Tag Archives: Moo-free chocolate

Rocky Road

Over the last few months, I have been encouraging G and M to become more engaged with the treats they like to eat, in particular asking them to find, choose and make the goodies they want to eat themselves. Part of my reasoning was to make sure M has some safe desserts to include with his lunch at school as it’s so difficult to buy safe options for him, and part was to help them both develop the skills they need to cook safe food in the future. It has been a mixed success and as soon as their initial enthusiasm wore off, the number of biscuits and snacks they had similarly reduced to almost nothing. However, after a couple of busy weeks at work, I decided to seek solace in the baking process myself and chose to experiment with adapting a new recipe for them both to enjoy.

My starting point was a favourite treat of mine, which I thought I could adapt, but actually needed me to perfect another biscuit first before I could even attempt the final product. I love shortbread, especially at Christmas time and I thought that an M-friendly shortbread might be a great starting point and something G and M would both like on its own. Some quick online research and I found a great and simple shortbread recipe, which thanks to our recent successful introduction of Vitalite dairy-free margarine to M’s diet, only needed me to swap the flour to make it perfect for him. It didn’t take long to whip up the first batch and G and M were delighted to taste-test them for me.

With the success of the shortbread in my back pocket, it was time to turn my attention to my final goal – M-friendly Rocky road. This time I recruited G as my kitchen help and she enjoyed the tasks of chopping the Freedom mallows as well as smashing some of the shortbread into bitesize pieces too. Whilst the standard recipe calls for the inclusion of raisins or cherries in it, we haven’t yet introduced them into M’s diet and so instead used dried banana chips, which again had some attention from G and her trusty rolling-pin. Moo-free chocolate has proven to be another safe option for M and was the final ingredient needed for the recipe.

An hour or 2 in the fridge and the Rocky road was ready. It was another resounding success with G and M and they certainly enjoyed the week or so that followed as either shortbread or rocky road was included in their packed lunches every day. Even better, M was so taken with both recipes that it reignited his interest in doing some safe baking himself and he spent a Saturday afternoon making the shortbread and prepping everything for the rocky road before he had to head to bed. He even told me off for not having put my recipes onto my blog quick enough for him to find and follow – so here they are, ready for the next time my youngest ventures into the kitchen!

Battle of the Birthday cakes

December is always a busy month for our family, what with birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas to celebrate and squeeze in alongside the end of term and all the added demands that that almost always inevitably brings. As well as the last-minute rush to make sure cards have been written (and sent) and that presents have been bought (and wrapped), I also have to make sure I have time to bake the perfect cake to help us celebrate G’s birthday in style.

Over the years I have tried my hand at all sorts of cakes and I love spending the time to let my creative side really come out, though Mike might disagree as some of my more complicated masterpieces have kept us up into the early hours as I strive to get every detail just right. Last year I attempted a gluten- and dairy-free red velvet cake for G, which tasted great, but didn’t look as appealing as I’d have liked and so this year I was determined to create her a special treat that looked and tasted the part. G is a definite chocolate lover, something that can be a little tricky when you’re dairy-free, but there are lots of great dairy-free options available and I was determined to use a mix of them to make G a cake that the whole family, including M, could enjoy.

The obvious starting point was the beautiful chocolate mayonnaise cupcakes that I had perfected for Mike’s birthday and which I knew I could turn into a fantastic 2 layer cake. I wanted to create a really sumptuous filling and to my delight discovered this salted caramel flavoured icing mix as I wandered around our local supermarket. Mixed with our regular dairy-free spread, this made the perfect buttercream filling and topping for G’s cake. I finished it off with handfuls of Freedom mallows, shavings of Moo-free chocolate and sprinkles of Sainsbury’s Free From White chocolate chips. The final cake was a huge success: gooey, delicious and everything my chocolate-lover could have wanted for her 15th birthday.

