Chocolate ‘cheesecake’ with white chocolate spheres

After looking at what seemed like a thousand recipes (okay maybe not that many), I decided to cross some of those ideas, add my favorite flavor (chocolate…drool…) and make a “cheesecake”! I have been waiting quite a while to take this particular challenge on, as, what is a cheesecake after all without dairy!! But, I must say, my first try scored 9 out of 10 from my foodie man, so this is definitely a repeat recipe 🙂

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VEGAN – GLUTEN FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

Makes one small 4 inch wide cake.

Crust

1/4 cup of raw almonds (or raw pistachios, I just didn’t have any but that would have been even better)

1/8 cup of desiccated coconut

3 dates

Top layer

3/4 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight)

2 + 1/2 tbsp glucose syrup

2 + 1/2 tbsp cacao /cocoa

1/8 cup full-fat coconut milk

2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

White chocolate spheres

Please see a new and improved white chocolate recipe here.

Directions:

Grease a 4 inch spring form with coconut other oil so it will come out easily later (this is equivalent to 2 regular sized cheesecake slices – If you want to make a bigger size quadruple the ingredients).

Then, chuck the almonds, dates (remove pits) and desiccated coconut in a food processor and run it until the texture is crumbly but it stick together firmly when you squeeze it (see photo below in the middle). Press down firmly in the bottom of the spring form.

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Now, get all your ingredients for the top layer, except for the coconut oil, and process until smooth, then add the oil whilst processing and continue until it doesn’t get any smoother (remember, you want that creamy cheesecake feeling!).

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Layer half of the filling on top of the crust in the spring form. Then make 4 spherical hollows (or any shape you like) and pour in the white chocolate (keep in mind that it will turn hard when it sets and give you a nice crunch to it – if you rather want it more smooth add a little canola oil to the white chocolate). Then layer the last filling on top, swirl and pop in the freezer for a couple of hours to set. Now you can carefully take off the form and store in the fridge (or eat!). Enjoy.

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Delicious banana cake

*** Scroll to the bottom for the full sized cake ingredients***

I had a vegan friend visiting a couple of days ago and wanted to make something nice we could have for a snack. I didn’t really fancy baking a whole cake so instead I just made two individual small cakes in small spring-form pans. I converted a banana cake recipe from Delicieux, which is a favorite of mine, to bake with dextrose to make it free of processed fructose and swapped hens’ eggs for flax seed ‘eggs’. The vegan versions did sink a little bit in the middle, but the taste was still as delicious as usual. Actually, I made 3 batches the same day to get it right. The first one, I have to admit, didn’t sink a ‘little’. It rose beautifully and then sank in the middle all the way to the bottom! But, as they say, practice makes champions.

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VEGAN – GLUTEN FREE – DAIRY FREE – EGG FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE

Ingredients:

Approx 2-3 tbsp whole flax seeds + 6 tbsp water (or 2 eggs)

1 ripe banana

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp soda bicarbonate

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 nutmeg

80 grams of ground almonds

70 grams of dextrose (glucose) powder

Directions:

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Preheat the oven at 180C (355F) and grease 2 springforms (10 x 5 cm / 4 x 2 “).

Make the flax seed eggs by measuring off the whole flax seed (around 4 spoonfuls – this is an esitamate as it depends on how finely you grind the seed). Grind or process the seeds as finely as you can. Then measure up 2 tbsp ground flax seed and add it to a small bowl with the water. Stir thoroughly and the pop in the fridge to set into a gooey mix for at least 15 min while you measure of all the rest of the ingredients (don’t skip this step).

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Measure up the remaining ingredients into a bowl and then add your flax seed egg (or hens eggs). Give it a good stir and then pour into your two spring forms. Pop them in the oven and make a little tent of foil to cover with (make sure you make room for the cakes to rise or they will stick to the foil). Bake for 1 hour (will differ from oven to oven).

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When the time is up take out the cakes and leave for a couple of minutes to cool, then carefully pop the springforms open, put them aside and leave the cakes on the bottom plates to cool completely. Then serve as it is or with your favorite toppings. I am slightly addicted to chocolate peanut butter spread at the moment or you could add fresh homemade Nutella (add a bit of peanut oil and mix to make it runnier if you wish).

