Easy no-knead dinner rolls

 

I found this recipe online which claimed I could make bread rolls in only 30 minutes. Brilliant! I thought, I can make them before kindy and we can have them with soup for lunch. If I hadn’t been so sleep deprived I would have seen through the marketing ploy earlier as the recipe completely ignores the required rising time and assumes the barest minimum for prep & bake times.

Despite that, it is worth being aware of recipes like these as they are simple enough that kids can help make them and they don’t have to be kneaded.

Pros: no / minimal kneading, quick (as breadmaking goes), Miss 3 loved them, lovely hot out of the oven.

Cons: a sweet roll (works for kids! depends on your tastes); good straight out of the oven and fine the next day but becomes denser each day so on Days 2 & 3 you may want to warm slightly.

This is a slightly thicker bread roll that reminds me a little of a bready scone!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. breadmakers yeast
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (I use rice bran)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups high grade flour

Allergies: dairy free, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar in a large bowl. Add in oil, salt, egg and flour until combined. (Add a little extra flour if dough is too sticky.)
  2. Shape immediately into about 15 rolls and place in a greased 9×13″ cake tin. Let raise for about 15-20 minutes in a warm space.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF / 190’C. Bake rolls for about 15-20 minutes.

 

Tips: The original recipe aimed for a 15 min prep time; you can just throw everything in a bowl, do no kneading, and it will work. If you’re willing to invest a little extra time you can get a better result by:

  • Giving the yeast a few minutes to feed on the sugar and grow. As they feed on the sugar they release carbon dioxide gas which will give a bubbly foamy effect. Giving the yeast time to activate means that it will be better able to convert the starches in the flour and then those gas bubbles interact with the gluten to provide a light, fluffy, rising effect in the dough.
  • Give the dough sufficient rising time. This will vary depending on the temperature (they like 75°F-85°F / 24°C-29°C) and if you’ve done any kneading. Ideally, they will almost double in size.
  • Knead the dough for at least a few minutes. Kneading helps to develop the gluten in the flour so that you’ll get a lighter, fluffier roll.

 

What should I cook the rolls in?

The original recipe calls for a metal cake tin. The recipe is aiming for speed and this allows heat to radiate off the walls of the cake tin (as well as something of a steaming effect from the rolls touching). You could also just use a metal baking tray and cook a little longer if needed.

Using a large ceramic dish, like I did, means that the tops browned but the bottoms steamed (like bao). I ended up putting them back in the oven (upside down) on a metal tray and browning them just a little.

 

Everything you wanted to know about baking bread & rolls!

I stumbled upon a fabulous repository of information at the Robin Hood Baking Centre; apart from a wee bit of product placement all of their information is well presented with helpful photos. I’ve altered the order of information so that there’s a more logical grouping and flow to it 🙂

ADDING FLOUR

Adding Flour

People often add too much flour to dough, and this makes the finished product heavy and dense. Hold back about 1 cup (250 mL) of flour, then add it gradually until you get the desired texture. Add as little flour as possible to the kneading surface. Use a pastry scraper as you knead the dough to pick up any bits that stick to the surface. The dough should still be slightly sticky when fully kneaded— it may be a little harder to work but will give you the desired results.

CHOOSING FLOUR

Choosing Flour

It’s best to use flour specially formulated for baking bread, like Robin Hood® Best for Bread flours. It will help you make delicious breads that are high in volume with a light, even texture.
At the minimum, you want High Grade Flour (not plain flour). You may also find flours that are called ‘Strong Flour’ or which say that they have extra gluten added for breadmaking.

ADDING SALT

Adding Salt

Salt enhances taste, and helps bring out the flavours and aromas of the ingredients in your baked goods. Salt will help with tightening the gluten structure, which strengthens the bread dough, and helps with the volume of the bread in the end.

ADDING SUGAR

Adding Sugar

Yeast feeds on sugar, which causes it to activate and produce carbon dioxide gas. Be sure to follow the recipe, as adding too much sugar can slow down your yeast or keep it from activating.

BAKING WITH YEAST

Baking with Yeast

When using active dry yeast, it’s important to make sure it’s still viable. Always follow the recipe directions, which will include dissolving a specified amount of sugar into lukewarm water (110ºF-115ºF/45ºC-56ºC). Then add the yeast and allow it to stand for 10 minutes. If the yeast bubbles up, it’s still active. If not, your bread or rolls will not rise.

