Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Necessity is the Mother of Invention - Pancakes and Puddings

We are now well into our second week of our #fewfood journey, I'm delighted to say that my daughter's symptoms are very much improved. They are far from gone - but given the she has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome as well as food allergies it was never going to be a complete cure, but it's really significant progress and she's delighted - as am I!

She is, however getting a little bored of her six foods, and has almost completely rejected chickpeas other than as gram flour which a bit of a blow. It means protein will be high on the agenda for trials. I promised I would try and make some new desserts, other than just pears.

I've bought some rice porridge flakes from Marks and Spencer which have been a fantastic success mixed with pear puree. I also tried my own rice pudding, with pudding rice and rice milk. I loved it - K prefers the porridge!

I also decided to experiment making "pancakes'. I figured that I could use olive oil instead of the margarine I would normally use, brown rice flour, and some pear puree instead of an egg since fruit does have some impact as a raising agent. It was actually pretty successful! 

I made the "pancakes" like drop scones, or scotch pancakes. I followed the quantities for the fat and flour and then added a tablespoon of puree instead of the egg and whisked with a hand balloon whisk. Some people have had good luck with sparkling water and flour alone, this recipe here uses millet flour and  sparkling water with good success.

The key to living with only a handful of foods we've discovered, is to keep an open mind. These won't taste like the best Shrove Tuesday pancakes you've ever tasted, or the best stack of scotch pancakes your grandma makes.... but they DID taste good and by experimenting we've added another meal to the list and staved off the boredom of life with six foods.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Homemade Houmous - Life with Six Foods

So we've started our few food diet. Day 3 so far..... the current breakfast favourite is puffed rice cereal with rice milk, then if I can persuade her some cashew butter on a rice cake, a handful of nuts or a pear.

Lunch so far has relied on our homemade houmous, which is literally a can of chick peas, a little permitted olive oil blended to the right consistency. I'm making use of all my tiny Sistema pots to store it in for a couple of days in the fridge!

Initially the houmous didn't go down well - she's used to the shop bought versions which have sesame and garlic in. However we've persevered and she's eating it. I also tried rolling a ball of it in gram flour and frying as patties, I thought these were delicious but she remains to be convinced!! (Photo to follow!)

We've added carrot sticks, plain crisps, pear chunks and pear puree, rice cakes and cashew butter, etc and today K made her own lunch.  The rice cakes have a thick layer of cashew butter between, and the pot has the homemade houmous in.

It's not as filling as a regular free from wrap/sandwich so she had another round of rice cakes and cashew butter a couple of hours later, with a pear - but she has started to think this through herself a little.

Tea yesterday was oven chips, a second attempt at pan fried houmous patties and today is pasta from gram flour with a carrot sauce. I'm blending well-cooked carrots which have been boiled with a little rosemary, to create a "sauce" for the pasta. Poached pear for dessert - tomorrow I'm attempting rice pudding! Either tomorrow or the next day I will also be making these - potato cakes are a firm favourite here!

Friday, 1 July 2016

"Store Bought" Chocolate Brownies

This recipe claims to be so versatile it can make cake, cupcakes, brownies - whatever! A friend gave it to me to try.

Gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, soya free, nut free with safe ingredients, corn free and in theory could be egg free, but that's a LOT of eggs to replace.


  • 2 cups (250g) rice flour
  • 2/3 cup water of safe "milk" (I used rice milk)
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 1 cup margarine or oil (I used sunflower oil, olive oil is too heavy for baking)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (350g) safe chocolate chips
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • In a saucepan over a medium heat, stir together the butter or oil, milk/water and sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat and stir through the chocolate chips until smooth
  • Stir in the flour, working quickly stir in the eggs, or the egg replacer mixture. (I used a large beating whisk for this)
  • Pour into a lined cake pan or cupcake cases.
  • Cupcakes bake for 10 minutes, brownie pans for 15 mins and if split into two cake pans 16 mins together.
  • Allow to cool completely then remove for/baking parchment.
  • Add frosting if desired.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Courgette Fritters

So, as per my previous post we are starting our #FewFood diet imminently. Less than two weeks....  The reason for this delay is that such a big change really needs to be monitored carefully and we are starting immediately my daughter breaks up from school.

Two of her permitted foods are courgette and chickpea. Chickpea is also available in flour form, known as Gram Flour. Gram flour, also known as garbanzo bean flour, or besan, is a pulse flour made from ground chickpeas known in a number of Asian countries as gram. It is a staple ingredient in Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and Bangladeshi cuisines. You can find recipes on the BBC site for gram flour, assuming you are able to use more than a handful of foods!

When mixed with an equal proportion of water, it can be used as an egg replacement in vegan cooking so it works well as a batter. Gram flour contains a high proportion of carbohydrates, no gluten and a higher proportion of protein than other flours.

I was hoping to make my own few food version of vegetable pakoras, which can be found here. Having learned from our Facebook group than fizzy or sparkling water is brilliant for creating a batter I used some with the gram flour, and it did mix up to a nice thick consistency. This time I cut the courgettes into chunks and steamed them for a few minutes to soften. Then I dipped them into the batter and attempted to coat them sufficiently before frying in a little olive oil.

This was the gram flour I used - from Dove's Farm.

The verdict - really tasty if eaten immediately, but the batter became quite tough and leathery when cool. So definitely an option t eat straight away.

In actual fact after discussion wit our dietician  we've swapped the courgettes for carrots, perhaps easier and more filling, but it was a useful experiment!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Our Few Food Diet

After ten years of unresolved, unimproved reflux and with a known gut allergy process at play we are embarking on a few food diet with our daughter. I should point out that this has been suggested by an expert paediatric dietician and proposed after much consideration and discussion with our paediatric gastroenterologist. It's not something you should EVER do without professional support since it is potentially quite dangerous since the child's nutritional status is obviously at risk. It's also pretty hard to do without the child's full agreement if at all possible. Our daughter is desperate for improvement, her reflux is hugely life-affecting and she's losing adult teeth already. So.... I'm gritting my teeth and going with it.

