Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Eating Smart - the new Free From recipe app from Woman & Home & an experimental Summer Tortilla


Check out this amazingly delicious Summer Tortilla that I made on the spur of the moment last night, inspired by Woman & Home's new Free From App : Eating Smart. It is as delicious and healthy as it is vibrant and is made from a load of leftovers that were taking up space in the fridge. It is so tasty and easy, that I think it may become a regular feature for a speedy midweek supper, as well as to use up food before it gets wasted.

I have always loved recipe books... the feel of them.... the fact that you can hold the weight of them on your lap, whilst you turn the pages..... drooling over the beautiful pictures of stunningly photographed food...... the rows of them on the shelf which tell everyone who visits that food is your passion...... the very 'realness' of them...... But...... increasingly (and particularly since becoming gluten free), I look to the internet for foodie inspiration and recipes, whether for special occasions or everyday meals. There are still relatively few 'free from' recipe books on the market and as fellow free from cooks out there will know, it can be incredibly frustrating trying to find a recipe that fits exactly what you want to cook amongst the few FF hardbacks you actually own. Consequently, the internet takes on an increasing importance in filling the gap. You can google an ingredient, a dish, a course of a meal and it will throw up endless permutations and possibilities to tantalise your tastebuds......Somehow it is more 'instant' and more valuing of your nutritional needs.


Recently, Woman & Home contacted me to tell me about a new recipe app they have just launched called 'Eating Smart' and asked if I would be interested in reviewing it for them. The app, which takes their magazine of the same name to a new electronic level, is specifically designed around Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Vegan recipes. I love the opportunity to check out anything new in the world of dietary limitation that I inhabit...... so of course, I jumped at the chance to have a look and see what was on offer.


The editor Jennifer Bedloe hails Eating Smart as 'the first free from app where you can find easy, inspirational ideas for gluten free, dairy free and vegan diets'. Initially free to download, the app will give you a selection of recipes straddling each free from requirement (6 recipes in total), but for full benefit and variety, you will need to download the additional recipe bundles (at 99p each via I-Tunes) for each dietary need. Each of the three dietary bundles will give you access to 20 recipes, which (having checked them out) seems like pretty good value. Although each bundle is aimed at a particular dietary need, there is plenty of cross over between them, with each recipe being labelled GF/DF/V for ease of identification of suitability. If you are gluten or dairy free, buying all three seems a good bet as you will gain access to plenty of other ingredient-compatible options to suit your needs (and I have to say that some of the most tempting GF baking and dessert recipes can be found lurking in the vegan pages!)

If you are vegan however..... beware! Although there are a number of gluten and dairy free recipes in each of the three bundles, the app's vegan recipes are almost entirely located in the vegan-specific bundle. The 'V' so helpfully identified at the start of many recipes in the GF and DF bundles only specifies 'vegetarian' and includes many ingredients which are animal-sourced. Although I was looking at the app through specifically gluten free eyes, I felt this lack of consistency in the labelling would potentially be very frustrating if I didn't eat animal products, and needs clearer explanation.


Downloading the app onto my I-Phone via I-Tunes was quick and easy and (thankfully) required no additional technical knowledge or research (I am often confused by new technological requirements and am the butt of many jokes in my family where I am seen to be shouting at the computer when it doesn't perform to the standard expected!). Initially, I was a little frustrated that I was not able to download to my Macbook (just comes up with a message saying 'not currently available'), but once I had it on the phone, I instantly saw the benefits of access via a smaller device, particularly when out shopping for ingredients or looking for inspiration to the (daily) question 'what shall we eat tonight?'. If your ability to plan ahead is anything like us, the need for quick ideas on the way home from work will be all too frequent, so the possibility of grabbing the app to spark some creativity as well as having a 'to hand' list of ingredients to pick up from the supermarket before reaching home is fabulously convenient.

