Gluten Free Finds and Favourites

I’ve been wanting to share with you some of my new (and some old) favourite gluten free products available in the supermarkets.  I know not all of my readers follow a gluten free diet and it’s not something I want to always harp on about, I like this blog to have ideas for everyone, diet specific or not, but sometimes it’s nice to specify and this is what this is.  Anyway you might not be a Coeliac or gluten intolerant but you might have friends or family that are and it’s always useful to have a few tricks up your sleeves for feeding them with ease.

At the top of the list is a bread that even at 3 days old I can make pretty darn decent sandwiches from (this is not a common factor in gf breads) and has finally allowed me to bring a ‘normal’ packed lunch into work of occasion.   

Gluten Free Brown Sliced Bread (400g)

There seem to be a lot of new loaves arriving on the supermarket shelves but this has to be my favourite.  Unfortunately, I don’t rate their white, it’s still too dry and crumbly for me but ‘Warburtons Gluten Free Brown’ is ace.  It’s soft, yet hearty, and has good staying power.  If I want doughy, white goodness I go for Tesco’s own brand Free From White loaf featured here but in terms of a healthy, moreish, every day bread for sandwiches and toast this is the one.  I recently noticed some gf tea cakes on the shelves by the lovely Warburtons, I haven’t tried them yet so if you have let me know!

Another product I only spotted recently was this gluten free pizza base from Sainsburys, it made the most delectable base for garlic and cheese topping that I shared with my non coeliac friend who couldn’t tell the difference.  I know that really I should be knocking up my own dough and this recipe at ‘The Gluten Free Student Cookbook’, does look and sound gorgeous.  But time is tight sometimes, and occasionally (ok quite often really)  you just want something quick and simple and this fits the bill (or the stomach).

The next product on my list is something I’m still experimenting with but has so far proved to be a great store cupboard essential.  I made a beautifully moist and delicious Victoria Sponge and some yummy Citrus Drizzle Fairy Cakes with this flour and have been experimenting making flat breads with it too.  Dove’s Farm seem to be pretty hot on all things gluten free and their website lists extensive baking recipes using their flours so you are never without a gluten free alternative. 

Doves Farm Gluten Free and Wheat Free Flour

When it comes to spaghetti the best brand I’ve tried is Salute.  However it does seem to have disappeared recently.  I’ve done a quick search for a website and can’t find them, it used to be stocked in most of the big supermarkets but recently I’ve only seen it in Waitrose or on Ocado.  So if I see it now I stock up.  It seems like a long time since I ate gluten but as far as my memory can remember it is the closest in taste and texture I’ve found to a quality dried, wheat based spaghetti,  I serve it up regularly to non coeliacs and no one has ever noticed a difference (win).  It’s an Italian brand (of course) and really is a perfect gluten free alternative. 

Salute Gluten Free Spaghetti

Now I’ve had a bit of a cut back on my purchase of these bars recently because they weren’t fitting in with the purse strings or the new diet but they were a staple of mine for taking to work last year and they provide a great and fairly healthy mid morning or mid afternoon snack to keep you going.  They are packed with almonds and dried fruits and really yummy.  These days it seems quite hard to find a cereal type bar that is gluten free and these little beauties certainly fit the bill for me.

Right, before I stop, there are some little wonders I’ve been hiding in my cupboard regularly for the past two years and they are these Custard Creams by TruFree.  When I started eating gluten free I was impressed by some of the lovely cookies and macaroons on offer but I missed those classic, dunk in your tea, type biscuits that are a staple in biscuit tins and on tea breaks around the country and then I found them… 

Custard Creams

So with these little creamy, custardy biscuits of joy I will leave you….

p.s. What are your favourite gluten free finds?

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Aubergine Curry with Gram Flour Flat Breads

I was pretty surprised at just how delicious this curry was.  I cooked it without any oil, just a little of that spray light and it worked really well, it also means it’s practically fat free and good for the diet (zzzzzz).  I think the secret is the grilling of the whole aubergine until charred and smoky and then using the scooped out flesh.  I’ve made the flat breads before, they are kind of a mix between socca and dosas in that they utilise the basic concept of the socca recipe, gram flour, water and seasoning, yet I make them like a dosa style pancake.

