Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, the joy of home ownership and the occasional rant!


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Dough Balls – sounds unappetizing, but they aren’t too bad

It has been a bit since I posted a recipe. But I thought I would try making some “dough balls”… I wasn’t too sure about it though.

I’ve seen a few recipes popping up and the last one looked decent. But I didn’t have the specific ingredients, and decided that I would alter the whole process.

So… while they are “doughy” when fresh out of the oven, they are tasty dipped in melted butter. Once they are completely cool they are more bread-like in consistency.

As I hate using just part of something in a recipe I used probably more cheese in this than necessary, but it still worked out.

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Cheesy Dough Balls

Pre-heat oven to 350F, and line a pan with parchment paper.

Ingredients:

One 340 gram (or thereabouts) package of Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup of butter

2 eggs

2 tbsp each of fresh herbs of your choice – I used chives and thyme. Add as many as you like. These hold up to strong flavours.

3/4 cup of coconut flour

2 tbsp psyllium husk powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Measure out the dry ingredients into a small bowl and combine.
  2. Chop or shred the mozzarella into a microwave safe bowl and put in the microwave on high for 30 seconds or so. Take out and stir. Keep nuking it in 30 second bursts until it is completely melted.
  3. Add the butter and herbs to the cheese and mix in as best you can. You might need to nuke for another burst.
  4. Add the eggs and work in until reasonably mixed in.
  5. Add all the dry ingredients and stir to combine as much as possible, then you need to start working it with your hands. Knead it as you have to work the dry into the cheese mixture really well. It will form a fairly even dough. This may take several minutes of kneading.
  6. Pinch off the dough and roll into ping-pong ball sized balls. Line up on the parchment close together in a rectangle.
  7. Bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes – they should be browning on top.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

I dipped them in melted butter to eat while warm. I then brushed melted butter over the remaining balls.

These are definitely better the second day!  The flavourings take over the coconut flour taste which make them much more tasty.

I think the next time I do this I will amp up the flavourings – more herbs, maybe pepper or other spicier things, maybe onions or green chillies. And maybe reduce the mozzarella bit and add in a strong cheese.

Also, it might work to wrap the dough around something – like a piece of cheese or meat, or an olive… would make a nice appetizer or snack.

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LCHF Naan-Style Flatbread

When I switched to eating LCHF I struggled a bit with carbs as I missed them.  I experimented with recipes for “substitute” items made with nut and/or coconut flour but was supremely disappointed with the results.

However, time, as they say, heals all “wounds.” After 19 months of no carbs I have now discovered that my toleration level of these replacement items has improved drastically. Sure the textures are sometimes not quite right, but I haven’t had the real thing for long enough that my taste buds are accepting them. And mentally, I have adapted too – I’m not expecting an identical replacement item.

I’ve also learned what I need to do to recipes to make them suit my tastes and expectations. There is a definite learning curve to baking with nut, coconut and seed flours but once you’ve tried a few different recipes and processes you get the hang of it.

And one very important thing – keep your nuts, flours, seeds, etc. in the fridge! I went to use my psyllium husk powder to discover it was going rancid! The mason jars I keep them in work great in the fridge or the freezer.

I saw a recipe for LCHF Flatbread – the photos looked good (but we all know those can be staged!)  As I am home today (had eye injections, again, this morning) and it is hotter than heck outside (so not mowing or gardening!) I decided to give it a shot.

I messed around with the ingredients and have to say that I am pretty impressed with how it worked out.  Coconut flour isn’t my favourite as I find the flavour too strong, but in this recipe it works.

LCHF Naan-Style Flatbread

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

2 Tbsp Psyllium Husk Powder

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

Optional: Garlic powder, herbs, other flavours to suit you preference (in this batch I added a couple of shakes of garlic powder.)

1/3 Cup melted butter

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Cup BOILING water

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Directions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix until it starts sticking together – it should be starting to clump up at the very least or resemble nut butter texture at the most (I would add a bit more olive oil if it isn’t starting to bind up.)
  3. Had HALF (1/2 Cup) of the of the boiling water and mix until it forms a ball of dough. It will seem to be a good dough at this point and you may wonder if you need the rest of the water BUT YOU DO!  Remember, coconut flour is so freaking absorbent that it will end up too dry if you don’t!
  4. Add the rest of the BOILING water and mix, again, until a dough ball forms.  Work it a bit (you can use your hands if you want, but it isn’t necessary) to a smooth consistency.
  5. Divide into four portions – I just cut the ball in quarters with a knife.
  6. The dough is not sticky and you could just shape it with your hands, or you can roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper – which is what I did as I wanted them fairly thin.
  7. Dry fry in a large non-stick frying pan over med-high heat.  When placing in the pan, do it carefully so you don’t get creases or tears – the dough does hold together but using both hands and laying it down from the centre keeps it flat!
  8.  The top will start to look dry and that is the time to flip it over.  It takes around 2-3 minutes each.

