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Yesterday, I woke up at 4am, pushed the curtains to one side, and took a quick look outside. It was one of those magical mornings, with whisps of morning mist, and all the signs that it was going to be a sunny day. I went back to sleep, thinking ‘I’ll make a picnic for lunch’. And, yep, the sun shone, the birds sang – and, at last, it was time for summery food!
This cake is an absolute joy to eat. It’s beautifully moist but holds together well. And it’s full of flavours from the pomegranates, almonds and pistachios. I made it with a very simple dairy-free yogurt and honey topping (but, of course, you can do a different frosting if you want a more conventional sugary one!)
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Makes 1 cake Preparation time 25 minutes Cooking time 40 minutes
- 150g/5½oz dairy-free margarine, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 2 pomegranates
- 175g/6oz/scant 1 cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 60g/2¼oz/scant ¼ cup rice flour
- 20g/¾oz/scant ⅓ cup gram flour
- 20g/¾oz/scant ⅓ cup maize flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 50g/1¾oz/½ cup ground almonds
- 100g/3½oz/⅔ cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
- 100g/3½oz dairy-free yogurt
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease a deep 20cm/8in springform cake tins with dairy-free margarine. Halve the pomegranates and, holding each half over a large mixing bowl, bash the outer skin with a wooden spoon until all of the seeds fall into the bowl. You’ll need to bash the skin a few times before the seeds begin to fall out, but they will. And you might need to pick a few pieces of pith out of the bowl. Put a quarter of the pomegranate seeds into another dish and leave to one side, covered in cling film, to decorate the cake.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the dairy-free margarine and sugar together in another large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flours, gluten-free baking powder and xanthan gum into the mixture, add the ground almonds, and fold in. Add the pistachios and three-quarters of the pomegranate seeds and mix in gently. Make sure the mixture is well mixed but take care not to overmix it. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and level the surfaces with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and leave to cool completely.
- Mix together the yogurt and honey in a bowl until smooth. Spread the topping over the cake, cover with the remaining pomegranate seeds and serve. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2–3 days.
This delicious crumble is made with gluten-free oats. Recently it was discovered that oats don’t actually contain gluten – but because they are generally produced and packaged alongside other gluten products, especially wheat, they often have a certain amount of gluten in them. Great news! I’ve always loved oats but have definitely experienced reactions from them in the past. But Coeliac UK have confirmed that oats are naturally gluten-free, within their parameters of less than 2 parts in 1 million (although not all organizations agree). For me, the gluten-free oats you can now get are definitely ok, and I don’t get any reactions. My favourites are made by Nairns and you can find them in most supermarkets and health stores.
This is a great recipe for everyone, especially little ones. I’ve made the crumble with honey and apple juice instead of sugar, so it won’t cause a ‘sugar hit’. Oats are one of the best slow-release carbohydrates so they helps concentration and brain function. Hazelnuts are particularly rich in omega-9 fatty acid, also known as oleic acid, which boosts the immune system. And the humble apple is a brilliant fruit. High in antioxidants, including vitamins B3, C and beta-carotene, it’s also packed full of a soluble fibre called pectin, which helps to regulate your digestion. Make sure you use lovely ripe blackberries, preferably picked fresh on a leisurely Sunday afternoon…
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 35 minutes
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 225g/8oz/scant 2 cups blackberries
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp apple juice
- 60g/2¼oz/½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
- 175g/6oz/2 cups gluten-free porridge oats
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp apple juice
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Put the apples and blackberries in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice. Drizzle over the honey and apple juice.
- Mix together the hazelnuts, oats, oil and apple juice, then spoon the mixture over the fruit and press down gently.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, then serve.
Post-detox – and I have a plan for keeping the weight off and making sure I carry on eating a nutrient-dense diet. The first and easiest thing is to continue having juices/smoothies for breakfast. I’ve always loved doing this but I’d slipped out of the routine. Firmly back into it now, though!
This recipe showcases two amazing ingredients – acai berry powder and chia seeds. Someone gave me some acai berry powder the other day so I tried it out in this smoothie and it gave the smoothie a beautifully rich, complex taste – as well as incredible amounts of nutrients, including phytochemicals, antioxidants and omega-3 and -6. Buy some today – you won’t regret it.
