When I was pregnant, I did the sensible thing and batch cooked loads of my favourite meals and put them in the freezer to make life a little easier when baby arrived. Smashing, eh? Except all of those meals contained milk, butter and cheese to some extent, so when we discovered three weeks into the rollercoaster that is being new parents that our screaming, sick but beautiful bundle had CMPA (cow’s milk protein allergy) it was up to Steve to eat every single one of those meals out the freezer, while I needed to adopt a whole new shopping and eating strategy. Over the last 16.5 months I’ve learned to scan a label pretty darn quick and made clever swaps in all of my favourite recipes. We do a monthly online shop at Tescos for special allergy treats and a weekly top up of fresh veg at Aldi.

I get hangry pretty quickly, a trait my daughter shares with me, so it’s important we’re never caught out without suitable easy meals or snacks to grab. If you’re just starting out on  your CMPA breastfeeding or weaning journey, here are some of the habits we’ve adopted to ensure meal times go smoothly and we never have a food SOS. I hope you find them useful.

Menu Planning

I’ve planned evening meals for years. Not only is it cheaper but it makes organising cooking and eating around multiple work schedules much easier. When Alex began weaning she was still struggling to gain weight, so we wanted to make sure she had exposure to lots of interesting, nutritious and high calorie foods. To help with this I wrote out a meal plan for her breakfast, lunch and tea for the week ahead and popped it in the fridge so whoever was looking after her that day knew what was on the menu. This really helped with ensuring she was getting lots of good fats and calcium in her diet. And as a plus, when we have a dieticians appointment and they ask what she’s eating we can just take along a few of the old menus as examples. Mine was pretty taken aback with how organised we were but doing these little meal plans really helped to give me peace of mind. Now we generally only plan our evening meal but I’ll pour over our cookbook collection regularly to look at new meals to introduce. I find looking through cookbooks really relaxing so this is never a chore to me.

Batch Cooks


As anyone who has a baby or toddler knows, cooking time isn’t in plentiful supply some days. However, since neither I or Alex eat milk or soya products, it’s not really easy to grab lots of prepared packaged food. It’s not too healthy to do so either so we still do a lot of batch cooking or making extras for the freezer. We use products like oatly cream, oatly creme fraiche and Violife cheeses in some recipes and I’ve been experimenting with a lot of vegan recipes lately.

We’re really not fans of eating the same thing every day for a week anyway, so extra portions always go in the freezer in those nifty tinfoil trays, so that we can take them out on days we know cooking from fresh will be a squeeze. We also make mini versions for Alex that we can just lift out of the freezer the night before and send to granny and grandpa daycare with her if needed. I love having soups for lunches so I throw extra portions of those into those special freezer bags so I can have a different flavour every day. Below is a sample of what’s nestling in our freezer right now. We always have plenty of frozen veggies in there too as accompaniments, including things like broccoli, chopped butternut squash and green beans. As you can imagine, the freezer is pretty packed out, so much so I’m starting to wonder whether when we move it might be wise to invest in some kind of huge commercial type freezer like these from Alexanders Direct.

In our freezer for quick meals

  • Pasta bake
  • Shepherds/cottage pie
  • Stew and dumplings
  • Chilli
  • Bolognese
  • Lasagne
  • Soups

Takeaway Alternatives

Fish and chips

Oh how I miss takeaway. Eating takeaway with an allergy to cater for has unfortunately proved an absolute minefield. I’ve become a bit of a grump about it and hate hearing delivery drivers ring the doorbells in our street when the weekend comes around. Luckily, I now have a plan for when the desire for takeaway type foods arises and that’s to reach in the freezer. Sainsburys stocks a breaded cod fillet that’s milk free in their fridge section, which goes down a treat with some Mayflower curry sauce (buy in B&M) and some frozen peas blended with mint, a squeeze of lemon and oatly cream, not forgetting some homecooked chips. Tesco has a few different options in its free from section including a sweet and sour. Asda has a chilli beef, lemon chicken and prawn toast in its fridge takeaway section, which we simply add some stirfried noodles and veg to and voila! Waitrose have a couple of super tasty curry options that Alex loves too. I’ve a future post earmarked to cover current options in more detail because I’ve personally found the odd takeaway readymeal to be a shopping saviour. The key is to know what’s in your nearest supermarket for if the takeaway urge should bite or like us to have a few things stashed in your freezer.

