Including the different child

Time and time again here in Poland I see the food allergy kids being forgotten. They sit on the sideline watching their friends eat cake or whatever it is thats been brought to school / nursery. It makes me so incredibly sad.

In Sweden there are rules against this, schools (and nurseries) have to follow government guidelines, this means there are strict food policies and also inclusion policies. No child is to be treated different. Basically, it means, that if there is cake in class, suitable cake must be provided for ALL of the children. If this somehow fails there is a report system in place with a chain of command that you make your complaint to and there will be an investigation.

In Dubai we were lucky to have an amazingly supportive school and a food policy that suited us. There were no laws backing us up, but caring adults and a large dose of common sense, meaning a small child should be included in a school environment, not excluded. No matter what the child says, it is not ok to have a kid sit and watch friends eat. School – in my opinion – should be for learning, and once you start teaching kids that its ok to exclude another child based on their allergies, religious beliefs, autoimmune diseases, then you are going down a very very wrong path.

We teach our children to respect others, to not point at the morbidly obese, not to laugh at others misfortune, to be caring and nurturing individuals, but how then, does it make sense to have a child in a class room or lunch room going without? It goes against everything we are teaching them, and if you ask the young children themselves, it upsets them too. Most would rather have a toy or a treat that everyone can eat. It isn’t that hard really. And if it feels to difficult, then simply ban foods that exclude from a school environment. It is the right thing to do.

I haven’t had enough fight in me in the past few months to deal with this. But the fight needs to go on. The sad thing is…. it shouldn’t have to be a fight at all 😦

Please do share this post, not for me, but for all the children it affects.


Swedish Style Birthday Cake (Cream Cake)


Originally Posted on Gluten Free UAE in January 2012

It was my sons birthday over Eid and I wanted to make him a traditional Swedish cake, this is what we always make for all our birthdays, but this was my first gluten free version. I cheated a little but it was very yummy so I thought I would share 🙂

You will need:
2 Mrs Crimbles Muffin & sponge mix (Lulu’s & Spinneys sell these)
Whipping cream
Strawberries or other fruit for decorating
Chocolate cream or strawberry jam
For chocolate cream, mix 3 table spoons coco powder with 3 table spoons sugar and stir with cream until its a buttery consistency (keep adding cream as needed), if you like it sweeter just add some extra sugar.

Follow the instructions on the Mrs Crimbles mix and add the mix to two breaded tins. (1 mix per tim)
I only have one round tin, so I did my cakes one at a time. Thats fine too 🙂 (For the breading I always use gluten free cornflakes that I wizz in my mini chopper for 30 seconds or so. Much cheaper then any shop bought bread mix and tastes nice too, make sure you use butter and not low fat oil, this is birthday cake after all)
Let your two cakes cool.
Assemble your cake just before serving, so if you have baked the cake parts the night before, just cover in plastic and leave them.
To assemble, pop one cake on a tray and put your chosen filling on, you can use gf custard, chocolate cream or any jam you like. Its usually strawberry jam, but my son wanted chocolate so thats what we did.  Once its somewhat even, add your second layer of cake on top.
Whip your cream with half a spoon of sugar or some vanilla essence if you like it better.
Cover the entire cake in whipped cream. You can make it all pretty if you know how, or you can just add it all in any way you like and smooth it with a spatula. Add your strawberries to decorate your cake. Serve!

You can offcourse use any other sponge mix or make your own, I liked the Mrs crimbles one, it was easy to make and tasted good. Apologies for the bad photo, it was taken in hindsight rather then to showcase the cake. Oops 😛


Who needs an oven? Cake in 5 minutes!

There I was stressing about the cake, ran around several shops yesterday morning to try to get a whisk, a mini chopper, essentials you know. But in the end, the cake became a trusted old ice cream cake made with nothing other then a spoon and a hand whisk using 2 ingredients! Sure, it may not have been super stunning (although the kids thought it was) but it sure was super delicious!

So heres a recipe for you. You need;

  • 1 tub of ice cream (I used chocolate chip)
  • whipping cream
  • decorations

You need to;

  • Spoon ice cream on to a plate or tray, you have to work fast so it doesn’t melt to much. Mould it in to some kind of shape. I wanted round so round it was.
  • Carefully spread your whipped cream on top, and cover the whole thing. If you know how to make it pretty, by all means, go ahead 😉
  • Decorate with berries or sweets or even gluten free Oreos!

Pop the ‘cake’ in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to harden a little. Don’t go crazy or the cream gets very hard.



Another birthday taken care of, who needs super pretty when its super yum?


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Another birthday and Im not ready!!!!

Tomorrow big brother turns 7, can you believe I have a 7 year old son? I certainly cant! Im very exited for him because I know his present will make him super chuffed, but Im stressing about the cake! I have yet to fill my baking equipment cupboard, I don’t have my trusted machines, and I don’t recognise any of the products in the shops! I need a mini chopper, a whisk, tins and pans and baking powder thats certified gluten free and yeast and BREAAAATHEE!!! There is no way I will find any of those things by tomorrow. I need to order most of it from amazon and last time I checked they didn’t deliver that fast. Wish I had been more organised.

So, 2 options then, Swedish chocolate sticky cake or ice cream cake (home made). I just so desperately don’t want my super kid to be disappointed, its hard enough being in a new country and not having any friends yet to invite to a party!

