Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Falling in love with fermented green tea?! Love Kombucha.

Fizzy drinks are bad, green tea is good. Step in Love Kombucha, a refreshing soft drink, made up of fermented green tea. A Google search will tell you that Kombucha is a probiotic mix with the potential to help every ailment going. Winner! But the claim that grabbed me was the increased energy and reduced IBS symptoms: "Lactic acid increases the oxygen in the blood and helps balance the pH and well as encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut". 

I was sold and swiftly placed an order for 12 (hello free delivery!) The fact that I'm now only left with 4 shows that I do indeed Love Kombucha! Has it miraculously cured every ailment that troubled me? Well clearly not. But for me it's been great in quelling nausea and to settle my stomach. Also it's fantastic for replacing soft drinks with something better, without looking completely out of place when drinking with friends. I'm a big fan of the design of the bottles (although they will turn into a volcano on opening if you don't store them right...!)

But what do they taste like? Well frankly, odd. But a good odd. Almost like when you sip your Dad's beer for the first time as a kid and
pretend to like it because everyone's acting like it's a big treat (...was that just me?!) You're not going to get around the fact that these are fermented tea. So if you like green tea, you will love these. It has that sharp, clean taste which whilst slightly bitter, makes it very refreshing. 

There are 5 flavours available: Original, Blueberry, Ginger, Ginger & Lime and Mango & Lime. The difference between the flavours is subtle. Ginger & Lime is my favourite, as the sharp taste is at its most balanced and refreshing. That is the one that on drinking I really get that "Yeaaaaa this is doing me some good!" feeling! Blueberry is my next fav, with it's slightly softer taste. But only just - when cracking open the blueberry I couldn't help but expect the sweetness of a juice, but nope, not even vaguely. But don't let that deter you. A chilled blueberry Kombucha in front of the fire was a refreshing addition for that moment when food at Christmas becomes some sort of challenge (my blood type is basically Brie at this point.) 

Kombucha's are a great switch up from other drinks on the market. I will be stocking up on supplies for New Years Eve to have on their own as well as using them as mixers (gin, ginger & lime...hello!) Priced at £3.45 each (500ml), I think this is more than reasonable, especially considering the high quality of the bottles which can easily be re-used for other purposes. Home made salad dressing anyone!? 

Buy yourself some here.

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Chocolate Brookies - Gluten & Dairy Free

Chocolate brookies, a brownie cookie hybrid. Soft and gooey on the inside, crunchy on the outside and completely addictive.

I first spotted these little delights in beauty blogger Lily Pebbles vlogmas series on YouTube. For those you aren't familiar, 'vlogmas' is when blogger's video blog (see what they did there) every day leading up to Christmas, giving you a mini reality series of what they get up to in the festive period! If you're like me and a beauty product junkie, you'll love Lily's vlogs and can check her out here. (She does more than just combine words, promise....although I have no complaints regarding Brookie vlogging.)

As Brookies are meant to be fudgey in texture, they are very forgiving for substituting gluten free flour. I also doubled the size of each Brookie to make them cookie sized. I'd love to say this was for some baking reason, but no it was purely because I'm greedy and wanted them big! But you can roll them smaller to make them more 'snack' size over 'hey it's Christmas let's be a chubs' size.

These were so easy to make, look great and totally remind me of the Flintstones! Pretty appropriate considering they were brought into my life by Miss Pebbles...(picture below...she is clearly sitting on a Brookie! Coincidence? I think not). 

Makes: 24 brookies at cookie size
Prep: 20 minutes (with optional 4 hour chill time)
Cook: 20 minutes
Pre-heat oven: 180 degrees/ gas mark 4

85g cocoa powder (I used Cadbury Fair Trade Bournville Cocoa)
400g caster sugar
125ml vegetable or sunflower oil (I used sunflower over vegetable) 
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
250g gluten free flour (I used Dove Farm Plain White Gluten Free Flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
60g icing sugar (which is approximately how much it takes to coat the Brookies)

  1. Baking time! In a bowl, mix together your cocoa powder, caster sugar and oil. 
  2. Beat in the eggs and add the vanilla extract. 
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. At this point, Lily recommends you chill your mixture for at least 4 hours. I only managed to chill my mixture for 2 hours as I had people coming over who needed feeding! But the Brookies still tasted great! However I would recommend getting in as much of the chill time as you can, as this makes it much easier to form each Brookie ball.
  5. Line your trays with baking paper. I needed 2 baking trays. 
  6. Pour icing sugar onto a plate. Using two spoons, roll the mixture into 4cm balls to make your Brookies.

