Need a silly easy recipe for refined sugar free chutney? Look no further…

refined sugar free chutney
When I returned from a year of living in Cambodia in 2006, it was with a very heavy heart. I was down and out and ridiculously vulnerable. I worked briefly for my friend’s (now ex) husband which did not end well. Then I worked for a year for a man who was essentially the male version of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

Yes. He was that bad!

He’d come into the office the morning after watching The Apprentice thinking he was Lord Al. Firing people left, right and centre over the silliest things. I was one of his right hand wo/men, and stood on the correct side of him. Until I dared to disagree with him that is, then he turned on me quicker than milk left in the blazing sun. We were on a jolly up in a foreign country. It was the catalyst for my second mental breakdown, hitting rock bottom and turning my life around. I guess in a way I have a lot to thank him for.

refined sugar free chutneyYou might be wondering what all this has to do with refined sugar free chutney?

After I was eventually freed from that particular toxic environment I couldn’t face getting another job. So I set up my own business making dips and chutneys from my little kitchen in Streatham. Having recently gone refined sugar free (this was 2007) I wanted to create food that would appeal to people eating like I was. Alas, it was way ahead of it’s time, and ended up bankrupting me. You live and you learn though, and I genuinely would not change a thing.

Life lessons like that sometimes take, well, a lifetime to gather. In the year that followed they were plentiful and shaped the way I now think. Especially when it comes to money. This might sound silly to some, but if you aren’t taught financial well being at a young age it can have devastating consequences. More on that topic another time.

Just like all my other recipes, this is also low in natural sugar. Regular readers will know by now that nothing winds me up more than someone calling a recipe sugar free only for it to be loaded to the hilt with sugars and sweeteners. Most food in it’s natural state (fruit, veg, grains, nuts…) contains some form of sugar. If you aren’t adding any to your recipe you wouldn’t call it sugar free you would say no added sugar.

I’m sharing a small batch recipe here, but it lends itself marvellously to being made in a bigger batch. I once turned 200kg of onions into 500 jars for a trade show. My friend said the house smelled like pickled onion monster munch and refused to sleep on our couch in case the scent never came out of his clothes. Oh how different things are now, eleven years later with three children to keep me busy.

refined sugar free chutney

What you’ll need to make a small jar of my refined sugar free chutney

A clean 350g jar, you can sterilise it if you wish
Small lidded saucepan
Spatula
Sharp knife
Chopping board

refined sugar free chutney500g onions
1/2cup or 120ml vinegar
(I’ve used raw organic cider vinegar here but balsamic also works wonderfully)
1/4cup or 35g sugar
(I’ve used organic coconut blossom, but muscovado works great too. You could use honey, but I feel that cooking honey for this long would be a waste of all the gorgeous nutrients. You could also use maple syrup or coconut nectar)

Method

– chop your onions any way you wish and place them in your saucepan

– sprinkle over the sugar

– pour over the vinegar

– place on the highest heat for about 30 seconds, then turn down low and put the lid on your saucepan

– simmer for one hour, checking in every 10 minutes or so and stirring to ensure it’s not getting burnt

– add a small drop of water to loosen the chutney if it does start getting a little bit stuck to the pan

– allow to cool and decant into your glass jar, keep in the fridge

– wow all your friends at barbecues with your home made condiments

– this is a perfect accompaniment for burgers. Check out my trio of easy home made burgers

 

 

Show stopping dessert: paleo caramel slice. This pudding is free from all grains including gluten, as well as refined sugar

I absolutely adore creating decadent show stopping desserts, and they don’t get much better than my paleo caramel slice. With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what will get cooked on the big day. Here’s another suggestion for you to add to the memory bank, or Pinterest board.

paleo caramel sliceYou might be wondering what separates my puds from the millions of others on the web? The short answer is that mine are usually healthier. Like for like, they will almost always contain less sugar than other similar recipes you’ll come across. This includes natural sugars, because as I’ve mentioned before, natural sugar is still sugar. Sweeteners derived from fruit, honey or maple are better for you overall, providing they are pure. Let’s face it though, most people are addicted to sweet things. I believe, along with many experts, that the only way to truly get a grip is by having a lot LOT less.

This paleo caramel slice is not meant for everyday elevenses. It’s supposed to be a once in a special occasion show stopping dessert. For entertaining and celebrations – I’ve had excellent feedback from everyone who has tried it. What more could a wannabee chef ask for?

