Best ever potato salad (Greek style)

Best ever potato salad (Greek style)

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.

For 4
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!!

Hummus (or houmous?)

Hummus (or houmous?)

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
OR
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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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)

Tip:

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. 

Tofu and French beans with chraimeh sauce

Tofu and French beans with chraimeh sauce

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.

For 2
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)
2 limes
Black pepper
Himalayan or sea salt

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Then add the tomato puree, 250ml water and bring to the boil.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the tempeh, turn down the heat, cover and simmer while you prep the green veg.
  6. 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.
  7. Finally, just before serving, stir the herbs into the tofu and sauce, pile on top of your rice and enjoy.

Serve with:
Low carb:  Cauliflower or broccoli rice https://www.annacollins.ie/cauliflower-rice/ or konjac noodles from Asian stores.
Medium carb: brown basmati rice cooked with a generous pinch of turmeric

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. 

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…

Dairy-free Gluten-free Sugar-free Christmas Stollen

Dairy-free Gluten-free Sugar-free Christmas Stollen

Before I found out that I was coeliac I LOVED the occasional slice of Stollen (I’m a sucker for marzipan in cakes).  It’s been a decade since I’ve eaten stollen.  Most commercial gluten-free ones are loaded with energy-sapping ingredients like sugar, corn, vegetables oil and emulsifiers.   So this year I went on the hunt for a decent GF recipe.

I made this last week by slightly adapting the lovely www.rosielovestea.com recipe by Cindy Jarvis (hope you don’t mind, Cindy, your photo was better than mine so I borrowed it!).  A few changes like avoiding palm shortening and sugar-laden marzipan and adjusting the oven temperature to the traditional 160C for fan oven.  It’s big and gorgeous but nonetheless two of us demolished in over 5 days.

Get your fancy flours in and your marzipan made in advance.  I didn’t.  So the whole thing became a bit of a production on the day.

20 servings
Prep time: 90 mins Cook time: 1 hour

300g Bobs Red Mill Paleo Flour or make your own easy flour blend by mixing 2 cups almond flour (or finely ground almonds), 1 cup arrowroot powder, ½ cup coconut flour and ½ cup tapioca flour)
240g (1 cup) tinned coconut whipping cream (Biona and Amaizin are toxin-free)
50g coconut oil at room temperature (use butter if you’re not dairy-free)
2 large eggs
2 tbs of Honey/agave/maple Syrup
2 tbs grated lemon zest
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (PS “vanilla essence” contains gluten!)
Pinch of salt
150g sultanas
55g flaked almonds
225g marzipan – for recipe see https://www.annacollins.ie/almond-paste-marzipan/
1 cup of no added sugar jam (Follain/St Dalfour raspberry is good) or home-made raspberry chia jam like this one  https://www.annacollins.ie/10-minute-chia-seed-jam-raspberry-strawberry-blueberry-or/
Optional (for a glistening snow-like effect on top):
1 tbs melted coconut oil + 2 tablespoons of arrowroot Powder

  1. In a food processor, combine coconut whipping cream, 50g coconut oil, eggs & vanilla extract.
  2. Next, add paleo flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined and pastry-like.  You want it firm enough it will hold its shape when you roll it out and roll up with the fillings inside.  If your dough is too runny, sprinkle a little more flour in.
  3. Add the lemon zest, sultanas and flaked almonds and gently combine.
  4. Turn out onto a plate or bowl, cover and place in the fridge for around 1 hour
  5. Preheat oven to  175C/fan 160C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.While the oven is heating, take the dough from the fridge. Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough to roughly 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Cut the marzipan into 3 pieces, roll into sausage shapes and lay evenly on the dough.
  7. Spoon out the jam in between the marzipan pieces.
  8. Carefully roll up the dough, tuck in the edges and gently place onto your baking sheet. Put in the oven for 60 minutes. Keep an eye on your stollen so that it doesn’t brown too quickly. If this is the case, cover with foil for the remaining time.
  9. The stollen will be ready when golden brown and an inserted skewer will come out clean.
  10. Melt your 1 tbs coconut oil, brush over the top and then dust with arrowroot powder for a glistening snowy effect.
  11. Leave too cool completely (overnight preferably) before cutting into and serving.
  12. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Why this is better for you:
OK so you know that raw nuts are better for you than cooked.  And that most of our food should be vegetables and some fruit.  But sometimes you just WANT CAKE!  Because this is high protein (almonds) and sugar-free so won’t derail blood sugar and immunity like sugar and refined flours do.

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 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.

Super simple roast cauliflower

Super simple roast cauliflower

I love this and I’ve made it so many times now I don’t need a recipe.  Make it as cauliflower “steaks” or florets (a bit faster).
If you prefer an Indian vibe use a spice blend of 1 level tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric alongside the pepper and salt.

1 whole cauliflower, green leaves removed
1 heaped tsp ground sumac or sweet paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Pink (Himalayan) salt
Extra virgin olive oil (about 2-3 tbs)

Roast cauliflower “steaks”
Preheat oven to 215c/200C fan
With the cauliflower standing on its stalk, slice it downwards into 1.5-2cm slices.  You’ll get 4-5 good “steaks” and some shards.
Brush the roasting tin with extra virgin olive oil lay the cauliflower slices on top rubbing them around a bit to coat with the oil without breaking them up.
Brush the tops with olive oil, sprinkle with the sumac/paprika, lots of freshly ground black pepper and a generous pinch of salt.
Roast 15-20 mins at 200C. It’s done when the edges are starting to char.

Roast cauliflower florets
Take out central thick stalk from the cauliflower and break into small florets.
Put in the roasting dish, drizzle on extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle on your spices, pepper and salt and toss to coat.
Roast 10-15 mins at 220c/fan 200c.
Its done when the edges are starting to char.

If you feel like a fancier recipe with a delicious middle eastern dressing go to my blog post https://www.annacollins.ie/oven-roasted-cauliflower-green-bean-salad/