Well & Good cake mix

Product review: Well & Good all purpose cake mix

My goodie bag from the Gluten Free Expo contained a box of Well & Good reduced sugar all purpose cake mix. Even though I’m not a massive fan of cake I was excited to try it out mainly because it was my first time baking something out of a box. Luckily, it was my husband’s birthday so I had an excuse and many friends to share the cake with.

The cake mix is free of the 8 main food allergens and, as advertised, has some of the sugar replaced by stevia. The ingredients are: gluten free flour mix (rice flour, corn starch, maltodextrin, tapioca starch), brown sugar, non aluminium raising agents (450, 500), thickeners (1412, 415, 461), vegetable emulsifiers (471, 475), natural vanilla flavour, iodised salt, colour (caramelised sugar), spice (cinnamon), stevia. Two things to note: 1) if you have food chemical sensitivities you might want to make your cake from scratch, and 2) gluten free doesn’t mean healthy. Cake is cake.

The instructions are very easy: simply mix in a bowl with 3 eggs, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup oil using a wooden spoon, and bake.

Well & Co gluten free cake mix

There are a few suggestions of things you can add (banana, carrot, apple & cinnamon), but I added Alvaro’s favourite treat instead: frozen blueberries. The cake baked perfectly (in my oven it took less time than the minimum indicated on the box, so keep an eye). I decorated it with coconut cream & lemon icing and coconut flakes.

The macros per serve for the cake prepared plain and assuming 10 servings per package are:
Protein: 3.4g
Fat, total: 14.2g
– saturated: 2.0g
Carbohydrate: 34.6g
– sugars: 11.7g

The verdict? Taste-wise, the cake received 2 thumbs up from everyone. I thought it wasn’t extremely sweet, which is good, but I prefer my cakes moister and denser. Nutrition-wise, again: cake is cake.

Well & Good

Gluten Free Expo 2017

Last weekend I attended the Gluten Free Expo 2017, organised by Coeliac Australia. It was my first time there, and I found it really valuable to get to know which brands I can use and recommend to my clients who have CD or an intolerance to gluten.

Talks and demos

There were two stages were the event sponsors (Coles and others) ran cooking demos and talks for the audience.

Coles cooking demo Talk

Bread

It was really good to find out that gluten free bread is getting better and better. There are a few brands out there that are producing non-cakey, non-crumpety bread that are worth checking out: Schär with really good European-style breads, Genius Gluten Free with a sandwich bread that is remarkably similar to regular bread, Bakers Maison, with a pretty good (but expensive) sourdough and white loaf bread, and last but not least Deeks Bread, who make really good products (short and sweet ingredients lists) and a potato-based paleo loaf.

Genius Gluten Free Genius Gluten Free Bakers Maison bread Bakers Maison bread
Deeks bread Schar bread Simply Wize crusty bread Gluten Free Bakehouse bread

Ready-made meals

The other sector in gluten-free products that seems to have grown exponentially is that of ready-made meals. This is especially important for people who need to eat gluten-free but don’t have enough time or skills to cook every meal from scratch. A couple of companies that I particularly liked were The Gluten Free Meal Co., which offers a wide variety of really tasty meals and finger food delivered to your door and New Chinese Garden, with single-serve Chinese meals that are really tasty and free of crappy ingredients

.

The Gluten Free Meal Co - butter chicken The Gluten Free Meal Co - meat lovers pizza bites The Gluten Free Meal Co - vegetable samosas The Gluten Free Meal Co - Korean beef
The Gluten Free Meal Co - meatballs and penne New Chinese Garden meals Rice King Jase's Kitchen frozen pizzas

Beer

The next category in order of importance is, of course, beer. Both O’Brien and Wilde were present and, because they were not allow to sell booze at the event, I had to come back for more samples multiple times.

O'Brien beer Wilde Gluten Free Beer

Beverages

Other beverages showcased at the expo included chocolate tea, hydration drinks, organic herbal teas and kombucha.

Chocolate tea Bolero hydration drinks Neo Organic Tea Opera Foods kombucha, etc.

Wraps and pizza bases

There were also a few brands of wraps and pizza bases, of which Julian’s Gluten Free pizza bases are worth mentioning, as they have developed a thin, crisp, non-cakey base that is very close to the real deal.

