Shop bought gluten free, dairy free biscuits are a bit of a waste of time and money, in my opinion. They are usually quite tasteless, explode into a cloud of crumbs when you bite into them, always overpriced and half the packet is usually broken before you get them off the shelves.
Last week, I took delivery of my first ‘free from’ cookbook. Until now, I have been working things out for myself, but I have struggled with baking, particularly bread and biscuits, so decided it was time to call in the professionals. www.lovelactosefreelife.co.uk is selling Pippa Kendrick’s The Intolerant Gourmet for only £12.99 (£20 in most bookstores) – so last week I took the plunge and bought a copy.
It is a beautiful book – gorgeous photography and page layout. Definitely at the gourmet end of cooking, but also has some good basic, entry level recipes for all sorts of essentials, including biscuits and bread. Take a look at the website and you will see what I mean. http://www.theintolerantgourmet.com/
I had been promising the kids some ‘cooking’ for ages and when the rain came yesterday afternoon, I decided to get the aprons and cookie cutters out and keep my word. Last year, Sophia received a fabulous kids baking set for Christmas. She is better equipped than me, and whenever I do any baking, I often borrow her mixing bowl and whisk. The cookie cutters that came with the set are great and a test flight was long overdue.
Dairy free ice cream is expensive. Delicious but so expensive. We have got through a lot of it in recent weeks and I have wondered how easy it would be to make my own. A few days ago, I read an article about freezing and blending bananas to make ice cream and today I decided to give it a go.
Here is the link. http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-creamy-ice-cream-w-93414
I was sceptical at first, but had some bananas on the turn and had the option of throwing them out ( the kids won’t eat them once the skins are speckled) or being brave and trying something new. I hate waste and love a challenge, so chopped them up, froze them and waited for the right moment.
Today was a bit rainy and I was running out of activities for the children, so decided today would be the day. I was amazed. It really does work. The recipe promises that all you need are some frozen banana pieces and a food processor. Too good to be true? The bananas melt quite quickly and watching them flying round the food processer and quickly turning into ‘ice cream’ was very exciting.
Even better was the smell when I took the lid off. It was such an intense banana aroma and the soft but icy, almost slushy texture was very inviting. In went the spoon and I was thrilled to discover it was perfect. Possibly a bit sweet for some, so I decided to blend some with a bit of the Swedish Glace vanilla dairy free ice cream we had in the freezer. A clever way to make the expensive stuff go a bit further and taste a bit different. Would recommend this one to anyone – dairy free or not.
As I have mentioned many times in my blog, I believe that one of the reasons we have so many food intolerances is because of accidental overconsumption of wheat thanks to the manufacturers and supermarkets adding cheap and unnecessary fillers to foods for so many years. Sausages are a perfect example of this. Many have such a low meat content and so many worrying additives that it is amazing, in my opinion, that they are deemed fit for human consumption. At the least they should carry a health warning.
Even before we had the problems with Zac, we always shopped carefully and always made a point of buying sausages with the highest meat content possible. We don’t eat them that often, once a week I guess, so I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a premium product. I would rather have no sausages than a poor quality one.
In recent times, we have noticed two new brands creeping into the ‘premium’ sausage section in the chillers. Debbie and Andrews and the Black Farmer. We have tried both and can’t recommend them highly enough – to anyone, not just intolerants. The meat content is over 90% and as you would expect they are naturally gluten and dairy free because junk cereal and milk protein have no place in a premium meat product. More…
Finding good quality dairy free chocolate is not easy. The supermarkets can be a let-down and (the ones I visit) never seem to have much in. Waitrose seems to be the only place I can buy Moo Free http://www.moofreechocolates.com/chocolate drops and these are a great favourite of ours. A lovely treat and great for use in baking.
Recently I found out about Love Lactose Free Life – a website, selling dairy free goodies. www.lovelactosefreelife.co.uk
This week I placed my first order and was very pleased with the results. I was able to find the full range of Moo Free chocolates, not just the drops but the new little chocolate bars too. I was also able to find two brands that I had heard of but never seen instore – Plamil http://www.plamilfoods.co.uk/ and Mulu http://www.muluchocolate.co.uk/. So purely in the name of research (ahem!) I decided to order a few bits.
Booja Booja http://www.boojabooja.com/ chocolates are also available, but they look a bit like a ‘grown up’ special occasion treat and so I decided just to stick to the ones I knew I could make use of and be sure that Zac would enjoy too.
I also noticed that I could buy cookbooks – The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick and a two of Grace Cheethams books. I had seen the Pippa Kendrick book in my local Waitrose a while ago and nearly bought it. It looked beautiful but at £20 I thought it was a bit of a hefty price tag. Love Lactose Free Life sells it for just £12.99 – so I ordered one of those too.
Zac is, understandably, a very fussy eater. He wasn’t always that way. When we were weaning him, he was a hungry, happy little boy who would eat anything. He had a lot of very dirty nappies but I just thought that was part of the transition! His sister had been similar, and both were thriving, so I didn’t think it meant anything.
After his swine flu, which he got for his first birthday, he finally got his appetite back – and he was ravenous. But everything seemed to make him sick. I was quick to spot that milk and milk containing foods were a problem and swiftly replaced those with an appropriate alternative, with dietitian advice. Next I spotted that wheat was an issue, so out went the shreddies for breakfast etc. Then I discovered that some non-wheat foods were aggravating him, so assumed it was the gluten. So that went out too. He was tested for Coeliac but that came back negative but we were advised to keep gluten free anyway.
Between the ages of one and two many foods were eliminated from his diet but he was still ‘not right’ and having far too many nappy explosions and was a very restless child. He would ‘yelp’ in his sleep and thrash about waking up several times every night. He always had a runny nose and had dry and itchy skin. We saw several GP’s, paediatricians and dietitians and ended up on a very strict dairy free, wheat free, gluten free diet.
We identified his triggers through keeping food diaries and elimination tests. You would think it would be easy enough to manage and for the most part it was. He was fine with the soya yoghurt, milk and gluten free pasta and bread. They were the first test and he was probably too young to remember anything else but he was very mistrusting of any new foods and he also rejected a lot of the foods he used to like.
Still reeling from my bread-making failure, I decided I owed it to the children to make them something edible. They did try my awful home made bread – I toasted it first, but it was still grim and Zac said he was finished after two bites. So I offered to make them some cookies instead. I knew I had a packet mix in my cupboard, so I was confident this little adventure in baking would be a success.
The shop bought ‘safe’ free from biscuits are all pretty dusty, tasteless and expensive. Zac appears to have gone off them too. So I am not buying them at the moment, which is why I picked up the packet mix last time I was in Sainsbury’s. Useful to have in the cupboard, just in case anyone is desperate for a biscuit – or something to do. These cookies are super quick, easy to make and won’t go stale. Unlike the shop bought biscuits, these usually get eaten within 24 hours of emerging from the oven.
The mix I used was Hale n Hearty.
We have made them before, but the children were not crazy about them. They were not all that chocolately (by my standards), so I decided to fix that by adding a whole packet of Moo Free chocolate drops. http://www.moofreechocolates.com/dairy-free-chocolate/products/dairy-free-milk-chocolate-drops.php