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Vegan Double Choc Cherry Brownies – dairy free, egg free, nut free, using Splenda

Vegan Double Choc Cherry Brownies – dairy free, egg free, nut free, using Splenda

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Brownies With Those You Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s the day to celebrate love. What a wonderful idea, well I think so now.

I was a bit of a cynic when I was younger I must say, but now I’m all for it. This is because I think Valentine’s Day isn’t just limited to a romantic other, but to everyone special in your life. Your siblings, mum, dad, extended family and your friends! Valentine’s Day is for everyone.

When you have allergies you realise how important these other people are, and I’m going to tell you a little story about just that.

While I was on holiday in New York City I visited an old school friend, the fashion photographer Phoebe Cheong. We were in Brooklyn and need to grab some food. A deli we were passing looked ok, so we went in. I usually choose something I see as naturally nut free but this time I got a little shy about asking questions about whether a food had nuts in. Then (without me saying anything) she chimed in too!

“Does this have any nuts in? Because my friend is really allergic.”

She made sure the shop assistant was paying attention.

I have to say it got me a little emotional. I don’t often get shy about my allergy but when I do I’m bawled over when my friends protect and speak up for me.

Valentine’s Day Activities

When we were at school together we were always doing something creative, and it usually had something to do with photography and or food. If I were with her right now we’d probably be baking, I’ve even created a recipe in my new cookbook inspired by her. (And we baked it together in NYC, video coming soon s watch this space.) She bakes allergy safe with me even though she doesn’t have any allergies. If she were here now I’d be trying out this gorgeous brownie recipe the lovely people at Splenda sent over.

Not to mention, amidst the Peter Rabbit Movie and allergy-bullying drama, it’s quite nice to have a chocolatey distraction.This recipe is dairy free, egg free and nut free – fantastic! – but unfortunately the recipe isn’t gluten free…at least not yet!

Making the Recipe Gluten Free

When I’m baking with friends we always work out how to make the recipe so that it is free from everything I can’t eat. I’m usually the difficult one :p. This recipe is doing pretty well so far, but just the gluten needs adjusting. So how can we do that?

What you’ve got to know about gluten free flours is that they can be very thirsty and that makes the batter dry. For brownies you want them to be moist and gooey. You can’t always exchange gluten containing flour weight for weight with gluten free flour. What I have found useful as a guide, is reduce the total flour weight by a third. For example if the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour I use 2/3 cup of gluten free flour. Or if the recipe calles for 90g flour I use 60g of gluten free flour. I add a little at a time and stir. This way if I can monitor what is actually the right amount. If the batter is a little dry, then I add a touch of water to loosen up the batter.

Finding Allergy Safe Ingredients

You can use any pre blended gluten free flour mix you can find in the shops such as Dove’s Farm or Bob’s Red Mill, but my favourite by far is Free From Fairy’s Gluten Free Flour blend , you’ll need the plain flour for this recipe!

For dairy free (and nut free!!) chocolates my favourite brands are Plamil and Cocoa Libre.

Oh! and don’t forget the Splenda!

Checking Ingredients

When you’re buying ingredients, make sure you always check the ingredients and for allergy warnings to make sure products are safe for you!

What Allergy Safe Baking Is All About

Allergy safe baking is all about having a go. It may seem daunting at first, but you can always have fun, not to mention treats at the end! Get your friends and family involved or bake up a batch of these brownies to share. The more your friends and family get used to allergy safe, the more you’ll show them it’s easy and absolutely delicious!

Have an amazing time in the kitchen and enjoy your luscious brownies!

Vegan Double Choc Cherry Brownies

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons of sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 210g dairy-free dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup SPLENDA® Sugar Alternative, Granulated
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dried cherries

·  Method

  • In bowl over simmering water, heat the chocolate until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk in SPLENDA® Granulated until smooth. Whisk in the mashed banana and vanilla.
  • Mix flour with baking powder; stir into SPLENDA® Granulated mixture in two additions just until combined. Fold in dairy-free chocolate chips and cherries.
  • Spread in greased 8-inch (2 litre) square metal cake pan.
  • Bake in 180°C oven for about 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.
  • Let cool; cut into squares.

