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Parmesan seeded biscuits

Who says you can’t eat biscuits when you’re off sugar, eh? You just need to go for tasty savoury options like cheese or seeds…

This recipe is for my Mum. She has always really liked cheesy oatcakes and moreish biscuit type things. Of course, they are a great sugar-friendly alternative snack to a chocolate digestive or hobnob. I also just think they’re nice if you fancy baking. I decided to cook these for her when she came to visit a few weeks ago as I knew she would particularly appreciate them.

These parmesan seeded biscuits are pretty simple but you do ideally need a food processor. You might even want to serve them with some extra cheese after a meal or just keep some to hand as an emergency snack. You can probably use buckwheat flour if you wanted a gluten-free variety.

Parmesan seeded biscuits

Makes 18 thickish round biscuits

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Ingredients

  • 250g rye flour (you could probably substitute most other flours in here)
  • 100g cold butter, chopped
  • 50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbls milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbls of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds (or whichever you have around)

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Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flour, butter, parmesan cheese, baking powder and salt into a food processor and blend together.
  • Add the milk (with the motor still running) and blend again for a minute or two until the mixture starts to stick.
  • Tip into a large bowl and roll into a dough ball with your hands (takes some elbow grease!)
  • Wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for 20-30 mins.
  • Remove from the fridge, unwrap and make 18 sized golf balls.
  • Squash each golf ball round of dough down to a rough round biscuit shape about a 1cm think round.
  • Sprinkle with seeds and press them into the dough.
  • Place them onto the baking trays and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until slightly brown.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight container.

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Have you tried cooking savoury biscuits before? Any good recipes you’ve found?

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe. I seem to go through phases of deep emotional sugar-related thoughts to a flurry of recipes and then back to the deep stuff. If you like or liked your cake (like me), then this recipe is for you.

In my eyes right now, this sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake is quite simply awesome. It’s authentically, completely sugar-free. That means it has NO sugar substitutes in it. No dates, no coconut sugar, no stevia, nada. It’s naturally sweetened with the sweet potato and dessicated coconut which are both low fructose. It hits my cake texture craving spot perfectly.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

As ‘sugar-free’ starts to go mainstream, I predict you’ll see the ‘sugar-free’ label a lot. You need to watch out because it’s being used all over the shop for things I wouldn’t really consider truly ‘sugar-free’. Just keep your wits about you on this one.

Anyway here’s the recipe…

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Makes about 10 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 ½ cups of flour (I used rye flour)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3 tbls coconut oil (could try replacing this with melted butter if you wish)
  • 4 tbls milk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup walnut pieces
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180C and grease an 18 cm round cake tin or a loaf tin.
  • If the coconut oil is solid, stick it in a little ramekin and place in the oven for a few minutes to melt it.
  • Cook your sweet potato. I tend to put mine whole in the microwave for about 6-7 minutes until very soft and cooked through. Peel, and then roughly chop/semi mash.
  • Place the flour, walnuts, baking powder, bicarb, salt, dessicated coconut, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Whisk the eggs, milk & melted coconut oil together in a smaller bowl
  • Pour these wet ingredients into the larger bowl containing the dry ingredients. Fold the ingredients through (It can get a bit tough and seem like there’s not enough liquid but bear with it.)
  • Mash in the sweet potato until really well combined with the mixture (this takes a bit of elbow grease).
  • Place mixture into the prepared tin and push down with a wooden spoon.
  • Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes then let cool.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

What to do with your cake?

  • Have a slice as a snack with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
  • Have a slice as a quick grab and go breakfast (much better than a shop bought muffin or those breakfast biscuit things)
  • Cut into portions, wrap in cling film and freeze. You can defrost them instantly in the microwave in 60 seconds…voila!

Now this recipe isn’t gluten free I know. If gluten is an issue for you, you could make it gluten free by using buckwheat or quinoa flour. You could also make it dairy free by using almond milk. But note, I haven’t tried this recipe with either of these options so you’ll be experimenting. Let me know how it goes!

What do you think about ‘sugar-free’ cakes and bakes? Have you found ‘sugar-free’ recipes that you don’t really think qualify? Do you get ‘cake’ texture cravings like me? Have you tried cooking this and if so how did it turn out?

