Pan fried fish, coconut rice, seared mango, and stir fried green beans

Pan fried fish, coconut rice, seared mango, and stir fried green beans

Pan fried fish, coconut rice, seared mango, and stir fried green beans

This is the best coconut rice I’ve made and it turns out the secret was unrefined raw coconut sugar. I cooked basmati rice (in the rice cooker) with 200ml coconut milk + water, approx. 1T coconut sugar, and salt. This gave the rice a beautiful light brown colour and a lightly sweet coconut taste that paired well with the chilli.

I stir fried the fresh green runner beans in rice bran oil, garlic, and chilli. The slices of firm mango were next (picking up the rest of the chilli), followed by the ruby (fish) fillets.

Miss 2 loved this dish so much that she asked for more rice and ate it all up! An easy and tasty gluten free dish!

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, nut free.

Highlights for May (collected recipes & posts)

ALLERGY FRIENDLY COOKING

BAKING & DESSERTS

MEALS

PARENTING

PLAY

HEALTH

Homemade Mayonnaise!

The great thing about homemade mayonnaise is that it’s quick to whip up and you can alter it to suit your tastes. You can make a mild and creamy hollandaise sauce type mayo to dip fries in, a mustard & tarragon mayo to go with chicken, or add dill / parsely to serve with fish.

It’s also a blessing if your family has food allergies because you have control of all the ingredients that go in. A soy allergy that doesn’t allow for vegetable oil, emulsifiers, or xanthan gum makes finding a safe store-bought mayo difficult! Miss 2 was still sensitive to the synthetic antioxidants, sulphites, and preservatives in the sauces that we could try. We’ve now moved to an RPAH Failsafe Diet exclusion of additives which means making sauces from scratch.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup of neutral oil
    • i.e. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1/2 cup rice bran oil, or 1/2 cup olive oil + 1/2 cup coconut oil, or 1 cup avocado oil.
  • 2 – 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or 1/4 tsp citric acid)
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1 tsp dried garlic granules, or 1/2 tsp mustard powder, or 1 tsp fresh herbs.  Add a little liquid honey or maple syrup if you prefer your mayo sweet.

Allergies: gluten free, soy free, dairy free, nut free.

For an egg free mayonnaise, check out this vegan mayonnaise recipe on Jane’s Healthy Kitchen. Her secret is coconut oil (but this will only work in cool weather and cool dishes). Another option is an aquafaba vegan mayonaise.

Tip: Eggs should be room temperature; you can put them in lukewarm water for a few minutes to warm. It will work if they are straight from the fridge but may take longer to whip up and thicken.

Tip: Lots of recipes use Dijonnaise mustard; these are packed with sulphites and preservatives so are not suitable for sensitive guts and or children. I recommend dry mustard powder.

Tip: If using olive oil choose one with a very light flavour or mix it with another oil – it risks overpowering the flavour otherwise.

Directions

  • If using a stick blender: Place all ingredients except the oil in a narrow jug or jar. Place a wand mixer in the jar, then add the oil. Whizz together, lifting the wand from the bottom of the jar to incorporate the oil. It will thicken to create a creamy mayonnaise.
  • If using a (smoothie) blender): Place all ingredients in the blender (oil last) and whizz until creamy. Note: If you have large eggs, you can try just using one and add the second if the mayo isn’t thickening.

Tip: Once the mayo is mixed up, taste and add further seasonings to taste. Remember, it’s easy to slowly add more but tricky to balance if there’s too much!

Pour mayonnaise into a sterilized glass jar; it will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Choko Pikelets (apple pie style!)

Choko pikekets (apple pie style!)

Choko pikekets (apple pie style!)

I posted earlier about why choko are awesome and such a versatile vegetable; as well as being nutritious they are also cheap, easy to grow,  and low in natural food chemicals (amines, salicylates, glutamates) which makes it suitable for sensitive guts, and those following a RPAH Failsafe diet (often useful for allergy sufferers).

It easily takes the place of fruits like apple or pear which means it’s a great way of adding a vegetable into your baking! Miss 2 loved these apple pie style Choko Pikelets and kept asking for more!

