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Awareness | The 7 Family Members Coeliacs Interact With At Christmas

Yes it’s the 1st of December today! We can officially start thinking about the big day. For Coeliacs, a lot of the planning will be about what to eat, how to avoid cross contamination and making sure you enjoy your day just as much as the non-Coeliacs. But whenever there is a family occasion you will inevitably deal with family members commenting on your diet – some helpful, some not.

 

The Understanding Uncle – I hope you all have one of these. This family member gets it – perhaps they know someone else with dietary requirements, perhaps they deal with their own intolerance/disease/IBS and they know exactly how to help you avoid cross contamination. They give you a knowing look as you unpack your tupperware of gluten free goodies and help you to avoid any gluten in the shared dishes.

The Clueless Family Member – As much as you explain it there will always be one family member who just doesn’t get it. “What is it you can’t eat again – cheese?” they’ll say as you tuck into your homemade bits and pieces. “Would you like some brussel sprouts? Or can you not eat those?” they’ll say, a perplexed look on their faces. These family members aren’t being malicious – perhaps they’re from an older generation where awareness wasn’t as good, or perhaps they just forget, but either way they’re not trying to annoy you. Just calmly keep explaining and hope that one day they’ll understand what gluten free means.

The Gift Giver – This family member has remembered you are gluten free and has gone to a lot of trouble to find something for you. For example, one of my aunties buys Schar’s gluten free pretzels for me whenever we have a family occasion. These types of family members are trying their best to show you that they get it and want to help! I hope you all have someone in your family who thinks of you at Christmas meals!

The Curious Cousin – This family member will be constantly looking at your food and wanting to try some. “Oh is that your gluten free XYZ? Can I try some?” they’ll say as they grab a bit of gluten free pizza from the Boxing Day buffet. This family member is not being malicious either – in their own way they are trying to be understanding and want to see what your food is like. This is an opportunity for you to show non-Coeliacs that gluten free does not have to mean taste free! If you can, it doesn’t hurt to encourage them to try things you’ve made!

The Teaser – There is always one family member who thinks it is hilarious that you have to eat gluten free. They will make jokes about gluten free food being bland, tease you by trying to offer you gluten or simply make fun of your food. These people are often not trying to be mean – they are probably just unsure how to approach your dietary issues and attempt to joke around instead of showing their lack of knowledge. Go with it so long as they’re not too rude!

The Denier – This family member still refuses to believe you about your illness. “You’re not going to have Christmas pudding?” they’ll say, probably adding something like “I heard gluten free was just a fad anyway.” If you’re unlucky enough to have someone like this in your family (I luckily do not!), just bite your lip and ignore them!

The Other Coeliac – As it’s a hereditary disease, you might have another Coeliac family member. You can give each other sympathy looks across the table as The Denier and The Teaser get on your nerves and you can share your gluten free Christmas goodies with someone!

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s post here.

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Awareness | Coeliac Disease and Mental Health

*DISCLAIMER* I am not a health care professional, this post’s content is from my own experiences and research. Please seek medical advice if you are struggling with your mental health and/or Coeliac Disease. There is no shame in asking for help.

Earlier this week was World Mental Health Day and as well as thinking about those who struggle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, it got me thinking about how Coeliac Disease can negatively impact your mental health.

“Depression and related mood disorders are reported to be associated with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. One study found that major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and adjustment disorders were more common in a group of CD patients compared to controls” – Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity by Jessica R. JacksonWilliam W. EatonNicola G. CascellaAlessio Fasano, and Deanna L. Kelly  in The Psychiatric quarterly 83.1 (2012): 91–102. PMC.

 

“Anxiety, depression and fatigue are common complaints in patients with untreated celiac disease and contribute to lower quality of life. While aspects of these conditions may improve within a few months after starting a gluten-free diet, some patients continue to suffer from significant psychological morbidity. Psychological symptoms may affect the quality of life and the dietary adherence.” – Psychological morbidity of celiac disease: A review of the literature by  Julio C Bai in United European Gastroenterology Journal  (Nov, 2014)

Several studies have shown an increased rate of depression in those with Coeliac Disease, which is often but not always alleviated by beginning a gluten free diet (see the linked articles above for more information on the studies).

Nobody seems exactly sure why the two are linked, but some have suggested that the malnutrition suffered during the illness plays a part. Others see the shock of the diagnosis and the lifestyle changes it brings to be the main catalyst.

The change that comes with Coeliac Disease can be difficult to adjust to – it effects your entire life. You can’t eat out at your favourite spots anymore, family meals can be hard to organise, your favourite snacks are no longer safe, your favourite comfort foods are off the menu. On top of all of that you have to worry about cross contamination and the continuous stigma from non-Free From-ers.

