Browse Month by May 2015
Travelling with 5

Family Days Out in London – Greenwich & the Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark - A Free From Life

I love living near London. Within half an hour, we can be at one of three major stations – London Bridge, Waterloo East or Charing Cross, from which we can get to most major tourist areas.

On Monday, I took two of my three kids to Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark. We went by Thames Clipper boat from Embankment, just to make the journey that bit more exciting. Although it probably takes longer that way, you get to see a lot more and it’s fun to spot and point out the famous landmarks that line the Thames.

By the time we arrived in Greenwich though, the three of us were feeling desperately hungry. However, first stop on the list was to collect some gluten and dairy free doughnuts that I ordered from Borough 22 Bakehouse. Having contacted Ryan via Facebook, he very kindly arranged to meet us in Greenwich to drop a box off, even though it was a Bank Holiday. Hand delivered, freshly made doughnuts – you can’t get better than that can you? More about these in a separate post though.

After sharing one of the doughnuts (well it would be rude not to), we went to find somewhere to eat. I didn’t bother to do my usual research, as I felt sure we would find somewhere suitable to cater for my son’s gluten and dairy intolerance. We decided to go for burgers thinking that the modern, gourmet burger joints you see everywhere now are sure to be with the times when it comes to dealing with these things.

Byron burger house is right on the river side, just as you get off the boat. We had to queue for about twenty minutes to get a table, making me think it would have been wiser to book, but by then I realised if we went anywhere else we would have the same problem. My son was ratty as anything by this point. The drop in his blood sugar was obvious by his whinging behaviour. I felt the same, I just didn’t express it in the same way and neither did my eleven year old daughter.

When we finally got a seat, I asked for the gluten free menu but there wasn’t one. My heart sank, but the manager came over to go through what we could have. It turns out that the burgers are gluten free, which is one plus point, but there are no gluten free buns. His choice was to have a kids burger with salad and if he wanted fries, he could have the skin-on chips (not the fries as they are wheat coated). But here’s the thing – they are cooked in the same oil, so if you are coeliac, there is no way you could eat them. My son is gluten intolerant and I knew that given how hungry he was, there was no way he would have enough with just a burger and a bit of salad, so I said yes to the chips. He ate a few, but said they weren’t very nice anyway. His burger was also dry.

As for dessert, ice-cream was the only gluten free choice for children and there was nothing dairy free. Lucky I had the doughnuts then! What smacks in the face in places like these is that they still charged us for the set children’s meal. I should have argued it, but all I wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible. The other thing that surprises me is that they are obviously aware of the potential dangers of cooking oil contamination and yet they don’t provide an alternative.

Sometimes you have to write off an experience and that is one of those times. With some energy restored, we went on to tour the Cutty Sark, which both children really enjoyed. It’s very engaging and there are a lot of interactive displays for the children to have a go at. Plus, we also caught part of the tour, which took us back in time to when the ship was at its heyday.

The Cutty Sark was a famous ship in it’s day, known for it’s speedy journeys around the world. A cargo ship, it brought firstly tea from China and then went on to ship wool to Australia in it’s later years. Rescued and restored to it’s former glory, the Cutty Sark is the only surviving tea ship of it’s kind.

Cutty Sark - A Free From Life

Greenwich is a fun and vibrant area to visit. Not only are you absorbed in the maritime history of London, there is a bohemian feel to the area, especially around the market place. In the main square by the Cutty Sark, there was a vintage market on, complete with lindy hop dancers. In the park on the opposite side, was a beer festival with live music, put on by a local brewery. It felt like there was something for everyone.

