Sometimes it’s all about the cake

Gluten Free Birthday Cake of course!

Gluten Free Victoria Sponge Cake with Jam & Cream

Whether it’s a family celebration or birthday cake, sometimes you just don’t have the time or inclination to make your own gluten free birthday cake. Even I can’t be bothered sometimes, so, what are your options?

There’s good cake and bad cake out there, so it’s about picking the right one for you, and what you fancy, of course.

There is a wide range of cakes, but the ones that came out on top with comments on my cake post were the following:

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

  • Galaxy – now this retails at around £11 which is pretty pricey for a cake but it is also quite a big cake so will feed a fair few. But apparently it’s a good one & lots of people said it is their go to cake. Available from Waitrose, Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys & Morrisons. I was recommended to try it with some Bailey’s pouring cream! I think warmed up too it’ll be delicious with a good vanilla icecream.
  • Co-op GF Hand Finished Chocolate Cake – £3.50-£4. This is our family go to cake when I just can’t be bothered, haven’t had time and we fancy a little treat. Definitely good warmed with icecream.
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Belgian Chocolate buttercream & cake – £3 I’ve not had this one but it is another alternative if you are trying to track one down!
  • Tesco chocolate cake – belgian chocolate buttercream & chocolate swirls.   We had this one a long time ago, maybe we had a bad one – we thought it heavy, but it was in the early days of diagnosis, so we should give it another go! £3

Gluten Free Caterpillar Birthday Cakes

After the Aldi vs M&S caterpillar cakes, well there are still more out there & they keep coming. Even better that these three are all gluten free

  • Carl the Caterpillar from Tesco – £6
  • Eric the Caterpillar from Sainsburys – £6
  • Frieda the Caterpillar cake from Asda – £6.25

Which one have you tried?

Best Kids Gluten Free Birthday Cakes

  • Tesco’s Confetti Cake was highly recommended by one reviewer.  It comes covered in a white icing, with bright coloured buttercream swirls in yellow, blue & pink, and confetti sprinkles.  All you need to do is unbox it, maybe add some extra GF sprinkles, a unicorn or suitable equivalent, a sparkler, candles even a special cake topper and you are good to go. £9
  • White fondant iced cake – there are a couple of options.  Morrisons have one with coloured stars for £6 and Asda have one for £6.50

So if you have a birthday coming up, and haven’t the time as you are busy working, there is a cake within your budget. All you have to do is track it down – that sometimes is the hardest thing to do! But it is possible. It’s ok to cheat and not slave away in the kitchen late at night after work. Take the pressure off and buy it instead. Just add those candles, a few sprinkles and it’ll all be fabulous.

And if you don’t fancy cake, this month the baking kits are all about biscuits this month. The children are making animal cookies and there’s a secret surprise in the ‘white’ icing. Can’t wait to see the kids faces when they add the water. Definitely not boring white icing!!

Happy days.

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

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…..