 

guacamole

Spicy homemade guacamole recipe

Shop bought guacamole is not mind blowing is it? It’s usually gloopy and full of added ingredients that I wish they hadn’t put in. It’s one item I really think you should go DIY on. You can literally make your own in seconds and use it up in loads of different ways. Here is my spicy guacamole recipe for those of you who like it hot!

Avocados really are such a fantastic addition to your low sugar diet. Technically a fruit, they are the lowest fructose fruit in town, so eat your heart out. They have that super healthy fat component which does wonders for your skin and hair, whilst making them totally satisfying and delicious. Finding new enjoyable ways of adding a little avocado to your diet is a healthy small step that will certainly help with your lower sugar plight.

I’m pretty relaxed about lots of things, but I don’t like to hear of people not eating avocados because of their calories or fat. I was guilty of this once upon a time and it’s totally crazy when they’re such a pure natural nourishing whole food.

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Spicy guacamole

If you don’t like it so spicy go easy on the chilli and cayenne pepper.

Makes a big batch, probably good for at least 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 small or 2 big ripe avocados

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 medium onion

  • few slices of chilli, chopped (optional)

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 large ripe tomato

Method

  • Mash the avocado and lime juice together in a large bowl

  • Add the salt, cayenne pepper, cumin and mix again

  • Finally add the garlic, chilli, tomato and onion and mix

  • Add extra lime juice or salt to taste

Add a dollop of this spicy guacamole to spice up a salad or a sandwich. Alternatively spread over a crispbread like Ryvita and add cheese or ham for a serious substantial snack that will certainly stop a blood sugar dip. Might be a bit too spicy for breakfast but give it a go if you dare. I’ve also been dipping some poppy seed spelt crackers in mine this week, yum!

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Grain and sugar-free rosemary almond crackers recipe

I know low sugar snacks can be a continuous challenge. Trying to get them balanced with some healthy fat and protein whilst avoiding processed packaged goods is not an easy feat (& it’s why I developed my low sugar snack guide).

It’s therefore my pleasure to share these delicious almond-based rosemary crackers because they tick all the right healthy boxes and satisfy my tough low sugar snack requirements.

They’re pretty simple, with limited ingredients. They do however need a bit of careful watching to make sure you don’t burn them. Saying that, I burnt a batch and my friend Katie insisted they were super tasty dipped in hummus, so rest assured there was no waste in the making of this recipe.

You can’t actually eat too many of these as you get quite full quickly, unlike other refined flour crackers where you can usually gorge and clear off a whole packet. With a base of almonds and olive oil, they’re high in healthy fats and your body will let you know when you’ve had enough. The ground almonds mean they have a slightly sweet feel to them without any added sugar.

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Grain and sugar-free almond crackers

Recipe slightly adapted from The Nourishing Home. Makes 40-50 crackers.

Ingredients

  • 200g (2 cups) ground almonds

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tbls olive oil

  • 1 tsp water

  • ½ tsp dried garlic powder

  • ½ tsp celtic sea salt

  • 1 tsp dried rosemary

  • butter for greasing

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 250C

  • Grease a baking tray with butter

  • Combine the ground almonds, salt,  garlic powder and rosemary. Mix together well.

  • Whisk the egg, olive oil and water together

  • Combine the wet mixture with the dry and form into a dough

  • Roll out the dough onto the baking tray to ⅛ of an inch thickness

  • Cut into a large square, remove outskirts and roll again into a smaller square

  • Sprinkle with a little extra salt

  • Cut the dough square into 1 inch squares but leave on the tray

  • Place in the oven for about 10 minutes until the edges start to turn brown and the ones in the middle are firm

  • Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes

  • Remove carefully from the tray and store in an airtight container

  • Serve with dips or topping of your choice. I like them simply on their own!

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Easy ham & egg cases

When you eat a lot of eggs like me, you need to find new ingenious ways of having them so you don’t get bored with the same thing. Last week I found I had three slices of leftover ham, 2 eggs, some tomato and a spring onion lying around, so in the name of no food waste, I cooked up these ham & egg cases.

Tip: For those who say they never have time for eggs in the morning, I whipped up these at the same time as cooking dinner to save myself time the next morning.

