Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Dairy Free Easter With Hotel Chocolat

I don't know about the rest of you dairy-free people out there, but I've really struggled to find decent dairy-free chocolate. Everything I've tried so far has been a bit rubbish (soya white chocolate buttons I'm looking at you) and nothing has given that sweet chocolately satisfaction. But then in swooped Hotel Chocolat and now that's all changed.

First of all let's touch on the obvious...HOW CUTE IS THAT BUNNY! I almost don't have the heart to eat it...almost

So what's in this chocolate? Well to quote Hotel Chocolat...
"Milk-Free Milk gives all the pleasure of milk chocolate, minus the dairy. 56% pure cocoa combines with the finest Sicilian almond creaminess to create decadent chocolate with a mellow, lingering flavour. Containing just 24% sugar, Milk-Free Milk is also a high-cocoa, low-sugar option, so it only takes a small portion to satisfy your chocolate craving"

Vicar of Dibley summarising nicely my thoughts on the Hotel Chocolat Milk-Free collection...

The chocolate is divine. If you are familiar with the quality of Hotel Chocolat's 'normal' chocolate then that is exactly what you can expect from their dairy-free range. Creamy, rich, delicious chocolate all wrapped up in the classic and classy Hotel Chocolat packaging.  Oh and it's suitable for vegans too. Dreamy. 

They have an impressive range. I went for their biggest egg (no surprise there...) the 'Milk-Free Milk Scrambled Egg'. As pictured, this is a 150g hollow egg which comes with 6 'Nutty Fruitcases' aka chocolate bites with hazelnuts and raisins. This comes in at £15.

I also couldn't resist their 'Milk-Free Bunny Lick' which is a solid chocolate lolly. This chocolate cuteness cost £1.95 and I want another one already.

If you're dodging dairy this Easter I seriously suggest you pay Hotel Chocolat a visit, or make someone's day and gift them a chocolate Bunny! 

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Friday, 6 March 2015

Sweet Treats from Udi's UK

I'm not going to lie, I'm writing this in somewhat of a sugar stupor. The current situation is a lot of crumbs, a fresh brew to the side and a big smile on my face. Why? Today I've been eating several of the gluten-free and even dairy-free (yay!) sweet treat offerings from Udi. So read on to find out what I think is worthy of joining you on your cup of tea and newspaper relax routine!

First up is my favourite, proof in the half empty packet which is currently sitting next to me (bets on it being empty by the time I've finished this post...?!) Chocolate Flavour Sandwich Cookies aka fake Oreos! Crispy, crunchy and totally munchy, these are also dairy free, which is great as I'm currently trying to be a dairy free zone. Theses are straight up delicious cookies and you'd do well to tell them apart from the original Oreo. There is no compromise here for these being both gluten and dairy free. Fabulous *reaches for another*.

Next up, the Milk Chocolate Wafer. These will be coming straight to work with me on Monday as they'll be a great side of desk pick me up. Good structure so not a crumbly mess and loads of chocolate in the layers - another great chocolatey treat from Udi at 18 wafers per packet. Also, big plans to stuff these in an ice cream cone come Summer!

If you're not a big chocolate fan, Udi's got you covered with their Lemon Flavoured Wafers. These were actually my Dad's favourite out of the whole bunch, with his comment being:"They're REALLY lemony!" You're not wrong Dad!

If you were a Pink Panther Wafer fan before your gluten free days then you'll be needing to get yourself some of these as they are effectively the lemon version. Also worth noting you get a bazillion in a packet...well 20, but it looks like LOADS when you open it up which is a nice surprise!

Last up was my least favourite of the bunch, Apple Flavoured Breakfast Bars. I'm not a big fan of these style of bars anyway as I don't like that 'flavoured' food filling taste. But if you're a fan of breakfast bars these would be a good gluten free option! They are individually wrapped as you can see in the pic, so great for on the move. True to their advertising they are 'soft n' chewy' and the pastry (for lack of a better word) had a good structure and nutty texture. They're available in a range of flavours (Strawberry, Blueberry and Cherry to be exact) which is nice to see and you get 5 bars per pack. For those on a strict FODMAP diet, apples have high amounts of excess fructose and high amounts of Polyol-sorbital, so intake should be avoided. I'm reintroducing apples at the moment as those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen from my huge apple haul (lols) but sadly these still weren't for me! From browsing Udi's website I've spotted they do Chocolate Banana Cereal Bars which look more up my street so I'll be grabbing some of those on my next grocery shop!

