A year ago my baby turned 3 and I couldn’t make her a cake. A cake that is that was edible. We’d just found out that Poppy couldn’t tolerate eggs or dairy and I have to admit my heart ached and I felt a little bereft.
Although Poppy was thrilled just to blow the candles out on the rock solid ‘cake’, made with a host of chemical filled processed ‘egg’ replacer, soy and fake butter. It was almost impossible to cut let alone eat and I felt that I’d at some level failed her. I was hit by the irony of writing this blog promoting how gluten-free food is simply just real healthy food but suddenly feeling floored by the necessity of removing eggs and dairy from my youngest’s diet.
So it became a personal mission to create a cake that was a true cake with real healthy ingredients that didn’t require synthetic replacers for traditional baking ingredients and most importantly tasted great.
As well as being gluten, grain, dairy and egg free this cake and it’s icing is also nut free. Simply a cake full of natural healthy ingredients.
This year it was a real joy to watch Poppy blow the candles out on her birthday cake and enjoy the decadent chocolate sponge and rich thick chocolate icing. I am so proud of everything she has achieved in her 4 years.
Poppy has always been smiley and full of fun but had tummy problems from the moment we started weening her. Our local GP prescribed Movicol and told us not to worry.
It can be a really tough call being a parent and sometimes hard to know what’s the best thing to do for your child but I knew that eating and pooing are fundamental aspects of human life and if my child couldn’t do this without the help of daily dosages of Movicol something was not right.
But we went along with the GP’s advise and gave her Movicol. It helped a little but I had a more than nagging voice telling me that we weren’t addressing the fundamental issue. She had tummy cramps, bloating and her speech development was also delayed.
After a few months I knew I couldn’t just ignore it and went back to the Doctor and asked that Poppy was referred to a specialist.
During my pregnancy with Poppy I had a period of illness where I was unable to walk. At the time I was told it sciatica, although none of my symptoms were compatible with sciatica. Then I was ill immediately after giving birth (I lost my vision and ability to speak for 30 mins and had numbness in my legs) and then quite severely ill just after her first birthday, when again I had periods where I couldn’t walk, severe fatigue and a host of weird neurological symptoms I found out were caused by nerve damage. See Heal My Story here.
We were refereed to our local hospital and in our first appointment the pediatrician confidently said he suspected Poppy had an issue with gluten. It was an amazing moment. I explained that I had just been quite ill and had nerve damage, my mother had died of MND and her mother had MS and that I had very recently stopped eating gluten. He said he thought it was likely to be a genetic issue and if Coeliac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity is undiagnosed it can in some instances cause neurological disease (source).
Boom. My world had changed forever. At last things were starting to make some sense and an actual medical professional was validating what I had started to suspect myself.
We stopped the Movicol and removed gluten completely from her diet. The change was phenomenal. The swollen tummy disappeared, she happily ate at meal times and her speech suddenly took off.
Everything was rosy and then suddenly out of the blue a year and halve later her tummy issues came back. At first I thought it was simply a case of being glutened or cross contamination but when it continued I knew it was something more.
We didn’t waste any time and took her too Nature Doc and Cyrex tests confirmed that Poppy’s body was having an autoimmune response to eggs and dairy. It is very common when the body has an autoimmune response to gluten to also have an issue with dairy as the molecule structures are very similar and it can be difficult for the body to decipher between the two, in what is referred to as molecular mimicry
I would never tell another parent what to do, but I would emphatically encourage any parent to always trust your instincts and if you’re not happy request, demand, do whatever you need to until you can find the answers and support you need.
The internet and social media is full of some fantastic support groups of parents who have had similar experiences and can share knowledge and advice.
I read an amazing comment by a parent of now grown up twin Coeliac boys. She said her boys had never complained at parties or felt left out because they couldn’t eat certain food. She said this was the result of a combined effort by them and her. She always spoke to the host of any party and explained the situation then sent her boys with the same type of foods but GF where necessary. She never spoke to her boys about missing out or that it was in some way a negative experience to have different food where necessary -only the positives of going to a party, playdate, restaurant, having fun and staying healthy and safe. This advice has been invaluable.
I believe we can all change the route our health and lives take and even our genetics. As a wise person said we’re not here for a long time, so make it a good time.
Knowledge is power.
POPPY’S CHOCOLATE CAKE
A dense chocolate heavenly cake made without gluten, egg, grains, dairy, nuts and refined sugar or any chemical processed replacement versions of these food stuff.
CHOCOLATE ‘BUTTER’ ICING
- 1 x cup, 255g, of raw cacao powder
- 4 x tablespoons of coconut oil
- 3 x tablespoons of honey (ideally raw, organic and local)
- coconut oil (or butter)
- 3 x medium sized bananas
- 2 x cups, 500ml unsweetened almond milk
- 3 x cups, 450g, Buckwheat Flour (I used Big Oz)
- 1 x cup, 250ml 100% Maple Syrup (it’s important to use the highest quality Maple syrup, otherwise you don’t get any benefit health wise vs. refined sugar)
- 6 x table spoons of Cacoa Powder (I used the Raw chocolate companies)
- 6 x tablespoons, coconut palm sugar (I used Biona)
- generous pinch or good quality sea salt, this is important as it alters the taste and is a health consideration (I use Pink Himalayan)
- Pre-heat your oven to 200c, (180c fan), 392f, gas mark 5
- Oil two 9 inch, 23 cm, cake tins with your coconut oil
- Mash the bananas with a fork before mixing in the milk, flour and salt with a spoon. You can also do this with a mixer to do this if you want it to be super smooth, otherwise give your a fore arm a mini work out and mix together until you a smooth paste like consistency
- Add the maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and cacoa powder, again with a spoon until you have a smooth batter
- Pour the batter into the oiled cake tins
- Bake in the oven for 25 mins
- Take the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE ‘BUTTER’ ICING
This icing is rich and gooey and quite like chocolate ganache…yum!
- Melt the coconut oil and gently fold in the cacao powder and honey. Then add to your cake.