Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Free From Creamy Iced Vanilla Dessert - New at Tesco!!


A new dairy free ice cream... from Tesco's own Free From label!!

I was alerted to this on Twitter the other day (sorry I can't remember who, if it was you, please let me know)! So, off I went... to hunt some out!!

Details! Details!

It's not exactly a huge tub, there's 500ml in the tub - whereas you get 750ml in a tub of Swedish Glace... I only compare it to Swedish Glace because it's a popular dairy free ice cream, which is pretty good value.

BUT!! Unlike Swedish Glace (which I gather is not only great value, but also a good dupe for vanilla ice cream), not only is it dairy free, and gluten free, it is also SOYA FREE as well!!

AND, like Swedish Glace, it's a great deal cheaper than some of the other dairy and soya free frozen desserts out there - it's only £2.00 a tub!!


Here it is!

So what's it made with, you might well wonder!?

What's in it??

Water, Coconut Oil, Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Lupin, Protein Isolate, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Emulsifier (Mono- and Di- Glycerides of Fatty Acids), Colours (Calcium Carbonate, Beta Carotene), Stabilisers (Locust Bean Meal, Guar Gum), Salt, Flavouring, Vanilla Powder.

May contain nuts.

From looking at the ingredients list, it is obvious that a lot of processed ingredients have gone into this product, however, what concerns me more, is the addition of Lupin. This ingredient has not been used much in the UK, until quite recently, but is an ingredient commonly used in Europe in gluten free products. As it has become more widely used, it has emerged as quite an allergenic substance - which is why it appears in the EU's list of top 14 allergens. So if you are a multiple allergy sufferer, just take care, in case you turn out to be allergic to Lupin too! *

However, on the positive side, this is a Free From product that is egg free too - as a lot of dairy free folks are also unable to have eggs, this is a great move!

BUT what a shame that, as a Free From product, this ice cream could not somehow have been made nut free too - too many Free From products are not, and here's another one that isn't. I really feel for the nut allergic on this one.

I enjoyed my ice cream with fresh strawberries

What's it taste like?

Well, here's  the thing - it's a long time since I've eaten it - but... well... funnily enough... vanilla ice cream!! 


I'm not a fan, I've decided of vanilla ice creams flavoured with fruit juice - they tend to taste too fruity, rather than purely of vanilla, so this was just right for me, personally.

The way I like it - plain and simple!

To be sure that I was testing it right, I tried it alongside some British strawberries (not sugared or flavoured in any way). AND before I even took a single bite of strawberry, I tasted the iced dessert, and yes, I'm sure it tasted just the same as I remember ice cream tasting last time I ate it!! 

Obviously I haven't taste tested Swedish Glace properly (I once took a sneaky lick, which wasn't enough to affect me) so I couldn't properly tell, but I think they taste pretty similar.

Unlike Swedish Glace, this dairy free ice cream doesn't yet have companions with other flavours, but hopefully they will come along pretty soon! 

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for a dairy and soya free cookie dough ice cream (Hint! Hint!)!!

Related posts:

Other posts about dairy free substitutes can be found by following this link.

* For more information about Lupin Allergy, follow this link.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Dairy Free Gluten Free Soya Free Autumnal Apple Crumble and Custard

With the nights drawing in, and an autumnal nip in the air, thoughts inevitably turn to comfort food! What could be better than a traditional autumnal fruit crumble and yummy custard??

'Baby' finally, I'm delighted to say, has taken to one of my favourite puds - apple crumble!! And I am truly delighted, because for one thing I can get to eat pudding again (it's no fun just making it for yourself) and for another it means I'm getting a little bit more fruit inside her!!

The recipe I use is based on my parents' favourite formula (my Dad is just as likely to make it as my mum), with a slight twist that comes from my sister-in-law!!

I hope you don't feel like I'm teaching you to suck eggs, as it were, but if you are new to going dairy free, you may not yet have contemplated making your old family favourites with your new dairy free substitutes!

This recipe can be shared between three ramekins.

To begin with you need:

2 large Bramley apples
1 dessert apple (Gala or similar)
1 knob of dairy free margarine (Pure, Vitalite or similar)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 tablespoons water

A couple of handfuls of blackberries could replace one of the Bramley apples for yet another autumnal favourite.

I also like rhubarb and apple crumble, but that is made strictly for me, as 'Baby' doesn't do rhubarb and neither does The Hub!! If I was making rhubarb crumble, I would replace the Bramley apples with two large stalks of rhubarb and would cut them into large chunks.


