Gourmet Beef Burgers

by Susan Smith in , ,


Almost every evening after dinner, we go for a three mile walk around the outskirts of the village where we live. Aside from helping us to attain a self-imposed daily fitness goal of at least 10,000 steps, it’s a wonderful opportunity to say ‘hello' to numerous four-legged friends that we regularly meet and greet along the way. Amongst them, four horses, some special canine characters - Star, George, Rosie, Eric, Oscar and Alfie to name but a few - grazing sheep, the llamas that live with the sheep to protect them from foxes, and numerous cats who, when they see Sarah approach, literally run over to her to be fussed and stroked. There’s a suggestion of Walt Disney about our walks…save for a couple of spoilers.

The first is that one of ‘our’ horses is old, alone and extremely dirty. Her mucky face, constantly weeping eyes and un-groomed body attracts hoards of flies that readily exploit her poor condition and clearly irritate her beyond measure. She is my favourite. A gentle soul who, when called, snorts, nickers and blows us greetings as she slowly and tentatively makes her way from the farthest end of her field to receive the healthy snack of organic apples and carrots that awaits her. Until last week, we thought she was incapable of moving any faster, but then she surprised us. One evening after she’d been fed, she lay down on the ground in front of us and did what can only be described as a ‘victory roll’ of appreciation. The next day, as we walked away, she came with us - galloping at full speed alongside the hedge separating her field from the lane where we were continuing our walk. Truly heart-warming! It’s clear to us that almost all animals love and want to be loved.

The second is the bullocks that used to stand cheek-to-jowl in the adjacent over-crowded shed to watch our nightly horse feeding ritual almost certainly craved some loving act of kindness. Sadly, it wasn’t ours to give. These permanently confined sentient beings were kept for months on end, unable to move freely and without access to fresh grass even at the height of last summer’s heatwave. We always stopped to talk to them and, looking into their soulful eyes, their boredom and neglect was almost tangible. They’re gone now…we presume raised for beef and slaughtered. Although more fortunate than factory-farmed animals, the unnatural way these animals were forced to live is a moral mistake that leaves us with very little appetite for meat.

For the sake of Sushi the cat, whose health naturally depends on meat and fish, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that all animals survive and thrive by the seemingly barbaric act of killing other animals lower down in the food chain. Twice, through dietary interventions I’ve brought her back from the brink of “incurable” conditions that, in the vet’s opinion, warranted euthanasia. If food is medicine, chicken bone broth appears to be an elixir for health and longevity. Feeding it to Sushi every day for the past two years has seemingly transformed her back to ‘kittenhood’…or so you’d think, if you met her. Her coat is shiny, her appetite hearty and her energy levels amazing. Stands to reason, whatever she’s having, we all need some of it!

The Primal food laws are: Eat whole, real foods, avoid unnecessary carbs and don’t fear fat and animal protein. We prefer to eat a primarily plant-based diet but Sushi’s remarkable recovery has persuaded me to make my peace with eating more animal protein. As well as a regular supply of chicken bone broth for Sushi and ourselves, I also cook a couple of meals a week that centre around organic, grass-fed red meat (primarily for its iron and vitamin B12 content), free-range organic chicken or sustainably-caught wild fish (for Omega 3 fatty acids). Animal products are only as nutritious as the food they are fed on and the care they get while being raised so it behoves health-conscious, compassionate cooks to put their money where their mouth is and support organic farming. Buying organic food is not expensive when you factor in the extra cost, time and dedication that organic farmers expend in producing nutritionally dense meat, milk, eggs and cheese from animals that are raised in a natural environment with full consideration for their welfare.

Today’s post for Gourmet Beef Burgers is a celebration of ‘Organic September’. The award-winning recipe for the ready-made beef burgers isn’t mine but it does provide the perfect opportunity for a well-deserved shout out for both Brown Cow Organics and Abel & Cole

For convenience, I buy Brown Cow’s Guernsey beef burgers from Abel & Cole. Unfortunately, when they arrive vacuum-packed they look more like beef ‘splats’ than the gourmet burgers featured on Brown Cow Organic’s website! First impressions count, so the first job is to quickly re-shape them. Note: Any gourmet burger worth its salt must have depth to it to fully appreciate its juicy succulence when cooked and should only be defined “gourmet” if it requires ludicrous amounts of paper towel or napkins to eat it!

For maximum gustatory pleasure, the toasted keto bread rolls and homemade basil mayonnaise are mandatory. Not a problem since both are best made in advance. To finish, just whiz a large handful of fresh basil leaves into homemade mayonnaise a couple of hours before serving and toast the halved bread rolls in a dry griddle pan at the same time you’re cooking the burgers.

After selecting your preferred salad accompaniments, e.g. lettuce, watercress, rocket, slices of tomato, radish, avocado or cucumber, you’re ready to do an ‘assembly job’. I like to stack the ingredients ‘sky high’ - to the extent that it usually requires a bamboo skewer to hold everything together. Making them visually enticing is the primary objective, not ease of eating! Only Sarah ever manages to work her way through an entire burger whilst holding it in her hand. But even if you can hold it together, there’s no chance of being la-di-dah when tucking-in to one of these bad boys! 

Fast, fun food doesn’t have to be ultra processed junk. Very satisfyingly (to me at least), these keto-friendly Gourmet Beef Burgers are light years away from a ‘Big Mac’ or the ironically named ‘Happy Meal’ for kids. There’s nothing ‘happy’ about filling a child’s belly with beef from cows raised on GM crops. Or encouraging them to eat a disturbingly sweet-tasting burger bun made from damaging-to-human-health ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, bleached wheat flour (genetically modified to withstand being sprayed with Glyphosate - a herbicide proven to cause cancer), toxic soybean and canola oils (also genetically modified). Or turning a blind eye to the pro-inflammatory effects of the polyunsaturated vegetable oil that Mackie D’s use to cook their fries. What you need to know is that MD’s fries aren’t just potato, salt and oil as you might imagine, but are manufactured with seventeen other “shocking” ingredients. Still “lovin it?” I thinketh not!

Whereas, Sarah recently found herself spontaneously retching at the mere smell of a McDonalds (quite rightly!), she would tell you that these Gourmet Beef Burgers are one of “the best meals ever!” Serve them at an informal gathering of friends or family, perhaps with some low-carb ice cream for dessert, and I doubt you’ll hear any dissenting voices drowning out enthusiastic grunts of approval.

Sarah’s photos are probably the best way to show you how to make these Gourmet Beef Burgers. Have fun!

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Gourmet Beef Burgers (serves 4)

Ingredients

2 packs (2x 180g) Brown Cow Organics Guernsey Beef Burgers

2 tbsp organic, grass-fed gheefor frying 

4 keto bread rolls

Ingredients - to serve

Salad e.g. lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, radish, avocado, watercress, rocket etc. 

4 heaped tbsp organic mayonnaise (preferably homemade - see Notes below)

10 g fresh organic basil leaves

Plus,

4 mini bamboo skewers - optional

Instructions

Pre-make the keto bread rolls and 3-minute mayo up to 24 hours in advance.

Several hours before you intend to eat, re-shape the ready-prepared portions of beef into burgers about 3.5” in diameter and x 0.75” deep. Cover and refrigerate until half an hour before you want cook them. Then take them out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature.

Whilst the burgers are ‘coming to’ prepare the salad ingredients, cover and set aside.

Using a hand-held stick blender, combine the fresh basil leaves and mayonnaise together until smooth and green. Set aside and keep cool.

Melt the ghee in a large frying pan over a high heat. Meanwhile, halve the bread rolls and place them cut side down into a dry frying or griddle pan set over a medium-hot heat.

When the ghee is fully melted and sizzling, place the burgers into the pan and fry for 4 minutes. Carefully turn with the aid of a spatula and cook the other side for another 4 minutes.

From time to time, check the keto bread rolls. There’s no need to turn them over - you just want them hot and toasty.

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Once the beef burgers have been fried on both sides for an initial 4 minutes, flip them over again and cook the first side for further 2-4 minutes. Flip again to cook the other side for 2-4 minutes more. N.B. Total cooking time is 12-16 minutes, depending on whether you want your burgers to be slightly pink in the middle or completely cooked through. If in doubt, use a sharp knife to cut into one to check that it’s done to your liking.

Place the bottom halves of the toasted bread rolls on to 4 warm serving plates. Build as much height as you can by layering the salad on top of the beef burger. Finish with a large dollop of basil mayonnaise before pressing the other half of the bread rolls firmly down on top.

Pass the problem of imminent collapse over to your guests by skewering the burgers together from top to bottom with mini bamboo skewers.

Serve with plenty of paper napkins and don’t mind messy eating!

Notes

I’ve updated and improved Primal Plate’s original 3-Minute Mayonnaise recipe by changing-up the oils and altering their amounts. The rest of the ingredients and instructions remain the same. Here’s the revised recipe (with changes in bold):

3-Minute Macadamia Nut Oil Mayonnaise

Ingredients

2 organic eggs 

2½ tbsp organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

½ tsp sea salt or Himalayan Pink salt

a good grinding of organic pepper 

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia

200 ml cold-press macadamia nut oil

50 ml organic cold-pressed olive oil

Instructions

Place all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container in the order listed above.

Using a hand-held stick blender, blend everything together until it emulsifies into a pale, creamy mayonnaise. Takes about 30 seconds!

Taste and add a little more lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if liked.

Transfer to a glass container and seal with an airtight lid. Use within 5 days.

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Fat 14g  Protein 41g Carbohydrate 0g - per Guernsey Beef Burger

Fat 21g  Protein 13g Carbohydrate 3g - per keto bread roll

Fat 30g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 0g - per serving of Basil Mayonnaise


Low-Carb Rose & Raspberry Ice Cream

by Susan Smith in


I’ve recently been channeling my inner child ‘sunshine style’ with gourmet beef burgers and homemade ice cream eaten ‘al fresco’. My only dilemma was which recipe to feature first on Primal Plate’s blog. Given that the hot weather continues unabated, this gorgeous rose and raspberry ice cream, inspired by an English country garden at the height of summer, took priority because in unrelenting heat who doesn’t crave something refreshing to cool down? 

One mouthful of this sophisticated ice instantly tells you that carbohydrate restriction doesn’t mean giving up the foods that give you most pleasure. Low-Carb Rose & Raspberry Ice Cream’s bright and showy presentation actually made me laugh out loud when I first brought it to the table but what really sets this glamorous ice cream apart is the double-whammy of silky-smooth creaminess from organic cream and Mascarpone cheese. The light, fresh flavour of dairy, intensely sweet-sour flavour of ripe raspberries and subtle floral perfume of rose harmoniously combine with each other to make an especially delicious keto ice cream. 

If you like eating ice cream and are following a vLCHF (very Low Carbohydrate, Healthy Fat) diet, this beauty comes with a 100% happiness guarantee!

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Low-Carb Rose & Raspberry Ice Cream (serves 8)

Ingredients

200 g organic frozen raspberries

1-2 tbsp organic vodka, chilled

240 ml organic double cream, chilled

3 large organic egg yolks

3 tbsp Sukrin Icing sugar, sieved 

1 tbsp organic rose water

1 organic lemon, just the zest, finely grated 

225 g organic mascarpone cheese, chilled

To serve:

Dried or fresh organic rose petals

Fresh or frozen organic raspberries

Organic freeze-dried raspberry powder

Sprigs of fresh organic lemon balm or mint

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Instructions

Take the raspberries from the freezer half an hour before you start to make the ice cream. Tip them onto a large flat plate and allow them to defrost.

Meanwhile, whip the cream lightly until soft peaks just start to form. Set aside and keep cool in the refrigerator.

Puree the defrosted raspberries and vodka together in a blender. You can pass the puree through a fine sieve if you don’t like the seeds but I don’t bother. Set aside.    

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, Sukrin icing sugar, rose extract and finely grated lemon zest until pale and fluffy - takes about 5 minutes using an electric whisk. 

Whisk in the mascarpone cheese and pureed raspberries, then fold in the whipped cream.

Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze until soft-set following the manufacturer’s instructions*.

Scrape the soft-set ice cream into a freezer proof container quickly smoothing it out on top. Cover the surface with a layer of waxed paper before sealing with a lid and freezing until solid. 

*Alternatively, pour the mixture into a container with a lid and place in the freezer. Stir the ice cream every fifteen minutes or so until it firms up - it will take about 1-1.5 hours.

 

Notes

Homemade ice cream, especially one made without sugar, tends to go rock solid and the longer it’s left in the freezer the harder it gets. The first time I made a batch of this ice cream I let it set overnight. By the next day it was nigh impossible to scoop and I got so frustrated with waiting for dessert I ended up smashing the glass container it was stored in! Alcohol doesn’t freeze, so I subsequently added a small amount of vodka to the recipe to keep this ice cream the right side of solid without overpowering or altering its original taste. This means it’s an ice cream for adults only. If, like me, you find patience boring please don’t take a hammer and chisel to it! Just remember to take it out of the freezer and keep in a refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before attempting to make the perfect scoop.

Using frozen rather than fresh raspberries makes this ice cream trans-seasonal. So pretty and fresh-tasting, I can see myself serving it for dessert on Christmas Day! 

 

Fat 32g Protein 3g Carbohydrates 6g - per serving

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Grilled Mackerel With Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress

by Susan Smith in ,


Today’s blog post is for a complete summer meal that’s easy to prepare when you have a lot on your plate. Including whizzing together a batch of Macadamia Oil Mayo (I always keep a jar of this at-the-ready in my fridge), everything can be brought together in less than half an hour. It’s healthy, its quick, it’s delish! This year, when the first Jersey Royal potatoes came into season, I couldn’t resist making a real potato salad (cold, pre-cooked potatoes are an excellent source of resistant starch) and it actually took me longer to scrape the papery skins off the potatoes than it takes to make this entire meal! Henceforth, I shall live without pesky potatoes!

