Manchester I love you!!

So this weekend i gt to spend a lovey romantic weekend in Manchester, well less romance and more foodmance!

All I did was eat.

And it was amazing!

When I go into the city I try and find eateries I haven’t tried before, little coffee shops of the main street or restaurants with kooky menus. This time I went looking for Chinese food.

Lots and lots of Chinese food!

If there was a stronger word than love to describe what I feel for Chinese food that’s what I feel for it.

Last week I think I ate Chinese or Chinese inspire food almost each night, if it was noodles and vegetables it was all you can eat buffets.

And my Manchester trip was no different, however didn’t just eat Chinese food (although I totally could do all day!) I ventured away from my love to another love mine pizza, I’m a bit of a food addict.

OH dough!….

So in my search through Manchester looking for new gluten free places to eat that also served a vegan option we stumbled upon Dough.

Dough is a pizza kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The Northern Quarter is my go to food area; its full of dinky little eateries that cater for almost everyone’s needs.

I found out about Dough by Googling gluten free restaurants Manchester and what a good search that was. Dough is super accessible being right in town and its a lovey place. Spacious but not super weird roomy but your not sat on each others knees and there menu is brilliant.

These guys have a brilliant way of showing you what is gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and other options by a colour coded dot system. So all I ha to do is look for the red dot which is gluten free and I’m laughing. The green, blue and yellow dots were vegetarian, vegan or dairy free which is amazing!

After many many minuets deciding on all the option I could do I settled on there gluten free pulled pork pizza with apple ‘slaw. Obvs I couldn’t have the pulled pork so there vegan option was pulled jack fruit, winner!

Oh my batman!

What a mouth delight it was, the base was all floppy but cooked throughout, not floppy like raw. And there apple ‘slaw piled up on top was amazing. I chose the vegan cheese option also and the cheese wasn’t smothered on top like some pizza’s are it was just blobbed which meant when you did hit a bit of cheese it was a taste explosion!

They make everything from scratch which is lovely but when you were as hungry as I was the wait seemed forever. However, cant finish your meal they will plop it in a box for you to take out, hello breakfast!

I will definitely be visiting again as there are far to many option for me not too!

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Why hello my love….

Even thought I was literally 3/4 pizza at dinner come a few hours later I wanted Chinese food. I had been Googling again and found a gluten free Chinese restaurant a stones throw away from Dough in the Northern Quarter, Sweet Mandarin.

I had to go!

From the outside it didn’t look anything super impressive, but I like little place tucked away in corners seeming like there just for a special few.

Tonight Matthew I am that special few.

We entered and were greeted by a lovely lady who’s first worlds were “does anyone require gluten free or vegan menu

If this blog played music It would have a multitude of celebratory songs playing!

Finally a place that see’s me first, not just as my boyfriends annoying side order.

We sat near the window it was quiet which I really liked and on opening the menu was instantly in love a million times over!

there menu was so vast for gluten free and vegan options, now there was 2 menu’s. one gluten free the other vegan, so I had to cross check both to see what I could have. Didn’t mind though I was in my element.

I decided on a gluten free option I found on there vegan menu that wasn’t on the gluten free menu, hot and sticky sweet mandarin Cantonese OK sauce tofu.

I’m not religious but I was about to start praying at this menu. And then I saw them, gluten free vegetarian spring rolls.

3 years.

3 years since I have had spring rolls. I had to have them too. The meal was so fast coming out. Within minuets in was in front of me ready to be demolished. I savoured every bite it was probably one of the tastyist if not the tastiest thing I gave every tried.

It was not super sticky but just enough to coat the tofu adequately and talk about portion control. None of this little bitty meals, nope it was a full dish of the tofu and sauce so much I made 3 plates out of it. The spring rolls were perfect, crispy and full to the brim.

I’m pretty sure I dreamt of this place that night, and every night since. The food was amazing and the owners perfect.

This restaurant is featured in a cook book a friend of mine has been involved with, you guys should check it out, its called “It’s cooking good” and its for the Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Follow the link for more information: https://www.facebook.com/STMPhotoUK/videos/326000838139353/

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Manchester a short but sweet meeting as always ♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click click rather than flick flick?

So, like most people in the world today I head for the internet for recipes rather than picking up a recipe book most of the time.

Its easier to search gluten free lactose free vegetarian whatever recipe than trawling though shops trying to find a suitable recipe book that caters for everything.

Don’t get me wrong I have books, I have bloody hundreds but sometimes its just easier on your phone.

I recently went into The Works, it’s a stationary shop in the UK which sells all sorts of random stuff and they had lots of recipe books from a few pounds, not to bad.

But it got me thinking about a few of my favourite internet recipes. Most, I admit, I’ve adapted to suit my dietary needs. So I accept the internet can be as poo as recipe books from time to time for very food specific recipe ideas; but I still its my go to recipe finder.

So whats been the favs?

Ye olde pudding O’rice….

Who doesn’t love a warm gooey bowl of rice pudding

I know I do!

It’s a perfect go to pudding for this wet drab autumn we’ve started and its so easy to make.

I got my recipe by just Googling “simple rice pudding recipe”. Being the internet you need to search a few sites before finding a suitable one.

Me I prefer a hob cooked rice pudding, I’ve never tried a oven one just because I enjoy making hob top ones.

The recipe I used is from BBC good food. The recipe is simple:

  • 75g pudding rice
  • 375ml skimmed milk
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar

That’s it.

Put it all in a pan, bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 30-40 minuets.

Serve.

How hard is that! I love this recipe! I have made it a trillion times and added stuff and taken things away too.

Its gluten free as there’s no gluten elements in all 3 ingredients and Its easily made vegan by swoping milk for soya milk or other milk replacement.

Some changes I have made is:

  • I’ve adding cinnamon
  • A dash of vanilla essence
  • I always reduce the sugar, I feel half a tablespoon of sugar is plenty
  • I’ve replaced sugar with sugar replacement, like honey or agave nectar
  • I’ve added Sweet Freedom choc shot to make it chocolaty good
  • Just as its near finished add a small dollop of vegan butter to it, oh boy does it make it buttery creamy
  • I’ve made it half milk half Alpro soya cream, tbh I often make it this way its so worth the extra calories

There so many options you can do!

And if you make a big enough batch and don’t eat it all in one sitting, I often do, once cooled you can refrigerated it and its good to go another day; eaten hot or cold.

Please make sure guys that you cool any rice based dishes correctly and if re-heating re-heat thoroughly or you could get sick.

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Sticky not so chicky….

I found this recipe after I fancied sweet and sour sticky something, just not chicken!

There’s hundreds of recipes out there for a whole load of different style Asian sticky food, but they all seem to be meat based.

Ha! like a meat based recipe ever stopped me making it though!

After many years of being allergic to what seems like life, I have become the queen of adaptation.

You say mince I say lentils, you say chicken I say tofu, you say fish I say….broccoli??

I found this recipe for Crispy sesame chicken with a sticky Asian sauce on the Kitchen Sanctuary site, oh my Batman it sounded delicious.

It was the biggest ingredients list I’ve ever used, most of the time I’m a 4 bits recipe kinda girl, this one had 20 ingredients, 20!

