Saturday, 21 December 2013

The easiest tomato Soup (could be Heinz!)

My kids loved Heinz tomato soup.  I still don't think they have realised that what I am giving them is not tomato soup!

People on a healing diet are often advised to have soup or stock at least once a day.  My children are not going to have a cup of stock with their dinner, however much bribery is involved.  However they will have a cup of this soup.  Once you are in the routine of having stock in the fridge this is an easy lunch or a good gap filler after school.

You can use any home-made stock.  We started with chicken as that gives the cleanest taste.  Now the kids are more accustomed we use beef stock and lamb stock for a deeper flavour.  Initially I used to add a spoonful of honey and a splash of cider vinegar to truly get that 'Heinz' taste.  Now we just have it plain.

My daughter likes it plain.  My son likes grated parmesan on the top.  This goes well with Lois Lang bread, plain crackers or chicken wings.  You could also toast almond or cashew bread and make croutons (but I am never that organised!)


An equal measure of any home-made stock and passata (around 750ml  of each will serve 4)
Honey to taste
Cider vinegar to taste
Salt and pepper


  • Pour the stock and passata into a pan.  Add honey and vinegar if required 
  • Bring to the boil then simmer for at least 20 minutes - the longer you simmer the thicker soup you will have. 
  • Season in the pan or at the table

Spicy fried 'rice' (aka cauliflower but don't tell the kids)

When I originally wrote this post we were grain free - we now have rice again but still enjoy cauliflower rice as a lighter alternative.

Rice was always one of our favourites and fried rice was a weekly staple.  When I saw you could make mock rice with cauliflower I never believed this would fool my kids. However due to the addition of peas and spices they have never guessed it is vegetable based, let alone the dreaded cauliflower. Although it is called spicy rice it simply has flavour - there is no off putting hotness.  However if you are all hardened curry fans you could up the curry powder or add in some chillies.

It does require a bit of faffing about getting the water out of the cauliflower but honestly, its worth it when the kids eat it all and ask for more!

I have specified when to add curry powder, peas etc but have often forgot the order when trying to cook and do homework with kids and it still works fine.  The most important thing is to ensure the onions are soft before adding the cauliflower and not being shy with the oil. (It's a very healthy oil and a good way to get the right kind of calories into kids)

What I love about this dish is you can very easily serve the kids and then reheat later for adults, throwing in some additional chillies or serving with a chilli sauce for more adult palates.  It goes well with roast chicken, chops, even oily fish like mackerel and salmon.

We make it using coconut oil.  If you are not following GAPS  you could use olive oil (be careful with the heat)

We use a ready made curry powder because we can buy it from a local store where we trust it has no hidden ingredients.


1 cauliflower
1 onion, chopped (can use red or white but my kids object to red)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp of medium curry powder
Peas (enough for a decent portion per person)
Salt and pepper to taste
Coconut oil for frying

1.  Wash and dry the cauliflower.  Whizz it up in food processor
2.  Using kitchen paper or a clean tea towel pat the cauliflower to remove some water
3.  Heat at least 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a wok. Once hot reduce to a low to medium heat
4.  Fry the onion for a few minutes until it is starting to go translucent.  Add the garlic and the curry powder and add for a few minutes.
5.  When the onions are soft add in the cauliflower.  You may need to add more oil. Cook for 5 minutes.  In another pan bring some peas to the boil and then drain.
6 Add the peas to the cauliflower and season.
7. Cook for another few minutes until the cauliflower tastes soft and cooked (I have found this can vary from cauliflower to cauliflower and heat used etc so it  is always best to go with what tastes right rather than rely on an exact timing)

Hummus (Haricot bean instead of chick peas)

  • Hummus is such a useful dish - it can be put in packed lunches, served with chicken, used at parties etc.  So I was gutted when I realised GAPS meant no chickpeas, no hummus.  However I then came across some recipes for white bean hummus and realised it is easy to adapt the recipe and to use 'legal' haricot beans.  If you are okay with chickpeas just replace the haricot beans with chick peas 

It is always best to pre-soak beans and is essential if you are on GAPS /SCD.   Although not a big job it is a fag to remember to soak things so this recipe will make enough hummus for a couple of weeks (I split it into 3 and freeze two batches).  You could just use half the ingredients for a smaller batch or to test out the recipe.

