Lemon cheesy roasted vegetables


I served my lemon tamari chickpeas from yesterday's recipe with lemon cheesy roasted veggies for dinner, so I thought I'd share that recipe with you too - even though its so simple, it hardly needs a recipe.


Often times however, people just roast veggies in oil but I love the addition of lemon juice and zest.

Ingredients:
Variety of vegetables cut into small pieces, with tougher veg cut smaller than soft veg - enough for a large baking sheet/pan.
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
Grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Approx 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (heavy sprinkle - but optional)

Preheat oven to 415F. Mix the first 5 ingredients together on a large baking sheet, lined with a non-stick liner (see yesterday's post for my favorite).  Sprinkle heavily with nutritional yeast and gently mix.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes then toss them around, adding another sprinkle of nutritional yeast, and roast for an additional 10-20 minutes.

Serve hot or cold.


The veggies I used were what was on hand: blue potatoes (I love blue potatoes!), red onion, multi-colored carrots, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus, but you can chose your favorites.  Think of a rainbow as you select however, trying to get lots of different colors. You can see from the photos that I got orange, yellow, green, and blue/purple in there, so plenty of color just on one dish.


If you aren't familiar with nutritional yeast, it brings a really cheesy flavor to dishes - so is perfect for those who are dairy free or vegan. It is also a great source of B vitamins so for those who are gluten free and not eating many grains, or anyone who isn't getting many B vitamins, adding nutritional yeast gives a real boost to your B vitamin levels.
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Oatmeal smoothie or my green tinge smoothie

I've been making a new breakfast smoothie lately instead of having oatmeal or muesli.  I'm loving it so I thought I'd share it with you.  While initially it was my "oatmeal smoothie", for the last few days, I've been adding a green tinge to it - not from veggies, but from green tea, so now its my "green tinge" smoothie. Yes, another way to get green tea into my diet when I don't like the taste of green tea!  And just a tinge of green as sometimes, I just don't fancy veggies for my breakfast!


I vary it most days but the basics are:
1/4 cup rolled GF oats
1 cup organic, unsweetened soy milk
1 small banana
1/2 tablespoon matcha green tea
1 tbsp of sun choke or yacon syrup (optional)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed.

Here the reasons for my ingredient selection:
I use soy milk in this, as it has a higher protein level than other non-dairy milks.  While I am definitely not one to say we need a lot of protein in our diets, it is good to have a little in every meal/snack.  Almond milk, which I like a lot, only has 1g protein per cup, whereas soy milk has 9g per cup.  I need about 45g a day so this smoothie provides about 15g in total - a third of my daily needs.


The sunchoke syrup - or as its called above, sunroot sweetener, is a relatively new product on the market and worth a try for its health benefits  It is a prebiotic made from sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes. Prebiotics are functional foods that your "good" gut bacteria thrive on. Basically it is something that we can't digest ourselves, so it passes to the colon and, bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria just eat it up! They thrive and their numbers increase and that helps us thrive.  Yacon syrup is a similar product but made from yacon root ( and is more expensive!).  It is a syrup - even though its only made from sunchokes/yacons, so can be used as a sweetener. I don't think this smoothie needs sweetening actually, but I use it for its prebiotic component.  1 tbsp has 7g of fiber in it. Added to my flaxseed in this smoothie and other ingredients and I'm getting a total of 14g a fiber, just for breakfast.

Our lovely green nectarines are ripe on the tree right now so I've been swapping out the banana for them some mornings, so choose whatever fruit you have ripe right now.  I actually prefer it with the nectarines - but I'm using the ones that fall on the ground so as not to waste the perfect ones. Yes, they are green - outside and in. Not sure what the varietal is but they are wonderful.

What's your morning smoothie right now with all this yummy fruit and veggies in abundance? Share your recipe.
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Red White and Blue 4th July Potato Salad

Wondering what to make that is a little different for your 4th July gathering - try this potato salad. I make it with red white and blue potatoes all the time - but for the 4th July, it is a must to have those colors!


It uses fresh horseradish but if you can't find that, you can use the jars of horseradish but the fresh is best.  Don't be put off by the strong aroma as you grate it - use the full inch - the dish can take it! It's not too hot.

Ingredients:

Approximately 2lbs red, white and blue small potatoes
15 - 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise to reveal the peas
1 large handful of chopped dill

Dressing:
1 inch fresh horseradish, grated
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp walnut or nut butter of your choice

If the potatoes are large, cut into small piece.  Place in a saucepan and cover with hot or cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Test with a small sharp knife - they hold fall off the knife when they are cooked sufficiently.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Combine the tomatoes, peas and dill in a large salad bowl.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients.  When the potatoes have cooled. Add them to the salad bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss to coat.

This is a great prepare ahead salad as it doesn't have wilting greens in it. Its even good the next day.

Have a rainbow colored 4th July in the foods that you eat!

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New favorite cookbook - Oh She Glows

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon
My new favorite cookbook - The Oh She Glows Cookbook - is definitely helping me have 100 happy days.  I'll count it today as my Day 14 of #100happydays - but truly, I could count it for just about everyday.

The cookbook only came out this month and I had pre-ordered.  Its just a lovely book.  It is vegan but I think it has an appeal to everyone. The dishes are delish and will suit all palates.

First off though, it looks like a "proper" cookbook.  So often vegan or  plant based cookbooks aren't so appealing in their layout and design but this one is beautiful with gorgeous photos of every dish.





I started flipping through the pages and adding stickers to the recipes I wanted to try - but quickly ran out of stickers! It would have been easier to mark the couple that didn't appeal to me!

There are more than 100 recipes, 90 of which are gluten free. They are higher in sweeteners and oil than I typically use, but easily adaptable to reducing those levels if you so wish.  There are considerations for other food allergies too, with soy free, grain free, and nut free recipes as well.

I've really enjoyed cooking from the book. We had friends stay the weekend so I made the ultimate nutty granola clusters and they were a huge hit.

Other dishes I have tried include:

  • raw buckwheat breakfast porridge
  • taco fiesta potato crisps - with walnut taco meat
  • chakra caesar salad with nutty herb croutons
  • perfect kale chips
  • lightened-up crispy baked fries

and today I'm giving the "present glo bars" a try.  I'll let you know how they turn out.
Photo credit: Angela Liddon
Walnut, avocado and pear salad with marinated portobello caps and red onion
I highly recommend this book - for vegans, vegetarians, omnivores or whatever.  It'll make you happy.
Here's the link to it on Amazon

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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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Castagnaccio - chestnut cake

I recently taught a couple of classes on managing blood glucose levels.  One of the recipes we cooked together was a Tuscan dish called Castagnaccio. Its a sweet/savory cake made with chestnut flour and no added sugar.


This winter I've actually had a bit of a chestnut obsession, to be honest.  I just love chestnuts and keep finding new ways to use them.  I think I'm just going to have to find space to plant a chestnut tree.


Edible  sweet chestnuts - not to be confused with horse chestnuts, nor water chestnuts, are in the beech tree family.  They are one of the lowest calorie nuts, containing no cholesterol, very little fat (mostly unsaturated) and gluten free.  They have similar carbohydrate content as rice and wheat and are the only nuts to contain vitamin C.  We always think of nuts as being high in fat - but not the chestnut.



I throw them on my salads, add  them to lots of other dishes and now am using chestnut flour in baked goods.  You can also buy them dried and reconstitute them, and pureed, and as "chips" which you can use to make a chestnut type hummus.  See - they are so much more than just a subject of Christmas songs! Get out there and buy a jar of roasted chestnuts - or roast your own, before they are all gone!



Castagnaccio is a little different from what you imagine a cake to be. It is solid with a more unusual texture - and combines the flavors of sweetness from sultanas (golden raisins), with pine nuts and then fresh rosemary.  I love the combination - but I have to say, I haven't tasted anything else quite like it.  I've tried a couple of variations using walnuts instead of the pine nuts and regular raisins or cranberries instead of the sultanas.  And with or without the orange zest. I like them all and its a great portable food that I take with me in the car on my trips to the city.



I've never had Castagnaccio from Tuscany. Have you?  I'd love to know how this recipe compares.....

Anyhow - if you are feeling like something a little different, give it a go:


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chestnut flour (I bought mine online)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 sultanas/golden raisins
1/4 pine nuts
1 large sprig of rosemary
Grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Soak the sultanas in the 1 1/2 cups warm water for approx 5 minutes.  Drain - reserving both the sultanas and the water.
  3. Meanwhile, remove the rosemary leaves from the sprig.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chestnut flour and drained warm water until smooth.
  5. Place the olive oil in a pie dish and place int he oven to just a couple of minutes to warm.
  6. Pour the batter into the pie dish and swirl with a whisk to carefully mix in the oil into the dough.  
  7. Sprinkle on the nuts, orange zest and soaked sultanas.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until the whole surface is dry and a little cracked.
  9. Serve hot, warm or cold.
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Buckwheat Muesli



Did you miss me?  I decided to take January off from blogging as so many other things were going on. Maybe more on that later! ...... But I'm back now - and one year older!! It was my birthday yesterday and I feel just as young as I did on Saturday - so that's good!


It must be the great food I eat :-D


Here's a good breakfast cereal for you to try and see if it keeps you feeling as young as me!


Its made from buckwheat. Little tiny pyramids - as you can see above. Buckwheat isn't actually a grain but rather a seed and is in the same family of plants as rhubarb.  It is a useful crop to grow as it has a short growing period, producing seeds at around 6 weeks which ripen at 10 - 11 weeks. So its great as a fill-in crop, between other crops.


It has reasonably high protein levels (approx 18%) including all the essential amino acids.  It is also rich in iron, zinc and selenium, and rutin.  Rutin is a bioflavonoid that helps strengthen our blood vessels so it particularly useful for varicose veins, hemorrhoids etc and may lower blood pressure.

In this recipe, I've used raw buckwheat.  You can generally buy it either raw or toasted. When it is toasted, it's often called Kasha.  You can also buy it as a flour...and you may have tried it in buckwheat pancakes for an example.



I like the crunch, texture and chew of it in the cereal. You can obviously change up this recipe to use ingredients you like best, so this is just a canvas recipe -that you can adjust to your own particular tastes. For example, I didn't have sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds one time, so subbed 1 cup of walnuts instead.

Hope you'll give it a go:

Ingredients:
120g or 3/4 cup raw buckwheat
90g or 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
70g or 1/2 cup raisins
70g or 1/2 cup sultanas/golden raisins
40g or 1 cup flaked coconut or 40g or 1/2 cup shredded coconut
35g or 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
20g or 1/2 cup puffed unsweetened brown rice
20g or 1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients and you are done! As simple as that.   I don't think it needs any oil or sweetener - just pour some non dairy milk/yoghurt on top and add some fruit, which will sweeten it - and enjoy.

Vegan, free from added sugar, gluten, oil, and good source of omega fats.  Good source of fiber.

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Cherry Walnut squares with chocolate drizzle

In the cooking park of my classes last week, I wanted to make a nice treat that included some omega 3 fatty acids....so I adapted a recipe I got from Dr Fuhrman's latest cookbook " Eat to Live Cookbook".   I definitely recommend the book.  I often use his recipes.



He used equal amounts of walnuts and almonds in his recipe (1 cup of each) , but I tried it just with walnuts.   You get a much higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats if you use all walnuts, but choose for yourself.  Also, I love Montmorency dried cherries, so included those instead of goji berries.

What I love about these squares is that they live in the freezer and you just pull them out as you want one. They don't get too hard so you can eat them straight out of the freezer - or else you could warm them or let them defrost - but I doubt if you can resist it that long!


Its a tasty treat with omega 3 fats, good soluble fiber from oats, anthocyanins and antioxidants from the cherries, along with melatonin to help sleep/circadian rhythm, dates and banana for sweetness instead of refined sugar and just a little drizzle of  good quality chocolate - that makes it feel quite decadent.

Here's my recipe:

1 1/2 cups old fashioned/rolled oats (I used gluten free)
2 cups walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup water
1 banana
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used Eden's Montmorency cherries but any dried fruit/berry will work)
1 ounce >75% cocoa dark chocolate (I used Equal Exchange Panama Extra Dark 80% chocolate)

  • In a blender or processor, blend the oats until they look like flour.  Empty into a mixing bowl.  
  • Repeat with the walnuts, but don't over-process or they will start to release their oils and turn into nut butter.  Add to the bowl with the oat flour.
  • Put the dates and water into a high speed blender and process until it forms a slurry.  Add the banana and continue to blend until smooth and not large pieces of dates are evident.
  • Add the date mixture to the oats and walnuts and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla and cherries.

  • Line a 8 inch square cake pan with foil or parchment - with overhang so you can easily pull the whole thing out.  Put the dough into the pan and spread evenly.  Smooth the top by using a knife or back of a spoon, dipped in water.
  • Place in the freezer for approx 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the chocolate, broken into pieces, in a small bowl, and set over a larger bowl of hot water to melt the chocolate. Take care not to get water into the chocolate.
  • When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the dough from the freezer and lift it out whole on the parchment paper.  Cut the block into 36 small squares ( you can do larger if you like, but you'll find just one small square quite satisfying).  Don't lift them off the parchment - keep them in place.
  • Using the small spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the whole block of the dough in diagonal lines.
  • Return to the freezer, wrapped in the parchment or place in a container and store in the freezer, for a guilt free snack.  

