Counterbalance salad

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Feeling guilty lately?

I certainly am.

Not because i haven’t unpacked the last boxes of our big move to our new flat (Pics to come), but the enormous amount of indulgence in sugar that i have consumed with the stress of it all …

Not just for convenience sake either. I’ve been really craving. For anyone who has been following me lately on my Twitter @wbites i have been noting my bad habits and today i noticed it had gotten too far.

“It’s bad to eat M&M’s for breakfast. but they do have peanuts in. and people have peanut butter/Nutella on toast. I’m really trying here…”

Oh dear.

So i am stood in my bedroom unpacking remaining boxes, nibbling M&M’s (other sweets are available), and whilst trying to work out the Feng Shui of it all…there was the guilt. Hit me all at once. If i can Feng Shui my bedroom, i really should be doing it to my internal body. Then there was @KymGertLush tweeting about how good she felt after the gym this morning, good endorphins and what not, so i just had to put dowwwnn the M&M’ssss and GET OUT; like the glass in the F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode when Phoebe tries to get Monica over Richard.

Anyway.

So a counterbalance was in order. The brighter the food the better it is for you. Then i had thought. M&M’s were bright. This is where someone needed to slap me.

Salad.

Insalata.

The first is classical; Insalata Tricolore, my husband Rob’s absolute favourite. Although the mozzarella and avocado combo is not completely good for the waistline, use less and add salad greens like i did to make it a very nutritious lunch; full of potassium, B-vitamins and Folic Acid. This was Rob’s plate i made..avocado, fresh baby tomatoes, silky mini buffalo mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. The best you can get.

Caprese, Insalata Caprese, Salad, Caprese salad, avocade, tomato, gluten free, basil, pepper, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, wuthering bites, @wbites, easy, simple, nutricious, lunch,

My favourite salad of late must be however, my

Fresh Spinach, Sweetcorn, Cucumber and Fried Halloumi with a Garlic, lemon and Tarragon dressing.

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For the dressing: put one garlic clove, the juice of half of a lemon and two strands of fresh Tarragon into a mortar and pestle and grind to a paste.

Pour 100ml of olive oil into the paste and leave to infuse.

Fry your Halloumi in thick slices in a flat skillet with no oil, until brown on either side whilst you prep the rest of your salad ingredients.

Mix a bunch of Spinach with chopped cucumber and freshly boiled – off the cob sweetcorn and drizzle over half the dressing. Mix well.

Place your Halloumi and pour over the remaining dressing.

Sharp, tangy and sweet, with excellent textures of crunch from the sweetcorn and cucumber with the chewy Halloumi and Spinach.

Kitten, eating salad, flat skillet, bunch of Spinach,chopped cucumber, freshly, off the cob,drizzle,,dressing, Sharp, tangy,sweet, salad, quick, easy, different, gluten free, excellent, textures, crunchy, sweetcorn,cucumber, chewy, Halloumi,Spinach.

Now for cake.

Only kidding….!

xxxSxxx

Wedding Madness and Hen Parties for the Gluten Intolerant.

Sorry it’s been a while, my only excuse really is that I’ve got my wedding in nine weeks and things have been a bit crazy on the organisational/supplier front. I’ve written a good load of recipes but just had no chance to test them causing me immense cake creation woe. Of course i’ve been doing things like making paper flowers then thinking ‘wow i’ve spent 8 hours making paper flowers’ hah.

paper, purple, teal, green, flowers, wedding, handmade,

Still I can’t really complain about the absolutely gorgeous Food and Wine tasting at Ellenborough Park, in Cheltenham, U.K (Our wedding venue of choice), which just seemed to pull out every stop to cater for my gluten free needs. Couldn’t recommend more to you gluten free brides to be! Plus they have beautiful china:

Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham, U.K, England, Tea, Afternoon, China, Tea set, english, breakfast, strainer, shiny table

Which leads me to what my maid of honour and I have been trying to figure out for the past week; the hen party. At first I was pretty daunted about the prospect of having a hen party. One of those ridiculous, ‘L-plated’ hen parties which involves a lot of neon/hot pink attire and butler in the buffs trying to seduce me with their bodies. Oh please, I’m really not one for six packs that look like duplo blocks. I’m an ‘alternative’ chick; funny how all of this springs up farmyard metaphors.

This doesn’t mean that I’m a bride that doesn’t like to have a good dance and drink in the evening (I’m partial to a bit of ABBA yes.), but lets say I’d rather spend more money on something that’s going to make me remember rather than forget? Ya’ with me? To conclude, something memorable in the day, then have a night out of alcoholic craziness.

