Monday, 14 November 2016

Chocolate Banana Bread

This is not a recipe I created from scratch, rather I adapted slightly a recipe in Pippa Kendrick's "Free From food for Family and Friends" book. I highly recommend it, it's given me lots of new ideas!

I made the mistake of trying to cut this whilst still warm - it's best left to cool as it was initially crumbly, and the top of the slice in the picture broke off a little. No such trouble once it had cooled, and the next day it was actually even more moist.

This is nut free, gluten free, vegan, soya free, yeast free and really, really tasty.



Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 225g gluten free plain flour (ideally not plain rice flour, it's quite friable)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 125mls sunflower oil

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 200C (or 180C Fan)
  • Put the chia seeds in a bowl and add 4 tbsp water. Leave for approx 30 mins to absorb the water.
  • Sift flour, bicarbonate and cocoa into a bowl, then add the sugar.
  • Mash the bananas with a fork and combine.
  • Pour over the oil and the chia seed mixture, then whizz in a food processor to make a smooth batter.
  • Pour into a 1lb loaf tin (pre-lined) 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes
  • Don't cut until cooled - it becomes more moist and less crumbly!




Friday, 4 November 2016

Slow hand clap to the Food Standards Agency...

You know that popular meme of someone staring at a computer late into the night? Can't go to bed because "someone is wrong on the internet"? Quite appropriate..... except it's not bedtime and I *should* be focussing on the kids' homework, the child who is on the loo (he won't be going anywhere for around 45 minutes though, but then that's non IgE allergies for you...) and the fact that after the week I've had it really *is* Wine O'Clock and this could wait.

Except it can't.      

Myself and many, many others, from Fabed, National Allergy Strategy Group, Adam Fox and his team of paediatric Allergists and Allergy nurses, based at St Thomas's hospital, numerous paediatric gastroenterologists here and abroad plus parents dealing with the reality of life with non IgE food allergies have spent years campaigning to increase awareness and understanding amongst health professionals, teachers and communities that food allergy is not confined to an acute IgE episode. 

I wrote about the desperate need for increased awareness here . You would be *stunned* to know how many parents I know who have encountered health professionals who still simply do not understand how delayed allergic responses work, what FPIES and EGID are, or how cell mediated gut allergic responses cannot be tested for. The numbers of families damaged by poor or indifferent care, or those with little support for children at school, and even those hounded by Social Services because community professionals just don't "get" non Ige allergies. I've attended meetings for the All Party Group on Allergy before, and there are increasing numbers of people appreciating these issues - then the FSA railroads over all recent work in one ridiculous picture.





Yup, they've attempted to differentiate between food allergies and intolerances by reaction time, not even mentioning non IgE allergies. There is so much wrong with this I scarcely know where to start. Their sole defence is that they are trying to "simplify" things. But that's like listing a simplified list of political parties in Britain as Labour and the Conservatives. It's not simple, it's simply WRONG. it helps no one and subtley erodes the hard-won gains made by those of us trying to bring hope for our children.

If my daughter has half a slice of gluten free bread with egg in she becomes unwell several hours later and the response lasts days. If she has the tiniest amount of soya the entire response process which includes soiling and bleeding lasts up to a month. Just where on that chart would she fit? Or her twin brother who has long term bowel damage from non IgE symptoms and narrowly escaped surgical intervention years ago, whose non IgE allergic gut reaction to wheat in particular accumulates over days and weeks.

This isn't a simplified chart, it's an exclusive one, which excludes a significant proportion of those with food allergies. 

We have to contend with the media spouting about the middle class disease that is food allergies, who never stop to think of the opportunity such an editorial presents for education, for explanation and enlightenment. I've contributed myself as a lay person to publications on allergy, which fail to accurately detail non IgE food allergies. Yet still the ignorance persists.

It's not even particularly new information. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has had their own chart since February 2011, which is here. THEIR chart is reproduced below. It's a bit small, but that's because you just cannot over simplify this, at least not in the way the FSA are attempting to.



So what *are* non-IgE Allergies?

Non IgE food allergies DO involve the immune system, but locally, in the gut. It is a cell mediated response rather than a systemic, whole body reaction. It isn't immediately life threatening, but the long term impact ca be significant. t is a local reaction and is rarely possible to test for. Gut allergies are often delayed, which is why food allergies are so traumatic and difficult to manage, requiring strict exclusion diets to determine responses to possible triggers. Imagine an eczema reaction in the gut - it's a localised response to an allergen (or a false allergen which the body responds inappropriately to) and causes a localised problem - no anaphylaxis, no outside response (although IgE responses are often present in addition in those with gut allergies) and is very difficult to diagnose. Wikipedia actually explains this very well here . Like I said, it isn't new, and there is NO excuse for the FSA being so slapdash.

