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Category: winter

Paleo Almond-Chestnut Crusty Bread

I attempted making this bread the other day and it sort of flopped. Some of you may recall my post on Facebook. The bread looked great and tasted great, but it turned out raw in the middle. It  just wouldn’t dry up in the oven. I think I was being overly ambitious by experimenting with combining these two “flours” and also adding fruit to the mixture.

So this time around, I kept it simple, which oftentimes is better. This recipes works! I love the flavour and the texture. You may want to adjust for sweetness, although I find it perfectly balanced for my palate. The crust is hard and “crusty” and the inside is tender, but doesn’t fall apart like with other Paleo loaf breads I’ve made the in the past. In fact, so far, it’s the closest thing to “real” bread that I’ve made!

Because the dough must be kneaded and is dry, it could be shaped and made to look like a baguette or a traditional bread. However, I made it in a loaf pan (8×4). For a higher bread, I recommend a slightly small pan.



  • 150g (1 3/4 cups) chestnut flour
  • 200g (2 cups) ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Grease and line with parchment paper a loaf pan.
  3. Mix the chestnut flour, ground almonds, sea salt and soda. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add the olive oil and honey and mix well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. With your hands, knead the dough about 3-4 minutes, until completely combined.
  6. Spoon and flatten into the prepared loaf pan and drizzle with some olive oil over top.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 180C.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 150C and bake an additional 20 minutes.
  9. Allow to completely cool before cutting.

Note: Inserting a toothpick into this bread does not work, as it will come out clean even if the center is still undercooked. That was my mistake with the first attempt.

Chestnut-Rosemary Tart or Pan

Growing up, I used to hate eating chestnuts. It’s very typical in Spain to eat them raw or roasted on the fire; and it’s a traditional scene during the fall and winter to see the vendors with their roasting carts on the streets selling roasted chestnuts and other goodies. I did and still do love the smell of roasted chestnuts… it symbolises the beginning of autumn and the beautiful holiday season to come.

And to-day, I actually love to eat them, especially when they are vapor-cooked and so sweet. (I’m still not keen about the raw ones…) And now, I have discovered chestnut flour! My mother says there used to be a lot of desserts and dishes that were made in Southern Spain with chestnut flour. But I’ve never knowingly tried anything nor made anything with it before. But during the Christmas holidays, I stole a number of recipes from my mother’s collection (Mama… remember the recipe of the wilted kale you were asking for the other day…well, I DO have it ;-)).

The other day, I tried experimenting with chestnut flour and almond flour together to make some breakfast bread; and although the flavour was really good, the texture was not quite right. But while I’m still working on perfecting that recipe (to share with all of you), I was intrigued by this one and can’t rave enough about it!

This tart below is de-li-cious!!! Don’t be tempted to add any sweetener (until you make it at least once), as it has just the perfect sweet combination with the sultanas and the chestnut flour, which is quite sweet on its own. Additionally, for those of you with egg allergies or just wanting to make something without eggs, this is a perfect recipe to build upon! And the additional plus is that it is really, totally sugar or sweetener free!

CHESTNUT-ROSEMARY TART (or PAN, as it’s called in Spain)

Ingredients, for one 19cm or 7in diameter-tart (it comes out to about 3cm in height)

  • 150g chestnut flour
  • 250ml water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup sultana raisins (more if desired, up to 1/2 cup recommended for a sweeter tart)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • freshly ground rosemary (I used about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons)

ready for the oven


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease with some olive oil a small tart pan (19cm or 7in diameter). Set aside.
  2. In  a medium bowl, mix the chestnut flour, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt. Add the water, whilst whisking until smooth. The mixture will be quite liquid.
  3. Add the sultanas and mix well.
  4. Pour into the tart pan and sprinkle with pine nuts and some ground rosemary or rosemary sprigs over top.
  5. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over top.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Make it now, and I dare you to have just one piece! Enjoy!

