Yoghurt chicken curry

Yoghurt chicken curry

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.

For 2
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.

Medium carb (SC diet-friendly):  Steamed runner/green beans/green peas and squash/pumpkin wedges
I love this recipe https://www.annacollins.ie/indian-spiced-butternut-squash-or-pumpkin/

Medium carb (NOT for SC diet): 2 cups steamed runner/green beans + 1/2 cup boiled brown basmati rice per person

Quick black eyed bean & mushroom curry

Quick black eyed bean & mushroom curry

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…

SCD grain-free Christmas puddings

SCD grain-free Christmas puddings

Grain free SCD steamed Christmas puddings

I got this fantastic recipe from www.quirkycooking.com.au/ and its lovely.   You can do the fruit cooking and soaking the day before if you like.   Makes 10-12 mini puddings, depending on the size of your moulds

150g sultanas
80g dried sour cherries
100g currants or raisins, whichever you prefer
30g activated or raw blanched almonds, roughly chopped
200g freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange
40g ground almonds
20g coconut flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
55g coconut oil, melted but not hot
40g cooking apple, peeled & cored
2 eggs
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (bread/baking soda)

  1. Weigh dried fruit and almonds into a large saucepan and add the orange juice.  Cover and cook the fruit gently on stovetop for 20 minutes until everything has plumped up and absorbed the juice.  Remove to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Peel and grate the cooking apple to yield 40g.  In the food processor or a large bowl blitz or beat orange zest, almond meal, coconut flour, spices, salt, bicarbonate of soda, grated apple, eggs and coconut oil until amalgamated.  Add the cooled soaked fruit and nuts back to bowl
  3. Scoop mixture into small ramekins or miniature pudding basins, fill about ¾ full, cover with greaseproof paper and string, or tin foil, and steam as per traditional Christmas pudding method.
  4. Allow puddings to cool, covered, and store in fridge until needed.

Serve with :
Whipped coconut cream infused with a drop of vanilla extract (organic tinned coconut cream is free from gut-damaging emulsifiers).
My super-easy 3-ingredient cashew cream https://www.annacollins.ie/cashew-nut-cream/

SCD stuffing for your Christmas turkey

SCD stuffing for your Christmas turkey

I love this!  First tasted at Christmas in 1989 in Italy while I worked (briefly) as an au pair.  So many interesting new foods and flavours.  This one was a keeper.  If you are a foodie you will definitely enjoy…

Makes 600ml stuffing (enough to stuff the body cavity and neck of a 1.8kg bird) with about 1 cup of leftovers which you can use to make my delicious stuffed mackerel fillets for another dinner.  Another thing I like to do at Christmas is add a little bit of chicken bone broth to the leftover stuffing and bake in a parcel in the oven for around half an hour.   Give that similar gorgeous meaty flavour and moisture.

250g cooked peeled chestnuts
or
130g dried peeled chestnuts , soaked overnight, then boiled til tender, drained
1 heaped dsp fresh thyme leaves (or a 1 level tsp dried, but fresh is much nicer)
1 rounded dsp chopped sage
2 heaped tbs chopped parsley
A few good grinds of black pepper
1/4 level tsp Himalayan or Atlantic sea salt
60g onion, finely chopped so it cooks properly (1/2 a medium onion)
1 dsp virgin avocado oil, clarified butter, ghee or at a pinch light olive oil (all suitable for dairy-free diet), or regular butter if you eat dairy.

  1. Process or mash thoroughly the chestnuts until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs, tip into a bowl with the onion, herbs and seasoning.
  2. If using butter, melt it gently.  Add your butter or oil to the bowl and mix well.  This stuffing can be stored for a couple of days in the fridge before using

Why this is better for you:
Chestnuts are lower glycaemic index (lower sugar) than bread so are a much healthier alternative.  They also contain potassium, which helps your body neutralise the effects of eating too much meat at Christmas.   Fresh herbs are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, support friendly gut bacteria and are anti-ageing – good news especially at Christmas! 

SCD mince pie pastry case

SCD mince pie pastry case

This is perfect for your SC diet if you want to make a delicious pastry-based dessert.  I’ve adapted it for metric from the original Us recipe.  Thank you to Jen Brown for her original recipe at https://www.alifeofhappenstance.com/easy-almond-flour-pie-crust/

This case can be pre-baked up to two days before planning to fill it. Simply cover with tinfoil or eco-friendly wrap and store in the fridge.
If your system can handle dairy, butter (or better still, clarified butter) can be used in place of coconut oil.