To be honest the ingredients, even thought there was 20 they were mostly cupboard items, salt pepper, honey, soya sauce, flour and oil. So not to scary.

I managed to adapt what I needed, swapping the chicken for Cauldrons marinated tofu, I used Asda’s free from flour and Clearspring gluten free soya sauce except for the egg and honey, I used actual egg rather than a vegan egg replacement purely for laziness reasons (sorry vegan friends) but I am looking at trying it again and making it vegan.

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The recipe was surprising easy to follow and to make the shopping aspect easy on the ingredients list on the web page there is little boxes next to the ingredient and when clicked it lines them so you know what you have gotten. Sweet.

The tofu worked surprising well taste wise, except it was fiddly as anything to do! You have to dip your chosen “meat” aka tofu into the corn flour, then the egg then the salt, paprika, flour and garlic salt mix before placing in the oil. Sounds easy right?

Wrong, the tofu is all of 2cm long and once covered in egg and powder a fiddly nightmare to handle and messy! And soooooo time consuming, but I managed and it was worth the 300 finger washes!

The taste was amazing! The crispiness from the tofu mixed with the sweetness from the sauce was beautiful.

It was so nice I had it 3 days in a row!

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1 step, 2 step, cake cake cake….

Yes another pudding but I have one mighty sweet tooth.

A 2 ingredient chocolate cake, found by a family member who wanted to try it so we did, its from the Tasty site. It’s certainly not vegan but is gluten free. Not sure if you can make this one vegan but I shall give it ago one day.

  • Ingredient 1- Eggs
  • Ingredient 2- Chocolate

Viola! The ingredients list.

It the simplest yet scummiest recipe for chocolate cake. All you do is melt the chocolate, separate the eggs and add the yellow to the melted chocolate, whisk the whites till its soft peaks then fold that into the mix and bake.

I though it would be a bit yuk if i’m honest, but it was so tasty. You could never guess it only had 2 ingredient in it. And so easy to make.

Unfortunately I feel I may have gobbled it before taking a photo, sorry guys, but trust me it looked and tasted amazing. But here’s a picture of my dog instead, he love my baking!

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 Go for forth and finger swipe your way to tasty things!

 

 

 

Woo hoo hooray its a Disney kinda day….

So I have returned to my motherland, back to Disneyland Paris.

It was super fun as usual and this time I planned ahead making sure I was well equipped, food wise, for my visit.

After last times bloody horrible encounter with their gluten free, vegan and apparently flavor free Natama menu I couldn’t take any risk. So I took a big old suitcase filled with handy snacks and meals to keep me going.

The finds….

Last year I took snacks this year I went shopping for meals. I knew I could find little nibbles and things to throw in my bag but I couldn’t just survive on biscuits and crisps.  I needed to find meals that didn’t need to be cooked or kept in a fridge and could survive the baggage handlers!

Sandwiches were out, so was microwave meals and I wasn’t sure about pre cooked pasta being outside a fridge for 4 days and I had to be able to carry it around in my cute little Disney bags too. Also I have a weird anxiety about leaving food in my room when cleaners come in, I don’t want random folks fondling my fruits so I have to have sealed units so I know no one has been messing with with my food.

I started looking months before if I’m honest because the thought of not eating properly for 4 days like last time gave me so much anxiety I started prepping early.

And I stumbled on a little beauty, chow mein rice noodle pots from Asda 

I think I have tried an Asda free from pot rice noodle snack before but not the chow mein ones, chow mein is such a tasty flavour and I was happy to see them in the free from section.

It ticked all the boxes, gluten free, vegan, sealed unit, no cooking, easy to travel with and compact enough to put in a bag.

Perfect.

I gave it a trial run at home before I brought some for the trip and it was lovely, I actually had it with some Cauldron tofu which made for a lovely tea. The chow mein flavour is really strong but not over powering and the rice noodles soften up lovely.

Sold! I brought 8.

2 for each day we were there just in case. I didn’t want to be hungry again. And at £1 per tub they are a bargain.

If you read the signs at Disneyland Paris it does say that only food purchased in the parks can be eaten there all other food is to be consumed out of the Park area in the Disney Village. However, I just asked the severs for 2 cups of hot water and ate them outside the actual restaurant but still in the parks. There was no way I was going to keep walking back outside every time I needed to eat, pfft yer right!

Oh and pack a plastic fork if your going to take food with you , I couldn’t find a fork anywhere! Good job my friend had me covered on that one.

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I don’t think I could go a day without fruit, I love fruit!

Not all fruit however loves me back, so I went looking for fruit that I could take with me that I knew I would be ok with and would travel well.

Firstly I was going to go for tinned fruit, it can be carried well and stored outside a fridge. Then I thought what about can openers and if I could actually take tins into Disney.

Disneyland Paris have strict bag checks before you go into the Disney village even before the actual Parks. They run your bags through x-ray machines and yourself through the x-ray scanner, just like at the airport. So I was unsure whether I would be aloud to take a tin of fruit into the park and I didn’t want to run that risk.

Once again my local Asda had me covered, I found some Dole mandarins in juice in individual little containers, yay! And again a bargain at £1 per pack.

They met the checks, no metal, easily transferable, vegan and gluten free and don’t need to be kept in a fridge.

I brought 2 packs, each pack contained 4 individual tubs.

They were quite small but perfect just for a fruit hit mid day around the parks.

One thing I have noticed in Disneyland Paris is the lack of fresh food, all the eateries except the buffets, which you can never get into by the way unless you book months in advance, are things like burgers or hotdogs with chips. They do have salad options but there pants! Non of their salads are suitable for a gluten free diet, they have one vegetarian salad but it has croutons and there pre-packed so you cant get them out.

So take your own healthy options!

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I like to think I eat quite healthy but a holiday is a good reason to be a little naughty, right?

There’s nothing I love more than snacking on some wee little vegetarian piggy’s from Marks and Spencer. And I now have my friend hooked on these too!

Mark and Spencer‘s veggie Percy pigs are a lovely little treat perfect for nibbling on around Disney, they are a little pricey at £2.50 for 2 bags but for the size of the bag and the amount you get the cost to portion size seems worth it.

They are gelatine free and gluten free but unfortunately not vegan.

These little piggy’s kept our sweet tooth occupied whilst we queued up for the rides.

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I’m in Hollywood darlings….

From last time I knew that there wasn’t much for a gluten free vegan/vegetarian at Disneyland Paris, however there was a few restaurants in the Disney Village that did offer meals and for good prices.

We knew that Planet Hollywood would be a definite stop for us as their gluten free menu is really good. This year we went twice.

Yes there gluten free menu is good but there isn’t much for vegetarians on it but what they do have is lovely.

I had the veggie burger both nights we visited, just because its so freaking tasty!

And we had their nachos to share one evening, we had one each. Bit of a mistake there as the portions were huge! But I battled through and only left a few stragglers.

The nachos were gluten free and vegetarian but not vegan due to the cheese and sour cream. They were so worth the dairy risk, tangy cheese mixed with the sharpness of the tomato salsa and the crunchy mountain of nachos, yummy!

And less than €10 (£8.90/$11.61), which at Disney is a bargain, and it could feed 3 as a snack or as your main.