Udi are the #1 gluten-free foods brand in the USA and have now launched in the UK. They are currently stocked in selected Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose Stores nationwide
Whilst Udi's UK provided a variety of their branded products for review, I have received no payment for writing this post and all opinions are genuine and my own! Honesty is always the best policy!

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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Pulled Pork with FODMAP BBQ sauce

Witness the ultimate pulled pork sandwich. Up until a couple of months ago I'd only ever eaten pulled pork from a good ol' food truck, heavy on the 'slaw, heavy on the serviettes. But then one lunchtime my friend served up the most delicious and tender pulled pork sarnie...and all from his kitchen! Not a van or trendy street-food scene in sight; just a trusty slow cooker.

This recipe is impressive but simple; a guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you choose to use ready made BBQ sauce then there's even less work involved. However I'm yet to find a sauce which doesn't have onion or garlic in the ingredients list (#FODMAPproblems). So I've whipped up my own and spiked it with a bit of whiskey for good measure.

The main thing you need for the recipe is time. I slow cook the pork for 10 hours, so it's perfect for the weekend when you can let it cook overnight and have it for lunch. But for weekdays you could turn the pork on to cook in the morning, safe in the knowledge it would be ready on your return from work.

For the bread rolls, I used Udi Multi Seeded Rolls which they kindly sent me. I fully put them to the test with this recipe as it's a pretty 'heavy' filling. Result? I'm impressed! My pet hate with some other gluten free breads is that they literally disintegrate the moment they're in your hands or come with crater like holes. These Udi rolls did neither and even soaked up and held the sauce, allowing me to stuff my face with elegance and grace (there's an image). They get away with it because they're pretty damn thick, even when sliced in half. And I think the seeded element helps keep them structurally sound, as well as giving a nutty depth to the bread. I love them and they'll definitely be added to my weekly shop. Nice work Udi!

By the way, just to reassure those FODMAP-ers who weren't sure - garlic infused oil is safe! In fact it's fabulous and I'm never without Waitrose's offering which I've linked below. The fructans in garlic are water-soluble, not oil-soluble so you're good with garlic oil! I literally rejoiced when my Dietitian told me this and then again when I discovered Waitrose's ready made version! It's the simple things...

Makes: 8 servings
Cook: 12 hours 

1 pork shoulder roast (about 2 1/2 pounds)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 fennel
85g brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp asafoetida
3tbsp malt vinegar
3tbsp whiskey
Chilli to taste

  1. Place pork in your slow cooker with a tablespoon of water. Switch to low and leave to cook for 10 hours.
  2. Remove pork from the slow cooker. Pour the juices from cooking in a seperate container and keep; you will use this later in your BBQ sauce. Shred the pork using two forks. 
  3. In a separate pan, it's time for that BBQ sauce! Heat the garlic oil and add asafoetida. Cook for a minute then add the chopped fennel. Cook until softened. 
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, including the meat juice from the pulled pork and mix. Season and add chilli to taste. Bring to the boil, then leave that sauce to simmer for 20 minutes. 
  5. Return your pulled pork to the slow cooker and cover with your BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
  6. Serve in gluten free buns with some salad if you're feeling green! I went with lettuce and shredded carrot.

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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Falling in love with fermented green tea?! Love Kombucha.

Fizzy drinks are bad, green tea is good. Step in Love Kombucha, a refreshing soft drink, made up of fermented green tea. A Google search will tell you that Kombucha is a probiotic mix with the potential to help every ailment going. Winner! But the claim that grabbed me was the increased energy and reduced IBS symptoms: "Lactic acid increases the oxygen in the blood and helps balance the pH and well as encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut". 

