Gluten free, dairy free breakfasts. Option 12 – The Full English Reply

As it is Saturday, and we have time on our hands for a leisurely family breakfast, I decided to treat us all to a full English. When you think about it this is one of the easiest meals to make safe for a gluten and dairy intolerant person. For anyone who is not allergic to tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs you are halfway there already. Not everyone likes them for breakfast, but for some baked beans are a big part of the deal, so the Coeliacs out there probably just need to double check the ingredients in the sauce, before adding these too, as not all brands will be safe.

Most bacon should be safe, and there are some great gluten free, dairy free sausages readily available now. I have blogged about my findings in this area many times before. 1/ The Black Farmer 2/ More on Sausages 3/The Gluten Free Dairy Sausage

My husband and I love the Debbie & Andrews Harrogate 97% pork shoulder sausages.

They are more widely available, at the moment, than our other big favourite, The Black Farmer. Tesco have amazingly stopped stocking his sausages, but I sincerely hope they will bring them back, as Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, who is The Black Farmer, works so hard to promote good, ethical, safe meat products and should be applauded for his efforts.



The Reluctant Baker meets The Intolerant Gourmet 1

Just in case you hadn’t heard(haha) – it is snowing! I picked the children up from school early as I didn’t fancy a treacherous drive home later down some very icy, snowy country lanes. So here we are waiting for the snow to stop and trying to find things to do. As usual, my thoughts turned to food. I actually planned to get a delicious cassoulet ‘on’. But Sophia wanted to make biscuits. So we did that first.

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know I am a very reluctant baker. I love cooking ‘dinners’ but I am a bit rubbish at baking cakes. I don’t like eating them that much and can be a bit slapdash and messy. But when you have one child with allergies and another looking for jobs on a snowy day, you have little choice but to put away your fears and get out the aprons.

Since Zac’s problems began I have been muddling through experimenting with my own recipes for various meals etc, but not being a confident baker I felt the need for some tried and tested recipes from an expert. So I ordered myself a copy of the Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick. I had first seen it in Waitrose for £20 and chose not to buy it, but when I saw it for sale on for £12.99 I decided it was a bargain not to be missed.

It really is gourmet stuff and the recipes and photography are really beautiful. It also has lots of useful information about the replacement ingredients and lots of useful tips. Some of the recipes do have a lot of ingredients, and that often puts me off. I am a simple cook. Definitely not gourmet or greatly skilled. Mine is more simple home cooking, lots of flavour, minimal steps and little skill. But I needed a biscuit recipe and this book has one. It looks so simple so I decided to give it a go. I have tried it and blogged on it before, but this time I struggled with it even more than the first.


Rice noodles – a naturally DF, GF product 1

One of the most important things I have learned since we became a ‘free from’ family is that the ‘world food’ aisles of the supermarkets hold many hidden treasures. Not all foods on the Free From shelves are suitable for us, as too many have dairy. And not all foods elsewhere in store are unsuitable. There are a good number that are naturally gluten free and dairy free, and rice noodles are a great example of this. They are easy to find, not particularly expensive, easy to cook, versatile and delicious to eat. A perfect ‘free from’ food.

They are becoming easier to find too. Just this week I have seen Tesco and Asda have stocked their own in their chiller sections with the packs of prepared stir fry veg. Both supermarkets had deals on the noodles if you buy with the veg and a sauce. A rare bargain. When you shop DF and GF you are used to paying over the top for everything, so when you find something suitable that is discounted and with the ‘normal’ foods, you start feel that there is hope!


My Jubilee Treats – flapjacks, fairy cakes and ‘Elizabeth Sponge’ 4

There is a ‘street party’ in the playground of the children’s school on Thursday afternoon. The excellent PTA has arranged a fun afternoon of maypole dancing, ‘crown’ decorating competitions and most important of all a ‘tea party’. As ever, those words fill me with dread. Apparently, there are cakes and jelly and ice cream on the menu. So, as usual, I need to create something fun for Zac to take along, so he feels part of the celebration. Obviously, I cannot send him in with his ice cream, in this heat it wouldn’t make it as far as the car, but I can make him some cakes. I think.

