My top 6 #Back2School items for an allergy kid!

So, Im one of those mums remember? (Eye roll as you see fit). As one of those mums back to school is a little bit harder, and a little bit more stressful. Whether you are new to the allergy / celiac game or an old timer, my list of must haves may help make your life a teeny bit easier. Aili was diagnosed as a baby, not yet 2 years old, now she is over 7, and making sure I have these allergy must haves around is totally routine.

  1. Gluten Free labels! I stick these on all our lunch box containers, these serve as a great reminder for any teacher or other adult approaching my child and hopefully reminds them to not touch my carefully prepared allergy safe meal. These are from Ladybug Labels and they ship internationally. The labels are dishwasher safe and stay on for a long time. Through the years I tried many different brands and these win hands down. The quality is superb and they are easy to peel off and stick. (http://www.ladybuglabels.com)
  2. Name labels. The last thing I need is for my kids to lose anything (they do, anyway obviously, especially my son, lol), but even worse would be their stuff getting mixed up with someone elses. All their lunch gear including cutlery has a name label. Again I tried many different ones from different companies and these are now my go to every year. Delivery is fast and cheap even for international delivery. I always get the plain label, it sticks well, peels off easily and is dishwasher safe. I still have some labels from when my son was 4 that are stuck on! He’s almost 10 now, thats value for money right there! These are from Easy2name and come in lots of different colours. (https://www.easy2name.com)
  3. Good lunch boxes! My kids bring lunch to school every day and I need something that lasts, is good value for money, and works! It needs to be able to keep my kids food hot or cold, and I need to be able to clean it easily as it goes in to a contaminated environment on a daily basis. We now use only Pottery Barn lunch boxes. The kids get to pick a new one every second September, so we have a few, the first ones we ever got are still alive and kicking (!). We use lunch boxes for every day outings as well, so even though the Pottery barn boxes aren’t exactly cheap, the fact that they are practically indestructible makes them value for money. I pop them in the washing machine regularly to clean them and so far, no problems! Pottery Barn also delivers internationally! (http://www.potterybarnkids.com)
  4. Good Thermoses! My son goes through anti cold food phases, especially in winter. Ive tried so many thermoses its unreal, many of the kids ones are actually good, but to small for my growing boy! I also found many are hard to open once the hot food is in and I prefer my kids to be able to open their own containers. Surprisingly, the best food thermoses I have found are the IKEA ones (or maybe not so surprising, it is SWEDISH after all, haha). They are a great size, easy to open, no flimsy silly seals that come off after 5 uses, and best of all, I can wash them in the dishwasher (they do say not to, but I do and so far no problems). As far as affordability goes they are amazing. The food stays nice and hot too which is obviously great as so many thermoses don’t keep their heat well. (http://www.ikea.com)

     

  5. Baby Wipes and hand wipes. Seriously, you cant get enough of these babies! I keep them in every school bag, in every handbag and each kid has some in school. The baby wipes are sometimes on special and you can get a box with it, cover the box in funky stickers and make it non babyish for school. Alco gel is of no use as it does not kill gluten or other allergens, allergens need to be washed / wiped off! You can get wipes in pretty much any shop. Not all wipes are gluten safe! Johnsons contain no gluten.
  6. A good freezer block. Again, I tried so many. Having had my kids in school in Dubai I may have gotten overly paranoid about the whole cooling issue, but unless you are sending a hot lunch you really do need to worry. These allergy / celiac kids are often more sensitive then others, and the last thing we want is to give our kids food poisoning. I have every size and shape imaginable, these ones are firm favourites as they are slimmer then others, come in pretty colours and stay frozen until lunch time even though they are slimmer. I got these particular ones in Jula. (Yup, another Swedish shop!) (http://www.jula.com)

Anyone want to add anything? Is there something you cant live without for sending your allergic or celiac kid to school? Id love to know 🙂

If you like this list, join me on Facebook!

 

Bolesławiec

I have to tell you all about our little trip to Bolesławiec! Although dont ask me to spell that again, or say it, its really hard to say it.

