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Summary: Jan – Mar 2014 plus Very Berry Sauce

19 Mar

Spring is here – yay!

Tulips

The sun and warm temperatures have lifted my spirits after the disappointing Hb1 AC value for the first quarter 2014. My experiment of eating a mix of low carb and non-low carb meals didn’t really keep my Hb1AC values level. I am not sure if Carnival in Munich was the culprit but I’ll blame it on that. Carnival here, like in many other parts of the world, is the time when the whole city not only becomes crazy but also the time when it’s inhabitants become doughnut crazy. Doughnuts are baked in all possible variations. These are not only sold everywhere but kind colleagues will bring boxes into the office for everyone. It’s really hard to go anywhere in Munich without seeing doughnuts screaming “eat me! eat me! “. Oh well…

The only person who was pleased with my increased Hb1AC was my doctor who said fluctuations are to be expected and he does not see a problem!

Figure it’s time to increase my low carb meals. My problem is snacking. I get really hungry between meals and I don’t like eating raw veggies – so snacking on veggie sticks is out – as long as I can help it. Think I’ll have to eat more yoghurt with my very berry sauce.

In my attempts to recreate something sweet but healthy, I stumbled on something which I really liked – eating a homemade berry sauce or coulis with soy yoghurt. Many years ago when I was first diagnosed as having diabetes, a doctor told me to just boil some fruit, puree it and use this as jam. I never did it because I felt making a small quantity would be too much trouble and a larger quantity would end up getting moldy in the fridge as I don’t eat jam everyday. Furthermore, jam is jellied fruit sauce and by just pureeing fruit, I would end up with a liquidy mixture.

I was making a layered dessert not too long ago which called for pureeing some raspberries and then adding sugar and gelatin. The first time I made the dessert, I followed the recipe but the sauce did not thicken. The next time around, I decided to omit the sugar and gelatin because I was too lazy. As I don’t like raspberries too much because of the seeds which get stuck between your teeth, I sieved the puree and was surprised at how nice it tasted. Basically what I made was a raspberry coulis without sugar and lemon juice – just like what the doctor told me to do many years ago!

Then I tried eating my sauce with different kinds of yoghurt – thick Greek yoghurt, plain yoghurt, 1.5% fat yoghurt and soy yoghurt. The Greek yoghurt and soy yoghurt tasted the best. I’ve tried to make my own soy yoghurt but that hasn’t succeeded (yet) so I’m now enjoying this with store-bought plain soy yoghurt. Divine! I sometimes eat a larger portion as a meal.

Berry season is coming around soon so get ready!

Raspberry coulis

Here’s how you can make your own pure berry sauce.

Pure Very Berry Sauce

Get a box of frozen berries or a punnet  of fresh berries – your choice. Frozen fruit is sold in 300 gr boxes here. I think frozen berries would work better. 300gr frozen berries yields about 200ml sauce. I’ve tried making my berry sauce with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and mixed berries. All lovely!

For frozen fruit, empty the contents into a saucepan. Heat up the pan and then turn down immediately to very low. Let the fruit gently cook till soft. Stir once in a while at the beginning when the frozen fruit have not yet emitted enough liquid.

For fresh fruit, wash the fruit, cut into small pieces, if large, and put this in a saucepan with a little water – ¼ cup. Bring to a boil and quickly turn down the heat to very low. Let fruit simmer till soft. Do check it frequently to ensure that the fruit is cooking in liquid. If the fruit hasn’t emitted liquid yet, add a bit more water.

Once fruit is soft, press through a strainer. This is the hard part. You want to get as much fruit sauce as possible out of this. Every drop is precious. When you are fed-up of pressing, discard the pulp. The rest should be kept in an air-tight jar in the fridge. Use as soon as possible. You could even fill an ice-cube tray with sauce, freeze and defrost cubes when required.

Put a couple of teaspoons of sauce over your yoghurt and enjoy. Try to get a brand with  little sugar or no sugar added if possible. The berries are sweet and tart enough to balance out any bland-tasting yoghurt. Of course, you can be imaginative and decorate with fresh fruit and nuts. You can use this sauce for all kinds of desserts which call for berry sauces. Totally yummy, pure fruit!

Chocoholics rejoice!

24 Mar

Chocolate pcs


Chocolate and diabetes ?- Does chocolate have a place in a diabetic’s food plan? Do you think you need to stop eating chocolate because you have diabetes? Or start eating diabetic chocolate because you still want to enjoy it?

Well, when I first started to seriously control my diet, I thought I had to stop enjoying chocolate (real chocolate, not the diabetic variety) otherwise my blood sugar would hit the roof – I used to eat tons of chocolate before I knew that I had diabetes. I would sometimes eat chocolate till I got sick!

