Monday, 20 October 2014

Cooking with Apples - Apple Month

Photo courtesy of Kirinoha / Flickr Creative Commons edited by me.

Rather belated I know, but there are still almost TWO WEEKS to get baking before October is out!

There are many different types of apples. They are so versatile although - unlike bananas definitely not a raising agent and can have the opposite effect when baking!

I grew up in a village where we were lucky enough to have a large enough garden with a small orchard. My parents moved away from there only two years ago and I'm still struggling with the loss of my fruit source, my freezer has never been so empty!

Baking with Apples

A basic sponge recipe with ingredients substituted for #freefrom alternatives can be transformed with the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter, poured on to a circle of apple slices on the base of the tin. Perfect apple cake!

Or simpler still, just stew some apples and have containers ready to defrost in the freezer. When you have some flapjacks handy, crumble one or two over small portions of apple for instant desserts!
 If you need gluten free flapjacks, this is the GF recipe.

We regularly make a crumble mix which is roughly

  • 6 oz Dove's Farm flour 
  • 2 oz gluten free oats
  • 2 oz sugar (soft brown for a warmer, nutty taste) 
  • 4 oz Pure sunflower. 

(Obviously you can halve this but I freeze any spare.) 
Mix until it is starting to collect together, sprinkle over (defrosted) stewed apple and bake at 180C for long enough that the top goes golden brown.

I've made Bran and Raisin muffins  :-

My personal favourite, blackberry and apple muffins :-

And last but not least Apple and Cinnamon Fairy Cakes

And if I'm *really* pushed for time, it's a whole cooking apple, core cut out and filled with dried fruit, cinnamon and baked in the microwave (covered in cling film!) for 2-3 minutes. At Christmas time I swap the centre filling for mincemeat!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Frank Bars - Review

Disclaimer - The Recipe Resource were sent five Frank Bars for the purpose of an independent review. The views expressed are entirely my own - or rather those of my fussy, hard to please taste-testers!

About the Frank Food Company

"FRANK bars are a deliciously indulgent snack bar made with 100% natural ingredients such as wholegrain oats, dates & dried plums and topped with a delicious dairy free Coconut Cream chocolate. FRANK bars are gluten, nut, & dairy free and are a source of protein, with each bar containing almost 4g of protein per 35g bar. FRANK bars also contain ENERGYSMART®, which is a patented, all-natural combination of carbohydrates from select fruits (apple, grape & pear) plus specially developed natural dextrins from grain which together provide longer-lasting energy. ENERGYSMART® is a registered trademark of Advanced Ingredients Inc. (USA)"

There are currently five Frank Bars available - Oat and Chocolate, Blueberry and Chocolate, Strawberry and Chocolate, Orange and Chocolate and plain Chocolate. They are more cocoa flavoured than "chocolate" and a wonderful chewy-but-not-too-sticky texture.

We were particularly keen to get hold of these because our current favourite bars contain cashew nuts. Whilst this is wonderful for my children's protein intake on their very restricted diet, they were not allowed in school because for some nut allergic children even cashew nuts are dangerous due to processing methods. Frank bars are nut free so this is not an issue.

Another major issue for us is soya avoidance. Too many foods replace dairy with soya and my twins - particularly our daughter are extremely sensitive to soya. The last accidental ingestion caused two days of considerable acute ill health and a month's recovery time.  Frank bars are soya free too!

Frank bars also have a sustained energy release so are ideal to carry in bags for energy dips. For us, this is more than a potential unpleasant energy lull, as we have low blood sugars to manage in one child and these can actively help as part of a balanced diet.

So - what did we think?

The twins loved all except (bizarrely?) the plain chocolate bar. Blueberry and Strawberry were a real hit, orange was "good" and the oat one "nice".  All round a massive thumbs up!

Our daughter really struggles with foods that are too sticky or chewy so these are fantastic. They are both quite suspicious of new foods, previously associating many foods with pain and discomfort so to spontaneously give a new food a positive endorsement is a huge compliment.

Which were their favourites?

As a parent I'm really pleased to have discovered Frank Bars. They certainly tick all my boxes and I'm delighted that Asda now stock them which makes it a little easier to source them - although I notice you can purchase directly from the Frank website. It's not often this little chap embraces a new food so enthusiastically - hats off to Frank!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Millet Pancakes

This is one from a Recipe Resource Facebook Group Member. Her son only has three safe foods and one of them is Millet.

  • This is a single ingredient recipe - well, two if you count the fizzy water! 

  • Mix some millet flour with sufficient sparkling water to make a thick, spoonable "dough".
  • Fry in a non stick pan/on a griddle, if oil is tolerated you could use a little to stop it sticking.

The finished result:-

You can practice with it to get a more evenly cooked pancake, make different shapes and even add some fat if tolerated. But it's great to be able to achieve something for a toddler unable to eat more than one food.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Pizza - Using mixes or baking from scratch?

