Tag Archives: Service station food

A European approach to Allergy-friendly food

IMG_0515[1]Given our Italian break was courtesy of a competition win through the Allergy and Free From Show and Dr Schär, it didn’t come as any surprise that there were several gluten-free items available at the amazing Vigilius Mountain Resort. However, what we didn’t expect were the allergy-friendly offerings we discovered from the minute we arrived at Munich airport and these were the things that possibly impressed us the most. Mike and I had a 2-hour wait in Munich before the shuttle-bus arrived to take us to the hotel. It wasn’t really long enough to venture into the town itself, but gave us more than enough time to explore the airport and its shops. I was particularly keen to see if I could spot any of the German delicacies featured on the Munich episode of Paul Hollywood’s City Bakes and was delighted to be able to snap a quick photo of freshly made pretzels to show M when we got home.

IMG_0516[1]Having exhausted most of the shopping opportunities available to us, we decided to take a quick whiz around the small supermarket before heading off to meet the bus. You can only imagine my surprise and absolute delight when we stumbled upon this fixture filled with dairy-free alternatives, including the all-important rice milk that is now a staple in our household. There was a slightly smaller unit with an array of gluten-free products too and browsing the store’s shelves and fridges, I was able to pick out with relative ease other allergy-friendly foods. I think what impressed me the most was this was a small supermarket at the airport. Not some major out-of-town hypermarket, but somewhere where travellers would stop to pick up a few essentials before heading on to their final destination. Obviously I can’t comment on what would be found in larger stores around Germany, but this bodes well for what I can only imagine you might be able to buy. We have had mixed success in finding safe foods for both M and G whilst on our holidays in the past and this summer will be travelling back to Portugal for the first time since M’s diet became so restricted. I can only hope we find as good a selection as we stumbled across in Munich.

TIMG_0552[1]he Vigilius resort is owned by Ulrich Ladurner, who is also the founder and president of the Dr Schär group and so it comes as no surprise that every meal has gluten-free options available if wanted. Breakfasts consist of an amazing buffet containing just about everything you could conceivably want – cereals, pastries, fresh fruit, cold meats, fruit juices, smoothies, cooked breakfasts and cheeses. There was a separate section for the gluten-free choices and I was pleased to see that soya milk, local goats milk and cheese and dairy-free chocolate sauce were available too. Our evening meals at the resort were delicious and despite our initial plans to visit Lana for dinner on a couple of evenings, Mike and I ended up choosing to stay in the hotel and eat in their restaurants. There are 2 restaurants at Vigilius: the delightful Stube Ida serving regional dishes and wine, and the more formal Restaurant 1500 with exquisite and interesting menu choices. The menus were clearly annotated to show which dishes could be made gluten-free and gluten-free bread was also available on request. We enjoyed every meal we had there, and whilst we didn’t choose to eat the “Variation of Carrots” for our main course – Tartar of carrots, carrot-ginger cream, crunchy carrot peel and carrot spaghetti with curry and carrot gel – ,IMG_0539[1]the “Herbs of the neighbour” dessert – Herb cookies, herb chocolate ganache, hay Chantilly, camomile Panna cotta and lavender ice cream – was phenomenal, even if the occasional thought did flash through my mind that it was a little like eating a bowl of pot pourri! We chose to drink regional wines with our dinners, grateful to receive recommendations from the serving staff, who introduced us to some that have quickly become new favourites.

IMG_0637[1]In comparison, our lunchtimes were spent at various of the many gasthauses in the mountains surrounding the resort, where we chose meals that were equally delicious, but much simpler dishes than those we enjoyed for dinner. We frequently opted to share platters of local products, such as fennel bread, speck, goats cheeses and other cooked meats and of course, washed these down with a glass of local beer. Friends have told me that eating gluten-free in Italy is relatively easy and our experiences would suggest that to be true as we found a gluten-free section to a surprisingly extensive menu in a small, remote gasthaus at the top of Monte San Vigilio. I have to confess that we didn’t put these allergy-friendly options to the test as we relished the opportunity to eat “normally” without M and G around, but Italy has definitely become a potential destination for us in the future.

IMG_0557[1]Our final foodie surprise was on our way back to Munich, at what was advertised as the “last service station before Austria.” The journey to the resort on the Monday had been non-stop, no toilet breaks or opportunity to stretch our legs even once during the 4 hour trip. However, thanks to the driver of our return journey, who evidently considered himself to be the Michael Schumacher of the public transport world, we somehow managed to save time and were allowed to stop for 20 minutes near lunch-time. As we wandered around the service station looking for something quick and easy to eat before we climbed back on board, I also kept my eyes open for any last-minute goodies I could pick up as small presents for M and G from our holiday. Amongst the bumper-sized packs of pasta, bottles of olive oil and chocolate bars, I also spotted boxes of gluten-free rice flour cookies sitting in plain sight alongside their non allergy-friendly counterparts, something I’ve never seen in a service station in this country. Our holiday was a real eye-opener when it comes to how this part of Europe tackles the matter of allergy-friendly foods and has made us more confident to spread our wings and travel there with the children when time allows.

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Quiet day

After the excitement of an early start to our awareness week at the end of last week and the unexpected challenge of a sickness bug for poor M on Friday night, we had something of a quieter day today.  Mike and I both have some dietary challenges to face in the week ahead and Mike’s started today with a business trip, which needed some very careful and canny purchasing of lunch whilst he was out on the road.  He was reasonably successful, though he found the choices extremely limited, especially given the further restrictions to M’s diet over the last year and the prices higher for the few items he could choose to eat.