*Just a side note about chestnuts: they are the highest alkaline producing nuts, are a good source of fiber, rich in Vitamin C, rich in folates (folic acid), they are a rich source of mono un-saturated fatty acids, are an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Plus, they contain a number of other Vitamin Bs. And of course, they are gluten free. I wish I would’ve like them more as a child, but now is not too late to start enjoying all their goodness.

**A note on variations possible: you can use other types of dried fruit, such as apricots or prunes instead of the raisins; also, you can use slivered almonds or coarsely ground almonds or another nut instead of the pine nuts. Other fresh or dried herbs can be used as well, such as thyme or oregano. Experiment depending on your taste buds and mood… and above all, have fun with this recipe!

Paleo Mango-Banana Tropical Mini Loafs with Coconut Icing – SABH

While Australia is sweltering, here in London we’ve had below zero temperatures and about three days of snow. But what does that have to do with this recipe? Well, I’m part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, which is hosted by Aussie bloggers, and this month’s theme is “Tropical Paradise”….very appropriate for the Australian summer. Not so much for where I currently live and shop for food. 😉 But I’m not complaining; the snow was gorgeous and having a few days of the beautiful white stuff was amazing and a lovely change of pace from the green and grey.

Anyway, back to the recipe. I wanted to make something truly exotic, since a lot of the recipes already on the hop contain mango. But there are not too many tropical fruits available in London this time of year, unless I went off to some Asian market on the other side of town… not happening in this cold. Plus, I have been back at work again with my graphic design and it was hard to even cook a regular meal.

These mini loafs, of course, can be made into a cupcakes/muffins or into a cake, if the recipe is doubled. I love the combination of the mango and banana, and wanted to add a slight touch of coconut with the icing and desiccated coconut on top as garnish. I hope you try them and enjoy as much as I have!



Ingredients, 5 mini loafs

  • 1 1/2 cups grounds almonds/almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 medium mango, peeled and cut into small squares
  • olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease the mini loaf pans with some olive oil or grease of choice.
  2. Combine all the ingredients, except the mango, and with a hand mixer beat until fully combined and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add the mango and beat again to incorporate.
  3. Pour the mixture into the loaf pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before drizzling with icing.

You can also pour into cupcake molds or double the recipe for a cake. For the cake, you’ll have to adjust the baking time.

Coconut-Honey Icing


  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons raw honey (to taste)
  • dessicated coconut flakes

(For the coconut oil: place a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. When you open it, the fatty/oil portion will be on the top, whilst the milk will be below. Scoop out the fat/oil that you need and mix the rest in with the milk.)

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the flakes, together with a whisk until smooth. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes for the mixture to set. Then drizzle over the mini loafs/cupcakes and sprinkle with coconut flakes as garnish.







A bit about Sweet Adventures Blog Hop

This month’s Sweet Adventure’s Blog Hop, SABH, is hosted by Dining With a Stud. For more information on the hop and to join, please visit her page and recipe here. And don’t forget to check out the delicious recipes below from the rest of the bloggers!


Sesame Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

Okay, I feel compelled to share this recipe with you, my readers and friends. It’s not that I wanted to keep it a secret; but I thought that something so simple just wasn’t worth writing about, and most importantly, is it worthy of your attention? Additionally, I want to start producing better photography and the picture I took last night are really not impressive…but I’m eating this dish for lunch today, as leftovers from last night’s dinner, which I do all the time, and it smells so delicious and tastes so good… that yes, I’ve convinced myself it’s worth it. Of course, you’ll be the tougher judge of that yourselves…