The recipe is gluten free (if you use gluten free rolled oats), oil free, refined sugar free, vegan and tastes like a nice treat.   Health benefits come from the omega 3 fatty acids, the fiber, anthocyanins, cinnamon,  cocoa.......  
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Baked Oatmeal to go

I often hear people tell me that they eat oatmeal some mornings for breakfast but when they are in a rush, they often choose something less healthy and sustaining.  "Why not try baked oatmeal?" I say - so today's recipe is an easy grab and go baked oatmeal.  Make it at the beginning of the week and you have nearly a week's worth!



This recipe was also good timing for me as we leave today to go back to England for a couple of weeks.  I always take my own food on the plane so I have been thinking what to take for my in-the-air breakfast. I figured if  I baked my oatmeal in muffin cases, they would work perfectly!


And voila!  I also used up some of my quince puree too before we leave - but if you don't have quince, you can use unsweetened applesauce instead.  This quince oatmeal to go is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and with no added sugar or fat.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 banana broken/chopped into little pieces
1/8 cup flaxseeds (whole or ground)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs cardamom powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup non dairy milk
1/4 cup quince puree or apple sauce/puree

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spoon into 7 muffin cases in a muffin pan.  Bake at 375F for 35 minutes.

To serve - just grab and enjoy if you are on the go or if you do happen to be at home, you can break one up in a bowl and pour over some extra warm non-dairy milk. Store in the fridge.


(Bet you end up having them not just at breakfast time!!! I've got to make sure I don't eat them all before I fly off.)
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Rosehip, Quince and Clove granola

What a combination: Rosehip, quince and cloves!  It tastes so rich and full in the mouth.  And this granola  - while it has these three great healthy and yummy ingredients - is also happily lacking in 3 not-so-great ingredients - it doesn't have gluten, added oil nor added sugar.

Rosehip, Quince and Clove granola served with
almond milk, pomegranate seeds and homegrown passion fruit

A healthy, spicy, rich granola - perfect for fall and winter.

For this recipe, I took some of the roasted quince that I described in Monday's blog and pureed them in a blender with just a touch of water.



The recipe for the granola is as follows:

2 cups of grains (- I used 1 cup GF rolled oats plus 1 cup of GF unsweetened puffed brown rice)
4 tablespoons rosehip powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup pureed quince

Mix all the ingredients together and then place on a baking sheet or shallow dish.

Bake at 375F for 10 minutes then remove and stir well.  Put back in the oven for another 5 - 10 minutes until dried and starting to go crunchy. You need to keep an eye on at it during this time to check the outside parts aren't over cooking.

Remove from the oven and enjoy for breakfast or a snack.

You can add nuts and dried fruit to this recipe too. Add the nuts before cooking but add the fruit after cooking.


What a great start to the day: Serve it with non dairy milk/yoghurt and we get the fiber and catechins from the quince; more fiber from the oats and brown rice; anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects from the cloves, quince and rose hip; and plenty of vitamin C from the quince and rosehip.



And all that with NO added sugar, oil, salt and no gluten.

You will love the combination of rose hip, quince and clove.  When are you coming over for breakfast?
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Rosehip truffles revisited

I made a second batch of rosehip truffles as we have friends coming around today.  Thursday I posted the recipe - and it was one of the few recipes written by someone else that I didn't tweak and change anything on - as it seemed perfect.



However, today I did do something different and I prefer it - so you may want to give it a try - or not.  I still think both versions are great.

It was just in the dusting part. Instead of mixing the rosehip powder with cocoa powder and dusting the truffles, I just used the rose hip powder.


2 reasons:

  1. I like the color of the rosehip powder showing on the outside. Its a different color - yellowy, orangey, peachy - and will attract people to them, wondering what it is.  It sets you up for it being  a more fruity taste of truffle rather than a rich chocolate truffle
  2. We don't need chocolate or cocoa to be in all our truffles. I like the idea of these being chocolate free and more fruity and spicy instead.
Here's the recipe again in case you missed it:
Makes 20 truffles:

3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup unsulphured dried apricots
4 tbsp ground rose hip powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For Dusting - 2 tbsp rose hip powder

Process the nuts in the food processor to finely chop them.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, (except for the dusting rose hip powder).  Process for approx 1 minute until it forms into a ball and starts to stick together.

Place the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and divide into 1/2 tablespoon balls.  Roll the balls in your hands, compacting the mixture as you roll.

Roll the balls in the dusting mixture and then refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.


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New food of the week: Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi

Continuing from this morning's blog post - my pumpkin gnocchi are delicious.  Who cares if they aren't the same texture as one's you have had before!  They are my first taste and I really like them.


I boiled them in water and then browned them in just a tiny bit of coconut oil with fresh sage from the garden and dried cranberries.

It's lovely to split them with a fork and see the orange pumpkin color peeking through.


And made from garbanzo flour and psyllium husks, they are a wonderful source of fiber.

As I always tell my students - try a new food every week. You never know what is out there that you will really love.  It's worked today, for sure......and yesterday actually with those rose hip truffles....time to make more of those for friends coming around tomorrow.


Have a great weekend and try something new!


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Making Pumpkin Gnoochi - how should it taste?

I'm making pumpkin Gnocchi!  Its fun to make and fast but I do have one problem.



I've never eaten gnocchi before!  So what does it taste like? What should I be looking for in texture?  You see gnocchi is made with wheat flour - even potato ones have wheat in them and as I can't eat gluten, I've never tried them. In England, I've never even seen them on a menu....maybe they are nowadays, but not when I lived there.  Today I've made some with garbanzo bean flour and pumpkin!


They were quick and I loved rolling, cutting and marking them with a fork.

I guess if I like the taste, that is all that matters...but if you have any tips on the texture I should be going for - let me know!  Can't even ask my hubby as he has had potato gnocchi before but hates pumpkin so wouldn't want these!


I'll be cooking them for my lunch with some fresh sage!  I need some sage advice!



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Rose Hip Truffles

I made a fabulous truffle recipe today from Green Kitchen Stories. It was for Rose Hip Chrismas Truffles.  Well, its definitely not Christmas yet but they still seem perfect today!


I ordered some Rose Hip powder from Amazon and was away!

They are delightfully spicy - a real kick to them from the cayenne.  They are sweetened only by the  dried apricots. The rose hip powder has high levels of Vitamin C - they are in fact one the richest sources of Vitamin C available.  They also contain lycopene, flavonoids and are anti-inflammatory. All that in a yummy truffle with a kick!

I only wish I had some rosehips to photograph them with - but alas - only roses as we are too efficient in dead-heading our roses!

Here is the recipe:

Makes about 20 truffles:

3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup unsulphured dried apricots
4 tbsp ground rose hip powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Rolling/Dusting mixture:
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp rose hip powder

Process the nuts in the food processor to finely chop them.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.  Process for approx 1 minute until it forms into a ball and starts to stick together.

Place the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and divide into 1/2 tablespoon balls.  Roll the balls in your hands, compacting the mixture as you roll.

Roll the balls in the dusting mixture and then refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.


Get ready to wake up your taste buds!

I think I'll be using this recipe in my classes next week, and make some when I go back to England in a couple of weeks and.......
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Flowered grainless granola



One of my most popular recipes is my no added sugar or oil, gluten free granola.  There are numerous variations you can made to it with different add-ins etc, so it is nice and versatile, depending on your own taste.  I still make the recipe regularly for myself - often keeping it plain and simple with 3 ingredients - oats, puffed brown rice, and unsweetened apple sauce. Then I just add whatever fruit is in season in our garden and some homemade soy yogurt - and I'm a happy girl!

However, eating grains can sometimes cause issues for people and lead to bloating, gas, pain and other symptoms.  Eliminating grains, refined sugar and dairy can sometimes help in this situation.



The reason behind this is that these food items contain fermentable carbohydrates that can promote overgrowth of bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut.

A plant based diet without grains, dairy and sugar can lead to favorable changes in the quality and quantity of intestinal microflora.  You should talk to your health care provider for more information on this so they can monitor your changes.



So while many of us eat cereal for breakfast,  if you are grain free - it gets tricky!  So today I decided to come up with my own recipe for a grain-free granola.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out. Its made with seeds, nuts and fruit - and dried flowers to make it look pretty and special.  Gluten free, no added sugar or oil. It is also suitable for those on a Paleo diet.  I love the addition of the flowers.  It gives the message that this isn't a hardship granola and you are missing out on grains. It gives something extra - a bonus of pretty flowers so there is no feeling of deprivation.

Here's the recipes:
1/2 cup raw organic almonds - roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw organic walnuts - roughly chopped
1/4 cup raw organic hazelnuts - roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw organic sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
one small pot (4oz) unsweetened, organic applesauce
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 dried edible flowers


  1. Heat the oven to 375 F
  2. Combine the nuts and seeds together and stir in the cinnamon.
  3. Add the applesauce and stir thoroughly until well combined.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and stir well, bringing the edges into the center so they don't burn.
  6. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes  - keeping an eye on it so the edges don't burn.
  7. If crispy and dry - remove from the oven.  If still a bit damp, give it another couple of minutes.
  8. Let cool.
  9. Add the raisins and edible flowers and mix.
This makes a delightful trail mix as well as a granola.

Obviously the recipe is very versatile. You can choose your own combination of seeds and nuts and fruits.  Omit the flowers or use the flowers.  Basically you need one small pot of applesauce for 1 3/4 - 2 cups of nuts/seeds.  If you use more, you'll have to add more applesauce.

If you don't have dried edible flowers, you can use a flower tea blend. There are some lovely ones out there.  So take a look and add some pretty to your breakfast!

But do bear in mind that this recipe is mainly nuts and seeds. While there is no added fat, the nuts and seeds are high in fat.  If you are trying to lose weight, this should be a consideration.  Nuts and seeds are good to having in our diet - but not too many.


It's funny how I used to have granola with milk or yogurt as the add-on.  Since making my own soy yogurt and loving it so much, I now have yogurt with granola as the add-on, that is the yogurt is the predominant factor.  This new flowery granola may switch things back - or maybe it'll even things out now - so I have equal amounts of granola and homemade yogurt!

What your favorite way to eat granola?
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Harvest breakfast

While we sell most of our grapes each year, we do keep a ton for ourselves.  We pick these ourselves with the help from some of our friends and family.  Its a fun day and a lovely experience to be working on the land. After we've harvested the grapes, we sit down outside and share a big harvest breakfast.

I love to prepare food from our produce for the breakfast.  Here's what is on the menu:

All day long oat bites

  • For snacks when people first arrive - to get them ready for work, we made some all day long oat bites. And we will have coffee and orange and tangerine juice to go with them.
  • Then we've made an apple and banana bread.  Naturally we had to try it - and it was tasty - a very moist cake.  It will be served with an almond butter drizzle.
  • I also made some orange marmalade granola and some soy yoghurt yesterday.  I'm going to combine the granola with the yoghurt and some berries to make small breakfast parfaits.  
  • Then there is a fig frittata.  We've had to ration the figs to only 2 each per day for the last couple of days, so that there are plenty to go in the frittata!
  • To get some veggies into us, I'm then trying a hummus and roasted vegetable tart.  Sounds yummy so hoping it'll hold up, being gluten free.
  • And finally - my famous lemon cheesecake - which is free of cheese/dairy!
Apple and banana bread
The frittata has eggs in it (!) otherwise all dishes are vegan, gluten free, and have no refined sugar.

I think it's going to be a good breakfast for our hardworking family and friend crew.

I'll let you know how it all goes.
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Quick and easy bran muffins


These healthy bran muffins probably took 30 minutes from start to eating!  Not bad, I'd say.


They were inspired by a box of rice bran I had in the cupboard and that had been in the cupboard quite a while - unopened.    I was sitting fancying a sweet-ish snack and the idea of a bran muffin came into my head.

Each muffin has more than 6g of fiber in it, is gluten free, dairy free - and there's no added oil.



Here's the recipe if you want to make something quick, easy and healthy.

Makes 6 regular size muffins
3/4 cup bran (I used rice bran)
1/2 cup whole grain flour (I used GF sorghum)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
7 tbs non dairy milk (I used flax milk)
1 small pot of unsweetened organic applesauce (4oz)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic raisins

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Use a silicone muffin tray or muffin baking papers.

In a mixing bowl, mix the bran with flour and baking powder and soda.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

Spoon into the muffin cups and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until a toothpick insert inside one, comes our clean, or when pressing the top of the muffin, it returns its shape.

Cool on a rack - if you aren't tempted to eat them while fresh and warm!


The raisins can be omitted or substituted with nuts or other dried fruit.
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Vegan gluten free scone recipe



In my book club this month, the chosen book was Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I'd never read any Daphne Du Maurier books before but really got into Rebecca and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The person hosting our discussion decided, true to the book, that she would put on an English tea with scones - as Mr and Mrs de Winter had every day at Manderley, in the book.


