Chocolate eggs all round!

HAPPY EASTER FOLKS….

And like all good festive occasions around hear its a day of eating, drinking and stretchy pants!

We have been invited to a friends house this Easter for dinner, but due to work it was a last minuet job so I am bringing the gluten free stuff and topping it up with there vegan extras. So its a good job i’m a happy prepper and always have something I can take to a friends last minuet.

Tasty nibbles….

Our friends live in a little town up in them there hills with no big shops, so I wouldn’t expect to find a shop that specialises in vegan and gluten free foods, yet there is one. I have yet to go being Easter and only just finding out about it but trust me a trip there is in the pipe line.

My friend however, went and stocked up!

For nibbles and from the shop of dreams I had kale crackers and mushroom pâté.

I love pâté I could eat it with everything, so to be able to find a gluten free and vegan option is amazing! It was so creamy and tasted of mushrooms, not a fake taste but the real deal. The kale crackers were crunchy but not dry and made a perfect partner for the pâté and were lovely just on there own too.

The nibbles are meant to be that, just nibbles before the main meal but the crackers and pâté were so good I basically woofed them down.

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A roast for all…

Normally when I have a roast dinner I don’t bother with a meat alternative because lots and lots of veggies suits me fine. But this time I happened to have a Quorn roast in my freezer which is a delicious alternative to a roasted meat. I cooked mine before heading out to our friend, for no other reason than it was easier to do that.

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Quorn roast has a sweet but subtitle taste, however it can be a little dry due to its denseness so I would advice a little moisture to go with it, be it gravy, mayo of any other sauce.

I made my other half try it as everyone was picking on it due to its lack of colour and it shape (you don’t want to know what they were saying!) but once they tasted it apparently its just like chicken!

Wouldn’t know can’t remember that taste

all I know is that a Quorn roast is delicious hot and cold!

To go with our meal my friend searched the supermarkets for a suitable drink. I shocked her at Christmas by saying I would have a cup of tea with my meal so this Easter she has found me a gluten free, vegan non-alcoholic wine.

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My friend is a wine expert and loves Co-op wines and I have to agree their non-alcohol wine was beautiful. It was a crisp and refreshing drink to accompany a quite heavy meal.

Eggs galore, or not…

For many years the family have swapped Easter eggs, this year they have struggled to find a suitable egg for me one that has no allergens in and is worth the money. I know they are around but those I have seen are either very expensive, mini or both!

I cant understand why gluten free vegan eggs are so expensive.

I have seen some in several of the big supermarkets, but there very small vegan/gluten free chocolate eggs with nothing in it, so just a thin piece of chocolate basically and they were nearly £3. Or you can get a medium and sometimes a large size non-vegan egg which are normally gluten free with extra bits for the same price if not less.

I just don’t get it!

So instead of eggs I decided to make cakes for everyone and myself in turn.

Cakey bakey….

When I think Easter I think cute bunnies, baby chicks and carrots. Lots and lots of carrots.

So what to make for everyone but a nice and chunky gluten and lactose free carrot cake. I was going to make it vegan but i’m still trying to find and egg replacement that works for what I need.

I don’t often make carrot cake, i’m more of a sponge cupcake kinda girl, but after this little beauty I think I will be making it more often.

It was a beautiful mix of moisture and flavour, most gluten free cakes are crumbly in nature compared to “normal” cakes but this recipe worked really well with my gluten free flour.

For this I used Asda’s free from self raising flour, but any of the free from flours would work perfectly. For the cream cheese topping I used a mix of lactose free and vegan alternatives from Arla and Pure free from.

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And what goes best with cake?

Well more cakes obviously!

So to accompany the carrot cake I made cornflake cakes using Asda’s free from cornflakes. Unfortunately they were made with dairy chocolate so there not for me, well not in the masses anyways. I added little extras in the chocolate including caramel, cherries and the best one peanut butter, yum yum!

Cornflake cakes are such a simple but tasty cake, 2 or 3 ingredients and that’s it. Not all tasty treats have to be complicated to make.

I will be looking out for vegan cooking chocolate or larger bars of vegan chocolate that wont cost the earth so I can make them again and scoff!

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This Easter was just how I imagined it, full of delicious foods and drinks, happy family and friends and what better than finding a new shop to explore!

I shall be visiting the shop soon for a visit and no doubt a big shop but if you want a nosey find these guys online;

 

Happy Easter folks….

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Will my shampoo make me poo?….

A question I’ve been asking myself for a while now after seeing multiple TV adverts stating their products are now free from gluten. But does this really affect those of us with allergies or intolerance to gluten or is it just a marketing thing.

I have been nursing for many years and I know your entire body is linked up, including what you put on your skin effecting what goes on on internally. We use topical pharmaceuticals regularly for issues on the inside, so its not un-questionable that the beauty products we use could be causing issues inside too.

But can a shampoo containing gluten really make us sick? And does it make a difference depending if were allergic or intolerant?

So whats the difference….

People with a allergies to gluten will often say there “allergic” and go no further with the conversation, that’s what I do. I don’t have the time to explain to folks about my past with the anaemia and the failed Coeliac’s tests leading me to a gluten free lifestyle. However, there are several different gluten “allergies” each with a different range of symptoms and reactions.

  • Coeliac’s Disease: Firstly this condition isn’t actually an allergy. Although most people will say it is because its easier for others to understand it that way. Its actually an autoimmune disorder; if digested, gluten will trigger a immune reaction in the lining of the small intestines causing damage. There is no “cure” to coeliac’s the symptoms and damage are reduced by eating a gluten free diet.

 

  • Gluten intolerance:  Is a phrase people tend use when they have a negative result to the coeliac’s tests yet are still have issues with gluten. Folk’s like this are now being diagnosed with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

 

  • Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity:  Coeliac Disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity are not the same. Those with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity will  have a negative blood test result for coeliac but have all the same symptoms. However, it does not cause major damage to the small intestines but some will have minimal damage that will reduce with a gluten free diet.

 

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis: Also known as “gluten rash”. Dermatitis herpertifomis is a red and very itchy skin rash that appears when gluten is consumed. Most people would associate a rash caused by something as a allergy, but like Coeliac’s disease it is a autoimmune reaction to gluten. A gluten free diet will help reduce the rash.

 

  • Wheat allergy: Is an allergy to wheat, not gluten. Gluten free contains no wheat, rye or barley. Those with wheat allergies cant have wheat but usually have no issues with barley or rye.

 

So will your gluten beauty products make you ill….

Simple answer is no.

However, as most allergies, auto immune reactions and intolerance are due to digestion of gluten maybe avoid lip balms, dental products and products that go around the mouth that contain gluten just in case. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin reaction to gluten but has shown it wont be affected by topical gluten containing products.

