Monday, 1 October 2018

Simple Stir Fry with Coconut Aminos - Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soya Free

One dish I used to love preparing, in the days pre-Baby, was stir fry - very quick, very easy and can be made in a multitude of ways, according to whatever ingredients you have available. It's made even easier, when you can whack in a ready made sauce! 

It was off the menu for a while in our house, because although we managed to find rice-based noodles, ready made stir fry sauces can be harder to obtain, if you are gluten and soya free!

However... thanks to a relative newcomer to our store cupboard - Coconut Aminos, stir fry is back on the menu - just so long as we use veggies that Kiddo will eat.

So here's how we do it:


Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts/pack of kind size Prawns 
Olive Oil
Sesame Oil (if you can't use sesame, just use Olive Oil)
2 carrots or 2 handfuls of mixed frozen veg.
3 spring onions
2 packets gluten free rice noodles (we use Amoy - specifically labelled 'gluten free') OR 
2  packets pre-prepared rice (we use Tilda, as it is labelled gluten free)
2 eggs (optional)
2 tbsp Coconut Aminos (I get mine from Amazon, but you can find them in Holland and Barrett and Ocado)

You will need a large frying pan or wok, to cook this dish.


Method:

1. Clean and chop veggies, fairly finely, so that they are easy to cook - carrot cooks easily when sliced into ribbons with a peeler - not so much when in big chunks. 

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 of sesame oil in a pan. Add the raw chicken/prawns and cook on a medium heat, until they are cooked. Whilst cooking keep stirring and turning meat/prawns, to ensure that they are evenly cooked. 

3. If you want to add egg, clear a space in the pan, break them into the pan, and stir them into a scramble. Then remove meat and eggs into a bowl.

4. Replenish oil, before adding in your veggies. Cook for a further three-five minutes, or so before adding the noodles, and keep stirring for another three minutes or so!

5. Add the meat/prawns back in and a couple of tablespoons of Coconut Aminos. Make sure everything is mixed together well, before serving, into bowls. 



Perfectly easy and great for swift summer dining!


Then Enjoy!



Please note: 
This post is not an advert. I have not been paid to write this post. I am not sponsored in any way, even by advertising. I do not receive products free to review, although I have often been offered them. This is to try and maintain an unbiased approach. Any products listed in this post are here purely because they genuinely are the products we have used and enjoy consuming. They are included here merely to point people who are new to suitable products that they too may enjoy. All views expressed are my own (unless I've asked for The Hub's or Kiddo's). I try to tell is 'as-it-is'.




Related Posts:













Thursday, 27 September 2018

What shall we have for dinner?? Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soya Free

When I first went 'dairy free', I can remember the panic. What were we going to eat?? 

It took me a while to realise that whilst some things had changed, not everything was going to be different. And after a while things became a whole lot easier, as we discovered things we could 'safely eat'. We then began to stick to a 'safe list'

Do you have one of those?? You know, a list of tried and trusted dishes.

Don't know about you, but it can be so easy to get stuck in a familiar rut, when it comes to making dinner. Occasionally I'll come across a 'new' (to us) dish and make it ad infinitum, but sometimes Kiddo decides she doesn't wan it and suddenly it's off the menu again, and we're back to the same old, same old...

However, what's MY 'same old' may be different from yours, so if I share mine, and you share yours... hopefully we can all share a bit of inspiration!

BUT, I'm NO Nigella... just so you know!


As in previous posts, this list is by no means exhaustive (especially as Kiddo is not fond of spice) but here's an idea of what we might eat:


Takes a while:

Roast Chicken - with roasted potatoes and veg. (use Bisto Free From gravy if gluten free like me, otherwise make sure that your chicken gravy does not contain milk)

Roast rack of lamb - with roasted potatoes and veg. and Bisto Free from gravy

Lamb Casserole (Knorr gluten free gravy stock)

Shepherd's Pie (Knorr gluten free gravy stock and mash made with dairy free alternatives)

Barnyard Pie - Chicken, bacon and leek, sweetcorn, mushroom, or whatever veg you like to add. It's made with gravy and topped with mash - much the same as Shepherd's Pie.

