Amazing low calorie biscuits and gluten free biscuits from Doves Organic

Doves quinoa and fig biscuits
Amazing new biscuits using quinoa and fig

I’m very excited about some new biscuits from Doves organic.

Why? Because they’re experimenting with quinoa and figs for their biscuits and flapjacks.

The result is Chocolate Chip Cookies at only 47 calories a biscuit (which lower than your average digestive!) … and it’s laced with chocolate and honey.

Did I mention that quinoa is a superfood? ‘Cos it is now for me!

They’ve also created some Figgy Flapjacks with whole pieces of luscious fig.

But their genius has taken the organic bakers one inspired step further. They’ve combined the two to make some amazing gluten-free Fig & Quinoa Cookies which are beautifully baked and taste golden. (No chalky, fake biscuit taste here. No nuts, dairy or any other major allergens either.) Rumour has it more quinoa cookie flavours are around the corner…


How to really enjoy quinoa – white, red or black

black quinoa
Black quinoa, the rarest of all quinoa grains

If you’ve tried quinoa and been left thinking…

“Why would anyone eat this mush?”

Think again.

According to the blog VeganGoodEats, we’ve been cooking it wrong. Quinoa can be made to be “a granulated, al dente quinoa that can also be used in any rice or couscous recipe.”

Take a look at the Quinoa 101 webpage for proper cooking instructions.

Of course, quinoa can be an excellent source of protein and fibre for vegans. And BioFair are now able to provide quinoa in four organic, fairtrade varieties:

  • Organic Quinoa Grain – sometimes called ivory quinoa. It is soft and has a mild flavor so it’s great for complimenting other foods.
  • Red Quinoa Grain – stronger in flavour, it takes longer to cook but is also crunchier. But the distinct flavour and appearance make it more suitable for cold salads and other recipes.
  • Black Quinoa Grain – the rarest of the three. It is sweeter and strong in flavour, and also keeps its crunch and colour when cooked.
  • Tri-Colore Quinoa Grain – a fantastic mix of all three.

The best crispbread you’ve ever tasted, and it’s gluten free

The best tasting crispbread ever (in my opinion)

Many people have been asking for a particular crispbread called Pain des Fleurs translated ‘bread of flowers’.

It’s not surprising as it’s the most delicious crispbread I’ve ever tasted, with a sweet and lightly crispy texture.

And it’s also gluten free.

The reason why it’s both delicious and gluten free is that it is a crispbread made from chestnuts (and it’s also organic…) I was writing recently about the versatility of chestnuts and this is just such an example.

However, Pain des Fleurs also make crispbreads using buckwheat and also quinoa. I can’t tell you how these taste but if the quality is anything like the chestnut crispbread it has got to be pretty good.

Is red quinoa really better than white quinoa?

Red quinoa, white quinoa
What’s the difference between red and white quinoa?

This is an honest open question…

I’ve heard some people say that red quinoa is better than white quinoa, but I keep looking and looking and can’t find anything to support this?

So does anyone know something I don’t?

Quinoa grain is popular because it is very nutritious. It’s a great source of vitamins & minerals and is a source of complete protein – that means it’s a choice food for vegetarians and vegans, but it’s also gluten free, so anyone who is coeliac can eat it too.

The only difference I can find is that red quinoa has more bite to it and has a stronger flavour. It doesn’t soften as easily as white quinoa. But what this means is that different colours of quinoa perform better in different meals, red quinoa might be better in tabouli salads or as a side dish when serving fish, but white quinoa is more useful if you want to make porridge, thicken a soup or add it to a casserole.

Quinoa salad
Quinoa is worth trying if you are vegetarian, vegan or gluten free

Quinoa is very versatile. BioFair use organic, fairtrade quinoa to make gluten free pasta, and turn the grain into all sorts of quinoa variations: pops, flakes, flour or muesli. But the quinoa fans out there (who must know something more about quinoa than I do) will relish the news that BioFair not only sells white quinoa but also the more rare red version, and mixes both with the even more obscure black quinoa for a tricolor option.

Which leads to my next question: does any know how black quinoa differs from the red white varieties?

Japanese food, simple, healthy and creative

Japanese food is growing in popularity. It’s beauty is in its simplicity.

Many recognise the cuisine as healthy too. Not much salt or oil is used and vegetables make up a large part of the Japanese diet.