As I need gluten free food and don't eat animal foods or sugar, I offered to make my own scone - rather than have her make something special for me. I've actually never made gluten free scones before, never mind vegan gluten free scones, so it seemed like a good challenge.

And I've had some success.  I did actually use a little fat in the recipe. Normally I bake without oil but I was changing so many things in a recipe that I left in the fat.

The scones have a wonderful texture to them and taste just like a good scone should.



They didn't rise in the oven however and didn't brown on top as you would expect from a traditional scone but I rolled them thick so they didn't look flat - and the taste more than made up for lack of browning.

I had them with homemade sugar free plum chia jam.  Delicious.

Here's the recipe: Makes 6
150 ml non dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
270g gluten free flour mix
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp vegan margarine (I used earth balance)
25g raisins
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425F or 220C.  Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2. Add the vinegar to the milk and let sit.
3. Sieve the flour into a bowl and stir in the baking powder.
4. Rub in the margarine with your fingers until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in the sugar and raisins.
6. Add nearly all the milk solution and bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough. Don't over work.
7. If necessary add the remaining milk to bind it all together.
8. Roll out gently on a floured board to a thickness of about 1 inch.
9. Cut out the dough with a pastry cutter and place the scones on the baking tray.
10. Reroll the dough scraps as needed to use it all up.
11. Bake the scones for around 20 minutes.
12. Leave to cool and enjoy with sugar free jam and coconut cream, if desired.



They are best eaten the same day that you make them. I will be trying the recipe again, without the fat and will let you know how I get on. I think I'll do savory scones next too.....with some nutritional yeast in them to give a cheesy flavor.

I hope Mrs de Winters would be satisfied and wouldn't return them to the kitchen!  I think she'd enjoy them, like I have!
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Thursday's Food as Medicine group - final class

Yesterday was the final class for my Thursday group.  10 months together.  I'll miss them.


We had  a lovely few hours - covered a lot of things and made some yummy healthy food together.  We ate a rainbow - with no added sugar, salt, or oil - and no dairy or gluten either. I'll share some of the recipes soon.

The photos are after we'd eaten most of the lunch together with only the sugar free chocolate mousse remaining.


Two new classes start in September.....so I only have one group continuing through the summer now.

Time to get planning some new things, I think.

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Food as medicine

It was our final Food as Medicine class today. The class has been going 10 months now.  Its been such fun.


Today, we discussed how to read food labels and what to look for, and then I offered them a system of assessing the food they eat each day, with a goal of getting 100 points a day.

Then we cooked together and on the menu was a pecan pate, bell pepper and tomato soup, dill and horseradish potato salad and chocolate mousse.  It all went down well, and a lovely and colorful, as well as tasty.



It was a lovely few hours - and I'll really miss the Tuesday class.  My Thursday class ends this week too, so the summer will be a little quieter.
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Bell Pepper and tomato soup


This is my new favorite soup!  I love it.  It's smooth and warming with a little kick. Today has been rainy, which is sooooooo unusual for Northern California at this time of year, so I decided to make some soup and feel all warm and cozy.



Here is the recipe:

40g or 1/4 cup red lentils
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped/crushed
5 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped or a can of tomatoes (eg Pomi chopped tomatoes)
2 peppers - one red and one yellow
400g or 1 3/4 cups water or stock
shake or two of cayenne pepper
To serve - hemp and pumpkin seeds

1. Begin by grinding the lentils into a powder/flour, using a coffee grinder or spice grinder. Put to one side.
2. Dry-fry the onion, garlic and peppers in a medium saucepan, until soft (approx 5 - 10 minutes)
3. Add the stock/water, tomatoes, ground lentils and cayenne and simmer for 12 - 15 minutes
4. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
5. Serve sprinkled with hemp and pumpkin seeds.

You can use just red peppers, but I like to use one red and one yellow - just coz they look pretty! They are a good source of Vitamin C and also carotenoids.




The lentils are used like flour, to thicken the soup.  I'd never tried using ground lentils in a recipe - but grinding them first helps you achieve a smooth texture to the soup and they cook quickly.  I can see myself using them to thicken lots of other dishes too.



It's quick and easy to make.  As the soup will be pureed, you don't have to spend a long time on chopping things finely, as the blender will do that.  And the kick of cayenne (to your taste) gets your taste buds dancing!


If you feel like you need to cozy up, give it a try.  A healthy, warming, tasty soup.
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Apricot Chia jam - no added sugar

My parents came to stay with me last week - so I spent one afternoon doing a few things at home with my mum. One of them was making jam.

We made strawberry balsamic chia jam first - using just three ingredients - fresh, yummy, small, local strawberries, chia seeds, and balsamic vinegar. No sugar was used - the strawberries were definitely sweet enough and the chia seeds acted as the gel for the jam.


Delicious.

But then my mum asked how we could adapt the recipe to use apricots - as she loves apricots.  So we had a go, with dried apricots.  It worked well.  Instead of the balsamic vinegar, we used ginger - so apricot and ginger chia jam - with no added sugar!



Basically, we cooked the apricots and ginger in water for about 5 minutes, pureed them in a blender - but still kept some texture, added some chia seeds and simmered for 15 minutes until thickened.  Voila! No added sugar apricot jam!

My mum bought us Shaun the sheep oven gloves during their visit, so they had to come in the photo too!!!


Do you know Shaun the sheep? You should!  He's cool.
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Fennel and coconut tart from Vegetarian Everyday

What an unusual combination - fennel with coconut.  They balance each other out nicely, in fact.  The fennel isn't so overpowering and seems to be calmed by the coconut milk.


The crust is wonderful.  Gluten free and uses brown rice flour and almond flour. No rolling needed, just press it into the tart tin.  It held up perfectly for slicing, came out of the pan easily and tasted good too.



I decided to use my rectangular tart tin. I love the shape of it and it worked perfectly for this recipe.  I think the tart looks quite elegant as a long narrow shape rather than the usual round ones. What do you think?  It served 6 people nicely and the tin is 14 x 4 inches.



I think I'll be making this again. It is made with 2 eggs so I'm going to try it with Vegg next time and see how it turns out.  Have you ever tried Vegg? I bought some but it is still unopened.....
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Overnight oat berry breakfast parfait



While yesterday's OOO-breakfast is yummy - it is quite sweet, even though it has no added sugar - but the sweetness comes from the bananas and mango.  So I made this version of a 'pretty parfait' - OOBBP, using berries instead and changing the oats a little. If you have a sweeter tooth - you can still use this recipe but go for all strawberries - but I like a bit of tartness so added cranberries as well.


Here's the recipe: 3 servings

1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup cranberries (can be frozen)
1 cup gluten free oats
1 cup dairy free milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened organic apple sauce

Puree the strawberries and cranberries together until smooth in a food processor.

Place the oats, chia seeds, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl and stir together.  Add the apple sauce and mix thoroughly.

To assemble the parfait, divide approx. half of the oat mixture between three serving glasses/bowls.  Add a layer of strawberry/cranberry puree using approx. half of the puree.  Add the remainder of the oat mixture to make a third layer, and finally top with the remainder of the strawberry/cranberry mixture.  Top with a sprinkle of oats and chia seeds. I also added a dehydrated apple ring.



Put in the fridge overnight, during which time the oats will soften and thicken.  This will last for 3 days....if you can stop yourself eating them for lunch as well - which is what I did!

Again, this breakfast is giving you a good dose of omega 3 fatty acids from the chia seeds - and I used flax milk as well. I have found a flax milk I really like, called Good Karma Flax milk - only 25 calories  and 1200 mg omega 3 per cup serving.


You can use fresh or frozen fruit for this - and any berries that you like. I think it would be lovely with blackberries and raspberries together.  Or strawberries with cooked rhubarb - yum!

Which do you think is prettier? The mango/banana or the berry parfait?  I'd go with the berry - love that bright red coloring with the neutral colored oats.  
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Brussels Slaw with hazelnuts and dates

I made a lovely coleslaw recipe last week - using brussels sprouts instead of cabbage.  It doesn't taste of brussels sprouts however - and my husband who doesn't like sprouts enjoyed it and then a couple of people in my food as medicine class who don't like sprouts also enjoyed it!


Yeah - a way to enjoy the healthy cruciferous vegetable Brussels Sprouts!

I used a mandoline to slice the sprouts - only slicing until you get to the more solid stalk part, then discarded the real white piece.



Here's the recipe, which I adapted from one at Feasting at home:

2 cups brussels sprouts (approx 1/2 lb)
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped (approx 5 dates)
1/8 cup finely diced red onion
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut nectar or liquid sweetener
1/2 tablespoon walnut butter
Zest of one orange




  1. Finely slice the brussels, beginning at the top of each one and working down to the end, discarding the hard ends.  You can do this by hand or carefully with a mandolin! Place in a bowl.
  2. Slice the pitted dates and add to the brussels
  3. If not roasted, roast the hazelnuts in a dry pan for a few minutes.  Rub off the skins by placing the nuts in a tea towel and rubbing them together.  Place the roasted nuts in a ziploc bag and crush lightly with a rolling pin or back of a spoon.  Add to the brussels, along with the chopped onion and half the zest.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk the vinegar, coconut nectar and walnut butter and pour over the slaw. Mix well.  
  5. Serve in a bowl/plate, garnished with the remaining zest.
The zest of the orange seems to bring all the flavors together in harmony. I first tried it without, but it is far better with it.


It lasts a couple of days in the fridge - if you can stop eating it!

Let me know if you give it a try.  And yes, the correct term is Brussels Sprout - the S goes on the Brussels. They may have originated in Brussels, Belgium, but it is not certain.
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Moroccan carrot dip

We have new friends coming around tonight for nibbles, and then we are all going out to dinner together.  I was hoping I had some basil to make the white bean basil dip, but didn't ...so I made a moroccan carrot dip instead, which I haven't done in a while.



I'm serving it with poppadoms and also slices of apple.

The dip is very simple, and so creamy.  You wouldn't think with carrots as the main ingredient that it would be thick and creamy.  Thanks go to the addition of a few cashew nuts: 1 cup carrots to 1/3 cup cashews. Put everything in the Vitamix and blend.  Carrots, cashews, cinnamon, coriander, cumin,.....gosh its a C-dip!!  Also has some vinegar, fennel seeds and ginger. Oh - and of course my sprinkle of black cumin seeds on top!  They get everywhere nowadays!


Deeeee-lish!
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Crispy Gluten free Flatbread


I made a lovely new flatbread recipe yesterday - with almond flour and flax seed.  I was so pleased with how it came out and the recipe yielded enough to freeze half of it.


I topped it with a pesto sauce with no added oil, some fresh tomatoes, red onion, red pepper and black cumin seeds!  The pesto was made with pumpkin seeds, cilantro, hemp seeds, lime and as I didn't have any spinach, I used some green lettuce!


It was so tasty.  I'll be using this recipe in my Food as Medicine classes next week, so will share it with you after that.



The flatbread is good as a dipping bread too - I can see this being a popular repeat recipe, at least in this household!  Wonder what I'll use as topping next time????
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Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits  vegetables. Yes, it is officially a vegetable, but  I still think of it as a fruit.  I've been looking for it for the past month, but it seems later than I remember this year. Anyhow - I found some this week and so had to make something with it!


I made some chia rhubarb and ginger muffin tops.  Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free.  The chia seeds add some great omega-3 fats to the muffin too.  You'll be seeing more chia, flax and hemp recipes and posts here, as my Food as Medicine classes next week are all about essential fatty acids.



I made these gluten free, using a GF oat flour, but you could easily substitute for a whole grain flour with gluten, such as spelt or wheat or.....  They will probably rise a little more with a flour with gluten too, so if you try them, send me a photo.

Here is the recipe: Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

Ingredients:
3 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups GF oat flour (or whole grain flour)
1/2 cup GF rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut nectar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup finely chopped rhubarb (approx 2 - 3 stalks)
1/3 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
Optional - seeds or nuts or oats to sprinkle for topping



  1. Mix the chia seeds with the water in a jug and set aside while you prepare all the other ingredients
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil spray
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and spices and mix.
  4. In a smaller separate bowl, combine the oil, coconut nectar, orange juice and vanilla extract.  Add the thickened chia seed mix and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the rhubarb and raisins and stir thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups. If using, sprinkle the topping on each muffin. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until springy to the touch.  Cool.



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Homemade Nutella - Hazelnut cocoa spread

Hot on the heels of the latest news this week about 5 tons of Nutella being stolen in Germany - a heist worth $20,710, I made my own last week...but now I think it may not be safe in the kitchen cupboard....Maybe I need to open a safety deposit box to protect it.....

If you give this a go - which you should, as it is so delicious - be sure to keep it in a safe place!!!!!!!

And I hope blogging about a healthy hazelnut cocoa spread recipe isn't considered stealing from Nutella either...but while their recipe has sugar as the first ingredient, plus milk, and palm oil, I think this version is a lot easier on the body.


