Gluten free, dairy free breakfasts. Option 8 – cereals 4

Breakfast was the first big challenge we faced when we were advised to put Zac on a gluten free diet. He was already dairy free and that had been easy to manage. We just swapped out his usual milk for Alpro Soya Junior.

We were lucky that he had no problem with soya and were told by the dietitian that this would be a very good substitute for such a young child (he had just turned one). I was reassured that it contained iron, calcium, protein as well as B, C and D vitamins. So for a long time he just had Alpro Junior on his Shreddies or whatever, but he often a lot of ‘bad nappies’ within 20 minutes of eating his breakfast, so I soon worked out that perhaps wheat or gluten could be a problem too. So we stopped the Shreddies and shopped around for dairy free, gluten free replacements.

Like all people new to this I headed straight to the Free From aisle and discovered that there are in fact many to choose from. As he was still a baby, he was not as fussy as he is now, and I was able to try him on many of them without any objection. He got on fine with most and now really enjoys his special cereal. Some are very much tailored to children and they worry me, as they all seem very sweet. So I try to limit the amount he has. That is why I have been working my way through all these alternative breakfasts. Although many ‘normal’ and ‘gluten free’ cereals are fortified with vitamins, many are also scarily high in salt and sugar and best eaten in moderation I feel.



Gluten free, dairy free breakfasts. Option 4 – summer breakfast buffet Reply

This breakfast is more for the warm summer days when you want something cold and refreshing to wake you up, when summer fruits are in season and in abundance. This is a ‘recipe’ I cannot take credit for. This was created by my intolerant child last summer. I have mentioned before how he loves his raisin toast. So a slice of the Warburtons GF fruit loaf, lightly toasted with a scrape of Pure Dairy Free is a big part of this breakfast. He likes it cut up into triangles – which make the toast the perfect size and shape for dipping into a yoghurt pot.

Zac’s favourite dairy free yoghurts are the Alpro soya ones. He likes all flavours but seems to like the cherry ones very much at the moment and is also very fond of the blueberry ones. Both are full of fruit pieces and highly coloured so stain clothes terribly and that is why, if you look at the picture carefully he has his top off! He hates getting his clothes dirty too, so as soon as he gets so much as a drop on him, he strips off. Not a bad thing as you need to get the stain remover on it straight away or you will never get it out.

I know a lot of people cannot take soya, and that must be tough because if you are dairy free too, I am not aware of many other yoghurt replacements. Alpro soya has been something of a godsend for us, as they are apparently so rich in calcium, protein, B and D vitamins that they help ‘prop up’ his diet. In fact, whenever we have seen a dietitian they pay little attention to the gluten free aspect of his diet and focus very much on the dairy replacement and take great pains to note down exactly what his daily intake is. I know it is crucial for bone density in later life, for a child to get the right levels of all these things and so I try to get Zac to eat three yoghurts a day. This was what the dietitian told me is the ideal way to ensure that his diet is adequate. He has a splash of the Alpro Soya Junior milk on his cereal, but no more than a splash and it is less densely laden with the good stuff than yoghurts, so I know I cannot rely on this for Zac.


Gluten free, dairy free breakfasts. Option 3 – raisin toast and fruit smoothies 1

Since we started on our gluten free, dairy free journey I have really enjoyed finding alternative breakfasts for my children. I have always been wary of them eating too many junk breakfast cereals and have seen this challenge as something very positive. They are always very hungry in the mornings and breakfast tends to be their best meal – so it is my best opportunity for getting them to try new things too! I don’t know if it is because they are too tired to mess about or because they are just so hungry after a busy night of ‘growing’ or in Zac’s case, getting up and down several times.

Most mornings we don’t have much time for flipping pancakes or having a full English so it is not unusual for Zac to request a bit of toast, some fruit and a yoghurt. All good and nutritious and mercifully quick to get organised so I have no problem with that. To introduce a bit of variety, I recently tried him on the Warburtons gluten free, dairy free fruit loaf and this has become a firm ‘toast’ favourite – he calls it raisin toast. He enjoys it with a scrape of Pure Dairy Free spread and likes to dip it in his yoghurt (any of the fruity Alpro soya range).

Today I decided to try a new ‘side order’ to go with his toast and make a smoothie. He only ever drinks water so I thought it might make a nice change. The only problem is that he is nervous of anything that looks too milky – understandably, so I thought adding some favourite fruits might give it a less scary look for Zac and make it smell yummy enough to taste. He loves bananas and they tend to be the best fruit to blend. He also loves peaches, I had some in the fridge so decided I would mix it in to see if they go well together. I also invited him to participate so he could see what went into it and not be afraid.