But cooking Japanese isn’t difficult. Many ingredients are well known: rice, noodles, tofu, soy sauce, sake, wasabi, miso.

Sanchi make high quality traditional Japanese foods, including many of¬† the foods you’ve heard of and some you won’t. There’s no artificial colouring, flavouring, additives, sweeteners or refined sugar. Simply the best in Japanese Cuisine.

Japanese food is so beautiful in its simplicity
Japanese food is so beautiful in its simplicity

The BBC offers a good introduction to making your own Japanese food with over 60 recipes, and when you’ve got that mastered, you can move onto the Japanese¬† Food Report.

So all you need are some good Sanchi ingredients, a bit of zen, add a pair of chopsticks and you’re on your way!

Ever wondered how good for you your cereal really is?

Why is granola so satisfying? Crunchy mouthfuls of toasted oats fill your mouth with goodness at every crunch.

But has it ever worried you how much sugar there is in it?

Perfekt Granolas are interesting because they use agave syrup which only has 1/3rd of the calories in sugar and, rather than giving you a moment’s satisfaction, gently releases energy so that your body burns the carbs instead of storing them as fat. You’ll hopefully feel fuller for longer.

Perfekt - The nutritious breakfast
Perfekt - The nutritious breakfast

For Perfekt, nutritional balance is everything. Organic nuts, seeds and oats are combined with the aim of giving you a good balance of protein and complex carbohydrates.

Whatismore, the Perfekt blend of nuts, seeds and oil provides Omega 3, 6 and 9 and vitamins and minerals. That makes a pretty good start to the day.

Particularly intriguing is that one of Perfekt’s cereals uses quinoa instead of oats, which is a nod towards the gluten-free community. However, currently the cereal is prepared in a building where other gluten cereals could cross contaminate. The cereals contain no added salt or wheat either.

Pasta galore! In more flavours than you could possibly think – recipe below

Forget fish and chips or curry, pasta is the nation’s favourite when it comes to choosing what to cook.

In many UK homes Italian food is served 2-3 times a week with “spag bol” in top position as the most cooked meal.

Pasta - everyone's favourite meal
Pasta - everyone's favourite meal

Imagine pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, rocket and walnuts; or goats cheese and honey ravioli; or creamy spinach and asparagus fettuccine – it all sounds soooo delicious, but if you have a friend with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) it’s immediately off the menu.

Still, IBS sufferers can eat pasta if it’s not made from traditional durum wheat. Biona have spaghetti, fusilli and tagliatelle all made from spelt, a more ancient grain which doesn’t effect people with IBS.

In fact pasta can be made from corn, rice, kamut, buckwheat, amaranth, millet or quinoa; vegetables are often used in pasta too.

Using other types of pasta also means a bigger range of flavour: nutty or sweet, firm or rich in texture. Choose the right kind of pasta and you really can amplify how your dinner will taste.

Here’s a buckwheat pasta recipe called Pizzoccheri – it’s a great comfort food.

125g butter
1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 medium potatoes, cubed
300g dried buckwheat pasta
1 small savoy cabbage
100g brie sliced
100g grated mature cheddar
50g grated parmesan
salt and pepper
a pinch ground nutmeg

1. In a small pan, melt the butter together with the cloves of garlic and the sage. Keep on a low heat so it does not burn.
2. Cook the pasta in boliling water for about 15 minutes (buckwheat pasta takes longer then normal pasta).
3. At the same time boil a second pan of salted water. Shred the cabbage leaves and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and place in a large serving dish. Keep the pan of water.
4. Add the potatoes to the same water and boil until very tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and add to cabbage.
5. When the pasta is cooked to al dente. Drain and toss in with the cabbage and potatoes. Mix in the cheeses.
6. Pour the butter over the top of the pasta and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Gluten-free pasta

When it comes to gluten-free the Italians are well educated about Ceoliac disease. All Italian children are tested for gluten intolerance by the time they are 6.

We get a little benefit of their know-how with companies like Buontempo who price their gluten-free pasta at very competitive prices. And our very own Doves, the British purveyor of organic and gluten-free flours, has an organic gluten-free pasta range where the pasta is made in… well Italy, obviously.

There are so many pasta companies out there who are worthy of a mention. Barkat, for example, is a special diet company who have just introduced it’s own gluten-free macaroni.

The best thing to do is to type ‘pasta‘ into the GoodnessDirect search box and then use the brand guide on the right to check through the different options.