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Their veggie burger will always be a winner for me, its such a big burger full of flavour and served with all the trimmings.

Unfortunate it is fried and you can tell, it does have a greasy texture to it but I’m a bit strange and I like that, hence its always my first choice.

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Its nice to know that people with allergies can eat somewhere at Disneyland Paris even if it is the village not the actually park. If you haven’t been the village is a minuet walk for the front of the Disney parks so its no biggy to just wander out there to eat.

Arghh there mateys….

This year we said we were going to go for a sit down meal actually at Disneyland, I did some research before we left to see if any of the restaurants do cater for those with allergies and not just the Natama menu. I found that Captain Jacks restaurant des pirates  had the best gluten free vegetarian options in the park. When we first got there it appeared there was no seats and that they were fully reserved for days, however I managed to charm us a table and it was worth the charming!

The restaurant looks out onto the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and when you go on the ride you can smell the food from the restaurants which is a killer when your hungry.

We sat down in this dark area surrounded by shipwrecks and boat things listening to the water from the ride and the occasional scream just relaxing, it was lovely.

There menu can come as individual dishes or in 3 set menus, going up in price from €39.99 (£35.60/$46.44) to €55.99 (£49.85/$65), pricey.

We decided on just a main as the puddings and starters we wanted were separate across the 3 menus. For us gluten free veggie folk there was a few options including vegetable curry, rice pudding and bananas in rum.

We, I say we as my friend is now meat free too yay!

So we chose the vegetable curry with fried plantain and the captain rice at a steep €30.99 (£27.56/$36.02).

Before the meal they brought out some hot bread, initially thought it was just for my friend as shes not coeliac but they had me some too!

Tiny little warm slices of bread in individual little packets, so freaking cute! And blinking gorgeous.

It curry was tasty, but not €30.99 tasty, the curry was filled with chunky vegetables but had a weird taste to it not a spicy taste just a weird taste every so often. And the Captains special rice was just rice with black beans in it. The fried plantain was the nicest part if in honest and the bread.

Would I go there again, erm…. I don’t know.

The curry wasn’t to good but the bread was lovely and I do want to try there rice pudding, so maybe.

Sorry the photos aren’t to clear it was really dark in there!

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Oh behave….

Oh the naughty things you can find at Disneyland is huge!

Yes there not much healthy stuff but I’m on holiday and what do holidays need…..ice cream!

Tons of ice cream!

And no its not vegan, it would be lovely but I doubt they would ever consider that. They do have some gluten free and vegan cakes but it seems they only offer them at breakfast and only at certain places. But I shall be trying them out next time as I have only just found out about them now. Disneyland Paris doesn’t seem to advertise or even inform customers of their allergies free items and I have spoken to many a staff who don’t appear to know whats in their products there selling which is a little scary.

Anywho back to ice creams, my all time favourite ice cream at Disneyland Paris is the Dole whip.

It is Dole pineapple juice mixed with pineapple syrup and topped up with soft serve ice cream. Hubbahubbahubba!

Soft serve is my favourite type of ice cream anyways mixed with delicious pineapple, erm yes please!

And it’s huge! For the price, think it was about €4.50 ( £4/$5.22) you get so much ice cream. There is only one place to find it and the vendor is near Agrabah cafe just before Adventureland in the Disneyland Park.

If you go to Disneyland Paris its a must!

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Also there this year was the Black Panther ice cream, i’d seen this on the Disneyland Paris Instagram and knew it was a must have.

Its a black coconut flavoured ice cream in a black cone, full on goth ice cream yes!

I knew I couldn’t eat the cone but was hoping the ice cream was ok for me and I could have it in a little tub. We found the vendor in Walt Disney studio park, if you go straight forward around the statue and towards the tram tour its in a tiny little shop on the right, its really hard to notice its not advertised well at all.

Initially I thought I would have to miss out as I couldn’t see and tubs only cones but with some bad French I managed to find out that the vendor did have little tubs so I finally got my goth ice cream, it was lovely!

I’ve had coconut ice cream before, a vegan one, and it tasted weird kinda like it had gone stale so I was a little hesitant to try this but I shouldn’t have been it was lovely and it came with little popping candies on top.

However, be aware folks this ice cream will tint you poops! Goth poops! I presuming its due to the dye they put in it to make it so black, but with all that dye may come some hyperactive adverse effects especially for the little ones too.

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Disneyland Paris had loads of little food stalls this time around and each stall was from a different country or option including a Belgian stand which sold chips with sauces and a vegan stand.

I didn’t try the vegan stand because the portion sixes compared to the prices was rubbish! A tiny salad for €5 (£4.46/$5.81). Also have a walk towards the Ratatouille ride they have so many food stalls filled with treats we may not be able to eat them but the smells are amazing!

I love it….

I love Disney if I could live there I probably would, i’d be a bit hungry though!

This years visit was made so much better by me prepping food and researching out meals and restaurants I can visit it just made the trip less stressful throughout.

I have already started planning my next trip and where and what I can eat then too!

I think I will most definitely not be relaying on Disneyland Paris to feed me just for them to top me up with ice cream and chips!

Just remember “sans gluten” – gluten free in French its a life saver!

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Prices and currency conversions correct at time of writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finds of the week!

So this weeks kinda been a naughty week!

I have been a big ole ball of stress, hormones and anxiety and my diet has paid for it.

I have to keep gluten free I cant afford not be, but I can wave on my lactose intolerance if i’m willing to take the risk of becoming besties with my loo.

This week I took the risk and was actually ok, which was a very pleasant surprise.

However, the naughty treat I have been scoffing all week trying top boost my mood have been a mixture of vegan and vegetarian (all gluten free obvs)

Now, I know better than to supplement my low mood with naughty food but sometimes you just need a bit of sweetness in your life and this week I’ve maxed my sweetness out.

Sweet find number 1….

In prep for my Disneyland Paris hoilday I have been searching the shops for foods that will survive the trip, customs wont nick them and don’t need cooking, hard job!

I have managed to find some bits and bobs but mainly sweetie foods. I will be taking some sweeties with me but to be honest all the ones I have brought to take I’ve already munched down, whoops!

I popped into my local Sainsburys on the hunt, found not much food wise but spotted these white choc coconut clusters.

I’m not much of a white chocolate fan if i’m honest, even vegan white chocolate seems to milky weirdly. But I thought new product worth a try.

They were small so easily nibbled, but by heck were they sickly.

They tasted very milky even tho there is no milk in them and the most prominent flavour and texture was sugar, lots of sugar.

There a small bag but I didn’t manage to finish it, I think if I did I’d probably been unwell.

The taste, even though there were very sugary was pleasant, just not for me really.

Although I think white chocolate fans would love them and at a £1 for the bag its a bit of a bargain!

Free from-  Wheat, gluten, milk

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Taste ♥

Free fromness ♥♥♥  

Cost ♥♥♥

 

Sweet find number 2….

Yesterday I had a really nice breakfast, I thought, vegan cheese on toast with tomato lovely.

However, about 15 minuets later I had the most horrible after taste from the cheese, and it was making me feel really unwell.

