Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ridiculously Healthy & Light Pumpkin Pie with Flaxseed Crust

Today's recipe comes just in time for Thanksgiving! I'll be making our Thanksgiving dinner again this year. And just like last year unfortunately, it will also be away from all my family and friends. Besides them, one of the things I miss most about home is just being able to step out onto my porch and breathe in the autumn air, the smell of pine trees and smokey backyard bonfires wrapping around me like an old, familiar blanket. Every year without fail, as soon as September rolls around I have this strong urge to PUMPKIN ALL THE THINGS. Like Pavlov's dogs, there's something about the crisp fall air that immediately makes me want to ravenously consume pumpkin yummies and drink hot pumpkin spiced lattes. Even though the smell of fall is absent here, my body is still wired to want pumpkin things around this time. And what better way to get my pumpkin fix than in the form of the traditional pumpkin pie? 

I've seen many gluten-free recipes that use nuts for the crust, and while I definitely agree that nut crusts are delicious, they're also very calorie dense. Flaxseeds are a great alternative in my opinion, especially if you are having digestive issues - for constipation, a tablespoon or two of flaxseeds will help that right along! Even though most brands tout the abundance of omega-3s in each serving, it seems the body is not very efficient at converting the non-useable ALA form into the useable forms of EHA and DPA (the level of efficiency seems to be slightly better in women, probably due to higher levels of estrogen). There are other concerns about flaxseed that I've read around the paleosphere as well. Still, I like to use flaxseed in special occasional treats such as this.  If you do use flaxseed, always buy them whole and raw, never ground, and store them in the refrigerator. They go rancid very quickly, so only grind them right before using. 

Many pumpkin pie recipes are also filled with sugar and dairy. The recipe on the back of Libby's pumpkin pie puree uses evaporated Carnation milk in addition to a ridiculous amount of sugar. I'd rather not slip into a diabetic coma, so I decided to come up with my own recipe for pumpkin pie using less sugar but still just as delicious. You can always sprinkle more honey on top if it turns out not sweet enough. In addition, I always taste my mixture and make sure it's to my liking before I pour it into the pan. I ain't scared of no raw eggs.

Pumpkin pie is really just a firm custard in a crust, and the basic recipe for a custard is eggs and milk with some sweetener to taste. I cut up a pumpkin and roasted the pieces, and I was able to save enough of them from going into my mouth to make some pumpkin filling, which ended up being about 200g worth of pumpkin. I made about 5 pies before deciding on the final recipe. Each time I didn't bother to measure anything except for the pumpkin, and every time the pie turned out great. You really can't mess this up!

A dollop of yogurt, cocoa powder and chocolate shavings make it look fancy-schmancy. 


What you'll need

For the crust:
  • 16 Tbsp / 1 cup whole raw flaxseed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp / 15g butter (you can also use a Tbsp of coconut oil)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp honey (can also use 1-2 tsp sugar)
For the pumpkin pie filling:
  • 220g / ~ 1 cup cooked pumpkin pieces, or pumpkin puree. I used roasted pumpkin pieces.
  • 1 large egg
  • 100ml / 1/2 cup canned coconut milk (can also use whole milk)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1-3 Tbsp sugar / honey, depending on how sweet you prefer your pie.
  • Optional: 1 tsp potato starch for a firmer pie filling. I didn't use Libby's pumpkin puree but if you are, I would use the potato starch since I think the canned puree is more liquidy.
  • ~ 1 1/2 Tbsp of your pumpkin pie spice mix. If you don't have it ready made, you can use mine below. Honestly though, I usually don't have any premade nor do I bother measuring - I just throw dashes of spices in here and there and it always comes out delicious!
Pumpkin spice mix:
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 tsp ground cardamom (If you have some. Not necessary, but I love the flavor of cardamom!)
  • 1/4 tsp allspice


