The Gluten Free Dairy Free Sausage 6

Amazingly they do exist and can be found with the ‘normal’ sausages. They are actually positioned, it appears to me, just as a premium meat product and not as a ‘free from’ food. And so they should be. What is cereal and or milk protein doing in any kind of sausage? It makes perfect sense to me. A quality meat product should be just that and it seems that two manufacturers have successfully persuaded the supermarkets.

Debbie & Andrew’s http://www.debbieandandrews.co.uk/

The Black Farmer http://theblackfarmer.com/

I have found their sausages beside the premium sausages in the chillers at Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. They are just delicious and perfectly safe for Zac, and I imagine most people who are dairy, wheat, gluten intolerant. Of course, Zac won’t try them, as he is also deliberately ‘new food’ intolerant. I buy them anyway, the rest of the family loves them and one day, I hope, Zac will show an interest and love them too.

It is so nice to know that there are naturally ‘free from’ foods on the ‘normal’ shelves and they don’t seem to be at a particularly premium price. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind if they were, as they are a superior product and I don’t mind paying a bit extra for quality. So please try them and make sure the supermarkets get the message, we all want good quality foods that don’t have unnecessary milk and cereal junk added.

Navigating the aisles Reply

We are off to Costco shortly – a fact finding mission. I have never really noticed any ‘free from’ foods in there before, but have never really looked. I am usually in there when I am bulk buying bits on behalf of Zac’s pre-school.

But, as I have some time on my hands today, I want to have a proper look. As we all know the ‘free from’ foods are sold at such a premium price, it would be nice if it was possible to bulk buy the non-perishables for a good price. Wish me luck.

To be honest, I am not overly hopeful but would think at least the Alpro soya milk might be stocked as that is fairly mainstream these days. I guess I also need to remember that not all ‘free from’ are suitable and not all foods that don’t say they are ‘free from’ are unsuitable.

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Pizza face! Reply

Thanks to Zac’s food intolerances and all of the ‘exclusions’ and ‘challenges’ he has been faced with, we have been left with a very fussy child. It wasn’t always this way. Before he got ill with swine flu, he was a joy to feed. A happy little one year old who would eat and could eat everything I put in front of him.

I love to cook and eat and have always been determined that my children would grow up to love food and be healthy! I did all the things we are encouraged to do. We did a bit of baby led weaning, we also did a bit of ‘Annabel Karmel’ and I threw in my own recipes and did all I could to make sure his diet was varied, interesting and balanced.

It is only when I look at photos of him as a baby in his high chair, that I remember there was a time when he used to eat a babybel or a petit filous and not throw up or explode out of his nappy a few hours later. He used to eat Shreddies for breakfast and he loved Marmite and cream cheese sandwiches, garlic bread, crackers, any pasta and pizza. He loved his fruit and veg too and would eat them so happily.

Now we have a daily struggle. He is great with his breakfasts and will eat a variety of the cereals, some fruit, yoghurt, his special toast and spread or any combination of the above. Lunch is more of a challenge, as that bread is a bit rough and there is not much you can actually put in a gluten free, wheat free, dairy free sandwich.  Zac likes marmite, but actually seems just as happy with just plain ‘bread’ and ‘butter’.

Dinner is a huge challenge. He loves ‘pasta’, and will eat most sauces I cook up, so long as they are quite well whizzed up. He is ok with rice. Sometimes loves it, sometimes won’t even touch it. Not a lover of potatoes. But he does enjoy potato waffles and I have now added ‘pizza’ back on to his list of favourites.

It  is a real ‘cheat’. The ‘free from’ pitta breads or pizza bases are safe for him and I just buy a jar of ‘normal’ pizza topping off the shelf in any supermarket. Most are safe, but I always double check before buying. Just smear a spoonful on to the base and bake in the oven. You can make it more interesting by decorating it with various vegetables, e.g. peas, sliced tomatoes or even some olives to make a face. But Zac is very happy with just a handful of sweetcorn carefully arranged to look like a big smiling face.

