In all my efforts to make cakes and muffins and cupcakes without grains and sugar this has to be the simplest and most satisfying cake I’ve made. I made it today – very spontaneously to celebrate Fete des Rois, or Festival of the Kings, because today is Epiphany. Epiphany is the end of the Advent story when the three wise men arrive to pay their respects to the Holy Baby. They treated Jesus as they would an earthly king by falling to the floor and presenting him with expensive gifts.
Had I given myself more time to organise it I would have had a crown ready and perhaps some games but that was not to be today. You can read about our past Fete des Rois celebrations. Today, however, I had forgotten all about it. January 6th, already? How did that happen? I didn’t realise until the afternoon so I quickly made up this cake for afternoon tea. I couldn’t find the right recipe I wanted in all my books and scribblings because they were either too complicated or I didn’t have the ingredients – so I cobbled one together with the ingredients I had and it worked.
The traditional French galette des Rois is an almond-cream filled puff pastry type thing with the feve baked inside. The feve is traditionally a hard bean and whoever finds it in their slice becomes King or Queen for the day. My friend has been making a few delicious gluten-free versions of French regional cakes for our past fete des Rois celebrations. Today I thought an almond cake would do the job, and for the feve I used a date because I didn’t want my two-year old to end up accidentally choking on something small.
The cake was pretty colourful! I had intended to make the polka-dots with blueberries dropped in to the batter just before cooking, like a clafouti, but in a real Mother-Hubbard moment I discovered we had no blueberries or cherries or any other suitable fruit, not even any dried fruit except for the dates. All we had was Dad’s stash of Christmas candies and so I decorated the cake with candy covered chocolate polka-dots …. I know!! Not exactly sugar-free, paleo or GAPS but very pretty and very tasty. WITH the blueberry polka-dots this cake makes a very delicious breakfast served with yogurt and fresh fruit. Incidentally it can be made without the baking powder so it can be suitable for GAPS and paleo too. It might not rise but it will be more flat like a clafouti, which is how I make it for breakfast.
In any case the cake rose and cooked beautifully and we had a delicious afternoon tea with a bit of fun to go with it. As it happens I don’t think I will use a date again because when I cut the cake, I cut the date in half and then two people ended up with the feve in their slice – so we had two Kings this year!!
Here’s the recipe:
250g almond meal
1/3 cup honey/maple syrup
100g coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
blueberries or cherries / (in this case I used Smarties!)
something to use for a feve – don’t use a date! A large (clean!) coin, a dried bean if you don’t have little kids eating the cake, perhaps some trinket from the Christmas crackers?)
Mix all but the last ingredient together and blend well.
Add the feve to the mix and pour it all into an oiled spring-form cake tin, making sure that the feve is well hidden and then drop in the berries/cherries/things you are using for polka-dots in a pleasing pattern.
Cook at 170C for about 25 – 30 minutes … sorry I didn’t pay attention to how long it was in there for. I took it out when the top was a light brown colour and the knife came out clean. Mine was in about half an hour I think.
I’ve had so much fun with this recipe. I think it may be my favourite raw recipe so far. Definitely up there with the Cashew Crunchies and the Raw Banana Cookies. The mixture is so fragrant and in these days leading up to Christmas it is really putting me in the mood for the festive season. I’ll be making them again during Autumn for sure – there is something warm and spicy about these little yummies that suits Samhain too. I’ve been making these each week and nibbling on them throughout the day. It is quite rich and filling, even as a tiny gingerbread, and fortunately for me it appears to appeal to a more ‘adult’ palate as only my ginger-loving son is regularly asking for them. So between him and I we share the stash of gingerbread, guilt-free.
These can be made into cookies and then dehydrated, or they can be rolled into balls and kept in the fridge to eat raw. I’ve tried cooking them in the oven but the texture just isn’t the same, and they burn very easily unless you have it on the very lowest setting and are prepared to wait for hours – in which case it is better to use the dehydrator overnight, and get on with your life while they do their thing. Much more appealing than heating up the kitchen for hours in summer!