A few weeks ago you may recall that I made some hazelnut butter...just because I had a few hazelnuts left over. And it got me thinking.......I haven't had Nutella in years.... My biggest Nutella memories come from a trip to Paris many years ago when all I wanted to eat was the Nutella and banana crepes they sold at street vendors.  My husband says he won't ever take me back to Paris again as I won't want to enjoy the fancy restaurants, I'll just want the crepes!

But maybe making my own nutella - a much healthier version - will get me past that and I will get to go to Paris again one day (never mind that the crepes have gluten in so I couldn't eat them now anyhow!).



The recipe was based on one from Chocolate covered Katie. CCK is amazing.  She has just incredible recipes. Here's what I did:

1 cup roasted hazelnuts
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup raw cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut nectar
1/4 cup homemade cashew milk or non diary milk of your choice

If your hazelnuts aren't already roasted, roast them for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Rub them in a tea towel to get most of the skins off.


Blend the nuts in a Vitamix or food processor until they turn into hazelnut butter.  You may need to scrape down the sides as you do this.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth.

Enjoy!  We used it in our dairy alternative class for a recipe and it was a hit with everyone! I'll share that recipe later in the week.
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Hot chocolate chai

I made some more tea-free chai this week and have been enjoying it with warm homemade cashew milk, but today I wanted a little change. And so I made hot chocolate chai.



Basically, raw cacao powder plus the infused chai spices. No sweetener, no milk neither dairy nor non-dairy.  I'm drinking it as I type and its like music, with such a harmony of spices.


I've never been one for hot chocolate drinks - mainly because I don't like hot milky, creamy things - so this suits me fine.  You could always add some non-dairy milk to this however to suit your taste.

But the spices come together so nicely.  There isn't any that is trying to push its way to the front. It really is perfect harmony.

It's not that cloying sweet chocolatey taste either.  I'm finding it very satisfying!

Chai spices infusing
Here is the chai recipe from a previous blog post.  I added 1 tablespoon of cacao powder to 8 ounces of chai spice mix.

Have you tried chocolate chai before?  I remember my first ever experience of chai was a chai chocolate fudge I made!  It's taken me all this time to get back to combining chocolate with chai!.
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Spring Pesto

I made a no-added-oil pesto this week to garnish a parsnip and cauliflower soup.  I felt the pesto acknowledged that it was now spring and lifted the more wintery flavors of the soup into this early April time.


But then I finished the soup and still had some parsley and spinach left, so made some more pesto and found different ways to use it!...... as a dip, on a sandwich, as a dressing, ...

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup baby organic spinach
1/2 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup (packed) flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If necessary, add more water to achieve the consistency you desire. You may have to stop the processor a couple of times to scrape down the sides so that everything is combined.



Enjoy it on a variety of different dishes! The photo above shows it on a sunflower cracker with sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber and black cumin! A tasty lunch.

You won't miss the oil at all!  The taste of the parsley and lemon just excite the taste buds too much to want oil!

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. It is rich in antioxidant flavonoids and is a good source of folic acid.  Chives are a member of the allium family and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral.  They also contain quercetin which helps reduce histamine and so helps with hay fever and seasonal allergies.

Whip yourself up a dose of healthy green pesto and put a spring in your step this spring time! Your body will love you for it.
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Vibrant Quinoa Salad

I made this lovely green quinoa salad for some friends last week, when they visited for lunch.


It is very easy to make and seems so perfect for springtime with the lovely green colors.  It tastes nice and fresh with the lemon juice and mint.

Give it a try and let me know what you think:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup water
4 scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup frozen green garbanzos
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
1/4 cucumber, diced

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve to remove the bitter coating.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. When its cooked, the quinoa should still have a little crunch.  Rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.  Place in a large bowl.
  3. Put the green garbanzo beans and peas in boiling water and cook briefly for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.  Add to the quinoa.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well. Serve.
  5. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Can be made in advance.
You can obviously add whatever vegetables you like to this dish. I like the green garbanzo beans - as they are new in the stores here, so its good to find a nice dish for them...but you could use sugar snaps or edamame or another vegetables instead.  You could also try celery, or green pumpkin seeds or green pistachios.


The dish provides a good protein source and calcium from the quinoa, and plenty of different phytonutrients from the vegetables and lemon.  The cumin is rich in phytoestrogens and may help with osteoporosis and diabetes.
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All-day Long Oatmeal Bites

I have been making these oatmeal bites so frequently over the last couple of weeks...but they are always eaten before I take their photograph, so I haven't blogged about them before today!



Anyhow - they are my current favorite bite. You can eat them any time of the day  - from breakfast through to a snack to a dessert after dinner. I love them. They were inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe. They are sooooo tasty.  I made them for our choir retreat and got lots of comments, and everytime someone tastes them, they want the recipe. They are perfect for a breakfast on the go - or even a dinner on the go, as I've taken a couple to the city with me in the evening, to keep me going!


Anyhow, here is the recipe:

Scant 1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/2 cup cashew nut butter (I use Artisana brand)
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit


Preheat the oven to 350F

1. Mash the applesauce with the cashew butter in a bowl until combined.
2. Add all the other ingredients and stir well.
3. Use a small cookie scoop to shape approx 15 cookies on a lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 14 minutes, until the base is brown.



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Lentil Cottage Pie

One of the dishes I made for the choir retreat this weekend was a lentil pie with potato topping.  It is similar to a cottage or shepherds pie that are popular in England - but is vegan.  I hadn't made it before, but was really pleased with how it came out.  So I thought I'd share the recipe.



The recipe makes enough for 10 people and it can all be prepared the day ahead.  Then you just need to heat it in the oven for 30 minutes, and its ready to serve. Or you can make it in advance and freeze it. The perfect dish for entertaining when you want to not be in the kitchen on the day!

Ingredients:

2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
1 head of celery, chopped
300g/10 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
3 cans cooked green lentils or 500g/1lb dried green lentils
100 ml red wine
500 ml water
3 tbsp tomato puree

Topping - Barries Mash
5 large sweet potatoes
Non dairy milk
Bunch Fresh thyme

Clean the potatoes and bake them in the oven until soft (approx 45 - 60 minutes).

While the potatoes are baking, dry fry the onions, carrots, celery together in a large pan, until soft and golden.  No oil is necessary. If the vegetables start sticking to the pan, add a little water - 1 tablespoon at a time.  Use a lid to keep the moisture in.

Add the mushrooms and cook with the lid on for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the herbs and add either drained and rinsed canned lentils or the dried lentils.   Pour over the wine and stock.  If using canned lentils, cook for 10 minutes.  If using dried lentils, cook for longer, according to package instructions (normally about 30 minutes).

When the lentils are cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the tomato puree, and season to taste.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove and let cool for a while, until you can handle them.  Scrape out the potato flesh from its skin, keeping the skin for the topping.  Mash the potato flesh well, adding non dairy milk until it is the consistency you like for mash.

Chop up the skins of the potato with the leaves from fresh thyme.

The front two smaller versions didn't have potato skins on top
To assemble the pie, put the lentil mixture in a dish. If there is a lot of liquid, don't add it all. You can always have some as a sauce/gravy to serve.  (The amount of liquid will depend on whether you use cooked or dried lentils and how much they absorbed. There should be some liquid but not excessive liquid.) Top with the mashed potato.  Sprinkle the chopped potato skins over the mash.

The dish can be frozen at this time (when cooled). Defrost before baking. To serve, heat the oven to 190C or 375F and bake for 30 minutes. The potato skins will crispen up as it bakes.


The idea of using the potato skins on top of the mash came from an old recipe I used to make from my aga cookbook. It was called Barries mash.  It's a lovely way to add crunch to mash - and in this recipe, is a great alternative to the usual grated cheese put on top to crispen things up. Instead, the skins get crispy and it add a lovely texture.  I'd never done it with sweet potatoes before, but it works well.

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, no added oil.

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Good things come in lemon packages

So here is the dessert I have made for this evening's dinner with friends.  I've called it "Good things come in lemon packages".


It is individual lemon sparkle cheesecakes - dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free along with a couple of pieces of homemade raw lemon chocolate - also dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free.

Both are small in size, but that's all desserts need to be - a little taste.



The raw lemon chocolate is the one I showed in my blog post yesterday - with dehydrated lemon rind.  It is like a bark but I added a little bird motif to the other side - especially suitable this time of year as the birds are all getting busy and thinking about nest building.



Making the cheesecake was an interesting lesson in portion size. I have made it before as a large cheesecake but this time, as I was making it in little pots I made only a 1/3 of the recipe.  One third of the recipe yielded 10 little pots!  That means the full cheesecake would make 30 servings.  At most, we tend to cut a full cheesecake into 12 pieces - not 30.

I tied on little spoons for the pots of lemon sparkle as I am taking these to a friend's house for dinner and didn't want to be stuck with only large spoons that won't fit inside!  And yes, the 'sparkle' in the lemon sparkle cheesecake? There's a little surprise in the cheesecake that gives it a "sparkle"!  Can't tell you what it is as it will ruin the surprise for this evening!



Next time you make a dessert, think about how much we really need. It's great to have a little something sweet at the end of the meal with friends, but we only need a taste.
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Whole Grains Nutrition and Cooking Class

I'm back from vacation.  Had a lovely time.  Quite different - no roads or cars, only burros and boats - so that meant for lots of walking!


Tomorrow and Thursday I'm back at my Food as Medicine groups, with this week focusing on the health benefits of Whole Grains.  We are going to be cooking up some yummy food including:


  • my prize winning marmalade granola 
  • goji berry oatcakes
  • popped amaranth bread
  • supergreen quinoa salad
  • middle eastern oat groats, and
  • birdseed burgers (aka millet burgers!)


I am then taking the groups on a tour of Whole Foods to learn about reading food labels and the best food brands to buy.

Sounds like a busy and fun time!  I'll let you know how it goes and try to remember to take my camera!
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Health Benefits of Oats

Oats are now quite famous for their health benefits and have grown in popularity.


Unlike other grains, although oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ which allows them to remain a concentrated source of fiber and nutrients.  Different types of processing techniques are used to produce different oat products.

  • oat groats - this week I've been trying recipes using whole kernel oats - also called oat groats or oat berries.  They look similar to a grain of brown rice (see photo below).
  • steel cut oats - produced by running oat groats through steel blades to slice them , creating a denser chewier texture.
  • old fashioned rolled oats - these oats are steamed and then rolled to have a flatter shape.
  • quick cook oats - similar to old fashioned but these are steamed and then cut finely and then rolled.
  • instant oatmeal - these oats are partially cooked rather than just steamed and then rolled very thinly.  Often salt, sugar or other ingredients is added.
  • oat bran - the outer layer of the grain.
  • oat flour - made from the hulled oats.
Oat groats/oat berries
Oats are a very good source of the minerals manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. They are also a good source of magnesium and iron and heart protective polyunsaturated fats.  Oats have more than three times as much magnesium as calcium and are a good source of vitamin B1 and soluble dietary fiber.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats

Oat bran's dietary fiber is high in beta-glucans, which helps to lower cholesterol by binding bile acids and removing them from the body via feces.  In individuals with high cholesterol (above 220mg/dl) the consumption of 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (1 bowl for breakfast) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8 - 23 %.  This is highly significant as with every 1 percent drop in cholesterol, there is a 2 percent decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.  


The polyunsaturated fats in oats actually contribute as much to its cholesterol lowering effects as the fiber does.

Oats also have beneficial effects on blood sugar as well so are a good food for diabetics to consume.

Oats are also good for the skin.  Four tablespoons tied into a muslin bag, soaked in the bath and used as a sponge are healing and soothing for dry skin, eczema and psoriasis.  This amount is enough for 4 or 5 baths.  You can also buy oat based creams and ointments for topical applications.


There are many different ways to prepare oats.  Yesterday I shared my recipe for oatcakes made from rolled oats. Last week, I shared my prize winning marmalade granola recipe with you.  I also frequently make a simple muesli from :

2 cups of old fashioned oats, 
4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed, 
handful of raisins.  
Mix the ingredients together in an air tight container and use 1/2 cup per serving, with non-dairy milk or yoghurt and fruit and nuts.


I'll be sharing some recipes using whole kernel oats soon.  If you do have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, make sure you purchase gluten free oats. 
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Gluten Free Currant Oatcakes

I've been making oatcakes for a while now.  I just love oats and this week, I've been cooking with whole oats - or oat groats or oat berries...whichever term you use.


But before I share the whole oat recipes, I thought I'd share my oatcake recipe.  It makes a lovely cracker or snack to eat on its own, or to dip into something or to spread something on. Most of the time I eat them on their own.

Previously I've made them with 1 tbsp coconut oil, but today I decided to do a no-added oil version and replaced the coconut oil with 1 tbsp of applesauce. I don't actually taste any difference or see any difference in texture or structure without the oil, so it works well.


You can add whatever dried fruit you like to them - today I used dried currants, but I particularly like dried cranberries in them, or you can use nuts instead or just omit it and make them plain.  Such flexibility! And this time I also added some ground flaxseeds too, for added fiber.

So here is the recipe - in one version - for you to play with and enjoy:


Gluten free oatcakes - makes 14 oatcakes

225g gluten free old fashioned rolled oats (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
25g dried currants (1/8 cup)
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
150 ml warm water (3/4 cup)

Heat the oven to 350F/180C.

