Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Ginger & tamari Tofu & chocolate banana boat.



March! Spring is on the way! the flowers are beginning to push through and its still light at 5 30. I love spring, and as the days get sunnier and longer our lives get busier as we want to be out & about, making the most of the extra daylight hours, not spending hours slaving away over dinner.
So this is super quick, very simple but really delicious.
More & more people are eating meatless meals, whether they are turning vegetarian, vegan, or just including more plant based dishes. Tofu can be really bland and uninspiring if you're not sure what to do with it, but this Tofu dish is packed with flavour & will hopefully convert you if you've previously found it tasteless.

SERVES 2
200g Firm tofu
4 dessert spoons light oil . I used rapeseed, you can use any other mild flavoured oil.
2 dessert spoons tamari soy sauce.  (regular soy sauce is not gluten free if you need to be careful)
1 level dessert spoon ground ginger

that's it. Just 4 ingredients!

1.  Chop the tofu up into cubes as shown.


2  In a bowl, mix up the oil, tamari  & the ginger powder to make the marinade.



3 Pour the marinade over the tofu and mix well to make sure it is all covered in the sauce.
4 place in the fridge for half an hour. (or fine to be left for longer - half an hour is the minimum).
5. 15 minutes in turn the tofu over to make sure each side is evenly coated.


6.  To cook you can either stir fry it for 5 mins in a frying pan, over a medium heat until the outside starts to brown. (Its' been marinating in oil so you don't need any extra oil to cook it this way.)
Second option is to place it in an oven proof dish and pop in the oven for 30 mins (180c).

Served here with brown rice pasta, carrots, mushrooms and spinach. You can serve with rice, quinoa, any veggies you like.
Another extra finishing touch (which I forgot - sorry!) is to sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds over the tofu once its cooked.

DESSERT
Whilst your eating your tofu, take 2 bananas, slice them down the middle about 1/2 way through the banana- you're not cutting them in half! and place some chocolate squares in the gap you made as shown.


Bake in the oven (180c again) for 15 mins or until the banana skin has turned black and you can see the chocolate is melted.  Sooo easy & very delicious!

                                                          Not the prettiest I know.

That's it for this month. Happy spring everyone!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

BEETROOT CHOCOLATE POTS


February........



It's that time of year again! Hearts & flowers............................


Chocolate and beetroot.......................



Wait, What? No I haven't lost my mind. Don't go! Beetroot works really well with chocolate, gives the choc pots a really nice colour and means that dessert is packed with anti oxidents as well as being delicious.
These couldn't be easier to make, and you can make them a day in advance, leaving you more time to spend with your loved one (if you're planning a romantic dinner for two) or just eat whenever you feel like it, if it's just for you.
I know some people find valentines day pretty depressing if they're on their own, or in a relationship that isn't working that well. But this time of year when reminders of love are everywhere doesn't have to be about being in a relationship. Celebrate all the things you love most in your life. Your passions, your talents, your friends, family, pets, hopes, dreams. Anything! All the things in your life that make you happy. The more you focus on the good things, you more you will attract other good things into your life. This is honestly so true!

                                                                 two of my great loves!

So if you're on your own - great, there's more for you!

100g of cooked, peeled beetroot
100g dark chocolate
100g soy cream ( you could also use oat cream, regular dairy cream or coconut cream)
a few cherries, strawberries or raspberries to serve
50g white chocolate ( I used dairy free chocolate)

1 for the beetroot you can either use precooked beetroot (NOT the kind that is packed in vinegar!!) or bake it yourself. I make it myself as I much prefer the taste,  I take a sharp knife and poke it into the uncooked beets a few times (as you might do with a baked potato). Place into the oven at 180c for a couple of hours, or until the skin is starting to wrinkle and the beet feels soft & cooked when you poke a knife in.
2 break the chocolate up into small squares. Place in a heat proof bowl with the cream.  (note it's 100g of cream, not 100ml).
3 Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. place the bowl on top of the saucepan and let the chocolate melt. stir it as it's melting to mix it together with the cream.
4. When the chocolate is melted, transfer the chocolate/cream mix to a blender with the beetroot.
5  Blitz
6, Depending on how powerful your blender is, you may want to sieve the mixture to make sure there are no little lumps of beetroot.



