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!

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/

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/

 

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.

Beef Stew

With winter upon us, nothing satisfies me more than a hot bowl of beef stew. It goes back to my child hood, when my mom would make it and serve fresh baked bread along side it. Of course now, I can’t make it the same way she does. After some experimentation, I found a good basic recipe, and will now share my dietary restriction friendly adaptation with you! I use beef bone broth for this, as it is considered very healing for the digestive tract. You can use other broths, if you do not want to make your own. everything in parentheses are the original ingredients that I swapped out for BED friendly ingredients. Use whatever is right for you. Also, I apologize for no photo. Beef stew is not very photogenic.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbl coconut or olive oil
  • 1 pound stew beef
  • 1 medium onion, white or yellow, rough chopped
  • 1.5 quart beef bone broth
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cubed (or potatoes)
  • 1 cup green beans, cut to bite sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 each bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt (reduce or omit if using store bought broth)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbl coconut aminos (or 1 tsp Worstershire sauce + 1/2 tsp sugar)

Fast prep, slow cooking method:

-Put everything in a 4 quart or larger crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

 

Slow prep, fast cooking method:

-In a 4 quart or larger stock pot, saute onion in oil until translucent, then remove.

-In same pot, sear beef, then drain off fat.

-Add all into stock pot, and simmer until vegetables are softened & meat is cooked through.

 

Middle ground (what I did):

-In a medium saute pan saute onion in oil until translucent, then remove.

-In same pot, sear beef, then drain off fat.

-Put everything in a 4 quart or larger crockpot and cook on high for 4-6 hours.

Pickled Willy’s Gourmet Pickled Seafood #PickledWillys

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Pickled Willy’s is a family/veteran owned and operated specialty seafood processing plant in Kodiak, Alaska. They sell a variety of seafood related items in various forms. Their smoked fish seems popular and they have won awards for it. Their flagship products, pickled seafood, are what is unique about the company. They use an old family recipe with secret seasonings they won’t divulge! Their commitment to quality is commendable. All of their products are 100% sustainable and fished from Alaskan waters. The products are hand packed, low in fat, high in Omega-3’s, all natural, and have no preservatives. Their ingredients are simply as follows: Halibut/Lining Cod/Sockeye Salmon/King Crab, Organic Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Water, Pickling Spice, Onion, Salt (Fish). Bonus:Their products are also gluten free! They are also committed to providing their long-distance customers with the freshest product. They shipped it UPS expedited and it was extremely well packed with bubble wrap, ice packs, and lots of “this end up” stickers (which UPS ignored).

Also, if you car ever in Kodiak, you can visit their shop and sample the various products they sell. Pickled Willy’s products make great souvenirs and gifts. If you happen to do some fishing while you are in Kodiak, Pickled Willy’s will even process and ship your catch back home to you! You choose the preservation method. So cool!

Now, your first question is probably “Does it taste good?”

I assume this is your first question, because it is usually the first question anyone asks before they try something new. Some people might be wary because the combination of pickles and fish is a bit unusual, aside from some tuna salad recipes that contain pickle relish. Also the only pickled fish most people have heard of is the Northern European delicacy pickled herring, which has an unfortunately bad reputation. I want to debunk this unfortunate reputation, because Pickled Willy’s seafood is quite tasty! It is a mild pickling solution, so you don’t notice the vinegar bite you get in many pickle products. The sugar is also not overpowering, which is nice. The pickling spices also compliment the fish, so they don’t cover up the natural flavor of the fish. Best of all the fish tastes fresh. If there is one taste I cannot stand, it is the pungent taste of fish that has been frozen or sitting around for a couple of days. Pickled Willy’s obviously uses fresh caught fish that they pack right away to preserve the natural subtle taste only found in a fresh catch. So overall, the pickled seafood has a mild, subtle taste that can only compliment your meal, not overpower the other ingredients. And don’t forget the health benefits!

Your next question “How on earth do you eat it?”

