Coconut banana pancakes

Coconut banana pancakes

Made these a few weeks ago and thought I’d better get them up here in time for Pancake Tuesday.  They are thicker than normal pancakes and really light.  I love to eat them for a weekend breakfast with a dairy-free coconut yoghurt and lots of thawed mixed berries.  Mix a few drops of pure stevia with yoghurt or berries if you like them sweeter.  Being a bit greedy, I made double quantity here but it was too much.  The coconut flour and eggs make these protein rich to give you slow burn energy.

For 4 pancakes to serve 4
(with a generous serving of berries and maybe some coconut yoghurt)

45g coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if you are gluten-sensitive avoid vanilla essence)
1 medium banana (with spots if you are on SC diet)
6 medium eggs
1/2 level teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon

  1. Blitz everything except the coconut flour in a blender until mixed up and no lumps.
  2. Add the coconut flour, blitz till mixed.
  3. Heat frying pan on medium heat, add a little coconut oil.  Use 1/4 of the batter for each of the pancakes.
  4. Serve with the yoghurt and berries.Variation: This is also lovely with apple stewed with Ceylon cinnamon.
SCD sundried tomato bread

SCD sundried tomato bread

I am having a craze for recipes that fit in with the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD).  The SCD is a lifesaver for so many people with Crohn’s and colitis that I had to start including some of the recipes here and eating them at home sometimes.  This bread is really lovely and very easy to make. Just tried it at the weekend with home-made baked beans for breakfast and a piece of fruit to follow.  Naturally I also smothered it in my home-made buttery spread for bread but you could use normal butter or ghee (clarified butter).  Wish I could say the recipe is my own, but I found it in the wonderful SC diet cookbook.  I did reduce the (I thought) excessive amount of salt from the original recipe and it still tasted great.  This bread is suitable for a grain-free ketogenic diet as well – AND IS TOTALLY DELICIOUS AND SATISFYING.

900g (2lb) loaf tin
2 large eggs  (if they are tiny, you could use 4)
230ml (1 cup) home made kefir or home-made natural yoghurt (see SC diet website)
28g clarified butter or ghee or (if you are not dairy sensitive) normal butter, melted
½ level teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 rounded teaspoon baking soda (“bread soda” is another name for this)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
385g almond flour (ground almonds are fine.  The finer ground the better – I whizzed mine in the food processor for a bit before adding the other ingredients)
12g (1/4 cup) chopped chives (do use these, they give a fab flavour – if you don’t have any you could use the green parts of spring onions chopped up finely)
14g finely chopped, dry, sun-dried tomatoes (with no additives if you are on SC diet)

1. Preheat oven to 170C (fan oven) or 195C otherwise.  Grease and bottom line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment.
2. Blend together all ingredients in a food processor then pour into the tin.
3. Bake in the oven for 45-55 mins until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
4. The bread, once cool, should keep well in a self seal bag or airtight container in the fridge for at least 5 days.

Why this is better for you:
Some people need to follow a grain-free diet in order to stay well.  This recipe is just the thing to satisfy the longing for bread.  This bread would be brilliant for anybody needing a low carbohydrate diet (e.g. people with diabetes, or people following a ketogenic diet to manage cancer).  Being baked, its naturally not quite as healthy as eating the nuts (almonds) raw.  But what the hey, sometimes you just want bread.  Because the bread is very low in carbohydrates (sugars) its a great substitute for the wheaten bread that can cause such huge dips in energy after lunch. And of  course its low GI and studies show low GI eating helps skin and hair health too.  You might wonder why I mention “dairy-free” when the recipe contains ghee/clarified butter – this is because when you clarify butter you remove the lactose (milk sugar) and casein (problematic milk protein) and so it becomes hypoallergenic.  Great news for anyone who is dairy sensitive.  If you have a true dairy allergy (throat swelling, anaphylactic shock) you will of course still want to steer clear of any contact with dairy products whatsoever, even during food preparation for others.

Asian gazpacho

Asian gazpacho

If you like both Thai food and Spanish gazpacho you will love this recipe by Domini Kemp.  I think it’s fantastic.  Have it as a filling snack, as a starter or with some chicken or fish and a little green salad for a main meal. If you don’t like cold soups, then this can be heated very gently until only just lukewarm.

