There’s nothing in an Oxo stock cube…

Oxo cubes. We all know about those. We don’t eat Oxo cubes if we are allergic to wheat or celery because they are not just stock… they are lots of other things too.

Planning the two ingredient soup - what could possible go wrong?

Planning the two ingredient soup – what could possible go wrong?

The moral of this blog is that you must always keep checking and checking and when that little niggling doubt is in the back of your mind you keep asking until you sound like a broken record because while no one means to ever mis-inform you, they only know what they know.

And if they just don’t know they won’t tell you…

So let’s get to the point.

The soup.

We discussed the soup by text en route to Chez Dad and Liz so my mouth was watering in anticipation of home-made soup.

The Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato soup

Butternut squash, sweet potato and OXO CUBE SOUP

Butternut squash, sweet potato and OXO CUBE SOUP

Ed: Nice table mats!

Dad: It’s just got Butternut squash and sweet potato in it. Nothing else. Can you eat that?
Me: Just those two things? Nothing else?
Dad: Yes nothing else.
Me: You added salt and pepper though…
Dad: Well yes of course but nothing else.

So the soup looks amazing and smells amazing. But I’m not so sure it looks like JUST butternut squash and sweet potato. It’s so smooth and creamy and silky and eatable.

And so we go on, and we are just about to sit down to eat the soup when…

Dad: This soup has quite a kick because I added my special spice mix.
Me: Your what?
Dad: It’s just spices.
Me: Can I see it please?
Dad goes and gets the spices. It is just a mixture of spices and fine for me but by now those alarm bells are ringing so loud in my ears I can’t stop myself. I am a broken record of the worst kind, but I have to be.

Me: So all that’s in this soup is butternut squash, sweet potato, these spices and seasoning.
Dad: Yes, that’s all. I made it in my new soup maker.

So I took a tiny sip. It just tasted not quite right. I can’t explain how I knew, because I didn’t get the instant lip itching and mouth blisters I would have from nuts or dairy. Just a very bad feeling and a taste I knew to avoid.

Me: Are you sure that’s all you put in this soup?
Dad: (getting annoyed now) Yes. That’s all. Just butternut squash, sweet potato, the spices… oh and a stock cube.
Dad: Just a stock cube
Me: What kind of stock cube?
Dad: Not sure.

Dad goes and gets kilner jar of decanted and mixed stock cubes… and stands guiltily in the door way. Holds up the green one and says… Oxo!

“It’s just an Oxo vegetable stock cube. There’s nothing in a stock cube…”

Me: No Dad. Nothing at all in a stock cube. Just WHEAT AND CELERY!

I am trying not get cross now. But I am fuming inside.

Mr What Allergy makes me check online and yes, the offending Oxo cube does indeed contain wheat and celery. This does not please me.

How does he not know this about me? How does he not know that I can’t eat normal stock cubes?
And how does he still not know, off by heart, the whole long list of things I cannot eat?

I am doing him a laminated list to go on his notice board for my next visit. It will have in bold, at the bottom. NO OXO CUBES!

But I am not angry. Because part of this blame lies with me. It is hard to educate others with the vigilance I have to adhere to just to stay in one piece and not in terrible stomach pain. Because I hate asking questions ALL THE TIME, I bore myself with them, I would rather quietly bring my own food and not make a fuss. But by not making a fuss and spelling things out you do yourself no favours.

So while they all tuck into their rustic bread and delicious home-made soup I quietly prepare my own Pea pancetta and mint soup courtesy of ilumi. I always go prepared everywhere I go. Thank you ilumi! Saved the day once again.

And I try not to launch into a torrent of unhelpful abuse…

And then I have to swallow my raging food envy over this bread. Oh if I could eat this bread I would be in heaven. And if I could smother it with lashings of butter. Oooohhhhhhhh…

Serious food envy watching them all eat this wheat infested loaf

Serious food envy watching them all eat this wheat infested loaf

Discovering Sesame Ryvita… how have I never had this before?