Put the oats, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the currants and flaxseed.

In a separate bowl or jug, mix the warm water with the applesauce.

Make a well in the center of the oat mixture and pour in the liquid. Mix, until it comes together.  It will seem wet to start with but the oats will absorb the water to give a dough.




Lightly dust the work surface with gluten free flour or ground up oats. Tip out the dough and roll to approx 5mm thick.  Use a small cutter to cut out the oatcakes.  Re roll any trimmings and continue to cut out oatcakes until all the dough it used.  (Cut oatcakes can be frozen, uncooked for up to a month. Freeze flat before packing in bags).






Place the oatcakes on lined baking sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes, turning the oatcakes every 5 - 6 minutes or so, to stop them from steaming and going soggy.

Cool and enjoy!  Let me know if you make them.


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Food as Medicine Group - Beans

My two "Food as Medicine" classes this week are focusing on the health benefits of beans/legumes/lentils.

Here are a couple of photos of two of the dessert items we will be making together.


I'll share some of the recipes later.  Both of these are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

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And the winner is..... ME!!!!

I won the Attune Foods Gluten Free healthy recipe competition!!!

I entered a few months ago - on a whim, and didn't think much about it until last week when I got an email and phone call saying I had won the competition!

The idea of the competition was to come up with a healthy recipe using one of Attune Foods cereals.  I used their Erewhon Crispy brown rice cereal and made a marmalade granola.

The announcement just came today on Attune Foods blog:




And my prize was just delivered to my door a couple of minutes ago!  An 11-piece Circulon Symmetry Saucepan set and enough brown rice cereal to last probably the whole year!

Here's the winning recipe - I hope you like it.


GF Marmalade Granola

Ingredients:

1 cup Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice GF Cereal
1 cup GF old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup no added sugar marmalade
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
Grated zest half a lemon or orange

Directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. Mix the 5 ingredients together in a bowl
  3. Place the mixture on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper or silpat
  4. Place in the oven.  Remove after 10 minutes and stir thoroughly.
  5. Put back in the oven and cook for another 5 - 10 minutes, watching to make sure the cereal at teh edges of the sheet doesn't overcook.
  6. Leave to cool, and enjoy!
Here are some suggestions for no-sugar-added marmalades:



I have friends coming up for the weekend, so I will make some for them.

It's much lower in sugar than regular granola and also no added fat, which most granolas contain.  The brown rice and oats provide good fiber, protein and help with blood glucose control and cholesterol levels.

What a way to start your day!  Add some berries and some non-dairy milk and you'll stay satisfied until lunch time :-d

Let me know if you try it.

Yeah! It's always fun to win something :-D

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Chickpea crepes (and upgraded Moroccan Bean Stew)

As I said a couple of days ago, I made a yummy Moroccan bean stew this week - enough for a few meals.

Reheating it, I've added a few other ingredients - which has bulked it out a little so it's gone further, and also improved the flavor, I think.


First of all I added a bunch of kale, fresh from the garden.  Yummy. Tastes even better because you feel all that green is good for you!

And for my last bowl, I've added a handful of currants. I loved the sweetness as part of the spice mix, and wanted to build on that a little, so the currants did the trick.  Not too sweet, like I think raisins could have been, but the currants lift the flavor nicely.


These photos also show my chickpea crepes I made to go with it.  I tried using the batter to make small blinis, but they tasted heavily of "bean" so I wasn't that keen on them.  But the thin crepes don't taste beany at all - so could go with sweet or savory accompaniments.

Here is the chickpea crepe recipe: Makes 6 crepes.
150g chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
1 egg or egg replacement
200ml water

I made the crepes on my aga, so put a non-stick sheet directly on the simmering plate (no frying pan needed) and poured the batter on there, so I didn't need any oil.  I love making pancakes, crepes etc on the aga, directly on the plate!

But if you don't have an aga :-(, heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan.  Add some batter and swirl it around the pan to spread it out into a circle and cook on medium heat until the edge start turning golden (~1minute).  Flip it over and cook for another minute.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.

These will make nice wraps too - quite flexible and strong enough to place lots of vegetables in them.

Do you change your meals throughout the week when you make a big pot of something? What sort of things do you add?
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Moroccan bean stew

Chilly nights mean a desire to cozy up with some yummy comfort food.



As I mentioned yesterday, I cooked some garbanzo beans and so used them in a Moroccan bean stew.  As well as the garbanzo beans there are black beans, red lentils and sweet potatoes plus a host of veggies and spices.


It is the combination of spices that brings this dish alive. Ten different herbs and spices to be precise!  They have a lovely sweetness to them. Its a great synergistic effect.

This makes for a really healthy dish including:

  • excellent fiber levels from the beans and lentils
  • very high antioxidant levels from the spices and beans and lentils too
  • plenty of protein from the beans and potatoes
  • good beta carotene from the sweet potatoes
  • anti-inflammatory activity from the Quercetin in the garlic and onion, and the turmeric and fresh ginger
  • anti-cancer activity from the garlic and onion and spices
  • blood sugar control from the cinnamon
  • selenium from the garlic
  • free from added fat, and gluten too - low allergy and vegan.
I made a big pot of it, so it'll keep me going through the week.  Let me know if I can bring you a bowl!  

The recipe comes from Dreena Burton's book "Let them eat vegan".   Moroccan Bean stew recipe.  It has to be the book I use most often of all my recipe books - and you wouldn't believe how many I have! 

I'll be making it again next week in my Food as Medicine class where we are focusing on the health benefits of legumes.

Hope you are cozy tonight.  Take care. 
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Festive Cranberry Vegan Tart

After yesterday's spice cake recipe from Christmas, I thought I'd show you the tasty tart I made for my Christmas dinner.  It was made from chickpeas, walnuts, oats, cranberries, spinach....etc



The recipe was from the lovely book Let them eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton.

I made it as 3 little individual tarts instead of one large tart, and then froze some of the filling to have without a pie crust.


The only other changes I made to the recipe were to omit the olive oil, make a gluten free pie crust, and then also added some fresh cranberries to mine, to boost the lovely color.


I made them again when friends came for dinner between Christmas and New Year. The non-vegans/vegetarians loved them too.  I was very happy with them.

What did you have for your special holiday meal?
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Spice Cake

For Christmas Day, I made myself a spice cake instead of having a rich Christmas pudding or cake.  I've made it since too - as I really like the recipe.  It's only small so you don't end up eating it every day for a week as desserts are meant to be treats!

It's gluten free (using GF oat flour), has no refined sugar (using low glycemic load coconut nectar instead), fat free (using applesauce instead), dairy free (using homemade almond milk instead) and full of lovely anti-oxidant spices.

I made it in a small half dome cake tin - so it looked a little like an English Christmas pudding.  You can, of course, add frosting/icing - but I like the spices so don't add anything.

If you don't have a half dome tin, bake it in muffin tins or a small square tin.

It was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe for Egg Nog Spice cake.


Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup GF oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
2 tablespoons almond milk or other nut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup organic raisins

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients, then pour the dry into the wet.
Stir until just combined, then pour in your selected baking tin.
Cook at 350 F for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the tin.
Remove, let cool if you can - and enjoy.

You'll also enjoy the lovely smell it gives to your home.
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Melted Snowman Dessert

I made some little melted snowmen in honor of it not snowing here!

I really like surprises...so this recipe appeals to me in that you serve up a little jar.....


....... and then open it up to find the melted snowman inside




Get it? The two raisins are his eyes, his carrot nose and currants as his buttons....!

Of course you can be elegant and serve this in a shot glass instead



The dessert is a hazelnut cream.  It's rich and full of flavor - which is why you only need a small amount.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/8 cup coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
1 cup non dairy milk ( I used homemade hazelnut milk)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 cinnamon stick
(Optional for snowman - 2 raisins, 3 currants, orange sprinkle or carrot triangle)

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a 350F oven for approx 5 minutes until golden and fragrance.  Transfer them onto to a kitchen towel and rub them in the towel to remove most of their skin.  Let them cool.  (If serving in  a glass, finely chop 1/2 tablespoon for garnish).
  2. Place the remaining skinned hazelnuts, sugar, and lemon zest in a food processor until finely ground into a paste.
  3. Combine the hazelnut mixture with the milk, vanilla seeds, cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil the reduce the temperature and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken.  Remove the cinnamon stick.
  4. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into small jars and decorate or into shot glasses and sprinkle on chopped hazelnuts.  
  6. Can be served warm, room temperature or chilled.
Don't feel bad eating the snowman...he had melted anyhow ;-D
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Salt and Pepper Quinoa crackers

I made myself some yummy crackers this morning.  I used a recipe from Jennifer Katzinger's book "Gluten Free and Vegan Holiday".

I've made these salt and pepper quinoa crackers a few times and just love that salt and pepper flavor. I'm a big fan of pepper - but use very little salt so I reduced the amount of salt somewhat.

Don't you just love my salt and pepper bunnies!
It's very easy - just quinoa flour, coconut oil, water, baking soda, salt and pepper.

When it comes to rolling the dough out, Jennifer suggests cutting shapes and lifting them onto the baking sheet. However, I find the dough too soft for that. So I roll it straight onto parchment paper, cut to the size of the baking sheet. When rolled, I then cut into lengths, but don't move them.  They cook all together and come out perfect every time.

Here's the recipe.

I also made some lentil pate to go with them. I'll share that with you soon.
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Bookclub Xmas luncheon

It was our book club Xmas luncheon today.

Always a lovely day :-D

We choose our books for next year and what month we want to host, we have a Yankee swap where we each give a book, and then we have a yummy potluck lunch together with champagne and wine.


I took dessert and made a sugar free, dairy free and gluten free lemon cheesecake.  I was wondering this morning how to decorate it, so I decided on making some raw sugar free chocolate to go on top.  I had a lovely Christmas tree and reindeer chocolate transfer sheet so I put half of the raw chocolate on the sheet, then broke it into large piece and placed on the cheesecake.


This time I used "sweet freedom" as the sweetener for the chocolate.  It is a brand I bought in England. It is a natural sweetener made from apples and grapes. It worked wonderfully with the chocolate and was much easier to combine than the sticky coconut nectar. I'll be using it again!  If you live in England - give it a try.  It's great.


The rest of the chocolate I made my favorite strawberry and pink peppercorn flavor in little triangles.


It was a lovely day and I'm looking forward to all our book choices for next year.

Do you have any books you plan on reading next year?
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Food as Medicine Group

In my "food as medicine" groups this week - Tuesday and Thursday - we discussed the effects of sugar in our diet, sugar substitutions, insulin resistance, diabetes, glycemic index, glycemic load etc.

(Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, grain free) walnut roulade with pomegranates
For the cooking part of the class we learned how to bake desserts with low glycemic load foods, for those special occasions when we have treats.  Even when desserts are made healthier, they are still foods you shouldn't eat every day...but when an occasion arises, it's nice to eat something that is made from nutritious food.

The groups made some delicious food including a walnut and pomegranate roulade, a cranberry and pear tart, choux puffs and individual citrus and chocolate cakes.  They looked so beautiful too.

(Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free) Cranberry and Pear Tart

They were good sessions and people seemed to enjoyed the end result!  I wonder what they'll make again at home for Christmas and friends and family.

(Fat free, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free) Individual Citrus Cake

All the dishes were gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free.  In addition,
  • the walnut roulade had no flour in it - only walnuts 
  • the cranberry tart also had no flour, and used almonds and walnuts instead, it used flaxseeds as an alternative to eggs, and used dates as its sweetener
  • the citrus cake used oat flour and replaced fat with applesauce
  • the choux buns used sorghum flour and coconut milk for their cream

Which one would you chose?
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Strawberry and pink peppercorn raw chocolate

I've been making raw chocolate today.  Yes, chocolate that has health benefits and is refined sugar free, dairy free and gluten free!

The recipe needs a little tweaking still, but the taste is wonderful.  I don't think reworking the recipe will be too much of a hardship!



You may recall at the gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free dessert class I taught a couple of months ago, I did dried strawberry and pink peppercorn cookies. I just love the combination so tried that as one of my raw chocolate flavors.

It is yummy. I used coconut nectar as the sweetener and it didn't combine completely with the chocolate so I'll try reducing it a little next time....maybe tomorrow!


I love this new mold I bought in England. It make a perfect sized bite...4cm x 2.5 cm. And the chocolate tempered well, with a lovely glossy sheen.

I'm hoping the recipe will be good for my Food as Medicine classes next week.....

Watch out - strawberry and pink peppercorn will be a flavor combination popping up everywhere soon. Remember you heard it here first! :-D

What's your favorite flavor?
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Starry, starry delights....

Santa has been busy preparing a few healthy edible gifts for the holiday season.


But I hope you'll be nice Santa, and won't make us wait to see what is inside.  Go on Santa, open up the tin.....

Look at his delight!  Inside are starry, starry delights!


They are healthy squares, decorated with edible gold stars ******


Here's the simple recipe - Oat, walnut, and raisin starry delights:

1/3 cup GF oat flour (or use GF rolled oats and process in a food processor until a flour consistency)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles - eg edible gold stars

If using rolled oats, make them into flour first in the food processor.