For 4-6 servings

For the soup:
400ml tin full fat coconut milk (go for organic from health shops – free from chemical emulsifiers and BPA in tin linings)
1 large ripe avocado
2 large tomatoes, cut into rough chunks
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Big knob ginger
1 large tbs (25g) non-gmo miso paste from a jar or vacuum pack (if you are gluten-free then brown rice miso is best, or hatcho miso)
Juice of 2 limes and 2 lemons
1 courgette, sliced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
Big bunch each coriander and basil
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
Black pepper to taste

For garnish:
1 red onion, very finely chopped
Fresh coriander

  1. Blitz everything except the garnish ingredients in a liquidiser or food processor to form a smooth soup.
  2. Pour into bowls and sprinkle the finely chopped red onion and coriander on top.

Why this is great for you
The raw miso in this soup is packed with beneficial bacteria so important for your skin, digestion and even your mood.  Heating above 45C would destroy these good bacteria so the fact the soup is raw is brilliant. Beneficial bacteria help your body to clear used-up hormones such as testosterone and oestrogens, help repair your intestines and make digestive enzymes and even control your mood and how your skin looks.  Coriander, lemon, lime and garlic actively help your liver and gut clear normal (and abnormal) toxins out of your body. In our chemical-laden modern world, this is good news. Coconut milk contains capryllic acid, which, like raw garlic, helps to kill off excessive pathogenic yeasts (eg candida albicans).  Fresh coriander also binds to heavy metals (like mercury from dental fillings) and escorts them safely out of your body via your bowel.

Cauliflower (or broccoli) rice

Cauliflower (or broccoli) rice

You’ll already know my recipe for creamy cauliflower mash from this blog but I’m discovering even more ways to use this versatile vegetable.  My latest discovery is cauliflower “rice”.  It’s really simple to make and only takes 5 minutes to cook.  We substitute it for rice with our curries and chillies.  Yum – and you don’t feel drowsy afterwards.  You can rice lots of cauliflower at the same time and store it uncooked in self seal bags/airtight containers in the freezer.  To use, simply empty into the steamer (no need to thaw, just break it up with your hands) and steam away.  As the title implies, broccoli works just as well for making “rice”.  You can even buy frozen broccoli rice in some supermarkets.

There are two methods for cooking this.  One using a steamer, one using a pan.

For 4 large servings (steamed version)

1 large head cauliflower (about 750g)
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of Atlantic sea salt/Himalayan salt
Small knob (level tsp) virgin coconut oil or a splash of extra virgin olive oil

You will also need a food processor and a steamer or pan.

  1. Break the cauliflower into large florets and discard the large stalks (any more than around 2cm thick).
  2. In the food processor, pulse until the cauliflower particles are the size of grains of rice.
  3. Steamer version:
    Place in a steamer over boiling water.  Steam for 3-4 minutes until softened.  Drain well, stir in the oil and pinch of salt.
    Frying-pan version (richer, more flavoursome):
    Follow steps 1-2 then heat a frying pan or heavy bottomed saucepan on a medium heat.
    Add a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil, avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil and a splash of water (around 1 tbs). Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often (otherwise it sticks and burns).  If its too dry and is catching add a little more water.

Why this is amazing for you:
The advantage of cauliflower over rice is cauliflower doesn’t flood your body with more carbohydrates than you need.  Carbohydrates are foods made up mostly of sugars.  Potatoes, grains (even wholegrains!), fruit juices, certain fruits and of course sugar and honey are all high carbohydrate foods.  Switching to a moderate or low carbohydrate eating style is particularly useful if you want to resolve digestive problems or skin issues.  High carbohydrate eating styles make every health condition worse.  Reducing your carbohydrate foods can even slow or stop hair loss.  A good guideline for a moderate carbohydrate diet is for bread, potatoes, rice or pasta to make up no more than ¼ of your plate at lunch and your evening meal.  Cauliflower is not high in carbohydrates so makes a brilliant substitute for the normal potatoes or rice.  

Cauliflower contains sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, which help reduce excessive oestrogens in your body.  Research proves these have activity against prostate, breast and other hormone driven cancers.  Di-indolyl-methane (DIM) in cauliflower and broccoli is anti-bacterial, anti viral and helps balance your immune system.

Kipper with herby Mediterranean vegetables

Kipper with herby Mediterranean vegetables

This is a great breakfast (or any meal) and is super fast.  The kippers are left to stand in boiling water for a few minutes while you grill the courgettes and tomatoes, simple…

I like to remove the skin of the kipper before cooking because otherwise it causes the fish to curl up unattractively.  But if you don’t care about that, don’t bother.  You could also have the lovely vegetables more simply with a small smoked mackerel or trout fillet – no need for the pan of water.

