Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins

 

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I’ve been looking for healthier breakfast muffin recipes because, who doesn’t love cake for breakfast, especially children. And if it’s lower sugar then you’re good to go.

Helping with the Organic Trade Board’s  Wake up to Organic campaign has made me want to come up with some new ideas for breakfast. On 15th of June all over the UK independent retailers will dish up a free organic breakfast to their customers and passers by. The idea is to show easy it is to make the switch to organic. Follow us on twitter to keep up with the campaign

Gluten free

I haven’t tried this recipe with gluten free flour but I am sure it will work – you can also use gluten free oats. I am going to try to make them with buckwheat flour and will report on how well it works.

Dairy free

This recipe is dairy free but if you want to use butter instead of coconut oil or milk instead of dairy free alternatives to milk.

Sugar

These muffins have no refined sugar in them – though they do have maple syrup which as a syrup is classified as sugar. I will be trying this recipe without maple syrup as I think they can easily be made without – 30ml contains about 15g of sugar which is equal to about 1.3g of sugar per muffin, the dates contribute 7g of sugar, the bananas provide just under 1.8g sugar per muffin, the coconut milk provides less than a gram. So in total each muffin has about 2 teaspoons of sugar which sounds like a lot but most shop bought muffins will be bigger portion sizes and contain 4-5 teaspoons of sugar, and they also won’t be in natural fruit form – which of course include lots of micronutrients, from vitamin B6 in the dates, to potassium in bananas. Under the latest Scientific Advisory Committee guidance this is equivalent to just over 1 teaspoon of refined sugars.

We do have some sugar in our diet in our family and I want to reduce it. Have you found that children don’t notice any changes to what you feed them, if you don’t mention it and also make those changes gradually. In between work, parenting, and walking the dog I don’t have much time to experiment in the kitchen so I need tried and tested recipes that work, like this one. These make a great treat breakfast and of course can be put in lunch boxes too.

Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins

Vegan, soy free

Makes 12 muffins
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes

You will need…

240g white spelt flour (or a mixture of white and wholemeal)
130g dates chopped
190ml coconut milk or almond milk or other diary free milk.
2 small to medium bananas mashed (about 180g)
30ml of maple syrup
30g chia seeds
30g pumpkin seeds
50g pecans chopped
30g oats
60ml coconut oil melted
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
Medium carrot finely grated (about 80g)
pinch of salt

How to…

  • Preheat your oven to 190˚C/gas mark 5/350°F.
  • Put the mashed banana in a big bowl with the carrots, milk, maple syrup, vinegar and vanilla extract  and melted coconut oil, mix well.
  • Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, mixed spice and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Gently fold in the seeds, nuts, dates and oats.
  • Don’t over mix as this helps keep the muffins fluffy.
  • Place the mixture in 12 muffin tins.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes. You can test with a skewer and if it comes out with mixture on it bake for a few more minutes.
  • Cool on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Serve with some chopped fruit and/or a cup of milk.

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#Glutenfree #alcoholfree #Christmaspudding recipe

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I can’t quite believe am managing to get this post done with all that’s going on in the house and its gone 1am but I made this, and  even though I say so myself, it tasted great, so wanted to share the recipe.

Tris Strover at Tootsie’s nursery kindly gave me his Christmas Pudding recipe way back in 2011. He does all the cooking for Tootsies, and has won the Nursery World Food Award twice, and deservedly so. Anyway it’s one of my most popular posts, this time of year, funnily enough.

I’ve tried making it with gluten-free flour this year but it didn’t quite work. Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the crusts off the bread I used to make breadcrumbs. Anyway, moving on…

I’ve come up with grain-free, alcohol free version. Why do we think it’s ok for kids to eat food with alcohol in it?  If you’re eating this and think you might miss the alcohol,  have a glass of something with it.

Anyway Merry Christmas!!!


