Strawberry Pepita Muesli Bars – FODMAPs, Fructose Friendly, Paleo & Gluten Free

IMG_4087

At the request of someone who cannot eat almonds – hence the last muesli bars I made were unsuitable – I promised to attempt an almond free version.

Well, here it is… and isn’t. I submitted the recipe to Yummly, a recipe/food/cooking website that I absolutely love for the reasons I listed here. It is like a big community of professional food writers, chefs, cooks and the likes of us. If you make your own account, you can start searching for delicious recipes with ingredient filters and saving them to try later… because of course you’ll be making these beauties first!

These are lower GI than your store bought muesli bars, and wont have any nasty preservatives in them. I kept mine in the fridge, in a sealed container and they lasted one month until I had finished them without spoiling.

As I mentioned in my last post about muesli bars, low GI is important not only when you’re not doing anything – to avoid a blood sugar spike, years of which can lead to insulin resistance and put you at risk of Type II Diabetes – but to help you maintain energy levels while you’re exercising, or even during the day if you eat one of these as a breakfast bar. Once reason I don’t eat any cereal other than whole oat porridge is because I was tired and hungry within an hour or two. Just ask Ev what I get like when my blood sugar drops… very grumpy 🙂

Notes:

  1. Use pure maple syrup, which shouldn’t have any extra sugars or sweeteners in there that could potentially elicit a FM reaction.
  2. I used raw nuts and seeds but you could use roasted for a little extra crunch.
  3. Strawberries are a FODMAP suitable fruit, with fructose concentration of 3.0g/100g and a glucose concentration of 3.1g/100g. Monash University lists them as safe.
  4. Most seeds are safe in moderate amounts, however they can affect some people because they are high in fibre. These bars will pack a caloric punch – they are intended for workout/hiking food, not for dieters – so you won’t need more than a single serving, anyway.
  5. Almonds have been listed by some as higher in FODMAPs, so to play it safe I excluded them.
  6. You could add in a quarter cup of dried cranberries if you can tolerate them – just watch for any juices used to sweeten them.
  7. Nuts are not safe for dogs, so please don’t share them with your furry hiking buddies.
  8. If you want a nut free version, simply remove the nuts and then add in the same volume of seeds. I still wouldn’t be sharing them with your dogs, though. We normally take chicken jerky for the dogs when we go hiking, as well as extra water.

The recipe is over on Yummly’s blog, please head over and have a look! I like to eat these as a breakfast bar with plain yoghurt and some berries. They are quite filling and keep me going until lunch time. Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

WP_20131007_013

WP_20131008_005

IMG_4081 IMG_4082

Advertisements

Hedgehog Slice – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

IMG_2123

During my two years of VCE – years 11 and 12 of secondary school in Victoria – I swear I kept the canteen running from my addiction to Hedgehog Slices. Jam doughnuts were a close second. Very close. This dwindled out when I started my B. Science and Monash Uni’s Cafe Cinque Lire had ah-MAZING citrus tarts. Seriously amazeballs. It made 8 am starts with 2 hours of biology and chemistry bearable – I wasn’t to know that, by 2nd year physiotherapy, 2 hours was a walk in the park; try 5 hours. However, when I moved to Melbourne Uni to start my physiotherapy degree, Thresherman’s Bakehouse near Lygon St had cheap and delicious custard tarts.

You can tell I’m a bit of a pastry fan 🙂

After moving to Seattle and having to deal with not only HFCS – for those of you back home in Australia it’s corn syrup that has been chemically altered to change over half of its glucose to fructose – but an increase in my sensitivity to wheat as well, I had to cut baked goods from my life unless they were homemade. Combine this with the fact that I haven’t even seen a hedgehog slice in the US, last summer I decided it was high time that I made my all-time favourite slice.

Notes:

  1. This contains coconut. While coconut is no longer listed as a FODMAP by Monash University, some people are sensitive for other reasons. I use unsweetened desiccated coconut.
  2. The biscuits used can either be store bought GF/FF plain biscuits – think Arnott’s Marie biscuits from Aus – or roll the almond meal pastry mixture flat onto a baking tray and completely blind bake it to form plain biscuits which can then be crumbled and used instead.
  3. A serving of 20 almonds or more is considered high in FODMAPs. If you limit yourself to one or two pieces of this, you should be right, unless you are particularly sensitive to GOS’s.
  4. Butter could be replaced with the same amount of coconut butter.
  5. Although I use dark chocolate and cocoa powder, which has less lactose than milk chocolate, be aware that this might cause a reaction in those who are sensitive to lactose.
  6. This mixture uses raw eggs. They are added to the hot butter mixture, so they will cook but not at length in an oven. To be safe, I would say this is not safe for consumption by pregnant women or infants. If you can tolerate it, condensed milk would provide the same binding properties that eggs would. Just be sure that, if you buy the sweetened version, you know what it is sweetened with.
  7. The original recipe called for 1tbsp. dark rum, instead of maple syrup. You can swap it back if you’d like.

