Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

I recently got a copy of The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book from the library and it has a great recipe section at the back. I’m definitely going to buy a copy of my own though because it’s an invaluable resource for following the low FODMAP diet, as is the cookbook. As I was reading, one of the recipes that caught my eye was one for a gluten-free carrot and pecan cake.

Now let me tell you, I love cake, but I hate gluten-free cakes that have that horrid granular texture and whip all of the moisture out of your mouth whilst you try to chew them. Nope. Just nope. However, I’m very pleased to tell you, friends, that this cake is not like that. It’s moist, moreish and massively tasty!

The official recipe in the book calls for a blend of cornflour, rice and tapioca flours, but who has time for that? I just used a Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour blend (which I’m going to start buying in bulk) and it worked just fine. The recipe also just states that you’re to use “2 small carrots”, but I hate that sort of instruction, particularly when it comes to making things like cakes when the quantities you use can make a massive difference to the overall result of the cake. Instead, I weighed my carrots and ascertained that 250g of carrots was the optimum carrot quantity needed. You’re welcome.  😉

I must admit, I tweaked the recipe that was in the book, so this is my version of the one you’ll find in The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book. However, I’ll justify this ‘tweakage’ by stating that I think the different flours used called for a bit more rice milk and a bit less egg. And some nutmeg because all carrot cakes should have a bit of fresh nutmeg grated into them. And a coconut milk frosting too because all good cakes deserve to be draped in yet more sugar, don’t you think? What can I say, I’m a rebel.

This makes quite a large cake, so although the book recommended baking it in a single cake tin I actually baked mine in two smaller sandwich tins. My intention was to sandwich the two cakes between a dairy-free coconut icing, but the icing let me down because it wasn’t thick enough to join the cakes together. As a result, I just drizzled the coconut frosting over the carrot and pecan cake as you would with cream and it was delicious none the less.

If you fancy a slice of a good carrot and pecan cake, regardless of whether you’re gluten-free or not, I’d really recommend using this recipe. It makes a wonderfully delicate, but moist cake that’s speckled with sweet little carrot pieces and soft, yielding, tasty fragments of pecan nut. It’s definitely one of the best gluten-free carrot and pecan cakes I’ve ever had.

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

250g grated carrots

270g gluten-free flour

220g sugar

100g pecans

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsps of baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

130ml rice milk

2 large eggs

125ml vegetable oil

For the frosting:

1 tsp lemon juice

The coconut cream from a can of coconut milk (the solid fat that sits at the top)

350g icing sugar

Method:

Preheat your oven to 170C/150C Fan/325F/Gas mark 3.

Prepare a pair of cake tins by lining them with greaseproof paper.

Put all of your wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Add all of the other ingredients (apart from the frosting ingredients) and whisk together until it’s all fully combined.

Pour into the two cake tins making sure an equal amount of cake mix is in each tin.

Bake for around 35-40 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.

In the meantime, make your frosting by putting all of the frosting ingredients into a jug or bowl and whisking together. Add more lemon juice if it needs loosening up or more icing sugar if it’s too liquid.

Once baked, remove from the oven and let them cool.

Once they’re cold, serve with a drizzle of coconut frosting.

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

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Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

I made Anzac Biscuits a wee while ago and, although they were lovely, they were the thickness of a flapjack and I wanted to make these dark chocolate and ginger oaties thinner so that they were more like a biscuit. Oats are very FODMAP friendly and most people love baked oats, so it made sense to me to base a biscuit recipe on them.

Oats are really good for the body. They’re a great source of protein and fibre and are full of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Oats are also excellent for helping to lower levels of bad cholesterol in the blood due to their soluble fibre content, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. They’re all round good guys, really.

Although I’ve just written about how healthy oats are, I must confess that aside from my morning bowl of porridge, I really love oats baked as biscuits. There’s something about the flavour of a toasted oat that lends itself well to being incorporated within a crunchy little sweet biscuit. They also have the wonderful ability to complement the flavour of certain spices, such as cinnamon and cardamon, but none more so than within these dark chocolate and ginger oaties.

