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.

  • 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.

  • 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....!)

Friday, 16 October 2015

Quick, protein-rich Autumn supper

It's been kind of busy here over the past few weeks, not least because my eldest is about to turn 18! Apart from making me feel old, it's meant I've had to spend considerable time planning a menu for his party that all the family can enjoy.

Being short on time can be useful though, since necessity is the mother of invention! I was stuck for an quick and easy after school tea this week, and needed something that was free from dairy, soya, wheat, gluten and meat since my daughter has trouble chewing and swallowing meat - and absolutely refuses to budge on her "no fish" decision! Here's what I came up with :-

Basically it's lots of root vegetables, peas, chickpeas, pulses and brown rice protein simmered with stock and seasoning over a slow heat like a soup. Then I added gluten free couscous to absorb the excess water. To prevent the broccoli going soft I added it at the end.


You could serve this on rice, pasta or potato, or on its own since the couscous provides the necessary carbohydrate. It would work really well in a warm food container for school lunches too, and will freeze well.

Monday, 14 September 2015

MEWS free Raisin Cookies

Following a plea from a friend who was seeking a reliable recipe for raisin cookies that were milk, egg, wheat and soy free, I spent this morning playing with ingredients to devise a recipe.

I'm quite pleased with the result, it's certainly delicious warm from the oven - but the cookies are more chewy in texture than the crumbly result i was hoping for. For the second batch I added some pear puree (this could easily have been banana for a similar result) which helped soften the biscuit texture. I used egg replacer today for an egg free cookie, but an egg - if allowed - might make these crumblier and more like regular cookies.

Makes 6
Dairy free, wheat free, gluten free, corn free, egg free, soya free


  • 55g/2 oz margarine - I used Stork hard block margarine, softened first.
  • 55g/2 oz caster sugar - you could try soft brown sugar for a "richer" taste
  • 110g/4oz SR free from flour (I used our Juvela prescription flour but often use Dove's Farm)
  • 1 tsp baking powder if the above flour is not self raising
  • 1 teaspoon egg replacer made up as instructed
  • 100g pear puree - if using a softer margarine reduce to 75g)
  • 60g/2-3 oz raisins
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Use a non-stick baking tray or line a tray with baking paper
  • Beat together sugar and margarine
  • Fold in the flour, baking powder (if using) and spices
  • Stir in the puree, add the raisins and combine.
  • Mix in the egg replacer as per instructions
  • Once the mixture is mixed well it will look like the first picture below.
  • Using a table spoon, spoon out the mixture onto the tray in cookie shaped areas, taking care not to place them too close together.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 15-18 mins
  • Allow to cool.

  • You can make double quantity but these may not keep well. 
  • There is no reason they cannot be frozen since they are more like cakes than biscuits - but I have yet to try doing so.
  • If you can use an egg instead of replacing it, beat it in after beating the sugar and margarine together, then fold in the flour.
I'll let you know the kids' verdict later!

Free From 


Gym Bunny Mummy

Monday, 3 August 2015

Free From Doughnuts!

Desperate to discover recipe for free from doughnuts that was really viable, Ann from our Facebook group adapted a gluten free recipe from Beth Hilson's article on "Gluten Free and More".


  • 1¼ cups Dove's Farm bread flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 7/8 cup potato starch 
  • ½ cup tapioca starch 
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon gram flour  
  • 4 teaspoons xanthan gum 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder 
  • 7 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast 
  • 1 ¼ cups warm coconut or rice milk of choice (or water) 
  • 170g Pure Sunflower margarine, melted 
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten OR Organ egg replacer for two eggs or pear puree for one
  • 4 cups vegetable oil (or more)  
  • Extra sugar, powdered sugar or cinnamon, optional

  • Place flours, granulated sugar, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and dry yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer. Beat briefly to combine.
  • Add milk alternative, margarine and eggs/replacement to dry ingredients. Beat for 5 minutes at medium speed.
  • Let dough rest for 20 minutes in a warm, draught free area.
  • Pipe onto tin foil and leave to prove in a warm place. (Airing cupboard is ideal!)
  • Using either a deep fryer or deep frying pan fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Whilst still warm sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

TIP :- To help form the donuts, shape them with plastic wrap that’s sprayed with vegetable oil.

