Pancake Day!

Today is Shrove Tuesday - or Pancake day in the UK.  I remember us having pancakes at home when I was a kid every Shrove Tuesday. The idea about Shrove Tuesday and pancakes was to use up perishables like eggs and milk before lent began - a time of fasting.  My mum would make pancakes and put lemon juice and sugar on them.  It was always fun to watch her - or try myself, to flip them.


Then we had the Dad making pancakes day one time…can't remember if that was Shrove Tuesday or another day, but sadly, he mistakenly used salt instead of the sugar :-(  Poor Dad.  He was so annoyed with himself. Lovely wafer thin pancakes dredged in salt and lemon!!!


I love pancakes - but in the US pancakes aren't pancakes!  Here you have to talk about crepes if you are meaning pancakes.  In the US, pancakes are small and thick and you don't put anything inside them because you can't fold them so there is no inside!

With this in mind, you may be surprised to see an American pancake recipe here, instead of a crepe!  But it all started with a banana.



We had this banana that just looked so pretty. It's little brown spots were just perfect.  I normally like more of an unripe banana but this one caught my eye and just looked so attractive that I told my hubby I would have it for breakfast the next day and he could start on the new less ripe ones.

And so I woke up to my pretty banana and decided to make banana pancakes!  No flour. No eggs or milk getting used up either…!!


Here's the recipe: Makes 8 (US) pancakes

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground flax
3 tablespoons water
1 banana
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process the cashews in a food processor. (If you want smooth pancakes, process until well ground. I actually like the texture so I just pulsed it a few times.) Add the remaining ingredients and process to combine.

As you will see from the photos, I cooked my pancakes on the simmering plate of the Aga (my cooker) on a non-stick sheet so I didn't need any oil. If you don't have an Aga - you'll need a little coconut oil in a frying pan and then add the batter…cook for a couple of minutes and then flip and continue cooking.


Yes - very vague directions but you've probably cooked more American pancakes than I have!!!

They are sweet from the banana so I didn't drizzle anything on them and added nothing to them. They were just yummy banana pancakes! Perfect for pancake day :-D  They aren't as firm as American pancakes made with flour but I think you'll like their taste.

Vegan, gluten free, no added oil for us Aga owners, no added sugar, grain free, Paleo,……….  AKA yummy squidgy banana pancakes!

Here are the nutrition facts for 4 pancakes (half of the recipe)
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A week of Quince - and its health benefits


This week I've decided I'll focus my blog posts on quince - that wonderful fruit that many people don't even know what it looks like, never mind what it tastes like.  Well, if you are one of those, you are missing out!  It is a great fruit and really is quite simple to prepare.  I'll take you through the stages today and then share some recipes on using the cooked quince throughout the week.  Yes, it is a fruit that needs to be cooked before you can enjoy it.  It is very tough when picked off the tree and too astringent to eat raw.


It's been a wonderful year for my quince tree again - with so many fruit. I've actually been keeping up with them better than before as I've perfected my cooking routine - and I've had a little help from my friends too, who took some to eat.


If you search for quince recipes, I bet every one - apart from those on this blog - will include plenty of sugar.  It seems all quince recipes involve baking the quince in a sugar syrup.  Well, I have to tell- it doesn't need any sugar at all!


How I cook mine is that I take the whole fruit, and use a vegetable peeler to get most of the peel off.



Then a put a few in a roasting dish and add some water and sprinkle some cloves over the top - or else add a couple of chai rooibos tea bags to the water to impart their flavor.


Then I put them in the simmering oven of my aga and let them roast for a few hours.  In fact, I once forgot them and they roasted overnight and were still delicious.

You can also roast them faster in a hotter oven - but as I have my aga - I love the slow roast method - often about 8 hours.


So put it in the oven and leave a note for yourself that they are in there and get on with the day. If you leave the house - you'll be greeted with a wonderful aroma of clove and quince spices as you come back in the door. "Smells like Christmas" as my husband would say - but anything with cloves smells or tastes like Christmas to him! (I try to tell him that cloves are for more than Christmas day!!!)


