Gluten free cake recipes on a budget for Valentine’s

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I love food and I love cake. I have little self-control and a fat woman trying to bust out of me that constantly needs to be kept in check, so the answer is cakes that are as healthy as possible avoiding gluten, sugar and fat.

Buying them I have found to be crazily expensive – £15 for a 2lb loaf tin size chocolate cake made to order (gluten free, dairy free and with dates for the sweetener – over £20 for something fancier and larger like the one I go on to mention below) and we’re down in Bournemouth so in London this could be double. However when you add up the cost of the ingredients for £15 they won’t be making a lot of profit.

The thing is sugar and fat are cheap ingredients, as well as addictive, so to be healthy you will need to see grocery shopping as making investment purchases.

Harry Eastwood's fabulous chocolate and aubergine cake that tastes divine

Harry Eastwood’s fabulous chocolate and aubergine cake that tastes divine

Let’s take a gluten free cake recipe I love and which is brilliant as a treat on Valentine’s Day – aubergine chocolate cake. Okay so it sounds weird but oh my word it is really good. It is very healthy because you not only avoid so much fat but get in some of your 5 a day through using the aubergines which work blissfully well here to give an exquisite texture. This recipe also avoids grains and so many sources I have stumbled upon in recent healthy eating reading keep pointing to consumption of grains being bad for us. It uses a ton of chocolate which needs to be great quality and that is going to be really expensive alone even before we get to ground almonds and brandy.

One way to keep costs down is to use a price comparison website such as It’s a little bit tricky as you can’t get the identical brand in all supermarkets and they sell it in different quantities but here’s a shopping list for what’s needed to make this cake based on items widely available that can be compared for budgeting reasons (some will be left over for future cake wonders):


It seemed extravagant to include the brandy as would make it a very very expensive gluten free cake ingredient shop (that £15 or £20 to have one made to order is suddenly seeming extremely reasonable) so let’s assume if you are going to use the brandy, you have some already as well as salt and baking powder in your kitchen. However in the spirit of making the most of your budget here is how the price of some brandy differed.

Finding the cheapest supermarket to buy your brandy

Finding the cheapest supermarket to buy your brandy

So Asda looked like the best place to shop to make this particular cake recipe – helped a lot by it’s super chocolate price even when not on special offer. Prompted we went to stock up on chocolate last night as we love a bargain. In fact their own brand 70% chocolate although not organic is only £1 per bar so we bought that and so far it is very nice to eat and has not made it into any cakes! Leith’s Cookery School helped select it for taste and I’m liking their choices. We had tried Lidl’s on recommendation but when we bought the same chocolate in Lidl in Lanzarote it tasted completely different (as if you were just eating fat) and it put us off somewhat.

And with Valentine’s Day in mind why not check out what Valentine’s offers they have at mySupermarket. You could go for a nice box of organic chocolate or create the right mood with some Valentine’s candles all over the house. Don’t start a house fire though – just a little flame in the heart! Failing that, ply them with alcohol ;-).

This is a sponsored blog post. Prices correct as at 24 January 2013.

Aubergine Chocolate Cake Recipe for love or heartache


Valentine’s Day is coming up which could mean a celebration of love with you wanting to cook a delicious treat for your loved one. And if your loved one or you yourself are a gluten free vegetarian, then right on-the-money and earning you muchos brownie points (pardon the pun) will be baking them a delicious aubergine chocolate cake. I’ve tried it (several times) and can assure you they will likely love you with all of their stomach and taste buds as well as all of their heart!

And if the arrival of Valentine’s Day means it reminds you of heartache and makes you want to eat a whole cake by yourself, you can take reassurance from the fact this amazing cake has no added fat (just from the chocolate as the aubergine gives it the silkiness), no additional refined sugar (beyond the chocolate) and helps you towards your 5 a day of fruit and veg! Love yourself and choose to only make yourself healthy versions of cake.

