Monday, November 28, 2011

Lamb roast and pasta for the whole family - allergy free

When cooking for a child with multiple food allergies, finding meals that the whole family can eat and enjoy is like finding gold! There aren't any new ingredients in this one, but with a clever twist, we've managed to come up with a dish that is quite delicious for young and old. Oh, did I forget to mention it's dead easy?! If you have a slow cooker, you can also do this in there, but I'm too worried that our slow cooker is already contaminated with other ingredients, so I've used a corningware dish that can be put on the stove top then into the oven for slow cooking.
So here's the actual recipe:
800g of lamb, cut into pieces. I used lamb chops with bones in it to add flavour to the meal. You can use a cheap cut of lamb since the slow cooking makes the meat very tender and easy to chew. Also, the meat just falls off the bones when you serve it, so there's no need to be pedantic about your chopping.
400g tin of tomatoes
2T tomato paste
1 onion, sliced
2 or 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 large handful of red grapes - this is my secret ingredient! Our son still can't have meat stock cubes, nor can we add wine (which may contain traces of egg due to processing), so grapes is actually a sensible alternative, and definitely gives it a taste of sophistication.
300g dried pasta

1. Use medium heat for the corning ware dish on the stove. Then add oil and brown the lamb.
2. Add onions and saute slightly.
3. Add tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots and grapes. You could also add mushrooms or any other vegetable you fancy. Stir, bring to the boil then turn off and put the lid on.
4. Transfer to the oven, set at 180deg celsius and cook for about an hour or more if you have time. The longer you cook, the tastier and the more tender. But probably no more than 3 hours.
5. Add about 300g of your favourite pasta - we used Coles Organic Penne pasta. Stir in well. Make sure all your pasta is covered in juice. If it isn't, simply add enough hot water to cover the pasta and stir it through. Cook another 30 mins in the oven with the lid on.

Voila! ready to serve. Season with salt. You could garnish it with chopped parsley or even a dollop of greek yoghurt for those who aren't allergic to dairy.

Sadly I've since discovered that the ingredients used in the tomato paste that I used to use in a squeeze pack has changed. Suddenly they have all these other ingredients I guess to help with the sqeezability. Oh well, just as well I checked the packaging - it's back to the old jars for me - just pure tomatoes, the good old fashioned way. Just a reminder that we need to check the labels every time we buy something, so don't get lazy! 

Happy eating!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Additional Emergency Information for Medical Staff

I've been trying to read as much as possible about the management of anaphylaxis and anything else do to with that. After experiencing our first official anaphylactic emergency, I have to say I'm glad with the information contained in these two documents. Childcare dutifully passed on the information directly to ambulance paramedics who immediately passed it onto hospital medical staff. There's nothing like something written in black and white to make sure people fully understand what they're dealing with. I could just imagine that if his stay had to be longer, the safe foods list could have been photocopied for the kitchen too.

I keep thinking that we should also get one of those Medic Bracelets with our son's allergies, but all this additional information is also important and goes beyond what an emergency hotline would hold I think... correct me if I'm wrong here!

So anyway, here are my thoughts on these matters:

Ambulance ride to hospital
If your child needs to go to hospital, you really want to be there for the ride in the ambulance etc. But what if you're not there? What if an incident happens at childcare for example? What if your child gets to hospital and it takes you a little bit longer to get there? You hope that the transfer of information occurs, but in reality, in the midst of an emergency, I can imagine and even understand if not all the correct information gets passed on.

So, I've just spent some time putting together a package for childcare that they can pass on to ambulance officers, who will hopefully then pass the information to hospital staff. This includes a photocopy of our son's Emergency Action Plan with the list of all his allergies, a summary of doctors and specialist contact numbers, our contact numbers, other back up names and numbers, as well as our son's Safe Foods List. Oh and I've also put the names of medications that he may be on. I've printed it on orange/red paper so that it stands out. I've also laminated it :-) This little package will go into our son's emergency pack so that if they ever have to use the Epipen, it'll be ready to go.All this is especially important when our kids are young and perhaps not able to communicate the full extent of their allergies.
 Car Accident
After putting that together, I started to think... what if we have a car accident and our son is with us, but we're incapacitated? So off to the printers I go, another set for the car. I think I'll put this in the seat pocket - again in red, with perhaps a large medical cross on it.

With immediate family all living interstate, childcare are the most knowledgeable concerning our son's allergies. They are the only ones who cook for him, apart from my husband and I. So, I print out a letter of authorisation to release information. This allows childcare to tell medical staff, and even our friends who are our emergency contacts information that may be helpful if they need to provide food or care for our son.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Safe Foods List for Childcare

When we first enrolled our son into proper childcare, I decided to put together a list of foods that he could eat, to provide the cook a firm foundation to work with. I included specific product brands and also broke the list up into different sections to allow for easy substitutions to be made.

Whenever I do an update, I am slightly pleased that there is pretty much no more room left on an A4 sheet! What a long way we have come from the early days.

However, I have to admit, I still do get a little down every now and then. After a couple of scares at childcare concerning another child with allergies, the center seems to have put a lot of extra effort in training new staff and just thinking beyond the most obvious allergens. The center gets a special activity in about once a month - which is quite a treat for the kids. One month, they got an animal farm in - something our son would have loved. It wasn't rostered on one of his days, so we missed out on that one. However, about a month after the event, the center director pulled me aside. She explained that she had initially planned it for a day when our son wasn't around, just in case, but once the animals arrived, she realised that there was animal food strewn over the grassed area. It wasn't possible to collect all the remnants and so our son's group had not used this outdoor area for about a month, just in case. I was pleased about the thought she had put into it. I suggested that the normal weather conditions would probably have broken down allergens after a month, and that we would just have to risk it. Then, a week later, she gave me a list of all the ingredients, after she'd contacted the animal company. How nice is that? As it turns out, oats was on the list, and that is one of our son's allergens. So, I think it was wise to leave the garden fallow, so to speak. It's been 2 months of Melbourne weather... all I can do is hope that really is long enough. My guess is that the animal farm probably won't be back for a while, unless they do it in the carpark next time... or perhaps I can report that our son is no longer allergic to oats. There's always hope.

So here's a copy of our son's Safe Foods List - I try to regularly update Childcare with any new foods and also keep a copy on the back of my pantry door for my husband to look at, if he's in doubt. I hope you find it helpful too.