Gluten free blueberry muffins

This version of blueberry muffins uses brown rice flour and ground almonds instead of wheat flour.   I personally love using alternative flours to wheat flour and think that the results are often better. They can be healthier too as gluten free flours do not require as much fat and sugar to tenderise.  These muffins are light and very delicious – served warm they just melt in the mouth!

Makes 12 medium muffins
Time to make 30 minutes

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Ginger and walnut stuffed pears

Ginger and walnut stuffed pears
I love ginger and walnuts so anything using them is a hit with me. The slow cooking of the pears first ie before adding the stuffing, caramelises and intensifies the natural sugars making a deliciously sweet dessert with little added sugar. Good enough to serve for a special dinner!

Serves 8
Time to make  5 minutes plus  2 hours cooking time

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Power oat pancake

This pancake is so easy to make for one person and has great sustaining powers.  The egg together with the fibre from the oats and oatbran will keep you going for 4 hours at least.  Topped with fruit and yoghurt it is so delicious it will have you leaping out of bed in the morning!
Serves 1
Time to make  5 minutes

So delicious it is worth getting up for!

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Snacks – do they look after our health and weight?

A muffin or slice with a milky drink can provide 1/4 the kilojoules you need each day!

Do you regularly snack or graze? Are you driven by hunger, boredom, habit or the belief that the body needs a constant supply of food? Whatever the reason, the reality is that in most cases snacking works against our health and weight.
Snacking is almost a given these days. The 3 meal a day pattern (with little in between) is threatened as a profit driven and growing food industry needs us to eat more and more. Psuedo science tells us we need to drip feed ourselves with food, just as it tells us we need to do with water, where people cling limpet-like to their water bottles, fearful that letting go will cause instant dehydration. Continue reading

What is happening to our cooking skills?????

London supermarkets have become ready-to-go food outlets rather than a place to source ingredients.

Michael Pollan has just put out a new book called “Cooked, a natural history of transformation”. I love the catchphrase on the cover as it sums up craziness of the food world we live in. ” In a culture of food reality shows, in countries which are crammed with fresh ingredients from every corner of the earth, we none the less wade even deeper into a swamp of processed foods. The more we watch food on television, the less food we actually prepare and cook”

Ring true? Cooking has become a spectator sport that encourages eating rather than the honing of our personal food skills. We cook less but eat more as a myriad of tantalising
foods tempt us at every turn. Supermarkets, particularly in the UK and USA have moved away from selling ingredients and instead have become giant take away stores. Ingredients are relatively expensive and hard to find while attractive and conveniently presented ready to go options dominate the food aisles. With competitive pricing it is no wonder people flop on the couch with a ready to go meal rather than having to spend valuable TV time in the kitchen preparing and cooking food! Continue reading

Gold star to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

With more than a third of London’s 11 year olds overweight the Mayor of London Boris Johnson is launching a £600,000 project called ‘Healthy Schools London’. This will recognise schools that are tackling obesity; it will give them monetary rewards if they provide healthy lunches and encourage children to exercise. I wish some of our New Zealand politicians would do the same; first however they need to recognise and acknowledge we have a problem, something they seem incredibly loathe to do!!! Continue reading

Apricot curry chicken with quinoa

I am sorry that recipes and comments have been thin on the ground this year – am on extended leave at the moment in Europe and recipe development has not been easy.  I will be back on home turf early July so promise to be more diligent then.  In the meantime I hope you like this delicious take on a recipe I found while in London (by Charlie Trotter).

Apricot curry chicken with quinoa
Serves 4
Time to make: 30 minutes Continue reading

GOLD STAR to Michael Gove MP for making cooking compulsory for UK children

Congratulations to the British Government and in particular Michael Gove for their ambitious plan to ensure British children know how to cook healthy food. With the aim “to ensure every 14 year old has the ability to cook 20 savoury healthy recipes and to understand the origins and nutritional benefits of food”, from September next year all pupils between the ages of seven and 14 are to be taught cookery as part of the new national curriculum. A report compiled by the restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent of the Leon chain has made cooking lessons a chief recommendation, and it is understood the Government is in agreement. A second directive that will make it compulsory to eat lunches cooked in school aims to introduce a culture of fresh cooked meals to all children, ending the bringing of packed lunches – of varying nutritional quality – into school.

They have identified twenty recipes and techniques every child should learn
Cottage pie – uses up leftovers, comforts like lambswool
Dal – spiced pulses, incredibly cheap and phenomenally healthy
Tomato sauce – versatile, can be used in at least 10 other dishes
Paella – beautiful, energising and aromatic
Omelette – quite simply essential
Chicken stock – made from roast leftovers; boosts flavour without salt
Pasta and bean soup – rib sticking yet oddly elegant
Cornish pasties – easier-than-you-think portable goodness
Pancakes – a novice chef’s first challenge; always delectable
Mussels “marinières” – sustainably farmed seafood, economical and easy
French mustard vinaigrette – eye-watering, transforming
Beef stew – wine-rich and with a strip of orange rind (and dumplings)
Vegetable gratin – heart-warming use of béchamel and melted cheese
Fish pie – rich, popular party food
Bread – a life-long lasting lesson in fermentation
Grilled fish with hollandaise – challenging and ultimately impressive
Mayonnaise – merits the elbow grease and universally versatile
Curry – any one is a masterclass in balancing diverse flavour
Mashed potato – whipped with butter, velvety smooth
Lancashire hot pot – the easiest stew of all, beloved

Although my list would be slightly different – would include stir fry,  risotto and macaroni cheese rather than mussels marinieres or hollandaise sauce, I applaud this project and only wish we could get our government to demonstrate the same concern for the health of New Zealand children!

Nigella and Jamie get the thumbs down…

A study just published in the British Medical Journal compared recipes from Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver to ready-to-go meals from British supermarkets.  You will probably guess what came up trumps. As Niki Bezzant, editor of the Healthy Food Guide pointed out when interviewed about this, it would be surprising if anyone was surprised by  these results! Continue reading