Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cups

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Give me a thousand shy Autumns like this one to cosy up in near a window with a cup of tea and watch the world go orange, red and a myriad shades of copper. I have been busy lately. Crazy busy I would say even, flying around, stressed out, digging up documents, chasing people and trying to organise a move. And thus, I haven’t updated this blog in ages, even my Instagram activity has suffered, and I endeavour to be better, but I am still in the middle of it and I can’t actually commit to it.

I have been writing too, the second part of a novel I wrote a while ago, and this is again an Autumn feeling. It is the nostalgia and quietness of it all that calls to me, that sends me spinning into the depth of my deepest darkest longings, back to my childhood.

As such, I have rescued a simple candy recipe, replicated over social media a million times, to share with you. Peanut butter cups. The scary bit is when you look at the nutritional values of the commercial brand Reese’s, so much everything you really don’t want to be eating too much of it.

These variation is a non added sugar one, I have used a sugar free chocolate brand as a base and no added sugar peanut butter and it just implies melting and pouring.

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Ingredients (for 15 cups)

1.5 No added sugar dark chocolate bars (150 gr)

3 tbsp of no added sugar peanut butter

2 tbsp. cocoa butter/coconut butter

2 tbsp of cocoa nibs

a pinch of salt.

How to…

In a small non metálico jar, put the chocolate broken in pieces and one tbsp of cocoa butter. Melt in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes or more if needed.

Line a small tray that fits in your freezer or fridge with small metallic chocolate liners and pour the melted chocolate on them, filling them up to 1/3 of their capacity.

Put them in the freezer and let them cool down for 5 minutes and in the meantime, melt the peanut butter with the rest of the cocoa butter and a pinch of salt in the microwave. Bring out the liners and fill them with the mixture for another 1/3. Cool down again, melt the chocolate and fill it up to the top and sprinkle with cocoa nibs.

The cocoa nibs add an extra crunchiness and fibre that is very yummy!

Enjoy!

Totally Healthy Brownies

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Chocolate comes from the Cocoa Tree which is original from Mexico. Legend has it that Quetzalcoatl gave it as a present to mankind and so its name means God’s Food in greek. It had enormous political, social and religious meaning all across Central America and it first came to Europe in the hands of the Spanish conquerors.

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Initially it was consumed mixed with cane sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, and it was a beverage. It remained a liquid pleasure until 1928 when cocoa butter started to be extracted and at the end of the XIX century the first pralines were born.

There is something warm and cosy in a cup of hot cocoa in a rainy day, this might be because it is sweet and delicious but also because cocoa has a good dose of fibre and micronutrients that produce a feeling of wellbeing.

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Brownies came later. Most people that enjoy a healthy dose of chocolate know that the darker the better and that it’s not the healthiest thing you can eat, so for all of us that love a bit of that nutty, utterly chocolaty flavour, here you have a healthy version.

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Gluten free, refined sugar free, Low GI and very low carb. Win win win win and vegan.

I hope you like it. Best served with a cup of tea.

 

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Ingredients (makes 9 brownies)

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 60 gr. unsweetened dark chocolate 
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs or flax eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 espresso coffee
  • 10 walnut halves, crushed

How to…

In a pot, melt the oil, and the chocolate and add the cocoa powder. Then add the sugar, salt and the coffee. Let cool down for 5 minutes and then add the eggs and the rest of the ingredients and bake at 180C for 25 minutes.

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NY Style Blueberry WOW Cheesecake

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People around here are trying to find the summer, it is nowhere to be seen. Rain is our constant companion and dark mornings are to be expected and so, instead of colourful salads, we are all thinking about baking. No need to be fit if the bikini is safely stored away.  The first time I tried a New York style baked cheesecake I was living in London. I was curious, so i looked up a recipe and gave it a go. It was the BBC good food website one, which later became the object of a popular campaign when the BBC announced their intention to close the site. Luckily for us, all britons and some adopted Londoners like myself signed a petition to stop this from happening and today you can still find some of the best recipes in the world up on the net, for everyone to enjoy.

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This cake rocked my world. I had until then only tried non bake cream cheese cakes with homemade strawberry jam my mum used to make and it although it was a good cake, it just couldn’t compete with the fluffy creaminess of this amazing creation.

Ever since, I tried the cake in a famous bakery in NY and in pretty much all the restaurants that feature it on their menu, with various results. I have a low carb, low fat alternative to this recipe that I have posted before but this one, is the original, absolutely scrumptious version by BBC, to which I have made a couple of changes (the icing on that one was not a blueberry one) and I am happy to present to you today.

Absolute showstopper. Enjoy!

For the crust

  • 85g butter melted, plus extra for the tin
  • 140g crumbed digestive biscuit
  • 1 tbsp sugar

For the cheesecake filling

  • 900 gr cream cheese
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
  • 200ml soured cream

For the cheesecake topping

  • 100 gr frozen blueberries
  • 20 gr of sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Fresh blueberries and mint to decorate

How to…

Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to fan 160C to 180C. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while preparing the filling.

For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas 9. In bowl beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the whisker twice.

Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir in the soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml. Continue on low speed as you add the measured soured cream. Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.

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Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.

In a pot boil the frozen blueberries, the sugar and lemon juice for the topping for 10 minutes, then leave to cool and add the pectin or agar agar and whisk with a fork. leave to cool almost completely and then spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Run a round-bladed knife around the sides of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper out from underneath.

Mediterranean Hake

 

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If you live by the sea you will know what I am talking about. It’s a sound every child that grew up with the scent of sea salt in the nostrils can identify. It is a faint, almost fading eerie sound of bells that come from the sea at down. Some days are clear but where I come from, fog is generally the background setting for the fishermen that return to shore. It grows in intensity as the waves rock the small boats and the engines buzz their way into the port. It means fresh fish. It means tired men. Fishing is done at night, is then when hakes are catch. They live fifty meters under the surface of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and they are closely related to cods. They are long, thin, slippery predators that feed on lanternfish on the continental shelf. They eat, and they are eaten, the circle of life.

They have a subtle flavour, soft and flaky that makes is a commercially important species and the star of a myriad of traditional dishes in the old continent. Modern fishing techniques, on those giant boats that carry no bells, have polluted the water with anisakis making a parasite that was seldom found in the fish an everyday problem. You see, I recently discovered why, apparently fish are processed as they are caught and the byproduct of the cleaning of the fish, it’s thrown back to the sea, where other fish feed on it. Sounds as an intrinsically good idea, until you realise that we are spreading a disease that was naturally contained before in the fish and that actually causes severe allergic reactions on human beings, well done us. Again.

If you buy your fish at a decent fishmonger, they will be able to spot the parasite if it’s there and remove it, and it is totally safe to eat. It is a highly nutritious fish, low in fat and very good for children. It doesn’t have too many bones and it’s not too “fishy” (if you know what I mean).

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I have paired my hake today with fresh tomato relish with herbs (and no sugar) and some wholegrain couscous. The fish has been cooked in the microwave (steamed) and has a lemon rind, fresh basil and olive oil dressing. All those flavours are very Mediterranean and pair perfectly with one another. It can be made in advance and just heated up in the oven so it’s great if you have people over, pretty easy and fuss free. This recipe is gluten free and low GI which makes it appropriate for low carb diets and diabetic patients. Should you be vegan and not eat fish, tempeh is a great alternative for this recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 large ripe tomatoes

2 fillets of hake

60 gr. of gluten free couscous

1 bush fresh basil

Fresh Oregano (or dried if you cannot get hold of it)

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper

How to…

Chop the tomatoes in small square pieces and cook them in 1/2 tsp. of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and the fresh herbs also chopped. Let the water evaporate until the it acquires the consistency of a sauce, tomatoes are very high in water and it could ruin your dish later on.

Prepare the couscous according to the packaging instructions, usually is twice the volume of water that the one of couscous, pinch of salt and a dollop of butter, you can use olive oil too instead. You can add some sultanas and some toasted pine nuts to the couscous to make it more a more substancial meal (for lunch instead of dinner for example).

Clean the hake fillets and wash them. To cook them in the microwave set them in a tray with 3 tbsp of water per fillet and cover them with transparent film. Cook at 800w for 2 minutes and check if they are ready. Be careful and don’t put them for too long the first time around because it is very easy to overcook fish in the microwave. You can always put more time on them if needed.

For the fish sauce: grate the lemon rind and put it in a mortar, add the fresh basil and mash with pestle. Add a pinch of salt, dash of lemon juice and then carefully mix in 2 tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil. serve the dish as per the picture if you wish or get creative.

Bon appetit!

Coconut Raspberry bowl

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Travelling means I am away from my kitchen so I haven’t been able to cook much at all, however before I left I made this very special cocobowl and I kept it for a rainy day.

Coconuts are an excellent for many reasons, everything about them is usable, you can eat the flesh and it’s filling and delicious, you can drink the water, full of electrolytes, use the oil to cook or in your skin or hair for hydration of nutrition and when there is nothing else to eat, you can use the shells to makes bowls or bikini tops (lol).

As a final giveaway, the coconut provides us with coconut flour which is absolutely fabulous to substitute regular flour with way more fibre than the regular wheat one and very low in carbs.

I (place big heart here) coconuts.

Peace & Love!

Fab & Healthy Rhubarb Crumble

 

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Crumbles are one of the easiest recipes to adapt to low carb and since they are mainly made of fruit, they respond very well to the change and you can barely tell the difference. In this case I have taken on the traditional rhubarb crumble and it has turned out delicious.

Can you believe that people in Spain have never heard of Rhubarb? A few years ago when I first tried to replicate this recipe, I struggled a lot to find it, I had to order it and it took a week to come. I started then to research why was that and apparently it is due to the fact that Spain has good weather and great soil. Ha!

According to my findings, rhubarb is a vegetable that grows in soils that are not great for other plants and they have enormous amounts of oxalic acid, which makes it potentially poisonous to humans, specially in summer and autumn when the concentration has become higher. Don’t worry though, the poison in the leaves, so as long as you stick to the stems, you should be fine.

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It is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cure for constipation and it is also good for mouth sores although the acid content attacks the enamel so be careful with consuming it very often. Due to this content, it can block the iron absorption so bear that in mind when composing your menu, it may not be the best dessert for a lentil soup.

Made like this, the Rhubarb Crumble is Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo friendly, low carb, has no added sugar and it is ok for diabetics. Perfect to have a sweet finish to your meal and super easy to make.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500 gr. rhubarb stems

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbsp. xylitol

For the crumble

80 gr. coconut oil or butter (if not vegan)

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. almond meal

1 tbsp. xylitol

How to…

Chop the rhubarb in 2 cm long pieces and heat up in a pan with the xylitol and the ginger until it is soft, about 8 minutes. Try for flavour, the rhubarb’s acidity varies and it could need more sweetener.

In a bowl, mix the oil/butter, coconut flour, almond meal and xylitol and work with your hands until you get a crumbly texture.

Distribute the rhubarb in 4 small ramekins, top with the crumble and place in the oven for 15 minutes at 160 degrees. Check that the tops of the crumble and nice and golden and take out when they look ready. The coconut flour takes longer to change colour so bear that in mind.

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Serve with soy cream or coconut yogurt mixed with cream (to lighten up consistency) on the side, or if not vegan, with normal cream or low fat yogurt mixed with milk. The sauce should be a bit liquid so you can pour it over the crumble while it’s warm, it gives a nice sweet and cold contrast.

Some people eat it with custard or vanilla ice cream so… take your pick!

I decorated mine with flowers from my garden and mint leaves.

Enjoy!

Skinny Green Tea Cheesecake Recipe

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How is this even possible?  175 Calories per portion!! Wohooo!! Through the magic of low carb, birch sugar and low fat cream cheese. This recipe is not vegan, but there are some vegan adaptations that I will highlight, since it was not possible to me to get hold of coconut yogurt, I was unable to try it the vegan way. Some places are less supplied with these alternatives, unfortunately!

This is a traditional New York style cheesecake (baked) but with a twist, to please cheesecake lovers since a slice of this a day, if it fits your daily nutrition needs, wont jeopardise your weight loss efforts. It is also a great way to teach your children to cook and not be feeding them excessive sugar by the way.

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Instead of the traditional biscuits for the base, we are going to use a mixture of almond flour and coconut flour. Generally, low carb diets or keto substitute the flour with almond meal, I have swapped half of it for coconut flour because the later has an incredible nutritional profile if you are trying to lose weight or if you are sensitive to carbohydrates. It is incredibly high in fibre, it is literally pretty much the highest content on it. Pretty low in fat (surprisingly since all things coconut usually are very high in this macronutrient) and so it makes it our new best baking friend. It’s fine texture, no sugar, low carb, low fat, high fibre combo has made it a seriously good alternative for gluten free, paleo and general weight loss diets.

This cake’s flavour, as you can probably guess by the electric green colour is Matcha tea, but you can adjust the ingredients to your own tasting, I might try the peanut butter chocolate flavour next week, I will let you know how it goes.

It is very easy to make, and the only trick is to be accurate with the time, or have the eye to know when is time to take out of the oven!

This recipe provides per serving if cooked like explained below: 175 Calories, 9.7 gr. of Fat, 13.5 protein, 8.5 Carbs (of which net 3.5)

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Ingredients (serves 12)

For the filling

500 gr. Low fat cream cheese (or coconut yogurt)

2 tbsp matcha tea

2 eggs (or eggless substitute as per pack instructions)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup xylitol (birch sugar)

For the crust

150 gr. Almond meal

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. xylitol (birch sugar) or your favourite sugar substitute

1 tbsp. butter or coconut oil

How to…

In a bowl, mix the crust ingredients and press down to form the base of your cake in a removable mold and bake in a pre heated oven (200 degrees) for 12 minutes. Let cool down completely.

In a large bowl mix the cream cheese with all the rest of the ingredientes, adding the eggs at the end, and saving one tbsp of matcha tea to decorate. Once the base is cold and solid, pour the mixture and bake at 180C for 30 to 45 minutes and this will depend on the depth of your mold. The deeper it is, the longer it will take. The key to knowing when it’s ready is to move the cake a little and when the centre wiggles a little, but it is firm for the rest, then it will be ready. Let sit in the oven with the door open for another 10 minutes and then let cool. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating and decorate with red berries and the rest of the matcha tea (you can use a shifter).

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