Wednesday, 7 October 2015

So it's been suggested you go dairy free to help your baby... What now?

It's been suggested that your baby has a Cow's Milk Protein Allergy - and you're breastfeeding. What do you do now? This post is for you the mama, not the bubba - I can do another one covering that. Also have a listen to my podcasts as they're just more chatty introductions to CMPA.

It's nearly a year since the revelatory day when we got our CMPA diagnosis and I started my exclusion diet. I was reading the CMPA support group this morning and thought I could have really done with an idiots guide at that time. So that's what I'm going to try and put together today. Not because you're an idiot, but because if you're stressed, tired, sleep deprived and anxious then sometimes it's easier when things are spelled out in black and white.

Time - It takes between 4-6 weeks for allergens to leave your system completely so your baby's symptoms might not improve immediately. That said, we saw reductions in vomitting day by day and by the second week had a weight gain of 11oz. Keep going, I know it's frustrating and hard work, but what if it works?

Alternative milks - Having tried a lot (to save you the pain) I've come to this conclusion. Unsweetened almond milk tastes most like skimmed milk, Oatly in the blue carton is most like whole milk. Making hot chocolate with hazelnut milk does not equal something akin to Nutella. Sad times people. Sad times. Almond milk works well on cereal, in porridge, and in baking. Make sure whatever milk substitute you use is fortified.

Tea, coffee and hot drinks - I haven't found any alternative milk that makes a cup of tea I can stomach, so in a decision that I'm surprised didn't make the 6 o'clock news I gave up tea. I now drink black coffee - mainly decaf (and I used this post from Helen to make cold brew coffee which was a revelation in the summer) as I'm still breastfeeding, but I do have the occasional mug of really yummy proper coffee. And love it. Rooibos tea is lovely, and I drink lots of the spicy flavours of Yogi teas. I have heard that Galaxy make a hot chocolate (oddly one of the make with milk ones) that's dairy and soya free - I fully intend to try that made with Chocolate Oatly.

Free From sections in the supermarket - If you want my honest opinion, they're not really developed with us in mind. They're heavily focused towards people with coeliac disease and gluten allergies, the products are very expensive, and once you get your head around obsessive label reading you can shop in the usual aisles fairly easily. Also... DON'T GO MAD ON SOYA! Not even the wonderful Alpro soya chocolate puddings *weeps* Soya proteins are really similar to cow's milk protein strands and lots of babies can't tolerate either.

Your calcium levels - this was raised with me by our dietician. As women of childbearing age we must be wary of reducing calcium levels if we're excluding dairy. There are lots of non dairy sources of calcium: dark leafy green veggies, tinned sardines, figs, oranges, and oily fish are all good sources of calcium. That said, I wasn't sure how much was 'enough' so our dietician gave me a copy of this document which showed me I needed 21 stars. You can get a supplement prescribed from your GP but do make sure it's compatible with any other allergies. As an aside, I like the Tropicana fortified orange juice.

Cheese, chocolate... what is it for you? A year ago I'd have said it was the chocolate, but it's the savouriness of a mozzarella panini I miss, or the luxury of a baked camembert spiked with garlic, the simplicity of going to the fridge and having strong cheddar sarnies with tomatoes from the garden.  There will be something. Something that just occaisionaly makes you question your sanity for doing this, and then you look at your increasingly chubby bubba, smile and remember why. But it is there. Find a substitute you love. Not something you tolerate, but love. For me it's Ritter marzipan sport, Sainsbury's sell it for £1, and it hits the spot every time. I can't get on with Violife, (Harry loves it) so have filed cheese away for now. Bourbon biscuits are also a winner, only the cheap ones mind you - but for me, they're perfect with a coffee and an episode of Once Upon a Time on Netflix while Harry naps.

Take your glasses shopping - Read the labels, every time. This post on bread goes into in a bit more depth, but not every brand will publicise a change in recipe and the bread that was fine last week, can contain dairy or soya 7 days later. The aforementioned Bourbon biscuits are a case in point - some say on the label (Asda, I think) that they're 'not suitable for milk allergy sufferers' others will just list allergens. Now is also the time to learn about food labels. The top 14 allergens are now (by law) listed in bold if they're contained in a food.  Oh and some wine contains milk - no I have no idea why either.

