Meet Jess

Hi, I’m Jess.

I am blessed to be wife to Peter and mum to 4 great (and crazy!) kids -Will (9), Harry (8) and Ellie (6), and George (4).

Meet Jess Pic

The kids have food sensitivities in varying degrees, ranging from mild itchy skin to anaphylaxis.

Between the 2 of the 4 children we have anaphylactic allergies to peanuts, many tree nuts and eggs. And severe but not life threatening allergies to wheat, eggs, dairy, mustard, sesame, apple, kiwi and cabbage. 2 of the children tolerate only low levels of wheat and soy. Thankfully we have now outgrown the reactions to tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum and watermelon!

For her fist few years, our daughter reacted not only if she ingested these allergens (herself or through breast milk), but also if they touched her skin, or even if someone had eaten them and then kissed her. By some miracle the smallest family member is totally free of allergies – praise God!

In addition to the food allergies we are challenged with asthma, eczema, multiple severe environmental allergies, cold Urticaria, a severe chemical sensitivity and a sensory processing disorder. It sure sounds like a handful but mostly we are now thriving!

We had a challenging and sometimes very frustrating first few years with eating, both for the kids and me. I was on the same restricted diet as the kids while I breastfed, as they reacted to even small traces of the foods just being present in my milk.
It took a long time and numerous GP visits with my first son swollen and his skin bleeding in many places before I was finally referred to a paediatric allergist. Mercifully he was very quick to act and help us with diet and skin treatment. Within a week of our new diet my son looked like a new boy! Harry and Ellie both followed the exact same pattern and showed up with allergies again by 5-6 weeks of age – at least we knew what to do for them, and after strict elimination diets and allergy tests they were on the mend too. We have all had to learn how to eat differently, how to use epi-pens and to make sure we are always carrying antihistamines and creams and to follow a careful skin care regime, including bleach baths. And we have been diligent in teaching our children how to care for themselves and take responsibility.

For 3 years our family lived in Roxby Downs – in the South Australian desert. While it was a great place to live for little kids – it was definitely not an easy place to live with food allergies! We had 1 supermarket with very limited stock of ‘alternative’ foods, and no markets, health food stores or bulk buying places. So there have been very many times when I felt frustrated to the point of tears and limited in my cooking for my family. We are now back in Perth and  I am very excited about the world of extra food options that have opened up for us!! Hello markets and bulk buy stores!

My friend, and co-creator of the Itchin’ Kitchen, Libby, understood my frustration, also having kids with multiple food allergies, so we have been sharing ideas and recipes for years. Her family have moved on to mostly ‘normal’ food now so she is leaving the Itchin’ Kitchen (Bye Lib – and thank you!!).

As well as as cooking for allergies, I am passionate about edible gardening, good nutrition and a healthy gut. I am currently studying for a diploma in Nutrition advice.

I plan to reduce food waste and stretch our budget, whilst still providing nourishing food for my large (well, larger than average!) and ever growing family. We aim to eat foods that are fairly low in added sugar, and opt for whole grains when ever possible. Veggies, grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and fruits are the focus of our diet. We enjoy an increasing range of vegan meals.

I use many different methods to cook our food: stand mixers, food processors, thermal cookers, by hand, stove top, oven and slow cookers. I mostly cook in bulk and freeze meals to make life easier!

I hope and pray that as I continue to share these recipes and ideas, they might help you feel like there is hope too, and that you might also be able to say that your family is thriving.

Jess.

19 thoughts on “Meet Jess

  1. Hi Libby and Jess! You’ve done such an amazing job with your blog, recipes and growing families… I’m lucky enough not to have to deal with any food allergies so I’m in admiration of the fact that you can both create such delicious and nutritious meals with such limitations. I’ll definitely be following your blog from now on, partly to learn your great food substitutions and also just to have the privilege of hearing your family stories. Thanks for sharing, keep up the good work!!

  2. Hello ladies! I also have a daughter with food allergies. Diary and egg are the big ones (anaphylactic and even contact allergy with egg) and also nuts and dust mites. She has also outgrown soy and wheat allergies (she’s 3 1/2). No asthma so far (praise be to God). Thanks for sharing recipes. I have a few (but not many, I’ve only recently started blogging) recipes over on my page if you’re interested. Feel free to pop by!

  3. Hi
    I also live in roxby & my daughter has just been diagnosed with wheat, dairy & berry allergies. Would love to get in contact with you if I could. Thanks

    1. Hi Emily.
      Sorry to hear about your little girl’s diagnosis. I’m out of town at the moment but I’ll be back next week and would be really happy to catch up with you.
      I’ll be at coffee morning on the Thursday if that helps? Also at story time on Tuesday and the 1st session of Nippy Gym on Thursday before the coffee morning.
      Does Karen know you? If not – you can see my pic above and I’ll have Harry and Ellie with me.

  4. Hi no I don’t know Karen a friend just referred me to this page. I work other than wed & fri arvos so unfortunately can’t make the coffee mornings etc.

