We are generally not a fast-food eating family, which, given the array of allergies we’ve had to deal with over the years, is probably a good thing. It’s not something we’ve noticed we’re missing out on and I doubt we’d ever be burger joint regulars even without the allergies, but all that being said, there are definitely times when being able to pick up a burger and chips or to grab fish and chips from the chippie would make feeding the family one less headache to deal with at the end of a busy day. I don’t think the children have ever really felt like they’re deprived in this area, especially as there were occasions before allergies became a big deal or we’d ever even heard of EGID that we would treat them whilst on holiday; but there have been a couple of events recently where M has really struggled with not being able to eat on the go like so much of the rest of the world.
The first was back in July, he went to a friend’s paint-balling birthday party, which was followed by lunch and birthday cake at the local McDonald’s. M was brilliant. He was keen to join in and spend the time with all his friends and asked me to take along some safe food for his lunch. He sat with them whilst they enjoyed their Happy Meals and asked his friend’s Dad if he could have a small portion of fries to smell at the same time. This may sound strange and it’s most definitely heartbreaking to see, but is a coping mechanism he picked up from a couple of the amazing children we met during his GOSH stay last year. It is widely reported that if you lose one of your senses, the others become more acute to replace it and it is this theory that has been put into practice here. M may not be able to eat many of his favourite foods any more, but he can still garner great satisfaction from enjoying their distinctive smells instead. When you consider that your sense of taste is hugely influenced by your sense of smell, after all we all know how bland food can seem when we’re struggling with a heavy head cold, then I guess that it’s no wonder that M finds such enjoyment from smelling what he can’t eat.
With the party behind us, the issue of fast food didn’t raise its head again until just a few weeks ago following a family evening out at a local art exhibition. I had managed to feed G and M before we headed out the door, but Mike and I, no strangers to late night meals, decided that the timing was such that we could only grab something on our way back home. We stopped to quickly pick up burgers and almost instantly both children went into minor melt-downs. I knew that a lot of their complaints were the result of the late night and a desperate need to get to bed and sympathised with their frustrations at not being able to eat something, anything “normal” for a change. I put my thinking cap on and determined to create a meal that could somehow replace the humble burger in our household and give the children the taste sensation they were craving. I remembered that a couple of summers ago, I had created a fantastically tasty lamb and mint burger recipe and I wondered if I could take that basic recipe and tweak it to meet M’s new dietary needs.
The great news is that I absolutely could. We buy our fresh meat, fruit and vegetables from a local co-operative and one of the ingredients I had spotted before was minced chicken. Adding a mix of seasonings and herbs as well as a generous helping of golden syrup, I prepared some great tasting chicken burgers. I whipped up a batch of rice flour pancakes to replace the bread roll for M, though we’ve decided that my flatbreads would work equally well. They were declared an almost instant success by both M and G, who have asked for them on more than one occasion since. Even better, I discovered that I could use the same recipe to create mini meatballs, which M enjoyed with rice pasta drizzled with a little rapeseed oil, some diced cucumber and a handful of additional herbs. So, one simple recipe led to 2 great new meals for my now slightly-less-moody children – a job well done!