Archive for May 2014 | Monthly archive page

What in the world is Banting?

Banting is a lifestyle dieting technique developed by William Banting and suggested by his doctor, Dr. William Harvey in the mid-1800’s. The lifestyle consisted of avoiding refined sugar, starch, beer, milk and butter. The diet soon became popular, as did the question: do you bant?

The popular Paleo diet (developed by Dr. Loren Cordain) also makes use of the principles of Banting and avoids the consumption of cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods and refined vegetable oils.

This lifestyle diet has been popularised in South Africa by Professor Tim Noakes, which has taken the nutritional world by storm, and turned it on its head. The ‚ÄúNoakes‚ÄĚ diet does however allow the consumption of dairy. The ‚ÄúNoakes‚ÄĚ diet is based on a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet.

So what does that mean for us lovers of baking; who use flour and sugar as our main ingredients? A whole plethora of ‚ÄėPaleo‚Äô/ Banting-baking recipes have been developed to satisfy our¬†collective “sweet tooth”, and allow those of us following this diet a respite from the world of savoury! The internet is a great source of already-developed ‚ÄėPaleo‚Äô recipes, however the ingredients used are quite different from what we‚Äôre used to, but can fulfil the role of wheat flour or¬†sugar in most recipes. Note: Many ‚ÄėPaleo‚Äô/ Banting-baking recipes¬†are not free from or even low in carbohydrates – it seems¬†the main incentive is to enjoy a sweet treat without the guilt of¬†eating grains or refined sugar.

Grain Flour Substitutes

‘Root’¬†flours or¬†nut flours¬†can be used in the¬†place of grain based flours. These alternative flours do not contain the stretchy ‚Äėgluten‚Äô protein, and will not yield the same texture as when using a flour containing gluten (such as wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats). Coconut and almond flour are fibre and protein¬†based flours and will not yield a crisp bake; while tapioca and arrowroot flour are starch based flours (high in carbohydrates), and can be used¬†sparingly to¬†thicken or add a gummier or fluffier texture to bakes.

Banting-baking makes use of raising agents and eggs to give structure and texture to baked goods. Vegetables, fruit, nut butters and healthful oils are also used to create recipes that are tasty and satisfying. These recipes can sometimes produce a denser bake than wheat based recipes, so recipe development is a little trickier.

Grain-Free flours Coconut flour Tapioca/ cassava flour Almond/ Hazelnut flour Arrowroot flour Flaxseed meal Psyllium husk

Coconut flour

Coconut flour is made by grinding dehydrated coconut flakes into a fine flour. Coconut flour is dehydrated and therefore will absorb much of the liquid in a batter. Coconut flour can typically replace wheat flour as¬†1 cup wheat flour¬†: ¬ľ cup of coconut flour. In addition, 1 egg is used for every 30g of coconut flour.

Nut Flour

Blanched almond flour is produced by milling almonds into a fine texture. Almond flour may be used to replace wheat flour at almost a 1:1 ratio. Some adjustments of the liquids/fat may be necessary.

Arrowroot Flour

Arrowroot is made from the dehydrated arrowroot tuber and can easily replace corn starch at a 1:1 ratio.

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour comes from the cassava tuber, which is a sticky root vegetable. It can be used in baking to add a gummy texture.

Flax Seed Meal

Flax seed meal has a nutty ‚Äúwhole wheat‚ÄĚ flavour and exhibits binding properties when mixed with water. Approximately 3 tablespoons of water¬†mixed with¬†1 tablespoon of flax seed meal can (almost) replace an egg in most recipes.

Psyllium husk

Although not a flour, psyllium husks are seed husks and can be used to bind ingredients together and provide structure in a bake. Psyllium husks are an indigestible soluble fibre, and can be used as an egg substitute, by replacing 1 egg with 1 tablespoon psyllium husk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water.

Sugar Substitutes

The following sugar-substitutes¬†syrups are usually¬†found in ‘Paleo’ baking recipes; as they are less refined than sugar and contain remnants of vitamins and¬†minerals¬†that highly refined sugar does not; they also have a lower GI than sugar,¬†meaning they exhibit a lower glycaemic response. Xylitol and Erythritol are¬†polyols and¬†do not contain glucose/ fructose as the syrups listed do; they do however¬†contain calories, although less than that of sugar, and have a low GI rating. We like to use Sweet Nothings xylitol 1:1 in place of sugar. Other common polyols not listed include maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, isomalt¬†(used in candy making).

Refined Sugar Substitutes Honey Xylitol (preferred choice) Maple Syrup Erythritol (preferred choice) Agave Syrup Molasses/ Treacle (cane sugar syrup) Coconut sugar Stevia (preferred choice)

Unsweetened Cocoa powders

Make use of cocoa powders that do not include sugar in the ingredients. We love the Organic Dutch Process Cocoa from CocoáFair (who can be found at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town).

Healthful Oils

A variety of good oils can be used in baking to replace the use of canola/ sunflower oil; such as coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil and olive oil. We love to use Mount Cedar’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We also make use of butter in our baking, as we don’t avoid dairy.

Raising Agents

Often ‚ÄėPaleo‚Äô recipes will call for gluten-free baking powder. This is because baking powders typically contain a starch as an ‘anticaking agent’. However the active ingredients in baking powder are usually baking soda and cream of tartar. To make your own baking powder: 1 tsp. = ¬ľ tsp. baking soda + ¬Ĺ tsp. cream of tartar.