As Tom has found a ‘fake/safe’ mozzarella in Holland and Barrett, I decided to give it a go today. I discussed it with Zac and showed him the cheese before we put it on. He was keen so we went for it. Less than five minutes later and it was done. Looked like a ‘real’ pizza and smelled great too. We cut it up into little triangles and arranged it in a fun way on his plate. He took one look and burst into tears – ‘cheese is ‘begusting’ and gives me the tummy ache’. He pushed the plate away and begged for a a new one with only tiny cheese – by that he means tiny sprinkle of the fake parmesan we recently discovered. It is called Parmazano, made by MH foods and available in Waitrose and Sainsburys. www.mh-foods.co.uk

So another £2 wasted on the fake mozzarella. I will try again with the cheese, most of the bag is still left in the fridge and it looks pretty good. But this episode just highlights the problem I face with feeding my intolerant child. All that ‘good work’ I did when he was a baby was for nothing.

Now thanks to a horrible illness he has been left unable to eat and enjoy many foods. He is old enough now to understand that he cannot have a lot of foods because they make him unwell. He is so good at checking with me before he bites into anything. But the flip side of that is he is now so anxious about trying any foods that look new that we are stuck in a rut. I know we will get there in the end, but it feels like we still have a mountain to climb and it is going to be hard work and so costly.

But for those of you with less fussy ‘intolerant’ children, it is definitely worth trying the fake cheeses and making a pizza face. It is super quick, looks fun at the very least and is a nice way to involve them in the preparation of a meal, which everyone says is the key to ‘fixing’ fussiness in kids!

You always forget something… 1

When you have an intolerant child, going out for the day always requires a lot of planning and a big bag of food to keep the little chap satisfied. Staying overnight somewhere means you have to upgrade to a very large bag – and no matter how well organised you are, you always forget something.

On Saturday we went over to Tom’s parents for a ‘sleepover’. The children are at that stage when staying over at grandparents is the most exciting thing they can think of and we just needed a change of scenery and a chilled out weekend. So after breakfast we loaded up the car with trunki’s, a selection of toys and the obligatory ‘food bag’ for Zac.

Both sets of grandparents are excellent at catering for him and always try so hard to find fun things for him to eat whenever we visit. I always feel bad though, because they are forced to spend so much more than they would normally as the ‘special foods’ are so ridiculously expensive.  To try and share the burden I always bring a few things along too. Also, Zac can be a fussy little thing and it is always worth bringing a variety of foods and snacks just to try and ensure he has a relatively balanced and interesting diet.

We all had a great day and it was only an hour after the children were settled in bed that I remembered that I had forgotten his breakfast cereal. The one thing that I usually always bring! I was furious with myself. It was gone nine o’clock and we were now facing a late night run to the nearest big supermarket to pick up a box of something suitable. It is times like these that you wonder how many other people out there are doing the same thing.

There is a Co-op in the village but that does not stock any suitable cereal so we were forced to go to the Tesco in a nearby village, or be faced with a hungry three year old crying his eyes out at seven am! Why can’t he just eat Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes? Neither should have any dairy in them, and I would be surprised if they had wheat or gluten as rice and corn are the ‘friendly’ grains. So, we had a quick look at the ingredients lists on the cereals in the ‘normal’ aisles. Only Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes looked close to being safe – as they definitely did not have any dairy, but both listed ‘barley malt flavouring’. I was pretty sure that ‘barley’ is on the danger list for gluten intolerants, which Zac also is, so put them back down and paid my £2.50 for the Nature’s Path ‘fake cheerios’.

So today, I decided to look it up. The Coeliacs website www.coeliac.org.uk is excellent and has a full Food and Drink directory. Then I discovered you have to be a member to have full access to the directory, that costs £10. I might invest another day, but for now, I just need the answer to this question.  Is barley malt extract safe? Can he eat Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies? It looks like the answer is no. Barley malt is on the ‘no’ list of most websites that I found for people who have to eat ‘gluten free’.