1. First you peel, core and cut the apple into small chunks.

Make sure your chunks of apple are a reasonable size, if you don't want a complete mush!

2. Add all the ingredients to a pan and simmer gently for about 15/20 mins with the odd stir to soften. 

3. Spoon between three ramekins and set aside.

Fill the ramekins about two thirds full, with your fruit mixture.

Next you need:

4 oz     plain flour (I use Doves Farm gluten free)
2.5 oz  dairy free margarine (Pure, Vitalite or similar)
2 oz     sugar

Crumble Method:

1. First turn on your oven and set the temperature to 180 degrees C.

2. Rub the fat into the flour, using the tips of your fingers, to make crumbs. I tend to make these quite rough crumbs, as you really need to work quite fast with dairy free margarine - it becomes quite soft very quickly. It helps if your hands are cool and it's not too hot in your kitchen!

3. Stir in the sugar,using a metal spoon. You can at this stage also add some oats or crushed nuts. I personally love the rustic look, but my little one likes her crumble texture free!

4. Spread over a grease proof paper covered tray and place in the oven for about 5-10 minutes - just to toast slightly (this is the tip from my sister-in-law, who likes her crumble crispy and not soggy!).

Spread it out quite thinly, so that your crumble topping can toast

5. Spoon over the apple in the ramekins.

Now, at this point, I usually place one ramekin in the oven to cook, to eat that day; another ramekin is covered with cling wrap and placed in the fridge, whilst the final one is wrapped and placed in the freezer.

6. The crumble is cooked in the oven at 180 degrees C for about 20 mins, until the top is golden brown. When cooking the crumble from the fridge, it's wise to place the ramekin in the oven before you turn it on - to allow the dish to warm up with the oven - otherwise the dish may crack. 

7. Whilst the crumble is cooking, make the custard!

Good to go!

For the custard, you will need:

2 tbsp. instant custard powder
1 pint of dairy free milk (I use Koko or almond milk - almond milk makes a thinner custard)
2 tbsp golden syrup

Custard Method:

1. Heat your dairy free milk, over a medium heat in a non-stick pan.

2. Mix the custard powder and a couple of tablespoons of dairy free milk, in a heat proof jug (Pyrex or similar).

3. As the bubbles begin to form around the edge of the milk in the pan, remove the pan from the heat and pour the heated milk onto the custard mix. Note: don't try to add the mix to the milk - you will have a disastrous mess on your hands! I know because I've done it - just the once, because once is enough!

4. Mix well, with a metal spoon, and return to the pan. 

5. Continue to heat on a medium heat. Keep stirring with a wooden or silicone spatula or spoon, as the custard begins to thicken, but please note, almond milk will not thicken as much as Koko coconut milk. To counter this, you can use more custard powder at the custard powder stage, but your custard will taste more powdery, as a result! Almond milk may also make your custard have a slightly grey tinge to it, but it still tastes really good!

6. Once the custard has thickened to your liking, pour it into a heat proof serving jug. Please note: the custard may thicken slightly, as it cools.

7. Serve and enjoy! Any left over custard can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days and reheated in your microwave.

Alternative serving tip:

If you can't be faffed to make custard, Alpro custard made with soya is available in cartons in the free from section of most supermarkets. You can now also buy Oatly, oat-based custard in the free from fridge section at larger branches of Tesco.

Much as I love apple crumble with custard, if I can't be faffed to make my custard (I can't tolerate soya and Oatly isn't gluten free), I love mine with a good dollop of Co-yo yoghurt - it's thick and creamy and goes well with a slightly tart fruit dessert. 

'Baby'? well if there's no custard to hand, she prefers hers with a dairy free vanilla ice cream!

Related Post:

Heaven in a mouthful - Co-yo dairy free, soya free yoghurt

For more Dessert ideas, see this page:

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Finding the perfect formula for the dairy free baby

Breast is best, right? 

Well, I am a big fan of breastfeeding, BUT sometimes our boobs don't work, or we have to go back to work, or we don't produce enough milk, or... well for a hundred and one reasons, there are times when for some reason or another, with the best will in the world, we need a formula to feed our little ones.

In my case, it was because I had such painfully cracked nipples, that for a while, I needed to ease up a bit on breast feeding and top up with formula.

If you've just discovered your baby is allergic to cow's milk, you might wonder what on earth you can feed your little one - after all the only alternative to breast milk is cow's milk formula, right??

