Archive of ‘Fruit’ category

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

Christmas Baking: Golden Cranberry Pavlova (Marshmallow cake)

Golden Cranberry Pavlova

Do you want an easy, light, and festive dessert to top off your Christmas dinner? Do you have a fear of beating egg whites? Join me, while I take you on a journey to the land of fluffy, airy, and sometimes temperamental… meringues!

This cake may have a funny name (Pavlova… sounds like some sort of Russian dancer? Or tennis player?), but the taste of this delicate confection should be familiar. It’s a cross between an angel food cake and a marshmallow. Gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, low carb… it’s perfect for everyone except those allergic to eggs (and for you folks, I am sad). Whatever you want to call this elegant dessert, it’s good. Too easy to polish off in one sitting. However, one of the many redeeming qualities of a meringue cake is that it’s fat-free, so you can have a nice big serving. And you’ll want a big serving, trust me.

Make this cake. It took me 10 minutes to whip this up and overcome my fear of deflated meringues. Just be sure to use a powerful mixer and pay attention to your egg whites. Love them. Tend them. Don’t try to beat them into submission; they need gentle coaxing. Internalize this approach, and become one with the pavlova.

Won’t you join me?

Step One: Line up ingredients! You don’t want to be scrambling for measuring spoons with one hand while keeping the egg whites going with the other.

Use honey if you want a golden pavlova. Use erythritol if you want a more traditional snowy white pavlova. The choice is yours!

Saw Palmetto Honey

Ingredients for Pavlova

Separate eggs from yolks, taking care not to get a trace of yolk in the white.

separatingeggs

In a meticulously CLEAN bowl with sparkling CLEAN beaters, start beating egg whites on low speed.

Egg whites, low speed

Add cream of tartar. See these soft peaks? You’re going to add the sweeteners right after we get to this point.

eggwhitessoftpeaks

eggwhitessoftpeaks2

Scrape your stevia and honey in as quickly as possible, and frantically keep beating until you get stiff peaks.

eggwhitesstiffpeaks

eggwhitesstiffpeaks2

Beat in vanilla and vinegar, and keep going for another minute. Feel it out. Just go till you have still peaks that look like the above photo. You don’t want the whites to move around the bowl when you tip it back and forth.

Pavlova batter

Aaand your done! Now time to plop it on a sheet of parchment. Don’t mind my unbleached hippie parchment that I got suckered into buying at Fresh Market. The normal, budget-friendly white parchment works well, too.

Forming the Pavlova

Spread and smooth it around, keeping the batter mounded as high as possible. Shape a well in the center to hold your toppings.

Forming the Pavlova, pt. 3

Shaped Pavlova Batter

Stick it in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes, and you get this:

Golden Cranberry Pavlova

It might deflate. It might get wrinkly. Once it is covered in toppings, no one will know the difference. Tease it off the parchment gently.

Make up your cranberry orange compote. I used an organic tangerine because of it’s glossy vibrant orange skin. Add zest, 1/2 cup erythritol, 3 tablespoons juice, vanilla, and 1 cup of water to cranberries.

Adding lemon juice to cranberries

Boil over medium heat for 8 minutes, and you should get a thick sauce, with some visible chunks of berries. Add stevia after removing sauce from the heat and cooling for a couple of minutes.

Cranberry Orange Compote

Taste test, and adjust sweeteners if necessary. Let the sauce cool completely. Sneak another spoonful and attempt to save some for the cake.

Once sauce has cooled, whip up your heavy cream and assemble the cake. Start mixing on low speed.

Whipping cream, low speed

Once you see soft peaks, bump up the speed until it looks like this.

Whipped cream, stiff peaks

Beat up another cup of cream if you overbeat the first one, like I did. It should look soft and smooth, not grainy. Proceed to slather it all over the top of the cake.

Spreading Whipped Cream on Pavlova
Spoon on the compote.

pavlovacranberry

Jazz it up with fresh fruit, chocolate curls, tinsel, Mr. Frosty figurines, whatever flips your switch. Yummmm!

