Nutty banana-fig bread

My tryst with low-carb food has been going pretty well. Apart from the occasional spoon of sugar in my tea, I haven’t had the urge to splurge on high carb food. And after losing 12-15 lbs on this diet, I am a pretty happy camper. I recently ordered Kal brand Stevia and my first few experiences were bad. It made everything super-sweet! But then I realized that I needed to know exactly how to use it. For my first baking experience, I tried an almond flour plum bread, which in the end was weirdly sweet and had a pudding consistency. Thankfully it wasn’t so bad that I had to throw it away. For my second baking experiment, I wanted to make a banana bread and this time I was determined to use less stevia. Surprise! It’s so good, just like normal moist banana bread. This banana bread is low-carb and you can’t even tell 😀 I did cheat a little bit with the chocolate chunks. Next time around I will substitute those with homemade sugar free chocolate chunks.

Ingredients:

5 small overripe bananas

6 Calimyrna figs (I used the ones available in a container at Trader Joes)

3 eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla essence/extract

1/4 tsp stevia (appx. 1/2 cup sugar equivalent, or more if you like it sweeter)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville) (Substitute 1 1/2 cups regular all purpose flour/maida for all of you high-carb people out there!)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup walnuts, broken into pieces

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Put bananas, figs, eggs, vanilla, stevia and oil in a food processor. Pulse ingredients together until completely mixed.

Add the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Pulse everything again until well blended.

Pour batter into a greased 7.5″x3.5″ bread loaf pan and put the nuts and chocolate chips on the top. Shake the pan to make sure the batter is evenly distributed.

Bake it in the pre-heated oven for appx. 55-60 mins. Keep an eye on it after 40-45 mins and cover it with foil, if you think it’s getting too dark on the top. I baked mine on the middle shelf and I didn’t have to cover it.

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 -15 mins before  turning it out and cooling it completely, right side up.

Bon Appetit! I have already eaten two slices since I baked it 😀

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Tiramisu

I made tiramisu this past week in time for my birthday 🙂 I’d never made it before so I thought I’d try it out. I try not to make desserts on a regular basis simply because it’s so high in calories, but I thought it was OK to cheat on the diet for my birthday 🙂 After all it just comes once a year, right? Since I had no trusted recipe, I decided to go out on a limb and try one posted on Allrecipes. I omitted the liquer, but kept everything else – the mascarpone cheese and the ladyfingers are a must. It actually turned out pretty well. To top it, it isn’t very complicated either. No more buying tiramisu from the store now 🙂

One VERY important caveat to keep in mind is that the tiramisu needs to be kept in the fridge for at least 24 hours so that the flavors can marinate and seep in. If you eat it the same day, it doesn’t taste good. In fact, it doesn’t taste good at all. And the effort and money spent to make it seems like a waste. It’s best to make it a day or two before you have to eat it.

Ingredients:

3 egg yolks

2/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature

24 soft ladyfinger cookies

1/2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

While the custard is chilling, keep a medium bowl and the beaters in the freezer. Remove the utensils from the freezer after an hour.

Beat the cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Keep it aside.

Whisk the mascarpone cheese into the custard mixture until smooth.

Put the coffee in a tall coffee cup. The next step is to soak the ladyfingers in coffee. I’ve heard that there are two kinds of ladyfingers available in the market. I found the soft ones and so used those. If you find the hard cookies, you might want to figure out how to soak the cookies. They should not get too soggy, that’s the tricky part. What I did was to quickly dunk the cookies in lengthwise and then turn them over upside down so that the coffee completely covered the cookie. If at all I felt it was too soggy, I carefully squeezed the coffee out. Be very careful in this step. I also found that it was easy to lay the cookies in the dish you want to use and then brush coffee over the cookies. It’s actually much, much easier and I will be using this strategy the next time I make tiramisu (which will not be any time before Christmas 🙂

Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7×4 inch dish. Make sure you use a dish with higher edges. Mine was about 1.5 inches high and it was quite a task to try and put in two layers. Spread half of the mascarpone custard mixture over the ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.

I had a little more left after filling up the rectangular dish. I actually arranged  whatever was left in another little 3-4 inch bowl. While doing this I mixed the mascarpone mixture with the whipped cream and continued to layer it with the coffee-soaked ladyfinger cookies. While there were just two layers in this bowl, it was much easier, faster and in my opinion, tastier!

I should have taken the pictures before I proceeded to cut it 😦 I know it doesn’t look very pretty, but the taste was heavenly 🙂

Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, but I have good reason. For one, I was busy packing to move to DC. Secondly, I have found out in the past few weeks that I need to change my food habits. Due to my sluggish thyroid I need to eat low carb food and low GI food too. Since then I have been on the lookout for all kinds of food that my body can process well. This search has led me to look at various recipes online and in books. It also means that I cannot eat something I used to eat very often – rice. I have now started making rotis or chapatis (Indian unleavened whole-wheat bread) more often and we eat them with various meats and vegetables.

I have also tried to eat more fruit and go easy on dessert. It has worked for a few days, but then my sweet tooth got the better of me and I decided to bake something that would satisfy my craving and still not contain white flour. This is what I came up with – trust me, they are simply delish!! I made smaller cookies, so I could eat 1 or 2 and not feel guilty 🙂

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 stick or 1/2 cup butter, melted

1 egg

1/2 tbsp vanilla essence or extract

1/4 tsp baking soda

a pinch of salt

1 cup heaped whole wheat flour or chapati flour

1/4 cup walnuts cut into bite sized pieces

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl use a whip to cream together the melted butter , white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Make sure the brown sugar is not hard or lumpy (you can nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds and crumble it before adding it in.)

Add in the egg and mix well.

Stir in the vanilla essence, baking soda and salt until well blended and then add in the walnuts. Add flour and chocolate chips last. Mix well enough to make a dough, but don’t over mix.

Bake in the oven for about 10-15 mins. (I didn’t have to bake them for more than 12 mins – each oven is different though so keep a watch after 10 mins.)

The dough was not of dropping consistency so I tried making them two ways. I took small golf sized balls and rolled them between my hands and then pressed them slightly into 1.5 inch circles to get some shape. They ended up looking like little cookies. For another batch I used a spoon to drop the dough onto the pan in little lumps. Both of them taste really good. They made about 25-30 small cookies. My sweet tooth is very excited at the moment. I have promised myself not to overeat though, especially after I have seen the weigh scale dip since I last stepped on it 🙂 Enjoy!!

P.S. Sorry about the pictures, it’s a real cloudy day here in Arlington, VA 😦