Be sure the water is lukewarm. If the water exceeds 138°F (59°C), the yeast will become inactive.

KNEADING BREAD DOUGH

Kneading Bread Dough

Kneading helps to develop gluten in the bread. Knead dough on a lightly floured work surface, adding more flour if dough is too sticky.

You’ll know kneading is complete when the bread is smooth and elastic. To test it, lightly slap the dough. If your hand comes away clean, it’s ready to rise.

RISING

First Rising
When you let the dough rise, the ingredients activate and carbon dioxide develops causing the gluten to stretch. It will rise best in a warm place (75°F-85°F / 24°C-29°C) that is free from drafts. Make sure you place it in a greased bowl that’s large enough to allow the dough to double in size. Cover the bowl with a tea towel.Once it’s doubled in size and no longer springs back when pressed, lightly punch down the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten.

Second Rising
Once your dough is placed in or on its pan, it’s ready to rise again in a warm place (75°F-85°F / 24°C-29°C). Let your dough rise until it is again double in size.

If dough overrises, it may collapse in the oven during baking.

If you don’t have a place in your home that’s warm enough, try leaving it in the oven with the oven light turned on. If you like, you can also add a pot of hot water on another rack.

Letting the dough rise twice helps improve the flavour and texture even more.

RISING BREAD DOUGH IN THE REFRIGERATOR

Rising Bread Dough in the Refrigerator

Just finished making your bread dough but need to step away? Place your dough in the refrigerator for the first rising. This slows down the rising as yeast doesn’t like the cold. You can let the dough sit in the refrigerator overnight.

When you’re ready to make the bread, take the dough out of the refrigerator, punch it down, shape the dough and let it rise a second time. Since the dough is cold, it will take longer than normal to rise.

SHAPING A LOAF

Shaping a Loaf

To eliminate large air bubbles, roll out your dough into a large rectangle (approx. 9” x 12” / 23cm x 30cm). From the shorter end, roll it up jelly-roll style, sealing the dough in the middle with the heel of your hand after each turn.

For a different look, bake your loaves free-form on a baking sheet that’s greased or sprinkled with cornmeal. Cornmeal will prevent bread from sticking and provide an interesting texture to the bread.

DIVIDING DOUGH

Dividing dough

Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears when a recipe calls for dividing the dough in half or making into rolls. If you tear the dough it may compromise the gluten, which will affect the rising and shape of the end product.

FREEZING BREAD DOUGH

Freezing Bread Dough

Love homemade bread but don’t want to have to make the dough all the time? Plan ahead and freeze some dough. Use your favourite bread dough recipe but double the amount of yeast called for. Follow the recipe for the mixing, kneading and the first rising. Punch down the dough, shape into loaves that are 2” (5 cm) thick (this allows for quicker thawing). Place in air tight freezer bag and freeze for up to four weeks.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from freezer bag, place it in a greased loaf pan, and cover with greased plastic wrap. The dough will rise as it defrosts. Once thawed, follow your recipe’s baking directions.

GLAZING BREADS

Glazing Breads

Glazes may be used to provide different results in the bread crust. For a crisp crust, brush the dough with a mixture of one egg white and ½ tsp (2 mL) water. For a shiny, golden crust, use a whole egg beaten with 1 tsp (5 mL) water. If you’d like a deep brown crust, use egg yolks instead of egg whites. If you brush the dough with melted butter or oil, it will produce a soft velvety crust.

If you want to top your bread with nuts, seeds or grains, make sure to brush the dough with the glaze first, so it acts like a glue.

CRUSTS – FROM SOFT TO CRISP

Crusts – From Soft to Crisp

Dough that is made with water will typically have a crispier crust, while dough made with milk will be softer.

To soften a crisp crust, brush it with melted butter as soon as it comes out of the oven.

For a darker, richer colour, brush the finished loaves lightly with butter and return them to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

HOW DO I GET A CRISP BAGUETTE TYPE CRUST

How Do I Get a Crisp Baguette Type Crust

To get a crisp baguette type crust, you have to create a steam environment in your oven. Using a spray bottle, spray water on the sides of the oven every 10 minutes while the bread is baking. You can also put a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven under the bread.

