Thursday, 22 January 2015

When food challenges seem to fail...

OH!...... BOTHER!!

'Baby's' at it again... sniffling and snivelling like a good 'un!

I mean, I wouldn't mind, but this has been going on and on for months - off and on - in fact, ever since she started school! I know, I know, they catch all sorts at school, so it was bound to happen, really, but I really need to get on and do another milk challenge* with her! And they're really not advised, if your little one is not in tip top condition - they tend to have a stronger reaction, if it all goes pear-shaped! Good health being required for a milk challenge, finding a time when 'Baby' has been well enough to challenge, has become a challenge in itself!

BAH!!

Our last milk challenge was months and months ago (read about it here). It started well... but then, well events overtook -the final bit of emptying-flat-for-sale coincided with being unable to nail down the dietitian. By the time she got back in touch, we'd lapsed from our daily biscuit and suddenly, it seemed 'Baby' wasn't tolerating them any more.

Strange! 

And incredibly disheartening! It had all been going so well - we'd never got this far before. And nobody had ever mentioned the merest possibility of going backwards! Going back down the 'Milk Ladder,' that is!**

Once upon a time, you'd have hardly heard it mentioned - on Twitter, FB and the like - but now it seems that almost everyone (well, almost every allergy Tweeter) is talking about 'Food Challenges' and 'The Milk Ladder.' Partly, I think, that's because it's taking a while for research and good practice to filter through to grass roots level, as it were, and partly because there's a lot more of us allergy mums out there, who are blogging and tweeting about it now.

It's a good thing, I think - the more people share about the nuts and bolts of their experiences... well, it informs others going through the same thing, doesn't it? Particularly when getting hold of good advice can sometimes prove a challenge in itself! 

I get really excited (and envious) when I hear of children passing these challenges and moving onto the next stage of their allergy journey - hopefully progressing towards the point in time where they'll completely outgrow it. I heard of two stories like that, just the other week! One from Heddi, of Dairy Free Switzerland. You can read about it here. The other, Lisa Wadell - Specialist Peadiatric Allergy Dietitian and fellow allergy parent.

I must admit, whilst it is exciting to hear of any child succeeding in outgrowing an allergy, I get a particularly thrill when I hear of a child with milk allergy growing out of it - because that's our nemesis too! It gives me hope... that one day that will be us!

The statistics look good: MOST children outgrow their milk allergy, by the second decade, according to Dr Adam Fox - speaking at The Allergy Show.

'Baby' is convinced. 'Mummy, when I grow out of my milk allergy, can I have...?' is an oft heard refrain! Now that she mixes with other children her own age all the time, at school, she's become acutely aware of the differences, that before, did not matter... that I shielded her from, in our own little free from world. 

Around the time she started school, she declared that she would like a carton of cow's milk for Christmas. Such glorious optimism! So sadly misplaced! Instead I got her this:



Yes, it's not a real carton of milk - but the nearest I could get!

I'm afraid I'm not quite so optimistic. Remember, of all the Disney characters, I think I identify most with Eeyore? Part of me secretly worries that maybe we'll not fall into that glorious MOST, but fall by the wayside into that.... SOME! 

After all, it does happen that some don't make it, or the statistic wouldn't be there! 

I was particularly pleased to hear, therefore, of the progress of Lisa Waddell's children. Ages ago, I seem to remember her wishing me luck (via Twitter), when, once again, we embarked on a milk challenge (we've had quite a few now). From what I remember, she seemed quite despondent, as, in their circumstances, there had been no change. 

The received wisdom at that time, was that most children outgrow their milk allergy by the age of two - although I think, at the time, that was being revised upwards to about four or five. Lisa's children were a bit older than that! It wasn't looking good! However, the tables have turned, Lisa's children are now working their way up the 'Milk Ladder,' and, interestingly, it seems that, like us, they have sometimes suffered setbacks too - where things have seemed to go backwards rather than forwards! 

Huzzah! 

Maybe we're not quite so strange, then! Maybe we haven't completely slipped off the ladder, after all!

I'm also cheered by Lisa's experience, because as a Dietitian (working for Nottingham Food Allergy Service) she has to advise others on how to go about a milk challenge. Having been through the experience herself, as a parent, it seems to me, that it leaves her in a far better place to offer advice - she knows exactly what we're going through! 

