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Chocolate, Date and Walnut Pudding. Gluten Free and Low Fat too!

9 Aug


Due to my coeliac disease I am always on the look out for interesting and easy puddings.  I am definitely no domestique goddess when it comes to baking so the simpler the better.  I recently came across this recipe which I played about with a bit to make it gluten-free. It also contains only 1.15g of saturated fat per portion. It is sooooooo yummy, especially with some low-fat custard.

You will need:

Low fat spread for greasing

1 tbsp/15g chopped walnuts

2 tbsp/25g chopped dates

1 egg separated, plus one egg white

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp castor sugar

3 tbsp Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (check it is gluten-free)

2 tbsp skimmed milk

low-fat custard to serve (optional)


1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees/350f and grease a 2 pint pudding basin. Cover the bottom of the pudding basin with a circle of grease-proof paper.

2.  Place chopped walnuts and dates into the basin

3.  Put egg yolk, vanilla and sugar into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of hot water. Whisk the mixture until it thickens.

4.  Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture and gently fold in. Add the milk and keep folding .

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then fold these gently into the mixture.

5.  Put the mixture into your greased pudding basin and bake for around 40 mins until well risen and pretty firm on top. Run a knife around the edge as soon as you take it out of the oven or it will stick to the bowl.  Transfer to a serving bowl. Best served straight out of the oven whilst lovely and warm but just as yummy cold. Top with some low-fat, gluten-free custard for a real indulgent treat!

If you have any other gluten-free recipes, I would love to hear them so please do share in the comments below.



Our favourite child-friendly baking recipe

22 Mar

I used to do a lot more baking with Lily before Thomas was born.  Once I had two children in the kitchen fighting over a bag of flour it just seemed to become a lot more stressful and the clean up operation afterwards took twice as long!

Now he is 3, I feel like we can get back into baking again and I’ve discovered the easiest thing to make with them is rock buns! They are so easy to make (even I can get this right) and it’s a real hands-on recipe for them which they love helping with.  You don’t need to get out an electric mixer or spend ages hand mixing and it takes very little time to do, meaning we can finish making them before they get bored

There is plenty of opportunity to get their hands in with the ingredients, feeling the different textures and seeing first hand how the ingredients change when they play with them. Finally, I love the fact that the dough can just be moulded in their hands and put onto the baking tray without all the sticky mess.

Here is the recipe we use for Rock Buns

100g (4 oz) butter or margarine

225g (8 oz) plain flour

10ml (2 level tsp) baking powder

2.5 ml (1/2 level tsp) ground mixed spice

100g (4 oz) Demerara sugar

100g (4 oz) mixed dried fruit

1 egg, beaten

about 5 ml (1 tsp) milk (optional)

Start off by greasing two baking sheets.  Rub the fat into the flour, baking powder and spice until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar and fruit. Make a well in the centre, pour in the egg and a little milk if needed, to give a stiff crumbly consistency.

Bind together loosely using a fork.

Use your hands to make rough heaps of mixture and place them on the greased baking sheet.

Bake in the oven at 200 degrees (400 f), gas mark 6 for 15 – 20 mins.

Delicious eaten warm and fresh or pop them into lunch boxes the next day.  These work really well with gluten-free flour by they way!

Lily and Thomas working on our latest batch of Rock Buns!

What recipes do your children enjoy making?

Seriously Good Gluten-Free Baking!

23 Nov

Some of you may have seen my earlier posts on my attempts to find out if I have finally grown out of Coeliac disease.

The Best Gluten-Free Cookbook!

The answer was a very disappointing NO.  So now after many years of following a kind of ‘half hearted’ gluten free diet I am well and truly, back on the wagon!  I now know for sure that my body still cannot tolerate gluten but I also know after much research and chats with my GP, that it is just not worth messing around with.

There are many symptoms of Coeliac disease, some I would describe as just annoying and certainly not harmful.  HOWEVER, not sticking to a gluten-free diet has been proven to increase the risk of certain illnesses such as Osteoporosis and Bowel Cancer so why take the risk?

So, I’m now on a mission to enjoy being gluten-free, rather than spending time wondering what I am missing.  Actually whilst waiting to be re-diagnosed I was told to eat LOTS of gluten for 6 weeks, which I did.  I have to say I think it is pretty over-rated.  One thing I am determined to do more of though, is to bake  gluten-free goodies myself.  I have never had much luck with this in the past but I have recently discovered ‘Seriously Good Gluten-Free Baking‘ by Phil Vickery and I can honestly say this is totally different from any other gluten-free recipe book I have tried!