VERSATILITY OF BREAD DOUGH

Versatility of Bread Dough

Take your favourite bread dough and change it up by adding nuts, cheese, dried fruit or chopped chocolate. To make a savory dinner bread, you can also add chopped garlic and herbs.

PREPARING YOUR PAN

Preparing Your Pan

Use shortening or oil, like Crisco®, butter, or non-stick spray to grease the pan.

BAKING WITH PROPER HEAT DISTRIBUTION

Baking with Proper Heat Distribution

Unless the recipe says otherwise, always bake your bread on a lower rack.

If you’re baking more than one pan, be sure they are not touching one another or any sides of the oven. You want the air to circulate between them so they cook evenly.

If your crust is becoming too brown too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY BREAD IS BAKED?

How Do I Know When My Bread Is Baked?

Similar to checking the doneness of other baked goods, you can insert a skewer or cake tester into middle of bread. If it comes out clean, it is ready. An instant read thermometer is a very reliable way to check as well. Insert the thermometer in the center of the loaf – if the temperature has reached 190°F/88°C, it is ready.

COOLING BAKED BREAD

Cooling Baked Bread

Remove the baked bread from the pan immediately and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. This allows the air to circulate and prevents the crust from becoming soggy.

WHY IS MY BREAD TOO SMALL?

Why is My Bread Too Small?

Make sure your oven is at the right temperature. If it’s too hot, the bread may bake too quickly, causing a crust to form before the bread is finished rising in the oven.

Also make sure that your bread dough isn’t too cold. Make sure your bread dough has risen in a warm place (between 75°to 85°F/24° to 29°C).

When baking, leave a space between your pans so they are not touching in the oven, allowing for proper air circulation.

WHY IS MY BREAD COARSE AND CRUMBLY?

Why is My Bread Coarse and Crumbly?

If your bread is coarse and crumbly, you may have let your dough over rise or you may have over kneaded the dough. Make sure you follow the recipe directions and allow the dough to rise just until it is double in size – this should take about 1 hour. Knead your dough for the specified time only.

STORING BREAD

Storing Bread

To keep your crust crisp, store your bread in a paper bag at room temperature. It should be good for up to two days. If storing bread at room temperature, avoid storing it in plastic wrap unless you want an especially soft crust.

Bread is best stored at room temperature or frozen. Refrigeration tends to dry out bread.

FREEZING BREAD

Freezing Bread

Bread freezes really well. To freeze, allow your loaf to cool completely, wrap well with plastic wrap, then place in a freezer bag. Be sure to remove all the air or ice crystals will form while freezing.

Thaw at room temperature in the freezer bag to allow the bread to re-absorb the moisture lost during the freezing process.

To freshen your loaf, place it in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10-15 minutes.

Easy Banana Muffins (or Banana Cake) that can be made vegan and allergy free!

Banana cupcakes & gingerbread spice cookies

Banana cupcakes & gingerbread spice cookies. Made vegan and allergy free.

Banana cake has long been one of my nemesis; I just haven’t had the knack. I’m so glad to have finally found a recipe that works! It also has the wonderful bonus of being dairy, egg, soy, and nut free! I have also made it gluten free 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 mashed / pureed ripe bananas*
  • 5 Tbsp neutral oil (I use rice bran)
  • 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2c plain flour (or Healtheries Gluten Free Bread Mix).
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar (I use apple cider)

Tip: The riper the bananas, the better this will work! As the bananas ripen they convert starch to sugar. Really ripe bananas will mash more easily, be sweeter, and have a more intense banana flavour.

Gluten Free: You can, of course, use a different gluten free flour! The reason that I’ve listed that one is because it contains guar gum but no raising agents (as the recipe includes those). You could, for instance, substitute superfine rice flour and add guar gum. Personally, I don’t use xanthan gum as it can be grown using soy as a base. You may need to experiment a little with gluten free flours to get the cake just right (you may want to start with muffins as it’s easier to tell when they’re cooked). Keep in mind that gluten free baking is often moister, denser, and may require a longer baking time.

Allergies: soy free, dairy free, egg free, nut free, gluten free*

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C and prepare muffin trays / cake tin.
  2. Mash your bananas until you have a smooth texture. Tip: A food processor can do this quickly for you but you’ll want to do the actual mixing by hand.
  3. Mix in the oil and 1/2 cup water.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the wet ingredients (banana, oil, water) to the dry ingredients. Add the vinegar.
  6. Stir till just combined. (Slowly add additional water if required).
  7. Quickly get into cupcake cases, muffin trays, or cake tin, and pop in oven.
  8. Bake until skewer comes out clean. Approximately 12 – 15 mins for muffins and 30-40 mins for cake.

