Living with Autoimmune diseases

If you have been reading my blog for a while or following me on Twitter you will know that I live gluten free, and as much as possible grain free and refined sugar free. My diet is like this due to the fact that I have not one, but three autoimmune diseases. Crohns disease ( A long term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system ) which is an Inflammatory bowel disease and Litchen Sclerosus LS ( a skin disorder ) both diagnosed a couple of years ago and Coeliac disease ( causes inflammation of the lining of the small intestine when gluten is ingested ) while not officially diagnosed I have been told by my Gastro specialist that I have classic coeliac history and due to the fact that I have been gluten free for about 7 years now and my reaction to glutening is so extreme he would not suggest going back to eating gluten . I have had a endoscopy recently and all is looking fine which is good to know. The many years of eating gluten has left me with what some describe as a leaky gut which means my body struggles to absorb nutrients but also absorbs and is easily susceptible to inflamation both in the stomach and bowels but also in joints. Difficulty in walking up stairs etc when having a flare up.

After a couple of weeks recently which were very stressful I am now faced with the after shock . This is something that I don’t feel I have experienced in quite this way before. I think new knowledge means I am more aware of the symptoms these days. Aching painful joints primarily for me, knees and wrists. Lack of energy and fatigue. Brain fog to a worrying degree especially my short term memory. The one thing this time is that I haven’t experienced stomach gut problems to the level I normally do, For this I am very grateful for. I’m sure my diet has been a contributing factor. Avoiding grains, refined sugar and vegetable oil and processed foods seems to have made a huge difference. I also have a high good fat diet like coconut oil and butter and low carbohydrates especially avoiding white potatoes and white rice.

 

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I’ve not been in such a stressful place for many years and I have been shocked as to just quite how it has played havoc with symptoms of my autoimmune diseases. I am determined to get myself back on track quickly. Like most people I feel guilty if I sit down and relax and am always finding things to do. I think I am going to have to learn to take time for myself and give my body time to heal.

As yet I have not found a general practitioner, gastro specialist or specialist nurse who will give me more than 3 minutes of their time. It appears, and I have been told I have to do my own home work on the subject. I have up to now refused medication for my gut as I am so far able to control it with a very healthy diet.

My Family are very supportive and understanding our family home is 100% gluten free and eating out choices are far more reduced when eating out together due to being gluten free and my multitude of food intolerances. It also effects holiday choices, I would love to be able to be far more adventurous than I am.

My faith gives me enormous strength  and Church family are very supportive. I know the prayer support I receive helps a great deal.

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I have much to be very grateful for. A loving husband, family and friends and a strong determination to keep on top of these health issues. I Will do whatever it takes to stay well and happy.

It isn’t easy to share such personal information, but I hope it helps others in the same position. Often things you read about Autoimmune diseases on the internet are frightening and worrying.  I would be very interested to hear from others with multiple autoimmune disease and how you cope and any advice you may have ?

Eat well , keep healthy, focus on the positive things in your life !

 

Grain free Fruit cake ready for the Great British Bake Off

Tomorrows episode of The Great British Bake Off is inspired by Victorian baking. The contestants will be asked to make a Game pie for the signature bake and a fruit cake topped with sugar paste and marzipan. The show stopper is a Charlotte Russe

I was looking for an alternative Fruit cake that was refined sugar free and grain free. I found a delicious looking recipe from Elana’s Pantry   there are lots of amazing recipes on her website and her book, I have made many of them and can recommend you visit the website and check out her book the Gluten free Almond Flour cookbook   <click here to find out more . Its probably one of my most used cookery books !