Once G’s birthday celebrations finally came to an end, I was then on to my next birthday cake project, which was to bake a cake for my Aunt for her birthday on December 23. This year was her first celebrating without my Uncle, who sadly passed away earlier in 2018 and the plan was for a family gathering at my Mum’s house to mark the day. Mum was keen for me to bake some more of the chocolate cake that I had made for G’s birthday, but I wanted to do something a little different, especially with Christmas right around the corner, and instead settled on one of M’s firm favourites, banana bread.

When it came to making the cake, G was a huge help and offered to bake a dozen cupcakes, whilst I decided how to decorate them. She did a great job and by the time I’d found the perfect design and all the necessary ingredients, there were 12 wonderful looking cupcakes waiting and ready to go. I took inspiration from the front cover of a fantastic cupcakes cookery book that I’ve used before and gave a nod to my Welsh heritage with a plateful of sheep cupcakes. Safe buttercream icing, a small supply of Freedom mallows, safe cocoa powder and a little fondant icing was all that was needed to create these fun birthday treats,which were not only enjoyed on the 23rd, but saw G and M through Christmas too.

Best food trial EVER – and just in time for Easter!

I don’t know what it’s like in your house, but Easter is always one of those celebrations that creeps up and takes me by surprise. I suspect that the general busy-ness of the 6 weeks beforehand plays a big part in my seeming inability to effectively organise for it. Every year I say I’ll be sorted and every year I fail miserably. When you consider the steady pace of events through our household this year: from Shrove Tuesday’s pancakes to Valentines Day, my birthday swiftly followed by M’s 10th and Mothers Day thrown into the mix for good measure, there’s no wonder that having finally paused for a much-needed breath, I’ve once again almost let Easter pass us by,

In previous years both M and G have been able to enjoy dairy- and soya-free Easter eggs, 20150402_183827although last year was very different as by the time the day arrived, M was only eating rice, chicken and cucumber and our options were limited to plastic eggs and an accompaniment of non-edible treats. Thanks to some strategic conversations with M’s dietician and some canny planning on my part, Easter 2016 is promising to be a much more exciting time for him as we’ve timed to perfection his next food challenge: cocoa and dairy-free chocolate!

M is now counting down to when he can start this food trial and I’ve been frantically exploring the free from market as, believe it or not, there have been some exciting new ventures in the dairy- and soya-free chocolate world that we’ve yet to discover. Here I’ve decided to share some of the great options available for those of you looking for a fantastic dairy-free Easter chocolate treat and hope that you’re able to find the perfect one for you.

Please note: Due to M’s previously identified hypersensitivity, we are avoiding soya lecithin as well as dairy and soya, but not all of these products use an alternative, so I’ve listed any “may contains” listed by the manufacturer.

Plamil Foods – This is a brand that I’ve seen, but knew very little about. easter-eggs-xlThey are the oldest vegan company in the UK and as well as not using milk, their factory is also gluten- and nut-free. Impressively they were the first company in the world to make dairy-free milk chocolate in 1983 and the first organic chocolate in the UK. Their Easter products include a variety of Easter Bunny bars and bags of half chocolate eggs as well as the more traditional hollow eggs.


Moo Free Chocolate
– We’ve been big fans of Moo-free chocolate for a long-time, not least because they were one of the first dairy-free brands that I discovered that used sunflower lecithin, making them really safe for M. As well as their ever available chocolate bars, they are selling hollow Easter eggs in 3 flavours: moo-free-3-eggs-diagonal-web-mediumOriginal, Bunnycomb and Orange.

