Sunday, 5 February 2017

Healthy Banana and Blueberry Muffins - Grain Free and Refined Sugar Free

Moist and delicious blueberry muffins without the guilt of refined sugar and flour!


I do like to pick up a bargain when out shopping (you might have already noticed this), and a bunch of very ripe bananas together with a punnet of blueberries picked up at the end of the day will give you a nice batch of muffins for the week (plus enough to freeze the extras!).


On top of this, I've been playing with different ways to bake tasty treats for my children without using wheat flour, as we found out not-so-long-ago that my daughter can no longer eat it. Plus, there's no harm in anyone cutting refined sugar out of their diets! There are of course natural sugars in the fruit, and the honey, so it's not a sugar free treat, therefore they are healthy compared with conventional muffins, and still to be eaten in moderation!

However, because of the high protein content in these muffins from the eggs and nuts, they are satisfyingly filling, so just one will keep you going for a while! 

Makes approximately 30 muffins. 140 calories per muffin (extra for optional crunchy topping, calories in square brackets).

Hearty Shepherd's Pie (including Instant Pot Pressure Cooker method)

There are few things more comforting for lamb lovers, than a decent Shepherd's pie!


After cooking an enormous (for us!) leg of lamb, I really wanted to make the most of the leftovers in a tasty dish everyone would love, including using up the lamb stock I had made from the bones too (although a decent lamb stock cube will do a good job too).


Shepherd's pie is such a classic way of using up roast leftovers, and really did ours justice. We like to cook our lamb leg roasts pink, and after braising in the sauce the meat leftovers came out really tender cooked this way, so I'd highly recommend it. I usually make Shepherd's pie from raw minced lamb, as there aren't generally enough leftovers after a roast for a decent-sized pie, but it's definitely worth making extra for this!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Cottage Pie (with Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker method)

Delicious, homely, comfort food for the whole family.


Who doesn't have a fond memory of eating home-cooked cottage pie as a child, on a cold winter's day? It's one of those quintessentially English dishes that most of us probably grew up enjoying around the table with the rest of the family.


This is my traditional family recipe with a splash of ale in the gravy and delicious buttery mash, that we love to enjoy together, usually at the weekend. And not only have you got the recipe for the indulgent version, I've given you a suggested alternatives tip to make an equally delicious skinny version from only 313 calories a portion!

Serves six, 580 calories per portion (based on maximum amounts of ingredients below, butter and cheese in the mash, and butter dotted on top. Adjust calories if grating cheese on top). If you only ate a smaller portion, i.e. an eighth, it would be 435 calories per portion.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Speedy Salmon, Broccoli and Leek Crustless Quiche

With only a handful of ingredients you can easily make a healthy and tasty lunch, dinner or lunchbox treat.


Salmon and broccoli is a classic combination, and when I threw this together for dinner, everyone loved it and it was so simple I had to share it.



The irony is, when the other half went shopping tonight, I asked him to pick up a (gluten free) quiche, as I was tired and didn't want to faff about cooking anything too complicated - and while he was out, I was looking through the fridge and found a pack of smoked salmon and some broccoli and Greek yoghurt that needed using so... er.... I had made a crustless version by the time he got back!! (Good job too really, as they had ran out of GF quiches). It's not a classic quiche of course, but it's a very tasty alternative, which is much healthier, easier, and quicker to put together. Mere minutes of preparation before popping it into the oven to bake while you do other things.

Serves four, 210 calories per serving.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Quick Chinese Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

This tasty soup is so simple to make, it is quicker to rustle it up yourself than pop to your nearest takeaway and bring one back!


Plus when you make it yourself, you know what's in it - and I like to make my version a little more filling and flavourful than the versions I've had in some Chinese eateries, which can err on the side of insipid at times. It's also a great way to use up roast chicken leftovers (although you might need to adjust the calories, if you're counting!).


We had this for our Chinese New Year starter (followed by my favourite of beef in black bean sauce) - the added bonus of making it at home being that I knew it was safe for my daughter to eat as I could guarantee it was gluten free - which won't make a difference to most people, as it's mostly a case of just making sure you use gluten free soy sauce (or tamari) instead. And before anyone says anything, my apologies to anyone of Chinese descent for the authenticity of this soup... it's very popular in the UK!

