Tag Archives: Allergy Adventures

Snack-time specials

In addition to the great new breakfast and dinnertime finds from our trip to this year’s Allergy Show in London, we also managed to stock up on an impressive number of allergy-friendly snacks, some suitable for G, some just gluten-free and even one for M. Snack-time is always the hardest time of day to cater for in my experience. You want something that will satisfy your child long enough to stop the complaints that they’re “starving” and “have to eat now!“, without spoiling the next meal which is probably only 15 minutes away, but far too long for them to actually wait without moaning that their stomachs have been cut off and are feeling unloved and abandoned. I find it particularly hard to find something suitably satisfying for M and much as he loves my many bakes, I’m not so keen on giving him too many sweet treats on too regular a basis.

IMG_0805[1]Emily Fruit Crisps were an incredible find and an instant big hit with M. We were all intrigued by not just their apple crisps, which were reassuringly safe for M, but also their surprisingly tasty vegetable crisps: green bean crisps anyone? They are a great alternative to normal potato crisps with none of the slight after-taste that M has complained about with other apple crisp brands. I took advantage of a great show offer and stocked up on a dozen packs, although only 10 made their way home with us as M munched on the odd bag or 2 as we wheeled him around for the rest of the day. Whilst not widely available in many of the mainstream supermarkets, you can buy them through Ocado and, weirdly enough, will apparently find them in your local Topshop too!

M’s marks: 12/10

IMG_0739[1]One of my biggest disappointments had to be discovering this amazing product and realising that it was very nearly safe for M, but not quite. Le Pain des Fleurs Cocoa Crispbread is made from rice flour, sugar and cocoa powder and it’s that last ingredient that means that they’re not suitable for M at the moment. They are not easy to source, but a good search on the internet will uncover a few independent stockists of this lovely snack.

IMG_0840[1]This next product has to be one of my favourite finds of the whole show and I know G is equally delighted that we were pointed in the direction of this sweet treat. The Foods of Athenry Cookie Shots are bite-size G-friendly chocolate brownies and are absolutely delicious. I had never come across this family run Irish bakery before, but I will be eternally grateful to the lovely Julia of Alimentary Bites, who not only welcomed us with open arms to the Allergy Adventures stall, but then whispered this fabulous find to me and told me where I could go to buy our own pack. They are satisfyingly chocolatey and taste sufficiently indulgent without being big enough to spoil your appetite, especially when you’re a chocolate-loving tween. NB – whilst the cookie shots are MEWS-free, they are not made in a nut-free environment

G’s marks: 9.5/10

IMG_0839[1]These next two offerings are both gluten-free, chocolate-laden snacks, but sadly not dairy-free. I have chosen to mention them because they are great alternatives for those living on a gluten-free diet and I think they would be a perfect addition to the store cupboard for anyone who can safely eat them. The first is a Twix-esque chocolate bar, with a biscuit base, caramel filling and chocolate outer layer. I’ll be honest that they don’t quite hit the mark for me, but I am reliably informed by gluten-free friends that they are really delicious. Made by Dr Schar, Chocolix bars are individually wrapped, making them ideal for lunch-boxes or to carry in your handbag for whenever you might need one, and can supposedly be bought at more than one of the supermarket chains, though I have to confess that I haven’t spotted them gracing the shelves of our local IMG_0841[1]Sainsburys since I discovered them. The other is a fantastic snack that has become a personal favourite and another product from company, Le Pain des Fleurs, this time called Crousty rolls. These interestingly named treats are light chocolate biscuits which are rolled and then filled with a deliciously decadent hazelnut and cocoa cream. Just as with the Chocolix, the rolls are wrapped in pairs, which allows you to enjoy the treat whilst keeping the rest fresh for another day. These biscuits are quite sweet, but I can imagine that they would be a wonderful addition to a bowl of ice-cream for a truly indulgent dessert.