You know when you just need something super sweet to counter balance a yuckie taste, well I needed that. I was on route to Chester for some retail therapy and there are no shops between me and Chester apart from a petrol station.

So I popped in hoping to find something to take this taste out of my mouth. There was such a limited selection to choose from and actually after a Google sesh I found only 2 options, sour Chewits or regular Chewits .

According to their website all chewits are gluten free and vegetarian apart from their wands, vampire fangs and laces. Which was a suprise to me and a good one too because I love Chewits!

They are not vegan as they contain egg whites.

Now I am trying my darnedest to say on the vegan diet but this day I needed sweetness over veganess (sorry vegan folks) so I chose the sour Chewits.

They worked perfectly.

They help hide the horribly weird after taste and filled my mouth with sourie goodness.

Chewits, if you haven’t had them are little square sweets that are a hard chewie candy that come in multiply flavours. I grew up with Chewits as a kid and eatting them again made me feel all young inside.

Being sweets they are very high in sugar so a treat not a staple food guys! But totally delighted there gluten free!

Free from- gluten, gelatin

 

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Taste ♥♥♥

Free fromness ♥♥

Cost ♥♥

 

Sweet find number 3….

My friends isn’t vegan or gluten free but has recently given up meat, but being my friend gets dragged around all the free from shops hunting for goodies and has tried many a product.

Whist she was in Holland and Barrett she stumbled on a Vego bar and thought she would try it and a love story began….

She can not get enough of these bars and buys 3 or 4 at a time. Now i’ve been with her buying these and never had one, I’m not sure if the cost put me off at £1.99 per bar which I think is a little steep for a chocolate bar or another reason.

But the other day I gave in and purchased one.

And today I thought i’d try it. It is a hazelnut chocolate bar nothing more nothing less and it simplicity is actually quite nice.

There is a large amount of chocolate crammed into its 65g and feels a lot more than its “mini” status. Apparently they do a 150g bar!!

I find sometimes large amounts of vegan chocolate can make me a little sicky but this was just the perfect amount, with the whole hazelnuts in it, they kind of balanced out the richness of the chocolate without being to dominant.

I still feel £1.99 is to steep for it however, but it was a tasty £1.99 and I probably would buy one may be as a pay day treat but I don’t think it would be my go to chocolate bar at that cost.

Free from – dairy, gluten, palm oil

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Taste ♥♥♥

Free fromness ♥♥♥

Cost ♥

 

The good-♥♥♥

The bad-♥♥

The ugly-♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why hello again….

So another season has started and another trip upto Scotland was taken. I just love Scotland, the hills, the rolling countryside, the gluten free potato fritters!

This time around I decided to try a few more place to eat rather than my normal haunts, I did go back to some I enjoyed last time with differing results.

I have to admit, for smaller towns in the middle of nowhere at times the Scottish folk half cater for gluten free vegans/vegetarians and its so appreciated!

The first stop….

Where we go in Scotland is just over the border near Dalbeattie at Barend Holiday village, it takes us about 3 and a half hours or so to get there, so not to far really. However, this time I took the mini pooch so it was a little longer in the car.

Anywho, on our arrival we decided as a family to not cook and go the restaurant at the holiday site.

Now, I have been here before and ate here before and it was lovely. The issue was I had hot cheese and it killed me off for the entire holiday so I was umming and arring whether I should eat there with everyone else or just do my normal routine of sitting and staring at their food like a hungry puppy.

I decided to eat.

And i’m so glad I did! I chose their only gluten free vegan option which was the veggie sizzler. A steaming sizzling hot plate rammed full of veggies served with a choice of chips, rice or half and half. I chose the half and half because cant resist a chip and rice combo!

I was kind of expecting from a veggie sizzler just the normal “boring” veggies; a few lonely carrots sat next to a mini broccoli tree or two.

But I was so pleasantly suprised.

The meal contained courgettes, onions, mushrooms, carrots (obvs) and a sneak surprise of some pineapple all smothered in sweet chilli sauce. I have to admit however, for me there was a little to much sauce it was less smothered and more drowning, but still tasted amazing. For the cost to size ratio it was so worth the money, I think it was around £10ish.

It was that nice I had it twice in one week!

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Poffertjes for days….

Castle Douglas is a little town in Scotland, its small it kind of looks like the 70’s came and stopped there (I love it for that reason!) but it has some varied eateries. From a Greek restaurant, to little coffee shops to Mr Pooks; which ive never tried but really want to.

But the gem in the crown is Double Dutch pancake kitchen.

From the outside and inside this place doesn’t look to appealing (sorry) but by heck do they make some nice pancakes and poffertjes.

What initially drew me in was the sign on the door which stated “gluten free and vegan options available” any time I see a sign like that my allergy radar goes bonkers and I need to go in.

The magical thing about this place was on our first visit the owner was in the restaurant play a flute, to himself no customers in there just him and his wife.

I asked, as you do, a million and one questions about their menu and finally settled on poffertjes. Which are little dutch pancakes. And at Double Dutch you get 21 of these bad boys with ice cream and toppings for £3!

We ended up buys 2 sets of gluten free poffertjes with vegan Swedish Glace ice cream (my favourite ice cream ever!) one day and the next we went in and had pancakes. And the restaurant is dog friendly so we could all enjoy.

This place is so nice and the owners are lovely, if your in Castle Douglas please pop in and try there desserts it will be so worth it!

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Another restaurant in Castle Douglas is Nikos’ Greek restaurant. We have been here before in June but only for take out, not a sit down meal.

So this time around we wanted to have a sit down meal, date night.

The menu was no different from June so we were expecting the same food. When we previously came it was lovely, Greek kebabs full of bulging veggies and meat for the meat folks.

This time it was not so impressive.

Don’t get me wrong the food tasted lovely, I had Imam which is half an aubergine filled with tomatoes, onions, mild chillies and feta served with chips.

And of course a side of  tyri saganaki (pan fried halloumi), yes my lactose intolerance was totally ignored for this evening.

What the issues was this visit was the portion size to cost factor. My half an aubergine, 3 slices of halloumi, some chips my boyfriends 1 chicken kebab, yes 1 strip of chicken on some lettuce and a coke came to £45! Now I don’t mind paying for good food and this food tasted good, but for what we received size wise it seem far to much.

I would say visit Nikos’ its beautiful food, but maybe stick to the take menu.

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By the sea at night….

One evening we decided to go to Kippford, just down the road from Dalbeattie where we were staying to a hotel/restaurant The Mariner.

Now if you haven’t been to Kippford you must, there’s not much there but to walk along side the sea and the boats of an evening, is so peaceful.

The Mariner is a hotel just as you get in to the main port road, its a big old place and its dog friendly. We went a couple of times, as the food was really nice.

They had a few option for gluten free, vegan and vegetarians and what they did offer seemed lovely. I decided on the vegetable tagine as it seem chock packed full with all my favourites.

It was full of flavour, a tangy spicy flavour with warmth burn not a spicy hot. It was served with chips or a jacket potato and vegetables. To me it seemed weird to have veggies with it, rice would have been a better option but still really tasty.

Once again size to cost was good, I think this was around the £10 mark also.

