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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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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An apple a day....

Apples, apples, everywhere....


We've now harvested the majority of our apples - and I've already dehydrated five large bags of them. They taste yummy dried - with nothing added.


And like our pears, our apples are huge this year.  We have a few apples that weigh more than a pound each!  It sort of makes a mockery of the "apple a day keeps the doctor away" as one of our apples could feed a family of four!

In fact, it did for lunch today. I made a nice slaw with a single large apple, walnuts, spring onion and mint.  And it fed four of us nicely!


Not quite sure what has happened with our orchard fruit this year.  We've never seen it so large - with pears over a pound each, apples the same and even large nectarines!  Yet not a great year for tomatoes.

But no complaints!  We are loving it.  What are you enjoying this early September?
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Food as Medicine class - beans, legumes and lentils


We had a great class this morning, focusing on beans, legumes and lentils.  All wonderful sources of fiber - not to mention also great source of protein, molybdenum, B vitamins, calcium, anti-oxidants, folic acid...the list goes on.


Beans have many health benefits eg in heart disease for reducing homocysteine levels, stabilizing blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory effects, and from the high fiber content, assisting elimination of excess hormones, cholesterol, toxins and carcinogens.

Coriander and coconut dahl with chickpea pancakes


We also discussed ways of cooking, soaking and how to reduce the gas-producing effect of beans by combining with certain spices and herbs or through the cooking and soaking techniques.

We cooked some yummy food too, including:

  • cannellini bean and basil dip
  • lentil and caper pate
  • coconut and coriander dahl served with chickpea pancakes
  • Moroccan bean stew
What a filling lunch that was! I don't think any went home hungry and we got our 35+g of fiber today, just in one meal!

Moroccan Bean Stew with black beans, garbanzo beans and lentils

And we restrained from the black bean brownies and not-so-dumb blondies this time!


Next time we will be focussing on fats, oils, essential fatty acids and the effects they have on our health.

Let me know if you are interested in attending a class.
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Kitchen tools: Bamix immersion blender and grinder

I love my Bamix.  I've had one for years - originally had one in England so that must be over 20 years ago.


The Bamix is an immersion blender with a small processor/grinder attachment.  I actually rarely use it as an immersion blender but use it all the time with the grinder. It gets used a few times every week especially as it is my go to piece of equipment for grinding my flax seeds.

I also use it for making nut butters. As the grinder is only a small size, it makes great nut butter.  I never want large quantities anyhow so it is perfect.


Today and last week I used it for a batch of nutella, as I'm making nutella ice cream for friends this weekend.  If I'm making nutella ice cream just for me, I make everything in the grinder - as all it is one tablespoon of healthy nutella plus one frozen banana.  Whip them up and you get yummy ice cream. I'll be making enough ice cream for 3 of us so  the bamix made the nutella and I'll use my regular processor for the frozen banana bit.


I also use the grinder for spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, making bread crumbs, etc.  You can use dry and wet ingredients in it. Unlike a coffee grinder, which many makes you can't wash properly, the bamix grinder comes apart for easy cleaning.

The immersion blender comes with different blades for doing different things. There is a flat disk useful for whipping and you can whip non dairy milks into the texture of cream with that as its so powerful.  Great for fancy coffee drinks if you like those.


It is more expensive than other immersion blenders but it is also more powerful and the small size of the grinder is perfect so many things.


Here's my latest version of a healthy nutella recipe - just made with my Bamix:

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon coconut nectar or sweet freedom
1/8 cup water

If the hazelnuts aren't already roasted, dry roast them in a pan and the rub them in a kitchen towel to remove the skins.

Place the hazelnuts in the Bamix grinder and grind/blend, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides.  It does take a reasonable amount of scraping - and grind for about 5 minutes until the consistency of a nut butter.  Add the remaining ingredients to the grinder and whip in the grinder until smooth.

Store in the fridge.

