This week I have spent much more time eating and making baked products than ever before. I don’t think I will want any cake for a week or two. I have been so full of baked products I have not eaten as much fruit and veg as I normally do. This seems ironic as I am trying to be healthier, but this is not a normal week, usually I would bake once a week. At the moment I am not working much as i am enjoying taking the summer off to recuperate from my heart problems. Experimenting and reading about food has been a daily activity, but I wont always have this much time. I decided therefore to pay a visit to the supermarket to see how easy it is to do a gluten-free shop and try some more store bought products.
Firstly, after hearing that ice cream and chocolate are not gluten free, I decided to find out why. It turns out that even if wheat is not used as an ingredient in a product, it does not mean it is certified gluten free. I spent over an hour in the supermarket reading labels on all kinds of foods and found that most are not labelled as gluten free – it’s not just ice cream and chocolate.
This is a bit like the nut allergy problem, practically every processed food warns that it may contain nuts because it is manufactured in a factory where nuts are sometimes used. For me this is not a problem as I am not gluten intolerant (thankfully). Some brands of ice cream and many other foods also use wheat products as thickening agents. These come under a variety of names and I have decided I am not going to avoid these either. There is lots of information online if you want to find out more about these things.
Lots of coeliacs have written excellent blogs about their dietary experiences and there are also excellent websites from organisations such as Coeliac Uk. I am doing this as an experiment to see if I can lower my intake of wheat to once or twice a week and still eat tasty snacks and meals. I basically want to avoid clogging up my digestive system and feel that thickeners and ingredients like that are not the problem for me.
Mainly my visit to the supermarket made me extremely grateful that I am not gluten intolerant and I really sympathise with people who are. It also reminded me that industrial food methods are pretty disgusting. Reading labels of processed foods is frankly scary. I also saw this list of the most disgusting food additives the other day, a great reminder that it is really best to make our own food whenever we can.
Today I ate the following delicious gluten free food:
Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes with maple syrup & fruit with a cup of tea.
I generally do not have much of an appetite first thing in the morning, however after not really eating dinner I woke up really hungry. I knew what I was going to make straight away as I saw the recipe for these pancakes a few days ago and thought they would be the first gluten free pancakes I would eat. This is because the recipe said they taste like cookies, what more can you ask from a pancake?
They are from the same blog as the oat bars I made yesterday and I have to say Yammie’s Glutenfreedom is two for two. These pancakes are delicious and yes they do taste a lot like an oaty biscuit. The flour is replaced with oat flour and I thought this might make the texture heavy but it doesn’t. By the way, I have never bought oat flour I just blitz some oats to a fine powder in the blender. The recipe is simple and it takes only a few minutes to make the batter. Yammie’s Glutenfreedom has a bunch of other recipes I intend to try out someday, they are clearly written and have lovely photos so I highly recommend them.
They are as good as they look and I would be happy to eat these instead of regular pancakes all the time. They went really well with fruit and maple syrup and I don’t see why they wouldn’t be great with all the things you would normally eat on this type of pancake. Becky (the other glutton) is fairly new to American style pancakes and can’t imagine why people eat them with bacon, banana and maple syrup, but I love it. I hope she is going to try this recipe to see how they compare to hers.
Gluten Free biscuits and a cup of tea.
I was still pretty satisfied from the pancakes so didn’t eat much. I had a trip to the supermarket today to check out labelling of GF foods and bought some gluten free biscuits to see what they are like. English people generally love biscuits and I am no exception.
Everyone knows we drink lots of tea, but it is not so well known that we eat tons of biscuits with them. In any English supermarket there will be one aisle dedicated solely to biscuits. I have never counted how many varieties there are but there must be at least fifty.
I miss biscuits when living abroad and have developed a terrible habit since I came home, one of the reasons for my expanding waistline no doubt! My favourites are Digestives, Hobnobs, Ginger Snaps and those burnt sugar ones they give you in cafes with coffee (I forget the name). I realised that I am not going to bake biscuits all the time – and many people do not have time to bake them at all – so I thought I would try the supermarket offerings.
The verdict? They were ok, just ok. The ginger snaps did not taste of ginger and the digestives did not taste like digestives. If I didn’t know it was meant to be a digestive I would have enjoyed it more, but it didn’t really taste like the real thing. It was crunchy, but not that tasty and had a terribly short dunking time. More than a rapid in and out and it would be polluting the bottom of your tea. For me this is the cardinal sin in a biscuit.
The ginger snaps had a great texture, were pretty dunkable but did not taste of ginger. They were seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and tasted more like a sort of Christmas cookie than anything. They would not satisfy me as a substitute for the real thing. I will try some more store bought biscuits as they were not bad but I am sure I could make a better ginger snap at home.
Thai green curry with chicken served with rice.
When I was discussing dinner with mum she mentioned that she would really like green curry. She never makes requests and is happy to eat whatever experiments and dishes I offer up so I thought I should make what she wanted. I have written about green curry on the blog before so I am not going to say much here other than Asian food is a great option when you are avoiding gluten. Wheat products are hardly eaten (with the exception of India) so you can easily find recipes which do not need any adaptation.
Gluten free banana bread
I really love banana bread for two reasons, it tastes amazing and you have a use for old bananas so they never go to waste. I figured it would make a good gluten free cake and it does. I used a recipe from Laura Vitale which you can see her make here. I even bought dates, not something I normally eat but I wanted to follow the whole recipe. It turned out pretty well, although it is a bit heavy at the bottom. I fear this may be due to my greed, I cut it before it had cooled. Many recipes state that it is even more important with gluten free bread and cakes to leave it to cool completely before cutting, as they are still forming their structure. Oh well, I don’t care it is yummy.
It uses oat flour again, this seems to be a popular alternative to wheat flour, but there is often confusion about whether oats are gluten free as you can buy certified gluten free ones. They do not actually contain gluten, rather a similar protein called avenin. They do however get contaminated when processing and so coeliacs need to buy the certified ones. I think oat flour makes a great alternative to wheat as it gives a nutty flavour and is lighter in texture than you might think. I loved it in the pancakes and in this banana bread too.
Tomorrow is the last day of my diary and I am planning to try some flatbreads and to adapt another of my recipes. This has been a really interesting process for me and I feel better already. I have more energy after I eat and have not felt bloated even after a large meal (actually the day we ate the crumble I was pretty full!). I think I will do one more post after tomorrow with a general summary of the things I have learned, some recipes and a list of websites which I have found helpful.