In this house, you can always tell when it is going to be a ‘bad hay fever’ day. First of all there is stereophonic snoring, courtesy of my grass pollen allergic husband and my intolerant child. It is enough to bring the plaster down from the ceiling. Last summer, Sophia came wandering into our room in the middle of the night and said she couldn’t sleep because she could hear tigers!
The other sign is that despite all the windows being tightly closed – the snoring turns to sniffing and snorting by about 5am and by 6am the sneezing attacks start. My husband is a hay fever expert, having lived with it every summer of his life. He tells me it is always worse first thing in the morning, when the pollen rises and in the early evening when the pollen comes down! In June our windows are always closed but somehow it permeates the double glazing! Probably need to get them looked at!
Windy days are also very bad and today is a very windy day and when we got to the school playground this morning, I could see we were in good company. Rows and rows of Mums in sunglasses. It wasn’t even that sunny. I know we can be a vain old bunch but just for once they were as much for function as for fashion. Clearly I am not the only one who has been told that big wraparound sunglasses are a good defence on the worst days as they act as a barrier – and in my case, hide the fact that my eye make-up is being washed away rapidly by the very itchy tears.
A while back I promised to work my way through recipes and ideas for feeding an intolerant child (or grown up). I promised to keep it simple – with minimal steps and ingredients. I worked through breakfasts, have a fair share of ‘dinners’ but still ‘owe you lunch’. So here goes. Time to look at ‘what’s for lunch’.
My two children have packed lunches at school and pre-school. Zac is due to start school in September and the option of school dinners will be there. He may decide he wants to try them, as Sophia did when she first started. The menu provided by school looks excellent and it is very highly rated by all parents, staff and the children, so I was more than happy to let Sophia switch – but I will need to have a chat to the caterers before I consider letting Zac give it a try.
Our school is a ‘healthy eating’ school and the menu certainly is nutritionally very balanced, with many naturally gluten free and dairy free foods – BUT – as many of you know and may have experienced, it is cross contamination that is the biggest issue for those with allergies, so I will need to get a better understanding of how this is managed.
Days out with my intolerant child are always a bit of a challenge – food wise. You can never be sure if there will be anything he can eat, so always end up packing several lunch boxes and trying to encourage him to eat the healthy contents, despite being surrounded by other kids eating sweeties and ice creams. So when we were invited on the MAD Blog Awards Finalists Family Fun Day at Legoland, I knew I would have to be even more organised than normal.
As we had to be there before 9am, we decided to stay at a nearby hotel the night before. The M25 and I are not friends and we felt it was the only way to guarantee we would be there on time. We stayed at a Marriott Hotel, got an amazing rate thanks to a bit of online searching and felt positive they would be able to cater well for Zac, as my recent experience at a Crowne Plaza (same group) was very positive – gluten free bread and soya milk on the breakfast menu. I still packed some of his own breakfast cereal and a variety of other snacks but at least I didn’t have to consider packing two days worth of food.
Recently they had a Garden Party at school and pre-school and all the little people had an afternoon ‘tea’ together. The ladies at pre-school, as always kindly bought in ‘something special’ for Zac to eat whilst all the others tucked into homemade cupcakes etc. When I picked Zac up that day, he was raving on about how Allison gave him ‘some special Rocky Roads’. He wanted me to buy some more – but I wasn’t sure where they had come from. Don’t recall seeing them in the supermarkets I visit. So I asked Allison, and she said it was Morrisons.
I have to confess, I rarely go to Morrisons, there isn’t one that close, but my mother in law often does and has told me she has found a good selection of gluten free, dairy free foods in her local store, and the prices were more reasonable than Sainsbury’s or Tesco. So last Friday, I was in Letchworth meeting a friend and as it happens we met in a hotel beside Morrisons! As soon as we finished, I dashed in and sure enough – there they were. There was a very good amount of shelf space dedicated to Free From and a lot of it was their own brand, which is very striking.
Since I have been back at work, the children have been going to after school club. When I collect them they are always so hungry that it is a bit of a challenge to get their dinner in front of them in the shortest possible time. One of the downsides of gluten free pasta is that it seems to have slightly longer cooking time than ‘normal’ pasta, and apart from the very expensive and not always available GF ‘Bob the Builder’ pasta, I have never discovered any ‘quick cook’ pasta – until this week.
I was in my local Waitrose, lurking around the chiller aisle trying to decide what to make for dinner. I decide to grab some garlic bread and that is when I spotted the Dell’ Ugo gluten free penne, sitting with all the other fresh pasta. Without thinking, or looking at the price I threw it in my trolley and headed to the checkout. Dinner sorted.
‘Fresh’ gluten free penne
One of Zac’s favourite foods when we he was a little tot was garlic bread. Once his diet became gluten free and dairy free, the shop bought stuff was ‘out’. I have since discovered that Asda have a version in their freezer section. It is ok. But so rarely in our local store that I decided to set about making or ‘creating’ my own.
I created some garlic butter by mixing a squirt of garlic puree (from a tube) in with a dollop of Pure sunflower spread. I learned to do this when he was just a dairy free boy. I used garlic puree because, although fresh garlic is nice, it is pretty hard, even with the best crusher or amazing knife skills, to get it this smooth. Although many little ones love garlic, no-one enjoys the shock of biting down on a chunk of it!