  7. Coat each ball with the icing sugar before placing onto prepared trays. I thought this would be fiddly but it really wasn't. Simply scoop up some mixture with your spoon, roughly shape by transferring between the spoons, plop on your plate, sprinkle some icing sugar over the top, then roughly roll around to ensure it is fully coated in icing sugar.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. 
  9. Leave them to cool for a couple of minutes on the trays before transferring to a wire rack till completely cool. 

Pebbles Image: English Exercises
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Saturday, 20 December 2014

FODMAP & Gluten Free Mince Pies

Mince pies are a minefield for a low FODMAP individual. It turns out dried fruit is riddled with Oligos, the  'O' in FODMAP. So whilst gluten free mince pies are plentiful, getting your winter mittens on a low FODMAP pie is a whole other story.

So I took myself into the kitchen to cook up not just a low FODMAP recipe, but a FODMAP free recipe and the results are delicious. Cast your hungry eyes on my winter love: rhubarb, orange and nut mince pies.

I'm so pleased with this recipe but even more so with my friends and families reactions. It is now the mince pie of choice within my household and a second batch has already been made! So not only would no one know the difference with these gluten free mince pies, they have become the preference! 

This recipe is simple and delicious. So go ahead and indulge yourself with a little taste of Christmas...

Makes: 24 small mince pies
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

400g gluten free flour
250g unsalted butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg for the egg wash (optional)

350g of rhuburb
6 pieces of crystallised stem ginger
Zest & juice of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup/ 64g of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup/ 64g of chopped pecans
Splash of brandy (it's Christmas!)

1. First up is the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 2 tbsp of icing sugar. 

2. Add 4 tbsp water, mixing with a knife and the dough will come together, resembling typical 'dough' consistency. Gather it up, knead lightly, wrap in cling film and chill in your fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Filling time. Chop your rhubarb up into 1cm length chunks and juice your orange. Put your rhubarb chunks and orange juice into a saucepan and cook on a low heat. Add the orange and lemon zest and ground cinnamon.

4. Whilst this is simmering away and smelling amazing in the process, chop up your crystallised stem ginger. I took 6 good chunks and finely chopped them as the picture shows.  But add more/less to your taste! Add the ginger to your rhubarb mixture, with 3 tbsp of icing sugar.

5. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the excess liquid.

6. Finely chop your walnuts and pecans and add to the strained mixture with a splash of brandy (or more if you're a boozehound).

7. Now it's mince pie building time. I used 2 regular 12 hole cupcake tins which I found worked perfectly.

8. Grab your pastry from the fridge, give it a quick knead and roll out on a floured surface. Cut out your pastry discs and add a tsp of mixture to each pastry shell. For my 'lids' I went for a star cutter to make the mince pies look extra festive! 

9. Whisk up an egg and brush over the top so the mince pies will brown up gloriously in the oven. Also use on the edges/ underside of each star, so the lid sticks to the pastry shell.

10. Sprinkle a little caster sugar on top of each mince pie (shoutout to my Nan for that little tip.)

11. Cook on the top shelf of your oven at 180 degrees/ gas mark 4, for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

12. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to momentarily cool before giving each mince pie a little wiggle to check they haven't stuck to your tin.

13. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Being FODMAP free has never tasted so good...

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Food Loving, Gluten Free, Christmas Gift Guide!

It's the time of year again where the nation gathers gifts for their nearest and dearest! The blogpshere is full of gift inspiration for this impending Christmas season and I love reading everyone's top picks. So I decided to put together my own for those of you on the hunt for an idea for a gluten free friend or a food loving fan! 

So here's my round up, all coming in under £25!

Montezuma's Chocolate Tree Baubles - £7.99
"No self respecting tree should be seen without a good number of chocolate baubles" says Helen Pattinson, Co-Founder of the mighty Montezuma's. Here here. This pack of 6 is made up of three of their award winning house blended organic chocolate. Don't expect them to last until Christmas Day...

