FFF flour - gluten free rice freeI’ve followed the fabulous blog The Free From Fairy for almost four years now. Vicki’s daughter has coeliacs disease, and she created the blog to share her gluten free recipes, tips and ponderings on living a free from life.

I watched with excited interested as Vicki created her rice free gluten free flour blend, and worked tirelessly on perfecting it and turning it into an actual product.

The flour was launched in July, and went on sale with Amazon this week. It’s already had some fantastic reviews, and having tried it myself I’d highly recommend it to anyone on a gluten free diet.

It brings me great pleasure to introduce you to Vicki today.

Tell us about your gluten free, rice free flour in a tweet

Tell us about the inspiration behind the flour
At the age of two my now nine year old daughter was diagnosed with coeliacs, an autoimmune disease that necessitates a strict life long gluten free diet. I couldn’t find anything wholesome to feed her that was pre-prepared, so started making everything myself. When I baked, the gluten free flour blends that were readily available contained white refined flours and lots of rice, which are not very nutritious.

After reading about the arsenic content in rice, I started experimenting to create a rice free wholesome flour that I could use in all my baking. After twenty three different blends, I finally had the perfect recipe. One that I could use in everything from cakes and biscuits to bread, pastry and pasta.

This video explains a bit more about it

How long did it take from conception of idea to bringing the flour to market?
It took around two years to perfect the blend and thoroughly test it. It was then another nine months to bring the flour to market.

FFF flour - gluten free rice freeWhat has been your proudest achievement to date?
Launching the flour at the Allergy and Free From Show in London, and receiving so many positive reviews about it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring food producers?
Be persistent and don’t give up. When things go wrong, move on and don’t dwell on the past!

Tell us your top three ‘mummy hacks’
1) Cook a huge batch of pancakes at the weekend using my wholegrain self-raising flour blend. Freeze them and provide your children with a wholesome nutritious breakfast every day before school by popping them in the microwave straight from the freezer.

2) Cut back on the amount of sugar you add to baking. If you do it gradually, nobody will notice and it won’t make a difference to the final bake, but it will make a huge difference to the health of your kids. I usually cut the amount of sugar in a recipe by at least half.

3) Give your children a wide variety of vegetables from an early age and make sure they form a large part of each meal. If you do this from when you wean your children, and include them in preparing (and even growing) them, they are more likely to eat them.

FFF flour - gluten free rice free

Who knew gluten free bread could look so good?

Thanks so much for chatting to us today Vicki!

You are very much a woman after my own heart, and I wish you every success with your wonderful flour.

You can order the plain flour here, and the self-raising flour here. Please pop over to Vicki’s blog, and give her a follow on social media. 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

introducing-give-it-a-try-and-an-interview-with-founder-ian-spike-kennyAt the start of August we were out with friends, and happened completely by chance on a free children’s rugby training session, being run by the fantastic social enterprise Give it a Try!

They use rugby to develop character, resilience and confidence in young people in state schools in South London’s Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham.

Everyone and anyone was welcome at the session, and the two coaches running it had an incredible way with the kids, who instantly warmed to them. Neither my girls, nor my friends girls, had ever played rugby before, but they got straight into it, and couldn’t wait to go back afterwards. We managed to squeeze another session in at the end of August, and we all had another brilliant afternoon.

Rugby came at a good time for us. It was wonderful watching Polly and Clara working together as a team, something I’d not seen them do in a while. Huge thanks to Rory and Jacques, for making such a lasting impression on them. These ‘rugby days’ ended up being two of our favourites from the entire summer. Plenty of happy memories were made, and it’s put rugby on our radar, which would never have happened otherwise.

I’m thrilled to bring you an interview with Give it a Try! founder, Ian ‘Spike’ Kenny today.

Tell us your concept in a tweet

How long did it take from conception of idea to launching?

Action shot: rugby session with Give it a Try! I had the idea in April 2014, when I was made redundant. I was up and running with eight schools for the start of the 2014-2015 academic year, so it took me four months to scope out the programme, however it is evolving almost on a daily basis.

Not only are we now delivering rugby coaching and mentoring in schools, we are also providing personal development for teachers wanting to coach rugby, offering placements to students at The London South Bank University, delivering structured rugby camps and about to deliver confidence building residential adventure activity/rugby camps to further build character, resilience, teamwork and confidence.

Can you share a particularly inspiring story for us?

