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

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Oven-baked root vegetable crisps (chips)

Oven-baked root vegetable crispsSince I came to the UK, I have all too often indulged in Tyrell’s veg crisps, made with beetroot, parsnips, and carrot. They are delicious – but they’re also very greasy, salty, and made with sunflower oil, which isn’t a very healthy oil. After some trial and error, I have come up with an alternative that’s even more delicious. My oven-baked root vegetable crisps are crunchy, satisfying, and because they’re a lot less greasy and salty, the real taste of the root vegetable shines through. And lest you think this means they’re yucky, let me tell you: my junk food-loving small children adore these. Continue reading

Papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes) with coriander-red pepper mojo (sauce)

Papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes)I discovered papas arrugadas, wrinkly potatoes, on a trip to the Canary Islands, where they are ubiquitous. Partly because they’re gluten-free but partly because they’re really tasty, I had them almost every time we ate out. At first I thought they might be difficult to make. I also thought they might take a special kind of potato, since some websites said they’re made with special Canarian potatoes. Nope on both counts. In supermarkets I saw bags of very ordinary new potatoes, grown in various locales around Europe, marked “papas para arrugar” (potatoes to wrinkle). Maybe the Canarios don’t want the word to get out but the fact is, papas arrugadas are very easy to make and taste the same in England, made with English potatoes, as they did in Tenerife.

Initially I felt a little foolish when I found out how papas arrugadas are made – they’re simply boiled in heavily salted water (originally sea water, apparently). Easy, right? I couldn’t believe I’d never thought of making potatoes that way before. However, having actually managed to screw them up a few times, I’ve discovered a few techniques for making them properly. I’ve also developed a low-FODMAP sauce that loosely approximates mojo, the garlicky sauce normally served with papas arrugadas. Continue reading

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

Boxty dumplings with tomato sauce

Boxty dumplings with tomato sauceHaving made boxty crepes and boxty blinis during my Irish week, I wanted to turn the basic mixture of grated potato, mashed potato and flour to a different use. I therefore decided to make boxty dumplings, AKA boiled boxty.

The recipes I saw made me think of gnocci, but sounded a little… well… boring. I gather the traditional way, as detailed by Radio Ulster, involves simply frying the dumplings in butter. Another recipe I saw on CatholicCulture.org calls for a “sweet sauce,” which to me sounds unpleasant. So I decided to do an Irish-Italian fusion dish and serve my boiled boxty with tomato sauce. It turned out to be a good decision. My dumplings turned out chewy and indeed gnocci-like, and my kids loved them with the tomato sauce. Continue reading

Sheer pira – Afghan-style almond cardamom fudge (vegan)

Four squares of almond fudge with walnutsOccasionally my wild kitchen experimentation results in something so good, it sets a new standard. Such was the case with my attempt at making sheer pira. In the future, I won’t be able to help but compare other fudge. It won’t taste almondy enough. Not cardamomy enough. Not… not my version of sheer pira.

I should back up a little and explain. For our Afghanistan-themed weekend, I looked for Afghan dessert recipes and thought sheer pira/sheer payra sounded nicest as well as naturally gluten-free. But most sheer pira recipes, like this one from SBS, involve powdered milk. Not only do I not have any powdered milk in the house, I’m lactose intolerant. So that was out. I did find an alternative from Recipes of Asia that involved regular milk instead. I thought I might be able to replace that with almond milk.

But that little bit of tinkering with the recipe wasn’t going to be enough. I decided to replace the pistachios, which are high in FODMAPs, with almonds, which are moderate in FODMAPs. And because the recipe seemed to involve too little in the way of solids, I decided to double the amount of nuts so it would be more in line with the SBS version. I decided not to use rosewater, which most recipes call for, because my husband doesn’t like it and I didn’t have any on hand. Finally, I decided to make my version dairy-free. So the experiment was on. Continue reading