(N.B. This post is in collaboration with Splenda but all thoughts are my own.)

 

Want some more inspiration for Valentine’s day baking? Check out the other great recipes by the wonderful Free From Gang Bloggers:

The Best Gluten-Free All Butter Shortbread from Vicki at The Free From Fairy (GF, EF, NF, SF, Low Fodmap, Low Sugar)
Creamy Vegan Tiramisu Dessert (Top 14 free) from Midge at Peachicks Bakery (DF, EF, GF, NF, PF, SyF & Ve)
Vegan Valentines Biscuits from Emma at Free From Farmhouse (Ve, DF, SF, NF EF)
Raspberry Coconut Dark Chocolate Hearts from Nova at Cherished by Me (Ve, DF, GF, NF, EF, SF)
Fruit and Nut Chocolate Truffles from Rebecca at Glutarama (GF, DF, EG, SF, Ve)
His and Hers Vegan Valentine Parfaits from Jo at Modern Food Stories (Ve, DF, RSF, NF, GF, Grain free, EF)
Allergen Free Valentine’s Day Biscuits from Lauren at Dilan and Me (Vegan, DF, SF, EF, GF, NF)
Still to come…
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‘Love Bites’ or ‘Love, Bites:’ Advice for Lovers and Allergy Sufferers on Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day ingredients warning

How could I start a post about allergies without a product warning. It is a persistent factor in the lives of allergy sufferers. If you were unaware before, welcome to the world of allergies.

Allergies are on the rise and that means the number of people affected by allergies are also on the rise. Just because you don’t personally have an allergy doesn’t mean you won’t be affected.

As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching many of you might be wondering how can I celebrate and still stay allergy safe? Or, what do I do when my boyfriend/girlfriend has an allergy but I don’t?

Having an allergy, however mild or severe, is not as difficult to manage as you might think. Think about it this way:

If you have ever shared a flat or house before I’m sure you will remember the person who didn’t do their dishes. The mountain of crockery rising to epic proportions as it became populated with flying creatures settling on the moist furry mould. While they may have been exercising their botanical interest, you were probably exercising you patience to it’s last straw. Another common one is replacing the toilet roll if you finish it. Using the toilet is quite a relief, but this sense of satisfaction sinks like a lead balloon when all you see is the brown cardboard innard,..Worse still, there’s probably no one home…

Allergies are much the same. It is common courtesy to wash your dirty dishes and replace the toilet roll. If you know someone with an allergy, washing your hands and mouth, and not putting allergens (dirty dishes) in their path is just common courtesy. The main difference is this time you’ll save a life, and not just your house mates patience.

Love frog on bed

Advice for lovers and non-allergy sufferers

In the last few years there have been a number of parodies of allergic reactions.  From Will Smith’s elephant face in Hitch and Jennifer Lopez botox lips in Monster in Law. These actors the cartoon-like gag of the allergic reaction scene: freaking out, running around like a crazy people or getting a little woozy on antihistamines.

I suppose these movies do have a point, they highlight the quickness of allergic reactions and so you have to be equally quick. Unlike the scenes in these movies, if your special someone starts to swell up like a balloon, go straight to hospital!

Yes, it will most likely put a dampener on the romantic mood. Rather than candles you’ll have the fluorescent strip lighting of the hospital A&E (ER for any readers across the pond). Rather than sweet caresses, you’ll most likely be holding their hand as they have injections or holding hair back while they’re throwing up. There is one upside though, you would get to spend lots of time together, maybe even the night, but perhaps not quite as you imagined…

If you really want your magic night to happen the way you planned then do all you can to avoid an allergic reaction.

Here are 5 pieces of advices to start you off:

1. Ask about your special person’s allergies

Forewarned is fore-armed. The best way to know what to do and what to avoid, is to ask. Asking the allergy sufferer is the best way to learn how to keep them safe. Find out what they’re allergic to and where to find allergens in every day items so you can avoid them.