If you want to make a full sized cake, use the following ingredients and the same directions as above:

4 tbsp of whole flax seeds + 12 tbsp water (or 6 eggs)

3 ripe bananas

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 nutmeg

250 grams of ground almonds

220 grams of dextrose (glucose) powder.

If you would like to see more recipes like this you can always follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

Homemade Nutella

First, apologies for the week-long absence! My computer crashed, then I thought I would get it back yesterday, but it turns out that is impossible to resurrect it 😦 So, I now have a brand new computer to blog from!

I had a request for my healthy copy-cat Nutella recipe – so here it is (shop-bought Nutella is crammed full of sugar and 20% oil, this recipe only has 2 table spoons of oil + what is in your chocolate). Please note that this is not dairy or sugar free, but it IS palm oil free and gluten free as long as the chocolate is. Please see further below for a “free-from” chocolate spread.

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GLUTEN FREE – EGG FREE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

1 cup of hazelnuts
250 grams (8.8 ounces) of milk chocolate
2 table spoons of an oil that doesn’t solidify at room temperature, e.g canola oil

In terms of chocolate, I made mine with Whittaker’s Creamy Milk which is perfect, but I think mainly sold in New Zealand (Whittaker’s is a very popular brand here). However, if you can’t get this, aim for a milk chocolate which is (like Whittaker’s Creamy milk) around 33% cocoa solids, 30% milk solids, pure cocoa butter and no added vegetable fats (let me know if you find another brand that tastes just like Nutella in the final recipe).

Directions:
Heat oven to 175C (350F).

Place hazelnuts in one layer on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 8-12 minutes. When the skins start to crack, take them out and let them cool down. If you haven’t roasted hazelnuts before you will notice a beautiful aroma spreading in your kitchen…. Like Nutella! It’s the roast hazelnuts that give it that unique flavour.

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While the nuts cool down melt the chocolate at low heat over a water bath, stir continuously (don’t let it get too hot, don’t let the water touch the chocolate bowl or it will burn and the chocolate will be ruined). When all lumps are nearly melted, take the bowl off the water bath. Let it cool for 10-20 min, or however long it takes, before it’s room temperature.

Place the hazelnuts in a tea towel or similar and rub until most the skins come off. Flatten the tea towel and run a flat hand over them to separate the nuts from the skins. Put the nuts in a food processor and combine until smooth (or keep crunchy if you like the texture, I know I do!). Then add the oil and your melted chocolate when it’s ready and process for another couple of minutes until its as smooth as you desire. If you want it completely smooth, strain it though a cloth (I skip this step as I don’t mind).

Transfer to a jar and you can munch away on your own home made Nutella 🙂

The all-you -can-eat chocolate spread

Right, so here comes my first attempt at a sugar, dairy, gluten and palm oil free version. Disclaimer! This does not taste exactly as the real deal, more like a dark chocolate version of Nutella. However, as I pondered how to alter my attempt to get closer to the Nutella taste, I found myself having a spoonful…. Then another spoonful and soon I had devoured about a third of the jar! Well luckily it is not specifically unhealthy haha… So, whilst I keep trying to find the perfect free-from “tastes-like-Nutella” recipe (and keep test-tasting), here is a super delicious, smooth and creamy dark chocolate hazelnut spread.

VEGAN – GLUTEN FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:
1 cup of hazelnuts

80g cacao (or high quality cocoa)

4 tbsp coconut oil

100g cocoa butter, cut into inch size pieces

3/4 cup water

100g dextrose

Directions:

Process the cacao and 2 tbsp melted coconut oil until smooth. Transfer chocolate paste to a separate container. Add the cocoa butter to the food processor and mix until you have a grainy texture, it doesn’t matter if there are a couple of bigger pieces.

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Pour the water into a bowl over a water bath. Add the chocolate paste and the cocoa butter to the water. Mix with a fork (it will be lumpy). Warm up slowly over low-medium heat until it is a completely smooth liquid, set bowl aside to cool while do do the next part.

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Now, process the roasted hazelnuts until as smooth as possible.

