Friday, February 24, 2012

Gluten News

Some recent articles on gluten that will give you some food for thought!....

While I think these posts would hold more clout if they weren't followed up with "please buy my book", they do raise some interesting points.

    Coeliac Comic strip Blog

    I love this cute comic strip blog called Celeriacs.  So funny! Soo true!
    Never thought I'd laugh about coeliacs!!  Check it out!

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Baba Ganoush

    aka... roast aubergine dip.  This is so simple to make and delicious.  It makes a nice change from homous and has a more subtle flavour.

    3 aubergines (buy big value pack)
    half clove garlic
    1 tsp tahini (optional)
    2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
    1tbsp lemon juice
    salt + pepper

    Prick the aubergines and roast them in a hot oven for half an hour or until they've gone wrinkly and soft. Let them cool in a plastic bag in the fridge.

    Peel and roughly chop the roasted aubergines.  Blitz with the other ingredients in a food processor (or if you don't have one they're soft enough to mash with a fork).  Keep in a sealed pot in the fridge for 2-3 days.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012


    This week I made some little gluten free pies in my silicone muffin molds. I was really happy with the pastry which was a bit experimental. I added gram flour for it's binding properties and ground almonds to soften the pastry. It doesn't brown much, but you could always glaze it with beaten egg before baking.

    2 cups GF plain flour/rice flour
    1/2 cup chick pea flour
    1/4 cup ground almonds
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp xanthum

    1 cup marg.

    1 egg, beaten with approx. 1/4 cup water

    Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the marg. Add the egg and water and knead until well combined. If it is crumbly add a little more water - if it then gets sticky add a little more flour.

    You should have a soft dough that can be rolled. I find it falls apart more easily than wheat dough, so I roll it out on a silicone baking sheet with a silicone rolling pin, dusted with corn flour.

    Roll out the dough and using cookie cutters, cut out a large circle to press into the base of each muffin mould and a smaller circle to use for the top of each pie.

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Flours for your cupboard

    When I started on gluten-free eating years ago I greatly resisted having a cupboard full of different pots of flour where I once only had one (wheat). But over time I've settled into which  gluten free flours are good to use for what.

    I don't know if it's the effect of the recession hitting smaller firms/co-operatives or what, but I've been finding it harder and harder to source speciality flours that are GF:

    • Holland and Barrat's NealsYard flour ranges aren't guaranteed GF and I suspected I might be reacting the the brown rice flour. Although, misleadingly the only allergen info on the packs say possible sesame/nut CC - I emailed them and they said that they cannot guarantee GF as cereals are processed in their factories.
    • Tesco have stopped selling the community foods soya, potato and rice flour.
    • Polenta - it seems impossible to find a brand guaranteed GF!  None of the brands I've found say anything about GF on them and when emailed they can't say they are GF - Merchant gourmet and Natco to name a couple that I can't tolerate.  Very frustrating as it was quite a good substitute for breadcrumbs and good in cakes to make them feel less starchy,

    As a result, I've had to simplify my use of GF flours for baking etc

    This is now what I keep in my kitchen:
    Corn starch - Use in baking to help with the texture of cakes/biscuits.  Can be used as a sauce thickener (I think potato starch is better though). Buy in normal baking section of any supermarket
    Potato starch - I use this as a clear sauce/gravy thickener.  Mix 2 tbsp with a little water in a cup and stir into your sauce whilst heating gently. It will soon go clear and thicken. buy in Asian stores.
    Ground almonds - I add this to pastry/cracker dough to give it a softer texture.
    Soya Flour - I buy in bulk from Sussex wholefoods (Healthy
    Doves GF bread flour - from any supermarket. It is a mix of flours and a little xanthum.
    Doves GF self-raising flour - from any supermarket. It is a mix of flours, with a little xanthum  and a little baking soda.

    Pre-cooked rice powder - this makes baby porridge, just add hot water.  Also good for travelling breakfast.  Add jam or stewed fruit. Buy in baby sachets or in bigger bags in Asian supermarkets.


    I make bread/pasta/pastry with 2/3rds generic GF flour and 1/3rd soya flour.

    For cakes I use just the generic Self-raising.

