Tag Archives: gluten-free and dairy-free

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Tapas Brindisa


For many years, Spanish food in the UK was distinctly underwhelming. Stodgy potato tortillas, greasy patatas bravas and limp prawns in garlic – often washed down with cheap plonk. But the food company, Tapas Brindisa, was instrumental in changing the perception and dining experience of Spanish food. Twenty five years ago, they set up shop in Borough Market and made it their mission to provide unbeatable Spanish food, bringing delicious Iberian hams and other amazing ingredients to London. Then they opened the tapas restaurants (now in Shoreditch, South Kensington, London Bridge and Soho) and recently the Food Rooms in Brixton.

Here you’ll find food that’s a great example of superb ingredients cooked brilliantly. I went to the Soho restaurant – an airy, sleek establishment where you can sit at the bar at the back and watch the chefs working in an open kitchen. The waiter couldn’t have been more helpful, crossing dishes out on the menu that I couldn’t have and suggesting alterations to some to make them gluten-free and dairy-free.

I ordered the Fish Selection Plate – a cold selection of cured mackerel, Nardin boquerones (white anchovies to you and me), cured tuna loin and sardines. This was a magical case of the sum parts being just as great as the whole. The mackerel had a delicious subtle smokiness and the tuna was beautifully cured, too – without overwhelming saltiness. The sardines were full of flavour. And the plump, mild-tasting and jucy white anchoviews were a world away from their counterparts in the supermarket aisles. All joined together made a fest of beautifully cured fish.


I also ordered the Broad Bean Salad with Iberico Ham and Roasted Tomato Water. Much has been written about Brindisa’s Iberico ham – and for good reason. Mouthwateringly sweet, with fat that melts in your mouth, this added a delicious layer of flavour to the broad beans and tomato.


On top of this, I got the Ox Cheeks with Dried Fruit and Red Wine Sauce. A dish full of sweet and savoury tones, and incredibly soft, meaty beef. Overall this was a meal with depth of flavours, sophistication and an overall sense of great pleasure. The pleasure of eating but also of consummate professional chefs truly enjoying cooking amazing ingredients.

Oh, and a wine list that doesn’t have a single bottle of Rioja!

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free in The Good Life, Chelsea

The Good Life Blackboard

When Beyonce and Jay Z announced that they were going vegan for a while, it seemed like healthy, conscious food had turned a corner. Eating chia seeds and talking about being respectful to the planet was no longer the domain of tie-dyes and guitar-playing. Instead, vegan and macrobiotic and the like was on the mainstream menu – with fantastic cafes and restaurants springing up and mainstream eateries widening up their offerings.

One great place is The Good Life Eatery on Sloane Street. Step in and it’s immediately clear that you’re going to feel superhealthy from whatever you eat. I went at breakfast time and had the Acai Bowl – gluten-free granola, raw Brazilian acai blended with Brazil nuts, kiwi fruit and bananas, complete with bee pollen and coconut sprinkled over the top. It was completely delicious. An earthy tang from the acai, along with sweetness from the granola, fruit and sprinkles. And every bite enriched with nutrients.


And I had my first ever (first of many) cold-pressed juice. Cold-pressing is all about maximising the nutrients. Juicing normally involves fast-spinning blades that generate heat which kill the precious enzymes. But with the pressing action of cold-press, this doesn’t happen. I had the Dr Green Love and it was a whole new juicing experience. Serious full-on flavours hit you immediately. And the combination of spinach, kale, apple and coconut was a great balance of veggie-tastes with sweet fruits. I’ve been a cold-pressed convert ever since…

The Good Life Eatery is at 59 Sloane Avenue, London SW3 3DH. And you can also get a home-delivery through Deliveroo.

Filming Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake for Waitrose


When I was thinking about which recipes I wanted to feature for the Waitrose TV films, chocolate cake was the first thing that sprang to mind. Yep, I love chocolate and it’s my idea of heaven on a plate. But also a chocolate cake is a wonderful addition to a whole load of different occasions, whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, a thank-you, or something to do on a weekend afternoon with your kids. This is a gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate cake that has a rich, moist sponge that holds together really well when you cut into it – and a seriously rich, indulgent ganache icing, topped with delicious berries.


One of the most important things to do when baking gluten-free cakes, is to get as much air into the mixture – and keep it in there – as possible. When you cream the margarine and sugar together, it’s important to beat them together until really light and fluffy. I use a stand mixer, but you can use whatever you like, whether it’s a hand-held mixer or even do it by hand. I leave the stand mixer beating for anything up to 10 minutes until it’s the right consistency. Because there’s no gluten in the mixture, it’s important to get a really light mixture at this stage, to get the cake to rise really well.

Then, when you fold in the chocolate and then the gluten-free flour mixture, it’s important to fold gently, so that you don’t lose air. And work fast once you’ve creamed the margarine and sugar, and added the eggs.