Icings: Check out these ideas for completely natural icings that don’t use any artificial additives and are easy to make.

Tips: I’ve made this recipe several times. Lessons learned: using the plastic batter-stirrer-attachment-thingy for the food processor makes for a denser end product (so does over stirring by hand); the rising effect that you get from the vinegar + baking soda means that you want to get this into the oven quickly (instead of having a lengthy sidebar with your toddler about how baking is really just chemistry in the kitchen).

Making natural icings for kids

All natural colourful icing for kids with no artificial colours or additives

Tropical jungle mango & pear icing | Princess pink beetroot icing

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. I use Nuttelex + coconut milk to make a vegan, allergy free frosting that tastes amazing!

Making all natural icings is easy and is a great way to avoid issues with allergies, chemical sensitivities, or the fact that countries like New Zealand and Australia still allow artificial food dyes that are banned in Europe due to health concerns. My daughters 3rd birthday party used three all natural icings that were vegan, free of all the top allergens, and contained no artificial additives.

Allergies: gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, nut free, additive free.

Gingerbread / Spice Cookies (Allergy Free)

Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour (I have also used Healtheries GF Bread Mix)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 150g butter or allergy free spread (I use Nuttelex)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Golden Syrup
  • Drop vanilla
  • Pinch salt

Note: These make a light more-ish spices gingerbread cookie (as opposed to one denser and chewier). Maple syrup will provide a more delicate flavour, golden syrup a more traditional one. The flavour notes are easy to experiment with, you can add more ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. I’ve made these a lot as my daughter loves them and this is her favourite combination.

Allergies: dairy free*, gluten free*, soy free, egg free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Cream ‘butter’, sugar, maple (or golden) syrup, and vanilla.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. Knead everything together. It will gradually turn from breadcrumbs to a soft cookie dough. Add a little water if you need to but just a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 – 60 mins. You can leave it in a ball or roll it out. It’s tempting to try cutting it but (and I speak from experience) it doesn’t work very well at room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 180’C while rolling out the cookies.
  6. Place cookies on a baking sheet / lightly oiled baking tray.
  7. Bake for 12-15 mins.
  8. Take out from oven and allow to cool briefly before placing on cooling rack to continue cooling.

Tip: If you want a fancy (and easy) dessert reserve some of the cookie dough. Serve balls of French vanilla ice cream with little balls of cookie dough and a warm gingerbread cookie.

Note: These cookies are soft coming straight out of the oven and will harden overnight. They are delicious either way. They also freeze well.

Gingerbread cookies with chocolate icing

Gingerbread cookies with chocolate icing

Wild berry chocolate cake (Gluten Free)

Wild berry chocolate cake (Gluten Free)

Wild berry chocolate cake (Gluten Free)

I love chocolate. I’ve posted a few chocolate recipes like the Crazy One Dish Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Irish Potato Cake, and I’ve posted some make-from-scratch gluten free recipes like the Vanilla Cupcakes and the all natural pink berry flavoured icing. I wanted to play around in the kitchen with some different gluten free ingredients and make a wonderfully chocolatey and moist cake that also wouldn’t be packed with sugar – I prefer to balance my cakes so there’s more chocolate flavour in the cake and then extra sweetness in the (optional) icing. I liked my recipe for the gluten free Chocolate Cupcakes and used it as the basis for this cake!

Ingredients

Group 1

Group 2

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup superfine white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo flour (also called chickpea flour)
  • 1T sweet (glutinous) rice flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries (i.e, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries).
    • I like this paired with raspberries best!

Allergies: dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’C.
  2. Whisk together the ingredients in Group 1. This helps to aerate the mix. You can use a stick blender or I used the food processor (with a plastic mixing attachment, not a metal cutting blade!).
  3. Sift together the ingredients in Group 2.
  4. Mix the combined dry ingredients into the whisked liquid.
  5. Divide the mix between two cake tins (or similar). Bake at 180’c for approx. 25-30 mins or until cooked.
  6. Allow to cool before icing. Place one cake layer on serving dish. Cover with jam (i.e. you could have raspberries in the cake mix and then use raspberry jam), place the second cake layer on top, dust with icing sugar. Serve with cream or coconut ice-cream.