Julian's Gluten Free pizza bases Julian's Gluten Free pizza bases BFree wraps True Foods wraps

Snacks

Most of the products at the expo were snacks. Being a dietitian, I feel compelled to encourage people to eat real food for the bulk of their meals and avoid processed snacks. Having said that, there’s a time and a place to indulge on treats. A few of them that caught my eye were: Schar sweet and savoury biscuits and crackers, which are very close to the real deal, Carman’s seedy crackers, Simply Wize‘s Oreo-type cookies, and Syndian dips.

Schar biscuits Schar Simply Wize biscuits Carman's crackers
Carman's bliss balls Carman's protein bars Piranha probiotic snacks Piranha snacks

Roasted fava beans

Roasted chickpeas Crafted Blends quinoa chips Crafted Blends snacks
Food For Health clusters Food For Health bars Food For Health bites Syndian dips

Sauces

The sauces and meal bases had a strong presence, too, making it easy to whip up gluten-free Asian and Mexican dishes.

Spice Craft sauces Diego's Foods Ding The Recipe sauces Ayam

Baking

The flours & mixes section was represented by very well known brands such as Bob’s Red Mill and relatively new players such as Teff Tribe who make a range of mixes utilising teff (a low GI, high protein, high fibre gluten free grain), and Melinda’s Gluten Free with their low(er) carb range of cake mixes.

Bob's Red Mill Teff Tribe Teff Tribe Melinda's Gluten Free
Melinda's Gluten Free Melinda's Gluten Free Yes You Can baking products Yes You Can cake mixes

Food stalls

Finally, no expo is complete without food stalls. There were hot dogs, coffee, donuts and arepas, but I could not fit more food in my belly.

Hot dogs Coffee Donuts Arepas

For the full list of exhibitors, click here and keep your eyes peeled for next year’s expo.

Gluten Free Expo

Recipe: Pisco sour

This year I decided to put the last bottle of pisco I had in my cupboard to good use and made a round of pisco sour to celebrate with friends. Generally speaking, there are three types of pisco: quebranta (the least aromatic), mosto verde or Italia (the most aromatic) and acholado (a mix of both). Quebranta and acholado are the better ones for making cocktails.

I used the classic ratio of 3:1:1:1 (pisco to egg white, syrup and lime juice), although some prefer a 4:1:1:1 ratio. I made a test run with water and stevia instead of syrup and found it less sweet and quite enjoyable. If you make your own syrup, feel free to adjust the sugar-to-water ratio according to your taste. Final note: when making more than 2 serves, it’s easier to use a blender. Just be mindful to use the minimum amount of ice to cool down the drink without watering it down too much. Salud!

Pisco sour
Yield: 1 serving

Pisco sour

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces pisco quebranta or acholado
  • 1 ounce egg white
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (or 1 ounce of water and stevia to taste)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • a few ice cubes
  • dash of bitters

Directions

  1. Shake pisco, egg white, syrup and lime juice in a shaker, pour and garnish with a dash of bitters.

Recipe: Lupin a la peruana (Peruvian-style lupin)

I get sudden cravings for Peruvian food once in a while. One day I was fixated on pepián, a corn purée spiced with our traditional aderezo of onion, garlic and chilli. Then I remembered I had a bag of lupin flakes in my cupboard and decided to use it as the main ingredient, partially because sweet corn is very different from Peruvian white corn. I used a ají amarillo paste that I found at Fiji Market. It’s got preservatives, so it’s not as good (health- or taste-wise) as fresh or as the paste I’m used to, but it’s better than nothing. If you can’t find ají amarillo paste you can use fresh chillies made into a paste in a blender or food processor with a bit of water or oil.

Lupin a la peruana (Peruvian-style lupin)
Yield: 4 servings

Lupin a la peruana

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup lupin flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • handful coriander leaves, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil or ghee in a pan at low-medium temperature. Cook onion, garlic and chilli for 5-10 minutes, until very soft and translucent.
  2. Add lupin flakes and broth. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Turn off heat, mix in the chopped coriander.
  5. Serve with your choice of protein, rice (to make it more Peruvian!) and plenty of veggies.
Grandma's at McEvoy

Review: Grandma’s at McEvoy (Alexandria)

Grandma’s is a mini chain of Israeli cafes. I’ve walked past the one on McEvoy a zillion times on my way to/from the gym and it was only recently that I finally had the chance to eat there.

Grandma's open kitchen

The shashukas here seem to be famous (they have a few varieties: classic, spinach, beef, beef bolognese), so I ordered open fired eggplant shakshuka: 2 eggs cooked in sauce made of open fire eggplant, tomato & onion served with Labneh cheese. It comes with bread baked on premises, which is meant to be really good, but I had gluten-free toast instead. The shashuka was good but I had my expectations set too high. I’m still willing to try the other varieties, though.

