Pumpkin & Oat Choc chip cookies

 

We all love a sweet treat every now and then and what is better than a cookie with your cuppa while reading a book curled up on the sofa on a windy Autumn day. Heavenly! Alternatively these are great for Halloween for trick or treater’s to your door as they are allergen friendly. These little gems are Gluten free, plant-based and refined sugar free, nut free and soya free if you pick the right chocolate chips. I like to use coconut sugar to give that wonderful caramel flavour however you could replace with soft brown sugar if you wish. Pumpkin seed butter and pumpkin seeds provide the protein and their base is oats . These cookies are perfect for this time of year, spicy, sweet and comforting like a little hug, with the added bonus they are full of all the good stuff, nutrition and protein. They take no time at all to make and the children will love them, that’s if you are prepared to share…Well, that’s me sold…put the kettle on lets have a cookies and a cuppa!

Recipe makes 12-15 cookies depending on size.

 Ingredients

110g Gluten free plain flour

80g gluten free oats

85g coconut sugar

80 g gluten free vegan chocolate chips I used Moo Free which are also soya free)

3 Tbsp pumpkin seed butter (I used Meridian)

1/2 mashed ripe banana

1 heaped tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 heaped tsp pumpkin spice

1/4 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 heaped tsp gluten free baking powder

4 tbsp rape seed or low flavour oil.

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oc / gas mark 4 . Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until combined, roll into 12 small balls, place on prepared baking sheet, flatten to make cookie shapes, bake in pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool a little then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container in secret location so there are some when you return.

 

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

 

After a lovely break in the sun the return to England sees me feeling rather cold after being spoilt with Caribbean sun. Autumn has truly arrived in England, the trees are now turning beautiful reds and oranges, there is a brisk sharpness in the morning air and one of my favourite vegetables, the squash, is available at all farmers markets as we approach Halloween.

So, to keep it seasonal and to quash my craving of hearty warming soul food I have decided to make Pumpkin Mac & cheese.  This dish is great served hot or cold. Full of nutrients, anti-oxidants and plenty of protein.  The dried nutritional yeast not only adds Vitamin B12 but a wonderful nutty cheese flavour. If you do not want the crusty topping, or do not want to use the vegan cheese,as i know not everyone is a fan, this recipe works well without the crust but lovely if you still use the tomatoes or just omit the cheese from the crumb and oven bake.

 Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 Medium butternut squash or small pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small pieces.

1 large onion, roughly chopped into large pieces

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

600ml vegetable stock (I used kallo organic veg stock cubes)

small handful chopped sage leaves- about 10

250 g dried gluten free macaroni (I used Orgran rice & corn macaroni, it comes in a 250g packet but if the packet you have is 300g use it all, I only say 250g as this is the bag size I buy. The sauce will cover it)

200 g cherry tomatoes, halved

100g vegan cheese ( I used a mix of Violife mozzarella and cheddar, this is also soya free)

2 small slices or 1 large slice day old gluten free vegan bread, blitzed in the food processor to make bread crumbs. about 80-100g

50 g pumpkin seeds roughly chopped

1 tbsp dried nutritional yeast

1 heaped tsp onion granules

1 tsp paprika

Torn basil leaves to garnish

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200oc / gas mk 6

In a large roasting tin add the chopped squash and onion, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper  then place in the pre-heated oven and roast for 30 minutes until the squash is soft.

In a bowl add the breadcrumbs, cheese, chopped sage, chopped pumpkin seeds and onion granules. Stir to combine and set to one side.

Cook your macaroni according to the instructions on the packet but not for the full amount of time. Normally this small pasta takes as per instructions 8 minutes i boil for 4 till just softening as it will absorb liquid while in the oven. Drain your pasta and rinse to remove all the starch liquid, set to one side.

Make your vegetable stock and set to one side.

