Archive of ‘Dairy-Free’ category

Healthy Cake with a Secret, Part 2- Gluten-Free Low Carb Yellow Cake!

yellow cake close up

(Please ignore the robots on the paper liners. They were on sale!)

Since posting my chocolate cake made with black beans last month, I’ve received quite a few requests for a vanilla version of this incredibly moist, easy recipe. You ask, I deliver! These gluten-free sugar-free low carb (grain-free!) yellow cupcakes are made with coconut flour in place of the cocoa powder, and white beans instead of black beans. Cocoa powder and coconut flour seem to work interchangeably! It’s a pretty cool discovery that I hope y’all can make use of in your own gluten-free low carb baking pursuits. And because someone will ask: These cupcakes do not taste like beans or coconut! Just butter and vanilla and moist yumminess. Using beans and coconut flour in place of almond flour is budget-friendly, so you can experiment with this recipe by adding cinnamon, nuts, sugar-free chocolate chunks, different extracts… have fun!

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Fluffy, Diner-Style Healthy Pancakes… Low Carb and Gluten-Free!

Going to keep this post short and sweet. It’s been a busy weekend! Summer term is already wrapping up, with only a couple weeks of class left.

Healthy Low Carb Pancakes

This morning, I got a craving for pancakes! I’ve been searching for a healthy low carb version of those fluffy white stacks of carb-fog-inducing bliss ever since I saw my friends chowing down on flapjacks at my favorite breakfast diner, The Golden Griddle. It’s a mandatory stop on our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the end of the school year. Every May, Dukies take over this quaint restaurant for a weekend, and get served by the likes of our super friendly waitress Kathleen, and other purveyors of Southern hospitality. We’ve had Kathleen as our server for two years running, so going to Golden Griddle now feels like a special welcome from the small beach town.

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Sugar-Free Coconut Cake Bites

Since y’all enjoyed the chocolate cake (made with beans!) so much, I’m going to create more desserts that don’t rely heavily on almond flour a.k.a. powdered gold for low carb bakers! Does this sound like a good plan? Leave some feedback and let me know what you think.

Healthy Grain-Free Coconut Cupcakes

These moist little cake bites contain all of the decadence of a classic Southern coconut cake, with none of the highly refined ingredients that make the original only an occasional treat. These flavorful coconut cakes are  sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb (dairy-free!), so you get the nutrients from coconut, almonds, and eggs without the grains and sugar to spike your blood sugar.

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Healthier Chocolate Cake with a Secret

Cake.

Sugar-Free, Healthy Chocolate Cake (Made from Black Beans!)
Chocolate cake!

Chocolate cake made without flour, sugar, or dairy. Low carb and gluten-free, of course. Cake made out of a surprise ingredient, one that will make you wrinkle you’re nose upon hearing it. This cake is good. So good, in fact, that I had to have a mug of stevia-sweetened pomegranate tea and go to bed, so I’d stop shaving off “test” slices.

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Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs… Move Over Cadbury!

First things first: My iherb.com rewards code is NIN467. Thank you to BkBabe and the other readers who clued me in about this! Use it for your first iherb.com purchase, and get a $5 discount.

cremeegg

It’s that time of year. That time when convenience stores have Easter candy displays set up. Even the most devoted healthy eaters can get nostalgic, seeing the colorful displays of packaged marshmallow and chocolate confections. Reminiscent of childhood candy baskets on Easter morning, these toxic frankenfoods certainly still have an allure for me. The single most tempting treat is Cadbury Cream Eggs, hands-down. As much as my tastebuds have adapted to subtle sweetness and natural sugar substitutes, I could still probably down a package of those goo-filled overpoweringly sweet candy eggs.

With a healthy dose of natural saturated fats and antioxidants from the organic cream, butter, and unsweetened chocolate, these homemade candies will allow you to have your seasonal treats while maintaining your healthy diet. I seriously cannot believe the power sugar holds over us at times. I believe due to biochemical individuality, it’s only certain individuals who are cursed with getting that “jolt” of happiness every time they eat sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods. The evolutionary adaptation that helped us to identify energy rich foods back when we were chasing around saber toothed tigers can be tortuous in this processed food-filled day and age!