I’ve kept the spices mild but you can definitely play around with them to suit your palate! Try increasing the cinnamon to 1 tsp, or adding 1/2 tsp ground ginger, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of ground cloves, or a combination of these!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup + 1 Tbsp brown sugar, or, 1/4 cup white sugar.
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh choko
    • Just like grating potatoes, a lot of water comes out. Pat the grated choko dry before use.
  • 3/4 cup milk (can use almond or rice milk)

Note: Other names for choko include – chayote, sayote, labu siam, seemai kathrikai, Buddha’s Hand Melon, lóng xü.cài, ishkus, इस्कुस, স্কোয়াশ, Bangalore brinjal, chou chou, pipinola.

Tip: Although the recipe is gluten based, you can easily use Nana’s Yummy Gluten Free Pikelets and just add the choko + spices.

Allergies: gluten free*, dairy free*, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Whisk the egg and 1/2 cup milk until frothy.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the choko. Then mix in the frothy egg + milk mixture.
  4. Slowly mix in the additional 1/4 cup milk until you have a smooth consistency.
  5. Allow mixture to stand for a few minutes.
  6. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Wait until it is hot and then brush with butter or allergy-free spread (like Nuttelex).
  7. Drop level tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook for half a minute or until bubbles appear on the surface.
  8. Turn over and cook other side for 1 minute until golden.
  9. Allow to cool and serve with butter / spread and honey or jam.

Featuring a great Autumn vegetable: What’s a choko (chayote)?

I grew up thinking chokos were some kind of wild New Zealand native – simply because I have fond memories of going for long winter walks with my Mum in the local park. We’d gather chokos from wild vines, pick up pine cones to paint, and kick oak leaves. In retrospect, that park didn’t have much in the way of NZ natives!

Note: In the wild, make sure that you don’t confuse chokos with Moth Plant – a noxious weed that grows in New Zealand and definitely should not be eaten. Check out this online information pamphlet from Auckland Council.

What is a choko?

The choko (or cheyote) actually originates from Mesomerica (i.e. Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras) but has been established in Australia and New Zealand for decades. It’s a member of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, which means it’s related to foods like cucumber, squash, and melon. Personally, I think it tastes a bit like a cross between a zucchini and cucumber but it’s commonly referred to as a pear squash. It’s a useful vegetable to try as it has loads of Vitamin C, amino acids, and fibre. It’s also low in natural food chemicals (amines, salicylates, and glutamates) which makes it suitable for sensitive guts, and those following a RPAH Failsafe diet (often useful for allergy sufferers).

Tip: This is a great food if you’re pregnant! It naturally contains folate, as well as many other vitamins; is easy to mix into meals, and the fibre can help with pesky constipation!

Note: Other names for choko include – chayote, sayote, labu siam, seemai kathrikai, Buddha’s Hand Melon, lóng xü.cài, ishkus, इस्कुस, স্কোয়াশ, Bangalore brinjal, chou chou, pipinola.

How do I cook choko?

It’s a really versatile vegetable! Miss 2 loves it in apple pie style Choko Pikelets.

  • It makes a great (neutral) filler in jams and chutneys.
  • It can be stewed and made into fruit crumble.
  • Boil or steam then serve with butter and salt.
  • Slice thinly into noodles, cook, and serve with ragu for a paleo meal.
  • Bake with roast vegetables.
  • Add to curries, stews, and soups.
  • Bread it and fry.
  • Bake it with a cheese sauce.
  • Thinly grate it and mix with pork to make Chinese dumplings, sausage rolls, or meatballs.
  • Young leaves can be used in salads and stir fries.
  • The root or tubers can be used just like a potato!

Tip: Peel the chokos under a stream of running water or wear gloves as the older chokos tend to have a sticky sap just under the skin which can irritate some hands. The smaller ones don’t seem to have this problem and you can cook them and eat them with the skin on.

Tip: Remove and discard the pithy core.

Note: Although I call this a winter vegetable, in New Zealand it tends to be available April-June. If your local supermarket doesn’t stock it, try Fruit & Vegetable stores or the local Chinese supermarket. It actually prefers warm climates but hot nights slow it flowering; in parts of Australia it’s available year round.

How can I grow choko?

I asked around a few garden stores and none of them carry it. Never fear, the easiest way to grow your own choko is to simply buy a healthy, fresh, firm and green choko while they’re in season. Leave it in a dark, well ventilated, space until it sprouts. Once the sprouts are about 7cm long, take it outside and plant it in a sunny spot. They are a climbing vine so against a fence or netting is ideal. You will need to wait until frosts have finished (so in some climates, plant in Spring).

