Grain-free, Sugar-free Coconut Granola

Grain-free, Sugar-free Coconut Granola

This is super easy to make and very adaptable depending on your taste.  I’ve converted it to suit my Thermomix but you can easily make it without.  I have included both versions below.

Grain-free, Sugar-free Coconut Granola

What you will need:

  • 3 cups coconut flakes
  • 2 cups of mixed nuts and seeds (think almonds, cashews, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, pecans etc).  I used a handful each of whatever I had in the pantry.
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup.  (You can also use rice malet syrup or raw honey)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • a generous pinch of sea salt

How to pull it together: (Thermomix version)

Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius (250 degrees Fahrenheit)

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Put the coconut flakes into a large bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your Thermomix add the nuts, rice malt syrup (or sweetener), chia seeds, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt.  Put dial to ‘closed lid’ position and press turbo for a second, 2-3 times (until the texture is to your liking).

Add the nut mix to the coconut flakes in a bowl and stir so it’s well combined.

Lay out the granola mixture on the baking tray – spread it evenly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  After about 10 minutes give it a good toss.  You’ll need to keep an eye on it – check at 15 minutes, you might need to go 25 minutes to get the colour and crispiness.

Remove from the oven and cool.  Serve with your choice of milk (I love homemade Almond milk), or natural yoghurt and fruit if desired.

Enjoy!

How to pull it together (without a Thermomix):

Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius (250 degrees Fahrenheit)

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Put the coconut flakes into a large bowl.

Roughly chop the nuts and seeds and mix into the coconut flakes.  Add the rice malt syrup (or sweetener), chia seeds, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt and combine well.

Lay out the granola mixture on the baking tray – spread it evenly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  After about 10 minutes give it a good toss.  You’ll need to keep an eye on it – check at 15 minutes, you might need to go 25 minutes to get the colour and crispiness.  

Remove from the oven and cool.  Serve with your choice of milk, or natural yoghurt and fruit if desired.  I love eating mine with natural yoghurt, prunes and strawberries.

Enjoy!

This recipe is inspired by the Coconutty Granola from Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ program.

Healthy Christmas Puddings (Gluten, Dairy, Sugar free)

Healthy Christmas Puddings (Gluten, Dairy, Sugar free)

I love these little puddings around Christmas time.  They have all the delicious flavour of a traditional Christmas pudding but won’t leave you feeling bloated and awful.  I made these in my Thermomix, but they are easy to make without.  I have written up both versions below.

The Shrinking Hubby’s Healthy Christmas Puddings

(makes 8 small puddings)

What you will need:

  • 250 grams (9 ounces) fresh dates (pitted)
  • 1 orange roughly chopped (leave the skin on!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup dried apricots (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (extra for garnish – optional)
  • 30 mls (2 tablespoons) brandy – optional (but it is Christmas!!!)
  • 3 organic free-range eggs
  • 200 grams (7 ounces or about 3/4 cup) almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Spice mix

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

How to pull it together (using a Thermomix)

Put the dates and the whole orange (roughly chopped) into the bowl and blitz speed 6 for 5 seconds.  Scrape down bowl.

Add 1 cup of water.  Cook 100 degrees, speed 1 for 15 minutes.

Add 30 mls brandy (if using) and blitz for 30 seconds speed 9.

Add 200 grams almond meal, the dried fruit and almonds, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix reverse, speed 5 for 15 seconds (or until well combined).

Grease 8 small pudding ramekins with coconut oil (or butter) and sprinkle about a teaspoon of slivered almonds into the bottom of each.  Spoon the mixture evenly into each ramekin.  Place filled ramekins into a large baking dish.  Create a bain-maree by filling the dish with enough boiling water to come half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Cover all the ramekins with a sheet of baking paper and top with foil pressed tightly around the edges to seal.

Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit)  for 1 hour 15 minutes.

If not eating straight away, they refrigerate beautifully.  When ready to serve steam (or heat up) for about 8 minutes, invert and serve with a dollop of cream or if you prefer some homemade custard.

