food that works

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A Parting word……

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 If you read my ‘about’ you know this blog was begun to fulfill a university assessment requirement. That part of my assessment is now complete.   Yay! 

It’s been fun and I’ve learnt a lot but regular blog writing is not something I can maintain. This quote from Erik Qualman in his book ‘Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business’, may clarify where I’m coming from

“Blogs are free like a puppy, not free like a beer. In order for them to grow strong and healthy, they require time

and care …you can anticipate a 30 to 90 minute commitment per day to run a succesful blog”

It’s not that I don’t have things to say but that unfortunately I don’t have 30 to 90 minutes a day to commit.

To those of you who have liked or commented on my blog or on Facebook – thank you so much. Positive feedback is always good. Thanks to those of you  have done so because you are my friend and wished to support me – I’m glad to have such awesome friends. If you don’t know me and you liked or commented – that is awesome too – thank you. I hope you found something useful for your gluten-free food journey.



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Chocolate Mmmm…

There are few people who don’t like chocolate. I find I can’t eat too much as it keeps me awake but I still like it.

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Last weekend I made some chocolate covered lychees with ginger stuffing for a bridal shower. Very yum and quite simple with only those 3 ingredients needed. My recipe came from ‘The Australian Women’s Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook’. Perhaps you have a copy too. (I googled and found lots of places to purchase including copies on ebay.)

gluten free fork

gluten free fork

I used fair trade chocolate because I was horrified a few years ago to learn that within much of the production of chocolate involved child slavery and the atrocities associated with such practices. By buying fair trade we can support those companies with more ethical practices and still enjoy the luxury of chocolate too.

gluten free fork

gluten free fork

If you have not heard of the slavery connected to chocolate or you have never investigated it, here are a few links for you to check out.

YouTube video ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate’ – a few years old but a good starting point:

World Vision’s slavery and chocolate page with some undated details on some chocolate companies and their slavery free status:

It isn’t a big step to switch to fair traded chocolate but it is a step that will contribute to making the world a fairer place. Even those companies whose true goal is making the most money are influenced by the dictates of the consumer – make your ‘voice’ count.

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Blackberry Ice cream – two ways – dairy free and more traditional

A few months ago we were driving along playing, ‘I spy with my little eye’ with our boys. Our then five-year old said, “I spy, my eye something white and happy.” I thought that was a good definition of ice cream. Blackberry ice cream, however, is pink and happy.

This first recipe is dairy free and should probably be called ice fruit instead of ice cream but that just doesn’t have the same connotation. It is delicious and completely guilt free too, so if you want to have ice cream for breakfast without qualms – you can!

Dairy free Black berry Ice cream

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3 frozen bananas

2 cups blackberries (can be fresh or frozen – fresh is a bit easier on your food processor)

Blend or process in blender or food processor until completely combined. Best served immediately. If you do re-freeze it – it will freeze very hard and will want at least ten minutes to sit next time you want it. Alternatively make popsicles with the left overs.

Black berry Ice cream – more traditional recipe

4 eggs

1/4 cup plus 2 dsp sugar ( I used rapadura, you can substitute with honey or other sugar )

600 ml pure cream

2 cups blackberries

1 dsp water

You can use the blackberries raw but I liked mine cooked. Place them in a saucepan with the water,  simmer until soft. Add the 2 dsp of sugar and simmer briefly again until sugar is dissolved.

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Separate the eggs and whip the whites until stiff. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites and whip it through. Whip the egg yolks into this mix.

Whip up the cream until it is thick.

Add the egg mix to the cream mix. Fold through the stewed blackberries.

Yum yum!

This makes enough to fill a four litre container with a little left over to give the kids and you a good taste testing pre-freezing. This will take about  six hours to freeze.  After that it will freeze fairly solid and you will need to rest it on the bench before serving or carve it with a knife. You could of course try in an ice cream maker, I never have, but I suspect all that extra churning might prevent the solid freezing.

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Chinese Chicken Soup

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To wrap up this mini-series of gluten-free Chinese meals, I thought I’d share one of my favourite meals, Chinese chicken soup. It has all the benefits of other types of chicken soup – at least according to my personal studies if not anything more official. It is the sort of meal you want when it is cold which Tassie is at present despite the calendar declaring summer. The sort of soup you crave when you might be coming down with something or you already have.