I ate one warm with butter and it was really very good!  (It was my first one… which was crumpled up as I didn’t put it in the pan carefully enough.) The other three I will eat over the next day or so – I am looking forward to a wrap, and maybe a hot dip, or curry!

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The texture is spot on, the bread tears like a “normal” Naan-type flatbread, it holds spreads and dips well too.  The olive oil and the bit of garlic powder counter-acted the coconut flour flavour enough for me to not notice it.


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Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes! Oh yes I did!

It has been a while since I posted a recipe.  I do have a couple to share but will start with the cupcakes I made today!

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As always… a recipe caught my eye, but I changed it a lot.  Added, removed, increased, etc. until it bears no resemblance to the original version.

The recipe that I saw was for a cake with walnuts… I hate walnuts.  Also, didn’t want a cake, cupcakes keep and store easier in the freezer.  I also don’t use powdered sugar substitutes.

Up until last week I wasn’t using ANY sugar substitutes at all, but I discovered that saccharine is available in the pill form here.  My granny used to use it and as kids we would try it… never had an aftertaste for me.  So… I bought a bottle of Hermesetas tablets.  The only thing I’ve used it in so far has been ice cream I made last week (I will post about that later!) and this recipe.

I just dissolve a few tablets in about 1/8 tsp of boiling water and add to the recipe for a touch of sweetness. Each pill is equal to a teaspoon of sugar.  I am not adding the amount called for in the recipes as I don’t need it to be really sweet, but felt the ice cream could use a some, and then this recipe was an experiment to see if it would work.  It did.

So here is the recipe I came up with today for Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes.

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Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes – LCHF, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

Makes 6 large cupcakes (or one 8″ cake if you prefer.)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cream cheese

1/4 cup coconut oil

3 eggs

4 saccharine tablets dissolved in 1/8 tsp of boiling water (you can substitute whatever sweetener you want and increase to make this more of a regular sweetness level.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup almond flour

1 tbsp coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup cream

1/4 cup of chopped pecans (or any kind of nut you like) – completely optional BTW.

Topping: Lindt 85% Cocoa Chocolate bar – 6 pieces.

Instructions:

  1. Line a muffin tin with paper liners (or grease an 8″ cake pan in your preferred manner.)
  2. Measure all the dry ingredients together and stir, except for the nuts.
  3. Cream the coconut oil (I did not melt it first) and the cream cheese with an electric mixer, add the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla, and dissolved saccharine, and continue mixing on high.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and the cream about a third at a time, alternating between additions.  If the batter is too thick add a little more cream.  It should be thick but pourable like regular cake batter.
  5. Add the nuts and mix until combined.
  6. Divided batter between the six cupcake liners.
  7. Bake at 350F on the centre rack for 20-25 minutes.  They are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Ovens vary so it might take a few minutes more or less.
  8. Take them out of the oven and immediately place a piece of the Lindt chocolate on top of each cupcake, when it has melted spread it around.
  9. Let cool completely.

I like to freeze them once cool and eat them frozen!

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I am very pleased with how these turned out!  Ate one and the rest are in the freezer. Tomorrow I am making more ice cream and intend to have cake and ice cream!  Who said you have to give up treats when you are a diabetic who follows LCHF/HP??? Not this girl!

 

 


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Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 5, So Far, So Good

There was a lot to do and changes to make when I was switching over to a Low Carb High Fat way of life.  And it is a way of life, not a diet.

Aside from getting my blood sugar under control and the weight loss, my other issue of joint pain due to osteoarthritis has disappeared.  My knees used to give out on me every now and then, but no episodes since I cut out high carbohydrate food and sugar.  And my blood pressure is completely normal too.

In these five posts I tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 5 – So Far, So Good

So, these five posts cover my transition to a LCHF lifestyle.  Initially there was a noticeable cost due to the purge and restocking, but that has all leveled off now.  I usually shop once every week to ten days and it is mostly for fresh items – cream, eggs and vegetables.  I don’t eat a lot of frozen vegetables, just as there is so much choice of fresh.  If I didn’t have the fresh options I would use frozen.