The saving grace to this whole uncomfortable episode was discovering Sesame Ryvita… I can eat these because although I am allergic to wheat, I CAN eat rye and barley, thank goodness. My Dad’s lovely wife produced these and I loved them. She might not realise yet that I wolfed half the pack in defiance to the rustic loaf staring at me across the table.

Delicious wheat free Sesame Ryvita is delicious

Delicious wheat free Sesame Ryvita is delicious

That day I had some serious food envy but my lovely ilumi soup and this Ryvita made it all OK and I think I managed to not be too rude to my dear old Dad. He didn’t mean to lie but lie he did.

He won’t be doing that again!

Please, please, please, friends and family. Don’t ever be worried about saying if you put in a stock cube or ingredient you aren’t sure about. We would really rather know about it than eat it and be sick. There is no such thing as a stupid question so ask if you’re not sure and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, especially to Ruth because she’s Ruthless.

Because if I had eaten that soup I would have spent an awful long time on the toilet and in pain. As it was I had nothing more than a tiny murmuring in the stomach. I got away with that sip of soup.

And all was forgotten when we tucked into my belated birthday brunch the following morning at Number Twenty Six in Teignmouth which will be the subject of my next blog. THE most amazing gluten and dairy free breakfast and no wheat and celery in sight!

I think he surpassed himself with the evening meal. A joint effort from both Dad and Liz. Delicious roasted vegetables with jacket potato and seared chicken. Totally freefrom and not a Oxo cube in sight!

Roasted vegetables with seared chicken and oven baked jacket spud

Roasted vegetables with seared chicken and oven baked jacket spud

nb: Apologies to Dad but the lesson we all learnt here was just too good not to share and I can never resist the opportunity for a good old rant.

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. Oh Ruth – I know this wasn’t the ultimate goal but you’ve had me giggling away at this post – I am very lucky to have so few allergies and food intolerances but the ones I do have make situations like this so awkward. It’s so difficult positioning your questions about the food you are about to eat without sounding like a complete high maintenance princess! But we all know the consequences of not doing it. My pet hate though is when you gently and discretely enquire with the host whether or not the food contains any of your russian roulette ingredients and they shout loudly through to other room full of guests quietly sipping on their pre-dinner drinks. Host: “JOHN? HAS THE DESSERT GOT ANY NUTS IN – BECKY SAYS SHE DOESN’T LIKE THEM?” John: “OOOH NOT SURE – LOOK ON THE BOX?” Host: “I PUT THE BIN OUT – HANG ON I’LL GO AND DIG IT OUT OF THE BIN LINER – IS IT ALL NUTS YOU DON”T LIKE?” The rest of the assembled group now all staring at you picturing Imelda Marcos in their heads. (as usually in these situations my eczema has decided to flare and I’m covered in fab eczema blotches and the accompanying cold-sores, making all that extra attention *so* much more delightful). Avocado has me bent double in agony for several hours – and after side swiping the guacamole was once hit with a ‘secret ingredient’ in cheesecake (cheesecake made out of avocado I ask you??) after one mouth full. When they were handing out allergies I do wish they had also created a trap door especially for us to fall through in exactly these circumstances But then, I guess that’s exactly what this blog is – nice to join you. XXX

    • Ha Ha. well I did want to make you laugh too because if we don’t laugh we’d cry right? I love the phrase ‘high maintenance princess’. I’m using that in future. I did once have a jacket potato swiftly microwaved with plain tuna and sweetcorn at one dinner party while everyone else dug into their gourmet meal – I had just narrowly avoided total disaster from creme fraiche I watched her add right at the last minute. “Oh can you not eat creme fraiche either? What CAN you eat?” Right now I could rip your arm off and devour that!

