Apple Pie Muffins

by Susan Smith in


We have two very old Bramley apple trees in our garden, which every autumn produce a mass of fruits that inevitably fall from the tree faster than we can harvest them. Clearing them up is a messy business but I console myself that whilst ever they lie rotting on the ground our resident squirrels, hedgehogs, birds, bugs and other critters in nature make good use of them, and when completely decomposed, they act as an organic fertiliser for the soil and plants close by.

This year I was determined to pick some of the most perfect specimens straight off the tree ready for us to eat. A good idea, except for the fact It’s taken me a month to decide what to do with them, let alone find the time for baking. In the interim, they stored well in the dark of our cellar, just waiting for my ‘eureka' moment and their transformation into delicious Apple Pie Muffins.

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Aside from the fact that apple pie is an iconic English dessert and the Bramley's Seedling tree grew from pips planted in 1809 by Mary Ann Brailsford in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, which is just 4 miles up the road from where I live, the idea to create a quick, simple-to-bake muffin that tastes just like regular apple pie was prompted by Steenbergs, who sell an organic ‘apple pie’ spice mix, which I recently purchased from them along with some other Christmassy-inspired goodies.

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I think it’s safe to say that all human beings are hard-wired to love the taste of sweetness and psychologically one of the hardest things to do when trying to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle is to try and resist sweet treats and delicious desserts. As Adam and Eve discovered to their cost, the more a ‘fruit is forbidden’, the greater compulsion humans have to eat it, which is why most diets fail long-term. But what if you can satisfy your sweet tooth without ever jeopardising your health and weight loss goals? The longer I practice the art of food alchemy, converting little known ingredients into luscious, low-carb, sweet treats that you can’t differentiate from the traditional sugar and grain offerings that are making so many of us fat and sick, the more it seems my life’s purpose is to deliver the message: ‘You can!’

The trick is to combine minimal amounts of natural sweeteners like monk fruit powder (otherwise known as Lo Han Guo) and good-for-your-gut yacon syrup with naturally sweet, prebiotic tiger nut flour and ground almonds and…Bob’s your uncle. These healthy, nutrient-dense, Apple Pie Muffins hit the sweet spot between a whole food that’s as unprocessed and close to the earth as possible and the unadulterated pleasure of sugar and spice and all things nice that feels like a big hug. Never mind “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, two Apple Pie Muffins taken by mouth daily as needed, have about a third of the carbs you’d get from eating a medium apple!

Apple Pie Muffins taste so good and monk fruit powder allows us to enjoy this delicious taste whilst keeping us safe from sugar’s harm. Totally compatible with a keto-lifestyle, these appley muffins incentivised us for the first time in 27 years to rush out and collect the rest of our precious Bramleys before the slugs got to them. With a big box full of usable fruits ostensibly stashed away for the winter months, I doubt that they’ll see December out. 

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Apple Pie Muffins (makes 12)

Ingredients

100g extra fine organic tiger nut flour (see Note below)

150g organic ground almonds 

1½ tsp gluten free baking powder

2 tsp organic apple pie spice

½ heaped teaspoon pure monk fruit powder (see Note below)

2 large organic free-range eggs

125 ml organic whole milk

75g organic unsalted butter

1 tbsp organic yacon syrup

2 large organic Bramley apples, peeled, cored & cut into very small pieces (you should end up with about 325g of chopped apple)

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 and line a 12 x hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix the tiger nut flour, ground almonds, apple pie spice and monk fruit powder together in a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter over a gentle heat together with the yacon syrup. Set aside to cool a little.

In a separate beat the eggs and milk, then add the melted butter and yacon syrup and mix together well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just enough to combine, do not over mix.

Add the apple pieces, and gently mix them through.

Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases (see Notes below).

Place the tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for 25 minutes until well risen and golden (they smell divine!).

Cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight tin.

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Notes

Although considerably more expensive, Navi Organics extra fine (premium grade) tiger nut flour is the very best for baking superb cakes and muffins etc. You can buy regular ground organic tiger nut flour for a lot less money and then grind it down yourself to a finer consistency in a coffee-nut grinder. However, the finished muffins, whilst unarguably delicious, may for foodie purists like me, still have a slightly annoying crunch to them!

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Whenever I bake muffins, bread rolls, biscuits etc., I find it helpful to weigh the uncooked mixture prior to dividing it between the number of portions I wish to make. For example, the amount of raw batter I had to make 12 muffins weighed a total of 925 grams, i.e. 77 grams per muffin. Measuring equal amounts of mixture into the muffin cases ensures they all rise evenly and no one gets short-changed!

These muffins freeze well.


Fat 8g  Protein 6g Carbohydrate 4g - per muffin

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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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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

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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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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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Vegan Victoria Sandwich Cake

by Susan Smith in


Lurking in the pages of Rose Elliot’s book Fast, Fresh and Fabulous (on page 186 to be precise) is a recipe for a vegan Victoria sandwich cake. No pictures or anything, just a list of ingredients that specifically excludes eggs and butter. I’ve passed over this recipe many times in favour of more enticing cake recipes because any sense of deprivation never sits well in this foodie’s heart. Besides which, surely you need eggs to make cake mix rise up properly into a light and moist cake? Erm, turns out the answer is, “No”! 

This Vegan Victoria Sandwich Cake is beautiful in its simplicity and it looks and tastes - to my utmost surprise - exactly like a well-made Victoria sandwich cake should look and taste. Booom! 

Furthermore, there’s no beating, no whisking, no sifting and no holding your breath whilst trying to extract hot cake from its tin onto a cooling rack. It’s so easy to make, I reckon I could teach a 7-year old!  

Of course, I’ve got rid of the sugar, self-raising flour and rapeseed oil in the original recipe to make this Primal/Paleo/Vegan cake a more desirable and healthier cake to eat. Oh, and I’ve even included a 5-minute recipe for a fresh-tasting, sugar-free alternative to raspberry jam. On second thoughts, I’ve made so many changes to this Vegan Victoria Sandwich Cake, it’s not Rose’s, it’s most definitely mine!

Vegan Victoria Sandwich Cake (serves 10 )

Ingredients - for the cake

175g extra fine organic tiger nut flour

125g organic ground almonds

25g Sukrin:1

3 tsp gluten-free baking powder

Grated zest from 1 organic orange

100ml fresh organic orange juice (i.e. 1-2 organic oranges, freshly squeezed)

30ml organic maple syrup

170ml freshly filtered water

90g organic coconut oil, melted & cooled for 5 minutes, plus a little extra for greasing the sandwich tins

 

Ingredients - for the filling and to serve

 3-4 tbsp sugar-free raspberry jam - or better still, make your own in 5 minutes with my Raw Sugar-Free Raspberry Jam recipe

Sukrin Icing sugar - for dusting the finished cake

 

Instructions - to make the cake

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

Melt the coconut oil over a low heat and set aside to cool

Grease and line the base of 2 x 18cm / 7 inch sandwich tins with non-stick baking parchment http://www.lakeland.co.uk/5521/100-Baking-Parchment-Liner-Paper-Circles-18cm 

Put the tiger nut flour, ground almonds, Sukrin:1, baking powder and grated orange zest into a large bowl and mix together well.

Mix the orange juice, maple syrup and water together in a separate glass bowl or jug and add to the dry ingredients. Mix well with a large rubber spatula until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated into a cake batter.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins, stand these side-by-side on a large baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Leave to cool in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack and stripping off the paper. 

Sandwich the cakes together with the jam. 

Sift the Sukrin icing on top of the cake just before serving.

Notes

Tiger nuts are high in MUFAs (pronounced moo-fahs) namely, monounsaturated fatty acids in plant-based fats, which are found in some of the world's most delicious foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds, olives, and dark chocolate! These good-for-you fats enhance heart health and protect against chronic disease. Tiger nuts are also extremely high in fibre and contain good levels of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium. They are full of oleic acid - the healthy fat found in olive oil and most important of all, resistant starch (RS). Eating like a carbohydrate but behaving like fibre, RS is a prebiotic starch that passes through the body undigested. i.e. it passes through the stomach and small intestine without being digested. When it finally reaches the colon it feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut. Anything that enhances the health of your gut has a direct impact on maintaining good health per se. To up your intake of resistant starch, try adding plain tiger nut flour to smoothies or stir through Greek yogurt for a subtle nutty sweetness. Alternatively, Primal Pronto Energy Bars are an enjoyable way to feed your face and your gut!