You can follow her via her 'Food Allergy Nottingham Service' Face Book Page, and on Twitter (@lis_wad). She is also available for private appointments.


Meanwhile...

Apparently, it's better to go through a food allergy and fail than not attempt one at all! Recent research suggests that it leads to a better quality of life - because you've faced the worst and got through it! 

So there you go! 

Don't believe me? Read about it here!


SO the message is: if at first, second, third, etc. etc. you don't succeed, don't give up... just yet!



Glossary:

*Milk/Food Challenge - when you try to find out whether an allergic individual is still allergic to some food (in our case, it's quite obviously a Milk Challenge). 

**Milk Ladder - this is a term referring to a structured approach to reintroducing milk to an allergic individual. It begins with the individual being able to tolerate a product containing a small amount of baked milk (baked milk is most easily tolerated) and progresses through milk in various processed forms, until milk itself can be tolerated. I have seen various versions of this, but my preferred version is in twelve progressive stages. I have seen it shared quite widely (online) but have not done so, for two reasons: out of respect for the author, whose permission I do not have, and because it really ought to be followed under proper medical supervision.


Related Posts:








Monday, 19 January 2015

Howzat? On turning a 'normal' Easter egg into one which is dairy free!

Well, it's not exactly news 'Baby' loves chocolate and so do I! 

No-one has had to teach either of us how to do so, we just do!! 

Naturally, Easter chocolate is no exception.

We do not mind too much what shape/form it arrives in (although 'Baby' is quite fond of her Cocoa Libre sheep)... unless, that is, it's an Easter egg.

Oh! 

It never used to be a problem. But... 'Baby is older now and a whole lot more aware... of everything!! And she's a real sucker for marketing aimed at kiddies.

To be more specific, last year, once 'Baby' caught sight of a 'Doc McStuffins' Easter egg, in Sainsbury's, complete with bowl, cup and spoon, and that was it!! 

'Baby' is mad keen on Doc McStuffins (a Disney character) and having seen the Doc McStuffins egg, nothing else would do for her except to get a Doc McStuffins egg. She wanted a dairy free one, of course, and I never heard the last of it!! Every single time I went to Sainsbury's she wanted me to check the box - to see if it was dairy free!!

Oh NO!!

'Cos here's the thing - dairy free chocolate has come a long way in the last few years, but to date, none of the dairy free chocolate firms has come up with a dairy free Easter egg in the kind of packaging that surrounds the 'normal' Easter eggs that most children have. It costs BIG money to get these things!! The dairy free firms are quite small - they just can't afford it!

However, there is a way around this!

I can't claim ownership of this idea. I think I saw it on Mumsnet a few years ago. Of course 'Baby' was a lot littler then - if she was even aware of dairy free chocolate at all, she wasn't bothered about what kind of package it chocolate came in! Therefore at the time, for us, it wasn't an issue. BUT I stowed this idea away in the recesses of my brain, and this year, it came in very handy indeed!!

The cunning plan goes like this:

1. Buy the 'normal' Easter egg which is the object of your little (or not so little) one's desire, along with a dairy free Easter egg of roughly the same size. 


This was actually the most difficult bit! I bought a fair few eggs, before I realised that the white Choices egg was the only likely candidate - good job she likes Choices white chocolate, then, isn't it? You could actually make one, using;b your own dairy free chocolate, if you prefer.


Ta da! And here they are!!



I also bought some Cake pop foil wraps, from Hobby Craft (as the Choices egg came without foil), but you could equally use kitchen foil - it's just a bit thicker than the cake pop wraps and more bulky! I needed two of the cake pop wraps. 


I used silver, but gold was also available.

3. Take the 'normal' Easter egg from its packaging and donate it to a member of your family/friends who can eat it - unless it's YOU of course!  ;)  Clean the wrapper (just to be sure no possible traces of milk remain) and wrap up your dairy free egg in the coloured foil. 

You could of course skip this step, and keep your dairy free egg in it's own foil, but for us it was crucial - 'Baby' loves pink!!

All wrapped up!
3. Replace the 'normal' Easter egg with the dairy free one!

As the dairy free egg was still slightly smaller than the egg it was replacing, I pushed a small pack of dairy free buttons into the bottom of the cup in which it needed to sit.

