Monday, March 5, 2012

Balsamic Feta and Tomato Wheels - Gluten Free

These are a wonderful inexpensive side dish for entertaining or a tasty accompaniment to a variety of mains. It's also a good way to use up any stale gluten free bread you have lying around as it soaks up all the wonderful juices that release during cooking.  You can easily omit the bread crumbs if you don't have them.  It will still turn out amazingly well.

1 medium to large marrow or zuchinni
Red and yellow cherry tomatoes, organic and good quality!
Bit of Olive Oil
Bit of Balsamic Vinegar
Feta Cheese (1/2 package or so)
Sprinkle of gluten free breadcrumbs* optional
Fresh Basil
Salt to taste

Line a baking pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375C or around 200F. Then cut the marrow approx 3 inch thick slices and hollow out the mushy centers, leaving only the firm flesh.   Depending on the size of the marrow, you should be left with six or seven large rings. 

Stuff each ring with 3-4 whole cherry tomatoes, a bit of basil and a light sprinkle of breadcrumbs.  Drizzle with olive oil and add about 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar to each wheel.  Finish with a pinch of salt and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from oven and add about one or two medium/large size chunks of feta cheese into each wheel.  Place the rings back into oven and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the veggies look cooked.

Remove from oven and finish with another drizzle of olive oil, balsamic reduction* (optional) and fresh chopped basil.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Skinny Carrot Muffins - Gluten Free, Dairy Free

I'm slowly trying to ease myself back into eating super healthy so I thought this would be a great way to get back into the swing of things.  These muffins are made with ground almonds and olive oil, instead of flour and butter.  I also used a new sugar/stevia blended sugar product in the UK from Tate+Lyle.  Stevia has been readily available in other counties but has just been approved for use in the UK.

For those of you who are not familiar with Stevia, it's a natural sweetener that comes from Stevia plants.  Stevia will not raise blood sugar levels and is pretty much calorie free.  It's extremely sweet so you don't need to use very much of it. It does have a bit of an unusual aftertaste but not unpleasant. It's a way better alternative to artificial sweeteners (in my opinion).

If you are not too concerned with sugar, just use the real deal and you'll still have a yummy snack to enjoy with your morning coffee.
2 medium grated carrots
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dark rum
2/3 cup sugar or 1/3 cup Sugar/Stevia blend.
1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP olive oil
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 TBSP (9oz) ground almonds
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
½ lemon finely grated zest and juice
pinch of salt
handful of pumpkin seeds - raw and unsalted
Preheat over to 180F or 350C.

Peel and finely grate carrots, being sure to absorb any excess water with a paper towel.

Place raisins in a microwave safe dish along with the rum and microwave on high for about 30 seconds.  Let sit.

With an electric mixer, beat together oil, sugar and eggs until light and airy.  It's the air from the eggs that will make this cake rise.  Carefully fold in ground almonds, carrots, raisins with reserved rum, nutmeg, vanilla, lemon zest/juice and salt.  If your batter is on the runny side, add a bit more almonds.

Using a large muffin pan, line with paper muffin holders and fill each about 3/4 full.  Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake for approx 35 minutes or until brown.  Use the toothpick test to see if they are done - toothpick should come out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!