The Norton Dog, Suffolk, UK

The Norton Dog is a traditional-looking pub in the tiny village of Norton in Suffolk, except it has a slightly less traditional sign outside.

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Yes, that’s right.  The Norton Dog offers a full gluten free menu at lunch and dinner. I chose a Norton Hog Roast – Old Spot Pork Belly, stuffing, apple sauce and crackling served with a gluten free bun and chips.  Oh my, it was good.  The pork belly literally melted in my mouth.  The apple sauce was tart and cut through the unctuousness of the pork.  I would eat it again right now, if I could.

20180410_212359In the name of research, I made room for dessert.  I chose a chocolate brownie served with cherries and ice cream.  It was rich and satisfying, although I sort of wished that I had shared this with my friend instead of ordering one each.  The chocolate was quite “heady”.

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The food was very good for a pub, but it was the little details that really showed the quality.  My friend ordered tea with dessert.  When the tea arrived, it was loose leafed and the milk came in a little churn.  A whimsical detail and the extra effort involved in using loose leaf tea took that from a regular drink to something a little special.

20180410_212453.jpgIn summary, I love where I live, but I wish I lived a little closer to The Norton Dog.  I wonder if they would consider adding a North Essex pub to their portfolio…

Easter Nests (GF, DF, Vegan)

The Allergy Brothers made these Easter nests with chocolate eggs at school, using our recipe.  It’s really great that the boys are always included in their class’ cooking.

Ingredients

75g margarine (we used Pure sunflower brand)

50g golden syrup

100g dark chocolate (we used Kinnerton free from chocolate)

100g breakfast cereal (we used gluten free flakes and Nature’s Path Munch)

mini chocolate eggs (we used Lindt dark chocolate mini eggs)

Method

  1. Line a muffin tray with cases.
  2. Melt the margarine and golden syrup in a pan.  Reduce the heat to low, add the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Remove from the heat, mix in the cereal, and stir until it is all chocolatey.
  4. Spoon into the muffin cases and make an indent in the centre. Place an egg in each nest.
  5. Chill the nests until they are firm.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Allergy Dad! (Vegan, GF)

I think it is fair to say that cake decorating is not my forté.  This always presents a bit of a problem because lots of cake decorating cheats have wheat, rice flour or coconut oil in their ingredients so the Allergy Brothers can’t eat them.

Allergy Dad is a big fan of the colour black.  He has an entirely monochromatic wardrobe.  I did think about making a cake with activated charcoal as an ingredient.  Unfortunately, I discovered that activated charcoal can decrease the effectiveness of medication by absorbing it.  This would be a bad idea for the whole family!

I was really pleased to find these edible black rose cake decorations online.  They are vegan, gluten free and Allergy Brother friendly.  I would definitely use this seller – Simply Toppers – again.  The roses looked beautiful, and I was amazed that they had packed them so carefully that they arrived in perfect condition.  In fact, Simply Toppers sell lots of other really nice cupcake decorations so I will probably be cheating by using their products again.
I used our regular chocolate cake recipe and Allergy Dad was able to have a cake he deserved, but that the Allergy Brothers could still eat.  Happy Birthday, Allergy Dad!

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Vegan Cheese Omelette!

Recently, Allergy Little had to have a day off school because he had a cold.  Obviously, I wasn’t pleased that he was ill, but it was nice to have my cooking wingman back for the day.  It was like the beginnings of this blog when he was at home during the day while Allergy Big was at school. Enough reminiscing…

Allergy Little and I decided to try Terra Vegane’s Egg-free Omelette Mix, which we bought from The Veggie Stuff website.  The ingredients of the mix are Potato Starch, Cassava Starch, Chick Pea Flour, Amaranth Flour, Sunflower Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Corn Starch, Baking Agent (Potassium-Tartrate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Turmeric, Kala-Namak Salt.

The mix is easy to prepare as you simply mix 4 tbsp of omelette mix with 4 tbsp. water.  Allergy Little and I were very surprised by how eggy and sulphurous this smelt, as eggy as an egg mayonnaise sandwich left in a plastic lunchbox on a hot coach on a summer term school trip.  Luckily, the smell quickly disappeared.

