Dairy Free Yoghurt Recipe – Delicious!

I have just had huge success making yoghurt!! It was so nice eating it for the first time in years…one of the boys had tears in his eyes as he wolfed it down… huge lump in my throat watching him.

I bought the Severin Yoghurt Maker with extra set of jars & New Recipe Book. I have now tried using Kara cartoned coconut milk, tinned coconut milk, almond milk and rice milk. By far, the best is with the coconut milks, and the voted one in this house, is using tinned coconut milk. Although high in fat compared to all the other milks we used, it contains ‘good’ fats (see a review here) so unless you are calorie counting, don’t worry overly about it.

How to make delicious coconut milk yohurt?

Use 1 litre tinned coconut milk, heat until it starts bubbling, but not boiling. Add in 3 tablespoons of tapioca flour (dissolved in water to make a paste first) and one sachet of gelatine (or vegetarian equivalent agar). Whisk until the gelatine/agar has melted and the tapioca flour has thickened the milk – heating gently if need be. Then add in 2-3 tablespoons of honey or syrup as food for the yoghurt making bacteria.Cool it down to room temperature, and add in 3 capsules of dairy free probiotics (open the capsules and tip in the powder). I think it’s important that you use ones which contain Streptococcus thermophilus, but mine from Colchester Natural Foods contain about 7 additional strains. Stir or whisk thoroughly, tip into the jars and stand them in the yoghut maker. It takes a good 8 hours with coconut milk to ‘yoghurt’ so you can make it overnight or leave it whilst you’re out in the day. You can tell easily that it’s done by opening and smelling. You’ll notice that the liquid it still quite runny – don’t worry, it will all thicken as it cools.
Take the jars out and stand them in cold water in the sink before putting them into the fridge. You can add in your flavourings at this stage if you wish, or like us, leave until thickened. We use fruit conserves, chopped up fresh fruit, honey…the choice is yours!Use Kara coconut milk in cartons for a lower fat version, using a bit more tapioca flour and 1/2 a sachet more gelatine to thicken.Do let me know how you get on!


Strawberry Jelly with Vanilla Panna Cotta – allergy free!!

I have just found THE most delicious recipe that is easily converted to what we need. It comes from peasepudding and I highly recommend it to anyone with any allergies – or indeed none and in it’s unadulterated form! Thanks to peasepudding for this recipe that I have adapted for our community!


Ingredients – makes 4

  • 6 strawberries
  • 240ml red berry fruit juice (cranberry, strawberry, raspberry)
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 1/2tsp agar powder – or use the appropriate amount of powdered gelatin according to the instructions, eg 1/2 sachet for Dr Oetker gelatine
  • 240ml dairy free milk (I use Alpro almond milk) – or single cream for those who can!!
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp agar powder – or use the appropriate amount of powdered gelatin according to the instructions eg 1/2 sachet for Dr Oetker gelatine
  • Seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the jelly, cut the strawberries, I cubed mine to fit the ramekins I was using.
Add the to the ramekins
Combine 1/2 tsp agar (soak gelatin first if using), fruit juice and 1 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan. Over a medium heat bring to a simmer whilst stirring.
Pour the fruit liquid over the strawberries to half fill the ramekins.
Allow to cool.

To make the Panna Cotta, combine the 1/2 tsp agar (again, soak gelatin if using), dairy free milk (or cream), vanilla bean seeds and 1/2 tsp sugar in a small saucepan.
Over a low heat bring the milk (cream) to a simmer, whilst stirring the liquid.
It will start to thicken slightly, remove from the heat.

The Panna Cotta needs to cool before pouring over the jelly. Agar will set as it comes to room temperature so you need to keep an eye on it. Stir every minute or so to distribute and even cooling and prevent a skin from forming. Gelatin takes a bit longer.

Once the cream mixture is luke warm pour over the jelly and place in the fridge until required.

Happy eating!

Would you like a downloadable weekly / monthly menu planner?

Hi, Ruth here! It seems that there is a growing readership on my blog and I’d just like to thank everybody who has sent me emails recently.

I’ve been asked a few times in the last two weeks if I have a menu planner I use – with menus already on it? I guess it was after my post ‘Get Smart….‘ post where I said that planning meals in advance and pinning up a weekly menu on the fridge door saves time wondering what to cook every day.

I’m sure that there are heaps of us using such methods, but as I’ve been specifically asked to think about producing one (and before I spend too much time on it) I thought I’d ask if you think it is a tool you would find useful?

If enough people do, I might well look into putting together entire weekly or even monthly menu planners where the meals are free from all major allergens: gluten, dairy, soya, fish, peanuts, eggs, shellfish and tree nuts…and of course celery for my boys!

I would be very grateful for all those who email me their thoughts…and if the vote is to go for them, I will do my very best to put together a tool that is useful for us all….and will make sure those who respond get the planners first!!

Contact me here

Thank you!


Get Smart! Control the burden of food allergies

How often do we get to the money hungry till in a supermarket to find that we’ve spent more and got less than anticipated? It doesn’t matter whether you’re struggling to cater for food allergies or not, the cost of everyday food is rising….and many of us are feeling the pinch.

Catering for those with true food allergies increases costs both in direct and indirect ways. Not only do the special, allergy free alternative ingredients we must buy cost the earth…but we have to visit three, four or even five shops or supermarkets weekly to hunt down the ingredients we need to provide a balanced and safe diet. Add in to the mix that it takes longer to read through every ingredient on every packet every time we shop, and that adapting recipes takes time, effort and lots of failures until we have it right, and you start to get the picture that everyday life with food allergies takes it toll on families.