You could also bake these but they might need icing instead of coating in sugar as the coating will not stick.

Pulsetta on the BBC

The Recipe Resource reviewed Pulsetta Crumbs at the end of last year and today heard that the company will be featured on a BBC programme this evening on the history of bread making in northern Scotland.

Pulsetta crumbs are unique in that they are made from pulses, so contain protein, no grains are therefore free from most major allergens, without gluten, milk, diary, or egg. This means Pulsetta can be enjoyed by vegetarians, vegans, and coeliacs. 

Check out BBC Alba tonight at 9pm  and thereafter on BBC iPlayer and the BBC website. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Free From Fridays Linky

This week I am co-hosting #Freefromfridays, a regular linky on featuring free from recipes from across the web.

Free From Farmhouse

Linkys are an excellent way for Bloggers to join together and make a bigger impact, and for readers to easily access more information and ideas beyond the single page they are reading. For me, it's a fantastic way to discover what everyone else is doing in the #freefrom world, and an excellent way to gain new ideas.

For example, I have never used Teff flour in my cooking. Last week Nicola at A Free From Life added her link of the week, for Chocolate Teff Shortbread.  As a result I have researched Teff flour and will be using it in baking myself!

What is Teff?

Teff is a tiny grain with BIG health benefits. The history of Teff can be traced back thousands of years, to ancient Abyssinia, and is mostly grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is naturally gluten free, has a nutty favour and is extremely nutritious. Teff has more calcium and iron than any other grain, and is also a good source of Vitamin C. It's made up of 20-40% "resistant starch" too, excellent for blood sugar regulation and colon health. We will definitely be giving it a try!

I was also attracted to the "Almond and Pea Protein Pastry" from last week, as I am constantly trying to pack as much protein in for my daughter, who because of food allergies and chewing difficulties is often low on protein in her diet.

So if you Blog about food, and have some #freefrom recipes to share, please join in!

How to join in #Freefromfridays:-

1. Write a new blog post including the Free From Fridays badge or add it an existing recipe (Just copy the code below the image and paste it on your page)

2. Add your post to the linky form by using the ‘Add your link’ button

3.  Leave a comment below and visit at least 2 other recipes to comment on

4. Tweet your link to @freefromfarm using hashtag #freefromfridays so I can spread the word! 

Please tweet me at @Twinsplustwo and Emma @freefromfarm using hashtag #freefromfridays so we can share your recipes across social media.

Free From Farmhouse

  • It would be useful if you can label the main allergens your dishes are free from in the linky title to help others search suitable recipes:-

    DF: Dairy Free 
    EF: Egg Free 
    GF: Gluten Free 
    SyF: Soya Free 
    SF: Sesame Free 
    NF: Nut free 
    PF: Peanut free 

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    Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list...

    Sunday, 12 July 2015

    Marmite or Chocolate? Picnic Pinwheels

    With another summer picnic on the horizon I trawled back through my recipes and found my recipe for Marmite Pinwheels. I decided to make two batches, one with safe chocolate spread and one with marmite! Can you guess which is which?

    Bizarrely, my little chocoholic preferred the marmite ones, my lover-of-all-things-savoury preferred the chocolate ones. They guessed pretty quickly too!

    These are best warm/fresh from the oven.

    Is Marmite Gluten Free?  

    Previously, Marmite was previously deemed to have only very low gluten levels and therefore be acceptable on a Coeliac diet - read here.

    Recent changes to the European Codex have ruled that foods labelled "Gluten Free" much contain less than 20ppm. Marmite falls slightly outside this limit.
    "Results have met the criteria for the old international Codex standard for “gluten free” (below 200ppm) and the recently introduced EU regulatory limit for “very low gluten” (less than 100ppm), but not the recently introduced EU regulatory limit for “gluten-free” (less than 20ppm)."
    So it's usually ok, and certainly my daughter tolerates it but including it needs to be an informed decision in discussion with your child's health professional.

    Friday, 10 July 2015

    Funky Giraffe Bibs - a Product Review & Giveaway!

