Win a copy of my debut recipe book “Chocolate treats: decadent delights free from the top 14 allergens”!
To enter, all you need to do is leave a note in the comment section at the bottom of this post with your answer to this question:
What is the number 1 allergy-related problem that you wish you could solve tomorrow?
Deadline: Sunday 29th July at 23:59 GMT
*Entry is open for international participants. The winner will be emailed upon close and then I’ll post out your prize!
I can’t believe after over a years worth of work my debut recipe book “Chocolate Treats: Decadent delights free from the top 14 allergens” is now available on Amazon.co.uk AND Amazon.com!! I am SO excited proud and thankful to everyone who had a hand in getting this book published and that includes you EAS community!
Thank you to the very first people to email in with recipes requests and suggestions, it was you who got me on this path and inspired me to create more. Thank you to those of you who bought the first edition back in December 2017! I couldn’t quite believe it when the first orders came in.
As a thank you, in today’s post I am going to give you a little preview of what you will find in the book including: the key things to make great chocolate treats that are free from the top 14 allergens, a little bit about my favourite recipes as well as a GIVEAWAY!!
The Key To Working with Dairy Free Chocolate
Dark chocolate naturally shouldn’t contain dairy but you will often find that it has a warning label due to cross-contamination risks. As such dairy free dark chocolate works in basically the same way as ‘normal’ dark chocolate. Dairy free ‘white’ chocolate on the other hand is a complete diva! The number of times I have ruined a batch during melting or thinking that I could leave it for a bit like I do the dark chocolate is unbelievable! The dairy free white chocolate requires constant attention, hence the Diva tag.
The key to melting dark, and especially white chocolate is to use the Bain Marie method. A Bain Marie is when you melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. The rising steam from the water gently heats the underneath of the bowl. While you stir the chocolate it will melt evenly without getting too hot. If chocolate gets too hot it will separate. This is especially true when it comes to dairy free white chocolate, it has to be stirred constantly! It’s lack of cocoa solids is part of the reason for this, it is more unstable than its dark counterpart. So, being the diva she is, she must have constant attention (I.e. stirring) to keep her silky smooth once melted.
In my recipe book I have a whole section talking more in depth about the characteristics and techniques for working with chocolate and how to get the most out of it for your bakes.
Using Gluten Free Flours
In many of the recipes I use a combination of gluten free flours in various recipes. Each gluten free flour has its own properties, some are starchy, others are sticky when mixed with water, others are just thirsty little things. However when mixed in a various combination they create different textures in the bakes. For example, in my Chocolate Fudge Cake I use combination of rice flour and tapioca flour. Tapioca is a starchy flour made from the cassava root, when mixed with water it can be used as a thickener in savoury foods such as soups and stews, but for baking it can create a sticky texture in a batter when baked. Perfect when you want your fudge cake to be a thick chocolate sponge!
In many of my cakes I like using coconut flour. In the UK, coconut is not included as a nut in the top 14 allergen list. It is also one of the gluten free flours I can eat (as I am allergic to peanuts and tree nuts). I like that it has a sweetness all of its own which means I don’t have to add a huge amount of sugar to cakes. Not only is too much sugar not good for you, I found in a lot of store bought free from cakes the amount of sugar is horrendous!I also find you get a clawing after taste when there is too much sugar in the recipe and it just tastes a bit fake…not pleasant at all! The coconut flour also has a very light texture, almost fluffy. I mix it with rice flour or tapioca flour in various recipes to add texture to the cake. I find the sponges come out lovely and light! Even my non-allergic friends think so!
Baking with No Eggs…How do you get cakes to rise??
Now this is something that wasn’t actually as hard as you may think. I use a combination of gluten free baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to create the rise in my bakes. A bit confused as to how or why this works? Well, think back to your school science projects, particularly how you get a volcano to erupt. The ingredients you would use are vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. The vinegar and bicarb react and create a fizzing and this is what happens in the bakes too, hence the rising.