  5. Emily and DesertCook, I know both of you….. have you managed to meet, or are you both happy with a “facebook message” introduction? I reckon you can both help eachother!….
    Also, there is another Libby who is in town who might be able to help you both, I can see if she is happy to be part of the conversation as well?
    Cherie

  6. Hi.
    I am a mum of a 2 year old with multiple allergies (egg, dairy, nut). As she is getting older, I am looking for more snacks for her, and want home made so I know exactly what is in them and what they have been exposed too. Being in regional Qld, we also have limited resources available. I am interested on your experience with a food processor vs bellini vs thermomix.- I also have a baby on the way so time management is a factor too!
    Look forward to hearing from you (and a great site by the way!).
    Cath

    1. Hi Cath – it is great that you are wanting to make your daughter’s snacks rather than buying them – it will be so much better for her (and your!) health as well as on the budget – food allergies are expensive! I have a Thermomix and before it I didn’t even have a food processor. I made do with a stick mixer with a little processing attachment, but basically didn’t do much food processing! I am really enjoying having a Thermomix and being able to make things I couldn’t before without a processor and with the weighing and cooking options it’s fab. I use it most days and some times more than once a day. Washing it up is a bit of work but it can go in the dishwasher (if you don’t need it before that!) and the plethora of recipes that people have adjusted on the internet is amazing. I think it comes down to $$ and how much you can afford to spend. I had a generous benefactor so that part of the decision was removed for me. I also got mine after all my kids were finished with veg purees but it would have been super handy for that too! Do you have any friends nearby who have a thermomix or Bellini? Might be worth visiting them for a look?? I will get Jess to give her opinion on her Bellini. Libby

    2. Hi Cath
      Welcome 🙂 Until very recently, including living very remotely, I didn’t have a thermal cooker so made do quite nicely with my food processor. I would have been quite stuck without one I think.
      I got a second hand Bellini a few months ago and I really do love it. I actually think after having it, that I probably wouldn’t buy a Thermomix. The cost is far too great for our family budget, and I make almost everything from scratch anyway so I wouldn’t make enough savings that way to justify it. I have also learned that you really do have to change your way of cooking to use a thermal cooker for main meals. I don’t use it that way, for a few reasons – I enjoy the process of cooking, the jug isn’t large enough for the quantities I cook in, and also I cook with a lot of cheaper cuts of meat so I use a very large slow cooker to help make them tender and I can’t do that in a Thermal Cooker. However, given those negatives, I do use my Bellini A LOT!! Mostly I use it for prep work and baking. Once a fortnight I have a massive baking session and make all of the kids lunches and snacks and stock up my freezer to make school days easier. I use it for making biscuits, cakes and bliss balls, hiding veggies in sauces, making purees, sauces, pastes, custards and doughs. I also use to it to make my own nut butter and chocolate spread substitutes.
      You can certainly make all of these things without a Thermal cooker in a good food processor, but it often requires a few more steps and I found with things like nut butters that I didn’t get as smooth a consistency as I do from the Bellini.
      Maybe a Bellini would be a good first step for you to see if you like the style of cooking and how much you’d use it without the scary price tag? The basic model is often on sale for about $270 at Target.
      Good luck with welcoming your new little one and I hope that you find our recipes helpful for your little girl.
      Jess

  7. Hi again. Thank you so much for your feedback. Have decided to go with the Bellini. Just waiting for it to arrive. I can’t wait to get stuck in to your wonderful recipes – thank you so much for sharing them. My little one and I just made your choc chip bikkies as a special Sunday treat – big hit all round! Catherine

    1. Sorry Catherine – I didn’t see your reply until now! Glad we could be helpful 🙂 Has your Bellini arrived? Hope you are having fun with it!! Happy cooking.

  8. I love your recipes!! What a journey you have both been on!! Thank you for sharing! I’m hoping you can pleas help me? I am going to make the Creamy Satay Curry. The amount for the sunflower seed butter says ‘2 quantities’ how much is that exactly? 2 Jars? Thanks!

  9. Hey Tash – I think maybe we had this chat on the Bellini site? If not … the 2 quantities is for the satay sauce, not the seed butter. If you click on the link for the satay sauce it’ll take you to the recipe and you double that recipe to make 2 quantities. The sauce has 1/4 cup butter in it, so you’ll need 1/2 cup of seed butter to make the double sauce to go in the curry. Hope that makes sense!

  10. Hi hi
    Loving the look of your recipes cant wait for my thermie to cook up a storm…..question….when you use liquid from chickpeas is there a replacement? Im fructose intolerant and cant have legumes 😦

  11. Hi Jess

    I found your blog via your Facebook page from SS Facebook. You have a wonderful resource here and I will definitely be checking out some of the recipes as I eat a gluten-free diet. I have passed the link on to a young friend who has a son with multiple food allergies, although he does seem to be improving with time.

    I am also unable to share my blog – no monetary benefit but lots of hints and tips. I would love to be able to share it with a broader audience, many of whom I believe would appreciate it.

    Warm regards

    Yvonne

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