Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A day without antihistamines!

I forget sometimes how my life is wihout my trusty antihistamines! I forgot yesterday and today to take mine.   By 10am, I had hives and felt like a cold was on the cards. By 11, the hives  had spread down my legs and tiredness was my friend! I describe having allergic reactions as Chinese Water Torture because it eats away at your psyche. It just plagues your life. Don't get me wrong, I am so aware that there is far worse in the world,  its just that sometimes it just constantly hums in the background like a fly buzzing. It can be maddening when you feel an itch, or feel hives starting, or your mouth tingles, or you sneeze a hundred times a day- which I did.  It drives me nuts!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dairy Free Chocolate

If you are over 30 and have allergies you will know that some years allergy friendly chocolate is everywhere and some years there is nothing. It's the same with most foods. You find a food you love and then suddenly it's gone! There are currently several on the market. Plamil are excellent and it is thanks to them  that I have been able to try mint chocolate, chilli chocolate, orange chocolate without the fear there maybe a trace of an allergen in the food. Their labelling states that no nuts are used in their factory. Their plain "milk" chocolate isn't great, but their flavours are fab! Similarly, if you are a diabetic, you will also find a range of sugar free which are made with Xylitol rather than artificial Sweetners.

Another great brand are Kinnerton. My family all agree that their regular chocolate is no green and blacks or Cadburys, but that their allergy chocolate whichis dairy, egg, nut and wheat free is brilliant and good in cooking!

The last company I rate are Celtic chocolates. They go to great lengths to Make sure their chocolate is cross-contamination free and most major supermarkets stock them either under the Celtic brand oras an own brand chocolate. I've taken a picture of an ASDA wrapper so you can see what I mean. Sainsburys do one with rice crispies in which I love. At easter these companies ensure we can have an Easter egg which is something I often went without as a kid. Fab!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Chocolate fork biscuits and Mary Berry!

To Mary Berry- I can honestly say that you have been a deeply influential person in my life. I am 31 years old so you didn't ever teach me to use a cooker, but as a child my mum and I watched your Aga video and learnt how to make drop scones, and every cookbook I used was a Mary Berry book. The Marks and Spencer's "Cooking for your Freezer" was one of them. And now I am an adult and have two little children (one with allergies like me), it is my constant companion. I love the retro photos (why did they purposefully make food so unappestising looking in the 70's? ), and the simplicity. Oe of my favourites are the chocolate fork biscuits. For people who aren't intolerant to gluten just use wheat or spelt flour.

Chocolate fork biscuits

225g/ 8oz marg
100g/4oz sugar (I sometimes use soft brown for fudge texture and take it down to 3oz)
1tsp vanilla extract (I use organic)
225g/8oz SF Flour (Doves Farm seems to work best if GF)
50g/2oz drinking chocolate/ cocoa

Cream marg and sugar, and add vanilla. Work in flour and chocolate. Roll into little balls and place on a baking tray with baking paper on (if you can't get baking parchment to stay on sheet, scrunch it in your hands, then flatten out), use a fork to flatten biscuits and bake for about 12 mins at 190 degrees. If freezing, open freeze, then pack into bags/ boxes.

The best allergy friendly brownies ever!

Probably not the best picture though! But my amazing mum converted a recipe so we could all eat it. I made this this morning. (Along with some chicken!)

The recipe is really easy and as follows:

4oz marg melted
1 1/2 oz cocoa}
4 1/2 oz s.r gluten free flour (or flour of choice).  Sieved
Pinch salt }.   
6oz muscovado sugar
1 tbsp syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
150 ml milk (rice, soya, cows or yoghurt )

Melt marg. sift dry ingredients into large bowl. Add liquids, mix well. Turn into baking paper lined brownie tin 8" square.

Bake 20-25 mins 180c

Serve with cream or ice cream! Sooooo good!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Booze with allergies

Many a day have I had a glass of wine and fallen asleep with everyone believing and still believing that I am a total lightweight. What I am is allergic to some of the additives in wine. It has taken many years and many horrid nights to realise this. Co-Op has also played a pivotal role. Why? Because they put ingredients lists on their booze! Yesterday, my mum, who often takes pity on me, bought me a lovely Co-Op Shiraz Rose after we searched the shelves. It was really good and very easy on the stomach.  And I had no hangover today or fell asleep immediately (I did of course, fall asleep far too early, but that's the woes of being a parent!). What you many not know is that milk, nuts, chemicals, additives and animal bones are often used in wine for a variety of reasons e.g. to remove the 'scum' off of the top.  Red wine, I have discovered is particularly lethal. For years, my mum and i have been restricted to Prosecco, which has been lovely because it always feels very decadent, but it can be a bit lonely as friends often want to share still whites, and it feels like an occasion drink. My mum and I have also discovered that we can drink something called Vina Maipo which we have shared in a (ahem*) box. Yes, it lacks class, but great if lots of people are sharing.

So, to conclude, if you have allergies, Co-Op is my recommendation, whether its box or bottle (their spirits also have ingredients on for anyone that's allergic to almonds and been caught out by Bombay Sapphire!)