Butter, from grass-fed cows, wins every time!

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We all know that butter is the latest buzz-word, especially if you are part of the Banting community!

Fat is our new best friend.

Margarine is a definite no-no! But, please have some butter in your coffee, with your fried eggs, in your porridge, on your seed crackers, your veggies, in your sauces and anywhere else you feel like it. Butter on absolutely everything, every day, all the time! Yes please – triple yum!

But, what makes butter from grass-fed cows so special?

Grass-fed butter is rich in about 400 different fatty acids and a number of vitamins, such as A, D and E, but vitamin K2 is only present in cows eating rapidly growing green grass, rich in vitamin K1. K1 is then converted into K2 by the cow’s system, which is something our bodies cannot do. Therefore, by eating grass-fed butter we are able to utilise this vitamin. K2 is responsible for making sure that calcium is deposited into our bones correctly, promoting strong bones and teeth, as well as helping to prevent tooth decay (by reducing the amount of acidophilus bacteria in the mouth). K2 also helps to prevent heart disease by stopping calcium from being deposited in the arteries. It is also shown to be important for brain function and the reproductive system. Pregnant women deficient in this vitamin, often give birth to children with poor facial bone structure. K2 is also found in pastured eggs, some organs like kidney and liver, and marrow, from grass-fed cows.

Grass-fed butter is also high in butyric acid, which promotes a healthy metabolism, wonderful for weight regulation, and helps to control insulin sensitivity, which is great for anyone on the Banting diet, with insulin resistance and Diabetes. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-stress properties.

And that’s why I choose to use butter from grass-fed cows in my products.

Moooove over and pass me the grass-fed butter, please 🙂

My Story

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I started my business, Sweet Like Candi, a little over a year ago because I saw the need for delicious gluten free and sugar free treats.

I have had an interesting health and food journey – in my eyes, both food and health are inexorably linked. I am a firm believer that you are what you eat.

I suffered in excess of eight years of my life with intestinal ulcers, bloating, insomnia, brain fog, mood swings and a number of other uncomfortable and painful symptoms, until I was lead to a Homeopath, (after all a doctor could prescribe to me were anti-depressants, which I refused to take).

Months of elimination tests culminated in some blood tests that stated that I had intolerances to gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast and garlic.

Knowledge is power, and I equipped myself with as much information as I could on the subject. At first, I was immensely overwhelmed because when reading food labels, it became apparent that these items were in the majority of store bought and ready-made foods.

This sparked my passion for cooking because I realized that the only way that I was going to be able to eat anything, was to make it myself.

Baking became my biggest challenge as I was determined to bake without the likes of flour, eggs, milk, sugar and yeast. I realized that baking was a science, and the only way to bake without an ingredient was to figure out what the ingredient actually did, in order to replace it.

I did extensive research, wrote articles, experimented for hours on end, forced my friends to be my guinea pigs, and eventually I started a blog about my food journey because I reasoned that there must be other people out there in the same position as me.

Six years ago, it wasn’t an easy task to eat out at restaurants, if you had allergies or intolerances. Trying to explain what I wanted to eat became a five day game, because I would forget to mention no basting on my steak or no dressing on my salad, and landed up sending my food back more often than not. My friends, I’m sure, dreaded going out with me. So, I was faced with a choice, stay at home or just not be strict when going out and suffer the consequences. I still wanted a social life, so I chose the latter, which became a bit of a downward spiral as one cheat lead to another, and one compromise led to another until eventually I was not healing myself.

I landed up at an Iridologist who looked into my eye and summed up my health woes in one word – Candida. Candida is a yeast infection. The organism Candida Albicans is already present in our bodies, such as the mouth and gut, in order for us to function correctly. Factors such as stress, poor diet, a compromised immune system, extended use of antibiotics, alcohol and birth control pills can cause it to grow out of control.

In my case, the Candida was the worst he had seen. It was in every organ of my body and he said that if I continued the way I was going, I might not be able to fall pregnant. And thus started my new blog, and my new food journey, Sweet Like Candida.

This blog is just focused on eliminating gluten and sugar – and I thought how amazing it was to be able to bake with eggs and dairy again.

I started finding ways to replace the sugar and gluten, making my own gluten free flour mixes and I even made a few cakes using beans. I pushed the boundaries with ingredients, much like I had done before.

But, even though I now had a new eating plan, I wasn’t feeling healthy and I still wasn’t losing the fat roll around my middle – a sure fire sign that I was insulin resistant.