To soak beans:
Stick 400g of beans in a large dish, fill with water.   Soak for 24 hours, replacing the water about half way through.  Thoroughly rinse the beans before soaking

To cook beans:
It should tell you on packaging how long beans need to be cooked for. WIth haricot beans its at least an hour. 

  • 400g cooked and drained haricot beans 
  • 4 tbsp of tahini
  • 3 garlic gloves,crushed
  • Juice of  2 lemons
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp of cumin 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250ml olive oil
  • Paprika 


  • Blend all the ingredients except for olive oil and paprika in a blender. If you or your kids like your hummus more bland you could start with a little less garlic and cumin and taste first.  
  • Keeping the blender running add the olive oil in slowly.
  • Store in the fridge or freezer 
  • Before serving garnish with a sprinkle of paprika (if the hummus has been frozen you may also want to add a little extra oil)

Friday, 20 December 2013

Cranberry sauce

Home made cranberry sauce is heaven and nothing like the pink rubbery stuff that comes in a jar.  This recipe is very versatile - you can use all orange juice for a stronger orange flavour or more honey for a sweeter sauce.  We like ours with some tartness left - it is better to make it with less honey and then add in later as once it is too sweet it is hard to rectify.

Honey does not have the same preserving properties as sugar so I make this around a week before Christmas.  Alternatively it could be made in advance and frozen 


10-12 ounces of cranberries
120ml freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
120 ml water 
110g honey
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of orange rind 

  • Wash cranberries
  • Put in a pan with all the ingrediants
  • Bring to the boil then simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  The cranberries will burst and the sauce will thicken
  • Remove, cool and keep refrigerated.

Fabulous fish bites

I applaud parents who can get their children to eat plain fish.  Mine both did as babies but now will only eat fish fingers or smoked salmon. This can be tricky if you are gluten or grain free!  So I was delighted when we discovered that home-made fish fingers made with almond flour were delicious - both kids asked for seconds.  If you don't eat potatoes these could be served with celeriac chips but my kids are also happy just to have a big portion of vegetables.  (If you are trying to get soup or bone broth into your kids this dish also goes well with a mug of homemade tomato soup)

You could use plain flour if you tolerate gluten but almond flour is slightly sweeter than standard flour and works well - the resultant crumb has a similar taste to the ones you can buy in the supermarket which is handy for fussy kids.

We use cod or haddock. I also like coley but the kids find the taste too strong. Salmon would probably work too.

We fry them in grass fed beef dripping - you could use olive oil if you are happy to use that for high temperature cooking.  If we have veggie friends over we use ghee.

When we buy fish from fishmongers that has expertly boned we find we can make almost perfectly shaped fingers. Or we buy cod cheeks from our local fishmonger Out of the Blue.  They are succulent and really good value because a lot of people don't want such small pieces of fish.  They are also very easy as there is no chopping involved! If it's a fish my dad has caught that I have to prep we end up with very odd shaped bites but they still taste great!


Approx 100g almond flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg (can manage without if cupboard is bare!)
1 fillet of fish per person cut roughly into chunks or 150-200g of cod cheeks per person
Beef dripping (ideally organic or grass fed)

  • Either put the flour and seasoning in a bag and add in the fish pieces giving them a good shake until they are coated in flour, or dip fish in egg then into a plate with the flour and seasoning
  • Add to a hot frying pan with plenty of beef dripping
  • Cook for a couple of minutes on each side until the fish is cooked and outside crispy

Feel good fudge (Hazelnut, cashew, peanut, almond - whatever you fancy!)

I used to love a few chunks of Chocolate in the evening or a little pick me up if I was rushing around in the day.

This treat feels naughty but is actually full of good things - nuts, honey and butter.  Also a few chunks is usually enough as it is so sweet so one batch will do us a family for a week.

