Saturday, September 30, 2017

Vanilla shortage, how I miss vanilla!

It was in 2015 that a vanilla shortage was first predicted, and there are still press articles coming out about it like this one from the BBC.

I love vanilla, and I had been buying ground Bourbon vanilla for some time until earlier this year when it became impossible to find anywhere. The ground vanilla was pure, no additives of any kind and I put it in my plain yoghurt and my hot raw cacao drink each evening.

I also like the Rachel's Organic low fat yogurts, particularly vanilla. So I was dismayed to find that one supermarket where I could still buy Rachel's seems to no longer have the vanilla. I haven't checked the other source, but I imagine they will also no longer stock it. It was suggested that I buy Yeo Valley vanilla yoghurt instead but I stopped buying flavoured yoghurts from Yeo Valley when they changed the ingredients to contain maize as a thickener. Rice is fine, tapioca is fine but not maize. It tells me Yeo Valley still have some vanilla, as does Green and Blacks. Other brands of vanilla yoghurts are still available, none of which I can eat.

I know I can't avoid maize completely, some of my prescription tablets contain it in tiny amounts. Maize has the same effect on me as wheat and other grain when eaten in any quantity, I once tried to use it to make bread etc.

I have managed without vanilla all year, I use cinnamon and nutmeg and have almost forgotten how much better things taste with vanilla!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Shopping for gluten free, corn free, grain free, additive free staples.

This blog is so neglected! I blog so much on my other blog, and forget about this one entirely.

Well the subject today is shopping for those store cupboard staples that cost us so much because we can't eat the same as everyone else.

You know the rice pasta, yeast free stock cubes, organic tinned pulses (because the non organic alternatives have additives the organic is just pulses and water), spices, organic brown basmati rice (supermarkets have organic basmati, organic whole rice but not organic whole basmati).

I used to get most of my store cupboard stuff in a health shop in Bath called Harvest, and when I worked in Bath I could go there during my lunch break or after work sometimes and stock up. After I retired going there meant a planned trip into Bath, with petrol costs and parking and I tended to wait until I was pretty much out of everything, but when I got there I often found one of the items I really needed was out of stock. So I had to go without, or make a special trip back just for that one item.

This got more tricky last year when Hubby changed his job and took our only car to work leaving me without a car, and meaning that trips to Harvest were fewer and further between and involved us both going along, and still they were out of at least one thing that I wanted every time.

Then I found an online store called EcoGreen, who had everything I needed. They charged delivery which could be steep, but they gave a discount of 5% which offset the delivery charge. The service was terrible, I would order a large amount when I was nearly out and it took weeks or months to arrive. When it did arrive it was over packed, and there was always something they were out of........ deja vu? Well it wasn't usually something critical like rice.

Then one day I went to place an order and found they were in the hands of the liquidators, no surprise there. Now what can I do? Back to Harvest perhaps!

Then I had an idea, googling some, and searching Amazon for some I found that Amazon sells everything I want and more. If I choose sellers carefully delivery is free too. Most of the free delivery groceries are sold by Amazon themselves, and it is sold in bulk - but that is okay because I was buying it in bulk from the doomed EcoGreen.

So I have purchased Rizopia rice pasta, and Dove's Farm rice pasta, the latter is cheaper by a third and the quality seems to have improved. King Soba rice noodles too in all varieties, and organic whole spices - I have a cupboard full of them now. I even ordered Suma organic chopped tomatoes.

Some things I can still get locally, like Kallo yeast free stock cubes from Asda, and organic passata which only contains tomatoes and salt, but weirdly the tinned tomatoes of the same make contain citric acid. All of the supermarkets stopped selling rice pasta, introducing "gluten free" pasta of their own make which sadly contains corn which I can't tolerate either. I could still get rice noodles in Tesco for a long time but they seem to have stopped stocking those also.

We have a Holland and Barratts where I get a few things, they have more online but have reduced the organic range over the years.

I get my fruit, veg and some dairy and deli items delivered from Riverford, and sometimes chicken too.

I get the rest from the supermarkets, organic yogurt, non organic quark and cottage cheese, tinned pulses which don't really work out to be cost effective to buy from Amazon. They don't all stock all the things I need, Sainsburys stocks organic black beans, and organic Parmigiano Reggiano. Tesco stock organic chick peas, kidney beans, butter beans, and more. Asda have organic kidney beans as well as the passata and stock cubes already mentioned.

I have had to compromise my organic principles a little because I became a member of Slimming World a couple of years or so ago, and some of the basics don't come organic. Strawberries do but are too expensive to keep buying for the amount I eat now. I even grew my own plants in a effort to eat chemical free fruit but they aren't very productive.

I have never found organic quark, and the only organic cottage cheese I found was not quite as low fat as I wanted and only stocked by Waitrose - some of the time.

I did very well during my first SW year losing over 2 stone (I previously only weighed myself in Kilos, I hate the metric system and always have), then last year I went up and down but didn't lose more and put that down to a stressful year. This year was going to be different, but it has been the year from hell, super-stress! I put weight on, I have mostly lost it and got back to where I was and now I need to keep it going down for health reasons.

One thing I have discovered this year is Argan oil, which I tried in desperation when the skin on my hands was so dry it cracked and bled. I bought a little bottle of oil which I thought was pure argan oil from Holland and Barratts, the packaging was a little misleading. It said Argan oil, 100% oil, liquid gold, I found out later it was a mixture of maybe 20 or more oils including argan. It smelt gorgeous because it contained cinnamon and other spice and flower oils, and sunflower oil. It didn't last long.