The last batch of gingerbread I turned into fudge because I wanted to eat them sooner. The nuts went into the food processor straight from their soaking water and spent a little too long in there so they started turning into nut-butter. The mixture was very soft. I added a bit of coconut oil to it when I noticed how squishy the mixture was, to help it firm up when cold. These turned out to be quite delicious and fudgy when rolled in spiced cacao powder and placed in the freezer to firm up a bit. I served them up at playgroup and I think my two-year-old was the only one who declared “I no like it”, and returned to me a pre-chewed gingerbread bite. But her opinion doesn’t count in this instance. Since learning this phrase, it seems she doesn’t like anything at the moment …
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup dates
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried ginger
2 cm ginger, peeled and grated
(FOR RAW GINGERBREAD FUDGE)
2 tbs coconut oil
1/3 cup raw cacao powder mixed with a little of your favourite spices (cinnamon/ginger/cloves/nutmeg)
I like to activate nuts before I eat them – this involves soaking them overnight, then drying them in the dehydrator. It isn’t necessary but activated nuts are easier to digest and you can access more nutrients from them.
To make the Raw Gingerbread Cookies, blend the nuts together. Add other ingredients and blend again! Blend until the ingredients are finely chopped and stick together, then take small amounts at a time, pat flat to about .5cm thickness on a baking sheet(to stop them getting sticky) and cut out shapes. I found a wet cutter got less sticky. Details can be added with a skewer or you might like to press small pieces of dried fruit on top to decorate. Lay flat on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate on highest setting until they feel firm to touch on top, turn and continue dehydrating until the other side is no longer soft. The cookies should be evenly dried throughout.
To make the Raw Gingerbread Fudge then soak the nuts overnight or at least for a few hours and blend them after they are drained. Mine became fudgy when I left them in the blender a little too long and they began to turn into nut butter. DON’T blend until you get nut butter (although that WOULD be yummy too!) but just until the oils are released and the mixture is softer. Add other ingredients and blend again and until well mixed. With wet hands roll mixture into balls and roll them again in raw cacao powder that you’ve added some of the spices from the recipe into. Keep in freezer until an hour before you are ready to eat them … although I have found that even keeping them in the freezer doesn’t really make them last longer because I eat them straight from there too ….
I’ve shown you my muesli recipe before – it’s pretty yum! I make it as the basic grain-free recipe in a large batch, then before toasting it I separate some for myself and add oats to the batch for the rest for the family. This time I added some extra spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and some VERY special dried fruit that I made on the day of the solar eclipse. I was inspired by the celestial happenings while I was chopping up fruit for the dehydrator … and then decided to cut them with the cookie cutters. Little stars and moons (or eclipsed suns if you choose to see them that way!)
After they were dried they looked like this. So pretty just in the jar! And such intense bites of deliciousness.
I had to add them to our muesli – along with some dried goji berries and cranberries for a bit of colour. This is gold-plated muesli. And from each batch I make (because this one is already eaten!) I am saving some for presents. One jar of muesli doesn’t stretch far, but it is delicious as a topping on yogurt and ice cream too.
Aren’t these pretty? Banana ice-cream isn’t new but it sure is yummy and easy. We’ve made these ones with three different flavours: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. They take me right back to my childhood – those idyllic days before dairy-free, sugar-free and additive-free became my norm, and the delight in scooping ice-cream out of a tub that has three different choices of flavours all at once – although I would always go for vanilla. Still do. I love chocolate but chocolate ice cream has always made me feel like I am eating cold mud (I think I must be quite alone in the world with that particular visualisation!) and strawberry ice-cream was sweet and lovely until that artificial strawberry flavouring kicked in and the coughing would start. I can’t believe I didn’t discover banana ice cream until adulthood!
4 ripe bananas
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla essence
250g fresh strawberries
2 tbs cacao powder
Blend up the peeled bananas with the vanilla, maple syrup and coconut milk. Whizz it all together until it is lovely as smooth. This is the base mixture for the ice-creams. No need to remove it from the blender, just spoon it out and into the moulds as you go.
