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: 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.
Pacha Mama Burritos

Review: Pacha Mama Burritos (Farm Gate Market, Hobart, TAS)

On our last day in Hobart we followed the hotel staff’s recommendation for brunch and headed to the Farm Gate Market, a farmers market set up on a road not far away from we were staying.

Flowers

Despite being a small market, there was a variety of fresh produce, flowers, artisanal bread, raw honey, sweets, etc.

Stalls

Stalls

But I was more interested in the food! The food stall area had a variety of choices, from gourmet pizzas to Asian fare, with common seating.

Food stalls

Sitting

I decided to try Pacha Mama, a burrito stand. Two things caught my eye: the wallaby burrito and the option to order the burrito as a bowl (making it gluten-free).

Pachamama

I had a chat with the owners while my bowl was prepared and asked them whether they knew “pachamama” was not a Mexican word (they didn’t). Turns out the name was inspired by the Pachamama Project (a crowd-sourcing campaign, I believe). I explained the meaning and origin of the word, thank them for my generously served brunch and proceeded to stuff my face with the tasty burrito. It was my first time trying wallaby (I’ve had kangaroo many times before) and I must say this was a great way of cooking it.

Wallaby burrito bowl

Wallaby burrito bowl ($13)

After brunch we squeezed in a quick visit to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. I didn’t have enough time to make it to MONA, but will do next time.

The Bottom Line
Food: 4/5, local produce, vegan and gluten-free options, good value for money.
Service: 4/5, friendly and efficient.

Pacha Mama Burritos
Saturday at Salamanca Market
Sunday at Farm Gate Market
Hobart, Tasmania
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On Instagram

Silver Hill Fisch

Review: Silver Hill Fisch – Boutique Seafood Sausages (Salamanca Market, Hobart, TAS)

On Saturday afternoon we did the mandatory touristy Hobart thing and went to the Salamanca Markets. It was starting to sprinkle, so our perusal of stalls did not last long, but I got to try a few gins (shout out to the amazing sheep whey gin I regret not buying to bring home).

We were about to leave and I was definitely not hungry but I saw a food caravan selling salmon sausages and was curious to try. As I went closer I realised they had a gluten-free option so I decided I definitely needed to try.

Menu

They did not have any gluten-free buns but served the sausage on a bed of tangy kale, which I did not mind at all. Sausage, kale + mayo = great meal, even when not hungry. If you’re in Hobart, check these sausages out.

Salmon sausage

Salmon sausage, no bun ($8)

The Bottom Line
Food: 4/5, local produce, gluten-free option.
Service: 4/5, friendly and efficient.

Silver Hill Fisch – Boutique Seafood Sausages
Salamanca Market
Salamanca Pl
Hobart TAS 7001
Website
On Facebook
On Instagram

Cafe Lola

Review: Cafe Lola (Hobart, TAS)

One morning, breakfast at the conference was muffins and fruit. I silently turned around and reached for my phone to search for the nearby cafes I had bookmarked. The nearest one was Cafe Lola and I was extremely glad I found it.

Cafe Lola is located right on the wharf and it’s hard to miss – just follow the coffee-centric signs.

Cafe Lola

Cafe Lola

Their menu reads “At Lola we believe good food begins with sourcing locally and ethically, wherever possible, then preparing all our food fresh combining paleo and clean-food philosophies. Most importantly treating our food and customers with care, so you can enjoy being healthy and happy.” From my experience, it seems they do practice what they preach.

As I found out, coffee in Hobart is not cheap but fortunately this was an exception. My long black was not only decently priced ($3.50) but also decently sized and did not disappoint.

Long black

Long black ($3.50)

Even though I knew I would have a lot of food throughout the day, the brekkie paleo pod with soft scrambled eggs, bacon (or smoked salmon), spinach and kumara hash-brown sounded too good to miss. It was as wonderful as it sounds and very, very filling.

Brekkie paleo pod

Brekkie paleo pod ($15.50)

Even though the breakfast menu reads somewhat “normal”, most of the items have been revamped. For example, the toast is either gluten-free or rye and the spreads are home preserves. The granola, served with honey yoghurt and berries, is gluten-free, as are the ricotta & buckwheat pancakes with crispy maple spec (sic), orange & cardamom butter. The poached eggs come with sweet potato fritters, seared spinach & smashed avocado. You get the drill.

For lunch, they have pods in which you choose a base, a protein and an optional extra side. They also have gluten-free, paleo and regular cakes, slices and biscuits to grab and go.

Cafe Lola will remain bookmarked for my future visits to Hobart.

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 4.5/5, good and cheaper than the average in Hobart.
Food: 4.5/5, locally and ethically sourced produce, many gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and paleo options.
Service: 4/5, friendly and polite

Cafe Lola
1/1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7000
(03) 6236 9934
Website

Lola Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recipe: Locro (Peruvian pumpkin stew)

I’m sure there are a million locro recipes out there because it’s fair to say this is an everyday staple in almost every Peruvian household. The way I make it is not the way my mum makes it, nor the way my aunties make it, nor the way my mother-in-law makes it. This is one of the few dishes Alvaro insists on keeping meat-free, with a fried egg (or three) on top. Works for me.