We cooked the omelette mix in a little olive oil, and used Vegamigo Pizza Melty vegan cheese as the filling.  And what we ended up with was pretty impressive.  It’s not exactly like a fluffy egg omelette, but nonetheless it tasted good and not at all like it had smelt on mixing.  The texture is different too as the cassava flour makes it a little doughy.  However, judged on its own merits, and not as a fake cheese omelette, it was very good.

Wizard Rye Bread Wands

Allergy Big is heavily into Harry Potter at the moment.  This has given us an excuse to bring back one of his old packed lunch favourites : Rye Bread Sticks.  Here is a link to our original recipe; I hope you can see that our bread stick making technique has improved a bit!  It was fun making twisted bread sticks so they looked like wands.

Home-made Gluten Free Goujons/Nuggets

This is a very multi-purpose method.  You can use it to coat tofu, white fish, chicken, quorn, etc.  I used turkey strips.  I haven’t provided exact amounts of ingredients because the quantities will vary each time.  If your children like cooking and getting a bit messy then they will love making this recipe.

Ingredients

Something to coat in batter (tofu, white fish, quorn, chicken, turkey, vegetables, etc)

Gluten free seasoned flour (I used cornflour with salt and pepper; you add extra herbs, spices, or chilli)

Gram flour

Unsweetened cereal (I used cornflakes; Rice Krispies or spelt flakes would work as well)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut whatever you are battering into appropriate size pieces.
  3. Prepare your coatings.  You will need a bowl of seasoned, gluten free flour, a bowl of gram flour mixed with water to the consistency of egg, and a bowl of your crushed cereal.
  4. Prepare a baking tray with baking parchment.
  5. Coat the item in the gluten free, seasoned flour, then the gram flour batter, and finally roll it in the cereal so it is completely coated.  Place the item on the baking tray.20180116_172846
  6. Bake the goujons/nuggets for 20 minutes or until you are sure that the inside is fully cooked through.20180116_163814

 

 

Decadent Saffron and Mushroom Soup

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I love soups because they are frugal and healthy, but sometimes it’s nice to be a bit extravagant.  This soup fits the bill.  Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, but it adds a beautiful colour and an earthy, but fresh flavour.  I enhanced the earthiness with some Portobello mushrooms, and then added more richness with some almond cream.

I made the soup in my soup maker. You need to make sure all the vegetables are chopped to approximately the same size

Ingredients
2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2-3 large Portobello mushrooms, peeled and chopped

3 small potatoes, peeled if necessary and cubed

1 Knorr vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice

1 carton of Ecomil Organic Almond Cream 200 ml
1 carton of almond milk (I used Ecomil Organic Sugar Free Natural Almond Drink)

1 pinch of saffron

1. Chop all the vegetables to roughly the same size.
2. Put all the ingredients, except the almond milk,  in your soup maker.
3. Add almond milk up to the minimum liquid level
4. Choose the blended soup option.
5. Get on with something else.
6. Come back to your decadent Saffron and Mushroom soup because you are so very worth it!

“Help! We have Multiple Food Allergies!” A 4 Point Survival Plan for the Early Days.

Discovering that you or a family member has multiple allergies can seem like an overwhelming thing to deal with.  These are the four things I wish I had known in the early days of our multiple allergy journey.

