Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Mini Chicken and Leek Tarts

This recipe came about as I was making a chicken and leek pie for dinner, but knew that T couldn't eat the puff pastry topping that we were having. I had a bit of leftover pastry from the jam tart recipe, and made these as well. Why not top with some mashed potato and make a dish for the whole family?


6 skinless chicken thighs - chopped (you could use breast as well or instead)
couple of sprigs of thyme
2 leeks
2 large while onions
1 salt free chicken stock cube
1 tbsp flour
250mls Oatly milk
1 tsp wholegrain mustard - optional
Ready rolled shortcrust pasty
Olive oil


1. Soften the leeks and onions in a frying pan with a little of the oil.
2. In a separate frying pan, cook the chopped chicken thighs with the thyme. Set aside once cooked.
3. Add the flour and crumble in the stock cube into the leeks until it is all coated.
4. Add the oatly milk and stir until you get a thick sauce forming. Allow to simmer and reduce. Add the mustard at this point if you are using it.
5. Once the leek mixture has reduced, add the chicken back into the mixture and stir so everything is evenly distributed.
6. Remove the pastry from its wrapper and cut into circles about 12cm in diameter.

7. Place the pastry circles into a muffin tin that has been greased (I used dairy free spread). Prick the pastry with a fork and place in an oven at 180C for 5-8minutes until it has started to cook.
8. Remove the pastry from then oven and put a generous spoonful of chicken and leek mix into each pastry case.
9. Put back into the oven for another 10-15mins until the pastry is golden.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving!

Additions and alternatives -

Rather than make lots of individual tarts, use the pastry to line a 20cm round tart tin. Prick with a fork   and cook for 10minutes before adding the chicken and leek mix. Cook instead for 20minutes.

Add a mashed potato topping, or serve with mashed potato on the side.

See more of my dairy free recipes. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Dairy free pizza

This was inspired by a trip to Pizza express. We always order the bolognese for T, but I thought that he can't miss out on pizza! Making pizza dough is surprisingly easy, you just need a bit of time on your side. 


250g Bread flour
1 packet dried yeast (7g)
2 tbsp olive oil
150mls lukewarm water
Jar of sundried tomato paste (check that it is dairy free). 
Whatever toppings you can think of! (see below for some ideas)

  • Measure out the flour into a large bowl (or use your work surface in the kitchen)
  • Make a well in the flour
  • In a separate bowl, mix the water, yeast and olive oil and leave for a few minutes until the yeast starts to ferment. 
  • Pour the yeast mixture into the well of the flour. 
  • Initially combine with a spoon, and then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic

Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic

  • Put the dough back into a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave in a warm place for 45mins-1 hour. 
  • Once the dough is doubled, turn it back out onto a floured surface and knock the air out. 
  • Cut the dough into 4 equally sized pieces and roll these out with a rolling pin. 
  • Place the pizza bases onto a lightly oiled baking paper and top with your desired toppings. 

This recipe made enough for four small pizzas. 

Ideas for toppings:

Ham and mushroom
Dairy free cheese (if your baby can tolerate soya)
Chicken and sweetcorn
Tomato and basil
Tuna and green pepper

Ham, mushroom and basil pizzas. 

  • Bake in the oven for 15mins at 200C until the dough has cooked through. 
  • Serve with a tomato salad and enjoy!

PS - you can always make some for yourself too! 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Ok, I'll be honest, my husband liked these much more than T did! I made a batch and stored them in the fridge for a quick and easy snack on the go, and when pressed for time. Give them a go yourself. 


1 sweet potato - boiled until soft.  

100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
150mls milk replacement 


1. Place the cooked sweet potatoes into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth

3. In a frying pan, place a splash of olive or rapeseed oil, then put a large spoonful of the mixture into the pan and cook on both sides. I made four small pancakes in each batch in the same frying pan. 

Always supervise your child eating.

Baby chilli

With the nights drawing in, comfort food for chilli becomes all the more appealing. Chilli is a great dish for putting lots of hidden vegetables in, and the lack of spice in this dish is   made up for by the flavour! 