In addition to bundles which section recipes into dietary need, the app organises them into helpful sections around type of dish which I liked : Entertaining; Midweek; Baking; Dessert. The format is easy to navigate from one section to another, with ingredients lists and methods being clear and easy to understand and dishes being made with accessible ingredients easily available in most supermarkets. Overall the recipes provided are interesting, tempting, varied and well-balanced (all accompanied by beautiful photographs) and are for the most part, straight forward to prepare ensuring they are well-within the skill range of most people.


Sections at the start of each bundle provide basic practical information and advice on necessary variations for each free from larder, as well as various tips and tricks for altering each recipe either to suit other dietary requirements, or for taste and interest. I found these additions really interesting (I had never considered that cake baking might be more successful with the oven fan 'off') and helpful (the instructions on how to make cashew cream are amazingly straight forward). These additions will be particularly useful when faced with having to cook for someone with a less familiar intolerance.

Descriptions of ingredient substitutions and how they can be used effectively were clear, concise and way better than many I have seen (I finally think I understand the principles of egg replacement ratios and how to use non-egg alternatives). The app presents all the recipes in a way which is neither complicated or fussy and would still be familiar in process to anyone who has been recently diagnosed with an intolerance. This struck me as quite important in trying to get the message across that being 'free from' should not be frightening or intimidating.

My only criticism on the larder and practical information sections is that (from a Coeliac perspective) I would have liked to see more on the hidden risks of gluten contamination when sourcing ingredients (given the health risks of getting it wrong) with more emphasis on the necessity of reading labels to ensure products such as sauces and stock etc are truly gluten free. This would be particularly important for people using the app to prepare meals for others with intolerances. Whilst this issue is counter-balanced for some recipes where risks are more clearly identified, this is not consistent. My worry is that not understanding this as a critical process, may lead to silly mistakes which could have a significant impact on health!


There do also appear to be a few glitches in the proof-reading which need ironing out. For example, my initial excitement at seeing Squash and Greens Tart (vegan bundle) marked as 'GF' quickly turned to disappointment when the ingredients listed 'puff pastry' (which of course contains wheat flour). Heavenly Choc Pots list 'dairy free chocolate' in the ingredients alongside cream and creme fraiche. The gluten free Carrot, Apricot and Raisin Cake apparently requires 'gluten-free plain wholewheat flour' (now there's a contradiction!). And the front page for the vegan 'Midweek' section is headed 'Gluten Free'.  Whilst these are probably just silly inaccuracies (and I feel slightly 'smug' for having spotted them (and a couple of others)), they are misleading and potentially risky for those less pedantic than myself.......

That aside, the dishes across the board look delicious and (having a particularly sweet tooth) many of the desserts and bakes look divine....... I particularly have my eye on 3 recipes in the vegan bundle..... the Chocolate Truffle Cake, Coconut Truffles and Coconut & Cherry Rice Pudding, all of which are vegan, dairy and gluten free. Triple bonus!!

All in all, I am really impressed with the app and am really pleased to have had it brought to my attention and to have had the opportunity to explore it in detail. It has great variety and is easy to use, with straight forward recipes and accessible ingredients. I can't confirm how well the recipes actually turn out as I have yet to try them practically, but with Woman & Home's excellent reputation, I would expect them to have been extensively tested before passing them on to the unsuspecting audience. The fact that the Eating Smart app can be 'kept in your handbag' makes it perfect for moments when immediate inspiration is required, and meals need to be rustled up without a drama.  I am genuinely excited about trialling the dishes at home and with more recipes and bundles to be added over the coming months, look forward to adding to the collection......

 

So back to the Tortilla...... Its creation was indeed completely triggered by my lack of planning for tea and getting home tired and not particularly in the mood for cooking. Time to test the app! I flipped through the Mid Week sections and there in the Dairy Free bundle I found a delicious looking Salmon Tortilla....... Problem was I had already got home and couldn't face a trip out again.......