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Add 2 tbsp melted coconut oil to the hazelnut paste and process until smooth. Then add the chocolate liquid and process again. If you want it completely smooth, strain it though a cloth (I skip this step as I don’t mind).

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Then, all you have to do is pour it into a jar and try not to eat it all straight away!

If you would like to see more recipes like this you can always follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

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Fructose free “Heinz” ketchup!

I admit to the hideous crime of having covered vast amounts of my food in the past in ketchup…. (which contains 30% sugar!). I blame it on my sugar addiction though. And possibly a little bit on not having time to cook proper food – after-all, ketchup can make most bad foods taste better haha…

So, anyways, since I quit fructose, I have been trying to make replacement recipes. My preferred brand has always been Heinz and my other half’s has always been Watties. None of the first recipes were particularly successful, but then I stumbled across one on http://www.topsecretrecipes and thought I would have a bash at replacing the sugar in the recipe which turned out perfect!!! I actually ended up with a product that we both liked by using a Wattie’s tomato paste for the “Heinz” recipe – success!!! This recipe does have a tiny amount of fructose, see comment at the bottom.

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VEGAN – GLUTEN FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

One 6-ounce (170 ml) can tomato paste or puree – although, I have made a version with a 10 ounce (285 ml) can too. Less sugar and still tastes awesome! (I use Wattie’s Tomato Puree)
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) dextrose (glucose) powder
1/2 cup (120 ml) white vinegar
1/4 cup water (60 ml)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

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Combine all ingredients in a medium pot on medium heat and stir well. When it starts to boil, immeadiately reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring often. Remove the pot from the heat and cool down. Transfer to your desired container and store in the fridge.

By the way,  this recipe does have a bit of fructose in it (tomatoes naturally have fructose but only around 1%. Puree is concentrated however, even still, each 30 ml portion of this recipe has less than 1 gram. Keeping me well under my 15 gram per day goal.

How to use Xanthan gum in gluten-free baking

Although I am a recent ex-sugarholic, I have been experimenting with gluten-free and dairy free baking for the last 6’ish years as I’m intolerant.

So, what have I learned so far? That normal wheat flour largely consists of 12-14% gluten, that gluten has an elastic toughness that holds its shape during baking. It also acts as a thickener, adds texture, absorbs moisture and lends flavor to the baking. So, baking without gluten could reduce your lovely bread, cake or muffins to crumbles as soon as you touch it! Baking gluten-free goods requires a lot more precision that ‘regular’ baking – 1 tsp too much or too little might make your recipe a horror rather than a delight. If you are following a recipe, it should be to the letter (so if it fails the first time, try again and be more accurate – also pay attention to the differences in measurements between countries – the metric cup is used for example in Canada, Australia and New Zealand while the UK uses imperial measurements largely). If you are creating your own recipes, it’s all about trial an error and doing some research. But, then, it’s a whole new world of baking deliciousness that opens up to you!

This is where Xanthan gum enters the picture. Xanthan gum acts in many ways like gluten and keeps your recipe from falling apart and can imitate the spring in bread and light fluffy recipes. It is made by fermenting corn sugar with a natural strain of bacteria that in the end creates a white powder. No research has found it to be bad for your health, only good (although I have found mentions of caution in ingesting over 15 grams per day – so unless you scoff down all your baking yourself you are fine ;)).

So, how much do you use in your baking? If you use too little, your recipe might crumble. If you use too much and the texture might become heavy, slimy and very dense. So, as a rule of thumb, I would suggest using the following amounts:

Xanthan gum table

Just a note on allergies – if you are allergic to corn, you could swap straight over for Guar gum. This gum has the same properties as Xanthan gum but it’s made from legumes rather than corn (the amounts in the table above still applies).

Want to get some? Head to most big super market chains where you can find this in small containers in the baking aisle. If you are having trouble finding it (in some countries it’s a lot harder than others) you could always order from online US company iHerb. You can use my code DBL588 at the check-out if it’s your first time and you get up to US$10 off if you want. I order all my nuts, seeds, gluten-free oats, specialty flours, Xanthan gum etc from them as it’s about 10-30% cheaper than buying it in NZ, I can get everything organic and this even includes postage + I don’t have to chase through four different shops to get everything I need.

