Flourless and Lactose Friendly Avocado and Chocolate Brownies

avocado brownies

I’m always excited to try my hand at some gluten free baking, specifically because I’m not a very good baker so when the bake turns out as good as this one, its pretty rewarding.I usually turn to my favourite beetroot brownie recipe but thought I might try my hand at adding a different vegetable to the mix.

I’m a sucker for avocados, I eat about one a day, for lunch or for breakfast, I think I have a problem. So what better way to continue my habit by making some gluten free, lactose friendly avocado brownies.The avocado can replace the butter that is usually included. Now I’m not claiming these brownies to be super healthy but replacing full fat butter with a healthy saturated fat, sounds good to me.

I checked out a few recipes online and most used US cup measurements. I didn’t really mind as I have cups so I didn’t have to go to the effort of  converting the measurements but for the sake of this recipe I’ve changed the measurements in to grams.

To make the brownies you will need:

2 mashed up ripe avocados

125 g of dark chocolate

2 large eggs

128 g of cocoa powder

60 g of caster sugar

1 tbsp of vanilla essence

2 tbsp of water

a pinch of salt

1tsp of Gluten Free Baking Powder

Begin by preheating your oven at 180°C. Grease and line a tray with baking paper (I used a small tray as I knew the mix wouldn’t make a lot of brownies) Some may say greasing is enough but for some reason my bakes have always stuck when I simply so this.

Begin by melting your chocolate, either in the microwave or a bain-marie. Mash up your avocado and add the eggs, vanilla essence and water, I used a hand blender here to make the mix smooth.

Sieve the cocoa powder and sugar, add this, along with salt and baking powder to the avocado mix and add the chocolate when its melted. I also added some small chucks of dark chocolate just as an added bonus. The mix isn’t as wet as previous times I’ve made brownies but don’t worry as they’ll be super fudgy.

Add to the tray and bake for around 20 minutes. The brownies won’t rise so don’t be shocked if they remain the same level as when you put them in. They may have been a lot thinner than previous bakes but these are probably the fudgiest, tastiest brownies I’ve ever had.

I left them to cool and had one with some hot chocolate, they tasted great the next day too. A lot of the recipes said they kept in the fridge for a few days after but my boyfriend tried one three days later and said they were tasting slightly off. No need to worry though, bake these brownies and they’ll be gobbled up in seconds.

Anybody have any unconventional baking recipes they’d like to share?

Gluten Free tempura batter with a chilli and ginger dipping sauce

tempura

So on my days off work I like to try my hand at something I’ve never made before. Today I decided to make tempura batter and try an Asian style dish. I’ve tried Tempura in restaurants before, when I’ve been assured its just been made from corn flour and its always been a lovely light batter.

Sadly I didn’t have corn flour and also didn’t realise this until I went to make the dish so I just used Doves Plain Flour and I think it turned out pretty well. I’ve seen recipes suggesting adding corn flour or potato flour to regular plain flour and as this GF mix contains potato flour I figured by just using a bit more flour it would work out fine.

Once you’ve made the batter you can pretty much make anything ‘tempura’. I decided on courgettes, prawns and squid but I think next time I will definitely try aubergine.

To make the batter you will need:

100g of gluten free plain flour

200 ml of ice cold water (for a lighter batter try soda water)

half tsp of salt

1 egg yolk

For the dip:

Glug of sweet chilli sauce

an inch of fresh ginger, finely grated

1 tbsp of GF soy sauce

Begin my filling a large pot full of sunflower oil and putting on a high heat.

The batter couldn’t be more simple, just add all the ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Make sure whatever you are battering is dry. I had used frozen prawns and squid which were in a bath of cold water whilst they defrosted, so I made sure these were bone dry by patting them with a piece of kitchen roll before submerging them.

You can chop your veg which ever way you desire but I think slicing the courgette width wise helped achieve an even cook.

I decided to serve this dish with a rice noodle and cucumber salad and some char-grilled pak choi. Whilst my oil was heating up I but the dry rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water and chopped my cucumber in to batons. I began char-grilling the pak choi on one side using my griddle pan, no need for a frying agent, I cooked the leaves dry.

Once the oil is ready place your desired food in to the batter. I battered the courgettes first as I knew these would take the longest. I cooked these for about two minutes, the squid for about a minute and a half and as the prawns were pre-cooked I cooked them for about one minute because I didn’t want them to be overcooked.

Once the tempura food was done I placed them on a piece of kitchen roll to get rid of any excess oil.

Now all that’s left is to mix all the ingredients for your dip together and ensemble your salad. I drained my noodles, and mixed them with the cucumber and some sesame oil and served the whole dish together.

I think next time I try the batter I will use soda water just to try and get a really nice light batter. This would be a great meal to serve for friends coming round, get a whole array of food and present it as a serve yourself style meal with lots of nice salads to go.

Dom x

Gluten Free Butter Chicken

butter chicken

Well its been a very long time since I posted something on the ol’ blog. I’ve still been cooking away but I’ve just struggled to find the time to keep this updated. I’ll be trying to post regularly from now on though.

