Diet, food, food allergy, recipe

My five top gluten & dairy-free sweet treats for 2014

Can you believe we’re nearly at the end of 2014? If you’re looking for some Christmas baking recipes well you may find them here.

I’ve just been perusing some of my recipe blog stats between seeing patients today and here are my top 5 sweet treat recipes from this year. They are all gluten and dairy free too. Click on the names for the recipes.

  1. Chocolate beetroot cakechoc-beet cake slice
  2. Almond, ginger & blueberry sliceginger almond blueberry slice plate
  3. Carrot & goji berry cakecarrot and goji cake
  4. Chocolate cream-filled biscuitschoc cream biscuits gift box
  5. Orange, macadamia and dark chocolate biscuitsorange macadamia chocolate biscuits tray

Enjoy!

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

food, food allergy, recipe

Orange, macadamia & dark chocolate biscuits (dairy & gluten free)

orange macadamia chocolate biscuitsToday I’m sharing with you a real treat. One of my favourite biscuit recipes that I have been baking for years.

These biscuits just about melt in your mouth. They are just so… yum.

I make them with brown rice flour (why not increase the fibre whenever you can) and the sweeteners I’ve used are coconut palm sugar and a caster sugar/stevia combo. I like to bake without dairy but if you want to substitute the fat for butter go right ahead.

This recipe also makes a bumper batch of about 36 biscuits (depending on how big you roll them). They disappear surprisingly quickly so you need about 36 I reckon!

Orange, macadamia & dark chocolate biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dairy free butter alternative
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar/stevia blend (or 1/2 cup caster sugar)
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
  • zest of one orange
  • 120g dark chocolate (I use 85%) chopped into little chips
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of uncrystallised ginger, chopped, optional (it’s very good)

orange macadamia chocolate ingredients

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease two large biscuit trays.
  3. Beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined.
  5. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt until combined well.
  6. Add orange zest, chopped chocolate, macadamia nuts and uncrystallised ginger. Mix well until all of the flavourings are evenly distributed through the dough. orange macadamia chocolate mixture
  7. Roll into heaped teaspoonfuls and place on biscuit trays.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Allow to sit on try for a minute or so, before transferring to a wire rack. orange macadamia chocolate biscuits tray

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

emotional health, food, food allergy, recipe

For the love of chocolate

I've made this several times and this is the best photo I have so it'll just have to do!
I’ve made this several times and this is the best photo I have so it’ll just have to do!

A great friend who I have not seen in a very long time texted me yesterday and said she had a dream where the two of us found a secret stash of chocolate. Ah! The perfect dream.

So, it’s Valentine’s Day.

Which has really become a commercial occasion – but hey, it’s still nice to celebrate love. So instead of buying some sort of generic gift, why not make your loved ones a chocolate heart from your secret stash? There’s nothing like presenting a chocolate heart with a blunt knife to someone close to you and saying “go on, break my heart.”

I found the basic idea for the chocolate heart in a book and adapted it a little for a gathering I was going to – it was my job to bring a finger-food style dessert. And then, a stroke of genius hit me: instead of pouring the melted chocolate into a boring old square tin, why not use a heart shaped one? It was a hit. Even with the non-chocoholics in the group. (Yes, there is such a thing as a non-chocoholic apparently.)

So here’s the recipe. It’s not dairy-free if you use the small amount of white chocolate – so vary the types of chocolate as you wish. The white chocolate just makes it look pretty but definitely is not essential.

Two things I will say is:

  • Use fair trade chocolate – it’s worth paying the real price for what it costs to produce ethical chocolate,
  • And, good quality dark chocolate has quite a few health benefits when eaten in moderation.

The Chocolate Heart

Ingredients:

  • 300g dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa & dairy-free)
  • 1 cup of mixed fruits and nuts (I used crystallised ginger, toasted blanched almonds, dried blueberries and goji berries)
  • 100g white chocolate

Method:

  1. Line a heart-shaped tin (or whatever shape you’d prefer – about 15-20cm²) with plastic wrap. Make sure to have as few creases in the wrap as is possible.
  2. Melt dark chocolate (70% +) in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently steaming water. (Make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl).
  3. When melted, mix fruit and nuts into the dark chocolate.
  4. Pour chocolate mix into the prepared tin.
  5. In another bowl, melt the white chocolate.
  6. When melted, spoon the white chocolate on top of dark chocolate in the tin and muddle it with a skewer to create a marbled effect.
  7. Refrigerate for an hour or so until set.
  8. Peel the plastic wrap away to serve.
  9. You will end up with a thick block of fruit and nut chocolate. Serve it on a wooden board with a blunt knife to break it up.

Happy Valentines Day! May you all enjoy a piece of  broken heart. 🙂

And as a side note, if you are struggling with a real broken heart you might like to read this.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Choc-chilli cookies: gluten & dairy free

choc-chilli cookiesOn my last curry night I made two desserts featuring spices sometimes used in curry: cardamom coconut cake and chilli-choc cookies.

The cookies tasted like a delicious chocolate biscuit followed with a chilli burn. Not for the faint-hearted. Although, you can always just decrease the chilli if it’s not your thing. It is my thing – I love the chilli sizzle. And chocolate and chilli are a match made in heaven. I am also a big fan of chilli chocolate chai.

Chilli has many uses in Chinese Medicine dietetics. Used fresh it can warm you up to the point of breaking a sweat, which then actually has a cooling effect on the body.This is an excellent treatment for the early stages of a common cold – we call it releasing the exterior. Think about the effect of a spicy vietnamese soup (pho). Dried chilli has a warmer action (and if you don’t use it in sweat producing quantities) it can be an excellent spice to use to warm you up on cold days. Think about soups, casseroles and curries.

