I love to bake. It used to be anything sweet, chocolatey, creamy and cake-like that worked for me. But as a family, we have been on a journey of discovery with regard to healthy and mostly sugar-free baking. As often happens, it was a health crisis that prompted us. My eldest daughter had a pretty major health scare when she was 3 and although she is thankfully fine now, it got us thinking about what we eat and how it was affecting our health and well being. I started to actually read the ingredients on food labels and started to read about food additives and pesticides etc. But mostly, I started to learn about how to make super yummy desserts and cakes, which were also healthy! I didn't want my family to have to go without sweet treats but they are often loaded with refined white sugar, harmful fats and nasty additives. So I have been learning how to bake using alternative natural sweeteners, like maple syrup, rice malt syrup, stevia, fruit and good fats like coconut oil. I also need to stick to a low GI diet for health reasons, so really, this approach to baking has helped all of our family. Have a look at the recipes below and be inspired! Then have a go at making some of them yourself…I dare you! They taste delicious and help your body with wonderful nutrient rich ingredients! Honestly, tasty and healthy IS possible when it comes to sweets. Here is the proof…!
- Elizabeth, Cakesnake Mumpreneur
ps, I also put many of my baking adventures on the Cakesnake Facebook page. Check it out here: Cakesnake on Facebook
We LOVE chocolate brownie. It never lasts long in our house. But lets face it, they are a sugar BOMB! So upon the recommendation of a Facebook fan, I tried this Raw Brownie recipe in the My New Roots blog. Well, that fact that I made 4 batches in 2 days says it all. They are beautiful: chewy, moist, sweet and chocolately. But of course, the most wonderful thing about this brownie recipe is that it is good for you. No harmful fats or sugars here and they take no time at all to make. I’ve also been amazed by the fact that I have given them to friends who declare they don't like dates or walnuts, but who eat these like they are going out of fashion! This goes to show that all the ingredients blend into one big mass of sweet, chocolate-brownie yummyness. Enjoy!
Raw Chocolate Brownie
2 cups whole walnuts
2 ½ cups Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw cacao powder
1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
¼ tsp. sea salt
1. Place walnuts in food processor and blend on high until the nuts are finely ground.
2. Add the cacao and salt. Pulse to combine.
3. Add the dates one at a time through the feed tube of the food processor while it is running. What you should end up with is a mix that appears rather like cake crumbs, but that when pressed, will easily stick together (if the mixture does not hold together well, add more dates).
4. In a large bowl (or the pan you plan on putting the brownies in), combine the walnut-cacao mix with the chopped almonds. Press into a lined cake pan or mould. Place in freezer or fridge until ready to serve (it is also easier to cut these when they are very cold). Store in an airtight container.
I got extremely excited when I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade chocolate bars on the Chocolate Covered Katie website. It has ½ cup of cacao powder, 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and 10 drops of stevia all mixed together, poured onto baking paper on a tray and stuck in the freezer over night. This is the result. It is divine! If you like dark chocolate, you will love this version. And it’s sugar free! You could add all sorts of flavours to spice it up, like orange rind or chilli. I like to eat it whilst enjoying a well deserved glass of wine! You can also use 2 tablespoons of agave syrup instead of stevia. This makes the chocolate less snap-able but it is less bitter.
When the sun comes out (which is often here in Sydney!) it always makes my kids want one thing and one thing only…ice blocks. So I have been on a mission to find ice blocks that aren’t loaded with sugar. Not easy. I found this great recipe in Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” ebook. They taste fresh and rich and the kids love them! I make them in ice cube containers and just put paddle-pop sticks into them. Super easy!
Avocado and Coconut Popsicles
1 large, soft avocado
½ can coconut cream
juice of 1 lime
¼ cup coconut water
1 tablespoon rice malt syrup (found this at a large health food shop)
¼ teaspoon salt
Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or with a stick mixer, until it becomes a creamy liquid. Spoon into moulds, insert stick. Freeze overnight.
Sometimes you just want chocolate cake. I am a woman…I understand that. The need for chocolate cake usually coincides with having very little energy to make it. When this mood strikes, I love this gorgeous little chocolate cake which takes very little effort or time. It is chocolate cake made in a cup and only takes 1 minute in the microwave. I have tried a few versions but this one works every time. Top with cream or ice cream or yoghurt or raspberries…or whatever you feel like. You can also add ½ teaspoon of instant coffee granules if you like a mocha taste. Or add sugar instead of stevia granules. It’s like a warm, chocolately hug-in-a-mug ☺.
1 ½ tablespoons of cocoa powder
3 tablespoons plain flour
3 teaspoons stevia granules (or 4 teaspoons of sugar)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter (melted)
3 tablespoons of milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl or cup. Add the wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Microwave on high for 1 minute (maybe only 45 seconds if you have a super-duper powerful microwave.) Eat and be happy!
Who doesn’t like chocolate spread? Well, we all love it in our house but the commercial stuff is loaded with sugar. I have seen lots of recipes for homemade versions but none that were sugar free. So I was thrilled to see this recipe in Sarah Wilson's “I Quit Sugar” ebook. I was equally excited to see jars of rice malt syrup in my local Coles and at only $3.50, I grabbed a few. I didn’t put any macadamia oil in but it still tastes amazing. What’s for lunch today? Chunks of fresh sour dough bread with sugar free chocolate spread...divine!