Ingredients for 10 slices

(base) 200g ground almonds
50g coconut flour
60ml coconut oil and extra for greasing the dish
tsp vanilla
(caramel) 150g butter
150g coconut palm sugar
(chocolate topping) 100g cacao butter
20g cacao powder

paleo caramel sliceMethod

– grease your dish with coconut oil and preheat the oven to 170C

– make the base by combining all the base ingredients together and rolling into a ball

– place the ball inside the dish and flatten out with your hands, once flat use a fork to prick the dough all over, then bake for 15 minutes

– after your base is cooked, and while it is cooling, make your caramel by heating the butter and coconut sugar over a med heat, stirring occasionally

– once the ingredients have melted, remove from the heat and whip it hard with a hand whisk to bring it together. After about fifteen seconds you will start to see luscious caramel forming before your eyes. I use salted raw butter, but you could use unsalted and add a pinch of sea salt, or leave it without salt. Goats butter also works well

– as soon as the caramel is ready, pour evenly over the base. If you are short on time you could place the dish into the freezer for ten minutes to cool, otherwise allow to cool down on the kitchen side. It’s vital that you place it on to a completely flat surface otherwise it will set wonky and ruin the aesthetics

– once cool, make your chocolate topping by melting the cacao butter and cacao powder in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted pour on top of the caramel, or use a piping bag to create funky patterns like Polly did here, then leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve

Non-Alcoholic Paleo Christmas Cake

I’ve once again teamed up with a fabulous bunch of free from bloggers, to bring you a wonderful selection of free from Christmas food this year. Please check out the links at the bottom of this post for more details. 

My family has been eating the paleo way for almost six years now. We aren’t perfect eaters, and subscribe to the 80/20 principle, which gives our life a healthy balance. By and large however, this means that we do not eat any grains (of which gluten is just one, but the most publicised one), or refined sugar. We do eat a little dairy in the way of raw milk, cheese, and home fermented goat milk yoghurt and sour cream, but steer clear as best we can of commercial dairy.

Between eating like this, and my recent leap into teetotalism, I wanted to create a non-alcoholic paleo Christmas cake. One that we could all enjoy and doesn’t have the excess sugar, unnecessary ingredients and alcohol you would usually find in a traditional version.

Sugar is sugar people!

Unrefined or not, dried fruit is exceptionally sweet, and the icing alone on most Christmas cakes (especially shop bought) amounts to diabetes on a plate. Apart from anything else, my Hubby is not a fan at all, so I had to put my thinking cap on, and get creative. 

non-alcoholic paleo christmas cakeDid you know that the purpose of soaking the dried fruit (and nuts if you’re using them like I am) in alcohol is to make them super moist? Feeding the cake with booze is partly for preservation purposes, but also for flavour. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tea which has been brewed and cooled down works just as well to soak the fruit and nuts overnight. Not using booze also means that you don’t have to make the cake too far in advance, and can leave it until the week of Christmas. Also it’s best to use organic dried fruit, because it will be sulphite free which is always a good thing! 

I have used Earl Grey tea, because it gives the cake and wonderful smell and flavour. For some reason, bergamot reminds of the beach, and elicits happy memories of far flung holidays and adventures. Not exactly Christmassy, but it makes me smile so I’ll call that a win.   

If you really want a boozey cake, then you can substitute the tea for alcohol of your choice, make it a month in advance and feed with 1-2 tablespoons each week. 

Non-Alcoholic Paleo Christmas Cake that is free from all Grains (including Gluten), Dairy and Refined Sugar

Ingredients for a very large cake, approx 20 servings  
250g grated carrot
200g chopped dried dates
200g sultanas 
200g cashew nuts
100g chopped dried apricots
100g ground nuts (almonds or pecans work great)
non-alcoholic paleo christmas cake100g coconut flour
120ml coconut oil
250ml cool brewed Earl Grey tea
4 large free range eggs
tbsp vanilla

Method
– Get a large bowl and add the dried fruit, cashews and carrot
– Give it a good mix, then pour over the cold tea 
– Cover the bowl and leave the mixture to soak overnight
– In the morning preheat your oven to 150C and prepare a large cake tin by greasing it well and lining with baking paper
– When you’re ready to start cooking add the ground nuts and coconut flour to your bowl of soaked loveliness  
– Give it a big mix
– In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla and coconut oil together
– Pour the wet mixture all over the bowl of other ingredients and give it a good stir
– Pour the batter into your tin and brush with a tbsp of coconut oil 
– Bake for an hour, ensuring that the cake is completely covered in baking paper
– Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely
– Store in an airtight cake tin and decorate as you please on the big day 

non-alcoholic paleo christmas cakeCheck out the other #FreeFromChristmas posts from these fabulous bloggers