I love to bake something that I  can eat along with Bake Off,  keeping it as healthy as possible and this fruit cake ticks that box

 

 

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This recipe is packed full of yummy dried fruit and the zest of both lemon and orange

 

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Click here for Elana’s delicious recipe > Fruit cake

I used

90g Raisins

100g dried cherries chopped

130g ground almonds

100g finely chopped walnuts

10g coconut sugar

80g chopped medjool pitted dates ( about 5 )

zest of 1 lemon

zest of 1 orange

4 large eggs

2 tbsp melted coconut oil ( I use Lucy Bee )

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla extract

I added

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Method

pre heat oven to 180c

prepare 2 small loaf tins

I mixed the almonds, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, ground nutmeg and salt together

Then I added the dried fruit, chopped dates and walnuts and zest

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In a separate bowl and beat the eggs and added the vanilla extract coconut oil and coconut sugar

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I added these to the dry ingredients and mixed well

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spoon mixture in to the tins and bake for 25/30mins at 180c

cool on a wire rack

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This Fruit cake tastes amazing, I was thrilled with the result.  Grain free and very little added sugar. Remember dried fruit is already very high in natural sugar so this cake is still very much a treat food. I think this will become a family favourite.

find more recipes from Elana’s pantry here elanaspantry.com 

follow on Twitter @elanaspantry

Happy Baking!

 

For one large cake I used a large loaf tin and baked at 170c fan oven for about 45mins

 

 

 

My review of Deliciously Ella’s sweet potato Brownies

I recently had a go at making some sweet potato brownies. I used Deliciously Ella’s recipe from her book

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Click here for recipe Sweet Potato Brownies and video

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I was intrigued to make these as I know they are one of the most popular recipes from Deliciously Ella

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steamed sweet potato along with dates are the main ingredients

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dates and cooked sweet potato are blended together

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ready to bake

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once cooled the brownies can be cut into squares

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The Brownies were dense and semi sweet, perfect for an afternoon treat. The brownies do contain some gluten free flour so they are not grain free.

If you expect them to taste exactly like a highly sugar filled chocolate brownie you will be disappointed, these are definitely a healthy version with no refined sugar. If like me you are avoiding all refined sugar then they satisfy that sweet craving.

I’m sure I will make them again as they were very easy to make and I like the idea of using sweet potatoes in baking.

They were enjoyed by friends and family and my husband even served them up at a business meeting.

Follow @deliciouslyella  < here 

Facebook  Deliciously Ella < here

Deliciously Ella website jam packed with recipes

A Free From Special on Bake Off tonight

Tonight on The Great British Bake Off the contestants will be asked to make a cake using an alternative to refined sugar . One contestant is making a pineapple upside down cake and another a carrot cake.

click here > Alternative ingredients 

The technical challenge is Paul’s gluten free pitta breads. It will be interesting to see how they get on with this tricky recipe. They are something I have not tried. Mainly due to the fact I can’t have yeast.

The Show stopper tonight is dairy free ice cream surrounded by jam and a light sponge.

I decided to make a Pineapple upside down cake that is not only gluten free but grain free and refined sugar free and dairy free too.

Pineapple Upside Down cake  grain free and dairy free

 

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100g coconut oil or unsalted butter

70g coconut sugar or maple syrup

4 large eggs

1/2 cup Almond milk or regular full fat milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g ground almonds

70g coconut flour

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

pinch salt

fresh pineapple

fresh cherries

Method

Pre heat oven 170c fan

prepare a loose bottomed cake tin

line with baking paper and fill the base with slices of pineapple,fresh sliced cherries a little coconut oil and a drizzle of maple syrup

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melt the coconut oil and mix with the coconut sugar or maple syrup

 

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add the 4 beaten eggs

in a second bowl mix together all the dry ingredients

Add the dry ingredients into the wet

mix well

add the vanilla extract and the almond milk

and mix well together

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spoon on top of the pineapple pieces

 

 

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bake in a hot oven 170c for 45 mins

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cool on a wire tray in the cake tin

 

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Here is a recipe for a gluten free Pineapple Upside Down cake

click here

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They were a real success !

Lets hope tonights episode is really good and inspires those who need to use alternative ingredients due to choice or intolerances or allergies to bake at home.

Fabulously Free From at The Big Feastival

Last weekend was a foodie and music lovers perfect Festival, The Big Feastival.

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Set in the gorgeous countryside of the Cotswolds at Alex James’s farm. Presented by Jamie Oliver and Blur’s Alex James with an amazing line up of chefs, cooks and musicians. Featuring the best street food and restaurant stalls as well as cooking classes and demos.