Gluten free, alcohol free Christmas pudding

You will need…
1 lb pudding basin
Greaseproof paper
Cotton or muslin
String or wool
150g raisins
150g sultanas
50g candied peel
100g prunes, chopped
50g cranberries or natural glacé cherries
50g flaked almonds
zest and juice from one clementine
150ml maple syrup
90g ground almonds
3 medium sized eggs
level teaspoon mixed spice
level teaspoon cinnamon
level teaspoon baking powder
125g gluten free vegetable suet
1 apple peeled and chopped into small pieces

How to…

  • Mix together all the dried fruit in a bowl.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl.
  • Add the clementine juice, zest and maple syrup and mix well.
  • Add the suet and again, mix well.
  • Add the dried fruit, almonds, spices, baking powder and ground almonds and mix through very well.
  • Pour into the pudding basin.
  • Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit just over the top of the pudding.
  • Cut a piece of muslin or cotton sheet to size cover the top with it, large enough so it falls below the rim where you tie the string around it.
  • Once you have tied the string around the basin, make a handle over the top using two pieces of string, going across the middle from one side to the other, this makes it easy  to take the pudding out of the hot pan.
  • Steam for 4 hours keep adding water, as it can dry out. I had to put mine on a pastry cutter, in my steaming pan.
  • Steam for an hour before serving.

Oaty apple breakfast bake with #noaddedsugar

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This breakfast dish is very popular in my house. I have to admit that eldest daughter loves it and the youngest will eat it but its not her favourite. But I think a lot of families have that going on.

You make the apple sauce in batches and freeze that makes it easier. We have lots of windfalls at the moment so am doing this when I can, in between everything else.

You make this dish the night before, we make it weekdays and weekends. All you do is turn the oven on when you get up and bake it for 30 minutes. It’s mainly measuring and mixing, so it was easy for my 2 year old to help make it last night.

Have been using windfalls for my apple sauce, I am beginning to run out of freezer space. Maybe time for another freezer.

I’ve made this dish with no added sugar, only the sugars found naturally in fruit.

Because it has no added sugar it’s suitable for weaning. Just take out the raisins as they’re high in sugar, it’s best to wait until your little one is 1 before introducing them.

You’ll need an oven-proof dish – mine is about 25 cm x 17 cm.

Gluten free and dairy free

You can make it gluten free by using gluten free oats.

Milk can be swapped for non-dairy milk like coconut drinking milk or almond milk, and the butter for non-dairy unhydrogenated spread or coconut oil.

Oaty apple breakfast bake recipe

You will need…

100g raisins
180g apple sauce (stewed apples blended without sugar)
300ml milk
350g whole oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 apple cored but unpeeled grated
3 medium eggs, beaten
50g melted unsalted butter

How to…

Grease a shallow dish.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Put in the dish, cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
In the morning heat the oven to 160º c fan oven / 180º c / gas mark 5 for 30 minutes.
Serve with a little milk poured over and chopped fruit.

Portions and nutrition

This recipe makes enough for 1½-2 rounds of breakfast for a family of 4-5. Based on a 5 year old having a 100g portion this breakfast it contains good amounts of protein, fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium. It makes a good contribution to iron and zinc intakes too along with key B vitamins such as B6, B12 and more. So it makes for a really healthy start to the day.

The sugar content per 100g is 9.5g (just under 2 teaspoons) but it’s all from fruit so doesn’t count towards the maximum recommended intake for this age of ‘free sugars’* of 4 teaspoons a day.

*’free sugars’ is a definition by World Health Organisation which has been adopted by the UK Governments Scientific Advisory Committee in their recent report on Carbohydrates and health. Free sugars are any processed sugar added to foods by a manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juice.

Date and banana flapjacks with #noaddedsugar

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I have got into the habit of making flapjacks on a Sunday night for the week – though they don’t always last that long. I have taken to storing them in the car so I am not tempted – there is evidence that unsurprisingly shows that if you can see food you eat it!

This is the first time I’ve made them with no honey, just relying on natural sugars from dates and bananas. There is a lot in the media and books to buy, and recipes online for no sugar foods. Which is great. We are still waiting to hear following on from the draft guidance on sugar intakes published by the Government’s SACN. In the meantime World Health Organization has published their latest recommendations to reduce intakes to 10% with an ideal target of 5% or less.

