Tag Archives: sugar free

Fresh Fig and Amaretto Clafoutis

12 Aug Fresh Fig & Amaretto Clafoutis

s4I love fresh figs. I love the smell of them when they are on the trees. It smells like coconut sun cream when I run past them with the dog. Like Hawaian Tropic. I also think Jo Malone’s perfume, Wild Fig & Cassis, smells like coconut too. That’s my favourite summer fragrance, in case you were wondering. Which you weren’t. That and Clarins Eau Dynamisante.

fig

So back to figs. That actually may be the smell of them rotting on the ground. That’s the thing with fig trees, you always end up with a glut of figs. We are coming to the end of the early season figs here at the moment called “Brevas”. They are larger and darker coloured whereas the later season ones “Higos”, that are starting to ripen now, are smaller and light green.

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So what do you do with a mountain of fresh figs? I do have a lot of recipes using fresh figs like this Fiery Fig Chutney, this Fresh Fig & Goats Cheese Quiche, and this Fresh Fig & Almond Ice Cream.

Fresh Fig & Amaretto Clafoutis

But my favourite at the moment is this clafoutis. It’s quick, easy and not at all bad for you really. Amaretto aside, of course. But a world without Amaretto would be a much sadder place don’t you think?

Fresh Fig & Amaretto ClafoutisFresh Fig & Amaretto Clafoutis Recipe

Makes 3 small individual, double recipe for 1 large one

  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground almonds
  • 165 ml (3/4 cup) goat’s (or Greek) yoghurt)
  • grated zest of 1/4 orange
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of almond essence
  • 2 tsp amaretto liqueur
  • 2 or 3 figs quartered
  • flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 180C and oil & flour your tins or terracotta dishes.

Separate the yolks and the whites into 2 bowls. Whisk the yolks and honey until pale and creamy. Gently fold in the flour & ground almonds and stir in the yoghurt, essences, amaretto, salt & orange zest.

With an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until firm and fluffy like meringue. Add a little of the whites to the other mixture to loosen it then carefully fold in the rest of the whites trying not top deflate them too much. When the white is incorporated into the rest, pour the mixture into the prepared dishes and top with the pieces of fig.

Bake for about 15 minutes then scatter over a few flaked almonds and bake for another 5 minutes until cooked. Longer for a large clafoutis.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh Fig & Almond Clafoutis

Enjoy!!

Natalie

Kimchi – Korean Chilli and Ginger Cabbage Pickle

25 Mar Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

I think Kimchi is probably one of those Love or Hate things, like Marmite. I’m definitely a lover not a hater of both. I can see why you would be put off I suppose. I mean it’s fermented cabbage for want of a better description. Kids will love it.

Chinese Cabbage & Korean Chiili Flakes

It’s my new favourite thing. If you have never heard of it, where have you been? It’s a spicy Korean cabbage pickle (or condiment really) that can be used to liven up a huge amount of dishes. There are recipes using it all over the internet for Kimchi Fried Rice and Kimchi Pancakes among other things. It is a really versatile thing to have in your fridge for those “What are we having for lunch/dinner that only takes 15 minutes” moments.

Kimchi

This recipe is healthier than most as it uses an apple for sweetness rather than the evil sugar monster. We like that.

Korean Kimchi

Korean Kimchi Recipe

Makes 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free.

Adapted from Dr Ben Kim & Centre Stage Wellness

  • 1 Chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage) the long ones (about 500g)
  • 4 Tbsp sea salt
  • about 450 ml (2 cups) warm water
  • 4 Tbsp Korean red chilli flakes/kimchi chilli powder (buy from Asian stores)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3-4 spring onions/scallions, sliced 
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 large apple
  • 1/2 onion

Discard any outer damaged leaves, separate off all the cabbage leaves, rinse and chop into bite-size pieces. Dissolve the sea salt in the bowl of warm water, pour it over the cabbage and mix it well. Leave it to sit for at least four hours.

Rinse the cabbage well to remove excess salt then put it in a large bowl. Mix the Korean chilli flakes with a few tablespoons of warm water to create a paste, add the minced garlic and ginger and stir together well. Pour this onto the cabbage, stir through the spring onions and fish sauce if using.

Blend the cored apple with the 1/2 onion and about 200 ml (3/4 cup) water then add this to the cabbage as well. Mix everything together really well with a wooden spoon or with your hands (using gloves) to make sure everything is well-distributed.

