Category: The Vegans
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Vegan Hot Cross Buns

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cross section of bun-5303

Last year I made my own version of hot cross buns, but this year I wanted to try something new, after a quick google search I found essjay’s Vegan version.

What I love about essjay’s recipe, is that the buns are light almost like Italian Panettone, and importantly very delicious!  I made a big batch for Easter presents –  for my son’s teachers, it took a bit of work but I wanted to give them something home-made, something special, to show my appreciation for their inclusiveness and understanding of my son’s allergies.

My son’s teacher uses cooking as a tool for literacy and numeracy and he (like most children) is happy to write stories about food.  The head teacher has consulted me along the way and I have used recipes from my blog (very handy!), from gingerbread,  pancakes, muffins and chocolate biscuits – all allergy free.  My son is having a great time at school and he loves being part of all the action, especially cooking and eating!  PS he is having so much fun he hardly notices that he is learning to read and write!

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Christmas Cake

I have never attempted a dairy and egg free Christmas Cake, but it was inevitable that I would give this traditional sweet treat a try.  Of course I did my usual google search and I found this wonderful blog by The Hungry Vegan and a delicious recipe for Xmas cake.

For a special, personal present to my son’s teachers this year I made this recipe into little Xmas cakes and boxed them. They looked very ‘Martha Stewart’ like and I have to say I was pretty pleased with them.

The cake is delicious, you wouldn’t know that it was dairy and egg free.  The Teacher’s received the adult’s version, each mini cake, gently infused with a teaspoon of brandy.

I have modified The Hungry Vegan’s recipe to avoid nuts (because of allergies) and I have added a few other personal favourites to the mix, I hope you give this cake a try, it is certainly one that I will be making again.

Allergy Free Christmas Cake

  • 150g Atta flour (wholemeal flour)
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 50g Chickpea Flour
  • 50g Coconut Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 175g Refined Coconut Oil (liquid form)
  • 175g Sucranet (or light moscavodo sugar)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 150g sultanas
  • 200g raisins
  • 150g dates
  • 1 tblsp black strap molasses (or treacle)
  • 100g glacé cherries, halved
  • grated zest of an orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 ripe banana mashed
  • 120ml soya milk
  • 2 tblsps apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tblsp of vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 6 tblsps (90ml) brandy

Method

Preheat the oven to 150’C, grease a 8″ round tin and double line it with grease proof paper on the bottom.  I used large Xmas muffin cases that were already pre-greased (these were only used for the presents not for my son’s cakes).

Place the dried fruits (use what ever combination you would like – just try to match the total quantity of fruit) in a bowl and add the orange juice, orange zest and vanilla extract; mix through and break apart any clumped fruit, set aside.

Warm half of the soy milk and add the vinegar, set aside.  In a separate bowl, place the rest of the soy milk and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda.

Sift all the flours, and salt into one bowl; please note, you don’t have to use my combination of flours – whatever you prefer is fine.

Place the mashed banana and coconut oil into your mixer bowl, mix until uniform.  Add the molasses and sucranet and beat until smooth and uniform. Fold in the flour mixture and add both soy mixtures, gently fold in the fruit mixture, mix into a uniform consistency.

Gently place the mixture into your baking dish or muffin pans and place in the oven.  Bake for 2 hours if using the tin or 50 minutes for the muffin pans – keep a close eye on them – you don’t want a burned cake top!  You can test if the cake is cooked by piercing its middle with a toothpick or wooden skewer, it should come out clean.

To garnish you can use glacé cherries or whatever you fancy.

Happy Baking!

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Cheesy Bread Rolls ~ Vegan Style

 

I couldn’t  help but think of PSY when I wrote this title, my son does a lively rendition of ‘Gangnam Style’; he was shown the moves in his Cultural Studies class at School (!).  Watching a 5-year-old ‘bust a move’ is very entertaining!

