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
Method
  • 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!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Scotch Pancakes - Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Soya and could be free

My daughter was keen to make pancakes this weekend, and wanted to try something slightly different from our buckwheat pancake recipe here. She wanted something she could take to school in her packed lunch and smaller scotch pancakes (sometimes called "griddle cakes") seemed an ideal choice!


Ingredients

  • 200g flour (we use Dove's Farm gluten free blended flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (not teaspoon)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 large egg (egg replacer should work)
  • 300mls your choice of milk (we used rice milk)
Method
  • Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl
  • Beat egg and milk into the mixture, using a hand balloon whisk. If using egg replacer mix as instructed and add gradually to the dry ingredients. READ LABEL as instructions vary.
  • Heat frying pan to medium and add safe oil
  • Fry small spoonfuls of batter to make pancakes approx 3" across

TIP This batter is a LOT thicker than your regular pancake batter - this is intentional to prevent the batter spreading too much.

And here's my chef - she made the pancakes above all by herself!


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Fish Pie - Gluten free, dairy free, soya free, wheat free, nut free, corn free

Apologies for only sporadic posting at present, life seems to well and truly have taken over! I've still been cooking daily, anyone catering for children with allergies knows only too well that there are not many short cuts. My christmas present this year was a slow cooker, which I must say has been hugely liberating. It means I can spend food preparation time whilst the children are (usually!) at school, and the meal cooks with little intervention from me. Once the children are home I can devote my time to them, rather than the evening meal.

My main aim this year (a resolution if you like!) is to continue to build on the growing independence the twins are gaining. This is quite a slow process - new readers can read my musings on why children with allergies lack a degree of independence here,  and to that effect I am aiming to broaden their meal repertoire, if not their safe food list!

Fish pie has long been a big favourite of my two oldest children, the twins each enjoy a few ingredients each - and both are hugely suspicious of sauces and combined meals. We've been slowly working on them tasting and eating a white sauce and after initial success as a warm "dip" I decided to attempt a fish pie.

My aim was not for either to eat a plateful, or even enjoy all of it - but to taste some, and pick out a few pieces they felt they could eat. This is an approach called a "bravery ladder", which I will write more about next week.

So, here it is - our fish pie. Obviously if your child is allergic to fish, this is a complete no-no!! The eggs are entirely optional though, so tolerating rice, potato and a few vegetables is all that is required on top of the fish.




White sauce ingredients

  • 300ml rice milk
  • 100ml rice cream (I use Isola)
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 50g "Pure" Olive or Sunflower
  • 50g plain flour - either corn flour or rice flour
Method
  • Melt the margarine a little in the microwave
  • Combine with the flour (I use a hand held whisk) and gradually add the cream. 
  • Whisk/stir whilst adding the milk
  • pop in the bay leaf and gradually cook in the microwave until thickened.

Fish Pie Method
  • Peel and boil approx 4 -5 large potatoes
  • Poached the fish in the microwave with a little rice milk and a sprinkling of pepper, then flake it. 
  • I have an egg cooker and hard boiled three eggs, cooled peeled and chopped them.
  • Quickly stir fry the spring onions whilst the fish and eggs are cooling a little
  • Make the white sauce (above) and mix with at the fish, eggs, onions, sweetcorn and peas.
  • Place at the bottom of a large dish
  • Once cooked, mash the potatoes, add white pepper to taste and use "Pure" Olive or similar to mash
  • Cover the fish mixture with mashed potato, starting with the edge first to avoid the contents getting pushed over the edge.
This will keep in the fridge once cooled until you wish to cook and serve. Alternatively cook in a moderately hot 180C oven (170C fan) for half an hour - or an hour if straight from the fridge.



Saturday, 7 November 2015

Banana Muffins (with or without the nuts!) Can be MEWS free


I have long used my Mum's recipe for Banana Muffins, which you can find here. However I was keen to develop a recipe that was truer to a muffin mix but also used a variety of flours. I confess the reason for the latter was partly because my baking cupboard is overflowing with flours at present, but I'm trying to be braver in my cooking too.

I have a lovely little muffin and cupcake recipe book by Ann Nichol - listed here on GoodReads.


I used the "Streusel-Topped Banana Muffins" recipe as a starting point, and adapted.

Ingredients
  • 5oz gluten free flour mix - I used 3oz Dove's Farm, 1oz coconut flour to allow more moisture to be absorbed into the recipe, and 1oz peanut flour for flavour and protein. OBVIOUSLY peanuts are a MASSIVE issue for many, so you can use any similar protein based flour instead, or substitute another oz of your usual GF flour.
  • 1teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 large ripe bananas (if smaller, reduce flour a little)
  • 1 large egg
  • 50mls sunflower oil (DO NOT use olive oil, it is too heavy for baking, same with coconut oil)
  • 50mls your choice of milk substitute. I used rice milk.

Method
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/180C if fan/Gas Mark 6
  • You will need 6-8 large muffin cases or 10 cupcake cases (better for children)
  • Sift the flours, xanthan gum and baking powder together (worth doing with a mix of flours)
  • Mash bananas well, make a well in centre of flour and add them to the bowl
  • In another bowl, beat egg, oil and milk together **
  • Add wet bowl to dry bowl and mix well
  • Spoon into paper cases so they are approx two thirds full
  • Bake for 20-25 mins until golden and a skewer/knife comes out clean


** Because banana is an excellent raising agent, and because coconut flour holds fluid in well, this is quite a good recipe to swap the egg for egg replacer to make MEWS free muffins.

Eat fresh from the oven, or freeze for later once completely cool. (If there are any left....!)

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