Archive of ‘Holiday and Seasonal’ category

Healthy Carrot Cake with decadent Cream Cheese Frosting

Why have I made carrot cake over ten times in the past three days? To come up with a Healthy Carrot Cake that’s low in carbohydrates and gluten-free for you! This fragrant and flavorful cake is also dairy-free and nut-free, if you omit the classic add in of chopped walnuts. I promise you won’t miss the raisins in this nourishing carrot cake that’s not just healthy “because it has vegetables in it!” 😉 The other bad stuff–those culprits named Sugar and Flour–are conspicuously left out of this recipe. All of that grating was totally worth it.

There is a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses–which is technically a sugar–in this recipe. It’s a thick, dark iron-rich syrup made from the sugarcane plant. This molasses is potent stuff, and contributes a rich flavor and coloring to the cake. You can leave molasses out to be completely sugar-free, but I think it’s worth the 4 grams of carbs.

You can bake the cake into a traditional rectangular loaf, or snack-sized mini muffins. Get creative and have fun with your sugar-free frosting! It pipes well, using a zip top bag with the corner snipped off.
Healthy Carrot Cake - Low Carb and Gluten-Free

A bit of food coloring can transform your homemade low carb treats into festive, eye-catching confections worthy of special occasions. Check the food coloring label for hidden sugar before you buy. I made the mistake of not checking the label of the Wilton gel coloring I used here, and saw it contained corn syrup, much to my dismay! That pesky Sugar manages to sneak in everywhere, doesn’t it? McCormick food colors, found in most grocery stores, are sugar-free. I’ve tried a couple of organic dyes, and unfortunately neither of them yielded satisfactory results. You need so little coloring for an entire batch of frosting that I’m not too worried about the health effects. If you have any recommendations for natural food dye, let us know in the comments, please.

The frosting is absolutely delicious any color you make it. It’s a new and improved Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting, with a special low carb ingredient that might be familiar to the Asian and Indian readers of this blog… 

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Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes…

At last, I am posting the recipe that goes with the photo you see below! Apologies for the delay. Am enjoying the last days of Spring Break. The Floridian in me is pretty excited about it (hint: it’s a well-loved pie!), too.

Regarding comments, I’m sorry to say I cannot keep up with them for the time being. I am merely a student, with my top priorities being school work and other activities on campus. Please do not hesitate to email me. Go ahead and shoot me another one if I miss your first email! I will be creating a separate email account shortly just to respond to blog comments and questions, since they are currently mixed in with my school/work/personal emails. Thank you for your understanding.


At any rate, I hope you will give these easy, tasty cheesecakes a try. You can add what ever berry you like, or perhaps get creative and drop other goodies into the unbaked filling (low carb chocolate chips? sugar-free cookie chunks?!). The gluten-free nut crust could be tweaked with finely ground dried coconut flakes and perhaps a bit of buckwheat flour to make it nut-free for those allergic, but I will leave the experimentation up to you this time!


By the way, these cheesecakes were an entry for a contest sponsored by a sugar-free retailer that occurred ages ago. I have since tested the recipe multiple times, and the results have been met with “winning” ratings by my testers, although these tasty bites did not garner accolades in the official contest. The official contest winners were, incidentally, not low carb dishes. Doesn’t the low-glycemic crowd need love too? 😉

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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.

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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

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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
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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!

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

Healthy Pink Pomegranate No-Bake Cheesecake

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

caketop

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

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

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

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

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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.

cakeslice6

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

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

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. 🙂

Dairy-Free Indulgences: Vanilla Almond Pots De Creme

I hope everyone had a memorable Christmas, full of healthy goodies and good times with the family! Who else did not feel miserable and overly full after yesterday’s feast? With nourishing food, it’s so much easier to feel satisfied with proper portions!

And now… free stuff, yay! I used Raffle King to pick a random commenter.

The winner of the erythritol/xylitol sampler is Rachel C.

The two winners of the Lindt and Green & Black’s chocolate packages are Julie and fit lil fiddle.

The winner of the Godiva chocolate bar is ikkinlala.

Email me your addresses and I’ll get those prizes out within the next couple of days! Thank you to everyone who participated. I love hearing feedback from you all!
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dairyfreepotsdecreme

Here’s an easy, delicious tweak to my Pots De Creme recipe for all you dairy-free folks. It’s just as creamy as the chocolate version, but it is less heavy and a bit sweeter. Using erythritol as the sweetener causes a nice crust to be formed on top of the chilled custard, reminiscent of creme bruelee! As for flavor, the almond extract is really good in this, so don’t skip it! The original recipe calls for vanilla beans, so use those if you like. One of these days I’ll get around to ordering some bean pods off of ebay. Using the scrapings of the pod would add pretty dark flecks!