It’s the labour intensive ‘potato-peeling’ type of cooking chore that’s been fully exploited by food corporations and made their marketing hype so successful. They’ve convinced society that ’fast’ food and ready meals are quicker, cheaper and easier to get on the table. However, I disagree. You can make Grilled Mackerel with Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress in less time than it takes to order a takeaway and have it delivered. It’s probably cheaper too. And obviously, better for your health.

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Actually, food corporations don’t cook; they process deadly ingredients sourced from the cheapest, most consistently available form of food, namely genetically engineered crops, grown with toxic chemicals. Do you really believe pesticide laden, genetically engineered, processed food - food that could never be created by nature - isn’t disastrous for human health? Whilst most people crave these edible abominations and see them as desirable ‘convenience’ foods, I can’t think of many things more inconvenient than being dependant on fake food contaminated with toxic chemicals. Processed food is chock-full of refined sugar, chemically altered fats, refined carbohydrates and other processed ingredients poisonous to humans that are a root cause of many food-related diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

It’s not just biotech giants, industrial farming, food corporations and other toxic chemical food polluters that assault your body. Doctors have been delivering terrible advice for decades. Instead of focusing on the prevention and reversal of obesity and disease by tackling its underlying cause, which is eating modern foods incompatible with our genes, doctors respond to the body’s cries for help by intervening with drugs or surgery to suppress symptoms. Why the medical establishment hasn’t been sued for actually causing bodily harm beats me!

Of course, they are reluctant to admit their mistake, so it could be a very long time before doctors get behind public health advice telling its citizens to return to eating the natural, unprocessed food that was consumed before obesity and diabetes reached epidemic proportions. The fact that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree was highlighted in a recent BBC1 programme called The Big Crash Diet Experiment. The ‘experiment’ presented itself as an hitherto unknown (at least to doctors), revolutionary treatment for the obesity and diabetes crisis and, if you believe everything you see on TV, the spectacularly successful results really took the doctors by surprise. After all, who knew that a very low calorie diet triggers ketosis, which accelerates weight loss, lowers blood sugar levels and reverses the symptoms of diabetes? Awww, c’mon guys! That would just be me and an entire Primal Health community then!

But still they can’t help themselves. In sharp contrast to the natural, LCHF (ketogenic) whole food diet promoted by Primal Plate, the doctors’ solution was to by-pass any requirement for cooking skills and feed four grossly overweight volunteers highly processed, low-calorie, meal replacement products (a.k.a. The Cambridge Diet)…naturally, under strict medical supervision! They then pronounced themselves the successful innovators of a drug-free advance in modern medicine that could save the NHS millions of pounds. Stop right there! I have never seen a more miserable group of people than the programme’s volunteers, who were made to suffer deprivation and hunger in a ludicrous attempt to limit calorie intake by eating synthetic packaged meal replacements soups and shakes cobbled together in a science lab. This is not my idea of healthcare, nor is it sustainable.

However, if your long-term goal is to get fat and sick, go for it! Last time I looked, products like SlimFast are loaded with chemical thickeners, sugar, artificial sweeteners (e.g. aspartame, maltodextrin and ace-sulfame K), inflammatory vegetable oils (soy and sunflower), carageenan (linked to cancer of the gut), modified maize and soy proteins (genetically modified) and cheap vitamins that are poorly absorbed. 

Here’s a piece of ancestral wisdom based on your genes and human evolution: Cooking nutritionally dense food is where it’s at! If you want to eat well, lose weight and feel great for the rest of your life, you’re going to have to reclaim control over what you’re eating, which means prioritising some time to cooking real, fresh foods. So why has home cooking got such a bad rap since the 1970’s? Because clever advertising duped people into believing that cooking is too hard, too complicated and too time consuming. You can see its effect in society at large (pun intended), there’s an obvious correlation between a preference for eating high carbohydrate, processed food and increasing rates of obesity and chronic diseases.

Notwithstanding the profits-before-people economy at the heart of agriculture, restaurants and fast food industries, we recently decided to eat out and were reminded just how unsatisfying and expensive it can be. In exchange for some promotional photos she’d supplied to a local restaurant, Sarah had been given a £50 voucher that had to be redeemed before the end of June 2018, so it was simply a case of use it or lose it. We each selected a main course off the Early Bird menu, took our Üllo wine purifier to filter our non-organic wine at the table, decided not to negotiate the chorizo part of the dish for something more to our taste, and came home hungry! Total ‘early bird’ price £72.50 + gratuity. That doesn’t seem like good value to me.

Let me compare. Fresh, mackerel fillets, rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, take no longer than 4-5 minutes to cook under a hot grill. Make-ahead, keto ‘potato' salad, can be assembled several hours before you want to eat it and takes about 15-20 minutes to make, including boiling the eggs and making a batch of mayo. Opening a packet of watercress adds 30 seconds. Finito!

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Using premium-priced, organic ingredients (you can buy these cheaper at most supermarkets), Grilled Mackerel Fillets with Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress, will feed three people, including a good bottle of organic, low sulphite wine for just £24.70 or £8.23 per person. Say what?

How can home cooked food be “too expensive” or “too time consuming” when there are literally dozens of healthy, delicious meals that can be prepared within half an hour for less than the £8 or so it costs to buy a single gin and tonic or decent glass of wine at your local? This is even before you factor-in the future cost of disability and ill-health because you neglected to eat right. The question is whether you think the rewards of sourcing fresh, preferably organic food and preparing your entire meal is worth the effort. If you’re willing to invest the time and money you’re going to be a lot healthier. Being taught how to cook nutritious food that supports your body is what true healthcare is about. It’s people that don’t cook that get into trouble with diseased states.

Whilst ever public health is stuck in the past and resistant to change, you’ll need to pick a team. Food as medicine is not exactly a revolutionary idea, even to doctors, but you will need to decide whether you’re willing to continue on with the botched up, calamitous, health strategies that allopathic medicine, pharmaceutical companies and food industries have subjugated us all to, or whether to take a more do-it-yourself approach by respecting your hunter gatherer genes and choosing food consistent with your biology. Namely, a higher fat diet that doesn’t include poisonous modern foods such as refined sugar, grains and chemically altered fats and dairy. 

I’d like to start a cooking rebellion. The only way to safely stop obesity and other diet-related disease in its tracks is to remove people’s addiction for highly processed food and to replace it with more pleasurable alternatives. In the case of food, nothing is more delicious than a nutrient-dense, primally aligned, high-fat, moderate-protein and properly prepared, low-carbohydrate diet. 

Grilled Mackerel With Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad and Watercress is a good place to start. 

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Grilled Mackerel With Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress (Serves 4) 

Ingredients - for Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad

1 medium-large organic cauliflower 

75 g organic sour cream or organic crème fraîche

120 g Macadamia Oil Mayo (see recipe in Notes below)

Himalayan pink salt, to taste

freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste

4 large organic eggs, hard-boiled (see Notes below)

2 large organic celery stalks, any outer stringy parts trimmed off with a peeler, then finely diced

2 tbsp fresh organic dill, finely chopped

fresh organic chives, finely chopped - optional

 

Instructions - to make Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad

Boil a kettle of water. Put the boiling water into the bottom of a steamer.

Prepare the cauliflower by cutting the head (you don't need any stalk) into small bite-size florets.

Place the florets into the steamer basket and steam until the cauliflower is only slightly tender, about 4-6 minutes. Plunge into ice cold water, drain well and set aside.

Peel the eggs and reserve two yolks; dice the remainder and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the sour cream and mayonnaise.

Mash the two reserved egg yolks well with the back of a fork, then add to the cream mixture and whisk together until smooth.

Add the cooled cauliflower, diced eggs, celery, and dill to the dressing. Stir to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if you think it needs it.

Garnish with chopped chives immediately before serving cold or at room temperature.

 

Ingredients - for Grilled Mackerel & Watercress

600g sustainably caught, skin-on, fresh mackerel fillets (you need 2 mackerel fillets per person, if there’s any leftover, they freeze well)

Himalayan pink salt

Olive oil, for greasing

100g organic watercress, washed, thick stalks removed

 

Instructions - for Grilled Mackerel

Preheat the grill to Medium-High. 

Line a baking sheet or grill pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil and brush the surface with olive oil.

Dry the mackerel fillets with kitchen paper and season the flesh side with salt.

Lay the mackerel fillets skin side up on the lined baking tray, brush the skin with olive oil and season with salt. 

Grill the fillets for 4 minutes, then if the skin is not already golden brown and crispy, switch the grill to its highest setting and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until it is. 

Serve hot with Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad and a large handful of watercress sprigs. 

 

Notes:

Because your health is under attack from every direction - environmental toxins, ultra-processed foods and GMOs as well as a host of other threats - Primal Plate always features organic ingredients in its recipes. If you can’t find fresh, organic produce, or really can’t afford to buy it, you can still reduce your exposure to pesticides by checking out EWG’s 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It’s recommended that you avoid the Dirty Dozen (virtually impossible when you’re eating out) and only eat non-organic if it’s listed under these Clean-15

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To make Macadamia Oil Mayo:

Ingredients

2 large organic eggs

2½-3 tbsp organic lemon (or lime) juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

½ tsp Himalayan pink salt

freshly ground organic black pepper

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia 

200 ml cold pressed macadamia nut oil

50 ml organic extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Place all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container.

Using a hand-held stick blender, blend everything together until it emulsifies into a pale, creamy mayonnaise. Takes about 30 seconds!

Taste and add a little more lemon/lime juice and seasoning, if liked. N.B. Don’t worry if the mayonnaise seems a little on the runny side when it’s first made. It thickens up to the perfect consistency, when chilled down in a refrigerator. 

Transfer to a glass container and seal with an airtight lid. 

Store in a refrigerator and use within 7 days.

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To steam-boil eggs - boil a kettle of water. Pour about 2.5cm (1 inch) of the boiling water straight from the kettle into a saucepan. 

Place a steaming basket inside the pan and place the eggs into the steamer-basket (I find a collapsible steamer most useful because one-size fits all pans). 

Put the lid on the pan and steam/boil the eggs for 10-12 minutes until hard-boiled. 

 

Fat 56g Protein 18g Carbohydrates 8g - per serving

Fat 30g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 0g - per stand-alone serving of Macadamia Oil Mayo

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Cheddar & Feta Frittata

by Susan Smith in , ,


I should be old enough to know better, but after weeks of ignoring nagging voices telling me Primal Plate must be “GDPR-ready” before 25 May 2018, I finally succumbed to the general confusion by sending out an email to all our blog subscribers, which essentially promised to unsubscribe them by default! Oh, how I despise bureaucracy. Does anyone else recall the ridiculous, government-led Y2K millennium bug scaremongering that told us to prepare for the worst? It was all for naught. And what about the TPS (telephone preference service) that supposedly allows residential phone users to register their wish to opt-out of receiving cold calls? In the nineteen years since we signed up it hasn’t made a jot of difference to the number of nuisance calls we receive. Whilst I agree it’s a good thing to have control over who holds my personal information and for what purpose, I think the hoo-ha and perceived threat of this latest EU legislation is just another sledge hammer to crack a nut. The fact is that data protection enforcement has been extremely lax to date and although, in theory, fines of £500k can be imposed on anyone found flouting the law, I‘m willing to bet no-one will be around to successfully police it. Rant over. If you’re reading this blog, I’m happy you’re still with us and my apologies for last week’s needless attempts to put right your current subscription status, which was never wrong to begin with.

If fathoming out GDPR cost me two days of my life this week, yesterday was a complete wipe-out. I was quietly doing my usual morning face-cleansing ritual in front of my magnifying mirror when to my horror, I sat and watched my right eye - as if in slow motion - fill up with blood! No warning, no obvious reason, no pain, no loss of vision but hell’s teeth, it was frightening! Feeling too faint and too scared to go online to investigate, I was left in a state of shock. Was my brain seeping blood? Was I about to have a stroke? Was my bloodied eye permanently damaged? I had never seen or heard of anyone suffering a trauma as unexpected and dramatic-looking before, so when my husband told me I’d had a subconjunctival haemorrhage and it was completely benign, I was both thankful and relieved. Nevertheless, I took it as a warning to slow down and rest. As someone who can accurately be described as health obsessed, it’s humbling to know I’m not always on point.  I share my experience with you because I believe that stress was the most likely cause of my eye ‘pop’. It’s a reminder that the true “price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it” (saith Henry David Thoreau). From now on I will be more selective!

In the spirit of ‘rest and restore’, I’ve turned to Sabrina Ghayour’s book entitled Feast for today’s recipe for Cheddar & Feta Frittata. A frittata is such a cheap, quick and easy, low-carb, keto meal to prepare and you can use almost any combination of seasonal vegetables with the eggs and cheese and have dinner on the table within half an hour. If I’m feeling really lazy, I don’t even bother with a salad accompaniment. I segment the sizzling frittata still in its pan and simply serve wedges of it with a glass of wine. There are lots of different frittata combos that we enjoy - leeks and blue cheese is another winner - but for now this Cheddar & Feta Frittata with peppers, fresh herbs and chilli should get you into the frittata groove.

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Cheddar & Feta Frittata (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 tbsp organic ghee organic olive oil or macadamia nut oil

1 organic red pepper

1 organic green pepper

4 organic spring onions, cut into very thin slices from root to tip

200g organic feta cheese, roughly crumbled into 1 cm chunks

100g organic strong Cheddar cheese, grated

4 organic dried chillies, crushed in a pestle and mortar (or organic chilli flakes - milder than whole bird eye chillies - to taste)

10g fresh organic dill, finely chopped

10g fresh organic coriander, finely chopped

8 large organic eggs

Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Wash the peppers, halve lengthwise and remove the stems, seeds and membranes, then cut into 1 cm strips and finally into 1cm dice.

Place the ghee (or oil) into a large, non-stick ovenproof frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. 

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When the oil is hot, add the peppers and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until softened, but not coloured. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile crack the eggs into a medium-large bowl and beat together well. Mix in the spring onions, feta, Cheddar, crushed chilli/chilli flakes, dill and coriander.