Hedgehog Slice

Adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s, ‘The Cook’s Companion’ to be FF/GF.

Slice Base

  • 350-375 g/12.5-13 oz GF/FF Arnott’s Marie style biscuits or almond meal pastry biscuits.
  • 100 g/3.5 oz chopped walnuts
  • 125 g/4.5 oz unsalted butter
  • 3/4 – 1 cup dextrose/castor sugar – dextrose isn’t as sweeet as sucrose so more might be necessary to your taste
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder – I’m a chocaholic so I add the 1/2 cup
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten or approx. 1/3 cupcondensed milk for an egg free version, you can add more later if necessary

Chocolate Icing

  • 130 g/4.6 oz dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup – optional
  • 50 g/1.75 oz unsalted butter or coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut to top, more if you wish

Grease a baking tray’s base and sides and set aside – should be around 20 cm/8 in square with edges but if it’s a little bigger, like mine was, don’t worry.

Put the biscuits in a marinade bag and smash them with a rolling pin. You want chunks, not powder, so don’t crush them too much. It’s very cathartic, so I recommend making this if you’re angry – chocolate and stress release in one!

IMG_2081

Melt butter and dextrose until well combined, then add in the cocoa powder and mix until completely smooth. Add in the lightly beaten eggs or condensed milk and mix until smooth once more.

IMG_2089

At this point, you can either let the mixture cool before adding the biscuits and walnuts, or mix them in anyway – it will just mean the mixture takes longer to set later on. If you feel more condensed milk is necessary (i.e. the mixture is too dry) add it now.

Once the dry and wet ingredients are mixed though, you can press them into the greased tin you prepared earlier. Condense the height and even it out with a spatula. I only had a large baking tray and it worked without any issues.

IMG_2102

To prepare the icing, melt the dark chocolate, butter and maple syrup (or rum) in a double boiler until smooth and creamy. Pour over the slightly cooled base, being careful if you used a bigger pan than necessary, as I did. You don’t want to lose the icing on the uncovered portion of the baking tray.

IMG_2101

Sprinkle with as much shredded desiccated coconut as you’d like and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting them into 5 cm/2 inch squares.

IMG_2111

These are best made the day before eating, so they can really firm up in the fridge.  Store them in the fridge for no more than a week, due to all the dairy and the potentially uncooked eggs.  They go really well with a cup of Earl Grey tea. Enjoy! And if you use the condensed milk option, let me know how the slice turned out.

IMG_2124

Fruit Free Paleo Muesli Bars – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

IMG_3724

After getting fed up with the lack of fructose friendly and healthy options for scroggin (trail mix for you non-Aussies) and muesli bars, I decided to look into making my own. I didn’t know that “candy” even went into trail mix until I moved to Seattle and all of a sudden M&Ms etc. were in the bags as well! Delicious but really only necessary for LONG hikes.

I find muesli bars to be preferable to a pack of trail mix for a couple of reasons:

  1. They are easier to eat and you’re much less likely to split the bag of trail mix and lose it all over the forest floor.
  2. I find it easier to portion them, so I don’t end up scoffing too much too soon. They are also more filling for me, for some reason. I’m not sure why.

The problem is, most muesli bar recipes floating around the net use honey or agave syrup and lots and lots of dried fruits. Which is great if you don’t have FM… not so good if you do. I can’t think of anything worse than getting “fructosed” on a long hike and reacting – we don’t need more info, do we? – half way up a mountain with nothing but trees to hide behind. It would be, to say the least, “unpleasant.”

Would you want to get stuck up here after being fructosed? I wouldn't! The nearest drop toilet was almost 10km away.

Bails and me above Snow Lake in WA, USA. Would you want to get stuck up here after being fructosed? I wouldn’t! The nearest “restroom,” if you could call it that, was almost 10km away.

I decided that the following recipe would be grain free, because even though a little blood sugar spike while exercising isn’t the end of the world – compared to, say, if you were just sitting on your behind watching the telly – it is always better to have a nice, even supply of blood glucose, which is easier to provide with lower GI foods. There will be some syrup involved here for flavour – as I said, exercise will control the potential blood sugar spike – but it’s only 1/2 cup spread out over the entire recipe, rather than the syrup and over a cup of grains. Plus, I know a lot of you also eat gluten free and hey, I aim to please.