Serves four people from 195 calories a portion. (A quarter portion weighs around 350g, so you could make them smaller to serve more, e.g. six portions of 235g and reduce the calories to 130 if you like!).

Bacon Wrapped Herbed Sausagemeat Stuffing Roll (can be gluten free)

A moist and delicious way to have your stuffing with roast dinners, with a tasty bacon wrapping.


This is really delicious served with roast dinners such as roast chicken, turkey, guinea fowl or pork Even better, to make life easy, you can even prepare this a day or two in advance so you have less to do on the day! I started making stuffing in a roll like this (too many) years ago, and it was so successful I've carried on, and thought I'd blog it now for posterity (and everyone else to enjoy)!


I do like a bit of stuffing, and/or a couple of 'pigs in blankets' with roast poultry or pork, but I must confess that sometimes my pigs in blankets might get a little too cosy in the oven (I get easily distracted and sometimes they are a little charred if I forget about them for ten minutes)! Wrapping the sausagemeat stuffing in bacon and cooking it this way means that you get all the flavours of pigs in blankets, and stuffing, and you don't need to worry so much about them in the oven, as it's more forgiving and turns out nice and moist inside.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Creamy Parsnip and Leek Soup with Lemon, Turmeric and Coriander

This unusual combination gives a surprisingly delicious and creamy soup with subtle Thai flavours.


This soup was created as a result of what was in the fridge that needed using up - at this time of year, after the weekend has passed (think roast dinners), things like parsnips tend to get sold off cheap and can be just too much of a bargain to resist at times! (I might just happen to have a bit of a 'yellow sticker' habit!). 


So I thought I'd do something a bit different with them for a change, and it turned out delicious! If you're not the biggest fan of parsnips, don't worry, the flavour is very delicate - they mostly just add a velvety, creamy texture to the soup. Or feel free to substitute with something like sweet potatoes, butternut squash or similar (remembering to adjust the calories if you're counting).

Serves six to eight, 135 to180 calories per portion (a smaller portion is around 275g if dividing into eight, a larger portion is around 370g if dividing into six). Chicken is extra.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Hearty Ham and Lentil Soup

A really delicious and filling soup that's easy to make and great for the family


This soup is amazingly tasty, given the simplicity of the ingredients - the secret is using a really tasty ham stock, and I carefully saved mine from cooking the Christmas ham, with the express intention of making soup. I made up the quantity of stock to what I needed using a couple of ham stock cubes as well, and you can of course make it just using stock cubes - Knorr do a good ham stock cube, and it's gluten and dairy free as well.


I was originally planning on this being a simple smooth soup (which is why I didn't add any actual ham meat to it, but of course you could easily cube some ham and add it at the end to warm through - especially if you cooked a big joint for Christmas or the New Year and want to use it up!) - however, as you can see, it's not, because when I tasted it once the lentils were cooked, it was so good I decided to leave it just as it was! See what you think... I may yet blitz a batch up, just to find out if it tastes as good smooth!

Serves eight, for 172 calories per serving (approximately 300-350g depending on how much liquid evaporates / is added).

Easy Ham and Cannellini Bean Soup (Gluten and Dairy Free)

A tasty, healthy soup that you can throw together for a nutritious light meal


Well, this was going to be ham and lentil soup, until I realised that my dried red lentils weren't actually gluten free (my daughter can't eat gluten) and I had to think of a quick substitute as things were already cooking away and I didn't want to waste my precious ham stock from cooking the Christmas ham (Knorr stock cubes are good too if you don't happen to have your own ham stock lying around)!


Luckily there are always various tins of beans in the cupboard here, so I substituted some cannellini beans in part of the broth so she could eat it, and put the lentils in the remainder (next blog!) for the rest of the family. You don't have to use cannellini beans, you could use butter beans, haricot or any other mild and creamy tasting white bean. It turned out really tasty, so I thought I'd share the recipe!

