Tag Archives: Cinnamon

A Super-Healthy Carrot, Pineapple and Coconut Oil Cake dedicated to Jacques and his Grandpa

Carrot Cake RecipeNumerous events have occurred lately that have made me take stock and have a serious think about mine and my family’s diet. Two of which I’m going to tell you about today, hopefully without boring you too much! Firstly there’s Jacques. The boy with a terrible phlegmy night-time cough that he’s had all too regularly from the tender age of 8 months, keeping us awake for many an hour and many a night, sometimes for several months at a time. Numerous trips to the doctors when he was younger confirmed nothing. Then a few weeks ago, at a particularly sleep deprived time around his 3rd birthday we started to do lots of reading around the issue, and to my surprise discovered the cough may be down to a cow’s milk allergy. I have to confess to being a little sceptical as allergies, fortunately, don’t run in either of our families. But I thought I’d give it a go, immediately cutting out all cows milk, yogurts and cheeses. And do you know what, the cough dramatically stopped that very first night! Bearing in mind he’d been coughing every night for at least an hour for the previous few weeks this was a bit of a breakthrough. To say the least.

And since then I’ve on the whole been sticking to it, not regimentally as he obviously doesn’t have a severe allergy, but definitely making sure there’s no (cow’s) dairy in the late afternoons and evenings. And for a boy that adores his after-dinner yogurts (clearly where the problem lay!) this meant switching to sheep’s milk ones instead, which interestingly happen to be far tastier and handily readily available in yogurt-loving France. Luckily he’s never been a milk fan. And he’s barely coughed since. How wonderful is that?!. The (somewhat bitter) downside of his better nights of sleep are the ever-earlier wake ups, but that’s another story!

Jacques with his Grandpa

Jacques with his beloved Grandpa

Now the second event was a chance viewing of ITV’s DayBreak show (actually a friend called me up to watch it) and an interview with a young chappie, Kal Parmar, who claimed his father’s Alzheimer’s had dramatically reversed as a result of taking a regular dose of Coconut Oil. Following the show I turned to google and found quite a few people in the States were making similar claims. And Kal, being a budding film maker, is making a film about his dad, which I’ll be most excited to see. My own father has Alzheimer’s and was diagnosed a year and a half ago. So naturally he’s on strict instructions to take his Coconut Oil! And Coconut Oil being the wonder fat and food that it is, it strikes me he’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

But more on the wonders of Coconut Oil in a later blog (of which I have quite a few baked and planned!), but for now I’ll crack on with today’s recipe. A very low-sugar, low-fat, cow’s milk-free and pretty darned healthy Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake in honour of both Jacques and my dear Dad, who happen to share a very special bond. It uses Coconut Oil and Yogurt (Sheep’s in my case) in replacement of the usually large measure of Sunflower Oil, which make the cake a good deal healthier as well as being exceptionally moist. Despite it’s healthy line-up of ingredients this cake is impressively high in the taste stakes and we all loved it. And I know my Dad will too, nudge nudge Mum….

If you can’t source or don’t want to use coconut oil, just replace with sunflower. And if you want to naughty things up somewhat this would be sublime with a cream cheese frosting…

Carrot & Pineapple Cake

Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake

Great for toddlers, bigger kids, grown ups, dieters, healthy eaters, baking with kids, elevensies, lunch boxes, afternoon tea, after school treats, carrot cake fiends

Makes 20 – 25 small pieces

300g of Plain Flour

2 heaped teaspoons of ground Cinnamon

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

½ a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

150g of dark Soft Brown Sugar

4 medium Free Range Eggs

180ml of Plain Yogurt, Sheeps or Cows

60ml of Coconut Oil (softened) or Sunflower Oil

zest of an Orange

zest of a Lemon

220g of finely grated Carrots

120g of Sultanas

227g tin of Pineapple pieces, in natural juice, drained

Special Equipment: a 20cm by 20cm square baking tin, or similar

Pre-heat your oven to 150°c and line a small baking tin (about 20cm by 20cm) with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarb into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.