  1. Melt the butter and let it cool before whisking it with the egg. 
  2. Grind the flaxseeds, then mix it well with the cinnamon, egg and butter, and sugar / honey if you opt to. 
  3. Press the mixture into a 9" tart pan / quiche pan (I used HIC Porcelain Round Quiche Dish and had quite a bit of the mixture left over, which I later pressed into ramekins and made mini pies!).
  4. Bake at 170 C / 335 F for 8-10 minutes and keep an eye on it, until it is slightly browned and set. Don't overcook it! Let it cool.
  1. This is easy. Throw everything together in your blender (I used my Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth. If you don't want to use your blender and the pumpkin puree is smooth enough, you can whisk everything in by hand. 
  2. Pour the filling into your crust, and bake at 175 C / 350 F for 30-40 minutes until set. The middle should barely jiggle when shaken. If it starts browning on top during baking, place some aluminium foil loosely on top.
  3. Let cool, then serve. I've found that chilling it over night works best, but it tastes yummy when  warm too. 

Nutritional Breakdown
With flax seed crust, canned coconut milk and honey:

Per slice
Whole pie
5.5 g
44 g
6 g
48 g
7 g
56 g

This is also firm enough to make without the crust and eat it as a custard, which I have been doing for the past few weeks! If making it without the crust, the nutritional breakdown is as follows:

Per slice
Whole pie
2.3 g
18.4 g
2 g
16 g
5 g
40 g

Some additional notes:
- For a protein packed pie, replace the sugar with some vanilla whey protein. You might have to add a bit more milk if you do.
- If you add too much potato starch, the custard might end up almost bread-like. I've found that when I use whole pumpkin pieces, the pumpkin has enough starch to hold it together and I never need potato starch.
- You can use a pan / quiche dish larger than 9". If you do and you are afraid that the mixture isn't enough for your pie, you can add up to a cup more of pumpkin puree / pumpkin pieces and a bit more milk without affecting the overall recipe.
- I used a smaller oven, so baking times may vary! Keep an eye on your pie.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Omelette with Smoked Salmon, Sauerkraut, and Beets

 Omelettes are great. They're extremely versatile, and they can make such a filling meal. You can put absolutely anything you want in them, and you can make they savory or sweet. The best part of waking up for me is knowing that I am going to have a delicious omelette to start off my day. Seriously. I dream of omelettes at night, along with Bear Grylls. ;)

I've been making all sorts of different omelettes every single morning for the past year and experimented with all sorts of ways to make them. Omelettes can be very personal - some people like their omelettes with big curds, some with small curds, some runny and some crispy. If you've never ever made an omelette in your life, you can look up some techniques on YouTube. Here is Jamie Oliver's version, and Jacques Pepin's version.

This omelette is super quick and easy. I had some smoked salmon, sauerkraut, and some pickled beets laying around. Just threw them together and added some spices, and it turned out delicious!


What you'll need:

  • Two eggs, whisked (try to use local and true pastured raised ones at your local farmer's market if you can get them)
  • A dab of grass-fed butter (I use Anchor butter. Kerrygold from Trader Joe's is also a good one)
  • Some sauerkraut
  • Smoked salmon
  • Cooked beets, sliced (regular or pickled, depending on your preference)
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Dill
  • Pepper
  • Optional: Swiss / Emmental cheese
  1. Heat up your skillet over medium high heat. Stick your dab of butter in the pan and spread it around, covering the skillet.
  2. Depending on how you like your omelette (the French way or American way, big curds vs small curds, etc), pour your eggs in and make the base for your omelette. 
  3. When your omelette base is halfway set, add your cheese if you choose to on half the omelette, then your sauerkraut and smoked salmon, then the sliced beets, and finally the green onions. Sprinkle some dill and black pepper on to taste. 
  4. Let it cook a few more seconds until the base is set, then carefully fold the other half over. 
  5. Slide the omelette from the skillet onto your plate and enjoy! 

