Bonfire Night & the best gluten free hotdogs

With Halloween now done and dusted and an extra hour in bed since the clocks have gone back, we head into winter with our darker nights in the search for the best gluten free hotdogs.

Not my favourite time of year, but it’s not so bad as you get to see the fireworks on November 5th, bonfire night , showing up all the fireworks in the dark sky.

Whilst you are dressed up warm to watch the fireworks, what are you going to give your child to eat so that they too enjoy the full experience?

Bonfire Night Food

When it is cold, and you are outside, you want easy, fun food that is pleasing to eat and definitely warming.

As a child on Bonfire night, we had sausages, baked beans, chilli & baked potatoes. But typically, my GF child doesn’t like baked potatoes. If its not a potato disguised as a chip or a crisp, she isn’t going to eat it!

So it will be about hotdogs for us. As she loves a hotdog. But what about the buns? Gluten free bread is so hit and miss. So here are our top suggestions.

Our Suggestions

Gluten Free Bread is very divisive. But here the ones that I’ve found suitable in our search for the best gluten free hotdogs.

Promise Supersoft White Sandwich Rolls.

£2.80 from Sainsburys for a pack of four. These are my GF child’s favourite currently. They are soft, fluffy and freeze well. They defrost quickly and can be popped in the microwave to defrost quickly – but do leave it to cool before cutting it or it just goes squishy to nothing. If you fancy having a brown hot dog roll they do a multi seed one too.

Tesco white hotdog rolls.

£1.80 for a pack of four. These we haven’t tried, but found them recently. They are slightly smaller than the Promise ones, but they are soft in the packaging. They are a good price, and with all the trimmings of a hotdog I’m sure will do the job.

Schar Baguette Rolls

Schar do make hotdog rolls – they are yet to be available over here in the UK. I saw them recently on an Instagram post from the USA. Hopefully they’ll be available one day, as their Schar hamburger buns are great. They’ve baguettes that would potentially work, though they are a little tougher for a hotdog bun. £2 for two.


But what sausages are you going to use? Proper butcher sausages with a high meat content or more processed meat ones?

Again, it’s down to preference. I prefer a high meat content but my daughter’s favourite ones are from the Co-Op.

We’ve tried lots of sausages over the past 3 years looking for the best gluten free hotdogs. The Co-op ones are a good value, as are the bulk packet from Tesco. If you like fresh ready to cook sausages, then these pork ones are good too.

Many of the processed hotdogs have wheat in them so you need to always check the labels. The ones that I have in the cupboard for emergencies.

Aldi – 8 Bockwurst Sausages – no gluten containing ingredients. Sorry I can’t remember the price or see it online. Asda have a Wikinger brand that online shows no gluten containing ingredients but again check the label. £1.90

Ye Olde Oak – £1.60-£2 – Do check. These chicken sausages are made from mechanically separated meat. On the Ocado website they state ‘may contain’, on the Asda site they don’t. Nor does it state it on the packaging I have at home. Check the label.


Now, when you’ve had your fill of hotdogs, what will you have for dessert? Whilst I often stayed away from brownies when I was running a cake business, when I did put them into a box, they were incredibly popular. So many times it is the only offering that a gluten free person gets. But there are brownies & there are BROWNIES!. It just so happens they are going into the boxes this month so you can make your own at home. My own special secret recipe! You’ll only find out what it is by getting a box.

The brownies were described by a friends daughter as “the best brownies in the world ever”. I’m not going to argue with her! To check out our monthly baking kits and subscribe to our gluten free baking kits, click here.

How to survive Halloween with your Coeliac Child

It’s Halloween. This year we can go Trick or Treating, Covid permitting. But how do you survive Halloween with your Coeliac Child? How do you negotiate Trick or Treating when your child is gluten free or has Coeliac Disease?

It can be tricky in many ways. Maybe your child is used to going Trick or Treating but has now been diagnosed. Maybe they’ve never known any different, or never even been Trick or Treating.

My daughter had been Trick or Treating since she was little, initially just around the square where we lived. Both children enjoyed dressing up, decorating the house, carving the pumpkins that were grown by grandpa. Having fun without even thinking about it.

But then came the diagnosis of Coeliac Disease & changes were required to negotiate ‘normal’ events.