Is this not the ultimate culinary salute to any Great British Bake Off fan?! Or for anyone who has a passion for baking and creating in the kitchen! I love that you can choose between Solid Oak, Solid Beech or Beech Ply to make them the perfect cooking tool for your loved one.
Now this is a gift I'm such a fan of, that having bought one for a friend, I went ahead and bought two being for myself (that's how Christmas shopping works right?!) 
Chroma Stationary is an independent company offering a notebook personalisation service embossing anything you like on the notebook: a name, phrase or logo etc. What I love is that the 20 colours available are each named after an important person or figure in Chroma's life. So the subtle pastel lilac shade I chose, Doris, is named after Chroma's Nanny! I think the gold embossing of my blog name: 'FODMAP free' makes it personalised perfection. These notebooks are chic and stylish, great for any list maker or recipe scribbler! 

Chances are if you're on a restricted diet, the majority of time you'll be carrying a packed lunch to avoid going hungry or nibbling on something untoward! This incredibly slimlined container promises to "hug and maintain the shape of whatever is inside, so your beloved baguette will remain absolutely immaculate until you're ready to devour it." It's well know gluten free sandwichs are partial to crumbling and falling apart, so this promising to keep it safe and secure makes this even more of a desirable gift! As a bulky lunchbox solution, this is on the top of my wishlist list!

Booja Booja Chocolate - £13.50
REALLY NICE CHOCOLATE that is organic, dairy, soya and gluten free AND easy to get your hands on. Need I say anymore?

Polka Dot Monogrammed Mug - £9.20
Another item which I have myself and love! In the winter season, hot drinks are the ultimate comfort so a mug is always appreciated! For any lover of tea, hot chocolate, mulled wine (!) this is an adorable mug and comes in a pink presentation box, so it even has the presentation covered!

Chuckling Goat, Pro-Biotic Skin Food for Troubled Skin - £25.00
Brilliant packaging, cute name and recognition you cannot ignore! Chuckling Goat's Pro-Biotic Skin Food scooped a Bronze Award in this years FreeFrom Skincare Awards and the brand is also stocked by Fortnum & Mason - fancy! Chuckling Goat is an natural brand, using only sustainable ingredients; no dyes, no perfumes, no parabens, no petrochemicals, no pthalates. This lotion is a great gift for any lover of skincare free of the nasties, but it gets its hero product status due to the healing qualities of the combination of goatsmilk, kefir, thyme and tea tree essential oils. How can we resist?! For me, knowing it's made on a small family holding in Southwest Wales from the owners cherished pedigreed goats is the icing on the (Christmas) cake! 

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter - £9.79
This book was recommended to me by a friend and despite being only half way through I can't put it down. Neurologist Dr. David Perlmuttet explores what our bodies require for optimal health, but in an easy-to-understand and somewhat gripping format. My summary of the book so far would be: 1) gluten will melt your brain and 2) carbs will kill you (I may be over-exaggerating slightly!) But as someone who can't eat gluten whether I like to or not, it's an interesting insight into why someone you CAN eat gluten, wouldn't, when given the choice. 

Ya know what's naturally gluten free? Rice. Ya know what this gift makes fun? RICE! I mean frankly who wouldn't want to launch a barrage of sushi missiles whilst whipping up a tasty meal? This is a great gift for anyone who loves to have fun with food, or any parents who are wanting to keep meal times exciting for their gluten-free kids.

Personalised Full of Love Large Round Chopping Board - £14.99
This is one for the practical person in your life, but with a personalised twist! This wooden chopping board allows you to add the name of your choice and follows it up with "kitchen is full of love" and then another 2 lines for you to add a message of your choice! A special but sensible present that will definitely come in handy when preparing the mighty Christmas lunch! 

I'm rounding up my gift list picks with this great stocking filler from 'Keep Me Gluten Free!' Firstly, Rosy the rabbit, what a cutie. Secondly, simply whack them on your kids snacks/ lunchboxes/ foreheads, to clearly label their intolerance but in a friendly, fun way. 

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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Anila's Authentic Sauces

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll be familiar with Anila's Authentic Sauces. I've been banging on about these pots of deliciousness since 2012, but have yet to dedicate a whole post to them. So as I come to the bottom of yet another jar of my favorite sauce in their range, it seemed only right to share the love.

