Saturday, 25 September 2010

I'm moving!

I thought it was time to make a move... but only elsewhere on the internet! When I started this blog, I thought Blogger was the way to go but Wordpress looks MUCH better - so that's where I am... please come too : )

Friday, 24 September 2010

Appley ever after

It's been a loooonggg week.

I've been late at work a few nights (only got to ride twice) and then I had to go to a council meeting last night. That's not unusual and this one finished fairly early at 8.15pm - I've had a few major ones run till 1am! - but that means not getting home till gone 9pm : (

Luckily, I had half a butternut-prawn-mushroom-spinach frittata-thing I'd made the night before so it was easy to heat it up and steam some veg to go with it.

But another thing I do most nights is make the next morning's breakfast - porridge! There's been a slight, er, theme running through this week's bowls...

In the words of Rolf Harris: "Can you guess what it is yet?" : )

Getting warmer...

All down to this...

The first picture is what I started with and had twice but forgot to photograph till halfway through the second bowlful! Oats and oatbran, cooked with 1tsp cocoa and water with a mashed-melted banana and 2tsp hazelnut butter mixed in afterwards...

The second picture is what made the third! I had some coconut oil chocolate (coconut oil, cocoa and maple syrup) in the freezer, so I cooked the oats without cocoa, then melted a little chunk of the chocolate with the mashed banana and stirred it in - so chocolatey!

I also tried, but forgot to photograph, cooking the oats/bran with 1tbsp ground almonds and the cocoa, then adding the banana. This was definitely the most filling.

And - the little non-chocolatey island of the week - this:

I'd stewed some apples and suddenly thought that was worth trying. I made the oats plain, then stirred in a big dollop of stewed apple with some almond butter. It was very nice but did NOT cut the mustard in such an otherwise chocolate-fest of a week...

The funny thing is, even though I know it's healthy, my brain refuses to accept that anything tasting of chocolate can be good for you in the morning! But I'll soldier bravely on on the same theme : )

I'm thinking coconut/chocolate in some form next or *sudden blinding flash of inspiration* a chocolate breakfast cookie...

To be continued!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Home-grown bliss

My dad is the best. Of course, I would say that! But as well as his general amazing dadlike qualities, he loves gardening; growing food and almost ordering people to eat it : )

I've been enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of his labour for months; from asparagus to soft fruit, peas, beans, carrots, courgettes, cauliflower, you name it.

He's not into growing flowers but some of the veg, like this red cabbage and these unusual-looking but great-tasting carrots, are so beautiful, he doesn't need to!

But the part of his garden I've had my beady eye on for weeks is this...


As a serious butternut addict, this is the vegetable equivalent of some hard stuff... : ) 
And it's not just butternuts; he's sown loads of different seeds, with a "let's see what they are when they grow" approach, woop!

I don't really eat potatoes, as I can never be bothered to cook them! But recently, I've been using squash almost as a potato equivalent. This fact, and the fact there was some salmon in the freezer which needed eating, led me to last night's dinner - colouful fish pie...

350g-ish fish (I used 260g salmon and a random fillet of something white from my freezer! It was probably pollock, which is like cod, and probably about 90g at a guess. But more fish and of any type would also be great)
Few bay leaves, etc
About 450g or more veg (I used about 320g butternut and 120g carrot) cubed
Pinch of garlic powder
Plain yoghurt (I used about half a 170g pot of total 0%)
1tsp wholegrain mustard
1 egg yolk
Splash of milk
About half a leek

Preheat overn to about 180C. Spray a roasting tin with cooking spray and put the fish in, with the bay leaves. I also used some lemon thyme, given to me by my neighbour.
Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until fish is cooked.
While it's in, cook the squash and carrots until tender.
Remove fish and put on a plate. Pour any juices into a bowl with the yoghurt, egg yolk, milk and mustard and mix.
Put fish back in the pan and pour in the "white sauce", mixing it in with the fish. Sprinkle chopped leeks on top.
Mash the cooked squash and carrots with the garlic and spread over the fish. Return to the oven for about 15 minutes, then grill at about the same temperature for another 5-10 minutes.

It was so nice! It was one of those recipes I thought might not work at all, as the mashed veg was obviously a lot less "solid" than potato mash but it tasted delicious! For more substance, I think a small potato or two mashed in would be great and actually I'd use a bit more mash next time anyway, as this amount made quite a thin layer.
It might also be nice to sprinkle on some grated parmesan before it goes in the grill, or to add some prawns and chopped hard-boiled eggs to the fish. If more fish/prawns etc was added, I'd use the whole pot of yoghurt too for more creaminess.
But definitely a winner overall. So much flavour and it looked much nicer than a boring white/yellow fish pie (in my humble opinion!) especially served with a rainbow of vegetables.

And talking of vegetables and home-grown joy, I couldn't end without sharing this dude, dug up last week.

