Sunday, 24 June 2012

Three Wise Words of Allergy Advice

On the rare occasions I meet parents of allergic children we often chat and share words of advice with each other.  It's so rare to find parents of multiple allergic children that the need for advice from one in a similar situation is that much more important.

I thought I would share my three golden words of wisdom with you as I do think they have helped us on our journey.

Firstly and most importantly, view the allergies as a positive.  I frown upon those who pity the Wee Man.  I will not allow any pitiful comments about him especially when he can hear them.  Phrases such as "what a shame!", "poor thing", "how do you cope?" are a few of the many comments we get.  If the Wee Man is within ear shot I make light of what they have said and brand them as "crazy".  I am quick to point out that the Wee Man has a full and happy life as well as a very varied diet.  He is by far much more healthier than a lot of his peers.  After all how many children get home cooked meals and treats each and every day?

The allergies are not a limitation on what he can do and achieve.  He is a very bright, fun loving and healthy boy so there is no need for any ones pity.  Thank you very much!  The Wee Man has adopted this positive attitude and does not view his allergies as limiting in anyway.

Secondly, involve your allergic child in his or her "food journey".  From when the Wee Man was a year and half old he has helped me in the kitchen.  I involve him in every aspect of his food.  We often surf the internet together looking for recipes and discussing how we can adapt them to suit his dietary needs.  We have also spent many hours in the free from aisles of all the major supermarkets, reading ingredients together and discussing whether it is suitable.    Doing this will also teach your child what he can and cannot eat.  I've made food fun for him.  Though in all honesty if he had his way he would eat crisps for each and every meal.

And thirdly and most importantly give your child a toy medical kit to play with.  This is especially relevant for a child with multiple allergies.  They will be in and out of hospital so often and be poked and prodded by medical staff, it's a good idea to make them aware of all the procedures that will be done to them.  The Wee Man and I played doctors and nurses a lot when he was younger and we still do.  We have played it so often now my heart sinks when he gets his medical kit out!

My sister bought him a great toy medical kit from Tesco a few years ago.  Unfortunately they no longer stock it, but alongside all the usual stuff the kit also had a blood pressure cuff and an IV.  An allergic child will have their blood pressure taken lots and lots of times and the IV would be useful just in case it is ever required.  We also bought a real stethoscope from ebay to add to his kit.  They are quite cheap at around £2 including postage and packing. They are also a lot of fun!

The Wee Man positively looks forward to his hospital visits and is desperate to ride in an ambulance again.

So basically have a positive attitude, involve your child in their food and play doctors and nurses.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Gingerbread Men Recipe - Free from wheat, gluten, dairy, egg, soya

I've been asked to bake some gingerbread men with the Wee Man's class plus the other reception class, next week. That's sixty kids in total.  So earlier this week, the Wee Man and I had a play in the kitchen and we came up with this very easy recipe for wheat, gluten, dairy, egg and soya free Gingerbread Men.  (Because of the Wee Man's allergies the recipe for school needed to be allergen free.  The risk of cross contamination from ingredients is too scary to think about)
"This one's got a belt , Mum!"
Makes approx. 10 gingerbread men
350g/ 12oz “Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour”
1 ½ tsps “Doves Farm Xanthan Gum”
100g/ 4oz “Pure Sunflower Spread”
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g/ 6oz light soft brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp “Orgran No Egg” whisked with 2 tbsp cold water

1.      Pre-heat oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas Mark 4
2.      In a mixing bowl add the flour, “Pure” spread, ground ginger, bicarbonate of soda and the xanthan gum.  Using finger tips, rub the mixture until it resembles bread crumbs.
3.      Add the sugar, syrup and the “No-Egg” mixture.  Mix until a firm pastry mix is formed.  At first it looks like the mixture won’t combine but keep kneading and it will all come together.
4.      Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick, on a well floured surface. 
5.      Cut out shapes using cutters and transfer onto a greased or non stick baking sheet and bake for 10-13 mins.
6.      Allow the gingerbread men to cool before decorating. The Wee Man decorated his Gingerbread Men with raisins and white icing.  It's amazing what you can do with raisins.   These were thoroughly enjoyed by the Wee Man and we gave some to his teachers to sample too. They  taste very much like "ordinary" gingerbread men.  I'm excited and nervous about beking with all those kids.  I can see myself being completely stressed out but I'm sure I'll have fun (I hope).

