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The Gluten Free Veggie

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Awareness | FODMAP: The Final Free From Frontier?

If you’ve been a Free From-er for more than a year you may have noticed something – availability, range and branding are getting a lot better.

Since I had go gluten free three years ago big brands have started to make Free From items – such as Ben and Jerry’s new non-dairy ice creams. Not only that, but supermarket own brands have grown a huge amount, we’ve seen ready meal ranges introduced, frozen party food, seasonal specials and restaurants are starting to have GF and DF menus. Some Free From brands are even working hard to make their products allergen free, catering for those with soya intolerances, nut allergies and a whole host of other conditions that require food free from allergens.

But something struck me when thinking about this. I was interviewed about 6 months ago for Too Good to be Gluten Free’s Coeliac Spotlight, and when asked “Are there any good GF alternatives you’re yet to find?” I found myself answering “The range of gluten free food is pretty good now, it’s definitely my IBS that restricts what’s available to me rather than being gluten free as companies just aren’t interested in making low FODMAP or allium free foods.”

The more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realised that currently it is actually my IBS that restricts what I can eat, and not my Coeliac Disease, as I first thought. EVERYTHING seems to contain onion or garlic, and even if I think I’m safe with puddings, there is often something like dates or apples that are a risk to those with IBS in gluten free puddings.

As a result of this I buy hardly any pre-made foods, which might be good for my wallet and health, but it certainly makes life difficult. Currently, if I want a quick and easy pre-made meal I can buy Schar’s frozen pizzas (no onion or garlic like most pizzas, wahoo!) and Evexia Thrive’s Tortellonis (again, no onions or garlic!), but there aren’t many other choices!

Unfortunately, alliums are not the only issue for those of us with IBS! There are a whole host of high FODMAP ingredients. The problem with IBS is that not every IBS sufferer reacts to the same ingredients – for example, whilst I am fine with dairy, some find this is a trigger for them. I cannot tolerate beans or pulses, whereas others are find with lentils, chickpeas etc. It is very tricky (if not impossible) for Free From companies to make products that every single person with IBS will be able to eat, and so it seems they simply don’t try, developing products that can be marketed towards other groups.

As with most Free From products, low FODMAP foods can be very expensive compared to their “normal” counterparts. For example, here is a salsa I came across the other day, marketed as “low FODMAP certified”. It works at about £5 a jar for 473ml. It contains the usual salsa ingredients, minus onions and garlic. For the same amount of this “normal” salsa, you’d only pay £3.40. With some Free From products, we can understand a slight rise in price – the ingredients are more expensive. But for this, it’s far cheaper to make it yourself.

So is this the final Free From frontier? With the range and availability of most Free From foods becoming better than ever, should those of us with IBS be pushing for more products for us? Lots of pre-made gluten free foods would be safe for those of us with IBS if they took out the onion or garlic – is this something we’re likely to see happening, such as this ready meal gluten free macaroni cheese by M and S?

How about other dietary restrictions – do you have a dietary restriction that you think is even less catered for than low FODMAP? Let’s help Free From brands by showing them what’s still left to be done!

 

Featured Image credit to The Great Courses Daily.

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

Social Media:

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

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E-mail your questions or suggestions to: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

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Calling All Writers And Cooks!

Calling all writers and cooks! The Gluten Free Veggie is looking for a contributing author!
* Please note this is an unpaid position – I do not currently earn any money from my blog *
As some of you may know I am a postgraduate student and have a job as well as other responsibilities. I post twice a week on the blog and manage all of the social media accounts and behind the scenes running of a blog. I also create all of the content myself which means recipe testing, photography etc. This can take up a lot of time and so I’m looking for someone to write one blog post a month. My hope is this will add another facet to the blog whilst also freeing up a bit of my time.
Applicants will be interviewed over e-mail and will be asked to provide a sample piece and photographs. The successful applicant will be a competent writer and have the creativity necessary to think of new and engaging content each month! You must be able to adhere to the deadlines given and be organised enough to think ahead for future posts. Failure to meet deadlines will not be tolerated – I have worked hard to keep up the two posts a week so that my readership are aware of what to expect.
I will still be responsible for proof reading and uploading to the blog but there is a certain amount of freedom in terms of style and content.
All recipes MUST be gluten free AND vegetarian. This blog was created to fill that niche and appeal to individuals who are gluten free and vegetarian and so I will not compromise on this detail.
So what’s in it for you? The chance to show off your writing talent or cooking talen on a public platform without the hassle and stress of organising and running a blog. You also have the added bonus of writing for a blog that is established and has been building regular readers and followers for the past two years. Working to deadlines, sculpting your own blog posts and being creative are all transferable skills and I am happy for the successful applicant to add this to their CV. This would be ideal for a sixth former or university student with an interest in journalism (although, of course, this is open to anyone who is willing to commit!)
Whilst I can’t offer any pay you would have a chance to write for an online blog with a Facebook following of 650 people (which grows daily!) as well as hundreds of followers on other platforms such as WordPress, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. We currently get around 100 views a day, with spikes of 700 on good days. With some more work I’m hoping to monetise The Gluten Free Veggie (but we’re a while off of that yet).
There is no limit to how long I will look for someone. I want to find someone who is right for the blog and will suit its style and I am in no rush.
Please e-mail glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com if you are interested and please share this post!