So my advice to them is to get with the programme. Work IN the 21st Century, add a third column and revise your information. Or delete it completely, because quite honestly, you've just shown yourself to be out of date, out of touch and under-informed. Unfortunately though, that picture has probably done more damage than the impact its had on your reputation.  





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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Socca bread (Farinata)

Reading through the fabulous "Free From Food for Family and Friends" by Pippa Kendrick, I came across "Socca bread", made from only gram (chickpea) flour, olive oil and water. This was a fabulous discovery, since chickpeas are one of the few protein rich foods my daughter can currently have!

I did some research on the internet, since the roasted vegetable version Pippa has wouldn't have been possible for us, and discovered it is really, really versatile! In France it is known as Socca bread, in Italy it is called Farinata.

You make it exceedingly thin, like pancakes - there is a great recipe here.

Alternatively, you can bake it deeper to make a more filling bread, which is what we decided to do.

Ingredients
  • 150g Gram Flour
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 250ml water
  • Pinch of salt
Method
  • Sift the gram flour into a mixing bowl. (Gram flour tends to settle and get lumpy.)
  • Whisk in the olive oil and water until completely smooth
  • Apparently the batter should ideally sit for at least 1-2 hours before cooking.
  • Pour into a flan dish for a thick bread
  • Bake at 180C for apprize 30 minutes until cooked.
  • Cut into wedges and serve!


Tip: This is so versatile, you can add roasted vegetables, olives, caramelised onions, bake it thin like a pizza or thick like a bread. It can be pitta bread texture or soft wedges. You choose!


UPDATE

Today I tried a thinner version of the batter, with just a little more water, and it made a lovely pancake. When the batter started to cook I added roasted courgettes, carrots and puy lentils to half and flipped it over. Apparently it was delicious!


Friday, 30 September 2016

Egg Substitutions!

So, we are officially egg free and I must say it's a bit of a steep learning curve. We have previously always been advised to keep the twins on eggs and it has been a valuable source of protein. Substituting that on a dairy and soya free diet is hard, especially when you have a vegetarian who is now pretty much vegan due to allergies to feed....

Because we hadn't trialled egg replacer, I have been using pear puree instead, which I was hugely sceptical about. However, I have had considerable success - although I seriously doubt I could substitute more than a single egg successfully this way.

I've come across several ideas for egg substitution, all work slightly differently with varied results.

  • Chia seeds soaked in water make an excellent binding agent, but not the best raising agent. 
  • Soy is not an option for us - and many others too, so I haven't tested this.
  • Ripe banana works in a similar way to the pear puree we've tried, and since we have passed the banana trial this is my fall back option! This banana muffin recipe only has one egg in because the bananas act as a raising agent too, and could be easily substituted unlike recipes which contain several eggs.
  • Ground flax seeds apparently give quite an earthy texture, and can be heavy - but many recommend them.
  • Applesauce - again, like the other fruit options it works, but perhaps not for more than one egg.
  • Egg Replacer - I trialled Organ's egg replacer with my daughter last night. Not brilliant, a bit heavy but ok.  She prefers the pear option!
  • Go without!! This recipe really works and as a large cake recipe is virtually unbeatable as an egg free option. Also, research "Crazy Cake" which is very similar, these recipes are from the days when rationing and scarcity made egg-free recipes a necessity.

The chart below is widely available on different sites and has more ideas.



It's really a case of trial and error. I've made these pancakes very successfully with a pot of pear puree, you cannot taste the pear and they rise beautifully. 



The following has even more helpful information, I've discovered you really have to bite the bullet and just experiment, and also try new ways of doing things that just don't use eggs. Good luck!



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Friday, 2 September 2016

It's been a while... #FewFoodDiet

I've been really slack about updating - but the truth is, this is HARD. Really hard. Not being a stranger to exclusion diets I knew it would be, but nothing prepares you for the reality that is an indignant, stroppy tweenager who understandably wants to be like her friends and is facing a *much* longer term than expected of a very limited diet.

We've made progress, mostly by sensible planned means - but I confess in absolute desperation we tried some BFree rolls before every ingredient had been tested and thankfully, these are ok. This success not only brought a bumper set of accepted foods but a real possibility of a school packed lunch! This is not to be sniffed at, in a school where packed lunches are not permitted, she really will be the *only* child having one, and if it's as near normal as possible that matters. A lot.

