Freeze Dried Fruit Snacks

We have recently tried two types of freeze fried fruit snacks.  The first type was made by Googly Fruit.  We tried the apple and blueberry flavour, and the banana and raspberry flavour.  In both cases, you have freeze-dried pieces of one fruit (apple or banana) mixed with whole freeze-dried berries (raspberry or blueberry).  The Allergy Brothers were not impressed.  The freeze-dried blueberries were a little yucky looking.  Also, the fruit starts rehydrating in your mouth as you eat it, which is an unusual sensation.  I thought they were okay.  I was hoping to be able to keep a couple of packets in the cupboard for the days when I am disorganised and have run out of fresh fruit or salad to put in their packed lunches, but the freeze-dried fruit just came back home minus one or two tested pieces.

Sour_Cherry_bar

I also tested a Freya’s Sour Cherry crunchy fruit bar.  This product is more processed so it is in the form of a bar (it is broken into chunks in the photo; it’s like a chocolate bar), and has more ingredients (Sour cherries (30%), fruit extract (carob) and fruit juice concentrate (apple and grape), Trehalose, Maltodextrin, Gelling agent:Pectins).  I think this product looked nicer than the slighty weird looking whole freeze-dried berries.  It still rehydrated a bit in your mouth, but not as much as the Googly Fruits products.  You could actually crunch into it as you ate it.

The Allergy Brothers quite like eating fruit (well, at least the ones that they aren’t allergic to) so I don’t think these products are that helpful for us.  However, I do think they have their uses.  If you needed to pack an easy to store, non messy fruit snack (perhaps for a long journey), then these might be good for you.

I think the best use for these products are for children and adults who don’t like fruit normally.  People with sensory processing dysfunctions and who are on the autistic spectrum often find the wet textures of fruits unpleasant to eat.  If you have a child who is happy to eat dry, crunchy foods then these freeze-dried fruits might be a way of encouraging them to eat fruit.  They get the fibre and nutrients in the fruit without the distress of eating a food that has a disagreeable, to them, texture.

 

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Fossil Biscuits

Updated recipe for improved clarity!

The dinosaurs went stomping all over our biscuits (and we learnt about how fossil tracks are formed). Idea stolen from Okido magazine.

Ingredients

  • 180g margarine
  • 120g sugar
  • 150g corn flour
  • 150g gram flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Also required – toy dinosaurs, toy insects, or similar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.
  2. Cream the margarine and sugar together.
  3. Stir in flours and vanilla essence, and work together to form a soft dough.
  4. Roll out on a floured surface and cut into shapes.
  5. Now make your fossils!  Either have your dinosaurs stomp all over the biscuits leaving footprints, or press your insects into the top of the biscuits to leave their mark.  Remember to remove the plastic toys before baking.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.  You could read about how dinosaur footprint fossils are formed here or you could watch these videos (Footprints reveal dinosaur chase or More detailed video for older children and adults about how fossil tracks are used in research) while you wait.
  7. Leave to cool before removing from baking sheet.

Vegan Cheese Showdown

The holiday season has all sorts of associations for different people.  Rather shallowly and greedily, one of the things I love about Christmas is the food, especially cheese.  I was really pleased to see some new (to me) vegan cheeses on the Veggie Stuff website.  So, without further ado, it’s a vegan cheese showdown <hum the Rocky theme tune here>.

The two cheeses are Jeezini Intens and Green Vie Smoked Gouda flavour.

Obviously, the most important criteria on this site is ingredients.  The Green Vie’s ingredients are “Water, Coconut Oil (Non-Hydrogenated) (24%), Modified starch, Sea Salt, Vegan Flavourings, Smoke Flavouring, Colour: Natural Beta Carotene, Preservative: Sorbic Acid, Vitamin B12”.  The Jeezini ‘s ingredients are “Water, Plant Based Fats (Shea Kernal Oil, Coconut Oil) (23%), Modified Starch, Starch, Sea Salt, Vegan Flavour (Contains Soya Bean Oil), Olive Extract, Colour: B-carotene.”  They are both free from dairy, gluten, lactose, and palm oil.  The Green Vie brand is also soya free, while the Jeezini includes soybean oil.