Easy ham & egg cases

Ingredients

Makes 3 but feel free to multiply the recipe for extra breakfasts and snacks

  • 3 slices of ham

  • 2 eggs, whisked

  • 1/2 a tomato, diced

  • 1 spring onion

  • parmesan cheese

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 175C
  • Line a baking tin with the ham. (Note: if you cut the ham to line the tin, the egg mixture will spill a little into the bottom but the general shape will still hold)
  • Add the tomato to the ham cases
  • Pour over the egg mixture and divide between cases
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and black pepper
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until the egg is cooked through and ham has crisped a little

Obviously you could mix these up a bit. Different cheese; some sautéed mushrooms instead of the tomato; or even a small head of broccoli for some greenery,

Happy case baking!

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Sugar substituting: Why you need almond butter

Have you heard of almond butter, and have you tried it? For those of you who have, this post will give you some handy suggestions for its use in a sugar-free diet. For those who haven’t (and who aren’t allergic to nuts), this stuff could rock your sugar-free world, so read on…

Become the master of substitution

One of the best tricks to master when reducing the sugar in your diet is the art of substitution. Substituting is a trial and error process where success is dramatically increased by choosing to eat alternative things you actually like. Yes I said LIKE, not forcing yourself to eat ‘healthy’ things that don’t come close to what you’re trying to stop eating.

There is no way a piece of celery is going to replace that piece of dairy milk and give you anywhere near the level of satisfaction you need to successfully wean you off. You’d probably rather either eat nothing than replace your dear chocolate with a piece of celery – right? You need something that feels a bit indulgent, satisfying but not sweet.

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Enter almond butter….

This goopy, grainy version of the humble almond has been a revelation in my diet over the past year. Step aside peanut butter, there’s a cooler kid in town. Almond butter is more nutritious than peanut butter and because it’s just that little bit more runny, I find it more versatile to use. Oh, and I think it’s nicer. So thumbs up all round.

I’m currently using Meridian Smooth Almond Butter which I picked up in a slightly larger limited edition jar at my local health store Natures Intent. It’s sugar-free, low in salt and palm oil free. The ingredients are simply 100% roasted almonds with a little salt. You can’t get better than that when it comes to produce out of a jar.

Almond butter is a bit more expensive than its peanut equivalent where it’s usually about £2.39-£4.00 for a small jar, but I’d say it’s well worth it. And isn’t a piece of carrot cake in Starbucks about that these days, anyway?

Just some almond butter suggestions that I roll with:

  • Dip celery in it for a perfectly balanced protein-veg-healthy fat snack
  • Drizzle over porridge for extra protein and again, healthy fat
  • Spread over slice of apple as a real treat
  • Whack a dollop into smoothies to thicken up
  • Mix with hot milk, raw cacao powder and a little brown rice syrup for a comforting low sugar alternative to a hot chocolate
  • Very slowly eat a teaspoon after a meal with a cup of tea (good if you’re trying to break the post meal-sweet habit)
  • Use as a topping on an oatcake or rice cake (somewhat resembles a biscuit)
  • Make my frozen almond butter blueberry fudge instead of eating ice cream

A word of warning

Now maybe it’s my former ‘sugar addiction’ mentality but this stuff is so good that it borders on dangerous. There are some occasions where it’s just too easy to grab another spoonful out of the jar. So use it as your ultimate indulgent treat and put it on a higher shelf so it’s not in prime tempting position every time you open your cupboard.

Any other almond butter lovers reading this? How do you like to eat yours?

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Sugar-free frozen blueberry and almond butter fudge

Now, I don’t claim to be a good foodie photographer by any means, but I can certainly say last week I was quite chuffed with myself. You may have seen on my Facebook or Instagram a cute heart-shaped frozen delight.

If you’ve been sunning yourself in the UK recently, you’ll know it’s pretty damn warm and we’ve even had some monsoon samplers! I’m really feeling for my Mentor Me Off Sugar cohort at the moment because they are battling ice cream at every corner. They’re finishing up on Sunday so they really have had nearly the whole heatwave to contend with.

Whilst summer has it’s Magnum themed sugar-free challenges, when you think about it there isn’t really a season when there aren’t any sugary challenges just around the corner. I personally find Christmas the toughest because of my former raisin obsession (have I told you that one year I ate Xmas pudding all year round? I know!). Anyway, whilst you think this is the worst time of year to attempt your sugar slaughter, in fact there is never a great time. Don’t fall into the trap of using time of year as an excuse.

