“Help! We have Multiple Food Allergies!” A 4 Point Survival Plan for the Early Days.

Discovering that you or a family member has multiple allergies can seem like an overwhelming thing to deal with.  These are the four things I wish I had known in the early days of our multiple allergy journey.

  1.  Don’t panic!  This is good news.  No, really.  You now know what has been causing the symptoms so it’s an opportunity.  Allergy Big was very ill for the first three years of his life.  Discovering his food allergies meant that he was able to recover and subsequently thrive.Two young boys are on a beach. They are facing away from the camera and are a bit over dressed.
  2. Don’t worry about a variety of meals. Lots of us have this idea, and social media fuels this, that we should all be able to produce a wide variety of nutritional meals inspired by global cuisine.  We are so lucky to live in this time of supermarkets with so many products.  However, this is a recent innovation.  If you read books like the Little House on the Prarie series, then one of the thing that stands out is how bland and repetitive their meals are. The treat foods are described so rapturously because they were so unusual. In fact, right now many people will be eating pretty dull meals to sustain themselves.  So don’t feel guilty about a lack of variety.  I would aim for a plan for three days of meals to start off with, that you can rotate.  If you can access a dietitian then they will be able to help you put this plan together.food-salad-restaurant-person.jpg
  3. You might have to change your views on food shopping.  Lots of people seem to have favourite shops that they like to buy the bulk of their food from.  I find this just doesn’t work for us.  I go to a different supermarket each week; I use Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and The Co-Operative Society.  I also use an online supermarket (Ocado), a wholesaler (Suma), local health food stores, and online shopping sites (Ethical Superstore, Goodness Direct, Veggie Stuff, and Holland At Home).  Also, don’t dismiss the bargain stores.  Lidl and Aldi stock more products that we can eat than Waitrose do.  I still hope to repeat the day I found Kinnerton Free From chocolate at a very low price in Home Bargains!  Shopping will, especially in the early days, take up quite a bit of time as you will need to check every ingredient list on every product.pexels-photo-264636.jpeg
  4. Get organised.  In the early days, there is going to be a lot to learn and keep track of.  You might need to keep a food diary that tracks symptoms with foods eaten.  You might need different shopping lists for each store on the go.  You might need to keep track of appointments with multiple, medical consultants.  Next week, I’ll write a more detailed blog post about how I organise our information.pexels-photo-768472.jpeg

Finally, thanks to reader Janel, who commented on the blog’s About page while we were on blog hiatus and inspired this post.  I decided to do a series of posts for people in the early days of diagnosis so that information will always be available if someone needs it.

It would be great if readers could share their ideas for dealing with those early days in the comments.

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“Let’s Pretend It’s Summer” Tomato & Kimchi Soup

Please note that this post contains Amazon Affiliate links to help me pay for the costs of running this blog. Thank you.
I am still using my soup maker daily (Tefal BL841140 Easy Soup and Smoothie Maker, Stainless Steel, White). Recently, I felt like a blast of summer and spice to break the January gloom. This recipe really hit the spot, and it includes kimchi for its probiotics, and spicy and sour flavour.
Ingredients
2 shallots
1 can of tomatoes in tomato juice
250g of summery vegetables (I used courgette, aubergine and pepper)
1 Knorr Vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice
3 small potatoes, washed but with skin on
1 tbsp kimchi (Biona Organic Kimchi 350g (Pack of 6))

1. Chop all the vegetables to roughly the same size.

2. Put all the ingredients in your soup maker.

3. Add water up to the minimum liquid level

4. Choose the blended soup option.

5. Get on with something else.

6. Come back to a soup that has a winter-beating thick texture with a bright taste of summer!

7. Garnish with a little extra kimchi, if you are a fan.

The best thing about winter! Featuring Schlagfix vegan cream

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The second best thing about winter is a walk in the crisp, countryside air.  The best thing about winter is the hot chocolate you can justify drinking after the walk.  Unfortunately, the Allergy Brothers had never been able to have an enormous hot chocolate covered in cream and marshmallows, because we have never found a whipped cream that they could eat.  Soyatoo sold soya-based creams that could be whipped (Soya Topping Cream – 300ml) or came in pressurised containers(SOYATOO – SOYA SOYA CREAM SPRAY), but these were no good for the Allergy Brothers.

