Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

One of the meals that seems to be very popular within the FODMAP community is moussaka. I must admit, I love when Marks and Spencer includes their moussaka as a main meal option when they have their Dine In For £10 deal on, but sadly it’s unsuitable for me now because it contains loads of dairy in the form of its generous topping made of rich, butter and cream-filled béchamel sauce. Oh, and I think it’s got gluten in it too. Sigh.

However, I’m not one to shirk at a challenge so I decided that I would try to create a dairy-free and gluten-free moussaka that would rival the decadent M&S one. I headed off to my lab (aka the kitchen) and started tinkering with a recipe which resulted in a very tasty moussaka that had layers of soft flavoursome vegetables sandwiching a rich tomato beef mince ragù and was topped with a thick, creamy béchamel sauce. I’m quite proud of it actually!

Traditional moussakas are made with layers of aubergines and potato, but I’m not a massive fan of aubergines because quite frankly they bore me. They have hardly any flavour and no real texture to speak of. I’m hard pushed to think of a vegetable that could rival the aubergine to claim the title of most boring vegetable in the world. I know they’re supposed to be great at soaking up flavours in dishes, but my view is, why not just use a tastier alternative in the first place?

As a result of these strongly held opinions I have regarding the aubergine, I have used sliced courgettes and sweet potatoes in the moussaka which I believe enhance the flavours of the herbs and spices in the tomato ragù. Feel free to go with the traditional if you like, but I’d urge you to try this version instead. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And although this is a dairy-free and gluten-free moussaka, if you don’t have any dietary restrictions you could just make it with normal butter and flour. It’ll taste just as good regardless.

Ingredients for the tomato mince:

2 courgettes (sliced thinly lengthwise)

1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

400g beef mince

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsps dried mint

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp gluten-free plain flour

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato puree

2 tbsps olive oil

2 sweet potatoes (thinly sliced)

For the béchamel sauce:

50g dairy-free butter

50g gluten-free plain flour

400ml rice milk

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3 tbsps of Engevita (or 25g parmesan if you’re not dairy-free)

1 egg

Method:

Thinly slice your courgettes and place them on a microwaveable plate. Cook in the microwave until soft. Do the same with the sweet potatoes.

Place a saucepan on a medium heat, add the olive oil to the pan and cook the mince.

Once the mince is cooked add the salt and pepper, cinnamon, oregano, mint, flour, tomato puree and the tin of chopped tomatoes. Cook until hot.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan before whisking in the flour, Engevita and nutmeg.

Slowly add a little rice milk at a time, stirring continuously, so that eventually a thick sauce is created. (Don’t panic if it looks really lumpy, just keep stirring and adding more milk and it’ll come together.)

Once the béchamel sauce is thick, take it off the heat and add parmesan if you’re using it. Leave to one side to cool a little while you build your moussaka.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/ Gas mark 5.

Take a large casserole dish and spread a third of the mince over the bottom of the dish.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Base Layer

Place your courgettes on top of the mince in an even layer and top with another third of the mince.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Second Layer

Top the mince with the slices of sweet potato.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Third Layer

Add the last of the mince on top.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Fourth Layer

Whisk the egg thoroughly into the white sauce mixture. Pour the béchamel sauce over the mince and bake in the oven for 45 mins.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Béchamel Sauce Topping

Freshly Baked Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Serve either on its own or with a fresh salad.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

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Beef Chilli Nachos

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

On Saturday night I couldn’t be bothered cooking anything particularly time consuming, so I decided that a plateful of corn nachos covered in a rich beef chilli would do nicely for dinner. These nachos only took half an hour to make, but they resulted in a very satisfying and chilled out TV dinner.

I’ve been following the low FODMAP diet and a couple of things that they strongly advise you to stay away from is onion and garlic because they’re renowned for irritating IBS. To begin with I found this very restrictive because onion and garlic are the base ingredients for so many dishes, but as time has went on I’m discovering that really, you don’t notice when they’re omitted from recipes.

