Featured Recipes

Easy Low Carb Gluten-Free Biscuits

What’s the fun part of going to Red Lobster? How do you get the gravy mopped off of your plate in a satisfying yet dignified manner? What’s better than toast as a carrier for fruity jam? The answer to all of these important questions comes in the form of the fluffy, moist, and positively addictive biscuit. I always associate them with memories of volleyball tournament weekends and team breakfasts at Cracker Barrel. Soft white biscuits with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey were a meal all by themselves for my former carboholic self. Baking powder biscuits are made with a pretty standard technique and recipe, consisting of all purpose flour, baking powder, and some sort of fat cut into the flour. It’s not that simple, though. You have to handle the dough tenderly, working it just to the point where it comes together without aiding gluten formation, which acts to toughen it. You have to consider the protein content of the flour you’re using along with the way you cut out the biscuits (press, not twist!) so as to ensure flakiness. Shockingly, it’s much easier to make gluten-free nutrient dense biscuits. For once, we health nuts have an easier time of making a baked good! Let’s celebrate with some good eats, shall we?

You may be wondering at this point how such a feat is possible. Biscuits with no flour and no fancy shmancy natural ingredients to imitate gluten? How can this be? It’s all in the egg whites, my friend. They are the solution to all of your problems. They fluff, they puff, they create airy little clouds with just a little coaxing and some hot steamy lovin’ from the oven. Egg whites are all protein, zero carbs, 20 calories a pop. Fortunately, egg whites happen to play nicely with almonds, another hero of the low carb bakingverse. Finely ground blanched almonds have very little nutty taste and yield a light, moist texture to these easy peasy biscuits.

Finally, we introduce the fat to the party in the form of butter or shortening. Not just ANY shortening mind you! Trans-fat free shortening made from organic palm oil will fluff up your pastries without shortening (hah!) your lifespan. It has a higher melting point than butter, allowing the protein structure of the egg whites to puff up more around the fat before it melts away. Butter for flavor, shortening for texture is the rule. That rule doesn’t totally apply here since almonds already have a nice flavoring and fat component, unlike the processed “enriched” garbage that is white flour. When I was testing batches, I noticed that butter allowed for more browning on the tops. The flavor was comparable when the biscuits made from both fats were tasted side by side. If you want a better rise, it’s worth the special trip to your local health food store to find Spectrum Organic Palm Oil Shortening. That’s the only kind I’ve ever seen around here. It’s priced comparably to organic butter, so you have no excuse for not trying it out!

These little guys were baked in foil-lined ramekins. They came out the perfect size and shape!

The technique for these biscuits is simple. All you need is a fork and couple of bowls. Follow these simple steps to biscuit perfection!

1. Cut cold fat (butter or shortening) into dry ingredients with the tines of your fork, rotating the bowl around with your other hand until the mixture has pea-sized chunks throughout. You could also use a pastry blender, in which case you probably don’t need to read these instructions.

2. Optional: Chill mixture in the fridge for 5-10 minutes or as long as you can stand it. The longer the better. The more the fat can get cold and hard, the puffier your biscuits will be. Remember that!

3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites (using the shell halves to tip the yolk back and forth a few times). Reserve yolks (save all that creamy goodness for ice cream or homemade mayo!) and whisk egg whites with a fork in a bowl for 20 seconds, until no longer stringy and gloopy. You just want ’em a little foamy.

4. Remove mixture from fridge and whisk in the egg whites for a couple of seconds, breaking up any massive chunks in the dough with your whisk or fork. It’ll be an extremely runny dough with chunks of the almond mixture.

5. Drop biscuits in 4 mounds on to a cookie sheet. For puffier biscuits, pour batter into greased foil-lined ramekins/nonstick muffin cups/a muffin top pan and get that sucker in the hot oven before the fat can even THINK about softening!

The plain version is just lovely all by itself, hot out of the oven or toasted with homemade strawberry preserves. A teeny drizzle of honey whipped into butter would be a heavenly spread. I had to eat a few fresh biscuits to make sure they were as good as my tastebuds were telling me. You, too, might feel compelled to eat more than one, so beware!

**UPDATE (10/10/2013): A new version of these biscuits has been posted that’s even easier to make, and more delicious! Find the new recipe here.**

Fluffy Biscuits
Adapted from this recipe by Laura Dolson

Makes four biscuits

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted organic butter or nonhydrogenated shortening
1 cup plus two tablespoons of finely ground almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
4 egg whites (see comments for results using 2 egg whites)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

See numbered steps listed above! IF YOU ARE USING FOIL-LINED RAMEKINS, bake for 15 minutes. IF YOU ARE USING A MUFFIN TOP PAN, bake for 12 minutes. The edges of these biscuits stick really badly, so be sure to grease liberally whatever vessel you’re using to bake these. Some sort of non-stick pan works best here! Silicone muffin cups are great, too. Greased foil-lined ramekins are alright, but you have to gently tease the muffins out of the foil.

~243 calories, 4 grams net carbs per biscuit

Try some of these variations just for fun. These little guys are versatile, so play around with them and share your flavor combos with me, please!

A plain biscuit with homemade sugar-free strawberry jam, a cheddar garlic biscuit, and a sweet cinnamon biscuit hangin’ out.
Easy Drop Biscuits (Low Carb, Gluten-Free)

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

One basic biscuit recipe
4-8 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Add most of the cheese and all of the garlic powder to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and chill dough. Whisk in egg whites and fill ramekins. Top with a bit of the reserved cheese. Bake as directed.

Parmesan Herb Biscuits

One basic biscuit recipe
4-8 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried italian herb blend

Add most of the cheese and all of the herbs to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and chill dough. Whisk in egg whites and fill ramekins. Top with a bit of the reserved cheese. Bake as directed.

Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits

For Dough:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons sweetener (I used erythritol)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

For Cinnamon Swirl:
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses or honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon erythritol (powdered in your coffee grinder)
2 teaspoons water
pinch of xanthan gum (optional, for thickening)
pinch of sea salt

Add vanilla and sweeteners to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and chill dough. Melt butter and molasses together in a microwave safe dish for 15-20 seconds, until butter is melted. Stir in stevia, erythritol, water, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Heat mixture in microwave for another 15 seconds or so until erythritol is dissolved. Pop the filling into the fridge and let it cool until it thickens a bit. Whisk egg whites into flour mixture and fill ramekins. Dollop cinnamon filling on top of the dough in a swirl and bake as directed.

The Taste of Summer, pt. 2– Sugar-Free Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

This time of year, I like to cool off with my treats. My new Cuisinart ice cream maker has been running constantly lately. To mix things up and take a break from the brain freeze, I decided to try something new. Cheesecake is the ultimate cool, creamy indulgence that’s naturally low in carbs. There are tons of variations and different recipes out there for this classic dessert. I’ve never made it, though. The idea of using a whole pound of cream cheese, a giant round pan, and a water bath was always intimidating. It just sounds hard, worrying about cracks in the top and achieving the right consistency and whatnot. Though I’ve never experienced intense cravings for this particular food, cheesecake seemed like the perfect excuse to use up a CostCo-sized tub of blueberries sitting in my fruit bin.

Blueberry cheesecake called my name! It’s rather simple to de-carb cheescake–you simply remove the sugar. Erythritol (see the bold term for info) works like a charm for “wet” applications like cheesecake, so you don’t have to worry about using any special ingredients to offset its menthol-like “cooling” effect. Stevia rounds out the sweetness of these incredibly creamy bars. This sour-cream based cheesecake recipe posted in its original form here is a real winner. Thanks to BawdyWench for her simple, delicious recipe!

Even if you’re not a “cheesecake person,” you should definitely give this recipe a try. It takes minutes to whip up, and doesn’t have that thick, gummy mouthfeel elicited by a ton of cream cheese. The blueberries burst in your mouth as you bite through the silky base and nontraditional but oh-so-delicious gluten-free shortbread crust (check oats for gf label!). Get your brain-boosting antioxidants in for the day with these fresh blueberries. Studies show that blueberry consumption positively affects your memory. These delicious summer fruits are naturally low in carbs, so eat up! The batch of cheesecake bars from yesterday is almost gone. Some serious nibbling has been happening. I don’t blame the cheesecake bandit–it was love at first bite with these babies!

Creamy Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from this recipe by BawdyWench

Makes eight servings

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust:
3/4 cup finely ground almonds
2 tablespoons sifted oat flour (check for gluten-free certification if necessary)
1 tablespoon erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling:
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup organic sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons erythritol
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
8 ounces cream cheese (1 package), softened
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together dry ingredients for crust. Mix in melted butter and press into the bottom of a foiled lined 8 by 5 loaf pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Let crust cool.

Turn oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blend together eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and sweeteners. Beat cream cheese and melted butter together until smooth, then add to first ingredients and beat until just combined and smooth. Stir in half of the blueberries. Pour cheesecake batter into loaf pan and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries over the filling. Bake for 35 minutes using the water bath method (see this post). Remove from oven and let the cheesecake bars cool completely, still submerged within the water bath. Remove the loaf pan from the water bath and move it to the refrigerator when the bars have cooled to room temperature. Cover with a layer of paper towels and plastic wrap. Refrigerate for four hours or until firm. Don’t sneak a bite until they have set up properly and attained the perfect creamy consistency!

~6 grams net carbs per serving

Cuts like a hot knife through buttah!

Ooey, Gooey and Gluten-Free: Brownies, Baby!

 

On certain very special Saturday mornings when I was growing up, a sweet aroma would tickle my nose, gently nudging me out of bed and into the kitchen. It was the smell of freshly baked brownies, cooling on the stove top in their 8 by 8 tin pan. It was my number one favorite treat when I was growing up–dense, fudgy (never cakey!) squares that fell apart in your napkin when you scooped ’em out of the hot pan. My mom always made the standard recipe out of the red checkered Homes and Gardens cookbook, never using a packaged mix or fancy toppings. The beauty was in the simplicity of these unadorned and positively addictive chocolate treats. They never lasted long around our house, although I do remember peeling back saran wrap and gnawing on cold brownie bits from the freezer. Yu-umm.

My first attempts to adapt that treasured recipe failed. There was something not quite right about my sugar-free concoctions. I tried tweaking the Homes and Gardens recipe by replacing the flour with various flour blends, and the sugar with erythritol. I would end up with shapeless goo or dry, flat blocks that were light and airy–decidedly unbrownie like. The standard low carb brownie recipes made out of various combinations of almond meal, flax meal, and cream cheese always lacked a characteristic “heaviness” of the stick-to-your-ribs treats of my childhood.

Enter the hero of our story, coconut flour. If you haven’t heard of it, listen closely, because what I’m about to say will change your life. It’s just coconut meat with the fat pressed out, pulverized into a fine powder. Though it may look like all purpose flour (cue ominous music), this magical substance is so fragrant and alive compared to its refined evil twin. Get it here, or pay twice as much at your local health food store.

I always have to stick my nose in the bag and inhale before baking with coconut flour. Now coconut flour can be tricky to work with, so you must follow a tried and true recipe, or be stuck with a pan full of door stops. The moisture-sucking quality of coconut flour must be tamed with copious amounts of eggs. Once you get the hang of it, you will be turning out moist muffins and fudgy brownies that put my Mom’s old recipe to shame. Blasphemy, I know!

