Browse Month by March 2016
Health, Reviews

Koko Dairy Free review

Koko Dairy Free review - A Free From Life

Finding an alternative to dairy is not easy

Koko Dairy Free review - A Free From Life

I have a son who is dairy intolerant and at one time, the only real alternative was soya milk. Although he has that when we go out to a coffee shop or restaurant (because that’s usually all they offer), I don’t give him it at home. Soya contains phytoestrogens, which mimic the hormone oestrogen. Taken as a supplement by women of menopausal age, when oestrogen levels are low, it does not sit well with me to give anything containing phytoestrogens to my boy. Although the evidence to back up the effects of phytoestrogens on male fertility is weak, I would rather not take the risk.

So, what to do?

My son didn’t like almond milk, but he loved rice milk and I thought this would make a great alternative to soya, especially as you can buy it with added calcium. However, the risk of arsenic poisoning from rice products is so high, even the Food Standards Agency recommend that you don’t give rice milk to young children.

Thank goodness for Koko Dairy Free

When I discovered a dairy free alternative to milk that doesn’t contain soya or rice, I breathed a sigh of relief, especially as they have one with added calcium too. The milk is fresh and light, with a subtle flavour and can be used as a straight forward substitute to dairy.

The milk is available in 1 litres cartons, or packs of three 250ml individual cartons with straws, perfect for lunch boxes. Flavours include strawberry and chocolate and I recently utilised some to make this delicious alternative to ice-cream:

Koko dairy free strawberry and banana ice cream - A Free From Life

I confess to not buying the flavoured milks very often, so it’s a real treat when I do cave (usually when I have someone ‘helping’ me do the shopping!). I use the plain milk when I make porridge. This apple, pear and cinnamon one is a real hit in our house and has got us through the colder months:

Porridge with Apple, pear and cinnamon puree - A Free From Life

 

Dairy free spread

Last year, when I went to the Allergy and Free From Show in London, I discovered Koko Dairy Free were just launching an alternative spread. Of course, I snapped some up and couldn’t wait to try it. I’d tried using coconut oil as an alternative to butter in baking and found the results very different. Using a margarine is the next best thing to butter, but then you have the additional factor of using hydrogenated fats to worry about.

Koko Dairy Free review - A Free From Life
Photo Credit: Koko Dairy Free

Margarine is made by pumping hydrogen into oil to harden it. That’s hydrogenation and there are concerns over the health risks of consumption. Butter, used in moderation, is a much safer option, but what do you do if you can’t eat it?

I contacted Koko Dairy Free when I got home from the Allergy Show to find out how they make their spread and this was the response I received:

We don’t use any hydrogenated oils or hydrogenation processes in the production of Koko Dairy Free spread. The hardness of the product comes from two of the oils which are naturally hard under refrigeration, but which soften at room temperature. These are the coconut oil, and palm oil (from certified sustainable sources). They are simply blended with rape seed oil and sunflower oil in carefully chosen proportions to achieve the desired consistency under refrigeration and room temperatures.

Another sigh of relief breathed and another tick for Koko products. I can safely say that this spread works well in baking. I used it recently in this apple slice:

Apple Slice - A Free From Life

A new offering

It’s amazing what excites me these days, but I did genuinely jump up and down when I saw Koko have brought out a range of yoghurts. Again, the alternative is mainly soya-based, with the only other coconut yoghurt on the market being expensive.

Sold in packs of two 125ml pots, the yoghurts come in strawberry, raspberry, coconut and lemon and peach and passion fruit flavours. You can also get a larger, 500g pot of plain yoghurt. Again, the coconut flavour is subtle and the consistency is smooth and similar to that of ordinary yoghurt, as oppose to the thicker, Greek style. More importantly, from my son’s point of view, the fruit flavours are great and there are no ‘bits’.

I would like to thank Koko Dairy Free for sending us some of their lovely products to try. The opinions expressed in this review are that of my own and my son’s.

All I’d like to say to finish is can you make cheese?

Health

Lenten sugar fast and health kick – the halfway mark

A Free From Life

Butternut noodles - A Free From Life

I’m halfway through my Lenten sugar fast. What began as a detox and clean eating phase, has levelled off to become more of a health conscious way of living.

The first week of soups and smoothies kick started the process. Did you know people used to fast on Ash Wednesday (the day after Pancake Tuesday and the first day of Lent)? I decided against that, opting instead for a juice cleanse, but it put me in the right frame of mind for the weeks ahead.

Being conscious of what you’re eating, especially when it comes to sugar, means that you make healthier choices all round. I don’t cave at the sight of a maple pecan Danish in a coffee shop and therefore, I actually don’t have anything to go with my coffee. I just don’t snack as much.

