Need a silly easy recipe for refined sugar free chutney? Look no further…

refined sugar free chutney
When I returned from a year of living in Cambodia in 2006, it was with a very heavy heart. I was down and out and ridiculously vulnerable. I worked briefly for my friend’s (now ex) husband which did not end well. Then I worked for a year for a man who was essentially the male version of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

Yes. He was that bad!

He’d come into the office the morning after watching The Apprentice thinking he was Lord Al. Firing people left, right and centre over the silliest things. I was one of his right hand wo/men, and stood on the correct side of him. Until I dared to disagree with him that is, then he turned on me quicker than milk left in the blazing sun. We were on a jolly up in a foreign country. It was the catalyst for my second mental breakdown, hitting rock bottom and turning my life around. I guess in a way I have a lot to thank him for.

refined sugar free chutneyYou might be wondering what all this has to do with refined sugar free chutney?

After I was eventually freed from that particular toxic environment I couldn’t face getting another job. So I set up my own business making dips and chutneys from my little kitchen in Streatham. Having recently gone refined sugar free (this was 2007) I wanted to create food that would appeal to people eating like I was. Alas, it was way ahead of it’s time, and ended up bankrupting me. You live and you learn though, and I genuinely would not change a thing.

Life lessons like that sometimes take, well, a lifetime to gather. In the year that followed they were plentiful and shaped the way I now think. Especially when it comes to money. This might sound silly to some, but if you aren’t taught financial well being at a young age it can have devastating consequences. More on that topic another time.

Just like all my other recipes, this is also low in natural sugar. Regular readers will know by now that nothing winds me up more than someone calling a recipe sugar free only for it to be loaded to the hilt with sugars and sweeteners. Most food in it’s natural state (fruit, veg, grains, nuts…) contains some form of sugar. If you aren’t adding any to your recipe you wouldn’t call it sugar free you would say no added sugar.

I’m sharing a small batch recipe here, but it lends itself marvellously to being made in a bigger batch. I once turned 200kg of onions into 500 jars for a trade show. My friend said the house smelled like pickled onion monster munch and refused to sleep on our couch in case the scent never came out of his clothes. Oh how different things are now, eleven years later with three children to keep me busy.

refined sugar free chutney

What you’ll need to make a small jar of my refined sugar free chutney

A clean 350g jar, you can sterilise it if you wish
Small lidded saucepan
Spatula
Sharp knife
Chopping board

refined sugar free chutney500g onions
1/2cup or 120ml vinegar
(I’ve used raw organic cider vinegar here but balsamic also works wonderfully)
1/4cup or 35g sugar
(I’ve used organic coconut blossom, but muscovado works great too. You could use honey, but I feel that cooking honey for this long would be a waste of all the gorgeous nutrients. You could also use maple syrup or coconut nectar)

Method

– chop your onions any way you wish and place them in your saucepan

– sprinkle over the sugar

– pour over the vinegar

– place on the highest heat for about 30 seconds, then turn down low and put the lid on your saucepan

– simmer for one hour, checking in every 10 minutes or so and stirring to ensure it’s not getting burnt

– add a small drop of water to loosen the chutney if it does start getting a little bit stuck to the pan

– allow to cool and decant into your glass jar, keep in the fridge

– wow all your friends at barbecues with your home made condiments

– this is a perfect accompaniment for burgers. Check out my trio of easy home made burgers

 

 

Three years ago I created my paleo flatbread recipe, and I’d say it’s been made at least a hundred times since. My little crew love to use it as the base for pizza, which is always a fun meal as it involves the whole family. Mumsnet came to our house to film us making our perfect paleo pizza, and we had a blast!

The base is ridiculously easy to make, and is super tasty. The two main ingredients are arrowroot and coconut flour. Arrowroot is a non-grain resistant starch said to help lower blood sugar levels, which is always a win in my book. It also costs a fraction of the price of nuts, which are my other go-to flour substitution. Coconut flour has many health benefits and compliments the arrowroot perfectly. Check out this article for more info.

Perfect paleo pizza – full recipe 

Ingredients for the base (super yummy on its own as a flatbread):
1 cup ground arrowroot
1/3c coconut flour
1/3c fat of choice
1/3c water
1 egg
1 clove garlic, chopped finely or crushed
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 tsp sea salt

Other ingredients:
Tomato puree or pesto
Favourite cheese
Favourite toppings

perfect paleo pizza

Method:
– preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper

– in a small saucepan put the fat (I like using leftover dripping from roast lamb), vinegar, garlic and water. Heat gently until it’s all liquefied

– while that is heating, put the arrowroot, salt and herbs into a large bowl and stir

– make a well in the centre and crack the egg in it, then pour in the warm fat mixture and give everything a good stir to form a sticky dough

– add the coconut flour and mix well to form a ball

– then start putting it onto the baking tray, either as one large bread or several small ones if you have little helpers like I do

– remove from the oven and spread over your tomato puree or pesto

– add your toppings and cheese

– cook for another 5 mins and serve immediately

kids love pesto

What a treat: Head Chef and owner of Cafe Murano Angela Hartnett and fellow celebrity chef Rachel Allen

It’s not every day I get invited to eat in the private dining room of a gorgeous restaurant. Or have my food cooked by a celebrity chef, while another celebrity chef tells me all about her latest partnership. Last Tuesday I found myself at the stunning Cafe Murano, and the memories from the meal will last a very long time.

