Cook this: Olive oil chocolate zucchini cake (low FODMAP)

Oh, hey Sunday! I know most people have a real love/hate relationship with you, but mostly I really like you. I especially love you in the Melbourne spring time – more often than not, you follow a semi-hectic Saturday, breezing in with your just-warm-enough sunshine and blue skies, lazy mornings and relaxing afternoons. Personally, I think that right now, you’re one of the best days of the week to enjoy a good cup of tea, because right now it’s not so warm that you don’t feel like hot tea, and it’s not so cold that you can’t sit outside in the sunshine to enjoy it. And you can’t really enjoy a good pot of tea without something delicious to nibble on.

Enter a recipe I adapted from Laura’s dark chocolate olive oil zucchini bread on Fork Knife Swoon. I’ve made this twice in the last 10 days, and it’s one of the best chocolate cake recipes I have now. Of course, the recipe I’m using isn’t quite the same as Laura’s – you guys know I like to do these things my own way! And as much as I like Laura’s effort in calling in “bread,” I’m not even gonna bother. Despite the fact that this is a relatively healthy cake compared to other fudgy chocolate cakes (olive oil instead of plain butter, plenty of zucchini, unsweetened cocoa powder instead of heaps of sugar and melted chocolate), it is rich, moist, chocolatey and completely addictive. I’m also a  massive fan of the taste of good quality olive oil, and it works so absolutely perfectly with the dark chocolate in this cake. Oh yeah, and it’s still gluten free (providing you use gluten free plain flour), lactose free, fructose free, FODMAP and tummy friendly. Amazing.

Use these..
– 2 small zucchinis
– ¾ cup almond meal
– 1 cup plain flour
– ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 tsp baking powder
– ½ cup caster sugar

– ¾ cup olive oil
– 2 eggs, at room temperature
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– ½ cup dark chocolate chips (I used Lindt 85% dark chocolate because it doesn’t upset my stomach like other chocolates do, and just chopped it up into small pieces)

.. to make this:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease or baking paper-line a tin of choice – I used a medium sized loaf tin, but you can go round, square, whatever you want.

2. Grate the zucchini into a strainer or colander, and squeeze out a bit of the excess moisture (but not ALL of it, because you need some of it to keep the cake moist. I hate that word, but that’s what it is).

3. In a small bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

4. In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Then stir in the zucchini.

5. Add about a quarter of the flour mix to the wet mixture and stir to combine. Continue adding the flour bit by bit, stirring as you go and making sure it’s completely combined.  Lastly, stir in those chocolate chips.

6. Pour the batter into your tin and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Let your cake cool off until it’s safe to handle, slice it up and enjoy eating as much as you want, because it’s full of vegetables and what not 😉

Well, I’m off to enjoy lunch with my lovely in-laws (no, seriously) now, but I’ll be heading home to enjoy a cuppa and some of this cake when we’re done! And don’t worry guys – it’s not even midday yet, and this cake is stupidly easy to make, so you have plenty of time to get one in the oven to enjoy this arvo, too! Also, you really should get some extra veggies in today…  Here’s to you Sunday – thanks for the sunshine and down time to relax and eat cake before the start of another hectic week!

Cook this: Zucchini chocolate chip cake (gluten/lactose free, low FODMAP)

zucchini cake 3

Last week I posted a bit of an educational post, after getting some test results that led me to a low FODMAP diet for the next few weeks. As a result, I’ve been getting creative in the kitchen, with surprisingly good results thus far (for those of you who are also FODMAP challenged, I’ll keep posting recipes that’ll hopefully make your lives easier as well!), but the daily scroll through my favourite blogs proves to be difficult reading. My sweet tooth is screaming for the pretty, sugary cakes and cookies I see, the gluten laden pastries and lactose heavy ice creams. But they’re all deal breakers at the moment, so the creativity continues; I can’t go without my bit of cake with my tea, so I’m making things FODMAP friendly instead! Instead of whinging about what I can’t have, I’ve just gotta work with what I can have!

About a fortnight ago, I saw this recipe as made by Sophie at Cooking Trips, who in turn took her cue from Levana at Levana’s Whole Foods Kitchen. While both their recipes looked lovely (with Levana suggesting the additions of walnuts or pecans for a nutty crunch, and Sophie going with pine nuts), I, as usual, had my own ideas. I needed to make my cake FODMAP friendly – that meant a gluten, lactose, fructose, etc free version. I was fortunate in finding a pretty decent gluten free flour at the Preston Market, and decided to try a gluten free flour/almond meal mix in lieu of regular flour. I also recently found out that Lindt 85% dark chocolate is lactose free (yay!) and that a small amount of sunflower seeds is ok.

Long story short; I made the changes I needed to make, and it turned out AMAZINGLY, perfectly, spectacularly well! I wasn’t honestly expecting amazing things from a gluten free, low FODMAP cake, but holy wow it was good! It’s one of my least favourite words, but “moist” would be one of the more appropriate ways to describe this cake. It was sweet, but not overpoweringly so, with the dark chocolate pairing up perfectly with the zucchini (I’d always heard they went well together in cakes, but had somehow never tried it), and the almond meal held the moisture of the zucchini really well, with the gluten free flour giving it a bit more of a typical cake-like texture.

zucchini cake 1

You shouldn’t need to know much more – it’s a delicious low FODMAP cake, it has chocolate which is delicious, zucchini which basically makes it a health food option, and it doesn’t taste like crap, which you’d probably expect. Go buy a zucchini and get baking!

