Thursday, August 30, 2012

Strawberry Roulade

I had a group of British friends around last night so indulged in a yummy (not healthy) gluten free dessert - Strawberry Roulade.  But there was method behind my madness!

I am working on creating refined sugar free - and maybe even egg free - meringue style dishes.  One I wanted to try is a soft roulade where you roll the meringue into a log. But before I try changing a recipe, I want to know what it's like to do it as written, as it is then easier to know if you are on track when you make changes.

Gosh - I got quite excited!  It was a delicious light dessert that looked so pretty too. I managed to get some of my fruit flour in the recipe too - adding strawberry flour this time!  The flour is sprinkled on the top of the meringue and also included in the filling.

This sugared version is limited to an occasional treat.  As it happens, there were about 20 of us so we each only got a little taste.  The recipe says it's for 8 - 10 people.

Today I tried the same thing but using xylitol instead of refined sugar. Xylitol is a natural sugar alternative with a low glycemic index.  I cooked it a little too long and it started to brown, but apart from that, I was pleased with how it turned out.  I'll give it another try with a shorter cooking time.  But the meringue is crispy on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle!  Here's the sugar free version photo below:

I need to work on a better dairy free filling too as the coconut cream I used in this one, was too coconutty - even with some strawberry flour added.  So the experiments continue!

I'm having fun!  Do you have a favorite meringue style dessert?
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making Almond Milk

Following on from last week's recipe and instructions on how to make Oat Milk, this week I'll show you how to make Almond Milk.

Yes, you can buy almond milk in the supermarket, but it tends to contain lots of ingredients. My recipe uses only organic almonds and water.  In what I consider the best, unsweetened commercial almond milk you still get extras of:

  • rice starch
  • sea salt (190mg sodium)
  • vanilla
  • natural flavor
  • carrageenan
I prefer the almonds and water approach!  Here's how to do it.

  • Soak 1 cup of organic almonds in water for 24 hours or overnight if you are short of time.  Use enough water to cover the nuts. Make sure it's good quality water!
  • Drain and rinse the almonds after their soak. Remove the skins of the almonds.  This is optional but gives you a much whiter milk and is easy to do. I timed myself and it took only 3 minutes to take the skins off! Once the almonds have soaked, just use an action like you are squeezing the almond and the skin comes off whole.
  • Place the almonds in a blender (I used my Vitamix) and add 3 cups of water.  You can actually add more (up to a total of 4 cups of water) or less, depending on how creamy or liquid you want your milk.  
  • Blend until smooth. Don't over blend or the milk will start to heat up.
  • Pour into a nut bag*, suspended over a jug and squeeze the milk out using your hand. Squeeze well to get all the milk and until the pulp is crumbly.
  • There isn't a lot of pulp that remains in the nut bag so you can either discard it or use it in your oatmeal or cereal or baked goods.  
  • Now pour yourself a glass of delicious, healthy, unsweetened, organic almond milk and enjoy, or else use it in baking, or cooking as a dairy substitute or on your cereal for breakfast!
The photo below shows the lovely white color of homemade almond milk - on the right - compared to bought almond milk on the right.

The milk will last at least a week, kept in the refrigerator.

*Re: nut bags.  Nut bags are available at cook shops and are a mesh fabric that holds small particles inside and lets the liquid run through.  They are sometimes called jelly bags too - for when you leave homemade jelly to run through. Here is a source at Lakeland in the UK, or on  In the US, there are plenty of options like this one on Amazon, or check out your local cookware store.  Alternatively, you can just pour the milk through a double layer of cheesecloth to remove the pulp.

I'll show you another dairy free milk next week.  They are much better for you than drinking dairy.  And taste yummy too!  What is your favorite?
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apple Kisses

I spent a day developing recipes to make apple kisses.  Doesn't that sound a good way to spend a day!

The idea behind creating an "apple kiss" recipe was to make something like a cookie or little cake or tasty light sweet yummy, but use:

  • no dairy
  • no gluten
  • no refined sugar
  • no fat
  • AND find a way to incorporate my new found friends, fruit flours!  
and have something that tastes good!

The creation came first, then the name!  I decided that they needed to be filled and then they just looked like apple kisses!

I made two different types.  The first ones used a combination of brown rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch and apple flour.  I used coconut palm sugar for the sweetener, applesauce, baking powder and some cinnamon.

They were really quick to make and turned out yummy!  I cut each one in half and added some apple non-dairy whipped cream to make little kisses!

For the second variation I tried gluten free oat flour plus the apple flour. I thought it might be a bit crumbly so added some xanthum gum, but they actually ended up a little moist, so maybe this wasn't necessary. Otherwise, the same ingredients were used, but before I cooked them, I flattened them a little.  I initially filled a few with apple butter that I had made and preserved a few years ago (doesn't contain butter!), but I preferred them with the apple cream!

I ended up liking the first variation the best. The second ones were just a bit to moist and gooey for my taste.  But the recipe still needs some work with slight variations so when I've got it better, I'll let you know the recipe.

