Chef Jordan Bourke’s latest project is definitely a family affair, thanks to input from his sister. “Jessica is a (Dublin-based) nutritional therapist and is always getting asked by patients for recipes that don’t include certain ingredients—most often alternatives for processed cane sugar, wheat, or dairy,” says Bourke, an award-winning food writer who has made a name for himself in the UK for his scrumptious-but-healthy cuisine. “As a chef I was aware that a lot of ‘free from’ recipes out there were in some way lacking, so it seemed like the perfect solution—to come together with our respective experience and create a cookbook of delicious recipes that make use of alternative ingredients.”
The result, The Guilt-Free Gourmet: Indulgent Recipes Without Wheat, Dairy or Cane Sugar, offers delectable dishes that ditch these three waistline-expanding and, for many, allergy-inducing ingredients in favor of healthier swaps (think spelt and wheat-free flours, coconut palm sugar and agave, and rice, nut, and soy milks). “We’ve always said to our clients and readers that food, no matter what’s in it, should never be about guilt. But at the same time, so many of them were coming to us feeling guilty about what they were eating, hence the name of the book,” Bourke adds. “When we offered recipes with alternatives to the ingredients they had difficulty with, it gave them a new lease on life in the kitchen, with lots of new and exciting ideas for them to cook with.”
Better Nutrition's Q&A with Chef Jordan Bourke
bn: What’s a great comfort-food recipe for beginners looking to cook up healthier winter dishes between the often carb-heavy ones?
jb: When the winter chill sets in, it can be very difficult to choose anything other than cheese-laden carbs, and while there is nothing wrong with them—I love them myself!—it's nice to have some other, less heavy options. Our favorite is the Red Pepper and Smoked Paprika Soup, which is comfort in itself. The smell is so enticing, and the soup itself is nourishing, warming, and filling—all the things you need and want from a meal on a cold winter’s day. It is a great batch cook option, too. I make up a big vat and freeze portions to defrost the night before I need it.
bn: You call cavolo nero, or Tuscan kale, a “nutrient powerhouse.” What else makes your Sweet Potato, Cavolo Nero & Plum Tomato Frittata guilt-free?
jb: A lot of clients were asking us for dairy-free and wheat-free recipes for tarts and quiche, (and) something that was full of vegetables and protein. This frittata was the answer. Absolutely packed with colorful and filling vegetables, with eggs for protein, and an almost addictive basil oil to drizzle over, it is just about perfect, and great for taking as a packed lunch the day after you make it.
bn: Which healthy swaps go into your Nectarine Frangipane Tart?
jb: For a good short-crust pastry, we find spelt flour works very well. It has a subtle, nutty undertone to it, and it’s lower in gluten than wheat flour, which some people find easier to digest. For the filling, we used coconut oil instead of butter, as a lot of my sister’s clients were intolerant to dairy, and it also gives a lovely flavor to the tart. We also used pecans, cashews, and almonds to create the frangipane, which adds a really wonderful depth of flavor.
bn: Why do you sweeten this tart, and other desserts, with xylitol?
jb: When you are looking for an alternative to white cane sugar, we found xylitol worked well in baking recipes. Despite the name, it is not an artificial sweetener. It is actually derived from tree bark and the body recognizes it as natural as it is present in all plant cells and it does not impact blood sugar levels in the way sugar cane does. However, we always advise eating in moderation, even when using alternatives to cane sugar.
bn: How do you make a guilt-free porridge that powers your mornings?
jb: A lot of clients were asking us for an alternative to porridge, which they had been making with milk or cream and brown sugar. They loved the warmth of a hot bowl of porridge in the morning, but they wanted something a bit lighter, and in many cases, dairy-free. In Ireland, porridge is a staple part of our diet, so we played around with a few different recipes and found plant-based milks worked really well. A little dried or fresh fruit provides more than enough sweetness, or a little maple syrup, if desired. Nuts and seeds add lovely flavor and texture as well as protein, and keep you fuller for longer. Goji berries, maca powder, and lucuma powder can also make your porridge a vessel for superfoods.