Fig & Thistle Restaurant – Inverness

First off, I have to say that The Fig and Thistle was hands-down the best restaurant we went to in Scotland! It was a bit off the beaten path, on a side street. The restaurant is  small and popular, so I recommend getting a reservation. We managed to get a table and were glad we did! We were seated upstairs at a little two-seater table. The ambiance is romantic. Low lighting with a candle on the table. However, there were several groups there, so I don’t think it only targets couples.

They had lots of Gluten free options and the waitress even brought out some gluten free crackers for me to munch on while waiting for our food.

 

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Curried Tiger Prawn and Mango Salad

 

I got the Prawn and Mango Salad as a starter and it was delicious! Very light, but packed with flavor. Sweetness from the mango, tangyness from the lime dressing, and a bit of spice from the curry.

 

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Chicken, Leek, & Mushroom Linguine (Not GF)

 

For mains, My husband got the Linguine, which is not gluten free, but he said it was tasty. I got the Fillet Steak (without the mushrooms). I was super excited to get a dish with sauce on it. Between the gluten and the dairy intolerance, I rarely get sauced items. It was incredible! The steak was cooked perfectly, and was tender. The veggies were fresh and crisp. The hand cut chips were perfectly fried.

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Scotch Prime Fillet Steak in a Red Wine Thyme Sauce with Hand-Cut Chips and Vegetables

 

Honestly I was so impressed, that I had to send my compliments to the kitchen. We also debated going back the next night, but decided to try somewhere else instead. That place was good, but not nearly so great as the Fig & Thistle!

Artisan Roast

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This kitchy little coffee shop near the University of Glasgow was the perfect place for us to stop on our first day in Scotland. Our overnight flight landed at 6 am Glasgow time, but our hotel wouldn’t check us in until 3 pm. Needless to say we were exhausted, but had to keep moving. This cafe was the perfect place for us to caffinate.

They offer the basic European coffee styles (cappuccino, latte, etc.), but they also have soya and oat milk available for lactose intolerant people and vegans. They also had some light food and pastry options, though we didn’t get any. The pricing was reasonable too, even for the soya/oat milk up charge!  The coffee was delicious and strong. Just what I needed.

The staff was pleasant. The atmosphere was excellent. It was definitely geared towards the University students. The decor was eclectic. The tables and study nooks were closely packed to maximize seating. My favorite bit was the random books scattered around the cafe.  My husband quizzed me on interesting beer facts he found in one of the books. Oddly I got most of them right, even though I don’t drink beer!

Overall, I think it’s a great little place to stop if you are in the area.

Refreshing Bean and Corn Salad

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I know I have been a pretty absent lately and that is because I got too complacent in my cooking! I got in a semi-unhealthy rut and only just recently pulled myself out of it. What better way to get back into clean, healthy eating than to make a delicious refreshing cold bean and corn salad? It is plant-based, protein-packed, fiber-rich, and easy to make! I am seriously considering making this my new pot-luck go to item.

I used all organic or home grown (yay for vegetable and herb gardens!) ingredients to really up the nutrient value and reduce my sugary/processed food intake. When purchasing canned beans, this is very important. Most regular canned beans come packed in corn syrup! Ew! Organic beans come packed in salt water instead. If you want to use dry beans for this recipe, each can equals 1 1/2 cups of soaked, prepared beans. I also used fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf similar to cilantro, not curly) from my garden because parsley is great for detoxifying your digestive system! You can easily use  as a substitute for an equally refreshing, but slightly different tasting dish.

Refreshing Bean and Corn Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Calories per serving: 139

Fat per serving: 8

Saturated fat per serving: 1

Carbs per serving: 17

Protein per serving: 5

Fiber per serving: 3

Sugar per serving: 3

Sodium per serving: 221

Ingredients

  • 1 container (1 1/2 cups ea.), Black Beans
  • 1 container (1 1/2 cups ea.), Field Peas or Black Eyed Peas
  • 1 ear (146 g) or 1/2 can, Corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped (149 g), Bell Pepper, Red
  • 1/2 Small Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 cup Chopped, Parsley, Fresh, Chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 3 tbsp, Pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tsp, Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse beans.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Refrigerate.

