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Rocket and Basil Humous

I find blogging in the winter time a little tricky. Mostly because we eat a lot of comfort food, vegetable curries, noodle soups, roast chicken with baked sweet potatoes. None of this looks great in a photograph and especially if we are having it as our dinner when it is cold and wet outside we are half way through before I remember I meant to take a photograph.

So with lovely long sunny days I feel a little more inspired to blog again. This one has already been announced as our new favourite and I can imagine we will be sick of it when it gets produced at every summer BBQ.

I find at this time of year I want to eat big salads with a few little additions such as humous.  Also I always make too much so there are left overs to put into a tupperware and take to work the next day. I am definitely a creature of habit and could probably eat the same salad for 6 meals in a row.  To mix it up I just change the salad dressing to make it a little more interesting. So one day I do a tahini dressing, the next a pesto dressing and maybe also change the fresh herbs too according to the type of salad.

Anyway, back to the humous!


1 x garlic* clove crushed
1/2 juice of lemon
1 x handful of rocket
2 x tablespoon tahini
1/2 packet of basil or
250 g cooked chickpeas (I used tinned)
Glug of olive oil
Cold water
Generous pinch salt

Basically put all the above into a food processor apart from the water, oil and salt. Blend and as the mixture is combining gentle pour in a little of the water and keep going till the humous blends into a smooth mixture. Then add the salt and olive oil to taste. You can chose how chunky / liquid you like it. We are middle ground smooth/chunky in our house.

Pour into a bowl and drizzle with a little extra oil and top with basil leaves.

*Tip: if you find raw garlic a little too fiery, then take the clove and pop it into a saucepan of boiling water for 3-5 minutes. It will gently cook it a little but still hold the delicious garlic flavour without the fire.





Caramel Pecan slice


It has been a while since I have written. Life took a turn into chaos as we got a new puppy and I suddenly became incredibly busy at work so had very little time to cook anything new or exciting. We lived off soup and oatcakes for a few weeks, which I must admit was good for the waistline but rubbish for my sweet tooth!

So to combat both issues I have created something sticky, gooey and crunchy that really hits the sweet tooth spot! I needed to be inspired a little too as it is easy to get out of the way of cooking sometimes. So, when a friend last week asked me what my ‘go to cupboard essentials’ were, it got me thinking again. I realise that there are a few items I always try to keep in stock and that is a selection of nuts, dates, nut butters and eggs. It is pretty amazing what you can make out of these simple ingredients and to just have a handful of nuts with a couple of medjool dates is such a good pick me up and the inspiration to my Caramel Pecan Slice.


1/2 cup of brazil nuts
1/2 cup pecan nuts
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
pinch salt if using coconut oil
3/4 cup chopped dates

Top layer
3 tbsp cashew butter (I used the pip and nut with cinnamon and honey)
2 tbsp date syrup
1/4 cup pecans


For the base, in a food processor blend the two nuts, don’t let them get as fine as flour, leave them a little chunky. Then add dates and butter and blitz till combined. If not sticky, add a little more melted butter. Then press into a pre-lined dish and put into the fridge for an hour. You can also make this into a tart with a loose bottomed tin as the base holds itself well. I would also recommend it as a cheesecake base.

Top layer, don’t worry about cleaning out the food processor, just add in the nuts and blitz till they are almost a powder. Then add cashew nut butter and date syrup and blend into a thick paste. Add this onto the base and leave to set in the fridge for another hour and top with pecans. If you really want to add extra crunch, place several pecans into a nonstick frying pan and a large drizzle of maple syrup with a tiny pinch of salt. Keep the nuts moving in the pan so they don’t burn/ stick. Once cool, chop up and scatter over the top.






Christmas crumble apple flapjack


Well winter has definitely arrived and the Christmas adverts are on our tv so I can’t help myself but think of winter spices and delicious treats. Something has to get me through the next few months when it gets dark by 4pm and all I want to do it put on my pyjamas and hibernate.

