October 23, 2012

Skinny Tofu Berry Cheesecake with vegan, paleo and sugar-free options

With so many fantastic soy and coconut milk products on the shelves to replace traditional dairy options, vegan and lactose-free cheesecakes are as easy to make as the old-fashioned varieties. This cake can be made vegan or paleo with a few ingredient replacements, which I will specify in the ingredient list. I have made this recipe really flexible to suit all different needs, tastes and preferences just by a few adjustments. Feel free to ask any questions if it gets too confusing! I also must add, don't be afraid your cheesecake won't set. It will! Don't have nightmares of unclasping your springform pan only to have the filling collapse dramatically from its confines. This has never happened to me... and I am not bragging, I am reassuring. If you are afraid of cheesecake disasters, lightly touch the cake when you remove it from the oven and you will feel it's gentle firmness. Also, setting the cake will come from allowing it to cool correctly and giving it plenty of time to chill in the fridge before serving. Don't be tempted to serve straight from the oven.

The beautiful pink blush of the cake makes it gorgeous looking and spectacular to serve at a dinner party. Don't tell anyone about the tofu ingredient or sugar absence until they have eaten their piece all up! I promise you they will be greatly impressed by your culinary secrets...

Skinny Tofu Berry Cheesecake


  • 1 medium springform pan, line the bottom with foil and clasp the outside around the foil with enough the wrap around the sides of the tin. 
  • 1 medium or large roasting tin. 
  • 1 pack of fresh dates (fresh works best but dried dates will work too, you will just need to soften them for 30 minutes in hot water first)
  • 250 grams of almond meal
  • 1/4 cup of cashew nut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil
  • 1 packet of silken tofu (use firm tofu if omitting the eggs)
  • 1 large container of coconut milk yoghurt in berry flavour - if berry isn't available, buy plain and add 2 tablespoons of no-sugar berry jam
  • 200 gram packet of soy cream cheese or Philadelphia low-fat cream cheese if dairy-free is not required
  • 1/4 cup of stevia sweetener crystals OR 1/2 cup of honey or agave syrup if preferred
  • 1 punnet of blueberries or 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 8 strawberries, diced
  • 2 organic eggs (leave these out if you are vegan or want an egg-free cake and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil)
  • 2 limes, zested and the juice of one
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
*Note: To make this cake Paleo-friendly, create a filling with:
  • 1 large container of coconut milk yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup of cashew butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 punnet of blueberries or 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 8 strawberries, diced
  • 2 limes, zested and the juice of half one lime
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. To make the crust, soak fresh dates in a little boiling water for 10 minutes or until very soft. Spoon out the excess water and using an electric mixer, cream on high speed until puréed. Continue mixing and add in the almond meal, cashew butter, honey and flaxseed oil until the ingredients form a thick paste.
  2. Preheat the oven to a hot 200 degrees and spray the cake tin with cooking oil spray.
  3. Press the date paste onto the bottom of the cake tin and spread evenly to create a base. Use the remaining paste to create a pie crust around the sides, which should cover three-quarters up the side of the tin.
  4. Bake the crust blind in the hot oven for 8 minutes, until toasted and crusty.
  5. Take the tin out of the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile clean the electric mixer to use again to make the filling.
  6. To make the filling, cream together the tofu, coconut yoghurt, cream cheese, lime juice and zest, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
  7. Beat in the stevia sweetener, honey or agave (depending on your preference) until sugars are dissolved.
  8. Stir in the berries.
  9. Pour the mixture into the pie crust; I like to fill only to the top of the crust but it won't matter if the mixture spills over.
  10. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and find a roasting tin that will fit the cake tin inside. Place the cake tin in the roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to reach half-way up the cake tin side.
  11. Bake in the slow-heat oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When the cooking time is done, leave the cake to cool inside the oven with a wooden spoon stuck in the oven door to leave it ajar.
  12. After 1 - 2 hours, take out the cake and leave to come to room temperature in a cool place in the kitchen. 
  13. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
  14. To serve, unclasp the springform tin but leave the cake sitting on it's metal base, just remove the visible foil. Slice when still cold but leave for 30 minutes to warm up slightly before serving (I think it tastes better this way). 
  15. To present the cake, you can add extra blueberries, strawberries, fresh flowers and gourmet chocolates/lollies. I used gorgeous heart-shaped freckles and chopped Skinny Cow chocolate wafer bar.
Makes 10 - 12 servings.

October 20, 2012

Skinny Vegan Chocolate Cake (sugar/gluten free)

Vegan baking means using no eggs or butter, which are usually staples to cake making. I find baking without these two ingredients surprisingly easy but I was up for a challenge; creating a vegan chocolate cake that was sugar free and gluten free, yet still delicious tasting. Adapting a traditional chocolate cake recipe from the new Frankie 50th edition magazine, I managed to create a satisfying chocolate cake replacement for vegans, gluten-free followers and sugar avoiders! Using rich cocoa, shredded coconut, flaxseed oil and stevia, the cake is moist and decadent. It was so scrumptious that the whole family enjoyed it, tested by the young and old alike who all deemed this cake a success. Of course, if you are vegan but don't require gluten or sugar free recipes, just use normal sugar and flours for the recipe.