Notes

Also contains 24% of your recommended daily Vitamin C intake! 10% of Vitamin A and 8% of iron too!

http://thehamperedchef.com/2016/07/07/refreshing-bean-and-corn-salad/

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

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I find that I bake cakes/cupcakes more than any other item. It seems to me that almost everyone likes a good cake, but not always cookies, pies, etc. I am also the go to person for birthday cakes. Rather than make the same cake over and over again, I like to experiment with flavors to keep things interesting. This is how I came up with the cinnamon roll cupcake idea. I used by trusty Vegan GF cupcake base, then added cinnamon. Super easy! I also used vanilla icing and candied pecans as a garnish. My favorite aspect of this recipe is that it uses Vegenaise (or mayo) instead of eggs and oil. It makes the batter smoother and the cake much more moist and fluffy.

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 18 regular cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 c GF All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar, granulated
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c Veganaise or Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbl Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbl Cinnamon

Instructions

  1. 1. Mix together dry ingredients
  2. 2. Mix in wet ingredients.
  3. 3. Scoop into prepared cupcake tin.
  4. 4. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350ºF.
http://thehamperedchef.com/2016/06/05/cinnamon-roll-cupcakes/

National Grilled Cheese Month with Rumiano Cheese! Bonus: Recipe Contest!

April is National Grilled Cheese Month! Who doesn’t love grilled cheese? I prefer mine served next to a bowl of tomato soup! However with my intolerances, grilled cheese is a bit tough to make. Non-dairy cheeses rarely melt properly, or taste like real cheese. Luckily though, I can tolerate low-lactose cheeses with an enzyme pill. Organic, grass-fed cheeses are also much easier to digest, and healthier too! No added hormones to mess with your body. This is where Rumiano Cheese comes in. Here is a little background on their company:

Rumiano Cheese Company is the oldest family-owned cheese company in California dating back four generations. Rumiano Cheese Company is committed to the organic, grass-fed and Non-GMO movement and continuing to produce the highest quality cheese inspired by their founding fathers’ recipes and cheese making techniques. In 2011, Rumiano launched their Rumiano Family Organic line, which is the first cheese in the US market to receive Non-GMO Project Verification.

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I was thrilled to be chosen to try out this cheese! I found it at my local Whole foods. You can see its placement on the top row of the cooler shelf in the photo above. It comes in many varieties, though my store only carries 3 types: mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and pepperjack. I was super excited to see that each one of those three listed 0g of sugar (i.e. lactose)! It did not say lactose free on the package, so I assume there may be trace amounts.

I couldn’t wait to get this home to make a grilled cheese! This cheese is great for melting. I used the sharp cheddar for the grilled cheese in the photo above. It had that lovely stretchy, gooey quality I haven’t seen in a low lactose cheese in forever! The taste was great too! I loved not having to feel guilty about eating it, since it is so healthy and doesn’t contain hormones or terrible fillers.

To find it at a store near you: Locator

Bonus: They are also having a grilled cheese recipe contest! Submit your recipe here by the end of April to try to win free cheese!

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Gluten Free Pancakes with Our House Mix

I was happy to be given the opportunity to try out the Our House brand of pancake mix and AP flour. The AP Flour is fairly straight forward: long grain brown rice flour, rice flour, sorghum flour, & xanthan gum. Nothing that would affect taste or texture over much. What I enjoyed the most, though was the pancake mix! I love pancakes! I have tried many recipes and mixes before, only to find their taste or texture sub par. The Pancake & Waffle mix has a few more ingredients: Rice flour, long grain brown rice flour, cane sugar, sorghum flour, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, & natural flavor. Aside for the “natural flavor” (which always makes me wonder), the ingredients are recognizable.  You also add similar ingredients as you would to a glutenous mix. Eggs, milk (almond for me), oil, water.

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The ingredients blended pretty easily and formed an initially liquid batter. Because of this, I mixed in in a large measuring cup. I learned this trick from my Mother-in-Law. It makes it easier to pour the batter into the skillet. Less mess!

