The Gluten Free Veggie

Gluten Free and Vegetarian Recipes, Reviews and Information



Awareness | A Guide to Free From Terminology

When you’re first diagnosed, all of the acronyms, scientific terms and Free From specific jargon can seem quite daunting. Well don’t despair – I’ve compiled as many terms, phrases and acronyms as I can to help you out!


GF – quite simply this is an acronym for “Gluten Free”. This one can become a little confusing as it is also used to mean “girlfriend” in non-Free From circles.

Coeliac Disease – an auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack the gut when gluten is ingested. Read more here.

Gluten intolerance – an intolerance that causes a reaction to gluten. People who suffer from a gluten intolerance do not have the long term gut damage associated with Coeliac Disease but still suffer bouts of illness after ingestion and can be effected by cross contamination. Those with a gluten intolerance may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten. Little is known about why some people are intolerant to gluten.

Gluten sensitivity – similar to an intolerance to gluten, those with a gluten sensitivity can handle certain amounts of gluten without gut damage or illness. Again, little is known about what causes it.

DF – Dairy Free

EF – Egg Free

SF – is used to mean both “Soya Free” and sometimes “Sugar Free” so you may have to infer the meaning from context.

CC – Cross contamination. This is a term used to describe the act of cross contaminating Free From food. For example, a chef handles gluten bread and then handles gluten free bread. The trace amounts of gluten on the chef’s hands leads to the product being cross contaminated – i.e not safe for Coeliacs. You can read more about the effects and prevention of cross contamination here.

Under 20ppm – less than 20 parts per million. This is the term used in the legal discussions about gluten free food labelling. To legally be labelled as “Gluten Free” a company must prove that their food item contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Read more about this here.

DH – Dermatitis Herpetiformis. This is a skin condition associated with Coeliac Diesease. Not every Coeliac will also suffer from DH. Read more here.

NGCI – no gluten containing ingredients. Read more about that here.

IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I have lots of blog posts about this, you can browse them here.

Low FODMAP – A diet created with the aim of helping those that suffer from IBS. Read more about it here.

Glutened – this is a term used by those with Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance when they have accidentally ingested gluten.

Made in a factory that handles… – this is as simple as what it says. This is a warning that companies place on their products to show that the product has been made in a factory that uses a specific allergen in other products. There is no general consensus on this issue in the gluten free community – in fact, it seems split right down the middle with some people happy to eat them and some people not! Do your research and make your own mind up about whether you think it is safe.

May contain… – this is similar to the phrase above. Labelling a product with “may contain” is completely voluntary. It indicates that the product has been made in a factory that uses the allergen, and potentially that the same line is used. This label is a little ambiguous, and again the free from community seems quite divided on the issue of “to eat or not to eat”. Read more here.


Awareness | Why Availability is Important for Coeliac Awareness

There are lots of ways to increase Coeliac awareness in the general public, but availability of products is not often considered as one of them.

Whilst availability is paramount anyway – we need to be able to buy the things we want to eat (see more about that here) – it is also an important tool for getting thoughts about Coeliac Disease into the minds of non-Coeliacs. Supermarkets are the one place that everyone is thinking about food, and the amount of non-Coeliacs I have seen (and spoken to) in the Free From aisle is quite high.

Having high availability of a large range of gluten free foods in the supermarkets – and in particular gluten free food in and around the “normal” food – is a good way to get non-Coeliacs to be more understanding of Coeliac issues.

Years before I had to go gluten free my family often bought Almondy cakes for dessert on special occasions. Seeing the gluten free logo on those cakes was my first realisation that it was a dietary requirement some people had to adhere to. I still didn’t fully understand it and didn’t think much about it but the awareness was there in the back of my mind.

Another example of this is that lots of supermarkets have now included gluten free sausages in their “normal” range – for example Marks and Spencer and Tesco.

Image result for tesco gluten free sausages

Photo source from The Gluten Free Cuppa Tea

By having a large availability of gluten free products in supermarkets we are able to subtly convey the need for gluten free food. Encouraging non-Coeliacs to eat gluten free food by placing it with the “normal” food also removes the stigma of the Free From aisle. Often non-Coeliacs see Free From foods as “weird” or “bland” etc. but by incorporating them into the products already available in the “normal” section, we remove this stigma and increase sales of gluten free products.