Transfer the cabbage with a clean spoon into a large sterilised glass jar or bottle, pressing it down well each time as you stack it up. Pour over any liquid remaining in the bowl but leave about 2 inches clear at the top of the jar/bottle before sealing it up. Leave the  kimchi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

The kimchi is now ready to eat. Store it in the fridge and it will continue to ferment slowly over time. As long as you use a clean spoon every time you take some out, it should keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Korean KimchiAdd a big dollop of it to vegetable stir fries to add another level of flavour, or to this Soba Noodle Salad or this Mee Goreng. It’s great in Asian style soups with some miso.  I love it sautéed with some broccoli, soy sauce and sesame oil which you can eat with noodles or add the whole lot to an omelette made with a bit of soy sauce or even some scrambled eggs. It is a fantastic thing to have around for food emergencies.

Have I convinced you yet?

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Chewy Fruit and Nut Muesli Bars

28 Feb Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

This is the next recipe in my Sweet & Healthy series. I used to buy muesli bars all the time, I took them to work and college to snack on in the afternoon, you know when you get that craving for something sweet. The companies that make these spend millions on packaging and marketing to make you believe that they are the healthy alternative and are actually good for you.

So no true.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Nearly all of them are packed with sugar and oil or butter so that any goodness you might be getting from the fruit, seeds and nuts is completely irrelevant. You might as well buy a toffee apple with a side order of candy floss.

Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Making your own is really quick and easy, you have complete control over what goes in them and you aren’t paying for fake organic looking packaging and advertising campaigns with sunny farms in them. If you don’t like raisins leave them out, prefer hazelnuts to almonds then put them in instead.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars Recipe

Makes 8-12 depending how you cut them. Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 90 g (1 cup) oats (gf)
  • 5 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • 4 Tbsp oat milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little oil.

Put the chopped banana, oats, coconut, vanilla, flaxmeal, cinnamon and honey in a food processor and pulse together slowly. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse together again. You can blend it really well or leave some bits chunky.

Tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet and shape it into a flat, even square about 1/2 cm thick with a spatula. It takes a bit of time & patience to make it even but they will be easier to cut into squares or rectangles later. Top with a few more flaked almonds and sunflower seeds and press them down a bit.

Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. Cut into 12 squares or 8 rectangles while still warm. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

It is my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop this Saturday 2nd March 5pm-9m. We will be making and tasting:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Dark Chocolate & Orange Almond Torte

Chocolate, Date & Walnut Energy Truffles

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

All of these recipes use wholemeal spelt flour or ground almonds rather than processed flours. We use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and use honey, maple syrup or miel de cana instead of refined sugars.

Here’s a preview of the cookies. If you are lucky I might have time to share the recipe with you next week…

Vegan Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

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Caramelised Baby Leek Spelt Flour Tarte Tatin

26 Feb Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I bought a bunch of these baby leeks at the farmer’s market and wanted to make something special with them rather than just chopping them into other things like I would normally. They are so much easier to peel and chop than normal onions and the flavour is mild and sweet. They also cook quicker. This is why they end up being ingredients in other dishes. I am intrinsically lazy and if I have leeks (or spring onions come to that) in the house the normal onions just sit there waiting.

Baby Leeks

Making a Tarte Tatin is not as scary as it sounds. You just have to be confident when you turn it out. And this one has none of the butter and sugar used to make the caramel that is usually abundant. I use honey and balsamic vinegar instead. You still get the nice sticky, sweet and caramelised effect that you need in a Tarte Tatin just fewer calories and less messing about. Yay.

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I used my olive oil spelt flour pastry (recipe here) for this tarte but you could use shop bought puff or shortcrust pastry if you like. I used about half of the pastry for this 8 inch tarte. Use the rest to make a quiche or empanadas.

You will need an ovenproof frying pan/skillet with a metal handle (plastic melts in the oven and gets messy). The amounts below are for my 8 inch/20 cm frying pan that serves 1 (or 2 at a push) with a nice salad. Whatever size you make you will need to fill the pan snugly with the leeks so adjust the amounts accordingly.

Caramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin Recipe

Serves 1-2. Vegetarian

  • about 250 g baby leeks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • dried thyme
  • balsamic or sherry vinegar syrup reduction (it comes in squeezy bottles)
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • finely grated manchego/parmesan
  • olive oil spelt flour pastry (or your choice of pastry)

Preheat the oven to 200 C. On a floured surface,  roll out the pastry to about 2 or 3 mm thick and cut out a circle about the same size as the top of the frying pan. Put in the fridge to rest.

Prepare the leeks by cutting off the dark green ends, cutting in half lengthwise and rinsing under the tap to remove any dirt hiding under the layers.