  • Dairy-, gluten-, lactose-, casein- and wheat-free. Also vegetarian and vegan
  • Uses sunflower lecithin
  • *May contain traces of hazelnuts
  • Available from a number of stockists including Sainsburys, Waitrose and Holland & Barrett. For a full list, click here
  • Prices from £4.00 to £4.99
  • G’s mark out of 10: 10/10

 

D&D Chocolates – This is a new brand to the whole family and I was lucky enough to have a taste at the recent #FFFA16 judging days I attended. As their website shows, they have a whole range of really lovely Easter products from the delightfully named Chuckling bunnies, mini eggs and various felt bags and baskets crammed full of chocolate. choccbunniesHR-bigThey also sell carob products and have a similarly impressive range of those themed for Easter too.

  • Dairy-, nut- and gluten-free. Also vegan
  • Uses sunflower lecithin
  • *May contain traces of soya
  • Available on-line as well as Independent health stores
  • Prices from £2.50 to £29.99
  • G’s mark out of 10: 8.5/10


Cocoa Libre
– These are a relative newcomer to the freefrom market, but impressively have been shortlisted at both the #FFFA15 and #FFFA16. When I first saw their products, I got very excited as they are made with Rice Milk, which is clearly labelled on their packaging, but sadly they also include soya lecithin at the moment.This means that they’re not currently suitable for M, though I’ve no doubt that G would love this box of 10 Easter chicks.UfubKWw9Rb4AWzEU3q0Ot-jlK0Y

  • Dairy-, gluten-, wheat- and nuts-free. Also vegan
  • Uses soya lecithin
  • Available on-line as well as a number of small independent stores around the country
  • Prices from £1.95 to £4.95
  • G’s marks out of 10: Unfortunately G didn’t manage to try this one before I published this blog, but the chocolate I tasted at the #FFFA16 earned a 9/10 from me

 

Booja Booja – If you eat dairy-free chocolate and want to be indulged, you need look no further! Booja Booja makes the most decadent and delicious chocolate, which is perhaps far more suitable for the adult taste than for children, though needless to say,
G and M both loved their champagne truffles a few years ago! They have a beautiful selection of Easter eggs in this years collection and I’d be hard pushed to know which to choose.

  • organic as well as dairy-, gluten- and soya-free
  • *May contain nutsboojabooja2
  • Available from stores including Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and Sainsburys. Other stockists can be found on-line here
  • Prices from £9.95
  • G’s marks out of 10: We didn’t try their Easter eggs, but their truffles deserve a richly indulgent 10/10

Christmas without food

foodIt’s not until you find yourself in a situation where you need to avoid food that you realise just how much of our everyday lives and how many social occasions revolve around meals or other food-based activities.  Just think about it: birthdays are celebrated with a mix of party food, cake, treats for your friends and – when you’re turning 9 – party bags filled with sweets; Easter inevitably includes the requisite chocolate egg plus Easter biscuits and Simnel cake; a catch-up with old friends often starts with coffee and cake and may well move on to drinks and dinner; and Christmas is, quite simply, the time when we all over-indulge and go mad, filling our cupboards and fridge with chocolates, biscuits, mince pies and brandy butter in a manner that suggests there’s a genuine risk that we might run out at any minute.

Our plans for this Christmas itself were relatively simple.  My Mum had suggested that we served a buffet over the festive period, rather than having the traditional mid-afternoon sit-down feast that we’ve all become accustomed to, which seemed a great alternative and allowed us to cater for everyone’s needs.  Much to my surprise, M was keen for the rest of us to sit at the table for supper on Christmas Eve, whilst he sat in the other room watching some Christmas TV and sipped his glass of full-sugar 7-up, one of the few treats he’s allowed alongside his elemental feed.  By Christmas Day, he wanted to have company in front of the TV and Boxing Day saw us eating in shifts, whilst the others played board games or watched films with M. We quickly learned to let M decide where he was happiest being at meal-times and included him in as many traditions as we could – pulling Christmas crackers, sharing the jokes, wearing paper crowns and making the time as normal as possible without focussing all our attention, and his, on the food.

