Guilt Free Avocado Chocolate Cake

FinishedWhat would it mean to sink your teeth into a moist, warm piece of chocolate heaven knowing that every bite contains only healthy ingredients? Imagine leaving the dinner table feeling full and not bloated?

This cake is amazing. It is moist, chocolaty, naturally sweet and packed full off great ingredients – and I felt great after eating it (where I usually would feel heavy and, yes, guilty!).

Gluten free, egg free, refined sugar free…. How you ask, will that EVER be tasty? So simple.

Bananas, avocado, cocoa powder, honey or agave syrup, oats (yes, my favourite ingredient in most things), rice flour (or gluten free alternative), coconut flour, coconut oil, vanilla, pinch of salt – and Bob’s your uncle. Enjoy – and please let me know how much you enjoyed it!

Guilt Free Avocado Chocolate Cake

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1.5 ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey (agave syrup/maple syrup can be used instead)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml – when dry) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup (250ml) unsweetened almond milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) gluten free flour
  • 2 tbsp (125ml) coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) cocoa powder
  • Good pinch of sea salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 175C – grease/line a baking tray – what ever shape you like really.
  2. In a large bowl, mush up the bananas and avocado well
  3. Add vanilla, honey (or syrup) and melted coconut oil and stir well
  4. Pour the almond milk into a cup and add the table spoon of vinegar – let it sit there for a minute or two – then add to the large bowl and stir well
  5. Tip in salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda as well as the two kinds of flour, oats and cocoa powder. Give it all a really good mix to combine.
  6. Pour into your prepared tin/tray and place in the oven – leaving it to cook for roughly 45 minutes – a skewer inserted should come out clean. The cake will crack and that is great. Not a problem.
  7. Once cooked leave to cool – and serve with natural yogurt or plain.
  8. Scrumptious!

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Pancake Day #3 – Chocolate on Chocolate Pancake Cake!

This is THE perfect pudding for Shrove Tuesday…(in two days in case you had forgotten!) Our children have the day planned…

American Pancakes for breakfast, a crepe with ham and cheese in the lunch box and then spinach layers for dinner with this recipe here for dessert!! It will be death by pancakes but fun!! I will be making pancakes all day it looks like! 🙂

This one is inspired by a food buzz article I read by a lady called Angie Tee – I have adapted her recipe slightly as I do not like to put butter and too much sugar in my pancakes – but the idea and composition are all hers!

It is like making a layer cake – chocolate crepes, then nutella, then banana….until there is no more and you have a tower to feast on! Time consuming yes, worth it? Oh yes! Enjoy!

This makes a large portion!!!!! The pictures show the cake I made – and I still had about 12 pancakes left over.

300g flour
7 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups of milk (equivalent to about 750ml) 
3 eggs
4 tbsp veg oil
8 tbsp beer – this not only adds a bit of yeast to the batter but also crispness – can be omitted though
1 jar of Nutella – warmed
3-4 bananas
 
  • Combine flour, cocoa, sugar and salt in a bowl
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, beer and vegetable oil
  • Pour the liquids into the dry ingedients and whisk until well combined
  • Pour the batter into a jug (easier for making the pancakes) and leave to set for 15ish minutes – you can prepare the batter the day before and leave, cling filmed, in the fridge over night
  • When ready to make your pancakes, gently whisk the batter – it should pour easily and have a cream like consistency (add a bit of milk if too thick)
  • Heat and rub a non stick pan with a tiny bit of vegetable oil
  • Pour the batter onto the pan and swirl it around to coat evenly. Once the sides start to turn upwards, flip your pancake and cook the other side
  • Lay pancakes on a plate and keep warm in an oven while you finish flipping the rest of the pancakes
  • Heat the nutella in a bowl of hot water – or microwave quickly if you have one (it is easier to spread when warm)
  • Slice your bananas thinly…
  • Layer….and enjoy…

How to enjoy!

Rye #4 – Stress Free Carrot and Rye Breakfast Rolls

The reason these are called stress free buns is that you make the dough the day before and leave it to cool overnight – then grab it when you want it, shape your rolls and place them in a cold oven, turn it on and cook for 35 minutes – the result being amazing! While they are cooking you can go for a short run, take a shower or bath, play with the children, read the paper…what ever you fancy! And when your timer goes off, breakfast is served – stress free! Combine with a big mug of coffee, some orange juice, slice of cheese with a dollop of strawberry compote…heaven!!!!