They did themselves proud with our delicious feast to celebrate the launch of the new Sacla’ cookbook La Famiglia. Drawing on the family owned business’s Italian origins, Sacla’ have joined forces with Rachel Allen to bring you quick and easy recipes the whole family will enjoy.

Do your kids love pesto?

Sacla’ have been selling pesto in the UK since 1990, back when there was no pasta sauce isle in the supermarket. Nowadays they have a gorgeous range catering for everyone on the foodie spectrum. It’s not just the classic green stuff either. Sacla’ have over a dozen pesto’s to chose from and their current mission is to get more families enjoying it.

If you asked me to describe a jar of Sacla’ pesto in three words I would choose wholesome, versatile and convenient. I’m not usually a fan of jarred food, but there are no nasties to be found here. Being paleo, we don’t eat a huge amount of pasta in my house, but my kids love pesto as a dipping sauce. I certainly prefer them to smother their food in pesto rather than ketchup, as it’s so much more nutritious.

My lovely friend Rebecca who blogs at Glutarama is running a Sacla’ giveaway, so head over to her blog to win lots of goodies.

La Famiglia: The Family Book of Pesto

I’m sure most parents will agree, there is little more disheartening than slaving away over a meal only for the children to turn their noses up at it! With a few jars of Sacla’ stashed in your cupboard, great tasting food is never far away. Who can argue with clean plates and happy kids?

kids love pesto

My new favourite snack: sundried tomato pesto on the end of raw veggies

La Famiglia is practical, compact and has been written in conjunction with celebrity chef, Rachel Allen. It’s packed full of quick, healthy and (most importantly!) super tasty dishes for all the family. Rachel’s baked tomato and basil omelette is my personal favourite. Closely followed by pesto fish fingers, and sweet potato burgers.

A few paleo ideas if your kids love pesto  

I’ve become rather partial to pesto on the end of raw veggies, eaten as you’d eat houmous. I can’t get enough of British asparagus at the moment. Hubby likes it with raw mushrooms, and the kids love it as a dip for their chips and roasted veggies.

Add a jar of pesto to a big pot of chopped veggies and meat. Pour over some fresh stock and cook on a low heat for five hours. This makes a ridiculously easy and delicious one pot casserole (also works in a slow cooker). I’ve experimented with lamb shanks, chicken thighs and pork belly so far. They were all absolutely scrumptious.

Courgetti and classic basil pesto is always a winner. I tried to remember the first time I ate courgette ribbons, and am pretty sure it was around 1997, a long time ago. Nowadays of course it’s been given a much trendier name and is a firm fave with low-carbers because it’s so damn tasty. I’ve got three strong courgette plants growing in my garden as we speak, so am hoping for them to provide many meals over the late summer and autumn.

Pesto makes a wonderful marinade for any piece of fish, and most meat. Then serve on a bed of buttery greens and mash.

It’s just fabulous instead of tomato puree for home made pizza. I use my arrowroot and coconut flour flat bread instead of wheat based dough.

kids love pesto

The gorgeous new Sacla’ cookbook La Famiglia, written in partnership with Rachel Allen

To keep up to date on pesto related news, check out the Sacla’ website and their social channels by clicking on the links below

Website
Facebook
Instgram
Twitter
Pinterest
YouTube

**This is a collaborative piece, click here for my full disclosure policy.**

If I had a pound for every time I’ve shouted obscenities at misleading ingredients labels I’d have quite a lot of extra cash in my bank account!

I’ve been obsessed with ingredients labels since first cutting out refined sugars and processed carbs back in 2007. Like many, my major dietary changes came off the back of a medical diagnosis. In my case it was polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS as it’s widely known). I was told at the time that I would not be able to conceive without fertility treatment, but changing what I ate led to three healthy, uncomplicated, natural pregnancies. Take a peek here and here for more details, and why I’m comfortable calling myself a member of the sugar police.