Coconut flour is low in carbohydrates and high in dietary fiber, which correlates with a lowered glycemic index for whatever you’re baking. Low-carb, sugar-free, and gluten-free, these brownies can be part of a wholesome breakfast… or maybe a midnight snack. 😉

These are ah-mazing. The center of the brownie pan is almost molten chocolate. I like to eat this part first, with a spoon. The edge pieces are firm, but moist. These brownies are a hit of pure chocolate to the brain–not the least bit coconut-ty, if you’re worried about that. They’re perfectly sweet with a subtle hint of caramel flavor from the molasses. They’re so incredibly rich that one serving should be enough, with all of the healthful natural saturated fat these brownies contain. Make a small pan if you are feeling emotional, ladies.

UPDATE, 5.2.09: This recipe for coconut flour brownies is MUCH more reliable, and even more delicious!

Homemade Low Carb Gluten-free Wraps: You can do it too!

If you haven’t seen the news or read the paper lately, check out how we low-carbers have finally been vindicated! They’ll come around eventually and acknowledge the importance of natural saturated fats, but this is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the Atkins craze will start up again and more people can experience the joys of healthy living!

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Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

Have you ever tried to fulfill a craving for Mexican food with one of those store bought low carb tortillas? They certainly look like their high carb starchy cousins. They may even smell like them. Then reality hits as you take a bite and chew the bland lump of oat fiber and soy protein held together by cornstarch. It goes down as a gummy lump in your throat. “That wasn’t so bad, but I could’ve spent those carbs on something better… like peanut butter. Or mashed faux-tatoes. Or…” At least that’s how my thought process works. Frankenfood tortillas feel like low carb “junk” food with little nutritional value and a lot of unnecessary additions to my diet. When do we ever need to be ingesting wheat flour or soy oil on this lifestyle? What about sodium metabisulfate, microcrystalline cellulose and dicalcium phosphate? That mouth full (no pun intended) of ingredients doesn’t sound yummy to me, either.

If you want a fresh-tasting, nourishing tortilla or wrap substitute that you can make at home, look no further. This gluten-free low carb creation was inspired by this recipe at Gluten-Free Gobsmacked (not low carb, but still wonderful!). Gluten-free (GF) recipes can give you helpful hints for how to hold together your low carb flourless doughs. Sadly, GF flour blends are made up of all kinds of starches and grains, making them even higher in carbs than all purpose flour! Poor celiac low-carbers. Fortunately some of the same binding tricks can be applied to our beloved nut meals and seed flours.

Unadulterated wraps, fresh from the oven, full of promise!

Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

You should be able to find all of the ingredients for these wraps at your local health food store. When I first figured out what specialty ingredients were necessary for re-creating most of my favorite high carb treats, I bit the bullet and made quite a few initial investments. Some of these essential cooking/baking ingredients are used in such small amounts that I don’t have to buy them often. They include the following:

Xanthan/Guar Gum – Vegetable fibers grown on micro-organisms or trees. Useful in very small amounts for thickening, gelling, acting like gluten, and lending a “creamy” mouth feel to cold items. I’ve only worked with xanthan gum, but they function similarly. Guar gum is cheaper, but can cause digestive “issues” and is harder to find.

Coconut Flour – Coconut meat pulverized into a fragrant creamy white powder. Acts similarly to protein powder by drying out baked goods. Requires many eggs in the batter to balance out its dryness. Lends a nice dense texture and heaviness to baked goods, perfect for brownies and carrot cake. Adds bulk and texture to no-bake recipes.

Pure Vanilla Extract – Alcoholic soaking liquid of a vanilla bean. Imparts lots of nice vanilla flavoring and aroma with close to no carbs. Check label for added corn syrup or agave.

Erythritol – A sugar alcohol naturally occurring in melons, corn, and other plants. Lightly sweetens, and adds textural properties of sugar. The only sugar alcohol with close to zero carbs and cals and NO unpleasant side effects! Has a “minty” taste if it’s not dissolved in water.

Pure Stevia Extract – High intensity sweetener extracted from a plant that can be bitter if you buy the wrong brand or use too much. Does not add textural properties or mouthfeel of sugar to recipes. Best tasting when combined with a sugar alcohol like erythritol. NuNaturals is the one and only brand I use.

Whey Protein Powder – Ultra-filtered bi-product of cheese making that is a natural source of all of the essential amino acids. Pulls moisture out of baked goods. Provides structure for pastries. Can be used in smoothies or shakes as a “creamy” base. Comes either plain or with added artificial sweeteners.

Blackstrap Molasses
– The dark liquid bi-product of processing the sugar cane plant. A little bit of this unrefined sweetener goes a long way! It has only 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon, and most recipes don’t even need that much to benefit from its strong flavor. Has a brown sugar-like taste with a distinct smokiness to it. Blackstrap molasses is rich in iron–not totally stripped of nutrients like other forms of sugar.

Oat Flour – Not super low in carbs, but can be used in small amounts to lend the textural properties of all purpose flour. It’s gluten-free (check for certification) and indispensable to make baked goods resembling anything close to their high carb counterparts. Nut meals stuck together with butter do not a cookie make. Low carb pastries usually need a little bit of a grain product in order to resemble foods previously made with 100% refined grains!

So that’s what you’ll find if you go snooping through my pantry on any given day. Every week, I go on a shopping trip to restock the perishable ingredients I use in larger amounts. Those include the following:

Nuts, Seeds, and Nut/Seed Meals – Of principle importance in so many low-carb dessert recipes. Nut “flours” can be purchased pre-bagged like almond or flax meal, whereas others you must grind yourself. It’s much more cost efficient to do the “processing” at home with a good food processor or magic bullet blender. I make my own flax and sesame flours with my magic bullet. These add bulk and texture to low carb baked goods, and can be used as “breading.”

