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Tag Archives: dairy-free

Parsnip Soup

While my friends and family in Australia are trying to cope with heat rising above 40C, we’re snuggling together under blankets to keep warm.

We’re also trying to be healthier after the usual Christmas/New Year over-indulging, and soup continues to be an easy way to get Nicholas to eat a variety of vegetables (even if sometimes he HAS to drink it through a straw!).

Parsnip SoupPARSNIP SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, parsnips and carrots cook for about 4 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.

Add the garam masala and a little salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.

Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the parsnips and carrots are soft.

Take off the heat, toss in the parsley and purée until smooth (either in a food processor or using a hand blender). Check if you need to add any seasoning.

If the soup is too thick after puréeing, stir through some milk (or coconut milk).

Variations:

  • For a curried parsnip soup, replace the garam masala with curry powder
  • Add some grated ginger with the garlic for a little more zing

What dishes to you and your family eat to feel warm?

Dairy-free Orange Cake

I do love the lightness of dairy-free cakes and muffins, and there’s a lot less guilt when you eat them for breakfast or have several servings over the course of a day!

In coming up with this orange cake recipe, I researched Italian cake recipes as using olive oil is quite common. Italian cuisine doesn’t have the tradition of adding butter to cakes and a lot of Italians actually don’t like the heavy richness of butter in cakes. I do love the taste of butter, but am enjoying experimenting and adapting recipes to make them a bit healthier (or friendlier for lactose-intolerant friends). I also reduced the sugar content.

dairy-free orange cake

Experimenting with this recipe I liked having a bit more control over the lightness of the cake by using plain flour and adding my own amounts of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to the flour, but you can easily just use 2 cups of self-raising flour omitting the baking powder and bicarb.

My next experiment is to do a dairy-free mandarin version, and I’m sure a lemon one would be delicious too.

DAIRY-FREE ORANGE CAKE

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 50-60 mins

2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
2 medium-sized oranges
1/3 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar (for serving)

Preheat your oven to 170C and lightly grease a 22cm spring-form cake tin.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.

Cut a slice off the top and the bottom of each orange (to reduce the amount of peel in the cake) and discard the slices. Cut the oranges into quarters and discard any seeds.

Put the orange chunks in a food processor and blend until the rind is fairly evenly broken up but there is still some texture. Add the olive oil and blend a little.

Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until combined. Pour the mixture back into the large bowl you used for the flour.

Beat the eggs by hand until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Gently fold through the orange mixture.

Pour into your prepared cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Sprinkle with the icing sugar just before serving.

AlphaBakes LogoI’m linking this recipe to the AlphaBakes monthly challenge (this month it’s the letter ‘O’) jointly hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and Ros from The More than Occasional Baker.

National Cupcake Week

It’s National Cupcake Week which means you have the excuse to bake or eat as many as you want!

There are some wonderfully creative recipes on the official website, including gluten-free sticky toffee pudding cupcakes, mojito and ‘mocktail’ cupcakes, and even savoury korma cupcakes. For even more inspiration, here are some of my creations.

National Cupcake WeekLamington cupcakes

National Cupcake WeekLemon meringue cupcakes

National Cupcake WeekShaggy bear cupcakes

National Cupcake WeekGingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing

dairy-free chocolate cupcakesDairy-free chocolate cupcakes

dairy-free lime cupcakesDairy-free lime cupcakes

Dairy-free one-ingredient strawberry ice cream

Since discovering how easy it is to make banana ice cream by simply blending frozen banana until it becomes creamy, I’ve wanted to try other fruit flavours. However, living in the UK doesn’t usually lend itself to eating much summery food. But this glorious summer, yes!

Banana is the perfect fruit to use in a one-ingredient ice cream because it’s naturally creamy and high in sugar. Strawberries on the other hand have a high water content (that’s why frozen strawberries become mushy after defrosting) so can easily produce an icy consistency when blended. But I thought I’d give strawberry ice cream a go seeing as it’s Nicholas’ favourite ice cream flavour.

sugar-free strawberry ice cream

The frozen strawberries blend at a very similar speed to frozen banana and you need to regularly scrape down the sides of the bowl. The result using strawberries was definitely less creamy with a texture of ice cream verging on icy sorbetto. It was sweet enough for both Nicholas and me, but hubby (being Italian and therefore believing strawberries are never sweet enough on their own!) wasn’t so sure. If you’re not sure either, you could add a little honey, agave nectar or icing sugar while you’re blending.

I’ve since read adding a handful of frozen banana slices to the frozen strawberries adds creaminess and sweetness without taking away from the berry flavour. That’s definitely something I’ll try next time.

Like the banana version, it’s easier to blend the pieces of frozen fruit if they’ve been left to defrost for a couple of minutes. If the resulting ‘soft serve’ texture is too soft for you, put the blended mix into the freezer for 15 minutes or so for it to firm up.