Slice of Golden Cranberry Pavlova

Golden Cranberry Pavlova (Marshmallow Cake)
Adapted from this recipe at JoyOfBaking.com

Serve 4-5


Ingredients:

4 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey, or 1/2 cup erythritol, powdered
4 packets or 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or food processor. Line up ingredients. Dunk eggs in hot tap water for 30 seconds, or until lukewarm to the touch. Remove eggs from tap water and dry off shells. Separate eggs, reserving yolks for another use. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and trace out a 7 inch circle as a guideline for the pavlova. Take care not to get a drop of yolk in the whites. Beat egg whites starting on the lowest setting, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and increase to medium speed until you see soft peaks. Add sweetener and increase to high speed until you get stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla and vinegar. Working quickly, spread batter within the circle, mounding the whites up and leaving a slight depression in the center. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (this website has an explanation for how to tell if it is done). Turn heat off, crack the oven door open, and let cake cool in the oven. Remove from oven and store in an airtight container until use. Immediately before serving, spread with whipped cream and top with fresh fruit or cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 organic tangerine or orange, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup erythritol or preferred sugar-free sweetener
4 packets stevia, or 1/8-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract (NuNaturals)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water

Preparation:
To make sauce, combine all ingredients except stevia in a saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture comes to a boil, start a timer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat after 8 minutes and let cool until lukewarm. Stir in stevia, and taste to adjust sweetener. Let cool completely before topping pavlova.

Whipped Cream Topping

Yields about 2 cups whipped cream

Ingredients:
1 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 packets NuNaturals stevia extract, or powdered erythritol to taste

Preparation:

Whip cream to soft peaks. Add sweetener and vanilla, and whip until incorporated. Use immediately.

~.25g net carbs per serving for pavlova cake made with erythritol, and 7g net carbs with honey

~38.3 net carbs for the whole recipe of cranberry sauce

~1-2g net carbs for 1/5 of the whipped cream topping

Quick Indulgences: Low Carb Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt with Apples

Low Carb Apples with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled homework to bring you one of those easy snacks you can throw together on a whim. There will be a few of these coming up since play time is limited lately, with classes and homework superseding kitchen experimentation! My skillet and my spatula are my weapons of choice for go-to quick meals–flavored yogurt for breakfast, and stir fries for lunch and dinner. Even using grass-fed beef and organic produce from Whole Foods, it’s much more budget friendly to prepare your meals from scratch instead of subsisting on campus fare. Not to mention the limited availability of gluten-free low carb meals here. Everything is served with a piece of bread!

Back to the topic at hand. You can combine almost anything with plain yogurt and a little vanilla extract to make your own custom flavors, which can get rather addictive once you stock your pantry with extracts and spices. Get creative and add nuts, nut butters, blackstrap molasses, cocoa, toasted coconut flakes, flax meal, coconut oil, lemon juice and zest… whatever you want, ’cause it’ll probably taste good in the rich, full fat yogurt we, as low-carbers, can indulge in without guilt! I’ve been (finally) getting into fall with pumpkin pie yogurt. All you need is a scoop of canned pumpkin, a few drops of vanilla extract, and a big pinch of pumpkin pie spice to enjoy this wonderful holiday dessert for breakfast. I’ll throw it in tupperware and eat my yogurt during morning lecture, garnering more than a few strange looks as I dig into my orange goo!

If you like peanut butter honey sandwiches, or apples and peanut butter, you’re gonna flip for this. We’re revisiting those chayote apples that I used in my apple crisp, this time cooking them up quickly in a skillet with no added spices. Still incredibly apple-y (even if you use lime juice because you’re out of lemon juice like I was for this photo shoot!). The chayote’s texture mimics the apple’s crispness, paired with the perfect level of tartness and sweetness from the citrus juice and stevia. Use as much or as little honey as your needs allow, keeping in mind that honey is 6 grams of carbs per teaspoon. Buy as dark a honey as you can find for the most flavor. I buy local raw honey from the bulk section at Whole Foods, filling the plastic tub with as much or as little of the sticky stuff as I need. One teaspoon is all it takes to satisfy my taste for honey, which goes back to Sunday morning breakfasts consisting of fried eggs (over hard!), Brown n’ Serve sausages, and English muffins slathered in honey that I squeezed greedily from the plastic bear. Yes, you can have honey on a lifestyle that is sugar-free 99% of the time. If honey is a flavor you miss, incorporate a tiny amount into your daily diet and find out if this little bit of real sugar kicks up cravings for sweets.

And peanut butter makes everything better. Now get mixing!