Let me know if this is something you’ve noticed too – are more gluten free products being included in the “normal” sections of your local supermarket?

Dear Quorn…

Dear Quorn,

I’m addressing this blog post to you because I want to open a dialogue about your gluten free range.

I firstly want to say how wonderful it is that in recent years you’ve created more gluten free and vegan products for those of us with more than one dietary requirement. It was good to see such a well known company stepping up and providing for Coeliacs. I also hope that it has increased your sales, as now those who had to avoid your products for their gluten content can buy them again.

Having said that, I am writing this to draw your attention to your use of gluten free barley in your gluten free products. YES, your gluten free barley IS gluten free technically speaking (under 20 ppm), but I’m curious as to whether you realise that you are still alienating a large portion of your potential customers?


Ingredient information for “Meat Free Gluten Free Burgers” on Quorn’s website

Quorn mince

Ingredient information for “Meat Free Mince” on Quorn’s website

Whilst Coeliacs need gluten free food, as the gluten free community are aware, sometimes it is not enough to remove the gluten from a usually gluten containing grain and still use it in your product, or to use a small enough amount of said gluten containing grain that it comes to under 20 ppm. This has come to light recently with the use of codex wheat in some of Schar’s and Juvela products. Whilst these foods are certainly gluten free, they contain wheat, and some Coeliacs still react. It is also important to mention non-Coeliacs who need to gluten free for health reasons – IBS sufferers, for example.

This is a very grey area, and legally speaking it is still fine to use gluten free versions of usually gluten containing grain. But I wanted to raise this point to try to discourage you and other companies from doing this. You must realise that not everyone who needs gluten free food (whether they are Coeliac, suffer from IBS, Hashimoto’s, Colitis etc.) can eat these grains.

Therefore I ask you to consider this, to discuss it with those in the gluten free community, to test alternatives and to see whether you could use a different ingredient in your gluten free products. I ask whether it would be possible for you to consider that not everyone who is gluten free can eat those grains, even when the gluten is removed, and to work towards making a product that is suitable for all of us.

Yours faithfully,

The Gluten Free Veggie

Coeliac Awareness Week | The Reality of Coeliac Disease

In case you didn’t know, it’s Coeliac Awareness Week this week. Social media becomes awash with mainstream Coeliac Awareness posts about the usual – gluten free food, Coeliac misdiagnosis and eating out. I wanted to portray the day to day life of people living with the disease including the uncensored bad bits. I hope to open the eyes of non-Coeliacs to the challenges faced by those diagnosed with this life long auto-immune disease. These people were kind enough to share their stories so that you can share them with your non-Coeliac friends.

A few years ago I fell ill, I was getting agonising stomach pains, nausea and generally feeling unwell. I went to the doctor and they thought I had appendicitis, so I was taken to hospital but scans showed it wasn’t that so I was discharged. Forward 3 months and I’m still in agony, off work because I couldn’t sit for more than a few minutes, all tests were coming back negative. Another 3 months and I was still in agony but went to see a consultant at the hospital who decided to test for coeliac, which should have been done months before. The nurse with him said to give gluten free a go once my bloods were done that day and I did. I haven’t eaten gluten since that day, just days later the pain was less, nausea had gone and I was feeling better. Three years on I haven’t eaten any gluten intensively and when I’ve been a victim of cross contamination I know almost instantly as the pain reappears. Going gluten free was the best thing I ever did.