We’ve had some horribly unsuccessful attempts at ordering from takeaways including one attempt to have a Chinese when trialling soya, which ended up with me in tears and eating toast because the takeaway called us just as we plated up our meal to tell us it did have milk in after all. I wanted to eat that takeaway so much, after that I made a concerted effort to look for fakeaway options every time I go to a new supermarket. I love cooking Thai, Indian and Chinese food from scratch but sometimes you just want to put your pyjamas on and take the easy option. Keeping a stock of safe alternatives at home makes these occasions far more stress free for us.

Toddler Snacks

Pasties and Pinwheels

From dropping off the centiles in the red book to steadily climbing then galloping upwards once allergen free, we’ve done a pretty good job at fattening up our dinky daughter. We tried to follow BLW as much as possible and did give some foods like dairyfree yoghurt on spoons but handed those to her to eat. We found a lot of the ‘safe’ toddler snacks lacked calories and flavour. Rice cakes, puffs etc didn’t cut the mustard so we didn’t bother with them. The one exception to this being Kiddilicious wafers, which Alex still loves more than, well, me. Shop bought toddler snacks and particularly allergy safe ones seem to be crazy expensive so we keep a variety of snacks for Alex in resealable bags that we can just take out on the day and pop in the changing bag or her Yumbox. Our favourites include:

  • Savoury flapjack
  • Pinwheels and pastries (many readymade puff pastries are dairy/soya free)
  • Muffins – banana and blueberry, olive and cheese, carrot cake are regulars
  • Pizza slices (made with pastry)

Alex isn’t much of a sandwich fan at the moment, despite being a carb lover generally. If she does decide to change her mind on that front I’ll be following Nomi Palony’s tip of freezing sandwiches to grab and go on days we go to soft play. We’ve only just recently felt brave enough to start going to soft play with Alex but have quickly learned that the ones in our area are absolutely terrible for catering for CMPA, so we’re developing our own SOS strategy for that too.

If you’re breastfeeding a CMPA baby and wondering how you’ll adapt, hopefully this post has given you some reassurance and ideas. It’s a learning curve but with a few shopping strategies under your belt it’s easier than you’d think.

If you have any questions about our transition to a dairyfree diet, please pop them below. I’m always happy to help other CMPA Mamas get into the swing of things.



collaborative post

You’d be forgiven for thinking I’d dropped off the edge of the coastline into the sea or given up eating out or something. However, after some decidedly dodgy dining out experiences in 2017 I’ve been working hard to put my positive pants on for 2018 and quietly plotting some exciting changes for Foodfables and lots of adventures with my little family.

Since becoming a mother, my world revolves around my daughter more than I could have ever imagined. It was a driver in my decision to change jobs at the end of last year so that we could spend more time together, and of course, Alex’s allergy is the reason why I’m still eating dairyfree too. It’s lovely therefore to be able to include Alex in bloggers events and to introduce her here too. Recently, we were both invited to Fratellos in Jesmond to enjoy brunch with some other toddlers at an event organised by Messy Little thing. It was lovely to be catered for confidently and provided with a delicious dairyfree lunch and Alex had lots of fun posing in her new long sleeved weaning bib, which we had the pleasure of reviewing and taking home. Here she is examining her bib and Messy Little Thing bib on arrival. Notice the Kiddilicious blueberry wafers in shot – we go through approximately 20 packets of these a month as Alex loves them, even though as far as I can tell they are pretty much blueberry flavoured skips in stick form.



Alex and I both ate dairyfree choices from the menu, which were variations on a tomato pasta. I had the puttanesca, which had a little spice, olives and potatoes added, except Alex stole all my olives. Cheers babes. It was pretty tasty though and filling too, double carbs for the win. Not much to look at but safe food without stress gets a big thumbs up from me, especially if it has a bit of flavour. I’ve been to Fratellos before and didn’t rate the service too well but we’ll give it another go after this positive experience.

IMG_5633Now on to the purpose behind our outing, which was to try out the Messy Little Things Bib. With cameras on hand, Alex did some unofficial modelling for the brand and as a natural poser with blue eyes that love the camera, I think she did rather well. In fact, I’ve been considering whether it would be ethical to sign her up for some modelling so she can pay for family holidays. Of course, I could just think she’s the cutest toddler around because I gave birth to her. Here she is prancing and smooshing in the full length bib, which as you can see covers arms and legs as well as the front.

