I was just thinking what an incredibly healthy meal Christmas dinner is with so many opportunities for vegetables, fruits and even herbs. Just what we need to boost the old immune system at this time of year and Turkey stuffing is no exception. Don’t worry too much about the ingredients. As long as you have GF sausage meat and onion and a few herbs the rest is up to you to add in your favourites.
Gluten Free stuffing is available in supermarkets with own brands and Mrs Crimble offering veg and meat versions. M&S are particularly clever at this as they have very conveniently made gluten free their default position on sausages, sausage meat and stuffing. Even their ready stuffed Turkeys have GF sausage meat. Ask your butcher to prepare you some GF sausages or sausage meat. Some butchers are already doing this so find out who is in your area.
If you prefer a veggy stuffing or like to add oatmeal (popular in Scotland) remember you can buy GF oatmeal in any supermarket in the Free From sections. Oats are already gluten free but buying a specific GF brand guarantees no cross contamination in the Food Production and packaging.
2 large organic onions chopped
5 or 6 celery stalks chopped
5 small cups oatmeal
Garlic and seasoning plus sage and thyme or as preferred
1. Soften onions and celery in butter.
2. Mix in oatmeal and seasoning with herbs of choice.
3. Add a little water to moisten
Sausage Meat Stuffing
2 or 3 celery stalks chopped finely
1 large onion chopped finely
1Ib (500g)GF Pork sausage meat or sausages skinned
3 or 4 oz GF Breadcrumbs ( throw any GF bread into food processor or break up by hand)
Seasoning plus herbs, sage and thyme or as preferred.
1 chopped desert apple
4 or 5 tbsp dried cranberries
100ml or4 fl oz GF chicken stock
2oz butter melted
Oven 200C/400F/Gas 6
1. Heat butter in frying pan and soften celery and onion for a few minutes.
2. Then add sausage meat. Cook until pork is thoroughly cooked through (about 10 min)
3. Pour into a dish to cool, then mix in remaining ingredients adjusting herbs and seasoning to taste and add further breadcrumbs or a handful of oatmeal if a bit too moist.
4. Stuff Turkey!
This mesmerising delight tastes every bit as delightful as it looks and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There are some dishes that almost make you cry with delight (or is that just me?!) and this is definitely one of them!
Even better, for all of us Gluten Free converts and even the Grain free advocates, this is a wonderful treat for the Christmas table. I made it as a birthday cake for my daughter and it would also make an awesome desert to impress and delight family and friends throughout the year!
So… what’s the secret? Well, firstly the cake mixture has just three ingredients, eggs, cocoa and sugar…no flour! The luxurious and mouth-watering inside is traditional chocolate mousse which makes the whole cake a slice of chocolate heaven. Oh…and in case it isn’t a tad obvious, I really REALLY love this cake!
Ingredients for cake:
6 organic eggs separated
5oz caster sugar
Ingredients for chocolate mousse:
6 organic eggs separated
12oz organic 70% cocoa solids cooking chocolate
A wee splash of brandy!
Pre-heat oven to 180F/350C/Gas 4
Grease and line with parchment a swiss roll tin or baking sheet 12 x 8 x 1 inch
1. We’ll start with the richest mousse on the planet! Firstly, separate 6 eggs into separate bowls.
2. Boil the kettle and half fill a pan with hot water. Then place your broken chocolate pieces in a bowl and melt slowly.
3. Meanwhile whizz up your egg whites until stiff and you can make fluffy peaks.
4. Remove your melted choccy from the heat and beat in the egg yolks and a splash of brandy (optional!)
5. Fold your egg whites into the mixture and place in the fridge to set.
6. Now for the cake mix… again separate 6 eggs. (you may be clucking after this recipe!)
7. Whizz up the whites until soft peaks.
8. Whizz up yolks until just thicken and then add sugar and thicken a bit more.
9. Sift the cocoa into your yolk/sugar mix and whisk together.
10. Fold in your fluffy egg whites with a metal spoon.
11. Pour cake mix into prepared tin and bake for 20-25 mins and cool on a rack
12. When cool, take your mousse from the fridge and using a palate knife smooth over the cake until covered. You will find you won’t need all of the mousse and can keep some back for a sneaky treat after your guests have gone!
