Thursday, 31 January 2013

We Should Cocoa - the Sugar Free Round-up

As January comes to a close and some of us have kept to our resolutions, I am particularly pleased to see so many creative and delicious ideas for chocolate recipes without beet or cane sugar - 27 in total. It was a good opportunity for some to go raw as well as sugar free; many now argue that raw foods are better for our health and we should include more in our diets. Dates were the main sweetening agent of choice, they are particularly good as they also add bulk. Making brown food substances look attractive is really quite an art, but everyone seems to have pulled it off successfully. I was pleased to find that many found this month's theme a real challenge, after all, I don't want to lose my status as bad cop all together.

Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes is hosting We Should Cocoa next month, so do look out for February's ingredient on her blog tomorrow.

Jill of Lapin d'Or and More kicks things off with perhaps not quite such a healthy offering, although I would imagine meat eaters would find it a jolly delicious one. Her inspiration for this chocolate, stilton and bacon toasted sandwich came from Paul A Young's Adventures in Chocolate.

I was so pleased with these raw chocolate truffles that I shall be making them again and again. The main constituents are Medjool dates, cashew nuts and cocoa, but these had a few other ingredients thrown in to make them additionally nutritious.

Over at Elizabeth's Kitchen, things got interesting - pony poo anyone? Designed to give a natural and nutritious boost after visiting the gym, these baked post-workout protein bites did the trick. Pony poo notwithstanding, both Elizabeth and her children found them to be very tasty. And what's inspired these trips to the gym? She's training to be a lifeboat volunteer.

A chocolate detox drink sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but Sarah of Maison Cupcake has invented just such a wonder. Her shrink mummy shake has me off to the shops later to buy some bananas, not something you see that often in this household.

Brownies, being one of my many weaknesses, I was thrilled to discover that Suelle of Mainly Baking managed to get some in to this challenge. Who would have thought you could have a sugar-free brownie? Well Suelle did for one. She reports that these date and maple brownies are light and cake-like, but also moist and tasty.

Our first non-brown photograph brings us more raw truffles from Ruth of Makey-Cakey. These chocolate, date and pistachio truffles were a goodbye offering to her work colleagues as she started a new job earlier this month. I do love pistachios and rolling the truffles in green nuts makes them look really pretty. Congratulations Ruth and good luck.

Made with dried pineapple rings from St Lucia and coconut flakes, this "super healthy" pineapple, coconut and chocolate ripple frozen yogurt looks to be pure delight. Claire of Under the Blue Gum Tree whilst not being completely overwhelmed with the whole sugar-free thing, thought this "wasn't bad at all".

Our third raw chocolate entry is from Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes. She won a raw chocolate making kit at Christmas and used some of the chocolate to top her raw vegan cookies. These raw chocolate, oat and currant cookies have been cleverly pressed into stars. I've not come across raw cookies before so I will now have to try some for myself. Sweet Freedom, made from carob, apples and grapes is the sweetener used here.

With a baby who's just learnt to walk and two young boys, food for energy is just what is needed in the CityHippyFarmGirl household. Luckily these chocolate agave energy balls pack a punch and sound quite delicious. These are sweetened with agave and honey, although Brydie states agave can be substituted for the honey.

Corina of Searching for Spice was inspired by the sugar-free theme to have a go at using cocoa in a savoury recipe. Her Mexican chicken stew turned out to be a complete success - hooray.

Now this banana, spelt and pecan loaf, may, er, have a little white chocolate drizzled on the top, which isn't strictly sugar free, but Laura of How to Cook Good Food assures me, it's very good without it. It sounds like a very nice loaf indeed and is sweetened with honey.

Sweetened with a mixture of maple syrup and orchard syrup, these vaguely healthy sticky choc-toffee puddings sound truly scrumptious. Gill of Tales of Pigling Bland thought they had a hint of fruitiness from the orchard syrup, which luckily she seemed to approve of.

Snowy of Cookbooks Galore has used pureed dates as a sweetener in the past, so was happy to try out this recipe for chocolate date muffins when she came across it. The consensus seems to be that dates act as a good sweetener as they are very sweet, the taste doesn't overwhelm and they are healthy too.

And here's another We Should Cocoa host who has sneaked a bit of chocolate in! The excuse that Natalie of The HungryHinny gave was that the Pony needs his treats for work and wouldn't eat it without chocolate. Well what can you do? These wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars look wonderful. Sweetened with honey and with peanut butter as one of the ingredients, I'm sure they tasted delicious too.

One of my resolutions this year is to stick to my one day of fasting a week. However, I know lots have other dieting resolutions. One diet I have not heard of until Mari of the Nutty Tart bought my attention to it, is the Paleo Diet. From what I can gather, this seems to be going back to the diet of our ancestors (sort of) and cutting out refined foods, starch and sugars. Anyway, as Mari put it herself, she went caveman this month and baked the Paleo diet chocolate cake - lucky cavemen I say!

Of all the energy bars, truffles and bites that have been baked for We Should Cocoa this month, I don't think any of them have been so prettily packaged as Janice's chocolate cherry energy bars. She admits herself she was a little put off at the idea of sugar free, but thankfully persisted and these delicious bars may now be making a regular appearance on the Farmersgirl Kitchen breakfast table.