Childish - but very entertaining! : )

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Chocolate for breakfast - twice!

Last week was pretty rubbish, all things considered! I had a horrible cold/flu/weakness lurgy, which lasted from Sunday till about Friday : (

So I planned a chilled weekend, but then remembered Dave and my friend's horse were due to be shod yesterday. The farrier never gives an exact time; he just said "after 11am". So I got there at 11.15 and he turned up about 12.45pm. Grrr.
By the time he'd finished, it was nearly 3pm so my friend and I got on the school to ride - and Dave threw me off! I've never known him do anything like it but he stood right up on his back legs, jumped and spun sideways and I landed right on my backside. Not impressed.

So when I woke up today, I felt realllly stiff and bruised and, as any good doctor will tell you, the only cure for that is chocolate. And fast.

So I made chocolate pancakes.

I mixed:

2 egg whites
2 tbsp oat bran
2tbsp water
1-2 tsp cocoa powder (I only used one but two would have been better)

I just mixed it all together, then cooked them in the omelette pan, sprayed with cooking spray, over a medium heat and flipped. These quantities would have made three crepes but I forgot to re-spray the pan after the first one so the second did NOT work : )

I then filled them with my all-time favourite - a mashed, microwaved banana and 2tsp amond butter *drool*

Granted, this picture does not make them look impressive AT ALL! But just think - chocolate, with oozy, almond-buttery banana. Could breakfast get any better?!

And also, the rubbishness of Saturday doesn't really give me an excuse for that morning's chocolate breakfast - oats, cooked with 1tsp cocoa powder and then mixed with half a mashed/melted banana and 1-2 tsp hazelnut butter but hey, who's asking? : )

Have a great week.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Bean there, done that!

Let me introduce a friend of mine, the Bamix:

We've known each other a while now. It started a year or so ago, when I went through a phase of making cakes which replaced flour and butter with ground nuts. My mum kindly lent me her own Bamix but, after I'd stolen borrowed it a few times, she got so sick of it was so keen to spread the joy, she bought me one for Christmas.

Since then, I've used it A LOT. The sharp blade fits on a spike in the mill, then you slot in the handset and away you go; it grinds those nuts, ahem, like no one's business! Then, I started using it to blend more and more different things and all was rosy.

But all relationships have their downsides and my only slight issue was the small capacity of the mill. Whenever I wanted to blend larger quantities, I had to burrow deep into the cupboard and haul out my old "food processor", handed down from my mum, HUGE and very heavy : (

Then, the other day, I realised I'd been having a very long-standing blonde moment. I was at my mum's and she was using hers - but without the mill! It turns out *confession time* it's actually intended as a hand blender. The mill/blade is only for grinding and had I looked in the box and read the manual, I would have realised there are loads of different attachments, perfect for blending, pureeeing, you name it! So when my mum stopped laughing at me, I got back home, found the attachments and have since been mixin' with the best of them.

It was perfect timing too. A thought had floated into my head a while ago that blended beans would make a great porridge. As I've got a head like a sieve and couldn't be bothered with the prehistoric blender, the thought floated straight back out again but Katie's recent recipe reminded me of it. She's also currently running a giveaway of Larabars, for anyone who's interested : )

So... Into the blender went:

60g cannelini beans
Splash of vanilla extract
Splash of milk.
Half a mashed, microwaved banana
Tiny pinch salt

I blended away and then stuck my finger in. And it was really nice! Creamy, smooth and banana-y but the beans give it a great texture and kind of depth (if that doesn't sound too poncy!)

I mixed in 1tsp almond butter and a drizzle of maple syrup and it made the perfect breakfast! would have made the perfect breakfast if I had been less greedy : )

Thanks Katie!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Autumn is here


That's my reaction to the weather; I'm not impressed. After a wet and miserable August, September is proving to be, wait for it, wet and miserable! Hmmph.

But Sunday was beautiful I suppose, so I can't moan too much. I took Dave out jumping and although it was his first show inside for months and I'd hardly had time to work him last week, he was a star, only knocking down one fence in the jump-off (although I was struggling with a slight braking issue total lack of control by that point!)

There were loads of people there too so I was starving when I got home but had loads to do. First up was making something to take for lunch this week. After months of crackers, crepes and crispbreads of various types, I was struck by a craving for sandwiches. I recently made some of my gluten-free wraps but, although they taste great and have a nice chewy texture, they're a real pain to make because the dough's soooo sticky!

Then two thoughts drifted into my head. One was a fat-free banana bread I've made hundreds of times. It's gluten-free (and delicious) and, although it has the texture of cake more than bread, it holds together well, which ain't common with gluten-free loaves!

The other thought was a vision of the ridiculous size and number of courgettes taking over my dad's vegetable patch - they're HUGE!

So, I present to you.... courgette bread sandwiches!