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Well Scotland this trip you most definitely gave me a taste from around the world, so thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adoro il cibo Italiano!

That statement could not be truer.

And if you can’t read Italian or Google translate isn’t that good it says I love Italian food!

There so many options on the Italian menu and almost all can be made gluten free and or vegan.

In a week Italian style meals or element make up almost all of my diet. From full Italian meal to touches added to other style meals.

For me Italian meals are like hugs from inside your belly; making you all warm and snuggly and in this lovely wet and cold end of August were having a big ole belly of warm pasta baked in rich tomartoee sauce is just perfect.

I’ve never been Italy but would love too but I do go to as many Italian restaurants I can or I make my own. There lots of different options in the supermarkets: fresh, frozen, jarred, homemade style and everything else.

I thought I’d share a few of my favourite homemade meals, ingredients I use and restaurants I have stumbled across.

 

The basics….

First thing when I think Italian food I think pasta.

Big bowls of steaming hot squidgy pasta.

Now I know it is meant to be served not so squidgy and Italians around the world will be cursing me but I hate al dente pasta. Squidgy for the win!

I’ve tried all the dry pastas from the major supermarkets here in the UK and there’s not much difference to be honest. They all have similar flavours and texture. I do prefer brown pasta over the white but I can’t always find it.

I have tried the spaghetti, tagliatelle, penne, fusilli, ravioli, cannelloni and tortelli all are lovely additions to any Italian dish. The filled pasta’s tends to be branded names rather that supermarkets own but supermarkets do have some and are slowly bringing in more. Unfortunately the all seem to contain meat or dairy so are normally off my radar.

The Classic….

You think Italian as a British person what do you think

Spaghetti bolognaise.

That luscious bowl of tangley pasta covered in a warming tomato sauce with or without a meaty option added, with it all just waiting to be flicked into your mouth, up your nose, in your eye and basically anywhere above your boobs!

It’s a British/Italian household classic and why shouldn’t it be. We are a multi-cultural land and so should our pallet.

I love spaghetti bolognaise but as of yet I haven’t not found a gluten free vegetarian option in a restaurant. I’ve seen gluten free but they contain meat. So I make my own or a adaptation of the classic.

I tend to make my own sauces, one because it easy and two because I know what I’m putting in it then. I always start with tomato passata; add some tomato puree and seasoning lots and lots of seasoning. I use any old passata and puree normally the cheapest I can find and it always tastes good. Then I add my browned off onions and garlic mixture to it, done.

For the main fluff normally you would add minced meat, yuk!

I have added a multitude of items in the past; all give it a different taste and texture. These have included Quorn mince, chickpeas, butter beans, baked beans, and variety of veggies depending what’s in my fridge or cupboard and the best ingredient puy lentils.

Puy lentils have been send here by the whoever the heck sends us good food! They are so versatile; they make a brilliant base for most meals and work perfectly in Italian dishes.

I’ve only found one type of pre-cooked puy by Merchant. These can be a little costly I think ranging from £2 to £3 per packet depending where you buy them from. However, if you shop savvy like me when you see them on offer you snap up a ton of them! The other week Asda had them in for 75p so I brought about 6 packets!

If lots of veggies or Quorn is not up your street, get yourself to a Ikea for some allemansrätten. These guys have made the most delicious veggie balls I have ever tasted.

And there small so you can fit millions on your plate!

They come in a big bag so there’s plenty to keep you going and at less than £5 for the big bag a bit of a bargain.

Now there isn’t any information on the bag saying they are gluten free but I checked all the ingredients and they are all safe for consumption so I presume they cannot guarantee no cross contamination. Their website says they do not contain gluten, soy, nut, egg or lactose but still no gluten free classification. I have been eating these for a few weeks now however, and are symptom free. But just be careful.

 

The creamy goodness….

Another firm favourite of mine is carbonara.

I love stodgy food and I find carbonara really stodgy and its beautiful. Now I’m not sure if it is meant to be stodge but that’s how I make it.

I use Alpro soya cream as a base and add my brown onions and garlic mix and season very well. To the sauce I also add cooked mushrooms and cooked Quorn facon which I cut into strips. Plopped on top of my chosen pasta a quick and totally delish meal. For an extra creamy mixture you can add in some soft cheese or your soft cheese equivalent, but this is a super cream fully of flavour calorie fest.

 

Dinner for two….

Nothing beats food you don’t have to cook yourself. I love dining out as you know and I’ve found that Italian restaurants are a brilliant source of gluten free and/or vegan meals. I have tried many if not all of the big brand restaurants in the UK and all provide gluten free meals but I’ve not tried all the options available. There not all totally gluten free many are non- gluten containing meals which can cause issues for some and those restaurants I’ve visited that cannot provide totally gluten free do state that before I’ve ordered.

Two of my go to restaurants that I know I can walk in and get food are Frankie and Benny’s and Pizza Express.

Frankie and Benny has recently re-vamped their menus and now provide a larger gluten free menu consisting of pasta, pizza, burgers, starters and desserts. The one thing these guys don’t do gluten free is chips.

My staple food source!

However, there menu is so full you don’t really need them.

I chose to go Frankie and Benny’s for my birthday this year after staring at the menu for several hours it seemed I settled on their gluten free vegan fusilli arrabita.

It’s a spicy tomato based dish, which was really nice. Spicy yes but not knock your socks off spicy just a little warmth.

I’ve chosen this dish a few times now as it’s lovely, however each time I’ve had it I just feel there’s something missing. It’s definitely not the flavour or size but there’s just something it needs to make it 10/10. I think it’s because it’s just one flavour. The flavour is good but there’s no dips in and out of different flavours, so after a while it’s just one note.

Maybe I do need them chips!

Pizza Express is another good and safe restaurant for gluten free meals.

And if your with O² you can often get vouchers for meals including £5 mains! Winner!

Normally I will have the dough balls for starters and a pizza for main. There are several different choices of topping you can have all served on a gluten free base.

Pizza bases lack in stability for me, one restaurant you go and their bases are crispy and doughy another you go and it’s like eating cardboard. Pizza Express bases are lovely. Doughy but not soggy and no cardboard in sight.

These guys also do vegan cheese!

And at Christmas they do there dough balls but with a festive twist, they add cinnamon and icing sugar with a warm sweet dip on the side, Christmas cannot come soon enough for my mouth with this restaurant.

If your eating in, home baking or treating yourself to a night out Italian is always a good choice.

Buon Appetito!

Homemade ready meal chocolate balls of goodness!

Although I love eating out and trying new foods I don’t think there’s nothing more satisfying than making, baking and eating something you have made yourself.

And for us who are allergic to life basically, home made can be tailored into whatever you require, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and everything else.

However, making food from scratch can be time consuming and sometimes an effort we just don’t have. I’m not one of those day dream folk who is all smiles and sunshine regarding homemade cooking. Trust me I am fully in touch with the reality of life, I work 13 hour shifts in a psychiatric hospital, i’m currently in the process off selling and buying a new home, plus crossfit and trying to see family and friends in between you really think I have time each day to home cook

ermmmmmm, nope.

So what I like to do is when I am off and have some free time is to cook meals that I can re-heat or eat cold and add fresh ingredients to them each day.

