Sun-Dried Tomato And Rosemary Spelt Bread.

New yeast-free bread recipe is here! According to my husband, this one is the best bread he ever tasted and it does taste good indeed, especially with a little cheese on it and a glass of good red wine. Yes, we have been eating a little bit of good quality cottage cheese for the past few weeks and last weekend I decided to buy a small piece of Jarlsberg. Not a good idea health wise – my nose didn’t like it at all – but it’s OK once in a blue moon I suppose…but I digress. Definitely try  and make this bread to feel for yourself how good it tastes.

One tip: buy the freshest possible rosemary and really make sure that you use only green leaves, picked off the stem and chopped to small pieces. One thing I’ve learned when baking with rosemary is that it does gives a really nice taste, but you have to make sure that you don’t accidentally use a bit of its stalk or the leaves with black spots, because this gives off bitter aftertaste.

Ingredients:

  • 500g stoneground wholegrain spelt flour plus a little extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp low sodium salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp black molasses diluted in 50ml or water (at room temperature).
  • 280-300ml still mineral water at room temperature
  • ~50ml oil from sun-dried tomatoes jar
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
  • about 3 tbsp fleshly chopped rosemary leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line the baking tray with non-stick baking paper. There’s no need to grease it.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, basil, soda and salt together until well mixed.
  3. Add molasses water and  mineral water and mix well until the dough forms, then gradually pour in the oil. Continue mixing with a wooden spoon or by hand, until the dough is moist and oily, but very pliable. You might find that you need a little less oil.
  4. Add sun-died tomatoes and rosemary and knead it in the dough. You should be able to knead the dough and shape it into a ball without it sticking to your fingers.
  5. Place the dough ball onto the baking tray and flatten it slightly to form a round dome shape. Cut a cross pattern on it with a sharp knife and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until turns brown and rise slightly.

Sugar Free Vegan Apricot Pie.

I love desserts made with fresh apricots! They become juicy when heated through and taste tart, yet sweet – very addicting! You don’t have to use sugar at all for this recipe, so I just used one spoon of Xylitol to sweeten the pastry. Try to buy sugar free, natural apricot jam. I love using St. Dalfour 100% natural fruit spreads, because they are made mostly of fruit and sweetened with grape juice. The pastry case is dairy free and reduced in wheat and gluten, so that it is still pliable, but not heavy to eat. You will need pie weights or dried beans to make pastry. Serves 4-6 people or 2 greedy ones 😉

For the pastry case:

  • 100ml pure coconut oil, melted if solid
  • 100g spelt flour
  • 150g brown rice flour
  • 50g coarse cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp xylitol
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g unsweetened soy yogurt

For the filling:

  • 100g sugar free apricot jam
  • 1 tsp rice flour or corn flour
  • 8-10 ripe apricots, stones and cut into quarters or eights (depending on their size)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  1. Make the pastry first. Combine coconut oil, flours and cornmeal, xylitol and salt in a bowl and rub the oil in with your hands until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add yogurt and mix well, until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  3. Turn the dough onto a work surface, covered in cling film. Press it, or roll slightly until it resembles a round, cover with another piece of clingfilm and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll our the dough between two cling film sheets to form a round that will fit your pastry case. Remove the top sheet carefully and invert the dough into the case. Press the dough firmly and evenly, remove the top cling film, and freeze for another 5-10 minutes or chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Cover the dough with a round of non-stick baking paper and fill with pie weights of dried beans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until pastry is set.
  6. Remove the paper and weights and bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry is slightly coloured.
  7. Stir apricot spread together with cornflour in a small bowl. Spread in pastry shell and arrange apricots on top. Sprinkle vanilla extract and cinnamon (if using) on top.
  8. Bake until apricots are soft and the filling is bubbling slightly – about 30 minutes. Let it cool before serving.

Salmon Croquettes.

These are very easy to make salmon cakes and they are perfect for someone on low budget too. I usually try to avoid tinned food, but a good quality wild tinned salmon tastes great and is quite healthy. This is “clean” meal suitable for someone trying to lose weight and gain lean muscle as it’s full of protein, calcium and good fats, but contains no hydrogenated fat and is very low GI. If you don’t mind bones, buy tinned salmon with soft bones for extra calcium.

You can substitute ground almonds for coarse polenta or even wholemeal breadcrumbs if you don’t mind the gluten.

I have used polenta for the cakes on the picture. They should be less yellow with almond meal.