It’s worth remembering that honey, maple syrup, dried fruit and smoothies still contain sugar but because the sugar is in it’s natural form it also provides nutrients. So recipes that contain these natural forms of sugar are not “sugar free” but have no “refined sugar” or “processed sugar” or, I suppose “added sugar”. Refined sugar is has no vitamins or minerals, so really only provides empty calories. The sugar in honey, maple syrup etc, is in its natural form, so it has a lower GI (a slower release of sugars into the blood) and also contains some minerals. Maple syrup is high in manganese, and contains good amounts of zinc and potassium. Honey contains very low levels of iron, copper and manganese.

These flapjacks are perfect for picnics and after main meals. Not recommended for between meals as the sticky sugars can get stuck on teeth. Regularly eating dried fruit, juices or smoothies between meals increases risk of dental decay. See my previous post, Sweet Tooth for more information.

This recipe is vegan if you use coconut oil, if you use butter best to use organic. Organic Standards legally set mean that organic cattle have to be pasture fed for the most of the year.

Flapjacks are really easy and quick to make, your children can help with the mashing and mixing (my 2 year old happily helps out – it gets messy and keeps her busy).

You will need…

  • 180g Oats
  • 2 medium bananas (about 190-200g)
  • 60g desiccated coconut (optional)
  • 160g chopped dates (if you don’t have enough dates substitute chopped raisins)
  • 100g melted coconut oil (or butter)

How to…

  • Mash the bananas on a plate.
  • Put the bananas in a bowl
  • Add the coconut oil and dates and mix well.
  • Now add the oats and desiccated coconut and again mix.
  • Turn into a lined baking tay
  • Bake in an oven at 170 °C or 150 °C in a fan oven or gas mark 3 for 25 minutes.
  • Cut into slices whilst still warm.

If you have older children do not mention these flapjacks have no refined sugar in them as they will immediately hate them. My 8 year old had these happily last night because I said nothing!

Cheap eats January #6: Make your own custard

 

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It’s really easy to make your own custard – all from store cupboard ingredients along with organic eggs, and milk – and you can make it dairy free by using coconut drinking milk (I am sure you could use other dairy free milks but I haven’t tried them as yet).

This is enough for two good sized portions for kids – just double the amounts for more. You can keep what you don’t use in the fridge for a few days. I’ve worked out the cost, and making it with milk and caster sugar costs 44p, Making it with maple syrup (so it has no refined sugar in it) costs 81p.

You will need…

2 egg yolks*
200ml of semi skimmed milk, whole milk or coconut milk drink
1.5 teaspoons of cornflour
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or caster sugar)
Capful vanilla extract

How to…

Bring the milk to the boil in a pan.
Whisk the egg yolks with the maple syrup in a large bowl or jug.
Mix the cornflour with a teaspoon of water so it makes a paste.
Whisk the cornflour and vanilla extract into the egg mixture.
Pour the milk into the egg mixture whisking all the time.
Put it back in the pan and bring to the boil again, whisking all the time, it will thicken.

Serve with seasonal fruit (steamed or baked apple, rhubarb, or sliced banana) or crumble if you have time to make it.

Weaning

If you’re making this for infants under 1 year, don’t add any sugar or maple syrup – the vanilla extract will add enough sweetness, all you need to do is whisk the cornflour and vanilla in with the egg yolks.

 Nutrition

A portion of custard provides good amounts of calcium, phosphorous, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

*You can use the two egg whites along with another egg and make an omelette or keep them for this banana macaroon recipe. You can refrigerate in an airtight container for a couple of days, or freeze for longer.

 

 

Cheap Eats January #5 : In praise of beans on toast

Yes that’s right, I am writing a post on… baked beans on toast.

Only because nutritionally it’s a great meal, it’s cheap of course and if you’ve been working all day, doesn’t take long to prepare so you get to spend some time with your kids.

Nutrition

This meal will give your kids good amounts of protein, potassium, calcium, iron zinc, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate, oh and fibre, of course.