Apologies in advance for using a nasty word but the bread is moist *shudder*, holds together and tastes nice! The only slight problem, and the reason I'm not going to put the recipe up yet, is, that is a very small side plate - the loaf is tiny!

So I'm looking on it as a "work in progress" : )  Updates to follow, if I can improve it. If I never mention it again, you know why!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Inspiration, creation, salivation!

But before that, a word about a mental week! Back to work, editing, a reporter off, a completely uninspired work experence kid... aargh! At least, I thought as I left the office on Friday, it's the weekend...

But that night, my laptop had a SECOND argument with a cup of tea (I'm such an idiot!) and it came off worse. So I had to buy another one yesterday : (

Then, a group of us went out last night for one friend's birthday and another one's "welcome back to the world" after having a baby. But the manager of the restaurant we'd picked said they couldn't guarantee anything on the menu was safe for me to eat. So I ended up with a bowl of olives for dinner! It didn't matter too much though as I made up for it when I got home. Possibly 1am wasn't the best time to shovel down baked squash custard with almond butter, followed by Cadbury's chocolate raisins but it definitely hit the spot...

Anyway - cake!

As well as my official job, my unoffical role at work is that of office cake-maker, which is fine with me!

It was our photographer's birthday at the weekend and I knew he'd be in today so I started thinking about what sort of cake I wanted to make and chocolate was the clear winner : )

I've made butter, flour and oil-free ones, using ground nuts, but suddenly wanted to see if I could make a completely fat-free chocolate cake...

And there it is!

I knew kind-of what I wanted to do but couldn't find a recipe anywhere so I guessed, estimated and hoped - and it worked...

Preheat oven to 180c and grease and line two 9-inch loose-bottomed sandwich tins

4 eggs, separated
95g flour (I used 60g rice flour, 35 cornflour and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
120g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder

Sift flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and cocoa powder together to make sure well blended and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. In a separate bowl, beat yolks and sugar together till creamy. Gently fold in the egg whites, in about four goes, then gently fold in the flour/cocoa mixture, taking care not to over-mix. Pour into tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cakes are starting to shrink away from the sides. Leave to cool in tins, then gently turn out on to a wire rack.


15g dark chocolate
100g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia Extra Light)
125g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Tiny pinch salt

Melt chocolate in the microwave and beat cheese till creamy. Add melted chocolate and beat again. Add vanilla and salt and blend, then stir in sugar and blend. Spread over the top of one cake and sandwich the two together.

WARNING: I used this recipe and it was A.Mazing. But it makes much too much for a cake this size and if you can resist shovelling the rest straight from pan to mouth, you've got much better self control than I have : )
I think 3/4 or 2/3 these quantities would be plenty and still leave enough for the cook to, erm, sample it...

85g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
4 tbsp evaporated milk (I used Sainsbury's own light version)
185g icing sugar

Put milk and chocolate in a thick-bottomed pan and stir over a low heat. Once chocolate has melted, stir in icing sugar until well blended, then pour over cake. It'll set to an amazing shiny finish...

(Obviously these toppings make this gluten-, fat- and dairy-free cake not dairy free at all! But I think blended silken tofu would make a brilliantly creamy filling if used in place of the Philadelphia. Also, I think coconut milk would make a perfect, and delicious, substitute for the evaporated milk)

Well, what can I say? The boys in the office are hard to please when it comes to cake but all of them said it was the best cake I'd ever made (although that could just mean the others were rubbish!) And not a piece was left...

Monday, 6 September 2010

And now for something completely different...

Ok, so in the interests of accuracy, I need to point out that "slightly different" would be better than "completely" but how often do you get the chance to use a Monty Python quote?!

And "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy" just wouldn't have worked as a title for this post... : )

Anyway! Does anyone else ever get the urge to make/eat something you haven't had for ages, if ever? That's what I had on Saturday; a compulsion to make polenta porridge for breakfast (weird).

Polenta, or fine cornmeal, was promoted to me a lot when I was first diagnosed coeliac but I'd only ever used it in a couple of cakes (to good effect; it gives a nice sandy texture). But it's a very versatile ingredient. You can use it as flour, bake it as a bread (and then saute the slices for a toast-like effect, serve it as a pasta or rice substitute - or cook it on the stove, like you would oats.

Its nutritional stats aren't as impressive as those of oats - for almost exactly the same number of calories, 100g polenta has about 3.5g less protein and about 7.5g less fibre but I thought adding a bit of oat bran would make up for that.

Following the instructions on the packet, I measured out 30g polenta (with 15g oat bran) and heated 150ml water in a saucepan.
Once it was boiling, I poured in the grains and started stirring. It was clear straight away that MUCH more water was needed so I grabbed the nearest mug and sloshed loads in - about a small mugful, if that helps : )

You then just have to keep stirring, almost whipping, until you reach the consistency you want, which takes much less time than cooking porridge. You do have to keep stirring though, to break up any lumps of polenta.

