Want to have a few Christmas-with-a-twist treats? These have those seasonal flavours. Try them – they’re lovely as well as being super-easy to make. Thankyou to Parry Marsh, whose recipe this is. This makes around 22 pieces.
1 ½ cups (or 190 g) of mixed nuts – chestnuts, pecans & Brazil nuts go well in this 1 tbsp goji berries (*optional) Grated rind of half a lemon and half an orange 1 scant tsp of mixed spice* 1 tbs raw agave syrup (runny honey will do too) ⅔ cup (or 95 g) mixed vine fruit or raisins 4–6 fresh (or Medjool) pitted dates
In a food processor, process the nuts, goji berries, grated rind, and spice, until the nuts are all broken down into small pieces.
Add the agave syrup and vine fruit/raisins, and process again until the fruit is mostly broken down.
Do a taste test, and add more agave if necessary, but remember that the dates will be adding sweetness too and Christmas pudding isn’t meant to be too sweet.
Then, with the food processor running, drop in the dates one at a time, and let each one get processed into the mix. Keep adding them until the mix starts to stick together.
Once it’s nice and sticky, remove from the food processor, then break off portions of the dough and roll them in your hands to form balls – they should be about the size of a chocolate truffle or a small walnut shell.
Eat at once, or chill for a while to firm up. You can even pop them in the freezer and eat them straight from there.
If you want to make these a little chewier, try forming the balls around a couple of raisins, or even pieces of candied peel or crystallized ginger.
*Goji berries are optional but give it a slightly richer flavor and a few chewy bits since they never blend in totally.
**If you don’t have any mixed spice, you can easily make your own: use equal amounts of ground cinnamon, allspice, clove, nutmeg, and ginger.
Why this is better for you: These yummy treats are packed with protein and healthy fats which stop the natural sugars in the vine fruits and agave from messing with your metabolism. If you’ve been working with me you know all about balancing your blood sugar and how it turbo-charges immunity, digestive and even mental health and energy production. If you’re curious as to how too balance your blood sugar check out the courses under “work with me tab” on the home page. Or send an enquiry about one-to-one coaching towards a healthier, happier you. Spices are incredibly anti-inflammatory. Dried grapes (sultanas, raisins, currants etc) feed certain species of healthy bacteria in your gut. Enough healthy bacteria are needed for every function in your body, from gut and digestive health to a balanced immune system and stable mood.
Now Autumn’s here and with it some crazy storms I’ve rediscovered this high protein immune-supporting soup that’s a bowl full of sunshine. To make it into a complete meal add a cupful of cooked greens per person at the end (a bag of baby spinach would do). If you want to gain weight, add some extra carbs such as wholemeal gluten-free bread or leftover cooked rice (reheat well in the soup). If you eat gluten) some 100% rye or wholemeal sourdough. This soup freezes well too.
For 4 Note: You can save yourself effort chop all veg and spices only roughly if you’re going to blend the soup later on. 1 very large onion or 2 medium chopped onions 2 large sticks celery, sliced 2 large carrots (about 300g), sliced 2 heaped tbs (tablespoons) finely grated fresh ginger 1-2 rounded tbs ghee or virgin coconut oil (if you have an inflamed gut, ghee is best). 3 cloves garlic, crushed Heaped teaspoon turmeric powder Heaped teaspoon coriander powder 1/2 level tsp ground cardamom powder if you have it 500ml carton of passata (sieved tomatoes) or a 400g can chopped tomatoes 750ml filtered water or leftover vegetable cooking water (e.g. from steaming veg) 250g (mug and a quarter) dried red lentils 1 heaped tsp health store additive-free vegetable stock powder (for the SC Diet use Dr Coys Organic Vegetable Bouillon) Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with lid on a medium heat for a minute. Add ghee/oil, onion, celery, carrots, ginger and a small splash of water, cover with a lid and sweat for 10 minutes. 2. Add garlic, turmeric and cardamom if you have it, stir for a minute before adding passata/tinned tomatoes and water. 3.Give everything a stir then add the lentils so they sit on top (otherwise during cooking they stick to the bottom). If the lentils are not entirely submerged in liquid, add a bit more water or stock. 4. Boil for 15-20 mins for 20 mins/until lentils and veg are soft. Only stir the lentils gently at the very top if they are stuck together, otherwise leave them alone. 5. Mix the veg stock powder into a little water and add to the soup AFTER the the lentils are soft (otherwise salt makes the lentils touch). 4. If you want a smooth soup now give it a whizz with a stick blender.
