Valentines Inspired Free-from Sweets for Your Sweet

 What do you give to the free-from love in your life who can’t eat anything? 

Over the last 4 years we’ve covered a lot of free-from options for almost every occasion… but it only just occurred to me (this morning!) that we’ve never covered Valentines day. When I think of Valentines day inspired sweets, I usually think of anything chocolatey, cherry, strawberry or apple based. So, if you have someone (adult) and special in your life that can’t eat dairy, soy, gluten, egg or nuts (but is ok with coconut) then check out some of our ideas for a sweet (free-from) Valentines day:-)

Self-saucing chocolate pudding

You don’t need a fancy heart-shaped ramekin to make this self-saucing chocolate pudding (but it would look really cute in one and I just found some this morning in my local supermarket – see pic above:-). If you’d like to make this recipe, watch me (Lisa) make this recipe in the video here, and get the recipe in our Dessert Recipes book.

Homemade chocolate (milk chocolate or white chocolate – both free-from friendly)

Again, you don’t need cute little heart-shaped molds to make these chocolates (although I just found some today when I found the ramekins) see pic above:-). Any shaped small silicon mold will work, although I’ve used mini cupcake patty-pans before too. Making your own chocolate is surprisingly easy and quick (if you have the ingredients). You can see the video of Hayley making milk chocolate here (second recipe in the episode). The process for making the milk chocolate and the white chocolate is very similar. You can get the milk chocolate and the white chocolate recipes in our Kid’s Party Food book.

Short Breads

I used to love the buttery taste of shortbread, but when dairy went seriously off the menu, so did shortbread. It wasn’t until I created a butter alternative last year though, that I realised I could now make a free-from friendly shortbread. If you don’t have a heart-shaped cookie cutter, you could also use a scone cutter. They’re pretty easy to make, watch how to make them in the video here, and get the recipe in our Christmas Book.

 

We’ve also got a chocolate shortbread recipe in our Kid’s Party Food book .

 

Jam Tart

There are two ways you can make this jam tart. One is using the shortbread pastry e.g see this pic:

and the other is with our Basic Sweet Potato Pastry (you can get both recipes in our Dessert Recipes book).

(I made my own plum jam in the jam tart in this picture – I haven’t written that recipe up yet, so you can save some time by using a commercial jam that’s suitable for your diet. If you can’t find one, let me know, and I will write up my jam recipe. When it comes to jam, my personal favourites are black cherry, forest fruits (I think that’s the fantasy/ romance writer in me that loves the imagery of that;-) and plum.

Apple Pie

Historically apples were associated with Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love), so when it comes to baking for your sweetheart, I think it’s hard to go past a rustic homemade apple pie, made with love. We’ve got a simple apple pie recipe (with the Basic Sweet Potato Pastry) in our Dessert Recipes book.

 

Free-from friendly Cheesecake

If you’re after a ridiculously decadent, and fancier looking cake, then you might like to check out my new cheesecake recipe. This one is very very rich but delicious! There’s a new video coming up to show you how to make the cheesecake centre filling (it’ll be Episode 8 of Season 4), but you can see how to make the free-from biscuits for the base here, how to make the base and the topping here (Lisa’s cheesecake is the second recipe in the episode) and you can get the recipe for the filling in our Dessert Recipes book.

Anyway, hopefully this gives you some ideas and options. We’ve got a lot more dessert recipes that I haven’t listed in this post so to check them out, look at the pictures on each of the individual book pages.

In the ebooks we’ve included the links to the recipes that have accompanying videos too – so don’t worry that you’ll have to keep coming back to this post. It’s all in the books (with more details too).

Kids Party Food

Dessert Recipes

Christmas Recipes (2nd Edition)

Cinnamon & Cherry Cake with Cinnamon Syrup (Gluten, Dairy & Soy Free with Egg & Nut Free Options)

Ingredients

CAKE MIX

  • 1 cup Orgran® self-raising flour (or suitable alternative for your diet)
  • 1/3 cup rice malt syrup (or liquid sweetener suitable for your diet)
  • ¼ cup rice milk (suitable for your diet)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg (if you need an egg-free version, check out The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Christmas Recipes 2nd Edition)
  • 3 tablespoons safflower cooking oil
  • ½ cup canned, pitted cherries in juice, drained

OPTIONAL

  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped

*This mix makes one 5″ sponge, one small log cake, or 4 mini (single-serve) log cakes.