His favourites still seem to be my rock cakes, which makes me happy, because they are so quick and easy to make. But in an attempt to get in the Jubilee mood, I feel I need to supply him with something even more English, pretty and suitable for a party. No doubt the other children will be eating amazing looking cupcakes, made by the army of skilled baker/mothers who live in the village.

I am not in that class and to be honest, am a bit bored by this new obsession with cupcakes. It is almost at a competitive level now and I know I cannot ever get excited enough to make the effort. I don’t even like to eat them. The swirly thick, creamy looking toppings turn my stomach and they are certain to do the same to Zac, quite literally.

So I decided to push against it and stick to what I know. I am pretty sure cupcakes are an American thing anyway, and I am fairly confident it is based on their measuring system of ‘cups’. When I was a little girl, sweet little cakes in the pretty cases were called ‘fairy cakes’ and were much smaller. In an age when obesity and greed is becoming an issue, perhaps we should return to baking our more traditional bitesize English teatime treats, starting with fairy cakes. I am sure the Queen would approve.

I have found some recipes, in my mother’s cooking notebook, the one she handwrote at cookery class back in the seventies. I plan to attack the fairy cakes tomorrow. I have found a recipe for a Victoria Sponge, also in the book. Obviously I have to make them all dairy free, gluten free and wheat free but even so – they look beautifully simple, which baking has to be to entice me to get my pinny on. The sponge has a regal enough name but perhaps, as this is ‘my’ recipe and I have created it for the Jubilee of our queen, it will be known as an Elizabeth sponge.

But as I am so nervous about baking and Zac loves cakes with ‘fruit’ I decided to start with a flapjack today. It has just come out of the oven and I am happy to say it was the easiest thing I have ever made. It took minutes and was relatively mess free. I am sure it is very nutritious and relatively wholesome. It certainly smells amazing and I can’t wait for the children to come home and try it. I hope they like it, but not too much, otherwise I will need to make a fresh batch for the party.

Here’s an interesting thing I have learned about homemade cakes – they never go stale, because they are never around long enough! I have about fifteen pounds worth of Asda’s own brand ‘free from’ cakes in my cupboard – they have been there weeks and are still not stale or even out of date! Yet whenever I make a cake, it is gone in less than 48 hours.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get organised enough to do this! I think it is saving me money too.

So the party is on Thursday. The flapjacks are made and now I just need to pluck up the courage to make the fairy cakes and Elizabeth sponge! Here is the recipe for the flapjack and some photos. I will post the fairy cakes and Elizabeth sponge tomorrow.

Flapjack recipe

200g Pure sunflower spread

1 dessert spoon ‘The Groovy Food Company’ organic virgin coconut oil

200g caster sugar

150g golden syrup

1 dessert spoon ‘The Groovy Food Company’ premium agave nectar (light and mild)

375g gluten free porridge oats

2 handfuls of sultanas and a small handful of chopped apricots

Heat oven to 180C. Lightly oil and line the base of a 20x30cm cake tin with baking parchment.

Melt the ‘Pure’ spread, sugar, coconut oil, syrup, agave nectar in a medium pan, over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats, sultanas and apricots. You could add chocolate chips – e.g. MooFree chocolate drops, if you prefer.

Spread the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Cut into even sized bars and leave until cold. Turn out of the tin and cut into slices.

I got the porridge oats in the free from section of Waitrose and the agave nectar from the free from section in Tesco. The coconut oil was among all other cooking oils in the ‘normal’ aisles.

I added the coconut oil purely for flavour and because it melts so well at a high temperature. I was also running a bit low on Pure spread and thought I would improvise. I added the agave nectar just because I bought some the other day and haven’t had the courage to use it yet. It is a low GI sugar substitute, totally organic and I keep reading about it so thought I should try it. It tastes a bit more like honey than syrup but, it works. So you could leave both out and just add a bit more butter and a bit more syrup and I am sure the end result would be the same.