Nut and Seed Butters – Again, you can make these yourself, but it’s much easier to buy them in jars. I like peanut butter (but you already knew that!), almond butter, and sunflower seed butter. They lend creaminess, flavor, and heaviness to anything from salad dressing to sweet fillings to baked goods. My favorite application of these: jar to forefinger to mouth.

Heavy Cream – Self explanatory. It’s low in carbs and makes anything delicious.

Coconut Milk – Non-dairy cream or milk substitute with a hint of coconut flavoring. Thickness and amount of additives varies by brand. Look for high quality pure coconut milk products like those made by Thai Kitchen. You can make your own if you have a lot of time on your hands.

Cream Cheese – Add bulk and moisture to baked goods. Great in smoothies, on scrambled eggs, flavored and spread on veggies and sandwiches. A panacea of the low-carb cooking realm.

Butter – The second darling of low carb cooking. Make like Paula Deen and use butter to your heart’s content (your heart will thank you!). Adds bulk, mouth feel, and flavor. Also adds a ton of calories, so watch it if you’re maintaining or close to goal weight.

Coconut Oil/Non-hydrogenated Shortening – Dairy free butter alternatives that each have special properties. They both become very firm under cold temperatures. Perfect for low carb hard shell topping, which is reason enough to buy them! Shortening is ideal for cookies that don’t spread, and for thinning out extra dark chocolate. Coconut oil produces more moist baked goods and tasty refrigerated candies with a crisp “snap.”

That’s an incomplete list, but it’ll get you started cooking up dreamy replacements for your old favorite junk foods. Just a note: I don’t bake faux-junk food all the time. I don’t even make it often. I’ll make something when a craving hits, usually around a certain time of the month. After eating one (or two!) servings, I’ll store the treats away in the back of the freezer. Forcing yourself to have one serving of a treat every morning with breakfast will take the allure out of these “special” foods and make you crave the foods that should make up the bulk of your diet – high quality animal protein sources, natural fats, and fresh vegetables. You really can tire of sweet-tasting goodies. It’s possible. It happened to me.
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If you’ve been skipping down through the boring parts of the post, you can stop here.

Here is the much anticipated (by me) recipe for all natural low carb sandwich/tortilla wraps. This is a response to a request from a friend, and has been in the works for a month. After much trial and error, I’ve hit upon a solid formula. These wraps are pleasantly light in texture, but do not fall apart (yay!) and can be rolled for wrap sandwiches, baked into chips, fried for quesadillas, toasted for a thin cracker crust pizza. They can basically do everything except solve global warming. Please try them and make yourself a fat quesadilla stuffed to capacity with steak and jack cheese. You deserve it after all this cookin’!

Recipe Notes: You don’t need any special equipment for this recipe, but I found a trick to help with rolling out and unsticking the wraps. A silicone baking mat that I got at a discount store for $5 really makes the process easier. Parchment paper will absolutely NOT work, as it crinkles up from the moisture of the dough, producing a bumpy wrap “bottom” prone to tearing. To make your wraps pretty, use golden flax meal, almond flour, and oat flour. Regular flax and pecan flour produced the dark whole-grainy looking wraps. Both variations taste the same, so it all comes down to how much you’re bothered by ugly food.

A golden flax wrap, a pecan flax wrap, and an herb wrap, bonding.
Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

 

Healthier Gluten-Free Wraps/Tortillas

This nourishing tortilla or wrap substitute is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. One of these wraps makes a mean quesadilla!


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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
  2. 1 tablespoon sesame seed meal (Could sub more flax meal here)
  3. 2 tablespoons pecan or almond meal
  4. 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour*
  5. 1/2 teaspoon protein powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  7. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
  10. 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  11. 1 tablespoon coconut milk OR heavy cream
  12. 1/4 teaspoon honey OR blackstrap molasses
  13. 4 tablespoons warm water
  14. Herbs and spices, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Beat wet ingredients into dry ingredients vigorously with a mixer or whisk.
  5. Divide batter into two sticky masses.
  6. Drop in balls on to a greased cookie sheet or silicone baking mat.
  7. Press a piece of plastic wrap over dough balls.
  8. Flatten rounds with hand, and use a rolling pin over the plastic wrap until dough is 1/8 inch thickness. Peel off plastic wrap and smooth over any bubbles with fingertips.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.
  10. Let wraps rest on silicone mat until lukewarm to the touch, then carefully run a sharp spatula around the bottom to unstick.
  11. Let cool completely and store between sheets of paper towel in a plastic baggie on the countertop.
  12. If you over bake the wraps, there will be dry crispy spots on them. If you under bake them, they will be doughy on the inside. The key is the make sure the dough is spread evenly, with the thickness uniform throughout.
Notes
  1. *Oat or buckwheat flour work well in this recipe. For paleo wraps, you might be able to substitute tapioca or arrowroot starch.
Adapted from Gluten-Free Gobsmacked Blog
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

~4g net carbs per wrap

The best meal I’ve had in a long time: STEAK QUESADILLAS, BABY.
Gluten-Free, High Protein Wraps used as Quesadillas

Cheeeesy!
Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

My lunch today: Chicken bacon ranch wrap sandwich with red peppers, carrots, and garlic cream cheese spread
Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

Sugar-Free Low Carb Candy Bars… really.

This is my last recipe involving peanut butter for awhile, I swear! I’m finally tiring of the taste, which is a move in the right direction for me. The silky richness of nut butters can make it easy to consume them in excess! While nut butters are certainly healthier than processed junk food, they are very calorie dense, and laden with polyunsaturated oils.

If you too have peanut butter issues, or if you don’t like the taste (gasp!) use almond butter or sun butter in this recipe. Almond butter has higher proportion of monounsaturated fats, so some would consider it a more nourishing alternative to peanut butter. Admittedly, the real reason I’m not addicted to almond butter is the $12 a jar price tag!

