Thursday, 9 December 2010

Cinnamon Banana Cake, alternative Christmas cake?

One of my followers (@adelinekeirle) sent me this lactose free recipe for a cinnamon and banana cake, which I think could make a lovely alternative Christmas cake, and here's a picture of Adeline's cake, looks moist and delicious!:

The recipe is from Harry Eastwood's Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache cake book. There are loads of recipes in there that are lactose and wheat free as she replaces most butter and extra sugars with vegetables and plain flour with rice flour.
  • 140g banana (peeled weight)
  • 2 medium free-range eggs
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 150g topped, tailed, peeled and finely grated courgettes/zucchinis
  • 150g rice flour (which makes the cake wheat free, but you can use plain flour also)
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g finely chopped brazil/pecan/walnuts (I used 25g pecans and 25g walnuts)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Brush the inside of a loaf tin (I didn't have one, so used a circular cake tin) with some vegetable oil
  2. Mash the banana thoroughly
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar for a full 3 mins until pale and light. Whisk in the mashed-up banana until completely incorporated, then add the courgette and beat again.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon and mixed spice, and whisk again until completely blended.
  5. Mix in most of the nuts and pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 mins.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Hello! I haven't posted for a while, been rather busy with this, and that. I can't say I've got to the bottom of this, and honestly haven't even started on that!

I posted a while back about live yoghurt being tolerable for me. Well, it seems I might have to retract that post! I've eaten some over the past few days, including two servings today, and while my symptoms aren't as bad as if I'd consumed the same amount of plain milk, they're not quite as minimal as they have been. There may be other factors at work here, as 'this' thing I'm trying to get to the bottom of could be causing similar GI symptoms to lactose intolerance. I definitely noticed adverse symptoms when I ate ice cream the other night!

In other news, I have discovered a previously untapped talent for making soup! Here's my recipe for a lovely seasonal apple and parsnip soup. It's so creamy tasting and smooth textured that you'd think it had dairy in, but it doesn't! But, if you like your soup even more creamy then you could add some Lactofree milk once it's blended. Here goes:

Ingredients: (serves 5 good portions)

2 medium/large parsnips
2 medium red onions (they give a sweeter flavour)
2 medium sized baking potatoes
1 large clove of garlic (feel free to add a little more if you like)
1 and a half cooking apples (put the whole two in if you like apples!)
Handful of fresh sage
Handful of fresh thyme

6 rashers of bacon (optional, to serve)


In a large saucepan gently sweat the chopped onions in a little olive oil.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the parsnips and potatoes.

Add the garlic to the onions and let it sweat for a few minutes.

Add the potatoes and parsnips to the onions and let them gently fry for a few minutes, stirring so they are well coated in the oil.

Add boiling water to the pan so it covers the vegetables well and let it simmer.

Roughly chop the sage and pull the thyme leaves from the stems, then add to the saucepan while it's simmering away.

Peel and chop the apples and add them to the saucepan about 10 minutes before the end of cooking (which is when the potatoes and parsnips are soft).

Take the pan off the heat and blend the contents using a handblender.

Return the pan to the heat and warm through gently. Add some lactose free milk at this stage if you like a creamier soup.

While the soup is warming through, grill some bacon until it's nice a crispy then chop the cooked bacon.

Serve the soup with crusty bread and bacon bits sprinkled on the top.


Friday, 22 October 2010

Photo shoot!

The company I work for is really into healthcare and we're working on some exciting projects in the sphere of healthcare and allowing people with conditions to take charge of their own health. Because I'm lactose intolerant I've become the go-to person for lactose intolerance, which is one of the conditions we're working around. My @Lacto_X twitter feed is getting plenty of attention which is great!

Part of the work we're doing involves getting people with conditions such as lactose intolerance, or who are in the process of finding out about their health and taking charge to come forward and tell us their story. And have their photo taken. So I've just been shot (in the photographic sense) for my part in the exercise, and I've got to write around 150 words about my experience with lactose intolerance.

I'll post up a link to the people-stories when it's done!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

British Cheese Week

British Cheese Week is upon us, which would have made me very happy since I love cheese, but since I became lactose intolerant, this is not such a happy event, in fact, it just serves to remind me that I can't eat (much) cheese.

However, I have been known to make the odd exception for cheeses that I love, and cheeses that are low in lactose (or virtually lactose free, such as hard aged cheeses).

Here's my top list of good British cheeses (but for cooking I almost always use Grana Padano, an Italian cheese very similar to parmesan with a strong flavour and hard texture):

- Black Bomber: A very very very strong Welsh cow's milk cheese with a black rind. Great for cheese sauces so you get the flavour without having too much fat or too stringy a sauce
- Cornish Yarg: A westcountry traditional cow's milk cheese covered in stinging nettles. I recently tried Yarg with wild garlic, accompanied by cider, which was just the most amazing taste combination, really complimentary. Although not as low in lactose as Black Bomber, I love it so much I allow myself a couple of small pieces and deal with minimal symptoms
- Applewood smoked cheddar: As it's a cheddar cheese, this is low in lactose and the tastiest smoked cheese ever! Perfect with crackers, but again, in moderation
- Lactofree cheeses: Semi-hard and soft (spreadable) cheeses with no lactose in, perfect for baking, sandwiches, topping pasta and pizza, with crackers, with cider, on toast, everywhere! The best thing about the Lactofree cheeses is that I don't have to limit myself!

I've also found lactose free versions of emmenthal and gouda in Europe, but that'll have to wait until European Cheese week ;) (By the way, Belgian cheeses are among the best in Europe, better even than French cheeses. If you ever get the chance, try them!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Festival food again - the outcome

I'm back from Waveform and glad to say it didn't rain much. I had been looking forward to being pleasantly surprised by the food choices available to me (lactose intolerant, soy protein intolerant, allergic to nuts) but unfortunately this was not the case. There was actually only one place suitable for me to eat at, Tibetan Kitchen, which was delicious, filling and really good value. I ate there every day and even got some food to take home for post-festy dinner! I did get a bacon roll from the tea tent one day, but the entire festival ran out of bacon on the second day :(

It was only a small festival so there wasn't much in the way of food places. There was a Thai stall which looked good but I didn't trust the open kitchen to be safe enough in terms of cross-contamination from nut ingredients. The other food places were overwhelmingly vegan (apart from the cheese toastie wagon), so I couldn't have the soy pancakes, or vegan cakes as they all had soy ingredients in. By the last day there was only vegan breakfasts available, and I thought £6 for onions and mushrooms was a bit steep as I wouldn't be having the vegan protein options.

So, to sum up, this festival was great for vegans and lactose-intolerant folk with plenty of variety and interesting options, but when you add a nut allergy and intolerance to soy protein into the mix it becomes a minefield again.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Festival food again

The last festival of the summer season is on the horizon (starts tomorrow in fact!) and once again I'm looking forward to being pleasantly surprised, and relieved to find food stalls catering for my lactose/dairy free diet.

The festival I'm going to is Waveform which is an eco-friendly sustainable festival (yes, lots of hippy vibes!) which aims to use no new energy in the staging of the event and insists that all food traders use local produce wherever possible, and that all food packaging is compostable or recyclable. They even have people going through the bins at the end of the weekend to pull out anything which didn't get put in the recycling/composting bin!

It's largely because of this hippy vibe that I know I'll be in safe hands food-wise all weekend as there tends to be a brilliant provision for vegans at these smaller, hippy-ish festivals.

I am still going to take some food with me for convenience, where else am I going to get a hobnob and dairy-free chocolate spread sandwich at 5am except my tent?!

I hope anyone else going to either Waveform, Bestival or any other event this weekend has similar happy experiences :)

Monday, 6 September 2010


I made these cupcakes from Happy Sugar Funtime last night but substituted the milk/soy milk in the frosting for the juice of half a lemon and the zest of a whole lemon, then grated Green and Blacks Maya Gold over the top for a choc/citrus cake.

They're going down very well in the office, it's a combination I can recommend! The cake mixture is excellent - gives a very light moist sponge which you can make fudgier by using more brown sugar than caster (I used light muscovado sugar as it really makes a difference).

I think next I'm going to try substituting the hot water/cocoa mix with hot chocolate Oatly/cocoa as I've found Oatly makes cakes really moist and spongy...

Friday, 27 August 2010

Eating out with confidence

Last night I went out for dinner and chose Wagamama in Brighton as I'd heard the food was good, and also that they're very accommodating to people with dietary needs. The service was friendly and attentive and they certainly do cater for people with dietary needs/allergies.

I mentioned to the person taking our order that I was allergic to nuts and she went and got me the allergy menu, which lists for each different allergy/intolerance/otherwise restricted diet what dishes contain those foods and also what dishes contain those foods which can be modified to leave out the allergen. It's really easy to use as all the menu items are numbered, so you just cross reference your dietary needs with the allergy menu to choose food that's right for you.

There was a page for nut allergies, one for coeliac/gluten/wheat, one for egg, for shellfish, for lactose intolerance and vegan as well. I think there may have been more but I lost track as it was so comprehensive. You can see the whole list and options on the website which is useful if you're planning a meal out.

Everything's cooked fresh to order so there's no problem with amending certain dishes to suit your needs and I'm sure I've mentioned already, but the staff were really helpful and friendly about it. This makes a big difference as I sometimes feel like I'm being difficult when I say I have certain allergies and intolerances but they acted like it was totally normal.