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However, as you can see below, the batter thickened while I was waiting for the skillet to heat up. It ended up being too thick to pour, so I had to use a measuring cup to portion out the pancakes anyway.

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The end result was spectacular! The pancakes cooked much like glutenous pancakes do, with bubbles rising to indicate doneness. They cooked way lighter (not golden) than wheat pancakes do, so you have to keep an eye on those bubbles to judge when they are ready. As you can tell from the photo below, they have an excellent crumb structure. Light and fluffy, not dense or grainy. They tasted great too! I made both plain and chocolate chip and served them with my whipped vanilla “butter.” So yummy!

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Our House offers a complete line of baking mix products, including: all-purpose flour, brownie mix, cookie mix, pancake and waffle mix, corn bread mix, and baking mix. Please visit the Our House Website for more information on their products and where to purchase them.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All my opinions are my own. One may or may not have the same results as myself when using this product.

Gluten Free Pan Fried Fish

Have you noticed all the chain restaurants releasing their fried fish sandwiches and fish & chips platters to boost sales on the meatless Fridays during Lent? Since I cannot eat them myself, I decided to try my hand at my own fried fish platter. I thought I would share this recipe for the GF Catholics or for anyone who just happens to love fish and chips. I am still on the starch-less Body Ecology diet, so please excuse the broccoli replacing the fries in the photo.

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I noticed most recipes online use rice flour, but I find that quinoa and coconut blend well together to make an excellent breading (more soft than crunchy). There is a fluffiness to quinoa flour that you don’t get with rice and the coconut adds a little natural sweetness. As a bonus, they both are nutritionally better for you than rice flour. The club soda adds to the fluffiness too, as it creates air bubbles in the batter to mimic beer-batter style fish.

Gluten Free Pan Fried Fish

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 Fillets

Serving Size: 1 Fillet

Gluten Free Pan Fried Fish

Ingredients

  • Oil for frying (Avocado works well)
  • 2 c quinoa flour, split
  • 1 c coconut flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 ea whole eggs
  • 1 can (12 oz) seltzer water or club soda
  • 2 fillets cod or other white fish

Instructions

  1. Warm oil in fry pan to medium heat.
  2. Reserve 1 cup of quinoa flour in a separate dish.
  3. Mix the other cup of quinoa flour, the coconut flour, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper together.
  4. Cut fish into smaller pieces, if desired.
  5. When oil is hot, mix eggs and seltzer water into the coconut flour blend (it will fizz up) to make a batter.
  6. Coat each piece of fish in the reserved quinoa flour, then dredge it in the batter. Immediately place in oil.
  7. Cook each piece for approximately 5 minutes on each side.
  8. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined dish.
http://thehamperedchef.com/2016/02/26/gluten-free-pan-fried-fish/

 

5 Reasons Why Your Gluten Free Recipe Failed

Ever try baking a gluten free cake, only to have it fall flat? Maybe even bread or cookies too? It isn’t your fault! Bread, cake and cookies are staples in our lives and you shouldn’t have to give them up when you go gluten free. Even though it is becoming increasingly easy to find pre-baked GF alternatives in grocery stores and at bakeries, it is still much more expensive than making your own. They also aren’t always made the best way with the best ingredients. However, when the GF foodie ventures into making their own baked goods, they often fail at first and give up. No one tells you that the rules of GF baking are different. Not even the online or cookbook recipes. Here the top 5 reasons why your recipe fell flat:

  1. You opened the oven to check on it before it was done baking. 
    • The most common mistake that no one tells you to avoid is opening the oven to check on it before it is fully cooked. I grew up opening the oven to check on goods and had to break my self of this terrible habit. GF products are naturally less stable. The missing gluten is what holds up the bread or cake during baking. Even the slightest temperature change when baking GF goods will cause the fragile structure to breakdown and your bread/cake/etc will collapse.
  2. You didn’t let it bake long enough.
    • GF baked goods generally take longer to bake through. If your cake or bread has a gummy center, chances are you took it out of the oven too soon. For example, my glutinous bread recipes took around 25 minutes to bake, but my gf bread of similar size takes 45-60 minutes to bake through. This is why several brands of store bought GF bread have dark burnt-tasting crusts. Cooking GF items low and slow always yields a better result.
  3. Your oven temperature is off or you baked it at the wrong temperature.
    • Again cooking at a low temperature for longer is better. You cannot get away with rushing GF items by cooking them at a higher temperature, like you can with glutinous ones. If you are cooking at the suggested temperature, but still have issues, your oven may need to be re-calibrated.  When I first went GF, it blew my mind that my cakes took 1 1/2 hours to bake. I found out my oven was FIFTY degrees lower than indicated. You can buy a simple oven thermometer like this at any grocery store. Hang it from the rack you plan to cook on and watch it through the oven window to see if the temperature matches what your oven tells you.
  4. You used old ingredients. Especially baking powder/soda.
    •  Because the GF flours lack the elasticity of gluten, you usually need stronger or more leavening  products to create those lovely air bubbles you see in bread and cake that makes them so light and fluffy. Old or expired leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda have lost some of their leavening power, so you won’t see the product rise as well.
  5. The altitude or weather was different when the recipe was created. 
    • I know this sounds bizarre, but it was one huge takeaway I got from culinary school. Altitude and weather affect your baking. Even more so for GF products. Ever try baking macarons on a rainy day? What about proofing bread on a cold one? It never turns out right. Heat, humidity, and distance from sea level are huge factors in baking. Some factors cannot be controlled, but often you simply need to adjust your recipe to the weather. Most often it is an issue with liquids. On a wet day, reduce liquids, but on a hot day add more.

With this knowledge under your belt, you will be baking GF goodies like a pro! Please comment below or email me if you have any further questions or would like advice on a certain situation. I would be happy to help!

Almond Butter Cookies

So, the Body Ecology Diet is still rough. As a pastry chef, it is hard to avoid sugar, wheat, dairy and vanilla extract! I was about a month in before the cravings started. It also doesn’t help that Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us. I couldn’t fine any recipes for sweets on the body ecology diet, so I adapted a recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies to suit. Unfortunately the attempt at peanutless/flourless/sugarless cookies didn’t work so well! It took a couple of attempts, but the end result is worth it. I really like the salty/sweet taste. You can adjust the salt and stevia to suit your palette. For those of you on the BED, you will need to make your own almond butter from sprouted almonds, use alcohol free vanilla, and use ground flax seed instead of almond flour in the early stages of the diet.

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Almond Butter Cookies

Yield: 12-15 cookies (depends on size)

1 cup Almond Butter

1 Whole Egg

1/4 cup Almond Flour

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

Stevia or monkfruit powder , to taste (I only did 1/2 a packet)

 

  • Mix all ingredients together with a hand mixer or a fork.
  • Roll into 1-inch balls.
  • lightly press with a fork to flatten.
  • Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool (will crumble when warm), then eat!

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Ancient Grain Bread

 

Multi Grain Bread

Unfortunately, there are few breads allowed in the beginning stage of the BED.  The only approved bread seller sells only locally in California and online ($10 per loaf + S&H!). Because of this, I have been going through bread withdrawal. Therefore, I decided to make my own. The following bread recipe is my adaptation of the Stage 1 Body Ecology bread. I am still working on making it more sandwich bread-like, but for now, it is a better option than what is offered on the body ecology website. If you have several days, you can opt to both soak and sprout the grains before using them. I didn’t think that far ahead, so they are simply soaked overnight in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup millet
  • ½ cup amaranth
  • ½ cup buckwheat
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds or psyllium
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar

-Soak quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds in just enough water to cover them. Let sit at least 8 hours or overnight.

-Carefully drain off excess water.

– Blend them in a food processor, gradually adding in each of the other ingredients. Make sure to separate baking soda and vinegar, so you avoid the foam. Blend until you have a loose paste. Add more water if paste is too thick.

– Pour into a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan (8×4 will work too, but will be a tight fit). Top with seeds, if desired.

-Bake at 325°F for 60-90 minutes, until top springs back when pressed.

-Allow to cool 10 minutes, before removing from pan.

-Allow to cool entirely before slicing.