Lasagna - either making the sauce from scratch with dairy and gluten free alternatives, or using Dolmio smooth hidden veg and Tesco Free From lasagna sauce, with Violife or Daiya Shredded 'Cheese'.

Fish Pie - using white sauce made with Doves gluten free flour, Pure sunflower Margarine, Almond milk and Violife grated 'cheese'.

Sausage Casserole (suitable sausages - Tesco Finest Pork, Heck Pork, Rankin's Pork)

Paella (cooked with Kallo gluten free chicken stock) according to Jamie Oliver's instructions.

Fish and Chips (a la Hub!) Using the deep fat fryer and gluten free batter for the fish.



If you to make paella, you need a big pan!



Slightly less prep:

Chicken Fajitas (gluten free wraps/seasonings, Coyo coconut yogurt in place of creme fraiche, Violife grated 'cheese')

Spaghetti Bolognese (Dolmio smooth hidden veg sauce and gluten free pasta)

Jacket Potato (with various fillings)

Sausage Pasta Bake (gluten pasta & suitable sausages)

Chicken, Bacon & Mushroom Risotto

Bacon-wrapped chicken breasts (oven cooked and served with veg/potatoes)

Bacon-wrapped cod (oven-baked with vine tomatoes, served with veg/potatoes)

Sauteed potatoes with pan fried fish (salmon/mackerel/bream/sea bass)


It doesn't take long, to pan fry fish


Chicken curry (made with a ready made Free From sauce - Indian Butter Chicken)

Sweet and Sour Chicken with rice (Made with Sweet Mandarin Sweet and Sour Sauce)

Sausages and Mash ('safe' sausages with mash made with usual dairy free substitutes)



I'm in a hurry:

Pasta and Seafood with tomato-based sauce (Gluten free pasta, tomato-based sauce and fresh sea food mix from Waitrose)

Chicken/Prawn (or both) Egg Fried Rice or Noodles. The rice can be cooked in advance and cooled or you can use a packet of Tilda ready rice, or two! I stick to Tilda because I know it is specifically gluten free, but there are other brands out there. Amoy Straight to Wok Noodles are good too!


Simple, colourful, nutritious and tasty!


Pizza  (gluten free Schar base for me and Violfe pizza 'cheese' on top, toppings, whatever you choose)




Please note: 
This post is not an advert. I have not been paid to write this post. I am not sponsored in any way, even by advertising. I do not receive products free to review, although I have often been offered them. This is to try and maintain an unbiased approach. Any products listed in this post are here purely because they genuinely are the products we have used and enjoy consuming. They are included here merely to point people who are new to suitable products that they too may enjoy. All views expressed are my own (unless I've asked for The Hub's or Kiddo's). I try to tell is 'as-it-is'.



Related posts: 









Let's do Lunch! Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soya Free

When I'm home:

If I'm at home, I might be tempted to be lazy, if there's no left overs to reheat, then some of the following might be an option:


Jacket potato and...


  • Prawn mayo (if lazy get a pot from Waitrose)
  • Tinned tuna and mayo
  • Spaghetti Bolognese (leftovers or a 'Look what we've found!' sachet from Waitrose)
  • Dairy Free Cheese - although that said, actual dairy cheese is far more nutritious than dairy free cheese, so I wouldn't normally choose this option, unless I was balancing it out with some other form of protein.



Sandwich/Baguette with...


  • Cold chicken and Marmite (make mine Meridien gluten free alternative)
  • Ham and salad with mayo and ketchup
  • Prawn in rose marie sauce
  • Scrambled egg
  • Avocado and bacon with lettuce 
  • Left-over bolognese
  • Dairy free cheese and pickled beetroot (but if gluten free you may need to be careful with the vinegar)
Am loving the part-baked BFree gluten free baguettes right now


Toast and...

I have to be careful with bread, even bread that appears to tick all my boxes doesn't agree with me, for some reason, but occasionally I still have:


  • Ham and toasted dairy free cheese
  • Scrambled/fried/poached/boiled egg
Add caption



Salad...