Basically, every Polish person knows this town, and so do most tourists. Its where the famous polish pottery is made and sold.

Now, Im a white and pastels kind of girl, not really in to these patterns and stuff, so when hubby asked if I will be buying anything I said “no, probably not, but its the kind of place you have to have been to”. (Im laughing now as I write this- just wait)

So, off we went in the car, we were in a group so drove there together, the drive was around 1 hour and 15 minutes from Wroclaw, and that was not the kind off full blast driving I may have done if I was alone.

Im not going to bore you all with every minor detail, lets just say we went to A LOT of pottery shops. In the first one I bought a couple of things, in the second some more, and so on….. Yes. I bought something in every shop. And let me tell you, pastels and white NO MORE. Polish pottery all the way! We had Chris with us, my friend from the blog Kielbasa stories, we met online via another blogger almost 3 years ago, now we are like bff’s that never see each other, we talk (online) almost daily. She is a bit off a polish pottery addict and I never really got it. Now, Im totally there, she just laughed and said “I knew it!” Basically, its all her fault. She was an awesome guide though, took us to all the right places. Lets get to the pictures, because this is totally a picture post!

Obviously (I mean, obviously) I came home and realised I pretty much have to go straight back because I need more! Heres the stuff I didn’t buy and absolutely need (need. As in, I MUST HAVE IT – you will all help me explain to my husband right?) I mean the sink, I need that sink in my life!

I was sending images to relatives throughout the day, and this pottery may very well be the reason some finally come to visit, LOL!

My haul below, not bad eh? (why didn’t I buy more!!??)

I used half of it already, and Im happy to report it somehow matches my white and pastels!

After we had shopped and browsed some second hand stores we went for lunch. A place called the Blue Beetroot owned by a british-polish couple, real fish and chips, steak pie and other goodies, never mind that stuff though, they managed to feed us gluten free people pretty well, and nobody got sick. They have menus in English and all the staff spoke excellent english as well.

Great day, highly recommend it if you ever go to this area. I cant wait to go again. Thanks Chris! (<- In a good way and a bad way I think….)

 

Holland & Barrett

Oh my gosh! WHY Did I not know about this before? A few days ago I stumbled upon Holland & Barrett while searching for gluten free, eggfree cornfree flours. Randomly clicked around and a few minutes later realised they do International delivery! And guess what, it works out cheaper (delivery wise) then amazon to Poland!

Shopping Corn free, gluten free , wheat free and egg free means there is very very little available to us, but after clicking our allergens on the left and reading ingredients I found flour (!!), bread mixes (!!) biscuits and mayo. Anyone else who is corn free on top of gluten free will know my joy. Soups, so mummy can make lunch occasionally without cooking! Gravy, because making it from scratch every time gets so old, sweets, because kinder egg chocolate – however nice it is – gets boring after a while, ice lollies, because, ICE LOLLIES! Fancy teas for mum, because hey, Im worth it!

Then the joy when half the order came just 3 days later!

My joy though is nothing compared to the joy of little madam who got to eat mayo!

And in 2 days there will be more joy when the rest arrives!!

(This is like the kind of jumping up and down screaming joy that only teenage girls feel. Its A W E S O M E!)

Thank you Holland & Barrett, you made my day!

 

http://www.hollandandbarrett.com

Keep your germs to yourself!!

Its not easy to blog when your stress levels are through the roof. I don’t really feel so stressed but the fact that I cant focus on anything and feel like I have ants in my pants tells the real story. 6 days until Krakow hospital and tests there, then the lung hospital in Rabka. Its like – yet again – our lives are on hold while we wait for this. Celiac kid wears a mask out now and we take a thousand and one steps to ensure she remains un exposed to crap.

Have you ever noticed that people in supermarkets tend to cough straight out in to the air without covering as if they were home alone? In malls its the same thing! Or even worse, they cough over their shoulder and the cough germs lands on the poor unsuspecting person behind them!

The other day in the pharmacy the lady at the till was so obviously ill (coughing, sneezing, and generally spreading germs) that I actually walked out. I mean YUK! And, COMON!!!