When I think of Christmas I automatically think of cinnamon, oranges, ginger and dried fruits. So as well as making these flapjacks I am going to bake some apples. These will be stuffed with sultanas, dates, honey and cinnamon and placed in the oven for an hour. To serve I will crumble these flapjacks on top with a large dollop of ice cream.


60 g coconut oil
50 g honey
1 orange
1 apple grated
1 tsp cinnamon
150 g oats
half inch grated fresh ginger

20g coconut oil
half of the orange juice
1 tbsp honey

Add the coconut oil, honey, half the juice of the orange, zest and ginger and heat in a pan till melted and combined. Add in the grated apple, ginger, oats and cinnamon and mix till all oats and apple are covered in the wet ingredients.

Pour into a lined baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.

While this is baking, put the coconut oil, honey and rest of orange juice into a saucepan and heat up till it starts to simmer. Once the flapjacks have cooled a little, remove them from the baking tin and pour over the glaze and leave to set.

You can cut these in squares like flapjacks or crumble over anything like stewed fruit as a crumble topping or greek yoghurt as an alternative breakfast.

Indian spiced cauliflower soup

It’s October, and I really hoped it might still feel like summer but with this ever changing weather (mostly rain) I realised it is back to cosy comfort food.

With half a cauliflower in my fridge and not much else I was going to have to get inventive.

So what can I do with a cauliflower that isn’t steaming it and covering it in white sauce and cheese? (This was my obvious choice!) I stared at the fridge for rather a long time and then realised that I also have a cupboard full of spices and tins like coconut milk so let’s have fun and throw a few items together in the hope it turns out to be a delicious lunch. If it fails, then scrambled eggs on toast it will be!

So here we go… the ingredients: (This will do you for 2 lunches)

Half a cauliflower
1 lrg garlic clove
1 red onion
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp curry powder
half tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
lrg pinch of salt
1 tin coconut milk
1 tin worth of stock (chicken or veg)


Chop up your cauliflower in similar sized chunks, doesn’t need to be pretty as it will all be blended. Place in a large mixing bowl and add a quartered garlic clove and a roughly chopped red onion. Mix your cumin, turmeric, curry powder, chilli flakes and salt. Drizzle the olive oil over the cauliflower then add the spices and mix in the bowl till all is covered in the spices.

Place into an over at 160 degrees and roast for about 40 minutes, making sure you keep an eye and giving a stir at least twice. This should have allowed the spices and veg to have cooked down a little and everything should have wilted.

Take a saucepan and put all the vegetables in, then pour over a tin of coconut milk and stock and let simmer for ten minutes. By now the veg should all be soft and everything infused in the delicious coconut and curry spices.

Allow to cool a little then blitz in a liquidiser till smooth. Taste in case it needs a little more salt and if a little too spicy top with some natural yoghurt to serve. If you prefer a slightly chunkier soup, keep back some of the cauliflower and add slightly chopped to your blended soup for serving. Alternatively you could roast some chickpeas in the oven in a little olive oil, salt, cumin and chilli seeds and add these as gluten free croutons.







Apple & Date Crumble

WHOOPEE it’s the time of year when I get to drink copious amounts of red wine and do nothing all Sunday evening because it’s dark by the time lunch has finished!

Yes, that’s right, it is proper cosy Sunday lunch season when one can have friends round in the afternoon and sit for hours over a two or three course lunch and have nowhere to rush off to afterwards.

This time of year, we generally end up having a lazy start to the day, do a bit of lunch prep in PJs, try to get a walk or bike ride in, shower and be laying the table as our guests arrive pretending there wasn’t a last minute rush around tidying the house. Why do we all insist on cleaning and hiding any  visible items on a table or shelf into a drawer to then spend the next few weeks wondering where we put things when our friends come round? It is the strangest illusion we all insist on giving – clean house living.