I always like to find the natural way to make food and my general food philosophy is you should be able to eat each ingredient individually, so random replacers are not my favourite. Vinegar and raising agents on the other hand are a good option and they work. I use different quantities depending on the size of the cake, but don’t worry I’ve specified exactly how much in each recipe.
My 3 Favourite Recipes
I have a couple recipes in this book which are my favourite: Sweet Potato Brownies, Date Orange and Chocolate Truffles and the American Style Chocolate Chip Cookies.
In reverse order, the Chocolate Chip Cookies took quite a few tries to get the recipe right (I burned quite a few batches and some others just fell apart). I had a real sense of triumph when I got it right! Not to mention the taste is brilliant! They are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, my version of an American Cookie.
The Date Orange and Chocolate Truffles was a recipe I dreamed up 3 months before I actually finished it. It just kept going round and round until I actually finished making them. Then once I did the taste of the fresh orange came bursting through with the sweetness of the dates and the richness of the chocolate I could just keep eating them all day!
Finally the Sweet Potato Brownies, again took a couple tries to get right. The first time it just went hard and burned, the second was slightly better but still not great and then I got the ratios of ingredients just right and they were perfection! They were bouncy and SO chocolatey, even 3 days after I made them (because I couldn’t get to photograph them until then). My other half and his brother (who has no allergies) helped me taste test them and we finished the brownies in one sitting, they were that good!
Where You Can Buy the Book
If you are thinking of birthday or Christmas presents, or just a recipe book to add to your collection I would of course highly recommend my Chocolate Treats recipe book (how could I not?!).
I’ve aimed it at anyone who loves to bake, has multiple food allergies or wants to bake for someone with food allergies. All the instructions are easy to follow and you don’t need to buy any fancy equipment! I started off allergy free baking while I was at university so I wanted to keep it so that you could do it in any kitchen with just a bowl, a fork and an oven at the most basic level.
Along with the recipes I have also added lots of information about living with allergies, as well as links to resources that may be useful to you. Its about choosing to make allergy living your lifestyle choice rather than just something that was forced on you. I’ve found that making that choice makes it more manageable and absolutely more fun!
I wanted to make sure the book was as widely available as possible so I have published on:
It’s giveaway time! I have teamed up with Bakeit FreeFrom for a baking kit giveaway! All you need to do is answer this simple question and leave your answer in a comment below!
The question is: What would you be willing pay for 6 cupcakes?
Deadline: Tuesday 17th July at 5pm
*only for UK residents.
Make sure you keep an eye on your email inbox! I’ll be emailing the winner on Tuesday night to get your address so your prize can be posted to you on Wednesday!!
Bakeit Free From Cupcakes Review
A couple weeks ago the lovely team at Bakeit FreeFrom asked if I would be the subject for their cupcakes in the post trial. My first thought was just so long as the cupcakes are not free and gluten free, if they were, I was absolutely ok with being a test subject!
Unfortunately the weather was against us! The vegan chocolate butter cream couldn’t stand the heat.
I feel for Bakeit FreeFrom. When I first started Eat Allergy Safe (nee NM Cakes) I made allergy free cakes and fresh food. Posting cakes was something I did a huge amount of research into. How do you get the cupcakes to arrive in the condition they were finished in?? As we see from this experiment, Royal Mail and the heat didn’t help matters. However although presentation is important to a point, the taste is the deciding factor:
Below is a little video my boyfriend and I made while we were trying them for the first time:
The texture of the sponge was brilliant. It is so difficult to make gluten free, egg free and dairy free cakes that have a sponge exactly like ‘normal’ cakes as those of you will know who have my recipe book. However, these chocolate orange cupcakes I was sent were brilliant; the sponge was light, held together well and wasn’t stodgy.
The taste of the sponge was also good. One thing I hate about some allergy free cupcakes is how sweet they and usually leave a clawing after taste, but these didn’t. I would prefer more orange flavour in the sponge personally, but if you are making at home, you can add as much or as little as you like.
However I think my favourite part of the cupcake was the chocolate vegan buttercream. It reminded me of the Betty Crocker frosting you can get at the supermarket. Bakeit FreeFrom buttercream was pure indulgence and SO chocolate! I loved it 🙂
ALLERGY INFORMATION: the cupcakes are top 14 allergen free!! wahey!