We were very excited to discover that Schlagfix sell a “Universelle Schlagcreme” that the boys could potentially eat.  This product can be used for whipping, cooking and baking.   If I am honest, I found the name very funny too because I am immature.  Anyway, here are the Ingredients:

Water, Palm kernel oil (fully hydrogenated) 15%, maltodextrin; glucose syrup; stabilizer: starch, E435, E331, E464, E460, E466, E339; emulsifiers: E4,81, E471, E475; salt, flavour.

Allergy Little enjoyed helping whip the cream, although, as you can see, he doesn’t like the noise of the beaters.  It turns out that you can get this cream in a pressurised container (Schlagfix Vegan Squirty Cream) too so that would save some work.20171228_162729

If we are honest, Allergy Little and I weren’t that impressed.  It turns out that something that is made out of oils and E numbers tastes like…  well, oily chemicals.  Who knew?!  But this product has its uses.  I am sure if you flavoured the cream then it would be much better.  I can imagine that we will use this cream when we need to make an Allergy Brother-friendly version of a specific recipe.

We used regular marshmallows, but you can get vegan mini pink and white marshmallows.

Weekend Project – Feed the birds

We like to make our own bird feeders so that there are no Allergy Brother allergens lurking in them when the boys handle them.

Supplies

250g Suet or lard (you can get vegetable suet, if you avoid animal products)

250g Berries, nuts, dried fruit, oats, cheese, birdseed (choose the things that you are not allergic to)

Garden twine

Yoghurt pots or small plant pots

Dolly pegs, lolly sticks or twigs20171224_132038 1

  1. Melt the suet or lard either by melting in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or by putting it in a bowl in the microwave for a minute.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients into the suet or lard.  Set this aside to cool until the lard or suet becomes opaque, but it is still soft enough to spoon into your pots.
  3. While, the mixture is cooling, assemble the pots.  Make a hole in the bottom of the pot.  Tie the twine on to the peg, stick or twig then thread it up through the hole.  Finally make a loop to hang the feeder.  20171224_114332
  4. Fill as many of your containers as you can with your mixture and allow it to cool and solidify completely.20171224_131934 1
  5. Cut away the plastic pot and recycle.
  6. Choose a suitable spot in your garden, at least 1.5m off the ground with some foliage to shelter shy species of birds.20171228_125115You might like to make a variety of bird feeders.  There is another idea here.20151123_140648

 

 

 

 

 

This one gadget changed my gluten free, vegan lunches for the better!

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If your New Year’s resolution is to eat better then this post is for you!  It’s really hard to eat healthy, gluten free lunches in the winter.  Salad doesn’t seem right on a cold, sleeting day, gluten free bread doesn’t make great sandwiches, and gluten free pasta doesn’t work in pasta salads.  This is why I am so glad that a friend introduced me to a soup maker.  I do not use lots of gadgets in the kitchen, but I love my soup maker.  All you do is put the chopped up ingredients in the soup maker, and press a button.  Then you can go away and carry on with something else while it cooks and blends your soup.  My soup maker (Tefal BL841140 Easy Soup and Smoothie Maker, Stainless Steel, White) even has a keep warm function so I can have my lunch when I am ready for it.

This is my favourite recipe to cook in my soup maker.  You need to make sure all the vegetables are chopped to approximately the same size.

Ingredients

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

400g leeks, trimmed and chopped

300g potatoes, peeled if necessary and cubed

1 Knorr vegetable stock pot

1 carton of Alpro soya single cream

You just put all the ingredients in the soup maker.  I find it works best if you put the stock pot half way up the soup maker so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom or wrapped around the blender at the top.  My soup maker has a minimum liquid level so I add a bit of water to take it to that level.  Choose the creamed soup option and off you go!

Obviously, if you work from home, like Allergy Dad does, then this works really well, but equally you could set this going in the morning and take your fresh soup in a flask with you.  This soup maker (Morphy Richards 501018 Soup and Smoothie Maker, 1.6 Litre, 1160 Watt, Red) looks like an absolute bargain.

New Year Carrot Cake

If you have made a New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily then this is the recipe for you.

Ingredients

550g Free From Fairy self raising flour

225g maple syrup

275ml water

350g carrots, grated

175g sultanas

1 tbsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4.
  2. Sift the flour.  Combine the liquids, then stir into the flour mixture.
  3. Fold in the remaining ingredients, then pour into a lightly-oiled/lined cake tin.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool.20171201_132300

I removed a portion of the cake for Allergy Dad to eat without topping.  I used Betty Crocker Cream Cheese style frosting on the top with a sprinkling of cinnamon, which completely ruined the point of a healthy cake.  It’s the thought that counts, though…