Christmas cake

Chocolate and cream = heaven! You’d never guess there was butternut squash in the cake, either in taste or in texture. In fact, I tend to play the ‘guess the vegetable’ game with my friends, and they rarely guess right. With the butternut squash replacing the butter, though, this really is a light recipe. It’s also really easy to jazz up for different occasions – I’ll give a few examples below. I don’t want to jinx anything, but this cake has never failed. Stick to the recipe, and something beautiful inevitably surprises you 🙂

3 organic eggs (seriously, for the chickens’ wellbeing as well as your own health, go organic)

100g caster sugar (this means the cake is not massively sweet, so you can add up to 160g if you really have a sweet tooth, but this blog is about healthy yumminess after all, and I think the chocolate flavour adds sufficient depth) – you can replace with coconut sugar (I don’t tolerate this)

200g raw butternut squash (peeled and grated as finely as your food processor will go). You can replace it with carrot or sweet potato (don’t use regular pumpkin)

120g rice flour, semolina, or quinoa flour (I tend to use whatever I have in the house – spelt doesn’t work so well here though so I’d stick with gluten-free)

80g hazelnuts, ground finely – a coffee grinder will work nicely. When I don’t have almonds in the house, I tend to just use more of the flour above, but the almond does add more flavour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

125ml milk (use buttermilk if you have it, but if not, any milk – yes also dairy free – will do)

Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Line two 18cm diameter tins (preferably with removable bottoms) with baking parchment and grease the tins too.

Whisk the eggs for 5 minutes with the sugar. Then add the grated vegetable (you can do this with the mixer on slow speed or manually), followed by the other dry ingredients.

Add the milk and whisk slowly till the whole mixture is well combined.

Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. If you don’t have two tins, you can pour the mixture into one tin, but if you do that, I’d increase the baking time to at least 40 minutes and then check whether it’s ready.

Once they’re ready, remove the cakes from the oven and their tins and let them cool down entirely, until they’re entirely cold.

As for fillings and topping, I tend to go with my imagination and according to what I have in the house. Here are some ideas:
– For a no-fuss option, I tend to go with a lovely layer of 250g whipped lactose-free cream sandwiched between the two cakes (I tend to add either pineapple chunks or cherries through the cream, though I’m sure it would work with strawberries or other fruits too – nectarines or peaches perhaps?) and a cocoa powder layer sprinkled on top of the constructed cake.
– For a more stylish version, I add 50g mascarpone and 50g yoghurt to 250ml cream (all lactose-free) for the middle. Oh, you could add sugar to it, but that would make it too sweet (and unhealthy) for me – the natural sugars from the fruit will add desired sweetness. For the top, I melt 200g of dark cooking chocolate with 200ml of lactose-free cream. Let that cool down until it becomes creamy in texture (rather than entirely runny) and then pour it over the top.

– Do you like my christmassy decoration? I got the inspiration here ( though whoever made that cake did something much more stunning than mine), and added fresh pine and holly from the garden. What an amazing discovery that was, that you can dip anything (anything?!) in egg white and then cover it in caster sugar and it comes out looking like it’s covered in a lovely frost layer. Go wild!


Trio of almonds: milk, cake, and cookies

I’ve been making my own nut milk in the past few months, and have had great fun experimenting with what works and… what doesn’t. Making almond milk, though, leaves you with a kind of almond meal at the end, which I’ve been unhappy to throw away. I’ve been drying and freezing batches, but today I wanted to see how I could use it up immediately. And so here is my trio of almond recipes: milk, cake, and cookies.

Almond milk
A few notes: first of all, I’ve used my precious Vitamix to make this milk. You can use a regular blender too, though, without any problems. You’ll be left with more almond meal as the blender won’t grind the almonds as finely as a Vitamix, but that’s not a problem.
Secondly, you can obviously mix and match in your milks. I like almond and coconut the best. I’ve tried making rice milk and didn’t like it as much as the shop bought one, but others might disagree. You can substitute the almonds for other nuts, such as hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, or even gluten-free oats.
Finally, try to buy raw almonds or other nuts. Non-raw ones are pasteurised and further processed.

150g almonds
30g coconut flakes
1.8l of water
50ml of rice syrup
A sprinkle of salt

– Blend almonds, coconut flakes and water in the blender for 3 minutes.
– Pour the mix over into a high pot through a sieve to take the biggest bits out.
– Pour over into a second pot through a cheese cloth or thick kitchen towel so you’re left with a thin, milk like consistency. Thin it further with water if it’s too thin.
– Add rice syrup and a dash of salt to taste.
The milk will keep only for 3-4 days, so keep it in the fridge.

