Sunday, 26 July 2015

Polenta "Chips"

This recipe has been modified from this one in the River Cottage Veg book. They are so good, I cooked them for some friends who came round recently, and regularly make them when I fancy something different. I forgot to take any photos the last time I made them, but I'll edit this page when I next cook them! Photo below is courtesy of

They do take some planning, as you need to let the polenta cool slightly to chop into "chips". I also bake, rather than fry them. 


(This would serve 2 hungry adults)
100g quick cook polenta, 
400mls water, 
1 clove garlic finely diced, 
few sprigs of rosemary, again finely diced. (I used scissors to make chopping easier)
olive oil for brushing

You can scale this recipe up or down using 50g polenta with 200mls water. 


  1. Measure out the water and place in a saucepan to boil. 
  2. Find a baking tray with high edges and line with greaseproof paper. 
  3. Add the finely chopped garlic and rosemary to the water, followed by the polenta, stirring continuously. 
  4. Follow the instructions for cooking polenta on your packet, but generally it suggests cooking for about 5minutes for a "firm" polenta. Take care, as it bubbles volcanically! 
  5. Once cooked, tip the polenta into the baking tray, and spread it as evenly as you can.
  6. Leave to cool for at least 1 hour. 
  7. When cool, turn the polenta out, remove the greaseproof paper and cut into "chip" shapes. 
  8. Place the chips on a baking tray (I usually line this with greaseproof paper too, as my baking trays are  rubbish!)
  9. Brush with olive oil and place in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 45minutes, turning once to crisp up the other side. If you prefer them crispier, then just cook for a bit longer. 
Try adding some chillies if you're making this for the grown ups!

If you are making these just for an adult audience, then add some salt and pepper, and possibly some dried chilli flakes to the boiling water. 

Try some of my other dairy free recipes by clicking on the pictures below:

See all my dairy free recipes here

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Treasure Chests and Heuristic Play

Heuristic play is a term you may have not heard before. I certainly hadn't before I had T. 

Heuristics refers to the Greek for "find" or "discover" (thanks Wikipedia), so heuristic play is a form of play where the child learns through trial, error and exploration. Elinor Goldschmied was the pioneer of this form of play for children. She developed treasure baskets for babies of sitting age onwards, aiming to provide a rich sensory learning experience. 

T's treasure basket 

So many of the items stocked in toy shops now are made of plastic, which can become boringly repetitive for babies. By introducing babies to ordinary household and natural objects, you can stimulate their natural curiosity by offering a variety of textures, tastes and smells. Remember, there is no right and wrong with heuristic play, it's all about the experience. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Eating Out

It can be tiresome trying to decide what to eat when you go out. I found it really restrictive when I was still breastfeeding T. Often, we just went with Chinese or Thai food, as they contain little dairy. I would have to research well before hand and plan what I was going to have, which I always found took out some of the spontaneity of going out.

I often find that I take my own food out for T at the moment, and order a side or some bread for T to munch on. No where has had a problem with this approach so far. 

Here are some of the allergy information sheets by some of the major food restaurant chains. Let me know if you can think of any others to include here.

(click on the link at the bottom of the page "allergen guide" for a PDF)
Le Bistro Pierre - children's menu
(no information on their website, they advise you ask your local restaurant)
Cote - no information easily available on their website - I'd advise you contact your local restaurant before going there.

Any recommendations?

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Butternut Squash "Chips"

It's getting quite exciting with the blog now. People are approaching me to tell me that they have tried some of the recipes on the blog. Turkey burgers and the Jamie Oliver cookies have gone down especially well so far. 

T likes being able to feed himself, and these went down well, as they were the perfect size for him to hold. Broccoli used to be his absolute favourite (cue smug organic mummy face), but all of a sudden, he went off of it, and now Dog gets copious helpings at mealtimes as it is all thrown on the floor. 

The fabulous people in our local fruit and veg shop commented that I've been going there an awful lot lately. Ha! I think it's because so much ends up on the floor. (Again, I doubt dear Dog is complaining). We've recently tried buying a suction bowl to stop the free flow of food from highchair downwards, and while it seems to be working, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before T works out how to fling this along with everything else, over the side. 

Butternut squash "Chips"

In reality, you could make these "chips" out of any finger food you want: carrots and courgette sticks spring to mind, even sweet potato and aubergine as well, though I'd imagine you'd need more care cooking them, to prevent them turning to mush. 

I chopped one small butternut squash into fingers and steamed these for about 10minutes (can't tell you exactly I'm afraid!), just until they were soft enough to allow a knife to pierce them, then cooled them under some cold running water so they didn't continue to cook in their own heat. 