When I decided to make these beef nachos I found myself pausing before starting to cook them and asking myself whether they’d be any good without the usual addition of sliced onion and minced garlic, but upon tasting the beef chilli I can happily confirm that they weren’t missed at all.

I served the beef chilli on top of a bed of crispy corn tortilla chips. I used Morrison’s Savers lightly salted corn tortillas which, along with being very tasty, have the added benefits of being both gluten-free and cost only 46p a bag! I only wish I could have added a healthy dollop of guacamole to my nachos, but that’ll need to wait until I’ve finished my two month FODMAP elimination phase. For now the jalapeños and dairy-free cheese did very nicely.

This simple, but tasty recipe for beef chilli nachos makes a generous plateful of crunchy salted tortilla chips that are covered in a rich, hearty and satisfying beef chilli. It’s a perfect meal for those evenings that require you to cook something that’s low fuss, but delicious.

Ingredients:

450g beef mince (or vegan mince)

2 red peppers (diced)

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper

1/2 a bag of plain tortilla chips

Possible toppings: jalapeños/guacamole/fresh chilli/fresh coriander/grated cheese etc.

Method:

Cook your beef mince in a pan (I dry fried mine, but you could add a little oil if you wanted) and once it’s cooked add the red peppers, herbs, spices and tin of chopped tomatoes.

Cook for ten minutes and then taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as you see fit, but remember that your tortillas chips are salted, so you might not need as much salt as you think.

Put the tortilla chips on each plate and top with a generous helping of beef chilli.

Add any additional toppings and serve.

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

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Potato Wedges

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Fact: There’s nothing better than a homemade chip.

Second fact: Fried chips have been sold in Britain since 1854, but they’ve actually been eaten in British homes for centuries.

Third fact: Homemade chips taste way better than a frozen ready-prepared chip ever could.

Fourth fact: Homemade potato wedges are unbelievably easy to make. So, let me show you how…

I made my family lentil ragù the other night, but because I’m following the FODMAP diet (to help manage my IBS better) it wasn’t suitable for me to eat. I was then faced with the decision about what I was going to make for my own dinner. I had a bag of potatoes in the fridge (which are fine to eat for FODMAP followers) so I figured that a plate of potato wedges would go down nicely while also serving as a nice side to go with the lentil ragù the family were having.

Potatoes are packed full of vitamins and minerals. In terms of vitamins, you’re talking about getting a healthy portion of vitamin C, E and K, B6, and folate. Their minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. That’s better for you than a plateful of starchy wheat-based pasta any day, isn’t it really?

I had two varieties of potato in the fridge, not for a particularly exciting reason, it was just that they were left over from two separate bags of potatoes. My point is that the blend of two varieties lent a nice variation in texture and flavour to the potato wedges because some of them were really sweet and firm whereas others were dry and floury. For such a plain plate of food, it truly was a celebration of the humble potato.

I cut my potato wedges by hand with paring knife, but you can buy really clever potato chip makers produced by companies like Lakeland which make it really easy to make perfect chips. Equally, you could use a tool such as an Easy Grip Potato Slicer which is much cheaper and would give you uniformly cut potato wedges. I’m happy with oddly shaped, non-uniform potato wedges personally though, so I’ll just stick to using a plain old knife.

You don’t need me to tell you what to serve potato wedges with, but I had mine with a tin of mackerel in spicy tomato sauce and it was a delicious meal. The potato wedges had far more flavour to them than any frozen chips I’ve ever had (even the expensive upmarket ones). If you fancy more exciting potato wedges you could add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to your seasoning before you pop them in the oven which will give them a smokey, BBQ sort of flavour. Whether you pep up their seasoning or not, these potato wedges were sweet and crunchy around the edges, but soft and fluffy in the middle, just like any good potato wedges should be.

