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The Gluten Free Veggie

Gluten Free and Vegetarian Recipes, Reviews and Information

Month

May 2016

Coeliac Awareness Week | A Coeliac’s View of Food Shopping

This is rather different to the blog posts I usually do, but as it’s Awareness Week I thought I’d write a blog post aimed at non-Coeliacs. This post of course applies to anyone living with a dietary restriction, not just Coeliacs, but as it’s CAW, I’ve kept it specific to Coeliacs.

A small disclaimer before I begin, just to stem any negative comments – this is my own experience and observations, I do not speak for all Coeliacs/gluten intolerant individuals. I am aware of how lucky we are in comparison to Coeliacs who were diagnosed 10+ years ago – and compared to some others with far more debilitating chronic illnesses – but that does not mean that we should settle for what we have and stop campaigning for better options, availability and awareness.

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It’s no exaggeration that “free from” is a growing market – the free from aisles are expanding and the range of products is increasing periodically. Even so, it can be a disheartening experience for someone who knows they can never eat gluten again without being seriously ill to walk through a supermarket.

Above is a few snapshots of part of ASDA’s “normal” bakery and cake section. 99% of these parts of the supermarket will either contain gluten, or be unsafe for Coeliacs due to manufacturing processes. If you’re not Coeliac and you want chocolate trifle, tear n share garlic bread, freshly baked chocolate chip pancakes, Smarties cookies, sesame seed buns, potato cakes, scones, eccles cakes, English muffins, crumpets etc etc etc for just a few pounds per packet – it’s all right there, with very little fear of it being out of stock or becoming discontinued. This is something I took for granted before diagnosis and I never realised the regret I would feel for not trying each and every item!

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For a  little perspective, here are the two snaps I took of the “free from” aisle in ASDA today. Compared to a few years ago this is massively expanded, yet I ask you to really consider the range of choice here – no poppy seed bagels, chocolate crepes or Star Wars Birthday cakes for those of us with Coeliac disease. “My store has a much wider range,” I hear you say – but that’s precisely the issue – the range on offer is inconsistent, and sometimes I can’t even buy bread at my local supermarket if they haven’t had a delivery in. What’s more if you really look at what is on offer here, you will see an array on snacks, biscuits, rice cakes, but very little substantial. This is something most supermarkets are aware of and are working to change – for example Marks and Spencer’s and Tesco’s have introduced a huge amount of new free from products this year.

Even with an expanded range, due to the supply issues and niche demand for gluten free food, the prices of free from food are out of a lot of people’s budgets. A loaf of bread can be anywhere from £2-4 depending on the brand.

Don’t get me wrong – nobody should be basing their entire diet on the free from aisle. And whilst I quite enjoy living on a diet based around fruit, vegetables, rice and dairy, it would be nice to walk to into a supermarket and be able to grab something which non-coeliacs take for granted.

I want to make it clear that I don’t mean to bemoan supermarkets – after all they are working on a supply and demand basis – but sometimes you have to walk in someone’s shoes to start to experience their life. I hope this blog post has helped to provoke someone’s thoughts or even just give some insight into gluten free living.

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Coeliac Awareness Week | Recipe (GF, Vegan) | Vegan Cashew Burgers

Uncharacteristically for England in early May the weather was utterly gorgeous this weekend, and so my boyfriend and I had an impromptu BBQ with one of his housemates. The weather was lush, we had potato salad and ice lollies for after, all we needed was the burgers!

Now there are a few gluten free vegetarian burgers in shops – Create A Good Life, Linda McCartney and Quorn to name a few – but due to me not being able to eat onions, garlic and soya because of my IBS, all of these leave me in agony. So I botched together something – partially inspired by this video by Edgy Veg, as I’d never thought to use potato as a binder – using the veg I had in the fridge and some cashews. You can use whatever veg you have, but I love mushrooms, so they were my main vegetable with courgette to bulk it out and add some greenery!

I cooked mine on the BBQ but they can be shallow fried or baked too.

This makes roughly 5 burgers, but I made 4 and 3 small meatballs!

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Ingredients:

1 large new potato, peeled

4 slices of gluten free bread

50g approx. of cashews (soaked for about half an hour)

3 baby courgettes or 1 large courgette

6 button mushrooms

Smoked paprika to taste

Dried oregano

Dried thyme

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Method:

  1. Boil water for the potato and add one chopped potato. Boil for around 20 minutes. In a small frying pan cook grated courgette and chopped mushrooms. In a bowl of cold water, soak the cashews.
  2. Once all of the veg is cooked, drain the potatoes and add all of the ingredients to the blender including the herbs and spices.
  3. Blitz until the consistency is smooth and holds together in your hand.
  4. Rub your hands with a small amount of olive oil and shape into burgers and meatballs. Place onto greaseproof paper or foil and refrigerate for around 30 mins – this is not vital but I found it helped hold it together when being BBQed. Alternatively bake for 10 minutes before putting on the BBQ.
  5. Cook on the BBQ for about 20 minutes with olive oil, turning half way through.