    I was invited to review a selection of five bibs, and selected one personalised, one XL and three other regular bandana bibs. These were sent free of charge and I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own.

    Having struggled with infant reflux with all four of my children, I have always seen bibs as something of a necessity (something to buy in bulk!) rather than a luxury. Changing clothes constantly was exhausting, but could be reduced if copious absorbent bibs were to hand. My children were always sporting a bib, which I detested as usually they hid their clothes.

    In the past I've seen pretty bibs, but they rarely do the job if your child is refluxing all day. So when the Funky Giraffe company contacted me, asking if I would review their bibs, I had a read.... and responded with a very enthusiastic YES PLEASE!

    About Funky Giraffe

    Funky Giraffe was started by Yasmin during her maternity leave from the fashion company she worked for. Having a child shifted her priorities somewhat, and along with her brother (who runs the manufacturing side) they have launched Funky Giraffe to offer quality items at affordable prices. The bandana bibs came first, but have been followed by a range of hats, romper suits, burp clothes and other baby clothes.

    The current range includes :-

    Bandana bibs from £1.98
    Personalised Bandana bibs from £4
    XL bandana bibs from £3
    Burp cloths from £4
    Hats from £4
    Playsuits/rompers from £7

    Incredibly, post and packing is free, the full range of prices can be found on their website

    Funky Giraffe has sites across the world, so you can benefit from easy ordering wherever you are.

    For Australia visit 
    For France visit
    For Spain visit
    For Italy visit
    For the USA visit
    For Germany visit


    I was invited to review a selection of five bibs, and selected one personalised, on XL and three other regular bandana bibs. These were sent free of charge and I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own.

    About the bibs

    From Funky Giraffe -
    "We only use high quality cotton fabrics for our bibs and baby clothes. The bibs have a fleece backing, as after much experimentation we found this best at keeping baby's chest dry. They are shaped to fit around the neck without causing discomfort and have two sets of nickel free poppers. They are designed to last from birth to an age where they should normally not need them, the idea you only need to buy them once. " NB For older children there is an XL size if required.

    My thoughts

    Since my own children are long past infancy I have not been able to test these properly. However I can honestly say I am quite impressed. They are fairly thick and would definitely prevent immediate leakage through to the baby's chest - and even their clothes, and seem well made.  This is a significant improvement on most bibs on the market. I did feel however that the personalised bib was thinner than the others sent to me, and not such good quality. I think I would be a bit disappointed if this were the one I had paid more for.

    The neckline was soft, not tight but sufficiently close to the neck I felt to prevent dribble or milk disappearing down the back. The colours were lovely, strong and the personalised one didn't fade when I washed it. The second set of poppers is an excellent idea, providing they don't become stained or marked these bibs would definitely grow with your baby.

    What I particularly liked about the product was the versatility. Because they are inexpensive you can buy several to mix and match with your baby' clothes, so it looks like they are part of the overall outfit rather than a necessity to cover them up. I would have really valued them for my children when all I could find were baby blue or pink thin cotton bibs which were quickly soaked and obviously not chosen to team up with their clothes.

    STOP PRESS!! Originally I offered the three bandana bibs in the photo below in my giveaway, but the wonderful people at Funky Giraffe are now offering TEN as a prize!

    (These ten will be chosen by the company, but if anyone prefers the three in the photo below I will honour that. It's either 10 random ones or the three pictured below.)


    3 Funky Giraffe Bandana Bibs
    SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

    Thursday, 9 July 2015

    Quick, protein rich lasagne

    Dairy free, gluten free, wheat free, soya free, could be egg free

    Struggling for a quick and easy idea for tea, and inspired by a not dissimilar suggestion from our Facebook group, I made this.

    Basically I mixed a can of Amy's Spanish Rice and Red Bean soup with some quinoa, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a little free from couscous. (optional)

    Bring to the boil with enough water for the couscous and leave to cool. This is your "red lasagne sauce".  Now I was in a hurry so I didn't make a white sauce, just layered with free from pasta, finishing with a layer of breadcrumbs for a crispy topping. Then bake. It freezes really well, and the leftover sauce is great with rice, on a jacket potato or with pasta!