Well, not quite!!

There are formulas that are suitable for a dairy free baby

There are some options out there, that might be suitable for your little one!

Before we explore them, though, let me make it quite clear that contrary to what some might say, you do NOT have to give up breast feeding if you discover your little one is allergic to milk. You may have to remove dairy from your diet whilst you're still breastfeeding - as the proteins from cow's milk can pass through your breast milk (although this is not necessarily true of everyone, as your body breaks down the proteins to some extent), but it can be done. I know, because I have done it! Check out these posts, by following this link, if that's what you wish to do. 

What's out there:

Soya Formula

There are formulas that are completely dairy free, such as SMA's Wysoy, which is made from soya. Soya has been a popular non-dairy choice for years, because the proteins are so similar. However, because they are so similar, a large percentage of children with an allergy to cow's milk, might also be allergic to soya.  

The other problem with soya, is that concern has been expressed about phytoestrogens - naturally occurring oestrogen contained within soya. Because of this, soya formula is not recommended by the BDA for any babies under 6 months of age, or any boys under the age of one. The concerns are that the plant oestrogen could affect boys' future fertility or prolong girls' future menstruation.

Also soya milk contains glucose, which can cause tooth decay. Lactose (the sugar contained in mammalian milk) does not.

Extensively Hydrolysed Milk Formula

If your baby has been diagnosed with a cow's milk allergy they may be prescribed what is known as an 'extensively hydrolyzed milk formula' of EHF, such as Nutramigen 1 or Aptamil Pepti. These milk formulas are made with cow's milk, but the proteins in the milk have been broken down into tiny pieces, to enable children with milk allergy to cope with them. They come in two kinds - either whey-based (which also contains lactose) or casein-based. A dietitian or allergy specialist should be able to work out which is best for your little one. 

Most babies with cows milk protein allergy (around 90%) will be fine with formulas such as these, but sometimes babies with a milk allergy are so sensitive, that they cannot even cope with a hydrolysed formula - in which case they may be prescribed an AAF - amino acid formula.

Hypoallergenic Amino Acid Formula

An amino acid formula, such as the one prescribed our baby (Nutramigen AA) does not contain cow's milk protein at all, but amino acids - the bits (often referred to as the 'building blocks') that make up protein. Because this formula does not contain milk protein it is also lactose free. If you want to know exactly what is in a formula such as Puramino (formerly known as Nutramigen AA), see here. It makes for interesting reading!!

The other formula you are likely to come across in the UK is by Neocate - LCP.

These formulas are the first line of medication only for severe cases of milk allergy. If your GP informs you he/she cannot prescribe it, until it has been recommended by a specialist, this could be because their local prescribing guidelines dictate that they are only to be prescribed in secondary care.

Plant-based Milks

So-called 'Plant-based Milks,' such as almond or coconut, are not considered suitable as a main milk drink before the age of 2. This is because they do not provide enough calories, protein, or the desirable balance of vitamins and minerals required by the very young. They may however be used in small amounts, in food, once you have started weaning, providing your children is not allergic to any of the ingredients.

Points to note:

1. The first formula that you are prescribed may not be the right one for your baby. So if it does not seem to work for your little one, keep talking to your Doctor/Dietitian, they can probably try your baby with another. However, bear in mind, also, that it may take days or even weeks for the effects of the cow's milk protein to disappear. Another thing to note is that these formulas may cause your baby's poo to be a bit loose and appear a bit green!

2. Around six months a baby's bitter taste buds develop. It can be harder to introduce a formula at this stage, as breast milk is naturally sweeter. 'Baby' went off her formula around this time. Although our dietitian tried to help by introducing another formula, she didn't take to it. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware (at that stage) of how it was possible to gradually introduce a new milk, or that it is possible to try and disguise the taste with flavouring such as a non-alcohol based vanilla extract (apparently breast milk tastes like vanilla - see here).

3. Plant-based milks, such as Koko, Oatly or similar, are not suitable as a main milk drink for babies. This is because milk is the means by which babies gain all (pre-weaning) or most (up to the age of one) of their nutrition. Plant-based milks do not contain enough calories, or other essential nutrients. You will need a prescribed milk formula for children under the age of one, who are not being breast fed. 

4. Goat milk formula, such as 'Nanny Care,' is not considered suitable for children with a cow's milk protein allergy, because the proteins are so similar. In one study, 94% of children who were allergic to cow's milk, were also allergic to goat's milk.