This dish can be a handy way to hide extra veggies in!


100g lean minced beef
1 white onion
1 small courgette
1 carrot
1 red pepper
1 clove garlic
1/2 tin kidney beans
400g chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp cumin 
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 small tbsp marmite (optional)
small pinch of chilli powder (optional)
olive oil 
1 salt-free beef stock cube


1. Finely chop all the vegetables and slice the garlic. 
2. Place the onions and garlic into a large saucepan to soften, but don't let brown. 
3. Add the rest of the vegetables to soften, then add the mince to brown. 
4. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and spices. 
5. Allow to simmer for at least 30mins. 
6. Once all cooked serve with rice or with a jacket potato. 


This can easily be made into a veggie chilli, just replace the minced beef with a mixture of lentils and cannellini beans and the beef stock with vegetable stock. 

See more of my dairy free recipes. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Dairy free sources of calcium

Having trouble getting your little one enough calcium in their diet? 

Have a look at this post about dairy free sources of calcium. 

Green vegetables are surprisingly high in levels of calcium 

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Easy Holidays!

We've just returned from an easydairyfree holiday! Unfortunately no where near as glam as this beach. We stayed in a villa in Majorca with some friends, which was ideal for us, as it gave us control of what and when we ate. 

Honeymoon in Mauritius - maybe again some day!?

Travelling when abroad with a diary free (or any other food allergy) baby can be difficult. Here are some top tips for travelling:

  • Start packing early! The key to a stress free holiday is in having everything ready and planned ahead. You'll have a much better idea of what you need if you can see it all laid out. 
  • Print out a packing list. It is inevitable that you will forget something! You can download these easily from the internet. We managed to forget the child camera unit of the baby monitor (but successfully brought the parent unit!)
  • Get an umbrella pram. Most airlines will let you take 2 items of baby equipment, so leave your beloved bugaboo at home and get a cheap lightweight pram (I found one for £20 in the local charity shop). You won't be devastated if it gets lost or destroyed. 
  • If you formula feed (especially with prescription hydrolysed milk), then make sure not only you have enough to last you the length of the holiday, but also some extra in case of flight delays or emergencies. If you're going away for a week, have enough milk for 12 days for example, or 2 weeks - have enough for 3. Just think worse case scenario - what happens if you spill a tub, or one goes AWOL with some lost luggage!
  • If needed, you can call ahead to a Boots at the airport to request baby food/milk be ordered for you. This saves time at the security gates. 
  • Forget about taking bulky sterilisers or solutions. You can get small microwavable sterilising bags that usually can be used 20 or so times before they need to be replaced. 
  • Bring your own food if necessary! We just returned from holiday and took some dairy free snacks in the hold luggage because we weren't sure what we could get on holiday. Of particular use was taking a small jar of cashew nut butter - it was used LOTS!
  • Learn (and write down) the translation for "dairy allergy" and "no milk" if you are going to be ordering food out and about for your baby. This is probably especially important if your language skills stopped at about GCSE time. 

This little jar made the journey on holiday with us! 

Plan your meals

This is probably what helped the most in creating a stress free holiday with T. We stayed in a villa, so it was easy to prepare our own meals for T and take them out and about with us. 

Here is an example of our week's menu for T:

Shopping list
  • Weetabix (pack of 12)
  • Small bag of rice
  • Small bag of pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts.
  • 6 eggs. 
  • 1 x Cucumber
  • 1 x Avocado
  • Tomatoes (fresh)
  • Small loaf Wholemeal Bread
  • Tinned sweetcorn (x1)
  • Tinned tomatoes (x1)
  • Jam (the adults helped to eat this too!)
  • Small bag new potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges, melon, plums, bananas and pears.  
Brought from home:
  • Rice cakes
  • Organix gingerbread biscuits
  • Bread sticks
  • Boots Fruit pots (pack of 4)
  • Small jar cashew nut butter. 
  • Salt free stock cubes for cooking rice, pasta sauce etc. 

