These are not your typical granola bars. What’s so special about ‘em? Look closely…
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.
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.
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…
School’s out for the summer, and I’m back in the kitchen. So happy to have a break from coursework, and time to create another low carb recipe! Here in Florida, the summer heat has me craving cool, creamy desserts and icy treats to enjoy. Enter a healthy version of the official dessert of the state of Florida: Key Lime Pie!
This is not your momma’s key lime pie…
…or at least if my mother made key lime pie (she grew up in North Dakota), it wouldn’t be like this! There are no egg yolks or sweetened condensed milk to be found in this version. With all of the tart, sweet flavor and none of the sugar, this low carb key lime pie will remind you of the slices you’ve enjoyed in Florida seafood restaurants. The pie has a slightly different texture than the original, though, with its airy, almost mousse-like filling. I can promise you that you won’t miss the sweetened condensed milk after tasting this pie. Feel free to serve it liberally with whipped cream. We can indulge in that healthy saturated fat on a low carb eating plan!
I think you’ll really like this super easy crust. It’s worth making the pie just for the crust alone!
Coconut flour is so much fun to play with! It’s so much easier to measure out versus grinding up almonds each time I want to bake. Get some and I promise you’ll be hooked on the richness of this gluten-free, low carb “flour.”
Interjection to share some science nerdiness. Check out this study on LDL in heart attack patients. Who knew that lower LDL is associated with increased mortality? And more of the low LDL patients were diabetic. Curious, very curious…
Remember these brownies? They’re delicious when undercooked, but turn cakey and dry if you leave them in the oven a minute too long. I know how annoying it is to waste these expensive natural ingredients on recipes full of fail, so I am sorry if you have been caused grief by moisture-sucking overcooked brownies. This new and improved version of sugar-free low carb coconut flour brownies is MUCH less temperamental, and pretty much foolproof in terms of the baking time. Thanks to Buffy at Low Carb Friends for bringing this inspiring recipe to my attention! These brownies are not gooey or chewy, but fudgy and dense. They’re more milk chocolate than most chocolate treats I’ve made, which is refreshing. If you enjoy these brownies as much as my roommates do, you’ll want to stockpile coconut flour for many more batches!
A note about ingredients: Use the highest quality pastured butter you can find for optimal results. I bought a bunch of Kerrygold butter on sale, and have found that it lends such a pleasant buttery taste to everything I use it in. So worth the not-on-sale price! I’ll be using Kerrygold in the recipes you see here from now on. When baking with no sugar and no flour, it’s recommended to use the best of the ingredients we CAN work with! Also, for those of you who don’t use erythritol, I’m pretty sure these brownies would work with 1/4 cup raw honey and 3/4 teaspoon of stevia. This will add 68 grams net carbs to the recipe, making each brownie about 9.5 grams net carbs. Be aware that with the honey/stevia combo, they won’t be as sweet as traditional brownies.
Remember to keep your mitts off of these for a full night in the fridge. I don’t know why, but it seems that baked goods made with coconut flour take a full night to “settle” into their full decadent yumminess. Just make up a batch, toss ‘em in the freezer, and go to bed. Or watch SVU reruns on USA all night. Or read Good Calories, Bad Calories under the covers. Just do something to avoid cutting into this chocolately goodness until it achieves its full potential!
Then wake up and grab yourself a delicious and nutritious sugar-free low carb brownie. For breakfast. You know you want to!
Healthy Coconut Flour Brownies
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks salted organic butter (3/4 cup), softened
OR 1 stick butter, 8 ounces sour cream (for more moist brownies)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup sifted Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour
3/4 cup erythritol or xylitol OR 1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract (increase to 1 teaspoon if using honey)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush both sides of an 8″ by 8″ (or 11″ by 7″ for thinner brownies) pan with coconut oil, or spray with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray. Place a cut square of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.