Nutritional Breakdown:
With two eggs, a dab of grass-fed butter, 2oz / 60g of smoked salmon, 1oz / 30g of pickled beets, and a scoop of sauerkraut:

12 g
11 g
7 g

A yummy breakfast or dinner option filled with good fats and protein!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tempeh Pizza Chips

A lot of people think that tofu is some sort of "miracle" food, at least that seems to be the consensus among vegetarians. They say it's a good source of protein, has lots of minerals, takes on the flavor of whatever you're cooking. While it may be a good source of protein, tofu / soy also has high levels of phytates which chelates certain minerals and prevents your body from absorbing them. All those minerals in tofu? They're bound up in phytic acid and are pretty much useless inside your body. It's not just tofu that you may want to think about. In addition to faux meat products like Tofurky, tofu hot dogs, and tofu bacon (fake bacon?! No, no, NO!), there's soybean oil, soy milk, and soy nuts to consider.

Of course, if you eat tofu occasionally or even once or twice a week, I highly doubt you'll come down with a mineral deficiency, man boobs, or an enlarged thyroid. It's also been shown that eating tofu with meat reduces the phyates' effects. The problem comes when we over-consume soy in the form of over-processed tofu, Tofurky, Boca burgers, sugary soy milk, soy protein powder, and soy cheese. And that's easy to do, especially if you're a vegetarian living in America and you have meatless sausage links for breakfast, down it with a glass of soy milk, have a soy protein smoothie for lunch, and for dinner eat your soy burger with soy cheese and have soy ice cream for dessert.

Tofu also isn't going to be healthy if you are cooking it in bad oils like vegetable, soybean, or corn oil and you use sugary sauces like hoisin or oyster sauce. And obviously deep fried tofu won't do you any favors. If you do like to cook tofu, try lightly frying it in olive oil, grass-fed butter, or even coconut oil. Or bake it with your choice of veggies. I personally don't make an attempt to include tofu in my diet and I don't ever drink soy milk. I stick to eggs, grass-fed ruminants, chicken, and fish as my main source of protein.I would hunt my own deer and cow if I could.

Fermented forms of soy like miso are best, because fermenting them gets rid of some of the problems you encounter in their non-fermented counterparts. Speaking of fermented soy, tempeh is the focus of my recipe and blog post today (finally!).

If you've never had tempeh, you have to try it at least once. The taste and flavor is hard to describe, but it's very unique. It has a meaty and hearty texture, very different from tofu. I found tempeh here, and at first I baked it. It turned out okay. Not really a big fan of the taste. I did like the almost crispy texture of the outside part when I baked it, though. So I decided to cut the tempeh into thinner slices and throw some spices on them before baking, hoping for crispy chips. That worked pretty well! Then, I got a pizza craving. I threw some tomato sauce on the tempeh, some herbs and onions and cheese, popped that baby in the oven, and was able to satisfy my craving for pizza without resorting to gluten and grains.

You can find tempeh at most Indonesian grocery stores. I got mine from the Indonesian store here in the city. I've heard that Whole Foods and Trader Joe's has tempeh. However, the Trader Joe's version is made of barley, millet, rice and soybeans and should be avoided if you are eating paleo.


What you'll need: 

  • Tempeh
  • Pizza / tomato sauce (flavor it with whatever you want!)
  • Thinly sliced baby button mushrooms
  • Thin red onion slices
  • Cheese (I used grated Parmesan on mine but you can do any type of cheese, even hard cheeses). Omit if you don't include dairy in your diet. 


  1. Preheat oven to 180C / 350F. 
  2. Cut your tempeh into thin slices about 1/4 inch thick. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and place your tempeh slices on. 
  3. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until they feel slightly crispy and lightly browned. 
  4. Take them out, spread some pizza / tomato sauce on the slices. Place your mushrooms and your onion slices on, top with cheese if you are using cheese, and sprinkle your choice of spices on top. I used oregano and black pepper.
  5. Pop them back into the oven for about 10 more minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the mushrooms are cooked. 
  6. Take them out, let them cool for a few minutes before enjoying!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mini Food Adventures

There aren't any recipes in this post, but I wanted to share with you some (old?) photos I found on my phone from when I was visiting home in the US back in May / June.