Chayote, before after being turned into sugar-free apple-y goodness!
Low Carb Chayote Apples

“Apples” with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

Makes two servings

Ingredients:
For Chayote “Apples”:
1 chayote, chopped
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract (I use NuNaturals)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For Yogurt:
1 small container Greek yogurt (I like FAGE), or 1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon raw honey (darkest in color you can find)
2 tablespoons all natural peanut butter
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste (I use NuNaturals)

Preparation:
Stir together yogurt, peanut butter, and honey**. Add a pinch of stevia extract and taste for sweetness. Add more stevia if necessary. Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Wash and peel chayote, rinsing off the sap under the faucet. Split down the middle with a knife (cutting through the “crack”), and pry out soft seed. Cut chayote into chunks. Mix together water, lemon juice, and stevia. Once pan is hot, add chopped chayotes and lemon juice mixture, stirring a bit to coat the chayote pieces. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, shaking the skillet around once during cooking to redistribute the chayote pieces. You want to cook it until it is fork tender and the water has just evaporated. Uncover and remove from heat. Let cool and serve with yogurt, or toss in melted butter and cinnamon for fried apples. Can also be pureed for applesauce!

**You can also leave the honey out until serving time and just drizzle it on top for a pretty effect, stirring it in before you eat.

~6-9 grams of net carbs per serving (depending on how much honey you use)

Holding on to Summer: Blueberry Muffins

The leaves are just starting to turn in North Carolina, with a bit of a chill in the air as the sun goes down. Being the Florida girl that I am, I dread the proposition of trading in my flip-flops for actual shoes, my cool button down shirts for unwieldy coats! Mid terms have passed, and school is in full swing. The local Whole Foods market has had berries on sale for the past few weeks, which I have been partaking in as often as possible. Berries are the food that epitomizes summer for me–not too sweet, with a lovely tartness and enough juice to quench your thirst. They are even better straight from the freezer, like miniature natural popsicles. I digress!

Snap up those last few boxes of fresh berries from your local market and toss them into a batch of these light, perfectly moist muffins. Simple ingredients and simple preparation yield a cross between a cupcake and a muffin that is gluten-free, sugar-free, and even dairy-free for all of your lactose- and casein-intolerant folks. The lemon flavor is very faint, just detectable enough to add some intrigue and complement the olive oil. The topping forms a crunchy crust over the tops. Just a word of warning: These are not your average “healthy” muffins, loaded with whole wheat flour (sugar), applesauce (sugar), bran (a processed waste product made of insoluble fiber), bananas (sugar), and other low fat ingredients yielding un-muffiny flavors. Nourish the body and the soul with these flavorful, nutrient-packed muffins, full of protein from the almonds, antioxidants from the berries, and a dash of omega-3s from the flax meal topping.

Take note of the key ingredient–olive oil, as the liquid fat in these muffins. Now don’t wrinkle your nose just yet! The fruitiness of extra virgin olive oil pairs so well with the citrus zest and lemon extract. I am the first person who would balk at the idea of olive oil coming anywhere near a perfectly good sweet treat. I loathe the stuff, and prefer to keep my distance from it 99% of the time. And yet, you really can’t use anything else in this recipe to get the same complexity of flavors. Tasting is believing!

You might notice that the muffins in the photographs have flat tops! Their perfect peaks fell because I piled the batter right up to the brim of my trusty silicone muffins cups, hoping for a massive meal-in-a-muffin. Bad idea! These mammoth muffins didn’t fluff up properly, and remained undercooked on the bottoms. Stick with the 12 dainty muffins the recipe is supposed to yield, and you will have fluffy, attractive breakfast pastries to go with your morning cup of a coffee.


Blueberry Crunch Top Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cage-free organic eggs
1/2 cup erythritol or preferred sugar-free sweetener
1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup lite coconut milk (or half n’ half if you can use dairy)
1 cup blueberries or raspberries
oat flour, for dusting (optional)

For Crunch Topping (optional):
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening or unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons golden flax meal
2 tablespoons erythritol
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mash together the ingredients for the topping with a fork, then stick it in the freezer while you make the muffins. Whisk together wet ingredients plus the erythritol in one bowl. Stir together the dry ingredients in a different bowl. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, whisking until incorporated. Coat berries with a light dusting of oat flour (to keep them from sinking), and gently fold 3/4 of them into the batter. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full, and sprinkle remaining berries over the tops. Pinch off bits of the cold topping, dropping them over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool until lukewarm, then turn muffins out of the silicone muffin cups (if using) so the tops are facing down. After completely cooled, store in baggies or tupperware with paper towels.