Allergy and FreeFrom Show 2016

I am so glad that we made the decision to visit last weekend’s Allergy and Freefrom Show at Olympia London as we had the most amazing day and made some great finds. The show has always been one of those lovely experiences for the children, where they have been able to try so many of the foods and drinks on offer, although we have constantly had to remind them that they can’t assume that everything is safe, even though so many of the offerings are. IMG_0645[1]This year was no different and G ate her way around the show, delighted to try some old favourites as well as the new products that we hadn’t seen before. It was understandably a much harder show for M this time than ever before, but he pinpointed on the map which stalls he wanted to visit and was thrilled that we managed to find some great new food options for him too. I am also extremely glad that we chose to take the wheelchair with us as it proved to be useful, not just for helping M negotiate the crowds flocking round each stall, but also as a receptacle for the numerous bags of goodies we gained during the day.

The day was also a great chance to catch up with some old friends from the blogosphere and allergy community, though this year I didn’t manage to make the bloggers meet-up arranged for the Saturday morningIMG_0647[1]. It was fantastic to see G and M recognised and welcomed by so many of these lovely individuals and they happily chatted away almost as much as Mike and I did. We spent some time at the Allergy Adventures stand, where Hailey and her crew of cheerful helpers were once again providing entertainment for the children in the guise of paper crafts and story-telling time, although they couldn’t persuade G and M to make the paper lollipops planned. Instead my pair went off-piste and created an array of paper lizard heads (M) and chatterboxes (G) to fill their time, some of which I think were left behind and not just stuffed into pockets and down the sides of the wheelchair.

Between us, we came home with a huge selection of new products for both children to try and I can’t wait to share their reviews of these foods with you, especially those that are not just new to us, but to the market too. We spent the entire day at Olympia, getting in when the doors opened at 10am and leaving as the tannoy announced that the Show was closed at 5pm  and I could quite easily have spent another day IMG_0651[1]discovering all those hidden gems that were tucked away in remote corners of the space. We had taken some safe food for M with us for his lunch as we just didn’t know what would be available at the site and G enjoyed a gluten- and dairy-free pizza from Schar that was cooked to order. The Show now visits 3 UK locations during the year – London, Liverpool and Glasgow – and I would highly recommend a visit if you get a chance to go. It is a brilliant day out for anyone living with food allergies and offers the opportunity to discover so many safe alternatives that often don’t make it to the High Street.

Allergy Adventures

adventureIn my recent blog about the Allergy and Freefrom show in London, I mentioned in passing the wonderful Allergy Adventures, who M was keen to visit during our day at the show.  We first discovered Allergy Adventures at last year’s show and were so impressed with their products that we’ve kept going back for more.

Allergy Adventures was set up by the lovely Hailey, who explains her reasons for starting the company on her website.  She produces beautifully illustrated children’s books that take the reader on a magical journey inside their lunchbox, accompanied by a character with the same food allergy as them as they look for safe foods to enjoy.  Each book focuses on one main allergen and teaches the child “how to tell others about their allergy and stay safe around food.” These books are bright and colourful and drew M’s attention last year as we wandered the stalls of the Allergy show.  Whilst he and G joined in with some paper-plate crafts – an absolute godsend to any parent who wanted a break from complaints of aching legs due to the amount of walking needed – Mike and I flicked through the books.

Stickers_5_largeUnfortunately, due to the extent of M’s allergies, there isn’t one particular book that we could buy for him to enjoy and to share with his friends, but there was another product that caught my eye and which I snapped up in an instant.  These fantastic “stickers” have proved invaluable in labelling any pots, products or boxes that go into school for M’s use.  His lunchbox, water bottle, medicine pots and individual tupperware containers all have a sticker, indicating that the contents are M-friendly and for his use only.  Even the children’s swap-boxes have a couple of “Hands off” stickers, so that everyone knows that they are specifically for G and M.  What I particularly love about these stickers is that they create a positive association with his food for M.  Rather than focusing on the “free-from” label and listing what he can’t eat, they instead stress that the food is special because it belongs to M or G and not to anyone else – a great message for my allergy-challenged boy.

