Dairy and nut free chocolate Oreo truffles

I’m addicted to food magazines. I love looking at pictures of food, reading recipes and making food. Of course, the eating part is pretty fabulous too.

Every month I have Good Food Magazine delivered to my door. It’s exciting when I hear it fall through the letter box. I like to sit down with a cup of tea or glass of wine and decide what I’m going to try making.

I also regularly buy Sainsbury’s Magazine, although I wish they’d do away with the home and lifestyle stuff and just concentrate on food!

While browsing the pages of last month’s Sainsbury’s Magazine I came across an Easter recipe for Oreo Egg Truffles. I’ve never attempted anything like this before, but I thought I’d take a crack at making them over Easter weekend.

The recipe seemed quite straightforward and most ingredients could be substituted for non-dairy options. I couldn’t find non-dairy double cream, and I’m not aware of anywhere that sells it, so I had to buy Alpro single cream. I found a dairy free cook’s dark chocolate in the baking aisle of Sainsbury’s (I think it was from their Taste the Difference range), and a bar of dairy free white chocolate in the free from aisle.

The recipe was really easy to follow, I used 175ml of the Alpro cream instead of 200ml and it worked really well. The egg shapes were a bit wonky and I ran out of white chocolate (note to self, buy two bars next time), but the finished products were amazing. They were rich and creamy and oh so moreish! To make the white chocolate stretch further I completely coated some in the white chocolate, drizzled others with it and rolled the remainder in cocoa powder.

I will definitely make these again, and I’m really pleased that a normal recipe could be modified so easily.

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Winter warmers: new ways with granola

If you like my Chocolate and seed granola but are finding the current weather conditions a bit chilly in the mornings, try one of my alternative ways to serve it.

Hearty warming porridge topped with Allergy Girl’s Chocolate seeded granola

I make a dairy free porridge using jumbo porridge oats with hemp milk. Once my porridge is cooked I top it with a sprinkling of my granola, which adds a nice bit of crunch, some fresh berries and a drizzle of agave nectar or honey. It keeps me going for ages and is really hearty.

Warm berry compote with Allergy Girl’s Chocolate seeded granola and coconut yogurt

This is super easy and great for a cold morning when you need extra time to go out and scrape the ice off the windscreen!

I buy a bag of frozen mixed berries from Sainsbury’s. I’m the morning I grab a handful of frozen berries and zap them in the microwave on full power for 60-90 seconds. Then I add a generous portion of granola and top with a dollop of Alpro coconut yogurt. Perfect!

How do you like to serve your granola in the morning? I’d love to hear your favourite ways!

Dairy, egg and nut free banana and date loaf

I discovered this recipe several years ago. I was busy googling dairy and egg free cake recipes and I came across this. Now, this was back in the day when a mobile phone was just that, which meant the search was carried out on my PC and I had to print the recipe out and stick it in my recipe folder (which is still going strong today). I have no idea where the recipe came from, but this is what it looks like:

I pretty much follow the recipe as written, but the more alert reader will note there are two lots of oil in the recipe. I use 4 tablespoons of light olive oil and it works every time. Please don’t put a third of a cup of sunflower oil in as well, you’ll end up with a goopy oily mess. Yuk!

I add a little bit extra bicarbonate as I found that the loaf didn’t rise particularly well. I also amended the temperature and cooking time as 200 c for 30 mins just didn’t work in my oven. I have a fan assisted oven and I do it on 160 c for 45-50 mins.

I always bake it in a silicone loaf mould and the cake pops out easily when partly cool.

When you take the loaf out it might initially seem a bit dry, but it’s one of those tea breads that gets better with time, and will moisten up.

Once the loaf is cool, I slice it, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. As and when I want a slice for work I take one out in the morning and wrap it in cling film. By the time I want to eat it it’s nicely defrosted and perfect with a cuppa!

Because there is no added sugar the loaf is a lovely little treat that isn’t too naughty. It also makes a great alternative to energy bars when exercising. A loaf of this got me through the Three Peaks Challenge in 2011, and it was an ideal snack to take on each hike.

The recipe is easily modified to change the flavour. For example you could swap one of the bananas for a carrot or courgette and add a bit of cinnamon. It’s also really nice topped with Betty Crocker’s cream cheese style icing and sprinkled with chopped pumpkin seeds.

Greek inspired chickpea and chicken salad

As February is drawing to an end and spring is in the horizon Mr Allergy and I thought we’d switch to lighter lunches this week.

Lunch is one of my more difficult meals, and many of the options are just really boring. We often have leftovers from the night before, but for one reason or another this week doesn’t work out that way.

I love browsing Pinterest and recently I’ve seen a number of Greek inspired chickpea salads, and this piqued my interest. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and dietary fibre, and they add extra oomf to a lettucy salad.

I couldn’t find one recipe that suited my taste, so decided to use a mish-mash of ideas to create my own.

I began by marinading some chicken breasts, using the juice of one lemon, 2 cloves of garlic, a glug of extra virgin olive oil and approx one teaspoon dried oregano, plus salt and pepper to season. I blended it all together in a pestle and mortar and marinaded the chicken for about an hour before roasting it in a medium oven for about 35 mins, until it was nice and juicy.

While the chicken was roasting I whizzed up some more of the marinade, this time to make a dressing. I chopped a red and yellow pepper, red onion and flat leaf parsley, drained and rinsed 2 tins of cooked chickpeas and put it all together in a bowl. I was very proud of my Instagram worthy display of colour, but decided next time I’ll add green pepper or cucumber to add extra rainbow!

I then cooked some quinoa. I don’t often have much luck with quinoa, it usually comes out sticky and wet and not very pleasant. I always follow the instructions on the packet, but it just never works. So I googled “what is the best way to cook quinoa?” I found this: Perfect quinoa and it works!!! I now had perfect fluffy quinoa!