Chocolate aubergine cake in Harry Eastwood's recipe book

Chocolate aubergine cake in Harry Eastwood’s recipe book

I do believe that this cake is even paleo diet friendly in the more balanced educated versions of paleo such as The Perfect Health Diet if you ensure that the dark chocolate and cocoa powder you buy don’t have refined sugar in them. I’m not sure how raw honey would work but that would make it healthier again.

Healthy cakes have a drawback in that they can be costly to make so please see my post ‘Gluten free cake recipes on a budget’ for advice on how to overcome that.

My favourite aubergine chocolate cake recipe is Heartache Chocolate Cake from Harry Eastwood in her fabulous cookbook ‘Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache’. I have shared it with you below. The book features tons of yummy vegetable cakes that might sound strange at first but they are superb and much healthier for you than standard cake fodder. Even so, if she does use sugar in a recipe we personally find that we can cut it by another third and it’s plenty sweet enough.

Harry's most excellent adventures with vegetable based cakes!

Harry’s most excellent adventures with vegetable based cakes!

How many?!

The recipe says it serves 14 equating to about 216 kcal and 10g saturated fat per serving. Well my reaction to that is 14 people who don’t particularly like cake or like small portions I’d say. I would say it serves 8 people who like cake or 3 girls at a pyjama party eating it while concentrated on watching a ‘Bridget Jones’ DVD.

Aubergine chocolate cake ingredients:

  • “2 small whole aubergines (weighing roughly 400g)
  • 300g best dark chocolate you can find (minimum 70% cocoa solids essential), broken into squares
  • 50g good-quality cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting [ME – ensure it is pure cocao powder and not hot chocolate drinking powder which will no doubt have copious amounts of refined sugar]
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 3 medium free-range eggs [ME – as ‘free range’ doesn’t actually mean as much freedom of movement for every bird as one might imagine, my advice would be to only buy eggs from trusted sources where it is stated on the packaging that the hens romp around woodland or farmland. And steer clear of corn fed / grain fed for the most natural option]
  • 200g clear honey [ME – personally I’d buy a good quality one to avoid a high water content]
  • 2 tsp baking powder [ME – gluten free of course]
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or some tears, if you have any in the kitchen) [ME – sorry, this is the stuff Harry writes into her recipes. Anyway in our house this would be Pink Himalayan salt from the health food store for extra minerals and not just sodium]
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (for moral support) [ME – optional]

Equipment you will need:

  • a 23cm-diameter x 7cm-deep loose-bottomed tin [ME – 9” x 2 ¾” and loose bottoms are the very reason if we have cake, it must be healthy!]
  • a skewer
  • a microwave (see Trust Me Tips, below)
  • a blender”

Aubergine chocolate cake method:

  1. “Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the tin with baking parchment and lightly brush the base and sides with a little oil.
  2. Cook the aubergines by puncturing the skins erratically here and there with a skewer, then placing them in a bowl covered with cling film. Microwave on high for 8 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and limp. Discard any water at the bottom. Leave the aubergines to stand in the bowl until they are cool enough to handle.
  3. Next, skin (I find that the tip of a knife does the job) and purée the aubergines in a blender. Once the warm aubergine is puréed and smooth, add the chocolate, which will mingle and melt slowly. Set aside, covered once again in cling film, until all the chocolate has melted.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk up all the other ingredients for a minute until well introduced to each other and slightly tipsy (bubbly). Fold the melted chocolate and aubergine mixture into the bowl with all the other ingredients. Don’t be afraid of being a little brutal with the spatula – they will get on and fuse.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place it in the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes, by which time your kitchen will sing with the smell of hot chocolate.
  6. Remove the mixture from the oven and let it cool in its tin for 15 minutes before turning on to a wire rack and peeling off the parchment. Quickly turn the right way up again and sit it on a plate to avoid any scars from the rack.
  7. Sieve a little cocoa powder over the top of the cake before cutting yourself a slice and letting the medicine work its magic.