Open Fire Eggplant Shashuka

Open fired eggplant shakshuka ($17.90)

The traditional chicken & vegetables casserole, served with rice, was awesome. It indeed looked and tasted like something your grandma would serve you when you went for a visit.

Traditional Chicken & Vegetables Casserole

Traditional chicken & vegetables casserole ($17.50)

The Jerusalem hummus and beef dish (slowly cooked minced beef served with Grandma’s homemade hummus, chickpeas & fresh bread) was also very tasty, good looking, and apparently very filling.

Jerusalem Hummus and Beef Dish

Jerusalem hummus and beef dish ($16.50)

Besides the usual coffee and tea offerings (there’s almond milk available for extra $0.50), there are also some homemade drinks and sodas, Israeli beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Almond milk chai latte, almond milk latte

Almond milk chai tea ($4.50), almond milk latte ($4.00)

Monday to Friday, Grandma’s offer a canteen-style lunch station. They also have a variety of frozen meals (including soups, stews, ice cream) and preserves for sale.

Grandma's olives, etc

The Bottom Line
Coffee & drinks: 3.5/5, decent coffee, almond milk available, also traditional drinks like rosewater lemonade and Israeli beer.
Food: 3.5/5, gluten-free and vegetarian options, traditional, hearty dishes.
Service: 3.5/5, good service.

Grandma’s at McEvoy
140-142 McEvoy St
Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9699 1862
Website

Grandma's At McEvoy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Peruvian recipes – the list

It’s Peruvian Independence Day! If I didn’t have so many things on my plate at the moment (figuratively speaking), I would have organised a new Peruvian recipe to post today. But I didn’t, in part because I’m having trouble thinking of Peruvian recipes I’d like to share and haven’t posted yet. Therefore, I decided to make this year’s post a compilation of the Peruvian recipes I have posted. Keep in mind that some of them have been tweaked to accommodate for dietary requirements, so won’t be 100% traditional.

Breakfast/sandwiches:
Mixto completo (sort of)
Pan con aceitunas
Salchicha criolla (Peruvian-style pork sausage)
Triples in protein bread

Entrées:
Causa de atún
Cebiche de pulpo y pescado (with seafood from Faros Bros)
Conchitas a la parmesana
Palta rellena con camarones (stuffed avocado with prawns)
Papa a la huancaína
Pastel de choclo
Pulpo al olivo
Vegan causa

Mains:
“Arroz” a la cubana
Ají de gallina (Peruvian chicken “curry”)
Anticuchos
Arroz con pato (Peruvian duck with rice)
Arroz con pollo
Arroz tapado
Carapulcra (Peruvian pork and potato stew)
Chicken heart anticuchos
Escabeche de pescado (fish escabeche)
Estofado de pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)
Jalea mixta (Peruvian-style mixed seafood)
Locro
Locro (Peruvian pumpkin stew)
Lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir-fry)
Majado de plátano con choros y chorizo (smashed plantains, mussels and chorizo)
Olluquito con carne
Paleo ají de gallina in the slow cooker
Paleo patita con maní (pork trotters with(out) peanuts)
Peruvian osso buco
Peruvian pork adobo
Peruvian pork platter
Peruvian-spiced Christmas turkey
Pimiento relleno (Peruvian-style stuffed capsicum)
Pork chops and Pardo’s-style salad
Seafood cau cau
Seco de carne (Peruvian beef & coriander stew)
Seco de cordero con frejoles (lamb & coriander stew and beans)
Slow-cooked cebiche de pato (duck cebiche)
Tacu tacu (Peruvian-style rice and beans)
Tallarines verdes

Soups:
Chilcano de pescado (Peruvian fish broth)
Menestrón
Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito
Sancochado
Sopa criolla (creole soup)

Sides/salads/sauces:
Huancaína sauce
Puré de espinaca (spinach mash)
Salsa criolla
Solterito de queso

Desserts:
Alfajores
Chapana (Peruvian cassava dessert)
Leche asada
Lúcuma cheesecake
Lúcuma coconut mousse
Lúcuma coconut mousse v2.0
Paleo crema volteada
Paleo tres leches cake
Suspiro de limeña

Drinks:
Chilcano de Pisco
Jugo surtido (“assorted” juice)
Kombucha chilcano
Lúcuma smoothie

Enjoy and felices fiestas patrias!