I sometimes make mine with crunchy Hazelnut butter because I like the texture but if you prefer you can use smooth nut butters.  Most nut butters would work (peanut butter is lovely but our nutritionist is not mad on it so we try to keep it as an occasional treat).

I originally made this with 170 grams of honey and I have dropped that now to between 50-100g as you really don't need much because of the sweetness of the nuts and the coconut.

This fudge is ready for the fridge in less than five minutes. However as the mixture is not boiled at a high temperature the fudge is soft a room temperature so needs to be stored in a freezer.

I don't make my own nut butters as I can buy the Meridian jars from a local store at a good price. They are 100% organic nuts with no other added ingredients.


I small jar / appox 170 of Meridian nut butter such as almond or crunchy Hazelnut butter (or other if preferred).
100 grams of honey (you can reduce this for a less sweet version)
115 grams of butter or coconut oil
Optional: 1/2 tsp of vanilla  (I don't use this with Hazelnut.  I have used it with peanut and with cashew)

  • Line a shallow (preferably glass) dish with greaseproof paper (or grease pan well)
  • Melt the butter and honey in a pan and stir until well mixed
  • Take the pan of the heat and mix in the nut butter.
  • Pour into the dish, cover with clingfilm and cool in the fridge
  • Move the cooled pan into the freezer to harden
  • When hard break the fudge into pieces, resist the urge to eat the lot and put back into the freezer 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Lemon biscuits

A lot of nut biscuits have a very similar taste and whilst the kids don't complain, I get bored.  Other biscuit recipes whilst tolerated by my children are a bit 'too alternative' for friend's kids.   However these taste like a traditional biscuit and the lemon really lifts the flavour.

This recipe makes about 24 biscuits.  I double or even quadruple the ingredients and then store the dough in plastic bags in the freezer.  It is a time saver and means I only have to clean the dreaded Magimix once.  


225g almond flour 
1/8 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp / 60 grams of melted butter or coconut oil 
105g honey
1 tbsp of lemon zest (use an unwaxed lemon) 
1 tbsp of lemon juice
Approx 50 grams of sultanas (we like lots in our biscuits!) Could substitute with raisins or leave out

  • Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180C.  You can melt your oil or butter in an ovenproof dish whilst oven warming
  • Mix ingredients in a bowl or a food processor until you have a dough consistency (will be moist)
  • Make small balls of dough in your hands and then flatten into rough cookie shapes 
  • Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper


Oxtail casserole

Oxtail is highly recommended by our nutritionist because you get all the goodness of the meat and bones seeping out into the sauce.   I adapted this from a Hairy Biker recipe.

If you are in a hurry you can make this in 3 hours, or if you really want to get the maximum out of it you could slow cook it for 8/10 hours.

This can be made in advance and warmed up or made in bulk and frozen.

It goes well with butternut squash chips, cauliflower mash, roasted celeriac or celeriac gratin.

Serves 4

Approx 800grams / 2 lb oxtail (our butcher sells it by the tray and I use one tray)
2 medium onions
2 garlic gloves
2 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
1/2 tsp of dried thyme
2 bay leaves
300 ml red wine (or add more stock)
500ml beefstock (homemade if GAPS)
2 tbsp of tomato puree
Beef dripping


  • Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 2 (or Slow Cook setting if cooking for longer)
  • Brown the oxtail in beef dripping in a casserole dish (start with 2 tbsp dripping and add more if meat begins to stick) 
  • This will take 5-10 minutes - remove and set aside when browned all over
  • Put the garlic, onion, celery and carrots in the casserole dish, add more dripping if necessary, and cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until slightly softened
  • Return the meat to the pan, add in the stock, wine. tomato puree, bay leaves and thyme.  
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Cover the casserole and bring to a simmer then place in the oven.
  • Cook for 3 hours at GM 2 or 8-10 hours on a Slow Cook setting

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Ginger Biscuits (Christmas biscuits)

These biscuits could be made into tree decorations, a gingerbread house or even just eaten!

