Archive of ‘By Cravings’ category

Romantic Indulgences: Healthy Truffles and Mini Cheesecakes

Chocolate raspberry mini cheesecakes, anyone?
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I realize this post is a bit late for preparing these romantically themed treats in time for that special someone today. Please excuse the tardiness, because this week has been insane. Midterms and the big game just happened to fall within the span of three days. Talk about a whirlwind.

The Cameron Crazies

Now that the madness is over (for now), let’s get cooking again! Valentine’s Day is the prime opportunity for showcasing chocolate desserts. I know I’ve been on a chocolate kick for the past, well, month, but stay with me here.

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These all natural low carb chocolate truffles are adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown, the television personality slash culinary god that inspired me to start cooking. Silky smooth and rich, with a strong undertone of rum flavoring (which can be omitted… keep reading teetotallers!), they are a pure hit of chocolate to the brain.

Because these amazing treats aren’t loaded with sugar, you’ll be satisfied with just a couple rich bites! What’s not to love about that?

Healthy Chocolate Truffles

I will probably omit the rum next time, but my friends certainly enjoyed them! They said the truffles tasted “professional.” Try a batch with and without the alcohol. You will want to make these more than once!

Healthy Chocolate Truffles
Adapted from this recipe by Alton Brown

Makes 16-18 truffles

Ingredients:
5 oz Lindt 85% cacao chocolate (from two chocolate bars)
1 1/2 tablespoons regular salted organic butter
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark rum OR 2 teaspoons vanilla plus 4 teaspoons water
6 tablespoons erythritol, powdered (buy it here and here)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Truffle Coatings:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1-3.5 oz 70% cacao content Lindt chocolate bar + 1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
Toasted unsweetened coconut
Toasted chopped pecans

Preparation:
Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet blender. Chop up cold butter into small chunks and set aside. Section out the Lindt bars into seven pieces each (I just eyeball it). Each piece is half of an ounce. Count out ten of these pieces. Chop or break up chocolate into small chunks. Add cream and erythritol. Microwave in a heat proof bowl on HIGH for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir until just smooth. Add butter and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in stevia and rum (or vanilla and water). Taste and adjust amount of stevia if necessary, adding 1/16 of a teaspoon until you reach desired level of sweetness. Pour into an 8 by 8 glass dish or other large pan and freeze for 10-20 minutes, or until firm. You could alternatively refrigerate filling and roll truffles the next day.

Scoop out truffles with a melon baller or teaspoon measure. Roll quickly (rinse hands under ice water and dry off) into balls, and set on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Your hands might get a bit messy if you don’t wear gloves. Freeze for five minutes while preparing coatings.

For a quick and easy coating, just roll the naked truffles in sifted cocoa powder. For a nice thin chocolate coating that keeps well at room temperature, melt the chopped 70% chocolate bar until smooth, then add stevia to taste, starting with 1/8 teaspoon. Dip cold truffle fillings into chocolate with a fork, them immediately roll in nuts, coconut or cocoa powder. You could also just leave the chocolate coating plan. Store refrigerated in an airtight container in the fridge, or on the counter top for 24 hours. Serve at room temperature.

~3g net carbs per truffle, coated in cocoa powder
~5g net carbs per truffle, coated in 70% chocolate coating

Love at first bite.
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Recipe for the Mini Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes coming tomorrow. I have to go get ready to celebrate Valentine’s day. Apologies! I decided to enter a contest and need to save this recipe for next month!

Related blog content you might enjoy:
Chocolate Truffles @ The Protein Power Blog
Homemade Chocolate Covered Cherries @ Elana’s Pantry
Low Carb Chocolate Rum Balls @ About.com

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! (Sugar-Free and Paleo)

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 candy 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.

I brainstormed how to recreate the gooey coconut filling sans the sugar. Coconut oil, coconut milk, and unsweetened coconut would add plenty of fresh coconut flavor and moisture to the filling. A blend of natural sweeteners–stevia and erythritol–would add sweetness without the carbohydrates. I came up with a test batch and ceremoniously handed Bethany one of the freshly coated treats on a tiny paper plate. Moments later, she gave me a chocolate covered thumbs up. We had a winner!

 

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, these treats are incidentally vegan. As one helpful reader pointed out, these candy bars are nearly sugar-free as the Lindt chocolate in the coating contains just 19g net carbs (for the whole 85% bar) or 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. Update: If you’d like the coating to be totally sugar-free, try melting down a Lily’s sugar-free chocolate bar. They’re super yummy and available for purchase Whole Foods supermarkets.

