Saturday, 16 May 2015

3 Ingredient Pineapple Cake

I couldn't believe it when someone share this recipe on the Facebook Recipe Resource wall. I mean, we've tested and adapted a couple of brilliant and really simple cake recipes, but this one tops the lot!! For those unfortunate enough to be allergic to pineapple, stewed brambly apples would work pretty well and I plan to test that soon.

This took a minute to whizz up, 50 minutes to bake and much less for the troops to demolish. There is NONE left. Can't be bad, eh?




Ingredients

  • 2 cups your choice of self raising flour - I used Dove's Farm
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 440g can of crushed pineapple - of blend a can of sliced pineapple like I did.
Method
  • Blend the pineapple chunks or slices if required. KEEP all the juice, do NOT drain it off
  • Combine all three ingredients well and transfer to a alb loaf tin
  • Bake at 180C (170C in a fan oven) for 50 minutes.
That's IT. 

I doubt it would keep well, but to be honest there wasn't much need here!! One of the best egg free cakes I've come across.

Why we need a culture shift on medical research in children - for Eosinophilic Awareness Week

Yesterday BBC News reported that the Nuffield Council on Bioethics called for “a culture shift in medical research to make sure children can take part.”

I’m sure many would have the (understandable) knee jerk response that using children as guinea pigs isn’t top of their list for culture change, the more extreme response I heard on social media was that this group advocated using children as “lab rats”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most new medicines today are designed for adults, with adults as the target user group. Not only does this mean children are faced with fewer options for treatment but doctors have to guess the appropriate paediatric dose for these medicines. Worse still, fewer drugs are licensed for children - and only tertiary level care can prescribe drugs for children without a paediatric license, and then at their own risk. The licensed drugs are not necessarily safer just because they have been around a while either - medical research and knowledge moves fast, the older drugs often give an inferior form of treatment.

Perhaps most worrying is that children break down drugs at a different rate to adults so doctors are really basing their paediatric dose on guess work. The risks involved potential more than outweigh any considered risk of participating in research. You might think this only affects a small percentage of people - but you would be very wrong, and it’s something we are acutely aware of here.



Three of my children have Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease, which as an “emergent disease” doesn’t have a clearly defined treatment protocol. Treatment usually comprises of symptom management and a few more risky options for the worst affected. For their reflux, all three are on proton pump inhibitors. At the maximum dose - and have been for YEARS. There is no license for that, no data for long term use in children, so we agonise regularly over the decision to keep them on these medicines. Then there are the pain medicines - the dosage difficult to titrate and resulting in neutropenia (low white blood cell count) and other health risks.

Next week is Eosinophilic Awareness Week, a debilitating condition involving non IgE allergic responses to food and environmental proteins, now thought to be autoimmune in nature. You can read about EGID here and on the FABED charity site here.



So this BBC news article was really relevant to us.

Gastro research is drastically UNDER FUNDED. It is not "glamorous" and rarely on the radar for celebrities and focus groups, and rarely attracts public interest unlike cardiac care and cancer research. Gastro conditions are badly neglected in the UK when it comes to research funding allocation but without research treatment and outcomes are not likely to improve much.

Approximately 1% of the total amount of medical research funding available in the UK can be accessed for Gastro research. There are currently no listed projects specifically for Eosinophilic Disorders on the National Research database. Gt Ormond Street Hospital have a Gastro Research Project that will include related conditions/problems and FABED is the main UK charity supporting families with members (adult and children) who suffer from eosinophilic disease.




FABED are also the UK partners supporting the United States Eosinophilic Awareness Week next week, coordinated by APFED. Two years ago they made this video to promote awareness. Read more about Eosinophilic Diseases here.

So next week, do something to raise awareness. Tell someone about EGID and the appalling lack of funding for gastrointestinal disorders in the UK. Discuss the ethics of testing drugs on children and don't make knee jerk responses to new reports. Because as Prof Modi said this week: "Of course decisions involving children are never easy, but this should not be an excuse for inaction; the danger of not developing the evidence base is far greater than the risks of recruiting young people to well-run, carefully regulated programmes."

