Pancake Day

Well it’s pancake day, pancake day ( those of you of a certain age will recognise the program I’m sure). Anyway I digress it’s a short post today to let you know my super easy 3 ( yes 3) ingredient pancake recipe

It’s sooo easy and makes a lovely fluffy pancake just perfect for the toppings of your choice. I personally think traditional lemon and sugar is the bees knees, kiddo loves chocolate sauce ( we use so free).

So how do I do it. Well all you need is

  • 1 banana mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 table spoons of gluten free self raising flour

Mix it all together to make a batter. Heat some fry light in your pancake pan.

Put spoonfuls in and cook one side until you see bubbles then flip over. Voila it’s that simple and makes a delicious American style pancake. They are gluten, dairy and nut free.

Top with whatever you fancy and enjoy.

Review- The Box Bakery

Having survived all 732 days of January, we are now in the midst of days on end of soggy, breezy weather ( Thank you Ciara for the tree that came down) . It’s cold, wet and a bit dismal- so what better excuse did I need to stay in the warm and do some baking.

Now I’m ok at baking, apart from bread. Even before my Coeliac diagnosis bread was never my strong point ( one loaf even the birds refused to eat). It has always been my nemesis, and I’m determined to sort this issue out. The lovely people over at The Box Bakery got in contact with me and sent some products to try. I was very optimistic…. surely this is one loaf that I couldn’t mess up?

Anyway this clever product it called so because you bake the bread ( or cake) in the box the mix is packaged in. No mess either, this is surely a good thing.

You peel back the top cover, that says “Lift here” to reveal a stopper. Remove this and pour water in to the box, add the stopper and give it all a good shake. Next remove the top layer completely and give everything a good mix with a fork, this will stop any dry bits of bread mix which will alter the appearance and texture of your loaf. Brush oil over the surface of the bread mixture and place it in the oven. ( follow the instructions on the pack).

Fast forward a couple of hours for cooking and cooling and look what I baked. It’s crusty, and smells divine and cuts like a dream.

It was no good, I had to try it. It doesn’t disappoint. Unlike some gluten free breads, this loaf doesn’t have a dense cardboard like texture, and unlike my usual attempts, this loaf is very much edible. I like the seeds it gives a lovely taste and slight crunch to the loaf. It also lends itself well to both toast and as a sandwich etc.

I can honestly say I’m so impressed with this bread. It’s the first time I’ve successfully accomplished and edible loaf or bread. With these results it won’t be the last loaf either.

I was sent these products as a gift to review, however all opinions are my own and honest.

Why I’m doing Dry January

Hello, happy new year to you all, and welcome to January- all 732 days of January. Yes, yes I know I exaggerate a bit but it’s a month that seems to go on forever. So why the heck am I doing Dry January??

Well firstly, those of you that know me really well, will concur that I’m fond of a drink or two… I mean let’s face it, if it looks and tastes like champagne or gin then I’ll happily sip away. I’m also very stubborn, and when it was mentioned to I ” would never in a million years be able to complete Dry January ” I had a literal hold my drink moment, al long with right I’ll show you lot. And how some friends have laughed at the mere suggestion but never the less it’s now day 4 and I’ve not faltered…. I will say today I could have caved…. but see further down ( I had a g&t substitute to help). Today I’ve felt groggy, my skin isn’t brilliant and I’ve not been firing on all cylinders…. I partially put this down to going back on the healthy eating plan after the Christmas binge as well but it’s still not helped.

Secondly not every week, but some weeks I do drink over the recommended 14 units. See more info from the NHS Here. With that in mind I figured it would do me some goo in stopping for a month, and then changing my drinking habits. I also see the reduction in calories from not drinking wine an added bonus. I started a weight loss charge last year, ( 3 stone lost so far in case you were wondering) and would like to continue with that.