How to you survive Halloween with your coeliac child? With a little pre prep & planning!!

Gluten Free Little Cook – Spooky Spectacular Baking Kit

Plan ahead

Whether you are attending your first Halloween Party or your first trick or treat trip out having been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, having a plan will help alleviate the panic in the first place.

Our first Halloween with her Trick or Treating involved several neighbours having a special box just for her with suitable sweets in. But, when you’re 9 you want to have some freedom to go to other houses with your friends (albeit with an adult in tow!).

So we devised a strategy. We had learnt what kind of sweets are suitable for those with Coeliac Disease and we only buy those for people calling at our house. In turn, we would take out the few sweets that were her favourites and keep them to the side. She’d put a couple in her pocket if she wanted a sweet whilst wandering around.

We then would go Trick or Treating. We’d call at any houses that had pumpkins or decorations, and choose a treat that was wrapped. That’s the first consideration. Don’t choose unwrapped sweets. It minimises cross contamination.

We then didn’t worry too much on what wrapped sweet she chose. She was taking part and that is what mattered most.

How to survive Halloween with your Coeliac Child

Sort and Swap

Once we’d finished going round, we would go home & tip out the haul on a tray in the kitchen. We’d then sort through them.

Any that were not suitable, unknown or no ingredients on them, would be removed swapped with her sister or the safe selection we had sorted earlier that evening. Then any unknown sweets would be added to our trick or treat box for callers to our house.

It takes the effort out of the guessing, searching through a box to find a suitable sweet, removes the disappointment at not getting something from someone’s bucket at a house.

It alleviates the stress for you, the worry for them and helps them feel normal, that they are participating in regular everyday events, just like everyone else.

Coeliac UK have an online list – check there if you have any queries.

What are your top tips?

How to survive a Halloween Party with a Gluten Free Child

How will you help your gluten free child survive a Halloween party? It’s time for Halloween, parties & trick or treating.

Just when you think it’s sorted, another challenge comes along.

It was easier when my GF child was slightly younger. As a parent you can control most things. But heading to teenage years, they want to be like their friends, join in, go out.

It starts getting tricky.

This year it’s about Trick or Treating and Halloween parties. Trick or Treating I’ve got covered for next week. Today it’s about parties. Halloween or otherwise.

Gluten Free Little Cook – Spooky Spectacular Baking Kit


If it’s a party, you’ll need to talk to the hosting parent (see our ebook with handy hints & a printout for hosts). We’ve always had good friends who have gone out of their way to accommodate my GF child. It’s probably easier to supply food for your child to take, so find out what they are planning & send the GF equivalent. Hot dogs (highly recommend the Promise hotdog rolls). We seem to go through a fair few of these nowadays and keep a pack in the freezer.

If they are having oven chips then if they could use normal chips without a wheat coating & if they are mindful of cross contamination, those would be suitable for your child. Ideally they need to be served first – especially if they chips are out on a buffet table where everyone helps themselves.

They need to check what they are drinking too. They mustn’t share a drink, can’t drink shop own cola (often contains barley) so a cup that is labelled or different may help minimise cross contamination.

Surviving Halloween – Gluten Free Cupcakes

Gluten Free Cupcakes & Treats

And for a treat, for the Halloween party my GF child is attending, it’s going to be cupcakes galore. Spooky monsters, with Halloween sprinkles & some cake picks that I’ve got stored away. They’ll go with her to the party. The party host has enough going on, so I’ve offered rather than them have a practice on making GF items when they are baking everything else.

Our few remaining baking kits are in the Shop for some Halloween family fun. All you need in one box; simply add 2 eggs & butter to get your mini monsters making their own.

The cupcakes can be kept in a sealed box until everyone is ready to have one. The GF child should go first before any other potentially gluten fingers get in there. Then, at least, my GF child knows that she can have one if she wants

Then hopefully, there won’t be any accidents or glutening. It’s a daily challenge, & a party raises that challenge, but it’s one we have to embrace & work out so that she can be like her friends and join in.

How will you help your gluten free child survive a Halloween party?

Life with a Coeliac Child

Like any other illness in life, you don’t choose to have it, be ill or have a member of your family be sick. At least with Coeliac Disease you can manage it by diet alone. You can help your body heal and watch the person in front of you turn from being a poorly individual to one that is full of health.

