Chocolate chip and parsnip muffins

I properly love these muffins. They look and taste like a treat plus they have a cup of parsnip in them…….and you can’t tell!! At least my son can’t and that’s all I’m looking for really. I love parsnip for it’s easy ability to hide, I cook it, purée it and stir it into a lot of our meals so discovering it also hides well in baking has been a massive thrill. If you are parent trying to persuade your kids to eat more veg or you’re trying to eat more yourself these muffins are fab. I bake these with eggs as my son passed his baked egg challenge this year so I try to feed him baked egg regularly. They can be baked without but they’ll be best eaten fresh or gently reheated (20 seconds in the microwave per muffin to freshen it up). They probably don’t need as long as 22 minutes to bake but despite over 6 months of my son eating baked egg I’m still a little terrified of it and bake the muffins till they are really really baked!

Ingredients

2 cups/300g plain gluten free flour

1/2 cup/100g sugar

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup/250ml dairy free milk (I often use Koko coconut milk for muffins) mixed with a generous splash of lemon juice

2 eggs (or 1/4 cup apple sauce and an extra teaspoon of baking powder)

1/4 cup/60ml sunflower oil

1 large parsnip finely grated (makes approximately a cupful)

Dairy free chocolate chips to taste. I like to use Plamil or I’ve used a small packet of chocolate orange buttons broken up with great success. You don’t need loads as the muffins are sweet but I won’t judge if you do use loads. A small handful is a good guide.

Instructions

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

Measure flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar & salt and whisk together in a large bowl

Combine the remaining wet ingredients in a jug or bowl and mix well

Make a Well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet mix into the bowl. Stir until combined then add in the grated parsnip and the chocolate chips

I like to use an ice cream scoop to measure the mix equally but a spoon will also work. Divide into the 12 muffin holes of your pre prepared tin (I bake straight in the tin as the baked muffins often stick to paper cases, you can pop them into cases once the muffins are baked if you so desire.

Bake for 22 minutes then remove from the oven. Once the tin is cool enough to handle gently remove the muffins (I slide a flat teaspoon in the edge of the muffin cups and they lift out easily) and place on a wire rack to cool.

Best eaten the day you bake them but also good the next day with warm custard or gently warmed in the microwave. The muffins freeze well and can be defrosted one at a time on low in the microwave for 1 minute.

We like to eat our muffins cut in half with dairy free spread

Self catering with allergies in Lanzarote

Just back from a week of winter sun in Lanzarote. December is a lovely time to visit as it’s warm and sunny but not dreadfully so. This was our second visit, last year the weather was very pleasant but windy and you needed a sweatshirt, this year it was glorious! Of course I’d packed for pleasant so I ended up rocking my husband’s swim shorts by the pool #stylish.

We flew with Jet2 which is my airline of choice for flying with a nut allergy. Lots of airlines have reasonable allergy policies but Jet2 have been consistently good. If you inform them prior to your flight that you have a severe nut allergy they don’t load nuts onto the plane which means they can’t make an announcement regarding not serving nuts then forget and still serve them (I’m looking at you EasyJet). It’s over 4 hours flight from Edinburgh to Lanzarote so I packed breakfast (muffins) to eat after check in (9.15am flight), lunch (filled rolls, crisps & fruit) to eat on the plane and plenty snacks as my kids eat about nine times what you would think they might need when travelling. I didn’t look into buying food on board as my son has multiple allergies and I think crisps are about all he can have from the in flight menu. I take lollipops for the kids for take off and landing.

We stayed in Puerto del Carmen which is only a short transfer from Arrecife airport. You could get a taxi to your accommodation but we hired a car so we could do a proper supermarket shop rather rely on the smaller resort supermarkets. You could probably manage shopping in town but it’s pricier and there is less choice.

There is a large Mercadona and a Hiperdino supermarket in Playa Honda near the airport.  I like Mercadona, I’ve shopped there in the Costa del sol as well and they’ve lovely fresh produce and a reasonable selection of dairy free milk. They also sell the nicest gluten free pasta I’ve eaten, I was convinced I’d bought wheat pasta by mistake it was so good.

They don’t have a free from section as such, just bits and pieces in with the regular products.

I bought gorgeous dairy free choc ices there last year but my son wasn’t that taken with them.

They have a selection of dairy free fruit yoghurts but they are all soya based so if you are milk and soya free your choices would be very limited (almost non existent). They also sell chocolate desserts and rather excitingly had chocolate mousse this visit (I’m easy excited by free from food).

A lot of the dairy free milks in Mercadona do not contain added calcium so check the label!