Alternatively, place on a non-stick baking tray, brush with olive oil and a little chopped rosemary and place in an oven at about 180C for 20-30mins (depending on how thick you've chopped them), and you and baby can enjoy them? 

In order to save time, (which I'm all for!), why not make this at the same time as my butternut squash and red lentil dish, or even at the same time as my Cheeky Courgette and butternut pasta? (Recipe to follow soon!)


Friday, 17 July 2015

Meal Planning

I've put an example of the dairy free meals that T ate last week. He's nearly 9 months old now, and quite happy eating a range of lumpy textures, and feeding himself finger foods. 

Getting ready for lunch - mashed potato, chopped strawberries, nectarine and banana 

I'm not a dietician, so I cannot claim that this is the most perfectly balanced meal plan ever! I think that there is a good mix of the major food groups, and he's offered fresh fruit and vegetables everyday. Keeping a dairy diary means I have a good overview of his diet each week, so I can alter it as needed. 

1/2 Banana
Dairy free fish pie, Coyo yogurt 
Rice cakes with cashew nut butter
Ready brek, strawberries
Creamy chicken casserole, cherry tomatoes
Avocado on toast & butternut squash “chips”  
1 egg omelette
Turkey burgers with sweet potato mash
Dried apple rings
pear slices.
Cottage Pie, butternut squash “chips”
Rice cakes with mashed avocado
Toast with dairy free spread, blueberries
Dairy free fish pie, cucumber slices
1/2 Banana
Dairy free pancakes
 Reduced Salt baked beans, toast
Cottage pie, coconut rice pudding
Sliced pear
Ready brek, sliced nectarine 
Turkey burgers with sweet potato mash
Strawberries and rice cakes 

Most of the meals are kept in the freezer, so all I have to do is defrost one when needed, and cook some vegetables or slice some fruit to go with it.  

Find more of my dairy free recipes. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

One Mum's Story of Coping with CMA

It can be difficult having a child with any sort of food allergy, but since cow's milk is so ubiquitous in the Western diet, it can be especially challenging - not to mention coping with Christmas, Easter and Birthday parties. 

To reiterate how difficult diagnosing and living with CMA can be, I spoke to Dr Smith, who has two sons, Alex and Samuel. (I've name changed as she wanted to preserve her family's anonymity). She talks about coping with a child with a cow's milk allergy that didn't resolve until her son was 4. 

Tell me about yourself?

I have two boys, Alex who is 4, and Samuel a newborn. Alex has cow's milk allergy, amongst others. However, he has recently outgrown it, and we went for a Mr Whippy to celebrate!

What symptoms did your son have?

Alex was breastfed so we had no idea he was allergic to cow’s milk until he tried some baby rice with formula mixed in at almost 6 months old.  He had only licked the spoon a few times before he started fussing and crying. At first I thought he didn’t like the unfamiliar taste but after cleaning his face I realised that under all that cereal he had hives all around his mouth. The hives were spreading rapidly in front of my eyes and I knew he was having an allergic reaction. I rang my husband who was working close by who came to collect us. We lived very close to the local hospital and were at the Emergency Department within 10-15 minutes of me noticing the rash. 

Alex was crying all the while so my logical mind knew that his breathing was fine at that point but the medical side of me was really worried about the possibility of anaphylaxis. By the time we got to the ED his entire body was covered with hives and his eyes had started to swell.  The triage nurse took one look at him and we were rushed through to resus. He was given medications and luckily responded well to them. Within an hour the red, blotchy, screaming baby I brought in was cooing at the ED staff. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Dairy Free Fish Pie

As promised, here is my recipe for dairy free fish pie. Feel free to adapt however you want, just make sure that you choose good quality fish for the pie. 

I quite like to cook, so I enjoy making these dishes when T is having his nap, but I understand that lots of people find cooking a chore! I try to maximise the number of dishes I can make at the same time, and freeze as much as I can to give myself more free time. 

I made this dish, potato and spinach cakes and butternut squash "chips" all at the same time, and it took under an hour to do. 

Spinach and Potato Cakes

I made these at the same time as making my Dairy Free Fish Pie. All it took was boiling up some potatoes to mash separately.

1 large potato, mashed
1 handful of spinach, chopped.
1 tsp dairy free sunflower spread
2-3 tbsp olive oil for frying. Alternatively can be baked in the oven.

  1. Boil chopped potato until soft and breaking up easily for the mash. 
  2. Drain fully, and mash with the dairy free sunflower spread. 
  3. Whilst it is still hot, add the spinach. I cut the spinach up with scissors to make the pieces easier to manage. 
  4. Mix the potatoes and spinach together until the spinach wilts, then set aside until cool enough to handle. 
Leave the potato and spinach mash to cool before rounding into balls. 