Healthy nutella ice cream (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free)

To make healthy nutella ice cream, for one person, blend 1 chopped frozen banana with 1 tablespoon of healthy nutella.  Enjoy!  Easily multiplies up for more people.
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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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Fig and Broccoli Tartine

One of the dishes we made in our Food as Medicine classes this week was Fig and Broccoli tartine. Tartine is the French word for open faced sandwich. It sounds so much nicer than just "sandwich".



These are lovely - and you can really be creative with your toppings, depending what is in season. I just happened to see some green figs for sale and our fig tree doesn't ripen until the fall, so thought it would be nice to use those - but you could put anything on top of the broccoli.


I don't generally eat a lot of broccoli - no specific reason, just that I don't seem to use it much - but this is a great way to serve raw broccoli and get all the benefits of some good cruciferous vegetables.

Here's the recipe:

Broccoli spread
1 head of broccoli
2 stems of basil
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 garlic cloves
Approx 1/2 cup water
Pepper to taste

Tartine
Artisan 100% whole grain bread, thinly sliced
Fresh figs, sliced

Decorate/garnish: pea shoots, pomegranate seeds
Drizzle:  fig or pomegranate balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses

Combine all the ingredients for the broccoli spread in a blender or food processor with half of the water and puree. Add more water as needed until smooth, stopping and scraping down as necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add more water if it seems dry.
Toast the bread.
Spread the broccoli spread generously on the toast.
Top with figs, pea shoots, pomegranate seeds and drizzle sparingly with balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses.

Instead of the pea shoots, you could try leafy sprouts or thinly sliced radish or anything that makes it look pretty!

As the bread we used was whole wheat, I made my own gluten free tartine using a square quinoa/rice cake - and it looked just as pretty - maybe even prettier, as you can see in the above 2 photos!



Another variation for those with nut allergies is using chickpeas instead of hazelnuts in the broccoli spread. I've made it using one drained can of chickpeas and no nuts.  The spread can also be used as a pesto for pasta or vegetables, by adding a little more water to it.

So get your creative hat on and think about some pretty tartines for summer lunches, or even dinners on hot evenings.
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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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Overnight Omega 3 Oaty breakfast!

O-O-O breakfast!


I'm not sure if you are like me, but throughout the year, I usually stick to one of two breakfasts with maybe just varying the berries on top:    either my homemade gluten free, sugar free, granola or my homemade GF, sugar free muesli.  I think I just want to get up and not really think about creating something first thing - just reach in the cupboard, pull out my cereal and add a few sprinkles and non dairy milk and start eating.

But then I see all these pretty breakfasts in cookbooks and blogs, and all these smoothies, and I get a bit envious.  The taste of food begins very visually for me, so eating things that look good is important.  And yes, faithful granola and muesli - you do look good - but just not as "pretty" as some other breakfasts out there!

So I had the idea to try making something a bit prettier, but doing it the night before - while dinner is cooking. Then when I get up,  it'll all be ready in the fridge, and I won't even have to add milk!

And thus - two new breakfasts came about - that I made while dinner was cooking. Pretty Parfaits!  Today is the sweet mango banana version.  My Triple O breakfast!


Overnight Omega 3 oaty breakfast!

A lovely combination of oats, mangoes, bananas, flax and chia seeds and non dairy milk make up this overnight breakfast.

Part smoothie, part bircher muesli - a breakfast parfait with plenty of omega 3 essential fatty acids from the flax seeds, the chia seeds and I used flax milk as the non dairy milk!

Make it it in the evening, put it in the fridge and its ready for breakfast in the morning.

Here's the recipe (serves 2):

1 large mango or frozen mango pieces
2 bananas
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 cup gluten free oats
4 tablespoons chia seeds
1/3 cup flax milk or non-dairy milk


Peel the mango and cut away the flesh from the stone, or defrost if frozen, and add to a food processor with the bananas and ground flaxseed.  Blend until smooth and creamy.

In a bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds and non dairy milk, stirring well.

Pour half of the mango banana mix in the bottom of two glasses or bowls.  Top with the oat mix, and then add the remaining mango mix as a top layer.  Sprinkle with oats or chia seeds to decorate. Refrigerate overnight.  Serve cold.