Ingredients, for 4

  • 1 large zucchini per person, or 2 medium ones (I actually ate 2 large on my own with this dish)
  • 750g chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, or julienne style
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • gluten-free and sugar-free soy sauce (I use Sanchi Tamari Soy Sauce – some strict Paleo may prefer to omit this or use Coco Aminos instead)
  • olive oil (or additional sesame oil, if preferred)
  • sesame oil
  • sesame seeds
  • sea salt, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C or 300F.
  2. Wash and peel the zucchini. With a spiral vegetable slicer, create zucchini noodles. (I happen to still be using my little Vietnamese kitchen utensil that does the job perfectly, since I haven’t yet purchased a spiral slicer.)
  3. Place a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet, and spread the noodles out on the paper. Sprinkle some sea salt over them. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  4. When ready, remove from oven and allow to slightly cool. They should be “al-dente”.
In the meantime:
  1. Wash and prepare all of the vegetables and the chicken.
  2. In a wok over medium to low heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides, cooking about 15-20 minutes and stirring frequently.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil and add the remaining vegetables. Stir fry until the vegetables are “al-dente” or to the texture of your liking.
  5. Sprinkle with soy sauce (I used about 1 tablespoon soy sauce) and sea salt, to taste.
To serve:
In a bowl, place enough noodles to cover about half (again, about 1 or 2 large zucchini worth of noodles). Spoon the chicken mixture over top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Paleo Caldo Verde

I grew up on Caldo Verde, which my mother learned to make in Portugal. The version we had at home is very similar to the first one I posted on the blog some time ago. But yesterday, I was feeling like I needed something different and yet wanted to enjoy more kale, which I always have on hand. I also had on hand some delicious and succulent Spanish cooking chorizo…so it was perfect timing to make Caldo Verde, but in a more traditional manner.

What I have changed to make this Paleo is substituting the cauliflower for the typical potatoes. If you prefer to make with potatoes instead, use 2-3 large ones, and eliminate the cauliflower. Although from my reading and research, potatoes can still be considered both Paleo and Primal, it’s more about the quantities one consumes of them and how they affect our bodies. On my Facebook page, I’ve posted a few articles from Mark’s Daily Apple, which explain the pros and cons of eating this tuber. I’m not obsessive with how I eat, but try to keep everything as healthy as possible, that means learning about my ingredients and taking into consideration how things affect me, my metabolism and my taste buds! I recommend doing the same for yourself… 😉


Ingredients, for 4

  • 250g of kale, cut julienne style (if you don’t have kale, watercress or the turnip greens will also work)
  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into medium to small florets
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Spanish cooking chorizo or pepperoni of choice
  • olive oil
  • water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In a large pot, place 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil to heat over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the florets of cauliflower and toss around a couple of times. Add enough water to cover the cauliflower completely. Add a large piece of chorizo, about 6 inches long to the mixture. Allow to cook for about 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is very soft.

Remove from heat and remove the chorizo from the pot.  With a hand mixer or mini pimer puree the cauliflower and the remaining ingredients. Place back on the stove, over medium heat, and add the sliced kale. Add more water to make the soup thin and watery (and make sure all of the kale is covered, as well). Cook for 15 minutes, until the kale is tender. Season to taste.

In the meantime, cut the cooked chorizo into 1mm slices. Serve the soup with pieces of chorizo and some extra pepper on top.


Beef & Butternut Squash Stew

Before leaving on our trip, I made sure our fridge was clean and mostly empty, except for a few vegetables that I knew would still be fresh when we returned. One of these vegetables is butternut squash, which I actually didn’t leave in the fridge and with which I cook a lot during the fall and winter months, as one can see in previous recipes.

Our vacation was a lot of fun and spent in the best company, my parents. 😉 Okay, I’m a bit biased, but we did have a great time. We enjoyed mostly warm and sunny weather in Florida and even had the opportunity to include some sports, beach and sightseeing. So, arriving on Monday to a chillier and very grey London was somewhat depressing. But one of the things that makes me happy is my kitchen and cooking… so I’m at it already.

Yesterday, I baked some “sourdough” grainfree bread, which is totally amazing (click here for the recipe) and made this stew for dinner.