My favourite 'at home' salad (if I can be faffed), is Chicken and Aocado with cherry tomatoes and a mix of salad leaves. Add in some boiled new potatoes to warm it up.


Frittata

A great way to use up left over boiled potatoes! Mix up a couple of eggs, heat up some oil in a small frying pan, throw in the eggs, a handful of dairy free cheese and maybe some left over veg. Cook through and on both sides.


Pizza

You can make these from scratch, using a decent dairy free cheese alternative, or even these days buy them from the chiller in Sainsburys, Waitrose or Tesco. Dress them up or down by adding all your favourite toppings!


Ready meal...

If I'm really lazy, I'll heat up a Kirsties's ready meal, or an Amy's kitchen macaroni cheese, or perhaps one of Tesco's chilled Free From ready meals - I love the paella, and the lasagna.




Out and About??

If in busy cities or in London there's s many options, but in smaller towns/cities I might choose from the following:


  • Marks and Spencer - sandwiches - depends on the season, but I've enjoyed their BLT, prawn mayonnaise. I have also enjoyed some of their 'Made without Wheat' products, such as pork pies and scotch eggs, but some of these options seem to have disappeared.
  • Waitrose - sandwiches - depends on the season again but I think it's currently and egg and cress
  • Costa - Chicken, Chorizo and Rice - can be heated.
  • McDonalds - Chicken and bacon salad with the option of fries on the side
McDonalds salad
  • Pret - Pret make a range of gluten and dairy free soups. My fave is Chicken, Rice and Broccoli, but sometimes I'll go for one of their salads (always check ingredients).
  • Leon (mainly London, but branching out more) do a range of dairy and gluten free options. It's fast food, but not as you know it!
  • Yo Sushi! - not much of the menu is suitable, but there's enough to keep me going. I love the Salmon Selection, the Ebi Nigiri, the Salmon Maki, the Kimchi Squid (it's hot) or the Salmon Avocado Temaki (has to be ordered).
  • Five Guys - Naked burger (wrapped in lettuce) with fries
  • Ask Italian - can do pizza with dairy free cheese and gluten free pasta options.

Linguine (minus the linguine but plus the gluten free pasta)  Con Frutti di Mare - Ask Italian

  • Zizzi - Similar options to Ask Italian (they're owned by the same company.
  • Pizza Express - Can now do gluten free bases and dairy free, soya free cheese, so befriend your server, find a basic pizza you like on the menu and they can amend it for you!
  • Cote - Tuna Nicoise Salad - fries are safe too!
  • Pub - the Wadsworth chain, is worth looking at, or St Austell breweries (in Cornwall). You can usually be sure of a safe Ham, Egg and Chips (separate gluten free fryer).

It's also worth checking out independent cafes, as they often include gluten free options, these days too!

HOWEVER, if you eat out, you might not always get a great range of puds - mainly just fruit sorbets, just saying!! That said, Zizzi also do some kind of chocolate praline torte - no good for me because of some other ingredient - looks tasty, though! They serve it with coconut ice cream!



Please note: 
This post is not an advert. I have not been paid to write this post. I am not sponsored in any way, even by advertising. I do not receive products free to review, although I have often been offered them. This is to try and maintain an unbiased approach. Any products listed in this post are here purely because they genuinely are the products we have used and enjoy consuming. They are included here merely to point people who are new to suitable products that they too may enjoy. All views expressed are my own (unless I've asked for The Hub's or Kiddo's). I try to tell is 'as-it-is'.






Related Posts:










Anyone for breakfast?? Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soya Free

Living dairy free has become such a way of life now, that it kind of catches me out, when people ask what they can eat that's dairy free. I'm not only dairy free, I'm gluten and soya free and the honest truth is, there's lots you can eat. Sometimes it's case of adapting or using dairy free substitutes, but there's no way it has to be boring... unless routine is your thing and that's the way you like it!

