Chestnut roast with pine nuts, mushrooms and cranberries.


This is a delicious twist on a rut roast peppered with little red jewels of sweetness from the cranberries. Fabulous served hot with Christmas dinner or served cold as part of a Boxing day lunch if there is any left! It can be made in advance and reheated in the oven on the day.





4 slices of gluten free bread (If you want this recipe to be egg free too check the bread you are using does not contain egg as many gluten free breads do, I used Bfreed brown seeded as this also adds to the texture and flavour)

1 tbsp rape seed oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

100g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed

180g roasted chestnuts, chopped. (I used fresh roasted but you can use prepacked, Merchant Gourmet whole chestnut which are found in most supermarkets as they just need chopping and no roasting required.)

60g dried cranberries

2 heaped tbsp pine nuts roughly chopped

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 tbsp plain soya yogurt

150 ml vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 180oc gas mk 4

Grease a loaf tin. In a frying pan heat the oil and add the onion and mushrooms and cook on a low heat to soften for 5 minutes, then add the crushed garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

In a food processor pulse the bread to make fine breadcrumbs , then add the pine nuts and pulse again to break them up. Make the vegetable stock and add the cranberries and set aside for a few minutes to allow the cranberries to pump up a little.

In a large bowl mash the drained butter beans, then add the chopped chestnuts, breadcrumbs, herbs, yogurt, stock with cranberries and mix, add the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste. Transfer the mixture to your prepared loaf tin and press down and smooth the top. Cover with foil and bake in pre-heated oven for 1 ¼ hours, remove from oven, remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. When cooked leave to stand for 10- 15 minutes before serving.




Mince Pies



Like I have said before my family love anything that contains sweet mincemeat. Once I had decided to go completely plant based I found pastry to be the most difficult to convert because it is also gluten free. My go to recipe for pastry was fantastic, so good that people did not know the difference. However, I used an egg to enrich the flavour and help bind the pastry keeping it light and crumbly as any good pastry should be. My attempt as gluten free plant-based pastry were not the greatest unlike pastry made with flour containing gluten, you cannot just rely on the flour. It becomes too hard. I do not like using xanthan gum to bind as I do not like the texture it creates. So more experimenting. I have several recipes for pastry using gluten free oat flour and almond flour, also a shortbread biscuit style but for a mince pie you need a pastry. I decided to replace the egg I would normally use with a flax-seed egg and added some baking powder. This seemed to work well but it’s a work in progress as I strive to make it better. Much of this pastry recipe in in the technique and temperature. For now, here is my mince pie recipe using my homemade mincemeat recipe.


280g gluten free plain flour

120g vegan butter or hard spread (I used stork block)

2-6 depending on humidity very cold water

½ tsp baking powder

1 flax seed egg- 1tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water

Pinch of Himalayan sea salt

Homemade mincemeat

A little plant based milk for glazing

2 tsp coconut sugar



Firstly, place a fork knife and your water in the fridge, trust me this will become clear later. Mix your flax-seed egg, place the flax-seed and water in a small cup or bowl and stir to combine, set aside.

In a food processor measure your flour and baking powder. With you cold knife cut the hard butter in to small chunks and add to the food processor. This is to keep the butter as cold as possible. I have bags of butter already measured in the freezer, so I just remove from the freezer and put straight into the processor. Using the pulse setting pulse until the mix resembles wet sand. Be careful not to over process so it begins to stick together. Tip this into a mixing bowl. The reason for doing it in the food processor is to keep the mix as cold as possible and to avoid touching it. If you do not have a food processor lightly rub the butter and flour until you get the desired wet sand / breadcrumb look. I would suggest you wash your hands in cold water and dry to keep your hands nice and cold.  With your cold fork stir and mix in your flax seed egg, your mix will not come together yet. Gradually 1 tbsp at a time add your water mix with the fork or the tips of your fingers. You want it to just come together, it will look a bit crumbly at this point. Do not overhandle. One it has come together tip out onto your work surface. Kneed 3 or 4 rolls just to combine, literally a couple of seconds! Do not over handle or kneed your dough or it will become hard and greasy when cooked. Wrap in cling film flatten slightly to make rolling easier and pop in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

When you are ready to make your mince pies remove your pastry from the fridge and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Grease the holes of a bun tin and pre-heat your oven to 180oc/gas mk 4.

Lay a sheet of cling film on your work surface and dust lightly with gf plain flour. Remove your pastry from its cling film (Do not kneed) and place on the dusted cling film, lightly dust the top of the pastry and cover with another sheet of film. Roll your pastry between the two sheets of cling film. This pastry can be quite sticky and the temptation if rolling on a board is to add more flour which changes the pastry, the pastry absorbs the flour and you become tempted to do it again. By rolling between two sheets of film it allows you to roll without sticking.  Once you have the desired thickness remove the top layer and with a round cutter dipped in flour to stop it from sticking, cut disks big enough to cover the indent of each hole in your bun tin. Fill each pastry case with a spoonful of your mincemeat. Cut either another round or a shape to cover each mince pie. With a brush wet the edges of your base with the plant milk to stick the lid to the base. Brush the tops with a little plant milk to glaze and sprinkle with coconut sugar for colour and sweet crunch.  Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. These are lovely served hot or cold.

Store in airtight tin.




Homemade mincemeat.



My family and especially my other half love mince pies, well, anything that contains mincemeat to be honest and last year my mincemeat crumble slice was a huge hit. To the point I was making it on request a couple of times a week, it became my gift as we attended friends and family over the festive season. But for those with restricted diets finding good shop bought mincemeat can be a challenge.

