Saturday, 4 April 2015

Olive and Rosemary Soda Flax Foccacia- yeast free

This quick and easy bread packs a lot of flavour and nutrition: fibre from the flax and wholemeal flour, some complex carbs, vitamin E and iron too. As a trade-off for the health benefits, it's quite a divergence from traditional white and yeasted foccacias and not quite as fluffy-soft and tearable either, but the addition of olive oil, rosemary and olives makes it a really tasty addition to your lunchbox or dinner. Next time I make it, I'm going to add some sundried tomatoes as well for even more sunny Mediterranean flavours.

5 cups flour
5 rounded tsps baking powder
about 2 rounded tabs ground flax seeds
1./2 tsp seasalt
50ml extra virgin olive oil
water to mix
 rosemary sprigs, olives, sesame seeds/ pine nuts

  • Measure the flour, flax, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
  • Stir/ rub in the oil and add the water. The mixture should be a little stickier than chapatti dough, so that you need damp hands to handle it.
  • Pat it into shape on a warmed, oiled baking tray and stud with olives and rosemary sprigs. Scatter over sesame seeds/ pine nuts and a little flour. Score into wedges, as shown in the pictures.
  • Bake at 200C until lightly browned; at least 20 minutes.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Dairy Free Chocolate: Moo Free vs Asda Free From

Just for you dear readers, I ate not one, but two bars of dairy free chocolate- sigh- the things we bloggers have to do... ;-) Since it's Easter/ Spring chocolatefest time I thought I'd add my voice to all the other online chocolate reviews and tell you about some dairy free choc bars I came across this week. Both are available in supermarkets (Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Asda) and Moo Free can also be bought from independent outlets like health food shops as well as Holland and Barrett. 
Before I begin, I need to let you know that I have not been approached by either company with samples to review- more's the pity!- I just bought both bars, ate them and decided to blog about them. Consequently, you are getting a completely unbiased report.
Okay, now that's out of the way let's get down to the chocolate: The Moo Free Mini Moos weighs just 20g and was bought from Waitrose for the princely sum of 79p; ouch! (But it is organic and has the Vegan Society mark.) The Asda bar is 35g and priced at a more purse-friendly 45p. Obviously, if you're reading this some time after I posted it these prices may have changed. Both bars are an appealing shade of brown and not too dark. (See picture below.)
This shows the exact colour of both bars
I'm guessing you're interested in this kind of chocolate because you'd like a change from dark chocolate, lovely though that is, and I'm happy to say that neither bar is at all bitter. The Moo Free contains 45% cocoa, and the Asda bar 38%, but both tasted equally chocolatey to me. In fact, there's not very much difference in ingredients between both bars:
Moo Free: sugar (35%), cocoa butter, rice powder,cocoa mass, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin), natural flavourings.
Asda: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, rice syrup, inulin, coconut oil, rice flour, flavourings (natural), emulsifier (soya lecithin).
As you can see, both bars contain natural ingredients, the Moo Free being organic and soya free as well. Both are labelled as gluten free. In case you wondered, inulin is a form of carbohydrate found in roots. Unfortunately, neither bar was labelled as fair trade, so that's something both companies could work on.
Now the important bit: which bar was best? There wasn't much to choose between them, but I'd say overall that despite being very sweet, the Asda bar was the slightly better eating experience because it's in chunks you have to really chomp on, and you get more for your money too. The Moo Free was gone before I even realised I'd eaten it all, but it did have a lovely smooth mouthfeel and almost creamy aftertaste. I think I'll be buying the Asda bar again, but if you want to support a small company and an organic product then Moo Free is a delicious option.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Fresh this Month (and next): Pointed (hispi, sweetheart) Cabbage

 Cabbage, that much-dreaded ingredient of school dinners, is really a delicious, vibrant, versatile and nutritious vegetable, and right now in the Northern Hemisphere it's cheap and plentiful, both as Spring greens and pointed cabbage. Forget the soggy, watery boiled stuff they gave you at school: pointed- aka sweetheart or hispi- cabbage is sweet, tender and perfect for stir fries, casseroles, wraps; just about anything you want to do with it bar boiling. (There's no vegetable I know of on this Earth that can survive boiling with flavour and nutrients intact!)
Cabbages belong to the cruciferae, a family of veg named after the cross-shaped flowers, and which includes the mustards, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages and kales. They are all packed full of vitamin and mineral goodness, the kales in particular being classed as "superfoods", and pointed cabbage is no exception.

Cabbage has probably been cultivated in Europe for over 3000 years and, was used by the Ancient Egyptians as well as the Greeks. During the Middle Ages some of the forms which are recognisable today were developed.

Like all cabbage, pointed cabbage is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K and folate. It also contains plenty of dietary fibre: these are the main nutritional benefits of cabbage per100g (cooked) serving- the aforementioned nutrients are present at about 20% of RDA. There's also a "nutritionally significant" (whatever that means) amount of vitamin B6 in there too. And all this for just 16 calories per serving!
Cabbage not only feeds your body; it heals it too! It contains phytochemicals such as sulforaphane and other glucosinolates which are now thought to stimulate the body to produce detoxifying enzymes. Indole-3-carbinol, another phytochemical found in cabbage and all cruciferae, is currently being researched for anti-carcinogenic properties, since cabbage appears to protect against colon cancer.
Cabbage has long been used in natural medicine; I can vouch for its mastitis-soothing properties when applied as a hot poultice to the affected area. According to the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, cabbage could be used against bruising, sore eyes and even as a hangover cure. During the First World War cabbage leaf poultices were used to treat trench foot.

...So is coleslaw your favourite way to eat cabbage, or do you prefer it stir fried? Do you have any favourite cabbage recipes to share? Have you ever used cabbage leaves as medicine? -We want to know, so please feel free to leave a comment.