240g blanched finely ground almond flour (I blitz ground almonds for a few minutes in the food processor to get it nice and fine)
½ teaspoon salt
55g melted coconut oil (make sure it’s not hot)
1 large egg
9″/23cm tart case/pie dish or deep pyrex plate (+ extra coconut oil to grease)

1. Preheat oven to 175C/160C fan and grease a 9 inch/ pie dish. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the melted coconut oil and egg. In a large bowl whisk the almond flour and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and use a rubber spatula or your hands to combine.
3. Form the dough into a ball and place in the center of the greased tart case. Use your hands to evenly press the dough into the bottom of the tin or dish.
4. Evenly press the dough up the sides of the tart case. If it seems a bit thinner in certain areas, simply take some dough from the thicker areas and press it where needed.
5. Once the dough has been pressed into the bottom and sides of the tart case, use your fingers to make sure the edge of the pastry is even all along the top. Then you can use a fork to press decorations into the crust or use your fingers to make a fluted design with the edge.
6. Use a fork to poke holes along the bottom and sides of the crust before placing on the middle rack of the oven and baking for 12 to 15 minutes. The case should be a very light golden brown.
7. Allow  to cool completely before filling.
SCD Christmas mincemeat and mince pies

SCD Christmas mincemeat and mince pies

Don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to Christmas and have started my baking already.  This recipe is the nicest mincemeat and doesn’t boil over during baking. It’s adapted from Rose Cousin’s recipe but I’ve adapted specially for the SC diet.  I’ve been making this for years because I love it.  Somehow high sugar gloopy mincemeat stopped doing it for me.  Store this mincemeat in a sterile glass jar.  If you intend to store for more than a week or two, allow the mincemeat to cool a little before adding a tablespoon of brandy/whiskey.   Mix well just before bottling.  You can sterilise jars by boiling the lids in water and heating the jars themselves to around 80C in the oven for 15 minutes.

Organic where possible:
450g peeled cored eating (not cooking) apples – Cox’s are fantastic for flavour
225g  unsulphured sultanas
225g unsulphured raisins
110g  currants or chopped unsulphured apricots
Rind and juice of 1 orange (if avoiding citrus, use apple juice instead)
1/2 level teaspoon allspice
1/2 level tsp Ceylon cinnamon
¼ tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
A little cloudy apple juice

1. Mix together all the ingredients in a large cooking pot with lid
2. Simmer very gently ½ hour
3. Taste and adjust the spice levels – I often like to add a bit more more cinnamon and allspice.

SCD pastry is hard to work so its best make 1 large pie base, pre-baked, then filled with your mincemeat and a lovely crumble topping before being baked again for a short time.   You can also treat the mincemeat just like a crumble – that is, put it in a pie dish or deep ovenproof plate, liberally sprinkle over the topping, bake until golden and serve with shipped additive-free coconut cream (from health shops).

Crumble topping: https://www.annacollins.ie/scd-crumble-topping-for-mince-pies/

Pastry base https://www.alifeofhappenstance.com/easy-almond-flour-pie-crust/

If you don’t like coconut oil  but are sensitive to dairy then you can use clarified butter for the pastry.  Make this by very gently heating the butter, skim off the foam on the top and chill in a tall drinking glass or jug, then allow to solidify.  You will use only the solid part to make your pastry.  Discard the white liquid part underneath and rinse off any that’s clinging to the solid butter fat.  This white liquid is where the problematic milk proteins and disaccharide sugars are found.  Most people with IBD can tolerate SMALL amounts of normal butter but large amounts (found in pastry) can just be too much.

When baking your mince pies
Bake 20-25 mins at 200C until golden
Put a baking try over the next rack in the oven so the pies cook evenly through.

Why this is (somewhat) better for you:
While I’d love to say this is a health-giving recipe I can’t really because its very high in natural sugars.  Although it doesn’t contain refined sugar it IS very high in natural sugars from the dried fruit.    BUT this mincemeat is free of low grade oils (like vegetable suet or sunflower oil) and refined sugar – both of which fire up inflammation in you.  If you choose organic dried fruit you avoid sulphur dioxide (preservative) that wreaks havoc on so many peoples digestion around Christmas time.  This preservative is converted by pathogenic bacteria in your bowel into irritating sulphites, which can cause gas, bloating and general unwellness in your gut.  Non-organic grapes (raisins etc.) are also very heavily contaminated with herbicides  that cause your gut to leak toxins and undigested food into your bloodstream.(increased intestinal permeability).  This process predisposes to and perpetuates inflammatory conditions from autoimmunity to mood issues and many more besides.   Pesticide residues in grapes damage the nerve supplying your gut and are linked to a range of neurological diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone).  Choosing food free of undesirable contaminants is a great step towards better health.  Here’s to a happy and a healthy Christmas.  I will certainly be enjoying healthier mince pies – probably far too many.

