Friday, 1 May 2015

Gluten Free Vegan Avocado Chocolate Cake


This is the first time I've ever made a double layer cake and it's a gluten free, dairy free and egg free recipe - I don't do things by halves! .

I can't take any credit for this one, I followed this recipe for Chocolate Avocado Cake from the BBC Good Food website almost to the letter. My only changes were: I made it soya free by subbing the soya milk for Alpro Original Almond Milk, and at stage 3 I whisked all the ingredients together apart from the milk, microwaved the milk for 1 minute and then added it gradually to the mixture. This saved me a bit of time (I was working on this cake until 10.30pm last night, I was allowed to cheat a bit!) I also didn't use sprinkles at the end, I just grated some chocolate over it. The recipe itself is pretty straightforward but the whole thing is quite time-consuming. (Especially when you only have one cake tin and have to cook the cake one half at a time!)

It's the last day in my current job today so I wanted to bring in something special. It was a risk - anyone who has tried baking free from gluten and eggs will attest to this! - but thankfully it paid off. For a gluten free cake, the texture is brilliant, no dryness that catches in the back of your throat, just soft, decadent sponge with even more decadent and delicious frosting. (There was loads left so I'll be using it up on the weekend somehow. Such a hardship!)

The avocado just adds moisture and a creaminess to everything. It's pretty flavourless anyway, but you definitely wouldn't detect it in this cake. And for me, this seems like a much nicer way of making cake i.e. with no animal products whatsoever - save the chicks!

 
 
I'm sitting here trying to work my way through a slice - It's very rich so you don't need much! I reckon that if you're missing proper cake, it's worth giving this recipe a go. It's a bit time consuming but you won't regret it - and your friends and family will definitely thank you for it!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

REVIEW - Gluten Free at Zero Zero, Bristol

Wonderful Wings

I had lunch at Zero Zero Easton on the weekend with my husband and a couple of friends. I was too excited at the thought of a new eatery in BS5 to mind that I couldn't eat the main item on the menu - pizza! I was determined to go and help support a local business so I tweeted them to see if I could have the wings instead. Luckily, the wings were Okayed and on the day, I supplemented them with a mozzarella salad (and 2 very refreshing cans of Caple Road cider!)

We sat down at the bench next to the wall and chatted away while our food arrived. I would like to say we took in the surroundings but Zero Zero really is tiny! The bench seats about 6 and a few more could fit around the bar - it's cosy but super cute, and with a few mates it's a great space to catch up over food while sampling the great range of alcohol on offer.

A beautiful plate of wings arrived (I ordered hot, but mild and stupid hot are also available) - just look at the colours of that buffalo sauce. They were as good as I'd hoped, buttery, soft chicken and the sauce was packed with flavour, with the heat hitting towards the end, tingling on the lips for just the right amount of time afterwards. The blue cheese sauce that came with them was so good that I could have eaten a tub of it on its own.

For just £5 for the wings, you really can't go wrong. There is also a tofu version - I just have to try that next time if it's GF and I seem to have volunteered for the hot wings challenge (coming soon. It's something I've always wanted to have a go at!)

I was told that the pizzas were fantastic too - made using their own '00' flour and stone baked. They use local ingredients where possible and I think it adds something special to every dish. A small menu can really work when all the ingredients are on point. Zero Zero also offer a take-away wine service, with their house wine (sourced from a vineyard in France) coming in a re-sealable bottle! Tiffins? So old-fashioned babes.

Zero Zero is a perfect addition to the area and I hope you'll check it out if you get the chance.

Zero Zero Easton
2B High Street (it's actually around the corner on Albion Road, next to the barbers)
Easton
Bristol
BS5 6DL
01179 510 265
www.zero-zero.co.uk

Zero Zero on Twitter
Zero Zero on Facebook

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Gluten Free Bristol - Batch 5 Gluten Free Bread





Batch # 5 gluten free products are produced by Bath Bakery but luckily for us Bristolians, they are now in collaboration with Joe's Bakery on Gloucester road. I popped in on Saturday ready to buy all the bread but there was only a white loaf left, a few flapjacks and a bit of carrot cake.
This is clearly a good sign that the range is popular but I'm super gutted that I didn't get to buy any seeded brown bread or ciabattas. Hopefully next time.