Add the cooked and cooled pepper pieces to the eggs and mix again.

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Set the frying pan back over a medium heat - add a little more ghee/oil if you think it needs it. 

When the pan is hot, tip the egg mixture into the pan, spreading the contents out evenly with a wooden spoon. 

Cover the pan with a lid or stainless steel splatter guard and leave the frittata to cook on the top of the stove for 6-8 minutes or until the edges have set.  

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to High.

Remove the pan lid and place the frittata under the hot grill. Cook until golden brown and sizzling hot.

Check to see that the eggs are cooked through by inserting a knife into the centre of the frittata. If they’re still runny, put back under the grill for 1-2 minutes more until they’ve firmed up completely.

Slice and serve straight from the pan.

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Notes:

You will see from the photos that I ring the changes with whatever vegetables I have to hand. I’ve added lightly steamed rainbow chard to one of the frittatas and lightly steamed English asparagus to another. I could equally be tempted to throw in a couple of handfuls of baby spinach. The more green veggies the better, just don’t overcook them before adding to the eggs.

Leftovers are great served at room temperature.

Fat 36g Protein 31g Carbohydrates 3g - per serving

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Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus’

by Susan Smith in ,


In this ravingly busy life, one of the best ways to improve your health is to consume lots of fresh vegetables. Abel & Cole and Riverford Organics are my lifeline because twice weekly they bring a wide variety of organic, fresh produce direct to my door. I always buy half a dozen or so avocados every week because they happen to be one of the healthiest things you can eat. They’re rich in monounsaturated fat that your body can easily burn for energy and moreover the fat they contain helps your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods you eat with them.

Actually, avocados are not a vegetable, they’re a very-low-in-fructose fruit with a buttery texture and delicious flavour that means they’re my number one go-to favourite snack when I want something quick and savoury to eat. For simplicity and satiety, I like to halve and stone them before stuffing the cavities beyond reason with prawns or tuna mayo. Prawns bound together with a spicy, tomatoey mayonnaise atop a halved avocado was the first food I ever prepared for my husband John. It was love at first sight - he’d always thought such food, simple as it is, only came out of restaurant kitchens! On a more fruity note, avocados can be transformed into a silky, delectable dark chocolate or avocado and lime mousse or used as a base for ice cream. Yum! Full of essential vitamins and minerals, including fibre, vitamins K, B5, B6 and C, folate and more than twice the potassium of a banana, you can see where I’m going with this.

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Today my fancy is for avocado hummus. I love traditional chickpea hummus but can see no reason to take the anti-nutrient, high carbohydrate hit from legumes when this creamy avocado dip is a far healthier, yet comparative alternative. I first eyeballed Paleo Hacks version of Bean-Free Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus on their blog but glancing down the list of ingredients quickly assessed they were too out of whack for my taste (what’s with a teaspoon of lemon juice?). I’ve re-written the recipe to balance out the flavours and it works. Beautiful to look at and delicious to eat, it’s a really fresh, clean ‘take’ on hummus. Apologies to garlic lovers, there is none in my version of Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus’ because its whiffiness on post-consumption breath always offends me!

A quick and easy keto way to get your five a day. 

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Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus’ (serves 6 as a dip, serves 4 for a light lunch)

Ingredients

2 large organic courgettes, peeled and deseeded

2 large organic ripe avocados (use 3 medium if large not available) 

3 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed 

100g organic light tahini

½ tsp ground organic cumin        

½ tsp Himalayan Pink salt, or to taste

¼ tsp organic cayenne pepper

a good grinding of organic black pepper

15g fresh organic coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Organic paprika and extra sprigs of fresh coriander - optional

A selection of freshly cut crudités - to serve

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Instructions

Slice off the ends of both courgettes, peel, then lay them on a cutting board and slice them in half lengthwise.

Using the pointy end of a teaspoon run it down the middle of the courgettes, gently scooping out the seeds. Chop the courgette into rough pieces. Discard the seeds. 

Peel and de-stone the avocados, roughly chop into pieces.

Place the avocado, courgette, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne pepper, most of the coriander leaves and salt in a food processor. 

Process on high until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with paprika and the remaining coriander leaves before serving with a selection of freshly cut crudités for dipping. 

 

Fat 32g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 4g - per serving of ‘hummus’ only.

If you’re counting macronutrients, please add on extra grams of carbs for the crudités. N.B. Vegetables grown above ground are less carb heavy than veggies grown below ground

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Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce

by Susan Smith in , , ,


I was slowly but surely getting through the training programme to become a qualified health coach until I was recently stopped in my tracks. Last week I received an email announcing “numerous coursework and program updates” that were being rolled out now and later this year. Gees! They don’t mean maybe. The volume of coursework has increased by a hefty 60% and I can’t now move on through the 16 original lessons and exams unless I first go back and then sequentially complete each of the new business building tasks interspersed between them. It’s not easy being forced to switch between academia and creative writing on demand - I simply don’t have the time or headspace for both - and last week’s task, which was to write ‘my story’, overwhelmed me. Firstly, who cares what trials and tribulations I’ve suffered? Secondly, it seems if anyone does, it’s me! I found wading through the timeline of my life and reliving the experience extremely upsetting. So today, I’m taking some welcome time out to write this blog. For sanity’s sake, I have to loosen my grip on my study work and let go of my original intention to be an accredited health coach before the end of the year. After all, there are so many other things I have to do. 

Without the support of my husband, who steps into the domestic breach every time he finds me glued to my computer, I would have given up completely. Economy of effort is where it’s at and Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce is one of those meals that John can prepare single-handedly so that we’re still well fed even when I’m overly committed to tasks beyond the kitchen table. Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce makes an impressive vegetarian meal for six people. Since there are only three of us to feed, that means enough leftovers to slice-up cold several days later, which you can then generously top with more cheese before reheating in the oven for 15 minutes and gently warming through the leftover red pepper sauce on the hob. Alternatively, the terrine eats equally well cold with homemade mayonnaise and salad leaves, preceded by a delicious creamy, hot tomato and red pepper soup that’s simply thrown together in minutes by combining the leftover red pepper sauce with a bottle of Abel & Coles cherry tomato passata and a generous dollop of double cream. Voilà, two nutritious, keto-inspired meals for the price of one! 

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Celeriac, otherwise known as celery root, is a bit of a culinary life saver when you’re living a low-carb lifestyle. Although a root vegetable, celeriac isn’t nearly as starchy as potatoes (potatoes contain over twice as many net carbohydrates) so it’s really useful for making mash, chips, gratins and soups - watercress soup thickened with celeriac instead of potato is even better. High in dietary fibre and loaded with vitamins and minerals for maintaining good health, this recipe totally transforms celeriac from its reputation as the gnarly hobbit of the vegetable world into a very elegant looking, make-ahead main course for entertaining, or a much more appetisingly colourful, meat-free alternative to a family roast.

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A long-standing favourite of ours, this recipe is taken from the Winter section of Rose Elliot’s book ‘Vegetarian Four Seasons’. However, while I can still buy organic celeriac in May, I make no apology for enjoying it in Spring! It’s simply delicious food, whenever!

Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce (Serves 6)

Ingredients - for the celeriac terrine

700g organic celeriac

25g organic butter

125g organic strong Cheddar cheese, grated

25g freshly grated organic Parmesan or organic vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese 

4 tbsp snipped organic chives

3 organic eggs

Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground organic black pepper

Organic cherry tomatoes and fresh chives - to garnish 

 

Ingredients - for the red pepper sauce

2 tbsp organic olive oil or macadamia nut oil

2 organic onions, finely sliced

2 organic red peppers

150ml vegetable stock

Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground organic black pepper

15g cold organic unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

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Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 160℃ / 325 ℉ / Gas mark 3

Grease and line a 450g / 1lb loaf tin with a piece of non-stick parchment paper to cover the base and extend up the short sides. Grease again.

Boil a kettle of freshly filtered water.

Peel the celeriac and cut into even-sized 2cm chunks.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the base of a steamer. Place the celeriac into the top of the steamer and cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until the celeriac is tender.

Lift the celeriac out of the steamer and drain well before tipping into a bowl - the water in the bottom of the steamer makes wonderful stock.

Add the butter to the celeriac and mash, but don’t puree because some texture is good in this dish. Mix in the grated Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, the chives, eggs and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the terrine feels firm to the touch, is golden-brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While the terrine is baking make the red pepper sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, put in the onions and cook over a gentle heat with the pan lid on for about 10 minutes until the onions are softened but not browned.

Meanwhile, wash the peppers and cut into rough pieces - there’s no need to remove the seeds because the sauce will be strained.

Add the peppers to the onions, cover the pan again and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Liquidise the sauce, strain into a clean saucepan and season to taste.

When the terrine is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes or so before slipping a knife around the edges to loosen, then turn it out onto a warm plate.

Garnish the terrine with halved cherry tomatoes, sprigs of parsley and small strips of chives.

Just before serving, bring the pepper sauce to the boil. Take off the heat and whisk in the cold butter, a little at a time, to make the sauce glossy. 

Serve the sauce with the terrine and some lightly cooked broccoli or other green vegetables. 

 

Fat 22g Protein 14g Carbohydrate 11g - per serving

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Torn Mozzarella and Peppers

by Susan Smith in ,


As predicted, while I grapple with the gargantuan task of becoming a certified health coach, assisting Mirror Imaging at the height of the wedding season and simultaneously checking-out old tenants and finding new ones, I have virtually no time to develop new recipes for this blog. Indeed any attempt to write my blog is secondary to cooking our daily meal and getting enough exercise. Hence, I’ve gotta keep things quick and easy.

It’s a blessing. My brain cells are getting enough of a work-out with coursework and exams so I’ll keep to the point of Primal Plate, which is to simply feature delicious recipes that help you transition from being a carb-dependent sugar-burner to a fat burning beast.

Here’s one such recipe taken from Jill Dupleix’s book, appropriately titled: ‘Very Simple Food’. Torn Mozzarella and Peppers is like a bottomless pizza that sings out ‘Mediterranean’. With more than its fair share of vitamins and minerals - the brightly coloured peppers are a give away - this warm salad relies heavily on the best ingredients you can find. Fresh buffalo mozzarella is heavenly and its soft creaminess pairs beautifully with the slight crunchiness of warm, sweet peppers.

This gorgeous salad only takes minutes to make and can be served either on its own or as a light main course accompanied by crispy Keto Bread Rolls, still warm from the oven.

The easiest meal in the world to prepare and so very healthy and tasty to boot, Torn Mozzarella and Peppers is a yummy, Primal, low-carb winner. I think you’ll enjoy.

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Torn Mozzarella and Peppers (serves 4)

Ingredients

2 organic sweet red peppers

2 organic sweet yellow peppers 

2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

Himalayan pink salt

Freshly ground organic black pepper

2 tbsp organic flat leaf parsley

2 organic fresh mozzarella balls (convenient for me to buy weekly with my Riverford order but it’s cheaper from Waitrose!)

 

Instructions

Holding the peppers upright, cut the sides away from the core and seeds, then cut each piece into 1cm squares.

In a saucepan, combine the peppers with the olive oil, salt and pepper and stew gently over a low heat for 10-15 minutes without allowing the peppers to fry or brown. 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool until barely warm.

Set out 4 shallow serving bowls or plates and using a slotted spoon, divide the peppers equally between the plates, saving the cooking juices/oil left in the bottom of the pan.

Drain the mozzarella and pat dry with kitchen roll. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces with your fingers (I don’t discard the thick skin as the original recipe advises - it’s all good!) then distribute evenly between the plates, randomly dotting it over the peppers.

Tear the parsley leaves into shreds with your fingers and scatter on top of the mozzarella. 

Drizzle with the reserved oil to serve.

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Notes

This recipe is a great example of how eating low-carb doesn’t mean eating no carbs. You easily consume plenty of carbohydrates (glucose forming food) for your body’s needs when you eat lots of fresh, organic vegetables grown above ground, small amounts of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds. A high-carbohydrate, high insulin-producing diet is pro-inflammatory, immune suppressing, and hormone balance disrupting, which increases the risk of assorted health problems and serious disease.

Interestingly, the total amount of glucose dissolved into the bloodstream in a healthy non-diabetic is only about a teaspoon, or five grams. Exceeding that level quickly becomes toxic; fall much below that and you will pass out. 

It takes approximately 21 days to lessen your reliance on external sources of carbohydrates and become efficient at fat and ketone burning. If you want to be strong, slim, disease and wrinkle free for longer than most people believe possible, limit your carbohydrate intake to less than 150 grams per day. 

 

Fat 24g Protein 11g Carbohydrate 13g - per serving

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Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse

by Susan Smith in


I’ve taken the zing of lemons to extreme in this sugar-free, light and lovely Fresh Lemon Mousse. In my book, if the clean, fresh, sour essence of lemon doesn’t acidify your tastebuds enough to stimulate a spontaneous squint in one eye, you’ve gone overboard with the sweetener!

What I love about this recipe is the contrast between citrussy aromatics and the soft gentleness of a creamy, light-as-air mousse. In fact it is so fluffy and cloud-like, it feels like you’ve inhaled this dessert rather than eaten it! Add to this the satisfying crunch of toasted almonds to further soothe the sharpness of lemon and it’s a positively sublime, melt-in-the-mouth finale to an Easter celebration lunch.

Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse is an unapologetic invitation to ‘scaredy-fat’ members of Weight Watchers, Slimmer’s World and all others still faithfully adhering to outmoded, anti-fat dietary guidelines, to do their research. Here’s a helpful link to get you started.

Once you’re persuaded that a low-carb, high-fat (ketogenic) diet can be a more efficient and enjoyable strategy for a healthier, slimmer body than calorie counting and low-fat can ever be, I imagine you’ll be happy to grab yourself a long handled spoon and dive in. After counting calories, syns, food points or whatever else low-fat propagandists have people do, this seductive, Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse makes for eye-opening, lip-smacking, diet ‘liberation’ that makes the heart sing. 

