Rana’s Artisan Bread 

  
Psst… See the loaf in the picture? Well I (Mrs usually bakes doorstops) baked it. I’ll get back to the beginning. I have the honour of becoming a brand representative for Ranas’ Artisan Bakery.  If you haven’t heard about them, they offer both baked goods and bread mixes to bake at home. The added bonus is that not only are these all gluten free, but free from the dairy, eggs, nuts and soya to. 

 So anyway I was sent a bread mix to play with- Bold Buckwheat. I’ve never been fantastic with bread making, and gluten free versions even less so, however I was optimistic as the packaging stated “just add water”. Easy enough I thought, although the funny porridge like texture of the dough I was left with did have me wondering, but never the less carry on I did ( the very clear instruction sheet helped a great deal) 

Next step is to leave the dough for 5 minutes, then stir for 1 minute before shaping your loaf on the grease proof paper provided ( a wet spatula helps). 

  
Once shaped, pop your loaf into the bag and seal, then leave to prove for an hour. Now I was worried, you can’t see through the bag and it didn’t seem to rise much , again back to the instructions which reassured me to not expectd too much of a rise, -panick averted. 
Then pop into the oven and bake for 90 minutes. It said best results with non fan oven. I’ve only got a fan oven so I thought I’d give it a go anyway. It was fine, but I’d be interested to hijack my mums aga and try in there to compare. 

  
You then have to left it Cool completely on a wire rack and bat off little (and big) hands until it does so but believe me it’s worth the wait. I was very impressed with the first attempt. It has a strong tang to it, which I loved ( even tiny tot went in for seconds) and toasted either for breakfast or as bruschetta is is delicious. I can even see it going well with our Christmas cheese board. 

 So my over all verdict is that I’m very impressed with this mix. My only slightly negative comment is the £3.99  Price tag, which does put them at the top end of gluten free artisan loaves but you do get what you pay for, it tastes lovely, has the best crust on any gluten free loaf I’ve tasted, and free from multiple allergens.

Keep reading as I’ve got a few recipes up my sleeves to incorporate these loaves. 

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Breakfast parfait Gluten and Dairy free 

Parfait what’s not to like right? Whether it’s the frozen dessert or layered up in a pot I think it’s great. I’ve become a fan of mason jars or jam jars and they are great for providing a vessel to transport your breakfast. And what could be better than one of these pots of joy?? 

  So this weekend we went berry picking,  we have a few farms that have pick your own around where we live, I love the scrabbling around through the strawberry plants and raspberry canes searching for the little red jewels that are hidden beneath the leaves. Mini me ( being the slightly ferrel child she is) loves it to- and it’s all nut free so it makes for a great hours entertainment. I do confess I had to buy a drink ( I felt guilty as Lily-Rose actually consumed her body weight of raspberries as we went round) 

Anyway I digress a bit. I’ve all these fresh berries and it’s hot ( yippee) so parfait pots made for a great, healthy breakfast. Perfect for summer. 

   

Ingredients 

  • 1 banana mashed with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • Yoghurt of your choice ( I used KoKo coconut dairy free ) 
  • Fruit of your choice 
  • Granola ( I used Delicious Alchemy Nutty Granola). Or my own recipe for a nut free version 

  

The method is easy, banana at the bottom, and then layer up however you fancy. Then dive in with a spoon and enjoy. 

Do you like parfait? What’s your favourite flavour combination? Let me know in the comments below. 

Fruity Berry Smoothie Bowl 

So smoothie bowls, what’s all the fuss you may ask? These lovely creations are so much more than something to make for pretty Instagram photos ( although I’m not denying they do make pretty Instagram photos). They are a great way to eat fruit/ vegetables if that’s not your thing, they are perfect for breakfast or as a satisfying sweet craving if you find yourself thinking about grabbing that Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer. 

  
They are also very easy to make ( just aim for a thicker version of your regular smoothie) and you can experiment to your hearts content on different flavour combinations and toppings. Things that work well are chia seeds, fruit, cacao nibs, desiccated coconut, coconut chips or coarsely chopped nuts. The main thing is to have fun and enjoy making and eating your healthy creations. 

I took my flavour inspiration from Wimbledon and berry season here in the UK, that and places like Aldi have cherries for 59p at the moment so it would be rude to not buy them right? 

So how to make a bowl- it’s more assembly work really, rather than cooking but here is the recipe: 

Ingredients 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1/2 cup strawberries 
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 6-8 cherries chopped 
  • 200 ml milk of your choice ( add more a bit at a time for your desired texture) 

Method

Blend all the ingredients together 

Pour into a bowl and then decorate however you fancy.  In this recipe I have used chia seeds, coconut and strawberries. 

Serve and enjoy. 

  

Have you tried a smoothie bowl yet? What are your favourite flavour combinations? 

