I am forever reading how porridge is such a great breakfast because of the health boosting, cholesterol lowering properties of oats etc but when you are living a gluten free, dairy free lifestyle you tend to think of a bowl of milky, sticky cereal as your worst nightmare.
However since I became aware of gluten free oats, and more familiar with the various dairy free milks, I decided it was time to face my fears and see if this could be made palatable, appealing and safe for my intolerant child. Certainly porridge was a favourite when I was weaning him, but in my experience most babies love all foods at that age, it is only once they get older, discover the word ‘no’, and in our case are given the cast iron excuse ‘but it might give me a tummy ache’ that you find yourselves getting less and less adventurous with food.
So it is a while since porridge has been on the menu, but as I am on this quest to find multiple safe breakfast options, I have to explore ‘oats’. Thankfully, the porridge making method was explained on the back of the packet. I got my gluten free oats from Waitrose, but I have also bought them from Sainsbury’s in the past – always in the free from sections and clearly marked – gluten free.
Whilst digging out my Doves Farm self-raising flour, I came across a bag of Doves Farm White bread flour blend sitting at the back of the cupboard. I bought it a while ago when I had my first attempt at making gluten free bread in a machine. It was disastrous and I sold the bread machine!
But I still get irritated by the very expensive, crumbly bread I spend about £10 a week on. So I decided I should try and make it again, this time the traditional way and see if I can make bread that is edible and suitable for breakfast.
I used the recipe on the back of the Doves Farm packaging. Just for once I had all the ingredients, plenty of time on my hands and no excuses not to do it!
Here is the recipe.
450g/16oz Doves Farm white bread flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp quick yeast
2 tbsp sugar
325ml/11fl oz warm milk – I used Kara dairy free
1 tsp vinegar
6 tbsp oil
I had a quick flick through my Annabel Karmel book today, to see if there are simple recipes I could adapt. She is the queen of tasty and attractive meals for children and I know there is plenty I still have to learn. I noted a recipe for banana muffins in Feeding your Baby and Toddler and this is my version of that.
60g (2oz) of bran flakes – but I didn’t have any gluten free ones, so used gluten free porridge oats instead.
300ml milk – I used Kara Dairy Free
125g (4oz) wholemeal flour – I only had Doves Farm gluten free self-raising flour, so I used it
½ tsp of salt
1 tbsp baking powder – I used a Doves Farm gluten free baking powder
60g (2oz) butter – I used Pure Dairy Free sunflower spread
60g (2oz) caster sugar
1 egg – we are ok with eggs, but if you are not, I believe there is an egg replacer you can get in health food shops
90g raisins – I used sultanas and a handful of chopped apricots
I also added a ‘squirt’ of agave syrup – just to be sure it was sweet enough. I also added half a teaspoon of xanthan gum, as it improves crumb quality.
Since we started on our gluten free, dairy free journey I have really enjoyed finding alternative breakfasts for my children. I have always been wary of them eating too many junk breakfast cereals and have seen this challenge as something very positive. They are always very hungry in the mornings and breakfast tends to be their best meal – so it is my best opportunity for getting them to try new things too! I don’t know if it is because they are too tired to mess about or because they are just so hungry after a busy night of ‘growing’ or in Zac’s case, getting up and down several times.
Most mornings we don’t have much time for flipping pancakes or having a full English so it is not unusual for Zac to request a bit of toast, some fruit and a yoghurt. All good and nutritious and mercifully quick to get organised so I have no problem with that. To introduce a bit of variety, I recently tried him on the Warburtons gluten free, dairy free fruit loaf and this has become a firm ‘toast’ favourite – he calls it raisin toast. He enjoys it with a scrape of Pure Dairy Free spread and likes to dip it in his yoghurt (any of the fruity Alpro soya range).
Today I decided to try a new ‘side order’ to go with his toast and make a smoothie. He only ever drinks water so I thought it might make a nice change. The only problem is that he is nervous of anything that looks too milky – understandably, so I thought adding some favourite fruits might give it a less scary look for Zac and make it smell yummy enough to taste. He loves bananas and they tend to be the best fruit to blend. He also loves peaches, I had some in the fridge so decided I would mix it in to see if they go well together. I also invited him to participate so he could see what went into it and not be afraid.
Before I was brave enough to make my own gluten free, dairy free pancakes, I gave a packet mix a try. They were good, just a bit thick and very ‘grainy’ tasting. I think the children were slightly put off by the bits. After that I decided it was time to be brave and try and make my own. I found a crepe style pancake recipe on the Doves Farm website and have never looked back. Over time I have started to feel confident with this recipe – but I did once have a bit of a hiccup. I used self-raising flour instead of plain and accidentally discovered how to make Scotch pancakes or American style pancakes!
The batter was much thicker than normal and it just sat in the frying pan rather than travelling around. I could tell it was cooking because little bubbles started to appear and I could actually see through the tiny pin prick sized holes. Thanks to the self-raising flour they did rise and did actually look like little tiny cakes in a pan and I guess that is how they got their name.
I have always preferred (what I call) scotch pancakes to any other kind and I used to love the ones that had sultanas in and were flavoured with syrup. So today I decided to see if I could recreate those and develop GF DF breakfast option 2.
So here we go. The first chapter of the Feeding My Intolerant child book/guide. I decided to start with breakfasts, because I don’t know about you but the first thought that pops in to my head when I wake up is – what am I going to eat today? It seems to be the first thing my children think of too, as their first words to me each day tend to be ‘I’m hungry’.
When you are told by the doctor and dietician that your little one needs to go on a gluten free and dairy free diet, you instantly wonder what on earth they can eat. It doesn’t seem to leave much. One of the most difficult meals to deal with, in my opinion, is breakfast. For many of us breakfast is usually some kind of wheat or gluten based cereal or grain served or made with dairy – e.g. any breakfast cereal and milk, porridge, even toast.
Perhaps this is part of the problem. Maybe for too long we have all over eaten wheat and dairy based breakfasts and should have had more variety in our diets. Perhaps this is actually a blessing in disguise and natures way of prompting me to make healthier more varied breakfasts. My ‘intolerant child’ has no choice but to try different breakfast foods now and it turns out that it is not as daunting as you may think. I have found it quite a tasty and interesting challenge.