We usually use the kladdig ikea bib (£5) at home and Jojo Maman Bebe’s slightly thicker sleeved bibs (£12) with pockets when we are out and about. The Messy Little Thing bib measured up well – it’s easy to put on, washes well and comes in it’s own bag. At £14.95 it’s slightly more expensive than our usual go to but it is lighter weight and an obvious choice for a special occasion or meal out where toddles is wearing a nice outfit that we don’t want to cover in food stains. It was a lot easier to wash than our JoJo bib and comes out cleaner than the Ikea ones we use on a daily basis. It’s probably not what we would choose for everyday use as Alex refuses any kind of bib a lot of the time but it’s perfect for packing in your changing bag (mine’s in there now). Since Alex’s meal of choice when we do dine out as a family is spaghetti bolognese, I’m confident this bib will be getting plenty of use and I may well be picking up some extras to give as gifts along with a Yumbox or two, which Alex doesn’t like to go to softplay without!

It was espeically lovely to chat to the founder behind the Messy Little Thing brand, Dawn, about her own experience with breastfeeding and weaning and how Alex’s allergies have shaped my breastfeeding and blogger journey. Thank you to Dawn and Fratellos for hosting us and do let us know if you need a model in the future, though Alex may not get out of bed for less than a blueberry Kiddilicious wafer.

How have you found the mess of weaning? Do you love seeing your little one play and explore food or cringe when they splat food up the walls? I am definitely betwixt the two but after Alex’s early problems with weight gain it’s a real delight to see her enjoying new tastes and textures and getting stuck into a big bowl of pasta, just like her Mama.

As a North Easterner, there are certain foods you miss when you leave the kingdom, products that even if successfully sourced elsewhere never seem to taste quite the same and others that you just can’t find south of Middlesbrough, ever. Even with the spread of the almighty Greggs, which is now seemingly perched on the corner of every third street in all northern towns, if you drive too far South down the A1 you can’t get a stottie for love nor money. Which is, of course, exactly why you should stock up on some of the very best things to eat that the North East has to offer when you pay us a visit. I truly believe there are native foods available round these parts that are worth booking a trip just to taste, though as a Geordie raised on homemade pease pudding and broth, I may be a little bit biased!

Recently, Haven Holidays got in touch and asked me for tips on where visitors to the region could find the best local delicacies, so in this post I’ve gathered together a few places where you can pick up some of the foods my beloved North East is best known for. If you’re visiting the Haven holiday park at Berwick or staying elsewhere in Northumberland, you’ll find some true tastes of the north by paying the establishments below a visit. And, whether if a Geordie by birth or visiting for a break, you can test your knowledge of local delicacies from this region and others in the Haven’s local delicacy quiz.

Turnbull’s, Alnwick

You should find pease pudding plentiful when you’re out and about in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. Most sandwich shops (including the Greggs of almost every high street) will invariably have it on their menu accompanied by ham and possibly on a lovely stodgy white stottie to boot (truly a hangover saviour). You can also buy this delicious spread (made by boiling split peas with ham) at many delis and even the local supermarkets. If you’re taking a trip to the lovely market town of Alnwick (and you should because it’s a pretty place with great pubs and isn’t just about the castle that was featured in Harry Potter) you should pop into Turnbull’s on Market Street. This butchers sells lots of locally sourced meats including its very own dry cured bacon range and award-winning pies and pastries too. It also sells pease pudding to takeaway, so you can pick some up to pack in a future picnic should you choose. While you’re in town, call in at the Bari Tea Brewery for a cuppa.

Hinnies, Whitley Bay

A sort of scone-cum-muffin Singin’ Hinnies are not so easy to come by at bakers in the North East nowadays, though they are fairly easy to make yourself. Take a trip to the coastal town of Whitley Bay though and you can enjoy them at a dining establishment that celebrates them with its name and boasts other Geordie-influenced crowd pleasers on the menu too. The Singin’ Hinnies (named after the noise they make when cooking) are served up with strawberry jam and clotted cream on the pudding menu, while you can enjoy comforting Pan Haggerty (a delicious potato bake) as part of their main course menu or enjoy pease pudding served up on one of their affordable sharing boards.