Like a few insightful websites I think it was evident that the new trend of hen party activities in the day center around having tea and cake, so alas, I was there like a non alcoholic shot.

I’ve decided to compile a list of sophisticated hen party ideas for you keeping in mind us gluten intolerant folk as well. Quite frankly there aren’t enough lists online that feature all of these alternative ideas in one go so I’ve tried to create a helpful content post more than anything that highlights some of the best.

Drink, Shop and Do

http://www.drinkshopdo.com/Drink,_Shop_%26_Do/Drink,_Shop_%26_Do_%E2%80%94_Home.html

Drink Shop and Do enables you to basically have a lovely afternoon tea, (macaroons, truffles, scones sandwiches) then do a craft activity. Don’t laugh now, the craft doesn’t have to make you feel like a granny, the bridesmaids can all make fabric corsages together for the wedding and the bride can make a fascinator or garter (oh I say!). There are a wide range of activities you can do, do go on the website and have a look- one of my favourites was making ‘Cake Pops’ how so very in trend…

The afternoon tea packages are from £20-£32 per person.

The craft activities range in pricing from £16-£35 per person.

For 36 quid each that’s your afternoon sorted, decorate to your hearts content then go off on a night on the town!

Gluten free? Oh yes. They do gluten/wheat free options but do inform them in advance as with everywhere…

Bake –a-Boo

http://www.bake-a-boo.com/hen-parties-celebrations

Bake-a-Boo offers afternoon tea hen party packages which include decorations, confetti, party poppers, favours, balloons, dressing up box (the girly works basically) with a full afternoon tea and the opportunity to add on craft activities or even a burlesque masterclass if you’re the more daring hen group.

It should be a gluten intolerant hen’s first choice, I mean just read this:

“Boo’s ‘Sensitive’ Afternoon tea! (Gluten free)

(A tea designed for coeliacs and gluten allergy or intolerance sufferers)

  • Filled gluten free finger sandwiches
  • Gluten free scones with jam & cream
  • Gluten free cupcakes
  • Gluten free apple and date cake slices
  • Dark chocolate dipped strawberries

All served on tiered cake stands with a refreshing pot of tea!”

 At £24 per person I really wouldn’t be complaining and I’d be in gluten free heaven! Off the hen party package the gluten free afternoon tea is just one pound more than the gluten afternoon tea which I think just optimizes the fact that having an affordable gluten free option is possible everywhere.

Some pretty photos of Bake-a-Boo can be seen on their Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/bake-a-boo

A Most Curious Party

 A Most Curious Party is exactly what it says on the tin really, something unusual and fun. I recently read an article on a hen do hosted by them and they set up a wonderful tea party picnic with props and decorations right in the middle of Regent’s park (complete with afternoon tea), don’t know about you but that is my kind of cake related fun on a sunny day. I came from a childhood of arranging numerous picnics in the park with my friends, bringing all sorts of sweets and treats, so this sounded like something which would relate, in terms of surroundings, for a lot of people. It doesn’t have to be in a park of course- it could be in your luxury penthouse apartment you’ve rented for the weekend if you’re feeling flush; but all that matters at the end of the day is the people you’re celebrating with.

 http://www.amostcuriousparty.co.uk/vintage-hen-do.html

I love the fact they can supply you with a photographer or hair and make up artist- it’ll feel like your on location for a photoshoot in London, as you do…

Not sure if they do Gluten Free, but at £15 a hen you get all the crockery, set up and decorations you need- just tell the maid of honour to supply some yummy gluten free alternatives. (Of course for £20 per hen you get prepared sandwiches and cakes too :P)

Mad Hatter’s & Make up Party

From a most curious party to Mad Hatter’s –it just seemed a natural transition! Benefit have teamed up with award winning Mad Hatter’s couture parties by Katherine Elizabeth Millinery to bring the ultimate slash out productive day activity. With vintage fabrics, costume jewellery, beads and all sorts supplied you get to learn how to make your own ‘mad hat’ or lovely corsage for the wedding. It’s a great keepsake for the bridal party and definitely a very unusual but fitting occasion that involves sipping cocktails out of tea cups. The icing on the cake would be the £20 Benefit voucher to spend on make up for each hen, a goodie bag of treats and advice on what make up look would be best fitting for your new masterpiece of a hat.

