Paris and Disneyland with allergies

Well we’re back from a lovely but very busy weekend in Paris. It was a bit of a mission for just 4 days – basically 2 days travelling (driving and ferry), 1 day in Disneyland Paris and 1 day in Paris. We had a lovely time, with no allergy-related incidents, but it did highlight some of the difficulties of travelling with food allergies.

On the ferry there was no option for food for the girls other than crisps or apples. The info on board kindly mentioned that they were happy to give the ingredients for all dishes sold on board, but they couldn’t guarantee than any dish didn’t include other ingredients than those listed. Covering their backs basically. Since a cross-channel ferry isn’t really the best place to take risks – this means all food is out of bounds, even usually safe basics like baked beans and toast.

I had obviously packed plenty of food for the trip and the rest of the weekend, including a cinnamon swirl cake, homemade cookies, dairy-free spread, soya-cheese, dairy-free chocolate spread… If you are catering for allergies and travelling you just have to be prepared. For the rest of the journey, again any stops in service stations etc can only really provide crisps (all packs need to be thoroughly checked as lots contain milk) and sweets. Healthy huh!!

We didn’t get time to visit a large supermarket this time, but they do, on the whole, have a great range of soya products – milks, a fantastic range of yogurts and even soya-steaks. However, you must be cautious of some other products – pasta and hummus often contain egg, there is no chance of dairy/egg free biscuits and even tomato ketchup brands often contain milk. However, fresh baguettes are fine – no egg, milk, nuts or sesame – yippee! There are certainly worse things to live off for a few days, than fine French baguettes 🙂

We were self-catering (almost a necessity for us) and managed to get by with taking lots of food, unexciting meals and small grocery stores and bakeries. I’m not sure how we’d manage in a hotel with no cooking facilities!

We again ate a picnic at Disneyland Paris, but having done prior research I was mightily impressed by the allergen-free food available. As I say, we didn’t eat any so I can’t comment on price or quality – but the information suggests there are 3 starters, 4 main courses and 3 puddings which are guaranteed free of the top 25 allergens. Most impressive – well done Disney!

On our day in Paris we ate yet another picnic which was certainly the sensible and cheaper option. We could have eaten out, but for the (non-veggie) girls this would have been ham/steak served with chips and no veg (you never seem to get vegetables served in France, despite seeing the most beautiful ones in markets). Food was fine for big S as she loves chips, but little S won’t eat them and also isn’t very keen on big quantities of meat – so she would have basically only eaten some of the baguette which is served with any meal. Not exactly value for money!

There are wonderful and extremely tempting snacks for sale in France (crepes, patisserie, viennoiserie, gorgeous ice cream, waffles, pizzas, sandwiches), but none are dairy and egg-free. Again our only options are crisps, chips, sweets if we are on the go – absolutely nothing healthy or even vaguely nutritious.

So what am I saying? Well, certainly not ‘don’t go’ – travel is such an enriching thing and especially so for those who may feel fearful of new things. Besides, Paris is so stunning and cool – how could you not want to go? I guess my biggest bit of advice is to be prepared, research in advance, make sure you can get your point across (we’re lucky because D is half French and most French people would be surprised that English is his most natural language, so no situation is a problem) and take lots of suitable and nutritious snacks to keep you going. Most of all, enjoy!

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Blog to watch on Circle of Moms!

Having made a rather late attempt to join the top 25 vegetarian and vegan bloggers on Circle of Moms, I didn’t get very high up the list! But I’m very proud to announce that I’ve been chosen as a blog to watch 🙂

Vegan & Vegetarian Blogs to Watch - 2013

Lucy’s Friendly Foods facebook page…

… now exists! Only just getting it going today, but should any of my lovely blog followers want to find me there, here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lucys-Friendly-Foods/405126389564449?fref=ts

Or you can search for Lucy’s Friendly Foods on facebook.

I set it up and then thought “oh yeah, I’ve got to get people over there now”. Hence this post. Feels a bit weird writing a post that doesn’t have a recipe in. Maybe I should have thrown one in at the end !  🙂

I will of course keep blogging first and foremost. Any facebook advice most welcome.

