chocolate stout birthday cake - to her core

This month marks the blogs first birthday – cue the music! The blog has come a long way since starting out as a little “not-really-sure-what-I’m-doing” hobby. Admittedly, I’m still not 100% sure what I’m doing, but I’m having a fun time figuring it out!

My readership has grown steadily – I’ve had over twice as many visitors in the past month as what I did in the first four months of having the blog, and I’ve had a great time connecting with you all and sharing my recipes and tips not just here but also on my Facebook and Instagram.

chocolate guinness cake - to her core

So I thought it would be fitting to make the cake of all cakes to celebrate. Chocolate Guinness cake has always been my go-to cake when it comes to special occasions, and I really wanted to recreate it here. I initially was thinking I would make some kind of raw cheesecake number to celebrate the blog’s first year, thinking it would fit in with the healthy eating theme of the blog, or I’d try and create something brand new – however despite the fact that I did manage to bake a chocolate cake with a quarter of a kilo (just over half a pound) of broccoli and cauliflower “hidden” within it, unsurprisingly it did not have that “wow” factor that I was after, so I thought it was best to stick with what I know.

This cake is rich, chocolatey and slightly fudgy whilst still retaining a cakey texture. Its really easy to make, and pretty hard to get wrong making it the perfect cake for novice bakers. I have “healthified” it here a bit so that it’s made of whole, unrefined ingredients, and I’ve halved the sugar content. This allows the deep chocolate flavour to really shine, without being overpowered by sweetness.

Despite the whole ingredients, this is still definitely a special occasion cake – it is quite rich and still contains quite a bit of sugar (albeit unrefined), not to mention being quite high in calories. But sometimes a little decadent indulgence is good for the soul, especially when it comes to chocolate birthday cake – and this one is definitely one to splurge on. I hope you like it as much as I do :)

chocolate stout cake - to her core

 

chocolate guinness birthday cake - to her core

The best ever chocolate fudge cake + happy first blog birthday!

The best ever chocolate fudge cake + happy first blog birthday!

Ingredients

  • 200 ml Guinness or stout beer
  • 150 grams unsalted, organic butter (or coconut oil)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 50 grams cacao powder
  • 100 grams coconut sugar
  • 150ml coconut cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 75 grams | 1/2 Cup almond meal
  • 100g | 2/3 Cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Chocolate ganache
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp cacao
  • 2 Tbsp coconut cream
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C } 350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch springform cake tin.
  2. Add maple syrup, cacao and butter to a saucepan over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until butter has melted and a paste has formed. Stir in the coconut sugar and then the Guinness and stir until the sugar is dissolves and the mixture is starting to bubble slightly. Remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk eggs, coconut milk and vanilla together in a bowl and then whisk into to chocolate mix, making sure you keep beating until all mixed in and smooth so that the eggs don't set. Then whisk in the almond meal, coconut flour and baking powder.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan 15 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.
  5. To make the ganache, add all ingredients to a saucepan and stir until smooth and combined. Allow to cool slightly before spreading over the cake.

Notes

Adapted from Chocolate Guinness Cake by Nigella Lawson

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Fresh organic vegetables in wicker basket in the garden

Healthy eating is big business at the moment. It seems you can’t walk down the street these days without a new juice bar popping up; paleo bars have overtaken chocolate bars by the checkout counter at your corner store and there is a whole aisle dedicated to “health food” at the supermarket. Whilst this growing interest is great news on the whole, it can also be greatly confusing!

Your colleague tells you your morning green juice has more sugar than a Mars Bar, but how can it be unhealthy when there’s so many veggies and fruit crammed in there?

You’ve finally mastered the perfect quinoa salad, only to read an article denouncing grains in a health and fitness mag – does this include quinoa?

And what the hell is a kombucha scoby anyway!?

Before you throw it all in and pick up the phone to order yourself a pizza, take a step back, a few deep breaths and let me leave you with five basic steps to simplify healthy eating.

1. Don’t over complicate things. A green smoothie is a great breakfast option, but trying to cram as many superfoods in as possible is not only confusing, it can also be extremely expensive! Try something simple instead like yoghurt and fruit topped with nuts and seeds  or scrambled eggs with a few mushrooms and handful of spinach thrown in. Choose simple recipes where you know the ingredients, and introduce any new ingredients slowly.