It may be March but it snowed this morning in Belfast so I’m not quite ready for salads and spring veg just yet. I decided to cook Butter Chicken today. It’s one of my favourite curries and naturally gluten free.

To serve four:

six boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chopped in to cubes

Marinade

1 tbsp natural yoghurt

1 tbsp mild chilli powder

1 tsp of garam masala

1 tsp of grated garlic

1 tsp of grated ginger

squeeze of tbsp lemon juice

Sauce

handful of tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tin of  chopped tomatoes

1 tsp mild chilli powder

1 tbsp of ground almonds

1 tsp ground fenugreek

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp turmeric powder

handful of coriander, chopped

30g butter

30ml single cream

1 chopped pepper

Rice to serve

Begin by mixing together all the ingredients for the marinade and stir in the chicken. If you have time, leave it in the fridge for a few hours. Sadly I only had time to marinade the chicken for half an hour so the flavour wasn’t as intense as it could be.

In a large pot, add the tomatoes and chopped tomatoes, along with all the spices. Whilst this is reducing you can begin cooking the chicken in another pan or on a griddle using skewers.

Once the sauce has reduced add the ground almonds and blitz with a hand blender, return to a low heat. Add the peppers to the pan with the chicken once the chicken is nearly cooked. When these are done you can add to the sauce. Stir in the butter and the cream and serve with rice.

I must admit, it took all my will power not to eat the whole thing.

This may not be the most healthiest dish I’ve posted and if you don’t have the spices in the cupboard already then it can add to the weekly grocery bill. But when it still feels like winter outside there is every excuse to grab a massive bowl of butter chicken and enjoy

Dom x

Quick guide to feel good foods for IBS

Recently I’ve not been feeling myself, lethargic, grumpy and experiencing a lot of pain in the ol’ gut department. My IBS has flared up over the past few months and it seems it’s back with a vengeance. I got my IBS diagnosis when I was 17 and for years nothing helped. It wasn’t until two years ago I thought there might be a correlation between my symptoms and gluten and eventually I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Since following a gluten free diet I’ve felt fine, only getting a flare up when I’ve been glutened (whether accidental or admittedly not having any will power to say no). However, for over a month now I’ve been feeling terrible. I was keeping a food diary to see if some new allergy had reared its ugly head and found nothing. I couldn’t link it to stress because my life has been pretty stress free recently and I haven’t ate gluten in a very long time.  I am stumped as to why I’m feeling this way and whilst there is no quick answer I am keen to find a quick remedy.

I’ve never really found IBS medication helpful, it may relieve pain temporarily but I don’t like becoming reliant on a tablets and I’ve  only found light relief when my IBS is particularly bad. I bought pro-biotic digestive support tablets and found they didn’t help either so over the past few weeks I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure my diet is aimed at helping relieve my IBS.

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As much as I love coffee, if I drink too much or try to down a cup before I head off to work in the morning I get jittery and slightly nauseous. So, to combat tiredness I drink a lot of peppermint tea. Peppermint tea has been a life savour recently as I’ve been feeling extra lethargic with the pains of IBS. If you aren’t partial to a hot drink, peppermint oil is also a great way to combat IBS too, a few drops in water can really help to ease bloating and cramps.

My second favourite thing at the moment, and one of the biggest food trends going, is kale. I’ve seen everything from kale crisps to kale sorbet. Although I’ve not been THAT adventurous I’ve been adding it to smoothies and making it a main ingredient in all sorts of salads. Having it in a smoothie really helps my level me out first thing in the morning so I can get on with my day and not dwell on a bloated tummy.

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kale, asparagus, courgette, corn and squid salad with pesto

I may be jumping the gun slightly as I only bought these yesterday but I’m astounded at the quick fix effects of the Linwoods Flaxseed mixes. Flaxseed, also known as linseed, has anti-inflammatory qualities that help relieve the horrible bloating we get with an IBS flare up. Linseeds on their own aren’t meant to be very nice but these mixes are pre-milled and filled with other sweet and savoury options. I added the cocoa and berries one to my morning smoothie and sprinkled it over my porridge and I bought a mix with goji berries, pumpkin and sesame seeds which will be perfect for bulking up soups and stews.

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I’m starting to feel a bit better this week but I’m still determined to get to the bottom of the problem rather then settle for a few quick fix solutions. What are your go to foods when you get hit with a bought of IBS?

Dom

x

Lunchbox Special: Shin of Beef Chilli

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When I asked my friends recently what type of posts they’d like to see me do they all said lunches for people with hectic schedules. Now that we’re all old, boring and busy I thought I’d oblige and do a few posts, this being the first, that consider lunch time meals that are easy to bring to work.

Now I know slow cooked chilli doesn’t exactly scream ‘quick and easy’ but if you prep this meal on a Sunday night, you’ll have plenty to do some lunches and some dinners too, depending on your portion size and how many mouths are being fed.

The recipe below lasted five days for lunch and two dinner portions.

