Pasta coeliacs will love – organic gluten-free fusilli

Last night I was feeling hungry, so I had some of the noodles I’d bought from our office at GoodnessDirect. These were no ordinary noodles…

First of all they were made from buckwheat which is significant because buckwheat is a seed, not a grain. In other words it’s gluten-free because it doesn’t carry the proteins that coeliacs don’t handle.

Secondly, these noodles were flavoured with green tea. Call me strange, but I kinda liked them.

buckwheat pasta

100% buckwheat pasta

But I’m not trying to persuade you to eat crazy foods. The truth is, buckwheat pasta without the funny flavours is nice enough. I’d say it is nicer than ordinary pasta. There’s a kind of sweet nuttiness to it which is completely missing from ordinary pasta.

Amisa Organic make a buckwheat fusilli which is, of course, organic, but also vegan, wheat free and dairy free.

I don’t know if you’re a pasta enthusiast but fusilli is one of my favourites. The spirals help to capture the flavour of whichever sauce you eating it with. So imagine a sweet nutty pasta with a creamy cheesy sauce or a piquant tomato salsa and you’ll appreciate that you’re in for a real treat.

Who knows? You might even get into trying some crazier flavours.

Meet the Superfoodies brand

Leading Superfoodies feature in The Sunday Telegraph on 24th August

Leading superfoodies feature in The Sunday Telegraph on 24th August.

Did you catch the Telegraph article on the new superfoodies?

It profiles seven women who are shaking up the world of cookery with their style of healthy eating…

Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley believe that healthy eating is part of a holistic lifestyle and their first book The Art of Eating Well has already knocked other high-profile cooks off the top of the charts.
Ella Woodward promotes healthy eating rather than counting the calories. She recently brought out the DeliciouslyElla app which is chock-full of plant-based recipes that are all free from gluten and refined sugars.
Rosemary Ferguson is a qualified naturopathic nutrition specialist whose juicing wizardry and life-mentoring aims to help people live the life they have, rather than seek to change it.
■ Similarly, vegetarian gourmet chef, Natasha Corrett’s book, Honestly Healthy For Life, brings the regimen of eating alkaline into all areas of life.
■ Others include Vogue journalist, Calgary Avansino, and Stella magazine’s Diana Henry.

There’s an Unconnected ‘Superfoodies food’ range

Of course, some health food pioneers, like Shazzie, have been advocating healthy eating for the last two decades. So it’s no surprise that her company also has a range of food called Superfoodies (which has nothing to do with the celebrities above). It remains to be seen who came up with the name first.

There's an unconnected Superfoodies food range too

There’s an unconnected Superfoodies food range too

The Superfoodies food range includes many of the healthy ingredients you’ll read about in others’ recipes such as: Himalayan salt, hemp seeds or lucuma powder. Plus there are some new innovations you may not have heard of yet: a Red Granola combining goji berries and acai or a Green Granola using coconut and spirulina.

This new superfoodie trend tends to follow along the lines where paleo, raw, plant-based and free-from diets have led before, with one major emphasis: If we are to invest in our health, then it needs to be a lot more about looking after how we live generally and not simply tweaking what we put on our plate.

Welcome to the world of the Superfoodie.

Pope Francis’ favourite drink: South American Mate

Did you notice that, among his many other achievements, Pope Francis has introduced a new drink to the world?

As a true Argentinian, Pope Francis enjoys a drink of mate – the South American green tea traditionally shared by hardened Gaucho cowboys.

The key word here is ‘shared’ because, as the Pope’s favourite drink, mate (pronounced mah-teh) is a symbol of friendship, respect and altruism. It has the power to unite a society.

Organic Mate: the tea with the power

Dragonfly's organic mate tea

Mate: perfect taste, perfect ingredients

Social influence is not the only type of power Mate has. The beverage is prized for its clean caffeine kick. With about the same amount of caffeine as tea, Mate is believed to invigorate, revive and bring focus to your day. It’s also full of antioxidants (apparently 90% more than green tea), boosts your metabolism and aids digestion.

As an introduction to the drink, Dragonfly Tea have brought out Green Gaucho, a blend of Mate, green tea and lemongrass, which balances the earthy taste  of Mate with a softer citrus finish.

If you’re feeling in need of friendship, this organic Mate tea could be just the conversational pick-me-up you need to revive your day.

Why would you use dishwasher tablets that kill fish?

Did you know that in the UK there’s still no ban on phosphates in dishwasher powders?

In the USA, the chemical that causes river pollution started to be banned in dishwasher detergents back in 2010. But, even though phosphates aren’t allowed in laundry soap in the UK, they’re still permitted for dishwasher tablets.

Phosphates bring trouble to our rivers by causing algae to overgrow which starves the fish of oxygen – and pretty much all dishwasher tablets in the UK contain it.

Ecover phosphate free dishwasher tablets

The first eco-friendly dishwasher tablets approved by the GHI

All, that is, except Ecover’s All-In-One Dishwasher Tablets.

Using plant-based ingredients, Ecover have developed unique phosphate free tabs with rinse aid and salt action to deal with hard water and leave your cutlery stain free.

