Banana Flapjacks

Sugar free gluten free banana flapjacksThis is the simplest recipe I’ve devised yet. It’s wholesome and satisfying and has zero refined sugar. Plus it’s an excellent way to use up brown overripe bananas, and porridge oats are super cheap! The slow releasing carbohydrates are great for keeping children satisfied until supper time. They also make a fantastic grab and go breakfast!

Sugar free gluten free banana flapjacks 2

Blend 2 over ripe bananas with a generous handful of dates, 2 tbsp of peanut butter and 100g of melted butter. Stir in 250g oats and press mixture into a lined 9 x 9 inch tin. Bake on gas mark 4 / 180 C/ 350F for 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting into 16 pieces. Store in an air tight tin or the fridge for extra freshness – delicious! Melissa loves to help so she can lick the bowl clean.

NB/ if you’re gluten free – make sure you use certified gluten free oats.

Feeding a family in the Summer holidays

Are you struggling to feed the family now that the Summer holidays are well under way? Many parents rely on School Dinners to offer a cooked meal for their children during term time. Now that you have to provide every single meal, it can get pretty pricey.

Here’s some tips on how to survive the holiday meal demands. I spoke to Kat Orman on the mid morning show at BBC Radio Oxford. Listen to the interview here….

What’s up for pickings in July?

July is one of the most abundant months for PYO and foraging.


raspberriesAs the strawberry season ends so the raspberry season begins! Vividly pink, juicy, fresh raspberries are a real late summer treat. Long Summer days in the UK help produce the most delicious berries. Get yourself down to one of my recommended PYO spots to sample some of the best raspberries in the country. Top tip – as with strawberries – sometimes you can buy ‘jam’ raspberries which are cheaper as they don’t look so pretty. Yet they make gorgeous purées served with yoghurt and are delicious in smoothies.

Beetroot and feta burgerBeetroot

Beetroot is an underrated vegetable that you usually find pickled in supermarkets. Yet this earthy sweet and vibrant purple root is delicious grated in the coleslaw, made into a feta and beetroot burger (recipe here) and even in Chocolate beetroot fairy cakes (recipe here) using the flesh to colour the icing a luscious pink.

Oxfordshire Icecream from Q GardensCherries

You all must have seen cherries being sold at the side of the road. Don’t miss out, you can get some real bargains, and they are juicy and sweet at this time of the year. Why not head down to Q Gardens in Steventon, nr Abingdon and pick your own. The also do home made cherry ice cream for a real treat!

From the hedgerow

Nettle pestoLook out for early blackberries. They start to juice up around now and make beautiful jam or blackberry and apple pie – yummy!

Elder-flowers are also in season and you can make a fragrant and refreshing cordial for next to nothing by steeping the flowers in sugar syrup for 24 hours (recipe to follow).

Melissa picking dandelionsDon’t forget to pick wild nettles and dandelion leaves to make your own iron rich pesto, sauté them in garlic and olive oil, or use them as a replacement for spinach in saag aloo – delicious!

Have you  been enjoying the pickings of July? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. Please drop me a line or leave me a comment.


Home made tortilla recipe

Melissa making gluten free tacosTortillas are such a flexible meal for the family. You can whip them up in 2 minutes and you’ll never buy shop bought again! They are perfect for a picnic lunch and used as a wrap with your favourite fillings. My daughter loves to make them, placing each dough ball in the cast iron press and making perfect little rounds.

I bought my cast iron press from Mexico – via E-bay – it really wasn’t expensive. It’s great for entertaining guests as makes good party food. Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (if you’re gluten free use Masa Harina – Mexican corn flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

    In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in water and oil. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes in the fridge.

    Melissa eating gluten free tacosDivide dough into 12 portions, and roll each portion into a little ball. I use a tortilla press, but you can easily use your hands or a rolling pin. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a disk. In a large non-stick skillet cook the tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. NB/ You don’t need any oil to do this.
    Serve with whatever filling you like. (I did a pulled pork, salsa and guacamole for Father’s day, but you could easily do re-fried beans and cheese for a delicious frugal lunch.


Beetroot and feta burger

Beetroot and feta burgerWe like to make a concious effort to eat less meat and more vegetable, but we do love a burger. So I thought I’d create a healthy meat-free burger that we could all enjoy. This week in the veggie box I got a bunch of beetroot.

