Low Sugar Fruitcake

I love fruitcake, but the candied fruits used in most of them are filled with added sugar. This year I made plans in advance and candied my own fruits. This required quite a bit of preparation prior to baking day since I also made my own low sugar maraschino cherries weeks in advance by adapting this recipe and using sour cherries from my parents’ orchard then turned them into glacé cherries by substituting Lankanto monkfruit sweetener for sugar in this recipe. I candied my own citrus rind, again by exchanging monkfruit sweetener for sugar in a standard recipe. I diced my citrus peels prior to candying them to make it more convenient for baking. I used mandarin orange peel along with some salt preserved Buddha hand citron and Meyer lemon I had in my fridge. I rinsed the salt preserved peel well and cooked them in the monkfruit syrup a little longer to remove the saltiness. I planned to candy cranberries, too, but found some commercially made dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice and used them instead. You can use whatever fruits you prefer and have easy access to. I used half water and half homemade maraschino cherry juice for the liquid in the recipe, but realized the reserved pineapple juice would impart better flavor. Use whatever liquid you prefer; traditionally some type of spirit or fortified wine is used. You can bake this in cake pans instead of a loaf pan, just be aware the baking time will be lower.

2 1/4 cups super fine blanched almond flour
1 1/2 cups canned pineapple tidbits, drained
1 1/2 cups low sugar glacé cherries
3/4 cups dried or candied cranberries
3/4 cups mixed low sugar candied citrus peel (orange, lemon, citron)
3/4 cups salted butter, melted
6 Tbs coconut flour
1/4 cup pineapple juice or other flavorful liquid
1/4 cup stevia/erythritol blend
6 eggs
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp rum flavoring (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp orange extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a large 1.5 qt loaf pan with coconut or avocado cooking spray and parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, stevia-erythritol blend, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well combined. Add the eggs, melted butter, pineapple juice or other liquid, and extracts. Mix by hand with a large spoon or with an electric mixer until batter is well combined. Add candied and dried fruits and stir until they’re evenly distributed. Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan, level the batter with the back of a spoon, and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown and slightly cracked and a skewer inserted in the center comes out dry. Let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove the cake from the pan. Allow to chill in the refrigerator overnight before slicing.

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Low Carb Peppermint Cream Cheese Cookies

One of my favorite winter flavors is peppermint and this year I decided to try my hand at making low carb peppermint cookies. I’m pretty happy with the results. I used sugar free peppermint discs, crushing them with a hammer after unwrapping them and placing them in a resealable bag. A meat mallet or the butt of a heavy kitchen knife should work as well. I suspect that you can also replace the 1/4 cup of protein powder with a 1/2 cup of cocoa powder for chocolate peppermint cookies without changing the texture of the cookies too much.

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2 cups super fine almond flour
8 oz cream cheese, softened
30 sugar free peppermint discs, crushed
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup egg white or whey protein powder
1 egg
3 Tbs stevia-erythritol blend
2 Tbs butter, softened
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, and stevia-erythritol blend until fluffy. Add egg, baking powder, and peppermint extract, beat until smooth. Add almond flour, coconut flour, and protein powder. Mix until well combined. Stir in peppermint pieces until evenly distributed. Roll dough into balls containing approximately one tablespoon of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet about an inch apart and gently flatten. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly brown. Makes about 36 cookies.

Posted in Dessert, Gluten Free, Grain Free, LCHF, Specialized Diets, Sugar Free | Leave a comment

Low Carb Pie Crust

I’ve used this pie crust recipe for years and just realized I never posted it on its own. Usually I half the recipe since I make single crust and/or mini pies and it works just as well. When transferring into a pie pan, the crust may crack or break. Pat it back together with your fingers; it may not look pretty, but that doesn’t effect flavor.

