Tag Archives: Easter

Limping towards the Finish line

bucket listDo you remember that long, long list of things that I was facing at the beginning of March? With the month-end in sight, I am, quite literally, limping towards the finish line, just thankful that the long Easter weekend ahead means the opportunity for some much-needed lie-ins and down-time; but how did March go in then end?

World book day and required costume x 1 – M decided on what can only be described as something of a left-field choice for your average 9 year-old and dressed up as Ford Prefect from Douglas Adams’ well-loved trilogy of 5 books, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“. It was one of the easiest costumes he’s ever asked me to make and to our delight, he won a £5 book token for the best WBD costume in his class.'Oh yes we're very proud of him. He's in publishing you know!'

Parents evenings x 2 – Both evenings went extremely well and we are so proud of the strides both children have made during this school year. M has been working hard at beating the challenges of his dyslexia and dyspraxia and is developing some beautiful handwriting when he remembers to try. G has settled well into Year 7 and was described to me as a “conscientious, hard-working, empathetic and focused” member of her tutor group. I was delighted to hear that her confidence has grown throughout the year and that she is developing into a well-respected and natural leader amongst her peers too.

School book fairs x 2 – Attended and books bought.

M-friendly croissants – Recipe adapted, croissants baked and hugely enjoyed as part of the school’s French role-play activity. I achieved above and beyond what I thought was possible with so little notice.

Mothers Day – We enjoyed a quiet day together, although sadly my Mum was unwell and not able to come out for lunch with us. We ate at one of our favourite M-friendly restaurants and were once again impressed by the phenomenal memory of the restaurant manager and the care awarded to both children by all the staff. Well done Wagamama!

Riding lessons – G continues to ride every other weekend and her passion for this hobby is growing. Her latest lesson saw her not only trotting and cantering with confidence, but beginning some preparatory steps to get her ready for jumping – scary stuff but she’s loving every moment.

A 10th birthday and a class assembly – These happened on the same day and were both celebrated in style. It’s hard to believe that my little bean has reached the end of his first decade and I can’t begin to imagine what the next one will hold.IMG_1765

Birthday celebrations – M chose a reptile-themed birthday party and I braved holding a tarantula to help encourage G to beat her fears and do it herself. We combined the day into a double celebration and headed out to a local trampoline park in the afternoon with a couple of friends for a belated marking of G’s 12th birthday too.

Dentist and hair appointments – These both happened as planned and really there’s not much more to say.

GOSH appointment – Mike, M and I headed to London for our first appointment at GOSH since the disastrous admission last December. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, not least because the gastro department is currently in a state of great upheaval. M is doing well, even though we haven’t managed to introduce any more foods safely into his diet since last summer and continues to impress us all by drinking the 400mls of E028 necessary to supplement his limited repertoire of food. His weight has dropped on the centile charts and will need some careful monitoring over the next few months as we continue to search for some more safe foods for him. There is, at long last, a chance of some shared care between GOSH and our local gastro team, which would add some much-needed local level support for our family and the next step is really to wait and see when and if that happens.

School play – Thankfully M’s role as Poseidon meant that I could re-use his toga from Stagecoach last year, so that was one costume crisis off my hands. He was only able to take part in one performance as the matinée was on the same day as his GOSH appointment and unfortunately I wasn’t able to see his evening performance as it clashed with G’s parents evening. However, Mike and G went to watch and told me it was great fun and he did really well.

Performing Arts Exams x 2 – Taken by one very-tired G and one determined-to-do-well M. We won’t know just how well they’ve done until mid-April, but I’m told that they both worked hard and performed well on the day. Having watched their performances the week before, I can’t wait to see if all their efforts paid off and are reflected in their marks.index

Spa day – This was a late birthday celebration, a treat that Mike had sorted out for me and my dear friend, and M’s godmother, L. We had a lovely afternoon being pampered, drinking coffee and chatting without interruption by small people, before enjoying a delicious dinner and a few bubbles to mark the day.

Events linked to school topics – This term M’s topic has been India and part of the school experience was to share an Indian meal from a local restaurant. Thanks to previous experience from G’s time in Year 5, I had been anticipating this one for months and a few mini trials of herbs and spices meant that I’ve been able to create a curry-esque meal that’s suitable for M. A mix of cumin, coriander, ginger and rosemary combined with our new discovery of rice cream created the sauce for his staples of chicken and rice. It might not be an authentic dish, but he loves it and it’s meant that he has been able to join in a meal with the rest of his class.

Preparations for G’s sibling camp – I haven’t quite started on this one, but the weekend’s going to be busy as G goes off to camp on Monday. She’s been looking at the list of things she needs and chatting to a friend via e-mail as she prepares for a week filled with fun and activities away from the hustle and bustle of home. She also went to her first Young Carers meeting this week and seemed to settle in really well. There are some other girls the same age as G, including one from her school, who have just started too and she’s looking forward to an afternoon at a local trampoline park during the Easter holidays. Watch this space for more of an update once she’s back and has shared all the news with me!

Easter – Preparations are sorted, food trials are planned, eggs have been bought and I’m looking forward to a peaceful family weekend at home.

