A Gluten Free, Low Sugar, Low Fat Lemon and Blueberry Cake

OK, gluten free, low sugar and low fat are not words you will usually find on The Gammon Kitchen. Sugar and fat are my main food groups. However, I’ve been following The Culinary Jumble run by the lovely Tracy for a while and her blog has started to really focus on offering healthier alternatives that are still tasty and simple to make. As a Brit living in Sweden, her blog is chock full of delicious Scandi inspired goodies such as saffron and white chocolate buns as well as British classics like nostalgic jam tarts. If you’re looking for gluten free options you can find everything from a jaffa cake sponge to cinnamon bun waffles. I had one of those ‘lick the screen’ moments recently when Tracy posted a recipe for hot cross bun rolls, a hybrid of a cinnamon roll and a hot cross bun. I didn’t get round to making them for Easter but have them bookmarked for next year.

I’ve not done a whole lot of gluten free baking as quite frankly, I have no need to. It’s always good to give things a go though and I was intrigued by the ingredients for the lemon and blueberry cake which was originally posted on The Culinary Jumble back in January. It’s a bit of a bonus that it’s also low fat and low sugar as let’s face it, most of us could do with less of the bad stuff. Tyler (my fiancé of 10 years and lovely cat dad to our two fur babies) got rather excited when I said I was going to be doing a spot of baking. His heart sank when he saw me putting gluten free flour and brown cane sugar in the shopping trolley. He loves cake. I get it. The idea of a gluten free, low fat, low sugar cake doesn’t sound awfully appealing but Tracy’s post images had my mouth watering and I was excited to give it a go.

The ingredient list isn’t scary like some alternative cakes. I was able to get everything I needed in Sainsbury’s. The brown cane sugar does have stevia added, which I’m not sure is entirely right but it was all I could get. Yes, before you ask, it was ridiculously overpriced, but you don’t need much of it so it will last ages and it smells delicious. I’m going to try it in coffee. I used frozen blueberries and lemon juice from a bottle as I already had some in the cupboard.

The recipe is ridiculously easy to follow and didn’t create too much mess which is always a bonus. Within 20 minutes of thinking about making the cake it was in the oven and my kitchen smelt lovely and sweet. The youngest cat was most intrigued and spent the entire time rubbing himself up my legs and meowing. Maybe he was just hungry, I didn’t think to check his food dish as my biggest concern was cake. Obviously. I tested the cake after 30 minutes and it seemed to be cooked but when I went back to it 10 minutes later there was a puddle of uncooked mixture and the cake had sunk a little in the middle so I popped it back in the oven. 10 minutes later it was cooked but a little too dark on top. Next time I will probably cook for 45 minutes on a lower temperature.

So what’s the verdict? It took all my will power (I don’t have much at the best of times) not to eat it piping hot from the oven because it smelt so good. I knew that if I tried to slice it when it was too warm it would just crumble and I would ruin any chance of a decent picture for the ‘gram. It felt like hours before it was cool enough to slice and serve up with cups of tea, or in my case warm milk with a tea bag dunked in for approximately 1.7 seconds. The wait was worth it though. What a lovely tea time treat. The cake is so moist with a delicate tang from the lemon and Greek yogurt and the blueberries explode in your mouth. It’s not too sweet meaning you don’t feel too guilty (not that you should ever feel guilty for anything that doesn’t harm anyone or anything else). I would happily eat this for breakfast or with tea drunk from a china cup and saucer for an afternoon treat or warm with whipped cream for pudding.

Tyler’s verdict? 8/10 but would be better with chocolate. I’ll take that.

If you want to give healthier baking a go you can find Tracy’s recipe here. Do it!

This is the cake in it’s full, glazed, cracked, rustic glory. I actually like it when a cake has cracks, imperfections are beautiful. This is what I tell myself every morning when I look in the mirror. If the mantra is good enough for me, it’s good enough for my cake.

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The loaf sliced pretty well, the odd crumb here and there which may or may not have gone straight into my mouth, but a fairly clean cut with a bread knife. The blueberries sunk which I was expecting because they were frozen but I don’t mind that at all.

