The Real Housewives of Cheshire star reveals her ‘severe’ gut allergies inspired her to create an alternative recipes cookbook
Stacey’s serious allergies
Stacey Forsey suffers Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO), a severe gut disease that means she experiences ‘almost labour pains’ whenever she has gluten, eggs or dairy.
Her daughter and mother have the same condition, although Stacey didn’t realise her daughter, Grace, has been suffering for a ‘long, long time,’ she says.
‘I didn’t realise, I felt really bad, that my little girl has been bloated or a long, long time. I thought it was because she was constipated, so we went back and forth to the doctors and she was given laxatives and that didn’t work.’
It was only in the last year that she realised Grace has her same intolerance to gluten, eggs and dairy.
Puddings were off limits
For a while, Stacey cooked separate meals for her family. This was tiring enough, but she struggled with not having a ‘nice pudding’ with the rest of the family. Every sweet pudding has flour, eggs, sugar and butter in it, so they were off limits to Stacey, her mum and her daughter.
‘Grace wouldn’t be able to have a pudding, Mum wouldn’t be able to have a pudding, I didn’t either. Just my Dad, my husband my brother, my son would indulge in pudding and we’d just sit there eating an apple.’
As a self-confessed ‘foodie’, this was not enough to fill Stacey. She started to feel low because she was missing out.
‘We talk openly about mental illness and there is a link – if your gut isn’t well then neither is your brain.’
The solution: Stacey’s alternative ingredients
So, about 18 months ago, Stacey took back control. She got together with a chef friend and, through ‘trial and error’, they developed recipes that used alternative ingredients. These recipes are now in her cookbook, Scrumplicious Sweet Treats.
‘I just wanted to create desserts that were just like the same thing – a sticky toffee pudding that tasted the same, had the same texture, but with everything missing that I couldn’t have. And I believe I mastered that.’
Getting ready for Christmas
With Christmas around the corner, Stacey has already started planning dinner for her table of 14. She will baste the turkey with dairy-free butter, and prepare gluten-free gravy, dairy-free stuffing and gluten-free sausages for her pigs in blankets. All of which, she says, you can buy from M&S. ‘I cheat because I’m not superwoman!’
For dessert, she will use the recipes in her new cookbook, Scrumplicious Sweet Treats, to make gluten, dairy and egg-free mince pies and a traditional Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.
She makes her Christmas pudding six to eight weeks before Christmas day so she can add brandy to it every day in the run-up to the big day. ‘That’s my favourite treat over the Christmas period.’
Tackling the wider problem
While Stacey is able to cook comfortably at home, she says eating in public is a whole other story.
‘It’s when you’re out in public, that’s the problem – restaurants, hotels, when you’re travelling,’ she says.
She predicts 80% of public places don’t cater for her needs. She is trying to put pressure on these spaces to provide more inclusive options. ‘I’m on a mission,’ she says.
Stacey Forsey’s free from gluten, egg and dairy cookbook, Scrumplicious Sweet Treats, is available to buy today from Amazon and staceyforsey.co.uk