In three years I’ve never really had any issues, though one stand out memory was during a trip to Costa, they had a mint choc chip cooler on and I’d checked the ingredients online and it was all safe. I ordered it and started drinking. Then I felt a crunch which tasted suspiciously like cookie instead of chocolate chips. I spat it out but it was too late I’d  already drunk some. I hoped for the best but 10 minutes later I was running for the loo. I contacted them and they confirmed they’d run out of choc chips and replaced with cookie used in a different cooler without telling me. Headquarters gave them additional training and a slap on the wrist as they are not suppose to replace any ingredient without informing the customer. It was a nightmare moment but at least some good cane from it with the training.
~ Alison from Coeliac Sanctuary
My partner and his family think I’m a drama queen and a bit of a spoilt madame! To keep the peace I agreed to go for a meal with his parents at their local Wetherspoon’s. I checked out the menu online and decided there were some things I could eat and they claimed to be allergy aware. I ordered the chicken salad and explained to the waiter I was Coeliac so no croutons etc. – he wrote it down and said he would tell the kitchen. When my food arrived it was covered in croutons and bits of who knows what that looked covered in flour. I quietly said to him, “I cant eat this its covered in croutons and things that will make me ill.” Oh yes, he said, “I did tell them. Best you pick it off yourself if I take it back that’s what they will do”!!! I made him take it away and asked for a plain salad with nothing on it, which he did. And yes you guessed it out came a plain salad covered in croutons! I explained again as civilly as I could that I really can’t eat this I’m a Coeliac it will make me seriously ill. So he took it away and minutes later I was presented with a bowl of lettuce and a tomato. I decided this was as good as it was going to get and ate it. Partner’s Mum asked if I was enjoying my special meal! I couldn’t be rude so grinned and said yes I love lettuce! We don’t go to Wetherspoon’s any more.
~ Belinda
This is an excerpt from this blog post from Gluten Freak Abroad, used with kind permission from the writer.
COELIAC LIFE: the cringe-worthy experiences of a gluten FREAK
– being “the awkward one” at a restaurant: receiving glares from the waiting staff who either a) think you’re being vexatious and want to spit in your food b) have no idea what gluten is so try to offer their own guesstimate on whether the meal will contain gluten (well you can eat potatoes can’t you so it should be fine) c) confirm everything is gluten free to then blow up like a pufferfish an hour later
– declining every invite to a house where food is on offer, as you don’t want to put the chef out, couldn’t possibly take your own food and feel like an absolute fool asking to check the back of packets before you trust to consume anything
having to smile through gritted teeth at the faddy daddies who pride themselves on being “another awkward one” immediately after you have ordered, taking away any gravitas that your request had
– people assuming I’m gluten free for a health kick because I’m slim, so offering up a salad as their only gluten free choice. WHO THE HELL GOES OUT TO EAT A SALAD?
– having to pack at least 7kg of gluten free treats whenever I go abroad, or anywhere for that matter
– being told how awful my life must be and how said person couldn’t possibly give up gluten, one guy even told me ‘I think I’d kill myself if I were you’
– people turning their nose up at gluten free food as if I’m offering them dog biscuits. This is my life FFS sort your face out.
– spending all your time avoiding the above, only to have a gluten attack from an unknown, unidentifiable attacker, and spend all night doubled over in pain, wondering where it all went wrong.

This is an excerpt from this blog post by Gluten Free and Glittery, used with kind permission from the writer.

Beginning my freshman year of college, I was sick after every meal. It started out as just stomach pains and cramping, but progressively got worse. Sure, I was eating a ton of junk food so I blamed it on this. But every couple of months I would end up with “food poisoning”—so bad that I would end up in the ER. How weird, right? How could I keep getting food poisoning especially when I was eating pizza or pasta? Bad luck, right? Well, between the ER visits, I started having chronic diarrhea and cramps after each meal starting at the beginning of my sophomore year. The pains were excruciating and I was constantly bloated. Fall 2011 was filled with constant migraines and extreme fatigue. My neurologist blamed my spike in migraines on being stressed in college and prescribed a higher dose beta blocker.

Fast forward to Christmas 2011, I spent the evening laying by the toilet, dumbfounded by how I could be so sick. I vowed to see a doctor and I did so shortly afterwards. Doctors have to take family history and I understand that—but as soon as I said my family has a history of stomach ulcers and that I went to a high pressure ivy league, the doctor automatically diagnosed me with stomach ulcers. He instructed me to only eat bagels to “soak up the acid” and add some peanut butter to get more protein. I was sent on my way with proton inhibitors and zofran to prevent vomiting/diarrhea.  I tried to stick with this “tummy friendly” diet and spent Spring 2012 as sick as can be. The fatigue and headaches increased as well as major mood swings and a significant drop in weight. My hair was falling out and my teeth were developing black spots, which my dentist blamed on sodas and coffees—neither of which I drank at the time. The amount of time spent in the bathroom far exceeded the amount of time spent eating. My canker sores were blamed on stress. Everything was blamed on stress. Pre-med overachiever? Yup, has to be the stress, right?