Ingredients:

Enough potatoes for the number of people you’re going to be feeding (I normally go with around 2 medium sized potatoes each)

Sunflower oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Peel your potatoes and cut them through the middle into halves and then into wedges. I normally get around 8 wedges from a medium sized potato.

Place on a non-stick baking tray and coat them lightly with sunflower oil. (Only use enough so that they’re just lightly coated because you don’t want them swimming in oil.)

Season generously with salt and pepper and place in the oven.

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Once your wedges are golden brown and soft when pierced with a fork, remove from the oven and serve.

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

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Beef Madras

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Now that spring is creeping in, with its sporadic sunny, but chilly days it’s tempting to get work done in the garden. However, I know fine well that if I’m going to be working in the garden all day the last thing I’ll feel like doing when I get in is cooking a decent meal from scratch. I think a hot bath to take the chill from my bones (helped along by a warming glass of wine or two) will be a much stronger calling. So it was with a great deal of foresight that I prepared this beef madras in the slow cooker before I headed outside the other day.

The beauty of using the slow cooker to cook a curry is that it allows the spicy flavours to permeate into the casserole beef throughout the whole day while the slow cooking process also tenderises the meat. As a result, you’ve got a wonderful meal to come home to after a hard day’s work with very little effort and minimal prep work involved.

Upon tasting this beef madras, I discovered that it was a bit on the spicy side for my family so I kept my (dairy-free) portion aside and added double cream into the rest. I don’t mind quite a generous amount of heat in my curries, but the addition of the cream seemed to be a resounding success with my family because it tamped down the heat of the chilli in the curry while adding a luxurious richness. Equally, you could omit the madras curry powder and use a garam masala curry powder instead, which will add flavour, but not heat.

If you like meals that involve very little work to prepare and curries with plenty of body and flavour then this beef madras is definitely one for you to try.

Ingredients:

450g Casserole beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2tsps hot Madras powder
1 tsp (heaped) ground turmeric
2 tsps Marigold stock boullion powder
1 tsp salt
2 peppers (diced)
1/2 packet coconut cream (grated)
1/2 pot Elmlea double cream
Serve with basmati rice
Method:
Set your slow cooker on low and put the beef, chopped tomatoes and coconut cream in.
Put the stock, Madras curry powder, salt and ground turmeric in a jug and add around 100ml of hot water to it and stir before adding to the slow cooker. Stir until everything is mixed together.
Leave the beef madras to putter away all day. About twenty minutes before serving add your diced peppers. Taste to see if you need to add any more salt. Make your rice.
When you’re ready to eat, serve as it is or add double cream (or a dairy-free cream) if you feel it’s a bit too spicy or if you just want to make it richer.
Serve with rice, naan breads or poppadums and fresh coriander.
Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

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Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers (Makes 6)

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers by The Fat Foodie

This is my final guest post for Jen, the doula from Your Birth Scotland, so I decided that I’d make it a recipe that was family friendly for mums who have their hands full and need a relatively quick, but nutritious dinner to serve their families. I figured everyone enjoys a good burger, so why not make it one that would be a great healthy option for both expectant mums and mums with families already?

Beans are incredibly healthy because they are a nutritionally dense protein that is full of soluble fibre (which lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar levels, ensuring you have a slow and steady release of energy) and also insoluble fibre (the kind that prevents constipation and, shall we say, ‘keeps you regular’). Beans also contain folate, a B vitamin which prevents anemia and keeps our blood cells healthy, and magnesium, a key mineral required for our metabolism. Therefore, after reading about how nutritionally important beans are to our overall health I figured they’d be brilliant to make a good burger with.

One of my favourite things to eat is a burger. I don’t know what it is about burgers that pleases me so much. It could be the tactile nature of sandwiching something seriously tasty between the two halves of a soft, fresh bun or it could also be the epic range of toppings that you can adorn your chosen burger with. These toppings include things such as cheese, a minefield of options in itself when you are faced with the choice of a cheese slice, a handful of grated cheddar or mozzarella, or a melting coating of blue cheese.

