Friday, 17 July 2015

Free From Fridays Linky

This week I am co-hosting #Freefromfridays, a regular linky on featuring free from recipes from across the web.

Free From Farmhouse

Linkys are an excellent way for Bloggers to join together and make a bigger impact, and for readers to easily access more information and ideas beyond the single page they are reading. For me, it's a fantastic way to discover what everyone else is doing in the #freefrom world, and an excellent way to gain new ideas.

For example, I have never used Teff flour in my cooking. Last week Nicola at A Free From Life added her link of the week, for Chocolate Teff Shortbread.  As a result I have researched Teff flour and will be using it in baking myself!

What is Teff?

Teff is a tiny grain with BIG health benefits. The history of Teff can be traced back thousands of years, to ancient Abyssinia, and is mostly grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is naturally gluten free, has a nutty favour and is extremely nutritious. Teff has more calcium and iron than any other grain, and is also a good source of Vitamin C. It's made up of 20-40% "resistant starch" too, excellent for blood sugar regulation and colon health. We will definitely be giving it a try!

I was also attracted to the "Almond and Pea Protein Pastry" from last week, as I am constantly trying to pack as much protein in for my daughter, who because of food allergies and chewing difficulties is often low on protein in her diet.

So if you Blog about food, and have some #freefrom recipes to share, please join in!

How to join in #Freefromfridays:-

1. Write a new blog post including the Free From Fridays badge or add it an existing recipe (Just copy the code below the image and paste it on your page)

2. Add your post to the linky form by using the ‘Add your link’ button

3.  Leave a comment below and visit at least 2 other recipes to comment on

4. Tweet your link to @freefromfarm using hashtag #freefromfridays so I can spread the word! 

Please tweet me at @Twinsplustwo and Emma @freefromfarm using hashtag #freefromfridays so we can share your recipes across social media.

Free From Farmhouse

  • It would be useful if you can label the main allergens your dishes are free from in the linky title to help others search suitable recipes:-

    DF: Dairy Free 
    EF: Egg Free 
    GF: Gluten Free 
    SyF: Soya Free 
    SF: Sesame Free 
    NF: Nut free 
    PF: Peanut free 

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    Sunday, 12 July 2015

    Marmite or Chocolate? Picnic Pinwheels

    With another summer picnic on the horizon I trawled back through my recipes and found my recipe for Marmite Pinwheels. I decided to make two batches, one with safe chocolate spread and one with marmite! Can you guess which is which?

    Bizarrely, my little chocoholic preferred the marmite ones, my lover-of-all-things-savoury preferred the chocolate ones. They guessed pretty quickly too!

    These are best warm/fresh from the oven.

    Is Marmite Gluten Free?  

    Previously, Marmite was previously deemed to have only very low gluten levels and therefore be acceptable on a Coeliac diet - read here.

    Recent changes to the European Codex have ruled that foods labelled "Gluten Free" much contain less than 20ppm. Marmite falls slightly outside this limit.
    "Results have met the criteria for the old international Codex standard for “gluten free” (below 200ppm) and the recently introduced EU regulatory limit for “very low gluten” (less than 100ppm), but not the recently introduced EU regulatory limit for “gluten-free” (less than 20ppm)."
    So it's usually ok, and certainly my daughter tolerates it but including it needs to be an informed decision in discussion with your child's health professional.

    Friday, 10 July 2015

    Funky Giraffe Bibs - a Product Review & Giveaway!

    I was invited to review a selection of five bibs, and selected one personalised, one XL and three other regular bandana bibs. These were sent free of charge and I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own.

    Having struggled with infant reflux with all four of my children, I have always seen bibs as something of a necessity (something to buy in bulk!) rather than a luxury. Changing clothes constantly was exhausting, but could be reduced if copious absorbent bibs were to hand. My children were always sporting a bib, which I detested as usually they hid their clothes.

    In the past I've seen pretty bibs, but they rarely do the job if your child is refluxing all day. So when the Funky Giraffe company contacted me, asking if I would review their bibs, I had a read.... and responded with a very enthusiastic YES PLEASE!

    About Funky Giraffe

    Funky Giraffe was started by Yasmin during her maternity leave from the fashion company she worked for. Having a child shifted her priorities somewhat, and along with her brother (who runs the manufacturing side) they have launched Funky Giraffe to offer quality items at affordable prices. The bandana bibs came first, but have been followed by a range of hats, romper suits, burp clothes and other baby clothes.

    The current range includes :-

    Bandana bibs from £1.98
    Personalised Bandana bibs from £4
    XL bandana bibs from £3
    Burp cloths from £4
    Hats from £4
    Playsuits/rompers from £7

    Incredibly, post and packing is free, the full range of prices can be found on their website

    Funky Giraffe has sites across the world, so you can benefit from easy ordering wherever you are.

    For Australia visit 
    For France visit
    For Spain visit
    For Italy visit
    For the USA visit
    For Germany visit


    I was invited to review a selection of five bibs, and selected one personalised, on XL and three other regular bandana bibs. These were sent free of charge and I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own.