Enough of that, now to the food part. Here I am thinking what can I give people for pudding that will be deeply satisfying and comforting yet also be light on the sugar front. I decided to tackle apple crumble and use normal eating apples which are naturally sweeter than cooking apples and use dates as my natural sweetness. Also, why add extra sugar in the crumble topping when the apple goodness should be sweet enough as it is?


This can also be gluten free by swapping the wholegrain flour with ground almonds.

Ingredients: (Serves 4-6 depending on how greedy you are feeling)

Crumble topping 
100 g wholemeal flour
80 g oats
50 g butter
1 tbsp cinnamon

Fruit mix
4 large apples
2 tbsp lemon
80g dates
1 tbsp date syrup

Start with your fruit mix, finely chop your dates and place into a non stick saucepan with 2 tbsp water and gently heat till mixture is combined and sticky then add in date syrup. (You can blend this so it is a smoother puree but up to you)

Peel, core and chop up apples into even chunks and place into sauce pan with 2 tbsp water, lemon juice and place on the lid and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes until the apple starts to soften a little. Stir occasionally and make sure it doesn’t break down too much.

Mix in the date mixture and pour into a dish that will go in the oven. Then make your crumble topping. Add cold chunks of butter and flour into a food processor and pulse till it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats and cinnamon then top the apple and date mix.

Place into an oven at 180C for 10 – 15 minutes till you can see the apple bubbling. Serve with a large dollop of fat free Greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup if your guests have a very sweet tooth. Doesn’t need it, but when is maple syrup a bad addition?!


Millionaire’s Shortbread



It has been a while since I posted a blog, I have actually been travelling for the last month seeing friends and family across Asia, and the UK. It has been a great experience and so wonderful to eat so many different foods and learn about new flavour combinations. I have to admit that all the eating out has made me desperate to get back into my kitchen and cook food from scratch again.

With Autumn in full swing, if you are anything like me, you will be rather enjoying the fact that winter jumpers are back covering up those ever increasing muffin tops. It’s my winter layer and I can’t help myself as the leaves turn orange, my belt loosens by a notch.

However, this winter I am going to try and stick with my refined sugar free diet and will be trying to make a few favourites along the way.

Here is my ‘millionaire’s shortbread’ which is a crumbly shortbread base, covered with sticky caramel then topped with chocolate . You can make this dairy free by swapping the butter for coconut oil or almond butter.

This is quite a small batch as they may be refined sugar free, but that doesn’t mean they are calorie free too!


Shortbread layer
2 tbsp butter (melted)
4 heaped tbsp oats
3 heaped almond meal

Caramel layer
70g dates (stones removed)
2 tsp cashew butter
2 tbsp date syrup
1 tbsp Coconut oil (melted)

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tsp maple syrup

How to:

Blitz the oats in a food processor then add the almonds and butter and blitz till mixed through. Press into a lined dish and place into the fridge while you make the next layer.

Pour bowling water over the dates and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Then blitz in food processor with remaining ingredients till combined. Carefully layer this onto of the shortbread and place into the fridge again and leave for an hour.

To make the chocolate, place all items in a saucepan and heat till it starts to gently bubble and is combined. Remove from the heat and pour over the caramel and put into the freezer till set.

Cut into squares and enjoy. Best kept in the fridge and good luck making them last longer than a day!



Coconut and pineapple cake

I’m supposed to be on a bikini diet, but so far I have baked 3 sweet things in the last 24 hours. I should ban myself from baking rather than saying I’m on a diet. To be honest though, a diet for me is more about eating loads of veg and protein and just not covering it in too many sauces or sloshing gallons of wine down my throat with it. (Easier said than done when the sun is shining and the vino is cold in the fridge!)

The worst part about trying to get bikini ready is the starvation part, I just don’t function well on little food so I make sure there are carrot sticks and energy bites ready to munch on in the fridge. I will always have a lunch packed full of proteins like boiled eggs, chickpeas, chicken as it helps me get through the afternoon without hitting 3pm and wanting to eat my fingers as they suddenly look more like sausages I want to put on a BBQ.