Seeing the difference in my daughter took a while; in fact 3-6 months before there were real signs she was improving. Her system had to go through what felt like a detox. She craved the very foods that made her ill. Her taste buds had to adapt to new flavours. Yes, there is a different taste to some gluten free foods – especially bread. If you’ve been eating normally for a long time, then you and your body adapt & accept those tastes and textures. Going gluten free means that you have to get used to new tastes.

Gluten Free Bread

She was never big on bread, but I tried to find something that she could have as an alternative if she wanted something. Her diagnosis had just come when she finally liked having a homemade hamburger… typical! So we tried various gluten free buns and sandwich slices. Warburtons GF squares won her over for a short time, but they were soon discarded. We tried other types in other supermarkets, some were liked, some were given a quick “no, I’m not eating that”.

Schar have been our go to for the longest. Their hamburger buns (McDonalds use them in Europe – I won’t go into the why can’t we have them over here debate…. yet..) and they are a top favourite in our house. They are hard to find, but well worth it. Asda seem to have them in the most. Their other bread rolls in the freezer are worth a look too. They remind me of continental rolls. Morrisons & Sainsburys stock them regularly & I actually prefer them now to regular bread rolls if we are having burgers. That way, I don’t have to worry about cross contamination, constantly washing my hands, remembering what I have & haven’t touched. It makes life easier!

Getting ahead – make your own garlic bread

Our latest bread that she likes is garlic bread to serve alongside her regular gluten free pasta and homemade chicken soup. I buy Schar ciabatta rolls, slice & fill them with garlic butter made from softened butter, crushed garlic & chopped parsley, maybe a little salt to bring out the flavour. Wrap each individual one up in silver foil, pop in a bag & freeze. Then when she does have pasta & requests a garlic bread, I can grab one straight from the freezer, pop into the oven & 10-15m later, one warm garlic bread to go. Simple & easy.

If only everything in life was as easy as that. There’s a ‘How to’ post on our Instagram account under Top Tips which (I think) is about to be renamed Hints & Tips…. something tips anyway!

Head on over & follow us there to see what we get up to, what I’m making next and what is in our next box.

The October box countdown begins at the end of the week. It’s all about having spooky fun, making chocolate spider cupcakes complete with googly eyes, legs and crunchy bodies. All totally gluten free and edible! Head over to our website to subscribe.

Don’t be afraid to ask “is that gluten free” when eating

Sometimes it’s embarrassing to ask the question “is that gluten free” when you know you’ve already ordered a dish that is supposed to be just that. 

But what if you have doubts about the safety of the food that has just been put in front of you?

  • You don’t want to seem pushy
  • You don’t want to be dramatic
  • You don’t want to be that problem person in the restaurant, have people looking at you like your fussy.

Well, sometimes, you have to do that just that, you have to be that person that asks lots of questions as you don’t want your child to be ill.

I don’t mind asking questions, but, in normal fashion, I tend to blush and go bright red when doing so, it’s just one of those things.  I didn’t like asking questions as a child because of it, but as an adult I tend not to worry, especially if it involves the safety of one of my children.  But if I doubt a dish is safe as I did this weekend, I know I have to. 

And worse still if I’m lunching in a well known restaurant that is particularly good at catering for Coeliacs.  A place that I trusted & had specifically booked for being so.

Why would I question a dish that I’ve specifically ordered to be gluten free so that my child is fed safely?

But I had to as despite constantly stating my child was coeliac & required gluten free food, she’d been served a regular burger & chips. 

What if I hadn’t questioned it?  The family afternoon would’ve been ruined & my child would have been in pain and ill.  And more worryingly, as she hasn’t had gluten in such a long period, would her symptoms have been stronger, different, worse?

It was only by chance as I looked at the dishes in front of us that an alarm bell went off in my head.  I’d read on the menu that the regular burgers came in brioche buns.  I’d forgotten, as we haven’t eaten out in so long, that any GF foods coming out of the kitchen normally have little flags in them.  But I was definitely staring straight at a brioche burger bun on a plate sat in front of my hungry coeliac child.

Gluten Free Burger & chips with a GF flag

As the waitress looked at me, I know for a fact that my face changed.  I’ve an expressive face and a look can convey a thousand words as most mums can. 