Had I not been so hell bent on turning my health around, perhaps I would never have wandered down the path I did when it came to food. I don’t see it as a bad thing though, quite the opposite. Eating this way before embarking on motherhood meant that I was more than confident when it came to feeding my family. Nowadays eating consciously and healthfully is not even something that takes up my head space, it’s second nature. Which is why I was so keen to join the Organix team, as a no junk blogger.

ingredients labels

Learning the hard way that I couldn’t trust the headlines with ingredients labels

When Polly (almost nine) was two and a half she was diagnosed with a long list of allergies, and I had to learn another language. Her worst offender was corn, especially corn syrup and we discovered that manufacturers use corn derived ingredients in many processed foods (often as a sweetener). I was shocked to find out that there are almost one hundred corn derived ingredients, which are given weird and wonderful names.

I’ve seen baked goods in the supermarket contain five different types of corn sugar. FIVE! It’s bonkers, and really sneaky. What this meant for us back then was that we had to be super careful about giving Polly any food that I hadn’t made myself.

I’m all for from-scratch home cooking, but lets be honest, us parents need our cheats. Especially for hangry toddlers. It became quickly apparent that there were a very small number of trustworthy snack brands that I could count on. Everything else had to be avoided at all costs, because it always contained corn derived ingredients. We even had to send her to birthday parties with a packed lunch, which was heartbreaking every time.

Thankfully Polly doesn’t suffer nearly as much these days, but she is still sensitive to certain foods (yes I’m still looking at you corn). The thing I love about Organix packaging is every ingredient is clearly labelled, along with the percentage of the ingredient it contains. You couldn’t get more transparency if you wanted it.

Ingredients labels

A few pointers when it comes to ingredients labels

First and foremost, don’t trust slogans such as “no sugar” or “natural”. These are marketing gimmicks, and reading the full label, especially for children’s food is essential.  

If it sounds as if it was made in a science lab, it more than likely was. Natural ingredients rarely have long, complicated and unpronounceable names.

Don’t be intimidated by ingredients labels, feel empowered by them. This is a great step to taking control of your eating.   

Always go for the products with the fewest ingredients on the label. Less is definitely more in this instance.

Organic food is kinder to the planet and our bodies, but I’m sure you know that already.

Proud to be an Organix No Junk Blogger  

Organix is increasingly concerned about the quality and quantity of unnecessary ingredients in some baby finger foods and toddler snacks, and thinks the massive explosion in the number of snacks available has come at a nutritional cost, as standards have slipped.

Therefore it’s launching a nationwide junk busting campaign, to investigate what’s hiding in some baby and toddler snack foods. Organix is working with Cherry Healey from the BBC show Inside the Factory, who is joining the Junk busting mission to investigate baby finger foods and toddler snacks.

Take a look at this short video clip for more tips from Cherry

**this is a sponsored post, for my full disclosure policy please click here**

**this blog for paleo chocolate sponge cake has been written by my 8yo daughter Polly**

Hi it’s Polly here. I haven’t written a blog in a while so I thought I should. I love baking and this is probably the best chocolate cake that you could ever possibly make, but you probably know that from looking at the title.  

I started my cooking journey when I was about 2 years old and used to sit on the kitchen side mixing a few things in a bowl. I remember that it made me so happy. I started properly cooking alone when I was 7 years old.

Recently I went though my mums old cooking journal that she wrote before we went Paleo, and changed the recipes to make them Paleo friendly. For example, instead of gluteny flour I used almond flour, instead of normal sugar I used coconut sugar or honey.

This is how I invented my winning chocolate cake, which is the nicest cake I’ve made so far. I’ve made it for a few people’s birthdays, and even my really fussy friends ate it and loved it.

😀

Ingredients for Paleo Chocolate Sponge Cake:

paleo chocolate sponge cake1 cup Ground almonds (But if they are fine then 1/2 a cup)
1/3 cup Coconut Sugar
1/4 cup Cacao
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 Tea spoon Bicarb
1/4 Tea spoon Vanilla powder (If using Vanilla Extract you will need 1 Tea spoon)
3 eggs

For Butter cream

100g Raw Butter
2 heaped spoons of Cacao
1 heaped spoon of Honey
1/2 Tea spoon Vanilla (If using Vanilla Extract you will need 1 Tea spoon)

Method for Cake:

– Preheat your oven to 170c

– Grease your tin 

– Mix Together Ground almonds, Coconut sugar, Cacao, Vanilla and Bicarb

– In another bowl Whisk together your eggs and Oil

– Put in tin

– Bake for 15-20 Min’s

Method for icing: 

– Soften your butter (But don’t leave it so long it melts)

– When it is soft add your honey

– Then add your Cacao

– Put into a piping bag and pipe on top and in the middle if you want 

Me and my mummy making Paleo Chocolate Sponge Cake

Click here for more blogs by Polly