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Happy Easter!

 

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Best food trial EVER – and just in time for Easter!

I don’t know what it’s like in your house, but Easter is always one of those celebrations that creeps up and takes me by surprise. I suspect that the general busy-ness of the 6 weeks beforehand plays a big part in my seeming inability to effectively organise for it. Every year I say I’ll be sorted and every year I fail miserably. When you consider the steady pace of events through our household this year: from Shrove Tuesday’s pancakes to Valentines Day, my birthday swiftly followed by M’s 10th and Mothers Day thrown into the mix for good measure, there’s no wonder that having finally paused for a much-needed breath, I’ve once again almost let Easter pass us by,

In previous years both M and G have been able to enjoy dairy- and soya-free Easter eggs, 20150402_183827although last year was very different as by the time the day arrived, M was only eating rice, chicken and cucumber and our options were limited to plastic eggs and an accompaniment of non-edible treats. Thanks to some strategic conversations with M’s dietician and some canny planning on my part, Easter 2016 is promising to be a much more exciting time for him as we’ve timed to perfection his next food challenge: cocoa and dairy-free chocolate!

M is now counting down to when he can start this food trial and I’ve been frantically exploring the free from market as, believe it or not, there have been some exciting new ventures in the dairy- and soya-free chocolate world that we’ve yet to discover. Here I’ve decided to share some of the great options available for those of you looking for a fantastic dairy-free Easter chocolate treat and hope that you’re able to find the perfect one for you.

Please note: Due to M’s previously identified hypersensitivity, we are avoiding soya lecithin as well as dairy and soya, but not all of these products use an alternative, so I’ve listed any “may contains” listed by the manufacturer.

Plamil Foods – This is a brand that I’ve seen, but knew very little about. easter-eggs-xlThey are the oldest vegan company in the UK and as well as not using milk, their factory is also gluten- and nut-free. Impressively they were the first company in the world to make dairy-free milk chocolate in 1983 and the first organic chocolate in the UK. Their Easter products include a variety of Easter Bunny bars and bags of half chocolate eggs as well as the more traditional hollow eggs.


Moo Free Chocolate
– We’ve been big fans of Moo-free chocolate for a long-time, not least because they were one of the first dairy-free brands that I discovered that used sunflower lecithin, making them really safe for M. As well as their ever available chocolate bars, they are selling hollow Easter eggs in 3 flavours: moo-free-3-eggs-diagonal-web-mediumOriginal, Bunnycomb and Orange.

  • Dairy-, gluten-, lactose-, casein- and wheat-free. Also vegetarian and vegan
  • Uses sunflower lecithin
  • *May contain traces of hazelnuts
  • Available from a number of stockists including Sainsburys, Waitrose and Holland & Barrett. For a full list, click here
  • Prices from £4.00 to £4.99
  • G’s mark out of 10: 10/10

 

D&D Chocolates – This is a new brand to the whole family and I was lucky enough to have a taste at the recent #FFFA16 judging days I attended. As their website shows, they have a whole range of really lovely Easter products from the delightfully named Chuckling bunnies, mini eggs and various felt bags and baskets crammed full of chocolate. choccbunniesHR-bigThey also sell carob products and have a similarly impressive range of those themed for Easter too.

  • Dairy-, nut- and gluten-free. Also vegan
  • Uses sunflower lecithin
  • *May contain traces of soya
  • Available on-line as well as Independent health stores
  • Prices from £2.50 to £29.99
  • G’s mark out of 10: 8.5/10


Cocoa Libre
– These are a relative newcomer to the freefrom market, but impressively have been shortlisted at both the #FFFA15 and #FFFA16. When I first saw their products, I got very excited as they are made with Rice Milk, which is clearly labelled on their packaging, but sadly they also include soya lecithin at the moment.This means that they’re not currently suitable for M, though I’ve no doubt that G would love this box of 10 Easter chicks.UfubKWw9Rb4AWzEU3q0Ot-jlK0Y

  • Dairy-, gluten-, wheat- and nuts-free. Also vegan
  • Uses soya lecithin
  • Available on-line as well as a number of small independent stores around the country
  • Prices from £1.95 to £4.95
  • G’s marks out of 10: Unfortunately G didn’t manage to try this one before I published this blog, but the chocolate I tasted at the #FFFA16 earned a 9/10 from me

 

Booja Booja – If you eat dairy-free chocolate and want to be indulged, you need look no further! Booja Booja makes the most decadent and delicious chocolate, which is perhaps far more suitable for the adult taste than for children, though needless to say,
G and M both loved their champagne truffles a few years ago! They have a beautiful selection of Easter eggs in this years collection and I’d be hard pushed to know which to choose.

  • organic as well as dairy-, gluten- and soya-free
  • *May contain nutsboojabooja2
  • Available from stores including Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and Sainsburys. Other stockists can be found on-line here
  • Prices from £9.95
  • G’s marks out of 10: We didn’t try their Easter eggs, but their truffles deserve a richly indulgent 10/10

Easter weekend

Last year, Easter weekend was all about…

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A slice or two of this

20140418_154823

  …several of these

moo free

….and quite a lot of this!