“Is that gluten free?” came shooting out of my mouth as I was about to say “tuck in” instead.  The look on the waitress’s face told me all I needed to know.  “I’ll check” she said.  She was back in seconds & the plate was taken away.

How in the ordering process and me stating several times that my child was coeliac and needed gluten free food that it got missed I don’t know.  Everything is automated once the order is taken & put through at the front desk and sent to the kitchen.  One plain (very plain) gluten free burger & chips.  No thorough explanation was offered as to the oversight.  The meal was replaced with a suitable gluten free offering, but there was no reason as to why it was not as ordered in the first place.  Even the waitress at the end apologised and said it shouldn’t have happened. 

I understand human errors occur, but eating something that isn’t gluten free could cause your child much pain and damage it’s an error that shouldn’t occur, specifically when orders are taken electronically and checked again before going out.  When it is your child you must question any food item that you don’t prepare yourself.

  • Do question your server that they have the right gluten free dish
  • Does the restaurant use a specific way to highlight gluten free dishes?
  • Does it come with a flag showing its gluten free?
  • Is it on a different coloured plate?
  • Is it uncut to avoid contamination?

As I’ve learnt this weekend, it is always best to double check.  I wasn’t being rude, fussy or awkward.  I was being a mum, protecting my child, so that she didn’t miss out on the family event that afternoon by being made ill from a simple mistake. 

So whether you are fine asking questions, or blush bright red like me, don’t ever think you’re silly for questioning anything, even if you are in a fully GF restaurant. 

It’s always best to be safe & not sorry. It’s not worth the risk

Has your child just been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease?

What to do when you get that diagnosis

It isn’t easy hearing the news that your child has been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease.

It is heart breaking. But at least you now have a diagnosis as to why they’ve been ill.

What do you do now?

The sense of chaos and overwhelm is undeniable when your child is diagnosed with coeliac disease. But, with a little planning and prep, you can get to grips with it and get your child back on track to the best health possible.

Because that’s all that matters right?

It is the only disease that can be cured by diet alone. Isn’t that just amazing.

But where do you start?

I had to start from scratch, there’s lots to learn, but my free Top Ten Tips will help get you started on your journey ticking off all the little things to know and giving you a good starting guide about Coeliac Disease.

There is so much to think about in the beginning whilst you find your feet; from checking labels, finding foods they like, checking store cupboard essentials and learning how to cook in a different way.

My new book is now available on Amazon, Coeliac Disease & your Child – What every parent needs to know. It’s helping parents, especially mums, so that in the early days their not so overwhelmed. That they don’t have to search the Internet or Facebook groups for answers that should be easily available. There’s enough to be doing. Helping your child is the first step.

I was given leaflets. Lots of them, but many irrelevant to my child. Designed for adults. And when you want to go back for some info, you never remember what was in each leaflet. There had to be a better way.

I want to tell you it can all be managed. It takes a little getting used to, remembering to do things differently, but, once you have those processes in place and know what you are looking for and doing, everything will be fine. I promise.

And that is what you want in the first place. To get your child back on their journey to the best of health.

To help lessen your overwhelm, grab a copy today. It will help, I promise.

For more details on the book click here or head over to Amazon now.

Best wishes


Being Gluten Free – Managing Cross Contamination

Cross Contamination

Managing Cross contamination & being gluten freel. Just the words fill you with dread.  I think it is the scariest part of Coeliac Disease.

But what does it actually mean as a parent of a coeliac child & what happens in your daily life?

Just one crumb can mean the difference between being well and being ‘glutened’ by cross contamination.  Glutened is the term most Coeliacs use when they have accidently consumed gluten.  How your child reacts depends on how long they have been off gluten & on their gluten free diet and what their reactions were before they were diagnosed. 

It’s just a crumb……..

But it’s not just one crumb that’s a visible contaminator.  It’s if someone uses the wrong butter & scrapes their gluten bread with it, dipping their knife into the jam jar, the mayonnaise, mustard, cutting the cheese with a dirty knife on a crummy breadboard.  Sharing bags of crisps, popcorn, sweets are out too as maybe that person or child has just had their regular gluten sandwich, and puts their hand into your child’s crisps…. The risk is too great.

So how do you avoid cross contamination?

