If I had a pound for every time I’ve shouted obscenities at misleading ingredients labels I’d have quite a lot of extra cash in my bank account!

I’ve been obsessed with ingredients labels since first cutting out refined sugars and processed carbs back in 2007. Like many, my major dietary changes came off the back of a medical diagnosis. In my case it was polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS as it’s widely known). I was told at the time that I would not be able to conceive without fertility treatment, but changing what I ate led to three healthy, uncomplicated, natural pregnancies. Take a peek here and here for more details, and why I’m comfortable calling myself a member of the sugar police.

Had I not been so hell bent on turning my health around, perhaps I would never have wandered down the path I did when it came to food. I don’t see it as a bad thing though, quite the opposite. Eating this way before embarking on motherhood meant that I was more than confident when it came to feeding my family. Nowadays eating consciously and healthfully is not even something that takes up my head space, it’s second nature. Which is why I was so keen to join the Organix team, as a no junk blogger.

ingredients labels

Learning the hard way that I couldn’t trust the headlines with ingredients labels

When Polly (almost nine) was two and a half she was diagnosed with a long list of allergies, and I had to learn another language. Her worst offender was corn, especially corn syrup and we discovered that manufacturers use corn derived ingredients in many processed foods (often as a sweetener). I was shocked to find out that there are almost one hundred corn derived ingredients, which are given weird and wonderful names.

I’ve seen baked goods in the supermarket contain five different types of corn sugar. FIVE! It’s bonkers, and really sneaky. What this meant for us back then was that we had to be super careful about giving Polly any food that I hadn’t made myself.

I’m all for from-scratch home cooking, but lets be honest, us parents need our cheats. Especially for hangry toddlers. It became quickly apparent that there were a very small number of trustworthy snack brands that I could count on. Everything else had to be avoided at all costs, because it always contained corn derived ingredients. We even had to send her to birthday parties with a packed lunch, which was heartbreaking every time.

Thankfully Polly doesn’t suffer nearly as much these days, but she is still sensitive to certain foods (yes I’m still looking at you corn). The thing I love about Organix packaging is every ingredient is clearly labelled, along with the percentage of the ingredient it contains. You couldn’t get more transparency if you wanted it.

Ingredients labels

A few pointers when it comes to ingredients labels

First and foremost, don’t trust slogans such as “no sugar” or “natural”. These are marketing gimmicks, and reading the full label, especially for children’s food is essential.  

If it sounds as if it was made in a science lab, it more than likely was. Natural ingredients rarely have long, complicated and unpronounceable names.

Don’t be intimidated by ingredients labels, feel empowered by them. This is a great step to taking control of your eating.   

Always go for the products with the fewest ingredients on the label. Less is definitely more in this instance.

Organic food is kinder to the planet and our bodies, but I’m sure you know that already.

Proud to be an Organix No Junk Blogger  

Organix is increasingly concerned about the quality and quantity of unnecessary ingredients in some baby finger foods and toddler snacks, and thinks the massive explosion in the number of snacks available has come at a nutritional cost, as standards have slipped.

Therefore it’s launching a nationwide junk busting campaign, to investigate what’s hiding in some baby and toddler snack foods. Organix is working with Cherry Healey from the BBC show Inside the Factory, who is joining the Junk busting mission to investigate baby finger foods and toddler snacks.

Take a look at this short video clip for more tips from Cherry

**this is a sponsored post, for my full disclosure policy please click here**

**this blog for paleo chocolate sponge cake has been written by my 8yo daughter Polly**

Hi it’s Polly here. I haven’t written a blog in a while so I thought I should. I love baking and this is probably the best chocolate cake that you could ever possibly make, but you probably know that from looking at the title.  

I started my cooking journey when I was about 2 years old and used to sit on the kitchen side mixing a few things in a bowl. I remember that it made me so happy. I started properly cooking alone when I was 7 years old.

Recently I went though my mums old cooking journal that she wrote before we went Paleo, and changed the recipes to make them Paleo friendly. For example, instead of gluteny flour I used almond flour, instead of normal sugar I used coconut sugar or honey.

This is how I invented my winning chocolate cake, which is the nicest cake I’ve made so far. I’ve made it for a few people’s birthdays, and even my really fussy friends ate it and loved it.

