Tag Archives: dessert

Foodie Friday: Christmas Time

For me Christmas time is about spending time with family.  Everyone coming together in one, glorious, noisy mess.  Laughing, shrieking, shouting, joking, playing card games and board games till all hours of the morning.  All of this happening around the dinner table, which should be filled with food… but that’s what I fear the most, cooking something that everyone will love.  Well, I asked Heidi to help!  A big thank you to Heidi, my Christmas Elf in the kitchen!

Ah, Christmas time…Christmas is all about love, family and togetherness, and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  We do this by exchanging gifts, spending quality time together and of course, by feasting on glorious food!

A sunny South African Christmas menu can include many different dishes and you can probably remember massive tables laden with ham, tongue, a million different salads and sides, chicken and perhaps even a turkey… That’s what my childhood Christmases were like in any case.  You might even have enjoyed a Christmas braai or 2…  Let’s face it, a traditional South African Christmas is a jolly, sunny affair, most probably spent outside by the pool or at the beach.

Now, when we look at all these traditional things… is a low carb Christmas style possible? Will it be boring? Should you even bother?

In short – yes and no!

Christmas is a celebration, it’s about being together with friends and family and sharing happy memories, good food and creating loving memories and there’s no reason to miss out on a delectable feast!

Having said that, as you know, I’m not a fan of trying to recreate ‘old’ favourites into new low carb treats – there are some that can easily be done and others that are best left alone.

I also prefer to keep things simple and focus on a few really outstanding dishes, rather than making hundreds…

Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

Christmas Snacks

Whether you’re hosting a Christmas get-together or attending one, you’ll need some snacks.

Choose something really delicious and impressive and make it special.  I would go for something like these pumpkin pie blinis – mini little bite-sized nibbles that’ll really make it feel like Christmas and a favourite at Changing Dream!

And do try a boozy eggnog too – it’s like a creamy custard drink, with brandy and it’s the best thing ever!

Or perhaps something a little more South African, bacon wrapped meatballs!

Christmas Mains

On to the main event – I’ve chosen roast chicken. Simply increase the amount of chickens for
every 6 people.  You could go the classic route of a roast turkey, but I feel that a roast chicken is perfect for a sunny SA Christmas – you can make it outside on the Weber or braai and rather add 1 more meat option.

How about a delicious pork belly roast?

Or keep things fresh and simple with a Festive Ham Salad as another main option!

Add a festive salad like this Fried Camembert Salad and you’re good to go!

Christmas Dessert

To end off a lovely meal, and because I’ve a bit of a sweet tooth – here are 3 winner dessert options.  Let’s start with a cheesecake, then coconut ice cream kisses and finish off with a triple chocolate tart!

Have a happy and blessed Christmas and remember what it’s all about – don’t spend unnecessary time stressing over food and slaving away in the kitchen – unless that’s your thing…

Keep it simple and remember that you don’t even need to tell everybody that your menu is low carb – simply let them enjoy the feast, because let’s face it, this is SO NOT a restrictive ‘diet’..!

P.S. As far as other drinks go – dry wine or bubbly is always the best option instead of sugary cocktails or other drinks mixed with sugary cool drinks.  Make sure you have plenty of sparkling water and add a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint for a refreshing drink.

Heidi Visser

 

 

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Foodie Friday: Sweet Tooth?

So, you’ve decided to follow a healthier lifestyle and make better food choices – but can you still have your cake and eat it too?

Why yes, yes, you can!

Thank goodness there are natural sweeteners and other substitutes out there to fulfil our need for something sweet every now and then.  Some great, natural sweeteners that are perfectly fine to use and that won’t spike your blood sugar include:

  • Xylitol
  • Stevia
  • Erythritol

Yes, sugar is also natural, but it is so very bad for you, because of the blood sugar spike it causes.  Avoid sugar at all cost – and do look out for it hidden in all processed foods!  Right, so these sweeteners all differ in sweetness and strength and they won’t act exactly the same as sugar in a dessert.

Xylitol is the most like sugar in taste, however I find it much sweeter and would use half of the amount of sugar.  Be aware though, that xylitol is poisonous to animals, so in an animal household, it’s risky to use…

Stevia has a very sweet, very specific taste – I’m personally not a fan – and you would use about a knife-tip amount for every 1 tsp sugar equivalent.

Erythritol is also very similar to xylitol and can be used in the same ratios.

Try and avoid other, chemical sweeteners, even if they are low in carbs, it’s just not Real Food.  But that is just the sweetener part, what about flour substitutes in baked desserts?

This is a tough one, because there are plenty of substitutes such as nut and seed flours, but they do NOT act the same as wheat flour. The most commonly known and used nut flour is almond flour and it is one of the most versatile low carb ingredients.  It is not so simple as taking a conventional recipe and swapping almond flour in for wheat flour. Almond flour lacks gluten, a protein found in wheat that helps baked goods rise and hold their shape. It also has much higher fat and moisture contents than wheat. All of these factors need to be considered when making an almond flour recipe.  Almond flour recipes typically require more eggs and more leavening agent to help them rise properly. Almond flour recipes may also contain less oil and liquid as well, to account for the high fat content of the nuts.

Coconut flour is a different beast altogether from nut flours, and is actually the by-product of coconut milk production.  The trick to working with coconut flour is accepting the fact that it requires a lot of eggs to give it structure and a decent consistency. It can be a little shocking to see half a dozen to a dozen eggs in a recipe, but as you try it out, you will see that it works. The end results are rarely too eggy or rubbery. You will also be surprised to see how little coconut flour is used in most recipes. It’s incredibly dense, but expands remarkably with the added eggs and liquid, so you typically only need about a third of the amount you would need with conventional flour or nut flours.

Always start with some tried and true low carb baking recipes to get a feel for these new ingredients.  The best {and easiest} sugar-free desserts to stick to, that will be most satisfying and ‘real’ are things like cheesecakes, ice creams, chocolate mousse…  Desserts that require the least changes.

And then of course CHOCOLATE!!!  Dark chocolate – 70% and higher – is an excellent treat! It’s good for you, with all sorts of anti-oxidants, etc, and also very low in sugar, naturally.

A word of caution though – if you’re really addicted to sugar, then even a low carb, sugar-free dessert will have you craving sugar.  It’s that sweet taste that can often trigger our sugar cravings, and it’s a slippery slope from there.

For some great sugar-free, low carb dessert recipes – please visit: http://foodiegoesprimal.com/category/dessert-low-carb-treats/

Heidi Visser

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