Finally, I realized that all I was eating was bread…what does bread contain? Gluten. My friend in college had celiac disease so the notion of celiac disease  popped in my mind.


When I woke up from the colonoscopy, the doctor informed me that the villi in my intestines were completely flattened and she could tell just by looking that I had celiac disease. Yes, my intestines were so damaged that they could be seen by the naked eye.

~ Gluten Free and Glittery



Thank you to everyone who gave their stories for this blog post! If you want to give your story it’s not too late – you can send it via e-mail at to have it included. Let’s help the world understand that there’s more to being Coeliac than just being gluten free.

Coeliac Awareness Week | Interview with Mark Kennett – The Gluten Free Chef


Mark Kennett is the head chef at 100% gluten free restaurant Oscar and Bentley’s in Canterbury, Kent. As well as creating delicious food for the public in Oscar and Bentley’s kitchen, Mark runs a Facebook page and groupThe Gluten Free Chef Gastronomic Rebel. Mark has worked hard to write up his tried and tested gluten free recipes and put them on these pages so that all of the Coeliac community has access to them. His generous supply of scrumptious gluten free recipes has been an inspiration for many newly diagnosed Coeliacs, encouraging them to cook and bake for themselves.

This week is Coeliac Awareness Week in the UK and Coeliac UK have given this year the theme “The Gluten Freevolution” to campaign for better awareness of eating out. This seemed like the perfect time to interview a man who is helping Coeliacs to eat out and in their own kitchens.


What made you want to work in a 100% gluten free restaurant?
I actually got head hunted for the job it found me! I started to question my own abilities as a chef; so how do you actually make bread & cakes with out gluten?! Is it actually possible?! A thirst for knowledge & perseverance with the attitude of “if I don’t know how to make it I will find a way & make it happen! ”

As a trained chef, do you find gluten free cooking more challenging than “normal” cooking?
Not really most food is naturally gluten free so it’s not a problem, but it was challenging in the beginning. I had to do so much research on various gluten free flours, grains & starches – I remember after accepting the job role, months before I even designed Oscar & Bentleys kitchen I was given £60 to play with some gluten free flours & experiment at home, I spent a whole day & night trying to work out how to make gluten free Yorkshire puddings look & taste like “normal”. These days there are so many very good pre-mixed gluten free flour blends in supermarkets that quite often I don’t even have to change/tweak any of my recipes apart swapping normal flour for a pre-blended gluten free flour.

What is your favourite gluten free recipe to make?

At the moment it’s Chocolate, Almond & Chia seed cake with salted Caramel Ganache. It is currently O&B ‘a best selling cake this year!

Why do you think some non-Coeliac chefs struggle to understand the need for allergy/Coeliac safe food? (e.g Prue Leith’s anti-free from rant – replied to here

A lot of chefs simply just don’t know the full extent of how damaging it can be for someone who needs to eat a gluten free diet. There are some that think it hinders their creativity in the kitchen and I’m afraid there are a few who are just plain ignorant.

I don’t think cooking free from food hinders too much, of course it is a lot more difficult to create something totally free from and you will never get the same results, but some things do taste better for e.g. Gluten free beer batter does actually taste better &  stays crisper for longer!

Cooking free from actually opens up all sorts of possibilities & problems, the number of restaurants now offering at least gluten-free if not a wider range of allergen-free meals has been growing rapidly over the year. Of course, the ‘draconian’ regulations that were imposed by the 2014 food information regulations ( ) were not remotely draconian. All they actually required food service outlets to do was to know what was in their food, to know what the 14 major allergens were, and to be able to tell their customers whether any of those 14 allergens were in the foods that they were proposing to serve them. There was, and is, no requirement to actually offer any allergen-free food at all.
I do believe good free from food prepared safely should be mandatory I hear all too often people getting turned away a certain restaurants that can’t cater to there needs or  become ill due to poor training.

