Sugar-free, fat-free, fun-free cake?

Oh, goddamit, I’ve got to stop baking – I’m going to develop diabetes at this rate.

But on the other hand, if there was a cake that was low fat and low sugar, that would be ok, wouldn’t it? To be honest, I’m not really asking your permission 🙂

I was doing a little research for my writing (alright, alright, I was procrastinating and surfing the internet, dreaming up things to eat) and bumped into this Maltese recipe from SBS which contains NO ADDED SUGAR OR FAT OR EGGS!

No sugar, fat or eggs? Blergh, I hear you say, but you’d be wrong.

sugarless apricot and date cake

You can find the recipe here:

SBS: Sugarless apricot and date cake

The texture was surprisingly good – I expected it to be crumbly but it wasn’t. It was soft and moist and sweet, and everything a cake should be. As a bonus it is completely dairy free and vegan, and could easily be adapted for gluten free.

Tips from TheO
  • Soak the fruit in a little apple juice for an hour before you bake to keep it moist
  • Switch out the wheat flour for a wheat/gluten free option – I used wholemeal spelt, but perhaps this is taking the concept of healthy cake a step too far
  • If you’re not using SRF, add 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • Although the recipe didn’t say so, I assumed the oven temperature should be 180°C
  • Adapt the cooking time for your tin – I didn’t have a ring tin so used a loaf tin which took 50 minutes to cook
  • Mr Eleanor found the apricot flavour a little too strong so I might try using dried mixed fruit next time, and a bit of cinnamon.

Try it, you might like it.


Sichuan calamari with pineapple, red pepper and sweetcorn salsa

calamari with pineapple salsa


It doesn’t get any simpler than that – barbecued calamari dusted with sichuan pepper or nanami togarashi, at your whim (both in my case); served with a salsa of red pepper, pineapple, sweetcorn, onion, coriander, chilli and lime juice.

Bliss! And calamari gets a sustainability tick of approval – it’s all good!

Hoisin crispy duck salad

As promised in What do you mean ‘salad for dinner’? here’s some salad for dinner. This beast has SUBSTANCE: crispy duck with that deeply salty sauce, scattered with braised lentils, on a bed of cucumber, spring onion, courgette and avocado. You won’t feel hard done by, I promise.

hoisin crispy duck salad

Hoisin crispy duck salad

On a food intolerance note:

  • Hoisin sauce usually contains wheat but gf versions are available. As always, MAKE SURE YOU READ THE LABEL
  • Same goes for crispy noodles – I use Chang’s Gluten Free Fried Noodles. They have a, erm, special texture and always need refreshing in the microwave before use to make them bearable. But, beggars … choosers etc.


wasabi tofu noodles

Sometimes you just know when you’ve done well, don’t you? This is what I made myself for lunch yesterday.

wasabi tofu noodles

buckwheat noodles and broccoli, on a bed of rocket and spinach, topped with crispy fried tofu, avocado, cashew and sesame, and a lime and wasabi dressing

It hits so many spots it’s just not funny. The noodles are slippery, soft and unctuous. Against that is the crunch of cashews. The sharp and bitey dressing makes the broccoli taste almost sweet (I know!) and the sesame seeds add a toasty aroma. And I slipped a little crispy fried summin’ summin’ in there too …. mmm mmmmmm!

Not only that but it’s gluten free*, vegan, and dairy free

*Make sure you use tamari and 100% buckwheat noodles – try Spiral Foods

Friday night pizza gets a Turkish makeover

Mr Eleanor is, I would go as far to say, a pizza fanatic. I’m going to the UK for 5 weeks soon. I’m a little worried that he’s only going to eat pizza while I’m away and I will return to find that he’s invented an as-yet-unknown nutritional disease. Or he’ll be 3 stone the heavier.

Pizza is the most infamous topped flatbread, but there are others out there. Lahmacun is the Turkish variant and, I hope, a much lower fat and lower calorie version.