Once I got all the food out of the house that I wasn’t able to eat it has been very easy to manage.  If it is here, it is safe to eat and I don’t have to second guess what I am doing.

There are a couple things I didn’t need to buy – like the spiralizer.  That is one of those gadgets that sounds like an interesting idea but in reality it is a pain to use and clean.  So I took it to Goodwill recently – don’t need it taking up space.

It is still a work in progress and always will be I imagine.  Trying new things, experimenting to see what my system can handle without causing a blood sugar spike, and the inevitable disasters.

The switch to Low Carbohydrate High Fat lifestyle 15 months ago has made a massive improvement to my health and life.  My diabetes is controlled – my last A1C was 5.2 and my fasting numbers are now in the 4-5 range daily.  I’ve lost 70 lbs since switching to LCHF (and in total 200 lbs since 2000!)  I’m now at what is considered a healthy weight.  I go to the gym three times a week and things don’t hurt anymore!

BW before after

While I found it relatively easy to cut out sugar, the carbs took a bit of time to give up on.  I wouldn’t say I craved them but I missed them.  Still do, particularly when I smell fresh bread baking or they bring in warm donuts at work!  But I have not the least desire to go off the the rails and “cheat” as I have had such excellent results and have my diabetes under control.  Living without major health problems is much more important than eating a donut.

I do need to mention that my version of LCHF is not textbook: I categorically refuse to even consider “bulletproof coffee” – the thought of it makes me gag; I am not on the coconut oil bandwagon – if a recipe calls for coconut oil I use butter (I have tried coconut oil but only once so far); I don’t track or count carbs as I don’t particularly care – I only buy foods that are low in carbs so why bother; I don’t load on more fat on top of fats which some plans say to do – like adding pan drippings on top of salads, or using butter to cook in and THEN drizzling olive oil on top of something that already contains fat.  I do eat more fat than I used to and add more to things, using high fat options like whipping cream in my coffee, I leave the fat on meats, even adding fat to leaner meats.  But I am not going to eat fat straight up or add it to my coffee other than in the form of whipping cream!

My way is working for me so I’ll stick to it.

My other posts about food

Go to Part 1 of this series


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Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 4, Tips and Tricks

There was a lot to do and changes to make when I was switching over to a Low Carb High Fat way of life.  And it is a way of life, not a diet.

Aside from getting my blood sugar under control and the weight loss, my other issue of joint pain due to osteoarthritis has disappeared.  My knees used to give out on me every now and then, but no episodes since I cut out high carbohydrate food and sugar.  And my blood pressure is completely normal too.

In these five posts I will tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 4 – Tips and Tricks

These are some of the things I do – some are for convenience, others because it makes me feel good and others because I hate waste.

  1. Making my own Stock

I save all the bones and scraps from roasts, steaks, chickens, etc. and keep them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  When I have a couple of bags full I make stock out of them, and freeze it so I always have some on hand.  I combine the different bones so my stock is always “generic”, but I could put different types in different bags – I just don’t bother.

I throw the contents of the bags into a pan and roast at 400F until they are well browned, then put in my crock pot (covered with water of course) on high for most of the day or overnight.  I also add in the scraps of vegetables I have available – celery, onions, etc.

I’ll add water as the level drops down.  I’ve often left it for two days. Then I drain off the stock into storage containers or Ziploc bags and place in the fridge to cool and set (the stock actually sets up due to the gelatin in the bones), then put in the freezer.

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  1. Vegetable Preparation

When I buy vegetables I deal with preparing some right away.   I rinse green onions and wrap the root end in a wet paper towel and place in a plastic bag.  I’ll do the same with fresh herbs and asparagus – stem ends wrapped in a wet paper towel.   They stay fresher much longer this way.

I wash celery and cut into pieces and store in a container. I save the hearts and leaves, chop them up and freeze in a Ziploc bags for soups, etc.  I peel cucumber, slice and store in a container in the fridge.

I like having things ready to eat.  Depending on what vegetables I’ve got I’ll rinse, clean and cut-up those as well – green peppers for example.

  1. Avocados

I buy avocados when they are as unripe as possible – very hard.  I leave them in a basket on the counter until they just start to give when held firmly, then I put them in the fridge until I want to eat them.  I find I lose less of them this way.

  1. Composting

All the unuseable vegetable scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds/used tea go out to the composter.  I take apart the coffee pods and tea bags to get it out – then dispose of what is left appropriately.  I also bring home coffee grounds and organic waste from work to add to my compost.  Used coffee grounds are a great much all by themselves and I use them on my flower beds.