Which three of your gluten free recipes do you think anyone could make?

Bread, Fruit Scones, Raspberry Frangipane. [join his group to follow the links!]

The Gluten free bread recipe is tried & tested hundreds of times , not just by me & my kitchen brigade but by several of the free from community who actually gave me a few tips on improving my gluten free bread recipe – it’s more of a thick batter than a traditional bread dough so requires no kneading!

The raspberry frangipane is pretty straight forward once the pastry has been made & rested its contains basic ingredients most homes stock in the cupboard & fridge. As a lot of free from cooking can & does ask for a lot of strange flours that are some times hard to find apart from on the internet that you will only use once or twice before the use by date!

The scone recipe, is and has become the most asked for recipe on how to produce a good gluten free scone. My recipe is very unorthodox way of making scones as the traditional method of ‘the virgin roll’ doesn’t apply to my gluten free recipe it is more like a very thick cake batter, but it produces the lightest, airiest scones. Most people who don’t follow or need a gluten free diet try them can’t believe there gluten free at all! Again I get loads of praise from the free from community how easy & lovely they are to make.

Are there any “normal” foods that you’ve yet to create a gluten free recipe for that you’re itching to make?

Pecan Danish pastry!!!! That’s would make very happy.


Do you think the gluten free fad diet has aided or hindered Coeliac awareness overall?

I think it’s aided it there used to be so many people that never heard of it the media gave it a bad name but more & more people are opening up to the fact it’s not a fad & have a better understanding of it.
Are there any changes you would like to see in chain restaurants? For example, should they offer wider free from range or focus on cross contamination?

Gluten Cross contamination is a big problem a lot of kitchens and bakeries that offer any sort of gluten free goods ( unless there dedicated 100% gluten free ) as they just don’t have the space to have a dedicated area for gluten-free food preparation but education is a step forward in the right direction.

I think low gluten menus are just plain stupid, misinforming & confusing for newly diagnosed Coeliacs. Education is key and the Food Standard Agency need to do more to work with local EHO (environmental health officers) as opposed to relying on charities like Coeliac UK & Allergy UK. Although charities do accreditation it’s hard for small businesses to fund them on a yearly basis.

What is your favourite gluten free flour to work with?

I’m a big fan of chickpea flour, it makes a great substitute for eggs in a egg Free Spanish omelette, I use it to make Pudla an Indian flatbread with ginger, turmeric & coriander paired with My Aubergine chutney & Bengali curry. As for a Brand? Doves farm gluten free self raising flour.

What hopes do you have for Coeliac Awareness in eateries in the future?

Education in the work place, I feel there needs to be more done to educate & help stop cross contamination of gluten with gluten free food

How does it feel to be a celebrity amongst the Coeliac community?

Me a Celebrity? Wow that’s big boots to fill! I feel honoured it’s nice to feel appreciated as working in kitchens is a thankless task.


A big thank you to Mark for agreeing to be a part of this! Don’t forget to check out his Facebook page and Oscar and Bentley’s website!

Coeliac Awareness Week | Coeliacs Who Still Eat Gluten

In the past two and half years since I first went gluten free, I’ve met all kinds of Coeliacs – those who turned their entire household gluten free, those who are completely grain free and avoid processed foods, those who don’t trust anything not labelled gluten free, those who are terrified of cross contamination like me. I used to think that there was no “wrong way” to be a Coeliac. My open minded consideration of all of these different ways of coping with the disease allowed me to see that everyone deals with their diagnosis differently.

Then I spoke to a few people who have dealt with it in potentially the worst way possible: by burying their heads in the sand and continuing to eat gluten.

This is not a witch hunt, nor a shaming or a judgemental rant – this is a blog post reflecting on the fact that we cannot make everyone see the damage they are doing when they don’t go gluten free but also attempting to educate anyone who comes across this post and is still eating gluten.