Now, I know – not all chocolate is chocolate! People think milk chocolate is good because there is milk in it … but … it also contains a lot of sugar. White chocolate – forget it. It’s not chocolate. There is no cocoa in it! It’s the dark chocolate you have to go for. And if you believe the various studies which purport unproven health benefits due to the substantial antioxidant content in chocolate (hinders the formation of free radicals), then this is another reason to not restrain your urge to indulge in a piece of good quality chocolate. The emphasis here is on ‘good quality‘.

While scouring the supermarket shelves for low carbohydrate products to have as snacks, I noticed the difference in carbohydrate content between chocolate with varying amounts of cocoa. A lower carbohydrate figure points to a lower sugar content, a figure which may not always be shown on the label. My local supermarket carries a range of dark chocolate from a particular manufacturer with cocoa solids content ranging from 30% to 81%. So one day, I stood there and looked at all the fine print on the back of the packets and lo and behold, the chocolate bar with 81% cocoa solids had 22.8 gr carbohydrates in 100 gr chocolate. The whole bar weighs 125 gr and is already pre-portioned into 24 squares – that works out to  0.95 gr carbohydrates per square!

Lindt (Swiss) even sells dark chocolate with over 90% cocoa. I bought a pack once but I must admit, it was really tasteless. Between 80% – 85% cocoa is about right for me. The important thing is to still look at the nutritional information at the back. Each manufacturer produces its chocolate differently. We can only hope that the nutritional calculations are more or less accurate. You have to try the different brands available in your area before settling for something. While on a trip recently in Asia, I picked up a bar of Whittaker’s chocolate (manufactured in New Zealand) with 70% cocoa. It was pretty tasteless and I felt like I was eating something synthetic. It could have been the emulsifier in the chocolate which contributed to this texture. I have come across this same sensation when eating other brands of chocolate (even 85% cocoa ones!), so it is really important to try them out.

Despite my frequent (1-2 squares max a day but not every day of the week) consumption of dark chocolate, I am pleased to see that my blood sugar readings are still under control. 🙂

So don’t hold back – enjoy a piece of high cocoa content chocolate now and then without guilt! Make hot chocolate by putting two squares in a cup of hot milk. Drizzle melted chocolate over low carb berries. If you’re going to eat so little at a time, spend your money on good quality chocolate. Consume in moderation and you’ll still have your sugars under control!

And please, stay away from that diabetic crap!

Easy Homemade Giveaways – Mendiants

8 Dec

I have made it a habit of giving home-made gifts to friends and acquaintances for Christmas ever since we moved to Germany. I think it is much better than buying a box of chocolates or cookies and hopefully, they are appreciated by my recipients. Every year I try something different. When I first started I wasn’t low-carbing and I made the usual butter Christmas cookies with icing sugar glaze everyone makes. It was something new for me but now I realise that no one wants to receive those because in all probability, they have baked some at home too. So I’ve moved away from cookies and tried to make things which you would normally not receive from other people.

For this year’s giveaway I made mendiants. Here’s what Wikipedia says about them:

“A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites.  Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisins for the Dominicanshazelnut for the Augustins, dried fig for Franciscans and almond for Carmelite. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds, fruit peels and other items.”

These can be made from low carb to high carb depending on the chocolate you use. The higher the content of cocoa in the chocolate, the lower carb it is. I used chocolate with 70% cocoa instead of my usual 81% because I’ve noticed that most people like their chocolate a bit sweeter here. The brand of chocolate with 70% cocoa I’ve used contains 31 gr carbs per 100 gr while the one with 81% carbs has 22.8 gr carbs per 100 gr. If I were making these for ourselves, I would of course use the lower carb variety.

As for the fruit and nuts, I just used what I had lying around. You don’t need a lot of it since you are only using small pieces.

Mendiants look so impressive and are really a no-brainer to make. Melt chocolate, drop in rounds onto silicon baking sheet, decorate with fruit and nuts, let harden and voila!

Mendiants

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Low Carb Dark Chocolate Brownies

25 Sep

I’ve got a new brownie recipe to share. This is a brownie which you should enjoy still warm out of the oven. At this stage it is moist and soft. Once it cools down, it gets cakey but don’t despair. When you want to eat some, microwave the required amount for about 20 seconds. It will become soft again. You can also eat your warm or cakey brownie with some vanilla ice-cream. Finally, if there are any bits left, crumble them up and freeze for later. Make some ice-cream and stir the bits in! I haven’t got that far yet.

After I made this and had a bite, I thought, how could I possibly have made and enjoyed the brownie recipe I posted on 27 June 2010!! It was a brownie made of whey protein powder. Ok, so I had to get rid of my whey protein powder which I didn’t like. I still have quite a lot more, by the way. Somehow I just stopped making those brownies although you could whip them up in a jiffy. On second thoughts, that recipe is very handy when you want one or two portions and want to eat it in 5 minutes! So I won’t write it off yet.