The buttons came with the small Choices egg

Almost perfect fit!

It all fits in to place!

Nearly there! The box is glued shut!

It joined the rest of her 'stash' from Grandmas, Aunts, Cousins... etc.


'Baby' LOVED it!

YAY!


BIG, BIG thanks to whoever posted this idea on Mumsnet! You are a lifesaver!! xx




Thursday, 15 January 2015

Shopping with food allergies in the UK

From travelling abroad, and chatting online to people who are planning on travelling here, I've discovered that sometimes you need local knowledge to assist you in finding what you're looking for. This post is aimed at those from outside the UK, who are wondering how they'll get on, if they come to the UK! BUT if you're new to food allergies and living here in the UK, you may also find this post helpful!

Supermarkets

Britain has a number of large supermarket chains. Some of which are better than others at catering to the Free From market. Foods that are produced particularly for those who have special diets, are often lumped together in a section known as 'Free From'. Please note that this is not a legal term, but just one that seems to have made its way in to general usage!

Mostly, the Free From aisles in UK supermarkets often seem to major on those who are gluten free, but they often stock a large range of dairy free milk products too - they're just usually found next to the UHT milk or in the chiller section! However, if you examine food labels, you can often find other products that may prove suitable - if you apply directly to the supermarkets, they can send you a list.


Something for everyone! This is the range of dairy free milk available in one Tesco Extra store.

Unfortunately, if you are suffering from other allergies, such as egg or nut, you might not find yourself quite so well served, although Tesco have started to display egg free logos on some of their Free From products.

I find Tesco and Sainsbury's tend to have the biggest ranges - but you usually need to locate their big out of town stores. The area tends to dictate how good the range might be. If it's based in a wealthier area, for example, the Free From range tends to be much larger and more varied. It's what we, in the UK, refer to as a 'postcode lottery'.

That said, you can often find a few dairy free milks in most smaller supermarkets, even in those that are convenience store size, but don't expect too much else, except maybe a soya-based spread or yoghurt!



Sainsbury's 'Free From' aisle, Ashford, Kent

If the Tesco is as good as the one at Brooklands, in Surrey, then you'll find a brilliant Free From aisle, Freezer section and also a chiller section. As well as a varied range of long life and chilled dairy free milk, and the usual chilled spreads, such as Pure, and soya-based cheese and yogurt products, Tesco have recently started selling great dairy free dessert products, such as Pudology

In the right Tesco, you can also find Co-yo, a dairy and soya free yogurt product, that up until now, you'd only find in a health food shop, as well as Violife - a dairy and soya free cheese, that again has been hard to get hold of, until now, but is proving popular among the dairy free! There's even dairy free iced coffee, although that's located near the 'normal' iced-coffee, in my store! That's the funny thing about Tesco - it seems there's no standard lay-out. In some stores, some of the chilled Free From products are dotted about and not kept together, so keep your eyes peeled!



Tesco 'Free From' chilled range

Sainsbury's, meanwhile, doesn't have much more than dairy free milk, some spread and soya yoghurt in their chiller cabinet, but their Free From freezer department has a few gems and I do appreciate the expansion of Sainsbury's free from confectionery. It's where I like to go for dairy free chocolate! They stock the very popular dairy and gluten free chocolate known as 'Moo Free,' alongside their own brand and Kinnerton, which is also nut free.

I also like Asda, whose range has definitely improved, over the last year, and Waitrose, which tends to stock more higher end free from merchandise, such as Booja Booja. I'm so thrilled that I can now go to Waitrose and buy a fabulous dairy free ice cream imported from the US. I am not such a fan of Morrison's or Co-op, as, in my experience,  their range tends to be quite small, although I have heard that some Morrisons stock a dairy free cheese known as 'Cheezly'.



'Free From' aisle, Asda, Chandler's Ford, Hampshire

Marks and Spencers have finally begun to take note of the Free From market. The other year they brought out some some gluten free products and last year followed suite with a 'Made Without Dairy' range of milks, dairy free spread and even chocolate! However, only the larger ones seem to really be worth visiting. 

Smaller chains such as Aldi and Lidl, don't really stock much in the way of Free From products, down my way, but do seem to flirt with the idea from time to time! I got really excited when Aldi began to stock a few items not so long ago - a loaf and some soup, but these soon disappeared. However, Lidl has just recently advertised a gluten free promotion.