Youtube | What I Ate in a Day Ep. 4

This time we went to gluten free cafe Nibsy’s and I raided the cupboards to make dinner.

Click below to watch!

What I Ate in a Day 4 cover

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

Social Media:

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

Tumblr: glutenfreeveggie.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theGFveggie

E-mail your questions or suggestions to: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

 

Recipe (GF, Ve) | Allium Free Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms are my favourite vegetable – on pasta, pizza, in risotto, in omelettes, I’ll eat them in just about any dinner! This is my favourite soup recipe, vegan, allium free, gluten free and full of flavour. If you don’t like mushrooms try my Butternut Squash soup or my Red Pepper and basil soup!

This only takes 20 minutes and is really easy. Try to make sure you use plenty of herbs to really pack all the flavour in! The nutmeg is vital to the taste, but you can sub for smoked paprika if you want a spicy kick without using nutmeg, which is very mild.

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Ingredients:

6 large chestnut mushrooms

1 large potato

Grated nutmeg to taste

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of dried sage

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

Salt and black pepper

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Method:

  1. Peel the potatoes and rub the mud off of the mushrooms. Do not peel the mushrooms as the skin and stalk contain all the flavour. Roughly chop and add both to a saucepan with olive oil.
  2. Cook until the mushrooms colour.
  3. Add boiling water (I use the kettle) – just enough to cover the mushrooms and potatoes. Add the lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
  4. Once cooked and reduced to the desired consistency, remove from the heat and carefully pour the contents into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  5. Add to a bowl, top with a swirl of cream if desired (or a vegan alternative).

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

Social Media:

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

Tumblr: glutenfreeveggie.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theGFveggie

E-mail your questions or suggestions to: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

 

 

 

Recipe (GF, V) | Easy Buffet Food for Christmas

As many of you who are gluten free and vegetarian will know, family gatherings or Christmas parties can be a minefield of gluten filled treats and the potential for cross contamination. I always make my own food for such occasions. I know that Christmas is a busy time and so these ideas are quick and easy to make as well as being delicious! I hope you will find some inspiration for your own parties this Christmas and New Year.

Filled Pastry Cases

To my delight, Tesco recently came out with these gluten free pastry cases, already cooked and ready to go. They have a long shelf life and are suitable for savoury and sweet fillings. Here are two savoury ideas for your Christmas feasts!

Mushroom, Rosemary and Walnut Pate filling

Ingredients:

3 mushrooms

A handful of walnuts

Rosemary (preferably fresh). Remember to keep some for the garnish.

Gluten free bread

Vegetable stock or water

 

Method:

  1. Cook the mushrooms and walnuts in a frying pan with the rosemary. Remove the rosemary after cooking if desired.
  2. Add the cooked mushrooms and walnuts to a food processor with 1 slice of gluten free bread ripped into four. Add a small glug of vegetable stock or water. Add the nutmeg and some salt and pepper.
  3. Blitz until smooth (add more liquid if needed but be careful not to make it too wet!).
  4. Place into the pastry cases and top with a sprig of fresh rosemary for decoration.

Spinach, cheddar and pine nut filling

Ingredients:

Fresh spinach

Grated cheddar

A handful of pine nuts

Grated nutmeg

Paprika

 

Method:

  1. Wilt the spinach in a frying pan with the nutmeg and spices.Remove and squeeze out the liquid.
  2. Add the pine nuts to the pan and gently toast. Be careful not to burn (they go from brown to completely burnt in a matter of seconds so keep your eyes on them!)
  3. Mix the spinach and cheddar in a bowl and add to the pastry cases. Top with a couple of pine nuts in each.