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Crunchy Millet Flapjack/Granola style Biscuits

Once again our Facebook Group has come up trumps and member Livy Dickinson has created a fab recipe for her daughter, who is on a few food diet.  Searching for something palatable, portable and safe she has come up with the following, a crunchy granola style bite (could be a bar) which is really tasty,



Ingredients

  • 250g Millet flakes 
  • 150g Coconut oil 
  • 125g Brown sugar 
  • 4/5 tbsp Golden syrup 
  • (2 tbsp dried blueberries- optional) 

Method
  •  Simply combine and either spread in a tin (as in picture) or in paper cases/greased cupcake wells
  • Bake at 180C for approx 20mins @ 180. 

These are hard/ solid/ crunchy, not soft and squidgy like usual flapjacks. They're very like Nature Valley Crunch bars in texture, so not suitable for very young children.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Homemade Granola

My daughter decided she wanted to make her own granola, fed up with watching her older brother eating Country Crisp no doubt! I searched online for some ideas and we came up with this, but you can put pretty much whatever you like in! The main thing is to (mostly) coat the oats before baking.



Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 125ml maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g gluten free rolled oats
You really can add as many or as few of the following ingredients as you like. The above are essential, although I would reduce the oil and syrup slightly if omitting most of the seeds and berries.
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g dried berries 
  • 50g desiccated coconut


Method

  • Heat oven to 150C 
  • Mix the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. 
  • Tip in all the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit and coconut, and mix well. 
  • Tip the granola onto two baking sheets and spread evenly. 
  • Bake for 15 mins, then mix in the coconut and dried fruit, and bake for 10-15 mins more. 
  • Allow to cool
  • Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Allergy Awareness Week and #livinginfear - top tips for teachers

This week is Allergy Awareness Week and this year Allergy UK are focussing on the fear most people with severe allergies live in every single day of their lives.

Did you know?

BRITAIN is in the grip of a major allergy crisis, with millions of sufferers at risk of dying because of a terrifying lack of life-saving awareness among the public? And those not at risk from life threatening allergic reactions are living compromised lives in fear of chronic pain and illness?


Allergy UK are raising awareness of the fears of allergy sufferers this week and are asking people to get involved on Twitter. You can join the awareness campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #livinginfear and tweeting a picture of yourself with your biggest fear. My allergies are hugely restricting though and have had a massive impact on my life- and continue to do so. But as a mum, my biggest fears are for my children, who are more profoundly affected by allergy. 
So here's my photo:-



Children with food allergies can feel isolated in school as well as elsewhere. So much of their lives, of our society revolves around sharing food. And as with children who suffer from disabilities or chronic illness children with food allergies often lack independence. Food is a basic human need, but for kids with food allergies this basic daily task is fraught with anxiety and the need for constant vigilance. It’s also a fundamental step in growing up to gradually sever the feeding bond with your mum, but imagine if your mum was the only person you could trust to feed you? It’s pretty restricting. My nine year old twins rely on me totally for their food, school cannot cater for them and neither it seems can anywhere else. They are most definitely very “attached” to me still, and I now understand why. (You can read more about food allergy and independence here.)

Isolation in school is a particular concern for me, my children are mostly well accommodated in school but cannot participate in cooking sessions, many trips, school lunches etc and constantly feel "different". Other parents are anxious about inviting them home to play as food is such an integral part of entertaining, and consequently they feel even more isolated in school.

So here are my "Top Tips" for teachers (I was one once too!) to help reduce isolation in school:-
  1. Plan ahead. Most mums of kids with allergies will bend over backwards to help their child and will be only too happy to provide ingredients, advice and reassurance. (Just don’t contact them late the night before you are baking to request a list of ingredients!)

  2. Listen. Mums really do know their children best and are usually just following instructions from health professionals. Whilst there are undoubtedly a few who are over anxious and possibly ill-informed the vast majority will have genuine concern and want to keep their child safe - whilst not wanting to restrict the enjoyment of any other child in the class.

  3. Keep food treats in school to a minimum, or (as our children’s teachers did) plan ahead and ask for a safe treat for the allergic child.