Lower salt baked beans are ideal, as regular baked beans (and organic brands can be higher than others) tend to be high in salt (a quarter of a 100g tin of baked can provide as much as 75% of a 5 year olds recommended intake of salt – and that’s before you’ve added in the salt from bread too).

Protein combining

Proteins are chains of amino acids, of which there are 8 that are essential in our diets. Two of these, lysine and methionine are more readily available in balanced proportions in protein from animal sources (such as eggs, milk and cheese). Vegetarians and especially vegans need to make sure they get a combination of foods that have good amounts of each.

Protein from cereals such as wheat and rice, tend to be low in lysine but good sources of methionine. Beans and lentils and peas tend to be low in methionine but high in lysine.

So combining cereals and legumes means you get complete proteins. Classic examples examples being beans on toast, humous and bread, tortilla and chilli (with red kidney beans) and rice and dhal (lentils).

It was for some time thought essential to combine these foods at the same meal but is now not thought to be necessary. However, it is interesting that in different cultures, all over the World that these combinations have existed for hundreds and thousands of years.

Even if it’s not required to combine these foods at the same meal, it makes sense to, as they complement each other so well.

Dairy free salmon, broccoli and pasta bake

I came up with this recipe as my eldest daughter has gone off salmon. Usually I just cook whole salmon. I buy Wild Alaskan as that’s the most sustainable and healthy salmon you can get.* However, wild salmon extrudes white albumin when cooked at a high temperature for too long. I must have been doing one of these things as the albumin, I think was what was putting her off.  This dish will appeal to children as it makes the salmon part of a pasta dish. If you’re not avoiding dairy or gluten then just use butter, milk, and normal pasta – though I tend to buy spelt as it has a lower gluten content.

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Portions
This recipe makes enough for one adult and 2 children (based on children having about 50-60g of fish and adult having about 100g).

Allergen free
This recipe was made without dairy or gluten. Though if you don’t need to avoid dairy – then you can use milk and butter. And of course use conventional wheat flour and breadcrumbs too.

You will need…
2 wild* (or if you can’t find wild then organically farmed) salmon fillets (about 200g)
1 carrot chopped
1/2 an onion whole
a few peppercorns
Bayleaf
40g vegan unhydrogenated olive oil spread
40g gluten free flour**
400ml coconut milk drink***
100g fresh or frozen peas
200g broccoli broken into small florets
150g gluten free pasta shapes
Handful of gluten free breadcrumbs

How to…

Put the fish fillets in a heavy bottomed pan and cover with the coconut milk.
Add the chopped vegetables, peppercorns and bay leaf.
Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat and put the lid on so the fish is poached in the milk and the flavours of the fish and vegetables infuse the milk.
Strain the milk and dispose of the vegetables.
Put the fish fillets to one side.
Cook the pasta.
Steam the broccoli and peas.
Pre-heat the oven to about 190°c / 160°c in a fan oven or gas mark 5.

Now make the Roux…
Melt the 40g of vegan spread in a pan.
Add the flour and combine and keep stirring, for a few minutes to cook the flour through.
Now start to add the milk from the fish infusion a little a time, combining with the paste completely before adding a little more.
It takes time and care, and if you get interrupted then it’s best to take the pan off the heat as if the sauce sticks to the bottom of the pan you can end up with a lumpy sauce (though if you do end up with a lumpy sauce you can pass it through a sieve).
Once it’s completely combined, keep stirring until it’s just about to start to boil. If you want to add a bit of flavour add a teaspoon of French mustard and 30g or so of cheese.

Bring it all together…
Rinse through the pasta with cold water so it doesn’t stick together.
Flake the fish carefully by hand ensuring there are no bones remaining.
Scatter the pasta, peas, broccoli and salmon carefully and evenly in a shallow dish, and pour the sauce over it.
Top with the breadcrumbs.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

And the verdict? It was a winner, of course.

