Breakfast in a hotel with milk allergy children.

Hotels are expensive places to eat breakfast at the best of times. If your children don’t eat dairy, then you can end up paying for them to access a buffet that they cannot enjoy. When breakfast is included in the room rate, it is not so bad, we usually get them a bacon roll and bring our won dairy free spread and Oatley milk. But on this trip, because we are bringing food for the week with us, we are going to dine in our room and I am making breakfast.

I have kept the food we need to access near the top of our packing and there is dairy free spread and Oatley milk in the cool bag, this has been kept pretty well cold for the last 24 hours. The girls are having Alphabites dairy free cereal and half a brown roll each from Simmons bakery in Hertforddshire because we had some left over from our picnic. 

I forgot the little plastic bowls and plastic cutlery, which I was planning to serve this in, but while thinking about this overnight, decided to Mae this into a fun mistake but serving their cereal in the coffee cups they have in their room and they can use the teaspoons to eat with.

This was super easy, no washing up and they thought it was a treat to watch TV on their bed and eat breakfast. 

NOMooMum and I bought the Bamix blender and are having Shakeology. Annoyingly, British hotels do not have ice machines, unlike most US hotels I stay in, so I have to trek to the bar to find some ice , but we saved the best part of £50 by avoiding the hotel breakfast buffet. 

Now we can start the final push into Cornwall.

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Hotels and dairy free children.

Staying away from home with lactose intolerant children requires planning but can be very easy. We have chosen to split our journey to Cornwall by stopping in Bristol overnight.

Our usual hotel for this trip is the Hampton Inn in Exeter, but as it is full and we wanted a change, we are staying at the Doubletree by Hilton at Cadbury House near Bristol Airport and about 10 minutes from the M5. I have accumulated a bunch of HHonors points from my business travel and so we are staying in adjoining rooms with the kids this time. This hotel also has a gym and swimming pool and a couple of Marco Pierre White franchise restaurants. We have eaten at the MPW diner in Exeter a couple of times and it was fairly easy to eat dairy free, so we did not envisage any issues, but this trip was not as straight forward.

The hotel is pretty good. It is set in lovely grounds, the rooms we are allocated are on the lower ground, accessible level and right next to the car park, which is so easy for us to unload having checked in at the main house first and then driven down.

The rooms are good. As you would expect, clean modern and fairly comfy. The pool is a good way to wear the kids down and build up an expedite after a day of driving and sitting.

We rock up to the restaurant at 6.30pm and wade through a wedding party that has just turned up for an evening wedding. I have never heard of an evening wedding but it seems a pretty convenient way to et hitched – ne need to even take time of work!  Anyway, the restaurant was practically empty at this time and we immediately explain to our server that we need to ensure the kids eat dairy free and ideally NOMooMum is gluten free. I hate to explain that I need dairy free, I know what is likely to be capable of being prepped without cows milk protein and know from bitter experience that if you request the dairy free menu specifically the restaurant will only give you options that are dairy free now, not what they can make dairy free. I prefer to have them design my requested dish in a dairy free way if possible and will offer them solutions that I know will work. The servers are usually none the wiser and I expect the chef to understand what is required. A good chef will have no problem with these requests. 

The waitress disappears and we hear nothing further for ten minutes which immediately riles us. Bear in mind this place is not cheap, the need to be a on top of their game if they are going to charge nearly £30 for a steak. We call another server over and explain our needs and she suggests that going and checking, then lo and behold the original waitress appears having hand written what she believes is dairy free from the kids menu. But when we question the choices she has, she looks unsure, we don’t think the breaded chicken is going to be OK. I suggest she goes and gets ‘the bible’ and she looks confused, so I explain that they must have an allergy folder for every item on the menu. Suddenly she understands, but explains that they do, but it is a poster on their wall of the kitchen. I hold my nerve and luckily we narrow the choice down to fish fingers and pasta and tomato sauce. The kids love pasta and so make their choice, Problem solved. 

This is a fairly typical exchange, it is always better just to tell the server to bring the allergy bible and go away and let us choose. In our experience, most of the kids who are working in restaurants are pretty clueless. Unless they have an allergy or a family member with an allergy, then they engage with the process and are pretty helpful. You can hasten the process of ordering in most chain restaurants by getting the allergy book and figuring out what you should order for the kids from that. It is worth planning the whole meal, so get dessert sorted at the same time. Invariably that means ordering sorbet, but at least you have it nailed and can relax and enjoy your own food. 

It has been a long day. Time for an early night. Join us for a dairy free breakfast in our hotel room tomorrow.