Courtesy of abcnews.go.com

Courtesy of abcnews.go.com

We thought we had covered all the bases this Christmas, or at least, all those we considered to be the biggies, but it was the little things that crept up and caught us unawares.  Our Christmas stockings always include chocolate treats (dairy- and soya-free naturally), a box of tic-tacs, a handful of nuts and a satsuma pushed down to the toe, but none of those could find its way into M’s stocking this year.  I had bought Moo-free chocolate advent calendars and selection boxes for both children before we knew he’d be going into hospital and whilst M had managed to have 4 advent chocolates before his admission and G enjoyed the rest whilst he was in, I had to work out how to give G the selection boxes without rocking M’s world too much.  This was one of those small things that needed a lot of late night planning on Christmas Eve. slices

In stark contrast, Mike and I had considered beforehand the treats that usually adorn the coffee table at home and deliberately didn’t leave out the boxes of Turkish delight or the dates or the orange and lemon slices in their normal home.  Instead, we stored them in a safe corner to be pulled out once both children were in bed as we didn’t want them to be a constant reminder of what M couldn’t eat and yet he objected more to us hiding these goodies away than leaving them on display. “It just isn’t Christmas, Mummy” was his feeling on the matter, without these seasonal delights out for all to share and enjoy.

I’m not sure I know that we didn’t get everything 100% right, but given that we were very much thrown in the deep end with little advice on how to survive the day, I think we did okay.  The biggest lesson learnt was to be flexible on a daily basis and not to expect one day to be like the next, both at home and at school.  Some days M sits and chats with G at the dinner table, enjoying a Foxes glacier mint (another small treat allowed) and a glass of 7-up whilst she eats her meal and yet the next will find him close to tears and hidden away in another room for the duration.  There is no pressure for him to constantly be a part of every meal-time and as long as he spends some quality time with the rest of the family, I’m happy to give him the time-out he sometimes so desperately needs.

National Chocolate Week – Part 2

Despite arriving late to the delight that is National Chocolate Week, we have been lucky enough to receive another fantastically M-friendly chocolate product to try and then review.  As I mentioned in my last post, Moo-free chocolate bars are a staple in the fridge at 7yearstodiagnosis HQ and this latest find might soon become another permanent fixture in our store cupboards.

chocshotI had never even heard of Sweet Freedom foods until I came across a stray comment on Twitter last month that pointed me in the direction of their allergy-friendly product, Choc Shot.  This chocolate syrup is made in the UK from “Sweet Freedom® (natural fruit extracts; apples, grapes & carob), water, cocoa, rapeseed oil, natural chocolate flavour” and promises to deliver great taste for a low calorie and GI content.  The website includes a wealth of recipe suggestions for using Choc Shot and I couldn’t wait to see whether it could do all that it promised.  M tried it first, opting to have it spread sparingly on a piece of toast, a rare treat in our household.  He liked the flavour, but didn’t love it, finding it quite rich and not overly sweet.  I could quickly tell that it didn’t quite hit the mark here as he hasn’t asked for a second helping at all.

Mark:  A tentative 7/10

20141007_182950However, I was keen to see whether we would fare any better if I used the Choc Shot to cook with and here is where this product really comes into its own.  I decided to whip up a batch of my Canadian-style pancakes for pudding and chose to deploy the Choc Shot in 2 ways to see which worked best to satisfy my hungry hoards.  The first lot was pancakes made with a generous helping of frozen forest fruits  – think cherries, blackcurrants, grapes and blackberries, all the things G wouldn’t usually touch with a barge-pole – mixed into the batter and drizzled with Choc Shot to serve; the second round saw me incorporating both the fruit selection and the Choc Shot into the mixture to produce delicious-looking Chocolate and fruit pancakes.  I dished them up and waited nervously for the reports of my discerning children.  Two rapidly emptied bowls soon appeared on the table, accompanied by requests for more pancakes, even from G, who barely blinked when I told her what fruits were included in her dessert.  I was delighted with this result, not least because the Choc Shot added a delightful chocolate flavour to the pancakes without making them overly sweet.