Skinny Vegan Chocolate Cake (sugar/gluten free)

  • 1 cup of plain gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup of self-raising gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon of of gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of gluten-free baking soda
  • 1 cup of dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons of stevia baking sugar or 8 packets of stevia sweetener (I use Natvia)
  • 2 cups of strong coffee, made with almond milk (I used coffee tea bags)
  • 1/2 cup of flaxseed oil (Could also use coconut/rice bran/vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa, sifted
  • 6 packets of stevia sweetener
  • 3 tablespoon of hot water

  1. In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder and soda, cocoa and spices and stir to combine. Add the sweetener and mix to incorporate ingredients. 
  2. In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the cooled coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together vigorously to allow the vinegar and baking soda to react. Add in the coconut and mix.
  4. Pour into a greased cake tin or silicone cake tin. 
  5. Bake for 45 minutes in a moderate oven or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack to cool further.
  7. To make the icing, combine the cocoa, stevia and hot water and mix to create a thick sauce. If the icing is too much like a paste, add some more hot water. Drizzle the slightly cooled chocolate icing over the cake and allow to set before slicing.
  8. Will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Makes 12 pieces. 

October 16, 2012

Oat Tahini Balls

If you need something sweet to tide you over between meals but don't want to blow your calorie budget, these oat snacks are the perfect solution. These bite-sized sugar-free and high in protein snacks are quick and easy to make. They will keep for a week in an airtight container in the fridge but I think they taste nicest at room temperature; just let them defrost a bit before eating.

October 11, 2012

Should you use coconut oil in your cooking and baking?

I keep seeing coconut oil popping up in clean eating recipes, used as a substitute for butter or regular oils. I first heard about coconut oil through reading Miranda Kerr's eating regime that includes regular doses of the oil; Miranda is a devoted fan of coconut oil valuing it's health benefits for the body inside and out. Her love for this type of oil was criticized by health experts who have warned of the high saturated fat content in coconuts. But looking at Miranda's incredible body and glowing skin, I wondered who was right on this issue?

Firstly, coconut oil is about 90 percent saturated fat! That’s a much higher percentage than butter (about 64 percent saturated fat), beef fat (40 percent) or even lard (also 40 percent). Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of heart disease. However, unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil doesn't have a negative effect on cholesterol levels and actually gives “good” HDL cholesterol a boost.

Plant-based oils are more than just fats, of course. Coconut oil, like other plant oils, also contains many antioxidants and other substances that may benefit your health. Coconuts are rich in lauric acid, which has very powerful anti-bacterial / anti-viral properties and is well known to support a healthy immune system and even facilitate brain function.

Here is six easy ways to add the benefits of coconut oil to your daily diet:

1 – Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your favourite breakfast smoothie

2 – Add a tablespoon to buckwheat or quinoa porridge with a drop of stevia

3 – Use as a spread on your favourite gluten free crackers or bread

4 – Use coconut oil for your stir fries & curries – works wonderfully with Asian & Indian flavours

5 – Roast vegetables with coconut oil & sea salt

6 – Mix coconut oil with raw cacao powder and stevia for a delicious, healthy chocolate topping or dipping sauce

October 10, 2012

Sugar-free Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints

These cookies are high in protein and sugar-free, which means you can indulge in a little treat and still keep on track with your fitness and weight loss goals. Peanut butter is a great snack for dieters because it is filling and high in protein to feed your muscles and help with recovery after gym sessions. The high fat content also helps your body to burn more calories and keep your metabolism firing. You only need a few ingredients to make these cookies and once baked, they will keep in an airtight container for a week.

Sugar-free Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints

(makes 14 cookies)

  • 1 cup organic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy depending on your favourite)
  • 1/4 cup of Natvia stevia sweetener
  • 2 tablespoons of oat flour (to make pulverise oats in a food processor)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like to use the paste)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of weight-watchers forest fruits jam (or another sugar-free berry jam)

  1. In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, Natvia, egg, and vanilla extract. I like to use an electric mixer to whip the ingredients into a creamy consistency. Add the flour and briefly mix to combine.
  2. Line a baking sheet with greased-proof paper and preheat the oven to 180 degree (moderately hot). Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop cookie dough balls onto the parchment paper. If you don't have a scoop, use a tablespoon and roll the cookies into a ball. 
  3. Press your finger into each cookie dough ball to make a crevice for the jam (yes, they are meant to be 'thumbprint cookies' but a using your finger just works better!). Put 1/4 teaspoon of jam into the centre of each cookie.
  4. Bake in the oven for 11 minutes. Let the cookies cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Enjoy!

October 07, 2012

Funny girl Jenna Marbles reveals her diet and fitness secrets

Jenna Marbles is a you tube darling, renowned for her funny and candid views of 'a day in the life' of a modern female.

Jenna tells Shape.com about her diet and exercise regime:

I know you guys ask me all the time about my diet/exercise. I explained in a vlog a little while back that I try to keep a vegan diet 6 days a week and have a cheat day in there so I don’t go cray cray so that still hasn’t changed. But my workouts are always all over the place because I like to keep it new and different. I can’t just go into the gym, do my cardio, lift weights, and repeat every day until I die. That’s not fun to me. 