 

Allium Free Potato Salad

A traditional potato salad includes a few things that I can’t eat due to IBS (onions and chives) so this is my version!

Ingredients:

4 medium sized potatoes

Mayonnaise

Paprika

 

Method:

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes. Boil for 15-20 mins or until soft.
  2. Allow to cool in a bowl for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Add the mayonnaise and paprika (and salt and pepper if desired) and stir. Best served chilled!

Dips and an assortment of dippers

Ingredients:

1 red and 1 orange pepper cut into strips

1 carrot cut into strips

1 bag of Schar gluten free pretzels

Tyrell’s or Kettle Chips (always check the ingredients)

Gluten free cheese straws (either Mrs. Crimbles or these ones that I found in Tesco!)

1 pot of soured cream

Allium free salsa (see my recipe here)

 

Method:

  1. Cut the vegetables and assemble on a platter or into bowls.
  2. Place the dips into bowls (add herbs or spices to the soured cream if you would like).

 

Caprese Sticks

Ingredients:

Mozzarella

Mini plum tomatoes

Fresh basil leaves

 

Method:

  1. Chop the mozzarella into cubes.
  2. Chop the tomatoes in half.
  3. Arrange the mozzarella, tomatoes and basil leaves onto cocktail sticks.

 

Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers

Ingredients:

Halloumi cheese, cubed

1 small courgette, sliced into bitesize chunks

3 mushrooms, quartered

1 red peppers, sliced into bitesize chunks

Small plum tomatoes

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Method:

  1. Prepare the vegetables and arrange onto long skewers
  2. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning half way.

 

Gluten free Cous Cous salad

Ingredients:

Gluten free Cous Cous

1 beetroot, grated

Fresh mint leaves, chopped

Feta, cubed

Vegetable stock or boiling water

 

Method:

  1. Follow the packet instructions to cook the cous cous. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the beetroot, chopped fresh mint and feta and stir.

 

Cashew and Mushroom Burgers

Something a bit more filling for the buffet! These burgers are not only delicious but also suitable for dairy free people and vegans! Serve by themselves or in a bun if preferred! See my recipe here.

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Pizza Slices

Ingredients:

Schar pizza base

Passata

Dried oregano, basil and thyme

Grated cheddar

Fresh mozzarella

 

Method:

  1. Layer the passata and herb mix on the pizza base. Top with the cheese.
  2. Allow to cool and then cut into individual slices.

 

I hope that a few of these ideas are useful! There are lots of gluten free party options available from Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s if you are able to eat alliums. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Suggestions needed!

What would you like to see more of on my blog?

Sweet foods? More vegan/dairy free recipes? Recipes that cater to other dietary requirements?

Is there a specific herb or seasoning you’d like to see used in my recipes?

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Would you like to see more product reviews? More advice for going gluten free or vegetarian?

I’d like to hear what you like best, and – opening myself up to your constructive criticisms – what you don’t like as much.

There are lots of ways to get in contact, so don’t hesitate!

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

Tumblr: glutenfreeveggie.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theGFveggie

E-mail: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

 

Coming Soon | Thrifty Food

As a student, I know that food budgeting can be tricky. Add gluten intolerance/CD, vegetarianism and IBS into the mix and food prices start to rise!

But, by using vegetables, dairy and a cupboard staples, dietary requirements don’t have to cripple you financially.

I’m going to be producing a series of recipes keeping cost as low as possible without sacrificing on taste or nutrition. All recipes will be gluten free and vegetarian, as always!

I would like this series to be useful to everyone, not just students. I will also try to include as many dairy free or vegan options as I can.

They will all be headered as “Thrifty Food” and will also be categorised as such.

If you have any suggestions or requests for recipes feel free to drop me a message.

Posts coming up this month

Sorry that I haven’t posted much recently, but my essays are taking up all my time. I’m starting to feel quite festive so I’ve been planning a few posts!

These are hopefully scheduled to appear before Christmas:

Recipe (GF, V) | Christmas Biscuits

Recipe (GF, V) | Christmas Cake

Eating Out | List of the UK’s 100% Gluten Free Eateries

Recipe (GF, V) | Christmas Nut Roast

 

As always, I’m open to suggestions so if there is something you’d like to request – just ask and I’ll see what I can do!

 

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