Browse Tag by Eating out with children
Health

Do children’s menus need to be so gluten and dairy heavy?

Do children's menus need to be so gluten and dairy heavy? - A Free From Life

Do children's menus need to be so gluten and dairy heavy? - A Free From Life

I took two of my children out for dinner on Friday for a treat. Husband and eldest daughter were both out, so we thought, why not?

It’s hard to eat out though, if you’re intolerant to dairy and wheat.

Whilst I can’t fault the management of the restaurant we went to – he was more than happy to sort something out for my son to eat – there wasn’t a single thing on the children’s menu that he could have.

Giving a customer an allergens menu isn’t enough.

All it told me was there was very little on the entire menu that didn’t contain both gluten and dairy.

What I don’t understand is, should it be so difficult to put together a menu that doesn’t contain these things? Do all children’s menus have to be so gluten and dairy heavy?

Here are the items on the children’s menu:
Fish fingers, Cumberland sausage, chicken burger, barbeque ribs and macaroni with cheese sauce or tomato and basil sauce.

According to the allergens menu, all these items contain gluten and dairy, which to me doesn’t make sense. I look at this menu and think how easy it would be to provide gluten free pasta with a tomato sauce, plain chicken fillet and source gluten free sausages. There should also be an alternative to fries (coated in wheat) and mashed potato.

What did my son eat?

Well, given that his choice was either burger without the bun or a chicken skewer, he went for the chicken. Not being a fan of mashed potato, they said would he like baked beans and some salad and that was it, the extent of his choice.

IT’S JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

As someone who regularly makes meals and bakes gluten and dairy free, I know it can be done and I also know it doesn’t even have to be difficult.

Why does everything have to be coated in breadcrumbs? Even the fries have wheat on them and they are potatoes!

A piece of grilled chicken or salmon is just as popular with children as chicken nuggets are, aren’t they? Well, they are with mine anyway.

Some steamed vegetables and boiled potatoes to go with it? Not difficult at all. And how difficult would it be to keep some gluten free pasta in stock?

I seriously get fed up of being given an allergens menu as if a restaurant is doing me a favour, when all they’re actually doing is ticking a box and depressing the hell out of me because the choice is so limited.

Gluten free may be a popular choice for many now, but what restaurant owners need to wake up to is that many who are gluten intolerant are also dairy intolerant too and many of these are children.

Our children don’t need deep fried breaded food. Good quality, relatively plain dinners are a much better choice and I’m sure most parents would agree.

Yes, this is a rant of a post today, but I’ll say it now and I will keep saying it until hopefully we see some changes.

Travelling with 5

Family Days Out in London – Greenwich & the Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark - A Free From Life

I love living near London. Within half an hour, we can be at one of three major stations – London Bridge, Waterloo East or Charing Cross, from which we can get to most major tourist areas.

On Monday, I took two of my three kids to Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark. We went by Thames Clipper boat from Embankment, just to make the journey that bit more exciting. Although it probably takes longer that way, you get to see a lot more and it’s fun to spot and point out the famous landmarks that line the Thames.

By the time we arrived in Greenwich though, the three of us were feeling desperately hungry. However, first stop on the list was to collect some gluten and dairy free doughnuts that I ordered from Borough 22 Bakehouse. Having contacted Ryan via Facebook, he very kindly arranged to meet us in Greenwich to drop a box off, even though it was a Bank Holiday. Hand delivered, freshly made doughnuts – you can’t get better than that can you? More about these in a separate post though.

After sharing one of the doughnuts (well it would be rude not to), we went to find somewhere to eat. I didn’t bother to do my usual research, as I felt sure we would find somewhere suitable to cater for my son’s gluten and dairy intolerance. We decided to go for burgers thinking that the modern, gourmet burger joints you see everywhere now are sure to be with the times when it comes to dealing with these things.

Byron burger house is right on the river side, just as you get off the boat. We had to queue for about twenty minutes to get a table, making me think it would have been wiser to book, but by then I realised if we went anywhere else we would have the same problem. My son was ratty as anything by this point. The drop in his blood sugar was obvious by his whinging behaviour. I felt the same, I just didn’t express it in the same way and neither did my eleven year old daughter.

When we finally got a seat, I asked for the gluten free menu but there wasn’t one. My heart sank, but the manager came over to go through what we could have. It turns out that the burgers are gluten free, which is one plus point, but there are no gluten free buns. His choice was to have a kids burger with salad and if he wanted fries, he could have the skin-on chips (not the fries as they are wheat coated). But here’s the thing – they are cooked in the same oil, so if you are coeliac, there is no way you could eat them. My son is gluten intolerant and I knew that given how hungry he was, there was no way he would have enough with just a burger and a bit of salad, so I said yes to the chips. He ate a few, but said they weren’t very nice anyway. His burger was also dry.