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You see what I mean about my tea. I’m a terrible Brit.

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And a second slice whilst writing the post because I can. I mean, its low fat and low sugar and if I eat the whole thing that’s one of my 5 a day so really its practically a health food. Oh dear, you can see how long this cake is going to last.

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Thanks to The Culinary Jumble for the recipe and for the inspiration to get my bake on!

Let me know if you try it out too!

Tania x

Once You Go Wrap, You’ll Never Go Back: A Recipe

I can’t call this a recipe, I just can’t. But it will change your life. Maybe. I got the idea when I was at work and the canteen were serving fish finger wraps with sweet chilli sauce. It’s not exactly groundbreaking to entomb some fish fingers in a tortilla wrap but it’s just so much better than a fish finger sandwich. Trust me on this, once you go wrap you will never go back.

All you need to do is cook four fish fingers according to the packet instructions. For reference, I like Youngs more than Birds Eye. Cook them a little bit longer than the box says for some extra satisfying crunch. Get yourself a large tortilla wrap and squirt some mayonnaise down the centre. Pile on a handful of rocket leaves and a few slices of ripe avocado then top with the fish fingers followed by a generous drizzle of sweet chilli sauce. Wrap and roll and thank me later.

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For the simple fact that this has avocado in it, you can totally class it as a health food and eat as many as you like. I’ll take this opportunity to admit getting through a whole box of fish fingers making these for myself one night as I just kept wanting more. That, my friends, is the sign of a good meal.

Stay tuned for more recipes!

Tania x

 

 

Brunch Club

Amongst the endless stream of chores, bills and responsibilities that come with adulthood lurk some rather lovely perks: Not being forced to eat your vegetables; choosing your own clothes; having brunch. As a teenager I would roll out of bed halfway through the day and just lay around in a fluffy pink dressing gown eating jam on toast and regretting my life choices thus far. My initial years of adulthood were largely spent doing things that I’d never had the financial freedom to do before such as going out for dinner and planning lovely holidays. Nowadays, I’m happy to accept the fact that my favourite place in the world is home and I love nothing more than being in my kitchen in a comfy t-shirt making friends and family something lovely to eat. I’m very comfortable with being an adult and to celebrate I invited my equally adult friends round for brunch expecting us to have very adult conversations whilst sipping tea from China cups with our pinky fingers sticking out. What followed, however, was nothing short of chaos.

It turns out that a host who isn’t actually that good at adulting, three friends with varying skills in both parenting and cat-parenting, a toddler, a newborn baby, an angry cat, a playful kitten and a really tiny dining table can create absolute carnage.

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I got off to a good start by setting the table with some nice cups and saucers for the tea, cute bottles with straws for the smoothies and champagne glasses for the water because frankly they’re the only type of glasses for which I have a matching set of four. Jess (expert mother of three children and three dogs, very little cat experience) got to work making everyone tea and quickly realised that the inept host (me) hadn’t thought to check the date on the milk and we were now faced with a dilemma. Jade (surprisingly good with children despite not being a parent, hates cats) drove to the shop that is a 30 second walk from my house with her Louis Vuitton handbag and tried to use a credit card to pay for a 90p bottle of milk in a cornershop that looks like it hasn’t changed since World War 2. Milkgate eventually involved Jade driving the 2.8 seconds back to my house, me begrudgingly having to go outside in my Ugg slippers to deliver change all in 10ps that I had scraped together from the back of the sofa, Jade going back to the shop looking like a tourist and finally bringing the milk back. All for Jess to never actually finish making the tea.

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We had smashed avocado on toasted rye bread with crispy streaky bacon and poached eggs to start. Normal bread wasn’t on the menu as Jade imposed her allergies on the rest of us but actually the rye bread was delicious. To make this most-basic-bitch-on-instagram brunch dish for yourself, just mash two avocados with a good pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice and spread this onto 4 slices of toasted rye bread. Top each toast with two slices of crispy bacon and a poached egg. I poach my eggs by bringing a pan of water to a gentle boil, adding a dash of cider vinegar and gently dropping the eggs in one by one from a ramekin. Cook for three minutes then transfer to kitchen towel to remove the excess water. You can drizzle the toast with some hot sauce to be extra hipster.