Lastly I did think I might struggle sometimes during the next month so to help me not cave I signed up to cancer research’s Dryathlon. I’ve pledged to raise £150 by not drinking alcohol…. I’ve got sponsors… I will not be letting them down. I also think it’s for a good cause, I lost both my grandparents to cancer, my friend has recovered from breast cancer and my cousin is currently on chemotherapy…. it affects everyone in their lives in one way or another… I’m just trying to do my bit. The link to my fundraising page can be found Here

So how am I going to manage I hear you all ask? Well I’ve got some cunning plans to help me. There’s more and more options in the shops of alcohol free drinks ( and I’m not just talking squash and water).

My current favourite is this

It’s not sweet, and tastes like weak G&T, which if you have in a gin glass, with ice and imagination almost tastes like the real thing…. it’s great. M&S also have a version, which I’ll get and update the post when I’ve tested it.

The very exciting new kid on the block is Free Damm which is both gluten free ( yes you read that right) and alcohol free. I’ve not been much of a larger drinker….. but some fell in my trolley and I’m giving it a go. You can buy this from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose ( that I’ve seen them in so far anyway)

I’ve also tried this de-alcoholised red wine…. it’s by Torres Natureo, and I really liked it. Not as full-bodied as a Pinot Noir, or the like, but not a bad substitute if you’re struggling without that glass of vino in the evening.

I’ll be adding more finds to this post as the month goes on…… stay along for the ride, I’d love it if you did.

My favourite Gluten Free Products of 2019

Well we are nearly at that time again…. New Years Eve. And before the champagne starts flowing and the fireworks start their infernal banging it has got me thinking- just what have been my favourite free from Products of this year?

It’s been a mixed year in the free from field. We’ve lost smaller companies, and seen an expansion in the larger supermarket ranges. “May Contain” warnings have got me on my soap box a lot this year( I’m looking at you Sainsbury’s and Rice Dream) , but on the whole it’s been pretty, especially for those of us that are gluten free.

So to finish off the year I thought I’d share with you my favourite products of 2019.

My absolute favourite of the year has to be the selection of pastries that have hit the market. Croissants have been hit or miss but I love the Marks and Spencer choc chip twists, the apricot danish is pretty good as well. We also cannot forget the Tesco cinnamon swirls that launched last month. Seriously they are amazing.

In Marks and Spencer I’ve been impressed with both the pork pie ( dairy free and no nut warning either), and the spring rolls. Both delicious and great to have some new savoury items on the market as well.

Let’s not forget this from M&S as well👇🏻 this accidental find is both gluten free and a bargain at £2 a jar.

Nomo is my favourite new brand of the year, standing for No missing out they make chocolate that is dairy, gluten, egg, peanut and tree nut free. It is honestly the best dairy free chocolate I’ve tasted. Even better was they made an advent calendar this year. Kiddo was over the moon. It was the first year she’s had a decent chocolate calendar, whoops all round in our house I can tell you.

My top seasonal finds were from Sainsbury’s who this year actually produced a chocolate Yule log AND a Christmas pudding without a nut warning on them. No exaggeration I was so happy I nearly cried… more of the same this year please Sainsbury’s ( I’ll buy some waterproof mascara)

Finally kiddos pick of the year was the mermaid cupcake kit from Tesco, apparently the colours were just too funky

So there we have it, my top picks this year. I’m still hopeful for a gluten free battenburg cake in 2020 ( looks eagerly at Mr Kipling) and for someone to master the croissant. That said, if I find them you’ll be the first to know.

Happy New Year you lovely readers, here’s to a great 2020.

My Guide To A Free From Advent

Well it’s that time of year again…..Christmas is most definitely coming. I love Christmas- obviously my husband is threatening divorce, as I’d really like to put my decorations up now, but anyway I digress. Advent calendars are a big thing in our house. Kiddo goes to a C of E school and really is getting into advent ( and the nativity but we won’t go there today 😬).

So how to do advent with allergies? Currently we are avoiding peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and gluten so you’d think it could be a challenge…. but I’m going to show you the best things I’ve found so everyone is included.

