Healthier quick and easy Sticky date pudding

healthy-sticky-date-pudding-3This weekend was another big one for me. On Saturday I competed in a 21km trail run in horrendous conditions. It had been pouring with rain all night and the trails were muddy to say the very least. My Hokas were so caked in mud that they were sliding off my feet as I was running. Every now and then a big chunk of mud would fly off my shoes and hit me in the back of the leg. Despite the conditions I still managed a win for the females and placed 4th overall. Then on Sunday I competed for the first time in the Flight Centre Cycle Epic.

Cycle Epic 2016 - Images © ESi sports photography

Here I am winning the 21km trail run

The Epic is an 87km mountain bike race consisting of a mixture of fire roads, single track, flowy single trails and some steep, rocky climbs. Due to the rain the race was postponed until 10am on Sunday and the course was shortened to 77kms. This was my longest mountain bike race to date. Actually, I haven’t done a lot of mountain bike racing and I was feeling a bit nervous prior to the start. I was concerned about the mud on the course and I was concerned that I would be slowing down faster riders. It took a good 30kms before I finally relaxed and started to enjoy the race. At the 40km mark I had a quick chat to our wonderful supporters, topped up my water, downed a mini Mars bar and continued for the last 37kms.

I felt more comfortable going in to the last 37kms because those riders who were doing the 40km race were finished at that point. This meant that there were less riders on the course and I did not have to worry about getting stuck behind slower riders or in front of faster riders. I really started to enjoy the race and felt like I was riding quite strong and confidently. I was pleased to finish the 77kms in just under 5 hours – faster than I expected – and 7th age group female.

Cycle Epic 2016 - Images © ESi sports photography

And here I am taking out the Female Overall Champion of Epic Endurance! My best trophy so far and the Shiraz was very nice.

I achieved my goal for the weekend, which was to take out the Female Overall Champion of Epic Endurance! Quite a name, isn’t it? I won this because I finished both the 21km trail run and the 87km (well 77km actually) mountain bike race with the fastest combined time. It was totally worth getting covered in mud for.

My eating was not great over the weekend. We camped over the weekend and I had burgers, beers and pizza at the Barn Bar. I was more focused on racing than anything else so I didn’t bother preparing any proper meals. During the mtb race I was doing Cliff bars, gels and my new favourite race food – mini Mars bars. These are the best. Rapidly digestible carbs that are tasty and easy to eat. And the chocolate makes you feel good. I also had a bottle of Trailbrew; a new energy/hydration mix made by my friend Troy.

So after a weekend of pretty junky food I was looking forward to getting back to eating well. That doesn’t mean I have to go without dessert. Tonight I had a go at making a healthier version of Sticky date pudding with a Warm caramel sauce. Our oven is in the process of being replaced so I made these mini Sticky date puddings using the microwave.

I made them with dates, erythritol, coconut flour, flaxmeal and coconut milk, so they are high in fibre and not loaded with refined carbohydrates. The warm caramel sauce was made with Greek yoghurt, coconut milk, erythritol and vanilla bean paste.

The combination of coconut flour and flaxmeal give the pudding a firm but soft texture. If you are not familiar with flaxmeal, or golden flaxseed meal, this is the product left after pressing flaxseeds to get flaxseed oil. Flaxseeds and linseeds are actually the same thing, however, flaxseed is used to describe flax when consumed as food while linseed is used to describe flax when it is used in industry or for animal feed. Flaxmeal is low in carbs, high in fibre and low in fat. The nutritional information tells me that it contains only 8.0 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, 33 grams of fibre per 100 grams and 12 grams of fat per 100 grams. It really is high in fibre so do not over consume flaxmeal. I found that it really gets my bowels moving and I can see how too much could cause gastrointestinal issues, so please be aware. A small amount of flaxmeal added to baking seems to give a doughy texture. I also like to make a little pudding with flaxmeal, as it takes on a gel consistency when combined with liquid.

healthy-sticky-date-puddingBack to the Sticky date pudding. Not only were these Sticky date puddings healthier than traditional sticky date pudding, which is full of sugar, butter and refined white flour, but they were very quick and easy to make. I blended all the ingredients together, poured the mixture into two small bowls and microwaved the puddings for 3.5 minutes each. That is it!