7 Divide the mixture into two teacups, wine glasses, ramekins..... whatever you want to serve them in.
8 Leave in the fridge to set - preferably overnight.
9 to serve, decorate each chocolate pot with a couple of cherries, strawberries or raspberries.
9  take 50g white chocolate ( I used vegan white chocolate, you can use any you like). and melt in the same way as you melted the dark chocolate (without the cream).  When it's melted, using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the top of the choc pots.



10. return to the fridge for half an hour or so to set. Or leave in the fridge until you're ready to eat them. Yummm!


Saturday, 31 December 2016

GUT HEALING DIET

Happy new year Rabbit foodies! I hope you all had a happy Christmas. This was my present from my friend Suzanne. Cats + yoga = my life!


So 2017. The new year is a time we examine our lives. What's working, what's not, what we want more of, what we want to let go of and what we want to transform.
For me, 2016 didn't end on the highest note health wise. I found myself reacting to a lot of foods that I'd re introduced into my diet, my joints were constantly aching and some of my chronic fatigue symptoms were returning.
After some investigation I put this down to a couple of things.
Firstly I re introduced corn back into my diet & with hindsight this was a mistake. A while back a blood test showed I was cross reacting to corn, but to be honest I found cutting it out really limiting, especially when eating out, because suddenly many of the GF options weren't available to me either.

When I realised that things were going downhill I cut corn out again and saw an almost instant improvement. No more joint pain, insomnia or constant bloating, however I'm still suffering from multi food sensitivities, which is a major indication that the gut needs some healing.

The second thing is stress. I lost my Grandma, moved house and started a new job, and I'm a fairly anxious person anyway. Don't underestimate the negative impact stress can have on your health.
It ended up being a vicious cycle because the more stressed I got, the worse my digestive problems, which then made me stressed and anxious about eating out, socialising etc etc.

We can't completely avoid stress, and we don't have to in order to heal, but just simply taking time to take some slow deep breaths whenever you think of it, can have a massive impact. Also when you find yourself feeling stressed, slow things down. Your movements, your speech, everything. Smile, laugh, even if it's the last thing you feel like doing. These simple actions tells the body to switch off the stress response.
My ultimate stress busters are yoga and cuddles with my cat, but you will have your own way of de stressing.



Right, so stress taken care of, here's what I'm doing to heal my gut. I generally avoid giving advice about healing on this page, simply because I don't want people arguing that this food I've recommended is bad for this, or not healthy because of that. But the thing is there is no perfect food or perfect diet that suits everyone.
We are all free to make our own choices, and I respect the choices of others, even though they may not resonate with me personally.
So this is what is working for me and I hope in sharing it might help someone else out there.

I'm taking probiotics, L glutamine, slippery elm and turmeric as gut healing supplements.
Turmeric lattes make the best wintery drinks and are very gut friendly. you can find a ton of recipes on the internet, but I basically just whisk a heaped teaspoon of turmeric into a cup of rice milk and warm on the stove, drink. Rice milk is naturally sweet so counteracts the slightly bitter taste of the turmeric without you needing to add any sweetener.


So here's the list of NO's for me at the moment. 1. Grains. I love them, they don't love me. 2 Dairy. A really common food for people with coeliac disease to cross react with. But is also a common problem food in it's own right. Kefir is the one dairy product you may find recommended on gut healing programmes - it has numerous reported benefits. 3. Meat. Personally I don't eat meat as  a) it just doesn't feel right to me and b) I don't tolerate it well anyway. I don't believe that drinking bone broth is the only way to cure my gut issues (despite being told this a million times by well meaning nutritionists!). However I have met a number of people with coeliac disease & other autoimmune problems, who have healed on a paleo diet eating good quality meat & drinking the afore mentioned bone broth, so it's a personal choice. 5. Sugar (probably don't need to explain this one!)  6  Nuts. I'm having allergic reactions to nuts again, including coconut, so obviously these are out for me. that being said I have included some nuts in the breakfast recipe because for most people coconut oil is very beneficial for gut healing and the smoothie tastes much better (so I'm told!) with a handful of cashew nuts.
Some gut healing diets recommend you cut out potatoes, tomatoes, lentils and pulses, but those are all really good foods for me so I've kept them in. Although most people will advise you to cut out all grains, I'm actually eating white rice/ rice milk as well as pseudo grains Quinoa & buckwheat. This works for me. Likewise coconut oil, dairy kefir and bone broth which are commonly recommended, are not well tolerated at all, so they're out.

