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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Banana and Oat Pancakes

DSC_0067

People always laugh at my putting oats into everything – but I do.

I add it to savoury dishes, to desserts, in drinks and, as this recipe will show, in breakfast or brunch pancakes. Why? Well, rather than using flour which leaves me feeling bloated and uncomfortable most of the time, oats fill me up, leave no nasty side effects and have very little flavour which means they can be used in most recipes. Oats are high in fibre and antioxidants however they do contain gluten, unless you buy gluten-free oats. The gluten content is very low though.

Eating oats carries many benefits, amongst others:

– stabilising blood sugar
– enhancing immune system
– removing cholesterol from the blood system

(read more here)

Bananas are, like oats, a great source of fibre and naturally sweet which means no added sugar is needed.

This recipe developed because we, as a family, had the habit of always eating pancakes together on a Sunday morning. Life is so busy, especially with three children and all that comes with them, and Sunday mornings were our quiet time. Our family time. But it was very sugar filled and ultimately we agreed that this must change. So the challenge was to create a treat, in the children’s eyes, that would be healthy. Banana and oat pancakes were born!

Banana and Oat Pancakes (makes three small, round pancakes)

1 ripe banana (the more ripe, the sweeter the pancakes)

1 egg

2 tbsp whole rolled oats (or any oats you have)

Coconut butter for frying (coconut butter is magic! Read more here)

  • Mash the banana in a bowl with a fork
  • Crack the egg and add it to the banana – stir the two together
  • Add the oats – if you prefer more dry pancakes you can add three tablespoons
  • Heat a teaspoon of coconut butter in a frying pan
  • Once melted and the pan is hot, add the pancake batter creating three round pancakes using a large spoon
  • Fry for a few minutes then flip over and fry for a further minute or so.
  • Transfer to a plate and eat either as they are or drizzled with Greek yogurt, honey and some goji berries (or any berries for that matter).
  • They will be fluffy, sweet and keep you satisfied for many hours. Enjoy.

Coconut butterRaw pancakesready

Yum - a sprinkle of shredded coconut.

Mango and Spinach Smoothie

Breakfast Smoothie

I have been trying to eat different kinds of breakfasts lately as I was getting bored with porridge and fruit.  As I started looking into healthier, yet still filling, alternatives, I was led down the smoothie route.

This one is a nice way to start off as it is mild and does not contain anything very scary…I guess spinach might be scary for some, especially when combined with the word breakfast, but give it a go. For those of you with children, who do not eat a lot of fruit or veg, this is a sure winner. The colour might put them off – healthy green – however the taste will have them asking for more. Let them try a teaspoon and see what happens…

As for health, spinach is one of the greatest leafy greens (and can be substituted for kale in this recipe if you prefer). It belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family (also known as goosefoot), a family of nutritional powerhouses including beets, chard and quinoa. It shares a similar taste profile with these two other vegetables; the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavour of chard. Spinach is rich in iron which, as you probably know, plays a central role in the function of red blood cells which help in transporting oxygen around the body, in energy production and DNA synthesis. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health and it is difficult to find vegetables richer in vitamin K than spinach. Have a read here for more details (BBC Good Food). A great food to fill up on for anyone but especially if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Mango is another super healthy element to this breakfast. It improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, it is rich in iron, is said to improve concentration and memory and last, but certainly not least, Vitamin E, which helps to regulate sex hormones and boosts sex drive, is abundantly present in mangoes… Read more here (Health Mango).

So feed it to your children before exams or simply in the mornings to help them concentrate, feed them to yourself to improve digestion and maybe slip your partner some….:-)

Mango and Spinach Smoothie

1 banana (if very ripe it will make smoothie sweeter)

1 apple

2 handfuls of fresh spinach (or kale)

1 large handful of frozen mango (if you buy fresh, then cut into wedges and freeze)

100ml of cold water (if smoothie seems too thick simply add a bit more)

  • Slice the banana and apple and put them in a tall blender
  • Add mango, spinach and water
  • Blend for a good 2-3 minutes to ensure a smooth drink
  • Pour into a nice glass…makes it look tastier!
  • Enjoy!