SYRUP TOPPING

  • ¼ cup rice malt syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method

PREPARING THE CAKE

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°
  2. Add all ingredients except optional ingredients to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and combined (approximately 4 minutes).
  3. Add the optional ingredients if suitable for your diet and mix briefly again.
  4. Pour mix into baking tray (see Top Tips).
  5. Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes if making a round cake or for 15 minutes if making mini single-serve logs cakes. (The cake is cooked when the skewer comes out clean). While the cake is cooking, prepare the syrup.
  6. Remove cake from tin and allow to stand on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes and then transfer cake to the serving plate.

PREPARING THE SYRUP

  1. Prepare syrup by mixing agave, coconut oil, and cinnamon in a jug. Once all ingredients are combined, pour it over the cake while the cake is still warm and serve.

 

 

Top Tips

It’s delicious served “plain” or you could add a dollop of whipped coconut cream, or coconut yoghurt (if suitable for your diet).

You could use any milk alternative that is suitable for your diet.

If you can’t tolerate nuts, don’t add them.

If you can’t tolerate egg, we have an egg-free version in The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Christmas Recipes (2nd Edition).

Making Vino Cotto with Mum & Dad

While all my Australian friends were having gingerbread and Christmas pudding, in our house we were having crostoli covered in a wine syrup (otherwise known as “vino cotto” – cooked wine). Although it was strictly a Christmas treat in our house,  I remember a few times when I was young, during winter when it hailed, my Dad would catch some of the hail on a plate and then drizzle a bit of the vino cotto over the top (apparently it’s what they did when he was a kid in Italy).

So a little while ago when Mum and Dad were replenishing their stocks (basically they make the vino cotto like they make pasta sauce: they do a huge batch every few years), I asked if Brenton, the kids and I could come and check out how it was made. Because although I’d made “alternative crostoli” before and substituted the vino cotto for molasses, I hadn’t ever made the “real thing”.

So if you’re curious to see how it’s done… check out the process below:-)

How to make vino cotto:

The process starts out a little like making wine; you need (ideally) wine grapes, and a grape press. Place the whole bunches of grapes, into the press; taking care to remove any leaves.

Press the grapes and collect the liquid, and strain out any of the skins and stems by passing it through a mesh.

At this point, if you’re making wine you’d leave things to ferment, but for making the vino cotto the way my family does, you’ll basically take the pressed grape juice and transfer it to a large saucepan.

Once the juice is in the pan, bring it up to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Every now and then as the juice heats up and boils again it’ll froth and rise. You’ll need to stir it all in (otherwise it’ll overflow and make a big sticky mess).

The liquid will be a purple colour when you start. As the liquid reduces, thickens, and becomes syrupy the colour will change to a dark brown colour (it’ll look a lot like molasses in colour and thickness when its done).

Once it’s done, pour it into clean glass jars (check out the method to sterilise glassware in our Tasty Toppings book if you’ve never done it before).

Some top tips:

My Dad says to (ideally) get the grape juice from the last press because its thickest and will take less time to cook, whereas the juice from the first press is more watery and will take a lot longer.

Mum says to keep an eye on it when it is cooking because once it starts to thicken and brown, if you’re not careful it can easily burn and then you’ll lose it all.

I asked about quantities, and they both said approximately 20 Litres of grape juice will yield about 4 Litres of vino cotto. (The average person is unlikely to be making such a large quantity, but basically it looks like you can expect about a 1:5 ratio, so from 1 litre, you’d get about 200ml (this will cover a lot of crostoli). If the vino cotto is too thick for dipping the crostoli in, you can thin it out by adding a little wine (if it suits your diet) or a bubbly drink such as carbonated water or lemonade (not exactly the healthiest, but, it’s a traditional Christmas dessert).