But how can I call this a smoothie, you’ll be wondering?… There’s no yogurt, banana or any of the other things you normally make a creamy smooth smoothie from. The answer is the tiny, nutrient-powerhouse that is the chia seed. Chia seeds are super-rich in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, potassium and iron, they have the highest amount of omega-3 in any plant-based ingredient and also contain excellent quantities of fibre and protein. What’s more, when chia seeds are mixed with liquid, they expand and form a coating of gel. This means that they can act as a bulking ingredient – and this is why you can get a smoothie consistency when used with a juice mix, and why many people swear by chia seeds for weight-loss as they feel fuller for longer. But it also means that they can be used as a substitute for eggs in baking – more of that to come…. So go for it with chia seeds – sprinkle them onto salads or stir-frys, thicken soups and stews with them and try them in this awesome smoothie.
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, citrus-free
Makes enough for 2 people
2 tbsp acai berry powder
2 tbsp mesquite meal, agarve syrup or honey
300g/10½oz mixed frozen berries
1l/35fl oz/4 cups apple juice
1 tbsp chia seeds
1. Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
Here we are in the midst of root veg season. Parsnips, swede, celeriac and, of course, the humble carrot – all impart deliciously sweet, earthy tastes to stews, casseroles, soups, gratins, and roasted veggie dishes. But you don’t have to always think of these veggies as only for savoury dishes. Forget dark winter nights in front of the fire with a roasted vegetable lasagne, and think of tea-times with crisp, clear skies and winter sunshine – perfect for pretty, colourful comfort food. Enter carrot cake…
Here’s an awesome gluten-free carrot cake with a dairy-free frosting – and the addition of pine nuts to add texture and taste.
Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 40–45 minutes Makes 1 cake (serves 10–12)
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free
- 150g/5½oz dairy-free margarine, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 125g/4½oz/¾ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 4 tbsp clear honey
- 100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup rice flour
- 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup gram flour
- 50g/1¾oz/¹⁄₃ cup maize flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 350g/12oz carrots, peeled and grated
- 100g/3½oz/⅔ cup pine nuts
- 25g/1oz dairy-free margarine
- 75g/2½oz dairy-free soya cream cheese
- 85g/3oz/½ cup fruit sugar
- Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and dry-fry until just starting to turn golden, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and leave to one side.
- To make the frosting, put the dairy-free margarine and soya cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat, using a whisk or hand-held electric mixer, until smooth. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and beat until light and fluffy. Put half of the pine nuts into the bowl of a mini-food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add to the frosting and mix in. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease a deep 20cm/8in cake tin with dairy-free margarine and line the base with baking parchment. Using an electric mixer, beat the dairy-free margarine and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until well mixed, then beat in the honey.
- Sift the flours, gluten-free baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum and cinnamon into the mixture and fold in, then fold in the carrot and the remaining pine nuts. Make sure the mixture is well mixed, but take care not to overmix it. Pour it into the tin.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then cover with baking parchment to prevent the cake from overbrowning. Bake for another 20–25 minutes until firm to the touch and cooked through and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, spread the frosting over the cake and serve.
Zoë is now 2 years old! We had a birthday party in the park at the weekend to celebrate with her friends, including Ivy pictured here – and it was wonderful! For the tea I cooked chicken nuggets, squash nuggets, sweet potato wedges, sausages and dips with vegetable sticks. And then I made Carrot and Beetroot Cupcakes from my book, The Best Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes. I still don’t give Zoe sugar generally and I thought these cupcakes would be good because they’re much lower in sugar than most cupcakes. I promised that I would post the recipe…
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 15–18 minutes makes 12
150g/5oz dairy-free margarine, softened
125g/4oz/¾ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
75g/2½oz/scant ½ cup rice flour
75g/2½oz/⅔ cup gram flour
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200g/7oz carrots, peeled and grated
100g/3½oz beetroots, peeled and grated
100g/3½oz soya yogurt
2 tbsp clear honey
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Arrange 12 paper cupcake cases in a bun tin.