Lucy x

Coming to terms with a peanut allergy – again!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will be well aware that both my daughters have food allergies, which has been a big inspiration for this blog and for the way I cook at home. It is very stressful looking after children with serious allergies – I’m not talking ‘oh she can have a bit but it gives her an upset tummy’, I’m talking about hives, vomiting, wheezyness, swelling, sneezing, itching….. Somehow, we’ve got used to this situation – it’s not easy and certain circumstances are particularly hard – parties, eating out, other people! However, it does have an upside – I get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of making yummy allergy friendly food for my gorgeous daughters, and they certainly eat less processed, unhealthy food than your average child, but it is definitely a topic that is constantly on our minds.

I had thought that I’d got my head around the whole allergy thing, but Little S’s peanut challenge last Friday has sent my head spinning. We’ve known Little S is peanut (among other things) allergic since she was 6 months old, so we’ve never had an accidental reaction, and until Friday she had never been in close contact with a peanut. Today confirmed that she is definitely allergic to peanuts, she reacted within 30 seconds to the smallest amount of peanut protein (approximately 1/12th of 1 peanut) and whilst she didn’t get near to suffering anaphylaxis, she was still very ill. Who knows what a proper mouthful could do. I guess it’s just brought home the fact that peanuts are a danger that aren’t going away. We’ve been advised to take NO risks – no ‘may contain traces of’ products, no ‘made in a factory that uses’ products, no food cooked in groundnut oil, no eating out in restaurants that use peanuts. It’s all good, sound advice, but I feel freshly stressed – I need to keep Little S safe, but something as silly as a little bit of a peanut could make her seriously ill. I think back to potentially dangerous situations that we have averted (most notably when on her first day of nursery (having stated they were a nut free nursery school) they got a massive sack of peanuts out of the cupboard for the children to feed the birds!!!!) but also wonder about what dangers are to come…

It’s not the worst chronic condition in the world, but it is an added ingredient to the stress of being a parent, and will only become more stressful as she grows up and we have less control.

I feel that I have to do something to help – something to make Little S and Big S’s lives easier, some way of helping allergy sufferers live just like anyone else …… Watch this space…..

Big S and Little S

Olympic Rings Biscuits – Bring on the Games

We’re terribly excited – the London 2012 Olympic Games are starting today. So here are some decorated Olympic Ring Biscuits for us to eat after our back garden Olympics with friends this afternoon – featuring, amongst other sports, cucumber fencing, carrot relay, shot pot (potato shot-put) and the 100m final.

Then the celebrations are going to continue – a BBQ if the sunshine holds and the girls are going to stay up to watch the opening ceremony (until midnight if they want to!) – it should be a day to remember 🙂

(the recipe will follow when I don’t have the pressing need to get to the back garden opening ceremony!!)

Holiday Cooking Lessons

The girls are on their summer holidays from school, so activities and distractions need to be found. I’ve been thinking of ways to expand my blog and thought that cooking classes may be a good idea, so my girls are my guinea pigs to see if it’ll work as a plan. The other day provided the perfect free afternoon.

Over a couple of hours they made their whole supper (bar the sweetcorn chowder) and had a fabulous time getting messy. I even caught Big S willingly munching on salad leaves, much to my surprise and delight.

We started by making a pudding of chocolate crispy cakes, the easiest recipe I could think of. But since it’s a very chocolatey, tactile recipe they thoroughly enjoyed mixing it all together and tasting rather a lot!

Next we made savoury scones to serve with soup – I hadn’t quite anticipated how messy the sticky dough would be, but then that added to the fun. Big S opted for a combination of marmite, oregano, thyme and soya cheese. Little S decided on a plainer version with just soya cheese. They turned out remarkably light and delicious considering the heavy handed treatment they were subject to!

Finally, they made a fresh salad with a tasty vinaigrette… which proved to be the perfect way to encourage vegetable eating

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News from Yesterday (and an excuse to have lunch at Wahaca South Bank Experiment)

Update from Little S’s clinical trial day yesterday – we got there late due to a cancelled and delayed train scenario – typical! Little S immediately met the play specialist and got stuck into some serious Olympic Torch sticking, meanwhile we chatted to the doctors and nurses about the ins and outs of the day ahead. The doctor listened to her chest and decided there was a slight wheeze and since they/we don’t want to take any additional risks the whole thing has been postponed until September – Phew!

