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A Winter Warmer - Low-FODMAP Parsnip and Parsley Soup Recipe

Bacon - optional: cosy feeling - obligatory.

Bacon - optional: cosy feeling - obligatory.

As autumn winds slide into winter frosts food is as much about keeping you warm as it is about nourishment. Parsnips are a wonderful, cheap, low-FODMAP and plentiful winter staple but I don’t deny they can be awkward to cook with. Often I will roast them, or add plenty of chilli to mask a bit of the, sometimes overwhelming, flavour. This time I wanted a large soup, with enough leftovers to for me to freeze individual portions that I could use for quick lunches or teatimes. Parsley came in because I’d never before noticed the similarity between the words parsley and parsnip. The Our House For Tea approach works like that, it isn’t entirely scientific, but it works! I found the best way to cut through the rich parsnip flavour was to add a little lemon juice, more salt than I would normally use and forgo the usual chilli for lots of black pepper.

Serves 8,

Prep 10 minutes, cooking time 40 minutes

1 kg parsnips

400g carrots

2 tbsp. olive oil

Scant 1/8th tsp. asafoetida

1.2 litres chicken stock

1 tsp. salt flakes

2 large handfuls of curly parsley, very roughly chopped

6ooml almond milk

2 tsp. lemon juice

Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Optional to serve - 8 rashers cooked, crispy, smoked streaky bacon, crumbled and a few reserved parsley leaves.

 

Peel and chop the parsnips and carrots into even sized 1.5cm pieces. In a heavy based pan warm the oil over a medium high heat. Add the vegetables to the oil and fry off for 2 minutes before covering the pan and allowing the vegetables to sweat for 5 minutes. You will need to stir occasionally, to prevent the vegetables sticking.

Add the chicken stock and salt then bring up to the boil before turning down the heat, covering with a lid and simmering for 30 minutes. You may need to stir occasionally, remove from the heat when the vegetables are soft. Add the parsley, reserving a small amount to serve.

Liquidise the soup in batches, then return to the pan with the almond milk and lemon juice to warm through. Taste and add as much freshly ground black pepper as you wish – we like lots! Serve with the crumbled bacon on top, more black pepper and any remaining parsley leaves.

 

Low-FODMAP Tomato Salad - (Salade de Tomates)

Low-FODMAP Tomato Salad - (Salade de Tomates)

If I was told I couldn’t eat fragrant, ripe, gloriously red tomatoes any longer I think I would cry - I would grieve for them far more than I have for any other food I have had to eliminate on the Low-FODMAP diet. You can keep your Chanel No.5; I think there is no aroma that matches the luscious, verdant smell of a greenhouse full of tomatoes in summer.

How best to celebrate the tomato? With this simple salad of course! A dish that is elegant enough to serve to others but quick enough to knock up for a snatched kitchen supper. Shush, don’t tell anyone the secret ingredient in this salad until after they have eaten. People can be peculiarly snobbish about tomato ketchup.

You can add a torn up ball of buffalo mozzarella to turn this into a more substantial lunch dish. Although I have used extra virgin olive oil here, do try using different oils such as the basil oil or Aromatic Spiced Oil for variety. Use the salad to top The Greatest Garlic Bread to make The Greatest Bruschetta Ever - divine.

I have used the Natural Grey Sea Salt with Herbs de Provence as it feels right that a tomato dish should taste of Provencal sunshine but equally the Natural Grey Sea Salt with Garden Herbs bring you flavours an English country garden. For a yeast-free version, use non-brewed condiment in place of the vinegar.

I use Chippa gluten-free Tomato Ketchup, as it is low-FODMAP, but use any good quality ketchup you can tolerate. For an entirely different smoky flavour – please use the barbeque tomato ketchup from the recipe in my book, Our House For Tea.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Prep – 5-10 minutes

4 large ripe tomatoes, at room temperature

1 tbsp. ketchup

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. white wine vinegar

½ tsp. Natural Grey Sea Salt with Herbs de Provence

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. finely chopped parsley (optional)

Slice the tomatoes horizontally into 5mm slices, cutting out the ‘stalky’ middle nearer the top. For this I use the end of a vegetable peeler. Lay the slices artistically in a shallow dish, putting the less attractive slices on the bottom. Whisk all the remaining ingredients, except the parsley, in a small bowl and pour over the slices in an even layer. If you are using the parsley, scatter it over the top. This salad benefits from standing for 10 minutes to mingle but it is not essential. 