Mark: A resounding 10/10

20141017_122336The final test was to try the Choc Shot as suggested on the bottle itself – to make Hot Chocolate.  I heated mugs of rice milk in the microwave, added a generous squirt of the Choc Shot and topped it off with some boiling water.  The end result was fantastic – rich enough to feel indulgent, but not too sweet.  It was quick to make and was, by far and away, the best M-friendly hot chocolate I’ve been able to make since diagnosis.

Mark:  10/10

I was impressed with Choc Shot and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for an allergy-friendly alternative for chocolate to use in cooking.  It is readily available from most supermarket chains and is reasonably priced at around £3.50 a bottle.

 

*Disclaimer – We were sent bottles of Choc Shot and Sweet Freedom for the purpose of an independent review and the views expressed are entirely my own and those of G and M.

National Chocolate Week – Part 1

I’ve rather belatedly discovered that this week is National Chocolate Week and what better way to enjoy this amazing celebration, than to review 2 fantastic AND M-friendly chocolate products in my blog?

20140916_170227Tonight’s offering are the wonderful creations from Moo-free.  I discovered this chocolate 2 or 3 Christmases ago, when I spotted it on the shelves of one of my local health food shops. The chocolate is vegan and soya free and is made using sunflower lecithin, instead of soya lecithin, which my hyper-sensitive boy reacts to, even in the tiniest of trace amounts.

The chocolate is rich and delicious and has become a staple of our fridge at home.  They have developed their range over the last couple of years, which now includes the likes of Cheeky Orange, Minty Moo, Bunnycomb, Chocolate Drops and Cranberry and Hazelnuts bars to name but a few.  Their seasonal offerings are equally impressive with Chocolate Santas, Chocolate Advent Calendars and a brand new Chocolate Selection box as well as Easter Eggs on offer at appropriate times in the year.

Moo-free were kind enough to send us the individual bars included in their Christmas Selection box and, needless to say, G and M were more than willing to taste-test each bar and give their marks out of 10:

G M
Cheeky Orange A lovely crunch and just the right amount of flavour

 

Mark:   10/10

Nice, but the orange flavour reminds me of medicine

 

Mark:   9/10

Minty Moo Delicious, the right amount of crunch & an awesome flavour

 

Mark:   10/10

Not quite 10/10 as it tastes a little like toothpaste & I don’t like seeing the mint pieces

Mark:   9/10

Bunnycomb Perfect crunch!  I love it

 

Mark:   10/10

I loved it, great flavour and the perfect crunch

 

Mark:   10/10

Chocolate Santa Nice, but I liked the flavoured ones more 

Mark:   9.5/10

The flavour’s good and the shape is fantastic 

Mark:   10/10

Overall family rating:  10/10

20140916_170326

Both children enjoyed them all and are more than happy to nibble on whichever one is available.  If they’re able to choose, then M would always go for the Bunnycomb as his favourite flavour, whilst G’s top pick is the Minty Moo.  They are readily available in most of the big supermarket chains now, are reasonably priced and the choice is brilliant especially as it is all safe for M.  I’m thrilled by the offer of a selection box this Christmas, the first time either of my children will have been able to enjoy this festive treat.  You can buy these from some supermarkets or can find them on-line at Freefromforkids or other on-line stockists.

 

 *Disclaimer – We were sent this selection of Moo-free chocolate bars for the purpose of an independent review and the views expressed are entirely my own and those of G and M.

Time for elevenses – choc chip cookie anyone?

Another peaceful Sunday afternoon could only mean one thing – another chance to try my hand at a new recipe.  Since our last visit to GOSH, M’s diet has become even more restricted and I desperately needed a new treat to add to his lunch-box and hopefully bring a smile back to his face.  Whilst the children were outside enjoying some long-awaited sunshine and Mike was working on our bathroom renovation plans, I sat at the kitchen table, pouring over my vast array of cookbooks.  This may come as something of a surprise, but I only have one that is dedicated to allergy-friendly cooking, instead I prefer to take my inspiration from regular recipes, which are adapted to suit M’s food needs.

