Monthly Archives: March 2012

Crostata di Fichi Freschi e Ficonero

Ah, the onset of autumn.  It’s arrived here in Melbourne, but it’s not yet fully arrived.  It doesn’t quite feel final yet.  We have that mish-mash of weather that’s downright confusing but also comforting in that we can enjoy a few more warm, sunny days before the summer is truly over.

What does this mean?  Fig season is in full swing.  This year figs are abundant and literally dropping off their trees … well, there are plenty of them about, at any rate.  Who can resist a perfect, ripe fig?  Not me.  Probably not you.  Figs are a wonderful fruit!  It’s possible there is no culinary feat that could not accommodate a delicious fig to make it better.

So I thought it high time I share my fave fresh fig tart with you.  Smack in the middle of fig season.  OK, for some of you, there’s another five or six months to wait, but hey, better early than late or not at all.  Something delicious to plan and look forward to, with anticipation 🙂

A while ago, the amazing folk over at the live with ILVE blog invited me to contribute a guest post.

Say what?   Huh?   Exactly.

How totally cool?  If you haven’t checked out their blog, and you are somewhat obsessed by major kitchen appliances (aren’t we all?), you should.   They make the most amazing stovetops and ovens, don’t they?  Totally schmick and covetable.  Lots of news and information as well as featured recipes from some well-known chefs and gorgeous cookbooks … and now Chocolate Chilli Mango!

When you post your recipes on your blog, you do it to share the love you have for, in my case, baking, patisserie, chocolate, and some crazy detours into the experimental world of protein cookery.  It’s fantastic to get comments back from you about recipes you’ve tried, loved, maybe even hated ( :-/ ), or improved upon for the benefit of us all.    To be noticed in the huge sea that is the blogging community is then always rather humbling.  Especially by a crowd that usually feature only proper chefs and their amazing recipes on their own blog.   What? This little blog?  But …  but it turns out ILVE took a shine to the recipes here at CCM.  So, with a happy dance and a little humble pride, the fig tart is the recipe I thought would be a great one to feature on my guest post there.

If you’d like the recipe for this delectable and luscious fresh fig tart, head straight on over to  live with ILVE for all the post and recipe details.

You can also find details on the ILVE Facebook page  and on Twitter.

Disclaimer:  I do own an ILVE oven however the people at the live with ILVE blog were not aware of this fact.   The views expressed here are my own and I have not been asked to provide any reviews nor have I been remunerated in any way by ILVE or any other party.


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Desserts, Fruit, Tarts & Patisserie

Chocolate Banana Protein Bread

I’ve recently been craving a sweet bread for breakfast again, but I don’t like anything cakey or too sweet first thing in the morning.  I prefer my breakfast to be infused with a natural fruity sweetness from fresh fruits … or baked into something I can eat warm.  Especially now that the mornings are getting decidedly cooler.

Boo.   This is serious.  I hate the cold.  I hate biting cold winds most of all.  Not looking forward to it.

So any breakfast intervention is going to have to involve chocolate if it’s going to have any chance of distracting me from the oncoming cold season and turn my frown upside down.  Chocolate can do that.

Throw in some overripe bananas with the chocolate and I’m all a-giggle again.

OK, I’m not given to the giggles, but you get the idea:


Chocolate banana bread makes for a super happy breakfast.  Snack.  Anytime.  YUM.  Yes indeed.

Making it healthy and packed full of protein, a cacao powerhouse of anti-oxidants, walnutty omega-3 goodness, and a little oomph from some oats and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded breakfast or snack.

This bread is not cake.  It is soft, slightly moist bread with a light texture from the use of whey protein.  If you prefer a slightly denser, more cake-like bread, you could use pea protein isolate instead of the whey.  I’ve also added sweetener as optional.  It all depends on your sweet tooth and how much sweetness the bananas impart to the batter.  There is quite a lot of variation in the sweetness of bananas so use your judgement and add in some sweetener of your choice, if you prefer it.   Very chocolatey and very bananary (it’s a word.  It is now.  I said so).

I love this bread served slightly warm with a little fresh, organic butter or with more smashed fresh banana on top and maybe a scrape of almond butter, or a dollop of Greek yoghurt for breakfast … or a drizzle of melted chocolate.  For decorative purposes, you understand!

It would make a BITCHIN’ French toast.  OH MY.  That’s tomorrow morning’s brekkie sorted.  With smashed bananas on top … and that drizzle of chocolate.  😀

If you cut this into about twelve thick slices, each slice will give you around 125kCals, 9.1g protein, 6.5g fat (0.7g sat), 7.5g carbohydrates (3.9g sugars), and 2.5g dietary fibre.  Not too shabby!  Remember that you are getting a nice dose of omega-3s from the walnuts, so it’s all good.