Day 1 
Breakfast - Weetabix, chopped melon
Lunch - Avocado slices, cashew nut butter on toast
Dinner - Mushroom omelette, slices of plum

Day 2 
Breakfast - Weetabix, slices of orange, peeled and deseeded. 
Lunch - Chunks of local bread, cucumber, tomato slices. Fruit pot 
Dinner - Chicken with sweetcorn and rice (made double the portion)

Day 3
Breakfast - Scrambled egg. Banana
Lunch - Leftover chicken with sweetcorn and rice. Sliced pear. 
Dinner - Fish with chunks of new potato and carrot. Melon.

Day 4
Breakfast - Weetabix. Orange slices. 
Lunch - Cashew nut butter and jam sandwiches. Cucumber and tomato chunks. Pear. 
Dinner - Tomato pasta. Fruit pot. 

Day 5
Breakfast - Weetabix. Chopped plum
Lunch - Leftover tomato pasta. Rice crackers and cashew nut butter. 
Dinner - Chunks of chicken with avocado and cucumber. Fruit pot. 

Day 6 
Breakfast - Weetabix. Banana
Lunch - Chunks of chicken with cucumber and tomato. 
Dinner - Tomato pasta. Fruit pot

Day 7 
Breakfast - Weetabix. Pear
Lunch - Chicken and tomato rice with sweetcorn. 
Dinner - Mushroom omelette, what ever fruit is leftover to clear the fridge!

It was fairly easy with a reasonably small selection of ingredients to come up with different menus for each day that offered variety. I wouldn't necessarily feed this to T every week, but in the interests of minimising waste, it worked very well. 

Fresh local ingredients can make mealtimes even more inviting. 

If you have any dairy free travelling tips, then please share them too! 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Dairy free grown ups: Chicken and Tomato Bake

This recipe was introduced to me by a friend, and like with all good recipes, it adapts and changes over time. This recipe originally started as this Jamie Oliver recipe, but I've worked my own version of it.

It's not the quickest of recipes, but it is one of the easiest I've come across. You just need to put all the ingredients into a dish, place it in the oven, and it can be forgotten about for the next hour or so, when you get out a mouth-watering rush of steaming aromas. This is probably a bit too salty for babies under 1 year due to the addition of the stock cubes - you could use salt free ones instead if you are planing on feeding this to your little one too.

Jamie Oliver's version
Chicken thighs or legs, or a mixture of both. Allow 2 portions per person, (more if hungry!)
Cherry or santorini tomatoes, chopped in half - 2 handfuls
2 chicken stock cubes
2 tins cannellini beans, drained
1 pinch chilli flakes
Couple of lugs of olive oil. 
Splash of water 
Basil leaves to serve
Salt and pepper (optional)

Heat the oven to 200C. 
Place the tins of beans in the bottom of a large, oven proof dish. Crumble a the chicken stock cubes of the top of these. 
Add the sliced tomatoes and the chicken portions on the top.
Season (if desired) and then add the water (about half a mugful should be enough to get a lovely sauce going in the bottom of the dish), and the olive oil over the top. 
Place in the oven for approximately 1-2hrs, until the chicken has become crispy and the tomatoes have released their juices into the pan too. 
Arrange a few basil leaves on top once cooked. 

To serve: you can have this on its own, or with crusty bread. We also had this the other night with a side of wild rice and kale. 

My version - hopefully not too dissimilar! 

Monday, 24 August 2015

How to start weaning

So congratulations! You have survived the first six months, this is a huge feat anyway, not to mention having a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy!

The WHO and the Department of Health recommend that babies are fed breast (or formula) milk exclusively for the first six months of their lives. Any decision to wean your baby earlier than this should be taken in line with your dietician or doctor. 

It's important to wait, as this gives the baby's digestive system time to mature, and can reduce the risk of allergies later in life. 

So how do you start weaning?
Admittedly, this can be quite daunting for a first time (or even second or third!) parent. The signs that your baby is ready to start include:
  1. They can sit and hold their head steady (note this does not mean that they can sit independently without support, you may end up waiting for some time in that case!)
  2. They have the coordination to bring objects to their mouths with their hands
  3. He or she can swallow food (meaning they have lost their "tongue thrust" reflex which pushes food out of their mouths).
Have a look at the NHS weaning page about more information on how to start. 