Gluten is known for its ability to hold together and provide elasticity so is perfect for hair sprays and other products. But is not needed. There are many gluten free beauty products that work just as good as those containing gluten.

So its a personal choice.

I have issues with gluten, lactose and many other things but so far i have had no issues with beauty products including shampoos and hair dyes containing gluten. However, I am now more vigilant about the ingredients used in my products and have become a beauty product label checker.

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If you do have any issues with beauty products, gluten free or containing gluten please see your health care professional for a formal assessment.

Your safe to use what you like to achieve your perfect hair do, just don’t eat it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m confused….

My love….

Dining out is one of my greatest loves, always has been. So when I had to change my diet to include gluten free as well as my choice to be vegetarian and my lactose intolerance I genuinely thought, well that’s my dining out stopped!

It was hard enough to find places to eat to accommodate 2 restrictions, adding in the 3rd was really hard. However, it appears the UK and the rest have the world have caught up and now can provide vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.

The problem is its becoming a minefield of folders and tablets, gluten free and non-gluten and hundreds of “oh, you’ll have to speak to the manager” conversations!

So whats the issue….

So far I’ve bumped into 3 different terms when dining out:

  • Gluten free
  • Very low levels of Gluten
  • non-gluten

So what is the difference?

The law….

In 2012 a new law was put in place that stated all products must be labelled with their gluten contents. The law covered all food from factory packed to cafes.

According to the law any product described as “gluten free” must contain less than 20 parts per million or less of gluten or less; “very low gluten” must be 100 parts per million of gluten or less; “non-gluten” foods are food that do not contain gluten deliberately but may have it in due to cross contamination, manufacturing processes or preparation areas.

So depending on your severity of your gluten allergy depends on how ridged you need to be.

For myself, as I am currently not formally diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease I like to be very careful about the amount of gluten I have. I try to stick to gluten free or low gluten choices. However, I have eaten from establishments from their non-gluten free menus with variable results.

The confusion….

All these different terms can be confusing, not helped by a folder being shoved under your nose or a tablet to scan through, the pressure can be annoying!

However, we need to know the differences as for some it can be dangerous to be contaminated. Recently I took a trip out with the fam and we stopped at a road side Starbucks. I have had many a Starbucks in my life as its my favourite coffee shop, but this day the establishment we went to was very busy and the servers appeared rushed off their feet. We ordered coffee and I always like to order mine because I then know I’ve remembered to say soya and decaf, then I always re check after the order has been taken and made. This day I didn’t re ask after it was made and as you can guess they gave me caffeinated coffee, which I have a big problem with. I spent the next several hours feeling super unwell and away from home anxiety ridden as I was at first unsure why I was feeling so unwell. So its not just us that can get confused, so we need to make sure we are hyper vigilant when It comes to our allergies.

Obvious? I think not….

One of the best ways you can make sure your meal is within the law for gluten free is by looking for this symbol:

GF accrediation

This is the Coeliac’s UK Gluten free label. This symbols means the menu is gluten free in the eyes of the law and the eatery meets all the standard required to make/prepare gluten free food and the staff have the appropriate training. I have seen this symbol in a few restaurants but most just gluten free or non- gluten on the menus.

What I have found is that when I am ordering some place I can not order from a “normal” server I have to order from the manager, which can add to the embarrassment and sometimes the waiting time. I understand that they want to make sure that my order is dealt with thoroughly but jeebs how to make someone feel even more different!

Due to the changes in the law all food producers must clearly write if there is risk of contamination, for example no separate areas for gluten free preparation, therefor at risk of contamination.

Which they do, occasionally.

I’ve found most of the bigger establishment do write in small writing on there menus, however smaller establishment either tell you on ordering or don’t and you have to ask.

Either way I tend to ask.

 

 

I love dining out and am super happy that I can as restaurants and eateries are making it easier and safer for us with allergies to do so with support from changes in the law. However, with changes in the laws comes added confusion, so be vigilant and be wise in your choices and if your unsure don’t risk it.

Eat safe and be merry!

 

Amsterdam baby yer!

New year New travels….

So this year, right at the very beginning of it to be honest, me and 3 friends decided to go to Amsterdam on a mini cruise. My friend booked it as it was her idea and i’m poo at planning stuff. We planned to train it up to Newcastle to catch the ferry over to Amsterdam, stay there for the day and then ferry and train it back.

Sounded lovely, few days away with friends travelling on trains, which FYI are my favourite mode of transport, and a ferry trip on top of that to visiting Amsterdam.

However, knowing I was going to be away from my food securities of my kitchen and local shops was a little anxiety provoking.  But I did as all good allergic eaters do I prepped; and I prepped better than when I went Disney, lesson learnt!

The prep….

I wasn’t to concerned with the train aspect of our travels as it was still in the UK and we did have a few change overs so good pick up some goodies at those stops. It was the ferry that was worrying me the most.

I asked my friend about the facilities that were in our cabin on board the ferry, but she was unsure. We knew we’d book a window room but that was it. On checking the DFDS  site our cabin did not have tea making facilities, so no kettle. Nor did it have a mini fridge or anything like that.

Which limited my food choices right down.

I could only take food which didn’t require hot water or a fridge. Thinking about it now I probably could have taken food which need hot water, I bet if i’d asked they would have filled it up for me at one of the restaraunts even if I had to pay for the water.

But, thinking the worse I prepped accordingly.

So in my bag I had:

Love Corn BBQ flavoured, tasty little corn nibbles in a resealable bag,

Beeches vegan dark chocolate bar,

Meridian peanut and cocoa bar, I got mine from Aldi,

Morrisons moroccan falafals,

Oranges, apples and a banana.

The falafals stated they must be kept in a fridge, however, it was freezing outside and I though I would take the risk. I kept them in my bag and in the cabin and they were lovely, but I would not advice people to store them incorrectly, always follow the labels storage advice.

Its travelling time…

I met my friends on the West Midland train up to Liverpool, our first stop, we weren’t in Liverpool that long but the girls went into the Marks and Spencer in the station for some nibbles, I had a look but there was nothing for both a gluten free and vegan diet, good job I food prepped!

Then we got our Virgin train up to Newcastle, the train up to Newcastle did have a tea and coffee cart but I didn’t look at its contents so not sure if the carts are allergic friendly.

In Newcastle we decided to grab some dinner before heading onto our ferry. We stopped at Frankie and Bennys  and trying to stick to my gluten free vegan diet I chose the mushroom burger. The burger was goats cheese, mushroom and red pepper and all the fluffy stuff.   So I asked for it without the goats cheese and mayo, no issues. On paper you’d think it would be a bit dry with no mayo or cheese but it was surprisingly moist and blinking delicious!

