Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Bacon, Halloumi and Baby Roast Potato Salad

Ah, at long last. My food mojo is back. The mojo where I dream up random combinations and they make it into reality. I kind of dreamt this one up very vaguely based on the idea of a delicious Halloumi and steak salad we had back at our South African themed Christmas meal (my other half is from SA) and several times since too. I've taken the basics from it and changed it up a little - and made a heavenly salad in the process! This got a big thumbs up from my man (even though it was salad haha! and its low in FODMAP's and gluten free without any compromise on flavour!

The potatoes make this an easily gluten free meal - though you could swap out for another carby item or leave out altogether. Lemon and maple syrup may seem a bit of an odd combo in a salad but the lemon cuts through the sweetness and the slight smoke of the bacon complements the sweetness of the maple so well together - I've used this in a few other salads and it works a treat. And I am fully signed up to the capers club now - only took 34 years!! Plus I am definitely liking Halloumi now, its a bit like aubergine - cook it well its heaven - cook it bad, ah well yeah that will be hell then!!

Serves 2

120g Halloumi, 1cm dice
3 tsp garlic infused oil
3 unsmoked bacon rashers, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. cornflour
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. maple syrup
50g baby spinach
8 new potatoes
Black pepper
4-5 Basil leaves to garnish

Start by pre-heating the oven to about 200o. Coat the potatoes in a little of the oil, place in a shallow baking dish and roast for 45 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, coat the halloumi cubes in cornflour.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy and lift out onto paper. In the same pan, add the capers and tomatoes, fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often over a moderate heat until the tomatoes are starting to soften.

Push the tomatoes and capers to the side of the pan and add the prepared halloumi, fry without turning for 3 minutes or until golden and turn over and fry until golden all over. Stir in the lemon juice and maple syrup, coat everything well. Season with black pepper.

Place the spinach in a large serving bowl or plate. Halve the potatoes and place on top of the spinach, spoon over the bacon & halloumi. Scatter over the basil.

This is definitely a summer keeper! I love the salty little fried cubes of tasty cheese and they are weirdly addictive! Your salad may lack some depending how ahead you are with timing!!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Monday Meal Plan

This week I tried to get ahead by planning on Sunday but really struggled to get a plan together. We have a fridge and freezer full and yet I still couldn't decide what to cook or what I wanted to eat! I think it was being distracted by catching up with TV from the week - I did manage to pour some red wine into my water glass which was somewhat amusing and probably would of done better doing the plan with the radio on instead perhaps!

Some of the evenings are not finalised, towards the end of the week am catching up with a friend I met through night school a few years back - one drink may well turn into dinner! Also me and my boyfriend have not spent much time together with erratic work hours, so may also have a date night to the cinema. Perhaps that's why I am a bit reluctant to meal plan in full?

Last week was mostly on plan, not that I had blogged it but we had some highlights - a risotto of sorts made with buckwheat on Thursday was really good - so much its made it on to this weeks plan! It was packed with veg and tasted so good and fresh! The FODMAP is still mostly on plan - I did have a bit of an IBS flare earlier in the week which I think was a combination of eating out and a busy schedule! I'm due to see the dietitian again soon to discuss re-introduction..should be interesting!

Anyway - this week potentially will be:

Miso Aubergine, sticky sesame sweet potato + basmati rice 
Gammon buckwheat-otto, courgette, pepper 
Fish pie-salmon & basa, kale
B-pork tortellini
Pork Pad Thai 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Curried Corned Beef Hash - Low #FODMAP

As part of my dabbling with the #FODMAP diet, adapting my current repertoire of recipes is proving to be a thorough mixture of highs and lows, or as the famous Foreigner song goes 'In my life there's been heartache and pain, I don't know if I can face it again, Can't stop now, I've travelled so far, to change this lonely life'. Okay, so maybe lonely life is a little extreme - but faced with hunger, 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and near to tears trying to find something to eat you really do start to think that maybe the IBS wasn't really that bad.....shall I just get a nice warm and tasty pasty?!

Fortunately its not been all bad there has been highs in the form of actual whole days without stomach pain, which after 18 odd years is a revelation - and actually its super useful in identifying triggers. That comes with sadness though too. A cheeky fruit cider on Saturday afternoon left me questioning how much I really did enjoy its beautiful chilled fruitfulness!! I am almost at the end of the elimination phase despite the cider slippages- and I look forward to reintroduction with a mixture of joy at the thought of hot buttered avocado toast and also with some trepidation..!