(You can add other fruit – I threw in a few strawberries after I had taken the first picture…hence the small red dots in the glass)

Fruit DSC_0011 (3)Yum

 

Quinoa and vegetable stuffed aubergines

Quinoa and vegetable aubergine

 

It’s been a while, a long while in fact, and I have missed my blog, my food photography and being inspired by fresh ingredients. A walk to the local farmers market today, however, hit the spot! Luckily I was hungry and decided I would buy my lunch from the fresh vegetable stall….

Aubergine. I was first introduced to this fruit (yes, fruit!) by my Sicilian husband. It is a staple food there but not so common in Denmark where I am from. I have grown to absolutely love it and eat it a few times a week now. It is very versatile and can be used in lasagne, baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella to make a “parmigiana”, simply grilled and served with meat or baked and made into dips. Stunning.

Although it’s technically a fruit (a berry, to be exact), the aubergine is used as a vegetable. It’s native to South-East Asia, but is grown all over the world, and there are many different varieties, including the bulbous, glossy, deep purple zepplin-like types common to Mediterranean cuisine; the small, tubular Asian types; the small, plump and ivory examples (hence ‘eggplant’, its name in the United States and Australia); or the scarcely bigger than a pea varieties grown in Thailand (BBC Good Food).

In terms of health, look no further! Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamins B1, B6 and potassium. In addition they are high in the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese. Aubergines are furthermore high in fibre and low in fat and therefore recommended for those managing type 2 diabetes or managing weight concerns. There is a great article to read on all the health benefits here (BBC Good Food).

Quinoa is magic too (click on link to read more)….and coconut oil is amazing! I have replaced all my cooking oils with it and even have it in my coffee!! Read why here). Finally kale (click to read) – yum!! This recipe is a winner both in taste and health!

So let’s get to the recipe shall we? I tell you – it is the best lunch I have had in a long time and was relatively quick to make.

Quinoa and vegetable stuffed Aubergine (serves 2)

1 tsp raw coconut oil

1 medium-sized onion – chopped in small pieces

1 large aubergine (read link above for good tips on buying quality ones)

A little olive oil (to drizzle over aubergine)

3 closed cup mushrooms – sliced

2 cloves of garlic – chopped thinly

2 large handfuls of kale

5 cherry tomatoes – sliced in half

A splash of water

Good pinch of sea salt

1/2 a cup of quinoa – boiled

1/3 of a pack of feta cheese

    • Heat oven to 200C.
    • Slice the aubergine in half lengthways. I did not leave the stem intact but you can do. It makes it prettier if you are serving for guests. Using a small knife, cut a border inside each aubergine half. Using a spoon, scoop out the aubergine flesh. You will be left with two shells – brush these with a little olive and place in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes to soften them, then remove from oven.
    • Place a pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil.
    • Finely chop the onions and garlic, as well as the aubergine flesh, and add it to the melted coconut oil. Let it cook and soften a little – 4-5 minutes time – then add a splash of water (this will essentially steam the vegetables rather than overly fry them).
    • Tip in the sliced mushroom, tomatoes and raw kale and let it all simmer under a lid.
    • In a separate pot add some water and the quinoa and bring to boil. Let it simmer for 15 minutes before draining using a sieve. Once drained, add the cooked quinoa to the vegetables and season with the sea salt.
    • Break the feta cheese into pieces and mix into the vegetable/quinoa pot. Give it a good stir.
    • Pile the vegetable and quinoa stuffing into the shells and re-heat for 5-10 minutes. If you are a real cheese lover you can sprinkle some more feta or mozzarella on top and let it melt.
    • Serve as it is or with a green salad and a piece of grilled meat or fish.
    • ENJOY!

