Monday, 16 April 2018

Squash, Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhansak

A delicious and healthy way to get your authentic curry fix using vegetables which just happen to be packed full of nutrients!

I always think there's nothing better than when you can eat a really tasty dinner, that you really enjoy, and BONUS - it's actually full of wonderfully healthy ingredients and good for you!

Even better if your children love it too and it's getting loads of healthy fresh vegetables down them and there are no complaints!

Well, what more can you ask? Well, I suppose you could want it to be vegetarian or vegan, gluten, dairy and nut free... well, it just so happens to be those things too - and good for a fast day as well, if you're looking for something low calorie...

,,,so what are you waiting for? Get in!!!

Serves four at 259 calories a portion. You could split into six more modest portions (e.g. as a side dish, or a lighter lunch, for 173 calories a portion). For a delicious fresh twist, why not serve with a helping of cachumber (Indian tomato, cucumber and onion salad with lime, spices and fresh coriander) for only 43 calories a portion - see here for my recipe. Serve with your choice of rice and/or flatbreads, or for a low calorie, low carb alternative, cauliflower 'rice'.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Spiced Snozzcumber Cake (gluten free and lacto/dairy free - or not!)

A seriously delicious and moist cake that no-one will guess the secret ingredient to!

OK, don't worry, you don't have to get hold of 'snozzcumbers' to make this - large courgettes or marrow will do the job! Why 'Snozzcumber Cake'? Well, it was World Book Day and I went to work dressed as the BFG (complete with big ears, cape, dream blower, a bottle of Frobscottle, and of course some 'snozzcumbers' - which were extremely large courgettes) and decided to make a cake from said snozzcumbers to take into work for the rest of the staff to enjoy.

If you like carrot cake, I think you'll love this, as I use similar spicing to that I use in my carrot cakes, but use pecan nuts instead of walnuts, and a maple flavoured cream cheese frosting to complement the flavours. As my daughter has to have a gluten free diet, it is gluten free - but you'd never know as it is so delicious and moist! If you're not on a gluten free diet, feel free to use normal plain flour instead. Either way it will be seriously delicious!

Makes a 9 inch square cake (so up to 16 portions depending on how you want to cut it!). 

Impossible Lemon and Coconut Tart - Gluten Free

A delicious dessert that you only have to make one simple mix for!

There's no faffing about with this dessert, you just mix everything together, bake, chill, and end up with an impossibly tasty dessert with a gorgeous coconut crust on top, a lemony custard in the middle, and a pastry-like base. 

What more could you ask for in a dessert! On top of that, it's gluten free, nut free, and you could easily use lactose free milk in it too, or your favourite dairy-free substitutes.

Makes ten portions at 349 calories each.

Cherry Bakewell Flapjack Bars - Gluten Free

Delicious, moist, flapjacks with the flavours of a cherry bakewell tart!

Since my daughter had to go on a gluten free diet, we've tried a fair few sweet and savoury snacks - some quite tasty, some... well... let's just say we didn't try them more than once!

If you're gluten free, you're probably aware of how horrendously expensive gluten free products are, with even just the basics often costing in excess of four times their gluten-y equivalent! So, it makes sense to make your own food from scratch, where you can, as it makes the cost a lot more manageable. Even when buying gluten free oats from the supermarket costs four times more than normal oats, you're still making a huge saving on baking your own treats with them - just imagine how much more it costs to buy the finished baked goods gluten free!

Anyway, I digress. There was a nice Bakewell-style slice that my children both liked, and so I came up with a home-made alternative - which I have made using predominantly oats, with plenty of almonds so it's more filling, and a bit healthier than just a cakey slice on top of pastry - plus who wants to make pastry, right?!

Makes 40 bars at 169 calories each (or cut these in half to make mini squares for lunchboxes / treats at 84 calories each, so they're under the 100 calorie mark!) - although if you want to cook fewer / use a smaller tin, you can easily halve this quantity, and just cook for about ten minutes or so less.

Smoked mackerel pâté

A delicious pâté which is also great to use as a dip for crudités.

This has to be one of the tastiest fish pâtés! It's great for entertaining as a simple, prepare-ahead starter served with some home-made melba toast (see tips), or for dipping sticks of cucumber, peppers, carrot etc. as a healthy, low-carb snack - see bottom of tips for suggestions with calories: you can have a lovely selection of vegetables for one for less than 60 calories! 

If you want to lower the fat content, you can use lighter cream cheese and substitute the creme fraiche for Greek yoghurt.

This amount will serve four people as a light starter, or two gannets! (It will basically over-fill two decent sized ramekins - and one is perfect to share!)

Calories per portion: for a quarter portion this is 206 calories for the full fat version, or 138 calories if you're using lightest cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia lightest) and 0% Greek yoghurt.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Gluten Free Luxury Hot Cross Buns

Why not have a go at making your own gluten free hot cross buns?

It's actually not that difficult - and even easier making gluten free ones than making 'normal' wheat flour buns as there's no kneading involved. I adapted the ingredients from my sourdough hot cross buns recipe to get the same flavours from a gluten free mix this year and they're pretty tasty gluten free too!