    About the bibs

    From Funky Giraffe -
    "We only use high quality cotton fabrics for our bibs and baby clothes. The bibs have a fleece backing, as after much experimentation we found this best at keeping baby's chest dry. They are shaped to fit around the neck without causing discomfort and have two sets of nickel free poppers. They are designed to last from birth to an age where they should normally not need them, the idea you only need to buy them once. " NB For older children there is an XL size if required.

    My thoughts

    Since my own children are long past infancy I have not been able to test these properly. However I can honestly say I am quite impressed. They are fairly thick and would definitely prevent immediate leakage through to the baby's chest - and even their clothes, and seem well made.  This is a significant improvement on most bibs on the market. I did feel however that the personalised bib was thinner than the others sent to me, and not such good quality. I think I would be a bit disappointed if this were the one I had paid more for.

    The neckline was soft, not tight but sufficiently close to the neck I felt to prevent dribble or milk disappearing down the back. The colours were lovely, strong and the personalised one didn't fade when I washed it. The second set of poppers is an excellent idea, providing they don't become stained or marked these bibs would definitely grow with your baby.

    What I particularly liked about the product was the versatility. Because they are inexpensive you can buy several to mix and match with your baby' clothes, so it looks like they are part of the overall outfit rather than a necessity to cover them up. I would have really valued them for my children when all I could find were baby blue or pink thin cotton bibs which were quickly soaked and obviously not chosen to team up with their clothes.

    STOP PRESS!! Originally I offered the three bandana bibs in the photo below in my giveaway, but the wonderful people at Funky Giraffe are now offering TEN as a prize!

    (These ten will be chosen by the company, but if anyone prefers the three in the photo below I will honour that. It's either 10 random ones or the three pictured below.)


    3 Funky Giraffe Bandana Bibs
    SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

    Thursday, 9 July 2015

    Quick, protein rich lasagne

    Dairy free, gluten free, wheat free, soya free, could be egg free

    Struggling for a quick and easy idea for tea, and inspired by a not dissimilar suggestion from our Facebook group, I made this.

    Basically I mixed a can of Amy's Spanish Rice and Red Bean soup with some quinoa, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a little free from couscous. (optional)

    Bring to the boil with enough water for the couscous and leave to cool. This is your "red lasagne sauce".  Now I was in a hurry so I didn't make a white sauce, just layered with free from pasta, finishing with a layer of breadcrumbs for a crispy topping. Then bake. It freezes really well, and the leftover sauce is great with rice, on a jacket potato or with pasta!

    Only eight more weeks of rushing around like a loon until term starts, this is set to be a favourite speedy supper here!

    Monday, 29 June 2015

    Swiss Roll

    This gluten, wheat, dairy and soya free masterpiece was actually made by my thirteen year old son! He came home from school with it today and wowed his siblings who couldn't believe their luck!!

    • 3 eggs
    • 75g your choice of free from self raising flour, preferably not just rice flour. 
    • 75g caster sugar 

    • Grease and line a 23cm x 30cm/9in x 12in Swiss roll tin 
    • Preheat oven to 200c (180C for Fan)
    • Whisk eggs and sugar together until they are a pale white bubbly texture.
    • Sieve the flour and fold it in. (Harry says this must be done in a figure of eight :)  )
    • Pour it on the baking tray and bake for ten minutes
    • Lift it out using the sides of the paper and leave to cool
    • Sprinkle caster sugar onto another piece of baking paper, and carefully transfer the cake
    • Spread with jam, roll up using the paper to help and hold in place for a few seconds until it retains its shape.
    • Dust with icing sugar and serve!

    Free From Farmhouse

    Saturday, 13 June 2015

    Carrot Cake

    This is a regular carrot cake recipe which I adapted to make it gluten free, dairy free and soya free. I needed to find a tasty way of using up my Carrot Spaghetti which I was delighted to find in Tesco the other day, and it worked a treat!

    Although the cake recipe is not free from as many top allergens as I would like for inclusion here, I was completely thrilled with my finds in Tesco. For seriously restricted kids, whose main nutritional needs are covered by amino acid based elemental formula, both the carrot and courgette spaghetti they now stock in their larger stores offer a real increase in variety for many. They also have diced veg packs, which for someone like me who cooks in bulk, are like finding an extra hour in the day!

    So, here is my carrot cake recipe, which went down very well here! It was a little crumbly on top which made neat cutting difficult but fine throughout the body of the cake. Moist but not soggy.


    • 125 g Dove's Self Raising Flour, or your own choice (but probably not just rice flour alone)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon 
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 175ml vegetable oil
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 175g carrot spaghetti chopped first with scissors (or grated carrot)
    • 60g chopped walnuts (optional)
    • Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4
    • Grease/line a 7" round cake tin
    • Stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and sugar
    • Add the oil and eggs until fully mixed
    • Stir in carrot and nuts
    • Bake for 25 minutes

    You will see I haven't used any frosting. This is partly due to the already high sugar content of the cake, partly the lack of cream cheese alternative. It was really moist however and no one missed the additional layer! 

    Free From Farmhouse

    Link up your recipe of the week

    Friday, 5 June 2015

    Not waving, but drowning.