*Farmed salmon are not sustainable, they are kept in cages in the sea at high stocking density, see this article from Channel 4 on Hugh’s Fish Fight for more information. If you’re buying wild salmon too, buy from sustainable stocks as some are becoming depleted. Retailers have to label which part of the world the fish comes from, so you can check it on the Marine Conservation Society’s database.

**I used Dove’s farm gluten free flour though am sure that others would work just as well.

***This is not the coconut milk in cans but the milk alternative drink which is sold in cartons and has a thinner consistency.

5 minute oriental chicken soup

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This is probably our favourite dish at the moment. With the light evenings the girls have been going to bed late so we have less time in the evening. This soup is perfect, because it literally takes 5 minutes to cook (and 5 minutes tops to prepare) is healthy and delicious.

I haven’t had time recently to make my own stock. I buy organic free range stock cubes, firstly because I know organic free range farming has higher animal welfare standards compared to factory farming as the chickens have access to outdoors and are kept in a lower stocking density (less chickens per square metre). Also organic farmers are not per permitted to use antibiotics. Finally under organic standards, additives such as MSG are not permitted for use. So organic is a label you can trust.

You can use a very low salt stock cube, I don’t, because I don’t eat processed foods and don’t add salt to my food, so I know i don’t have much added salt in my diet.

I often make this dish it on a day when I am making chicken stirfry for the girls, so i can use the same ingredients for both meals. Usually I just have tat soi (my favourite Chinese greens at the moment), mushrooms and sometimes purple spouting broccoli, it all depends on what I have in the fridge. Anyway, experiment and see what flavours work for you. I sometimes have a few sliced chillies on top, if you like hot food you can add it to the stock, but this makes it all too spicy for me as it infuses the whole soup. My husband has noodles in his soup but I prefer it without.

I have made a version of this with Wild Alaskan salmon which I will post soon, and will try to make it with tofu too as that will work well.

You will need…

Serves 2

2 organic skinless chicken breasts (about 200g in total)

1 organic chicken stock cube or 600ml homemade chicken stock

200g of pak choi or tat soi Washed and sliced

2-3 garlic cloves sliced

A thumbnail chunk of ginger peeled and sliced

Handful of chestnut mushrooms sliced

Half a pepper sliced (optional)

2-4 spring onions (optional)

Free range egg noodles (optional)

How to…

Bring the stock to the boil in a pan.

Add the ginger, garlic and chicken breasts whole to the stock.

The chicken needs to cook for 5 minutes and not much more otherwise it starts to toughen up.

Add the noodles to the pan and put the lid on.

A minute later add purple sprouting broccoli, spring onions and/or mushrooms.

A minute before the end add the tat soi or pak choi.

Put the lid on and allow to steam.

Divide the soup between bowls.

Slice the chicken (check that its cooked through) and arrange on top of the soup.

Sprinkle with coriander and serve with a dash of soy sauce.

What’s for lunch: mackerel with puy lentils and beetroot

Mackerel, puy lentils and beetroot

“What’s for lunch” is a series of recipes and ideas for lunches that you can share with your baby or toddler (though you don’t have to have a baby or toddler to make these dishes).

This makes a nice, easy and very nutritious lunch. The puy lentils and beetroot salad works well with feta cheese or goats cheese sprinkled on top (though those flavours are probably too strong for a little one) it makes a good packed lunch, or picnic salad.

Mackerel has just come back into season (its out of season February to May) so it’s something we have quite often now. The girls love it. I get them filleted, and then carefully check for bones before cooking (usually with tweezers) and also when I flake it for my youngest daughter after cooking.

You will need…

2-4 fillets of mackerel (if you buy 4 you will have enough left overs to make fishcakes)
100g puy lentils
4-6 bulbs of beetroot
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
A handful of salad leaves

How to…

Preheat your oven to about 200°c, gas mark 5.
Scrub about 4-5 beetroot bulbs and top and tail them and put on roasting tray.
Drizzle with olive oil and roast for between 45 minutes to an hour depending on size, until they are soft (if you haven’t got so much time then half them before roasting).
Allow to cool and then peel, cut into chucks and put to one side.