Today’s adventures in baking – using coconut oil 2

It is baking outside, and it is baking time inside. The children asked me to make some more brownies and rock cakes today. I find it hard to say no to them, as knowing your children love your food is the nicest feeling. Also, I am happy they no longer want me to buy the horrid shop bought ‘free from’ cakes. Always so expensive and pretty grim.

As I have admitted many times before, I am not very good at baking and don’t even like eating cakes that much, so it is always a bit of a chore. Also, making a great tasting dairy free, wheat free, gluten free cake is quite a challenge.

Getting the texture right is an ongoing mission. Last week, I discovered that xanthan gum, seems to solve the problem of dusty rock cake crumbs but I am still struggling to get my chocolate brownies right. Several people have recommended corn oil and coconut oil to me. I had a quick look in Tesco yesterday and found some coconut oil and decided to give it a go. The one I found and used is made by The Groovy Food Company.

The smell is amazing. Very reminiscent of sun tan lotion, but in a good way. The texture is surprising, it is almost set and is much more like a paste or butter than an oil. It melts when you heat it and infuses the baking with a lovely taste, aroma and most important moist texture. It is very expensive. £6.99 a jar in Tesco. But a very little goes a long way and I am hopeful that this will last a long time.

It is just made from pure organic virgin coconut oil. It is GM free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. According to the label it won’t raise your cholesterol and no chemicals have been used to extract it. It is definitely worth a try as I am happy to say my brownies did turn out a lot more ‘gooey’ on the inside than last time, which was what I was hoping for. Result.

Perfect day for an ice cream Reply

dairy free glee !

So the summer finally came. At one point this morning, it was as if someone had just switched a light on. One minute it was dark and then a second later I was looking for my sunglasses. Anyway, as the day heated up, I decided I’d better stock up on ice cream. I knew the local ice cream van would turn up in our road, just as I serve the kids tea, so I wanted to be prepared.

I ran, well drove quickly, to Tesco to get another tub of Swedish glace –

The kids’ favourite is the Neapolitan, but they only had the Vanilla, so I bought it anyway. I love it and as I just recently had my own dairy intolerance confirmed, this is going to be my chosen ice cream from now on too.

Thankfully, I struck lucky at The Allergy Show on Friday and found the much loved waffle cones.

I just wish I had bought two boxes now. If this weather stays, I can see us finishing the first box before the week is over. They are dreadfully expensive and every time I have bought a box, almost half have been smashed to pieces, but it is still worth it. Zac was thrilled to be presented with his exciting looking ice cream, after he finished his wheat free, gluten free, dairy free Bob The Builder pasta shapes with home-made ‘safe’ Bolognese sauce.

Every parent has probably used the promise of an ice cream as an incentive to polish off their dinner. It works well for mine and although is probably not the right thing to do, when you have an intolerant child, you have to try everything just to be sure that they are getting the right foods in them. Sorry parenting gurus and textbook lovers, when you have a child with food intolerances, the text books go out of the window, along with all the other kids’ recipe books.

To make Zac’s ice cream cone even more exciting, I often decorate it with ‘sprinkles’ or Moo Free chocolate drops

Just recently I discovered mini marshmallows. I didn’t really think the children would like them, as they are not crazy about ‘sweeties’ and are a bit weird about texture. I have never liked the fluffy, pillowy consistency and never thought about trying them until recently. Sophia was presented with a chocolate ice cream decorated with marshmallows at a party recently and since then, they have been hooked.

As ever, I always approach any ‘new’ food or ingredient with extreme caution and have been pleasantly surprised that most I have found have been safe. But today, just as I was about to sprinkle some on from a new pack, I noticed that they had wheat flour as a major ingredient. So I have now moved these ones back to our ‘Sophia’ shelf and away from the ‘Zac’ shelf, so there is no confusion. Just another reminder, that you can never ever assume an ingredient is safe, even if it does look pink and fluffy – for some crazy reason the wheat or the dairy always creeps in. Keep reading the labels!!!