Hello everyone, my name is Clair Willcocks, I am 27 years old and I am Galen Medical Nutrition’s new PKU blogger. I am an adult with PKU and I was diagnosed with Classical PKU 8 days after birth. I am on 5 exchanges of protein a day and currently taking the PKU EASY Microtabs substitute 6 times a day.
So Autumn is finally here with Winter/Christmas swiftly following along! Naturally, being a redhead, it’s easy to say that Autumn is one my favourite seasons. There’s no more sunburn to worry about but just a whole load of brown leaves, crisp cold mornings, warm boots, big scarves and comfortable jumpers! I love it all and on a chilly day when it’s raining outside, there is nothing better than making a nice hot meal or snack to warm you up, so here are some of my favourite exchange free recipes that I use!
Please note, I haven’t invented these from scratch, I am certainly no MasterChef and all measurements and timings can be adjusted to suit your kitchen/preferences! I just hope to provide the basic blueprints that I’ve found work for me every time, as I find once I’ve got the core recipe down, I can then experiment with it in more exciting ways.
Please also see below the gadgets, equipment, and storage units that I have found useful, with Black Friday/Christmas just coming round the corner now is the best time to get them!
Recommended equipment/gadgets/storage units
Soup is a classic PKU meal, both filling and warm, it also has the benefit of usually being completely free in protein. However, homemade soup can also sometimes be a hassle, with all the peeling and chopping of veg, boiling it all in a big pan for hours and then there’s the mess of having to wizz it with a hand mixer and hope all the veg has cooked through.
I am going to introduce an appliance that has changed my life, the Morphy Richards Soup Maker. This great gadget not only mixes but also cooks the soup for you in less than 20 minutes, so by the end you always have hot fresh soup! There are two sizes available on Amazon, the compact 1L or the standard 1.6L. This is also a great one to experiment with, as you can use all different kinds of vegetables, spices, and flavours.
Prep Time – 10 mins (if chopping veg yourself). Cooking time – 20 mins
Honestly stick to those quantities and you’ll have lovely soup every time. You can use any veg you like and even better, in most supermarkets now, you can find pre-chopped veg in bags, specifically ready to make into soup, so no chopping is required at all. The true secret of good soup is the tablespoons of oil. That’s what makes the soup bind into a creamy texture rather than just watery veg broth.
You can then either freeze it or use the liquid storage containers and put that in your fridge, ready for your next meal!
You may have heard of shepherd’s pie or cottage pie but a great PKU friendly variation of this, introduced to me by my in-laws, is the Forgers Pie. It doesn’t get more winter comfort food than this meal. The topping usually is mashed potato but for those who are on a lower amount of exchanges in the day, I’ve discovered sweet potato makes a great alternative, with a gravy base of mushrooms and other veg, it’s just so delicious.
Prep Time – 15 minutes. Cooking time – 45 minutes
Another nice easy one, even though we may be nowhere near Shrove Tuesday, it’s the perfect warm snack or breakfast meal that is so surprisingly filling, it should not be forgotten about!
Basic recipe - Crepe style
Prep Time – 5 minutes (if that!) Cooking time – 5 minutes
You can put the mix into the same style container as the soup, and put into the fridge – this saves a lot of mess making future pancakes! When you pour it out, start with a small circle and pour the mix around the edge of the circle, making it bigger and bigger until you reach you’re desired size.
Hot Cross Buns
Another Easter classic but I swear I’m not going crazy! With cinnamon, dried fruit and putting them in a toaster to then add melting butter on top, I feel this should also be included in the autumn favourites. This recipe comes directly from the Fate recipe.
Ingredients - Buns
Ingredients – Sugar Glaze
Recipe – Glaze
Important side note – make sure you have extra flour left over to use on your hands!
Prep Time – 15 minutes. Cooking time (including time to rise) – 45 minutes
And those are my top four Autumn recipes! As said before, you can use any veg, spices or fruit you prefer, if you want carrot and coriander soup, a pie with more mushrooms or to add ‘normal’ yoghurt to pancakes give them more exchanges, then please give it a go!
Cooking has been an interesting journey for me, as before, I found cooking and baking really hard. Especially when it comes to PKU cooking, as not only can it be very unpredictable, it can feel like a lot of work for the end result to then not really turn into what it’s supposed to be.
I think the biggest thing that’s helped me, is to find recipes that use things I already have in my kitchen cupboards, like my favourite veg, dried fruit or spices, so it doesn’t feel like I’m going out of my way to get special things or spending huge amounts of money if it does go wrong. It’s also about finding the time to do it, even though the baking may only take half an hour to an hour, it is lot of reading, planning, and organising. So, if I am baking, I make sure to have my whole morning clear to do nothing but baking and to give myself the time I need to work everything out.
Also, it’s about not taking it too seriously, having some fun with it and remembering baking isn’t life or death and sometimes it will just go wrong! However, if it goes wrong, that is sometimes the best way to learn how to get it right next time or you discover something completely new! This is what happened with my hot cross buns when I was making them for this blog, not only did I forget to buy Caster sugar and I also forgot to have left over flour, so they went big and flat, making them more into hot cross cookies than buns but either way they were still just as delicious!
I don’t try to compare my cooking with anyone else because even though 9 times out of 10 my cooking does look pretty messy; the flavour and taste is always there. I’ve realised it is so important to give baking and cooking a go, as even though it can feel overwhelming sometimes, there are so many benefits to it. As a lot of recipes are exchange free, it keeps me well fed without using my precious exchanges, it provides different foods which I can’t buy in the supermarket or get on prescription, so it gives me more variation in my diet that I enjoy and really that’s what PKU baking is all about!
Follow me on Instagram @ginger_pku_goddess where I already have shared some of these recipes and I will keep sharing more food creations as I go, and if you have any questions, please direct message me or talk to me on Twitter where you can find me @Clairbear42.
Date of preparation: November 2021