Traditionally mince pies contained meat and not the best meat, so spices and fruit were added along with spirits to add flavour and the dish became more of a sweet rather than savoury dish. Now-a-days the shop bought mincemeat uses vegetable shortening rather than beef suet, but I wanted to make a version that doesn’t use as much fat or added refined sugars it also needed to be totally plant based. I decided to make my own with the fruit that I liked, as I am not keen on candied fruit peel and almost every jar of mincemeat I picked up in the store contained it. So, thinking cap on a little research and to the kitchen to have a play and see what I could come up with. Because I wasn’t going to be using the suet I needed to make sure the mincemeat stayed nice and moist, so I decided to use chopped apples in its place which would break down whilst cooking and medjool dates. After a few attempts I have a mincemeat I love, we can all eat and best of all got a thumb’s up from the family. The recipe is below, feel free like myself to change the ratio or choices of dried fruits.

Makes 2 x 500 ml jars


3 red apples chopped in to chunk about 1cm

2 large oranges zest and juice

2 tbsp maple syrup

Zest unwaxed lemon

5 medjool dates ( you can use other dates but these are the best as they are still beautiful and soft and full of flavour)

400g mixed fruit of your choice I used

80g raisins

      80g currants

      80g sultanas

     80g dried cranberries- to add a sharpness and festive flavour

     80g dried apricots chopped


1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ tsp mixed spice

¼ tsp ground cloves

2 tbsp Brandy


Place all the ingredients into a large pan and heat on a low heat until apples are soft, the fruit has plumped and the liquid has almost been absorbed by the fruit. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Transfer the mix to a food processor and pulse until you have your desired consistency. Decant into clean jars. This can be used immediately or stored until needed. If you make this in advance and store the flavours infuse more and become more intense. Decanted in pretty jars along with a recipe for mince pies or mincemeat crumble slice make a fabulous ‘homemade with love’ Christmas gift for a budding baker in the family.



Yorkshire Puddings

I love Yorkshire puddings!For many years I went without. First I had the horrors of mastering the gluten free Yorkshire which was hit and miss until one day it happened and from then on fabulous Yorkshires….then I went totally plant-based, no eggs, Oh No! roast dinners will never be the same again, for a few years now I have tried many recipes with little or no luck and to be honest I am not a fan of egg replacer so have never tried with that. But, when I’m feeling lucky and in the mood to experiment I tweek the recipe some more, in a vain hope they will work. My poor family has been subjected to many of my trial and errors,  almost having to visit the dentist for broken teeth as many Yorkshires resembled biscuits made from steel. But at last a Yorkshire that worked, was it fluke? I tried again and Huzzah! success, so below I share my triumph with you. These little beauties are great straight out of the oven but if like me you have to sometimes do dinner in relays as they all come home at different times they are still fab heated in the microwave. In-fact my other half loves them like that. So enjoy. x


120g gluten free plain flour

1 heaped tsp gram flour (chickpea flour found in most supermarkets sometimes called Besan)

285ml soya milk, however if you can’t have soya other plant milks work ok.

1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder

rapeseed oil for the pan, olive oil is too strong in flavour for this recipe however if you prefer you can use coconut oil.


Pre-heat your oven to 230oc / gas mk 8 Very Hot Oven!

Pour a little oil into each hole of your pudding tray and place in the oven to get hot.

In a mixing bowl or large measuring jug add the flours baking powder, whisk to combine then add the milk, whisk till mix is combined and fluffy with bubbles.

Remove the tin from the oven the oil must be hot and smoking , if the oil is not hot the puddings will not work. Make sure you shut the oven door to keep the oven at a high temperature. Quickly fill your holes of the pudding tray, they should bubble as you pour it in. Fill to just over half way. Return them to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden brown. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN until they are ready or they will sink and you will have biscuits. Remember the oil MUST be smoking hot for them to work , just like standard Yorkshires.


Bye bye Halloween Hello Christmas

To be honest I do not even think that Halloween had happened and my local supermarket had its Christmas gifts and cards all out on display with tinsel and pictures of Santa. I was still painting my pumpkins teal and getting my non food treats ready for Halloween. Bah Humbug..

But now its November, no getting away from it now as it approaches fast . There is nowhere to hide, every shops has shelves bursting with goodies. Most of which are chocolates, sweets and all the things I cant eat and nor can some of my family.Negotiating the Xmas shelves looking for allergy friendly treats can be very stressful with sighs of giving up and leaving with a box of satsumas with a plastic holly leaf on the tag and a tray of medjool dates to gorge on in the car to alleviate the stress,or is that just me?

The magazines are full of recipes made with butter and eggs, cream and suet, pastries pies and cakes….AAARRRGGGGHHHHHHHHhhhh a gluten free, plant-based, free from nightmare!!!!!!

So, with a basket full of supplies I head to my kitchen to make all those Christmas favourite but tweaking recipes to make them gluten free and vegan. I will be doing this every week now in readiness for the big day when the family descend and I feel like I’m feeding an army. I will be sharing my recipes with you so you can relax and wow your family with tasty, allergy friendly food this festive season.


To get you started I have posted a gluten free egg free Yorkshire pudding recipe. If there are any recipes you loved but sadly can no longer eat, head over to my face book page Sara By Nature and let me know what it is, you never know i may already have a recipe that suits you dietary needs.