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The Free From Fairy

Friday, 10 January 2014

Gut Feelings: Young People and their Experience of Coeliac Disease

I have been doing some research into the psychological impact of coeliac disease on young people and came across the following DVD on Amazon.  It has been developed by clinical psychologists and researchers at the University of Birmingham and may be useful for those of you who have had a child recently diagnosed - Gut Feelings: Young People and their Experience of Coeliac Disease.

The description is as follows: For young people, living with coeliac disease can be challenging. In this groundbreaking DVD, developed by clinical psychologists and researchers at the University of Birmingham, you will hear from nine young people living with and managing coeliac disease in the UK. They are aged between 9 and 17 years and they all have their own stories about their diagnosis, how the condition affects them and how they manage their gluten-free diet. "Gut Feelings" is divided into three easily navigated chapters allowing young people, their parents and friends, healthcare professionals, and anyone else interested in coeliac disease, to view information about what coeliac disease is, how to manage the condition (at home, when out and about, and when on holiday), and what it feels like for young people to live with the condition on a day to day basis. The DVD will help to demystify the condition and give young people the support and confidence they need to manage their coeliac disease.

I haven't viewed the DVD so can't say whether it would be useful or not but money from its sale will be put back into the research that that authors are doing looking at the psychological aspects of coeliac disease.  At least some research is happening!!

Chicken fajitas - using up your left over roast chicken!

As some of you will know from reading Twitter or Facebook, I am in the process of designing a 'proper' website that will hopefully be easier to find things on and will look better than this!  It will also be the key to my future plans when I hope to sell some stuff!  It is not a particularly easy process, but I decided that it was about time that I learnt how to build a website...a skill that will hopefully come in handy one day!  I enjoy learning new things and keeping my brain 'fed'!

Anyway, because of that I won't have much time to write posts here, and there may be a time when I am between sites so please bear with me!  If you have any particular requests about what would be helpful to see on the new site then please let me know!  It is very much work in progress!

On to a recipe.  I have made these quite a few times and they always go down really well so I thought I would quickly share the recipe with you.  Perfect for using up your left over roast chicken...

Chicken fajitas (gluten, dairy, egg, nut, soya, fish-free)
Feeds 2 adults and 2 kids

1 red pepper, cut into fine slices
1 yellow pepper, cut into fine slices (or a large carrot cut into fine slices)
4 large leaves spring greens or other green leafy vegetable
Half red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped and squashed
Half tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
Half tsp ground cumin
Couple of handfuls of leftover roast chicken cut into bite-sized pieces (I freeze my leftovers in 'portion' sized, labelled bags and get them out the day I want to use them to defrost properly)
Juice of half a lime
Fresh coriander (if you have it!), finely chopped
Black pepper (and salt if you like it) to taste
1tbsp olive oil, or other oil you like

1) Place the oil in a frying pan along with the pepper, carrot (if using), spring greens and onion and soften on a low heat, stirring all the time, for approx. 10 minutes, or until cooked to your liking
2) Add the garlic, spices and chicken and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is heated through and the vegetables are cooked
3) Squeeze the lime juice over the mixture and add the corriander (if you have it)
4) Season to taste and serve with gluten-free tortillas or in gluten-free pitta breads - new recipe coming soon (see picture)!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Cookbook reviews - 'Save with Jamie' by Jamie Oliver and 'It's All Good' by Gwyneth Paltrow

With the wind howling in the trees and the sky dark and ominous, I walked my kids to school this morning with a sense of sadness.  Sadness that I would be 'letting them go' again...a large part of me being detached and sent off in two directions...to wonder at the amazing world we live in and excitedly tell their friends all about their Christmas presents.

As I walked home dodging the rain I realised that it was back to 'reality' for me.  No more hiding in the soft and comfortable family Christmas but back to the harsh reality of cold dark days and my hate of January.  If I am quiet this month then please forgive me.  I find January hard!  And this January I have set myself a momentous task.  To create my own website, rather than rely on Blogger.  So, combined with cooking I will be building that, which may not leave much time to write about what I have been cooking!

Talking of cooking I received two new cookbooks for Christmas...Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver, and It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow.  I thought I would give you a quick review of them...