I was browsing through David Lebowitz’ blog (good question, what was I doing there?) and came across his recipe for Gluten-free Chocolate Brownies. I decided it looked ‘adaptable’ and that I would try to substitute the sugar with erythritol and use a dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. I got down to it yesterday.  Out of the oven, as mentioned, the brownie was soft and moist and tasted very rich. After it cooled fully, it became a bit cakey but that could be because I did not follow the instructions fully. David does mention that if you do not beat the batter for a full minute till it pulls away from the sides of the metal pan, your brownie will be crumbly. Since I wasn’t going to run to the kitchen to bake another batch just to see if it turned out any different, I’ll take note of this and come back with an update some time in the future. If you’d like to try this, do go to his site (link above) and read the instructions carefully. The interesting thing about the brownie was that my blood glucose value after one hour was still low despite not injecting any insulin! I did this check twice – testing one hour after eating each piece. So thumbs up! Only 3.2 gr net carbs a piece!

Low Carb Dark Chocolate Brownies – 16 pieces

(adapted from a recipe by David Lebowitz)

85 gr unsalted butter

225 gr dark chocolate (I used one with 81% cocoa)

130 gr erythritol (you could reduce to 100gr)

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tbsp (30 gr) corn starch

100 gr chopped almonds, roasted

Line a square pan (David suggests 8 inch/23cm but I used a 7 inch pan) with two overlapping pieces of foil so that it goes up the sides to the rim and lightly grease the foil with butter (I used parchment paper and did not butter it). Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a metal saucepan over very low heat. Add the erythritol and stir till melted.

Remove the pan from the stove top and whisk in the eggs one by one.

Sift the cocoa powder and corn flour together and mix this into the chocolate batter. Then beat the batter vigorously for at least one minute until the batter is no longer grainy and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit.

Fold in the nuts and turn out the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes until the brownies feel just set in the center. Cool the brownie till lightly warm before slicing into 16 pieces.

Remember – this is best enjoyed still warm out of the oven. Later, when it gets cakey, that’s the time to eat it with a scoop of your favourite ice-cream. Freeze the rest for when you make ice-cream.

Nutritional Information – per serving if cut into 16 pieces

Total Calories – 170.5 kcal; Fat – 14.3 gr; Total Carbs – 6.3 gr (dietary fibre – 3.1 gr, therefore net carbs – 3.2 gr); Protein – 3.8 gr

Print this recipe – Low Carb Dark Chocolate Brownies

Low Carb Marbled Coconut Muffins

29 Apr

Things have been quiet on the kitchen front lately. We’ve been taking advantage of the fantastic weather and have been spending time in the beer gardens and with friends. It’s also the Easter holidays and we had a wonderful week in the Côte d’Or in Burgundy, France savouring good food and fine wines. It wasn’t easy going low carb and I tried to make ‘wise’ choices where possible. We rented a ‘gîte’ and I cooked a few times so, was able to keep things a little in check.

Now that we’re back, I have to replenish my stock of staples. Just finished baking up a fresh batch of low carb Focaccia bread today and also had time to tinker around with a coconut muffin recipe I tried a couple of weeks ago. The recipe is from Healthy Indulgences. I had made some ‘Nutella’ using erythritol and stevia and it wasn’t sooo good and I wanted to get rid of it. I found that Lauren had a muffin recipe using low sugar nutella and gave it a go with not too pleasing results. The batter stuck to my muffin liners. This happened with my bean cakes and I thought they stuck because of the beans.

The week after I made these, I stumbled across some silicon muffin cases in the local supermarket and immediately grabbed a box. So today, I put them to use for the first time and decided to adapt the Nutella Swirl Cupcakes into Low Carb Marbled Coconut Muffins with very pleasing results! The batter does NOT stick to the muffin cases. Hurrah! These muffins have a slightly coconutty taste. I think I like these a little better than the ones made with beans but that could be because I’ve made so many cakes with beans, I’m sick of them. You’ll have to decide for yourself!

Low Carb Marbled Coconut Muffins (12 pcs)

(this recipe is adapted from Nutella Swirl Cupcakes from Healthy Indulgences)

1/2 cup oil (I used 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup coconut oil as suggested by the original author)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup cream

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup erythritol

1/4 tsp liquid stevia

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

5 eggs, separated

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C or 350 degrees F. Get ready your silicon muffin cases or a silicon baking pan. If you don’t have either of these, line a baking pan with parchment paper like this.

Mix coconut flour, erythritol, baking powder and salt together. Add oil, vanilla, milk, cream, liquid stevia and 5 egg yolks and mix well. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar till stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter till well incorporated.

Pour half the mixture into a clean bowl. Add the cocoa powder and 1 tbsp milk to one of the bowls and mix well. Spoon some white and chocolate mixture into each muffin case. Use a small spoon and give the batter in each case one or two swirls. If just using one pan, drop alternate spoonfuls of each coloured mixture into the pan and give it a couple of swirls.

