Afternoon Tea Cookbook Review & Giveaway from Strands of my Life

Afternoon Tea Purchase Page

Click the photo if you would like to purchase Suzanne’s wonderful e-book, Afternoon Tea. It will redirect you to her page where you can purchase ii!

I would like to start off by saying a huge thank you to Suzanne of Strands of my Life for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing her e-book. She sent me a review copy which was incredibly sweet and generous of her. She has kindly offered up a copy to one of my lucky readers so make sure you stay tuned for the giveaway details. I’m not an affiliate, I just received a free copy. Us bloggers always have disclose these things. Rules of the interwebs.

Before we get to the giveaway I would like to tell you a little bit about Suzanne. She blogs at Strands of my Life. Suzanne is a talented cook, and an absolute marvel with a camera. I am always in awe of her photos on the site. Suzanne lives in New Zealand with her husband and son.

I met Suzanne through blogging and we immediately hit it off. She’s just a likable lady. Incredibly supportive of other bloggers, as well a huge inspiration to many of us.

Chocolate Marshmallow Slice by Strands of my Life | Afternoon Tea E-book

Suzanne’s photo of her Chocolate Marshmallow Slice, used with her permission!

I’m so proud of Suzanne for venturing into the e-book world. I asked her what inspired  her to write one and she told me;

“I am already a published author so the idea of creating a cookbook was appealing. I felt there was a lack of quality cookbooks with good photos of recipes for serious food intolerances. My book covers grain, gluten, dairy, nut and refined sugar-free recipes.”

Her book is  called Afternoon Tea and features dishes that will blow your mind. The book includes chapters on Slices, Tarts, Cakes, Muffins, Cookies, and one called Other which includes Marshmallows, Truffles, Loaves, and Macaroons. She uses some base recipes throughout the book so those are provided for you, things like Caramel, Lemon Curd, Sweet Pastry, Chocolate Banana Frosting, Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Avocado Frosting and Meringue. She also provides you with a list of ingredients to have on hand that she uses regularly in her own kitchen.

Suzanne’s site uses a lot of healthy ingredients in her recipes so I asked her to tell us a little bit about her journey into healthy living and eating. Here’s what Suzanne told me;

“I was born and raised on a farm and we ate ‘real’ food with very little which was processed. I have continued to eat this way all my life and raised my son this way as well. Our diet includes a minimum of processed food, and I believe that if you don’t recognise where the food or ingredient comes from, you should not buy or eat it.”

Suzanne was blogging dishes her family and herself were eating. She had started to have some health issues and turned to doctors for help when the problems persisted. Fructose malabsorption was the diagnosis. I asked Suzanne to give us a basic understanding of what fructose malabsorption is.  Here’s what she had to say;

“Fructose is only one of the FODMAPs. Fructose should be absorbed through the lining of the small intestine, but when an individual has difficulty doing this, the fructose continues on down to the large intestine where it is treated as a foreign substance which makes the bacteria there to go to town. This results in bloating, diarrhea or constipation, flatulence and stomach pain as a result of muscle spasms. Intolerance to any or all of the FODMAPs will result in the same symptoms.”

Having IBS myself I know what FODMAPs is. I figured many of you do not, so I asked Suzanne to explain it so people know what it is. Here’s her answer;

“FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols). 

Fermentable: The process through which gut bacteria break down undigested carbohydrate to produce gases (hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide). 

Oligo-saccharides: Fructo-oligosaccarides (FOS) found in wheat, rye, onions and garlic. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) found in legumes/pulses.

Disaccharides: Lactose found in milk, soft cheese, yoghurts etc.

Mono-saccharide:  Fructose (in excess of glucose) found in honey, many fruits and vegetables, high fructose corn syrups etc.

Polyols: Sugar polyols (eg. sorbitol, mannitol) found in some fruit and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners.

Anyone with irritable bowel syndrome has to try the FODMAP elimination diet since FODMAPs are irritants of IBS. You can be tested for 2 of the 5 FODMAPs – fructose and lactose though a hydrogen test. But intolerance to the Oligo-saccharides and polyols can only be discovered through an elimination diet. I had the hydrogen test which showed I absorbed fructose badly but that I was not lactose intolerant. I am currently on the re-introduction stage of the elimination diet to see if I am intolerant to the others.”