This recipe was way too much fun to play around with, so I went a little crazy with the variations. The best part about it is the simple and readily available ingredients! You can use the microwave and get just one bowl dirty. If your mind hasn’t been blown yet, it will be when you find out this can be made dairy-free. Creamy unsweetened coconut milk is the magic maker for this trick. It will be a hint coconut-ty unless you use expeller-pressed coconut oil, but the texture will be just as dreamy.

These treats are smooth and peanut-buttery, with a salty crunch from the peanuts. They don’t really taste like Pay Day at all because they’re a hundred times better, and don’t stick to your teeth! These treats are named after those corn syrup-filled bars because of the similarity in appearances. Don’t be fooled.

Mock “PayDay” Peanut Treats
Inspired by this recipe by “Blenders”

Makes 6 bars


Ingredients:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (no-stir type preferred)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey (optional)
1 tablespoon heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons sweetener of choice (I use 2 Tablespoons of my stevia blend or Truvia)
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

Preparation:
Add peanut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener, xanthan gum (if using), and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Fold in peanuts and drop in globs on to a pan lined with wax paper. Chill in freezer until firm, then transfer to refrigerator.

~6g net carbs per treat

For Peanut Butter Dessert Topping, whisk extra cream or coconut milk into “Pay Day” treat mixture ingredients until the sauce is smooth and light in color. Use almond butter for the most neutral taste. This sauce is also delicious made dairy-free. If you use coconut milk in place of heavy cream, there will be a subtle coconut flavoring. The sauce will be just as creamy, though. This would be heavenly over low carb ice cream. You could also dip apples or strawberries into it!

Ditch the polysyllabic ingredients of pre-packaged bars with these easy homemade protein bars. No refrigeration required! This recipe is easy on your digestive system, with no harsh sugar alcohols (maltitol is truly evil!) or an ungodly amount of fiber. It’s also pocketbook friendly since the ingredients are pretty cheap. Start with a quality whey (not soy!) protein powder free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I like Jay Robb or Jarrow Formulas unflavored whey protein. These protein bars may look like cookies, and they may smell like cookies, but they are NOT peanut butter cookies! I have a recipe for those and will get around posting at some point. I repeat, these are not cookies. They are dry and chewy because of the high whey protein content, just like real protein bars. If you’re using stevia, remember to make the dough a bit sweeter than you want the baked product to be.

Just for fun, let’s have a look at the ingredients for an Atkins Advantage Chocolate Peanut Butter protein bar:
Ingredients: protein blend [soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen, whey protein isolate (milk), sodium caseinate], glycerine, polydextrose, dry roasted peanut, peanut flour, palm kernel and palm oil, cellulose, coconut oil, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), natural and artificial flavor, olive oil, butter oil, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, citric acid, sucralose, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, acesulfame potassium. nutrition blend: tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, magnesium oxide, vitamin a palmitate, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, alpha tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, biotin, calcium pantothenate, zinc oxide, folic acid, chromium chelate, phytonadione, sodium selenite. contains: soy, milk and peanuts.

I’ll admit to ingesting this frankenfood every once in awhile when I’m desperate for a sweet fix or on the road. It’s relieving to have a better option now!

Mock Protein/Atkins Bars

Makes four bars

Ingredients:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (any nut butter would work)
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter OR coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup whey protein powder (check for additives and carb content)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add nut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Stir in protein powder until mixture clumps together. Don’t worry if it separates and some of the liquid weeps out of the dough. Press mixture as flat as you can into a greased loaf pan. I like to place a piece of wax paper over the dough and press it flat with a smaller loaf pan. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan. The dough will absorb all of the liquid that has bubbled up. Slice with a sharp knife and store in baggies. Does not need to be refrigerated.

~5g net carbs and 29g protein per bar

Naked protein bars. Consume with gulps of water between bites.

Take your protein bars to the next level. Melt some 85% cacao content chocolate and sweeten it with stevia, to taste. Paint it across the bottoms of the protein bars with the small end of a spoon. Place chocolate side down on a chilled pan lined with wax paper. Make a recipe of the caramel sauce and spread it over the tops of the protein bars. Press sliced almonds into the caramel sauce. Paint chocolate over the tops and sides. Chill to firm up the chocolate. Place in a baggy for transport in your gym bag.

From drab to fab! I present to you mock Atkins bars, covered in dark chocolate and filled with caramel bars with a nice crunch from slivered almonds:

No preservatives or soy in that delicious bite.

Tribute to Peanut Butter, pt. 3– Low Carb Sesame Noodles and Buckeye Candies

sugar-free-paleo-peanut-healthy-chinese-food-recipe

It’s a toasty 92 degrees outside in southwest Florida, so I’m not in the mood to heat up the kitchen. Been digging cold foods lately. To fulfill this need, I bring you Tyler Florence’s Cold Sesame Noodles, with a few tweaks to make it diabetic-friendly and gluten-free, of course. It incorporates my obsession with peanut butter into a savory dish, and is a delicious way to get in your daily veggies. So what if you’re impatient like I am, and just can’t wait for whatever you’re cooking to cool down because it smells ridiculously good? Fear not my impulsive friend, because these flavorful noodles are amazing served hot as well. I enjoy them most after they’ve been chilling in the fridge, though. Gotta give time for the flavors to meld, baby!

To make over this dish, we gotta ditch the sugar and standard noodle varieties, which pack a carby punch. This feat is simpler than it sounds!

You can make zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) with this nifty spiral slicer and some zucchini or summer squash.