Northumberland Cheese Farm, Blagdon


You may not yet associate the North East with cheese production but let me assure you, we do it rather well. Along with Doddingtons in the far north, which concentrates on cheese and ice cream production, the Northumberland Cheese Farm excellently demonstrates our skills in the area of dairy food production. I’m a tad biased because I used to work at the Cheese Loft, where you can sit in for a Ploughman’s or cheese scone or buy some of the farm’s cheeses to take away. My favourites are the Blagdon Blue – best described as a soft, delicious creamy blue brie type cheese and the Nettle, a cheddar that it’s impossible to eat just one small piece of (I recommend just caving in and cutting large chunks to eat with a crisp, sweet apple and a few digestive biscuits – it’s not a gourmet supper but it’s one I enjoy best).

L Robson & Sons, Craster
I was fairly young when I first tried smoked kippers for breakfast and must admit I wasn’t sold on them after the first few attempts at eating them. That said, I did always enjoy the fact that buying them from where they were made meant a trip to some really breath-taking beaches. L Robson & Sons in Craster still smoke their kippers the traditional way and you can buy them at their shop and order online so you can re-live a summer on the Northumberland coast once you’re back home. When in Rome (or Craster), visit the restaurant with views over Craster harbour.

If you’re a seafood fan (like me) The Old Boat House at Amble is another great spot on the coast to sample the wares of the North Sea and as an added bonus they also serve great bread. They’ve recently opened up The Fish Shack at the Sea Quest aimed at walkers, which we’ve not quite made it along to yet as it would be too much of a tease while I can’t eat fresh seafood. It does however seem to be a similar concept to Riley’s Fish Shack over at gorgeous Edward’s Bay, Tynemouth – so expect informal dining/streetfood. We’ll definitely be aiming to try the Shack soon .I know we’ll be heading to the Boat House to celebrate just soon as baby has landed. After 9 months of pregnancy enforced abstinence, melted brie, local lobster and a crisp glass of wine is exactly what I fancy and It’s an added bonus that Ruby the dog can come along with us too.

If you’re visiting the area and would like some local food recommendations, feel free to email foodfablesuk@gmail.com or get in touch via Twitter or Instagram.



My phone is filled with photos of delicious things we’ve made at home but I’ve never blogged about, so I’m making more of a conscious effort to share the recipes I think other people might find useful, starting with these delightfully named and superb tasting, protein poo balls.


I was initially going to hold off posting these as the photos I have of them aren’t too appetising but as we’ve started referring to them aspoo balls in the house I thought it might not matter too much that the photo isn’t that appealing. (There’s been lots of fun and games asking each other to pass the ball bag so I can pop it in my packed lunch). I promise you they taste nice. Recently I’ve been feeling even hungrier than usual. On a good day I carry a full bag of snacks to work – a mixture of fresh fruit, maybe a low fat yoghurt, perhaps a few crustless quiches but I’ve been finding myself lured over to the office biscuit table. Worse still, on days I’ve been working from home I’ve been rustling up concoctions of pasta and sauce, pickled onion Monster Munch, pickled onions and smoked cheese. I blame the baby.

In an effort not to do so much naughty snacking, my work mate suggested I started bringing some protein balls to work. I love nakd bars and to me these are a similar type of treat, except with a bit of weighing and measuring and a lot of rolling they’re a lot cheaper and I’ve been using them as my hex b and saving precious syns for my new pickled onion Monster Munch addiction. Back when I lived in Leeds my friend Lucy made her own ‘poo bars’, which were DIY nakd bars, so these balls were named part in homage to her and also because I purposefully included some Linseed in my recipe to encourage regular pregnant lady toilet trips.

I scoured the internet for similar recipes and concluded that the general basic recipe was to mix something like one part dates with one part almonds (lovely filling nutritious almonds). I don’t really eat any nuts other than almonds so this directed my ingredients choices a lot. Many recipes for protein balls use added coconut oil, peanut butter, honey or agave syrup to stick things together but I wanted to keep syns low, so instead I chose to use sticky medjool dates to ensure my mix stuck together.

The recipe – makes 20 balls

150g almonds (this worked out as 80 almonds and 5 hex b)

25g linseeds aka flax seeds (1 hex b)

A capfull of vanilla essence

175g Medjool dates (4 hex bs)

30g cacao nibs (10 syns)


Blitz the almonds in the food processor, adding the dates, vanilla essence and flax seeds (we’d pre-pitted so our hex b weighing may be off a little but as I’m preggaz I didn’t worry too much). I added the cacao nibs last without blitzing to retain some crunch. Working the mixture together I then rolled out into 20 balls and left to set. I worked this out at one hex b per two balls plus 1 syn or half a hex b plus 0.5 syns per ball. Don’t take my word for it though, my maths is sometimes off!