Once cooked place the squash, onion, nutritional yeast, paprika, and half the stock in a food processor and blitz then add the rest of the stock and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place your macaroni in a baking dish, pour over the sauce and mix until all the macaroni is coated, being careful not to break up the macaroni. Scatter over the halved cherry tomatoes reserving a couple back, then cover with the sage and breadcrumb mix, top with the remaining tomatoes. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the topping turns golden. Scatter over torn basil leaves and serve.

Enjoy!

Caponata

 

I just love this dish, it’s such a versatile recipe for the summer, full of flavour and easy to make. I grow most of  the ingredients in my garden so to be sure i have them at hand. A typically Sicilian dish of stewed Mediterranean vegetables with a base of aubergines and tomatoes. Delicious as brunch over warm gluten free bread, hot served with potatoes, rice, quinoa or serve it cold as part of a salad. Pot up in a jar, refrigerate and use as a chutney accompaniment with salad and BBQ food. The longer you leave it the more delicious it becomes as the flavours infuse. I make it and leave for at least a day before eating for this reason, however , this can be a challenge as its one of my favourite and sometimes its just too tempting.

 

 

Ingredients
Tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
2 Large aubergines cut into large chunks
1 shallot finely chopped
1 red onion finely chopped
6 tomatoes roughly chopped, the riper the better the flavour.
2 celery sticks de-stringed and chopped.
2 tsp of drained capers
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp chopped or sliced black olives (you can use green but I love the deep flavour of the black)
50 ml organic red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic crushed, if you can get it smoked garlic adds an extra element to the flavours of this dish.
1 heaped tsp dried oregano but if you have fresh use small handful finely chopped.
1 tsp maple syrup
Tbsp chopped fresh basil and parsley mix.
½ juice 1 lime
Method
In a large frying pan heat the oil and gently on a medium heat, cook the chopped aubergine for 10-15 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Remove these from the pan and set to one side. In the same pan using the oil gently cook the shallots, onion, garlic until softened, then add the tomatoes, oregano, celery and red wine vinegar, cook for another five minutes stirring occasionally. Then add the aubergines, capers, olives, raisins, maple syrup, chopped herbs and lime juice. Cook for a further 10 minutes on a low heat. Either serve immediately or allow to cool. Cooling allows the flavours to infuse more. I enjoy it served cold with salad or side for bread and olives. Can be kept in the fridge for a week.

 

 

Socca Pancakes

Originating from Italy and a traditional street food in France Socca is a flatbread or pancake make from chickpea flour.  In parts of France  you’ll see street food stands with large griddles cooking wafer-thin Socca pancakes, serving them piping hot sliced like a piece of pizza, seasoned with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, beautiful when eaten with the local wine.

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Socca pancakes are made from chickpea flour, often called gram flour or Besan, water and oil and made on a hot griddle or in a hot pan like a pancake. Chickpea flour is naturally gluten free and packed full of protein and in addition it also has great levels of vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.

These simple pancakes are so versatile, great with soup or used as wraps, replacement for naan bread to soak up the last traces of your curry. You can keep the batter in the fridge and just use what you need as you need it, or, make a batch store in the fridge with baking parchment between each one so they don’t stick together and heat when needed or use cold as a wrap.

As a base batter you can add all sorts of flavours. I like to add fresh chopped coriander and lime zest to the batter then serve the socca topped with smashed avocado, sun blush tomatoes, a handful of rocket, sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of hemp oil. Delicious and packed full of goodness.

Alternatively add finely chopped deseeded chilli, roll the socca up filled with bean chilli place in a baking dish, top with cashew cheese and bake in the oven, serve with shredded iceberg lettuce.  I also like to crush a mix of seeds, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, hemp, poppy, well to be honest whatever I have in the pantry a good helping of black pepper. I make all the mix the stack on a place with a strip of baking parchment in-between to stop them sticking and place in the fridge till needed. I use them as a seeded wrap filling them with salad and falafels with houmous or grated carrot sided red cabbage, sliced cucumber, chopped mushroom. A fabulous colourful wrap and delicious.