  1. Bulk Shopping

I buy nuts, certain spices, and some baking ingredients like psyllium husk powder in bulk.  It works out cheaper and the bulk store has a wide selection of nuts (whole, blanched, roasted, salted, unsalted, sliced, slivered, chopped…)  They also have lots of imported items like coconut milk and cream, etc.

  1. Convenience items

I like convenience so I buy hard boiled eggs by the dozen at the grocery store.  I know a lot of people think that’s nuts, and yes, it is more expensive BUT, if I have to boil them myself I pay for water, electricity, and the time spent peeling them (and that doesn’t always work out.) So, I buy them, they are ready-to-eat and perfectly cooked. I use them for scotch eggs, egg salad, deviled eggs, as is for a snack, etc.

I buy feta cheese in the tubs that is already diced/cubed.  It is so much easier to use just the amount you want and the dice is even so you don’t have huge chunks and crumbs in your dish.  I watch for sales and buy a couple at a time.

I also buy guacamole.  I like avocados plain and add them to omelettes and salads, but the convenience of the ready to eat guacamole as a dip or garnish is great.

And, yes, I buy the pre-cooked bacon in the box.  I also buy locally produced bacon which is yummy, but when I just want bacon and I want it NOW, the stuff that takes 30-seconds in the microwave hits the spot.

  1. Grating Cheese

I like to think I make up for my egg extravagance by buying block cheese and grating it myself.  However, that is because I can’t digest cellulose which is added to all pre-grated cheese to prevent clumping (read the ingredient lists.)

I will grate the cheese that I typically want to use grated, all at once – I’ll grate a block of parmesan (usually while watching TV) and store in a container in the fridge.  It keeps almost forever.  Softer cheeses don’t have the storage power of the hard ones but they still will keep for several weeks once grated.  I don’t grate all the cheeses – generally the parmesan and mozzarella as that is how I use them.

  1. Recipes

I started to collect recipes off of the internet to try.  I would either write them down (excluding ingredients I wasn’t using) or print them off.  I’ve sorted them out in a binder by category – Breakfast, Vegetables, Breads, Mains, Snacks, Dips, etc.  I make notes on them when I try them – and alter instructions and ingredients as needed.  And I keep them in plastic page protectors to keep them clean – easy to wipe off splatters and sticky fingerprints.

I also make-up my own recipes – you can find the ones I’ve published here on my blog – this link  will take you to a list of my food posts.

  1. Eating Out

I don’t eat out much, but have managed a few times.  Pre-LCHF we spent over $3000 a year on eating out, coffees, etc.  Last year I spent $60.

As I don’t know the ingredients and have an allergy to beef, I am very picky about what I order.  I usually end up with sides – side of asparagus, side of sautéed mushrooms or appetizers like dry salt and pepper pork ribs or vegetables with dip and ask for a specific salad dressing as a substitute if the dip isn’t suitable.

You can always order salads with a protein, but I don’t want a salad when I eat out!  I can do that at home.

Chinese restaurants are easier as you can order stir-fried and steamed vegetables, crispy chicken and duck, BBQ pork, egg foo yung without sauce, etc.  They are usually very accommodating.

Buffets give you the ability to pick and choose, and when staying in hotels breakfast is usually pretty easy to manage.

You can always ask for specific things in a restaurant that aren’t on the menu but I just prefer not to – if there is nothing I can eat on a menu I just don’t go there.  As noted above, this has saved me a lot of money!

My other posts about food

Next: Part 5, So Far, So Good

Go to Part 1.

 


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Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 3, Organizing

There was a lot to do and changes to make when I was switching over to a Low Carb High Fat way of life.  And it is a way of life, not a diet.

Aside from getting my blood sugar under control and the weight loss, my other issue of joint pain due to osteoarthritis has disappeared.  My knees used to give out on me every now and then, but no episodes since I cut out high carbohydrate food and sugar.  And my blood pressure is completely normal too.

In these five posts I will tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 3 – Organizing

After I cleared out all the high carb foods and sugar my cupboards were pretty empty.  I then culled excess cups, glassware, baking pans, storage containers, etc. that I would never use and took them to Goodwill.  Then I reorganized my small appliances and moved things around to be more efficient.  I sold some of the appliances I wasn’t expecting to use again which also freed up a lot of shelf space.

In the hall closet I have shelves and two of them are for the larger kitchen appliances – the crockpot, the convection oven, electric frying pan, and some of the lesser used baking pans.

