Thursday, 10 April 2014

Nut free, dairy free, gluten free Granola



As a child growing up in the 1970's, breakfast was dear to me. 

There was Ready Brek loaded with Golden Syrup, and that advert that showed the kid going to school surrounded by a warm (radioactive?) glow.

There was toast. And it was thick, white and dripping with salted butter. (Or even beef dripping. True story.) Oh and that chocolate sauce that you could get in a white plastic tub, remember that?

Porridge was around, but it was fine to lace it with cream and cover it with crunchy sugar. And Coco Pops were a joy because they turned the milk brown and you could even add a bit of extra sugar 'coz no-one cared!

There was the Frosties tiger bouncing around selling us sugary flakes of corn and although there was sensible Weetabix, you were still allowed to sprinkle it with (white) sugar.

Ahh, those were the days. No-one tried to get you to eat fruit for breakfast - unless you were at a fancy hotel and you had half a grapefruit with a cherry on, which it was ok to leave - and marmalade was practically a health food (all that fruit!)

And now, reader? What are we faced with?

Breakfast guilt, that's what.

If my cereal bowl isn't rocking chia seeds, quinoa and a sprinkling of goji berries, I feel as though I'm engaging in culinary self-harm.

If my bread doesn't look like a bunch of seeds squished together with amaranth flour, then I am just a tool of the great Chorleywood Bread Process Conspiracy.

I feel judged. I feel conflicted. And most of all I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to eat for breakfast.
For a while I thought granola was the way forward but then I checked the sugar content. Ouch!

And then it came to me. Why not make a healthy, homemade granola? Ha ha!

So I did.

It is OUT with breakfast guilt and IN with natural(ish) sugar. And I'm even starting to enjoy breakfast more, hurrah!

Nut free, dairy free, gluten free Granola
There are two ways to make granola; on a modest scale or on an industrial scale. I always favour the latter, but I realise that not everyone likes to spend hours wrestling with giant-sized portions. So I've given modest quantities that you can just double or triple as you see fit.

25g ground sunflower seeds
20g ground pumpkin seeds
25g desiccated coconut
25g ground linseeds
125g coconut oil
8 tbsp maple syrup (or agave syrup)
2-3 tsp vanilla bean paste
3-5 tsp cinnamon powder
Approx 60g dried fruit (blueberries, raisins, etc), or you can leave these out if you like
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment and set aside
  • Preheat oven to 180° Celsius
  • Grind the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and linseeds and place in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the gluten free oats, coconut and cinnamon powder and raisins/dried fruit if using
  • In a small saucepan, place the coconut oil, vanilla bean paste and maple syrup and heat gently until the oil has melted
  • Pour the melted oil into the mixing bowl and stir until all the ingredients are coated
  • Spread the mixture onto the baking tray and use the back of a spoon (or potato masher) to squish it all down (this helps the clumps of granola to form during baking)
  • Bake in the oven for 10-20 mins until the surface is lightly browned, but keep checking as the seeds can burn quickly
  • When the surface is browned, use a spatula to turn the mix over. Try to keep the granola in clumps as you do so
  • Bake again until the surface is lightly browned, then remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray
  • When completely cool, break off lumps of the granola and place into a storage jar. You might find that the granola doesn't stay in lumps, or only some of it does. This is the willful nature of Granola, what can I say?
  • Add fresh fruit, coconut yogurt, coconut milk...whatever you please and enjoy! Feel no breakfast guilt!


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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Review: The Allergy-Free Baby & Toddler Book by Charlotte Muquit & Dr Adam Fox


Allergy-free Baby & Toddler Book
If you have an allergic baby or toddler, buy this book

Recently, I was sent a copy of the Allergy Free Baby and Toddler Book to review. It's by Charlotte Muquit (mum to Zach who has food allergies and Coeliac disease) and Dr Adam Fox (all round paediatric allergy god).

Let me give it to you straight: I am a terrible reviewer because I forget that I've been sent stuff and then I wake up in a panic at 3am. 

So to prevent that happening with the Allergy Free Baby and Toddler Book, I left it on the kitchen windowsill so that it would remind me. 

It stared at me for a month in an accusing way.

But then one Saturday morning I took the book along to the crazy early swim session that two of my children attend.

Reader, from 0715 to 0915 I was transfixed by this book.

It contains a wealth of clearly explained, practical information to help parents understand the confusing world of food allergies.

I particularly love the quotes from parents explaining how they dealt with food allergy-related problems and how they felt about the attitudes of medical staff and well-meaning family members. It reminded me vividly of how hard it was to have a toddler with food allergies and in particular how hard it was to get family members (and doctors) to take the allergies seriously. I wish this book had been available at the time because it would have helped enormously.

And I'm so ditzy, I'd completely forgotten that Charlotte had asked me to contribute a quote to the book.

On page 93 I started to read a quote by a mum saying how cool Medibands are for younger children. I think I even nodded because I loved Medibands when my daughter was younger...and then I got to the end of the quote and saw my name.

I know. Truly ditzy. But it's probably worth buying the book just to have my words in print, right?!

There are too many sections to list in a review, but with chapters on Anaphylaxis, Everyday Allergy Management, Asthma, Eczema, Allergic Rhinitis and more, this really is a one-stop information source for parents of children with food allergies. If your child has just been diagnosed, then it's a must-buy.

There's even a recipe section at the back of the book featuring egg free, dairy free, nut free and gluten free goodies. (Although that part did make me come over all competitive...)

And for when you're experimenting with your child's diet and excluding allergens, there are useful charts in the Resources section to help you monitor your child's symptoms. These would also be handy on the website as printable pdfs...just saying!

The book is released tomorrow, April 2nd, 2014 and you can order it at Amazon, and Waterstones and the website is at: http://www.allergyfreebabyandtoddler.com/

You can also like Charlotte's page on Facebook.

Good luck with the book Charlotte!


*worshipful bow in general direction of Dr Adam Fox* 





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