I have now become like this grumpy old woman, because while I cant run up to these people and punch them in the head I can show my annoyance with loud comments of YUK and “eeew, Celiac kid did you see that disgusting lady coughing without covering?”

Shameful? Not for me, I assure you, but hopefully for the germ spreaders. You notice a lot when you live like this that you may not otherwise see. Like the lady in TK Maxx two days ago picking up the tea packets and smelling them, but I mean really smelling them, her nose was touching each packet and stayed on the pack while she obviously enjoyed the smell, pack after pack until her nose germs was on like every single one! I was trying to stare as evilly as I could as if my staring would shame her to stop. I mean, is it really normal to do stuff like that? Or am I uber sensitive to peoples germs all of a sudden? Im sorry, but I wouldn’t want to buy that tea ever in a million years after seeing her do that. What is wrong with people?

Even with a mask on and me providing hand wipes and alco gel constantly, it just seems that most people are so disgusting when they are out shopping that going out is just super dangerous. We can avoid parties and crowds fine, but we have to buy food!

Next time you go out to shop, cough in your bloody elbow please and don’t TOUCH stuff with your nose!

eeeew.

-Linda

The masks are from Etsy and can be found here 🙂

EPI!

Gimme an E, gimme a P, gimme an I, what do we have? EPI!!!

Do I sound exited? Thats because I am, cheerleader kind of exited with high leg kicks!

For ages now whenever I say we are gluten free, people ask if we do all our shopping in Epi. Im like… ehhhm, no I go to a few places. Then in my head I think I should visit Epi one day, but I didnt get around to it, we are fine, and how good can it really BE?

Let me tell you how good it can be! So good that my eyes went all shiny and I almost had to cry a happy tear and Im pretty sure the staff were viewing me with great suspicion walking around with my giant smile and shiny eyes.

Walking in to Epi is like walking in to gluten free heaven, or like I described it to hubby, like a mixture between the best spinneys and organic foods and cafe but cheaper and BETTER (Dubai ppl will understand). The jams are all high end good jams, there are tahinis galore, most organic, no other shop in Wroclaw has a choice of 10 tahinis, and they have sunflower seed butter (insert cheerleadery star jumps here)!

Then you get to the gluten free bread section, and its the size of a normal bread section, and part of you is so happy its crazy and the other part a bit disappointed because where are the biscuits and flours…?

Then you get stuck at the freezer section that has a whole freezer just with gluten free! Fish fingers, mini pizzas, lasagne etc. Onwards to the cheese and milk section and they have a ton of lactose free / dairy free cheese and milk and butters.

And meats! Poland might be the country of cold cuts and sausages, but finding gluten free ham and sausages here can be very very difficult. No problem in Epi, daughter and hubby will be happy, they are real sausage lovers.

Then.. then you get to the biscuit section, and there is a giant gluten free section, and flours galore and choice! Isn’t that what we all miss the most? To be able to choose between several things rather then having to buy whatever is there?

I also found organic potatoes (woop woop) and several kinds of organic gluten free drinking chocolate.

Is it expensive… well yes, but buying gluten free and organic stuff is expensive anywhere so actually I don’t think it was that bad.

Will I go back to Epi? HELL YES! I might even move in if they let me!

-Linda

Epi is near Arkady Wroclawski (actually just across the road) and has its own parking, parking is free if you spend money so show your car park card at the till.

They are open 8am-10pm every day except Sunday when they are open 10am-4pm.

http://www.epi.com.pl/site/

Shopping #glutenfree, then and now.

Yes I hash tagged the title. Is that bad? I guess Im lazy, now when I share it on twitter it will have the hashtag ready made! 😉

organic_food_shopping

I talked about shopping before, shopping for food can become a huge part of a gluten free persons life. We are a family of 4 humans, 3 dogs and 1 bird, all who eat gluten free! Its my job to shop for us all.

The first shop after diagnosis is a far cry from how I shop now. Its a far cry from how I shopped a year ago, or even 2 years ago. We all eat wheat and gluten free. Yeah, wheat free and gluten free are not always the same thing although I really wish they were. many so called  gluten free items out there are a no go for us.