    Only eight more weeks of rushing around like a loon until term starts, this is set to be a favourite speedy supper here!

    Monday, 29 June 2015

    Swiss Roll

    This gluten, wheat, dairy and soya free masterpiece was actually made by my thirteen year old son! He came home from school with it today and wowed his siblings who couldn't believe their luck!!

    • 3 eggs
    • 75g your choice of free from self raising flour, preferably not just rice flour. 
    • 75g caster sugar 

    • Grease and line a 23cm x 30cm/9in x 12in Swiss roll tin 
    • Preheat oven to 200c (180C for Fan)
    • Whisk eggs and sugar together until they are a pale white bubbly texture.
    • Sieve the flour and fold it in. (Harry says this must be done in a figure of eight :)  )
    • Pour it on the baking tray and bake for ten minutes
    • Lift it out using the sides of the paper and leave to cool
    • Sprinkle caster sugar onto another piece of baking paper, and carefully transfer the cake
    • Spread with jam, roll up using the paper to help and hold in place for a few seconds until it retains its shape.
    • Dust with icing sugar and serve!

    Free From Farmhouse

    Saturday, 13 June 2015

    Carrot Cake

    This is a regular carrot cake recipe which I adapted to make it gluten free, dairy free and soya free. I needed to find a tasty way of using up my Carrot Spaghetti which I was delighted to find in Tesco the other day, and it worked a treat!

    Although the cake recipe is not free from as many top allergens as I would like for inclusion here, I was completely thrilled with my finds in Tesco. For seriously restricted kids, whose main nutritional needs are covered by amino acid based elemental formula, both the carrot and courgette spaghetti they now stock in their larger stores offer a real increase in variety for many. They also have diced veg packs, which for someone like me who cooks in bulk, are like finding an extra hour in the day!

    So, here is my carrot cake recipe, which went down very well here! It was a little crumbly on top which made neat cutting difficult but fine throughout the body of the cake. Moist but not soggy.


    • 125 g Dove's Self Raising Flour, or your own choice (but probably not just rice flour alone)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon 
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 175ml vegetable oil
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 175g carrot spaghetti chopped first with scissors (or grated carrot)
    • 60g chopped walnuts (optional)
    • Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4
    • Grease/line a 7" round cake tin
    • Stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and sugar
    • Add the oil and eggs until fully mixed
    • Stir in carrot and nuts
    • Bake for 25 minutes

    You will see I haven't used any frosting. This is partly due to the already high sugar content of the cake, partly the lack of cream cheese alternative. It was really moist however and no one missed the additional layer! 

    Free From Farmhouse

    Link up your recipe of the week

    Friday, 5 June 2015

    Not waving, but drowning.

    Both The Times and The Telegraph are today running stories on concern over middle class children being starved due to misplaced parental concern over food allergies. Clearly this article has been shared between both newspapers but what concerns me is the complete lack of medical advice or concrete information on the subject amongst the sweeping accusations made. Whilst loosely based on the collaborative report in Sense About Science  on Allergy, it's just another scaremongering article which belongs in the gutter press and helps no one. Indeed, the original report, whilst more balanced, still neglects to described the non IgE food allergies so many - including my family - suffer from.

    I'm sure there is some genuine cause for concern, and it's true to say that more affluent parents are more likely to fall foul of the latest food fad since a)they have more money to spend on their children and therefore have greater choice and b) possibly more time to consider the options. (A child in my daughter's class is "allergic" to sandwiches, but eats cakes and biscuits with wheat in...) Certainly middle class tooth decay is no myth, as one comedian observed in his comment on raisins being "middle class crack for kids" our obsession with meeting the "Five a Day" guidelines led many to unwittingly feed their children frequent fruit snacks which were so full of sugar that the incidence of tooth decay soared amongst children of the better off.

    The Gwyneth Paltrow's of this world do little to help, and the media should know better than to support the celeb drive for fashionable exclusion diets. Convinced that they "feel healthier" off wheat, gluten or whatever the latest craze is, they apply the same warped logic to their children, thus controlling their diet too. In a world where fast food is ubiquitous and many children are overweight- even obese - I can see they might find this attractive, but they would receive no medical support for this. Perhaps the media should focus their attention specifically on such a group, striving to enlighten and advise rather than tar all allergy parents with the same brush? The way to avoid indiscriminate attacks like today's articles is to write responsibly and include a little factual information at least somewhere in your piece - either that or write for the Daily Mirror...