Don't try and keep this more than overnight, as the banana in it begins to go a little brown.


This is a wonderful way to start your day with a great dose of omega 3 fatty acids from the flax and chia.  All too often our omega 6: omega 3 ratio is too low in omega 3s, so gives you a good dose in your first meal of the day.  Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory with lots of benefits to your health.

I used white chia seeds in this recipe as I think they look nicer, but you can use black ones instead. Nutritionally, there isn't a difference.

Tomorrow's pretty parfait is a berry parfait instead.  Stay tuned.

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Chia Fresca

I never thought I would, but I like chia fresca!

Never being one for tapioca because I always thought it looked like frog spawn, now here I am drinking frog-spawn-looking chia fresca!!


Chia fresca is a mexican drink - with lots of health benefits - mainly due to the chia seeds which are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids (more than flax and salmon), high in fiber (1 tablespoon has 5g fiber!), calcium ( 6 x that of milk), magnesium (15 x that in broccoli)....

Here is the recipe:
2 cups water
2 tablespoons chia seeds - I like to use the white ones in my drink
Juice of one or two lemons or limes, depending on your taste.

Directions:
Pour the water into a jug and add the chia seeds, whisking immediately.  Leave for 3 - 4  minutes and whisk again.  Leave for 10 minutes, whisk again and add the citrus juice.  The drink will thicken and become like a gel. Stir before drinking.








Don't say you can see the tadpoles starting to swim!!
Enjoy! If you can get over the look and unusual texture for a drink I'm sure you'll love it ;-D
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Hemp Butter

I made some homemade hemp butter this week.



I used the little container that comes with my immersion blender and just blended the hemp seeds in that.  I've used the same process to make nut butters.  After a while, it didn't seem to be creaming into butter, so I added just a few cashews and that got it all going.

I like it.  It's not too grassy in taste.  I say that because I tried making hemp milk the other week and it just tasted really green and grassy. I didn't like it at all. But the butter is quite tasty and a good texture.


So - its a simple recipe - bunch of hemp seeds. Whizz and if it doesn't cream, add just a few cashew nuts!

Hemp seeds are a great source of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in a perfect ratio.
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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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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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Mustard pomegranate coleslaw

I make a big bowl of coleslaw at least once a week.  It's a great way to enjoy cabbage - a cruciferous vegetable and an easy way to add whatever else you have in the fridge.


Today, I made a different style of dressing for it - a mustard dressing.  It gives it a "meaty" sort of flavor. I always think the taste of mustard is suggestive of meat.  When I make my lentil pate, it always tastes like it isn't vegan, because of the mustard.

I have a few staples in my coleslaw recipe and these are:
cabbage (!), shredded
carrots, grated
raisins or sultanas - I love the sweetness of the fruit in there
black cumin seeds - for their immune boosting power





Today I also added:
pomegranate seeds - yes, you can still buy fresh ones at Trader Joes
sun dried tomatoes - my new favorite brand

The dressing was made from:
1 tablespoon yacon syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard



I often also add turmeric to the mix, but my hubby doesn't like it looking quite so yellow, so I held off today so maybe he will have some too! Fresh mint is a great addition too....

It's a great snack, side dish, salad....and lasts a few days in the fridge.  Unlike most coleslaws, it isn't made with mayonnaise or heavy in fat or dairy products.

What are your staples in coleslaw?
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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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Middle Eastern Oat Groats

I'm in love with this new dish, made from whole oat kernels, also known as oat groats or oat berries.


It is full of yummy ingredients and flavors including:

  • whole oat groats (GF)
  • pomegranate seeds
  • pistachios
  • walnuts
  • pine nuts
  • fennel seeds
  • citrus zest
  • coconut
It's one of those dishes where you make enough to last you a few days and then add different things to it each time you eat to.


My latest addition was my mandarinquats from the garden, with some kale, also from the garden and drizzled with pomegranate molasses!


Pomegranates are so beautiful  - just like jewels. I think they make most dishes look beautiful.