When it had cooled down, I added my favourite mix-in, a mashed-to-oblivion, microwave-melted banana, and 4tbsp coconut milk... and it was delicious! Soooo creamy and the coconut/banana flavour was perfect...

Banana/coconut creamy polenta porridge

Another bonus was that it kept me full for ages. This may have been partly owing to the mix-ins rather than the polenta but this breakfast is definitely a winner! This picture doesn't do it justice either, it was a beautiful primrose yellow too : )

Saturday, 4 September 2010

A day of culinary creativity!

I was struck by a real need to cook yesterday...! Apparently, the making of the Spanish omelette wasn't enough to satisfy it so I got into the kitchen on a bit of a mission...

First up... meringues! But not just any old meringues...

Chocolate meringues! (I don't know why this picture is the wrong way round; it's not saved like that!)

I used 80g of sugar, about 55-60g golden caster and 20-25g soft light brown for a toffee-ish effect. I stirred them together with about 5g cocoa powder.
Then, beat egg whites to soft peaks stage and start adding the chocolatey sugar, a spoonful at a time. Once it's all mixed in, the mix should be at the stiff peaks stage.
Dollop it on to a lined baking sheet and cook for at least an hour and 20 minutes. I preheated my fan oven to 100c but a normal oven would be slightly higher.

After that time, they weren't quite ready but I had to go out! So I turned off the oven at that point but left them in and hoped for the best - and it worked! Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside (remember that Dime bar advert?!) and a lovely chocolate flavour. Next time, I might up the proportion of brown sugar and maybe add a bit more cocoa. I might also try to make them flatter and more cookie-like and then sandwich them with almond butter-maple sauce and banana slices *drools at the thought*

But they also went well with my next creation....

Jam! (kind of)

My dad had thoughtfully planted three different types of raspberries, early, midsummer and late varieties... and those late ones were calling my name!

I also had some bargain strawberries from Sainsbury's so mixed-berry jam was the way to go.

I put the raspberries, about 450g of them, into a big pan with about 300g chopped strawberries and heated them with 5 tbsp sweetener.I let the mixture boil for a few minutes, during which time it turned into a beautiful crimson mass...

But it looked a bit thin so I added about one and a half tbsp cornflour, mixed with the same amount of water, stirred that in and kept heating until it thickened. Once it had cooled, I put it in jars (except some which may or may not have found its way on to one of the chocolate meringues. Mmmm...)

And the "jam" gave me an idea for today's breakfast. I may have gone on and on about mentioned my obsession with fondness for the melted banana trick in the past and it's still the way forward but, having eaten it A LOT recently, either mixed into porridge, or (blended with some almond butter while it's hot which is even better!) on a breakfast cookie, I thought it might be time to try something else : )

So I cooked some porridge last night (I always do it the night before. I know it's weird but I don't like hot porridge and I'm too greedy to do it in the morning and wait for it to cool down!)
As normal, I cooked 40g oats and 20g oat bran with about 1 cup water on the stove, stirring all the time. Then, instead of just chucking it in a bowl like normal, I carried on stirring after I took it off the heat. I gave it a good whipping with the wooden spoon for ages and then poured it into the bowl. I gave it another couple of stirs as it cooled and it really made a difference - so much creamier!

Then, in the morning, I took about 80g of the jam, heated it in the microwave and stirred it in.

It looked so good; check out that colour! And it tasted great too; the jam is tangy and not too sweet. Definitely a winner...

Thursday, 2 September 2010


One of the (many) great things about visiting different places is, obviously, trying a whole new range of food, which I forced myself to do in Spain : )

While I was there, I really enjoyed the Spanish omelettes, especially a spinach one, and came home determined to try to recreate it... after yesterday's Easyjet  travel nightmare, I got home and cooked myself something fairly boring but that I knew I liked - and it was horrible! The vegetables sprinkled with cider vinegar, the garlic carrot chips, the tuna... none of it tasted good at all! I was worried I'd been spoilt by the brilliant foreign food and would no longer enjoy my own weird unique style of cooking *gasp*.

So this evening, I was a bit more creative. After a chilled day food shopping, riding and doing my first "official" (but short) babysitting for my beautiful five-week-old goddaughter, I came home, rolled my sleeves up and created Spanish omelette a la Eleanor...

The traditional recipe is, I think, just eggs, potatoes and random other stuff so it's not that different (fairly similar to a frittata too)

I started by dicing and steaming 100g spaghetti squash. While it was cooking, I heated a pan with cooking spray and added half a small, finely chopped onion and a few chopped mushrooms with some garlic powder.
Once they'd browned, I added the cooked squash, chopped very finely, and let it all saute together.
I then added a big handful of baby spinach, torn apart.
Once it had wilted, I turned down the heat and added an egg and an egg white, beaten with about 1tbsp parmesan.
Like cooking a frittata, I then stirred it round a bit to try and make it fluffy, then left it to cook for a minute or two on the low heat. Once the bottom was set, I transferred it to the grill, set to medium heat, and left it for 5-10 minutes.