Breakfast

SMOOTHIE BOWL


Smoothies are a great choice for breakfast because you get lots of nutrients into your body first thing and also they are easy to add your supplements into. However, in the winter months I need something more warming to entice me out of bed, so the trick is to make a smoothie bowl (thicker than a smoothie you can drink) add some toppings and have with a cup of herbal tea to warm you up.



for this one you will need          Serves 1
1 pear
2 medjool dates (hidden under the spinach!)
1 piece of broccoli (you can steam it first for easier digestion if you prefer)
1 handful of spinach
1 tablespoon cashew nuts or cashew butter
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 dessertspoon protein powder of your choice

place all the ingredients in the blender, add enough plant based milk (I used rice milk) to make a smooth but thick consistency. Open a capsule of L glutamine, tip the contents into the smoothie and mix in well. Do the same with any other supplements you are taking.
Decorate with any toppings of your choice. Some people find nut or seed butters easier than whole nuts or seeds for an irritated gut.

Lunch


Lunch can be something like Quinoa, roasted butternut squash and sauerkraut. (this is red cabbage sauerkraut). This is also really good for gut healing. You can also add a spoonful of Kefir (again super good for gut healing- I don't have the time or space here to go into the benefits of these foods but there's lots of info out there if you want to know more!) If you can't tolerate dairy kefir, coconut Kefir is quite widely available, and a good alternative. ( Most Holland and Barratt stores stock it in the UK).

GUT HEALING SOUP


This is my alternative to bone broth!
You can discard the veggies and drink the broth to make a super nourishing drink, or as I have done here, make into a thick soup. To make it you will need the following.


2 ORGANIC medium potatoes. washed and scrubbed.
75g shitake mushrooms
1 medium carrot
1 x 1inch piece of ginger (peeled)
50g cabbage (I used Brussel sprouts!)
400ml vegetable stock  ( If bone broth is your thing, this would be the time to use it! - if not, you can use homemade stock or stock from a cube)
(you can also add a teaspoon of garlic puree into the soup, if it's well tolerated - it's not here!)

1 peel the potatoes and add the peel to the saucepan.  (discard the peeled potatoes - you can use them later for roasting, mashing, etc)
2  add the rest of the veggies and the stock.
3 bring to the boil, cover the pan with a lid and simmer until the carrots and potato peel are soft and cooked (about 10 mins). discard the ginger.
4 add 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, a little black pepper.
5. transfer the soup to a blender and blitz.
6 voila!
this soup should serve 2. It's quite thick, but it's easy to add more stock, or dairy free milk if you want a thinner consistency.

If you are making a broth, rather than the soup, after bringing the soup to the boil  and covering( stage 3), leave the veggies to simmer for at least an hour before straining the liquid off. - you can pour it through a sieve to get any little bits out. Keep the liquid in a sealed jar or bottle in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

SNACKS


Very ripe bananas, avocado, smoothies, dairy free yogurt - anything you can add some more L glutamine into! Another top tip is to make sure your food is not too cold (frozen fruit in smoothies) or too hot (piping hot soup or hot chocolate). Both these extremes "shock" the system, briefly producing the stress response, which is damaging to the gut and also shut down digestion . By the same token, other stimulants, such as caffeinated tea & coffee are best left out too if you can. (I'm sorry!)