My homemade almost sugar-free take on these well loved confections does not taste exactly the same, but is every bit as delicious and satisfying. The simple filling is light but rich, with buttery undertones. I even made a vegan version for you dairy-free folks! The combination of stevia and honey contributes just the right amount of sweetness to the creamy center, minus the gloppy powdered sugar/corn syrup consistency and cloying quality. My testers certainly gave these the thumbs up!

Now let’s compare these treats with the store bought sugar bombs…

Original Creme Eggs:
28 grams net carbs!

Healthy Creme Eggs:
6 grams net carbs!

Pretty crazy, huh? The little bit of really sugar in honey works really well here. I did not try a version with erythritol because a) I’m out, and b) I’m guessing there will be a cooling effect/grittiness that would be unpleasant in the creamy filling.

Now go buy some egg molds off of ebay ($5 including shipping!), and get candy making. Happy early Easter!

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Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted organic butter
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
1 fresh organic egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Heat butter, cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. Whisk in egg yolk and cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). It will leave a trail when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

~4.2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

cremeeggvegan

Dairy-Free/Vegan Filling

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup coconut cream (from canned coconut milk)
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
Tiny pinch xanthan gum OR 1 fresh egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good-tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Store coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove the lid gently, and scoop out the solid upper layer of coconut cream. Heat shortening, coconut cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. If using xanthan gum, simply add the tiniest pinch you can hold between your fingertips, and whisk for a minute. It will thicken a little bit in the pan, but will become even more viscous upon cooling. Less is more here. It’s better to add too little xanthan then have it turn slimy because you’ve added too much. You can always add more when the mixture has cooled. If using egg yolk, whisk it into the warmed coconut cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

Sugar-Free “Milk” Chocolate Egg Shells (or Chocolate Chunks)

Makes 8 egg shells

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli)
2 tablespoons powdered nonfat milk (I use Organic Valley)
2 tablespoons xylitol or 3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2 teaspoons nonhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum Organic)

Ensure all utensils and working bowls are completely dry. Powder sweetener and powdered milk with the flat blade on a Magic Bullet, or your coffee grinder. Whir for at least one minute until it becomes an extra fine powder. Do not open canister immediately in order to allow the powdered mixture to settle. In a large microwave safe bowl, break chocolate into chunks, and add shortening. Heat chocolate mixture for 35 seconds on HIGH and stir. Heat in 10 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. Dump in powdered mixture, and fold around the bowl with a spatula until smooth. It will look clumpy and thick at first, but you will be able to smooth it out. Reheat in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Fill molds, spreading chocolate up the sides with your fingertips or the back of a tiny measuring spoon. Chill in freezer, and repeat, only spreading chocolate around the top edges (which tend to be too thin since the chocolate sinks into the middle of the molds. Don’t worry if the inside looks messy–the outside will still look perfect. Smooth the top edges of the chocolate shells to ensure that they’ll fit together. Chill again. Pop out of mold using gentle pressure on the backs of the wells, along with rapping the plastic tray on the counter. Fill one egg half with filling. On another egg half, paint a thin line of extra chocolate along the top edges. Stick the second half over the first, pressing firmly to seal. Let set for five minutes. Eat!

For dairy-free chocolate shells, omit milk powder and decrease shortening to 1/2 teaspoon.

If making into chunks, pour into a pan lined with parchment and spread flat. Chill until firm, then chop into chunks.

~2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

OM
cremeegg5

NOM!

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Check out this week’s Real Food Wednesday over at Kelly the Kitchen Cop for more information on healthful fats!

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (Dairy-Free)

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Chocolate & Peanut Butter, a match made in Heaven. As good little Weston Price followin’ sugar hatin’ unprocessed foodies, we have to get our peanut butter cup flavor fixes the homespun route. We must conjure up low carb alternatives with nut flours, healthful saturated fats, sugar substitutes, and pure unadulterated cacao. Our desserts don’t come easy and don’t come cheap. There’s no vending machine button for this stuff.