Aubergine Curry with Gram Flour Flat Breads and Cottage Cheese (yeah that's right, COTTAGE CHEESE!)

Oh yeah and I served it up with some cottage cheese, now I know I’m going to sound a little like a diet obsessed freak here but it worked really well, almost like a creamier yoghurt type substitute with a bit more body and the cool, soft cheese provided the perfect partner to this spiced aubergine and made a change from the more traditional yoghurt.  In fact I read somewhere someone talking about how cottage cheese was pretty much the same as ricotta and although sadly underrated made a much cheaper alternative.  Right enough said, it’s alright you know!

Serves 1 or 2 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 smallish onion
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and de-seeded
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • an inch of ginger
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of mild curry powder
  • salt
  • Spray light (or if you are not watching your waistline they go ahead pour a load of yummy oil in the pan *evil eyes*)

Method:

Turn your grill on.  Whack your aubergine under the grill and turn every few minutes until it is charred and saggy.  Set aside.

Slice your onion and soften in the microwave with a splash of water, ie put in bowl, splash with water and cover with a plate, I normally put it in on high for about 3 minutes.

Finely chop your garlic and ginger with some salt.  Heat a small frying pan and spray with oil.  Add your softened onions and ginger and garlic and fry until slightly browned.  Add the curry powder and fry for 30 seconds.  Add the roughly chopped tomatoes and fry for another min.  Scoop out the innards of the aubergine and add to the pan.  Stir and season to taste.

Serve with the flat breads, see recipe here, some cottage cheese and maybe a bit of mango chutney.  I serve it all separately but it would make a great wrap if you were wanting a fajita vibe.

Honey Mango Frozen Yoghurt

Right so I mentioned I’m on a diet yeah? Yeah, I know, stop whining.  Anyways I’m getting into the swing of things and this little fat free dessert fits in nicely.  I had been meaning to make this since I bought a box of those gorgeous honey mangoes from the market a while back.  I couldn’t manage all of them in one go, they are delicious but they are rich and normally really ripe, so I had to freeze the leftovers.

The beautiful honey mangoes fresh from Surrey Street market, they even put tinselly bits in the box they are that good.

This dessert utilises these frozen beauties and makes a great healthy alternative to ice cream.  Also you don’t need an ice cream machine.  Now I know James Martin has been banging on about his machine-less banana ice cream every time someone comes on Saturday Kitchen and says they don’t like bananas and yeah it’s kinda the same idea but with yoghurt and mangoes, however this does work supremely well with the lovely ‘nana as well.  If fact I might get trying with some other fruits, I’ll let you know if they are a success.

Now this is super easy and if you happen to be a member of ‘Fat Club’ then is a great low points dessert when you are craving ice cream, I won’t bore you  with the calculations, you can work it out.  So this is how it rolls…

Serves 2 (reasonable sized portions in ramekins or 1 whopper of a ‘I need ice cream now but I’m on a diet’ kinda size)

Ingredients:

  • Approx 2 honey mangoes, in pieces, frozen (Tip: if you are freezing this try and freeze it on a tray separately first so you don’t do what I did and have to hack at your frozen mango lump with a meat cleaver)
  • 2 large tablespoons of fat free yoghurt ( I use Total)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey, or Agave syrup
  • Half a capful of vanilla extract

Method:

Chuck your frozen mango pieces and all other ingredients in a processor or blender ( I used a mini processor, you have to shake it about, stir and pulse to get it going but persevere the results are worth it). And that’s it! Plop into a bowl or get stuck in straight from the processor bowl (take the blades out and turn the power off first!).  Enjoy…

Smooth, silky and delicious, go on, try it...

