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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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 #2 – Quick dip!

Girls night in? Afternoon snack? Buffet lunch? This is your recipe!

Stunning in colour and taste, very quick to make, stress free preparation = more time time to ENJOY what really matters!

150g soft goat cheese
250g ricotta
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
1 bunch of chives
1 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
(Found on BBC Good Food website)
 
  • Mash the goat’s cheese and ricotta together in a bowl
  • Roughly spread over a large plate
  • Wash and prepare the pomegranate seeds (read tips here) and chives
  • Scatter chives and seeds over the goat’s cheese and ricotta and set aside until ready to serve
  • Stir together the honey and vinegar –  drizzle over the plate just as you serve it
  • Serve with crusty bread, thin crisps, bread sticks or toasted rye bread

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!

Christmas Bird Feeders

Those regularly reading will know that I made our children an activity based advent calendar this year. So far it has been great fun and yesterday’s activity was to make Christmas Bird Feeders. Before you read on I must stress that it was absolutely amazing to make this activity – the execution of it was, however, slightly disastrous!

First the positives – apart from being quick and simple, it is a lovely way to involve the children in a bit of nature and to have a chance to talk to them about the outdoors and also for them to be able to see the instant benefits of something they do.

As for ingredients, I figured lard and seeds would do the trick…well….hrhm….partly true is all I can say. Here is what we did – the children absolutely loved this by the way with my eldest claiming it is the best activity yet. That comment,  for it being a non-edible activity, is quite a statement!!

  • Melt a square or two of lard in a saucepan (one will make about 6 large-ish shapes)

  • In a bowl, add bird seeds (buy in any large supermarket or pet shop) and pour lard over the top. Let the children stir. It is fine for it to be a little wet as it quickly sets when it cools.

  • Lay a piece of baking parchment on the table and pick a cookie cutter shape (Christmas shapes of course! Stars, Santa, Candy Cane, Reindeer) to lay on top of the parchment
  • Fill the shape half way with seed/lard mixture. Lay string into the mix and fill over the top – this to have something to hang the feeder with

  • Leave cold to set – I left ours outside, covered, over night
  • When set, press out and hang from a tree in your garden (or sit them on branches as I did with some of the heavier ones)!

  • Enjoy watching the birds flock in!

PS – it was the pressing out bit that completely did not work for me! Some of our shapes had quite intricate designs  – snowflake – and the smaller bits simply broke and dissolved! The lard was too soft on its own – maybe it should have been a mix of peanut butter and lard…Do not have the answer I am afraid! I recommend using big shapes – stars for example – as they yield lovely results!

We had a fantastic time making them, and every age group could complete it on their own! The feeders are hanging and attracting birds which is also great! So not a complete disaster…simply not as straight forward as I thought!! 🙂

I had seen a blog on this – and I wanted to credit the blogger – but I have searched all morning for the post and simply cannot find it! So if you have seen one, then that is probably where I was inspired! 🙂

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.

Lemon Dressing

This is quick to shake together and really lovely on salads or fish or meat…. I use it a lot!

 

3 parts olive oil
1 part white wine vinegar
Juice of a lemon
Some lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Pour it all into a jar – add seasoning – shake! It will go lovely and creamy as olive oil blends with lemon
  • Will keep a week in the fridge