Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sugar-Free, Low-Glycemic Pecan Pie

My daughter requested a pecan pie as a special reward for all of the hard work she'd been doing for school. I have a recipe from Cook's Illustrated which calls for maple syrup instead of corn syrup - super delicious! And having made it for her, once again I found myself feeling a little sad about how I was never going to get to eat that delicious item again.... or was I?

I started thinking about yacon syrup, a nutritious, super low-glycemic syrup made from a South American tuber. Yacon syrup has been shown to have amazing properties as a product for folks with diabetes and metabolic disorders. I've been eating it in the divine chocolates created by Coracao Confections for several years now, and it has recently become the darling of Dr. Oz. Yacon syrup is dark, thick, sweet, but at the same time tangy. It reminds me a bit of maple syrup, but even more so of tamarind. I decided that it could be the perfect substitute for corn syrup or maple syrup in a pecan pie. But first I had to get my hands on some... I have yet to see it on grocer's shelves - even health food stores. My friends at Coracao turned me on to Raw Food World, which they have been doing business with for some time. That took care of that issue, and it was on to recipe creation.

You know, sometimes when I try a recipe the first time, it's just a complete fail. Sometimes it needs some tweaking. And sometimes, rarely, it's fantastic the very first time. That's the story with this pie, my friends. Go forth and enjoy the yumminess once more!

Sugar-Free, Low-Glycemic Pecan Pie

1 batch of whole grain Foodier Than Thou pie crust  and a 9" regular (shallow) pie dish OR
1 batch of Foodier Than Thou almond meal crust (skip the almond extract) and a tart pan

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar OR an additional 1/4 cup of sugar substitute
1/4 cup of your favorite sugar substitute: Swerve, Lakanto, Splenda OR erythritol
1-2 tsp stevia powder - to taste. (You may want the higher amount if you use erythritol, which is less sweet than the other sweeteners.)

1 cup yacon syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

4 TB unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 tsp salt 

6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 F.

2.  In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, sugar substitutes and stevia powder until well combined. Add the yacon syrup and heavy cream, place over medium heat, and stir occasionally, until the solids have dissolved, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 5 minutes. Add the butter and salt and whisk until incorporated. Then whisk in egg yolks until well incorporated.

4. Put pie crust into pan and crimp the edges. If using the almond meal crust in a tart pan, press the crust well into the pan with your hands and/or a wooden spoon. If using the almond meal crust and tart pan, you will have some extra crust and filling. If so, use them to make some small ramekins of pie.

5. Sprinkle the chopped, toasted nuts into the bottom of the crust. Carefully pour the liquid filling over the top. Use a rubber spatula to get all of the yummy stuff into the pan.

6. Carefully place the pie onto a baking sheet and place on the central rack of the hot oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 F. Bake until the filling is set and the center jiggles only slightly when the pie is gently shaken, 45-60 minutes.

7. Remove pie from oven and cool on a rack for at least an hour. Then refrigerate until set, at least another hour, and up to one day, or just cool on the rack for several more hours. If you rush to cut it, it will not be solid! (It's hard to resist; believe me, I know!) Bring to room temperature before serving.

8. Serve small wedges, with optional Bourbon Whipped Cream - which really adds a lot to the party!

Bourbon Whipped Cream
(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 TB bourbon

2 TB coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.  Serve with pecan pie. Yum!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sugar-Free Stone Fruit Cake


The finished product - golden brown and luscious

Is this a cake, a tart, a pie.....? Call it what you will, this is the perfect use of all of the apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums dropping off the trees at this time of year! This delicious recipe is so easy and so good, you may find yourself making it several times in one week. Not being very sweet, it makes a lovely coffee cake, breakfast, snack, or dessert. Try any stone fruit, and if you wish, replace a cup or so of the stone fruit with some fresh blueberries. As always, this recipe is sugar-free, high protein, and low-carbohydrate. Although this is perfect for folks like me who are diabetic or have a metabolic disorder, everybody else loves it, too. Only YOU will know that it's sugar-free!

Preheat the oven to 375 F.