Time wise, it’ll all depend on how much you’re cooking down, but Mum and Dad said cooking the above volume takes approximately 3-4 hours. So if you give it a go, make sure you’ve got the time to stand around and keep an eye on it.

Use sweet red grapes. Ideally wine grapes.

Last few top tips…

Mum said she’s heard of people actually making it with wine (which would make sense since the Italian name for it translated is “cooked wine” and not “cooked grape juice”;-).

I asked if using grape juice from the shop would work. Mum and Dad had never tried it (though I am tempted! So I’ll report back here and update this post when I do). Our thoughts are that using wine will give you a sharper tasting result (e.g. it wont be as sweet as using the grape juice, so you may want to taste it and add a little sugar if needed), and using the grape juice from the shops may take a little longer (that is, if the juice has been watered down). Dad also said to be mindful of other additives in the juice (and commercial wine – he of course, makes his own).(While I’m not feeling inclined to produce another cooking show at this point in time, if I was going to, I’d follow mum and Dad around with a camera and film them making everything from scratch!!:-)

Check out my alternative crostoli recipe here (it’s gluten-free, egg-free, vegan friendly).

Making Alternative Crostoli (Gluten-free, Egg-free Crostoli)

Every family has their “It’s not Christmas without…” recipe, in our family that recipe is my Mum’s crostoli dipped in homemade wine syrup (otherwise known as vino cotto). But the original version is made with wheat flour, and some people even make them with egg. So a few years ago when my niece was diagnosed with coeliac disease I developed a gluten-free recipe. That original recipe had egg and,  I said at the time that one day I’d give an egg-free version a try. Here is the outcome of that experiment…

Christmas “Crostoli”

Ingredients

  • 250g Orgran® All-purpose gluten-free flour (due to my own food sensitivities, I haven’t tested this recipe with other gluten-free flours).
  • 2 ½ tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or refined liquid coconut oil (liquid coconut oil is an isolated coconut oil that doesn’t set at cold temperatures, see Top Tips)
  • ¼ -½ cup water
  • Olive oil for frying

Toppings

Method

  1. Measure flour out onto a flat surface (you’ll need a bit of room and its going to get very floury!). Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the sugar, and olive oil; mix together to make a dough.
  2. Add warm water (10-20ml at a time) until the dough is stretchy, but not sticky.

3. Roll the pastry dough out with a rolling pin to ~1cm thickness and cut in strips ~4cm wide. Use a pasta machine to roll the pastry through the thickest setting and then repeat through thinner settings until the final thickness is ~1-2 mm without tearing it. If you don’t have a pasta machine, use your rolling pin with a lot of flour and patience. My family makes the crostoli very thin, but I’ve seen them also prepared much thicker and biscuit-like.

4. Using a pastry cutter or a knife, cut the thinly rolled pastry into ribbons ~2-3 cm wide and 6-8cm long for a bow or holly-shaped crostoli and 10-12 cm long for wreath shapes. If making holly-shaped ones, just pinch the centres. For wreaths, pinch every 2 cm along and then cross over 1 pinch in each end to make a wreath. Although, because the gluten-free dough is not as flexible as the wheat-based dough, I’d recommend not cutting the strips too wide (so they don’t break when you pinch the centres) and not making wreaths as they may break when you’re cooking them.

4. In a frying pan, heat approximately 250-500ml olive oil. Don’t add the crostoli until the oil is hot otherwise they will become soggy and taste too oily (also the vino cotto or molasses won’t stick). The oil is hot enough when the pastry sizzles and floats; if the pastry sinks and looks sodden, it isn’t hot enough.

5. Once the oil is hot enough, place enough crostoli to cover the pan’s surface; as soon as they turn a golden colour turn them over (just be very careful of oil splashing; I use tongs) and remove when both sides are cooked (try not to overcook or allow the flour to burn because the taste of the burnt flour sediment permeates the cooking oil and detracts from the flavor of the pastry).