Ordering a burger at Five Guys. Apparently they didn't understand why I wanted extra lettuce on the side, seeing as they gave me shredded lettuce when I asked for extra lettuce. No matter, there's nothing I like better than tearing into a piece of meat with my own bare hands without silly lettuce getting in the way.

One of my good friends. Isn't she so pretty? We were at Egyptian Pizza, but we ordered their yummy lamb schwarma salad. I  converted her to eating paleo and she's doing fabulously with it. Her body is bangin'! She is also my motivation - we've agreed to tell each other when we've cheated, which makes me less apt to cheat if I have to hold myself accountable. Of course, frozen yogurt doesn't count. Speaking of which ... 

I think I might be addicted to frozen yogurt.

Yes, this is a compilation of a few of the times I went out to   eat froyo with my friends / sister. There were a couple days where I went twice a day (okay, maybe more than a couple), and there were lots of times when I didn't have my camera with me. I'm sure I single-handedly kept the local froyo shops afloat when I was back home. They're probably all scratching their heads and wondering why there was a sudden decrease in profits when I left in June. Help me. I have a problem. 

My sister, glassblowing. A couple friends and I went to watch her do her thang. It was pretty awesome watching everyone make glasses and bowls out of powdered glass, especially when they add the color. And it was hot (literally and figuratively)Here's the link to the studio, in case you live near the Baltimore area. They also have a bar / restaurant next door. It's a super dive bar, atmosphere is very typical of the area, but their burgers are huge and juicy.

Mini cupcakes I made for a dinner with my in-laws. No, these are not paleo. The banana trifle that I made that night however, was. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the trifle, but the recipe for that will come in the near future, I promise. I made these using my sister's leftover cupcake mix she was using (just white cake mix from a box with blue food coloring). Since I didn't have any frosting I decided to melt some green chocolate chips in a bowl and dip the naked cupcake in, coating the top. Before it set, I sprinkled some cocoa pearls I got from Trader Joe's.

Okay, this strawberry cheesecake here is my favorite. Made this on the spur of the moment for the hubby for his birthday. I don't have a recipe for this since I didn't follow one, I just threw stuff together using the basic knowledge I already had in my head of baking regular cheesecakes in hopes that it would turn out. Which it did. I used Stevia and a bit of honey instead of sugar, and I used full fat Greek yogurt and 4% fat cottage cheese (all from TJs) instead of cream cheese. It turned out absolutely divine. For the top, I whipped some more yogurt with TJ's lemon curd and spread it on top. 

Saved the best for last! This is a zombie cake I made for one of my best friends for her birthday. I baked a red velvet cake in a circle pan, and used pink and green frosting (I used food coloring to color the buttercream frosting I made) for the inside and the frosting of the brain and skin. I couldn't find a gel red or black enough to color my frosting red, so I bought Wilton's pre-made red and black icing and used that for the blood and the brain and facial features. It was fun to make and she got a kick out of it. 

Here she is with the cake! I love her and miss her dearly.

I have so many new dishes that I've been making every week but I usually make them for dinner at night, which isn't the ideal environment for taking photos since I like taking photos in natural light. I do have a few good ones though, which I will post very soon! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Basic & Easy Chocolate Truffles with Goat Cheese (Make them latte, banana-rum, cinnamon, or just plain flavored!)

