Saturday, February 26, 2011

Birthday party ideas

Our son is about to turn two and my brain is trying to get into party mode. The great news is that we've had considerable success with some party foods. If anyone has more ideas, please let me know!

Sweet William dairy free chocolate! These come in handy little packs and are packed full of calories :-) Our son's record is two packs in one sitting. You would think chocolate gets messy, but our son seems to lick his fingers totally clean!

Aeroplane Jelly - strawberry, orange and lime flavours have all been officially tested over a few days and no adverse effects. I'm thinking traffic light jelly cups.

Popcorn - either covered with melted Nuttelex or perhaps caramel.

Fruit kebabs - skewered fruit with possibly a toffee coating, depending how much time we have in the morning of the party.

And of course the main event... one motorbike birthday cake coming up!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegan, alllergy free cake - Egg, Dairy and Soy free... and still yum!

Our son is turning two and so I've been searching out good recipes for the party. This cake tastes great and is super moist and super light. I first made it in small paper cupcake liners. This turned out great, but only cook it for 15 mins or so since it will cook quicker. Our son has loved peeling off the "skin" and the variety of colours we've had by doing it this way.

I've also frozen some for a quick snack and they still taste quite nice. Keep an eye out for another post of his real birthday cake. I'm undecided whether to go for a motorbike shape, or perhaps just decorate it like the cakes we see in story books so our son feels like every other kid for once. Either way, I'm sure he'll eat the icing first and then chomp through the rest.

As with everything else, there's always a special twist when it comes to multiple allergy kids: I come from Chinese heritage, so as I grew up, scrimping and saving has been the order of the day. So, apart from saving wrapping paper, we also save birthday candles. Afterall, you only light them for a few seconds... and why waste? Well, as with so many of my other ideas... from now on, it's new everytime! I wanted our son to practise blowing out candles, for the perfect birthday photo of course. But just as I went to insert the candles, I realised the base of the candles were probably contaminated with who knows what. So, cleverly, I must boast, I quickly wrapped a small amount of glad wrap around the base before inserting the candle. Problem solved, and one happy boy equals one happy mum.

2015 POSTSCRIPT: Our son is now 6, he has a younger brother who is 3. Our cakes have gone from strength to strength while still being completely free from dairy, eggs and all nuts. We still use this recipe as a base cake for most parties - it is just so easy and quick to make, and still tastes lovely. For these fondant cakes, I've used Satin Ice Rolled Fondant, available at Spotlight. It is dairy, egg, nut free and easy to use - just like playdoh. Make sure you check the ingredients yourself each time, just in case. The last cake was made for friend's party, so my boys could both enjoy a slice too :-)

Dairy, egg and soy free Cake

1¾ C plain flour
1 C sugar
¾ t baking powder
¾ t bicarbonate soda
½ t salt
1 C water
1/3 C sunflower oil
1 T white vinegar
1 t vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 175deg C. Line 20cm square tin with greaseproof paper to reduce chance of contamination. Grease and sprinkle lightly with flour.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the centre and add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Beat gently until smooth. Pour batter into pan.
3. Bake 30mins or till done. Allow to cool.
4. Decorate with frosting.

Frosting recipe
½ C Nuttelex
1 C pure icing sugar
A few drops of food colouring

Cream together the Nuttelex and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Addd food colouring one drop at a time until you get the colour you want. Spread over cooled cake.

Adapted from “Fast Ideas – safe recipes for kids” published by Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation Ltd.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Disinformation overload

I’ve just spent the last two hours trying to find some answers on the net. The result? So much typing, so much searching, so few answers.

Words that are now swirling around in my head? Allergy testing – Ige, Igg, blood tests, Rast tests, Nash tests… so many tests that are possible. Trying to sort through the information that is relevant for allergy immune responses as opposed to intestinal reactions. I’ve reasoned to myself now that when our son has an allergic immune reaction to a food, he gets a rash and diaorreah. When it is a gastro-intestinal/digestive problem, he just gets the runs. For the first, avoid this food – it goes to the very back of the list in terms of foods we try (in other words, probably not for a couple of years). The latter, our son’s body isn’t quite ready for this yet, but perhaps try it in 6 months time when his body is more developed. Examples? Rockmelon, oats and cucumbers have been our latest allergy failures. Rash and the runs after only two bites. Intestinal difficulty? Vegemite... actually that’s it. 

I hear old wive's tales about giving kids small amounts over time and gradually their body will get used to it. This applies to intolerances, but DEFINITELY NOT to immune responses/allergies. In fact, if there is a true allergy, everytime you introduce that allergen/food to your kid, the allergic response increases! So although you might only get a rash the first time, the second time you could get a full blown anaphylactic reaction. Mind you, telling the difference between an intolerance and an allergy is tricky, and I'd definitely recommend a skin prick test for that one. As for the other tests... the jury is out on that one - there are sites that advocate all sorts of testing... usually they are linked financially to a company that does the test. The critics on the other hand are just as plentiful. It seems that the dispute arises from how many false negative and false positive results you end up with and which is more harmful.