5 reasons this is good for you: Lentils and onions contain prebiotic fibre. This feeds friendly bacteria you need for healthy digestive system and immunity. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, coconut oil, cardamom and coriander reduce numbers of disease-causing bacteria/viruses in your gut. Processed cooked tomatoes are the richest source of antioxidant lycopene to help ALL of you Ghee contains butyric acid, a metabolite produced by friendly bowel bacteria to keep your gut and immune system tip-top. Lentils are a rich and easy-to-digest source of protein which is essential for antibody production to protect against infection.
Naturally gluten-free and grain-free, I really like these. This recipe is from Raman Prasad’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet Cookbook. The SC diet can be magical for getting people with inflammatory bowel conditions into remission while they start to work on the underlying causes. But the recipes in it are pretty tasty for anyone and much less damaging for the gut.
1. Preheat oven to 180C (165C fan). Grease 2 baking sheets. 2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until the dough is dry enough and not stick to work with. Add more almond flour/ground almonds I needed. 3. On the baking sheet, form 4-5 cm circular mounds with the dough and press down to flatten into a cookie shape. 4. Bake 10-15 mins until the edged turn golden.
Why this is better for you: These biscuits are naturally grain-free, which is great news for anyone struggling with Crohn’s, colitis or who may be on the SC diet during a IBS/SIBO recovery protocol. These are also high in protein (almonds) and much lower in sugars (honey) so they don’t cause blood sugar peaks and troughs. A word of warning though, these are treats, not everyday foods. This is because nuts, when roasted, no longer contain healthy oils. So eating too many of these is not good for your metabolism.
This is my all-time favourite potato salad. A far cry from the claggy, low-grade ones made with health-sabotaging refined oil. Amazingly, cold potatoes have very different health-giving properties from warm or hot. For the reason why, scroll to the bottom. Some people like to use waxy potatoes. Personally I prefer floury ones which partly break up. Serving size isn’t enormous as you’ll want to save space for masses of low carb veg and some quality protein to keep you fuller longer.
4 medium size potatoes (about 500g in all), scrubbed (no need to peel) and quartered
1/4 white/red onion, sliced thinly
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Large handful (3 tbs) chopped fresh parsley or dill
Freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch salt
Liberal amounts of extra virgin olive oil
1. Boil the potatoes till cooked. Drain.
2. In a bowl combine hot potatoes, onion, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, salt, a few good grinds of black pepper.
3. If you like your onions not to have any “heat” add the lemon juice now.
4. Just before serving add the herbs and if you like, most extra virgin olive oil to taste.
Why this is good for you: Cooked and cooled potatoes are a rich source of resistant starch. This magical starch feeds beneficial bacteria in your bowel that aid all aspects of your health. Resistant disappears if you reheat the potatoes and reappears when they are cold. Cooked, cooled rice is another good source of resistant starch. Herbs are a great source of antioxidants to calm inflammation and reduce the growth of unhelpful gut bacteria. Even a dessertspoon of cooked cooled rice or potatoes feeds friendly bacteria. Large amounts of high carb foods like grains, rice and potatoes are counter-productive as their high sugar levels promote overgrowths of unhelpful bugs. If you limit starchy carbs to no more than 1/4 your lunch and dinner plate you’ll be doing great!!
There’s nothing like home-made hummus for flavour. It’s super-easy to do and if you like it, make a big batch and freeze some for the future.
1 mugful of cooked chickpeas (or haricot, cannellini, butter or broad beans) – keep some of the cooking water if you have cooked your own
400g tin of no added sugar chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1½-3 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of ½ – 1 lemon
1 heaped dessertspoonful tahini (health stores/Asian shops. Raw tahini such as Carly’s brand is best)
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
1 rounded tsp ground coriander
1 rounded tsp ground cumin
Generous pinch or two of Himalayan/Atlantic Sea Salt
Optional extras (see below)
Blitz everything together in your food processor or mini food processor until mixed. You may need a bit more liquid (lemon juice or olive oil) to get everything mixing well.
Add extra lemon juice/olive oil to taste. If the mix is too thick add a a bit of chickpea cooking water or plain water and blitz again.