What a perfect way to celebrate new beginnings. 

Happy Easter!

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Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse (Serves 4)

Ingredients

3 large organic eggs

60g non-GMO pure erythritol sweetener

¼-½ tsp pure monk fruit powder

2 large organic lemons

3 tbsp organic Greek yogurt

125ml organic double cream

⅛ tsp cream of tartar

A handful of organic flaked almonds    

            

Instructions

Grate the zest from the lemons and juice them - you should end up with about 80ml juice and 1 heaped tablespoon of zest.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and reduce the heat so that it is barely simmering.

To create a stove top bain-marie (double boiler) select a stainless steel mixing bowl to fit on top of the pan without the base of the bowl coming into contact with the water. There should be at least an inch of space between the water and the bottom of the bowl.

Now separate the eggs. Place the egg yolks into the bowl you’ve selected for the bain marie and the egg whites into a separate, scrupulously clean, metal bowl. Set the egg whites aside. 

Add the erythritol and monk fruit powder to the egg yolks and whisk for about 2 minutes until pale and thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, zest and yogurt.

Now place the bowl with the egg and lemon mixture on top of the pan of simmering water and whilst whisking constantly, cook the mixture for about 10-15 minutes, until it thickens into lemon curd. It’s ready when it’s the consistency of mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce. 

Immediately plunge the base of the bowl in cold water and keep stirring the lemon curd until completely cooled. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks just start to form, then stir or gently whisk into the lemon curd so it’s evenly combined. Set aside.

Using a clean electric whisk, beat the egg whites for 1½ minutes until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and keep whisking until stiff peaks form and the mixture has increased fourfold - takes about 2 minutes.

Using a metal tablespoon, very gently fold the egg whites into the lemon curd cream in roughly 3 parts, making sure that you don’t deflate the meringue and it’s evenly incorporated.

Spoon the lemon mousse into 4 individual dessert bowls or glasses.

Chill for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, toast the flaked almonds in a small, dry, frying pan until lightly golden, turning occasionally to make sure they don’t scorch. Watch carefully and take off the heat as soon as they’re toasted, then allow to cool down completely before using.

Immediately before serving, sprinkle the toasted almond flakes on top of the mousse.

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Notes

I’m still a bit dubious about using excessive amounts of sugar alcohols as sugar alternative sweeteners in Primal Plate recipes so I’ve supplemented erythritol with pure monk fruit powder to get the equivalent intensity of sweetness I wanted, naturally. Don’t be put off by the price of pure monk fruit powder, it’s actually very economical because only the tiniest amount is needed for it to work its magic. 

Monk fruit powder is 300 times sweeter than cane sugar but not because it contains natural sugars like most other fruits do. Its incredible sweetness is due to the presence of mogrosides, which are powerful antioxidants. Consequently, monk fruit powder is metabolised differently to fructose and glucose by the body and has a negligible effect on blood sugar. Very useful in food and drinks when you’re trying to lose weight.

Because I’ve not used gelatine to stabilise this mousse, you need to make Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse on the day you intend to eat it. If it’s left in the refrigerator to chill for more than a couple of hours or so, it may start to separate. Not a culinary disaster, just not quite so visually appealing! 

 

Fat 22g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 3g - per serving


Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles

by Susan Smith in


And so it begins…the start of a new wedding season combined with a desire to qualify as a primal health coach whilst managing a small portfolio of rental properties, does not lend itself particularly well to new recipe development for Primal Plate’s blog. Please do not judge if over the next few months my postings get even fewer and farther between. Whilst I haven’t forgotten that my priority is what I can accomplish in the kitchen, these things take a hefty time commitment and it’s not easy keeping all my balls in the air at once.

In fact it took three attempts to perfect these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles. The clue is in their name. Even though they no longer disintegrate before you can get them into your mouth, they definitely won’t stand being dipped in your tea! More the texture of a digestive than a rich tea biscuit, John and Sarah think they’re fabulous and would have been happy for me to keep going…until I finally produced these biscuity bites of loveliness and they both declared it was ‘game over’.

What does guilt taste like? Chocolate and roasted almonds successfully bound together in a delicate, comforting cookie; that’s what! Just crispy and firm enough to snap neatly in two, these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles are soft and crumbly on the inside with bursts of chocolatey goodness that explode inside your mouth. Indulgent they are; unhealthy they’re not. 

Amazingly, these keto friendly, healthy, cookie crumbles can be enjoyed guilt free. Without grains, sugar or dairy - the roasted almond butter does the job of regular butter - you can even ‘veganise' the recipe by substituting a chia or flaxseed ‘egg’ for the real egg that I used (see Notes below).  

For a heady hit of chocolate (the darker the better), these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles are the thing. Ridiculously quick and easy to make, they don’t need rolling or cutting out. 

Another good reason to spoil yourself. 

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Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles (makes 15)

Ingredients

1 large organic egg

250g organic roasted almond butter

40g organic ground almonds

20g organic extra fine tiger nut flour

½ tsp organic whole psyllium husk powder, freshly ground by you in a coffee grinder, if you have one

¼-½ tsp pure monk fruit powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp organic vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate chips (at least 70% cocoa solids)

                    

Instructions 

Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas mark 4 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Add to a food processor bowl the almond butter, ground almonds, tiger nut flour, monk fruit powder, egg, vanilla extract and baking powder. Blitz together until smooth.

Add in the dark chocolate chips and briefly blitz again until evenly combined.

Roll the mixture into 15 small balls (approx. 31g each), spacing them out evenly on the baking sheet.

Gently flatten out each ball with the palm of your hand into rounds approximately 6-8mm thick. 

When they’re ready to bake, press a couple more chocolate chips into the surface of any cookies that look like they’ve been shortchanged!

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Let the cookies rest on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool down completely.

Wait for at least 30 minutes before tucking in.  

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Notes

To prepare a flax or chia ‘egg’ for vegan baking: Grind whole, organic seeds in a coffee grinder just before using as follows: Stir 1 tablespoon of ground seeds (measured after grinding) and 3 tablespoons of warm, freshly filtered water together until well combined. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes until if forms a gelatinous ‘goo’. Use to replace eggs in any recipe that doesn’t list more than 2 eggs in the ingredients. N.B. If making Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles with a chia or flax seed ‘egg’, leave out the psyllium husk powder.

If you don’t have chocolate baking chips to hand, chop 100g of an organic dark chocolate bar into small pieces with a sharp knife. A bit messy, but needs must! Given the wider choice of chocolate bars available, I’d be tempted to go for the highest percentage of cocoa solids (up to 100%) if your tastebuds will allow!

Fat 13g Protein 5g Carbohydrate 4g - per cookie crumble.

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Zero Sugar Meringues

by Susan Smith in ,


In a society that tends to eat a lot of excess sugar and overeat in general, it seems that for the most part I stand alone when it comes to refusing to eat or drink anything with refined sugar added. It’s not easy. Not because I crave sugar - physically and psychologically I have come to loathe the stuff - but because relatively healthy sugar substitutes are not readily available and when I can get hold of them, they’re expensive. Whilst buying low-carb sugar replacements to bake with is nothing like the financial liability of regularly eating out - which I seldom do because the majority of restaurant food centres around refined, non-organic vegetable/seed oils, sugar and grains - they come at a price that make your eyes water! 

Furthermore, most alternative sweeteners either don’t taste quite right or don’t behave like ordinary sugar when you cook with them. Amazingly, I recently found one that’s a notable exception: NuNaturels Tagatose is a prebiotic sweetener produced from lactose that is virtually indistinguishable from table sugar in every respect. Tagatose is costly and even more annoyingly, only currently available to purchase from the US. But with half the calories of sugar and a low glycemic index (GI) of just 3 (sucrose has a GI of 65), it doesn’t raise blood glucose and insulin levels in healthy individuals and those with diabetes type-2. It is also believed to stimulate the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. All of this seems to make it a ‘goer’ as a low-carb, Primal sweetener. It was my discovery of tagatose that first enabled me to successfully make low-carb meringues that looked and tasted like the real deal. To the best of my knowledge, they were a culinary ‘first’ and, if you’re willing to believe what the producers of tagatose tell you, they smash conventional meringues made with sucrose into the ground. That said, tagatose became irrelevant for the purpose of this blog post because the next time I tried to order some, there was none left in stock.

Disappointed but not dissuaded, I decided the way forward was to purchase NKD Living’s Non-GMO Erythritol sugar replacement sweetener instead. I’d previously seen other peoples’ erythritol meringue recipes posted online but to be honest, it was the pictures of these that originally put me off using erythritol myself. However, beggars can’t be choosers and as I had already challenged myself to feature Zero Sugar Meringues on Primal Plate’s blog, last week I put erythritol to the test. As you can see, the revised version of Zero Sugar Meringues also turned out spectacularly well. Sweet, light and ‘sugary’, erythritol has no aftertaste but does have a slight cooling effect in the mouth. I thought this rather enhanced the eating sensation, which was a bit like biting into an exploding snowball!

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Crispy on the outside and meltingly soft in the middle, these crunchy, cloud-like patisseries are a luxurious, hedonistic affair when sandwiched together with lashings of whipped cream and accompanied by fresh, organic raspberries to cut through their sweetness. Never mind the price of tagatose, I’m now on a roll with erythritol. Next up, pavlova! 

Because it takes at least 10 minutes of non-stop beating of the egg whites, meringue is best made in a food mixer with whisk attachment. I’ve included the speeds I set my Kenwood Chef at. Otherwise, use a hand-held electric whisk, or if you’re feeling really energetic, a balloon whisk.

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Zero Sugar Meringues (makes 8 meringues; serves 4)

Ingredients

2 organic egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

100g non GMO erythritol, preferably whizzed in a coffee/nut mill to make it extra fine (like icing sugar)

½ tsp organic vanilla extractoptional

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 130℃ / 250°F / Gas mark ½

Cut a piece of non-stick baking parchment to fit a large baking sheet.

Using a scrupulously clean glass or stainless steel bowl and whisk, beat the egg whites on medium speed (Kenwood Chef number 4) until foamy - takes about 2 minutes.

Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at the same speed for another 3 minutes.

With the beater still running, slowly add the erythritol/tagatose, 1 dessertspoon at a time. When all the sweetener has been incoporated, turn the beaters up a notch (Kenwood Chef number 5) and beat for a further 5 minutes until very stiff and glossy.    

Add the vanilla extract, if using and beat 1 minute more.

Remove the bowl and whisk from the mixer stand. Using the meringue left on the whisk attachment, place 4 blobs of meringue at each corner of the baking sheet so that the paper will stay put whilst you’re spooning the meringue on to it.

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Bang the whisk attachment sharply against the side of the bowl to remove the rest of the meringue then using 2 metal tablespoons shape the meringue into 8 ovals or mounds on the parchment paper.

Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

After the first 10 minutes, lower the temperature of the oven to 110℃ and continue baking for a further 20 minutes.

After baking for 30 minutes, lower the temperature again to 100℃ and continue baking for another 30 minutes.

Check their progress after 1 hour. Take the baking tray out of the oven and with a flat palette knife attempt to gently lever the meringues off the parchment paper.

The meringues are ready when they are dry and crisp on the outside, are a pale coffee colour and will peel off the parchment paper easily.

If the meringues are still a little sticky, turn them upside down so that the sticky underside is exposed and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until completely dried out.

Now, leaving the meringues in the oven, turn the oven off and allow them to dry out and cool down completely as the oven cools. N.B. This can take a couple of hours or more with the oven door closed, so make sure you don’t need to use the oven for anything else.

When the meringues are cooled, they will have a crispy shell and they should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.

Store in an airtight container. They will keep for 5 days at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

When you’re ready to assemble the meringues, generously sandwich two of them together with lightly whipped cream and serve with fresh, organic raspberries.

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Notes

The bigger the meringues, the longer they will take to bake. Reduce the cooking time if you’re making mini meringue ‘kisses’.

Tagatose is not suitable for vegans because it’s made from whey, which is a milk by-product. However, since tagatose does not contain lactose, it's okay for the lactose intolerant

A word of caution: Primal Plate does not advise eating any sweetener in high amounts and cannot wholeheartedly recommend any non-nutritive sugar replacements. Whilst non-GMO erythritol and tagatose are thought to pass through the body untouched with virtually zero effect on metabolism/blood glucose levels that doesn’t mean, as is touted by their manufacturers, that they’re natural or healthy.

Nevertheless, I do believe that sweet tasting foods are for most people a highly desirable part of their diet, which is why I cautiously promote non GMO erythritol and stevia as possibly the best “naturally occurring” sugar alternatives for low-carb baking. Pure monk fruit powder is probably better if the recipe allows. Unfortunately, monk fruit powder is a 300x sweeter-than-sugar, mustard coloured powder that cannot easily be incorporated into many desserts. If you’re not doing keto and can take the carb ‘hit’, modest amounts of raw organic honey, maple syrup, ripe bananas, homemade apple sauce or medjool dates are also healthier alternatives to table sugar. Whatever sweetener you choose, learn to cut down on the level of sweetness needed. I strongly advise you to try and dampen down your sweet-tooth by saving Zero Sugar Meringues and other Primal Plate sweet tasting treats for special occasions only.


Lemon ‘Sugar’ Keto Pancakes

by Susan Smith in ,


It’s pancake day today, but because it’s taken five attempts to make this recipe foolproof, I’m afraid only we will be able to indulge ourselves with these Lemon ‘Sugar’ Keto Pancakes. Never mind that I missed the deadline this Shrove Tuesday. In one form or another, we’ve eaten these pancakes on six successive days during the past week and we’re not bored of them yet! They’re delicious! 

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Two years ago I posted a recipe for Primal Pancakes but my understanding of eating low-carb has moved on significantly since then and, in retrospect, 10 grams of carbohydrate per pancake is quite possibly 9 grams too many, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. Personally, we’re no longer in that boat but a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet still holds good for us because we want to stay at our fighting weight and keep ourselves as healthy as possible. 