While it and the garlic carrot chips were cooking, I made some multicoloured coleslaw, using red cabbage, red onion, carrot, extra-light mayonnaise and some fat-free vinaigrette. I much preferred this to normal white cabbage/onion coleslaw, if only because it looks so lovely!

I also steamed some green beans, runner beans, leeks and broccoli with some more of the red cabbage, resulting in a huge plate of food which, if I do say so myself, tasted amazing! Wow, there's nothing like one horrible dinner to make you appreciate a nice one : )

And the best bit is, there's still half the omelette left AND some coleslaw, which means tomorrow's dinner will be great too so thumbs-up for inspiration from foreign food.

Of course, one of the other great things about going to different places is the need to carry out extensive and in-depth research into local pursuits of entertainment, which we managed to force ourselves to do!

(This is the start-of-night pic, the later ones are slightly less presentable!)

Back home

And it's really good to be back, strangely!

I had a lovely almost-week away, relaxing, enjoying some sun, (I'd almost forgotten what wearing shorts feels like!) trying new food, relaxing...

The villa is lovely. I'd been there before but years ago when building work hadn't finished on it. It's a bungalow, right up in the Spanish mountains so there's a stunning view. All you can see at night is the stars and all you can hear is the crickets... beautiful. This is the morning view from the terrace:

It's near Marbella, on the southeast coast, so it's only an hour's drive to Gibraltar, which we did on Monday. I'd imagined just a big rock, which is obviously there, but it's also a tax haven, which means there's also a really tacky town full of cut-price alcohol and tobacco shops (did manage to get a really cheap new camera though!)
But when you drive up to the rock itself, it's well worth going. The view of Africa, from above the clouds,  is amazing. The monkeys which live there are very friendly and so cute, especially the tiny baby who seemed to enjoy showing off for us!

On top of the rock (I'm on the left)

How cute!

There are also some stunning natural caves on the rock. The cave of St Michael is full of stalagmites and stalagtites and has evidence of use by humans in the Neolithic period. It was like walking into a cathedral; the rising natural sculpture reminiscent of organ pipes, and the overwhelming feeling that this was created over thousands and thousands of years by nothing but water. Amazing.

Sadly, my old and slightly rubbish camera couldn't quite cope with the light inside the cave so this gives no idea of how beautiful it was!

I was also so impressed by how well I was catered for in terms of food. The supermarket had a big "sin gluten/coeliacos" section and all the other products were well-labelled, even for a non Spanish speaker like me. I also got a friend of a friend to write down the Spanish for "must eat foods without gluten". As soon as I showed waiters this, they let me know exactly what was safe, returning after each course to reassure me. In one restaurant, they even brought out, without me asking, warm gluten-free bread - wow! You don't get looked after like that here...

I had an amazing seafood risotto, grilled swordfish with prawn sauce, creme caramel and some very nice red wine (although not all at the same meal :) )

And it is nice to be back home, despite the ten-hour travelling nightmare to get here (thanks EasyJet, appreciate it!) And it's even sunny here again, hooray!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Holidays are comin'...

I fly to Spain tomorrow!

Can't wait because it's been wet, cold and miserable in England all August :(

But near Malaga, where my friend's parents' house is, it's 30+ degrees! Eek, my milk-bottle skin is going to need all the factor 35 I've packed...

So just a quick post because I won't be near a computer (hooray) till I get back on Wednesday. An ideal opportunity to promote Healthy Living Blogs.

It's a genius idea from Lindsey of Sound Eats; to get like-minded bloggers in one place, to find others near you and share ideas... In Lindsey's words:

Healthy Living Blogs is a new resource for the health blogging community. Created by Lindsey of Sound Eats, HLB is a site designed to enhance the positive community of the healthy living blog world. Bloggers and readers can explore the site and find more blogs to love, bloggers in their area, and forums to deepen healthy discussion and support. If you're interested in having your site listed on HLB, simply send the following information to and check the site out for yourself!

Email subject line: MEMBERS

Your name (please share if you prefer to go by first name, first and last, or however you prefer to be known on the Internet)

Blog Name

Blog URL (please start with http://, not www.)

Your twitter handle, if applicable

Your location (if you prefer not to disclose this information for privacy's sake, that is completely understandable. We'll simply include your blog listing in the A-Z listing, not by location, too)

Any specific labels (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, weight loss, running, etc.)
Take care

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Variation on a theme(s)

I'm writing this from work, which is a first! Probably technically not allowed but I'm editing this week and I've sent all four editions of the paper and have nothing to do until the sub-editors start putting the stories on the pages... which means a looong evening tonight and a very early morning tomorrow, as print deadline is 9.45am : (

But at least waiting gives me the chance to share a variation on one of my favourite themes; breakfast! When I remember that I used to eat the same cereal every single day...

