Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Cows milk protein allergy/ Dairy free cooking, baking and eating

Cows milk protein allergy dairy substitute products

As a new mum, learning to deal with Cow's Milk Protein Allergy has been a steep learning curve, so I thought I'd use today's post, to outline some of the products that have been useful to us over the last few months.

We've been weaning Harry for 5 months now, and have been dairy free for all of that time, and soya free for about 3 months. The difference in him is amazing. He doesn't wail, arching his back, or hold his breath because he's in so much pain with the reflux anymore. He doesn't projectile vomit every feed back up, and he's lost that slightly haunted, underweight look that made me so sad. To see him squeal and giggle, clap and stand up, and generally just be wonderful (not that I'm biased at all) really makes me not care about the chocolate, cheese, milk or anything else I can't have. He's doing brilliantly and that means that I'm coping fine.

However, for Harry and I, being dairy & soya free isn't without it's challenges. I actually don't find the day to day side of things too hard - it's the pressure of trying to be inventive - to balance making sure he's getting enough of the right kind of calories with interesting, tasty food - that I find a struggle. If I don't plan, I hit a 3pm wall as it were, when I bemoan all those quick and easy suppers that I've clearly filed away over the years that all contain dairy. So, I plan, I make sure I have the right kind of food in for him and me, and we get on with it.

Some babies do grow out of their CMPA - to be honest I'm not thinking about that because it'll be great if it happens, but I'm sticking with where we are.  I will stop breastfeeding at some point, but for now, what we're doing is working for us so I'm reluctant to make any changes.

So - onto some of our useful and not so useful products...

Almond milk - we use this for porridge, cereals, baking and pretty much for Harry anything except drinking. We haven't really broached weaning from breast milk yet - but I suspect we'll use Oat milk when the time comes. I really like the mild flavour of the almond milk, it categorically doesn't work in tea or coffee - but then I've not found a dairy substitute that does.

Coyo - Coconut milk yoghurt. This is lovely. There are vanilla, raw chocolate and plain flavours in our local Waitrose, and I pop in weekly to pick some up. Harry has his with chopped fruit normally, although I've used the plain one to make him a mild curry.

Wot No Dairy? - These yoghurt type puddings were suggested by our dietician and are not a hit. Made with pea protein, I don't know if it's the flavour Harry doesn't like (although I've tried them mixed in with banana which is his absolute favourite to no avail) but I found them oddly flavoured too.

Violife 'cheese' - we buy the mozzarella style slices as that's what our Holland and Barrett stocks, although apparently in bigger Tescos you can get it in grateable blocks too. I cannot stand the smell of this - as much as I miss cheese, I just can't do Violife. That said Harry loves it. If we're having a picnic lunch (I put out little bits and pieces of ham, cheese, veggies, rice cakes, houmous etc and we eat them off his splash mat on the floor) I swear he hones in on this and inhales it. It doesn't melt like dairy cheese does, but chopped up and popped in a warm pasta sauce it does soften nicely.

Oatly Creamy Oat - this is our hero product at the moment, used to make dairy free rice puddings, creamy pasta sauces, and in pretty much anything where I might have previously used butter/ cream or cheese. It has a really mild taste so for Harry is ideal. I need to get some more at the moment actually as we're out of our baked rice pudding.

Vitalite - I use this for baking as well as a spread. Having done some anecdotal research if you're using this for baking - watch your cakes! It cooks much quicker than butter, and I find cakes are more likely to catch so you have to be careful. We've also used the Pure spreads, but think Harry reacts to something in them, which he doesn't seem to do to the Vitalite.

We don't eat a lot of Free from type products, truth be told I find them expensive and because we're allergic to soya as well as dairy, many just aren't suitable. I also think (with a few notable exceptions) that I'd rather bake for Harry and I as that way I know what we're reacting to, rather than trying to work out from a massive list of ingredients. That said, I have a huge soft spot for the Sainsburys Free from chocolate chip cookies, and could easily eat them by the packet. All of that aside - this list from PETA of accidentally vegan snack food has been a bit of a go-to for me!

If you're dairy free for any reason then I hope this is useful for you, it's not easy so do hang on in there.

If you've got any questions or requests for help with meals do comment below and let me know. I've had some requests for lunch inspirations, much like my breakfast suggestions post so I'm working on that at that moment and of course I'll continue to blog anything we happen across that makes our lives easier.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Almond macaroons - retro baking

Almond macaroons, dairy free, soya free, perfect cake with tea

Almond macaroons are dairy free, soya free and completely off Slimming World. But occaisionally you have to have a treat. As long as it's just occaisionally, right? 

Almond macaroons, dairy free, soya free chewy cakes

I've mentioned before that I love cooking from my Mum's Hamlyn cookery book - our edition, published in 1976 is much spattered, sticky in places and thoroughly annotated.  Macaroons (as opposed to macarons which I have no interest in) are a throwback to my childhood - huge, chewy and almondy they were a favourite whenever we got cakes from the bakery by the park. I've never tried making them before - but thought I'd give it a go.