At £60 a hen, it is more expensive for a hen day activity but if you haven’t managed to get your bridal party any gifts yet, consider contributing this way!

http://www.katherineelizabethhats.com/benefit.html

Cake Boy Hen Party

http://www.cake-boy.co.uk/events.php

Another one for a gluten intolerant hen is Cake Boy (otherwise known as Eric Lanlard) in Battersea Reach. If you like a strong French accent like myself then this may be the perfect option really if you’re not really into men lathering themselves in baby oil. At £95 per person, it’s not exactly the cheapest option, but I would say probably the most sophisticated and classy:p I mean, he does have his own TV show Baking Mad. He’s designed a class just for catering hen party groups in which you get to make two types of cakes and then sit in a glamourous lounge and indulge in cakes you desire whilst sipping champagne. Glorious.

One thing I liked about the class is that it starts at 2pm and finishes at 6pm, perfect for going straight on to the bar, then the club. As seen in some of his programmes there are plenty of cake creations their team makes that are gluten free, so providing you phone in advance and notify- that shouldn’t be a problem. Don’t you just love all this ‘tailoring’? :)

There you have it, my five ideas for a gluten free, sophisticated hen party- hope you find something you like!

Food love,

Sarah x

Brownie stands for comfort.

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. Don’t worry it won’t be one of those blog posts, I promise.

My IBS has been giving me a lot of stomach trouble, terrible pains and the worse digestion skills in the world. This is all alongside a lot of stress and worries of finding a job, and fast before I consider myself worthless to the world. Naturally stress and worry makes all forms of IBS worse; it just comes hand in hand.

I sat down today rethinking my whole mental strategy and how I could make this week go any better and although I can only eat them in moderation, I can always feel reassured from a brownie.

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There are several reasons why making brownies is good for you.

Lots of mixing involved. I won’t get all scientific on ya’ but all the energy released is good for the ole stress. Plus any aggressions you have at the world you can determine on the strength needed for what your mixing; for example mine tends to go in a rather, Simon Cowell, Unemployment, David Cameron, kind of way. THUS, If I’m mixing together the butter and sugar by hand this is the perfect opportunity to pretend it’s a politician’s brain.

They are adaptable in every kind of way.

From the ingredients you add into them and to the frosting or flavours you put in them. For me this is where my creative energies are released and if the recipe succeeds, even better.

 For this brownie recipe I chose to use Macadamia’s, and a peppermint frosting. I just find that when you bite into a macadamia it’s got such a smooth texture, which isn’t at all grainy like a walnut or pecan. The peppermint was a decision I chose to somewhat aid my stomach, as I normally drink peppermint tea after meals which often settles my pains I thought that somehow psychologically it would work in this way too.

For me, one is a good amount.

To satisfy, a good brownie should be very dense and very sugary. One is perfect with a cuppa, firstly for my IBS and secondly for my weight.

So yes, brownies do stand for comfort. You must always abide by this rule however…

Never eliminate chocolate

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Dark chocolate and macadamia nut brownies with a peppermint frost.

[Substitution and additional notes: One word of warning, the larger you chop your macadamia nuts the more likely the brownie mixture will break (I found out the hard way, but managed to salvage a good few squares), so although in my pictures they are quite large-give them a chop once more. Flour I would substitute the almond for more all purpose gluten free blend, as it’s a dark chocolate recipe flours such as millet are slightly worthless really as you can’t taste it’s flavour; but by all means if you have nothing else!]

Ingredients

            100g unsalted butter

            150g coarsely chopped good-quality dark chocolate

            40g  unsweetened cocoa powder

            45g  gluten free all-purpose flour

         45g of almond flour

            1/4 teaspoon baking powder

½ a teaspoon of Xanthan gum

100g of finely chopped macadamia nuts (use 20g for the topping)

            1 teaspoon salt

            100g dark brown muscuvado sugar

            2 large eggs

            2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting

Cream cheese 100g

40g of soft butter

1tsp of peppermint extract

300g icing sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Butter a loaf tin thoroughly and set aside.

Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool slightly.

Mix together flour,, xantham gum, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.

Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl and mix.

Add in the chocolate mixture, beat until combined.

Add flour mixture; beat, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated.

Add nuts.

Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for about 25 minutes but check at 20mins with a toothpick.

Leave it to cool and prepare the frosting!

Peppermint Frosting

Beat the icing sugar and , peppermint essence and butter together until the mixture comes together. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat quickly. Don’t overmix otherwise it will become wet.

Serve whenever you need to feel better again.