Remember to Enter!
Remember to enter the flash giveaway by saying how much you would be willing to pay for 6 cupcakes in the comments below. Write your email in the box provided (it will stay hidden, only I can see it!!) and the winner will be emailed on Tuesday night!
Over the last 4 years I have been to the Allergy & Free From Show as a visitor, exhibitor and speaker. As an allergic person I am personally interested & invested in the show and rooting for its continued success and expansion. However there is one thing I’ve noticed that many exhibitors forget. They have forgotten the most important thing about their customers: they have severe food allergies and or coeliac disease.
You might think “that’s ridiculous, how can we forget about our target audience?” Well from personal experience, many businesses do.
As an allergy sufferer I know a business is not catering to my demographic (supposedly your target audience) when they cannot confidently tell me what ingredients are included in the food they are serving or the allergen information. Basically they have forgotten one of the most important parts of allergic living, not to mention not following EU rules.
Why The Allergy & Free From Show is Brilliant
For businesses, exhibitions are a brilliant place to interact with your target audience. If free from customers are your audience, the Allergy & Free From Show gather your ideal customers in one place. That’s why you as a business go to exhibitions after all.
You can not only reach potential new customers but also connect and build a stronger relationship with your current customers. You can also do market research. Many allergy parents and allergy sufferers want to tell you about themselves, their allergies and their needs. Most of the time companies will pay huge amounts of money for focus groups. The information you can gather at the show is a bonus!
Just listen to when I interviewed Elizabeth D Bakes, she confirms that as someone with no allergies herself the Allergy & Free From Shows were invaluable for her business to get to know their customers better!
Why You Are Shooting Yourself in the Foot
As someone with a life threatening allergy, when caterers or businesses “umm” and “ahh” about whether there are nuts in the food or a may contain, my automatic answer is “no, thanks” andI move on to the next place. (And this has happened pretty much every year I have visited the show unfortunately.)
The problem for you as a business is, I will tell my other allergy friends and my customers that your business has no idea what you are talking about and don’t bother trying. In that short interaction you have lost 1 customer for sure, and potentially whoever else I talk to…That could be a lot of customers in a day or a weekend.
I acknowledge I may not be your target audience, but if you are a advertising to be allergy friendly in some way, you need to know the facts of your product.
Even if I cannot eat your product, if you know your product ingredients and allergen information, I will thank you! If it’s not safe I would rather you tell me it’s not safe rather than bend the truth and I end up in hospital. (This is what I tell my coaching clients too.)
If you can be honest about what it is and isn’t free from, I would be more likely to recommend you to someone else I know who might enjoy your products even if I’m allergic. That little bit of preparation to know your product and talk to me, your customer, could have gained you customers.
What it All Comes Down To
It all comes down to trust. As I have just said, if an allergy sufferers cannot trust you they will not buy from you. Although you may be targeting the vegan market primarily, which usually has more disposable income to spend than the allergy community, to discount the allergy community completely simply on this point would be wrong.
The allergy community are the most loyal customers.
1️⃣ For one, allergies are often for life.
2️⃣ Second, when we know a product is safe, we will stick with you.
Two Sides to the Story…
Think about your own life. If you or your child likes a certain food, you will probably buy that brand over another when it’s convenient.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with life threatening allergies, if there is only one brand/product that won’t kill you or your child, you will stick with that product. When your friends, family, colleagues or your child’s school ask what they can buy for you thats safe you will say, “product xyz is safe, buy this one, don’t buy others.” Not only that, for allergy kids people will travel for that safe product, which in business terms means super customer which equals £$€.
This allergy customer could have found your product at the Allergy & Free From Show. They also now trust you because you took that little extra time to prepare and then talk to them. Now they are shouting your praises from the rooftops and tell everyone they know to buy your products. So you can see what a knock on effect just simply being clear on the ingredients and allergen information can do.