Ahoy mateys….

My friend booked us on the DFDS mini cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam and back. The ferry its self seemed really spacious, we booked into a seaview cabin for 2. However, our cabin was really small, it was in need of a freshen up and appeared dirty.  However, we were only in the cabin for a few hours so we headed out to explore the rest of the ship. There was several restaurant and diners to eat in so it didn’t seem an issue initially to find me something to eat, as were all now starving form the travels so far.

On  the crossing over to Amsterdam we decided to visit a few of the restaurant before choosing which one to eat in. We had chatted about the ferry and all knew it was going to be expensive to eat on there, another reason I food prepped, but I don’t think we expected it to be as much as it was. The all you can eat buffet in the Explorers kitchen was nearly €30 per person, so we decided to go to another restaurant. I think it was called the Lighthouse cafe.

It was a small restaurant but a busy one, it server items like burgers, chips and sandwiches. There was no options for me apart from chips, what a shocker.

I asked about the chips and they were gluten free, so I ordered them. I know i’d food prepped but it was the 2nd of January freezing cold and raining and you know when you just need hot food even if it is chips, again.

And blinking heck did I get some chips!

The bowl was massive! It was about €7 I think and it could have been 4 peoples meal, and they were lovely. So lovely that I took the rest I couldn’t finish up to the cabin and ate them throughout the evening.

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The Dam….

We reached port at 9am in Amsterdam, oh it was a loooooong night. We hit a terrible storm which made the journey less than smooth so I was happy to be on land. The girls didn’t want breakfast, and to be honest neither did I after that journey we had, so after passport control we boarded a bus to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a beautiful city full of hustle and bustle, I’ve been there once before as just vegetarian and had no issues as they have all the big eateries being a city. But I’ve not been as a gluten free vegetarian currently vegan due to her body hating her and stopping her eating milk, diet.

Firstly I must explain, we booked this cruise understanding it was overnight travel and a day in Amsterdam and over night travel again. However, what we didn’t realise or understand is that yes its a “day” in Amsterdam but that day is cut down dramatically by passport control and travel. Meaning by time we had got off the ferry and been through passport control then a bus trip into the centre we had all of 3 hours to visit Amsterdam before having to head back.

So, to save time the girls popped into McDonalds. I can eat in McDonalds but no shocker only the chips and having eaten my weight and everyone else’s weight in chips last night I needed food. Proper food.

So whilst they were in McDonalds I noticed a shop called Albert Heijn which looked to be filled with fruits and salads and yummy stuff.

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I did do some research on how to say gluten free, vegan and vegetarian in Dutch and saved them to my phone, but what I found made me smile.

In the store they had the ingredients in Dutch but they also had pictures of what was in it on the packaging!

As I already had some “food” in my bag I decided on a smoothie, some water and a tub of strawberries.

Also in the store was lots of salads, pastas, more fruit drinks, fresh bread (not for me obviously but it smelt amazing!) and snacks. Initially I brought just the one smoothie and as we were walking around Amsterdam I was enjoying it so much I decided on getting another 2 on the way back. Throughout the day I was nibbling on my falafals, corn and snack bars but thought I would try another restaurant on the ferry back so didn’t search out any proper meals.

There are lots of little streets in Amsterdam with vendors which sell pancakes and waffles, hundreds of chip sellers and the big eateries like McDonalds, Subway and KFC. As we were so short for time I didn’t search for any specific vegan, vegetarian or gluten free places to eat but i’m sure there will be some. But if you are in Amsterdam Albert Heijn is definitely a place to pop into.

Home awaits….

So after our short trip into Amsterdam we headed back onto the ship. If i thought the journey to Amsterdam was bad this one was horrendous. The journey was so bad it made me that ill that I couldn’t leave the cabin, nor could I eat anything. I drank water and rested that’s all I could do for many hours. The girls wanted to grab some breakfast, I did not but felt well enough to walk to the buffet with them. The buffet opened about 7am but we headed down around 8am, I asked if I could see what options they had before paying. I wasn’t going to eat but I wanted to see their options.

I was shocked.

I understand we were 1 hour into the serving but I read the labels to see what would have been there on the missing trays and it was the same as what was left. There “gluten free station” consisted of rice crackers and cereal which would have cost me €14! Erm….nope!

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Once we had docked we headed back to Newcastle train station, by this point I felt somewhat better but I knew I needed to eat so we popped into the Sainsburys shop at the station to pick up a few items to snack on. There wasn’t much options but what I did get was just enough. I picked up a Alpro protein yogurt (my new addiction!), a banana and some hummus to go with my 2 last falafals.

How I made 9 falafals last 3 days i have no idea!

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The Alpro protein yogurt must be the nicest yogurt I have ever tried. Its the thickest creamiest yogurt ever.

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It is a little expensive for the size of it as you can get a 500g yogurt from Alrpo for almost the same price in some stores. However, I can justify the cost for the taste and texture it was perfect for a post ferry snack.

So lessons learnt….

Amsterdam is a beautiful city and definitely needs more than 3 hours to explore. If you sail with DFDS you can eat your weight in chips for a good prices, 9 falafals can last 3 days and don’t mix smoothies with choppy seas!

Oh and I met a cat who was asleep in some socks in a shop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety, food and the fight….

Why?….

When I tell folks what I do for a living they seem to always ask why mental health? Why not “regular” nursing? Like mental health nursing is a bad thing to have studied.

My answer is always, I like to help those with less obvious issues. I can see a broken leg and fix it with a plaster cast, I cant fix schizophrenia with a plaster cast. People then appear to understand. But they don’t.

As that statement is only partly true.

The real reason I studied mental health nursing is I wanted to support those in the mental health system, as I am in the mental health system too. I chose mental health nursing because I can relate, I know (to a degree) how some people feel when they say certain things, I can see there struggle and understand.

I suffer with an anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and been told, but not formally diagnoses, that I am on the autistic spectrum. And I am currently in what I like to call a “anxiety blip”. I’m trying to sell my house and recently started a new job and the combo has thrown me.

I don’t do change well.

Change to me is horrendously anxiety producing; its totally confusing to my mind and not my regular comforting safe place I have built to support me.

 

There are multiple schools of thought on how to face/challenge anxiety, some will work for you some wont. And you need to find what does and these techniques help.

The challenge….

When I feel anxious or concerned for some reason or no reason at times, I want to challenge it.

I tell myself  “right miss, pull up your sleeves and take it on like its the biggest bully in the school and you’re about to whoop its arse!”

It says “no you cant go Asda today it’s to anxiety provoking” I say “pfft, i’m going” and yes I feel like utter poo and most definitely look it and might need a buddy to come with me at first but I will challenge you.

