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.

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.

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 purĂ©e 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. 

Double chocolate pancakes

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!

  

Spiced mini muffins with cream cheese icing 

I love these muffins, they are pretty and packed full of veg. Always a bonus when feeding children!

The recipe makes 48 mini muffins which is masses but I freeze small bags of them for future snacks. 

  
These muffins are teeny. You could make bigger ones, they’ll just need baked for longer. 

Ingredients

2 cups plain gluten free flour (I used 3/4 cup rice, 1/4 cup Teff, 1/2 cup sorghum & 1/2 cup potato starch)

If you don’t need to be gluten free use plain flour and omit the xanthan gum. 

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

3/4 cup brown sugar 

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1/4 cup apple sauce (I use baby purée)

1 cup grated/processed veg (I used one carrot, one parsnip & one courgette which yielded about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/3 cup dairy free milk 

Icing 

60g Creamy Violife

2 tablespoons dairy free spread (I used Vitalite)

1 cup icing sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 mini muffin tins (24 muffins each) with paper cases. I think these would be lovely without cases baked in a greased mini muffin tin but the cases disguise the veg better!

Wash/peel/chop the carrot, parsnip and courgette and whiz them in a food processor until finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor you could grate them. I sometimes make soup or veg to put in shepherd’s pie at the same and keep a cupful for the muffins.   

 
  
Measure out and sift the flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda,baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger into a large bowl and whisk well to combine. 
In another bowl combine the veg, oil, apple sauce, vanilla extract, cider vinegar and dairy free milk then stir in the sugar. 

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just moistened then measure by teaspoonful into the prepared tins. 

  
Bake one tray at a time for 12 minutes, allow to cool for a few minutes in the tray (until it’s cool enough to handle) then transfer to a cooling rack. 

  
While the muffins are cooling make the icing.

Mix the creamy Violife and the dairy free spread together (I used my mixer) then slowly add the icing sugar and mix till smooth. The icing is quite runny, if you’d like it to be thicker add another half cup of icing sugar. There will be enough to ice at least half the muffins depending on how many you plan to freeze. Any extra can be stored in the fridge and (if you are anything like me) eaten on any biscuit/cake/loaf you like or just by the spoonful. 

  
Once the muffins are cool you can ice them either with a spoonful on top or piped on but as it’s very soft it doesn’t hold a shape. Iced muffins should be stored in the fridge. Muffins can be frozen until you remember you have some. I should probably say 3 months but I found some I made about 6 months ago and they were grand defrosted and iced! 

  

Double chocolate soft cookies gluten free & vegan 

I am obsessed with soft American style cookies after making Lucy’s Friendly Foods lemon & ginger ones recently. http://lucysfriendlyfoods.com/2016/01/05/cold-busting-lemon-and-ginger-cookies/ they are such a lovely texture and the kids loved them. I’ve been inspired to make strawberry & dairy free white chocolate cookies following the basic recipe and today I tried double chocolate. Wow. These are really good! My son ate two then said can I please have ten thousand more of those? I’ve adapted this recipe from Lucy’s to make it gluten free and chocolate. I’ve had success with several biscuit recipes recently doing a straight swop of plain flour for gluten free flour + 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Ingredients – makes approximately 20

1 + 1/4 cup plain gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm)

2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup of dairy free chocolate chips (I used Plamil dairy free catering chocolate)

1/2 cup dairy free spread (I used Vitalite)

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tablespoons golden syrup

2 tablespoons dairy free milk (I used Rice)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 190c

Cream together dairy free spread, sugar and syrup then stir in dairy free milk

Sift flour, cocoa, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk well

Slowly stir dry ingredients into the spread/sugar mix until you have a soft sticky dough then stir in chocolate chips

Drop mix by heaped teaspoon onto two baking trays (I don’t line mine as they are excellent and don’t stick but you may need to line with baking parchment if you prefer)


Bake one tray at a time for 8 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray then transfer to a cooling rack.


Enjoy with a cold glass of dairy free milk

Warning!! It is really hard to stop eating these!