For my non Australian and New Zealand readers I will need to explain what Anzac Biscuits are.
ANZAC is a term derived from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps which fought during World War I at Gallipoli in Turkey.
Anzac Biscuits are often assumed to have been sent to the soldiers in care packages at the time. Whether that is true or not I don’t know but what is true is that the biscuit has become a popular part of Australian and New Zealand culture. It is traditionally made with rolled oats, flour and golden syrup (light treacle) and interestingly doesn’t contain eggs. Again, reasons for this range from egg shortages at the time to needing to use ingredients that wouldn’t spoil on a long ship journey. Whatever the reason, the biscuit is delicious and one I remember fondly from my childhood.
Fortunately it can be made gluten free, and by substituting the butter in the original recipe with coconut oil, can also be dairy free and vegan. The end result is a tastybiscuit that is both chewy and crunchy at the same time,and one you can snack on and not feel guilty.
So here they are, my gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free, vegan, Anzac Biscuits.
In a large mixing bowl combine almond meal, slivered almonds and desiccated coconut. (If you don’t have almond meal, simply put a cup of almonds in the spice grinder or food processor and grind into a powder).
In a small pot combine honey/maple syrup and oil and heat gently.
In a small bowl mix the baking soda and water together and then pour into the honey/maple syrup pot and mix until it starts to froth.
Once it froths pour into the dry nut ingredients and mix completely until combined. You might need to add a small amount of water to ensure the mixture sticks together.
Take spoonful’s at a time and roll into balls in your hands and then place on a baking paper lined oven tray. With a fork gently flatten the balls (not too much or they will break apart).
Place in a preheated oven for about 25-30 mins at 120 degrees C until golden brown.
Remove and allow to cool before removing from the tray. While hot they are still fragile but will harden up once cool.
I spent a month in Ubud and I have to say it’s a foodie’s paradise. I haven’t been anywhere that can compare with Ubud in terms of providing such a great range of high quality food options at an affordable price. Particularly for people with dietary restrictions. In a previous post I had mentioned that having cows milk in your coffee was unusual in Ubud as there are so many other options, but it doesn’t just stop there. If you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant or just want some healthy dining options, there is plenty to choose from, especially if like me you are looking for gluten-free desserts.
My choices on where to dine were based on my own food intolerances, namely gluten and dairy, but also a desire to eat healthy and avoid refined sugar. After extensive and arduous research, at great risk to my waistline, I narrowed it down to the following favourites for gluten-free desserts:
The easiest places to getgluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free desserts are the two Raw Food Cafes in town:
A vegan cafe with great smoothies and salad bowls. Has an extensive selection of raw desserts to choose from.
Another vegan cafe, this one on the edge of Ubud in the area called Penestenan. Great smoothies and in my opinion the best raw desserts in town. Many of the desserts are sold out by mid afternoon so get there early.
This little Patisserie does a great range of macarons but also have Gluten and dairy-free cakes available
Gaya Gelato has branches all over Bali and two in Ubud. All their ice-creams are gluten-free but they also have a range of dairy-free sorbets. Their range changes daily so keep checking back for new flavours. The great thing about Gaya Gelato is that they take food intolerances seriously and label each flavour clearly as to whether it is gluten-free, dairy free, nut free etc. My favourite is the Cioccolato Arancia!
An extensive menu with Gluten and dairy free options. Delicious Kombucha. But my favouritedish has to be the Coconut bread with Berry Compote and Coconut cream. Gluten-free, dairy -free, and refined sugar-free. Absolutely delicious! Sadly I only discovered it a few days before leaving but had it for breakfast every day after that.
I believe this cafe serves the best Coconut Milk Latte in Ubud, something I had never had until visiting the town, but has now become a favourite way to get my caffeine fix.Also has some great vegetarian food options.
A vegetarian restaurant with a beautiful view. Lovely place to sit and while away the hot afternoon hours over a cup of tea. The food is not great in my opinion, except for one dish. The Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake with Pomegranate Molasses. Gluten-free and to die for! It does have some dairy as it includes Ricotta but I took the risk and it was worth it. So good I ordered two!
Locavore is perhaps one of the most expensive restaurants in Ubud. At the time of writing it cost IDR500,000 per person for the 5 course degustation menu. However after eating there I can honestly say it is worth every penny and I would gladly go back again. The 5 courses actually end up being about 15 courses once you factor in all the different Amuse Bouches which come between course. The meal is beautifully spaced, taking about two hours from start to finish but you never feel that you are waiting for the next course or that too many dishes are coming at the same time. The reason I mention them here is that they can cater for any food intolerances you may have. I had a fully gluten-free meal and left the restaurant with a full and satisfied stomach. Sensational food at a fraction of what it would cost you for something similar in Europe. You have to book a table in advance as they are extremely popular.