Spoon 2 teaspoons of this mixture into the bottom of your ice cream moulds.
Add the washed and hulled strawberries to the base mixture left in your blender and blend again until it is all smooth and pink. Add more strawberries if you like it pinker.
Spoon 2 teaspoons of the strawberry mixture on top of the base mixture in the ice-cream moulds.
Add the cacao to the pink mixture left in the blender now. Depending on how much of the mixture you’ve used already, you may need to add another banana or some more coconut milk to make it go a bit further. Blend until smooth. The cacao will turn the mixture quite brown and chocolately. Smells delicious even now!
Top up the rest of the ice-cream moulds with the chocolate mixture, place the handles and tops on the moulds and put them in the freezer overnight. It should be enough to make 12 ice creams. If you make these in the morning they might be ready by the time school is finished. It’s pretty fun to eat even if you get them out of the freezer too soon. Ice-cream on a spoon is just as tasty as ice-cream on a stick! If you do have some mixture left over, add some ice and coconut milk to the blender and drink it as a smoothie 🙂
This jelly cake is pretty and delicious – simple to make and easy to eat, leaving a really fresh taste in your mouth afterwards. What I like best about it is that it can be a really delightful addition to the menu for a child’s birthday party. Jelly that everyone can eat! No artificial colours, no chemical flavours, no animal products, no sugar.
It’s a dream come true for me, and with a five-year-old’s birthday party to plan in a few weeks I know I’ll be making this again. Today was a tester for my daughter’s actual birthday. Success! It’s just real fruit, juice and water with a swoosh of maple syrup. It is set with agar agar powder, which I found in a health food store. It is a bit expensive but definitely worth it for such a special treat. The powder keeps too, but mine is quickly getting used up as I experiment with lots of fun jellies!
2 cups apple juice
3 cups water
4 heaped tsp agar agar powder
swoosh of maple syrup
LOTS of chopped fresh fruit
Chop up your fruit first and arrange it in your dish. I used two glass Pyrex dishes and filled the bottom of each with chopped fruit to about an inch and a half depth. Consider how best to slice your fruit: for example strawberries are prettiest when sliced lengthways where as a cross-section of a kiwi displays a beautiful mandala on the inside. Plop smaller fruits like blueberries and raspberries in whole. Slice grapes in half (they tend to fall out when cut!)
Use one colour fruit or random fruit salad or to make a rainbow jelly cake then try this combination:
red: strawberries/ raspberries
green: kiwi fruit/grapes
purple: mulberries/blackberries/dark grapes
Next, put 4 heaped tsp of agar agar powder into a jar and mix with some water. Allow this to soak while you start to bring your apple juice and water to a boil. Stir constantly and when it is boiling then reduce the heat, add the soaked agar powder and a swoosh of maple syrup then continue to cook, stirring, for another 10 minutes. I think this cooking process is what makes or breaks the agar jelly – if it isn’t cooked long enough it doesn’t set firm.
Take juice/water/agar mixture away from the heat and allow to cool then pour over the arranged fruit. Cover the containers lightly and allow to cool. The mixture should set to a firm jelly at room temperature. It can also be chilled in the fridge. When set, run a knife around the edge of the dish and gently ease the jelly away. Turn the dish upside down and turn the jelly out. You can then slice it into bars. I stacked mine up like a cake and displayed it with flowers and mint from my garden. For individual serves you could set it into glasses, or little plastic containers. I set some into a plastic container with a lid for a school morning tea treat.
Variations: I have made this jelly without the juice but with a bit of rosewater essence – it smelled so pretty! I put edible flowers from my garden inside and it was so delightful. Two out of three children were suspicious of eating flowers so this one wasn’t popular. Will have to start adding flowers to our salads again so that I can make fruit and flower jelly again! I’d also like to try it with coconut milk …white jelly and red fruit – wouldn’t that make a lovely valentines day treat?