 

Carrot & Walnut Bake for Autumn - low-FODMAP, gluten-free and vegan

Doesn't it scream autumn?

Doesn't it scream autumn?

Autumn weather is confusing this year and it’s confusing my usual autumn Low-FODMAP menu. Daddy-long-legs are drunkenly drifting about in the sunshine wondering what to do with themselves next. The apple tree has snapped in two under the weight of tiny red apples – as they are not FODMAP friendly I need to give these away – please pop in if you’re interested

I had intended to do something entirely different for teatime yesterday but I had an ingredients disaster and had to look to the store cupboard for salvation. Ras-el-Hanout came to my rescue again and gave a warm spiced pumpkin pie flavour to some decidedly normal carrots. Autumn means walnuts but to stop the flavour becoming too overwhelming I ‘cut’ them with some pumpkin seeds.

A low-FODMAP portion of dried cranberries is 13g so you’ll be within your ‘safe’ limit. Do check the ingredients of your ras-el-Hanout – there shouldn’t be any garlic. I seem to be strewing brown rice breadcrumbs over everything at the moment – I got mine from the local market. Eat for teatime or it slices well cold to have as leftovers.

No-one is more surprised than I that I got it out in one piece!

No-one is more surprised than I that I got it out in one piece!

Serves 4 generously, prep 15-20 mins, baking time 40 mins

1kg carrots, peeled and sliced

160g walnuts

50g pumpkin seeds

30g dried cranberries

Large pinch of salt

Heaped tsp. ras-el-Hanout

Heaped tbsp. brown rice breadcrumbs

Heaped tbsp. sesame seeds

A little olive oil for greasing.Pre-heat an oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 22cm pie dish.

Cook the carrots either by steaming, microwaving (or boiling, although you will lose some vitamins) until soft. While the carrots are cooking place the walnuts, pumpkin seeds and cranberries into a food processor then blitz to fine crumbs. Tip the nut mixture into a bowl and stir in the ras-el-Hanout and salt.

Drain the carrots really well and allow to cool slightly so the steam can escape. Place the carrots in the food processor (you don’t need to wash it first!) and blitz until nearly smooth. Add the nuts back in and blitz again until everything is thoroughly combined. Press the mixture evenly into the pie dish. I did make a pretty pattern on mine using a spatula but I’m not sure I’d bother next time!

Mix the rice breadcrumbs and sesame seeds together before scattering evenly over the top. Bake for 40 minutes. You may need to loose the edge of the bake with a knife before cutting out wedges.

The Greatest Garlic Bread, that happens to be Gluten-free and Low-FODMAP

The Greatest Garlic Bread, that happens to be Gluten-free and Low-FODMAP

Garlic Bread, gluten-free, low-FODMAP

Since eliminating garlic and gluten from your diet you may be puzzling how or why I’ve given you a recipe for garlic bread? Well, I have developed this recipe because I miss garlic bread as much as you do and some things are worth fighting for. This has held my husband in rapture. Seriously, it’s delicious and should not be over-looked by those with no dietary issues! To turn this into The Greatest Bruschetta ever, cover the pieces of cooked garlic bread with my tomato salad. When the food is this good at Our House For Tea, it makes it very difficult to bother eating out.

The FODMAPs in garlic, Oligo-fructans, are held in the water of the garlic. Science is a wonderful thing for ensuring that oil and water does not mix - oil can be infused with garlic without the oligo-fructans getting in! Consider Garlic Oil your new best friend.

If you can eat gluten, please use a ‘normal’ artisan or sourdough bread. I have cut the bread into 1.5cm wide slices.