As we ate, Maggie (Jess’s youngest) decided to play in my vegetable trolley and throw my onions around the kitchen because that is of course the most fun one can have with onions and Bear (my kitten) took great pleasure in terrorising Jade. We’re all quite OK at this point and having a giggle about life before children and cats. Jess picks Bear up for a cuddle and drops him clean on his head. They say cats always land on their feet. That’s a lie.

The next course was a green smoothie. I made this by blending together 2 pears, one apple, a chunk of cucumber, two balls of frozen spinach, half an avocado and some apple juice until it was smooth with a vibrant green hue. We drank this out of dainty milk bottles with star patterned paper straws because I like to waste my hard earned money on shit.

Lulu (my older, grumpier cat) spends the entire time licking the cellphone wrapping of a gift that Jade bought round for Ellen (brand new human mum, experienced cat mum) because that’s her most favourite thing to do.

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We moved on to our final course, a rainbow fruit salad with honey orange dressing. I mixed together blueberries, green grapes, halved strawberries and chunks of mango and poured over a dressing made from a heaped tablespoon of warmed honey and about the same of orange juice. We had this with shop bought coconut macaroons and more chats about nipple pads, smelly nappies and cat poo. Bear decided this was the perfect time for cuddles and joined us at the table trying to eat a strawberry as it travelled from my bowl to my mouth. My friends decided to never come to eat again.

Brunch turned into a chilled afternoon involving the trivia game on the Google Home Mini, a selfie stick (yes they still exist) and a game of ‘put that where Maggie can’t reach it and the cats can’t lick it’. My house ended up looking like Changing Rooms had been in, with everything below hip level in a different place and onions in unimaginable locations. Teddy (Ellen’s baby: cute but does the smelliest farts) had some lovely cuddles and managed to leave with all facial features in tact despite Lulu’s best efforts. I had a mountain of washing up and a lot of gone off milk to dispose of but it was worth it for a lovely day of fun, friendship and food. This is adulthood at its most special and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Speak soon,

Tania x

 

 

 

 

Some Dolly Parton Musings and a Broccoli and Stilton Soup Recipe

Does anyone else struggle to spell broccoli? No? Just me then…

It’s mid March and in the UK that means it’s still effing freezing but we pretend it’s not. I popped to Asda in the week and saw some bloke loitering around the ready meal section wearing a pair of shorts. Shorts! A couple of days after the snow had cleared. We spend so long hibernating away in chunky knits and fur coats (that one’s for you Jess) that as soon as the temperature goes into double digits we want to show a bit of skin and get the limbs out. I get it. But really, it’s not shorts weather. I’m just about managing to ditch the wooly coat and swap it in for a Spring like trench but the thermal vest is going no-where fast. Welcome to 30 kids!

This in-between weather means you don’t quite want to eat the heavy stews and casseroles of winter but shudder at the thought of a salad. What am I saying? I always shudder at the thought of a salad. The beauty of this broccoli and stilton soup is that it’s warming and nourishing but vibrant and, well, it’s green. Which means spring, right? It’s also easy, cheap and a sneaky way to get some veg in.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 750ml vegetable stock (from a cube)
  • 100g stilton
  • double cream, optional

What you do:

  1. Sautee the finely chopped (or as finely chopped as I can possibly manage) onion in the oil and butter with a pinch of salt over a low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure the onion doesn’t colour too much. Pale gold is your limit here.
  2. Separate the florets from the stalks on your head of broccoli and finely chop the stalks. Add these to the onion and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the florets and cooking for 5 minutes more.
  3. Add in the vegetable stock, pop on a lid and cook for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and blend until very smooth. This is not the time for chunky soup. I use a stick blender which makes it super easy but you could transfer to a normal blender if that’s all you have. Season with pepper, you shouldn’t need salt, then crumble in about 75g of stilton and stir to melt. Taste just to make sure I’m right on the salt, I think you’ll find I am.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls with the rest of the stilton crumbled on top and a little retro swirl of cream if that’s a bit of you. Lovely for lunch with some crusty bread or as a relaxed starter.