One of the hard things about being on a grain-free diet is watching the family eat pancakes every Saturday morning. I love pancakes and every now and then I sneak one because they are so hard to resist. I used to make myself some grain-free paleo pancakes with egg and almond meal … but they really are not my favourite. I find them quite dry and I have to wash them down with a cup of tea. This morning however, I made myself some banana pancakes and I can’t believe I’ve forgotten about them for so long!
I used to make them for the kids for afternoon tea. It just didn’t occur to me that I could eat them for breakfast … and actually I am not really that fond of bananas, especially cooked bananas, but I cooked mine in coconut oil and drowned them in a home made blueberry sauce … and they were delicious.
Bananas are so cheap at the moment … at 99c per kilo I am buying up a couple of kilos at a time and freezing them for cooking with later. The ones I used today went soft before I had a chance to peel and freeze them but they were perfect for breakfast in these pancakes and enjoyed by 2 out of 3 children – the other one, like me, has never really developed a bond with bananas and was turned off when I mentioned what was in them. If I hadn’t said anything I’ll bet he would never have noticed. As for me, I am pleased to have rediscovered the joys of pancakes for breakfast!
1 large egg
1 tsp coconut oil
1 cup blueberries
1 tsp cinnamon
dribble of honey
1 Tbs butter
Mash the banana and mix in the egg. If your egg is small you may get firmer pancakes if you add another egg.
Heat your pan (I like to use a cast iron skillet) and melt the coconut oil. Cook mixture as you would normal pancakes, turning when you see the edges firm and a few bubbles in the middle.
To make the sauce, mix blueberries, honey, butter and cinnamon together in a saucepan and bring to the boil, slightly mashing the blueberries, and cooking until it reaches a consistence you like.
Serve pancakes with sauce and fresh fruit.
The colder weather brings the citrus fruit! Hooray for late autumn mandarins!! They are so sweet and juicy and such a perfect snack for children. And so bursting with the right kind of vitamins to help combat the winter sniffles. They are the best thing, I find, for a pick-me-up in the morning and for satisfying the sugar cravings in the late afternoon.
I looked and looked for hours, trawling over the internet for a cake recipe using mandarins that would fit everyone’s needs at playgroup. I do my best to make a morning tea that is free of grains (and therefore free of gluten), sugar (natural sweeteners only) and also vegan so that each person in our group can enjoy the morning tea. I’m so glad we have no one with nut allergies because then we’d just be eating fruit 🙂
I didn’t find what I was looking for so I made a recipe up. It was a bit of a hotch-potch of ingredients, but a delicious one! I’ve recently learned that chia seeds mixed with water can be used instead of egg as a binder, so I ground up some white chia seeds into a fine powder and mixed 2 tbsp of that with a cup of water. I think it was enough to replace maybe 4 or 5 eggs? In any case our cake turned out quite moist. I’m not sure the addition of chia seeds is legal on the GAPS diet, but I ate a little of this today with no noticeable reaction, so perhaps from time to time it may be ok.
The mandarins were boiled in their skins for a few hours, and as the skins are used in this recipe along with the flesh I think it is pretty important that organic mandarins are used. I cheated a bit for the mandarins on the topping. I had a tin of mandarin segments in the cupboard and I’ve been wanting to use them for ages, so they became the topping to the upside-down cake. I don’t see why you couldn’t use pipped fresh mandarins, or even boil up 2 extras and whizz them all up together, saving some of the mandarin pulp to use as the topping.
It disappeared pretty quickly so I’d say it was all right 🙂
3 organic mandarins, plus 2 more for decorating (or 1 tin of mandarin segments).
1/2 cup natural sweetener of your choice (honey/maple/agave)
1/3 cup dates
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1 cup water
350g almond meal
75g hazelnut meal
Boil three whole (washed and unpeeled) mandarins, completely covered by water for 2 hours. I tipped out the water halfway through and topped up the pot with fresh water because I thought the skins might get a little bitter from this treatment. Not sure if it made a difference but they certainly were not bitter in the end.