Almond macaroons - makes 8

Almond macaroons, dairy free, soya free chewy cakes

4oz caster sugar
5oz ground almonds
4 drops almond extract
2 large eggs, whites separated (put 1 tsp of the white aside)
Rice paper
8 whole almonds

Preheat the oven to 130 degrees
Line 2 large baking sheets with rice paper
Whisk your egg whites until they reach soft peaks
Fold in the ground almonds, almond extract and caster sugar
Gently drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the rice paper - space them out as they will spread
Pop an almond in the middle of each macaroon before brushing with the reserved egg white
Bake for 20 minutes until just soft - leave the macaroons on the trays to cool as they'll continue to cook for a bit and so firm up

Serve with cups of tea - and enjoy the fact that they're dairy free cake!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Butternut Squash & Bacon pasta - dairy free, syn free


Butternut squash and bacon pasta is a current favourite pasta sauce - dairy free, and low syn or even syn free. I often have it on brocolli instead of pasta if I'm feeling in need of a lighter supper, or on pasta it's great comfort food. I vary it for Harry too, and will pop that down below.

First off butternut squash is an evil vegetable - I used to but the prepared, frozen one from Tesco or Waitrose, but now we shop at Aldi I've found a way to prepare it avoiding the dreaded chopping and peeling.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees 
Cut your squash in half, and put it cut side down on a baking sheet
Roast in the oven for 45 minutes
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes
The skin should peel straight off - with very little effort on your part

If you're worried about the squash sticking to your baking sheet then I use non-stick Bacofoil and a little Fry light on the cut side of the squash

Butternut Squash and Bacon pasta - serves 4

1 Butternut squash (about 500g) prepped as above
1 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g smoked bacon lardons or 200g lean bacon - grilled until slightly crispy
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 carton (500g) passata
Large splodge tomato puree
1 tsp dried thyme (1 tablespoon of fresh)
Spray Fry light or olive oil

Spray your pan with Fry light, and cook the onion, garlic, and thyme for 5 minutes until slightly softened
Add the tomatoes, passata and tomato puree and bring to a gentle boil
Stir in the butternut squash and bacon
Cook down for 15 minutes or until a thick, pulpy sauce
Taste and season with pepper - I don't add salt as the bacon is salty

 Serve either with pasta, or a bowlful of steamed brocolli

Slimming world maths - if you're using lean back bacon it's syn free. This does 4 generous portions - which works out at 4 syns per portion. 

If I'm making this for Harry, I use olive oil, omit the bacon and add Violife cheese and Oatly cream. The butternut squash is soft enough cooked this way for it to be easy for him to eat.

I'm entering this into Pasta please, which is Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes challenge, being hosted by Jen's Food this month

Monday, 11 May 2015

Meal Planning Monday

We've planted up the veg patch this weekend - so although I'm expecting not to be able to move tomorrow we have veggies for the summer. And potatoes! All of which is very exciting, I just need to remember to water them now.

This week is as busy as ever - Guides, Brownies and an overnight camp at the weekend for me - M's getting ready for Les Mans next month and we're both battling against the sea of stuff that comes with the baby.

Breakfasts - I'm back on overnight oats for the most part, with the occaisional scrambled egg and mushrooms.

Lunches - This week I'm having syn free minestrone soup - Harry has it with most of the liquid drained out.

Suppers -

Monday: Leftover roast chicken, baked potatoes, carrots, broccoli and stuffing

Tuesday: I'm on a chip walk with the Guides - M is having pizza

Wednesday: Bacon and butternut squash pasta

Thursday: Chicken, broccoli and mushroom stir fry with rice

Friday: Cottage pie

Baking this week was dairy free almond macaroons - recipe up later this week.

As always, don't forget to pop on over to At home with Mrs M to see what the other planners are up to. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

What's in our nappy bag?

One of the things I've been asked lately is what I put in my nappy bag, and how I knew what to. The answer to the first is below - the second, mainly guesswork. So I thought I'd write this post, as if I was working on guesswork, then I'm sure other people are too.

Our bag goes everywhere with us - attached to the pram by the nifty velcro whatsms, or over my shoulder when Harry's in the sling. I try to work on the basis that as a Guider, I should Be Prepared and aim to I have most eventualities covered. My back pain getting worse is probably not unrelated to be fair. However, over the last months, there's nothing in it I haven't used.

The contents have changed along the way- we didn't used to haul around teethers and bonjela, and I used to take a lot more in the way of spare clothes and muslins before Harry's allergies were diagnosed when projectile vomitting was a daily occurence. Weaning has also meant that at the very least I have a beaker and a tupperware of rice cakey type snacks on top of everything else.

Nappy bags
Bottom butter/ Sudocrem Care and Protect
Hat - I sewed elastic on Harry's hat as none of the ones I found had a chin strap on.

