Did you survive a Coeliac Child’s Christmas?

Survive or thrive this Christmas?

Did you survive a coeliac child’s Christmas? How did you make sure your coeliac child had enough to eat, enough treats and avoided cross contamination whilst staying away?

We were lucky enough to be covid free and stayed with my parents over the Christmas period. My parents are geared up to having us, knowing the requirements of my GF child, but it still shows up glaring problems.

Did you survive a coeliac child’s Christmas?

Problems don’t occur in your own house (mostly) as you have control over the situation and how food is prepped. This in turn brought up a conversation with my now 13yr old about how she gets anxious eating around others – but that’s next weeks blog.

Whilst I know that I’ve got it in hand most of the time, when you are in someone else’s house or kitchen, you have different worries. Even though my parents (my mother mainly) she has a large plastic box filled with separate equipment for her grandchild, there’s still only one place to cook. And in the most part it’s ok, we manage.

But on this occasion, there were 3 of us around the hob & in the kitchen pulling together leftovers etc. One was making up a regular gluten pasta dish. And another reheating the bread sauce. In a separate frying pan, bacon was cooking for Grace. Contamination is always at the fore front of my mind for my Coeliac Child. You’re used to seeing problem areas, events that will happen in front of you that you need to avoid.

Being Careful

Stirring was going on of both dishes, so I whipped the pan up out of the way & waited until they were finished before replacing it to finish cooking. I get a quizzical look, a “I’m just stirring” which is fine, but to ensure that my child is safe, I want & need to remove the pan up and out of the way whilst that is done. It made me anxious. They didn’t clock it then.

It wasn’t until later that it registered with either person as to why I was moving my pan out of the way. “I was being careful”. That I understand, but, at the same time, one little flick of bread sauce or pasta sauce could easily go in the wrong place. which I can’t risk.

Is there a right or wrong answer, I don’t know. But when your used to spending time in your own house with everything geared up for catering for your coeliac child, I guess it is so much harder to go somewhere else & have to ‘make do’, expecting others to pay attention & second guess themselves when they aren’t used to doing so.

But I saw too that she was bored with food. Fed up of hotdogs or bacon for lunch, wanting to be the same as everyone else if the chance allowed. So this week, she’ll have to adapt further & it may be a shock to her system. She’s got too used to having chips, nuggets, sausages when I’ve been busy or unprepared.

This week I’ve a menu plan. (if only I could remember where I’ve put it!!).

She only eats chips….

New recipe book to test

I treated myself to a new book by Dr Megan Rossi who I follow on Instagram. It’s called Eat more, Live well (affiliate link) & we’ll be trying out recipes. I’ve the the Thai salmon fishcakes, Reinvented chicken burger & the baked oat slice on my list. Recipes aren’t specifically for a GF diet but they’re adaptable as are most recipes. The breakfast muffin in a mug needs trying too but not 100% sure I’ll get away with it. We’ll see.

That’s the challenge for the week. Keep your eye out for pictures on Instagram as to what happens & whether the chip eating fiend will eat it! The deadline to subscribe to our baking kits this month to make the best ever Flapjacks is Saturday 15th January. Fun to make, tasty to eat with a little twist to make them just the more moist and healthy!!

A belated Happy New Year, may all your dreams come true in 2022 and the year be AWESOME.

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.

Hotdogs

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.

Dessert

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

Parties

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?

Your Gluten Free Coeliac Child has a Playdate Invitation

Oh yay! Your child, your coeliac child has a playdate invitation. They are being treated normally, being included. Yay!

And then the dread & fear sets in…. or it always does for me.

Maybe your child has just started the school, joined the class, you don’t know the parents. But your child is excited & looking forward to going to play at their new friends house.

Maybe your child has just be diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease. And you have yet to explain to your friends, your child’s friends what they can and can’t have going forward.

You have to explain it all over again…. what they can and can’t have. You have to trust someone to not ‘gluten’ your child. But the smile on their face at being invited to a friends house has lit them up.

Well, you’re in the right place. I’ve already negotiated those hurdles with my daughter who was diagnosed in 2018 with the disease. We’ve found the basics that you need to cover for a playdate, a sleepover and parties. At a best guess, you will receive at least 15+ party invitations in a year based on an average class of 30.

Coeliac Child has a playdate invitation

So how do you manage it all?

It’s so exciting when your coeliac child has a playdate invitation. In the first instance, meet the parent of the other child . Say hi, get the intros done. Then let them know that your child has Coeliac Disease & briefly let them know that they need special foods excluding gluten & wheat & that your happy to chat with them about your child’s needs to make it as easy as possible for them.

See, it’s easy! They don’t need to know straight off that it’s key to minimise all cross contamination. You can let them know gently.

My Top Tips

Inform the host parent of the requirements needed to keep your child safe. Discuss foods, snacks and drinks.

Give them a guideline on labels – what they are looking out for.

Suggest some suitable snacks – offer to supply ones for your child if that will help

Suggest that the children all have the same GF foods for tea & dessert so that will minimise any cross contamination issues, and at the same time keep them the same as everyone else. Fitting in is so important at a young age.

To make your life easier, I’ve put all of this information & more into an eBook covering Playdates, Parties, BBQs & Sleepovers with a two page handout to give to the host parent. They’ve then a handy guide to refer to whilst your child is in their care so that they have some guidance as to what to do & how to manage keeping your child safe.

It shouldn’t be hard to let your child be normal, have friends over or go over to their houses. With this guide, both you and your host parent can manage it all together safely.

Have questions? Feel free to drop me a message or send an email to help@glutenfreelittlecook.com

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.