One of the things we’ve been encouraging M to do since his diagnosis, is to develop the confidence and skill to explain a little about his condition and share information about his food allergies with new acquaintances.  During this past week, I have been proud to discover that he has been doing this and doing a pretty good job of it, all things considered.  He has been able to give an explanation that has partly explained his food allergies and, in both cases, the Mums he’s been chatting to have been comfortable enough to approach me and ask more questions about EGID.  There is an alarming lack of knowledge and information concerning EGID, but this wonderful information flyer, produced by FABED, gives an easy-to-understand explanation of what is a complex condition:

NEAW_Flyer-page-0

 

And, just to finish today’s blog post, here’s our meals for the day.  As you can see, M is struggling with a poor appetite because of the bug, so getting anything into him is a win right now, however small it is:

 

M

Me

Mike

Breakfast
  • Banana (1/4)
  •  Sliced pear
Bowl of:

  • Free-from cornflakes
  • Rice milk
Lunch
  • Nakd Berry Delight date bar

 

 

  • “Chicken on a stick”
  • Eat Natural Brazil & Sultana bar (2)
  • Apple
  • Banana
Dinner
  • Orgran Mini Outback chocolate animals
  • Smoothie (1/2 banana, 4 strawberries, 100mls rice milk)

 

  • Rice
  • Home-made chicken casserole (onion, garlic, chicken, mushrooms, courgette, carrot, corn, tomato, coconut cream, chicken stock)
  • Rice
  • Home-made chicken casserole (onion, garlic, chicken, mushrooms, courgette, carrot, corn, tomato, coconut cream, chicken stock) 

 

Snacks
  • Fruit buttons (apple)
 
  •  Blueberry smoothie

On the road

services

What has been most interesting about this week is the way that each day has presented a new and very different challenge.  Today’s was for Mike and, in many ways, it was one he looked forward to tackling.  As part of his job, Mike usually travels to another site at least one day a week.  On that day, he is given an allowance which enables him to buy lunch and, if necessary, dinner too.

We had been planning to make Mike a packed lunch for the day to make it relatively easy for him to stick to M’s diet, but when faced last night with what was in the fridge, he proposed something different.  He decided to try and buy M-friendly food whilst he was out on the road, using nothing more than the Motorway services that most of us would have access to when we’re travelling by car, so no sneaky trips to a local supermarket where we know the options would be far greater.

I know that to many this may not sound that hard, until you begin to think about the options you have at a service station:

  • Sandwiches?  No wheat or gluten allowed, or the dairy from the butter, or egg from the mayonnaise.  
  • Pasties? No wheat or gluten again.
  • Chocolate? No dairy or soya
  • Crisps? These are potatoes, so must be okay, right?  No, it depends on the flavour, but avoiding wheat, gluten, dairy and soya is actually harder than you’d think when it comes to crisps.
  • Chips? A lot of the fast food chains coat their chips in flour to make them crispy, so again it’s a no.
  • Burgers? Well, no to the burger roll because of the wheat and gluten, and probably no to the burger as that’s unlikely to be 100% beef and is likely to contain wheat rusk.
  • Gluten-free cakes or biscuits from coffee shops? These usually contain dairy or soya or egg, so are all a no.  I’ve yet to find anything that M can eat, even with the allergy-friendly alternatives offered.

It’s been an interesting experiment and explains why we usually pack up our own lunches and snacks to ensure there’s something M and G can eat.  Take a look below to see what Mike ended up with today:

M

Me

Mike

Breakfast

  • A handful of raisins
  •  Toast (1) with peanut butter
Bowl of

  • Cornflakes
  • Raisins
  • Rice milk

Lunch

  • Crispbreads x2
  • Ham
  • Cucumber (3 slices)
  • Olives (3)
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Bear’s Fruit yoyo
  • 2 tsp pineapple chunks
  • Crispbreads x4
  • Ham
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Mushrooms
  • Pimiento stuffed olives
  •  1 large pack of sushi without the soy sauce
  • Nkd date bars (2)

Dinner

  • Gluten free pasta with tuna, carrots, peas, corn & Solesse egg-free mayonnaise* (2 small bowls)

*available from Asda

  • Gluten free pasta with courgettes, corn, asparagus, mushrooms, onion, garlic, tomatoes & coconut cream (1 pasta bowl)
  •  Gluten free pasta with courgettes, corn, asparagus, mushrooms, onion, garlic, tomatoes & coconut cream (1 pasta bowl)

Snacks

  • Nkd Cocoa Orange date bar
  • Nkd Berry Blast date bar
  • Banana
  • Grapes
  •  Fruit tea
  • Apple juice

Mike’s one comment has been that today he has felt the most full since we started on M’s diet.  The date bars are, apparently, extremely filling and even his lighter lunch today left him feeling more satisfied.

Before I forget, a couple of people have asked whether following M’s diet this week has seen any weight loss as I was anticipating it might.  I can confirm that, having weighed myself before the diet started and again this morning, I have lost just over 3lbs in 4 days.  I need to convince Mike to weigh himself to see if he’s seen a similar loss, though I’m not as confident that he knows where he started!