They grow prolifically once they’re established so you’ll probably only need one vine per household.  Apparently they make great chicken feed so you may want a spare vine for the chooks!

In New Zealand, where they can often only be purchased until June, you will need to nurse these inside until late Spring. They will take a while to sprout anyway and then you can keep them in a pot on the windowsill until they’re a bit bigger and hardier. They will start to flower in the summer and can be harvested in Autumn.

For more information on growing them, check out this great post from Lady Rain.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cookies

Gluten Free Vanilla Cookies

Gluten Free Vanilla Cookies are the base recipe for making Pina Colada Cookies!

These Gluten Free vanilla biscuits (UK) / cookies (USA) are a light crunchy cookie that I don’t think most people realize are gluten free when eating them! They’re also the base recipe for variations, like the GF Pina Colada cookie recipe that will be publishing soon!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp superfine white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup Healtheries Gluten Free Bread Mix
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter or allergy-free spread (i.e. Nuttelex)
  • 1 egg (whisked) or egg replacement.
  • Vanilla Essence

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free*, egg free*, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Cream the ‘butter’ and sugar.
  2. Mix in the egg and several drops of vanilla essence.
  3. Mix in the rice flour, GF bread mix, baking powder.
  4. Spoon out onto lightly oiled baking tray and flatten slightly.
  5. Bake at 180’C for approx. 15-20 mins (or until golden brown).

Makes approximately 12 cookies.

 

Note: There are several reasons that I choose to use the Healtheries Gluten Free Bread Mix instead of the Healtheries Gluten Free Baking Mix.

I prefer to use guar gum in my recipes and avoid xanthan gum; the latter is artificially derived and is often grown on an allergenic base (such as corn, soy, or wheat).

I like to control the rising agents in my baking so that I can tailor them to each recipe.

Frugality! The Bread Mix can be used to make both Gluten Free Bread and Gluten Free Baking whereas their Baking Mix can only be used for baking.

Why should I be worried about natural colour annatto?

Annatto Seeds

Annatto Seeds

I was surprised recently to discover that a popular brand of frozen fries uses food colouring – natural colour annatto. There’s something wonderfully reassuring about ‘natural’ when it’s marketing products despite how ambiguous it is; nature is full of things, from lions to mushrooms, that will kill us with ease.

What is annatto?

Pungent red seeds from the annatto tree are used to provide a golden colour and tangy flavour in many processed foods; it can also be used as a colouring agent in cosmetics. This colouring is often referred to as natural colour (annatto), annatto extract, or colour E160b.

They are also used in Mexican, Latin, and Carribbean cooking as a culinary spice, to make achiote oil, and to make adobe paste.

What are its benefits?

The seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years in Caribbean and Latin American cultures. It’s believed that they can have a number of benefits including helping digestion, eye health, bone health, and aging.

Why should I be concerned?

Annatto as a colouring agent can have just as much of an adverse effect on children as artificial food colours. As a parent you might keep a watchful eye to see if artificial red colouring will make your child hyperactive but most of us won’t be aware that a natural colour, that can be found in everything from butter spreads to fries, can cause just as strong an adverse reaction (across the spectrum from neurotypical to autistic). It can also be tricky to become aware of the link between food and behaviour because there can be a time delay, of a few hours to next day, before a normally bright, bubbly, sociable child becomes a  screaming, angry, yelling, defiant and hysterical one. It’s particularly useful to be aware of if you have an atopic family where food sensitivities, allergies, and eczema are a issue.

Families with children sensitive to annatto have reported side effects such as:

  • Irritability
  • Grumpiness
  • Headaches
  • Headbanging
  • Hyperactivity
  • Oppositional behaviour
  • Extreme mood swings (that are out of character)
  • Irritable bowel symptoms
  • Hives / Rashes
  • Asthma
  • Severe allergic reactions

 

Where can I find more information?

I started looking into annatto while reading Sue Dengate’s Fed Up; the most useful online source that I found was a Fact Sheet from the Food Intolerance Network which includes references to scientific studies and personal experiences from a number of affected families.