Chinese Chicken Soup

chicken carcass or pieces or if you like lots of chicken in your soup you can use a whole chicken. I prefer mine already roasted so that most of the fat is removed. I often take a whole chicken, remove the breasts for a stir fry meal, roast the remainder in the oven and freeze this until I want to make soup.

1 – 2 tbsp minced ginger

1 onion or a bunch of shallots

greens – a good bunch – usually whatever is in the garden or fridge, baby bok choy, Kale – use young leaves, baby spinach, even rocket, cut up finely.

small bunch coriander – cut finely leaving a little for garnish when serving

1 – 2 grated carrots

mushrooms – you can use the ordinary sort, sliced, but I really like black cloud ear mushrooms. These are available in dried form at a Chinese grocery.  You can use the whole ones or buy them already shredded as pictured. Use about 40 gms dry weight. Soak them for half an hour in just boiled water before adding to the soup. If you buy the whole ones you’ll need to cut them to the size you like prior to adding as a large one can swell up to almost plate size. They have a seaweed like texture and are often mistaken for that by the uninitiated.

prior to soaking

prior to soakingmushroom from bottom right in previous shot post soakingmushroom from bottom right in previous shot post soaking

1 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

salt or stock to taste (I use herbamare as a salt/stock replacement or make your own – recipe at


Place chicken carcass in large saucepan, cover with water, add ginger and onions (if using shallots, add these with the other vegetables later) and simmer for half and hour until chicken meat is coming away easily from carcass. Remove carcass and separate the meat from bones and other non edible bits.  Add all the vegetables and mushrooms, tamari, sauce and salt or stock and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Return meat to saucepan, stir through for a minute so. Good to go.

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Jiao zi – gluten free

Jiao zi  or Chinese dumplings are a common Asian food but one of the more tricky to make gluten-free.

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Jiao zi cooked on the street in Taiwan was really tempting. It was this temptation that got me trying to make a gluten free version. At first I made the mixture and wrapped it in rice paper – making something more akin to spring rolls than traditional jiao zi. Since then I’ve modified two recipes. The first pastry is for dumplings you intend to fry.  It isn’t too good if you want streamed ones. The second pastry is for steamed dumplings and isn’t as good for frying. Fillings can be of whatever you like, vegetarian or meat.

Frying pastry : my version is a modification of the one here (There are quite a few ideas on this site for gluten-free dumplings so you might like to have a look around)

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1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup besan flour

1 cup tapioca flour

1 1/4 cup boiling water

Mix flours together – a whisk is great for this. Add just boiled water and mix until dough is formed. Set aside, covered in plastic or a tea towel for 1/2 an hour before breaking into small balls and rolling out into rounds to make dumplings. Rolling out dumpling wrappers is an art that the skilled make look easy. Don’t expect gluten free pastry to behave like wheaten pastry, it just doesn’t have the elasticity that gluten gives to a wheat based version. That said, this first pastry is not too difficult to roll out. Roll it out on a large bread board or similar using tapioca flour to stop it sticking to your board. You really need to use a Chinese roller rather than a Western style one which are much too big for the job. You can use a piece of dowel about 2 1/2 cm in diameter and about 15 cm long or like me you can just borrow the one the kids have in the play dough. (Just wash it first. 🙂 ) I tend to shape these in the half moon shape and fry in a frypan in shallow oil, turning as they cook on the three sides.

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I also make them a bit larger than the traditional size – mostly because of the difficulty in making the pastry do as I want and also because I prefer more filling to my pastry.

Steaming pastry : This recipe is modified from here :

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2 cups tapioca flour

1 cup brown rice flour (you can use white – I just don’t normally have that in my pantry)

1 cup coconut cream

2 tbs olive oil


Mix together. Cook partly in a saucepan (non-stick is best). If you’ve ever made playdough – cook it to almost that consistency. Let sit for 1/2 hour before rolling out as for the frying pastry. This is even harder to form nicely than the first pastry so don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. You might notice that other recipes use xanthan or guar gum in gluten free pastry. I prefer not to use them for health reasons but they do improve the stretch of the pastry marginally so try it if you like.