We've done well with carbs. Protein - not so much. And she's now completely refusing every possible (sneaky) attempt to get chickpea into her diet as it's now "revolting". This is a stage all parents face on similar exclusion diets, the child is understandably feeling utterly out of control and I completely understand why she needs to do this. She's telling me that whilst she accepts the restrictions imposed by her medical team, she still calls the shots. Her body - her rules.



This, in my opinion, is vitally important to appreciate. We couldn't have embarked on this without her consent. Giving a degree of control, where appropriate really helps though - for example, blood tests really panic her, causing a rapid escalation into anxiety which she can barely cope with. So we've now adopted the policy that she has control, she makes the choices, but she needs to understand why they are necessary. On the whole it works too. She tells the doctor or nurse where they are allowed to put the needle (hand, arm etc) and whether she has cream, spray or nothing. Within reason she has the right to refuse too - although she hasn't yet, because she's in control and is actually pretty sensible for a ten year old.


So we've also followed her list of priorities for food introductions too, which sadly hasn't included much protein! We've made pancakes (above) using a pot of pear puree instead of egg, my fruit, cashew and seed bites  with a few alterations and she's done a fair bit of experimenting too. She enjoys the BFree pittas with lettuce, sweetcorn and carrot chopped inside, with some Violife cheese in. I just wish there was some protein in it!


On the (hugely) positive side, when she's not reacting to new foods, I have a daughter who barely refluxes. Seriously. Hardly at ALL. After 10 1/2 years of moderate to severe reflux this is life changing - and if the unpleasant bowel and urinary symptoms are indeed delayed and related, we could be looking at one seriously healthy and happy young girl.

Which makes it all worthwhile.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

When things don't go to plan!

It's been a rollercoaster couple of weeks here on our few foods diet journey. K became unwell with a rather nasty urinary tract infection and ended up on strong antibiotics. She's allergic to penicillin and the one she was given didn't agree with her tummy unfortunately. This really messed up food trials since we couldn't properly trial whilst she was on them - for ten days.

To make matters worse, we were away for a few days - our only few days away this summer - and she desperately wanted to enjoy the treats her twin brother was able to have, however limited! He was brilliant, and we even had real tears of compassion on one occasion as he felt so sorry for his sister. We have also had tears from her, and meltdowns, anger, frustration and plain sadness. It's not an easy road.


On our third day away she ate nothing in protest, and then said she wanted some of my food that evening or she wasn't eating the next day either. She can be VERY stubborn!! In desperation I didn't stop her - and the vegetarian bean mixture she had two spoonfuls of caused her reflux and other symptoms to *really* flare. In some ways this was harder, because she had control, but it didn't do her any favours and she felt utterly defeated.

We've got over this (massive but not unexpected) hiccup and have since successfully trialled pea protein which is truly fabulous as she can soon hopefully have her Violife cheeses and the Wot no Dairy? yoghurts back. Coconut needs to be soon on the hit list to facilitate these, and apple. However since she  reacted to that meal of mine we also have a list of possible/probable culprits comprising onion, garlic, pepper, haricot beans and lentils to get through.

Diets like this are incredibly difficult for anyone, for kids it can seem arbitrary and unfair even if you totally agreed to it in the first place. When your peers, friends and twin BROTHER for goodnessake can eat lollies, chocolate and Haribo and you can't, the world is a very unfair place. We have limited his treats too - and ensure he has them out of sight but as she said today
"That's kind of irrelevant though, isn't it? Because I *know* he could have them, if you gave them to him. I have lost so many choices."
Out of the mouths of babes...

She did have a choice of course - this WAS her choice, and it's proving incredibly worthwhile. But that doesn't make it any easier, and although she will admit having significantly less reflux is "pretty cool", she's still a tweenager with attitude and I'm her emotional punchbag. And when you are that age, life is rarely "fair".

Distraction is definitely the best policy, and we are keeping busy!




Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Potato, chickpea and cashew fritters

Another attempt at varying my daughter's diet!! We have successfully trialled and tolerated corn, so officially we are on 7 foods, but this is one without corn from earlier in the week.

If your foods are different, maybe you can substitute? Hopefully these suggestions will offer some ideas for anyone on a few food diet, even if your foods are not the same as ours.

Method

  • Either peel and boil 2 large baking size potatoes, or cheat like me, microwave them, allow them to cool then peel them!
  • Blend half a tin of chickpeas in the food processor
  • Add some cashew cream and mash together
  • Form into balls and roll in rice flour
  • Shallow fry


TIP You could also add a vegetable of your choice, carrot is our vegetable at the moment but my daughter is enjoying it separately.

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