Coming Soon(ish): the Tiny Pioneer Cookbook!

Coming Soon(ish): the Tiny Pioneer Cookbook!

Regular readers will know that I place huge importance on the importance of gut health when it comes to maintaining good physical and mental health. When I receive emails or phone calls from newly diagnosed interstitial cystitis sufferers, I almost always enquire about their digestion and make recommendations that they try to adopt some dietary changes as part of their quest for improved bladder health.

I have blogged about such matters extensively in the past, including in these posts:

Why I Don’t Rate the IC Diet

Tiny Tips for Dietary Approaches to Chronic Health Issues

Food Intolerance Testing for Chronic Health Issues

Are Interstitial Cystitis and Leaky Gut Connected?

Crohn’s and Colitis: What I Wish Your Doctor Would Tell You

One of the questions that I am asked most often when I recommend that people eliminate gluten, dairy, confectionary items and alcohol is, “But what can I eat?” This is usually followed up immediately with, “What do you eat?” These questions are so common that my mum actually gives her patients a week by week diet sheet if she requires them to make changes to their eating habits, because otherwise people really struggle to do it.

I am under no illusions that making dietary changes is really hard. It is hard logistically: what do you eat when you can’t eat anything familiar? Where do you shop? What do you buy? How do you cook it? It is hard emotionally: isn’t it sad living like that? How long will I need to do it for? Will I ever be able to go back to normal? (I wrote about the emotional impact of making dietary changes in my two part blog post Dietary Changes and the Five Stages of Grief.) It is hard in that it requires discipline: how do you not eat cake when you go to a café? How can you be bothered to cook every day after work? 

To answer questions like these and to help people out as they embark on free-from journeys, I have spent the last 18 months working on a cookbook! The reason that I am specifically announcing this now is because I have ground to a bit of a halt with it. By announcing it publically, I am ensuring that it will get finished and not just languish in the Documents section of my computer, forever a first draft!

I started it in around February 2020 and was making great strides with it until the coronavirus drama began. When that happened, I broke off writing the cookbook to write a coronavirus blog, which took me several hours to research and put together. I kind of lost my flow after that and it was a while before I started again. Just as I got going and was getting into the swing of it again, I had all the drama with our VAT registration and the import licence issues for Ancestral Supplements. I had another decent flurry of writing after that and felt like I had finished a solid first draft. The idea of editing my work seemed overwhelming though, so I just didn’t do it for ages! Now I have edited most of it, but I also keep thinking of extra bits to put in, which will themselves need editing!

Anyway, the point is, I need to make sure everyone knows it is happening, or else it is likely to rumble on for years! I’m not sure whether it is going to be an e-book or a real book. I’d like it to be a real book, but I don’t know what the printing costs will be like for that, so we will have to see. I’m a bit intimidated about putting pictures in it too. That’s going to be another thing I procrastinate over! It will be quite costly to get each dish photographed (I have been strongly advised by more than one expert not to attempt to take photos myself!) and it will also be expensive to buy all the food. I’m worried about the wastage too. Some of the food won’t be edible after it has been photographed and I don’t like the idea of having to throw it away, entirely uneaten. And of course I will have to cook everything I ever eat all in one or two days, so even if it is all still edible at the end, there will almost certainly still be some wastage. That bothers me more than the expense really.

To help me to overcome the editing and photographing and publishing hurdles, I wanted to announce it! Now I won’t be able to back out, will I?!

I keep calling it a cookbook, but to be honest it’s more of an anti-cookbook. It’s really a book for people who aren’t that keen on cooking, but who find themselves needing to eliminate certain foods and are thus thrust into the kitchen. Not every recipe will be free from every allergen, but each recipe is free from some allergens. There should be something in it to cater for the gluten-free, the dairy-free, the grain-free, the soy-free, the egg-free, the nut-free and many more types of free! Also, there will be tips about where to shop, what to buy, how you can still enjoy treats, and various ways to make your culinary life as easy as possible. It isn’t an ‘IC-friendly’ book – not every recipe is going to be okay for every IC sufferer – but there should be quite a few that meet the criteria and quite a few more that can be adapted.