Talking of boats, did you hear about the four British amateur oarsmen who recently smashed the transatlantic rowing race world record by a full 5 days? Get this, they did it by rowing for just under 30 days on fat. That is to say, eating a LCHF aka ketogenic diet. Furthermore, their boat was a sugar-free zone! Admittedly, after 30 days of extreme exertion they binged-out on carbohydrates, but this can hardly apply to Joe Public, who generally don’t stop eating from the minute they get up in the morning to the minute they go to bed at night, and who do little in the way of exercise in between. In my view, the only excuse for not adopting a LCHF diet is that life loses its sparkle if you’re deprived of bread, cake, ice cream, crisps and pancakes. Enter, Primal Plate food blog. It’s my job to fool you into believing you’re not eating low-carb.

These delicious pancakes are the perfect example. Neither an American pancake nor a French crêpe, they sit somewhere between the two. We had a couple of hilarious days whilst I fathomed out how to create a pancake batter that would ‘flip’ without drama. Apart from sheer tenacity and persistence, I don’t quite know how I finally achieved such a well-behaved batter that is neither too ‘eggy’, too thick or ‘blubbery’ and is a breeze to turn. It’s a mystery to me what alchemy occurs with even the slightest adjustment to a recipe’s ingredients, but here I give to you - drum roll please - my recipe for flourless, sugarless, Lemon ‘Sugar’ keto Pancakes.

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It’s now your turn to indulge yourself. I think you’ll find these pancakes are everything you dream of when you think of classic, hot, golden pancakes with the crunch of sugar and the sweet tart lift of lemon juice. When Sarah was a baby, she used to entertain herself by sucking on lemon wedges and chuckling uncontrollably at my screwed up face as I imagined their sour taste assaulting her senses. Your little ones may appreciate freshly juiced blood oranges in place of lemon juice and organic maple syrup or raw honey instead of erythritol. These pancakes are equally yummy served with fresh organic blueberries and lightly whipped cream. 

An easy to follow recipe that should have you enjoying pancakes all year round.

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Lemon ‘Sugar’ Keto Pancakes (makes 8, serves 4)

Ingredients

4 large organic eggs 

2 organic egg whites

150g organic full-fat soft cheese

50g organic full-fat crème fraîche

8g organic whole psyllium husks, ground into a fine powder                

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp monk fruit powder

Unsalted butter, coconut or macadamia nut oilfor frying

To serve:

Freshly squeezed organic lemon juice and a sprinkling of zero calorie Erythritol (See Notes below)

                                            

Instructions

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and crème fraîche together with a fork until soft and smooth.

Beat the eggs and egg whites with electric mixer or hand held blender on high for 1 minute to make them light and fluffy. 

Add the softened cheese mixture to the eggs and blend for 20 seconds more before adding the rest of the ingredients and blending again until well combined.  

Let the batter stand for 3-4 minutes.

While the batter is standing, heat a small (20 cm) non-stick frying pan - I use this one - over a medium heat.

When hot, add a little butter or oil to the pan - wiping away any excess with paper kitchen roll. 

Add 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the batter and swirl the pan so it covers the base evenly. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the underside of the pancake is golden and lots of small bubbles appear on the surface.

Turn the pancake over with the aid of a flexible, wide slotted turning spatula.

Fry on the second side of the pancake for a further 2-3 minutes until golden and set.  

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Slide the cooked pancake onto a warm plate, sprinkle over the erythritol sweetener and agree to eat in relays. 

Alternatively, roll each ‘sugared’ pancake tightly into a cigar shaped cylinder then cover and keep warm in a low oven whilst you cook the rest.

Notes

Delicious, organic Citron Beldi lemons available from Abel & Cole are sweet, floral citrus fruits that look like squashed lemons and come all the way from Marrakech. They are only around in winter, so make the most of them while you can. They make a delicious juice to serve with these pancakes.

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NuNaturels tagatose was going to be my closest-to-sugar alternative for sprinkling over these pancakes but it’s a nightmare to get hold of and ridiculously expensive to boot, especially when you add on custom charges. I’ve just had to pay an additional £17 to get three 250g bags of tagatose into the U.K. So until someone somewhere pulls their finger out and starts to produce pure tagatose for sale in the U.K., I have decided to abandon the idea of promoting Primal Plate recipes that rely on tagatose as a primary ingredient. Very disappointing, since before last Christmas I’d perfected a brilliant sugar-free meringue recipe that I never had chance to post. Identical to normal, crispy on the outside and slight chewy on the inside meringues, I thought they would be a lovely recipe to feature for Valentines Day. Unfortunately, without it, I’m going to have to start over. For now, that just leaves me with non-GMO erythritol to play with. 

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Erythritol is naturally found in fruits, vegetables and fermented foods. It has a GI of 0 and 0.2 calories per gram. It does not affect blood sugar and is suitable for a low-carb diet. Its sweetness is about 70% of table sugar, so you may need to use a bit more than sugar. Don’t worry, erythritol counts as a zero carb sweetener because your body can’t digest it. 

 

Fat 33g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 1g - per pancake (N.B. Don’t forget to add extra carbs for toppings and accompaniments)

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Keto Bread Rolls

by Susan Smith in


These Keto Bread Rolls are so clever but they’re not my invention. It doesn’t matter that I came late to the party, our low-carb diet is now officially one step closer to eating what most people think of as a “normal diet” because we have buns with our burgers! With just 3 grams of carbs each, these are the perfect no-grain burger buns, dinner rolls or picnic fare. Credit goes to the Diet Doctor who adapted their keto bread recipe from an earlier bread recipe by Maria Emmerich. My contribution to keeping the keto dietary wheels turning was to test both recipes and then make this totally reliable final version - accurate weights and measurements provided in millilitres and grams - and more relevant to the U.K. 

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A common problem with this bread is that the dough appears to randomly change colour during baking; its mauvish hue thought to be caused by using “some brands of psyllium husks”. An unhelpful generalisation, particularly when the specific ‘Now’ brand of organic psyllium husk powder recommended by the Diet Doctor and many others, did the very thing it wasn’t supposed to. It doesn’t work…at least it didn’t for me. Consequently, my first batch of Keto Bread Rolls toned perfectly with the purple beetroot and feta burgers I’d made in readiness to fill them! Joking apart, mauve may be an okay colour for Halloween or a kiddies party cupcake but it’s quite disturbing in a bread roll, even if the taste and texture remain unchanged. You eat with your eyes first!

I came to the conclusion that the reason for purple-tinted dough may be less to do with the brand of psyllium husks and more to do with buying them in powder form. My feeling is that whole psyllium husks, like flaxseeds, quickly deteriorate (oxidise) when they’re ground down into powder because they’re more readily exposed to the air. Thus, the trick to making Keto Bread Rolls look like bread rolls is to track down a supplier of organic whole psyllium husks and then grind these down yourself just prior to baking. N.B. Only buy 100 percent pure organic psyllium husk, since most psyllium crops have been treated with chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertiliser.

 The first attempt! The lilac-mauve hue was resolved by grinding my own whole psyllium husks.

The first attempt! The lilac-mauve hue was resolved by grinding my own whole psyllium husks.

Finding a U.K. supplier of reliably fresh, organic whole psyllium husks is no mean feat but my search finally brought me to the website of Stay Fresh Organics and voilà, I’d smashed it. To successfully make these Keto Bread Rolls, you will need a coffee/nut grinder. The one I use is a cheapie Andrew James Coffee Grinder and it does the job admirably. 

You’ll be glad I went to the trouble. Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, the rest of the weighing and the mixing is done in about 5 minutes flat and fresh-from the-oven bread rolls, indistinguishable from the real thing, are ready within the hour. 

If you like the soft, light texture of commercial bread, you’ll love these Keto Bread Rolls, which are a sort of cross between Italian ciabatta and the cute, mini Hovis loaves that I used to pack in my daughters’ school lunch boxes back in the 1980’s. We had a nostalgic moment when Sarah reminded me that when she was very small, I’d often scold her for creating Play-Doh out of Hovis mini-loaves instead of eating them! In their raw state, these Keto Bread Rolls could also be mistaken for Play-Doh. All lumpy, bumpy, beige and bouncy before baking, the dough is transformed in the oven into the most perfectly risen, golden-brown, delicious, crusty bread rolls. Simply amazing to look at and even more amazing to cut, butter, fill and bite into, you’ll be flabbergasted that they’re not made from wheat flour! 

Whole, organic psyllium husk powder is a miracle ingredient for low-carb baking because it does the work of glueing and binding together breads, cakes, pancakes in the same way that the gluten in wheat flour does - without the digestive issues or weight-gain that many people suffer from when they eat gluten and grains. In fact psyllium husk, taken from the seeds of the Plantago plant, has numerous health benefits. It is a godsend for people who don’t get enough fibre in their diet - step-up low-carbers who don’t eat whole-grains and, if you’re like me, not a lot of fruit either - because psyllium contains both soluble and insoluble fibre to help facilitate weight loss, improve digestion, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, nourish gut-friendly bacteria and cleanse the system. 

In the world of grain-free baking, these easy-to-make Keto Bread Rolls are a revelation. They miraculously achieve the same light, bready texture of regular bread without yeast or gluten, which means no kneading or rising times are required. The finished rolls are not only wonderful to behold they’re more tasty than any commercial bread you can buy. Sarah was so taken with their taste and texture, she thought them worth making even when they were purple! 

I can see why she would think so. Keto Bread Rolls remind you of how life used to be before ditching the grains and eating low-carb. Paradoxically, they appear to be the antithesis of wholefoody. A welcome change from the delicious but dense nut and seed based breads featured elsewhere on this blog, they make you believe you’re eating normal ‘white’ bread. Psychologically, this is good. If there’s one thing that people use as an excuse for not giving up the grains, it’s their reliance on bread. No more. Useful for breakfast, lunch, supper or snacking at any time, you can fill, spread and dip these Keto Bread Rolls at your pleasure and they won’t make you fat…just rather full and satisfyingly smug.  

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Keto Bread Rolls (makes 4 large picnic or burger-sized buns or 6 dinner rolls)

Ingredients

150g organic ground almonds

45g organic whole psyllium husks, freshly ground into fine powder

1½ tsp gluten-free baking powder                 

½ tsp Himalayan pink salt

1 tbsp organic cider vinegar

177ml filtered water, freshly boiled

3 large organic egg whites (about 120g total weight)                    

Sesame seeds for sprinkling - optional

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4. Boil the water.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, psyllium powder (no substitutes: flaxseed meal won’t work), baking powder and salt.

Beat the egg whites and vinegar together with a fork until foamy, then add to the dry ingredients. 

Using an hand-held electric blender, mix for about 15 seconds until starting to come together into a thick dough.

Bring the water back to the boil before adding it to the bowl, while beating with an electric hand mixer for about 30 seconds. Don’t over mix the dough at this stage, the consistency should resemble Play-Doh.

Moisten hands and form the dough into 4 rolls (about 125g each) Note: they’ll double in size when cooked.

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Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment or a silicone baking mat and sprinkle over sesame seeds, if liked. 

Bake on middle rack in oven for 55 minutes. The bread rolls are done when they’re golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack. 

 

Notes

I used organic black sesame seeds for visual effect but organic natural sesame seeds seem to be more widely available.

To make 6 to 8 dinner rolls, use about 70-75g of raw dough per roll and reduce the baking time to 40-45 minutes.

Store the bread rolls in the fridge or freezer.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine the above quantity of dough is enough to make a 1lb loaf of bread. Grease the tin well and roughly shape the loaf to fit, then bake for at least 1 hour, maybe longer. Test ‘doneness’ by tapping the bottom of the loaf to see if it sounds hollow. 

 

Fat 21g Protein 13g Carbohydrate 3g - per large bread roll


Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins

by Susan Smith in ,


It’s now three years since I first started writing the Primal Plate food blog with the intention of sharing recipes that would fill in the perceived food ‘gaps’ when you eat low-carb. I also wanted to help steer the Primal community and others away from the insane demand for more meat, which causes unbearable suffering to millions of farm animals, and towards a more compassionate, vegetarian lifestyle.

I’ve created numerous grain and sugar-free alternatives to conventional recipes for bread, biscuits, cake, pizza, pasta, ice cream and one of my latest triumphs…sugar-free meringues for goodness sake! But I’m not done yet. Whilst low-carb, like-for-like potato chips and pizza still elude me, today’s recipe for Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins does add another surprisingly good string to Primal Plate’s bow. Finally, here is an irresistible substitute for savoury crispbread, crackers, crisps or tortilla chips to serve with cheese, dips or simply to snack on them plain for pre-dinner nibbles. With the crispy, salt-seasoned delicacy of a potato crisp and the nuttiness of wafer-thin artisan crisp bread, these ‘all-rounders’ are what we’ve been missing in our lives since going low-carb and Primal. As Sarah exclaimed when she first tried them: “Well, that’s all our parties now sorted!”.

I originally baked these Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins in a fit of pique because we’d been forced to eat a plate of cheese without any accompaniments at an expensive, highfalutin, Nottingham restaurant that couldn’t - or wouldn’t - volunteer a low-carb alternative to bread or crackers. What is it with restauranteurs and chefs that send out cheese with no biscuits whilst charging a hefty subsidy because you didn’t choose dessert? A plate of good cheese without ‘extras’ is a sorrowful affair. This, after forewarning the chef in writing of our specific dietary requirements, weeks in advance of our booking. And since we were approaching the end of our meal, there was no wine left in our glasses either! Wading through a plate of cheese without biscuits and/or wine is enough to drive you crackers. Hence these Flaxseed Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins are my way of making good the “Cheese please” ordering anomaly that seems to exist in the catering industry when you don’t eat grains or sugar. Head chefs take note: You could easily have your commis chef knock these up in no time at all. 

Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for Linseed & Rosemary Crackers, it has to be said, I think my Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins are better than Hugh’s! I’ve omitted the grains, added sesame flour, extra herbs and seasoning for more flavour and used cold-pressed macadamia nut oil instead of water to bind the mixture together. You could use olive or coconut oil instead. Anyway, the addition of oil means the cooked crackers won’t stick to the baking parchment, which Hugh’s tend to do. And, you get more nutritional bang for your bucks. Flaxseeds are high in fibre, low in carbs and a primary source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation, which is a trigger for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Macadamia nut oil is a great addition not just for its buttery flavour but because it’s high in monounsaturated oil (boasts 10 times more MUFA’s than olive oil), it’s low in inflammatory omega-6 fats and it’s packed with nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, selenium, vitamin E, niacin, and folic acid.

Crackers and cheese is my new favourite thing because I do not subscribe to even a sniff of low-carb deprivation! Totally delicious, Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins are quick and easy to make. Just throw everything together in a bowl, divide the dough into two and roll out each half very thinly into a single large cracker - no faff or cutting-out required - then bake. When cooked and cooled, break into attractive looking shards of healthy goodness that you can munch your way through with cheese to your absolute heart’s content…quite literally!

If you’re convinced full-fat dairy is an enemy to your heart, you are not well informed. Far from being injurious to health, latest studies show that consuming whole dairy products is inversely associated with diabetes and heart disease, has no association with chronic disease or mortality and is most possibly health-protective. For vegetarians wishing to follow a low-carb or keto diet, my advice would be “Knock yourself out!”

You just need to make sure that wherever possible it’s raw, organic and grass-fed. Aged, cheese (6 months or more), such as Cheddar and Parmesan-style, is a particularly healthful addition to a keto, vegetarian diet. The higher the fat content of cheese, the better. This is because lactose is mainly drained away in the cheese making process. Ditto whole-milk that’s fermented for at least 24 hours to make lactose-free yogurt and kefir.

Low-fat, reduced fat, skimmed or heat-treated milk i.e. pasteurised and UHT (Ultra High Temperature) is not the same thing. When milk is heat treated, it destroys many of the nutrients such as vitamins and enzymes (essential for nutrient absorption) that make raw milk beneficial. Allergies and lactose intolerance is higher with pasteurised milk as well. For a supply of safe-to-drink, fresh, raw milk, I recommend you find an organic dairy that prides itself on being meticulously clean. I buy mine from Emma’s Dairy at Gazegill Organics.

Remember, your body prefers fat to glucose as its energy source because fats burn much ‘cleaner’ - the oxidation of fats takes longer and at the same time gives off more energy. Sadly, people have been brainwashed into thinking that full-fat dairy is unhealthy because of its saturated fat content (64% in butter). Saturated fat, according to public health advisers still relying on pseudo science, raises blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol (otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”), which puts you at higher risk for heart disease. It’s not that simple, as an episode of BBC2’s programme ‘Trust Me, I’m A Doctor’ recently found out. Researchers at Cambridge University discovered that eating 50 grams of coconut oil (90% saturated fat) every day for 4 weeks did not raise LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad cholesterol” associated with heart disease) at all. It did raise HDL cholesterol levels by an impressive 14% and HDL is the good cholesterol that helps remove the bad cholesterol. Boom! After decades of medical hullabaloo surrounding saturated fat, it turns out that high-in-saturated fat coconut oil is more heart-protective than olive oil!

What then to make of a new science advisory from the American Heart Association that recently recommended not ingesting coconut oil because it’s high in saturated fat? I say, ignore it! Perpetuating heart disease is in the AHA’s best interest because if heart disease ceased to exist they’d be out of a job. Meanwhile, real science is doing ground-breaking research that is finally forcing the medical establishment to accept that the key to reversing disease, such as type-2 diabetes, is simply an effective weight management programme. That’s bad news for the pharmaceutical and junk food industries but good news for the NHS and you - if you’ll take personal responsibility.

It’s astonishing to me that as we witness the NHS collapsing under a burgeoning demand for healthcare by an ageing, chronically diseased society, the government opts to continue to subsidise the cost of ill-health rather than promote wellness through good nutrition. They could save millions! True, it would take the political will to oppose modern farming methods with its obsession for GMO’s and toxic agro-chemicals; help restore healthy soils, insects and wildlife by subsidising sustainable farming practices and completely overhaul UK’s dietary guidelines. For that reason, I don’t imagine food utopia happening any time soon. 

Dr Aseem Malhotra, fast becoming known as one of the most influential cardiologists in Britain and a world leading expert in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and a senior adviser to the National Obesity Forum said:

"The change in dietary advice to promote low fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history. We must urgently change the message to the public to reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eat fat to get slim, don't fear fat, fat is your friend."

How much longer will you wait? Hopefully not until you inevitably find yourself one of the unfortunates being sent home by an overstretched NHS to sort out your own health issues.

I heard that “It’s easier to change a man’s religion than his diet” but here I go again…to spare yourself the indignity and suffering of disease, start cutting the carbs now, eliminate sugar and when you’ve accomplished this, begin eating more healthy fat…much more. 

To that end, Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins topped with lots of butter and cheese will play a most enjoyable part. 

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018.

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Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins (serves 4)

Ingredients

50g organic brown flaxseeds 

100 ml freshly filtered boiled water

25g organic ground flaxseed (see Notes below)

25g Sukrin organic sesame flour 

15g organic green banana flour - only non-organic is readily available in the UK

50g organic ground almonds

½ tsp Himalayan pink salt

a good grinding of organic black pepper 

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp fresh organic rosemary, finely chopped

1 tbsp cold-pressed macadamia nut oil, + extra for oiling

Sea salt flakes

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Instructions

Place the flaxseeds in a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C / 300°F / Gas mark 3

Place the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl. 

Take 2 sheets of baking parchment and generously brush one side of each with oil. Set aside - oiled side uppermost.

Add the flaxseeds with their soaking water, the chopped rosemary and 1 tbsp of macadamia nut oil to the dry ingredients. Use a fork to mix everything together really well, then squash the mixture together with your hands into a ball of dough.

Place half the cracker dough (about 130g) on top of the oiled side of one of the sheets of baking parchment - slap bang in the centre - then lay the other sheet of parchment paper, oiled side facing downwards, on top. 

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Roll the dough out very thinly between the 2 sheets of oiled baking parchment to make one large, thin, ragged-edged cracker that’s no more than 2-3mm thick. Lift off the top piece of parchment paper and transfer the bottom parchment paper with the dough still on it onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with half the salt flakes. 

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Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, checking occasionally, until completely dry and the outer edges are starting to curl up.

Take out of the oven and leave to cool before removing the parchment paper.

Repeat the rolling out process with the second piece of dough and bake as before. 

When the crackers are cool and crispy, carefully break them into largish pieces. 

Spread with a generous amount of butter and eat with cheese for the ultimate low-carb cheese and biscuit experience.  

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Notes

Because ready-ground flaxseed (also known as linseed) does not have a long shelf life it’s best to grind your own whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder immediately before use. If you don’t have a coffee mill, buy ready-ground flaxseed in small quantities and use within the best before date. 

Raw, organic macadamia nuts and macadamia nut oil are very expensive and not easy to source. Luckily, macadamias are low in pesticides even if conventionally grown. They’re hands-down my favourite nuts both for snacking and cooking. I love them most for their light, buttery taste, which makes cold-pressed macadamia oil perfect for drizzling and homemade mayonnaise because unlike olive and avocado oil, it doesn’t overpower. Macadamia nut oil is also highly shelf-stable and resistant to heat induced oxidation. This makes it safe for sautéing, frying and baking at higher temperatures because there’s no danger of free radicals and deadly trans fatty acids forming as they do with other cooking oils at high temperatures. High-fat, macadamia nuts have more omega-3 and less omega-6 fat than any other nuts, they lower LDL blood cholesterol and being exceptionally high in fat can help to make you thinner! I think they’re worth the expense but it you prefer, use organic olive oil or coconut oil for this recipe instead. 

A non-stick silicone sheet placed under the dough before rolling out is even better than oiled baking parchment because it stays perfectly flat during baking. 

 

Fat 20g Protein 9g Carbs 8g - based on 4 generous servings (surprisingly satisfying!)

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Ginger Whisky Cake

by Susan Smith in


It is always my joy to bake something wonderful for a family member’s birthday cake and every year, exactly one week before Christmas Eve, it’s my husband’s turn. He’ll say in the midst of my pre-Christmas frenzy “Please don’t put yourself under any more pressure”. But the truth is that without a special cake to stop and celebrate his existence at this time of year, the days would just merge into a blur of jingly-jangly Xmas activity.

However, the creation of this truly delicious Ginger Whisky Cake, baked in honour of John’s birthday, rather fortuitously morphed into more than just a one day wonder. If it had been my intention to create a healthy, gluten-free cake that tastes like a proper, matured Christmas cake without dried fruits, added sugar or grains, this is the one. It’s so good that the cake I’m making in the photos is the third one we and our visitors have enjoyed over the festive season, which has taken us all the way through to Twelfth Night!

Although this cake was inspired by an Abel & Cole recipe, I’ve removed the copious quantities of “damaging to your metabolism” refined sugar, sugar-substitutes (agave syrup is 90% fructose) and grains and replaced them with less than half the amount of sugar in the original recipe with low-carb sweeteners in the form of high-fibre tiger nut flour, Sukrin’s virtually 0% calorie erythritol-based Sukrin Gold and Sukrin Icing and their natural prebiotic plant sweetener, Fiber Sirup Gold. Getting my priorities straight, I’ve also added a significant amount of single malt whisky to the cake mix!

The result is a warming, spicy, celebration cake that Sarah declared would be her choice of wedding cake if she ever gets married! It keeps beautifully moist for a week or more in a cake tin if you let it, although I guarantee that neither you nor your family and friends will.

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Ginger Whisky Cake (serves 14)

Ingredients - for the cake

100g organic unsalted butter, softened
100g Sukrin Gold
250g organic tiger nut flour
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
4 tsp organic ground ginger
2 tsp organic ground cinnamon
50ml Sukrin FiberSirup Gold
60g organic unsulphured molasses
3 large organic eggs
A chunk (about 25g) of fresh organic ginger root, peeled and finely grated
200g organic crystallised ginger, ‘uncrystallised’ (see Notes below) and finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
60ml single malt whisky, preferably organic

Ingredients - for the lemon drizzle

Juice of 1 organic lemon
3 tbsp Sukrin FiberSirup Gold (or Yakon Syrup - see Notes below)

Ingredients - for the icing

150g organic unsalted butter, softened
60g Sukrin Icing
1 tbsp organic ‘runny’ honey
1-2 tbsp single malt whisky, preferably organic


Instructions

Heat your oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C/Gas 3. Grease and line the bottom and short sides of a 900g / 2lb loaf tin with a long strip of non-stick parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, sift the tiger nut flour, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and baking powder together. Set aside.

Put the Sukrin Gold into a separate large bowl and add 100g softened butter. Beat well (using electric beaters if you have them) till light and fluffy.

Beat the Fiber Sirup Gold and molasses into the Sukrin Gold and butter until well incorporated, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.

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Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour and spices through the sweetened butter mix until just combined.

Stir in the fresh ginger, ’uncrystallised’ ginger, lemon zest and whisky.

Spoon the batter into the loaf tin, levelling out the top.

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Place into the oven and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted through the middle of the cake comes out clean. If the cake mix is still clinging to the skewer, return for a further 5 minutes before checking again.

To make the lemon syrup

When the cake is nearly ready, pour the lemon juice into a small pan and stir in the Fiber Sirup Gold (or Yakon Syrup - see Notes below).

Warm through over a medium heat, until it just begins to come to a simmer.

When the cake is cooked, poke deep holes all over the sponge with a skewer and drizzle the lemon syrup evenly all over. Allow the cake to cool in its tin before turning out.

To make the whisky icing

When the cake is cool, sift the Sukrin Icing sugar into a large bowl and using a hand-held electric whisk, beat in the butter until pale, smooth and light in texture. Add the whisky and continue to beat until fully combined.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake.

Serve with a cup of hot tea or freshly brewed coffee.


Notes:

To ‘uncrystallise’ ginger:

  1. Place the crystallised ginger in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water to a depth of 2 inches.
  2. Soak the ginger until the water cools, stirring occasionally. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Repeat the soaking process once more.
  4. Rinse the drained ginger well in cold, freshly filtered water and spread out on a paper towel to dry.
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N.B. I am not a food scientist and as far as I am concerned the jury is still out on most of the low-carb sweeteners touted as being "healthy". I believe organic stevia and monk fruit powder are possibly the best alternative sweeteners to replace table sugar and fructose. However, when it comes to baking it is ‘horses for courses’ because other sugar substitutes can often produce better results. Truly, the best strategy is to try and dampen down your sweet tooth by only eating sweet treats very occasionally.

When I first made this cake, yakon syrup was my first choice of sweetener to replace the agave syrup in Abel & Coles recipe. Yakon syrup is high in antioxidants and potassium and has been used for nutritional and medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It has a slight caramel taste (similar to blackstrap molasses), which complements the warming flavours of ginger and whisky. However, I subsequently discovered you should not use yacon syrup for baking, as its structure breaks down at high temperatures (over 120 C / 248 F).

You may use yakon syrup instead of Sukrin's Fiber Sirup for the lemon drizzle, if preferred. If you then find the lemon syrup too tart, add 3-4 drops of organic liquid stevia before pouring over the cake.  

Sukrin Fiber Sirup is a natural, prebiotic plant fibre that the human body cannot easily digest. It ferments in the large intestine feeding the good bacteria in your gut, which contributes to our health and well-being by helping to stimulate immune function. Click here for more information.

The small amount of raw honey in the whisky icing balances out the cooling effect of erythritol. Organic blackstrap molasses serves as a nutritious alternative to refined sugar and adds a wonderful depth of flavour to the cake. Click here to read about the health benefits of molasses.