I was sold and swiftly placed an order for 12 (hello free delivery!) The fact that I'm now only left with 4 shows that I do indeed Love Kombucha! Has it miraculously cured every ailment that troubled me? Well clearly not. But for me it's been great in quelling nausea and to settle my stomach. Also it's fantastic for replacing soft drinks with something better, without looking completely out of place when drinking with friends. I'm a big fan of the design of the bottles (although they will turn into a volcano on opening if you don't store them right...!)

But what do they taste like? Well frankly, odd. But a good odd. Almost like when you sip your Dad's beer for the first time as a kid and
pretend to like it because everyone's acting like it's a big treat (...was that just me?!) You're not going to get around the fact that these are fermented tea. So if you like green tea, you will love these. It has that sharp, clean taste which whilst slightly bitter, makes it very refreshing. 

There are 5 flavours available: Original, Blueberry, Ginger, Ginger & Lime and Mango & Lime. The difference between the flavours is subtle. Ginger & Lime is my favourite, as the sharp taste is at its most balanced and refreshing. That is the one that on drinking I really get that "Yeaaaaa this is doing me some good!" feeling! Blueberry is my next fav, with it's slightly softer taste. But only just - when cracking open the blueberry I couldn't help but expect the sweetness of a juice, but nope, not even vaguely. But don't let that deter you. A chilled blueberry Kombucha in front of the fire was a refreshing addition for that moment when food at Christmas becomes some sort of challenge (my blood type is basically Brie at this point.) 

Kombucha's are a great switch up from other drinks on the market. I will be stocking up on supplies for New Years Eve to have on their own as well as using them as mixers (gin, ginger & lime...hello!) Priced at £3.45 each (500ml), I think this is more than reasonable, especially considering the high quality of the bottles which can easily be re-used for other purposes. Home made salad dressing anyone!? 

Buy yourself some here.

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Chocolate Brookies - Gluten & Dairy Free

Chocolate brookies, a brownie cookie hybrid. Soft and gooey on the inside, crunchy on the outside and completely addictive.

I first spotted these little delights in beauty blogger Lily Pebbles vlogmas series on YouTube. For those you aren't familiar, 'vlogmas' is when blogger's video blog (see what they did there) every day leading up to Christmas, giving you a mini reality series of what they get up to in the festive period! If you're like me and a beauty product junkie, you'll love Lily's vlogs and can check her out here. (She does more than just combine words, promise....although I have no complaints regarding Brookie vlogging.)

As Brookies are meant to be fudgey in texture, they are very forgiving for substituting gluten free flour. I also doubled the size of each Brookie to make them cookie sized. I'd love to say this was for some baking reason, but no it was purely because I'm greedy and wanted them big! But you can roll them smaller to make them more 'snack' size over 'hey it's Christmas let's be a chubs' size.

These were so easy to make, look great and totally remind me of the Flintstones! Pretty appropriate considering they were brought into my life by Miss Pebbles...(picture below...she is clearly sitting on a Brookie! Coincidence? I think not). 

Makes: 24 brookies at cookie size
Prep: 20 minutes (with optional 4 hour chill time)
Cook: 20 minutes
Pre-heat oven: 180 degrees/ gas mark 4

85g cocoa powder (I used Cadbury Fair Trade Bournville Cocoa)
400g caster sugar
125ml vegetable or sunflower oil (I used sunflower over vegetable) 
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
250g gluten free flour (I used Dove Farm Plain White Gluten Free Flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
60g icing sugar (which is approximately how much it takes to coat the Brookies)

  1. Baking time! In a bowl, mix together your cocoa powder, caster sugar and oil. 
  2. Beat in the eggs and add the vanilla extract. 
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. At this point, Lily recommends you chill your mixture for at least 4 hours. I only managed to chill my mixture for 2 hours as I had people coming over who needed feeding! But the Brookies still tasted great! However I would recommend getting in as much of the chill time as you can, as this makes it much easier to form each Brookie ball.
  5. Line your trays with baking paper. I needed 2 baking trays. 
  6. Pour icing sugar onto a plate. Using two spoons, roll the mixture into 4cm balls to make your Brookies.