    I wrote here about Free From foods not being a Lifestyle choice - and for many they most certainly are not. Eating "freefrom" food is not a lifestyle choice for the vast majority who do so, it's a no-alternative, medically imposed way of life and to suggest otherwise is both ignorant and offensive. What is really crucial here, is explaining the difference between systemic IgE allergies, and non IgE allergies. They are both allergies, both involve the immune system and neither is an intolerance. Despite being detailed in the NICE guidelines of February 2011 most doctors are still ignorant of  Non IgE responses to food proteins, still confusing them with intolerances which involve sugars.

    The difference is that non IgE patients don't risk their lives on a one-off encounter with a protein they react to. The reaction will be slower, possibly delayed and more insidious. You can read about it here but the main symptoms are likely to be as follows:-

    IgE (systemic) allergy

    non IgE (local) reaction

    Most frustrating of all, YOU CANNOT TEST FOR NON-IGE ALLERGIES. So there might be no initial reaction, no "waving" - but the sufferer is still "drowning" - having an allergic reaction under the surface.

    So I cannot prove to you, here and now, that my daughter reacts horribly to soya. But come and spend a couple of days with us and watch and THEN I can demonstrate to you how she suffers. Telling me she is not allergic because you watched her eat something with soya in and she didn't stop breathing is down to ignorance - not prejudice, and the media should act responsibly and add some degree of education in its articles to avoid perpetuating this awful situation. 

    My kids have EGID - Eosinophilic Disease. If they eat food their body has a local reaction to then inflammation occurs in the gut. Basic bodily functions such as digestion, absorption and defecation don't happen as nature intended. And that's the VERY short version. EGID is a very unpleasant, poorly understood, emergent disease, with other unpleasant symptoms beyond the gut. It often goes with other disorders too, Hypermobility Syndrome, EDS and (as is increasingly noted) Autism. We have the full house here. For the EGID side of things we are dairy, soya, wheat, gluten free and on minimal egg, beef and other foods. One of my kids used to be tube fed and without a strict exclusion diet he was heading towards bowel surgery due to chronic inflammation and resultant nerve damage.. And we are the lucky ones - I know far too many children who cannot eat at all - some whom the media, in particular the Daily Mail - seek to advertise as rare and bizarre anomalies. Sadly their numbers are dramatically increasing.

    For reasons unknown to current researchers and health professionals there is a cluster of cases of this formerly rare disease in the Home Counties and London, and again, for unknown reasons vitamin deficiencies often PRECEDE this condition. There is current research into Vitamin D levels and gut allergies, which needs further funding - which is going to be less likely when such drivel is written in the media. Less than 1% of ALL research funding goes on gastrointestinal conditions, NONE on paediatric gastrointestinal conditions - despite health professionals widely acknowledging that children with chronic gastrointestinal diseases having the poorest quality of life of all chronically sick children.

    So whilst there might be some incidence of middle class over reaction to food allergies, just as you would not publish a thesis without some research and a decent evidence base, no health article should be based on hearsay either. The media needs to start exercising some responsibility for what they publish.  Articles like this trivialise serious conditions like Eosinophilic Disease instead of educate their readers on how to seek advice if they suspect their child has a problem with a certain food.  We need greater awareness (see here) with accurate information which would not only make misunderstanding less likely, but offer greater community to support to those really suffering.

    Wednesday, 3 June 2015

    Lemon and Blueberry Muffins

    Here at The Recipe Resource we like our muffins, and blueberry ones in particular. I am constantly tweaking the recipes I use, trying to find that authentic muffin flavour whilst excluding as main of the main allergens as possible. These do have eggs in, but you could swap them for egg replacer since the banana provides additional raising agent. 

    Gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, soya free, corn free, nut free, could be egg free


    • 275g / 10 oz safe flour (I used Dove's Farm SR blended gluten free flour)
    • 1 1/2 tsp Baking powder  (omit if you used self raising flour)
    • 125g / 4oz Caster sugar
    • 2 medium eggs
    • 275mls/ 9fl oz safe milk substitute - I used rice
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
    • 2 tsp lemon juice
    • 1 medium ripe banana
    • 75g / 3oz melted and cooled vegetable spread (I used Pure Sunflower)
    • 150g / 5oz fresh blueberries

    • Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400F /Gas Mark 6
    • Sift flour, baking powder (if needed) and stir in sugar
    • In a second bowl beat the eggs (or prepare replacer), milk substitute and vanilla essence. 
    • Mash a banana with a fork and add to the wet mixture
    • Add lemon juice (not before or eggs will curdle)
    • Make a well in the dry bowl and pour in the wet ingredients. (Or mix it all in your mixer)
    • Combine well and stir blueberries in with a fork to prevent breaking them.
    • Spoon into muffin trays (makes 12) and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and firm.

    Best eaten warm on the day of baking -  doubt these will last long here, they are very nice!

    Saturday, 16 May 2015

    3 Ingredient Pineapple Cake

    I couldn't believe it when someone share this recipe on the Facebook Recipe Resource wall. I mean, we've tested and adapted a couple of brilliant and really simple cake recipes, but this one tops the lot!! For those unfortunate enough to be allergic to pineapple, stewed brambly apples would work pretty well and I plan to test that soon.

    This took a minute to whizz up, 50 minutes to bake and much less for the troops to demolish. There is NONE left. Can't be bad, eh?


    • 2 cups your choice of self raising flour - I used Dove's Farm
    • 1 cup caster sugar
    • 1 440g (large) can of crushed pineapple - or blend a can of sliced pineapple like I did.
    • Blend the pineapple chunks or slices if required. KEEP all the juice, do NOT drain it off
    • Combine all three ingredients well and transfer to a alb loaf tin
    • Bake at 180C (170C in a fan oven) for 50 minutes.
    That's IT. 

    I doubt it would keep well, but to be honest there wasn't much need here!! One of the best egg free cakes I've come across.

    Why we need a culture shift on medical research in children - for Eosinophilic Awareness Week

    Yesterday BBC News reported that the Nuffield Council on Bioethics called for “a culture shift in medical research to make sure children can take part.”

    I’m sure many would have the (understandable) knee jerk response that using children as guinea pigs isn’t top of their list for culture change, the more extreme response I heard on social media was that this group advocated using children as “lab rats”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Most new medicines today are designed for adults, with adults as the target user group. Not only does this mean children are faced with fewer options for treatment but doctors have to guess the appropriate paediatric dose for these medicines. Worse still, fewer drugs are licensed for children - and only tertiary level care can prescribe drugs for children without a paediatric license, and then at their own risk. The licensed drugs are not necessarily safer just because they have been around a while either - medical research and knowledge moves fast, the older drugs often give an inferior form of treatment.

    Perhaps most worrying is that children break down drugs at a different rate to adults so doctors are really basing their paediatric dose on guess work. The risks involved potential more than outweigh any considered risk of participating in research. You might think this only affects a small percentage of people - but you would be very wrong, and it’s something we are acutely aware of here.

    Three of my children have Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease, which as an “emergent disease” doesn’t have a clearly defined treatment protocol. Treatment usually comprises of symptom management and a few more risky options for the worst affected. For their reflux, all three are on proton pump inhibitors. At the maximum dose - and have been for YEARS. There is no license for that, no data for long term use in children, so we agonise regularly over the decision to keep them on these medicines. Then there are the pain medicines - the dosage difficult to titrate and resulting in neutropenia (low white blood cell count) and other health risks.

    Next week is Eosinophilic Awareness Week, a debilitating condition involving non IgE allergic responses to food and environmental proteins, now thought to be autoimmune in nature. You can read about EGID here and on the FABED charity site here.

    So this BBC news article was really relevant to us.

    Gastro research is drastically UNDER FUNDED. It is not "glamorous" and rarely on the radar for celebrities and focus groups, and rarely attracts public interest unlike cardiac care and cancer research. Gastro conditions are badly neglected in the UK when it comes to research funding allocation but without research treatment and outcomes are not likely to improve much.