Being Gluten Free - Managing Cross Contamination
Managing cross contamination in your kitchen for your coeliac child


Keep your kitchen clean, crumb free and have processes that everyone knows so that any contaminations can be minimised at all times.  Let’s focus on the kitchen and the various risks you may or may not think of.  This is based on how we work our kitchen as I’ve one child with Coeliacs and one without. 

When my daughter was diagnosed, I chose to change pretty much anything that the ‘family’ used as a whole, so that if she grabbed anything, it wouldn’t make her ill.  This included all cereals, crisps & anything I cooked with.

We’ve one corner area in the kitchen that houses the toaster & bread bin. This is the only area that ever has gluten in it.  I stopped baking with gluten flour in 2018 as the potential for contamination was too high.  Flour just goes everywhere & wasn’t worth the risk once diagnosed. See our Top Ten Tips in beginning your gluten free journey.


Cupboards – Once diagnosed, check everything that you use for family cooking.  If you use packet mixes, stock cubes, spices, frozen meals, chips – check to see if they contain wheat/gluten or are a ‘may contain’. 

Your child will need their own butter, jam, spreads.  Squeezy bottles – honey, jam, ketchup come handy here as they are less likely to get a knife dipped into them.

Managing Cross Contamination

Chopping Boards

You have a lovely wooden chopping board.  You use it for everything.  Cutting bread, vegetables, fruit.  It’s cleaned & scrubbed on a regular basis.

Wood however, can harbour the gluten & contaminants so it is best kept just for bread – gluten bread and not for using to cut/chop other items.  We have several plastic boards that can be used specifically for veg/fruit/gluten free items and they can be popped through the dishwasher.


You are cooking a multitude of items, both gluten and non gluten in the oven.  Put the GF items on a separate tray and place at the top of the oven to cook.  This ensures that the GF tray doesn’t get any contamination from drips of non GF food cooking at the same time.


Either have a completely separate toaster for GF and non GF bread to be toasted, or, make use of toaster bags.  Be mindful how you handle the bags & get the toast out of the bag.  Remember they’ve been in a ‘gluten environment’ if it’s a non GF toaster, the outside of the bag is potentially covered in crumbs etc.  We use a pair of tongs to remove the toast/waffle from within the bag.


Stirring – ensure you use separate spoons if you have GF & non GF items in pans on the hob.  Ensure that you have disposed of any wooden spoons and change to silicone ones instead.

It’s hard in the beginning managing cross contamination, but with time, knowledge and processes in place that everyone adheres to, it is possible & becomes second nature.  If your child is older they will learn to question what they are eating, could they read the label to double check its safe, ask if it has gluten in it.  Younger ones learn from following what their parents are doing & learn that they don’t feel poorly any longer. 

And when, a few months down the road, you see your child blossoming again, looking well and not pale, feeling ill or sick, or having a sore tummy, spending hours on the loo, then you will be glad of all the hard work you put into it at the beginning and know that the processes you have in place are working, keeping your child safe & well.

Schools nearly out – bring on the snacking

Managing a Coeliac Childs diet

The children will be home all the time (almost)!!  They’ll be constantly hungry, raiding the cupboards and snacking all the time!!  And managing a child’s coeliac diet is a trial at the best of times.

Constantly eating us out of house and home! And never full……

What do you do? How do you manage with a coeliac child?

We have packed lunches for school – whilst I’ve had conversations with the catering staff at the school, I’m just wary. It isn’t worth the risk, but sometimes it would be nice to just not have to prepare a lunch box in the morning.  I’m fed up preparing them, and by now my coeliac child has had enough eating them too. And I wish my lunchboxes looked like the picture below, but they don’t. I’m just a mum doing my best on a daily basis. It’s all we can do. Just like any other mum.

She doesn’t like sandwiches – never did pre diagnosis either

Occasionally has a pasta salad….

She did like sausages in a Schar bun – the frozen ones are just divine – even I eat them too, Found in Morrisons, Sainsburys and Asda. They were down to £2 last week in Sainsburys!!

She prefers to just have bacon pieces – that I must cook in the morning or in advance.

So, her lunch contains a FreeFrom Oat bar from Tesco for her snack, bacon pieces, an Innocent smoothie pouch, fruit, FreeFrom digestive biscuits, yogurt & a FreeFrom chocolate snack bar.