Greenwich Maritime Museum - A Free From Life
One thing I can say about a day out in London is that it is tiring. The journey, complete with activities and sight seeing certainly wore me out, so I’m not surprised that the kids were on their knees by the time we arrived home. Goodness knows how we managed to save two doughnuts so that my husband and other daughter didn’t miss out, but we did. Apart from the hole in the middle, they were still in one piece too!


joining in with Country Kids

Shared with Monday Escapes


Review – Gluten & Dairy Free Doughnuts – Borough 22 Bakehouse

Gluten and dairy free doughnuts - A Free From Life
Maple and pecan

I rarely take the kids food shopping anymore and I was reminded why when I took my two girls with me the other day. My ‘stick to the list’ philosophy went out of the window very quickly and we came away with a load of extras that I would never normally buy. That included a packet of doughnuts, which the girls chose from the bakery. I said they could choose something because we didn’t have my dairy and gluten intolerant son with us (he was on a play date), otherwise it’s not fair, of course. Given that he wasn’t with us, they obviously went for it and came back with a packet of jam filled, sugar coated doughnuts. We couldn’t hide the evidence, as there were five in the packet and when my son came home and saw them he was most put out. No one was able to convince him that they weren’t very nice and he wouldn’t have enjoyed them anyway.

It felt like fate the next day when I spotted a post on a gluten free Facebook group about doughnuts. There was a comment from Ryan Panchoo of Borough 22 bakehouse saying that they make gluten free ones. Do you make them dairy free as well? I asked and the reply was that yes, they could do that too. The bakery is based near Greenwich, we were due to go to Greenwich on the Bank Holiday Monday, could we somehow get some when we come? It seemed an opportunity too good to be missed. ‘Let’s make this happen,’ Ryan said.

Gluten and dairy free doughnuts - A Free From Life

I like that – someone who’s prepared to go the extra mile. Ryan comes across as someone who genuinely believes in his products and wants to connect with people. Yes, of course he wants to market his products, but you can tell it’s more than that. With his wife and children suffering from multiple food intolerances, Ryan knows how difficult it can be to buy decent baked goods. He understands, which is why he set up a bakery to cater for those needs. And boy does he cater. We only tried the doughnuts, but if they are anything to go by, Borough 22 does not disappoint.

My last experience of a doughnut was at the seaside, where the warm, sugary treats that hold many memories of childhood holidays, turned out to be greasy, stodgy and altogether disappointing. And to think I’d broken my no-sugar fast for that. The gluten and dairy free alternatives from Borough 22 were, in contrast, light and fluffy. They have the all important crispy bite, into a soft centre, but without being greasy and doughy. They are different from wheat-based doughnuts, but in a good way. You get the pleasure of eating a sweet treat but without the guilty after taste.

Gluten and dairy free doughnuts - A Free From Life

For my son, being able to eat a doughnut is a real pleasure. Watching him eat one is even better. He whole heartedly, lip smackingly agreed that they were the best things ever and that’s saying something. The last time he had a doughnut was at Babycakes bakery in New York and although it would be nice to have the excuse to go all the way back there just for a sweet treat, we now know we don’t have to.

Savoury Dishes

Slow Cooker Ribs with Gluten Free Glaze

Slow Cooker Ribs with Gluten free Glaze -


Yes I know we want to put the slow cooker away now that the warmer weather is here, but don’t be too hasty. I have a recipe for you that uses the slow cooker to make a perfect, light summery meal. For all you puritans out there who think that the only and best way to cook ribs is on the barbeque, think again. Cooking them in the slow cooker first ensures that you have the juiciest, mouth watering ribs with meat that literally falls off the bone and melts in your mouth.

If you’re one of those people who likes to chew away at the bones for hours on end, then perhaps this isn’t the recipe for you. But for the rest, these ribs are sure to go down a treat. Finish them on the barbecue or grill, it’s your choice.


1 large pack of ribs (you can use as many as you can fit in your slow cooker)

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

1 litre boiling water

For the glaze:

2 tbsp. Tamari

2tbsp honey

1 tsp mixed spice


  • Put the vegetables in the slow cooker and arrange the ribs on top
  • Add the boiling water, cover and cook on low for 7 hours, or on high for 5 hours
  • Once cooked, take the ribs carefully out of the cooking stock and transfer to a barbecue or grill
  • Brush with the glaze and grill both sides (adding more glaze once turned). This amount of glaze was enough for around 12 short ribs. For larger quantities, simply double the proportions

Serve with rice and salad (optional suggestion).



Savoury Dishes

Seasonal Cooking – Asparagus Quiche (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Asparagus Quiche - a Free-From Life


I love asparagus, especially when it’s in season and right now you can find British grown asparagus everywhere you turn (yes, even by the side of the road if you happen to live in Kent).

