Paleo banana flax pancakes

Paleo banana flax pancakes cutThis was breakfast this morning. It’s by far my kids’ favourite breakfast. It’s easy to make and I can eat it without guilt because it’s not only gluten-free, it’s grain-free, dairy-free (if you use coconut oil rather than ghee) and free of refined sugar. Personally, I eat them with almond butter rather than maple syrup, though my kids (of course) go for the maple syrup. Either way, they’re delicious. Continue reading

Sweet potato raisin muffins (Paleo, no added sugar)

Sweet potato raisin muffinsI’m almost afraid to admit this because it seems like such a trendy thing, but for many reasons I’ve been moving towards a more paleo/primal diet. Cutting down on grains has been a gradual process but for the last two and a half weeks I’ve been strictly following a grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free diet. I’m not sure if I always will be this strict – I’m doing this as an elimination diet and plan to later experiment with adding in various foods to determine what really does bother my gut – but for now I can report that I’ve been feeling better than I have in years.

I have, however, been craving a treat. For my elimination diet I’ve decided to give up all added sugar, even things like honey and maple syrup (which paleo people eat), so I thought I’d try to use naturally sweet ingredients to make muffins. That’s how I came up with these sweet potato muffins, which are studded with raisins and subtly spiced for a taste and smell somewhere between pumpkin pie and oatmeal raisin cookies.

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Tropical banana muffins (Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar)

Tropical banana muffinsI love banana muffins and banana bread but today I was feeling a bit bored of my regular nutty ones. It’s February and I was feeling like a taste of the tropics, so I decided to break with tradition and make banana muffins with coconut and mango. (Mango is high-FODMAP but I find I can stand a little bit. It can easily be replaced with papaya if you’re more sensitive to it.) I also wanted to make muffins with little or no added sugar. Loosely using my own sweet potato coconut muffins as a guide, I added a little bit of this and a little bit of that, fully expecting this initial attempt not to turn out very well. To see what disaster I’d come up with, I made a single small test muffin. Much to my surprise, it turned out perfect.*

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Buckwheat crepes (galettes bretonnes) with gluten-free, dairy-free bechamel sauce

Crepe with steak and broccoliIt’s pancake day here in the UK, which means my kids got a pancake lunch, a pancake supper, and pancake dessert. If that sounds like a lot of work, it really wasn’t. Not only was I too lazy to make a pancake breakfast, the truth is, I only actually made pancakes once. To be more accurate, I made galettes bretonnes once and we ate them three different ways using three very easy variations.

Galettes bretonnes, or buckwheat crepes, are traditionally made with buckwheat flour only, making them naturally gluten-free. If you want to have them in a restaurant, however, be careful, since some cooks mix the buckwheat flour with wheat flour. Perhaps they fear that the buckwheat will be strong-tasting – and in some recipes it can be – but honestly, here it isn’t. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like a wheat flour crepe, but it has a mild and pleasant taste and texture. Honestly, it’s nothing too challenging.

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Healthy banana nut flapjacks (oat bars) with optional hazelnut toffee crunch

Nutty banana oat flapjacksWhen I first came to England, I didn’t understand what a flapjack was. I thought of it as a down-home-American word for a pancake. Even once I understood what a flapjack was in England, I didn’t get for a long time what all the fuss was about (the English LOVE their flapjacks). As far as I can tell, the classic British flapjack is essentially a very sweet and buttery granola bar without all the good stuff associated with granola bars, other than oats. Little by little, however, I have come to see the potential of the British flapjack. Oat bars are almost a blank canvas, to which you can add any number of ingredients and still bake up a tasty treat. After considerable experimentation, I’ve come up with a version that’s really quite healthy.

My flapjacks are much lower in sugar and fat than the classic flapjack. They’re gluten-free and dairy-free – in fact, vegan. For added nutrition, I add a lot of nuts. Lots of banana keeps my flapjacks moist and sweet. For a quick and easy everyday snack, that’s where I stop. However, for a more decadent treat or to serve to guests, I like to add chocolate drizzle and hazelnut toffee crunch. Continue reading

Polvorones

Polvorones almond cookiesHappy New Year! For what’s still the holiday season, I bring you polvorones. We were recently in the Canary Islands on holiday (in quieter parts of Tenerife where we actually didn’t see any lobster-red beach sardines or drunken English louts) and I wanted to make some Spanish food for Christmas. Polvorones are a traditional Christmas treat and I thought they sounded easy enough to make in a limited holiday rental kitchen. However, the oven turned out to be malfunctioning so I ended up doing fruit and ice cream for Christmas dessert instead. Back home, however, there was nothing stopping me, so I made polvorones for New Year’s instead of Christmas. Continue reading

Chocolate zucchini fruit rainbow cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Chocolate zucchini cake with fruit rainbowWe interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging about foods of the world to bring you probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. Because, well… chocolate cake. Need I say more? This one actually contains zucchini (courgette) and is gluten-free and dairy-free. Not that you’d ever know. I topped it with a rainbow of fruit for my five-year-old’s birthday party and it was divine – moist, the perfect balance between dense and fluffy, with a fine crumb. It was sweet enough but not TOO sweet and the juicy fruit perfectly complemented the dark chocolatiness. Heaven!

With the exception of the little girl with the dairy allergy, none of the kids knew it was a gluten-free, dairy-free cake. Nor did any of them know it contained zucchini. I gave all the kids generous slices after a substantial snack of fruit, veg, crackers, and cheese. Yet almost without exception the cake slices were gobbled up practically before the candles were blown out. I can think of no better testimonial from a roomful of five-year-olds. Continue reading