My chief stirrer!

My chief stirrer!

In another bowl lightly beat the eggs with a whisk, then whisk in the  yogurt, coconut oil and orange and lemon zest. Employ a whisker and a stirrer (i.e. small child) if you have one.

Pour the egg and yogurt mix into the flour and sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Then mix in the carrots and sultanas. Cut the pineapple pieces into small chunks and stir these in too.

Scrape the cake mix into the lined tin.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out of the tin and allow to cool a little on a cooling rack. It’s truly wonderful eaten fresh out-of-the-oven-warm. With a cuppa for the grown up folk.

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The Healthy Epicurean's Almond Chocolate Cake

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Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

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Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

We’ve just had a couple of days of bank jolidays here in France and it rained. It’s pretty much expected and part of the course of bank holidays in the UK, with the amazing exception of this last weekend obviously, but not so normal here!. So rain meant a spot of indoor baking with the littlies which we haven’t managed for quite a while now with all the flitting around I’ve been doing lately. And with a couple of prosperous rhubarb plants in the garden and the Swallow Recipes for Life challenge to mind we made some tasty and fairly wholesome Rhubarb Crumble Muffins together.

Francesca & Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

Tucking into their muffins, in a short break from the bank holiday rain!

I’m actually staying at my friend Debbie’s house this week with the littlies, on the premise of doggie and horsey sitting. To be honest it’s been a welcome wee joliday for us all, wonderful to spend some quality and relaxed time with the kids after my recent three trips to the UK without them. And they’ve been the most chilled I’ve known them in recent times. Not that anyone would exactly call either of my kids ‘chilled’, but they have indeed been a good deal calmer than normal!. And for me, I’ve enjoyed getting my blogging and cooking mojo back, hence a spree of planned blogs I have for you in store.

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The Lovely Dexter

These surprisingly healthy muffins are very low in sugar (and dark soft brown sugar at that) and fat (sunflower oil, apart from a little butter in the crumble topping). To increase the health stakes you could always omit the crumble topping and switch the plain flour for wholemeal (which I was intending to do but had run out!). Or you could un-health and sweeten with a little additional sugar if you wish!.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

swallow-recipes-for-lifeJust incase you missed my earlier posts the Somerset based charity SWALLOW, through the lovely Vanesther of Bangers and Mash Chat, are running a six month Recipes for Life challenge.  Each month three ingredients are picked and bloggers are challenged to come up with easy, tasty and wholesome dishes using them. And for May the ingredients happen to be Rhubarb, Lemon and Spice. How lovely!

Simple and in SeasonSeeing as Rhubarb’s well and truly in season I’m entering my blog to this month’s Simple and in Season, hosted by Ren Behan herself. Just in case you hadn’t seen, this month there’s a chance of winning the gorgeous and new Yeo Valley Great British Farmhouse Cookbook! So go enter….

breakfast-club-logoAnd finally as they happen to make a pretty tasty, and healthy, breakfast munch (we’ve eaten them for breakie a couple of times now!) to Fuss Free Flavour’s Breakfast Club event. Hosted this month by Katie of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter  and the theme so happening to be Bakes.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Great for Baking with Kids, Rhubarb Lovers and/or Growers, Toddlers, Kids, Growns Ups, Picnics, Breakfasts, Elevensies, Packed Lunches, Afternoon Tea, After-school Munchies

Makes 12

For the Crumble Topping:

60g of Plain Flour

60g of Butter

50g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

40g of Oats

a heaped teaspoon of Cinnamon

For the Muffin Mix:

250g of Plain Flour

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

a heaped teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

½ a teaspoon of Cinnamon

½ a teaspoon of Ground Ginger

a large free range Egg

150ml of natural Yogurt

3 tablespoons of Sunflower Oil

zest of a Lemon

250g of Rhubarb, washed

175g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

Special Equipment: A 12 hole muffin tin, muffin cases

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

Start with making the crumble topping. Place all the crumble ingredients together and rub the butter into the flour, cinnamon, oats and sugar. Set aside.