Not the healthiest of lunches as she’s now decided she won’t have yogurts either.  Her calcium intake has severely dropped the past month – more on that later in the week.

So how do you go about feeding your coeliac children for the school holidays, keep them entertained & ‘full’.  Ever noticed how hard it is to keep a coeliac child full!!

So how do you go about keeping them full?

I have no magic answers, as I’ve taken my eye off the ball slightly with life going on in the background, but with the end of school, its time to try new things, however hard that is and sometimes it’s really hard to just get them to try new things.

Obviously, fresh fruit is a good thing for them to snack on, but how hard is it to get kids to eat fruit?  They are drawn to the snacks, the biscuits, colourful packaging, the sugar that pre-teens and teens seem to be drawn to.

10 Snacks options to try:

  1. Yogurt – a great source of calcium & protein to help their growing bones
  2. Popcorn – the plain types (not covered in sugar) are a nutritious snack & full of antioxidants– mind when giving to young children due to choking
  3. Nuts* – a handful of nuts can be beneficial (not salted ones!).  Almonds are actually seeds and have a great source of fibre, protein & contain vitamin E, selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium & other B vitamins.  *Dependant obviously on age/nut allergies etc.
  4. Raisins – contain iron.  I was told a long time ago that after eating raisins you should eat some cheese which will help neutralise the sugar??  No idea if true – must Google!
  5. Cheese – a piece of good cheese with lunch will boost their protein & calcium too
  6. Carrot/celery sticks and hummus – hummus is made from chickpeas & contains fibre & plenty of antioxidants. 
  7. Energy balls – try making your own?  Not one I’ve tried, but think we need to give it a go.  Normally made from oats (use GF ones), ground nuts, dried fruits & honey.  I had a look online & this one is simple enough by using Gluten Free Oats in the recipe and suitable GF chocolate.  Tesco chocolate chips (80-100g) are suitable.  Check the ingredients for any changes. No Bake Banana Energy Balls
  8. Bell Peppers – naturally sweet.  Dip them in guacamole (make your own by mashing an avocado with a fork, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little garlic & even a couple of teaspoons of yogurt to soften the texture further).  You get good fats from the guacamole, vitamin c from the lemon and antioxidants from the garlic!
  9. Nut butters & Apples – almond butter, cashew butter.  I’ve come to recently like peanut butter on apples too.
  10. Frozen fruit popsicles.  Pick up some refillable/reusable lolly moulds and make your own ice lollies with fruit.  Puree fruit in a blender, add a little water or fruit juice & freeze. I’ve seen some in Home Bargains & Sainsburys.
  11. Rice Cakes – plain or with nut butter/peanut butter

What are your top snack tips or who do you follow for handy hints for food?

My top one to follow is the The Batch Lady on Facebook – if one of her recipes takes my fancy, I just convert it to a gluten free one.  She has some great ideas to prep for food in advance so you always have something in the freezer and are ready for anything.

Four days left of school for us!!

Yay, I think…..

Labels. Is it Gluten Free?

Reading Labels well....

Reading labels is key to Coeliac Disease.  If you can master those, you have the ability and confidence to make informed decisions.

I see on lots of Facebook groups, “can I have this”, “Is this safe”, “is this gluten free”.  Make life easy and learn to read food labels well & confidently.

Reading is now a key part of your coeliac or gluten free lifestyle.  My top suggestion is join Coeliac UK – you then have access to an online digital membership or receive a handbook. With membership comes access to two apps.  One for scanning labels and one for finding venues to eat at.

As a Coeliac, you need to cut out all items that contain gluten, or ‘may contain’ gluten/wheat. Remember the key word ‘B-R-O-W-S’ to help you recall the items you need to look out for on labels. These all need to be excluded from your diet: 

Barley, Rye, Oats, Wheat, Spelt. 

Anything with those items in will potentially cause a reaction and make you ill.  Being ‘glutened’ as it is known!  And the longer that you are off gluten your reactions may change/become more severe. 

Oats are an exception as they don’t contain gluten but a protein called Avenin which mimics gluten.  Oats must be processed in a wheat free factory and labelled as Gluten Free to be safe to consume for a Coeliac.  However, there are still a percentage of Coeliacs that react to oats regardless of whether they are Gluten Free or not.   If you have a reaction, you need to speak to your consultant.