My inspiration was again from Istanbul by Rebecca Seal. I couldn’t help but fiddle with what I’m sure is a great recipe, but I thought the savoury, fatty flavours of the meat needed balancing with some fresh veggies and tartness so I added spinach and rocket leaves, along with some strips of roasted red pepper. It was absolutely DELICIOUS! One of the best things I’ve cooked in a while.

Turkish pizza
True to my word, I have been using kangaroo and this recipe works incredibly well with it, keeping the fat down even further. As always, I also had my eye on how to make it vegetarian or vegan. Following consultation with the Grand Vegetarian Matriarch (my Mama) I reckon you could switch out the mince for VERY finely chopped, cooked mushroom (like duxelles), or even a tin of refried beans as they are already laced with cumin and coriander.

Either way, this is a great option for a Friday night treat – enjoy!

Chocolate orange mousse … like your Mama never used to make

Love experimenting in the kitchen. You’ve got Maxine at Without Cruelty to thank for the inspiration for this one.

chocolate orange mousse

There are just 5 ingredients, of which the primary is avocado. It’s ridiculously easy, perilously quick and tastes divine. Gonna feed it to Mr Eleanor tonight and see if he can guess what’s in it. He he he he! Here’s the recipe!  Enjoy, x



Flapjacks (that’s the oat bar kind, not pancakes) were always a family favourite when I was little. I love them in so many ways:

1. So easy to make

There are only 6 steps – 1 is for prep and 3 are about baking!

2. Versatile for special diets

 Ingredient   Gluten-free  Vegan, vegetarian,  dairy-free  Low FODMAP
Butter Any Margarine, eg Nuttelex Any
Sugar Any Any White table sugar
Syrup Any Use molasses for extra iron (Vegan: not honey) Maple syrup
Oats Use certified gluten-free oats* Any Any
Nuts & seeds Any Any Any
Fruit Any Any Candied peel or stem ginger (always check the ingredients first)

* This, as with a lot of food intolerances, is dependant on the consumer. Some cultivars of oat are known to be safe for coeliacs, however much of the issue arises because oat crops become contaminated with wheat and other gluten-containing cereals. Do your research if you’re feeding these to other people! Wikipedia: Oats and Coeliac disease

3. Flavour combinations

I love that the flavour combinations are limited only by your imagination. What about:

  • Cranberry with white chocolate drizzle
  • Stem ginger and sesame
  • Dried apricot and almonds
  • Pecan and dark chocolate drizzle
  • Raisin and hazelnut
  • Dried mango and coconut … I wonder if you could replace the butter with coconut oil … ?

Late addition thanks to Dylan Moran at the Melbourne Arts Centre last night: Bacon flapjacks … may be with a little maple syrup? Not as crazy as you might think …

4. Nutritious

Oats are the primordial super-food. Not only to they contain plenty of soluble fibre but also β glucans which have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol.

Combine their superpowers with the protein, good fats and essential minerals from those nuts and seeds and you can just about pretend that these flapjacks are healthy.

(What fat and sugar? I can’t hear you! La la la laaa!)

5. Good shelf life

In fact, they get better over time. Put them in a tin and hide them on a high shelf for 3-5 days. They sort of relax and become soft and caramelly. Do let me know if you manage to successfully hide a batch of flapjacks for 5 days …

6. Freakin’ delicious!

Nuff said.

So here’s my mum’s recipe: Fabulous flapjack

Enjoy, x


semi-dried tomato and olive spaghetti

The ingredients may seem a little light on, but don’t be tempted to add more as it will be too salty. In the same vein, it doesn’t need seasoning with salt, or topping with parmesan which makes it a really tasty vegan option.

Shame it’s only lunch time, it would go REALLY well with a glass of merlot or rioja.

Although, it’s only me and the cats at home. And the cats wouldn’t tell on me. Would they?

It’s barely a recipe but here it is anyway: semi-dried tomato and olive spaghetti