The Hiperdino has a fabulous free from section! I could have done all my shopping there apart from soya chocolate desserts as they only had a very small selection of soya fruit yoghurts. To my delight they had Gullon sharkie biscuits which my son loves and are free from gluten, milk, egg and nuts! (Contain soya lecithin). I stocked up on boxes to take home!

The free from aisle is just as you walk in the store.

They also have a large frozen section

There are a few options for dairy free spread.

I haven’t seen any dairy free cheese, I took some in a cool bag in my suitcase along with egg free mayo, chorizo sausage and pepperoni as the only cold meat I’ve been able to find that doesn’t contain milk is plain ham. I also packed some safe bread & rolls to freeze on arrival (handy to keep a packet for making a packed lunch for the journey home!), home baked biscuits and safe chocolate.

We did a big shop day one in the Hiperdino then I sent my husband back to the Mercadona day two for chocolate desserts. Our hire car was not very big so we dropped our suitcases at our villa and had a snack before going to the supermarket. There was a small spar near our villa which was handy for buying water and fresh bread for the wheat eaters among us.

We didn’t eat out. My son is allergic to milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, treenuts, peas and lentils and it’s less stressful if we just feed ourselves. My husband cooked to give me a break. We keep it simple, baked potatoes, pasta, grilled meat. I packed some spice packets to liven meals up a bit. I took my own chopping board, grater, a frying pan and two cooking utensils. I also took lots of plastic clips for closing packets, you cannot take too many.

Restaurants are required to provide you with allergen information if you request it and this was clearly stated on menus outside them.

The Highlander too near where we were staying offered a full gluten free cooked breakfast (I discovered at the end of our holiday 🤦🏻‍♀️).

http://www.highlandertoo.co.uk/

Allergy action is a super resource for translations if you do wish to eat out.

https://allergyaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Translation-Spanish-a.pdf

We used their Portuguese translations to eat out one night last summer in Albufeira. I wrote out my son’s allergies and a list of questions and handed it to the waiter and my son had a super steak, chips & sliced cucumber which he really enjoyed. I however was so uptight I didn’t enjoy my meal at all and then cried and hugged the waiter when it all went well so my family aren’t best keen to eat out with me in public again.

We stayed in a villa with our own pool, I prefer a villa as you get a kitchen and full size fridge freezer as well as a dishwasher and a washing machine. I booked through Villa plus, we’ve used them several times.

Travelling home can be a challenge to cater for with a later flight. I don’t fancy an evening flight! We had to be out of the villa at 10am and the flight home was at 2.45pm. I made a double packed lunch and used a cool bag and ice packs which kept our food cool enough. No one complained about rolls & crisps for lunch at the airport then rolls & crisps for tea on the plane! I had plenty biscuits & sweets to keep us going as well.

I’d definitely go back, just perhaps not at New Year, they like a firework at New Year in Lanzarote which is probably fabulous if you are out celebrating but feels a bit like Armageddon in the back garden if you fell asleep at 9.30pm after a day of sunshine and a couple of glasses of fizz.

Roast tomato and carrot soup

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know it’s all been a bit souptastic of late. 


My husband has been making a concerted effort to eat healthier so I have been making big batches of soup and freezing it in portions for him to take to work for his lunch. I’ve tried to make lots of different flavours so he doesn’t get bored and I think this one is my favourite. 

Makes 4 generous portions 

Ingredients

Approx 2 tablespoons coconut oil 

900g tomatoes on the vine (or thereabouts, I went to make soup today and SOMEONE had eaten 2 of my tomatoes) 

8-10 large carrots peeled & chopped

3 large garlic cloves

1 small onion

Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200C

Grease a large ovenproof dish with coconut oil 

Remove the tomatoes from the vine, wash and cut in half. Place cut side down in the dish. 

Peel and chop the onion into large chunks and place the pieces among the tomatoes. 

Chop the ends off the garlic cloves but add them to the dish in their skins. 

Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in the microwave until liquid (30-60 seconds) and drizzle over the top of the tomatoes. 

Roast in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes 


While the tomatoes are roasting prepare the carrots and boil them in a large pot until soft. 


When the tomatoes & carrots are cooked and the dish is cool enough to handle place the tomato, onion & juices into a blender and add the garlic by squeezing it out of its skin. 


Blend until smooth (some bits of burnt onion/tomato skin may remain. Do not worry as the next step is to sieve the mixture into a large bowl. Use a sieve with reasonably big holes in the mesh, I bought one specially as my baking ones are quite fine and I was losing too much of my life to sieving tomatoes!


Press and stir the mixture with a spoon until all the liquid has passed through and you are left with the seeds, skins and bits of onion. 