It’s approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute who say:

Ecover’s ecological phosphate and phosphonate free All-In-One Dishwasher Tablets help to keep rivers and waterways clean, homes free of nasties and crockery gleaming… The tablets produced excellent cleaning results in all programmes tested and in both machines. Glassware and cutlery was left gleaming, sparkling clean and streak free. Burnt on soils were removed.

The dishwasher tablets are available in boxes of 25 and 70 and include natural citrus ingredients for that fresh, clean fragrance. To find out more about Ecover’s green cleaning range, free from petrochemicals and phosphates, visit their GoodnessDirect shelf.

Banana Quinoa Cake Recipe – Gluten-free and vegan

Have you ever tried baking with quinoa flour?

It’s gluten free for a start and all the protein in the quinoa helps to give the bread some of its structure.

In reality, because gluten is a form of protein, you’re just replacing one form of protein with another. Almond, Amaranth, Buckwheat, Soya and Chickpea are all protein rich sources of flour you might want to consider using.

This recipe for banana quinoa cake is a good place to start because it’s so easy and has a lovely fluffy texture. The other advantage is that it uses no eggs, so it’s vegan too.

quinoa cake recipe vegan and gluten free

Using quinoa adds structure to your baking


banana quinoa cake (Gluten-free and vegan)

100g Quinoa flour
60g Brown sugar
40g Almond flour
2 tsps Baking powder
1 Ripe banana
4 tbsps Coconut oil
1 Orange
Handful of Pumpkin seeds or Linseeds (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C or Gas 4.
2. Mix together the flours, the baking powder and the sugar.
3. Mash the banana in another bowl.
4. Melt the coconut then add it to the banana and stir well.
5. Juice the orange and cut the skin into small pieces, then mix both in with the banana.
6. Mix in the prepared flour.
7. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment and pour in the mix.
8. Sprinkle the seeds on top and bake for about 45 minutes.

Why antibacterial soaps may not work

You may not want to agree with me… 

My suspicion is that we’re not helping ourselves when we use anti-bacterial soaps.

I’m not actually sure that antibacterial soaps are as effective as they claim to be but, in a world where drug resistant bacteria is increasing, I fear we may be training bacteria to be more resistant. That’s my unscientific view (but see The Smithsonian article for similar speculation.

The scientists question whether we need to kill the bacteria in the first place; after all, we’ve been living with bacteria since time began, and killing off bacteria won’t necessarily destroy the viruses that also make us ill. It is even suggested that thoroughly your hands with soap and water can be just as effective.

Natural alternatives

sanitising anti-bacterial hand wash

Natural soap that still kills 99% of germs

Again, it’s only my advice, but if you want to use a more powerful soap I’d go for something that doesn’t rely on harsh chemicals alone. Choose something biodegradable or plant-based.

Grapefruit is known to be an astringent antiseptic, so it’s no surprise that Ecoleaf use it for their Liquid Hand Soap.

Tea tree oil is effective on bacteria, funguses and some viruses, it is also believed to work against many antibiotic-resistant bacteria; which is why Faith in Nature use it in their Aloe Vera & Tea Tree Hand Wash.

Bio-D make a hypoallergenic Sanitising Hand Wash (in fact, they have a whole range) that has been tested against E Coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus - proving that  naturally derived soaps can do as well without using petrochemicals.

Perhaps it helps to finish with a good old patronising guide on How To Wash Your Hands. It is, after all, the first line of defence against germs.

Olives – love ‘em or hate ‘em

My friends can easily be divided into two camps: those who love and those who hate olives.

It’s surprising because olive oil never seems to be a problem, just olives. Some even pick them out of their pizza when out at restaurants – they just won’t be persuaded.

I guess it’s easy to understand. If you buy the wrong type the olives may taste too bitter, oily or salty. Cheaper olives tend to be highly processed that way.

Dumet olives can be manzanilla kalamata  or hojiblanca

Go for premium olives if you want to enjoy the flavour

But I’d love my inflexible friends to keep trying, high quality olives are never pasteurised or treated with artificial preservatives and you can generally tell where they are from or what type of olive they are – they won’t simply be classed as green or black – in other words they taste better.

That’s why when Dumet sell gourmet olives they ship them in sealed pouches rather than cans. Names like Hojiblanca, Manzanilla or Kalamata can sound off putting, but it means the olives come from a single variety and knowing more about their origin means they are more trustworthy.

In reality, the type of olive you prefer will come down to various factors, not least their taste and texture, it might even be their shape or size. Depending on what you like you might go for olives with a lighter fruity flavour or you may appreciate something more earthy. Another reason to reconsider are the health benefits.

Olive oil is often touted as healthy but olives are also useful. While olives do contain fat, it’s the monosaturated kind that helps to lower bad cholesterol and decrease blood pressure. Olives are full of antioxidants and are also anti-inflammatory which helps with illnesses like asthma and arthritis, they are a good source of iron and Vitamin A. It is even thought that they may be anti-fungal and act as a natural anti-histamine at the cellular level.

At the end of the day, if my friends really can’t be convinced to eat olives there is, of course, one other benefit… There’s more for me!