Although bright yellow rapeseed oil (aka canola oil) is an ingredient in Rose Elliot’s recipe that would visually enhance this orange-scented cake, I chose to use coconut oil instead. Recently, many health pundits, top chefs and recipe writers have been touting rapeseed oil as a healthier alternative to olive oil (omega 3 levels of rapeseed oil is 10 times that of olive oil and its high smoke point makes it better for cooking) but what they don’t tell you is that most rapeseed oil is heavily processed, and almost all of it comes from plants that have been genetically engineered. So far as I am aware, there is currently only one supplier of organic, cold-pressed rapeseed oil in Britain. My concern is that unmodified (non GMO), natural rapeseed is loaded with erucic acid. Erucic acid is a fatty acid that’s associated with heart damage, specifically fibrotic lesions of the heart. Not exactly a welcome side effect! Until tests have been done to show rapeseed oil is safe for human consumption (and unfortunately extensive animal testing would suggest otherwise), I prefer not to take the risk. For now, I’m sticking with healthy, organic, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil for baking.

To be clear, there has never been a single shred of scientific evidence to support the demonisation of saturated fat or for it being declared public health enemy number one by successive governments and health advisers over the past sixty years. The low-fat, high-carbohydrate hypothesis was fundamentally flawed at the outset and the subsequent recommendations to replace natural fats with highly processed vegetable and seed oils, has decimated people’s health. Thankfully, the tide is turning. Saturated fats such as coconut oil and butter are not dangerous, nor for that matter is the healthy type of trans-fat known as vaccenic acid, which is found naturally in some foods like grass-fed meats and dairy fats.

 

Carbohydrate 18g Protein 4g - per slice of cake (filled with Primal Plate’s Raw Sugar-Free Raspberry Jam)

Carbohydrate 21g (approx) Protein 4g - per slice of cake (filled with The Fruit Tree’s Raspberry Fruit Crush)


Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread

by Susan Smith in


After suffering the financial loss of a ‘rental void’ for the past six months, we’ve finally found new tenants for Sarah’s much beloved old home. Whilst landlords shouldn’t let their heart strings rule their heads when choosing prospective tenants, on this occasion they seemed to be so much ‘on our page’ it was almost love at first sight! Nature lovers, vegan and spiritually inclined, we can at least be rest assured that they won’t be poisoning our lawns and garden with Glyphosate, which is what our last tenants did because they were too idle to pull up the weeds! 

A vegan at heart but not in practice, I frequently find myself drawn to the possibility of being vegan à la Paleo - that is, without eating grains, pulses and white potatoes. It goes without saying that processed soybeans used in tofu, soy milk and various revolting dairy and meat substitutes would be off limits too. I suppose I’m just a deluded vegan food fantasist, because in reality I don’t even qualify as a fully-fledged vegetarian. The reason being, I find it virtually impossible to go to a restaurant or socialise without eating meat or fish and I can’t envisage a diet that’s not high in healthy fats such as organic egg yolks, cheese, butter, milk and cream, being anything but bland and boring. Nevertheless, our new tenants have piqued my interest in vegan recipes, so I can but try harder. 

Today’s Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread, is precisely everything it says it is. A loaf of bread full of healthy protein and fibre made without eggs, grains, dairy, yeast or added sweetener. If ever the day comes when I’m ready to make the transition, I’ll rename this recipe Susan’s Vegan Survival Bread because it’s probably one of the easiest and most useful recipes I’ve ever come up with. It really works. As well as being Primal, Paleo and vegan friendly, it’s tastes absolutely wonderful and slices brilliantly - even when still warm from the oven. As with all grain-free bread, there’s no kneading or proving required. Just whack it all together for not much more than a minute in a food processor and you’re almost done. Plus, you can make the loaf well in advance of when you want to bake it (it can be left out at room temperature for several hours or as long as overnight), it will keep well in the fridge in a sealed container for up to five days and it makes really good, hot toast. 

The ace up your sleeve for making this loaf of bread successfully, is fabulously nutritious, naturally sweet, organic tiger nut flour. Tiger nuts are an antioxidant-rich, antibacterial, high-in-fibre, pre-biotic ‘superfood’ that not only makes this bread super tasty without adding sweetener, it’s also thought to benefit male sexual performance. Surely a ‘Bread For Life’ that you shouldn’t have any problem getting the man in your life to make for you!

All in all, an amazing Paleo-inspired loaf of bread for vegans and the gluten sensitive, which looks, tastes and behaves like real bread - crusty on the outside and nicely dense and chewy in the middle. A must-bake recipe for anyone who wants an easy-to-make, healthy, omega-3 packed, sustaining, gluten-free bread to add to their low-carb repertoire. 

Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread (makes a 900g/2lb loaf - approximately 24 slices)

Ingredients

45g cold pressed organic coconut oil (or grass-fed, organic unsalted butter or ghee)

120g raw, organic seeds (I used 40g each of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seedsplus…

2 tbsp chia seeds

80g organic whole flaxseeds

250g raw, organic nuts (I used 100g unblanched almonds and 150g roasted blanched hazelnuts)  

125g organic tiger nut flour

50g organic ground almonds

4 tbsp organic psyllium husks

1½ tsp fine grain sea salt

350ml filtered water

 Clockwise, from top right: psyllium husk; sesame seeds, chia seeds, sea salt, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground almonds, whole almonds, tiger nuts, whole hazelnuts

Clockwise, from top right: psyllium husk; sesame seeds, chia seeds, sea salt, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground almonds, whole almonds, tiger nuts, whole hazelnuts

Instructions

In a small saucepan over a low heat, heat the coconut oil (butter/ghee) until it’s just melted. Use a little of the melted oil to grease the inside of a 2lb / 900g non-stick or silicone loaf pan (I used this one), then set the rest of the oil aside to cool slightly.

Place all the dry ingredients - all the seeds, nuts, tiger nut flour, ground almonds, psyillium husks, and salt - into the bowl of a food processor and whizz for about 30 seconds, or until it’s ground into a flour-like consistency.

Add the melted coconut oil (butter or ghee) to the dry ingredients and whizz for about 10-15 seconds to incorporate. With the machine still running, add the filtered water and process for another 20 to 30 seconds or until the mixture comes together into a very thick, almost paste-like dough. 

Immediately tip the dough into the greased loaf pan, press it down very firmly then smooth out the top with a flat spatula or the back of a spoon. Cover loosely with cling film and set aside for 2 hours or longer to rest. 

When you’re ready to bake the loaf, pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Place the loaf in the centre of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. 

After 25 minutes, take the loaf out of the loaf pan and place it upside down directly onto the oven rack (see note below) - then continue to bake for another 40-45 minutes.

To check if the bread is done, take it out of the oven and give it a firm tap with your knuckles. It’s cooked when it sounds hollow. 

Leave the loaf to cool on a wire rack before slicing. 

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Notes

If you have one, I recommend you use the oven’s grill pan and rack for the second baking so that you can calmly re-position the hot, part-baked, upturned loaf onto the grill rack before placing the whole grill tray back into the oven. This is far less risky than reaching into the oven and burning yourself on an already dangerously hot oven rack!

You can use any mixture of seeds and nuts, just make sure that they’re all raw, organic and within their use-by date. Any hint of rancid nuts, seeds - and indeed pysillium husk - will totally wreck the taste of the finished bread. As a food blogger and recipe developer, I always buy my nuts and seeds in bulk from Healthy Supplies but for most people it’s better to buy in smaller quantities and use them whilst they’re still really fresh.

Grinding all the seeds and nuts down into a coarse textured flour enhances the nutrient availability of Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread and allowing the raw dough to rest for several hours, or even overnight, helps ease digestion. 

I consider good health to be the first form of wealth, so I always invest in the best ingredients - pure, unadulterated and organic - when cooking for my family and developing Primal Plate recipes. I don’t flinch at the price of good food, so I used finely ground Pu‘uwai Deep Ocean Hawaiian Sea Salt in this Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread because it’s the finest, purest sea salt in the world. This delicious, mineral-rich sea salt provides 2% daily value of calcium and magnesium per serving and also contains potassium and selenium, plus many trace elements such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese and chromium, which are missing from common surface sea water. Worlds away from cheap table salt, you can learn the truth about table salt and the chemical industry here. If the price makes your eyes water, fine ground Celtic sea salt or fine Himalayan Rose Pink Salt, are good alternatives that can be purchased for about half the cost. 

This bread freezes well and can be made into croutons or breadcrumbs for coating.

 

Carbohydrate 8g Protein 5g - per slice


Almond Apricot & Lemon Cake

by Susan Smith in


Whilst fresh, ripe apricots are a metaphor for summer, I couldn’t wait to bring the clocks forward by making this very useful, springtime Almond Apricot & Lemon Cake. All light and lovely - almonds and apricots are a fabulous pairing - I decorated my cake with a top layer of no-sugar almond paste and fresh wild violets from the garden in readiness for an Easter Sunday teatime treat.