Ingredients (makes one loaf):
– 1 large or 2 small zucchinis
– 3 large eggs, at room temperature
– 2 tbsp lactose free milk (I used Zymil)
– 2 tbsp vegetable oil
– finely grated zest of one small orange
– 1 cup almond meal
– 1½ cups gluten free flour, double sifted
– 1 tsp baking powder
– ⅓ cup caster sugar
– heaped ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or roughly chopped Lindt 85% dark chocolate

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and grease a loaf tin with butter. Grate the zucchini into a large strainer or colander, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. In a large bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and orange zest, then set aside.

3. In another bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix together well to blend and combine.

4. Go back to the zucchini, and taking one handful at a time, squeeze out some of the excess moisture (don’t squeeze it dry, but you also don’t want it sopping wet), and mix it into the egg mixture.

5. Add about a third of the dry mixture into the wet mixture, and stir to combine. Add another third and stir again, then finally the remainder and again stir to completely combine.

6. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf tin and bake 60min, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7. Allow the cake to cool down to room temperature in the tin, slice and enjoy! Should keep for 3 – 4 days in an air-tight container.

zucchini cake 2

Cook this: 6 ingredient pork fried rice

“It’s way too expensive.”

“It’s too hard – how am I supposed to come up with ideas every night?!”

“It’ll taste crap.”

“What, like kale and salad? No thanks!”

“How can you be bothered? It takes too long and I have better things to do than spend hours in the kitchen!”

“But my kids/partner/cat has special dietary requirements.”

“It won’t keep – instead of having left overs, I’ll just have to throw it out, and that’s such a waste.”

While it did in large part contribute to my current disordered eating situation, my career in the health and wellness industry (the result of my uni degree in exercise science) did also have a few up sides, one of which was that I developed an appreciation and genuine enjoyment of well prepared healthy food.

One of my biggest professional hates, along with “I didn’t have time to exercise this week” (but you had time to watch TV for 2 hours each night?!) were all the excuses listed above for not making healthy food choices. Studying nutrition made up a good part of my uni degree and further learning/career; a huge con is the subconscious knowledge and counting of every single calorie I eat. But an even bigger pro is the ability I now have to put together a healthy meal with minimal ingredients, in a short time frame.

Allow me to give you a really quick recipe before demonstrating how wrong all of those points are…


6 Ingredient Pork Fried Rice

Ingredients (makes 4 serves)
– 500g pork mince
– 2 cups cooked brown rice
– 2 carrots, peeled and diced (you can par-boil if you don’t like your veggies as crunchy)
– 1 broccoli, chopped (you can par-boil if you don’t like your veggies as crunchy)
– 400g tin corn kernels, drained
– soy sauce
– cooking spray oil (I’m not counting this as an actual “ingredient”!)

1. Heat a large wok over high heat, spray with cooking oil and add the mince. Cook, stirring constantly to break it up in the wok for a few minutes, until it’s cooked through and no pink remains in the meat.

2. Add the carrots, broccoli and corn kernels, cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the carrot softens and the veggies get a little colour to them.

3. Add the cooked rice and as much or as little soy sauce as you want – keep stirring over high heat for another 5 minutes, or until the rice starts to get a little crispier (I tend to stop and stir in intervals around 30 seconds, to allow the rice to form a bit of a crust on the bottom of my wok, which tastes amazing when you scrape it up.

4. That’s it! Serve it up with garnishes if you have/want them – I use fresh coriander and the tops of spring onions, to keep it FODMAP friendly.



So, how does it weigh up?


“It’s way too expensive.”
No it’s not – I can get a kilo of pork mince at my local market for around $7.00, 2kg of rice for around $4.00, and you can’t tell me 2 carrots, a broccoli and a tin of corn are going to break the bank!

“It’s too hard – how am I supposed to come up with ideas every night?!”
6 ingredients and 4 steps ain’t hard! As for coming up with ideas, there are SO many amazing healthy food blogs around – get inspired and read!

“It’ll taste crap.”
Wrong again! Keep it simple – a few good ingredients = delicious meal.

“What, like kale and salad? No thanks!”
Healthy food doesnt’ have to be salad! I’ve based this recipe off a pretty basic principle – 1 serve of healthy fat (cooking oil), 1 serve of protein (mince), 2 serves of grains (rice), 3 serves of veggies. Once you’ve got that basic formula, you can make it whatever you want!

“How can you be bothered? It takes too long and I have better things to do than spend hours in the kitchen!”
Around half an hour to make 4 meals. That’s all you need.Wanna make it extra quick? Use one of those microwave rice packets instead!

“But my kids/partner/cat has special dietary requirements.”
Low fat, low calorie, gluten free (as long as you use GF soy sauce), lactose free, low FODMAP, no nuts, no eggs. What else do you want?!

“It won’t keep – instead of having left overs, I’ll just have to throw it out, and that’s such a waste.”
Keeps perfectly well in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge.


So if you’re stuck for quick and easy and cheap and healthy meal ideas for the rest of the week, just grab these few ingredients and enjoy this week!