Sunday, 27 March 2011

Coconut and Blueberry Cookies

2 cups of gluten free flour
3/4 cup of Xylitol

3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of agave syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 medium egg whites
1/4 cup of flaked coconut
Couple of tablespoons of desiccated coconut
1/2 a punnet of blueberries


Large bowl
Small bowl
Greaseproof paper
Baking tray
Cookie cutter (optional)
Cooling rack

Preheat oven to 175oC.
Put greaseproof paper on to the baking tray.

In the large bowl combine the (sifted) flour,
Xylitol, bicarb & salt, and whisk together.

Combine the agave syrup, veg oil, vanilla & egg whites into the small bowl & whisk thoroughly.

Pour the contents of the small bowl into the large bowl and stir until well mixed.

Add the flaked and desiccated coconut, and blueberries and mix until ingredients is evenly spread.

Use a tablespoon to drop the mix on to the greaseproof paper. The mixture is quite runny, so if you have a cookie cutter I would make an even spread of mixture across the baking tray to bake and cut nicely round cookies once they are out of the oven. If you don't have a cookie cutter you just have slightly misshapen cookies, equally as tasty, just with a little more character :)

Bake for 15 minutes, once removed from the oven, either peel off the greaseproof paper or first cut the cookies out and then peel off the paper, and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.

These are soft, chewy and delicious cookies!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Pancakes... :)))

Ok, so I have missed the boat slightly with this posting & Shrove Tuesday now being well forgotten, but pancakes shouldn't be confined to one day a year! I believe Hugh Fernely-WhatsHisFace agrees with me (I do really like him by the way, just have trouble with the name) :)

This recipe has been adapted from Delia Smith's Waitrose recipe:

10 in a frying pan with a base measurement of 20cm

110g gluten free plain flour

Pinch of salt

2 large or medium eggs
200ml unsweetened soya milk mixed with 75ml water
50g organic butter or coconut oil

To serve:
Xylitol and lemon wedges

If you have a non-stick frying pan, you need every little butter/oil!
Mixing bowl
Measure jug

1. First of all sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs so all the ingredients are well mixed.
2. Next, gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking. Whisk until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the butter in the pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it when needed to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.
3. Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium. Use about 2 ½ tablespoons about right for a 20cm pan OR just enough to have a thin covering over the bottom of the frying pain. It’s also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only a minute to cook; you can lift the edge with a spatula to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over, the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan on to a plate.
4. Stack the pancakes as you make them. To serve, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and Xylitol fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or else simply roll them up. Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and extra wedges of lemon to squeeze over if needed.

Post-Shrove Update
I made the traditional lemon pan-cakes for pancake day, but a few weeks after said Tuesday I had a pancake craving that just had to be satisfied. It was on this seemly ordinary Saturday that I discovered the best pancakes in the world (probably).

Add blueberries & raspberries to your pancake mix (it tends to work better with thicker pancakes) and serve with maple Syrup. Trust me, they won't disappoint!  

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

The first recipe!

Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Sugar Free.

I have made this one a couple of time, refining the recipe a little to make soft and chewy cookies. This is one the first recipe I made-up all by my own ;) because I couldn't find a recipe that used chocolate and peanut butter, but believe me the combination is sooo good and very quick to prepar. 

Makes 12 cookies.

100g Dark Chocolate (Xylitol Plain Chocolate) If you don’t want to use this, any Dark Chocolate will do (preferable organic & fair trade)
100g Organic Peanut Butter (make sure the only ingredient is peanuts)
100g Gluten Free Flour (I use Doves Farm)
100g Xylitol
1 Egg
l.5 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon gluten free Baking Powder (Dr Oetker)
Pinch of salt
Couple of tablespoons of Soya Milk

Blender / processor
Baking tray (or two depending on their size)
Grease proof paper
Little bit of oil

Preheat oven to 180oC (Gas mark 4)

Put greaseproof paper on the baking trays and put a little oil on it, smear it around for an even and thin spread.

Break up the chocolate into small pieces and put them the blender and blend until finely chopped. The blender might be a bit jumpy at first!