Put the olive oil in the frying pan/skillet and cover the base, round side down with a snug/tight even row of leeks. You can trim the leeks to fit the pan You want to fill any gaps as much as possible. Drizzle over the honey and balsamic vinegar syrup. Season well with thyme, salt & pepper and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs and a little grated cheese all over the top of the leeks and remove from the heat.

Cover the leeks with the circle of pastry and tuck the edges down the inside of the pan encasing the leeks. Prick all over the top of the pastry with a sharp knife and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on size) until the pastry is cooked.

Using oven gloves, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When ready to turn out, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using oven gloves if still hot, place a large plate upside down on top of the pan and press down hard, then quickly and carefully flip the whole thing over so the pan is upside down and the tarte falls out onto the plate. Remove the pan and replace any leeks that may have fallen out of their place.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a simple green salad.

sCaramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

The only thing to be scared of is picking up the hot pan without oven gloves. Don’t do it. It really hurts. But the tarte was worth it.

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Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

18 Feb Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is the next recipe from my Sweet & Healthy series that I didn’t realise I was doing until I just looked at all the recipes and photos I had waiting to publish and noticed that they were all sweet treats that are good for you. The previous recipe in the (now) series was for this Vegan Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is because The Washer Up likes something sweet to take to work with his lunch and I always end up snacking on whatever it is too, so it has to be healthy. These are brilliant for breakfast if you don’t have time to make anything and terrific for that afternoon tea break when you need a sweet fix.

Apple & Pear Oatmeal Muffins

They are like sweet apple and cinnamon porridge in a handy portable muffin disguise. And the oats really do keep you full for longer, it’s true. There is no butter and no sugar in these just olive oil and honey for sweetness. I made them using ground almonds to keep them gluten-free but you could use wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour instead.

I adapted the recipe from an amazing website called The Healthy Chef. I have the feeling it won’t be the last time I use one of her recipes if these muffins are anything to go by.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffin

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Makes about 12 muffins. Gluten-free. Adapted from The Healthy Chef

  • 200 g (2 cups) rolled oats (GF)
  • 125 g (1 cup) ground almonds (or wholemeal/spelt flour)
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) flax meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) raisins (I used moscatel, so juicy)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml/1 cup (2 small pots) goat’s (or Greek) yoghurt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 1 pear

Preheat oven to 160 C and line your muffin tin with paper cases.

Add the oats, flax meal, raisins, yoghurt, oil, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, honey and beaten eggs to a bowl and mix together. Leave to soak for 10 minutes to soften the oats.

Then grate in the apple with the skin and any juice up to the pips and mix through. Then add the ground almonds (or flour) and fold in gently.

Use an ice cream scoop (or large spoon) to fill the muffin cases then sprinkle over a few oats. Bake for 15 minutes then slice the pear into thin circles and place one on top of each muffin. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Brush the tops with a little honey while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Coming up soon in my Sweet & Healthy series: Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars and Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies.

Hasta Pronto!

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Vegan Banana Bread with Dates and Almonds

11 Feb Vegan Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread with Dates and Almonds

This delicious banana bread is vegan and it also has the virtuous label of no added fats. There is no butter, oils, eggs or refined sugars either. I have added one tablespoon of honey to the whole loaf but you could use agave syrup or leave it out altogether if you like.

The sweetness comes from using very ( or even over) ripe bananas and lovely squidgy Medjool dates. I made it using a combination of wholemeal spelt flour, ground almonds and flaxmeal. This makes it healthy, wheat-free, moist and tasty. You can’t go wrong really.

Vegan Banana Date & Almond Bread

It is perfect for breakfast or to take to work for that mid afternoon pick me up without the guilt. It is lovely toasted and drizzled with a little honey but is just as satisfying as it is. The more mature the bananas (i.e.: blackening) the better, it makes them easier to mash and they taste more sweet and banana-y.

Vegan Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds Recipe

Makes 1 loaf. I used a 1 litre capacity loaf tin. Vegan, Wheat Free, Oil Free, Refined Sugar Free

Adapted from Love Food Eat

  • 2 Tbsps. flax meal mixed with 6 Tbsps. warm water
  • 135 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 15 g (1 Tbsp) flax meal
  • 110 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 large Medjool dates, stoned and finely chopped
  • 2 very ripe bananas, well mashed/blended
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup (optional)
  • flaked almonds for the top
  • sesame & flax seeds for the top (optional)

Mix the 2 Tbsp flax meal with 6 Tbsp warm water and leave for about 10 minutes until gooey. This is known as flax egg. Preheat the oven to 175 C and line the loaf tin with some baking paper.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, 15 g flaxmeal, ground almonds, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt. Then stir through the chopped dates.