If you need to find a dairy free substitute, there's plenty out there. Many like oat milk, others prefer coconut milk, my personal favourite is almond milk. My margarine of choice is usually Pure sunflower margarine (although they have undergone a recent recipe change, which I'm waiting to change back. Many supermarkets make their own branded dairy free margarines.

For more ideas regarding milk substitutes, see this page here.

Dairy free substitutes selected, we're good to go, starting with one of my faves:


Waffles

OK, so these require time and a waffle machine, so these are normally set aside for a lazy weekend.

We make ours with almond milk and Doves gluten free flour, and have never experienced any problems.

I love mine topped with fresh strawberries or raspberries and a good dollop of Coyo coconut yogurt, drizzled with golden syrup. Totally LUSH!

Kiddo prefers hers drizzled with chocolate sauce - Freedom is a good make, for those with multiple allergies.


Pancakes

You can make these completely from scratch, with your dairy free milk of choice. Coconut milk is a good choice, but almond milk can also work, although you'll get a thinner, runnier batter with almond milk. 

Being gluten free, I prefer using Mrs Crimbles pancake mix, as I like the blend of flours they use, but we've also used the Asda Free From Pancake Shaker.

Chopped banana and golden syrup make a fab topping for these, or fresh berries and Coyo, as before.



Sometimes we make a slightly thicker batter and make mini handheld pancakes, just for fun!



Eggs and...

Poached, fried (olive oil), scrambled (Pure margarine and  almond milk) or boiled and dippy, all work for me! usually with toast!

You really can't beat a slice of toast with a slice of bacon, topped with a fried egg.

If you've a little bit of time, eggy bread is a sure winner! Simply whip up some egg with a little milk, soak up the mixture in some toast and fry the bread (in olive oil) on both sides, until golden brown.

For a more indulgent version, poached eggs with avocado slices and some plum tomatoes on the side, get the thumbs up from me! Add a slice of toast and you're good to go!

For the full nine yards, go full English! Although don't forget to ensure your sausages are free of nasties too. I love Tesco Finest Pork Sausages, Heck Pork Sausages and Rankin's.

On a bit of a side note, if you're staying in a hotel, always get them to check what's in their sausages! Preferably, you want somewhere that will cook your food from scratch, so there's no chance of cross-contamination from the buffet. A good hotel will be happy to do this for you.



Nearly full English!



Bacon and ...

Well, obviously eggs (as above) but also in a butty, with ketchup. Not everyday maybe, but certainly bound to give you a tasty start!


Simple but tasty bacon butty! Mmm!



Potato Waffles and...

Yep! Those Kiddie tea time favourites. OK, you might not want to eat them everyday, but Kiddo has been known to eat these accompanied by a fried egg, or maybe fish fingers (make mine gluten free), or even chicken nuggets. They are super easy to cook, especially if you have an air fryer (we've recently invested)!

On a similar note, Kiddo also loves those 'Smiley Face' potato things. Kiddo's favourite thing with potato waffles, though, has to be a slice of bacon topped with a slice of dairy free Violife cheese! Not to everyone's taste, but she loves it!


Porridge

I've always loved porridge!! I love it made with coconut, almond or hazelnut milk and a tablespoon of golden syrup, although you could use honey of you prefer and dress it up or down, with fruit, nuts, etc. 


Cereal

Cereal is great for those days when you just need to grab something quickly and go! It's just a case of choosing your dairy free milk sub and then finding a suitable cereal. Being gluten free, I love a good gluten free Granola, or Nutribix, but if you're 'just' dairy free, you'll have a much wider range of options, e.g. Shreddies, Cheerios, Rice Crispies, Cornflakes, Weetabix etc. (always check ingredients, just in case they change).


Toast

If all else fails, there's always the option of toast (again make mine gluten and soya free). Many of the options are covered above, but if it's jam or marmalade, make mine homemade - preferably my Dad's!


There's always toast!


Now this isn't the most exhaustive list, but you get my drift - life doesn't end, when you become dairy free, it doesn't even (necessarily) take you in a new direction - just a slight curve!