Bake muffins for 20-25 min or till a skewer poked in comes out clean. I haven’t baked the cake in a pan yet but judging from my other cakes, I would say between 50-60 min. If you bake a cake, check after 50 min.

Nutritional Facts –  per muffin

Total cal – 148 kcal; Fat – 12.7 gr; Net Carbohydrates – 2.1 gr; Protein – 4.2 gr

Print this recipe – Low Carb Marbled Coconut Muffins

Low Carb Marble Cake

29 Mar

I’ve been experimenting with a low carb marble cake for several weeks and here is the final result …

… a moist marble cake. This cake contains beans, coconut flour and almond flour but I haven’t called it Bean Coconut Almond Marble Cake because that’s a mouthful. Besides, you can’t taste the beans, coconut or the almonds. If you really pay attention, you will notice the light crunch of the coconut but it is minimal. The intention here is not to make a cake where you can taste the main ingredients but rather to produce a cake without using flour which ressembles the version made with flour. I think this cake is a lot better than many I have eaten here in Germany which have been crumbly and dry. It isn’t sweet so if you’ve got a sweet tooth, then increase the erythritol. Alternatively, a nice chocolate ganache frosting will probably do the trick as well.

In this recipe, beans replace the flour, namely white cannellini beans. In my experiments with beans, I found that it is not possible to substitute any type of bean freely as they have different consistencies when pureed. Some are drier than others. Sometimes it may work, sometimes not. If a bean substitution were made, it may be necessary to adjust the liquid in the recipe. I also found that beating the egg whites separately and folding them into the batter (as some cake recipes recommend to produce a lighter cake) does not make a great difference to the final cake so I have not made the cake this way.

This recipe has become a staple in our family and the best part is we can eat a slice – no, more than one slice – without feeling guilty.

Baking Tip: I have baked several bean cakes in the past weeks and as mentioned in an earlier post, bean batter sticks badly to non-stick pans – well, mine at least, despite generous buttering. If you use a silicone pan, you will not have this problem so if possible, go out and buy one. If you already have a lot of baking pans, then the best thing to do would be to line them. Here is how I lined my non-stick baking pan. Click on the photo for a close-up view. I should have taken a photo without the batter in the pan but forgot. The instructions follow below.

Cut one piece of parchment paper wide enough to cover the width of the pan and long enough to cover the base and up both sides. Then cut another wide enough to cover the length of the pan, and again long enough to cover the base and sides. Butter the pan and ‘stick’ the parchment pieces onto the pan, one on top of the other – it doesn’t matter which goes in first. You will see that the corners are still left unlined. Just butter these areas well and bake your cake. When the cake is done, loosen the cake from the corners before turning it out of the pan.

One more thing – how did I arrive at this recipe? Well, yes, through trial and error (lots of trial and error!) but I did not start from zero and pluck figures from the air. This final recipe was arrived at by adapting a recipe found at Healthy Indulgences Blogspot here.  Since ingredients from different manufacturers and different countries react differently affecting taste and consistency, I have adapted it to produce the results I want using ingredients I am able to purchase here in Munich. I do hope that you will be able to achieve the same results. Do let me know how you do.

Low Carb Marble Cake – (15 slices)

1 420gr can white beans (15 oz), drained weight approx.240 gr

6 large eggs

130 gr (3/4 cup) erythritol

1/2 tsp stevia

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

100 gr unsalted butter

4 level tablespoons coconut flour

2 level tablespoons almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Line your pan. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rise beans well and place in a bowl. Add the eggs, erythritol, stevia, vanilla and salt. Puree everything till fine.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter till creamy. Add a bit of the bean mixture and mix well. Keep doing this bit by bit till all the bean mixture has been added. (If you pour all the bean mixture in at one time, it will be harder to beat the batter till smooth and you will get little clumps of butter.)

Next add the coconut flour and almond meal, followed by the baking powder and baking soda. Mix well.

Pour half the batter into another bowl and add the cocoa powder. Mix carefully till the cocoa powder is incorporated.

Spoon half the white batter into your baking pan, half the chocolate batter, followed by the rest of the white and chocolate batter. Using a spoon, give the batter in the pan a couple of swirls.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 55min or till cooked (do the skewer test – if no crumbs adhere to the skewer, it’s done).

Nutritional Facts per serving if cake is cut into 15 slices:

Total cal – 114.7 kcal; Fat – 8.9 gr; Carbohydrates – 14.8gr (dietary fibre – 11.5 gr, therefore net carbs – 3.3 gr); Protein – 4.3 gr

Print this recipe – Low Carb Marble Cake

Low Carb Lemon Pound Cake

15 Mar

On 6 March I blogged about having my cake and being able to eat it. Unfortunately, I have been having my cake and eating it every day since then 😦 . I was so inspired by the Healthy Yellow Cupcake recipe that I  decided to try making other cakes using beans. Luckily, eating one slice does not require much insulin so I have been indulging myself.