Any ideas for a cake rescue? Gluten free obviously?



Gluten Free and 4 Birthday Parties

Originally Posted on Gluten Free UAE in May 2013

Birthday Party. Just that bit alone right there is enough to make many parents take a big deep breath.
Birthday parties are supposed to be fun and enjoyable for all, but for the parent of a child with a special dietary need it can be a hugely stressful event.

Just as every Celiac (intolerant / allergic) child is different, so is every parent of a Celiac child.

While some parents are happy with a host preparing food for their child, others are not, others again cant be. Because no matter how hard a host may try, the child will almost certainly get sick.

I get many people approach me to ask what they should feed a gluten free guest at a party, and my reply is always the same, ASK them, ASK the mother. Because what is right for me and my child, may not be right for someone else.

My own child is hyper sensitive, so for someone to feed her would be an absolute no go. I will make her food thank you very much, less stress on the host and less stress for me, and above all, SAFE for my child. People sometimes get offended when you don’t want them to cater to your child, but lets remember here, that as little as a part of one stray crumb can cause a reaction, thats as little as a speck of gluten stuck in a chopping board. A tiny speck not because your chopping board is dirty, but because its been used for gluten foods. We all have to remember here that this is not about being polite, its about being safe. So yes, Im happy to give brands of gluten free sweets for a goodie bag or list gluten free ice cream brands and drinks, but the food, thats my department and I wont have it any other way.
Off course, this means that every party we go to, I have to replicate all the party food best as I can. If the other kids are having mini burgers, pizza and chocolate cake, so will mine! Lots of work on my part, but I will gladly do it to have my child not feel left out.

There are parties and there are parties. I used to love going to birthday parties in someones home. Sit and chill with the other adults while the kids play. Those parties now look very very different. There is often a buffet set up with food, which means children and adults are all helping themselves throughout, often running around with a biscuit in their hand. Its a total gluten horror scene when you are the parent of a small gluten free kid. I often find myself stalking my child with my packet of hand wipes making sure she doesn’t put her fingers in her mouth. Over reaction? I challenge anyone who thinks so to spend 5 days with my daughter after she is contaminated.
Much better now the play area parties, the kids play for an hour or 2, no food in sight, then they all sit nicely and eat before going home. Easy to control.

What about the gluten free childs own birthday? We have had 3 now, and all were great, a learning curve for me and also goes to show that even the parent of a hyper sensitive celiac can learn to relax if only just a little 🙂

Party number 1. 
We were just over a month in to our diagnosis and Celiac kid was turning two. I was still very much learning the ropes but I had made the house a gluten free zone. I was not yet the expert gluten free baker / cook that I am today and I was very very worried about getting things right while keeping her safe.

I ended up having a small birthday breakfast, the only people invited were 4 close mum friends (and their kids) who ‘got it’ and who were all super supportive. I made fruit salad, coffee & tea, had biscuits and crackers available, and for the cakes I did a chocolate fudge cake (Swedish kladdkaka) and an ice cream cake. The party was a success and as the setting was small and intimate in a gluten free environment we were all able to relax.

Party number 2.
After just over a year of being diagnosed we were ready to take on the bigger party in a gluten environment. I went with the easier option and we went to a play area. The other kids ate gluten foods and my kid ate her food, then they all ate a gorgeous gluten free chocolate cupcake with pink icing and princess decorations. I went with cup cakes because I was nervous about the blowing out the candles part of the party with so many young kids, the kids often help to blow and cant help themselves but may also touch the cake possibly contaminating it with gluten. Cup cakes made me relax because I was able to give birthday girl a fresh cup cake when serving with no risk of contamination. None of the gluten eaters even realised they were eating gluten free so all in all a success again.

Party number 3.
This is actually not Celiac kids birthday party but big brothers. He wanted to have a party at home, and with us being gluten free it was off course a gluten free party. Gluten free food is expensive, and hard work doing it all yourself when you cant get anything catered! With some imagination it all worked out. We did chicken drum sticks, crudites and chips and dips and a pasta salad. Then big brother wanted cup cakes because thats what his sister had had. A very successful party and the first time I catered to many people gluten free in my home. It was so nice watching my kids play at a party and just be ‘normal‘. No hand wipes in sight!

Party number 4. 
We are experts by now. Celiac kid wants a BIG party. So its off to a play area again, to much stress doing all the food myself again. My daughter wanted just one thing this year, to have a party, a BIG party, and to eat her cake. So I put my big brave pants on and ordered a cake from skinny genie. We are not easy to bake for as we always aim for 0 gluten, but skinny genie did a great job, no food colourings, no artificial flavours no ingredients that may have come in to contact with any gluten at any point during the manufacturing process. They even managed to make it pink, and with chocolate. When my daughter saw the cake she gasped and said, ‘Mummy, is it mine? Can I eat it?’ She was so so exited. She didn’t stop smiling for over 2 hours, then ate 2 huge pieces of cake. I fought hard to blink back tears.

As parents all we want is for our children to be safe and happy. It IS possible to make sure they are both, at the same time, although sometimes it takes some extra work. Im exited to add more parties to our list in the years to come. Please keep inviting the food intolerant / allergic / celiac kids to your homes, talk to the mums, we are happy to help.


Cake by skinny genie Dubai,
tel 04 33 888 98

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