1 small kipper (smoked herring) fillet, skin removed with a sharp knife
1 medium courgette, sliced lengthways into strips around ½ cm thick
2 medium tomatoes, halved, woody bit removed
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil the kettle.  While the kettle is heating up place a small pan on a medium heat to warm before putting in the kipper and pouring on enough boiling water to cover.   Take off the heat and leave to poach in the hot water for about 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile heat the grill.  Place the courgettes and tomatoes on a baking sheet or on the grill rack and cook until just softened.  You are not looking for everything to be squishy, just heated through and softened slightly.
3. Arrange on a plate, sprinkle with olive oil to taste and scatter the dried oregano over the tomatoes.
4. Serve with the kipper.

Why this is good for you:
Kippers are smoked herrings.  Because herrings are a wild cold water fish, they are rich in essential omega 3 fats you need for healthy skin and hair.  Omega 3 helps prevent your blood from clotting too much and this helps bring more blood and nutrients to the whole of your body.  Oregano, even dried, is high in antioxidants (provided you store it away from light and air) and has anti-fungal, anti-yeast and anti-microbial properties against bad bacteria in your gut.  “Bad” bacteria and yeast are a major cause of skin problems and weight issues.   They can be lowered, and good bacteria encouraged, by what you eat every day.  Tomatoes and courgettes are a rich source of beneficial fibre and (more) antioxidants, which protect our bodies from inflammation and delay the ageing process.   This breakfast is very light on carbohydrates (sugars) and free from grains so its super-healthy.

Mint pesto

Mint pesto

Mint pesto

A blob of this will turn your just-grilled or baked fish or chicken and some steamed vegetables into a feast.  It’s also lovely on a plain oatcake with (if you eat dairy) a few crumbled pieces of goat/sheep feta cheese on top.   You could also stir it into humous, to make it extra fancy.  Once of the things I love about these home-made pestos is they last a LOT longer than if you just leave the fresh herbs in the fridge.  The garlic and virgin olive oil in this one help preserve the mint.  My batch lasted 10 days in the fridge.  Don’t forget to cover the pesto in a layer of olive oil in the jar – this stops the air from making it go brown.   If you prefer, use all walnuts, or a mixture of seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower, to make the pesto.

30g almonds
15g walnuts
1 clove garlic, crushed
40g mint leaves (about 1 big bag)
20g parsley, stalks removed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for covering

1. Blitz everything together in a mini food processor until it’s as smooth as you like it. Personally I prefer it a bit “rustic” so I often blitz everything except the nuts, until smooth, and only add the nuts at the end, to retain a rough texture.  If it’s too thick for your liking, add a bit more olive oil.
2. Decant into a clean screw top glass jar.  If you are not going to use this straight away, add a layer of olive oil on top to stop everything going brown.  Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Why this is good for you:
Mint helps soothe your digestive system and reduce gas (flatulence!).  It  suppresses pathogenic (disease-causing bacteria) in your gut and also in your mouth (for fresher breath).  Garlic has similar anti-bacterial properties and preferentially encourages good bacteria to multiply.  This is all good news for anybody who wants to get their digestive system into tiptop shape, who has skin problems, or who has any inflammatory conditions.  Garlic also helps support good liver function which is a cornerstone of having good skin.   Raw extra virgin olive oil is a rich source of vitamin E.  Vitamin E “recycles” vitamin C as an antioxidant in your body, making it more effective.  Vitamin E is natures moisturiser and skin smoother.  It also helps reduce your tendency to allergies such as allergic dermatitis, hives, hay fever or food sensitivities.  Vitamin E helps keep your skin younger longer too. 

Flax bread (paleo linseed bread)

Flax bread (paleo linseed bread)

This bread is soft and moist and really filling.  It’s such a huge treat when you are off grains!  Because its high in protein and fibre (unlike normal breads) you don’t need to eat it with extra protein in order to avoid blood sugar dips and energy crashes.  Enjoy it with my special buttery spread for bread, with virgin coconut oil or organic butter (or clarified butter for dairy intolerant people).  If you want to increase your energy levels, use the coconut oil as a spread instead of butter (unlike butter, the MCT fraction of coconut oil – about 50% – goes straight into energy production)

Dry ingredients:
100g milled flax seeds.  Flax is another name for linseed.
20g ground almonds
½ level tsp Atlantic sea salt or Himalayan salt (NOT ordinary table salt which contains harmful additives)
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda (also called bread soda)

Plus, if you have it, one of the following
2 tsp dried oregano and 1 level tsp of paprika
1 level tsp Ceylon cinnamon and/or ½ level tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
Finely grated rind of organic lemon

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 cup (approx. 80ml) water, home made dairy kefir or non-dairy kefir*
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Turn on the oven to 150C (or 140C for fan)
2. Mix together all the dry ingredients.  In a separate larger bowl whisk or beat together the wet ingredients.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together well.
4. Line a 1lb/450g loaf tin (around 15 x 94 x 74cm) with greased parchment or greaseproof paper, pour in the mix and bake for 50-60 mins.
[If you only have a 2lb loaf tin (around 23 x 13 x 7cm) you can still use it but reduce the baking time to around 40 minutes.  The resulting loaf will be half the normal height].
5. The loaf is done when a needle or knife inserted into the thickest part of the bread comes out clean.  Remove from oven, remove paper and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate if you intend keeping it for more than 1-2 days.

