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Lemongrass and Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies

These little cuties can be made in two 'flavourways' (if there is such a thing - think colourways in flavour terms!). My favourite is the Lemongrass and Strawberry but Ginger and Marmalade Thumbprint Cookies is a very close runner up. Just substitute Lemongrass with ground Ginger and Strawberry jam with Marmalade.


Feel free to make some homemade jam and the internet is awash with recipes for chia jam, but St Dalfour's jams (high fruit content with no added sugar) are deliciously fruity and take a mere fraction of a second to open a jar!


Lemongrass and Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies
Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Refined Sugar-free
Makes 8

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (150g) almond meal
1 tbsp (15g) coconut flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
1 tsp dried lemongrass, finely ground
3 tbsp (45g) coconut oil, melted (use refined coconut oil if you prefer a less coconutty taste to the cookies)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (or equivalent liquid sweetener), to taste
1 mediu…
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Caponata

This works as a rich, robust and tangy vegetable side dish alongside grilled meats or fish; or serve as a simple vegetarian main, bulked up with a smattering of toasted pine nuts or flaked almonds. Any leftovers can be served cold as a relish straight from the fridge. Best served warm, allowing the flavours to slowly absorb and intensify.


Caponata
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free
(Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main)


Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large aubergine, washed, dried and diced into 1.5cm cubes
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red or green (or mix) pepper, diced into 1.5cm squares
1 medium courgette, washed, dried and diced into 1.5cm cubes
1 tin (400g) peeled and chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp capers, drained
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
small handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
optional: toasted pine nuts or flaked almonds to serve

Instructions:
1. Heat a med…

Italian Sheet Pan Roast Rainbow Vegetables with Salmon

New Year New Post! Activity has been somewhat on the dormant side here on this blog for a while. Just life. What more can I say?


What better way to welcome in the January blues with a rainbow platter of goodness. The kids love simple baked salmon; the chestnuts and sweet potato add natural sweetness, balanced with a tang of lemon juice at the end to complement the Italian seasoning. Also works as an easy and colourful vegetable side dish without the salmon.


Italian Sheet Pan Roast Rainbow Vegetables with Salmon
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free
Serves 2


Ingredients:
2 salmon fillets (approx 120g each), skin on
225g brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved/ quartered depending on size (leave whole if tiny)
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/2" discs
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup (100g) cooked and peeled chestnuts (I use the vacuum packed ones)
1/2 cup baby plum tomatoes
1/2 lemon cut into 2 wedges
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp…

Chocolate Beetroot Cashew Cream

The stuff of chocolate-centric dreams... Top with a handful of gluten-free granola and a few berries or spoon over a pud.


Chocolate Beetroot Cashew Cream
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (35g) raw unsalted cashew nuts, soaked overnight in filtered water
1 medium (65g) cooked, cooled and peeled beetroot
1/4 medium ripe avocado flesh (40g)
1 large (15g) soft medjool date, pitted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
6 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (plus extra if needed)

Optional toppings: grain-free granola, berries, edible dried flower petals

Instructions:
1. Blend all ingredients (not toppings!) until smooth and creamy, adding a dash extra coconut milk if needed).
2. Decant into serving bowl and add toppings if desired. Eat immediately.

My Happiness Project Habits

I have been re-reading Gretchen Rubin's 'The Happiness Project' in a bid to reboot my own happiness level. Much of what she says strikes a poignant chord.


Depending on the individual, the route to DIY contentment will vary wildly and not many of us can attest to having 12 minutes free let alone 12 months to experiment with all the facets Gretchen explores in her book.

My five key personal takeaways to unlocking my gateway to happiness lie roughly in the areas of:
1. Sleeping and exercising better
2. Decluttering and organising
3. Launch a blog and enjoy the fun of failure (you are reading the evidence of this!)
4. Mindfulness
5. Practising gratitude

The problem is that every time I have tried to build good habits to tackle and enforce each of these areas, correlating bad habits have an uncanny knack of sneakily sidling their way to the forefront, eventually obscuring all trace of existence of their better halves.

Examining my own habits in light of these areas, I can …

Seaweed Cucumber and Radish Salad

When I am 'cooking' for just myself I revel in the freedom of not worrying about juggling all the likes and dislikes of every member of the family. This is one of my favourites - and every single ingredient is hated (not just disliked) by at least one if not all of my lovely family! And the best thing about making this for myself is that it's a doddle to prepare and doesn't even require cooking.



