Following my article detailing my journey to being truly sugar free, I’ve decided to share a lot more recipes here on the blog. What better to kick start the new feature than my ultimate free from cheesecake? 

Over the last few years I have created some awesome (if I do say so myself) sugar free deserts, which also happen to be grain (not just gluten!) and dairy free too. The best feedback I get is that you would never know they are ‘free from’. I take this as a huge compliment, and am chuffed to know that some of my most sugar addicted friends are the biggest fans of my work. Not to mention my hubby, who has a very sweet tooth. 

blueberry cheesecakeThis cheesecake is a seriously tasty piece of pie – exceptionally rich and decadent, yet devoid of all the ingredients that cause so many of us such horrible digestive problems. The only spanner in the works would be if you have to avoid nuts, because two of the three layers are made from them.

Although it’s what I call a show stopping desert, it is unbelievably easy to make, providing you have a powerful blender or food processor. I have a Vitamix (lucky me) which makes light work of grinding up nuts and dried fruit.

This recipe is free from: gluten, grains, dairy and refined sugar

Ingredients
(crust) 200g macadamia nuts
50g dates
15g desiccated coconut
(filling) 220g cashew nuts
120ml lemon juice
120ml coconut oil
2-4 tbsp honey
tsp lemon oil
(topping) 250g blueberries

Method
blueberry cheesecake– I have used a traditional 26cm flan dish, which I’d highly recommend as it makes the perfectly sized end result which you can cut into thin slices. As I said before, it’s a very rich desert and a little goes a long way

– to make the crust, put the macadamias and dates into your blender or food processor and whiz until they come together to form a sticky dough

– scatter the desiccated coconut onto the bottom of the dish which helps the crust not to stick, then press the dough down firmly 

– now make your filling by adding the cashews, lemon juice and oil, coconut oil and honey to your blender or food processor. Then whiz until you have the consistency of a very very thick milkshake (as pictured). I find that two tbsp of honey is more than enough for my palate, but sweeten yours according to taste

– pour the filling evenly on top of the crust, cover with cling film and place in the freezer for 30 mins

– to make the topping simply place your blueberries into a saucepan over a high heat. You can use fresh or frozen, they both work just as well. When you hear sizzling after 30 seconds or so turn the heat low and simmer for 10-15 mins

– once the blueberries are cooked and have cooled down, take the cheesecake out of the freezer and pour them over the top. Then re-wrap in cling film and place back in the freezer for at least three hours until you’re ready to serve

– remove from the freezer 30 mins before you want to serve and allow to defrost a little before slicing and serving

This really is the most AMAZING free from cheesecake you’ll ever taste. Trust me, I’m fussy with my treats 😉

These delightful little pumpkin pie cupcakes are a throwback to Polly’s egg allergy. During those desperate days, I spent too much time wondering what on earth I’d feed my child. Thankfully we’re in a much better place now, but I learnt how to be creative back then. 

I remember trawling the internet searching for recipes that were not just grain free, but egg free too. It was much harder than I thought it would be, so I did what I always do. Got out my apron, and started chucking ingredients together until I was happy with the taste. 

Need a healthy guilt free treat? You’re in the right place! 

The pumpkin/butternut squash base make these cupcakes a truly guilt free bake. Flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla, they are dense and fudgey, and super moreish. The best thing of all is that they won’t leave you feeling meh afterwards, as they’re free from grains and refined sugar. The icing is made primarily from cashew nuts, which sounds a bit random, but trust me, it’s absolutely delicious. Overall they’re a win for any time of the day. 

I had a bit of an epiphany while I was trying to take photos of these cakes over the weekend. I’ve known for a long time that my sweet treats will never look as good as their sugary/gluteny/buttery counterparts, but I’ve made my peace with that. My food is all about the flavour, and the fact that it’s great for my family. If you’re in need of healthy inspiration, you’re definitely in the right place. Take a look at this Pinterest board for more yummy recipes.  

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Sweet Icing. This recipe is free from all grains (not just gluten), dairy, egg and refined sugar.     