The most common examples I’ve seen (though there are people who refuse to go gluten free at all) are those who “fall off the wagon” and give in to temptation, or even more worryingly those who take “cheat weeks”. These “cheat weeks” seem to be where a Coeliac books time off from work (allowing themselves to be ill at home) and eats all of the gluten containing foods they miss. Posts such as these on Facebook groups such as Coeliacs in the UK have been inevitably met with a torrid of hate and abuse. This is harsh, but comes from a place of worry and shock. Whilst it’s the individual’s decision, to those of us diagnosed and educated about our condition it seems crazy that anyone would still take the risk of multiple health issues in the future.

To those of you not sure what health risks I mean, the list is long and quite frightening including  small bowel cancer, osteoporosis and malabsorption leading to severe anaemia and B12 deficiencyCoeliacs who do not go gluten free have a small increased risk of bowel cancer:

One of the first studies to suggest a link appeared in American Journal of Medicine(2003); it reviewed statistics from 381 celiac disease patients seen between 1981 and 2000 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Researchers found a higher-than-expected incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer of the small bowel, esophageal cancer and melanoma in this group. B-cell lymphoma and enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma are two types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

This study has been snubbed as the sample size is relatively small and the patients that took the survey may specifically have been coming to the clinic with concerns. However, Coeliac UK points out (in the page linked above) that “[r]esearch suggests that the risk of developing these specific types of cancer decreases with time from diagnosis of coeliac disease to nearly the same as occurs in the general population”. Essentially this means that going gluten free and allowing your gut to heal reduces your risk of these cancers to the same as non-Coeliacs BUT not going gluten free leaves you with a heightened risk.

Osteoporosis seems like another big gamble for those who decide not to go gluten free after diagnosis. Coeliac UK makes it quite clear: “You can help lessen the chances of developing osteoporosis by: following a strict gluten-free diet to make sure you absorb all the nutrients from the food you eat”. The long term effects of osteoporosis are quite shocking and would not be pleasant to live with. The NHS says, “Sometimes a cough or sneeze can cause a rib fracture or the partial collapse of one of the bones of the spine. Osteoporosis isn’t usually painful until a fracture occurs, but spinal fractures are a common cause of long-term (chronic) pain.”

To top it off, the anaemia and B12 deficiency caused by the damaged guts malabsorption of nutrients can cause debilitating symptoms such as constant tiredness, heart palpitations, hair loss, open sores,  muscle weakness, depression and memory issues.

Coeliac UK have worked hard to dispel myths about Coeliac disease and to educate those diagnosed with it. I want to highlight something from this page on their website:

Coeliac myths

Another factor that must be considered is silent Coeliacs. These are Coeliacs who do not have gut symptoms or debilitating short term effects. Silent Coeliacs can often eat gluten without any symptoms at all. There are two worries with this – firstly, that they will not know if they have been glutened (but will still have gut damage), but secondly that they may be more likely to relapse and eat gluten. Several of the silent Coeliacs (who did not want to be featured in this post) that I’ve spoken to have admitted to eating gluten again, as they know it won’t make them immediately ill. It’s easy to forget about the long term effects and think that every now and then it’s okay to have something with gluten in – but hopefully I’ve shown above that even the tiniest amount must be avoided.

Whilst most Coeliacs are working hard to even avoid the tiniest amount of gluten for fear of gut damage, there are still those who find their gluten filled treats too difficult to give up, ignoring the worry of future issues. To those of you still struggling to go gluten free I say this: do not give up. You may find gluten tempting but those the NHS and Coeliac UK are not exaggerating these health risks. Is that KFC, stuffed crust pizza or jam doughnut really worth risking your life for?


Awareness | Why the gluten free fad is so dangerous for Coeliacs

Whilst the gluten free trend has increased product availability to the point where we are able to buy gluten free products in every supermarket and most chain cafes, it has had a terrible effect on Coeliac awareness.

As restaurants fall over themselves trying to make gluten free options for the fad eaters, they often forget that Coeliacs need more than just a no gluten containing ingredients (NGCI) dish to be safe. A few months ago I wrote this article about the effect of cross contamination on Coeliacs. When cross contamination is not an issue for the majority of the gluten free people that the restaurants are trying to cater towards, they can become quite blasé with keeping everything separate.