Spare babygrow
Spare vest
Muslins - 1 massive, 1 normal
Dribble bib

Teething gel
Hope's relief cream - this is amazing stuff. I use it for everything from those odd baby spots, dry patches, red patches. And for me too. Although it does seem to dye the baby a sort of fake tan colour.
Calpol & syringe
Spare dummies

Toby the T-Rex
Sensory linkies

The only things I haven't shown are the Mummy things - so the pack of paracetamol, bottle of water, emergency Nakd bar (dairy and soya free if you don't get the crunchy ones) as well as the day to day purse, keys, phone etc...

I know it's sort of an idiots guide - but hopefully that useful. Obviously in the winter, the sun hat was a wooly one, and there were mittens, plus an extra blanket. A year ago these were the posts I was trawling the internet for so hopefully even if they're not useful for you now - they may be at some point.

If there's anything else along these lines that you might find useful - either comment below, or drop me an email at penelopespantry@googlemail.com

Friday, 8 May 2015

Easter tsoureki - a spiced, plaited enriched (dairy free) bread

Easter came and went earlier this month - we had family visiting which was lovely, and were doing our utmost to blitz the jungle that is our garden. We're hoping to host Harry's first birthday party out there, and it's a long way from family friendly right now.  Harry and I of course are dairy free so between that and Slimming world, there was no chocolate in sight for us. It's not the hardship it felt before Christmas, but sometimes something sweet is just what I need.

I live in a Greek area of London and tried Tsoureki a few years back, Paul Hollywood then made a loaf as part of one of the Bake off seasonal specials. I'd been meaning to make it for ages, and luckily enough was able to grab the spices from our local Greek grocer. I have to say I found Paul Hollywood's recipe horribly bland, so this is my souped up, dairy free version.

Spiced Easter bread (dairy free, soya free)

500g strong, white bread flour
1.5tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
60g Vitalite (or Pure sunflower - I've tried it with both)
75g caster sugar
1/2 tsp gum mastic
1/2 tsp mahleb
1/2 tsp sweet mixed spice
150ml water
150ml almond milk
150g sultanas

I made this in my Kmix, but you could easily make it by hand

Put the flour, yeast, salt, Vitalite and sugar in the bowl, add the spices.
Mix the water and almond milk together and add slowly with the mixer running. You want a really soft dough.
Add the Vitalite and sultanas, then knead the dough for about 10 minutes
Put clingfilm over the bowl of your mixer and leave to rest - I popped it on a radiator once, and the second time on the kitchen worktop overnight
Split the risen dough into three evenly sized portions and roll these out into long sausage shapes. Plait them, tucking the ends under. Pop on a lined baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise somewhere warm until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Eggwash the bread - I did a double eggwash so that it was a beautiful dark glaze
Bake for 20 minutes, then leave to cool
Serve buttered, or on day two toasted and buttered.

Look how popular it was!

I'm entering this into this month's Bready Steady Go - hosted by Utterly Scrummy Food for families this month - but run by her and Jen's Food

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Slimming World lighter lunches - syn free beans

Syn free slow cooker beans Slimming World

This post continues on my lighter lunches themes - so meals I can either pack up and take out, or eat at home that I know are dairy free, soya free and syn free.

Baked beans from a tin are syn free, but to be honest, unless they're heavily doused in cheese and on a baked potato or I'm using them to eke out a cottage pie they're not something I typically choose to eat. My beans, cooked in the slow cooker are low faff, make loads and taste amazing. Although the dried chillis I'm currently using are hotter than hell and not to be recommended unless that suits your tastebuds. 

Syn free slow cooker baked beans Slimming World lunch

Slow cooker baked beans

2 red onions, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 peppers - I used red and yellow, diced
Handful of mushrooms, diced
1 red chilli - fresh or dried (I leave dried chillis whole, and chop fresh ones)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 jar passata
Big splodge tomato puree
2 tins mixed beans

Put the vegetables, garlic, chilli, tomatoes, passata, tomato puree and beans in the slow cooker
Cook on high for 4 hours
Remove the lid and allow to cook for another hour

If you don't have a slow cooker, you can do these on the hob or in the oven on low. Get a casserole dish with a lid (Or fashion one out of a double layer of tin foil).
Spray your casserole with fry light, and soften your onion, fresh chilli if using and garlic for 10 minutes over a low heat
Add the other veggies and cook for another 5-10 minutes until softened
Add the tomatoes, passata, beans, tomato puree and dried chilli
Put the lid on and cook on a very low heat on the hob for an hour, or in the oven on 120 degrees for 2 hours (if you're doing it in the oven why not put some baked potatoes in too)

Serve as they are, or as an accompaniment for Slimming World sausages or meatballs, or on wholemeal toast (Healthy Extra B). If I weren't dairy free, I'd top them with some grated cheese as my Healthy Extra A stirred in so it goes all melty.


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