What do I need to start weaning?
Not much really. A sturdy high chair, bibs, bowls and spoons will be good enough to start with. Depending on the route you want to take, you may need a hand blender and ice-cube trays if you want to give your baby purees. 

What are my options?
There are two broad schools of thought with regards to baby weaning. Some parents start with the more traditional puree route, and some do baby led weaning. Some combine the two (this is what I did). Don't be surprised if you find you don't have much of a say in the matter. Some parents who are adamant that they are going to try one method may find that they have babies who will only ever eat off a spoon, or ones that refuse to go near any cutlery!

With puree based weaning, you blend or mash single fruits or vegetables, getting your baby used to a range of tastes and flavours. As they get older, you can progress to combinations of flavours, and thicker, more lumpier textures and introduce finger foods later on. This was often chosen as  a method of weaning before the advice not to wean before six months as many babies weren't able to manage chunky finger foods due to the lack of oral motor skills.  

Baby led weaning involves giving your infant pieces of food to lick or suck from six months onwards, which they eventually progress to eating. Some babies are ready to begin self-feeding at six months, by some may not get the hang of it till much later (7 or 8 months). The important thing is that the baby dictates the pace. Initial attempts at baby led weaning may mean that little food is actually eaten at first, so it is important that breast or formula milk is not cut back until feeding is established. 

The basic principles of baby led weaning are (taken from Wikipedia):
  • At the start of the process the baby is allowed to reject food, and it may be offered again at a later date.
  • The child is allowed to decide how much it wants to eat. No "fill-ups" are to be offered at the end of the meal with a spoon.
  • The meals should not be hurried.
  • Sips of water are offered with meals.
  • Initially, soft fruits and vegetables are given. Harder foods are lightly cooked to make them soft enough to chew on even with bare gums.
  • Foods with clear danger, such as peanuts, are not offered.
  • Non-finger-foods, such as oatmeal and yogurt, may be offered with a spoon so the baby can learn to self-feed with a spoon.

What are the advantages of choosing one method?
Puree based weaning is often less messy (as you are in control of the spoon!), and you can clearly get an idea of how much baby is eating. However, it does require forward planning and can become time-consuming to peel, chop, cook and puree different types of food. Jars and packets of baby puree can contain lots of water, so it is advisable (and often somewhat cheaper) to make purees yourself. 

Baby led weaning is certainly messier, and there is some research to suggest that it helps babies to learn to self-regulate their food intake, reducing the risk of obesity and poor eating habits later in life. Have a look at this paper if you are interested. It has the advantage that you can more or less offer food from the family plate and does not involve separate cooking or preparation. 

Do I need to avoid any types of food?
Good question. Yes is the answer. There are some foods that are not suitable, which ever method of baby weaning you choose. These are:

  • Salt - no salt should be added to baby's food 
  • Sugar - there is simply no need for it! You can place your child at higher risk of tooth decay later on if you give him or her sugary drinks, sweets or chocolate. 
  • Honey - although rare, there is the risk of botulism from giving honey to an under 1 year old.
  • Nuts and seeds - whole nuts and seeds (like peanuts) pose a choking risk. As long as there is no family history of serious allergy, it is actually not recommended to delay introducing peanuts (in the form of peanut butter or cooked with peanut oil etc) anymore. If there is any serious allergy, you should contact your dietician or doctor about what's best for your child. 
  • Unpasteurised cheeses/blue cheese
Some foods are termed "highly allergenic foods", i.e., these are the ones that cause most food allergies, so should be introduced to your child with an element of caution if they suffer from multiple food allergies, (get medical advice in these cases). 

So I want to start with purees, what do I do now?
My advice would be to start with simple vegetable tastes first. Chose a time of day when baby is relaxed  and in a familiar environment. Try a couple of teaspoons and take your time. Let baby experience the flavour and play with the spoon. Don't worry if they reject it at first, it can take several goes for baby to accept this new experience, it's also a new challenge for him or her to learn how to move food around their mouth, this will take some getting used to too.  If you're struggling to get baby to accept anything, perhaps he or she isn't ready, so try again a different day.  It's also advisable to introduce any new foods at lunchtime as you have a while to watch for any signs of a reaction during the day. 