Beat softened cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in butter, vanilla, and sweetener. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add eggs one at a time to cream cheese mixture, and beat until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and heavy cream. Fold in nuts. Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pan, and smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes for the wider pan, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top feels firm to the touch. When done, place pan on wire rack and cool completely. Cool pan of brownies overnight in the refrigerator. Slice into 12-16 squares, and serve. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, or freeze cut brownies, individual wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil.
~4g net carbs per 1/12th of a recipe
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.
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!
Pink Pom No-Bake Cheesecake
Adapted from a recipe at AllRecipes.com
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)
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
2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon erythritol
pinch of xanthan gum
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.
~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
This is my submission to Kimi’s Nourishing Sweets and Treats event at her wonderful blog, The Nourishing Gourmet.
Exams are over and I’m back in Florida, where the mood is festive despite the 80 degree beach weather. I’ve planned a bit of Christmas baking for you guys, so stay tuned! In addition to attempting to make over classic holiday treats like chocolates and gingerbread cookies, I’ll be mixing it up with a few original healthful creations that will hopefully tantalize your tastebuds just as much as familiar favorites. Once you get the hang of working with almond flour and alternative sweeteners, non-traditional baking gets a lot easier. Make these upcoming weeks, filled with office parties and decadent meals, nourishing for your soul and your body, with good friends and healthful food.
This first recipe calls for a bit of honey as a sweetener, which works so well with stevia to achieve the perfect flavor in these gluten-free, low carb Honey Nut Cookies. These cookies are also, incidentally, egg-free! I’m still waiting for my erythritol to get here, and thought it would be good to share some recipes that don’t involve it. Erythritol is all natural and delicious, but it is so expensive that in these hard times, it’s nice to have a more reasonably priced healthy option. If I am using honey, I make sure to use as little as is necessary to sweeten adequately, and just count the carbs. If you’re worried about the fructose content, just know that per serving, you’re probably not ingesting enough to worry about. I feel much safer using a bit of honey and blackstrap molasses here and there than artificial sweeteners. It’s a personal decision!
In the pioneering footsteps (hah!) of Ree Drummond, I’m doing a step-by-step photo spread for making these cookies. They are so simple that this tutorial really isn’t necessary, but my sister and I had fun killing time this first afternoon back home, bumming around the house for the holidays!
Let’s make some cookies, shall we?
First things first: We need to make almond flour, the star ingredient in a low carb healthy baking arsenal. It’s so flippin’ easy.
Tutorial: How To Make Homemade Almond Flour
Chewy Honey Nut Cookies
Makes eight to twelve cookies
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey (raw, if you can get it)
4 packets or 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/16 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.
Chop pecans, and toast them for 12 minutes. Melt butter. Stir together all ingredients except almond flour and pecans. Mix in almond flour until a smooth dough forms, then fold in nuts until dispersed throughout dough. Shape into flat cookie rounds on parchment paper. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges. Let cookies cool and harden for a full 10 minutes before removing from parchment.
~6g net carbs per 1/8 of a recipe, 4.5g net carbs per 1/10th, and 3.5g net carbs per 1/12th
This will be my last post for awhile. I’ll be heading back to university this Monday and having an actual life!
When a good little low-carber wants something to snack on, she usually reaches for string cheese, sliced veggies, or a spoonful (or five, in my case) of peanut butter. Packaged diet bars and cookies just won’t do. They fail to satisfy the hunger like whole foods. Scary artificial sweeteners and the polyols that accompany them have very unpleasant side effects. Abstain from the “M” word–MALTITOL–if you have a social life and want to keep it. On top of that, a chewy, dry bar encased in a chocolate vegetable oil coating is a big disappointment to the natural food adapted palette. What’s a hungry health foodie to do?