They also make a great base for pizza! As you can see this great little pancake is quite the hero if you can’t have bread and want something different. Try making the batter with less water to make it thick and dollop in the pan and make thicker savoury scone type bread which is great in place of a roll with soup or chilli. Add chopped or grated vegetables to the batter, remember if you are using courgettes or watery veg squeeze out the moisture before you add or the batter will be too runny.

 

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The recipe is so very easy so let your imagination run wild. How will you eat yours?

Ingredients

2 cups Gram flour (often called Besan flour, chickpea flour)

2 cups water

¼ cup oil – I use rapeseed oil as olive oil has too strong taste for this recipe

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Optional– fresh chopped herbs, lime or lemon zest, mixed seeds, chopped deseeded chilli, dried herbs or spices, chopped olives, sliced onion

Method

Place all the flour, water, oil salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and whisk with a balloon whisk until fully combined. Add any optional extras and stir in to combine. Place in fridge and allow to stand for at least 4 hours to allow the batter to rest and the flavours to develop

Heat a frying pan or skillet until hot. Add a dash of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add a ladle full of batter and again swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for a minute or two until set, you will see the colour change slightly. With a spatula lift the sides and release the pancake then turn over and cook the other side. Once cooked both sides and lightly browned, transfer to your plate and serve with your favourite toppings or filling. Alternatively, layer between parchment on a plate and use cold or reheat when needed. To reheat flash both sides in a hot pan. Pancakes can be kept for at least 3 days in the fridge.

Happy creating!

 

Scones with Jam- wheat,gluten,dairy,egg and sugar free!

Scones with Jam

Gluten Free/ Dairy Free/ Egg Free/ Sugar Free

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This month I was lucky enough to go to Afternoon Tea with friends, just perfect for summers afternoon. However all that sugar! Don’t get me wrong, the beautiful gluten free, vegan cakes were delicious, however, a little too sweet for my tooth. On my return I decided that  I wanted to have my own afternoon tea but without the sugar.  So a few days later on went the apron and I set about to bake a sugar free scone and some delicious sugar free jam, still with all the tempting naughtiness of the sweet treat but no added sugars.

Gluten free scones can be hard and a bit dry due to the flours however, These scones have ground almonds to keep the moisture in and some extra rice flour making them light and fluffy.

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While on a visit to The Green Grocer on Earlham Rd in Norwich  a few days after my afternoon tea I spotted these delicious looking strawberries, I was totally tempted and inspired to make my sugar free jam. Super sweet and just perfect..

 

 

 

 Scones

Makes 6 medium/8 small or 1 large tear and share scored to make 6/8 pieces.

These scones take no time at all and require no rolling out- five minutes to prepare and only ten minutes in the oven. I have used a cutter to make rounds but A great way is to make a large round with the dough and score it to make it a tear and share scone, ideal for picnics. You can use a cutter or lightly floured glass to cut your scones. This is the basic recipe that teams well with jam but, this recipe is your starting point, add a handful of grated cheese if you wish or dried fruit date and walnut combo is very tasty. Why not add some grated carrot and chopped fresh coriander lovely with some salad and pickle and a great replacement for bread with a summer salad.

Ingredients

180g gluten free plain flour

45g rice flour

30g ground almonds

2 tsp baking powder (make sure gf)

Pinch Himalayan sea salt (sea salt will do if you do not have)

90g soya yogurt (you can use Greek yogurt if you do not need it to be dairy free or other plant based yogurt if soya a problem) measure as weight as it’s difficult to measure as ml as so thick.

125 ml milk I used coconut milk but any milk will work. Plus, extra for brushing

Method

Pre heat the oven to 220oc/gas mk 7.

Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix till combined. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Lightly dust work surface with flour. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients and add the yogurt and milk, stir with a spatula to combine. (at this stage add your extra ingredients if you wish and combine gently) Dust hands with flour then tip dough out on to the floured surface. Bring dough together and gently pat into a flat about 3cm thick. Cut out your rounds using a dusted cutter or glass and place next to each other on to the lined baking sheet until all dough used. Very gently brush the top with milk and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm with a dollop of your delightful jam or keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

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Sugar Free Jam

Makes 1 jar

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Jam is a delicious and traditional treat to have with scones but for those watching their sugar intake not the greatest choice. This jam is still gorgeous and sweet but with no added sugar. Because it does not have the added sugar the shelf life is not as long as ordinary jam, but as it’s a guilt free treat and in our house never lasts the week it will keep in the fridge. You can use any  berries for this jam and I have had great success with raspberries. Strawberries and Raspberries are high in fibre and low in sugar making them the perfect fruit for this recipe. To set the jam and add extra nutrient I used chia seeds. Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fibre, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micro-nutrients.

Ingredients

450g Strawberries – large ones chopped in half

3 x tbsp Chia Seeds (I used milled seeds but whole will also work) These are now available in most health food stores, deli and some supermarkets.

2-3 x tbsp agave nectar, however rice syrup or carob syrup all work equally well. – I used rice syrup

Method

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Put the fruit in a large pan and heat gently for about 5 minutes until the fruit starts to soften. Add the Syrup and chia seeds and heat gently for a further 3-4 minutes stirring and breaking the fruit with your spatula. Remove from the heat and allow to cool and thicken. Once cooled a little decant to a jar. Store in the fridge once cooled. Serve with your freshly made scones. This recipe is great for children if you are trying to watch their sugar intake. They still love the sweetness of the jam without the added sugars. as you can see little Tia gave them a huge thumbs up!

 

The jam and scones got a huge thumbs up from little Tia.

The jam and scones got a huge thumbs up from little Tia.

 

 

Fresh Gluten Free Vegan Pasta

 

 

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It’s great that if you follow a gluten free diet you can now grab a bag of gluten free pasta at most local supermarkets but, sometimes it’s nice to be able to make fresh. The flavour is so different and it’s so easy to make. This fresh pasta is made with chickpea flour sometimes called Besan, or Gram flour. Made from ground chickpeas and has a distinctive flavour and naturally gluten free. I love the taste of chickpeas so this is a firm favourite in our house. We love it plain with a twist of lemon a little oil and lemon zest. So deliciously refreshing and very filling. If  for some reason you  need to follow a grain free diet this is a fabulous flour to have in your store cupboard, it also makes great pancakes  (Socca). Easily available in many outlets including supermarkets. This recipe  is also egg free making this pasta totally free from.

Makes 4 servings

 

 

Ingredients

2 x tbsp ground flax seeds

6 x tbsp warm water

1 ¾ cup chickpea flour plus some for rolling.

1 tsp oil (I used rapeseed oil)

 Method

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In a small bowl combine the ground or milled flax seed with the 6 tbsp warm water and set aside to thicken. You may need to stir a couple of times to mix and the flax seed to absorb all the water.

On your work surface pile your flour and make a well in the centre. Pour the flax seed mix in to the well and gently combine. At this stage the mix will be very crumbly but stick with it. Just bring together then wrap in cling film and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. You will at this stage think that what you have just made will never be pasta but the resting stage is important.

After resting divide the dough in half. There are two methods now depending if you have a pasta roller or not.

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If you have a pasta roller, start on the widest setting and put the dough through the machine a couple of times, then make the setting smaller and repeat. As the dough goes through the machine it begins to take an appearance of soft dough as the oil from the dough begins to work. Once the dough is thin enough cut into strips, or squares and pinch together to make bows. Repeat with other half of dough.

If you do not have a pasta roller it does not matter the same effects can be achieved with a rolling pin. Half your dough as it’s easier to work with a little at a time. Lightly dust your work surface to prevent sticking. Roll the dough out quite thin, it will be quite crumbly at this stage but this will change. Fold the dough in half then in half again and roll out. You should notice the dough becoming more pliable. Repeat this again. Once you have your desired thickness cut into strip or as above cut into small squares and pinch the centre to make bows. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Gently drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook as it will break up. Drain and serve.

Stir in a spoonful of spinach pesto and top with grated lemon zest or simply enjoy dressed with a little oil and squeeze of lemon and zest.

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