Notes:

  1. I found it hard to find solid information on pumpkin and sunflower seeds – I never want to tell you guys anything that might make you sick – but I finally found dry roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds on the USDA’s nutrition website and the Monash App states that both pumpkin and dry roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds are safe.
  2. Sunflower seeds are a great source of nutrition: linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), dietary fibre, vitamins E/B group, phytosterols (to lower cholesterol) and protein. Protein is important, especially right after exercising, to help repair muscle damage caused by exertion. You can eat the hulls if you wish but they are “roughage,” so don’t eat too much. There is only a quarter cup in this entire recipe so it shouldn’t cause any issues if you leave the hulls on but you can buy a hulled version and use those instead if you wish.
  3. As far as almonds are concerned, the USDA’s website states that they have a glucose concentration of 0.17g/100g and a fructose concentration of 0.11g/100g – and sucrose present in a concentration of 3.95g/100g. However, they do appear to contain oligosaccharides – fructans or GOS’s aren’t specified – but a serving of > 20 almonds might become problematic. Each bar shouldn’t contain more than that but if you know you are sensitive to almonds then sub in a different flour or meal in its place. Rice flour or corn meal would work well but they are not Paleo, if that matters to you.
  4. Make sure you use pure maple syrup, which doesn’t have any other sugars or sweeteners added in, which will both cook differently and potentially cause a reaction. Again, reactions are not good when you’re over 10km from the nearest loo and there isn’t much in the way of safe space to the side of the trail.
  5. I know that real maple syrup can be very expensive in Australia – lucky me, living 3 hours from the border with Canada! Golden syrup – made from cane sugar, so f=g – would replicate the flavours and texture best but rice syrup might also work. If you can, add in a drop of maple syrup. Also, I’m assuming rice syrup would make it un-paleo.
  6. Nuts are bad for dogs, so please don’t share these with your four-legged hiking buddies.

Fruit Free Paleo “Muesli” Bars

Makes 15 bars, at approximately 215 calories each.

  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut – shredded
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted sunflower seeds – hulled or unhulled is your choice, see above
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts – or almonds, pecans etc
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup almond/peanut/coconut butter – or some sort of lipid-based ingredient; the amount will depend on which you choose but start small
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Line a square, oven safe dish with baking paper. I use my 9″ x 9″ cake tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

Combine the almond meal, desiccated coconut shreds, baking powder, nut butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

IMG_3712

Next, add in the chunkier ingredients – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chopped walnuts – and mix until well combined. The mixture should be moist enough to retain a hand print but not dripping with syrup. You will most likely need to get your hands dirty here to mix the seeds through thoroughly – it’s like making mud pies for adults… that are edible.

IMG_3713 IMG_3714

Pour the mixture into your lined baking dish and press it into the corners until its level is even across its surface. Wet your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick to you like glue. Flatten out the surface with the back of a spoon or spatula that you ran under water for a second – again to stop sticking.

IMG_3716

Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C, then turn the oven off and leave them in for a further 5-10 minutes. Remove them, then let cool completely – for a few hours – before you slice it or it might crumble. I sliced it into 15 bars but you could do more or less if you wanted.

IMG_3717

These would also be great as a breakfast bar for busy weekday mornings, or school lunches for both little and big kids; they are sweet enough to taste the flavour from the maple syrup but without giving you a sugar headache. Wack some plain yoghurt on the plate next to it and a fructose friendly fruit serving and voila – nutrition with a low GI.

IMG_3720

They passed the hand-held test, so you can walk and eat if necessary without these tasty bars crumbling everywhere.

IMG_3721

They look like they’re made for hiking. Well, they kind of were! Pity I don’t have a back yard to take some “hiking” photos in.

IMG_3723

My next muesli bar attempt – who knows if it will be successful – will aim to use white rice flour in place of almonds, for those of you who can’t tolerate them. I will probably add some dried cranberries into this one, as well.

Huckleberry Slice – Low Fructose & Gluten Free

IMG_3462

Huckleberries are pretty exclusive to the Pacific Northwest and few months back I was lucky enough to inherit a bag of frozen huckleberries that a friend had picked last summer but couldn’t take with her when she moved back to Georgia. I say lucky, because they grow in mountainous regions and are usually handpicked. They look like mini blueberries and (to me) taste like blueberries with a citrus twist.

They had been sitting in the freezer since March and they were really beginning to bug me. Why wasn’t I proactive enough to thaw them out and actually do something with them? We have a tiny freezer, well in proportion with our “closet kitchen” and space is precious with a capital P.

Finally I decided what I would do: when we were back in Australia this Easter, my little sister made me a raspberry slice that she very kindly altered to be fructose friendly. It was delicious, and I especially liked the almond meal base.

I figured that huckleberries, with their slight citrus tang, would go nicely with the maple syrup in the almond meal slice. Not knowing the recipe that Lisa used, I altered my almond meal pastry recipe slightly to suit.