The fact is, I’m not brilliant at cake decorating, so homemade almond paste, edible flowers, which smell divine by the way, and a pretty ribbon does the job. The result is a really moist, light, golden cake studded with small pieces of fruit, which isn’t a million miles away from traditional Simnel cake, but looks prettier. 

Gorgeous as this cake is, if you want something less fussy, simply top with a sifting of icing sugar and serve with coffee or, better still, mint tea. You can also try your own homemade Lavender Mint Tea.

The cake is then easily transformed into an ‘after dinner’ dessert by serving with poached apricots, rhubarb, plums or pears. Or you can substitute an orange for the lemon in the recipe and serve with a fresh orange salad and whipped cream. In my imagination, the cake eating possibilities for this simple, delicious cake are endless.

Easy to make, it keeps like a dream.  

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Almond Apricot & Lemon Cake (Serves 12)

Ingredients - for the cake

1 organic lemon

100g organic sun dried apricots

6 organic eggs - preferably at room temperature

100g raw organic runny honey (raw acacia honey resists crystallization so retains its runny consistency without heating)

50g Sukrin:1

250g organic ground almonds

Sukrin Icing - for sifting over

 

Ingredients - for the almond paste, optional

125g organic ground almonds

25g Sukrin Gold

25g Sukrin icing sugar

1 tsp fresh organic lemon juice

1-2 tsp organic maple syrup

1 organic egg yolk

 

Ingredients - to assemble, optional

3 tbsp organic no sugar apricot jam

Edible flowers

Organic flaked almonds, lightly toasted

Ribbon

 

Instructions - to make the cake

Wash the lemon, then put it in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until soft (about 45 minutes). Take off the heat, add the dried apricots to the pan. Leave to cool.

Grease a loose-based 8” cake tin (preferably springform) and line the sides and base with non-stick baking parchment.

Pre-heat the oven to 150℃ / 300℉ / Gas mark 2.

Drain the lemon and apricots. Cut the lemon into quarters and remove any pips. Dry the apricots on kitchen paper then cut each one into several pieces. Put the lemon quarters and apricots into a food processor or blender and whizz together until very finely chopped into almost - but not quite - a smooth puree i.e. it needs to retain some texture.

Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, honey and Sukrin:1 together for about 6 to 8 minutes until they are pale and thick and until the mixture holds its shape for a few seconds when it’s flicked across the surface of the rest of the mix.

Whisk in the lemon and apricot puree. Then, using a large metal spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold in the ground almonds.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1¼ hours, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. N.B. To prevent the cake from getting too brown, cover the top of the cake lightly with a circle of non-stick baking parchment after the first 45 minutes baking time. 

After you take the cake from the oven, leave it to cool completely in the tin, then turn out carefully and remove the paper. 

Dust the cake with Sukrin Icing just prior to serving.

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Instructions - to make the almond paste, optional

Put the ground almonds, Sukrin Gold and Sukrin Icing into a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add the egg yolk, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup and process until a soft, dry paste forms (takes about 1 minute). If it doesn’t come together into a malleable paste (test by squeezing a little of the mixture between two fingers to see if it holds together), add another teaspoon of maple syrup and whizz again. It’s a fine balance. The longer you process the almonds the more oil is released, which helps bind the mixture together. However, it you over-process it, the paste becomes too oily and sticky to handle.  

Form the almond paste into a ball then place between two sheets of cling film or baking parchment. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand, then roll out evenly into an 8 inch (20 cm) circle. N.B. You can either draw a circle on the back of the bottom sheet of baking parchment to guide you or use a cake tin liner placed under the bottom sheet of cling film.

 

Instructions - to assemble the cake

Invert the cake onto a serving plate so that the bottom side of the cake becomes the top i.e. you have a completely flat surface to work on. 

Heat the jam slightly in a small saucepan and brush it over the top of the cake.

Remove the top sheet of parchment or cling film from the rolled out circle of almond paste, then with the help of the paper or cling film still underneath, lift the almond paste onto the top of the cake. Press down lightly with your hands, then peel away the remaining paper/cling film.

Crimp the edge of the almond paste with your fingers or alternatively create a pattern around the top edge of the cake by light indenting with the prongs of a fork or wooden skewer. Decorate with organic edible flowers, toasted flaked almonds and a matching ribbon (see photo).

Just prior to serving, sift a little Sukrin Icing over the top of the cake.  

 

Carbohydrate 13g Protein 9g - per serving of plain cake

Carbohydrate 16g Protein 11g - per serving of cake with almond paste

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Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart

by Susan Smith in


I am never one to say “No” to an invitation to dinner and last week Sarah surprised me by inviting us over to her’s…twice! It just so happens that’s she’s become a dab hand at making today’s recipe for Taleggio, Broccoli and Leek Tart - although after years of perfecting the art, neither of us can remember where her original inspiration came from. As with all things Primal, there have been enough modifications to allow me to confidently call this deeply delicious, satisfying tart “Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart.” 

Firstly, being Primal, there are no grains allowed and secondly, she’s confidently upped the ante on the eggs and cheese to make this a really luxurious and filling family dinner - albeit it’s not unknown for us to eat the whole of this tart, which is supposed to feed six, between the three of us. 

As it turns out, it was much trickier to get the recipe out of Sarah’s head and into written form than it is for her to bake it! It took her a couple of hours to write the recipe down and me twice as long as that to decipher what she’d written before it could make an appearance on Primal Plate’s blog! Nevertheless, as you can see from the picture of my serving of tart, it is very worthy of its honorary place.

Taking on the ‘huff and puff’ of food blogging is very much akin to photographing the finished food on the plate. From time to time, this strong mother-daughter team, of which I am so proud, will attempt to walk a mile in each other’s shoes. Sometimes Sarah passes me her camera, but on this occasion she volunteered for a day in the life of a food blogger. This is what workplace equality is all about and as I write, epitomises the spirit of today’s ‘International Women’s Day’ (8 March 2017) but more than this, it is always a privilege to have Mirror Imaging Photography create such beautiful images to bring to life all of Primal Plate's recipes. 

This one is an absolute winner. It’s also much easier to make than a conventional tart because the nut-based pastry behaves itself so much better than a normal wheat flour pastry does. Sarah learned this lesson very early on in life from Mrs Bainbridge, her home economics teacher at secondary school, who thought that the way to get a crumbling flour pastry mix under control was to bash it around on the worktop until it surrendered itself up as a pliable piece of dough, which then cooked out to something resembling a brick. Did I miss my vocation? Is this why so many of Sarah’s generation have given up on cooking their own food? Over-handling or adding too much water to normal flour is the sure-fire way to achieve pastry disaster. This can’t happen with nut-based pastry. Provided that you add the diluted milk judiciously - just enough to bring the mixture together (see instructions below) - you cannot help but achieve a crispy, golden, melt-in-the-mouth almond pastry because, without gluten, it’s impossible to overwork. Perfect for the novice cook and, without any grains or gluten, it's much healthier for you too.

Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart (serves 6)

Ingredients - for almond pastry

400g organic ground almonds

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder 

50g organic butter, melted + a little extra for greasing

4-6 tbsp diluted whole organic milk (to dilute the milk, mix 3 tbsp milk & 3 tbsp fresh filtered water together)

 

Instructions - to make the pastry case

Preheat oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5 

Grease a 25cm / 10inch round, fluted, non-stick, loose-bottomed pastry case with a little melted butter, then line the base with a round piece of non-stick baking parchment for good measure.

To make the almond pastry - sieve the baking powder into the ground almonds and mix together well. 

Stir the melted butter into the almond mixture, then add the diluted milk - one tablespoon at a time - and stir everything together with a fork. N.B. We’ve found that 4 tablespoons of diluted milk is usually enough to bind the mixture without the pastry becoming too wet.

When it starts to clump together, abandon the fork and use your hand to bring the mixture together into a firm but moist dough (the warmth of your hand will help to do this by releasing the oil in the nuts). Shape into a ball.

Lay out a large sheet of clingfilm onto a work surface (you may need two sheets overlapped), then place your smooth ball of pastry in the middle and flatten it out slightly.

Lay a second sheet of clingfilm over the top of the pastry (this will stop it from sticking to your rolling pin) and roll out evenly to about 3mm-5mm thickness. As you roll, turn regularly to achieve an even round shape that is approximately 2½cm/1” larger than the circumference of your tart tin (this allows for the sides of the tart). 