     5.  At this point, once cooled, add enough breadcrumbs to make the mixture firm enough to roll into balls (I made them about golf ball size).
     6.  Place the flattened potato balls in a heated frying pan with the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side until they form a lovely golden crust.
     7.  Alternatively, cook in an oven at about 180C until golden brown. 

Make this at the same time as my Fish Pie to save time! 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Cooking for children

Happy Monday everyone! 

I love looking at cookbooks for ideas, even if I don't always follow the recipes exactly.

This book is great for its seasonality. With such a fantastic fruit and vegetable shop down the road from us, I always try to buy fresh food in season. 

There's also some great advice in this book about baby led weaning, and some lovely recipes for purees if you decide to go down that route with your baby. 

When cooking dairy free for T, I find a lot of my inspiration comes from standard cookbooks. I just end up replacing any milk or butter in the recipe with the dairy free alternative. 

Today on the menu is:

Breakfast - weetabix with 1/2 mashed banana, blueberries and 1/2 apricot as finger food. 
Lunch - chicken casserole with peas and carrots. 
Dinner - beef tagine with rice. Strawberries for dessert. (He goes absolutely mad for these!)

Snacks - rice cakes with cashew nut butter. 

He still gets 3 bottles a day in addition to this, and sometimes it amazes me that he manages to put so much food away! 

I'll post the recipes for the chicken casserole and beef tagine soon! 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Fruity Chicken Cous Cous

This recipe tastes great I have to admit! I gave it to T last night, and it came close to being demolished by me instead. I think I'm going to make an adult version at some point. 

You can use dried or fresh apricots in this recipe. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Wedding season

We're in the thick of wedding season right now which I love. Always makes me think back to our big day...

I love being able to put the personal touch on a big day like this, and since I enjoy doing lot of crafts, I thought that I'd spend some of my spare time adding touches that would make the day extra memorable. 

Piñatas are not so common in the UK, but they are growing in popularity. Having been born in the USA, pinatas were a staple part of birthday and other celebrations. 

I thought I'd share the wedding piñata I made (the design is from this website). 

Wedding piñata

Traditionally to play the piñata game, you blindfold the first contestant, spin them and then they must hit the piñata with a wooden stick or pole. (Make sure everyone else stands at a distance!) It usually takes a few people quite a few goes to break the piñata, which is made of a paper maché base. Once the piñata is broken open, treats, toys or sweets fall out. 

I filled the piñata with lip balms, scratch cards, sweets, and cycling inner tubes (don't ask).  The piñata formed the centre piece of tissue paper pompoms that I also made. 

Display outside our wedding venue

So I know this strictly has little to do with dairy free, but I hope it brightens your day, and if you're planning a wedding, gives you a little bit of inspiration! 

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

This is a good dish to get extra calcium into your child. You don't necessarily need to use broccoli - sweetcorn, diced carrot or spinach are all alternatives. 

Broccoli- good source of vitamin C and Calcium. 

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is one of the new fashionable foods, with health benefits touted from aiding weight loss to treating IBS. Don't get caught up in all the claims that it will cure or prevent disease. In fact, be wary about the hype around all the so-call superfoods. This guardian article sums it up. 

Admittedly, coconut oil is expensive, but you needn't limit its uses to just cooking (see the list below). 

I bought it to use in this raw mango and pineapple tart from the Deliciously Ella website, (picture from website), which was lovely. Sticky and sweet, and completely vegan. 

Picture from

I didn't give the whole tart to T, but he did have some of the topping as a separate dessert one night and loved it! 

Other uses of coconut oil touted by the internet 

(I can't vouch for any of these unfortunately, so use at your own discretion!)
  1. Use in cooking instead of vegetable oils.
  2. Hair conditionner  
  3. Moisturiser for hands, feet and face. 
  4. As an alternative to lanolin based creams for sore nipples when breastfeeding (perhaps only if I want to have baby smell like a coconut though!)
  5. Rubbed in as an aftersun 
  6. Lip balm
  7. Wood polish
  8. Soothe insect bites
  9. Added to coffee as a creamer (may actually try this one - I'm curious!)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Non dairy sources of Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, the majority of which is found in teeth and the skeleton. It is also essential to nervous and muscle tissue activity. 

The major source of calcium in the diet is milk and milk products (cheese, yogurt etc) and closely followed by cereals. 