Ingredients, for 4

  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 kilo stewing beef, cut into 5cm (1inch) chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 sprigs of Chinese spinach (optional)
  • 2 celery stalks (branch, not full bunch), chopped
  • 1/2 large butternut squash (approx 600-700g), cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • sea salt and black ground pepper, to taste
  • 12-15 “canned” artichoke hearts (we buy ours in Spain, and they come in a glass jar, not a can), cut in halves
  • zest of one lemon


In a large pot, add the olive oil, garlic and onions. Over medium heat, cook until the onion starts to become transparent, but not loose its colour. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add the white wine and cook for 3 minutes. Add water and remaining vegetables and spices. Simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the meat and squash are tender. (If you want a thicker sauce, add 3 cups of water instead.)

Remove from heat. Add the artichoke hearts and lemon zest and allow to sit 5-7 minutes before serving.

Grain-Free Sourdough Bread

I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions, first because I tend to not stick to them, and second because I tend to not stick to them…but one of my goals this year is to become a better food stylist and photographer. However my impatience seems to be getting in the way, at least in the first few days of the year. I’m so eager to share this incredible recipe with all of you, that I’m still making pictures with my iPhone, instead of my camera.

Last year, I had an excuse: my 5-year old computer was not working properly or uploading my pictures. But, as I received a lovely gift from my husband for Three Kings Day, a new computer, I really have no excuse.. except that I haven’t yet loaded my Adobe programs onto it. (I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m an impatient procrastinator.)

Therefore, here goes this post with photography of which I’m not so proud. The recipe is from Urban Poser and is absolutely delicious. I suggest to follow her recommendations on the size of the baking tin, as my loaf came out a bit flatter than hers since I used a slightly wider tin. (I’m already planning to purchase a new loaf pan just for this bread, in addition to using different nuts, such as chestnuts and almonds!)

I didn’t make any major alterations, except that I cultured the cashews on the countertop overnight instead of in the oven (which I was afraid to leave on all night and potentially cause a fire). Additionally, I did adjust the baking time due to the size of my loaf pan.


Ingredients, one loaf

  • 2 3/4 cups ground, raw cashews (I weighed out the 10oz of cashews required, ground them up and measured them in cups to make this recipe easier)
  • 4 oz water (1/2 cup)
  • 20-30 billion probiotic strains (I used the contents of two capsules of Ultimate Flora, each contains 15 billion Active Cultures)
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk, plus 1 teaspoon water for Egg Wash
  • olive oil or grease of choice

Recommended loaf tin should be 7.5 inches x 3.5 inches.


  1. For the “sourdough” starter: As I do not have a food processor, I used my Black & Decker blender. So, instead of grinding the cashews with the water together, I ground the cashews in small batches alone. The texture should be that of packaged ground almonds or almond flour.
  2. Once the cashews are all ground, pour into a small glass or ceramic (non reactive) bowl and add the 4 oz of water and the probiotic powder. Mix well with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick and gooey. Cover with a plastic cover to keep airtight.
  3. I cultured my mixture overnight (24 hours) on the countertop. The Urban Poser recommends a number of ways to culture the mixture. Please click here for her recipe and culturing ideas.
  4. When the culture is ready, preheat oven to 150C or 300F.
  5. Prepare the 7.5 x 3.5 inch pan by lightly greasing and lining it with parchment paper. Make sure the paper is long enough so that it flaps over all sides of the tin. Additionally, I greased the inside of the paper with a bit of olive oil.
  6. If your loaf pan is larger than this, you should double the recipe. The loaf pan should be 3/4 full of batter to achieve the height of a regular bread. (As this was my first time making this, I did not double the recipe; hence the thinner looking slices.)
  7. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the cashew mixture to a larger bowl.
  8. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the yolks and a tablespoon of water to the cashews. Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.
  9. If using the same hand mixer, wash, rinse thoroughly and dry the beaters. Before beating the egg whites, add the baking soda and salt to the cashew mixture and stir in well.
  10. Beat the egg whites, until soft peaks form. Do not over beat.
  11. Gently fold in the egg whites into the cashew mixture, until they are no longer visible.
  12. Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  13. Prepare the egg wash by mixing the egg yolk with the water.
  14. With a pastry brush, very gently brush the egg wash on top of the bread batter. (This gives the loaf a nice crusty finish.)
  15. Bake for 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out dry. (You may need to adjust baking time for the size of your loaf pan and if doubling the recipe.)
  16. At 40 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 180C or 375F and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the top is golden and crusty.
  17. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool before slicing.


