Self catering in Nerja Costa del Sol 

We weren’t very lucky with the weather on our Uk summer holiday this year so booked a week in Spain for the October half term in an attempt to find some sunshine before winter descends. This was only our third trip abroad as a family, my son has multiple food allergies, asthma & eczema and the the thought of travelling at all can be overwhelming so travelling abroad was a huge step for us. We had a successful trip to the Algarve last Summer and a week in the Costa Del Sol in October last year so we felt confident we could manage it.

When you are deciding what to pack and how many bags to pay for on your flight bear in mind how heavy emollients and safe toiletries/sunscreens are! We managed with two 22kg bags in the hold but it was a challenge! 

In preparation I baked up a storm (muffins, brownies, biscuits and wraps) I try and carry safe food for the length of the journey plus one extra meal and spare snacks. I also pack safe bread/rolls, cereal  and chocolate. If you have space a small cool bag in your suitcase with dairy free cheese is not a bad plan! Handy to have the cool bag on holiday for picnics. Be aware children always eat way more than you anticipate when travelling! Remember you’ll need safe options for the journey home also. 

My husband programmed all relevant destinations into the sat nav. For us that was the villa we were staying in, local supermarkets and the nearest hospitals in Malaga and Nerja. We had our allergen Spanish translations from our last trip. I’m now fluent in allergens in English, Portuguese and Spanish! When we shop I look for allergens on the packaging then when we get back to the villa (and wifi!) I google every single ingredient before we eat anything! 

Last year we flew to Malaga with Ryanair but the flight from Edinburgh gets in late in the evening on a Saturday when supermarkets are closed, they are also closed on Sundays and as there was a local festival on the main local supermarkets were also closed on the Monday!! Not good for any allergy mum’s sanity!! There is however a 24hr garage on the outskirts of Nerja where you can buy basic provisions for travellers without special dietary requirements if you do arrive late. 

There are also small touristy shops open in Nerja on Sundays which you can hopefully see marked on this map left for us by our holiday rep. 

Last year Ryan air were excellent with regards to our son’s nut allergy. They made a very clear announcement on board asking passengers not to eat any products containing nuts that they had brought with them and they did not sell any nuts or anything containing nuts during the flight. 

This year we flew from Newcastle with EasyJet. I was very impressed with the service pre flight, we had informed them of our son’s nut allergy, you can do this on their website before travelling,and there was a clear note on their system documenting it. I spoke to the stewardess  in charge when we boarded and she reassured me she would make an announcement and that they would not serve nuts. Interestingly they seem to offer two options. Not serving nuts in your immediate vicinity and not serving nuts. We went for not serving nuts. Unfortunately despite all this the cabin staff ‘forgot’ and sold snack boxes containing cashew nuts. The woman next to my husband bought one (same row as my boy, other side of aisle) and he overheard the stewardess realising she shouldn’t have sold it and the steward answering that he had also been selling them. When I went to the front of the plane and brought it to the senior stewardess attention she rushed back and asked the woman next to my husband not to eat them then looked looked me straight in the eye and said it was ok, she had heard the announcement and just eaten the seeds. Clearly not aware my husband had watched her eating them!! Now in this situation we were fine, my son did not come to any harm but it is not ok to say you’ll do everything in your power for a safe flight for a passenger then ‘forget’. Appalling. I’m pleased to report our flight back was managed much better. Different crew who could tell me exactly were my son was sitting and ensured it was a nut free flight. They did ask if he had epipen before they decided to go completely nut free. These are the snacks available on board that contain nuts…

That was our only stress thank goodness. We arrived in Malaga at lunchtime, picked up our hire car and drove to the Eroski supermarket in the El Ingenio shopping centre in Velez Malaga which was about half an hour’s drive from the airport and halfway to our Villa. We did a big shop, if you plan to buy lots of groceries while also carrying all of your luggage hire a big car!! We knew the kids wouldn’t be keen to go back out once we reached the villa and the pool and luckily we fit everything in. 

If you are dairy and soya free your options are limited. You can buy rice, almond, oat  and coconut milk and dairy free spread but yoghurts and desserts were all soya based or lactose free.  The only cheese option I spotted was lactose free but still contained milk. Lactose free seems much more common and widely available than dairy free. Take care even with soya yoghurts as the natural own brand yoghurts I bought in Eroski (for me) had a may contain traces of nuts and milk on the label. 

