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Is a tasty low carb bread possible?

27 Jan

When I first started this way of eating I remember sourcing a low carb ‘bread’ recipe from the internet. “You SEE” I remember shouting to my boyfriend as I raced to the kitchen, “you don’t have to give ANYTHING up for this diet! There are SUBSTITUTES!!!!”.  The recipe called for all kinds of things, ground almonds, about a million eggs and even garlic – and me? I was in a dream land of freshly baked loaves and serving sandwiches lovingly made by my own fair hands to my friends – “Oh this? Yes! Its Low Carb! I know, you can’t even tell!”…  Well as I’m sure you’ve guessed the results of that particular experiment were not a success and  learnt a hard lesson about falling for the hype and about being realistic about the limitations (and opportunities) of this way of eating.  While still woefully remembering this experience, this recipe for Flax Bread from About caught my eye.  Could there actually be a tasty low carb bread?  I didn’t think so until making some this weekend following a desire to use some of my ingredients from my visit to the health food shop.

I did fall somewhat at the first hurdle (tip – if you are looking for the milled version of flaxseed, possibly best to ask for it – or not buy one in a box as I did, to later get it home and find it is whole!). Anyway, a (good) few blitzes in the food processor sorted this out and I was ready to go.  As I said, I used the About recipe, which I amended slightly as below, but you may find it easier to watch their – very good – video, either on the VodPod section on the bottom left of this blog where I’ve included it, or here.

Please note the below has been amended and commented on by me, I also took the American cup measurements from the About recipe and approximated them – so no hard numbers here! If you need these, check out the video, or have a go without measuring – it is surprisingly liberating! And frankly this recipe is so quick and easy to do that even if the first attempt goes wrong it’s no problem…

FLAX SEED BREAD

  • Flax seed (milled if you’re sensible, but have since heard it doesn’t keep as well) – I used about a third of the box you can see in this picture.
  • Salt – couple of pinches of
  • 4 Eggs (beaten) – recipe called for five, I used four just because that’s all I had and it worked fine.
  • Olive Oil – I used three tablespoons, but you could adjust to taste I’m sure
  • Baking Powder – I used a couple of tablespoons, but admittedly it didn’t rise dramatically, perhaps it could use more? Experiment!
  • Tablespoon water
  • (Recipe also called for sweetener, but I hate the idea of it in bread – but your call to include as per your taste!)

Method:

Pour flax-seed into food processor and blitz until fine, mix in the rest of the dry ingredients (salt, baking powder)

Blitz with mixer.

Add in oil and beaten egg mixture.

Blitz with mixer.

Add in water (use in incremental tiny amounts, you don’t want this getting too gloopy) and by adding these after I find you stay in control.

By the end, your mixture should be looking like this:

Take out mixture and add onto a lined or greased pan. Now the About recipe says to flatten it out on a baking sheet, which I did – but was surprised it did not rise more.  If I tried again, I would either make a bit bigger or shape into rolls I think (they would be fairly heavy though, so don’t make them too big). Your mixture should be doughy and such that you can take it and shape it without being too sticky.

Pop into the oven at approx 200c for about 20 mins.   This is mine when it came out (my oven was uncooperative and did not seem to like cooking on top, but you get the idea – yours would hopefully be browned on top!):

Voila – enjoy!

Why did I not know about this sooner!!  OK so let’s be clear and manage expectations, this is not going to taste like a farmhouse loaf, so no reason to pretend otherwise, but I would liken it to Soda Bread – which I am particularly fond of anyway.  After munching through in amazement, one slice really fills you up and gets rid of any bread cravings!  I thought it was especially good toasted with Marmite or on its own with cream cheese and can’t wait to try it with soup – what are your experiences with flax bread?

Use your loaf and make this yummy low carb bread if the cravings hit!

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Low carb trip to the health food shop…

24 Jan

For a treat (how much of a geek am I) I went to the health food shop this weekend.  It actually does feel like a treat though, because Earth Natural Foods in Kentish Town is like a palace to foods you read about in low carb recipes, but are impossible to find in everyday supermarkets – the only challenge is getting some great recipes to use them all up (and prove my investment worthwhile!).  All the staff and customers in there are all serene and zen and even going in there has a harmonising effect.  People in Kentish Town proudly bear their woven recyclable bags around the area with pride, like a badge of health and clean living.  Despite the fact I would actually quite love to buy and own one, I never get round to it, because in doing so you have to admit to the lovely and earnest till staff (and worse the queue) that you HAVEN’T BROUGHT YOUR OWN RECYCLABLE BAGS. I asked for a carrier bag the first time I went in there and never have since – draw your own conclusions!

