Ice cream is NOT off the menu Reply

One of the hardest things to explain to Zac last year, was that he could no longer have ice cream. Like most children he loved it and squealed with excitement whenever the local ice cream van drove in to our street. I spent a lot of time trying to track down some alternatives, and while I don’t think we will find it in restaurants or on ice cream vans for a while yet, you can find it in the supermarkets.

The first one we found was called Freedom frozen dessert. It comes in a variety of flavours, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. The children liked the chocolate the best. It is very nice and was developed by a very entrepreneurial mum who has a son with a range of food intolerances. She pitched her product on Dragon’s Den successfully, and has gone on to great things and is constantly expanding her range of foods. www.kirstys.co.uk

These foods are mostly just available in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s at the moment and she has launched an alternative milk product, currently available in Asda.

The other ice cream product we discovered is Swedish Glace. http://www.swedishglace.com/ These frozen desserts also come in a variety of flavours – vanilla, raspberry, Neapolitan, chocolate and blueberry.  According to their website they are all available in Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Co-op. I have only ever seen them in these stores sporadically and I have never seen the full range, just vanilla, Neapolitan and raspberry so far. Apparently they are also launching an ice cream ‘lolly’ and ‘cone’ this year. So I will be looking out for those.  Our favourites are the vanilla and the Neapolitan. Well my favourite is the vanilla and the children prefer the Neapolitan. Both are really delicious and it is easy to forget that they are not ‘real’ ice cream.

The thing that I have found hardest to track down is a suitable cone, so I can make Zac an ice cream that looks like the ones Sophia sometimes gets from the ice cream van. The only ones I have ever found are ‘Barkat’ http://www.auravita.com/product/Barkat-Ice-Cream-Cones.GLFR10644.html

I have only ever found them in Sainsbury’s and that was last summer. I cannot remember the last time I saw them on the shelves. They were of course, dreadfully expensive, and often over half in the pack were broken, but they were delicious and in the style of a ‘waffle cone’. If they reappear this summer I will certainly buy them. They are available online through www.auravita.com and www.goodnessdirect.co.uk

The other ice cream alternative is coconut milk sorbet. The first time we came across this was on holiday in Spain last year, just at an ordinary ice cream vendor. It was absolutely delicious. I have never found it on sale anywhere yet, but have found a recipe that looks simple. Best made with a full fat coconut milk.

http://www.vietnamese-recipes.com/vietnamese-recipes/desserts-drinks/coconut-sorbet.php

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Grandma Cakes Reply

When I started this blog, I did say I would be sharing some recipes, so it is about time I did.

Here is one of the first ones we tried once Zac was put on his very strict diet. As a little one, he always enjoyed my mother in law’s homemade rock cakes, aka ‘Grandma cakes’. Once wheat, dairy and gluten were eliminated from his diet she reworked the recipe to make it suitable.

They are so simple and really delicious. Sophia and Zac love them. They can be a bit crumbly, and those crumbs are very fine and powdery but, in my experience, that seems to be the case with all cakes and biscuits made without wheat or butter. I guess as there is no sticky gluten or binding fat, there is nothing to make those crumbs bigger.

8 oz self raising flour – Doves Farm www.dovesfarm.co.uk make a good wheat free, gluten free flour and it is widely available
4 oz ‘butter’ – we use Pure www.puredairyfree.co.uk sunflower spread, also widely available
3 oz caster sugar
4 oz dried fruit
1 standard egg
2-4 teaspoons milk – we use Alpro Soya Junior milk http://www.alpro.com/uk/soya-plain
1. sift flour into bowl
2. rub in butter finely
3. add sugar and fruit
4. mix to very stiff batter with beaten egg and milk
5. place 10 spoonfuls of mix in rocky mounds on baking tray
6. Bake at 200 for 15-20 minutes

To add some extra flavour and perhaps some extra richness you could add an extra teaspoon or two of coconut milk. I sometimes add a splash of vanilla extract or almond extract, just to give them more flavour. No matter how I make them, they do not last long in this house, which is always a good sign.

Come dine with me… Reply

Eating in restaurants is a challenge for anyone with food intolerances, as so few places acknowledge them. Whenever anyone suggests ‘taking the kids out for lunch’, I always feel sorry for Zac. He doesn’t seem to mind anymore, but I look at him with his little Buzz Lightyear lunchbox full of ‘free from’ foods and I wonder if he will ever be able to enjoy a ‘proper’ meal in a restaurant.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we recently discovered that Wagamama’s and TGI Fridays are both very accommodating to those with allergies.

http://wagamama.com/food/dietary

http://www.tgifridays.co.uk/site/static/files/pdfs/Allergy_Menus/TGI_Fridays_GlutenFree_AllergyInfo_Menu.pdf

Neither of these chains are doing anything ground breaking like using gluten free pasta or anything, just clearly labelling their menus and making suitable food to order, which is highly commendable.

I have since discovered some even better news. Two restaurant chains have taken the step of buying in some corn pasta and incorporating this and some other safe ingredients  into their ‘allergy offering’.

