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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Ingredients

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 

Instructions

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 https://lucysfriendlyfoods.com/2015/04/16/more-adventures-in-egg-free-meringue/ 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! https://lucysfriendlyfoods.com/2015/05/18/light-and-airy-chocolate-mousse/

Egg free flavoured meringues

Ingredients

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)

Instructions

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

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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 http://nocowknowhow.weebly.com/ 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. https://www.facebook.com/CafeLauderdale/

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!

Ingredients

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 

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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!

  

Short break at Ribby Hall Village in Lancashire

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Our last couple of holidays have been abroad so you can imagine my delight last week packing for our stay at Ribby Hall with no baggage limits beyond what I couldn’t fit in the car. Ok delight is a strong word, packing is never much fun but it was certainly less of a challenge. 

We’ve stayed at Ribby Hall once before in October 2013 in a cottage at Fishermans reach which was lovely accommodation but we decided to treat ourselves to a 3 bed pine lodge this stay as the lodges have hot tubs which meant I could wear my bikini without having to board an airplane. 

  
Our lodge slept 6 and was very spacious and comfortable, well stocked (high chair, ironing board, toiletries) with tons of storage and 3 bathrooms. It was tucked away with 5 other lodges in amongst the privately owned holiday homes. 

  
The site looks big on the map but although peak season did not feel too busy and our lodge was in a quiet scenic corner. Our rowdiest neighbours were the ducks who tried to join us for meals several times and were quite put out I wouldn’t let them hang out in the lodge with us (this could be tricky in warmer weather if you had any doors left open!). 

  
I was particularly thrilled with the kitchen. As any allergy Mum knows you still do a lot of catering on holiday and having a good space to do it in makes such a difference! We had a full size fridge & freezer, lots of cupboard space (some holiday kitchens are so crammed with equipment there is no where to store groceries!) and clean modern looking kitchen equipment. 

  
Basic cleaning supplies, tea towels, teabags & coffee were supplied which was a lovely touch and a bonus as I hadn’t packed teabags! I brought a chopping board, sharp knife and cutlery & plates for the boy. I was actually ok to use the lodges crockery once it had been through the dish washer but I’m happier knowing I have safe stuff for him and I wouldn’t use an unknown chopping board!

  

We stayed four nights and ate out two at the Bar & Grill. I rang and spoke to the team leader there a few days before our visit and she was super helpful. I listed my son’s allergies – milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, treenuts, peas & lentils and she went and spoke to the chef about catering for him. I could overhear the tone of their conversation if not the content and was gladdened by the positive upbeat voices. She came back to me to say they’d be happy to cook for him and if there was anything he particularly liked to eat they would order it in for him. This offer was reiterated to me during our stay. It was a very useful conversation and one my husband was delighted to listen in on as he knew if they were not confident and helpful we would not be eating out!

While the choice on the menu is limited, particularly for gluten free they will order safe pasta, pizza, fish fingers and chips for you. The regular chips are not safe as they are fried with other food but I have to say the oven chips they got in for us looked much nicer! My son ate an adult portion gammon steak both nights. There were other options (grilled chicken or steak) but gammon is his absolute favourite and I can vouch for it being tasty as I ordered the same meal the first night. I brought safe treats for pud. 

  
The sachets of ketchup looked OK ingredients wise but both my kids skin reacts to cheap tomato sauce so we brought our own with us. Classy I know. 

Top tips

  • The kids entertainment is held in the bar & grill. If you book a table for 7pm you can keep it for the evening. If you have tiny tots and this is late there are meal deals between 5 and 6pm. 
  • Do not wait till you get there to discuss your dietary requirements. While they go out of their way to be helpful it is LOUD and an almighty challenge to talk to your waiter/waitress beyond yelling your order. 

While very loud and busy eating later the kids were kept occupied and entertained while we waited for our food and during our meal. There is also a small shop selling flashing tat which was a big draw and there was a face painting/ fake tattoo stand. 

  
On the two nights we ate at the lodge we kept it simple. I’m not keen cooking away from my kitchen and only make stuff that can be cooked on lots of foil! Luckily my kids see baked potatoes and beans as a treat!

  
The weather was kind to us despite the grim forecast and we managed two days out without getting rained on. We used our Tesco club card vouchers to pay for both. 

Blackpool pleasure beach – I took safe snacks and a gluten free roll with dairy free cheese and we had lunch at Burger King. We just order a beef patty on its own and fries. 

  
If you have a child that would freak at wearing a wristband the nice ladies on the Pleasure beach tills will stick one on a piece of paper for you. You just need to write your child’s age and general description on the back. 

  

Our second day out was to Blackpool zoo and we took a simple picnic & snacks. The kids enjoyed the zoo, they loved the sea lion display and the play park and I enjoyed the wee bit of sunshine we had and the fact it’s built on the flat. Our nearest zoo at home is Edinburgh zoo which is famously steep! 

We had one full day on site and while there are plenty of activities available we took it easy with a stroll round the woodland trail (wellies absolutely essential!) a play at the park and shot on the amusements. I like that the amusements are separate from other areas so you don’t have to walk through them to get to the pool/entertainment. 

   
 
So all in all a lovely stay. Comfortable accomadation and safe options for eating makes for a happy mum. The hot tub helped! Absolutely gorgeous to sink into the heat on a rather cool April afternoon. Packing dressing gowns would have been a good plan though as it was freeeezing climbing back out! 

I didn’t visit the Spa hotel this holiday but I can recommend it from our previous stay. Heading up for a meander round the thermal journey and a treatment while the family unpack and make dinner is how every holiday should start.