My white loaf was a good size, not to heavy or dense, sliced with ease and held together during even the most cack-handed buttering. My only criticism was the flavour which I felt was a bit nondescript. (Though when I said that, my husband ate a massive bit and said 'mmm no, it's nice' so WTH do I know!) I just can't help comparing it to my beloved Graham's Bakery gluten free bread (Gloucestershire). It'll be hard to top his fluffy white loaf.

The bread is egg free too so I guiltlessly carved out hunks of bread for bruschetta, cheese on toast and a childhood favourite, jam and marge on bread (I can't even begin to describe the feelings of nostalgia as I ate it!) It's such a pleasure to eat proper sized slices of bread and bread that doesn't have to be toasted first. So, big well done to Bath Bakery and thanks to Joe's Bakery for being a stockist!

Batch #5 - Check out the amazing range of gluten free products

Full list of stockists

Batch #5 on Twitter

Batch #5 on Facebook


Joe's Bakery
240-242 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, BS7 8NZ
0117 975 5551
www.joesbakery.co.uk

Monday, 27 April 2015

IBS At Work

When IBS Attacks at Work! We’ve all been there.

But what can we do?

Many people with IBS argue that we should insist on a private loo, or at least have access to the disabled loo which is more private than partially open cubicles.

Some people with IBS manage to work from home or have an arrangement with the management to work from home during a flare up of IBS symptoms.

But I imagine that most of us get by the best we can.

I decided to pick a few brains via a survey on Survey Monkey.

Here's the link - https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N3F587T

It's super simple to complete, yes and no answers, no log-in required and you can do it on your mobile.

I'll post the results here and I'm really looking forward to getting everyone's thoughts on the subject!

Please share - links below.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Gluten Free Bristol - Breakfasts!


I've searched high and low to find you (and myself) the best gluten free breakfasts in Bristol. As always I've only listed independent establishments. It ain't a gluten free breakfast if you just take the sausages and toast off, there has to be a bit something special on offer to make it worth leaving the confines of your weekend duvet/papers/cats nest for!

Hopefully you won't be disappointed by any of my suggestions. I have placed a hash (short for hash browns, naturally) next to the ones that I have personally tried and can recommend. Please give me a shout if I've missed anyone off and I'd love your feedback on any that you have tried yourself!

1. Kingfisher Café #
*Pictured
Sausage, bacon, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, beans, egg, toast.
17-18 Straits Parade, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 2LE
0117 965 1001
www.facebook.com/thekingfisherbristol

2. Café Rhubarb
Gluten free full English with sausages and toast.
388 A38 (Gloucester Road), Bristol, BS7 8TR
0117 942 3264
https://www.facebook.com/caferhubarb

3. Better Food Company – St Werburghs Café
Bacon, fried egg, beans, slow-roasted tomato, toast (Genius bread).
The Proving House, Sevier Street, Bristol BS2 9LB
0117 935 1725
www.betterfood.co.uk/shops-cafe/st-werburghs

4. Venue 35
Vegetarian sausage, bacon, hash browns, mushrooms, tomato, beans, egg, toast.
135 Stoke Lane, Bristol, BS9 3RW
0117 329 0443
www.venue35.co.uk

5. Maitreya Social #
See blackboard for breakfast items – GF rolls available and all food is vegetarian.
89 Saint Mark's Road, Bristol, BS5 6HY
0117 951 0100
www.cafemaitreya.co.uk

6. At The Well
No full English, however French toast, mushrooms on toast, scrambled egg on toast, boiled egg and soldiers and bacon sarnies are available with gluten free bread.
145 Cheltenham Road, Bristol BS6 5RR
07583 090369
www.at-the-well.co.uk/thewell/home.html

7. Primrose Café
A selection of delicious breakfast items (eggs benedict, posh mushrooms etc) served on gluten free bagels.
1 Clifton Arcade, Boyce's Avenue, Bristol BS8 4AA
0117 946 6577
www.primrosecafe.co.uk