13. Then (and this really does add a little bit of heaven along with some extra antioxidants!) dot some raspberries all over your cake. Yummy!
14. Now for the scary…I mean exciting bit! Carefully lift your cake onto a piece of parchment which has been liberally dusted with icing sugar. I placed a tea towel under my parchment to stop it from slipping. Make a gentle mark with your knife about 1 inch in at the end you are going to roll from. (You don’t have to mark the cake but it seems to help) Then without fear, lift your parchment and tea towel and roll cake into your chocolate log. Because you have already dusted your parchment with icing sugar, it will look lovely and Christmassy!
15. Transfer to a lovely Christmas plate.
16. Stand back and admire before demolishing!
This recipe is for a tried and tested and I have to say delicious gluten free Christmas pudding! Some recipes for GF Christmas puddings and cakes that I have followed before cannot be made much in advance of Christmas but these recipes can be. I am also delighted to announce that Christmas puddings and cakes are actually good for you. Think about it, they are densely packed with antioxidant rich fruits full of much needed vitamins and minerals. The Spices are also packed with health-boosting benefits. Cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar (sounds like s win-win to me!) and nutmeg aids digestion. Don’t worry about the fat, as long as it’s grass fed butter it’s good for us. Do not be tempted to make the terrible mistake I made for years and add toxic margarine thinking it was healthier. What a numpty! The flour is undoubtedly better gluten free and makes for a much gentler pudding all round, helping us to avoid the Christmas bloat and other problems I’m too polite to mention!
There is also cocoa in this recipe which is again rich in antioxidants and the flavonoids in cocoa help your body process nitric oxide, thus helping blood flow and improving blood pressure. As for the sugar, well that’s a sticky one…! But as it’s Pantomime season, the Good Fairy is here to tell you that there are ways around it! Firstly, you can always reduce the amount any recipe tells you to add. I have done this for years and it doesn’t affect taste. Secondly, remember that as you don’t eat sugar often (you don’t do you?!) do we really need to worry at Christmas time? Thirdly, enter stage left the wonderful coconut sugar! If you haven’t tried it yet, you are missing a health promoting treat. Coconut sugar has half the glycaemic index of table sugar and as it’s dark in colour fits perfectly with this kind of cooking. It contains a fibre called Inulin which is thought to slow down glucose absorption and numerous minerals including calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. It goes without saying, that we wouldn’t use it as part of our regular way to obtain such nutrients, but it’s great to know that it’s far superior as an option for Christmas cooking. It can be purchased from health food shops. If they haven’t heard of it, get them to check their catalogues and order it in. That’s what I did and now it’s selling like hot cakes!
Not as tricky as you think…it really is a case of chuck it together and mix!
1. Place all ingredients in list one in a bowl and mix. Cover and leave overnight or up to two days to allow the fruit to soak.
2. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C (325F/ Gas 3)
3.Lightly grease basins and line with parchment (We bought some wonderful Pudding Bowls and these make awesome gifts)
4.Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs (organic of course!) whisking between each one (messy otherwise!)
5. Gradually fold in the flour with a metal spoon
6. Whizz up some breadcrumbs (or break by hand) using gluten free bread bought from any shop and add to mixture.
7. Then add walnuts (brain food!), almonds (packed with calcium!) and that gorgeous fruit and juices and we have ourselves a glorious Christmas Pudding!
8. Transfer to pudding bowl and cover with parchment pleated in the middle (a 1” fold) to allow for rising. Tie with a string (or if you’re super posh like us a ribbon!)