I have to be honest, I was pretty unsure about being told how to cook by a slim and beautiful actress who set off a whole 'fad' gluten-free diet.  And upon trying her vege dumplings recipe my preconceptions were confounded by her irritating certainty that x amount of gluten-free flour blend (un-named brand) would require x amount of water to make the dumpling wrappers.  Anybody who cooks with gluten-free flours will know that all gluten-free flours behave differently and that unless you are specifying a certain brand you cannot ever, not ever, be certain of the amount of liquid it will absorb!!  So, you can imagine the amount of swearing in my kitchen when my sore eczema riddled hands were covered in sticky gloop that I managed to cover much of the kitchen in whilst trying to rectify the situation.

Having overcome that issue...and the tedious process of actually making 30 dumpling wrappers (no I didn't make it to 30, I admitted defeat after about 20 with sticky goo in my hair and flour covering the kitchen) and altering the cooking process, the taste was amazing and even the kids had to agree that they were yummy despite their reservations!

Having also made a soup and having tasted fish cakes made using a recipe in the book I have to admit that the recipes do make very tasty meals, even if some do require some major tweaking to get right.  However, with some vague instructions, some that are down-right irritating (don't worry, I won't repeat myself!) combined with annoying photos (of her), 'wacky' ingredients and being written for Americans (nothing wrong with that if you are American...I just happen to be British!), it is not my favourite book.  Having said that there are some great ideas within it and you will no doubt be finding recipes on my blog that have been inspired by her!  My verdict of the book would be that it is not for the novice cook or the faint hearted, but if you need a bit of gluten and dairy-free inspiration then it is worth a peek!

I felt a lot happier with my copy of Save with Jamie.  Being a huge Jamie fan I had high hopes for this book and so far it has not let me down, unlike his 'Great Britain' book that I was not inspired by at all.

I firstly love the concept of the book...to save money.  Many of the recipes use the left-overs from a large roast dinner which is perfect for me because that is how I like to cook meat.  We eat it occasionally and when we do we buy good quality stuff.

The instructions are easy to follow and do not require too many 'crazy' ingredients and the resulting meals are very tasty.  It is easy to substitute ingredients to make the recipes gluten-free and dairy-free (and I am sure for other free-from diets too). 

Along with the recipes there are some useful tips on how to save money and I have learnt quite a bit about what to do with left-over food and stuff that is going out of date or past its best.  It is like a refreshed war-time cookbook when everyone was conscious of waste!

My overall verdict, certainly one to buy if you feel comfortable making adaptions to recipes to make them 'freefrom'.

What did you get for Christmas?  Any good cookbooks that you would like to recommend?  Your views on these two cookbooks?  The next on my list to buy is 'Sourdough: From pastries to gluten-free wholegrain breads' by Mardewi Yoke.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Stollen bites

My poor little girl is off school today missing her school party for which these were made.  I will therefore just share the recipe and then get back to looking after her!

This is all thanks to a recipe from Nutritious Deliciousness that I saw on A Mummy Too's recipe share.  It inspired me to try and make it dairy and gluten-free, and as it was a success I thought I would share it straight away.

Stollen bites (gluten, dairy, soya-free and refined sugar free)
Always use ingredients at room temperature

100ml coconut milk (I use Koko)
14g yeast
250g plain gluten-free flour (I use Doves)
2tsp xanthum gum
1tsp mixed spice
50g fruit sugar (I use Tate and Lyle) - you could use ordinary white granulated sugar
Pinch salt
200g raisins (or a mixture of raisins, currants and sultanas)
30g mixed peel
Zest 1 clementine
30g ground almonds
50g melted coconut oil plus a little more to brush on top once baked
2 medium eggs, beaten
Half tsp lemon juice
200g marzipan
Icing sugar to cover

1) Warm the coconut milk in a glass jug for 30 seconds on full power in the microwave
2) Add the yeast to the milk and set aside for 10 minutes
3) Sift the flour, xanthum gum and mixed spice into a large bowl, then add the sugar, salt, dried fruit, clementine zest and almonds.  Mix well with your hands
4) Add the coconut oil, eggs, lemon juice and milk/yeast mixture
5) Mix the ingredients well until they come together into a dough, again getting your hands into the mixture and giving it a good squish!
6) Place clingfilm over the bowl and put in a warm place for approx. 30 minutes
7) While the dough is resting roll the marzipan into a rectangle shape measuring approx. 30cm by 12cm
8) After 30 minutes, turn the dough onto a piece of grease-proof paper on a large baking tray.  Scatter the dough with gluten-free flour and roll out on the paper into a rectangle measuring approx. 30cm by 25cm
9) Place the marzipan on half the dough then fold over and seal the edges with your fingers, sandwiching the marzipan in the middle of the dough