Carefully peel off the top layer of clingfilm, then loosely wrap the pastry around your rolling pin removing the bottom layer of clingfilm as you do. Then using the rolling pin to support the pastry, lift it in one piece directly into the tart tin. If it splits or breaks in transition (as it often does!), don’t worry, just patch it back together by pressing it firmly and evenly into the base and up the sides of the tin with your hands. You can add smaller pieces of pastry to fill any gaps and particularly to reinforce the top edge - just press any seams together with your fingers so there are no gaps and it’s as even as you can make it. N.B. Since almond nut flour is gluten-free it’s easier to handle than normal shortcrust pastry, because it doesn't get harder and tougher when you re-work it.

Once it’s settled in the tart tin in an even thickness, prick the base with the prongs of a fork, then lift the pastry tin into the air and, rotating the tin with one hand, use a sharp knife to trim any raggedy bits of pastry off the top edge to create a neat finish. Form any leftover pastry into a ball, cover in clingwrap and store in the fridge for up to a week. You can then re-roll and make into almond biscuits, which are perfect served with cheese after dinner, or as a base for pre-dinner smoked salmon canapés.

Bake the pastry case blind i.e. place a large piece of baking parchment on top of the pastry - it needs to be big enough to cover the entire pastry case - and weight down with ceramic baking beans (rice grains, dried peas or dried beans will do just as well) then bake in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 mins. 

After this first baking, remove the baking beans and parchment and cook for a further 5-6 minutes - you’re looking for an evenly baked, pale golden case without any wet pastry showing in the middle. N.B. Keep a careful eye on it to ensure that the top edge doesn’t get too brown - nut-based pastry can scorch easily and if it’s over-browned at this stage it will be too dark after it’s filled and re-baked. 

When cooked, remove from the oven and set aside. 

Ingredients - for filling

Head of organic broccoli (about 350g)

200g taleggio cheese

6 tbsp organic whole-fat milk

2 tsp English mustard powder

6 organic eggs

120ml organic double cream

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp organic butter, melted (or organic olive oil)

2 organic medium-sized leeks

1 tbsp organic fresh thyme leaves, chopped 

 

Instructions - to make filling

Reduce the oven temperature to 170℃ / 325℉ / Gas mark 3

Cut the broccoli into small florets. Steam for about 4-5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and put straight into ice cold water (or run under the cold tap) to stop the cooking process and to keep their colour.

Trim off the roots and coarse dark green tops of the leeks, then with a sharp knife slice them lengthways halfway through i.e. from top to root without actually cutting them in half. Wash under a running tap, fanning the layers out with your fingers to rinse away any grit or soil trapped between them. Drain thoroughly and then slice across into 1cm thick rings. 

Place the leeks and the olive oil into a large saucepan, give the leeks a quick stir to make sure that they’re evenly coated in the oil, then cover with a circle of greaseproof paper cut to fit the pan and the pan lid. Cook over a gentle heat for about 8-10 minutes until the leeks are soft and tender but not coloured. 

Remove the paper lid and stir in the broccoli and thyme then, whilst continually stirring, turn up the heat to cook off any excess liquid. You need to make sure the mixture is as dry as possible without browning the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the taleggio cheese by removing its wrapping and cutting off any of the rind as thinly as you can (it will have a mould-like bloom, which you don’t want in the tart). Slice into thin pieces, and set aside.

In a Pyrex jug or bowl, first whisk the mustard powder into a little of the milk until smooth, then add the rest of the milk, cream, eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture until the eggs are broken up and all the ingredients are well combined. Set aside.

 

Instructions - to assemble the tart

Lay a sheet of tin foil on a flat baking sheet, then place your pastry case, still in its tin, on the sheet. Scrunch the tinfoil up a little around the base of the tin because if your pastry has any gaps at all, this will prevent the filling running out all over your oven!

Evenly distribute the vegetables in the base of the pastry case. 

Give the egg custard mixture a quick stir (sometimes the mustard settles at the bottom) and carefully pour into the pastry case over the vegetables. Lay the slices of taleggio cheese evenly over the top. 

Bake immediately in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the custard is lightly set and the surface of the tart is nicely golden.

Remove from the oven and let the tart cool for 5-10 minutes. Then, using a small sharp knife, loosen around the top edge of the tart before releasing from its tin.

Slice and serve warm or cold. 

 

Notes

Sarah doubles up on the quantity of Primal Plate’s original almond pastry recipe to make sure there is plenty to roll out without scrimping; this means that there will be about a third left over for almond biscuits etc. The remaining raw dough can be stored in a refrigerator for up to a week. 

Taleggio cheese is made from non-vegetarian rennet, strict lacto-vegetarians could substitute a soft-melting cheese such as Duchy’s organic brie.

 

Carbohydrate 12g Protein 33g - per serving


Red Velvet Cupcakes

by Susan Smith in


All you need is love, but these little cupcakes ain’t half bad at making the point! Primal Plate’s Red Velvet Cupcakes are the sweetest-tasting, sexiest-looking, Valentine’s day indulgence to share with your sweetheart. For all the world you might think that one bite into one of these aggressively pink, attitudinal cupcakes would be enough to send Primal sugar phobes into a state of apoplexy… but their good looks deceive. 

These light-as-a-feather cupcakes are in fact a nutritious health food made from organic grass-fed butter, organic tiger nut flour, raw cacao and fresh beetroot. No added sugar, no grains, no artificial food colour. Talk about share the love!

Over the past few weeks Sarah seems to have been really cake-hungry because she’s frequently been asking “When are you going to make more cake?” As it turns out Valentine’s day is just the right time because, after waiting for so long, she was only too happy to help me by patiently making little ‘love notes’ out of greaseproof paper and ribbon hearts to decorate these bad boys! Gloriously chocolatey and dressed to kill for the occasion, they taste every bit as good as they look. 

As for the not so sweet-toothed or love-struck, they’re just yummy little everyday cakes to eat plain with a really good cup of tea or coffee. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes (makes 18)

Ingredients - for the cupcakes

250g organic premium tiger nut flour

3 tbsp organic raw cacao powder

1 tsp organic ground cinnamon

2 tsp gluten-free baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g organic unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

150g Sukrin Gold

3 organic eggs, at room temperature

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

120 ml organic milk or other milk of choice - e.g. almond, cashew or coconut milk 

2 medium-sized organic beetroots, finely grated

 

Ingredients - for the buttercream (enough to decadently decorate 8 cupcakes)

200g Sukrin Icing

100g organic unsalted, preferably raw, grass-fed butter

2 tbsp fresh organic beetroot juice (or use milk if you don’t have a juicer)

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

 

Instructions - for the cupcakes

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

Place 18 paper cupcake cases into two 12 hole muffin trays

Combine the tiger nut flour, cacao powder, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a medium size mixing bowl. Fork through to get rid of any lumps.

Fix the double-bladed ’S’ shaped knife into a food processor and place the softened butter, Sukrin Gold, the bowl of dry ingredients, vanilla extract and eggs into the processor bowl. 

Process for about 30 seconds until well mixed. You may need to scrape down the sides of the of the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is incorporated. Add 100 ml of the milk and process again for another 10 seconds. You’re aiming for a creamy (not too runny) consistency. Add the remaining 20ml of milk and process for a few more seconds if the mixture still seems a little too thick.  

Scrape the mixture out of the processor bowl into a clean mixing bowl and stir in the grated beetroot until evenly incorporated.

Using a small ice cream scoop fill each paper case with approximately 50g-55g of the cake mixture.  

Bake in the middle of the oven for 18 - 20 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to cool briefly in the baking tins before removing them and cooling completely on wire racks.

Instructions - for the buttercream icing

Place all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk together with an electric beater until light and fluffy. 

Place a large star shaped nozzle into a disposable piping bag. Cut the end of the bag off so that the end of the nozzle is not covered. Twist the bag immediately behind the back of the nozzle to prevent the icing coming out until you’re ready. 

Place the bag into a large tall glass and fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass. Alternatively, get someone else to hold the bag open whilst you fill it.

Carefully fill the bag with the prepared buttercream. Close the top of the bag by twisting it tightly - you can secure it with a rubber band to make sure the buttercream can’t ooze back out of the top - then push the buttercream down inside the bag to remove any air-locks. 

Starting at the outer edge of the cupcake, slowly squeeze the piping bag to allow the buttercream to gently fall onto the cupcake. Keep going around the cupcake in increasingly smaller circles until you reach the middle. N.B. the nozzle needs to stay slightly raised above the surface of the cake so you don’t drag the icing as you go. 

Decorate with fresh berries or edible flowers - organic rose petals would be nice - if you don’t want the fiddle and faff of making Sarah’s fabulously conceived love notes!

cupcake decorations.jpg

Notes

If your oven shelves are not large enough for both baking trays to fit side by side on the middle shelf, then swap them over after about 12 minutes cooking time - no earlier because the mixture needs time to set. If you have a double oven, you can use them both to ensure these cupcakes bake evenly to perfection - much easier than swapping the trays over during baking.