5. Some other potential drawbacks with hypoallergenic formulas are outlined here.

Related post:

Further Reading: 

Suitable Milks for Children with Cow's Milk Allergy - BDA Fact Sheet

Living with cow's milk allergy - what do I feed my baby?

Suitable infant formula for babies allergic to cow's milk 

NHS Choices - Can I give my baby soya-based milk formula? 

Find a formula that's right for your baby - Baby Centre

Friday, 19 September 2014

A spoonful of medicine... and an allergic reaction!!

What a fortnight it's been!!

Yes, that's right a fortnight!! That's more or less how long 'Baby' has been ill. 

During this time, we have been attempting to clear and complete a sale on our old flat. It's not been easy with a small child who should be at school, is decidedly unwell, is in excruciating pain and is refusing to take her medicine!!

According to Mary Poppins, 

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down...

Hmm! Practically perfect in every way, Mary Poppins may be, but I beg to differ!!

Our attempts to get 'Baby' to take any spoonful of medicine have been met with the kinds of shrieks and howls that might well cause any well-meaning neighbour to ring the police, in order to prevent a murder being committed. 

We needed to give her Nurofen to take her fever down (and Calpol at times too) as well as antibiotics and that's where the fun began!

That was when it became apparent that 'Baby' was reacting to her Penicillin.

When the Doctor first prescribed antibiotics, I was hoping they wouldn't be needed! After all I was still digesting the news on the BBC Horizon programme the other week - about how early use of antibiotics might contribute to developing food allergies.

However, the ear infection clearly wasn't going to go away, so reluctantly we forced (yes forced) some into our little one (some came back out again). When small red spots appeared on her cheek, an hour or so after the first dose, I wasn't too concerned. There was a red patch on her cheek that tends to appear when her body is fighting something off, so I just assumed the virus that she was also battling was entering another phase.

Her heavy eyes and doziness I just put down to her needing to catch up on the sleep she had missed due to unsettled nights, her aching limbs to the virus...

Until she had her next (hard fought) dose!!

The rash spread  quickly over her entire trunk, the heavy eyes and doziness returned, her face and lips went puffy. That's when we became alarmed and started Googling and came to the conclusion that it was either the virus or a reaction. Thing is, it couldn't be a reaction to milk - there was none in the medicine (yes, you do need to check medicines as well), our suspicion was the penicillin!

As she wasn't wheezing, we let her sleep... until the morning. 

It was a Saturday, and we were miles from home.

Despite the urgent need to shift our possessions from our old flat, The Hub had to whisk 'Baby' off to an out-of-hours appointment and the allergic reaction was confirmed. 

No more penicillin, for 'Baby!'

The good thing was that the Doctors were surprised that, given her age, this was her first experience of antibiotics. The bad thing was that the replacement medicine had it's problems too! It gave her a sore mouth and she couldn't get it down.

The second lot of antibiotics also went to waste!

The next out-of-hours Doctor was quite stern. 'Baby' HAD to have antibiotics to get well. The new medicine HAD to work. Well, I knew that, but the problem was how to get her to accept it!!

It tasted awful!

'Baby' was having none of it!

She squealed the house down, fought like crazy, clenched her teeth, covered her mouth with her hand and refused every attempt to take a spoon. NO bribe was sufficient - however much she wanted the reward, once faced with the medicine, all bets were off! There was no point injecting it with a syringe - it just came back out again! 

Reasoning, even the pain from her ear... nothing would move 'Baby' to accept the medicine.

Neither would giving it to her in lots of tiny drops washed down each time by water (which was how we persuaded her to take the Nurofen).

The Hub and I were desperate!! We felt scarred by the fight over the medicine!! No decent parent wants to cause their child such awful distress!!

Finally, we opted for mixing the medicine with something else. First her soya milk, which didn't work, then some chocolate Koko! Although it still wasn't palatable, this worked... in combination with threats of the syringe, and a fair bit of bribery (she now has quite a collection of Shopkins - don't ask) and sometimes even a spoonful of ice cream, or a bite of something sweet to follow each sip!!!

Chocolate milk works better than sugar!

But it worked!

Not a spoonful of sugar, but a CUPFUL of Koko helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down...  (sing along now) 

Yes, yes, I may well have cracked, but after the fortnight I've had, who could blame me??

Now I'm after some decent dairy free probiotics - after all, we've got to look after the all important gut bacteria... I've heard Biogaia are good... and you can buy them on Amazon!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

We're going through changes - the dairy free 'Baby' starts school!!!