Sweet Treats

When it comes to sweetness, we have a weakness (and that rhymed). Consider a word of caution when consuming the bakes from these recipes that contain grain/ sugar free alternatives Рthese recipes will not be calorie-free / carb-free (since fruit and nuts contain proportions of sugars/starches). Also consider that an excessive consumption of polyols may elicit a laxative effect.

Remember that following this diet is a lifestyle choice as opposed to the strict D-Word (‚Äúdiet‚ÄĚ). So give yourself a little wiggle-room, while you alter your favourite desserts and recipes to become a more healthful indulgence.

Our much loved date balls had to be a recipe that we used to make a great Banting-friendly snack (without the usual Marie/Tennis Biscuits). Although dates are approx. 50% sugar, eating dates does not cause a glycaemic response like sugar; they are actually considered low GI (with a GI rating of approx. 40-50 for dates vs 65 for sugar, and 100 for glucose).  Dates are also rich in minerals such as potassium and iron. Dates can therefore be used to satisfy that sweet craving as part of a balanced Banting lifestyle (without the use of refined sugar).

We used raw almonds and pecan nuts in our date balls, however you could use any nuts you prefer (it adds to the texture when using a mixture of a softer nut with a harder nut).

350g Dates, dried and pitted 130g nuts, roughly chopped Рwe used half pecan, half almonds. 1 Tbs. good quality Cocoa Powder Рwe used Organic Dutch Process Cocoa from CocoáFair 50g Butter 1 Egg, lightly beaten pinch of Salt

Melt the dates and butter in a saucepan until the dates have become soft and gooey, set aside to cool slightly. Add the egg slowly to the mixture and stir (the mixture should be warm, but cool enough to touch without burning your finger, be careful the mixture is not too hot, or the egg will scramble). Mix in the cocoa powder and salt. Mix in the Nuts.

Roll into balls, and coat with coconut/ good quality cocoa powder/ toasted sesame seeds/ gold and silver Nicoletta Shimmer (calorie free). If the balls are approx. 3cm in diameter, the mixture will yield 25 date balls.


Everyone attempting¬†the Banting-type lifestyle, needs something sweet and satisfying during their health kick at some point.¬† This recipe was a revelation,¬†arising¬†during a¬†time of¬†need, while living according to the “Noakes Diet”. The recipe has been altered from one of¬†the greats: Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Don’t be put off by adding¬†the olive oil, it gives the cake a wonderfully moist texture, and does not dominate the¬†flavour in the cake.

The xylitol used to sweeten this cake in place of sugar is a polyol, which contains 40% of the calories of sugar; although it exhibits a much lower glycaemic response than sugar and is considered low GI. It is the only sugar substitute recommended by Patrick Holford, and is on the list of acceptable sugar substitutes in Tim Noakes recipe book ‚ÄúThe Real Meal Revolution‚ÄĚ.

6¬†Tbs. Cocoa Powder (good-quality, unsweetened) –¬†we used Organic Dutch Process Cocoa from Coco√°Fair ¬Ĺ cup boiling Water 1 ¬Ĺ cups Almond Flour 150ml¬†Olive Oil (plus more for greasing) – we used Mount Cedar Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract/ Paste ¬Ĺ tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda 1 pinch of Salt 1 cup Xylitol, powdered¬†– we ‚Äėblitzed‚Äô the xylitol so that it became fine like castor sugar – we used Sweet Nothings Xylitol 3 Eggs

Add the boiling water to your cocoa powder and mix to form a paste. Beat the sugar, olive oil and eggs in an electrical beater for 3 minutes until your mixture is creamy and thick. Mix in the cocoa mixture and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and mix gently into the batter.

Pour the batter into¬†greased 23cm tin (line the base with baking paper)/ silicone cake mould. Bake at 170¬įC for 45 minutes, the cake tester should come¬†out¬†with sticky crumbs attached, but no wet batter. ¬†Allow the cake to cool in its mould. Leave to cool completely before slicing.

We served ours with fresh cream drizzled with our tart berry compote, and fresh raspberries dipped in metallic silver and gold Nicoletta Shimmer / sprayed with silver and gold Nicoletta Graffiti for Cakes

Unsweetened berry compote РWe made a sugarless berry coulis using mixed frozen berries, which we heated and boiled in a saucepan for 30 minutes, till the right sauce consistency was reached.


Banana bread is so rewarding to make with very little¬†effort, and this recipe excludes sugar and grains in keeping with a Banting-style treat. We adapted this recipe from a¬†wonderful Paleo banana bread recipe from the ‘Civilised Caveman’ (a Paleo legend). This recipe uses coconut flour in place of wheat flour, and produces a moist,¬†nutritious and flavourful breakfast treat.

5 Bananas, well ripened (approx. 560g) 4 Eggs 1/2 cup Coconut Flour 1/2 cup Almond butter (or any other nut butter) 50g Butter, melted 1 Tbs. Cinnamon, ground 1 pinch Nutmeg, ground 1 tsp. Salt 1 tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda 1 tsp. Baking Powder 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

In a food processer, blitz the banana, butter, egg and¬†almond butter. Mix together the dry ingredients and add to the banana¬†mixture, blitz till all ingredients are combined.¬† If you prefer a sweeter banana bread, add a Tbs. honey to the batter. Pour the batter into a medium silicone loaf mould/ a greased loaf tin. Bake at 170¬įC for 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before demoulding.

This recipe didn’t even make it to the cake tin, we loved it warm with cream cheese/ mascarpone and slices of fresh banana. Ice your banana bread with cream cheese icing (made using whipped cream cheese and Sweet Nothings xylitol – blitzed to a¬†powder) and dust with Silver / Gold Nicoletta Shimmer or Graffiti for Cakes.