Living on the egg-dge

IMG_2273SORRY, sorry. Just trying to find a way to express how daring my day was. Because today I took Baby Two for scrambled eggs.

It’s been almost exactly a year since the last time we managed to get some scramble down her – last December, on my birthday, during one night away from Sidney when Sadie was still too small to be left with her grandparents overnight.

Since then it’s been playing at the back of my mind. Every few months some article or other pops up on my Twitter feed proclaiming that avoidance of certain foods could actually lead to the development of allergies. Continue reading “Living on the egg-dge”

An open letter to Henry Dimbleby, author of the School Food Plan


FROM September, the Government is to fund free school meals for every infant and primary school child in England. The groundbreaking policy is the brainchild of Henry Dimbleby, founder of the food chain Leon and author of the compelling School Food Plan.

There are excellent reasons for this, many of which are outlined here. But for parents of young children with food allergies, the policy has yet to prove itself.

There have been a few brief kerfuffles on Twitter over exactly how catering for allergies fits into the plan. To his immense credit, Dimbleby has responded to many of these questions personally and asked me and other ‘allergy parents’ to email him with our concerns. So here’s the letter that I sent to him: Continue reading “An open letter to Henry Dimbleby, author of the School Food Plan”

A peek inside

… the kitchen drawer of a food allergic tot:


I think every parent of a food allergic child must have the Special Drawer or Cupboard. That is, the one place in the kitchen where all the safe foods live: wheat free flours, nut free cereals, everything free pizza bases, biscuits, breads, snacks. Stuff we’d never even heard of before, like amaranth pasta, sorghum grain and millet flakes. And loads of it, because the stockpile and siege mentality burns bright in the paranoid mind of a food allergy parent – what if there’s a run on the supermarkets and ALL the freefrom food is GONE?

And here’s the box of overspill in the basement… In the event of gluten versus gluten-free Armageddon, at least we’ll have enough to eat.


Crispy chicken bits

(Wheat free, gluten free, egg free, optional dairy free)

IMG_4378MY BID to recreate the chicken in matzo meal I loved as a child – minus the wheat and egg. Cut into goujons, chunky nuggets or a mini escalope it’s a great dish served warm and just as tasty doled out cold the next day for a picnic-style meal.


One pack chicken breast fillets

Orgran corn crispy crumbs (basically just baked maize breadcrumbs)

Continue reading “Crispy chicken bits”

Banana & carrot cake

(Wheat free, gluten free, egg free, nut free, dairy free)

DSC_0785SUDDENLY Sidney’s second birthday was upon us and I realised that, nope, I hadn’t spent the entire past year transforming myself into the queen of allergy friendly baking after all. And I had no idea what cake I was going to make.

For his first we managed, after much effort, to create a decent Victoria-style sponge, but I didn’t want to churn out the same staple year after year. I needed a repertoire of treats. Plus we were now free to eat banana, Sid having outgrown that ridiculous allergy at 18 months… and banana can be a handy substitute for egg in cake recipes.

Continue reading “Banana & carrot cake”

Sidney’s pizza debut

A BIG, BIG day today – Sidney’s first ever pizza. It’s big because Sidney is one quarter Italian and his mother couldn’t bear to imagine a world without pizza. The horror.

Sadly, his debut was not a taste of the pizza a taglio I wolfed down on the street as a child in Rome, or the huge, crisp, paper thin versions, bubbling with sweet tomato and mozzarella, served up in a proper pizzeria. In an ideal world it wouldn’t have been a cook-from-frozen special. But beggars can’t etcetera and thank god, in that case, for Dietary Specials. Continue reading “Sidney’s pizza debut”

Don’t discontinue the chocolate!

So, I’ve just come back from my second day at the Allergy and Free From Show at Olympia. The last time I was there was 15 years ago for Erotica ’97 – my boyfriend at the time worked for a porn mag, I’m afraid. How things change, eh?

I’m gearing up for a bit of a blog rant about the show, so I’ll save that for now. But this afternoon I came across the Kinnerton confectionery stall and, for the first time, their Luxury Belgian Milk Chocolate bars.

Unfortunately, just as I find them it seems they’re being taken away. The egg, nut and gluten free choc tastes delicious – but it’s now been discontinued. Apparently stockists (i.e. the big supermarkets) weren’t displaying them where people could find them. As a result, nobody knew they existed, sales were low and they’ve been forced to ditch the line. Which is such a shame as these are perfect for the very many kids and adults with nut, egg and gluten allergies out there.

I bulk bought as many as I could reasonably see us eating by the ‘best before’ in Feb 2013 – but I hereby attempt to mount a campaign to Bring the Chocolate Back. They tell me if enough people lobby them for the bars’ return they will consider reviving them. There are so few allergy friendly chocolates out there – particularly nut allergy friendly – that I’d be overjoyed to have it them production. So I’m starting a petition – will you join me by signing it here?

Nursery will have to wait – for now


Nursery School
Is the perfect nursery out there? (Photo: Editor B)

While there’s no way I’m sending Sidney to nursery until he’s old enough to communicate how he feels, there are crazy waiting lists in our area (I’ve heard of otherwise sane women putting their prospective babies’ names down virtually the minute the stick turns blue) so we’ve been checking out the local options.

We’d heard good things about the nearby community nursery, set in a Victorian former fire station, with its philosophy of celebrating diversity, representing a proper cross-section of local people, all that fine stuff. We booked ourselves in for an open day.

It was a bit hectic and tumbledown but had a nice feel to it and the kids looked happy. So I asked: “What’s your policy on children with severe food allergies?”

“Oh, it’s no problem,” came the answer. “We’ve got loads of kids who are vegetarian, and even one who doesn’t like cheese.”

You might say she was the wrong person to ask – she wasn’t the manager, just one of the nursery assistants – but, for me, unless every single member of staff, permanent or itinerant, is properly trained in food allergy control and Epipen use it’s out of the equation.

I should have fired off an email to the manager, telling her exactly that and asking why they didn’t have a proper allergy policy in place. But I didn’t. I ought to get round to it. Who else will be our advocate, after all?

On the plus side, and after some trawling about, we have found a nursery that seems to have its act together. It’s cosy, jammed with cushions and squashy dens and books and murals, and it’s immaculately clean. As parent to an allergic child it’s the first thing you look for – in doctors’ waiting rooms, playgroups, cafes, even (guiltily) other people’s houses: how clean is the floor, how clean are the toys?

More often than not there are crumbs coagulating in the corners, smears of food, smudgy fingerprints. For most parents this would be fine: a little bit of dirt’s got to be good for the immune system, right? But for us it’s a gateway to worry: were those mucky hands clutching a peanut butter sandwich? Are those crumbs from a seed-packed breakfast bar? Is that smear – gulp – hummus? It’s a wonder I’m not sponsored by Milton’s, the sheer volume of their wipes I get through.

But the joy of this nursery was that, peer as I might (and I can peer mighty well), everything looked spotless, spick and span.

On the walls were boldly printed, carefully typed sheets detailing the various allergies of children at the group – this one’s Coeliac diet, that toddler’s milk allergy, little so-and-so’s wheat intolerance. In the kitchens the prep areas are carefully delineated and potential allergens kept at a safe distance from foods eaten by allergic tots. A member of staff is charged with monitoring each child with an allergy during every meal time. And they are Epipen trained at regular intervals – and given booster training every time a new allergic kid is admitted.

Hurrah. We’re putting Sid’s name down for September 2013.