It cripples me with fear at times with the thought of going into the kitchen to prepare food and eat it, I question why, there appears to be no reason so I challenge it.

However,

The acceptance….

The best way I have come to understand me is I’ve accepted me.

I accept some days will be worse than others, I accepts that my brain doesn’t appear to understand somethings other people do, I’ve come to accept that there will be days where I need more support than normal to challenge it and I don’t feel bad about myself for that.

And for me this works.

I don’t eat….

When I am anxious I don’t eat and I barely drink. Now as a nurse and a general human being I understand the risk of not eating and drinking but at times the logical person inside is over ruled by the anxiety. I can go for hours and at time days without eating a proper meal when I am unwell.

And I see this also in the people I support; its as if there is a unseen barrier just stopping you from getting up and making food.

It is understood that those suffering with mental health problems are at higher risk of neglecting there physical health. And at times I can see why. If you cant make food you will just eat whats available or easy to obtain.

And I don’t know of any take-away salad bars yet, do you?

Fortunately, so far I am aware of my mental health declining and I can prepare. I can prepare food which is re-heatable, easily obtainable and no hassle to make.

Fridge lasagna….

Last week knowing I wasn’t feeling to well I decided to make gluten free vegan fridge lasagna. Now normally I would make it gluten free and vegetarian but I have been trying veganism since before Christmas and its been going okish so I made this one vegan.

Fridge lasagna was an idea I came up with few years back to use all the left over stuff in my fridge, never 2 are to alike and there bloody yummy! I make them quite regularly so I know even when i’m not feeling 100% I can knock one out quickly and it will last for a few days so I haven’t got to worry about making food each day.

For the one I made last week I used Asda’s free from lasagna sheets and free from white lasagna sauce, Violife vegan cheese, some pasata and tomarto puree from Aldi and fridge stuff. Which included a courgette, half an aubergine, a onion, half a tin of chickpeas, a tin of mixed beans, some baby corn and a few frozen spouts left over from Christmas.

I cook the vegetables for a bit first before mixing them with the pasata, tomarto puree and seasoning then start to layer. Asda’s free from lasagna sheets do not need to be cooked first so you can just start to build on the veggie mix. Vegetables, pasta then white sauce and repeat till you’ve filled your tray. Then I topped it off with Violife vegan cheese, which initially smell a little funny have to admit and alone didn’t taste the best, but I am new to the vegan cheese market, once I grated it on top and it tasted perfectly fine with the lasagna.

I made quiet a big one but it will last a couple of days if you keep it in the fridge. To re-heat I placed some on a microwaveable plate and heated for 4 mins test then a further few minuets depending on your microwave. Make sure it is piping hot before eating.

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Vegan curry….

Once again trying to stick to my vegan diet I tried free from korma from Asda. It was just the sauce so I added some mushrooms. Now I was feeling a bit better that day hence the effort to make and cook fresh mushrooms but you can buy lots of different types of vegetable that are frozen or pre-cooked just needing a ping in the microwave. And I always have frozen veggies in my freezer as an essential item.

I peeled and chopped my mushrooms, yes I peel mushrooms, and cooked them in the tiniest amount of Pure soya spread, then added them to the korma sauce, cooked until hot then poured over some rice. I used boil in a bag rice that day, however, the day after I used a 2 minuet rice bag in the microwave as the effort of cooking was not in me that day even if it was just watching a pot and re-heated the korma in the microwave too.

Microwavable rice is always a good store cupboard essential. It can be used for many dishes and there is no effort to it.

Asda’s free from korma sauce was delicious, however, on cooking it seemed a little watery and lacking in thickness. I like my curries thick and fully of flavour. Now the Asda korma wasn’t lacking in flavour one bit but it was in texture. So I added a smidgen of flour paste (a tea spoon of free from flour and water mix into a paste) and some Alpro single cream. Oh boy was it tasty! thick and tasty!

4 ingredients a little bit of effort and you have a super tasty meal for 2 days.

 

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The taste of gluten free Italy….

Now I haven’t made this recently or vegan yet but It is one of my quick and easy meals where I don’t have to think I can just cook.

It’s a gluten free lactose free carbonara. Its made using Quorn bacon strips or as we call them facon, free from pasta, Arla lactofree soft cheese and whatever you wish. Maybe mushrooms or sweetcorn or I like avocado.

Its simple to make and super tasty.

Boil the pasta, whilst that’s cooking spray a tiny bit of cooking spray onto a frying pan and cook the facon, which takes a minuet or so each side. Chop up the facon, once the pastas cooked, drain and add the facon and a scoop of cheese, season and cook until the cheese has turned into a sauce like consistency and is hot of course. Now I add the avocado right at the last minuet as I like the mix of hot pasta and cold avocado but If you were adding vegetable you would need to cook them first then add when you add the facon.

And that’s it. 2 pans about 10 minuets and one big old bowl of loveliness. And I will definitely be trying this very soon vegan style!

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I hope me sharing my story has aloud you a peep inside the mind of someone with a mental health issue and that it shows you that the minimalist of tasks others take for granted can be the greatest of achievement for many people. Mental health is not embarrassing and should not be shamed. If you need to talk to someone please do.

Here are some numbers and website you can find help, support or just someone to talk to:

 

Stay strong, if you cant be safe….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness = cake

Hope….

As a mental health nurse I find myself supporting people at their lowest point; people who are so unwell the simplest of tasks are so great they almost seem unachievable, people who can be so depressed that they feel there is no hope that there is no happiness. People who the smallest of interactions from yourself can be the brightest part of their day and as a nurse I find I’m not always their nicest of interactions they can have that day as medication is part of my job role and not always favoured by everyone.

I once asked some of my service users what they think I do, as a nurse, I was told your the medication lady, your always in the clinic running about doing stuff, your always writing notes in that office. So I wanted to be more than that, more than the “medication lady” or the “always writing notes” lady; I want to be the cake lady!

So I made it my mission to get out of my office, get from behind my medication trolley and interact, interact and share what makes me happy in hope It can bring happiness to others.

So I bake, I bake with the service users and for the service users and the staff who work so tirelessly and I’d like to think it brings happiness to some, even those who at this time feel very little happiness.

The recipe….

When I’m cooking I find lots of different ingredients and fussing about are not always necessary, especially when cooking with others particularly those with cognitive impairments, sometimes simple is the best. So I tent to stick to one basic sponge cake recipe and work from that.

Me mam’s recipe….

