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

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.

Blueberry, lemon and coconut cupcakes with Maple cream cheese icing

Blueberry lemon coconut cupcakesThe best part about these healthy yet tasty Blueberry, lemon and coconut cupcakes, which are high in dietary fibre and made without refined carbohydrates, is the Maple cream cheese icing. The icing is made with coconut butter, low fat cream cheese and maple extract and is sweetened with erythritol.

You can easily (and cheaply) make coconut butter by adding a few cups of desiccated or shredded coconut to your food processor and processing until a smooth, creamy butter forms. The texture of this icing is just like a butter icing, however, it contains no added sugar or butter. The coconut provides dietary fibre and contains medium-chain fatty acids. As I have mentioned previously on this blog, the scientific literature shows that medium-chain fatty acids are metabolized more rapidly than long-chain fatty acids, meaning the fat in coconut may have less of an impact on weight gain compared to other fat sources. So enjoy 1 (or 2) of these cupcakes as a low carb treat.

Blueberry lemon coconut cupcakes 2Blueberry, lemon and coconut cupcakes with Maple cream cheese icing

Makes 6 cupcakes

Ingredients

2 cups shredded or desiccated coconut, processed into coconut butter (makes about ½ cup)

1 cup coconut flour, sifted

½ cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons erythritol

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Juice from 1 lemon

Zest from ½ a lemon

2 eggs

1 cup coconut milk

Icing

¼ cup of the coconut butter

200 grams low fat cream cheese

1 – 2 tablespoons erythritol (depending on how sweet you like your icing – I went with 1 ½ tablespoons)

1 teaspoon maple extract

Utensils

Food processor

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowl

Spoon

Small grater (for lemon zest)

6 pan muffin tray (I used a silicone non-stick muffin tray)

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  • Add the shredded coconut to a food processor and process until it turns into coconut butter, scraping the sides of the food processor as necessary (5 – 10 minutes).
  • Add the sifted coconut flour, shredded coconut, erythritol and frozen blueberries to a mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
  • Add in the lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs and coconut milk. Mix well. Add in ¼ cup of the coconut butter and mix this through well.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin tray. Bake in the oven at 150°C for 40 minutes.
  • To make the icing, add the cream cheese to the remaining coconut butter in the food processor (no need to wash up). Add in the erythritol and maple extract.
  • Process until the icing is smooth.
  • Smother the cupcakes with the icing once they have cooled completely.

Healthy Mexican inspired side dishes

Healthy mexican side dishesI like cooking Mexican inspired food. I say ‘Mexican inspired’ because my Mexican dishes are far from traditional Mexican. I am often substituting ingredients to make my dishes lower in calories and carbohydrates, and easier to make. I do, however, try to use Mexican flavours, such as garlic, onion, chillies, tomatoes, cumin, lime juice and salt.

Here are a few of my healthier versions of Mexican inspired side dishes.

Healthier Chilli con queso

This dip or side dish is typically made from a blend of melted cheese, cream and chillies – delicious, yet very high in calories. So I made my own version with low fat cream cheese, coconut milk and Greek yoghurt. Now I can enjoy this side dish any night of the week. Spoon this con queso over a bean and vegetable dish or use it as a dip with carrot and celery sticks.

Ingredients

250 grams low fat cream cheese

½ cup coconut milk

¼ cup Greek yoghurt

1 clove garlic

½ red onion

½ a tin of chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon minced chillies (or adjust to desired taste)

Salt

Sprinkle of paprika

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

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

Small saucepan

Spoon

Method

  • Add all the ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender.
  • Process/blend until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into a saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the Chilli con queso thickens.
  • Allow the Chilli con queso to cool briefly before serving warm as a dip or spooned over a Mexican meal. For an even tastier dip, leave the con queso overnight after simmering then gently reheat it before serving.

 Smoky avocado dip

Smoky avocado dipI use tahini frequently in salad dressings and sauces, but I hadn’t combined it with avocado and I’m glad I did because it worked well.

Ingredients

1 avocado

1 heaped tablespoon tahini

½ cup Greek yoghurt

½ teaspoon paprika

Juice from ½ a lime

Salt

Utensils

Bowl

Sharp knife

Spoon

Fork

Measuring cups and spoons

Method

  • Mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

 Lime cauliflower rice

I do like my cauliflower rice. It has a similar texture to regular rice but is far lower in calories and carbohydrates. I added lime juice and salt for a more Mexican flavour.

Makes two serves

Ingredients

1/3 head of cauliflower

Juice from ½ lime

Salt

Utensils

Food processor

Sharp knife

Chopping board

Method

  • Add the cauliflower, lime juice and salt to the food processor. Process until the cauliflower resembles the texture of rice. Heat the cauliflower in the microwave for two minutes before serving.

Cherry ripe cheesecake (no refined carbohydrates, high in dietary fibre)

Cherry ripe cheesecakeI am really liking frozen cherries at the moment for their taste, convenience and potential health benefits, especially the abundance of antioxidants, which may assist with recovery from training (read about this in my previous post). I have been playing around with a Cherry ripe cheesecake recipe and I am pretty happy with this version.