So how do I shop? How long does it take? How many shops do I need to go to?

At first Id go to 3-5 supermarkets a week, the shopping would take anything from 30 mins to 2-3 hours. I rarely take longer then 30 mins now, I don’t read labels much, partly because they are in polish and I cant, and partly because I have cut out most of the processed junk we are so used to eating. Cutting out the processed junk means I no longer need to go in most aisles!

I go in the fruit and veg section, the meat section and dairy section, I take a quick peek in the gluten free section, and occasionally buy something. My processed foods are few and far between, passata, non gmo european corn, tinned chickpeas, artisan gluten free sausages, organic muesli bars (gluten free obviously), rice cakes and a few other bits and bobs. I do this every 1-2 weeks. Then I do small top up runs in my local fruit and veg market and a meat top up dash when needed that takes a few minutes. I only buy fish frozen, as fresh is not that easy to get here.

Thats it, khalas, done!

Do I still obsessively go in shops to look what they have? Sure, do I try new gluten free things whenever I see them, NO! Why? Because I don’t really feel we are missing anything in our lives or pantry. I try new products only if its a product we need. I am such a saint. (Of course I haven’t mentioned the jelly beans and occasional marshmallows and chocolate that sometimes slips in, that would make me sound far less healthy and saintly, but hey, this saint is human, and sweets don’t count, as long as you only eat them on Saturdays…right? 😀 )

If someone had come along 3 years ago and tried to teach me to shop how I shop now, I am not sure how I would have taken it, things were still so new, maybe I needed to go through that fase of trying everything to really figure out we didn’t need it, maybe I would have embraced the knowledge and saved a lot of time, not to mention money!

I have learned so much about gluten and pesticides and CRAP in our foods in the last few years, that even if Celiac was cured tomorrow, no WAY would we go back to eating how we used to. I have always loved cooking, always liked and preferred to make things from scratch rather then a packet, my ingredients though have changed so much.

I would love to hear how your shopping habits have changed and if there is any advice you wish someone had given you at the beginning? Or do we need to learn it by living it?

-Linda

(I share a ton of rantings and food tips on facebook, join us!)

 

Moving time! (again)

What a week!

Friday morning last week we were in Poznan, Friday evening we were in Wroclaw. By Sunday I had somehow magically managed to unpack everything! Then a frantic whizzing from place to place to sort out the school, kennels for dogs for our trip, food shopping, food shopping research (gluten free peeps know exactly what I mean!) etc etc.

We somehow managed to pick a great area for ourselves without ever having visited (thats how we roll, haha). Its great with tons of greenery, kids and barking dogs.

Im not sure what it is with barking dogs here…. if my dogs bark they get told off, but it seems here many people have dogs to deter from break-ins, and a quiet dog sleeping indoors obviously doesn’t deter much, so dogs are left stood in gardens barking. Drives me slightly bonkers, but it is what it is. At least I feel totally warranted to smile smugly at all these dog owners that MY dogs are so well trained and don’t bark.

We found a great little shop that sells organic produce and some freshly baked gluten free goods. I was to scared to get any of the baked stuff because even though the lady assured me it was baked in a gluten free kitchen you just never know. I need my hubby to go and ask her all the tough questions in Polish. But the produce! Gigantic organic apples that tasted like the apples from my childhood, I cant wait for summer when all the locally grown berries will come!

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The shop is called Awokado – delikatesy ekologiczne, they have a facebook page (opens in new window).

Slightly further up the same road there is yet another eko (organic) shop, a family farm and the produce is sold in someones garden! Eko eggs and veggies. Im in HEAVEN 😀

I have yet to find where the shops selling all the breads are hiding, so far its all schar. Im guessing I need to find another delikatessen. In Poznan we found most of the breads in normal supermarkets. Im sure I will find all what we need eventually.

Few more days now then its Dubai time! Cant wait. Also cant wait to come back and for kids to start their new international school where people speak only english. Happy happy happy! 😀

-Linda