I tried a lemon pound cake recipe I found on a blogger website using chickpeas. It was a total disaster. Not only did the cake fall to bits and pieces, it also had a chickpea taste. Had to bin the whole thing. Yes, yes, I know – if a cake is made of chickpeas, it should taste of chickpeas. But I’m not asking for the impossible here. I know: I want to use another ingredient and have it taste like something else. If you think of carrot cake or zucchini cake or the cupcake recipe above, it is possible! So lesson learnt quickly, I decided to play safe and go back to using white beans and to experiment on my own.

In my review of the Healthy Yellow Cake recipe as well as the chocolate cake recipe I tried, I wrote that both cakes stuck to the muffin liners leading to quite a bit of cake wastage. Also, on the first and second day after baking, there was a slight aftertaste from either the baking soda, baking powder or erythritol and the cake was a bit salty. I found that all this disappeared after two days and therefore recommended waiting and also using a topping to mask the taste. Since then, I’ve been experimenting and today, I think I hit the jackpot with my lemon pound cake which I’d now like to share with you. No aftertaste, no need for topping, no need to wait 24 hours for the beany taste to disappear or 48 hours for the aftertaste mentioned above to disappear. This is a cake you can start eating as soon as it has cooled, on the day of baking and in comparison to ‘normal’ cakes,  is still moist after 6-7 days left on the kitchen counter at room temperature. The room temperature in our home is around 21 degrees C. I don’t know what will happen in summer so it may be wise to put the cake into the refrigerator if you have space. I can’t tell if the cake will stay moist longer than 1 week as our cakes haven’t lasted longer than that. I do know that it is possible to freeze the cake without any problems. I think the successful outcome of any cake depends not only on the recipe but also very much on the brand of ingredients used. The recipe below came out perfect using the brands I bought and I hope that you will have success too!

Take a close-up look at the texture of the cake. Need I say more?

Before I give you the recipe, a tip about the baking pan. I noticed that all my baking attempts using beans stick badly. Whether I used paper muffin liners, a non-stick baking pan or generous buttering and even sprinkling the sides with almond meal, cakes made of beans seem to stick! However, the cake didn’t stick when I lined my pan with parchment paper! So make sure you line your pan with parchment. It is a bit of a pain to line the whole pan (base and 4 sides) with parchment so I did it the lazy way. I cut a piece that would cover both long sides and the base of the pan, buttered the pan generously and ‘stuck’ the parchment in place. That means that the two short sides were not lined but only buttered. After the cake was baked, I used a spatula to loosen the sides, the cake plopped out easily and the parchment peeled off nicely with no damage to the cake. So problem solved – cake wastage reduced.

I have an idea but haven’t been able to test it out yet. Using a silicon pan may be the solution. If it works, then I would be able to make muffins because right now, I think muffins create too much wastage.

Update – 5 Oct. 2011 – A silicon pan does work much, much better. If you have a silicon pan, forget the parchment.

Another tip – once you’ve added your baking powder and baking soda, don’t wait too long before putting the baking pan into the oven. The baking soda will start working and you don’t want the bubbles to deflate.

Note: if your stevia is dark brown, this may lead to a slight discolouration of your cake which in no way affects the taste. If this bothers you, add the walnuts so it will look like the discolouration comes from the walnuts!

Low Carb Lemon Pound Cake

1 420gr can (15 oz) white beans, 240gr when drained

5 large eggs

1/2 tsp stevia extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

95 gr (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter

1/2 cup erythritol

4 leveled Tbsp coconut flour

2 leveled Tbsp almond meal

zest of one lemon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

Optional: 1/2 cup roasted, chopped walnuts

For Syrup

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp erythritol or more to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Line your baking tin.

Drain and rinse beans well. Puree with eggs, vanilla, salt and stevia.

Beat butter till soft. Add erythritol (I usually stir to mix a little before beating as I have a hand-mixer and bits tend to fly all over the place) and beat till well mixed. Add the bean mixture in two batches and mix again till smooth.

Next add the coconut flour, almond meal, lemon zest, baking powder and baking soda. After mixing well, pour into pan, tap it on the table counter to level off the batter in the pan and bake it for 50 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. Squeeze your lemon, measure 1/4 cup and add the erythritol. Check and adjust sweetness.

Test the cake for doneness with a skewer after 50 min. and bake longer if necessary. The top of the cake will take on a lovely brown hue.

Remove the pan from the oven and poke lots of holes in the cake close to each other with a skewer. Drizzle the syrup all over the cake and leave it to cool.

If you have omitted the walnuts and slice your cake into 20 slices, then each slice has 2.9gr net carbs!!

…..