Makes four large croquettes:

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 small onion or 1 shallot
  • 1 x 213g tin of salmon. I use John West or Tesco one.
  • 1 whole free range egg
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • Approx. 100g of ground almonds for coating
  • one  pinch of sea or rock salt and ground pepper to season.
  • Salad leaves and sweet chili sauce to serve with.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment.
  2. Steam the potato until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and place it in the bowl. Then drain and mash the salmon with a fork and add to onion.
  4. Once potatoes are ready, place them in the bowl with salmon and onion, add an egg, dill and salt and pepper and mix everything together. If you like smooth consistency, use food processor.
  5. Spread ground almonds on a separate plate. Take a handful of fish mixture and shape it with your hands into a ball. Flatten it and roll in ground almonds so it is evenly coated, then place on baking tray. Repeat until you use all the fish mixture. There should be 4 large or 6 medium croquettes.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden. Serve with salad and sweet chili sauce.

Homemade Energy Balls.

These are much healthier than energy snacks you buy in stores. They are perfect to chew on after cardio workout or if you need a little extra energy at work, but don’t want to buy a candy bar. Sugar is a good temporary energy and cognitive enhancer, so these date and nut balls provide enough glucose to fuel your brain and body without giving you a sugar spike. They are raw and delicious,  full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and surprisingly filling! You can make a bigger batch and freeze them. If you’d like to take them to work, just wrap them individually in grease proof paper and put in the fridge at work. These ball are also a very nice and comforting snack to have with tea or coffee.

Makes 10-12 balls:

  • 10-12 medium, pitted soft dates
  • 150g of raw pecan nuts or walnuts
  • 1 tbsp of raw cocoa powder
  • Desiccated coconut, to roll in
  1. Soak the dates in a little warm water for 10 minutes or so. They should be soft enough to blend into a paste.
  2. Drain the dates and put them in the food processor with nuts and cocoa powder and process until you’ll get one sticky mass. It should be pliable enough, but not sticking to the walls of food processor. It is is too sticky and watery – add more nuts.
  3. When ready, take a spoonful of mixture and roll into a ball with your hands. Repeat until you use all the “dough”.
  4. Roll each ball in coconut shreds and refrigerate until required.

Japanese Wasabi Dressing.

I love Asian cuisine and was influenced a lot by it when I was growing up in the far east of Russia. I always liked spicy food, especially Korean Kim-Chi made with cabbage or fern (yes, you can eat fern and it’s delicious!). And of course I love wasabi, but I find it a bit too strong to eat as it is. However, powdered wasabi is a wonderful ingredient to add to various sauces and dressings to bring on just enough bite.

This wasabi sauce looks green and gloppy, but you wouldn’t believe how good it tastes! It’s a perfect dressing for boring salad leaves, minus all the calories of conventional salad dressings. And what a wonderful way to eat more spinach! It is very light, zesty and not too spicy, but with enough bite for you to keep coming back to it with a slice of bread. It’s also very good with white fish or seafood, or as an alternative to traditional sushi dips. You can use rocket instead of spinach if you want more bitter taste. Ingredients below will be enough for a small bowl (200-250ml), which should be enough for four salads. You can make it thicker by adding more greens.

Serves 4

  • 50g washed spinach leaves
  • 50g (~10cm) cucumber, washed and sliced
  • 90ml/6tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • 75ml/5tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp raw/rock salt
  • 1tbsp wasabi paste or 1tbsp wasabi powder mixed with 1.5 tsp of water

Process all ingredients in the food processor or blender. Serve immediately or pour into a bowl, cover with cling film and chill until required.

 

Coconut Oil Is Healthy!

Just a quick post to share the article about health benefits of coconut oil. Many people tend to think that it is unhealthy because it is saturated fat, but it is in fact helps to lose weight and does not increase your cholesterol. Also, because of its high smoking point, it is one of the best and safest oils to cook with. Read more here.

Coconut oil is definitely one of my kitchen must haves. I always buy a huge jar of raw coconut oil from my local health food store, because I use it for everything which needs heating: baking, frying, roasting, etc. I also love coconut water and coconut shreds and they are healthy too.

Mmmm…now I fancy cold coconut water, like I’ve had in Florida…

 

Sweet Chili Sauce.

Homemade chili sauce is very simple to make and much healthier than those sauces from store. In this recipe, I use light agave nectar instead of sugar to bring the Glycemic Load down and it is still tastes just like the “real” thing. It really is difficult to do anything wrong here – it’s just too simple. After you’ll try this – you’ll think twice before buying the one from the supermarket.

Ingredients below yield about 100ml of sauce, which is enough for one dinner. If you like it, you can double or even triple the ingredients and keep the sauce in a sterilised, airtight bottle. It should be good for at least a week, provided it would last that long. It’s too good!