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Dairy free car journey with children

On our long journey to Cornwall with our dairy free children, we are stopping at Bath in Somerset. We were there a few weeks ago and it seems a nice place to re-visit and stretch our legs while having our packed lunch.

We had not really thought through the exact lunch spot, but consulted the National Trust guide and found a xxx Park, a beautiful hillside landscape with one of only four Palladian bridges as its centrepiece, although the mansion (that is now a school) is pretty impressive at the top of the hill.

Lunch was well received, we had staved off hunger by providing fruit and home-made flapjacks, a recipe my mother had passed to No-moo mum which she had perfected using Pure dairy free spread.

The park has a lovely team room set by the lake with ducks and swans wandering / floating around, No-moo mum had suggested ice lollies at the tea room as a reward for all the walking, but there were lollies nor a dairy free option. I never understand how even small cabins cannot consider selling something as basic as a fruit lolly when they have a huge range of ice-cream flavours. In any case, as all good dairy free parents know, it is best to have a back up plan – Oreo’s are a fabulous and surprising dairy-free treat and now they come in snack packs which make them jolly useful.

Suitably energised, we were able to power back up the very steep hill and back to the car where we were all awarded a jelly baby for good walking. We ventured onward to our hotel on the other side of Bristol, snacking on flapjacks and raisins to keep energy levels up.

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Travelling with the dairy free no-moo family

Holidays and travelling are challenging with a dairy free family. Add Victoria’s gluten free request and it is hard to know where to start. This is how we got through our long car journey.

We are on our way to Cornwall for a week away by the sea. We have been planning the trip for a few weeks with a list of food to take for the stay and most importantly, health and dairy free snacks for the epic journey. We are so organised this time. Our last few annual trips have involved arriving and going to a supermarket or stopping en-route to get all the stuff we thought of during the first leg of the trip.

We are taking a couple of archive boxes to store food in the car without it getting squashed, they will also collapse down for the route home.  We also borrow a very good freezer bag from a friend to keep the fruit, sandwiches and Oatley milk cool among other cold stuffs like mayonnaise cold for the 2 days we take to drive to Cornwall.

Despite this, the car is still as full as it was last year – even with one less suitcase! But it is worth it to know we have the main things to take us through a week without spending loads on stuff we already have at home and will inevitably buy again and take back because  we don’t finish it. We also remembered kitchen towel, foil and cling film, although I forget paper plates and plastic cutlery which are for lunch on the second leg of our journey. We will cross the bridge when we come to it.

I have already made a variety of rolls for the girls: smoked salmon, Milano salami and sliced chicken breast cut into quarters to keep them fuelled in small portions in case we were driving and eating. I have prepared a big watercress salad with hard boiled eggs for No-moo mum and I grabbed yesterdays home-made pizza that the girls had not finished.

The plan was to hit the road by 9am (it is 10am and we just left and still need fuel) we want to be in Bath for lunch.


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Kids’ party food for the moo free

Picture the scene my oldest comes bursting out of school a big grin and weighed down with her book bag that still seems nearly as big as her. ‘Mummy look I’ve been invited to so and so’s party’…

My initial reaction is happy that she has another party to attend and friends that want her to be at their party, but then the worry of the party food creeps in and trusting the parent who says its fine they can deal with it…

Anyway we go home, check the diary and RSVP.  I always imagine the parent who gets my text saying ‘thank you for the invite to so and so’s party, my daughter would love to come. She is dairy and soya free’ groans very loudly at that point. I agonise over the next sentence – I don’t want to come across as a control freak but I am. So I write ‘very happy to bring food or provide suggestions, whatever works best for you’. What I really want to write is, only cater for her if you read every label twice and truly understand dairy free and soya free, please let me bring some food I know she can eat and then I won’t worry…  Its so hard I don’t want to come across as bossy but at the end of the day my daughter is the one who will suffer if she eats something she shouldn’t. Luckily all the Mums and Dads have been great so far.

We are now halfway through my daughters reception year so we have been to quite a few parties and we have had no disasters yet! In fact I have been blown away by the amount of effort that some of the other Mums have gone to in order to accommodate my daughter.

If I need to provide suggestions here is my list of party foods that seems to tick the boxes for the dairy and non dairy kids.

1. Ham/Jam sandwiches are always a good bet. I always offer to bring sandwiches as its a nuisance to go and buy a special margarine for one child. I normally take hummus sandwiches as we always have hummus at home.

2. Hula hoops (plain) and Pom bears* (original) are both good and seem to be the crisp of choice at the parties we attend.