Their new outlet, Locavore to Go, serves a delicious gluten-free sweet potato bread. Great for breakfast.
Recently I spent a month in the delightful town of Ubud in Bali. It’s a beautiful place and if you haven’t been it’s well worth visiting.
What makes it even better is that for those of us who follow a gluten free and dairy free diet, there are countless options for eating out. In fact I have never been to a town where there are so many food options available for those who are gluten and lactose intolerant, but more about that in another post.
Indonesia is one of the great coffee growing nations of the world, and consequently Ubud has a thriving coffee culture with delightful coffee shops on almost every street. However what is interesting is that cows milk is almost an exotic ingredient here. Every coffee bar has non-dairy alternatives from the familiar soya milk, to cashew milk and coconut milk.
Now I have been a die-hard black coffee drinker for years but after visiting Ubud, my new addictionis a Coconut Latte!
For the past few years I have been based in India. A country where until very recently, the concept of gluten free has been dismissed as some unusual fabrication from the west.
I have lost count of the times that I have been told that “it’s all in your mind” and “don’t worry it doesn’t have wheat in it, I put bread crumbs instead”. Things are changing slowly but I have grown used to the fact that when I eat out, I have to be very careful and can forget about having any dessert.
My wife and I had planned a lengthy trip to Europe and before going I was a little nervous about how I would manage to explain my gluten and lactose intolerance to restaurant staff in another language.
It turned out that I had nothing to worry about!
Language never turned out to be an issue, Europeans being incredibly multilingual making me feel very inadequate with my single language of English.
Menus now have a guide to allergens and then beside each dish are the letters pertaining to the allergens as listed in the key.
The 14 foods currently included in the European Union Food Allergen List are:
Cereals Containing Gluten (wheat, rye and barley)
Sulfur Dioxide (Sulfites)
So it was easily to select a dish and see whether it contained gluten or lactose or any number of other allergens, some of which I never knew were allergens but certainly happy that I don’t suffer from. Celery for example!
The picture I took below is of a menu in German, although a lot of restaurants have English menus as well. But once you have seen one you just need to remember the letter for your allergen. For example if you have an allergy to gluten you remember the letter A and if you have an allergy to dairy products then you remember the letter G.
Both of the desserts below for example contain milk and nuts.
Even better were the fabulous Cafes in Vienna with their delicious coffees and incredible pastries. Every Cafe I visited had at least one gluten free or dairy free pastry.
It’s safe to say in the span of one month I ate enough cakes and pastries to make up for all the years I have spent in India!
During my recent trip to Iran I visited a small town called Qamsar which is famous for making rose-water and I was fortunate enough to see them making it in front of me. The rose petals are picked in the early morning and then boiled in a large vat. The steam condensates and is then collected and cooled and the resulting rose infused water is then bottled. I brought some back with me and wasn’t sure what to do with it until, while researching traditional Persian recipes, I found a recipe for Rice Cookies which are gluten-free as well as contain rose-water.
The original recipe calls for white rice flour and confectioner’s sugar. I have replaced these with red rice flour and coconut palm sugar but you could also use brown rice flour. I find palm sugar to be quite sweet so after experimenting found a ratio that is not too sweet and consequently the sugar content is much lower than the original recipe.
Red rice flour has many advantages over white rice flour. The process of milling the rice grain to make white rice removes the bran and germ thereby removing all the good stuff.
The rice germ contains B vitamins, calcium, zinc and iron, manganese, selenium, magnesium and other nutrients. We need calcium and magnesium to maintain healthy bones and teeth and to reduce the risks of osteoporosis and arthritis. Magnesium is also useful in lowering blood pressure. Because red rice is higher in fibre the rate at which it is converted into blood sugar is slower so you don’t get the insulin spike associated with white rice.
The thing that makes red rice stand out though is that it contains an anti-oxidant called anthocyanin. This is what gives it it’s colour. This anti-oxidant is believed to be anti-inflammatory and in lab tests have been shown to inhibit tumours.
Poppy Seeds are used as a garnish for the cookie and they come in two colors, black and white. The traditional rice cookie with it’s use of white rice results in a white cookie, and black poppy seeds are sprinkled on top. However using red rice flour and palm sugar the resulting cookie is brown and therefore as a contrast I used white poppy seeds, but the choice is up to you.
Poppy seeds contain minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron and are rich in dietary fibre and essential fatty acids (EFA). They are a good source of the EFA, Oleic Acid which helps lower the “bad” cholesterol LDL and increases the levels of the “good” cholesterol HDL.
The seeds are also an excellent source of the B-complex vitamins.
So here is my version of Naan Berenji – Persian Rice Cookies, gluten-free, dairy free and refined sugar-free.
Separate the eggs and keep the whites to one side. In a bowl mix the egg yolks, palm sugar and coconut oil. Mix well.
