Apple and teff cake

I love having something sweet when I drink coffee, and I’m certain that so do many other people. And when I think of something sweet, it usually means cake or cookie. This is my biggest challenge when contemplating going completely 100% gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I experimented recently with teff (Eragrostis tef), also called tef, a grain originally from Ethiopia and Eritrea which goes to making the traditional flat bread called injera. Although teff is a cereal grain (among the smallest), it does not stimulate the same negative response in people with celiac disease, as found by Liesbeth Spaenij-Dekking and colleagues from Leiden University in the Netherlands (see Spaenij-Dekking L et al., 2005, The Ethiopian Cereal Tef in Celiac Disease, New England Journal of Medicine What this means is that although teff contains gluten, it is not the same kind as that found in wheat, barley, or oats. (Please note that my mentioning this does not constitute a recommendation to use teff for those who do have celiac disease.)  I do not have celiac disease, and am currently experimenting with  teff and other low-gluten or gluten-free ingredients, because of autoimmune issues from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My immune system has been extremely vulnerable lately, and I’m hoping that following the Perfect Health Diet (PHD) and its suggestions to eliminate gluten and sugar may help.PHD APPLE TEFF CAKE WHOLE APPLES TEFF FLOUR PACK_8935

Teff flour is Teffmehl in German, and is available at some organic food stores (Bioladen). I found this in the organic shop near Bonn Central Station. It ranges in colour from white to dark brown: I used a beige-coloured one. PHD TEFF FLOUR_8954As refined sugar substitutes, I used honey and a Belgian fruit spread, called Delice de Liege, made from apples, pears, and dates. The fruit spread is not, however, entirely sugar-free: there is a small amount: how much, though, is unstated on the package. For every 100 grams of fruit spread, the product claims 180 g of pears, 160 g of apples, and 60 g of dates.BELGIAN FRUIT SPREAD

I am in gradual transition from my normal diet to the PHD, starting with eliminating wheat. At the same time I am also trying to reduce my refined sugar intake, by substituting honey or other products that do not contain sugar, and I must confess to not entirely succeeding, as I do love baking and eating pastry. Thus these experiments with suitable wheat-free and refined sugar-free alternatives.

This is a not-too-sweet cake that goes well with coffee, tea, or any hot drink and, may I add, also cool or cold milk.  It can be served with yogurt or cream, and goes perfectly well with vanilla ice cream (for those not eliminating refined sugar entirely from their diet): especially while the cake is still warm, making for a nice apple-teff cake à la mode. The teff and apples produce a moist crumb, so best to give the cake sufficient time to rest before slicing. If you wish to bake this in a different shaped pan, such as an 8- or 9-inch (20 – 22 cm) square or rectangular baking tray,  reduce baking time to 25 – 30 minutes.

Apple and Teff Cake


3 apples, peeled, cored, and diced

½ cup / 70 g sultanas or raisins

¼ tablespoon cinnamon

½ cup Belgian fruit spread, honey, or sugar-free jam

3 ½ tablespoons / 50 g melted butter

1 cup /140 g teff flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

4 ½ tablespoons / 65 g butter, diced

2 tablespoons honey

1  egg, beaten

¼ cup milk or yogurt

2 tablespoons butter, diced (optional)



Butter a round cake pan, 8 in diameter x 4 in deep / 20 cm diameter x 9 cm deep, and dust the surface evenly with 1 – 2 teaspoons teff flour. Shake off the excess. Preheat oven to 325°F /165°C.

Prepare the fruit: in a bowl, combine the apples, sultanas, fruit spread, cinnamon, and butter. Set aside.

Prepare the dough. In a large bowl, mix well by rubbing with the fingers or in a food processor or mixer the teff, baking powder,  baking soda, salt, vanilla essence, butter, and honey. The resulting mixture will resemble coarse meal. Make a depression in the middle of the dough mixture and mix in gently the egg and milk until completely incorporated.

Mix two-thirds of the apple mixture with the dough and spoon the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Spread the remaining apple mixture on top. Dot with diced butter, if you wish.

Place in the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 45 – 55 minutes, or until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry. Leave the cake inside the turned-off oven with the door ajar, to rest and firm up for 30 to 45 minutes before slicing.

Bon(n) appetit!


Over a kilo of plant foods daily

NACHTIGALLEN FRUITS 25 FEB_3854In their eye-opening book, Perfect Health Diet (PHD), with its radical approach to a greater percentage calorie-wise of fat than carbohydrate or protein, Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet recommend a daily intake of about 1.4 kg (~3 lb) of plant foods and 1/4 to 1/2 kg (1/2 – 1 lb) of animal foods.

That seemed like an awful lot to me.  I began to weigh what I had in the house and was amazed that those pictured above already totalled over 1 kilo (2 lb). The PHD recommended intake is .45 kg (15 oz or almost 1 lb) of fruits per person per day.  I haven’t accounted for the peel or other discarded bits like seeds. (For instance, a 178-gram apple’s stalk and core can weigh 13 grams; for a 175-gram banana, the peel and stalk can equal 56 grams.) I must say though that this attention to meticulous weighing will only be in the beginning, as I certainly don’t see myself obsessively weighing every item as I journey towards health-conscious eating.

I do find it interesting that 5 portions of fruit (the UK-recommended daily allowance) can weigh over half a kilo (1 lb). I realize that not everyone will eat chico (the brown round fruits above, also known as naseberry, sawo, chico zapota, Manilkara zapota )  or other exotic fruit on a regular basis. It just so happens that M and I are always ready to try any food item that is out of the ordinary.  For a more typical year-round fruit, the handful of black grapes above, for instance, weighs about 100 g.  The banana is 126 g, the pear 130 g; half of the grapefruit 185 g; and the chico 61 g.  (Rough equivalents for non-metric readers are 100 g = 3.5 oz; 450 g = 16 oz or 1 lb; 1000 g or 1 kg = 2 lb.)

How am I doing for vegetables then? Those pictured below are  intended for curry for two.


They include 4 pieces of Chinese cabbage (also known as Chinese leaf) 256 g; 1 section of broccoli 138 g; 1 carrot 107 g; 3 stalks spring or green onions 45 g; 1 red pepper 236 g; and a handful of arugula (also called rucola or rocket) 30 g. I also added 8 cherry tomatoes 101 g. In total they came to 913 grams; thus one equal portion would be 456.5 grams, rounded up to 457 grams (roughly 1 lb). In reality, however, I consume much less than one half of any dish I make for M and me.

The total weight of fruits and vegetables above for one person came to 1,140 grams or roughly 2.5 lb. The actual consumed weight is less, as there was enough of the curry left over for my lunch, and to account for wastage during preparation. As for starchy plant foods, my average intake is 165 grams, consisting of 15 grams of rice crackers and 150 g of cooked short-grain rice or boiled potato. So altogether the above combination of plant foods for one person for one day would be 1,305 grams, just under the 1.4 kilos (~3 lb) recommended intake.

I’m quite heartened that I do manage an intake of 1.4 kilos of plant foods on average per day.  If anything, I perhaps eat well over the recommended intake, as I can very quickly gobble up 4 or 5 mandarin oranges at one sitting! Just for reference and then I shall shut up: one mandarin can weigh 100 grams. My objective now is to observe the proportions (calorie-wise, that is) of 55% fat, 30% carbohydrate, and 15% protein. But that’s for another day, dear reader.