So as promised a few weeks back - I promised to share some tasty recipes - admittedly there has not been as many show stoppers as I would have liked, however this is the first dish I had seconds of, which is a good sign! Adapting this from my main corned beef hash took a bit of thinking. Baked beans, Worcestershire sauce, onions and the garlic in its raw form were all off the menu; so how would I make it still taste good and be low in FODMAP's?! Admittedly its not lactose free - I added quite a bit of cheese but as my booklet assures me - most cheese, especially the hard ones are low, and therefore suitable... and discovering garlic oil was allowed has been a game changer!

Serves 3-4

1x 340g Corned Beef
1/2 stick celery, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 large white potatoes, diced (skin on or off as you prefer)
1/2 tsp turmeric
3tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
2 salad tomatoes
1 heaped tsp tomato puree
50g red Leicester cheese, grated
1 tsp butter
s&p to taste

Start by boiling the potatoes with the turmeric, drain well, mash well and add the butter, 1/3 of the cheese and 1 tbsp of the coriander. Season to taste and add put to one side. Pre-heat oven to 190o.

Heat the a non-stick frying pan until medium-hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and toast until they start to pop or smoke very lightly, add the oil and celery and fry for 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and fry for a further 5 minutes or until starting to go mushy, turning down the heat a notch. Add the corned beef and break down with a spatula and fry until browned lightly. Make a well in the middle and stir in the tomato puree and a splash of water to loosen and fry for a further 2-3 minutes or until well mixed, stir in the remaining coriander and season with black pepper.

Transfer into an oven proof dish, top with the prepared mash and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned nicely.

Serve with veg of your choice - we had roasted carrots with dwarf beans.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Monday Meal plan #FODMAP

So after a few interesting weeks adjusting to the first stage of the #FODMAP diet, I'm having less meltdowns, eating more delicious things and actually getting used to it! On the positive side it really has highlighted already a few foods that I probably should long term not make eye contact with- there has been admittedly a few weak moments to find that out! Financially I seemed to of spent more - one would think cutting out half the things I usually buy would mean spending less but in the interest of not entirely losing my sanity I have been trying out things instead - the amaranth porridge was definitely interesting but the cheesy baked millet was delicious and we are total converts to buckwheat mash!

We managed to stay fairly on plan last week, though the calamari was moved to Friday night and the sausages I will use another night, probably the weekend instead. Thursday was a wash out - couldn't decide what to eat and by the time I decided the tenant downstairs went into the kitchen at the exact moment and started cooking instead, so I had a FODMAP flapjack and B had a sausage from the takeaway counter! Very glam!

Eating out still is frankly a nightmare and Saturday night proved even more fun - I accepted a last minute dinner invite to a popular pizza chain and managed to find a shard of glass in my dinner which cut my lip. Last time I order a gluten free pizza base! No idea where it came from but certainly an unwanted surprise!

Two highlights from last week are:

GF Breaded mustardy Pork steaks with cheesy baked millet:
(the lemon was ginormous! Not fully FODMAP as bought the wrong GF breadcrumbs!)

The majority of my sauces are made from scratch - and previously always had garlic or onion in - so adjusting so not having them has been a challenge but the below was really good! The flavour profile is so different but in a good way! Lots of fresh coriander pimped it up perfectly, combined with a little grated carrot to start and sweeten the sauce, finished with smoked paprika and gently simmered for about 2 hours until perfect!

Smoky Tomato and fresh coriander sauce - garlic, onion free and #FODMAP friendly- so tasty!

This weeks dishes are all adapted to suit the FODMAP plan. Breakfast is the usual overnight oat's pots, I usually make up 5 on a Sunday night as part of my meal prep to make things easier! Lunches are mostly involving a combination of salad veg and suitable leftovers - this week am super busy working cross-sites so it will be a very portable feast!

Italian Baked eggs 
(a real favourite, make this one regularly but today's will be bean free to adapt!)

Corned beef hash, carrots and dwarf beans 
(Fancy some comfort food!)