So what have we learned this weekend? I need to pack more carefully when staying overnight,’ and it is almost certain that there are NO breakfast cereals in the ‘normal’ aisles suitable for a gluten free, wheat free, dairy free diet. But I won’t be beaten. I am going to do some more research and double check on the breakfast cereals and I am also going to have one last crack at tracking down those buttons!!!!!!!!

The Dairy Free Detectives 1

Since, Zac was first diagnosed as ‘intolerant’, my husband Tom has been as determined as me to find new and interesting foods for Zac to try. As he works in London, he has access to a few more shops than me and every so often comes home with something he hopes will ignite Zac’s interest. He found Zac’s first non-dairy Easter Egg and has also found a variety of other new confections, including some ‘fake smarties’.

Now we know Zac has to continue living this way for several years to come, Tom and I have decided our new mission is to become ‘Dairy Free Detectives’ and find those alternatives and help other people to find them too.

Tom’s mission on Friday met with some success. He had just had a look in the large Holland and Barrett near his office. He came home with some Provamel cherry flavoured yoghurts, a breakfast cereal we have not yet tried (Dove’s Farm corn flakes), a chocolate bar and some ‘mozarella’ cheese.  All for the bargain price of £7.23!!!

Zac was most thrilled with the yoghurts and demolished one straight away. We put the chocolate away for another day and he tried the cereal the next morning and gave his rarely bestowed approval.  I told him I would make him a pizza for lunch the next so we could try the cheese. He went to bed happy and so I got to work. Where else can I buy these things? Can I find them cheaper anywhere else? Do the people who make them, have other products we should try?

After a quick bit of detective work, I found out that Provamel is a brand owned by the people who produce Alpro soya yoghurts. So no wonder he liked them, they taste exactly the same as the others in our fridge!

The chocolates were also made by the same people who make some of the others we have tried and we know that Doves Farm have a good range of cereals. As I had my ‘detective hat’ on I decided to start looking for those elusive chocolate buttons again. I was down to my last pack and quickly discovered from the packaging that they were produced by Humdinger foods.

They had a lovely looking website featuring the range of snacks they product and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the picture of the white chocolate buttons!!! Finally, I had tracked them down, so clicked on the image in the hope that I would land on a page telling me I could order direct. No such luck. The Dairy Free page carried just one message – ‘Our dairy free range is no longer available’. So that is it then! No wonder they have disappeared from the supermarket shelves. What I don’t know is why. So I asked them. I emailed them through their website. Haven’t had a reply yet, but as soon as I do, you will hear about it.

Another day, another supermarket… Reply

As Tom had no luck in Tesco on Sunday, and I had even less success in Waitrose on Wednesday, today was the day to try Sainsbury’s. In my opinion, the leading supermarket, at the moment, for a ‘free from’ family.

At our nearest store, they have devoted three quarters of a very large aisle to the foods and have a very wide variety. Zac squealed as we turned into the aisle and instantly spotted his favourite breakfast cereal. In fact, all of his favourites were there. The ‘fake’ cheerios, the ‘fake’ chocolate stars and a very broad range of non-kids ones too,e.g fake porridge and muesli. They also stock ‘free from’ corn flakes and rice krispies. However, I would think that ordinary corn flakes and ordinary rice krispies would be naturally free from gluten, wheat or dairy. I must check this out, because if that is the case, let’s not all spend a small fortune on the stuff, when we don’t need to!

The baked goods section was excellent with ‘free from’ versions of everything you could imagine. They even carried a lot of the ‘Hale and Hearty’ ready-made cake mixes. I have tried the pancake one and it is excellent. Both children love it. Try it with the Anthony Worrall Thompson ‘safe’ chocolate spread – also available in this aisle. However, I have also discovered a much cheaper, perfectly good non-dairy dark chocolate spread in Asda. It is amongst the ‘normal’ chocolate spreads and baking ingredients. It is Asda own brand, not expensive and very tasty. You can see why it is with the baking ingredients, as it makes a great cake topping or filling and I am happy to say is not irritating to the gut of my intolerant child. Definitely worth a try.

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