Serves 4

Prep – 10 minutes

 

4 slices gluten-free bloomer style bread

4 tbsp. Garlic Oil

40g finely grated pecorino

1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

Under a hot grill on a baking sheet, toast the bread on one side, and then remove from the grill. Mix together all the other ingredients in a small bowl.

Spread the untoasted side of the bread with the oil mix, try and be as equal as you can then under the grill. Grill for 3 minutes until the top is looking crisp and the edges are beginning to char.

 

 

Low-FODMAP Meringues with Raspberry or Passion Fruit

Low-FODMAP Meringues with raspberry or passion fruit

We have a phrase at Our House For Tea, ‘is that Low-FODMAP or is it you?’ It’s shorthand for ‘Can you not eat this because it is high in FODMAPs or because it is another of your intolerances?’ Eggs and cows milk fall into the ‘me’ category but seeing as three-quarters of the household can eat eggs and half can eat cows milk, it would be churlish of me to deprive them of meringuey treats. Most people with IBS can tolerate 60g of whipped cream. Meringues are terrifically quick to prep but the cooking time is a little longer. I would plead with you to try making your own but if you really can’t be faffed, simply use the cream filling on shop-bought meringues.

These little meringues have a cream filling, flavoured with either Passion Fruit or Raspberry Syrup. If you are in the mood to impress your guests, make half of the meringues passion fruit flavoured and half raspberry flavoured. For accuracy's sake, I have given the cream measure in grams as opposed to ml.

You will need an electric hand whisk or stand mixer with whisk attachment fitted. When you lift the whisk out of the whisked egg white, and it holds its shape in peaks, you have reached the stiff peak stage. When the cream holds its shape briefly before flopping over, you have reached the soft peak stage.

Serves 4 – makes 8 meringue sandwiches

Prep –  15 minutes + 1 hour baking. 

 

1 medium egg, separated.

1.5 x caster sugar to the weight of egg whites

(My egg white weighed 34g so I used 51g of caster sugar)

120g whipping cream (do not use double cream)

 

For passion fruit flavour

1 tsp. Passion fruit syrup

1 flesh of 1 Passion Fruit

For raspberry flavour

1 tsp. Raspberry syrup

2 tsp. freeze-dried raspberry pieces

 

Preheat a non-fan oven to 120°C - you will need to watch the oven temperature like a hawk. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.

Ensure your bowl is dry and entirely free-from all traces of grease. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking well inbetween to make sure all the sugar is combined. Stop when the meringue is looking thick, peaky and glossy.

Spoon the meringue onto the baking sheet in 16 well spaced, dessertspoon sized, peaky dollops or pipe into 16 smarter rosettes. Either way, the meringues should be between 4.5cm – 5cm in diameter. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour.

The meringues will be ready when they lift away from the paper. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for half an hour on the baking sheet.

Whip the cream until it reaches the soft peak stage, add the syrup and briefly whisk again, taking care not to over-whip and split the cream.

Sandwich the meringues together with a very heaped teaspoon of cream. Scatter the cream with either passion fruit pulp or the raspberry pieces.

 

Aromatic Spiced Prawns - low-FODMAP, gluten-free and quick!

Aromatic Spiced Prawns - low-FODMAP, gluten-free and quick!

Aromatic Spiced Prawns and noodles, low-FODMAP

Two things I have found whilst on my Low-FODMAP, gluten-free adventures – a ridiculously restrictive diet means a lot of time spent cooking everything from scratch: between childcare and work, we don’t seem to have a lot of time. It’s an impossible equation.

I do find it frustrating when ‘quick and easy’ recipes include stir-fries and then list an overwhelming number of vegetables that need chopping: chopping carrots into matchstick-sized pieces can take an eternity. Bagged, ready-chopped stir-fry mixes often contain a few brown ends on the vegetables or have a curiously dried-out-yet-soggy texture. The exception to the ready-prepped veg rule seems to be ready-spiralised courgette, also know as ‘zoodles’ (zucchini noodles) or ‘courgetti’. I don’t have the space to store a spiraliser but if you do, then please use your own! In my book, Our House For Tea, I would put this under the ‘Making An Effort’ chapter – not because of the time spent in preparation but because you need to remember to buy the courgette noodles!