So I'm back from my 3 month vacation to the US, hence the long hiatus in my blog. While back, I discovered The Fresh Market had opened up right in my town, across from Trader Joe's. The Fresh Market has officially replaced TJ's as my favorite grocery store (although TJ's is still a close second! And I just love the people who work there!). I also went to the beach a couple times, laid out for hours and got a tan that will last me for the rest of the year. On my last night there, my besties and sister gorged ourselves silly on crabs. Can't leave Baltimore without picking crabs smothered in Old Bay! Anyway, it felt so great to be back home with friends and family, but now I'm back and ready to share some more recipes!

These truffles are something I've been making for awhile now. I've seen a lot of recipes out there for raw brownies / truffles using dates as the sweetener, but most of them use a good bit of ground nuts, or melted chocolate, or heavy cream. Which is great, there's nothing wrong with using those ingredients. However, I try not to consume too many nuts for the sake of my omega 6:3 ratios. And sometimes (okay, most of the time) I just don't feel like setting up a double boiler to melt some chocolate. Also if I'm going to eat dark chocolate, I like to slowly savor a piece of 99%+ in my mouth, letting it melt as I bask in hedonistic joy, and then wash it down with a glass of red wine.

I got the idea of using goat cheese with these truffles while looking for recipes using dried dates, since we had bought a whole bag of them. Saw some recipes for some goat cheese stuffed dates, and I figured goat cheese and dates were a good match. I wondered if I could incorporate goat cheese and dates in a raw truffle. Tried it out, and I was right! The truffles are pretty primal / paleo friendly, unless you aren't eating goat cheese. Here's Mark's stance on cheese. I allow myself some goat cheese from time to time. Dates are a high fructose food and high in sugar though (as most dried fruits are), so if you are in the middle of leaning out and trying to lose body fat, don't overdose on these!

This recipe is pretty simple, you can't really mess it up. But it tastes like a bona fide gourmet truffle. The goat cheese is what really gives it its depth of flavor and richness. You can't really taste the goat cheese, but you can taste hints of the distinctive tartness that goat cheese has. It melds together so wonderfully with the cocoa. The first time I made these, I just threw some chopped up dates in my magic bullet, eyeballed about a tablespoon of goat cheese, and kept throwing some cocoa powder in there until it had the consistency I was looking for. And really, I never measure anything out when I make these. I just add stuff here and there until it's just right. So for the recipe below, you can measure everything out to the exact tablespoon, or you can just eyeball it and add more of this and that until it's perfect. I like keeping my recipes nice and simple.

The recipe below is more like a base for the truffles. I've added different things and made many different variations of these, and all have turned out fantastic.


What you'll need:

  • Magic Bullet or food processor (I used my Magic Bullet)
  • ~ 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more in a little bowl for dusting
  • ~1-2 Tbsp Goat cheese
  • Dried medjool dates (about 13-14, coarsely chopped)
  • Optional: Chopped nuts (I used macadamia nuts) in a little bowl to cover the truffles
  • A little bit of cream, yogurt, or milk to soften up the paste if need be

  1. Place the dates, about 1 Tbsp of goat cheese, and half of the 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in your Magic Bullet / food processor. Pulse until a ball forms, or until it comes together and most of the dates aren't into chunks anymore. The consistency should be kind of mushy, but not too overly wet that you can't shape it into a small ball. If it's too sticky / wet, add more cocoa powder and pulse again until it's the right consistency. If it's too dry, add a tiny bit of cream / yogurt / milk. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides.
  2. Wet your hands, and depending on how big you want your truffles, take about 1/2 a Tbsp or 1 Tbsp of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Drop it in the small bowl of cocoa powder and shake the bowl around until the truffle is covered in the cocoa powder. You can also cover it in the chopped nuts instead. 
  3. Take the truffle out, and place on a plate or on wax paper. Repeat until you use up all the mixture. 
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours until set.