~3.5 grams net carbs per muffin (using bluberries)

The Taste of Summer, pt. 2– Sugar-Free Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

This time of year, I like to cool off with my treats. My new Cuisinart ice cream maker has been running constantly lately. To mix things up and take a break from the brain freeze, I decided to try something new. Cheesecake is the ultimate cool, creamy indulgence that’s naturally low in carbs. There are tons of variations and different recipes out there for this classic dessert. I’ve never made it, though. The idea of using a whole pound of cream cheese, a giant round pan, and a water bath was always intimidating. It just sounds hard, worrying about cracks in the top and achieving the right consistency and whatnot. Though I’ve never experienced intense cravings for this particular food, cheesecake seemed like the perfect excuse to use up a CostCo-sized tub of blueberries sitting in my fruit bin.

Blueberry cheesecake called my name! It’s rather simple to de-carb cheescake–you simply remove the sugar. Erythritol (see the bold term for info) works like a charm for “wet” applications like cheesecake, so you don’t have to worry about using any special ingredients to offset its menthol-like “cooling” effect. Stevia rounds out the sweetness of these incredibly creamy bars. This sour-cream based cheesecake recipe posted in its original form here is a real winner. Thanks to BawdyWench for her simple, delicious recipe!

Even if you’re not a “cheesecake person,” you should definitely give this recipe a try. It takes minutes to whip up, and doesn’t have that thick, gummy mouthfeel elicited by a ton of cream cheese. The blueberries burst in your mouth as you bite through the silky base and nontraditional but oh-so-delicious gluten-free shortbread crust (check oats for gf label!). Get your brain-boosting antioxidants in for the day with these fresh blueberries. Studies show that blueberry consumption positively affects your memory. These delicious summer fruits are naturally low in carbs, so eat up! The batch of cheesecake bars from yesterday is almost gone. Some serious nibbling has been happening. I don’t blame the cheesecake bandit–it was love at first bite with these babies!

Creamy Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from this recipe by BawdyWench

Makes eight servings

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust:
3/4 cup finely ground almonds
2 tablespoons sifted oat flour (check for gluten-free certification if necessary)
1 tablespoon erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling:
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup organic sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons erythritol
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
8 ounces cream cheese (1 package), softened
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together dry ingredients for crust. Mix in melted butter and press into the bottom of a foiled lined 8 by 5 loaf pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Let crust cool.

Turn oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blend together eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and sweeteners. Beat cream cheese and melted butter together until smooth, then add to first ingredients and beat until just combined and smooth. Stir in half of the blueberries. Pour cheesecake batter into loaf pan and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries over the filling. Bake for 35 minutes using the water bath method (see this post). Remove from oven and let the cheesecake bars cool completely, still submerged within the water bath. Remove the loaf pan from the water bath and move it to the refrigerator when the bars have cooled to room temperature. Cover with a layer of paper towels and plastic wrap. Refrigerate for four hours or until firm. Don’t sneak a bite until they have set up properly and attained the perfect creamy consistency!

~6 grams net carbs per serving

Cuts like a hot knife through buttah!

Sweet and Sugar-free Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

To make use of the gorgeous produce we have readily available right now, I decided to make something I hadn’t really even liked in my carb-addicted dark past. Lemon bars had never really appealed to me, probably because they don’t involve chocolate. And yet they just sounded really good the other day for some reason, with their refreshing tartness and shortbread crust. The recipe is well-suited to a healthful makeover because of the low carb content of eggs and lemons, so I just couldn’t resist trying a batch. After demolishing a trial batch along with my faithful testers, it’s safe to say these gluten-free low carb lemon bars are just as church picnic worthy as their high carb counterparts!

In all their tangy, swirled glory…

As far as the technical baking stuff goes, you do need erythritol if you want to add bulk and lessen the carb count per bar, not to mention the nice rounded sweetness from combining it with the stevia. It also adds a nice crunchiness when it crystallizes, but no overwhelming cooling effect. However, if you refrigerate these bars, you’ll want to pop ’em in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to warm them up for the best mouth feel. Furthermore, you can use a product like ThickenThin Not Sugar (or pure acacia gum) to lessen the amount of recrystallization if you want a smoother texture. You can forgo the erythritol altogether, but you’ll have to use a lot of stevia or just accept a less sweet finished product. Finally, the xanthan gum takes the place of flour in the original recipe to firm up the top of the bars. You could probably use a bit of coconut flour for a similar effect.