As with all my rye recipes they are jam-packed with goodness! The seeds and carrot only add to it – and the children absolutely adore them.

I like to make the dough on a Friday afternoon – sometimes a double portion – then Saturday and Sunday breakfast becomes a treat and a really lovely time where we can sit together as a family and enjoy. There is nothing like a freshly baked roll in the morning.

This recipe is a mix of my Dad’s and my Mum’s – thank you both!

300ml (ish) luke warm water
15g fresh yeast or 1.5 tsp dry yeast
Drizzle of honey
250g rye flour
150g plain flour
1.5 carrots – grated
Handful sunflower seeds or more
Salt
1 tbsp olive oil
 
  • Pour luke warm water into a big bowl and dissolve the yeast – fresh or dry – in it with a wooden spoon
  • Drizzle honey in and stir
  • Add the flour – both types – stir to combine. What you want is a dough that is sticky but not runny. It should make your hands messy…but not too wet. You definitely do not want it too dry. So add the flour slowly and stir as you go.

  • Throw in the grated carrot and seeds, season with salt and add a bit of olive oil – about 1 tbsp
  • Put a lid or tea towel over the bowl and leave in a cool place. If you have a larder, great, if not the fridge is good. Walk away!
  • The day after, the dough will have risen and be spongy, it may also smell slightly sour and yeasty. That is fine! It will not have risen a lot as the rye flour is heavy.

  • Shape small dough balls with your hands and place the rolls on a lined baking tray – as mentioned earlier the dough will be sticky. Rolling each bun in a little flour will make it easier and neater – for a more rustic appearance, see note further down!

  • Pop in a cold oven, turn it to 225C and bake for 30-35 minutes
  • Let cool for about 10 minutes before eating

If you are lazy, or do not want to get your hands sticky, you can simply drop the batter onto the baking tray with a wooden spoon – this will give you a more rustic looking bun and it does not affect the flavour at all!

Rye #3 – Quinoa, rye and seed quiche pastry

This third rye recipe I have used for years and come back to again and again. It is really easy, looks beautiful, tastes great, is healthy and can be used for many different occasions – buffet lunch, breakfast, brunch or an easy dinner when served with a side salad.

Prepare the pastry the night before and leave in a cold oven with a tea towel over it until needed. This will make it stay crisp as well as reduce stress levels if you are making them for a special occasion. Simply pop the filling in 45 minutes before you want to eat and stick it in the oven.

Everyone in our house has their own favourite filling so I often make two or three. They taste great cold the next day and you can also pop it into the lunch box if you fancy.

Filled with rye (read benefits here) and seeds as well as, depending on your choice of filling,  fresh vegetables, cheese, eggs or bacon, it is hard not to ENJOY!

Quiche Pastry – makes 1 quiche

110g plain flour
55g rye flour
Handful of quinoa
1 tbsp of both sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
Cold water to combine pastry
 
  • Preheat oven to 200C and grease and line pastry tin.
  • In a bowl combine flour, seeds, salt and quinoa. Slowly add olive oil and water and knead by hand until all ingredients form a dough ball that is not sticky.
  • Lightly flour your working surface and roll out dough with rolling pin. Transfer into pastry tin, it does not matter if this happens in smaller pieces that you mold together in the tin, ensuring that the dough not only covers the base but also goes half way up the sides – this to ensure your filling does not overspill. Save a small piece of the pastry for “mending” holes – see below!
  • Prick with a fork and pre-bake (empty) for 15 minutes (should be light brown).

  • When out of the oven you may notice that the pastry has contracted slightly in places – mend the holes with a bit of the raw pastry if this is the case – to ensure no holes.

Egg/cream topping mixture

This mixture goes on top of the various types of quiches – depending on filling. If you do not eat eggs, or want to avoid the calories from eggs and cream – I suggest making the spinach quiche as you can omit the topping for this one and simply sprinkle with some cheese. The spinach is moist enough on its own.