3. Carrot sticks/cucumber sticks.

4. Mini pre cooked sausages.

5. Mini boxes of raisins are quite handy although expensive so I sometimes take a box just in case.

6. Party rings* are brilliant. All the kids seem to love them and they are dairy free yay!

7. Grapes easy and the kids love them.

8. I always offer to bring a cake or cookie that my daughter can have instead of birthday cake. Mini packs of oreos* are great, or Mrs Crimbles coconut macaroons they both available at our local Coop as inevitably I will have forgotten about the party until last minute.

My daughter is really accepting and totally understands she can’t have dairy and that sometimes she eats differently to the other kids but thats ok.

At the moment I attend the parties so I can make sure she eats the right food. She likes me coming to the parties for now! Not quite sure how am going to deal with it when I am the only Mum left standing there and I have to trust she eats the right food! Sounds like another post…!

* be aware these do contain Soya Lecithins. In our case we are ok with this type of soya, what we struggle with is anything with soya protein in.

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Valentine raspberry heart butterfly cakes

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I have just made these for my family. I have never tried colouring a sponge before – its surprisingly easy and very effective! These butterfly cakes are dairy, soya, and gluten free.

Pink Cakes

200g Caster sugar
200g DF margarine
3 eggs
100g plain flour
50g maize flour
50g ground almonds
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp red food colouring
(if you need these to be gluten free swap out gf plain flour, maize flour and ground almonds fro 200g plain flour)
Makes about 10 muffin sized cakes

Raspberry buttercream

75g Trex
75g Df margarine
750g Icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
10ml Rice milk
Handful of raspberries

To make cakes
Cream together sugar and margarine until light and fluffy
Add eggs gradually
Add vanilla extract and red food colouring.
Sieve together gf plain flour, ground almonds, baking powder and maize flour a few times to combine well.
Fold into sponge mix
Fill muffin cases 3/4 full and bake on 190C for about 20 mins.
Leave to cool

To make buttercream
Cream together trex, margarine and vanilla extract. Add 375g icing sugar and rice milk. Mix slowly gradually increasing speed until well mixed. Add rest of icing sugar and the raspberries.

To assemble the cakes cut the top of the cake off and pipe in a good helping of buttercream. If you are piping use an open star nozzle as I used a closed nozzle and all the raspberry seeds got stuck in the nozzle! Cut the top in half and place in cake in heart shape.

Finish with a raspberry and a dusting of icing sugar.

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Say it with…. baking

2015-02-12 11.07.37So Valentines day is nearly here and nothing says love more than home-baking. My friend Miriam sent me this recipe for dairy free brookies. A brookie for the uninitiated is a cross between a cookie and a brownie. They are delicious firm on the outside and soft and dense in the middle.
I have tweaked the recipe to make it wheat free and gluten free too. I didn’t have any vegetable oil so used coconut oil which has many reputed health benefits.

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So why don’t you give it a go…

43g Cocoa Powder (raw cocoa if possible)
200g Caster sugar
63ml Vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
2 eggs
1tsp Vanilla extract
62g Gluten free plain flour
31g Maize flour
31g Ground almonds
1tsp Baking powder
pinch of salt
30g Icing sugar

If you just want to use regular flour just substitute the gluten free plain flour, maize flour and ground almonds for 124g plain flour.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Mix cocoa, sugar and vegetable oil in a bowl.

Beat in 1 egg at a time into the mixture.

Stir in vanilla extract.

Combine flour, maize flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt and stir into the mixture.

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Leave the mixture to firm up in the fridge.

Use a teaspoon to form a ball of mixture and roll in the icing sugar.

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Place on baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes.

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Try not to eat before you have had a chance to share with your loved ones!


Original recipe courtesy of

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Dairy free Mince-beef pie and sneaky jam tarts…

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So its been snowing this week, cue much excitement in our house. Its taking us an extra 5 minutes to get out the house as hats have to be located, scarves tied in the exact way each daughter deems acceptable and then gloves. Don’t get me started on trying to put gloves on…We have managed to loose two hats this week, but on the plus side no children.
Cold days demand cosy, warming, comfort food and to be me that means one thing – pie! One of my daughters has a thing for pastry and I have to say I agree. I never realised how easy it was to make from scratch and in my opinion nothing beats homemade pastry. The mince beef filling is really lovely and sweet and its a all round crowd pleaser. The girls and my husband love it.
And the best bit about making a pie is there is always a bit left over for the children to make some yummy jam tarts.

This recipe is taken from Lisa Faulkner’s book ‘Recipes from my mother for my daughter’

Firstly you need to make the pastry so you can rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes.


