A couple of weeks ago I saw a post from a fellow cookbook author, Melissa Monroe McGehee, asking if any fellow authors or restauranteurs would have time to help her out by doing a review of her book, “Satisfying Eats : Grain Free, Sugar Free & Hunger Free Cookbook” – this was an offer I took up readily! Any chance to go through a whole bunch of recipes and share my opinions with my fellow health- & food-fanatics is always greatly received.
I had already purchased Melissa’s book last December so I was familiar with the content but hadn’t studied it with the thought that was needed to write a complete review, so I started at the beginning again, and turned page after page, taking in Melissa’s reasoning for gravitating towards a grain-free and sugar-free existence, her inspiration for going down this route and of course the many recipes in the book. So let me share with you what I found in this wonderfully thought out book.
First of all, the full title of Melissa’s book is “Satisfying Eats: Grain Free, Sugar Free & Hunger Free Cookbook”. This pretty much gives away the premise of the book – to provide recipes that are free from all grains and added sugar, that are satisfyingly tasty and do not leave you hungry. Ok, so I like the idea of not going hungry and I certainly want to be satisfied by my food, meaning I will not want or need to snack my way through the rest of the day. Sounds good. But why grain free and sugar free? This is where Melissa’s story and introduction comes in.
Melissa had often struggled with her weight and suffered from long-lasting migraine headaches with her first pregnancy. One day she stumbled upon the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. Some of you may be familiar with this book, it explains the concept that wheat and other types of grain bring about terrible inflammation in our digestive system, leaving us bloated, carrying extra fat and less able to absorb nutrients from the other foods that we eat. By eliminating grains from the diet, it is thought that we may more easily stabilise blood sugar levels throughout the day, have better sleep and improved mood, have less bloating and quite importantly have less belly fat. We all want that, right?!
I like to find new ingredients to try as often as possible and this week I ordered a few things from my favourite UK supplier of all things healthy – HealthySupplies.co.uk. Amongst my box of goodies this time were some Buckwheat Puffs.
So what exactly IS buckwheat?! Well for a start it has nothing to do with wheat, so the gluten-intolerant amongst you can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s gluten-free. It’s not a grain at all, it’s actually a fruit seed, closely related to rhubarb and sorrel. In terms of taste, for those of you familiar with Sugar Puffs, buckwheat puffs taste kind of like those but without the sugar, if you can imagine that!. If you want the full low-down on buckwheat, I found this fantastic page all about it, just click here (but come straight back!).
And so to today’s recipe… Soft & Crispy Nutty Snack Bars. Bit of a mouthful but I couldn’t think of a better way of describing them! These bars have the slight crispiness of the buckwheat puffs, combined with the crunchiness of the chopped hazelnuts, all stuck together with a mixture of soft dates & peanut butter and a little coconut flour! The finished taste is nutty, the insides soft but with a hint of crispiness, and when reviewed by colleagues at work they described them having a similar texture to that of a Nutrigrain Elevenses Baked Bar. One colleague said they would make a great breakfast bar and that he would definitely pay for them! Sounds good?! Here’s the recipe and photographs…
- 1 cup dates
- 1/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1.5 cups puffed buckwheat
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut flour (or desiccated coconut will do if you don’t have flour)
This week a friend posted that they were making a Microwave Mug Cake, but another friend commented that they didn’t have a microwave, and asked if there was any way to make these in a pan instead. So I said I’d do a little experiment for her and see if would work.
And so the ‘Pan Cake’ idea was born. Say with me… Pan Cake. Not pancake (all one word) but Pan Cake. Cake in a pan, different you see…
Or is it?
When you look at the recipe below you might think, umm, that’s a pancake recipe. And you’d actually be right. It could be used as the mixture to add to a large frying pan and make lovely light & fluffy pancakes. And delicious they would be too. But I wanted to make Pan Cake. Cake in a pan.
What I realised when I was thinking over this little challenge was that in fact most ‘microwave mug cake’ recipes do indeed have very similar ingredients to a healthy pancake recipe. There always seems to be an egg involved, some sort of floury stuff, a little oil and often in many of the recipe I find myself drawn towards, some protein powder (for us health & fitness nuts!).
So would the microwave mug cake recipe indeed work when cooked in a pan? I thought I better make two lots of identical mixture, then try it both ways.
Here are the ingredients and the pictures of both the Pan Cake and the Microwave Mug Cake, as you can see they turned out to be quite different. I’ll see you below for the taste test, comparison and conclusion.