Our son recently had a blood test to see where his allergies were at, the good news was that lentils have made a significant decrease, but the elusive and more valued dairy, egg and nuts have continued to be stubborn and have gotten, slightly worse. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I remember asking our specialist […]
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in my small part of the planet Trifle is a dessert that is synonymous with Christmas. My Mother in Law makes a killer trifle. If you don’t know what’s in a trifle, please let me enlighten you on our version; in a large glass bowl you place a base of sherry soaked jelly roll (sponge cake rolled upon itself with a jam interior), a layer of jelly (jello) with seasonal fruit, a layer of custard and to top it off, a fluffy light blanket of cream. So with every scoop, you need to excavate vertically, carefully, so you obtain a little bit of all of the layers, and it looks like a riot of colour on your plate, very Christmas!
After a large Christmas Eve dinner, I crave trifle, not the plum pudding and brandy butter – although that is also very good. But as you can imagine here in Western Australia, Christmas Eve temperature is forecasted to be 35′C or 95F - so I crave cold comfort food to cool me down.
Now my little 5 1/2 year old is allergic to almost everything in a trifle except for the jam, jelly and fruit. Loving a cooking challenge, I set my self the task of creating an allergy free version of my much-loved trifle, safe for him to eat. I have to thank many a blogger for helping me to accomplish this, so with each step I have acknowledged gratefully these wonderful cooks and chefs for giving me the inspiration and the recipes to make something special for our little guy.
Bobby’s Trifle – Dairy and Egg Free
This sponge cake is based on a Fluffy White Cupcake recipe from Shmooed Food; I have used this recipe many a time and it is a wonderful base for birthday cakes and is delicious and moist. I made this cake in a flat baking tray, I was careful to only half fill it. When the cake was cooked I used the baking paper to gently roll it – alas it did crack and didn’t do a smooth roll, I quickly wrapped it in cling film in its rolled position and put in the fridge. For the trifle I just cut a slice and placed it in the bottom of the glass and placed a teaspoon or two of orange juice (to replace the sherry).
The traditional trifle has a vanilla custard, last time I made this it was not such a big hit with my son, who prefers all things chocolate. So to guarantee a winning combination I made a chocolate custard. I found a great recipe here by Veggieful. After making the custard and before putting it in the fridge my boy had a taste, and of course he wanted to eat the rest of the bowl!
The easiest part of the dish besides the fresh fruit, I used Aeroplane Jelly - Raspberry flavour.
I used strawberries, blueberries and seedless grapes.
Typically trifle is gently entombed with fresh cream. I was contemplating using a whipped coconut cream but thought about the heaviness of this for a little 51/2 year old stomach, so elected to do a shaved white chocolate – thank you Sweet William for making dairy free chocolate!
My son has witnessed the assembly of his trifle and now there is a countdown to eating this dessert as well as Santa’s delivery - “how many more minutes Mum”?!
A special thank you to all the people who inspire me – my son, my husband and my family, bloggers, readers, commentators, likers, face book friends, blog readers, thank you! I hope you and your family have a safe and happy festive season, Charmaine x
And for my allergy friends – here’s to dreaming and wishing for an allergy free Xmas…..one day soon xxx
I love getting feedback on the blog, and a little while ago, Alicia asked some questions that I thought I’d cover in more detail in this post. Alicia wanted to know “what were the top 5 things I would have liked to have known/asked when my son was diagnosed with allergies.” A good question, but tough to answer!
Tiffany’s cartoon above, really highlights one of the key things I wanted to know – why did my son develop allergies? Many people asked me the same question, was it: something I might have done /or didn’t do - whilst I was pregnant, was my house too clean, should I have kept a pet, was my diet poor (!). I wish I could answer this question, I hope and pray that medical researchers find the answer soon, like tomorrow!