For years I have used the following Pizza base recipe which is free from – wheat, dairy, egg, soy and corn. It does mean cooking from scratch but I find it's by far the tastiest we've tried.

Prep Time - 15 minutes
Cook Time - 25 minutes

  • 1 Tablespoon dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour 
  • 1/2 cup potato flour/ tapioca flour 
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning (optional)
  • 2/3 cup warm rice milk (or your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar (optional)
  • Extra rice flour for sprinkling

It's great - but there are no other options you can buy, premixed and infinitely tastier than the ready made bases which cost a fortune in the supermarket.

  1. Isabel's Pizza Base Mix This has been recommended but Recipe Resource followers on Twitter as one of the best. BUT - and it's a MASSIVE "but" ... it contains milk powder. Which excludes us and many others I know. As a recipe for coeliacs it sounds great however, the same is true of the Glutafin mix.

  2. If you receive Juvela mix on prescription, there is a recipe on their website here

  3. Orgran have a multi mix you can use to make pizza bases, a little more straightforward than the Juvela recipe, and you can purchase their mix online from Goodness Direct, FreeFrom for Kids or Ocado.

  4. BobsRedMill Gluten Free pizza base mix. This is one I have tried, it is free from most major allergens but again, there is a "but". It is not milled/produced in a certified nut free environment. The ingredients are in the picture below.

So there are alternatives, but we still like our original recipe! Here's how you do it:-


  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees . In medium mixer bowl using regular beaters (not dough hooks), blend the yeast, flours, xanthan gum, salt, and Italian seasoning on low speed. Add warm milk, sugar, oil, and vinegar. 
  • Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. (If the mixer bounces around the bowl, the dough is too stiff. Add water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time, until dough does not resist beaters.) The dough will resemble soft bread dough. 
  • Put mixture on a greased 12-inch pizza pan. Liberally sprinkle rice flour onto dough, then press dough into pan, continuing to sprinkle dough with flour to prevent sticking to your hands. Make edges thicker to hold the toppings. 
  • Bake pizza crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Top Pizza Crust with sauce and your preferred toppings. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until top is nicely browned.
Suggestions for toppings:-
  • Tomato sauce and fresh cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with Redwood Cheezly Dairy and Soya free cheese.
  • Spinach with the above
  • Vegusto Melty (if tolerated) cubed and added on the top to resemble a Pizza Express Pizza
  • Shredded chicken and sweetcorn
  • If you are allowed eggs, a poached egg and spinach are a great combination on top!

Thanks to members of our Facebook group for providing the photo and Twitter followers for excellent advice!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

An Icy Tale

My daughter had a birthday party to attend today - and I had promised her double chocolate cake to take with her. We always make little cupcakes and decorate them for special occasions like this, since she is unable to share the birthday cake her friends have due to her (very) restricted diet.

Our current favourite chocolate cake mixture is this one:-

Although this is equally good. 

I also make my own by just substituting the ingredients in a regular sponge recipe, or cake pops like these but today, after a two hour dance class (during which time I had to wait for her) whilst flying solo following my husband's glaucoma surgery being inventive was just not going to cut it.

So we had these:-

With added cocoa nibs, and they just needed icing.

Having checked online first I ordered some two colour swirls vanilla and chocolate icing to decorate a chocolate cupcake. But checking again I saw that the icing had whey powder in! Back to the drawing board.... with half an hour to go. I spotted the Renshaw naturals icing and quickly make an "Elsa" face to go on top - must have been divine intervention as it turned out there was in fact a "Frozen" theme at the party!

This is not in any way a sponsored post - I'm sure the swirly icing tastes delicious but PLEASE Lakeland, make an effort on your online site! If you are selling food items you have a responsibility to list the ingredients. Food Allergies are no joke.

Here's the result - which I was very pleased with!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vegetarian Dips

Since we are enjoying an "Indian Summer" this year (it's supposed to reach 26C here today?!) we are still enjoying salads and summer food here. Winter casseroles seem a long way off! 

Dips are a great way of livening up “free from” bread, which can otherwise seem quite dry. I also put some in the tiny system pots and send crudités and or polenta chips/gluten free bread sticks in to school in packed punches. If home we also eat them with toasted pitta bread.

(TIP:- Gluten free pitta toasts well whole but doesn’t split easily, so I slice them in diagonal strips to enjoy with either of these dips.) 

Hummus prep time 5 min (yield about a cup)

This versatile paste can be breakfast, with some fresh pita bread, a snack with carrot sticks, a sandwich filling, even used in cooking to thicken certain soups, the list goes on… This makes about a regular tub size that you can buy in the supermarket. (And costs pennies, compared to buying the prepared stuff!)