8. The Rummer Hotel
The chef is happy to make substitutes for any dietary requirements, but you must book ahead and state that you cannot eat gluten. The chef often bakes bread or muffins that are gluten free.
All Saints Lane, Bristol BS1 1JH
0117 929 4243
www.therummer.net

9. Turner's Farm Shop and Café
Hash browns, scalloped potatoes, egg, bacon, grilled tomatoes, field mushrooms and gluten free sausages if you pre-book. No gluten free bread on site but they said that if you bring your own they are happy to toast it for you.
Bridge House Farm, Syston Common, Warmley, Bristol BS30 5LS
01179673842
www.turnersfarmshop.net

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

RECIPE - Gluten Free Vegan Date and Beetroot Brownies


Here is probably one of the simplest gluten, dairy, egg and oat free brownie recipes out there. I plan to make these as often as possible as they are just so easy to make and the ingredients are really easy to get hold of.

The recipe originated from The Gluten Free Blogger but I ended up improvising as, as per usual, I didn’t have all of the ingredients. My main substitution was oats for rice flake porridge.

 
The first time I made these, I missed step 6 and although the taste was great, the texture was a little gritty. The second time, I left them to ‘soak’ and they turned out perfectly. My substitution means that these brownies are also suitable for those who can’t tolerate oats. And I’ve even given them to beetroot-phobes and they were none the wiser!

As you can see they have a great texture, they have just the right amount of squidge without falling apart and you are also getting a good dose of antioxidants, iron and fibre with the beetroots and dates!

Recipe

3 Large beetroots (I use the 'ready to eat' no vinegar vacuum packed ones from Lidl but you can use raw - instructions below)
15 Medjool dates, pitted
100g Delicious Alchemy Rice Flake Porridge - Available online or try Sainsbury's own brand
80g Ground almonds
4 tbsp Maple Syrup or runny honey
4 tbsp Cocoa powder
1 tbsp sugar (any type)
100g dark chocolate (plain or flavoured), broken into small pieces
2-4 tbsp milk or dairy free alternative

Method

1. If you are using raw beetroot, peel and top and tail them, cut into chunks (gloves are a good idea here!) and put into a steamer to cook until you can easily cut them with a knife. If you are using ready to eat beetroot, skip this step.
2. Blend the rice flakes for a good few minutes until they have reduced in size. Add the almond flour and sugar and blend for another minute.
3. Put the mixture into a large bowl and add the cocoa powder and the maple syrup or honey.
4. Blend the dates, then gradually add the beetroot. Add a dash of milk while the blender is on and keep adding until the mixture starts to spin in the blender and resemble a purple mush, apple sauce in texture.
5. Add this mixture and the chocolate pieces to the dry mixture and stir well. (Save some chocolate for the top if you prefer).
6. Put aside for around 20 minutes to allow to rice flakes to soften.
7. Preheat your oven to 180c.
8. Pour the mixture into a metal baking dish lined with greaseproof paper (shiny side up) or a silicone baking mould.
9. Bake for 30 minutes (check after 25 minutes).

Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

Delicious Alchemy Rice Flake Porridge

Read My Review of Delicious Alchemy's Gluten Free Mixes

More of The Gluten Free Blogger's Fabulous Recipes

Friday, 17 April 2015

My Gluten Free Holiday Wishlist

I've been doing some research for a trip I'm taking in September. I'm doing the usual gluten dodger's trick of researching all the suitable food before I go. What restaurants have GF on their menu, what local foods are naturally gluten free and where I can buy supplies of bread rolls and almond milk. To be honest, my holiday destination isn’t known for its knowledge of the gluten free diet. I’ve done a bit of research over the years and I’ve got a little wish list of places I want to visit because I know I’ll eat well with relativity little effort on my part. And the fact that they are beautiful, historically interesting and full of friendly folk has also helped to stick these 3 destinations firmly onto my travel bucket list.

1. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 

(Photos above used with permission from Pixabay.com)

 
The home of Pho! Need I go on? Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with noodles. Whenever I’m home alone, I make a big steaming broth, add rice noodles, anything else I can find (sausage, green beans, sweetcorn, leftover roast chicken) and all the chilli. I reckon the comforting feeling and face melting combined make it a bit addictive.
 
I’m a huge fan of American chef Anthony Bourdain and it was his visits to Vietnam on his programme No Reservations that pushed this amazing country to the top of my list. He spends a lot of time convincing the viewer of its virtues. I guess Americans needs a bit more persuading, what will the history and all, but I was sold instantly. He said if he could move anywhere in the world, he would move there. For someone who has travelled so extensively to say it is "one of my favourite places on earth" is a strong recommendation!
 
It’s the people, the food, the landscape and the vibe that appeals and the street food in Vietnam has to be some of the best in the world. As Tony explains, "All of the things I need for happiness: Low plastic stool, check. Tiny little plastic table, check. Something delicious in a bowl, check." Tony actually filmed 6 separate shows on Vietnam, 2 for ‘A Cook’s Tour’ (first aired 2001), 3 for ‘No Reservations’ (first aired 2005) and 1 for ‘Parts Unknown’ (first aired 2013). Here’s an interview with Anthony Bourdain about Ho Chi Minh City on The Guardian website.
 
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) looks to be the best bet for gluten free dining. This blog explains that there is less of an outside influence here. Food is simple and traditional and they use rice noodles and fresh spices and vegetables rather than wheat noodles and soy sauce. (Although the local soy sauce doesn't have wheat listed as an ingredient. But if you don't want to chance it and soy sauce is offered, it is easy enough to turn down). A popular breakfast dish is Bún thịt nướng or bún thịt nướng chả giò which includes rice vermicelli, grilled pork, Vietnamese pickles, scallions and a fish sauce dressing. (I’m boarding a plane, in my mind!) Rice paper is also used in a lot of Vietnamese cuisine, the spring rolls are made with it and you will also find salads made with softened leftover rice paper pieces. Another famous dish Com Tam uses up broken or 'imperfect' rice and comes topped with pork, pork fat and surrounded with delicious vegetables and a dipping sauce. Other local snacks include quail fried in butter, grilled pork skewers and delicious fried crab and tofu dishes.
 
I’d also love to wander around the famous food markets such as Cho Ben Thanh, located in District 1 or Cho Lon, a huge Chinese market. I’d check out the museums and religious sites (I do love a good pagoda), try a bit of karaoke and drink some great coffee. I imagine it would be tough to say goodbye.
 
2. Portland, U.S.A
 
(Photo above used with permission from Pixabay.com)
 
 
(Photo used with Petunia's Permission)

The more I read about Portland, the more it sounds like a bigger Bristol. Bushy beards, fancy beer, a few hippies and a thriving art and music scene. And plenty of interesting and hip places to eat. Eating out gluten free is pretty tricky (try egg free and dairy free too…) so in an ideal world there wouldn’t be a language barrier between you and your next meal. Imagine a gluten free food tour of America or Australia, heaven! You would think that the top spots for gluten free eating would be LA or New York but as this map reveals, the best GF hot spots have popped up in some surprising places.

I took a Buzzfeed quiz recently called something like ‘Which City In The World Should You Live In?’ and I got Portland. At that time, I knew little about it. After a bit of research, Portland was soaring to the top of my travel wish list. Firstly, everyone says great things about the people. They’re a bit cooler than cool, but know how to have a great time. It seems like everyone has a great social life in Portland, it has a temperate climate and large areas have been locked off from development, providing large green spaces. It has won awards for being ‘the greenest city in America’ and even ‘the greenest city in the world’.

There was always a street food scene in Portland but it gained momentum after the recession of 2008 when it was more difficult for chefs to open restaurants. This had a huge effect on the quality of the street food available and you can now find ‘pods’ of street food ‘carts’ all over the city. There’s a cart for everyone in Portland; if you’re on a gluten free, vegan, paleo or raw diet you won’t go hungry.