Health-wise, these bars are a delicious vehicle for the goodness of raspberries and lemons, which are bursting with vitamin C and cancer-fighting compounds. In lemon, the limonins have the free radical scavenging cytotoxic effects. In red raspberries, ellagitannins may block carcinogens and ward off sickness. Both raspberries and lemons are low in carbs, which makes them perfect candidates for a after-dinner treat or a pre-workout snack. I sip at stevia-sweetened lemonade all day, which is supposed to aid in the absorption of the catechins (antioxidants) in my green tea. I’ll drink to that!

Healthy Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

Makes eight bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread crust:

1/4 cup butter
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-1 tablespoon erythritol or xylitol
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons almond meal
1/4 cup oat or buckwheat flour (oat flour is a lot prettier!)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum

Filling:
2 large cage-free organic eggs
1/2 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract (NuNaturals brand)
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Raspberry Swirl:
1/2 cup organic raspberries
1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
1 teaspoon erythritol
Fresh raspberries for garnish

Preparation:
Soften butter for shortbread. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or blender. Cream butter and erythritol together, then work in flours and gums with a fork until thoroughly combined. Add a pinch of salt and stevia. You want it to be a bit sweeter from the stevia than you can stand it, because some of the stevia’s sweetness breaks down under heat. Press or spread into an 8″ by 4″ loaf pan lined with buttered parchment. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Let crust cool while you prepare the filling. Stick it in the freezer to speed the process.

Powder erythritol. Beat erythritol with eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Add gums. Add a pinch of sea salt and stevia to taste. Pour over shortbread crust.

Puree raspberries with lemon juice and erythritol. Strain through a mesh colander, pushing the puree through with a spatula, if you don’t want seeds in your bars. Drop raspberry puree onto lemon filling in different spots and swirl with the spatula. Dot batter with fresh raspberries if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. I left the center of mine slightly jiggly, and it firmed up after cooling.

~3.75g net carbs per bar!

The taste of summer– Creamsicle Cupcakes

First things first: I am still working on the perfect sugar-free gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe. I tested a fourth batch today, but it was a bit crumbly. The flavor is spot on, though. They’ve come a long way from the hockey pucks I was making when I first started this journey a year ago. Re-creating processed foods out of all natural ingredients takes some trial and error, but it is so worth it when you get it right. For me, anyway. Sticking to a whole foods plan can get monotonous if you don’t mix things up! Interestingly enough, I eat pretty much the same thing every day except when a specific craving hits me. I think we all have a routine that we stick to, food-wise. My biology professor said we do 99% of our actions without thinking. That other one percent of the time I spend in my kitchen, with a full sink of dirty dishes as evidence!

Do you remember creamsicles? They’re still around, and they even make ’em sugar-free for us health-conscious folk. Unfortunately, the pre-packaged treats are laden with sugar alcohols (the scary kind with unpleasant side effects) and artificial sweeteners, so I stick to one mini creamsicle a couple times a week. They make up the only Splenda intake in my diet, so I think my brain is safe from whatever as yet unknown side effects the sucralose molecule is inflicting on us. We are all human guinea pigs with this stuff!

Back to creamsicles. The pairing of vanilla and orange is so fragrant and complementary, with the tang of the citrus balancing out the cloying sweetness that vanilla can impart. These moist, dense cupcakes showcase the full spectrum of the fruit’s bright flavor, containing one whole orange pureed in the batter. The health benefits of oranges are concentrated in the peel, which contain prebiotic oligosaccharides which promote intestinal health. With 13 grams effective carbs per orange, you can eat 1/2 at a time as a healthy snack. Furthermore, the flavonoids have been shown to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. Psh, like you need more reasons to try these cupcakes.

Top the cream cheese frosting with fruit puree to imitate the old-fashioned ice cream bar, or just drop a dollop on top with some zest.

Healthy Creamsicle Cupcakes
adapted from this recipe by Martha Rose Shulman

Makes 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups almond meal, ground fine
6 eggs
Sweetener, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-1 cup erythritol or xylitol
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 medium thin-skinned organic oranges (yielding 1 1/4 cups fruit puree)
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:

Wash oranges well and boil for 20 minutes in a microwave safe dish with a cover until fork tender. Wait until oranges are cooled, then slice them (but do NOT peel them) into sections and remove seeds. Puree in food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 and 1/4 cups of the puree and reserve the rest for a glaze to go with the cream cheese icing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Beat eggs and sugar substitute until batter is thick and golden. Beat in vanilla extract. Stir in fruit puree, almond meal, baking powder, and sea salt. Pour into buttered silicone muffin cups, paper tins (filled at least 3/4 way full), or a bundt pan and bake for 40 minutes or until slightly browned. Do NOT overbake. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Place in tupperware container with a lid when the cupcakes are lukewarm to the touch.