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and process thoroughly. To begin with, it won't look like it will ever come together, but keep processing and eventually it'll form a ball in the processor.  Timing will very depending on the power of your processor will be at least 2 minutes.
Remove from the processor and flatten on parchment paper. Use a rolling pin and roll into a square or rectangle.  Cut into squares with a sharp knife.  This will yield approximately 16 x 1 inch squares.  Decorate or leave plain. Store in the refrigerator.

Arrange in a small tin or box for gifting or enjoy for yourself.


They can last 2 weeks in the fridge or can be frozen.

Gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.  You can cut them into bars for larger snacks/cookies or roll them into balls if you prefer.
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Anniversary cake for two - chocolate and ginger

It's our wedding anniversary today so I made a cake for two (it could even be for one, but not today!). Seventeen wonderful years together.

It's only 2 inches diameter by 2 inches high.  A perfect little celebratory cake.



So often one of the issues with eating desserts is that they feed a few and then you still have left overs.  Thus you don't just eat dessert one night as a treat, but you keep eating it to finish it off.  I'm quite taken with the idea of creating desserts for 1 or 2 people so you eat it in one sitting, for an occasion, and then that's your treat done.  Making desserts without eggs means its much easier to make smaller versions as you don't have to try to halve eggs etc.

This cake is chocolate and ginger.  I was inspired by the small cake idea from this German Chocolate Cake for One.   I used Katie's recipe, using a gluten free flour blend, coconut palm sugar instead of sugar and ginger extract instead of vanilla extract.  I baked it in the microwave but I think next time I'll use the oven. I'm not a keen microwave user.  I made a different icing/frosting using coconut cream and walnut butter.


The whole cake is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. The sweetener I used throughout was coconut palm sugar, including grinding up the sugar to make a powdered version for the frosting.

It's yummy and cute!  And the icing/frosting is something I will definitely be using frequently.  It's delicious and thick and creamy and fluffy and just wonderful.  I'll be trying some different flavorings in it too - thinking it would go well in my cream puffs.....  I'll definitely be using it in my "food as medicine" classes next week.  It lasts a while in the fridge too and doesn't deflate.  A great dairy free whipped topping.

So this cake is for you, hubby dear. Happy anniversary xxxxxx.  Nearly as cute as you :-D
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Travel Snacks - Ginger cashews

Following on from yesterday's Sweetsalt crunch recipe for my airplane snack - today I finished dehydrating some ginger cashews.


Here is the recipe:

2 cups of whole cashews - soaked in water for 1 hour then rinsed and drained
1/4 cup powdered and ground coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence/extract
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the ingredients together then dehydrate at 118 degrees F for 6-8 hours.

I actually soaked my cashew for about 4 hours and then it took ages to dehydrate them to a crunchy texture again, so I'd recommend a brief soak and then the dehydrating doesn't take so long. The idea of the soak is so that the moisture in the nuts enables the other ingredients to stick to the cashew.

I love everything ginger, so couldn't help but enjoy these.  But it is interesting to have the vanilla flavor along with the ginger and like the sweetsalt crunch - a combination of sweet and savory.  The vanilla is actually a more predominant flavor than the ginger, so I may add more ginger next time.


You can picture me on the plane, flying for hours, nibbling away at my snacks!!!!  I won't be able to sleep for my perky taste buds!
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Travel snacks - Sweetsalt Crunch

I leave for England on Wednesday - two weeks, visiting family - and lots to catch up on.  We have three new homes that family members have moved into since we were last there in February, so will enjoy seeing happy people in happy new homes....then there is my sister's 50th birthday to celebrate.....and then there are two adorable grandchildren to see and be amazed at how much they have changed since June!  Never mind catching up with a few friends too......

Here is Evelina learning the difference between penguins and ducks, and Max dressed in his tuxedo ready for a party:


To prepare for the flight, I'm making a few yummy snacks.  After bad experiences with airplane food when I'd ordered gluten free and they forgot it, I always take all my own food with me.

The first yummy snack I made today was a sweet and salty mix - my "Sweetsalt Crunch". However, at this rate, I may need to make another batch before Wednesday, as it is going down rather rapidly!

It's a lovely balance of sweetness and salty. Not too much of either. And gluten free, sugar free and dairy free. Here's the recipe:


Sweet Salt Crunch

1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!

Obviously you can use substitutes very easily....and I know I'll never make it the same way more than once!


Another travel snack is in the dehydrator ...so I'll show you that tomorrow.
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Tastiest food of the week - Chai fudge

I've never had anything "chai" before.....mainly because Chai normally has something to do with  tea and dairy milk - neither of which I like!!! But when I read a recipe for chai fudge it sounded so good with all those spices in it, that I had to give it a try.  It was a friend's birthday so it seemed like a good reason to make a treat for her.


The fudge is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free - and raw, so keeps those wonderful nutrients of the raw cacao bean.  There is homemade almond milk in it, plus cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  It really is the spices that make it, oh, and the chocolate!!!

It was a little bit squishier than you would normally think of for fudge and in fact it turned out to be a lovely thick dipping fudge for some dried apples I had...but for my friend's birthday, I rolled it in crushed pecans so you could eat it without getting your fingers dirty!


The texture is divine!  So smooth and creamy yet light and kind of fluffy in a way.... I wish you could try some!

Then when I had a friend over for dinner this week, I used the same fudge inside some gluten free profiteroles I made!

I will have to experiment more with this combination of chocolate and spices.  Definitely my tastiest food of the week!...maybe month.....maybe.....
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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 breakfast parfait

So have you been out buying up quince this week?  If you live in Northern California - just give me a call and you can have some of mine.


As I mentioned earlier in the week, I made a quince granola by baking gluten free rolled oats, quinoa flakes and puffed brown rice with quince sauce (puree). I also added some cinnamon and allspice to it. It created a nice crispy, no added oil nor refined sugar, gluten free cereal.  So I decided to use it to make a breakfast parfait this morning, layering the granola with spoonfuls of quince puree.


It looked pretty and instead of my usual throw together breakfast, it felt like I had paid attention and seemed like a treat.  If tasted yummy too with a nice contrast of the smooth puree with the crunchy granola.  I like the color of the quince too.  I know most recipes will say quince turns pink, but that seems to only occur if you add sugar.  Personally, I like it's unsweetened custardy yellow color.

So did your breakfast look this good?
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Ceres gluten free, sugar free, dairy free dessert class

Saturday's "blissful celebrations" class was great! We made 4 different desserts plus a caramel sauce all of which were gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.



 We made:
  •  a lemon cheescake - the base was just almonds and dates and the filling was based on cashew nuts
  • profiterole puffs made from choux pastry and filled with a coffee creme patisserie
  • strawberry and pink peppercorn quinoa cookies
  • chestnut roulade filled with coconut milk "cream" and pomegranate.



There was a lot to cook (and eat!), in a limited time span with lots of new techniques, but everyone did a great job.


Hope you enjoy the photos of the class :-D  Thanks to all who came and especially to Kendra and Alysha who volunteered to help me.
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Tastiest food of the week - strawberry and pink peppercorn

My tastiest food of the week this week was a cookie I made combining freeze dried strawberries with pink peppercorns.  I made two version and my favorite was the shortbread one.  Both versions were gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free.

Strawberry and pink peppercorn shortbreads (GF, DF, SF)
My sister had sent me some freeze dried strawberries as she thought I might like them. The plan was, actually, that she'd bring them to Florida with her this summer when we met up on vacation (she lives in the UK) and give them to me there.  Dutifully, we brought the strawberries all the way from the UK to the US, then forgot to give them to me, so took them all the way home again, and then mailed them!

So while the carbon footprint of these dried strawberries wasn't particularly good - their taste was. Unlike most freeze dried fruit, these were still a little chewy and not just dry.   But combining them with pink peppercorns was amazing.

Strawberry and pink peppercorn quinoa cookies (GF, SF, DF)

I used the combination in a recipe for my cooking class this weekend and people were reluctant! Those making the cookies didn't want to add them....others were talking about making them without, but when they tasted them, everyone agreed, it was a great combo!

So give it a try.  They work well with other pink fruits too, like dried cranberries, or raspberries.... Pink peppercorns aren't strong, and the combo just works well.
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Gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free dessert cooking class

Tomorrow is my GF, SF, DF "blissful celebrations" dessert cooking class at Ceres in Sebastopol.


We will be making and tasting:

Lemon (un-)cheesecake



Coffee choux puffs



Pear cake and 
Chestnut roulade.


There is still time to sign up. It's a hands on class with lots to learn.  Come join us!

And as a bonus, if we have enough time, I'll teach you have to make a "march of the penguins", perfect to adorn any winter dessert - but no one will ever eat them!!



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Healing Trees recipe

The Cancer Journey conference at Ceres on Sunday seemed to go very well. They sold out and I had some great interactions with people in the resource room.




I demo'd making my "healing tree" morsels, and share the recipe with you here:

Ingredients
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon Matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1//2 tablespoons date paste *
Zest of 1 lemon
Grated fresh ginger (approx 1 inch)
15 whole raw organic almonds

Directions
[*Make the date paste first - you will only use a small portion of this.  Process 10 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons of water. This makes a thick paste that is a great substitute for refined sugar.]

  1. Place all the ingredients except the whole almonds in a food processor and process until smooth.  This matcha mixture should hold together when squeezed but not be too sticky. If it won't hold, process longer, or add 1/2 tablespoon more of date paste.  If too sticky, add a little more almond flour.
  2. Cut the whole almonds in half, width ways.
  3. Take approx 1 teaspoon of match mixture and shape it into your hands to form a cone shape
  4. Stand up half an almond on it's cut side and gently push the matcha cone onto the almond, so that it looks like a tree.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the matcha mixture and almond halves to create your own forest of healing trees.
  6. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or else the matcha mixture can frozen before shaping.

The healing qualities of these trees come from:
the green tea has excellent anti-cancer properties and is high in anti-oxidants;
the ginger and dates settle the stomach and help with digestion;
the lemon is a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals;
the almonds are a good source of easily digestible fiber, vitamins and minerals;
and finally the cute shape of the trees lifts your spirits!

These are lovely to make for yourself, but make a great gift for someone who needs some healing.
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Marmalade Granola

You may recall that I made a gluten free granola a few months ago, that had no refined sugar or add oil in it.  It was plain in flavor, which is nice when you want to change your additions each morning for breakfast.

With 3 fig trees all full of ripe fruit, you can bet I add figs to my marmalade granola breakfast!
However, this week I made a flavored granola that I am just loving.  It's marmalade flavor, made with "no sugar added" marmalade.  There are a variety of marmalades and jams available nowadays that don't use refined sugar but instead utilize just the sweetness of fruit as their sweetener.  Be careful however, some utilize artificial sweeteners instead, which aren't good for you.

My favorite is an Italian organic citrus fruit "spread".  It's by Alce Nero and contains only orange peel and pulp,  apple puree and lemons.


Here is the recipe to make gluten free, no oil added, no refined sugar marmalade granola:


1 cup GF old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened puffed brown rice
1/4 cup Alce nero Citrus fruit spread

Mix the ingredients together and spread on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Place in the oven at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Stir and replace in the oven for an additional 5 - 10 minutes, but check frequently as it can quickly go from golden brown to over done.


Enjoy every morning with your non-dairy milk.


PS I make double the quantity listed here, and of course you can vary the ratio and types of grains as you please.
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Hazlenut truffles

I've been making truffles, as I mentioned in my triple bean truffle post.   By the way, the answer to what three beans were used in the triple bean truffle is coffee bean, cocao bean and black beans!......(but I don't tell anyone about the black beans as it puts them off)!  This time, I was thinking about Ferrero Rocher chocolates and decided to make a hazelnut truffle without dairy, refined sugar or gluten/wheat.


The truffles were (yes, they are no longer!) basically a whole hazelnut surrounded by a creamy delight (ground hazelnuts, coconut milk, raw cocao powder) and the rolled in more ground hazelnuts.


I found them to be very satisfying  - which is why they weren't around for long. I omitted the crispy crunchy outer layer that a Ferrero Rocher has but otherwise, they were pretty similar.

A good occasional treat that hit the spot!
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(Mini) Grape Harvest

Linda and Stephen
Last week we harvested our Godello grapes.  We grafted this varietal on 300 vines a couple of years ago and so this is really our first harvest of any quantity of them.

Meta and Jane

Godello is a Spanish varietal of green grapes and not typically grown in the US - except here at Birdland!  We were asked to try growing it by a couple of local wine makers and it was pleasing to see a good crop for them to make our first US Birdland Godello wine.

Don - who later had a bad back!
Instead of using our usual vineyard management group to harvest these, we invited some friends to experience the fun as we were expecting only a ton or so.  However, the Godello were a little more difficult to harvest than we had imagined.

John
As bunches of grapes, they grow as a mass and are quite solid as a bunch - not individual grapes.  Most of the time you can't see where the top stalk is, where you want to cut the bunch off, and they get wound up in the wires and leaves....It therefore took us much longer than we expected to harvest the 1.5 tons.
Ken
We wore out our friends - and ourselves!  Even the harvest breakfast I made (which was all gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free) didn't quite leave us kicking up our heels! I think what would have been better would be to have had a massage therapist waiting for us all!