Cheesy bacon GF pasta bake 
(Lots of cheese to use up!)

Smoked cod & squid Paella 
(Not had paella in ages, bought a small smoked cod fillet reduced to this will stretch it out!)

Eating out potentially!
(A nightmare on FODMAP but have chosen a pricy steak place!)

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Banana, Sultana and Choc Chip Muffins #FODMAP

Yesterday I was very lucky to spend it attending a full day workshop on Quality Improvement for healthcare, which working for the NHS as part of a project to improve patient safety it was super beneficial and very interesting. I am really lucky to work with a great bunch - and a great Trust which is committed to improving quality to benefit both us staff and patients. I knew the provided sandwich lunch would be a no go on FODMAP but I had planned ahead and took some leftover baked millet & veggies. However, the hardest part was in the afternoon when trays of amazing looking and smelling cakes appeared - there was glossy topped caramellos, fancy cupcakes and lots of other treats and not a single one was suitable! All I could think about was cake!!

So last night after dinner and still craving cake, I decided to try again with some FODMAP suitable baking, last weeks banana bread was not a huge hit but I decided to persevere with a the banana theme, mainly though as I had two very, very ripe ones to use up! After a rummage through my cookery books I dusted off a copy of 'the egg book'. Its not a book I've admittedly used very much but it does have a few good recipes inside... I chose the banana muffins recipe but tweaked it to be FODMAP friendly, also I increased the liquid to allow for the gluten free flour - which seems much thirstier, and changed the honey to maple syrup. I also had no ground almonds so subbed for ground rice too! Oh and I added some suitable dark chocolate chips and sultanas and left out the nutmeg!

The mixture looked quite sloppy and I easily filled 12 cases rather than the 10 stated! I didn't hold out much hope but was pleasantly surprised and it satisfied my cake longing! The resulting muffin was light and taste rather good even if they did stick super well to their paper cases! Oh and as ever I had great fun making a mess!

Make 12 muffins

225g gluten free plain flour (I used Dove's Farm)
3 tsp baking powder
25g ground rice
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g light soft brown sugar
2 large mashed bananas
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150ml soya milk, unsweetened
3 tbsp maple syrup
50g sultanas
50g dark chocolate chips (check labels for suitability)

Pre-heat oven to 190o

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ground rice together.

Separately mix together the eggs, banana, oil, milk and maple syrup. fold into the dry mixture gently and stir through the chocolate chips and sultanas, spoon into prepared muffin cases.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and a skewer comes away cleanly

Monday, 27 June 2016

Monday Meal Plan..... with FODMAP

Ah my sweet meal plan...You and me had such fun together... Sunday nights with a glass of wine, poring over cookbooks longingly gazing at the photos of all the delights to dream of, rummaging in the freezer and cupboards for inspiration....flicking through the never ending pile of recipes torn from magazines currently halfway between being filed in a binder or in a the pink tray under the sofa patiently waiting.. and then FODMAP came along.. like some wicked witch of the west... that despite consenting entirely to try it out... and knowing why I was doing it... well I never figured meal planning would go from a necessity to a staple but at the same time enough to hate meal planning!!

The best piece of advice I've received over doing FODMAP is focus on what you can eat as honestly, the no list is seemingly endless and I can see why people would struggle to get past the first day, yet alone week! I am currently sort of 3 weeks in - most days I have scraped it, some not so much. I am not sure if fortunately or unfortunately I have quickly realised I may never eat pasta in its normal form again and I really regret stock piling and bulk buying pretty much every pasta variety!! In a weak, tired moment last week I cooked up some ready made tortellini.. yeah .. not again...!! I am still making mistakes and discovering new things -who knew buckwheat mash could be so good? The jury is however still out on Amaranth and Millet caused a lot of budgie comments in the office!!

So this week, ha - its already nearly 9pm and dinners eaten - weekend flew by and I only planned tonight after getting home late from work (which is fun but crazy busy right now!!)- majority has been adapted to suit FODMAP diet:

Minced steak with chilli and soya sauce, lettuce wraps, basmati rice

GF breaded mustard coated pork fillets, roasted tomatoes with courgettes & millet

Pulled pork filled peppers, cheesy baked polenta

Calamari either fried or in seafood pancake form GF

GF sausages, buckwheat mash & veggies

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