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I was attracted to the Big Feastival this year due to the addition of a Healthy Living Zone , added to highlight all the latest thinking on eating well and healthy. There was to be gluten free , grain free, paleo , raw stalls and demos with healthy eating pioneers including Hemsley and Hemsley and Deliciously Ella . I was thrilled to be accredited with a media pass and was determined to Max out my weekend finding out as much as I could for myself and my followers on twitter and Fabulously Free From.

 

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Our trip to Kingham in the Cotswolds on friday did not entirely go to plan. Our renovation project a Bambi Airstream was not as far advanced as we had thought so we spent an unexpected 5 hours waiting for it to be campsite ready! Once on the road we made good progress and arrived at Merry Weather campsite close to the Festival site , plenty of time to prepare for the two days ahead.

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Unfortunately due to the teething troubles with Betty the Airstream we missed out on friday afternoon and evening at the festival . I was desperately disappointed to have missed out on seeing at the Big Kitchen Monica Galleti, Nathan Outlaw and Richard Burr of bake off fame.

 

Saturday brought sunshine and light cloud desperate not to miss a thing we were up and out quickly after  homemade grain free fruit bread and a full english ready to take on the day. Only 14 mins from the Festival site we arrived just as gates were opening . There was no massive queues and parking was easy. We checked in and I quickly purchased an itinerary in the form of a programme on a lanyard.  I knew today was going to be quite a challenge to get around everyone I wanted to see.

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My main area was to be around the Healthy Living Zone and Big Kitchen thankfully the quietest part of the vast festival.

 

 

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Firstly I made my way to the Oatly Kitchen counter to hear Anna Jones.

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Here was to be the place I would be able to get up close to health food pioneers and chefs during the Feastival. Just a few tables and chairs set out in a rectangle covered by an open sided marquee with bright coloured deck chairs around the edge and a couple of bench seats. Very cosy and never overly busy.

Anna talked about her passion for healthy vegetarian food and about helping Jamie Oliver to write some of his books and how she had now written her own vegetarian recipe book.

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Following Anna was Ella Woodward better known as Delicious Ella. Ella talked about managing her illness by changing her diet dramatically to healthy eating including cutting gluten and refined sugar and vegetable oil.

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Admitted to being a sugar addict and advised using maple syrup etc with control and to find a balance. Ella’s top tip was to buy nuts and flour in bulk online. Deliciously Ella also talked about using coconut oil and olive oil in her cooking and baking and eating lots of good healthy fat especially her favourite avocados . I found her to be very honest and realistic . She summed up by saying she wanted to get vegetables in the centre of the plate.

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Following Ella I dashed over to the Big Kitchen a partly covered large stage with simple seating and extra tv screens to go and see Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley of Hemsley and Hemsley demonstrating a lime and avocado cheesecake and other healthy meals.

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The ladies talked lots about healthy fats including butter and coconut oil. They talked of their love of cabbage and bone broths. The Hemsley’s also encouraged the use of natural sugars instead of refined sugar but only in low quantities.

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Raw vegan blonde was next on the Oatly kichen counter art with fresh fruit and veg.

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I arrived at the end of this demonstration ready for Hemsley and Hemsley

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This really was a brilliant opportunity to see them and ask questions and hear more about their philosophy . In the slow cooker they had beef bone broth bubbling away and also the famous spiraliser for anyone to come and have a go with. They spoke about their book the Art of Living well, which I can recommend.

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The spiraliser was popular with the gathered crowd and a huge plate of courgetti in a pesto sauce was passed around the table to try. I had seen Jasmine and Melissa only a few weeks before in the literature tent at Latitude festival. But I have to say this was far better and easier for the ladies to demo properly.

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There was time for a Q&A and in such a small group worked really well. Their passion for not wasting food and using every part of the animal was good to hear. They talked of their love of saturated fat including dripping and butter, I was thrilled. Gelatine from chicken feet and bones also got a mention as well as encouraging everyone to watch the new Sugar film called That Sugar film! Probably my favourite Health pioneers at the Feastival.