An example is the Starbuck’s brownie debacle – Starbuck’s offer a gluten free brownie, which you can see in Gluten Free Cuppa Tea’s post here is carelessly left next to the “normal” gluten containing cakes. This isn’t an issue for the trendy fad dieters as it won’t make them ill, but it completely ignores the needs of those with Coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance. It has since been discovered that if you ask them, Starbuck’s has wrapped up brownies  for Coeliacs, but the question is who are they catering for? Why are trendy gluten free dieters being catered for over Coeliacs? Why should we have to ask for them to go to get the wrapped ones?

Other high street restaurants are also guilty of this – Zizzi for example have a “Non-gluten menu”. They are not as careful with cross contamination as some of the other high street restaurants and they are not accredited by Coeliac UK. As the menu points out, they also include things of their “Non-gluten menu” that are fried or boiled in the SAME OIL/WATER AS GLUTEN. This clearly shows that they are more interested in serving those who are gluten free by choice as this is a real risk for those with Coeliac disease. Zizzi have faced a lot of backlash from the Coeliac community because of this but it seems the only changes they’ve made in recent years is point out which dishes are contaminated – is that really a good enough effort?

It’s starting to have a cyclical effect – Coeliacs aren’t catered for, so Coeliacs don’t eat out as often and so restaurants don’t see the need to cater for them. It seems clear to me that there is only one way to combat this – promote Coeliac awareness, and show non-Coeliacs the differences between gluten free faddy eaters and Coeliacs.



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Awareness | 8 ways to annoy a Coeliac

Sometimes non-Coeliacs just don’t realise that their actions can sometimes be eye-rollingly annoying, or even just plain rude! Whilst most of us try to keep a sense of humour, here are a few things that non-Coeliacs do that can really grind my gears.

  1. Compare our symptoms to a minor ailment

“Oh yes I completely understand, I had a stomach ache the other day and it was just awful.” Whilst we understand that you are probably just trying to empathise and put our illness into relatable terms, comparing our lifelong auto-immune disease to that time you felt a bit peaky can really irk us. Especially once you’ve heard it a few dozen times.

2. Tell us about your fad diet

“I’m gluten free too! I want to loose weight/gluten is bad for you/insert other factually incorrect statement about the gluten free diet here.” It is not trendy to be gluten free and we really don’t want to hear about how you think you are in the same boat, especially when you inevitably give it up a few months down the line because it was “too hard/didn’t work/you’re going to try insert other fad diet here instead”. I should make this clear – I do not mean people with genuine gluten intolerances or sensitivities. Whilst these people may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten, unlike Coeliacs who need to be completely gluten free for life, they do suffer and are rarely believed about their condition because it is difficult to diagnose and because of fad diet eaters!

3. Serve us plain salad and fruit and call them meals

Restaurants, I’m looking at you this time. Whilst your friends might struggle to rustle up anything other than a salad for fear of getting it wrong, they are completely forgiven for sheer effort and thoughtfulness. Restaurants on the other hand must try harder – when you’re paying money to a supposedly professional kitchen, you really expect to leave feeling full. The wonderful gluten free b is known amongst the Coeliac community for the hashtag #fruitisnotapudding after receiving fruits salads for pudding. It really is poor effort to offer fruit/crudites/salad as the gluten free option, especially when they could easily offer naturally gluten free things like omelettes or jacket potatoes as a main and meringue or sorbet as a pudding.

4. Call our food disgusting or refuse to try something just because it’s gluten free

Okay, we can slightly understand this one – gluten free bread has a reputation for tasting like cardboard (and honestly, sometimes it does) but if we cook you something gluten free, don’t refuse to try it simply because you have a prejudice against gluten free food. Most gluten free food is just as delicious as “normal” food, and your ignorance is hurting you as much as it is us.

5. Exclude us from events because of our dietary requirement

Whilst it can be really tough to attend meals out or BBQs as a Coeliac, don’t just presume we won’t want to come – ask us first! It can be a really awful feeling when you are told that you weren’t invited to something because of your Coeliac disease. There’s often something we can do – sometimes we can bring our own food or eat beforehand.