Nutrition Facts

If baked without walnuts and cut into 20 slices, then each slice has:

Total cal – 74.4 kcal; Fat – 5.7 gr; Total Carbohydrates – 9.3 gr (less Fibre 6.4gr = Net carbs 2.9 gr); Protein – 2.9 gr

If using walnuts, then add 0.4 gr carbs per slice.

…..

Print this recipe – Low Carb Lemon Pound Cake

I can have my cake and eat it!

6 Mar

Yes, I can finally eat cake without feeling guilty and having to inject more insulin than I want!

Thanks to Lauren of Healthy Indulgences, I have found two cakes for the low carb diet. Since I am now equipped with coconut flour and erythritol, I tried out two of her recipes – her Gluten-free Low Carb Yellow Cake and her Healthy Chocolate Cake. About a week has gone by now since I’ve tried these recipes. I made both cakes into muffins with differing success rates and I’ll explain why further on.

Both cakes use beans – yes, BEANS! I’ve made muffins and cakes with carrots and zucchini and know about the uses of pumpkin but beans? This never crossed my mind. After baking these, I’ve been googling other beans and guess what?  Beans are a very versatile ingredient. I found recipes using white beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans and azuki beans.  It’s all out there folks. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, you probably know this secret by now.

The Yellow Cake came out firm while the Healthy Chocolate Cake came out moist and soft. The big difference between the two was that the Yellow Cake has the addition of coconut flour and that is probably what contributed to the firmer texture.

I’ll review the Yellow Cake first. I followed Lauren’s recipe instructions and everything came together quite easily. Here is what the batter for the Yellow Cake looked like – a firm batter, easy to scoop into the muffin cups.

The baked muffins looked wonderful …

… and had a nice dense texture when cut in half.

It was difficult to peel away the paper from the muffins without having thick crumbs still adhering to the paper. I thought it was because I did not spray the paper liners with oil spray as recommended in Lauren’s recipe but then I saw that in her photo, the paper liner also had crumbs stuck to it, so obviously the oil spray did not make a difference.

After taking a bite, I could taste the erythritol (I now think it was the baking powder or baking soda and not the erythritol but it goes away after at least 2 days) so I decided to make a topping. Since I did not have xylitol for the topping recipe she had (a comment was made that erythritol did not produce the same results), I decided to make a ganache using a chocolate with 81% cocoa content. Here’s what the end result looked like.

I left the muffins in a tupperware box on the kitchen counter for the first two days and put the rest later into the fridge. They were still moist and did not harden up. I even froze a couple and defrosted them later with no problems. At the end of 6 days, I hardly noticed the erythritol aftertaste. These are absolutely fabulous! When I discovered I needed very little insulin per muffin I was in seventh heaven. I had a hard time limiting myself to one muffin a day.

The Healthy Chocolate Cake was quite different. I didn’t have black beans so I just used white beans. The batter was very liquid. I thought I’d done something wrong, re-read the instructions but found that all the ingredients called for had been added.  So I scooped the batter into the muffin cups and put the tray into the oven. There was still leftover batter so I decided to experiment. This time I buttered the insides of the second tray generously and sprinkled on some almond meal, hoping that the muffins would pop out easily. Boy, was I wrong. I had to pry the cooked muffins apart causing the base to tear – not a pretty sight. Even the muffins in the paper liners weren’t any better. The cooked muffin stuck to the paper meaning a lot of lost cake!

Then I took the taste test. The chocolate muffin was moist, lightly chocolatey but not sweet at all – reminded me of devil’s food cake without the sweetness – but the erythritol aftertaste came through. So I decided to make the buttercream frosting which came with Lauren’s recipe – this one used erythritol. I got a light, ‘crunchy’ buttercream – crunchy from what else, the erythritol. The recipe says to grind the erythritol into powder in a grinder which I did but maybe I didn’t grind it long enough. Anyway it still tasted good and paired together, the muffin tasted great.

After a few days, the muffins, left on the kitchen counter in a tupperware box, were still moist. Today, about 5 days later, I had the last muffin and honestly, I didn’t notice the erythritol aftertaste nor the crunchy erythritol in the icing. This icing is much lighter than my ganache topping. I savoured my last muffin. Here is a photo of the last two muffins – one with topping and one without.

I’m keeping these recipes and next time I will make these into cakes so that I don’t loose any cake when peeling off the muffin paper liners. I will also make these a few days before serving so that any erythritol problems dissolve!

If you would like to try these recipes, click on the links above. The nutritional information is also given there.

Thumbprint cookies that almost won’t leave their print!

17 Feb

The trouble with eating low sugar jams is that they turn bad quite soon because of the low amount of sugar in it! In our family of three, we have at least two to three bottles of jam in the fridge at any one time because we like variety but we don’t eat jam for breakfast every day – cos again we like variety! I buy jam with 70% fruit content and sweetened with Agave syrup, usually one of the berry types which are low in carbohydrates. The three of us have our favourites and won’t touch the other bottles.