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – Paleo

I’ve been very fortunate this holiday season for a number of reasons, primarily of course, my husband and I have been able to visit with my parents. We’ve enjoyed sharing a couple of weeks with them, doing lots of delicious home cooking and even visiting the Dali Museum in Tampa, Florida. My mother, husband and I are avid art enthusiasts, so it was a special treat for the three of us. My father doesn’t appreciate art so much, but was once again impressed by the Spanish artist’s works, many of which we had not seen in person before.

During our trip, I’ve also purchased a few new recipes books, including The Wheat Belly Cookbook, and as I am so eager to try out new things, I’ve already made two recipes, one of which I am sharing with you now. I’ve altered it a bit to accommodate my tastes, and all of us at home can vouch for their deliciousness! 😉

As our trip comes to an end, it’s always very hard to say “hasta luego” to my parents. Thank goodness for technology and Skype; so in a couple of days, we’ll be seeing each other again, albeit not in person…. but for today, we’ll enjoy some more great home cooking, courtesy of my mother.


Ingredients, makes about 20 medium cookies

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk, or milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (for homemade chips, see recipe here)


Preheat oven to 350F or 180C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the almond flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the olive oil, almond milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Add the almond flour mixture until combined. Add the  honey, and depending on your taste, use 4 or 5 tablespoons.

Stir in the chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 2 minutes, then with a clean spoon or a glass, press each cookie to flatten.

Bake an additional 14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.

Once completely cool, I store mine in a sealable container in the fridge.

Moules Marinieres (Mussels) & Happy New Year!

One of my favourite things to eat during the summer months when travelling through Belgium and France are “moules frites”. Moules are mussels and frites are french fries. Belgium is famous for their french fries, where there are shops dedicated to selling only frites with mayonnaise and spicey sauces and there’s even a museum dedicated to the french fry!

Ironically, I’ve never been a huge fan of french fries, unless they are homemade…but the moules I can’t get enough of! Since this past summer, I had been dreaming with making some moules marinieres at home, but haven’t been able to find the mussels in my local shopping area in London.

But now, on our holiday visit with my parents, we went to their local fish shop and bought some perfect mussels for our New Year’s Day lunch, which ended up being more of an early dinner with a delicious second plate of salmon with spaghetti squash… but that’s for another post! 😉

The following version is pretty basic, to which you can add things like roquefort cheese or other flavours should you wish to. My favourite is this basic sauce, however, and that is what we enjoyed today.


Ingredients, for 4 (or about 2 kilos of moules)

  • 2 kilos fresh, medium to smaller sized mussels
  • 1/2 liter dry white wine
  • fresh parsely, 4-5 sprigs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large leaks, cleaned and finely sliced
  • fresh thyme, a large sprig
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves
  • 50g butter (about 1/2 stick)


Clean the mussels and rinse well to ensure they have no sand. Make sure to only use the ones that are closed, as the animal is thus alive. Set aside. (If storing overnight – before cleaning, as we did in the fridge, place a bowl filled with something heavy, such as potatoes, over top to ensure they do not open.)

Prepare all of the vegetables. Create a bouquet with the parsley, thyme, bay leaves and the part of the leaves of 2 celery stalks. I tied mine with a nylon string used for cooking. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and saute until soft (but not long enough to change colour). Then add the bouquet and stir to mix.

Add the white wine. Immediately add the mussels and stir to mix well with the onion mixture. Add the remaining celery stalk, cut in 2-3 pieces. Cover and cook, stirring a couple of times, until all the mussels open up, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to sit about 3 minutes, covered, before serving.

In France and Belgium, the moules are served in their own enamel-coated 1-kg cooking pots. However, as we do not have these pots, we served them in shallow bowls. Enjoy with some Spanish albarinho or favourite white wine!