SCD crumble topping for Christmas mince pies

SCD crumble topping for Christmas mince pies

I love this crumble which I make often for apple crumble.  This quantity will top one 9 inch (23cm) diameter tart made in a pie dish or pyrex plate with possibly a little left over.  You want the topping to mostly cover the mincemeat so it doesn’t burn.  PS Sometimes I cheat on the topping, adding a few chopped hazelnuts or walnuts to the mix…

Pinch of Ceylon cinnamon (optional)
50g virgin coconut oil (or clarified butter, if you want dairy)
25g (teaspoon) runny honey
50g ground almonds
50g flaked almonds

1. If you have a food processor but the ingredients except the flaked almonds in a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Empty into another bowl and stir in the almonds.
If you don’t have a food processor, rub the ingredients together (except for the flaked almonds) by hand then stir in the flaked almonds.
2. Sprinkle evenly over the pre-baked pie case which you have filled with mincemeat and bake at 165c/180C fan oven until golden, taking care the pastry crust doesn’t burn.

Why these are better for you:
Because these pies don’t contain refined sugar (if you use my mincemeat recipe) they don’t immediately start to drain your body of nutrients like magnesium (for mood) or selenium (needed for fat-burning thyroid hormones).  The nuts, although cooked (and therefore no longer containing much in the way of healthy oils!) do contain protein, which helps prevent the dips and peaks in blood sugar that can make you feel tired or narky.   Coconut oil is not damaged by baking so its still healthy in the finished product.  The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are useful for energy levels as they are used directly by your body instead of being stored as fat in your cells.  Virgin coconut oil rules!!   Ceylon cinnamon (but not normal cassia cinnamon sold as “cinnamon”) helps your body regulate blood sugar.  This helps reduce the risk of peaks and troughs in energy, brain function and mood throughout the day.  It also helps reduce your likelihood of developing diabetes possibly because it modifies your gut bacteria.  Yes, your gut bacteria control EVERY aspect of your health from blood pressure, heart health to mood and immune function – not just your digestive health.

Rich and delicious SCD Christmas cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Rich and delicious SCD Christmas cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

I made this on Sunday and its delicious (I did a taste test).  It also happens to be gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free.  Do buy organic ingredients where possible especially for *raisins and sultanas.

I didn’t have the specified 10” tin so I used a 9” (23cm) one.  The cake was a bit taller and needed a little extra baking time.

350g ground almonds or almond flour
1 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
80ml date syrup (I left this out as I felt the cake mix was plenty sweet without it)
4 large eggs
5 tbs (75-80ml) runny or slightly warmed honey (so its liquid but not hot)
137g (150ml) coconut oil
5cm fresh ginger, peeled
Zest of 1 orange, organic if possible
1 medium cooking apple
6 tbs (95ml) whiskey (+ optional 100ml to “feed” the cake).
200g dried unsulphured apricots (these are brown, not bright orange)
200g raisins
200g sultanas
150g dates
100g flaked almonds
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract (not essence, which contains gluten)
2/3 level pink salt
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
1 rounded tsp ground ginger
1 level tsp ground allspice
½ level ground cardamom
½ level tsp ground cloves
75g blanched almonds
25cm/10” diameter cake tin with removable base
Brown paper + greaseproof paper + extra coconut oil to grease