But the payoff for some serious kitchen time is so worth it.

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So sorry to keep y’all in suspense about this low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free (whew!) Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart recipe. The photo for my initial test run is apparently the most popular image at my flickr album. I was just tweaking the recipe to provide a couple of options for ingredients. After some tinkering, I hit upon two different fillings with slightly different consistencies, only one of which requires xanthan gum. Xanthan gum acts as a no carb replacement for the cornstarch used in typical pudding recipes. It is a specialty ingredient that I’ve blogged about before. Xanthan gum costs around $13 for a small bag that will last you for years if you’re a low carber (not a high starch gluten-free baker!). There are many applications of this natural gum thickener, some of which include thickening your low carb smoothies to a luxurious “milkshake” consistency, and making cranberry sauce. It’s an innocuous ingredient with a strange name. Just a tiny pinch goes a long way!

Now let’s talk dessert! The recipe I made the first time yields a more loose “pudding” tart, with a light tasting lower fat filling. It makes a dainty pudding pie, with a creamy texture and crunchy crust (which could be doubled for more peanut buttery goodness). The Chocolate Pudding Tart is what you see in the following photograph.

Sugar-Free-Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Pie

To make either of the recipes completely sugar-free, use xylitol in place of honey if you can tolerate it. I can handle xylitol in normal portions (one cookie, one piece of pie, etc.), but had to ingest it regularly for a few days to “adjust” to it. Xylitol works much better than erythritol in cookie-type recipes that do not contain much moisture. How you count the carbs in xylitol is up to you. Some people count half, because it does not have a glycemic index of zero like erythritol. I buy xylitol locally at Whole Foods (instead of ordering it) for convenience. It retails for a better price than erythritol, so per pound it is the same price as ordering online (unless you buy in bulk). Xylitol is a great stand in for erythritol in a pinch if you need your sweet “fix”!

Chocolate Pudding Tart with Peanut Butter Cookie Crust (Dairy-Free)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
Peanut Butter Cookie Crust:
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening (or unsalted butter)
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Chocolate Pudding Filling:
1 can coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup erythritol OR 3 tablespoons honey
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil or nonhydrogenated shortening (or butter)
1/4 (scant) teaspoon pure stevia extract

Preparation:

Instructions for crust:
Melt shortening or butter in a microwaveable bowl. Whisk in honey and stevia extract. Grind peanuts in a food processor or Magic Bullet, until you get as fine a meal as possible. The peanuts should be the consistency of a crumbly paste. Add peanut paste, baking powder, and vanilla, stirring it together with a spatula until you have a smooth dough. Press into a greased 9 inch pie plate lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 275 degrees, or until browned around the edges. Leave crust in oven and turn off the heat while you prepare the chocolate and start heating the coconut milk.

Instructions for filling:
Chop the unsweetened chocolate bar finely. In a sauce pan over medium low heat, whisk coconut milk, erythritol or honey, and sea salt until mixture bubbles around the edges. Remove tart crust from oven and place in freezer to cool. In a separate bowl, stream 1/3 cup reserved coconut milk into cocoa powder, whisking to form a paste. Continue whisking while adding egg yolks to cocoa paste mixture. Measure out 1/2 cup of hot coconut milk from saucepan and stream into cocoa paste yolk mixture, whisking. Turn down heat to low and slowly pour the cocoa paste yolk mixture into saucepan, continuing to whisk. Cook for about three minutes, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (to see what this looks like click HERE). Your finger should leave a trail if you drag it across the coated spoon. Remove immediately from heat and add shortening (or butter), vanilla extract, xanthan gum, and stevia. Pour through a fine mesh sieve (I use a regular wire strainer) on to chopped chocolate, and whisk just until the filling is smooth and glossy. Blend in a blender for an ultra smooth consistency. Pour into baked tart crust. Transfer to refrigerator and cover with a paper towel covered with aluminum foil, careful not to let the paper towel touch the top (I pull it tightly over top and secure the covering with more plastic wrap). Chill overnight.

