The shops are packed with bunnies, chicks and chocolate eggs galore which makes it really...uhm... REALLY hard to not be reminded that this year has indeed hopped along swiftly and yes we have Easter weekend winking at us already. I must say, living in the USA for a while has helped me to understand the bunny and chick thing a bit better. After a long, cold and snowy winter it is almost as if celebrating Easter and the announcement of SPRING got infused into the first bright patch of green grass. Beautiful, Green, NEW, LIFE emerges itself from all corners and you almost cannot help to feel like you need to fall in love... It is truly a beautiful time of the year. I love spring! I love it because every single springtime feels like a season of second chances are once again gifted to mankind. However, Easter in the Southern hemisphere looks (and feels) a bit different. As we start to appreciate the coolness of the evenings and the crispness of the mornings, we know that winter is coming. It is much more a time of reflection and preparing for the world around us to change into a calming state of rest. As the first leaves start to fall and the vineyards around my little town turns orange, yellow and brown, I don't focus as much on the infusion of green or new, but find myself mostly counting blessings and feeling content.
So for this Easter post, I decided to make the theme "bitter-sweet" and incorporate the significance of this time of celebration into healthy, meaningful, low carb treats that my husband and I can use to teach our kids. For me, it is the stone that was rolled away and the HOPE that we have in our hearts. The message of salvation that is sweeter than chocolate. CHRIST HAS RISEN! And even though I loved posting the hot CROSS buns, it felt like celebrating only the first half of this truly life changing story. Actually not just a story... HIS story or as we so often refer to it simply as history...
This is what I am planning to serve as an Easter Sunday Breakfast treat. Burnt orange and dark chocolate bagels with a generous helping of plain or home - made cinnamon cream cheese. I think our non-low carb guests will feel loved at the thought of chocolate for breakfast. (People don't always know what to expect from people who follow a grain - free, mainly sugar - free lifestyle.) This is a treat! And I think it is very important to remember that food is fuel - firstly, medicine - secondly, and food is also meant for the occasional feasting! By making the right swops, you can have all three of these important boxes ticked. And having the boxes ticked properly, means no need to compromise with the commercial, processed foods.
Here is what my plan of action is as far as feasting is concerned.
1. I plan on baking these bagels early Sunday morning and allow the smell of chocolate and freshly baked bread to lure my family and guests from their bedrooms. We will then have a cup of freshly brewed coffee and chocolate oozing bagels for a quick and easy breakfast. Louis will casually tell our kids that I prepared some stones for breakfast - he will keep a straight face as long as he can and then, like the awesome dad he is, tell them the awe inspiring true story of Jesus' resurrection and the angel who rolled away the giant stone that was used to seal the entrance of his grave. It sounds like a super hero story doesn't it!
2. This meal will fuel us well into our day. A bit more carbs than what we are used to for breakfast, but like I said, it is a celebration! (We are still mindfully making new memory moments and building new traditions as we go!)
3. Around noon we will settle around a wood fire, munching on some local cheese, avo slices, veggies and my rosemary and black pepper crackers, while my hubby will start a lovely lamb knuckle "potjie"/stew filled with non - starchy veggies galore and served over cauli rice.
4. For dessert the kids will each get to hunt for a Lindt 60% dark chocolate bunny and one or two no sugar added - chocolate eggs. (This is also all they will have room for! So we would have side stepped most of the sugar - filled , colour bombarded, fake food treats all together. Phew!) I will serve a little dessert platter of home - made marshmallows, mini creme brûlée cups and coffee to the "kids" over 40 ;-)
All and all - we will aim for between 50 - 80 grams of carbs for the day. The kids will probably lean more towards 80 grams. Feasting put into perspective. No need to feel guilty or deprived within these parameters. Filled with loads of healthy fat and nutrient dense, anti-oxidant rich foods, dinner will not be needed, but if anyone feels peckish, my refrigerator will be stocked with bone broth or a few egg surprise muffins. (Book 2)
But first things first... let's get on with those recipes!
I made my sweet bagels from Book 2 and added a bit of the lovely Lime and Ginger dark chocolate bar from DV chocolates. (Available at Woolworths) I paired it with a bit of candied Naartjie/Tangerine peel for texture and depth of taste.
Choc-Swirl Bagels Recipe:
Prep time: 20 - 25 minutes
Baking time: 20 - 25 minutes
Carbs: 6.3 grams of nett carbs per bagel.
Candied Naartjie peel:
Peel of 1 small naartjie, finely chopped
1 Tbsp xylitol
2 - 3 Tbsp water
Sweet Bagel/Dough 3
1 Tbsp psyllium husk powder
3/4 cup water
60 g grass-fed butter
1 Tbsp xylitol
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large (Not x-large) egg ( or 2 medium eggs) Size matters with this recipe.
1/4 cup flour of choice to sprinkle over the dough ball if need to make handling the dough a bit easier. (Optional)
40g quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
[IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to use your own ground up, home-made sunflower flour or nut flour, be sure to halve the butter and eggs and add 2 - 3 Tbsp coconut flour to your dry ingredients. This will even out the higher oil content of the freshly milled flour.]