So there always comes a time when I have to make a decision – do I toss out the expensive jam or use it up in some other recipe before it really goes off. Usually there’s not much jam left – maybe half a bottle and I combine jams from two bottles to make Shortbread Jam Bars. Absolutely yummy but…they contain flour and oats which means that I can’t enjoy much of it. I tried the recipe once with whole wheat flour (although the carb content difference between whole wheat and plain flour is minimal) and they were still good. Luckily for me, they don’t last long, being devoured up by family and friends. This time around, my leftover jam did not look enough to make  Shortbread Bars and I didn’t have another bottle of jam standing around. I then remembered making Thumbprint cookies once and decided to dig up the recipe to see if I could make it low carb.

My first attempt was a ‘half’ failure – I say half because I managed to salvage the cookies and didn’t have to bin them. I substituted the sugar called for Agave syrup. I would have used another sweetener but I didn’t have any. I also read that Agave syrup has a low glycemic index (GI) and I wanted to test its effects. Then I substitued the 1 cup flour with 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup ground flaxseed and 1/3 cup almond meal. The rest of the ingredients remained as in the recipe. I already knew when I made the batter that something was wrong. It was difficult to form the dough into balls, despite refrigeration, to make the cookies. I added more almond meal and managed to complete the task. Then I was supposed to bake the cookies for 5 min, take them out, fill with jam and bake again. When I looked into the oven after 5 min., my cookies were sitting in a pool of butter. So I took them out, soaked up the butter with a paper kitchen towel, filled the cookies with jam and finished off the job. The end result was edible but looked like it could be worked on.

Well, to cut a long story short, I made more changes and am amazed at how un-lowcarb these cookies taste. I’m posting the recipe here with Agave syrup but I think the carb content can be lowered even further. I’ve ordered some erythritol and am going to give it another go. I just can’t wait to share this recipe, that’s why I’m posting it now.

Thumbprint Cookies ( yields 16 pcs)

80gr Butter

50gr Agave Syrup

1 egg yolk

½ tsp vanilla sugar

1/4 cup each wholewheat flour, flaxseed meal and soya flour

¾ cup ground almonds or hazelnuts

2 Tbsp high fruit content jam, preferably sweetened with Agave syrup

1/8 tsp salt

Line baking sheet with baking paper.

Cream butter and add Agave syrup and egg yolk. Mix in flours, ground almonds or hazelnuts, salt and vanilla sugar. Batter will be slightly moist. Put in fridge for 1 hr to firm up. If you think it’s still too wet, add more almond meal.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.

Make balls out of the dough and place on cookie sheet.

Bake for 5 min. Take out the tray from the oven, make dents with a small utensil (I used my 1/8 tsp measuring spoon), fill with jam and bake further for 10 min. Turn down the heat to 150 degrees C and bake another 10 min. The bottoms will be a bit darker than your usual cookies because soya flour burns faster. If you think it’s gone too far before your baking time is up, turn down the heat slightly. Practice makes perfect!

Fresh out of the oven, these cookies are crisp on the outside. They soften when kept in a cookie jar overnight but still taste as good.

Nutritional info per piece:

Total Cal- 73.9kcal; Fat – 5.8gr; Carbs – 4.2gr; Protein – 1.3gr

The original recipe had 11gr carbs per piece.

Print this recipe – Thumbprint cookies

Roasted, Salted, Paprika Almonds

3 Jan

I didn’t think I would be writing another recipe post so soon especially since I said in yesterday’s post – no camera, no photos = no recipe posts! Well, this recipe doesn’t really need a photo unless you don’t know what roasted almonds look like!! Okay, these are a little bit red. So just picture reddish, roasted almonds and you’ve got it.

You know how before Christmas, the magazine racks in bookstores and supermarkets are stocked with magazines featuring Christmas menus and homemade food gift ideas. Although I have lots of cooking magazines with more recipes that I could probably cook in my entire life, I still reached out and bought one – just for the heck of it and because I like giving people homemade food gifts made with love 🙂 and not loaded with chemicals and preservatives.

Did I make anything out of this magazine to give to someone? The answer is NO! Well… I did make something but I and my husband ate them all up!

I  spotted an easy recipe (being a bit lazy and always short of time, I usually look for quick, easy things to make). Of course, before giving something to someone, I had to test it out first to see if the recipe was worth its salt. Roasted, salted, paprika almonds  – packed in a nice jar, embellished with a ribbon and given with a bottle of good wine – sounds like a nice gift.