The sweetener I used has become my recent favorite - Palm sugar or coconut palm sugar.  It comes from the nectar of the coconut palm. I buy the Sweet Tree version which is organic and is not refined i.e. minimally processed.  It contains no preservatives.  It is brown (as it's not been bleached like regular sugar) so using it in an apple product seemed good.  I'm thinking for other flavors the color maybe a bit strong? But that is to try on another day.  

Palm sugar also has a low Glycemic index - of 35 (cane sugar is 68, Honey is 55) - and you can switch it for the same quantity as sugar in recipes.

It's high in potassium, magnesium, zinc and is a natural source of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C.

And it tastes good!  Brown sugar like taste with a touch of caramel!  Have you given it a try?

Fancy an apple kiss?
Sunday, August 26, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

Another week, and another bunch of things that made me feel that life is tickety-boo:

(Gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free) Apple Kisses

  • experimenting in the kitchen and having some successes!
  • trying out fruit flours along with my other alternative gluten free flours
  • having a friend come up and stay
  • lunch out and laughing with a friend
  • getting a new camera
  • moving furniture around and it feels so different
  • teaching a family (mum and 2 daughters) how to make jewelry :-D
  • having so many people sign-up straight away for my "food as medicine" groups
  • hearing my nephew did well in his exams - a different nephew from the one I mentioned last week!
  • having 2 bright nephews!
  • picking loads of apples and dehydrating some
  • picking pears
  • eating all this home grown food - cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, pears......
UTO (Unidentified tomato object) 
Hope you've had a tickety-boo week, with lots of yummy healthy food.
Friday, August 24, 2012

Dehydrated apples

I got a new camera yesterday!  Yippee. My other one died. I thought it had died a couple of months ago, but it came back to life, but now not only does it seem dead, but it's also trying to kill my computer, as it causes it to crash when I plug it in, so I don't want it messing that up.  But I'm excited with my new toy and want to learn all it's features - or at least some of them :-)

Our big apple harvest has started here at home.  We picked the apples from one tree and any that weren't perfect, I chopped and dehydrated, ready to eat throughout the year. The rest we'll store and eat fresh!  Naturally as they came out of the dehydrator, I had to take their photo with my new camera!  Haven't figured out how to use it properly - just how to switch it on, but you've got to start somewhere!

How tasty they look.  We have so many apples each year - and I've been through the apple pie mix stage and the chutney stage and all the other preserving ways, but our favorite for apples is dehydrating. They make a wonderful snack and I always keep some in the car for late night journeys.
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cooking with fruit flours

I've been experimenting in the kitchen today and it still continues.  Here is one of the results - a raspberry macaron (and yes, I did make more than one!!).  Macarons, if you didn't know, are the light fluffy meringue melt-in-your-mouth confectionery, originally from France.

Macarons are naturally gluten free as they use almond flour instead of a gluten flour.  The exciting part about todays experiment's, for me at least, is that I made flour from fruit and used it in the macaron, replacing some of the almond flour.  The flour I made was from raspberries.  How cool is that - and so the little meringues taste of raspberries!  With all these alternative flours out there, I thought I'd try making some for myself and this is my first attempt.  I wonder what will come next?????

The theme of macarons is continuing in this kitchen, as I'm trying out a sugar free version.  They are just drying now.  If they are successful, you'll see them soon!

Have you ever tried using/making fruit flour?
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Making Oat Milk

If you are giving up dairy, here's an easy way to make your own non-dairy milk using oats. In this case, I used gluten free oats.

Soak one cup of oats in water overnight. Pour enough water to cover the oats.

Image 1

The oats will swell up to at least 1 1/2 cups. After soaking, drain and rinse the oats.

Place them in a blender with 3 cups of water and blend for a minute or so. I used my vitamix so it was very quick. For less powerful models, you may need to blend for a couple of minutes.

Image 3

Pour the milk into a nut bag and collect the yummy healthy milk.

Image 4

You will get about 4 cups of oat milk. Keep this in the fridge and use it within a week, on your morning cereal and in cooking. It is versatile as the oats don't give a strong overpowering flavor.

Image 5

Here is a photo of this morning's breakfast - my puffed brown rice cereal, with raspberries, bananas and home made gluten free oat milk.

Image 6

If you prefer a thicker, creamier consistency, just reduce the amount of water your add to the blender.

I'll be back with other non dairy milk recipes soon. Hope you give it a try.
Sunday, August 19, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

Another week and it's time for my weekly list of gratitudes - the things that made my week seem tickety-boo!
  • fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden - our nectarines are all finished now, but we have masses of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers right now, with apples and pears just about to join in!
  • having a picnic at home! We filled the picnic basket with yummy food and took it up, with our picnic blanket, under the oak tree. What a perfect setting. I think we need to do more picnics at home :-D
  • singing. My voice is nearly all the way back, after my flu, which is a relief as I'm singing in a concert tonight. By Wednesday, I thought I'd have to pull out, but a lot of rest seems to have done the trick. Fingers crossed.
  • hearing that my nephew did well in his exams
  • my gentle considerate dental hygienist and my fun hairdresser
  • catching up with a friend we haven't seen in a few years - and enjoying her wonderful dinner together
  • interesting clients
  • chocolate walnuts! - sadly they are a little too good!
  • my mum - it was her birthday on Wednesday xxxxxx
I hope your week has been tickety-boo too!
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Food Textures - More Crispy Snacks

Here's another snack I choose when I'm craving something crispy:


Yummy puppodums, or poppodoms, or puppads or a variety of other names!