~2.5 grams net carbs per cupcake!

Orange Glaze

Ingredients:
reserved orange puree
lemon juice
sweeteners, to taste
-powdered erythritol
-stevia

Preparation:
Stir lemon juice into orange puree until soupy. Add sweeteners to taste. Spread or drizzle on top of cream cheese icing.

And now for the best part. I had to swat my friend’s finger out of the bowl numerous times (but I let her lick the spatula). 🙂

Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes more than enough cream cheese for twelve cupcakes

Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese
5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
sweetener, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:

-1 or 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol or xylitol
-stevia, to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:
Bring butter to room temperature by leaving out on the counter for 20 minutes or nuking for 10 seconds. Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract together until Smooth. Add sweeteners to taste. Spread on cooled cupcakes or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for later use. Just bring to room temperature and beat until creamy before use.

My batch made fresh this morning is mysteriously almost gone!

Apple Crisp Nostalgia

I’m interrupting the series on peanut butter to fulfill a sudden craving. Yesterday I was trying to figure out what to do with some chayotes I found at the farmer’s market which have been sitting in my fruit bowl for a month. Considering their use as an apple substitute in low-carb cooking, I went over the possibilities. Fried cinnamon “apples,” stuffed “apples,” “apple” muffins… nah. And then it hit me. I saw visions of steaming casserole dishes full of fragrant, crumbly apple crisp. The red box with the ready-made topping mixture stands out in my memory, as does the extensive peeling over the sink required to reap the rewards. Labor intensive, but so worth it. I had to recapture the magic of this childhood favorite sans the sugar so it wouldn’t leave me furtively cleaning out half the tupperware container at midnight, Redi-whip can in hand.

Instead of replacing all the apples to cut down the amount of fructose sugar, I let a couple of big, juicy organic apples work their magic with some thinly sliced chayotes. These ugly green squashes are pretty nondescript in flavor, and have the perfect texture after some heavy duty steaming to play well with the sweeter, softer apples. The chayotes will suck up all the apple-y goodess in the marinating and cooking process, leaving anyone who tastes this dish blissfully unaware of their presence. Flour and brown sugar are usually the main ingredients in the crunchy topping, but nuts and a touch of blackstrap molasses work just as well, with a ton more flavor. With this sugar- and gluten-free apple crisp, you get all of the health benefits of apples with none of the blood sugar spike and fat storing insulin response. The phytochemicals in apples may promote lung health, protect against cancer, and prevent cardiovascular disease. Okay, need any more reasons to eat apple crisp?

Nutty Apple Crisp

Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
2 medium-sized apples, thinly sliced (1/4″ thick)
2 chayotes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Sweeteners
For ALL NATURAL sweetening, use all three of the following:
-6 tablespoons erythritol
Pure stevia extract, to taste
-1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses

1 cup nut meal (almond, pecan, hazelnut, etc.)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans and walnuts)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon oat flour (optional)
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (optional, firms up the filling)

Preparation:
Peel and slice apples and chayotes, tossing apples in a bowl with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and placing chayotes in a microwave safe dish. Add the other 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, water, and 3 tablespoons of the erythritol to the chayotes, stirring the squash around to coat. Microwave for 12-14 minutes on high or until fork tender, stirring half way through the cooking process. Remove from microwave and let cool. Taste and add additional sweeteners to the chayotes if necessary. You want them to be as sweet as the apples.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Melt butter in the microwave until liquified. Whisk in erythritol, blackstrap molasses, and vanilla extract. Mix with dry ingredients until crumbly. Taste and add additional sweetener to the topping if necessary. Add chayotes to bowl of apples and fold in xanthan gum thoroughly. Butter a baking dish, and fill it with layered chayote and apple slices. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until crisp is bubbly and browned. Crisp the top under the broiler setting for a few minutes if necessary. Let cool for 10 minutes. This is best eaten fresh, so make a small batch if you have to!

~5.5 grams net carbs per serving

Serve with fresh whipped cream and garnish with cinnamon sticks (50 cents in the Mexican aisle!) for a classy touch.

1 2