Tips

As an alternative you might want to bake this as a bundt cake and use a chocolate buttercream frosting.

Ancient Grains Bread (soft & fluffy!)

Ancient Grains Bread

Ancient Grains Bread

To make a 750g loaf. This was delicious with home made peanut butter.

Ingredients

  • 290ml water
  • 2T oil (I use rice bran oil)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2T sugar
  • 3c bread flour
  • 2 T mix of:
    • Linseed
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Sunflower Seeds
    • Buckwheat
    • Puffed Quinoa
    • Coconut Thread
    • *You can mix this yourself or Hubbards conveniently sell a Seeds & Ancient Grains Mix
  • 2T milk powder
    • Baby formula also works and has the benefit of fortifying it with added vitamins & minerals!
    • Can replace with Almond Milk powder or Coconut Milk powder.
  • 3 tsp bread improver yeast

Allergies: soy free, egg free, dairy free* nut free.

Directions

  1. Put everything into the breadmaker in order listed. Select Dough only.
  2. When it finishes, select Dough only again so that it goes through another knockdown/rising cycle.
  3. Take out dough, knead for a couple of minutes, and place in bread tin. Let it rise while oven heats.
  4. Heat oven to 220’C.
  5. Bake at 220’C for 10 minutes, then at 180’C for 30 minutes; you may want to lower the oven tray when you turn the temperature down. I also recommend removing the loaf from the bread tin for the last 5-10 mins of cooking to allow even browning along the base.
  6. Bread should sound ‘hollow’ if you take it out of the tin and knock on the bottom.

Note: This will not turn out the same if you simply cook it in the breadmaker (it will be okay but not amazing) because the bread is contained by the size of the breadmaker and you can’t vary temperature and distance from heat.

Tip: A longer rising time will result in fluffier bread. I have sometimes done 4 knockdowns (two lengthy and two short) and 4 rising times meaning that the bread with 4-8 hours of ‘proofing’ before baking. Gluten based bread loves getting knocked around; all that kneading and rising helps to elasticate the dough and allows the gluten + yeast to work together to create tiny air bubbles.

If you’re interested in the chemistry of breadmaking check out this great post from Serious Eats.

Did you know? A commercial bakery will go from start to bag in 3 hours or less when making bread; traditional methods (and sourdoughs) take 18-25 hours. One theory behind rising numbers of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease is our move away to industrialized baking; a longer rising time results in decreased gluten proteins as they break down and change. It’s something to think about if you’re considering decreasing gluten in your diet.

Ancient Grains Bread

Ancient Grains Bread

What are tonsils and why do they need removing? (What is a tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy?)

How inflamed tonsils compare with normal tonsils

How inflamed tonsils compare with normal tonsils

What are tonsils?

Tonsils are soft tissue located at the back of your throat; they are part of the body’s lymphatic system (so are adenoids). When they are working properly, they help to recognise bacteria and viruses entering through the mouth and produce white blood cells to fight off infection.

Tonsils are particularly useful during childhood while the body is still encountering new bacteria and viruses for the first time and building up the immune system. Doctors seem to be of differing opinion as to how useful they are as adults; I’ve some that have called them redundant and unnecessary, I’ve also met other doctors who view removing them as an absolute last resort.

Why do tonsils need removing?

Tonsils may temporarily swell while fighting infection, sometimes they become so swollen that they result in a very sore throat and fever (tonsilitis), they may also partially obstruct the airways and not respond to non-invasive treatmeants.

Surgery may be recommended to help treat:

  • Multiple case of tonsillitis (seven cases of tonsillitis or strep in the last year, or five cases or more over each of the last two years).
  • Breathing problems related to swollen tonsils
  • Frequent and loud snoring
  • Periods in which you stop breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)
  • Bleeding of the tonsils
  • Trouble swallowing chewy foods, especially meats
  • Cancer of the tonsils

Back in the 1980s, having your tonsils out was kind of a childhood rite of passage. It was a very common procedure and often parents had already experienced a tonsillectomy in their own childhood. Medical opinion has now swung in a different direction and there is a more stringent list of criteria that often needs to be met (as well as requiring parent consent / advocacy). For a balanced medical opinion, try this post by Christopher Johnson (a pediatric intensive care physician) .