This book gives you a variety of basic mixes to use.  You can prepare these mixes before hand and keep them in an airtight container.  Phil has obviously researched these mixes, and the recipes really well because I have yet to experience a recipe that has not come out fantastically!  In the past I have found gluten-free flour hard to cook with.  Pastry is crumbly and hard to work with, sponges do not rise and everything seems to go dry in 24 hours.  This is definitely not the case with these recipes.  Phil uses ingredients which I have not previously seen in my other books. This includes Xanthum Gum which improves the texture and shelf life of products and it also gives it a glutenous ‘stretch factor’.  Glycerine is added to sponges to keep them moist and all of the ingredients are really easy to find at the supermarket along with other cake making ingredients.

Initially I made the Toffee Chocolate Fudge Brownie Muffins and boy were they good!  They were so moist and delicious and I challenge anyone to tell the difference between these and muffins made with ‘normal’ flour.  I’ve also tried the Sage and Garlic Scones which are delicious served with butter on the top.  Last night we had some yummy pancakes made with a mix of corn and rice flour and my husband said there is no way you would know that they were gluten-free.

I’m really looking forward to trying out some more of these recipes with the help of my daughter.  In the past I have avoided doing much gluten-free baking with her help because it is difficult at the best of times.  These recipes really do work though – no more flat sponges and crumbly old quiches for me!

If you know someone who is gluten-free you should definitely give them this book for Christmas!  It will be the best recipe book they ever read!

Gluten-free eating take two.

22 Oct
Cooking gluten-free shortbread cookies.

Image via Wikipedia

For those of you who read my earlier post on  Coeliac disease the results are finally in.  Apparently I do still have confirmed Coeliac disease.   When you think that I have had this all my life it shouldn’t be such a disappointment – it’s not like I don’t know what I can and can’t eat.  The trouble is, after coming off my diet for 6 weeks (in order to be retested) I have now sampled all those yummy treats that I thought I would never try.  I am of course talking about all those really fattening things that don’t do you any good anyway.  Pasties, cakes, buns, pizza – did I mention cakes?

For the six weeks that I was eating ‘normal foods’ I felt like mealtimes were so much easier in our house,  I didn’t have to cook two different types of pasta and it was so much easier to get something out of the freezer that we could all eat if I was in a rush.  Now it seems to have gone back to where cooking is a chore rather than something that should be enjoyed.

People always ask me if I had any side effects from eating all that gluten.  Well, the honest answer is no, not really.  My tummy did get very bloated but not uncomfortably so.  I didn’t get any pain and no obvious um…  tummy problems at either end!  Part of me wondered if it was worth sticking to a gluten-free diet when I wasn’t having major symptoms but after speaking to my GP and reminding myself of the long-term implications I know that it is the best thing to do.

One of the other things I will miss about being able to eat gluten is baking with my daughter.  When I wasn’t following a gluten-free diet we were baking all the time because it was so much easier.  Have you ever tried making gluten-free pastry – what a nightmare!  Of course we do still do the odd bit of baking but it’s not the same when you can’t actually eat what you’ve made.

Does anyone else follow a gluten-free diet?  Perhaps we could share some tips and recipes?

For more information of Coeliac Disease, visit the Coeliac website

Could this be the start of something special?

26 Aug

You know the old saying ‘today is the first day of the rest of my life’, well today feels something like this.  For those of you who don’t know me, I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease at under a year old and was really quite poorly.  Ever since then I’ve been following a strict Gluten Free diet and avoiding all those yummy things that most people might take for granted.  For the last few years though I have been cheating slightly with my diet and have not felt any ill effects.  After consultation with a specialist it was agreed that I would eat a ‘normal diet’ for 4 – 6 weeks and then be tested again for Coeliac.

So for 37 years I’ve been eating bland and boring foods, totally lacking in fibre and spending a load of money on gluten free foods from supermarkets.  Anyone who has to follow a strict gluten or dairy free diet will know that these do not come cheap!

So today I’ve started the day with a bowl of healthy bran flakes which are so much more exciting than cornflakes!  Lily and I have made a batch of homemade blueberry muffins and I can’t wait to russle up some more culinary delights for lunch… I’m thinking maybe a nice quiche.

Fingers crossed that the next few weeks will be quite smooth sailing and then I can get re-tested.  I don’t think it is very common for someone to grow out of Coeliac disease once they have been diagnosed with it but I’m just hoping that as I had it from such a young age that it might be possible..(please, please, please)

Does anyone else have Coeliac disease?  Anyone else been on a gluten free diet for years and then been able to come off it?