I’m always grateful to find a shortcut – the shortcut for this recipe comes via Aromatic Spiced Oil, next time maybe you could try garlic oil? If you can't buy a ready made oil, I'll give you the recipe for that too at the end. If you would like a more carb-heavy meal, serve over some rice-noodles that cook in minutes.

 

Serves 2 as a light meal

Prep – 10 minutes

2 tbsp. Aromatic Spiced Oil

300g courgette noodles

150g cooked large peeled prawns

Pinch of salt

Bring a pan of water to the boil with the salt. Drop the courgette ‘noodles’ into the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain through a sieve and leave in the sieve to drain further while you heat the prawns

Shake the oil bottle well before measuring out the oil and any spices that come out, into a wide frying pan. Heat over a high heat then tip in the prawns. Cook for one minute on each side. Whilst the prawns are heating through, arrange the courgette noodles into piles on two warmed plates. Tip the hot prawns onto the courgette piles and drizzle over the pan juices over the top.

 

Aromatic Spiced Oil

1.5 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. dried herbs de Provence (savory, marjoram, thyme, oregano, rosemary mix)

Pinch of dried chilli flakes.

Lightly crush the coriander seeds with your thumbs, they do not need to be obliterated! Mix everything together and use in your recipe.

 

 

 

THE BEST Low-FODMAP, Gluten-free, Vegan Chocolate-chip Cookies!

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     Gotta catch 'em all!

Gotta catch 'em all!

Please excuse my excitable heading and font – but these really are THE BEST low-FODMAP, gluten-free, vegan chocolate-chip cookies EVER! Anyone who follows my Instagram feed (@ourhousefortea) will have witnessed the baking disasters I’ve created whilst getting to this point. I kept trying to replace the eggs with various ingredients and it was only when I wondered what would happen if I didn’t, that these little beauties emerged. They are crisp on the outside and a bit squishier and crumblier in the middle - perfect. I must confess I’ve had no breakfast but have eaten three cookies in a row… bad low-FODMAP evangelist ;-) Won’t ramble on now and will let you get to the good stuff. I’m just about to try substituting half the chips with crystallised ginger pieces*, will let you know how I get on, promise you’ll tell me how you get on too?

Makes 16 Prep – 10 minutes Baking time – 12-14 minutes

125g free-from sunflower margarine (Pure Sunflower for preference)

75g caster sugar

50g soft light brown sugar

2 tsps. vanilla extract

200g self-raising gluten free flour blend (Doves Farm for preference)

Pinch of salt

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsps. almond milk

150g dark (semi-sweet) chocolate chips

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   FYI, the raw dough won't do you any harm...

FYI, the raw dough won't do you any harm...

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof baking paper.

Using an electric hand whisk beat together the margarine, sugars and vanilla in a mixing bowl, until light and fluffy. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift flour mix into the margarine and stir until it is combined. (If you use the electric beaters for this stage, the flour will fly everywhere.) When the flour is safely combined, add the almond milk and then whisk until you have a smooth, sticky dough. Stir in the chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed.

Dollop the dough in dessertspoonfuls onto the baking sheet, keeping them well spaced apart. You should have 8 dollops per sheet. Smooth the tops a little with a clean finger until they are around 6cm across.

Bake for 14 minutes, turning the sheets halfway through to ensure they brown evenly. Allow to cool on the tray for 2-3 minutes to harden slightly then move to a wire rack to cool. If you are going to store them, wait until they are cold and store in an airtight container.

Eaten warm, (she says from experience) they are delicious with a glass of milk, or whatever you’re drinking these days that passes for milk. The chips are still a bit soft and the chocolate can travel a surprisingly long way, particularly if for some reason you have it on your elbow. How?!

*Half ginger, half choc chips worked! I also added 1/2 tps. of ground ginger with the flour - delicious!


As a special treat here's a pic of one of my many disasters - follow me on Instagram for more kitchen disasters @ourhousefortea

Hmm...