Filling :

Fillings can be any meat and any vegetable you like. To make vegetarian, increase the vegetable content or use crumbled tofu in place of the meat.  Following is one of my preferred versions and this amount will do a batch of both the fried and steamed dumplings because you might want both. We usually do.

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700 gms chicken mince

1 baby bok choy – chopped finely

handful or coriander – chopped finely

3 or 4 large mushrooms – chopped finely

2 or 3 shallots – chopped finely

1 large carrot – grated

1/2 small capsicum – chopped finely

1 tbsp minced ginger

1 tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (gluten free)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 egg

salt to taste

Dipping Sauce :

One part sweet chilli sauce to one part tamari – we add this individually to our plates as we need.


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Gluten – free Asian food – Ginger Beef

We love Asian food. Thankfully these days it’s pretty easy to eat out gluten-free Asian and many Asian dishes lend themselves to gluten-free cooking.

In our house there are a few dishes that we eat pretty regularly to satisfy our Asian food cravings.  Today I’ll share with you a family favourite. It was one of my Mum’s recipes. Unfortunately I can’t say where she got it from.

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Chinese Ginger Beef

700 gms Sliced or diced beef ( I like mine sliced finely)

Marinade ingredients

1 tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)

2 tsp curry powder (keen’s of course!)

1 tbsp minced ginger (we like our ginger, if you are not so keen put a little less in)

1 tsp bicarb soda (this and the vinegar are the key ingredients in making the beef tender)

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp oil (I usually use olive but sesame gives a lovely flavour)

1 dsp honey

salt to taste

Mix all these ingredients in bowl and marinate overnight. If you are like me 🙂 you might not get to do this the night before. It really is better the longer you can marinate the mix – an hour or two is still better than not at all.

Slice up an onion or two depending on your preference.

Lightly fry the onion in a little oil in a fry pan. When soft, add the meat and brown quickly at high temp. Remove from heat.

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At this point you need to decide if you want to make an all in one dish with vegetables added or if you prefer to stir fry the vegetables separately. For ease and time reasons I usually make it as an all in one dish. What vegetables you use is variable so use what you have. For this meal pictured above I added:

1 red capsicum – sliced

1 large carrot – peeled and sliced

broccoli florets (about 1/2 and average head)- cut into small pieces

10 mushrooms – sliced

fresh ginger – cut finely – about 3 cm cubed worth

Stir fry your vegetables in the same pan that you cooked the meat in and remove.

To make sauce

Make up a second mix of the marinade mixture with half the minced ginger. Stir in the fry pan. Mix a heaped tbsp of tapioca flour (or GF cornflour) with a cup of water and stir into the mix over medium heat until the sauce thickens. At that point the meat and vegetables can be returned to the pan and once heated through it is ready to eat.

Serve with rice.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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Camping fish and chips

I hope your Christmas and New Year was wonderful.  I’ve been here: –

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I thought I’d share a camping meal with you. I meant to take left overs for our first meal but in the rush they were left behind so we bought fish. We had to make this meal twice since my 7 year old went fishing with his Dad and brought back a couple of fish too. Can you eat too much fish and chips?

Camping Fish and Chips with salad (gluten free with dairy free option)

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Peel potatoes (or just wash if they are organic and you like the skin on) and cut up.  I’ve cubed them but you can cut them however you like. Parboil them until just tender and fry them in a fry-pan with a little olive oil on a camper cooker. Cut the fish into fillets and dot with small pieces of butter (or coconut oil to make dairy free) and grill under the camper cooker until done. Serve with lemon wedge.

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Salad (for 4) :

Baby spinich – about 40 gms

bean sprouts – a handful

1/2 red capsicum – sliced

small carrot – peeled and sliced

1/2 cucumber – cut length ways and then cut into sections

handful grape tomatoes – sliced into halves

Toss salad ingredients together and add dressing if desired.  My favourite salad dressing is 1 part apple concentrate to 1 part apple cider vinegar. I keep it in a jar and just add as needed.