Anyway, despite only going in for some herbal tea, I came out with these (and actually forgot the tea in my haste):

Low carb health food shop haul...

The sweetener I am investigating because I have come to the conclusion I can no longer do Splenda! I’m not normally a sweet toothed person, but have experimented with it in baking and have come to  dread the aftertaste.  So in the absence of being able to buy Stevia, this is the one I have selected from what was available.  The Soya Flour and Flaxseed I have been hearing about since I started on this diet and I want to see what all the fuss is about – right, am off to find some recipes to use them!  Any ideas most welcome….

Top 10 low carb cooking tools and gadgets

19 Jan

We all know (or at least I do), that low carb eating can be a faff.  Being prepared is almost a mantra for this way of eating –  and when you have done a lot of cooking or preparation starting the week then you do feel very smug and ability to stay on track is much better – but sometimes? Life gets in the way!

I am – by my own admission – a gadget fiend for all types, especially electronic, always on the look out for the next thing that’s going to make my life easier, do something faster or generally just look cool.  And cooking is no different, especially when it comes to low carb cooking – anything that makes it easier/faster/better is great because it helps you stay on the low carb path.  So here are products at the front of my mind or cupboard – what are yours?

1) Courgette Splicer – I have mentioned this in previous posts, but it is brilliant – you must must must buy one if you haven’t because it creates a great way to eat courgettes, creates substitutes for pasta or noodles, and even impresses dinner guests who have only ever seen courgette cooked a couple of ways.   Definitely a winner.

2)  Flask – Yes, it does make you feel like you are back in a past family picnic – however, it is a brilliant tool for the low carb office lunch.  As past posts show I am rather partial to soup from the local sandwich eaterie (completely admit convenience and laziness make this an ever appealing option).  BUT, if you can make your own soups (totally easy, will post more soon on this) and can spare a mere two mins in the morning to heat up… with the addition of a flask (which doesn’t have to be the best or most expensive version!), you can have hot soup for lunch without the need to queue for the microwave at lunch and be the envy of the office.

3) Food Grill – As a result of some vouchers my very clever other half won as a result of doing well at work, we recently purchased a ‘health grill’ – (and after much debate, one with cleanable trays, which has proved valuable!).  Think I’m coming very late to the party with this, but I’m loving it.  Not so much for the fat reducing aspect as on low carb that’s not so much a problem, but because it provides a really quick and easy way to cook the low carb staple of meat well – especially sausages which I always seem to have a problem with!

4)  Food Processor – OK, I love love love my food processor.  Ours is possibly one of the cheapest on the market, but I use it constantly (and its been going for a long while!).  Especially good for our old friend the cauliflower. Cauliflower mash? Never going to taste as good as when its been blended by the food processor.  Cauliflower pizza? Complete nightmare to grate cauliflower by hand, but with the grating attachment, you can get everything sorted easily – and even better quickly – important when you are replicating fast food!

5)  Steamer Bags – Not really a tool or gadget as such, but these are so brilliant and the biggest bargain ever. I brought ten at Poundland for (as the name suggests!) a pound, in a slightly scary pre Christmas experience in Poundland Camden Town.  Just pop them in the microwave with some chopped veg for a couple of mins and you’re ready to go.  I have even since found that you can wash them out after use! All the benefits of low cost and convenience, with the added benefit of no cauliflower smell in your living space – buy them. If only for the last reason (and to reduce moaning of your OH). Those versions are clearly a bargain, but think you can also get upper class zipped versions at outlets such as Lakeland should you prefer to spend more!

6) Silicon Cake Tray – I was anti this at first.  I mean, what does a rubberised cake tray have to offer in a world of lovely looking kitchen equipment? How wrong I was.  Whatever you are making, after cooking, you can simply tip the recipe out of the tray – and crucially without the need for greasing them and adding more time to your recipe – ready to cool and eat. There are lots of good cake recipes for the typical sweet need for this equipment, but it also great for low carb breakfast muffins, using it for portions of low carb Quiche… the list goes on!  Have added some versions of these on my online shop – but you can get some great value (but not as sturdy!) versions, again from Poundland.  I use one of each type!