If there’s any leftover ice cream, put it into a freezer-safe container for another day (letting it defrost for a couple of minutes and then reblending it before eating, or mush it up with the back of a spoon if you’re lazy like me). I’ve also poured leftovers into ice lolly moulds (sometimes also adding a layer of plain yogurt).

There are lots of other fruit I want to try this with. Jamie Oliver does a similar thing with mango in his 30-Minute Meals although he also adds yogurt, honey and lime juice.

DAIRY-FREE ONE-INGREDIENT STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM

Preparation time is cutting up the strawberries, waiting for them to freeze and then blending them.
A 300-400g punnet of strawberries makes about 4 adult servings.

Cut your strawberries into quarters (or halves if they’re small) and lay them on a tray covered with baking paper. Put in the freezer for a few hours until frozen. If you’re not going to use them immediately, put them in a bag after they’re frozen and keep in the freezer.

Put your frozen strawberry pieces into a food processor. Blend and blend, scraping down the sides, until it becomes creamy (about 5 mins). Don’t worry if you think it’s not going to get creamy, just be patient and keep blending.

Variations:

  • add a handful of sliced frozen banana for a creamier texture
  • freeze a variety of berries, not just strawberries
  • add a little honey, agave nectar or icing sugar for extra sweetness
  • add a little rose water as you’re blending

Other uses:

  • pour leftovers into ice lolly moulds, alternating with layers of plain yogurt

What fruits would you love to try making into healthier ice cream?

Dairy-free lime cupcakes

At the weekend I became a godmother! And I couldn’t be prouder of my gorgeous (and incredibly cheeky) godson, Lorenzo.

Before he was born, Lorenzo’s parents decided on a colour for his nursery, his pram, etc – lovely lime green. His mum even later incorporated the colour into her wedding dress (which was stunning, by the way). So when I was deciding what I could make for his christening party, I knew I had to include his colour somehow. Voila – lime cupcakes!

dairy-free lime cupcakes

Lorenzo’s papa is lactose-intolerant so I made them completely dairy-free. Even the frosting is dairy-free, topped with some green ‘Ls’ I cut out of ready to roll icing (you need to make these in advance so they can dry and harden).

I was aiming for a lovely marbled green and cream effect as you bit into each cupcake, but in my haste to make them, the green hue was more like a splodge in the centre! I’m sure you can have more success than me swirling the coloured batter through. Or let your kids have fun with different colours.

dairy-free lime cupcakes

This recipe is an adaption of my dairy-free chocolate cupcakes, which I’d adapted from Nigella Lawson’s chocolate olive oil cake. Using healthier olive oil is a great way to eliminate dairy from cakes, and the unanimous decision from the people who’ve tried my chocolate and lime dairy-free cupcakes is that they taste just like ‘normal’ cupcakes!

I used this recipe as the basis for my dairy-free icing, but it’s basically dairy-free spread beaten up with icing sugar to which you then add your choice of flavouring (and colouring if you want). The quantities below make a large amount of icing which is perfect if you want lovely big mountains of piped icing on top. If you just want to spread it on like me (I must learn how to properly pipe!), reduce the quantities. Using a dairy-free spread instead of butter also means the icing will be quite runny after you’ve beaten it; pop it into the fridge for a while to cool before icing your cupcakes.

DAIRY-FREE LIME CUPCAKES

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Uniced cupcakes can be frozen

200g caster sugar
150ml olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
3 eggs
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g self-raising flour

For the icing:
2/3 cup dairy-free spread
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 limes, zested and juiced
green food colouring (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C and line your cupcake tray with paper cases.

Cream the sugar, olive oil and eggs quite vigorously (about 3 minutes) until you have a pale creamy texture. Turn the speed of your beater or mixer down a little. Add the vanilla extract, lime zest and juice, beating until combined.

Slowly add the flour and gently mix until combined.

Put about 1/4 cup of the mixture into a small bowl and mix through a little food colouring.

Divide the rest of your uncoloured mixture evenly between the paper cases. Add a spoonful of your green mixture to each and swirl through using a skewer. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack while you make the icing. Briefly cream the dairy-free spread using a hand-held beater or mixer then slowly add the icing sugar a bit at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Add in half of the zest and juice, and taste. Keep adding a little more zest and juice, tasting as you go, until you’re happy with the flavour. Mix through the food colouring if using.

Have fun decorating your cakes.

Variations:

  • for dairy-free lemon cupcakes, replace the zest and juice of the 2 limes with the zest and juice of 1 lemon;
  • for an indulgent gluten-free squidgy dessert, substitute the flour with the same amount of ground almonds and instead of the icing, drizzle with a lime sugar syrup.