Please note: 
This post is not an advert. I have not been paid to write this post. I am not sponsored in any way, even by advertising. I do not receive products free to review, although I have often been offered them. This is to try and maintain an unbiased approach. Any products listed in this post are here purely because they genuinely are the products we have used and enjoy consuming. They are included here merely to point people who are new to suitable products that they too may enjoy. All views expressed are my own (unless I've asked for The Hub's or Kiddo's). I try to tell is 'as-it-is'.



Related Posts:
















Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Simple Sausage Pasta Bake

Quick disclaimer: just so you know, if you're expecting Cordon Bleu food, you'll be sadly disappointed. This post is for those of us who need something more 'low maintenance'! 

I've been meaning to add this recipe to the blog for a while. It's a simple recipe to make and I love simple! It basically involves one dish, and a saucepan in which to cook the pasta, so less washing up... and what's not to like about that?

Quick, easy, simple and delicious!

I may have mentioned before that Kiddo can err on the fussy side. 

Well, in actual fact she's getting a lot better about these things, but we still need to find ways to disguise the veg. in her life, which is where this little pasta bake comes in quite handy. 

At the moment, Kiddo says this dish is her favourite!

Little does she know, that's she's eating far more veg. than she realises!

You see we make it with the Dolmio hidden veg sauce - any other extraneous veg I try to include gets left behind in her bowl (unless its her good old favourite - carrots). 

Just to give you an idea of quantities in terms of persons this dish could feed, now that Kiddo has a good appetite, this serves us three with very little left over.

Ingredients:

1 pack of 6 sausages 
250g dried pasta 
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
1 jar of tomato-based pasta sauce 
A couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen mixed veg. of your choice.
A couple of handfuls of grated cheese


Method:

1. Put a pan of water on to boil (for the pasta) and preheat the oven according to the instructions on the sausage packet. 

2. Cook sausages according to packet instructions (I usually use Heck Pork Sausages, or Rankin's or Tesco Finest). If you use the dish you want to eventually contain the whole bake, it saves on washing up!

3. Pour the dried pasta (I usually use Tesco or Sainsbury's free from pasta - usually Fusili, but Penne also works well) into a pan of boiling water. Cook according to instructions, then drain.

4. Once sausages are cooked, drain off any excess oil, and chop them into bite-sized pieces.

5. Add the drained pasta, the jar of tomato-based pasta sauce (Dolmio hidden veg in our case) and a few handfuls of frozen or fresh chopped veg. of your choice. I often add sweetcorn, peas, chopped carrot or pepper. Use two forks to 'toss' the ingredients together, ensuring that you achieve an even mix of the ingredinets.

6. Top with grated cheese (I use Daiya shredded mozzarella-style cheese - see here).

7. Return dish to the oven for another ten to fifteen minutes - to melt the cheese.

8. Serve into bowls and Bon Appetit!



Please note: 
This post is not an advert. I have not been paid to write this post. I am not sponsored in any way, even by advertising. I do not receive products free to review, although I have often been offered them. This is to try and maintain an unbiased approach. Any products listed in this post are here purely because they genuinely are the products we have used and enjoy consuming. They are included here merely to point people who are new to suitable products that they too may enjoy. All views expressed are my own (unless I've asked for The Hub's or Kiddo's). I try to tell is 'as-it-is'.

Related Posts:







Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Oh my Daiya! New to the UK dairy free, soya free, cheese alternative

EEK! - Hold the front page!!

Check this out:



Yippee!!

And this:



Huzzah!!


I'm excited, can you tell?

Yep, because we can now buy Daiya cheese in the UK.

It's been a big hit in the US for years!

So...


What's it like??

The cheddar looks like cheddar, similar texture to cheddar and actually, yes has similar flavour to cheddar - the mature stuff that I used to LOVE with a passion and have been missing ever since. The nearest I have got to that missing flavour has been Amy's gluten, dairy and soya free macaroni cheese ready meals.

I mean usually, I would say that ALL vegan cheese tastes better toasted or cooked, but NOT this one! Yes, I actually enjoy this 'un on a plain cracker, just like regular cheese! Hence my excitement!