~9g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe (using honey in the crust)

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Below is the more decadent Chocolate “Silk” Pie filling, topped with a layer of sugar-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache! It makes a larger, more impressive tart. The crust is less sweet and a bit cakey, which balances out the intensity of the rich chocolate. I’ll be making this version from now on, just because of how utterly satisfying it is. A tiny slice is all you need to feel like you’re being naughty! With desserts like these, who needs sugar?

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For an extra smooth silk pie filling, blend the filling in a food processor or blender after you stir in the chocolate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Silk Pie (Dairy-Free)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Crust:
1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR nonhydrogenated shortening (I like Spectrum Organic)
2 tablespoons beaten egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup blanched almond flour, packed
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup xylitol, powdered, OR 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Chocolate Silk Filling:
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup erythritol or 4 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (like Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons coconut oil, nonhydrogenated shortening, OR organic unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon (scant) pure stevia extract

Preparation:

Instructions for peanut butter crust:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt peanut butter together with butter in a heat proof bowl. Stir in vanilla, egg, and honey or xylitol, if using. Add dry ingredients and stir to form a dough. It may be sticky, but will come together. Press up the sides of a 9 inch tart pan or pie plate, greased and lined with a circle of parchment paper. If you’re making the crust with honey, turn down oven to 275 degrees, and place tart on middle rack. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and do not open the door. Chop the chocolate and set your coconut milk heating. If you’re making the crust with xylitol, bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges.

Instructions for chocolate silk filling:

Heat 1 1/4 cup coconut milk, erythritol or honey, and salt, and simmer on low. Whisk together rest of coconut milk, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg until foamy. Stream 1/2 cup of the warmed coconut milk mixture from the saucepan to the eggs, whisking constantly, and then add egg mixture into saucepan. Keep whisking! Cook for 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring until mixture coats the back of a spoon (see above instructions for visual). Immediately remove pan from heat, and stir in vanilla, shortening (or butter), and stevia extract. Once butter has melted, strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve on to chopped chocolate. Stir until filling is a smooth, glossy consistency. Blend in a blender, briefly, for an ultra smooth consistency. Pour filling into tart shell, almost to the brim. You might have some filling left over, which you can pour into muffin cups and freeze for snacks. Cool tart uncovered in the freezer until the top becomes firm, then transfer to refrigerator and cover with parchment paper and plastic wrap. Store pie slices in an airtight container to keep the filling moist.

~8g net carbs per 1/10th of a recipe (using honey in the crust)

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Before serving, top filling with this smooth, candy inspired dairy-free topper if you’d like an alternative to real whipped cream. Make this. It’s the BEST part of the pie!

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cup Ganache Topping

1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (no-stir or extra smooth ground)
1 tablespoon nonhydrogenated shortening or butter
2 tablespoons erythritol OR 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract (if using erythritol)

Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet for about a minute until finely ground. Lettle settle in container for a minute or two. Melt chocolate, peanut butter, and butter in microwave on HIGH for 35 seconds, stirring until completely melted. Melt for 10 more seconds if necessary. Stir in erythritol and stevia with a spatula, smoothing out the chocolate until it is glossy and lump-free. Spread on to tart. Let topping set in the refrigerator, and cover tart again for storage.

~1.3g net carbs per 1/10th of a recipe

Healthier Banana Nut Muffins

banana-nut-muffins-low-carb-sugar-free

Nothin’ like a moist muffin with a pat of Kerrygold butter to start off your day.
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All of my baking supplies are gone. They were taken from the dorm kitchen under the cover of night, either by a prankster or an irritated cleaning lady (I’m assuming the latter). I asked around as to the whereabouts of my cake pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, and Magic Bullet parts, and got no answers. Such is college life! You live and you learn.

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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

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. 🙂

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