I asked Suzanne how her new lifestyle has impacted her health, this is what Suzanne had to say;

“Since starting the FODMAP elimination diet, I have found a new lease on life. I didn’t know that one could eat and not feel discomfort and often pain. Now, I know how the rest of the world lives, and it feels like magic. I have recently made some life choices which didn’t have to take into account my digestive system. It feels amazing to not be conditioned by my intestines and to make choices I could never have made before. I repeat – if you have any of the above symptoms or have been diagnosed with IBS, get yourselves tested. I have been to a string of doctors throughout my life and not one mentioned this possibility. I had to discover it myself online and book the test myself.”

I wanted to know whether Suzanne has any plans for a future e-book, here is her response;

“My current cookbook, Afternoon Tea, was created before I found out I had fructose intolerance and possibly intolerances to the other FODMAPs (I am still testing for these as explained above.) The recipes in the book are suitable for many food intolerances but not for fructose malabsorption because of the inclusion of honey which is high in fructose. I have now started on a new food journey, which I am sure will result in a low FODMAP cookbook. But first, I have to learn how to create inventive, delicious recipes with these new limitations. Watch this space.”

Custard Fruit Tart by Strands of my Life | Afternoon Tea E-book

Suzanne’s photo of her Custard Fruit Tart, used with her permission!

Suzanne is proof you can live with diet restrictions and live well. You do not have to let it curb your love of baking and cooking. I applaud Suzanne for going the distance to find out more about her health. She became her own advocate and sometimes with these types of food sensitivity issues that’s exactly what you have to do to get answers and find a way to feel better. She kept at it until she found the answers and then put a plan of action into place. She’s now feeling so much better and I’m so happy she has taken this struggle and made it a positive experience where she can help others.

Strawberry, Coconut Macaroons by Strands of my Life | Afternoon Tea E-book

Suzanne’s photo of her Strawberry, Coconut Macaroons, used with her permission!

The photos of Suzanne’s featured on the page today are all recipes I tried from her cookbook. I can tell you they are all outstanding. My personal favourite is the macaroons pictured above. They were incredible.

What I learned from doing multiple recipes from Suzanne’s book is her recipes are easy to follow. They work well and are easily understandable. This is a great book for anyone looking to bake. The recipes are well written, she provides an understanding of all base recipes and steps. She provides photos so you know what the food should look like. And the recipes are trust-worthy, they work when you make them. That speaks volumes to me.

Suzanne was generous with us today and is offering to give away 1 copy of her book to 1 lucky reader. I’m going to keep this simple today.

To enter just leave a comment telling us which of the 3 recipes pictured here today that you would make first. Shout it out in the comments section for us. (open to everyone!)

Giveaway will close Monday May 20 at midnight. Winner has 72 hours to respond to email, or a new winner will be drawn. 

Thanks to Suzanne for the free copy to review. And for providing this lovely giveaway to my readers.

For those who want to buy the book please stop by Suzanne’s site to purchase it. I think it’s a wonderfully well written book and worth the investment. Her book has everything you need to entertain with wonderful recipes. Go buy a copy today!!!

Make sure you stop by Suzanne’s site, Strands of my Life. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Just a little FYI, many of you are probably wondering if I have the same issues as Suzanne so I thought I should explain briefly what exactly my own food issues are.

As of you may know I’ve had IBS for over 19 years, likely my whole life, but only diagnosed after my daughter was born. I’ve done the FODMAPs elimination diet about 4 times now. I find things change over time and things I wasn’t previously sensitive to I now am. I’d like to do another one in the summer to see if other issues have crept up on me. I have problems with Disaccharides. I’ve been lactose intolerant likely my whole life, but diagnosed for more years than I care to admit. It’s a rough go but there’s stuff that helps on the market for lactose issues. I can tolerate small amounts but if I combine multiple dishes containing lactose I’m doomed for issues.

I also have issues with Oligo-saccharides, things like wheat. I’m allergic to wheat and gluten sensitive. I also have trouble with legumes.

I do not have trouble with fructose and would like to thank Suzanne for suggesting I get tested. It always helps to know what you’re up against so testing is always a good preventative measure when you have health issues.

I’ve been checked for celiac twice now as well and happy to say that’s not an issue either.

I had a health scare last fall and they thought I had diverticulitis, after my specialist tested me upon my return home I’m happy to report I do not have diverticulitis.

So basically I have IBS, with gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance and an allergy to whole what.  Which people seem  to have trouble understanding the wheat issue. Some folks seem to think I just don’t like wheat, which is completely false. I used to love it and ate whole wheat bread all the time. I had a family member fib about whole wheat flour being in something over the holidays and I ended up having a reaction on Christmas. I broke out in hives on Christmas Eve, then ended up with wicked tummy issues on Christmas Day. It’s been discussed with my hubs and kids,  and we will no longer be eating there. I can’t have someone be so reckless with my well-being, especially on special occasions like Christmas. So disappointing that someone would play so fast and loose with any person’s health.

