Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Dairy free treats - and where to find them

Sweets and treats can seem thin on the ground when you're dairy and soya free.

Chocolate - if you haven't discovered Booja Booja truffles yet - please, be my guest. They are amazing! Wildly expensive, but even for a chocoholic like me 1 or 2 is enough. They're amazing, nutty and really hugely chocolatey. My absolute favourite. M is not keen on remortgaging the house so that I can have them on tap so I'm holding out for Christmas and birthday!
  • Biscuits - not unless they're homemade as a rule
  • Cake - see above
  • Crisps - some contain milk - I think it's just to trip me up as I can't imagine why else they'd feel the need!

A lovely lady at our local sling group told me about Oreos, so early on I had those up my sleeve (literally at times), and Mark found me Ritter marzipan sport (which is a may contain that we can tolerate).

Since November I've (obvioulsy) ensured that all our cakes and bakes are dairy and soya free. I use Vitalite or Trex in place of butter and both work nicely taste wise. Vitalite (and Pure spread) do seem to make cakes - especially fruit cake - cook more quickly though.

Our favourite home-made bakes are:

Porridge fingers (a sort of cakey flapjack) for big people
Cherry and almond buns
Chocolate and chilli, olive oil cake
Egg free, vegan meringues
Almond macaroons
Tsoureki - spiced, fruited bread

Sometimes though even I don't want to bake - and that's where this post from PETA (politics aside please, this is about dairy free treats) on accidentally vegan snacks really came up trumps. Now obviously it's essential that you read the labels, every time and not all will be soya free - but but but... dairy free treats!

My favourites from the list are:

Elizabeth Shaw dark chocolate mint crisps
Bourbon biscuits (read the packet as not all are. Generally the cheaper they are the more likely they're dairy free)
Oreos - also known as my happy place
Nairn's Oatcakes

Have you found any amazing dairy free treats? What are your favourites?

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Bread, Cows milk protein allergy and food labelling

Finding dairy and soya free bread is hard work - made all the harder when brands change recipes with no publicity. This post is a plea to all allergy parents to check the labels, even of things you've been buying for a long time - every time to make sure the allergy information is the same. I've included a bread recipe at the end as that way you know exactly what's in it - it's breadmaker friendly for ease/ laziness (if you're me!)

Useless fact of the day - I'm a glasses wearer -  only for close up things, so blogging, reading, sewing, knitting - that kind of thing. Oh and now shopping. One of the things I've come to realise about having a baby with CMPA is that you have to read the blooming labels. All of them. Every time.

Case in point - Aldi bread. We love Aldi in this family, their Super 6 fruit and veg form the basis of our meal plans. As does the special offers they run on meat (M is particularly happy on the weeks they include bacon). As a rule we don't buy much that has labels per se - we eat a lot of fruit and veg, rice, quinoa, coucous, lentils etc and of course fish and meat. We do have pasta but normally that's fine ingredient wise - although I never buy fresh pasta.

Bread products on the other hand are a minefield. Most of the time I make my own bread. I think I'm the only person still using their breadmaker on a regular basis. Lately though I'm having a break from it as I was eating waaay too much and also I've been really run down of late (that's a post in itself). Sometimes though it's nice to be able to pick up a loaf, fling it in the trolley and get on with the shop safe in the knowledge that my carb loving bubba can have his toast and fruit spread. But. Of course there's a but. A massive one. BUT... then Aldi changed the recipe for their breads. No fanfare, no publicity - just walloped soya flour in them. I get it, wheat is expensive - soya flour is cheap. There goes all our bread. Of course it's labelled properly, but I didn't think to check as I 'knew' it was dairy and soya free.

So a quick plea to stores and brands - if you change your recipe to include known allergens - please, please please can you pop something on the packaging or something for the shelf edge. Allergy parents are meticulous at checking, but sometimes - just sometimes we think we're safe in the knowledge that something is safe for our babies and suddenly it's not.