Almond Slice Base

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 4 tbsp. coconut butter/unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 egg

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F. Hand or stand mix all of the above ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Adjust the mixture with more almond meal if it’s too runny or more maple syrup or butter if it’s too dry. It should be tacky and easily moldable – not dry/crumbly or too sloppy.

Line a 9″ square cake pan/casserole dish with baking paper and press the mixture evenly across the dish and into the corners.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until it is slightly firm to the touch.

Huckleberry Topping

  • 2 cups huckleberries (or other berries of your choice, fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup shredded desiccated coconut – swap for slivered nuts of your choice if coconut is problematic for you

Simmer the berries and maple syrup for 20-30 minutes, until the berries have burst, let their juices out and the mixture has begun to thicken. You could cheat a little here and add some corn starch dissolved in a tsp. of water but we don’t want starchy flavours in this.

Pour the mixture on top of the semi-baked slice base and top with the shredded coconut/slivered nuts. Return to the oven and continue baking for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven when topping is slightly firmed and then allow it to cool. The slice will continue to firm up with cooling and is best eaten after at least 3-4 hours. You could eat it straight away, of course – but you’ll probably require a spoon.

Here is the slice post baking.

IMG_3455

Serving it is as easy as letting it cool then slicing it into 2.5 x 5 cm sections and plating them up.

IMG_3458

The edge pieces were nearly all stained dark blue but the inner pieces had a clear definition between slice base and topping.

IMG_3459

Enjoy with freshly whipped cream, ice cream, vanilla bean custard, tea or coffee. Once sliced, these would also make a handy and nutritious snack on the go or a morning tea to have at work/school.

IMG_3461

Sour Cream Pastry – gluten free & fructose friendly

The following is a good all round gluten free (GF) pastry, the best I have come across so far. I would be happy to know of anyone else’s favourite wheat free pastry recipes.

GF Sour Cream Pastry:

This recipe is adapted from Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry recipe to make it fructose friendly/GF and a little sweeter. From the following I was able to get six smaller tarts and one large tart base. To make it with wheat flour, just substitute normal plain flour for the GF plain flour and omit the xantham gum.

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F

  • 120 ml sour cream (do not use all of it if unnecessary)
  • 250 g GF plain flour
  • 1 tspn. xantham gum
  • 3 tbsp. icing sugar (for sweet pastry)
  • 200 g unsalted butter, chilled

Sift the flour and xantham gum (and the optional sugar) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Dice the butter into small cubes and add to flour mix. Blend until the butter has combined with the flour and the mixture resembles bread crumbs. I like to use the paddle attachment of my stand mixer rather than the whisk/beater attachment.

While mixing, add the sour cream gradually until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. It should be tacky but not sticking to your fingers. I’m sorry but I forgot to take photos of this step. Wrap the dough tightly in glad wrap and refrigerate it for approx. 20 minutes before working with it. Try and keep handling of the dough to a minimum, or the butter will begin to melt. If this happens, re-wrap the dough and place it in the fridge for another 5 minutes to chill it and begin again. When the pastry warms up it becomes increasingly fragile and harder to work with. 

Place the unwrapped ball onto a GF floured bench and knead for 30 seconds. Half of this recipe will be enough for one large 9″ tart pan/pie dish and the other half can be divided into six smaller 5-6″ tart pans or frozen for later use – just make sure that it is well wrapped and you may need to add a little extra sour cream when you thaw it out to add more moisture. 

Cut off enough pastry for one pan. Roll the pastry between two layers of wax paper (to prevent sticking) until it is about 3mm thick. GF pastry can be temperamental and fragile. Peel off one side of the wax paper, then replace it loosely; flip the dough over and remove the other sheet of wax paper and place the dough side down on your lightly floured hands. The remaining sheet of wax paper should just lift off and then you can carefully transfer the pastry into the awaiting pan. Spray your dishes with olive oil to assist with pastry removal later on.

At this point, I like to freeze the pastry for about 10 minutes before blind baking it. Then, I add baking paper and ceramic baking balls (a brand new purchase, before this I used rice grains) to prevent bubbling while baking and bake it at 200 C for 10 minutes. Set a timer. Remove the baking paper and whichever pie weights you chose to use and return the pastry to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When it is golden brown, it is time to remove it. If I was making a pecan pie, I would only return the pastry to the oven for 5 minutes the second time but because the filling does not need to be baked, the pastry must be fully cooked before it is filled.

You could also use this pastry for sausage rolls or hand pies.

Pre-baking

After 10 minutes of blind baking – if you are baking your filling, add it at this point

After 20 minutes of blind baking the crusts are golden and fully cooked