One of the aspects that those on the low FODMAP diet seem to struggle with the most is omitting onion and garlic from their cooking. This leads to shopping for premade sauces to be a complete nightmare. Pretty much every premade sauce on the market will have somewhere down the ingredient list: onion, garlic purée or garlic. GREAT.

This is where Anila's Authentic Sauces swoop in to save the day. They are made without any onion or garlic! But not only that, they are also without preservatives or additives and are free from sugar, dairy, gluten. But most importantly, t
hey're damn tasty. And you don't just need to take my word for it, Anila's Sauces have been award winning since 2005 and, at the time of writing, have won 12 Great Taste Awards.

They currently offer 9 curry sauces (I am never without their Spicy Korma Curry Sauce), 5 chutneys, 8 pickles and the mighty Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce. As a student this was my kitchen staple; as all students know that sweet chilli sauce is the cheat's secret to turning any dinner into a taste sensation. However my personal favorite sweet chilli use is the most simple of pleasures, the humble cheese sandwich. Spread some of that sweet chilli on bread, add some cheese, perhaps some ham and greenery and you've got yourself the best damn cheese sandwich that will ever grace your lips. If you're really feeling wild, turned it into a grilled chilli cheese sandwich (it's the simple things...).

So why are these sauces without onion and garlic? This is due to the belief that these heat-producing foods can excite the passions and lead the mind away from a constant awareness of spirituality. Using neither garlic or onion in cooking increases clarity and focus in meditation. I was so intrigued by the brand, I contacted Anila's Sauces asking them a few questions which they were kind enough to answer. It is at this point I would like to state this is NOT a sponsored post. Every Anila's Sauces product I've tried I've bought with my own hard earned cash. In fact, Anila's Sauces have no idea this post is even coming. My enthusiasm is purely based on my delight in finding such an array of delicious sauces in my local shop!

Q: What benefits do you gain from omitting onion and garlic from your diet? 
Anila's answer: Pure, clean taste.

Q: What are your top tips for creating robust flavours similar to onion and garlic? 
Anila's answer: In parts of India Asafoetida is used to give a similar taste.  We use fennel.
FODMAP free interruption: to read my post about asafoetida, click HERE. *shameless plug*

Q: What three words best describe what your brand means to you? 
Anila's answer: Authentic, Quality, Fresh Taste

Q: Do you have a philosophy? 
Anila's answer: I enjoy putting in good into the work I do, the greater the happiness I receive.  To keep working with love. Keep doing everything with love.

Q: What has been the highlight for Anila's Authentic Sauces so far? 
Anila's answer: Our success in winning awards.

Q: What made you decide to start hosting Cookery classes? 
Anila's answer: The number of vegetarians who would like to learn vegetarian Indian cooking.

Q: What are your top 3 Anila's Authentic Sauces products? 

Anila's sauces are available to buy online and are stocked in over 500 shops in the UK. You can see their full list here. I'm lucky that they are stocked in both my local Budgens and garden centre and often see their stall at the local Farmer's Market. So keep your eyes peeled if those are places you too like to frequent! 

After this little Twitter exchange Anila's sauces have been added to the Suitable Sauces section in the FODMAP Product Booklet by Kings College London. So round up, round up FODMAPers; your premade sauce buying stresses are now a thing of the past. 

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Monday, 17 March 2014

You know there's an app for that? Monash FODMAP app.

My iphone can do everything better than me. How? Because there's an app for that. This phrase has established itself in my life just as much as "Google will know" when asked a question about...well, anything.

You can download to your handheld magic machine a programme (app) who's purpose is simply to solve your problem. Initially I thought the range was games, games and er.. games. Not the case. Can't sleep? Sleep Cycle app. Weather? Met Office app. Whether whiskey is FODMAP friendly? FODMAP app!!

This whiskey predicament I was finding increasingly troubling. Bottle in hand, ready to splash a generous amount into my cooking (boozehound) I paused .."whiskey is made from a grain...". DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUH. Having established that Jack Daniels whiskey is gluten free due to the distilling process riding it of gluten, I began to question whiskey's FODMAP properties.

This was where my new favourite app swooped in to save the day. Monash University (brains behind the FODMAP diet) have released an iphone and now android app, which "provides accurate information about foods that trigger IBS reactions and will significantly help sufferers to manage their symptoms".

The best bit about the app in my opinion? The search function for foods. Foods are listed and rated using a traffic light system. Red light - no no. Green light - chomp away.