Also, why is it that as soon as we hit the first breakfast buffet on holiday it seems perfectly normal to have 5 courses and mix items like ham and cheese with cake on the same plate?

Anyway, back to the cake I shouldn’t be making.. the other two were, well good but this was the best of the 3 so thought I would share.


  • 120 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 60 g honey
  • 60 g pitted dates (finely chopped)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 ml coconut cream (the thick layer in the tin) OR 200g bar of creamed coconut
  • 125 g desiccated coconut
  • 50 ml pineapple juice
  • 150 g pineapple chopped in chunks (I used tinned in juice)
  • 2-3 rounds of pineapple for top
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • ¼ tesapoon bicarbonate of soda

dates honey butter 2pineapplepineapple rings

Grease and line a round baking tin and turn on the oven to 170 degrees.

In a large bowl use an electric whisk and mix the butter and honey till blended and smooth. Then add in the eggs and continue to whisk, then the coconut cream and pineapple juice and whisk till blended.

In a separate bowl weigh out the flour, bicarbonate of soda and coconut then add in a third at a time to the wet mixture. Add the dates (soak in some boiling water if not sticky) and and the pineapple chunks to the cake mixture and fold through till evenly distributed.


Pour into the tin and top with the extra pineapple. Place into the oven and check after 45 minutes. My cake took a further 15 minutes but best to check by sticking a skewer in and if it comes out clean, the cake is done! You may also need to turn down the oven a little if the top is browning a too fast and cook a bit longer.

Allow the cake to sit for 5-10 minutes in the tin before removing. If you want to make this more decadent, I suggest you take 1 Tbsp of butter, 2 Tbsp of honey and 2 Tbsp pineapple juice and heat up in a saucepan till butter melted and bubble for a minute. Then glaze over the hot cake while it is still in the tin when you first take it out.

(Take 2 of making this cake)

My mum has been staying and she had two hours before she was due to leave to catch a flight so we thought what cake can we make so we don’t sit and look at each other for next two hours! So we decided to make this delicious cake but as little muffins. Oh wow I tell u!! Make as above, but this time I used a bar of creamed coconut as didn’t have any coconut milk. Then in a muffin tin (makes 12), grease with butter and put a chunk of pineapple on the bottom and spoon in the mixture. Bake in the oven for 16-20 minutes, test with a skewer and make sure mixture not wet in middle. They are crumbly, buttery, sweet and perfection with a cup of tea.

cut coconut cakepineapple cake side



Sticky BBQ Ribs and Apple Slaw


ribs and slaw

My husband is a big fan of American BBQ food, and to be honest so am I, but try to avoid it due to the fact its normally packed full of sugar and takes such a long time to make. This is because the slow cooking method is by far the best and most satisfying.

It was a Sunday, and we had planned this was going to be our ‘Sunday roast’ with the hopes of some left overs (obviously none happened in the end). So the day started with my husband pulling out the pork ribs that he had already covered in a dry rub the night before. (Please note all ingredients below). He placed the ribs into a large high sided roasting dish and poured in the apple juice and water to the base of the dish. Then he  covered the dish in tin foil, wrapping it tightly around the edges of the dish.


The ribs go into the oven at 150 degrees for 2 to 2.5 hours with a basting after 90 minutes. While they are cooking you can make your bbq sauce and slaw. I try to make the slaw quite last minute so it keeps a good crunch.

So for the BBQ sauce, finely chop your red onion and in a non stick pan add a little vegetable oil and cook down till soft. Works well if you put a lid on and stir occasionally. Then add the garlic, tomato puree and spices and keep stirring, cooking for about 5 minutes. Then add the honey, cider vinegar and apple juice and simmer for about 15 minutes. It should start to reduce and get thick and sticky. Have a taste and if not sweet enough add more honey, and if not smokey enough add more smoked paprika. Let it cool a little then either leave slightly chunky or blitz in a liquidiser and add a splash of water if a bit thick. It should be a thick glossy sticky sauce to glaze your ribs for their final stage in the oven.