Around the healthy living arena area was plenty of food to tuck into including Raw Press from London serving cold pressed juice and almond milk. I had the chocolate raw pressed almond milk which was very refreshing

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As I have so many additional intolerances as well as being intolerant to gluten I bulk baked before the festival and froze it all for our trip. Lunches and dinners for me were gluten free dough balls, grain free quiche lorraine , salad, cheese and fruit and water. If you were just gluten free there was many stalls offering gluten free options including raw press. there was also lots to sample from stalls like UGG Foods offering grain free bread and muffins to try and mix’s to buy

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UGG Foods stall was very popular with grain free mixes and testers

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Coconut merchant had coconut in almost every form from sugar and jam to oil

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Dried Kale looked tasty, sadly ran out of time to go back and buy some.

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The Primal Pantry were in the Healthy living zone offering tasters and their grain free bars for sale.

Deliciously Ella and Olivia Wollenburg were on the Big Kitchen stage demonstrating a chocolate orange brownie recipe a large crowd came to watch.

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Later at the Oatly kichen counter I heard Olivia Wollenburg talk about her line of crumbles Livia’s crumble part of Livia’s Kitchen. unfortunately the crumbles are not gluten free,  I think she is missing a great opportunity but she told me that it was not cost effective as 100 % dedicated gluten free factories are more expensive.

 

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On the Big Kitchen at 5.30 pm was Gennaro Contaldo this was a fun cooking demonstration followed by Jamie Oliver at 6.30pm as you can see I hadn’t left the Healthy Living Zone all day as there was so much to do. All this time there was music on three stages the Main stage, Udder stage and the Bandstand. Also BBQ demonstrations and even yoga

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As you would expect Jamie’s Big Kitchen demo was the most entertaining he also had a guest all the way from Brazil cooking steak on a BBQ on stage.

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It was difficult to get close as the crowds by now had grown enourmosly.

Earlier on the Main Stage had been Iris Gold, Johnny Borrell and Zazou , The Beach , Hudson Taylor and Grandmaster Flash

On the main stage that evening was Ella Eyre, Example and DJ Wire and the headliner was Dizzee Rascal

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Sunday brought a damp start but once again knowing that some of the speakers started early we were quickly on our way after a cooked breakfast with plenty of eggs and bacon to keep us going.

Natasha Corrett was first on the Big Kitchen stage demonstrating here recipe for a grain free quiche using cauliflower in the base. She urged everyone to keep your way of eating healthily sustainable. In her opinion 70% healthy 30% normal eating So as not to make the task to great to stick to.

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Natasha massaged kale with lemon juice to make it easier to eat in its raw form. She also used this in her quiche.

Next on was Joe Wicks The Body Coach I have to admit not knowing the name at all but he had a huge following mainly amongst the ladies.

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A star of the internet due to his 15 minute meals and new book called Lean in 15 . Joe chose to make a Thai green curry which looked good and then a turkey burger using lean turkey mince and a white processed burger roll, really not sure that was the best choice! He did though encourage the use of coconut oil and rubbished the old school pyramid way of eating.

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Emily Watkins was up next on the Big Kitchen Stage as the ran poured outside we stayed huddled under the stage over hang . Emily is a local chef who ‘s pub The Kingham plough is ranked in the Times top 25 pubs for food and two AA rosettes .  She made a delicious looking trifle

I had to leave Emily’s demo before the end to head back up to the Oatly kitchen counter for Adam Henson from the Cotswold farm park and Countryfile presenter final chat followed by

 

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Natasha Corrett Honestly Healthy a self  trained cook who encouraged the gathered crowd to avoid meat, dairy and sugar and to cut out processed food. She was asked during the Q&A what she couldn’t live without  food wise Nashasha answer was Lemons and avocados . The weather by now was not too nice and we were all tightly packed under the open sided marquee.

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I was very excited about the next speaker the very lovely and talented Raymond Blanc

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It was amazing to be so close and hear him talk with such passion about good local healthy food and the quality of british chefs, he teaches many of them! We heard all about his recent series on TV Kew on a plate and about seasonal fruit and vegetables and seasonality. He is also passionate about the environment and was very animated when speaking it was quite hard to take a photograph as he never sat still.

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Raymond was definitely the highlight of the weekend for me.

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Jamie Oliver was once again on the main stage but due to the sheer number of people watching we decided to take the opportunity to look around more of the festival.