    Approximately 1% of the total amount of medical research funding available in the UK can be accessed for Gastro research. There are currently no listed projects specifically for Eosinophilic Disorders on the National Research database. Gt Ormond Street Hospital have a Gastro Research Project that will include related conditions/problems and FABED is the main UK charity supporting families with members (adult and children) who suffer from eosinophilic disease.

    FABED are also the UK partners supporting the United States Eosinophilic Awareness Week next week, coordinated by APFED. Two years ago they made this video to promote awareness. Read more about Eosinophilic Diseases here.

    So next week, do something to raise awareness. Tell someone about EGID and the appalling lack of funding for gastrointestinal disorders in the UK. Discuss the ethics of testing drugs on children and don't make knee jerk responses to new reports. Because as Prof Modi said this week: "Of course decisions involving children are never easy, but this should not be an excuse for inaction; the danger of not developing the evidence base is far greater than the risks of recruiting young people to well-run, carefully regulated programmes."

    Tuesday, 5 May 2015

    Crunchy Millet Flapjack/Granola style Biscuits

    Once again our Facebook Group has come up trumps and member Livy Dickinson has created a fab recipe for her daughter, who is on a few food diet.  Searching for something palatable, portable and safe she has come up with the following, a crunchy granola style bite (could be a bar) which is really tasty,


    • 250g Millet flakes 
    • 150g Coconut oil 
    • 125g Brown sugar 
    • 4/5 tbsp Golden syrup 
    • (2 tbsp dried blueberries- optional) 

    •  Simply combine and either spread in a tin (as in picture) or in paper cases/greased cupcake wells
    • Bake at 180C for approx 20mins @ 180. 

    These are hard/ solid/ crunchy, not soft and squidgy like usual flapjacks. They're very like Nature Valley Crunch bars in texture, so not suitable for very young children.

    Tuesday, 28 April 2015

    Homemade Granola

    My daughter decided she wanted to make her own granola, fed up with watching her older brother eating Country Crisp no doubt! I searched online for some ideas and we came up with this, but you can put pretty much whatever you like in! The main thing is to (mostly) coat the oats before baking.


    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 125ml maple syrup
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 300g gluten free rolled oats
    You really can add as many or as few of the following ingredients as you like. The above are essential, although I would reduce the oil and syrup slightly if omitting most of the seeds and berries.
    • 50g sunflower seeds
    • 50g pumpkin seeds
    • 100g raisins
    • 100g dried berries 
    • 50g desiccated coconut


    • Heat oven to 150C 
    • Mix the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. 
    • Tip in all the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit and coconut, and mix well. 
    • Tip the granola onto two baking sheets and spread evenly. 
    • Bake for 15 mins, then mix in the coconut and dried fruit, and bake for 10-15 mins more. 
    • Allow to cool
    • Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

    Wednesday, 22 April 2015

    Allergy Awareness Week and #livinginfear - top tips for teachers

    This week is Allergy Awareness Week and this year Allergy UK are focussing on the fear most people with severe allergies live in every single day of their lives.

    Did you know?

    BRITAIN is in the grip of a major allergy crisis, with millions of sufferers at risk of dying because of a terrifying lack of life-saving awareness among the public? And those not at risk from life threatening allergic reactions are living compromised lives in fear of chronic pain and illness?

    Allergy UK are raising awareness of the fears of allergy sufferers this week and are asking people to get involved on Twitter. You can join the awareness campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #livinginfear and tweeting a picture of yourself with your biggest fear. My allergies are hugely restricting though and have had a massive impact on my life- and continue to do so. But as a mum, my biggest fears are for my children, who are more profoundly affected by allergy. 
    So here's my photo:-

    Children with food allergies can feel isolated in school as well as elsewhere. So much of their lives, of our society revolves around sharing food. And as with children who suffer from disabilities or chronic illness children with food allergies often lack independence. Food is a basic human need, but for kids with food allergies this basic daily task is fraught with anxiety and the need for constant vigilance. It’s also a fundamental step in growing up to gradually sever the feeding bond with your mum, but imagine if your mum was the only person you could trust to feed you? It’s pretty restricting. My nine year old twins rely on me totally for their food, school cannot cater for them and neither it seems can anywhere else. They are most definitely very “attached” to me still, and I now understand why. (You can read more about food allergy and independence here.)