  7. Coat each ball with the icing sugar before placing onto prepared trays. I thought this would be fiddly but it really wasn't. Simply scoop up some mixture with your spoon, roughly shape by transferring between the spoons, plop on your plate, sprinkle some icing sugar over the top, then roughly roll around to ensure it is fully coated in icing sugar.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. 
  9. Leave them to cool for a couple of minutes on the trays before transferring to a wire rack till completely cool. 

Pebbles Image: English Exercises
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Saturday, 20 December 2014

FODMAP & Gluten Free Mince Pies

Mince pies are a minefield for a low FODMAP individual. It turns out dried fruit is riddled with Oligos, the  'O' in FODMAP. So whilst gluten free mince pies are plentiful, getting your winter mittens on a low FODMAP pie is a whole other story.

So I took myself into the kitchen to cook up not just a low FODMAP recipe, but a FODMAP free recipe and the results are delicious. Cast your hungry eyes on my winter love: rhubarb, orange and nut mince pies.

I'm so pleased with this recipe but even more so with my friends and families reactions. It is now the mince pie of choice within my household and a second batch has already been made! So not only would no one know the difference with these gluten free mince pies, they have become the preference! 

This recipe is simple and delicious. So go ahead and indulge yourself with a little taste of Christmas...

Makes: 24 small mince pies
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

400g gluten free flour
250g unsalted butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg for the egg wash (optional)

350g of rhuburb
6 pieces of crystallised stem ginger
Zest & juice of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup/ 64g of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup/ 64g of chopped pecans
Splash of brandy (it's Christmas!)

1. First up is the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 2 tbsp of icing sugar. 

2. Add 4 tbsp water, mixing with a knife and the dough will come together, resembling typical 'dough' consistency. Gather it up, knead lightly, wrap in cling film and chill in your fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Filling time. Chop your rhubarb up into 1cm length chunks and juice your orange. Put your rhubarb chunks and orange juice into a saucepan and cook on a low heat. Add the orange and lemon zest and ground cinnamon.

4. Whilst this is simmering away and smelling amazing in the process, chop up your crystallised stem ginger. I took 6 good chunks and finely chopped them as the picture shows.  But add more/less to your taste! Add the ginger to your rhubarb mixture, with 3 tbsp of icing sugar.

5. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the excess liquid.

6. Finely chop your walnuts and pecans and add to the strained mixture with a splash of brandy (or more if you're a boozehound).

7. Now it's mince pie building time. I used 2 regular 12 hole cupcake tins which I found worked perfectly.

8. Grab your pastry from the fridge, give it a quick knead and roll out on a floured surface. Cut out your pastry discs and add a tsp of mixture to each pastry shell. For my 'lids' I went for a star cutter to make the mince pies look extra festive! 

9. Whisk up an egg and brush over the top so the mince pies will brown up gloriously in the oven. Also use on the edges/ underside of each star, so the lid sticks to the pastry shell.

10. Sprinkle a little caster sugar on top of each mince pie (shoutout to my Nan for that little tip.)

11. Cook on the top shelf of your oven at 180 degrees/ gas mark 4, for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

12. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to momentarily cool before giving each mince pie a little wiggle to check they haven't stuck to your tin.

13. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Being FODMAP free has never tasted so good...

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Food Loving, Gluten Free, Christmas Gift Guide!

It's the time of year again where the nation gathers gifts for their nearest and dearest! The blogpshere is full of gift inspiration for this impending Christmas season and I love reading everyone's top picks. So I decided to put together my own for those of you on the hunt for an idea for a gluten free friend or a food loving fan! 

So here's my round up, all coming in under £25!

Montezuma's Chocolate Tree Baubles - £7.99
"No self respecting tree should be seen without a good number of chocolate baubles" says Helen Pattinson, Co-Founder of the mighty Montezuma's. Here here. This pack of 6 is made up of three of their award winning house blended organic chocolate. Don't expect them to last until Christmas Day...

