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Allergy safe cauliflower ‘cheese’ with a twist…

Cauliflower 'cheese'

It’s the beginning of the Easter holidays here, and true to form, the weather has been somewhat disappointing. Visions of letting Chloe and Callum play in the garden, long walks round the village, trips to the park, bike rides and more…. all have been put on hold due to the heavy rain and very strong winds!

When it comes to weather like this, nothing beats comforting food.

There’s quite a few recipes that spring to mind when you think of comfort food, such as lasagne, toad in the hole, or pizza, or warming soup. One that is often forgotten, but always very much enjoyed is cauliflower cheese!

With Callum’s allergies, it’s not just a simple case of making the ‘classic’ recipe, we’ve had to be clever at accommodating the dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, nut-free elements, which can sometimes leave it tasting quite bland.

So, after various different attempts, I’ve come up with this lovely recipe which has become a big hit in our house!

You will need

  • 1 large cauliflower, washed and cut into little florets
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pack of unsmoked bacon lardons
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2oz (60g) dairy-free spread (such as pure or vitalite)
  • 2 tbsp. gluten-free flour (such as Doves)
  • 21fl oz (600ml) dairy-free milk (such as Oatly, Koko, Soya)
  • 2 tbsp. dairy-free soft cheese (such as Violife,or  supermarket own soya soft cheese)
  • Pinch of paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 180c/340f and grease a roasting tray.

In a large saucepan, add the prepared cauliflower, and pour water over the top, ensuring the cauliflower is covered. Bring to the boil and then simmer over a medium heat for 12-15 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Drain when ready.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, add the onion and lardons and gently fry over a medium heat until the onion has softened and the lardons are turning a golden colour. Add the crushed garlic, stir in and fry for 1 minute before removing from the heat.

In a saucepan, add the dairy-free spread and melt over a medium heat. Once melted, add the gluten-free flour, and stir until well combined. Remove from the heat, and gently add the dairy-free milk a little bit at a time, stirring continuously to ensure there are no lumps. Return to the heat and continue to stir continuously until thickened to desired consistency. Add the dairy-free ‘cheese’ and continue to stir until melted. Add the paprika, salt and pepper and stir well before removing from the heat.

Add the cauliflower to the prepared roasting tray, followed by the onion and bacon lardons mix and stir until well combined. Pour over the ‘cheese’ sauce, and give the tray a little shake to ensure the sauce has covered everything.

Place the tray in the pre-heated oven and roast for around 15 minutes until the top has started to turn a golden colour.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving. We chose to serve it with homemade chips and fresh crispy salad.

Enjoy!

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Allergy safe Easter eggs…

With Easter quite literally just around the corner, thoughts are turning to chocolate! Everywhere you look, shops are full to the brim of colourful, bright and yummy looking chocolate Easter eggs and sweets!

That’s fab if you can eat them, but what about if you suffer with allergies? Going shopping with the little dude in tow over the past few weeks has been heart-breaking. Every time he sees any Easter eggs, his first comment:

‘mine can’t eat them, make me sick!’

My poor boy!!

So, I have trawled the local supermarkets (Tesco & Sainsbury’s) to see what, if any, allergy safe alternatives are on offer. I did the same last year, and was very disappointed as any that were made specifically for the allergy market were in a boring and non-descript box.

Not very appealing for a toddler!

This year, I have been pleasantly surprised, as there is quite a large selection available. And even some of the more mainstream chocolate suppliers have some suitable options!

Some of the allergy specific options are pricier than the mainstream ones, but actually, to have a safe, tasty and available alternative is good enough for me!

The chocolate options:

After Eight – although young children may not be so keen on the mint! Callum quite liked it though!

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Lindt - quite a dark chocolate, but not too bitter

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Divine chocolate - only the dark chocolate version is suitable!

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Choices – one of Callum’s all time favourites, he always asks for this if he sees it!

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Sainsbury’s free from - not bad, but you don’t want to be reminded that it’s a ‘free from’ egg! More cheerful packaging would be far better!

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Kinnerton – another of Callum’s favourites, and one that I use a lot in recipes as it is very stable! Callum is a big fan of the chocolate lollipops, I really recommend them, and he does too!