But in the interim, I am going to try to identify the top 5 things that would have helped/ or has helped me stay calm and sane, when we first got the diagnosis:
1. Find a good counsellor – I am proud to say – that I got some help!
After 18 months of living with life threatening allergies and asthma, trips via ambulance, hospitalisation and a short stay in ICU for my son, I was feeling like a nervous wreck! A friend of mine gently encouraged me to see her counsellor; the best thing I ever did! In this supportive and objective space I was able to discuss all my issues in relation to illness, fear and anxiety. Not only did I start to feel more in control, I also learned something valuable; the concept of ‘itchy’ and how to keep my son safe. Just a note on this if you need to talk or download some stress, there is always Lifeline – open 24/7 based in Australia. If you are overseas I am sure there must be a free support service via phone or internet, find it – it is always good to have a safety valve, keep the number handy in case you need to download.
2. “Itchy” a great term to get your child aware of allergies
How do you explain to your child that they have allergies in a way they understand, my counsellor suggested using the word “itchy”; children understand words that they can relate to, they can feel, allergy doesn’t mean much to an 18 month old. So at a very early age I would explain to my son about “itchy” food. To this day he still describes foods he can’t have as being “itchy for him”. So far he has never tried to put any ‘itchy’ food in his mouth or food I haven’t prepared for him.
3. When you are in the ER or Accident and Emergency Room in the Hospital you are a critical part of the care team; speak up!
Having made many visits to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, my husband and I realised that we had to advocate for our child; that we are part of the care team and that our concerns needed to be taken into consideration. I am not saying that we have sub-standard medical care here, on the contrary we are fortunate to have a world-class, leading children’s hospital – virtually on our door step! We have excellent medical support, but no one knows our child like we do, when the Emergency Room is rushed and staff are under pressure, you need to assert any concerns you may have about the treatment or discharge plan for your child; ask questions, advocate for your child, you are also part of the care team, not just the Doctors & Nurses.
4. Regular exposure to foods.
My child had food allergies at a young age, however he was able to eat fish – often a high allergy, food protein. What I didn’t know was that stopping fish for a period of about 4 weeks and then re-introducing it, can create a future allergic response.. There was no real reason I stopped giving him fish when he was about 12 months of age, but when I re-introduced it he developed hives all around his face and started throwing up; very scary, we gave him anti-histamine straight away, washed him down and ended up in an ambulance and in hospital (he was discharged a few hours later). I do beat myself up about this, but I didn’t know that you need to give these type of foods regularly, about once per week. You make mistakes, you learn and (for peace of mind) you have to move on; another one of my (many) mantras. So now he has an allergy to a certain type of fish it’s called Snapper. A skin prick test and food challenge last year demonstrated he could safely consume Salmon, Whiting and Tuna, and he now gets that every second, or third day, on a regular basis.
5. Find a good Medical Team to support you
I guess I am very lucky that we have a wonderful family Doctor, Doctor Deb, I have been seeing her for years, she has been a great support on this journey. In fact my husband and I joke that we must have funded several of her Christmas holidays, given the many visits we made to her practice during the first four years of our son’s life.
Through Dr Deb we were referred to a Pediatric Allergist, Dr A. Dr A is a wonderful specialist, not only does she get the stress of being a parent of an allergic child, she is not pushy with the treatment plan (for food challenges); my son was scheduled for an almond food challenge at the start of this year, but I postponed it because I was feeling a bit stressed about him starting school, she understood. Dr A is contactable by email, so that means if you have any queries out of your review appointments you can get in touch with her directly; a specialist that has embraced technology and understands the stress of being a parent of an allergic child – double gold!
So I have got some scars from this journey, it has been tough. But coming into 2012, I know a lot more than I did before. I am learning to release my anxiety, stress and the unrealistic expectations that I should be a Doctor, Allergist, Nurse, Dietitian/Nutritionist and a Chef, (NOT!), My focus now is just being a centered and grounded person which will hopefully translate into a being a good (less paranoid and over protective) Mum to my son.
Thank you Alicia for asking the question, writing this has been cathartic and I hope it helps you and anyone else facing the same issues.
Would love to hear your comments, what are your top 5? What activities help you download your stress?
Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Charmaine, my son Bobby has multiple food allergies. This blog is about staying positive, sharing information and doing the allergy journey without fear! When we found out that our son Bobby had multiple food allergies at 6 months of age, we had no one to talk […]