Tomorrow is the Big Grape Harvest, as opposed to the mini grape harvest. It is of our merlot grapes and we are expecting something like 20 tons!  It is earlier in October than usual for us - the grapes have ripened well.  
Fig Clafoutis
This time, our vineyard management crew will come in  - starting at 4am in the dark!  A few friends will help out by pulling out the leaves in the bins, but we won't be picking as we'd slow the crew down!

Kale puffs
Wish us luck for tomorrow!
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Triple bean truffle

I've been working on a recipe for a truffle that is healthy.  This one is gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

It's called "triple bean truffle" and your job is to guess the three beans that I use in the recipe!




I will be demonstrating a bite size morsel, probably not this one but something else at an event this month at Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol.

The event is the Second Annual Cancer Journey: Nuturing ourselves, Loving ourselves.  The keynote speaker is Michael Lerner, the President and Cofounder of Commonweal, who will present on "Intentional Healing with Cancer".


I heard Michael a couple of weeks ago at the Annie Appleseed conference and cannot recommend him highly enough.  His talk there was wonderful, so whether you have cancer or not, I urge you to come and hear him talk at this event.  There is lots more going on at the event too so check out the info page and sign up.  Hope to see you there.
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The language of flowers - Part II

Following from yesterday's blog post about my book club gathering to discuss "The language of flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, you may have guessed it, but the other flower themed dessert I made was  a  roulade. Yes, it's been nearly two weeks since I've made a roulade!!! Had to get one in sometime!  This one was a rose and strawberry roulade.



As usual the dessert is refined sugar free, gluten free and dairy free. The rose flavoring comes from rose water added to the cream (whipped coconut cream).  Also in the cream are some strawberries and some chewy freeze dried strawberries from my sister.  They add a lovely texture to it.

Of course, it had to be decorated with edible rose petals.


The meaning of roses in the language of flowers varies depending on the color of the rose.

Burgundy rose - unconscious beauty
Moss rose - confession of love
Orange rose - fascination
Pale peach rose - modesty
Pink rose - grace
Purple rose - enchantment
Red rose - love
White rose - a heart unaquainted with love
Yellow rose - infidelity.

I chose a pink rose - for grace.



We had a great discussion about the book and flowers and foster care and many other things.  I made each of them a tied little bunch of flowers to take home with them.  The flowers I chose from the garden were:
sedum - for tranquility
sage - for good health and long life
marjoram - for blushes - with the hope that they feel young enough to still blush!

Click here for a printer friendly recipe for Rose Roulade
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The language of flowers - Part I

It was book club at my house this morning.  I had selected the book "The language of flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I loved the book - and so did the rest of the group.


The book is about Victoria who spent her childhood in the foster-care system, moving from one place to another, never spending more than a year in any one home.  At the age of 18 she has to leave the system, even though she has no where to go.  But she gradually finds that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.  She learned the Victorian language of flowers from Elizabeth, one of her foster parents - and finds it to be a way she can communicate to others.  It follows her difficult life of learning to love when she has never been loved, going back and forth between her childhood and present day, as so many books seem to do nowadays!  It's a lovely and at times difficult read.


For my group, I decided to use the flower theme for our gathering today.  I served hibiscus tea and hibiscus sparkling water. The meaning of hibiscus is "delicate beauty" - and it's also really high in antioxidants.

I then made two desserts.  The first one was little flower pots for each person, as you see in the photos.



In tiny terra-cotta pots I made "soil" cake from quinoa, walnuts etc from a recipe I found on Golubka's blog, for ant-hill cake. I'd never heard of ant hill cake but this version is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.  To be honest, it was a little too solid for my liking, a bit stodgy, but the taste was OK. Then I put a sprig of mint in the pot (thanks to my neighbor Janet who supplied the mint!) and topped it with a little pink, yellow or white edible daisy.

They looked very cute!  Oh, and the Victorian meaning for daisy is "innocence".


I'll show you the other delight tomorrow!  But in the meantime, I recommend the book. 
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Sister Mary Cake - version 2

No, although this could be considered a minimalist cake with only two ingredients, it isn't for a nun or created by a nun, rather it is a recipe for my sister, Mary!  It is a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free cake recipe.


I posted a photo of a three ingredient cake on my blog a couple of weeks ago and my sister asked for the recipe as she liked the look of it.  I hadn't been totally happy with the result of that one, so thought I'd try it again with some modification - so here is version 2 - for my sister, Mary.  It's still not quite there but hopefully version 3 will bring it all together.

Version 1 was made with eggs, lemon juice and almonds.

Version 2 is made with just eggs and walnuts.  It is then decorated with raspberries - so I guess they are the third ingredient.   I won't show the recipe yet as it's not good enough.

Folding the walnuts into the eggs
This time I made the mistake of putting the mixture in too small a diameter pan and so it was too tall for the frothy eggs to support it and thus it sank in the middle (see photo below).  In version 3, I think I'll try using two pans, one for each layer or one slightly wider pan.


Also, the flavor needed a little something to lift it.  When I halved the sponge, I put "mushed" raspberries inside and then put more whole raspberries on top. They went someway to "lifting" the flavor ( and also filling the dip in the top!) but I think what it needs is some citrus, so I'll try some lemon zest in version 3, both in the cake and with the mushed raspberries!

Before photographing the current cake, I felt it needed a sprinkle of something on top. Many cakes utilize powdered/icing sugar for this, but as this is a sugar free cake, I sifted some raspberry flour on top.  Which do you prefer the look of - no sprinkle, or sprinkle?



The recipe is developing.... but not quite there yet.  I'll keep you posted.  Patience, Sister Mary!!!!
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Swimming in tomatoes!

The joy of growing your own fruit and vegetables: you wait for ages to begin harvest, then have masses all at once!
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Even with just two tomato plants, we are nearly overwhelmed with tomatoes! We pick them just about everyday but yesterday seemed to tip me over the edge. We've been managing just eating them raw, but I now know I have to get cooking with them. I'm planning on making some roasted tomato soup and then also trying some tomato sauce. I've never tried that before. Should be fun.

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For today however, I'm roasting some for my lunch and will have them on some gluten free toast.

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They are drizzled with blackberry balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with homegrown oregano and marjoram. Hmmm. Here's the oil-free recipe. Can't wait for lunch time.

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Recipe: Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
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Ingredients:
Cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar - plain or flavored
Fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, marjoram

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 degrees C
Halve tomatoes and place on silpat or parchment paper on a baking tray. (It is important to use a non stick surface as no oil is added in this recipe.)
Sprinkle with chopped herbs of your choice
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
Roast in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
Serve warm with crusty bread or on toast.
Store at room temperature for maximum flavor.
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Walnut Roulade

Yes, I'm definitely in a roulade phase! This is the third type of roulade I've made in the last few weeks. This was for an event we held on Sunday.  It is refined-sugar free, gluten free and dairy free.


I was really pleased with how it came out.  It is made with just eggs, lemon juice, xylitol* and walnuts.  Of course, I then decorated it with fresh raspberries and then drizzled a little fruit-sweetened, sugar free raw chocolate and grated lemon zest on top.

It was eaten up very quickly, but I did manage a little slice, only to check how it tasted, of course!


*Xylitol is a natural sweetener, a sugar alcohol used as a substitute for sugar.  I like it and it seems to work well.  It is a cup for cup replacement for table sugar, so it's easy to substitute in recipes.  It is also granulated like sugar but you can grind it up finer, as necessary.

Xylitol is found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables and can be extracted from various berries, oats, mushrooms, as well as fibrous materials such as corn husks and birch.  Unlike other sweeteners, xylitol is actively beneficial for dental health, reducing caries to a third in regular use and it has also been shown to reduce the incidence of ear infections.


It has a much lower glycemic index than sugar - GI 7 for xylitol vs GI 80 for sugar, so it a great low calorie sugar substitute for diabetics  that doesn't cause a spike in blood glucose levels.

I don't notice any difference in taste at all between it and sugar, but I find it takes a little long to dissolve when I am cooking with it, for example if beating it with eggs, it stays granular longer so I just whisk it a little longer.

Have you ever used it? What are your thoughts?  If not, give it a go. I think you'll like it.
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Light as a feather cake

I made this cake with just three ingredients - and one of them was 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice!



It is lovely: so light as a feather.

It uses just eggs, lemon juice and almonds! How simple is that.

The frosting is pomegranate seeds in a cashew and almond cream.

I think this could be one of the recipes I use for my gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free dessert class coming up in October. I'll tell you more about that as the time gets closer and I've decided what we'll make.

Have a great weekend.  Hope your mood is as light as a feather!
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Strawberry Roulade

I had a group of British friends around last night so indulged in a yummy (not healthy) gluten free dessert - Strawberry Roulade.  But there was method behind my madness!


I am working on creating refined sugar free - and maybe even egg free - meringue style dishes.  One I wanted to try is a soft roulade where you roll the meringue into a log. But before I try changing a recipe, I want to know what it's like to do it as written, as it is then easier to know if you are on track when you make changes.



Gosh - I got quite excited!  It was a delicious light dessert that looked so pretty too. I managed to get some of my fruit flour in the recipe too - adding strawberry flour this time!  The flour is sprinkled on the top of the meringue and also included in the filling.

This sugared version is limited to an occasional treat.  As it happens, there were about 20 of us so we each only got a little taste.  The recipe says it's for 8 - 10 people.


Today I tried the same thing but using xylitol instead of refined sugar. Xylitol is a natural sugar alternative with a low glycemic index.  I cooked it a little too long and it started to brown, but apart from that, I was pleased with how it turned out.  I'll give it another try with a shorter cooking time.  But the meringue is crispy on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle!  Here's the sugar free version photo below:


I need to work on a better dairy free filling too as the coconut cream I used in this one, was too coconutty - even with some strawberry flour added.  So the experiments continue!

I'm having fun!  Do you have a favorite meringue style dessert?
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Making Almond Milk

Following on from last week's recipe and instructions on how to make Oat Milk, this week I'll show you how to make Almond Milk.


Yes, you can buy almond milk in the supermarket, but it tends to contain lots of ingredients. My recipe uses only organic almonds and water.  In what I consider the best, unsweetened commercial almond milk you still get extras of:

  • rice starch
  • sea salt (190mg sodium)
  • vanilla
  • natural flavor
  • carrageenan
I prefer the almonds and water approach!  Here's how to do it.

  • Soak 1 cup of organic almonds in water for 24 hours or overnight if you are short of time.  Use enough water to cover the nuts. Make sure it's good quality water!
  • Drain and rinse the almonds after their soak. Remove the skins of the almonds.  This is optional but gives you a much whiter milk and is easy to do. I timed myself and it took only 3 minutes to take the skins off! Once the almonds have soaked, just use an action like you are squeezing the almond and the skin comes off whole.
  • Place the almonds in a blender (I used my Vitamix) and add 3 cups of water.  You can actually add more (up to a total of 4 cups of water) or less, depending on how creamy or liquid you want your milk.  
  • Blend until smooth. Don't over blend or the milk will start to heat up.
  • Pour into a nut bag*, suspended over a jug and squeeze the milk out using your hand. Squeeze well to get all the milk and until the pulp is crumbly.
  • There isn't a lot of pulp that remains in the nut bag so you can either discard it or use it in your oatmeal or cereal or baked goods.  
  • Now pour yourself a glass of delicious, healthy, unsweetened, organic almond milk and enjoy, or else use it in baking, or cooking as a dairy substitute or on your cereal for breakfast!
The photo below shows the lovely white color of homemade almond milk - on the right - compared to bought almond milk on the right.


The milk will last at least a week, kept in the refrigerator.


*Re: nut bags.  Nut bags are available at cook shops and are a mesh fabric that holds small particles inside and lets the liquid run through.  They are sometimes called jelly bags too - for when you leave homemade jelly to run through. Here is a source at Lakeland in the UK, or on amazon.co.uk.  In the US, there are plenty of options like this one on Amazon, or check out your local cookware store.  Alternatively, you can just pour the milk through a double layer of cheesecloth to remove the pulp.

I'll show you another dairy free milk next week.  They are much better for you than drinking dairy.  And taste yummy too!  What is your favorite?
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Apple Kisses

I spent a day developing recipes to make apple kisses.  Doesn't that sound a good way to spend a day!

The idea behind creating an "apple kiss" recipe was to make something like a cookie or little cake or tasty light sweet yummy, but use:

  • no dairy
  • no gluten
  • no refined sugar
  • no fat
  • AND find a way to incorporate my new found friends, fruit flours!  
and have something that tastes good!

The creation came first, then the name!  I decided that they needed to be filled and then they just looked like apple kisses!

I made two different types.  The first ones used a combination of brown rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch and apple flour.  I used coconut palm sugar for the sweetener, applesauce, baking powder and some cinnamon.

They were really quick to make and turned out yummy!  I cut each one in half and added some apple non-dairy whipped cream to make little kisses!