300g almond flour
113 g butter
1 egg
100g honey
1 tsp of all spice
2 tbsp of ginger
1and a 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda 

Preheat oven to gas mark 3
Mix wet ingrediants in blender
Mix dry ingrediants in a bowl
Gradually add dry ingrediants to blender until have a dough
Put in refrigerator for at least half an hour

Roll out or press into cookie shapes with hands

These biscuits are meant to have a strong ginger taste.  If you like a plainer biscuit you could half the amount of all spice, ginger and cinnamon

Put biscuits on paper in oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown

Leave to cool on rack (will harden as they cool)

Coconut flour cakes

These make a great change from nut flours and are just the right size for lunchboxes.  They do not taste overwhelmingly of coconut and its a versatile recipe to which you could add different fruit, lemon, cinnamon etc.  Coconut is extremely absorbent and you need very little flour (so although it is expensive to buy it lasts a long time)

Coconut flour can be lumpy so I use the magimix.  I sometimes mix by hand initially then wait five or ten minutes and whizz in the processor - the coconut flour absorbs the moisture over five to ten minutes and doing a second mix seems to result in a lighter batter that will rise more in the oven

This recipe makes 12 muffins and the cakes can be frozen.


40g coconut flour
75g of softened butter or coconut oil
4 large eggs
2 tbsp honey
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
Approx 50g of raisins or sultanas (we like lots!)


  • Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 350F / 180C
  • Mix eggs and honey and softened butter in either a large bowl or a processor
  • Blend in salt, flour, bicarbonate of soda  (ensure all lumps are removed)
  • Mix in raisins 
  • Spoon mixture into muffin cases (I use 2 at a time to prevent burnt bottoms)
  • Bake for approx 20 mins.  
  • To check if they are cooked see if a cocktail stick comes out clean.  They should also be springy to the touch.  They will look 'wetter' than a cake made out of ordinary flour due to the different properties of the ingredients 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mince pies

I was trying to emulate a Gordon Ramsey plain shortcrust pastry recipe I used to use (using wheat flour). I prefer not to have sweet pastry as I like the contrast with the mincemeat.  However if you would prefer something sweeter replace the water with honey.

I am not sure how long these would last as almond pastry does tend to go a bit soggy.  I make the mincemeat in advance and then make a big quantity of pastry which can be separated out and frozen.  I presume the mince pies can be fully made and frozen too.   

As I find it hard to get the pastry as thin as I would have with wheat flour I prefer not to use full lids as it feels like the wrong ratio of pastry to filling.  Instead I use small shapes, stars etc. 


1 egg (beaten)
12 ounces almond flour
3 ounces cold butter cut into pieces
3 tablespoons cold water 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Additional beaten egg for brushing 


500g mixed fruit (sultanas,raisins and currants) 
150g dried apricots
100g organic dates
grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon
grated rind of 1 unwaxed orange
50g flaked almonds
1 tbsp mixed spice 
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
4 tblsps whisky (GAPS legal) or brandy (not GAPS legal)  (optional) 
4-5 pears peeled and cored (about 250-300grams) 

To make mincemeat:

Blend pears in food processor and set aside in a bowl
Blend the apricots and the dates in the processor
Add all the other dry ingrediants and spices and mix
Add in alcohol and pears and mix again
Store in sterilised jars.  (If freezing jars leave space at the top for the mixture to expand)

To make pastry / pies 
Preheat oven to gas mark 2
Put all the pastry ingrediants in a food processer and mix until dough consistency
Put in fridge for at least half an hour then role out into required shapes.
Fill with mincemeat and top with a shape
Brush with egg
Put in the oven for 30 minutes (These could probably be cooked for 20 minutes at gm3 but as almond flour burns easily I prefer to take it slow)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Strapple Jam - SCD Strawberry and Apple Jam.

Strapple Jam 

There is nothing more british than a scone with butter and jam.