2 1/4 cups super fine, blanched almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
5 Tbs butter or coconut oil, melted & cooled
2 Tbs cold water
1 tsp stevia-erythritol blend (optional)
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, sweetener, and salt. Mix ingredients well. Add coconut oil or butter and stir until a crumbly dough forms. Add water, a little at a time until dough holds together. You may not need all of it. Split the dough in two and roll into balls. Sandwich each of the dough balls between sheets of parchment paper and flatten out with the palm of your hand until a half inch think. Chill the crusts along with parchment paper in the refrigerator for 45-60 minutes. Once chilled, roll crusts to about an 1/8″ thick. Place bottom crust in pie pan and pat into place with fingers to remove any cracks in the crust. Add desired filling. Cover with top crust and crimp the edges with your fingers. Cut a few air vents in the top crust and bake until golden brown and filling is cooked through.

Posted in Dairy Free, Dessert, Gluten Free, Grain Free, LCHF, Specialized Diets, Sugar Free | Leave a comment

Low Carb Yeast Bread

After five test loaves, three of them in the past week, I finally perfected a low carb yeast bread that is close to the look and texture of white wheat bread. I used whey protein isolate along with lupin flour in place of coconut flour and golden flaxseed meal to avoid the cake-like texture common to many low carb breads. Lupin flour is the latest trend in low carb baking, with a 1/4 cup containing only 1 gram net carbs (12 grams total carbs and 11 grams fiber). I’ve found that a little goes a long way when added to a recipe, likely due to the high fiber content. If you don’t have access to lupin flour, you can substitute an additional 2 Tbs whey protein isolate and 2 Tbs golden flaxseed meal. My first two test loaves used this option.

Instead of depending on eggs for structure, I used whipped egg whites combined with gelatin and vinegar. The gelatin acts as a gluten replacement. While there is a small amount of honey/sugar in this recipe, it is there to feed the yeast. Without it, the bread won’t rise like a yeast dough. I didn’t test the recipe without proofing the bread first even though I used multiple leavening products. It may work without proofing if anyone wants to try it.

There are a lot of steps to this recipe and it may seem daunting at first. Good organization and setting up your mise en place helps. Separate the eggs, melt the butter, and start water boiling before beginning so it’s all ready when needed. Have all the ingredients and measuring cups and spoons set out before hand.

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2 1/2 cups packed super fine blanched almond flour
1/2 cup whey protein isolate
1/4 cup lupin flour
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup warm water, divided
4 egg whites
6 Tbs butter, melted and cooled
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs powdered gelatin
2 tsp honey or raw sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

Prepare a small loaf pan (1.2 qt/1.1 L) with parchment paper and cooking spray; I prefer coconut oil spray. In a small mixing bowl, add 2 tablespoons warm water. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over the top of the water and let sit for at least 5 minutes before adding boiling water. Stir until the gelatin is melted. In a small bowl, combine the other 2 tablespoons of warm water, honey or sugar, and yeast. Stir and set aside for at least 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine almond flour, whey protein isolate, lupin flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well combined. Add egg whites and apple cider vinegar to the melted gelatin and whisk with an electric mixer or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the yeast mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold the egg white mixture, which sets into a marshmallow fluff-like consistency, into the dough until well combined. The resulting dough will be more like a thick cake batter than a traditional bread dough. Spoon the dough into the prepared loaf pan and smooth down the top with an oiled spoon or spatula. Set in a warm, damp place to proof for 60-90 minutes. Tip: I proof my yeast breads in my oven with the light on and an oven safe bowl of hot water on the bottom shelf. Once the bread has proofed, pre-heat the oven to 325°F. If you had a bowl of water in the oven during proofing, leave it there. Bake the bread for 28-35 minutes, until it’s brown on all sides and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes before removing from the pan.

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Low Carb Goat Cheese Thyme Crackers

I have a hard time passing up good deals on cheese so, when I found a one kilogram log of outdated goat cheese for $3 at a local outlet grocery store, I knew I had to find a good way to use it. Part of it went into this easy and delicious cracker recipe.