So we were free in London for the day and had a fabulous time. Lunch was at the new Wahaca Mexican street food pop up on the South Bank. It’s a cool and fun concept – Wahaca’s signature tapas-style small Mexican dishes served within the setting of a pile of (fabulously) converted shipping containers.

The food was nice and pretty authentically Mexican, but not really amazing. That might be a bit over-critical as it only sells itself as street food. My criticism was that the vegetarian options were fairly limited, and vegan ones almost non-existent. Due to the heavy use of chilli and cheese in most dishes Little S had to have plain grilled corn on the cob to go with her homemade sandwich, followed by some crunchy and delicious churros (definitely on the ‘to make’ list).

My dish of black bean quaesadillas was fairly tasty, but a little bland – maybe an addition of a salsa/relish would have helped, or sharper cheese. It was pretty ‘neutral’. We also had a speciality dish of cactus tacos – the cactus and courgette filling was very soft and not totally to my liking, but the crispy cheese and very hot sauce topping certainly gave it some interesting tangy notes. Corn tortilla chips were lovely – thick, crunchy and very corny and the guacamole was adequate but not amazing for a restaurant where it should be a speciality – more coriander, chilli and lime would have been nice. The highlight of the meal (other than the churros) was the citrus fizz – a lovely non-alcoholic mojito of mint leaves, lime, sugar and fizzy water – delicious!

After lunch D went home to work and since Big S was being looked after by her grandmother for the day, Little S and I had some quality time – we wandered around Covent Garden, popping into cool shops and posed by the Olympic mascot figures that are dotted about. It was bundles of fun – Little S has now decided that she loves shopping. 🙂

Thank you so much to everyone who left kind messages on yesterday’s post – you are all such lovely people x

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Festival Fun

So we’ve dragged Big S off the sofa a bit earlier than we should to spend the weekend at a local festival…. And by local, I mean 8 miles away local! She isn’t back to full strength…. She looks pale and tired and is very quiet but the sunshine and fresh air should do her good…. And anyway we can get home in ten minutes should we need..

The food options are pretty limited if you have allergies at a festival, especially such a small one. There isn’t even a vegan food stall here. It’s mainly a choice of chips, chips or more chips! So it’s plenty of picnic food and homemade snacks for us. Other than the highlight of churros later this afternoon…. Hot, sugary, doughnutty sticks…. Mmm, yum!

This is my first ever mobile post, hence no recipe for now…. But it may inspire one next week.

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Warning: Ecover Camomile Washing Up Liquid contains milk

I was alerted to this rather surprising fact the other day. Ecover Camomile Washing Up liquid contains milk in the form of whey. Not exactly ideal if you have a dairy allergy, you don’t really want to be smearing the allergen all over your dishes whilst doing the washing up. I think an email to Ecover is the order of the day…

One Lovely Blog Award

This is a delayed response to a very kind and welcome award nomination from the fantastic The Misfit Baker. If you haven’t checked out her blog do so as soon as you can, it’s beautifully written with gorgeous recipes and definitely worth following.

The rules are as follows:

  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
  • Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.
  • Tell them 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other blogs you like for this award.
  • Contact the bloggers that you have chosen to let them know that they have been nominated.
  • Resume blogging your regular posts.

The 7 facts about myself are:

  1. I seem to be rubbish at making decisions
  2. I think about allergies an awful lot
  3. I cook more than gets eaten!
  4. I love yoga
  5. I’m scared of heights
  6. I can’t wait for the London Olympics
  7. I love the smell of orange blossom

My 15 fabulous nominated bloggers are:

  1. http://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/
  2. http://veganbloggersunite.wordpress.com/
  3. http://zestybeandog.wordpress.com/
  4. http://fromthekitchenofeloise.wordpress.com/
  5. http://luminousvegans.wordpress.com/
  6. http://tabkhetelyom.com/author/ninabaydoun/
  7. http://burlesquebaker.wordpress.com/
  8. http://creativenoshing.wordpress.com/
  9. http://susartandfood.wordpress.com/
  10. http://thisisrocksalt.com/
  11. http://thebearandtheblackberry.wordpress.com/
  12. http://vegease.wordpress.com/
  13. http://livliveslife.wordpress.com/
  14. http://morethangreens.wordpress.com/
  15. http://veghotpot.wordpress.com/

Thank you all (and especially the Misfit Baker) for your wonderful blogs, they have all enriched my life…