Add in the mashed/blended bananas, the flax egg mixture and the honey/agave syrup if using. Mix together until combined to a stiff dough but don’t over work. Tip this into the lined tin, spread it out evenly and top with some flaked almonds, sesame seeds & flax seeds, if using, and press them down a bit.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and leave to cool completely before slicing if you can. It is easier to slice when cool.

Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds

Don’t be alarmed it doesn’t rise much but is delicious all the same. Store in an airtight container or wrapped in a tea towel somewhere cool. Toasting it comes into play if it lasts longer than a few days and has become a little stale. It brings it back to life and is enhanced even more by some of this vanilla apple sauce or honey.

Vegan Banana Date & Almond Bread

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Wild Fennel Flowers

These are some photos I took back in October of the wild fennel flowers that grow alongside the road where I run with the dog in the morning. They’re delicately beautiful.

It turns out that one of the major food trends predicted for 2013 is fennel pollen. It is appearing on a lot of the most forward thinking menus used as an ingredient or garnish with fish or as an aroma (by burning the pollen over the finished plate) on many other exciting dishes. Apparently it is quite difficult to get, you can order it online and it is quite expensive.

Wild Fennel Flowers

Not here it isn’t, it’s free and growing wild at the side of the road! Rufus even likes to have a sniff as he goes down for a drink in the stream. Hilarious isn’t it.

I am definitely researching this more and will be bringing you some recipes featuring “foraged” fennel pollen at the end of the summer!

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Unbelieveably Easy Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream

16 Aug alls side clear close

This ice cream is amazingly simple to make and it’s vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and guilt-free. It also tastes lovely. Don’t believe me? Just try it and see. You’re going to love me for this, I promise.

As you probably know I have a huge bag of fresh figs in my freezer (thanks Leigh) and am desperately trying to use them up. The thing is they don’t seem to be going down.  I’ve made Fig Chutney, Fig Jam, Fig Muffins, Fig Granola Crumble, and just recently Fig & Feta Sambouseks.

While I was out walking this morning with the dog, taking pictures of  figs, I felt something crunching under my feet. I  looked down and saw that I was walking over almonds (not Driving Over Lemons).  In the tree above my head I saw that the almond kernels are now hatching out of their furry jackets and falling to the ground.

I picked up as many as I could carry and took them home. The thing is I don’t have any nutcrackers but they look great in the pictures. I must buy some nutcrackers though.

Anyway, back to the ice cream. I’ve seen a few recipes recently for an ice cream made just using frozen bananas. You just freeze them and then whiz them in a blender, that’s it. So I threw a couple of bananas that were going a bit brown into the freezer.

The next day when I went to retrieve them I realised that it was going to be impossible to peel the things because the skins were frozen solid. I’m such an idiot, you are supposed to peel and chop them up first!

Thankfully I found Sawsan’s recipe which explained this in detail so I tried again (with different bananas). I added some coconut milk to get it going, grated coconut and lime zest too. You can eat it like a slushy straight away or freeze it for a few hours to firm it up.

While I was looking in the freezer I saw the huge bag of figs and wondered if it would work with them just as well. So I tried them, and it did. I used low-fat coconut milk and ground almonds for creaminess and vanilla extract for a little sweetness.  I’m sure Greek yoghurt would be lovely in this too if you didn’t want to use coconut milk.

So there it is. A simple ice cream made without an ice cream maker or all that tedious stirring every hour. Just use frozen fruit and blend it with coconut milk or yoghurt and add any other flavourings you like.

Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream Recipe

Makes about 1/2 litre, easily doubled, vegan, gluten-free

  • 8 fresh figs (frozen for 24 hours before using)
  • about 200 ml (1/2 tin), low-fat coconut milk, shake the tin before opening
  • 55 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Take the figs out of the freezer, quarter them and put them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to get it going then blend until well mixed and smooth. Taste, if you want it sweeter add some honey.

Eat straight away if you can’t wait or pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for a couple of hours or more until firm. That’s it. How easy is that?

Serve sprinkled with the toasted flaked almonds.

The possibilities are endless. I want to try mango and banana next time with coconut milk. If you want to add some texture with nuts or broken up cookies, (I’m thinking crushed Amaretti biscuits) stir them through after you’ve blended then freeze as usual.

Just remember to peel and chop the bananas, if using, before you freeze them…..

Things That made Me Smile Today……………..

We picked up our new cushions at the weekend for the banquette seat on our terrace.

I’m really pleased with them. The guy that made them has done a fantastic job.

I’m thinking “Ralph Lauren in Provence”….

I just wish it would cool down a bit so I could sit outside and enjoy them!

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