375g plain flour
125g cold lard, cubed
50g cold margarine, cubed (I use stork)
Couple of tablespoons of cold water
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten to finish

To make pastry put flour, lard, margarine and salt in a food processor and whizz up for 30 seconds or so until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the water and whizz for a couple of seconds until the mix starts to form a dough.
When you have reached this stage tip onto a floured surface and knead for 30 seconds or so until it all comes together in a dough.
Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Mince-beef filling

500g mince beef
1 onion finely chopped
1 leek finely chopped
2 or 3 carrots grated
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
6 mushrooms finely chopped
1 large teaspoon Marmite
500ml beef stock
salt and pepper

Its important to get the veg all finely chopped as that helps it to cook down and means you have a lovely soft filling.

Brown mince in a large frying pan over medium heat
Add all the vegetable and fry for 5 -10 minutes, stirring every now and again
Add marmite and stock, bring to the boil and then turn down heat to simmer for 45 minutes or longer if you have time.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Split pastry in half and roll each half into a disc slightly larger than your pie dish (I use the old fashioned white enamel ones)
Put one disc of pastry on the plate
Spoon your filling into the pastry use a slotted spoon so the wet juice doesn’t make the pastry soggy.
Top with the other disc of pastry.
Use a fork to flute the edge of the pie.
Prick the middle of the pie with a fork.
Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg.
Cook for 30-40 minutes.

I freeze the remainder of the beef in a child size portion to serve with mash or create a mini shepherds pie at a later point.

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Dairy free Lamb korma

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I have had a bit of a battle on my hands when it comes to curry. The girls never eat it. They push it around their plates, try the tiniest bit and declare they don’t like it. I put a brave face on it, but on the inside I am seething.

So I tried to make it more fun. I made a thali with curry, rice, mini poppadoms and roti breads (watch out nan bread contains yoghurt) and a dollop of mango chutney. It worked and they enjoyed dipping the various bits in curry and had fun tasting different combinations. They still didn’t eat much curry but it was better than before. I have always used coconut yoghurt in my curries to add creaminess, but I was intrigued when I found a  recipe in Pippa Kendricks ‘The Intolerant Gourmet’ which used oatly cream. I tweaked her recipe slightly and guess what? The girls ate it – all of it. Its a delicious curry, really mild and creamy, the meat is meltingly soft and its perfect for all the family. It will also freeze so make a big batch and freeze into portions.

So here is my slightly modified version. If you have a slow cooker this recipe works brilliantly in it with no modifications.

Lamb Korma

4 gloves of garlic

2.5cm root ginger 

2 onions

3 cardamom pods

3 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil 

2.5cm cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp tomato puree

500g diced lamb

150ml oat cream

50g sachet of creamed coconut

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Crush garlic, and finely grate the ginger. I use a mini chopper and whizz it all up in that. Set aside.

Finely chop the onions (again if you have a mini chopper whizz up in that). Crush the cardamom pods with the back of a knife.

Heat the oil in a heavy based casserole. Add the onion, cinnamon stick, cardamom and bay leaves. Gently fry over a low heat f0r 8-10 mins until onion is soft but not browned.

Add the ginger and garlic to the pan. Along with the ground coriander, turmeric, chilli, and tomato puree. Mix well and continue to fry over a low heat for about 5 mins.

Add the lamb to the pan and coat with the mixture. Season well.

Add the oatly cream, and bring to the boil. Cover and gently simmer for an hour or so. If you are using a slow cooker, transfer to a slow cooker and cook on high for around 3 hours.

Just before you serve stir in the sachet of creamed coconut. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and if you like garnish with some fresh coriander.

I serve it with basmati rice coloured with turmeric and some mini poppadoms.



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Oh so simple… Chia seed pudding

chia pudding

This is a really simple dairy free,  soya free, gluten free pudding that is so simple to make. Its made with chia seeds which are a brilliant super food. They are full of calcium, iron, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and  they fill you up with fibre, protein and and absorb 30 times their volume in liquid so great if you are still feeling the post Christmas bloat.

Make this the night before, and like magic in the morning you have a gorgeous pudding.

You will need

400ml can of coconut milk (has to be coconut milk in can

40g Chia seeds

1tbsp runny honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 or 5 ramekins depending on portion size

Mix the ingredients together

Pour into ramekins and cover with cling film. 

Leave in the fridge overnight.

I topped mine with raspberries and a few flaked almonds…mmm delicious. Have as a speedy delicious breakfast or a yummy dairy free pudding suitable for all the family.


Recipe courtesy of


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