  1. Prepare your tin.  Line the base and sides of tin with brown paper and greaseproof paper (oil the greaseproof with soft/melted coconut oil) allowing the brown paper to come at least 2” above top of tin.  Wrap an outer collar of brown paper around the tin to come up as high above the tin as the tin itself.  Secure with pins or paperclips. This outer collar and all the layers inside stops your cake burning at the edges before it’s cooked at the centre.
  2. Roughly chop the dried apricots and dates. Mix the chopped fruit with the raisins and sultanas and cover with the whiskey. Leave to soak while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, salt and ground spices.
  4. Add the honey, eggs, vanilla extract, date syrup and the zest of the orange to a food processor. Blend until combined.
  5. Making sure the coconut oil is liquid (melt to lukewarm if it isn’t) add this to the food processor and blend again thoroughly.
  6. Add the dry ingredients, mix till combined then empty the mix into a large mixing bowl.
  7. Peel the apple and ginger and grate into the bowl (use the fine grater for the ginger).
  8. Add the flaked almonds, the whiskey soaked fruits and stir until everything is evenly combined.
  9. Spoon into the tin and flatten the top. Tip: wet the side of your hand and use this to smooth the top to perfection.
  10. Decorate the top with blanched almonds embedded into the cake in a pretty pattern
  11. Bake in the oven for around 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean after being inserted.
  12. Allow to cool in the tin after removing the outer collar of brown paper.
  13. Once cool, remove from the tin leaving on the greaseproof paper.
  14. Place in an airtight container and optionally “feed” with whiskey every few days – about 5 times in all (I personally prefer my cakes without this additional feeding but it’s up to you).

Why this is better for you
This cake is free from refined sugars, toxic refined oils and other undesirables.  Did you know that when gluten (in “normal” cakes) hits your intestine it causes leaking of intestinal contents into your blood.  This happens to everyone, even people with no gluten sensitivity.  Toxins, bacterial cell fragments and undigested food spills into your circulation.  This causes increased inflammation (always present in anxiety, stress, mood issues, brain fog, skin issues, heart disease).  It also has negative impacts on your immune system.  Sugar in “normal” baking also increases inflammation and suppresses immunity.  Your body will thank you for ditching it.

While this cake is “healthier” its still high in (natural) sugars.   Unlike normal cake it does contain some protein (ground almonds) which helps slow down your body’s absorption of the sugars.  Amazingly, the sugars in dried fruit affect your blood sugar less than eating wheaten bread.  Whoever thought a piece of cake could be healthier than a piece of toast!  Take it handy though because too many sweet foods, even “healthy” ones, cause metabolic issues.

For more info on the toxic residues in “conventional” raisins, see https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/raisins.php

Tahini salad dressing

Tahini salad dressing

This is gorgeous Middle Eastern style dressing – creamy, tangy and moreish.  Drizzle it over a salad or grilled/roast fish or chicken.   If you want you can use a little less water or kefir to make this thicker and use as a dip.

1 rounded tbs light tahini (raw brand if possible, e.g. Carly’s)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbs lemon juice + 125ml cold water OR (instead of lemon + water) 150ml home made kefir
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Generous pinch Himalayan/sea salt
Flavour + health boosters: 1/2 tsp ground spice: sweet paprika, cumin or coriander.

In a mini food processor blend all the ingredients till blended. If you are doing this by hand get a decent size bowl, add the garlic and tahini and mix in just 1/4 of the liquid at a time. You are aiming for a consistency about the texture of double cream. You may need to add more water as you go to achieve this. The tahini will clump initially.  Just keep mixing, and adding more liquid if needed.

Why this is good for you:
Garlic and lemon are fantastic supporters of detoxification, a critical function for all aspects of your health.  Extra virgin olive oil keeps you fuller longer and aids weight loss (yes that IS correct) and is also rich in gut-helping immune-regulating vitamin E and polyphenols.  Kefir is tolerated by most dairy-sensitive people because its a pre-digested food.  The friendly bugs that manufacture kefir from milk break down the dairy sugar (lactose) and dairy protein (casein) that are the main trigger for dairy sensitivity reactions.   Tahini, if its raw, is a good source of healthy omega 6 oils.  Omega 6 is found in all raw nuts/seeds. 

Braised asparagus

Braised asparagus

I LOVE this and it takes less than 10 minutes to cook. Have it as a side, or sprinkle with my vegan Parmesan (recipe on blog) or grated Parmesan and enjoy as a starter. Asparagus is contains prebiotic fibre, which feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut. You can make this even simpler if you want, by simply steaming the asparagus, then serving sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil etc. You can also steam asparagus, cut it up, cool and pimp up a lunchtime salad with it.

For 2
1 large bunch green asparagus
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: Parmesan or my vegan Parmesan to sprinkle

1. Rinse asparagus. Then snap off the thick fibrous ends (you can keep to make veg stock if you like).
2. Heat a frying pan on medium heat, add about 2 dsp EVOO (you don’t have to be exact), the same amount of water, asparagus spears and a good grind of pepper.
3. Cover with a lid or plate and cook for around 3-4 minutes until the colour changes to bright green and soft enough for your taste.
4. Divide between 2 plates and if you’re using as a starter, sprinkle with the Parmesan.