If you got my newsletter last week, you’ll know I deconstructed ice-cream cravings a little bit to help you uncover the truth behind them. If you’re still craving a cold-sweet substitute then these little blueberry-frozen-fudge bad boys might do the trick… and they’re a heck of a lot healthier.

Warning: It is quite hard to just eat one when they’re this small and tasty, but because of the high fat content you can feel pretty full after 4 (as I found).

Sugar-free frozen blueberry and almond butter fudge

Makes approximately 10 shaped heart nibbles

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Ingredients

  • 4tbls melted coconut oil (this stuff is amazing for you)
  • 1bls almond butter
  • 1tbls barley malt extract
  • 10 frozen blueberries

Method

  • Mix the oil, almond butter and barley malt extract vigorously together in a small bowl

  • Spoon into an ice cube tray (of any shape, hearts worked well!)

  • Push a frozen blueberry into the middle of each shape and stick the whole lot into the freezer

  • Eat when frozen or even semi-frozen if you’re as impatient as me!

These are sooooo nice. They’re quite sweet so you may want to adjust the barley malt extract accordingly and I might add a little less next time. Remember, barley malt extract is a sweetener I like because it’s very low fructose and more natural than chemical or processed sweeteners. However, it’s not something I depend on every day, or even every week. It just helps make nice things, like these, on occasion.

I know these ingredients are a) a bit expensive and b) not found in the average supermarket. However, once you have them in stock, you can mix up this frozen fudge very quickly. The sheer convenience means they could be a great ice cream transition strategy and the price over the long run probably works out similar. Plus, you can use some of them in your low sugar smoothies remember!

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If you make these PLEASE post a photo and let me know, as I would love to see them. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. I think this is becoming my social network of choice and I’m planning lots of sugar themed pictorial fun this summer.

Enjoy!

Laura x

 

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Carrot, apple & walnut muffins

In case you didn’t know, one of my favourite sugary treats was carrot cake. Rather than crave the sugar, sometimes I just crave that cake-like texture so I’d thought I’d try baking some savoury-style carrot muffins and share a recipe.

I adapted a recipe I found on www.spoonfulofsugarfree.com , which is a great blog with lots of recipes that might be useful for you in your sugar-free adventures.

Carrot, apple & walnut muffins

Makes 12-16 medium sized muffins

Ingredients

2 cups spelt flour

1 cup ground flaxseed

1 ½ cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk this time)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

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2 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 apple, diced

2 carrots, grated

3 tsp cinnamon (I like it spicy)

½ tsp vanilla essence

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with cases or parchment paper squares.

Whisk the apple cider vinegar with the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Mix together all the dry ingredients and then blend with the milk mixture.

Fold in the apple, walnuts and carrot, and mix well together.

Add the batter to the muffin cases or parchment and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes clean and they brown slightly on the top

Verdict

These definitely hit that cake texture spot and are best straight out of the oven. They look like sweet-tasting muffins so when I did take them round to my friends BBQ, there were some strange faces when they discovered they were savoury rather than sweet. Just manage expectations with that one! They don’t keep past a few days, so you’ll have to scoff them or share them in a day or two. Enjoy!

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Courgette and sage coconut flour muffins

One thing many may think they’ll miss with a lack of sugar in their diet is baking. However, there are still many options available, especially with all the natural sweeteners available (fruit, rice malt syrup, stevia), and various savory concoctions. You really can still give Mary Berry a run for her money.

I had this recipe on my hit-list after speaking up in Cambridge a few weeks ago. Katie Bavester from Clean Eat Treats whipped up a batch of these savoury courgette and sage muffins for us all. They were delicious.

I gave them a go at the weekend because I have three mornings this week, where I have to be out of the house by 6:05am (I know!). I was in need of a suitable on-the-go breakfast that appeals for when my stomach decides to wake up. I’ve also had a lot of breakfast casserole recently and needed a change.

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The verdict

These came out super moist and are really really tasty. They are nicely filling and last well for a few days – they don’t seem to lose their moisture easily like other muffins. An excellent option for breakfast, a snack, or just to add to any meal if you’re still not quite full enough.

Technically, I did think to myself this morning that by eating these I had crossed a new boundary of eating garlic for breakfast. Just wanted to point this out; first it was vegetables, then shallots/onions, and now… garlic. This low sugar diet certainly takes you to new heights. I would have screwed my nose up at all of those a few years ago, that’s for sure. It’s amazing how your palette can change.