This is a great healthy dish, full of fiber and nutrients with no added oil.  Have you tried cooking with whole oat kernels before?
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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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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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Tastiest food of the week - sun warmed fresh figs

Picking a fresh fig from our tree, when it is gently warmed by the sun is just heaven!  The figs are soft, with such jammy red sweet interiors.


I could - and do eat them all day! I'm not a fan of dried figs so when the fruit is ripe, we need to eat it up!

I've made fig and ginger jam, fig chutney and other preserves in the past and think I'll have to start on some soon with this years crop, but for now we are just enjoying them - and giving plenty away for friends.

My morning cereal- yes there is a little cereal under those figs!
What was the tastiest thing you ate this week?
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Quince time

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

Let me know if you'd like some.....
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Tastiest food of the week - Frozen grapes

I'm starting a new weekly blog post - "tastiest food of the week", where I'll share with you the yummiest food I've eaten each week.  Maybe it'll encourage you to give it a try.

I can see that some weeks  - like this first one - are going to be difficult to pare it down to only one item....but this week's winner is FROZEN GRAPES.

Frozen Godello grapes
From the last few weeks of blog posts, you've probably already gathered that we have a vineyard and grow grapes for wine making.  We sell the grapes, but of course, at this time of year, don't ever really have a shortage for ourselves.

We grow some eating grapes/table grapes on our arbor which for the past few years, I've dehydrated most of to make raisins/sultanas.  But after last week's harvest, we had a big bucket of Godello grapes and some bunches of Merlot grapes. You can't eat them all fresh, so I froze them.  Have you ever had frozen grapes? If not - freeze some now!  Nothing to do - just wash them, let them dry and then pop them in the freezer. You can take them off the stalk if you want, but it's not necessary. They'll freeze in a couple of hours.

Frozen wine grapes
Then pop them in your mouth and you will do a happy dance! The outer layer - the skin, breaks away in your mouth first and then the cool flavors of the grape dissolve and excite your taste buds.  You get all the flavors of the grapes/wine coming through.  Using wine grapes is amazing as you really get all the complexity of wine in a frozen little bubble of fruit.

Our wine grapes have pips in them, but I still like them frozen and don't notice the pips, probably because you just swallow the melting delight before the pips have separated from the flesh.

Frozen Merlot grapes

And because it takes some time to eat them, allowing them to melt in your mouth and fully enjoy the flavors, I find a don't eat too many.

Try them one night when you are watching a movie - a great alternative to chocolate or ice cream or popcorn.  Or take them to party or picnic or..... But watch when it comes to sharing them, as you want to keep plenty for yourself for the rest of the year until next grape harvest!!!
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Golden Raisins

I seem to have spent the last couple of days with my hands in sticky fruit juice! What with pulling each little seedless green grape off his stalk to dehydrate them to make golden raisins/sultanas, and with chopping the cherry tomatoes and apples, it's been sticky, sticky, sticky!


I'm delighted with the sultanas/golden raisins.  They don't look particularly golden - but they are! Sultanas/golden raisins are green grapes, and raisins are red grapes.  When you buy golden raisins, they are often a paler color because of the addition of sulphites, which of course I didn't add.

About half way dry
But pulling all the grapes off the stems was a little tedious! I tried dehydrating some of them in little bunches as I thought they would be useful decoratively on dishes..... Surprisingly, those in bunches seem to dry out quicker than individual grapes. I don't quite understand that as you'd think there would be more air flow around individual grapes?????

Little bunch of sultanas
After about 9 trays, I had had enough of de-stemming and juiced the rest.


The juice is so grapey!  No surprise really, but it tastes different than other grape juice - because it's a different grape varietal than is used commercially.  It's not too sweet...but it is bordering on the sweet side!  It came out lovely and clear however.


Happy grape successes! Now onto tomatoes and apples.....before the pears start ripening!
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Making sultanas

We harvested our table grapes today from our arbor.  They are lovely sweet seedless grapes. Most of them I am going to dehydrate to make sultanas - or golden raisins as they are called here in the US. I still prefer to call them sultanas.