I made the crackers with half almond flour and half almond meal since that’s what I had on hand. The texture came out great. The crackers are tender and crispy with a nice goat flavor. I only used one tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves from my herb garden and the thyme flavor was very subtle. I gave the option of increasing the amount of thyme in the recipe.

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7 oz crumbled chèvre goat cheese
2 cups super fine almond flour or a combination of almond flour and almond meal
2 Tbs water
1-2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
couple pinches of salt for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine crumbled goat cheese, almond flour, thyme, and salt in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add one tablespoon of water at a time and pulse until a dough forms. Pour dough on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper cut to fit a half sheet pan (18 x 13 inch). Knead dough for a couple of minutes and form into a log in the center of the mat or paper. Roll dough out with a rolling pin in a even layer to fit the mat or paper. Use an extra piece of parchment paper on top to make rolling easier. Cut the dough into square or rectangle cracker shapes. Sprinkle top of crackers lightly with extra salt, if desired. Transfer the mat or paper to a half sheet pan and bake for 28-30 minutes, until crackers are a light, golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Break crackers apart at the cut lines and store in an air tight container for up to a week.

Posted in Gluten Free, Grain Free, LCHF, Snack food, Specialized Diets | 1 Comment

Tomato Free Italian Plum Sauce

Tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables/fruits currently increase my inflammation and pain levels so I’m always looking for alternatives. Last week I made an Italian plum based barbecue sauce that tasted surprisingly like tomato based sauces so I decided to experiment. I have an almost endless supply of plums this time of year thanks to my parents trees so I brought home a bucket of them along with onion and celery from their garden.

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The sauce turned out much better than I expected. It looks and tastes more like a classic tomato sauce than the beet based sauce I’ve used in the past. My basic recipe is below, but be aware that I canned this sauce so the recipe makes 4-5 quarts. Ingredient amounts were approximated and will likely need to be adjusted based on the sweetness of the plums you’re using. To cut down the sweetness enough to mimic tomato sauce I used salt preserved lemons I made months ago. Lemon zest and additional salt may be used as an alternative. Be aware that excessive consumption of plums in any form can have a laxative effect.

9-10lbs plums, washed and pitted
1/2 cup white or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 large onion, rough chopped
1 preserved lemon, seeds removed
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 Tbs fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1-2 Tbs salt

Combine all ingredients except salt in a large stock pot or slow cooker. Simmer on low until onions and celery are cooked through and plums are broken down, stirring frequently. Puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Add salt and adjust seasoning or acid to suit your taste. Simmer further until the sauce reaches your desired consistency and flavor. Serve over your favorite pasta or pasta alternative and freeze or hot water bath can the remainder of the sauce.

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Sausage & Kale Crustless Quiche

Crustless quiches, aka baked fritattas, are one of my go-to dishes when I want an easy and nutritious meal. This one was inspired by what I had on hand. I made my own beef Italian style sausage by seasoning ground beef, but I would have used pork or turkey Italian sausage if I had it readily available so I wrote the recipe as if using Italian sausage. I used prewashed and cut kale from a bag, but sorted through the pieces and removed the heavy veins and stems for more even cooking and easier eating. If using whole kale leaves, remove the central veins and stems prior to chopping.

1 lb ground Italian sausage or links removed from casings
10 eggs
3-4 cups (6oz) kale leaves, washed & cut
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs milk or water
2 Tbs dried parsley
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a pie pan with cooking spray, I prefer coconut or avocado oil sprays. Saute sausage with olive oil, onion, garlic, and parsley until cooked through. Add balsamic vinegar and kale and cook until the kale is wilted. Add salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pour into prepared pie pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs with water or milk, fennel seeds, basil, thyme, and oregano. Add salt & pepper to season. Add 1/4 cup cheese to the egg mixture and stir well. Pour eggs and cheese mixture over the meat and kale mixture. Gently stir and even out the top. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and the eggs are cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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