So back to the bread rolls – Vegan (not Gangnam) Style.  If you have been following my blog you will know that my son is severely allergic to dairy (and quite a few other things) so I need to source new recipes and flavour sensations as a necessity.  Recently he told me he didn’t like the commercial crackers we buy for him – they are by ESKAL and they are called ‘Deli Crackers – Original’, they are safe for him to eat and quite tasty; shame really, as finding something commercially prepared and safe for him to eat is a bonus as my cooking schedule is pretty full!

I did a google search and found this great blog with a recipe for Cheesy Bread Rolls.  The cheese substitution is Savoury/Nutritional Yeast, I have never used this before, so it is a first for me.

Of course I changed the recipe slightly, because it is hard-wired in my DNA (sometimes my changes to recipes work, sometimes they don’t!), happy to tell you that this recipe worked.  The bread was light and tasty, subtle but very moorish (all 8 bread rolls gone!).

Cheesy Bread Rolls – Vegan Style

  • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast + 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely diced + 1 tablespoon minced garlic, sautéed in 1 tablespoon of garlic until translucent
  • 1  cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of besan or chickpea flour
  • 4 tablespoons savoury/nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the active yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup water until the yeast dissolves and set aside.  Gently saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent and leave to cool.  Mix the dry ingredients together, add the wet ingredients, you can use a fork or your hand, until combined into a dough ball.  Roll sausage shape pieces of dough and place on a well-greased baking tray.  Gently brush the tops of the dough-loaves with olive oil and leave for 30 minutes to prove/rise – place in a warm area covered in cling film.  Bake in a moderately hot oven at about 200’C for 1o minutes.

The bread rolls come out golden, thanks to the chick pea flour and nutritional yeast, and are delicious.  My son didn’t like them at first and later decided he did, unfortunately there was only one left…looks like I will be making them again.

Do you have any vegan cracker recipes? I did set out to make crackers but as you can see I got side-tracked!  Would love to hear from you!

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The enchanting part of being part of the blogging world is that you start to become more interested in what other’s are doing, what they are saying, what they are eating and of course I love a good picture! So here without further ado is the gorgeous and yummy looking Vegan Blueberry Peach Skillet Cobbler by the talented Neely Wang: thanks Neely!!

Neely Wang | Photography + Design

recipe for vegan blueberry peach skillet cobbler

 
recipe for vegan blueberry peach skillet cobbler
 
recipe for vegan blueberry peach skillet cobbler
 
I recently bought a cast iron skillet as a little present for myself.  I had been eyeing one for quite awhile, but was hesitant to buy one.  I wasn’t sure how heavy it would be or how hard it would be to take care of and clean.  Now I know for many of you, cast iron skillets are commonplace and have been used for generations by your grandparents and great-grandparents.  But to a Chinese person — this is a big deal.  Chinese people don’t own cast iron skillets — they own woks (which I personally don’t have…yet, but that’s besides the point).  Well, I finally bought a cast iron skillet and scoured the Internet for healthy cast iron skillet recipes.  Every image I had in my head of a cast iron skillet was one filled with buttery cornbread, thick-cut pork chops or “glistening” sausage links and bacon…

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Mmm Ice-Cream

It’s not that easy making a non-dairy ice-cream that is creamy, luscious on the palate and passes the all-important ‘lick’ test.  The ice-cream I make tends to be more icey, that’s because I usually make frozen fruit varieties with blueberries and strawberries.  This has worked well so far, but I really need to step it up, given my investment in an ice cream maker – and my allergic son’s interest in the gelato that he sees in the shops he passes by, and sadly can’t have.