I made half a portion and wasn’t too impressed with the results. The nuts were slightly soft and didn’t seem to harden after cooling. The recipe said to place the almonds on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt and paprika powder. The salt didn’t stick onto the nuts and so they weren’t salty enough.  Getting the skins off the almonds was a pain and a wet affair. So I decided this wasn’t a good gift choice,  put the roasted almonds in a jar, into the cupboard and told my husband he could eat them (he calls himself our organic bin). He did – the day after and proclaimed them fantastic and said they weren’t soft at all. Indeed, the next day the almonds were all crunchy. Since I only made half the recipe, they didn’t last very long.

Now, almonds have the lowest carb count of all the nut varieties and are a nice snack on a low carb diet. The nutritional information on the package of raw almonds says 100grams has 630 kcals, 25.8 gr. protein, 4.4gr. carbs and 54.3g fat. Well, you’re not suppposed to eat 100gr at a time or at least, you should try your very best not to! The package gives 1 portion as 25 gr. and that is equivalent to about 23 almonds. So that’s 158 kcal, 6.5 gr. protein, 1.1 gr carbs and 13.6 gr fat. Okay, that’s before baking and the egg white, salt and paprika have not been factored in but it isn’t much.

I then decided to rework this recipe – can there be anything to rework? – it’s so simple – have now made it 4 times and think that this is a super homemade snack for the low carb dieter.

Update 5 May 2019 – I’ve come up with a better, very addictive solution. Just bake the peeled almonds for 10-12 min at 200 degrees C. (Check after 10 min.) Forget the egg white, salt and paprika. However, if you are making a gift, the red paprika looks quite nice. The bad thing is – these are so good I can’t stop eating them. Here is a photo of the plain, roasted almonds. I haven’t made the paprika almonds again for a long time.

 

This recipe for roasted, salted, paprika almonds comes complete with all the adjustments I’ve made.

Roasted, salted, paprika almonds

400gr raw almonds

1 egg white (M size)

Salt, paprika powder

Bring a pot of water to boil and throw in the almonds. Boil 1 minute. When the water is boiling, turn off the heat and put in the almonds. Let them sit for one minute. Take out one almond and check if the skin comes off easily when squeezed. If yes, drain and rinse quickly with cold water. If not, boil wait 10-30 seconds more. Drain and wait for a while to let cool and for the excess water to drain off. If you peel them too soon, there’ll be a lot of brown water squirting around.

Squeeze the almonds out of their skins and lay on a paper kitchen towel to soak up the excess water. If they still look wet once you’ve peeled them all, take a paper kitchen towel and pat them dry.

Break an egg white into a mixing bowl and use a fork to beat it so that it increases in volume and becomes white and frothy. Add the almonds and salt as desired (I use 1 1/2 tsp). Stir well to coat.

Pour out the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If there is any egg white at the bottom of your bowl, don’t pour it out onto the baking sheet.

Spread the almonds out making sure there is only one layer.

Sprinkle the almonds with paprika powder.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius (180 degrees convection oven) for 14-15 minutes.

Take out and let the almonds cool. The almonds will start crackling as they cool!

Notes:

  • I’ve noticed that if I boil the almonds too long, this makes them soft after baking and not all of them will dry up and become crunchy. I found 2 minutes boiling too long. I had to rewrite this tip cos the batch I made yesterday were still soft today despite boiling for only one minute. I found a site on the internet which said not to boil the almonds but just cover in hot water. Maybe that might do the trick. What I just did to the soft almonds was put them back into the oven till they hardened up. They’re ok now. I really hate recipes which don’t tell you everything!
  • if you don’t want your almonds spicy hot use sweet paprika powder, otherwise try it with hot paprika powder
  • 1 medium egg white is enough to coat 400gr almonds without having too much excess egg white on your baking sheet. If there is too much egg white, your almonds may end up stuck together (but this isn’t really a problem as you can break them up). If you use 500gr almonds, then use the egg white from a large egg
  • 400gr almonds will fill up your oven’s baking sheet, so if you make more, you will probably have to bake in two batches. I also don’t recommend making more otherwise your fingers will be sore from peeling. It took me about 25 minutes to get off the skins one by one. That’s why I don’t want to make these for anyone. This is bloody hard work!
  • I am not sure why the recipe calls for unpeeled almonds and not blanched, peeled almonds since these are readily available. You could save yourself a lot of trouble by buying blanched almonds. Maybe it’s the price factor. Here in Germany, they cost more than double the price.
  • I find it easier and better if I put a teaspoon of paprika into a little sieve and then sprinkle onto the almonds
  • The second time I made these, they were over roasted although I baked them for the same time. Maybe it was because they were boiled for a shorter time and were therefore soaked with less water. So check during the last few minutes.
  • adjust the amount of salt according to your taste in the next batch. I don’t like mine too salty as it makes me really thirsty after eating
  • try the same recipe with finely ground chili, curry powder or garam masala. I haven’t yet but the magazine recommended it. You can also do this with peanuts, cashews, macadamias or pecans although the carb count is higher.

Hope you like these.

Print this recipe: Roasted, salted, paprika almonds

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