Suitable for Vegetarians
(Also suitable for Vegans if you can find a vegan approved biscuit)
Preparation time 15 mins.
Chilling time 1 hour 30 mins
Makes approx. 45 Squares
Keep fresh in the refrigerator for a few days
Serve with coffee at the end of a special meal.
Sunflower spread (‘Pure’) 120g
Dates (approximately 20) 110g
Golden caster sugar 60g
Cocoa powder (1/3 of a cup) 40g
golden syrup 2 tbsp
Mc Vities Light digestive biscuits 250g
Plain chocolate (Check there is no butter oil /whey/lactose) I use 1 bar of ‘Green and Blacks’ organic dark chocolate 70% Cocoa 150g
You will need a shallow rectangular baking dish/tray (approximately 20cm X 30cm X 2cm depth) to put the prepared mixture in to chill in the refrigerator (you don’t need to serve in this dish).
1) Chop the dates into small pieces*.
2) Put the sunflower spread, dates, caster sugar, cocoa powder and golden syrup** into a medium sized saucepan and stand over the lowest heat that you have on your hob. Melt very slowly stirring occasionally with a metal spoon to prevent the mixture burning.
Continue to heat gently until the mixture is loose and blended together nicely and all the traces of spread and sugar have melted. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
3) While the mixture is melting put the biscuits into a medium sized freezer bag and smash them with a rolling pin.
4) Take the pan off the heat and tip the broken biscuits into the pan. Mix really well
5) Lightly oil your dish and wipe away all the excess with some kitchen roll. Tip the prepared mixture into the dish and press the mixture firmly down with the back of a metal spoon so you have a nice firm compact layer. (This is easier to do with a cold, lightly oiled dessert spoon).
6) Melt the chocolate: Break it into a heat proof bowl and sit this bowl on the top of a small saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally as the chocolate gently melts. This process takes about 10 minutes.
7) Tip the melted chocolate over the prepared mixture and make a pattern through the chocolate with a clean fork.
8) Leave to set for about 1.5 hours in the fridge.
9) Using a sharp kitchen knife cut the praline into small squares (about 2cm square).
10) Share with your nearest and dearest.
*Dates are very sticky and it is easier to chop them with the skin-side of the fruit down on to the chopping board.
**To accurately measure golden syrup – first rub your measuring spoon with a small amount of cooking oil and wipe away the excess with kitchen paper, the syrup then slides off the spoon easily.
As this is a dairy free dish it is important to check the digestive biscuits and plain chocolate for butter/buttermilk/milk/whey/lactose etc. The McVities light digestives are dairy free at the time of writing.
This is a lovely dish made from fuss free ingredients and is super quick to prepare. The sauce tastes even better if you give it some extra time to cook down before adding the fish. Adding a glass of white wine to the sauce at step 3 also gives extra flavour.
1.4 kg of firm potatoes (New potatoes are perfect)
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
500 ml good quality chicken or vegetable stock
1 red chilli (hot is good)
a good pinch of saffron,
1 tablespoon of capers
21 pitted black olives in brine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
475g bag of frozen or fresh cod fillets (at least 4 small fillets required)
Chopped fresh parsley and crusty bread to serve.
1) Boil the potatoes until cooked (about 20 minutes) then leave them in the warm pan with the lid on.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the sliced garlic and chilli for a minute or so until the garlic just starts to change colour (do not brown the garlic it will become bitter).
3) Add the tin of tomatoes, crushed peppercorns, stock, saffron and a sprinkle of sea salt. Replace the lid and bring to the boil then remove the lid and simmer gently for 4 minutes.
4) Add the frozen fish, olives and capers. Stir the sauce around and over the fillets. Put on the lid and bring back to the boil. Once it reaches the boil turn down the heat slightly to simmer everything gently for 8-10 minutes, or just long enough for the cod to poach in the lovely sauce. If you are using fresh fish pieces the cook time will be about 5 minutes from the boil.
5) When the fish is cooked put a portion of the potatoes in the bottom of each serving dish, add a piece of fish followed by the sauce. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and enjoy with crusty bread.
Thank you to the chef James Martin, and Women and Home magazine (Feel Good Food, christmas 2008) for this recipe, you have transformed my life.
prep. time – 15 minutes, plus 2 hours chilling
Dark chocolate (your favourite, 70% cocoa solids and check it is dairy free*) – 200g
3 large free-range eggs
Golden caster sugar – 40g
125 ml warm water
1)Break up the chocolate into a large sized heat proof bowl and melt slowly over a pan of gently simmering water. Add the 125 ml warm water to the chocolate and stir now and again during the melting process.