Drain and cool the mandarins, then blend them. Take the pips out if you want to – I just blended the whole lot up, skins, pips and all, into a pulp in the food processor.
Add sweetener, ground chia seeds, water and coconut oil to the mandarin and blend again.
Add the dates, almond meal and hazelnut meal and blend until smooth.
Grease a ring tine with coconut oil. Drizzle a little maple syrup into the base. Lay out the spare mandarin segments, then pour the cake mixture over the top.
Bake at 180C until firm. This took about 40 minutes for my cake. It did go quite brown on the top but was still moist in the middle.
Eat and enjoy!
I have mentioned before that I am currently following the GAPS diet. It is the first time in my life I have ever followed an eating regime of any kind, and it is not a diet for weight loss. Instead it is a diet that has been designed to support digestive healing: to return our gut back into an environment that can process the substances we eat without producing toxins that cause other problems in the body. For me, there were a variety of reasons for beginning this diet and at the time I started (about 9 months ago) it was eczema, asthma, allergies and joint pains. Now my asthma has gone completely, my eczema returns only when I’m stressed and hardly raises an itch, my allergies are almost forgotten and the joint pains stay away so long as I don’t slip up on the diet. I don’t mind them being there as a little alarm for me, actually – a reminder that although all seems to be going well for me, that I still have to take care of myself. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme:
When she is good she is very very good,
But when she is bad she is horrid!
When I am in the zone on GAPS I feel amazing. I feel so much energy, so alive in my body and my thoughts and reflexes are so sharp. Everybody and everything is wonderful and it is easy to respond positively to the daily niggles. I totally forget about eczema and asthma and allergies – they don’t exist. When something snaps (a few nights in a row of bad sleep or a busy week) then my routine of cooking and eating is disturbed and I fall off the wagon. One of the hardest things I find about being on this diet is being prepared with food-to-go. There are often times when I am out and about in the car all day long, and if I don’t have a sufficient food for me to eat then I have no choice but to go and buy something. The are lots of great places to eat on the Gold Coast, but few options for grain- and sugar-free diets. So sometimes I have had a few slips, either by chance or by choice. When I am busy, tired, not prepared, perhaps a little stressed I think, “a sandwich won’t hurt”. The last sandwich I ate has hurt me now for about 2 weeks. Headache, extreme tiredness and joint pain was the immediate result, and I’ve had a lingering pain in my foot all this time. I am sure there is more involved with this pain, on a deeper level I have needed some rest (sleep!) and some nourishing from sources other than food (sunshine, quiet time, family, friends, meditation, creative play). A week of rest and a return to the GAPS introduction diet has put me back on the right track and the pain in my foot has diminished. It is a relief not to limp everywhere. Pain is a great reminder but it is exhausting having to live with it every day and I am extremely glad I don’t have to.
So the result of all this is a renewed commitment to preparation. Back on the menu planning, making sure I have enough basic supplies to keep me going through the days. The key to it all is stocks and soups. Home made meat stock is not optional on the GAPS diet. It is essential and I always have several jars of it in the fridge. It goes into almost every meal I make for myself and my family. It also forms the basis of the soups that I eat for breakfast and lunch. I am supposed to drink it with every meal to help with digestion, but I haven’t developed that habit yet. The gag reflex from my vegetarian days kicks in when I try to drink neat stock. But put some veggies in and call it soup and I am ok with it. My thermomix (also known as Thermoslave) is set to work almost every morning making a new batch of soup and I love it when my fridge is full of rainbow coloured jars of goodness.
Here is one of my favourites: Carrot and Ginger Soup, this time with beetroot to give a deep wintery flavour and colour. Roasted beetroot would be even more delicious, but I didn’t do that this time. Perfect comfort food and a great breakfast for a cold morning. I thoroughly recommend starting the day with a hot soup and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. My body sings. If you are vegetarian this soup can be made with vegetable stock, but please make it yourself – so much more nourishing than salty stock cubes!