Hmm...

How to Picnic - don't try too hard and other top tips.

This post is from 2013 but the points still stand!

The Contemporary Low-FODMAP Picnic.

The Contemporary Low-FODMAP Picnic.

In an Observer Food Monthly column Jay Rayner waxed lyrical about the horror of a picnic: this suggests to me he never needs to cater for someone on a Low-FODMAP style restrictive diet. We have no options but to picnic!

In the wild.

In the wild.

 

School summer holiday’s are upon us: in our house means it’s time for the Tupperware to brace itself for a lot of action. His Lordship is going to be away for a chunk of the holidays* so I have decided the only way to keep sane is to take the children out. A lot. Eating out in tearooms and museum cafes is not an option for the Little Miss and I. Rarely can we eat more than a bag of plain crisps. Also, the default price of everything in the catering outlets seems to be £3.50. I needn’t remind you how difficult a hungry child is to manage, especially in public. Trying to wrangle a child in meltdown while they scream ‘you’re choking me’ (you’re not) is at best embarrassing and at worst, soul destroying. Keeping children’s appetites sated is the make or break of a day out. We shall be hammering the National Trust Membership card and the Park Hall Countryside Experience card (http://www.parkhallfarm.co.uk) will see more than it’s fair share of action too. Without these two memberships summer holidays can be financially crippling.

I am not going to criticise the long summer holidays, yes they may be a pain for parents to organise childcare but children need a break. A long break to dream, have adventures and, (dare I say it?) to get a bit bored. Boredom can breed invention. School isn’t just a handy childcare solution; children work really hard. Can you imagine trying to learn the volume of things they learn over a school year now? It’s phenomenal!

I digress. Picnics are the obvious solution for us. Over the past couple of years I have become something of a dab hand at throwing a picnic together. The secret? Don’t try to be clever. Food needs to be portable enough not to disintegrate in a box that’s being jammed into a rucsac and easy enough for them to carry on playing while they’re eating it. In an ideal world everyone would sit down nicely on a rug (whilst remembering to keep their shoes off it), the fare would look like Ratty’s picnic from Wind In The Willows and we’d eat from pretty plates whilst quoting Wilde or Keats. The reality is usually a small spot squeezed in an adventure playround and food is shoved in the general direction of their mouths whilst new friendships are kindled or broken.

So what should go in the rucsac? Yes, a rucsac, you need as few bags as possible to lose. Carrying everything in one shoulder bag will ruin your back and you’ll only ever have one properly free hand. It’s the most practical solution for chasing children too.

Firstly, a wet flannel, no wet wipes can do the job quite as well.

A plastic carrier bag for for rubbish and another for wet things.

For this reason a spare pair of pants or knickers is a must: they can double as impromptu swimming costumes too. 

Plastic carrier bags to sit on if the ground’s wet as they are lighter than a big rug.

Another plastic bag for anything unexpected.

Drinking bottles of water. One each, not forgetting one for you.

Cherry tomatoes with a tiny pot (think film canister size) of Maldon salt mixed with freshly ground pepper. You dip your tomato in and my children will eat punnet after punnet this way. I'm not going to stress about the tiny amount of salt they actually eat here.

Carrot sticks. The children have a love/hate relationship with these. I’ll end up finishing them off but that’s fine, I like them. I need snacks too!

Bag of crisps each (shock! Horror!). They can take a long time to eat, which can be useful.

Sandwiches. Don’t go crazy, they’re not interested in how fancy they are or how artisan the bread is – they need to stick together and be posted into busy mouths by small busy hands. Wraps are useful if you can eat them. Otherwise it’s gluten free bread for the Little Miss. You’re most likely to be able to slip a bit of lettuce in sandwiches. Cheese is perennially popular as is any sliced meat. Other ‘sticky’ foodstuffs, such as peanut butter, help the picnic cause but I tend to steer clear of pate - even with my slapdash approach to food safety, pate kept for a few hours in a warm rucsac isn’t great.