Almond and chocolate cake
This is an adaptation from Harry Eastwood’s delightful blonde recipe from her book Red Velvet and chocolate heartache. But with some significant changes…

100g sugar
3 eggs
250g grated butternut squash
100g almond meal (no need to make it completely dry)
50g buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
A sprinkling of salt
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Pre-hear the oven to 180C.
Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl for 5 mins until properly fluffy.
– Add the butternut squash and the dry ingredients apart from the chocolate and beat slowly.
– Pour half of the mix into a pre-oiled metal tin or a silicone tin, put the chocolate pieces on top, and pour he rest of te dough on top.
– Put into the oven for 25 minutes and leave to cool in the tin.
Enjoy with some cream!!

almonds 1.pngAlmond cookies
These are the staple of my kid’s youth. Nutritious and adaptable, I rarely go without them for a week.

100g sugar
200g cold lactose-free (or vegan) butter, chopped into pieces
2 eggs
200g almond meal (or however much you have left)
100g buckwheat flour
200g rice flour (or however much you need to top up the almond flour and buckwheat to 500g)
1 tsp xantham
100g chopped chocolate pieces
100g chopped pecan and/or hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Beat the sugar and sugar in a bowl until fluffy.

Add the eggs and beat again until almost smooth.

Add the other ingredients and kneed together until you get a smooth dough.

Roll out the dough until it is 1cm thick and cut shapes out of it.

Put those onto baking parchment and bake for 17 mins (or slightly more or less – keep an eye on it that they don’t get too brown.)

almonds 2.png

Chewy hazelnut and choc chip cookies with butternut squash

I recently bought Kate Hackworthy’s Veggie Desserts + Cakes, because though most of her recipes aren’t gluten or lactose free, there is so much inspiration to be got from her creativity. Today I made a first attempt at baking her hazelnut and butternut squash cookies. I adapted the recipe so it’s gluten and lactose free, and low in sugar, and the cookies turned out beautiful. My 6 year old nephew/godson helped me and it worked very well, so it’s a lovely recipe to try with kids. So here is my recipe, adapted from Kate’s – the cake is gluten free, vegan if you use vegan butter (otherwise lactose free), low in sugar (sugar-free if you use sugar-free chocolate), and high in protein:


125g butternut squash (you can replace it with sweet potato or parsnip)

115g unsalted lactosefree (or vegan) butter, melted and cooled

150g xylitol or erythritol (this makes it virtually sugar free)

1 tsp vanilla extract

125g rice flour

62g starch (tapioca, potato, or mais all work)

62g protein-rich flour (I used lupin, but I’m sure teff would work too)

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)

50g finely chopped dark chocolate (I used chocolate with coconut sugar which doesn’t raise the blood sugar level as much as regular sugar – this is the only sugar present in the cookies)

50g finely chopped hazelnuts (I used those from my mum’s garden which I’d just roasted last night)


Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cut the butternut squash into chunks and put in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft but not burned, then lower the oven temperature to 180C. Puree the butternut squash until smooth.

Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla together (in a standing mixer or with a handheld one) until combined, then add the butternut squash puree and the other ingredients. Add the chopped chocolate and hazelnuts at the end and combine well. The dough will still be a bit sticky but should hold together well.

Make little balls out of the dough and press them into thick circle shapes on a baking sheet with parchment. Bake for 17 minutes covered with a baking sheet or aluminium sheet to stop them turning too brown.

Once you take them out of the oven, leave them to cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. It’ll be very tempting to eat them quickly, but resist the temptation 🙂 They’ll remain chewy in the middle with gooey chocolate chunks. Enjoy!!


Hazelnut & choc chip cookies with butternut squash - Nutrition Label


Blueberry & lemon cake

This is a recipe from a while ago which I’ve since changed the appearance of, but the actual ingredients are still the same…

This is gluten free, lactose free, and low in sugar

4 eggs
200g sugar
250g butternut squash
135g gluten-free flour (I used a mix of rice, quinoa, buckwheat and oats this time)
70g ground almonds
1/2 tsp xanthan
2 tbsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
400ml lactose-free cream
400g blueberries

– Preheat the oven to 180C.
– Beat eggs and sugar for 5 minutes.
– Add the other ingredients apart from lemons, cream and blueberries and mix well.
– Add the lemon zest and juice and mix again.
– Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 mins.
– While it cools, beat the cream and add 2/3 of the blueberries.
– Cut the cake in 2 horizontally. add the cream and blueberry mixture, put the other half of the cake on top, and put the rest of the cream on.
– Arrange blueberries on top as you wish 🙂

blueberry cake.png
Blueberry and lemon cake for afternoon tea


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