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Sweet Icing (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)Ingredients to make 12

(for the cupcakes) 400g pumpkin or butternut squash
120ml coconut oil
40g coconut flour
40g ground almonds
40g ground flaxseed
2 tbsp water
1-2 tbsp honey
Tbsp cinnamon
Tsp vanilla
Tsp bicarb of soda
(for the icing) 200g cashew nuts
60ml coconut oil
2-3 tbsp honey

Method

– two hours ahead of baking, put the cashew nuts into a bowl and cover with cold water. Soaking the nuts will make them easier to blend, and also easier to digest  

– preheat your oven to 170c and line a 12-hole cupcake tray with cases

– peel and de-seed your pumpkin/butternut squash and cut into small chunks. Place in a saucepan with the cinnamon and water. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat with the lid on for about 40 mins until it is fork-mashable

– tip the contents into your blender or food processor, along with all the other cake ingredients and whiz until well combined. Sweeten the batter to your taste, one tablespoon of honey is enough for us, but you might want to add a little extra

– divide the batter between the cases and bake for 25 mins

pumpkin pie cupcakes– allow to cool completely before icing them

– to make the icing, drain the cashews and tip them into your blender or food processor

– blend the cashews, along with the coconut oil and 2 tbsp of honey, adding more honey to taste if needs be

– you’ll now be ready to ice the cakes, get the piping bag out if you’re feeling fancy otherwise use a knife to spread over the cakes 

– serve immediately, or make in advance and store in a cake tin. They are particularly delish after they’ve been in the fridge 

Having suffered from food intolerance all my adult life, I know first hand the misery it can cause. I cut dairy out of my diet way back in 2002, but decided to reintroduce it when I was pregnant with my eldest. I was absolutely gutted when she came out in facial eczema at six weeks old because she was reacting to it coming through my breast milk. I strictly excluded the dairy again and her rash cleared up.

Food exclusions diets

That wasn’t the end of our story though. She reacted to all sorts of different food once weaned onto solids, and at two and a half was diagnosed with a long list of intolerances. While I’m grateful that they weren’t life threatening anaphylactic allergies, these foods caused a lot of problems for her. We saw a dramatic difference by excluding them from her diet, and have been able to reintroduce certain things over the years.

If only the fantastic FoodMaestro App existed back then, my life would have been a whole lot easier! This super easy to navigate app allows you to create a profile for each member of the family based on their dietary restrictions. You can then do a manual search for products you want to check the ingredients of, or scan a bar code in the supermarket, and it will tell you whether you are able to eat it. So simple, and an absolute godsend in the time saving department. Gone are the days of scrutinizing every single label in the shops. 

Key app features

  • Select from over 200 ingredient filters
  • Search or scan food products to check suitability
  • Search by ingredient inclusion or exclusion
  • See what everyday products dietitians are recommending
  • Filter products by low, medium and high sugar levels
  • Create personalised shopping lists

I also really liked the section on the app to log food reactions and symptoms. It’s really useful to keep a diary when you’re feeling a little bit meh, and suspect certain foods might be the culprit. It’s so handy to look back on, and great to have the information to hand if you need to take the matter to your GP. 

Regular readers will know that I am obsessed with sugar, having quit the white stuff over a period of eight years. I was very impressed to see FoodMaestro taking the sugar content of food so seriously.

With an app like this, I don’t think there’s any excuse to say ‘I didn’t realise it was so unhealthy’ ever again!  

Pop over and say hi on Twitter @FoodMaestroUK

For more info, check out this short video, which explains in detail how FoodMaestro works

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

 

welcome to the Polly show

welcome to the Polly show

There has been something going on with my eldest daughter Polly since she was a tiny baby. First it was reflux and eczema covering her face – related to reacting to dairy coming through my breast milk. Then came the multitude of food sensitivities which we discovered at two and a half.

A few months previous to that she stopped sleeping (both during the day and at night) and was waking up ten times plus. Even now she hardly ever sleeps through, and she is six next month. On top of all this she never outgrew the toddler meltdowns, and her violent outbursts have been steadily getting worse over the years.

Always something

Something has felt not quite right for a very long time, and I just knew there was more to this story than everyone else allowed me to think.