Learn to read labels

Reading labels is key.  We have excellent food labelling in the UK which helps in spotting any item a Coeliac can’t eat.

  • Every label has to list every ingredient and component that makes up that ingredient.
  • They are always listed in order of the most to the least. 
  • Each ingredient component will be listed in brackets after it to show what it is made up of
  • If gluten or wheat is within the list of ingredients it should be in bold writing to show it is an allergen

In the example above, the label has percentages of an ingredient to show how much is in it, and if you look carefully after the 3rd ingredient, the Prawn Cocktail Flavour, it has brackets after it so that you can see what the flavour is made up of, what it’s particular components are.

A label will ALWAYS be up-to-date & overide a scanning app.  They are often updated later.

May Contains

Coeliac UK’s advice is to avoid may contains & one I agree with.  It’s like trying to guess which one box in one hundred boxes has a present in by sight alone.  Some packaging – such as Cadburys chocolate bars will state ‘may contain wheat’ or ‘may contain gluten’.   Some Coeliacs eat them, some don’t.   We don’t eat may contains, nor use them in baking or in our boxes.

Gluten Free

When an item says it is gluten free, that itself is a legal term and undergoes rigorous testing to be declared so.  As we are looking out for the key 4 allergens to remove from a Coeliacs diet, when you see Barley listed, it is obviously of concern.  “Ooh, we can’t have that, isnt that bad”.  But it says it is gluten free.  What’s the right answer?

Barley is one of the 14 allergens and is listed on labels to demonstrate that it contains that ingredient.  Some people have a Barley allergy on top of Coeliacs or separate to it. An item that is labelled Gluten Free will always be less than the 20ppm (20 parts per million) of gluten deemed safe for a Coeliac.

So if you are having a gluten free beer/lager, and it states Gluten Free but also states it has Barley in it, then the barley will be less than the specified 20ppm, it will have had the gluten removed though the various stages of fermentation / distillation and be totally suited for a gluten free diet.  BUT if you have a barley allergy, it is there to highlight to those suffering from a barley allergy that its present.

Understand the basics, and you’ll be fine.  But reading labels each and every time is key.  Manufacturers are always changing ingredients.  It’s always best to check.

Family Celebrations

How do you manage yours?

With lockdowns coming to an end, it’s time to start socialising again.  This means eating out again, eating at friends and events.  But how do you manage your child at family events to ensure that they are safe?

If they are older, and aware of the disease that they have, it’s important that they have the confidence to question adults/waitresses etc to ensure that they are eating the right foods and that they are suitable for them.

But if they are younger, you probably have to watch them like a hawk, take a packed lunch and watch what other people unknowingly offer them too.  It can be so tricky and you have to have eyes everywhere.  It can make a family event so utterly stressful for both you and your child.

With a coeliac child, planning in advance is key; always check with a venue before you arrive to ensure they can cater for you, always have a back up snack or two in your bag, a back up packed lunch is always a help at family events especially if its a buffet to ensure your child is kept safe. 

Pre-Covid I would ensure that a packed lunch or several back up snacks were available in case the venue or the family member wasn’t 100% aware.  If it was to be held at a venue, there would always be several calls and clarification that they could cater for her and that they understood the cross contamination requirements.

It makes planning family celebrations a little hard when venturing out but it can be done. 

For my birthday celebration, I wanted to go to one of my favourite local restaurants, The Black Horse.  I made the reservation online, and left a message so that I could discuss our dietary requirements.  Having never taken my daughter to this restaurant post her diagnosis, I wasn’t sure what they could offer. 

I needn’t have worried, as ever their customer service is second to none and they had great knowledge with regards to her requirements as well as having a separate fryer specifically for GF items & chips (always her first option) along with their menu marked up clearly stating what is gluten free / dairy free requirements.  We could have a great family lunch out with fantastic food and know that I’d done everything I could to ensure that she could have a meal with the family, be included and more importantly be safe.  

More venues are beginning to understand the importance of having gluten free options that are safe for Coeliac’s.  Let’s hope that it continues as it makes life so much easier for us parents.

Have you got a favourite venue that caters for you and your child?  If so, shout about them in the comments below.