Healthier Sticky date pudding with warm caramel sauce

Makes 2 serves

Ingredients

½ cup pitted dates soaked in ½ cup of boiling water

½ cup coconut milk (I used low fat to reduce the calories)

1 tablespoon erythritol

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

¼ cup coconut flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

Warm caramel sauce

1/3 cup Greek yoghurt

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon erythritol

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

A few drops of maple extract

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

3 small microwave safe bowls

Food processor

Spoon

Fork

Method

  • Allow the dates to soak in the boiling water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Add the dates to the food processor and process until they are finely chopped.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and process until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
  • Divide the pudding mixture between two small, microwave safe bowls.
  • Microwave each pudding for 3.5 minutes. This may vary depending on your microwave but I basically microwaved them until they were completely firm and starting to come away from the sides of the bowl.
  • While the puddings are cooking in the microwave, prepare the Warm caramel sauce by combing all the ingredients in a small, microwave safe bowl.
  • Mix until well combined (you could also add all the ingredients to a clean food processor and process to combine).
  • Microwave the sauce for 30 seconds. Give the sauce a mix. If it is warm enough do not microwave further. If it gets too hot the yoghurt will curdle.
  • Tip the puddings upside down onto two plates. Poke holes all over the warm puddings with a fork.
  • Pour the caramel sauce evenly over the puddings allowing it to soak in.
  • Serve and enjoy.healthy-stick-date-pudding-2

Healthy Strawberry and ricotta soft serve (low calorie, low fat, no refined carbohydrates)

Strawberry and ricotta soft serve 4Believe me when I tell you that the combination of ricotta cheese and strawberries is absolutely delicious. To make this healthier Strawberry and ricotta soft serve simply freeze some low fat ricotta cheese in ice cube trays, freeze some strawberries then throw them into a high-speed blender along with erythritol and coconut milk. I added some cinnamon, maple extract and vanilla bean paste for extra flavour.

My healthier version of soft serve is low in calories and contains no refined carbohydrates. So go ahead and eat both serves if you must. Top this Strawberry and ricotta soft serve with extra chopped strawberries. Some chopped dark chocolate on top would be lovely too.

Strawberry and ricotta soft serve 2Healthy Strawberry and ricotta soft serve

Makes 2 small serves (or one large serve if you are feeling particularly hungry or just want heaps of dessert)

Ingredients

300 grams low fat ricotta cheese frozen into ice cube trays

6 medium – large strawberries, washed, tops removed and frozen

2 heaped tablespoons erythritol

½ cup low fat coconut milk

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon maple extract (not necessary but very delicious)

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Utensils

Spoon

Ice cube trays

High-speed blender (I use an Ominblend V– buy yours here)

Measuring cups and spoons

Method

  • Spoon the ricotta cheese into the two ice cube trays. Spread the ricotta cheese out evenly with the back of a spoon and freeze for at least 6 hours.
  • Freeze the strawberries for at least 6 hours.
  • To prepare the soft serve remove the frozen cubes of ricotta cheese from the trays. Add the frozen ricotta cheese, frozen strawberries plus the remaining ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until a smooth, even consistency is achieved (I stirred the soft serve with the tamper/stirring stick during blending).
  • Divide the soft serve between two bowls and freeze for 30 – 60 minutes before serving.

Chocolate chickpea mousse (high fibre, low calorie, vegan)

Chocolate chickpea mousseThis is a healthy dessert that is quick and easy, yet still tasty. What makes it healthy? Well, it is high in dietary fibre, thanks to the chickpeas, and is far lower in calories and refined carbohydrates compared to any traditional chocolate mousse.