What is tonsil grading?

Surgery is most likely to be recommended if tonsils are consistently swollen at Grade 3 or Grade 4 coupled with other complications (such as snoring and/or sleep apnea).

What are the 4 grades of swollen tonsils

What are the 4 grades of swollen tonsils?

Basically tonsils are graded based on how much of the airway they block.

  • Grade 0 = tonsils are within the the tonsillar fossa
  • Grade 1 = tonsils obstruct 0-25% of oropharyngeal airway
  • Grade 2 = tonsils obstruct 26-50%
  • Grade 3 = tonsils obstruct 51-75%
  • Grade 4 = tonsils obstruct 75%

What are the possible side effects of swollen tonsils?

  • Fever / temperature. Keep in mind that children can react in their own individual ways – they may keep getting low grade temperatures instead of a fever.
  • Runny nose and congestion (as well as the sore throat).
  • Difficult or painful swallowing.
  • Swollen and tender glands (lymph nodes) on the sides of the neck.
  • Bad breath.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Tiredness and headache.
  • Stomach upset or pain.
  • Mouth breathing, noisy breathing, and/or snoring (due to enlarged tonsils blocking the airways). Obstructive sleep apnea. The swollen tonsils and/or adenoids can intermittently block airflow. It sounds like your child is silent and then there’s a big noisy sucking in of air.
    • In Miss 2 it can be so loud that I can hear it through her closed bedroom door and can sound like something’s fallen off a shelf and hit the floor! It’s a crappy and frightening thing as a parent that can result in just sitting with them in the dark either to check that they are breathing or to give them a gentle nudge to help them breathe again. If you’ve spent time with them hooked up to an oxygen saturation monitor then you’ll be familiar with what a stark difference there is between their oxygen levels when alert and upright versus lying prone to sleep.

  • Fatigue. They might seem like they’re getting enough hours of sleep but in reality the quality of sleep is poor because their body is struggling to get enough oxygen through the night. It’s a bit like starting each day on a half tank of gas.
  • Developmental delays. Sleep is critical for young children. During those early years, they are rapidly growing and learning. They need sleep to focus during the day; to have time for their brain to make connections between all the things they have learned or experienced; and their brain releases a growth hormone while they sleep. Poor sleep, fatigue and pain/discomfort, trouble hearing: these can make it harder for them to stay on track.
  • Behavioural difficulties. Poor sleep, fatigue and pain/discomfort, trouble hearing: these can result in daily misery that they don’t know how to express.

Keep in mind that young children (i.e. toddlers) may not be able to describe their symptoms to you and it may not even occur to them to do so (especially if they chronic health issues). They may also be confused by referred pain; the ears and throat share nerves (as well as being linked by eustachian tubes) so they may say their ear is sore when the infection is actually in their throat. Another possibility is if they keep exhibiting teething type behaviour well after all their teeth are in (i.e. chewing on fingers or a dummy constantly, lots of drool) combined with a temperature and bad breath – the cause may actually be their tonsils!

What does surgery (a tonsillectomy) involve?

Surgery will normally take place at a hospital (probably as an outpatient). The doctor will review medical history in advance and make recommendations about pausing medications. You will normally be advised not to take anti-inflammatory medications within 7 days of surgery. They will also discuss post-operative pain medication.

The day of the surgery will involve a period of fasting; food or water won’t be permitted because they can impact the anesthetic. It’s a good idea to have family support and a game plan of how to distract your child; an older child may understand why they can’t eat but a toddler is likely to just focus on the fact that they are off routine and they are HUNGRY!

During surgery, your child will be under a general anesthetic. The surgeon will enter through the mouth and the tonsils will be removed with an electrical cauterizing unit.  You can watch videos of surgery on YouTube but they can be a bit difficult to stomach; I preferred this video of a digital tonsillectomy surgery.

adenotonsillectomy

Adenoids and tonsils

Often the adenoids will be removed at the same time as the tonsils (if they are also swollen); this is termed an adenotonsillectomy. Click here for information about the adenoids.

What happens after surgery?

Depending on the age of your child, they may keep them in the hospital overnight for monitoring or they may go to a recovery room and then go home the same day. You should be given a pamphlet with information about post-op care (i.e. like this tonsillectomy guide).

Your child may feel quite groggy and tired for the next few days and also have some nausea; vomiting once or twice is normal but contact your doctor if vomiting persists.