I can't recommend it highly enough for anyone with (or without - the food rocks!) food allergies, find a Wagamama near you and go!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Yoghurt, and more food intolerance (suspected)

I've been doing so much reading about lactose intolerance and other food intolerances from my work, and one of the most interesting pieces of information I found was that live yoghurt can be tolerated by people with LI because the cultures in the yoghurt break down the lactose and help you digest any remaining lactose.

Although I've been eating the Lactofree yoghurts and thoroughly enjoying them, they're not stocked at my local supermarket, so the yoghurt aisle remained off-limits, so when I found out I might be able to eat live yoghurt I was excited, as live greek yoghurt with honey was/is one of my favourite treats but I'd been avoiding it.

At the weekend I bought a big tub of greek yoghurt with honey and tried some to see what happened. Admittedly, eating nearly the entire tub wasn't the best way to approach the test but I didn't get any of the usual symptoms I get when I eat lactose-containing food. I felt a little rumbly in the stomach region but put this down to assaulting my digestive system with a large amount of a foodstuff it hadn't had to cope with for years.

I'm happy to report that I've tried the yoghurt again (in a smaller portion) and haven't experienced the bad symptoms after eating it!

On a worse note, I have noticed similar symptoms in the past couple of weeks even on days where I have been really good about not eating any dairy. I'm starting to suspect wheat (gluten) intolerance and have started a food diary today (good excuse to visit Paperchase and pore over the notebooks in my lunchbreak!).

I'm not at all excited by the prospect of having yet another food intolerance but there's so much understanding for food intolerances and good substitutes now that it should be manageable if it turns out I do have a sensitivity to wheat.

Wish me luck (and less digestive discomfort)!

Monday, 16 August 2010


After managing nearly a whole summer with no (ok, maybe just a tiny little bite) of ice cream I gave in and ate a whole scoop of real dairy, lactose included sticky toffee ice cream.

The first mouthful nearly made me collapse! I actually went weak at the knees from the texture of the ice cream melting on my tongue and the taste of the milk and toffee. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the scoop, pretty much cramming it in to get as much as possible in before I started to feel the effects. Unfortunately, knowing that I was going to feel sick as a result of eating ice cream made me not enjoy the last half so much, and may have exacerbated the symptoms with a touch of indigestion alongside lactose intolerance.

Needless to say I felt bloated and sick after eating the ice cream and had to change my top as I looked so pregnant from the gas and bloating that it was getting embarrassing!

Next time I'll just stick to a couple of bites from someone else's ice cream, or better yet a sorbet! All this in the same weekend I found dairy free raspberry and dark chocolate bars (Jameson's Raspberry Ruffles - coconut and raspberry covered in dark chocolate - YUM!).

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Lactose in yoghurt

Whilst looking for mentions of lactose on Twitter I came across a link about certain types of yoghurt being suitable for people with lactose intolerance. I did a little digging and found the academic paper ( which suggests that unpasteurized yoghurts are tolerable for lactose intolerant people because the fermentation process starts to break down the lactose before it's consumed, and the active cultures help you break down any remaining lactose in the yoghurt.

I haven't tried any yet, but it will be an interesting experiment to conduct especially as I love yoghurt and can't find the Lactofree ones anywhere convenient in Brighton. I'll report back with news when I've tried it.

Please leave a comment if you have tried live, unpasteurized yoghurts and found you had little or no symptoms, or you've tried it and found you still had the same symptoms.

Friday, 6 August 2010

When will I learn?

It's Friday and I really felt the need for biscuits in the office, so I went to the shop and got distracted by some new hob nobs - chocolate creams. They're basically two small hobnobs sandwiched together by chocolate cream (like the type you get in bourbons but nicer!). I gave in and bought them, thinking that I'd be able to cope with a small amount of lactose.

Wrong! Turns out they're so nice that I've eaten half the packet and I've spent the day feeling nauseous, bloated and fatigued. I wish I'd gone for my homemade version of these biscuits (which involves a packet of hobnobs, a jar of dairy free chocolate spread, a knife, and an hour!), so I might start bringing the ingredients in to work and leaving them in my desk for Friday emergencies!

Have a lovely lactose free weekend (if you have better willpower than me!)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Afternoon all!

I got back from a festival yesterday (Secret Garden Party, and yes, it was amazing!) and was relieved to find that, yet again, all food allergies, intolerances, restrictions (enforced or chosen) were well catered for by the variety of food vendors there.

I know it would make more sense to bring and cook my own food, but I'd rather enjoy the festival than spend time cooking, washing up, not to mention not having to lug 4 days worth of food around with me.

I'm really happy that festival food vendors provide for those of us with dietary restrictions as the last thing you want at a festival is an upset stomach with only portaloos (some in pretty bad states) for relief. Of course, not all the food stalls were suitable for me but I still had a pretty good choice available, and all the staff at the stalls were helpful and considerate.