Sift all the dry muffin ingredients together into a large bowl, namely the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg then stir in the yogurt, oil and lemon zest.

Slice each strip of rhubarb lengthways into 2 or 3 strips depending on width. Then dice across. Place the diced rhubarb in a bowl with the sugar and stir. Set aside.

Combine the egg and yogurt mix with the sugared rhubarb and pour into the flour mix and combine well.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the muffin mix into each muffin case. Then spoon a layer of the crumble mix on the top and lightly press down.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen, golden and a cake skewer comes out clean.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

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Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Yesterday it was Wednesday and there’s no school in most parts of France on Wednesdays so the littlies were at home. A bit odd at first but quite nice for the kids to have a day off half way through the week, especially as the school hours of 9 to 5 are so long (for Frannie anyway). Over the last few weeks it’s become a bit of baking day at Chez Foti, trying out a new cake or muffin recipe or two and getting the littlies to help with the weighing, pouring, whisking, stirring and of course most importantly the tasting. Yesterday it was the turn of a Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, not only one of the ‘healthiest’ cakes I’ve ever made but one of the moistest and most temptingly delicious. And the kids LOVE it. I think this’ll be a regular Wednesday bake!.

The stirring and tasting team

I love experimenting with veggies in cakes, much to the horror of the French who still haven’t really got to grips with the humble carrot cake. I made many a Courgette Cake with homemade Lemon Curd over the summer, and lots of Chocolate Courgette or Marrow Cakes of late using up the last of the glut. I’ve also baked quite a bit with Butternut Squash in Muffins and Cakes and once even made a gloriously coloured Beetroot Chocolate Cake. But using Pumpkin was a newbie to me, and after a couple of attempts I’ve perfected my recipe and it really is a winner. Low in sugar, and only using healthier unrefined Light Muscavado anyway, and richly flavoured by Roasted Pumpkin, Cocoa and a little warming Cinnamon.

We’ve more than a few pumpkins at Chez Foti, to be honest I’ve not counted them but there’s a lot. They should definitely see us through the winter and I have a feeling the blog will be moving from it’s recent tomato red to pumpkin orange. I’ve picked a few already but most are still out on the patch and will stay there slowly ripening until there’s a risk of frosts.

The Leaning Tower of Pumpkins!

I’m entering this blog for my first ever time to the We Should Cocoa challenge, held by Choclette of the Chocolate Log Blog and the Chocolate Teapot Blog and this month guest hosted by Hungry Hinny. This month’s challenge is to pair Pumpkin with Chocolate or Cocoa.

I’m going for a double whammy and also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, as this month the ingredient so happens to be Squash or Pumpkin!. The challenge is held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

I baked my cake in a medium sized baking tin and made a wee extra in one of my Oogaa bowls for the kids. Being silicone they’re perfect for baking cakes in. Incase you haven’t already dropped by, the Oogaa Recipe site is now up and running and features several Chez Foti baby and kids recipes. You can even add your own recipes!

The kids love their cakes baked in an Oogaa silicone bowl

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Makes one very large traybake (20 x 35cm tin) or a smaller tin and a few individual cakes. Can be frozen.

700g of pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into very large chunks

120g of unsalted butter, room temperature

120ml of sunflower oil

260g of light muscovado sugar

3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten

130ml of milk

350g of plain flour

50g of cocoa powder

2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Special Equipment: 20 x 35cm baking tin lined with baking parchment, or 6 silicone Oogaa bowls 

Begin with roasting your pumpkin. Place the very large chunks on a baking sheet in an oven pre-heated to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5. Bake for about 40 minutes until they’re pretty soft, turning once or twice during the cooking time. Once cooked remove from the pan, place in a bowl and thoroughly mash with a potato masher. Leave to cool a little. This part could always be done before, when you happen to be using the oven.