There are many things you can do with pickled fish. The simplest is to serve it as an appetizer on a cracker, piece of toast, or slice of cucumber. Adding a dollop of sour cream is often recommended (but I can’t say if it is good, because I cannot eat it!). Pickled Will’s packs all of their fish in bite-sized chunks, so they are convenient for appetizers. The seafood is also tasty as a main dish in sandwiches, wraps, and on salads. You can even mix it with other ingredients to make a dip! The Pickled Willy’s website also has a recipe page to give you some ideas. If you want to eat it plain, then some popular pickled fish accompaniments are cold mayonnaise based salads, such as potato or macaroni salad, beets, boiled potatoes, and hard boiled eggs.

Seriously, how great (and unique!) an appetizer would it be to serve the salmon on a slice of cucumber with a dab of sour cream and a sprig of dill on top! This would be a great idea with the holidays just around the corner!! Here is my test batch:

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For more information or to purchase visit pickledwillys.com

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.

Korean Briased Tofu with Green Onion

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Before I found out about my gluten intolerance, my husband and I used to go to our favorite little Korean restaurant once a week. I love that in addition to your main dish, you also get a variety of little side dishes called banchan. Unfortunately, it is hard to find gluten-free Korean food in a restaurant. Almost every dish involves soy sauce, fried elements, or gojuchang (a Korean chili paste that contains wheat!). So, as always, I have begun to try to replicate these dishes at home. I think that tofu is an under appreciated food here in the US, because it has been labeled as an option for vegans and vegetarians. Omnivores seem to avoid it here. However Asian countries have long since included in in their diets, in addition to meat. I greatly respect that, as it is a healthy and versatile source of protein. This particular dish is normally served as a banchan, but it is so good I could eat it by itself or maybe on top of some greens as a salad!

Ingredients

1 block tofu (14 oz)

2-3 stalks green onion – cut into 2 inch long peices

3/4 cup gluten free or tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp gluten free gojuchang or other chili paste (I used a chili garlic paste I found at the Asian Market)

1/2 tsp minced garlic (omit if using chili garlic sauce)

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sesame seeds (for garnish)

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saute pan.
  2. Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, garlic, and sesame oil in a separate bowl.
  3. Drain and cut tofu into desired size. I chose larger rectangles, but smaller bite-size pieces work too. Pat dry with a paper towel (this is very important, since any excess water will cause the hot oil to spit while cooking).
  4. Pan fry tofu on both sides until lightly browned.
  5. Add in green onion and saute to wilt it slightly.
  6. Add in sauce mixture and cook for a few minutes until it is slightly reduced.
  7. Top with sesame seeds, serve, and enjoy!

French Onion Soup

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I have to say that this is my absolute favorite soup! It is simple to make, low in calorie (until you add the bread and cheese!), and tastes great! I don’t get to eat it very often though, because it is made with beef stock, which often contains gluten. Also, there is the bread and cheese to contend with!

Ingredients

2-3 medium onions, yellow or white, sliced thinly

1 – 32 oz box of GF Beef broth (I used Rachel Ray’s brand, because it is all natural)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp of dried thyme (or 1 sprig of fresh)

1 Tbl of GF Worcestershire Sauce (I used Lea & Perrins)

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  1. Slice onions and saute until translucent in a small amount of oil or butter. This can be done in the same stockpot (4 qt for this recipe) you will cook the soup in, to save dishes.

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2. Add in bay leaf, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Cook 10-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

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3. Portion out into oven save bowls, top each with a piece of your favorite GF bread (the crustier the better), and your favorite cheese (soy mozzarella for me!) and broil in the oven until the cheese melts.

  • If you  do not have oven safe bowls or do not want to take the extra time to cook the soup altogether, you can cheat! While the soup is cooking, top your bread with the cheese and toast it in either a toaster oven or in your conventional oven. When the soup is ready, pop the toasted cheesy bread on top and serve!