Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Fruity Teacake

Dairy, Soya, Wheat and Gluten free, no corn and could be egg free with egg replacer or alternative substitute.

This is really easy to make and tastes delicious. I substituted the figs and prunes for chopped dried apricots, the sultanas for raisins as a variation today.

150ml hot black tea made with two tea bags
200g (7oz) sultanas
75g (3oz) ready-to-eat dried figs, chopped
75g (3oz) ready-to-eat prunes, chopped
125g (4oz) muscovado sugar (does work with other sugar but the taste is best with this)
2 medium eggs, beaten (would be great with banana and a little egg replacer)
225g (8oz) gluten free flour (I have used Juvela harvest mix for this too as well as Dove's Farm)
2tsp gluten free baking powder
2tsp mixed spice

Pour the tea into a bowl and add the dried fruit. Soak for 30 minutes

Preheat the oven to 180C and oil a 2lb loaf tin (or use a tin liner as I did!)

Beat the sugar and eggs together until pale and slightly thickened.
Add the flour, baking powder, spice and soaked fruit and tea then mix together well.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake on the middle shelf for 45-60 minutes (mine took 50!) Check it's ready by inserting a skewer or thin knife and if it comes out clean, it's cooked through. Leave to cook.

Delicious sliced and served with Pure Sunflower Marge!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Lunch Boxes

I am loving the new containers currently available in the shops, especially the Sistema range. It's becoming much easier to make interesting lunches for the kids.

Tomorrow A has cold sliced free from sausages (The "Good Big Sausages" from Waitrose) with his favourite tomato sauce in a mini sauce bottle from Lakeland, and some crudités in his partitioned box by Sistema from The Range.

K has crudités and houmous in a little screw top dip pot (also by Sistema, from Lakeland, pack of four) in her partitioned box.

I will send sandwiches with marmite (only filling A will touch) in the new Free From sliced white bread from Tesco ( best I've found so far) but I also send buttered (well, "Pure" sunflowered) fruit bread (see a couple of posts down) for K and muffins, cakes etc to give variety. Add in a packet of Pom Bears, Plain Hula Hoops or the new Tyrrels individual bags of plain lightly salted crisps and a fruit pouch I'm definitely increasing our repertoire ;)

I have bought insulated food pots and children's thermos flasks (easy open) for winter too. Hoping to have more success persuading them to try soup or pasta lunches. Might be a tough battle, they are creatures of habit!!

These are also very useful for children's lunches:-

Friday, 13 September 2013

Gut Allergies - and why we NEED awareness and understanding

On the support forum I run and another I co run I am constantly writing the same replies to the same questions. Time and again the same questions come up - a child/baby with reflux who the doctors say they will "always" outgrow by 6 months fails to do so. Then 12 months comes, but weaning is problematic and the child appears to be reacting adversely to Cows Milk, Wheat and other foods. Tests are negative and parents are fobbed off and made to feel they are blowing symptoms out of proportion.

Many doctors perform allergy tests, for gut allergies which cannot be tested for, and then promptly dismiss the case because there is nothing for them to do. They may perform a pH study, previously the "Gold Standard" reflux test which cannot detect alkaline/allergic reflux or pressure changes in the bowel and possible allergic bowel inflammation is never picked up. Few hospitals can offer an impedance study, fewer still know how to interpret the results adequately. So because they don't have a clear answer many doctors are dismissive.
You would be horrified how often this happens, I hear about it all the time.

Some carry out endoscopies but stop above the stomach and the results are clear - so there must be "nothing really wrong". All too often the spotlight is then turned on the mother who "must" be neurotic, over-reporting symptoms, depressed perhaps? But lack of understanding or explanation is NEVER an excuse for being dismissive and accusatory. Ignorance does not excuse such actions - or have we not come so far from the Witch hunts of the seventeenth century? I have no explanation does not equal "someone is to blame". Even the most sympathetic doctors run out of ideas when tests come back clear.

I'm not sure what alarms me most - that there is still so little understanding amongst health professionals about gut allergies and their impact on the full length of the GI tract and elsewhere, or the stark truth that gut allergies in infants and children are occurring in epidemic proportions.

For us, we struggled for years with all of the above until we were referred to GOSH who FINALLY performed scopes below the stomach. Bingo. Serious bowel inflammation, duodenal ulcers and other damage. Everything above the stomach had looked near perfect, ph studies had been reasonably  acceptable... and skin prick tests negative for the most part. Dealing with an emergent disease like EGID, or symptoms which doctors have yet to put together and diagnose is a massively uphill slog, and unless you have the strength of Goliath, the stubbornness of Thatcher and the unwavering focus of Churchill you don't stand a chance.

But aside from all this the bigger question is being neglected - WHY are SO many children suffering severe gut allergies? Why does our youngest generation suffer food protein allergies on epidemic proportions? Because seriously, that's what we are looking at here. At the twins' school, six children have diagnoses of EGID now. SIX. And of those I have helped support on forums over the years, friends I have made, I know about 50 children with gut allergies impacting seriously on their lives. Our Consultant at GOSH asked my daughter and I to appear on TV for the 100th Anniversary of GOSH to spotlight the Gastro department and highlight the escalating number of children suffering from gut allergies. He used the word epidemic then, and it was no exaggeration.

But it seems no one is doing the Maths, taking the data and analysing it. No one is sending out the information and any new results to local hospitals, explaining how gut allergies work, sharing new knowledge. Our NHS is functioning in crisis mode and only dealing with the here and no, the in-my-face-and-un-ignorable crisis/case I have to address. But at some point, SOMEONE or some group is going to HAVE to address this massive issue and start looking at why our children cannot eat. At why their digestive systems are no longer happy in the twenty first century first-world environment we are bringing them up in.

Until then, I will continue to post the same answers, day after day, and share the information I have learned over the years, the information GOSH share through their APG Study Days for Parents and Professionals because until *everyone* understands what a gut allergy IS (and it is NOT an intolerance!!)  there is no hope of a consistent, helpful approach for parents in the nightmare that is feeding and caring for a child whose gut cannot perform the basic functions it was intended to AS it was intended to. And I, for one, cannot live without hope. My children and all the other children I know suffering with gut allergies and related diseases deserve better. FAR better.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Fruit Bread

This is a variation of Orgran Easy Bake mix.

The Orgran mix is by far the easiest bread mix I have tried, not as versatile as the Juvela Harvest White (ie cannot make pastry, bake with it as free from flour) but you cannot beat it for ease when it comes to making a loaf. Rolls are harder to form because the mixture is thicker and stickier however, but for a basic loaf to slice and freeze it's fab!

So I decided to try adding some raisins, cinnamon, mixed spice and a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar to try and achieve a fruit bread. And a little cocoa powder to change the colour a little.

The results are amazing, great texture, easy to slice so it can be frozen, and should toast well too.

One word of warning though..... the sugar had another effect.... it really makes it expand more and I should have split the mixture between two loaf tins I think so leave plenty of room!!!

Orgran Easy Bake really IS that easy but there is even a YouTube video on how to do it!
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