It can be hard to overcome those initial feelings that your life is worse, and whilst we all have moments of feeling left out, wishing we could eat certain foods, it does get better. You get used to the food, find new favourites and find places that you can eat near you.

Most importantly you need to find a community of people who are in the same situation. Facebook is a wonderful resource for this (Facebook groups such as Gluten Free and Me, Coeliacs in the UK, Gluten Free UK etc.) but you can also join Coeliac UK and find people through them.

Finally, if you are really struggling to push past the initial shock, you may find talking to a professional is helpful. The NHS offers help as well as charities.

 

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

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Awareness | 5 Unexpected Consequences of Coeliac Disease

When you’re first diagnosed all you can think about is getting better. Here are a few ways this disease might impact your life that you may not have realised.

 

Food trust issues – Once you’ve experienced the dangers of cross contamination, how ill it can make you and how common it can be in unaware eateries, letting someone else, even family members, cook or prepare your food can be stressful. It’s hard to trust anyone not to make you ill when you think about how little you knew about cross contamination before you were diagnosed. This feeling mellows over time, but the key is to educate those close to you as much as possible. You might be surprised how willing they are to help.

Secondary illnesses – Whilst not everyone develops another illness after Coeliac diagnosis, it is unfortunately quite common to develop other autoimmune conditions or IBS. Lactose or dairy intolerances can also be linked to Coeliac, due to the gut damage caused by the ingestion of gluten.

Stigma – Non-Coeliacs sometimes have a hard time believing that you have a lifelong disease, especially as the symptoms are invisible. You might find yourself fielding comments like “it’s all in your head”, “you don’t look ill” and “oh doesn’t everyone get bloated after eating?”. The stigma can only be fought with awareness – non-Coeliacs often don’t mean to be rude, they just don’t understand.

Weight gain – This is not the case for every Coeliac, but the combination of your gut healing and the higher quantity of fat in some gluten free products means that you may find yourself gaining weight. Whilst this may initially be a good thing if the illness left you underweight (I lost more than a stone in just two months when I was first ill!), sticking to naturally gluten free foods instead of ready meals is a good way to ensure you don’t consume more fat and sugar than you should be.

Stretched budget – When you’re first diagnosed you’ll be so relieved to find bread, pasta and pizza that you can actually eat, so you might not notice the price difference! Having to eat gluten free might dramatically effect your shopping bill. Sticking to naturally gluten free foods will help keep your shopping bill down.

 

 

 

Awareness | 9 foods that you wouldn’t expect to contain gluten but do

When you are first diagnosed trying to figure out which foods contain gluten can be a real nightmare. Your mind races as you look through the ingredients of every single item wondering “what the hell is gluten anyway???”

Soy sauce. Most soy sauces contain gluten because wheat flour is used a thickener. But don’t worry, the gluten free version is not too difficult to come by – it’s called Tamari and can be found in most Free From sections.

Pre-made soups. This very much depends on the brand but you have to be very careful with soup – they often use wheat flour to thicken them as it’s cheap. Lots of soups are gluten free, including some of Heinz. Watch out for supermarket own brand or cheaper brands as they often sneak wheat in!

Corn Tortillas. You would think, given the name, that these would be a safe bet. Whilst corn tortillas are made predominantly with corn flour, as you would expect, they do also use wheat flour in their ingredients! For example Old El Paso:

old el paso

Cornflakes. Just like the tortillas, the word “corn” is deceptive – cornflakes often do contain gluten. Big brands use Barley Malt Flavouring as a sweetener, see Kellogg’s here. However, you can now buy gluten free cornflakes, just make sure you read the packet to get right kind!

Meat Substitutes. Quorn and other brands have only recently branched out into gluten free products. However, all of their products contain barley. Read more here.

Yeast Extract. Marmite is not gluten free – they use barley. And whilst some people argue that it’s a tiny amount and should not affect Coeliacs, it is worth noting that you can get completely gluten free versions for a fraction of the cost. ASDA’s version for example.

Gravy. Most gravy is thickened with wheat flour and therefore not gluten free.

Dry roasted nuts. Whilst nuts themselves are naturally gluten free, dry roasted flavours often contain wheat flour to give them that addictive taste.

Couscous. Made from wheat, couscous is definitely not gluten free, but because little is known about it’s production, people usually presume it is a completely different food stuff all together. You can get gluten free couscous made from maize.

 

Are there any you’ve discovered that you’d add to the list? Have you ever been caught out by these foods?

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

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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?

Quorn

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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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

 

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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 glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com 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.

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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 (https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/food-allergen-labelling-technical-guidance.pdf ) 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.
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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.

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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.

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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!

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