Top of kiddos list is the above LOL surprise calendar. It’s a little pricy at £29.99 but you get a doll, and varies accessories etc to go with it. There’s also no chocolate in it…. which helps the allergy situation in our house. Others that are very good are the Lego advent calendars, the Harry Potter one is particularly cool, but I would think that- I’m a bit of a Potter Geek.

My favourite allergy friendly advent calendar has to be the NoMo one. It stands for No More Missing Out, and is without a doubt the best free from chocolate I’ve tasted ( and no they aren’t paying me it’s just really good).

You can get these from Holland and Barrett for £9.99.

Moo free also do a lovely advent calendar, although this does carry a hazelnut warning, which you can get Here

Not to forget the grown ups… there is literally hundreds of choices nowadays. My personal favourite is the Boots number 7 Calendar, sadly it sold out in break neck speeds this year, although well done if you managed to get hold of one.

I’m also keen to see Aldi’s gin calendar, as I’m partial to the odd G&T ( ahem).

My husband is a type 1 diabetic so this year he’s having a cheese advent calendar. My best picks are this one from Ilchester cheese, available Here

I’ve also heard that Marks and Spencer are launching one this year for £15…. I’ve not seen it yet, it’s due to hit the shelves asap so I’ll keep you all posted.

Right that’s it for now. I will update this post when I find new things. That leaves me to say I hope you all have a fun 1st of December, opening your advent calendars.

Note- This post is not an ad and contains no affiliate links. Opinion is my own, and calendars I’ve purchased I’ve down so at my own expense

Let’s Talk About….. Endometriosis

Yesterday (7th October) endometriosis was trending on Twitter. Largely in part to This article. Now why would I possibly be bothered by this, or why would anyone be bothered by this? Well according to Endometriosis uk the current figures indicate 1 in 10 women have the condition….. and I’m one of them.

So slightly different post from me this time…. I’m going to talk to you about endometriosis. And guys, if any of you are reading this, before you roll your eyes and think ” oh it’s just girls moaning about that time of the month” let me tell you endometriosis is NOT just period pain, it is more than the odd stomach cramp.

Anyone who thinks endometriosis is just a period is sadly mistaken. I’m self employed, every month I take 3 days off to coincide with the start of my period…. but why? Surely just man up Gemma? ( incidentally let’s stop telling everyone to “man up” it’s not helpful) well because every single month, on day one I go from being ok, to being bent double from pain – I mean think having your stomach used as a punch bag type pain,, and you’re getting there. The nausea is awful, if you eat too you’re sick, the pain extends up to my ribs and somehow creeps through your legs down to your feet.

The ache is unremitting, it literally feels like all joy has been sucked out of you, and actually if I could remove my pain receptors for those days, that would be amazing.

I was about 15 when the pain started, the school nurse though I was trying to get sent home, the doctors suggested the pill, my mum took me seriously…. it took years ( about 9 ) to get a diagnosis.

That’s not the best of it…. you often get fertility problems and the ” don’t you want more children?” Questions… My reply” yes another would be lovely but my womb is that scarred that babies don’t like it”

Other joys are Miscarriages, scans, operations, ( I mentioned pain didn’t I?) and a deep frustration that only women in similar situations can empathise with. Why frustration though? Because no one believes you that it is, or can be, that bad. Even my GP said to me at 25 that I had nothing to worry about…. and a few painful periods were part of the course- apparently having a baby would help. I mean seriously those were her words….. you can imagine how that made me feel. I’m not alone either- scores of women all over the country will tell you of similar stories. This is both sad and disheartening.

This all needs to change, attitudes around this condition needs to change. More funding is needed and above all women need to be taken seriously. This is a horrible condition and I for one am pleased it’s had some recognition this week.

Ladies if you think you may have symptoms of endometriosis please do get it checked.

Seek help, if you are struggling I’d recommend Twitter…. the communities on there really are the best. You’ve got this girls…… you are not alone.