Banana Cinnamon Bread - Free from wheat, egg, dairy, soya

Who doesn't love the smell of banana bread baking in their oven?  The smell makes me feel homely and smug.  Smug in the " I made that gorgeous smell" sense. The Wee Man and I have made banana bread a few times now and each time it seems to disappear more quickly than the last.  Maybe it's magic?  ;0)
I've adapted this recipe from a great blog called mywoklife. Go check it out.

Here's what you'll need:

125g Dairy and soya free spread (I use Pure Sunflower spread)
130g soft brown sugar
1tsp vanilla exract
2 tsps of Orgran No Egg whisked with 4 tbsp water
2 ripe bananas masked
50ml Non dairy or non soya milk (I use Oatly oat milk)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g Gluten Free self raising flour ( I use Doves Farm)
1tsp Xanthan Gum 
1tsp cinnamon (or less if you don't want it too cinnamoney)

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C
2/ Cream the dairy and soya free spread, the sugar and the vanilla extract.
3/ Add the Orgran No Egg mixure a bit at a time and mix together.  Add the mashed banana and ensure they are all well combined.
4/ Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk.
5/ Sieve the flour and add the cinnamon and xanthan gum.
6/ Add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the creamed spread and sugar a bit at a time.  Ensure the mixture is well combined.
7/ Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin. 8/ Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 mins.

This gets a big thumbs up from the Wee Man.

Ginger Snap Biscuit Cookies - Free from wheat, gluten, dairy and soya

My favourite, favourite biccy with a cuppa is a good old fashioned ginger snap.  I love the crunch and the sweetness and the gingeriness.  So I thought I would inflict my love of the ginger one on the Wee Man and make him his own version. Of course I had to change it's name from ginger nut to ginger snap as there really is no nut in it and I wouldn't want the Wee Man to think he was eating nuts.  That would be disastrous.

I wonder why they are called ginger nuts if there aren't any nuts in them.  Anyone know?

What you'll need

4oz Gluten free self raising flour ( I use Doves Farm)
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp heaped ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 oz caster sugar
2 oz Dairy free and Soya Free spread ( I used Pure Sunflower spread)
2 oz Golden Syrup

  1. Firstly sift and mix the flour, xanthan gum, ginger and bicarbonate of soda.
  2. Then add the sugar and butter and rub until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Next add the golden syrup and mix until you get a smooth paste.
  4. Using oiled teaspoons (oiling them means the mixture is less likely to stick), spoon teaspoon fulls onto a lined baking sheet.  Be sure to keep them well apart as they do spread.  
  5. Flatten the top of the mounds.
  6. Bake in a preheated 180C/ 350F oven for 10 mins - 15 mins.  For a soft chewy texture bake for 10 mins and for a more crunchy texture bake them for 15 mins.

The Wee Man gave them a big thumbs up and has asked to make more today.

Corn Bread - Free from wheat, egg, dairy, soya, gluten)

Here goes with the first recipe in my Allergy Free Recipe Challenge. The Big Man and I love watching "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network Channel.  Always  dangerous as we tend to drool and raid the biscuit tin, (not the most intelligent thing to do at 10 o'clock in the evening). It was on there I learned about cornbread and saw how easy it was to make since it's yeast free.  So here's my version of allergy free corn bread.

1 cup Gluten Free Plain Flour (Doves Farm)
1 cup fine cornmeal
2/3 cup caster sugar
1tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder (wheat free)
1 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 2 tbsp water
1 cup Oatly Oat Milk (dairy and soya free)
1/3 cup vegetable oil 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum in a bowl
  3. Stir in the oat milk, vegetable oil and the egg mixture. 
  4. Pour the batter into a small greased loaf tin and a muffin tin*
  5. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry. 
* I decided to make little corn bread rolls using the muffin tins and poured the remaining batter into a small loaf tin.  You could just pour all the batter into a large loaf tin.