Seaweed is a great source of iodine, good for gut health and full of nutrients eg calcium, folate, magnesium. It also aids detoxification and has been claimed in studies to help regulate hormones. Whatever the benefits I love the natural saltiness and it always tastes great with a sesame oil and ginger based dressing.


Seaweed Cucumber and Radish Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side


Ingredients:
10g mixed dried seaweed, hydrated and drained
2-3 inch cucumber, finely sliced into discs
3 radishes, bulbs finely sliced into disc…

Chinese Red Date (aka Jujube) and Walnut Raw 'Cheese'cake

My time is precious. It is limited. The demand for it well exceeds its potential supply. If only someone would bestow me a Time-Turner a la Hermione in Harry Potter, then I could achieve so much more...


My mum has been feeding me Chinese red dates since forever - in soups, infusions, desserts - it is an essential Chinese 'superfood' (indeed pre-dating the term 'superfood' itself) with purported anti-inflammatory and calming properties. Recently she brought me some delicious snacks from Hong Kong - simply individually wrapped pitted Chinese red dates (aka Jujube) encasing a single walnut - so simple and such a perfect combo that I was inspired to make a dessert based on it.



Chinese Red Date (aka Jujube) and Walnut Raw 'Cheese'cake
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Makes a small 12cm diameter cake


Ingredients:
Base:
1/2 cup (65g) raw unsalted walnuts
1/2 cup (65g) soft, pitted, medjool dates
pinch sea salt
splash of water if needed

Top:
1/2 cu…

One Pan Meatloaf Stuffed Roast Squash with Asparagus

This recipe recycles leftover meatloaf, into a low maintenance, minimal effort second supper.


Meatloaf is a very lazy dinner menu option - literally mix 500g of minced pork (or chicken or turkey or a mix) with a few tablespoons of spices of choice (my favourites include 1tbsp cumin and 1tbsp ground coriander, but Chinese 5 spice, oregano, basil, etc all work well), a tsp of garlic powder and onion powder, an egg to bind and a tbsp of coconut flour to add firmness and plenty of salt and pepper.  Press firmly and neatly into a loaf tin and bake at 175 degrees celsius for about 45mins-1hr or until cooked through.  Delicious add-ins to the meatloaf mix are: - cooked spinach (make sure to squeeze out all the liquid before adding to the meatloaf mix) - pan fried chopped mushrooms (again, cook until liquid evaporated) - grated squash or carrots (squeeze out liquid) - coconut aminos and thai fish sauce with a handful of chopped bamboo shoots and water chestnuts (reduce salt accordingly)
I ha…

Spiced Pumpkin 'Panecotta' Pie Pud

I'm not American and I've only eaten Pumpkin Pie once - when I was very kindly but rather randomly invited to a Thanksgiving dinner on my first night in Japan, surrounded by a bunch of complete strangers. As a result, I'm not convinced it is a dessert that invokes a particular warm and fuzzy sentimentality. That said, I am an unapologetic fan of pumpkin and all the warm spices that accompany it in its seasonal pie incarnation.


This version is a hybrid of Crustless Pumpkin Pie meets Panecotta - slightly less custard-y and more of the wobble of a panecotta.


Spiced Pumpkin 'Panecotta' Pud
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free

Makes a 15cm/ 6" pud


Ingredients:
225g (just over half can) unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
1 large ripe banana
1 small soft date, pitted
100ml coconut milk, cold
100ml coconut milk, heated to very warm but not boiling
1 1/2 tbsp gelatin (I use this Great lakes one but have no affi…

Thai Beef Salad

Slow roasting/ cooking any joint of meat is so time and energy consuming that it seems churlish not to cook plenty in one go to lower the cost per portion! This is what happened when I roasted a rather enormous joint of beef and the children declared with such exasperation, "Not beef again" that I knew it'd take a bit more pizazz to make this theoretically economical way of cooking actually work in practise!


This recipe works just as well for other leftover meats - I have done it with leftover turkey...


and baked salmon...
 and it tastes great regardless.


Thai Beef Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Serves 2

Ingredients:
Salad:
approx 2 handfuls (1.5 - 2 cups) shredded or chopped cold roast beef (or substitute other cooked meat or a handful of roasted cashews for a meat-free alternative)
1/4 head of red cabbage (approx 3 cups) shredded (or use a mix of red and white cabbage)
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
3 radishes, finely sliced
1 carrot p…