Fruit. Blueberries or grapes in Tupperware hold their shape best. Bananas ruin anything else in your bag and make everything smell banana-y. Bananas are OK in sandwiches though. Apples can work if you wrap them in whatever else is in your bag to protect them. Chopped melon in a Tupperware works and dried fruit is naturally bump resistant. If you are low-FODMAP, watch how many of these you have.

Boiled eggs can provide a little amusement, however unless you are prepared to inevitably peel them all yourself, don’t bother. 

Biscuits are good when they’re flagging. Take chocolate though and you’ll have a horrible mess if it warms up. 

I usually have a box of salad that can be anything from last night’s leftovers to some hastily assembled fridge detritus. TAKE A FORK! I recently had to eat a mix with a coffee stirrer - rookie mistake.

A knife is always useful. Even if you don’t think you’re going to need it, you may be called upon to whittle something. It happens.

 

Lightweight waterproofs - even if the weather says it’s not going to rain they can keep a chilly wind off.

Suncream and sunhats that are as small and as foldable as possible.

Cash. I accept that any outing will involve me needing a coffee at some point and if, ye gods, they have a lowFODMAP suitable ice-lolly, sorbet or ice cream I will probably let the children have one. Keep this treat until later on – you may need to bribe good behaviour.

If diets are restricted it is probably worth having a ‘treat’ in your bag in case there isn’t something available and you need to placate; I don’t think it’s fair that the Young Master should always miss out.

If you’ve never played ‘tippet’ now’s the time to start learning. Take a penny piece and they can spend a surprisingly long time guessing which hand it’s in.

Even the crappiest of plastic magnifying glasses or binoculars can be diverting in even the crappiest environments. 

Never take children in a gift shop unless you’re willing to buy large amounts of bankruptcy inducing tat. Children don’t browse, they want. And they want. And they want.

Try and prepare everything the night before or you may end up wasting most of the morning sorting things out by which time they’re hungry for elevenses.

Camera/phone – you never know.

Remember to take all your litter home, close gates, don’t harass livestock etc… Consideration for others and the environment is as good a lesson as they’ll ever learn in any classroom.

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     Young Master with his shadow Little Miss, getting the most out of the National Trust card

Young Master with his shadow Little Miss, getting the most out of the National Trust card

Don’t get hung up on schedules. If I child is showing the sort of focused and locked on attention to something as only a child can, go with it. You may learn something too about a line of ants on a pavement. Enjoy it, the C16th tapestry will still be there tomorrow, your peculiar little 4 year old won’t.

There will always be a dead bird. And they will always want to poke it with something. Sometimes it can stretch to a dead lamb. This time it was a dead shrew that they needed to document. Them’s the rules. Unclench.

Ahh a Dead Shrew....lovely.

Ahh a Dead Shrew....lovely.

 

Check whether your destination is open before you go. Obvious but often overlooked.

Know when it’s time to go home. Even if you feel you haven’t visited every part of wherever you’ve been, it’s important recognise when everybody’s tired before they start showing you with their fractious behaviour. This also applies to adults.

So there are my top tips for a day out. It is hard work but hopefully a lack of picnic ambition on your part will make it easier and you may, just may, be able to enjoy your time with your children. They’re not interested in whether they’d look out of place in The White Company Catalogue, they just want to spend some time with you; don’t ruin it by trying to impress a non-existent audience.

Lastly back to Jay Rayner, who, seriously, takes a quiche on a picnic? That’s just stupid.

*This time he'll be photographing an IETF conference in Berlin. http://stonehousephotographic.com Last half term it was a WWF job in Wyoming, I'm beginning to see a link between the school holidays and his trips abroad...

Cantaloupe Granita - Low-FODMAP and gloriously orange

Low FODMAP Cantaloupe Granita 2

Cantaloupe Granita - Low-FODMAP and gloriously orange

Aside from IBS and accidental-ingestion-of-a FODMAP associated pain, lots of childhood ‘illnesses’ elicit the same response from me. These are responses that can be said with a degree of concern in my voice but without betraying the scepticism I’m feeling. Nothing will quicken the turn of a perceived illness or injury into a full-blown illness, than a child who doesn’t believe you are genuinely concerned.