Check the ribs after an hour and add a little more liquid if it has all disappeared. Then at 2 hours, if the bone is starting to separate from the meat  easily then you know they are basically ready. If the bone of the ribs doesn’t pull easily then you need to continue the cooking, making sure its covered.

Then, smother them in the bbq sauce and put back into the oven with the temperature at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes. They should get sticky and the pork should be melt in the mouth.  Again, add more water/apple juice if getting dry.

cooked ribsbrushing bbq sauce

Slaw: make this while the ribs are in their ‘getting sticky’ stage. Put all veg into a food processor so they are grated (or use a grated if no food processor) and squeeze over the lemon. Then mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix through the veg! Easy!


Serve your sticky ribs and slaw on a large chopping board and provide lots of napkins. Warning: this is not first date food, this is get your hands stuck in and gobble up food.

Serves 4

Sticky bbq ribs:

1 side pork ribs covered in dry spice rub
1 x cup apple juice
1 x cup water

Dry spice rub:

2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp pouring salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp sugar (or we used honey)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cayenne

Apple Slaw:

Quarter white cabbage
1 x apple
3 x carrots
Squeeze of lemon
2 x tbsp mayonaise
2 x Natural yoghurt (0% fat)
1 heaped tsp grainy mustard
1 x tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt & Pepper

BBQ sauce

2 x tbsp honey
1 x tsp ground cumin
2-3 tsp x smoked paprika
1 x red onion
1 x crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsp tomato paste
150 ml apple juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Splash of water

Greek Yoghurt, Vanilla & Honey Ice Cream

I have always wanted an ice cream maker, ice cream is one of my favourite summer treats. Many a summer has gone by where I have attempted to make ice cream and always forgotten to mix it every few hours in the freezer so I end up tackling a solid lump. So this year I treated myself to a machine that can make me creamy home made ice cream and I have been having rather a lot of fun trying new combinations of flavours.  This one is a mixture of a basic vanilla ice cream that I have zinged with some greek yogurt to add some tartness and added chopped up peaches for extra sweetness.


ice cream basicsice cream basics 2the glorious peach


2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup runny honey
1 cup full fat milk
150g pot full fat Greek yoghurt
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 large ripe peach chopped up

First things first, make sure you have put your ice cream bowl from your ice cream mixer in the freezer for at least 8 hours. If you have forgotten, you can make the below mixture and leave in the fridge while you wait for the ice cream bowl.

In a mixing bowl whisk the honey and egg yolks together till combined. I use a whisk which is covered in silicone as it protects my non stick saucepans. They are also brilliant as don’t splash around the liquid as much as a balloon whisk does.

In a thick bottomed saucepan heat up your milk and vanilla till the milk begins to simmer then remove from the heat. Allow to cool slightly then add 2 table spoons into your egg/ honey mixture and combine, do this again and then pour it all back into the saucepan. The aim here is to avoid the egg cooking and making scrambled egg.

Put your saucepan back on a gentle heat and keep stirring the mixture. This is basically a custard but I have used honey rather than sugar. Continue to stir making sure you don’t let it boil until it has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. The consistency will be similar to a béchamel sauce.

Remove from the heat and pour through a sieve into a large bowl, add your greek yoghurt and place into the fridge for half an hour. Then pour the cold mixture into your ice cream bowl and turn on for at least 20 minutes till the mixture is firm. Remove from the ice cream maker and stir through the chopped up peach and either eat straight away or put into a freezable container and freeze for 3-4 hours.

For those of you who crave ice cream but can’t have lactose, I have your new favourite recipe: I made one with the base of coconut milk. All you need to do is follow all the same instructions as above but don’t use milk or yogurt, just one tin of coconut milk instead of milk with the same measurements of everything else. I promise you, it is rich, creamy and I think you could add any fruity flavour to this and it would be divine!

ice cream with peach