And there is no residual flavour of anything else, like coconut, for example!

It slices and grates well - a bit crumbly towards the end, but show me a cheese that doesn't!

The only flaw and for me this is a small one - it doesn't melt on top of dishes, like the dish I made for dinner last night. However, Daiya have that one covered with their shredded, mozzarella-style cheese. That one I wouldn't eat on plain crackers, BUT it melts beautifully, and tastes yummy and cheesy once it has done so.

What's in it??

Note this: It is free of the top 14 allergens! BUT! Word of caution for people with multiple allergies that are not in the top 14 (so there is not legal requirement to declare them) - wording such as 'Vegan Natural Flavours' is not exactly helpful. Have highlighted 'Calcium' as it's one of the main nutrients in dairy and soya free cheese that you could be missing.

Otherwise, the ingredients are as follows:

Medium Cheddar Style Ingredients:

Water, Tapioca Starch, Coconut Oil, Natural Flavours, Pea Protein Isolate, Rapeseed Oil, Safflower Oil, Chicory Root Extract, Sea Salt, Thickener: Xanthum Gum, Preservative: Lactic Acid, Anti-Caking Agent: Tricalcium Phosphate, Preservative: Tricalium Citrate, Pea Starch, Potato Protein, Enzyme, Sugar, Colour: Annatto

Calcium: 0.9g per 100g

Mozzarella Style Shreds Ingredients:

Water, Tapioca Starch, Coconut Oil, Safflower Oil, Potato Protein, Vegan Natural Flavours, Sea Salt, Anti-Caking Agent: Tricalcium Phosphate, Emulsifier: Fructan Fibre, Preservative: Lactic Acid, Fava Bean Protein, Whole Algal Flour, Emulsifier: Konjac Gum, Thickener: Xanthum Gum, Yeast Extract

Calcium 0.407g per 100g

How much is it??

Please don't shout at the screen...

Cheddar 200g: £4.50

Shreds 200g: £4.50

It is pricey, I know!! I thought it may be down to the fact that it is imported from the US, but a US contributor on Face Book has pointed out that it bears a similar cost in the US.


Where to buy:

If you're within reach of a Wholefoods market (e.g. London) you stand a better chance than most of us, however, Daiya is now stocked in some Sainsbury's supermarkets. One of my nearest Sainsbury's had it temporarily, but it seems to have disappeared. If it's not stocked locally to you and you are prepared to travel to find some, then Daiya have produced a handy store finder click here.


Summary:

It is pricier than normal cheese and than its nearest rivals on the dairy free cheese market, BUT if a dairy and soya free authentic cheddar is your thing, or a proper melty cheese, then this is your best bet!


For other posts about dairy free cheese, please check out our 'Related Posts' below. Please note that as these other posts were written a few years ago, some details/packaging may have changed.



Please note: 
This post is not an advert. I have not been paid to write this post. I am not sponsored in any way, even by advertising. I do not receive products free to review, although I have often been offered them. This is to try and maintain an unbiased approach. All views expressed are my own (unless I've asked for The Hub's or Kiddo's). I try to tell is 'as-it-is'.



Related Posts:








Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Is the 'Dairy Free Baby' dairy free no more?? or Reintroducing Cow's Milk via the 'Milk Ladder'

So, BIG news - the dairy free baby is NO MORE!!


No, it's all right, she's not expired, it's just that 'Baby' - no longer a baby to be fair - is also no longer allergic to milk!!

It's taken eight years for this momentous event to arrive, but I'm SO glad it is finally here!!


In the beginning...

Initially we were told she would be likely to grow out of her allergy by the age of two (you can follow the high/lowlights of our journey in the posts linked below this one). When that didn't occur, we were told maybe by the age of four, and then, well... maybe never!! 

Well, THAT made me panic!! 

The refrain of 'When you hopefully grow out of it...' had often been heard often in our home, and 'Baby' was counting on it!! She blissfully ignored the caveat 'hopefully', that I carefully added each time. She was looking forward to ice cream, desserts and so much more - the kind of things she saw others happily scoffing - usually right in front of her!!