This year, it’s more about this…

20150402_183827 20150402_183532

Happy Easter!

Easter biscuits and Simnel Cake

Courtesy of annapolisfork.com

Courtesy of annapolisfork.com

I’m not entirely sure what madcap idea took hold last week,  but I decided to spend part of Good Friday baking Easter biscuits and Simnel Cake for M and G to enjoy.  My experience of these 2 culinary delights is limited; I have had the odd Easter biscuit to eat in the past 30-odd years, but have to confess that I’ve never even nibbled at a slice of Simnel Cake.  What possessed me to try my hand at a cake that I couldn’t pick out of a blind taste test, I have no idea, but I was inspired to produce adequate alternatives and let M and G try some traditional treats.

I expected Simnel cake to be my biggest challenge and decided to start researching a relatively easy recipe to adapt for M.  To my surprise and absolute delight, my Google search uncovered this wonderful recipe for gluten-, dairy- and egg-free SImnel cake that was published in The Guardian newspaper on April 12th.  I don’t think I have ever seen a recipe that is so allergy-friendly in the mainstream media and I couldn’t wait to start baking.

Not bad for a first attempt!

Not bad for a first attempt!

I was thrilled with the end result and decided to decorate it in a manner that dates back to the Victorian era.  Traditionally, 11 balls of marzipan are rolled and used, with the story that these represent the 12 apostles minus Judas, though you can also use 12 marzipan balls for Jesus, the 12 apostles minus Judas.  In trying to understand the meaning behind this decoration, I discovered that Simnel cake was traditionally baked on the middle Sunday of Lent, which is also Mothering Sunday in the UK, and allows a relaxing of the 40-day fast typically followed during Lent.

 

First item ticked off the list and it was time to move on to the Easter biscuits.  Having grown up in the West Country, I decided to use another traditional recipe and use Cassia Oil to flavour these delicate biscuits, instead of the usual mix of cinnamon and mixed spice.  Thanks to the amazing blog, Alimentary Bites, I was presented with not just one recipe, but 2 to choose from.  I picked one at random, made a few minor adjustments to accommodate M’s dietary needs and whipped up a batch for the children to try.  There’s nothing to match the delicious smell of home-baking filling the house and G and M quickly gathered around the oven to make their claim as the biscuits emerged from the oven.

20140418_154823

All in all, a winning baking session and 2 more recipes to add to my M-friendly repetoire. Both biscuits and cake were delicious, scored full marks from my discerning duo and disappeared quickly over the Easter weekend.  Children and adults alike complimented me on the flavour of these goodies and I’m thrilled to have successfully navigated another festival with some wonderful and safe treats.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

Easter is always a tricky time for those suffering from food allergies, but there are some great options out there if you know where to look.  The selection for those who are dairy-free has improved and increased over the past 5 years and several of the leading supermarket chains now stock some of these alongside their “normal” counterparts.  My findings and recommendations for future Easters (as it’s probably a little late for this year now!) include:

Choices Dairy Free Easter Egg With White Chocolate ButtonsChoices Dairy-Free White Chocolate Easter Egg

 

 

 

KinnertonKinnerton Dairy Free Easter Egg     

 

  • Dairy, wheat, gluten and egg-free
  • Price: £4.99
  • Available from:  Sainsburys; Freefromforkids.co.uk; Tesco; Morrisons

 

 

 

 

SainsburysSainsburys Freefrom Easter Egg

  • Dairy, wheat, gluten and egg-free
  • Price: £2.99
  • Available from:  Sainsburys

 

 

chococoChococo Dark Chocolate Eggs

  • Dairy, wheat, gluten and egg-free
  • Price: £9.50+
  • Available from:  John Lewis; Chococo
  • Also available as Ginger, Honeycombe

NB – these are not guaranteed dairy-free as they are produced in a factory that also handles dairy chocolate, but a good alternative if you’re able to manage the risk

 

As always when it comes to M, our challenge for Easter is a little trickier.  Not only do we have to seek out a dairy- and soya-free option, but, due to his hypersensitivity, we also have to avoid any chocolate alternative that contains soya lecithin.  This isn’t an easy find, but I have discovered these few that are suitable, fun and delicious too:

 

moo freeMoo Free Organic Dairy Free Easter Egg

  • Dairy, wheat, gluten, soya and egg-free
  • Price: £3.49 – £7.09
  • Available from:  Sainsburys; Freefromforkids.co.uk; Alternativestores.com; Goodnessdirect.co.uk
  • Also available in Bunnycomb or sold in sets with a soft toy

 

 

maoamMaoam Pinballs Eggsplosions

  • Dairy, wheat, gluten, soya and egg-free
  • Price: £2.49
  • Available from: Freefromforkids.co.uk

 

 

hariboHaribo

  • Dairy, wheat, gluten, soya and egg-free
  • Price: £4.00
  • Available from: Waitrose

 

 

In years past, we have also opted not to buy Easter Eggs of any description, instead choosing small gifts such as books, crafts and even gardening equipment one year.  Whatever your choice, I hope you find your “perfect” egg and enjoy a marvellous Easter!