You’ve then got the question of salad. Do you go for sliced tomatoes, crispy iceberg lettuce or a leaf or two of little gem, thinly sliced red onion, or fresh cucumber slices? There are other potential additions to your burger to consider too, such as jalapeños or even an onion ring or two. That’s before you even start looking at sauces! Or do you dare to go for all of the above, risking the entire structural integrity of your whole burger operation in the pursuit of the perfect bite? It’s evident that burgers are truly a risky, yet rewarding, business.

As much as I enjoy a beefburger I also very much like a good bean burger. (I should probably mention at this point that I’m not vegan, I just enjoy eating vegan food quite a lot and I’m allergic to dairy so it makes sense to make vegan food because it doesn’t contain dairy.) I like making bean burgers in particular because they’re really easy to make in the food processor, enabling me to knock up a quick dinner in no time at all. There’s also a wide range of flavoured bean burgers you can make, meaning I never get tired of them.

I decided to make these Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers because I had some broccoli in the fridge and wanted to try it in a burger. The experiment worked quite well and I’m pleased to say that they are delicious. The broccoli adds a nice texture and the butter beans are bland enough that they don’t overpower the taste of the broccoli, but they absorb the BBQ flavours really well. It’s cornmeal (polenta) coating helps hold the bean burger together, but crisps up nicely in the oven, adding a nice crunchy bite to the broccoli and butter bean BBQ burgers. As a result you have a bean burger that has a great soft texture inside with a lovely crunchy outside.

Serve your broccoli and butter bean BBQ burgers in a fresh bun with a selection of toppings, such as coleslaw or hummus (I used Deliciously Ella’s Sundried Tomato Hummus), grated cheddar/vegan cheese slice, tomato, lettuce, gherkins, jalapeños, vegan mayo or BBQ sauce with french fries on the side.

Ingredients for the Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers:

200g raw broccoli florets

2 tins of butter beans (480g drained weight)

1 egg (or a vegan egg made of 1 tbsp. of chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsps. of cold water and soaked for half an hour)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves (minced)

2 tsps. smoked paprika

The juice of 1 lime

30g sunflower seeds

50g pumpkin seeds

50g cornmeal (polenta)

To Make a Quick Coleslaw Blend These Ingredients in a Food Processor:

2 large carrots
1/4 white cabbage (or equal weight to the carrots)
1/4 of a white onion
As much vegan mayo as suits your own taste.
2 tbsps of American mustard  (or a hotter mustard, like dijon, if you prefer).
Freshly ground black pepper.
Coleslaw by The Fat Foodie

Coleslaw by The Fat Foodie

To Make the Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers:

If you’re not using a normal egg, prepare the chia egg by mixing 1 tbsp of chia seeds with 3 tbsps. of cold water and leaving them to soak for half an hour.

Chia Seeds Soaking to Make a Chia Egg

Chia Seeds Soaking to Make a Chia Egg

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam in the microwave until tender.

Place all of your ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it’s combined together. Empty onto a plate.

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Raw Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burger Mixture

Sprinkle your cornmeal onto another plate and lay out a piece of greaseproof paper beside it, so you have a production line in place.

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Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers About to be Formed

Take some of the bean burger mixture and form a burger patty with it before coating it in the cornmeal. Continue making burgers until all the mixture is used up.

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Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers Mixture

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers Being Shaped

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers Being Shaped

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers Being Coated in Cornmeal

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers Being Coated in Cornmeal

Place your burgers on the sheet of greaseproof paper and bake in the oven until they are golden brown.

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers Ready to Bake

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers Ready to Bake

Serve in buns with whatever toppings take your fancy.

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers by The Fat Foodie

Broccoli and Butter Bean BBQ Burgers by The Fat Foodie

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