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Sugar-free carrot loaf

I don’t know about you, but when 4 o’clock comes around my tummy starts feeling empty. Nicholas is usually napping and I’m ready to sit down, have a coffee and not think of mummy things for a little while. Then my mind wanders to thinking about what chocolate we have in the house!  So looking for something healthier for me that could also be a healthier sweet snack or breakfast option for Nicholas, I thought I’d try adapting this Foodista recipe for breakfast carrot muffins.

I used wholemeal flour and used my apple sauce instead of sugar to be healthier. I also substituted the butter with vegetable oil, upped the carrot, added some sultanas and vanilla for extra sweetness, and some spice (cinnamon and nutmeg). I was very happy with the result – a dense moist loaf. Next time I’ll try adding some walnut pieces for some crunch.

This recipe works well both as a loaf or as muffins. Spread with some butter to be indulgent!

SUGAR-FREE CARROT LOAF

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hr
Makes 1 loaf
Freezable

2 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup grated carrot (packed in as tight as you can!)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sultanas


Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg) in a medium-sized bowl.

To the grated carrot mix in the wet ingredients (apple sauce, beaten egg, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla).

Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix fairly quickly to combine. Stir through the raisins and sultanas.

Pour into the loaf tin and cook for 50-60 mins until golden on top and cooked when tested with a skewer.

Variations:

  • add some chopped walnuts
  • add some powdered ginger or cardamom for some extra warm spice
  • make as muffins

Tip: if you have a food processor, check if you have a grating attachment to make preparing the carrot faster and easier.

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Sugar-free apple pikelets

I’ve now whipped up three batches of apple sauce (or applesauce as Americans seem to use). Like most things, the more times you do it the easier it gets and I now feel like I know what I’m doing!

I thought I’d try it out this time as a sweetener in my banana pikelet recipe, replacing the honey. I still have a few banana pikelets in the freezer so I made apple pikelets this time using grated apple. I also meant to add some sultanas to the batter, but my mind drifted onto other things and I forgot. Oh well, there’s always a next time!

Pikelets are small pancakes and are perfect for children to cook when they’re old enough to start doing supervised things in the kitchen. They’d also be a good way to get kids to experiment with different flavour combinations.

These pikelets, like my banana pikelets, aren’t super sweet. You could add some honey to the batter or serve them drizzled with honey or, if you’re not worried about them being sugar-free, add 1/4 cup of sugar to the batter. And don’t worry if you don’t have bicarbonate of soda, as they work just as well without.

Pop the leftovers in the freezer to have for breakfast or a snack another day.

SUGAR-FREE APPLE PIKELETS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes about 20
Freezable

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 sweet apple, grated
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
small piece of butter, melted, to grease the pan

Sift flour, bicarbonate and cinnamon into a medium-sized bowl. Add grated apple, apple sauce and egg, and mix to combine. Gradually add the milk until you get a fairly thick batter (you might not need to add all the milk).

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and brush with melted butter. Use a tablespoon to drop the mixture into the pan. Cook in batches, turning when bubbles appear on the surface (1-2 mins). Cook the other side until golden brown (about 1 min). Lift out and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm.

Variations:

  • add sultanas or raisins to the batter
  • use other fruit instead of the grated apple (mashed banana, whole blueberries, mashed strawberries, etc.)

Tip: Wipe your pan clean with a piece of paper towel after each batch and then brush with some more melted butter.

Sugar-free banana muffins

I was very happy with my apple sauce efforts. Armed with the sauce, I headed back into the kitchen to use it in a recipe instead of sugar. As usual, staring me in the face were some rather ripe bananas so I thought I’d attempt to adapt one of my favourite muffin recipes.

If you don’t want to be bothered making apple sauce (but it only takes 20 minutes!), you can use caster sugar (150g) instead, although then these muffins won’t be sugar-free 😉

SUGAR-FREE BANANA MUFFINS

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30-35 mins
Makes about 16 muffins
Freezable

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
375g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125ml vegetable oil
150ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan). Line muffin trays with paper cases.

Mash the bananas and then mix in the apple sauce.

Put the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix.

In a separate smaller bowl or small jug, whisk together the oil, milk, egg and vanilla (if using). Pour into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the banana and apple sauce and gently mix through the batter quickly.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared paper cases and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden on top and cooked when tested with a skewer.

Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.


Tip
: the ‘secret’ to muffins is mixing the batter just enough to combine the ingredients. Mix too much and you’ll have heavy stodgy muffins. I like to use a spatula. It makes me use bigger stirring movements (smaller ones would beat the mixture too much), and I can scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as I mix to avoid having unmixed flour hiding in the bottom.

So how did they turn out? The texture was exactly the same as using sugar. The taste, for me, isn’t super sweet but sweet enough, and Nicholas wolfed down one whole muffin as soon as they were cool enough to eat, so a success! Hubby’s verdict is that they’re nowhere as sweet as the ones you buy… 🙂

What would you try making using apple sauce instead of sugar?

Apple sauce

I’ve made apple sauce before on many occasions but only as an accompaniment to pork. In fact I think that’s the only way I’d ever eaten apple sauce. Trawling the internet for baby-friendly recipes I kept coming across apple sauce used as a sweetener then discovered its use as a sugar substitute. So I searched for some recipes just to be sure it didn’t have any ‘secret’ ingredients.

I was surprised to discover that the majority of recipes had sugar in them (maybe my searching skills aren’t as good as I think they are!). Hmmm, why put sugar in something you’re using as a sugar substitute? Ok, you’re still reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe and yes, some apples need some sweetening up, but why not just use sweet apples? Armed with some sweet Gala apples I was ready to experiment.

One of the things I dislike most in the kitchen is peeling fruit and vegetables. One of the reasons is that I’m super clumsy and easily distracted so no matter how much I try to concentrate I always manage to either peel some of my finger or slice through a nail. And besides wounding myself, peeling can take up a lot of time.

I decided not to peel the apples and see how the sauce turned out. Not only did it save me loads of time, but there’s lots of goodness in the peel. If, like me, you don’t have one of those wonderful gadgets that cores and chops your apples into wedges in one go, just chop the four sides off each apple, chopping the large pieces in half. I also added some slices of lemon to the pot to stop the apple from browning as it cooked.

Some recipes add ground cinnamon after pureeing. I wanted to keep my apple sauce plain as you can always add cinnamon at the point when you’re adding it to a recipe. Some people also add some butter as well as sugar to the finished sauce. I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

So how did my experiment of leaving the peel on work out? Well the peel does produce a slightly grainy texture to the sauce after pureeing it. If you’re using the sauce in other recipes you’d never know this though. Even if I was feeding the sauce to a baby (either on its own or mixed with other fruit or vegetables) I honestly wouldn’t worry about the texture.

APPLE SAUCE

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes about 1 1/2 cups or about 450ml of sauce
Freezable

6 sweet apples (eg. Gala, Red Delicious or Fuji)
1 cup water
2 slices of lemon

Chop the four sides off each apple and chop the large pieces in half. Put the chopped apple in a medium pot with the water and slices of lemon.

Bring to the boil then drop the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the apple cooks evenly.

Drain the apple and discard the lemon. Puree in the pot with a hand blender.

Now I’m off to make something with my apple sauce!