Therefore its an irony that my scone recipe is an adaption of an american recipe  - Kendall Conrad's apricot scones from her book Eat Well Feel Well  Her recipe is for apricot scones and she makes a gorgeous sounding apricot butter to accompany it.  However in our house we use raisins or sultanas for the scones as apricots are hit and miss with the kids.  And to go with it  I like to make a traditional tasting strawberry jam, just in a slightly untraditional way.  This jam is a beautiful deep pink colour and tastes delicious (and not really of apples - but I just liked the idea of coming up with a silly name).

The challenge with jam-making on the SCD/ GAPS diet is that commercial pectin must be avoided. Strawberries are not naturally high in pectin so this is why it helps to mash up the strawberries in advance (which releases pectin) and to add apple, which is higher in pectin.

Yield is approx 2 jars.


800g of strawberries,  roughly mashed by hand or with hand blender
150g of cooking apple (approx 1 very large apple), cut into thumbnail size chunks
170g of honey


  • Put the honey, apples and strawberries into a jam making pan (or other heavy based pan)
  • Simmer on the smallest ring at lowest temperature until the desired consistency (approx 11/2 - 2 hrs) As it thickens stir often to avoid it sticking
  • Pour into the warm sterilised jars and seal immediately

Mackerel pate

This pate can be a super quick lunch dish but is also good enough as a starter if you are entertaining.  It could be frozen or made in advance.  Approximately 6 servings.


4 smoked mackerel fillets
Juice of 1/2 lemon
7 tbsp of yoghurt (homemade if you are doing SCD or GAPS, otherwise plain yoghurt)
1 heaped tsp of horseradish sauce (homemade or shop bought depending on your overall diet plan)
Salt and pepper


Take skin of fillets and break up into large chunks
Put mackerel into food processor
Add lemon juice
Add horseradish (we like our food tangy so if you are unsure just start with a flat tsp)
Salt and pepper to taste (we like loads of black pepper in ours)
Blend till desired consistency.

Serve with whatever grabs your fancy but it goes well with salad, beetroot and bread.  I can't yet recommend a grain free bread that compliments this (still experimenting with bread).  It is very nice with the buckwheat crackers, buckwheat soda bread, the Dove's farm gluten free bread or gf oatcakes.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Buckwheat Soda Bread

Buckwheat Soda Bread

Buckwheat Soda Bread 

Buckwheat flour (not related to wheat and gluten free) has been a godsend for me as I love bread and since stopping gluten have got heartily sick of oatcakes every lunchtime.  I have tried making bread with nut flour and it has not gone down well.

This is fantastic with goats cheese or hummus or with jam.  Buckwheat does have a distinctive aftertaste and has an unusual tinge  (my daughter wont try it because of the colour) so maybe best not to bulk buy the flour until you have tried it! However I think it would go down really well at a dinner party as it looks like a posh artisan bread and has a nice consistency.

Click here for the recipe from the Dove's Farm website

We use water instead of milk as we were advised this would make it lighter.  This also makes it dairy free.

To be truly gluten free it is best to check your baking powder is gluten free.  As we are trying to move closer to the SCD Diet which prohibits commercial baking powder we make our own from cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda.  You use 2 parts cream of tartar to one part bicarbonate of soda.

Buckwheat flour by Dove's Farm and widely available.  However Dove's Farm say this flour, although itself gluten free, cannot be guaranteed gluten free as it may be grown next to wheat.  If you are concerned about this you can buy guaranteed gluten free buckwheat flour online (including at

Cinnamon and raisin cake

I love this recipe because you can make a loaf cake and a load of muffin size cakes at the same time (great for packed lunches or parties).    It is SCD friendly (grain free, gluten free, sugar free) and can also be made dairy free by using coconut oil instead of butter.