Alternatives I've found thus far are: 

Hovis seed sensations
Sainsburys Basics crumpets
Sainsburys white pitta bread (wholemeal has soya flour)
Sainsburys Morning rolls (other breads in storedo contain dairy and soya so these are a may contain)
Sainsburys white wraps
Jacksons bloomer loaves
Waitrose essentials white loaf
Waitrose hot cross buns (how did I not know this at Easter?!)
Waitrose rosemary foccacia (pack of 4 mini breads)
Morrisons garlic flatbread

Tesco finest seeded loaf
Tesco wheatfield wholemeal batch
Tesco plain tortilla wraps
Iceland burger and hotdog buns
New York bakery bagels (Harry loves the mini ones) 

Obviously please check these if you're sensitive to 'may contains' and for any recipe changes.

Here's our incredibly simple 50/50 wholewheat bread recipe that I do in the breadmaker...

50/50 Wholewheat bread - dairy free, soya free, breadmaker friendly

200g wholewheat flour
200g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 teaspoon/ 5g fast acting yeast
1 tsp sugar
Half a teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (or a big glug) olive oil (plus extra to oil the worktop)
280ml warmish water

As I said, I use the breadmaker and pop it on a Sandwich loaf cycle - leave it be and go about my day, but if you were to do it by hand it's super simple just a bit more input from you.

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil and water together until you get a dough.
Knead on an oiled surface for 10 minutes
Lightly oil a mixing bowl, pop your ball of dough inside. Cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm for an hour to rise
Tip the dough out onto an oiled surface again
Knead for another 10 minutes
Shape into a loaf shape - be that a round cottage loaf, or pop into a loaf tin - if using a tin, flour it. If cooking free form, then dust your baking sheet with polenta or flour
Leave to rise somewhere warm for another hour
Bake at 180 for 30 minutes or until the top is nice and golden and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it.
Resist the urge to eat warm, slathered in almond butter and banana. Just me then? OK...

Huge thanks to the mums and dads in the Cows Milk Protein Allergy support group on Facebook for helping me track down a comprehensive list of alternative bread products. Especially Christine Kelly who was fabulous!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Chocolate ice cream - dairy free, egg free, vegan

Things with us are going OK - we're on top of the allergies (for now *touch wood*) and naturally, putting Harry first means that aside from the odd longing filled thought of Galaxy bars, cheese, and a decent cup of tea - being dairy free is fine. But I miss treats, oh how I miss treats. Ice cream was mine and M's thing. We knew it was Friday as we'd sit down with a couple of scoops of whatever was on offer. And I loved it. Since going dairy free I've not really missed ice cream so much, but I do miss our ritual. And no, fruit salad is not the flipping same.

A month or so ago Lakeland invited me to their Taste of Summer event, and as part of it were demonstrating dairy free ice creams. Feeling wildly inspired, and with a mini ice cream maker as a gift I had a bash at some dairy free, chocolate ice cream. Super easy, incredibly tasty - and much, much cheaper than what's on offer at the supermarket

Dairy free chocolate ice cream - serves 4, or possibly 1 mama who hasn't had a decent pudding since November. Ahem. Not all at once though.

1 tin coconut milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
75ml maple syrup (you could use honey, but then it wouldn't be vegan)

Chill the base of your ice cream maker - I used the mini ice cream maker from Lakeland - which for this quanity works well.
Mix up the coconut milk, cocoa, vanilla and maple syrup then pour into the base of the ice cream maker
Pop the lid on and set it to churn - I left it for about 25 minutes, by which time the base was starting to defrost. The ice cream was lovely and smooth and a bit like a Macdonalds milkshake thickness wise. As it wasn't getting much thicker, I popped it into the freezer and left it for another half hour - after which - perfect ice cream.

This was amazing - a full on chocolate flavour, not too sweet, and the bounty bar-ness of the coconut milk was just there in the background, not too overpowering.

I've had to restrain myself from making it again, but I have itchy fingers and want to add peanut butter this time!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Dairy free cheesey polenta chips - a baby led weaning recipe

I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago over coffee, babies playing happily (well stealing each other's toys and then instantly wanting wheatever the other one had) at our feet. I felt a bit like I was at the confessional when I said that sometimes I missed Harry being purely breastfed - pre weaning days. It was just so easy. Now, sometimes I find myself scratching my head at about 11am, hopeful that inspiration will strike. A lifetime of toast and marmite being my default position when I can't think of what to have for a meal has not stood me in good stead! Thank goodness for baby led weaning and houmous really.