    Both The Times and The Telegraph are today running stories on concern over middle class children being starved due to misplaced parental concern over food allergies. Clearly this article has been shared between both newspapers but what concerns me is the complete lack of medical advice or concrete information on the subject amongst the sweeping accusations made. Whilst loosely based on the collaborative report in Sense About Science  on Allergy, it's just another scaremongering article which belongs in the gutter press and helps no one. Indeed, the original report, whilst more balanced, still neglects to described the non IgE food allergies so many - including my family - suffer from.

    I'm sure there is some genuine cause for concern, and it's true to say that more affluent parents are more likely to fall foul of the latest food fad since a)they have more money to spend on their children and therefore have greater choice and b) possibly more time to consider the options. (A child in my daughter's class is "allergic" to sandwiches, but eats cakes and biscuits with wheat in...) Certainly middle class tooth decay is no myth, as one comedian observed in his comment on raisins being "middle class crack for kids" our obsession with meeting the "Five a Day" guidelines led many to unwittingly feed their children frequent fruit snacks which were so full of sugar that the incidence of tooth decay soared amongst children of the better off.

    The Gwyneth Paltrow's of this world do little to help, and the media should know better than to support the celeb drive for fashionable exclusion diets. Convinced that they "feel healthier" off wheat, gluten or whatever the latest craze is, they apply the same warped logic to their children, thus controlling their diet too. In a world where fast food is ubiquitous and many children are overweight- even obese - I can see they might find this attractive, but they would receive no medical support for this. Perhaps the media should focus their attention specifically on such a group, striving to enlighten and advise rather than tar all allergy parents with the same brush? The way to avoid indiscriminate attacks like today's articles is to write responsibly and include a little factual information at least somewhere in your piece - either that or write for the Daily Mirror...

    I wrote here about Free From foods not being a Lifestyle choice - and for many they most certainly are not. Eating "freefrom" food is not a lifestyle choice for the vast majority who do so, it's a no-alternative, medically imposed way of life and to suggest otherwise is both ignorant and offensive. What is really crucial here, is explaining the difference between systemic IgE allergies, and non IgE allergies. They are both allergies, both involve the immune system and neither is an intolerance. Despite being detailed in the NICE guidelines of February 2011 most doctors are still ignorant of  Non IgE responses to food proteins, still confusing them with intolerances which involve sugars.

    The difference is that non IgE patients don't risk their lives on a one-off encounter with a protein they react to. The reaction will be slower, possibly delayed and more insidious. You can read about it here but the main symptoms are likely to be as follows:-

    IgE (systemic) allergy

    non IgE (local) reaction

    Most frustrating of all, YOU CANNOT TEST FOR NON-IGE ALLERGIES. So there might be no initial reaction, no "waving" - but the sufferer is still "drowning" - having an allergic reaction under the surface.

    So I cannot prove to you, here and now, that my daughter reacts horribly to soya. But come and spend a couple of days with us and watch and THEN I can demonstrate to you how she suffers. Telling me she is not allergic because you watched her eat something with soya in and she didn't stop breathing is down to ignorance - not prejudice, and the media should act responsibly and add some degree of education in its articles to avoid perpetuating this awful situation. 

    My kids have EGID - Eosinophilic Disease. If they eat food their body has a local reaction to then inflammation occurs in the gut. Basic bodily functions such as digestion, absorption and defecation don't happen as nature intended. And that's the VERY short version. EGID is a very unpleasant, poorly understood, emergent disease, with other unpleasant symptoms beyond the gut. It often goes with other disorders too, Hypermobility Syndrome, EDS and (as is increasingly noted) Autism. We have the full house here. For the EGID side of things we are dairy, soya, wheat, gluten free and on minimal egg, beef and other foods. One of my kids used to be tube fed and without a strict exclusion diet he was heading towards bowel surgery due to chronic inflammation and resultant nerve damage.. And we are the lucky ones - I know far too many children who cannot eat at all - some whom the media, in particular the Daily Mail - seek to advertise as rare and bizarre anomalies. Sadly their numbers are dramatically increasing.

    For reasons unknown to current researchers and health professionals there is a cluster of cases of this formerly rare disease in the Home Counties and London, and again, for unknown reasons vitamin deficiencies often PRECEDE this condition. There is current research into Vitamin D levels and gut allergies, which needs further funding - which is going to be less likely when such drivel is written in the media. Less than 1% of ALL research funding goes on gastrointestinal conditions, NONE on paediatric gastrointestinal conditions - despite health professionals widely acknowledging that children with chronic gastrointestinal diseases having the poorest quality of life of all chronically sick children.

    So whilst there might be some incidence of middle class over reaction to food allergies, just as you would not publish a thesis without some research and a decent evidence base, no health article should be based on hearsay either. The media needs to start exercising some responsibility for what they publish.  Articles like this trivialise serious conditions like Eosinophilic Disease instead of educate their readers on how to seek advice if they suspect their child has a problem with a certain food.  We need greater awareness (see here) with accurate information which would not only make misunderstanding less likely, but offer greater community to support to those really suffering.


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