Locro (Peruvian pumpkin stew)
Yield: 4 servings

Locro

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 500-600g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 – 1.25 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 0.5 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • 0.5 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 200g goat feta cheeese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

To serve

  • white rice
  • 4 olives
  • 4 fried eggs
  • coriander leaves

Directions

  1. Peel and cube pumpkin and potatoes.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan at medium-low temperature.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají amarillo. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Add pumpkin and potatoes. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, then add stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until pumpkin and potatoes are falling apart. Feel free to mash them up as much as you want.
  6. Add corn and peas, cook for another couple of minutes.
  7. Turn off heat, add cheese, season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with white rice, topped by a fried egg and garnish with an olive and coriander leaves.

Naturally Good Expo

Last weekend I attended the Naturally Good Expo, a trade-only event for businesses interested in natural food, therapies and goods. I, of course, attended as a private practice dietitian to 1) know what are the market trends that my clients might be exposed to and 2) try products that I can recommend to my clients and/or use myself.

I tried a multitude of Bounce®-type energy balls, raw/protein bars, alkaline water, turmeric products, chocolate bars, plant-based protein powders and greens powders. To be honest, I think those product categories are reaching saturation point and it’s hard to differentiate between brands.

Matcha and turmeric drinks

The most interesting products I personally came across were:

Goat milk chocolate

Egg white protein bars

Sauerkraut crisps

One trend I was pleased to see is bone broths in different presentations (liquid, powdered, in a paste for reconstituting), as well as collagen and gelatin products. These natural jellies were pretty awesome, too.

Bone broth, jelly and nut milks

Natural jellies

Fine Fettle won the retailer’s choice award for best food product, which doesn’t surprise me – I’ve been a fan for a long time (see my most recent review of their products <a href="here).

Recipe: Chapana (Peruvian cassava dessert)

This is not a super well-know Peruvian dessert but is as authentic as it can get. In fact, apparently it’s been around for way longer than the popular desserts that appeared when we were a Spanish colony.

I’m usually biased toward chocolate when it comes to sweets, but this is an exception. I think this is in part because there are childhood memories attached to chapana. I recently learned this is one of my father-in-law’s favourite desserts, too. I guess we have more in common that what I thought :)

Frozen grated cassava

Chapana is made with grated yuca (cassava), chancaca (basically cane sugar that has been boiled and solidified in a block) and aniseed. It’s wrapped in banana leaves and after cooking it acquires a chewy consistency. Grating cassava is a pain in the ass, so when I found frozen cassava in an ethnic shop (can’t remember which) I bought it immediately with cassava in mind. I used coconut sugar instead of chancaca for a hipster version (and also because I don’t know where to buy chancaca in Sydney!), adjusted the ratio (usually 1:1) to make it less sweet and did my best in wrapping the parcels (I’m very sloppy with that kind of things).

Chapana

Chapana
Yield: 4 servings

Chapana

Ingredients

  • 450g frozen grated cassava
  • 200-225g coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp aniseed
  • banana leaves
  • kitchen twine

Directions

  1. Thaw cassava in the fridge overnight.
  2. Wipe the banana leaves clean.
  3. In a bowl, mix cassava, coconut sugar and aniseed.
  4. Divide mix in 4 parts and wrap each in banana leaves in a rectangular pillow-like parcels, wrapping the leaf over itself in 2-3 layers without breaking it if possible.
  5. Tie the parcels with kitchen twine.
  6. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the parcels and bring to a boil.
  7. Pop the parcels in the pot and boil for 30 minutes.
  8. Fish the parcels out of the water and let cool down enough to unwrap and enjoy.
  9. Chapana is usually eaten warm, although some people enjoy it cold or at room temperature.

Recipe: Pimiento relleno (Peruvian-style stuffed capsicum)

Full disclaimer: this in not an authentic Peruvian recipe. The traditional dish is called rocoto relleno, rocoto being a special type of Peruvian really really REALLY hot chilli that I haven’t been able to find fresh in Australia. You can find them jarred but IMO it’s not the same. They jarred version is wet and soggy, characteristics that are particularly unappealing when talking about vegetables you’re about to stuff.

*Real* Peruvians (i.e. not my husband) like their food spicy, so they don’t mind their rocoto relleno to have a bit of a kick. Wimps and kids might prefer to have their rocoto boiled multiple times in water, vinegar and sugar to minimise the heat or have pimiento (capsicum) instead of rocoto.

Rocoto relleno is a dish typical to Arequipa, the white city. The filling is the almighty Peruvian filling based on beef mince, onion, garlic and chilli. The cheese in traditional recipes is paria, a salty fresh cheese. The closest substitution I’ve found here in Australia is sheep and/or goat haloumi. Rocoto relleno is commonly served with a side of pastel de papa, basically a potato bake. I recommend serving it with a leafy green salad instead.

Pimiento relleno (Peruvian-style stuffed capsicum)
Yield: 4 servings

Pimiento relleno

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp ají panca (Peruvian red chilli paste – you can sub any chilli paste)
  • 4 large capsicums
  • 4 olives, pitted
  • 2 boiled eggs, halved
  • 8 slices (about 240g) sheep and/or goat haloumi cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to a moderate-high temperature (180-200°C)
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan. Add meat and brown.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají panca. Cook until meat is fully cooked and onions are soft.
  4. Cut the top off each capsicum and carefully remove the internal membranes and seeds.
  5. Fill each capsicum halfway with meat, add 1 olive, 1/2 boiled egg and cover with more meat.
  6. Top filling with 2 slices of cheese and cover with the capsicum “lid”.
  7. Pop in the oven until the capsicum is soft but not soggy and the cheese has started melting. Serve with a green salad.