9. Place pudding bowl in a roasting dish and pour in boiling water from the kettle up to half way up the bowl.
10. Place in the oven and bake for 2 hours. You WILL NEED to top up the boiling water so check every half hour and add more as needed. When cooked, leave to cool
11. To cook for eating, follow the same process with the water in a roasting dish but this time with a slightly higher oven temp (180/350) and only for 35 mins. (You could microwave the same as bought versions but that’s unhealthy and against my religion!)
12. Don’t forget to have the matches at the ready for the flaming ceremony. Transfer your pud to a suitable serving plate. Then pour over some brandy, strike with a match and watch in wonder at the fruits of your labours until the flames die down.
13. Add cream, brandy sauce or other favourite and ENJOY!
60g (2oz) apricots/dates/prunes finely chopped
200g (8oz) each of sultanas, currents, raisins
100g (4oz) glace cherries halved
50g (2oz) mixed peel chopped
Juice and zest of one lemon
200ml (7floz) dry cider
4 tbsp each brandy and rum
3tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 desert apple cored and grated
200g (8oz) unsalted butter (grass fed)
200g (8oz)dark muscavado or coconut sugar. (You can reduce this amount slightly)
3 eggs beaten
75g (3oz) Gluten free SR flour
150g (6oz) Gluten free breadcrumbs
50g (2oz) chopped walnuts
50g (2oz) Ground almonds
NOTES: This recipe makes 3 x 600ml or 1 pint puddings so you can make for friends and family. Therefore divide by 3 if you require only one.
The ingredients are flexible as long as you keep to the amounts, so for example if like me you don’t like cherries, replace 4oz of cherries with 4oz of something you do like or increase raisins etc.
Why on earth would you want to go gluten free at Christmas? Surely it’s next to impossible and would ruin everything! Speaking as someone who has been gluten free for years and whose entire family are now gluten free (all for different reasons) I can tell you that far from ruining the culinary delights that we associate with Christmas it actually enhances them. After all, who wants to force their way through a Christmas pud that feels like a lead weight on their digestive system? If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, please can I take the liberty of introducing you to your tummy’s new best friend, gluten free flour!
Gluten free flour is available in all supermarkets. Dove’s range of flours are the best known and M&S make their own. Indeed, I would like to point out that M&S have a superb range of gluten free foods from savoury to sweet and have just launched a new cob and brown loaf which actually taste like…bread! However, my favourite thing about M&S is that they have made gluten free their default position on products like sausages and sausage meat! Needless to say, if you’re looking for some chipolatas without the heaviness of regular ones or if you’d like a ready stuffed turkey crown, then they have the answer. Even their turkey gravy is GF! They even have a gluten free mincemeat as do Sainsbury’s and Robertson’s mincemeat classic is available in Asda and Tesco. You will also find that many butchers are making some GF sausages and other produce.
But why bother in the first place? Well, if you suffer from digestive problems like wind, flatulence, bloating, IBS, and you know that you also feel a bit tired and unwell after eating bread, cakes, biscuits and other foods made with flour, then you are probably one of an increasing number of people who have a problem with wheat and gluten. There is an interesting historical reason for this and it is that the gluten in wheat based products is not the same as the stuff which our grandparents had the pleasure of. The grain has been hybridized to increase its yield and as a result it contains considerably more gluten. This little known fact is partly behind the increasing numbers of health problems linked to wheat in the diet and I defy anyone not to feel better after eating gluten free alternatives.
There was a time when going gluten free would have been a nightmare but as a result of a growing number of people turning their back on gluten, the food industry have gone into overdrive and even restaurants are now offering gluten free menu’s! Fish & Chip shops are doing GF nights and you can still get pizza and pasta (if you want to pig out occasionally!) at the likes of Pizza Express, Pizza hut, Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian and Domino’s. You can get GF beer at Pizza Express and your waiter at Jamie’s Italian will give you a personal lecture on what’s available! I will be posting a list of GF cafe’s and restaurants in Aberdeen shortly.