 Carbohydrates 7g Protein 3g - per cupcake

Carbohydrate 1g Protein 0g - per serving of buttercream


Pine Kernel Torte

by Susan Smith in


Since I began writing this blog, I seem to have inadvertently established a new family tradition of celebrating every family members birthday with cake! At this time of year, it’s always tricky coordinating the execution of my recipes with Sarah’s photography skills because she only ever uses natural day light and in wintertime this starts to fail mid afternoon. No such problems photographing cake though, because it usually accompanies our second cup of morning coffee. 

My husband’s birthday happens to fall exactly one week before Christmas Eve and for me it always heralds the start of the festive season. This year I did him proud by creating this delicious Pine Kernel Torte to celebrate his special day. Served with sliced clementines, a little rosemary, honey and whipped cream, there is something very ‘Christingley’ about it. 

This easy to make aromatic cake has a lovely texture reminiscent of frangipane combined with a light nutty crunch. I think it’s the perfect teatime treat for birthdays and Christmas both and, as with all Primal Plate recipes, it does not subject the sweet-toothed to the ‘kiss of death’ from either sugar or grains. Happy, healthy Christmas everyone!

Pine Kernel Torte (Serves 8)

Ingredients

100g organic ground almonds

50g organic tiger nut flour

50g Sukrin reduced-fat organic almond flour

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

175g organic, unsalted, grass-fed butter + a little extra for greasing the cake tin - softened

150 Sukrin Gold

3 large organic eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

60ml fresh-squeezed clementine juice (2 organic clementines)

100g organic pine nuts

Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon

1 tbsp malt whisky or extra clementine juice - if required 

Sukrin Icingfor dusting the cake

 

To Serve:

Sliced organic clementines

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only - finely chopped

Lightly whipped organic cream

Raw ‘runny’ honey

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5

Grease the bottom and sides of a 23cm spring form cake tin with butter and line with baking parchment. 

Sift the almond flour, tiger nut flour and baking powder into a medium sized bowl. Stir in the ground almonds. 

Fix the double-bladed ’S’ shaped knife into the food processor and place the softened butter, Sukrin Gold, tiger nut/almond flour mix, eggs, clementine juice and vanilla extract into the processor bowl. 

Process for about 30-40 seconds until well mixed and a creamy (not runny) consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the of the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is incorporated.

Scrape the contents out of the processor into a large bowl and using a rubber spatula fold in 40g of the pine nuts and the lemon zest. 

If the mixture seems a little too thick, loosen it down with a tablespoon of whisky or extra clementine juice.

Tip the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin, levelling it out and smoothing the surface before scattering the remaining (60g) of pine nuts evenly over the top. 

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

When cold, place the cake in the centre of cake stand or flat plate and sift a layer of Sukrin Icing evenly over the top.

Serve with sliced clementines, a little fresh rosemary, a drizzle of honey and some whipped cream for a fabulously different ‘take’ on cake.  

 

Notes

If you don’t have a food processor: Use a hand-held electric whisk to beat the butter and Sukrin Gold together until light and fluffy before whisking in the eggs one at a time, alternating with a third of the flour mixture between each egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. When all the eggs and flour have been incorporated, briefly whisk in the clementine juice and vanilla extract then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the pine nuts and lemon zest before continuing with the recipe above.

The finished cake does not rise very much - it’s not meant to. Whilst the cake tin may seem a little too big for the amount of cake mix - it’s a bit tricky levelling the raw cake mixture out in the tin - I decided that using a cake tin with deeper sides would be the best way to protect the pine nut topping from scorching during baking, which it did.

Almost all raw, untreated honey will crystallise, especially in cold weather. Most can be brought back to ‘runny’ status by leaving in a warm place overnight e.g. wrapped in a thick towel and left over a radiator. However, don’t allow raw honey to warm-up above 35℃ because this will destroy its natural health-giving enzymes and potentially its subtle flavour too. The Raw Honey Shop https://www.therawhoneyshop.com/ has so many wonderful honeys to choose from but Mandarin or Pine honey would be a wonderful addition to this Pine Kernel Torte.

The cake is best eaten on the day it’s made but will keep very well in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

 

Carbohydrate 8g Protein 10g - per slice of cake (without the clementines and honey accompaniments)


Celebration Carrot Cake

by Susan Smith in


I’m not cut out to be a landlady. I used to think that renting out property in an era of low interest rates would be a savvy way to create a retirement income. I’ve changed my mind. Firstly, I don’t get to retire because owning rental property isn’t so much an investment as a business. Secondly, the reason there aren’t many, if any, beautiful, immaculately maintained houses ‘To Let’ is because the majority of tenants, no matter how well you vet them, will trash rental property rather than treat it as their own. Worse still, in our namby pamby society legal ‘rights’ favours the tenant over the landlord, so if your ex tenant is willing to lie through their teeth to avoid paying for the damage they’ve caused, you’re forced into a dispute that takes weeks of wearisome effort pulling all the evidence together in order to prove your loss. It’s such stuff and nonsense that has kept me from posting Primal Plate recipes for the past couple of months. The good news is that I’ve finally been afforded some time and respite to get my blog back on track before seeing my ex-tenants in court! And, on a happier note, we’ve now appointed Sarah to be the sole custodian of a fabulously refurbished property. Lucky, lucky girl!

Accordingly, this wonderfully tasty, nutritious carrot cake made its star debut at a family get-together last week to celebrate Sarah moving to her new home, to mark a milestone birthday, to wish “bon voyage” to someone special fulfilling his lifetime ambition to visit Australia and not least for me to honour some creative time back in the kitchen. Everyone unanimously agreed that it was “The best cake you’ve ever made!” I concur. Enhanced by orange zest and warming spices, Celebration Carrot Cake has an autumnal feel that’s made extra special with the most delicious Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramelised Pecans. With more than a passing nod to the 1960’s, Primal Plate’s Celebration Carrot Cake is an updated, healthy version of classic carrot cake. It’s the perfect expression of all that I love about eating Primal. A delicious, seemingly indulgent cake that’s impossible to resist but with no grains, no gluten, no refined sugar and less carbs than a small banana! For the sweet-toothed and health conscious, I think that’s something to celebrate in its own right.

Celebration Carrot Cake (Serves 12)

Ingredients for the cake

80g unsalted organic butter (or coconut oil), melted + extra for greasing

3 tbsp organic maple syrup            

200g organic ground almonds 

100g organic tiger nut flour

1 tsp organic nutmeg, freshly grated            

1 tbsp organic ground cinnamon    

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

¼ tsp Celtic sea salt    

5 large organic eggs, room temperature            

2 tsp pure vanilla extract                     

3 large organic carrots, peeled & finely grated (you should end up with about 250g prepared carrot)

75g raw organic pecans, chopped

Finely grated zest of 1 large organic orange

 

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

200g organic cream cheese

3 tbsp organic maple syrup

1 tbsp Sukrin icing sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

185 ml organic double cream

 

For the Caramelised Pecans - optional

40g raw organic pecans (or walnuts)

1 tsp organic maple syrup

½ tsp organic coconut oil

 

Instructions - to make the cake

Pre-heat the oven to 190℃ / 375 ℉ / Gas mark 5

Grease well and base line 2 x 7 inch loose-bottomed sandwich tins (to save time, I use Lakeland’s baking parchment ready-cut liners)

In a small saucepan over a low heat melt the butter (or coconut oil) and maple syrup together. Take off heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, tiger nut flour, sea salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg

In a separate bowl, with an electric whisk, beat together the eggs, vanilla extract & melted butter/maple syrup mix until frothy and well combined.

Stir the carrots, orange zest and chopped nuts into the wet ingredients

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

Divide the mixture equally between the cake tins, spreading it out evenly and levelling off the top

Bake in the centre of pre-heated oven for 35 minutes

Cool in their tins for two hours before turning out onto a wire cooling tray and removing the paper discs.

Instructions - to make the Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat the cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla essence, Sukrin icing sugar together in a large bowl with a handheld electric whisk until well combined and light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until it stands in medium peaks. N.B. Don’t over whisk your cream at this stage because it will solidify even more when you try to incorporate it into the cream cheese mixture, which means you might end up with lumpy rather than smooth cream cheese frosting. 

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until evenly combined. 

Instructions - to make Caramelised Pecans

Heat a small non stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. 

Add the coconut oil, maple syrup and pecans to the pan (in a single layer) and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring and turning the nuts over occasionally, until caramelised and golden. 