The realisation of the dream - Mr Whippy - eyes on the prize!

Along the way, we were encouraged by our dieititan, to try and reintroduce milk via first of all biscuits. The number of times we tried 'Baby' with just a malted milk biscuit, only for her to react to the milk in it!! I think that if I hadn't heard Dr Adam Fox, sharing his expertise at The Allergy and Free From Show in London, I would have been tempted to give up! From what I remember, he said that most (around 80%) children grew out of their milk allergy by the second decade. So we kept hoping, and retrying every three or four months - clinging onto our copy of the MAP Milk Ladder, in the hope that one day, 'Baby' might progress further.  


The 'Milk Ladder'

The 'Milk Ladder,' for those of you who don't know, is a framework, produced by top allergy healthcare professionals, by which parents (working under the guidance of professionals), can attempt to safely reintroduce cow's milk to children with non-Ige mediated cow's milk allergy. 

You start gradually, with baked milk products (in which the baking process will have broken down the milk proteins - making them easier to tolerate), and then work up through various forms of processed products, which break down the milk protein a little bit less at each stage, until you reach the point where cow's milk itself can be tolerated. The version we were using was the first version, with twelves stages/steps.

Eventually, around about the age of 3 or 4, 'Baby' seemed to be able to tolerate a biscuit for Day One of her trial, then Day Two, until around the age of 5 or 6, 'Baby' finally seemed OK with malted milk biscuits, and we had a glimmer of hope! We had achieved the first rung of the (then) twelve step milk ladder... but the twelfth rung seemed an awfully long way off!

Then we hit a bit of a wall!!


Stalled!

Illness followed, lots of it, 'cos 'Baby' had started school, and seemed to come down with EVERYTHING that came her way. With her immune system down so much during that first year of school, and a number of unexpected 'milk challenges' (where she ended up eating things at school that had milk in, by mistake), we couldn't seem to find a suitable window to challenge 'Baby' any further. 

It was especially tricky as I wanted to be able to keep an eye on 'Baby', in case she reacted badly - if she was at school and had a bad tummy it would be tricky for her to deal with and might be mistaken for a tummy bug. And then, once we did find a window, sometime during Year One, it was a tricky job finding something suitable for the next step - the baked muffin.

It should have been simple, but I couldn't find plain muffins. 'Baby' didn't like Blueberry muffins (she took exception to the blueberries), or lemon muffins, and I thought chocolate chip muffins would be several steps too far, as chocolate is much higher up the ladder. Stuck, I decided to try 'Baby' with mini Battenburg slices, which worked for a while, until she got bored of eating those. 

Even the inducement of completing the ladder was not enough to persuade 'Baby' to continue eating Battenburg. She was also bored of eating malted milks (shock/horror/groan), so we had to drop those too (and she hasn't eaten another since, to the best of my knowledge). I just couldn't understand it - at her age, I'd have loved the chance to gobble down malted milks and Battenburg slices galore!!

I did consider baking some plain muffins, but 'Baby' is notoriously fussy and if she did like them, or failed the challenge they would all go to waste, as we didn't have much room in the freezer.


Making progress!!

If it wasn't for another trip to our dietitian, I'm not sure we would have made much progress. We saw someone new, who confidently asserted that if 'Baby' was OK with one item of baked milk, then she would be OK with all forms of baked milk. 

I was a bit doubtful, to be quite honest, as I'd heard of others slowly incrementally creeping their way up the ladder (having broken the steps just even further, by starting with a quarter of this and a half of that). But as it happened the new iMAP milk ladder works by the same principle as the advice the dietitian had given us - the former twelve steps, have now been amalgamated into six (see here).

Not quite daring to take the dietitian at her word, we tested 'Baby' thoroughly with croissants and all sorts of other baked goods (although not those containing dairy substances from higher up the ladder), just to make sure, and sure enough, she was absolutely fine with them!! So, our confidence boosted, it was onwards and upwards!! 

And, to our surprise, each step of the way, 'Baby' aced it. Our surprise being mainly down to the fact that progress had been so long drawn out in the early stages, and here she was flying through!