Try these for some early weaning schedules. If you feel confident, start to introduce finger foods at or before the fourth week of the schedule. 

After week 4, try introducing breakfast as well. This can be another serving of fruit or try adding cereal or toast. Have a look at dairy free breakfast ideas here

What sort of foods should I be introducing?
Good first foods to introduce are ones that are easy for your baby to digest. Why not try starting with the following. (Either cook gently by boiling or steaming and cut into sticks, or cook until soft and puree with a hand blender).  

  • Sweet potato
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Pear
  • Apple
  • Mashed banana
  • Carrot
  • Parsnip
To store pureed food, the easiest way I found was to buy some silicon ice trays. Pour the cooled puree into the trays, cover and freeze. Once frozen, I would tip the cubes out into labelled tupperware tubs. When T started to eat a bit more at each of his meals, I would combine cubes into flavour combinations, often combining fruits and vegetables. 

Once your baby is used to different flavours try combinations - here apple, sweet potato and butternut squash cubes waiting to be defrosted.

What about milk?
From 6 months, your baby still needs a minimum of 500-600mls/day of breast or formula milk. The best way to ensure this if you are breast feeding is to continue to feed on demand. Remember that milk should continue to provide most of your baby's nutritional needs until 1 year of age. 

Unlike other children, babies with CMA can't get calcium from sources like yogurts, creamy sauces or cheese. Calcium is essential to your growing child, so have a look at these non dairy sources of calcium instead. 

Once your child starts eating more, you will notice that they will gradually cut back on their daily milk intake, or having fewer or shorter breastfeeds. As a rule of thumb, if you think that your child is taking less than 300mls milk per day, you should speak to your dietician as they may require calcium supplementation. 

When can I introduce meat and fish?
Any time after 6 months! If you have waited until 6 months to wean your child, then their digestive system should be mature enough to handle it. If you have weaned before 6 months, then it's worth waiting until then to introduce meat to his or her diet. Start with easy, well tolerated meats such as chicken or white fish and progress from there. You can also introduce egg from 6 months to your child, but it should be well cooked. 

Always chose good quality meat and fish, and avoid processed meats such as sausages, bacon and burgers which are high in salt. Likewise, gravies and meat stocks are very high in salt as well and should be avoided. 

What precautions should I take since my child has CMA?
Since your child already has a dairy allergy, they may have allergies to other foods that they haven't tried yet. Foods like soya have a cross over with CMA in some cases. I would recommend keeping a weaning diary for your child where you can document your child's intake and note any potential reactions. 

Food diary for T - invaluable! 
Introducing foods gradually is also a good idea if your child is prone to food allergies. Try to introduce one new food every 3 days or so, and introduce them at lunchtime so you can watch for any rashes or reactions in the afternoon (better than introducing new foods at dinner time and spending all night with a poorly child!). 

What ever you decide to do, good luck! You're setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits. 

Meal ideas: Dairy free Pasta Dishes

Why not have a look at these easy dairy free pasta recipes for your little one? (Or even make a bigger portion for yourself?!) 

Beef Bolognese

Chicken and Broccoli pasta
Cheeky Courgette and Butternut Pasta

Tomato Pasta Stars with Tuna 

Always supervise your child eating. 
Please don't exclude food groups from you or your child's diet without seeking advice

Sunday, 23 August 2015

23 Incredibly Helpful Charts for New Parents

Have a look at this Buzzfeed page of incredibly useful charts. (It's from an American website, so may not all be entirely relevant!)

Friday, 21 August 2015

Dairy free grown ups: Asian Sticky salmon

If you are still breastfeeding, you know what a chore it can be to stay dairy free. Gone are all the lovely milky coffees, delicious cheeses and chocolatey desserts, but I think that this recipe more than makes up for it. It can be made as a midweek dinner if you plan ahead, or if you have a good local fishmonger, get a larger piece of salmon as a show stopping alternative Sunday roast. 