Foods on prescription – anything for dairy intolerants? 3

I know I am a bit late to this debate, but I have been doing a lot of investigating since the ‘furore’ blew up the other week about the cost of foods for Coeliac sufferers.

Like many others, I was so angry, but for more than just the usual reasons. I do not think it is right that these foods should cost the NHS so much – but I believe the problem is with the manufacturers and we cannot blame the sufferers.

I imagine the reason that Coeliac sufferers are granted an allowance is because it is widely acknowledged how ridiculously expensive it is to buy the gluten free products. The impact on the ‘purse’ is staggering. So we should be grateful that this provision is made.

The ‘free bread’ is not widely or recklessly dished out. There is a lot of confusion over intolerance, allergy and autoimmune diseases such as Coeliac. Only the Coeliacs are entitled to an allowance. With certain food intolerances you can be ‘cured’ with desensitisation and that is not the case with Coeliac, so the sufferers face a life of having to buy these foods and it makes sense that they get some help.

Many people have just a mild sensitivity to gluten and wheat and some have a much more severe intolerance, but these people are not entitled to anything. I suppose because there are so many of them and they have a chance of managing their conditions themselves and it is not so detrimental to their general health if they have the odd slip up.

I also imagine that this might be the reason it was so difficult for me to get anyone to test Zac. Less interested doctors probably don’t want to uncover yet another sufferer and put more strain on the NHS purse.

It sounds terrible, but in a way, I was disappointed when his Coeliac blood test came back negative. Not just because it meant we did not get our ‘free foods’ but mostly because it left our questions unanswered. Why was he so ill from eating these foods? What happens next? Should I push for a gut biopsy? Nobody else felt the need to find the answers to these questions, so we were just advised to keep him off his trigger foods as he has an obvious bad reaction and just hope grows out of it. So instead, we regularly meet dietitians to review his case.

At the most recent meeting, the penny dropped and brought up some new questions. Zac’s first intolerance was to dairy, the others came along after. At the very first meeting with a dietitian we discussed his milk and dairy replacements, were given advice but that was all. Every time since, the first thing anyone ever asks is ‘what is his dairy replacement?’ How much does he have each day and they always check his height and weight. The gluten intolerance appears to be of little interest and the whole discussion is about his calcium levels.

The most recent meeting was poignant because this dietitian actually explained why she and the others were more interested in how we cope with his dairy intolerance. It is because it is absolutely crucial that a child as young as Zac is getting the right levels of calcium in his diet, not to mention protein and the all important vitamin D. So why is there no help for the children with dairy intolerance/allergy?

Zac is almost at allergy level – we have been told, based on his reactions. No tests have ever been carried out. He has never shown signs of anaphylaxis but he will be running to the toilet within minutes of eating a crisp that has ‘cows milk protein’ listed as one of the ingredients. His tummy blows up like a balloon and his tummy ache lasts hours.

When he was still in nappies, he would explode out of his nappies and it could take a whole packet of wipes to clean him. It looked like someone had vomited in his nappy and it could be blasted as high as his shoulders and down to his ankles. In fact, he was three before he could be toilet trained because his tummy and brain had no time to ‘talk’. So his sensitivity is extreme and we have been advised to keep him away from all dairy for several years yet with no ‘challenges’ unless advised.

We are always told he could grow out of it. However, at the recent Allergy Show, I got tested and showed up as diary intolerant. It did not surprise me. I stopped drinking milk as a very young child and am almost phobic about it. Just watching someone drink it makes me feel queasy and now I know why. It is not my imagination, it is my memory! It really did make me feel sick. As I dislike dairy so much, I have avoided it for years, so didn’t think about it. But now I know I am still intolerant after almost 35 years of dodging it, I think it is very unlikely that Zac will grow out of it. He is much worse than me and if it hasn’t worked for me, it is unlikely it will work for him.

So what help will we get? Dairy intolerant babies, quite rightly get their dairy free formula on prescription, until they are twelve months, but to my knowledge, there is no provision for dairy intolerant children. Zac was just over twelve months old when he became so ill. I had to fight and fight just to see a dietitian and was given minimal advice. When I met the first paediatrician he congratulated me on keeping Zac so healthy as he has seen so many dairy intolerant children suffering from malnutrition as ‘their mothers are doing it all wrong’. Surely, these people need as much help as the Coeliac people.