Overall the message is to make 2017 the year you get back in touch with you. The foods your body wants and needs (at the moment, because we are constantly changing). Listen to the advice of others who have achieved the things you are aiming for, take on board anything that resonates and leave the rest. You know yourself better than anyone, but sometimes we get so bombarded with experts telling us what to eat, what not to eat, what's good, what's bad, that we forget to go inside, to listen to our inner wisdom. You are the only expert on you. You have all the answers, but you won't find them on the internet. Sometimes you just need to experiment and really pay attention with how X, Y or Z makes you feel, without being so brainwashed by popular opinion, that you are missing or ignoring the signs or signals your body is giving you.
Gut healing is a huge topic - I could write a book! - so this is an edited version, but if you want any more information about gut healing, what's worked for me, what hasn't etc, please email me at ella.easton8@gmail.com.  alternatively check out the website www.listentoyourgut.com where there is lots of useful information about all things gut related.

wishing you all a 2017 that is full of health, happiness, love and laughter and anything else you might wish for.


Till next time.xx



Wednesday, 30 November 2016

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE YULELOG.



So here we are at the last post of the year. Christmas is almost upon us & everyone is coming to me this year. I found out when my younger sister asked me if it was Ok if one more joined us for lunch (her holiday plans fell through). I was like " Of course! Wait. Why is she asking me?....."
But I'm looking forward to having them all over and have actually got my first ever Christmas tree for the occasion. Love, love, love it!


Just hope that a certain black cat can be trusted not to attack it on a daily basis..........although might've helped if I hadn't decorated it with owls, robins & fluffy birds (I don't know what they are).


                                                    "who me?"

So, on with the recipe and I think its a good one! It Certainly didn't last long in my family, which is always a good sign (especially with my sisters who seem to have a strong aversion to anything with a "gluten free" tag.)
Not everyone likes Christmas cake or Christmas pudding (my brother is the one in our family who will eat it and he's in Spain this year) So this is a yummy, Christmassy alternative. It's not as difficult as you may think, but always looks quite impressive. The great thing about making a yule log is that it doesn't matter if it cracks or falls apart - in fact all the better if it does - it will look even more like a gnarly piece of log! just have fun with it and don't worry about getting it perfect. It will taste delicious no matter what.
I've made it with two alternative fillings. The one at the top is covered and filled with buttercream , the one below  is dairy free, filled with coconut cream and covered with dairy free icing.


SPONGE ingredients
125g plain gluten free flour  ( I used Dove's farm)
130g caster sugar
4 large eggs
3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
1 level teaspoon baking powder

ORIGONAL FILLING
150g unsalted butter
225g icing sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

DAIRY FREE FILLING
200g of coconut cream or coconut yogurt ( I used Coyo)

100g dairy free spread
150g icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1  Preheat the oven to 180c
2  Beat all the sponge ingredients together until you get a smooth batter
3  spread the mix onto a sheet of paper, about 1 - 1.5cm thick, in a kind of rectangle shape (it doesn't need to be too exact)
4 bake in the oven for 15 minutes. I know I've said it a million times, but all ovens vary, so keep an eye on it - your oven may take 10 minutes. you want it firm, but springy to the touch.
5 lay another sheet of baking paper on a clean work surface. when the cake is cooked, flip onto the  paper and peel off the lining paper it cooked on.
6  roll up the sponge (from its longest side - with the second piece of paper inside) into a tube shape. leave to cool. when cool, unroll the log


To make the buttercream icing shown at the top of the page
1 Beat the icing sugar, unsalted butter & cocoa together. you may need a little water if the mixture is too stiff (or to take it up a notch, a spoonful or two of brandy)
2 when the sponge is cool, unwrap it. Spread some of the icing over the flat surface and roll it up again (not in the paper this time).
3 cut a thick, diagonal piece off the log and place it at the side of the log (to make a branch, see main picture).
4 cover the log with the rest of the buttercream. Use a fork to make a "bark" pattern. dust with icing sugar for a snow effect and decorate with Holly.

To make the dairy free version.
Spread the coconut cream over the flat surface instead of the icing and roll the log up (not with the paper this time).
Beat the dairy free spread, the icing sugar and the cocoa together to make the icing. Don't use any water for this one - the consistency of the icing won't be thick enough. Spread the icing over the top of the log, use a fork to make a bark pattern, and dust with icing sugar for a snow effect.
Voila!
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2017 to each and every one of you!