448g almond flour
3 eggs
57g softened / melted butter (we use goats butter, can also use coconut oil)
200g runny honey
340g plain yoghurt ( homemade if you are proper SCD / GAPs)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp cinnamon
90g raisins

1. Preheat oven at Gas Mark 4 / 180 C
2. Whisk eggs
3. Soften or melt butter
4. Pulse all the ingredients in food processor till mixed.  Add raisins and mix again.
5. Pour batter into a greased tin / tin lined with greaseproof paper
6. Cook for 45 minutes if you are making a large cake, if you are making muffin / fairy cake size check with skewer after 30 minutes.  (I normally bake a large cake on the first shelf  and muffins below, turning them half way through,  but you may need to adjust according to how your oven bakes best)
7. Leave to cool on rack

I find that you do get a darker top with almond flour than if you are using regular flour but the cakes inside are still moist.  If you like your cakes really moist you could add another 50g of honey.   I like loads of raisins but you could make this cakes with half the amount suggested if preferred.

These freeze really well.  They can be taken out in morning and put in lunch box and will be defrosted by lunch time.  (However I have only frozen ones with butter not coconut oil)

Banana Cake / muffins

This is a fab weekday cake - can be eaten at breakfast, used in lunch boxes or served to adults with tea. It can also be used to make individual muffins

300g almond flour
150g honey
2 overripe bananas
3 eggs
1tbsp of cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark  4 / 180 C / 350F
2. Blend up bananas in a processor
3. Add the eggs and blend again
4. Put all the other ingredients in a processor and pulse till mixed
5. Line a 11b loaf tin with greaseproof paper
6. Pour batter into tins
7.  Bake for 40 minutes. Put skewer into middle of cake and if it comes out dry it is ready.  If not give cakes another 5 minutes.

Add raisins or dates  (45-85g depending on personal preference.   
Make smaller muffins by splitting the mixture into a muffin pan double lined with cake cases.  Check after 20 minutes 

Saturday, 27 July 2013


There are lots of references in this blog to the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and the GAPS diet. These are diets that go further than gluten free and take out many foods, including all grains and most carbohydrates (including potato and corn) in order to heal the gut.  To get more info on these diets go to the research page.  They require a lot of consideration and we would advise anyone interested in putting their children on these diets to work with a nutritionist.

'Free From' family cooking ...what we are trying to do

We have put our daughter on a gluten free diet casein free (dairy free) diet for health reasons.    We decided if she had to give up stuff, then the rest of the family would do it too

When we started looking into this diet we discovered there were two ways to go, we could either buy ready made products that were often expensive, tasteless and full of other nasties or we could learn how to cook differently as a family.  Cooking ourselves also meant we could reduce if not remove sugar and artificial preservatives and other rubbish from our daughter's diet.

We are still eating carbs. We are drawn to the paleo ethos of avoiding grains, eating lots of unprocessed meat, nuts, fruit, vegetables etc.  Lots of recipes here will be paleo.  However we do still eat certain grains and lots of ingredients that a pure paleo would not tolerate so some recipes wont work for paleos.

We like to use natural fats believing hard fats to be the most stable for cooking - butter / ghee / coconut oil.  We also use olive oil, ideally for cold dishes and salad dressings.  We don't use sunflower and vegetable oils at home as they get an increasingly bad press but its personal preference and most recipes are flexible in that respect. 

The recipes here are indexed according to whether they contain dairy (our children can tolerate goats products but we mark alternatives where possible).  We also look at whether they contain yeast and sugar.  Lots of recipes are suitable for people following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or GAPS Protocol.

Whilst the recipes may help various health conditions the important thing for us is that they also taste great and our children will eat them! 

Like all parents our time is precious and we ideally look for recipes that can be made quickly, or are simple enough to be made at the same time as building a lego aeroplane, or can be made in bulk and frozen. 

We eat organic when we find it and can afford it.  We try to get ingredients locally and plan to list good suppliers in the North West.    However all ingrediants should be available at most supermarkets. 

It is easy to get evangical about food (as a lot of websites do!) but we dont want this blog to make people to feel bad about what they are eating - we still buy the ready made products now and again, especially if we have to be away from home.   We have to be 'free from' gluten and cows dairy all the time.  For everything else we go for the 80/20 rule.  If 80% of our diet is 'free from' artificial colours, preservatives, other nasties and sugar then the odd treat is fine. 

Hope you find some recipes you like and please tell us of any recipes or suppliers you think we should add to the site!