Where it can get a little tricky is when you buy processed foods (who wants to buy processed foods?!) as virtually everything uses wheat as a thickener or filler, even some medications! However, it’s like everything else in life…easy when you know how! Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a number of tips and GF recipes to keep you right. Please take the opportunity to try the GF lifestyle even for a month to see how you get on. We’d love to hear how symptoms improve. Apart from the obvious digestive benefits, many report improved moods, energy levels and quality of sleep. And of course, you will find it easier to lose weight! Indeed, if you’re one of those people who feel they eat healthily but struggle with their weight, as long as you don’t choose too many GF replacement foods like bread and cakes you will lose weight very easily. There is evidence that if you retain foods that your body doesn’t like you will find it very difficult to lose weight. The trick here is to eat fresh, ideally organic whole foods like fruit and veg, meat and fish and cook them yourself! That way you know what’s in them and you won’t fall prey to the evils of hidden gluten in ready meals. If M&S can forego gluten in their sausages and use GF breadcrumbs in sausage meat and fish dishes other manufacturers can too but we can certainly do it at home .Just use corn flour in place of plain flour in sauces and gravies and if you think about it, there aren’t that many times you would have reason to add this troublesome and unnecessary grain to meals so where’s the problem?
As for cakes and pies and all that naughty but nice stuff that requires flour, a number of tried and tested recipes and tips will follow.
However, I had trout and vegetables for dinner tonight and at home it wouldn’t have entered my head to add flour at any stage in the cooking! In a restaurant situation they may have had the fish dusted in flour or even offered you chips that have been dusted in flour (Watch out for this unnecessary nonsense in bought chips, it’s a no brainer!) My advice is to eat at home and enjoy the wonders of fresh and whole foods without contamination and when you do go out, check beforehand that there are GF alternatives or ‘choose’ from the many larger restaurant chains that cater very well for your needs. My other tip is to always have a plan if you’re going to be out all day so that you don’t fall short and reach for a no no! You’ll regret it when you try on a new outfit and your tummy bloats its way into the next dress size! Oh…and maybe have some safe snacks in your bag!
Well, I hope that’s given you some food for thought and look forward to sharing my Christmas treats with you…..x
Every few months there is yet another press release and clinical trial which seek to discredit the supplement industry. I have to say, that it doesn’t take a great deal of knowledge to set up such a trial. All you need are some willing and unsuspecting victims, ideally with poorly absorbing guts and poor compliance and give them the poorest quality supplements in suboptimal dosing and without the co-factors necessary for efficacy and hey presto we have a supplement that doesn’t work. Well, there’s a surprise! Just as we question the integrity of most of what we read in the media, ‘Health’ and the P.R. surrounding it is at the mercy of those who can afford to pay. Instead, if you are serious about searching for truth, speak to a professional or academic who is not sponsored by a vested interest.
My advice when reading about any studies pertaining to Health is to dig deep and find out who sponsored them. This little piece of information is critical as the cleverly pre-determined conclusions say more about the intention of the study than they ever do about the supplement or lifestyle change they purport to evaluate. There is a growing movement globally to take the responsibility for health away from the Allopathic drug based approach which offers at best symptomatic relief to a more holistic, patient centred approach which tackles disease at its root.
In our information world, people are becoming more and more aware of the alternatives out there and the vast array of sensible, professional advice on getting to the root cause of disease and supporting the whole person. More than that, they are following such advice successfully and are doing so in their millions. As a result the Pharmaceutical companies are terrified and are spending millions with PR companies trying to discredit anything that is a threat to the dominance they have enjoyed for decades. Ironically, all they actually achieve is to get intelligent people talking and doing their own research thank you very much! In addition, discerning people know that the key to health is prevention and that means living life as nature intended. Daily walking, drinking plenty of water, deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness etc., don’t cost a penny and yet the cost to our health if we don’t follow such basics can be devastating. Nutritional advice is also important but it needs to come from a professional B.A.N.T. registered Nutritional Therapist. This is because our starting points, cooking ability, food intolerances, absorption ability, age, pre-existing health conditions and habits are all different. What works for one does not work for another and just as we are all different, any protocol we are given needs to reflect and honour that.