Around this time, my step mom found out that she had Type 2 Diabetes. Her health journey led her to Tim Noakes, The Real Meal Revolution and Banting, which in a nut shell is about eating real food and avoiding anything processed and ready-made. In an ironic twist of fate, it seemed like my food journey had come full circle.

I devoured the Real Meal Revolution book from cover to cover and became excited when it mentioned reversing Candida, which had by now become my life’s mission.

The main aim with Candida is to starve it of all sugar, and foods which convert into sugar, which it feeds on – thus Banting is the perfect diet for me.

When I learned about the phenomenon of hidden carbs in foods, it was like a light bulb went on in my head; it made complete sense to me, because although I wasn’t eating gluten or sugar, per se, I was still eating rice and potatoes and some fruits and vegetables, which all, because of their hidden carbs, converted into sugar in the body, fueling my Candida.

The book made me feel like someone understood where I was coming from, and how I still absolutely needed my food to taste delicious and that I didn’t want to feel deprived because I was eliminating certain things from my diet.

The huge amount of fat did cause me to panic at first because all my life I had been taught that fat was bad and unhealthy. But, with the constant repetition from my step mom that fats are good and carbs and hidden carbs are the enemy, my mind began to shift as I tested it out and began to see the results in myself.

I no longer experienced the yo-yo effect with my weight – losing it and then putting it back on. The bloating stopped and so did the mind fog and mood swings. I had so much energy, with no more tired slumps or lethargy. I was happier than I had felt in forever and I just wanted to share my good fortune with the world, and so began my new task, with my new business – Sweet Like Candi.

Sweet Like Candi specializes in cakes, desserts and savoury items for all occasions. Some examples include: cauliflower pizza bases, bread, truffle squares and a variety of cakes and cupcakes. Only the best ingredients are used: free range eggs; grass fed butter, cream and yoghurt; organic chocolate, cocoa and coconut oil; vanilla extract (to name a few).

The reason I choose to use xylitol in my baking is because it does not convert into sugar in the body like other sweeteners such as fructose, honey, coconut sugar and agave – although these are all seen as natural, they have the same effect on the body as sugar. Xylitol also has proven anti-fungal properties, inhibits Candida yeast and reduces tooth decay. (Although it is not safe for dogs and may have a laxative effect in some people.)

All of my products are Banting, low carb, Diabetic friendly, grain free, sugar free – as well as dairy and egg free (where applicable).

Children’s diets have become very important to me – I feel that the sooner we start, not only feeding them better, but educating them on the foods that they consume, the better they will feel and the better equipped they will be to fight, and even prevent, health issues in the future. I am constantly creating treats and snacks that are delicious, healthy and kid approved.

I am excited about a healthy future. All it takes is a choice and the want to live a happy, fulfilled life.

Creamy Roasted Garlic Macadamia “Polenta” with Sundried Tomato Jam

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My phone rang, it was ZZ2 with an unexpected delivery. In my line of work, I receive deliveries all the time, but this was no ordinary delivery – it was the ZZ2 Mouthwatering Box!

I raced downstairs to collect my bounty of some of South Africa’s best produce. The box popped with delicious colour; I spied tomatoes in a multitude of shapes and hues; from large “every day” tomatoes, to tomatoes with beautiful names such as Romanita, Bacio, Rigoletta and Sante, but what peaked my fancy the most were the sundried tomatoes! The box also included onions, garlic, avos and even a nifty avo tool!

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I was beyond excited to get cooking! How could I not be with such fantastic ingredients?

I wanted to create something that would celebrate these ingredients, and my mind went straight to Italy. It must have been the exotic tomato names! But also because Italians are known for celebrating food in every sense of the word.

Winter is here, and to me, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of creamy polenta. Since polenta is a grain and I am Banting, I decided to create my own “polenta”. I wanted something with a neutral colour, I first thought of coconut, but it has quite a sweet taste, and then I went to almond, but it was still not quite right. I settled on Macadamia flour because of its earthiness, which would go perfectly with this dish. But, if you would like to recreate this dish at home, please feel free to use almond flour or polenta 🙂

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With the box of deliciousness, ZZ2 had asked us to create a dish that would hero two or more of the ingredients. I chose the garlic, Bacio vine tomatoes and of course, the sundried tomatoes.