The British asparagus growing season is relatively short, running from the 24th April to the 21st June, according to the British Asparagus website. Of course, as with anything in season, you don’t need to do much to it other than lightly steam or griddle. Having said that, with the arrival of the warmer weather, what better way to eat this lovely vegetable than to combine it with a lighter meal by adding it to a quiche?

Quiche is one of my favourite summer dishes, but when you have a dairy and wheat intolerant person in your family, it’s not exactly conducive to  their diet. What can you do other than make it yourself? Homemade quiche is much nicer anyway. I love the sweet and savoury combination that the sorghum and gram flour mix brings to this pastry. It’s light and short, but without being too crumbly that you can’t handle it. The gram flour also adds a lovely golden colour to the pastry when it’s cooked.

Ingredients (suitable to fill a 10 inch pie plate or quiche dish)


75g sorghum flour

25g tapioca starch

100g gram flour

100g dairy free butter alternative

4 tbsp. water


4 eggs

1 carton cream (dairy substitute such as soya cream or oat cream)

Optional – 40g grated cheese or cheese alternative

1 tin of tuna

1 bunch of asparagus (trimmed)

Set the oven at 180/gas 4


Instructions for the pastry base:

  • Combine the flours and starch and mix well
  • Add the butter in cubes and rub into the flour to form a crumb-like texture
  • Add the water and stir to combine into a dough
  • Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for minimum of 20 minutes
  • Once chilled, roll between two pieces of cling film to form a round (check against your pie dish to make sure it’s slightly wider than the base with enough to come up the sides
  • Grease or oil the pie dish
  • Carefully arrange the rolled out dough in to the dish, trimming the edges and use a fork to prick all over the base

I always partially cook the pastry when I make a quiche so as to avoid getting a soggy bottom! Just 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven is enough. You don’t really need to use any pie weights or dried beans, as is the case with wheat pastry either. We’re don’t need to worry about the pastry shrinking, because it doesn’t have any gluten in it. There you go – gluten free 1: gluten 0.

Instructions for the filling:

  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl and stir in the cream. If you want to add cheese, or any dairy free alternative, now is the time to do it
  • Spread the tuna over the base of the pastry and arrange the asparagus on top
  • Pour the egg mixture over the tuna and asparagus and ensure it’s completely covered
  • Return the quiche to the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until browned

This is a large quiche to be enjoyed by all the family. The gluten and dairy eaters amongst you will not know any different, I promise you!

Savoury Dishes

Sweet Potato Frittata

Spring has arrived and it seems like there might be the slightest chance that we can put that slow cooker away and start looking forward to lighter meals. This frittata recipe uses sweet potatoes in place of the traditional white spuds and can include anything else that you might find in your fridge. It’s dairy free, gluten free and nightshade free.

I always have eggs and sweet potatoes in my fridge, so this frittata is a handy ‘Friday dish’ for me. You know, for those days where you can’t be bothered to make a big meal and you just need something simple and quick. It’s one of those dishes that’s great for those days when you’re not really sure what else to make, but you know you need a satisfying family meal.


2 large or 3 small sweet potatoes

1 small courgette, grated

6 large eggs

6 slices or rashers of Parma ham or bacon

1 red onion, sliced

Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and microwave for 5 minutes on full power. Slice into discs of around 0.5cm (1/4 inch) thickness.

Use a large frying pan of around 30cm (12 inch) diameter.

Fry the onion until soft, then add the sweet potato, arranging the discs in one layer across the bottom of the pan.

If using bacon, grill first. Arrange the bacon or Parma ham slices across the top of the sweet potato in one layer.

Whisk the eggs in a large measuring jug and add the grated courgette, whisking again to incorporate.

Pour this mixture into the pan, ensuring that it covers the bacon/ham and sweet potatoes.

Cook for 15 minutes on a medium heat.

(You can sprinkle with lacto-free cheese or a dairy alternative at this stage, if using)

Transfer to a grill to brown the top.

Loosen the sides of the frittata, then transfer to a plate to serve. An easy way to remove it is to place an inverted dinner plate on the top, hold the base of the plate in one palm, turn the pan over with your other hand and allow the frittata tip out on to the plate.