What happens then, when you have a child who can't have dairy due to an intolerance or allergy? 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Courgette, Apple and Turkey burgers

We took the dog for a long walk by the river today, and when we came back, T had these delicious turkey burgers with his lunch. 

Delicious Courgette, apple and turkey "burgers"

This recipe works for both you and baby. They take about 30mins to make, and can be frozen once cooled. 

The Dog out for a walk this morning 

Dairy Free Grown ups: Dairy Free Iced Mocha

With the hot weather that we're having at the moment, I found myself really wanting to have an iced coffee. I also wanted to make this myself so that I would know exactly what was in it. 

Why not give it a go yourself?

Delicious and cold on a hot day

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Under 15 Minutes: Tomato Pasta Stars with Tuna

In a rush, and haven't been to the shops lately? Here is another EasyDairyFree Fifteen minutes or less meal: 

Note - this recipes assumes that you have made the "Creamy" tomato sauce, find the recipe here

3 cubes of frozen pasta sauce
50g pasta stars
1/2 tin tuna in spring water (Not brine as this will be too salty)

Just defrost some frozen pasta sauce cubes and cook some pasta - quick and easy! 

1. Cook the pasta as per instructions in a pan of unsalted boiling water. 
2. Defrost the pasta sauce cubes in the microwave or another saucepan until piping hot. 
3. Drain the pasta, stir in the sauce and add 1/2 tin tuna. 
4. Check the temperature before serving. 

Top Tips
If you want to make this more of a finger food, then cook a small handful of fusilli pasta instead. Baby can get stuck in on their own! 

Why not try adding a small handful of frozen veg (cooked obviously!) to add a bit more colour and taste to the dish?

Find the recipes for other Under 15 Minute Meals by clicking on the pictures below:

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Allergy and Free From Show

Have fun if you are going to this today. 

The Allergy and Free From Show in London 3-5th July 2015

We won't be there unfortunately, but it would be very interesting to hear about some of the new products out there. 

Twitter: #freefromers

Food Labelling Laws

In December 2014, food allergen labelling changed in the UK in order to become clearer to consumers. It's great news for those who need to be able to skim the backs of packets quickly in a supermarket!

Under 15 Minutes: Ideas with an Avocado

In a rush, and haven't been to the shops lately? Here is another EasyDairyFree Fifteen minutes or less meal: 

1/2 ripe avocado, mashed. 

Serving Ideas:

Avocado and Banana
Mash with 1/2 banana and a small amount of milk substitute. Blend to your desired consistency. 

Avocado and Butter Beans
Add the avocado with 1/2 400g tin of butter beans into a food processor. Add 30mls milk substitute. Blend. 

Avocado Dippers
For the older baby - avocado is a great medium for dipping things into. Try pitta bread, rice cakes, cooked sticks of carrot or broccoli florets, cucumber sticks, toast, strips of cooked chicken breast. 

Avocado Roll ups
Take the mashed avocado and spread onto one side of a tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla up and cut horizontally. Great idea for picnics with older children. 

Top tip - brush the un-used half of the avocado with lemon juice before putting back in the fridge to keep it from browning. 

PS - Have a look at my other recipes here.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Under 15 Minutes: Vegetable Omelette

In a rush, and haven't been to the shops lately? Here is the first of my EasyDairyFree Fifteen minutes or less meals: 

Diced pepper as well as a host of other vegetables could work in this dish. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Highly allergenic foods

Some foods are more likely to cause allergies in children who already have a food allergy. You may need to seek advice from your doctor or dietician before you introduce these to your child. 

When you introduce new foods to your baby, try to only introduce a new one every 3 or 4 days and keep a dairy diary of any potential reactions. It will allow you to spot any potential patterns that you may not otherwise have noticed. 

A dairy can help identify trigger foods.

The following foods are likely to be responsible for over 90% of food allergies:

  • Soy and soy products - e.g. yogurt and tofu. 
  • Peanuts  
  • Egg 
  • Gluten- found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt.
  • Fish and shell fish. 
  • Tree seeds
  • Celery
  • Mustard  
  • Sulphur dioxide (used to preserve some food items, e.g. apricots. You can usually find sulphur free dried apricots in health food shops). 

Problems such as hayfever, asthma and eczema tend to run in families and may be associated with higher rates of food allergies in babies. 

The advice about when to introduce these can be a bit confusing for parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics say there's no evidence to delay waiting till the child is over a year to introduce these foods unless there is significant family history of food allergies in your family. There is some evidence that giving some foods such as peanuts may make your child less likely to be allergic. 

Some extra websites to check out:

As ever, if you are unsure, please contact your doctor or dietician for further advice!