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

Yields 20
You can make these sugar-free (recommended for diabetics) or paleo by using your preferred sweeteners. This recipe is flexible, so play around with it! Be aware that if you use honey, the flavor of it will compete with the coconut and chocolate, so it won’t taste exactly like the traditional candy bar, but it’ll still be yummy! You can’t really go wrong with a sweet coconut filling enveloped in chocolate, now can you?


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Prep Time
20 min

Prep Time
20 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups (142g) fine unsweetened shredded coconut
  2. 5-6 tablespoons (75 mL)coconut oil, melted
  3. 1/3 cup (78 mL) full fat coconut milk
  4. 1/3 cup erythritol* (67g) OR 1/4 cup (50g) xylitol
  5. 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure stevia extract (I recommend Trader Joe’s organic stevia)
  6. Whole almonds
  7. 2-3.5 oz (200g) Lindt 70% chocolate bars** OR sugar-free chocolate
  8. 1/16 teaspoon (0.3 mL) unrefined sea salt
To Prepare Filling
  1. Chill a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper in the freezer or fridge while you are prepping the candy filling.
  2. If you are making sugar-free candies, start by grinding the erythritol, xylitol, and sea salt into a fine powder using a coffee grinder.
  3. Whisk together coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, and honey (for the paleo version) or powdered sweeteners until you form a smooth paste.
  4. Add stevia, a little at a time, tasting for sweetness. Add more stevia if necessary. If you use one of the recommended brands, the listed quantity should provide just the right amount of non-bitter sweetness!
  5. Drop dollops of the coconut mixture on to aluminum foil or waxed paper, and shape into flat logs with your fingertips.
  6. Top with almonds, pressing the nuts down gently into the filling.
  7. Freeze filling on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, or until it is firm and cold.
To Prepare Coating
  1. 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 logs. Dip filling log into chocolate, return to wax paper, and remove toothpick. Wait a minute or two for chocolate coating to harden, and enjoy!
Notes
  1. *If you are making the filling with sugar-free sweeteners, I recommended using erythritol with a tablespoon of xylitol mixed in. To learn why I always combine sweeteners, check out the Healthy Indulgences E-Cookbook!
  2. **You can use sugar-free chocolate for the coating, like Lily’s, if you are trying to completely avoid sugar.
  3. ~0.57g net carbs per candy bar without the chocolate coating
  4. ~35g net carbs per 1-3.5 oz 70% Lindt bar
  5. ~4g net carbs per bar made with 70% Lindt chocolate bar coating
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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~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

Healthier Nutella and the Best Cupcakes Ever

NUTELLAFINAL

Raise your hand if you are guilty of dipping your finger into a jar of Nutella at some point. Is your hand up high? Mine too! It’s becoming more and more common to come across Nutella addicts from all walks of life. I still remember the first time I sampled Nutella at a Spanish language immersion summer camp. I hesitantly spread it on my toast, took a dainty little bite, and was instantly hooked! A few years later, Nutella cropped up in U.S. grocery stores, dooming me to a life of temptation every time I reached for an innocent jar of peanut butter placed strategically beside the jar with the white lid and Kobe Bryant smiling out at you.

This rich, sweet chocolate hazelnut spread is (well, was) good on just about anything, from pretzels to fresh fruit to crepes to straight-off-the-spoon-when-you-think-no-one’s-looking. Let’s have a look at the ingredients of this popular peanut butter alternative:

sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skimmed milk, soy lecithin, vanillin, reduced mineral whey

Sugar makes up the bulk of the spread? No wonder it’s so tasty! Modified palm oil? Palm oil is shelf stable and full of healthful saturated fats as is, which makes me curious as to why it is adulterated for Nutella. Madness! Let’s make some chocolate hazelnut spread that won’t leech nutrients from your body…

This low sugar version of Nutella (Not-tella?) packs a nutrient punch with antioxidants, healthful saturated fat, and iron from the chocolate, and monounsaturated fat and magnesium from the nuts and oil. The milk contributes a bit of calcium as well. Best of all, the net carbohydrate grams have been cut down from 168 per cup to 56! Spread your Nutella on an almond flour biscuit and enjoy chocolately decadence without the sugar crash!

The recipe for Not-tella is so simple! You just have to do a bit of chopping and stirring (and taste-testing as you go along, shh). You can find powdered milk at most supermarkets and even Wal-Mart. If you’re dairy-free or vegan, perhaps powdered coconut or soy milk would be a good stand in. As for the oil in the recipe, you have options. I used cold-pressed peanut oil because it has the best taste and least heat processing for the most reasonable price, but any nutty or neutral tasting oil would work. A touch of vanilla bean paste would be lovely in this spread, if you have access to it. Just don’t add water and ruin the smooth, luxurious consistency!