“She’ll grow out of the allergies, don’t worry”

“She’ll be so tired when she starts school that she’ll start sleeping all night, don’t worry”

“It’s all normal kids stuff, mine fight like cat and dog all the time, don’t worry”

The well intentioned, yet largely unsolicited advice, has been of little comfort to me over the years.

I’m kooky when it comes to my gut instincts, but they very rarely let me down. Last summer P had a whole bunch of gastro tests done, to investigate whether there was something medical going on, but every single one came back negative. It was a huge relief, I had major stomach surgery at 5yo and would do anything for my own kids to not have to go through the same. It left us not really knowing where to turn next though. So on we plodded with the best parenting we were capable of on no sleep, and a diet so wholesome that her teachers regularly comment on how envious they are of her lunch.

Last September I wrote this over on my GAPS blog.

“I’m going to set the cat among the pigeons here. What if her problems aren’t being caused by standard allergic reactions to food, but by a toxic overload and leaky gut syndrome? What if the super clean diet of cooked from scratch organic goodness she has been eating all her life is the only thing saving her from an ASD diagnosis? It’s no secret that ASD and food sensitivities go hand in hand. I’m starting to think that my hubby and I have been tearing ourselves into pieces looking in all the wrong places.”

wpid-img_20150509_103810.jpgChristmas saw my family in absolute dire straights. Hubby and I then went on a mission to try and turn it all around, and totally eradicate our own negative behaviour. Which trust me was bloody hard, but we didn’t so much as raise a voice over the two week holiday. We saw improvements but it didn’t work the miracles we were hoping it would. By Easter her sleep had gone to pot again, and her violent outbursts were getting more frequent and intense. To the point where we couldn’t trust her to be alone with her baby brother in case she hurt him. I conceded that what we were doing wasn’t enough and that perhaps my theory about autism wasn’t so whacky after all. Then I read this post by fellow blogger Reprobate Mum and alarm bells started well and truly ringing.

Our biggest red flags
– lack of empathy
– inability to read body language or communicate non-verbally
– toddler like temper tantrums
– obsessive about her likes
– has to be in control
– incredibly poor sleep

Getting the help we desperately needed

We are lucky to have private medical insurance through work, and jumped the queue massively to see a top specialist at The Portland Hospital two months ago. Dr. K assessed Polly and asked me a million questions, all the time being privy to her full range of emotions. Dr. K told me it would be high functioning, but there was definitely something needing to be investigated. I booked a follow up (again lucky enough to queue jump) and in the mean time had to complete more questionnaires, as did P’s school and our GP. We had the appointment yesterday and went through what the sheets said, and were asked even more questions. Dr. K also got to see the way P interacts with her little brother (little sister was left with the Grandparents).

To be completely honest I think Dr. K had made up her mind about Polly last time, she is a leading expert in autism and sleep disorders after all. The questionnaires seem to be just a formality. We were asked whether we wanted to contest her diagnosis of High Functioning ASD, and see another doctor to have an independent assessment done, but we declined. She was just confirming what we had already come to terms with. Now we have a diagnosis on its way, we can start to access the support our family so desperately needs.

It’s Official. She’s on the Spectrum. Now What?

Why am I writing this and telling the world that my kid is autistic? Quite simply because there is no shame in having a child on the autistic spectrum. P’s condition hasn’t been caused by anything that anyone has done, or could have done differently. There will be no guilt, and there will be no apologising. This is the way she was born and what my husband and I now need to do is start equipping her and the rest of the family with the tools we all need to live a happier life.

Attitudes will only change once people start talking about this stuff out in the open.

I keep hearing the term early intervention over and again, and because she isn’t even six yet I am very hopeful that we will be able to get ourselves to a much happier place fairly quickly. Hubby and I will be tapping into the support networks and parenting groups that will help us do this. You can learn more through the National Autistic Society.

A plea to trust your gut

I’ve also written this as a little plea to parents to trust their gut instincts when it comes to your kids. If you know something is up then fight for an answer, and do not allow yourself to be rail roaded into thinking that everything is fine, when you know in your heart of hearts that it’s not.