Challenge Accepted – School Camp

Ah the good old school camp. As parents of kids with intolerances, allergies and/or behavioural challenges doesn’t it just make you want to run screaming?

You’ll either get a laugh out of this latest one or be horrified that they can feed children this kind of sh…stuff. I was both. The good thing was they provided examples of the food which is more than I have had in the past. But more about this later.

School camps are just the next level of parenting for allergy kids after the nice old days of Birthday party catering when you just had to supply a cupcake and maybe some other treats. Each camp it always starts out the same.

Me: How is the camp going to cater for the many intolerances my daughter has?

Teacher: The camp’s catering staff are experts at catering to any allergy. Just make sure you list it on the sheet.

Me: Some of her allergies are a bit obscure. Could I have a look at the menu just to see if there are any substitutes I need to send with her?

Teacher: They have assured us they can cater for allergies. I don’t have / can’t provide you with a copy of the menu. She’ll be fine. You cannot send food. None of the students are allowed to bring food.

Me: *submit form detailing intolerances*

Teacher: What are sulphites?

Me: Could I please have the contact details of the camp?

Teacher: We cannot give them to you. If every parent called because their children didn’t like something it would make it too difficult. (I seriously got this answer once!)

Me: *Googles and calls camp* *Repeat conversation*

Camp: We are experts in catering for allergies.

Me: What kind of milks do you have?

Camp: Trim, Lactose free and soy

Me: My daughter is intolerant to dairy and allergic to soy.

Camp: Maybe you should send some with her.

Me: *Bangs head on wall!*

So now I’m a lot more proactive. I start with the camp and immediately ask for the types of milk before I go any further. Once I point this out they will usually provide me with a menu and I do my best to replicate it.

Back to the horrifying ration pack for my daughter’s latest camp. This is my triumphant effort to replicate it.

It is not perfect or necessarily healthier by any means but it does cater for the main allergens of wheat and dairy. I could have made it healthier by packaging up our cereal and reducing the sugar by replacing things like the drinking chocolate, fruit bars, peanut butter etc (as my friend had to with a fructose malabsorbing son) but at 12 years old we are getting into social acceptance territory.

Not eating the same food as everyone else is very socially isolating. I’ve been there for the last 10 years and it is not a common consideration when catering for people with intolerances. You imagine serving a kid fruit while all their friends are eating chocolate cake around them! Adults can cope with this but kids find it very hard.

So I have included things that normally wouldn’t be allowed in our house. It is a fine line between dietary restrictions for their own good and teaching them to deal with being different, tempered with social inclusion. Hence picking my battles.

Sugar isn’t great for her particularly in these amounts but it is something that causes consequences I can generally live with for the three days after she comes home. My fructose malabsorbing daughter on the other hand would be in meltdown territory during the camp. The anxiety and meltdowns would cause her to miss out on all the personal growth activities these camps provide in turn causing social isolation. Again pick your battles.

I replicated the entire pack as I did not want her to have excuses to even enter the supply tent as the temptation would be too overwhelming. That said I can pretty much guarantee contraband will be consumed but I’ve done my best.

The next bit is probably overkill but crazy people like me get a kick out of organisation. I divided it into individual bags for each day. Problem was all my extra large ziplock bags had been used so had to leave out the meals but you get the general idea. Next step would be to make it more environmentally friendly by not using ziplock bags but hey give me a break – I’m doing this while starting Radiation therapy at the same time 😉

So my advice for school camps:-

  1. Open and honest communication with the school.
  2. Talk directly to the kitchen staff at the camp.
  3. Team up with parents of other allergy kids. This is where strength in numbers really helps.
  4. Ask for the food component of the camp costs to be removed from the invoice if you are supplying your own food.

My passion is to shine a light on food intolerances and allergies and make life that bit easier for parent, kids and all those concerned. If we all speak out together we might bring about the change that is required for the majority of society to think more about what they are consuming and not make us feel like social pariahs.

If you liked this article, share it within your circle so we can make a difference. I’d also love to hear about your experiences below.

Big thanks to my friend K as this was a joint effort. Strength in numbers people!

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I Love Orgran! – Egg Free Potato Salad Attempt


I’m heading off camping this weekend and it is a very back to basics deal where we can’t take a car so have to carry everything ourselves. For me that is a challenge for food as I can’t take too much in the way of cooking equipment and food.

I’ve got a butane burner and a little fry pan so dinner is going to be steak but I don’t want to mess around peeling and boiling potatoes so I’ve been trying to find a potato salad recipe that I can actually eat. I’m not quite up to raw eggs (and I would be dubious about how it would keep in an esky) so that rules out most mayonnaise recipes and of course premade in a jar isn’t an option. Then I thought ‘No Egg’! And sure enough Orgran and Google prevailed!

