Saturday, 22 April 2017

Chocolate Almond Olive Oil Cake

This recipe is: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Low Fodmap, Suitable for Interstitial Cystitis, Paleo, Refined Sugar Free and Grain Free
Scroll to the bottom of this post for ingredient tips

This makes a beautiful moist but decadent cake. It has a lovely texture and a rich taste and is easy to make. I decorated mine as I was serving for a special occasion but I like it on its own too with a spoonful of coconut yoghurt!





Ingredients makes one large cake or a smaller cake and 7/8 cupcakes
  • 150ml Olive Oil (make sure you buy a pure one that isn't blended with other oils)
  • 50g Raw Cacao Powder
  • 125ml Boiling Water
  • 1tsp Rose Water Extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g Coconut Sugar
  • 150g Ground almonds             
  • 1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • Pinch of Salt

Method
  1. Preheat Oven to 160 C Fan, Gas Mark 3 or 170 C non-fan oven
  2. I used a silicon circular cake tin measuring 13.5cm in diameter and some silicone cupcake cases. If using a normal cake tin grease the bottom and sides then line just the bottom with grease proof paper and put out your paper cupcakes on a baking tray.
  3. Mix together the ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl crack eggs into a bowl and then add coconut sugar and olive oil. Blend with an electric whisk for about 2 minuted until the mix is slightly thickened
  5. Put the cacao powder in another bowl and whisk in the boiling water to form a smooth paste. You will probably need to use a spatular to bring down the mixture from the sides during this process
  6. Leave to cool and stir in rose water extract.
  7. Pour the cooled chocolate mix into the egg mixture and whisk until incorporated (about 10-20 seconds)
  8. Finally stir the almond mix into the chocolate/egg mix until well combined
  9. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and cupcake cases
  10. Bake the cake for 25-28 minutes the cake should feel firm and not give under finger pressure (if making one large cake bake for 30-35mins)
  11. Then bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes 
  12. Leave cakes to cool completely as the 'sponge' is quite delicate while hot and it would be a shame for it to fall apart 
  13. Once cool I actually, with not too much effort, managed to cut in half and fill with my macadamia cream and top with my chocolatey topping - find the recipes here. 

INGREDIENT TIPS
ALMOND MILK 
Try and buy a brand with no preservatives or sweeteners added such as Rude Health, Plenish or Provamel or make your own
Sprouted almonds, coconut sugar, chocolate (raw cacao butter, raw cacao paste, raw cacao powder), raw coconut oil, salt, revitalised water
GROUND ALMONDS 
I have to activate my nuts to release some of phytic acid which I find difficult to digest so I soaked, dried and ground my own almonds. I ground them to a course meal as I wanted a nutty texture but a smaller ground almonds work just as well and make a much smoother cake.
- DECORATIONS
Dried rose petals, fresh strawberries, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, freeze dried strawberries (Waitrose/Ocado stock these as well as the dried rose petals), dry your own strawberry crisps or you can buy versions of strawberry crisps from supermarkets (often in children's section, check to make sure they only contain fruit ingredients not added sugar, preservatives or anything to bulk them out), crushed nuts, coconut cream or yoghurt.
- CAKE TIN AND BAKING TIME
You can make one larger cake with a 23cm/9inch cake time. This will bake for about 30-35 minutes.
- ACCESSING SPECIAL INGREDIENTS 
All my ingredients were as pure, unrefined and organic as possible. They are all gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. It is much easier than it used to be get hold of these types of ingredients these days. You can get a version of all of these ingredients from Ocado, but also some good shops to also look at, which you can find online, are Holland and Barret, The Raw Chocolate Shop, The Raw Chocolate Company and Raw Ecstasy. Of course if you can get to your local independent health food shop they will probably be help you with these ingredients too. 
- QUALITY
All my ingredients were suitable for Coeliacs and mostly organic. By the best quality ingredients you can afford but most importantly check the labels to make sure what you are buying is as natural as possible for a better tasting cake and, of course, good health.