Energy to move, power to lift.

Makes 1 loaf  (21cm x 10cm loaf tin)

100 grams walnuts or almonds, ground fine
250 grams very ripe banana (edible flesh only, about 3 bananas)
250 grams liquid egg whites (or 4 whole eggs)
45 grams oat flour or rolled oats (gluten-free, if required)
50 grams unflavoured whey protein (I used Professional Whey NZ WPI)
40 grams raw cacao
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract / bean paste or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free)
sweetener, to taste (optional)*

*I did not add any more sweetener as the bananas were very ripe and super sweet enough for me.  However, check the batter to make sure it is sweet enough for you.  If not, add some of your preferred sweetener, whether it be honey or maple syrup, pureed medjool dates, coconut or rapadura sugar, or stevia or a stevia blend like Natvia.

Preheat the oven to 180℃.

Grease a loaf tin lightly with olive oil spray or line the tin with silicone paper, if not using a silicon mold.

Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until the batter is smooth.
If using whole nuts, grind these beforehand with the rolled oats, if using.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.  Even the top, if you’d like a square loaf.

Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes until risen, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove and cool on a wire rack before turning out.

This loaf keeps, wrapped in foil or a freezer bag, in the fridge for up to a week.  You can also freeze it.  If freezing, it’s easier to slice the loaf before freezing.

Fabulous when served slightly warm with a smear of fresh, organic unsalted butter, smashed bananas … 😀

ps: forgive the pics … they were taken quickly in poor lighting and while I was hungry LOL

Macronutrient Information
I have based the macronutrient information on the recipe, as stated above.  If you make any substitutions for the ingredients, note that the macros will change.  I’ve included both whey and pea protein versions.  As you can see, there is hardly any change in macros.

I used walnuts and no additional sweetener.  If you use almonds and/or add sweetener you will need to consider the impact on macros.

Macros for the whole loaf – just divide by the number of slices you cut!


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Breakfast, Chocolate, Fruit, Protein, Protein Bread, Special Diet

Bounty Bar Protein Bombs

Hola!  An uncharacteristic Speedy Gonzalez style post from Camp CCM … I’ve been busy making snacks for when I’m on the go over the next few days.  While I love taking along little containers of wholesome goodness, I also like to have something a bit cheeky without feeling like cheeky isn’t doing me the world of good too.

No secret I’m a fan of coconut + chocolate and this is a simple fast treat to make for when you only have time for a couple of bites but want to make sure you’re getting something decent and YUM into your system.

Too soft to be a bar, more like a truffle in texture and flavour … a lot like a Bounty Bar only darker.

I played around with different coatings and, despite my total dedication to coating everything in chocolate, shredded coconut won the day.  Oh my sweet lordie, yes.  Sure, there are only three in the photos because, well, quality control on the last batch is important, right?  😀

The macros are pretty damned good considering the coconut content of these bombs.  Hey, I haven’t called anything a bomb in ages!!  These are da bomb cos two of these babies give you over 30 grams of protein.  That qualifies for protein bomb status.

They’re also dairy and gluten-free, low FODMAP, and well, aside from coconut, there are no other tree nuts so … awesome.

You could use coconut milk instead of the coconut milk powder and coconut water.  Use less of the milk and only add enough to get a nice truffle consistency.

Without further ado …

Makes  4 bombs (serves 2)

35 grams unflavoured WPI (I used Professional Whey NZ WPI.  If you use flavoured, choose chocolate)
15 grams unsweetened cacao
15 grams coconut flour
10 grams coconut milk powder (I used this one)
45 millilitres coconut water
sweetener to taste*

about 10 -15 grams unsweetened organic shredded coconut

*I used 1 teaspoon Natvia (a stevia based sweetener) but you can use whatever you like. If you use a flavoured WPI, you may not need to add anything, given they are very sweet usually.

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Add the coconut water and mix thoroughly with a fork or whisk until smooth.   Test for you desired level of sweetness.
It will be thick and sticky. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes just to make it easier to handle.
Place the shredded coconut in a dish.
Use a spoon to scoop up one-quarter of the chocolate mixture and drop into the coconut.  I use 2 teaspoons to toss it around until nicely coated.

Repeat and place them on a lined tray or plate. Place in the fridge or freezer to set.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator or freezer.

To take with me when out and about, I keep them in a container in my insulated lunch bag with the little freezer packs to keep them cool.

Macronutrient Profile
Macros are based on the ingredients used as per the recipe above.  If you use coconut milk instead of the coconut water and milk powder, the macros will likely change.  Also, the sweetener you use may impact the macros as would the amount of shredded coconut used.


