Dan and I went away to a family wedding last weekend, which was a big deal for me and took a lot of thought and planning, not least my food. How was I going to prepare food on the Thursday or even Wednesday to last for the wedding on the Saturday and even for the trip home on Sunday? Staying in a hotel room with no fridge, having last access to a kitchen on the Thursday evening and with a weekend of hot weather ahead it was a bit daunting. Also factoring in that I rely on my food to sustain me not just physically but emotionally. Life can be a bit of an uphill climb. I get tired. I want to eat things I enjoy and that sustain and nurture me, especially at a special occasion when everyone is enjoying themselves and when you really need fuel to keep going. I find it hard to be away from my kitchen, as I only eat food that Dan and I prepare being such a sensitive coeliac and lactose intolerant, and also avoiding grains, refined sugar, soya, nightshade fruit and vegetables (so that counts out peppers, tomatoes, chilli, potatoes… I know it sounds ridiculous, but believe me I don’t do it for a laugh, I do it to feel better!), it is very difficult to eat away from home. I can never eat out. Supermarket hummus, once an easy option, now upsets me (though not on a personal level), and hummus can’t be kept more than a day anyway out of the fridge, especially in heat. Root vegetable crisps are just too fatty and rich, a few is okay but more than that just makes me feel blah. Rice cakes, another past easy staple when out of the house are now out of my life, puffed buckwheat cakes would’ve been perfect but I couldn’t get hold of any. Oats too are out for me (although I did in the end take gluten-free oatcakes for convenience sake, and in such small quantities as a one-off it wasn’t too troublesome, though I find all grains increase my inflammation and pain, which I especially need to avoid on trips away as it flares up my fybromyalgia and arthritis, causes my feet to hurt a lot and my knees to go and then I’m, literally, stuck).
We don’t have a car, so it was a train from our home to my parents in the Fens, a super early start (I was up at 4.30am, making life even harder for myself), on to a wonderful event, a super-nourishing spiritual talk I have been looking forward to all year, and then a lift from my parents house to Birmingham. A really long day. Dan went off to a drinks-do in the evening but I literally could barely drag myself from the bed to the bath, but I did as I was SO determined to make the most of it (if I told you our bath at home is a plastic plumbers bath we have to fill with the shower head and empty by hand would you believe me? It is.) Hotel baths = heaven. I had 4. And a TV, which we don’t have either. But remotes! they’re such dreadful flicky (don’t even mention sticky, when the penny dropped I had to clean it, and myself, twice) things, you spend so much time going through the list, and then you find a film, watch half of it and have to abandon it because it’s so mediocre. Life is too short for messing about with remote controls and scrolling down lists.
I gave the food situation some thought, decided on buckwheat bread, with a tub of tahini and vegan margarine (and to buy salad and olives daily). Lots of fruit. Nuts. Also baking a fruit and walnut cake seemed like a jackpot solution to my worries, but, fate conspired so I couldn’t get hold of any gluten-free buckwheat flour at the last minute bread and cake were a no go and I really had to think on my feet. AAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHH!!! And then,
buckwheat flapjack was my light bulb moment!
(oh God, compare that to Stephen Hawking’s and I’m feeling quite silly…)
Oats may be out but buckwheat flakes I always have in my walk-in pantry (okay hands up, my small and completely crammed cupboards…), I always too have seeds, almonds, and raisins, and this time I even had a goji and cranberry multi seed mix which was perfect. The difficulty with buckwheat flakes vs oats is that they bind less, so I added almond flour, to make it more cakey and also more nutritious and filling, and to give that wonderful toasty almond flavour too. I would normally substitute some stevia drops for sugar to reduce acidity but here I needed every bit of sugar to bind, and also give me maximum energy per slice. Travelling and going to weddings and seeing loads of people is energy-consuming!
Result was they were a total life-saver! They kept me happy, full when I needed to be full, made me feel I was never missing out, and they’re were a real treat. I generally keep my sugar carbs to fruit in my diet these days and so a sweet treat like these flapjack were super lovely and kept so well.
Other travel-food-wise, I also made a load of quinoa with garlic, onion, toasted sunflower seeds and courgette and froze it ready for the journey (and bought a cold bag with an ice pack which lasted the Friday into Saturday and was so useful for the hotel room, we kept nut milk, olives and all the rapidly defrosting food in there). I bought little sweetcorn cobs with sticks in ready, cooked them up and then froze them too, which were such a good idea. And that is what I had for the wedding meal, and it was great, I didn’t feel too left out, and I didn’t feel too peculiar, which was a real relief, because whilst I am completely and utterly used to not eating what everyone else is eating and truly resigned to that fact, it can be tough on a special occasion, especially if what I have to eat is far inferior. And it is so important not to make other people feel in any way awkward too, which is the last thing I ever want and I try very hard for that not to ever be the case. I also had lots of fruit with me, which as a type 1 diabetic is a must, especially in the heat, out and about, when I can often need to eat 8 apples or other fruit a day to keep my head above water (i.e. stop my blood sugar dropping). Rounding the meal off with flapjacks, I was super good and ready to go! I wasn’t sure if I would make it through the day, for me so many things can go wrong, and the last two (each really lovely) weddings I have been to I couldn’t make it to the evening reception, which was a real shame. My feet may be too painful, I may be too tired, I may have a virus and feel too poorly, but I had the best day, it was such a lovely wedding and occasion to be a part of, and flapjack-fueled (who needs alcohol when you have flapjack?!) I even went crazy on the dance-floor, which is just my favourite thing in the world to do (along with being outside in the wild, swimming outside, being with horses, seeing Dan happy, hugging my twin and hearing all her wonderful ideas). I was even still dancing when I got back to our hotel room at midnight with a big grin on my face! SUCCESS! High five!
What to expect from these badboys:
Sweet (you can reduce the sweetness as you like)
Full of goodness
Energy packed super-fuel
They may make you dance like a crazy person so do be careful xx
- 1 1/4 cups buckwheat flakes
- 1/2 cup mixed seeds, such as sunflower and pumpkin
- 1/2 cup dried berries, I used goji, cranberry + raisin
- 1/3 cup sultanas
- 1 cup ground almond
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine, or you can use coconut oil if you prefer
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar, or other sugar
- 1/3 cup almond milk or other nut milk
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- flax egg - 2 tbsp ground flax, 5 tbsp water
Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 360 F
Grease your baking tray or line with greaseproof paper.
Melt the margarine in a saucepan with the sugar, salt, maple syrup and nut milk on a low heat, stirring.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the liquid ingredients, mixing together thoroughly, and spread it out evenly in your baking tray.
Cook in the middle or top 3rd of the oven for 20 mins or so, or until golden, being careful not to catch.
Cut into squares whilst still hot and when cooled remove carefully and store in an airtight container for no more than a week (as if they'll last that long!).
If you like them less sweet, reduce the sugar or the fruit.
For extra binding add a flax egg to the mixture, which is also very nutritious. I didn't, but they were slightly crumbly, if you need them not to be I'd go for the flax egg.
SONG OF THE WEEK The Contours ‘Do You Love Me’