Gluten free eating has been bang on trend recently. Why? There is a thought that gluten affects weight, causes bloating and is commonly poorly digested. However, often it is not actually gluten that is the issue. There can be several other explanations, for example: large portions of carbohydrate foods can cause bloating, just because of the amount of food in one sitting. In those suffering from IBS, the issue is unlikely to be gluten, but that of FODMAPS, which include wheat, lactose, beans, pulses, plus certain fruits and vegetables. Another key reason can be the overall diet. Eating a diet that is high in packaged, processed foods can cause symptoms that then disappear when you remove gluten. Why? Because why gluten is removed, your whole diet changes. It is not gluten that is always the culprit, take a look at this clip from Food Truth or Scare for more.
Gluten free foods can be: 👉 lower in fibre. 👉 higher in fat. 👉higher in sugars 👉higher in calories. 👉lower in B vitamins. 👉lower in iron 👉often they are not wholegrain.
Therefore gluten free foods are not healthier! Of course if you are gluten free for medical reasons you may need to have these foods but you can also use grains such as buckwheat and quinoa to provide your wholegrains. So it also doesn’t mean you can’t have a great healthy diet and be gluten free, it just require more planning and thought. Top advice: only go gluten-free if you absolutely need to.
I’m forever loving the idea of veggie burgers but am often disappointed by the result. You know what I mean… they fall apart or just look disappointing. In the back of my brain I have this memory of the burgers I used to eat when I was vegetarian as a teenager. In my head they were delicious, not homemade, but delicious and that is one of my benchmarks. My other benchmark is the burger they make in a cafe we sometimes end up at – a portabello mushroom with halloumi cheese and spinach. Just the most perfect combo.
So after a holiday I’ve come back inspired to try out new recipes and the veggie burger idea was back. Taking a few hints from the River Cottage guys these burgers not only tasted good, held together well and were completely eaten, but my small people also had fun helping to make them. GENIUS. Get the kids to do the dirty work 😉
Here is the recipe. It’s a great way to get your veggies in. I’ve worked it out as being 1 portion of vegetables per burger, if you make them large. This recipe made 8 and I served 2 per adult, 1 per child, but my 5 year old and husband came back for seconds!
Recently I was very pleased to be passed on some kale. A fair amount of kale that needed using quick, so we’ve been going a bit kaletastic.
Salmon and kale = one of those winning combo’s in my mind. It turns out the small people agreed with me and hoovered up their dinner. One happy mummy as they got a whole heap of goodness from this meal. This was also our first meal eating al-fresco this year. Love love love.
It always surprises me that the J-boy who is not always the keenest vegetable eater will happily eat his greens when mixed into meals. If you have a child who isn’t keen on veggies then try this out on them. Sometimes having your veggies on the side makes them harder to eat, so I tend to incorporate them into as many main meals as I can and then add some on the side too.
Kale: Packed with vitamins C and A (1 cup provides over 200% of the RDA for vitamin A and over 100% of vitamin C), also providing calcium, vitamin B6 and some iron. Kale contains the powerful antioxidants beta-carotene, quercetin and kaempferol. These have numerous health benefits including fighting cancer, oxidative damage to the body, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing.
Salmon: Omega 3’s, one of the unsung heroes of our diets. These can help protect against heart disease, play a role in helping treat depression and are important for the development of a baby. You want to be including these in your meal plan 1-2 times a week if possible, once only if you are pregnant. Oily fish are the best known source but linseeds, walnuts and tofu are some alternatives.
Sesame seeds: High in calcium and iron content, magnesium and B6. I included these for the texture and the calcium and iron content as I am in the late stages of pregnancy so always thinking about keeping my iron and calcium stores up. Call me paranoid….
Place the salmon in a pan with the milk, allow it to poach for 10 minutes. Then strain the milk into a jug, get as much liquid as you can out of the fish. You can keep this to use in another recipe such as a cheese sauce.
Meanwhile chop up the kale and chives.
Now break up the fish into small flakes, mix with the kale, chives, pepper and egg. The mixture should be wet but not sloppy as you want to be able to shape it into balls.
Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish, mix in the sesame seeds.
Roll spoonfuls in you hands into balls, then drop into the breadcrumb mix and roll the fish ball in it.
Place onto a lined baking tray and pop into the fridge for an hour to firm up. (Make ahead up to this point).
You know those moments when you have a craving for chocolate? For me it is usually mid afternoon, that lull part of the day. Or just before teaching a class, when I need a pick-me-up and energy boost. So I created these beauties to help me, as I’m kind I thought I would share 😉 Now who wants one?
Note: these are delicious and easy to make, but you do get messy hands!
Packed with nuts and dried fruit I find these great to grab 1 of as I’m on my way to teach a class. My children like them as part of their pudding calling them “chocolate balls”.
Miss K: “Mummy can I have more of those chocolate balls? I wasn’t sure about them on first bite but they are scrummy”
Shall I tell her they don’t actually have chocolate in them?
Cocao Power Balls
A power packed healthy treat with that chocolatey hit.
It’s not often I get inspired to make brownies. Don’t get me wrong, I love a brownie, but they generally aren’t the healthiest thing you can bake and once you make a batch you have to eat them, right? So it’s usually flapjack in my cake tin.
However this week Miss K brought home a lentil brownie recipe in her bag from school and it intrigued me. Lentil in a brownie? Surely not.
I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to lower the sugar and next time I would definitely add in pecans. You can’t beat a pecan in a brownie.
These were a hands down winner. Easy to make (as long as you have lentils already cooked or cook them earlier in the day) and they baked whilst we ate dinner. I gave one to my hubby, he looked at me suspiciously and took a bite, then with a surprised voice told me they were really good. My poor family have to try a lot of dud baking as well as the good bits!