Of course I still have to moderate that recipe as it is high Sals but theoretically it can be done. Let the experiment begin!

Orgran Egg Free Mayonnaise
Now the tweaks for us failsafers:-

Replace the oil with Rice Bran Oil, lemon juice with citric acid (I’m going to try 1 tsp as I’m a bit sensitive) and omit the mustard powder.

Not sure if you need help turning that into potato salad but if you do. Boil up some potatoes so they are still a little firm. Add the mayo and some parsley and/or chives and voila! Potato Salad!


Edit – Post Mayo Review

Ok it was crap! It will do in a pinch but was pretty tasteless even for me. The consistency went like mousse and it was very powdery. The big omission in this recipe is salt – it really needs it so add to your taste. Also I ended up adding 2 tsp citric acid but it didn’t help. It was edible but could have been better.

School Cupcakes

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Any allergy Mum knows about the ‘School Cupcakes’. These are the cupcakes you have to keep in the school freezer for when other kids bring in birthday cakes to share.

Be it empathy or guilt over restricting their diet I hate when my kids have to miss out on some yummy treat that everyone else is eating so I do my best to substitute. That’s why there’s sprinkles on top. Not that they can compete with western diet over-abundance of all things sweet but it’s my little way to make it a bit special from the norm.

I got a bit lazy at 10pm last night when I finally got the chance (spied them on the cooling rack before bed and thought crap I need to ice them for the morning) to ice these cupcakes. In comes the good old Pure Harvest Chocolate Spread! It’s not nutella but as it is gluten/dairy/nut free my kids can have it on their sandwiches for school!

The cupcakes are the Orgran Chocolate Cake Mix and sprinkles are Hopper brand. Even I can tolerate the Hopper sprinkles! Unfortunately for the failsafe kids these cupcakes aren’t an option but you could use my Vanilla cake recipe and a simple icing sugar and water icing.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Hubby’s favourite dessert is apple pie so for his birthday I made an everything free apple pie, custard and ice cream. (Sorry to the Failsafe people it is moderate to high Sals).
It was categorised as a baking fail as the pastry was too crumbly and hard. I just used an old fashioned short crust pastry from my ancient cookbook. It really needs gluten to hold it together I think so you could play with Xantham or Guar Gum to replace it. I tend not to use these too much as they don’t sit well with me. Please feel free to comment if you have any tips to improve this.
I think I used nearly 2kg of apples as my pie dish is pretty huge. I first did 1kg but it was nowhere near enough. As with all my recipes they are not perfect and sometimes need a bit of a play.

Apple Pie

  • 1.5-2kg Apples stewed in a little filtered water with 1t cinnamon (omit cinnamon to reduce Sals but keep it in if you can). I have included a step by step pic for making the pastry from my cookbook if it helps.

Double quantity of short crust pastry

  • 4c GF SR Flour
  • 250g Nuttlex (ghee, butter if not DF)
  • 4T Cold water
  • Pinch salt
  1. Sift flour and salt into a BIG bowl. Cut the nuttlex in cubes and rub them into the flour.Method
  2. Add the water a bit at a time and mix through with a butter knife. (I actually used the water from the apples so this could have been some of the problem). It should be just wet enough to pull it together into a dough.
  3. Lightly kneed the dough on a floured board. The trick with pastry is to not play with it too much.
  4. Divide the dough in two – one for the base and a one for the lid
  5. Roll out the dough using firm quick strokes. As it is GF it will be really crumbly so take care!
  6. I roll the dough out on baking paper dusted with a bit of flour. This makes it easier to flip the dough into the pie dish.
  7. Place the base in the pie dish. Add stewed apples and put on the lid.
  8. Using a fork (or just your fingers) press the edges of the lid into the base. It doesn’t work as well with GF pastry as with normal wheat based pastry so just do your best.
  9. Brush the top of the pie with a bit of egg in milk (rice, almond, whatever you drink). If you can’t have egg just use the milk.
  10. Bake in a moderate oven for 20-30 mins.

Serve with Orgran custard and dairy free ice cream.

Apple Pie, Custard, Ice CreamOrgran Custard

Failsafe Lemon Chicken

This isn’t exactly a nutrition packed meal but it is my occasional treat for dinner. Even though it’s Failsafe I tend to react to the citric acid if I’m feeling particularly sensitive.

I serve it with rice and beans which are also occasional foods for me due to the Fodmaps in beans and I think I’m developing an intolerance to rice due to the amount I consume. I tend to develop intolerances to a food if I have it too often and unfortunately rice is one of my staples. I’ve found it helpful to rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking and shorter grains are tolerated better.

