Friday, 30 September 2016

Egg Substitutions!

So, we are officially egg free and I must say it's a bit of a steep learning curve. We have previously always been advised to keep the twins on eggs and it has been a valuable source of protein. Substituting that on a dairy and soya free diet is hard, especially when you have a vegetarian who is now pretty much vegan due to allergies to feed....

Because we hadn't trialled egg replacer, I have been using pear puree instead, which I was hugely sceptical about. However, I have had considerable success - although I seriously doubt I could substitute more than a single egg successfully this way.

I've come across several ideas for egg substitution, all work slightly differently with varied results.

  • Chia seeds soaked in water make an excellent binding agent, but not the best raising agent. 
  • Soy is not an option for us - and many others too, so I haven't tested this.
  • Ripe banana works in a similar way to the pear puree we've tried, and since we have passed the banana trial this is my fall back option! This banana muffin recipe only has one egg in because the bananas act as a raising agent too, and could be easily substituted unlike recipes which contain several eggs.
  • Ground flax seeds apparently give quite an earthy texture, and can be heavy - but many recommend them.
  • Applesauce - again, like the other fruit options it works, but perhaps not for more than one egg.
  • Egg Replacer - I trialled Organ's egg replacer with my daughter last night. Not brilliant, a bit heavy but ok.  She prefers the pear option!
  • Go without!! This recipe really works and as a large cake recipe is virtually unbeatable as an egg free option. Also, research "Crazy Cake" which is very similar, these recipes are from the days when rationing and scarcity made egg-free recipes a necessity.

The chart below is widely available on different sites and has more ideas.

It's really a case of trial and error. I've made these pancakes very successfully with a pot of pear puree, you cannot taste the pear and they rise beautifully. 

The following has even more helpful information, I've discovered you really have to bite the bullet and just experiment, and also try new ways of doing things that just don't use eggs. Good luck!


Friday, 2 September 2016

It's been a while... #FewFoodDiet

I've been really slack about updating - but the truth is, this is HARD. Really hard. Not being a stranger to exclusion diets I knew it would be, but nothing prepares you for the reality that is an indignant, stroppy tweenager who understandably wants to be like her friends and is facing a *much* longer term than expected of a very limited diet.

We've made progress, mostly by sensible planned means - but I confess in absolute desperation we tried some BFree rolls before every ingredient had been tested and thankfully, these are ok. This success not only brought a bumper set of accepted foods but a real possibility of a school packed lunch! This is not to be sniffed at, in a school where packed lunches are not permitted, she really will be the *only* child having one, and if it's as near normal as possible that matters. A lot.

We've done well with carbs. Protein - not so much. And she's now completely refusing every possible (sneaky) attempt to get chickpea into her diet as it's now "revolting". This is a stage all parents face on similar exclusion diets, the child is understandably feeling utterly out of control and I completely understand why she needs to do this. She's telling me that whilst she accepts the restrictions imposed by her medical team, she still calls the shots. Her body - her rules.

This, in my opinion, is vitally important to appreciate. We couldn't have embarked on this without her consent. Giving a degree of control, where appropriate really helps though - for example, blood tests really panic her, causing a rapid escalation into anxiety which she can barely cope with. So we've now adopted the policy that she has control, she makes the choices, but she needs to understand why they are necessary. On the whole it works too. She tells the doctor or nurse where they are allowed to put the needle (hand, arm etc) and whether she has cream, spray or nothing. Within reason she has the right to refuse too - although she hasn't yet, because she's in control and is actually pretty sensible for a ten year old.

So we've also followed her list of priorities for food introductions too, which sadly hasn't included much protein! We've made pancakes (above) using a pot of pear puree instead of egg, my fruit, cashew and seed bites  with a few alterations and she's done a fair bit of experimenting too. She enjoys the BFree pittas with lettuce, sweetcorn and carrot chopped inside, with some Violife cheese in. I just wish there was some protein in it!

On the (hugely) positive side, when she's not reacting to new foods, I have a daughter who barely refluxes. Seriously. Hardly at ALL. After 10 1/2 years of moderate to severe reflux this is life changing - and if the unpleasant bowel and urinary symptoms are indeed delayed and related, we could be looking at one seriously healthy and happy young girl.

Which makes it all worthwhile.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

When things don't go to plan!

It's been a rollercoaster couple of weeks here on our few foods diet journey. K became unwell with a rather nasty urinary tract infection and ended up on strong antibiotics. She's allergic to penicillin and the one she was given didn't agree with her tummy unfortunately. This really messed up food trials since we couldn't properly trial whilst she was on them - for ten days.

To make matters worse, we were away for a few days - our only few days away this summer - and she desperately wanted to enjoy the treats her twin brother was able to have, however limited! He was brilliant, and we even had real tears of compassion on one occasion as he felt so sorry for his sister. We have also had tears from her, and meltdowns, anger, frustration and plain sadness. It's not an easy road.

On our third day away she ate nothing in protest, and then said she wanted some of my food that evening or she wasn't eating the next day either. She can be VERY stubborn!! In desperation I didn't stop her - and the vegetarian bean mixture she had two spoonfuls of caused her reflux and other symptoms to *really* flare. In some ways this was harder, because she had control, but it didn't do her any favours and she felt utterly defeated.

We've got over this (massive but not unexpected) hiccup and have since successfully trialled pea protein which is truly fabulous as she can soon hopefully have her Violife cheeses and the Wot no Dairy? yoghurts back. Coconut needs to be soon on the hit list to facilitate these, and apple. However since she  reacted to that meal of mine we also have a list of possible/probable culprits comprising onion, garlic, pepper, haricot beans and lentils to get through.