Get assertive - bolshy, confident... whatever you want to call it. You've been the person that will have seen your child at his or her worst, it's in your power to not let him get that way again. Don't shy away from going out for that cup of coffee, meal with your partner, or to that family party... but say - I need to be dairy free. I always offer to bring something for myself to people's houses - and my dairy free baking goes down well with everyone. In restaurants and cafes I've rarely ended up with nothing.  In France the lovely waitress went and asked the chef to alter a dish so I could eat it. Be polite, friendly - ask to see the allergy folder (they should show you). Or if you're nervous like I am, contact people in advance, either by phone, email, twitter or Facebook and explain the situation. All the food at Harry's birthday party was safe for him - not one person questioned (or noticed) the lack of dairy, eggs, soya or strawberries).

Food wise - what does your family like to eat? Don't throw your family favourites out of the window... get familiar with some of my useful substitutions

Butter - Vitalite or Pure dairy free spreads
Milk - Almond, or Oatly
Cheese - Violife
Jus-Rol pastry (not the all butter version) is dairy free
If you'd previously have added cream or soft cheese to a sauce - try Oatly creamy oat instead.

If you're a lover of takeaways, again - don't be afraid to ask. Our local chip shop is amazing, I have given up on Chinese takeaway, but I know people who've had success with Indian food. So it is possible.

There's so much more I could write - but I wanted this post to be accessible and not dreary. If you have any non medical questions then just post in the comments and I'll do what I can to answer them. Also, if you've got any foodie hints or tips you've discovered since starting your ecvlusion diet, post those too and I'll include some in a future post.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Meal Planning Monday

This week starts with a busy one - doctors for Harry, our baby music class and Slimming World all before midday this morning! I'm trying to get ahead with a planning and scheduling session whilst M watches the new Dangermouse episodes on iPlayer.

Last week was glorious wasn't it? All that beautiful autumn sunshine - we had lots of walks in the fresh air and enjoyed what I suspect (looking at the forecast) was the last of the summer until next year.

Breakfasts have been Almond milk porridge with apple and figs which I am really enjoying. Although it uses my Healthy Extra A & B (Slimming world terminology for healthy calcium rich and fibre rich food) at breakfast, it really does fill me up.

Lunches: this week are going to be my Minestrone soup once I've picked up some baby pasta shapes tomorrow that is.

Suppers: we had a roast chicken tonight so start the week off with leftovers happily in the fridge

Monday -  Leftover roast chicken, baked potatoes & veggies

Tuesday - I'll be making a leftover roast chicken curry for the freezer, but eating a Stir fry with salmon, lots of veggies and rice noodles.

Wednesday - Leftover stir fry

Thursday - Heck's dairy free Chorizo style sausages, with roast veggies and sweet potatoes

Friday - Schnitzel, chips, peas and sweetcorn

Saturday - I'm at the Kitting & stitching show for the day, so will want something quick and easy when I get home. Hopefully I'll be able to pop the brisket I have stashed in the freezer into the slow cooker first thing.

Sunday - Leftover Super slow cooked brisket

Baking: Last week I made a double batch of Dairy and egg free chocolate cupcakes, which we have stashed in a cake tin (and I'm trying to forget they're there) I also made a dairy free apple and plum crumble with the last of the apples from the garden.

As always, don't forget to hop on over to At Home with Mrs M
to see what all the other planners are up to. And also over at I'm an Organising Junkie where I'm linking up again too.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Syrup Sponge pudding in a flash revisited: dairy free recipe

Syrup sponge pudding is one of my favourite things to eat on a Sunday night in the Autumn & Winter - so of course I had to try and make it dairy free. The post I wrote a couple of years back on how to make it in a tiny kitchen using the microwave is still incredibly popular, ticking away in the background. This weekend however, ahead of a return to Slimming World I decided I needed to make it dairy free. 

I don't know about other CMPA mummies and families but proper puddings are one of the things I miss. Last week at River Cottage everyone went to great lengths to accommodate my dietary restrictions and I had a lovely sorbet with my meringue, and the cutest little chocolate puddles so didn't feel like I missed out at all, but usually I'm not so lucky. 