Saturday's breakfast cookie was delicious; the baking is definitely the way forward in my opinion, so I started thinking of ways to make it even better...

Random memories of my banana omelette/pancake were floating through my brain, accompanied by my love for Chocolate Covered Katie's melted banana trick, my current porridge obsession favourite. I really mash the banana before I microwave it and it's heaven.

So I put the two together and....

Melting the banana separately and adding it, mixed with the almond butter, afterwards improves the flavour so much! It would probably work in the oven just as well, the same as the baked version, but I tried it on the stove and the texture was good so this one is the way forward for me! It also means you don't have to add the baking powder, etc and simple recipes are always good.


40g oats
1 egg white
About 50ml water/milk

Let stand for a few minutes (this was unintentional as the phone rang! But with hindsight, I'll do it again as the time probably helped the oats absorb the liquid.)

Heat a pan coated with oil or cooking spray on a low/medium heat until warm, then pour in the mixture. Flatten as best as you can because this helps the top cook more easily when you flip it.

The cookie should set relatively quickly, allowing you to lift and check how brown it is (mine took a few minutes) then flip and repeat.

An in-progress picture, included only to show off my hot-pan-holder which I love! :)

I then melted my mashed banana in the microwave, mixed it with a couple of spoonsful of almond butter and spread it on the top... wow. I promise anyone who makes this will not be disappointed and the potential for variations is huge; mix dried fruit, nuts, carrot (For a carrot cake breakfast cookie?! Hmmm...) or whatever takes your fancy.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning already; at least breakfast will be good even if work isn't!  

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Top banana

A morning post!

It's a quick one because I'm going to ride Dave in a minute but just had to share this amazing breakfast first...

I'd noticed that a lot of people are making breakfast cookies and thought I definitely needed to join in but didn't want to just put it in the fridge overnight; I thought a cookie needs to be chewy, crispy - and baked.

So, I had a go, mixing:

50g oats
1/2 a banana
1 egg white
Pinch baking powder
Tiny pinch salt
Squirt of vanilla

Preheat the oven to about 175C.
Mash the banana as well as possible - mine was almost liquid - then combine with all other ingredients, mixing well.
Flatten to about 1/4in circle on a lined baking tray and bake for about 12-15 minutes, It was probably done then but I wanted it crispier and more browned so I set the oven to grill, turned the temperature down to about 160C and left it about 5 more minutes.

I left it to cool overnight then, this morning, spread it with 1tbsp almond butter, mixed with almost 1 tbsp milk and a drizzle of maple syrup... perfection!

I couldn't resist taking a cheeky bite out of one side before the camera came out : )

Happy Saturday!

Friday, 20 August 2010

An ode to Eat Natural

I'm going to Spain on Friday!

My friend's parents have got a house near Puerto Banus so I'm spending five days by their pool, chilling out in a big way! I haven't had a summer holiday for years and the thing I'm looking forward to almost more than anything is being warm... it's been a miserable August in England so far and, as much as I love Dave, it'll be a nice change not to have to go up to the yard twice every day...

The only problem I can see is that it's sometimes hard enough to make English-speaking restaurant staff understand what I can't eat and why so I'm thinking Spanish waiters might pose more of a problem.

With that in mind, I've overdosed on buying Eat Natural and other bars to take with me.

I've been eating the yoghurt-coated apricot and almond version every now and then since I was diagnosed coeliac and they're heaven but, for some reason, hadn't bought them for ages.
I had a look on the website and realised there are loads more flavours I hadn't tried - so I bought almost all of them! Sadly, this means I'm going to have to carry out some serious research into which I like most, just so I know which to take...

Should I try the chocolate/peanut/cranberry/pistachio?

Or the yoghurt-coated cherry/almond? Decisions, decisions!

In the end, I opted for the dark chocolate/Brazil nut/apricot/cranberry.

All I can say is - good choice! The 70% dark chocolate complements the chewy apricot and tangy cranberry perfectly and you can never go wrong with Brazil nuts in my opinion. A party in my mouth, as they say. The combination of chewiness and crunchiness is perfect and, with all that lovely protein, fibre and healthy fat, these are definitely the way to go.

Next on the list to try is the yoghurt/cranberry/apricot. Mmmm...

But there has to be a cute picture to finish; check out the baby almond/apricot/yoghurt ones - how could you resist : )

Sunday, 15 August 2010


A busy Sunday!