A brilliant gal named Elana came up with a fancy shmancy version of coconut bark, chock full of nuts and seeds, slathered with a blanket of rich chocolate to make your snack time extra special. Spoil yourself rotten with these babies when you can’t look at another cold cut or celery stick. The coconut oil makes them a bit crunchy, tickling your corn chip- and pretzel-deprived taste buds. I cut down on the sugar, de-carbed the chocolate coating, and punched up the flavor with a little twist on the preparation. The testers absolutely flipped for the toasted pecan version. I’d recommend starting there and then following wherever your culinary imagination takes you! There are no hard and fast rules with this wonderfully versatile recipe.
One trick to maximize the lovely flavors of these natural ingredients: Toasting, my friend! Don’t be afraid of somehow “destroying the nutrients” in the nuts. Roasting the nuts can actually improve digestibility. I like to think that our tongue is so well designed that it knows what’s best for us, in the same way that it regulates sodium intake. These bars are even more fabulous with the aromatic, slightly smoky flavor that toasting imparts to the nuts and coconut, so don’t skip this step!
~To toast the ingredients, spread nuts and coconut flakes around a small pan. Pop ‘em in the toaster oven and toast for one cycle on medium heat, watching closely to prevent excess browning of the coconut flakes. You might have to stir them around the pan mid-cycle.
~I buy unhulled sesame seeds for the highest calcium content. Get them at the bulk bin or refrigerated section of your local health food store.
~Non-hydrogenated palm oil based shortening is sold under two names, to my knowledge–Spectrum Organic shortening and Jungle brand shortening.
~I get my nuts, seeds, honey and almond butter from the bulk bin section at the health food store. You can buy as much or as little as you want that way. Just be sure to sample the almond butter for freshness.
~Peanut butter is the cheapest option, but almond butter lends a more neutral flavor. Make your own macadamia nut butter with a magic bullet or powerful food processor. Heat the nuts in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and blend. Macadamia nuts contain enough natural oil to turn into a smooth paste after enough pulsing and scraping.
~If you buy roasted pistachios, rinse the salt off under a colander, pat them dry, and toast them for one cycle under medium heat to crisp the pistachios back up.
~For the 85% chocolate, I alternate between Lindt, Ghirardelli, and Green & Black’s organic. Use whatever brand you prefer–the carb counts are similar.
~DON’T heat the flax seeds or hemp seeds. You want to keep those precious omega-3s intact!
The following is my absolute favorite version. It smells like a Samoa cookie, no joke!
Crunchy No-Bake Snack Bars
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup golden flax meal (could also use sesame seed meal)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond butter (could also use peanut or mac nut butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of raw honey
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon of pure stevia extract (NuNaturals brand!)
Easy Chocolate Ganache Topping
4 squares of 85% cacao chocolate
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening (could also use more coconut oil or organic unsalted butter)
1 tablespoon erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon organic heavy cream (or full fat coconut milk)
For Snack Bars:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Toast coconut and nuts in a dry pan over medium-low heat or the toaster oven, until slightly browned. Pulse nut and seed mixture in a food processor just until nuts are chopped. Melt coconut oil and nut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla extract, honey, erythritol, stevia, and sea salt, stirring until incorporating. Fold into nut mixture. Press into an 8 by 4 pan with a spatula. Quick set in the freezer for 20 minutes. Cut into 6 bars. Store in the refrigerator, covered with a paper towel and plastic wrap.
For Ganache Topping:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Melt shortening and chocolate in microwave in for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in cream, erythritol, and stevia, until mixture is completely blended. Spread over cooled bars immediately.
~4.35 grams net carbs per 1/6 of a recipe
Check out that funky green color! It’s from all the pistachios and pepitas. The flavor is pretty phenomenal, too. Very pistachio-y.
Pepita Pistachio Variation (a.k.a. REPTAR BARS, RAWRR!)
1/2 cup pistachios, roasted
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons pepitas, toasted
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (could use more pepitas)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (could also use golden flax seeds)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup macadamia nut butter (could also use almond butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon raw honey
1/8-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
Follow the steps listed above.
~6 grams net carbs per 1/6 of a recipe