Blitz in one or two of the following if you like:
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, parsley or chives,
3-4 tomatoes you have roasted or cooked under the grill till soft
A teaspoon of spicy harissa paste (from ethnic shops) or ½ teasp chilli powder
A teaspoon of sun dried tomato paste from the jar
A teaspoon of black olive tapenade
2-3 roasted red peppers (available in jars from ethnic shops)
Grinding your own cumin or coriander with a spice grinder gives a dramatically more flavoursome spice. This is because ground spices, when stored, lose some of their health-giving, aromatic oils. Always store your ground spices in an airtight container in a dark place.
Why this is good for you:
Most shop-bought hummus is made using cheap, refined (toxic) oils instead of the traditional extra virgin olive oil which is a superfood. It stands to reason that making your own is head and shoulders above anything else in quality and freshness.
This is LOVELY! Unlike most gluten-free cakes this stays moist and delicious for days. Just don’t tell anyone that its high protein, gluten-free, almost grain-free and almost totally free of sugar. I got the original idea from a recipe on www.atastylovestory.com but it contained gluten and was packed with immune-disrupting sugar. So I adapted this recipe https://www.annacollins.ie/ultra-moist-chocolate-cake/ and the toppings in the other recipe. A triumph. And surprisingly easy!
I made the cake this Saturday, served it on Easter Sunday and it was still perfect (from the fridge) on Monday. Can we wait till Tuesday to polish off the rest. That’s the question….
For the sponges:
1 heaped plus 1 level tbs cocoa powder
1 heaped plus 1 level tbs rice flour
1 rounded tsp baking soda
1 x 400g tin of black beans, rinsed and drained
3 large eggs (or 4 medium)
140g xylitol or erythritol
1 espresso shot black coffee or strong dandelion coffee
½ tsp vanilla extract (if you’re gluten-free, avoid vanilla “essence”).
50ml almond or cow’s milk (or cherry juice)
5ml apple cider vinegar (if you are using cherry juice you don’t need this. Acid activates baking soda)
Pinch of Himalayan or Atlantic sea salt
Silicon or greaseproof paper
Butter or light olive oil for greasing the tin
2 x 25cm loose bottomed cake tins.
For the filling:
2 heaped tbs no-added sugar morello cherry jam. I love St Dalfour (sweetened with fruit juice) or Prunotto sour cherry jam (just 10% sugar instead of the usual 50% in most jams)
1 420g tin cherries in juice or light syrup
300-400ml whipping cream (use double cream if you prefer)
4 drops stevia (or 1 heaped tsp xylitol/erythritol)
½ tsp vanilla extract
30g dark chocolate, at least 80% cocoa solids
To make the sponges:
Preheat oven to 175C (160C fan).
Cut 2 circles of silicon/greaseproof paper the same size as the base of your cake tins. Grease and line the tins with the paper. Is the paper is greaseproof rather than silicon, grease the paper too.
Sieve the rice flour, cocoa and baking soda together into a bowl.
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is smooth. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture is runny. It’s supposed to be.
Divide the batter evenly between the 2 cake tines and bake18-20 minutes until a needle/knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Set aside to cool completely before removing from the tins.
To assemble the cake:
Drain the cherries, retaining the juice/syrup. Mix 100ml of it with the kirsch (the rest is good in cocktails).
Put each cooled sponge upside down on a separate plate, including the one you want to serve on. This makes it easier for the liquid to soak in fully. Spoon half the syrup/kirsch over the sponges. Leave to sink in. Add more if it’s all absorbed but don’t overload it.
Whip cream until thick, then add the stevia/erythritol/xylitol and vanilla extract. Whisk until voluminous but not too stiff to spread.
Set aside 12 of the drained cherries.
Spread the bottom layer of cake (on the serving plate) with the jam. Arrange the cherries on top (except the reserved 12).
Spread half the whipped cream in between and over the cherries. Everything will look rustic.
Carefully slide the top sponge layer into position on top and press down gently.
Use a palette knife to spread the remaining cream on top in big, puffy waves.
Grate the chocolate into curls generously over the top.
Arrange remaining cherries around the edge. Chill for an hour before serving.
Why this is better for you: Amazingly, theres very little grain in this cake and its high in protein from the eggs and black beans. This makes it suitable for moderate carb diets. Most cakes are sky-high in carbs (flour, sugar) and so are a real stressor on your metabolism.