For the second variation I tried gluten free oat flour plus the apple flour. I thought it might be a bit crumbly so added some xanthum gum, but they actually ended up a little moist, so maybe this wasn't necessary. Otherwise, the same ingredients were used, but before I cooked them, I flattened them a little.  I initially filled a few with apple butter that I had made and preserved a few years ago (doesn't contain butter!), but I preferred them with the apple cream!



I ended up liking the first variation the best. The second ones were just a bit to moist and gooey for my taste.  But the recipe still needs some work with slight variations so when I've got it better, I'll let you know the recipe.

The sweetener I used has become my recent favorite - Palm sugar or coconut palm sugar.  It comes from the nectar of the coconut palm. I buy the Sweet Tree version which is organic and is not refined i.e. minimally processed.  It contains no preservatives.  It is brown (as it's not been bleached like regular sugar) so using it in an apple product seemed good.  I'm thinking for other flavors the color maybe a bit strong? But that is to try on another day.  

Palm sugar also has a low Glycemic index - of 35 (cane sugar is 68, Honey is 55) - and you can switch it for the same quantity as sugar in recipes.

It's high in potassium, magnesium, zinc and is a natural source of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C.

And it tastes good!  Brown sugar like taste with a touch of caramel!  Have you given it a try?

Fancy an apple kiss?
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Everything is tickety-boo

Another week, and another bunch of things that made me feel that life is tickety-boo:


(Gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free) Apple Kisses


  • experimenting in the kitchen and having some successes!
  • trying out fruit flours along with my other alternative gluten free flours
  • having a friend come up and stay
  • lunch out and laughing with a friend
  • getting a new camera
  • moving furniture around and it feels so different
  • teaching a family (mum and 2 daughters) how to make jewelry :-D
  • having so many people sign-up straight away for my "food as medicine" groups
  • hearing my nephew did well in his exams - a different nephew from the one I mentioned last week!
  • having 2 bright nephews!
  • picking loads of apples and dehydrating some
  • picking pears
  • eating all this home grown food - cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, pears......
UTO (Unidentified tomato object) 
Hope you've had a tickety-boo week, with lots of yummy healthy food.
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Cooking with fruit flours

I've been experimenting in the kitchen today and it still continues.  Here is one of the results - a raspberry macaron (and yes, I did make more than one!!).  Macarons, if you didn't know, are the light fluffy meringue melt-in-your-mouth confectionery, originally from France.


Macarons are naturally gluten free as they use almond flour instead of a gluten flour.  The exciting part about todays experiment's, for me at least, is that I made flour from fruit and used it in the macaron, replacing some of the almond flour.  The flour I made was from raspberries.  How cool is that - and so the little meringues taste of raspberries!  With all these alternative flours out there, I thought I'd try making some for myself and this is my first attempt.  I wonder what will come next?????

The theme of macarons is continuing in this kitchen, as I'm trying out a sugar free version.  They are just drying now.  If they are successful, you'll see them soon!

Have you ever tried using/making fruit flour?
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Making Oat Milk

If you are giving up dairy, here's an easy way to make your own non-dairy milk using oats. In this case, I used gluten free oats.

Soak one cup of oats in water overnight. Pour enough water to cover the oats.

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The oats will swell up to at least 1 1/2 cups. After soaking, drain and rinse the oats.

Place them in a blender with 3 cups of water and blend for a minute or so. I used my vitamix so it was very quick. For less powerful models, you may need to blend for a couple of minutes.

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Pour the milk into a nut bag and collect the yummy healthy milk.

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You will get about 4 cups of oat milk. Keep this in the fridge and use it within a week, on your morning cereal and in cooking. It is versatile as the oats don't give a strong overpowering flavor.

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Here is a photo of this morning's breakfast - my puffed brown rice cereal, with raspberries, bananas and home made gluten free oat milk.

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If you prefer a thicker, creamier consistency, just reduce the amount of water your add to the blender.

I'll be back with other non dairy milk recipes soon. Hope you give it a try.
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Food Textures - More Crispy Snacks

Here's another snack I choose when I'm craving something crispy:

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Yummy puppodums, or poppodoms, or puppads or a variety of other names!

You need to microwave them for 45 second each and get this tasty gluten free snack, around the size of a tortilla.

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They originate from Indian cuisine but don't have a particular strong flavor so are nice to snack on anytime.

Have you ever tried them? In the UK they are eaten a lot and you can buy them in packets, like potato chips, already crisped, but I've never seen them like that here in the US.
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Food Textures - More Crispy Snacks

Here's another snack I choose when I'm craving something crispy:

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Yummy puppodums, or poppodoms, or puppads or a variety of other names!

You need to microwave them for 45 second each and get this tasty gluten free snack, around the size of a tortilla.

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They originate from Indian cuisine but don't have a particular strong flavor so are nice to snack on anytime.

Have you ever tried them? In the UK they are eaten a lot and you can buy them in packets, like potato chips, already crisped, but I've never seen them like that here in the US.
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Recipe for healthy gluten free granola

I hope you'll enjoy the following recipe. It is to create a healthy low fat, low sugar, gluten free granola. The recipe shows you how to create a plain granola and then each morning you can add additional fresh ingredients such as fruit, nuts, seeds, etc to create the taste you desire at that time.

Ingredients:
1 cup GF rolled oats
1 cup GF puffed brown rice - I use Erewhon, unsweetened
1 small carton (4oz) unsweetened organic apple sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375F
2. Mix the oats and rice together and stir in the apple sauce, to thoroughly combine.
3. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and stir well, bringing the edges into the center
5. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  If it is dry and crispy, remove. If still a bit soft, stir and put back in for a couple more minutes.  Watch it carefully as the edges may burn.
6. Cool and store in a jar for a month.

It isn't sweet but the addition of fruit sweetens it enough for me.  If you prefer, you could add some stevia as sweetener.  My favorite way to eat this is with raspberries and blackberries and a little unsweetened almond milk.

It has a much lower fat and sugar content than granolas you buy - check the labels.

Let me know what you think.
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Allergy Free Song

For all those gluten free and food allergy people who are feeling miserable today, you may enjoy this little rendition from Les Miserables "One Grain More"!  Just ignore the last bit.


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Cauliflower crust pizza

I came across a recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust the other day, so thought I'd give it a go.  To be honest, I have never been a great fan of pizza and then after stopping eating gluten all those years ago, I just rarely bother or even think about it.


But for some reason, the idea of using cauliflower instead of a dough base, was intriguing to me.

I adapted the recipe slightly and used just three ingredients - cauliflower, egg replacement (Orgran) and non-dairy cheese.  You use one cup of riced cauliflower, the equivalent of one egg and 1 cup of cheese.  The full description using dairy cheese and egg is given in the link above.

Cooked riced cauliflower
Cauliflower with egg replacement and non-dairy cheese
I loved it! And it stood up to being a finger food too.  I topped it first with a layer of a parsley and pistachio pesto I'd made the previous week. We have lots of parsley in the garden right now, so I was looking for a way to use it up, and came up with this recipe for parsley pistachio pesto! Basically its just parsley and pesto whizzed up with a little bit of lemon juice!
Parsley and pistachio pesto

Then I cooked some peppers and mushrooms and added them on top, with some avocado and a little more cheese!

Toppings!
Even with all these toppings, the crust was firm enough to be handled.  I really did enjoy it and decided to try making it again with the remaining riced cauliflower but this time substituting the cheese out to make it even healthier. I tried instead to add another egg replacement, but that didn't work, and then I tried adding some psyllium husk powder to bind it, which was better, but just didn't quite make it!  The cheese not only adds great flavor, but also holds it all so that it can be a finger food.  

So the dish ends up being mainly vegetables and some cheese.  Let me know if you give it a try.  Hope you like it. 
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Restaurant review - The Counter

We went to Corte Madera on Saturday and tried out a new(to us) restaurant - The Counter.  It is in Corte Madera Town Center and I highly recommend it.  It has food to suit just about every one.


It is basically a burger bar - a build your own burger bar.  You have a menu with lots of components for burgers and you select the ones you want:

First off, the burgers aren't all beef.  They have veggie/vegan burgers - which is what I had - Gluten free too and hand made at the restaurant.  It was brown rice based with a good flavor.  Other options for burgers are turkey, chicken and the special on Saturday was Halibut, which my hubby had.  The meat is hormone and antibiotic free.

You then chose the size of burger you want - 1/3, 1/2 or 1lb.

Next comes cheese options, if you so desire.  12 different cheeses, including goat cheese and brie!

And then it's toppings.  Four are included in the price.  The choices include things like asparagus, sprouts, roasted corn and black bean salsa, tomatoes, onions, carrot strings, lettuce, artichoke hearts,olives, cranberries etc.  Yes, plenty of healthy choices.  There are also some premium topping for $1 more - including guacamole, avocado, fried egg, sun dried tomato or bacon.

Next up is a sauce such as harissa, balsamic vinaigrette, BBQ, mayo etc.

And finally you choose a bun such as multigrain, pretzel, gluten free, or no bun at all and the burger is served in a bowl with organic lettuces.

The meal was delicious. I had the vegan gluten free burger in a bowl with organic lettuce, asparagus, corn and black bean salsa, sprouts, and roasted red peppers.  No cheese.

If all this choice is too much (there are 312,210 different combinations!), they do have some signature burgers already decided for you!


Yes, you can have a very unhealthy meal with a whopping 1lb beef burger with cheese and egg and onion rings and fries etc, but you can also select a healthy delicious option too.

The Counter is a franchise - the Corte Madera restaurant was the first one - so check out other locations and see if there is one near you.  I was pleasantly surprised and we both really enjoyed our lunch.
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Making Nut Cheese

I don't eat dairy, so this week I thought I'd tried my hand at making some cheese using nuts instead of dairy.  It was a soft cheese and I am really pleased with how it turned out.


The cheese was made from cashew nuts - and I did two types - one which I dehydrated to form a rind, and the other which I didn't dehydrate (the dehydrated one is at the back of the photo below).



The recipe I used was one I found on the blog Golubka.  I hadn't seen her blog before until I started searching for nut cheese recipes.  But now I've found it - I really like it.  Hope you'll take a look.

The cheese really is simple to make and includes Bio-K probiotics, so you can feel good about eating cheese  as it is providing lots of healthy bugs for digestion.  Here is the recipe with slight modifications to my tastes:

Ingredients
3/4 cup of cashews
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons of Bio-K probiotics - non-dairy
1 teaspoon raw honey
Dash of Spike or No-salt (salt alternative)

1. Soak the cashews in water overnight.  Drain. They will swell to be 1 cup full.


2. Blend all the ingredients together in a Vitamix/Blendtec or powerful blender until smooth.


3. Put into a stainless steel ring former* on parchment paper and either refrigerate overnight or dehydrate overnight.



4. After a couple of hours dehydrating, I removed the ring former so that the sides of the cheese would also form a rind.


*A ring former can be a cookie cutter or muffin ring or something like this ring former.  Basically it just shapes the cheese but you can alternatively just have it free form.


I actually prefer the taste and texture of the un-dehydrated cheese.  It reminds me of boursin cheese in it's texture.  I love cheese with raw honey and fruit.  You can see I added chopped chives to one of the cheeses...you could also mix in or use as a garnish any of the following: garlic, dill, edible flowers, ginger, dried cranberries, figs, or.....So many options. I'll definitely be making it again.  Hmmm, I think I might try dried lemon peel next time......


Let me know if you give it a go.  Thanks Golubka.
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What's in a name?

"Tickety-boo Health Coaching".

You may be wondering what 'tickety-boo health coaching' means....what is this blog is all about?   Well, allow me to elaborate.

Tickety-boo is a British word - now also commonly used in Canada.  It means things is going along just fine.....things are all tickety-boo. I think it has a nice ring to it and a sense of fun and ease.  It's a happy little word that makes you want to smile.  It doesn't mean everything is perfect, just that you have found a way to enjoy the positives in life.

So what about the "Health coaching" part? What is that all about? Health coaching is a way of guiding others to find the motivation to make changes that will improve their health.  The relationship between a health coach and their client is a supportive partnership where we can discuss topics such as:what is troubling most about a certain health condition; what would the person most want to change; what support do they have; what obstacles are there, etc, etc.  Health coaching focuses on the special issues and concerns unique to the individual person that are preventing them from leading a healthier life.

The simple goal of Tickety-boo health coaching therefore is to help you feel tickety-boo!


In my area of health coaching, I specialize in helping people with cancer and helping people improve their lifestyle to prevent cancer.  This includes diet (e.g. what should you eat during chemo or radiation therapy), what foods help with side effects of cancer and therapy, what exercise is good, ways of relaxing, guided imagery, biofeedback, spirituality, etc etc.

As my blog progresses, I'll tell you more about how we can work together and how tickety-boo health coaching can help you.  I'll be coaching people one on one and also running a variety of educational community programs.  I will also implement an e-coaching program too, for people who don't live local to me in Northern California.  All this to come soon.

But for now, take two minutes and watch this little video to help you understand just what feeling tickety-boo is all about. I bet you'll be singing along by the end of it!   It features Danny Kaye singing a song entitled "Everything is tickety-goo" from a movie called "Merry Andrew". 

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