Having quickly read the recipe through, it was clear that this one is really adaptable (and I was in a veggie sort of mood), so checking out the fridge for leftovers, I decided to make a few substitutions of ingredients...... Left over honey-roasted butternut squash (from this recipe) to replace the listed potatoes..... some left over roasted peppers & tomatoes and fried onions (from another recipe to be posted soon) instead of the salmon and spring onions...... and a dash of fresh cream (as this is what I had, although the recipe (being dairy free) lists soya cream in the ingredients).

Wow! The flavours and colours are just incredible....... A perfect midweek meal! I make no apology for using different ingredients to those listed...... I was really grateful and happy that I had not only been inspired by the app at short notice, but had also demonstrated the versatility of the recipe to fill the tortilla with whatever you have to hand. I followed the method closely as stated and thanks to Eating Smart, I found what I think will be a well-loved supper alternative to the ubiquitous baked potato!


It will make great picnic food too!

I am sharing my take on the Tortilla with the following challenges :


The No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.










Credit Crunch Munch with Baking Queen 74, Fuss Free Flavours & Fab Food 4 All.




Simple & In Season also with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary on behalf of Ren Behan.











Meat Free Mondays with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes.

Cook Blog Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.












Free From Fridays at the Free From Farmhouse.










Summer Tortilla (makes 2 to 3 portions)

Ingredients (mostly leftovers)  

a little olive oil
honey-roasted butternut squash (about half a small squash) from this recipe
a few roasted tomatoes
roasted red & yellow pepper (equivalent to about 1 small bell pepper)
fried red onion (about ½ an onion)
2 large eggs
100 ml cream/soyacream (for dairy free)
seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, herbs)
sprinkle of cheese (dairy free/vegetarian as necessary)

Method 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Using a little olive oil, lightly grease the inside of a 1½ pound non-stick loaf tin.
  3. Scatter a layer of butternut squash in the bottom, followed by some roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers and a little fried onion. Season as you wish.
  4. Repeat 3 with a second layer of veg. 
  5. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the cream and pour into the tin over the veg.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes (40 to 45 minutes if you make a larger amount), until the centre is set (I tested with a sharp knife to see if it came out clean).
  7. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes, before taking from the tin. Eat either warm or cold.
With Thanks to Woman & Home for the opportunity to review the Eating Smart app and for bringing it to my attention. I was not paid to write this post, neither was I required or expected to write a positive review. All views represented are my own and are an honest reflection of my experience of using the app.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

14 comments:

  1. This app looks interesting and it is even free! Your tortilla also looks amazing, I love all those bright colours. So healthy and delicious!

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    1. Thanks Alida. It was so good, I've made it again since for a picnic! It was fab cold and easy to carry! x

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  2. oooh, that looks 'app'solutely gorgeous. I love the idea of that app too having had my GF sister staying recently i've needed some inspiration!

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    1. Ha ha ha....... You're such a comedian Dom!
      I think the inspiration-factor was one of my favourite bits of the app..... flicking through the pages got me considering all sorts of possibilities!

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  3. Lovely recipe and such a thorough review of the app! :) Thank you for linking up with simple and in season!

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  4. I just love the look of this recipe and really want to try it. Thanks for entering #CreditCrunchMunch.

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    1. Thanks Camilla. You must try it..... It was so quick to prepare and has so many ingredient variations to try too! I ate it and thought 'why haven't I made this before??'

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  5. This looks really delicious, I love tortilla, the addition of butternut squash looks amazing too. Thanks for linking to #CookBlogShare

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    1. Thanks Angela. You're welcome. The butternut was a fab alternative to potato and added a lovely sweetness too!

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  6. I love a good leftovers recipe! Thanks for linking with #freefromfridays

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  7. You're welcome Emma. Tortilla is amazing for getting through left overs!

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  8. the V for vegetarian not vegan was the first thing I noticed on that W&H app. Potentially very confusing. Glorious tortilla. thanks for linking up.

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    1. Thanks Helen. I agree.... I would have felt pretty diddled if I was vegan!

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Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a message about any aspect of this post. It's always great to get feedback!