Ocado

Is an online supermarket, but is not available in the whole of the UK. You may need a UK-based friend or relative to supply an address, to where you can get your stuff ordered. They have a fantastic Free From range, which is much better than the other supermarkets, and their website has a very useful filtering system to help you work out which products are suitable for you. The only draw-back is the delivery fee! Find out more here.


Vegan & Health Food Shops

There are other options for Free From shopping other than the supermarkets - I often visit my local independent health food shops. Independent stores can be slightly more expensive, but often stock products that chains will not and, in my experience, might be open to trying or ordering in products that you've seen online, but can't buy elsewhere!


Holland and Barrett

Holland and Barrett is a well-known health food chain store, found in high streets, throughout the UK. It very much depends on the shop as to how good the Free From range happens to be. Some stores have a chiller and freezer section and some do not. Bizarrely, the best stores are not always in the biggest towns. So, for example, I live near Southampton, Winchester and Eastleigh. Of all of these, Eastleigh is the smaller town, but has the better range!

Good branches of Holland and Barrett will stock a good range of dairy free UHT milk and yogurt, including this dairy and soya free yogurt. They sell Booja Booja dairy and soya free ice cream, some gluten free and Vegan frozen pies, as well as a variety of dairy free cheeses. They are also expanding their chilled ranges to include Violife cheese and Pudology's new dairy and soya free yogurts!!

Dairy free chocolate can also be found here, particularly at Easter and Christmas, when their range quite noticeably expands!


London

London has some amazing Health Food and Vegan shops where you can find some great Free From products:

Whole Foods Market The biggest is the one in Kensington, where, in fact, there's so much choice, it's bewildering! Whole Foods Market also have a cafe!

Vegan X Is a Vegan clothing and food store, based near King's Cross.



Whole Foods Market, Clapham Junction, London


Home Counties

The Home Counties (the outlying counties clustered around London) are also generally quite well served - both by the supermarkets, and health food shops, on the whole.

If you find yourself in Surrey, check out Food for Thought is a good-sized health food shop that has two branches in Surrey - one in Kingston and the other (larger one) in Guildford.

In Hampshire, there's a large Vegan store in Southampton, which I have yet to visit!


The Regions

However, here are one or two gems out in the more regional areas of the UK that are worth knowing about:

Alternative Stores in Newcastle also have an online store that delivers throughout the UK

Goodness Direct are mainly an online Health Food Shop, but are based in the Northampton are. You can pick up your shopping direct from their base in Daventry, if you are based nearby.

And here (based on personal experience) is where to go on the Isle of Wight!

However, keep your eyes peeled, 'cos Free From food can turn up in the strangest of places! I've noted some short runs of dairy free milk and other products in 99p shops, whilst some garden centres, and farm shops also now stock free from. Just look at these products, found in Haskin's Garden Centre, near Southampton:


OK, I admit it's mostly gluten free! 


Scotland

From what I can gather Scotland, like any parts of the north, doesn't seem quite as well served as some other parts of the UK. 


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is another case in point, altogether! Shipping seems to be the major problem, in this case. For anyone travelling to this part of the UK, I would suggest you contact Laura of Dairy Free Kids (via Face Book or @dairyfreekids, on Twitter). She's from the Republic of Ireland, but is probably still likely to know more than I about shopping in Northern Ireland!



Reading Food Labels

All food products in the UK must be labelled according to the EU's new regulations see here for clarification. This is meant to help food shoppers with allergies find out which food will be suitable for them. It also applies to food sold in cafes/restaurants whether sold loose or packed. 

Some manufacturers may include extra advice, concerning the risks of any products made alongside other products containing relevant allergens, but they are not required to do so, by law. In fact, sometimes this can be more of a hindrance, as some stores, afraid of being prosecuted seem to slap 'may contain' warnings on almost everything! 

If you have a dairy allergy, take particular care when buying Vegan products listed as 'dairy free' they may not be quite as free from dairy as you assume - they're often manufactured on the same lines as dairy products, so check their labels! I have been caught out by this several times, so do take care!


Over to you!

Do you live here in the UK, and have something to add? Or, have you visited here and made some great finds? Please add your top tips in the comments section below! 