On the subject of supplements, these should only be necessary if there are specific nutrient deficiencies and or mal-absorption or under-nutrition due to pre-existing conditions. They should be given for a specified time period and purchased from a reputable source. Advice from a Nutritional Therapist which is based on taking a full (from birth) medical history together with a detailed analysis of current diet and medications, will direct you to products with proven safety and efficacy. They will also recommend lifestyle and nutritional changes to work in conjunction with any supplement programme and you will notice that supplements recommended have been designed to work with other specific co-factors and at specific doses. The dose is not necessarily the highest but it will be optimal for your condition and it will work with other nutrients reflecting the way it works in nature. This is a world away from picking up a cheap ineffective ‘pill’ in the supermarket or so called ‘health shops’. These products have poor design, suboptimal dosing and dodgy fillers and you may be in danger of overdosing on something your body doesn’t even need. A classic example of this is the overuse of Iron tablets which people grab in supermarkets feeling that they are a bit run down. In reality their Iron levels may already be high and overdosing can be dangerous. Their tiredness may be related to other issues and a Nutritional Therapist can direct you to some possible culprits and may advise blood testing from your G.P.
Who needs a Nutritional Therapist? EVERYONE! Most of us in this country have been exposed to the perils of the ‘Western Diet’ with its poor quality grains, dodgy fats, toxic sugar substitutes, highly sprayed fruits and vegetables, antibiotics in the food industry and highly processed nutrient depleted foods! It will come as no surprise that the legacy from this kind of lifestyle is slowly killing us with rates of all types of cancers on the increase and rates of disease based on Obesity in all age groups crippling the N.H.S. The cost of Diabetes alone is 10% of the N.H.S. budget and the crazy thing is that Type 2 Diabetes (which represents 90% of Diabetes) is a lifestyle disease!
You will have noticed the soaring number of people with food allergies and intolerances and a whole section in the supermarket devoted to ‘Free From’ foods. You may even feel you are one of them! Conditions such as asthma, eczema, Psoriasis. Irritable Bowel, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Menstrual problems, PMS, Mental Health Conditions, ADHD, Autism, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Migraine, Thyroid Disease, Adrenal Dysfunction, etc. etc., are also on the increase and all respond well to Nutritional Therapy.
If you are thinking about giving yourself an MOT this New Year and taking a serious, long look in the mirror, then I urge you to find a Registered Therapist today. If you are lucky enough to live in or near Edinburgh you could take advantage of an initial 2 hour Nutritional Consultation plus 1 hour follow up at our student clinics. This means £180 worth of advice for only £30! All Clinics are of course supervised and are a fabulous opportunity to dip your toes into Nutritional Waters and gain some life changing advice for you and your family. Even if you don’t have an array of health issues, you may be needing an MOT to boost energy levels, drop a little weight, to find out where your pre-menstrual spots and headaches are coming from or why you only move your bowels every 3 days! Oops! It’s surprising what you find out when you visit a therapist! Better to find out now and prevent the inevitability of unnecessary health conditions creeping into an unchecked lifestyle. Of course it’s also good to find out what we’re doing right and I can promise you no shortage of encouragement and enthusiasm for all the great things you are already doing. The road to health is a team effort and we are all in the same boat whether therapist or client as we try to make sense of the confusing information, poor labelling, and misinformation full of nothing more than mischievous profit centred self-interest!
So, if you’re confused, muddling along, frustrated with current health issues and desperate to make 2014 the year you turned it all around, make yourself an appointment with a Nutritional Therapist and put the YOU back into, well….you!
(For Further information re student clinics, contact me and I can arrange your appointment)
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