2. Cut out sugar and processed foods. Sugar makes us crave more sugar, it raises our blood sugar levels, and can zap our energy. Most processed and packaged foods contain lots of hidden sugars, even those that seem healthy like muesli bars and some yoghurts. Start checking labels and try to buy things that don’t have too many ingredients, especially those with numbers after them!

3. Eat more vegetables. Most of us unfortunately do not eat enough vegetables, which are packed full of vitamins and nutrients that are essential for our bodies to continue to function correctly and prevent illness and disease.  Vegetables will also do wonders for your energy levels, skin and hair health – and who doesn’t want beautiful healthy skin and hair? Try to include one or two additional serves of vegetables and day and slowly build it up.

4. Eat wholefoods. Asides from fresh vegetables, look for products such as fresh fruit, free range eggs, nuts, seeds, meat and fish, legumes and whole grains. Foods in their purest form (that is, unprocessed) will provide you with the most nutritional benefit. When starting out with your healthy eating try not to worry about which healthy foods you should and shouldnt eat, this can be a little overwhelming and make things too difficult at the start. Instead, just focus on eating as many wholefoods as you can – especially those veggies!

5. Pick healthy food you like. If you hate kale, don’t force yourself to eat it. Not a fan of quinoa? Try buckwheat, freekah or millet instead. Have a little fun and experiment, but don’t force yourself to eat anything that you don’t like – there will be plenty of other healthy alternatives out there for you to discover and love!

Hopefully this has been helpful for some of you! The main takeaway here is that if you are trying to eat healthy and overwhelmed by all of the information out there, just take a step back and focus on keeping it simple and eating wholefoods to start with.

Feel free to share any other tips or questions in the comments section below – I’d love to hear form you – D x

Best ever paleo bread aka savoury veggie loaf - to her coreToday I’m sharing with you what would have to be our current favourite breakfast recipe (surpassing the previous favourite shakshouka by just a smidge). The recipe is a savoury vegetable loaf – which is actually my version of the paleo bread that you have probably seen doing the rounds on the internet over the past few months. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when I started seeing paleo “bread” recipes popping up all over the place. Before judging to harshly I thought I should try it out, so I gave one a go and was very underwhelmed – it tasted more like a tough, eggy frittata than bread!

But, after recently discovering I have a (slight) gluten sensitivity, I thought I owed it to myself and the gluten-free baking world to give it another go. I was glad I did.

savoury veggie loaf - paleo bread - to her core

I have tweaked and tested – much to the boyfriend’s delight, who immediately claimed even my first attempt as a winner – and this version I am sharing with you here is definitely my favorite. The outside is crunchy and caramalised, whilst the inside is soft and spongey, yet quite dense. Note that due to the vegetables in the mix, the loaf will be slightly moist in the centre, if this urks you, or even if it doesn’t, I suggest toasting it as it’s delicious with a little extra crunch and crispness!

So, the big question – does it taste like bread?

No it doesn’t, in fact I wouldn’t even say that it comes close, it has a more of a dense texture and none of that fluffiness of a traditional loaf of bread. Hence why I’ve called it ‘loaf’ rather than bread. BUT – it’s still good. Really good. It’s definitely one to give a go, especially if you don’t eat grains and are missing avo on toast – this stuff goes down a treat topped with smashed avocado, fresh basil and cracked pepper, mmmmm!

Best ever paleo bread aka savoury veggie loaf - to her core

Savoury veggie loaf (aka paleo “bread”)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup mixed seeds
  • 1/2 cup GF flour
  • 2 Tbsp psyllium husks
  • 1 large grated zucchini
  • 1 large grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated pumpkin/sweet potato
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp Himalayan salt

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 170 C (160 fan forced).
  2. Combine the dry ingredients (almond meal, spices, salt, flour and psyllium, and seeds and baking powder) in a bowl.
  3. Grate veggies and stir through oil and eggs in a separate bowl, then add dry mix to veggie mix and stir to combine. The mixture will be quite dry.
  4. Pour into a loaf pan and press down lightly, then sprinkle with mixed seeds.
  5. Bake uncovered 60-80 mins until a skewer comes out clean. The cooking time will vary depending on a few factors, so make sure to keep an eye on it after about the 60 minute mark.
  6. Allow to cool 30 mins or so in pan then move to cooling rack
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