I've included plenty of tips in the method to help you get the best (and least messy!) results, but feel free to do things like proving the buns your own way, if you'd rather cover them in oiled clingfilm and stick them in the airing cupboard, or whatever! 

The spices give the option to use the lower amount for more subtle spicing, or vice versa if you like a nicely spiced hot cross bun full of flavour. I hope you enjoy making and eating these buns - please leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

Makes 8

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Perfectly Gluten Free Pancakes or Crêpes

These delicious gluten free pancakes are completely indistinguishable from normal English pancakes or French Crepes!

Unbelievably, they were actually the best pancakes I've ever made - and I've been making them for many years. This year, I made them gluten free, as my daughter was diagnosed with Coeliac disease last year, and after a bit of tweaking, they were the most delicious, light, laciest pancakes I've ever made!

Well, having perfected them, it would be selfish not to share with other people cooking gluten free (and of course for my daughter, when she needs the recipe!), so here it is. I hope you love it as much as we did - I've never seen pancake mix disappear so quickly - and I actually had three rather than my usual one, which is a first!

Makes 6-8 pancakes, easily doubled for more.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Traditional English Pikelets - Gluten Free

If you're a fan of crumpets, then you will love pikelets - they're very similar in taste and texture, far less faffing about, and a bit bit lighter and less stodgy!

You can make a batch of these, then either keep warm or store them in a resealable bag or container in the fridge or freezer, and toast lightly as needed.

They are delicious with a smear of butter, and your topping of choice - some like jam, some like golden syrup or honey, and some go for savoury with melted cheese and a splash of Worcerstershire sauce - me? I like to rebel against convention and have a smear of cream cheese, some smoked salmon and freshly snipped chives on top, a bit like large blinis!

I developed this recipe because my daughter and I had tried all the gluten free crumpets we could find on the market, and frankly we didn't like any of them, so I had to come up with something myself! If you want to make crumpets rather than pikelets, you can use this recipe and use greased rings to cook them in, and cook for a bit longer on each side. I just prefer pikelets, and of course less faffing about!

This amount of batter will make 20 small-ish pikelets (the same diameter as your average crumpet), and you can fit three or four in a large frying pan at once, so not too much time spent at the stove, as they only take a few minutes to cook!

Approximately 51 calories per pikelet (if yield is 20).

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Gorgeous Gluten Free Yorkshire Puddings (Lactose Free Option)

Missing a decent Yorkshire pudding in your life?

Eating gluten free can often mean missing out on your favourite treats, or putting up with second rate substitutes that aren't a patch on the real thing.

As a parent who loves cooking, and has a child with coeliac disease who doesn't have a choice about eating gluten, I'm determined to make sure she can enjoy the same foods, and better where possible - and to share the recipes for anyone else who wants to make tasty gluten free food! 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Courgette, Bacon and Cheddar Slice

A tasty, treat that's good hot or cold, as a dinner or a lunchbox snack.

Fairly quick and easy to prepare, you just need to mix all the ingredients together, pour into a tray and pop in the oven then go and put your feet up while it cooks! This is my low carb take on the Aussie favourite - 'Zucchini slice'.

Or, of course, you could make a nice big salad to go with it while it's cooking, and pop some jacket potatoes in the oven before you start - on a cold day, good with chips and baked beans too (especially for the kids!), or be more sophisticated with Jersey Royals and green beans.

It's so versatile, you can eat it hot or cold, and if you pop the leftovers into the fridge, it's perfect cut into squares for lunchboxes the next day, or as a snack when you get in from work and need something to eat NOW (or even freeze it in portions).

Serves four to six as a main. more as snacks / light lunches.

Calories: From 254 calories for a sixth, or 336 calories for a quarter portion, using fat free yoghurt. Using full fat yoghurt only makes 13 to 20 calories difference per serving.. For a smaller portion (lunch), it's 168 calories for an eighth.

Slimming World - Syn free for up to a quarter (if using the cheddar as a healthy extra, and 0% fat Greek yoghurt. Full fat Greek yoghurt for a creamier taste is 1.5 syns for a quarter).

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Frozen Daiquiris - Strawberry, Mango etc. ( includes Thermomix instructions)

Just the thing for a hot summer's day!

Maybe it even counts as one of  your five a day? There's certainly plenty of fruit in it (oh yes, and alcohol!). I was making these a couple of years ago, and had perfected the recipe to our tastes and memorized it - but not blogged it! D'Oh! So given that it has been a couple of years since I last made daiquiris, and my memory is blighted by age (and a summer of daiquiris, probably!) I had to guess at what I roughly remembered the ingredients to be, then add to them to get the balance right for our tastes again, and THIS time I have done the 'sensible' thing, and written it down, so I don't forget again next time.

Delicious strawberry daiquiris... or as I told my children, strawberry smoothies...

I think my favourite is mango, but we had one of those last night, and strawberries look so pretty, so obviously I had to make a batch of strawberry daquiris today to take a photo... remember to drink sensibly and all that, darlings!