But for now, the cookie recipe. I converted this wonderful recipe I found over to be gluten and dairy-free, adapted the sweeteners and added a ginger centrepiece to each cookie.

Choc-chilli cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder added
  • 20g cocoa
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (you can increase or decrease this)
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 50g butter or dairy-free alternative
  • 50g maple syrup
  • Uncrystallised ‘naked‘ ginger, cut into square slices

Method 

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grease two baking trays.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, bicarb and chilli powder.  Mix well.
  4. Add butter in spoonfuls and rub through with fingers until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Add sugar and stir through.
  6. Add maple syrup and combine. You may need your hands for this.
  7. Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll into small balls and place on greased baking trays. Leave adequate room for cookies to expand in the oven. Flatten slightly. Poke a slice of ginger into the top of each biscuit.choc-chilli cookies uncooked
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Transfer to cooling rack after they have been out of the oven for 5 minutes.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chocolate strawberry tart – gluten & dairy free

During a cooking disaster one must remember this!

Last weekend I tried out a dish I have been curious about for ages. It was one of those chocolate avocado tarts that the vegans and raw food enthusiasts of the interweb claim to be as good as chocolate mousse. I’m neither vegan nor a raw foodie but am interested in dairy-free chocolate alternatives.

A found a recipe for one in a book I had at home which claimed it “had gained a reputation” in the town in which the author lived. Sounded like a winner.

This tart was to be consumed at a Saturday night gathering of some of my dearest acupuncture friends. And I have to say that the original chocolate avocado mix was a disaster! It tasted just as appetising as chocolate mixed with avocado sounds. So with much tinkering I resurrected it into the tart you find here. Still not confident that this was up-to-scratch to serve to my foodie health professional friends I considered swinging past the local shops for an emergency offering of a box of chocolates, just in case but ran out of time. I was lucky that being August in Queensland we have an abundance of fresh strawberries, some of which had been sold to me in a big punnet the day before at the clinic, fresh from the farm. These would have to do.

The funny thing was that everyone at the gathering had experienced either cooking or take-away food disasters (which all turned out well in the end) for the food brought along that night. I wasn’t alone.

The tart once significantly tinkered with, refridgerated, then popped into the freezer briefly, decorated with strawberries and topped with toasted shredded coconut was actually quite popular. I was shocked and relieved. A comment was even made that if I hadn’t mentioned that avocado was an ingredient they would not have been able to tell.

Being a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, I couldn’t resist including (un)crystallised ginger to the base and ground cinnamon and ginger to the chocolate mix to enhance the digestibility, warmth and balance to what is essentially a very cold, rich, yin-style dessert.

So here you go, the significantly-tinkered-with-recipe that was almost a disaster but turned out to be quite delicious in the end (as pictured):

Chocolate strawberry tart

Strawberry chocolate tart webIngredients:

Base:

Filling:

  • 150g  organic, fair trade dark chocolate (70-85%)
  • 4 small avocados
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter (I used almond, brazil and cashew nut butter)
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Topping:

  • Large punnet of fresh strawberries, sliced.
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Method:

  1. Grease a tart dish.
  2. Gently toast almonds and coconut until golden in pan.
  3. Add to food processor and blend. Add dates and ginger pieces to almonds and coconut. Blend until mixture sticks together. Add some extra dates if mixture is not sticky enough.
  4. Add mixture to tart dish and spread evenly over base and sides, using your clean fist to press mixture down firmly. Put aside.
  5. Melt chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.
  6. Blend avocados in clean food processor until smooth. Add in melted chocolate, nut butter, maple syrup, ginger and cinnamon, blend until mixed well.
  7. Spoon chocolate avocado mix into tart base and smooth on top.
  8. Refridgerate until 30 minutes prior to serving.
  9. Gently toast shredded coconut until golden. Remove from pan and set aside for topping.
  10. Place tart in freezer for 30 minutes then top with sliced fresh strawberries and toasted shredded coconut.

If you so desire, you may serve this tart with cream (or a dairy-free substitute) with a touch of cointreau.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, food allergy, recipe

Choc-ginger-hazelnut biscuits

choc ginger hazelnut biscuitsThis weekend just gone I wanted to work through a few ingredients that were floating around in my pantry taking up space. It gave me the perfect opportunity to test run these rich and chewy chocolate almond cookies with a few of my own modifications. All of the ingredients I already had at home and the whole recipe took about 20 minutes from prep to eating time.

For the chocoholics among us, sometimes you need something on hand for a chocolate fix to prevent you from reaching that bit too often for those high sugar, low quality, impulse buy chocolates on offer. You need something with more protein, higher fibre and the option to control the sugar content that still hits the spot! These little biscuits do the job nicely in next to no time and with minimal washing up to do. Win-win!

Ginger is an excellent digestive herb and enhances digestion of the rich nut and cocoa ingredients. I could eat ginger with just about anything – read more about my thoughts on ginger and its many uses here.

Choc-ginger-hazelnut biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar/stevia blend (or 1/2 cup sugar or suitable sugar substitute)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons dark choc chips (dairy-free if desired)
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallised ginger

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line or grease two baking trays.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Add egg whites and vanilla extract to dry ingredients, stir until mixture has an even consistency.
  4. Add choc chips and ginger, mix through.
  5. Roll dessertspoonfuls into balls and flatten with a fork on baking trays.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool on baking tray.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.