The choice of food stalls was amazing, even for those who avoid gluten there was a good choice

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Some delicious pork belly cook on the BBQ

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corn on the cob

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Duck and seafood

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and sausages

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Here is a list of the gluten free stalls from my earlier blog post

There were also gluten free treats including

Ice lollies

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and cakes

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I preferred the healthy Paleo bars from Primal Joy Foods

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especially the grain free chocolate brownie

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lots to try and buy!

We sheltered under our umbrella to listen to Rae Morris who sounded amazing

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and then the weather started to improve

We watched Mabel Rogers on the Bandstand 

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and enjoyed a Rocktail

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After all the speakers it was time to relax!

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This festival is very family friendly with the best choice of food I have every seen at a festival. No wonder its called Feastival

It felt very much like an old fashioned English fair with fairground rides and independent local food stands Bales of hay to sit on

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and a helter skelter, bunting, fairy lights and balloons. Plus an enourmous live music stage with some big names over three days.

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There was so much to do I barely scratched the surface. I really focused on the Healthy Living Zone which I loved . The Feeling with Sophie Elis Bextor followed by Paloma Faith brought the Big Feastival to a grand finish. Even the earlier rain couldn’t dampen the festival goers spirits

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I’m sure we will be back next year for more tasty food, great music and interesting talks and demonstrations. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

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Follow The Big Feastival on Twitter @thebigfeastival

The website is TheBigFeastival.com

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Early bird tickets now available for next year Friday 26th – Sunday 28th August 2016

Update –

Tickets now available for Feastival 2016

2016 LINE UP SO FAR

 

Birthday and Bake Off

Today is my niece’s first birthday, yesterday was spent baking in readiness for the celebration family lunch party. I bought some tasty gluten free Cumberland sausages and chicken nuggets from Marks and Spencer’s along with some cocktail sticks for a retro birthday feel. I also made a grain free smoked salmon quiche with a mixed salad Click here for the recipe A birthday cake was the most important bake of the day. We decided on a Victoria sandwich 3 layer cake with 2 fillings a strawberry low sugar jam and a butter cream filling. This was topped of with a layer of 70% dark chocolate. Here is the recipe I used > click here 

I made two cakes and used three of the layers.

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The cake was a success, the family all enjoyed it.

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For my little niece I made some no refined sugar cake pops using a mashed banana and a tiny amount of good quality maple syrup.

 

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I was thrilled that she loved them.

 

It is also The Great British Bake off tonight so I felt I should join in with the biscuit baking. Instead of making a gluten free biscuit I decided to make a batch of grain free low sugar ones.

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This was a recipe from An Aussie with Crohns >click here <to get the recipe for Jam Pinwheels

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I rolled out the dough between two pieces of grease proof paper

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I spread a little apricot jam on the dough

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I then used the grease proof paper to help roll the dough up like a swiss roll

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The rolled dough was then chilled overnight

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They baked quickly and were then left to cool and firm up

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These are not what I would describe as a true biscuit, they don’t snap or really melt in the mouth but they do taste nice and are low sugar so ideal for those who are avoiding all grains and those avoiding sugar.

If I was in the bake off this week I would definitely be out in this round!

I was far more focused on our family birthday party today which went really well with all the family being hopefully well fed. A wonderful family event sharing food and making lots of memories.

 

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Enjoy Bake Off tonight

Happy Baking!

 

Gluten free pecan and honey cake

Here’s a really simple quick cake recipe for when only cake will do! That’s how the recipe came about yesterday, when I just needed cake.

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Pecan and honey cake

2 large eggs ( weight approx 150g )

150g gluten free self raising flour ( I used Doves farm )

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

150g melted unsalted butter or melted coconut oil

30g coconut palm sugar I used Biona from natureshealthbox ( or use regular brown sugar )

2 ripe bananas

topping

pecans about a handful

honey

butter

Method

prepare one 8 inch cake tin grease and add a piece of greaseproof paper to the base

mash the two bananas with hand blender

Add the palm sugar, beaten eggs, flour, baking powder and melted butter

use blender to mix ingredients

check all ingredients are well mixed together, use a spoon to stir mixture just to make sure all is blended

 

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in the bottom of the cake tin break up pecans and sprinkle over tin along with a little butter

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drizzle some honey over the nuts

spoon mixture carefully over the top of the nuts

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pop in a pre heated oven 180c for 25 mins, I checked after 20mins

check the cake is cooked completely through

cool, then turn out on to a wire rack so that the pecan topping faces up

remove grease proof paper carefully

 

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You can add a little more honey drizzled on the top

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The cake was moist and sweet enough for me, its amazing how little sugar you actually need to add.