My reason for sharing this is that my first port of call for advice was our Facebook group. It is home to some truly inspirational mums, dads and carers, who have all been battling strict exclusion diets with their children. Many have come up with some phenomenal recipes on virtually nothing - whilst I wallow in the luxury of baking with egg. Seriously, I am not of their league......

So I'm going to be sharing our journey, and the wonderful suggestions that my friends have come up with in the hope of showing you that few foods - and we are talking SIX foods here - need not be quite so difficult and monotonous as you might think.

So here are our big six:- courgette and pear as the fruit and veg, cashew nuts and chick peas as the protein and rice and potato as the carbohydrates.

The reason for these choices are many, you can't pluck them out of the air and I cannot stress enough how you MUST only be doing this with medical advice. Our dietician worked with our daughter's chewing and swallowing limitations, her likes and dislikes and obviously the who manageability of the diet.

But of course all these foods come in so many forms

Potato - crisps (plain), chips (with my air fryer at home), jacket potatoes, potato cakes (here) and potato flour.

Chick peas can been whizzed in a food processor with some oil to make houmous, or used as gram flour which together with fizzy water can make little patties or a batter to fry with.

Pear - pear crisps, pear puree, dried pear, and pear spread as well as pear from the tree.

Cashew nuts - I have the mother of all cashew butter tubs at the ready, it's wonderful for whizzing up in the food processor with dried fruit (that will be pear) and more cashew nuts to make something like this 

Rice - obviously the possibilities are endless. Rice porridge, rice, rice balls, rice pudding with rice milk, rice cakes and rice flour, even rice mochi which I will tell you more about later!

Courgette - supermarkets sell it as "spaghetti", you can food process it with potato cakes, or mashed potato balls, make fritters with the gram flour.... it's pretty versatile.

Obviously to stay nutritionally safe we will have to include all foods every day, so I've got my thinking cap on!

We start when school ends, in just over two weeks - makes life a bit easier! Then the plan is that once we (hopefully) see an improvement in symptoms, we start trialling foods one at a time, as per our dietician's recommendations and see if there are any triggers which make symptoms worse. It's not just reflux for us so we are keeping a diary to be sure we don't forget anything!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Fruit & Seed Bites

I've been trying to find new ways of getting plant based protein into the kids, particularly my daughter who struggles with meat and point blank refuses fish. (Let's face it, fish refluxed back up afterwards is not pleasant....!) I have made coconut protein bites in the past but they contain egg, which doesn't suit everyone - and are quite sugar heavy.

So these came about after baking with seeds, dried fruit etc in the style of "Deliciously Ella" but using ingredients I had in the cupboard. I've made these a variety of ways, listed below.

Prune, Seed and Cashew Bites

120g prunes - make sure they are juicy ones, not too dry
1 tbsp chia seeds - these help bind the mixture as they swell in water
120g cashew nuts
handful of seeds - I used pumpkin and sunflower
1 tbsp nut butter or tahini (I used cashew butter, if you can have soya but not nuts try Wowbutter)
2 tsp honey

Whizz the seeds and nuts in a food processor until crushed. Add all the other ingredients and blend until the mixture becomes sticky, then form into balls and chill.

Date, Almond and Seed Bites

120g plump dates 
Handful of seeds - I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp almond butter or tahini
120g ground almonds
2 tsp honey

Whizz the seeds and chia seeds together in the blender until crushed. Add the ground almonds and all other ingredients and blend until the mixture becomes sticky, then form into balls and chill.

Fig, Oat and Seed Bites

100g rolled oats - NB not porridge oats
120g plump dried figs with stalks removed
Handful of seeds - I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds 
1 tbsp tahini or similar butter

Whizz the oats, seeds and chia seeds in the blender until crushed but not quite a flour consistency. Add all other ingredients and blend until the mixture becomes sticky, then form into balls and chill.

Tip - You can pretty much add whatever you like to these, just ensure the mixture is sticky enough to combine. Macadamia nuts, almonds, pine nuts..... all possibly and can be combined with various "butters" and syrups. Just try and keep the ratios fairly constant. You could even roll them in icing sugar or cocoa for a special treat and can substitute some of the dry ingredients for protein powders if desired.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Chocolate Mug Cake - gluten, dairy, soya, nut and egg free!

This utterly brilliant recipe came from our Facebook group, so I can't take the credit! It is absolutely perfect for visiting friends, relatives or events where your child will not want to miss out, all the location requires is a microwave and a mug! Even most village halls have both these days, so I could have used this for countless parties and events when my children were small.

We tested it yesterday - huge success!

The ingredients below are sufficient for approx ten small bags of cake mix. My digital scales are not great for weighing to exactly the right total in grams, 60g is actually very difficult to achieve! it didn't seem to matter.

Dry Ingredients

  • 285g gluten free SELF RAISING flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 255g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Weigh out the above in a bowl, then mix WELL.
  • Transfer to a freezer food bag, clip tight and shake together further.
  • Weigh out portion of 60g into separate smaller bags and tie closed. 
Tip : sit each small bag in a mug, zero the scales and start weighing so tie bag doesn't collapse as you pour!!

You now have ten portable cake mixture bags - for a fraction of the cost of supermarket alternatives!

To bake

  • Melt 1 tbsp "Pure" or other safe margarine
  • and 2 tbsp water
  • Mix well in a mug
  • Microwave for around a minute - my 1000w microwave needed only 50 seconds.
Tip add chocolate chips for a decadent touch!


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