What I can tell people is when you meet people with food intolerance don’t judge them. Do not assume things. And never, ever feed them something they’ve asked you not to. We are not all the same. I have a family member who likes to wax on about her friend who has “the same thing as me” and she started eating fiber and it rocked her world. While that’s great for her friend if I ate more wheat I’d land myself in the hospital. It’s great to try to help but keep in mind everyone is different and reacts to different stimulus, whether it’s food, stress, exercise. No two tummy issues are the same. Don’t try to diagnosis or cure others. That’s how I got into trouble on my trip of doom. I started listening to people who said this or that would cure me. It did not cure me, it gave me a fast-pass ticket to the hospital. Know your own body, listen to it and trust it. That’s the key to finding a way to live with food issues without it ruining your life.

I think Suzanne has it right. Do your own research, get curious and do some digging. Don’t take no as an answer from your doctor. Get to know your own body and find out what makes it tick. I’m so proud of her for doing that. And for writing such an amazing book. I can’t wait to see more from her.

Disclosure policy: I received a copy of Suzanne’s for free to review. I am not an affiliate so I do not make any money on your purchases. I just think it’s a great book and worth adding to your cookbook collection.

Toodles and smoochies! xx


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  1. Rita Reedy says

    Strawberry Coconut Macaroons sound fabulous! I know they are first on my list of things to try! Thanks for the opportunity to win <3

    • Kim Beaulieu says

      It really is. She really embraced her struggles and made it work for her. She’s such an inspiration. I just love this book.

  2. kesha says

    I would make the chocolate marshmallow slice! It looks amazing! I would love this cookbook due to my sensitivies to food. Thank you for the giveaway!

  3. says

    Terrific post! I read Suzanne’s blog all the time, and love her creativity in developing recipes. Although I’m awfully sorry she has her food intolerance, if there’s anyone who can figure out how to eat well while avoiding food no-nos, she’s the person. And Kim, that really stinks that a family member, knowing your issues, would lie about food like that. That’s just disgusting and wrong. Anyway, wonderful post – thanks.

    • Kim Beaulieu says

      She is such an inspiration. And she takes such beautiful photos.

      I know John, I was so shocked when I got the hives. I mean I asked 3 times, who lies about stuff like that. It was someone close too so equally shocking. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that people want everyone to eat like them, and don’t always understand those of us who can’t. I’m way more careful now. I just can’t risk getting sick.

      Hope you’ve been well. I haven’t visited since the vacation started. So happy to be home and back to work. Till I zip off again this weekend. lol

  4. says

    Thanks so much for giving me and my book this amazing review. You are such a kind person. I am very glad you don’t have fructose intolerance because you already have enough to deal with. I can’t believe a relative did that. I would ban them from my nutritional life forever. Beans and wheat are my enemies as well. At least you and I know what does and doesn’t affect us so it is now all up to us to stay healthy. Good luck with it all!

    • Kim Beaulieu says

      You are so welcome Suzanne. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I whipped up a few recipes to take with us on the trip. Your recipes are amazing, and they work really well.

      I was shocked but not all that surprised. Some people just don’t get food issues. Or personal boundaries apparently.

      I look forward to trying more of your recipes. I learned some interesting things about my meds while away and need to make some changes asap.

  5. Shannon S says

    The chocolate marshmallow slices look heavenly delicious! The book sounds and looks like a book I would love to share the delicious food I’d learn how to make with family & friends.

  6. April says

    The strawberry macaroons look mouth-watering and I am busy eye-balling the fresh strawberries sitting in the fridge. Thank you Suzanne and Kim for sharing with all of us.

  7. Emily Baker says

    anything with CHOCOLATE. The chocolate marshmallow slices would be great for my glamping weekend. Thanks

  8. says

    I think the fruit tarts look lovely! This book is exactly what I need. I struggle with IBS issues but have not yet taken certain foods out of my diet. Just last week my doctor reminded me that it would be a good idea but i hate to think of eliminating so many of the treats I love to cook. This book might provide me new options. Thanks! Off to have an afternoon cup of tea now.

    • Kim Beaulieu says

      I was told my IBS was the stomach flu for about a year. Doctors are not always right. Let us know what they say and how your mom is. xx

  9. Suz says

    I will definitely be making the custard fruit tart! I will also be sending the link to my daughter to share with a co-worker

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