Dairy free syrup sponge pudding - dairy free, soya free
Serves 4

2oz Vitalite (or Pure spread)
2oz caster sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
2oz self raising flour - remove 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons Birds custard powder
3-4 tablespoons Oatly cream
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons Golden syrup

Heavily grease a small pudding basin
In a mixing bowl, beat the Vitalite and caster sugar until light and fluffy
Beat in the egg, vanilla and custard powder
Fold in the flour
Mix in the Oatly cream until you have a soft dropping consistency
Pour the Golden syrup into the greased pudding basin and top with the sponge mixture
Put 2 tablespoons of water on to of the cake mix and cover the basin with cling film
Cook on high in the microwave for 4 minutes (we have an 800 watt microwave)

Serve with Booja Booja vanilla ice cream, or make up some dairy free custard using Birds powder and whatever milk substitute you use. Almond's my favourite. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Puff Pastry Pizza Pinwheels - a dairy free, baby led weaning recipe

Puff Pastry Pizza Pinwheels - a dairy free, baby led weaning recipe

Puff Pastry Pizza Pinwheels are such a quick and easy dairy free lunch for a weaning baby. Harry loves them - despite a streaming cold that's seen him off his food entirely he ate two today. Even I've managed a couple *cough*

Before any CMPA mummies panic - this isn't home made puff pastry (outside of the Bake Off tent who makes their own on a regular basis really? No need to wade in and tell me you do). Jus Rol is definitely dairy free - although as M will tell you I read the packet about 17 times and made him do the same. I haven't checked supermarket own brands yet, but will do.

Regular Violife in the block doesn't melt as such unless it's sandwiched between things - so these are ideal as the cheese melts nicely in the pinwheels. As you can see from the photos it doesn't melt on top in the same way. You can now get Vioife for pizzas that apparently does melt, but nowhere near me seems to stock it.

Obviously you can use any flavourings you like for this - I was using up some leftover pasta sauce that I'd got out of the freezer and forgotten to use so blended it smooth before spreading it over.

Puff Pastry Pizza Pinwheels - dairy free, soya free, weaning recipe
Serves 15

1 sheet Jus Rol puff pastry
Tomato sauce - I used about 240ml of blended tomato and butternut squash pasta sauce
Violife block cheese - I used about an inch, grated
1 tsp dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
Roll the pastry out so it's about a third bigger than it comes out of the packet

Puff Pastry Pizza Pinwheels - pasta sauce spread onto rolled out puff pastry

Spread the pasta sauce over the top
Sprinkle with oregano
Cover liberally with grated Violife

Puff Pastry Pizza Pinwheels - Violife cheese sprinkled on top of pasta sauce topped puff pastry

Roll up the pastry into a sausage shape and cut slices at about an inch thick

Puff Pastry Pizza Pinwheels - the sliced pinwheels ready for the oven

Lay these out on a lined baking sheet and cover with more grated Violife
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Food styling, farming and photos at River Cottage

This is the second of my posts about #BlogCampRiverCottage - previously I talked about bread and butter - now it's moving on to the side of the day I was infinitely less comfortable with - farming and photos.

It's no secret to my regular readers that my photography is a work in progress. I can cook and write to a standard I'm very happy with, but I struggle infinitely with taking pictures and am sure that this hinders my blog's growth, as these days people are so visual. 

Over the last 6 months I've been getting better at making sure I work with the light, and thinking about props.  Start talking to me about aperture, speeds and lenses and try as I might I just cannot follow. I am probably one of the few people who has tried to read their camera manual and just given up. I was utterly dreading Capture by Lucy's session on food photography - expecting to feel like I used to in Maths or Physics and slink to the back of the group. However, Lucy was engaging, interesting and non technical enough that I could follow most of what she was talking about. 

I don't think it helped that we suspect Harry has posted my camera somewhere, so I was bravely trying to use M's (and even before the session had had to ask the lovely Sarah-Jayne of Keep up with the Jones Family what on earth I'd done to it as it wouldn't focus!) which I was utterly terrified of breaking.  M has noted previously that I am not blessed with pointy elbows so missed out on taking any pictures with Lucy - first my tomatoes were pinched from in front of me, and then I made the mistake of moving to one side and losing my pretty periwinkle plate. At that stage as I was starting to get anxious and ultimately that wasn't what the day was about, so I took a deep breath and thought stuff it. I'm sure there will be other opportunities. 

The afternoon was a revelation however - we met the Head gardener at River Cottage and talked growing food, farming and snails. Oh how we talked snails. My spinach and chard were destroyed by the little blighters this year and I was so interested in the companion planting we discussed. Next year nasturtiums will be accompanying my veggies for sure! I also have a list of seeds for next year, including the beautiful Rose pelargonium, lemon verbena, purple sprouting broccoli, and the aforementioned nasturtiums.

Overall I had a wonderful day at River Cottage - from my previous visit I knew I liked it, but it really is a special place. Thank you to Foodies for organising the day, and River Cottage HQ for hosting. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Meal Planning Monday

After an exciting week last week, involving a family mini-break to Dorset and a trip to River Cottage for me, normal service is most definitely resumed this week. As autumn marches on and September moves into October our meal plan is definitely reflecting the change in the seasons. I want to be at my target weight for Christmas which means a final push on the Slimming World front over the next few months.