I had a bit of a random thought today. I had Smooth FM on and they played Dolly Parton’s Jolene. I realise I am really late to the party here, like decades, but I don’t know why she was so obsessed with Jolene. I mean, yeah Jolene should know better but come on Dolly, its your waste of space man you should be singing about. Don’t be begging Jolene not to take your man, it sounds to me like he’s already gone and you’re better off without him girl.

On the point of randomness, Dominos now have a GPS tracker on their delivery service. As if the pizza tracker wasn’t already up there with the world’s best inventions, you can now literally track your pizza from store to door. Love it.

Have a wonderful week all!

Tania x

Recipe: Vegan Bircher Muesli

I’ve known about bircher muesli for years but have only just recently discovered how amazing it is. If you don’t know, let me fill you in. You mix together oats, fruit, nuts and seeds with some kind of liquid such as milk, yogurt or fruit juice, then leave it in the fridge overnight. What you get in the morning is a delicious, creamy cold porridge that you can then top with berries and yogurt for a complete, healthy balanced breakfast. Plus, it can be made to be totally vegan so good for you and for the planet. If you’re not sold, make a small batch to test out and I promise you you’ll be converted.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 grated apple
  • pinch of salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • yogurt (dairy free to be vegan) and berries to serve

What you do:

  1. Very simply, mix all of the ingredients except the yogurt and berries together in a bowl and stir well. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. To serve, top with some yogurt, any kind is fine but the vegan coconut yogurt is amazing, and then some mixed frozen berries that have been defrosted. Tuck in!

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This is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment and I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to create a recipe that is so easy yet so tasty. Do let me know if you make this one!

June Roundup

It’s The Gammon Kitchen’s 6 month sort of birthday! Hi to all of you who have been with me from the start and welcome to my new followers. Thank you to each and everyone of you who has liked, commented or followed my journey and I hope you stick around! I’ve been a bit quiet on here over the last couple weeks. In all fairness, I’ve only missed two posts but my presence on social media has taken a back seat whilst I’ve been focussing on my day job. The joys of working in customer services during a busy summer sale period! The slight break has given me time to refresh and I’m ready to get back into the kitchen and share more of that with you.

June has been such a wash out in Britain. We’ve had non-stop rain, thunderstorms and even some cold days. It’s grim. July hasn’t exactly started any better either but here’s hoping for some improvement. The UK isn’t just suffering due to the weather though, we’ve been hit with political and economic bombshells that have turned the whole country a bit mental. Whilst I don’t agree with the decision that has been made, life is certainly too short to worry about such things and we all need to move on, drown our sorrows into some chocolate cake and then be positive for the future.

Before moving on, let’s look back at The Gammon Kitchen’s posts during the month where I turned half vegan. As in I tried to be vegan, managed a few days, went vegetarian for a further few days then kinda gave up but still want to try to go back.

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Recipe Review: Sabrina Ghayour’s Feta Bites / What I Ate In A Day #9 / Recipe: Salted Caramel Pineapple Wedges / A Vegan Food Shop / Recipe: Chickpea, Spinach and Potato Curry / What I Ate In A Day #10 – Vegan EditionWhat I Ate In A Day #10 – Vegan Edition / My Vegan Week / Recipe: Sweet and Salty Pecans / Recipe Review: Leon’s Lemon Cake / My Hero Ingredients / Recipe: Pimped Up Kidney Beans / Summer is Coming

My Vegan Week

I have reached the end of my trial as a vegan. Do I feel like I’ve changed the world? No. Do I feel full of energy and vitality? No. Do I crave cheese? A bit. Being a vegan isn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be. Yes, it is restrictive but as long as you plan your meals it’s pretty easy to find a wealth of suitable foods to create tasty recipes with.