If I do have time to make home made food I will have a ready meal, not often but they are handy to have in just in case. I don’t think there is any shame about eating quick meals as long as you don’t go stupid and live on them. They tend to be full of preservatives and high in salt and/or fat, so they are not always the best for you.

But in reality at times accessibility and time can beat home cooked food.

Now i’m not the best cook, I am a better baker I would say, but i’m a trier and at times its an epic fail other times I stumble onto a little legend! I thought I would share a few recipes of my home cooked meals and a few quick meals I have stumbled upon.

Gluten free, vegetarian mushroom pie

I have tried this recipe before but not gluten free or as vegan as possible. I have said it is vegetarian not vegan as the gluten free puff pastry doesn’t state vegan and I can only says a product is definitely something if the package states so.

So, for this pie I used as many vegan items as possible and I start with the filling.

For this pie filling I softened up some onions and leaks. I have found a really good range from Morrisons, its there wonky range. Its all the veggies and fruits that normally would be thrown away just because they don’t “fit in” with the other veggies. Its so sad to think good food is being wasted just because there not classed as perfect.

I used a little blob of Pure soya spread,  2 of their wonky red onions for this pie filling and 1 huge ass leak which I got from Morrisons too.  Let them soften up before adding Alpro soya cream, 2 garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste. I used 1 bottle of cream as I was making a big pie, but you won’t need a hole bottle if your doing a smaller pie.

Whilst the onions and leaks were cooking off in another pan I was heating up the Quorn chicken pieces. The Quorn range is brilliant, but for most of their products its a choice between vegan or gluten free, I have to choose gluten free as I have an allergy to gluten and am just intolerant to lactose. I heat the Quorn with a little 1 cal spray and wait till they brown off then add them to the pan with the onions, leak and cream filling mixture.

I cook the mixture for a short while afterwards tasting regularly and adding seasoning if required.

Once cooked I placed into a backing pan/tray, its about 2″ deep and about 10″ long. the mixture I made almost filled the dish to the top, normally I wouldn’t make so much but I was prepping for my 2 weeks of night shifts so this pie would last me quite a few nights.

To top the pie I use Asda’s free from puff pastry. To be honest I would have normally used the Jus-rol gluten free puff pastry as I find its a better quality of pastry to use. Asda’s wasn’t to bad but I didn’t puff up as much as the Jus-rol one but it was as tasty.

I pre-heat my oven and put the pie in at 190°c. I am terrible at timing and often just guess what time to leave it in for. For this pie I waited until the top was golden brown and the contents are bubbling hot, it was in around 30 minuets.

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(Sorry for the rubbish pictures, I have a new phone which is a bit poo for close up shots!)

Sainsbury’s Free from butternut squash risotto ready meal

This was a great find I got from Sainsbury’s a few weeks ago. I was looking at their free from chilled section and noticed this, their free from butternut squash risotto. Both gluten free and vegan.

Normally I wouldn’t look at the ready meals as I don’t often eat them but this caught my eye.

I love butternut squash, its so versatile and bloody tasty! So to find it in a risotto which I also adore was brilliant.

It was not to expensive at £3.00 and totally worth it. As it is a ready meal it was easy to cook, pop in the microwave and in a few minuets ping! sorted.

Like all ready meals it looked a bit thrown together in the tray it came in, but to be honest a risotto kinda looks like that anyways. I had mine with a huge handful of rocket on the side. I didn’t feel like it needed anything else.  The texture was claggy/thick in the mouth but I love that texture so to me it was lovely, but others may not find it to attractive.

It tasted so good, full of flavour and really filling for a little meal.

On checking the ingredients and nutritional information it was as expected from ready meals, quite high fat content and salt. I also noted it had 6 grams of sugar in it, which I think comes from the grape juice concentrate and possibly the coconut ingredients.

For a quick meal that is not frequently used as a regular meal its lovely tasting for a OK price.

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Chocolate cake balls

These balls were not meant to be balls they were meant to be cupcakes but failed miserably. I was asked to make cakes for a family member who’s work colleague is in our cool group. A gluten and lactose free member and wanted chocolate cake.

I have made chocolate cakes a million times but I normally use eggs or the oil/water/baking powered combo. Unfortunately I had forgotten the gluten free baking powder so I though I would just make them without it.

Oh what a mistake.

The recipe was as always, 4oz caster sugar, 4oz soya spread and mix until fluffy. Then add your 2 eggs or 2 egg replacement mixture and 4oz gluten free self raising flour, a few table spoons of cacao powder and some vanilla essence and mix.

For the egg replacement I use 1.5 table spoons of oil, 1.5 table spoons of water and half a teaspoon of gluten free baking powder. Be careful however, if you are making a cake that requires more than 1 egg you might want to swap this mixture for another egg replacement mixture as it could get to oily.

Once cooked the cakes had sunken so badly they weren’t cakes any longer. So to save my facon I made them into cake balls. I placed all the “cakes” into a bowl and crumbled them. Once crumbled a added 1 large table spoon of chocolate butter cream and mixed into a sticky but solid(ish) mixture. I then made them into balls and placed in the freezer for several minuets, once hard I covered them in chocolate. As they were meant to be cupcakes I hadn’t got any cooking chocolate for melting so I melted the Tesco free from giant chocolate buttons I had got for the decorations. I dipped them in to the melted chocolate and placed them in the fridge till hard. I finished them off with a drizzle of Sweet freedom liquid drizzle, perfect.

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Just because time is limited doesn’t mean your cant eat tasty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finds of the week!

So this weeks been a busy week for me I’ve had work as usual and house shopping but I’ve also had my other half’s 30th birthday, woo hoo!

But in between the normal hustle and bustle and partying like a 80 year old (we went bingo for his birthday!) I have found my top gluten free/vegan/vegitrian finds of the week!

Find number 1….

Its coming to that time of year again we me and my buds head off across the sea to Disney for several days of fun filled happiness. Unlike last year where it was a bit of a food disaster, where all I manage to eat was chips and some bloody yuckie pasta thing whch cost €10. This year I am planning ahead. I was thinking what can a girl take that doesn’t need a fridge, doesn’t require cooking or heating up and can be thrown into a suitcase?

Pot noodle.

But I cant eat them as there full of wheat.

I have seen some gluten free noodles in pots around the supermarkets and I have tried a few. They just weren’t that good. Bland taste and hard noodles. However, I spotted a gluten free chow mein pot noodle type thing in my local Asda the other day and thought I would try it as I need to find suitable suitcase food.

Oh my Batman!

It is gorgeous! So full of flavour, soft noodles and currently only £1!

It is so easy to make, you just add the powered flavour top up with hot water and pop the lid back on, stir and voila!

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Asdas Free from Chow mein rice noodle pot

Taste- ♥♥♥♥♥

Free fromness- ♥♥♥♥♥

Cost- ♥♥♥♥♥

 

Find number 2….

I love dips! Any dips, creamy ones, spicy ones my favourite being the ones with 4 sections! The problem is dips hate me!

All that dairy and other stuff they put into them to make them taste so good.

I have had tzatiki many times both store bought and homemade, but all with dairy.