Many thanks and Happy Free From Shopping!


Related Post:


Self catering in Switzerland?? What you need to know about shopping Free From

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Self-catering in Switzerland?? What you need to know about shopping Free From...

Sometimes those of us in the Free From community in the UK have been known to have a little grumble, from time to time, about how supermarkets define and cater for our needs. Me? Yes, me too! However, shopping in Switzerland has certainly made me a little more appreciative of what we do have - although that said, I also acknowledge that shopping for Free From in the UK can still be a post code lottery! 



Migros supermarket in Zermatt

Supermarkets

Basically, in Switzerland, 'Free From' (which seems to be labelled 'Reform' in so-called 'Bio' or health food shops) seems only to refer to foods that are 'gluten frei' (gluten free) or 'lactose frei' (lactose free). The main supermarkets certainly seem to think so, anyway! Although they do stock a few dairy free milks, the only ones I've been able to spot are only soya or rice-based - even the almond milk was blended with rice! 


You can find soja/soya milk in most supermarkets

You can, to be fair, find dairy free margarine, if you look carefully, and other 'normal' products made without milk - but there may be no guarantee that these products are actually dairy free (Original Pom Bears was a case in point)! The term 'lactose frei' is the only term used. Some of these products are in fact made without dairy, but some i.e. 'lactosefrei' ice cream, cheese, yoghurt, milk etc. definitely is NOT!


This one is dairy free!

Co-op on the whole, was a better source of Free From products than Migros (these are the two major supermarkets in Switzerland). Co-op was where (following a panicked tweet to Heddi, aka Dairy Free Switzerland), we finally found a loaf of bread suitable for 'Baby.' 



This loaf was dairy free!

All the Migros loaves had 'may contain milk' warnings. 

One of the things I found was that the size of the store usually seemed to correlate to the amount of Free From food that they were likely to sell. Moreover, there's no Free From section, so you literally need to comb the WHOLE store in order to find your Free From products. 



Normal and Free From foods are stacked together

Gluten free bread is found next to the bread, gluten free biscuits next to the other biscuits, gluten free flour next to the other flours etc. etc. Some allergy friendly foods are marked with the 'AHA' logo to help inform those with allergies (see this blog post, for an explanation), but none of the products marked in this way, that I saw in the stores were suitable for me!



The gluten free flour is a bit pricey!

In general the supermarkets seem to be able to cater for those with gluten issues - Schar products are stocked in most, but if this is combined with milk, soya or lupin (which is used in a lot of gluten free products) or if you have a problem with cow's milk protein, then you're better off looking for some of those 'Bio' or health-food-cum-pharmacy shops, which often sell a wider range of Free From goods, along with some Vegan products. 


Health Food Shops

Thankfully, as we had relatives who live in Switzerland, they were able to be point us, fairly early on in the trip, in the direction of Egli - which I think are a chain, of health food stores - somewhat like Holland and Barrett, but a lot smaller. The store which we visited was at Zurich station, on the floor under the main concourse. See here, for a link to a list of their other shops.


Behold! Egli!

Egli had a superb range - including Schar gluten free. Schar products are a Godsend for the gluten free, however, most of them were useless to me, as although some are also dairy free, a lot of these contain/may contain soya in some form or another. Soya is a 'no-go' for me, unless it's just the soya lecithin. However, the range available at Egli was sufficient for me to be able to locate a few products that were suitable for me!


Just look at the size of this gluten free section!

They also sold a number of vegan (soya-based) dessert products such as Provamel and Bio Vegan, that would do for 'Baby', but also some rice-based desserts that were suitable for Me!


It was thick and gloopy but tasted alright!

Check out these desserts on the bottom shelves!

Egli also stocked a fabulous range of dairy free milks and even cream! 


Check out Isola Bio - met them at the London Allergy Show last summer!

They also sold a whole range of other Vegan products, which were no good for me (intolerant to soya) or 'Baby' (as she's such a picky eater) but would be ideal for a travelling Vegan!


The top row here is great, if you're okay with soya!

Not only that, but Egli also sold dairy free Booja Booja ice cream and chocolates - although at an eye-watering price! Unfortunately for us, we were facing a train journey of three to four hours, so I couldn't risk taking the ice cream (for 'Baby', not me, as I can't eat cashews). And I already had some choccies stashed in the luggage, so I passed on those also. 