No reason baby couldn't have this too, as long as they weren't allergic to soy. 

1 salmon fillet per person or one whole side salmon to feed a crowd!
To marinade:
4 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 star anise
2 tsp Thai fish sauce (or pinch of fish paste)
3 garlic cloves

To serve: Sesame seeds (optional), mange tout, green beans and baby corn, soy sauce (optional) Rice. Red chillies (optional), lime wedges (optional) 

Mix the marinade ingredients together, pour over the salmon and leave for as long as possible to marinate, preferably overnight. 
When ready to cook, heat the oven to 22oC and place the salmon in a roasting tin. Save the marinading sauce. 
Get a saucepan of boiling water for the rice and cook for 10-12 minutes. 
Cook in the oven for 15-20mins. 
Meanwhile, transfer the marinade to a pan and simmer until it thickens. 
Pour the marinade over the salmon for the last 5 minutes of cooking to allow it to glaze. 
Wash the vegetables and place in a frying pan or wok for 3-6minutes until stir fried. Add a splash of soy sauce to the vegetables. 
When all is cooked, sprinkle some sesame seeds over the dish and serve with roughly chopped red chilli and lime wedges on the side. 

See more of my dairy free recipes. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Cheeky Courgette and Butternut Squash Pasta

This is another really easy recipe that you could enjoy as well.

Seasonal ingredients like courgettes are great
Pasta - the type you use will depend on whether you are making this dish for just baby or for you as well. I use the small pasta stars if just making this for T. 
1/2 medium butternut squash - peeled and chopped into small cubes. 
1 courgette - chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 knob of dairy free margarine


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. 
  2. Place the chopped courgette and butternut squash with the oregano in an oven proof roasting dish for approximately 30minutes. Drizzle over some olive oil. You will want to check on them regularly to make sure that they don't catch. 
  3. Meanwhile, boil the pasta in a pot of unsalted water as per the cooking instructions. 
  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain, and add the vegetables. 
  5. Add a knob of dairy free margarine while the pasta is still hot to allow it to melt. 
  6. When cool, serve and enjoy!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Chair project!

One of the things I never thought about maternity leave was how boring it could be at times! Now that T sleeps well and naps for about 2 hours over lunchtime, I found I needed lots of little projects to keep me occupied (not being the sort of person that can sit idly and do nothing). 

"Dear husband," I said one day, "Those battered old Ikea chairs, can I try and make them a bit better?"

"Err, well you couldn't make them any worse," replied He. 

So I began!

It took about two weeks to do these chairs, and it was a learn-on-the-job type of experience. So I hereby offer you my guide to "upcycling" (Ugh, hate that expression!) some simple chairs:

Step by step guide to chair makeover

1. Make sure that chair is clean, and remove the cushion unit by turing the chair over and unscrewing it from the chair frame. 

2. I used Annie Sloane chalk paint in Old White to cover these chairs. Thinning the paint down with water and doing two coats worked best. Each chair got a little better with each practice unfortunately! 

3. While you are waiting for the chairs to dry, you can cover the seats. You will need approx 1.5m of fabric (especially if you waste as much as me), some fabric scissors, and a staple gun. 

4. Fold the corners inwards towards the centre of the seat, then overlap each of the edges over it to make a neat corners. Staple the corners in place, then staple along the edges, pulling the material tight (but not too tight) towards the centre. The fabric I used was from John Lewis, unfortunately I can't find it on their website, but it was available in store at about £15/m. You can make the edges neater in a couple of ways - by folding them over, by stapling on tacking ribbon around the edges, or by cutting out another section of fabric to staple on over the top. Admittedly, I left mine as they were as I doubt few people will turn the chairs upside down to check!

5. Once the paint on the chairs has dried, you need to wax them to make the paint last. Do this by applying the wax with a brush all over the wood of the chair then buffing off with a cloth. 

6. When this is completed, you can attach the seats back on the chairs just by turing the chairs back over and screwing them back into place. 

7. Voila! Covered and new chairs. Just looking round the house for my next project now. (Eyes up wooden trunk in the corner of the spare bedroom...)

Have a look at my other projects here