Stuffed AubergineStuffed Aubergine

 

Autumn and I return – Blackberry and Apple Loaf

Blackberries

Cannot believe I have not posted since the Spring. Somehow lost my focus, but an amazing holiday in Denmark and Norway has completely inspired me to cook again.

Why, you may wonder?

The list is long however one word, maybe two…or three, sums up the impressions our summer holiday left with me.

Natural – Wholesome – Simple

Bread is not just bread; it is seeded, it is rye, it is wholemeal, it has nuts in it, berries – dark chocolate. Wow! That is one recipe that will be shared eventually!

The environment is not just used; it is adored, appreciated, cherished, looked after. Every turn takes your breath away. Every turn inspires dreaming and laughter. Maybe some of the dreams created whilst there will be shared eventually!

People are not just strangers that pass you by; they are strong, sturdy, friendly, helpful and kind souls who make a proper effort to make your day better than it already was. True selflessness and kindness. Inspiring.

Walks are not just walks; they are rejuvenating, awe-inspiring, berry picking, soul enlightening miracles. And from the walks come fruit – berries – and from those berries come wonderful recipes. One of which I will share with you now. 🙂

Picking

We had friends over a few weekends ago and went for an amazing walk through fields of clover, parks, over little bridges and close by lakes. All along the way were rows and rows of blackberry bramble; bursting with ripe berries. I made a mental note and promised the children to return with bags and bowls…

For those that have followed this blog for a while, and cooked my recipes, you will know that I always try to incorporate healthy aspects into every meal (almost anyway!).  This gorgeous blackberry and apple loaf is no different. Very easy, very quick – moist – full of flavour, rye and fruit. A great lunch box or after school treat or a lovely Sunday breakfast or tea time surprise for the family.

What goodness will it give you?

  1. Exercise, a smile on your face, your children out of the house and maybe muddy shoes – picking the berries of course!
  2. Vitamin A & C, dietary fibre, heart-healthy fats, potassium and calcium – blackberries are an amazing addition to your diet. They are one of the berries women are advised to eat if they would like a flatter stomach (or so I have heard…)!
  3. Potentially cancer reducing – apple peel has quercetin in it – some studies have shown this to be a cancer reducing food.
  4. Slow releasing energy – rye! Read more here: benefits of rye

No excuses – get your wellingtons on, get into the outdoors, and pick those blackberries before they disappear.

Blackberry and Apple Loaf

150g rye flour

100g plain flour

175g butter (can be substituted for vegetable oil or apple sauce)

100g dark brown unrefined cane sugar

5 tbsp. Demerara sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

Zest of an orange

1 green apple grated (NOT peeled)

225g blackberries

  • Pre heat your oven to 180C
  • Grease a loaf tin using either butter or vegetable oil (approximately 1.5L)
  • Place the two flour types, butter (or oil/applesauce) and two sugar types in a mixing bowl
  • Combine with your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs
  • Take 5 table spoons of this mixture and place it in a separate bowl – you will use this as topping at the end
  • Add the cinnamon to the topping mixture
  • Add the baking powder to the flour mixture
  • In a separate bowl combine eggs, the zest of orange and the grated apple
  • Pour the fruit mixture into the flour mixture and combine with a fork – do not over-mix (this will make a harder textured cake)
  • Gently fold the blackberries into the dough, again making sure not to over-mix
  • Spoon the dough into the loaf tin, sprinkle with the topping and place in the warm oven for approximately 1 hour (or slightly longer depending on your oven/tin etc. Please insert a skewer into the loaf after an hour to check that the dough is fully baked). If the cake starts looking a little dark for your liking simply place some tin foil over the top of it and leave to bake until it has finished.
  • Let it cool in the tin on a wire rack for a good 30 minutes before removing.
  • Serve as is or with crème fraiche/ice cream/custard….
  • (the little jar in the pictures below contains blackberry and ginger compote – great with cheese! That recipe will have to follow)

(for more information on the healthy benefits of almost anything: http://health.learninginfo.org/)

ApplesBlackberry and Apple LoafFinished LoafAs a gift?