Trust Me Tips from Harry

If you don’t have a microwave, peel and cube the aubergines and cook them with a tiny splash of water on top of the hob until they are soft and squidgy, taking great care neither to burn them nor to drown them with too much water. Discard the water before blitzing.

Make sure that the aubergine has definitely melted the chocolate – this is not an instance where chunks of chocolate are wanted, I’m afraid. If the aubergine is too cool, simply blitz in the microwave for another 2 minutes before adding the chocolate chunks.

Be very careful to unmould the cake when it is cool rather than warm – it is terribly delicate (just as you are) and could smash easily. A little time to cool down helps make it more robust.

On particularly sad days, this cake will crack on the surface when it’s cooking. Don’t be upset by this – it’s just the heart of the cake breaking too and trying to make you feel less alone.”

A lot of people reviewing Harry’s book on Amazon noted they struggled when peeling the aubergines, but we didn’t have a problem with this at all. Be brave as this cake is so worth it.

Enjoy! I know you will … unless you forgot an ingredient!

Gluten free sugar free recipes rant

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Oops – another gluten free sugar free recipes cookbook feels my wrath.

I follow a facebook page/website that promotes gluten free stuff and while unable to sleep one night and surfing, having seen a new one on the scene I felt the need to post the below comment/rant about these gluten free sugar free recipe books. They are marketed as healthy but the authors are a dangerous combination of a) blindly under the marketing dollar/pound spell of so called ‘healthy alternatives’ and b) not well read enough on the subject of food including scientific papers not to use substitutes that are also of concern to one’s health.

The sugar free bit scares me but even the gluten free choices could be better. Should ideally be flour blends of rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch if you want to go for the best choice.

The particular book had a co-author who is a Nutritional Therapist. Yes I have been to one of those. Paid an awful lot of money for a consultation to someone who followed a course linked to selling products from that organisation’s website and I was shocked that I knew more about food than she did when it came down to the nuts and bolts. All I do is read tons as a firm believer in the food hospital concept as someone who has seen great health improvements by changing her diet and is on a quest to de-riddle myself of all health issues. I’m a firm believer that you are what you eat. I try to be sugar free for my waistline and my health generally. I am gluten free for health reasons, because wheat makes me sick and is quite handy really as my husband is a coeliac. Anyway I am sure there are some great Nutritional Therapists out there.

Okay so they don’t use the evils that are sugar and wheat but “instead they list franken food ingredients such as xylitol, agave syrup and soy spread. Agave perhaps less of a franken food but the stuff you will be able to buy is not the same supposed healthy agave, is fructose at the end of the day and terrible for your liver. They are not good for you if you are serious about healthy eating and read extensively about them, including the latest research. More health food mis-marketing.

If anyone does want to cook with xylitol it is essential they know it is deadly to dogs so do not give them any leftovers!

This book is a step in the right direction but the authors to be guilt free, need to realise a sweet tooth can be tamed, there is no need for many things to be so sweetened (particularly as so many eating gluten free/coeliacs are obese which brings me on to the need to reduce carbs too ideally) and I hope they remove the rubbishy substitutes out of the equation in their next book.

Let’s get some real healthy eating recipe books out there for the gluten free as if not slaving over a hot stove we won’t find great nutrition in ready products we can buy, which because they do not contain gluten or are flour based let alone the norms of convenience food, have already been heavily processed.”

If anyone comes across a truly healthy gluten free sugar free recipes source whether a dedicated website or cookbook, please let me know as I’d love to list it below as a goodie! I’d also really like to use it myself.

Christmas pasty that’s vegetarian and gluten free

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Christmas Pasty – vegetarian and gluten free

Gluten free vegetarian pasty

Gluten free vegetarian pasty

This recipe was made up as Andrew went along. A meandering invention that tasted so good when I tried a cheese free one, I made him recount what he did before he forgets. He kept adding things until it was moist enough and had enough flavour. I would feel free to replace items, add items and play around with it until it tastes good to you. If we’d had chestnuts they would have gone in too.