Obscure ingredients

I know coconut flour and coconut oil are a) not cheap and b) not easy to come by for everyone, so I apologies for the ‘fatty-ness’ of this recipe. I do think these are worth it. You can usually pick these ingredients up in specialist food shops like Wholefoods or Planet Organic or online (e.g. Healthy Supplies). Just a warning, I am not sure about substituting coconut flour with regular wholemeal flour in this exact recipe because it’s very different in terms of how much liquid it absorbs.

Nearly everything free

Yes these are gluten free, dairy free, and of course, sugar-free.

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Courgette and sage coconut flour muffins

Recipe adapted from Anja’s Food for Thought & Clean Eat Treats

Makes 11-12 small muffins

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup ground almonds
• 10-12 fresh sage leaves
• 1 garlic clove
• 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 eggs
• 2 tablespoon coconut oil
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons coconut flour
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 a grated courgette

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a tin or line a muffin tin with parchment paper (I did half and half to test and both worked)
2. Mix the chopped garlic, ground almonds, sage and olive oil together in a small bowl
3. Combine the coconut flour and baking soda in another bowl
4. Melt the coconut oil and whisk together with the eggs, water and salt
5. Whisk the flour mixture together with the eggs and oil (you’ll notice the coconut flour in action here)

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6. Add the sage and ground almond mixture from earlier and then add the courgette
7. Spoon into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, until perfectly golden
8. Take them out and be as satisfied as I was!

These were particularly nice when eaten warm. Next time I will double the recipe and possibly freeze a few.

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Have you baked with coconut flour before? Do obscure ingredients put you off recipes? I know they do me sometimes but occasionally I like to try something a bit more unusual.

sugar-free sweet potato & walnut brownies

Recipe: Sugar-free sweet potato and walnut brownies

A little while back I reviewed Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Chocolate Cookbook and tested out a sweet potato brownie recipe which had been on my hit list for a while. In my usual fashion, I ended up changing a few ingredients and trying some different variations which I thought I’d share.

The first recipe (non gluten-free) has more of a cake texture and the second (gluten-free) came out more of a fudge-brownie texture. I also added more cacao powder to the second batch to make them more chocolate-like. Both were nice, I still can’t decide which I prefer!

As you can see with these recipes, you can swap things around a little to make it work best for you. I sometimes think that’s half the fun but then I know others like to follow recipes to prescription. Granted if that’s you, you probably don’t make as many kitchen blunders as I do!

Sarah Wilson I quit sugar chocolate cookbook review

Note, when I say these recipes are sugar-free, I mean fructose-free (or very low fructose).

Happy baking!

Recipes adapted from Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Chocolate Cookbook

Sugar-free sweet potato and walnut brownie (non gluten-free)

http://happysugarhabits.com/s3-trial/

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 75g softened butter
  • 5 tbls barley malt extract
  • 1/2 tsp natural vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal self raising flour
  • 2 tbls raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs whisked
  • 3/4 cup roughly broken walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or cacao nibs (optional)

 Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Grease a tin, prick potato with a fork and cook in the microwave till soft all the way through (approx. 5-6mins depending on size)
  • Let the potato cool, peel off skin and mash in a bowl
  • Add the butter, barley malt extract, baking soda, cayenne pepper, salt and flour. Mix together.
  • Add the eggs and mix again.
  • Add the walnuts, cacao nibs/chocolate and mix again
  • Pour into greased tin and bake for 30-40mins until skewer comes clean

Sweet potato and walnut chocolate brownie fudge (gluten-free)

sugar-free sweet potato & walnut brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 75g softened butter
  • 6tbls brown rice syrup (or rice malt syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp natural vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 6 tbls raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs whisked
  • 3/4 cup roughly broken walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or cacao nibs (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Grease a tin, prick potato with a fork and cook in the microwave till soft all the way through (approx. 5-6mins depending on size)
  • Let the potato cool, peel off skin and mash in a bowl
  • Add the butter, brown rice syrup, baking soda, cayenne pepper, salt and ground almonds. Mix together.
  • Add the eggs and mix again.
  • Add the walnuts, cacao nibs/chocolate and mix again
  • Pour into greased tin and bake for 30-40mins until skewer comes clean