Once you have done this blend the carrots (you can add some of the cooking water to loosen them up in the blender) and then stir them into the sieved tomatoes. 

Season with salt & pepper to taste. You can add more water at this point if the soup is very thick or you could stir in some dairy free milk. I divide the soup into portions to cool and then store in the fridge if they are to be eaten in the next couple of days or I freeze for easy weekday lunches.  


Serve with a spoon of plain dairy free yoghurt or creme fraiche. 

Chocolate beetroot brownies

I’ve been playing with this recipe for a while and I think I’ve cracked it. My kids love these brownies and are oblivious to the beetroot despite the colour!

Ingredients

3 small cooked beetroot (I buy these in the vegetable department in Tesco or Morrisons)

150g plain dairy free yoghurt (I’ve used Alpro soya and Koko successfully)

200g soft brown sugar (yes it looks a lot but they are brownies and hey they’ve got beetroot in them)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup cocoa (20g)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

150g plain gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm)

Up to 1 cup dairy free chocolate chips or a full 85g Kinnerton free from chocolate bar broken into chunks

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a baking tin (I used a 20cm square tin)

Chop & blend the beetroot till smooth

Mix the sugar, yoghurt, beetroot and maple syrup together in a large bowl

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt together and whisk to combine

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined then stir in the chocolate

Pour mix into the prepared baking tin and smooth to the edges

Bake for 35 minutes

Cool on a rack before slicing (or eat warm and burn your tongue a little, maybe, I might have, it was worth it)

Also lovely cut with a large heart shaped cookie cutter

These stay moist and delicious for a few days if they haven’t already been eaten

Simple freefrom cookies to make with groups of children 

This is a recipe I wrote to bake with a group of thirty Primary six (age 9) school children in a very basic kitchen classroom after I had been invited by my son’s teachers to share a cookie recipe that was safe for all the children in the class. My son has multiple severe food allergies and to get to bake safe cookies with his class mates was a hugely enjoyable and inclusive experience. For me it was the joy and lack of stress of him baking in a room where allergens were not present. The children were aware the recipe was safe for my son but we did not focus on it being a free from cookie and they were really just excited to be baking cookies! The children were divided into groups of five and the recipe made them two cookies each.

The following shopping list was enough to make 60 cookies with a little spare.

Baking parchment

1kg bag Doves Farm gluten free self raising flour (contains raising agents and xanthan gum

500g tub Vitalite dairy free margarine

1kg bag caster sugar

Carton rice milk

Bottle/tin golden syrup

Dairy free chocolate chips – I brought in a catering bag of Plamil dairy free chocolate drops from home (dairy, gluten, nut free but may contain traces of soya) Moo free also sell dairy free chocolate drops (may contain traces of nuts). If you cannot find chocolate chips safe for your needs buy bars of safe chocolate and get the kids to break it into pieces to make chunky chocolate chips.

Equipment needed 

Each group should have-

A large mixing bowl

A large spoon for mixing (dessert spoon fine)

Tablespoon measure (ideally. Some of the kids actually used a regular spoon and it worked out ok)

2 Teaspoons

A baking tray

Baking parchment

* I brought in a safe set of baking equipment from home for my son and his group to use*

Recipe

Makes 10 cookies

3/4 cup gluten free self raising flour (make sure it contains xanthan gum)

1/4 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup dairy free margarine

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1 tablespoon rice milk

2 heaped tablespoons of dairy free chocolate chips

Method 

Preheat oven to 190 C (we had access to 2 ovens and were able to bake the cookies in two batches)

Line the baking trays with parchment

Measure out the caster sugar and margarine and mix well together (all the children took turns measuring and mixing. Some groups mixing skills were better than others but all the cookies turned out well)

Add the golden syrup and rice milk and stir well

Add the gluten free flour and mix till combined

Stir in the chocolate chips/chunks

Using one teaspoon to scoop and one to push the mix onto the baking tray measure out 10 cookies.  Each child placed two spoons of mix onto their group’s tray. Try to leave space between each scoop as the cookies spread in the oven.


The children wrote their group number in pencil on the baking parchment so they could keep track of their tray

An adult should then place the trays in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cookies on a lower shelf may need a couple of minutes longer.


The whole class were very enthusiastic about baking cookies and worked really well together. Despite fairly haphazard measuring and mixing everyone ended up with a lovely tray of soft style chocolate chip cookies. The cookies are best left till completely cool before handling.


The children wrote out the recipe as part of their extended writing which had a Christmas theme including baking cookies for Santa.

A huge thank you goes out to my son’s teachers for organising such an inclusive and fun baking session.

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. https://myallergyboy.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/a-week-in-the-algarve/

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 http://m.villaplus.com/ 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?