How to pull it together (without a Thermomix)

Place the dates, whole orange (roughly chopped – keep the skin on!) and 1 cup of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the dates and orange are soft.  Set aside to cool.  Add the brandy and whiz in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed.

In a separate bowl, combine the date paste, almond meal, dried fruit, almonds, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

Grease 8 small pudding ramekins with coconut oil (or butter) and sprinkle about a teaspoon of slivered almonds into the bottom of each.  Spoon the mixture evenly into each ramekin.  Place filled ramekins into a large baking dish.  Create a bain-maree by filling the dish with enough boiling water to come half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Cover all the ramekins with a sheet of baking paper and top with foil pressed tightly around the edges to seal.

Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit)  for 1 hour 15 minutes.

If not eating straight away, they refrigerate beautifully.  When ready to serve steam (or heat up) for about 8 minutes, invert and serve with a dollop of cream or if you prefer some homemade custard.

Enjoy!

Roast Vegetable and Haloumi Salad

Roast Vegetable and Haloumi Salad

This flavour combination of grilled haloumi and fresh lemon juice is a match made in heaven! This fresh salad is perfect for your next dinner party or barbeque – it goes beautifully with beef, salmon, chicken (or even on it’s own as an appetizer).  So easy, tasty and delicious (and really good for you too!).  Every time I make this there are always fights for seconds and ultimately there is nothing left on the platter!  I hope you enjoy 🙂

Roast Vegetable and Haloumi Salad

What you will need:

  • 1 small or 1/2 a large eggplant (aubergine)
  • 3 Roma Tomatoes
  • 2 Zucchinis (courgettes)
  • Rocket (arugula) (or rocket and baby spinach mix)
  • Haloumi
  • 1/4 cup roasted pine nuts.
  • A large handful of fresh parsley leaves to garnish

For the Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Dressing:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

How to pull it together:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (or 350 degrees Fahrenheit)

Cut the vegetables into wedges (I quarter the tomatoes lengthwise, the zucchinis I cut in half lengthwise and quarter, and I chop the eggplant into approx 3 inch wedges).

Lay out the vegetables on a baking tray and brush with the marinade (I like to cook the tomatoes on a separate tray to the other veggies) and cook for about 30 – 40 mins or until well roasted.

On a serving platter lay out the rocket (arugula). Place the vegetables  on top.

When ready to serve your salad, heat some olive oil or coconut oil in a pan (if you want those delicious looking grill lines use a griddle pan) and fry the haloumi until it’s golden brown.  Place on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and parsley.

Drizzle with the lemon and paprika dressing and serve.

Forceful Delight – guest post by Charby Ibrahim, The Ancestral Body

Today’s guest post, by Charby Ibrahim of The Ancestral Body is a great read!  For those of us who try and eat well, sometimes it’s those awkward social situations that let us down, and not necessarily by choice.  Please read and enjoy, and be sure to check out his website The Ancestral Body.  Charby’s story is inspirational and you will really enjoy reading his posts.  He has some great workouts and recipes on there too!

(PS – If  after reading Charby’s story you are looking for some healthier cake options – I have a few on my website.  You might like to try my quick and easy carrot cake here, my apple and zucchini loaf heremy vanilla cupcakes here or my chocolate protein balls here.  You don’t need refined sugar and grains to enjoy a sweet snack!  Enjoy!)