How You Can Prepare Your Business for Exhibiting at the Allergy and Free From Show
Know the ingredients of your product.
Know the allergen information and potential cross-contamination.
Know how each product is manufactured and potential cross-contamination risks (including supplier line).
If making fresh food at the exhibition, make sure your staff, after they’ve had a snack break or lunch, do not contaminate the food with allergens!
Train all your staff working at the exhibition on the above 4 points!
Have an allergen information sheet easily visible for people to look at.
Take the time to talk to your customers and answer their questions.
Be honest and truthful!
I will be speaking at the Allergy & Free From London 2018 on Friday 6th July 3pm on Travelling with Allergies and Sunday 8th July at 3pm about Beat Allergy Anxiety and Building Confidence. Come and say hi after one of my talks or if you see me walking around please introduce yourself 🙂
So, Allergy Awareness Week UK is over, and Allergy Awareness Month USA is here! During Allergy Awareness Week I got some messages asking about how to travel with allergies and live with allergies, this has spurred me on to develop the Allergy Coaching and make some e-books and resources. So to make sure these resources cover everything and that they are useful to you I have created a short 10 questions survey. Please can you fill it in with as much details as possible and pass it on to any other allergy mums or allergy sufferers you know?
Last week I published my Open Letter to Allergy Teenagers and it received an overwhelming amount of attention. It was part of a series of articles talking about different aspects of living with food allergies for Allergy Awareness Week 2018.
The post had a mixture of some positive, some negative and some comments which hurt me personally and made me question whether I’d gone too far. Especially as the most vehement comments came from people I had interviewed on the podcast, who had supported and shared my other posts and had never mentioned that they had a problem with what I said.
When the comments were coming in thick and fast I felt a bit like this…
Now that I’m over the personal nature of some of the comments (and I went through a whole gamut of emotions: shock, sadness and [lots of] anger), and feel of a more rational mind I wanted to respond to some of the valid points. Although many were accusatory and attacked my character, they raised an important issue surrounding how we help food allergy kids and teenagers feel empowered.
The Open Letter was inspired by an instagram post I saw last year and later compounded with conversations I had with kids & teenagers at the Allergy and Free From Show in Liverpool 2017.
Now first up, I admit the facebook post I wrote was inflammatory and as pointed out by a fellow allergy blogger, perhaps had a negative slant whereas the the article had a positive message, in her opinion.
Although there were in total about 28 comments on the post, these two get at the heart of the issue:
Commenter 1: “A 16 year old was expressing how she felt about her allergies at the time […] to actually judge her for her comments or any other comment you could be referencing now I feel is rather harsh […] Please assess this was the maturity it deserves. Don’t put people off sharing their thoughts on Allergy. Not everyone has the confidence to talk about it!”
These first comments I must admit took me by surprise. I hadn’t written it from a place to judgement or to berate, how could I judge those who feel now what I had felt before.
It is true when you are a teenager, your world feels like it is falling apart all the time. I remember how each conflict or challenge was life and death, the dramas were so real. Life is chaotic for teens!
As commenter 1 rightly says, “not everyone has the confidence to talk about their allergy” and how they feel about it. I certainly didn’t when I was a kid or a teenager!
Commenter 2: “We, the adults need to help them navigate their worries about fitting in […]and it is we who can show them that their allergies definitely do not define them. Less judgement for our vulnerable age group and more support in getting them where they need to be”
Commenter 2 is absolutely right, we as grown up allergy kids and allergy parents do need to lead by example and show kids and teenagers that allergies don’t have to define them if they choose not.
We do need to guide them and help them process the challenges of feeling like we belong, and what teenager truly knows where they belong? There are so many hormones and things (friendships, body, school etc) changing all the time!
Most teenagers are worried about “fitting in” and while most people will try and give advice for how they can fit in, I am suggesting rather than trying to “fit in” to someone else’s mould, make your own.
I question the idea of following the herd. Why we would we let our allergy teens settle for trying to “fit in.” Why wouldn’t we challenge, encourage and support teenagers to forge their own path in life?