For a bit of an added extra I chopped up some garlic and added to the pan while cooking the chicken. It was awesome! This is coming from someone who hasn’t had garlic for five years and I was very excited to get this back in! So for me I think I’ve passed the fructans and galactans groups of Fodmaps.

Ok, get on with it and give me the recipe!! I hate it when blogs just go on and on so you have to keep scrolling in order to get to the recipe 😋

 

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Crumbed Chicken

  • 4 Chicken breasts
  • 1C Tapioca starch (approx – about a cup but I never remember to measure!) You can also use corn starch/flour.
  • 1 Egg whisked with some water or for those who can’t tolerate egg – 2t Orgran No Egg (heaped) to 4T water (you may need to top this up depending on the size of your breasts 😉)
  • 1C Rice crumbs (approx. – again I forget to measure)
  1. Cut the breasts into whatever size pieces you want. I try to slice mine relatively thinly to make the cooking time shorter and make sure it’s evenly cooked.
  2. Put each of the other ingredients in their own separate bowl.
  3. Coat the chicken first in the tapioca starch, then the egg and finally the crumbs.
  4. You can fry or bake them. I tend to fry them up to seal them then finish them off in the oven. My hubby is particularly sensitive to Salmonella so I always make sure it is well cooked.

Lemon Sauce

  • 1/2C Sugar (I haven’t played with alternative sweeteners but please let me know if you do!)
  • 1T Tapioca Starch / Corn Flour
  • 1 C Water
  • 1t Citric Acid (level teaspoon)
  • 1t Salt (level teaspoon)
  1. Put the sugar, starch and water in a saucepan and mix together.
  2. Put on a medium heat and continue stirring until it thickens. It will turn from white to clear.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add salt and citric acid and stir well.

Beautiful Byron!

It’s been a while since my last post because I’ve been too busy chillin in Byron!!!

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For my birthday this year I wanted to be able to go to Byron to chill out, enjoy the local vibes and be able to take my girls somewhere to eat where they could pick anything off the menu to eat. I got to enjoy the vibes but with two kids did not get to really chill.  Maybe my expectations were too high or I didn’t look hard enough but I also didn’t find an extensive range of places that the girls could just pick anything off of the menu.

Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely a higher percentage of places that I could buy something for them to eat and I found some really cool places. I still couldn’t find anywhere I could eat anything different but I didn’t really expect it. However I was able to get a steak and chips at the Beach Hotel where they were all too happy to cater to my extreme needs (and didn’t look at me like I am some kind of freak).

If you’re as bad as I am and only down to a few foods and you can tolerate a bit of amines a steak and chips is about all I can eat when I go out. This comes with a lot of caveats and I usually preface it with – “Sorry to be a pain but I have food intolerances…”. Firstly make sure the chips aren’t beer battered (unless you can tolerate gluten) and check which oil they use (be careful with vegetable oil blends). With the steak I have been asking the chefs to cook it in a separate pan so that it doesn’t pick up all the flavours from the grill. Most places are happy to do this for you. The Beach Hotel was one of those places that had no problem with this. I also clarify numerous times that the steak has not been marinated, and make sure it has no seasoning, including pepper (you would be surprised how many times I have to differentiate this!).

Now the girls aren’t as sensitive as me so they could have a few treats. Some great places we found were Bella Rosa Gelateria for Dairy Free sorbet (high in Sals though), Naked Treaties for some protein balls and Santos is my new favourite store!!! I was able to get my Quinoa flakes for an amazing $15kg! The cheapest I have been able to source this is nearly $20kg at coles and up to $30kg in health food stores!

The girls also got to have their first meat pie for a long time from Byron Bay pies who do a great gluten free steak pie at a reasonable price. Also they had great chips and a reasonably priced dairy free smoothie at Munch Juice Bar at Byron West Shopping Fair.

On the way home my husband and I were trying to think of ways we could make a living in Byron!

 

Freezer Treasure

Nanna has the kids, I have a pinched nerve in my neck leading to a migraine and got given a doozy of an assignment at work meaning I didn’t get home til late. Not in the mood to cook anything and not sure if I had any leftovers for dinner or work tomorrow I went on a hunt for what nourishment can I give my body so I can get to bed. Imagine my excitement when I found a hidden ziplock bag of roast lamb! Don’t worry it was only from the 19th December (I label and date all my freezer food for this exact reason).

So I paired it with some frozen choko, swede and quinoa and actually created a yummy dinner when I didn’t think I was going to have anything! That’s what I call Freezer Treasure!