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Confectionery, Protein, Protein Chocolates, Special Diet

Chestnut Protein Cakes … or Not Quite Castagnaccio

I am still in the midst of coming to terms with The Kitchen Cupboard Uncertainty Principle as we shift stuff around the house to reorganise our storage.  Having survived the passage through our Renovation Event Horizon, there’s literally, stuff everywhere.  I don’t even remember where some of it came from.  On the upside, I’ve discovered some fantastic baking equipment I had completely lost track of, so here’s to future possibilities!  But pretty pastries will have to wait a little while longer.

I still need my healthy treats to keep me going during all this work along with the day job and my workouts and … so here’s another protein bombilicious babe in the interim.

Look away now if you’re hoping for sugar-laden buttery goodness 🙂

With the onset of autumn, one starts to think of chestnuts, right?  I sighted a box of them yesterday and it got me thinking.  Fabulous, healthy chestnuts.  Good source of complex carbohydrates, fibre, a smidgen of protein, and practically no fat.  They also taste fantastic.  I love chestnuts with vanilla, chocolate, spices, coffee, other nuts, raspberries and orange … hey, they are even great with veggies.   For me, chestnuts always call to mind the Tuscan traditional castagnaccio, a dense cake made of chestnut flour, olive oil, and flavoured with rosemary, honey, and pine nuts.  It’s origins are ancient but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a funky chestnut version of a brownie.  That got me thinking again …

Chestnut flour does not behave like wheat flour in baking.  Once you add moisture it starts to think of itself as chestnut purée.  Almost like it was reconstituting itself back into chestnuts again.

Like the Liquid Metal Guy in Terminator II.  Well not exactly like that, but you see where I’m going with this?

This is when it gets exciting because I wanted to make little cakes that were a cross between cakey, cheesecakey, and brownie, but without being too much of any of them.   Cos, been there, done that, you know.

Check out the texture in these little beauties.  It’s got chestnutty goodness and texture.  Success!

Yes, that just happens to be some delicious homemade protein nutella oozing out the middle there.  These are great with a chocolate nut spread.  They are also fantastic with plain nut butters, chestnut jam or puree, sweetened with whatever you please, berries (especially raspberries in my kitchen lab), or a really good marmalade.  I had them for breakfast with the nutella and sliced bananas.  Awesome.

You could frost these to make them fancy.  A grand idea.  I’ve kept them plain so I can slice them up and carry them in my lunch box.  A practical idea … :-/

Obviously, I haven’t added the rosemary or pine nuts, although that would be cool.  I did, however, add some espresso coffee to the mix.  The coffee flavour is barely there.  It’s purpose is to enhance and intensify the chestnut flavour.  Which it does, brilliantly.

I did not use fruit to sweeten these cakes as I really wanted the chestnut flavour to shine through.  You could use puréed dates, apples, pears, or banana if you choose, but know that it will be lovely, but different.  You may also need to adjust the amount of moist ingredients for the batter, and it will affect the macros 😀

Check out the macros for these gluten-free, low FODMAP babies.  Insane.  A classic WIN-WIN scenario and a total fluke on my part.

But, where do I buy chestnut flour?????  Well, I get mine from my local Italian delis.  Chestnut flour is used quite a lot in Italian cooking, particularly in the north and northern-central regions of the country.  You might be able to find it in health food stores but it’s unlikely.  Continental delis are the surest bet or online.  Don’t bank on your local supermarket unless it is quite international in its fare.

Makes 5 rectangular cakes (double the recipe for a bigger batch)

110 grams egg whites OR 3 large egg whites
1 large egg
60 grams chestnut flour (I use this one)
60 grams pea protein isolate powder
2 tablespoons Natvia OR coconut sugar (or preferred sweetener, to taste)*
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure extract OR seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
75 millilitres espresso coffee, brewed strong, and cooled**
120 grams low-fat cottage cheese (1% fat) OR quark OR ricotta OR thick Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free)

* You can essentially use your sweetener of choice.  Honey would be awesome.  I like coconut sugar for this but this time I gave Natvia a go, just to try it out.  Worked a treat.  It’s a granulated blend of stevia and erythritol.  I don’t use it often but was curious, and the flavour was lovely.  Much better than straight up stevia.  It’s also a low FODMAP sweetener so yay.

** You can substitute milk or almond milk for the coffee, if you prefer.  It’s not essential.

Preheat the oven to 170℃.  Have ready 5 silicon bar molds or bar tins.  You can use standard muffin or cupcake tins if you don’t have bar tins.  If not using silicon molds, spray each tin with a little oil spray and line with a strip of non-stick baking paper to run along the base and up the sides.  This will help you ease them out of the molds.  Set aside.