Add the red rice flour and rose-water and mix well
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites then fold into the rice flour mixture.
Wrap the dough in cling film and rest overnight in the fridge. This will prevent the cookies spreading into each other when cooking and to ensure a more even consistency of the dough. It will also make the dough easier to work with when it is chilled.
The next day preheat the oven to 150 C.
Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Using a fork press them flat, at the same time making criss/cross indentations in the top of each ball. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top and bake in the oven for 20 mins.
Allow to cool before serving.
For more Cookie recipes like this take a look at my Cookies eBook on Amazon:
I’ve made Walnut Cookies before but after my recent trip to Iran I decided to try some Persian sweets and found this recipe for Naan Gerdooee, or Persian Walnut Cookies to give their English name. I have to say these are much tastier than my earlier recipe. They are crispy on the outside but nice and chewy in the center. Next time I may add some dark chocolate chips to the recipe as this I think will complement the walnut quite well.
Naan Gerdooee are usually made with powdered white sugar, I instead used organic Coconut Palm Sugar and ground it to a powder in the mixer.
Coconut Palm Sugar is made from the sap of the Coconut Palm flowers. Although it is not an ingredient used in Iran I prefer to use it because it has a lower GI than white sugar and it is full of minerals and vitamins. It also contains a fibre called Inulin which helps slow the absorption of glucose keeping blood sugar levels down. Coconut Palm sugar is used in many Asian herbal medicines and is a great cure for acidity. Just dissolve a teaspoonful in warm water and drink it. It is high in calories though so don’t overindulge in it thinking that it is a health food and you can eat as much as you want to.
These Persian Walnut Cookies are of course gluten-free, and dairy-free.
This recipe is packed full of nutrition and is another cookie you can eat a lot of without worrying about the effects on your health.
Quinoa is an ancient grain originating from Central and South America and has become very popular in recent times.
It is gluten-free, and packed full of vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, vitamin E, Iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. It also has higher protein content than wheat flour. It contains plant anti-oxidants which are anti-inflammatory and anti-viral, and is high in fiber.
Goji Berries are another superfood which has become increasingly popular. Originating from China and Tibet, they are an excellent source of Vitamin C and contain high levels of antioxidants. Apparently they have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years as treatment for a number of ailments. In any event, adding more fruit to your diet, especially in the form of berries is always a good thing.
This recipe makes a delicious soft cookie and of course is gluten and dairy free.
I had some bananas veering on the wrong side of ripe so rather than toss them in the compost I decided to make my version of a popular Indian dessert called Kheer.
Kheer is usually made with milk, ghee and lots of white sugar, none of which form part of my diet. So I made a dairy free, refined sugar-free, vegan version using coconut milk and coconut palm sugar.
It’s delicious, nutritious and very easy to make.
You can adjust the sweetness to your own preference. I always prefer desserts less sweet and the raisins in this lend their own sweetness to the dish. You could also use any other sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
Another option is to make the Kheer with cooked rice instead of the banana and make it into a rice pudding.
A few years ago my wife and I made a trip to Italy. Being lactose and gluten intolerant I was understandably nervous about eating in the land of pizza and pasta. However I was pleasantly surprised as Italy is well set up for people with these food allergies and I had plenty of delicious options to try.
While in Milan, Lea, a good friend of ours, invited us around for dinner and, along with her mother, had prepared a beautiful array of dishes which were gluten and dairy free.
One of my favorite items were the Amaretti cookies, which also became my go-to sweet snack while in Italy. I made sure I got the recipe from Lea’s Mum and was surprised at how easy they are to make.
These are gluten-free and dairy-free, and only have 4 ingredients. Very simple to make and delicious. Crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in the middle.
I have changed the recipe a little and substituted palm sugar for the refined white sugar that normally goes into these cookies.
Palm sugar has a lower GI and contains more micro nutrients than it’s refined cousin. However it is not as simple as substituting one for one and it took me about 3 attempts to get the cookie right, adjusting proportions and cooking temperatures. But apart from the sugar proportions and the cooking temperatures this recipe remains faithful to the original that I tasted on that lovely evening in Milan.
So here we go with thanks to Lea and her Mum:
Lea’s Mum’s Amaretti Cookies – Gluten free, dairy free, and now refined sugar free.
I’m not a big ice cream eater usually but given that it was 39 degrees C outside today I wanted to make something to cool me down. I adapted this from a Thai recipe. Now the Thais love their chillies and I must confess I too like a bit of spice in my food. Chilli and chocolate are always a great combination and fill you with serotonin to make you feel great and capsaicin to boost your endorphins.
Eating this ice cream gives a wonderful sensation from the coolness of the ice cream and then pow! you get hit by the zing from the green chilli!
Very easy to make and providing you have the frozen bananas ready, you can make it in a matter of minutes.
You can make it vegan by using maple syrup or date syrup instead of honey.