Well, that's it, then!

'Baby' is really definitely NOT a baby any more! 

Yesterday she started school!!!!

That might shock some of you - after all, the blog is called Dairy Free Baby and Me, isn't it? 

As she was - nearly five years ago!

BUT the eagle-eyed among you, or those who have read my Twitter bio, may have spotted references from time-to-time which have given the game away.

The thing is, I originally called this blog 'Dairy Free Baby and Me' because that's where those of us who have little ones with milk allergies begin the journey - whilst they're so small and new and we're so unprepared for it! I wanted to help others who arrived (as we did) bang, smack right in the middle of dairy free territory without a map, guide or reference point! 

Having given yourself a blog title, you then have to kind of stick with it - so people know who you are! My way around this, was to stick 'Baby' in inverted commas, to make clear it's an identity, rather than a description! But I've no idea how clear you found it!

Me, on the other hand, I'm all too aware of how my little one is growing and developing. 'Baby' has most definitely not been a baby for some time now - walking, talking and growing in height as well as independence!!

So now I'm torn.

I'm torn between rejoicing in the fact that despite her milk allergy she's developed so well (another parent complimented me on this, just today, in fact)  and in the fact that I finally have ME back - head space, time to THINK, sort, throw out stuff, shop get a hair cut etc. etc. without the constant, 'Mummeeeee!!' in the background and sorrow at 'losing' my (usually) irrepressibly cheerful little girl companion. 

Okay, okay, I'm not losing her altogether, I know THAT, but I know we'll never have that precious pre-school time back again. AND, I'm wondering constantly how she is. 

Is she lonely, being picked on, hurt or hungry? Or is she happy, cheerfully playing with new friends? Does she understand the teacher, or the instructions given by the dinner ladies? I just hope that she's SAFE emotionally, physically and allergically (if I can put it that way)! Funnily enough, the last thing I'm actually concerned about is how well she'll learn!!

The thing is, I've done my best to prepare her for this time: I've fed, clothed and cared for her day in and day out for nearly five years - I've been every inch the 'present mum.' She can now use the toilet (that took flippin' ages); make friends (despite being an only child, we've been careful to help her socialise with others in a range of situations); all along she's been trained to know what she can/can't have to eat, as well as how to ask if something is safe. 

I haven't taught her to read or write very much at all, beyond her name - mainly because I didn't want to put pressure on her and switch off before she even started. It was also because really I (not so secretly) wish that England was more like Finland - where formal schooling doesn't begin until seven. I've heard, that come Christmas of their first term, the Finnish children can all read and write, just fine!!

I am confidant that 'Baby' is in a great school. We've chosen her school carefully - we've scoured websites, been to lots of open days, asked questions, got recommendations from friends etc. etc. 

The school where the head teacher looked at me blankly (when I asked what sort of arrangements they had in place for children with a milk allergy) and replied, 

'Well she can have packed lunches, can't she?' 

was crossed straight off our list... in catchment and rated 'Outstanding' by OFSTED or not!!

'Baby's' teacher is great. She's an experienced lady, who definitely knows her onions (me, being a 'resting' teacher, grilled her in advance). The class size isn't too big. There's soya milk and dairy free snacks available at break time. Provision is made for children with allergies in the school lunch (including dairy free ice cream, when others have their ice cream), and the school has procedures in place - a clearly displayed board on the wall, of the dining area with photos of children with allergies - listing their allergy/ies, contact numbers etc. in case of emergency...

So, even though the school is all good, that doesn't stop me, well not worrying exactly, but... concerning - if you know what I mean (I know that's not grammatically correct, but it'll have to do, for now)!! 

'Baby' hasn't cried - not yesterday when I left her in the classroom, not this morning when I left her again. Yesterday, she used the toilets, she ate her lunch, all as she should. No nasty reactions followed overnight. If she didn't exactly skip down the path, she seemed fine about going to school this morning.

Today, on arrival, she was greeted by name by another little girl. That was nice!

I haven't cried either and I'm beginning to relax...

I'm also torn in regards to the blog. Question is, now what? For me, for blogging?

These questions will have to wait for a bit, I've got certain things I need to do - one of which is a move to complete, now we've sold our old flat (the one I bought into when I was single). Then, I'm pretty sure I'll be back on these pages... maybe looking for another name or identity. After all, 'Baby' is NOT a baby any more, is she?

But she's still dairy free!


So much for growing out of it by the age of two, then!