Diets like this are incredibly difficult for anyone, for kids it can seem arbitrary and unfair even if you totally agreed to it in the first place. When your peers, friends and twin BROTHER for goodnessake can eat lollies, chocolate and Haribo and you can't, the world is a very unfair place. We have limited his treats too - and ensure he has them out of sight but as she said today
"That's kind of irrelevant though, isn't it? Because I *know* he could have them, if you gave them to him. I have lost so many choices."
Out of the mouths of babes...

She did have a choice of course - this WAS her choice, and it's proving incredibly worthwhile. But that doesn't make it any easier, and although she will admit having significantly less reflux is "pretty cool", she's still a tweenager with attitude and I'm her emotional punchbag. And when you are that age, life is rarely "fair".

Distraction is definitely the best policy, and we are keeping busy!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Potato, chickpea and cashew fritters

Another attempt at varying my daughter's diet!! We have successfully trialled and tolerated corn, so officially we are on 7 foods, but this is one without corn from earlier in the week.

If your foods are different, maybe you can substitute? Hopefully these suggestions will offer some ideas for anyone on a few food diet, even if your foods are not the same as ours.


  • Either peel and boil 2 large baking size potatoes, or cheat like me, microwave them, allow them to cool then peel them!
  • Blend half a tin of chickpeas in the food processor
  • Add some cashew cream and mash together
  • Form into balls and roll in rice flour
  • Shallow fry

TIP You could also add a vegetable of your choice, carrot is our vegetable at the moment but my daughter is enjoying it separately.

Pear Crumble


Only Pear, Rice Flour and a little olive oil.

NB when poaching the pears do NOT add water, cover with clingfilm and they poach in their own juice. 


  • Peel, slice and poach pears in the microwave. Allow to cool. 
  • Pour off the juice - not down the sink as you will need it!Bake at 180C or 160C Fan)
  • For the crumble, you need about 4oz rice flour per 3 pears, but it's very much an individual thing as to how you like your fruit to topping ratio! 
  • Add the pear juice and around 100ml of oil - I have a Kenwood mixer so I tend to turn it on low, then add the liquid until I get the desired effect - which is when you see small clumps. If you are working the liquid into the flour by hand in a bowl, use your fingertips and don't put it all in at once.
  • Put the pears in a dish and sprinkle the crumble mix on top. Bake at 180C (or 160C fan) for 10-15 minutes until golden on the top.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Necessity is the Mother of Invention - Pancakes and Puddings

We are now well into our second week of our #fewfood journey, I'm delighted to say that my daughter's symptoms are very much improved. They are far from gone - but given the she has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome as well as food allergies it was never going to be a complete cure, but it's really significant progress and she's delighted - as am I!

She is, however getting a little bored of her six foods, and has almost completely rejected chickpeas other than as gram flour which a bit of a blow. It means protein will be high on the agenda for trials. I promised I would try and make some new desserts, other than just pears.

I've bought some rice porridge flakes from Marks and Spencer which have been a fantastic success mixed with pear puree. I also tried my own rice pudding, with pudding rice and rice milk. I loved it - K prefers the porridge!

I also decided to experiment making "pancakes'. I figured that I could use olive oil instead of the margarine I would normally use, brown rice flour, and some pear puree instead of an egg since fruit does have some impact as a raising agent. It was actually pretty successful! 

I made the "pancakes" like drop scones, or scotch pancakes. I followed the quantities for the fat and flour and then added a tablespoon of puree instead of the egg and whisked with a hand balloon whisk. Some people have had good luck with sparkling water and flour alone, this recipe here uses millet flour and  sparkling water with good success.

The key to living with only a handful of foods we've discovered, is to keep an open mind. These won't taste like the best Shrove Tuesday pancakes you've ever tasted, or the best stack of scotch pancakes your grandma makes.... but they DID taste good and by experimenting we've added another meal to the list and staved off the boredom of life with six foods.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Homemade Houmous - Life with Six Foods

So we've started our few food diet. Day 3 so far..... the current breakfast favourite is puffed rice cereal with rice milk, then if I can persuade her some cashew butter on a rice cake, a handful of nuts or a pear.

Lunch so far has relied on our homemade houmous, which is literally a can of chick peas, a little permitted olive oil blended to the right consistency. I'm making use of all my tiny Sistema pots to store it in for a couple of days in the fridge!

Initially the houmous didn't go down well - she's used to the shop bought versions which have sesame and garlic in. However we've persevered and she's eating it. I also tried rolling a ball of it in gram flour and frying as patties, I thought these were delicious but she remains to be convinced!! (Photo to follow!)

We've added carrot sticks, plain crisps, pear chunks and pear puree, rice cakes and cashew butter, etc and today K made her own lunch.  The rice cakes have a thick layer of cashew butter between, and the pot has the homemade houmous in.

It's not as filling as a regular free from wrap/sandwich so she had another round of rice cakes and cashew butter a couple of hours later, with a pear - but she has started to think this through herself a little.

Tea yesterday was oven chips, a second attempt at pan fried houmous patties and today is pasta from gram flour with a carrot sauce. I'm blending well-cooked carrots which have been boiled with a little rosemary, to create a "sauce" for the pasta. Poached pear for dessert - tomorrow I'm attempting rice pudding! Either tomorrow or the next day I will also be making these - potato cakes are a firm favourite here!


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