Spring cleaning got off to an early start over at Corner Cottage Bakery - a clean up of spices. To use up her spare spices, Hannah created a tasty looking chocolate version of the Egyptian spice mix dukkah - cocoa dukkah.

Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook had a first attempt at chocolate mousse using stevia, but wasn't happy with it. She then opted to try cocoa in her first ever savoury dish. Thankfully, her cocoa and curry rubbed chicken worked much better.

Over at Caroline Makes, things weren't going quite so well. A possible overdose of cocoa in this Mexican chicken in mole sauce might account for Caroline's dislike of the dish. In the spirit of all things Mexican, she consoled herself with a margarita which was much more to her liking.

Chicken has proven to be a firm favourite this month, so much so that Dom of couldn't resist putting his famous thighs on show again. For those not yet familiar with Dom's thighs you may (or may not) want to head over to his exuberant blog Belleau Kitchen. Apple butter chicken thighs with cocoa nibs may not be my thing, but despite the little bit of cheating that went on, I can imagine how that would be if it was tempeh or even halloumi that was treated this way - mmmm.


Luckily, after all this savoury excitment, Mel of Sharky Oven Gloves is giving us some sweet delights in the form of peanut butter and cocoa nibbed cookies massively sweetened by honey. Challenged she might have been, but what a delightful bake has come out of it.

Well take a look at these carrot & coconut muffins with chocolate topping from The Golden Pear. It's not just any old chocolate topping and it's something I'm now very keen to try. The muffins are gluten and dairy free, being made with coconut oil and flour respectively and sweetened with honey. The topping is luxuriously and unusually made with avocado and again sweetened with honey.


There is something about the word nectar which just conjures up something completely sublime. Linzi from Lancashire Food had my mouth watering straight away just from the title of her agave nectar chocolate cake.

Quinoa is one of my favourite grains (although it's not strictly a grain). I've cooked with the flour before, but these quinoa cookie cakes from Nutritious Deliciousness are interestingly baked with the whole grain and thus a new concept to me. The sweetener used here was coconut sugar, which is meant to have a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, honey and agave.

Energy balls have got to top this month's list for popularity. Helen of Fuss Free Flavours used her new dehydrator to make these chocolate, orange, date and seed energy balls. The inclusion of apricots and peanut butter has got me itching to have another go at making some myself.

Honey cake is one of my favourite things and this honey cake not only has chocolate in, but look deliciously gooey and brownie like. Chocolate honey traybake from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

Now how about this brilliant recipe from Lucy The KitchenMaid? It's perhaps not a recipe we would want to tuck into, but cocoa bean husks are an excellent ingredient for the garden which can produce lots of lovely things to eat. What I'm wondering is, do the vegetables end up tasting of chocolate - now wouldn't that be something?

17 comments:

  1. I love this round up, some really interesting recipes, especially the avocado icing. Now that is one I must try as I seem to have become addicted to avocados. I am going to check out Sarah's shake too, anything called Shrink Mummy sounds just what I need.

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  2. Great round up and lots of wonderful ideas for healthier chocolate treats. I'm looking forward to hosting next month!

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  3. That is a great round up - love all the post work out snacks and the ones using dates to bind things together. Plenty of dinner ideas too, perfect!

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  4. Well, I may have missed out on entering, but, I can sit back now and enjoy these LOVELY guilt-free creations, there are some inspired recipes there - lovely, just lovely and a GREAT round-up post too! Karen

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  5. Did I forget to send you my Mexican chicken? It didn't turn out particularly well but I was sure I had sent it.... http://www.carolinemakes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/mexican-chicken-in-mole-sauce-and.html

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  6. What creative recipes, it looks so exciting, and I love Lucy's entry :-)

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  7. This was really challenging but that added to the fun of coming up with the recipes. Some great ideas here.

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  8. What a fantastic collection of sugar free recipes. Who knew sugar free could look/sound/taste so fabulous!

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  9. It's a bit galling to discover my fears that everyone else IS cleverer than me are not unfounded after all, but there are some genius things here. I'm off to find out more about that shrinking mummy drink!

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  10. I will definitely check out everyone else, some delicious looking creations to try.

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  11. Who needs sugar when you can have all these delicious things!
    Off to peak at few...

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  12. What a lovely selection of recipes and a great idea for a January theme!

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  13. I love the range of chocolatey sugar free treats - unfortunately I haven't managed any in my kitchen - it is either feast or famine with sugar lately - probably more feast, I refer to say but I love all the inspiration here and that there are quite a few savoury recipes too

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  14. What a lot of different ideas you've managed to get! Sorry I didn't manage to participate this time round, hopefully I'll manage it next month!

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  15. The brownies look yummy. Another recipe I will have to try.

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  16. As far as I know, the plants grown out of a cocoa bean husk-mulch won't taste of chocolate, but your gardens will smell strongly of chocolate on occasion, especially after rain, or when the sun hits the beds. I know this because when I was younger and had a newspaper round, there was one house which took to mulching with cocoa bean husks, and it made my round so much more enjoyable!

    Expat Eric

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    1. Thanks Eric. A garden smelling of chocolate beats one smelling of roses - I imagine ;-)

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