Don’t be put off by the chickpeas. They contribute only a subtle nutty taste but create a smooth and creamy texture. It happens to be vegan too. You could use any sweetener you like. I choose to use the low calorie sugar alcohol erythrtiol.

You could top this dessert with blueberries, frozen cherries, some shredded coconut or some crushed nuts – or all of these options if you feel like it. The pink umbrella was my attempt to make this dessert look pretty. I really suck at food photography!

Chocolate chickpea mousse 2

Chocolate chickpea mousse

Makes 2 small serves (or 1 big serve if you are hungry)

Ingredients

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon erythritol

¼ cup apple sauce

¼ cup reduced fat coconut milk

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Food processor

Method

  • Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until a smooth, even consistency is achieved.

Coffee ricotta panna cotta with Cinnamon walnut topping (low calorie, no refined carbs)

Coffee panna cotta 3Although this dessert sounds a bit weird to say (a lot of words ending in ‘a’), it tastes very nice. To reduce the calories I made this panna cotta with low fat coconut milk and ricotta cheese and sweetened it with the sugar alcohol erythritol. It is flavoured with coffee extract and vanilla bean paste. You could use a shot of espresso instead but I didn’t want the caffeine right before bed.

I guess you could say that this is actually an upside down panna cotta. Typically panna cotta is removed from a ramekin or mould and served attractively on a plate. I really could not be bothered with attempting to remove these from the bowls. After all, it will taste the same, right?

I decided that it needed some sort of topping, so I went for a crunchy Cinnamon walnut topping. This does bring the calorie count up, but you only need to use a small amount. Overall, this dessert was very simple to prepare and could easily be scaled up if you had friends over for dinner.

Coffee panna cotta 1Coffee ricotta panna cotta with Cinnamon walnut topping

Makes 2 serves

Ingredients

1 cup low fat coconut milk

2 tablespoons erythritol

1 ½ teaspoons coffee extract (or a shot of espresso)

½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (this stuff is expensive but very nice)

3 gelatine leaves

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

Cinnamon walnut topping

¼ cup walnuts

2 tablespoons desiccated coconut

½ tablespoon erythritol

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Small saucepan

Spoon

Bowl/container

2 small bowls or ramekins/moulds

Food processor

Coffee panna cotta 2

Method

  • Put the gelatin leaves into a bowl or container and cover with cold water to allow them to bloom (this just means allow the sheets to soften and swell slightly).
  • Add the coconut milk, erythritol, coffee extract and vanilla bean paste to a saucepan. Begin warming the mixture over medium heat while stirring.
  • Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add them to the saucepan.
  • Continue heating and stirring until the gelatine is completely dissolved.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the ricotta cheese until it is completely mixed through.
  • Pour the panna cotta into the small bowls you plan to serve them in. If you are planning on removing the panna cotta lightly grease your bowls/moulds first. There is a method for removing the panna cotta which you can easily find online.
  • Allow the panna cotta to set in the fridge for at least two hours.
  • To make the Cinnamon walnut topping add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until the texture of crumbs is formed.
  • Serve the panna cotta sprinkled with the topping.

Ginger and sesame mini cheesecakes (no refined carbohydrates)

Ginger sesame mini cheesecakesI have been experimenting with sesame flour lately. Sesame flour is very simple to make, not too expensive and is low in carbohydrates To make sesame flour I simply process sesame seeds into a coarse flour texture. Sesame flour has a nutty taste. I have not done a lot of baking with sesame flour but I have found that the texture works well in bases of cheesecakes and slices.

Sesame flour was the perfect ingredient to use for the base of these Asian inspired Ginger and sesame mini cheesecakes. I used a combination of sesame flour and coconut flour for the bases, along with erythritol, ground ginger, tahini and coconut oil. I used more ground ginger, tahini and sesame seeds in the cheesecakes, as well as low fat cream cheese, low fat coconut milk and 1 egg.