  1.  Don’t panic!  This is good news.  No, really.  You now know what has been causing the symptoms so it’s an opportunity.  Allergy Big was very ill for the first three years of his life.  Discovering his food allergies meant that he was able to recover and subsequently thrive.Two young boys are on a beach. They are facing away from the camera and are a bit over dressed.
  2. Don’t worry about a variety of meals. Lots of us have this idea, and social media fuels this, that we should all be able to produce a wide variety of nutritional meals inspired by global cuisine.  We are so lucky to live in this time of supermarkets with so many products.  However, this is a recent innovation.  If you read books like the Little House on the Prarie series, then one of the thing that stands out is how bland and repetitive their meals are. The treat foods are described so rapturously because they were so unusual. In fact, right now many people will be eating pretty dull meals to sustain themselves.  So don’t feel guilty about a lack of variety.  I would aim for a plan for three days of meals to start off with, that you can rotate.  If you can access a dietitian then they will be able to help you put this plan together.food-salad-restaurant-person.jpg
  3. You might have to change your views on food shopping.  Lots of people seem to have favourite shops that they like to buy the bulk of their food from.  I find this just doesn’t work for us.  I go to a different supermarket each week; I use Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and The Co-Operative Society.  I also use an online supermarket (Ocado), a wholesaler (Suma), local health food stores, and online shopping sites (Ethical Superstore, Goodness Direct, Veggie Stuff, and Holland At Home).  Also, don’t dismiss the bargain stores.  Lidl and Aldi stock more products that we can eat than Waitrose do.  I still hope to repeat the day I found Kinnerton Free From chocolate at a very low price in Home Bargains!  Shopping will, especially in the early days, take up quite a bit of time as you will need to check every ingredient list on every product.pexels-photo-264636.jpeg
  4. Get organised.  In the early days, there is going to be a lot to learn and keep track of.  You might need to keep a food diary that tracks symptoms with foods eaten.  You might need different shopping lists for each store on the go.  You might need to keep track of appointments with multiple, medical consultants.  Next week, I’ll write a more detailed blog post about how I organise our information.pexels-photo-768472.jpeg

Finally, thanks to reader Janel, who commented on the blog’s About page while we were on blog hiatus and inspired this post.  I decided to do a series of posts for people in the early days of diagnosis so that information will always be available if someone needs it.

It would be great if readers could share their ideas for dealing with those early days in the comments.
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

“Let’s Pretend It’s Summer” Tomato & Kimchi Soup

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I am still using my soup maker daily (Tefal BL841140 Easy Soup and Smoothie Maker, Stainless Steel, White). Recently, I felt like a blast of summer and spice to break the January gloom. This recipe really hit the spot, and it includes kimchi for its probiotics, and spicy and sour flavour.
Ingredients
2 shallots
1 can of tomatoes in tomato juice
250g of summery vegetables (I used courgette, aubergine and pepper)
1 Knorr Vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice
3 small potatoes, washed but with skin on
1 tbsp kimchi (Biona Organic Kimchi 350g (Pack of 6))

1. Chop all the vegetables to roughly the same size.

2. Put all the ingredients in your soup maker.

3. Add water up to the minimum liquid level

4. Choose the blended soup option.

5. Get on with something else.

6. Come back to a soup that has a winter-beating thick texture with a bright taste of summer!

7. Garnish with a little extra kimchi, if you are a fan.

The best thing about winter! Featuring Schlagfix vegan cream

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The second best thing about winter is a walk in the crisp, countryside air.  The best thing about winter is the hot chocolate you can justify drinking after the walk.  Unfortunately, the Allergy Brothers had never been able to have an enormous hot chocolate covered in cream and marshmallows, because we have never found a whipped cream that they could eat.  Soyatoo sold soya-based creams that could be whipped (Soya Topping Cream – 300ml) or came in pressurised containers(SOYATOO – SOYA SOYA CREAM SPRAY), but these were no good for the Allergy Brothers.

We were very excited to discover that Schlagfix sell a “Universelle Schlagcreme” that the boys could potentially eat.  This product can be used for whipping, cooking and baking.   If I am honest, I found the name very funny too because I am immature.  Anyway, here are the Ingredients:

Water, Palm kernel oil (fully hydrogenated) 15%, maltodextrin; glucose syrup; stabilizer: starch, E435, E331, E464, E460, E466, E339; emulsifiers: E4,81, E471, E475; salt, flavour.

Allergy Little enjoyed helping whip the cream, although, as you can see, he doesn’t like the noise of the beaters.  It turns out that you can get this cream in a pressurised container (Schlagfix Vegan Squirty Cream) too so that would save some work.20171228_162729

If we are honest, Allergy Little and I weren’t that impressed.  It turns out that something that is made out of oils and E numbers tastes like…  well, oily chemicals.  Who knew?!  But this product has its uses.  I am sure if you flavoured the cream then it would be much better.  I can imagine that we will use this cream when we need to make an Allergy Brother-friendly version of a specific recipe.

We used regular marshmallows, but you can get vegan mini pink and white marshmallows.