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Moo Free - another firm favourite with Callum! Last year we found the honeycomb egg for him, and he thought it was fab! And the packaging is child friendly too, happy days!

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The sweets options:

If you’re really not sure about the chocolate, there are some lovely sweet options available! We use these to fill plastic colourful eggs to create our own ‘safe’ Easter egg hunt that everyone can enjoy!

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We hope this post helps you a bit in your search for the perfect Easter treat! :)

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Allergy safe bread…

bread 1If there’s one thing that Callum always asks for, it’s bread! There’s nothing he loves more than a slice of bread with some homemade jam, or smothered in dairy-free butter to dunk in homemade soup.

The trouble is, when you need to be dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, it is really really hard to find bread that is tasty and that doesn’t cost the earth!!

The only one I have found so far is DS ciabatta rolls. Pretty much everything else has egg in it.

That is, until I found ‘Helen’s Brilliant Bread Mix’, which was on special offer when I went to do the weekly shop at the local supermarket. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try!

The method does call for the use of 1 egg, so I chose to use Orgran egg replacer in the hope it would work.

Callum wanted to be a part of the experiment, so we got to work following the instructions on the packet, beating the Orgran, adding the vegetable oil and milk, and then the bread mix, stirring until well combined. Then turning out into a prepared loaf tin, and then putting in the oven to bake.

bread 2The whole process took a matter of minutes, unlike the usual baking process of mixing, kneading, proofing, kneading some more, and then proofing some more before baking.

It was really simple, and Callum had great fun!

35 minutes of baking later, and we had our bread.

bread 3It didn’t rise as much as I expected, but I’m guessing that had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t use actual egg. I will try it again with egg to see if it makes much difference, to cure my curiosity more than anything!

Callum wasn’t fussed, he was just really pleased to have actual ‘safe’ bread that tasted quite scrummy!

Overall I’m quite impressed! It really was a quick and simple process, and in under an hour you get bread that is edible and doesn’t cost the earth! I just need to figure out how to make it rise more, to compensate for the lack of egg.

bread 4

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Great Comic Relief Bake Off!….

Nat RNDWhat better excuse is there to create scrummy treats than to also make them to help raise lots of money for a great cause!

Red Nose Day 2015 is here, and I’m sure lots of you will be baking treats for your little ones to take to school for a cake stall at the end of the day! And, if you’re anything like me, as the theme is ‘funny faces’, I’ve also baked whilst trying to keep my ‘red nose’ on the whole way through. NOT easy!! But lots of fun! And it made Callum giggle, a LOT!

Chloe’s school is hosting a cake stall this afternoon, and I thought I would do 2 different recipes, both of which are allergy safe – which means the little dude doesn’t miss out!

I also bought the cupcake cases from Sainsbury’s as part of their Red Nose Day merchandise as a large portion of the money spent goes direct to Comic Relief!

Happy days all round!

The first is the classic crispie cakes, a firm favourite for all the family, but given an allergy safe twist. And the second is another classic, a simple sponge fairy cake, with a cherry ‘red nose’, again, totally allergy safe!

DSC_0365Chocolate Crispie Cakes

You will need:

  • 200g dairy-free chocolate (I used Kinnerton)
  • 50g dairy-free spread (I used a stork bar)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 120g rice crispies

Add the chocolate, spread and maple syrup to a large bowl, and melt in 30 second bursts in the microwave until fully melted, taking care not to overcook!

Add the rice crispies and stir until well combined.

Using 2 spoons, place in cupcake cases, pressing down gently so that it becomes compact and sticks together when setting.

Leave to set (if you can wait that long!)

Enjoy!

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Funky Fairy Cakes

You will need:

  • 4oz golden caster sugar
  • 4oz dairy-free spread
  • 4oz gluten free self raising flour (I used Doves)
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 10ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs (I used orgran egg replacer)
  • 2-3 drops vanilla essence

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c/360f and prepare a cupcake tray with cases.

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl, and mix until well combined and you have a smooth batter. Don’t over mix or the cupcakes won’t rise very well!

Fill the cupcake cases to 2/3 and then place in the oven.

Cook for 12-16 minutes, until the cupcakes are a golden brown and springy to touch.

Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before decorating.

We chose to decorate with glacé icing and a cherry for a ‘red nose’

Enjoy!