Forceful Delight

By Charby Ibrahim, The Ancestral Body

An overly firm handshake, a boisterous greeting, a forceful slap on the shoulder, a little banter. Ok, where’s this going? He may as well have lifted his leg and used me as a lamp-post. Yup – Awkward. Even when he makes fun of my shirt, questioning my sexuality, I smile and nod… compliment his ‘lovely’ house. Clare, his wife, shoots me an apologetic glance, served up with a warm hug. I remember why I’m here. We’re old friends; great friends! Geoff comes with the package these days though. I can handle that. “9 beers in, mate!” Geoff announces, interrupting the embrace. “You’ve got some catching up to do, CH-arbs!” A harsh CH- sound, and we’re in nickname territory. I don’t correct him. It’s a different story in my head, a few expletives added. SH-arby! “I’m ok, Geoff. Maybe I’ll grab a glass of red wine in a minute,” I reply. Clare, as though reading my mind, steps in. A brief reprieve – “Speech time guys. The cake is ready!” Time for Geoff to shine. His 15 minutes of fame. Laden with slurring jagged tangents, and anecdotes from his ‘playing days’ – Aussie Rules Football, that is. His son, whose birthday it is, gets the odd mention too. Made in the image of his mother, the kid smiles bashfully between sips of the black fizzy stuff.

Flash forward – “Just eat the f@#king cake, mate!” Two tiny balls of spit fly in my direction. They’re homing in… one lands on the already infamous piece of sweet spongy cream, and the other assaults my left cheek. I wipe it away with an exaggerated gesture… I’m not sure why. Actually, yes I am. I want him to know that he’s out of control, that there’s a strong chance he’ll regret this tomorrow. I even throw him a cheeky smirk. So often I’m the mediator, keeping the peace, politely navigating my way through awkward situations. Not today – I’m not about to be bullied by a man taking umbrage over a piece of bloody cake. Geoff fires up again – “So what… You think you’re pretty good ay? Standing around judging us all. It’s my son’s birthday. It’s my son’s birthday cake! What’s a bloody Health Coach do anyway? Please!” The plate, and a smear of pink cream, now pressed up against my chest. “No thanks, Geoff.” He holds it there firmly, glaring through me. The pointed edge of the square plate digging in hard now. Still, I don’t flinch. Instead, I take a slow sip of my wine, breathing in through my nose. My first glass. I must be miles behind now.

The birthday boy is wrapped around Geoff’s leg, and I spot Clare’s look of concern over Geoff’s broad shoulder. She’s been here before. “Eat. The. F@#king. CAKE!” he thumps. The room falls silent. A pause in the music. An audience to boot. Growing up as a Lebanese kid, I was no stranger to having food forced on me – and even more recently, I know I’ve rubbed the odd host up the wrong way with my ‘peculiar’ food choices. Most of the time though, they could care less. I tend to load up before arrival, pick at what takes my fancy, and we get on with the party. This time it’s different. I’ve been drawn into a one-sided cock-fight, and folks seem more interested in the spectacle than dragging this bloodied rooster away.

“This is my house!” he declares proudly, staring me down. Judging by the football trophies lining the walls of his ‘man-cave’, he isn’t lying. It’s definitely his house. Confirmed. Team photos from 1995 through to 2003. His face growing sterner, tougher, as the years progress. He was promised a long career, but it just didn’t eventuate. One can’t help but wonder if the subtle limp he carries around has anything to do with it. I figure it’s best not to ask at this juncture. A big frame, strong, towering over me, taking up space; much like the houses he grudgingly builds these days. A solid bulging barrel chest, and a round belly way out in the front cabin- not in any of the photos, but a new addition – not quite lived in. “It’s OUR house!” Clare promptly reminds him, “…and you’re being a dick… AGAIN!” They lock eyes for a few seconds, and I’m almost relieved that the attention has shifted, and the pressure eases off my sternum. A new feeling of unease though; the fight response kicks in. What might transpire between the happy couple when the crowd disperses eventually?

Clare’s stare is harsh and piercing. She wears him down. Geoff’s hand forgets that it’s holding the plate. Slowly falls limp. His body folds into itself, starting at the navel. He just about disappears – The cake is sliding slowly off the plate. I watch it with gleeful anticipation, instead trying to stop it. SPLAT! He wears it well down the length of his left leg and shiny shoes. Time for this guy to exit stage door left. I finish the last sip of my wine, grab for my coat, and I get the proverbial truck out of there.