Yes this cake has got lots of cream but for over 25 years nutrition science knows that eating cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease. It’s the oxidation (damage) done to cholesterol by high carb diets, nutrient deficiencies and metabolic stress that drives heart disease.
This isn’t a cake for every day because fresh, natural vegetables fruit are healthier choices than baked sweet treats. But sometimes you want CAKE!
Just invented this last week from what we had in the fridge. It’s LOVELY with its blend of salty, smokey and fresh flavours. Lovely with a fresh mixed salad. Make sure to buy actual feta which is made from ewe (sheep) or goat milk. Do try to avoid the nasty pitted olives in black water available in supermarkets – they have almost no flavour and are only black because of black food dye. If you want to save, get your black olives in middle Eastern shops where they’re great value.
I don’t add the mint until just before serving as it goes limp quickly.
1 packet (around 200g) feta, cut in bite sized cubes as small as you like
1 large aubergine
Heaped teaspoon (or more) ground coriander
3 dsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 dsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful un-pitted olives (ideally wrinkly dry black ones or kalamata)
Generous handful washed mint leaves
Turn on grill to high.
Slice an aubergine in 1cm (or a bit thinner) slices (disks or lengthways, whatever you prefer).
Put aubergine slices on grill, brush with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and sprinkle with a little ground coriander. Grill till golden while you assemble the other ingredients. Then turn and repeat the process. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cut into bite size pieces or strips (I use a scissors to do this quickly).
Into a large serving bowl put aubergine, olives, feta, EVOO, lemon juice/vinegar and a few generous grinds of black pepper and gently mix everything.
Just before serving chop the mint. Sprinkle it over the top or mix it in.
Why this is good for you (provided you’re not dairy-sensitive!): Goats and sheep’s cheese are high in protein and FAR more easy for humans to digest than cow. Modern (Jersey) cow’s milk contains A1 beta casein which is hard to digest. Goat and sheep milk contains 80% less of this problematic casein. Olives are a fermented food and contain beneficial bacteria to help your gut. Mint, like most herbs/spices, helps make your gut a hostile place for disease-causing bacteria and is also rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are natural plant compounds shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and hugely supportive of your health – gut, brain, skin and more. What’s not to like?
This is my current favourite way to use tofu or tempeh. I adapted it from Ottolenghi’s more complex recipe. My husband is a tofu-hater so when he disappears for a few days I always cook this. Keep in mind that unfermented soya products contain digestion-blocking proteins that damage your gut. So DO make sure to buy the fermented forms for this dish: tempeh or fermented tofu (it will say on the pack).
If you don’t have a small-bowl food processor, chop the chili finely, crush the garlic and use a pestle and mortar to bash the caraway seeds about as much as you can before mixing with the other spices and oil.
This is gorgeous served with cauliflower/broccoli “rice”, konjac noodles or brown basmati rice.
350g trimmed French (or use runner beans cut in 6cm bits)
Salt and black pepper
200g non-GMO tempeh or fermented tofu, cut into bite size cubes
A few sprigs of dill (small handful), destalked and roughly chopped
Small handful fresh coriander, destalked and roughly chopped
For the sauce:
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 green or red chili, deseeded (optional)
2 slightly rounded tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs caraway seeds
1.5 tsp ground cumin
½ level tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
2 tbs + a little extra avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs tomato puree
250ml water or leftover vegetable-steaming water (full of nutrients!)
Optional: 1 heaped tsp honey or non-toxic sweetener e.g. Dr Coy’s Stevia Erylite or xylitol (from good health stores)
Himalayan or sea salt
For the sauce put the garlic, spices, chili and 2 tbs oil in the small bowl of the food processer and blitz to a thick paste. You might need a touch more oil to bring it together.
Heat a pan on a medium heat and add a teaspoon more of avocado/olive oil and stir fry the garlic-spice mix for 30 seconds.
Then add the tomato puree, 250ml water and bring to the boil.
Stir in the honey or non-toxic sweetener, lime juice, generous pinch (1/4 a level tsp) salt and a few good grinds of black pepper.
Add the tempeh, turn down the heat, cover and simmer while you prep the green veg.
Steam the French/runner beans for around 2-3 minutes until the colour changes very slightly and they are softened but still have a bit of crunch.
Finally, just before serving, stir the herbs into the tofu and sauce, pile on top of your rice and enjoy.