There are so many different variations of these truffles that you can make. 
  • For a latte-esque truffle, add a bit of instant coffee powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon and ground cardamon.
  • Feeling in the mood for s'mores? Add some marshmallows to the mixture when you are pulsing, and roll the truffles around in crushed graham crackers. And how about Oreos? Rolling them around in crushed Oreos may be non-paleo, but definitely tasty. 
  • For a fancy adult treat, add a bit of mashed banana, dark rum, and roll the truffle around in flaked coconut.
The possibilities are endless. What truffles will you make?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spaghetti-esque Shirataki Noodles

Sorry it's been a whole month since my last post! The husband came down with the flu which left him bedridden for a week, and I've been busy running around the city and preparing for my trip next week.

I discovered Shirataki noodles here, which are a completely carb-free alternative to your regular pasta noodles. They are derived from the konjac yam, and konjac jelly is pretty popular in Asia. It's used to make noodles, of course, as well a jelly desserts. Konjac has also been found to improve glycemic control and lipid profiles by delaying the absorption of glucose, which may make it useful in treating people with insulin resistance and high-risk diabetics (abstracts here and here).  Both the noodle and jelly forms are virtually calorie-free and composed of glucomannan, and after absorbing water it expands up to 200x its original volume in the stomach, leaving you feeling full. So you can imagine that it's a pretty popular diet food here. Of course, knowing this, when I eat shirataki noodles I make sure I get enough nutrients by adding more veggies and protein to my meals.

Preparing them can be tricky. I did some research prior to purchasing them but there weren't many recipes out there, and the recipes I did find were all asian-based. It seemed a major issue that most people had with them was the smell. The noodles do smell a bit ... fishy. However, I experimented with various ways of preparing them and I found the best way to make them, which I'll share with you below! Texture was also another issue. The noodles definitely don't have the texture of wheat pasta. I would probably describe it more like the texture of rice noodles, the kind my parents use in some Vietnamese noodle dishes. If you've never tried shirataki noodles before, I advise you to try the thin, angel-hair noodles first before the bigger noodles.

This recipe takes a bit more time and effort, but it's totally worth it. I usually make a huge batch and keep them as leftovers for the next few days. In order for the noodles to completely soak in the flavors, it's best to make this the day before you want to eat these, and then heat them up in the oven (for a crispy texture!), fry them on a pan, or microwave the next day.

The only calories you'll be getting from this meal depends on how much beef you use and your pasta sauce, so make sure you also complement your meal with a decent sized portion of veggies on the side!


What you'll need:
(Serves 3-4, can easily be doubled or tripled)

For the meat sauce (you can use your own recipe or you can use mine below):
  • 1 can of pasta sauce, any brand or make your own tomato sauce to make sure it's completely gluten-free
  • Some lean, grass-fed ground beef (Use as much as you want, depending on how much beef you like. I used a little less than one lb.)
  • Butter / olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • A handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • Some ground black pepper to taste
For the noodles:
  • 1 1/2 packets of thin, angel hair shirataki noodles (or use 2 packets, you can always add another half can of pasta sauce if you need to).
Kitchen utensils:
  • 2 large, nonstick pans
  • 1 colander
  • Spatula / wooden spoon