Reaching the top

Having lived with a dairy free child for so long, watched so carefully over her, and having longed so much for a resolution to her allergy, I could hardly believe what was happening. As she aced each step, I was torn between pleasure and pain - pleasure for her progress and pain because she was able to eat things that I still can't. There was, I must admit, the odd twinge of jealousy.

But how can you begrudge the lifting of barriers, the freedom of choosing at will and being able to try out so many different new foods?? The delight and amazement in her voice  the first time 'Baby' went into a garage, with me (to pay for petrol), and suddenly clocked the rows and rows of chocolate and realised she could eat them!! 

'Mummy!' she said, 'look at all this chocolate!'

I suddenly realised, that she, like me, had been studiously avoiding the aisles that contained food that had been 'out of bounds' due to her allergy.


She was so excited, I took a piccy!

Of course, I had to let her try something, but that was tricky in itself. In fact, she was so spoiled for choice, that she couldn't decide what she would like and I had to choose something for her! 

Oddly enough, 'Baby' was quite hesitant about the whole process, of climbing the milk ladder, especially as we neared the end, and she realised she would no longer be the 'Dairy Free Baby'. 

'I like being dairy free,' she announced, 'it makes me special.'

'But you are special,' I told her, 'just by being you.'

'And anyway,' I added, 'you'll be able to eat all kinds of things, like ice cream...'

And then she asked...

'What if I don't like milk?

'Well that's OK,' I said, 'you don't have to drink cow's milk, you can still have your soya milk.'

I'm not sure she was that convinced!

And now??

So what for us now? Infinity and beyond??

Well 'Baby' still wants to hold on to her title of 'Baby' - she's rather attached to it, and I'm still holding on to the blog title - for now, anyway. I'd like to keep it available as a resource, for others. I'm hoping to continue to add posts - as and when I have the time. 

And funnily enough, now she's no longer dairy free, and loving the ice cream, cream buns and so on, for 'Baby', soya milk is still her milk of choice... unless it comes to hot chocolate, or milkshake, in which case she doesn't seem to mind, quite so much. AND she still prefers her dairy free cheese!! Good news for Violife then, as she probably keeps them in business!!

And The Hub, is quite happy to have a partner in crime with whom to share delicious treats - things which he'd avoided eating in front of her, in case she became upset. It was chocolate eclairs the other day! *sigh* At least I can get a free from version of those in the Tesco freezer department!

And then there's my mother, who couldn't get her head around the whole milk exclusion thing in the first place, and who now can't get her head around the fact that 'Baby' can eat ANYTHING she wants!! And there's my mother-in-law who keeps slipping 'Baby' choccy treats - oh well - can't have it all my own way!

And then there's me, still being dairy free who can't seem to tolerate milk (perhaps because I excluded milk for five years, so I could breastfeed) who will be continuing to look out for relevant products and  information - to share with anyone who needs it.

Oh, and by the way 'Baby' would like you to know that she's still very keen on baking, and now helping me write blog posts, as well!! She's been reading this post, and making little suggestions of her own, which she wants me to include. Ho Hum!! I suppose she's entitled to - she was the reason it all got started, in the first place.


Final thing:

BIG THANKS to all the lovely online dietitians and other medical professionals who have contributed, pointed me in the right direction and generously shared their knowledge on Twitter. Particular mentions go to Carina Venter, Julia Marriott and Lisa Waddell. You ladies are all stars - big, bright, shiny and glittery. I hope your patients and colleagues truly appreciate your work. I know I do!



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Related Links:

The iMAP Milk Ladder 2017 taken from:

Better recognition, diagnosis, and management of non-Ige mediated cow's milk allergy in infancy; iMAP - an international interpretation of the MAP (Milk Allergy in Primary Care) guideline by Carina Venter*, Trevor Brown*, Rosan Meyer, Joanne Walsh, Neil Shah, Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, Tong Xin Chen, David M. Fleischer, Ralf G. Heine, Michael Levin, Mario C. Vieria and Adam Fox      *Contributed equally