Low-FODMAP Cantaloupe Granita 1

Child – “Mummy, I’ve got a…”

Me, (in my best concerned voice, wearing my best concerned face) “Oh dear. Have you tried having a glass of water/ going to the loo/ having a little lie-down on the window seat/ putting a wet flannel on it/ opening a window/ running it under a cold tap/ putting on a jumper/ having a bath to relax your muscles/ putting a plaster on it/ not bending your leg/finger/arm backwards?”

Any of these seem familiar?

Heartless I know, but sometimes just having someone acknowledge your stress and pain is all that is needed. Often it turns out the illness/ injury was just a prelude to what has really been bugging them. A bad day at school, an injustice on the playground or disappointment that something didn’t turn out quite as anticipated. I think this is also true for grown-ups. When was the last time someone gave you their best concerned face? A little kindness can go a long way.

Sometimes, the struggle is real and you need to bring down a high temperature. Granita is a great to administer as a cooling-aid. Give 90g of cantaloupe melon granita, safe in the knowledge that you won’t also be tending to FODMAP related pain.

Check out the matching nails ;-)

Check out the matching nails ;-)

Prep - 5-10 minutes,

Freezing time 3 hours.

 1 ripe cantaloupe melon

Juice of half a lime.

Deseed the melon. If you have a hand-held blender, scrape the gorgeously orange flesh and lime-juice into a bowl. You could also use a blender or food processor. Whizz together, taking a moment to enjoy the wonderful perfume and wish you had a nail varnish the same colour.

Pour into a shallow freezer safe container. Cover and freeze. Every 30 minutes scrape in the ice that starts to form around the sides back into the mix, using fork. The mixture will start to get a granular slushy consistency. After 3 hours your granita will be ready.

For a grown-up slushie I recommend a shot of limoncello poured over the top.

If you keep it frozen, it will turn into a solid block. Leave to defrost slightly and show it some welly with either a food processor or blender to loosen things up.

Just realised I've given you a Low-FODMAP, sugar-free, vegan recipe - my life has changed immeasurably since 2012...

 

LowFODMAP Canteloupe Melon Granita 3

Parenting the poorly - learning to feed yourself Low-FODMAP and fairy cake recipe

Cocoa Lumps

Cocoa Lumps

Little Miss Low-FODMAP has been poorly with some sort of viral rash that was suspected to be shingles but having spoken to other parents I suspect wasn't as severe as all that. She had a couple of 'peaky' days but the rash has scabbed over and she's back, oh yes she's back! It was the bouncing off the window seat onto the sofa whilst singing 'Let it Go' that convinced me.

 Poorliness may not demand a lot of medical attention but it does demand a lot of attention. There is no point trying to fight that as a parent you are expected not only to be the constant carer but also the entertainer. As you'd expect, in our house my entertainment tends to involve a lot of cookery. Luckily, the poorliness co-incided with the arrival of some Masa Harina from Sous Chef (www.souschef.co.uk). She really got into the hang of making tortilla and there have been 5 different tortilla-based meals. It was worth every penny of the tortilla press! We've also had the ubiquitous green cheese sauce drowning anything that stopped moving long enough.

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     Tortilla faces in the sunshine.

Tortilla faces in the sunshine.

However, my favourite cooking activity was making Cocoa Lumps. Cocoa Lumps happen when you unclench for long enough (Let it Go) to let your children to invent something. It is highly unlikely it will be haute cuisine but it's only experience that divides those who can cook without a book from those who can't. What better time to get this experience in than now?

 Use a little gentle guidance to make sure the invention isn't an unmitigated disaster - the idea is for children to learn what does and doesn't work, not to scare them off from ever trying again!

 If you are cooking meat, be sure you cook it for the right amount of time and at the right temperature, Google if you need to.

 When using sugar, as a general rule if you bake it below 175C your baked goods will be soft. Above that will make for a harder biscuit/ cookie/ splodge.

  I'm of the school that often it is best to smell if something's cooked, particularly baked goods. If the kitchen smells of biscuits they're probably cooked. If it smells of burning use a time machine and get them out 5 minutes earlier.

