how to summon Spring? cacao crepes with banana and blackberry jelly

I’m officially sick and tired of this Spring-called weather. Whoever pulls the strings up there is either mentally unstable or simply mean. This so-called Spring is an error, something is broken in matrix, it’s beginning of May and I’m still wearing my high top sheep wool slippers. And I had to switch on the heating (although having a look on my energy bill should heat me up). 9 degrees Celsius (feels like 6°C) doesn’t call for short sleeves and ditsy floral dresses that are abandoned in my wardrobe for months. Spring – you’re urgently called to be present! I understand that North Scotland is not the hottest place on Earth (either in Spring or Summer), but it’s not Alaska for God’s sake.

That’s why, against all odds lets make a very Summery recipe today. Maybe it will cheer me up while I rest my feet on the radiator.

These fruity crepes are just in time for a weekend breakfast or afternoon tea. We have three flavours here – slightly dry cacao pancakes, sweet banana and slightly sour blackberry jelly. This combination makes the dish not overly sweet. Adults should like it, and kids will surely be delighted with this combination. Especially since we have quite a lot of goodness here – cacao is a source of magnesium and gives happiness, bananas are full of vitamins, minerals and natural fiber, blackberries are full of goodness, all without artificial additives. So basically if you don’t mind carbs – just yummy. It’s a great Spring and Summer meal (if your Spring and Summer is warm) when your body calls for something lighter, juicy and fun.

I give approximate amounts of ingredients for crepes – I always guesstimate the amounts and if I want thinner crepes, I make slightly more liquid batter – it’s easier to spread it on the pan. About 10 pancakes came out of this amount of ingredients. But it all depends on your personal preferences and own way of frying crepes and, of course, the size of the pan.

For making blackberry jelly, apart from fruits, you can either use water or blackberry juice (or other fruit juice). You can also swap blackberries with cherries, blueberries or blackcurrants. Choose the one you like the most or the one that are available for you. You can also use frozen fruits if you don’t have fresh on hand.


cacao crepes with banana and blackberry jelly


NOTE: my cup is 250ml regular glass

INGREDIENTS for crepes batter:

  • about 1½ cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp sugar (or sugar replacement)
  • milk of your choice
  • 3 tsp raw organic cacao
  • clarified butter for frying (or coconut oil)

INGREDIENTS for blackberry jelly:

  • 2 handfuls of blackberries
  • some water (or blackberry juice)
  • about 2 tsp potato starch or corn starch
  • sugar to taste (or sugar replacement)

ADDITIONALLY:

  • couple bananas
  • clarified butter for frying (or coconut oil)

DIRECTIONS

Prepare a traditional pancake batter: whisk together flour, baking powder, egg and milk add enough milk to be able to pour batter and spread it over the pan. Additionally add a little sugar (so that the pancakes are not bitter) and cacao. Mix everything thoroughly so there’s no cocoa lumps in it. I also always add a tablespoon of coconut oil or clarified butter to the batter (it helps crepes not getting sticky to the pan).

Heat the pan adding a tablespoon of clarified butter or coconut oil and pour your first crepe. Usually the firs crepe is always imperfect, so don’t you worry an keep frying. When the crepe pan heat up properly you should be able to get beautiful crepes, without even using any fat. Make rather thin crepes so that when the banana is wrapped in them it’s not going to be too thick. When you make a batch of crepes put them aside and cover with a pan or a plate to keep them warm and soften the edges.

Now it’s time for jelly. Place blackberries in a small saucepan and add a little water – just enough that the fruits are in water but not covered with it. Add sugar to taste and heat it up, let it simmer for a minute. In a small cup, combine potato starch or corn starch and 2-3 tsp of cold water. Pour in the starch and stir quickly, but as gently as possible, so as not to crush the fruits. Simmer until you get jelly-like texture and clear colour. If you feel like it’s not thick enough add a little bit more starch (but always combine it first with a little bit of water, never add straight to the fruits because you’ll get lumps). When you get consistency that you like switch off the heat and let it cool down slightly.

Peel bananas and cut them lengthwise in half. Wrap each half with a crepe. Heat the frying pan adding butter or coconut oil, and fry crepes for a few minutes on both sides, over low heat, so that the banana has time to warm up and soften.