Having not got to bed till about 2am after my brother's leaving do (he's going to teach English in Korea for a year - wow! But I'll miss him :( ) I was awake by 9.30am and didn't stop from then on... After a HUGE bowl of porridge (that's one love that's definitely going to last!) I cycled up to the yard, rode Dave, saw my mum, came home, ate lunch, cleared out my cupboards, made cookies, drove my friend back to the yard to see her horse, gave Dave his dinner... hold on - cookies should never be mentioned in such a throwaway, cavalier fashion!

So here they are...

I'd been wanting, or thinking vaguely about, making nut butter cookies for ages but hadn't got round to it because it seemed almost a waste of the deliciousness that is almond butter! But when I ordered my last lot, (you can't really buy it in shops here) I thought I'd try some other flavours.

The cashew was nice, but not as nice as almond, and I wasn't convinced at all by the brazil nut butter, which is weird as I LOVE brazil nuts! I'd seen a recipe for nut butter cookies using oats (can't remember where - sorry) and made cookies using maple syrup instead of sugar so..... here's the result!

Preheat oven to 180c

100g nut butter (I used 20g cashew, 40 brazil and 40 almond)
4 tbsp maple syrup (love this!)
4 tbsp oats
1 egg white

Mix together, dollop on a baking sheet, cook for 15-ish minutes... and tuck in! I love the flavour maple syrup gives and the oats make them nice and chewy (might add a few more oats next time). 

Ps - as far as porridge goes, every day this week, I've been eating it using Katie's melted banana trick. I've got to say, this wins my "official best porridge ever award" and makes the house smell delicious too - amazing! Thanks Katie...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A confession...

I've been really stupid.

Ever since the joyous day I found out I could eat oats again, I've been making up for lost time. As I said earlier, I've just been enjoying them every day, soaked in water overnight in the fridge, as well as in cookies, pancakes, cakes...

But I couldn't understand why all the creative and delicious-looking oatmeal recipes on people's blogs talked about using so much water; I thought I must be a bit weird liking mine thick... and just kept on doing the same thing.

Then I ordered my next lot of oats (and other gluten-free goodies) from Goodness Direct and realised the site offers free postage on orders over a certain value so I added some oat bran. When it arrived, I decided to mix it with the oats but wasn't sure it would "work" just soaked overnight - so I cooked them together, on the stove.

For once, I followed instructions (almost) by using (nearly) the amount of water recommended, not believing for a minute it would work. I stirred sceptically, then suddenly realised, it was thickening up! In disbelief, I stirred - and stirred  - and stirred. And it kept getting thicker! With hindsight, I may have stirred for a bit too long as when it cooled, I could pick the porridge up in one gelatinous mass!

It was a revelation.

And, a bit more water and some serious fork action and the consistency problem was solved. It was thick, it was creamy, it was... HEAVEN. AND it filled me up till lunchtime!

Serious oatmeal addicts will think the above bowl - made the next day by adding cooked and blended butternut squah and a tbsp almond butter - is very, very boring which it probably is but to me... porridge heaven!

What to put in tomorrow's bowl though? THAT is the question...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Diary of an addict...

My name's Eleanor and *deep breath* I'm an addict.

I'm addicted to (butternut) squash. Round of applause? No? Fair enough...

I love it. I can't remember the last day I didn't eat either roasted garlic butternut chips...

Or "sweet chips" (roasted with cinnamon and maple syrup - no picture as they didn't hang around long enough for some reason!)

Or Heather's amazing baked custard (slightly adapted butternut version, disguised as a breakfast sundae)

And this. A butternut mousse.

This picture definitely doesn't do it justice, bearing in mind what it looks like! But it was amazing... I blended 100g butternut with a splash of milk, 2 tsp almond butter and a drizzle of maple syrup: wow.

I may need to make a few more of these to use up the butternut, because then I can move on to my latest purchase - a spaghetti squash!
Any ideas?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Millions of little Britons grew up great...

... on Heinz baked beans!

It doesn't happen often but, on the way home from work the other day, I was struck by a sudden NEED to make something centred around baked beans for dinner.

Luckily, there was a tin of Mr Heinz's finest in the cupboard but what to put with it? "Eggs" came the answer, from somewhere, so eggs it was!

I made one of my omelette/wraps that usually do sterling work at lunchtime but made it very slightly differently. Instead of beating flaxseed into the egg whites, I mixed it with one white and started that cooking in the omelette pan. Once that had set slightly, I added the other on top and swirled that around.

The result was an even thicker and fluffier creation which folded perfectly round the baked beans. Along with a HUGE amount of vegetables and some butternut squash chips (roasted with garlic; amazing) this was the tastiest and most filling dinner I could have wanted...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Cookie monster

These gluten-free oats just keep calling me!

I've seen a few microwave muffin/cookie concoctions on blogs and thought oats+cookie+almond butter = mmm.

So almost as soon as I got home, I tried out a recipe of my own. I'll just have to make another one *sigh* in order to take a picture because the first was scarfed down so quickly (purely for research purposes of course) that there was no chance of getting the camera out!