The alternative is a new product called shirataki noodles. They’re nothing short of miraculous! They contain only 2 grams net carbs per 8 ounce package if you can believe it! The only caveat is their chewiness, which I don’t mind, but a couple of my pasta-loving testers called it out. I guess when you haven’t had noodles in a year, you take what you can get!

Another note about this recipe is that it makes a ton of the peanut dressing, so I reserved about one third of it for later use. This sweet and spicy sauce would be delicious with some chicken or a crisp salad. It’s seriously good enough to drink.

sugar-free-low-carb-diabetic-chinese-food-noodles

Cold Sesame Noodles
Adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
2-8 oz packages of shirataki noodles, or 4 cups spiral sliced zucchini (2 large zucchinis)
1 carrot, julienned (optional)
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons unrefined peanut nut oil (any neutral-tasting cooking oil is fine)
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (or 1 dried ginger)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons sweetener of choice (I used 2 tablespoons erythritol and a pinch of stevia)
1/2 cup creamy all natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
6 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cucumber, julienned, for garnish
Peanuts, chopped, for garnish
Green onion, for garnish
Sea salt

Preparation:
If you are using shirataki noodles, empty out both packages into a colander. Rinse for 1-2 minutes, until there is no lingering fishy smell. Line colander in paper towel and mix a few big pinches of sea salt in with the noodles, stirring them around to coat. Drain for 30 minutes. Rinse again and dry well. Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Stir noodles around skillet for a couple of minutes, until they start to release some moisture. Transfer noodles to a plate or a bowl.

If you are using zucchini, use a spiral slicer to julienne into noodles.  Salt zucchini liberally, then transfer to a paper towel-lined colander. Let sit for 30 minutes to draw some of the moisture from it. Rinse well and gently squeeze dry with a paper towel. Heat sesame oil in skillet over medium low heat. Add zucchini and carrots to skillet and stir it all around for 1-2 minutes, until heated through and a bit more tender. Just barely cook the veggies. You don’t want them soft and mushy! Transfer to a plate or bowl.

Mince up ginger, green onions, and garlic cloves. Whisk sweeteners, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water together until sweeteners are dissolved and a smooth sauce is formed. In a skillet, heat the macadamia nut oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced mixture along with the red pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes, or until fragrant and softened. Add peanut sauce to skillet and cook for one minute. Add noodles or zucchini to pan, and remove pan from the heat. Stir well to coat, adding half the sesame seeds if desired. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later use. Garnish with the rest of the sesame seeds, julienned cucumber, red pepper flakes, and chopped peanuts if desired.

Using 2/3 of the sauce—
With shirataki- 5.5g net carbs each for 4 servings
With zucchini- 7g net carbs for 4 servings

Using all of the sauce—
With shiritaki- 9g net carbs each for 4 servings
With zucchini- 10g net carbs each for 4 servings

A peanut butter-y main course must be followed up with an equally peanut butter-y dessert! Any Ohio State fans out there? I never realized that Buckeyes were associated with anything other than Christmas until Google enlightened me. Whatever these addictive candies mean to you, they rock, with a smooth and sweet peanut butter filling coated in rich chocolate. To replace the copious amounts of powdered sugar in the traditional recipe, I used a couple of surprising ingredients–ricotta cheese and coconut flour. I promise they don’t taste like cheese or coconuts. They’re basically a party in your mouth. Make a small batch if you like PB as much as I do!

**Updated recipe for Buckeyes HERE!**

So I had to sample a few before the photo. Had to make sure the recipe was just right!

Chomp!

Fourth of July Fun: Gluten-Free Low Carb Chocolate Cupcakes

I was in a celebratory kind of mood after class today, so I whipped up something indulgent for Independence Day!

We had been discussing fourth of July plans in my lab group, and I was thinking about what kind of dishes we’d have at the table this year. This time last year, I wouldn’t have given the issue a second thought. I wasn’t a reformed carboholic at that time. Thinking back, I’m having visions of potato salad and oh, those Lofthouse cookies. Now the thought of how sickly sweet those bland disks of white flour and sugar were is making my mouth pucker.

It’s funny how much your taste buds change after giving up processed food. After taste-testing the fruit puree for this dish, I had to gulp down my sparkling water because of the sweet taste coating my tongue. Even natural sugars are sometimes too intense for this steak salad lovin’ palate. Methinks this is a good thing, if considerably less exciting in how it limits my exploration of the bounty that processed food companies have to offer. No cute snacks to nosh on, exempting what I cook up myself, which basically entails cheese sticks and zucchini slices with salsa. Too lazy to put effort into snack food. It’s hard enough finding time to makeover the good stuff, the piece de resistance of the meal, the apex of the dining experience… dessert!

Bring these festive sugar- and gluten-free chocolate cupcakes to your fourth of July picnic, and be good to your friends and family. Or just save yourself the expense (Let’s be real–the weird natural ingredients add up!) and partake in one of these rich, dark chocolate treats before you’re surrounded by Ruffle chips, baked beans, and American flag sheet cake. One you’ve had your sweet fix, you can thoroughly enjoy your bunless burger and first and foremost, the good company. That’s what living well is all about, huh? It’s not having to worry about feeling uncomfortable from what simply fuels our bodies.

Witness explosions of tangy berry goodness.


