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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Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

I really fancied a sweet breakfast muffin yesterday morning and after I remembered that I had frozen blueberries in the freezer I decided I’d make blueberry muffins. These are really easy to make and don’t take very long at all to cook, making them a real winner for a lazy Sunday morning ‘get up, make muffins, go back to bed to eat them with the Sunday papers’ kind of breakfast.

I don’t like blueberry muffins to be too sweet (especially breakfast muffins). There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you’re eating cake for breakfast as opposed to what is actually quite a healthy and nutritious bake. These blueberry muffins contain chia seeds which are packed with protein, fibre, iron, antioxidants and Omega-3 fats. The inclusion of blueberries also adds not only a healthy dose of vitamin C to the nutritional content of the muffins, but folate, potassium and fibre too. So, they’re not as guilt-inducing as you’d think and they’re certainly better for you than a lot of the sugary cereals that we’re all so familiar with.

I baked some of my blueberry muffins with sunflower seeds and some without, but I preferred the ones with the sunflower seeds on top because along with adding texture they added a lovely toasted nut flavour to the muffins. I’d love to experiment with these muffins in future. I’m particularly intrigued by the thought of trying them with fresh raspberries and brambles baked into them when the autumn bounty comes around.

These blueberry muffins are delicious enough and moist enough to be eaten on their own, but after tasting a bit of one I opted to have mine with vegan butter and jam. It’ll be entirely your own choice, but either way you’ll have a delicious breakfast muffin to tuck in to.

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free plain flour (or normal flour)

100g brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

100ml almond or rice milk (or normal milk)

2 chia eggs (2tbsps of chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsps of cold water and soaked for half an hour before using) (or 2 normal eggs)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g blueberries (they don’t have to be frozen)

50g sunflower seeds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6 and lay out 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin.

Keeping the blueberries and sunflower seeds aside, put all of the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.

Stir the blueberries into the mixture.

Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases and then sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top of the muffins.

Bake for 30-35 mins or until a skewer poked into the middle of them comes out clean.

Leave to cool slightly before serving with butter (or vegan alternative) and jam.

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Blueberry Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Blueberry Muffins 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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Sweet Potato Brownies (makes 8)

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

My friend Jen, is a doula (who is, in her words, a person who “provides physical, emotional and informational support to families helping them to reduce fear, pain and uncertainty during their birth experience“). Jen runs her own doula business, Your Birth Scotland, and she recently asked me if I’d develop a few recipes that were quick to cook and healthy for women who are either pregnant or have recently given birth and I accepted her challenge.

These sweet potato brownies were created because I was looking to create a recipe for a snack that would contain a decent amount of nutrients and fibre for mums who had recently given birth. Now I’m not going to lie, they didn’t turn out quite as healthy as I’d envisioned because they have quite a bit of sugar in them. However, on the plus side, they ended up being literally the best brownies I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

Sweet potatoes are a really healthy vegetable and, unlike normal white potatoes, they count towards our five-a-day quota because they have lower starch levels than other carbohydrates. They also contain four main micronutrients: vitamin C, which keeps our immune system healthy and aids iron absorption within the body (very important for both pregnant women and women who have recently given birth); thiamin, an essential B-vitamin which supports the nervous system and ensures good heart health; potassium, which normalises blood pressure and along with thiamin takes care of the nervous system; and manganese, which ensures healthy bones and general cell health. I think it’s fairly clear that they’re nutritional powerhouses within the vegetable world!

These sweet potato brownies also contain other ingredients which are high in nutritional density, such as walnuts which are an excellent source of antioxidants as well as omega-3 fat, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid that the body and mind needs to function properly. The brownies also contain chia seeds, a high protein seed which along with providing the body with fibre, also contains omega-3s and a whole host of micronutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, all of which support overall health. The brownies have also got coconut oil in them, a source of healthy fat which helps to remove bad fat from the blood and lower cholesterol and therefore, promotes heart health and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Lastly, the brownies have a healthy whack of antioxidant-rich cocoa and dark chocolate in them, which contain minerals like potassium, iron, zinc and selenium, and has been found in a Finnish study to lower stress in pregnant women while also producing babies who smiled more in comparison with babies born to non-chocolate eating mothers. Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical which encourages the release of feel-good endorphins.

After I baked the brownies and let them cool slightly I started to take my photographs and once that was done I figured it was time to have a taste. And wow! Without overly blowing my own trumpet (but I will because they were outstanding) I was blown away by how good they were. I’m not a fan of most brownies because I hate that undercooked texture of the cake mix that so many of them have, but these didn’t have that. They retained the fudgy element of a brownie that you’d expect, but weren’t thick and claggy. Quite surprising considering they contain sweet potato!

Another bonus to these sweet potato brownies is that they are vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free and you cannot tell at all. The cake base is light, but fudgy, and is speckled with little chunks of walnut and their overall chocolate quota is further enhanced by the addition of dark chocolate chips lying atop the brownies. Sigh… They’re just out of this world!

I’d recently treated myself to a little pack of mini loaf baking boxes and they were perfect for baking the brownies in because they helped them to retain their shape and worked perfectly as individual bakes (as opposed to having to cut them out of a tray). This also meant that they were ideal for slotting into my packed lunch box to take to work.

This sweet potato brownie recipe has most definitely become my new go-to brownie recipe and although they may not be the healthiest pregnancy or postpartum snack, doesn’t every new Mum deserve a little treat once in a while for all her hard work? I certainly know that Jen the doula would think so.

Ingredients:

420g peeled raw sweet potato cut into small cubes (or around 250g cooked weight)

140g sugar

100g self-raising flour (or gluten-free self-raising flour)

50g cocoa powder

100g walnuts (keep 16 walnut halves aside to decorate the brownies)

100g dark chocolate chips

2 chia eggs made from 2 tbsps. of chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsps. of cold water and left for half an hour before using (or 2 eggs, if non-vegan)

1 tsp. baking powder

100g melted coconut oil (or butter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

7 tbsps. of alt-milk (or standard milk, if non-vegan)

Method:

Make the chia seed eggs, if using.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Lay out your mini loaf baking boxes on a baking tray.

Peel your sweet potato and cut into small cubes (about 2cm square). Place in a bowl and cook on high in the microwave (stirring a couple of times) until the sweet potato is soft.

Keeping the decorative walnut halves and dark chocolate chips aside, put all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once the mixture is fully combined, spoon into the mini loaf baking boxes (making sure there’s an equal amount in each) and then top with the walnut halves and sprinkle with dark chocolate chips.

Bake in the oven for 30 mins (or a little less if you prefer your brownies to be gooier).

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before eating.

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

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