If you’re unsure still then have a google. The NHS website, Anaphylaxis Campaign and Allergy UK all have useful information to help you too.

2. Don’t go somewhere likely to have the allergens

If you’re deciding where to spend your Valentine’s Day activity use common sense. Avoid places where the allergen is likely to be present with a high risk of cross-contamination. Some examples:

(This list is non exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of some of the more obvious places or things to avoid. If in doubt, ask!)

Allergens and where to avoid

3. Check the label on everything!

Whether you are buying a gift or making a romantic dinner at home, check the label for allergens on everything. This includes all the things you assume wouldn’t have a warning too, items such as cooking oils, snack bags, dips, lotions, shampoo, cologne/perfume, drinks, everything. There are warnings on the most unexpected items. Always ask your date about what he/she thinks about a warning. They will have final say. But, if in doubt, leave it out (N.B. doesn’t apply to ‘protection’ but even those can be a problem… keep reading to find out, or skip ahead here).

4. Avoid coming into contact with allergens

I make a few assumptions about you because you are reading this article: 1) you are going on a date, 2) your date has an allergy, 3) you like who you are going on a date with, and 4) you would like to get to know them better. 

In order to achieve number 4 you need to keep yourself available. You will make yourself unavailable if you contaminate yourself. Contamination can occur through eating, touching, using or generally coming into contact with an allergen. The allergen you will need to avoid will be whatever your date is allergic to. You will have found this out by talking to your date. (See tip 1 for more.)

Needless to say, contamination will most likely inhibit or entirely prevent activities such as hand holding, kissing, canoodling and other romantic gestures. You will have successfully transported yourself back to in time to when even holding hands was a saucy move.

5. Don’t panic

Yes, even after all this information don’t panic. You are going on a date with someone you like! Get excited! Let them guide you through their allergy. Don’t worry or be insulted if they ask you not to eat or do something, they are asking you because it may contain something they are allergic to. It’s not about being difficult or making a fuss, they are just doing what they need to to stay healthy and keep the romantic mood flowing, allergy free.

6. Bonus point: Take you mind off trying to impress

One good thing about allergies are that you’ll most likely be so worried about potentially killing your date, that you’ll forget about trying to impress him/her. Goodbye first date nerves! (Hello ohmygodI’mgoingonadatebutIreallydon’twanttokillmydateormakethemsick nerves, I’m only joking! It will be fine!)

What to do now?

The good stuff

Have a read of the rest of this article. You’ll get to understand what allergy sufferers think about and some very important information regarding safe sex and dairy and latex allergies.

Frogs in love

Don’t let allergies get in the way of your love life.

Advice for allergy sufferers

On a day to day basis we allergy sufferers have our guard up. We dearly want to relax not having to explain what we’re allergic to and that “yes, it does matter if the same chopping board was used,” and “yes a little will send me to hospital and seriously inconvenience my health and my day.”

I’m sorry to tell you that Valentine’s Day is no different, you have to be equally vigilant. However this does not have to stop you from getting your flirt on with your hot date.

Want to know how? It’s easy, you just have to keep being you. You stayed alive and healthy long enough to read this article and to be going a date. So you just need to keep doing what you’re doing. 😉

The following 5 tips are cheering you on on your allergy journey and rooting for your hot date!

1. Be confident

The reason you are going on this date is because your date likes you! Allergies are just a part of the package so they will just have to get used to it. (If they don’t, or complain, which I very much hope they won’t, seriously consider whether you want to go on this date.) Your life is more important that impressing someone or making them feel better just because you have an allergy and it may be inconvenient.

2. Tell your hot date about your allergies

You’ll feel less pressure if your hot date knows about your allergies before hand. Try dropping your allergy facts into conversation when you’re talking at work, texting, emailing, or on social media. This way your date is forewarned. You’re also giving them the opportunity to ask you questions (which means more talking to each other – wahey!) and help keep you safe – if they do, they’re probably a keeper!

3. Eat in or eat out? Make sure you are aware of possible allergens.

There are always risks with allergies. If you decide to eat out be sure to avoid high risk restaurants.