Breakfasts: Baked porridge for me and Harry, pear and ginger to start the week, and then apple and cinnamon. Apples from our tree no less!

Lunches: On Saturday I made a big slow cooker full of Chorizo, butternut squash and chorizo chilli - I've frozen most of the leftovers, save for enough for my lunches this week.


Today (Sunday) we're having my Super slow cooked brisket, with roast potatoes, dairy free yorkshire puddings, and veg from the veg patch.

Monday: Leftover roast beef with baked potatoes and more veggies

Tuesday: Shepherd's pie with the leftover beef - as it's not a particularly big bit of beef today it'll be eeked out with lentils and/ or baked beans

Wednesday: Leftover shepherd's pie (I seem to be playing just how far can you stretch a £5 piece of brisket)

Thursday: Baked salmon with lemon, garlic and chilli and some kind of roast amalgamation of all the veggies in the fridge

Friday: We've got some more of the Heck sausages in the freezer so those with baked potatoes and spinach and beans from the veg patch

Saturday: Chicken and butternut squash casserole without the Boursin - another slow cooker job I think, as it'll give us some lovely leftovers based lunches for the week after

Sunday: Roast chicken I think

Baking wise, I'm about to go and knock up some more flapjacks - jam and coconut ones this time.

That's us - as always, don't forget to pop on over to At Home with Mrs M and see what everyone else is up to this week. I'm also joining in with Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organising Junkie for the first time too.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Dairy free Soda Bread, butter and Autumn sunshine at River Cottage

Pretty late summer blooms in the autumn sunshine at River Cottage

 A few months back I won a raffle for a place at a Foodies Blog Camp at River Cottage. We organised accommodation, M arranged leave and I wrote it on the calendar. All of a sudden (or so it seemed) this week dawned, blue skies full of early autumn sunshine, the leaves just beginning to turn and the air suddenly developing a crispness. Unmistakably autumnal.

River Cottage is beautiful at every time of year, but this week it seemed to have truly embraced the turning seasons. Golden raspberry canes spiked with the pretty fruit, pears ripening against the kitchen garden walls and the last sweetcorn husks awaiting hungry bloggers.

I left Harry and M ready for a Daddy-son day, full of soft play and sandcastles. As only the second time I've left Harry for any length of time, to say I was nervous is probably an understatement. I waved, blew kisses and sent love before steeling myself to clamber up the tractor steps for the rocky ride down to the farm. I had a lot of hope pinned on a lot of coffee (someone who shall remain nameless was awake at 4am).

Hand made butter at River Cottage - a photo collage

After a much needed coffee (or two) our day began with bread and butter making.  Butter making wasn't new to me - I've used it for a few years now as an activity for Guides and Brownies - they love to see their cream, shaken in a jam jar begin to change, and are so proud when everyone has it on their muffins at tea time. I knew M would love some homemade butter, so got on with whisking like my arms depended on it, before squeezing out the buttermilk, rinsing and adding a little salt and thyme.

Everyone else used their buttermilk as the liquid in their soda bread - however, obviously we needed to keep my bread dairy free as I had every intention of Harry and I tucking in later. Apple juice was to be my liquid, and paired beautifully with the apples, foraged blackberries, thyme and sage in my loaf. I love soda bread and although we weren't given quantities, this is what I would use if I were to recreate it at home:

Autumnal stuffed dairy free soda bread at River Cottage

Autumn stuffed soda bread - dairy free
Serves 8

300g malted grain bread flour
200ml cider/ apple juice
1 dsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 mug of foraged blackberries
1 eating apple, cored and chopped
1 sprig of thyme, leaves picked
3-4 sage leaves, rolled and sliced

Preheat your oven as hot as it will go
Lightly mix the flour, baking powder, salt, blackberries, apple, thyme and sage together before pouring in the cider/ apple juice and gently bringing the dough together
You don't need to knead soda bread dough so once the mixture is sticking together, simply shape it into a round before using the back of a knife to score the dough into 4 sections
Slide the loaf onto a greased baking sheet or preheated pizza stone
Heavily dust the dough with some more flour
Bake for 20 minutes

Allow to cool before enjoying as it is, or spread, liberally with some really good honey.

Still to come, some thoughts on the photography class and some of the pictures I took with M's DSLR - we think Harry has posted my point and shoot camera somewhere 'safe'


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