Back To School…..

So it’s looming, Augtember is nearly over and that first week of school is starting to wave at me- do you know what? I hate it.

I mean hands up all of you who have a heart attack at the cost of the uniform- yep me to. I’m still trying to dissuade mini me from the god awful Lilli Kelli numbers she has her eye on, in swap for the slightly less bank balance haemorrhaging Clarks pair. Good luck with that one I hear you all cry.

I also despise the morning rush, and routine, I have crippling ( slight exaggeration) insomnia so getting up after about 3 hrs sleep is never fun.. Mostly though is that we have fun over the summer, and getting back to the grind stone is difficult for us all. There’s some parents who count down the days to school going back- I’m not one of them, mind you I’ve only got the 1 munchkin, if I had more I might think differently.

Good luck to all you reception Parents, have your tissues ready- you’ll need them. Mine skipped in, didn’t look back and gave it her all, I was proud but a mess obviously. Have that glass of wine in the evening, you deserve it.

Good luck if it’s the first time entering the playground as well. My goodness that was/is a minefield. Not only do the children have to navigate their way through new friendships and meeting- so do you, but with the parents. To those of you who don’t know anyone, seize the moment and say hello. Most people are great, ignore the scurry of gossip ( there WILL be some) and make your own judgement of people.

To the allergy parents, you’ve got this to. I won’t lie reception was the worst for me, I mean I’m always by my phone but that first year I checked it all the time. But we made it with no major incidents….How?? Good planning. My advice is get your child’s care plan in place and get the school staff familiar with it. I went in on the teacher training day to explain to the staff the signs and symptoms to look out for if L is having a reaction.

She has a medical box at school ( Epi pens, antihistamines, eye spray) she also has a safe treat box as well, just so the teachers can use treat if needed ( birthdays etc) and no one is excluded. It works well.

L has grown into a few more Allergies since starting, she’s now having to avoid gluten, dairy and latex is looking more likely. I get a lot of phone calls, and early pick ups, we now flexi-school her to help but it works, and the staff are managing her allergies. Just remember communication it key.

So there you have it, my advice to you all.

Enjoy it, it’s a stage in their development, they are growing up, they are learning. Embrace it, build each other up.

You’ve all got this

Welcome to the school run years……..

Cheesies Review and Giveaway

Hooray, it’s Friday, the weekend is here. We’ve made it. This week has been a shocker weather wise hasn’t it? The chickens have needed snorkels, my hair has been permanently frizzy and it’s been cold. There was only one thing for it- I made soup to warm up ( spicy butternut squash if you’re wondering).

But what are those crouton things on top? They are the new kids on the block- Cheesies . These are in fact popped cubes of cheese that are great on their own but work brilliantly with a soup or salad.

They come in 3 flavours ( at the moment). Cheddar, Emmental and Gauda. The cheddar is strong, with a great tang to it. The Gauda has a more subtle flavour and the emmental has a melt in your mouth quality to it. I do love the fact they are all low carb, and I think popped cheese is a really clever concept. They are all crunchy and hit the spot when you are after some nibbles.

Now you all know me – I’m honest. I do think these are great, if not a bit addictive. Do you know the best bit- you to can try them as well.

I’ve teamed up with Cheesies so one lucky winner can win and try the range for themselves ? How I hear you cry? It easy just click the link below. ( U.K. Residents only)

https://gleam.io/ky6AU/win-a-selection-of-cheesies-19

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post with Cheesies. The product was gifted, my views are my own and completely honest.

It’s Coeliac Awareness Week

Yes it’s that time of the year again and Coeliac awareness week is up on us once again. It is running from 13th- 19th May. This year it is focusing on diagnosis.

Coeliac UK is the national charity that helps to raise awareness of this autoimmune condition. It is a great place to start for those who are newly diagnosed, and for those of you who think you might have Coeliac disease.