Blend all the ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer or in a food processor.  Yep, that’s pretty much it.

Divide the batter between the bar molds.  Bake for about 20 minutes until risen, and cooked through.  Transfer the molds to a wire rack and leave to cool slightly before turning out of the molds.  Serve slightly warmed, or at room temperature.

Store leftover cakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  They will keep for a few days.

Macronutrient Profile
All macros are based on available averages for fresh ingredients.  For the chestnut flour, I have based the macros on the brand I used.  The macros include the version with Natvia and low fat cottage cheese.

Pretty impressive, huh?  The macro profile was an added bonus.  Go chestnut cakes!


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Protein, Protein Cakes, Special Diet

Frosted Caramelly Protein Muffins

I haven’t made muffins in a while.  This cannot be a good thing.  Something about karmic balance or upsetting the space-time continuum or possibly a disturbance in The Force.  Whatever.  So I made a batch of caramelly protein muffins.

To set things right.

With a surprise in the centre.

Featuring an AWESOME frosting.

I knew the frosting was awesome as soon as I did my obligatory taste test.   When my trainer also thought it was fabulous, I knew it for sure.

Obviously, no real caramel was going to be harmed in the quest to make these muffins caramelly in flavour.  Instead a nifty combination of key ingredients gives them a nice little caramel note and sweetness … without any added sugar or sweeteners.   Dates are the sweetening agent for the muffins and I’ve combined dates and raw organic lucuma powder in the frosting.  Never heard of lucuma?  Google it … it’s a subtropical fruit from Peru, and has been a dietary staple there since ancient times.  It used to be known as the “Gold of the Incas”.  Aside from being a nutrient dense and very healthy food, I also love it for its maple like flavour.  Combined with dates, you get this lovely caramel, maple, date sweetness.  No need to add sugar or artificial sweeteners at all.  It’s lovely.

I’ve often been asked why I use a lot of liquid egg whites instead of whole eggs, given egg yolks are such powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, funky good things.  Well, honestly, I use both, depending on what I happen to have handy.  Occasionally, I just want to add some extra lightness, particularly for protein recipes, so I may choose to use egg whites only.  So I’ve included both whole egg and egg white versions below, as well as for the macronutrient information at the bottom of the recipe.  This time, I used whole eggs to make the muffins.

That awesome frosting is so good, you could make it and use on anything or as a dessert over fruit, whatever.  I’d like to use it to frost the Chocolate Orange Fudge Bars.  Wow.

So what’s the surprise centre?  A whole cherry.  Just an added burst of fruity goodness in the centre.  You can omit the cherry or substitute banana (oh my!) or berries, or anything you like.  Almond or peanut butter would be great.  Chocolate would be sensational.  Up to you.  Just remember that it may affect the macros, so use whatever fits with your goals.

These muffins are gluten-free (make sure you use GF oats and baking powder), have a decent protein hit, and are low in fat.

Energy to move, power to lift 🙂


Makes 10 small muffins (1/3 cup capacity) OR 6 standard muffins

78 grams medjool dates (pitted weight, about 4 medium dates)
30 grams rolled oats (preferably gluten-free)
3 large eggs OR 160 grams liquid egg whites
70 grams pea protein isolate
25 grams almond meal
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste, powder or extract
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
125 millilitres coconut water
10 pitted cherries

1 medjool date
100 gram fat-free plain yoghurt
30 millilitres fat-free milk
10 grams raw organic lucuma powder (I use Loving Earth)
30 grams unflavoured micellar casein* (I use Professional Whey)

*If you use a flavoured casein, opt for vanilla

Preheat the oven to 165℃/330℉.

I used silicon muffin molds, but if using standard muffin pans, grease with a little oil spray or line with cupcake liners, and set aside.

Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the rolled oats and process until the oats have been ground fine.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the cherries, and process until the batter is smooth.

Divide the muffin batter among the muffin molds.  Press a cherry into the centre of each muffin and make sure it is covered by batter.

Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes until golden.  Remove and let cool on a wire rack before removing from the molds.

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.   The casein will thicken up the frosting after a few minutes.  Pipe or spread the frosting on each muffin.

Store leftover muffins in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.

Macronutrient Profile
I have included macros for both the whole egg version and egg whites only version.  All values are average values for fresh ingredients.  I have used values for specific lucuma powder and micellar casein that were used in the recipe.  You can find details of these if you click-through via the links provided, above.

If you leave out the cherries, the macros will not change much as each cherry does not add much to them, obviously.  However, if you choose to use other fruits or chocolate, nut butters etc, then you will have to factor the macros into the total for the recipe.

Whole Egg Version

Egg Whites Only Version


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Breakfast, Protein, Protein Muffins, Special Diet