4 eggs and 200ml double cream (for egg/bacon, leek/bacon and tomato/onion quiche)
2 eggs and 4 tbsp double cream (for spinach quiche)
Grated cheddar cheese
 
  • Simply beat the eggs and cream together with a fork in a bowl

Filling Ingredients

Egg and Bacon quiche – great for breakfast or brunch

200g pack bacon lardons
200ml creme fraiche
Pinch ground nutmeg
 
  • Pre-heat oven to 200C
  • Fry bacon in a pan until brown
  • Put on paper towel to dry off excess oil
  • Add bacon and creme fraiche to egg/ double creme mixture (as above)
  • Season with nutmeg
  • Pour the filling into the pastry in the tin and sprinkle cheese on top
  • Bake in pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes

Egg and Bacon

Simply egg is also good 

Spinach, feta and sun dried tomatoes quiche – great lunch or dinner

500 g of chopped, frozen spinach
20 sun dried tomatoes – or more if you like
Feta cheese to taste
Salt, nutmeg
 
  • Thaw spinach in a bowl
  • When defrosted add chopped sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese broken into pieces (quantity depends on your personal preference)
  • Season with salt and nutmeg
  • Put filling into the pastry in the tin
  • Pour over egg/cream filling and sprinkle cheese on top – or simply sprinkle with cheese and avoid the egg and cream all together.
  • Bake for 35 minutes if you added the egg/cream but only for 20 if you did not.

You can omit sun dried tomatoes and add pine nuts as I did here 

Onion and tomato quiche – brunch, lunch or dinner

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 onions – sliced thinly
3-4 ripe tomatoes
 
  • Gently fry sliced onion in a little olive oil until soft
  • Spread onto pre-baked pastry base
  • Pour over egg/cream filling
  • Slice tomatoes thinly and layer on top of the egg/cream mixture
  • Sprinkle cheese on top
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes

Leek and bacon quiche – lunch or dinner

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 leeks – sliced
200g pack of bacon lardons
 
  • Cut the leek length wise, not all the way through – enough to open it slightly. Rinse it under cold water to ensure you get any dirt out. Leek is often full of soil!
  • Slice the leek thinly and gently fry it in a little olive oil until soft but not brown
  • Spread onto pre-baked pastry base
  • Fry bacon in a pan until brown
  • Put on paper towel to dry off excess oil
  • Sprinkle the bacon lardons over the leek
  • Pour over egg/cream filling
  • Sprinkle cheese on top
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes

This one was eaten too fast to get a picture!! The leek goes ever so soft and slightly sweet…beautiful!

Rye #1 – Rugbrød (Sourdough Rye Bread)

The New Year is here and the children’s mood swings as well as scales are a gentle (or not so gentle!) reminder that December’s sweet and indulgent time must come to an end…at least for a little while. So, with this in mind I am, over the next few weeks, in the name of health, going to share with you a series of rye flour recipes that I love and make often.

Being Danish, Rye is very much part of my every day life and I am a passionate advocate of it! I rarely eat any bread that does not contain it and try to incorporate it into cakes and pastries also. Most of the time the children do not even know they are eating it.

So what is rye and why bother? Rye is a cereal grain, known scientifically as Secale cereale, which looks like wheat but is longer and more slender. It is one of the most recently domesticated cereal crops. Unlike some other cereal grains that can be traced back to prehistoric times, rye was not cultivated until around 400 B.C. It was first grown in this manner in Germany. Rye is thought to have originated from a wild species that grew as weeds among wheat and barley fields.

Unfortunately, ever since the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, this nutrient-rich grain has not been widely enjoyed. In many countries, rye seems to have been relegated to the back of the shelves – maybe out of sight out of mind? Luckily for me, in some food cultures, including my Danish one, rye is still widely used and retains an important position. Especially in Denmark, rye bread (rugbrød) holds an especially esteemed position – hence the recipe I will be posting today!