    Glycemic Index (G.I.) of carbohydrates
    Other than cost and lack of variety on the freefrom shelves, another big motivation for baking at home  is that I try to use less refined starch flours than I can find in shop-bought goods.  These flours have a high glycemic index meaning they release energy too quickly and don't fill you up for long (but they do help the final texture of cakes/biscuits).  A GF diet can be very high G.I. (Glycemic Index) so you may find yourself experiencing blood sugar highs and lows because of your choice of carbs.  Try to use more whole grain flours and beany flours and limit your use of refined starch/white flours.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Home-made Crackers

    Fed up with spending a fortune on over-priced, unexciting and sometimes downright tasteless crackers?!  Try making your own!!  It's actually quite simple.  And these should be much lower GI than shop bought crackers too *yay*

    1 cup brown rice flour
    1 cup chickpea Flour (gram flour)
    1/2 cup ground almonds
    1 tbsp corn starch (or tapioca starch)
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp garlic powder (morrisons sell this)
    1 tsp onion powder
    1 tsp herbs
    1/2 tsp xanthum
    2-3 tbsp seeds (poppy, crushed pumpkin)

    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 egg, whisked with 1/3 cup warm water
    1 tbsp honey

    Mix all the dry ingredients and then add in the wet ones.  It will make a firm, slightly crumbly dough.  If it falls apart add a little more water but not so much it gets sticky.  Now roll out as thin as you can onto a lined baking sheet (use a silicone rolling pin or coat a spatula with some oil.  Bake for 20-30 mins until crisp.  Cut into squares and serve with humous, baba ganoush or other similar dip.

    Home-made moisturisers!

    Okay so not technically relevant to going GF and DF foodwise but when you get into the habit of reading every label for food, it gets you wondering what everything is made out of....and I have to say that there are a lot of undesirable ingredients in most moisturisers like mineral/paraffin oil and parabens. I already avoid deodorants that contain aluminium.

    So it got me thinking that if it's best to moisturise your baby with edible oils why not grown-ups too? Well, it turns out that you can make your own moisturisers pretty simply and I've been making my own lip balms for years as I find them more effective than the vaseline-based ones anyway.


    3/4 cups hot water
    1/4 cup emulsifying wax
    1/4 - 1/3 cup vegetable oil 
    1 tsp citric acid
    essential oil (for aroma)

    Melt the oils and waxes in  a pyrex jug in the microwave. Mix in the water, aroma and citric acid thoroughly, using a balloon whisk (or hand blender).  Pour into jars. Leave to cool and thicken.

    Basic lip balm
    25g Beeswax pellets
    50ml Vegetable Oil
    1ml Essential Oil (for aroma)

    Melt the oil and wax in a bain marie, stiring well. Take off the heat and stir in the essential oil. Pour into clean jars or lip balm tubes. Leave to set.

    Aloe Face cream
    100ml Aloe gel
    50ml Jojoba oil (or Apricot or Almond oil)
    tbsp emulsifying wax, melted (in microwave)

    Put the 3 ingredients in a bowl and whisk by hand or mix with an electric food processor until it turns white and thickens to an emulsion. Put your cream in bottles and store in the fridge until you need them.


    Many people think it's a good idea to avoid using products from the petrochemical industry on your skin (e.g.vaseline/baby oil). Paraffin wax/oil isn't absorbed by your skin and can block pores, unlike it's natural alternative beeswax. In addition, petro-derived preservatives called parabens are also widely used in skin care products but some scientists believe there's a link between these and breast cancer.

    But, if you are trying to avoid mineral/parafin oil you'll struggle to find any lip balms or moisturisers that don't contain them. You can make your own easily and cheaply because you don't need many ingredients and you can make in bulk. Baldwins, Soap Kitchen and Aromantics all have a great selection of ingredients, essential oils and pots. Have fun choosing your own fragrances/aromas by choosing which essential oils to add!

    Good kitchen hygiene will make your creams last longer so clean all equipment thoroughly and avoid dipping your finger in the creams whilst making - place all utensils and pots on your sink's draining board and pour over kettle-hot water to sterilise before using.  Because of the high oil/wax ratio, l
    ip balms will keep for years, but if you're making moisturisers with a body butter or water base, it's a good idea to make them in small pots and store in the fridge/freezer until you need them as they won't keep as long. I've added citric acid as a preserver but you could also use vitamin e or grape seed extract to improve the shelf life of your creams.  My basic moisturiser will keep for a couple of months out of the fridge.