Candied Naartjie Peel:
Place the peel, xylitol and water in a small saucepan on medium to high heat and allow the liquids to reduce until almost dry for 3 - 4 minutes until only glossy bits of peel remains.
Preheat the oven to 190C
In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the water and butter together on medium heat. You don't want the water to boil before the butter has melted properly, so take things nice and slow.
Mix the 2 cups flour, salt, xylitol and psyllium husk powder together in a separate bowl, making sure the psyllium is mixed in evenly.
As soon as the butter has melted and the water starts to boil, add the dry ingredients to the saucepan and stir until the mixture forms a ball of dough. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook the dough ball while moving it around in the saucepan for about 1 minute. You want the dough ball to have an elastic but firm-to-the-touch consistency.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and place the dough ball in a mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Now, break the egg(s) and vanilla into the mixing bowl with the dough ball and mix with an electric mixer for about 1 minute. Add the candied peel and chocolate chunks. Scrape all the dough from the sides and work into a soft dough ball making sure to gentle work the chocolate and naartjie peel into the dough. Sprinkle with a little of the extra flour and use your hands to shape the dough into a log. This is literally just to shape the dough, don't try to knead it like you would with glutinous doughs.
Cut the log into six equal parts and then roll each part into a rope and attach ends to form a bagel shape. This process is a bit messy and sticky with the chocolate, but try to work quickly with light hands and don't aim for too perfect of a bagel shape.
Place on a baking paper covered cookie pan and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until firm and slightly browned.
Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with a lovely creme fraiche or creme cheese while still slightly warm. Enjoy it! And enjoy the sweet story that comes with this meal.
If you would like to see a demo of dough 3, please feel free to watch THIS quick demo.
Now... on to the next legendary Easter Treat. Marshmallows!!! I'm referring to the chocolate covered egg types. We used to buy them on a string, or by them in a box. Oh man! As long as you don't look at the label - bliss was to follow with the first bite. But marshmallows in all it's shapes are fun to eat right?
However, at 6 grams of carbs per 1 single regular pink or white store bought mallow, you can see how you can quickly end up with a lot of sugar in the bloodstream and no nutrients what so ever.
So what are we mindful eaters to do? We whip up a healthy batch off course. And then we transform them little fluffy bites of fun into all sorts of great palate pleasing combinations, using only real food ingredients. The good for you kinds!
Bulk Low Carb Marshmallow Recipe
Hands on time: 20 minutes
Hands off time: 4 hours
Yields 50 - 60
About 0.5g carbs per block covered in coconut.
350g egg whites (about 8 - 9 eggs) You can use the yolks in my creme brûlée recipe.
1 cup powdered xylitol (Made in your coffee grinder or bullet blender)
A few stevia drops to taste ( optional - to increase sweetness if preferred)
1 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract or a few drops mint oil to taste
8 Tbsp gelatin powder
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cup boiling water
2 - 3 Tbsp coconut flour to use as dusting
Line a 20cm x 30cm deep dish or baking pan with baking paper and sprinkle a layer of coconut flour over the bottom.
In a bowl, add the cold water to the gelatine powder allow the gelatine to "bloom", This takes about 2 minutes. Add the boiling water and stir or whisk the bloomed, hard gel layer until it is fully incorporated and dissolved into the hot water.
Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites for about a minute. Slowly add the vanilla, apple cider vinegar, cream of tartar salt and powdered xylitol. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks appear.
Slowly, add a steady stream of the gelatine while you continue mixing with your electric mixer. It will feel like forever... it should be thick and glossy within 4 - 6 minutes though. Taste if the sweetness level is satisfying and add a few stevia drops if needed. Keep in mind that a chocolate layer or a coconut coating will also add sweetness.
Quickly scoop and spread the marshmallow mousse into your prepared dish or pan. The mallow mousse will start to set quite quickly.
Refrigerate for 3 - 4 hours.
Coconut cover layer:8 - 10 Tbsp desiccated coconut
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp xylitol
But wait! There is more! You can also melt a bit of quality dark chocolate in a double boiler and allow it to cool a tiny bit before spreading it over half of your batch for a lovely variation.
1. Smother 2. Top with chopped nuts or a sprinkle of toasted coconut. 3. Refrigerate for 10 - 15 minutes 4. Cut into preferred portions once set.
I even experimented with this little idea, but alas, it needs to be perfected still. I love you guys, but even I have a limit to the amount of chocolate anything I can work with in any given week. ;-)
I used some marshmallow and scooped it into a coconut oiled,silicone muffin tin. I then scooped out a tsp amount from the centre of each cup and added a bit of Simply Delish Natural Peach Jelly. I made the jelly with only 1 cup boiling water instead of the suggested 400ml in order to make it a bit firmer in consistency. Was not my best moment ever. The jelly was like a gummy blob and too heavy for the mallow. I will leave you to experiment a bit, but what I will probably do next time is make a lighter yellow jelly dessert with 200ml cream and 200ml boiling water. We shall have our marshmallow easter eggs one day... I am kinda sorta sure we will figure it out. But this year we will quit while we are ahead and treat our treats wisely. For goodness' sake! Have a lovely, and blessed Easter time from my family to yours.