  • Rye contains high levels of proteins and fibre. It contains good amounts of iron, calcium and zinc and a whole slew of B and E vitamins
  • Rye contains a lot of soluble fibre which slows down the release of carbohydrates and sugars, so that you feel satisfied for longer after eating it compared to wheat bread – thus beneficial in controlling body weight
  • Being overweight and lacking exercise can lead to type 2 diabetes. Whole grain food, including rye bread, consumption is significantly associated with reduced risk of diabetes due to the fact that rye bread generates a lower insulin response than wheat bread does
  • Rye bread and other rye-products can improve bowel function and prevent constipation as well as colon cancer
  • If you think of carbon footprint then rye is a good way to eat as it is easier to grow than wheat in many climates and therefore requires fewer inputs
  • It tastes great!
  • In summary – by eating rye and other fibre rich produce you can lower cholesterol, reduce risk of heart disease, constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, high blood sugar, diabetes and obesity as well as being good to the environment! Nice list isn’t it?!?

(For more information please see  www.ryenadhealth.orghttp://www.whfoods.com, http://www.greenfootsteps.com/rye-flour.html, http://commonsensehealth.com/Diet-and-Nutrition/High_Fiber_Food_Chart.shtml).

Rye flour is the key ingredient in this traditional Danish sourdough rye bread I am about to share with you! Be excited! My father is the one who inspired me on this one – he is THE rye bread maker at home!

A final few words before we get on with it though. Bread made with rye flour is more compact and dense than normal wheat bread as its gluten is less elastic than wheat’s. Therefore, do not expect a light, fluffy bread! However, as rye flour is less processed than wheat it retains a large quantity of nutrients. What I am trying to say is – it may be heavy but it’s good for you!

Sourdough Starter

100ml buttermilk
100ml water
55g rye flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp runny honey
 

Traditional Rye Bread from Sourdough starter

400g rye flour
100g strong white flour
250g seeds – rye, sunflower, pumpkin – any you like! Add nuts too – walnuts are lovely.
About 500 ml luke warm water
1 tsp salt
Sourdough stater (made from recipe above)

Sourdough Starter

The hardest part of making sourdough rye bread is getting the sourdough starter going. The first time you make the bread it will probably not turn out well. This is because it takes the wild yeast you are creating time to become strong. Do not let this discourage you! I had to throw away my first two loaves when I started…now however I have the most gorgeous rye bread that I, and my family, eat all the time.

Add all the sourdough starter ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine – it will look something like the above! The reason you are adding salt and sugar is that you essentially are “feeding” the mixture!

Once combined, leave it covered in a warm place for 24 hours – give it a stir and leave for another 24 hours. Have a look at it. It should start to smell sour and bubble slightly. Place in the fridge for 3 days. After this time it is ready for use but remember, the first few times you use it the bread may not turn out as well as you expect.

Traditional Rye Bread from Sourdough starter

DAY 1

Get a large mixing bowl and pour in 450ml luke warm water as well as the sourdough starter. Mix well.

Add both types of flour to the mixture and stir until it has the consistency of a really thick bowl of porridge! Add more water if necessary. It must not be runny though so if you add too much water stir in a bit more rye flour. You will end up with something that looks like the image here – not pretty I know!

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest for at least 12 hours – I usually leave it over night. Do not fill the dough more than 2/3 of the way as it will rise.

Day 2

Once risen, your dough should look like the above image! It will be spongy when you touch it.

Add the seeds or nuts/rye – my seed mixture (cracked rye and wheat and others) needs to be soaked in boiling water for a few minutes before being added, as below, but if you just use nuts and seeds you can add them as they are.

Give the mixture a good stir and add 1tsp of salt – you can add more or less salt if you wish – taste it and see what you think. The dough should feel soft to stir but not be watery. If it is too hard you may add a little bit of luke warm water – not more than 30dl though – which probably is equivalent to a few tablespoons. If you make it too watery the bread will come out sticky.

Once you are happy with the consistency of your batter, take a good couple of spoonfulls out of the bowl and put in a glass – as below. This will be the sourdough starter for your next bread!

Put a few tsp sea salt on top of the sourdough and close the jar with a lid. Again, only fill the jar about 2/3 of the way as it will rise. Place it in the fridge until you need it! Leave at least 3 days before you use it though as the wild yeast needs time to develop.

The image below shows how the sourdough ferments after a few days – notice the air bubbles – this is how you know it is a good sourdough. It took me 3 loaves of bread, and sourdough, before mine was really good.