6. When the crostoli are removed from the heat, place them onto an airing rack for a few minutes and then transfer to a separate rack where they are directly on a paper towel to remove some of the oil. Change the paper towel to absorb the excess as needed. The crostoli may be served at this point by sprinkling vanilla sugar and some ground cinnamon atop.

DIPPING THEM IN VINO COTTO

  1. Although you can eat them “plain” with a little vanilla sugar, my favourite way to eat them is dipped in vino cotto (cooked wine). To do that, heat 250 ml of vino cotto in a frying pan on low (don’t let it burn or it will taste very bitter) and dip the crostoli for 5 seconds on each side when the syrup is runny.
  2. Transfer the dipped crostoli to a plate (or a glass container) and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. If you have enough to layer, sprinkle the ground cinnamon between the layers.

DIPPING THEM IN MOLASSES

  1. Since not everyone has access to my family’s special homemade vino cotto, a couple of years ago, I found that an alternative was to dip them in molasses. Yes, the taste is slightly different, but they still taste pleasant (although, considering how many memories are tied up in the vino cotto version for me, that will always be my favourite:-). Anyway, to coat the crostoli in molasses, heat 250 ml of molasses in a frying pan on low (as with the vino cotto, don’t let it burn or it will taste very bitter). Once heated up and runny, dip the crostoli for 5 seconds on each side in the syrup.
  2. Drain off the excess syrup and then transfer the crostoli to  a plate (or a glass container) and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. If you have enough to layer, sprinkle the ground cinnamon between the layers. I find the taste evolves and they tasted even more like mum’s traditional wine syrup the next day!

Top Tips

If the crostoli are too oily the vino cotto won’t “stick” so make sure you soak up what you can with paper towels first.

My mum makes her crostoli very thin, these wont be as thin as those because the dough isn’t as stretchy as the wheat-based dough. So I’d suggest using the thinnest setting on your pasta machine that you can without making the dough tear as you roll it through.

If you find the molasses too thick, you can thin it out with carbonated water  (use ¼ cup soda water to 1 cup of molasses).

You could make the crostoli with olive oil, or any liquid oil, suitable for cooking, that you like the flavour of. I made this batch with a new liquid coconut oil as an experiment, but my Mum’s original recipe contains olive oil and I’ve made them with olive oil previously.

You can find this crostoli recipe in The Little Book of Italian Recipes (available in January 2018).

If you’d like some more “traditional” Christmas Recipes (e.g. ginger bread, shortbread, Christmas pudding with custard and more, check out The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Christmas Recipes (2nd Edition)(available now).

Get Cooking: A List of Christmas Cookbooks for People Following Free-From Diets

Finding a free-from cookbook to suit your needs can be tricky…

There are so many different free-from diets nowadays, that although there seems to be a plethora of cookbooks, it can be hard to find a cookbook that will suit your needs.  If you have one of the less common food sensitivities or an uncommon combination of food sensitivities , or you follow a vegetarian, vegan or mostly plant-based diet (AND you have food sensitivities it can be harder still!

So I’ve put together a little round up of some allergy-friendly Christmas cookbooks which should pretty-much have your Christmas cooking needs covered. (And if you’re short of gift ideas for those free-from friends who fit the categories I just mentioned, these books could make a great stocking filler:-).

Loni’s Allergy-Free Christmas Menu
by Loni Wilson

Free-from options: Loni’s recipes are free from 11allergens: wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, tomato and seafood. Book 1 Cover Christmas
Number of recipes: 14 recipes (recipes to serve a delightful Christmas dinner for 10 people. Includes a full shopping list, a time planer and even recipes for leftovers.)
Type of recipes: Savoury & Sweet
Some of the recipes contain meat
Format: ebook, PDF.
Sample the book: See inside the book on Loni’s website.
More info and to get the book here: http://lonisallergyfree.com.au/shopnow/shop-now-e-books/

Easy Allergy-Free Christmas
by Sonya Lee

Free-from options: Top 8 Friendly, gluten-free.
Number of recipes: 50
Type of recipes: Savoury & Sweet
Some of the recipes contain meat
Format: ebook, PDF.
Sample of the book: See pictures of the recipes on Sonya’s website.
Find more info or get the book here: http://allergysave.com.au/ebooks/easy-allergy-free-christmas/