Recipe: Gluten-free torta de galletas (biscuit cake)

My aunties didn’t bake a lot, so when it was time for cake they often made torta de galletas, a layered biscuit “cake”. I have vivid memories of me helping make the icing in their vintage stand mixer and, most importantly, licking the icing off the beaters. Of course, I also helped assemble the cake and waited patiently until the next day, when the biscuits had absorbed all the moisture and the cake had a much better structure.

My auntie Sumi passed away a few weeks ago. She was a great cook and she was a very kind, loving auntie. It was hard to think of a particular dish that reminds me of her because I’m pretty sure she cooked the bulk of the food my sisters and I ate growing up. Then I remembered I had copied one recipe from her notebook before moving to Australia, the recipe for torta de galletas.

The original recipe uses margarine and 1kg (!) of icing sugar for the icing. It also uses regular caramel (made by boiling a can of condensed milk), which I figured would be way too sweet. I used butter and a more reasonable amount of coconut sugar for the icing, and made the caramel with coconut milk and pitted dates. I also used gluten-free vanilla biscuits, which I found out crumble a lot more than regular biscuits, making the assembly process a bit more fiddly. The end result wasn’t as good as my auntie’s but it did remind me of her.

Gluten-free torta de galletas (biscuit cake)
Yield: about 16 servings

Torta de galletas

Icing:

  • 250g butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder (or coffee or liquor) diluted in boiling water
  • 1 egg

Caramel:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 to 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Layers:

  • 150g shredded or dessicated coconut
  • 250g chopped walnuts
  • 1 kg vanilla biscuits
  • 2 cups of milk (any type)

Directions

Icing:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together (you can use a mixer, food processor or do it by hand).

Caramel:

  1. Soak the dates in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain well and blend with coconut milk and vanilla.
  3. Heat in a saucepan until thickened to a spreadable consistence.

Layers:

  1. Count the biscuits and divide the total by 6 or 8. The result will be how many biscuits you will use per layer.
  2. Form a layer of biscuits soaked in milk.
  3. Spread caramel on top of the biscuits, topped with walnuts and coconut.
  4. Add a layer of biscuits soaked in milk.
  5. Spread icing, topped with walnuts and coconut.
  6. Continue until you have 6 to 8 layers of biscuits (should end with icing).
  7. Refrigerate overnight to allow the biscuits to absorb the moisture.
The Corner McCafe

Review: The Corner McCafe (Camperdown)

I’ve sold my soul to the devil. I’m reviewing an establishment that belongs to McDonald’s. Ok, jokes aside, I’ve been thinking about giving this place a go ever since they opened back when I was doing my undergrad at Sydney Uni but having a very good cafe on campus I never had the choice. Now that I’m back to the neighbourhood (I work at RPAH), I decided it was about time to see what they had to offer. Apologies in advance for the point-and-shoot photos.

This former McCafe morphed into The Corner when Maccas decided to test their ability to engage the hipster market. Kale and quinoa were recent additions in selected cafe menus and chia pots were not available in your local supermarket just yet.

The Corner

The corner has a section of food to grab and go (e.g. wraps, yoghurt, etc.) but you can also order a customised item either to eat in or takeaway. The bowls can be built with a base (brown rice or slaw), a protein (pulled pork, chicken or haloumi) and 2 extras (tortilla chips, pumpkin seeds, croutons, pico de gallo, dry slaw, jalapeños), plus lettuce, cucumber, cheese and a sauce (chipotle mayo, tomato chilli jam, spicy aioli or garlic aioli). All for $10.80. My bowl had slaw, pulled pork, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli. I found the meat to be the star of the show, with good taste and a decent serving. The veggies were a bit old and boring and could not be rescued by the sauce. I did not notice that there were premium extras that could be added to the bowl, e.g. guacamole ($1.50). There’s also the option of doubling up the protein for $3.

Pulled pork bowl

Pulled pork bowl ($10.80)

Other customisable items include pressed wraps, grain salads and classic wraps. There’s also a pulled pork sandwich and a classic bowl with pulled pork, plus toast and toasties (gluten-free available for extra $1).

Coffee is surprisingly expensive, considering there are plenty of better choices around. Small coffees are $3.70, and extras (e.g. soy/almond milk are $0.70).

Almond milk flat white

Small almond milk flat white ($4.40)

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 2.5/5, expensive and not much better than capsule coffee.
Food: 3/5, gluten-free and vegetarian choices available, customisable items.
Service: 3/5, standard “order and pay at the counter” service.