Serve warm, right after frying – crepes are then crispy, and banana is sweet and soft – it melts in your mouth. Decorate crepes with warm or cold blackberry jelly and enjoy 🙂

chocolate chia pudding

Really low carb themed dessert today, not sweet for most of the people, for me sweet enough to be a dessert 🙂 Obviously you can alter this recipe to your liking and needs. Personally I love combination of chocolate (cacao) and raspberries, and warmth of pudding mixed with frozen fruits, that’s melting over it. Add some chocolate on top and you don’t need anything else.

You can use various types of milk to prepare it, I had almond, but I think hazelnut would taste delicious, kind of nutella flavour. If you don’t mind regular cow’s milk, you can use it as well. The same with sweetener. I use xylitol, but if you have other sugar substitutes you like, feel free to add as much as you like.

I also used raw cacao powder, which in my opinion is much less bitter than regular cocoa powder, so you don’t need to add as much sugar or sweetener to balance the bitterness.

From this amounts of ingredients I got two quite large portions, but you can easily make four smaller ones.

Chia seeds are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, and also other nutrients, so if you’d like to balance your intake of Omega-6 fatty acids, chia is a great source. If chia seeds are not available to you, flaxeeds or linseeds are great substitute. Although I feel like soaked linseeds make slightly different consistency, more gel-like, kind of slimy. If you don’t mind (and I know lots of people do) you can use linseed to make this pudding. It’s also full of Omega-3 fatty acids, and one of the best foods that reduces inflammation in your body according to the researchers.

I would recommend eating your pudding when it’s still warm, with piece of dark chocolate melted on top. Sound good, isn’t it? 🙂

chocolate chia pudding

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 500 ml plant milk of your choice (or cow’s milk if you like)
  • 4 tsp raw cacao
  • 8 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp xylitol or other sugar replacement of your choice
  • handful of raspberries (I had frozen)
  • couple bits of dark chocolate

DIRECTIONS

Heat up the milk in a saucepan adding cacao powder and sweetener. Combine using a whisk. When milk heats up add chia seeds and whisk again until it starts to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 3 minutes stirring repeatedly. Switch off the heat and set aside to cool down.

Transfer your chia pudding to smaller bowls or other dishes, place some raspberries on top, and couple bits of dark chocolate. You can either eat it warm or cold. I like it warm with chocolate melting on top.

You can store your chia pudding in the fridge for 2 days.

Enjoy! 🙂

keto chocolate courgette cake

Today’s recipe is actually not something new, but good old keto courgette cake in cacao version. It’s fluffy, chocolatey, moist and stuffed with nuts. There’s nothing better on a rainy day than chocolate cake and book. BTW I have to recommend you Donna Tart’s book “The Goldfinch“. I’m not the best with describing books, so I will quote a description from GoodReads:

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

And that’s exactly what you get reading this book. It sucks you in for long hours. If you like a bit of crime story and a little drama, mixed with story of a very special painting, this book is for you. It’s going to be perfect for long rainy Autumn evenings…especially it has almost 1000 pages 😉

But going back to the cake, it’s based on it’s basic version you can find here. Adding some cacao powder and nuts if you wish, and you get completely different cake. It’s keto, it’s low carb and it’s very easy to make. I’ve only managed to grab last 3 pieces to make a photo, before my partner ate everything.

keto chocolate courgette cake

INGREDIENTS (for 9 inch round baking trey)

NOTE: I use 250 ml glass as my measuring cup.

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup sweetener of your choice (I used xylitol)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 small courgette
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp clarified butter
  • 3 tbsp liquid of choice coconut milk, almond milk etc. (I use almond milk)
  • 5 tsp raw cacao powder (regular will be fine as well)
  • optionally: 2 handfuls of nuts (in my case: walnuts, almonds, cashew, brazil)

DIRECTIONS

First melt the butter and let it to cool down. Grate courgette on small holes and leave it for now, we will come back to it later.

Beat the eggs with handheld mixer. First only eggs, after 2 minutes add sweetener and beat until fluffy. Then add baking powder, baking soda, butter and cacao powder and beat for few seconds so everything combines. Now add coconut flour and 3 tbsp of milk. Stir – you can do it using mixer or with spoon. You can mix eggs and sweetener without using handheld mixer (or other similar tool), you can use fork or whisk to combine all ingredients, but I’ve noticed that if I beat the eggs, cake is more fluffy.

Now it’s time for courgette. Squeeze excess juice and put it to your dough. Again stir thoroughly. This time my dough went quite liquid, but maybe it’s because I had a really big eggs. Came out that cake went very nice and fluffy, so if your dough is not that quite thick as usual, no worries 🙂

As a final step add two handfuls of nuts if you decided to use them, and again give it a good stir.