I once tried a commercial variety, strawberry sorbet, which claimed to be dairy free, egg free, nut free, with disastrous results. We tried a teaspoon, then waited and tried another teaspoon, my son start to gag, then he tried to throw up, he began to look pale, and coughed, it was terrible.  We treated him with anti-histamine and the local Doctor gave him an injection,  he developed hives.  Learning 1: next time use the epi-pen and call an ambulance.  We contacted the Health Department and they took a sample of the ice-cream to see if there was a contaminate, and there was: 26 parts of dairy in a million, enough to trigger anaphylaxis in my son.  The company (which I have since learned) did not clean their machinery sufficiently, between their dairy and non dairy lines, and have now since withdrawn the product;  the company is owned by a Doctor and they were apparently upset that their product had caused the reaction.  Learning 2: Beware of the ingredients of all products and it is best to trial new foods slowly, no matter what the ingredients show on the product, especially before going for a full bowl (don’t want to even think of what would have happened).

Over 18 months have passed since this last incident, so more recently I found a soy ice-cream, that is imported from the U.S.A. The ingredients list had all the things that I looked for dairy free, egg free, looking good.  I bought it, took it home and let it sit in the freezer for a couple of weeks until I picked up the courage to try it on my son.  Something in me, motivated me to do a final check – a search on the internet, “soy ice-cream, company’s name + allergic reactions”, and up popped a story from a Mum in the U.S.A., her child had a reaction and it was related to traces of nuts in a product made by the same company.  What I have discovered in my research, is that most non-dairy ice-cream products are made in factories that also process nuts and sometimes dairy, so there could be contamination.  I am guessing that companies have large product lines, or share facilities –  due to the cost of machinery, so please double-check and cross-reference your information, the internet is a great tool for this.  Needless to say that the soy ice-cream that was purchased was put in the rubbish bin;  it is a waste but I am just not ready to take the risk.

So back to ice-cream making!  I found a fabulous blog called A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise , do I need to say anything more!  This blog has great recipes and I have ventured into trying the Strawberry Ice Cream

One secret ingredient in non-dairy ice cream making is soy or rice creams, this is a fat added and thickened non-dairy liquid which helps give the luscious, creamy texture in the ice cream; soy milk is fat-free, that is why it goes ‘icey’ when you freeze it, it needs fat to give it a creamy texture.   Before you panic about fat, most dairy ice creams have regular milk, plus full-fat cream added, and anyways your not having it every day – right?

I didn’t have any soy cream or soy creamer in my pantry so I made my own, it was pretty easy, again I found a great blog which has the recipe.  Soy creamer is a combination of soy, vegetable oil and a thickener.  I changed the recipe and swapped the canola oil for a light olive oil and added a 1/4 teaspoon of xanthum gum.  Next time I might swap out the vanilla extract and try infusing a vanilla bean in the mixture. I doubled the recipe for the soy creamer and pretty much used it as the base for the ice cream.

I am pleased to say that the results were  good for a first effort, needless to say it was impossible to ‘style’ the freshly churned ice cream for a photograph, before my son started attacking it with a spoon, then licked the small plate clean (I did try to stop him)! 

So here’s my take on the ice-cream recipe from A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise and soy creamer from The Year of the Vegan;  a big thank you to both of these wonderful cooks, who have helped me provide safe, creamy, ice-cream for my son.

Before you start, remember to put your ice-cream (maker) bowl, in the freezer for at least a few days before you intend to use it.

Soy Creamer

  • 1/2 cup plain soy milk
  • 1/2 cup of light extra virgin olive oil

Place above ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth, then add:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups of soy milk

Blend on high until smooth and uniform.

This should make around 2 & 1/2 cups of soy creamer.

Note: If you just want to make the soy creamer you will need to incorporate sweetness and vanilla extract in your blending stage.  Around 2 tablespoons of agave nectar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  This mixture will keep in an airtight container for approximately 3-5 days in the fridge.