For a deliciously moist courgette flax loaf reduce the amount of kefir/water to 50ml and add 1 medium courgette, finely grated, to the dry ingredients.

*In my tags for this recipe I say this bread is dairy-free, so how come kefir is allowed, when its usually made from milk?  This is because, if you make your own kefir properly at home, the problematic milk protein (casein) and lactose (milk sugar) have been broken down by the fermentation process.  Kefir “grains” hydrolyse (break down) casein, and digest lactose, turning it into lactic acid.  Good news all round, if you are recovering form dairy intolerance.  Kefir also contains over 20 different types of beneficial bacteria to help heal digestive issues.  Unsweetened non-dairy kefir can be a good option for shop-bought.

Why this is better for you
You may wonder why I mention kefir in a “dairy-free recipe”.  Kefir is tolerated by people with dairy intolerance because provided it is properly made (at home) it contains no lactose and no casein.  Lactose is the milk sugar that’s problematic in lactose intolerance.  Most yoghurts still contain lactose because they are not properly (fully) fermented.  Yoghurt you make at home will not contain lactose.  Casein is the milk protein that dairy intolerant people react to.  Kefir grains “hydrolyse” (digest) casein, leaving you able to eat kefir but not yoghurt, cheese, milk which all still contain casein.  This loaf avoids grains completely so its really low in carbohydrates.  If you are gluten intolerant or want to follow low GI, ketogenic, stoneage or paleo eating plana, it fits right in.  Research shows that if you want to maintain good skin, digestion and keep mentally sharp then low grain low carbohydrate way of eating is really important for you.  Flaxseeds are a really rich source of soluble fibre, which feeds good bacteria in your gut which helps your skin, your digestion, and even your brain function!!  I would recommend having this bread now and again, rather then every day.  This is because heating reduces the levels of beneficial oils in the ground flaxseeds.  All nuts and seeds have more benefits when you eat them raw or soaked, rather then cooked.  It’s still a million times better than sliced pan though!

Coriander pesto

Coriander pesto

This unctious, tangy pesto is one I’d call a real crowd-pleaser and people will think you spent hours making it!   Today we grilled some salmon darnes and had a huge dollop of this on the side with some steamed veg for a quick weekday dinner.  The pesto keeps for about a week in a clean airtight glass jar in the fridge.  It is fantastic served with some steamed carrots/pak choi/spinach/courgettes and a grilled or steamed piece of fish or chicken.  For a snack or decadent breakfast spread it thickly on some wholemeal gluten-free or (if you eat gluten) 100% rye 100% sourdough toast with perhaps some sliced tomato (and a little crumbled goat/sheeps feta chees if you eat dairy) on top.

For a generous jar with 6 servings

4 small green chillies, stalks removed (optional)
100g fresh coriander, stalks and leaves, washed and cut up in 2-3cm lengths
25-30g organic raw pumpkin seeds or half pumpkin half sunflower seeds (you could also use almonds or walnuts if you don’t have any seeds)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly cut up
Extra virgin olive oil (about 150ml)
Pinch of Himalayan/Atlantic sea salt
Juice of 2 limes (or use juice of a lemon if you cant get limes)

1. Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor, grind until smooth.
2. Add the olive oil as you go until you achieve a thick, consistency.  If you want a pouring consistency, add more oil.

Why this is good for you:
Fresh coriander  binds to toxic metals in your gut and gets them safely out of your body.  So if you have mercury dental fillings, for example, this is a great thing for you to eat.  Coriander and lemon juice  have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties to keep your skin clear, younger and fresher longer.  Lime or lemon juice also aids digestion at mealtimes.  As many people struggle to make enough digestive juice to fully break down their food, it can be a helpful addition to a meal.   Garlic helps kill gut infections such as candida overgrowth and parasites, which are REALLY common, even in Ireland! But garlic also encourages growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Harmful candida and parasites  cause many digestive problems, skin disorders and even mood problems that I make dealing with them a priority in nutrition clinic. Extra virgin raw olive oil is also packed with antioxidant vitamin E, which helps reduce your tendancy to allergy as well as moisturising your skin from within.  Eating this pesto helps balance your gut bacteria in favour of the good, helpful ones.