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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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

An Article on Oxalates 

Hello again! It’s been a little while since my last post and even longer since a blog entry but that’s what back to work and school will do to you! I have so many posts and recipes sitting in my head waiting to get out but in the half hour a day I get to myself between when the girls go to bed and I fall asleep on the couch I’ve been having to do our budget so that we may actually buy a house (freaking me out!!!).
Here is an article on oxalates to keep you going. I’ve been avoiding researching oxalates because I just don’t have the space in my brain to take anything more in. I’ve had a feeling this may be a missing link for me as the foods listed as high oxalate are generally the salicylates that have been puzzling me. It’s weird as I can tolerate some pretty high salicylates but lower ones such as sweet potato gives me grief where pumpkin does not. Three leaves of baby spinach gave me a massive reaction where I can eat a few kale chips with no problems.

There are not a lot of the major symptoms mentioned in this article that I experience regularly but I have read in other forums and articles oxalates relationship with food intolerances and histamine issues. I just can’t remember exactly what they are at the moment. So if anyone wants to chime in please feel free!

I am still working this through in my brain but that half hour a day goes pretty quickly when it’s got to compete with budgets, menu planning, trying to find school lunches my kids will actually eat, Facebook, house hunting, and forget the me time of doing my photography course or colouring for mindfulness! My mind is full!!!

Rant over. Anyway here is the article. I quite like this one as it differentiates between actual research and anecdotal theories. I like the advice at the end that this is just an issue for us oddballs who are experiencing problems. It’s not the latest diet craze for those annoyingly healthy people who don’t have to think this much about everything!

Oxalate Good or Bad