Posts Tagged ‘xanthan gum’

Homemade, Healthier Pop Tarts! A sugar-free and scrumptious low carb version of the breakfast treat.

If you haven’t heard yet, the E-Cookbook is up for sale! It’s $5.99 and stuffed full of printable recipes and sugar-free baking tips n’ tricks. To everyone who’s already gotten a copy: Thank you SO much for supporting my experiments in the kitchen! The Kindle and Ipad versions are in the works. You asked, and I shall deliver! Like my Facebook page and follow my Pinterest board for updates.

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Healthier Pop Tarts! Say what?!

It’s the breakfast I used to fantasize about as a little kid, walking hand-in-hand with my mom in the grocery store. She would always lovingly shoo me away from the sugary cereals and snacks, so these pre-packaged frosted hand pies were a rare treat for me.

Until college. Then, anything was game! Ever heard of the freshman 15 30? Yeah, that totally happened to me. Pop Tarts helped make it happen. That’s why I decided to give a Healthy Indulgences make over to Kellogg’s best selling junk food-for-breakfast product. My low carb version of the iconic pastry is gluten-free, no sugar added, and equally yummy!

Sugar-Free Homemade Pop Tarts
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Announcing an E-COOKBOOK (!!!) and Instant Ice Cream and Hot Fudge Sauce for Sugar-Free Sundaes!

UPDATE: The giveaway winner for the Bento lunchbox is commenter #55, Suzie. Thanks for participating in the giveaway, everyone!

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Pictured below is my instant strawberry ice cream with rich homemade hot fudge sauce that’s low carb and sugar-free. Both the ice cream and hot fudge can be made paleo, dairy-free, and vegan. You’ll be able to recreate allergen friendly sundaes that are every bit as yummy as those sundaes you’ve enjoyed at ice cream parlors. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the recipes…

low-carb-hot-fudge-sundae-final
With the end of summer comes the beginning-of-school-year scramble! New pens and pencils and binders are carefully arranged in book bags, and text books are purchased begrudgingly by students (hint: Amazon and half.com are your friends). Wardrobes and hairdos and parking permits are revitalized and renewed!


As for me, I’m still stuck in summer mode. Sure, I have my schedule for courses set, my books ordered, and the prospects of new faces and intellectual discovery (shout-out to all my nerds out there!) getting my mind a’buzzing with possibilities. It’s an exciting time, every semester, you know? It’s the thrilling feeling of anticipation that comes with new beginnings, with novelty, with plunging headlong into the unknown.

It all sounds a little dramatic, you say? Well, I have to keep myself excited during my extended undergraduate education, hah! To all you people who knew what you wanted to do with your lives when you were 18 – “congratulations and you suck,” in the immortal words of Marina Keegan, God rest her beautiful soul.

That same feeling—that sense of anticipation—is the one I’ve been getting for the past four years blogging, constantly revising recipes in my messy test kitchen, trying this plate, that camera angle for food photoshoots, and opening my email inbox to new questions that pose new challenges to navigate in the kitchen. The wonderful people (that means YOU) who have given me tips and left helpful comments on the site and Facebook page are the other, more important, reason I’ve kept blogging. Thanks to your encouraging words and donations this website lives on!

After receiving numerous questions from you about sugar-free baking and substitutions, I decided to work on tidying up all the information on this blog into one project. The culmination of this summer’s efforts is the Healthy Indulgences e-cookbook! It’s finally ready, and will be posted for sale on the redesigned website on Monday, August 19th is posted for sale here!

Healthy Chocolate Whoopie Pies are here! Sugar-free, gluten-free, and finger-lickin’ good.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Healthy Indulgences readers! School’s out and baking season is here. After a semester of new beginnings during which I moved back home to Florida and started my post-baccalaureate coursework, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and go on a baking spree. I’m trading in my calculator for my camera and ditching the library for the kitchen these next few weeks, bringing you holiday sweets and a couple of GIVEAWAYS!

Update: The lemon curd post and Gary Taubes summaries are on hold until the new year. We have many seasonal goodies to make over! Stay tuned…
To kickstart the baking bonanza, here are some sugar-free, gluten-free Healthy Whoopie Pies to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Gluten-Free Low Carb Whoopie Pies!

They’re all the rage, and perfect for an easy, kid-friendly holiday dessert. My version of these cakey cookie sandwiches with a sweet buttercream filling tastes every bit as good as the traditional dessert chock full of flour, sugar, and shortening! Made with ground almonds, a little oat flour, pure unsweetened cocoa powder, and natural sweeteners, you can feel good about indulging in these treats after your holiday feast. Actually, they’re wonderful any time of the year. In fact, you should make these right now. You need fuel to get through all that gift-wrapping and baking, right?!

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Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + the Comprehensive Alternative Sweeteners Information Post!

As promised, here’s my printable guide and Question and Answer post for baking with sugar-free sweeteners! Thank you for submitting your sugar-free baking questions through Facebook and email.

Download the printable chart at the following link:

Sugar-Free Baking Cheat Sheet

Sugar-Free Baking Tips Chart

I created this sugar-free baking tips sheet with reminders of how you use sugar-free natural sweeteners and a couple of widely available low carb artificial sweeteners. Feel free to post this chart on your own website, or link back to the chart as a reference. The more people who have access to information explaining how to use these healthy sweeteners, the better! I’ll update the body of this post (not the comments) with answers as more questions come in. You are welcome to provide your own feedback and answers to questions in the comments. I’d love to hear about your experiences with sugar-free baking, and any information you might have to add!  Hopefully we can all collaborate to make this a helpful post for both fledgling and veteran sugar-free bakers.

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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.

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.