7) Hand Blender – As have said previously soups are a great asset for low carb eating. Again, we have the cheapest version, and it works just fine! Am aware that you can definitely use your food processor/blender to help with this very easily.  However, the hand bender is a brilliant asset for helping with the final stages of soup.  Just plug it in, blend, then a quick wash of the blade means there’s not even much washing up to contend with. It is not always the easiest to transfer soup to different receptacles for blending, so bringing the blender to the soup is a brilliant time – and stress! – saver.)

8 ) Shake mixer – I have no time in the mornings – or maybe what is more true is that I prioritise sleeping in my morning routine and with the time spent getting ready for your day ahead, you are left with precious little time for prepping a low carb day! Before this diet I thought protein shakes were the domain of muscley weight lifters, but I digress and feel the need to tell you more soon, but if you are in the market for taking a protein shake to work in lieu of your otherwise regular coffee, its brilliant. With the mixer ball inside to shake the drink all the way to work in your bag, simply add a scoop of protein shake, some ice cubes and some soy milk and breakfast is served – at your desk!

9)  Netbook – OK, stay with me on this one! The internet (as hopefully this blog proves) can provide a lucrative, much needed, source for low carb recipes. In fact, recent research shows that consumers in the UK are now turning more towards the internet as a source of recipe inspiration than cookery books. Yes, of course you can print these out, or commit them to memory, but I love taking my little (or littler than a laptop) netbook into the kitchen to sit away from the prep as a reassurance am following the recipes to plan.  With Nigella et al now providing videocasts of recipes and ipads, smart phones and ever more amazing technology more accessible, I think this type of cooking is only going to become more popular.

10) Cheese Grater – Yes.  Cheese is a massive staple of the low carb lifestyle and many low carb recipes demand a lot of it.  I have got – more than one! – ‘normal’ cheese graters to do the deed, but they can be troublesome… and messy.  Which is why having one which contains all the cheese in a box attached is great.. especially when you plan to use a certain amount – less is more!

Easiest low carb coconut macaroon recipe – ever!

27 Jun

I, am what you would call a ‘savoury person’.  While my other half craves all the sugar and sweet things there are available, I match him point for point in savoury salty alternatives.  However, as long term followers of this way of eating may agree, even those with the least tendancies towards being sweet toothed can break after the months roll by with continual denial of all things sugary.  Like the age old adage goes, the more you deny yourself something, the more you want it.

And so I found myself today, battling the urge to make a cake (for my boyfriend you understand.. if I happened to ‘taste’ some of the mixture along route, than that surely wouldn’t count?) – hmmm.  Anyway, in the nick of time I discovered this coconut macaroon recipe via pig2twig.  I amended it slightly because, lover of salt though I am, I have been burned before by persuading myself I will like a salty version of a cake and am being good to exclude the sweet element, only to experience crushing disspointment on tasting the final product, rather akin to how my four year old self felt when tasting food creations made out of play dough to find they are not the real thing : )

Anyway, these are great and alongside the salt I finished off by adding a TINY SPRINKLING of splenda on top of each biscuit pre-cooking.  I am not a fan of the splenda after taste, but a tiny bit here provides none of that, sets it off just nicely and provides the sugar hit you’re looking for.

I've gotta lurverly bunch of coconut (macaroons)

You will need:

  • One (large ) egg – separated to get the white only
  • Desiccated coconut (approx two handfuls)
  • Pinch of salt
  • TINY amount of Splenda

Method:

In a clean dry bowl, whisk egg white and salt until stiff peaks have formed

Gradually add in desiccated coconut until you have a mixture with  a thick consistency you can mould

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and fashion 5-6 rounds

sprinkle the tiny amount of Splenda on each

Bake at 200 degrees C for approx 10 mins

Enjoy!

These are relatively guilt free and are not so moreish you can’t stop at just one.  However, my mind has already started wandering to reflect on how these would also be good with some (70% cocoa or higher!) chocolate drizzled on top too… yum.

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