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!)

Ingredients
  • 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)
Method
  • 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. 


TIPS
  • 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)

Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  • 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!



Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Blueberry Muffins - Gluten Free

For a change - and in response to my gluten free son's pleadings I made "proper" Blueberry Muffins with buttermilk... but just substituted wheat flour for Dove's Farm Gluten Free flour.

They were very successful - the only problem was that the twins were not a little frustrated that they could not try them, click here for this is a safe recipe for them!



Makes 6-8 large muffins, or 9-10 cupcake sized muffins.

Ingredients

  • 175g/6oz plain flour (I used Dove's Farm)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 175g/6oz golden caster sugar
  • 175ml/6 fl oz buttermilk
  • 1 medium egg or egg replacer equivalent
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g/1 1/2 oz melted freefrom spread/fat of your choice
  • 150g/5 oz fresh blueberries

Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
  • Line a muffin tray (see above) with paper cases
  • Sift the flour into a bowl, add the baking powder (or use self raising) and sugar
  • In another bowl, beat the egg into the buttermilk, or add the egg replacer mix slowly to the buttermilk and beat in
  • Add vanilla extract to the "wet" bowl and pour into the dry ingredients.
  • Add the melted butter and mix with a fork - or slowly in a mixer.
  • Lastly gently stir in the Blueberries
Tip - toss these gently in a little flour before adding to stop them sinking in the muffins when cooking.
  • Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes until springy in the centre.



Leave in the trays for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Vegan Date Muffins - MEWS free!

My wonderful sister in law sent me the inspiration for these muffins, and since I am stuck in waiting for a washing machine engineer who cannot tell the time I decided to get backing.

I'm a bit of a novice baking egg free still, and I suspect my efforts are nothing like as good as hers, but this is her adapted recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's "It's All Good" Recipe Book. 




Ingredients

  • 2 cups Gluten free flour of your choice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 2 overripe bananas (great raising agent!)
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup almond milk or your choice of substitute
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates or dried fruit of your choice
  • walnuts/seeds/your choice or nothing to sprinkle on the surface before baking
Variation - You could combine a mixture of flours, and also replace a scoop with protein powder. My sister splits the 2 cups of flour into four quarter cups of brown rice flour, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat.

Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180C 400F
  • Combine all dry ingredients in bowl 1
  • Combine all other wet ingredients in bowl 2.
  • Thoroughly combine the contents of both bowls and spoon into (about 16) papercases.
Tip - toss the dried fruit in a spoonful of flour first, this prevents them sinking to the bottom of the muffins when cooking.

My efforts were good, but didn't rise quite as well. I suspect my mixture was a little dry - it needs to be a soft, dropping consistency. These are delicious though, and I can think of plenty of variations! Great for packed lunches too!


Link up your recipe of the week

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

ePetition to improve frontline care for those suffering from reflux and allergies

Readers of this Blog old and new will know only too well how poor the diagnosis and care of children with food allergy often is. We lag well behind other Western countries in our diagnosis and care of those suffering from allergies, and this is particularly shocking when you learn that the UK has the highest incidence of allergy in the world. Yes - in the WORLD.

Our rates of allergy - reported AND diagnosed/confirmed are soaring, particularly the rate of non IgE allergy. In babies and young children this often manifests as allergic gut with symptoms such as reflux and or motility problems. In the nearly seventeen years since I have been a parent of a child with such health problems there has been frighteningly little progress. 
(I have written about my reasons for setting this Blog up here. )



And what is MORE alarming is that when under-informed front line health professional blame the parents - or more often the mother. It is three and a half years since NICE published their extensive guidelines for Diagnosing and Treating Babies and Children with Allergy - and they clearly set out likely non IgE allergy symptoms - and contrast these with intolerances which are very different. Yet STILL our NHS is stuck in the Dark Ages and resources are misdirected.
 If you want to clue yourself up about the differences read this.

My children have multiple consultants when one Paediatric Allergist would most likely replace almost all of them. But the system prefers to crisis mange symptoms depending on their location in the body, rather than the underlying cause. Small wonder there is little funding left! 

Too many times I hear of families who are wrongly informed by so called professionals that their child cannot have a food allergy because skin prick tests are negative - this is incorrect, and yet it persists. 

Last Autumn I attended the All Party Group for Allergy at Westminster and heard more depressing statistics and how very far we have to go. But to my mind THE most important thing is that front line health professionals - Health Visitors, GPs etc have at least READ what is NOT new information. Is that really too much to ask??

Please, please sign this petition to help, too many mothers are blamed for symptoms their babies suffer because those they seek to ask for help fail them.