Ingredients:

  • 2 red chilies, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finally chopped or pressed
  • 10ml of fish sauce
  • 50 ml each: light agave nectar, brown rice vinegar, water
  • 1tsp rice flour or corn flour mixed with 1 tsp of water
  1. Place all of the ingredients apart of flour in a small saucepan and bring to the boil gently, stirring occasionally.
  2. Let it simmer on a very low heat for about 10 minutes. This should be enough time to infuse liquids with chili and garlic. If making this in advance, remove from heat and let it stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Return to medium heat, add flour and water mixture and bring to the boil stirring constantly.
  4. Reduce the heat to minimum and let it sit on low heat until thickens. This should take about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and serve when cooled down.

Hummus.

This has become my weekend staple: I bake my bread and make this hummus to have with wine. My husband and I love it, but I must warn you, this one is a bit bitter, because I add more Tahini paste. If you like lighter taste, add 2tbsp instead of 3. It’s easy to experiment with it, because classic ingredients are always the same, but you’ll get different taste according to quantity of each ingredient. Make sure to use light tahini paste, as the darker varieties are very bitter.

Both tahini and chickpeas are full of calcium, protein and fibre. Chickpeas are a good source of iron too and sesame seeds Tahini are made of contain omega 6 & 9 fats.

Makes one bowl:

  • 1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained.
  • 3tbsp light tahini paste
  • 3-4 garlic gloves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1tsp of salt
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil + a little water to thin if required.

Throw all ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You can add more oil or water if you want thinner consistency.

This is a basic hummus, which is good enough on its own, but you can experiment and add roasted peppers to it, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes, smoked paprika, coriander etc. Use your imagination!

 

Olive Oil Spelt Crackers.

These savoury crackers/biscuits are very easy to make and go well with any dip. Mild spicy flavour makes them very addictive. I didn’t manage to make a picture of the final product, because they were gone faster than I could pull my camera out. Well, not quite, but I did made a batch of them and thought that we will have some with dinner and then I’ll make a nice composition of what’s left of them for the picture. Alas, there were only crumbles left. It is normal for them to develop a “bubble” or two, because they are very thin. Some of them did came out flat, others were all bumpy.

For about 16-18 crackers you will need:

  • 250g wholegrain spelt flour plus rice flour or any other flour for dusting
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml water
  • 25ml olive oil plus a little extra for brushing
  • 1/2 tsp raw salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling.
  1. Mix together all ingredients except sea salt to form a soft dough, which you can roll. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Heat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 7 and line the tray with baking parchment, lightly dusted with flour.
  3. Turn to dough to a clean surface, dusted with flour. Roll out the dough and using a glass or a round shape cutter, cut out circles. Or any other shape you fancy. Arrange circles on the backing tray, collect the dough leftovers, roll it again and cut out circles. Repeat until you use all the dough. Don’t forget to dust the surface occasionally so the dough won’t stick to it.
  4. Brush the crackers with olive oil lightly, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 10 minutes or until crisp, but not brown.

 

Spicy Parsnip And Butternut Squash Soup.

This soup is probably best served during cold months of the year, but we have such a miserable summer here in UK, it feels like never ending autumn. So it was my excuse to eat something comfortable and warming on a rainy day. This soup is vegan, low fat and low GI so you will get all the taste and comfort, minus guilt. Serve it with cashew nuts on a side for a bit of protein. Allow about 1.30 cooking time for this soup as you will have to roast the squash and then cool the soup before liquidising it. If you want to make it faster, then peel the squash, cut into 2cm cubes and steam/boil until ready. The taste will be different though.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter.

  • 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 pinch (1/2 tsp) dried chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 600g parsnips (about 2-3 medium ones) peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash (200-300g) or bigger one if you want some baked squash for next day lunch.
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 600ml vegetable stock (I use vegan, low sodium bouillon) or 1 litre if you want it thinner.
  • Soy yogurt to serve.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C, wash the squash and quarter it. Remove the seeds, brush with a little cooking oil and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the fork goes through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  2. While the squash is baking, add 1-2tbsp of stock to  the pan and saute shallots for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the spices and parsnips, mix to coat, then add the rest of the stock. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes until parsnips are soft. Add more liquids if needed.
  4. Peel and cube the squash and add it to soup together with fresh coriander. Remove pan from the heat and let it cool.
  5. Poor the soup in batches into a food processor or using a hand blender, mix until smooth. Return to pan and reheat slightly.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls, spoon a bit of yogurt on top and serve with bread or cashew nuts if you wish.