Back to Fat Club….oh and some pretty (ish) pictures of food…

After nearly a year of blogging here at ‘What Isla Ate’ my once loose-fitting jeans have become quite uncomfortable and after trying (and giving up very rapidly) running, it’s not for me, I’ve decided to join Fat Club again.  I did it a couple of years ago when my daughter was about 1 and I lost a whopping 4 stone so I know it works if I stick to it.  However it does seem to make recipe conjuring a little more difficult.  But fear not dear readers, I shall endeavour to still post some yummy food and in the meantime I’m sure I have a couple of dishes knocked up in the last few weeks I haven’t posted yet. And with my birthday coming up there will have to be some little lapses in the diet regime in which I will gorge on delicious, naughty things and will have to report back.

Right this is rather boring isn’t it.  Anyway I have been using Instagram a lot lately, I love the vintage Polaroid style, it makes everything a little more romantic and wistfu.  So for a little something pretty to look at here is my food week (last couple of weeks) in instagram (btw I got this lovely idea, well stole it, from the lovely Rosalilium she puts up beautiful pictures of her week and I’m pretty addicted to having a nose so I hope she won’t mind me stealing the idea and making it a little more food focused):

This was a couple of weeks ago now but Tamatanga is in Nottingham, it's a great concept, sort of 'fast food' indian style in a Wagamama set up, we ordered the Thali with a choice of curries as well as the statutory veggie ones, rice, poppadom (and naan if you want) with a drink for a meal deal, well worth a visit...

Holiday activity, my little lady creaming the butter and sugar for a gluten free victoria sponge...

...the sponge layers out of the oven...

...viccy sponge, recipe courtesy of the Doves Farm flour packet (baking is a science you know!)...

Picnic in the sunshine the other day, the lovely victoria sponge, a quinoa, mackerel and mango salad and some fresh ripe raspberries and mango, mmm

Gorgeous fried onions for a feast of hot dogs in a gluten free baguette.

And finally doughnut peaches fresh from the market poaching in a honey vanilla syrup, an attempt at a healthy dessert, more to come!!

Right so bye bye for now, if perchance you’ve been a member of fat club before (you know the one I’m talking about, it involves points) then please suggest some recipes to keep me going and in the meantime I’ll get my healthy brain switched on and get thinking… x

 

Beetroot, Feta, Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad

I’ve gone a bit mad for this salad over the past few days, knocking up versions of it for sides on a bbq or as a quick healthy lunch.  I’ve always been a bit funny about beetroot, I didn’t like it, I still grimace a little when I see it pickled or rather smell the pickling liquor.  My mum and dad seemed to religiously eat this in cheese salad sandwiches on a Saturday lunchtime and I used to hover round my dad as he made sandwiches making sure mine went no where near the stuff.  My partner loves the stuff too, gobbling up the pickled stuff straight from the jar as a midnight snack, bleurghhh.  Anyway my tastes have matured and as I often see the stuff finely shredded in salads you can buy in the shops and rather enjoying said salads I thought it was high time I got over my fear and grated this heavenly super food into my salads.  It’s a bit of a revelation of taste, it’s sweet  and crunchy and that purpley pink dye is rather charming when mingled with other salad veg and the salty, fresh feta.

So here it goes…

mmm beetroot...

Serves 2 as a lunch

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato, washed and unpeeled, cut into square dice (about 1 and 1/2 cm)
  • 1 beetroot, grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • A large handful of baby spinach
  • a 3rd of a bar of Feta

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • half a teaspoon of agave syrup or honey or sugar
  • salt and pepper

Method:

Heat an oven to about 220 degrees.  Chuck your sweet potato chinks in a tray, drizzle with oil, season generously and toss together to coat.  Cook your sweet potatoes for about 20 min until tender and slightly browned.  Set aside.

Combine your grated veg, spring onions, spinach.  Add warm sweet potatoes. Mix dressing and pour over and toss.  Crumble in feta.  Toss lightly.  Serve.

This is so delicious, I had it again today with out the sweet potato and was thinking about mixing in some fried chorizo chinks for a more meaty treat another time.  If you are afraid of beetroot, try this, it’s really not half as bad as you think, promise.