Mummy Made.IT A Healthy Christmas (2017 Edition)
by Lisa McInerney

Free-From options: Gluten & dairy-free, refined sugar free, paleo friendly.
Number of recipes: 70 recipes
Type of recipes: Sweets
Some of these recipes will contain egg.
Format: ebook PDF.
Sample of the book: See pictures of some of the recipes included over on Lisa’s website.
Find more info or get the book here:
http://mummymade.it/healthy-christmas-recipe-book

 

 

 

The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Christmas Recipes (2nd Edition)
by Lisa White et al.

Free-From options: Dairy & Meat free. Most of the recipes are gluten, egg, soy and nut free too. When a recipe contains one of these ingredients, there are alternatives listed and also often a version of the recipe without that ingredient too (e.g. we have 3 short bread recipes: 2 without nuts, and 1 with nuts. All 3 shortbread recipes are gluten, dairy, soy and egg free).
Number of recipes: 21 recipes. Also, options for less common sensitivities are included too e.g. ginger free ginger bread.
Type of recipes: Mostly sweets but there is a savoury veggie roast and rich red wine reduction included.
All recipes are vegetarian friendly, each recipe either has a vegan-friendly version or is vegan-friendly, so it’s a great option for people following plant-based diets.
Format: ebook available on Amazon Kindle, Kobo and ibooks.
Sample of the book: See pictures of some of the recipes included here. And use the free “look inside” feature or see a “sample a feature” on Amazon (click on the link to the correct Amazon store for you here).
Find more info or get the book here:
https://alternativechefkitchen.com/the-little-book-of-allergy-friendly-christmas-recipes-2nd-edition/

Do you have a free-from Christmas cookbook that I haven’t listed here? Let me know.

Also, our Vanilla Shortbread episode comes next week, and we’ll be back with Season 4 in 2018… so if you don’t want to miss out, make sure you join our mailing list by entering your name and email address below.

Happy cooking!

 

 

(There are no affiliate links in this post)

Creamy Dairy-free Potato salad

If I had to pick a favourite vegetable, it would be white potato. When it comes to spring, I start to make my dairy-free version of my sister’s potato salad. It’s really yummy, and a great little dish to take to BBQs .

Here’s what you need to make it:

  • 4-6 potatoes boiled with skins on (if organic)(each potato cut into roughly 6-8 pieces)
  • 1-2 spring onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1-2 tbs mayonnaise that suits your diet  (we’ve got some recipe ideas in our Mayonnaise episode if you don’t eat eggs)
  • 1 tsp honey whole grain mustard (use a brand that suits your diet)
  • 1 can chick peas

Optional

  • Kinda smoky bacon pieces (a little go a long way so just a tiny sprinkle)(this is a vegan bacon alternative)
  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs diced up (if you don’t eat eggs you can use tofu lightly fried in olive oil if soy suits your diet – or just omit it, it taste’s just as yummy without:-)
  • a small handful of rocket
  • red onion in place of spring onion works nicely too

Just mix it all together and eat!

So easy! I make up a big batch and enjoy the left overs the next day for lunch.

 

This recipe is from our Light Meals book. So if you’re looking for more salad and light meal inspiration, check it out here:

Enjoy!

Inspirational businesses: Interview with Lisa McInerney from Mummy Made It

A little while ago I had a chat with fellow cook book author Lisa McInerney from MummyMade.It

Cooking for a free-from person is hard enough, and it’s even harder when they’re fussy! (This goes for adults as well as children;-) So if you’re having trouble getting your kids (or yourself) to eat your veggies, then you’ll love some of Lisa’s ideas (she’s very creative!).

In this chat we talk about the types of veggies you can hide in desserts and the kinds of veggies that don’t work so well as well as a whole lot of other useful to know baking tips.