Andrew served them with garlic mash, broccoli and gravy but you could serve these with the Christmas Day/Thanksgiving dinner instead of the turkey. Andrew is freezing one (that has been baked already) to have this Christmas Day. Fingers crossed that works out. Fresh out the oven they are very yummy. Should last 3 days otherwise if you keep them in the fridge and warm before eating.

We recommend using pasty molds and cling film as gluten free pastry can break easily because it has no real stretch. Well that’s the technique Andrew has mastered and is happy with. Yes, he cooks and I share it on the internet!


1) Prepare your pastry.

  • Glutafin pastry mix (sadly discontinued) but you could use other options. We’re on a mission to find a good recipe for pastry now – let us know if you have one please.

2) Pre-cook vegetables.

  • Boiled handful of sprouts and 1 parsnip (until soft)
  • Microwaved 2cm thick slice of swede (2-3 mins)
  • In a large frying pan fried onion, large garlic clove, 2 sweet baby peppers (or half normal pepper) and handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms (until soft)

3) Then to the large frying pan, add the other precooked vegetables and remainder of the ingredients (except the cheese):

  • Handful Quorn chunks (best if you can defrost first and chop into small bits)
  • Two handfuls of fresh cranberries
  • 1 table spoon cranberry sauce
  • Generous pinch of vegetable bouillon powder
  • 2 tablespoons of engevita yeast
  • Shake of Rosemary and garlic seasoning
  • Shake of Marjoram
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Chopped fresh large tomato
  • Shake of lemon juice
  • Squirt of maple syrup
  • Squirt of tomato puree
  • Squirt of Ketchup
  • Squirt of Worcester sauce
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Blue veined cheese (optional)

4) Cook for a further 10 minutes or until cranberries soften. Allow to cool away from hot hob while you roll out pastry.

5) Find your pasty molds – Andrew used various sizes. Roll out pastry on cling film into shape slightly larger than the mold. Slide onto pastry mold complete with cling film. Wet outside of pastry where it will join together with a little water. Put filling onto one semi circle half. Choose one size to be the cheesey ones and crumble on a little blue cheese like Stilton. Push mold together – this squeezes the pastry together creating your pasty. Cut off excess pastry and peel off the cling film. Place gently onto a baking tray covered in baking parchment.

6) Brush top with milk or egg. Prick top once in centre.

7) Bake for 20 mins at 200 C. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Andrew after the event wearing flours in his hair!

Andrew after the event wearing flours in his hair!

Gluten free shelf at

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Hurray! I have just discovered that mysupermarket have a gluten free shelf. This is a great way to see what is available at various UK supermarkets that we may actually be able to eat. Would be even better if they had a way to order the list by newest products so you could easily see what was new. The site’s purpose is actually to help you find the best deal. Take a look at the gluten free shelf at Sainsburys which we reckon has the best free from aisle and then you can use the drop down top left to change store to see what the others have to offer. Clicking on a product shows you where it is sold from the list of participating supermarkets and also the prices it is sold for. Click on the nutrition tab to get an allergens list and list of ingredients.

I first came across when searching on Google for Amy’s meals as there are more yummy sounding options on the Amy’s website than what I have seen in local supermarkets. It’s a UK comparison website for food shopping. I find comparing prices really handy because free from ready meals are so rare we have to shop in Sainsburys, Asda, Waitrose and Tescos to get all the products we enjoy. No Morrison’s near us.

When I can’t face the trek to and around the supermarkets, which is often, I usually make two online orders. One from Sainsburys and one from Asda. The main reason we visit Waitrose is to buy their fabulous olive oils (they are actually surprisingly rubbish for vegetarian and/or gluten free) and we go to Tescos purely for their mushroom veggie burger which happens to be gluten free and delicious! Ironically some products are cheaper at Sainsburys – especially the more exotic weird diet type foods or there’s a special offer on there that Asda doesn’t have. I hate to miss out on a deal especially when my shopping bills are huge as it is.