Friday, 21 October 2016

Sweet and sour sauce: dairy & soya free

Dairy and soya free takeaway style sweet and sour sauce

I don't know about anyone else with a toddler with CMPA or food allergies themselves, but when I started excluding dairy and soya - I almost immediately really craved Chinese food. I used to make a lot of stir fries with a simple Soy and honey sauce, and have an incredibly soft spot for restaurant style Crispy chilli beef. However, soya in all it's forms was completely out of the window. I started experimenting with combinations of flavours and it took a while to get a combination that I was happy with, but this is it.

Sticky enough to resemble that gloopy takeaway sauce, but with a fiery kick of chilli and ginger it's perfect for a Friday night fakeaway. Harry and I love it with rice noodles - his favourite additions are baby corn, peas and carrots, I like to completely wipe out my veg trays and make a proper fridge-bottom dish. When I made it for the inlaws however, I did tone things down a bit and just used onions, peppers, carrot and beansprouts - and I was surprised that everyone loved it!

Obviously you can add whatever you like to this sauce, meat, veggies, noodles; be they egg, rice or vegetable - and go as heavy or light on the spices as you like. Which I think is the great thing about a fakeaway - you really get to personalise it to your tastes.

Sweet and sour sauce, takeaway style
Dairy, and soya free
Serves 4 (plus a toddler)

Thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped/ or 1 tsp chilli flakes
4-5 tbsp tomato sauce
4 tablespoons Date syrup
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
225g tin of pineapple chunks in juice (chop the pineapple up if you get rings and keep on one side for the stir fry, you just need the juice here)
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder

Mix the ginger, garlic and chilli together in a medium sized bowl
Add the ketchup, date syrup, and malt vinegar - have a quick taste to check that your flavours are balanced and add extras of anything you feel it needs
Add the 5 spice powder - I normally add half the teaspoon first and then a bit more as necessary
Add the pineapple juice - give it a good stir and taste again

I marinate my chicken if I'm using it in half the sauce, then add the rest while cooking once I've added the veggies. It really is delicious, and I make a little bowl, with only a tiny bit of garlic, and ginger for Harry who inhales it too!

I'm linking this up to Le Coin de Mel's Free From Friday's linky - if you're an allergy parent, or have food allergies yourself, be sure to pop over and see what everyone else has linked up (there's a gorgeous looking chocolate cake up already)

Why not Pin this recipe for later, using the image below:

Dairy and soya free takeaway style sweet and sour sauce

Monday, 17 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday: 17th October 2016

Again? So soon? How? Just how? It really does feel like I was tapping away at this just yesterday. And nobody mention Christmas. Just don't.

Autumn has most definitely made itself known around these parts - M even checked the heating was working the other day. It's not on yet, but we're primed and ready. The meal plan has swiftly responded those changes with soup already featuring.

Breakfasts generally feature nothing special at the moment. Some significant med changes mean I'm finding it takes much longer to get going in the mornings and so unless I'm organised enough to make overnight oats, Aldi's own take on shreddies is as fancy as it gets.

Lunches are unsurprisingly, given the turn in the weather, quite frequently soup based. I've got the second half of a batch roast tomato and garlic in the freezer. It was a wonderful way to use up the end of our lovely homegrown tomato harvest. I've just been sent a really super recipe book entitled I Love Soup which looks like it'll be keeping my Ikea 365 soup pan in business and doubtlessly featuring on here in the months to come.


Monday - Breakfast for dinner: Bacon medallions, scrambled eggs, baked beans, mushrooms and hash browns

Tuesday - Vegetable dhal and brown rice

Wednesday - Leftover dhal with homemade flatbreads

Thursday - Chicken kiev, chips and veggies

Friday - Courgetti Spaghetti

Saturday - Pizza night

Sunday - Parsnip pasta

No baking is planned - well, aside from a potential batch of Cherry and almond buns anyway!

Have a lovely week, and as always don't forget to have a look at what the other meal planners are up to.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Life, love and little things - September

I mentioned in my Meal Planning Monday post this week that I can't believe it's Autumn already, yet there's a distinct chill in the air, my trusty Saltwaters have been swapped for Converse and soup has been made for lunches. Add to this a batch of coughs and colds all around and it's undeniably time to dive in to scarves, sweaters and stews. 