Contains 8 units of alcohol (UK 25ml measures of 40% spirits), and makes four servings of 140ml.

For the calorie / Syn counters, the values are as follows for one serving (a quarter of a quantity as per the recipe below):

1 serving of strawberry daiquiri - 169 calories / 8 Syns
1 serving of pineapple daiquiri - 176 calories / 8.25 Syns
1 serving of mango daiquiri - 189 calories / 8.75 Syns

Friday, 19 May 2017

Stuffed Baby Peppers with Spinach and Ricotta

These little gems are a surprisingly healthy treat that are very more-ish and great for sharing (or NOT sharing if you want them all to yourself!).

I must firstly thank a friend, the lovely Audra, for the inspiration for this recipe. She shared a lovely recipe for roasted  piquillo peppers stuffed with goats cheese and spinach, which I changed around a bit (because that's what I do quite often) to suit my own purposes.

I think they're pretty easy to make - certainly not as fiddly as you might think! And they're definitely worth the effort for such a tasty morsel that's full of healthy yumminess - I ate half a quantity for my dinner last night!

The filling makes enough for two batches (as I prefer to use up certain things when I open them where possible, such as ricotta, so that the remains don't waste away in the fridge!), and will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so you can make a second batch fresh when you've eaten the first one! (Or just double up on peppers and make two trays - they are nicest eaten freshly cooked though).
Also delicious served with a selection of mouthwatering antipasti!

This quantity of peppers serves two, if eating as a light lunch type of thing (nice with some dressed Italian leaves on the side) or as a large side dish. It's also great as party food, and compatible with calorie-counted diets, 5:2, LCHF (all green list food, and you can use extra parmesan and a good drizzle of EVOO to top it off if you like) as well as being Syn free for the Slimming World diet (if you use up your healthy extra A choice for the ricotta cheese and up to 9g finely grated parmesan cheese per portion (this is a lot more than you think, especially if you use a microplane grater!).

207 calories per serving (with weights as below, calories in square brackets).

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Nutty Chocolate Bark

So simple, it's cheeky to call this a recipe - but helpful for those counting calories, or sticking to allowances to be able to weigh out portions.

As a self-confessed chocoholic, I can easily inhale what should last several days within the space of an evening, without even thinking about it!

If I'm trying to lose weight, chocolate tends to be my nemesis, so I have to find ways of making it last / stretch and pad it out with things that will make it more satisfying, and add a more healthy element, without compromising on deliciousness!

Calories: 150 calories per portion (26g), makes 12 portions.

Slimming World: makes 12 portions (weigh out at 26g each), where the nuts and seeds can be your healthy 'B' choice for the day, and the chocolate part is 3.5 syns. If not counting the nuts and seeds as your healthy 'B' choice, add on 4 syns per portion (so 7.5 syns in total).

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Easy Chilli con Carne (with Pressure Cooker method)

Chilli con Carne is something most of us have been cooking for years, without even looking at a recipe book...

I know I have - probably for the best part of two decades. I already have one chilli con carne 'recipe' on my blog here from over three years ago, back in the early days - so it's somewhat detailed on the method and goes on a bit! Although it does use soaked chipotle chillies and tastes bloody gorgeous, so it's staying where it is!

Anyway, I digress. This one is much, much simpler, has pressure cooker instructions for those who have one, and tastes equally amazing!

It's a decent sized batch if you're catering for friends, or want to put a few portions in the freezer (which is what I always do!), but you can easily halve it. It tastes even better the next day, if you've got any left! Last time I made this, I made half the quantity for a family of four and it all got eaten in one sitting, so I decided not to make that mistake again!

Serves 10 to 12 portions, at 265 to 318 calories per serving (depending on size).

Want a low carb / low calorie meal? 
Serve on top of 200g cauliflower rice per person (76 calories a serving), or 50g rice per person (raw weight, 176 calories per serving) or serve in a couple of taco shells (e.g. Old El Paso boxed tacos, for 67 calories per taco, check ingredients for GF), or mini-tortillas (87 calories each, for a 28g flour tortilla, not suitable for  GF)... or you could even use lettuce leaves to wrap it in - whatever floats your boat! All of these suggestions will bring you in at under 500 calories quite comfortably.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

South Indian Red Lentil Dhal with Spinach - Parippu with Spinach

Parippu is a favourite lentil dish of mine, that I've been cooking for years, and I love to add fresh spinach to it for a healthy twist.

This dish is so versatile - it's excellent as a meal in itself, if you just want a bowlful with or without flatbreads on the side; and also makes the perfect accompaniment to other Indian dishes if you fancy a good old 'curry night'. 

Not only that, I think it's a pretty simple dish to make - you just throw the majority of the ingredients into a large pot and leave it to simmer away, and then just make a quick 'tarka' to add near the end, along with some wilted spinach.

This serves ten portions (of approximately 250g, depending on evaporation), so if you want to serve it as part of a selection of dishes, you can double that (or more!).

Calories: 273 calories per portion (if divided into ten) 2,729 calories for the whole batch (so if you're only having a ladleful in a ramekin sized dish with a selection of other things it would be nearer 150 calories).

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