Stress-free sleepover

Jack has just been for a BBQ sleepover at a friends house…and for the first time ever (outside of immediate family), he was staying with people who truly understand food allergies! It was by far, the least stressful stay away ever, as they have children who’s allergies put together make the family wheat, dairy, egg and soya free. Hurrah!!

Given our stress free evening, he can almost be forgiven from staying up all night and asking to be collected at 7.30am…. Almost!

Sick of the sight of hospitals!

I’ve not given up on my blog – honest! I will be writing more very soon, but the family has been plagued by ill health and emergency hospital visits so my focus has been elsewhere.

This weekend it is my father’s 70th birthday party. He doesn’t know it yet, but my brothers and I are organising a surprise gathering for him and I am about to get my apron on to cook up all sorts of treats tomorrow ready for the feast. Like I have said before, 99% of the food on offer will all be gluten, egg, dairy, soya and celery free. It’s so much easier to do it this way so that the boys can freely choose their own food without the worry of picking ‘unsafe’ items which plagues them at most social gatherings.

Apart from the cake and stack of mouthwatering, maple syrup drenched mini pancakes I am making, I shall also rustle up garlic bread and rolls, mini pizzas, pasta salads, thyme crackers, cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, and a vegetarian tart to boot – all alongside the general array of dips, tortillas, salads and strawberries. I’ll try and remember to take some photos of the event to show you.

I hope you have as good a weekend as I am going to have!


Anapen recall

I just took a call at work from my husband telling me that he heard a newsflash that the Anapen adrenaline injector is being recalled.

Having googled the recall, apparently we are hearing it from the news channels first as the manufacturers issued the press release without informing hospital allergy centres.

To confirm I rang our GP practice and they have confirmed the voluntary recall here in the UK saying it is due to possible dosing irregularities which may occur due to the properties of the plastic needle sheath used to deliver the adrenalin.

I’m guessing that Anapen patients will be called by their hospitals or GP practices shortly to offer replacement adrenalin injectors – most likely Epipens. If you don’t get a call, pick up the phone and sort it yourself.

However, there doesn’t seem to be much cause to panic! Be assured that here in the UK we are being ultra cautious. Other countries who use the Anapen more widely are not recalling them yet. France use it much more routinely and they are sitting on the fence until more tests are done.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the recall might be due in part to the Anapen adversely affecting at least one person…but no! I gather that no-one has be let down by the pen so it would seem that the manufacturer really is just playing safe.

Here’s the latest update from the BBC

I’ll bring more updates as I find them…

Allergy and Free From Show – a Must this Weekend

If you can get yourself to London this coming weekend (18th-20th May 2012) you won’t regret it.  The ‘Allergy and Free From Show’ at London’s Olympia represents the largest gathering of people suffering from food allergies and those providing products and services for them.

There is a ticket charge on the door, but if you follow this link now, you can preorder FREE TICKETS and get them emailed to you.

Over 150 individuals and companies are exhibiting their wares, from food and drink, to skin products and cosmetics, allergy solutions and demos.

Specifically aimed at those with allergies, food intolerances, Coeliac Diseases (and other autoimmune diseases), chemical sensitiviteis, eczthma, asthma, hayfever and a host of other respiratory and skin conditions. Don’t let this pass you by…

5 great reasons why Coconut Oil is good for you

Isn’t it lovely when you meet someone who is genuinely kind and considerate and on your wavelength?

I was in our local health food shop in Colchester (Natural Foods run by John) buying some more dairy free chocolate a few days ago, and I met a real gem of a woman. Rose and I struck up a conversation about Coconut Oil, and she was extolling the virtues so much that I couldn’t wait to find out more on the internet. Why Coconut Oil is so good for you

As many of you may know, there has been lots of controversy surrounding the use of Coconut Oil in cooking as it contains saturated fat and was thought to be bad for you. Indeed, I tried using it in cooking in the past but had bought the ‘wrong’ kind (refined and hydrogenated) and after some research, had decided it was not for me on health grounds. However, Rose was so persuasive and so passionate about the benefits of using Coconut Oil, that having researched it again some 4 years later, I thought I’d share what I’ve found out. Far from being a health disaster, it would seem that Coconut Oil is, in fact, exceedingly good for you.