Just to clarify, This is a Christmas tree at the Royal Albert Hall in London, not mine!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

VEGETARIAN SHEPHERDS PIE



November! - Not going to lie, it's not my favourite month of the year........ It's usually starting to get cold, wet and Christmas seems ages away. Kia wants to hibernate and I do too! That being said there are some absolutely beautiful autumn colours around at the moment, so it's not all bad!


I do however, love late autumn/winter food - Curries, casseroles and best of all shepherd's pie. There is already a recipe on the blog for lentil shepherds pie (and its one of the most popular), but this one really is quite different. The other one uses lentils, mushrooms & sweet potatoes, whereas here we're using vegetarian mince, tomatoes and white potatoes...... (oh, er and still mushrooms).



INGREDIENTS
200g frozen vegetarian mince (I used soya mince, you could also use quorn mince)
2 medium carrots
6 medium mushrooms
2 medium tomatoes
1 stick celery
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
150 ml red wine
1 dessertspoon sundried tomato paste (or regular if you can't get sundried tomato)
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce (I used Biona which is gluten free)
500g (peeled weight) potatoes
2 tablespoons butter (or alternative)
A little milk of your choice to get mashed potato to the right consistency

1 Chop up all the veggies
2 Heat 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil in frying pan, over a medium heat. Add the celery, carrots & mushrooms. Stir fry for about 10 minutes, until softened and starting to brown.
3 Add the tomatoes, veggie mince and red wine. Stir well, then add the tomato paste and the Worcester sauce (you can use tamari soy sauce instead if you like).
4 cook over a medium heat for about 15 mins. ( you want it gently bubbling away).
5 meanwhile chop your potatoes and place in a large saucepan. cover with water, add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave bubbling away, until the potatoes are soft and cooked. (around 15 mins)
6 When your mince and veggies have had their 10 mins, transfer the mixture to a baking dish.


8. Drain the potatoes, mash with the butter (or butter alternative) and milk.  spoon the mashed potato over the mince.
9 sprinkle with a little cheese, maybe some breadcrumbs, bit of chilli, few sliced tomatoes, some chopped nuts - top it as you like!
10 Bake in the oven for around 30 mins until the top is starting to brown.
11 Serve!


ps a note on servings. this would feed 2 - 3 people, depending on appetite and if you serve it with peas, green beans and other veg etc.


                                                  Happy November everyone!

Friday, 30 September 2016

PLUM CRUMBLE CAKE AND PUMPKIN SOUP


September has been a lonnnggg month! - so much has happened, feels like ages since I posted. But here we are in October & it's a month I love. everything starts to feel very autumnal, but (hopefully!) we still get some sunny days. I love the beautiful leaves on the trees, long walks with my whippet kia, then coming home to candles, bubble baths, oversized sweaters, hot tea, hot chocolate and soup.....

Actually obsessed with soup, so had to include a recipe in this October post, but I'm going to start off with a recipe for Plum Crumble cake.
At the beginning of September I went with some friends to the annual local village fete, (where my whippet Kia retained her title as fastest whippet in the south east, beating other whippets and a greyhound in the doggie dash - this despite the fact my sister had to carry her to the start line. Everyone was laughing, but who's laughing now? )


At the fete they have a huge cake competition and one of the categories was an apple crumble cake, This coupled with the fact that my friend Shara has a plum tree and makes jars & jars of sugar free plum jam every year, gave me the idea for today's cake recipe which is where I'm going to start. I used homemade biscuits for the topping - you can use any biscuits, or granola or crushed nuts if you want to keep it sugar free.

preheat the oven to 180c or 150 fan oven.

150g gluten free flour (I use doves farm)
75g sugar free plum jam  (or any other flavour you like)
75g date syrup
3 eggs
150g dairy free spread
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

topping     100g sugar free plum jam
                  50g gluten free biscuits crushed.

mix the cake ingredients together in a blender until you have a nice smooth batter.
2  pour into a prepared cake tin 20 cm in diameter. I use a loose bottom cake tin, and line the base with some baking paper and grease the sides with a little coconut oil to make it super easy to get out of the tin.
3  bake in the centre of the oven for 30 mins
NB  A note about timings. I've baked in a few different ovens over the years & I really find each one is a little different when it comes to timings - in my old oven this cake would've taken around 45 mins, so this is just a guide line. you want the top to be firm but springy and a skewer poked in the middle should come out clean (ie no uncooked cake mix)
4 when cooked, remove from the tin and leave to cool.
5 When cool, spread with the topping jam and then crumble the biscuits/ granola/ nuts over the top.
6 Eat!