I like to do different stuff and as I said in my diet/exercise video I usually love to do fitness on demand straight from the TV at my house. (I have Comcast, so it’s under OnDemand and then Fitness and there’s like a million billion things in there to keep you busy from your house). But this month I’m doing Bob Harper’s bikini workout from Shape Magazine and let me tell you, this jumpoff will make you break a sweat for sure.

You do all of the moves/reps as listed with no rest in between, then repeat the entire set for a second time 2-3 days a week. 4-5 times a week you get your cardio in, know what I mean? I love the Biggest Loser, so I thought I’d give my 2nd favorite trainer a shot (Jillian still reigns supreme, she’s got some killer DVD’s and workouts OnDemand for those of you that are interested).

Tryin to get my butt to look all tight and shit.

Check out the Shape.com workout from Bob Harper.

October 05, 2012

Body confidence taught from Mother Monster Lady Gaga who hits back at those calling her 'fat'

Ignoring her body bullies, Lady Gaga has held her head high and kept up her usual Gaga ways in wearing risqué fashion choices and looking damn proud while working it. Rumours are rife that Gaga has gained over 10 kilograms in the past six months, flaunting a noticeably curvier figure than her former waif-like self.

Looking thin in her Born This Way video

What is ironic is that Gaga looks like any normal girl walking down the street, she is cute, in shape and seems happy in her relationship. I am confused why this attracts negative attention? What should be negative is women suffering from eating disorders, which Gaga admits to falling victim to since she was 15 years old, including battling bulimia and anorexia.

I saw Gaga in concert a few months ago and I thought she looked positively tiny. She certainly could have gained weight without any problem considering she looked almost too thin. Although to me, if you want to be thin or curvier, I don't see why it is someone else's business to judge unless you are unhealthy or in need of help. Gaga agrees with this philosophy free of judgement and created the Born This Way Foundation to inspire bravery and a body revolution.

Gaga commented her boyfriend, gorgeous Taylor Kinney (pictured left) loves her body curvier.

Gaga wrote on her blog, 'When I eat and am healthy and not so worried about my looks. I'm happy. Happier then I've ever been. I am not going to go on a psycho-spree because of scrutiny. This is who I am. And I am proud at any size.'

The talented and beautiful superstar is obviously happy in love and content with herself, which is a exquisite feeling for any human being.

I love the gorgeous picture of them together below and the one underneath, where they played up a mock wedding for one of her videos.

A dieter's solution to peanut butter addiction

When I came across this product, I firstly couldn't work out what it was! Powdered peanut butter sounds pretty strange but I knew I wanted to know more because like many, I am totally addicted to peanut butter. I have never pinpointed the cause for my addiction; I didn't eat it as a child, I don't particularly like peanuts (yes that really doesn't make any sense) and my mum thinks peanut butter is disgusting (she is British and thinks marmalade is the way to go). Nevertheless I have to ration my peanut butter purchases as I have been known to eat a whole jar in a matter of days....which led me to think, is there an alternative?

My addiction is not a unique one; many fitness junkies and weight watchers like myself find it hard to resist peanut butter. It is filling and nutritious, full of good fats and protein, which makes it a great fitness food. However, it is just so hard to stop at one tablespoon, which packs a punch of over 100 calories. After you've hastily spooned a few mouthfuls straight from the jar, you could easily of consumed over 500 calories, equating to over one hour of hard running on the treadmill. Phew! Peanut butter's high fat and calorie content is why some dieters will not go near the stuff but for those who are peanut butter lovers, what is the solution?

This is what leads us to this new product 'Powdered Peanut Butter'. At first, I could not understand why you would want to or how you would eat this powdered peanut concoction. Then I realised you can technically create your own peanut butter than is virtually fat-free. How the powdered stuff works is that you mix the powder with water to create a peanut paste that is 85% lower in fat and calories than regular peanut butter. To make the powder, manufacturers squeeze the oil from the peanuts to make a powder virtually free from the fat from the nuts. What is also helpful about this powdered form is the removal of the temptation to dunk your spoon into that gooey delicious spread and down 200 calories without realising it. You make the peanut butter substitute as you need it, and can adjust the consistency to your preference.

The most popular brand seems to be PB2, which pops up on a lot of fitness websites. I personally can't wait to get my hands on it and try it for myself. I'd love to hear from you if you are a peanut butter addict like me or have tried this substitute version. I might finally be able to kick my addiction, or really just replace it....

October 03, 2012

Peanut Butter Protein Cookies


  • 1/2 cup of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of stevia powder sweetener
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jar of natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of plain flour
  1. Using an electric mixer, whisk together the peanut butter and sweetener. Add the two eggs and cream until combined and fluffy.
  2. Add in the vanilla and ginger.
  3. On low speed, add the oats, flour and protein powder until just combined.
  4. Scoop out tablespoons of mixture onto a a large baking tray covered in greased-proof paper.
  5. Bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes, until cooked through and crisp.
  6. Let cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.