Courtesy of theguardian.com

Courtesy of theguardian.com

I had already looked through my store cupboard to see what interesting ingredients might be waiting for me to use them and stumbled across a pack of Moo-free dairy-, and soya-free chocolate drops.  For those who have yet to discover the delights of Moo-free chocolate, this amazing product has been a real revolution for our household.  Not only do they produce chocolate buttons, but themed chocolate bars for Christmas and even Easter eggs that are suitable for both dairy- and soya-allergy sufferers.  I added their Cranberry and Hazelnut chocolate to M’s Rainforest flapjacks recipe, which became an instant hit in our household last summer.

Chocolate drops could only mean one thing – chocolate chip cookies.  I had a quick hunt through the books and found a recipe that seemed to be easy enough to convert for a M-friendly batch.  It came from a fundraising cookbook called “Squeeze your Lemon”, which Father Christmas kindly left in my stocking a few years ago.  I hadn’t before attempted a recipe from here, so was excited to see just how well the cookies would turn out.

20140119_183736The recipe itself was easy to follow, though the end result was a little sweet for my tastes.  G and M sampled them warm from the oven and, after mere seconds of deliberation, awarded them – and me – a more than satisfactory 9 out of 10.  The only complaints were that they were too crumbly, which is probably due to the rice flour used, and that they were too puffy! M insists that they would have been near-perfect if only I had made them a little smaller and flatter.  Either way, the recipe worked well and a cookie has found its way into 2 small lunch-boxes every day this week.  A definite bake to add to my ever-increasing repertoire, which makes it a success in my book.

Rainforest Flapjacks

Now, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the past 3 weeks have involved little more than baking and eating an array of M-friendly treats.  This week was no exception.  Having attempted the series of lemon recipes as well as the best chocolate cake ever and feeling somewhat delighted with the results, we decided that our next baking efforts were going to be the rather exotically named “Rainforest Flapjacks”.

This recipe came home from school and looked easy enough to adapt for M’s dietary needs.  I will confess right now to having felt a little frustrated by M’s school’s reluctance to cook with him.  The two occasions they have chosen to cook with his class have both conveniently coincided with times when he was away from school.  Do I blame them for not wanting to cope with his complex dietary needs?  Not entirely, but I have had to deal with the fall-out, disappointment and tears at home.

My solution this time round was to suggest to M that he asked for the recipe so that we could attempt it at home.  In due course, the printed sheet made its way into M’s drawer and finally came home in a decent enough state that I could still read the list of ingredients.  Everything was easily substituted for M-friendly alternatives and, in the case of the oats, G-friendly millet flakes.  I had the full complement of ingredients in either the fridge or the cupboard and so we were ready to start.

SAM_1354

As ever, I took my chances and doubled the quantities to make sure I had enough flapjacks to last the week and so we began.  The process was easy, the children loved measuring out the ingredients and the odd bit of a chocolate might have strayed into an open mouth along the way.  We used a bar of the wonderful Moo-free Cranberry and Hazelnuts chocolate which is both soya- and dairy-free, though plain dark chocolate would work just as well.

SAM_1358

The end result was a delight.  Both children devoured the first few pieces without hesitation and the double quantity only just lasted the week.  G even asked if I could make it without the nuts so that she could take a slice for her packed lunches at school from September.

In case you’re wondering what makes them “Rainforest” flapjacks (as Mike asked), my answer is simple.  They contain bananas, chocolate, are perfect for our 2 little monkeys and the name linked in perfectly with M’s topic for school!

SAM_1373

 

This post is an entry into the Foodies100/Schwartz Flavour of Together challenge – you can add your own exotic Flavour story via this link