Turn onto a plate to cool. 

Instructions - to assemble and decorate Carrot Cake

Transfer one of the sandwich cakes onto a serving plate or cake stand. Spread one half of the Cream Cheese Frosting on top and using a flexible metal spatula level out to just within the outermost edges to create the sandwich cake filling. 

Place the second sandwich cake directly on top of the first cake. Dollop the remaining half of Cream Cheese Frosting on top, spreading it out evenly before gently swirling the surface into a simple, decorative-looking finish. 

Decorate with caramelised pecan (or walnut) halves, if liked 

 

Carbohydrate 16g Protein 9g - per slice


Flourless Lemon & Raspberry Swiss Roll

by Susan Smith in


I have to say, this light and airy, low-carb, grain-free, refined sugar-free and fat-free Swiss roll cake mix is probably the best Primal/Paleo cake I’ve ever made! Rightly so, because I made it for my daughter Sarah’s birthday on 4th July, and she is most definitely worth it. 

The night before her birthday, I was slightly panicked as to how I was going to bake a birthday surprise at such short notice. I’d bought in a stack of fresh summer fruits - just in case I could conjure up something fabulous - but the idea for this impressive looking, light-as-a-feather cake didn’t come to me until about ten 'sleep-hours' before Sarah was due to come over the following morning to unwrap her presents.

Baking an impromptu, untried, made-up recipe for a special occasion isn’t normally my bag, but since only cake will do when there’s a birthday to celebrate I got up early the next morning with my fingers crossed. I am so glad I did. This beautiful cake is not nearly as daunting to make as it looks and the finished result is so light in texture and tastes so fresh that it cannot fail to delight anyone lucky enough to share it. In fact, it is so good, four of us couldn’t restrain ourselves from eating the whole cake in one sitting. Furthermore, as Sarah’s elder sister hadn’t been there for the birthday party itself, it was a great excuse to bake two of these cakes on consecutive days! Once you try this light and lovely treat, you’ll understand why we find this delicious lemon and raspberry Swiss roll totally irresistible.

On the face of it, I should probably consider myself ‘caked-out’ for now, however the truth is, I’m actually motivated to seek out more people whose birthday is imminent! As there’s nothing unhealthy about this Flourless Lemon & Raspberry Swiss Roll, you really don’t need an excuse to indulge. If you love someone enough to want to bake them cake, this one’s gorgeous good looks and lemony, raspberry goodness is all you need to impress.

Flourless Lemon & Raspberry Swiss Roll (makes 12 slices)

Ingredients - for the Swiss roll

4 large organic free-range eggs, separated

40g Sukrin:1 granulated sweetener

40g organic ‘runny’ honey (I actually used raw unpasteurised honey and gently heated it to make it runny)

Zest of 1 organic lemon, finely grated

75g organic ground almonds                            

25g organic tiger nut flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tbsp Sukrin icing sugar - for dusting top of cake

 

Ingredients - for the raspberry sauce

150g fresh raspberries

75g no added sugar raspberry spread

 

Ingredients - for the lemon cream

125ml organic double cream

1 tbsp Sukrin icing sugar

Zest of 1 organic lemon, finely grated

 

Instructions

Butter and line a 22.5 cm x 32.5 cm (approx. 9” x 13”) Swiss roll tin with non-stick baking paper. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Sift the tiger nut flour and baking powder together into a bowl and then add the ground almonds. Stir to combine.

If using ‘set’ honey, place in a small saucepan over a very gentle heat until it liquefies. Take off the heat and allow to cool down for a couple of minutes.

In a medium/large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the lemon zest, Sukrin:1 and 'runny' honey until light, airy and mousse-like i.e. very pale and thick – this will take about 3 minutes using an electric whisk on high speed.

Stir the ground almonds and tiger nut flour into the egg yolk and lemon zest mixture. 

With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites, a third at a time, until completely mixed in.

Pour the mixture out onto the lined baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden, firm and springy (mine took exactly 13 minutes).

Remove from the oven and leave in the tray to cool, covered with another piece of baking paper and a damp tea towel.

To make the raspberry sauce: In a small saucepan set over a low heat, cook 75g fresh raspberries with the raspberry spread. Bring to a gentle simmer, then using the back of a fork, crush the raspberries down into a sauce. Take off the heat and set aside to allow the sauce to cool down completely.

To make the lemon cream: Whip the cream with 1 tablespoon of Sukrin icing sugar and the lemon zest until almost thick i.e. stiff but still speadable. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the cake. Cut the remaining raspberries in half.

When the cake is cool, remove the tea towel and parchment paper and lay them down flat onto a work surface - with the non-stick paper sat on top of the tea towel. 

Generously dust the top of the sponge with Sukrin icing sugar then flip it out onto the parchment paper with one of the short edges facing you. Carefully peel the baking parchment off the cake.

With a small sharp knife score a line 2 centimetres in from the short edge nearest to you - making sure you only cut about halfway through the depth of the sponge. 

Next, spread the raspberry sauce all over the top of the cake to within about 2 centimetres of the edge. Then layer the whipped lemon cream on top of that - again leaving a 2 cm edge all the way around. Finally, dot the raspberry halves evenly on top of the cream. 

Start rolling the cake up tightly from the short end where you scored a line. Using the parchment paper to help you, keep rolling tightly until you get to the end. Carefully lift the Swiss roll onto a plate with the seam side down.

Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

 

Notes

Aside from Sukrin’s stevia/erythritol sweetener, the best natural alternative sweetener for baking is organic maple syrup because it is not chemically affected by heat. However, whilst testing this cake recipe out I didn’t want to risk maple syrup’s distinctive taste coming through, so I chose to use honey.

Using half honey and half Sukrin:1 to sweeten this delicate sponge minimises the potential aftertaste when using stevia alone. Whilst the vast majority of honey available in the shops has already been subjected to heat - so it makes no difference whether you decide to heat it or cook with it at home - this is not true of Na’vi’s wonderful, raw, unpasteurised honey. Heating Na’vi’s honey is sacrilege! It destroys many of its beneficial effects, killing off its ‘superfood’ status. If you’re going to buy Na’vi honey - and I recommend that you do - simply enjoy its health-giving benefits spooned straight from the jar. It was Hobson’s choice that I used it for my cake because it’s the only honey I ever keep in my store cupboard! 

 

Carbohydrates 8g Protein 4g - per slice


Lucky's Nut Truffles

by Susan Smith in ,


As I write this blog I’m sat at the end of my hallway with my computer balanced on top of a pile of books, hemmed in by displaced furniture and various bits of office paraphernalia (phase 3 of our annual home improvement and re-decoration schedule has been going on for what seems an interminable 4 weeks already) whilst my man stands next to me with his computer resting on a still unwrapped furniture delivery, trying to research plant variants that have sprouted in our garden, which we don’t recognise.

We’re not green-fingered, but we do like to try and make sense of our green space without destroying all life within it. You only have to look up to see that we’re unusual in this respect. It seems that the majority of people are hell-bent on ‘managing’ nature, particularly when it comes down to so-called tree maintenance a.k.a. the ceaseless year-round topping, lopping and felling of trees. Question: When is a tree not a tree? Answer: When some idiot has butchered all its magnificent branches back to stubs and spindly, finger-like projections have grown in place of the beautiful tree-shaped canopy that once was…or cut it down completely to an ugly stump. 

Stupid is as stupid does. I’m convinced the obsessive compulsion to mess with trees is a form of egocentric behaviour that satisfies man's craving for power and control. With big tool in hand - I mean chain-saw - I believe the power rush they get from hacking, sawing and destroying a living entity is an addiction that feeds on itself. Not only do they spoil the look of the trees that still stand, the resulting pitiful, topped and disfigured specimens are left with open wounds that are vulnerable to attack from invading pathogens (fungi and bacteria). Cutting back, thinning out and removing branches destroys a tree’s natural defences - the tree bark that protects the underlying tree tissue. It also threatens its life support system - the loss of leaves that are every tree’s source of food. Exposed to the sun, the cuts are in effect death wounds and the removal of a large percentage of leaf-bearing branches, starvation.

If a starving tree has enough energy, it will send out multiple shoots beneath the cuts to try and replace its leaves as quickly as possible. These new shoots will never be as strong as the original branch they emerge from and can easily snap off even years after they’ve grown back to the size that the tree was before it was attacked. Furthermore, trees can’t heal - they try to defend themselves by closing off their wounds with a tough, woody substance called wound wood. A tree’s ability to seal off its wounds depends on many variables; its age, species, health and vigour, the size and shape of the wound and the time of year. If a tree can’t respond quickly to its injury it falls prey to rot, insect infestation and wood decay, which in turn leads to a loss of vitality and vigour that results in the tree’s inevitable decline, dieback and structural failure.

