Saturday, 13 April 2013

Evie + coeliac + party invite = Challenge!

Evie with her gluten free party box
When Evie was first diagnosed with coeliac disease, I faced the prospect of parties with trepidation. I desperately wanted her to feel like she was the same as everyone else, but this is a tricky scenario – tables filled with the traditional party food (a lot of which is difficult to supply as gluten-free - take party ring biscuits for example, try finding those in the supermarkets!), all the kids sitting round, helping themselves, filling their boots, your child sat in the middle, watching, and maybe feeling a little sad.

The first party I took her to, I so wanted to do that bit for her – I remember how I felt in the same situation 18 months ago – honestly, I felt crap, and I’m the adult. Evie constantly amazes me how she has adapted to her situation though – I think kids are so much better at that than us adults. She seems to remember the sheer pain that gluten caused her and that helps her a lot in the quest to be gluten free.

I scoured the supermarkets and found a few bits in Sainsbury’s which help...

Trufree Chocolate Finger - expensive but nice...

Orgran Mini outback Animals (these are chocolate flavoured animal shaped cookies in their own bag – you could add a little melted chocolate to the top if you like).
I have also learned that making Evie feel special is key - she now takes her own party box filled with gluten free yummy treats. I always chat to the mummy running the party beforehand and find out what food is going to be offered and try to match it as much as possible (also think about the fact that kids get a piece of cake in their party bag, take a substitute for that too).

Parties held in soft play areas are harder – very rarely do they offer gluten free chips/nuggets etc. However, you can buy microwave chips which simply have potatoes and sunflower oil in – ask the staff of they can heat them up when the rest of the food is served. Pre-cook sausages or nuggets just before the party and pack them in their food box in pretty serviettes. Pop in a tub of tomato ketchup too (most are okay but I found one in a restaurant that wasn’t). When Evie went to a McDonald’s party, I sent her with a homemade gluten free burger and she was totally happy!

Whatever you have to do, it is worth the effort – don’t prevent your child from going to a party because of the food issue. Evie had a party on Friday – this is the first time since she was diagnosed in September that I didn’t stay – I am now confident that she understands what gluten is and will stick to her party box food – the fact I knew and trusted the mum also helped – all was fine and she had a great time!
Thank you for reading this post. If you have any other ideas or tips, please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!
Jill x

Dog Phobia - conquered?!

When Evie was a toddler, she witnessed one of our friend’s daughters becoming hysterical over meeting a dog in the park. Since then, Evie has had a real fear of our four legged friends. Countless times we have spent ages explaining about which dogs are ‘happy dogs’, ‘waggy’ tails and how safe you are when a dog is on a lead. I don’t want her to wander up to any strange dog and try to pat it as you never know, but I wanted her to be confident meeting them in everyday life.
We went onto introducing her to friend’s dogs we trusted, and were lucky if she stroked their backs (the dog’s that is, not our friends!). It has been a long road with plenty of hysterics along the way, but today, we had a break through! We went on a walk with Nanny and Aunty Rene’s two dogs (small ones) and the result was this.....

She gave one of them a doggy treat from the palm of her hand and actually played with them! Yippee! Let’s hope for fear free walks from now on!

Jill x

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Getting messy with gluten free baking...

I LOVE letting the kid’s get messy in the kitchen! Some of my best memories of childhood are cooking with my Mum, licking the spoon, mixing, experimenting. With a coeliac child, it becomes even more important to teach them the basics and love of baking.

To be fair, the offering in the supermarkets is getting better – you can get your hands on chocolate muffins, biscuits, even pain au chocolate but boy, does it COST. A duo of cupcakes can set you back nearly £3, so you imagine what our weekly shop could add up to! The selection also becomes a bit boring after a while too, so there is no way around it, you HAVE to get stuck in and bake, bake, bake (okay, it makes us eat far too much of what we shouldn’t but at least we don’t get suffer for it!).
For beginners to gluten free baking, you MUST check out Phil Vickery’s cook books – he is amazing – his flour mixes make the most gorgeous cakes and goodies – his guidance was such a help when I was first diagnosed. If you follow the recipes, you can’t go far wrong. Check these out....

Phil Vickery Seriously Good Gluten Free Baking at amazon

Product Details Product Details Product Details

Evie got stuck into chocolate cupcakes the other day. She always asks if each ingredient if gluten free, bless her. This is why it is so important you let coeliac kids have hands on - over time she will get more and more confident and realise that you can eat pretty much whatever you fancy as long as you make it yourself.... doughnuts and stuffed pasta are next on the list!


If you have any favourite gluten free recipes, leave a comment and share them!

Jill x

Monday, 8 April 2013

Being made to feel included...

When I first got diagnosed with coeliac, I found that some everyday things, like being asked out to lunch, became stressful. I was embarrassed to be the difficult one, the one who messes up the menu plan! Let’s face it, unless you are familiar with gluten free cooking, it’s a minefield to overcome. After 18 months of it however, I find it far easier – I am more comfortable about being different, am less bothered by it and find it easier to broach the subject.

Today, the girls and I were asked to lunch at Sonia, Simon, Nico (so cute you could eat him!) and Louis’s house. This time, we were lucky as Sonia is familiar with the gluten free concept (one of Nico’s school friends has coeliac too). She made a feast of roast chicken, home-made savoury rice, cold meats and baked potatoes, delicious! Evie felt one of the crowd as everyone was eating the same. Thank you Sonia for making us feel so welcome!
The girls had made some gluten free cupcakes beforehand which we took for pudding...Beth got creative with sugar-paste and food colouring and made these scrummy delights....

 Hope you get some sleep tonight Sonia!
Jill x

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Organisation is the key...

Living with coeliac disease, especially when you have a child who has the condition, means that you have little choice about planning when and where your/their next snack or meal comes from. Gone is the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ approach and in with the strategy.

When it was just me who had been diagnosed, it was less important. I am happy to eat pretty much anything, if there is just a strange fishy curry on offer which is gluten free, I will eat it! I am also able to deal with feeling hungry. For a five year old child, this is not the case. Forward planning is essential, as is taking along a whole host of yummy gluten free snacks to top up little one’s energy levels.

Today, for example, we planned a day out, involving a cold (and snowy!) walk by the sea, followed by a family lunch at the old faithful Wetherspoons. Their menu offers a pretty good range of gluten free options – for an adult. Try taking a child in there! Evie eats a pretty good assortment of foods, but trying to encourage her to eat Pri-Pri Chicken or Spinach Curry is not easy. The old safety net, Jacket Potatoes are also out for the moment (she has never been a fan but I am working on it!). So, Evie, bless her, has a gluten free packed lunch (which I took with us), and amazed me yet again, by not uttering a single complaint or whinge (she would have been well within her rights), as she sat and watched her big sister plough her way through a plate of nuggets and chips. She was only diagnosed in September – I certainly wouldn’t have taken that situation any where near as well at that stage. However, to soften the blow, I had taken in a little something for afters....

Spot the difference!

...a gluten free chocolate muffin to eat with her ice-cream! One happy bunny.