Take your batter and pour into a greased bread tin – you will need a rather large, rectangular one or two smaller ones. I often make mini loaves for the children – they are really sweet! You could use silicone cupcake cases for this if you do not have actual miniature tins.

Once in the greased tin, let the dough rise for two hours under a tea towel before you place it in the warm oven.

The bread will need 1.5 hours at 100C. After this time, turn the oven up to 200C and give it another 1 hour – if you feel it is going too dark simply place some aluminium foil over the top.

When the 2.5 hours are up – turn it out of the tin and listen to it “talking” to you! Don’t laugh…it really does! You know that the bread is good if it crackles and hisses when you listen to the bottom of it.

The smell in your kitchen will be phenomenal at this point and you will, no doubt, be tempted to slice it open, butter it and eat it all! DON’T! As with any fresh bread, it needs time to sit and collect itself before you slice it.

Wrap a damp tea towel around it and put it back in the oven, now turned off but still warm, with its top down. Let it stay in there like this until the oven is cold, then transfer to a plastic ziplock bag – to retain the moisture in the bread – and place in the fridge. It will be ready for you to eat the next morning – or a good half day after being put in the fridge.

I know it sounds awfully complicated and labour filled – the first time you make it, it is! But once you get into the rhythm it takes no time at all and you fit it into your day.

Stunning fresh rye bread!

These are some ways I LOVE to eat mine. I always toast it on high to make it nice and crisp and then…

 Pan fried cod roe with lemon…heaven!

Avocado, pepper and sea salt…a fibre health bomb of deliciousness! 

The children’s favourite…cheddar and jam! 

My, sometimes, mid-morning snack! Cheddar and orange/elderflower marmelade…doesn’t get much better! 

So there you have it – Danish Rugbrød! Very much a part of my food culture and filled with goodness. Serve it for breakfast with cheese – fibre and calcium covered! For lunch with pate and cucumber, cheese and a slice of red pepper (vitamin C), hummus and ham (protein)…so many options! For dinner it is great served with an omelette…

It freezes well so make a double portion and freeze one loaf – pre-sliced maybe – then all you have to do is pop a few slices in the toaster and you are off to a great meal or snack!

Chocolate Brownie Cake

This recipe is fantastic if you want a quick cooking activity to do with the children. Makes a delicious pudding too and it is a good one to bring along to a friend’s house! Fool proof and easy, the children could almost make it without you!

50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa content or more)
100g soft butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
225g sugar
2 eggs
50g flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
  • Preheat oven to 180C – grease a 20cm tin with a bit of butter and dust with sugar – or any other shape to be honest –
  • In a small saucepan, place the chocolate (broken into pieces), the butter and vanilla essence. Gently let it melt – LOW heat!
  • Transfer the melted mixture to a bowl and throw in the sugar – let your little ones beat this with a wooden spoon.
  • When the mixture is smooth add the eggs and stir!
  • Combine flour, baking powder and pinch of salt in a bowl and add to the chocolate mixture.
  • Keep beating with the wooden spoon until smooth and well combined.
  • Pour the batter into your pre-greased tin and ensure you spread it out to all corners.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes – you want the edges to be firm but the middle to be nice and springy.
  • Let it cool for about 15 minutes, then cut the cake into squares and let cool on a wire rack.
  • If you want to present it whole, simply turn onto wire rack and let cool. Decorate to taste.
  • You can cut into brownie shapes too.
  • If you like walnuts in your brownie add about 50g of these with the flour.

American Style Pancakes

These have become our regular Sunday breakfast! The children know and race to the table…Easy and delicious and, if covered in fruit, not too unhealthy!

125g flour
2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp baking powder
240ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
  • In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients
  • In a separate bowl, combine milk, vanilla, oil and egg and stir
  • Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry until just combined – do not over stir
  • Heat your pan and grease lightly – very little is needed as there is oil in the batter
  • Once pan very hot – pour batter on in small circles. In a 26″ pan you should be able to fit three

There are many ways to serve these:

  • Syrup and butter
  • Syrup and pieces of fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and banana are fab
  • Nutella
  • Sugar and lemon
  • Honey
  • Jam
  • Peanut Butter
  • Yogurt and honey
  • Plain