When they are cooked, just let them cool and then cut off the fruit from the core and either slice or puree in a blender and use in many different ways as I'll show you throughout the week.


And the health benefits of quince?

Quince is a low calorie fruit with good amounts of fiber.  There is a certain grittness in the pulp which comes from the tannins catechin and epicatechin. These are the same chemicals in green tea that contribute to its health benefits. These chemicals bind to cancer-causing toxins and chemicals in the colon and protect the mucous membrane from inflammatory bowel disease, cancers and diverticulitis.

It has many phenolic compounds in it which gives it a unique fragrance.  And has high concentrations of Vitamin C so helps boost immunity, reduce viral episodes and inflammatory conditions.

It is also a good source of copper, iron, potassium and magnesium, along with B vitamins.

So not only does it taste good - it is good for you!


As my friend just told me this week after she tried one of our quince:

"So much better than even the best baked apple I've ever eaten. What a treat, and  a happy discovery"

Get discovering for yourself and I'll share some recipes throughout the week!

It's quince time!

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Gluten Free Oat yogurt

I tried making yoghurt with oats - and it worked! I really like it.

Oat yoghurt in the process

I used whole kernel GF oat groats also known as oat berries,  with some GF rolled oats.   You can find oat kernels in Whole Foods or health food stores, or if you want gluten free ones, Chateau Cream Hill Estates does a gluten free whole kernel oats, which are available for order online from several GF suppliers. Whole kernel oats look a little like brown rice.



I soaked the oats for 8 hours then fermented them on the back of my aga (stove) for 16 hours.  I'm loving it on my oat muesli every morning.  Oats on Oats.  A healthy yogurt! No sugar. No preservatives. Just oats, water and probiotics!

Warming/fermenting on the back of the aga
Want to come round for breakfast and try some?
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Crunchy chickpeas

I made crunchy turmeric chickpeas today.  I'd tried crunchy chickpeas bought from the store and didn't like them, but they seem popular so I thought I'd try making my own and see if they were tastier.

They are!


I used organic chickpeas, rinsed them well and then blotted them dry using kitchen paper.  I took the skins off the chickpeas. I think is probably optional, if you can't be bothered, but it didn't take too long.

Then I sprinkled them with some ginger lemon salt and turmeric.  Mixed them up to coat them, and then put them in the top of the aga for about 35 minutes.  This is equivalent to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.


They came out nice and crunchy and next time I'll be a little more generous with the seasoning - so you can liberally season!

Have you tried them?  They are nice as an easy snack, or sprinkle them on your salad....
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Quince time

Our quince tree has grown a lot this year and has many large quince on it.  Quince is not a fruit that you eat raw so I've been wondering what to do with all these fruit.  There must be at least a hundred quince on the tree!


In previous years I've used the few fruits we got in salads, an upside quince cake, making quince jelly etc.  When you search for quince recipes however, they all tend to involve large amounts of added sugar.  I wanted to avoid this. Also, quince are not easy to cut and prepare as they are very hard when raw.

So, I decided I would just peel them and then cook them in the simmering oven of my aga in water.


They came out beautifully. As they are so large, I could only cook 6 at a time, so did three batches today!  I guess that means I have about 6 days of cooking in total!


After cooking them, I then made them into quincesauce - which is really just like applesauce, but made with quince instead of apples!   I don't add any sweetener at all - and it really doesn't need it. Basically it is pureed cooked quince and delicious.  I love the fact that its not too sweet and can see myself using it in a lot of different dishes.


I used some to make a quince fool today and then made a big batch of quince granola - basically gluten free oats, puffed brown rice and quinoa flakes tossed in quince sauce and baked.

I think I will easily have enough quince sauce to last me the year, that is if I get around to cooking the rest of the quince! Wish me luck or maybe it's stamina I need!


Quince have high levels of fiber, are high in antioxidants and contain a lot of pectin.  They also help with digestion and relieve diarrhea and have been seen to have anti-viral effects.

Let me know if you'd like some.....
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