In less than two minutes, there it was...

2tbsp oats
1 egg white
1tsp almond butter (I might just have to double this next time...)
Pinch baking powder
Pinch salt
Sweetener to taste

Mix everything together until really well blended, then put on a plate (I just used my amazing bake-o-glide silicon liner sheet) and microwave on medium/high for about 40 seconds. Don't let it overcook and dry out; keep checking.

Mine had risen to about 2in high after 30 seconds, but it did calm back down once the power was turned off.

I spread mine out so it was quite thin and saucer-sized and it was delicious (I think I may have said...) but I think doing it in a mug and making a muffin would also work (more experimenting needed, clearly!)

Update - was patient enough to take a picture of this one!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Take it as bread

Anyone with coeliac disease, or who can't eat wheat/gluten will know that it's almost impossible to get good bread.
I don't generally like things which are recreated to mimic gluten-containing products because there are so many ingredients you can use instead as they are which taste better than "substitutes".
But bread's a different story. Because it's the gluten that gives it its elasticity, any made without tends to crumble as soon as you look at it or resembles dense doughy sponge. Yuk.
So I gave up on bread and experimented instead with my own alternatives.
And when Alex, of Spoonful of Sugar Free posted this appeal for help for a friend with a restricted diet, it reminded me of these; gluten-free tortilla (type things!)

85g flour, combination of rice and buckwheat
40g potato starch/flour
1.5 tsp tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
125ml warm water
(These are fiddly quantities but it works, although I'm sure other flours would work too, I've been meaning to try coconut, as long as the wet/dry ratio stays the same)

Mix everything together and divide batter into eight lumps. Roll/flatten them out as thinly as you can (the dough is REALLY sticky so this is hard - I put it on a floured board with floured cling film on top and banged them with the bottom of a saucepan... then squashed them thinner by hand to about the size of saucers - very technical!)

Then just saute them in a dry pan - no oil needed - for a minute or two on each side. Their texture isn't like bread, more like a chewy/slightly crisp pitta. I freeze them, then take them to work and eat as sandwiches with my favourite spread (equal amounts almond butter and milk with a bit of honey) and a sliced banana - delicious and it fills me up all afternoon!

My current favourite though is this pancake/omelettewrap/whatever:

1 egg
1 tbsp flax seed.

Beat together and saute in a hot pan coated with cooking spray for a minute or two each side and voila!
Much healthier than bread and it makes as delicious and filling a sandwich as the tortillas. Mmmmm...

Tomorrow's lunch, minus the almond butter. It isn't safe even to get the jar out at this time of night...!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday, sundae...

Back in my very, very unhealthy days, I occasionally had just milk chocolate for breakfast. The worst thing is that that morning Cadbury's fix was often probably the healthiest part of that day's diet! 

And although those days are no more, it's definite that I'm not a stranger to the pudding-for-breakfast idea. So whe Katie introduced her Breakfast Sundae challenge, it seemed rude not to join in...

This bowl of deliciousness comprised:

About 30g oats, soaked in water overnight

A serving of butternut squash baked custard (adapted slightly from Heather's genius recipe)

Sliced banana

About 1tbsp toasted oats

Almond butter sauce (1tbsp almond butter, mixed with 1tbsp milk and a drizzle of honey)

The picture does it no credit; it was almost too beautiful to eat (but not quite).

But I don't think I've completely captures the Breakfast Sundae challenge. I've eaten plenty of ice cream over the years but never had what would "officially" be called a sundae... but I think a proper one needs layers, it needs nuts, it needs - CHOCOLATE!

Sundae Mark II to follow...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Summer, summertime!

I once had an argument  a discussion with a girl from work about summer v winter and she was unshakable in her opinion that winter is better. What?!

I'm lucky enough to live in a really rural area and this time of year is gorgeous. I cycle up to the yard to see Dave twice a day and have to concentrate on the bike because otherwise my mouth would just be hanging open at how beautiful it is everywhere.

Light evenings, lying in bed with the window wide open and the smell of honeysuckle drifting in, drinking Pimm's in the pub garden... how can you compare that to frostbite and never seeing your home in daylight??

I'm also lucky enough to have a dad whose passion is growing fruit and vegetables. Not only is his vegetable patch bigger than my house, he orders me to take stuff from it! Thanks to him, my dinner last night consisted of stuffed courgette, runner beans, peas (not even cooked, they're that good) and carrots, followed by his raspberries, loganberries and gooseberries. The best dad ever (not just because of the food. but it helps...!)

And talking about the amazing berries, I thought they (or at least some of them) should feature in Chocolate Covered Katie's hug-a-fruit month. I couldn't really hug them, but here they are!

(Ok, if we're being really picky, he may not have grown the banana. He's good but he ain't that good!)