Ok, next up, soup!



Love soup, and Pumpkin is probably my favourite, so here's a simple recipe if you've been carving pumpkins and want something to make with all the flesh!

400g pumpkin flesh (or butternut squash)
2 dessertspoons rapeseed oil or coconut oil
1 dessertspoon curry powder
salt, pepper, chilli powder to taste
250ml stock (fresh or from a cube)
100ml coconut milk or almond milk

1  preheat oven to 200c
2  put the oil into a bowl and add the curry powder. mix well.
3  Mix the pumpkin flesh into the curried oil , so that it's all evenly covered.
4  transfer the pumpkin to a baking dish. Bake for around 35 mins (or until the flesh is soft, tender and cooked through - )
5  put the pumpkin, the stock, the coconut milk into a blender and blitz. 
6 I purposely made this a thick soup, because you know how thin you want your soup & its easy to add more stock or more coconut milk until you get the right consistency.
7 add salt, pepper and a little chilli powder to taste.
8. warm in a saucepan and serve (You can also decorate with coconut cream and pumpkin seeds as shown above).

That's all for today, thanks for dropping by, see you in November!






Thursday, 1 September 2016

Baked apples with blackberry coconut cream


It's September! Always sad to see the end of summer but I really love September too. I always get that 'back to school feeling' even though it's ages since I left school! I actually used to like the start of a new school year......getting my haircut, new school shoes, then catching up with friends I hadn't seen all summer, new class teacher, new timetable...... then the novelty wearing off after a few days and feeling really depressed that it's ages till Xmas holidays!....
I especially love autumn food - pumpkin soup, blackberries, apple crumble, more soup. I've been busy making new treats for the Yard Yoga juice bar (www.yardyoga.com) , so if you're in the area, drop in! Yard yoga had a visit from a blogger recently who wrote this post which very kindly gave an amazing review of my Mint Matcha energy balls. It's a lovely blog, so check it out if you're interested in vegetarian food. www.hippiewholefood.wordpress.com 
So, for this month's recipe I'm lucky enough to have 2 apple trees and a blackberry bush at my new house so.........here's what I did with them!

Serves 2- double or triple to serve 4 or 6.

Preheat oven to 180c

2 baking apples
FILLING ingredients
2 heaped teaspoons butter or coconut oil
1 heaped tablespoon chopped pecans
1 heaped tablespoon chopped dried apple or raisins
1 teaspoon mixed spice (ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon)
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey or brown sugar

Take the centre out of the apples- great if you have an apple corer but if not you can used a sharp knife and then scoop the inside out with a teaspoon as I did. (Be careful if you're doing it this way- I nearly cut my finger off!- ,but then I am someone who probably shouldn't be allowed to play with sharp things in the kitchen😉
NB Make sure you don't go through the bottom of the apple - you're basically making a container for the filling.


2 chop the pecans up. Mix with the rest of the filling ingredients.
Stuff the apples with the filling and place them in a baking dish and into the oven for about 40 mins. (The apples should be soft and cooked through and look something like this.....


While the apples are cooking -make the blackberry cream. You need
200g blackberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
150g coconut yogurt- I used CoYo.(you can use plain Greek yogurt if you prefer).


Blitz the blackberries with a stick blender. Push through a small to get the pips out.

Put the sieved Berries into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Bring to the boil and then reduce the  heat a little so its still bubbling but not going crazy (don't worry you don't need to be too exact!) Keep stirring with a wooden spoon so it doesn't stick to bottom the of the pan. You want it bubbling away for 5 mins, then remove from heat - put the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool.
Once cool mix in the coconut yogurt.


When the apples are done remove from the oven and serve with the berry cream.

Happy autumn everyone!