Glazed, Sugar free Sticky Ribs!

One of my favourite side dishes to order from the Chinese takeaway is sticky, capital spare ribs. They’re oh so delicious but oh so bad for you! A standard recipe for them would ask for roughly a bucket of sugar and just the thought of eating them would make you put on around a stone! However, we all need a treat every now and again, and I’ve found a way to cut the sugar without losing out on flavour. This is my tried and tested recipe (my husband made me make them two nights in a row he loved them so much!). They take a bit of time to make but once you’ve tried them you’ll never have to reach for that takeaway menu again!

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Ingredients

900g pork spare ribs
2 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
90ml rice or wine vinegar
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp of ground ginger
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
grated zest of one lime
4 tbsp Xylitol
1/2 tsp of Chinese five spice powder

Method

Wash and dry the ribs and place them in a large pan. Cover them with cold water along with the malt vinegar. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer for around 20 minutes.
Whilst the ribs are simmering, put the rest of the ingredients into a small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer the mixture until it has reduced and thickened slightly.
Drain the water from the ribs and place them in a roasting dish. Pour over the thickened sauce and coat the ribs evenly.
Cover the roasting dish with foil and roast at 220 degrees celsius for about 30 minutes.
Once that time is up, take away the foil and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.

I like to serve these with sweet potato fries, homemade coleslaw and a big fresh salad. But most importantly, remember the napkins!!

Farmhouse Vegetable Soup

A hearty, nutritious soup is perfect for the bitter winter months and is wonderful for soothing sore throats and colds.

I picked this recipe up when I was working as a cook in a tourist farmhouse kitchen. This was their staple soup recipe and was always popular with the customers. It’s a very easy recipe and the amounts of the ingredients I have given are just a rule of thumb and can be varied to what you have in the larder! This recipe tastes great as a broth but I also like to blend it to create a thicker, fuller flavoured soup.

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 Ingredients

1 small swede
4 medium sized carrots
2 leeks
1 large onion
2 courgettes
2 pints of chicken stock
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp celery salt
butter for frying
salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

Chop up all of the vegetables into medium sized chunks and throw into a large pan. Fry gently in a little butter until just softened. Then pour in the chicken stock until it just covers the vegetables and add the mixed spice and celery salt. Cover and leave on a low heat for about 30 minutes to an hour, stirring every now and again.

Once all the vegetables are soft, taste and season with salt and pepper. As I said above you can either serve this straight away or blend it before you do so. I would recommend removing a little of the stock before you do this, just to make sure that once blended it is not too thin (you can always add the stock back in once blended). This soup is wonderful all year round but there’s something so cosy and comforting about a bowlful of soup when there’s a frost outside!

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Sugar Free Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix

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As is the same for the majority of the population, I’m feeling the need for a bit of a health kick after the indulgences of Christmas, so I have been attempting to cut sugar and processed food from my diet as much as possible! One of the culprits of ‘hidden sugar’ is the Old El Paso Fajita Seasoning mix. This mix has a rich smoky flavour, which is hard to find in many homemade fajita mix recipes, but I think I may have cracked the recipe! I have substituted sugar with xylitol, a natural sweetener, which is really good for your teeth and doesn’t raise your blood sugar so is perfect for diabetics!

So here it is, my sugar free version of the Old El Paso classic:

Ingredients

2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp xylitol
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried onion powder
1 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder

Method

Mix together the ingredients and store in an airtight jar. This recipe makes about 5 tablespoons of spice mix. I like to use 2 tablespoons when I’m frying chicken and vegetables for two people as I like it quite spicy, but you can use as much or as little as you like!

All you need to do is, fry strips of chicken with some sliced onions and peppers until cooked through, then add 2 tablespoons of spice mix and stir-fry. You can add a bit of water if the mix starts to stick to the pan! I like to serve this in flour tortillas with a few spoonfuls of guacamole, sour cream and salsa, with a sprinkle of mature cheddar thrown in! Unprocessed, sugar-free and seriously yummy!