Healthier Not-tella (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (heaped) fresh hazelnuts
5 tablespoons oil
1-3.5 oz Lindt 70% cacao content bar
1/4 teaspoon (scant) of good-tasting pure stevia extract
4 tablespoons powdered milk (I used Organic Valley)
Pinch sea salt

Preparation:

Toast hazelnuts in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, stirring twice. Dump hot hazelnuts into a clean dish towel and rub vigorously for a few moments to remove some of the skins. Don’t worry if some of the skins are still left on. Chop up nuts well (unless you have a really powerful blender). Pour oil into blender or Magic Bullet cup. Add nuts. Blend for a minute or two until nuts are ground as smooth as you can get them. Make sure your hands are dry, and break or chop up chocolate bar into pieces and microwave for 30 seconds, then for 15 seconds, or until it can be stirred smooth. Stir in powdered milk (sifted, if it has lumps), stevia, and sea salt. Store tightly in a glass jar for 24 hours to let the flavors meld. Reheat cold Nutella to make it spreadable, as it will harden in the fridge.

~56g net carbs for the whole recipe, with 7g net carbs per 2 tablespoons

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And now, a little somethin’ special for New Year’s festivities…

NUTELLA SWIRL CUPCAKES!
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These cupcakes are darn good. They really deserve their own post, but this recipe came together as I was working on a cupcake base for swirls of Not-tella. If you haven’t tried coconut flour-based cake (and even if you HAVE tried it), you are in for a treat! My standard coconut cake recipe is adapted from one of Bruce Fife’s recipes, but one little twist on the method of preparation has yielded the best sugar-free gluten-free (and dairy-free!) cupcakes I’ve ever eaten.

Healthy Nutella Swirl Cupcake

The big twist is… whipping the egg whites and folding them back in! That’s it. That’s all you have to do to get a nice fluffy consistency with pretty rounded tops and a perfectly moist interior. If you’re intimidated by egg whites, read this helpful tutorial. I’ll never make cupcakes with the old, lazy method again. It seriously takes less than 5 extra minutes to attain white flour-less cupcake nirvana. It also cuts the calories per serving drastically, which means you can “eat more,” and have 2 cupcakes instead of one. And this, my friends, is totally sweet.

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Nutella Swirl Cupcakes a.k.a The Best Cupcakes Ever

Makes enough for two muffin trays

Ingredients:
1/2 cup oil (I used 1/4 cup extra virgin olive and 1/4 cup coconut)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic half and half or coconut milk
1/2 cup sifted coconut flour
1/2 cup erythritol
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease muffin pans with nonhydrogenated shortening, or line with paper cups. Spray paper liners with cooking spray if using. Stir together oils, vanilla, and half and half. Mix together coconut flour, erythritol, stevia, baking powder, and salt. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then whisk in egg yolks. In a separate, meticulously clean bowl using clean beaters, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Stir a bit of the whites into the yolk batter to lighten it up, then proceed to fold in the rest of the whites. Don’t worry the batter has streaks or a few chunks of foam. Spoon batter into greased pans, leaving a little room at the top (do NOT overfill or cupcakes can sink in the middle).

Use a teaspoon to drop chocolate spread onto the top of cupcakes, and swirl in with a toothpick, pulling batter up and over the filling. Bake mini muffins for 20-25 minutes, and regular muffins for 25-30 minutes. Cupcakes may became very browned in some spots on the top, but they will not dry out. Remove when the top of the cupcakes spring back. Let cool for 10 minutes in pans, then invert onto a clean towel or wire rack. Store at room temperature for a couple of days, then refrigerate.

For extra decadence, stuff the insides of cupcakes with Not-tella…
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…or just drizzle it generously over the tops!
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The filling didn’t quite make it down to the center in this one, but it was still yummy!
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~2g net carbs per plain, regular-sized cupcake
~.8g net carbs per minicupcake

Related recipes you might like:
Real, Homemade Nutella @ Seattle Local Food
Let’s Go Nuts: Nutella! @ Food & Thoughts
Cocoa Nib Hazelnut Spread @ vegan visitor


What are you making for a New Year’s party? I’m looking for ideas. 🙂

A Chocolate Giveaway and Healthier Red Velvet Cake (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free!)

There’s still too much chocolate hanging around here, so today I’m giving away a luxurious Godiva 85% cacao content chocolate bar. Leave a comment and win yourself a bar of fine chocolate!

Don’t forget to look at the past giveaways for erythritol and xylitol and the Lindt and Green & Black’s Chocolate packages!

Contest closes December 25th.
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redvelvetFINAL2

Red Velvet Cake! So glamorous. So decadent. So perfect for the holiday season!