Fat 23g Protein 4g Carbohydrate 18g

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Primal Gingerbread Cookies

by Susan Smith in


Ginger and cinnamon are the heart and soul of the gingerbread man and whichever way you cut them, these totally irresistible Primal Gingerbread Cookies are a sure-fire way to excite the senses with all the flavours of Christmas - sugar, spice and all things nice - without actually eating grains or sugar.

Sticking with tradition, I’ve used unsulphured blackstrap molasses to add a sweet, sticky, depth of flavour and colour to these classically spiced, biscuity gems of nutritional goodness. Just a tablespoon mind, which barely registers as grams of carbs when it’s divided between 20 cookies - even if you do succumb to eating three at a time. Trust me, one is never enough! Besides, organic blackstrap molasses is a healthy sweetener that’s relatively low in sugar, which I encourage you to use judiciously as part of a Primal/Paleo diet because it’s rich in nutrients such as potassium, copper, iron, calcium, and B vitamins. 

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The other guilt-free sweetener I’ve used to make these cookies “keto” is…wait for it…pure monk fruit powder. Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo or longevity fruit, is 300 times sweeter than sugar and is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat obesity and diabetes. Bring it on! Monk fruit powder may seem expensive but a little goes a very long way. One teaspoon is all it takes to replicate the nostalgic, full-on sweetness and spiciness of traditional gingerbread as you know it.   

Whilst ginger is a popular, warming spice with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, what really takes these Primal Gingerbread Cookies to a whole new level is recently harvested, freshly grated cinnamon. Nothing like ready-ground cinnamon powder purchased from a shop, the sweet taste and heady fragrance of Cinnamon Hill’s cinnamon sticks will amaze you. The fact is, I’m addicted. Which is no bad thing since fresh cinnamon is also one of healthiest spices on the planet. With incredible anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects, this delicious spice is proven to help lower blood sugar levels, fight infection, protect against allergies, improve digestion and reduce risk factors for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and neuro-degenerative diseases.

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These delicious, crunchy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, easy-to-bake Primal Gingerbread Cookies taste just like Christmas but with such impressive health credentials, they’re bigger and better than that. More for your eating enjoyment than for seasonal decorations to hang on a tree, these cheery biccies are such a treat I have no doubt that my family will try and persuade me to carry on baking them all year round.   

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Primal Gingerbread Cookies (makes 18)

Ingredients

60g organic unsalted butter/cold pressed coconut oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp organic blackstrap molasses

150g organic ground almonds

50g organic tiger nut flour

1 tsp pure monk fruit powder (N.B. 300x sweeter than sugar!)

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

1 tbsp organic ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon (I use freshly grated Ceylon cinnamon but you can buy organic ground cinnamon here)            

1 tsp organic mixed spice             

pinch of Himalayan pink salt       

a generous grinding of organic black pepper

1 organic lemon, finely grated zest only 

Sukrin icing, melted chocolate, chocolate chips etc. to decorate, if liked

 

Instructions

Gently warm the butter/coconut oil with the vanilla extract and molasses until the oil is just  melted.

Place all dry ingredients into a food processor bowl, pour over the wet ingredients and whizz together until the mixture starts to clump together. Tip out on to a large sheet of parchment paper and with your hands gently bring the mixture together into a ball of dough. Don’t overwork, as this will make  the mixture release too much oil.

Wrap the dough ball up in the parchment paper and put in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180℃ /  350℉ / Gas mark 4.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out between two sheets of non-stick baking parchment until it is about 6-8mm thick. Use a 1½ - 2 inch cookie cutter or fancy-shaped cutter to form the cookies and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

If you don't intend to decorate your gingerbread cookies, grate more fresh cinnamon over the top of your cookies prior to baking.

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Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies have risen slightly and are lightly browned. Turn the tray around halfway through the cooking time and keep an eye on them for the last couple of minutes to prevent burning.

Remove and let sit on a cooling rack before decorating or eating them plain.

 

Fat 7g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 3g

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Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls

by Susan Smith in


Not wishing to be lazy, there are times when I catch sight of a recipe that seems to sell itself far better than I could. Maybe I’ll still adjust the ingredients and instructions a little bit but when I think I’ve found a ‘gem’ such as Riverford Organic’s Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls, what’s the point? This is how Riverford describe their recipe: 

“This easy-to-make squash soup doesn't even require any bowls – just eat it straight out of the shell, saving on the washing up and adding to the entertainment. This is a great, child-pleasing dish for Halloween.”  
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For the past two months my life situation has been extremely demanding so as far as this blog is concerned, I missed the boat for Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night too. Nevertheless, it did seem to be the perfect meal to cook for my family on 31st October whilst I was in the midst of frantically helping Mirror Imaging to pull together a high-class catwalk and prosecco party for brides-to-be. On the face of it, these Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls seemed to be a  simple, speedy, autumnal treat that I was well up for making and sharing on Primal Plate’s blog without further input from me.

But not so fast. The devil is in the details and I rarely get away scot-free when writing up recipes for Primal Plate. Fifteen minutes into scraping out the pulp and seeds of my bonbon squashes “with a spoon” and still only halfway through the task in hand, I was thinking most of Primal Plate recipes are a lot easier to make than this! In reality, you need a pointy-ended, immovable (non-swivel) vegetable peeler, as well as a spoon, to neatly gouge out their innards. Also, a very sturdy, sharp knife to slice the tops off these tough-skinned babies - oh, and preferably a man with sufficient arm power to do the job! 

When I finally got my squashes looking like perfectly formed soup bowls I discovered that the amount of double cream stated in the original recipe was far too much. Not that I think restraint is necessarily a virtue when it comes to eating healthy dietary fat, it’s simply that cutesy, individual portion-sized squashes don’t have a big enough ‘bowl’ space inside them to hold 200ml of cream apiece. A half to two-thirds of the that amount of cream is about right. Also, I prefer to strip the thyme leaves off their stems before burying them in the cream and cheese filling prior to cooking. Spooning woody bits straight into your mouth at the table is a bit of a spoiler. Whole sprigs of fresh thyme are best saved for prettying up Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls immediately before serving. 

In the end it’s worth the effort for something so novel and delicious to eat. For me, scraping the rich, honey-flavoured, deep orange roasted flesh of the squash into hot, cheesy cream has all the satisfaction and pleasure of diving into a large baked potato with lashings of butter and cheese or perhaps a self-contained cheese fondue with no requirement for crusty bread. 

Although winter squash could not be described as very low-carb, it is one of the most nutritious and healthiest vegetables you can eat. With a rich array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as significant amounts of digestive fibre, it’s surprisingly filling, far better for you and much less carb heavy than fattening potato or bread. That said, if you’re trying to get into nutritional ketosis, you may want to give this recipe a miss until you’ve achieved your goal. The fewer carbohydrates you eat, the bigger the effects on weight and blood sugar will be, so I recommend you follow a strict low-carb diet (“keto" diet) until you’re happy with your weight and health. Thereafter, you can be more liberal and are free to enjoy Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls as keto-friendly comfort food during the colder months that lie ahead.   

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Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls (serves 4)

Ingredients

4 small round squash e.g. bonbon, onion or kabocha (no more than 800-1000 grams unprepared weight is about right even if you’re hungry!)

200g Gruyère or similar i.e. mature vegetarian Cheddar, finely grated

200g organic Parmesan or vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated

A few gratings of organic nutmeg

2 tbsp fresh organic thyme leaves

500ml organic double cream

Organic sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp fresh organic thyme leaves

4 thyme sprigs to decorate - optional

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 190°C / 375℉ / Gas 5.

If any of the squash don’t sit upright on a flat surface, cautiously trim a tiny sliver off the bottom so that they do. N.B. Be very careful not to cut into the surrounding flesh as any holes in the bottom of the squash will allow the cream and cheese filling to seep out.  

Slice the top inch or so from the squash, keep to one side as this will serve as your lid. Scrape out the pulp and seeds using a non-swivel vegetable peeler and spoon; you should be left with a hollow bowl.

Place the squash in a baking dish. Divide the cheese between the 4 squash, add a grating of nutmeg and the thyme leaves. Pour in the cream to come two-thirds of the way up the cavity.

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Season with generous turns of black pepper and a cautious amount of salt, keeping in mind the saltiness of the cheeses.    

Pop the lid on and bake for 1 hour until tender. 

When cooked, remove the lids and add a fresh thyme sprig to each squash before jauntily placing their tops at an angle alongside to serve.

Eat by scraping the soft flesh into the hot cream. Delish!

 

Notes:

Do not overcook the squash. If they’re left in the oven too long their skins can burst.

 

Fat 81g Protein 34g Carbohydrate 22g

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Primal Choca Mocha Brownies

by Susan Smith in


I recently signed a birthday card I’d bought for an old friend several weeks earlier, which read “…let’s celebrate with cake”, when I suddenly realised that unless I actually made a cake, there wouldn’t be one to celebrate with. It was all a bit 'lastminute.com', but not wanting my birthday message to seem disingenuous, I had no choice but to set to with the task I’d unwittingly assigned myself.

I didn’t have enough time to bake, fill and decorate a proper birthday cake. However, my predilection for strong coffee and a small chunk or two of very dark chocolate every morning was the inspiration for these quickly made Primal Choca Mocha Brownies. When I first conceive a recipe idea I don’t have a clue how it will turn out - and clearly someone’s birthday isn’t the best time to experiment - but I figured that whatever the outcome at least he’d know I cared.

Oh boy, it seems I did care and then some! My friend’s birthday surprise cake was an even bigger surprise for me! As brownies go, these gorgeous, fudgy, bittersweet, chocolatey pieces of heaven simply knock the socks off the rest. And without added sugar or grains, they’re healthy to boot.

Whilst my blogging has suffered a lot of downtime lately because of other more pressing commitments, behind scenes the research and cooking continues. I’ve avidly been testing out various low-carb sweeteners and I think I’ve found a new best friend: Tagatose - is a natural sugar substitute derived from dairy products, fruits and cacao. It only has 38% of the calories of sugar, a very low glycemic index of 3 and no nasty aftertaste. Straight out of the packet, it looks like sugar, tastes like sugar and most importantly, it seems to behave like sugar, which I think will open up many more exciting recipe opportunities for me to share. For now, it’s made its debut appearance in this brownie recipe and in my view, they taste all the better for it.

 Sarah on her 1st birthday, fully immersed in her first chocolate cake experience. 

Sarah on her 1st birthday, fully immersed in her first chocolate cake experience. 

My youngest daughter Sarah was born a chocolate ‘fiend' and she simply can’t get enough of Primal Choca Mocha Brownies. True, her preference for sickly-sweet 20% Cadbury’s Dairy Milk when she was one year old has evolved into desire for the militantly healthy, mellow bitterness of 85% dark chocolate that she enjoys today - its deep chocolatey flavour further enhanced in this recipe by the addition of coffee. But it’s not just Sarah. When our decorator was offered a square of this rich chocolate cake he thought it was so good I should be making my brownies to sell to M&S!

No doubt Sarah will protest when the last crumbs from the last batch of brownies are eaten but with Christmas just around the corner and a bag of tagatose beckoning, the food blogger in me is excited to try and create a previously impossible-to-make keto version of an impressive looking dessert that just happens to be my eldest daughter Elizabeth's favourite. Fair’s fair - so girls, let there be no sibling rivalry! The rule is if it works, I’ll share…hopefully, with enough time to spare so it can grace every Christmas dessert table. Primal, Paleo, keto, low-carb or simply health conscious, if I can pull this one off, you’re going to love it. Watch this space!

Meanwhile, I invite you to try your hand with these bad boys. Note to Sarah: I’m brownied-out for now, so this means you too! As my foray into baking ‘instant’ b’day cake shows, they can be made, baked, cooled and eaten within 2 hours. I think you’ll agree it’s time well spent for making something so amazing. 

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Primal Choca Mocha Brownies (makes 12)

Ingredients - for the brownies

180g organic unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
215g organic dark chocolate couverture chips
65g 100% organic dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
3 large organic eggs
100g Sweet Health Tagatose
2 tsp pure vanilla essence
110g organic tiger nut flour
70g organic ground almonds
110g organic pecan nuts, roughly chopped
40ml freshly-made strong espresso
1 tsp pure coffee extract

Ingredients - for the ganache

70g organic dark chocolate couverture chips
60ml full-fat organic coconut milk

primal chocolate brownies.jpg

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4.

Grease a deep sided, square brownie baking tray (mine measured 19½ cm x 19½ cm) and line the bottom and sides with non-stick (parchment) paper. A single piece of paper cut an inch or so bigger than the dimensions of your baking tray and then cut down into each corner (with a pair of scissors) so the paper sits flat in the tin is the easiest way to do this.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a very low heat. When it is melted take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate, which will melt down in the warm butter without spoiling. Allow to cool slightly.

Put the eggs, tagatose and vanilla essence into a large bowl and whisk together until you get a pale, thick, fluffy foam. I used an electric whisk, which took about 5 minutes.

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Stir in the melted chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the tiger nut flour, ground almonds and chopped pecans.

Finally, stir in the espresso and coffee essence to loosen the mixture a little, then pour into the prepared tin. The mixture should be just soft enough (though not runny) to find its own level in the tin but you may need to spread it out evenly with a flat spatula.

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Bake for 25 minutes - test with a cocktail stick, it should seem ever so slightly undercooked i.e. a few moist crumbs should stick to the cocktail stick when you withdraw it.

Cool in the tray, then remove from the tin with its lining paper. Lay the paper with the cake still on top onto a work surface and, with a sharp serrated knife, cut into 12 even squares.

Next, make the chocolate ganache: Gently warm the chocolate and coconut milk together in a small saucepan, stirring all the while until the chocolate melts into a smooth, pourable sauce. N.B. Don’t overheat as this will cause the mixture to split.

Using a metal tablespoon, drizzle the ganache randomly but generously over the brownies. Leave the ganache to set before fully separating into squares ready for serving.