Talking of eggs, I generally use them in baking but you don’t have to. Sometimes people think that eggs are a dairy product and that anyone on a dairy-free diet needs to avoid them. But they’re not, which is lucky for those who can eat them, because they work brilliantly as a raising agent and to bind the cake together – and this is really useful when there’s no gluten to bind it. But if you need to avoid eggs, you can use an egg-replacer product instead. Or you could even use more raising agents to get the rise and either fruit purees (such as apple or pear) or dairy-free yogurt or even chia seeds to bind the mixture together.

And if you need to avoid nuts, you can make this cake nut free very easily. Don’t use any product that contains nuts, such as margarine, cream or in the gluten-free flour mixture. This recipe doesn’t use ground almonds or any other nuts so, as long as you don’t use a nut product, you’ll turn out a chocolate cake that’s not only gluten-free and dairy-free, but also nut-free!


To watch the film on Waitrose TV, click on this link. And I hope your Bank Holiday weekend becomes filled with delicious chocolate cake!


Gluten-free & Dairy-Free Chia Seed Super Salad

Chia seed salad

The sun is streaming into the kitchen and it feels great to be making hot-weather food. Step forward salads – with zingy, fresh ingredients and clean, clear tastes. Making food in this heat becomes as simple as putting some ingredients in a bowl. And when it’s this simple, it’s supereasy to make healthy, nutrient-packed meals.

This salad is full of antioxidant-rich veggies. But the stars of the bowl are the chia seeds. They are literally bursting with vitamins, minerals and the highest amount of omega-3 in any fruit or vegetable. You can use chia seeds to thicken stews, soups, juices and smoothies, to bind flour mixtures together as a substitute for eggs when baking, but also very simply to sprinkle into stir-frys and salads. Ahhh, sunshine and superfoods – a wonderful combination!

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, nut-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes


  • 150g/5½oz mixed salad leaves
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
  • ½ red, orange or yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 2 spring onions, white part finely sliced
  • 1 small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds


  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. To make the dressing, mix together the ingredients in a small jug.
  2. Using a teaspoon, deseed the cucumber by running the spoon down the centre of the cucumber. Discard the seeds and cut the cucumber into thin matchsticks. Put the cucumber and the remaining vegetables into a serving bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the dressing and the herbs and mix in gently. Sprinkle the seeds over the top and serve.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Intermittent Fasting

EFS Salmon Quinoa

Intermittent fasting hit the headlines last year, and hit fever pitch when Horizon broadcasted a programme by Dr Michael Mosley called Eat, Fast and Live Longer, which was watched by two and a half million people. IF is based on the premise that short periods of fasting enable you to shift weight and change shape – but the really incredible thing is that apparently it can radically transform your health as well. Scientific research shows that this age-old practice (dating back to the Ancient Greeks, as well as yogic traditions) of fasting for short breaks of time lowers the levels of a hormone called IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor) and, in doing so, protects you from some of the major diseases, including cancer. It has also been shown that IF has potent anti-ageing benefits, and helps reduce inflammation which, in turn, helps with conditions such as eczema and asthma.

It’s a diet that is extremely easy to put into practice. There are 3 types of IF. You can follow the 16/8 plan – and eat healthily for 8 hours and fast for 16 (in other words either skip breakfast or dinner). Or you can try the 5/2 plan – and eat healthily for 5 days of the week and follow a 500-calorie diet for the other two. The final plan is the most full-on and least popular of all the plans – whereby you fast for one day and then eat healthily for the next. This is called alternate day fasting.

Sounds simple? It is! And that’s probably the main reason why it has become so popular so quickly. You choose the plan that seems right for you and then simply fast when you’re meant to. And when you’re not fasting, you eat healthily. A few IF diet books have been published recently, including one called Eat, Fast, Slim by Amanda Hamilton. The beauty of Amanda’s book is that she shows you all the types of fasting but also shows you how to ensure it’s a superhealthy diet for you. It’s important to ensure that you balance the types of food you’re eating, and especially that you get enough protein and nutrients during the plan. Amanda explains the diets, and explains what you’ll get out of them. And then gives you Fasting Plans and a whole load of mouth-watering recipes.

I tried the Grilled Salmon with Harissa Quinoa and it was delicious. The lime-zesty salmon along with the harissa-spicy quinoa was a great combination. And the colours and textures of the food were lovely. Hmmm I think I might even try this IF dieting!

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free

Serves 1     Preparation time 5 minutes     Cooking time 15 minutes


  • 140g/5oz salmon fillet
  • zest and juice of ½ lime
  • 40g/1½oz/scant ¼ cup quinoa
  • 1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 3 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • ¾ courgette, diced
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • lime wedge, to serve
  1. Put the salmon on a plate and rub the lime zest over the flesh, then sprinkle with half the lime juice. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  2. Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Put it in a saucepan and cover with 160ml/5¼fl oz/2⁄3 cup boiling water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Brush the grill rack with oil and preheat the grill to medium. Put the salmon on the grill rack and grill for 5–6 minutes on each side or until cooked through and the flesh is opaque.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the spring onions, courgette and harissa paste, and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften. Remove the pan from the heat, add the quinoa and its cooking liquid and toss to coat with the harissa. Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed, then fluff up with a fork and stir in the coriander and remaining lime juice.
  5. Serve the salmon with the quinoa and a lime wedge on the side for squeezing over.