Cranberry Pear Loaf

I think I’m still a baker at heart. But baking these days is more of a challenge than it used to be, since I want to keep all my baking gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free, as much as possible. Therefore, I’m always in search of inspiration for recipe ideas, especially for breads.

I follow a few blogs on Facebook and one of them, Against All Grain, posted a delicious looking cranberry lemon loaf that was perfectly timed with my supply of fresh cranberries. Here is the result. I changed the recipe a tiny bit, as I have a hard time sticking to any recipe 100% of the time.



  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh cranberries
  • 2 small pears, peeled and chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 175C.
  2. Grease an 9×4 loaf pan with olive oil.
  3. Place all of the ingredients, except the cranberries and pears, in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  4. Fold in cranberries and pears.
  5. Pour into mold.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf.








Paleo Buche de Noel – Sweets for Santa

Sweets for Santa is this month’s theme of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop. I try to participate as often as I can, since I discovered them a few months ago. The blog hop is open to anyone willing to participate, anywhere in the world; and it’s hosted by some great ladies and bloggers in Australia. December 2012 marks a year anniversary for the blog hop, and I’m very excited to be part of this Sweet Adventures’ community, where we are all inspired by and learn from each other.

My entry is something I learned to make in my high school French class. I still remember the crumbled mess when we tried rolling our first buche. Since then, I’ve learned a few things about baking and cooking, and things have improved dramatically! 😉 My next challenge is food styling and food photography, which is quite the learning process…but I’ll get there I hope.

The Buche de Noel is a traditional Christmas holiday cake that can be found in pastry shops almost everywhere in France and in many French homes. Mine is a healthy deviation from the traditional as I’ve made it completely refined sugar free, dairy free and gluten free. In fact, it’s even Paleo (although some Paleo followers may not approve of the wine or chocolate…)! But I’ll leave that debate for another time…



For the chocolate bark

Make one recipe of homemade chocolate. Allow to cool about 1 hour. Then pour onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper over top. Make sure the chocolate is not too liquid, but syrupy instead. Roll into a “log”. Freeze for a few hours or overnight.

When you unwrap the parchment paper, the chocolate will break into shards of bark.

For the sponge cake

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (for egg whites)
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • additional olive oil for the parchment paper
  • parchment paper to line the baking pan
  • 1/3 cup Moscatel or rum or brandy (or nonalcoholic wine)

Preheat oven to 180C or 350F.

In a bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks and honey until a pale yellow. This will take about 10 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer. Add the olive oil, cocoa powder and lemon juice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar until stiff peaks form. Fold in about 1/4 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Slide the remaining egg whites over the mixture.

Sift together the coconut flour and baking soda and pour on top of the egg whites. Fold until a homogenous mixture is achieved. Pour into an 9.5 x 13.5 inch mold, previously prepared with a piece of greased parchment paper. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Once out of the oven, allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Pour the Moscatel evenly over the top of the cake. After it has been absorbed, carefully roll the cake into a log. Set aside.