These dark chocolate and ginger oaties are crisp and sweet, but with the added deep flavour profile of the dark chocolate drizzle on top. They’re unbelievably easy and quick to make and keep in the biscuit tin for at least a week, if not more. It all depends on how much you can resist their tempting call.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of gluten-free oats

1/2 cup of desiccated coconut

1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour)

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1 tsp xantham gum

1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp cold water and soaked for 1/2 an hour)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps ground ginger

100g dark chocolate

Method:

Soak 1 tbsp of chia seeds in 3 tbsps of cold water for half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 170C/150C Fan/350F/ Gas mark 4.

Line a baking tray (if you’re making individual biscuits) or a baking tin (if you’re making one large bake and then cutting it into squares, like I did) with greaseproof paper.

Melt the coconut oil and then put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine.

Form into individual balls (about golf ball size) and then place on the baking tray and press them down slightly so they form a little patty, or if you’re baking it as a whole, tip the mixture into the baking tin and press it down.

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and, in the case of the individual biscuits, leave to cool. If you’ve made one large bake, then leave it in the baking tray, but cut it into squares while it’s still warm.

Once your oaties have cooled down a bit, melt the dark chocolate (I just do this in the microwave, but I stir it very frequently so that the chocolate doesn’t burn). Drizzle over the oaties and leave to set.

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

A Tray of Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

Wait until the biscuits are totally cold before removing from the baking tray.

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

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Beef Madras

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Now that spring is creeping in, with its sporadic sunny, but chilly days it’s tempting to get work done in the garden. However, I know fine well that if I’m going to be working in the garden all day the last thing I’ll feel like doing when I get in is cooking a decent meal from scratch. I think a hot bath to take the chill from my bones (helped along by a warming glass of wine or two) will be a much stronger calling. So it was with a great deal of foresight that I prepared this beef madras in the slow cooker before I headed outside the other day.

The beauty of using the slow cooker to cook a curry is that it allows the spicy flavours to permeate into the casserole beef throughout the whole day while the slow cooking process also tenderises the meat. As a result, you’ve got a wonderful meal to come home to after a hard day’s work with very little effort and minimal prep work involved.

Upon tasting this beef madras, I discovered that it was a bit on the spicy side for my family so I kept my (dairy-free) portion aside and added double cream into the rest. I don’t mind quite a generous amount of heat in my curries, but the addition of the cream seemed to be a resounding success with my family because it tamped down the heat of the chilli in the curry while adding a luxurious richness. Equally, you could omit the madras curry powder and use a garam masala curry powder instead, which will add flavour, but not heat.

If you like meals that involve very little work to prepare and curries with plenty of body and flavour then this beef madras is definitely one for you to try.

Ingredients:

450g Casserole beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2tsps hot Madras powder
1 tsp (heaped) ground turmeric
2 tsps Marigold stock boullion powder
1 tsp salt
2 peppers (diced)
1/2 packet coconut cream (grated)
1/2 pot Elmlea double cream
Serve with basmati rice
Method:
Set your slow cooker on low and put the beef, chopped tomatoes and coconut cream in.
Put the stock, Madras curry powder, salt and ground turmeric in a jug and add around 100ml of hot water to it and stir before adding to the slow cooker. Stir until everything is mixed together.
Leave the beef madras to putter away all day. About twenty minutes before serving add your diced peppers. Taste to see if you need to add any more salt. Make your rice.
When you’re ready to eat, serve as it is or add double cream (or a dairy-free cream) if you feel it’s a bit too spicy or if you just want to make it richer.
Serve with rice, naan breads or poppadums and fresh coriander.
Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

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Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls

Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls by The Fat Foodie

Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls by The Fat Foodie

My doula friend Jen, over at  Your Birth Scotland, asked me to create a few recipes for pregnant women and postpartum mums that would be easy for them to make, but would be nice and healthy to help nourish their bodies too.

These apricot and sunflower seed energy balls are excellent little snacks that are filled with energy and nutrients for new and expectant mums. They’re incredibly easy to make because all you have to do is just throw all of your ingredients into a food processor (a handy tool to have in the kitchen because you can puree food for your baby with it) and then roll them into balls before coating them.

This is the second batch of energy balls I’ve made. The first ones, Chocolate Date Energy Balls, were lovely but I realised that I’d made them a little too big, so I thought I’d make these ones a bit smaller. They’re certainly more comfortable to eat because they’re bite-sized.

I asked a few of my friends who’ve had babies what kind of snacks they found useful during their pregnancies and postpartum and they all said that they needed quick, convenient things that they could grab to eat while juggling a baby, but that were fairly healthy and would give them plenty of energy. Thankfully, I think these fit that remit quite well.