This cake is all about being over the top. Even the healthful version seems excessive in a way, using 9 eggs, a whole pound of cream cheese, and half the bottle of red food coloring. Yes, food coloring is a shady ingredient. If, however, you are following a whole foods all natural diet 99% of the time, I doubt a little slice of sugar-free, gluten-free, low carb red velvet cake on special occasions is going to destroy all of your good efforts. A little artificial coloring does not come close to doing the damage done by the “real thing,” made with flour and sugar, packing over 60 grams of carbs per slice. Kick up your heels and have some nourishing cake!

Coconut flour makes the most rich, heavy and indulgent cake you have ever tasted. The nine eggs in this cake do not impart an eggy flavor at all since the coconut flour is defatted and high in fiber, therefore sucking up all of the moisture. I just picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour at the local mom n’ pop health food store, but you can order it online, too. Coconut flour also does NOT taste like coconuts in this recipe, so fear not if you don’t favor that distinct tropical flavor.

I split one 9 inch round layer cake into two layers since I didn’t want to invest 18 eggs in a cake that may or may not have worked well. It turned out beautifully, with a heavy, moist texture and a hint of buttermilk flavor. Red velvet cake has never been a chocolate cake in my memory. Granted, I have only tasted one kind, coming from a local restaurant out by the beach. If you prefer a more chocolaty cake, try adding some more cocoa powder and a couple of tablespoons of water.

Healthy Red Velvet Cake

Healthy Red Velvet Cake

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, softened
9 large eggs
1 cup erythritol
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Set out butter and eggs to bring to room temperature. Alternatively, microwave butter for 8-10 seconds and dunk eggs in warm tap water for 15 minutes. Prep 9 inch cake pan by greasing with nonhydrogenated shortening and dusting with extra cocoa powder. Tap pan on all sides to distribute cocoa powder in an even layer. Whisk together eggs in a bowl until a bit foamy, and add vanilla extract to eggs. In another bowl, sift coconut flour and stir in sea salt and cocoa powder. Mix together yogurt and red food coloring in a third bowl. In the largest bowl, cream butter for about 30 seconds to make it fluffy. Add erythritol in a steady stream and cream together for 2-3 minutes, or until light, fluffy, and close to the color of cream cheese. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Slowly stream in beaten eggs, beating continuously. Don’t worry if the batter curdles. Once eggs are added, add dry and wet ingredients alternately until everything has been added but the baking powder. Mix in baking powder and scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the center of the middle oven rack, or until batter is completely set and springs back. Cover top with foil and bake for longer if center is not set. Remove cake from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Invert pan onto a cookie sheet and let cake cool completely. Slice into two layers with a serrated knife, if desired. Transfer bottom cake layer to a serving dish lined with strips of wax paper hanging off the edges. Frost cake, laying over a thin crumb coat first. Then pile on the frosting spread outward from the center of the layer. Add top layer to cake and cover completely with frosting. Store and serve at room temperature. Refrigerate after 24 hours. Cake is best tasting after warming up if it has been kept in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2-8 oz packages cream cheese or Neufatchel 1/3 less fat cheese
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup erythritol, powdered
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 stick organic unsalted butter

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Beat until smooth and creamy, then add powdered erythritol and beat for about 2 minutes, or until erythritol is dissolved and the mixture does not feel gritty to the touch. Beat in butter just until smooth and incorporated.

~60g net carbs for the whole, frosted cake
~6g net carbs per 1/10th
~7.5g net carbs per 1/8th

Healthy Red Velvet Cake

Chocolate Giveaways, Healthier Buckeyes, and Christmas Candy Making

Sugar-Free Buckeyes, how I love you so!
Sugar-Free Buckeye Candies (Low Carb)

To celebrate the season, I’m giving away two prizes to two readers who comment on this post. Up for grabs is a package of Green & Black’s Organic 85% cacao chocolate along with my cooking chocolate of choice, the Lindt Excellence 85% cacao bar. I have two of these bundles all wrapped up for the lucky readers!

Contest closes December 25th. The contest is closed. Thank you for your entry!
chocolategiveaway

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Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

Seven Layer Bars a.k.a Magic Cookie Bars, are my absolute favorite holiday treats. The combination of rich chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and the sticky sweetness of condensed milk all coalesce into an incredibly addictive bar cookie. My take on Seven (Six?) Layer Bars is sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb. It’s a good thing they freeze well ’cause the batch I made today was just too tempting, sitting around on the counter top lookin’ all delicious and gooey!

Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

You’ll need to make a homemade sugar-free caramel sauce to replace that Eagle Brand Condensed Milk that holds these bars together. With a touch of real honey, the sauce is smooth, creamy, and perfect for any dessert that calls for a drizzle of caramel. It doesn’t keep well, so you should prepare and use it immediately. Fortunately, it takes minutes to make.

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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

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