Free From
Farmhouse

Easy Frozen Dessert- Go Bananas

I can’t call this a recipe, it’s so easy. I also cannot and wouldn’t claim this to be my own invention. The yonanas machine uses this concept, as does every clean eating or free from blogger at some point I’m sure, however this is a great hack you need to know using the humble banana to make icecream. 

  
See it even looks like the real thing, but is dairy free, gluten free, nut free, soya free, vegetarian and vegan. 

So to make a basic banana icecream you need : 

1 food processor

2-3 frozen bananas 

A splash of any milk of your choice. 

Method

  •  Begin by freezing you bananas ( cut into smaller pieces first) for at least 2 hours.
  • Put into the food processor ( Nutribullets don’t work well for this). Pulse to break the banana down. 
  • Then keep blending. It goes through a few stages but when the banana looks like bread crumbs add the milk and turn on again. 
  • The rest is magic, eventually the mixture becomes smooth and the texture of icecream.  
  • I like to freeze for a few hours to harden the mixture up, but you can serve it straight away and have a soft, creamy ice cream type dessert. 

  
So there you have it, that’s the basic method, and then experiment with different flavours. Choc chips go really well, as do blueberries or strawberries. 

Review- Marks and Spencer Coconut Pot 

Yes it’s another coconut product, and yes they are popping up everywhere, but I am fond of a bit of coconut and it is another dairy free option, so I thought I’d give this a try.  Marks and Spencer, like so many of the supermarkets have been expanding their free from ranges and this is part of the new range. 

  

  I like the design, it’s simple and easy to recognise. I also like the fact that, unlike a lot of M&S products, the sugar content is much lower and it isn’t soya based ( I don’t like it, and too much make me queazy). 

   

 

So the taste test, I like it. Now it’s not going to suit everyone’s palette, there is no sweetness to it at all, however you do get a delicate hint of coconut And no bitter aftertaste to it like some other brands. It’s creamy texture it lovely, and topped with honey and granola it makes a great breakfast. It’s also suitable for both vegetarian and vegan diets. 

The down side for me is the nut allergy warming, I can see my soap box waving to me but fear not I won’t get on it. And the cost £3.49 is fairly expensive, but are 2 servings per pot so roughly £1.25 a portion. 

  
Have you tried this, or any of the other new products? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Strawberry Blancmange (Cleanish) 

Fingers crossed the weather is finally getting warmer ( I’m almost over my near miss with the frost attacked potatoes) so I figured that lighter, healthier desserts would be a great option. Oh and I’ve got this new super cute lolly mould that I wanted to try.


Now I know blancmange is a bit old school, but this works well in moulds for the little ones or layered in glasses for a pretty grown up dessert. I’ve also used coconut milk so this version is dairy free, but feel free to sub for regular milk if you prefer. And this version is a lot cleaner fir you as it’s also refined sugar free. I’ve tried it with no sugar at all, but it’s not good- very bland and hard to swallow in fact.

Ingredients (makes 6 strawberries) 

  • 5 gelatine leaves soaked for 5 minutes to soften 
  • 600g strawberries 
  • 2tsp agave nectar add more to suit your taste. 
  • 1 pint milk of choice ( I use coconut)
  • 1 heaped tbs cornflour 

Method 

  • Start by soaking the gelatine leaves in water to soften them.
  • Blend the strawberries in your blender/ nutribullet and then pass through a fine sieve or muslin cloth to remove the pips
  • Mix the cornflour with 2tbs of the milk and the agave to form a paste.
  • In a pan begin heating the milk and add the cornflour paste.
  • Bring to simmering point and then simmer for a few minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly.  Stir the mixture constantly to prevent a lumpy mixture.
  • Add the gelatine leaves, and keep stirring until they have dissolved completely.
  • Take off the heat, let it cool a little and stir through about 150mls of the strawberry purée
  • Put into moulds, leave to cool to room temp, then put in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours ( the longer left the better).

You can use variations for this recipe. For a dairy version use 250mls milk and 250 mls cream. Almond milk also works well in this pudding.  If you are using a natural sweetner do keep tasting until you get the desired sweetness, and maple is too strong a taste in my opinion. I’m yet to experiment with coconut sugar in this but will keep you posted.

Leek and potato soup

Well it’s been a funny old week weather wise. Here in the shire we’ve had rain, snow, hail and wind inter spaced with token gestures of sunshine. So to amuse mini me, and have something warming for lunch we made a leek and potato soup. 

It’s comforting in cold weather, and not a drop of cream in sight ( feel free to add some if you prefer though). You can leave it chunky it or blend it smooth, which is my preference, it’s up to you. The main point is it’s super easy, and delicious to. 