Press the dough firmly and gently up the sides
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup Swerve OR 1/4 cup erythritol + 2 TB xylitol + 1/2 tsp stevia powder
6 TB unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp almond extract
1 large egg

Mmmm - super ripe Royal Blenheim apricots from my tree!
2 1/2 pounds stone fruit, washed, dried, pitted and cut into fourths (apricot, peach, nectarine, or plum)
OR replace 1/2 pound of fruit with 1 cup fresh blueberries
2 TB almond liqueur
1/2 cup Swerve OR 1/4 cup erythritol + 2 TB xylitol + 1/2 tsp stevia powder
1 TB tapioca flour OR 1 TB tapioca quick-cooking tapioca

For the Pastry: 
1. Using a food processor, pulse the almond meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and sweeteners until they are just combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mix resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized butter chunks. Add the egg and almond extract and pulse until it just comes together.

2. Using floured fingers, press the pastry into a spring form pan, flattening with the palm of your hand, and coaxing it up the sides of the pan until it reaches half way up the sides. (You want the pastry to be as least as high as the fruit.)

3. Chill the pan in the refrigerator until firm, at least 15 minutes.

For the Filling:

1. Meanwhile, prepare the fruit. Wash, dry, pit, and cut the fruit into chunks. Add the almond liqueur and stir to combine.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the sweeteners with the tapioca flour thoroughly (available from the bulk section of Berkeley Bowl or in packages from Bob's Red Mill), or, if you are using quick tapioca, whirl the sweeteners with the tapioca in a spice mill until the tapioca becomes a flour.

3.  Sprinkle the fruit with the sweetener mix, and stir gently to combine thoroughly. Spoon the fruit mixture evenly into the chilled springform pan. Cover with foil, place on a baking sheet (the butter does tend to leak out the bottom.) and bake, covered, for around 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown around the edges.
The filling should come just below the pastry line

4. Cool, uncovered, on a rack, for at least 1/2 an hour. Carefully remove the sides of the springform and put on a platter. Wait until the cake is thoroughly cooled before serving; the filling will firm as it cools.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Creamy, Delicious, Low-Carb Cheesecake

For some time I have been enjoying the delicious, low-carb "breakfast" cheesecake I invented a while back; it's very yummy, and nice and easy to make. However, I really was missing the delightful contrast in texture and flavor you get from a classic graham cracker crumb crust cheesecake. For the life of me I couldn't think how to make something that would work.... make low carb, sugar free graham crackers, just so that I could make crumbs out of them? That didn't seem like a good idea. What to do, what to do?

I recently had a flash of inspiration..... what if I used almond meal, just straight up almond meal, but toasted it in a saute pan? Immediate smash hit!

This is so yummy, and really straight-forward and easy. You may have a little leftover "crumbs"; if so, they store well in the fridge for your next batch - which I predict you will be making very soon! However, they are quite tasty sprinkled on the top of the cheesecake, or even eaten straight up with a spoon.


almond meal before toasting

2 cups whole almond meal (I use Trader Joe's)

1 teaspoon stevia extract powder
1 tablespoon xylitol
2 tablespoons erythritol
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1/4 tsp salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil

In a small bowl, whisk the sweeteners until well combined.

In a medium-sized skillet, toast the almond meal, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. When the almond meal is just lightly golden and fragrant, remove it from the heat. Be careful not to overcook the almond meal - it will continue to darken and toast in the hot pan even after you have removed it from the heat.

Whisk the sweeteners into the toasted almond meal until well-combined.

Finished Crust
Add the butter and coconut oil, using the residual heat from the pan to melt them. Stir until all is well-combined. Set aside.


2 cups full-fat cottage cheese (full fat is the lowest in carbs)
1 cup full-fat cream cheese (lowest in carbs)
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yoghurt (lowest in carbs)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 tsp stevia
1 tablespoons xylitol
2 tablespoons erythritol
3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar

Bring all of the ingredients to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweeteners until well-combined.

Using an immersion blender, blender or food processor,  process the cottage cheese until smooth. Add the cream cheese, yoghurt and vanilla and process until smooth. Add the eggs and sweeteners and process until smooth.


Using your ramekin collection, put 2-4 tablespoons of the "graham cracker crust" mix in the bottom of each cup, depending on the size of the vessel and your taste. Press the crumbs down using the back of a spoon.

Spoon the filling on top of the crumb crust. The number of ramekins you make depends on the size of the ramekin and how much of the crumb mixture is in it.

When you have used all of the filling up, put them into a large roasting pan, and carefully pour boiling water all around them.

Place into your pre-heated, 325 F oven and bake until firm, around 45 minutes to 1 hour.