Soy Strawberry Ice Cream

  • 2 & 1/2 cups of soy creamer
  • 2 cups of washed and hulled strawberries
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot
  • 1/2 cup of soy milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of xanthum gum
  • 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise (or you can use 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract)

How to:

  • In addition to your 2 & 1/2 cups of soy creamer already in the blender add:
    • 1 cup of hulled strawberries
    • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of organic sugar (whatever you prefer for sweetness)
    • blend until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl add the 1/2 cup of soy milk and whisk in the arrowroot and xanthum gum, make sure the mix has no lumps, set aside.
  • Place the contents of the blender into a saucepan and add the vanilla bean, bring to the boil and remove from heat, remove the vanilla bean (scrape out the insides and add to the mix), quickly whisk in the soy/arrowroot and xanthum gum mixture, the mix should start to thicken slightly, and will thicken further when cooled. Note:  If you choose not to use a vanilla bean, just add the vanilla extract once the mixture has been removed from the heat.

Place entire mixture in an air tight container and cool in the fridge, I allowed mine to cool overnight.

To make the ice-cream:

This will depend on your ice-cream machine’s instructions: spoon in the mixture and churn, before placing into freezer or serving, mix through the remaining cup of chopped strawberries and enjoy!

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Gone in 30 Seconds….Hot Cross Yum


Easter is a special time for our family and especially for our young son, what he loves is the Easter Egg Hunt, the hot cross buns and of course the joy of eating these goodies, within moderation of course.

Being raised a Catholic, Easter Friday has always been a day of reflection and fasting, and hot cross buns have featured strongly after the ‘Stations of the Cross’ Service at Church.  Some family traditions are nice to hold onto and certainly for my son the hot cross bun is a staple for this time of year, and it is something he loves.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of buying my hot cross buns because they contain dairy and egg, which my son is highly allergic too.   So I have had fun testing out the best combination for hot cross buns, can I tell you that they only just make it out of the oven, before they were swooped on!  It has taken three batches before I was able to take a photograph!

Finally, I got savvy to this and managed to have the camera ready as the buns came out of the oven, even then I was left with only 4 to photograph!  Hence the name of this recipe is Gone in 30 seconds – make it and you will see!

Ingredients:

Hot Cross Buns:

  • 1 sachet of dried yeast (7.5 g)
  • 4 tablespoons of organic granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup of warm rice milk
  • 3 cups of unbleached strong flour
  • 300 grams currants
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons of non-dairy margarine melted
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh orange peel, you can substitute the candied variety if you prefer

How to:

  • Warm the rice milk, mix through a tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top, leave in a warm place for 30 minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
  • Place flour, spice, cinnamon, remaining sugar, salt into a bowl and mix throughly, make a hole in the centre and add frothy yeast, melted non-dairy margarine, mix with a knife until combined, finally add currents and mix until dough comes together.  The mix will be sticky and glossy – leave to rest for an hour or two until it doubles in size, wrap with cling film and leave in a warm place.
  • Once the dough has doubled inside, lightly knead (with flour if you require), then shape into balls and place in square or round cake baking tray, wrap in cling film and allow to rest for another hour until dough has risen again.  Pre-heat the oven to 190’C.
  • Once the dough has risen paint on the crosses with the flour and water mixture (see instructions below).
  • Place buns in moderate to hot oven, and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly (if you can – before they are gobbled down) add light sugar-coating for gloss if you wish (see instructions below).

Topping:

For the cross:  plain flour and water mixed to form a paste – and then spread with a teaspoon or you could pipe (if you have the energy!) in the shape of a cross on top of the buns before they go into the oven.

When cooked and cooled you can brush a dissolved sugar wash (1 tablespoon of sugar and hot water, just enough to brush the tops of the cooked and cooled buns).  This finish gives the bun a high shine, it is not necessary but it does make them look even more appealing!

Easter Egg Hunt

Thankfully it is much easier to find dairy free Easter Eggs, I tend to buy mine online, it saves me time and hassle of trying to locate a store that stocks them locally.  I shop from Vegan Online and they have a large range of ‘Sweet William’ Easter Treats as well as ‘Moo Free’ Easter Eggs (however they do say they contain traces of nuts so need to tread carefully here).  I buy enough to give to my family so they can arrange Easter Egg hunts for our son and enough for his Teachers, so they can also treat him to something special for Easter.

