colour me happy kitchen

Because having allergies shouldn't mean missing out.

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Chocolate, raspberry and prosecco cupcakes

I could have started this post bordering on the confessional…”forgive me WordPress for it has been many months since my last…” – you see what I mean.

It’s not that I haven’t eaten for 6 months. Or worked out gluten-free and dairy-free versions of recipes most people take for granted. Or taken pictures of my food for that matter. (The 3 year old asked me to take a picture of his (gluten-free) fish fingers the other days such is the norm in our house of my phone hovering over a plate of food.)

No. I have done all of those things I just haven’t got round to posting. Partly because I’ve been busy making cupcakes. Hundreds of them. That’s another story. But along the way I’ve eaten a lot of cupcakes too. And I’m pretty sure these are my favourites.

l_is_for_love Continue reading


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Carrot and leek slaw with apple, raisins and caramelised sunflower seeds

This is my new favourite coleslaw. It’s fast, easy and there’s no need to get the food processor out. It’s packed with nutrients. There’s no complicated, creamy or mayo-based dressing.

It’s all about making the humble carrot shine.


There isn’t even any cabbage in it. (I actually like cabbage though it doesn’t like everyone.)

Mainly I love this carrot salad because it’s sharp, sweet and bursting with flavour. All from a few (mostly British) ingredients. Sunflower seeds, salted and caramelised with a bit of maple syrup, add a toasty grown-up crunch. .

And it goes with everything.

Did I mention there’s no: refined sugar, gluten, dairy, egg, nuts or unhealthy fats to worry about. Or cabbage.

Win win.


Serves 4 as a side:

  • 2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium leek, halved lengthways and finely sliced
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • A handful of raisins
  • 2-3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • juice of half a lime
  1. Toast the seeds in a frying pan with the salt over a medium heat. When they start to colour and smell toasty (they will probably make a crackling sound too) add the maple syrup (it will bubble) and mix well to coat all the seeds. Remove from the heat.
  2. Mix the oil and vinegar and add the carrot, leek, apple and raisins and stir  well.
  3. Break up the seeds where they have stuck together and add these too.
  4. Squeeze in some lime to season, taste and add a little more lime and salt if it needs it.
  5. Enjoy.

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Golden tomato tart with vegan cheese straw base

We had such good intentions with the garden in the spring. A whole rainbow of homegrown vegetables, fresh herbs in matching pots, sunflowers as tall as the house (well maybe the playhouse), wild flowers in the brick surround where the pond used to be. (Always remove the pond liner before adding the soil, we learned that the hard way.)

It didn’t quite go according to plan. This years super-slugs ate the vegetable seedlings. And the twenty or so baby sunflower plants, both red and yellow. Even the one that survived the journey home from school. Some creatures have no shame.

Clearly I forgot to plant out the chilli plants after lovingly growing those from seed too. The herbs bolted (I can never grow fresh herbs, not even mint), and the problem with growing wild flowers is that you don’t know what to weed. It’s wild, but not in a good way.

Amazingly our tomato plants were made of sterner stuff. Maybe because they were grown from seed by fitter half’s mum, who has seriously green fingers. (Not literally, her hands are very clean). Or it could be the amount of well-rotted manure our neighbour’s horse kindly supplied. (There will be even more next year I imagine after eating all our windfalls).


Whatever the reason, we’ve had some beautiful sun-gold cherry tomatoes and lots more to come. Thin skinned, super-sweet with just the right amount of acidity, they burst in the mouth with a gentle explosion of deliciousness.

Halved and tossed in a few bits and pieces (they really don’t need much), they make an stunningly simple tart topping too. Amazing how a little heat can intensify flavour in such a big way.


And the cheesy shortcrust of the vegan cheese straws I made recently makes the perfect tart base.