10) Cover with a tea-towel and leave in a warm place for a further hour to hour and a half
11) Once the dough has risen place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees, 160 degree, fan for 30-35 minutes
12) Remove from the oven when golden and brush with melted coconut oil while still warm
13) Finally sprinkle generously with icing sugar and leave to cool before cutting into bite sized pieces

Monday, 16 December 2013

The National UK Blog Awards - please vote for me!

OK, so I have been brave and entered myself into my first awards!  I know I have no chance but hey, as I am always telling my kids...if you aren't in it, you can't win it!!

It would mean a huge huge amount to me if you would vote for me.  I promise it won't take long, and it may just keep me going to write you some more recipes!

Just click on the link below (avoiding the P or you will be directed to Pinterest!) and follow the instructions.  Thank you SOOOOOO much!

Vote for The Free From Fairy in the UK Blog Awards

My top tips for a perkier 'freefrom' Christmas...

Good morning from a drizzley, damp, dark miserable Devon!  It is only due to a run around the lanes that has enabled me to be even slightly perky!

I really struggle with the darkness this time of year.  As I write this, I am sitting with my SAD light on in an attempt to give myself some cheer!  I have to say, it does seem to work...so for anyone else that gets the winter blues, I can wholeheartedly recommend buying one!  Mine is the Lifemax light pod and it is cheap and small so can be carried around to where-ever you need it.  Yesterday I had to escape to the bedroom...both to get away from over-excited children, but also to get a short fix of 'the light'.

Anyway, on to the purpose of my post and that is to share with you a guest post that I wrote for Perkier! If you haven't yet discovered Perkier then I guess you must live with your head in the clouds...either that or you do not live a 'freefrom' existance and are just here to support my attempts at writing! 

Perkier are a pretty new 'freefrom' company (run by only two people!) that produces gluten-free porridge, cereal, treats and now bread, I read!  If you haven't yet checked them out then it is now time to do so.  Having said that, I must confess that I haven't yet tried anything apart from their cereal flakes...mainly because I tend to make as much as possible from scratch (in case you hadn't noticed!!).  However, they are funky and cool and I like their branding!  So much so that I offered to write them a guest blog post and you can read it by clicking here.  It is full of useful tips to other parents who have 'freefrom' children over the festive period.  Let me know what you think...

Monday, 9 December 2013

Mincemeat shortbread

This weekend was manic!!  It started with a Christmas party on Friday night (late night, bit too much to drink etc), then ballet at 9am on Saturday morning followed by the school Christmas fayre (at which I was helping), a kids party, and a work Christmas meal.  Sunday started with a lie in, thanks to my amazing mum and step dad, followed by another 2 kids parties!

I don't feel like my feet touched the ground!

I am sure many of you are in the same position this time of year so I post this recipe for you.  It doesn't take much to make and you can sit down with a cup of tea and a slice whilst you allow life to pass you by for 10 minutes!  You deserve it after all!

Mincemeat shortbread (gluten, dairy, egg, nut and soya-free)
Makes approx. 12 slices

2oz coconut oil
2oz dairy free margarine
2oz white sugar plus extra for sprinkling
7oz plain gluten-free flour (I used Doves)
Half tsp vanilla paste (or a full tsp vanilla extract)
4tbsp mincemeat (ideally my pear and amaretto one!)

1) Melt the coconut oil, then mix with the margarine and sugar until smooth
2) Add the flour, vanilla and mincemeat and stir well.  The mixture will be quite soft at this point.  Don't worry!
3) Place the dough into a greased round tin approx. 18cm in diameter and firm down well, smoothing it off on the top
4) Score the dough where you would like to cut it...making sure you do not go all the way through the dough.  This will make it easier to cut when it is cooked
5) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees (140 degree fan) for 35-40 minutes until firm to touch
6) Whilst still warm sprinkle with white sugar and leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting

If you can tolerate dairy then use 4oz butter with 6oz flour and 2oz sugar for a perfect shortbread!

Link up your recipe of the week