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The skin you're in... and dairy-free chocolate mousse


Avocados. Photo: Deposit Photos.

Avocados. Photo: Deposit Photos.

Avocados. Photo: Deposit Photos.

I've always had low tolerance for people with intolerances. Not, I hasten to add, people with actual bona fide allergies. I'm really talking about the malingerers. The people who use an affected intolerance as a way of being cosseted by waiting staff and getting preferential treatment.

Himself is actually the perfect example of this kind of fakery. When I first met him, he told me that he was allergic to shellfish and fish. I accepted this information at face value - after all, why would one lie about something so dull? It's hardly a salacious anecdote. Then I began to notice that he would accept fish and shellfish when they were prepared by his mother. How convenient that the allergy could be demoted so swiftly when the culinary offering was prepared by her.

I don't think this selective rejection of shellfish was a trust issue. He didn't deem his mother's dishes any safer than a restaurant's seafood. I reckon he just didn't have the nerve to pull an affected allergy in front of his mother - she just wouldn't buy it. She has a highly tuned bullshit detector.

She has, what I believe to be a healthy contempt for food issues. I am fully in agreement with her. I think she goes one better than me in that I suspect she even feels derisive towards things like low-fat dairy, believing them to be synthetic, and, I sense that she regards their consumption to be verging on contemptuousness towards proper food.

In the last few months, I have had an internal battle waging which threatens to undo every snarky comment and self-righteous tirade I have ever embarked on against those I have dismissed as foodie fakers. I have been harbouring a little secret that flies in the face of everything I thought I believed in. It is hard for me to say this, without launching into a spiral of self-loathing, but I am giving up dairy.

I would like to swiftly add at this point that this is not some vanity project to garner extra attention from the Hot Waiter at Super Miss Sue. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. It's something that alters a very fundamental part of my identity and, as such, I have given it due consideration.

It all started a few months ago when I essentially developed adult acne. I was outraged by the injustice of this. It's not as if I had got off lightly during my teenage years, and this adult-onset affliction was the acne I had escaped as a teen, catching up with me now. Oh, no. I had spots all through my teens and on into my 20s. The only time my skin ever really improved was when I was pregnant with Yer Man.

It had never really occurred to me to do anything about this, as I had always assumed that the skin you had was just part of the face cards you were dealt. However, when I started moaning aloud about my skin, it turned out loads of people I know were actively seeking remedies for their skin woes. As far as I was concerned, half of these people barely knew what a spot was, and if they were getting penicillin prescriptions, then I wanted one too.

Typically though, the doctor I ended up with wasn't into fast fixes. She is a disciple of the heal-yourself-from-within mode of medicine. Very annoying. When she analysed my diet and discovered my avid devotion to cheese and butter, she immediately advised I give up dairy to observe whether this would have a positive impact on my skin. When I told her I have a thing against people with food things, she - quite rightly, I suppose - looked less than impressed.

Chocolate Mousse for Intolerant People with Dairy Intolerances

This recipe uses fresh ginger - a good trick with ginger is to peel it and cut it into small chunks and freeze them. These frozen chunks can be grated straight from the freezer and they are easier to grate than fresh ginger. Serves 5.

You will need:

1½ avocados, peeled and stones removed

1 banana, peeled

4 tablespoons cocoa powder or cacao powder

4 tablespoons almond butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons almond milk

Zest of 1 orange

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

200g (7oz) fresh berries, to serve

Put the peeled and stoned avocados, the peeled banana, the cocoa powder or cacao powder, whichever you are using, the almond butter and the maple syrup into a food processor and blend until smooth. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl, then add the almond milk, the orange zest and the grated fresh ginger and blend again until the mixture is completely smooth and well combined.

Spoon the mixture into five small glasses or Champagne flutes and top with fresh berries to serve.

Sunday Independent