  • 4oz Stork or dairy free spread, I like to use Vitalite sunflower spread
  • 4oz Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs or Egg replacement
  • 4oz Gluten free self raising flour, I’m a bit of a flour tramp I just buy the cheapest or which ones on offer!
  • And a drop of vanilla essence

Mix the butter and sugar first, whisk until creamy, add and 1 egg or 1 egg replacement and half the flour, whisk, then add the other egg or egg replacement and the rest of the flour continue whisking adding the vanilla essence until light and yummy looking.

Bake on the middle shelf at 180 C/160 C fan for 15-20 minuets depending on how big you’ve made them and take out once a little colour comes on the top but still spongy.

And that’s it. 5 ingredients one squishy sponge cake.

I use this recipe for both my cupcakes and larger cakes however, due to the gluten free flour not being as bindey as wheat flour the texture can be a bit crumbly so its not always best for making cakes that will be require to hold weight of larger decorations.

Change it up….

I love cake! I could eat it forever and I love almost all cakes, except the classic victoria sponge; I find it so boring and at times very dry (not mine obviously, mines moisty goodness). So I like to experiment with the basic sponge recipe and there is so much out there to experiment with, different filling inside, different butter creams outside and multiple choices of toppings.

But be aware! Not all yummy things that look good are good. I  unfortunately made a whoopsy when I made a surprise rainbow sprinkle cake for a friend.

Suprise, suprise….

A friend and I were wandering around a supermarket when she spotted a rainbow sponge cake covered in hundreds and thousands; it looked amazing! Obviously I couldn’t have it as it wasn’t gluten free or dairy free, so I thought I would surprise her and make her the cake (but gluten free and dairy free so I could munch it too!).

So using my mam’s sponge recipe I went ahead and baked this 5 tier rainbow sprinkle cake. Dying each sponge a different colour;  I cant remember unfortunately which gel dyes I used for the sponge but they didn’t make me unwell so winner!

I used eggs for this recipe as I didn’t have and egg replacement in at the time, I used Asda’s free from self raising flour and Vitalite sunflower spread in the sponge. For the buttercream filling I used Vitalie spread, icing sugar, vanilla essence and Alpro single cream which makes all the difference. The cream adds a smooth rich flavour to the buttercream.  I tend not to measure buttercream I just wing it, but I suggest you start with the icing sugar adding a small amount of butter, cream and essence then mix and add more if needs be or more icing sugar if required.

Once stacked I spread more buttercream on the outside and then covered it in sprinkles! Hundreds and thousands of multi colours rainbow magic sprinkles. And that’s when I realised the issue. I didn’t check the ingredients on the sprinkles. I presumed (silly me!) that they were just sugar and colouring, wrong.

The contained wheat. And I had literally covered the entire cake in them.

Well it’s a good job this friend has family and work friends because I couldn’t help her with the cake, such a sad cake day for me. My friend was so happy though an her work friends!

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The packet stuff….

I was recently in Hobbycraft when I stumbled across Sugar and Crumbs flavoured butter creams. Initially I thought there no point in looking I have no chance, but to my surprise I did have a chance. There buttercreams are gluten free, nut free and suitable for vegans! And come in some of the most delicious flavours ever including bubblegum, banana split, cheery bakewell, pineapple, pink lemonade the list just keeps going….

It was like being in Willy Wonka’s sweet factory and I could eat everything!

So after many many minuets had passed I finally decided on bubblegum as its been a firm favourite flavour with me forever.

It was really easy to make all you need is butter or butter replacement and some milk or milk replacement, mix up your desired amount and that’s it. Beautiful super flavoured allergy free buttercream. The bubblegum buttercream was white, now i’m unsure if all there flavoured buttercreams are white but it was very easy to colour. I used a small amount of pink gel dye so it looked uber bubblegummy. The sponge was my mam’s recipe, plain as the flavour of the buttercream was very strong and needed no accompaniment.

I will most defiantly be using their buttercream’s again especially as both Hobbycraft and their website have offers on them at the moment, so grab a bag or 6!

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Eating out….

I don’t just let my cake consumption be limited to home or work I like to taste the cakes others can make too whilst I’m out and about. And my favourite cake shop at the moment is Teacup Kitchen in Manchester.

I was introduced to Teacup kitchen by a friend who raved about there cakes and told me about a flourless brownie which is unbelievable, so I had to go. And I’ve been back a thousand times since and actually make trips into Manchester just for this cake and now have everyone else I know hooked on their cakes too and the staff now recognise me!

The Teacup Kitchen I regularly visit is in Manchester northern quarter but I have been told there is also a cafe inside Manchester museum which I has more options than the northern quarter cafe, so is a must visit for me very soon. Museums plus cake, winner!

Teacup Kitchen make cakes for everyone, people with no allergies, gluten free cakes and vegan cakes so no matter what issues or intolerance you have you can sit down or take away a cake of your choosing.

Although I am lactose intolerant and currently still on my vegan diet, so sadly no Teacup Kitchen cake at the moment for me, I do get a little naughty and will buy they flourless brownie which isn’t dairy free, but totally worth it. It is the heaviest cake I think I have ever picked up and when I buy 4 or 5 its an exercise in itself to carry them, so the calories I put on eating it are almost free! I have been told that the cakes are quiet expensive, I normally buy 4 and the bill is just under £20 which I am totally willing to pay as there are worth every penny. Their flourless brownie is a stodgy gooey chocolatey triangle of amazingness and I could probably/ have eaten more than my weight in those cakes and will continue as soon as my body shapes up and lets me eat a little dairy again. Defiantly a stop when in Manchester, oh and the staff are delightful too!

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I know many would say that food can’t bring you happiness, but I think that’s wrong. I think food can bring happiness, whether it the taste that reminds you of happier times or that smell that makes you smile, food is an emotion inducer and I can’t see why that’s a bad thing.

I say eat cake and be happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BIG day….

Today is (was) the day….

Ho, Ho, Ho and a MERRY CHRISTMAS! It is the day of feasts a plenty and oh boy was I looking forward to it. I have never been one to shy away from a good meal or two and especially at Christmas. I do love a good roast dinner. However, this year I did not cook the meal as we had been invited to a family members home for the feast, even better!

At times I can be very apprehensive about letting others cook for me and it’s not because I think they might add something I cant eat or I wont like the food they have made. But because I feel a burden and that the effort that needs to be made at times to feed me can be stress inducing for some. So I tend to cook for myself, but that can be seen as rude and that’s definitely not what I want to be known for. Those who don’t have allergies or intolerances may not be as aware the subtle extras that food companies like to put in foods, like a sneaky bit of barley here and there or a egg or two. So making a whole Christmas dinner with all the trimmings can be a mind field!