Earlier this year, Allergy Adventures also produced an amazing allergy-friendly cooking guide, which lists out easy substitutions that can be made when baking or cooking for someone with food allergies.  Not only does it make sensible suggestions about replacement products to use, but the notes highlight key areas to consider when using alternatives.  Best of all, this has been produced as a free resource and can be found by following this link. With plans afoot for creating more resources to support children with allergies both in hospital and in schools, this is definitely one to watch.

After our first hour or so at the show, we finally listened to M’s request and headed for the Allergy Adventures area.  Once again both G and M created paper-plate masterpieces, whilst resting their aching feet and Mike and I had a break from their moans, for a few minutes anyway.  I grabbed the opportunity to catch up with Hailey, who I chatter with on Twitter and 10outot10also the fabulous Vicki, the FreeFrom Fairy, another Twittersphere friend.  Once G and M had finished their creations, they were captured on film for the Allergy Adventures video all about the 2014 Allergy show.  There’s really nothing more to add.  This is a great set of resources for anyone with a child with food allergies and I would really recommend you spend some time exploring everything Allergy Adventures has to offer, it definitely won’t be time wasted.

 

The Digestive Biscuit Challenge

After weeks of complicated bakes, this week brought about a new challenge, the humble digestive biscuit.  The reason behind our need for digestives was the upcoming Enrichment morning at school.  The previous 3 such mornings have been crafts, but this one, the last of the year, saw G and M preparing vegetable soup, bread rolls and a chocolate and biscuit dessert for their lunch. School had been great about making sure both children could fully participate in the activity and had emailed me the recipes, so that I could make any adjustments needed.

Courtesy of artisansbaking.co.in

Courtesy of artisansbaking.co.in

The vegetable soup contained a number of vegetables – butternut squash, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms – as well as potatoes, mustard, paprika and cheddar cheese.  I asked if they could exchange the potatoes for sweet potatoes, which M can eat and miss out the cheddar cheese completely.  The answer was a resounding yes and the result, according to M, was delicious, although he felt it would have been even better without the broccoli!  He enjoyed it so much that he’s keen to have a go at home for a family lunch one weekend.  I didn’t bother with the bread roll as I’ve yet to find a good, simple and tasty rice flour bread recipe and I simply sent it some slices of M’s bread to be toasted and eaten with their soup.

20140429_171226The bigger challenge was the dessert.  It was a relatively simple recipe and I could easily replace most of the ingredients with M-friendly ones.  However, digestive biscuits were more of a challenge.  Due to our current exclusion of potatoes from M’s diet, it is almost impossible to buy safe biscuits for M as potato flour is a commonly used replacement in gluten-free recipes. So. there was only one thing for it and I rolled up my sleeves, pulled out my trusty tablet and found a great recipe for gluten-free digestives.  I replaced the oats with millet flakes so that they were G-friendly too and quickly baked a batch.  I measured out enough for the school baking project and tried the leftovers on my 2 willing taste-testers.  Another instant hit and I have to admit that even I was impressed with how much like “normal” digestives they look, a bake I’m definitely proud to have made.

Even better, and just in time for enrichment morning,  the brand new allergen substitution sheets produced by the amazing Allergy Adventures fell into my inbox.  These simple and easy-to-follow sheets show easy substitutes, including quantities, for common allergens and give useful notes about the ingredients too.  We first discovered Allergy Adventures at last year’s Allergy and Freefrom show and have found them a brilliant source of information and tips for families dealing with food allergies.  If you’ve not visited Allergy Adventures before, I would highly recommend a look.  I printed the sheets out and handed them into school, not so much for this baking session, but rather as a reference for future planning when it comes to both G and M.

Enrichment morning was a great success.  Soup and toast was eaten and their chocolate/biscuit creation enjoyed.  There was even a little leftover to bring home to finish off at home, even if it looked a little nibbled when I took it back out of the box.  A great end to the week!

Not much was left, but it definitely tasted delicious!

Not much was left, but it definitely tasted delicious!

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