Grease baking tray (I used silicone one, so there’s no need) and pour the dough. Bake for about 30- 35 minutes in 180°C (or 150°C with fan). Check the cake with toothpick or wooden skewer. If there’s no remains of dough on it, it means it’s ready. Always keep an eye on the oven, because each one is different, and we don’t want any unwanted surprises 😉

After baking keep it in the oven to cool down, just slightly open the door.

Enjoy!

Indian cacao drink #ketofriendly

This recipe comes from my old book about Five Elements Theory of Chinese Cooking, and it’s one of the recipes that supposed to warm and strengthen your body. Also the author recommends this drink to prevent flu and cold so it’s great for the winter time. So if you feel like the cold is coming maybe it will be better remedy than going to a pharmacy.

Important note: author warns that you may experience some of the side effects if your body is not used to large dose of warming agents. So keep it in mind, and if you discover itchy rash on your hands, itchy eyes or red spots on your face or torso, have some water with lemon or cottage cheese. Author also dissuade from this drink if you take hormone pills or antibiotics.

There’s also some other benefits from cayenne pepper. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, is what gives them their medicinal properties. Cayenne pepper can improve your digestion and make your stomach boost defense against infections and injuries. May also relieve the pain of your joints and muscles, it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines use cayenne pepper to help treat circulatory problems. Ofcourse like with every natural methods, to make it work you need to be consistent and systematic. Start with small amount of cayenne, 1/4 of teaspoon, like in the recipe. When your stomach gets used to capsaicin you can start increasing the amount of cayenne. My partner loves spicy food, so he can put one full teaspoon to that cacao and drink it with pleasure.

The other important thing that not many people know, and I didn’t know until I started keto is a difference between cacao and cocoa. Have you ever noticed that there is two of them? They both look pretty much the same but there is a significant difference in taste and nutritional qualities.

Cacao refers to any of the food products derived from the cacao bean that have remained raw. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans, this process retains all the good stuff that cacao beans have. Like antioxidants, flavanoids, minerals: magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese, vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and Pantothenic acid.

Cocoa powder is the ‘raw cacao’ that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Process of roasting kills most of the goodness from the beans. So why do they roast it you would ask? I was thinking the same. Why should they complicate production process, if you can skip one procedure and have better quality product. I did my research and find out that most cocoa beans they use for chocolate making are fermented, but are not roasted yet. Fermented beans are naturally full of bacteria, fungi and molds. But fermentation is essential, being responsible for the development of lots of the chocolatey flavour. So there is some risk of infection from unroasted cocoa beans. If you roast them you will kill all the unhealthy stuff that has grown on them but unfortunately you also kill most of the good ones. There’s also easier to remove the husk from the bean when it’s roasted, and very hot temperature gives the chocolaty flavour (the same like with roasting coffee).

So the next question you would ask – what happens with bacterias and moulds with raw cacao production? How do they hmm…dissappear? As raw beans dry outside naturally, they never reach the same high temperatures. So the producer needs to be sure that the supply chain is fully trustworthy. When the cacao is drying outside, it needs absolutely clean environment, under cover and with controls in place. Additionally, several tests are carried out to check that the bacteria isn’t present. That would explain why raw cacao powder is three times more expensive than the roasted one. Not only because all the process is much longer, but also needs to be more careful and controled. So always be aware to choose good quality cacao from certified companies. According to International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) current policy, is that there should be at least a standardized amount of cut tests conducted. This is a visual inspection of 300 beans per ton to check for quality. The number of beans that are visibly mouldy, slaty, insect damaged, germinated, or flat is recorded.

So the logic conclusion would be, that maybe roasted cocoa is more healthy than it’s raw version. For me personally raw cacao has much better taste. Roasted cocoa tastes bitter and unpleasant. I don’t mind roasted cocoa in chocolate or in cake, I like it’s bitterness in these cases. But in a hot drink or a smoothie I definitely prefer raw cacao, because of it’s taste and nutritional qualities. Than what if my raw cacao is infected with some bacteria? Well I believe that if your body is strong and your stomach full of good microbes it will manage to fight the potential unwelcome guests.

 

Indian cacao drink

INGREDIENTS (for 1 portion):

· 1 headed tsp raw cacao
· 250 ml water
· few drops of vanilla extract or a piece of vanilla pod
· ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS

Put all the ingredients to a small pot, pour hot water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Drink hot and enjoy the sweetness of vanilla and spiciness of cayenne. It will warm you up immediately.