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Creamy Roasted Garlic Macadamia “Polenta” with Sundried Tomato Jam, Roasted Tomatoes, Mushroom, Rocket and Macadamia Nut Oil

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

Macadamia Polenta:
1 cup macadamia nut flour
1 – 11/2 cups water
1/2 tsp Oryx desert salt (or similar)
1/4 – 1/2 cup cream (or more water)
1 knob butter
handful grated white cheese (parmesan, pecorino or cheddar)
1 head ZZ2 garlic, broken into cloves

Sundried Tomato Jam:
1/2 cup ZZ2 sundried tomatoes
water
pinch chilli flakes *optional
fresh thyme
pinch of xylitol *optional
salt and pepper to taste

Other:
2 large brown mushrooms
ZZ2 Bacio vine tomatoes
rocket
cheese shavings
macadamia nut oil or olive oil

Method:

This is a multi-tasking kind of recipe. You can move onto the next process, while the previous element is cooking, or you can follow the recipe step-by-step – it’s up to you.

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Place garlic cloves on an oven tray, skin still on, and roast until soft and “squishy” and when they can slide easily out of the skins (the kitchen will start to smell amazing at this point)
While that is happening, put sundried tomatoes into a pan and just cover with water to allow them to re-hydrate for a few minutes. Bring water to the boil once the tomatoes are plump
Add in the rest of the ingredients and reduce down until you have a jam-like consistency
Mash 1 clove of roasted garlic into the jam and leave on low heat, while you get on with the rest of the processes
Taste as you go. I chose the sundried tomatoes because they are packed full of flavour. You are looking for a punchy jam that zings with flavour
Add macadamia nut flour, salt and 1 cup of water to a saucepan and stir with a whisk to smooth out the lumps
Cook on medium heat until it forms a porridge-like consistency and the flour has cooked out and the liquid has been absorbed – reduce the heat to a simmer here (you may need to keep adding some liquid until you are happy with the consistency). Stir with the whisk every now and again. It will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of macadamia nut flour you use
Mash about 6 cloves of roasted garlic and stir into your “polenta” – this should provide a beautiful, yet subtle garlic flavour
Stir some cream, butter and cheese into the “polenta”. You should have something that is smooth, creamy and a little runny in consistency
Add salt and pepper to taste and keep on low heat until ready to serve
Place the mushrooms and vine tomatoes on a baking tray. Season your mushrooms with salt and pepper and drizzle them, as well as the vine tomatoes, with macadamia nut oil or olive oil
Roast until the tomato skins are wrinkled and the mushrooms have started to change colour and release their juices

To plate, place some “polenta” into a bowl or onto a plate, top with the tomato jam and slices of mushroom and the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle with a little macadamia nut oil or olive oil, finish off with a few shavings of cheese.

And there you have the perfect Winter warmer, using some of the best ingredients South Africa has to offer.

To win your very own Mouthwatering Box, an avo tool and a Checkers voucher worth R1000, tell ZZ2 what you’d create with this same box of ingredients by leaving your entry as a comment on their Facebook Page here. Good luck 🙂

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Low Carb Cauli-Roti

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I just love curry.

Making curry is one of my most favourite and relaxing things to do. Building up the flavours as I go along and creating the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and spicy, to me, is an almost spiritual creative-release. Not only because of the intricate layering of flavours, and the intoxicating aromas, but because with each chop of the blade and sprinkle of spice, I allow my mind to wander, peacefully, to uncharted territories.

Something as beautiful as the perfect curry, dolloped with a cooling mound of thick yoghurt and fresh sprigs of tangy coriander, deserves the perfect accompaniment – whether you are mopping up the juices or wanting to house the curry in a “bread-like” cocoon, for the ultimate spicy sandwich.

Once again, the versatile cauliflower allows for such an accompaniment – the low carb cauli-roti!

Low Carb Cauli-Roti (Makes 2)

Ingredients:

1 Cup Cooked “Cauli Snow”
1 Large Egg
2 Tbs Psyllium Husks
2 Tbs Coconut Flour
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Cumin Seeds

 Method:

To make “cauli snow”: Cook cauliflower florets until soft; pulse in a magimix until fine; transfer mixture to a tea towel, wrap tightly and squeeze out all the liquid.
Transfer “cauli snow” back to magimix, add all ingredients, except the cumin seeds, and mix until dough-like.
Add cumin seeds and mix into a “dough ball”.
Divide dough in half and roll each piece between two sheets of baking paper, dusted with coconut flour.
Cut out a round shape by placing a side plate on top of the rolled out dough and tracing around it.
Place roti into a hot, dry pan and cook on either side until golden brown.
Serve with filling of your choice.