6. Tease us with gluten

Shoving a normal cake or pizza under our noses and literally saying “Look, you can’t eat this and it’s delicious” is not only childish but it gets old fast! Whilst I have no issue with people eating gluten around me (why would I? I don’t tend to notice and my friends don’t make a fuss) if you are going to literally push your food in my face and cackle about how nice it is, we’re not destined to be friends (and YES this has happened to me!) We do wish we could eat gluten, but after a while you start to forget about it, so the teasing reminders are just irritating.

7. Eat our food without permission!

Gluten free food can be very expensive, so if we’ve bought a packet of gluten free biscuits, or a pizza, it’s ours, please don’t eat it! This is especially an issue for Coeliac students with shared kitchens. We don’t care if you “just wanted to try them”, go buy your own gluten free food if you are that desperate! Of course, if we offer, that’s a different situation, and a lot of the time we are very keen to get you to try our food (like I said above, we want to dispel the “it’s disgusting” misjudgement) but don’t take it without asking.

8. Act as if you know more about our disease than we do

Chances are, if we’ve been diagnosed for longer than five minutes, we’ve done our research, we’ve spoken to health care professionals, we’ve pretty much memorised Coeliac UK’s website, we’ve bought the cookbooks, read all the blogs. Unless you are a qualified health care professional or Coeliac yourself, it’s unlikely you’re going to know more than us about our own condition. Gibbering about how various pseudo-scientific “miracle” cures can heal Coeliac, telling us that “a bit of gluten won’t hurt us” (oh yes it will, see here if you don’t believe me) or telling us that your nan’s aunt’s cousin’s dog’s sister is Coeliac so you know all about it and it’s not that bad, is really not helpful. You are perpetuating misinformation and rumour which makes our fight against ignorance and stigma that much harder.


Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See Monday’s recipe here.

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Awareness | The fear of cross contamination

I have seen this claim on the internet multiple times and so I decided to check out its validity in order to impress on any non-coeliacs the importance of being aware of cross contamination.

I refuse to believe anything on the internet without conducting some kind of research. You can see from the quote image that I have made, how easy it is to take a “fact” as truth – it looks and sounds legitimate and includes my website in the bottom right to give it more punch. So I conducted some research to find its source.

For those of you who don’t know, cross contamination of gluten is when a gluten free meal becomes contaminated with a gluten containing food, often through using the same utensils for gluten free and gluten containing foods. It’s a big issue in restaurants – the chaotic rush of a commercial kitchen which handles gluten is bound to lead to a stray crumb. Whilst this might seem inconsequential if you’ve never experienced coeliac symptoms, for us it’s a big worry. That one careless crumb can lead to days of agony and sometimes even weeks of recovery.

Just in case you still don’t believe me when I say it can take just a crumb to cause us agony, I tracked down the source of this “1/64 of a teaspoon” claim. Whilst many websites quote it simply claiming it as a “coeliac fact” without crediting a source, it seems to have originated from this article by Lori Rowell MS. RD at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The academic in me was keen to discover whether this is peer-reviewed (which it does seem to be) and given the reputation of this Center in leading research on Coeliac Disease, this is undoubtedly a useful source. This article is a very useful read for anyone who wants to know more about reducing the risk.

So what can be done to protect coeliacs from this hard to detect danger? The first step, to my mind, is awareness for non-coeliacs and food handlers/chefs. That’s partly what I hope to do here.

Another way we can cope with the dangers of cross contamination is by supporting 100% gluten free eateries. A few weeks ago I posted a list of all of the UK‘s 100% GF eateries in an attempt to promote them and to help people find their nearest ones. In these wonderful, often family run places, cross contamination is not an issue.

The last frontier to combat for cross contamination is restaurants that offer “no gluten containing ingredients” food. Whilst Coeliac UK has done a lot of work with their accreditation programme to minimise cross contamination, lots of restaurants still have NGCI menus. For coeliacs, this can be an issue – there is no guarantees with these menus. Eateries need to be aware that no gluten doesn’t necessarily equal gluten free.

Cross contamination will always be a worry for us, but every coeliac can do their part for awareness and progress . Educate the people around you with well informed research and personal anecdotes to help the general populus understand the issues we face on a daily basis.


New recipes every Monday, new blog posts every Friday and Youtube videos twice a month.

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie –

Twitter: @theGFveggie



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