What do you lot think? Do you think it should be a printed book or an e-book? Do you think it should have lots of pictures, or just a few? Do you think it’s a good idea or a terrible idea?! If it’s printed, do you prefer paperback or hardback? If you have any strong opinions about it, feel free to email me and let me know!

It won’t be ready for ages yet, because I will need to save up a bit before I can get the photographs done, then I might need to save up again before I can get it printed. I imagine laying it out in book format takes a while as well. So in the meantime, to give you a sneak peek at what you’ll be getting if you buy a copy, here is one of the recipes from in it. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Chicken Casserole

Chicken casserole is wonderfully simple to make. Unlike many casseroles that use flours or starches to thicken the gravy, I use only water in mine. I also don’t mess about precooking the chicken – I have no idea why people feel this is necessary as my chicken always cooks perfectly well in the oven! The combinations of vegetables and the cooking times are very forgiving, and once it is in the oven, it needs very little attention. It also stays warm for quite a long time after cooking, so it’s the perfect thing to make ahead of time if you have a busy evening later on and won’t have time to cook then. This makes three or four servings, so there will be enough to freeze and use as microwave meals on other days. Leftovers may also be stored in the fridge for at least a couple of days. I sometimes put mushrooms in if I have enough spare, but I often make it without mushrooms too.

I would serve this alone as an easy microwave lunch or with sweet potato circles as an evening meal. If I was very hungry, I might boil some cauliflower or broccoli to eat with it in an evening too.

You will need:

  • Two large, organic chicken breasts
  • Two large carrots
  • Two parsnips or a small swede
  • Frozen diced onion/shallots, measured by eye, or one large onion, peeled and cut into rough chunks, or three large echalion shallots, peeled and cut into rough chunks
  • Frozen broad beans OR frozen sliced green beans (both work nicely)
  • Half a dozen large mushrooms (optional) peeled and snapped into chunks
  • A gluten-free chicken stock cube if you are able to tolerate the ingredients (optional)
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • About 1 litre of cold water
  • A large oven-safe dish with lid – oven-safe glass dishes, ceramic dishes, or enamel roasting tins with lids are all fine.


  • Use scissors to cut your chicken breasts into bitesize pieces, letting the pieces fall directly into the oven dish.
  • Peel your carrots and cut them into large bitesize chunks – I make them about an inch and a half long and then cut them lengthways. Add to the dish.
  • Peel your parsnips or swede and cut them into large bitesize chunks (a bit smaller than the carrots). Add to the dish.
  • Add the onion or shallots to the dish.
  • Add the beans to the dish. Measure by eye however much you want in there – I like to work in layers, making sure that each layer of vegetables covers the layer beneath.
  • If you are using mushrooms, peel these and cut them into quarters. Add these to the dish.
  • If you are using a gluten-free stock cube, crumble this up into the dish.
  • Add sea salt and white pepper.
  • Add approximately 1 litre of cold water. You want the water to come just below the level of the vegetables. The top ones should be poking out of the top of the water – you don’t want them all completely submerged. Make sure you have at least a couple of inches of free space at the top of the oven dish so that nothing will leak out during cooking and you can remove the dish from the oven safely later on.
  • Give everything a stir to mix it up and ensure all the chicken does not stick to the bottom of the dish during cooking. Put the lid on the dish.
  • Put the dish into the oven and turn to 150 degrees C. I use a fan oven and I don’t bother to preheat it. Cook for around 45 minutes, then carefully remove the dish from the oven and give everything a stir.
  • Return to the oven and cook for approximately 30-45 more minutes. (This is very approximate. The casserole is ready whenever the vegetables are soft and the chicken is white all the way through. This may be as soon as 15 minutes after returning the food to the oven, if you are in a rush. However, longer cooking allows more time for the flavours to develop, so I think another 30-45 minutes is suitable. If you forget the casserole and leave it cooking for another hour, it will still be fine. As I said, it’s a very forgiving meal, so it’s perfect for people who are new to cooking!)
  • Remove the dish from the oven carefully. If you serve immediately, be extremely careful when removing the lid, as lots of steam will escape. I am generally making this ahead of time for later, so I usually just turn off the oven, leave the dish inside and only remove it when I am ready to serve.

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