Fudgey Firework Cupcakes

adapted from this recipe by Linda Sue

Yields 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup organic butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sweetener equivalent
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use all three of the following:
-1/2 cup erythritol or xylitol
-1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
5 organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups plus two tablespoons nut meal (almond, pecan, etc.)
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (optional, to reduce crumbliness)
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
4 squares 85% cacao chocolate (Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie is my new favorite)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soften butter and cream cheese in the microwave in 10 second intervals. Cream butter and cream cheese along with sweeteners until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate. Add eggs one at a time, beating continuously. Stir together nut flour, baking powder, sea salt, gum, and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 2 steps, incorporating thoroughly after each time. Finally, beat in melted chocolate (use microwave and 15 second intervals). Grease muffin tins or silicone cups with non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening or butter. Mound batter just up to the tops of the tins, because it will rise and settle back down to the original level. Bake for 20 minutes, and remove cupcakes from the pan in their liners as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Let cupcakes cool individually on a wire rack for 20 minutes and store in an airtight container just as the cupcakes are lukewarm to the touch. You want to keep them moist, as erythritol doesn’t hold water in the baked good like sugar does. If you refrigerate the cupcakes, warm ’em up in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to get them soft again. Best consumed fresh, like anything made with all natural ingredients!

Tips:
~I used pecan meal because it’s more reasonably priced, but almond meal or any other finely ground nut would work just as well.
~Use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa to give your cupcakes that super chocolatey taste you remember from when you were a kid!
~Use 1/2 teaspoon stevia if you want them to be as sweet as traditional chocolate cupcakes. I don’t like anything that sweet any more and use 1/4 teaspoon stevia.
~Remember to look for SUGAR-FREE vanilla extract! Many products have added sugar.

I used my Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting recipe with pure raspberry and blueberry puree. You might add some organic blue food coloring to the blueberry puree to make the color scheme truly patriotic! If you have extra puree, save it to flavor some Almost Instant Ice Cream or sweeten your morning cup of Fage yogurt.

Cowering in terror, waiting for the chocoholic to come back for more…

Berry Puree

Makes lots of puree!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic raspberries or blueberries
stevia, to taste
Pinch of xanthan or guar gum (optional)

Preparation:
Microwave berries until soft and heated through. Blend until liquified. Add a pinch of veggie gum and stir well. Let puree rest for a few minutes to let it thicken. Spoon into a ziptop bag and snip a tiny piece off one of the corners. Pipe puree onto cupcakes.

Sweet and Sugar-free Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

To make use of the gorgeous produce we have readily available right now, I decided to make something I hadn’t really even liked in my carb-addicted dark past. Lemon bars had never really appealed to me, probably because they don’t involve chocolate. And yet they just sounded really good the other day for some reason, with their refreshing tartness and shortbread crust. The recipe is well-suited to a healthful makeover because of the low carb content of eggs and lemons, so I just couldn’t resist trying a batch. After demolishing a trial batch along with my faithful testers, it’s safe to say these gluten-free low carb lemon bars are just as church picnic worthy as their high carb counterparts!

In all their tangy, swirled glory…

As far as the technical baking stuff goes, you do need erythritol if you want to add bulk and lessen the carb count per bar, not to mention the nice rounded sweetness from combining it with the stevia. It also adds a nice crunchiness when it crystallizes, but no overwhelming cooling effect. However, if you refrigerate these bars, you’ll want to pop ’em in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to warm them up for the best mouth feel. Furthermore, you can use a product like ThickenThin Not Sugar (or pure acacia gum) to lessen the amount of recrystallization if you want a smoother texture. You can forgo the erythritol altogether, but you’ll have to use a lot of stevia or just accept a less sweet finished product. Finally, the xanthan gum takes the place of flour in the original recipe to firm up the top of the bars. You could probably use a bit of coconut flour for a similar effect.

Health-wise, these bars are a delicious vehicle for the goodness of raspberries and lemons, which are bursting with vitamin C and cancer-fighting compounds. In lemon, the limonins have the free radical scavenging cytotoxic effects. In red raspberries, ellagitannins may block carcinogens and ward off sickness. Both raspberries and lemons are low in carbs, which makes them perfect candidates for a after-dinner treat or a pre-workout snack. I sip at stevia-sweetened lemonade all day, which is supposed to aid in the absorption of the catechins (antioxidants) in my green tea. I’ll drink to that!

Healthy Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

Makes eight bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread crust:

1/4 cup butter
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-1 tablespoon erythritol or xylitol
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons almond meal
1/4 cup oat or buckwheat flour (oat flour is a lot prettier!)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum

Filling:
2 large cage-free organic eggs
1/2 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract (NuNaturals brand)
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Raspberry Swirl:
1/2 cup organic raspberries
1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
1 teaspoon erythritol
Fresh raspberries for garnish

Preparation:
Soften butter for shortbread. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or blender. Cream butter and erythritol together, then work in flours and gums with a fork until thoroughly combined. Add a pinch of salt and stevia. You want it to be a bit sweeter from the stevia than you can stand it, because some of the stevia’s sweetness breaks down under heat. Press or spread into an 8″ by 4″ loaf pan lined with buttered parchment. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Let crust cool while you prepare the filling. Stick it in the freezer to speed the process.

Powder erythritol. Beat erythritol with eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Add gums. Add a pinch of sea salt and stevia to taste. Pour over shortbread crust.

Puree raspberries with lemon juice and erythritol. Strain through a mesh colander, pushing the puree through with a spatula, if you don’t want seeds in your bars. Drop raspberry puree onto lemon filling in different spots and swirl with the spatula. Dot batter with fresh raspberries if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. I left the center of mine slightly jiggly, and it firmed up after cooling.

~3.75g net carbs per bar!

(Almost) Instant Low Carb Ice Cream

After making many batches of my ice cream bars, I got sick of the peanut butter flavor and wanted something more creamy and spoonable for my fix. More traditional. Ice cream is still my first love in terms of treats. Nothing can replace the milky cold sweetness of it, and during summer time the feelings of longing are the strongest. Fortunately, I can’t remember the last time I caved to the craving and stopped at a DQ for a blizzard. And if you have this quick and dirty ice cream sitting in your freezer, you won’t have to think twice about it. It’s thick and creamy, just like you remember. And the best part? No fancy machinery required!