All this talk of cake has my sweet tooth crying out. As soon as I arrive home I snap into action; a fresh batch of gluten free, honey sweetened, dark cacao brownies. Down the hatch with a very generous serve of raw cream, and a handful of mixed berries. You might be asking ‘why’ then? Why didn’t you just eat the damn cake, Charby? The truth is, I really do love a sweet treat, but the refined sugar and the gluten really punish me these days… AND I have an aversion to being bullied. We are social creatures though, and even I turn a blind eye to food quality when I’m out at restaurants, BBQs, functions, and parties in the name getting along. I don’t want to know what kind of oil they’re using, whether the veggies are organic, and what kind of life the animal on my plate lived. I might never leave the house otherwise. So, I compromise. There are some non-negotiables though, and sometimes I say ‘NO’… kindly. A three day gluten hangover just ain’t worth it for this sensitive little monkey. So, I’m making a stand here and now. I’m saying NO to forcing cake on unsuspecting guests. Just say NO… thanks!

PS – The very next morning I received the loveliest apology… from Clare.

Disclaimer- In order to protect the people mentioned in this story, I have changed their names. In order to protect the integrity of the cake, I changed its colour.

About the author:

Charby Ibrahim is the man behind ‘The Ancestral Body’ – Nutritional Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Teacher, Speaker, and Writer. A graduate of The University of Melbourne, The Institute For Integrative Nutrition, and The Australian Institute of Personal Trainers, he has written countless articles for prominent online publications and blogs, is a proud member of Physical Activity Australia, and engages in education programs at both local schools and The Royal Children’s Hospital. Charby’s journey has been a personal one from the outset. He went back to ‘Eating Real Food’, lost a stack of fat, got fit, and is now using his own life skills and experience, on-top of over a decade in education, to help others find the combination of lifestyle factors that best suit their needs. Charby is also a co-host of The Primal Shift, one of Australia’s most popular health podcast shows.

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 Stay connected to Charby Ibrahim via The Ancestral Body:

Apple and Zucchini Loaf (sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free)

Apple and Zucchini Loaf (sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something sweet on here and I’ve had this little number up my sleeve for a while but just couldn’t get it ‘right’!  I am really happy with this version so I thought I’d share.  You can substitute the coconut oil for macadamia nut oil, and I would love to try it with butter (I’ll let you know how I go).  It is best warm from the oven with a spread of salted organic butter and a cup of tea – yum!  I hope you enjoy …

PS – I have included a Thermomix version and a non-Thermomix version below …

The Shrinking Hubby’s Apple and Zucchini Cake

sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free

What you will need:

  • 2 peeled apples
  • 1 peeled zucchini (courgette)
  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (preferably aluminium free)
  • ½ cup medjool dates (pitted) (about 90 grams)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 5 organic free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

For garnish:

  • 1 apple sliced
  • Approx 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or rapadura sugar)

Thermomix version:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).

Put 2 apples (peeled and cored), 1 zucchini (peeled, topped and tailed) and ½ cup (90 grams) dates into the mixing bowl.  Mix for 5 seconds speed 6.  Scrape down bowl.

Add the coconut flour, chia seeds, baking powder, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil and sea salt and mix about 30 seconds speed 5/6 or until mixed together.

Pour (or mould – the mixture is quite doughy) into a lined and buttered/oiled loaf tin and top with slices of apple and a sprinkle of coconut (or rapadura) sugar.

Bake for 30-45 minutes in a moderate (180 degrees Celcius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit) oven until golden brown and cooked through.

Non Thermomix version:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).

Put 2 apples (peeled and cored), 1 zucchini (peeled, topped and tailed) and ½ cup (90 grams) dates in your food processor and blitz.  Add coconut flour, chia seeds, baking powder, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil and sea salt and mix well.

Pour (or mould – the mixture is quite doughy) into a lined and buttered/oiled loaf tin and top with slices of apple and a sprinkle of coconut (or rapadura) sugar.

Bake for 30-45 minutes in a moderate (180 degrees Celcius/350 degrees Fahrenheit) oven until golden brown and cooked through.

Enjoy!

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