January 2009 archive

Healthier Chocolate Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-free!)

Creamy, Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream (Sugar-Free)

It’s too chilly outside to walk to Whole Foods, and it’s so convenient shop on campus with our dining points. As luck would have it, two of my healthy cooking staples-coconut milk and extra dark chocolate–happen to be available at the coffee shop by my dorm building. I decided to make a comforting treat using truly “local” ingredients. With the swipe of my student I.D. card, I stocked up on my favorite Lindt 85% chocolate and canned coconut milk and pondered the possibilities.

Even though NC has been cold enough to make me long for the dearth of seasonal weather that is southwest Florida, ice cream sounded really good yesterday afternoon. It may have had something to do with my friend wanting to stop at Ben and Jerry’s after a quiet dinner out at a delicious Mediterranean restaurant. I was pretty full that night from meat skewers with tzaziki and baba ghanoush, but for old times sake, we went into the colorful ice cream shop. I ended up getting a tiny Kid-sized scoop of their sugar-free ice cream, just to try it. A little processed food once in a blue moon when you’re out with a good friend can’t hurt.

The Ben and Jerry’s experience was honestly a bit of a disappointment. The texture of the No Sugar Added Vanilla Fudge ice cream was grainy (because of the lowfat milk I’m guessing), had an aftertaste from the Splenda, and worst of all, caused the telltale tummy “rumbling” associated with maltitol. Fortunately, the scoop I had was small enough not to cause any side effects, but I was truly worried for a moment there. After tossing out the little paper cup and feeling cheated out of $4.50, I hatched a plan to make my own healthy ice cream. Without Splenda, skim milk, artificial flavorings, maltitol…. or an ice cream maker.

This sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate walnut ice cream turned out much better than I ever could have expected. You just whip it up and freeze it in a dish… no ice cream machine required! It’s rich, creamy, scoopable from the freezer, and pleasantly sweet. Forgo storebought low-carb ice cream and make up a batch of this. It’s even lower in carbs than the prepackaged kind because of the use of my favorite natural sweetener, erythritol (instead of sorbitol and maltitol which are higher on the glycemic index).

The coconut milk imparts creaminess and a subtle flavor, while the coconut oil makes for a smooth mouthfeel. The fresh organic egg yolk emulsifies the whole mix into ice cold dairy-free bliss. I added homemade low carb chocolate chunks that melt in your mouth as you eat the ice cream instead of staying cold hard bits (which always ruins the fun of chocolate chip ice cream for me). The walnuts add crunch. There’s also a spoonful of rum to make the ice cream stay soft enough to scoop. You can’t taste the alcohol, though. If you don’t mind your ice cream freezing very hard, simply leave it out. I must say that the rum was by far the most accessible ingredient since there are people turning 21 every day in my dorm hall!

Dairy-Free Rich Chocolate Ice Cream (Sugar-Free, Vegan)


Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes five rich scoops

Ingredients:
2 ounces 85% cacao chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
9 tablespoons erythritol or 7 tablespoons xylitol
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2 cups full fat coconut milk (preferably Thai Kitchen brand)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum or vodka (to keep ice cream soft and scoopable)
Pinch unrefined sea salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 recipe ice cream chips (see below)

Optional:

1 fresh, organic egg yolk

Preparation:
Melt together chocolate, erythritol, coconut milk, sea salt, coconut oil, and microwave on HIGH for 30-40 seconds until chocolate and coconut oil are melted. Blend with stevia, rum, and vanilla until smooth. Add the egg yolk and blend once more. Pour into a glass dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze for one hour, then remove from freezer and whisk vigorously. Stir once more after another hour, adding in the walnuts and chips. I let mine freeze overnight. You could also just pour the mix into an ice cream maker and freeze per your manufacturer’s instructions.