There has been some prep going on beforehand for the meal as my host wanted to make sure my meal was a delicious as everybody else’s; and why wouldn’t it be. Just because your gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean boring and I think many people forget that. They did not fail, they cooked up one scrummy Christmas dinner; it was absolutely beautiful! A perfect Christmas dinner, even if I did manage to forget the stuffing and Yorkshire pud’s for mine but they were not needed anyways.

The nibbles….

Normally for my Christmas dinner I make the main dinner and a pudding, that’s it. Appetizers and starters are a forgotten element in my house, so to be greeted with gluten free vegan appetizers was brilliant! Normally I would be able to tolerate some dairy (very little) but unfortunately I have been unwell over the Christmas period so are needing to go full vegan for a while. So to be able to sit down and eat a snack which wont make me unwell or spoil the rest of the dinner is lovely and super thoughtful.

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Little stars of cucumber with tomato’s and dill, perfect little snippets of things to come. However, I was unsure about the dill as I can be a bit dodgy with certain herbs so I didn’t eat the dill but It didn’t need it anyways it was yum. My lovely hosts had also provided nibbles to snack on and had brought me some pea snacks from Aldi. I’m not a huge crisp fan, have to be in the mood for them however the pea snacks from Aldi are really tasty and full of flavours, they come in several flavours and are gluten free and suitable for vegetarians. I had a check of the ingredients but couldn’t find any non-vegan bits but they are only labelled as vegetarian.

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If like me you have more of a sweet tooth than a savoury one, Beech’s fine chocolates  are gluten free and vegan. Normally people would think chocolate comes after the main meal, pfft! I like chocolate before, during, after, in the cinema, in the bath on a Tuesday…. so to find a chocolate that’s is so beautiful and it wont make me unwell is delightful. On Christmas day I cracked open there luxury dark chocolate brazil nuts and hesitantly handed them out. But most refused saying they didn’t like dark chocolate as its to bitter, and I would agree. Most dark chocolates I have tried are bitter, not Beech’s. There chocolate is a beautiful balance of the bitterness of dark chocolate with a underlying creaminess which is even better when you remember the creaminess is vegan. They have flavoured chocolate also including ginger and lime and chilli, which I can not wait to try (and not share!).

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To start….

When you think starters you think 1970 prawn cocktail with marie sauce or melon balls right? Wrong. Try marinated cucumbers with red peppers on a pillow of baby lettuce leaves. A vegan heaven!  I have never had marinated cucumber before but would gladly have it again and again. The texture was exactly how you would expect marinated cucumber to be, a moist and refreshing feeling teemed with the very subtle flavour from the marinate. Now I couldn’t tell you what marinade it was exactly as I forgot to ask (sorry), however the oil that was used for most of the vegetables, seasonings and possibly the cucumber starter is a Greek extra virgin olive oil (I’m unsure of the name but I do have a picture below). It is such a beautiful tasting oil, not to strong and not flavourless. Now you don’t have to go to Greece just for this oil, although what a good excuse! You can purchase it in the UK from Marks and Spencer,at £10 for 500mls.

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The main….

I have been vegetarian since I was a young girl so I never really miss the turkey aspect of a Christmas dinner and I’ve never tried pigs in blankets so a meatless feast is a norm for me. However, a vegan Christmas dinner is new, add in the nearly new gluten free element and my Christmas dinner this year was a whole new tradition I’ve started and may continue due to my hosts absolutely tasty meal.

What do “normal” folks have for there Christmas dinner? Turkey, goose fat potatoes, buttery vegetables, stuffing and Yorkshire puddings with lashing and lashing of gravy. All full of meat, dairy and or gluten. So I can imaging my hosts thought process when they realized all the usual suspects are out of the window for this girls Christmas dinner. Hence the prep and me brining the added extras, well I was suppose to have but forgot most of them!

The table was lay and the feast was spread and it was gorgeous; veggies galore, hot crispy potatoes and trimming everywhere. And what did I have….

….everything everyone else did.

My hosts had made the same vegetables choices for me without butter, they had made there roast potatoes goose fat free and used the Greek olive oil instead and to replace the pigs in blankets, roasted beetroot. They had also made home made cranberry sauce with port. Now port is a tricky drink as some ports are not considered vegan due to the fining process but don’t panic there is vegan alcohol out there. To me there is nothing more pleasurable than sitting down to a meal and sharing food with your loved ones knowing you are eating the same and you will not be unwell from it.

And the main event, quinoa, lentil, vegetable and pomegranate stuffed peppers, OMG!

The mix of the textures with the softness of the lentils against the sharp crunch from the pomegranate was amazing. They had made 3 full peppers for me plus all the extras, I managed 1 pepper, a bucket of gravy and everything else, but I took them home and re-heated them for dinner the following day and they were still as tasty. Now I was a bit naughty and had the smallest bit of Greek feta on top, bit of a mistake as my belly noticed it, however it would have been just as perfect without.

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The finally….

I generally didn’t think after all that food I could fit anything else in food wise, but like most of us on Christmas I found room. The others had handmade trifle, a firm favourite of mine, but I could not eat this one as it was traditionally made. However, Marks and Spencer’s have a absolutely gorgeous gluten free vegetarian trifle but unfortunately not vegan. But me being me I forgot to buy one, however being unwell it would have been a no go anyways. So I have a free from chocolate brownie Christmas pudding from Tesco, which again very nicely made for me as I was on nights until Christmas day. This pudding was lovely! It has icing and sprinkles; a bonus as most of the sprinkles I have found contain wheat and cakes just don’t seem the same sprinkle free. So it was a sprinkle treat!

Tesco-Free-From-Chocolate-Brownie-Christmas-Pudding-KitWell…. what can I say in regards to Christmas but thank you.

Thank you to all of you for spreading the word that gluten free and vegan does not mean boring and drab and that we don’t avoid for attention. Thank you for all the companies who have realised that they need to provide for those with allergies and intolerance and are now making free from foods of many varieties and especially

Thank you to my family for putting up with me and my “nope cant have that” statements and to my hosts for putting a spectacular Christmas feast!

Now….what to eat for new year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yule tide greetings y’all

 

HO HO HO Merry Christmas!

And what rhymes with Christmas….food. Yep food defiantly rhymes with Christmas.

Now the holidays can be beautiful and fun, full of parties, family meals and lounging around in your pj’s eating snacks and watching TV but for those of us who cant always join in the same foodie fun as everyone else it can be a little lonely and annoying at times.

I have many a year under my belt as a lactose intolerant vegetarian but this will be my 2nd years as a gluten free lactose intolerant vegetarian, and its not started to well as I’m currently mid way through a bout of unease after managing to eat something my body does not like and wouldn’t you know it I’m also on nights, winner.  But the flame of festivities has not gone out in this girlie, oh no I am ready to feast!