And sometimes, when we are going against the flow, when we forge our own path, we have to bare our teeth or draw our sword. Just like dragon tamers. To bare our teeth is not about trying to start a fight, but to show those who might stand in our way, whether verbally or physically, that we mean business. That we mean what we say and are willing to stand up for ourselves.
My approach is different not wrong.I wrote the open letter in a way that, I hope, would encourage action.You might even apply this philosophy to not just how we live with allergies but life in general…
Unfortunately, these commenters blocked me on instagram in the end, which is sad because it ends the conversation. Without conversation we cannot move forward nor find ways to help our allergy kids and teens who don’t have the confidence to speak out when they need help.
There isn’t a one size fits all way to raise food allergy kids. Nor live with food allergies. We all live different lives, learning and adapting in our own way. My way might not be your way and vice versa. As such, discussions on these ideas are vital for us to help our allergy community and the many more children and adults who are developing allergies.
How do you help your allergy teens and kids? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.
Disclaimer: I annoyed my boyfriend for a week about this before I finally sorted out how to respond to the personal attacks vs idealogical attacks. I have done my best to separate them and present as rational a response as possible and leave out those feelings that could divulge this post into a slinging match.
To read my posts from Allergy Awareness Week UK, including my open letter, click on the links below:
Life is more than food allergies. They won’t stop you from reaching your goals, but it’s up to you to not let them. Today, for the first time, I reveal how I know that life is more than food allergies…
If you want something, you should make it the focus. Food allergies are just one of life’s challenges, but not everything in life is about allergies. To focus on allergens is to put allergies into the forefront of your life. If you don’t want allergies to be the focus or the goal of your life, then don’t make them the only thing you think about.
When I go to the Allergy & Free From Shows in London & Liverpool, parents visiting the stand often say to me “I assume allergies isn’t the only thing you do” and I answer “no it isn’t but I have chosen to make it a focal point. I’ve done all the normal stuff: school trips, parties, university, going travelling etc and I have other interests too.”
Today I’m sharing the other part of my life with you. I wouldn’t be able to achieve it if I let every fear and worry about my allergies stop me from trying to achieve it.
I am training as a Ballroom and Latin dancer (you know, like Strictly!), specialising in Latin American. As of Easter weekend my partner and I are now the reigning European Pre-Amateur under 35 latin American champions!
Winning U35 Pre-amateur Latin Trophy at the European Championships held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
If I worried about my allergies all the time I would have never of tried ballroom and latin because Think of all the cross-contamination risks!! People eating nuts and then holding my hand. Then the worrying about asking people to change their habits for me and what if they don’t?
Of course I get concerned, but it’s simple to solve. Every dance partner I’ve ever had, in our first practice together (or before) I tell them I am severely allergic to all nuts and please would then not eat nuts when they are going to dance with me because I can’t dance with otherwise. I have never had a partner say they wouldn’t and if they did, I would certainly know they are not the right partner for me!!
Allergies had nothing to do with my dancing, actually they didn’t impact it all because I made sure my allergy fears didn’t get the better of me. I took all the proper precautions (checking ingredients labels, my partner didn’t eat nuts etc), and I had a dream. Sometimes you just have to take a leap into the unknown and actively not let your allergy rule your life.
Thanks for joining me for Allergy Awareness Week 2018. I hope you’ve enjoyed the the last 4 articles. I’ve covered topics close to my heart because life isn’t all about allergies, it’s just sometimes you have to do things differently. If you haven’t read the other articles make sure you check them out #1 – What allergies are not, #2 – Build confidence in your food allergy kids, #3 – backpacking with allergies and #4 – Open letter to allergy teens.
So you’ve read my story and you’ve been following my posts over Allergy Awareness Week 2018. I know life is more than allergies and now I want to help you know that yours and your food allergy kid’s lives are too! For this reason I started Allergy Coaching.
Allergy Coaching is about having someone in your corner to teach and coaching through allergy challenges to help build your confidence and so you can empower your food allergy kid.
To find out more about Allergy Coaching and book your complimentary 15 minute consultation send me an email via the contact page today.