Serves 3-4 as a light lunch or starter

  • 1 quantity vegan cheese straw  dough
  • 300g cherry tomatoes (or golden cherry tomatoes if you can get them)
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus 1/4 garlic clove, grated (or 1 tablespoon garlic oil)
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Rocket to serve, plus a little extra balsamic and olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160C fan)
  2. Make the dough and press into a circle about 5mm thick on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Don’t add the extra cheese yet.
  3. Bake base until just cooked through.tomato_tart_assembly
  4. Sprinkle the extra vegan cheese from the cheese straw recipe over the base.
  5. Wash and halve the tomatoes and toss with the garlic oil, vinegar, oregano and salt.
  6. Scatter the tomato mix over the baked base, turn the oven down to 150 (130 fan) and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Top with rocket and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic to serve.
  8. Dive in.



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Easy black bean and lamb stew with leeks

Three things about black beans that I love:

  1. They are high in calcium, folate, iron, B6 and phytonutrients, so are good for your bones, heart, blood glucose levels, and could even help reduce the risk of cancer.
  2. They have great flavour and make a lamb stew both healthier and go further without diluting the taste.
  3. They are also called turtle beans.  Cute.


This is a midweek winner. It’s not expensive, takes minutes to put together in a saute pan with a lid (or you could transfer to a casserole and finish in the oven at about 160 degrees C (140 fan), and is easily prepared in advance. Helpful if you can’t guarantee you’ll be in the kitchen an hour before you need food.


Call me intuitive but I just knew today wasn’t the day for trying to get the kids to eat a stew full of leeks and a new bean they hadn’t heard of (however delicious in name and nature). The bigger small doesn’t like sauce anyway. So I fished out the tender, cut-with-a-spoon pieces of lamb and served them with sauteed new potatoes and sweetcorn.

Pick your battles. That’s one parenting lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

Besides, I prefer the veg and sauce anyway. So a couple of potatoes, a few baby tomatoes from the garden, a handful of rocket and a blob of houmous later, I’m one happy mummy, eating with my kids, letting toilet humour and spillages wash over me.


For a few minutes at least.

Fitter half ate his half at work. In peace.

Anyway, if you fancy trying it, this serves 2:

  • a 400g can or 380g carton of black beans (mine are from Sainsburys), drained and rinsed
  • 2 lamb shoulder fillets
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 tin tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 200ml water
  • mint, lime and black pepper to serve
  1. Cut the lamb into 2cm chunks. Add the salt to the lamb and fry in the oil until browned.
  2. Add the leeks and cook until softened, then add the garlic, honey, balsamic, spices, and stir to coat.
  3. After a minute or so add the tomatoes and make sure they are well broken up, then add the water and a lid and simmer for about an hour.
  4. Remove the lid and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened and coats the lamb pieces. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve in a bowl, scatter with mint or coriander and a good squeeze of lime.
  6. Enjoy with new potatoes, or over some basmati rice – or with sweet potato chip dunkers.


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Totally free-from cheese straws

Another sunny day this summer hols and another attempt to pack a gluten-free, allergy friendly picnic. One that’s vaguely nutritious and the kids will actually eat.


Today was gluten free, dairy free cheese straws (more like shortbread it turns out), carrot sticks, apples and satsumas, double chocolate chunk cookies and lightly salted popcorn (both homemade). The carrot sticks and half the fruit came back intact (why do I bother?). Continue reading


Smoky white bean salad with avocado roasted red peppers and mint

White beans are full of calcium, which if you cook dairy-free is bone-tinglingly good news. Plus (due to a good supply of the mineral molybdenum) they have detoxifying properties. Which, for me at least, is more than welcome. Continue reading

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Spicy penne gratin with aubergine and spinach (gluten free and vegan)

This is basically a pasta bake. A gluten-free pasta bake that’s also a vegan pasta bake. That’s also scrumptious. Which is odd because I didn’t think it was possible to make a breadcrumbed pasta bake with no cheese or gluten.

But it is. Who knows, maybe I’ll try a lasagne one of these days…


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