Zizzi’s seem to be really leading the way and their menu is the most exciting I have seen in a very long time. It has a large variety of dishes which could be suitable for Zac and all the ingredients are clearly labelled, so making a choice should be easy for anyone with allergies and intolerances.

http://www.zizzi.co.uk/assets/pdf/special_diets.pdf

http://www.zizzi.co.uk/food#filter=.menu-promo,.category-gluten-free

http://www.zizzi.co.uk/food#filter=.menu-promo,.category-gluten-free.filter-dairy-free

Carluccio’s have also ventured into this area and are catering for those with special dietary requirements. Their menu is informative and looks very interesting.

http://www.carluccios.com/static/pdfs/menus/GlutenfreeMenu8.pdf

Looks like we might be going out for Sunday lunch tomorrow!!!!

An interesting theory – gm yeast? Reply

Since launching this blog, a few people have emailed me with insights that they have had regarding food intolerance. One friend told me of some studies in France around gluten and wheat intolerances. I am not sure of the original source, so need to look it up, but apparently prior to about 1980 this kind of intolerance was pretty much unheard of in France. Now they are using very processed flour, it is becoming more common.

Some of the thoughts around this theory are that a lot of people don’t actually have a wheat and/or gluten intolerance, but they do have an intolerance to the additives in the bread which are added to keep it fresh for longer as with many other foods. This makes sense to me. I am sure we all remember a time when milk went off after a couple of days and bread went stale. It seems to live forever now.

According to my friend, it is now thought possible that the yeast could be the culprit. Fast acting yeasts are being used these days and they have been genetically modified to grow faster and bigger than the naturally occuring yeasts that used to be used for bread. This makes a lot of sense to me. We are always hearing about the dangers of genetically modified foods, so perhaps we need to look into this further.

Thinking about it, Zac has never had his allergies fully tested, so this could be valid for him. Apart from a blood test for Coeliac disease, which came back negative, none of the doctors we have seen have felt the need to test him further, despite my constant requests. We have all just assumed he is intolerant to wheat and gluten because of his reactions when he eats foods with these ingredients. I hadn’t considered other ingredients commonly occuring.

You couldn’t make it up… 1

I headed into a “Little Waitrose” store in London today to pick up some lunch. As always, I like to check out the free from products to see if there are any new items of Zac interest. Fair play to them, there were a few new bits..mostly gluten free items, so no joy for Zac, but I tip my hat to them for expanding the range. Noticed some bread was on a special offer, so thought I’d take a picture of the price and check with Nicola later.

At this moment, I then get a tap on my shoulder with a Waitrose employee asking me why I am taking a picture. I say my son has food intolerances and I was going to compare the bread special offer price. Waitrose employee is clearly not happy with this explanation and says it is against policy for me to take pictures and asks me to stop. Feeling like I am being implicated as some sort of spy intending on bringing down Waitrose, I asked why..Waitrose employee replies in stronger dismissive tone “because it is against company policy and you need to get permission from head office”.. Sensing the conversation is not going anywhere and waitrose employee is clearly revelling the stand off, I say fine I will not take any more pictures, but I will also no longer bring my custom here again. He says fine and I say fine and I walk away.

Outside, I think about the encounter and it was both frustrating and silly. I am seriously wound up by the employee. I don’t begrudge an employee enforcing company rules, but the manner and tone he took was just awful. I decide I am going to call his bluff as I just feel I have been penalised for something incorrectly and his manner stunk. I head back into Little Waitrose, fighting back the demons not to let my infamous eye bulge come out. I tap him on the shoulder and say I will be contacting head office and that I need his name and job title…he says his name is Dan…after another 2 goes I then get his is the duty manager. He says he can get his manager to come over, but I say I would rather contact head office..at which point we part ways and he scuttles off…probably to enforce more head office rules…I dread to think what he’d do if you put back an item in the wrong aisle..5 years hard labour probably.

The serious point is why cant I check prices and take a picture of a loaf of bread if I want to…people compare prices, there’s a recession on, get over it Dan the Duty Man !

Maybe this could be a new hobby of mine…I’ll head back in tomorrow and draw a picture of the price on some paper or maybe record prices on the phone voice recorder…see what Dan the Duty Man thinks about that..maybe he can make a suggestion to add that to head office policy too..

For the record, and getting back to the special offer on the Zac friendly bread…the offer price was £3.13 (21p less than normal)…

White chocolate buttons update 1

One of Zac’s favourite treats is the ‘Dairy Free’ brand of white chocolate buttons. In a post I made last week, I commented on how they had disappeared from the supermarket shelves. I searched online for them and found a statement on their website saying that they had discontinued their dairy free range. I wrote to the manufacturers Humdinger Foods.

www.humdinger-foods.co.uk

They have now replied and apparently they have made this decision because the supermarkets are now selling their own brand dairy free chocolate buttons. I was urged, by their customer care team, to write to the supermarkets and ask them to consider stocking them again. They also suggested a facebook page to ‘Bring back Dairy Free’. I will do both and would be grateful if you could support this.

So far, I have seen little evidence to suggest that the supermarkets are bringing out their own brand versions. I have only seen them in Asda, sporadically. They have a ‘milk’ chocolate flavour and a chocolate orange variety. I have yet to see any white ones.

In the mean time, there may be a few to be found of the Dairy Free brand online, but as it is a while now since they disappeared from the stores, I suspect there are no more than a few packs left!

A delicious alternative are MooFree chocolate drops.

www.moofreechocolates.com

They are definitely available online and are starting to appear on the supermarket shelves. But for those of you who love the white chocolate buttons, it seems that they are gone for good – unless we put some pressure on the supermarkets. Please help.