Quick weekday pork meatballs with raw carrot and pear salad

These meatballs are inspired by my Danish heritage (they are called ‘frikadeller’ and are normally flat) and take only 20 minutes of prep and 25 minutes of baking in the oven. Super easy on a weekdays when you don’t have time to cook for hours. Makes around 10-12 meatballs and enough salad for two.

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GLUTEN FREE – DAIRY FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

500 grams (1.1 lb/17.6 oz) pork mince

1 tsp peanut oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 small onion, chopped finely

1/4 cup of rolled oats (gluten-free)

Salt and pepper to your liking (I used ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper)

1 egg

Sauce:

2 cups (17 floz/415 ml) of  chicken stock

1 stock cube

4 tsp of corn flour

4 tsp of soy sauce (I haven’t tried it yet but you can substitute for coconut aminos which is super low in sodium and sugar – if not, just check that your soy sauce is not massively high in this – pays off to check brands)

Salad:

4 medium carrots

1 medium pear

½ small lemon

Directions:

Preheat the oven on 175C (350F).

Prepare the sauce by mixing the corn flour with a little bit of cold water. Then dissolve the stock cube in a bit of boiling hot water from a kettle and stir until completely dissolved. Now put all the ingredients in a pot, stir well. Turn the heat to medium and stir continuously until it thickens.  When it has the right consistency, take it off the heat (if it doesn’t get thick enough, mix some more corn flour and water separately, take the pot of the heat, let it cool down for 5 minutes, then mix in the extra corn flour mix, put back on the heat and stir again)

Now combine all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork or your hands (or if you want a finer consistency put it all in a food processor – I just like the rustic texture from hand chopping).

Shape the meatballs (approx 2 tbsp per ball) and place in a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Then pour over the meatballs and pop in the oven for 25 minutes (test one to see if the liquids run clear – if they do, they are ready).

While the meatballs cook boil your preferred rice.

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5 minutes before the meatballs are due to come out the oven you prepare the salad. Peel or wash your carrots. If you can get organic carrots that’s best, then all you need to do is just cut off the ends and scrub them to keep all the nutrients in the peel. The non-organic ones I always peel as the peel will also contain all the pesticides they are sprayed with. In this case I have organic pears but regular carrots.

Slice the pear in 4 pieces and de-core it. Then grate the carrots and pear and squeeze over the lemon (add more if you like it zingy). Combine gently and serve with the rice, meatballs and sauce.

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Chocolate peanut butter spread

PC spread

This evening I felt like something chocolatey in particular and more precisely, Nutella….. drool…   I created a palm oil free version last year (palm oil plantations are destroying most of the worlds pristine jungles and the animals in them, like tigers and orangutans – just so that we can buy cheaper products as this is a cheap oil).  And this recipe is glorious! Nobody I have served it too can tell the difference between that and Nutella (please ask me if you would like the recipe).

However, that recipe does have dairy and sugar in it, so, whilst I wait for my latest shipment (including cacao butter – I need this to make a good version) to arrive in the post I came up with this quick solution to pour over some muffins I made yesterday (muffin version of my pear and blueberry loaf). It doesn’t taste like Nutella but rather like peanut butter meets chocolate bar and gets a kiss 😉

VEGAN – GLUTEN FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

3 tbsp cacao powder

3 tbsp peanut butter (use 100% pure peanut butter – I found that most cheaper brands have a disgusting amount of sugar, added oil and additives in it – you can even make your own. Pop peanuts in a blender, combine and done!)

1-2 tbsp Dextrose (glucose) powder

1 tbsp oil (I used canola)
Ingredients

Combine all ingredients with a fork. Change any ingredient to your liking to make it sweeter, more cocoay (is that a word?) or less runny. Voila!

5 minute fluffy mini pancakes

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I love pancakes in every form and shape and have tried a lot of gluten-free recipes. They have all been okay but have been a bit on the dry side. These are nice, moist (sorry, can’t think of another word) and super fluffy. They are delicious on their own but for a treat I top it with jam, apple sauce or strawberry compote with fresh fruit. This recipe serves 2 regular people for breakfast if you add fruit and an egg on the side.

