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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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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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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Lentil Ragù

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

In Italy, Sicilians make a pasta sauce that’s much like a bolognese, but instead of making it with minced meat they make it with lentils. This creates a deliciously thick and ‘meaty’ lentil ragù that’s incredible over pasta.

When Jen from Your Birth Scotland tasked me with developing some recipes for her pregnant and postpartum clients the first thing I thought of was a dish that would be primarily based on lentils because they’re one of the most incredibly nutritious and healthy pulses available. They’re also unbelievably cheap to buy and can be used in a myriad of dishes.

There are four main types of lentil which are used in cooking. Green and brown lentils hold their shape after cooking, so are suitable for using in stuffings, casseroles and warm salads. Yellow lentils break down into a pulp and tend to be used for making recipes like pease pudding or split pea soup. Puy lentils are beautiful greeny-slate coloured lentils that are grown in the Le Puy region in France and are prized for their high quality taste and their ability to retain their texture after cooking. These lentils tend to be used alongside fish and meat, such as in sausage casseroles. And lastly, we have the humble common red lentil, the most versatile lentil of all, which breaks down upon cooking to create a rich, thick puree that can be used to add texture to any dish while soaking up the flavours you wish to impart.

Aside from being highly fibrous and high in protein and carbohydrates, lentils are packed full of vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, calcium, phosphorous and essential B vitamins. All of these support good overall health for everyone, but are particularly useful for women who are either pregnant or postpartum because they help to maintain healthy iron levels and prevent anemia while also supporting good metabolism operation to ensure your energy levels remain stable. As you can see, lentils are a win-win really!

One of the benefits to this lentil ragù (aside from the fact that it’s delicious!) is that it’s made in the slow cooker, allowing you to focus on other things throughout your day. It simply is a case of throwing all of your ingredients into the slow cooker pot, setting it on low, and getting on with your day.

This lentil ragù is fat free, iron rich and is packed full of lots of vegetables, making it a very healthy dish indeed. If you have a partner who insists on having meat every day then you could throw some diced casserole beef in alongside the lentils and it would taste just as good. I think the lentils are quite substantial enough as they are without having to add meat to the recipe, but each to their own, I say. You could also add mushrooms to it if you fancy or if you’d like to give it a smokey kick a half teaspoon of smoked paprika would do the trick. Also, if you make this and enjoy it you could try making The Happy Pear’s Dahl recipe in your slow cooker, which is also packed full of healthy, nutritious little lentils and is lovely served with rice and naans or poppadums.

Serve your lentil ragù on a bed of tender tagliatelle and scatter with fresh basil leaves and grated parmesan (or a vegan alternative).

Ingredients:

1 large onion (diced)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

3 large carrots (cut into small pieces)

500g red lentils

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tsps. of dried oregano

4 Oxo vegetable stock cubes

1 litre of boiling water (possibly more)

20 pitted black olives (halved)

10 sundried tomatoes (chopped)

500g tagliatelle

Fresh basil

Parmesan (or a vegan alternative)

Method:

Dissolve your Oxo cubes in a jug containing 1 litre of boiling water.

Prepare the ingredients as directed and put them all in your slow cooker.

Pour the stock over the ingredients, adding more hot water if necessary so that all of the ingredients are just covered by the liquid. (This depends on the size of your slow cooker, so if you’ve got a large slow cooker you might need to add more stock.)

Let it cook for the day (if you’re in the house you could give it a stir once an hour, but it’s fine to just leave it if you’re going out).

About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, check the seasoning. If it needs it, then add salt and pepper or another Oxo cube or two. It’s very much down to personal taste.

Cook your tagliatelle as directed on the pack, drain, portion onto plates and top with the lentil ragù, basil and parmesan. Enjoy!

The Simple Ingredients Required to Make The Fat Foodie's Lentil Ragù

The Simple Ingredients Required to Make The Fat Foodie’s Lentil Ragù

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie About to be Slow Cooked

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie About to be Slow Cooked

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Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

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Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

The other night I needed something quick to whip up for dinner, but I wanted to make something that was going to be more exciting than a freezer pizza. After a rummage around the fridge I saw that I had a packet of puff pastry along with some good ripe tomatoes that had to be used up, so I figured a roasted garlic and tomato tart would do nicely.

Apart from having to roast the garlic for half an hour this is a pretty speedy and easy to create dinner, but most importantly, it also tastes out of this world.

I’ve kept my tart fairly simple by going for the roasted garlic and tomato topping, but you could easily make the tart with a topping of thinly sliced courgettes with green olives, pesto and spinach, bacon and cheddar cheese, or roasted peppers with mozzarella. Your options are extensive to say the least.

I served my roasted garlic and tomato tart with a drizzle of sweet balsamic glaze which massively complemented the roasted garlic and tomatoes. It went beautifully with a fresh, green salad that was tossed in a light French salad dressing. This tart is a perfect example of how it’s the simplest things in the culinary world that often bring the most amount of pleasure.

Ingredients:

1 whole garlic bulb

1 tbsp of sunflower oil

500g block of puff pastry

6 ripe tomatoes (each cut into eight wedges)

20 pitted black olives (cut in half lengthways)

1 small onion (thinly sliced)

1 tbsp American mustard

50g Violife Pizza Mozzarella

Fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper

Balsamic glaze

Method:

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

Cut the tip off the garlic bulb, drizzle with 1 tbsp of sunflower oil, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven for half an hour. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

In the meantime, line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Roll out the block of puff pastry so that it just fits your baking tray.

Using a knife, lightly cut a line around the outside of the pastry (about 1 cm away from the edge), but try not to cut all the way through the pastry. Prick the interior all over with a fork.

Rolled Out Puff Pastry in Preparation For the Filling

Rolled Out Puff Pastry in Preparation For the Filling

Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic pulp out of the cloves and put it in a bowl.

Add 1 tbsp of American mustard to the garlic puree and mix.

Roasted Garlic Puree

Roasted Garlic Puree

Spread the garlic and mustard puree all over the inside of the puff pastry (avoiding the outer edge) before placing the sliced onions, tomato wedges and black olives on top.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the grated vegan mozzarella.

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Raw Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart Ready to be Baked

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and your toppings are cooked through.

Freshly Baked Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart

Freshly Baked Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Serve either as it is or with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Bellissimo!

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

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