Updated: Sep 21

When my son was first diagnosed with food allergies (11 months) I avoided oats as he was allergic to wheat and gluten and my understanding at the time this included oats. In fact when he was around 7 months old I had added a rice and oat porridge, only a little, into his mashed veggies. He had a reaction, the instant running nose, watery/itchy eyes, sneezing, a few random hives, it was a sign something was up. I stopped feeding him, cleaned him up and nursed him. He had consumed one mouthful, I didn’t even consider it was the food, it was so easy to assume it was bad hay fever as it was spring and a blowing day with high pollen count. Mum intuition had kicked in though, cause somehow I didn’t feed him that rice and oat porridge again, phew!

Fast forward to food allergy diagnoses, our allergist included oats in his allergic foods and that was it, we avoided it. Then I came to learn that oats don’t have the same gluten protein as wheat, rye, barley, malt and triticale and the reaction my son experience was most likely due to the oats being contaminated with wheat.

Oats contain a protein call avenin and some people do have an allergy to this protein, however oats do not contain gluten, the issue is they are highly contaminated with gluten due to growing and processing.

Oat crops are easily contaminated with gluten from other gluten containing crops (barley, rye, wheat etc.) they are often grown around these crops and used in crop rotation, so one year wheat, next year oats. So there would easily be some stray wheat growing amongst the oat crop, more than a trace. Then oats get stored in the same silos that previously had gluten grains, followed by transport in trucks and processing in a plant, all of which also handle gluten containing grains. You can see how easy this cross contamination occurs. So if you are anaphylactic you most likely will react to this cross-contamination as its more than just a trace.

If you have a wheat allergy or even a sensitivity, avoid oats unless they are guaranteed wheat free. There are a few producers who have dedicated farms, silos, transport and processing plants that don’t handle gluten containing grains. The two that I am aware of and my son has eaten without incidence are Bob’s Red Mill (US based) and Red Tractor Australian Oats, links below.

So if you have avoided oats due to gluten, I highly recommend exploring them further, speak with your immunologist or allergist, and try wheat free oats. It is so good to have this healthy grain on-board and worth checking if your child actually is allergic to oats or just the cross-contamination process.

The benefits of oats in the diet are many, firstly they contain beta-glucans which impact the gut microbiome (gut bugs), they act as prebiotics feeding the good bacteria in your gut helping balance your gut microbiome and in turn supporting the immune system. If you want to understand the connection between food allergies, gut health and the immune system, you can download my ebook here which goes into more detail, plus provides tips.

The soluble fibre in oats are also helpful in the reduction of cholesterol, balancing blood glucose, eases constipation, high in protein (when compared to other grains), and contain antioxidants. Another benefit of oats, they contain tryptophan which is needed to make melatonin, the hormone our brain requires to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. A little bowl of porridge may be helpful, if your child is having sleep issues.

If you are want to know more, email me at nutrition@bovell.com

I have a bunch of recipes using oats, here on my website (scroll down) and also on my instagram page.

Wheat free oats:




Smulders MJM, van de Wiel CCM, van den Broeck HC, van der Meer IM, Israel-Hoevelaken TPM, Timmer RD, van Dinter BJ, Braun S, Gilissen LJWJ. Oats in healthy gluten-free and regular diets: A perspective. Food Res Int. 2018 Aug;110:3-10. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2017.11.031. Epub 2017 Nov 21. PMID: 30029703.


Updated: May 25

Easy to make, delicious, and nutrient dense. I often make these for early morning starts, and the kids like these if they are feeling extra hungry. They freeze well just let them thaw prior to eating.

The magic ingredient in these is cannellini beans, they are a great binder, plus a good source of protein and fibre, and if you are trying to introduce more legumes to your diet, this is a great way, as the amount is not to large to overwhelm the digestive system.

I use apple sauce in this recipe, I find apple sauce to be a great sweetener plus aids to the binding. Making your own apple sauce it easy, firstly don't remove the skins, the goodness is there, including pectin which is helpful for the gut. Roughly chop apples (I prefer green but any variety will work) and pop in saucepan with a little water, cover and simmer on stove top until apples are soft, then transfer to kitchen processor or use stick mixer to blitz up, freeze in small portion ready to use in baking.


1 tbsp chia seeds

3 tbsp water

Mix these two together and set aside.

In a medium bowl add the following:

100g wheat free oats, lightly pulsed in kitchen processor to make a rough flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp salt

Mix together

Then add following ingredients:

1x can of cannellini beans, drained and mashed until creamy, use fork or stick mixer

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup runny honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup of apple sauce

1 tsp vanilla paste

zest of one orange

Add chia seed mixture and mix until well incorporated.

Then add following ingredients:

70g pitted dates, chopped

30g sultana or raisins

30g pumpkin seeds

60g allergy free cornflake, these are optional and just add another extra bit of crunch.

Mix ingredients together with hands, makes a dough. Wet hands and shape into 10 large balls, place all on baking tray before flattening to around 1.5cm. Bake at 180C for about 25-30mins or until lightly golden.


Updated: Sep 21

Ok so there are a lot more allergy friendly easter chocolate options out there than a decade ago, but as my son has pointed out, they never have any stuff inside, no delicious fillings, which seems to be true. Whilst I have in the past made allergy friendly caramel and used egg moulds to make beautiful eggs that disappear in seconds! I am feeling short on time. So I came up with these, no moulds required and easy to whip up and they taste great.

NOTE: In this recipe you are making your own chocolate, which is actually surprisingly easy, you can reduce allergen risk and added bonus way less sugar! However if you have a chocolate you can use, omit the cacao butter, powder, maple syrup and just melt it down to make filling. Then melt down more to make outer shell, 100-130g blocks for each would be fine.



60g cacao butter

40g cacao powder

40g maple syrup or to taste

1x tsp vanilla paste

120g coconut cream

pinch of salt

Melt the cacao butter, either in small saucepan, low heat on stovetop or small glass bowl in microwave, stir until liquid, then add remaining ingredients except the coconut cream and stir until well incorporated and smooth, then add coconut cream and mix well. Place bowl in freezer for an hour, just don’t allow to become frozen.

Take out the freezer and using a metal spoon, scoop out mixture and shape into eggs and place on baking paper. Then place back in freezer whilst you prepare next step.

Outer shell:

60g cacao butter

40g cacao powder

40g maple syrup or to taste

1x tsp vanilla paste

pinch of salt

Make chocolate as above (leaving out coconut cream), then dip rolled eggs in melted chocolate, using a fork, lay out on baking paper too harden. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

I have used the Sweet William white chocolate chips to decorate these.