It seemed to do my hands and face good, so I bought a bottle of pure argan oil next, and because it said use 3 drops on your hair 30 minutes before shampooing I thought I would - but I used it before bed and 3 drops didn't seem enough to me so I added a few more, then a few more.... woke up looking like a grease ball!
It took me days to wash it out and my hair felt like old rope, but I persisted and now my hair is lovely and strong and silky, and I noticed that my hairbrush no longer resembles a dead hairy centipede.

H&B is an expensive place to buy argan oil, you can get it in double the size bottles for half the price from - you know what is coming - Amazon! Also the one I am buying from Amazon comes in a brown bottle not clear and that has to be better for the oil.

I think that is the end of my rambling for tonight, I have run out of words.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Home made baked beans

Carol’s Baked Beans Recipe (or pasta sauce)

For each tin (or box)Haricot beans in water, drained and rinsed in clean water until clear.
1 Tin Chopped plum tomatoes
1 onion chopped finely
Fresh ginger amount to taste, 1.5 cm if unsure, peeled and chopped finely
Fresh Garlic peeled and chopped finely – from 2 cloves to as many as you like up to a whole bulb
Spices, I use my own ground mixture of fenugreek, coriander and cumin, with added dried fenugreek leaves, ground turmeric, either grind whole dried chillies into the own ground mix or add chilli powder. I also have added cinnamon and nutmeg.
Fresh or frozen chopped coriander (or basil), add a little or a lot if liked.
A little oil (I add a little butter  too).
Salt and pepper to taste.

First heat the oil (and butter if used) over a low heat in a large enough saucepan, and add the chopped garlic, onion and ginger, sauté until the onion is going transparent.
Add the spices and continue to fry gently stirring all the time for 30 seconds to a minute, then remove from the heat so they don’t burn and add the tin of chopped tomatoes.
Return to the heat and stir while heating, and add haricot beans and chopped herbs and stir well, and continue to heat until the beans have absorbed the flavour of the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Alternatives ideas:
Leave out the beans and use the sauce as a base for any pasta dish, or vegetable dish.
Use cannellini beans or chick peas or any other beans of choice.
Add vegetables (fresh beans, peppers, whatever you like) to the sauce with the beans and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Favourite savoury snack right now

I sometimes miss toast so this is the next best thing for me. Toasted goats cheese on rice cakes, leave it plain or add slices of tomato or baby tomatoes and slices of oak smoked garlic if available.

I use one organic soft goats cheese, this is a small soft round cheese with no rind. Cut the cheese into 3 rounds and carefully press onto 3 rice cakes spreading it slightly and making sure the edges are covered, add toppings of choice or leave plain. Grill gently until beginning to colour, again the choice of how far you let it go is up to you. This is also delicious served with fresh basil leaves or a green salad.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


It isn't just what I eat that causes problems, skin within, skin without all reacts. We recently had a washing machine crisis. We had to take piles of clothes to the only laundrette in town which only does service washes. I took our own washing liquid, and conditioner - both Surecare unscented, but the clothes came back with an unpleasant scent, I think tumble dryer sheets.
It didn't occur to me they would be used, and you would think the Surecare would give some clue to the fact I can't have perfumed stuff. So a couple of weeks later some articles still have that whiff, though the machine is back in action and I am eliminating it as fast as I can!

So I have really sore eyes, feel really tired and can't do much, feel awful. Lets hope I get rid of the stuff quick.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I am not coeliac

Thanks for the tip Caroline, and wherever I go and mention I have problems with wheat it is assumed that I am a coeliac.

I wish it was that easy. I can't eat wheat, even with gluten removed, I can't eat any other grain apart from rice and I can't eat maize/corn/sweetcorn.

I cannot eat things with colouring, preservatives, there is a long list. I have had problems with tomatoes and with fruit, it is very restricting and when eating out very difficult.

At work they are booking up for the Christmas meal and before I could say I would go to the place that was being offered I had to ring and talk to the chef about ingredients. He was very nice (French too) and put my mind at ease, and said if I give him a list of what I can't eat he will make sure I don't get any of in the food.

It is a very long list and it is easier to list what I can safely eat.

I have had allergy tests, only for the major food groups and the nice doctor said you are not allergic to any of them so go away and eat anything you like - I wish I could. When I try I usually suffer afterwards, sometimes I just have to try and eat the things I love, shame they make me ill.

I have had endoscopies, colonoscopies, and a biopsy, the charming doctor (who did every one of them over several years) told me he never wanted to see me again, and the feeling is mutual - I didn't ask for the tests I only wanted help with the symptoms, unfortunately the first test they send me for every time is that one!

One time my doctor told me I couldn't be coeliac as I was too fat!

I wish I could be normal, grab a quick sandwich, eat the buffet, not have to take in food that I have to heat in the kitchen and stink it out of fish and get complaints.

I only eat fish or organic chicken, no other meat.

Last night I didn't know what to eat, didn't really fancy anything I normally have so ended up cooking a pan of rice pasta and making up a cheese sauce using rice flour and adding onions fried in butter (in fact they were the base of the sauce) as I must eat some vegetables to keep my system in order, and I added organic cheese and fresh basil.