Is this not the ultimate culinary salute to any Great British Bake Off fan?! Or for anyone who has a passion for baking and creating in the kitchen! I love that you can choose between Solid Oak, Solid Beech or Beech Ply to make them the perfect cooking tool for your loved one.
Now this is a gift I'm such a fan of, that having bought one for a friend, I went ahead and bought two more...one being for myself (that's how Christmas shopping works right?!) 
Chroma Stationary is an independent company offering a notebook personalisation service embossing anything you like on the notebook: a name, phrase or logo etc. What I love is that the 20 colours available are each named after an important person or figure in Chroma's life. So the subtle pastel lilac shade I chose, Doris, is named after Chroma's Nanny! I think the gold embossing of my blog name: 'FODMAP free' makes it personalised perfection. These notebooks are chic and stylish, great for any list maker or recipe scribbler! 

Chances are if you're on a restricted diet, the majority of time you'll be carrying a packed lunch to avoid going hungry or nibbling on something untoward! This incredibly slimlined container promises to "hug and maintain the shape of whatever is inside, so your beloved baguette will remain absolutely immaculate until you're ready to devour it." It's well know gluten free sandwichs are partial to crumbling and falling apart, so this promising to keep it safe and secure makes this even more of a desirable gift! As a bulky lunchbox solution, this is on the top of my wishlist list!

Booja Booja Chocolate - £13.50
REALLY NICE CHOCOLATE that is organic, dairy, soya and gluten free AND easy to get your hands on. Need I say anymore?

Polka Dot Monogrammed Mug - £9.20
Another item which I have myself and love! In the winter season, hot drinks are the ultimate comfort so a mug is always appreciated! For any lover of tea, hot chocolate, mulled wine (!) this is an adorable mug and comes in a pink presentation box, so it even has the presentation covered!

Chuckling Goat, Pro-Biotic Skin Food for Troubled Skin - £25.00
Brilliant packaging, cute name and recognition you cannot ignore! Chuckling Goat's Pro-Biotic Skin Food scooped a Bronze Award in this years FreeFrom Skincare Awards and the brand is also stocked by Fortnum & Mason - fancy! Chuckling Goat is an natural brand, using only sustainable ingredients; no dyes, no perfumes, no parabens, no petrochemicals, no pthalates. This lotion is a great gift for any lover of skincare free of the nasties, but it gets its hero product status due to the healing qualities of the combination of goatsmilk, kefir, thyme and tea tree essential oils. How can we resist?! For me, knowing it's made on a small family holding in Southwest Wales from the owners cherished pedigreed goats is the icing on the (Christmas) cake! 

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter - £9.79
This book was recommended to me by a friend and despite being only half way through I can't put it down. Neurologist Dr. David Perlmuttet explores what our bodies require for optimal health, but in an easy-to-understand and somewhat gripping format. My summary of the book so far would be: 1) gluten will melt your brain and 2) carbs will kill you (I may be over-exaggerating slightly!) But as someone who can't eat gluten whether I like to or not, it's an interesting insight into why someone you CAN eat gluten, wouldn't, when given the choice. 

Ya know what's naturally gluten free? Rice. Ya know what this gift makes fun? RICE! I mean frankly who wouldn't want to launch a barrage of sushi missiles whilst whipping up a tasty meal? This is a great gift for anyone who loves to have fun with food, or any parents who are wanting to keep meal times exciting for their gluten-free kids.

Personalised Full of Love Large Round Chopping Board - £14.99
This is one for the practical person in your life, but with a personalised twist! This wooden chopping board allows you to add the name of your choice and follows it up with "kitchen is full of love" and then another 2 lines for you to add a message of your choice! A special but sensible present that will definitely come in handy when preparing the mighty Christmas lunch! 

I'm rounding up my gift list picks with this great stocking filler from 'Keep Me Gluten Free!' Firstly, Rosy the rabbit, what a cutie. Secondly, simply whack them on your kids snacks/ lunchboxes/ foreheads, to clearly label their intolerance but in a friendly, fun way. 

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