Sunday, 14 June 2009

Star Solution of Hope #1: Engevita Yeast Flakes

In many ways, the medical diagnosis of a child’s food allergies is not the starting point. The starting point probably came weeks or months earlier, when it was clear that something didn’t agree with your child.

In the case of my daughter, it was eczema and skin infections from 2 months old, and recurrent chest infections. It was noticing that her cheek came up in hives when one of her siblings gave her a buttery kiss. It was her point blank refusal to have yogurt or cheese spooned into her mouth, and most damningly, it was a Doctor’s letter to a Consultant headed,
'9 month old infant girl, failure to thrive’.

It’s almost a relief when the skin prick tests and blood tests show a food allergy. It means you can march up to that sceptical husband/Mother-in-Law/Yummy Mummy, wave dramatic blood test results in their face and say,
'See! I told you my Mother’s instinct was right!’

But, when I received that firm diagnosis, the future looked very bleak indeed. What was I supposed to feed my 9 month old? What was I supposed to feed my breast-feeding self to ensure my milk remained allergen free?

To keep me allergen free, I scrabbled around eating lots of hummus and rice cakes, and on one memorable evening a thick custard made with water, sweetened with golden syrup and enhanced with cocoa powder. Yum. Now 3 years on, I mercifully don’t have to worry about breast-feeding. This is because on the eve of her first birthday, my littlest finally consented to drink a bottle of what we kindly and tactfully call, ‘stinky milk’ (Nutramigen formula milk). As she glugged down her first bottle of stinky milk, I did shed a tear because it was the end of my breast-feeding career. And having wiped away the tear, I poured myself an enormous glass of red wine, because hey, I’m no longer poisoning the baby, right? It was quite a joyful moment.

However, 3 years on, I do still have to worry about providing a balanced vegetarian diet for a child with egg, cows milk, goats milk, brazil nut and mustard allergies. And before you hop around trying to mount your high horse whilst berating me for not feeding her meat or fish in the face of such a restricted diet… I would throttle veal for her if she would eat it, but alas, she’s a bit of a picky one.

Oh, and all you vegans now galloping away on your horrified horse…I wouldn’t really raise veal for her and slaughter it with my own bare hands. That’s just a turn of phrase.

So, a very small pool of ingredients from which I may fish, how on earth am I going to keep this child healthy? By the seat of my pants is how I do it. Whilst my other three hungry children are wolfing down eggs on toast, or cheese, tomato and onion on toast, (a ‘Nanny Toasty’), I am scrabbling around in the cupboard for the last tin of beans for, beans on toast.

When I’ve served Lentil Bolognese (I really must post that recipe), and the other three children are gaily sprinkling the Parmesan, I move her chair carefully out of the cheese zone, and instruct the others not to touch her. And on bad nights, when I’m exhausted and everyone is eating pasta, oil and cheese, I close my eyes to the blanket of ketchup that she has lovingly laid over her meal.

Which is why, I am always so delighted when I find something that might make my life a little easier. And in Engevita Marigold Yeast Flakes I have found a friend. They are described as having a cheesy or nutty taste, and they have…a cheesy or nutty taste. They are also packed full of B vitamins. No I don’t really know what B vitamins are good for either, but I know they are vitamins, ergo, they are good. Vitamins are what my girlie needs. These little flakes melt when they are warmed, so I merrily sprinkle them into soups, beans, Lentil Bolognese, and I mix them with olive oil when I’m doing that trashy meal of pasta and oil that I mentioned earlier. I think Vegetation at The Veggie Patch might have a recipe for a ‘cheesy’ dip for tortilla chips as well, I’ll have to pop over and ask her for it soon.

Of course they are not going to solve the restricted diet problem, but they are a little nugget of hope. Which is why I mentioned them. If you have allergies or cook for someone with allergies, then you know that a little hope goes a long way. As does an enormous glass of red wine.

Yeast flakes are available from Goodness Direct and if your health food store is worth its salt, they should have them too. If they don’t have them, they should order them for you. And if they don’t order them, think evil thoughts about them, and order some online.

Pssst, do you like the new 'Star Solution of Hope' Series?? I've got a whole host of them, some more random than others. Stay tuned...

© Pig in the Kitchen 2009