Notes

These brownies will keep well, stored in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.


Fat 36g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 15g

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Courgette & Blue Stilton Gratin

by Susan Smith in ,


Our lives are pretty hectic nowadays, so recently my focus has been on creating healthy meals that can quickly be pulled together after work. Although other commitments mean I’ve not been able to post as many recipes on this blog as I’d like, the beat goes on. You’d have to come to my home on a weekday to see that even when I barely have time to sneeze, I have dozens of fast and easy recipes (still yet to share) for nutritious meals that are easily prepared and cooked within an hour.

This past week I’ve been helping Sarah with Mirror Imaging meetings, collaborating on a designer catwalk and prosecco party for what promises to be the East Midland’s wedding event of the year, cooking real food every day (even if it’s just soup and sandwiches), creating new recipes, writing my blog, playing catch-up with my finances (not least with tenants threatening non payment of rent!) and spending many hours online researching yet another kitty-related health scare when my cat Sushi, now in her eighteenth year, stopped eating for 5 days. Turns out, she was suffering with a troublesome tooth. This is the fourth time in the past 2 years that our feisty feline has been spared the doom and gloom of a more serious prognosis and my heartfelt thanks goes to her brilliant, kind-hearted vet, who deftly removed the damn thing with minimum fuss and distress to both Sushi and I. When cats of more than 10 years old get ill, the spectre of chronic kidney disease (CKD) seems to continually rear its ugly head, so the offending tooth was pulled out without anaesthetic or pain relief. Sushi and I were very brave! 

Because our puss-cat has always been afforded the status of a family member (in my view, you should never keep a pet if s/he isn’t) her needs are our highest priority. Caring for her when she’s in crisis takes a lot of time and loving dedication. It’s when you’re multi-tasking and knackered that easy-to-prepare food, which comforts and revives is a godsend. Courgette & Blue Stilton Gratin does the job perfectly. Simply serve with lightly dressed salad leaves for minimum effort.

Although this gratin does require a little forethought prior to making - you need to degorge the courgettes (sprinkle with salt to draw out their water content) for at least half-an-hour before assembling the dish - it’s a simple and quick meal for busy people to cook at the end of a working day. Unfortunately, you can’t skip the salting process because if you do, you’ll end up with curdled custard sat in a pool of excess liquid. Just breathe and pour yourself a glass of wine while you wait. Or do what I do when I’m working away from home…call your partner and ask them to do this part of the food prep ahead of time. If he remembers to open a bottle of red wine to let it breathe so I’m handed a glass the minute I walk through the door, it’s all good. It then only takes 10 minutes to assemble the dish and get it in the oven.

Cream, eggs and tangy blue cheese topped with crunchy toasted pecans is a luxurious, vegetarian, ketogenic meal that reminds me of Christmas. An all-in-one dish to include in your healthy eating repertoire at any time of the year - high in healthy grass-fed cream, butter and cheese makes food taste better and you feel more satisfied - it’s a shopper’s delight in the countdown to Christmas. It’s also an indulgent, low-carb, vegetarian main course to serve with traditional festive accompaniments for those of us that don’t want, or would like to take a break from, all the meaty fare on offer at Christmas.

Thankfully, 'meat-free' no longer applies to Sushi. With painful tooth extracted, she’ll be looking forward to chowing down on turkey!

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Courgette & Blue Stilton Gratin (Serves 3)

Ingredients

3 medium-large (approx 600g) organic courgettes

Pure Himalayan fine salt

200g organic blue stilton cheese

2 tbsp organic fresh thyme leaves

3 large organic eggs

300ml organic double cream 

Pinch of organic nutmeg, freshly grated 

Organic black pepper, freshly ground

50g organic pecan nuts, roughly chopped

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Instructions

Wash, trim and dry the courgettes. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice the courgettes diagonally into 6-8 mm thick ovals. Season with salt and leave them in a sieve or colander set over a bowl, to remove excess water (i.e. degorge) for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Whilst the courgettes are degorging, cut the Stilton cheese into small cubes. Set aside. Put the thyme leaves and chopped pecans into two separate bowls.

Place the eggs, double cream, grated nutmeg and pepper into a large jug and lightly whisk until combined. You can add a pinch of salt, but season cautiously because the cheese will already be quite salty.

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 6

Dry the courgette slices thoroughly between two clean tea towels and/or dab them dry with paper kitchen roll.

Lay one-third of the courgette slices evenly in the base of an ovenproof (gratin) dish. Add one-third of the cheese, dotting it around the dish. Sprinkle over half the thyme leaves. 

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Repeat with a second layer of courgette slices, cheese and thyme leaves, then finish with a third layer of courgettes and finally the remaining cheese.

Give the egg mixture a quick stir and pour evenly into the dish. Scatter over the chopped pecans.

Cook in the oven for 35 minutes until the egg custard is set. 

Remove from the oven and let the gratin stand for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Fat 96g Protein 30g Carbohydrate 7g

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Chocolate Truffle Pots With Raspberries

by Susan Smith in ,


For crying out loud! How do I know that Christmas is already snapping at my heels again? Answer: When Waitrose start to email and text me that it’s time to bag my preferred Christmas delivery date before all their slots are taken. Apparently, if you don’t want to miss out and be forced to jostle with the rest of the shoppers in-store this Christmas, you’d better be one of the first in their virtual queue. The trouble is, to qualify you have to fill your shopping basket today with everything you might fancy eating in three months time! Looks like wild sockeye salmon, king Madagascan prawns and Nyetimber fizz - the ultimate English alternative to Champagne - are already destined to feature in our Christmas celebrations this year! 

As it happens, last Sunday was one of those all too rare occasions when both my lovely daughters and I sat down together for a family meal. So taken was I at the prospect of this mini social gathering that even though I am currently as run off my feet as it’s possible to be - think headless chicken - I still felt inspired to make something really special for us to eat. These Chocolate Truffle Pots With Raspberries were devoured with so much enthusiasm, I now also know what’s going to be the grand finale to our Christmas lunch! Organised by default, or what? To be honest, they’re such an easy, make-ahead dessert to simply grab from the fridge as you need them, they’ll probably make several dinner party appearances before the festive season gets underway in earnest.

Besides, there’s nothing more un-diet-like than a rich, chocolatey pudding to show people how deliciously easy it is to eat yourself healthy and then stay slim once you’ve decided to ditch high carbohydrates and switch your body’s energy source from sugar to high quality fats. WARNING: If you eat lots of high-fat food whilst continuing to eat sugar and grains, you will get fat! 

Pregnant women and high performance athletes may be an exception, but for the vast majority of us carb intolerants, a high-fat, moderate protein and low-carb diet, especially in combination with gentle intermittent fasting, will burn-off excess body fat, keep you at your optimum weight, reduce chronic inflammation (the root cause of most disease) and help you take back your health and vitality. Sounds too good to be true but I invite you to give LCHF the chance to work its magic before the party season kicks off…by which time there should be significantly less of you to fit into your party clothes!

Very good quality, organic chocolate and a mere tablespoon of organic maple syrup makes six individual Chocolate Truffle Pots With Raspberries that are neither too sweet or too bitter. A sophisticated, delectable dessert that keeps on giving with every luscious spoonful - dig deep for the pretty pink raspberry centre that pairs beautifully with the creaminess of chocolate truffle - and don’t let the big fat lie that you’ve been told, particularly about saturated fat, mar your enjoyment. Though everyone finds it difficult to believe, this heavenly, ‘fit for the gods’ high-fat pudding gets you over the psychological hump of diet deprivation and hangry sugar cravings to actually help you shed body fat. Do you really need any other excuse not to make it?

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Chocolate Truffle Pots With Raspberries (Serves 6)

Ingredients

150g organic frozen raspberries

50g organic *100% cocoa solids dark chocolate (see Notes below)

75g organic *76% cocoa solids dark chocolate (see Notes below)

300ml organic double cream

4 drops organic liquid stevia

1 tbsp organic maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 large organic egg yolks

2 tbsp Sukrin:1

Raw organic cacao powder, to dust (see Notes below)

Sukrin icing sugar, to dust

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Instructions

Boil a kettle of water. Pre-heat the oven to 150℃ (130℃ fan) / 300℉ / Gas mark 2.

Put the chocolate into a saucepan with the cream and place over a medium heat. Heat slowly to just below boiling point whilst stirring from time to time until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture smooth. Stir in the liquid stevia, vanilla extract and maple syrup then set aside to cool slightly.

Divide the frozen raspberries between 6 x 125ml ramekins (25g per ramekin)

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Place the egg yolks and Sukrin:1 into a bowl and stir together using a wooden spoon. Stir in the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

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Divide the mixture between the ramekins (approximately 80g per ramekin), settle the mixture evenly into their pots by gently tapping the sides of the ramekins before placing them into a deep roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

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Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to to cool, then cover and chill overnight. 

Remove the ramekins from the fridge 30 minutes before serving to allow them to reach room temperature. 

Just before serving dust with cacao powder and a sprinkling of Sukrin icing sugar, if liked  

 

Notes

Raw cacao is less processed than cocoa powder and so retains natural antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It has the same great taste as cocoa and is used in exactly the same way but for this recipe I chose to go one better. People often ask me if I believe in taking nutritional supplements and indeed I do. Never one to miss a golden opportunity, I used Miessence Berry Radical Antioxidant Superfood - a chocolatey-tasting food supplement - to dust my truffle pots. In fact, if you suspect your diet is deficient in fruit and vegetables, this tasty, high potency formulation gives you the antioxidant equivalent of eight servings of fruit and vegetables in every teaspoon! 

I always prioritise eating well to support good health so there’s no point in being cheap…er frugal, when it comes to feeding your body with the nutrients it needs. Along with Miessence Berry Radical antioxidants, which we usually make into a delicious chocolate milk sweetened with pure stevia drops, we also take a teaspoon each of Miessence InLiven Probiotics and DeepGreen Alkalising Superfood mixed with fresh lemon juice and water, each and every day. At least I then know that no matter how hectic or stressful life gets, my family is never going to be nutritionally short-changed. If you know you don’t always have the time to cook fresh, healthy meals, the Miessence Vitality Pack is the most convenient, natural way to reliably supplement an inadequate diet. 

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I had a glut of 100% cocoa solids, no added sugar, organic chocolate bars given to me to sample for a birthday surprise. To be honest, I must be a 100% cocoa solids chocolate ‘wimp’ because I found only one of them smooth and mellow enough to eat straight from its wrapping! The rest will find their way into future Primal Plate recipes to make them even more low-carb. * If you prefer (it’s much cheaper), you can replace the two types of chocolate that I used with 125 grams of Green & Black’s 85% organic dark chocolate. I haven’t tested it out, but I imagine to get a similar taste profile to my chocolate truffle pots (I don’t like overly sweet chocolate), you will need to add less stevia - try adding just 2 stevia drops at first, then taste before adding more to adjust the sweetness to your liking. 

 

Fat 40g Protein 5g Carbohydrate 9g - per serving


Almond Coconut & Blueberry Cake

by Susan Smith in


It’s my birthday this weekend and to celebrate I’m eating cake…a lot of it since there are only three of us sharing! Of course, my b’day cake is not cake as most people know it. Far from being ‘naughty but nice’, this Almond Coconut & Blueberry Cake is a superfood extravaganza that looks like cake, tastes like cake, emotionally satisfies like cake yet does no harm. Seriously, what sort of a celebration is it if you know you’re going to suffer afterwards? On the other hand, do puritans ever have fun?

Sweet-toothed, cake scoffers and fans of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ take note: high carbohydrate intake (sugar and grains) makes you fat, diseased and sends you to an early grave. Unfortunately, it appears there’s a growing army of people disassociated from cooking healthy dinners but magnetised towards the kitchen when it involves baking cake. 

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Today’s recipe for Almond Coconut & Blueberry Cake goes with the flow. Yummy, sweet-tasting, light and moist, this lovely cake is something for sugar addicts to drool over. It’s also perfect for the likes of me, who wants nourishment not punishment from life’s celebrations!

The final word goes to a recent scientific study published in The Lancet (29 August 2017) 

"High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings."

To translate, high fat and low carb is the future of cake and, birthday or not, this simple to make Almond Coconut & Blueberry Cake is way to go to bake yourself happy! 

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Almond Coconut & Blueberry Cake (serves 12) 

Ingredients

180g organic ground almonds

100g organic coconut butter (not all coconut butters are created equal, I recommend Biona’s Coconut Bliss)

150g organic virgin coconut oil (or use organic grass-fed unsalted butter, if you prefer)

100g organic tiger nut flour

1½ tsp gluten free baking powder

60g Sukrin:1

4 large organic eggs

1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

60ml organic maple syrup

200g organic fresh blueberries

60g organic flaked almonds

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Instructions

Line the base and sides of a 21cm springform baking tin with non-stick parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180℃ /  350℉ / Gas mark 4

Gently melt the Coconut Bliss and coconut oil (or unsalted butter) together in a saucepan set over a very low heat. Do not let it get too hot, it needs to be no warmer than blood heat to melt the two ingredients together. 

Place the ground almonds, tiger nut flour, baking powder and Sukrin:1 into a separate bowl and aerate with a whisk until there are no lumps and all the ingredients are evenly incorporated into the mix.

In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs together with the vanilla extract and maple syrup.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients (egg mix and melted butter/oil) into the dry mix and whisk thoroughly. 

Add 150g blueberries to the batter, folding them in with a spoon.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries on top together with the flaked almonds (in that order)

Bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake. comes out clean. Cook longer, if needed (mine took 1 hour 5 minutes!)

Cool the cake in its tin, then turn out carefully and remove the paper before placing the cake the right way up on to a cake stand or serving plate. For a simple but charming birthday cake, place a single lighted candle in the centre of the cake.  

Serve at room temperature with a cup of tea. Alternatively, serve warm for dessert with a dollop of organic créme fraîche. 

 

Fat 32.5g Protein 8g Carbohydrate 13g - per slice

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