If you search for things to do in Portland, most of the suggestions are for parks, forests, arboretums and Japanese gardens. I’ve got visions of me with my takeout box of gluten free Reuben Sandwich and a cold gluten free beer and sitting in the sunshine, taking in the surroundings and the spectacular view of Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens in the distance.

When I’m done with my ultimate picnic, I’ll head to Petunia’s – a completely gluten free bakery on 12th Avenue. The owner, Lisa Clark has many food intolerances and she creates the most amazing looking pastries, cookies, cheesecakes, you name it. Everything produced on the premises is gluten free. And they do cocktails, lunch and dinner! Would you ever leave? Feast your eyes on this menu.

This list of restaurants, carts, cafes, stalls and bakeries offering gluten free in Portland is something to behold. You will even find Portland’s answer to Bristol's The Burger Joint – Dick’s Kitchen who offer a wide choice of meat, vegetarian and vegan burgers, with the gluten free option coming with a Udi’s bun.

I’d finish the night in Groundbreaker Brewery’s gastro pub. They are a dedicated gluten free and vegan brewery and their offering includes a year round dark ale, pale ale, 2 IPAs and seasonal beers that include a squash ale for autumn and a coffee ale for spring!

3. Stockholm, Sweden

 
(Photos above used with permission from Pixabay.com)
 
 
Alexander Skarsgård, meatballs and the Ikea mothership.
 
Oh, OK… I’ll add more details.
 
Sweden always seems to come top in studies on general happiness, living wage, green credentials, low crime and alcoholism, education, the gender gap – it seems so…perfect. Geographically it is stunning and the seasons are very distinct; hot summers with many hours of daylight (up to 16 in Stockholm!) and freezing winters with just 6 hours of daylight in some places. Stockholm is the largest city in Sweden with a population of 1.3 million. It is spread across 14 islands and the bridges joining them are a distinctive feature. The city bike scheme seems like an easy and inexpensive way to get around; in my mind I’m pedalling around the historical streets with my backpack full of Chockladbollar (chocolate and coconut treats) and Sarah Bernhardts (chocolate and almond treats).
 
Gluten free food is ridiculously easy to get hold of. I’ve read that most places use corn or potato flour as a thickener and that many of the chains have a gluten free option – Gluten free buns are available at McDonals, Burger King and Max Burger and Pizza Hut do a gluten free base! There is also a dedicated gluten free bakery in Stockholm called Friends of Adam.

Swedes are into healthy living and fitness and whilst many won’t know the word coeliac, they’ll understand ‘gluten fritt’ or gluten intolerance and are happy to accommodate. That said, it seems that the best place to find gluten free food is in the hotels. Many of the bigger hotels provide a large gluten free buffet (or Smörgåsbord) with a range of breads, crackers, cheese and meats. See this blog for more details. (I die...)
 
I was surprised to find that there is a big coffee culture in Sweden and they partake in strong coffee and pastries a lot like the Italians. They even have a word for a coffee break with friends ‘Fika’. So that explains all those pap pics of Alexander sitting outside coffee shops in LA! Many cafés offer gluten free sweet snacks and I think I could easily while away a few hours people watching with a bun and a coffee. The GF options in supermarkets are also excellent – just look at the freezer section on the above blog post! The famous Almondy dessert is also widely available.
 
When I’m fuelled up on coffee and crispbreads, I’d definitely skip the ABBA Museum and do a Viking tour - get to know more about the history of Sweden and our potential ancestors!
I’d also love to visit the Junibacken Museum – it describes itself as a ‘house of fantasy play’ but looks like it’s strictly above board! It’s apparently where ‘Children play themselves wise’ and they’ve got a world of Moomins and other Astrid Lindgren characters to explore.

According to this fantastic blog post, they have a café offering loads of GF options, including gluten free Swedish meatballs! The website says ‘We can offer dairy and gluten free pancakes , milk and äggfria pancakes and eggs dairy and gluten-free meatballs. Although the kakbordet (no idea…) are cookies without milk , egg and gluten. Ask the staff!’
 
 
And then after that, I think I'll have a small nap!
 
 
 
* This post is my entry to the Transun Blog Competition www.transun.co.uk #TransunLights *