Wheat and gluten free baking can be a bit hit and miss. And, dare I say it, rarely as good as the real stuff. Unless you are a fabulous baker, which I’m not. I never have the right ingredients or the delicacy of hand required for working without the muscle power of gluten. Sure, anyone can replace white flour with a bit of Dove’s Farm gluten-free to make fabulous, squidgy, melt-in-the-mouth brownies. And muffins work just fine if you don’t mind them a little more crumbly than the regular ones. But biscuits, bread and pastry? They need a far superior cook than me to not leave the consumer feeling a little cheated.
For years I served up freshly made gluten-free muffins for breakfast, proudly sent my family off with gluten-free baps for lunch and hurriedly threw gluten-free pasta in thick meaty sauces for dinner. But it often felt like a bit of a cop-out. And I kept running out of the specialist flour. And it was more expensive to eat this way. So when I cooked up the idea of Flojo’s Easy Detox I wanted to encourage clients to look towards simple meals that didn’t rely on flour at all. Rice, oats and quinoa are useful, and easily available store cupboard basics here.
Lots of people think that they can’t cook rice… they can, they just don’t know this method! Chuck some white basmati rice in a large saucepan (I use about 200g for a hungry family of four) and then add lots of water and a big pinch of salt. Stick a lid on and bring to the boil (watching like a hawk because when it boils it erupts like a grumpy geyser and makes a mess of your stove). Turn the heat right down and simmer for about 5 minutes, checking to taste regularly. As soon as it’s done, pour into a colander and let it drain. That’s it! Job done. Perfect rice.
You can use the same method for brown basmati rice but you’ll need to simmer for around 20 minutes longer. Brown rice has more bite and flavour to it; and keeps you going for longer. (Fry up a few seasonal veg, stir in your rice and then serve with a generous sprinkling of toasted nuts.)
However, I generally use white rice both for speed and for relative blandness, thus avoiding competition with stronger flavours, such as this amazing chocolatey Chilli and lots of the recipes in this post (particularly the Chicken and Squash Curry and and Big Pan of Greens).
Stick one cup of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), a pinch of salt and one and a half cups of water or stock (in which case don’t add salt) in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and then leave to sit with the lid on for another 5 minutes before you drain any excess liquid and fluff it up with a fork.
Quinoa works well hot or cold (and so is great for packed lunches) and is a great basis for any of the vegetable recipes here, especially the Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables or the winter root vegetables suggestion. Basically, if you’ve ever used couscous as a salad, try this instead. Plus, those little seeds look crazy when cooked!
Breakfast for those mornings when you creep downstairs in your soft, flannel PJs and fluffy slippers and sit at an old, scrubbed oak table. You smile indulgently at the dog gently snoring in front of the woodburner and listen to the torrent of rain lashing down against the window. The only item on your agenda today is to recline with a book until the sun breaks through the clouds. If this sounds more to you like a staged Instagram post than a realistic practicality then a clean bowl and spoon will suffice!
Soak one cup of oats and a tablespoon of ground almonds in two and a half cups of water overnight. In the morning gently bring to a simmer with a pinch of cinnamon and honey to taste. You can top with a dollop of live yoghurt, a sliced banana, a handful of fresh berries, a grated apple or some toasted seeds. (If you apply these toppings artfully you can Instagram your bowl too – at the time of writing there are well over half a million porridge posts!)
Are you still thinking about those muffins I mentioned earlier? Don’t fret, I still make these and I think you should too!
I often get feedback from friends and family about these blog posts but I’d love to know a bit more about the rest of you! C’mon, don’t be shy – drop me a line in the comments or use the reply function from your email (these are public by the way!). I’d love to hear from you!