You need to microwave them for 45 second each and get this tasty gluten free snack, around the size of a tortilla.


They originate from Indian cuisine but don't have a particular strong flavor so are nice to snack on anytime.

Have you ever tried them? In the UK they are eaten a lot and you can buy them in packets, like potato chips, already crisped, but I've never seen them like that here in the US.

Food Textures - More Crispy Snacks

Here's another snack I choose when I'm craving something crispy:


Yummy puppodums, or poppodoms, or puppads or a variety of other names!

You need to microwave them for 45 second each and get this tasty gluten free snack, around the size of a tortilla.


They originate from Indian cuisine but don't have a particular strong flavor so are nice to snack on anytime.

Have you ever tried them? In the UK they are eaten a lot and you can buy them in packets, like potato chips, already crisped, but I've never seen them like that here in the US.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Food Textures - Crispy

Texture is a very important character of every food we eat or drink.  To many people it is even more important than taste.

If we think of the different textures we distinguish, there is: crunchy, chewy, crispy, juicy, squashy, runny, solid, hard, soft, soggy, firm, creamy, fatty, etc.

The components and ingredients within foods plus the processes they go through determines their textures.

So do you have a favorite texture?  Is there one texture that you tend to prefer to a snack?  In this series of blog posts, I'll be exploring different textures and some healthy snack options that can satisfy those textures. This means that if you crave your usual snack that maybe isn't so healthful, by identifying the texture of the snack, you can try substituting a more healthful snack that has the same texture.

For me, my favorite texture is crispy.  I love that firmness and the sound as you crack through it.  When I fancy a snack, it is crisp that I tend to go for.  In my not-so-healthy eating days, potato chips would be what I'd grab.  In identifying "crisp", it seems similar to crunchy, but the difference is that crisp is something thin, whereas crunchy is a thicker texture.

So I have a few alternatives that I now go to for my crispy fix. The first is Edwards and Sons Baked Brown Rice Snaps.

They come in different flavors but my favorites are the Tamari Seaweed ones. This flavor has no added oils or preservatives. The plain unsalted ones similarly have no oil, but I find them a little too plain! Some of the other flavors have added oil, so read the label. Here are the ingredients.

They have a great snap when you bite into them. They are good for dips and worth a try! I'll share some more crispy healthy snacks with you soon.
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

This week has been a little more challenging in terms of gratitude and feeling tickety-boo!  I came home from Florida and seemed to bring with me a nasty non-seasonal influenza virus! It's laid me low all week - so I've been doing little but sleeping and coughing.  However, I've had plenty of time for think about things that made a difference to my otherwise not so good week - so here are the things that reminded me that everything is still tickety-boo:

Cough, cough!

  • phone calls, texts and emails from family showing their love and care
  • a snuggly duvet and enveloping pillow
  • a new pair of pajamas that made me happy to be wearing them
  • a caring hubby
  • not thinking about food or having to decide meals
  • soaking in a warm bath
  • a good movie to pass the time
  • cooling on the throat watermelon
  • turning the corner and beginning to feel better!
  • hearing that my nephew passed his driving test
  • my first trip out of the house after 5 days and how exciting that felt (cabin fever???)!

I hope you've been feeling tickety-boo this week. And I know I'm going to be feeling even more tickety-boo next week :-D

By the way, I'm struggling with my blog and photos and wonder if any of you know an answer.  Blogger won't let me upload any new photos.  I've tried to check on picasa but it won't let me see my profile or change anything either.  Have any of you other bloggers had blogger photo issues and have any suggestions?
Sunday, August 5, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

Just back from the second half of my vacation with my sister, her hubby, and my two gorgeous nephews.  I had such a great time and it was non-stop tickety-boo.  Here are the highlights:

  • being greeted at the airport by my family with a sign saying "Aunty Ruth"
  • returning to Sanibel, where we used to live and seeing the familiar and the changes
  • having my own bathroom in a lovely condo
  • feeling a real part of the family
  • snuggling down together to watch a movie
  • kayaking in the Ding Darling wildlife preserve
  • catching up on everyone's news and plans and ideas
  • finding new gluten free items in the store
  • enjoying the sun, sea, sand and shells...oh, and shopping
  • watching the alligators, geckos, and many birds
  • feeling the relief of air conditioning
  • having silly times and laughing together
  • being able to float while standing upright - I think the sea must have been really salty.
  • drinking cocktails
  • sisterly chats
  • wearing bright colored seaside clothes every day
  • happy memories
  • feeling sad when I had to leave :-(
Sorry - photos aren't work on my blogger account at the moment. They'll have to come later! Hope you had a good week.  Thanks so much Simpsons! 

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