I’ve realised that veganism, like most radical life choices, can open up a whole load of debates that I didn’t know existed. There’s the whole honey debate, should vegans have honey or not….I didn’t go too far into it in fear that I would get confused but decided to have honey as Deliciously Ella does. If it’s good enough for her then it’s good enough for me. Veganism also largely divides opinion. I had work colleagues trying to tempt me off the wagon with offers to buy me burgers. The office also saw a few heated arguments about the pros and cons of a vegan diet. Thankfully I had support from a real life vegan colleague who helped me along the way.

I should probably mention that I was only fully vegan for 5 full days from Monday to Friday. On Saturday I ate a doughnut which contained milk powder and also forgot about my trial and had chips with burger sauce in the evening, which I presume was not vegan. As I had already blown it I had milk on Sunday in the form of three lattes (yes I missed coffee! – I only have it with milk) and I also had a fried egg with breakfast, but did have vegetarian sausages and resisted the bacon. I don’t think I did too badly.

I shall share with you my thoughts in the form of a good old pros and cons list.

Cons

  • I spent the entire week feeling incredibly tired and very grumpy. Even my cat knew to stay away from me as I was pretty vile to be around.
  • Bowel trouble. I will not go into detail but anyone who has tried a vegan diet no doubt knows what I mean.
  • I couldn’t just grab a snack or lunch from a normal shop and had to spend ages each day cooking all my meals from scratch which I am used to doing for much of the time, but doing it all the time was a bit of a chore. Everything I made also seemed to generate so much washing up too. So much.
  • I got bullied by work colleagues.
  • Tyler often ate a different meal to me and we didn’t eat together very much.

Pros

  • I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my meals as they have been full of flavour, texture and colour. If you think about it there are a lot more types of vegetables than there are meats so you can have more variety in a vegan diet if you put your mind to it.
  • There’s a great vegan community out there and by blogging and using social media to share my journey I have felt really well supported.
  • It was ridiculously easy to get my suggested allowance of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day and I mostly had around 10 servings.
  • Amazingly, I lost 5lbs during my week on a vegan diet which is an amazing amount considering I was never hungry and didn’t follow any calorie constrictions or portion control guidelines.
  • I admit I felt quite good about not eating any animal products and found myself getting a bit preachy towards the end of the week. It’s definitely made me think more about where my food comes from and how it gets to my plate.

So what did I eat?

Breakfast was usually either a smoothie, wholemeal toast with cashew butter and banana or, my favourite, coconut yogurt with fruit, homemade granola and coconut flakes. I had no trouble finding suitable breakfast foods and am in love with coconut yogurt despite the ridiculous price tag.

Lunch was either grain bowls or leftovers from dinner. I consumed a lot of quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, roasted vegetables and humous during lunch. I made my own humous at the start of the week but my food processor broke in the process (great timing) so I had to resort to shop bought. I found a really nice red pepper version in the Co-Op which is really delicious.

Dinners varied quite a bit. Again, I had lots of sweet potatoes as I just love them, plus quite a lot of other vegetables, avocados and kidney beans. One of my favourite discoveries was a new way to cook kidney beans which I will share with you soon and I became rather creative with the spice rack. I made amazing pizzas by spreading a toasted pitta bread with some red pepper humous and topping it with vegetables. Not exactly Dominos but a girl’s gotta try.

I mostly snacked on fruit but did discover towards the end of the week that bourbon biscuits are suitable for vegans. I’m not yet sure if this is a good thing or not. I’m also going to be giving our a recipe for sweet and salty pecans soon as these are darn good.

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So, time for the all important question: will I be a full time vegan?

In a word, no. I have enjoyed my food, am made up with my weight loss and am starting to feel the benefits. However, I don’t like the idea of having to cut out so much from my diet and I hate having to eat a separate meal to my partner. So, I’ve decided to go 75% vegan and 25% non-vegan but to concentrate on eating less meat overall and to keep the focus on plant based products. That means I will mostly continue to eat a vegan diet but allow some flexibility for days when I either can’t be bothered of fancy a treat like a bar of milk chocolate. Some hardcore vegans might turn their noses up at my plan but I still feel like I’m doing good for making an effort to consume less animal products.

I shall continue to share some vegan recipes and ideas on my blog (but the occasional meaty treat will be there too) and will re-assess in the future if I want to go fully vegan full time. For now, burgers.