The Cost of Multiple Allergies

Last year, I saw an Instagram post by AllergyKid2006 that showed the impact of food allergies on budgets. Another family commented that it becomes even more expensive when there are multiple allergies. Those families live in the USA, but it certainly seems like we pay more to keep the Allergy Brothers safely fed in the UK too. I wondered how much the difference in prices is exactly, so I took a notebook along to my last supermarket shop…

Regular Food

Allergy Brothers’ Equivalent

Asda Soft White Rolls £1

Asda Fusilli 45p

Asda Semi-skinned milk 48p per litre

Fairtrade Dairy Milk chocolate (45g) 60p

Old El Paso Regular tortillas (326g) £1.49

Asda Golden Balls cereal (375g) 89p

Asda Sunflower spread 90p

Radox Kids Bath and Body Wash (400ml) £2.50

Pizza and Pastry Multimix £2.99

Eskal Corn Pasta £2.02

Ecomil Almond Milk £2.49 per litre

Kinnerton Free From Chocolate (85g) £1.30

Old El Paso White corn tortillas (208g) £1.90

Nature’s Path Munch cereal (300g) £3.89

Pure Sunflower Spread £2.35

Jason Chamomile Body Wash (887ml) £10.99

It’s shocking to see the differences in prices. This doesn’t include additional costs, such as petrol used to travel to larger supermarkets or the cost of electricity or gas to bake the bread mixes.

In the UK, gluten free foods used to be prescribed by doctors so people with Coeliac disease could access them for free. This has been restricted since December 2018 to just bread and mixes, although, in some areas, even this has been stopped. The Allergy Brothers have never been eligible for any financial help, as they have allergies, not Coeliac disease; and they are allergic to most of the prescribable breads anyway!

AllergyKid2006 linked to an American not-for-profit organisation called the Food Equality Initiative, which provides free from foods to families in need, who have allergies or Coeliac disease. As food bank use soars in the UK and the NHS stops prescribing safe foods, it seems likely that we are going to need a British equivalent to the Food Equality Initiative or see families really struggling to feed their children safely.

One month on…

Wow!  It has been a busy month here at Allergy Towers.  I have been jumping through hoops, like an overexcited collie in an agility competition.  I am really pleased to say that I passed my Level 2 in Food Hygiene and Handling.  We also passed our Food Standards Agency inspection, and got the top grade (5, very good).

20180622_105948We have been testing lots of vegan, gluten free cakes, including a gin cake with tonic icing that I felt the need to test extensively.  Our testing panel have been generous with their time and taste buds, and supportive.  Yesterday, we delivered our first batch to Cornflower Wholefoods, Brightlingsea, Essex, UK.  I don’t know how well the cakes will sell, but we are going to give it our best shot.

The next stage will be about fulfilling our whole purpose.  We’ll be looking at developing relationships with local organisations so we can offer work-related learning to autistic young people.

It’s all really exciting, bit scary, but I am looking forward to seeing what happens over the next few months…

 

 

Happy Birthday, Allergy Wizard!

I am really very bad at cake decorating so my heart sunk when Allergy Wizard asked for a Harry Potter birthday cake.  Then I googled Harry Potter cakes and I was both impressed and even more discouraged.  I mean, look at these cakes.  It’s not cake decorating; it’s sugar sculpture.  These cakes are art!

So thank goodness for Hagrid and his wonky, misspelt birthday cake in the first film.  Something vaguely attainable, except Allergy Wizard doesn’t like buttercream and the green writing icing had an allergen in so I had to use blue.  The birthday boy was happy though and that is the only thing that matters!  Happy Birthday, Allergy Wizard.

Chuffed about Chufa milk? (DF,GF)

We have a problem here at Allergy Towers.  Both the Allergy Brothers do cooking at school.  In fact, Allergy Wizard’s class cook every week and have now progressed to the stage that they make a two course cooked lunch for themselves once a week.  I think this is fantastic.  It can be difficult juggling ingredients though.  The biggest problem we have is dairy-based recipes.  The Allergy Brothers are allergic to dairy, soya, coconut and rice.  At home, this isn’t a problem as we use almond milk.  Unfortunately, there are children in their class with severe nut allergies so they can’t use any nut-based milks at school.  This has rather left us scratching our heads.  Chufa milk (AKA tiger nut milk) seemed to be the answer.  Despite its tiger nut nickname, Chufa is a tuber, not a nut, and so shouldn’t trigger a nut allergy.  However, it can trigger an allergic reaction in people, who have pollen or grass allergies.

We decided to try this new ingredient at home, and the boys were keen to make a mango smoothie.

Ingredients

As much mango as you can be bothered to cut up from a fresh mango

Chufa milk (enough to overfill the blender so it runs all over the counter)

Maple syrup (as much as you can bung in before killjoy Mum notices)

Method

  1. Cut up the mango while your Mum tries not to fret and fuss about the big knife.20180416_172829
  2. Bung the mango in the blender with too much Chufa milk and sneak in some maple syrup.20180416_173012
  3. That’s it.

Allergy Wizard tried their smoothie first, and within a minute or so began to have an allergic reaction.  HIs mouth felt “spiky” and he began coughing and finding it hard to breathe.  Thank goodness, this stopped very quickly after he had some anti-histamine.  But clearly, not a non-dairy solution for Allergy Wizard.

Amazingly, Allergy Plant was happy to try the smoothie after his brother’s reaction, he really enjoyed it.  He also finished off the rest of the Chufa milk carton the next day.  Chufa milk tastes nutty; the closest thing I could compare it to is macadamia nut milk.  If it wasn’t for Allergy Wizard’s allergic reaction, we would have been very chuffed about Chufa milk.