This sugar-free, all natural ice cream made with luxuriously thick ricotta cheese will give you 50% of your RDA of calcium per half cup serving, and contains 4 measly carbs. Use your favorite minimally processed cocoa powder for an antioxidant boost. I’ll admit to using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa for that Wendy’s frosty chocolate flavoring, but the non-Dutched stuff is best for the preservation of nutrients.

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes two servings


Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta cheese (part skim or whole milk)
1 fresh organic egg yolk (Egg Beaters if you’re afraid of salmonella)
Tiny splash of pure vanilla extract
Sweeteners, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-2-3 tablespoons erythritol (get it here and here) or xylitol
Pure stevia extract
Pinch of xanthan/guar gum (optional, for a creamier texture)

Jamocha Almond Flavoring:
2-3 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
sliced almonds
85% cacao chocolate, grated

Mint Chocolate Chip Variation:

a few drops of pure peppermint extract
85% cacao chocolate, grated

Preparation:
Blend ricotta, egg yolk, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, sweeteners, xanthan gum, and other flavorings together in a blender or food processor until totally smooth. Stir in nuts and chocolate shavings if desired. Pour into plastic tub with a lid and freeze for an hour, stirring well every 20 minutes to break up the ice so it freezes properly. Serve as soon as it’s frozen enough to be scoopable. If you decide not to eat it immediately, let it sit out for 10 minutes when you remove it from the freezer before serving.

~5g net carbs per serving!

Topped with hard shell topping, fresh whipped cream, and slivered almonds. Best lunch EVER.


Hard Shell Topping


Makes two servings

Ingredients:
1 square Lindt 85% cacao bar (I’m loving Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie lately)
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or non-hydrogenated palm shortening
1/2 teaspoon heavy cream or coconut milk
sweeteners, to taste (I use NuNaturals stevia)

Preparation:
Nuke chocolate and coconut oil together, stirring at 20 seconds intervals until smooth. Stir in cream and sweeteners, tasting and adjusting if necessary.

Digging in…

Give it a try! If you have a flavor idea, let me know about it and we can work on re-creating it.

The taste of summer– Creamsicle Cupcakes

First things first: I am still working on the perfect sugar-free gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe. I tested a fourth batch today, but it was a bit crumbly. The flavor is spot on, though. They’ve come a long way from the hockey pucks I was making when I first started this journey a year ago. Re-creating processed foods out of all natural ingredients takes some trial and error, but it is so worth it when you get it right. For me, anyway. Sticking to a whole foods plan can get monotonous if you don’t mix things up! Interestingly enough, I eat pretty much the same thing every day except when a specific craving hits me. I think we all have a routine that we stick to, food-wise. My biology professor said we do 99% of our actions without thinking. That other one percent of the time I spend in my kitchen, with a full sink of dirty dishes as evidence!

Do you remember creamsicles? They’re still around, and they even make ’em sugar-free for us health-conscious folk. Unfortunately, the pre-packaged treats are laden with sugar alcohols (the scary kind with unpleasant side effects) and artificial sweeteners, so I stick to one mini creamsicle a couple times a week. They make up the only Splenda intake in my diet, so I think my brain is safe from whatever as yet unknown side effects the sucralose molecule is inflicting on us. We are all human guinea pigs with this stuff!

Back to creamsicles. The pairing of vanilla and orange is so fragrant and complementary, with the tang of the citrus balancing out the cloying sweetness that vanilla can impart. These moist, dense cupcakes showcase the full spectrum of the fruit’s bright flavor, containing one whole orange pureed in the batter. The health benefits of oranges are concentrated in the peel, which contain prebiotic oligosaccharides which promote intestinal health. With 13 grams effective carbs per orange, you can eat 1/2 at a time as a healthy snack. Furthermore, the flavonoids have been shown to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. Psh, like you need more reasons to try these cupcakes.

Top the cream cheese frosting with fruit puree to imitate the old-fashioned ice cream bar, or just drop a dollop on top with some zest.

Healthy Creamsicle Cupcakes
adapted from this recipe by Martha Rose Shulman

Makes 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups almond meal, ground fine
6 eggs
Sweetener, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-1 cup erythritol or xylitol
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 medium thin-skinned organic oranges (yielding 1 1/4 cups fruit puree)
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:

Wash oranges well and boil for 20 minutes in a microwave safe dish with a cover until fork tender. Wait until oranges are cooled, then slice them (but do NOT peel them) into sections and remove seeds. Puree in food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 and 1/4 cups of the puree and reserve the rest for a glaze to go with the cream cheese icing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Beat eggs and sugar substitute until batter is thick and golden. Beat in vanilla extract. Stir in fruit puree, almond meal, baking powder, and sea salt. Pour into buttered silicone muffin cups, paper tins (filled at least 3/4 way full), or a bundt pan and bake for 40 minutes or until slightly browned. Do NOT overbake. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Place in tupperware container with a lid when the cupcakes are lukewarm to the touch.

~2.5 grams net carbs per cupcake!

Orange Glaze

Ingredients:
reserved orange puree
lemon juice
sweeteners, to taste
-powdered erythritol
-stevia

Preparation:
Stir lemon juice into orange puree until soupy. Add sweeteners to taste. Spread or drizzle on top of cream cheese icing.

And now for the best part. I had to swat my friend’s finger out of the bowl numerous times (but I let her lick the spatula). 🙂

Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes more than enough cream cheese for twelve cupcakes

Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese
5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
sweetener, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:

-1 or 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol or xylitol
-stevia, to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:
Bring butter to room temperature by leaving out on the counter for 20 minutes or nuking for 10 seconds. Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract together until Smooth. Add sweeteners to taste. Spread on cooled cupcakes or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for later use. Just bring to room temperature and beat until creamy before use.

My batch made fresh this morning is mysteriously almost gone!

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