I’m not brilliant at it. I am not conventional either. I have a stack of cookery books and I don’t want to think about what I’ve spent on food magazines over the years, especially as I don’t think I have ever followed a single recipe to the letter.
When I want to or need to cook, I usually start from a different place to most conventional cooks – I think. I rarely look at a book first, select a recipe and then buy the ingredients. I usually start in the fridge, look at what needs using up, think about what I can make and then check the books to see if there’s a recipe that matches and solves my problem.
Pancakes are popular in this house and we eat them regularly – usually at weekends. When I first started this blog I decided to try and find a gluten free and dairy free recipe for Zac so he wouldn’t miss out on Shrove Tuesday – and would have more options for breakfast. I found one for crepe style pancakes and one for Scotch pancakes or American style pancakes. Sophia has always loved both but it was only very recently that we managed to get Zac to try them and now he loves them too.
So it was no great surprise that they asked me to make them pancakes for breakfast today. They announced they would like ‘flipping’ pancakes, so I made the crepe style. Zac has his with golden syrup and sometimes his dairy free chocolate spread. It is really delicious – a hazelnut spread, mixed with cocoa and far too much sugar and oil, but he only has it once in a while.
Recently they had a Garden Party at school and pre-school and all the little people had an afternoon ‘tea’ together. The ladies at pre-school, as always kindly bought in ‘something special’ for Zac to eat whilst all the others tucked into homemade cupcakes etc. When I picked Zac up that day, he was raving on about how Allison gave him ‘some special Rocky Roads’. He wanted me to buy some more – but I wasn’t sure where they had come from. Don’t recall seeing them in the supermarkets I visit. So I asked Allison, and she said it was Morrisons.
I have to confess, I rarely go to Morrisons, there isn’t one that close, but my mother in law often does and has told me she has found a good selection of gluten free, dairy free foods in her local store, and the prices were more reasonable than Sainsbury’s or Tesco. So last Friday, I was in Letchworth meeting a friend and as it happens we met in a hotel beside Morrisons! As soon as we finished, I dashed in and sure enough – there they were. There was a very good amount of shelf space dedicated to Free From and a lot of it was their own brand, which is very striking.
Fruit is so expensive these days and my children eat a lot of it, so I hate to see any go to waste. But from time to time we do get to the point where we have some that needs using up, so I have decided to look at ways to keep it a bit longer. I know some fruits freeze very well. I have some rhubarb in my freezer and there is definitely a pot of chopped banana waiting to be made into ice cream any day now. But on a cold day, you want something warm and comforting – that is still a good breakfast.
So the other day, I decided to chop up my last tired looking apples and grapes and throw them in a pan with a bit of banana and some dried fruits to see what happened. I did have a go at this the other week, when I made my porridge and the end result was a great porridge topping. What I made this time was even better and actually could double up as a pie or sweet pancake filling.
So after a few experiments with gluten free oat based breakfasts, it is clear that Zac is not a fan. I noticed he picked out and ate all the dried fruit from the granola and muesli, and left the rest. So as he clearly likes the dried fruit, I thought I would try him on a new one – cranberries.
I know they contain anti-oxidants and some dietary fibre, so although dried fruits are mostly sugar, there are some benefits to giving them a try – not to mention adding some much needed variety and colour to his diet.
I picked up a pack in the supermarket today and then spent the rest of the afternoon deciding how to turn them into a decent breakfast. Then I noticed that there was a recipe on the side of the pack and decide to have a crack at it.
The recipe is actually for chocolate and cranberry muffins. As I am trying to promote healthy eating with Zac, and I don’t really feel right giving him chocolate for breakfast, I decide to swap it for some dried apricots. So even though it is, still in my eyes, ‘cake for breakfast’, at least it contains some fruit!
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.