Last month on the other hand was glorious - sunny days drifting into warm evenings, apples starting to tumble from our trees, sunhats, sandals and salads all around. 

These pictures all come from my Instagram where I regularly pop up little insights into our days, be they messy play, baking or simply coffee and lego... 

I've spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen this month, apple butter, variations on banana bread and some egg free oaty bars as well as preserving tomatoes and green beans from our garden. 

Harry and I have spent a lot of time in the garden, playing in his teepee, splashing in the paddling pool and thoroughly watering the veg patch - well, the bits he can reach! 

I've also started trying to pretty the house up a bit - we're on an inevitable road towards having to renovate and decorate our spare room. It's only a matter of time before we need to move Harry into a big boy bed, and we're facing a mammoth task involving replacing carpets, a window, building a cupboard, painting louvre doors (I loathe this with a passion) and stripping the paper before repainting. I think mammoth may be an understatement. To get me in the mood for home improvements I reorganised our much hated fireplace to try to disguise the loathed crazy paved facade. 

My crochet blanket I talked about here is proceeding, albeit slowly. The glorious sunshine did not encourage sitting with a blanket on your knees! I'm hoping to have it finished for Christmas - my target of a stripe a day may be halted by my plans for *whispers* Christmas crafting which I need to get started on fairly promptly. I'm about a third of the way through my blanket though so getting there. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday: 3rd October 2016

Goodness gracious, where does the time go? How exactly is it October? The chill in the air that descended yesterday has left me shivering, adding extra layers and getting the Autumn duvet out of the wardrobe.

Food-wise that does mean we ring the changes slightly - I gazed fondly at the brisket this morning, but resisted as it wasn't on special yet. But, as with each autumn the meal plan starts to alter with the cooler mornings comes porridge, the evenings bring comfort food - salads become steamed or mashed veggies and lunches become souper soups.

With that, on with the meal plan...

Breakfasts - it had to happen. It's time for porridge. Be it with chopped banana, nut butter stirred in, or drizzled with honey. Porridge is where it's at. I make it with almond milk so that Harry can steal it from me - and will use my original recipe for Baked oats probably with apple and cinnamon this week.

Lunches - I've got a batch of the base of tomato soup in the freezer that I've got out and will add veggie stock to in the morning.


Sunday - Chilli con carne, with rice, avocado and cheese

Monday - Leftovers with Baked potatoes

Tuesday - More leftovers, in wraps - bulked out with some rice, and veggies

Wednesday - Sweet potato and chickpea curry with rice

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Courgetti spaghetti

Saturday - Sausages, baked potatoes and beans

Sunday... who knows

I've got no baking planned this week, but you never know what will happen as the days progress.

That's our meal plan? Have you rung the changes with the onset of autumn? Don't forget to join up to the linky below to share your autumnal meal plan...

Friday, 16 September 2016

Imposter syndrome and me: The MAD Blog Awards

Imposter syndrome - all but the most confident of us get it, right? The feeling that everyone must be better than you. In blogging, that the event you've been invited to by The Soil Association, Sainsburys or Asda must really be for other bloggers and that you're just there to make up numbers. The feeling that you should turn down offers because "you probably want someone with a bigger readership" Where does all of this come from? Why do these words spring so easily from my lips?

Tonight I'm going to the MAD Blog awards, I'm not nominated but am there to make up the numbers - which is exactly what I keep telling people. And it is true, but why can't I just beam at people excitedly, tell them how grateful I am for the opportunity to celebrate others' success, and (as I was reminded half an hour ago) to network the s*** out of it?

I think what terrifies me the most is that I'll be there without my armour - the pushchair and Harry, or M. Those things I rely on, that enable me to be that bit more confident. They cement two of the key parts of my identity, as someone's Mum, someone's wife. But there's so much more to me than that, I'm a good blogger, especially when it's my writing that's the focus; my post about Breastfeeding is recommended by people from breastfeeding support groups all over the UK as well written, really useful and important, my dairy, egg and soya free fish pie recipe garners thank you emails regularly, and my broccoli pesto recipe gets pinned daily. And yet, I still looked longingly at the buggy just now and thought about how safe it makes me feel.