Violife are a brand I often use, one because there products are totally safe for me and two because everything is so tasty. And they have triumphed again with this little naughty, there 100% vegan and gluten free tzatziki flavoured spread.

Initially I thought it was going to be a bit rubbery as it looked a it like that but I think it is just the way its packed in there. But once out of the package its so creamy and full of flavour.

I have had this spread on everything from Genius crumpits, Schär crackers and even on a baked potato (which i’m currently eating!) its so versatile.

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Violife tzatziki spread

Taste- ♥♥♥♥♥

Free fromness- ♥♥♥♥♥

Cost- ♥♥♥

Find number 3…

I find snacking hard. Not actually eating it but finding something suitable to snack on, not biscuits or naughty food but healthy good snack.

Although I’m trying my darnedest to stay on my vegan diet I do love my Quorn. Now Quorn do a vegan range, yay, but there vegan range contains wheat, boo! So I end up choosing; gluten free wins everytime.

However, the good folks at Quorn have made a gluten free vegan chicken free slice an it its lovely!

I love snacking on slices, its just easy yet tasty food and so much better for me than a snickers or 6!

These slices are a little slimy in texture, which I prefer to the normal gluten free chicken slices as they can be a little dry at times so the slimyer texture is a win for me. There really tasty, couldn’t tell you if they taste like chicken before you ask as I can not remember what that tastes like but these a yum!

If for snacking purposes i eat them alone, just straight out of the packet. However, you can add them to lots of thing, on top of a nice Genius bagel, sliced into a nice pasta dish or chopped up onto a pizza!

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Quorn vegan gluten free chicken free slices

Taste- ♥♥♥♥♥

Free fromness- ♥♥♥♥♥

Cost- ♥♥♥♥

(depending if there on offer!) 

Make sure when looking for tasty find you shop around, don’t just settled for the first you see.

There is a bargain munchie around each corner!

So you think bread hates you…..

I don’t know how many people say to me “oh when I eat bread it kills me off the next day you know” but never consider they might have a gluten allergies or intolerance they just keep plodding on pooping their life away thinking nothing else of it.

Well stop guys you don’t need to become best friends with your toilet every time you fancy a sandwich!

However, diagnosis of an allergy, intolerance or auto-immune disease isn’t always that easy.

The symptoms….

Everyone poops. And everyone poops different.

And us British folk don’t talk enough poop.

I can not encourage people enough to look down their loo’s once they have gone, i’m a poop monitoring ambassador. I know it might feel weird but your poop tells you a lot about what is going on inside you.

If your not in the healthcare circle you might not have hear of the Bristol stool chart. The Bristol stool chart is exactly that; a chart of stools.

Image result for bristol stool chart

It is a really good way to describe your poop to the doctor if you have any concerns. Now for many the “normal” should be 3/4 but for those of you with diagnosed allergies 2 or even 6’s maybe the norm.

Pooping is not the only symptoms that come along with a gluten allergy.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pains
  • Headaches
  • Feeling tired
  • Skin problems
  • Changes in mood
  • Iron deficiency anemia (that’s how I found out!)
  • Anxiety and brain fog
  • Joint pains

Unfortunately the other week, when It was my birthday weekend, I went out for a meal and I think they may have given me a non-gluten free meal and I have had lots of horrible symptoms since including the brain fog and anxiety, which has caused the vicious circle of anxiety to re-trigger.

People just think that when you have a allergy if you do eat something you shouldn’t you’ll have one of two reactions, you’ll stop breathing and swell up like a giant balloon or you’ll poop forever!

They never associate allergies with mental health.

These symptoms may or may not be associated with a gluten allergy and any new symptoms should always be assessed by a medical professional.

These guys will (hopefully, and I say hopefully because I still haven’t’ a formal diagnosis of Celiac’s I just “might” have it 3 years later on) send you for some tests and assessments to see if there is an issue there.

The tests….

The first assessment they will  send you for should be a routine blood test.

This test should be all inclusive including:

  • FBC – full blood count
  • LFT – Liver function test
  • GFR – Kidney function
  • U&E’s – Kidney functio
  • Full iron screen
  • TTA – Celiac screen

This test will give your doctor a insight into your innie bits and show any abnormalities. Now the TTA screen for celiacs can be a bit dodge apparently and you can get false readings.

If there is a abnormal test result, or even if there isn’t, but your doctor would like to investigate further they normally suggest a Gastroscopy.

A gastroscopy is a small flexible tube that goes down your oesophagus (throat) into your stomach and has a look around and sometimes takes small biopsy’s of your stomach for testing.

Now I have to be honest, I had this test a few years back and I asked other’s who had it what it was like. I got mixed answers from those guys, for me it was one of the most traumatic experiences I have ever experienced.

I think it depends on you as a person though.

I have a big anxiety about not being able to breathe, so having a tube down my throat wasn’t the greatest and unfortunately due to my agitation I was restrained by the staff to remove the tube before a biopsy could be taken. That’s why I have no formal diagnosis.

If you think you have a gluten allergy please have this test, don’t be like me a panic. Relax, take the sedative they offer and get your diagnosis.

I have been advised to take it again and not to take it, but if I did want it I would have to go back on gluten for a few months to have a positive reaction to it, which sounds great!

All the sandwich I can eat, soggy toast and cakes!

But after this last week where I’ve felt like my insides were so swollen I couldn’t breathe and the raging fires of hell had made base camp in my bowels don’t think I could willing eat gluten just for a diagnosis.

The diagnosis….

I have no formal diagnosis. Yet i’m no longer anaemic, I have started making blood again and I feel like i’m alive and have my life back.

I asked my haematologist that if I was formally diagnosed with Celiac’s what would I need to do differently from what i’m doing now. The answer was

Nothing.

So why a diagnosis?

Those that suffer from any gluten allergy, sensitivity or intolerance will have chronic issues that are caused by their consumption of gluten but may not be permanently damaging their bodies.

However, those with Celiac disease if untreated are more likely to get bowel cancer, they can not absorb nutrients properly and there bones are also effected so are more prone to fractures as it is a auto-immune disease rather than an allergie.

Its a minefield out there….

Allergy. intolerance. Sensitivity. Auto-immune disease.

It can be so confusing and frustrating trying to find out which one is you, if any.

First thing is to speak to your GP or doctor. Please don’t just google stuff or you will end up with a diagnosis of Batman knows what!

Speak to a professional, take your Bristol stool chart so you know exactly whats going on down there. Explain everything to them.

Don’t be embarrassed. We all poop!

Discussing and describing it is nothing to be ashamed by.

Ask for tests and assessments.

Don’t be fobbed of with “oh its’s just IBS”.

Aye it might be, but please don’t just take that as the first answer.

And embrace your diagnosis, don’t see it as a problem. It’s what your are, and there nowt wrong with that.

And be a poop monitoring ambassador!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip Hip Hooray its my birthday day!

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to ….

Well guys its happened, this gluten free, lactose intolerant basically vegan but still says vegetarian is at the top of 30 mountain looking at the downward slope to 40 town and i’m ok(ish) about it.