Meanwhile start the cake batter. Place the very soft butter, sunflower oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir or whisk until well combined.

Whisk in the eggs, followed by the milk.

Now gradually sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon to the cake mixture, stirring until well combined with each sifting.

Finally stir in the slightly cooled mashed pumpkin and spoon out into your lined baking tin or bowls. Bake big cakes in the preheated oven (190ºC/Gas Mark 5) for 30 to 40 minutes and smaller ones for around 25 minutes. They’re ready when they’re firm to touch on the top (but still feeling a little squidgy), and an inserted skewer comes out clean of crumbs.

Cut into squares and serve as soon as cool enough to eat. You won’t be able to resist long!

Here’s some other Chez Foti sweet treats: Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Chocolate Brownies, My Girly Fairy Cake Heaven, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins.

Little Miss F having an approving taste!

Cinnamon & Greengage or Plum Jam

I’ve recently got into jam making @ Chez Foti and I’m totally hooked. My Dad’s an amazing jam, marmalade, chutney and pickle maker and has been supplying Family Foti with his wonderful retirement hobby preserves for years. To be honest when we lived in the UK and had his ready supply I never even considered making my own (and had a distinct lack of time with two very little littlies!), but now we’re in France and one and a half of the children are at school (Little Miss F full time and Master J part time) I finally have a few snippets of time for jam making. Plus we’ve had an amazing abundance of wild fruit at Chez Foti this summer and autumn. The old plum tree and five greengages have been weighed down with their fruity wares this year, none of which bore a single fruit last year. We’ve also a crazy amount of blackberries, a couple of apple trees and three old but exceptionally fruitful pear trees. And plenty of neighbours with unlimited kilos of figs going spare.

It’s been surprisingly easy to get good results with the jam making, but then I could be having a long spate of beginners luck!. So far I’ve made four different batches of plum or greengage jam, using different sugars and adding or omitting cinnamon, but the recipe below is my favourite. I’m not even a jam gal normally, much preferring my marmite, peanut butter or (dad’s) marmalade on my toast in the morning. But now we have jars and jars of the homemade stuff I can’t resist, and the same for the kids who’ve never really liked jam much before. Mr F however is and always has been a BIG jam eater, and nothing else for him will ever suffice on toast. Needless to say he’s one happy husband these days loving my latest foray into the world of jam making!.

Master J sneakily dipping into my jam!

Last autumn I tried my hand for the first time at chutney making, again with some very pleasing beginners luck results. As yet I haven’t got around to chutneying this year, though have all the ingredients and a garden and potager full of waiting wares, so watch this space!. I should also mention I recently made a huge batch of the most wonderful Fig Jam flavoured with port and lemon following a recipe from a new-to-me-blog The Garden Deli. Please drop by and have a peruse at this gorgeous blog, and if you happen to have a kilo or three of figs going spare then you MUST make this jam, equally wonderful on toast in the morning or as a savory preserve served with goats or sheeps cheeses.

As the theme of this month’s Tea Time Treats blogging challenge, held jointly by Karen @ Lavender and Lovage and this month by Kate @ What Kate Baked, is Jams, Chutneys, Curds and Conserves I’m entering for the first ever time!.

Cinnamon Greengage or Plum Jam

To make 5 average sized jars:

1.5 kilos of plums or greengages, washed, halved and stoned

400ml of water

1.25 kilos of granulated sugar

2 heaped teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Place the halved and de-stoned plums or greengages together with the water in a very large pan, preferably a jam or maslin pan. Place on a medium heat and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until the fruit and skins are a little softened.

Stir in the sugar and cinnamon and raise the heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to boil reasonably furiously until setting point is reached, either by a thermometer temperature of 104.5 or by testing a drop on a cold saucer (place a couple in the fridge at the start of the jam making process). If you can wrinkle the jam (just a little) after a minute on the saucer it’s good to go.

Immediately pour into sterilised jars and top with a wax disc and the jar lid whilst still piping hot.

And here he is again sneaking a greengage!


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