Once the chocolate is in tiny pieces add the flour, baking powder, salt, and Xylitol. Blend until well mixed.

Add the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and the egg, blend again until well mixed.

The mixture will be a bit dry at this point, so add a couple of tablespoons of soya milk and blend until well mixed and the dough will be sticky.

Before putting on the baking tray, make sure the blender is switched off and take out the blade as soon as you can. Get a tablespoon to scoop out the dough; it’s pretty sticky so you’ll have to use your fingers to arrange into a cookie shape.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden and firm.

Once done transfer to a cooling rake. This is where the greaseproof paper helps as you can peel the cookies off it easily. This might sound obvious, but I used think I didn’t need it, but you will have to chisel the cookies for the baking tray.   

If you want to avoid soya you can add rice milk which is an excellent alternative. Or add about 50g of peanut butter, this will ensure that the dough is sticky.

These cookies have been blessed by the holy toast! ;)

Natural Sweeteners

Before the first recipe I want to talk about natural sweetners. This is the key to making sugar-free (or shall we say refined sugar-free) desserts taste good.

There are a variety of options to try. I am no expert, I just have read a little (very little) and used a few in baking.

Sometime ago I was given a recommendation from a wise and trusted person to stop eating sugar and try Xylitol instead. This is a *natural sweetener*, which is much healthier than refined-sugar and definitely healthier than synthetic sweeteners. The good news is Xylitol tastes like sugar :)  There are a couple of brands that sell Xylitol: Xylitol UK and  XyloBrit, for example. These can be bought at health food shops such as Wholefoods Market and Planet Organic. Or you can buy it online at Xylitol Shop or The Finchley Clinic.

Good news for chocoholics - the Xylitol Shop also sell chocolate made with Xylitol. This is dairy, gluten and sugar free chocolate. If you like dark chocolate you will love this. It is a bit more expensive than normal chocolate, but worth it if you can't do without chocolate but have mutliple dietary restrictions as I do.

The most common available of the natural sweeteners and if money is an issue, honey tends to be the cheapest of the sugar alternatives. Made by the bees and flowers, nature is kind to us. There is lots of different grades of honey and it can get very complicated, but again all I would say is try and buy organic if possible. The most healthy type of honey is Manuka Honey, but it is quite expensive. If you can afford it, this is the type of honey to go for. There is a lot of info online if you want to ready up on why its so good.

Agave Syrup
This is a very taste sugar substitute. I personally like Agave Nectar Mild. Similar to honey, but made from the plant which tequila is made from. Agave is high in Fructose and there seems to be some debate out there as to how health it actually is. My view is quite simple, everything in moderation. I like to use different sweeteners for different recipes. And if you are eating it as part of a balanced diet and all that, it should be ok. This can be bought in most supermakerts and health (food) shops.

Maple Syrup
This is my favourite, because of its sweet, smoky flavour. God bless the Canadians! This, of course, is also a plant (tree) based sweetener. Produced simply by evaporating the sap of the sugar maple tree. I try to buy organic whenever possible and it is probably the healthiest of the sweeteners. Healthy does taste good! This can be bought in most supermarkets (usually the larger ones, in size of store that is) and health (food) shops, it can be expensive though.

Fructose / Fruit Sugar
This is another option for granular sugar. Its not one that I have used as I tend to stick to Xylitol.  

I have learnt recently that it is best to experiment and find what works best for you and you get to eat lots of yummy desserts along the way,

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Hello Blogsphere

Another blog to add to the millions out there. So why am I adding to the billions of tons information floating around in the ether? Because I'm a girl with a sweet tooth and multiple diet restirctions starting to learn how to make and bake healthy, tasty desserts.

With having to cut of gluten, dairy and sugar I worried that food would become depressingly dull, but it doesn't have to be that way! Once I was realised that spending time making food from scratch is a worthwhile pasttime and I started using a little imagination.

I guess I had the epiphany that many have already had that healthy does not to = boring. This isn't a new idea, but you could be told this truth, you have to learn it for yourself.

So watch out for recipes, or me experimenting with food - probably a better description.