Pictured above is our son dressed as a bunny for his last day at School before the School Holidays – all hand-made I might add – it was fun!

Pictured below is our son on an Easter Egg Hunt at is Aunty’s house – they had an early Easter this year due to travel arrangements.

Wishing you and your family a restful break and Happy Easter.

This recipe is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays

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babycakes divine!

It is not surprising that I have turned to my Vegan friends for baking inspiration and I am so pleased to tell you that I have found what I have been searching for, intro (this is worth a drum roll or two):  “Babycakes, Covers the Classics” & “Babycakes” by Erin Mc Kenna.  Erin is a vegan baker and her cookbooks are a feast for the eyes!  Erin has bakeries in New York City and Los Angeles;  these establishments have cult status and if I lived in the U.S.,  I would move into  their neighbourhood, or preferably next door to one!

Erin’s personality shines through the cookbooks, this woman is passionate and loves what she does.  I recently saw a video of her making donuts, and she talked about how ideas /  inspiration for her recipes came to her when she meditates – no wonder her cakes are heavenly!

The difference in her recipes is that she goes through and explains the importance of measuring correctly, having the right ingredients and also provides ‘rules for substitutions’ (for those that have food sensitivities or allergies to some ingredients).

There are amazing array of goodies and I so enjoyed pouring over the books with my son, and allowing him the delight and excitement of picking something to make, of course he picked the most decadent of the lot, the ‘Black-And-White’ Cookies.  This recipe was simple enough to make, however the icing was tricky!

What does Erin use that I haven’t been using?

  • Xanthum Gum;
  • Chickpea & Fava Bean Flour *- because Erin likes to ensure that sweet treats should have some (protein) substance to them;
  • Potato Starch;
  • Agave Nectar;
  • Rice Flour;
  • Spelt Flour;
  • Coconut Oil – now be careful here it is a particular sort that she recommends.

So far, I have made the cookies, the chocolate muffins and the pancakes – next baked horizon is the donuts….stay tuned!

*I have found a stockist in Australia for this flour, however, it is produced in a factory where almond meal is also processed.  If you have no problem with this you can leave me a comment and I will send you the link!

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What! No Egg?

Photo Credit: My Green Australia 

Living life without the humble, but yet so versatile egg is not because we are Vegan, rather it was a decision that was made for us.  Stepping back in time,  I was a force in baking, egg was a staple in my fridge, I loved making cakes and biscuits, pastries and curds, my family even gave me the nickname of ‘Nigella’ (Nigella Lawson, famous cook with fabulous recipe books)!

However, life changes and you have to go with the flow.  My husband and I became parents, and our bundle of joy is now 4-1/2-years of age, developed severe allergies and you guessed it, one of them is to egg.

So this was a big baking sea-change for me, I went into what I now term as my ‘baking depression’; so many gadgets, so many recipe books, were all sadly put away.  Egg was no longer welcomed in our house.

As my son started to get bigger, I needed to make him birthday cakes and treats, so I started to tentatively explore the world of ‘no egg’, what I found was the fabulous world of the Vegans.  Vegans in a nutshell (and please forgive my summary here and the unintended pun), have a diet which is cruelty free which means that they don’t have any products from animals; meat, eggs or dairy.  Their diet consists of vegetables, nuts, soy, rice or any animal-free product.  So their recipes are easily translated into my allergy free house, and I substitute or leave out items that are not suitable or safe for my son (ie nuts).

Yes, I have said in an earlier post that I love the Vegans, and I do because their style of cooking brought me back from baking depression and now I am contemplating buying recipe books again (Vegan of course) and I am back to using all my old gadgets and buying new ones!  When you have a child with severe allergies, you have to make everything, so I am back to baking with a passion, and at its heart is my son, but my husband also benefits from the goodies!