It’s quite a challenge to find cooked meat that does not contain milk or soya. I recommend buying a couple of packets if you spot a safe option! These are some that we found. 

Eroski stocked some gluten free baked goods including Schar baguettes but no safe biscuit options for us. They had Gullon Maria biscuits which are free from gluten, milk, egg, nuts and soya but alas contain pea which my son is allergic to. 

We bought enough for 3 nights simple meals. We keep it basic on holiday, meals like  grilled meat, salads and baked potatoes and packed lunches of rolls, crisps & fruit. We bought Lays salted and salt & vinegar crisps which were ok for us. 

Our villa was up the hill from Nerja on the outskirts of Frigiliana and it was gorgeous! We booked through Villa plus as we have used them before and have been very impressed with the service and quality of accomadation. It had a lovely modern well equipped kitchen and a large fridge and freezer which was ideal for our needs. I travel with my own chopping board and we wash everything before we use it and avoid any kitchen equipment I don’t like the look off! Our villa was a Very villa plus so came with a starter pack, we knew this but shopped anyway as we have very specific dietary requirements! 

Starter pack

Lovely kitchen

Our second shop later in the week was at the Mercadona in Nerja. This is a fairly small supermarket compared to the big U.K. Ones but we were able to buy what we needed and they sell basic gluten free products. These are not in a dedicated section but spread out throughout the store. 

Again quite an emphasis on soya but there were other dairy free milks available. We bought this dairy free spread which was available in both supermarkets. 

They had one loaf of gluten free bread. No good for my son as it contained egg. 

We were staying at the quieter end of the Costa del Sol. The busy more tourist orientated end is a whole different story! We visited the Sea life centre in Benalmadena (about an hour’s drive from Nerja) on our one rainy day and despite not needing groceries I asked nicely to pop into a supermarket for a nosey. Oh my goodness. The Carrefour supermarket in Torreminolinos is amazing!! My husband just laughed at my excitement! Says something that checking out a supermarket is something I’d do for fun on holiday. Anyway, check out the highlights! 

Such a thrill finding Moo free chocolate bars! I didn’t see any other dairy free chocolate on holiday. I also bought these biscuits which my son loved!

We didn’t eat out on holiday, I’m still working up the courage to do that and the language barrier scares me. I need to work on my Spanish! We did buy ice lollies out and about. 

We had a lovely break and the sunshine and scenery was gorgeous!  Nerja is at the quiet end of the coast and October is low season but my kids are content with a pool to play in and books and their electronics. Burriana beach is a lovely spot but the sand is very gritty/stony for tender footed (fussy!) children. Did I mention the scenery?

Nutribrex biscuits 

I’m on a mission to come up with a plain biscuit style snack for my son to take to school for a play piece. Something a little more nutritious than just flour, sugar & fat. I’ve been using the basic shortbread recipe I like and mucking about with the ingredients. I really liked the ones I made with oatmeal and Sunbutter in them but alas he did not. Today’s effort was made using Nutribix. I’ve only made these once! I’m sharing at special request but I think they turned out pretty well.

Nutribrex biscuits

Makes approx 24 depending on size of cutters


50g Nutribrex (3 pieces)

175g plain gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

75g soft brown sugar

150g Stork block


Preheat oven to 180C

Blitz 3 Nutribrex in a food processor (or crush in a bowl) until fine

Add gluten free flour, xanthan gum, flax and sugar to the food processor and combine on a low speed (or stir well)

Chop Stork block into small squares and add to mix along with the vanilla

Blitz until breadcrumbs form and then pulse till the mix comes together (or cut into mix then knead gently till it comes together)

Turn mix out onto a well floured surface, I use baking parchment and squish together into a ball. Divide ball into two and squash down with your hand then roll with a well floured rolling pin (or just use the palm of your hand)

Cut out shapes and place on a baking tray. You may want to line your tray with baking parchment, I didn’t and a couple of my biscuits stuck! I made two trayfuls.

Bake for 8 minutes then rotate the tray and bake for a further 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a cooling rack. My hearts worked better than my stars as the points of the stars got a little crunchy.

Remember you’ve made them for your children and don’t eat them all before they come home from school!