Dairy free but pricey!


They also sold raw chocolate, which of course is also dairy free. I've had raw chocolate before and it was fine, but I think this one requires a more educated palate! It was too raw for me!


Pretty pricey!


Egli even sold Kettle Chips! Nope I didn't see those anywhere else in Switzerland!


A taste of home!

It was from Egli we obtained these Schar rolls for the rail journey from Zurich to Zermatt (three hours, more or less). Not sure quite what 'Baby' or Me would have eaten otherwise, as the rest of our food was already en route!



Dairy and gluten free lunch!


Had I but known it, although I found some Health Food shops/pharmacies that also sold some 'Reform' products in Zermatt, Egli's was the best range of Free From products I was to see during our entire Swiss adventure! However, that said, Muller and some Apothekes were also not too bad, but they didn't have any chilled or frozen section!



This pharmacy/Apotheke in Zermatt had a decent Reform section


However, that said, I was mostly based in Zurich and Zermatt - so I've no idea how you'd fare elsewhere in Switzerland. I would be interested to hear from others, who've travelled that way, so we can compare notes... for next time, of course!! For although it was harder for to find what I wanted there, it certainly wasn't impossible and I would definitely go again!


Seven Top Tips:


1. Take some essential supplies!! Obviously you can buy meat, veg etc in the supermarkets, but if, like me, you are avoiding a combination of products, like gluten, dairy and soya, then I'd strongly suggest that you take your own bread, cakes, and croissants (if required) etc. It's just so tricky finding bread/cakes that are free from ALL of these - it's definitely much easier in the UK. I would also add bring your own sausages, if you can! I didn't find any that I could eat in Switzerland, although The Hub did find some that were dairy free. You may also want to take your own milk, unless you're okay with rice or soya milk and you'll definitely need to take your own dairy free cakes and chocolate!!!

2. If you're taking gluten free bread, buy it as close to the date you travel as you can and freeze any excess rolls/loaves, once you get there, to make sure it lasts for the duration of your trip!

3. Pack your gluten free bread biscuits in a box, that will protect them from being squished, before packing it in your suitcase - you'll thank me for that!! Think about the baggage handlers!!

4. Tightly seal your dairy free milk cartons in plastic bags, prior to packing and make sure you pack them in a suitcase with hard sides - there's no knowing what will happen to your gear when the baggage handlers toss it around!

5. Either arrange with your airline for extra baggage allowance or travel Business class on the outward bound trip, so you get extra baggage allowance. You'll need it for the purpose of carrying your own supplies.

6. Do your homework! Learn to recognise common words associated with milk - in German at the very least - to help you decipher food labels! I found my schoolgirl French and Spanish also came in quite handy. Some Schar products also carried ingredient lists written in English, but not all! This list, compiled by Dairy Free Switzerland is a great place to start!


This mayo was dairy free but I missed the hydrolysed soya protein when I read the label - cue bad tummy!

7. Another piece of homework: research which shops are available in the area to which you're travelling. Migros and Co-op are the two major supermarkets, but look out for shops like Egli (as mentioned) and Muller and even, believe it or not ALDI!



Aldi sells organic soja/soya milk and Vegan hot chocolate


If you have any more top tips, for us, please add them in the comments section below!


Postscript:

If you're travelling within the EU, reading food labels should be fairly standardised, by now, thanks to recent EU legislation (see here for clarification by the Food Standards Agency). Switzerland is not part of the EU, however they do comply with some EU regulations. For the Swiss take on food labelling, here's another post by Heddi, explaining it all.


Related Posts:


Travelling with the Dairy Free 'Baby'



Flying Swiss Air with the Dairy Free 'Baby' (Part One)



Flying Swiss Air (Part Two)... Or thank God for Burger King!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Flying Swiss Air with the Dairy Free 'Baby' (Part Two)... Or Thank God for Burger King!!

Having travelled Business class en route to Switzerland, The Hub (in his wisdom), decided we should return via Economy. The reasoning behind this was that we'd need less luggage allowance on the way home (you get more in Business), 'cos we'd have consumed our stocks of Free From food, and also because, for some reason, it was more expensive to upgrade to Business, for the return journey. 

