The mum tackling food allergies head-on
After seeing first-hand how diet can improve health, Sharon Selby is on a mission to help other families deal with food intolerances.
Sharon Selby didn’t realise she was eating her way to poor health.
Constantly battling sinus problems, asthma, hay fever and a snotty nose she couldn’t shake, she was frustrated with all aspects of her health.
Her first son, Jake, had a rough start to life, and was intolerant to many foods.
Sharon also developed post-natal depression.
“Things spiralled out of control. I had constant fatigue, headaches, digestive and thyroid issues. I was on daily medication. Life was a struggle,” she says.
“Junk food became my coping mechanism. As soon as Jake went to bed, out came the biscuits and chocolates and I’d stuff myself silly.”
Sharon knew she had to change
She found a blender, still new in the box, skipped her morning toast and made a fruit and veggie smoothie.
She began eating more wholefoods and ditched processed foods – and soon found she had more clarity than ever, and her health issues cleared up as well.
Sharon trained to become a health coach and set up her own website, Beat the Treats.
Finding a way through food intolerances
While Jake outgrew most of his intolerances, second son Cooper also had multiple food intolerances – including most fruits and vegetables.
He was only a few weeks old when he started displaying the tell-tale symptoms of being an ‘allergy baby’ – reflux, eczema, crazy nappies, tummy cramps, poor sleep and vomiting.
“His little immune system was in overdrive, as were my stress levels,” says Sharon.
“The hardest part of all was figuring out what to feed everyone. Sleep deprivation didn’t exhaust me, meal planning did.”
Sharon’s newly gained nutrition knowledge helped her work out a plan.
She eliminated the unnecessary foods, and made sure what she was giving him was as nutrient-dense as possible.
By 18 months, he too had outgrown most of his intolerances.
Helping other kids to thrive
Sharon now shares dairy, soy, gluten, wheat, nut and peanut-free recipes on her website, helping other families deal with food allergies and intolerances.
“I’m seeing too often that kids on a restricted diet are eating more processed foods,” she says.
“This leads to fussy eating, nutrient deficiencies, compromised immune systems and health issues later on.”
But Sharon says cooking delicious, healthy food should not be stressful or time consuming.
“Having food allergies isn’t a prison sentence, she says.
“Motherhood is meant to be enjoyable and fulfilling. A healthy, happy family starts in the kitchen.”
A sample of Sharon’s allergy-friendly recipes.
Kid Favourite Allergy-Friendly Chicken Nuggets
Serve these with sweet potato fries and steamed veggies or homemade tomato pasta sauce and penne pasta. My boys will also eat these cold straight out the fridge – they taste just as good! So they’re also a perfect protein addition in school lunch boxes or picnics.
To cook these nuggets you can either fry or bake them. Frying gives them more crunch but they still taste great fresh out of the oven.
- 2 chicken breast fillets or 500g of chicken tenderloins
- 2 eggs (or replace with ½ cup of melted coconut oil, organic sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 ½ cups (150g) rice crumbs, quinoa flakes or almond meal
Herbs and spices to add flavour to the crumb mixture:
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Organic sunflower oil, extra virgin olive oil or other good quality fat for frying
- If you’re baking the nuggets, preheat the oven to 190C or 375F and line a baking tray with parchment paper (just to make the washing up a bit easier).
- Slice the chicken breasts into thin 5 cm long pieces and set aside.
- Break the eggs into a bowl and give them a whisk until well combined. Alternatively for egg allergies, add your oil into this bowl and set aside.
- In another bowl or plate mix together the rice crumbs or quinoa flakes, the spices and seasoning and give it a good mix with your hands and set aside with the other bowls.
- Now you’re ready to prepare the nuggets. In batches, dip the chicken strips into the egg or oil (I do a handful at a time). Next individually coat each chicken slice in the flavoured crumb mixture on both sides so they are evenly coated and then set aside on another plate or on the baking tray (if baking).
- Repeat with all chicken pieces until they are all ready to be cooked.
- If frying, heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Test the heat of the oil by placing a small piece of chicken in the pan. When the oil has reached the prefect heat the oil will sizzle around the chicken and you can then fry more pieces at the same time. Cook in batches and for about 3 minutes each time until they are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the nuggets from the pan using a fork or tongs and drain on paper towels. Alternatively, if you are baking the nuggets pop them in the oven to cook for 20-25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
- Serve with homemade sweet potato fries, salad and a good-quality organic ketchup.
Recipe Information: Dairy, soy, gluten, wheat free, nut and peanut-free. Can be made egg-free.
Serves: 4 people
Gluten & Dairy Free Pancakes
This family favourite breakfast is packed with nutritious whole food goodness. Serve these pancakes with mixed berries and pure maple syrup for a delicious start to the day.
- 1 cup/125g buckwheat flour
- 1½ cups/375ml almond milk (or any dairy-free milk)
- 1 banana
- 1 egg (optional)
- 2 tbs chia seeds (optional for extra nutrients)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or ground cinnamon
- Coconut oil for frying
- In a food processor, combine all the ingredients (except the coconut oil) and mix well into a smooth batter.
- In the meantime, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to a medium/hot pan and heat until it the oil melts and spreads. Pour in some batter to form a pancake.
- Once you see bubbles appear in the batter it’s time to flip over and cook the other side.
- Repeat until you have finished the batter and enjoy warm with maple syrup and berries.
Recipe Information: Dairy, gluten, wheat, and nut-free. Vegetarian and refined sugar-free. Can be made egg-free.
Serves: 4 people
Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies
These nutritious cookies (also known as calcium cookies) are naturally sweet and chewy. Thanks to the chickpeas and tahini they are packed with vital bone-healthy minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium – all needed for strong growing bones.
- 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
- ½ cup (125g) hulled tahini (can substitute with any nut or seed butter)
- 1/3 cup (85g) maple syrup (honey or brown rice syrup)
- 1/3 cup (85g) vegan dark chocolate chips (can replace with raisins or sultanas)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Pop the drained chickpeas, tahini, maple syrup, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Fold in the chocolate chips or sultanas.
- Using a tablespoon scoop the dough and drop onto the baking trays evenly spaced out.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and lightly browned. Allow to cool so they set.
Recipe Information: Dairy, gluten, wheat, grain and egg-free, with nut-free substitution. Vegan and refined sugar-free.
Serves: 16 cookies
Recipes and images courtesy of Beat the Treats.