To make this you will need: 

Two medium sized beef shins

one tin of chopped tomatoes

one tin of pulses (I used cannellini as I had them in the cupboard)

two red chillies, finely chopped

two large onions, roughly chopped

two tbsp of tomato puree

one tsp of paprika

one tsp of mild chilli powder

one tsp of cayenne pepper

one pint of beef stock

one yellow pepper

one green pepper

To serve:

sour cream

cheese

avocado

coriander

rice

This couldn’t be an easier dish to cook. I started by browning my beef shins and onions in a pan for about 5 miuntes. I then added these along with the chopped tomatoes, spices, the tomato puree, chopped chilli’s and beef stock.

I cooked this for two/three hours and then added the beans and peppers (cut the peppers however you like them, doesn’t really matter). I cooked for a further half hour and then left to cool. I had some the Sunday I cooked it and then took it in to work with some rice for the next five days, its a brilliant dish if you have microwave facilities but also nice cold.

I wouldn’t take a dinner sized portion for my lunch which is why the dish went so far. I brought some avocado and sour cream to work with me too which filled me up slightly more. I would really recommend using a slow cooked cut of beef to make chilli rather that mince steak. It adds such a meaty flavour and the two shins came to the same price as a medium packet of mince.

I’m trying to plan more veggie and vegan friendly dishes to cook at the minute and I’ll be out and about more doing some restaurant reviews in the coming weeks.

Dom

Irish Stew

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In preparation for St Paddy’s Day I decided to make a traditional Irish stew. This is probably one of my favourite meals, perfect comfort food for a cold night. Even though it’s spring and we’ve been blessed with some sunshine, we’re still experiencing some cold clear evenings so a big bowl of stew is completely justified.

Some people will make stew using stewing beef or mince meat but to me it isn’t proper Irish stew unless you’ve used a slow cooked cut of lamb (traditionally you would use mutton but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this available to buy). I opted for lamb shanks because I managed to pick up a packet in the reduced aisle of the super market. With so many variations of Irish Stew you can throw in all sorts of veg but to keep it simple I only use five ingredients, lamb, potatoes, onion, carrot and rosemary. There’s no need to ‘sex it up’ with other flavours and ingredients.

To feed four you will need:

Two lamb shanks

two large onions

6 large maris piper potatoes, peeled and chopped in to quarters

7 carrots, peeled and chopped

a handful of fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to season

brown sauce to serve

Begin by browning the meat and onions in a large pot with some olive oil. Once these are browned, fill the pot three quarters of the way with water and leave for an hour and a half on a high heat. Once the time is up add the potatoes, carrots and rosemary and turn down the heat. You may need to add a little more water at this point but it depends on your desired thickness for the stew. I like mine quite thick and mashed through.

After half an hour check the tenderness of the lamb. The meat should be falling off the bone and all the fat rendered down. If this is not  the case cook for slightly longer.

Once the meat is tender, take out the shanks and remove the meat. You may need to chop it in to bite sized chunks even if it is pulling away from the bone. Add the meat back to the pot, stir and serve. Some of the potatoes should have mashed up slightly, creating a thick and creamy stew.

I love brown sauce on my stew but be careful and ensure its gluten free as some brands contain malt vinegar. A slice of wheaten bread also goes down a treat but I  couldn’t find a GF alternative so I would suggest you bake your own (I was eager to do this but was stuck for time today).

Now if only Guinness would do a gluten free stout and then we could all have a perfect St Paddy’s Day. A girl can dream.

Dom x

 

 

John Dory’s Gluten Free Fish and Chips

Although I prefer cooking most food from scratch and favour a healthy, balanced diet, there are times when you need to pie out. As coeliacs we’re pretty limited in the ‘junk food’ we can eat but I’m finding more places are catering to dietary requirements and I’m always keen to try a gluten free alternative.

Friends have been telling me that John Dory’s fish and chip shop have started to do gluten free batter for fish and chicken for a while now but as there isn’t a branch near where I live I hadn’t had the opportunity to try it. This evening my boyfriend and I travelled to the Ballyhackamore take away to give the gluten free batter a go.

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As far as take away food goes, I had always favoured fish and chips over other food but it has been nearly two years since I got to enjoy the well loved dish. Thankfully John Dory’s don’t charge extra for gluten free batter as so many places do when they offer an alternative. However, the chippie is quite expensive. A cod supper was £6.30 which only included fish and chips. Although its been a while since I bought a fish supper, I was used to chippies including mushy peas and a drink in the price but these were extra, as was tartar sauce.

The fish itself was delicious. The batter was light, crispy and the cod was flaky and perfectly cooked (they also provided gluten free vinegar to slather it in). I was impressed with the fish and chips themselves but I just didn’t feel like it was good value for money. I can understand why the chippie has been titled ‘Fish and Chip Shop of the Year 2014′ but in my eyes £6.30 for fish and chips plus extra for sundries isn’t worth it.

However, its nice to know that anytime I get a craving there is a place I can go for a nice fish supper. A bonus for those who live in the area, the chippie also delivers in and around Ballyhackamore and East Belfast. Hopefully they’ll start delivering to other areas soon so we can all benefit from some tasty fish and chips.

http://www.johndorys.co.uk/

Dom

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