      Colleague at work continually says she is allergic to dairy and yet she eats loads of things with dairy in it. I challenged her the other day and she just ‘doesn’t like cheese and milk and things that look like cheese, they like totally gross her out.’ but she CAN eat it no problem if disguised as an ingredient. NOT an allergy! Had a right rant at her demanding she stop saying she is allergic to dairy. That’s a phobia right there, not an allergy. And then I can hear myself and I know sound like some nutty loon who just escaped from somewhere. We just have to keep on educating. One day we will be cured. I promise. In our dreams. Have you ever woken up and thought, Oh no, oh no, I’m going to have such bad eczema, I ate xxxx last night, only to realise you dreamt that you ate it? Happens to me all the time. Takes me a while to suss out I’m ok…

  2. I feel your pain, that sounds like every conversation I have had with family when you go round for a meal…
    Me: “Sorry, I can’t have that. I can see it has cream in it, cream is dairy and I am allergic to dairy.”
    Family member “Shall I take the cream out?”
    Me: “no thanks, it will still contain enough to make me very ill”
    Family member “oh, ok then. Do you want butter on your jacket potato?”

    Or like this last weekend, having spent almost 10 days with a continuous allergy reaction – desperately trying to find out where the problem is coming from I resort to my list of 100% safe foods (fresh food prepared by me) and eat nothing else. When you explain that to family they say “Oh but this is 100% safe”. How do they know that? “It doesn’t say milk in the ingredients” or “you have eaten this before”. Aaarrrrggghhh, neither of those make it safe !

    How do family, of all people, not remember or understand this stuff? I have friends that can rattle off a list of foods that I cant have and will still check before giving me anything, but family seem to be unable to remember.

    • Wayne I don’t know. I hope my Dad will still speak to me after this. I did warn him. I asked him if had a strange sensation… could he feel it… he had no idea what I meant and said, no, he was fine. So I told him it was the feeling of a blog coming on and that he might not like. You’d think parents of an allergy blogger would take a bit more care of they’ll get blogged about 😉

      Generally I jest, my family are really great. Most of the time… But my friends fiercely guard me, especially when we go out. I love it. They often take it more seriously than I do if I’m like, ‘oh it will be fine…’ especially my husband who has saved me from disaster many times. I have a group of girlfriends and their favourite line is. “You do know who this is? It’s a world renowned allergy and food blogger and she is very very allergic (get out the pen, show them the adrenaline)”. Works wonders! You get the most amazing and attentive service in restaurants.

  3. Hi Ruth
    You no longer need to be bread envious of your dad’s bread. We can’t quite believe it ourselves but our new ‘sourdough style bread and rolls’ could just fill that gap in your life. This is our first bread with organic yeast – for all the other bread we don’t use any bakery’s yeast. If you tell everybody about our brand new website which now allows customers to set up a standing order – bit like a veg box so they never need to run out again. I will send you some to review! PS The site went live last night and the first 50 online orders get a loaf of quinoa bread for FREE. All organic – no Xanthan gum – no Methyl cellulose – no other nasties. Just good proper bread made with old fashioned long fermentation – just without the gluten.

    • I know, I know, my diary has had – ‘Do Artisan Bread order’ at the top for weeks now! I have been living on rye bread that I can get in Budgens which is good but not a patch on yours. I’m going online to make a order and if I don’t you have my permission to nag!

    • Amazing website, Ingrid. I will be placing an order this weekend 🙂

      • Don’t forget – first 50 orders get a free QUINOA bread . Gluten-free and organic.
        Thank you for the nice comment, much appreciated.
        We will be offering a rye bread – if you are not gluten intolerant ..
        made by another baker soon as to not compromise our gluten-free status. Not organic but very nice – coming soon.

        • Oh I do love rye bread so I look forward to that. I buy the Rossisky rye loaf which is very simple and also has nothing nastie in it. A proper dense rye loaf.

      • Do it Wayne! The bread is to die for and as Ingrid says, no nasties in sight.

  4. I have checked oxo cubes and the no no’s for me are as follows. Wheat, maize starch, mono sodium glutamate, gluten for the uninitiated, caramel, sugar and beware anything the beef or chicken had eaten , it can remain in them and would probably be soya. Think I will just make my own. xx Jacquie

  5. Hi Jacquie, yes I know, not a nice ingredient list. For those who don’t have to check I wonder what damage all these ingredients are doing to their bodies in the long term? I made my own version of Butternut squash this weekend with my own chicken stock which I make in the slow cooker and it was delicious. Always take go prepared. Once a girl guide – always a girl guide 😉

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