The Parties….

Now I don’t know about you guys but when it comes to parties and party food unless I am throwing the party the food at them is normally a no go. However, this year for the first time I attended a big party at Manchester Central ran by Festive & fabulous and was eating whilst there. So with it being a big event we chose our meals before hand, they asked if I could email them all my dietary needs so they could accommodate. And they did, and it was ok.

For starter I had tomato soup, now everyone else had pasta in there soup and bread to accompany it. Unfortunately there was no bread for myself to have like others did or pasta and the portion was small but the soup was nice. Next I had grilled aubergine with other roasted vegetables with a tomato sauce topped with crispy shredded carrots, it was beautiful! Couldn’t fault the main at all, perfect. And for pudding fruit. Nothing more nothing less just fruit. Now I love fruit, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful but when you sit next to 9 other people eating chocolate tarts with cream or a cheese board with crackers and you have a bit of pineapple, some melon and a slice of orange you kinda feel a bit cheated. But hey ho the party continued and sorry no photos, bad blogger Katie bad blogger!

Would I recommend their services for your Christmas party next year, yes I would. I had no issues the following days from there meal plan so I would recommend.

The build up….

Christmas isn’t just about the main day and its meal its about the build up as well. And there is nothing better than Christmas shopping! The hustle and bustle of folks running up the isle for the last bag of sprouts or buying a years worth of socks for everyone. But if you are like me and my friends we like to spread it out, several days shopping throughout the month. So I need to keep my energy levels up whilst out as you never know when you’ll have to run for the last lynx body spray set!

And I have found a beauty to help me with this, Love Corn.  Love Corn are flavoured corn kernel which are gluten free and vegan as well as GM free and Kosher. They come in 3 flavours sea salt, BBQ and habanero and are packed to the rim with those flavours. I chose the BBQ flavour as most of the time BBQ isn’t gluten free or vegetarian so it was a delightful change. And I wasn’t disappointed, initially I though I would just have a few whilst wandering around but once I opened them they were addictive!

These little kernels are packed with flavour, there not hard like some kernels you find in popcorn, there a reasonable price and come in a resealable pouch so perfect for chucking in your bag whilst on a retail therapy mission.

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The big day….

This year I am working nights over the Christmas period, so when I was told Christmas day meal was at a family members this year I was delighted because after a 12 hour night shift you’d be laughing to think I could cook anything more than a pot noodle!

However, the planning started a few weeks back ready for the day. Now I don’t know exactly what I am having but I messaged them with all my allergies and intolerances so they knew what they were up against. And what we agreed was they would provide the main meal and I would take all the extra bits and bobs.

I’m not sure how you guys feel but I tend to feel a bit awkward when folks ask me round for a meal because most of the time they won’t realise what is in a lot of foods and that the majority of their food will have to replaced with suitable alternative for me which can be costly and wasteful if they wont eat it again afterwards.  That’s why I will always take the extra bits, for example…

Vitalite dairy free spread is my favourite buttery spread to go with the Warburtons tiger bloomer. This bread not only smells like bread it tastes almost the same, which is lovely as I do miss bread so much so this was a find! Alpro soya milk to add to my brews, Morrisons free from vegetable gravy an essential for any Christmas meal and to finish Alpro dairy free custard, the perfect accompaniment to any pud!

So whether your working, eating or sleeping I hope your Christmas is a fun filled feast of laughter, good food and happiness!

MERRY CHRISTMAS from me and my trust food sniffer Jim x

jim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bigger is not always better!

Back in day….

Not that long ago villages and towns never had these huge supermarket chains that we have now which sell everything under one roof. Then you would have to visit the local greengrocers and bakeries to get your shopping; so why do we think we have to be a “one shop” kinda world why not visit your local markets and small business shop owners.

Now, I cant say I don’t shop in the large supermarkets because I do. One, due to there accessibility as the market doesn’t open at 9 pm and two because some things you just cant get elsewhere. However, I’m obsessed with artisan markets, small business owner shops and any other shops or eateries that are unique. And I ask you to do the same, become obsessed! Because you will love it!

It’s CHRISTMASSSSS!….

And what does Christmas equal, Christmas markets! The jewel of the markets, Christmas markets are always a super favourite of mine. I love Christmas and I love markets so its a win win.

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This years I was invited to the Christmas markets at Chatsworth House in Bakewell. I’ve never been before but was really looking forward to it as the pictures on line looked amazing and ever year the house decorates its beautiful interior differently.

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Now normally I would eat before I leave for a Christmas market, just in case, as there is normally not that much savoury food to eat whilst there for those with allergies, intolerances or specific food choices. However, due to the distance we had to travel I wasn’t able to eat a big meal. So I prepped and took a packed lunch, which fit nicely into my backpack. As it was a market there was no bag check on arrival so no need to worry if my food would be confiscated, plus everyone everywhere was munching on delicious market foods!

On arrival freezing our bottoms off first stop the coffee truck. Oh how I do love a good coffee, but that old sensitivity to caffeine can be an issue on coffee trucks as most of the time its a machine that makes the coffee. So add in the lactose intolerance its normally a no go. However, to my surprise decaff and soya milk available, I was all over that! And it was perfect.

We had a look round half the market before visiting the house before doing the other half of the market and then once round again for good luck!

As expected there was no food at the markets I as a gluten free, lactose intolerant vegetarian could eat but there were several restaurants within Chatsworth House, however I can not comment if they had suitable food as we only popped in one for a drink. They did however have soya milk and decaff teabags.

Good job I packet a lunch!

On our second look round I found a lovely little stall selling condiments. Now I do love a good condiment and my favourite being Branston Pickle. I was initially told I couldn’t have Brandston Pickle due to the barley content, however I’m now learning I can.

Anywho, this stall was selling Blueberry Hill preserves, and these guys had everything you could ever want from chilli pepper chutney to strawberry and black pepper jam and a Yorkshire ploughmans pickle. The man on the stall was full of information on his products and told me that they were all gluten free and my ploughmans pickle was also vegetarian! You know I got one, and to be honest I should have gotten more. It is the most delicious pickle I have ever tasted, my mouth is actually watering as I type thinking about its sharp yet savoury fruity taste. I have had it with cheese, jacket potatoes and just on its own straight from the jar, yum!

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There website is easy to master if you are unable to attend a market they are selling at. I will most definitely be purchasing several of there products from there website and maybe even purchase some for Christmas presents.

The markets….

In my local town we have an artisan market ran by the Makers Market which runs on the second weekend of every month, and if i’m not stuck in work I will attend. If unfortunately I am in work there are several artisan markets around my local area which many of the same stall holders attend.