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See my previous recipe here.

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Coeliac Awareness Week | A Guide to Coeliac Disease

It’s Coeliac Awareness Week this week (9th-15th May 2016) and so I thought the best thing I could do to help raise awareness was to compile a simple guide to the disease, to help give people all of the information I can from one place. If you are looking for a guide to starting a gluten free diet, see my post from last year here for advice.

This post is the padded out and edited version of this Tumblr post that I made last year for awareness week. I was astounded by the amount of reblogs and messages of support that I received from people who had experiences with the disease, or just wanted to help.

Alas, Tumblr is not the best medium for creating a serious post with all of the relevant information (as you can see I created it on my fan page for Red Dwarf – not exactly the ideal place for a post about an auto-immune disease!) and so I have decided to extend it here.

All information I have used from other websites has been sourced and linked and is given in quotation marks. Any parts not sourced are from my own knowledge of the disease or my own experiences.

 

 

Coeliac Disease – the facts

(Source: Coeliac UK Website)

“What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac and spelled celiac in other countries) is a lifelong autoimmune disease. It is caused by the immune system reacting to gluten.

How common is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is common and affects one in 100 people. However only 24% who have the condition have been diagnosed which means there are currently nearly half a million people who have coeliac disease but don’t yet know. If a first degree family member (such as mother, father, sister or brother) has the condition then the chances of having it increase to one in 10.

What causes coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine.

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss and anaemia.

What is the treatment for coeliac disease?

Once diagnosed, the only treatment for coeliac disease is a gluten-free diet. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people are also sensitive to oats. Once gluten is removed from the diet, you should start to feel much better.”

(The following information is from the NHS website):

“Complications

Complications of coeliac disease only tend to affect people who continue to eat gluten or who have yet to be diagnosed with the condition, which can be a common problem in milder cases.

Potential long-term complications include:

Less common and more serious complications include those affecting pregnancy, such as having a low-birth weight baby, and some types of cancers, such as bowel cancer.”

 

Coeliac disease can affect anyone. Some Coeliacs do not have symptoms (known in the community as “silent coeliacs”), or have very mild symptoms and only find out about the condition due to family members being diagnosed. Symptoms can often be confused with other conditions – see Coeliacs UK’s page about symptoms here for more information on this.

The only way to stop the effects of Coeliac Disease is to go onto a gluten free diet. This essentially means that those of us living with the disease have to cut out foods such as pasta, bread, pizza, cakes, some breakfast cereals, ready made foods and do a lot of research before eating out. Gluten is hidden in lots of foods that you wouldn’t even know about – soy sauce, mustard, cous cous, some sweets, some chocolate, even chips sometimes have a wheat coating!

To top it off, even a single gluten-containing breadcrumb/flour/bit of food falling into our food by accident can make us ill. This is called cross contamination of gluten, and is a great fear for Coeliacs and those with other gluten related illnesses, so special preparation areas are often needed, at home and in eateries.

As you can see living gluten free is far from easy. Gluten free alternatives are becoming more and more available all the time but we need the help of non-coeliacs.

The more people who are aware, the more companies will cater for us, so please share this, share it with friends and family, on other sites, print it out and stick it up somewhere, and not only could you be helping to diagnose someone, you could be making a difficult illness slightly easier to live with.

It is also important to know that some people can have gluten intolerance, or sensitivities. This means their illness is not auto-immune like Coeliac disease but often has similar symptoms. People with these illnesses may not have to remove gluten all together as they may be able to tolerate small amounts without damaging the gut. Gluten intolerance is still a difficult condition to live with, and in a lot of cases it is not taken seriously because it is confused with the fad diet – some people use gluten free as a way to try to lose weight (p.s this has not been proven, and often doesn’t work, this video from Unnatural Vegan on youtube gives a lot of information about this). Gluten intolerance is often diagnosed in a similar way to Coeliac disease, except that endoscopy results for CD will be negative. Many with gluten intolerance live the same lifestyle as someone with CD, removing gluten completely, and cross contamination can lead to “glutening” for them too.

If you have any of the above symptoms please go to your doctor. If you would like to donate to Coeliac UK please do so here. If you have questions about the illness feel free to e-mail me (glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com), but I would recommend going to Coeliac UK or the NHS website for more details, as I can only use my own experience, I’m not a doctor. Coeliac UK also have Twitter and Facebook if you would prefer informal advice.

 

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