Banana & avocado muffins

Banana muffins/loaves are a staple in our house. Great for breakfast, after school snack or with dairy free custard for pudding. This is a twist on my regular recipe in an attempt to get some healthy fat into my kids. We are a nut and butter free house which leaves our options limited. I’m a great believer in ‘if we’re not allergic to it we should try eating it’ unfortunately when it comes to avocado my kids point blank refuse. Honestly one bad experience with a ‘healthy’ avocado chocolate mousse….

Anyway I’ve discovered if I blend it so no green bits show my kids will cheerfully if unknowingly eat avocado. Just not in an unsweetened chocolate mousse. If your kids are fussy you need to blend it silly till completely smooth or they’ll spot that one teeny bit of green and freak out. 

Banana & avocado muffins

Makes 12 large muffins


2 cups plain gluten free flour.( I used one cup rice, 1/2 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup sorghum & 1/4 cup Teff but Doves farm plain gluten free flour works too. If you want to use self raising flour which often contains xanthan gum just omit it and the raising agents) 

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

2 ripe bananas

1 ripe avocado

1/2 cup sunflower oil (have also used coconut oil before)

1/2 cup Apple purée (I use baby fruit pots)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

Dairy free spread for greasing the tin

If desired –

1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips 

1/2 cup chopped dates 


Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 12 hole muffin tray

Measure flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda & cinnamon and sift into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. 

Chop the bananas and scoop out the avocado and blend together in a food processor (can mash together if green bits not an issue)

Once smooth add the oil then the apple purée and then the sugar. Finally mix in the cider vinegar. 

Pour wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and stir well. If using mix in the chocolate chips and dates. 

Distribute the mix evenly between the 12 holes. I find an ice cream scoop works really well for getting 12 even sized muffins. If you’d like a more rustic look you can spoon the mix in. 

Bake for 18 minutes and once the tray is cool enough to handle transfer the muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

We like to eat ours cut in half with some dairy free spread. They’ll keep for 3 days in an airtight container and also freeze well. 

Egg free flavoured meringues

The discovery that you could use the water from a tin of chickpeas as an egg replacer has been life changing. I had assumed as my son has a severe egg allergy that he would never get to taste meringue but aquafaba has changed that! My first successful attempts at egg free meringues were with this recipe from Lucy’s friendly foods and my kids were thrilled with the results. I’ve made them a few times now using flavoured icing sugar which works really well disguising the faint beaniness of the aquafaba. I made these ones as part of an afternoon tea using half the water (1/3 cup) from a tin of chickpeas for chocolate mousse and the other half for the meringues. The mousse is another of Lucy’s recipes and I highly reccomend it!

Egg free flavoured meringues


1/3 cup aquafaba (drain the water from a tin of unsalted chickpeas)

Pinch cream of tartar

Pinch xanthan gum

3/4 cup Sugar and Crumbs black cherry icing sugar sifted (I’ve also used pink lemonade and strawberry milkshake)

Generous squirt of gel colour ( I used Dr Oetker violet)


Preheat oven to 120C

Line two baking sheets with baking parchment

Place the aquafaba in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the cream of tarter, xanthan gum and gel colour and whisk on the highest setting until it’s lovely and fluffy (can take 10 minutes). You could try it by hand but it would take a lot of whisking!

While still whisking add the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time and whisk till it stands in stiff peaks

Either pipe or spoon the mix onto the baking trays with a little space in between to allow for spreading in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 120C then reduce the temperature of the oven to 90C and bake for a further hour. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven until it’s cooled completely. I sometimes make them before bed and leave them till morning. 

Store in an airtight container. Best eaten within a day or so. Gorgeous dipped in dairy free chocolate and served with whipped coconut cream but eat quickly before they go smooshy!

Cafe Lauderdale Dunbar


I’ve been wanting to visit Cafe Lauderdale for some time so when we found our selves with no plans and a drizzly damp day today I suggested a road trip to Dunbar. It turned out to be an excellent plan as while only an hour away it was five degrees warmer and dry in Dunbar! The cafe is run by and is open daily during the school holidays and at weekends during term time, remember Scottish holidays can be different so double check the Facebook page before visiting.

It’s a small cafe in Park Lauderdale which I can totally reccomend if you have kids as it has an excellent play area. Also a nice spot to visit minus children as the play area is far enough away from the cafe not to cause too much noise pollution and the park while small has beautiful flowers. There is ample parking.

