food that works

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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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Red and Green Pesto – gluten and dairy free

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Do you love pesto? I do. Especially when it’s made with basil.  Today I made the green pesto. I made it with rocket and coriander because that is what I have in my garden. I prefer basil but that’s a tricky plant to grow in my 42 degrees south garden without a glass house. My second choice for green pesto is coriander and I grow lots of coriander. Right now most of it is going to seed – it has lovely white flowers and will re-seed itself beautifully so I love it going to seed too. But going to seed coriander doesn’t supply my green pesto needs very well. You can even use parsley. This is how I made it today:

Green Pesto 

4 cups greenery (3 cups rocket and 1 cup coriander)

I 1/4 cups roasted almonds (I usually use cashews but I was out today)

juice of one lemon

salt to taste ( I like herbamare)

2 tbsp olive oil

Mix together in food processor until well blended. You might need to use a spatula to wipe down the sides of your processor part way through. Eat with crackers or vegetable slices or use in your favourite pesto dishes. Refrigerate.

I made the red pesto a couple of days ago. I’d being thinking for a couple of weeks I needed a red pesto recipe. Last week when I went to a Thermomix demo – lo and behold – red pesto. Thanks Genevieve! This is my approximation of Genevieve’s recipe:

Red Pesto

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 red capsicum – seeded and sliced in to segments

1 cup salted cashews

salt to taste

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Process in food processor until well combined. Use a spatula to wipe down sides of processor part way through. Enjoy! Refrigerate. Use as for green pesto.

The crackers in the photo above are Tahini & Wholegrain mustard crackers from EatDrinkPALEO and they are pretty good too.

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Two cheesecakes -both grain, dairy and cane sugar free

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In the middle of January my daughter is getting married. Family members of the groom are doing most of the catering for a garden tea party reception. Members of my family are the ones with the diet issues so we get to make the food we can eat.

For a while I’ve being eyeing the Raspberry cheesecake with chocolate crust over at Wholefood simply and so as a practice for the upcoming wedding, I made this for our church luncheon yesterday. Because we went strawberry picking at Sorell Fruit Farm last week, we used fresh strawberries rather than the frozen raspberries. It’s quite rich even though it has no added sweetener so a little goes a fair way. It has a reasonable firm texture so it doesn’t need freezing.

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Today I made this Mango Cheesecake from Jules Galloway. We’re saving it for our Christmas lunch though I cut and decorated this piece so I could share it with you. I know it’s yummy because two little boys and I licked the bowl. It’s a little less firm than the strawberry one above so it’s better frozen and then pulled from the freezer about 20 minutes prior to serving. I’ll be remaking this one for the wedding too though I might add some agar agar to firm it up a little. What are you making for Christmas dessert?

mini Christmas puddings

We invited friends over for dinner a couple of days ago. Between us we required gluten, chicken, fructose and dairy free food. It is hard to cater to everyone! They offered to bring a dessert which I readily accepted. They bought some mini-christmas puddings that looked pretty awesome but guess who couldn’t eat them! If you are like me sometimes not being able to eat something results in attempts to recreate it. The result was these

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Totally different to my friend’s recipe but similar look and they taste pretty awesome. I used a mini christmas pudding recipe from Wholefoodsimply. Instead of making them into little muffin cakes, I rolled them into balls and topped them with some homemade white chocolate from Bittersweet  (here the only change I made was to use coconut milk powder. This probably made the texture slightly grainier than intended but not noticeable atop the puddings.)  1/2 a glazed cherry atop the white chocolate. Hmm – yum, now if I can just hide them long enough to last more than a few days…