A Free From Life

I’m sipping on cinnamon tea right now, whilst snacking on oat cakes with almond butter. Apart from that, I haven’t had any other snacks today. I also don’t have a repertoire of snacks I could share with you. This period of my life hasn’t been about replacing one thing with another, it’s been more about doing without, cutting out.

Instead, I’m making every meal count, starting with breakfast and I’ve become inventive with my lunches, by making things like these Teff flatbreads called Injera:

A Free From Life

My one coffee a day has remained and I’ve had a glass of wine with dinner if I’ve fancied it, so I don’t feel as though I’ve really missed out on an awful lot.

Not that I’m saying it’s been easy. There is something about red wine that screams ‘dark chocolate’ and I found myself longing for something like that the other day. It was the day after I made apple cake for the troops and had to watch them all tucking in and enjoying it. I guess my brain just felt it needed something.

Apple Slice - A Free From Life

The bonus is weight loss and it always is for me when I do this. I’ve already lost 2kg and I’m feeling fitter and leaner for it. This could have more to do with the amount of exercise I’m also doing: walking the dog once or twice a day has meant that I must be exceeding my daily number of required steps for sure.

It’s a cycle though isn’t it? Healthy eating means you feel better on yourself. You’re leaner, which also makes you feel fitter and inclined to do more exercise and so it goes on.

A friend asked would I be gorging on chocolate come Easter Sunday. The answer is no because I don’t like it much anyway (milk chocolate) and because I don’t crave it at all. Will I celebrate by having that dark chocolate I was craving earlier this week? I’m not sure about that yet. A part of me thinks I should, whilst another part thinks it would be a shame after going so long without sugar. It would be like falling off the wagon.

I didn’t do this to give up sugar for life though, just to give it up for a long enough period to get my health back on track. Some sugar will creep in to my diet again as the year continues. I won’t feel guilty for that, but will try to make sure it is kept to a minimum and that it doesn’t get out of control.

Then I will do this all again next Lent.

Sharing this for What I’m Writing.

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Breakfasts

Mother’s Day breakfast ideas – decadent French toast

Mother's Day breakfast ideas - A Free From Life

Did you know it is Mother’s Day on Sunday? Not that I’m hinting or anything. It’s just that I made this breakfast for my kids the other day and it occurred to me what a lovely breakfast it would make for someone’s mum on Mother’s Day… and in bed too… with a cup of tea (just saying).

Mother's Day breakfast ideas - A Free From Life

This is so easy that I made it on a school morning and considering my eldest daughter has to leave the house at 7.30am, that just shows how little effort it took. Not that your mum needs to know that and when she sees it, she will never know that something so lovely and elegant took so little time.

My recipe uses homemade spelt bread, but of course you can use any bread you like. This is also a great way to use up stale bread (but again, not something mum needs to know). I also used coconut milk, which is my favourite dairy free milk. It’s fresh, clean consistency makes it so similar to cow’s milk, but with just a hint of coconut flavour, it has a natural sweetness too.

If you’re plotting ways to spoil your mother this weekend (and I’m sure you are), making breakfast is just one idea. As a mum, I can tell you that the little things mean a great deal and I know such a gesture will be really appreciated.

Mother's Day breakfast ideas - A Free From Life
Mother's Day breakfast ideas - decadent French toast
Print Recipe
Easy to make, fool proof and healthy breakfast idea to spoil your mum with this weekend.
Servings Prep Time
1 5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Servings Prep Time
1 5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Mother's Day breakfast ideas - A Free From Life
Mother's Day breakfast ideas - decadent French toast
Print Recipe
Easy to make, fool proof and healthy breakfast idea to spoil your mum with this weekend.
Servings Prep Time
1 5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Servings Prep Time
1 5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Whisk the egg with the milk and vanilla extract, then add the cinnamon
  2. Pour the egg mixture into a shallow bowl and put the slice of bread into it, turning to allow the bread to soak up the mixture on both sides
  3. Transfer the bread to a non-stick pan and fry on both sides until golden brown (you can finish off under the grill if you prefer)
  4. Put the toasted eggy bread on to a plate and top with the strawberries and blueberries
  5. Add the yoghurt to the fruit and drizzle with maple syrup (optional)
Recipe Notes

It really is that simple. In fact, I only added measurements to make it easier to follow. I don't tend to measure things out and so if I'd wrote this recipe in the manner of how I make things it would read: a glug of milk, with a splash of vanilla extract and a sprinkling of cinnamon. That's the beauty of cooking though, you can just go for it and trust your judgement and if you are a little bit over or under, so be it.

Have fun with this recipe and hope you like it (or your mum does!).

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