Food Allergies and Free From magazine

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Elaine from Fun as a Gran blog explores food allergies and the great desserts you can make by using a few clever alternatives - we're talking food allergies and Free From magazine!

Allergies seem to be much more prevalent these days, or is it just they make the news more? Having a child with food allergies is not ideal, but then you have no choice but to get on with it. I know when I was born, as when my eldest was born with lactose intolerance then the only option was early weaning. There was no recommendation then for alternative milks.

Six years after my eldest was born my son came along and he had the same issue. They both had been fine while I was breastfeeding, obviously because I was not ingesting much of what they could not have but when I started supplementing them both with bottles at about eight weeks old they both started to suffer quite badly.

Luckily enough by the time my son was born there was a new soya baby milk on the market, powdered milk made in the same way as any other bottle, one scoop to an ounce. This was only available from either the Health Visitor on baby clinic day or on prescription. My son ended up having this on prescription until he was sixteen. The stuff smelled quite horrible and curdled when you put it in a hot drink, it did not boil well but you could use it for things like custard or white sauce that had something in to bind it together. I use to supply it to his school so he could get cake and custard along with the other children. By some strange coincidence the only three children our GP had seen with lactose intolerance were two of mine and another wee boy born a few days after my son who had the same first name.

My children at times did get annoyed by the intolerance but soon learnt to accept it as normal for them. They were not tempted to eat chocolate and things because they knew the impact it had on their skin and their breathing. My son was not so cautious with other foods , giving him a glass of coke gave a volatile reaction, he became the monster from hell, the sort of child you would ban your children from playing with. Luckily enough the other parents in the housing scheme knew him and also fed him accordingly if they were handing out treats during school holidays.
Taking my children out to eat was difficult, places just did not cater for the issues we presented to them.

Fast forward to now and food outlets have to be aware of allergies and cross contamination. Menus should show the allergens it contains, and staff should be trained on the subject. So many more places make dairy free or gluten free alternatives. Sadly for my grandson he has taken all the food intolerance problems in our family and escalated a lot of them up to full blown allergies. He cannot eat any dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, soya or various uncooked fruits.

birthday boy

You can buy a huge variety of gluten free flours which allows you to use different types for different recipes to give a better finished result for the product you are making. I think for any child the highlight of their year has to be a birthday cake. As of yet we have never found anywhere that is willing to make one for my grandson, but by combining ingredients that are readily available in any supermarket these days I can make a very acceptable cake that he is over the moon with.

One of the best ideas ever is Aqua Fabia, the water from a tin of strained chick peas that whisks up to make a stunning meringue; this along with some coconut cream makes for a great pavlova. Even the cheese and biscuit course can be catered for now with a good choice of dairy free cheese that actually tastes like cheese and not chewy sweaty old socks. Who would ever of thought thirty years ago that I would be making egg and dairy free pancakes? Or peanut butter cookeis without soya, or peanut butter that you would never know was nut free? With so many milk alternatives it is easy to make a milky jelly and some custard, which allows for an easy trifle.

I have seen huge changes over the generations not only to the amount of products available but the attitude of manufacturers and eating places to actually accepting people with food allergies as normal, and welcoming them into their establishments and catering for them. They must realise this is becoming a large part of their selling market and there is profit to be made from catering to their needs.

Christmas is a time that often revolves around food, buffet meals, party evenings, not to mention the Christmas Dinner itself. But there is little need for people with allergies to miss out anymore.
I love that you can go into a shop and buy a magazine, like Free From Heaven and get some recipe ideas from it. A Free From Heaven magazine subscription makes things super easy to use, and very informative.  Not only are the recipes listed in sections, breakfast recipes, lunchtime, midweek meals, desserts, sweet treats, they also tell you on them if they are GF, SF, DF, EF, or vegetarian. They also give you the green amber and red warnings on your protein, carbs, sugars, fats, and salts. I liked the addition of informative articles, this time we have one on the importance of carbs. I know these have always been a controversial subject for a long time.

bundt cake

This month's magazine has a handy Christmas bakes section so there really is no excuse not include the whole family - allergies and all. You might think it is easy just to substitute gluten free flour for normal flour etc but sadly it is not as easy as that. There are many varieties of GF flour out there from tapioca, rice, potato to name but a few and they all absorb liquids differently, therefore recipes need to be tailored accordingly, hence the need for magazines like this.

I think I will have to have a go at the wreath cake. Looks great made in the bundt tin. I think for Christmas I am tempted  to use red and green icing instead of the chocolate topping, just for a more festive look. We always make mince pies by rolling out gluten free bread, spreading butter on it and by putting the butter on the outside achieve an easy pastry alternative (it makes great sausage rolls along with some gluten free sausages). We always leave out some allergy free treats for the elves as well (my grandson reckons that some of them must have allergy issues too).

Tempted to swap the flour and eggs for alternatives? Try a Free From Heaven magazine subscription, perfect for festive feast inspiration!

This is a guest post via the blogger network.

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