😀

Ingredients for Paleo Chocolate Sponge Cake:

paleo chocolate sponge cake1 cup Ground almonds (But if they are fine then 1/2 a cup)
1/3 cup Coconut Sugar
1/4 cup Cacao
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 Tea spoon Bicarb
1/4 Tea spoon Vanilla powder (If using Vanilla Extract you will need 1 Tea spoon)
3 eggs

For Butter cream

100g Raw Butter
2 heaped spoons of Cacao
1 heaped spoon of Honey
1/2 Tea spoon Vanilla (If using Vanilla Extract you will need 1 Tea spoon)

Method for Cake:

– Preheat your oven to 170c

– Grease your tin 

– Mix Together Ground almonds, Coconut sugar, Cacao, Vanilla and Bicarb

– In another bowl Whisk together your eggs and Oil

– Put in tin

– Bake for 15-20 Min’s

Method for icing: 

– Soften your butter (But don’t leave it so long it melts)

– When it is soft add your honey

– Then add your Cacao

– Put into a piping bag and pipe on top and in the middle if you want 

Me and my mummy making Paleo Chocolate Sponge Cake

Click here for more blogs by Polly

Show stopping dessert: paleo caramel slice. This pudding is free from all grains including gluten, as well as refined sugar

I absolutely adore creating decadent show stopping desserts, and they don’t get much better than my paleo caramel slice. With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what will get cooked on the big day. Here’s another suggestion for you to add to the memory bank, or Pinterest board.

You might be wondering what separates my puds from the millions of others on the web? The short answer is that mine are usually healthier. Like for like, they will almost always contain less sugar than other similar recipes you’ll come across. This includes natural sugars, because as I’ve mentioned before, natural sugar is still sugar. Sweeteners derived from fruit, honey or maple are better for you overall, providing they are pure. Let’s face it though, most people are addicted to sweet things. I believe, along with many experts, that the only way to truly get a grip is by having a lot LOT less.

This paleo caramel slice is not meant for everyday elevenses. It’s supposed to be a once in a special occasion show stopping dessert. For entertaining and celebrations – I’ve had excellent feedback from everyone who has tried it. What more could a wannabee chef ask for?

Ingredients for 10 slices

(base) 200g ground almonds
50g coconut flour
60ml coconut oil and extra for greasing the dish
tsp vanilla
(caramel) 150g butter
150g coconut palm sugar
(chocolate topping) 100g cacao butter
20g cacao powder

Method
– grease your dish with coconut oil and preheat the oven to 170C

– make the base by combining all the base ingredients together and rolling into a ball

– place the ball inside the dish and flatten out with your hands, once flat use a fork to prick the dough all over, then bake for 15 minutes

– after your base is cooked, and while it is cooling, make your caramel by heating the butter and coconut sugar over a med heat, stirring occasionally

paleo caramel slice– once the ingredients have melted, remove from the heat and whip it hard with a hand whisk to bring it together. After about fifteen seconds you will start to see luscious caramel forming before your eyes. I use salted raw butter, but you could use unsalted and add a pinch of sea salt, or leave it without salt. Goats butter also works well

– as soon as the caramel is ready, pour evenly over the base. If you are short on time you could place the dish into the freezer for ten minutes to cool, otherwise allow to cool down on the kitchen side. It’s vital that you place it on to a completely flat surface otherwise it will set wonky and ruin the aesthetics

– once cool, make your chocolate topping by melting the cacao butter and cacao powder in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted pour on top of the caramel, or use a piping bag to create funky patters like Polly did here, then leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve 

Non-Alcoholic Paleo Christmas Cake

I’ve once again teamed up with a fabulous bunch of free from bloggers, to bring you a wonderful selection of free from Christmas food this year. Please check out the links at the bottom of this post for more details. 

My family has been eating the paleo way for almost six years now. We aren’t perfect eaters, and subscribe to the 80/20 principle, which gives our life a healthy balance. By and large however, this means that we do not eat any grains (of which gluten is just one, but the most publicised one), or refined sugar. We do eat a little dairy in the way of raw milk, cheese, and home fermented goat milk yoghurt and sour cream, but steer clear as best we can of commercial dairy.

Between eating like this, and my recent leap into teetotalism, I wanted to create a non-alcoholic paleo Christmas cake. One that we could all enjoy and doesn’t have the excess sugar, unnecessary ingredients and alcohol you would usually find in a traditional version.

Sugar is sugar people!

Unrefined or not, dried fruit is exceptionally sweet, and the icing alone on most Christmas cakes (especially shop bought) amounts to diabetes on a plate. Apart from anything else, my Hubby is not a fan at all, so I had to put my thinking cap on, and get creative. 

non-alcoholic paleo christmas cakeDid you know that the purpose of soaking the dried fruit (and nuts if you’re using them like I am) in alcohol is to make them super moist? Feeding the cake with booze is partly for preservation purposes, but also for flavour. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tea which has been brewed and cooled down works just as well to soak the fruit and nuts overnight. Not using booze also means that you don’t have to make the cake too far in advance, and can leave it until the week of Christmas. Also it’s best to use organic dried fruit, because it will be sulphite free which is always a good thing! 