None of my children or husband even noticed the lentils. I had a faint taste of them, but I had made them so was probably a bit sensitive to the taste. A great way to lower the glycaemic index and make a higher protein version of a chocolate brownie.
This week Miss K has started school! Oh My Days, how did she get to be so grown up? We’ve spent a couple of weeks getting all the uniform ready and talking through what happens when you go to school, preparing as best we can. She went from extreme excitement, to being anxious, full of tears and needing a lot of cuddles, back to being excited. Thankfully so far the first week has gone well. A few tears but nothing major.
So now with quieter house and the “crackers and cheese” girl out for lunch I’ve started to focus more on making our lunches more exciting and more delicious. I’m also on a move to make the hubster eat healthily. Wish me luck 😉
I pretty much love quinoa. It’s wheat free, it’s got a great texture and it is high protein which makes it filling. So this lunch is a perfect one if you have a busy afternoon and need fuel to keep you going. Both hubby and I had lunch and literally sat there saying “Wow that was delicious and filling”. I ate it before teaching my many Pilates classes and was full until teatime (which is a small miracle).
I cooked the quinoa at breakfast time whilst we ate our cereal and left it with the lid on until after the school run. It was then a doddle to chop up all the veggies, mix in and leave in the fridge until lunch.
Tuna, Avocado and Quinoa Salad
A filling, satisfying and tasty lunch for home or lunchboxes.
It’s been a rainy summers week, so I felt the need to pimp up my own flapjack recipe to cheer us up. It’s a healthier take on a full fat, full syrup flapjack, perfect for a cuppa on a rainy day. What is even better is that I used peanut butter in it so my hubby won’t touch it 😉 I love using peanut butter in baking as it is lower in saturated fats, higher in the heart healthier monounsaturates and it also adds protein to help with satiety. The oats provide low glycaemic index carbs which can help stabilise blood sugars so also helping to keep you fuller for longer. It should provide for a healthy snack that will tide you over until your next meal.
Recipe creation for me provides an outlet for creativity and is almost a form of therapy as I switch off from “work” and get inspired by what is around me. It’s actually something I sometimes recommend to eating disorder clients, but they don’t have to eat it unless they want to. Often they love looking at recipes, love creating things and so being given the green light to go ahead and make things but not have to eat them can be quite releasing.
So here is my latest flapjack. It’s a keeper. It is also wheat free, gluten free (if you use gluten free oats) and can be made dairy free if you use the right chocolate. GENIUS.
We’ve just had a wonderful week away in France, where all the food was cooked for us. I love being cooked for. One of the days we had rhubarb crumble. Rhubarb is one of those fruits that I adore but don’t cook very often as the rest of the family are not as keen on it as I am. I love the tart flavour and the way it perfectly compliments custard, another of my favourite foods!
On coming back home we have all felt pretty exhausted. Such is the joy of a holiday and travelling with small children (one of whom did not sleep at all well all week). However after a week out of the kitchen and a week of no flapjack, my creative side was itching to get going. So instead of sitting on the sofa and dozing, like I should have done, I remembered a neglected bag of rhubarb in my freezer. It was literally shouting out to me cooked up into an oaty, crunchy, crispsy, chewy delight. I took inspiration from crumble, a rhubarb crisp recipe that came to me from childhood and my beloved flapjack.
This isn’t any ordinary flapjack. This is rhubarb cooked to a jam consistency, layered ontop of a soft oaty base, topped with crispy oaty bits. I’ll admit I was unsure about the peanut butter, but you know what? It works! Both my kids are instant fans, rhubarb is back on the menu!
A few shots of baking in action:
The rhubarb layer goes on.
The finished product:
Rhubarb Crumble Squares
Naturally sweetened rhubarb on a soft oaty base with a crunchy oat crumble on top. No added sugars. Plenty of natural sweetness and wholegrain goodness.
We recently acquired a whole heap of apples, I am just one of those people who cannot say no to free food, especially when it is fresh fruit/vegetables. So this weekend I’m working my way througb trying out a few apple recipes, there may be a bit of apple overload on my bog. Apologies. It’s good to be seasonal though isn’t it.
I love Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Today a quick apple search reminded me of apple crisps which I tried to make once before and was very disappointed. With so many apples to hand and some time to read through a number of different techniques I decided to revisit the idea. This time I was successful. So successful that my first batch were greedily devoured by the toddler very quickly and I have to make more.
If you have a few hours at home and its a bit cold, why not try this out as it will warm up the kitchen and make your house smell delicious too. I’ve now got a pot of these ready for snacks throughout the week.
Healthy apple crisps, easy to make but take time to cook.
This week my Archchi came to visit. This is my Sri-lankan grandmother, fondly known to the whole family as Archchi (granny in Singhala). She lives in London and has the greenest fingers of anyone I know. Years ago she had 2 allotments, now its just her garden that produces mainly vegetables, lots of vegetables. From her recent visit I ended up with 3kg cherry tomatoes, 3 red cabbages, a large carrier bag full of apples and a pile of greens plus coriander. Lush.
The cherry tomatoes were at the stage of needing to be eaten so I decided to roast them with garlic, rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Top this off with sausages and you have a super simple, yet tasty meal. Went down very well with the family and I got the comments of “succulent, tasty and satisfying” from the husband, followed but mmmmmm from the toddler. Praise indeed.
I used gluten free sausages for ours and served it with rice but you could serve it with pasta, polenta or mashed potato.
Sausage and Roasted Tomato Bake
A simple to make but super tasty one tray sausage and tomato bake.