One of the things Harry really likes for his meals is that he's in control. Hence doing baby led weaning really. He likes to hold what he's eating - irrespective of how impractical that may be! These polenta chips were born out of a need for something different - I do find we eat a lot of pasta - and wanted a different carbohydrate.

I find for this that non-stick foil is necessary - our roasters aren't great, most are elderly and have been donated to us - and the non-stick Bacofoil works well to ensure that the chips come off whole. You may have better pans than I do, but if not, give the foil a try. 

Polenta chips

100g polenta/ cornmeal
500ml low salt, dairy and soya free veg stock (I use Marigold bouillon) - or just water
25g Violife cheese, finely chopped
1/2 garlic clove grated
1/2 tsp oregano

Pop the cornmeal in a saucepan and add the stock/water. Stir, stir stir so it doesn't go lumpy.
Bring to the boil over a low-medium heat and continue to stir as you add in the chopped cheese, garlic and oregano
Continue to stir, the mixture will thicken up until it's like porridge - once it's boiling, cook for about 4-5 minutes
Pour onto a plate/ wide bowl and leave to cool and set. You don't want it too thick, so use a plate that's big enough for it to set a couple of centimetres or so deep.
Once it's set (I popped mine in the fridge for a couple of hours) cut it into chip shapes
Line a roaster or baking sheet with foil, and lay the chips on it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees - and cook the chips for about 10 minutes - then turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes or until crispy and browned

Remove from the oven and allow to cool - I found this easily made 5 portions for a hungry baby.

I served them as a baby polenta bravas with a portion of tomato and butternut squash pasta sauce that I'd frozen. Harry loved them, and M was quite partial too!

Michelle at Utterly scrummy has some lovely courgette batons that would be lovely as another baby led weaning food - her recipe isn't suitable for those of us who are CMPA and egg free, but looks fab, and we could omit the parmesan, and use Oatly cream as your sticky for the breadcrumbs. Oh and check that your bread is dairy and soya free. I'll have a go at them and post and link up with Michelle's recipe in the next few days.

Please excuse shocking photo - evidently I didn't get the camera out!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Meal Planning Monday

You may (or may not) have noticed that I gave myself a week off last week - M was in Le Mans, Harry and I went to visit my sister in Lincolnshire and catching up with the mountains of washing, and a family of coldified beings just wiped us all out for a few days.

This week is business as usual - we popped to Aldi in the middle of a downpour yesterday and stocked up on lots of fruit and veggies for the week ahead.

Breakfasts - overnight oats for me, with apple and banana. Or melon. Harry's been having porridge and crumpets as well as the mandatory banana

Lunches - I've found what looks to be a really nice Slimming World recipe for a Spring vegetable orzo 'risotto' I'm going to switch out the asparagus for some finely chopped brocolli, and am obviously leaving out the parmesan (although I have heard intriguing things about something called nutritional yeast?) I thought it'd make for some lovely fresh lunches this week. I've also got some Basics smoked salmon and tinned tuna for some salads at the end of the week.

Suppers -

Monday: Roast chicken, roast potatoes and veggies

Tuesday: Leftover roast chicken, baked potatoes and veggies

Wednesday: Chicken and mushroom risotto

Thursday: Tomato pasta

Friday: Sausages, baked potatoes and veggies

Next weekend is fairly up in the air as we're spending some time with M's parents.

Be sure to join in the linky over at At home with Mrs M

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Dairy free & egg free hake Fish Fingers

I've got this far with the weaning process largely without resorting to convenience food. To be honest it's less of a choice and more of a case that most pre made food items seem to have a wealth of dairy in them. I thought I'd have a go at some home-made fish fingers - working on the basis that there's no need for the coating to have dairy in them and that there must be a way of finding a non egg based way of getting everything to stick together. I tell you, I may not be working at the moment, but my brain hasn't stopped!

 I've said to bone and skin the fish, but that makes you a bit nervous, you can always ask the person on the fish counter to do that for you.