To prepare the noodles:
  1. Drain the noodles in a colander and place over running water for a few minutes to rinse. Cut the noodles into thirds, and then place in a pot filled with water.
  2. Heat up the noodles and water, and bring up to a boil. Boil the noodles for about 5 minutes, then drain again. This is to get rid of the smell that most shirataki noodles come with.
  3. Now you want to dry the noodles completely, so the noodles can soak up the sauce. (I like an almost crunchy taste to the noodles, so I personally dry-fry them for awhile to get rid of that chewy texture and make it thinner. Some people absolutely hate the texture of these noodles, so dry-frying them until they're almost crispy helps a little.). Throw the noodles in a large nonstick pan (don't add any olive oil / butter, you want the pan completely dry), and turn the heat up to med-high. Mix the noodles constantly with a spatula / wooden spoon. You'll hear the noodles squeak as they dry. This will probably take you around 5-10 minutes. Make sure all the moisture is out, and then turn off the heat and leave them in the skillet as you prepare your meat sauce.
Meat sauce:
  1. Heat up some butter or olive oil in another large nonstick pan. Add the ground beef, and break it up into little pieces with your spatula / spoon, and then fry on the pan over med heat until well browned and even crispy. Depending on how much beef you use, this might take 10-15 minutes. That's the key to getting the flavor in this meat sauce, I swear. I always cook it until the little bits are a deep dark brown and crispy.
  2. After the meat is nice and browned, add in the onions and garlic. Stir and cook for a few more minutes, until the onions and garlic carmelize nicely.
  3. Add in the pasta sauce, and adjust heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  4. Add in the oregano, black pepper, and basil. Stir well, and simmer for another couple minutes.
Combining the meat sauce and noodles:
  1. Pour the dried noodles into the pan with the meat sauce, and heat on med heat for a few minutes. If you're using two packets and you feel like you need more sauce, then by all means throw in some more tomato / pasta sauce!
  2. Turn off the heat, transfer the noodles in the meat sauce into a large heat-proof container. Let it cool down completely, and then refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. You could skip this step and just eat it as soon as you're done cooking, but I've found that the flavors incorporate better into the noodles when I refrigerate it first.
  3. When you're ready to eat, reheat in the microwave, stovetop, or oven and serve with some grated Parmesan on top. Since I don't have a microwave, I always bake it in the oven at 375F for about 15 minutes. Baking it in the oven gives it a nice crispy texture on top, which I love!

The texture of the noodles may not be for everyone, but I find that cooking it this way with the shirataki gives a little twist to the old school spaghetti that most of us are used to, especially when you bake it in the oven the next day! This dish is positively yummy. It might take a bit more effort than making regular pasta, but it's totally worth it if you're watching your caloric / carb intake but still want a tasty meal. I missed eating spaghetti a lot, but now I can have it anytime I want without having to worry about the carbs!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Simple Flour-less Protein Chocolate Banana Cake - No Gluten, Sugar, or Butter!

This cake is my new favorite obsession. It's sooooo freaking good, and takes care of those days when I crave cake. When I got the idea to make this, I literally shouted "Eureka!" (but in my mind). Pure laziness prompted me to think of this cake. I was tired of cleaning my frying pan and spatula every time I made crepes, so I wondered to myself whether I could bake the same batter I use to make my crepes. Parchment paper-lined pans are way easier to clean up. And lo and behold, by tweaking the proportions a bit and adding / omitting a few ingredients here and there, it worked.

My cake uses no flours (not even almond or coconut flour!), no sugar, and no butter. The only carbs you'll get from this is from the banana. It's also super versatile. I make this every day, and I've experimented with many different spices. Scroll down below for a list of ideas that I've tried and liked! I love making this with cardamom the best, though.

This cake won't have the consistency of a regular cake. It's more moist inside. Depending on how big and ripe your banana is, your texture might vary. Also, if you use more whey protein / cocoa powder, it will be less moist. I used to eat it warm and straight from the oven, but because it started to remind me of a tiramisu (but not as wet) I got the idea to make a mascarpone filling and chill the cake. Best idea ever.

Just for funsies, I calculated the caloric content. One egg (70 cal), one banana (~70-100 cal), and one scoop of whey protein (~140 cal) = 310 calories for the entire cake, rounded up. Sweet (literally).


Makes 2-3 servings, or 1 if you have fat kid days like me.