Healthy Chocolate Spread
* 1 cup hazelnuts
* 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
* 4 tablespoons rice malt syrup
* 1 tablespoon vanilla powder
* 1 tablespoon macadamia oil
* 1⁄2 cup coconut milk
Preheat oven to 180 C. Bake the hazelnuts for 8-10 minutes, until browned. Rub most of the skins off - they can be a bit bitter (you don’t have to be too precise). Now grind the nuts in a food processor to a smooth consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed. Feel free to add extra coconut milk if you want more of a sauce consistency. Store in the fridge.
If someone had told me a few months ago, that I would make and LIKE sweet pie made from white beans, I would have laughed hysterically in their face. That’s just crazy talk! So I was a little surprised when the recipe caught my eye and I decided to give it a go. And dear friends, let me tell you that it tastes fantastic! It is sweet and gooey and ooh so pleasing to the taste buds. It’s also very healthy, as desserts go. I’m normally quite restrained with portions but I had 4 slices yesterday. I’m sorry, the pie made me do it. It is at it’s best when warm and with a huge dollop of greek yoghurt. The kids loved it… hubby loved it…and I am seriously considering buying white beans in bulk. Here’s the recipe: Please note, I didn’t have any applesauce, so I used greek yoghurt instead and for chocolate chips, I broke up my homemade, sugar-free chocolate. For the stevia part, I used one teaspoon of the granulated kind and it was deliciously sweet.
Chocolate-Chip & White Bean Pie (by Chocolate Covered Katie)
2 cans of white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup quick oats
2 cups pitted dates
1 teaspoon stevia
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (or yoghurt)
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil (canola, veg or coconut)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a 10inch springform pan. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl (except chocolate chips) and all the wet ones in a separate one. Put half wet and half dry into a food processor and blend until super smooth. Repeat with the remaining wet and dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the lot into the pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let it cool for 15mins and then dig in!
This is fudge…healthy, yummy, delicious, guilt-free fudge! I was amazed at how creamy and sweet it was, considering its ingredients. You put ¼ cup melted coconut butter, ¼ cup chocolate spread (I used my homemade version,) 1 teaspoon cacao powder (or cocoa powder) and ½ large, ripe banana into a blender or food processor. Whiz it all together and scoop it into a pan. This only made enough for a mini tart tin. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until firm. Oh my, it was good! Hubby and I scoffed the lot in front of a movie. Sorry kids.
TThese little beauties are Sticky Pecan Muffins. I stumbled across the recipe whilst looking at the brilliant http://quirkycooking.blogspot.com.au/. I didn’t have all of the ingredients and I don’t have a Thermomix, so I decided to just wing it! This approach can, of course, end in lots of kitchen tears but today I had success. They are free of refined sugar but ooze sticky, toffee sweetness. They are simply delicious and guilt free. Just how I like my muffins!!
Sticky Pecan Muffins (my adapted version)
200gms roughly chopped pecans
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons agave
1 tablespoon coconut cream or butter (I used coconut cream)
110gm rice bran oil (or butter or macadamia oil)
1 teaspoon stevia granules (optional)
80gms flour (I used wholemeal spelt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 12 cup muffin pan.
Melt the honey, agave and coconut cream (or butter) in the microwave, for about 1 minute. It makes a wonderful caramel sauce. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the sauce into each muffin cup. Sprinkle a generous teaspoon of pecan nuts over the sauce. Set aside.
Put all the remaining ingredients into a bowl and stir until combined. Divide among the muffin cups and bake for about 20 mins. A skewer will come out clean they are ready.
My kids ask for one thing a lot and that is dessert. I don't want them to always expect it but to be honest, it holds such great bargaining power. What parent hasn’t said “you can have dessert, if you eat your dinner/meat/veggies?” Come on, be honest. So when the kids asked what we were having for dessert tonight, I thought we’d try out an idea for “Music Festival Energy Orbs” from ‘My New Roots’. The name makes them sound seriously dodgy but don’t be put off. They are made of medjool dates and a variety of raw nuts, processed to make a large sticky ball of sweet dough. We then broke off small chunks of the dough, rolled them into balls and coated the balls in sesame seeds, cacao powder and organic desiccated coconut. It was an interactive dessert and really tasty! The kids were eating the ‘orbs’ with such excitement, having made them with their own little hands. I usually struggle to get them to eat raw almonds and macadamias but like this, it was no problem! We all ended up sticky, full and happy. A sweet yet sugar-free dessert, full of healthy fats. A kind of edible playdough. The few we couldn’t finish have been put in the fridge for later. I won’t be eating them at a music festival…just with a cuppa in front of the telly. Is this what they call middle age?
Energy Orbs (I'm not sure about the name!)
2 cups medjool dates, chopped (or you can also use some raisins, cranberries, prunes, apricots)
2 cups nuts (I used almonds and macadamias but pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias also work well.)
Dash of cinnamon
Sesame seeds or desiccated coconut or cacao powder for rolling (optional)
Put dates into a food processor and pulse until processed into a paste. Put paste into a medium bowl. Then process the nuts until finely chopped. Add the nuts and cinnamon to the dates in the bowl and use your hands to combine them to make a dough. Take a small amount of the dough, roll into a ball. Roll the ball in whatever you like and eat! They can be stored in the fridge if any are left over.