Very painted nails.

Very painted nails.

Chocolate and orange goes together, lemon and sultanas go together but don't let yourself get too hung up on these details. Be curious - someone came up with the idea of salted caramel once and now there's no getting away from it. Worst-case scenario, it won't taste very nice and you won't make it again.

 Take notes. If you happen upon a brilliant idea or recipe you can replicate it. If it's awful you won't make the same mistake twice. If the experiment is 'almost' there, it's easy to fiddle with next time. Note-making is lots of writing and weighing practise that children may not even notice they're doing.

 When baking you need some sort of raising agent - self-raising flour, whisked egg whites, bicarbonate of soda, yeast, baking powder - see what happens when you don't use any and see what happens when you use too much!

 Experiment with substitution - if you have a recipe that you're missing ingredients for what happens when you use white sugar instead of brown, raisins instead of chocolate chips, maple syrup instead of golden syrup? We are constantly trying to make meals Low-FODMAP so this is particularly significant if you have a child with a restricted diet - they need to learn how to feed themselves!

Chalk Drawings

Chalk Drawings

If failure is not an option, make a basic sponge. You can ice fairy cakes if you feel so inclined or if you've run out of any other activities. The following guidelines makes enough for 12 fairy cakes but you can easily double or halve the ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases.

 Weigh 2 eggs, then weigh out the same amount of (gluten-free) self-raising flour, soft butter or (dairy-free) margarine and caster sugar.

 Cream the butter and sugar together using a wooden spoon, electric hand beaters or mixer until pale and fluffy. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and add to the butter and sugar with a tablespoon of flour. You can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you fancy. Mix together thoroughly, it will curdle but that will not effect the final result. Fold in the remaining flour until it's thoroughly combined. Add a tablespoon of milk until it makes a 'dropping' consistency.  This is nothing more than it dropping off the spoon in a splodge but I suggest you use the term for added credibility. Gluten-free flour sometimes needs a 1/2 tbsp more and we would use coconut milk.

 Spoon the mixture as evenly as possible into the cases (remembering to let the child have some input) and bake for 20 minutes. Clear up during this time, it's as an important a lesson as the cooking. The cakes will be cooked when the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.

 Decide whether you can bear the thought of decorating the cakes or whether it's now time for the millionth viewing of Frozen.

Elderflower fritters - low-FODMAP, gluten-free, vegan, flowery, summer treats.

The finished Elderflower fritters.

The finished Elderflower fritters.

When we moved house (pre-low-FODMAP days) I was thrilled to discover an elderflower tree in the garden. This was before I realised that outside of London, elder trees are pretty much everywhere. The children have been on elderflower-watch for a couple of weeks, monitoring the progress from tiny green balls, to white balls to sweet, fragrant flowers. It has been a tense countdown to elderflower fritter season.

A good haul of delicate green.

A good haul of delicate green.

When we moved house (pre-low-FODMAP days) I was thrilled to discover an elderflower tree in the garden. This was before I realised that outside of London, elder trees are pretty much everywhere. The children have been on elderflower-watch for a couple of weeks, monitoring the progress from tiny green balls, to white balls to sweet, fragrant flowers. It has been a tense countdown to elderflower fritter season.

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     Fritters with built in handles.

Fritters with built in handles.

Pick over your elderflowers and remove any insects or detritus. Warm a plate lined with paper kitchen towel in the oven. Place the sugar on a small plate.

Heat 2-3mm oil in a frying pan. Whilst it is heating, place the flour in a mixing bowl and pour in the soda water. Whisk together to remove any lumps and dip in the elderflowers, keeping the stem free from batter. This will be your handle when you are eating.

Fry the heads, flower side down in the hot oil until the batter is crisp and bubbled. You may need to do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan.

Remove from the pan, giving a small shake as you go and drop onto the sugar. Place on the warm plate while the rest cook. Eat by using your teeth to pull away the batter and flowers from the stem.

See you again next year pretty flowers, heralds of summer.