These apricot and sunflower seed energy balls are delicious while being stuffed full of good things, such as fibre, and they have heaps of iron in them (something pregnant women and those who have recently given birth are often low in). In fact, in order to absorb the most amount of iron from food it’s best to consume it along with some vitamin C because it helps the body to take the iron in (i.e having a glass of fresh orange juice along with your steak and chips or hummus salad sandwich).

However, these energy balls do this already because you’ve got the vitamin C in the dried dates and apricots supplementing the iron that’s naturally found in the oats, tahini and within the dates and apricots themselves. Also, the dried dates and apricots contain important vitamins and minerals including potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, folate and vitamin A. It’s like these energy ball ingredients want to make you healthier! And as doula, Jen, at Your Birth Scotland attests, it makes sense to supplement your diet with as many naturally occurring vitamins and minerals as possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy and to take care of your adjusting maternal body postpartum.

I made these with the intention of them being a snack to nibble on throughout the week, but my partner seemed to find them irresistible as a breakfast food, grabbing two or three before leaving the house on a morning, or stuffing a couple into their packed lunch bag, or munching one or two while doing the dishes as a little after dinner natural sugar hit.

Regardless of how or when you want to eat them, you can be guaranteed that these energy balls will put more than a little spring in your step.

Ingredients:

150g dates

1 ripe banana

A pinch of salt

50g dried apricots

50g oats

50g sunflower seeds

4 tbsps. cocoa powder

50g coconut oil (melted)

1 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp hot water

60g desiccated coconut (reserve a little for coating the energy balls)

30g sesame seeds (for coating the energy balls)

Method:

Lay a bowl, two plates and a piece of greaseproof paper out on your work surface.

Put all of your ingredients into a food processor and blend together until it starts forming a ball. Empty out into the bowl.

Fat Foodie Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Ball Mix

Fat Foodie Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Ball Mix

Pour the sesame seeds onto one plate and the leftover coconut onto another plate so that you’ve got a production line in place.

Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls Production Line

Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls Production Line

Take a small piece of energy ball mixture and roll it in your palms until it forms a small ball and then roll it in either the sesame or the coconut coating and set on the greaseproof paper.

Coconut Coated Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls by The Fat Foodie

Coconut Coated Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls by The Fat Foodie

Continue until all of the mixture is used up and then put the energy balls in the fridge to harden. Enjoy!

Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls by The Fat Foodie

Apricot and Sunflower Seed Energy Balls by The Fat Foodie

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Ever since I’ve been cooking with coconut oil I’ve wondered what it would be like used in a cake instead of butter. I feared that it would make the sponge heavy, but it actually works really well and gives the cake a light texture while retaining its moisture. Coconut oil tastes quite strongly of coconut though, so I knew it’d have to be a cake which used coconut as one of its main flavour profiles. I figured incorporating lemon zest would work well with it and it does, creating feather-light, fruity, fluffy coconut and lemon cupcakes.

This cake is one of those brilliant ‘chuck all of the ingredients into a big bowl and whisk’ mixes, taking next to no time at all to prepare and with the aid of an electric whisk it’s easy to whip up a light and tasty buttercream with which to top the cakes. The real difficulty lies in stopping yourself from eating more than one at a time. Well, maybe two…

Ingredients:

140g coconut oil (melted, but not hot)

200g sugar

2 tbsps lemon juice

2 eggs

a pinch of salt

120ml milk

4 tbsps dessicated coconut

the grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp coconut essence

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

For the buttercream icing:

70g soft butter

1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

180g icing sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsps of dessicated coconut (for decoration)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4.

Place your empty cupcake cases in a cupcake tray or, if you don’t have one, just on a flat tray.

With the exception of the flour and baking powder, put all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Add the flour and baking powder and whisk.

Spoon the cake mix into the cupcake cases, but don’t overfill them. (I normally fill them to roughly halfway.)

Bake them in the oven for 12-15 mins until they’re golden brown. You can tell they’re cooked when a skewer pushed into the centre comes out completely clean. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Put all of the buttercream icing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until the icing is pale and fluffy.

When the cakes are cool top each one with a dollop of the buttercream icing and sprinkle with dessicated coconut.

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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