Everything baked on site is free from gluten, egg, milk and nuts. There are soya products in the kitchen but all allergen information is available for the goodies on sale. The dairy free ice cream on sale is Iced delight. There were regular fresh scones and sausage rolls available but these are ordered in and stored completely separately from the allergen free baking. I can’t comment on the lunches as we just had tea and cake. Can you imagine going into a cafe as a family and ordering safe chocolate brownies for all of you? They looked so good it was really hard to believe they were completely allergen free! (For us that meant milk, egg, wheat, peanut, tree nut, pea and lentil free) *Always check the ingredients to ensure food is safe for your needs*.

I’ll admit to a little chest pain ordering one for my son as we have never had safe baking from a cafe before but the proprietor’s daughter has severe allergies and if you can trust anyone it’s an allergy mum! (But always check to make sure you  are happy!).

Wow. Moist fudgey chocolate brownies. We all enjoyed them including the allergen eaters amongst us. I could have eaten a second bit no problem but I have excellent self control……kidding! I didn’t have a second bit though I had a mini lemon loaf instead, also delicious, I’m needing the recipe book used here!

So if you’re in Dunbar or frankly if you’re in Edinburgh it’d still be worth the drive, visit Cafe Lauderdale. We’ll be back.

Dairy free strawberry frozen yoghurt


Simple yummy dessert with the bonus of fruit and calcium! I’ve made this for my son’s sweet tooth, also gorgeous without the added sugar!


2 cups Koko plain yoghurt

2 small ripe frozen bananas chopped

1/2 cup Sugar & Crumbs strawberry milkshake icing sugar

Squirt Dr Oetker pink gel colour

4 large strawberries chopped into small pieces

Also absolutely delicious with Sugar & Crumbs Pina Colada icing sugar! Just leave out the chopped strawberries or substitute with ripe pineapple

Instructions – makes approx 6 scoops

Blend the yoghurt, bananas, icing sugar & colour together until smooth

Pour into ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes. If you don’t have an ice cream maker this would be lovely frozen in ice lolly moulds.

Stop ice cream maker and stir in chopped strawberries

If making for later and you have the patience freeze in scoops otherwise dive in!

Double chocolate pancakes

Processed with MOLDIV

The kids are off school Friday-Monday for the May weekend (well they have been back nearly two weeks so it was about time for a break *rolls eyes*). We’ve no grand plans as we’re all choked with the cold and it is properly freezing. Like snow freezing!! This is the view out my window last night!

After a lazy long lie in watching back to back Transformers episodes with my boy my daughter appeared and requested chocolate for breakfast. While I wasn’t up for Easter chocolate for breakfast – that’s purely something we do on Easter Sunday and how on earth does she still have chocolate?? The boy had polished his off by Easter Monday! – I was up for something chocolatey so I threw together double chocolate pancakes with chopped dates and banana. Free from gluten, milk, eggs & nuts. They were so simple and so good I thought I’d share. 

Double chocolate pancakes

Makes approx 12 


1 cup gluten free self raising flour (I used Doves Farm)

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons cocoa (I used Tesco’s own)

1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed 

3 Tablespoons water

1 cup dairy free milk (I used Koko)

Generous squirt of lemon juice

Handful chopped dates

Handful dairy free chocolate chips (I used Plamil)

1 chopped banana

Sunflower oil for the pan


Place the flaxseed and water in a small bowl and sit aside

Squirt some lemon juice into a cup measure then fill with dairy free milk (could use a teaspoon cider vinegar but my fridge was closer than the cupboard)

Measure 1 cup self raising gluten free flour into a bowl, add sugar & cocoa and whisk to combine

Add the flaxseed mix and the dairy free milk to the bowl and mix well

Stir in the dates, chocolate and banana 

Heat a frying pan wiped with oil on a medium/high heat. I use 7 on my induction hob

Spoon a small amount of mix onto the pan to check its hot enough. If it is bubbles will rise to the top, flip with a spatula and cook for a few seconds on the other side. 

Cook by generous spoonful, 3 – 4 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Stir well between batches as the chocolate chips are inclined to sink to the bottom of the bowl. 

Once cooked place on a plate lined with a piece of kitchen roll while you make the rest

Serve warm with dairy free spread and toppings of your choice. The boy had jam and honey and big sis had maple syrup. 

Proper yum!