There are several stalls I will make a bid for when I go to the market, one being Lush Brownies and the other Taylors of Cheshire pie makers. Both produce beautiful gluten free and vegan products.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of Lush brownies brownies as they tend to go straight from stall to mouth, but please believe me when I say they are the nicest brownies EVER! They are chewie squidgy chocolatey squares of yummieness! The lady who makes them offers “normal” brownies in many flavours as well as her gluten free range and her vegan option. Now I have unfortunately not been able to sample here “normal” range or her vegan brownie as they contain gluten. I tend to zone in on her fudge gluten free brownie as it addictive.

But as my mam always said you need food before puddings so pie it is!

Taylors of Cheshire make award winning gluten free pies and cakes, they have a vegan, vegetarian and meat range. I have tried many a pie and cake from Taylors and totally enjoyed every single one. What I love about Taylors pies is that they are freezable and taste the same on unfreezing which is lovely.

There pastry is crumbly but sturdy unlike some gluten free pastry I’ve had which crumbles into a million pieces on first bite. Taylors pies stay in pie shape yet are not tough or dry. And When I say they fill them, oh boy do they fill them!

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Normally when I visit the stall I’ll buy 4 for £10 which I think is a good deal, especially as there freezable, but I’ve normally ran out before the next market.

So pie for dinner and brownie for pudding, Artisan market day is always a winner in my book!

Chatsworth House pictures by Franchesa Gaffey.

Visit your markets, small is also powerful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love is in the air and I want pie!

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A recipe for love….

Take two full time nursing jobs at two different place mix in a house to run, add a little crossfit of an evening with a sprinkle of helping the other half with his business when I can chuck in a heap load of allergies and intolerance place into a big bowl and poof! doesn’t leave much time for date nights.

So when I was told to “dress up were going out” the other week I was happy needless to say. The restaurant of choice The Chime in Hartford, Cheshire. I have driven past this place many a times but never been in and kinda always wanted to.

The history….

Now if you don’t know Hartford its a very small little village in Cheshire there’s not a huge amount of shops or bars but what they do have are lovely. The Chime is no exception to this. The build is connected to the history of Hartford and has the bell for the fire station on the external wall, hence the name The Chime.

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So with all this history floating around outside and the Chimes tasteful modern interior inside, the mix is beautiful chic little restaurant.

Now, word on the street is that The Chime’s menu is suitable for almost everyone, as a few of my friends with and without allergies have been before and have raved about it. So why not give it a go.

The prep….

As the good little food prepper I have become I went onto there website first to see if I can eat here (not like I don’t trust my friends, just to double check!) and I can. There website is very easy to navigate and there menu’s on there are downloadable and very easy to understand.

As The Chime is quite a small building you really do need to reserve a table especially if you are wanting to eat of an evening at the weekend. We kinda left it a little to late and was only able to get a 9pm slot on a Friday, which is a little late for me but hey ho suppose it is a date night.

To reserve you can call or use the website, I chose the website and it was really easy to use and they send you an email to confirm your booking.

The night….

Now when someone says to me dress up I think sequined evening gown and tiara should cover it, but not wanting to embarrassed the other half and slipped into my best jeans and off we popped.

Due to Hartford being a little village there’s no actual parking right next to The Chime but there’s a perfectly good car park just a few seconds walk down the road on the opposite side. Not hundred percent so don’t quote me but I think its a 3 hours max stay, just check on arrival.

On arriving at Chime we were greeted by lovely staff who booked us in, we were a little early so we waited in the bar downstairs and ordered our drinks. The bar downstairs was a little small for my liking, I kinda felt like I was sitting on the knee of the lady behind me and people had to brush past you to get to other areas of the bar. However, the atmosphere was warm, welcoming and beautiful decorated.

We were shown upstairs to the restaurant when our table was ready and once again a beautifully decorated area, with the most adorable dog pictures. However, it was squishy! My other half had to sit next to be rather than in front due to space, as he would have been sat in a lady handbag otherwise.

We were booked in at 9pm and it was still full ish, must be a good sign though I suppose.

We sat down and it’s one menu for all, which I love! There’s nothing worse than being handed a scrubby old folder to look through instead of an actually menu.

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There was a really nice selection for a person with my mix of allergies, intolerance’s and food choices which is so refreshing to see. It was a toss up between the lentil shepherd pie or the mushroom and chestnut risotto……I went for the lentil shepherd pie.

The wait….

We had our drinks, we were sat in a lovely space however we were very hungry. Unfortunately, apart from olives, which I hate, there are no starters for anyone with a gluten allergy. So we just ordered our mains.

Also, once again we cant have any chips. Honestly, these restaurant half know how to annoy a good northern girl, stopping her from her chips addiction!

Now I understand the place was busy and that obviously we would have to wait a bit for food but unfortunate we had to wait almost an hour which we both agreed was a little to long especially as the restaurant only had a small amount of tables to serve.

Anyways, we waited and once our food arrived we tucked in. The wait staff were lovely, me being me had to question a few things and they were right on it asking the chefs and kitchen staff.  My lentil shepherd pie arrived in a lovely little tin with a side of pickled cabbage. That’s where the questions started.

I was told unfortunately I can not have pickled cabbage because its pickled in malt vinegar and its not gluten free, but the chef stated that it was pickled in red wine vinegar and totally suitable. So I dived in. However, on tasting it, to me it seemed like it contained more than just cabbage. I think it had star anise in it which, no surprise, i’m allergic to. But, by that point I was to tired and hungry to go ask the wait staff again to go back and investigate, so I just left it and ate my pie.

I do wish however, that restaurants made people aware of any hidden surprise that might be in food as herbs and spices can be allergies too.

The pie….

I love lentils! Bloody good job to as they feature in most vegan meals 🙂

The pie was a good size, and accompanied by the cabbage made a good sized meal.

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It tasted beautiful, the mix between the warming vegetables and the sweet potato mash was lovely, and if you can add the sharpness of the cabbage it would be a beautiful mixture. I can not tell people how happy I was to look at a menu and not see the gluten free options is halloumi salad or a curry based dish. To sit at a restaurant and have several option all which sound amazing and taste lovely its a winner. Was it worth the wait thought?

Not sure to be honest. Taking in the whole evening, the restaurant itself being somewhat on the squidgy side and the hour long wait when it was not even full kinda puts me of a little. I like to be able to relax and sit comfortably whilst enjoying beautiful food and unfortunately I couldn’t do that to well at The Chime. However, seating aside the food was delicious, beautifully cooked and presented and totally accessible for those with allergies, intolerance and specific food choices. So…..I suppose I probably would go back again and eat there, maybe in the day or of a weekday evening as that mushroom and chestnut risotto is calling my name!

Date night completed ♥