I added the quinoa and dressing to the bowl and gave it a good old stir. The aroma of garlic and lemon juice was wafting up nicely, and I really wanted to try some, but I held off, deciding to wait for the surprise at lunchtime. The mixture by now looked like this:

My chicken was now ready, so I sliced it into bit sized chunks and allowed it to cool before adding it to my lunch box, along with some dairy free Feta alternative from Sainsbury’s. My lunch was now virtually ready to go. All I would need in the morning before going to work was a handful of salad leaves! I think there will be enough mixture and chicken to do us both two or three lunches each, and it’s great having it prepped and ready in the fridge.

The finished dish was the perfect post gym class lunch today, and Mr Allergy sent me a text saying his was awesome, so I guess I’ll be making this again!

Banana Pancakes

For Shrove Tuesday Mr Allergy and I made some fabulously fluffy American style banana pancakes.

We used this recipe from Once Upon a Chef: Banana Pancakes

To make it dairy and egg free we used Hemp milk and egg replacer in the batter and fried the pancakes in dairy free margarine.

Unfortunately the pan got a little bit too hot and I burnt a couple, but once they were slathered in maple syrup and topped with fresh mixed berries it didn’t matter! Mr Allergy topped his with sliced banana, Nutella and peanut butter, a deadly combination for a dairy and nut allergy sufferer, which meant he had to do the washing up!

Tried and tested: The Coconut Collaborative Double Chocolate Paradise Pot

Mr Allergy and I normally have left overs for lunch, but today we realised we had no left overs and had to resort to buying lunch. On my way into work from the tube I popped into Boots to grab a meal deal. I didn’t fancy a bag of crisps or my usual carrots and hummus, but spotted a little purple package from The Coconut Collaborative.

I’m a massive fan of The Coconut Collaborative, and I love their Chocolate Snowconut frozen yogurt, coconut and mango yogurt and Little Chocolate Pots. I assumed this was just a larger sized Chocolate Pot. But when I peeled back the silver foil and popped my spoon in (the spoon which I was given at my cousin’s Mary Poppins “spoonful of sugar” party), I was delighted to find a light, fluffy, bubbly texture.

Now, the story goes that when I was a baby I was in hospital with pneumonia. The hospital fed me a chocolate mousse, which I was immediately allergic to, and that’s how my allergies were discovered. Since that day several decades ago I’ve not eaten a chocolate mousse and I have no idea what the texture is like, but in my mind I imagine the texture is like this paradise pot. It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before (that I remember, anyway) and I like that! It sort of almost pops on my tongue and then melts into gooey, creamy chocolatiness!!

The normals out there will probably wonder what on earth I’m talking about, but someone with food allergies has all these questions. What do peanuts taste like? Is eating squid like eating rubber? Does cheese taste like feet? Do eggs taste like farts? It’s hard to imagine something you’ve never had.

If any of my readers get the chance to try one of these paradise pots, perhaps you can tell me if it’s like mousse? For now I’m going to happily believe that it is, and I can tick one more thing off my list of new experiences!

P.s I’d also welcome your thoughts on eggs and cheese!!

I’ll have the air biryani with a side of O2 bhaji

I went for a curry this evening…..or so I thought. Here’s the story of what happened when I got there.

A group of us were going to belatedly celebrate the new year, and we chose an Indian Restaurant where I’ve eaten many times before and they’ve been really good with my allergies.

When the waiter finally came around, after about an hour of waiting, I gave my order for starter and asked to speak to him about the main because of my allergies. I normally have the lamb lahorei but fancied trying something different. To my astonishment he replied that because I’m allergic to dairy I couldn’t have any curry from the menu as every single one has milk in the sauce base.

I argued my very valid point that I’ve eaten there many times before, and even have written correspondence from the restaurant saying which dishes are suitable. The only thing they could offer was a dry vegetable dish.

This provoked a reaction in me that hasn’t arisen for quite some time, and I’m not proud of it. I was hungry and just wanted to be able eat a nice meal with no problem. So I simply got up, took my coat and bag and left.

I hate it when situations bring this reaction out in me, but I just don’t know what to do. It’s a mixture of frustration, disappointment and shame that once again I’m feeling victimised for having an allergy. So I leave.

I usually come back, feeling slightly sheepish and wondering what was said while I was gone.

This evening I walked out of the door not really sure where I would go. I didn’t really want to get in the car and drive home as I’d miss out on the conversation and fun of a night out with the group. So I did something I’ve never done before. I went into the Indian restaurant next door to see if they could do me a take away (which I thought I could take back into the original restaurant and eat)!! It turns out they couldn’t cater for me either, which really baffles me. I’ve been eating Indian food for 20+ years and I’ve never before experienced an entire menu that I’m allergic to, never mind two menus!

I went back in to the original restaurant and they agreed to make my starter a large portion, so I could have it as a main. It was ok, but not what I wanted.

The restaurant clearly understands about allergies as the waiter knew the difference between allergies, intolerances and people who just don’t like something, so I just don’t get why they do not offer allergy friendly options, particularly when they previously did. I am being discriminated against for being born differently to normal people, and I don’t think this is right. It put a complete downer on my night and that of the people I was with, when it could have been easily resolved. Don’t put the milk in it. Simple.

I feel I should mention the name of the restaurants so other allergy sufferers in the Portsmouth area don’t get caught out. The restaurant we ate at is Massala Room. Interestingly, one of the reviews on their website mentions how well they catered for the reviewer’s Vegan niece. How did they manage this, then, if all the sauces have milk in them? The restaurant next door is Indian Cottage.

I can safely say I won’t be going back any time soon. After all, what’s the point?

Rant over.