I thought at this point I would tell you about my story to diagnosis. I was roughly fifteen when I started getting symptoms that were problematic, such as bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers and tiredness. Initially after a few GP visits I was told IBS was the most likely cause- due to exam stress from my GCSEs that were the big exams that I was starting to study for- this didn’t seem right to me as I’m not a stressed person, and certainly wasn’t worried about exams etc. Nevertheless I took the advice, changed diet and lifestyle and tried the prescription of anti- spasmodic medicines. Guess what- it didn’t really work, and back to the doctor I trundled.

IBS was still being branded about, until I happened to mention that both my Nan and aunt had Coeliac disease. I was then sent off for a blood test. Sure enough these came back as positive. I was expecting to be sent for a biopsy but after being referred to the hospital, a further blood test and positive genetic test confirmed the diagnosis of Coeliac disease.

I felt relieved and overwhelmed straight after diagnosis, but after my first dietitian appointment, and armed with lots of information of what I could and couldn’t eat I ventured into the supermarket to embark the first chore of Coeliac disease ( and allergies) – label reading.

I won’t lie you will spend A LOT of time label reading, the only thing I can say is that over the years the “Free From” aisles have expanded hugely so the choice offered is getting better and better. You still need to be careful of the dreaded “may contain” warnings ignore them and you can get caught out. – Walkers crisps were my enemy the one day in case your were wondering.

What I can say is that within a week of switching to a gluten free diet I felt so much better. It really is that dramatic. My only side effect of my Coeliac disease is that I’m also one of the 1 in 10,000 that also suffers from Dermatitis Herpetiformis, an intensely ( and I mean intensely) itchy skin condition linked to Coeliac disease.

It is the absolute worst, my first flare up was at university after a pasta mix-up. 2 days later I felt unwell and itchy, by day 4 the rash had appeared, if I could have torn my skin off I seriously would have. It is awful. My GP was flummoxed at first, as he hadn’t seen many cases of it. I was sent for a skin biopsy and the results confirmed it.

Thankfully I don’t get too many flare ups, but nevertheless when I do I tend to go to ground. The appearance of the rash and how rotten I feel puts pay to wanting to go out.

BUT it’s not bad at all having Coeliac- I could have a lot worse. I’ve made some great friends over the years. My top tip is to start at Coeliac UK for advice, and then the Coeliac and allergy community on Twitter and Facebook is brilliant. It’s live a great, big friendly free from hive- there’s always someone that can help answer your questions.

I hope this has helped some of you- Just remember, although it’s daunting being newly diagnosed, you are never alone.

My Free From Guide To Stratford upon Avon

My lovely hometown, which admittedly is most famous for William Shakespeare and The RSC Theatre, is also packed with eateries and tea rooms. Some of them are absolutely fantastic at catering for dietary needs, so I thought I’d share my top places to go.

My first place is Bensons Restaurant is Henley street ( almost opposite Shakespeare’s Birthplace). Their gluten free options really are fantastic, you can get things like a breakfast with bottomless tea for around £5 all gluten free, right through to lunches and afternoon teas. They also have a separate dairy free menu, and really do understand the cross contamination risks and take many precautions ( hooray I shout).

Loxleys Restaurant and Wine Bar in Sheep Street is my next choice, and no not because of the wine element ( although they do have a great choice) but because they have really good gluten free options. The dinners or pre- theatre menus are delicious, AND they can manage to provide gluten free sausages on their breakfasts, plus is a really quirky and luxuriously decorated restaurant that is worth a visit when you are next in the vicinity.

if you have a sweet tooth you’d be mad to miss Hoorays gelato parlour. They have gluten free waffle cones, plenty of gluten, dairy and a few nut free options and some delicious vegan offerings that are worth a visit on a hot day.

In Bridge Street there is Huffkins Bakery, they do a mean peanut butter brownie that is gluten free ( and eaten well out of the way of mini me)

So here’s my top places for starters, I will be updating the post when I find other free from dining delights.