Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Three more days until Christmas! Joy is officially in the air. I can even smell it. It’s a combination of pine, bonfire, cold air, cloves and fresh baked sugar cookies. Christmas has a distinctive scent that can’t be bottled into a candle. I did try to replicate it in this cake though.

Fruit cake is the butt of every holiday joke. Typically weighing almost ten pounds, filled with every fruit and nut imaginable and said to last forever, they are loathed by most. This cake is my attempt to change that. How can dried fruits and chocolate in a cake not be delicious? I was inspired by watching Nigella Lawson bake her famous Christmas Cake. She makes the holiday magical and it’s easy to fall under her cooking spell. The tiny, twinkle lights covering her kitchen will entrance you. Nigella calls her cake a trifecta of aromas, with fruits, cinnamon and cloves. Fruit cake is edible Christmas.

The tart cherry juice in this recipe intensifies each dried fruit. You can substitute apple, orange or pineapple juice if cherry isn’t your favorite. Coconut flour can be crumbly so be extra careful when removing the finished cake from the pan.

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Makes 1 9” cake.

1 cup tart cherry juice for soaking fruit – I used Cheribundi brand.
1 cup currants
½ cup dried blueberries
½ cup dates – about 10 dates – chopped
½ cup dried peaches – chopped
½ cup dried apricots – chopped
2 ½ tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ cup coconut flour, sifted
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
4 tbsp cacao powder or good quality cocoa powder
1 cup mashed banana – overly-ripe
5 eggs
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil – melted

►Combine cherry juice, currants, blueberries, dates, peaches, apricots, lemon zest and ginger in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Then remove from heat and cover until all juice is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

►Grease a springform cake pan with coconut oil and line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper too. Set aside.
►Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
►In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and cacao powder. Set aside.
►In a separate mixing bowl, whisk eggs and banana with a hand mixer. Add in maple syrup and melted coconut oil.
►Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix well. Add in all fruit and stir until well combined.
►Bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.
►Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

This week I brought home the spaghetti squash to feed a village. The thing was at least 12 pounds! Check out the photo is you don’t believe me. It would be a big, blue ribbon winner in any county fair. Needless to say, I needed some recipes to use up all that squash.

First I made Brittany Angell’s Bacon Carbonara sauce with chicken. So delicious! The coconut milk is the perfect substitute for cream and I didn’t even miss the cheese. Now that’s a huge game changer. I thought creamy pasta sauces were expelled from my life, never to be enjoyed again. Coconut milk is saving my taste buds. The carbonara gave me a hankering for more cream-based pastas and I went all in for an old childhood favorite, spaghetti alfredo.

The sauce cooks in less time than the traditional dairy-filled version and is just as rich and creamy. I included heavy amounts of onion and garlic in this so if you’re not a fan just scale it back by half.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash Alfredo
Alfredo
Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo
Serves 2
Rich, creamy dairy free alfredo sauce.
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup full fat canned coconut milk
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 2 tbsp sweet onion – minced
  4. 2 garlic cloves – minced
  5. 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  6. ¼ tsp salt
  7. ½ tsp pepper
  8. ½ tsp dried basil
  9. ½ tsp dried oregano
  10. ¼ tsp lemon
  11. 1 tbsp fresh parsley – chopped
Instructions
  1. ►Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the squash. Slice in half lengthways and place skin-side-up in a shallow baking pan filled with a ½ inch of water. Roast for 1 hour until tender and the meat easily pulls away from the skin.
  2. ►For the sauce, place onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse until fine. Set aside.
  3. ►Heat coconut milk and water over medium heat in a small sauce pan, stirring constantly. When it begins to simmer, turn down to low heat. Stir in the minced onion and garlic.
  4. ►Slowly add in the arrowroot a ½ tbsp at a time, stirring constantly to avoid any lumps. Cook for five minutes until mixture begins to thicken. If too thick, add more water and if too thin add ½ more tbsp of arrowroot.
  5. ►Once to the right thickness, add in all spices and mix well.
  6. ►Toss with spaghetti squash and serve topped with parsley. You can add your favorite fish or seafood to this dish for a complete meal. I paired mine with yummy wild caught salmon.
Adapted from Brittany Angell’s Bacon Carbonara
Sparkle Kitchen http://sparklekitchen.com/

Thanksgiving Grain-free “Cornbread” Dressing

Thanksgiving Grain-free "Cornbread" Dressing

When I think of Thanksgiving, I go right to the dressing. Turkey is a side dish. All I want is a huge plate of my Granny’s dressing drenched in giblet gravy with some turkey sprinkled on top.

And yes, it’s called dressing. Not stuffing. Who actually stuffs their turkey anyway? It’s called dressing when you cook it in a pan. If you bake a stuffed turkey, you run the risk of bacteria developing since it takes longer for the stuffing to reach an appropriate temperature than the bird. Then you have an overcooked, very dry turkey.

My Granny’s dressing is famous in our family. She has to use her largest pan to meet the demand. But now that I try to limit grains in my diet, I challenged myself to recreate the recipe. I took the base of my Granny’s dressing and substituted the cornbread for cauliflower and parsnips.

This low carb alternative has an unbelievably similar consistency and it looks, tastes and smells exactly like dressing. Cauliflower absorbs whatever flavor you spice it with and parsnips add some crunch.

The nutrition is unmatched in comparison to the original recipe. The original is made with cornbread and white bread, which offer little nutritionally and cause a great spike in your insulin levels. Heavy carbs are to blame for the lethargic feeling and infamous post Thanksgiving meal nap. My new version adds an extra serving of veggies and I won’t feel guilty going back for that second helping.

Thanksgiving Grain-free "Cornbread" Dressing

Makes 6 servings.

3 cups – cauliflower – minced
1 cup parsnips – chopped
1 ½ cup celery – chopped
½ cup – onion – chopped
1 tsp garlic – minced
1 tbsp butter for roasting and sautéing
1 egg – whisked
½ cup chicken stock
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp salt

►Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut up cauliflower into small chunks and food process until it’s the consistency of rice. Butter a baking pan and spread onto the pan.
►Chop parsnips into small cubes and spread over a buttered baking sheet.
►Bake both the parsnips and cauliflower for 10 minutes.
►While those are baking, sauté the onion, celery and garlic in 1/2 tbsp butter for 3 minutes until onions are translucent.
►Combine cauliflower, parsnips and sautéed vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, stock, seasoning and salt and then mix well.
►Heat oven to 350 degrees.
►Spread into a 13”x9” baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.
►Serve with turkey and generous amounts of gravy.