  
Ingredients

  • 1 tbs coconut oil 
  • 1 onion chopped thinly 
  • 250 g potato 
  • 2 medium leeks 
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock 
  • Salt and pepper to season ( I use pink Himalayan salt) 

Method 

  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion. Fry for 3-4 minutes until they soften. 
  • Add the leeks and potato cook for a further 5 minutes. It’s better to cut the potato into small chunks so it cooks evenly and faster. 
  • Season and add the vegetable stock. You can make your own or use a stock cube with boiling water, either works. 
  • Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender. 
  • Blend with a hand blender or blender until smooth. 
  • Enjoy a bowl when you are ready. 

  

Turmeric Latte 

It’s that mid-afternoon slump, and unseasonably cold here in then leafy shires. I fancied a latte.  Today I’m having a latte with a difference – Turmeric. As in the South Asian grown spice (related to the ginger plant) widely used in Indian and Asian cooking. I’m not going mad bear with me. 

Now there has been many a claim about the miracles of this spice. Some of which I’d take with a pinch of salt as there isn’t enough hard evidence to credit or discredit it. So I’m not stating these, however this type of latte is better than your usual sugar laden offerings from high street coffee houses and I’ll stand by that ( oh and it’s tasty to). 

  
Ingredients

  • 250ml of plant based milk, I used coconut but almond or cashew work well to. 
  • 1tsp Turmeric
  • 1tsp agave nectar ( or less if you prefer) 
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon to serve. 

Method

  • Place all ingredients into a milk pan, and heat until steaming.
  • I mix with a milk frother 
  • Serve in mug and sprinkle with cinnamon to serve. 

Sit and relax with your mid afternoon drink. Enjoy.

Review- Mrs O’s Fuss Free Cake Mixes 

If you have never heard of Mrs O’s Fuss Free mixes then you are in for a treat. A small company producing easy baking mixes that are all Egg, Dairy, and nut free, and now gluten free. This made my ears prick up as nut free in a mix is hard to find. You can have a look for yourself  Here at the different goodies you can buy.

  
I was kindly sent a gluten free cake mix to experiment with and see what we all thought. Now I will confess I was skeptical ( I am by nature anyway) of an egg, dairy, and gluten free mix being any good in terms of rise, taste and texture, but I never form judgement until I’ve tried anything.

The mix is very easy to use, add to the mix :

100g melted dairy free spread ( I used butter in one trial and it works just as well)

200 ml rice milk

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp white wine vinegar.

Mix it up and hey presto your cake batter is ready ( it looks and feels like an egg containing mixture as well)


I made cupcakes and added raisins, little one loves them and was demanding them ( Waitroses’ are nut free). These take a shorter cooking time, roughly 20-25 minutes compared to 45-50 minute for a larger cake.

Now I have to say I was impressed with the rise in the cakes both small and large, and the texture was light and fluffy. Incidentally they keep better as well, still being soft and moist the day after, unlike some gluten free cakes can do.

 

I trialed the Victoria sponge on family, only one other is coeliac, and the verdict was the cake was tasty, moist and that the rise was impressive ( add puns later). I have to say I agree, the addition of the vanilla means you have a lovely flavoured sponge, with no artificial after taste left in your mouth.  I used cream as a filling with jam, I think buttercream would make the whole thing too sweet, but that is just me. It works well with other flavours to, I think a coffee cake will be next on the list.

It was great that mini me could also join in and no worry of her swelling up which is a bonus, and aside from the cooking time the whole thing took all of 10 minutes to put together which is great.

IMG_0963

The only slight disadvantage I could see some people having issue with is the cost of the product which ranges from £5.50 to £8.50, but for me peace of mind and convienience if you are in a rush are huge advantages, and well worth a try – I’m looking forward to the gluten free brownie mix when it’s available.

Disclaimer- I was sent this product to trial, but all views are my own, honest opinion.

Review Marks and Spencer Dairy Free yogurts 

  
  As you may, or may not, of heard M&S are bringing out a whole new range of fresh free from products.  These are starting to filter into my local store (Stratford Maybird if you were wondering) . I saw these and at £1 for the two thought I’d try them. 

 Nth only thing I’d say is although the packaging is fresh, colourful and eye catching the information on it is slightly misleading. The “Eat Well” logo is proudly on display and only 80 kcal etc etc. This is all well and good, but if you read the nutritional information on the back each pot actually contains 11g of sugar so not quite as healthy as you are lead to believe. 

Enough of me being picky though, I know the crux of this post is how does it taste?  Out of the mouths of babes, my little one took one mouthful and loudly stated “mummy it’s nasty” so not a hit with her. My thoughts are its slightly insipid. It looks and smells rather inviting, and the fruit layer was quite pleasing to the taste buds ( all that sugar I guess) the soya does leave a funny aftertaste in your mouth which I didn’t like, but if you like soya then give it a try. 

  
  I prefer the coconut based dairy free yoghurts such as Koko or Coyo, but these are reasonable and offers another dairy free choice- although not for my household I’m afraid. 

Have you tried these yet? Let me know what you think.