Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chocolate Brownies

Gluten Free and Dairy Free
What can I say about the brownie. It is by far my favourite treat, it's rich, it's chocolate and it is addictive. It was the first gluten free thing I ever made.

I have gone through so many variations and experimentations of this recipe and made them so many times I've lost count. The brownie page of my hand written recipe book is covered in chocolate stains. I don't think I could live without them. I make them every week and my friends are constantly asking for them, so I always make them in large batches of about 20. Somehow I still manage to limit myself to one per day.

This recipe makes about 9 brownies

150g dark chocolate
50g dairy free margarine
2 eggs
170g soft light brown sugar
50ml oil 
50g ground almonds
40g rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla essence

1) Preheat oven to Gas Mark 3.5 / 170C / 335F
2) Line a square baking tray (roughly 9x9 inch)
3) Melt chocolate over a double boiler.
4) Take off the heat and stir in margarine until melted, then set aside to cool slightly.
5) In a bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (don't over do it, it should look frothy)
6) Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
7) Add the oil and beat again to combine.
8) Add the chocolate in small amounts and mix gently after each addition. Then beat well for about a minute.
9) In a separate bowl, mix the almond, flour, salt and baking soda.
10) Add the flour mix to the chocolate mix and beat for a minute or so.
11) Add the vanilla and beat a final time for 30 to 40 seconds.
12) Feel free to add chocolate chips at this point, or chopped nuts if you so desire.
13) Spread batter into tray.
14) Bake in centre of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes (It varies from oven to oven). 
(The brownies will rise in the centre when baking, you will know they are done when this has fallen and gone flat again. You don't want them  to bake too long after this.)
15) Leave them to cool in the tray, then remove and cut. Eat and drool.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Almond Bars

Gluten Free and Vegan

I was absolutely amazed by this recipe, I had no idea how it was going to work out, one of those times where I just mixed together what I had with an idea in mind of what I wanted. 

They have something here in Dublin, called Almond fingers, I have seen them in Holland too. And I was really really craving them the other week. I can't even describe them, soft and cakey, yet almost like marzipan. When I was a teenager, my brother and I used to buy a packet every so often, we made sure to make them last, just one per day at about 4pm with a cup of tea. I looked forward to it every day.

These bars are not exactly like an almond finger, but it is close enough for me and I am so happy with it. It passes my test, and I'm pretty stringent. Now I can make a new tradition with these Almond bars, soft and moist, with a bit of a gooey chew, and a lovely sweet almond flavour. And it is incredibly easy to make. 

90g cup ground almonds 
75g caster sugar 
3 Tblsp soya milk
75g dairy free margarine 
25ml oil (for this recipe I used rapeseed oil) 
75g demera sugar 
2 Tblsp golden syrup 
225g gluten free flour (I use a mix of 125g rice flour, 50g potato flour and 50g tapioca flour) 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence 

1) Preheat oven to 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2 
2) Mix almond, caster sugar and soya milk into a paste. 
3) Add margarine and oil and cream together. 
4) Add demera sugar, golden syrup, vanilla and almond essence and mix until smooth. 
5) Combine flour, salt, baking powder and soda in a separate bowl. 
6) Add to mixture and combine well. Depending on the flours you use you may need to add more flour. You want quite a thick cake like batter.
7) Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 45 mins. 
8) Remove from oven and brush while still warm with melted golden syrup for a sticky top. 

Note: The last batch I made I didn't have enough margarine, so used 25g marg and 75ml oil, and they still turn out beautifully

Thursday, May 20, 2010



Exercise is important for everyone, but I personally feel it is essential to maintaining a good feeling for those with Colitis and Crohn's. I know it can be hard when a lot of the time you feel so tired and not really up for much, but keep it up, go for walks, get on your bike, do a routine and keep doing it.

At the moment, my morning's journey takes me about 30mins by bicycle, up a hill, the last stretch of which is quite steep, and it is about 20 mins to get back home in the afternoon. There are some mornings when I wake up and the thought of getting on my bike and making that journey seems far too difficult, but I do it, every day. I do it because I love my bike, and I refuse to let my Colitis be the boss of me and tell me I can't ride my bike. I won't let that happen. And it can be exhausting, and it can wear me out sometimes, but I feel so much better for it. I'm tired, but I feel energised at the same time, if that makes sense. And I know if I gave in and stopped cycling, and took the bus instead because it is easier, I would feel much worse and much more tired.