5 health benefits of using Coconut Oil in cooking

1. Coconut Oil is a ‘saturated fat’, but although it was until recently thought to be very bad for you in terms of heart disease etc, it is now known that the oil in Coconuts is of a very different composition and possesses many health benefits. Unlike almost all other fats we eat (animal and vegetable) which consist of long chain fatty acids, Coconut Oil is made of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). The difference is important because it is the long chains that cause heart disease and artherosclerosis (furring up of our blood vessels leading to high blood pressure) not the medium chains. So Coconut Oil actually lowers the risk of these diseases.

2. Coconut OIl is broken down into lauric acid and then to monolaurin by the body. These compounds, especially monolaurin, have been shown to possess excellent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties able to halt the growth of, or even kill off, some of the most dangerous viruses and bacteria around. In addition, Coconut Oil offers good anti fungal and anti yeast properties. Useful, therefore, in helping prevent some very commonplace problems like candida overgrowth (thrush).

3. Virgin Coconut Oil is one of the very few oils that is not damaged by heating. Many of the oils we use regularly are degraded by heating and can become toxic with increased heat. Eating them can lead to artherosclerosis, inflammatory joint disease and even birth defects. It also has a very long shelf life and doesn’t start to degrade if not used fairly quickly like olive, sunflower and our other regular choices.

4. Coconut Oil improves digestion and helps the body to absorb minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Because it is made from medium chain triglycerides, it does not need extra enzymes in order for it to be broken down in the body allowing your digestive system to concentrate on absorbing the nutrients it does need.

5. It provides an immediate source of energy as it is so easily digested and quickly metablised. This helps in maintaining a steady weight, and according to some researchers, can even help you to lose weight by boosting your metabolic rate. The medium chain fatty acids are matabolised much faster than the long chain fatty acids that make up 98% of our diets in the western world, thus they don’t hang around for long enough to be layed down as fat in our bodies.

There are huge lists of Coconut Oil benefits when you begin researching, but I think the 5 I have raised are among the most important deciding factors when considering a switch away from ‘regular’ oils.

Let me know what you think? Would you switch from olive, sunflower or whatever other oil you currently use? I am, as always, interested in your comments!

10 positive outcomes of having food allergies

Coping with multiple food allergies isn’t all bad news.. I know it’s a real pain having them, but tonight I started to write a list of the positive benefits of having food allergies…and you know what? I think there are more positives than I originally would have believed!

10 great benefits to having food allergies.

1. Nearly all our meals are made from fresh, raw ingredients – no additives, preservatives or chemicals must mean positive benefits for health.

2. Learning how to cook food free from gluten, diary, egg, soya and celery has given me a real desire to get creative and find ways of producing foods that are similar to those our boys can no longer eat…and it has been a hugely satisfying journey to discover new ways of approaching cooking.

3. Seeing me cook proper meals, cakes, biscuits etc from scratch has given our boys a good understanding of how ingredients come together to make our food.

4. It has also caught their imagination and they all like to help out in the kitchen, and our eldest now asks to cook meals for us all from time to time.

5. We tend to eat at the table together as I tend to cook a traditional family meal, and at a time where so many families are losing this habit, it is nice to be able to talk and catch up with each other during, but especially at the end of the day.

6. As a family, we can no longer eat outside of our home or the homes of our closest family and friends so holidays are a little different to what they were. Yet although we can’t go to hotels, we bought a large tent and discovered a love of camping. Nothing beats the sense of real family togetherness than when you’re wrapped up with a hot chocolate in the tent, playing cards around a table until late into the evening. The boys love it and of course I can cook for them safely and we can all relax.

7. Over the years of experimenting with food, I have discovered ingredients I never knew existed and have tried some weird and wonderful things along the way. The children are much keener to try new things than they were before they were diagnosed, and as long as it comes from my kitchen, they trust the fact they won’t get ill.

8. The boys simply cannot eat huge amounts of sweets as 90% are off limits so their teeth should be protected from the effects of a diet high in sugar.

9. Because they cannot eat high fat fast food, the risk of heart disease and obesity must be much lower for them all.

10. The boys are very protective of each other and carefully check new things together to see if they can eat them. With all three affected, there is a strong bond between them as very few others around them truly understand what it’s really like not to be able to pick up whatever you fancy on the shelves in the local shop.

It helps us to think of our allergies as a challenge we are dealing with and succeeding in!