As for dessert, ice-cream was the only gluten free choice for children and there was nothing dairy free. Lucky I had the doughnuts then! What smacks in the face in places like these is that they still charged us for the set children’s meal. I should have argued it, but all I wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible. The other thing that surprises me is that they are obviously aware of the potential dangers of cooking oil contamination and yet they don’t provide an alternative.

Sometimes you have to write off an experience and that is one of those times. With some energy restored, we went on to tour the Cutty Sark, which both children really enjoyed. It’s very engaging and there are a lot of interactive displays for the children to have a go at. Plus, we also caught part of the tour, which took us back in time to when the ship was at its heyday.

The Cutty Sark was a famous ship in it’s day, known for it’s speedy journeys around the world. A cargo ship, it brought firstly tea from China and then went on to ship wool to Australia in it’s later years. Rescued and restored to it’s former glory, the Cutty Sark is the only surviving tea ship of it’s kind.

Cutty Sark - A Free From Life

Greenwich is a fun and vibrant area to visit. Not only are you absorbed in the maritime history of London, there is a bohemian feel to the area, especially around the market place. In the main square by the Cutty Sark, there was a vintage market on, complete with lindy hop dancers. In the park on the opposite side, was a beer festival with live music, put on by a local brewery. It felt like there was something for everyone.

Greenwich Maritime Museum - A Free From Life
One thing I can say about a day out in London is that it is tiring. The journey, complete with activities and sight seeing certainly wore me out, so I’m not surprised that the kids were on their knees by the time we arrived home. Goodness knows how we managed to save two doughnuts so that my husband and other daughter didn’t miss out, but we did. Apart from the hole in the middle, they were still in one piece too!

 

joining in with Country Kids

Shared with Monday Escapes

Travelling with 5

Gluten and Dairy Free Dining in Rome

Gluten and dairy free dining in Rome - afreefromlife.com

Eating out with children when you’re on holiday can be challenging, especially when you have a child who is gluten and dairy free. As much as is possible, I do my research before hand to make sure I find us suitable places. But on this particular occasion I didn’t.

We went to Rome. It’s Italy, I thought. The land of pizza and pasta. They’re bound to do gluten free versions. I’ve also been to Rome twice before and always had wonderful food, so I wasn’t worried. That said, I don’t need to eat gluten and dairy free.

The reality was, it was really difficult. On the one hand the Italians understand if you ask for something ‘sensa glutine’ and are happy to find you a suitable alternative from the menu. But this is Italy for goodness sake, where practically every restaurant you go to is either a pizzeria or trattoria, offering an abundance of pizza and pasta dishes. How do you tell a five year old that he can’t have the pasta at any of them, when it’s his all time favourite food?

On our first night we arrived late and so had to dump our suitcases and go out to find somewhere to eat. My son was tired and hungry and had been looking forward to a comforting bowl of pasta pomodoro. By the fourth restaurant we had to give up and ended up ordering him some chicken and potatoes. As we sat waiting for our food, we suddenly realised that our little one had his head bowed and was crying silent tears.

‘I just want some pasta,’ he said.

As I’ve said on previous occasions, not once has he moaned about having to eat differently or miss out on treats that the girls have had. But the combined effect of tiredness, lack of food and being in Italy and expecting to be eating pasta ’til it was coming out of his ears, took its toll.

There was a sinking feeling in my stomach at that moment and I regretted not having done my research. The realisation that it might not be so easy to find suitable restaurants in Rome hit home.

Thankfully, the lovely Rosanna from our hotel was so helpful and understanding. When we got back and told her what had happened she rang around until she found us a place that offered gluten free pasta and booked us a table there the very next night. That restaurant, plus one other that was recommended by a local Roman became our new favourite places to eat over the next three nights.

What we learned is that restaurants in the popular strips and squares of Rome, whilst they may promise that they can cater for gluten and dairy free dining, don’t in fact offer alternatives for the allergy sufferer. They are mainly interested in getting bums on seats and profiting from the vast numbers of tourists that pass their way.

Those restaurants that truly cater for people who avoid gluten are few and far between and are more likely to be found on the lesser known streets and in quieter areas. What we did find out about these places, though is that they were so welcoming and helpful and they made such a fuss of our little man that it completely made up for that disastrous first night.

That and the fact that Rosanna also found us a Gelateria that offered soya ice cream, made the whole trip worthwhile. Because as well as going to Italy for the pasta, you can’t possibly go there and not sample the ice cream too.

Il Gelatone

Gelato

The restaurants we went to:

Hostaria Perdingianu e Croccoriga

Restaurant 1

La Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali

Restaurant 2