Monday, May 27, 2013

Recipe - Reduced-sugar, gluten-free and dairy-free spiced cookies

4oz (114g) brown rice flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
3oz (85g) dairy-free margarine (plus extra for greasing)
1oz (28g) Truvia
3 1/2 oz (100g) raw cane or golden caster sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp non-dairy milk such as coconut milk or rice milk
5 oz (142g) gluten-free oats
3oz (85g) raisins

Mix the flour, spices and baking powder in a large bowl. One at a time, add the margarine, truvia, sugar, egg, and milk, beating until smooth with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the oats and raisins.
Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and lightly flour 2 baking sheets using a non-dairy fat and gluten-free flour.

Put tablespoons of the mixture onto the sheets and press down lightly. Bake for 12 minutes until golden brown then put onto a wire-rack to cool.

Makes about a dozen.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Finally - a break in the rain

The rhubarb is looking rather sparse this year. Not sure if that is down to the long cold spring or if it has just been over-harvested or is getting old - it has been feeding us for many years. Just taking enough for one crumble this year and leaving the rest to grow. Whenever I get my gardening knife out I have the urge to utter THAT Indiana Jones line lol.

Blossom on the baby apple trees. Late but plentiful.

Redcurrants look to be coming along nicely, as do the gooseberries.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Yorkshire - Brimham Rocks

Lovely afternoon at Brimham Rocks. Not far from Harrogate. Parking costs £4/£5. There's loos, the usual sort of visitor's shop, and a refreshment kiosk that sells pies/pasties and cakes at really quite reasonable prices. It's a country park with some amazing rock formations and some Heather Moors, and bilberries.
If you are in Yorkshire and want to pop over here's a linky to the website:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Jamie Oliver Wok Review

A few weeks ago I decided to treat myself to a new wok as the last one I owned had bitten the dust.  I am a big fan of stir-fries. I opted for the Jamie Oliver Wok from Debenhams as it was on offer.  I fell in love with the feel of it when I picked it up. Some kitchen utensils just feel so right in your hand, and this was one of them.

It feels really sturdy. I love the size of the flat base compared to the sides, it seems just the right shape for stirring and tossing the ingredients whilst being nice and stable. I have had it a few weeks now and it is in use several times a week and still seems like new. Very happy with this one.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Recipe - Raw strawberry chocolate tart

This dessert is raw, healthy, wheat-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

For the base:
1 cup of hazlenuts - soaked 4 hrs or overnight
1 cup dates - soaked 4 hrs or overnight
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 tablespoon cacao powder
4 handfulls strawberries plus a few to decorate
2 tablespoons lucuma powder
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To make the base combine all the ingredients in a food processor until starting to hold together then press into a 7" flan dish or tin. Place in fridge and chill for a couple of hours before making topping.

A quick note on ingredients - lucuma powder is a natural sweetener made from a Peruvian fruit. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and has a mild caramel/toffee sort of taste. You can buy it from health food shops and on ebay. The nut butter I use is a raw nut butter, though of course the recipe would work with any nut butter. Most nut butters, indeed most nuts, will have had some form of heat treatment. Raw nut butters do have a more intense taste and, it is believed by raw food fans like myself, are better for you.

Whizz the strawberries with a blender (excluding those for decoration). Add the lucuma and whizz some more. Finally, the nut butter and vanilla essence, it will take a little while for the mixture to go pale and creamy looking.

Spread the topping on the base. Decorate with the strawberries that were reserved and chill for at least half an hour before serving.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Recipe - mushroom and cheese risotto

This is a very simple risotto, with no wine, so highly suited to children, but do use a well-flavoured stock. A favourite of my (now grown up) kids, it's so quick and easy to make and inexpensive too.

Ingredients - to serve 2:
4oz (115g)  mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1tblspn olive oil
350ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4oz (115g) arborio rice
2oz (56g) strong cheddar, grated
black pepper

Heat the olive oil and saute the mushrooms and garlic.

Add the rice, stirring it in until it is well coated. Then add a good glug of the stock so that the rice is moist and there is a little more liquid for it to soak up.

As the rice soaks up the stock keep adding another glug until the rice is plump and tender. (about 20 mins). You need to keep adding stock and stirring, so this is a good dish to make when you are pottering about doing something else nearby.
Stir in the grated cheese, and 2-3 'twists' of black pepper then serve.

For more cheap recipes check out FussFreeFlavours , FabFood4all, and Lancashire Food

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Easy natural body scrubs

Making cheap, natural body scrubs is the easiest thing ever.
Here are two examples, one for the bath and one for the shower:

For the bath:
I  keep this mixture fairly dry as the idea is to stand in the bath and give your skin a good rub and allow the salts mixture to fall into the bath where you can soak in it.

Mix equal parts of sea salt with epsom salts. Epsom salts are wonderful to add to the bath for soaking. They draw toxins out through the skin and the magnesium in them is easily absorbed through the skin. A good reason to be aware of what we put on our bodies is the fact that the skin does absorb an awful lot - think of medical patches. You can buy epsom salts at chemists and garden centres but I use a lot and find them cheapest to buy in bulk on ebay. Now add essential oils of your choice. If you want a relaxing blend to help you sleep, a mixture of rose, jasmine, and lavender is lovely. Pure rose oil is very expensive, and I wouldn't use it for this as I like to add a good amount of oils - let your nose guide you, so I buy a 5% dilution. You can buy pretty jars if you like but I prefer to save money and be a bit greener by re-using whatever glass jars I have saved. If you have dry skin and want more oil without going overboard with the scent add a little almond or olive oil. Just mix well.

For the shower:
I prefer an oilier mix for the shower so it clings to my skin a bit longer and it leaves my skin wonderfully soft.
Also, it is not worthwhile adding epsom salts which are more expensive than sea-salt as they will not be in contact with the skin long enough to be really beneficial, particularly as they are not dissolved when you rub the mixture on. For this job I mix a little coconut oil with sea salt - a mix of fine and course feels most comfortable when rubbing onto the skin. For a nice zingy shower to start the day I like to use citrus oils such as lemon and sweet orange. If the coconut oil is solid, melt it by standing a container in a bowl of hot water. I use about a teaspoon full of oil to a cup of salt. Again add the essential oils to suit your own nose.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Recipe - Flax Crackers

Probably one of the first recipes anyone who buys a dehydrator will make. A raw, healthy, gluten and dairy-free alternative to crackers. They taste great, nice and crunchy (I love them with hummous and raw spreads - recipes to come later) and cost pennies to make if you can find a cheap supply of seeds. I pay £2.29 for a whole kg but I do buy my health food supplies in bulk (more on that later too).  You can add a variety of other nuts and/or seeds and, if you have a juicer, can incorporate the veg pulp into your crackers. The important ingredient is the flax crackers as they go glutinous, which sticks everything together. You can season with all sorts of herbs and/or spices However, lets start with a very simple recipe:

I cup flax seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup cashews
sea salt and black pepper

Put the dry ingredients into a blender or food processor and whizz to break down the nuts and seeds. You can do this quite finely or leave it rougher depending on the texture you would like in your crackers.

Add enough water to make an easily spreadable mixture. Using a plastic spatula, scoop out dollops and spread into cracker-shaped pieces (whatever size you would like) onto paraflex sheets or baking paper.

Dehydrate for several hours, at about 40 degrees C, until they feel firm enough to peel off the backing then place straight onto the dehydrator trays and dehydrate until nice and crunchy. I usually do mine for about a day and a half to two days.

If you are thinking of buying a dehydrator, read my Stockli review here: Stockli dehydrator review