~35g net carbs for the whole batch (with walnuts and chips)

Melt-in-your-mouth Ice Cream Chips:

Makes enough for one batch of ice cream

1 oz 85% cacao chocolate
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon erythritol, or 1 tablespoon xylitol
1 teaspoon nonhydrogenated shortening or coconut oil
Pinch good-tasting pure stevia extract

Powder erythritol or xylitol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Melt chocolate with powdered sweetener and shortening. Stir in a pinch of stevia and taste for sweetness. Spread in a thin layer onto a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil and freeze until set. Chop into small square chunks. Keep chilled.

~5.5g net carbs per batch

Warning: Not a single serving size! It was even more delicious shared with four friends. :)
Healthy Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Healthy Homemade Almond Joy Bars

Paleo Almond Joy Bars

There are certain flavors that you miss when you strip your diet of most processed foods and sugar. Most cravings can be satisfied with natural foods, but particular taste memories require you to get creative. One of my absolute favorite candy bars was the Almond Joy bar, a chocolate coated candy bar with a sticky sweet coconut filling (known as a Mounds bar minus the almonds). My roommate, Bethany, reminded me of this old obsession a couple of nights ago when we were having a quiet night in, doing homework and socializing in the dorm kitchen.

Real Almond Joy bars contain two types of sugar (corn syrup and white sugar) and two different transfats (partially hydrogenated soybean oil and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil)! Just one candy bar has a whopping 25 grams net carbs. These homemade gluten-free, low carb candy bars will boost your immune system and fuel your cells as opposed to breaking them down. Since they contain no dairy products, these treats are incidentally vegan. As one helpful reader pointed out, these candy bars are nearly sugar-free because the Lindt chocolate bars do contain 19g net carbs (for the whole 85% bar) and 35g net carbs (for the whole 70% bar). The amount of sugar per serving is low enough to incorporate into my healthy eating plan, but if it is important for you to go totally sugar-free, try experimenting with unsweetened chocolate. I’ve never had much luck with countering its bitterness, though.

Use extra virgin coconut oil for the most health benefits. Unlike its highly processed counterpart, this candy bar is the ideal preworkout food because the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are immediately burned for energy. Put down those complex carbs and indulge in a low carbohydrate snack that won’t send the fat storage hormone pumping through your body right before all of your hard work on the elliptical!

You can coat these bars in a snap with 70% cacao content chocolate, or make up a chocolate ganache to lower the carb content. The only problem with the ganache is that it is thicker and must be stored in the freezer to remain firm. Both coatings taste equally delicious, though!

Sugar-Free Almond Joy Bars

Healthy Almond Joy Bars

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fine unsweetened shredded coconut
5-6 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup erythritol OR 1/4 cup xylitol OR 1/4 cup mild honey
Pure stevia extract, to taste (start with 1/16 of a teaspoon)
Raw almonds
2 batches dark chocolate ganache or 2-3.5 oz Lindt 70% chocolate bars
Pinch of unrefined sea salt

Preparation:
If you are making sugar-free candies, start by melting the erythritol over medium heat in a saucepan until liquefied. Stir together coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, salt, and stevia. Pour in hot erythritol and mix together thoroughly until coconut oil is melted, forming a smooth paste. Drop dollops of the coconut mixture on to aluminum foil or waxed paper, and shape into flat logs with your fingertips.

If you are making paleo candies, heat honey, coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, salt, and stevia in a small saucepan until coconut oil is melted. Whisk mixture together until a smooth paste forms. Drop dollops of the coconut mixture on to aluminum foil or waxed paper, and shape into flat logs with your fingertips. Top with almonds, pressing the nuts down gently into the filling. Freeze for 5 minutes, or until filling is firm and cold.

Microwave chopped chocolate for 30 seconds on HIGH, and stir until smooth. Add 1/16 teaspoon of stevia and taste. Adjust sweetness level if necessary. Stick toothpicks into cold filling. Dip filling into chocolate, return to wax paper, and remove toothpick. Wait a minute or two for chocolate coating to harden, and enjoy!