Life pre-app involved me carrying around a double sided list of foods which I had copied out of the book I was given by my deitcian (and laminated so it would survive the depths of my bag). Now if shopping or out and need to double check something, I just whip out my iphone and have my answer in roughly a minute. Oh I love modern technology.

The Monash app has been great for increasing my understanding of the FODMAP diet, it provides recipes, allows you to filter your 'sensitivities', has a '1 week challenge' plan so you can monitor what you eat versus your just keeps giving. So following recommending it to people several times on Twitter, the time has come to dedicate a post to it!

Priced at £6.99 (so cheaper than most cook books) I think it's a bargain. Monash also states that any proceeds from the sale of the app goes towards funding more FODMAP research. 

Click here to view it on the apple app store. Click here to read more about it from the Monash people themselves. And click here to watch a YouTube clip about the app (those Monash people have really got it covered!)

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Sunday, 10 November 2013

VIP (Very Important Pie): Pecan Brownie Pie

Thanksgiving is approaching. Now, having lived in England my whole life, Thanksgiving has never really registered on my radar.  I've seen the 'Friends' episodes and that's pretty much where my involvement in the holiday begins and ends - cultured I know. But this year that is all about to change! I've been invited to a Thanksgiving party! Now I love a party, and when it's in association with a national holiday dedicated to food, I'm all in.

So wanting something impressive but themed, I took to my favorite blog to save the day, and boy did it do me proud.

Domestic Sluttery is one of my favorite reads. Not as naughty as it sounds, but just as fun, the site offers fashion, fun and FOOD. One swift search for 'pecan' later and I was led to their Pecan Brownie Pie. Er, HELLO. By the time I'd read down too... "It's fudgy rather than cakey so it's very forgiving of substituting gluten free flour." ...SOLD. 

So not being able to wait till Thanksgiving, I made it the following evening. For er, 'testing' purposes. So whilst I was pretty sure it would be nothing short of delicious, I can officially testify to it being gooey and sweet, with the pecans providing that crunch...oh my. Served with vanilla ice cream or double cream, this pie won't fail to impress.  

Serves: 8 (dependent on slice size!)
Prep & cook time: 1 hour
Pre-heat oven: 180 degrees/ gas mark 4


For the pecan pie layer:

  • 300g pecans (this seems like A LOT when you weigh it out, but it's all needed so stick with it)
  • 55g butter
  • 110g of brown sugar
  • 110ml maple syrup 
  • shot of whiskey
  • 1 egg

For the brownie layer:

  • 55g dark chocolate
  • 110g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g gluten-free self raising flour (I used Doves Farm)
  • 120g brown sugar
  1. Line a 8 inch springform tin
  2. Put all your pecans in a separate oven proof dish and cover in half the maple syrup. Toast them in the oven for 7 minutes.
  3. Once gloriously toasted, jig those pecans about and pour on some baking paper to cool. You want to do this step - immediately. The molten maple syrup has a tendency to stick those pecans to your dish and you will be there attempting to carve them off the bottom for the next 20 minutes if you allow to cool in the pan...ain't no body got time for that.
  4. Place half to two thirds of the toasted pecans evenly in the bottom of the lined cake tin. You want to keep aside enough toasted pecans for your decoration of choice (I held back about half).
  5. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees/ gas mark 3.
  6. To complete the pecan pie layer, in a saucepan melt the butter (55g) , remaining maple syrup, sugar (110g) and whiskey together at a low heat.
  7. When consistent, remove from heat to cool.
  8. When cooled, beat in the egg and pour the complete mixture over the waiting pecans in the cake tin.
  9. Put in the oven for 15 minutes until slightly set.
  10. Whilst this is cooking, it's brownie time! Melt the butter (110g) and chocolate (55g) together in a pan.
  11. Allow to cool, then add in the remaining brownie ingredients.
  12. Mix it up!
  13. Pour the brownie mixture over your set pecan layer.
  14. Cook for a further 30 minutes!
  15. Remove, allow to cool a little and then ...FLIP IT. Yes this bit filled me with fear a little too, but your pecan layer needs to sit on top. So flip, release the spring tin then step back in awe at the glorious gooey goodness before you! 
  16. Decorate with remaining toasted pecans.

Check out my cooking in action on my Instagram

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