Ground Almond's (with bicarb): I ground my almonds fairly coarsely. You can grind them for longer  to match the texture of shop bought ground almonds.
(N.B. I love to bake but due to being house and bed bound most of the time it's not that easy so all the recipes are on here are a collaboration between my mum and I. Most of the time that means me wrapped up in a blanket and instructing her as she goes along, but it seems to work and is a lot of fun doing it together.)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Chocolate Icing

This recipe is: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Low fodmap, Suitable for Interstitial Cystitis, Paleo, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free and Grain Free
Scroll to the bottom of this post for ingredient tips

Ingredients
  • 75g Chopped Chocolate
  • 100g Chocolate Almond Spread (if you cannot get hold of this just use more chopped chocolate in its place)
  • 65g Coconut Oil



Method
  1. Add some water a small saucepan with a glass bowl on top (creating a bain-marie) put  over a very low heat and add the chocolate spread, chopped chocolate and coconut oil to glass bowl, stir together until melted and combined.
  2. Use a spatular to make sure all the mixture is together at the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Place in the mixture in the fridge for 15minutes and stir through to disperse any lumps
  4. Put back in the fridge for another 10minutes to finish thickening
  5. Remove from the fridge and using an electric whisk, whip the mixture until thick and fluffy. It is fully whipped when it has turned slightly paler in colour and resembles a mouse like texture. 
  6. Don't keep your finished topping in the fridge as it goes rock hard due to the coconut oil.
  7. Make sure any cakes you are topping are cool before you ice/fill your cakes, like  I did in my recipe here
As well as a cake icing this also makes a very rich decadent type chocolate mousse which you can use to layer up in other desserts (or eat off a spoon but it is very rich)

INGREDIENT TIPS

CHOPPED CHOCOLATE
The higher the cacao content in your chocolate the less added sugar will be in the icing. I have made the whole icing just using just 90% Ombar Chocolate which is also delicious but has a darker, slightly fruiter, flavour profile
CHOCOLATE ALMOND SPREAD 
I used Raw Ecstasy Activated Chocolate Almond Spread or you could make your own (for example Deliciously Ella has a RECIPE) or Chocolate & Coconut Cocobella by Biona or Cacao Brazilnut Bliss. There may well be other ones out there available but make sure they fit your dietary requirements. The ONE I used is made from sprouted almonds, coconut sugar, chocolate (raw cacao butter, raw cacao paste, raw cacao powder), raw coconut oil, salt and revitalised water. You might need to stir these chocolate spreads as they have no emulsifiers in so sometimes the oil separates out a bit and needs to be stirred back in. 
- ACCESSING SPECIAL INGREDIENTS 
All my ingredients were as pure, unrefined and organic as possible. They are all gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. It is much easier than it used to be get hold of these types of ingredients these days. You can get a version of all of these ingredients from Ocado, but also some good shops to also look at, which you can find online, are Holland and Barret, The Raw Chocolate Shop, The Raw Chocolate Company and Raw Ecstasy. Of course if you can get to your local independent health food shop they will probably be help you with these ingredients too.
QUALITY
All my ingredients were suitable for Coeliacs and mostly organic. By the best quality ingredients you can afford but most importantly check the labels to make sure what you are buying is as natural as possible for a better tasting cake and, of course, good health.




(N.B. I love to bake but due to being house and bed bound most of the time it's not that easy so all the recipes are on here are a collaboration between my mum and I. Most of the time that means me wrapped up in a blanket and instructing her as she goes along, but it seems to work and is a lot of fun doing it together.)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Latest Listens!


I listen to a lot of audiobooks as I struggle to read so here are my three favourites I've listened too recently.