So how do I replace the egg?  Well there are a few ways:

  • one teaspoon of soda bicarbonate with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (put it together and watch it fizz – great trick for your kids!); this gives the lift and some fluffiness for cakes and pancakes;
  • baking powder;
  • apple puree, is great for binding;
  • mashed banana, great for binding;
  • Orgran No Egg – Natural Egg Replacer – commercially prepared egg replacer; I use this for a binding agent when I am coating patties in bread crumbs.

These are just some of the egg replacements I use, have you got any others?  Would love to hear them, please post a comment!

P.S.  I have kept all my Nigella Lawson recipe books, they are in my ‘No More Allergies Hope Box’; I know one day my son will be able to enjoy all the things he is allergic to now, it’s just a matter of time.  There is no expiry date on recipe books or on hope, for that matter  : )

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Birthday Bento Box

When we are invited to a birthday party (and there are many when you are part of a Kindy class), we take a birthday bento box.  I hope I am not short-changing the Japanese ‘bento’ box which is used often for lunches, exists of several compartments where different foods can exist in their own space, without mushing into one unrecognised, mixed up and unappetising goo.  The bento arrangement works so well for preparing foods for an ‘away’ Birthday Party.  I have even found a BPA free container made by NUDE FOOD MOVERS – which works perfectly – you can find it here.

When you have a child with several major life threatening allergies, shared birthday party food is unfortunately not an option.  So my version of a bento box is one where my son gets to feel he is participating and not being left out.

Just a note on this, if you don’t have allergies and wonder why this is necessary, or if you are a dietitian or nutritionist, and think this maybe over the top (when you read further as to what I put into my bento box), please consider this scenario:

you have been invited to an afternoon tea birthday party, you walk in and the table looks amazing, party hats, poppers, lots of colours, bright table-cloth and streamers; whilst you are mingling and chatting you notice the lovely array of foods being placed on the table, lots of yummy cakes with vibrant colours, chocolate brownies, coloured drinks, bowls of ‘M & M’s’, fairy bread, candied popcorn, party pies and sausage rolls, you smell the gorgeous aromas and begin feeling hungry. As you are about to sit down, your host comes over and tells you that your Doctor just rang and everything on the table will make you seriously ill, maybe hospitalised or worse, it could be fatal.   You realise you CAN’T eat any of it!

How does it feel?  Sad, disappointed, frustrated, angry, excluded?

Now, try to put yourself into the shoes of a 4-1/2-year-old boy; he has been doing the ‘away’ Birthday Party since he was 1.

Bobby goes to several parties a year and I have got better at packing a visually appealing and yummy bento box; he loves to pick and try a bit of this and that – just like the other children at the party.  He often fends off other children wanting some of his food by saying “I don’t think you can have it – it might be itchy for you!”

I have to say that he is taking the exclusion and stress of not sharing in the birthday party food with grace beyond his years.  It is tough on him, but what can I do?  I remind him that he won’t remember the food at a party, but he will remember the experience, the fun, the activities and playing with his friends.

So I pack: home-made muffins, with chocolate icing, apple juice, biscuits (by Orgran), dairy free chocolate, home-made sausage rolls and party pies, lolly ‘snakes or jellies’, fruit salad and sometimes pop-corn.  There are many places you can get the dairy free chocolate and Orgran biscuits, I recently discovered the lovely women at Vegan Online, and we placed a large order; there was great excitement when that parcel was delivered!

The bento box doesn’t involve a huge amount of work, I make a batch of muffins, sausage rolls and pies, and freeze the lot; so I can just pull out what I need without the hassle of ‘cooking up’  each time.

For his birthday I make everything – but it is a pleasure as he gets the opportunity to share a meal with his friends, no bento box here!

What do you do for ‘away’ birthday parties, how does your child manage not being able to share food, how do you feel in these events?

The Vegans (love ’em)

Why I bless the Vegans on a daily basis, they have: –  a cruelty free diet, which means many of their products are dairy and egg free; always read the ingredients : ) – blazed a trail in manufactured food and more importantly recipes, google and see! – have a great range of products to buy online. So start googling!

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