Round One to Green Vie on points

Now, price – the Green Vie was £2.85 for 180g and the Jeezini Intens was £3.50 for 200g.

Round Two to Green Vie on points

Finally, it’s the taste test.  Recklessly, and despite all my previous experience with vegan cheese, I decided to try a slice uncooked.  The Jeezini was not good; it had that weird soapy taste that vegan cheese often has.  The Green Vie tasted really good.  To be fair, the Veggie Stuff website had a tip about the Jeezini “Best served at room temperature, as the flavour and texture is improved when warmer. This cheese alternative melts very well, ideally under direct heat like grilling or also zapped in a microwave.”  I grilled the cheeses on a wrap.  The Green Vie was still really good.  I am afraid that the Veggie Stuff website and I will have to agree to disagree.  Heating the Jeezini just made it stinkier and soapier.  At this stage, I decided to take The Green Vie Smoked Gouda to the ultimate level – the mighty crisp sandwich.  Some of the cheese and crushed Pom Bears in a wrap turned out to be the crowning glory of this taste test.  The Jeezini was consigned to the rubbish bin, which as I am both frugal and greedy gives you an idea of how bad it really was.

Round Three – win by knock out to Green Vie.

 

Two young boys are on a beach. They are facing away from the camera and are a bit over dressed.

People Say The Strangest Things…

The weather has been glorious for the last week.  The Allergy Brothers and I have been taking full advantage of the unseasonal sunshine.  We are very fortunate to live in walking distance of the sea.  This means that we can go to the beach and make sand castles after school.  The problem is that most of the Allergy Brothers’ food requires cooking from scratch and this cuts down on our playtime.  I had noticed that a local fish and chip shop was advertising that they can use gluten free batter and had other dietary options.  I thought I would give them a ring and see if they could cater for the Allergy Brothers as this would be a perfect post-beach, no cooking treat.  This is how the phone call went:

Me: Hi.  I need to ask some questions about whether you will be able to cater for my sons, who have multiple allergies.  Are your chips cooked in a separate fryer to the other food?

Lady: Yes, they are.

Me: (getting a bit excited) And what oil do you use?

Lady: Sunflower.

Me: (getting quite a bit excited): And they are definitely cooked on their own?

Lady: Oh yes.  Hang on, we use a chemical to stop the potatoes discolouring after they have been cut.  I’ll go and check the label.  [She comes back and reads me the label.  It’s basically some sulphites, which, although a problem for others, do not seem to affect the Allergy Brothers].

Me: (really very excited about a night off from cooking)  That sounds great.  We’ll see you soon.  (I’m about to put the phone down and tell the Allergy Brothers the good news when…)

Lady: (on a roll of helpfulness) We do jacket potatoes and salads too.  Or they could have something with gluten-free batter because that will be okay because we cook them with the chips.

Me: (inwardly yelling “Nnnnnnoooooo” while falling to my knees in slow-motion) So the gluten-free battered items are cooked with the chips?

Lady: (sheepishly): Yes.

Me: Okay, well thanks for your time, but unfortunately we won’t be able to eat at your restaurant. Thanks, and goodbye.

Two young boys are on a beach. They are facing away from the camera and are a bit over dressed.

Allergy Little and I have been using his non-nursery days to enjoy local tourist attractions without the crowds, but with good weather.  We have a season ticket to an animal park.  On our latest visit, I noticed that they now sell non-dairy ice cream.  I asked the sales assistant if he could tell me the ingredients.  He looked at the tub and seemed really puzzled.  Finally, he said “Well, it says it’s non-dairy, but it’s got egg in.”  This is not the first time I have heard this and I have never really found a nice way of replying that doesn’t make the other person sound silly.  So I just said “Well, cows don’t lay eggs, but I agree this might be a problem for vegans.  Thanks for your help.”

These were just the silly things people said to me about allergies and food this week!  What is your favourite or most hated comment you have ever had about allergies or your food choices?  I would love to hear that I am not alone!  Also, if anyone has a gracious response to the dairy and eggs situation, could you share it with me as I don’t like to be unkind, but the correct response is alluding me?  Finally, if you have had an allergy disappointment this week then don’t forget to cheer yourself up by entering our amazing Free From giveaway!