The Corner McCafé
8b Missenden Rd
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9565 5710
Website

The Corner by McCafé Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Product review: Helga’s gluten free gourmet rolls

Even though I’m not a fan of gluten-free versions of processed foods (no, the fact that something is gluten-free doesn’t make it automatically healthy), I was very curious when I found out that Helga’s had launched their gourmet gluten-free buns in partnership with Chur Burger and Bar Luca.

I tried a couple of Woolworths stores but they were sold out. Then I tried QE supermarkets and found them there at a much higher price ($8.22 vs $6.99 in Woolies) but I was really keen on trying them.

There are 5 rolls per pack, which seems like an odd (no pun intended) number. The health claims at the front of the package read “Source of Protein, Source of Fibre, Wheat Free, No Artificial Colours & Flavours”. Source of protein, yes, a lot of foods (even fruits and vegetables!) have some protein in them. They don’t say “good source of protein” so I guess they’re not lying (the amount per roll is 5g, which is not a lot). Source of fibre, yes, 3g per serve, again not super high but greater than zero. Wheat free, check. No artificial colours & flavours, check but we’ll come back to this one later. Each roll has 27.7g of carbohydrate, of which 2.5g (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) are sugars.

Making gluten-free bread is tough. Gluten is the thing that makes dough elastic, so there are all sorts of ingredients that need to be added to gluten-free flours to attain the desired end product. The ingredients in the 5 seeds variety are: water, modified tapioca starch (1442), flour (rice, soy), seed mix (9%) (linseeds, sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds), maize starch, canola oil, sugar, quinoa, egg white powder, yeast, iodised salt, psyllium, cultured dextrose, white vinegar, stabilisers (412, 464).

Yes, high fibre, no artificial colours & flavours, but still a very long list of ingredients, of which some are “less natural” than others. If I could eat gluten with no problems I would prefer a sourdough roll made out of flour, water, salt and wild yeast. But I can’t and that is why I choose to eat gluten-free bread only once in a while and eat other less processed naturally gluten-free foods instead (meat and vegetables, for example).

We tried them with shredded chicken, celery & homemade mayo (the classic Peruvian “pan con pollo”), chorizo & American mustard (another popular choice in Perú) and cheeseburger (homemade grass-fed beef patty, tasty cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and American mustard). And because it was beautiful and sunny we had a rocket, watermelon & feta salad with balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil & pepper.

The buns are a bit crumbly (we didn’t toast them – that might help) but had a good taste unlike other cakey/crumpety ones. They also come in the white variety, which surprisingly has the same amount of fibre per roll.

Sandwiches with Helga's gluten free gourmet rolls

Helga’s Continental Bakehouse
Website

Aslan Coffee

Review: Aslan Coffee (St Peters)

Continuing with our exploration of our new neighbourhood, we visited this coffee micro brewery for lunch. It rates well in reviews everywhere and they seem serious about their beans.

Aslan Coffee

The coffee comes from Indonesia and is light and soft. Keep this in mind if you like your coffee strong.

Chai latte, long black

Chai latte ($3.5) + almond milk ($1), long black ($3.5)

The menu also features Indonesian items like the perkedel (Indonesian style potato croquette), Aunty Mei’s pork satay and Tempeh Orek burger. The rest of the menu mixes standard cafe fare with some North American influences, such as huevos rancheros and pulled pork burgers. Danish feta and chipotle aioli appear multiple times in the menu.

We ordered from the breakfast menu, which is available all days on weekends. The peppercorn hot smoked salmon with pan-fried perkedel, chipotle aioli, poached eggs, sesame seeds & fresh greens had a great flavour.

Peppercorn hot smoked salmon

Peppercorn hot smoked salmon ($18.5)

We ordered the green eggs omelette, a herby spinach omelette with semi-dried tomatoes, avocado, Danish feta cheese, pine nuts & side of chilli pesto with extra Spanish chorizo. Although I like my eggs less cooked, the omelette was good and very filling.

Green eggs omelette

Green eggs omelette ($17.50) + spanish chorizo ($3.5)

Other healthy options in the menu I noticed are the avocado boconcini salad ($12.5, with grilled chicken for $5 extra) and the roast vegetables salad ($15.5, with pulled pork for $4 extra). It’s also good to keep in mind that gluten-free toast is available for $2 extra.

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 3.5/5, good coffee but very delicate. Almond milk available.
Food: 3.5/5, plenty of vegetarian options (with vegan option available on most of them), some gluten-free options.
Service: 3.5/5, good service.

Aslan Coffee
1 Council St
St Peters NSW 2044
0488 827 526
Website
On Facebook

Aslan Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato