Category Archives: Desserts

Challenge for August: No Processed Sugars! (and Raw Carrot Cake Recipe)

Hey everyone! Happy Friday to all!

I know I’ve been M.I.A. and have been neglecting you (I’m so sorry!) but rest assured I have been keeping healthy, staying dry (I completed the Dry July charity challenge and raised over $500 for cancer research) and busy dreaming up all sorts of new ideas to post about.

Dry July

Staying booze-free wasn’t too hard at all. The most challenging times were the first few Friday afternoons (I love an after-work red to kick off the weekend), a friend’s 30th (but I got over it after the first hour) and another friend’s birthday dinner (and I soon got over that after the food arrived – oink). I did however, find myself eating a lot more sweets and treats, justifying to myself that since I wasn’t drinking, I was consuming fewer calories anyway, or they were at least cancelling each other out.

BUT as we all know, it’s not (all) about the calories right?  I was consuming more processed sugar than before and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you don’t need me to tell you that nasty processed sugar is addictive and detrimental to your health! Yuck!

There are many opinions out there about sugar – processed and naturally occurring – and how much one should consume. I don’t purport to be an expert on it so I won’t preach here, but I will share with you what works for me, and how I want to eat.

Challenge for August

Now bringing it back to where I started off.. Taking on the Dry July challenge was fantastic – it gave me a goal to work towards and achieving it was very rewarding. I felt positive in body and mind. So I thought, why not take on another challenge in August: No processed sugars?!

Let me be clear: This isn’t a license for me to go and eat barrels of fruit a day and ladle honey over my morning muesli like it’s going out of fashion – a balanced diet is still important – it is an attempt to minimise the amount of processed sugars consumed. Sugar is in so many unsuspecting food items (like Ketchup and many of the Asian sauces we cook with plus so much more!) I can’t possibly cut them all out, but I can at least try to make “sugar swaps” – using healthier natural alternatives where possible – and cut out those blocks of Cadbury after dinner each night, and that 3pm cupcake at work, “you know, because it’s Tuesday”.

I’ll be experimenting with some different sugar alternatives, and working on some other greener meals and snacks, so stay tuned!

Raw Carrot Cake*

Depending on which way you look at it, this could be the perfect (or counter-intuitive) way to bring on my August challenge: a raw carrot cake using only natural ingredients and no added processed sugars (only honey and fruit are used as sweeteners). Just remember that cake is meant to be a treat, so enjoy in moderation.

raw carrot cake

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups walnuts
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic rolled oats – I used my morning raw muesli mix already stocked in the pantry (my cake batter was scattered with almonds, pepitas, sultanas and coconut – yum!) 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt – I love a touch of saltiness in my sweet!
  • 12 large fresh dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots or pineapple – I used a combination of both
  • 2 large raw carrots, grated
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste – which I didn’t have so I used 2 tsp natural vanilla essence
  • 2 tbs raw protein powder

Method

  1. Combine walnuts, chia, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, protein powder, orange zest and salt into a food processor and processed until mixed and finely chopped.
  2. Add dates and apricots then process again until mixed through.
  3. Add grated carrot and vanilla and then process again until combined. The mix should now form a lovely dough.
  4. Tip into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add oats and kneed through the mixture.
  6. Press cake firmly into a 15-20cm baking tin that is lined with baking paper.
  7. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Leave at least 2 hours to allow the carrot cake to rest.
  8. Lick fingers and bowl.
  9. Enjoy as is or with your choice of frosting.

Frosting Ideas

  1. Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
  2. For a raw cashew or macadamia nut cream, combine 1 cup raw nuts with 1/2 cup orange juice or coconut water and a little vanilla. Blend in Vitamix until smooth and creamy
  3. For a cream cheese style frosting, combine 250g soft cream cheese with a little lemon zest, juice, vanilla and maple syrup and honey, and beat until combined and creamy. You can use quark or Neutachafel (try Flannery’s, I think Barambah organics makes a quark) or a naughty but easily-accessible option is Philadelphia cream cheese (not raw or sugar free!!).

This cake is rather dense, and will cut up into about 16 slices. I ate 3 in the first day – oops! Enjoy xx

*Recipe credit to Teresa Cutter, The Health Chef: http://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/07/raw-carrot-cake/
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Winter Warmer : Pear Mint and Ginger Crumble

Image 2This is a recipe from one of my favourite food blogs “Finger Fork & Knife”, which is a real inspiration to my own aspirations of becoming a food stylist / food photographer / food designer, if not only just as a hobby. I’m not quitting my day job any time soon – I have a mortgage!

Warm pear and ginger are some of my favourite flavours, coupled with the sweet and crunchy oat and nutty topping – with little bursts of saltiness dotted throughout – contrasted with the freshness of mint and zestiness of lemon, balanced with cold creamy vanilla icecream atop, makes this dessert a winter winner in my book. Pears are in season now too which is perfect as I’m a big fan of cooking seasonally and using produce at its optimum quality and availability.

I made a few ingredient substitutions in order to reduce the guilt when seeking comfort in this treat, but all in all this crumble is pretty wholesome (in terms of desserts), so don’t feel too bad.

Pear Mint and Ginger Crumble*

Serves 4-6

For the fruit

  • 4 large pears, peeled, cored, sliced – I actually forgot to peel mine. The skin has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory flavonoids and heaps of dietary fibre, so feel free to leave it on for added nutritional benefit.
  • 2-3 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped – I used 3
  • 2 pieces stem ginger, chopped – I couldn’t find any so I used glace ginger and halved the amount of sugar used in the crumble topping to compensate
  • zest of 1 lemon – when zesting the lemon, do so over the pan, so that you capture all those flavoursome oils from the rind that splutter everywhere
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

For the crumble topping

  • 1/2 wholemeal flour – I used wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats – next time I’ll try rolled spelt oats to reduce gluten
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar – I used 2 tbs to reduce the sweetness since I used glace ginger, and also to make it a tad healthier
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped – hazelnuts would be yummy too
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 60g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes – sorry, but butter makes everything better! Use organic grass-fed if you can.
  • Himalayan rock salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180C.

Put the sliced pear, dates, stem ginger, lemon juice and zest into a saucepan. Add a splash of water and bring to the boil. Reduce hear and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the pear has softened slightly. Remove from the heat and add in the chopped mint leaves. Stir gently to mix through mint then spoon into an oven-proof dish or divide between individual ramekins.

To make the crumble topping, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs – this can also be done in a food processor. Stir in oats, brown sugar, almonds and sunflower seeds. Scatter the crumble over the fruit in an even layer and pop into the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned on top. Serve warm, with a big dollop of natural yoghurt, custard, cream or (my choice) vanilla icecream.

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IMG_2209*Recipe credit to Finger Fork & Knife: http://fingerforkknife.com/2013/06/30/pear-mint-ginger-crumble/

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