ORANGE, ALMOND & POLENTA CAKE
Ballarat is renowned for cold days, in the prime of winter we look to foods for comfort and warmth, cups of deliciously hot tea or coffee with something to nibble whilst catching up with friends and family. I have friends and family who have various food intolerances, offering them a baked treat can be fraught with challenges. The issue has become even trickier with the influx of gluten free products in the supermarket aisles, gluten intolerance does seem to be the only intolerance being marketed at the moment. Often when you talk about various intolerances many people assume it's just gluten.
Creating an appetizing treat without using wheat, dairy and sugar has eluded me. I have certainly bought a lot of interesting ingredients in an attempt to bake something with the satisfying taste and texture of wheat, butter and sugar but until now I have had some ordinary results, really not worth sharing. Until Paul arrived on my doorstep with very, very, good cake - orange, almond and polenta cake. It was delicious with a delicate orange flavour, so moist with a sponge like texture. The most amazing thing, in my mind, about this cake - it does not contain sugar, yet it's delicious and definitely hit the spot in regards to a sweet treat with my cup of tea.
Of course I asked for the recipe and I promptly received a copy of Olivia Newton-John's cookbook Livwise, Easy Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Life. It's a wonderful selection of recipes for health and well being. There are lots of vegetarian friendly recipes and several suitable for people with different dietary restrictions. Royalties from the sale of the books go to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne.
The recipe for orange, almond and polenta cake features in this book. Instead of sugar the recipe calls for xylitol, a natural substance that is derived from fruit, vegetables and birch trees, it is also produced naturally in our bodies. It is a chemical free, natural alternative to sugar, available in most health stores. Although I do not have a sugar intolerance I do feel the effect it has on my system, after the initial sugar high I tend to feel headachy and just a bit blah. I do agree with Olivia Newton-John's food philosophy, "The respect for the importance of eating a balanced diet and increasing your intake of plant foods, some raw as well as organic foods where possible."
One of the wonderful things about our local network is sharing ideas and information, as well as food. Thanks Paul. If you have any great recipes that are suitable for those with food intolerances we would love to hear from you. We will also be looking at the various places you can visit in our region that cater for various intolerances. As we learn more about the effects different types of food have on our bodies, I believe we will see a larger variety of food on offer to appeal to a wider range of dietary requirements.