Happy Baking!

Pecan and date bread

Looking for a breakfast alternative from gluten free bagels and fruit bread that you can toast or eat as it is? Well I think this could be the answer. Not only gluten free but grain free too ! With a sweet flavour it makes for a delicious breakfast treat.

 

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Free from yeast or refined sugar this bread is easy on the tummy and most importantly very yummy.

 

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Pecan and date bread

130g ground almonds

30g flax seeds

1 tsp baking powder – gluten free

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

150g pitted dates

70g finely chopped pecans ( i used my food processor )

3 free range large eggs

50ml melted unsalted butter or 50ml of melted virgin coconut oil

100ml almond milk or regular cows milk

Method 

Pre heat oven 170c 35-40mins

grease 81/2 in x 4 1/2 in loaf tin

put the ground almonds, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and flax seeds into a bowl stir well together.

 

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chop pecans in a food processor and add

 

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Put the pitted dates in a food processor and cut until it forms a paste add a splash of hot water to help loosen the paste.

 

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Add the date paste to the dry ingredients along with 3 beaten eggs , the melted fat and the milk.

 

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Stir all ingredients together well

 

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spoon into a greased loaf tin . I lined the bottom of the tin with greaseproof paper too.

 

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and pop in a pre heated oven 170c

check after 35 mins

 

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leave to cool before turning on to a wire rack

slice and serve on its on or with butter or nut butter . Good toasted in the morning with your favourite low sugar jam or marmalade. Homemade no sugar jam would be perfect. I like homemade blueberry jam. Cut thicker slices for toast for best results.

 

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You could try using a different finely chopped nut like walnuts or add 50g of raisins

This bread freezes well, ready sliced or whole.

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Happy Baking!

 

 

 

Grain free Mocha cake

Grain free chocolate cake is a family favourite. Served with extra thick cream it makes a delicious pudding. Today I thought I would make a mocha version. hope you like it.

 

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Mocha cake –

150g ground almonds

40g cacao powder ( I use BonPom )

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups of dates stones removed , approximately fill a 1 pint jug with dates

1/2 cup  ( 100ml ) of fresh strong coffee – from soaking dates

2 tbsp melted unsalted butter ( or 2 tbsp melted coconut oil )

Method-

pre heat oven 165c

 

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put the halved dates in a pint jug and fill to the top with freshly made coffee

leave for 10 mins

put dates in a blender with 1/2 cup( 100ml ) of the coffee soaking liquid

( keep rest of coffee soaking liquid incase you want to add some more later )

blend to a smooth paste.

put dry ingredients in to a bowl

add beaten eggs and melted butter

add smooth date paste

 

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mix well

pour into a greased lined cake tin

 

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bake for 25- 30 mins at 165 c

cool

remove cake from tin and put on a wire rack

Enjoy with cream or cream alternative.

If you are not avoiding sugar I’m sure this cake would be delicious with chocolate and coffee butter icing

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Review of Bionita gluten free Gnocchi

I came across the gluten free gnocchi in my local farm shop and deli. My first thought was that the packet wasn’t very big, I was hoping there would be enough for two people. I think it could possibly be a starter portion for two.

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The Gnocchi is very simple to cook and I made a simple cream, cheese and egg sauce to accompany the gluten free gnocchi.

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Just a couple of minutes and the gnocchi is ready.

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I fried some strips of bacon and courgette then add double cream and grated parmesan

Finally I removed the pan from the heat and added a beaten egg and stirred it in the the sauce thickening it.

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I added the gnocchi to the sauce

and placed some baby spinach to my bowl and spooned the gnocchi and sauce on top.

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it was delicious and I can definitely recommend this gluten free gnocchi.

Find out more here >Bionita <

Follow on twitter @bionitafreefrom

click here for > Stockist