~0.57g net carbs per candy bar without the chocolate coating
~35g net carbs per 1-3.5 oz 70% Lindt bar
~4g net carbs per bar made with 70% Lindt chocolate bar coating

I made quick nut clusters by dipping raw almonds into the ganache. Grab one from the freezer when you feel a chocolate craving coming on!
freezerclusters

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1-3.5 oz 85% cacao content chocolate bar (I used Lindt)
5 tablespoons organic heavy cream
1/3 cup erythritol or 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Grind erythritol to the consistency of powdered sugar (see this post) in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. Chop chocolate and combine with erythritol and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH and stir until smooth. Add a couple more tablespoons of heavy cream if coating is too thick. Stir in stevia, and taste. Adjust sweetness level if necessary. Use for nut clusters, Almond Joy bars, topping cupcakes… whatever you like! Store candies made with ganache in the freezer.

~22g of carbs for the whole batch

Healthy Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

This is my submission for “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free” hosted by Heather at Life, Gluten Free as well as for Real Food Wednesdays at Cheeseslave!

I am back at school, so posting will be more infrequent as the semester gets going. Thank you all for the nice feedback on the holiday baking posts!

moltencake3

Chocolate Lava Cake needs no introduction. It’s an explosion of ooey gooey chocolate that taunts you with how sinful and decadent it is. Fortunately, you can have your sugar-free, gluten-free, low carb molten cake and eat it, too. It also happens to be nut-free, for all of you folks who cannot tolerate almond flour. I made these cakes for some good friends and got great reviews. Treat your company or just yourself to this beloved dessert with a healthful twist. It’s better than the kind you get at Chili’s, with none of funky processed ingredients. Promise. With one of these lil’ cakes, you can get in a healthy dose of natural saturated fat from the butter and cacao as well as protein and choline from the eggs (Nature’s perfect food!). Smile, because you are not taxing your pancreas and immune system from sugar carbs. It can be our delicious secret that this dreamy dessert contains all of the good flavor and none of the toxic ingredients of a “normal” molten cake. No one will notice if you don’t tell them!

Healthy Molten Chocolate Cake

Healthy Molten Chocolate Cake
Adapted from a recipe at AllRecipes.com

Serves 12

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) organic unsalted butter, cut into chunks
8 ounces 85% cacao chocolate, broken up (I used Lindt)
5 eggs
1 cup erythritol, powdered
1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
Pinch of unrefined sea salt
4 teaspoons gluten-free flour (oat, buckwheat, etc.)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Set out eggs to bring to room temperature. Section out 3 chocolate bars into seven pieces each, so you can measure out the ounces (each piece is .5 ounces). Chop up chocolate. Melt butter and chocolate together for 30 seconds in the microwave, and stir. Melt mixture for 15 second intervals, and stir until smooth. Whisk together eggs. Add beaten eggs, erythritol, stevia, and salt to chocolate mixture. Stir in GF flour. Pour into 12 silicone muffin cups and bake for about 14 minutes (check at 12), or until puffed up and still a bit moist looking on the tops. Do NOT overbake. Let cakes sit in muffin pans for one minute, and then invert cakes on to individual serving dishes. Dust with powdered erythritol, or top with fresh whipped cream and berries, if desired. Consume immediately while warm and gooey!

Wrap up leftover cakes after they have cooled, and nuke them (unwrapped) for 15-25 seconds to get them gooey again.