The Anxiety Solution 
Author/Narrator: C.Brotheridge

I have always suffered with anxiety, all through my life I would get very stressed and regularly get awful stomach migraines, even on the way to places I liked to go and people I liked to see. However, until a couple of years into my illness with my anxiety levels becoming worse I didn't realise I had always had it. I didn't even realise I was having panic attacks until I had a few. Over the years I have learnt techniques to try to combat and control my anxiety. I have also started many books on the subject but none of them clicked because I couldn't relate to authors as they seemed to detached from my experiences as a female 'millennial'. That was until I came across Chloe Brotheridge's book and it was available to download on audible. I knew within seconds this was a book I could connect with. The author reads it herself and explains her background on her own anxiety, life and how she came to help other people. The book is not full of theory and doesn't tell you this will solve all your problems but contains lots of exercises you can do as you go along. A lot of self-help type books don't translate well into audio but this worked really well. She is reassuring but not preachy. I particularly liked the 'friend filter' technique as it's something I do occasionally already, but somehow putting a name to this tactic has made it stick in my mind a bit better. I have a particular friend I always think of to do this as I know her so well and we are so similar. Her advice to me is always good. Although I suppose there is nothing stopping you having different 'friend filters' for different types of situations. I also found the chapter on decision making very interesting as it rang true. The biological explanations behind why too many options may cause anxiety was something I wasn't aware of. I do find too many choices cause me a lot more anxiety and if I am able to decide I then often regret the decision if it's not perfect and that adds to my anxiety. As the book explains, if I am only confronted with an 'either or' scenario my anxiety around it is much less. To be frank I loved the majority of the book and could include most of it in the review! I have already started using some of her tips and tricks to tackle areas in my life where I struggle to control my anxiety levels. It is only about five hours long and Chloe has a calm and engaging voice. I can recommend it to anyone who suffers with anxiety. 



Animal 
Author/Narrator: S.Pascoe

I came across this book whilst listening to 'The Guilty Feminist' and was immediately intrigued. It is essentially a mix of the science and evolution of the female body and Sara Pascoe's experiences of growing up and developing. It's semi-autobiographical nature mixed with detailed and well researched science. Even though there are some technical terms and advanced theories, Sarah makes them accessible to people who have a limited knowledge of science, biology and human evolution. She combines information and experience with her fantastic sense of humour making the audiobook compelling to listen too. I found it fascinating and spent the next few weeks quoting the biological evolution of the female body to pretty much anyone who would listen. I must admit there were bits that were distressing and uncomfortable to listen too, for example, the parts about the abuse of the female body by both historical and modern day societies/cultures and so-called scientists. However, it didn't stop me listening and I think it added to the sheer brilliance of this book. 

The Summer Seaside Kitchen 
Author: J.Colgan
Narrator: Sarah Barron 

Ever since I listened to Jenny Colgan's 'Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe' I have devoured every book of hers that has been available in audiobook format. I have, in fact, previously reviewed one of her books here. This book is another story uprooting a woman from her current life to start a fresh. However, Colgan always puts a new twist on her plots. I think her characters are so well crafted and intriguing that they really come to life as I listened and I want to know all of their past, presents and futures. Set on the imaginary Isle of Mure, just off the coast of Scotland, the challenges of island life are mixed with modern age issues, grief and a couple of romances. The thing I always get from these books is, that although they are firmly in the romance and easy to read genre, the female character always turns out strong and doesn't need to be rescued by her love interest and in this story, Flora very much becomes the 'rescuer' of the book. This is not something the character sets out to do, but accidentally becomes this role. Can she help everyone that needs her including her brothers, the island, the rich business man, her love interest and most, importantly, herself? A lovely listen, perfect for an evening bedtime book or afternoon with cup of tea in the sunshine. I highly recommend The Summer Seaside kitchen for a brilliant listen!





What am I listening too next/at the moment?
- My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling (and read gloriously by Stephen Fry)

How Do I Listen?
- I have a membership with Audible that for £7.99 gives me one credit a month to buy any audiobook they have. 
- My local library have audiobooks you can download onto app for 21 days at a time*. They have a fair few books but not always the new releases. It is a completely free service, all you need to do is go to your local library to sign up and they will explain how to use the service. If you are disabled, like me, you can get your 'carer' to sign up which allows them to take out many 'physical' books for long periods of time and all you need is their library membership info to log in to the apps and you can start listening there and then! 
*Sometimes you have a wait for audiobooks to become available, particularly any of the Harry Potter books!



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