly recommend trying for yourself. The best thing for me – almost better than the calorie saving and the health benefits – is that cauliflower rice is quicker to prepare than traditional rice! And while we’re at it, did you know you can use cauliflower to make cauliflower mash to replace potato mash? Have you tried roasting the florets and having them as a much healthier, tastier and more easily digested snack alternative to nuts? You can try roasted cauliflower as a delish addition to your favourite salad, and if you are into creamy pasta sauces, there is this absolutely cracking recipe for a vegan paleo alfredo sauce that doesn’t call for cream, coconut, bucket loads of cashews or silken tofu, simply by achieving a creamy “alfredo” style sauce with cauliflower, plant milk and nutritional yeast! I used verjuice instead of the wine and added some mushrooms – yum! So the question is – what CAN’T you do with cauliflower? (It doesn’t drive you to work, I suppose)

Please don’t get me wrong – this is not a crusade against carbs! I don’t advocate a very low carb diet, and you can do this recipe great justice by adding your usual rice. But one cup of cauliflower provides 90% of your daily vitamin C, along with vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. Not shabby! Especially now in the shoulder season where an extra dose of vitamins and minerals never goes astray. Add to that a heap of fresh vegetables, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant spices and antiviral coconut oil, and you know why this curry makes you feel so good!

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped (leave out for low FODMAP)
1 tbsp minced garlic (great against candida, but leave out for low FODMAP)
half a tbsp turmeric
half a tbsp chili powder
half a tbsp curry powder (feel free to add any other spices you like – this is what I had in the cupboard and it goes a long way)
2 400 g tins diced tomatoes, not drained
250 ml vegetable stock
100 ml plant milk of choice
half a head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets (you can use the other half of the cauliflower for your rice)
500 g vegetables of choice (broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots, capsicum…), all cut into 1 inch pieces
300 g tempeh, cut into half inch pieces

Melt the oil in a large heavy-bottom saucepan, add the onions and garlic if using as well as the spices and fry for a few minutes until the onion and garlic are soft and the spices are fragrant. Add more oil or water if necessary. Add the diced tomatoes and stock, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and stir in the milk once it has cooled slightly. Throw in all the veggies and simmer until the veggies are cooked to your liking. Double check the sauce and correct the spices if necessary – add more if too bland or tone it down with some milk if too spicy.

Meanwhile, prepare your rice and the tempeh. Marinate the tempeh in your favourite sauce such as tamari, then pan-fry (no oil needed) from all sides until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Serve the curry with your choice of rice (I recommend cauliflower rice!) and add the tempeh on top or mix it all in. Tatses great straight away and even better the next day!

Enjoy!

 

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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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