Don’t let these things get you down, however, as there are time saving strategies that WILL help you manage your time effectively and reduce the burden of catering and shopping for food allergies.

I’ve put together a list of suggestions to help.

  • Plan your meals in advance. Maybe stick a weekly planner on the fridge door?
  • Use your weekly menu as the basis for your shopping list
  • Only buy what you are going to be able to use. Some speciality ingredients are already costly – the last thing you want is to be throwing out of date items away
  • Consider online supermarket shopping – let someone else take the strain
  • Look at cheaper alternatives – we have recently found Aldi cold meats are tasty, free from the added milk protein other supermarkets pump in to their cold sliced meats…and they are far cheaper than the other main stores
  • Buy in bulk to take advantages of special offers and to reduce the number of shopping trips – if you have the storage space at home
  • Look at online specialist shops for key ingredients you may find hard to source elsewhere, and get them delivered direct – again in bulk where possible
  • Avoid too many allergy free convenience foods. Not only are they super expensive, but often they aren’t especially tasty either. We’ve lost track of the number of new products we’ve tried out to find all three boys think they’re yuk and feed the bin!
  • Make much more than you need and freeze portions to take out when you need a quick meal. This works especially well with pasta sauces, any dish involving minced beef, soups, casseroles, cakes, biscuits, lasagne and meatballs to name just a few

If even one of these ideas works for you, if you regularly cook smart and shop wisely, you will see the benefits straight away. Don’t be a victim to the burden of food allergies. Get smart and leave yourself time to do the fun stuff!


10 positive outcomes of having food allergies

Coping with multiple food allergies isn’t all bad news.. I know it’s a real pain having them, but tonight I started to write a list of the positive benefits of having food allergies…and you know what? I think there are more positives than I originally would have believed!

10 great benefits to having food allergies.

1. Nearly all our meals are made from fresh, raw ingredients – no additives, preservatives or chemicals must mean positive benefits for health.

2. Learning how to cook food free from gluten, diary, egg, soya and celery has given me a real desire to get creative and find ways of producing foods that are similar to those our boys can no longer eat…and it has been a hugely satisfying journey to discover new ways of approaching cooking.

3. Seeing me cook proper meals, cakes, biscuits etc from scratch has given our boys a good understanding of how ingredients come together to make our food.

4. It has also caught their imagination and they all like to help out in the kitchen, and our eldest now asks to cook meals for us all from time to time.

5. We tend to eat at the table together as I tend to cook a traditional family meal, and at a time where so many families are losing this habit, it is nice to be able to talk and catch up with each other during, but especially at the end of the day.

6. As a family, we can no longer eat outside of our home or the homes of our closest family and friends so holidays are a little different to what they were. Yet although we can’t go to hotels, we bought a large tent and discovered a love of camping. Nothing beats the sense of real family togetherness than when you’re wrapped up with a hot chocolate in the tent, playing cards around a table until late into the evening. The boys love it and of course I can cook for them safely and we can all relax.

7. Over the years of experimenting with food, I have discovered ingredients I never knew existed and have tried some weird and wonderful things along the way. The children are much keener to try new things than they were before they were diagnosed, and as long as it comes from my kitchen, they trust the fact they won’t get ill.

8. The boys simply cannot eat huge amounts of sweets as 90% are off limits so their teeth should be protected from the effects of a diet high in sugar.

9. Because they cannot eat high fat fast food, the risk of heart disease and obesity must be much lower for them all.

10. The boys are very protective of each other and carefully check new things together to see if they can eat them. With all three affected, there is a strong bond between them as very few others around them truly understand what it’s really like not to be able to pick up whatever you fancy on the shelves in the local shop.

It helps us to think of our allergies as a challenge we are dealing with and succeeding in!

Hello World!

Hello! Welcome to my Food Allergy Network blog. I’m not really very au fait with blogging – indeed this is the first time I’ve ever blogged, but having been bringing up and cooking for three children all with multiple food allergies for a number of years now, when a friend suggested I share some of the things I’ve learned along the way in a blog, I thought, “Why not?”.

So  here I am. I have this rather idealistic dream that this blog might be the start of local Food Allergy Network groups… I always think that would be nice for my boys… but that’s probably a little grand at the beginning!

What I hope for right now, is to get across to anyone visiting that having food allergies needn’t ruin your life. It’s easy to feel down when you can’t eat what you want to eat, and it can seem very unfair that you have to be so careful when all around you others munch away without a thought for the ingredients in their food.

Having had an egg allergy myself for most of my life and with three boys of 3, 9 and 12 all with majorly long lists of food allergies and Coeliacs disease, I can assure you that like most food allergy sufferers, I confess to having gone through what is probably best described as a grieving period, when first one, then two and finally all three of my boys were diagnosed. I cried over what they were going to miss out on and still occasionally even now have to force myself out of the doldrums when they ask for things they can’t have.

But long ago I decided to be positive, pick myself up, shake off the blues and force a change of attitude about it all.

This was a major turning point for the whole family. Instead of concentrating on what the boys couldn’t have, I started experimenting in the kitchen. I read all the books, blogs and recipes I could lay my hands on…and began. Over the years I have discovered ingredients I never knew existed and can arguably (according to my kind family and friends) turn out one of the best allergy free chocolate cakes, Dorset apple cakes and Rocky Road bars this side of the Atlantic! I even made a totally allergy free wedding cake last year!!

So, if you need a positive boost, have recently been diagnosed with food allergies or Coeliac Disease and want an upbeat community to join, this site may well be of interest.

Food Allergy Network (or FAN) has one very specific aim…to make you feel good about life. Think positively, experiment freely and wake up each morning knowing that today will be good!