These poo balls have been stopping me from snacking quite so much and are a great way to use the extra healthy b you get when pregnant. I just pop a few in a sandwich bag and stick them in my handbag each morning. I’m already planning a few new variations – using cocoa powder and orange or rum essence is on the cards at the weekend. The total cost of ingredients was approximately £3.33, which I think is pretty good – less than a chocolate bar and about half the price of a Nakd bar, though I’ll still be investing in those now and again too.

How do you stay full during the day? Do you eat protein balls or would you consider giving them a go?

While I’m trying really hard not to empty the contents of my fridge directly into my mouth every evening, there’s no avoiding the fact that I’m now eating for two with a supercharged appetite. Combine this with the amount of things that need done in the house before the baby arrives and my packed work schedule and I’m finding more excuses to eat out. Hurrah (except not so good for my clothes fitting).

Feeling rather hard done to that my weekend highlight was nailing two loads of washing before 10am on a Sunday, I was treated to a surprise Sunday night curry last night and took a trip to a place previously reviewed on the blog Haveli. You can find my previous post on the place here. I’m never too sure how often to post updates on places we’ve reviewed because if we like a place we inevitably head back fairly frequently. However with Haveli being a little out of our way over in Ponteland, we’ve not had the chance to head back since our last visit. My constant suggestion that we should pay the place a return visit seemed to make an impact on Sunday afternoon when exhausted from serious Sunday over-productivity, I put the other half in charge of sourcing the tea.

Since our last visit Haveli has bagged itself a recommendation in the Michelin guide, which didn’t surprise us considering how much we enjoyed the food on our last visit. It’s also added some Paleo menu choices, including cauliflower rice that fellow Slimming Worlders may be interested in but I was too hungry to consider carb cutting.

When we arrived around 5 minutes late for our booking we found quite a few tables were busy but not packed. Haveli is in a bit of a strange spot but the decor inside makes eating there seem more of an occasion. We were asked to wait in the bar area when we arrived and promptly took a seat. I must say we were a little disappointed to be waiting to be seated at our table for 25 minutes, particularly as we had to ask for the drinks menu. As I’d dressed up for the occasion and remembered having a rather lovely cocktail on our last visit I chose a Garden Fresh Virgin Mojito (£4.95) to get things started. This was a lovely accompaniment to my curry when we were seated – a refreshing mix of elderflower, cucumber, apple and lime. It looked lovely too.

IMG_2611I’ve not edited the photos from last night at all – the food really was as colourful and the lights as lovely as they look. As we waited so long to be seated, we were actually a little bit pushed for time when it came to ordering, so we skipped starters and went straight to the main courses. On a bit of a side note, we thought the menus were looking a little worn – probably because the place is so popular but with the classy restaurant vibe they are trying to promote it might be time to have them replaced.

I’m not eating as much meat these days so I chose the Shahi Palak Paneer (£7.50) and Mr Fables had the Railway Lamb Curry (£12.95). We added a side of keema naan and a basmati pilau, though I can’t seem to find the former on the online menu. After our surprise wait to be seated we were a little apprehensive about not ordering some nibbles but the food actually came out extraordinarily quickly, within 5 minutes I’d say.

It didn’t take long for the ‘mmm-ing’ and ‘aaah-ing’ to begin. The lamb in the coconut curry sauce was melt in the mouth, a fairly mild sauce with the occasional surprise chilli. My spinach sauce was creamy and moreish but with a surprising spice level, this wasn’t the mild, bland curry that paneer and spinach can sometimes be. It’s the extra finishing touches that show that Haveli consider how flavours will work together – sweet fried onions topping the rice were a delight alongside my spinach sauce and the keema in the naan had its own distinct flavour too. Best of all, our choices complemented each other well and Mr Fables actually exclaimed he might be tempted to order more vegetarian sides from now on.

With a couple of extra soft drinks our bill came to around £44, which is certainly more than our local curry house but the food at Haveli was well worth making a trip for. The few little niggles on arrival didn’t impact too much on our evening, except to maybe stop us from eating even more and as we didn’t really have room for dessert that may not have been a bad thing. Thanks Haveli for not disappointing! Now, can you open somewhere a little closer to us please?