GLUTEN FREE – DAIRY FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

2 bananas, mashed (I mush mine while still inside the peel to save time)

2 eggs (or you could try to add another banana or “flax seed egg” to make it vegan)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

4 tbsp buckwheat flour

1 handful of blueberries (excellent too if you have blueberries which got a bit old and wrinkled, NOBODY will know)

TIP: Top it with raw boysenberry jam, apple-sauce (either shop both natural, no added sugar, or home-made), fresh fruit, a little glucose syrup or strawberry compote.

Heat up a pan to medium to high heat. Combine all the ingredients and spoon onto the pan. Turn when the mixture starts to bubble slightly, take off the pan 10 seconds later. Done!

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This is what I served for my husband and baby today (Good Friday):

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If you would like to see more gluten, dairy and sugar-free recipes like this you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page), on Facebook or Twitter.

Easy Thai Green curry

Before starting to eat sugar-free, one of our favorite take-away meals was a Thai Green Curry, but unfortunately they add refined sugar. So this recipe satisfies this craving and is super quick and easy to do to boot. The curry paste itself may have a bit of sugar but with 1 1/2 tablespoon used for this recipe, the one I buy makes it  less than 1 gram in this dish.

To make this vegetarian, swap the chicken for snow peas, bamboo shoots or firm tofu.

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This dish serves two people and takes 10 minutes of prep and 8-15 minutes to cook (depending on your rice) + 1 hour for the meat to marinate.

GLUTEN FREE – DAIRY FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

400 grams of chicken breast

1 tin of coconut cream (160 ml)

1 cup of rice, your preferred

2 cups of water

The juice of two limes

Leek, 3 inches dark green part, 3 inches white parts for colour, chopped in short stalks

1-2 tbsp of green curry paste (you can buy this in most supermarkets in a little jar

1 tbsp of oil (I used coconut oil, any oil which is good for high heat is good)

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and marinate in the lime juice for at least an hour in the fridge (or put in the freezer a super quick dinner another day). Meanwhile, chop the leek and set aside for later.

Cook your rice according to instructions.

5 minutes before the rice is done, take the chicken out of the fridge and pop in a pan with the oil and fry at high heat for 3 minutes. Then add the paste, coconut cream and leek. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

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Serve the rice with the Thai Curry on top and dinner is ready!

Mini chicken veggie pies

Finished pie

I have wanted to try making pastry forever, it just always seemed tricky, and gluten-free pastry more so. Tonight I tried making gluten-free (and dairy free) pastry for the first time and it was very nice indeed (although, I must say, I think I will make a separate post for the pastry, it needs more experimenting). This is the recipe for the filling though (makes 12 mini pies or you can choose to use only some of it then and pop the rest of the filling and sauce in the freezer and pull out another night where you have little time to cook, e.g. serve with rice). This could easily be made vegetarian and vegan by substituting the chicken for more veggies and use vegetable broth.

GLUTEN FREE – DAIRY FREE – LOW FRUCTOSE – PALM OIL FREE

Ingredients:

500 grams (1 pound) of chicken breast halves – cubed

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup frozen green peas

1/2 cup sliced celery

4-6 inches (10-12 cm) of a large leek, sliced

3 onions, chopped

10 small/medium mushrooms

1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 1/3 cups chicken broth/stock

Preheat oven to 175C (350F). In a pot, combine chicken, carrots, leek, and celery. Pour over half of the broth and boil for 10 minutes. Add the peas, cook for 1 minute longer and then remove from heat, drain the broth into a separate container and set aside.

In a second pot, cook onions in a little oil until soft. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Slowly stir in chicken broth saved earlier. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mushrroms and onion onion and flour sauce

Prepare the muffin pan with the pastry. Blind-bake for 10 minutes. Then spoon chicken and veggie mix in and pour over the sauce and seal with lids.

Filling Filling and sauce

Crack an egg and whisk with a fork. Brush the lids with egg and make little slits in them. Then pop in the oven for another 10 minutes. Done!

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