Reader recipes: Healthy makeovers
Bonnie Summer’s very moreish egg and dairy-free chocolate sponge (pictured) won our recent Milly’s competition where we asked readers to give a traditional recipe a makeover to suit a particular diet. The makeover may have involved omitting or replacing fat or sugar, making something dairy or gluten free or maybe it meant adding additional ingredients to boost fibre or protein, for instance.
We loved how easy Bonnie’s cake was to make and how healthy it was and we sure loved how it tasted with its lavish whipped coconut cream filling!
Bonnie won a $100 voucher to spend in store at Milly’s. Along with her winning entry, we were impressed with these other reader recipes below and we have them on our own to-make lists at home. Please note, that apart from Bonnie’s sponge, these have not been tested by Bite.
Bonnie’s egg- and diary-free sponge cake
3 cups white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups coconut sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
⅔ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 can coconut cream, refrigerated overnight (See Cook’s note)
Raspberry jam, to serve
- Heat oven to 180C and grease and line 2 round baking tins.
- Sift spelt flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl and mix in the coconut sugar.
- In a separate bowl mix together vanilla, oil, vinegar and water.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir well to combine.
- Divide evenly between baking tins and bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Turn on to a rack after 10 minutes.
- Open the can of coconut cream carefully, you want to spoon off the solid cream, leaving the liquids behind. Put the solids into a bowl and whip.
- Spread raspberry jam over one cake then top with some of the whipped coconut cream. Place the other cake on top and top with more whipped coconut cream. Decorate with coconut threads or flakes and fresh or freeze dried raspberries or decorate with toppings of choice - edible flowers are also good.
Cook’s note: Whipping coconut cream - your coconut cream can needs to be well refrigerated for the water to split from the cream and you need to look for a brand that doesn’t have stabilisers as this prevents splitting. Do not shake the can and open it carefully so as not to unsettle it. You will get more solids out of some cans than others.
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Hannah’s vegan mac and cheese
Hannah Davis’ vegan mac and cheese contains plenty of comfort but no dairy at all … even her meat-eating friends agree it’s better than the real thing. This recipe also works beautifully as a baked pasta. Simply make and preheat oven to 200C, sprinkle some LSA or breadcrumbs on top, some chives and dairy-free cheese if you've got them, season with salt and pepper and put in the oven on bake for 10 minutes. Serves 4-6
Wholegrain pasta, amount to suit
¼ cup vegan butter (I like to use Light Olivani)
⅓ cup flour (any, I prefer buckwheat for health benefits but all-purpose will produce a perfectly creamy sauce)
3 cups unsweetened plant-based milk – such as soy, almond or oat
2 Tbsp tomato paste
½ cups nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp garlic salt, or a mix of garlic powder and salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice, optional
- Bring pot of salted water to boil, add preferred amount of wholegrain pasta and cook.
- Meanwhile, melt vegan butter in a separate pot on medium heat. As it gets runny, add flour. Whisk until mixture forms a paste-like consistency. Once flour is fully incorporated, add 1 cup of milk.
- Turn heat to high, and whisk mixture until it's slightly thick and looks well mixed. Add the other 2 cups of milk, tomato paste, nutritional yeast and garlic salt. Bring to boil, whisking frequently.
- Reduce heat to low and let simmer until sauce is at preferred consistency. Make sure you whisk well throughout to avoid lumps and to avoid mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add lemon juice and combine.
- Mix in drained pasta and, if preferred, some cooked veges as well. Carrot, peas, broccoli and cauliflower all go wonderfully.
Lena’s paleo zucchini loaf
Lena Kemp remade her favourite zucchini loaf recipe to suit a paleo diet. She says it is easy, healthy, versatile and, most importantly, scrumptious!
6 free range eggs
½ cup butter or coconut oil, melted
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 zucchini, grated
1 small red capsicum, finely chopped
¾ cup coconut flour
½ cup almond meal
½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
½ tsp organic garlic powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup pumpkin seeds (reserve some for sprinkling on top)
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp Italian herb mix
- Preheat oven to 180C. Combine all wet ingredients in a bowl along with zucchini and capsicum and mix together.
- In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix through evenly (save a sprinkling of pumpkin and sunflower seeds for the top).
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix through. Use your hands to feel for any lumps needing separation.
- Pour the mix into a loaf pan greased with coconut oil and lined with baking paper. Sprinkle top with some sea salt as well as leftover seeds.
- Bake for 50 minutes to an hour or until cooked through. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving with coconut oil or butter, if desired
Sophie’s gluten-free eclairs
When Sophie Moore was forced to swap to a gluten-free diet she decided to take eclairs with her. She experimented to come up with this version that she could eat. “They are almost better than the original,” she says “and are piped with beautiful lemon custard, a recipe of my Italian partner's family. Who says you can't enjoy pastries if you are gluten-free!”
3½ Tbsp butter
1⅓ cups water
⅔ cup mix of buckwheat and rice flour
75g mix of rice and tapioca flours
100g caster sugar
500ml milk, or use soy milk
Rind of 1 lemon, use a potato peeler to keep it in one piece
- Preheat oven to 200C. To make eclairs, melt butter in water in a pot on the stove. Turn off the heat and stir in 2/3 cup mix of buckwheat and rice flour until you get a firm stretchy ball.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Using a mixer, add eggs, one at a time, beating for 5 minutes until fully combined.
- Put into piping bag with wide nozzle and pipe lines onto baking paper on a tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Prick holes in eclairs once cool and pipe in custard cream.
- To make the custard cream, mix flour and sugar in a pot and beat in the egg. Whisk in the milk and add the lemon rind.
- Bring to a simmer and turn the heat down to low, stirring constantly until custard thickens. Remove lemon rind and pipe cooled custard into eclairs.
Jennie’s cranberry carrot cake
Jennie Leary’s simple-to-make cake is moist and not too sweet. And it keeps well if stored out of sight! Jenny has substituted Splenda for sugar, making it suitable for diabetics and she says the cake actually seems lighter than when made with white sugar. This recipe is also suitable as a muffin mix, with cooking times adjusted accordingly.
1½ cup plain flour, sifted
½ tsp salt, optional
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup Splenda
⅔ cup (160g) butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
½ cup whole cranberry sauce (I use Ocean spray)
½ cup dried cranberries, softened in warm water then drained
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Add remaining ingredients and blend well.
- Spread batter in a greased and floured, fluted, 2-litre (9 cup) bundt cake pan or ring pan. Bake 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the sides of the cake come away from the pan.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. Serve plain, dusted with icing sugar, or glaze (as below) and decorate as desired.
1 Tbsp milk or light cream
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients; stir to blend well and spread over cooled cake.
Shari’s blueberry mini muffins
Shari Hammond developed this recipe for her allergic toddler. It’s free of gluten, dairy, egg, nuts and soy.
1¾ cups gluten free flour blend (I use Orgran brand)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 pinch tsp salt
3 Tbsp stevia extract
1 cup frozen organic blueberries
1 cup rice milk
¼ cup sunflower oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 small lemon
- Preheat oven to 175C.
- Combine flour blend with baking powder, baking soda, salt and stevia. Coat blueberries in mix.
- Mix together rice milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and lemon rind.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Pour into buttered mini muffin silicon tray. Bake for 11 minutes.