Now, 50 mins cycling a day could be too much for some people, I used to be a bicycle messenger, cycling the city for 7 to 8 hours a day, so I've known a high level of fitness in my time, so it is probably easier for me.
What I suggest for those who weren't at high levels of fitness to start with something easy, go for a walk, do a few sit ups, something, even when you are tired and don't want to get up, just do it, but of course take it easy.
Then push yourself a bit more, and a bit more, but only as far as you think you can go, and then go just that little bit more. And maintain it, do your choice of exercise every day or most days. It doesn't have to be a lot, as long as it is more than what you are doing now.

It works for me. Find what works for you. I hope it will help.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Pancakes

Made these at the weekend. I tend make these most weekends, usually on Sundays. Dave loves them, he's usually the one who requests them, sometimes asking they be brought to him in bed (like that's going to happen). They may take longer to make than a bowl of cereal, but they are sooo well worth it. My mouth is starting salivate just thinking about them.

Last weekend, while i was making them, I realised I didn't have enough soya milk, but had plenty of coconut milk in the fridge, so used that along with the soya milk and to my pleasant surprise made the pancakes exceptionally tasty and I've decided to use coconut milk from now on (as long as I have it in the fridge that is)


1 cup rise flour
1/2 cup potato flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
(or use 1 3/4 cup of your favourite flour mix)
2 Tblsp caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 soya milk
1/4 coconut milk
3 Tblsp Oil
2 Eggs (separate yolk from white)
1/2 tsp vanilla or lemon juice


1) Combine dry ingredients
2) Combine egg yolks and wet ingredients
3) Whisk the egg whites separately until stiff. This will make your pancakes fluffy
4) Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir to combine
5) Add the egg whites to the mixture and gently fold in
6) Spoon the mixture into a hot and oiled fry pan. When lots of little bubble holes appear, it is ready to flip.
7) Serve with your favourite topping. I like fresh lemon juice and maple or golden syrup

Monday, May 10, 2010

Psyllium Husk Powder

May 2010
Psyllium Husk Powder

Psyllium husk comes from part of a seed of a plant called Plantago Ovata. It is a soluble fibre and becomes gel-like when mixed with water. It is great for gluten free baking, particularly breads, as it helps to add springyness making them less crumbly, so works well as a gluten replacer, as well as adding a nice flavour to bread.

I find it is of particular benefit to myself, as someone with Colitis, because it is a soluble fibre and helps moves things slowly and smoothly through your system. I have been using it for 2 months now and I find it really helps.

But I am just one person and this product may not be suitable for you. I am not an expert and I suggest you ask your doctor if Pysllium husk will be suitable for you. I think you should always seek medical advice before taking supplements.

Psyllium husk powder can be found in most health shops. It should be naturally gluten free but you should check with the manufacturer of the brand to make sure.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Vegan Whiskey Chocolate Truffles

The first time I made these, I made specifically because I had a bottle of whiskey that I was given as a gift but I couldn't use because I don't drink (hurts my tummy). I was racking my brain trying to think what to put whiskey in so I could cheatingly have it, then it just popped into my brain, truffles.

A simple quick recipe, though it was tricksey for me at times. First time I made it, perfect, delicious, luxurious. The next three times, it was too melty, then too hard and crumbly, then too melty again. And every time since it has been grand, perfect, yum yum yum.

Normal chocolate truffle recipes use cream, but to make it dairy free and vegan, I use coconut milk, or coconut cream, they both work well. And it doesn't even taste like coconut.


250g Dark Chocolate, the darker the better
80ml Coconut milk or coconut cream
45ml Whiskey
Cocoa powder for rolling the truffles


1) Bring the coconut milk/cream to a boil, all bubbling and dancing.
2) Take off the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until it is all smooth and shiny looking. (Good tip, make sure the chocolate is in small pieces, it will melt easier this way.)
3) Then add in the whiskey and give it a good ol' whiskin, mix it well. I find it helps if you heat the whiskey up a little before adding it to the mixture.
4) Then just pop it into the freezer for a couple of hours, check it every hour and see how it is getting on. It should be firm yet malleable, easy to shape into balls and not sticky and melting on your fingers.
5) When it is ready, scoop and roll into balls and roll the little beauties around in some cocoa powder in a bowl, then eat them or wrap them individually or put them in a box. You might need to pop them back in the freezer for a bit to firm them up again.

Of course, you can use whatever liquor you want, I expect brandy would work well, or if you just want plain truffles, substitute the whiskey with more coconut milk, just boil it all, then add the chocolate. Enjoy!