What you'll need:
For the cake:
  • One ripe banana
  • One egg
  • ~ 1 scoop of chocolate or vanilla whey protein (I used chocolate. I've used 1/2 a scoop for wetter, moister cakes and 1 scoop for a less moist cake)
  • ~ 1-2 Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetned
  • ~ 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom pods, with the seeds crushed
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Optional: some chopped nuts (I've used macadamia nuts, almonds, and walnuts - they're all great)
For the filling (optional):
  • 1 spoonful of Greek yogurt 
  • 1 spoonful of mascarpone cheese  (or you can omit the mascarpone and use all Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder

For the cake: 
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C if you're using a metal pan, 325 F / 160 C if you're using a glass pan like I did. I used the 10x4 MIXTUR dish by IKEA. Line your pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mash up your banana really well in a bowl. Then mix the cardamom seeds and nuts (if you want) in.
  3. Whip the egg in a separate bowl, then use a fork to mix the egg into the bowl with the mashed banana until combined. 
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the whey protein, baking soda, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Mix well.
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just mixed well. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake in the middle rack for about 30-40 minutes, or until your toothpick test comes out clean. Meanwhile, prepare your filling if you want.
  7. When your cake is done, turn off the oven and open the door, and let the cake chill there for a minute. Then, take it out from its parchment paper home and set it to cool on a rack. You can either eat it plain, or read on if you want to do the filling. 
  8. When it's sufficiently cool (about 15 minutes), cut it into 2 or 3 pieces, then cut each piece in half lengthwise with a knife, and spread your mascarpone / yogurt mixture on the bottom half. Put the top half back on, and chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat. When I make this for other people, I like to sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make it look purdy. 
For the filling:
  1. This is easy. Combine the mascarpone, Greek yogurt, and instant coffee together in a small bowl, and whip with a fork until the consistency is to your liking. You can add more yogurt or mascarpone if you want. Or leave out the mascarpone and just use the Greek yogurt with the coffee! 
  2. Spread on your cake. 
Some variations that I've made of this cake that have worked out well:
  • Cut up an Earl Grey tea bag and mix in about 1/2 Tbsp dried tea leaves in the batter. I love Earl Grey, and it tastes great with the cake and spices. 
  • I've made this using 1 Tbsp of matcha too, and it turned out pretty good.
  • Use pumpkin spice instead of the cardamom. 
  • For an extra kick in the mornings, add some instant coffee powder in the batter.
  • Cut up an extra banana into slices and top the batter with them before you put it in the oven. Or use any other fruit you wish.
  • Put some dessicated coconut in the batter and / or sprinkle some sesame seeds on top before you bake.
  • When I use only 1/2 a scoop of whey protein, I up the cocoa powder to about 2-3 Tbsp.
  • Sometimes after cutting the cake in half lengthwise, I'll cut both halves into smaller pieces (to make about 24 pieces total), and re-bake in the oven on the rack at 200C for 5-10 minutes for deliciously crispy edges but a soft, warm, and chocolaty interior. Like mini cookies! This is probably my favorite thing to do with this cake. A small toaster oven is great for this, and the toasted cake tastes awesome with a glass of milk.
This was the cake I made for James on Valentine's Day.
Nutritional Breakdown
With one egg, one medium sized 105g banana, and 1 full scoop of whey protein:

34 g
11 g
31 g

The banana contributes to the relatively higher carb content. Also, the ripeness of the banana will also impact your cake somewhat. A riper, mushier banana will result in a sweeter and slightly moister cake. You can keep the sweetness and add in some mashed sweet potato if you find the cake is too moist. A less ripe, starchier banana will result in a less sweet cake but perhaps not as moist.

Other notes:
  • I used a glass pan and baked it in a small oven. Around 165 - 175C is what worked for me. Depending on the type of pan you use and your oven, you may have to adjust your temperature. 
  • Again, like my Chai Banana Oat Cookies, depending on how big the banana you're using is, you might end up with a moister cake than you like. If that's the case, just slice it in half lengthwise and pop it back into the oven for about 5-10 more minutes, and it will be perfect. You can also add in some mashed sweet potato. Or use more protein / cocoa powder next time. I actually like these cakes to be more moist if I'm going to put mascarpone / yogurt in the middle and chill in the fridge, they have a wonderful texture to them after chilling.