The Wee Man gave it a bug thumbs up and has happily gone to school today with a cornbread "roll" in his lunch box.   I found the end result to be more of a muffin/ cake texture than a traditional bread texture.  It was more crumbly despite the use of the xanthan gum.  Maybe it is suppose to be more cakey than bready.  But the Wee Man loved it and the recipe is going in my recipe book.

The "rolls" can't really be filled and used as a bread roll as it is so crumbly.  So my quest for the perfect allergy free bread roll continues.

Wraps - Free From Wheat, Dairy, Soya, Egg

Here's a very quick recipe for wraps, of the lunch time sandwich kind.

The original recipe is from the Doves Farm website but I've adapted it a little to add some more nutrition to them and to make it a little quicker and easier. Not that is wasn't so in the first place, but when you have a hungry child demanding his lunch you can't be faffing around with scales.  At least that's what I tell myself when I use my trusty short sighted eyes as a measuring implement. You will note that there are no definite measurements.  It really is all about a slug of this and a shake of that to get the consistency you want.  It's all part of the fun.

What you'll need.
Doves Farm Gluten Free Bread flour or Gluten Free Plain Flour
Oatly Oat Milk
Olive Oil
Powdered Garlic
Vegetable Oil

1/  In a bowl throw in about half a cup of flour.

2/ Glug in some olive oil to the flour, about a tablespoon and add bit of powdered garlic for flavour.

3/ Warm about a cup of oat milk (in the microwave for ease).  It should be on the warm side of luke warm.

4/ Slowly add the milk a bit at a time and whisk.  Keep adding milk until you get a runny consistency, like a crepe batter.

5/ Grease a medium hot frying pan with some vegetable oil.

6/ With a spoon pour in about two spoonfuls of the batter and spread it into a circle as you would a crepe.

7/ Cook for about two minutes on each side.  The wrap should start to puff up, but it's not essential that it does.

8/ Fill with your favourite filling, roll and enjoy. Note the two spoonfuls of batter make a child size wrap.  Adding more batter will make a larger wrap.  Bit obvious but I just thought I should mention it.

The Wee Man loves these and we always play about with the fillings.  His favourite is tinned sardines.  Have I ever mentioned he's a fish freak?

Welsh Cakes - Free From Wheat, Dairy, Egg, Soya

I'm all for trying new recipes with an allergy free twist to them as you know.  Every time I watch a cookery show or read a recipe I always think "How can I make this for the Wee Man?".  Well last night I was watching the Hairy Bikers show and they were making Welsh cakes.  I thought they looked delicious and I could definitely make a Wee Man version. So this afternoon the Wee Man and I decided to try our hand at making Welsh cakes.  I found a recipe on the BBC recipe website and adapted it to suit the Wee Man.
What you'll need
  • 225g/8oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour, sieved 110g/4oz Pure Sunflower Spread
  • Orgran No Egg
  • handful of raisins
  • Oatly oat milk, if needed
  • 85g/3oz caster sugar
  • extra Pure, for the pan 
    Rub the flour and Pure together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
    Add two tablespoons of water to one teaspoon of No Egg and whisk with a fork until the mixture is frothy.
    Add the No Egg mixture, the sugar and the raisins to the flour and Pure mixture and mix together until a dough is formed.  If the dough is not forming, use some oat milk to moisten the mixture. 
    Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 5mm/ 1/4inch thickness.  
    Using a cookie cutter cut out some rounds.  That's the Wee Man's favourite job. 
    Rub a heavy iron griddle or heavy bottomed frying pan with some Pure and put on a low/ medium heat.  When the griddle is hot put the cakes on and let each side cook for two to three minutes, turning only once.  
    Each side should be golden brown.
    Remove from pan and dust with some caster sugar.
    Warm Welsh cakes with a cup of warm oat milk brought a huge grin to the Wee Man's face.  Another recipe that will go into my recipe book.