When I say creative, I really do mean creative. For example Lisa has had success with hiding spinach, and cauliflower and she’s been experimenting with hiding broccoli in desserts too. I’d love to hear which ideas you find the most intriguing. For me, I was pretty impressed with how she hid spinach in a popular dessert. (Yes. Spinach).

Anyway, check out the video here:

Has Lisa given you some ideas to try out in your next batch of muffins? Let us know below or over on Facebook or Instagram:-)

How to make a homemade dairy & soy-free margarine alternative that spreads and melts!

(Our dairy and soy free homemade butter/ margarine alternative)

Every now and then I get asked to create a recipe for someone and usually I relish the challenge. So last year when I was asked to create a margarine alternative, I liked the idea and it was one of those recipes on the “to create” list for awhile, but frankly I thought it was a bit beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, I had some basic ideas about the “bits” of the recipe I’d need to bring together, e.g.:

  • a saturated fat (like coconut oil – a saturated fat is one that’s solid at room temperature)
  • an oil like olive oil, safflower oil, flaxseed oil. (An oil is a fat that is a liquid at room temperature) basically combining the two would help make the margarine a soft solid. Also, coconut oil is one of those fats that melts when it gets warm, so adding the coconut oil to the mix and spreading it over a freshly baked scone (dairy, soy, gluten and egg free of course;-) would allow it to melt (Yuuuum!)
  • I would need something that would help hold all the ingredients in my butter alternative together
  • as well as something to contribute to a creamy / yellowy colour and an opaque appearance (without adding too much external flavour because margarine and butter are creamy but they don’t really have a strong flavour).

It was the “something that would hold the oils together” which had me a little stumped. Commercial margarine alternatives usually contain lecithin which is an emulsifier (basically it holds the different parts of recipes together).

While I’ve seen soy lecithin in stores, I wanted to avoid soy (mostly because it makes me itchy) and so that left option 2: sunflower lecithin. The only problem is that I’ve never seen sunflower lecithin in my local supermarket or my local health food store (and I’ve got two local health food stores which have a pretty good range of options). When creating recipes for Alternative Chef Kitchen and The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Recipes Series I really wanted to stick to ingredients that people could find relatively easily. So I found myself wondering about what I could use and essentially put the recipe in the “too hard for now” basket.

(my Butter Bean Butter garlic bread:-)

Anyway, a few months ago Glenys and I were troubleshooting a part of her Tasty Cheese recipe and as we were talking about options, I suggested trying butter beans. We thought it might work, so I went home and gave it a go and voila! It solved our cheese problem and as I tasted the butter bean blitzed with coconut oil, I knew I’d found the solution to the margarine problem too.

After the first experiment was a success, and I was trying different ways of making the margarine, I decided to try cashews and sunflower seeds (because blitzed cashews hold coconut oil and other liquids together really well in vegan cheesecakes and sunflower seeds are a great emulsifier in rice milk). So I soaked some cashews and sunflower seeds and what do you know, that worked too!

The last challenge was getting the flavour right, because although a pinch of turmeric will give you a yellow colour, you can’t add too much or you’ll be overpowered by the taste of turmeric (I like the flavour, but when I’m eating a scone and re-living childhood memories of butter melting I don’t especially want turmeric overpowering that experience;-). Anyway, I managed to figure that out too (with a pretty simple solution that you can find in the supermarket or health food store, and if you make some of our other recipes, you’ll probably already have on hand).

(Our gluten, dairy, soy and egg free scones with Butter Bean Butter – it melts! Sooo yummy!)

Part of the problem was solved by making sure I had the right oils e.g.

  • the right type of coconut oil (e.g. refined coconut oil as it doesn’t have a coconut taste) and
  • the right unsaturated oil (I’d suggest avoiding strong flavoured oils like extra virgin olive oil unless you love it – but even then that can be a bit overpowering;-)

These were the basic steps for the three butter/ margarine alternatives I created:

  • the Butter Bean Butter
  • the Cashew Margarine and the
  • Sunflower Seed Spread

I had to add in some extra tweaks for each recipe:  and you can find those tweaks and the recipe for each of the three butter alternatives in our ebook  The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Sandwich Fillers.