I say ok(ish) because for me birthdays are a a bit of a guilty feeling day; especially if I celebrate them. My mam passed away from COPD in April 2008 and I find birthdays partially hard to celebrate as I feel guilty for enjoying a day that without my mam squeezing me out it wouldn’t be actually be celebration day.

Combine that with the effort of finding a restaurant or party buffet planning or just food in general to cater for all my needs it can be a bit of a mental health nightmare.

Just what a girl wants on her birthday: guilt, anxiety and hunger pains!

This year was different however,

This year my delightful boyfriend planned a training course weekend doing something I love, vinyl car wrapping at Hexis training centre!

Now what has this got to do with food you ask? Well the actual course itself, nothing. But I still needed to eat and it is my birthday which means one thing CAKE!

Cake, cake and more bloody cake….

Now like any good girlfriend I did some subtle hinting to the man about my birthday and what I wanted, cake. I wanted cake.

I try normally to keep “treats” to a minimum as I see no point in working my ass off at Crossfit to the fill it back up with rubbish. However, I do have them. As there appears to be no benefit to my mental health by stopping them all together, I’ve tried stopping altogether and it made me sad. I enjoy food and i’m not afraid to say that, even the naughty stuff. So a little bit now and then does do wonders for the soul.

And this birthday my soul wanted chocolate cake.

I did hint/told him I wanted the free from Carl the caterpillar cake from Tesco as every vegan loves nomming on a naughty little caterpillar on her birthday.

Instead, I got the most delicious free from chocolate cake from Sainsburys,  oh my Batman it was good!

My boyfriend surprised me with it at dinner break on day 1 of the course, hes such a good one as he did it quietly so no one noticed as he knows I hate attention especially on my birthday.

The cake was a beautiful chocolatey circle of frosting with a rectangle of chocolate just plopped on top which got demolished about 2 seconds out of the box!

It said serves 10, so I offered it out to my fellow car vinyl folks, nope no takers oh well more for me!

No joke when I say it was 9 pieces to me 1 to my boyfriend, I did say I like cake! Obviously the 9 was not consumed in 1 day, it took like 2 ish maybe.

This cake covers everything, wheat free, gluten free, nut free and milk free! Winner!

The cake was really tasty, it had that classic chocolate taste to it, chocolate and nothing else. No fancy flavour combos or random textures just a classic chocolate cake. However, like a lot a store brought cakes it was a little dry. Now I don’t know if its a certain ingredient they need to put into the cake to preserve it so its shelf life is longer or just because its probably sat on a shelf longer than a home made cake would but that’s what I have found with a lot of store brought cakes, even gluten filled ones. This cake however had plenty of chocolate frosting so the dryness was easily managed by scooping some of the cream up too. My suggestion to Sainsburys and all major stores add more frosting! you can not go wrong with a bigger frosting to cake ratio! Well I cant anyways.

Unfortunately, this cake isn’t vegan as they have added egg into the ingredients. But for the effort he (his mum) put in to finding me a cake that’s not going to make me sick or bloat or worse mid-course I can not thank them enough.

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Oh and not like I would suggest this but this cake managed to travel there and back to Litchfield in a car in this beautiful hot weather were having, a day in my bag in a lunch box and a day at work in my bag all un-refrigerated and still tasted as good as it did on the first day!

Tonight we dine….

Seeing as we were out of town having a birthday training weekend we decided to go out for tea. One of my favourite big chain restaurants is Frankie and Benny’s. I find my anxiety reduces surrounding food when I know there are certain big chain restaurants around, because the hunt for food is only minuets away.

Since for yonks I have loved this place, unfortunate the love was slightly shattered when I was told I was gluten intolerant as their garlic bread was to die for and now I cant have it.

However, these guys have quite a nice gluten free range and have a gluten free vegan option too which isn’t just a salad! And pudding’s!

I don’t know about you guys but I find starters a nightmare! No one seems to do a good gluten free vegan starter. Except, olives which unfortunately I hate. However, what I have started doing is having a side dish for a starter. This time I choose the tried and trusted corn on the cob!

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As I am still trying my darnedest to stay on a vegan diet, so for my mains I opted for their vegan Arrabita, which is pasta with red peppers, red onion, green chillies (which i’m currently obsessed with thanks too Nikos) in a spicy tomato and garlic sauce.

Well, it was nice. Super nice.

I have to admit normally when i’m having pasta with a tomato based sauce in need cheese on top, but this dish didn’t require that. It was really tasty and tbh I think cheese would have spoilt it (never thought I would say cheese could spoil anything!). Now a good crusty bread smothered in butter to accompany it would have been perfect. Good portion size too.

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Now for the puds! These guys had quiet a few tasty looking puddings and I’d have probably had several if I hadn’t already demolished 3/4 of a chocolate cake during the day and half of them aren’t vegan. But up to my old tricks again I asked if I could swap a few ingredients around to make them vegan, no problems.

I decided on the peaches and cream sundae, but swapped the vanilla ice cream for the lemon sorbet. I really like sorbet and I like lemon desserts but I’m not 100% sure on lemon sorbet. I’m not sure if it was the mixture between the peaches and lemon or just the lemon but it was a little bit to much for me. The shortbread which was hidden throughout though was lovely. It’s probably not a flavour combo i’d mix again and I can imagine the peaches with ice cream being really nice, maybe the restaurants will start serving vegan ice cream as an option soon, hint hint!

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The morning after….

Breakfast makes me anxious! For me its the worse meal of the day to fine whilst out. For some reason people freak when thinking of breakfast options, why? There is lots out there just look and you will find.

For our break we stayed at The Cathedral Hotel in Litchfiled. I booked through an internet site, so once it was confirmed I called and informed them of my allergies as breakfast was included. The morning of breakfast we wondered down to the dining room and set out was a continental breakfast spread. It looked ok actually, not the best I’ve seen but ok. Unfortunately there was only fruit available for me on this spread, which looked a bit dry so I opted out. We sat down and was asked what we would like of the cooked breakfast items. I explained I had called ahead and she stated that they were prepared for me and offered me the vegetarian breakfast, which included eggs, hash browns and veggie sausages.  I love hash browns, there a all time favourite of mine. But I know there normally chucked into a fryer which has had Batman knows what in in and is hella cross contaminated! But I asked if i could have any of those items and was informed I couldn’t. The lady serving us was so nice and hospitable, she explained that I could have the beans, tomato and mushrooms and they have some gluten free bread in for toast if I wanted that. So I ended up with 2 slices of dry toast as they didn’t have vegan spread, and this….

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Yep, half a tomato, 2 and a half mushrooms, about 2 spoons of beans. Wow.

Luckily the lady was nice and brought me some more mushrooms out, not many probably another 3 though. So I tucked in and tbh what was there was nice, it was just so unimpressive compared to what my boyfriend had which was the whole shebang.

People! If you are offering gluten free or vegan meals make them appealing! If you cant find all the ingredients to match an “normal” meal at least make it big enough to enjoy. A bloody gnome would have been hungry still after this portion!

Hooray? Yay or nay…

Yay.

It was a lovely birthday spent with minimal anxiety and guilt, my favourite human consuming my weight in cake and pasta, watching films in a heatwave wave and qualifying as a Hexis trained vinyl wrapper. Perfect.