    Isolation in school is a particular concern for me, my children are mostly well accommodated in school but cannot participate in cooking sessions, many trips, school lunches etc and constantly feel "different". Other parents are anxious about inviting them home to play as food is such an integral part of entertaining, and consequently they feel even more isolated in school.

    So here are my "Top Tips" for teachers (I was one once too!) to help reduce isolation in school:-
    1. Plan ahead. Most mums of kids with allergies will bend over backwards to help their child and will be only too happy to provide ingredients, advice and reassurance. (Just don’t contact them late the night before you are baking to request a list of ingredients!)

    2. Listen. Mums really do know their children best and are usually just following instructions from health professionals. Whilst there are undoubtedly a few who are over anxious and possibly ill-informed the vast majority will have genuine concern and want to keep their child safe - whilst not wanting to restrict the enjoyment of any other child in the class.

    3. Keep food treats in school to a minimum, or (as our children’s teachers did) plan ahead and ask for a safe treat for the allergic child.

    4. Ensure safety doesn’t stop fun. It’s vital all children are safe in school, but that doesn’t mean children cannot have fun. Safety must also be age appropriate too. So at age nine my twins can cope with baking something they know they must not eat, but are supervised when they do. A Reception age child could never cope with this! Similarly, making the child who carries an Epipen for a dairy allergy your class milk monitor isn’t a very wise idea!! (It happened to us though!)

    5. Avoid making the child who IS different feel different. Pretty obvious, but subtlety is key. Substituting safe chocolate in the class advent calendar and making a note of the date for the allergic child to take it is far, far better than leaving them to come to you to swap their treat in front of others.

    6. Food still needs to be fun though, and even children with allergies need positive experiences with and around food. You can substitute many ingredients easily, there are recipes for children on exclusion diets on The Recipe Resource ( and lots of other sites too!

    7. Tackle the “Healthy Eating” message tactfully. With recent research to demonstrate that fats are not always the bad guys, the message is becoming slightly blurred anyway, but children with food allergies are missing important proteins from their diet, and often important fats too. Our twins were wisely told by a senior dietician that they need plenty of fatty foods like chips, and oils like olive and hemp oil in their diet as they are dairy free (amongst other things) and miss the natural fats present in dairy food.

    8. Don’t judge. I was once asked why there were concerns about my daughter’s growth when she was clearly very chubby, and that she looked really healthy. Children are all different, but children with food allergies, especially the non IgE ones are prone to poor growth. Poor absorption leads to poor growth - and the body needs to gain mass before it is able to grow upwards. My kids were short and chubby for a long time, sadly it wasn’t a sign of health at all. It’s stressful enough as a parent to navigate life with a child with food allergies, judgement from others is hard to take.

    9. Expect to see more of the parents of kids’ with food allergies. They are not overly fussy, and need reassurance as much as their children. They are your best allies for a smooth year with an allergic child in your class, and dislike being the “bad penny” often feeling embarrassed ad in the way. Any reassurance is much appreciated!

    10. Educate. Obviously - you’re a teacher :) But a tiny bit of knowledge for the allergic child’s peers goes a long way to helping them feel one of the class. There is a simple explanation aimed at Key Stage 1 children here.

    Allergies have a serious impact on sufferer's lives, and they are certainly life changing, but we can and should limit the fear they live in. Unfortunately the current situation is almost unbearable for some, and as the excellent article in The Guardian last week explains ignorance about allergy is not helping. This is why awareness is key.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015

    Easter Biscuits

    It's the Easter holidays - and it's blowing a gail, with the odd hailstorm thrown in for good measure. All my children want to do when at home is make things, so today we made our favourite shortbread biscuits and decorated them for Easter!

    That was my first attempt... then the twins decided to have a go, and the bunnies multiplied, as bunnies are apt to do!

    Happy Easter! And if your little ones want to know more about Easter, its traditions and get some art and craft ideas, pop over to see Dorothy of more fun!
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