2) While the chocolate is melting separate the egg yolks from the whites. The whites need to go in to a very clean bowl (no traces of grease).
3) Take the chocolate off the heat and stir well until it is smooth and glossy. (you may go through a bit of a lumpy phase but keep stirring and all will be ok)
4) Whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until softly peaking. Add the sugar. Continue whisking until the sugar is incorporated and the whites will stand in firm peaks in the bowl (the whites should stay in an upturned bowl!). The whites should look glossy – do not over beat.
5) Add the egg yolks to the cooled melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
6) Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly to loosen the mixture.
7) This is the delicate, gentle bit… Add the next 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and gently fold with a metal spoon. Do not beat, you want all those lovely bubbles to make the mousse light and fluffy.
8) Repeat step 7) with the final 1/3 of egg whites.
9) Divide the mixture between 6 of your favourite serving glasses/dishes.
10) Put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
• I have lovely memories of my grandmother teaching me how to make the chocolate leaves -melt some left over chocolate and gently coat the underside of clean rose leaves. Leave to set in the fridge for 1 hour. Take out the fridge and leave for 5 minutes, then carefully peel the leaf away.
Make more than you think you will need….there are always casualties!
*Cocoa butter is ok in a dairy free diet (this is a product of the cocoa bean and is not related to milk butter)
Most pre- prepared coleslaw is loaded with mayonnaise and cream but this is a light and healthy version (and costs a lot less). Together the flavours mingle into something wonderful. Great served with potato wedges, grilled meat/fish, burgers and pulled pork.
1/2 small white cabbage, about 225g, thinly sliced
550 calories per portion (including the brown rice).
A tasty family curry that is quick and easy to prepare. Make this the day before for an even quicker meal and a better flavour. Also freezes well.
Low in saturated fat (1.7g/portion). Very high in vitamins and minerals including Vit A, Vit C and magnesium.
Rapeseed oil, 2 tablespoons
Cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon
Mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon
Onions, 1 large, chopped
Garlic, 3-4 cloves, crushed
Red chilli, 1 mild, de-seeded and chopped finely. Or 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
Potatoes, 450g peeled and copped into 1cm cubes
Medium curry paste, 3 generous tablespoons (Pataks rogan Josh works well) or a heaped tablespoon of medium curry powder.
Vegetable stock, 800ml
Butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, approx. 600g
400g tin of cooked chickpeas (or green lentils)
Bag of baby spinach leaves, washed and ready to eat (allow 30g per person)
Garam massalla, 1 teaspoon.
Cooked wholemeal rice to serve and/or small wholemeal pitta breads for everyone to dip in the lovely sauce.
1) Prepare all the veggies.
2) Heat the oil gently in a large saucepan add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry gently until they start to ‘pop’.
3) Add the prpepared onion, garlic and chilli. Cook for 10 minutes until golden brown.
4) Stir in the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes until they start to take on some colour.
5) Add the curry paste or the curry powder and cook for a minute or so to coat all the vegetables.
6) Add the hot vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. (If you are serving the curry with wholemeal rice start cooking it now in a separate pan of boiling water -it will take 25 minutes simmer time)
7) Add the squash and simmer everything for at least 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. If you have a lime going spare you can add the peel at this stage to add to the flavour, but remove before stage 8.
8) I like to give the curry a bit of a mash with a potato masher at this stage and then add the drained chickpeas or lentils and heat through for at least a further 5 minutes (or up to another 30 minutes)
9) Stir through the garam massalla and cook on a low heat for a few minutes more
10) Stir through several generous handfuls of spinach to wilt before serving or serve the spinach on the side if you like it nice and crunchy.
So here we are in squash season! There is so much lovely fresh and locally produced food in the supermarkets right now but I have chosen the fabulous butternut squash to start my ‘seasonal, tasty and healthy’ blog.
Butternut squash is high in the vitamins A, C, E and folate, and minerals; magnesium, manganese and potassium. For this reason it is a great veg for tissue, muscle and collagen strength. The spices and herbs are packed full of antioxidants and also minerals such as magnesium, calcium and manganese.
This soup is a healthy mix for everyone to benefit from, but is particularly beneficial for women approaching the menopause.
My spicy and dairy-free Butternut squash soup
Dairy Free and Suitable for vegans
Serves 4 as a starter. Preparation time- 20 minutes. Cooking time- approx. 30 minutes
When I say spicy I don’t mean chilli spice, but the lovely soft warming heat…