Cornish hake fish fingers - dairy free, egg free

300g Cornish hake (Coley would work well too), skinned, boned and chopped into baby hand sized chunks
100ml of Oatly cream
50g polenta/ cornmeal
50g plain flour
Vegetable oil

Pour the Oatly cream into a dish
In another dish mix the polenta and flour
Cut your hake into chunks - and soak it briefly in the Oatly cream - we're talking a couple of minutes
then roll each chunk of fish in the polenta/ flour mix so that it's well coated
Heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan and when it's hot, in small batches fry the fish until it's brown on both sides. I find it takes a two lots of a couple of minutes on both sides

As always you can freeze these - although I do find the coating goes less crispy when you reheat. You could fry them off, but I tend to ping them just for ease. I find that 2 is enough for Harry, and this made 14.

We served these as a nice light lunch - I had them with a spinach salad, Harry had them with some strips of pepper, cucumber sticks and chopped cherry tomatoes.

Photos are missing today because we ate them and I forgot! I'll add them when we have the portion I've frozen.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Switching the Fish with Sainsburys - a dairy free Cornish hake fish pie

Dairy free Cornish hake fish pie, baby led weaning

I don't know about you, but I get stuck in a rut with buying fish. I tend to stick to the same types for the same dishes: cod, haddock, mackerel, sardines and salmon. As far as Harry's concerned I first tried him with haddock, and then moved on to salmon - but haven't been more adventurous thus far. Well, until now. Sainsburys contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in switching the fish I use. Of course my thoughts turned to Harry. 

Apparently 80% of fish sales in the UK are made up of salmon, tuna, haddock, cod or prawns. So to inspire the nation to enjoy a wider variety of fish, between the 10th - 23rd June if you ask for one of those at the fish counter you will be offered a portion of one of four alternative fish for free! The alternative fish are Sea bass, coley, hake or loch trout. According to my cousin Mark (the newly appointed fish guru for the Pantry - he of Leleu and Morris) coley and hake have the stronger sea fish flavour and go well in fish pies or fishcakes. Sea Bass is more delicate - so is one to fry off and serve as it is - perhaps with a fresh green salad? Loch trout is a bit more earthy. I chose hake after a quick chat with him. 

Cornish hake fish pie, dairy free, baby led weaning
I thought I'd make Harry fish pie to try - he likes food that's wetter, as he seems to find it easier to chew, this meant working out if a roux would work using almond milk or Oatly cream - which fortunately it did. As you can see from the picture, the fish pie was a definite success. He had it for supper tonight, and I've frozen the leftovers in silicone cupcake cases so that we can just get one out of an afternoon and warm it through.

Now I know a fish pie is a fish pie is a fish pie - it's one of those things that the internet is awash with - but this one is specifically dairy free and has a slightly sweet flavour from the Oatly and the nutmeg which appeals to a baby's taste buds. Well, it certainly appealed to Harry's.

Dairy free Cornish hake fish pie, baby led weaning

Dairy free, Cornish hake fish pie

300g Cornish hake - boned and skined
250ml Oatly cream
1/4 cup frozen sweetcorn (or half and half peas and sweetcorn)
1 carrot finely diced
1 small red onion finely diced
2 handfuls fresh spinach, stalks removed and finely shredded
1 handful flat leaf parsley finely chopped
500g potato
Vitalite (or similar dairy free spread)
Plain flour

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
Peel, chop and cook the poatoes - then make mash, using Vitalite
In a saucepan poach the hake in about 100ml of the Oatly cream and 100ml of water
Add the carrot, sweetcorn (& peas if using). Simmer for about 10 minutes or untilthe fish is cooked through. I find if you give the pan a good stir a few times whilst it's cooking the fish breaks down into nice small flakes
Once this is cook, pop in a separate bowl while you use this pan to make a roux
Melt a dessert spoon of Vitalite, with the same amount of flour - mix over a low heat until it starts to sizzle - then add the rest of the Oatly cream.
Take off the heat and use the warmth of the pan to cook out the flour, stirring all the while to prevent lumps.
Add the fish and vegetables back in and give a good stir before adding a small grating of nutmeg and pepper.
Put the fish mixture in an ovenproof dish, top with the mashed potato and bake for 20 minutes until the top is crispy

I let this cool for about half an hour before serving Harry some up as we're still not keen on hot food as yet. He had this by itself - tipped on his tray and eaten with gusto. As you can see above.

So will you be switching your fish this month? Let me know if you do and if so what you cook with your free portion - I'm interested to hear!

Dairy free Cornish hake fish pie, baby led weaning

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with Sainsburys


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