An infant needs to consume a huge amount of ‘dairy replacement’ to ensure that they are getting adequate levels of vitamins and calcium. I received little advice on how to achieve this. I worked it out for myself. I have been lucky that Zac actually likes the Alpro Soya Junior milk and loves the yoghurts. It is not unusual for him to eat three a day, which costs a fortune. At the most recent visit the dietitian advised me that the reason he is so well is probably because the yoghurts and milk are so full of everything he needs, it is almost like he is back on formula.

At the moment, there is a great deal of concern and press coverage about vitamin D deficiency, which is widely blamed on our poor climate and poor diet.  Vitamin D is mostly ‘supplied’ via sunlight and dairy products, so for a dairy intolerant infant, surely it is crucial that the parents are given all of the information they need and ideally some help to buy the products! A chronic lack of vitamin D can lead to many serious conditions, e.g. rickets and osteoporosis, and it seems amazing that no-one has yet waved the flag for all the dairy intolerants out there, as a group in dire need of some help.

If anyone needs a bit of extra help buying foods for their ‘intolerant’children, surely it is people like us? The people with Coeliac understand the damage that could be caused to their bodies, if they consume aggravating foods. But not enough people understand the damage done to the body of an infant who does not get adequate calcium and vitamin D. So I am afraid to say, I think the government needs to dig a bit deeper and think about the provision for the dairy intolerant children out there. I realise that there is as much chance of this happening, as there is of Zac ‘growing out’ of his condition, but I would love to get some awareness. Anyone want to help me? 

Revised Rock Cake Recipe 9

As the rock cakes disappeared so quickly yesterday, I have had to make some more today. Tom, Sophia and Zac all wanted them in their packed lunch today, so I guess they are tucking into the last few right now.

Here is the revised recipe, new and improved to make nice big crumbs.

8 oz self raising flour – Doves Farm make a good wheat free, gluten free flour and it is widely available
4 oz ‘butter’ – we use Pure sunflower spread, also widely available
4 oz caster sugar
4 oz dried fruit
1 large egg
5-6 teaspoons milk – we use Alpro Soya Junior milk

and the all important Xanthan Gum – 1 teaspoon, and a splash of vanilla extract for extra flavour

I have added a bit more sugar, bit more ‘butter’ and a bit more milk this time, just to ensure we have properly eliminated the dustiness and improve the flavour. The vanilla extract is just down to personal taste. To be honest, I have given measurements but I go more by eye. If the mix looks a bit dry, I just add more liquid and vice versa. When it looks a but runny I add more flour to stick it back together. As I have said many times, I don’t really love baking that much, but I quite like the ‘science’ and common sense of it.

The latest batch has just come out of the oven and I am very pleased. Even better than yesterday. I do feel proud of myself as I am such a reluctant baker and never expect my cakes to be any good. I am also slightly anxious that the children are now going to expect a fresh batch of home made cakes every day when they get in from school! Even more alarming is that while I was clearing up from making the rock cakes, I decided to have a go at chocolate brownies too! What is happening to me!!!!

Fairy cakes and brownies 4

Here are a  couple more simple recipes that are useful. Everywhere you go these days mums are talking about their fabulous adventures in baking and producing cupcakes that look like works of art. As the mum of an intolerant child, I always feel a bit inadequate when I turn up with shop bought, ‘free from’ fake cherry bakewells. So I have had a crack at altering a few easy recipes. I ‘blind’ tasted them on my family and no-one could tell that they were dairy free, gluten free and wheat free.

Fairy Cakes

150g/6oz of Pure sunflower spread

150g/6oz caster sugar

3 eggs

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract or almond extract

150g/6oz of Doves Farm self-raising flour

3 tablespoons of Alpro Soya Junior milk

3 tablespoons of full fat coconut milk

Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, followed by the flour and milk. Half fill some paper cake cases, on a baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven (200 for an electric oven, 180 for a fan oven, gas 6) for 10/15 minutes.

Chocolate Brownies

100g/4oz Pure sunflower spread

150g/6oz of dark chocolate (dairy free), or melt down 150g of dairy free chocolate drops or buttons, try the Asda chocolate orange flavour ones to make the recipe a bit more interesting and less bitter

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of coconut milk

100g/4oz Doves Farm self-raising flour

200g/8oz sugar

3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180, 160 for a fan oven , gas 4.

Beat the eggs together and then add the flour and sugar. Next add the coconut milk and vanilla extract.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Constantly stirring until all melted. Be careful not to let it get too hot. If the chocolate mix is too bitter try adding an extra sprinkle of caster sugar, splash of vanilla extract and or a splash of coconut milk. Let it cool slightly and then add this to the egg mixture and pour it into a well-greased (with Pure sunflower spread) baking tin, ideally 150x200mm. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.