Archive of ‘Nut-Free’ category

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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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!

freezerclusters

Dark Chocolate Ganache

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

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

~22g of carbs for the whole batch

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!
cupcake2

~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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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

Dairy-Free Indulgences: Decadent Low-Carb Hot Chocolate

UPDATE: Kimi over at The Nourishing Gourmet blog recently put up a very informative post regarding the best type of coconut milk. Check it out!

Healthy Hot Chocolate

Now that it’s cooling down, I like to warm up with my sweet treats. There’s nothing like a big frothy mug of hot cocoa to relax all of the tension in those cold muscles. Apart from satisfying your sweet tooth, hot chocolate can actually do your body good… if prepared with wholesome ingredients! Studies show that cocoa and dark chocolate may even improve insulin sensitivity and reduce heart disease risk. Check out these journal articles regarding the health effects of cocoa if you’re feeling nerdy:

~Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a
significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood
pressure in healthy persons

~Effects of cocoa powder and dark chocolate on LDL oxidative susceptibility and prostaglandin concentrations in humans
~Flavonoid-Rich Dark Chocolate Improves Endothelial Function and Increases Plasma Epicatechin Concentrations in Healthy Adults
~Effect of Dark Chocolate on Arterial Function in Healthy Individuals

Coconut milk, the creamy base for my cocoa, is also packed with good stuff–lauric acid and medium chain triglycerides, which raise HDL cholesterol and are less likely to be stored as body fat! It’s a much better option than soy milk, which is often genetically modified and contains phytates.

To make this dairy-free hot chocolate every bit as creamy as the dairy-filled version, I add melted dark chocolate, full fat coconut milk, and a whole fresh egg in addition to the cocoa powder. This makes for a very filling, nutrient-packed drink! You can use any 85% cacao content chocolate you prefer. Lindt 85% is widely available, reasonably priced, and delicious. This luscious drink is almost like a pourable chocolate custard. You can sweeten it with any combination of sugar-free sweeteners you like. Just remember that using multiple sweeteners is key to making sugarless chocolate treats taste yummy.

Yes, you read that right–this drink calls for a raw egg. The risk of contracting salmonella from conventional eggs is exceptionally low. For organic eggs, which come from healthy hens, the risk is close to zero. I have been consuming one to two raw eggs per day in smoothies for over a year, because the nutrients in the yolk are best preserved in raw form. If you’re still squeamish, go hunt down some pasteurized shell eggs, which are available in many supermarkets. As for the taste, raw eggs make smoothies and shakes unbelievably creamy and frothy. Try it and you won’t go back to egg-less smoothies!

If you’re wary about the coconut milk tasting strange in hot chocolate, fear not. The flavor of coconut milk is so subtle that it is not noticeable in most recipes. I promise you it does not distract one bit from the rich chocolate taste. If you like, you can add flavor extracts to keep your cocoa interesting. Use whatever strikes your fancy! I’ve been adding mint flavor extract to my mug lately, making a liquified Thin Mint type drink. You don’t miss those transfat-laden cookies at all when you’re sippin’ on this mug of heaven.

I like to eat the frothy cap with a spoon first.
sugar-free-hot-cocoa


Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

Serves 1

Ingredients:
2 squares (.7 ounces) 85% cacao content chocolate
2 teaspoons good tasting cocoa powder
4 ounces of coconut milk
2-3 ounces piping hot water
Combination of sugar-free sweeteners, to taste
-1 tablespoon erythritol
-Pinch of NuNaturals Pure Stevia Extract

Splash of pure vanilla extract
1 fresh organic egg (optional)

Preparation:
Break up chocolate squares with your fingers, or chop into chunks. Add cocoa powder and pour in coconut milk. Microwave for 30-50 seconds, and stir coconut milk and chocolate together until chocolate has melted completely. Whisk egg lightly in a separate bowl. Transfer chocolate mixture to a blender. Add flavor extracts and sweeteners, and blend the mixture at low speed. With the blender running, add beaten egg and then piping hot water. Taste, and add more sweeteners or extract if necessary. Serve immediately–do not reheat.

~7-8 grams net carbs per mug

All gone!
low-carb-hot-chocolate

Low Carb Chocolate Pots De Creme

Calling all chocolate lovers! You will think you’ve died and gone to heaven with this one. After testing out a few batches of Super Simple Biscuits, I had a lot of leftover egg yolks. Eight of them went into a traditional custard-based ice cream. To use up the rest, I googled “egg yolk dessert recipes” and found these yummy sounding ideas at GourmetSleuth. The Pots De Creme looked intriguing. Simple ingredients, check. Easy to de-carb, check. What really caught my eye was the variation using chocolate! After giving a test batch to my faithful friends slash recipe testers, it has become my most requested dessert. I promise that it only sounds intimidating with that fancy french name–preparation is a snap. This is one of the easiest and most delicious sugar-free, gluten-free desserts, ever. Step one for being the Hostess with the Mostest: Buy some adorable ramekins and serve up personal portions of this rich chocolate custard. Step two: Watch your guests’ eyes roll back in their heads and silently congratulate yourself!

Cut the intensity of the dark chocolate with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. You can make this dessert dairy-free by replacing the heavy cream with full fat coconut milk. To flavor the custard, use whatever flavoring you think pairs well with chocolate. I used pure almond extract for the pots de creme pictured here. Peppermint and orange would also be delicious. Top with a sprig of mint or a curl of orange zest for an elegant touch. I grated some leftover chocolate and sprinkled it over the custard. C’est magnifique!

Chocolate Pots De Creme
Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe

Makes 3 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup organic heavy cream OR coconut milk
**2 ounces 85% percent cacao dark chocolate (I like Lindt and Green & Black’s), chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (use whatever flavor you like) OR espresso powder
3 large organic egg yolks
5 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
pinch of sea salt

**Cut the chocolate bar into thirds and use of two of them. Just eyeball it.

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 3 ramekins in a large roasting pan. Combine cream, chocolate, and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk every few minutes until chocolate melts. Stir to blend cream and chocolate completely. Do NOT overheat! You don’t want it to bubble up.

Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or magic bullet. Whisk erythritol and stevia into egg yolks until mixture is smooth. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Stir the mixture until totally smooth and divide between the 3 ramekins. Optional step: Use a toothpick to pop the little bubbles that form on the surface of the custards. Heat a measuring cup full of water for a couple of minutes in the microwave, and pour water in the roasting pan until it reaches about an inch up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes. The centers of the custards should still be very jiggly. Remove ramekins from water bath (wear potholders!). Let the custards cool to room temperature. Store them in the fridge covered with a paper towel and foil for at least 2 hours. I’d recommend making these before you go to bed so you don’t get antsy and sneak a taste before they’re ready!

~5g net carbs per huge serving

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