Fairs, Markets and Expos with Cocoafair, Sally-Ann Creed and Jonno Proudfoot

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The last month has been quite a wild ride since leaving my previous job of 10 years, which had nothing to do with food, and taking a leap of faith to focus on Sweet Like Candi full time.

I am so grateful for the people who have come into my life and have provided encouragement, support, helpful tips, advice and knowledge.

Such people that spring to mind are Morne, Thelo and particularly Heinrich from Cocoafair. This Chocolate Factory is more like a family than a business – and I truly feel like I am one of the family. Going above and beyond comes naturally to them, and being the first 100% organic bean to bar chocolate factory in Africa, based on social entrepreneurship, cements all the right ingredients in place.

They see chocolate making as both an art-form and a mechanism for positive social change. Not only is their message and belief system a powerful one – their chocolate is the best I’ve tasted. You can tell that it is made with love, pride, passion and care and that they are as enthusiastic about chocolate as the most stringent chocolate lover!

Because they have such a strong belief in organic produce, I knew that this chocolate and their cocoa would be perfect for my baking – I pride myself on using only the best; our bodies are our temples, and eating sweet treats should not deviate from this principle.

My very first fair EVER was the Constantia Waldorf School Fair of The Heart, which seemed quite fitting as I am all about heart. The emphasis was on the environment and the community and they were expecting 6000 people to attend the event. WHAT?! How much do I need to bake for 6000 people??

There was a lot of baking involved – 20 batches of truffle squares, 7 cakes and over 200 cupcakes. A lot of sweat and tears, (although none in the baked goods :p) not much sleep, a sense of humour failure and much behind the scenes preparation. Thank goodness for my wonderful boyfriend who kept me sane and helped me wherever he could.

Yes! The day was a success, everyone loved my Banting goodies and I knew that I was on the right track. I learned a lot from the day and learning is invaluable.

I took what I had learnt onto the next one.

The Women’s Lifestyle Expo – a 3 day event and the ultimate showcase for the latest products and services for women and families. Cocoafair was going to be there and so was The Real Meal Revolution team with talks given by Sally-Ann Creed and Professor Tim Noakes – I simply had to be there!

WHAT?! Little old me with not much experience and a company less than a month old – yes, yes – let’s do this! I phoned up Heinrich from Cocoafair, and asked him if I could share his space. He said he didn’t think it was possible because of the rules, but because he believed in me and my products, he talked them into giving me my own space. Life is amazing! So there I was with my space and my table and a feeling of determination in every fiber of my being!

In between this, I received an e-mail from the City Bowl Market to say that a spot had become available and that they’d love for me to start on the day before the Women’s Lifestyle Expo. Ok, no problem – I can do this. Gulp! 4 days in a row to bake for – so how much do I bake for that?? 😉

Because I am baking Banting – I wanted to be 100% sure of all the products I was using, so I tweeted Sally-Ann Creed, the generous and lovely nutritionist who co-wrote the Real Meal Revolution. She has been amazing with her advice. I asked her if I could start using her Xylitol in my baking because I could trust that it would be the best with no funny additives in it and she happily said yes and accommodated me at extremely short notice – once again, here is an example of a lady willing to go above and beyond. Her encouragement, support and high praise of my venture has meant the world to me.

My first night at the City Bowl Market was awesome. People were truly excited to find out that all of my baked treats were gluten free, sugar free and Banting approved. One comment that sticks in my mind is “Birch bark Xylitol AND almond flour? How are you making any money?” 😉 I love it when people just get it. I fills me up with a sense of purpose and achievement. I want to help people by providing them with something that not many people offer. I’m excited to build my reputation and meet new folks as I continue to have a stall at the market.

On the final day of the Women’s Lifestyle Expo, I was on such a high. I had made so many fantastic contacts, met such enthusiastic individuals who were all in love with my products and were amazed that they tasted so good.

The best part for me and the thing that makes it all worth while is the reaction I receive when someone bites into one of my goodies – their whole face lights up in wonder and enjoyment and that’s when I know I’ve done something right! 🙂

Jonno Proudfoot, creator of The Real Meal Revolution recipes, had one of those reactions when biting into my cupcake; which alone put me on a high for days! He could not believe how good it tasted or that it was so low in carbs, he kept having to double check with me to make sure. “Would you rather eat one of those amazing cupcakes or a peach?” He asked, “a cupcake”, I said and he said “So would I!”

What Jonno had to say

What Jonno had to say