A light, cool diet for the next few days is generally recommended (avoid hot liquids or spicy food) but doctors will often recommend that children eat whatever they want – the abrasion from bread or crackers will actually help to clean the area. (That’s not to say there won’t sometimes be screaming pain because a sharp cracker edge has just struck the surgical site).

Some doctors will prescribe antibiotics. They will normally be prescribed painkillers (like Pammol and Tramadol) and anti-inflammatories (like Nurofen); if your child won’t take the fully funded options consider buying over-the-counter replacements (for kids) that have been flavoured.  It is important to keep on top of their medication (including waking them up around the clock for a few nights) as the pain is severe; it will often peak somewhere around around Days 5-9 due to the way the membranes heal and can be excruciating.

It’s important to keep them rested and hydrated – even if this means just getting small regular sips of water, lemonade ice-blocks, or melty ice=cream into them; overall, the fluids are more important than food.

Common side effects will include:

  • Swollen tongue
  • Bad breath (like a hyena!)
  • White coating on the tongue
  • White scabs over the tonsils

Your doctor will talk you through potential complications and when to seek immediate medical care – i.e. if bleeding occurs (it can be life threatening); they may be able to resolve with medication or surgery may be required.

They need lots of rest for two weeks to promote healing and will be off school during this time due to the risk of infection.  They will also generally have several weeks off sports, exercise, and swimming.

Keep in mind that removing tonsils may only be one part of a wider treatment plan. If the chronic inflammation was linked to allergies then you will still need to work with a doctor to create an ongoing allergy treatment plan.

Gluten Free Berry Muffins

Gluten Free Berry Muffins

Gluten Free Berry Muffins

I love experimenting with gluten free flours. This is a different recipe again from the gluten free Vanilla Cupcakes and moist Chocolate Cupcakes. I was really stoked as Miss 2 kept asking for more of the mini ones and her playdate didn’t notice they were gluten free!

Like most gluten free baking, these are best served same (or next day); I free flow the rest in the freezer and pull them out as needed.

Ingredients

Group 1

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil (like Rice Bran oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Generous pinch ground cinnamon

Group 2

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup superfine white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo flour (also called chickpea flour)
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1T sweet (glutinous) rice flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2T Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Other ingredients

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup frozen berries
    • I recommend raspberries and blueberries.
  • Raw unrefined coconut sugar

Allergies: dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’C.
  2. Whisk together the ingredients in Group 1. This helps to aerate the mix. You can use a stick blender or I used the food processor (with a plastic mixing attachment, not a metal cutting blade!).
  3. Sift together the ingredients in Group 2.
  4. Mix the combined dry ingredients into the whisked liquid.
  5. Prepare the frozen berries and mix in gently.
    • Raspberries crush really easily into tiny teardrops (which provide a pretty pink speckled effect when baked); blueberries are already a good size; boysenberries are large enough to need cutting in half.
  6. Pour into cupcake / muffin trays.
    • I made 6 large and 12 mini cupcakes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180’C. The mixture will thicken slightly while the oven heats.
    • The mix will appear very runny compared to a gluten mix – the rice flour and cornstarch will cause it to thicken as it cooks.
  8. Bake at 180’c for approx. 25-35 mins or until cooked.
    • I found the mini muffins took 25 mins and the normal ones took 35 mins.

 

Icing 

I liked these with dusted with coconut sugar. I pulled them out of the oven after approx. 15 minutes (once they had risen), dusted with coconut sugar, and then placed back in the oven to finish baking.

I also have recipes for other icings that don’t use any artificial colours, glycerin, additives etc.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing (allergy friendly)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This is a great frosting to use with Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes, the Crazy One Dish Chocolate Cake, or the Chocolate Irish Potato Cake (vegan). I made a vegan version of this frosting for my daughter’s 3rd Birthday (using Nuttelex + coconut milk) and it tasted divine!

Ingredients

  • 115g softened butter, or allergy friendly spread like Nuttelex
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup Dutch Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 – 3 Tbsp milk (dairy, rice, or coconut)
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp espresso powder

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free*, soy free, egg free, nut free. Vegan*.

Directions

  1. Whip the butter.
  2. Sift in 1 cup icing sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Add the vanilla and milk.
  3. Beat until smooth.
  4. Slowly beat in the rest of the icing sugar to give a good consistency for frosting.