  4. Ensure safety doesn’t stop fun. It’s vital all children are safe in school, but that doesn’t mean children cannot have fun. Safety must also be age appropriate too. So at age nine my twins can cope with baking something they know they must not eat, but are supervised when they do. A Reception age child could never cope with this! Similarly, making the child who carries an Epipen for a dairy allergy your class milk monitor isn’t a very wise idea!! (It happened to us though!)

  5. Avoid making the child who IS different feel different. Pretty obvious, but subtlety is key. Substituting safe chocolate in the class advent calendar and making a note of the date for the allergic child to take it is far, far better than leaving them to come to you to swap their treat in front of others.

  6. Food still needs to be fun though, and even children with allergies need positive experiences with and around food. You can substitute many ingredients easily, there are recipes for children on exclusion diets on The Recipe Resource ( http://thereciperesource.blogspot.co.uk) and lots of other sites too!

  7. Tackle the “Healthy Eating” message tactfully. With recent research to demonstrate that fats are not always the bad guys, the message is becoming slightly blurred anyway, but children with food allergies are missing important proteins from their diet, and often important fats too. Our twins were wisely told by a senior dietician that they need plenty of fatty foods like chips, and oils like olive and hemp oil in their diet as they are dairy free (amongst other things) and miss the natural fats present in dairy food.

  8. Don’t judge. I was once asked why there were concerns about my daughter’s growth when she was clearly very chubby, and that she looked really healthy. Children are all different, but children with food allergies, especially the non IgE ones are prone to poor growth. Poor absorption leads to poor growth - and the body needs to gain mass before it is able to grow upwards. My kids were short and chubby for a long time, sadly it wasn’t a sign of health at all. It’s stressful enough as a parent to navigate life with a child with food allergies, judgement from others is hard to take.

  9. Expect to see more of the parents of kids’ with food allergies. They are not overly fussy, and need reassurance as much as their children. They are your best allies for a smooth year with an allergic child in your class, and dislike being the “bad penny” often feeling embarrassed ad in the way. Any reassurance is much appreciated!

  10. Educate. Obviously - you’re a teacher :) But a tiny bit of knowledge for the allergic child’s peers goes a long way to helping them feel one of the class. There is a simple explanation aimed at Key Stage 1 children here.

Allergies have a serious impact on sufferer's lives, and they are certainly life changing, but we can and should limit the fear they live in. Unfortunately the current situation is almost unbearable for some, and as the excellent article in The Guardian last week explains ignorance about allergy is not helping. This is why awareness is key.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Easter Biscuits

It's the Easter holidays - and it's blowing a gail, with the odd hailstorm thrown in for good measure. All my children want to do when at home is make things, so today we made our favourite shortbread biscuits and decorated them for Easter!



That was my first attempt... then the twins decided to have a go, and the bunnies multiplied, as bunnies are apt to do!


Happy Easter! And if your little ones want to know more about Easter, its traditions and get some art and craft ideas, pop over to see Dorothy of more fun!

http://dorothywhiskers.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/easter-crafts.html

Monday, 16 March 2015

A "Frozen" free from Birthday Cake


A friend of a friend has been really poorly, and her children have food allergies so usually she bakes their cakes herself. So when my friend asked if I could help making a #freefrom cake, of course I said YES!

I decided to use the Chocolate cake recipe here since I'm not an expert at baking egg free, and I knew this was easy and pretty fool proof!

I made two cakes, layered with this Betty Crocker chocolate fudge buttercream mix which does say "may contain traces of milk" which was ok for us. You can make your own with safe margarine and icing sugar though. (You could also use jam in between the cakes.)



The little girl has a nut allergy so nothing I used could say "may contain traces" of nuts. This was a real eye opener for me, as well as many cake decorations containing wheat, the "may contain" is a real issue for nut allergy sufferers, even the fondant icing from many stores said that! I made my own fondant with fondant icing sugar in the end and coloured it with safe colouring. Lastly I had great fun making little Olaf!



I'm really pleased with the result!

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