The soup was also used to thicken the curry that I made for dinner the other night. On GAPS my family and I have gotten used to watery sauces, as flour, arrowroot and cornflour can’t be used to thicken. So now I use soups, nuts ground into a paste, or mashed pumpkin to thicken up our meals if they require it.
2cm ginger, chopped finely or grated
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 tbs oil/cooking fat
Pinch of salt
3 carrots, chopped in rounds (large ones)
2 small beetroots, peeled and chopped
Stock to cover veggies
1) Heat oil and cook ginger and garlic for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
2) Add salt and stir.
3) Add vegetables and stir on medium heat for 5 minutes or until edges are softened.
4) Cover with stock and bring to the boil.
5) Turn heat down and cook for about 25 minutes
6) Blend to preferred consistency and serve with sour cream.
2 tbs coconut oil
2cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp turmeric paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mild curry powder
3 carrots, roughly chopped
½ head cauliflower, roughly chopped
200g cabbage, chopped
1 cup Carrot, Ginger and Beetroot Tops Soup
1 spring onion
1 bunch beetroot tops
1 cup cashews.
1) Heat oil and when hot, add ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt and curry powder. Stir and cook until fragrant.
2) Add chopped carrot, cauliflower and cabbage. Stir together with spices until well coated.
3) Add stock and soup and cook until tender.
4) In last five minutes of cooking, add chopped spring onion and beetroot tops.
5) Roast cashews in oven while the curry cooks
6) Serve with rice and chapatis (for the non-GAPS members of your family)and sprinkled with toasted cashews.
Oh my goodness – why has it taken me so long to discover persimmons? I’d never even seen them before this year. Thanks to Food Connect, from whom I order my seasonal organic fruit and vegetables, I am receiving a beautiful range of seasonal harvest each week. When I first received these strange fruits that look like a cross-breed between a tomato and a mandarin, I suspiciously put them to one side in my fruit bowl – and there they stayed until they were clearly no good and with some relief I had to throw them out. But they just kept coming! Every week! I realised I had to either get over the challenge of a new fruit or cancel my order! I didn’t want to cancel my order so I cut one open.
I was gone in the first bite. Mmmm they are soft and sweet inside with the texture of an apricot. Oh my, I’m now addicted and I have discovered how they are even more delicious when you let them get a little over-ripe so that they are soft and squishy inside.
I’ve made muffins with them in this post – but my favourite way to eat them is pureed and poured over yogurt with some chopped nuts on top. It is such an awesome breakfast/snack/treat/dessert – all in one.
This recipe is a celebration of Autumn goodness, and the letter ‘P’. I only put the pecans in because they made a good ring to the title, but as it turns out they are an autumnal nut so they fit perfectly. These muffins have spelt flour and maple syrup in them so they are not GAPS, and it is to my ultimate frustration that I cannot sample these ones – they look so good! They are, however, free of wheat, dairy, eggs and processed sugar, although there is a hearty amount of maple syrup in there. As I cannot taste these I can only say that I suspect you could easily reduce that amount because the persimmons and pears should be pretty sweet in themselves.
And because I could not taste these I adapted another recipe I’ve posted previously, the grain-free banana bread. I replaced the banana with pureed pear and persimmon (1 of each) and because I’m a bit over LSA I used hazelnut flour instead. I wanted to make muffins but all my muffin trays were full, so it is a loaf, and a very yummy one too, if you don’t mind so much coconut. And it is all mine, now that everyone else gets to snack on all this other persimmon goodness 🙂
The next thing I’m going to make is persimmon compote for my dinner tonight (roast pork, with pumpkin mash, persimmon compote and pureed roast pumpkin) – do you sense a theme here? Better steam some peas too.
Makes 24 small muffins
1 cup white SR flour (I used spelt
1 cup wholemeal SR flour (Spelt flour, again)
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1) Peel and core the persimmon and pear. Chop them up and blend them into a puree in your food processor.
2) Add all other ingredients except pecans into the food processor and blend until smooth.
3) Add chopped pecans and stir to combine.
4) Pour into muffin trays and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.