Ginger sesame cheesecakes 3The ground ginger adds spiciness while the sesame seeds and tahini add a delicious nutty flavour. Very tasty, low in carbohydrates and high in dietary fibre. The sesame seeds are quite nutritious too, as they are rich in a range of minerals, including copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and zinc. So eat up!

Ginger and sesame mini cheesecakes

Makes 6 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients

Base

½ cup sesame seeds

½ cup coconut flour

1 tablespoon erythritol

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon tahini

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Cheesecakes

2 x 250 gram tubs of low fat cream cheese

1/3 cup low fat coconut milk

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ cup erythritol

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 egg

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Food processor

Mixing bowl

Spoon

6 pan muffin tray

Baking paper

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  • To make the base firstly add the sesame seeds to a food processor and process until they resemble the texture of coarse crumbs. Tip the sesame flour into the mixing bowl.
  • Add in the coconut flour, erythritol and ground ginger and mix well to combine.
  • Add the tahini and coconut oil to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  • Line the pans of a muffin tray with baking paper. Divide the base mixture between the lined muffin tray pans and press down with wet hands until it is firm and even.
  • Bake the bases for 15 minutes at 150°C.
  • While the bases are baking prepare the cheesecake mixture by adding the low fat cream cheese, coconut milk, ground ginger, erythritol and tahini to the food processor.
  • Process until the mixture is even and smooth.
  • Add in the sesame seeds and egg and process until combined.
  • Remove the bases from the oven and although them to cool.
  • Pour the cheesecake mixture over the bases and smooth them out with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake the cheesecakes for about 40 minutes at 150°C.
  • Remove the cheesecakes from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature before removing them from the muffin tray using the excess baking paper.
  • Chill the mini cheesecakes completely in the fridge before serving.Ginger sesame mini cheesecake 2

Healthy Rocky road ice cream

Healthy rocky road ice creamWhat’s not to like about Rocky road? It’s got milk chocolate, sweet marshmallows and sugary glacé cherries combined with nuts and coconut. Yes Rocky road is delicious, but it is not particularly healthy with all that sugar combined with fat. However, I have created a healthier version of Rocky road – in an ice cream form.

I made my own marshmallows with low fat coconut milk, erythritol, vanilla bean paste, Greek yoghurt and gelatin. The ice cream is made with frozen coconut milk and Greek yoghurt blended with cocoa powder, erythritol, more vanilla bean paste and some peanut butter. I added in desiccated coconut, walnuts and frozen cherries for some delicious chunks. My version is far lower in refined carbohydrates and calories than any store bought Rocky road.

There really was not too much effort involved. I quickly blended up the marshmallow mixture last night and added the coconut milk and Greek yoghurt to the ice cube trays so that everything would be ready when I got home tonight. I then only had to add all the ingredients into my food processor and the result was this delicious dessert. Although it is not the most attractive looking dessert I can assure you it was tasty and won’t leave you feeling stuffed or on a come down after a major sugar rush. It was a perfect dessert before a 14km trail race I have on tomorrow morning. A little bit of carbs to top up my glycogen stores but not loaded with sugar so that I have trouble sleeping. This healthy Rocky road ice cream is also easily digested so I’m not running with a full stomach in the morning.

Healthy rocky road ice cream 2Healthy Rocky road ice cream

Makes 2 serves

Ingredients

Marshmallows (prepare the day before or morning before you plan to make the ice cream)

200ml (1/2 a can) low fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon erythritol

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

4 gelatin leaves in ¼ cup of water

Ice cream

200ml low fat coconut milk frozen in ice cube trays

1 cup Greek yoghurt (low fat or full fat) frozen in ice cube trays

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons erythritol

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 tablespoon peanut butter (tasty but not necessary)

