As the evening light fades and temperatures dip the kids are encouraging me to fall in love with a bowl and a wooden spoon again.

I fell out of love of baking after years of getting up at 5am to create gluten free and ‘everything else free’ food for my young man with autism. I was homeschooling him at the time. He had allergies and bad reactions to shop bought food so I started on a daily basis to keep his diet free from milk, wheat, gluten, corn, sugar, salt, MSG, preservatives, and additives. Well, you know what they say about too much of a good thing! Yup! After six years of that carry-on I became burnt out in the kitchen and the food didn’t taste great either.

Cooking from scratch and shopping for ‘special’ ingredients was frustrating, time consuming and created leaky purse syndrome. The up side was I learnt a lot about food. I also learnt how to become completely obsessive and how to make things really complicated! I had a shelf full of alternative recipe books, a kitchen full of implements and a freezer full of ‘special’ foods that my man didn’t find so special. Keeping Modley on a ‘free from’ diet was as difficult as keeping me away from a bag of Pistachios.

When we moved county and country Cian attended school for the first time. There was a settling in period were my habits in the kitchen were broken. Health foods, special flours etc. and online delivery to Ireland was mega expensive but with my newfound knowledge about food I wanted to keep all the kids healthy and free from those numbers, chemicals and strange words on everything in the supermarket. I had to find a way that was much less complicated, stressful and budget friendly.

At this time Cian had learnt to tolerate fruit so I found myself juicing four or five fruits in the morning and sharing the drink or a fruit salad between myself and the kids. I bought fresh vegetables and started making hearty soups and salads. I kept it simple. My kids tend to snack rather than eat a full dinner and so I started making healthy snacks instead of meat and two veg. I served food raw, grilled, baked or steamed. I chose simple recipes that only required a few ingredients and were easy to follow.  It worked! Cian was still on his ‘free from’ diet and I only bought him some ‘special’ foods like gluten free pasta and treats. His moods and behaviours continued to improve and we as a family were mostly eating the same simple foods.

During those early ‘free from’ days I was blessed to find out some very astounding, confronting and freeing information about our food which has made me the proud grilling, blending and sautéing Mama that I am today. I just have to fall in love with baking again and autumn is a good time to cozy up with the we’ens and try out some homemade muffins. I am still trying to figure out how to get Missy and Modley to eat all that is good for their growing mind & body but by rattling a pan and stirring with a wooden spoon I’m getting there. We are baking with love, passion and laughter and a great big dollop of patience on the side (that’s me.) I hope I empower you to take responsibility for your health and the health of your loved ones during the colder days because health starts in your heart, mind & kitchen and what better way to do it than have a few little helpers to lick the spoons.