E.g. If you’re allergic to peanuts avoid south east asian restaurants, if you’re allergic to shellfish avoid fish restaurants. I mean come on, you might be in love, but you haven’t lost your brain cells!

If you’re going out, call the restaurant before to let them know you’re coming and what you’re allergies are. When you’re there make sure the waiters and kitchen know about your allergies and they write them down when they take your order.

The other alternative is eat in. Not only is it more cosy, you can keep a closer eye on what is being cooked and how. You can offer to do the cooking or suggest cooking together. If you do cook together this is a perfect opportunity to teach your hot date about your allergy in a safe and friendly environment.

4. Ask your hot date to remain attractive by avoiding allergens

Cross contamination is a big issue and it doesn’t just occur in the kitchen. Cross contamination can happen when in contact with another person, for example holding hands, kissing and allergens on clothing can also pose risks of allergic reactions.

I don’t know about you but the possibility of swelling up like a balloon is a complete turn off. So keep yourself safe by asking your date to avoid allergens the day you’re going to see them.

5. Make sure you have your medical kit!

The one thing you are probably never without, your medical kit. Whatever yours includes (adrenaline auto-injector pens, inhalers, piriton etc), make sure Valentine’s Day is a day like no other. When you’re on your date, your allergy will probably come up at some point. This is a perfect time to show your medical kit and show them how to use it. By getting them involved you are showing that you trust them with you, from they’re reaction you’ll definitely know whether you want to go on a second date with them or not.

Whatever happens, remember to have fun and enjoy yourself, it’s a hot date after all!

What to do now?

The good stuff

Have a read of the rest of this article. You’ll get to understand what non allergy sufferers are worried about and some very important information regarding safe sex and dairy and latex allergies.

Frogs in love in bed

For the adults: Safe SEX! 

Dairy and Latex Allergies Beware

Should you have got through the meal with no hiccups, had a little smooch and are ready to move to the next level, make sure you are prepared. Now I do not just mean make sure your bedroom is tidy, clean sheets, housemates are out (my boyfriend says male equivalent is ‘sock on the door’) and you’ve got breakfast in the fridge. I mean make sure you use protection. If you are using condoms as protection and one of you has a dairy or latex allergy take note: condoms are usually made from latex (rubber) and many contain dairy. Always read the ingredients label!

In the introduction to this article I mentioned how ending up in A&E can be a mood dampener, or extinguisher. But the inconvenience of an allergic reaction to latex or dairy, apart from possible anaphylactic shock and death, (readers I may seem flippant, but you should know I take anaphylaxis very seriously; my EpiPens, piriton and inhalers are with me at all times), is the possibility of sitting for many hours in the hospital uncomfortably… If your throat swells, you fear for your life. If your…down there…swells, I imagine you will fear for future lives*…

So, be pre-prepared.

Post-Coital Allergic Reactions*

Not that I am trying to scare you readers, but just for your information, there have been a couple instances of allergic reactions after sex. These reactions, the doctors can only surmise, have come through allergen proteins in semen. It will be up to the consenting adults to decide on what to do in this case.

For information, please refer to articles here, here, and here for more information.

Despite what may seem like a lot of information to digest, living with allergies is manageable. It is very possible to live happy, healthy, normal lives.  We are capable of loving, we are capable of being clumsy, we are very capable at looking after ourselves. We just ask that care is taken over us because every day items can be the difference between life and death. But who knows when our time is at an end, it could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be in 100 years. Who knows!

And I’ll be damned if I get killed by a peanut.

After all, we allergy sufferers like the same things you do; going to the movies, eating treats, playing games, seeing our friends,

We’re just ordinary people

 

 

*Please note I am not a doctor nor have any medical training (apart from how to use my EpiPens on myself. Allergies affect different people in different ways. It is always better to be safe than sorry. All advice in this article is based on personal experience, friends experiences, and research on living with allergies. Please always consult a medical professional.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on the subject. Please leave a comment below 🙂

 

Nina

 

 

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