Of course, we don't use sulphur on ours as a preservative, like many store-bought golden raisins. Ours tend to come out a little darker in color than the ones we used to buy in England... I suspect it is because it is a different grape varietal.

But I use a lot of them....in baking, for snacking and daily on my unsweetened cereal or oatmeal.

On the dehydrating tray

The first three trays are in the dehydrator now. I still have loads more bunches to de-stem but that is enough for one day!  My hands still feel sticky from all that sweet juice, even after washing them a couple of times!

Sultanas are high in anti-oxidant levels and despite being high in sugar, they don't cause spikes in your blood sugar levels like refined sugar does, because they are a whole food, with plenty of fiber.  They also contain iron, calcium, protein and vitamin C.  A phytonutrient called oleanolic acid in sultanas helps promote good oral health by destroying the bacteria that cause cavities.

Just as you can use dates in baking and cooking to replace refined sugar, you can similarly use sultanas and raisins. Before using them, you should rehydrate them by soaking them in water for 10 - 15 minutes and then drinking them.

What did you harvest today?
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Add some color to your life - Chioggia beets

Look at this salad! Isn't it just a feast for the eyes with all these colors?



The prize ingredient is Chioggia beets.  I only heard about them recently so bought one to try in my salad.  You just eat it raw, thinly sliced and it puts a big smile on your face because it looks so happy there on the plate or in the bowl!


I remember being excited the first time I saw golden beets -but now, they seem positively boring compared to Chioggias!  The Chioggia beet came from an Italian coastal town called Chioggia (!), near Venice.  The beet has been around since the early 19th century and tastes a little sweeter than a red beet. 

As well as looking great, beets have lots of fiber, potassium, iron, folic acid and B vitamins.  The pigment that gives them their great color is called Betacyanin and is a powerful antioxidant.

Obviously, as well as slicing them raw in salads, you can sauté them with greens, roast them, pickle them, add them to soups etc etc, however the stripes fade a little with cooking.


They are going to be a regular in my colorful house from now on! Let me know if you try them.  Maybe I need to grow some....
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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:

P1220457

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.

P1220453

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 - Crispy

Texture is a very important character of every food we eat or drink.  To many people it is even more important than taste.

If we think of the different textures we distinguish, there is: crunchy, chewy, crispy, juicy, squashy, runny, solid, hard, soft, soggy, firm, creamy, fatty, etc.

The components and ingredients within foods plus the processes they go through determines their textures.

So do you have a favorite texture?  Is there one texture that you tend to prefer to a snack?  In this series of blog posts, I'll be exploring different textures and some healthy snack options that can satisfy those textures. This means that if you crave your usual snack that maybe isn't so healthful, by identifying the texture of the snack, you can try substituting a more healthful snack that has the same texture.

For me, my favorite texture is crispy.  I love that firmness and the sound as you crack through it.  When I fancy a snack, it is crisp that I tend to go for.  In my not-so-healthy eating days, potato chips would be what I'd grab.  In identifying "crisp", it seems similar to crunchy, but the difference is that crisp is something thin, whereas crunchy is a thicker texture.

So I have a few alternatives that I now go to for my crispy fix. The first is Edwards and Sons Baked Brown Rice Snaps.




They come in different flavors but my favorites are the Tamari Seaweed ones. This flavor has no added oils or preservatives. The plain unsalted ones similarly have no oil, but I find them a little too plain! Some of the other flavors have added oil, so read the label. Here are the ingredients.



They have a great snap when you bite into them. They are good for dips and worth a try! I'll share some more crispy healthy snacks with you soon.
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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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Happy St Patrick's Day

Photo by SweetOnVeg
Instead of wearing green today, for St Patrick's day, why not eat green instead!

Photo by Muffet
There are so many yummy green vegetables out there - gorgeous, vibrant colors, packed with vitamins, phytochemicals, enzymes, minerals etc.   So make a point today to add green to your diet instead of or as well as your attire!

Photo by zbigphotography
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