So this afternoon I'm going to forsake my daily dose of dry shampoo and a messy bun for a sleek blow-dry, my bare face for red lipstick, and my mummy uniform of skinny jeans, converse and a breton top for a beautiful skirt from Lindy Bop and a pair of gorgeous heels. And I'm going to celebrate others' success, beam at everyone I speak to, and pop these awards in my daily list of blessings to say thank you for.

If you're going and feeling a bit like me, don't. Have confidence in your abilities, and lets all shove that imposter syndrome to the side. Because like so much in life, if we don't let it in - it can't take hold.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Oaty banana cake: dairy free, egg free recipe

Oaty banana cake - not the world's snappiest title for a bake I'll admit. But sometimes you just have to work with what you're given. And this is one of those times. Much like my Blueberry and Banana Oaty bites these could be described as a cross between a cake and a flapjack. The prompt for making these was as unpoetic as the name - we got to the end of the week, unusually with a hand of overripe bananas languishing in the fruit bowl. I'm not sure what we'd done, but clearly it didn't involve eating bananas.

Initially I'd planned to make a banana flapjack, but between one thing and another this is what happened. And we really liked it - sturdy enough to withstand the rigours of a lunchbox, yet not too heavy that it felt like old fashioned health food. Spiked with sweet mixed spice, the combination of apricots and sultanas makes for a chewy treat. what I particularly like about these is that you could absolutely tailor them to your likes or what you've got in the cupboard.  The second time I made these I was a bit short on apricots so I made up the weight with a handful of dairy free chocolate chips I had in the cupboard.

Oaty banana cake
Dairy free, Egg free, vegan
Serves 16

50g Dairy free spread - I used Pure Sunflower, but Vitalite, or Flora Freedom would work just as well.
2 Tbsp Almond butter
3tbsp Date syrup (Maple syrup would work well too)
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1 apple grated (I used a cooking apple as I had some that we'd picked, but an eating apple would work as well)
250g porridge oats
100g sultanas
85g dried apricots, quartered
35g chia seeds
50g linseeds
1 tsp sweet mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C
Grease and line an 8 inch square brownie tin
In a pan or the microwave melt together the dairy free spread, almond butter and date syrup
Mix this with the mashed bananas, grated apple, and porridge oats. Beat well until blended
Add in the sultanas, apricots, chia, linseeds and sweet mixed spice
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes
Leave to cook and cut into 16 squares

Serve with tea for a grown up and milk for a toddler.

For the ingredients in italics you can swap and change any of these for things you have in, or like more. This isn't the sort of recipe you should go out and buy things for - use what you have in the cupboards on a Sunday and pop the pieces in your lunchbox as you go through the week.

Why not save this recipe on Pinterest to make later

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Apricot and Cherry banana bread: dairy free recipe

Making this Apricot and Cherry banana bread was a bit of a spur of the moment decision. M had commented yesterday that we had no cake, knowing that I'd baked a massive lemon drizzle traybake the day before (I hadn't eaten it all, it was for the birthday of one of ladies in my Bible study group). I felt that this should be remedied.  This had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I've had two overripe bananas looking hopefully at cake tins all week. However, trying to pair said bananas with the contents of our cupboards and fridge I had one of those dawning realisations that I had some of the ingredients for most of our favourite cakes, but all of the ingredients for none. Typical.

Necessity being the mother of invention and all that I cobbled together a somewhat experimental cake which turned out to be rather yummy. So I thought I'd blog it. Of course I had to take pictures which I was helped with by my 2 year old assistant.

Apricot and Cherry banana bread
Dairy free, soya free
Serves 16

400g overripe bananas - weighed in their skins (this was 3 largish bananas)
125g Flora Freedom spread (any Dairy free spread would do but this is what I had)
300g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
125g dried apricots, quartered (I do this with scissors as they tend to be a bit sticky)
125g glacé cherries, rinsed, drained and quartered

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C
Grease and line an 8inch square cake tin
Mash the bananas, beat in the butter (you can melt this first, but I don't)
Add the flour, sugar and baking powder and beat in until you get a thick batter
Beat in the eggs one by one
Stir in the apricots, then the glacé cherries

Pour the cake batter into the tin and level off the top
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes

Allow to cool then serve, sliced thickly (buttered if you want) with mugs of tea.

Why not use this picture to save this recipe for later on Pinterest.



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