Cooking for kids with allergies
We all know someone with a child who has at least one food allergy.
Perhaps that child is our own.
It’s no longer just that sole kid in the entire school with allergies, like when I was young. The kid that seemed to be allergic to everything and always had a snotty nose. Now, in some schools and daycare settings, ALL classrooms contain at least 2 epi pens. These are not just intolerances. These are life-threatening allergies. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a teacher or educator – knowing that on any average at work you could be administering life-saving medication to a child. It’s just frightening.
Which brings me to wondering what life is like for the parents. I’m dedicating this month to you. I want to hear your unique story. I think it’s important that we share these journeys – as well as the tips and resources we have discovered – with other parents who perhaps have just found out that their child has a food allergy. Please get in touch with me email@example.com, comment below, or use the contact form, and I can send you some questions or ideas for a paragraph or even a full blog post. You could help another parent out much more than you’ll know. Or maybe you just found out that your child has a food allergy – where do you turn for help and support? My mission here is to connect parents who are facing the same challenges. We need one another to survive this crazy role that is parenting!
Contact me please to share your child’s food allergy story, or share a recipe, tips, support…
I have very little personal experience with food allergies. In the 16 years as a nanny (in Europe and Australia), and all the kids I cared for, I only had one child with a dairy allergy. That’s quite a good statistic, I guess. In my family, my sister was recently diagnosed with Coeliac disease, which she is managing very well. There are so many options out there that are gluten-free as long as you’re aware, read the labels, and ask questions when you go out to eat. But she’s an adult who can make informed decisions about what she eats, and knows exactly how it will affect her if she eats gluten in all its many guises. How do your children cope outside in the world – at school or at parties, or someone else’s house? Do they have some strategies in place, a ‘script’ to explain to other people why they can’t have certain foods, or do you need to pack them their own food wherever they go? Help me to understand what your child’s world is like, I have so many questions. Is your home completely free of allergens? How about siblings that don’t have allergies? Do people ever downplay it, ‘oh, it’s just a tiny bit of egg in the biscuit, and it’s cooked well’. Are there ever frustrating situations in which you don’t know what to do or say to someone?
My research into kids with food allergies is not only to satisfy my own curiosity, and to create a supportive hub for parents, but I have recently been asked to do some cooking for several families.
So far, the list of ingredients to omit are egg (one parent is intolerant, and a child is anaphylactic allergic), onions, garlic, beans (fructose intolerant child), high GI foods (due to adrenal issues and mood swings in the child), and gluten (the person is coeliac, it isn’t a lifestyle choice). Throw in some super fussy eaters, and I’ve got quite the challenge! A challenge that I love, though. It makes me want to help these families out in the best and only way I can – by providing nutritious meals that they know are safe from allergens. Their families can eat home-cooked meals, made from scratch, without any additives, salt, or other nasties, and not have to worry about allergic reactions. Not to mention, they’re kid-approved! I don’t make any promises though.
I will share some recipes as I create them, so stay tuned.
A couple of months ago I made a birthday cake for a gorgeous little girl’s third birthday. The cake was for her to share with her daycare friends, and it needed to be gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free (that was more my stipulation, I never use refined sugar), and dairy-free. My bakery skills are similar to a toddler’s – throw everything in a food processor and hope it works out. I don’t want any more steps than that. None.
So, enter the ‘magic bean’ cake. No, we’re not sedating the kids. It’s a cake that uses kidney beans instead of flour. It really is so simple, even I can make it. Successfully. And oh my, it takes like heaven! No beany taste whatsoever.
MAGIC BEAN CAKE
Gluten free, nut free, refined sugar free, and dairy free
- 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 5 eggs
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/3 cup cacao or good quality cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, sea or Himalayan (optional)
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a 20cm round cake tin or cupcake pan.
- Combine kidney beans, water, vanilla extract, coconut oil and 1-2 eggs in a food processor. Process for 5 minutes until smooth and aerated.
- Add remaining ingredients and process for another minute, until well combined.
- Pour into lined cake tin and bake for 20 minutes (cupcakes) – 40 minutes (cake). Keep an eye on the cake so it does not overcook. It will become firm on the top and start pulling away from the sides when ready.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly in tin before turning onto a cooling rack.
(Recipe credit http://www.abc.net.au/local/recipes/2014/01/29/3934279.htm, and original recipe by chef, Sarah Wong)
For the Thermomix version, which I used:
- 420 g can kidney beans or butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or more to taste
- 70 g raw cacao or cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 125 g coconut oil
- 5 eggs
- 140 g rapadura or coconut sugar
- In your TM puree the beans, water, 1 egg and vanilla until smooth on speed 7. Set aside.
- Without washing the bowl, beat the butter and sugar Speed 5 30 seconds
- Add the remaining eggs & beat for 20 seconds SP 4.
- Add bean mixture SP 4 5 seconds.
- Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend SP 4 10 seconds.
- Pour batter into greased and lined 20cm pan and bake in pre-heated oven 180 degrees celcius for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
(Recipe credit https://www.recipecommunity.com.au/baking-sweet-recipes/magic-bean-chocolate-cake/), adapted from Sarah Wong’s recipe)
For the topping, I used whipped coconut cream and fresh berries, coconut chips, and chia seeds (see photo).