Why this is good for you:
Spices are a powerhouse of antioxidants that help rebalance your gut bacteria in favour of the good guys. The good guys helps digest your food, repair and maintain your gut lining every minute of every day, and reduce inflammation in you. This has massive implications for your immune system, your gut health and even your mood. Yes, anxiety/depression states always involve brain inflammation. Type the name of just one spice into medline (the scientific journal resource) and you’ll find hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies.
This is another fantastic and quick recipe by Chetna Makan. Again I’ve taken out the toxic refined cooking oil and swapped in the better-for-you coconut oil. I’ve also added onions to bulk it up and add even more goodness for your long-term health. I’ve increased the quantity of sauce too, as I love sauce.
200ml natural full fat yoghurt (for SC diet use home made full fat kefir or 24-hour SCD yoghurt)
1/2 level tsp Himalayan/sea salt
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ level tsp chilli or (the milder) cayenne
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
300g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3cm pieces
1 onion, finely sliced or chopped
1 tbs virgin coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
20g fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped (a handful of whole coriander will give you enough).
1.Mix the yoghurt/kefir, salt, spices and garlic in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces, turn until well coated, then leave to marinate while you prepare the curry base. If you are planning ahead you can marinate these in the fridge overnight too.
2.Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and cumin seeds, a splash (about 1 tbs) of water, cover with a lid or plate and cook over a medium heat for five minutes,until softened, translucent but not brown.
3.Add the tomatoes, then the marinated chicken and any excess marinade, mix well, then bring to a boil, cover and cook over a medium to low heat for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with the coriander.
Serve with :
Low carb/SC diet: 2 cups broccoli rice per person or 1 cup cauliflower rice and 1 cup steamed greens per person.
This is DELICIOUS, and simple and fast at 15 mins cook time. Had it for dinner last week and SO enjoyed its warming aromatic spices. I swapped out the refined cooking oil in the original recipe by Chetna Makan for healthier virgin coconut oil which doesn’t mess with your metabolism. If you don’t like coconut oil you could also use avocado oil or at a push light olive oil. The first 2 oils are healthier.
You’ll find tinned no-added-sugar black eyed beans in health stores and Asian shops.
Serves 4 (I like to make this quantity to have some yummy leftovers for the freezer)
2 tbs virgin coconut oil
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 big garlic cloves, peeled and grated or crushed
2½cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
400g tin chopped tomatoes
½ level tsp salt
¼-½ level tsp chilli powder or the milder cayenne (if you don’t like heat, leave out)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
300g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced (white button mushrooms will do)
400ml tin full -fat coconut milk (organic brands, especially if you have any digestive issues at all)
2 x 400g tins black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed (or make your own – soak overnight 200g black eyed beans and boil hard until tender).
1.Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, 2 tbs oil and a tablespoon of water. Cover with a plate or lid (or tinfoil) and cook on medium heat until softened, translucent and no longer crunchy.
2.Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a minute, then pour in the tomatoes and cook on a low to medium heat for five minutes.
3.Stir in the salt and ground spices, followed by all the remaining ingredients, stir well and bring to a boil.
4.Cover, then leave to cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes. (If you have more time, cook it over over a lower heat for 30-40 minutes.).
Serve warm with:
SC Diet: squash wedges sprinkled with curry powder and roasted in the oven + 2 cups steamed greens per person – nice ones are broccoli, runner/green beans or cabbage/spring greens.
Medium carb: ½ cup cooked brown basmati rice (avoid for SC diet) + 2 cups steamed greens per person – nice ones are broccoli, runner/green beans or cabbage/spring greens.
Low carb (SC diet-friendly): broccoli rice or cauliflower rice (available frozen in supermarkets). Super simple how to cook instructions at https://www.annacollins.ie/cauliflower-rice/
Why this is good for you: Beans are a good source of protein while spices are powerful anti-inflammatories. Spices modify your gut bacteria in favour of the good, useful ones that control every (and I mean every) aspect of your health. Spices are more antioxidant gram for gram than any fruit or vegetable. Small quantities pack a powerful punch. Did you know that 1g turmeric twice a day is shown to reduce acid reflux (heartburn). Herbs and spices now have thousands (or maybe tens of thousands) of scientific studies confirming their actions on the human body. Whats not to like? A more interesting range of flavours in your meals AND massive benefits to your present and future health – digestive, mental, immune and so much more…