Serves four to six, from 93 calories per serving for a smaller portion (six smaller portions at around 250g each, or four larger portions at around 400g each - exact weight depends on how much liquid has evaporated overall) or 139 calories for a larger portion.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Festive Beard Oil Recipe

A subtly fragranced beard oil with a hint of Christmas scent from the frankincense.


This doesn't just have to be a Christmas gift, it's a great gift to give to your favourite bearded men any time - at other times you could switch the frankincense oil for a change (suggestions below).


Makes six 10ml bottles of beard oil, or four 15ml bottles of beard oil - you can easily halve the recipe if you like. Do not be tempted to increase the ratio of essential oils to carrier oils.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Salted Caramel Fudge (for the Thermomix)

This was without a doubt everyone's favourite fudge last year!


I'm pretty sure there's a reason salted caramel in one form and another has become so prevalent everywhere - and that's because it tastes absolutely divine!


This is my version, tweaked to our preferences and mostly blogged for my own ailing memory, and for my children to be able to find my recipe (because who knows where those scraps of hastily scribbled on paper disappear to!). If you're cooking strictly gluten free, check the chocolate label carefully to ensure it hasn't been made in a factory handling wheat etc. See the notes at the bottom for some nutty suggestions!

If you want to make a selection of fudge, why not try my Chocolate Cookies and Cream Fudge and Festive Fudge with Cranberry and Pistachio recipes too?

Chocolate Cookies and Cream Fudge (for the Thermomix)

Fudge is one of those deliciously decadent treats that people love to make at Christmas - both to eat themselves and as gifts for others. 


Who doesn't love chocolate, and cookies, which make a great monochrome combination that looks very attractive when cut up into cubes and popped into pretty packaging for gifts.



This is my version, tweaked to our preferences and mostly blogged for my own ailing memory, and for my children to be able to find my recipe (because who knows where those scraps of hastily scribbled on paper disappear to!).

If you want to make a selection of fudge, why not try my Salted Caramel Fudge and Festive Fudge with Cranberry and Pistachio recipes too?

Festive Fudge with Cranberry and Pistachio (for the Thermomix)

Fudge is one of those deliciously decadent treats that people love to make at Christmas - both to eat themselves and as gifts for others. 


Cranberry and pistachio makes a really delicious and colourful combination, which looks beautiful when cut up into cubes and popped into pretty packaging for gifts.


This is my version of festive fudge, tweaked to our preferences and mostly blogged for my own ailing memory, and for my children to be able to find my recipe (because who knows where those scraps of hastily scribbled on paper disappear to!). If you're cooking strictly gluten free, you will need to ensure you have an appropriate brand of white chocolate (check the label for 'may contain...', as some chocolate is processed in factories handling wheat etc.), and also check the nuts to be on the safe side.



If you want to make a selection of fudge, why not try my Salted Caramel Fudge and Chocolate Cookies and Cream Fudge recipes too?

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas Spiced Honey Roast Almonds (includes Thermomix instructions)

A delicious treat, perfect for serving up to guests with festive drinks, or packing up for Christmas gifts in pretty jars.


Beware, these are incredibly more-ish! And pretty easy to make too, so don't say I didn't warn you!


They do last a few weeks, but I don't think you'll be needing to worry about that - more about not eating them all in one sitting!

You can substitute your favourite nuts if you'd rather not use almonds, just keep an eye on them in the oven. Skin on almonds work particularly well, as the glaze adhers to the crinkly skin of the almond nicely.

Christmas Pudding Truffles (can be gluten free, includes Thermomix method)

Fun canapes, or a festive gift.


Inspired by pretty truffles I'd seen made last year with leftover Christmas pudding, I wanted to make something similar, but using the small fruit cakes that are widely available - and also available gluten free so making it even more accessible (do check the labels on the chocolate you use though, as some bars are prepared in factories handling wheat)!

           

If you don't want to use alcohol, you could just use pure apple, orange or pomegranate juice depending on your preference. I recommend using foodsafe gloves to roll up the balls as I feel it is much easier to handle them as well as being more hygienic, and you won't get into a sticky mess!

Makes around 25 truffles.

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