¼ cup desiccated coconut

½ cup walnuts

½ cup frozen cherries

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Food processor or high-speed blender (I use an Omniblend – buy yours here (http://www.omniblendaustralia.com.au/ref/54/)

Spoon

Small microwave safe mixing bowl

Rectangular container

Baking paper

Knife

Chopping board

Method

  • To make the marshmallows add the coconut milk, erythritol, vanilla bean paste and Greek yoghurt to a food processor. Process until combined.
  • Place the gelatin leaves into the small mixing bowl and cover with the ¼ cup of water. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Mix the dissolved gelatin with a spoon and microwave for a further 1 minute until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  • Add the dissolved gelatin to the food processor and process until it is combined into the coconut milk mixture.
  • Line the rectangular container with baking paper and pour in the marshmallow mixture. Chill until the marshmallow mixture is set (at least 8 hours).
  • To make the ice cream gradually add the cubes of frozen coconut milk and Greek yoghurt to the food processor. Process the frozen cubes as you add them until the ice cream is completely smooth.
  • Add in the cocoa powder, erythritol, vanilla bean paste and peanut butter (if you are using it). Process until completely combined.
  • Add the desiccated coconut, walnuts and frozen cherries to the food processor and process until the walnuts and cherries are roughly chopped and mixed through the ice cream.
  • Divide the ice cream into two bowls.
  • Once the marshmallow mixture is set pull it out of the container using the baking paper.
  • Slice the marshmallow mixture into small square chunks and add half to each bowl of ice cream.
  • Mix the marshmallows through the ice cream and enjoy your tasty, healthy version of Rocky road ice cream.

Raw cauliflower sushi

Raw cauliflower sushiI am aware that cauliflower sushi is not new, however, I have never really been bothered to try it. Given my recent injury (a sliced tendon in my right thumb – read about how it happened here) I had a little bit of extra spare time with less training and time off work. So I had a go at making Raw cauliflower sushi.

I put my own spin on this recipe by using a few good tablespoons of tahini to help the cauliflower ‘sushi rice’ stick together. The tahini also gave it a nutty, smoky flavour. I roasted some thin strips of pumpkin in a drizzle of sesame oil and soy sauce to use as a filling, along with baby spinach, carrot, cucumber, red capsicum and avocado. The dipping sauce consisted of soy sauce, tahini, rice wine vinegar, some ground ginger and a touch of erythritol for sweetness.

So what is the verdict? Pretty damn tasty and not too difficult to prepare either. I just threw the cauliflower into the food processor along with the tahini, as well as some rice wine vinegar and a touch of honey, and processed it until it formed almost a thick paste. I spread this onto my nori sheets with wet hands and prepared it in exactly the same way as preparing normal sushi. I was quite impressed with this low carb version of sushi.

Raw cauliflower sushi

Makes 4 rolls

Ingredients

Cauliflower ‘sushi rice’

1 small head of cauliflower or ¾ of a large head, broken up into florets

4 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey (swap with another sweetener for a vegan version)

 

4 nori sheets

Fillings – roast pumpkin, spinach, thinly sliced carrot, capsicum, cucumber and avocado (or any other fillings you like)

Utensils

Food processor

Chopping board

Sharp knife

Measuring cups and spoons

Sushi mat

Cup of water

Method

  • Add the cauliflower florets gradually to a food processor and process until the cauliflower resembles the texture of rice.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and process until the cauliflower rice starts to form a thick paste.
  • Lay one nori sheet on to the sushi mat. Spread out the cauliflower ‘sushi rice’ using wet hands on two thirds of the nori sheet.
  • Place the fillings at the end of the nori sheet covered with the cauliflower sushi rice (if you are unsure how to prepare sushi Google it).
  • Wrap up the sushi roll using the sushi mat. Seal the nori with wet fingers. Chill in the fridge while you preparing the remaining rolls of sushi.
  • Slice the sushi rolls into bite size pieces with a sharp knife and serve with dipping sauce.