Dairy-free chocolate cupcakes

Here in the UK the weather is glorious (and what a difference that makes to everyone’s mood!). Although I’ve lived here for (hang on while I count…) almost eight years (EIGHT YEARS – where did that time go?!) and I’m half-British, I find it really difficult to do the very British thing of stripping down to summer clothes the instant the sun drags itself out. My head just needs time to adjust (and often by that time, ‘summer’ is over!).

But, what my friends and I are very good at is having barbecues to make the most of our limited sun exposure. Thankfully Nicholas, growing up in the UK, isn’t missing out on seeing the men folk standing around a sizzling barbecue, stubby in hand (how many of you are going to have to look that one up?!), tending the flames, while the women folk do pretty much everything else (and I wouldn’t have it any other way!).

diary-free chocolate cupcakes

I made these cupcakes last weekend for our friends’ barbecue. I’ve been wanting to try Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake for a while, especially as the barbecue-tending half of our dearest friends is lactose intolerant. The original recipe makes a dense and squidgy flourless cake (well it’s Nigella after all!) which I’m sure is amazing, but for a sunny day, after eating loads of meat, I wanted to make something a bit lighter. I also thought by the time we’d want dessert we’d be lazily enjoying the sun, not wanting to move, therefore ‘pop-in-the-mouth-without-effort’ cupcakes would be better than a whole cake 🙂

If you followed Nigella’s original recipe, using all ground almonds and no flour, these would make fabulous gooey individual puddings. They’re also easy enough, with lots of measuring and mixing, to get your little ones to help you make them.

diary-free chocolate cupcakes

DAIRY-FREE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Freezable

150ml olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
50g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
125ml boiling water
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
75g ground almonds
65g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170C and line your cupcake tray with paper cases.

In a small bowl or jug, whisk the sifted cocoa powder with the boiling water until you have a smooth paste. Whisk in the vanilla and leave to cool.

Cream the sugar, olive oil and eggs quite vigorously (about 3 minutes) until you have a pale creamy texture. Turn the speed of your beater or mixer down a little and pour in the cocoa paste, beating until combined.

Slowly add the flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and gently mix until combined.

Divide your mixture evenly between the paper cases and bake for 15-20 minutes (when you stick a skewer in to test, it should come out mainly clean possibly with some chocolate cake crumbs attached).

Eat warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar or not.

Variations:

  • for a gluton-free squidgy cupcake, substitute the flour with more ground almonds (140g in total).

Healthy homemade microwave popcorn

Making your own popcorn means you can snack away guilt-free whether you’re watching a movie or not. It’s healthy because unless you add other toppings, simple plain popcorn with a bit of salt is a low-calorie snack.

healthy microwave popcorn

Since learning how easy it is to make at home when I was a teenager, I’ve always made it in a pot on the stove. For making larger amounts, this is still the best way I think. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot, stir through 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels until they’re coated, put the lid on and put over a medium heat until the kernels start popping; shake the pot around putting it back on heat when the popping slows down; add salt if desired.

Of course you can buy prepackaged bags of popcorn kernels to go in the microwave. However, you’re paying lots of money for the packaging and often getting lots of added ingredients. Just buy a (much bigger) bag of simple kernels.

Making popcorn in the microwave is perfect for a quick snack or for when you just want a couple of small servings. This method uses a paper bag (think brown paper lunch bag), but you can also pop them in a large microwave-safe bowl with a plate over the top. Either way, be very careful opening the bag or bowl, keeping your fingers away from the escaping steam.

I’ve tried making microwave popcorn with oil and without. I’d encourage you to try both. Without the oil is definitely healthier, but it’s only a small amount and, for me, the taste is so much better with it.

But before we get popping…

WARNING: popcorn can be a choking hazard for babies, toddlers and even bigger children. Even if your little one has teeth, she may swallow rather than chew them. Large pieces of even the fluffiest popcorn can block a little one’s throat, and unpopped or half-popped kernels and the husks can also be very dangerous. The common advice is to not give popcorn to under twos, but some experts say avoid them until four years of age. When you think your little one is old enough to eat popcorn, break bigger pieces up, check for unpopped and half-popped kernels and husks, and have them eat sitting down and supervised.

HEALTHY HOMEMADE MICROWAVE POPCORN

Prep time: 2 mins
Cook time: 2 mins
Makes 1 adult serving

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 small clean paper bag such as a brown lunch bag
1/2 tsp olive oil (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)

If using oil, put it in a small bowl, add the popcorn kernels and salt (if using), and stir until the kernels are covered. If not using oil, skip to the next step.

Place the kernels in the bag. Fold the top over 2 or 3 times to close.

Place the bag in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes on high or until there’s more than 2 seconds between pops.

Be careful of the escaping steam when opening the bag.

Variations:

  • sprinkle over nutritional yeast for a low-calorie cheese flavour
  • add a pinch of cinnamon
  • add a pinch of garlic powder or onion salt

Tip: Take out the popped popcorn from the bag and microwave the unpopped kernels briefly again.