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or about 3/4 cup dry, soaked overnight till soft)
  • 2 tbsp tahina (sesame seed paste if tolerated, otherwise leave out) 
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice 
  • Garlic and salt to taste
  • 3-5 tbsp good olive oil (3 if no tahini)
  • Blitz all ingredients in blender or food processor until very smooth (you might need to add small amounts of water if it gets too stiff and sticky) – you want a final consistency like warm butter, very spreadable. 

  • You can also add a peeled chopped carrot, this makes it a bit less sticky and is a good way to sneak veg into things. 
  • To make it super-smooth, try adding less water and a tablespoon of yoghurt/rice cream. 
  • For good presentation, serve in a shallow bowl, with olive oil drizzled on top, and a few pine nuts sprinkled on.

Guacamoleprep time 5-10 minutes (yield about 1 cup – nibbles for 2-4 adults with tortilla chips)

  • very ripe avocado – (should yield to gentle pressure but not have visible depressions on the surface, as these mean bruises)
  • coriander leaves
  • red onion
  • olive oil
  • lime or lemon juice
  • optional – jalapeno chilli
  • Peel the avocado – the best way to do this is to run your large knife around it, cutting down to the pit, then twist the two halves apart. Then use a spoon to get the large stone out. Chop into a fine dice and put in bowl. Add very finely diced onion, chili, and coriander leaves (large handful). 
  • Drizzle with about 1 large spoon oil and a bit of salt. 
  • Stir and mash with a fork to desired consistency. (Don’t use a blender or food processor as it will go all gummy.) If the avocado is ripe enough it should mash easily. 

You can serve this as nibbles/appetizer/finger food – use tortilla chips or if not available you can toast small pieces of flat-bread in the oven. Also makes a good sandwich filling.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Clearspring Organic Purees

Disclaimer - I was sent a selection of Clearspring organic purees for an honest review. The views expressed are entirely my own.

About Clearspring

From their website:-
Clearspring have been trading in the UK for over 20 years, last year (2013) Clearspring celebrated their twentieth birthday. Marketing "Authentic, wholesome, easy-to-prepare and great tasting Japanese and fine foods for optimum nutrition" Clearspring has a wide range of products to suit everyone.
  • All their products are 100% vegan with no artificial additives, MSG, colourings, preservatives or refined sugars and they subscribe to extremely high standards
  • Clearspring have won many awards, being Commended in the Free From Food Awards in 2014.
  • All Clearspring products are Dairy Free and refined Sugar Free.They also have a Gluten Free range and a Nut Free Range

Perfect for Us 

We at The Recipe Resource struggle with complex food allergies, and are always on the look-out for new products with single or few ingredients. Clearspring purees are perfect in this respect - but what *really* got us excited, beyond the obvious single ingredient, ease of use in cooking/baking, perfect weaning food options was their new range of pouched purees!

Clearspring "On the Go" Fruit Pouches

My eight+ year old twins have just gone into Year 4, and no longer is it deemed acceptable to take  fruit puree pouches in that have come from the baby food aisle of the supermarket. I have used such brands for years, but however good the contents are you are not going to persuade either of my two that they acceptable in their lunch anymore. Also, since both have swallowing issues and many allergies it can be tricky meeting their nutritional requirements each day, and with a few wobbly teeth to boot its impossible biting in to fruit however soft! So I'm thrilled about these pouches - as are they.

Clearspring Puree Range

Like many parents feeding children on exclusion diets, we avoid multiple proteins. All too often the food industry substitutes these proteins (which often add flavour) with processed fillers and excess sugar and sweeteners. This is one reason why I won't purchase cakes, biscuits etc for my children. I rely on fruit to give homemade treats a naturally sweet flavour, and purees are perfect on meringues, in cakes, on cereal, in fact they have so many uses I like to keep a stock of them all the time! 

Without a doubt Clearspring offer the best variety of purees I have ever seen. They offer are a variety of blends as well as pear on its own. Often, in strict exclusion diets pear is one of the first foods you are asked to try, as it is one of the least allergenic foods. (see this chart for a Food Allergen Scale.

Any banana puree can also be used as a raising agent, so the pear and banana puree is ideal for adding to muffins to help them rise - often a problem is you are excluding, and substituting egg. (See this chart for other egg alternatives.)

I used the pear and banana puree to make some fruit muffins:-

The basic banana muffin recipe is here and I made pear muffins here and added cocoa powder. This time I made the banana muffins with the puree, banana helps them rise and the pear was a lovely additional flavour. The texture was really velvety smooth too.

Lastly I wanted to make some fruit puree lollies but my lolly moulds split recently. Instead I used the strawberry and apple puree to make a lolly mixture, using this recipe but obviously the puree instead of the frozen fruit. It was delicious but would definitely be better as lollies in proper moulds, like these!


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