In this series of posts Sally shares the first stages of her lifestyle change to a gluten-free, potato-free and low sugar diet, as one of the ways to manage her fibromyalgia symptoms.
Here Sally is still trying to make life easy: she turns to some old favourites, makes good use of leftovers and has her first real disaster. All is made better though thanks to another of Nigella’s cake recipes and a new found respect for polenta.
Pate rocket and cherry tomatoes on gluten-free crisp breads
I hadn’t yet baked, well, I hadn’t organised myself to go shopping and I didn’t have any ground almonds. Coffee time was approaching and my cake and biscuit tins were empty. So, off to our local village shop for more of those chocolate macaroons and I had a quick browse of the other gluten-free items. Knowing I had nothing substantial for lunch, I decided to try a packet of Schär Crispbreads, which were reasonably priced.
These have now become a store cupboard addition. One of the few off-the-shelf gluten-free products I don’t despise. They have a nice crunch, last longer in the mouth than rice cakes and are less sweet. They have a better flavour than many of the slimming style crisp breads and crackers and are quite palatable on their own or with toppings – a good discovery.
Chicken, mushroom and spinach risotto
A leftovers favourite and one that fits with the ethos of my voluntary work as a Love Food Hate Waste champion, but one you have to be feeling fit to make. This is how I do it:
I use 100g of risotto rice per person, make up 500ml vegetable stock per person (I use Swiss Bouillon powder rather than a stock cube as you have more control over the flavour) and add either onion or shallot (garlic sometimes), parmesan cheese, butter and whatever else I have available. For this one I used leftover cooked chicken (without the skin) from Sunday’s roast, half a bag of spinach and a few mushrooms.
- First I cook the spinach and mushrooms separately and make up the stock, which I leave in a pan on the stove at a low simmer.
- Finely dice the onion or shallot. Heat some butter in a heavy based saucepan (I never weigh my butter, but roughly 25g per person). Add the onion/shallot and garlic if using and sweat until they become transparent.
- Add the rice and stir so that the grains are coated in the melted butter. Add more butter if you need to. Too much just makes a richer risotto, so don’t worry.
- Add a ladle of hot stock and stir continuously allowing the rice to absorb the stock. Repeat adding stock and stirring, until the rice has swollen and you can bite it when you taste it. Don’t worry if you haven’t used all the stock. If you need more stock you can use some boiling water from the kettle. If you use a lot of water and it tastes a bit bland then sprinkle a little Swiss Bouillon powder over the risotto and stir.
- Reduce the heat to low. Grate in parmesan cheese to taste.
- Add the other ingredients and distribute well throughout the risotto and allow them to heat through.
Although there’s a lot of stirring and I have to spoon the risotto from the pan when it’s still on the stove, as it’s much to heavy for me to move, I find making risotto quite therapeutic. A bowl full of creamy risotto is the perfect comfort food.
Leftovers Spanish Omelette
Roasted vegetables (from Sunday’s dinner), 2 cherry tomatoes, half a red onion and the last of the polenta, which had become quite, dry.
This is a delicious new favourite and, apart from the tricky manoeuvre of holding a plate over the pan so as to flip the omelette over, quick and easy.
Beef Stew, Spring Greens and Cauliflower
(Dumplings and potatoes for my husband, of course)
Avocado, Tuna and Egg Salad
The tuna and egg make this a rather substantial salad. I always prepare more basic salad than I need (lettuce, cucumber, celery) and keep it, without any dressing on it, in an airtight container in the fridge. This way I have some easy lunches for a few days.
I love fresh cooked beetroot with salads and beetroot has the added advantage of being a natural antidepressant, apparently it boosts your serotonin levels – certainly makes me smile when I taste it.
Similar to Tuesday’s dinner – I like cooking meals that last more than one day.
So, having had a few easy days and having eaten all of the chocolate macaroons, I decided to try a different cake recipe.
When I found Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake I also found her recipe for Lemon Polenta Cake. I’d seen one of the Masterchef: The Professionals finalists make a pistachio and polenta cake, which looked stunning and had gone down well with the judges. Polenta in a cake then must be good.
And it is. This cake is utterly divine. It’s moist, buttery with a wonderful citrus zing – a perfect companion for a black Americano in the morning. Once again, it’s popular with everyone. There is no favourite between this and the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. They are both loved equally and devoured quickly.
Another easy recipe – my only concern was the polenta I was going to use. I’ve learned that there are two kinds: coarse and fine; but I have only been able to find one kind in the supermarkets, which seems to be a general, non-specific polenta. I went with it. It worked!
Thursday Morning Coffee
Guess? Black Americano and Lemon Polenta Cake
All leftover from Wednesday – just needed assembling.
Fish pie and vegetables
A challenge. I’d found some reduced price fish pie mix and prawns when shopping, knew we had a leek and some eggs and we love fish pie. It’s a real treat. This is naturally gluten-free because of its potato topping, but I’m not eating potato! No problem, I thought. I made up the fish with leeks and hard-boiled eggs as I usually do and divided it between two small dishes. I topped one with mashed potato and cheese for my husband and the other with a mashed sweet potato and cheese for me.
Happy husband. Miserable me – yuck!
The sweet potato was far too sweet and certainly wasn’t helped by the addition of the cheese, which made it very sickly, especially when combined with the rich filling. A disaster! And one I can’t see my way to fixing at the moment.
Fibro-foodie sad about the fish pie,
. . . but happy to have cake. Hope there’s enough for the weekend.
Positively living with fibromyalgia