- Using an electric whisk, beat the margarine and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until well mixed.
- Sift the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon into the mixture, then quickly fold it in, followed by the grated carrots and beetroots, using a metal spoon. Make sure the mixture is well blended, but take care not to overmix.
- Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then cover them with a sheet of non-stick baking parchment to prevent them from overbrowning and bake for a further 5–8 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Take the cupcakes out of the oven, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- When the cupcakes have cooled, prepare the topping. Using a whisk or electric blender, whisk together the yogurt and honey in a bowl until smooth. Spread a little of the topping over each one.
Whip up a delicious taste of summer with this dairy- and egg-free semifreddo. This is incredibly simple and quick to make – and looks very pretty. A classic semifreddo is usually made with eggs but I haven’t done so for this version. And I’ve used soya cream which gives the semifreddo a truly creamy taste and texture. One to enjoy throughout the summer!
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, nut-free, seed-free, egg-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 2 minutes cooking time 10 minutes plus 3-3½ hours freezing time serves 6
- 200g strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 120g runny honey
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 250ml soya cream
- 375g strawberries, hulled
- 3 tbsp xylitol or fruit sugar
- Place the strawberries, honey and vanilla extract in a heavy-based saucepan and cook gently over a low heat for 5-6 minutes until the strawberries have softened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, pour the soya cream into a medium-sized saucepan and heat gently for 3-4 minutes until just starting to boil. Mix the cornflour and 1 tbsp water together in a small bowl to form a smooth paste. Add to the cream and, using a whisk or a hand-held electric whisk, whisk for 2-3 minutes until the cream has thickened a little. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Line a 450g loaf tin with a large piece of cling film. Pour the strawberry mixture into the cream mixture and stir in gently until all the cream mixture has changed colour. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, ensuring that the strawberry pieces are evenly distributed on the bottom of the tin, and cover with the cling film. Place in the freezer for 3-3½ hours, or overnight, until set.
- To make the coulis, place the strawberries and xylitol or sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and cook gently over a low heat for 4-5 minutes. Push the mixture through a fine non-metallic sieve, discard the pulp and leave to cool.
- Before serving, remove the semifreddo from the freezer and leave to soften slightly at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Cut the semifreddo into slices and serve with the coulis.
Great times – asparagus is in season! I’ve used it here with a herb-crusted rack of lamb. This recipe looks impressive yet it’s extremely easy. The combination of honey and pine nuts with the herbs for the lamb give this dish a suggestion of sweetness amongst the savoury tastes. And the roasted asparagus add more sweet, tender tastes.
I’ve made this recipe using gluten-free polenta, instead of the traditional breadcrumbs to make a delicious crust – and it is well worth finding the quick-cook variety as this works the best. Instead of the usual Dijon mustard, I’ve used honey, both for the taste combination and because honey doesn’t contain any preservatives.
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, soya-free, egg-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 5 minutes cooking time 30–35 minutes serves 4
- 2 French-trimmed racks of lamb
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large handfuls chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 50g pine nuts
- 40g quick-cook polenta
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 500g asparagus, woody ends removed
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- boiled new potatoes, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Score the layer of fat on each lamb rack and sprinkle salt over them. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb racks and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, until browned all over.
- Put the herbs, garlic, pine nuts and polenta into a food processor and blend to form a paste. With the motor running, pour in 2 tbsp of the oil until well combined.
- Heat the honey in a small saucepan over a gentle heat until almost bubbling. When the lamb has browned, remove from the frying pan and place on a roasting tin, fat-side up. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of honey over the top of the fat and then cover with the herb mixture, pressing down well. Cook the lamb for 25-30 minutes, depending on how pink you like the meat.
- When the lamb has been cooking for 20 minutes, place the asparagus on a baking tray. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and roast for 10 minutes until tender.
- When the lamb is cooked, remove from the oven, cover with greaseproof paper, ensuring the ends of the paper are tucked under the tin, and leave to stand in a warm place for 5 minutes.
- Carve the lamb into cutlets, taking care not to dislodge the crust, and serve with the roasted asparagus and boiled new potatoes.