It is of course a cunning way for tree cutters to future-proof their industry. If you didn’t need the services of a tree surgeon before, you most certainly will when your decayed and dying trees become a health and safety issue for you and your neighbours!

Despite all the ugliness surrounding them, people still have embedded in their sub-conscious that regular tree felling and pruning is both necessary and good. "It lets in more light; it prevents tree root damage to property; it stops the mess trees create (have they not heard of a broom?); wet leaves are dangerous; tall trees block TV/Sky/Broadband reception; it spoils my view; I can’t see the sky (!); I need the space for off-road parking…" are just some of the excuses given. Then there are the unqualified tree surgeons stalking the neighbourhood for mature trees that they can cash-in on, knocking on doors and persuading homeowners that their trees are an imminent threat unless they are cut-back. I give them short thrift, but many folk are convinced.

What these people don’t seem to know or appreciate is:

  • Trees give us oxygen and oxygen helps us breathe - a mature tree in season produces as much oxygen as ten people inhale in a year!
  • Trees give birds and animals shelter so if you cut them down you’re messing up their homes.
  • Trees help clear the air of heat and pollutant gases. 
  • Trees clean the soil - trees filter dangerous chemicals and pollutants out of the soil, which helps assure our food security. 
  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide and help stop global warming.
  • Trees help conserve rain (to prevent drought) and reduce the likelihood of flooding. They fight soil erosion by protecting the soil from surface flooding - binding soil to sloping land with their roots.
  • Trees help control noise pollution.
  • Trees mask ugliness and keep unsightly structures from view.  
  • Trees save energy. In winter they act as wind breaks - breaking the force of cold, blustery winds and reducing the cost of heating your home. In summer, strategically planted trees around your home shield your property from UV rays and reduce the need for air conditioning.
  • Trees give us food - e.g. nuts and fruits.
  • Trees improve human health and well-being. As well as offering cooling shade and protecting us from the sun’s harsh rays, they are aesthetically pleasing to look at. Full of life, strong and magnificent, their beauty is more than skin deep. Exposure to trees and nature calms the mind and uplifts the soul. Being in a natural environment surrounded by trees can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Hospital patients who have a view of trees from their window heal quicker, take less drugs and have fewer post surgical complications than those who don’t. Even babies born to mothers that live near to trees are less likely to be underweight. 
  • Trees increase property values significantly - they not only beautify your property and the surrounding area, there is less fear and violence in well-planted, green spaces than there is in and around homes in barren neighbourhoods. Houses surrounded by trees sell for 15-25 percent higher than houses with no trees. 

Since trees do so much to benefit humans, we think it’s best to leave them alone to do their job. No radical pruning of healthy trees is required or allowed! Our reward is a semi-wild garden that nature has developed into something quite Disney-like. As well as owls, doves, pigeons, innumerable songbirds, hedgehogs, mice, frogs, bats, the occasional pheasant seeking refuge from the local Sunday shoot, and a hungry female sparrowhawk that knows for sure there are rich pickings to be had, we live harmoniously alongside a small army of grey squirrels that are accidentally planting more trees.

Because humans have destroyed so much of the natural landscape, squirrels have been forced to adapt to a more urban environment to survive. Grey squirrels have adapted more successfully than their red squirrel counterparts, but that doesn’t excuse the widespread racism against grey squirrels, which vilifies them with exaggerated claims that they damage/kill trees by bark stripping and excuses the culling of them because, according to urban myth, grey squirrels are deemed pests that destroy property and cause a decline in red squirrel populations. As with the obsession for tree-pruning, it’s all a load of twaddle. Both red and grey squirrels strip tree bark to build their dreys (squirrel nests) and to get to the underlying wood as a source of nutrition when times are hard but, unlike human crime against trees, the damage they cause is minimal and it doesn’t kill the trees. Here are the facts about the demise of red squirrels and, as you might expect, it’s mostly down to humans!

Given that the natural habitat of squirrels is now disappearing at a rate of knots, they make their dreys in any tree-like structure they can find. Four years ago, around the time our next door neighbour cut down an entire copse of eighteen mature trees, one beautiful, dedicated, mamma squirrel sought shelter on our roof under the solar panels, where she built her drey and tried to raise her kittens (baby squirrels). Sadly, it was not meant to be. Somehow, mum sustained a fatal injury to her back and later that day (Friday 13th April 2012) two kittens fell out of their nest and slid straight off the roof - three storeys high - directly onto the solid concrete path outside our back door. What to do? Tiny, helpless and with their eyes still closed, we had no choice but to take on the immediate squirrel care challenge in front of us! 

In the first few weeks of life, baby squirrels don’t do much more than eat, sleep and grow. However, it wasn’t long before our two little boys became gorgeous handfuls of wriggly, noisy, messiness that took over our lives completely. Active during daylight hours, they lived right next to my desk in our home office. Despite the immense parental responsibilities thrust upon us, we soon discovered what a life-affirming joy these intelligent, industrious, characterful and acrobatic critters are. With the help and support of Clarissa Summers we loved and cherished little Kipp and Lucky 24/7, until they were about six months old and ready to be released back into the wild. Our boys may be long gone, but our love and respect for squirrels lives on.

Whether chasing each other from tree branch to tree branch, jumping around in the tops of our trees, sitting perfectly still in the classic squirrel pose with their tail arched over their back, pausing in front of us to munch on a nut or cheekily peering through the window to get our attention, squirrels are without doubt the cutest, most entertaining of all the wildlife species living in our garden, and we happily pay the price to secure their allegiance. Not only do we make executive-style squirrel boxes to keep them warm and safe, we’re also their most reliable food source - namely, an all-year-round supply of best-quality walnuts (their favourite), hazelnuts and, when in-season, acorns too. It’s part of a deliberate plan. The squirrels have learned how to exploit our generosity by approaching us with charming gestures that signal their need for more nuts, and we know that large quantities of these will be stored in the ground. As squirrels don’t always remember where they’ve buried their nuts, there’s always the potential for some of their cache to take root and grow into new trees.

Helping squirrels survive and thrive in captivity very much depends on what you feed them. As well as whole nuts, fruit and veggies, I used to make my two boys nutritious seed and nut balls that helped them grow strong and kept them noisily bouncing around their cage for hours. It seems timely that today’s recipe for Lucky’s Nut Truffles (no prizes for guessing why I’ve called them that) are an energy ball equivalent for humans. These blissful little bombs of goodness mix protein, vitamins, fibre, minerals and essential fats and are a chocolatey, nutty delight to enjoy any time you need an energy boost. Sweetly satisfying and sustaining, Lucky’s Nut Truffles are ideal for a pre or post workout snack, yet still dainty enough for some after dinner indulgence. Incredibly moreish, I suggest you squirrel away a plentiful stash for yourself in the refrigerator, where they could (but I predict won’t!) last a couple of weeks.

Lucky’s Nut Truffles (make about 22)

Ingredients

100g organic raw walnuts

100g organic raw hazelnuts, unskinned

15g raw cacao powder

100g Medjool dates, pitted (about 6)

1 ½ shots (60 ml) freshly brewed espresso-strength coffee

1 tbsp smooth almond butter

3 tbsp coconut butter

2 tsp organic ground cinnamon

2 drops organic liquid stevia

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

50g organic shredded coconut, for coating

Instructions

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

Put the pitted dates into a bowl and pour over the hot coffee. Set aside.

Place the walnuts and hazelnuts together on a baking tray and toast for 8-9 minutes. 

Place the shredded coconut on a separate baking sheet and toast at the same temperature for 5-6 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Leave on the tray to cool.

Tip the toasted nuts - it doesn’t matter if they’re still warm - into a food processor bowl and blitz until finely chopped. Don’t allow all the walnuts and hazelnuts to become totally smooth as some slightly larger, crunchy pieces in the mix adds texture. Empty the ground nuts into a bowl and set aside.

Add the dates, coffee, cacao powder, almond and coconut butters, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and liquid stevia to the now empty processor bowl (no need to wash it first) and process until the mixture clumps together into a sticky, gooey paste. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times to ensure an even mix.

Add the toasted nuts to the paste and pulse everything together until the nuts are evenly distributed.

Using a dessertspoon, scoop the dough into individual bite-sized portions (approximately 17g each) and roll anti-clockwise between the palms of your hands into smooth, round balls.

To finish, roll the truffles in the toasted coconut. 

 

Carbohydrate 6g Protein 2g - per truffle


Tiramisu

by Susan Smith in , ,


Here’s a novel way to spoil your mum with anti-ageing skin care this Mother’s day - treat her to tiramisu! You are what you eat, and this skin-loving dessert is rich in Vitamin E and healthy oils that are sure to get her skin glowing from the inside!