Due to my recent injury – a severed flexor tendon in my right hand – I decided I wanted to include gelatin in this cheesecake. Tendons are composed of type I collagen and gelatin is made from the hydrolysis of collagen, so why not provide my body with the building blocks it requires to rebuild my tendon. Plus I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and wanted to make a tasty dessert. I have found myself a couple of times since the surgery at home, alone, eating peanut butter directly from the jar just because I felt like it. It can be very depressing when you can’t do the things that you love – for me that is trail running, mountain biking, riding my paddle ski, cycling, strength training and surfing – all the good stuff. But I am remaining positive. I have gone through injuries before (two broken wrists and a pinched nerve in my back to name a few) and I know that I will heal and get back into my training and regain my fitness. However, at the time it can be difficult to realise this. Hence the peanut butter and tasty cheesecake.

Despite feeling somewhat depressed, I still wanted to make this Cherry ripe cheesecake as healthy as possible. I used walnuts, flaxmeal and coconut flour to make a low carb, high fibre chocolate base. The filling consists of low fat cream cheese combined with coconut milk and coconut essence. I left the frozen cherries and coconut flakes a bit chunky for some texture. I sweetened both the base and the filling with erythritol, so there are no refined carbohydrates in this cheesecake and it contains a decent amount of dietary fibre. I usually ensure that my diet is rich in dietary fibre but I am especially including it at the moment to serve as prebiotics to help repopulate the bacteria in my gut after all the antibiotics I have been loaded up with.

This Cherry ripe cheesecake made without refined carbohydrates needs at least 2 hours to set in the fridge so some planning in advance is required.

Cherry ripe cheesecake (no refined carbohydrates, high in dietary fibre)

Ingredients

Base

1/2 cup walnuts

1/3 cup flaxmeal

½ cup coconut flour, sifted

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

1 tablespoon erythritol

½ cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

½ cup coconut milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling

250 grams low fat cream cheese

½ cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons erythritol

½ teaspoon coconut essence

¾ cup frozen pitted cherries

½ cup coconut flakes or shredded coconut

5 gelatin leaves dissolved in ¼ cup water

Utensils

Food processor or high-speed blender

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowl

Spoon

20cm x 20cm baking tray or round baking tray

Baking paper

Microwave safe bowl

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  • Add the walnuts to a food processor or high-speed blender and process/blend until they are the consistency of coarse crumbs. Tip the walnuts into a mixing bowl.
  • Add the flaxmeal, coconut flour, cocoa powder, erythritol and shredded coconut to the mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
  • Add in the melted coconut oil, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Mix well ensuring all ingredients are well combined.
  • Line the baking tray with baking paper. Tip the base mixture into the lined baking tray and press down firmly and evenly with wet hands.
  • Bake the base for 15 minutes. Remove the base and allow it to cool while you prepare the filling.
  • Add the cream cheese, coconut milk, erythritol and coconut essence to the food processor or high-speed blender. Process/blend until the mixture is smooth.
  • To dissolve the gelatin, add the gelatin leaves to a microwave safe bowl and cover them with the ¼ cup of water. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Mix then microwave for a further 30 seconds. Continue until the gelatin leaves are completely dissolved.
  • Add the dissolved gelatin, frozen cherries and coconut flakes to the food processor. Process until the ingredients are combined but some small chunks still remain (if you don’t like the chunkiness keep processing).
  • Pour the filling over the cooled base and allow the cheesecake to set in the fridge for at least two hours or until the filling is completely firm.
  • Slice and enjoy and try to look at the bright side of things in life (that is a reminder to myself).

 

Creamy mustard and chive chicken with mashed cauliflower (low calorie, low carb)

Creamy mustard and chive chickenI arrived home tonight after a massive day, which consisted of 2.5 hours of cycling starting at 4:30am this morning, with about 1300m of elevation, followed by a 10 hour day in the lab. I had one thing on my mind – food. As I was driving home I thought to myself ‘Could I really be bothered cooking dinner when I get home? Perhaps I will just have some scrambled eggs.” But, being the foodie that I am, I ended up putting in a bit of effort and making this low calorie, low carb Creamy mustard and chive chicken.

I am competing in a 20km trail running race this Saturday, so I have reduced my training this week so that I feel fresh. This means that I need to keep an eye on the amount of calories I am consuming so that I don’t start the race carrying extra weight. Therefore, I kept the calories low in this meal by cooking the chicken in water and vegetable stock and using Greek yoghurt to create the creaminess.

I am all about practical and affordable recipes on this blog and fresh chives are not something that I expect most people would have in their fridge. The only reason why I used fresh chives was because we have some growing on our balcony. If you don’t have fresh chives then dried chives would be fine. Or just leave them out altogether and make this dish Creamy mustard chicken.

I served mine with mashed steamed cauliflower mixed with a little bit of tahini and salt, which was delicious. If you require additional carbohydrates serve this with mashed potatoes or some rice.

Creamy mustard and chive chicken

Makes 2 serves

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, cubed

1 vegetable stock cube

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 red capsicum, diced

300 grams mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons hot English or Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped

1 cup Greek yoghurt

Salt and pepper, to taste

Utensils

Sharp knife

Chopping board (I like to use separate chopping boards for vegetables and meat – you become hyperaware of cross contamination as a microbiologist)

Non-stick saucepan

Wooden spoon

Measuring cups and spoons

Method

  • Crumble the vegetable stock cube into the saucepan and add enough water to line the bottom of the saucepan. Add the chicken and garlic to the saucepan and cook over medium to high heat adding water as necessary to prevent sticking.
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, add in the capsicum and mushrooms. Cook until the vegetables are tender.
  • Turn the heat down to low and add in the mustard, chives, Greek yoghurt, salt and pepper. Mix well and simmer until the sauce thickens.