The only issue I had with this arrangement was food. Apparently, there wasn't any provision provision for special diets in Economy - when travelling  short-haul, within Europe! Grr! 

Having left the travel arrangements in The Hub's usually quite capable hands, I was horrified to discover only the night before our return to the UK that The Hub had somehow omitted to work out what we were going to do for 'Baby' and me. In truth, I think he had mentioned to me something about it before, but in the maelstrom of all that happened in the last two months before Christmas, I don't think I took too much notice!!

So the questions was, what were we going to do?? 

Me? I could cope for a few extra hours without food but 'Baby'?? Well, you just don't want to KNOW what she's like when she is tired and hungry... our flight was scheduled for around her evening mealtime - just exactly when she WOULD be tired and hungry!! No panic there, then! 

Somehow I resisted the urge to scream!!

Instead, cue frantic searching of Zurich airport's website - for suitable restaurants!

There was just one that stood out - no not McDonald's this time but Burger King. Quelle horror! Okay, so not exactly ideal, but looking at their menus online, it seemed we might find something there to keep the proverbial wolf from the door! We had, by the way, visited Burger King in the past (when all else failed), but in the UK, so we needed to check, as restaurant chains sometimes have variations in the menu, and we needed to make sure!


Not quite Leon, but never knew I'd be so glad to see a Burger King!

As it happened, we didn't hang around for long in Burger King - partly because we wanted to head on down to Departures, but also because the grill-type restaurant next door was emitting a strong smell of cooked cheese. 

Delicious as it smelled, we are pretty sure that 'Baby' has had tummy aches as a result of spending too long in cafes where milk is being steamed and once her cheeks came up when The Hub made cheese toasties at home, so we thought best not to linger - just in case!!

Down in Departures, we tucked into our food. 'Baby's' offering was a chicken burger with fries:

'Baby's' Burger


It contained green stuff and a sauce, which wasn't to 'Baby's' taste, but The Hub was able to scrape enough away, with the edge of my knife, to persuade her to eat it.

Unsurprisingly, there wasn't much for me - salad and fries it was!! BUT, actually, the salad was quite big - bigger than the McDonald's salad I'd had in Zermatt!! Although perhaps not quite so fresh, however, time of day may have had something to do with that!


Better variety than the McDonald's salad too!

It was just as well that we had eaten before boarding the plane - for a start there was some delay, but also, because unsurprisingly, the food on board, needless to say, was unsuitable for both 'Baby' and Me.

The Hub's Swiss Air refreshment came in the shape of this sandwich-type thing - loaded with Swiss cheese!

Oo! If only!

As my fellow passengers enjoyed their gluten and dairy filled rolls, I glumly reflected that in in times past, I would have enjoyed them too. Unable to do a thing about it, I resolved to make the most of the liquid refreshment...

Examining the bottle for allergen information, I finally discovered that it contained Sulphites - I can cope with that!

... along with some Schar gluten free crackers, that I'd bought from the Co-op in Zermatt!


'Baby's' liquid lunch, well, dinner, was apple juice, accompanied by the remainder of  her Burger King fries and a few Waitrose Essential Bourbon biscuits, that we'd brought from England.


Anyone for a liquid lunch/tea?

Mind you, remembering how little we actually ate of our meals on the outward bound flight, had we travelled Business class a second time, would we actually have fared any better??


Other travelling issues aside, I must say, I was impressed with Zurich airport children's facilities! It has two rooms for families/children!!

The Nursery/Playroom, that we visited was amazing! It had toys, books, table football, toilets, nappy changing facilities, food preparation facilities, dining table and chairs - even a sleep room, for little ones (although, actually, I can imagine a few parents might find this a useful place to crash too)!!

It was attended by a welcoming lady and was kept very clean. This was obviously due, in part, to notices emphasizing that parents should clean up after using the nappy changing facilities and other bits and pieces. This is exactly how the Swiss operate in everyday life - everyone is expected to play their part and take responsibility for themselves, their homes, their pets etc. etc. - it governs every part of their lives. 

From a food allergy perspective, I was particularly impressed by this notice on the wall:


Look how spotless it all is!

How reassuring for parents of children with food allergies! You've just gotta love the Swiss' love of cleanliness and insistence on everyone taking responsibility for themselves!!

If we pass this way with 'Baby' again, I know exactly where I'll be heading!!

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