Quick and easy lunch idea

For a quick and easy, tasty lunch, try grilling a block of Violife Mediterranean Style Block (a dairy free Vegan halloumi substitute).

Cut the block in half, season with salt and pepper and serve in a toasted pitta with hummus, falafel and a handful of mixed salad leaves. Yummers!

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A sundae on Saturday

I’ve. Just. Had. The. Best. Ice cream. EVER!

I’m staying in Cardiff at the moment, singing with a visiting choir at Llandaff Cathedral. In between services we have a bit of time to ourselves to see the sights and hit the shops. This weekend Mr Allergy joined me, so I Googled top things to do in Cardiff.

We started out with a walk to Cardiff Bay, which was blustery and a bit drizzly. We had hoped to look around Cardiff Castle, but it was really busy with groups of tourists. So instead of touring the castle I took us into Castle Arcade, which is opposite the castle.

The arcade is filled with quirky eateries and shops such as Magic and Mayhem, a shop dedicated to all things Harry Potter. Opposite Magic and Mayhem is something called Science Cream. This is an ice cream parlour, but not as you know it. The ice creams are all made using liquid nitrogen and are made to order.

The flavours are quirky and fun, and change from day to day. Best of all, they have a vegan ice cream which is made using coconut milk.

Today’s vegan ice cream was Parma Violet flavour, served with edible viola flowers, honeycomb and a purple berry sauce. After only a short wait, the ice cream sundae arrived and it looked amazing. I ordered a small, and it was huge! It was so pretty with the violas, I almost didn’t want to eat it.

Sometimes things that look good let you down on flavour but boy, that was not the case with this ice cream. It tasted just like the Parma Violet sweets I had as a child. The ice cream was silky and smooth, which is different to many coconut milk ice creams that tend to be a bit grainy. The berry sauce was slightly tart, which perfectly complemented the sweetness of the ice cream. The honeycomb pieces were an added stroke of genius, and added a lovely crunchy texture to the sundae.

Mr Allergy had the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl sundae, which looked equally amazing, but was not very Allergy Girl-friendly!

Science Cream is a fantastic gem and I would highly recommend a visit for allergy sufferers and normals alike, as it produces top quality products with a touch of panache and theatre that you won’t find elsewhere. Next time I’m in Cardiff I look forward to trying a different flavour, or maybe I’ll try a Masterclass. In the meantime it has inspired me to get the ice cream maker out at home and have a crack at making my own. I wonder what a weird and wonderful flavours I’ll come up with?

Brioche with you!

What is the fascination with Brioche?

I recently spent a long weekend in Hamburg and was looking forward to eating a proper Hamburger (not a person from the City, the food). But every single burger restaurant served their burger in Brioche, which I’m allergic to.

Everywhere you go there is Brioche. In breakfast rolls, bruschetta, pulled pork buns and now it has even made its way into the Wetherspoons Beer and Burger deal. Boo, hiss!

The top of the Brioche bun is always photogenically shiny like Kim Kardashian’s perfectly highlighted cheekbones. Don’t get me wrong, it looks nice, and is definitely Instagram worthy. But when you get inside it’s yellow. To me, bread comes in two colours: white and brown. Since when has bread been yellow? Does it taste nice? Mr Allergy says not particularly – it’s too sweet. I’ll never know, but it doesn’t appeal to me.

Maybe the reason for the current Brioche overload is that enriched dough sounds more luxurious and expensive than a floured bap. But what’s wrong with a good old fashioned sesame seed bun? Or if you’re pushing the boat out, a rustic ciabatta. You’re going to get dusty hands from the ciabatta or the floured bap, but surely that’s part of the joy of munching your way through a massive burger.

I guess that until this current phase is over and done with, I’m not going to get a good burger unless it’s cooked at home. And who knows what might follow the Brioche craze? Whatever it is, I’m sure it will look beautiful on social media, regardless of the taste!

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.

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!