Crispy Asian Pork Belly

Crispy Asian Pork Belly

Crispy Asian Pork Belly

One of the treats I miss giving up is the crispy salted pork belly at the hole-in-the-wall cookery inside the Chinese supermarket. Like all Asian takeaways, it’s not safe since the soy allergy was diagnosed. Instead. I made my own and it is both delicious and free of all major allergens.

Ingredients

Liquid marinade

  • 3/4c Chinese cooking rice wine
  • 1T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2T coconut amino acids
  • 1T lemon juice (or 1 lime)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves (sliced)
  • 1 sliced red chilli
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml water

Everything else

  • 1-2 brown onions (cut into wedges)
  • Pork Belly
  • Neutral Oil (i.e. Rice Bran Oil)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water (added at intervals during cooking)

Allergies: gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, nut free

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220’C.
  2. In a big roasting pan, mix up the liquid marinade.
  3. Cut the onion(s) into wedges and place in a line in the pan. There needs to be enough onion to cut as a support for the pork belly. It will help to moisten the meat and also act as a structural support to keep the crackling raised up out of the jus.
  4. Prepare the pork belly. You will need a very sharp knife in order to score it; I like doing a diamond pattern. This is important not only for helping it to cook but also for cutting it up later in order to serve! Dry the pork belly, apply a little oil over the top, then rub in salt. Crack some pepper over the top as well (if desired).
  5. Place the pork belly onto the foundation of onions (with the fat on top).
  6. Cook at 220’c for 30-40 minutes or until the rind has crackled.
  7. Add 1/2c water to the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Reduce oven heat to 160’C and cook for another hour.
  8. Add 1/2c water to the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking at 160’C for approximately another 60 minutes or until the pork is very tender.
  9. Reserve some of the juices to drizzle over the pork when serving. Consider serving with Asian greens and steamed rice. (I chopped up bitter leafy Asian greens and lightly braised them in the marinade before serving as a side dish with the onion, chilli, garlic etc.).

 

 

Superhero Smoothie (allergy free)

Superhero smoothie

Superhero smoothie

Today’s smoothie recipe is free from the top 8 allergens and Miss 2 asked for more (even though it has vegetables in it – bwahaha!). It’s also a great way to get some healthy fats and foods into your system when you’re recovering from the flu and can’t cope with the idea of making soup from scratch!

Ingredients

  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 200ml water
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 slices mango
  • 1/3 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground linseed (flaxseed)
  • Optional: drizzle of maple syrup

Optional: Since your smoothie is going to be green anyway, you may want to add 1 tsp of Healtheries Super Greens Smoothie Booster.

Tip: Have the coconut milk in the fridge (or add less water & more ice) so that this will be chilled once blended,

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Put everything in a blender and blend till smooth!
    • Tip: Most blenders will work more effectively if you put the liquids in first.
  2. Serve immediately while it’s chilled.

 

Nana’s Yummy Gluten Free Pikelets

Yummy Gluten Free Pikelets

Yummy Gluten Free Pikelets (light & fluffy)

Ingredients

Dry

  • 1/2 cup superfine white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup  Healtheries Gluten Free Bread Mix
    • Note: this already contains guar gum.
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1T sugar
  • Optional: 1T Maple Syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch salt

Liquid

  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 egg
  • few drops vanilla essence
  • 1 Tbsp rice bran oil

(Have more rice milk available.)

Allergies: dairy free, gluten free, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Whisk the wet ingredients until frothy.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and then mix in the frothed wet ingredients.
  3. Slowly mix in additional rice milk until you have a smooth consistency.
  4. Allow mixture to stand for a few minutes (it will thicken up).
  5. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Wait until it is hot and then brush with butter or allergy-free spread (like Nuttelex).
  6. Drop level tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook for half a minute or until bubbles appear on the surface.
  7. Turn over and cook other side for 1 minute until golden.
  8. Allow to cool and serve with butter / spread and honey or jam.

 

Note: There are several reasons that I choose to use the Healtheries Gluten Free Bread Mix instead of the Healtheries Gluten Free Baking Mix.

I prefer to use guar gum in my recipes and avoid xanthan gum; the latter is artificially derived and is often grown on an allergenic base (such as corn, soy, or wheat).

I like to control the rising agents in my baking so that I can tailor them to each recipe.

Frugality! The Bread Mix can be used to make both Gluten Free Bread and Gluten Free Baking whereas their Baking Mix can only be used for baking.