Dairy Free Kids

Easy Peasy Foodie

Free From Fairy

Free From Farmhouse

Glutarama

Gluten Free Alchemist

Intolerant Gourmand

Julie’s Family Kitchen

Le Coin de Mel

Paleo Crust (aka Modern Food Stories)

The Adventures of an Allergy Mummy

The Peachick’s Bakery

**I created this recipe for non-alcoholic paleo Christmas cake myself, but would like to say a huge thanks to the wonderful people at Unsplash for the gorgeous photos**  

These delightful little pumpkin pie cupcakes are a throwback to Polly’s egg allergy. During those desperate days, I spent too much time wondering what on earth I’d feed my child. Thankfully we’re in a much better place now, but I learnt how to be creative back then. 

I remember trawling the internet searching for recipes that were not just grain free, but egg free too. It was much harder than I thought it would be, so I did what I always do. Got out my apron, and started chucking ingredients together until I was happy with the taste. 

Need a healthy guilt free treat? You’re in the right place! 

The pumpkin/butternut squash base make these cupcakes a truly guilt free bake. Flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla, they are dense and fudgey, and super moreish. The best thing of all is that they won’t leave you feeling meh afterwards, as they’re free from grains and refined sugar. The icing is made primarily from cashew nuts, which sounds a bit random, but trust me, it’s absolutely delicious. Overall they’re a win for any time of the day. 

I had a bit of an epiphany while I was trying to take photos of these cakes over the weekend. I’ve known for a long time that my sweet treats will never look as good as their sugary/gluteny/buttery counterparts, but I’ve made my peace with that. My food is all about the flavour, and the fact that it’s great for my family. If you’re in need of healthy inspiration, you’re definitely in the right place. Take a look at this Pinterest board for more yummy recipes.  

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Sweet Icing. This recipe is free from all grains (not just gluten), dairy, egg and refined sugar.     

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Sweet Icing (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)Ingredients to make 12

(for the cupcakes) 400g pumpkin or butternut squash
120ml coconut oil
40g coconut flour
40g ground almonds
40g ground flaxseed
2 tbsp water
1-2 tbsp honey
Tbsp cinnamon
Tsp vanilla
Tsp bicarb of soda
(for the icing) 200g cashew nuts
60ml coconut oil
2-3 tbsp honey

Method

– two hours ahead of baking, put the cashew nuts into a bowl and cover with cold water. Soaking the nuts will make them easier to blend, and also easier to digest  

– preheat your oven to 170c and line a 12-hole cupcake tray with cases

– peel and de-seed your pumpkin/butternut squash and cut into small chunks. Place in a saucepan with the cinnamon and water. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat with the lid on for about 40 mins until it is fork-mashable

– tip the contents into your blender or food processor, along with all the other cake ingredients and whiz until well combined. Sweeten the batter to your taste, one tablespoon of honey is enough for us, but you might want to add a little extra

– divide the batter between the cases and bake for 25 mins

pumpkin pie cupcakes– allow to cool completely before icing them

– to make the icing, drain the cashews and tip them into your blender or food processor

– blend the cashews, along with the coconut oil and 2 tbsp of honey, adding more honey to taste if needs be

– you’ll now be ready to ice the cakes, get the piping bag out if you’re feeling fancy otherwise use a knife to spread over the cakes 

– serve immediately, or make in advance and store in a cake tin. They are particularly delish after they’ve been in the fridge 

It’s not even Easter yet, but are you sick of the sight of chocolate eggs already?

Does the idea of sugary fondant baked inside sweet brownies make you want to vom?

Do you prefer healthy treats when they’re on offer?

Do you have a condition which means you need to watch your sugar intake? 

Have you answered yes to any of the above?

Then you’ve come to the right place! I’m pretty sure you will adore my hazelnut balls. 

hazelnut ballsRecipe: Paleo Hazelnut Balls (gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, very low sweetener) 

Ingredients for 12 little balls
250g roasted hazelnuts
1/4c cocoa/cacao powder
1/3c coconut oil
1-2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Method
– put all ingredients into your blender or food processor

– whiz together for a minute or two until it all comes together

– tip onto a plate, then roll into balls

– store in the fridge

Watch me make them live on Facebook, and see for yourself how easy it is.

I also explain how to make home made nutella, and give you a cheat to make this process even faster!

***Huge thanks to my lovely friend Mel of Le Coin de Mel for the gorgeous photos!***