I have one student, who we engaged with at one of our secondary school after school clubs in early 2015. He was extremely keen on rugby from the start, but was approximately 20kg over weight and had never played the game before. He came regularly, started to attend our summer touch rugby sessions and took advice on exercise and nutrition, working really hard over the summer. In September 2015 he signed up to our U18s Academy squad and worked really hard at pre-season, becoming a valued member of the squad and playing in all our league fixtures. By Easter 2016 he was also playing for one of our senior, adult sides and has since played regularly at adult level until he went up to university this September. He is still playing rugby now.

However the inspirational element of the story is not that we got him fit, he lost his 20kg and more, and became extremely fit. It’s not that he went from a complete beginner to a technically strong rugby player, with a real understanding of the game, in a year. It’s not because he has found a sport that has engaged him and will give him experiences and friendships that he will never lose.

Give it a Try! Rugby session August 2016It’s that while he was playing for the Academy, his parents eventually turned up to watch him play. His mum was wearing a headscarf, I thought nothing of it as he is half Egyptian. Then one day he told me that his mother had recently recovered from cancer. At the end of season Academy awards, the U18s gave me a book which they’d all written in. This young man wrote this:

“Dear Spike, I don’t think I could ever truly explain on one page what the Academy means to me. But to attempt to explain, I think I could say it was the best escape from the real world ever imaginable.”

It was then that I realised that the rugby, the training, the fitness and the camaraderie he had experienced, and the family he was now part of at the rugby club, had got him through one of the most difficult periods of his life.

Give it a Try! Rugby session August 2016What’s your proudest achievement for Give it a Try! to date?

My proudest achievement happens every day. Every time I see one child in one session, do something right, realise themselves that they have mastered a skill and realise they have developed as an individual. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Tell us your top three daddy hacks

I only really had three pieces of guidance that underpinned my daughter’s growing up:

1) Don’t let me down (which morphed in to don’t let yourself down when they were old enough to understand and take full responsibility for themselves).

2) Don’t lie to me.

3) Do what you have to do, before you do what you want to do. 

Not very 21st century I’m afraid, but I suppose I’m a bit old school. 

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rugby1I think that’s sound advice most parents could use! Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational story with us.

Please check out the awesome work Give it a Try! do for yourself, and give them a follow on social media. 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

About Give it a Try!

“We are a social enterprise that uses rugby to develop character, resilience and confidence in young people in state schools in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham.

We use rugby as a tool to develop individual and collective responsibility, promote health, wellbeing and positive nutritional choices, provide opportunities for young people to improve their attainment and attendance at school, whilst also mentoring and supporting them to be the best that they can be.

We work closely with local community rugby clubs to provide pathways for further rugby development, linking clubs, schools and the local community together to forge links that strengthen connections and foster community cohesion. Where appropriate we also provide additional support to disadvantaged children to maintain the inclusive nature of our programme.”

otlblogheaderI recently attended the press launch for new girlswear label Outside the Lines, and was seriously impressed with the range.

Their clothes are not only stunning to look at, the quality is unlike anything else I’ve seen that doesn’t cost the same as my rent.

These are beautiful, well made children’s clothes, that are reasonably priced. Don’t take my word for it though, check out their website, which launches today, and see for yourself.

It was wonderful chatting to the lovely ladies behind the idea, Kate and Philippa, and here they are to tell you a little more about what they are doing.

Tell us your concept in a tweet

How long did it take from conception of idea to launching the website?

We initially had the idea for Outside the Lines over 18 months ago sitting in a restaurant in Paris brainstorming ideas for a girlswear brand which is affordable yet still a considered purchase. Both of us have worked in womenswear for a number of years and shared the same vision that there was plenty of girlswear brands at the designer and high street end of the market but very little in between.

Since then we have showcased our collections to the industry in Paris and London with very positive feedback and we are delighted to get our online boutique launched for customers to enjoy.

junior-design-award-winnerWhat is your proudest achievement for Outside the Lines to date?

We were honoured to receive awards from the industry from Junior for the Junior Designs Awards for best emerging brand, and best newcomer from Smallish magazine before we had even launched.

If you made clothes in adult sizes, what would you chose?

Philippa: The Lotte Breton Stripe Tee with the gold foil collar, Izzie skinny jean and our tassel cardigan.
Kate: The beautiful 3D eyelash floral lace dress with cocoon fur coat in soft grey.

philippas-selection-otl

Each tell us your top ‘mummy hack’

Philippa: Always take a doodle roll with you. A rolled up colouring ‘book’ with tear off sections to keep them all happy and the pencils fit in the middle of the roll! Easy and takes up very little space in the bag!
Kate: Always lay out all your children’s clothes the night before along with socks and underwear as well as your own outfit – I have no time in the morning so laying everything out the night before (and laying the breakfast table!) is a morning lifesaver.

Wishing you every success with your new venture ladies!