Baked the mackerel on a tray in the oven with the beetroot for about 15 minutes (or grill it).
Rinse puy lentils then cook in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes, until just soft.
Then rinse through with cold water.
Put the lentils in a bowl with the beetroot scattered on top.
I had some leftover rocket too so added that – usually I would add more, baby spinach, parsley or basil could work just as well.
Make a dressing with about 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice) to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Put in a jar and shake to mix well and then drizzle some over the lentil salad on your plate (it might be a strong flavour for your little one though you could try putting a little on their plate to mix in with the lentils, keep the rest of the dressing in the fridge.

I had a leftover roast potatoes from Sunday lunch so warmed them through for my daughter. You could give a slice of bread, some pasta shapes or other root to give a mixture of high fibre and low fibre carbs.


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Nutrition bits

So you probably already know that mackerel is a fatty fish so is a good source of omega 3 fats. Overall this meal provides high amounts of protein, fibre, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12 and iodine. It provides lots of other nutrients too numerous to list.

Dairy and gluten free fish pie

I thought that I would try to make a dairy and gluten free version of fish pie as have met so many mums who’s children have diary/gluten allergies or intolerances. I road-tested it this afternoon and it went down well. The eldest didn’t say it tasted of coconut or weird. The 16 month old was more interested in my nettle soup but that’s just because she’s being fickle at the moment. You can include prawns for extra flavour but they’re not recommended for younger children just in case they cause food poisoning.

dairy free glut free fish pie

You will need…

Fillet of white fish like dab, coley or haddock (about 300g)
Wild* (or if you can’t find wild then organically farmed) salmon fillet (about 100-140g)
1 carrot chopped
1/2 an onion whole
a few peppercorns
Bayleaf
40g vegan unhydrogenated spread
40g gluten free flour**
400ml coconut milk drink***
Handful of frozen peas
About 500g potatoes
Handful of fresh chopped parsley or teaspoon of dried parsley

How to…

Put the fish fillets in a heavy bottomed pan and cover with the coconut milk.
Add the chopped vegetables, peppercorns and bay leaf.
Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat and put the lid on so the fish is poached in the milk and the flavours of the fish and vegetables infuse the milk.
Strain the milk and dispose of the vegetables.
Put the fish fillets to one side.

Potato topping
Boil the potatoes until soft then drain, mash and add about 20g of the vegan spread and a little of the coconut milk if it needs loosening up.

Pre-heat the oven to about 190°c / 160°c in a fan oven or gas mark 5.

The roux
Melt the 40g of vegan spread in a pan.
Add the flour and combine and keep stirring, for a few minutes to cook the flour through.
Now start to add the milk from the fish infusion a little a time, combining with the paste completely before adding a little more.
It takes time and care, and if you get interrupted then it’s best to take the pan off the heat as if the sauce sticks to the bottom of the pan you can end up with a lumpy sauce (though if you do end up with a lumpy sauce you can pass it through a sieve).
Once it’s completely combined, keep stirring until it’s just about to start to boil.
If you’re using parsley then stir it in now.

Bringing it all together
Flake the fish by hand and carefully check for bones.
Now arrange the fish in the bottom of oven proof dish(es) then pour over the sauce.
You may not need to use all of it but don’t scrimp on it either.
Then sprinkle the frozen peas over the top.
Then add the potato, spread evenly and run a fork over the top of the potatoes to give ploughed effect that will brown nicely in the oven.

Put in the oven, on an oven tray to cook for about 20 minutes, til the top is nicely browned in places.

Serve with a portion of vegetables.

*Farmed salmon are not sustainable, they are kept in cages in the sea at high stocking density, see this article from Channel 4 on Hugh’s Fish Fight for more information. If you’re buying wild salmon too, buy from sustainable stocks as some are becoming depleted. Retailers have to label which part of the world the fish comes from, so you can check it against the Marine Conservation Society’s guidance.

**I used Dove’s farm gluten free flour though am sure that others would work just as well.

***This is not the coconut milk in cans but the milk alternative drink which is sold in cartons and has a thinner consistency.