Yum Thai Chicken Curry

Nut free, wheat free, gluten free, dairy free

IMG_5488FOR each parent of a child with food allergies there is some food, some childhood favourite or adult obsession, that in more maudlin moments they wish their little one could one day try. For my husband that vetoed dish is curry.

There is very little my husband loves more than a curry. Let’s put it like this: on my hen night, my sister roped him in to help compile a ‘Mr & Mrs’-style quiz. What would be his perfect night out? she asked, as thoughts of moonlit strolls and romantic trysts floated around my head.

Continue reading “Yum Thai Chicken Curry”

The perfect cheesecake (two ways)

IMG_4390YOU’LL BE hard pressed to find a shop or deli-bought cheesecake that doesn’t contain egg, let alone wheat or nuts. But it’s actually really simple to knock up an allergy-friendly alternative that tastes just as good… and maybe even better.

I first made this recipe, just before Sid was born, for my husband’s birthday. (I’m not a mental baker, but I was six months pregnant and we weren’t going out on the razzle so I decided a cake would be a substitute – albeit a poor one!). I’ve adapted it here for Sidney using Tru Free digestives, which are egg, nut, wheat and gluten free. Continue reading “The perfect cheesecake (two ways)”

‘Life with my allergic toddler’

SO TODAY I have a small piece in The Times’ Weekend supplement,Life With My Allergic Toddler’about the pain in the arseness of trying to shop, cook and cater for a food allergy tot when everything you try to buy ‘may contain’ this that and the other. (Here’s the link. It’s a shorter piece than originally intended but I’ll post the full and unabridged soon…)

Meanwhile, this morning I headed out to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a Sid-friendly cheesecake (recipe also to come). And instantly proved my point.

Sainsbury’s Organic double cream? “Not suitable for nut allergy sufferers”. Silver Spoon icing sugar? “May contain traces of egg.” Sainsbury’s ‘Free From’ digestive biscuits? “May contain nuts”. Three separate shops later and I think we finally have what we need. Minus the cheery disposition I may or may not have had when we started…

Fight for your right to party!

SO, HERE we are surrounded by the debris of a summer get-together. But unlike the old days it’s not cig butts and wine bottles; this time I’m talking grapes, free from biscuits, and two empty pots of tea, because today we hosted the allergy parent support group for the very first time.

You only realise how keyed up you are about mass gatherings with a food allergic child when you are finally able to hold or go to one without any worries. No-one this afternoon was going to turn up with a peanut butter sandwich in a lunchbox – and I didn’t have to warn anyone of the dos and don’ts in advance. Continue reading “Fight for your right to party!”

Ta-da! And the support group is…

On Saturday 30th June, 3-5pm, in Stoke Newington, N16…

Since Sidney was diagnosed with his silly string of food allergies a year ago, I seem to have a constant catalogue of questions that only parents in the same plight can answer.

Our doctor, as I’ve said before, is amazing, but there are some things he just can’t help with – recommending good allergy-friendly places to eat, top holiday spots for catering for a food allergic child, the best ‘free from’ foods to buy, recipes for the ideal eggless, wheatless, ‘add your own allergy’-less breads, cakes, etcetera.

Having a local support network of people in the same position means being able to swap notes on nurseries, schools, caffs, playgroups. What does a nursery need to prove before you feel comfortable sending your EpiPen toting tot there? How do you handle the issue of other kids eating potentially risky food in a public setting? Can we get the overpriced, overprimped recently revamped park cafe to offer something allergy friendly (OK, that’s just my own current gripe).

So when the paediatric allergy nurse at St Mary’s Hospital, where Sidney is seen, said they had secured funding to run a series of support groups and would I be interested in helping to host one I said ‘yes’ right away.

They’ve already run the inaugural event in Ealing, which I’m told proved a hit, and there’s a second in Barnes this month. But for north and east London parents I’m organising one in Stoke Newington, Hackney for June. So if your child has multiple food allergies and is under the care of an allergy doctor, do come along to share tips, info, recipes and gripes, find out which places are allergy-friendly, meet other parents navigating the same issues and ask an expert from St Mary’s paediatric allergy department your burning questions.

Food Allergy Parent Support Group, Saturday 30 June, 3-5pm, Stoke Newington, Hackney, N16; places are limited so for further info and to RSVP please email alexabaracaia@hotmail.com or see www.allergysupportgroup.org.uk

Fake scrambled egg on toast

Egg-free, wheat-free, nut-free (optional: dairy-free)

I almost hesitate to post this recipe, it’s so stupidly simple. But I know that when Sid was first declared egg allergic and all the things he couldn’t eat were racing through my mind, a super-quick substitute for that childhood favourite, scrambled egg on toast, would have been a joy to hear about.

Of course we hadn’t been able to attempt it until recently, given that it’s made with tofu and we weren’t sure if Sid would be allergic to soya. Thankfully he isn’t and this has turned into a really handy, quick and nutritious staple for him.

And despite my reservations at first, it doesn’t taste half bad. I mix it in with tomato, spinach, mushroom and basil but for the full Turkish scrambled egg experience you could add in some peppers or olives or whatever takes your fancy. Or eat it pure and unadorned (actually, with nothing but grated cheddar might be nice…).

If you can eat dairy, it’s best mixed in with a cream cheese to give it a bit of, well, creaminess and depth. I go for Sainsbury’s ‘SO’ Organic full fat soft cheese as it’s nothing but cheese, and has a more crumbly soft texture than Philadelphia.

I remember when I was a child my lovely grandad (known to my sister and me as ‘Ganzie’) Woolf ‘Willy’ White, born in the Jewish East End, would buy proper cream cheese spooned into a tub from the deli counter – so rich it would have an almost yellowish tinge – and spread it in thick peaks on digestive biscuits. In fact, it became known to us all as ‘Ganzie’s cheese’. For some reason it’s virtually impossible to find that sort of cream cheese any more. They used to sell it in our local Safeway but you can’t find it in supermarkets nowadays and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in the average deli, either. Such a shame.

Anyway, that was a tangent – here’s how to make my fake scrambled egg on toast:


Plain tofu (I go for Cauldron Original Tofu as there are no sesame or nut warnings and the ingredients are simply water, soya beans and calcium sulphate).

Handful of fresh leaf spinach

One fresh tomato

Cream cheese (Sainsbury’s SO Organic full fat cream cheese for me)

Fresh basil

One mushroom

Olive oil

Unsalted butter

Wheat-free bread (I use Dietary Specials gluten-free brown loaf)


Slice off a good, thick, two inch wide slice from the tofu and store the rest under water in a sealed Tupperware container in the fridge.

Soak up some of the water from the tofu by pressing with a wad of kitchen towel for a few seconds. Cut into chunks.

Wash and finely chop the spinach, tomato, mushroom and basil.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan or saucepan and sauté the mushrooms and tomato. When softened (three or four minutes on a low heat should do it), add in the tofu, spinach and basil and ‘scramble’ the mixture together with a wooden spoon.

Leave to cook for a few minutes on a gentle heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, toast the bread and spread with unsalted butter. Then stir a good heaped teaspoon of cream cheese into the tofu and mix until melted.

Serve with the toast, and eat…