Thursday, 7 August 2014

Love Your Gut ahead of Gut Week (11th-17th August)

To mark this year's Gut Week (11th-17th August), digestive health campaign Love Your Gut reveals that behaviours, knowledge gap and lifestyle could be affecting the nation's health. The following report has been offered to The Recipe Resource to share.

Whilst covering issues beyond the remit of The Resource Resource it contains useful and insightful information!

The research was commissioned by Love Your Gut ahead of Gut Week (11th-17th August). For more information check out www.loveyourgut.com

The research has found some shocking facts including:
  • Millions of Brits are unaware that drinking, smoking and inactivity would increase the  risk of bowel cancer  
  • More than one third (36%) of Brits couldn't locate their stomach on a diagram of the digestive system  
  • Over half (62%) of Brits in a relationship would wait at least six months before talking about poo or pooing at their partner's house.
#LoveYourGut reveals a "toilet trauma" across the UK

To mark Gut Week (11 - 17 August), digestive health campaign Love Your Gut reveals that behaviours, knowledge gap and lifestyle could be affecting the nation's health


  • Over half (62%) of Brits in a relationship would wait at least six months before talking about poo or pooing at  their partner's house 
  • 91% of Brits have at least one concern about having a bowel movement in a public space
  • More than one third (36%) of Brits couldn't locate their stomach on a diagram of the digestive system
  • Millions of Brits are unaware that drinking, smoking and inactivity could increase the risk of bowel cancer
  • Over 40 million Brits worry about causing a smell when going to the toilet in a public place
  • Women are the worst culprits for social toilet activity, with almost one in four (23%) visiting social media sites whilst on the toilet.
Love Your Gut, a campaign that emphasises the importance of maintaining good gut health, has released the results of a UK survey which reveals a social taboo around toilet habits and a huge gap in knowledge when it comes to digestive health.
The Love Your Gut campaign is co-ordinated by Yakult UK Limited in association with leading digestive health charities the IBS Network and Core.

Behaviours
Research from Love Your Gut unveils a 'toilet trauma' across the UK, with 91% of people surveyed admitting to at least one concern about having a bowel movement in a public space. The most popular fear is causing a smell: based on our survey over 40 million1 Brits worry about this. Women are the most embarrassed, with almost three quarters (73%) citing this as a cause for concern, compared to just over half (54%) of the men surveyed.

The survey also found that around three quarters of Brits would not always be happy to use the toilet whilst shopping (74%), at the pub (74%) or at a friend's house (73%) and over half (62%) of Brits in a relationship would wait at least six months before talking about poo or pooing at their partner's house.

Dr Nick Read, physician, psychotherapist and Medical Adviser to the IBS Network says: "We should never ignore the urge to go to the toilet; regular bowel movements are completely normal and are important to maintaining good gut health."

Knowledge
As well as maintaining a healthy gut, Love Your Gut aims to raise awareness of possible symptoms of disease. Results show that almost a third (32%) of Brits wouldn't recognise obvious signs such as change in bowel habits that might indicate bowel cancer. In fact, two thirds (66%) of those surveyed admitted to regularly flushing the toilet without looking at their stools.

Dr Tom Smith, Chief Executive at Core says "Bowel movements are an essential part of everyone's health and we should all keep an eye on the frequency of bowel movement, colour of stools, shape and consistency. It's important to be consciously aware of changes in our routines, this helps us to identify any abnormal patterns and acknowledge symptoms much more easily."

The research also revealed a worrying lack of knowledge among participants' own bodies. More than one third (36%) of Brits couldn't locate their stomach on a diagram of the digestive system and only 36 per cent were able to pinpoint the small intestine. On a whole, men were the least gut savvy with just over one third (41%) labelling the gut correctly compared to over half (52%) of women.

Lifestyle
A worrying amount of participants were also not aware that their lifestyle choices can increase their chance of developing gut diseases including bowel cancer. Based on the survey, almost two thirds (62%) of people in the UK wouldn't realise alcohol can be a risk factor, while 72 per cent don't realise that smoking can be a factor and over half (59%) don't realise inactivity or being overweight can also be a risk factor.

Toilet Trivia
The survey also revealed some interesting toilet habits across the UK... Men are the most likely to take a phone call on the toilet, although this is not an uncommon practice as one in six (18%) surveyed admitted to this! Women are the worst culprits for social toilet activity with almost one in four (23%) visiting social media sites and nearly one third (30%) sending a text message whilst on the toilet.

More information on getting gut-friendly can be found at www.loveyourgut.com, including expert advice and tips, interactive quizzes and games and the latest gut-friendly recipes.

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