~4.5g net carbs per cake

Other blog posts you might like:
Flourless Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake @ Cindalou’s Kitchen Blues
Sugar-Free Chocolate Pecan Torte @ About.com

Healthy Pink Pomegranate No-Bake Cheesecake

First off, take a look at this wonderful profile of Dr. Barry Groves, author of “Natural Health and Weight Loss” and his new release, “Trick and Treat: How Healthy Eating Is Making Us Ill.” Dr. Groves is an advocate of a natural high-fat, low carbohydrate diet for total health and weight management.

caketop

If you haven’t tried a No-Bake Cheesecake, now is the time. It’s the ideal dessert for a low carbohydrate diet high in nourishing fats. Each silky bite is so creamy, thick, and sweet, you can barely finish a slice of cake, even though it tastes so good that as you’re eating it, you’re sad because you’re getting closer and closer to it being gone! In addition to being a big finish to a meal, I can attest to the fact that this cake is the perfect treat to wake up to if you have a sweet tooth. A breakfast of sugar-free, gluten-free, low carb No-Bake cheesecake will keep you going through the morning, without leaving you feeling stuffed because it is so nutrient dense!

We all have heard of the health benefits of pomegranate seeds and juice, which are full of antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. This delicious, seasonal fruit is relatively low in sugar, with 26g carbs in a whole pomegranate.

Preparation couldn’t be easier. You grind the nuts, bake the crust, and whip together the filling. This is another one of those desserts that will make everyone think you spent hours on it. The pomegranate arils are works of art in their own right. The little red jewels, full of tart, crimson juice, can simply be strewn about the base to make your cheesecake look fit for royalty.

The lovely blush hue of the cheesecake is not 100% derived from the pom juice. You know how I feel about a bit of artifical coloring to jazz up natural desserts. If you don’t like it, don’t use it!

cakeside4

Pink Pom No-Bake Cheesecake
Adapted from a recipe at AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:

Crust:

3 tablespoons organic butter (regular salted)
1 1/4 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup (heaped) pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup GF rolled oats (replace with more almonds if desired)
1 tsp raw honey (optional)
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
3 tablespoons powdered erythritol (optional, for a sweet crust)

Filling:
2-8 oz packages cream cheese or Neufchatel 1/3 less fat cheese
1 pomegranate, yielding 3 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice
3/4 cup erythritol, powdered
1/8 teaspoon plus 1/16 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Red and blue food coloring (optional)
1 cup heavy cream

Glaze (optional):
2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon erythritol
pinch of xanthan gum

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Set cream cheese out on counter.

Grease a 9” pie dish, or line the bottom of a mini springform pan with a round of parchment paper, and grease the bottom and sides. Grind nuts and oats into a meal in food processor. Add the rest of the crust ingredients, and drizzle in butter. Pulse until a dough forms, then press into the bottom of a pie plate or mini springform pan. Bake crust for 5 minutes at 300 degrees, then turn up the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is browned around the edges. Let cool on countertop or freeze for 10 minutes to speed cooling process.
Press about 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds through a sieve to get 3 tablespoons of juice. Save the rest of the juice for glaze. Beat cream cheese for a minute until creamy, and add pomegranate juice, vanilla, stevia, and 1/4 cup erythritol, beating until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the erythritol, and beat for another couple of minutes. Add drops of blue food coloring (about 3) and red food coloring (about 10) until desired shade of pink is reached. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold heavy cream into cream cheese mixture, until most streaks are gone. Spread over crust with a spatula, and smooth the top. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight (ideal) and unmold from sides of the springform pan. Store covered in plastic wrap.

For glaze, combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until erythritol dissolves. Whisk in a tiny pinch of xanthan gum and keep stirring, off of the heat, until it thickens. This glaze does not keep, so prepare it immediately before serving. Let sauce cool and pour over individual slices of cake.

Lemon Variation: Use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in place of the pomegranate juice.
Vanilla Variation: Use 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and no fruit juice.

cakeslice6

~69.5g net carbs for the whole cheesecake made with 1/2 of a pomegranate, oats in the crust (which add 11g net carbs), and no glaze
~4g net carbs for glaze

Other blog posts you might like:
How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate @ Simply Recipes
Pomegranate Blackberry Dessert @ The Blog of Dr. Michael Eades
Healthy Pomegranate Cheesecake @ Associated Content
Ideas for eating pomegranates @ Gluten-Free Girl