The kitchen appliances that I have currently are: electric hand mixer, blender, food processor (it is very old and I only have the chopping blade but it works,) electric kettle, microwave, coffee maker, waffle iron, convection oven – electric portable, electric frying pan, crockpot, manual spiralizer, mandolin/slicer, and a kitchen scale.

I have a pantry shelf and large spice rack in the stairwell to my basement (which is beside the fridge) which is really convenient as if I take a step down I am eye level with all my spices!  I reorganized these, moving my spices from a kitchen cupboard to the spice rack (which used to hold soup and other canned items.)  It is much better than in the cupboard as I used to have to pull things out to search for what I wanted – now it is all in front of my face and I only need to touch the one that I need.  And the canned goods and unopened jars are on the pantry shelf.

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I decided to use glass jars to store my dry goods as it is so easy to see what I have at a glance.  I use recycled jars, mason jars – any glass container with a proper sealing lid.  So I put all my nuts and seeds in jars, including my nut flours and nut “cereal mix” that I make.  I have tea bags in jars too.  I also recycle the jars spices come in and refill with my own mixes or bulk spices.

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I have a freezer in my garage where I keep meat (I get my pork from a local producer so stock up in bulk) and frozen homemade stock.  I keep a fair amount of portion sized packages in the fridge freezer in the kitchen.

I keep things visible and organized so that I can see at a glance if I am running out of something.  With the space I’ve freed up by culling I now can put regularly used items (kitchen scale, mandolin, etc.) in the easily to reach kitchen cupboards.

I have baking sheets, muffin tins (regular and large), a mini loaf pan, a loaf pan, and the usual casserole dishes, roasting pans, wire cooling racks, colanders, a couple sets of measuring cups and spoons, etc.  Good knives, pizza cutter, tongs, etc. Pretty much what most people have in their kitchens.  I do have four different types of graters though – a box style, a flat one, one very fine one for hard cheese and the container with lid style from IKEA.

And lots of plastic storage containers for the leftovers – some are pretty old and I’ve been culling out cracked ones and the ones with no matching lids.

I moved things around in the cupboards to be more efficient – the coffee is above the coffee maker, the snacks are closest to the living room, generally put things where they would be used and easy to grab.

The whole project is a work in progress and I am still shifting things around, and continue to get rid of things I discover I am not using.

My other posts about food

Next: Part 4, Tips and Tricks coming next week.

Go to Part 1


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Cake… Chocolate Cake… I’m in Heaven

I am sitting here trying NOT to have a third piece of my happy accident of a chocolate cake.

It actually started out as a recipe for Brownies – I saw a recipe for Almond Butter Brownies that was described as Paleo and I had the main ingredients so figured I’d throw it together as there was nothing really on television I was interested in.

Of course I left out the maple syrup that was in the original recipe (I don’t use any sweeteners) and then misread and used baking powder instead of baking soda, also added marscarpone cheese to add some level of sweetness.  I was also a bit short on the almond butter  so figured the cheese would compensate for that.

O.M.G.  I did not make brownies… I made a moist, tender, fluffy DELICIOUS chocolate cake!  When the toothpick came out clean I took it out – it had risen quite a bit more than I expected but I anticipated it would fall as it cooled.  It didn’t.

When I cut a piece to try, the texture was perfectly cake like, not brownie like at all. It was so good!  The marscarpone and the almond butter had a sweetness and the added 70% chocolate chips also added some.

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LCHF Gluten Free Almond Butter & Marscarpone Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup Almond Butter

1/3 cup Marscarpone Cheese

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

1/2 cup Whipping Cream (33% fat)

3 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/8 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Chopped Pecans or other nuts (optional)

1/2 cup 70% Cocoa Chocolate Chips (or higher if you find them) (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the Almond Butter, Marscarpone Cheese, Coconut Oil and blend them together till they are smooth.
  3. Then add the Whipping Cream, Eggs and Vanilla and mix well with an electric hand mixer.
  4. Sift the Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder and Salt together, then add a bit at a time to the wet ingredients mixing well before adding more.
  5. Continue to mix, increasing to the highest speed on the mixer for a minute or so – ensure there are no lumps in the batter.
  6. Stir in the Pecans and Chocolate Chips by hand.
  7. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with non-stick spray and dust with a teaspoon of coconut flour, shake the flour around to coat the pan and then knock the excess out.
  8. Scoop the batter into the pan and spread out evenly.
  9. Put on the centre rack of the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre, if it comes out clean it is done.
  10. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.

I didn’t top it with anything but I’m sure a drizzle of melted chocolate and/or whipped cream would be awesome.

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p.s. It is great for breakfast too!