I should add that these recipes are really easy to make (no butter churners or elbow grease needed!;-) Though you’ll need either a food processor or really good stick blender.

I’m still having fun experimenting with this butter/ margarine but so far I can tell you that it’s not just great on scones (recipe for those above coming soon), and it’s also great on baked potato and garlic bread too:-)

Anyway, I’m off to experiment some more. If you’d like the recipes, just click here. As our book is available on all major online ebook retailers. If you’re dairy and soy free, and you’ve been missing butter, we’d love to hear what you think:-)

 

Creamy Dairy-free Green Salads

 

Spring always makes me think of Summer (yes I know there’s another 3 months to go, but I can’t help to feel optimistic and think of warmer times to come… and consequently lighter meals too).

Pre-dairy free day’s I used to love Greek salad and fetta. Last year I discovered a new vegan fetta which is made without dairy and soy (but it does contain nuts) and I was overjoyed.

Creamy green salad was back on the menu!

So here’s how I make my dairy-free creamy “Greek” salad.

  • 1-2 “sticks” of vegan fetta broken up into smaller pieces
  • cos lettuce (rinsed, and chopped)
  • 2 red tomatoes (diced)
  • a sprinkle with Italian herbs
  • Optional some olive oil and vinegar (although I find adding a little of the oil from the cheese jar provides the tang and oil and I don’t need to add more).
  • 1 small cucumber diced (my hubby doesn’t like cucumber so I often make it without, but if you like cucumber, add cucumber)
  • tiny pinch of salt

It’s pretty easy.

On the days I don’t have any vegan fetta in the fridge, I use wedges of avocado instead.

Here’s the fetta I use (I’m not an affiliate of the company by the way, I just found it while I was perusing the shelves at my local vegan store:-)(this is a pic I took last year, hence the expiry date:-)

If you’re  dairy free and missing cheese too I’ve done a series of posts on my favourite dairy free cheese alternatives which you might like to check out and we’ve also got some recipe ideas in our Lasagne episode and in our Season 3 Creamy dairy free potato bake episode.

If you’d like more green salad ideas, check out my Gluten and lemon free tabouli and also some of the recipes in our Ultimate free-from BBQ post here.

Enjoy!

Sauteed greens and beans

One of my favourite warm fry-ups is this very simple dish. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare (and the kids eat it too so that’s an added bonus;-). It’s great as the main part of the meal, and also works well as a side with roast veggies, steamed corn, and a piece of pizza. You can also toss some gluten -free pasta or noodles through it too.

Here’s what you need:

Sauteed beans and greens

  • 1 bunch of kale (washed de veined and then chopped)(If you don’t have kale, spinach or silverbeet works well too)
  • 2 red tomatos (chopped)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (grated or minced)
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 (400g) cans of white beans (rinsed and drained)(eg. Butter beans, cannellini, or our favourite: chickpeas)
  • tiny pinch of salt (we love porcini salt but use whichever salt you prefer).

Optional

  • Pasta (eg. gluten free pene or spirals)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then add the garlic and cook until it has turned a golden colour.
  2. Next add the chopped tomato and cook them down until they become a little soft and mushy and the juices begin to caramelise a bit.
  3. Next add the chopped kale (or other green) with the pinch of salt. Stir and then cover with a lid for a few minutes until the kale begins to wilt. (Stir every 30 seconds until the kale is ready).
  4. Add the white beans and stir through then cook until the white beans have heated through.
  5. If you’d like to add pasta, cook the pasta separately and then once it is ready add it when you add the beans so it can mix through and heat up with the rest of the veggies).

 

This is such a simple recipe, most week nights during winter when we don’t have a hot meal like Lasagne or a pastry-less pie to eat, we tend to cook something like this up or the Mushroom and lentil dish.

We’ve got even more main meal ideas and delicious warming sides for winter in our season 3 episodes (like creamy dairy, soy and nut free potato bake, yellow split pea dahl, black rice risotto and more, or you could check out this post with tips for easy healthy meal planning and more main meal recipes here.