Cross reactivity of protein allergens… what? I hear you say! Exactly my sentiment. I was trying to find a list of food groups that would help me determine which foods I should try next and which ones I should avoid knowing our son’s long list of food allergies. What I found, or rather what I got, was total confusion on my part. It is possible that because our son has an allergy to cucumber, he might also be allergic to latex. Actually, it’s the other way around. If you are allergic to latex, you could be allergic to cucumber because the pollens are similar.  But if you cook the cucumber, the risk is reduced. Hmmm, interesting… now I should be wary of latex?

Ok, my brain is officially fried for today and probably the rest of the week. If anyone out there can help – either by reading through the info for me, or by posting a link of some useful sites, please do!

My conclusion? Stop looking on the net… ring our allergy dietician and book an appointment for a face to face chat with someone with real experience that comes with a helping hand.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Egg and Dairy free pancakes

Brunch is definitely a favourite in our house, so finding a recipe that our son can eat and that we can also enjoy is a wonderful thing. Our son has his served plain or with honey or jam. We have ours served with yummy yoghurt and other fruits like banana, berries, stonefruit - whatever your heart desires! Oh, and don't forget a splash of maple syrup.

For a bit of fun, you can get your little one to help stir. Or you could place the fruit in a ziplock plastic bag then let your little one squish it all up, without any mess! If you have an extra pair of arms, they love watching the bubbles form on the edge of the pancakes before you flip it over. But I wouldn't let them stand too close on their own because you would be amazed how fast and how far little arms can reach when something looks exciting.

For an extra challenge, you can try making different shapes, like the motorbike below! Of course, you can't blame them for wanting to then play with their food. Have fun and happy eating!

1/2 C self-raising flour
1T caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
Mashed fruit - equivalent of 1 medium pear, banana, apple, peach, or 1T honey.

Mix together flour and sugar.
Make a well in the centre of the flour then add vanilla and fruit. Combine with fork.
Add soy milk a little at a time until there are no lumps.
If you want thick pancakes, use less milk. For thinner pancakes add more milk.
Cook in frypan with a little melted Nuttelex or other approved oil.

2015 Postscript: I actually place all the ingredients into a food processor now and simply blend! I triple the recipe for our family of four, leaving us a few as leftovers for the next day. You can try using a mixture of fruits and honey when you are multiplying the recipe.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Without a trace - dairy free, soy free, egg free, peanut and tree nut free, sesame free, oat free

This is a special post for a new friend who's part of the family of allergy kiddies. Her little one can't eat soy or dairy. Most of the information I’ve found on websites have been based in other countries and have limited use in Australia, so I've raided my pantry to search out foods we eat that are soy free as well. Please don’t take my word for it though – products change over time and it’s important for you to check the packaging each time you buy stuff.

Pure Harvest Rice crackers - brown rice only
Real Foods Corn thins - maize (corn), sunflower and salt only
San Remo Soup Pasta - wheat only
Riviana Popping corn - corn only
Nature First Polenta - cornmeal only - although this is corn, it is considered a carbohydrate, not a vegetable, so is good for weight gain too.
Coles Australian Sultanas
Golden Days Fruit Poles - 2 fruits - apple, pear, wheat fibre and sulphur dioxide
Freedom Foods Rice Puffs - rice and corn mainly, with no soy
Freedom Foods Corn Flakes - corn mainly, with no soy
Basco Honey Rings - rice and corn mainly, with honey and no soy
Orgran Gluten free Outback Animals - rice and corn mainly, with no soy
St Dalfour fruit conserves - no soy or other nasties

Hope this list gives you a few more options, especially while breastfeeding and having to be strict with your diet too.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I’ve had an idea to do a post on this for a while, but it’s a little hard to put into words… well, it’s hard to put right. This is a very personal post and I think everyone will have a slightly different response. Please feel free to add your own experience and together I think we will grow in greater understanding, compassion and maybe acceptance. I expect in a few years when I look back at this, my perspective will once again change… that tends to be what happens with perspective right?! Take this as a snapshot of how I feel now – whether right or wrong. So anyway, here goes…

I felt tremendous guilt when we first found out about our son’s allergies. Not so much guilt of passing on annoying genes, but more the guilt that I had been basically poisoning my son by the food I ate, by the food I was giving him, by the creams I’d been using on him and the products I had been using myself that touched his skin. As you can tell, there was a tremendous amount of guilt there. This feeling of guilt comes back every time I give him food that doesn’t agree with his body. It comes back when I’ve become impatient and tried a few new foods quickly and am not sure which is the culprit.