We bought our milk from Planet Organic.  Here is an affiliate link to the Ecomil Chufa milk; they also sell the raw Chufa for snacking, putting in salads, baking etc.

The Norton Dog, Suffolk, UK

The Norton Dog is a traditional-looking pub in the tiny village of Norton in Suffolk, except it has a slightly less traditional sign outside.

20180410_152331

Yes, that’s right.  The Norton Dog offers a full gluten free menu at lunch and dinner. I chose a Norton Hog Roast – Old Spot Pork Belly, stuffing, apple sauce and crackling served with a gluten free bun and chips.  Oh my, it was good.  The pork belly literally melted in my mouth.  The apple sauce was tart and cut through the unctuousness of the pork.  I would eat it again right now, if I could.

20180410_212359In the name of research, I made room for dessert.  I chose a chocolate brownie served with cherries and ice cream.  It was rich and satisfying, although I sort of wished that I had shared this with my friend instead of ordering one each.  The chocolate was quite “heady”.

20180410_212529

The food was very good for a pub, but it was the little details that really showed the quality.  My friend ordered tea with dessert.  When the tea arrived, it was loose leafed and the milk came in a little churn.  A whimsical detail and the extra effort involved in using loose leaf tea took that from a regular drink to something a little special.

20180410_212453.jpgIn summary, I love where I live, but I wish I lived a little closer to The Norton Dog.  I wonder if they would consider adding a North Essex pub to their portfolio…

Cornetto (GF, vegan)

Sorry for the lack of blog posting.  We have been very busy behind the scenes with some exciting new projects, and also enjoying having some holiday time with the Allergy Brothers.  There has even been some almost summery weather for a day or two, which fully justified testing these new Cornettos/Cornetti.  When I saw them in the supermarket, I let out a very audible squee of delight.

INGREDIENTS

Water, sugar, vegetable oils (coconut, sunflower), glucose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, maize starch, corn flour, HAZLENUTS (1.5%), fat reduced cocoa powder, SOY extract (1%), emulsifiers (mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids, sunflower lecithin, ammonium phosphatides), stabilisers (guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan), flavourings, salt.  May contain: milk.

So was my delight premature?  This might be a me thing, but I think the best bit of a Cornetto is the chocolate at the bottom of the cone: practical (it stops any melted ice cream running out) and delicious.  I am pleased to say that the gluten free cone is very crisp and tastes like a nicer waffle cone. The dairy free chocolate is acceptable. I was a bit concerned about the actual ice cream because coconut is an ingredient and it can give me an allergic reaction.  I can only guess from the lack of reaction and the fact that there was no noticeable coconut flavour that there really isn’t much coconut in this.  In fact, it tasted like not very nice, cheap ice cream.  A bit disappointing, really.  Why didn’t they use the same recipe as Swedish Glace ice cream, which is made by the same parent company (Walls, well ultimately Unilever) as Cornettos?

May we recommend Booja Booja icecreams instead?

Allergy Mum & The Quest for the Holy Granola – Part 2 DIY Granola

After my annoying discovery that me and coconut are not friends, I decided to invent my own granola.  It took quite a few attempts to tweak it, but this was very good.  It has the right ratio of clumps for snacking to cereal for eating in a bowl.

20180208_092459

Ingredients

100g maple syrup

300g dark chocolate

100g peanut butter

1 tsp salt

450g gluten free oats

150g flaked almonds

150g pecan halves

150g dates (chopped)

125 g Hilltop Honey Bee Pollen

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate, maple syrup and peanut butter in a bowl over hot water.
  3. When the melted chocolate, maple syrup and peanut butter has cooled down a little, mix in the salt, oats, almonds, pecans and dates.
  4. Spread the mixture out on the baking tray, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden.  Stir once or twice during baking.20180208_095918
  5. Leave it to cool in the baking tray.  Then mix in the bee pollen and store in an airtight container.



The Café at Beth Chatto’s Garden, Essex

20180331_142838

Allergy Little wants to get in on the blogging action too!  He has decided to change his nickname; he would like to be known as Allergy Plant (he likes playing on the Plant side in the game “Plants vs Zombies”!).  He has drawn his own logo too, with a bit of help from me.

 

Once a week, Allergy Wizard goes to a club after school.  Allergy Plant and I have an hour to kick our heels.  We regularly seem to end up at the café at Beth Chatto’s Garden in Elmstead Market.  I think I have homing instinct in on gluten free cake, and Allergy Plant can certainly sniff out some crisps!  The photo above shows some delicious gluten free chocolate and beetroot cake.

Allergy Plant’s review – “I think the café at Beth Chatto’s Garden is brilliant.  I like that there is food I can eat.  The staff are fantastic.  They can get my food ready in one minute!  They are friendly to me.  They always have some gluten free cake, and often some cake that is gluten free and dairy free for my Mum.  It’s super dooper.  That’s all.  I’m finished”

Beth Chatto’s Garden is in Elmstead Market, Essex.

Easter Nests (GF, DF, Vegan)

The Allergy Brothers made these Easter nests with chocolate eggs at school, using our recipe.  It’s really great that the boys are always included in their class’ cooking.

Ingredients

75g margarine (we used Pure sunflower brand)

50g golden syrup

100g dark chocolate (we used Kinnerton free from chocolate)

100g breakfast cereal (we used gluten free flakes and Nature’s Path Munch)

mini chocolate eggs (we used Lindt dark chocolate mini eggs)

Method

  1. Line a muffin tray with cases.
  2. Melt the margarine and golden syrup in a pan.  Reduce the heat to low, add the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Remove from the heat, mix in the cereal, and stir until it is all chocolatey.
  4. Spoon into the muffin cases and make an indent in the centre. Place an egg in each nest.
  5. Chill the nests until they are firm.