Make this impressive dessert for a New Year’s gathering with a few good friends. No one will have any idea that these are low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free treats as they’re cleaning out the ramekin with a spoon. Or hog it all for yourself and have a blissful six pots-de-creme-filled days. They look like so much more work than they are, no?

Vanilla Almond Pots De Creme (Dairy-Free)
Adapted from a recipe at GourmetSleuth

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups full fat coconut milk
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil or nonhydrogenated shortening (may or may not be necessary)
1/16-1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Measure out two cups of coconut milk from the can. If you don’t have enough milk, drop in chunks of coconut oil (or pour in liquid oil) until you have two cups of coconut milk/oil. I had to do this because the can didn’t contain the full two cups of coconut milk.

Heat 1 3/4 cup of coconut milk (or coconut milk/oil mixture) over medium low heat. Whisk egg yolks for a minute or two until they are a bit thick. Whisk in sugar, salt, and the reserved 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Stream hot coconut milk into egg yolk mixture very slowly, whisking the whole time. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Strain the mixture into a measuring cup if desired (I didn’t do this). Place six pots de creme cups in a large deep pan. Divide mixture amongst the cups. Pour enough warm water in pan to come up the sides of the cups half way. Cover the pan with foil (I didn’t do this, either). Bake for 45-55 minutes (mine took 50), or until still jiggly in the center but set around the edges. Lay a paper towel over the tops of the serving cups and chill for 2-4 hours until serving. Store individual servings wrapped in a paper towel and plastic wrap.

~3.5g net carbs per serving

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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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

Kid-Friendly Indulgences: Healthier Gingerbread Cookies

This is my entry to Eat Christmas Cookies, an event sponsored by FoodBlogga! Check out all of the drool-worthy recipes there.
Healthier Gingerbread Cookies (Paleo, Low Carb)
Get the little ones into the kitchen with these easy-peasy healthy gingerbread cookies, dolled up with colorful sugar-free cream cheese frosting! These classic Christmas cookies are adapted from my versatile recipe for Honey Nut Cookies. The only changes are the addition of blackstrap molasses and lots of yummy spices to impart that distinct gingerbread flavor to these gluten-free, egg-free, low carb cookies! The texture is chewy and crispy all at once. They’re a bit different from traditional gingerbread, but just as delicious and fun to decorate.

A word about the food coloring: Don’t try to make it “all natural” by using the organic food coloring you see at the health food store. With good intentions, I bought some natural blue food coloring on sale for $3.99 (yow!). It’s made from “pure blueberry extract,” so I thought it sounded like it would be a healthier substitute for the artificial stuff. It dyed my cream cheese frosting a lovely brownish purple hue. If you want to go the natural route, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gingerbread Santa and Rudolph, poking his nose in
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt.3

Simple Nourishing Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 25 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters

Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter or nonhydrogenated shortening (for dairy-free)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter and mix with honey, molasses, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients. Dough will be soft and sticky. Cut out two long pieces of parchment paper. Roll dough to 1/8th of an inch thickness (or thinner) sandwiched in between pieces of parchment paper. Peel off top sheet of parchment and flip dough from bottom sheet to the top sheet so that dough has been peeled off of both sheets of parchment, ensuring that it will be easier to transfer to cookie sheet. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and peel away bits of dough around cut outs, or flip cut outs onto cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 18 minutes. Let cool completely for about 10 minutes or so before moving to a work surface. Decorate with piped cream cheese frosting and bits of chopped raisins and dried apricots.

Simple Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese or neufatchel cheese
1/4 cup of erythritol, powdered
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Drops of food coloring

Leave cream cheese at room temperature for 30 minutes. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. Beat together cream cheese, vanilla, and erythritol for 1 to 2 minutes, or until very smooth and erythritol has mostly dissolved. Mix in stevia starting with 1/16 of a teaspoon, taste, and adjust sweetness level if necessary. Spoon frosting into separate bowls, and beat in drops of food coloring, wiping off the beaters after each color has been mixed. Transfer colored frosting into zip top bags and snip off the corners. Use immediately.

Poor gingerbread lady. 🙁 She was too yummy for her own good!
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt. 2

~1.6g net carbs per 1/25th of the cookie recipe

~13g carbs for the whole batch of frosting

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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