I must admit, I did succumb to a couple of slices of lemon drizzle cake on the last day, which probably wasn't the smartest move, but sometimes you have to give in to those cravings!

Liz :)

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Quick, tasty and healthy dinner recipe

This is a really quick and easy recipe, the amounts here serve 1 (and I usually just judge by eye on amounts!)


  • Half an onion (red works well)
  • A handful of mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons of Lactofree soft white cheese
  • A handful of fresh spinach (I picked mine from my garden just before cooking for extra freshness!)
  • Pasta (I find farfalle are a good shape for this sort of sauce, but fusilli or linguine will work just as well)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic (optional)

  • Roughly chop the onions and mushrooms and fry gently in a pan with some olive oil until they're just browning
  • While you're frying, put the water on to boil for the pasta
  • Add some pressed garlic to the mushrooms and onions at this stage (if you like!)
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for the required time
  • About 3 minutes before the pasta is ready, turn the heat down on the onions and mushrooms and add the Lactofree soft white cheese. Heat gently and stir until it melts
  • Roughly tear the spinach and stir it through the sauce. The heat from the sauce will wilt it naturally
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce
  • Mix the pasta and sauce together well, so the pasta is coated by the sauce
  • Serve immediately (with salad and garlic bread if you like!)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

More info on my Twitter thingy

Hi everyone! I've been lactose intolerant for nearly 3 years now, and I'm also allergic to nuts and soy protein (luckily no yukky soy yoghurts for me!) so I've always had to read the labels of everything I eat.

However, I had an idea recently to make shopping easier for us LI people, so we don't have to read every label, and so we don't miss out on things which are suitable for people with LI.

The idea came when I was out shopping, and my eye was caught by lemon curd tarts, which I love, but haven't eaten for years because I assumed that I wouldn't be able to eat them. I checked the label and was surprised to find that they happened to be dairy free. I got to thinking how many other LI people would have walked past them thinking "it's a sweet bakery good, it must have some dairy ingredient" and never found out that they're dairy free.

So, I've set up a twitter account ( where you'll find my suggestions and tips for products that are dairy or lactose free. Simply follow the account, and when you find something which is dairy free, just write a reply to Lacto_X (start your tweet with @Lacto_X) and soon the account page will fill up with all our foodie tips. Please also use the hashtag #Lacto_X in your tweets so we can all search for that hashtag.

If enough people start to use it then I'll do some tweaking to change the set up, so that whenever you tweet a food tip with the #Lacto_X hashtag it automatically retweets it out to everyone who follows the Lacto_X account.

I really hope people find this useful, as I know I'd be really grateful if there was some easy way of spreading information about foods that happen to be dairy/lactose free but which the LI community might not know about.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Recent experiences

As I'm sure most of you know, nearly every medicine contains lactose. It's a cheap bulking/sweetening agent which is why it's used. It can be a problem though when you need to take medication and you know it's going to make you feel nauseous (or worse!).

I very recently bruised my sciatic nerve (an amusing, if slightly embarrassing story which I'll share if I get asked enough!) so I'm taking a cocktail of painkillers to cope with it, which all contain lactose. In this case, I decided that the relative discomfort of the LI was much more preferable to excruciating pain.

I'd like to hear about your experiences of dealing with LI when getting medication, and how you make the decision to either take or not take the medicine.

Welcome to my Lacto_X blog!

Hi! This is a blog about my experiences with lactose intolerance, and how I'm aiming to give the LI community something useful.

I've been LI for about 3 years now, and at first I found it really hard to live with. I could only get lactose free cheese in Europe, so my parents (who day-trip every few months) would bring back loads and freeze it for me. I've never been a tea or coffee drinker, and I prefer my cereal dry, so milk was never a problem for me. Unfortunately I'm also intolerant to soy protein, so soy milk and yoghurt/cheese wasn't an option for me.

About a year or so ago a company called Arla started producing lactose free cow's milk products and that changed my dietary restrictions completely! It was so much easier to eat what I wanted without having to live with the discomfort and, well, if you're LI I don't need to explain the rest!

I've just started up a twitter account for LI people in the UK to share information about foods that are dairy free. Because I've always had to read the labels on all my foods I've found that there are things which you wouldn't even think about buying as an LI person, but which happen to be dairy free. There's also a whole host of products aimed specifically at people with our dietary needs, and the twitter account should also be a place for us to share information about these.

You can find the account at Start following the account, and posting information starting with @Lacto_X (which I'll then re-tweet so we can all share the knowledge), and use the hashtag #Lacto_X so we can all search for the hashtag as well.

I'd love it if this idea takes off, it's been rattling around my head for a couple of months now so I'd like to share it with you all!