For the coconut whipped cream with raspberries

  •  1 can of full fat coconut milk, preferably organic
  • 200g fresh raspberries, save a few for garnish
  • blueberries for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract*
Place the can of coconut in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Open carefully and scoop out the fat only, leaving the “water” behind. Pour into a bowl and at high speed beat until a whipped cream consistency is achieved. Add the vanilla and the raspberries and mix well. (You may want to add some sweetener; I didn’t as I though the combination with the sponge cake was sweet enough for me.)
*For homemade vanilla extract: In a sealable glass jar, place 1 cup of vodka plus 3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise (with vanilla seeds removed) and cut in half. Ideally, allow to macerate at least one month before using. However, I have used it within a week and it was delicious.)
For the meringue mushrooms, makes about 12 mushroom caps and stems
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ice water
Preheat oven to 80C or 175F.
In a saucepan, heat the egg white, honey and salt until the mixture is warm to the touch (about 1-2 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Transfer to a mixing bowl and with a hand mixer on high speed, immediately begin to whisk. Add the ice water and continuing beating until soft, glossy peaks are formed.
Transfer the meringue into a piping bag and create mushroom caps and stems. Bake on the lower rack of the oven for 1.5 hours. Allow the mushrooms to completely cool – about 1 hour –  before “gluing” together. They can be stored overnight (not in the fridge) on the countertop. I found that with the meringues made with honey that they are very sticky, so no “glue” is required. However, if you make them with refined sugar, you can use some melted chocolate as glue.
To add some “dirt” to the mushrooms, sprinkle some cocoa powder using a sieve on the top of the mushrooms and with cocoa powder “dirty finger” touch the mushroom stems. For original idea, please click here. And for the original meringue recipe from Against All Grain, please click here.
To assemble the Buche de Noel 
Unroll the sponge cake. Spread the coconut raspberry whipped cream on the cake. Roll up again.
Melt some chocolate and when cool, but still of fluid consistency, pour or drizzle over the rolled cake. Transfer with a large spatula to a pretty (and clean) serving platter. Immediately “glue” bark into place. Decorate with “dirty” mushrooms and some sprinkled desiccated coconut over top, if desired.
Et Voila! Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and holiday season, and a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year 2013! Oh, yes and may the year be full of lots of love and “deliciousness”!
After a year of incredible recipes, our host again is Christina from the Hungry Australian. Please check her page for more details on the hop and how to join.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies & Homemade Chocolate Chips

My oh my! These are good. Even the cookie dough is addictive, just like the “real” thing.

I am not a huge fan of cookies in general, except the quintessentially American chocolate chip cookie (and maybe the sugar cookie for decorating). But my nieces have been making chocolate chip cookies and sending me pictures via Whatsapp, so I kind of felt left out. But I’m on a mission to avoid gluten at all costs… so I had to go searching for an almond flour recipe, so that I could indulge without guilt and ensure it’s a healthier version.

In Spain, there are many pastries made with almond flour or other nut flours, so adapting those recipes to remove the refined sugar is less of a challenge than to make the right chocolate chip cookie.

The ones I made today are a mixture of recipes and came out delicious. And although they do not have the traditional goey texture of a wheat cookie, the flavour is spot on. I think I like them better actually!


Ingredients, makes about 24 medium 2-inch cookies

(The original recipe is from Against All Grain, with some influence from The Food Lovers Kitchen.)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups blanched ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate pieces (recipe below)


Make chocolate pieces or chips a few hours in advance or the day before.

Preheat oven to 180C or 350F. In a bowl, with a hand mixer, beat until smooth and fluffy the olive oil, honey, eggs and vanilla. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt. Mix until combined. You may need a spoon to do this properly. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand, as well.

On a parchment-lined cookie or baking sheet, drop balls of the cookie dough, about 1 inch in diameter (like a tablespoon each). With your hand or a piece of parchment, press on each cookie to flatten out.

Bake between 10-12 minutes until golden brown. I used the bottom rack of my oven and placed an empty cookie sheet on the middle rack to protect the cookies below and prevent them from burning. Nut flours tend to burn very easily, so beware of this.

The cookies will be rather soft to the touch right out of the oven. Allow to cool on a cookie rack before eating, as they harden as they cool.


Ingredients, makes about 1 1/2 cups

(I had previously found a very interesting recipe for making chocolate at home with cacao butter. But since my computer crashed, I cannot find the recipe back. However, my friend Denise from Edible Harmony, has a great recipe, which I’ve used for these cookies. She also has her version of paleo CCC, without eggs.)

  • 1/4 cup cacao butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons 100% cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey (optional, if you prefer bitter dark chocolate)


In a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and heat over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the cacao butter is melted. Allow the mixture to cool and thicken in the fridge.

Once it has thickened, either pipe into a chip form or spread on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place in freezer until it is set. If you make the spread format, break the chocolate into small pieces for the cookie recipe.











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