For me, the source of guilt comes mostly from our son’s allergies. For others I imagine there is still guilt – guilt about returning to work or staying at home, guilt about being too soft or too strict. Guilt about letting him climb so high and not getting there in time to catch him, or guilt about not letting him explore the world the way he wants to. I did say “mostly” from our son’s allergies – as you can tell from that last spiel, there is guilt from other sources too! There are books that refer to a mother’s guilt, and I think it is something we feel in new ways when we become mums.

So is it good, bad or ugly?

Firstly, am I guilty? Well, I have to have done something wrong for the guilt to be valid. This is different from whether I did it intentionally or by accident. It’s a fact… did I feed him something bad? Did I do something wrong? Not did I mean to do it. In many cases, the answer is yes, I am guilty of doing something wrong, although I may not have intended it that way. In reality, we are all probably guilty of something.

But I’ve read that guilt is meant to be like a car wash. You feel it, then you need to go through it, not stay in it. If we can accept our own guilt then use it to move forward onto something better, or onto a new path, we can be thankful for the new path our guilt brings us to. How do we move forward? Well that’s a post for another time… but just in case it takes me too long, it does involve forgiveness and restoration. Stay tuned :-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Massage Peril

"Happy Birthday Mummy" says my little boy as he enters our bedroom riding on his dad's back. No better way to start the day. My dear husband has booked a massage for me followed by a family lunch at a lovely cafe up in the nearby Dandenong Ranges.

I lie down on the massage table and then remember to ask the masseur whether by any chance they have any nut free oils. "We only have one type of oil - it is almond oil. I don't think that's a nut." What planet are you from?? I politely respond, "Um, yes, almond is a nut." It's not all their fault - thinking back, I should have brought my own sunflower oil or something - but who thinks of that? The last time I had a massage, they suggested I have a shower afterwards, and that was a lovely alternative. Anyway, with no shower on offer this time, I ask her not to massage my head or hair, and try and relax, and try again, and relax. I start debating whether we would call an ambulance or drive down the mountains ourself to the nearest hospital if there's an emergency. Best to call the ambulance - I've only got one epipen with me... Ok, try and relax again... Actually, the massage was lovely - nothing beats a good massage... well, it's definitely up there on my list at any rate.

When the massage is over I go to the bathroom and try wiping off some oil left on my neck and tie my hair differently to make it less likely my son will touch my hair. I wash my hands thoroughly with soap and am grateful it is a cold day so I have long sleeves on and don't need to worry about my arms. It's the best I can do... when hubbie and son come back to pick me up, of course the little guy wants to be picked up, wraps his arms around my neck and into my hair. Sigh.

By the time we're at lunch, he's got a red cheek, probably from remnants of almond (nut!) oil on my neck. I try wiping it off with some baby wipes. It's still red, I get another wipe. By the end of lunch, we've used close to 10 wipes. Everytime I inadvertently touch my neck or hair, I reach for another wipe. I'm sure the people on the next table think we're crazy... oh well.

When we get home and put the little boy to sleep, I'm finally able to take a good shower, scrub myself free of any nut oils, and wash all the clothes I was wearing. So there you have it, a birthday in the life of a mum with a son with multiple food allergies.

But it's the end of the day now, and on reflection, it really was a lovely day. Our son had no lasting rash, we had a lovely outing, I had a rejuvenating massage, and I am afterall surrounded by a loving loving family near and far away. Next time I just have to remember remember to bring my own massage oil and the whole day will be completely enjoyable. Or who knows, maybe next year our son will not have any more allergies... THAT will be a day of true rejoicing...

Friday, February 4, 2011


We made this recipe together with our son. He loved mixing and making a mess, and also loved being able to lick the spoon well before anything had gone in the oven. 
We did decorate some with icing, but the sugar rush was quite intense, and let's just say we're not doing the icing anymore! We weren't that successful with rolling it out and using cookie cutters - simple shapes were OK, but anything more delicate didn't work. However, we did manage to make a rather bulky looking motorbike... it got eaten before I managed to take a photo. But be creative, and you'll have fun in the process!

1/2C boiling water
1C golden syrup
3½C plain flour
1t bicarbonate soda
1½t ground ginger (check label to make sure no nut or sesame traces)
½t ground cinnamon (check label to make sure no nut or sesame traces)
½t salt

Melt butter in boiling water. Add golden syrup.
Sift dry ingredients together, add to wet mixture and beat till well combined.Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 to 60 mins.
Roll out dough onto slightly floured surface. Cut and shape to suit.
Don’t knead too much or else gingerbread becomes tough and chewy.
Bake in oven at 190deg C for 15 to 20 mins.
Remember they will not feel “done” until they are cool.

Adapted from “Fast Ideas – safe recipes for kids” published by Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation Ltd.