I have used Earl Grey tea, because it gives the cake and wonderful smell and flavour. For some reason, bergamot reminds of the beach, and elicits happy memories of far flung holidays and adventures. Not exactly Christmassy, but it makes me smile so I’ll call that a win.   

If you really want a boozey cake, then you can substitute the tea for alcohol of your choice, make it a month in advance and feed with 1-2 tablespoons each week. 

Non-Alcoholic Paleo Christmas Cake that is free from all Grains (including Gluten), Dairy and Refined Sugar

Ingredients for a very large cake, approx 20 servings  
250g grated carrot
200g chopped dried dates
200g sultanas 
200g cashew nuts
100g chopped dried apricots
100g ground nuts (almonds or pecans work great)
non-alcoholic paleo christmas cake100g coconut flour
120ml coconut oil
250ml cool brewed Earl Grey tea
4 large free range eggs
tbsp vanilla

Method
– Get a large bowl and add the dried fruit, cashews and carrot
– Give it a good mix, then pour over the cold tea 
– Cover the bowl and leave the mixture to soak overnight
– In the morning preheat your oven to 150C and prepare a large cake tin by greasing it well and lining with baking paper
– When you’re ready to start cooking add the ground nuts and coconut flour to your bowl of soaked loveliness  
– Give it a big mix
– In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla and coconut oil together
– Pour the wet mixture all over the bowl of other ingredients and give it a good stir
– Pour the batter into your tin and brush with a tbsp of coconut oil 
– Bake for an hour, ensuring that the cake is completely covered in baking paper
– Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely
– Store in an airtight cake tin and decorate as you please on the big day 

non-alcoholic paleo christmas cakeCheck out the other #FreeFromChristmas posts from these fabulous bloggers

Dairy Free Kids

Easy Peasy Foodie

Free From Fairy

Free From Farmhouse

Glutarama

Gluten Free Alchemist

Intolerant Gourmand

Julie’s Family Kitchen

Le Coin de Mel

Paleo Crust (aka Modern Food Stories)

The Adventures of an Allergy Mummy

The Peachick’s Bakery

**I created this recipe for non-alcoholic paleo Christmas cake myself, but would like to say a huge thanks to the wonderful people at Unsplash for the gorgeous photos**  

Although my two girls eat really well, my son is the complete opposite – at 3½, Freddy epitomises the term fussy eating. He mainly lives on home made smoothies, and turns his nose up at almost everything else.

We think that Freddy has sensory issues, because he says things like:

“I don’t like hot food.”

“I don’t like cold food.”

“I don’t like lumps or bits in my food.”

The never ending angst we go through on behalf of our children

fussy eating I’ve gone through every emotion you imagine about this over the last few years, because Freddy’s fussy eating used to really bother me. Being such a foodie I felt like a complete failure due to his lack of interest in almost all food, not to mention lack of variety to his diet. I was also concerned in the earlier days that he wouldn’t grow or put on weight.

You only need to take one look at my boy however, to see that there’s nothing to worry about. With his healthy physic, bright eyes and long legs you’d naturally assume that he falls into the category: eats like a horse. 

You might be wondering what our secret is?

Freddy eats nutrient dense whole foods, which truly sustain him. He has very little in the way of processed carbs, and doesn’t have any refined sugar. In addition to this, we supplement with a good quality multivitamin. By eating this way, I know that Freddy is getting everything he needs.

We make a super smoothie (recipe below) every morning, and some evenings. It is packed full of goodness, and Freddy helps me make them so he knows exactly what goes in. Although he’ll often say that he hates carrot, or avocado, he happily adds them to the blender then drinks the end result. It’s all very confusing to be honest, which is why I decided a while ago to stop fretting about it.

I also constantly offer him new foods, because all children have the capacity to be fickle. They might adore something one day, but not even want to look at it the next. A recent win for us, was Freddy eating two huge chunks of watermelon, because he has always refused it in the past.   

Head over to YouTube for more of my tips on helping your fussy eater

A super smoothie recipe for you

fussy eating
Ingredients

½ medium sized avocado (heart healthy good fat, potassium, fibre)
½ medium sized banana (increases energy, helps regulate blood pressure, contains vitamin B6)
½ medium sized raw carrot (rich in vitamins A, C, K, B8, and minerals) 
350ml live bio yoghurt (probiotic for a healthy gut)
tbsp cacao powder (antioxidant rich, full of iron, magnesium and calcium)
drizzle of raw honey to sweeten (natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, aids digestion)
 
Method
– add all ingredients to your blender, and whizz on a high setting until everything is smooth
– serve immediately
 
**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative piece written for Haliborange. For my full disclosure policy please click here.