Beetroot comes into season around this time and you can pick your own at Medley Manor Farm.

Usually I’d make beetroot into chocolate fairy cakes (see recipe here), but I thought for a change I’d make a dinner savoury delight. Beetroot’s are packed full of vitamins, minerals and protective antioxidants demonstrated by their beautiful colour. This recipe is super easy and can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes. Instead of a bun you can also use lettuce leaves, or get the mini buns for when you’re entertaining others children.

Here’s the recipe; Take a 150g tin of chickpeas, drain and mash them (or soak and cook your own – it’s much cheaper!). Add 200g of grated beetroot, 100g of flour (any flour works – for gluten free try rice or chickpea flour), 100g of crumbled feta, two eggs, 1 tbsp of horseradish sauce and handful of chopped coriander. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and then portion them into 4 burgers (or 8 little burgers for kids) with your hands. Grill the burgers for 5 minutes on each side and serve with a dollop of hummus or mayonnaise and some salad. Healthy and delicious!

Leftover veg Flat bread with Broad bean Mash

Leftover veg flatbread and broadbean mashThis recipe is perfect picnic food. Early Summer Broad beans make a lovely healthy dip and a good alternative to hummus that children and adults love. Plus the bread can be made by using any sad looking vegetables that have been forgotten at the back of the fridge. I used a savoy cabbage that I’d lost inspiration for, but you could easily use spring greens, beetroot, carrots or parsnips instead.

Cabbage has been touted as one of the worlds healthiest foods! It contains cancer fighting properties as well as the ability to lower cholesterol. Although it may make some people a bit windy, the juice of a cabbage has shown to cure stomach ulcers. We should all be including it in our diet every week.

For this recipe take 250g of grated cabbage (or any vegetable you prefer). Squeeze out as much moisture as possible and add 80g of plain flour, 1 egg, 1 tbsp of sunflower seeds, 30g of soft cheese and 2 tbsp of freshly chopped herbs from the garden such as rosemary, thyme or parsley.

Once combined, split the dough into 6 parts. Line a tray with baking paper, take a piece of dough and squash it onto the baking paper with a spatula or your fingers until it is a flat bread shape. Do this with 2 other pieces of dough and bake in the oven for 20 minutes on gas mark 5, 190C, 375F until golden brown.

Repeat with the last 3 pieces of dough. In the mean time shell 3 cups of broad beans, steam them for 5 minutes and blend them with a clove of garlic, some lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. When done, allow the bread to cool a little and serve with the Broad bean mash, some spring onions and cherry tomatoes. Delicious! Or store in the fridge and pop in the toaster when you’re ready to eat it.

Asparagus ENDS – mini quiche

Asparagus endsIt always make me sad when the asparagus season comes to an end. We’ve been picking our own from Rectory Farm at every opportunity. But there are many other PYO’s in Oxfordshire doing the same and all of them are worth a visit – read more on that here.

Towards the end of the season the asparagus ends begin to get tough. Not one for throwing things away I’ve been thinking about a recipe I could devise that uses up these delicious and nutritious ends that would have previously gone in the bin. I found that if you chop them up finely and sauté them in a little butter with onion and garlic, that they make a delicious quiche filling. If you got any leftover cheese – a scattering on top really makes these mini mouthfuls a wonderful summers picnic treat.

Here’s the recipe which makes 12 mini quiches

Asparagus ends mini quiche2oz/50g butter
4oz/100g plain flour
2fl oz milk
2 eggs
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
10 asparagus ends
50g cheese, grated

Method – Rub together the butter and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a few tsp of water and combine until you have a nice ball of pastry. Cover with cling film and put the pastry in the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.

Slice the asparagus ends into small disks and gently fry in a little butter or olive oil with a finely chopped white onion and some crushed garlic. This should take about 5 minutes. In a jug, whist the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper. Grate the cheese.

Roll out the pastry very thinly on a floured surface. Cut out circles from your pastry large enough to fit the muffin tin. Using some extra butter, grease your tins, and then sprinkle on a little flour. Gently press in a circle of pasty in to each space.

put a tsp of grated cheese at the bottom of each one. then add a little of the asparagus / onion filling. Now fill up the cases with the egg and milk mixture.

Cook for 12 – 15 minutes on 220C, 350F or Gas Mark 7. Allow to cook before removing, then serve with a fresh leaf salad. Yummy!