A fantastic confection made with a light tiger nut and almond sponge cake layered with sweet-tasting macadamia nut cream and a rich coffee/chocolate flavoured ‘ganache’, this is tiramisu re-invented - without sugar, dairy or grains.  

Boasting a wealth of antioxidants, essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats from the ‘darlings’ of the nutritionally-aware foodie brigade - avocados, coconut oil/milk, raw cacao, tree nuts, tiger nuts and a little raw, unpasteurised organic honey (because I simply couldn’t ignore the skin-enhancing benefits of honey!) - this isn’t just tiramisu, it’s superfood! An unrecognisably healthy retro dessert so choc-a-block with nutrients you won’t believe it’s not the luscious (though sadly off the carbohydrate richter-scale!), Italian classic.

Primal Plate’s ‘light as a feather’ Tiramisu is part of my stay slim and gorgeous action plan to make low-carbohydrate/high fat eating (LCHF) a way of life even when the occasion calls for some sweet-toothed indulgence. Not only is this impressive dessert relatively low in carbs, you are nourishing your skin from the inside out by eating Vitamin E packed tiger nuts, almonds, avocado and coconut oil. Vitamin E is widely used in the cosmetics industry to help slow down the ageing of the body cells, improve the elasticity of the skin and reduce skin wrinkles. 

Whilst I maintain that you should never put anything on to your skin that you’re not prepared to put in to your mouth, It’s good fun to turn this beauty maxim on its head with a deliciously decadent dessert that can help every woman channel her inner goddess. Ingenious…the perfect solution to having your cake and eating it! Happy Mother’s day girls!

Tiramisu (makes 4-6 servings)

Ingredients - for the sponge layer            

45g unsalted butter    

60g organic tiger nut flour 

40g organic ground almonds 

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

pinch of sea salt

3 large eggs                            

75g Sukrin:1                             

 

Ingredients - for the nut cream layer            

125g macadamia nuts, soaked overnight in cold filtered water

250g full-fat coconut milk

20g raw organic honey

4 drops organic liquid stevia

1tsp pure vanilla extract (I use sugar-free Ndali)

25g coconut oil                

 

Ingredients - for the coffee/chocolate ganache layer            

2 ripe medium avocados (approx 350g unpeeled weight)

20g raw organic cacao powder

50g raw organic honey                                     

10-12 drops organic liquid stevia                 

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I use sugar-free Ndali)                        

80ml espresso-strength coffee        

 

Ingredients - to assemble the tiramisu            

100ml freshly brewed expresso-strength coffee                

40 ml malt whisky                    

30g Sukrin Gold               

raw cacao powder, sifted                    

Sukrin no-sugar milk chocolate

 

Instructions - to make the sponge

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Melt the butter gently and leave to cool slightly. Use a little of it to grease a 23cm x 30cm (9” x 12”) swiss roll tin, then line the base and sides of the tin with a single sheet of baking parchment (cut down into the corners so that the paper lies flat against the sides of the tin).

Sift the tiger nut flour, salt and cacao powder in to a medium sized bowl. Stir in the ground almonds and set aside. 

Put the eggs and Sukrin:1 in a large heatproof bowl that will sit snugly over the top of a saucepan. Pour boiling water into the saucepan and sit the bowl on top. The hot water must not actually touch the bowl. Set the pan over a low heat so that the water is barely simmering. The steam will help dissolve the Sukrin and the mixture to thicken slightly.

Using a hand-held electric beater set on High, whisk the eggs and Sukrin sweetener together for about 6-8 minutes, or until the mixture is very pale, thick and mousse-like and has at least tripled in volume. It should hold its shape for a few seconds when it’s flicked across the surface of the rest of the mix.

Add one-quarter of the sifted flour/ground almond mixture into the egg and Sukrin mixture and very lightly and gently fold it in with a large metal spoon. Repeat 3-4 times more with the remaining flour/ground almond mixture - folding it in gently each time. When all the flour/ground almonds have been incorporated into the mix, carefully pour in the melted butter and gently fold this in too. N.B. Don’t be in a rush to do this and try not to be too heavy-handed - the idea is to retain as much air as possible inside the mix whilst at the same time bring everything uniformly together. 

Quickly pour the mixture into the tin - tilting the tin this way and that until the cake mixture has levelled itself out evenly in to all four corners of the tin - then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. 

Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn it out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, peel off the parchment paper and slice the cake into fingers or squares for making tiramisu or trifle.

 

Instructions - to make the nut cream layer

Rinse the macadamia nuts in fresh water then blitz all the ingredients together to form a smooth cream. Place in the fridge to set.

 

Instructions - to make the coffee & chocolate ganache layer

Blitz all the ingredients together to form a rich, smooth, chocolatey cream.

 

Instructions - to assemble the tiramisu

Make a fresh batch of espresso strength coffee, add the whisky and liquid stevia and pour into a shallow dish.

Cut the cold sponge into suitable sized cubes or fingers (whatever best fits your serving dish).

Layer 1: very briefly (2-3 seconds!) dip the sponge pieces into the coffee mixture until you can see that the liquid has risen about half-way up the depth of the sponge and lay the pieces one at a time as you go into the base of your serving dish(es) (I used 2.5cm / 1” squares for the base layer in 4 x 225ml martini glass)

Layer 2: Spoon over the nut cream layer and spread out evenly

Layer 3: Add a second layer of coffee-soaked sponge

Layer 4: Spoon over a second layer of nut cream and spread out evenly

Layer 5: Spoon or pipe over the coffee & chocolate ganache and spread out evenly

Cover and chill for 1-2 hours in a refrigerator. Then, when you’re ready to serve the tiramisu...

Layer 6: Sift over a fine layer of raw cacao powder

Layer 7: Use a small spoon to carefully transfer a generous, even layer of Sukrin sugar-free milk chocolate (straight off the plate it was grated on to) directly on to the top of each tiramisu - don’t try to sprinkle over the grated chocolate with your fingers as it will melt instantly!

 

Notes

The best diet for weight loss and maintenance is one that you can easily stick to. A low-fat/low calorie diet requires Herculean willpower because food without fat doesn’t taste good and oftentimes you still feel hungry. The joy of a low-carb/high fat diet is that you don’t count calories and the food you can eat is deliciously satisfying. Nevertheless, Primal Plate desserts and other sweet treats are delights to be enjoyed occasionally, not every day. You can achieve steady, effortless weight loss by limiting carbohydrates to between 50 grams and 100 grams per day - unless you are morbidly obese, in which case you may need to kick-start your body into burning fat by eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrate per day and avoiding tiramisu for the time-being! You can keep a tally of your carb intake at MyFitnessPal. If you then cross the line from time to time (without exceeding 150 grams of carbohydrate) a long, brisk walk should sort things out!

There is enough sponge cake in this recipe to make 6 tiramisu (or to have leftovers). The rest of the ingredients will make 4 very generous servings (it’s deliberate!). If you’re cutting carbs, have a small appetite or just more mouths to feed, simply divide the recipe between 6 smaller (150ml) serving dishes.

All the individual components of this dish can be made separately in advance. The sponge-cake will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container, and both the nut cream and coffee/chocolate ganache will keep for several days in the refrigerator. You can also assemble the tiramisu up to and including layer 5, twenty-four hours before you want to eat it - finishing with the final flourish of raw cacao and grated chocolate just before serving. 

Although organic liquid stevia is a zero-carb, natural alternative to sugar, it can leave a slight aftertaste. To minimise this and to not miss out on the skin-enhancing benefits of honey, I’ve used a combination of stevia and honey to sweeten both the nut and coffee/chocolate creams.

I do not like overly sweet food, so this sophisticated, not-too-sweet dessert with a touch of alcohol is definitely one for the grown-ups. However, it can easily be adapted for children (or tomorrow’s breakfast!) by substituting a small/medium sliced banana (per serving) for the coffee/whisky soaked sponge and layering it with the nut and coffee/chocolate creams in the same way as described above. You may also want to add a little extra honey to the coffee and chocolate cream to make it more child-friendly. 

The cake mixture rises just enough to make it nicely spongy without being too thick. Firm yet really light in texture, it’s just made for soaking up the boozy coffee in this recipe and for making trifle generally. Once cold, it’s easily cut into neat fingers or cubes (Sarah loves to eat these plain) and is a brilliant substitute for those nasty trifle sponge fingers you can buy in the shops. 

 

Carbohydrate 25g Protein 11g - per serving (6 people)

Carbohydrate 36g Protein 15g - per serving (4 people)