Family Dinners #2 – Cheese and Ham stuffed Chicken Breasts

Another family dinner favourite! As I type, our 6-year-old is on my lap eagerly asking ” OOhhh we love those! Can we have them for dinner?!”

I make these rolls with either turkey or chicken breast and as a meal it is quite economical seeing that you want the meat cut ever so thinly in order to be able to roll it. A pack of 400-500g of meat therefore feeds all five of us, and all three children are good eaters!

Serve the meat with hand cut chips, feta cheese and tomato cous cous, lots of greens (pak choi is a grown up household favourite and the children like broccoli, corn) or a big plate of fresh peppers/cucumber/carrots with hummus.

The meat cooks in the oven, no frying involved, and because of the ham and cheese it is ever so tender when ready, not to mention full of flavour. The bread crumbs add a nice crisp to each bite but is not necessary.

Cheese and Ham Stuffed Chicken Breasts

500g chicken breast (will make about 8-10 rolls)
2 pieces of sliced bread – to make bread crumbs (you can buy these if you want of course)
A few tablespoons of olive oil
A few fresh basil leaves per meat roll
2 slices of cheese per meat roll
1 slice of ham per meat roll
 
  • Pre-heat your oven to 200C
  • Place the slices of bread in the oven as it heats up – keep an eye on them as you want them very crisp but not burnt!
  • On a cutting board, and with a very sharp knife, slice the chicken breast pieces in half. Ideally you want each piece to be no thicker than 1cm.
  • On each slice of meat, lay a slice of ham and cheese as well as some basil leaves (to make some of them more “grown up” you can spice them up with some fresh chilli or spread a layer of pesto on the inside)
  • Roll the meat up – no need to fasten them but if you want you can put a tooth pick at each end to ensure they remain shut
  • Your bread pieces will now be crisp – place them in a food processor and blend them on high speed for a few seconds – add salt and pepper and spread the bread crumbs out evenly on a large, flat plate
  • Coat each chicken roll with olive oil (easiest done by putting oil in a plate and rolling the chicken in it)
  • Then transfer the chicken rolls to the breadcrumbs and coat evenly with these.
  • Lay the finished rolls on a lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 25 minutes
  • The cheese will be runny and the bread crumbs crisp – so nice!

Pomegranate #5 – Curry!

I am ending the pomegranate series on a high! This is absolutely stunning – rich and deep in flavour while still being fresh and incredibly healthy.

Indian in its flavour, rather than Thai, it does not have all the fat that comes with coconut milk and is also less spicy – brave children will like this one!

Prawn and Pomegranate Curry

(adapted from Food and Wine magazine recipe)

Seeds of half a pomegranate (tips on how to remove these here)
1/2 cup water
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 tsp curry powder
1 red chilli, chopped (omit if making for children)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
500g prawns
Handful coriander
 
  • Place pomegranate seeds and water in a cup
  • Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and add chopped onion and curry powder – stir until the onions turn soft (3-5 minutes)
  • Add the garlic and chilli and stir
  • Add the pomegranate water mix as well as the chopped tomatoes and season with sugar, salt and pepper – the sugar is primarily included to counteract the acidity that comes with tinned tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatoes you can leave out the sugar
  • Cook for about 15 minutes stirring often
  • Add the prawns and let them cook with the mixture for about 3 minutes – you want them cooked but not hard. If using pre cooked prawns simply add for about a minute before serving to ensure they heat through
  • Just before serving, stir through half of the coriander
  • Serve by laying large ladlefuls on a plate – with either brown rice or naan bread – and sprinkle coriander and a few pomegranate seeds over it for presentation
  • Savour it! Glorious!