Sunday, 26 January 2014

Free? No, you have to pay!

I really should start writing these little one liners down in a book. The life of a GF foodie is never dull and boy do you meet some funny restaurant staff along the way! Please let me explain about what led to this weeks one liner of the week!

In my previous Gluten Munching life when Dale and I were in the early days of our romance we used to regularly chow down in the Peri Peri Paradise that is Nando's (yep, we knew how to have a good time!). Sadly, after I started to feel I was turning into a lemon and herb chicken the novelty soon wore off and we hadn't been for ages! Until this week.....

I had already researched GF options online so felt I was pretty clued up as they seem to offer quite a lot of choice. So, Dale and I turned up and I asked to see the allergy information. The smiley waitress said if I chose what I wanted, they could check if it was GF when I ordered at the til. Errrrr......hang on a I missing something?! How can I pick what I want until I know what I can have?! Anyway, rather reluctantly (and slightly less smiley!) she produced the Nando's Allergy Bible

Rather daunting at first as it slightly resembles someone's end of term dissertation! However, it is surprisingly easy to navigate your way through. I made my decision and asked Dale to specify that mine was to be GF (just as the book states!). Dale returned a little later mildly amused (and slightly irritated) as the poor server on the till who either got the wrong end of the stick or could not work out Dale's Welsh accent!! Apparently as Dale emphasised the importance of my GF food the server replied with today's classic quote..... "Free? No, you have to pay for it!" Lol, you gotta laugh eh?!

Anyway, I ended up with a very nice half a lemon and herb chicken with sweet poatao mash...

Looks a little like a car crash on my plate but it was very tasty! So, thank you Nando's for the GF options and thank you also for the free entertainment! 

Sooooo it seems I have taken on a new hobby.... Tesco crawling (ie going from one Tesco to another on the hunt for sought after GF stuff!) I finally managed to track down the new Newburn Bakehouse Sandwich Thins but have been unsuccessful in tracing any of the other new kids on the block in this range! Nevertheless, I'm super impressed with he thins! In true Masterchef styleeee let me introduce "Sandwich Thins 3 Ways"!

As cheese on toast. Toasted well, good consistency and tasted great!

As a sandwich. Held together really, really well! Was super impressed as I made the sandwich the night before to take to work. Fully expected it to have fallen apart or turned to soggy mush... but no! All good!

Toast and Jam for breakfast. Yep, still eating up that homemade jam that Dale lovingly made before Christmas!

Ok, now you may be wondering why it's "Sandwich Thins 3 Ways" when there are actually 4 in a packet. Sadly, by the time I reached day 4 the last ones had gone mouldy! I guess there is a lesson to be learnt here.....freeze the sandwich thins on day 1 and use as needed. quicker?!?!!

Anyway, I am impressed and will definitely be buying again. Can't wait to track down the orange flavour as well as the new cracker thins... I will continue the search! Come on Tesco....if you've sold out, they've gotta be popular yeah?! So please buy in more!!!

Ok, I will end with some good news and some bad news...let's start with the bad! In my Tesco Crawl I have also been trying to track down Udi's bagels. After several tweets it seems no Tesco near me stocks them anymore! Waaaaaaaahhhhhh! Disaster.....we all know how I feel about a bagel! Come on Tesco, what's going on!? Also, why do all new GF products seem to launch in Tesco, why not give another supermarket a whirl?! Sainsburys would suit me down to the ground!

Anyway, good news time. I've just booked my place at the totally GF evening at The Brookmans in Hertforshire! I am rather "over the top excited" about this event and just needed to share it with you! Any readers in the Herts area have a look! I think events like this should be celebrated and I hope it's well attended. It's not 'til the end of Feb but I can't wait to blog about it! I'll keep you posted!

Have a great week everyone and if anyone sees any bagels......please let me know! Xx

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Gone But Not Forgotten

I've been so caught up in blogging about all the lovely Christmas food I've eaten over the last few weeks that it completely escaped my mind to mention a fab little restaurant I visited in early December. Our visit may have "gone" now but the meal was so delicious it certainly hasn't been "forgotten"! So I shall make amends now, as small local restaurants and retailers that cater for the GF diet always deserve a big shout out!! The only trouble is this little gem is not that local to me!

So, at the beginning of December Dale and I packed our umbrella's, macs, galloshes and wellies as we headed to the green, green grass of Dale's homeland. (South Wales, just incense you didn't guess from the clues!!). We decided to visit a little Italian restaurant that we used to frequent in my pre GF days called La Trattoria in Talbort Green. We phoned prior to our visit, explained my dietary needs and were reassured there would be things on the menu I could order and they even said that gluten free pasta would be an option! So here's what I had....

Porchetta with a side of mixed veg. I explained the whole wheat and gluten scenario to the waiter and they were able to adapt this dish so it was suitable (the regular sauce would be thickened with flour). The food was excellent and the staff were helpful and understanding. So, if you find yourself venturing along the M4 and you fancy a tasty Italian (I'm still talking about food here just incase you're wondering!!) then you can't go wrong with La Trattoria They also run an excellent cookery school which Dale raves about....maybe I should attend?!

In a bid to inhibit the January munchies (ok, ok, I know....who am I kidding, I have "all year round" munchies!!) I have been looking for healthier, lower fat alternatives to chocolate and cake! Now, before you all pass out with shock please let me explain....there is ALWAYS room for cake and chocolate but when I discovered I was reaching for the nibbles on a daily basis I realised something had to be done. Not nibbling is NOT an option sooooo I had to look for alternatives. What do you think to these?

Baked chickpeas with mild chilli powder and paprika! Now I reckon you're probably pulling the same face my Mum and my lovely friend at work pulled when they saw me eating them! I may as well have said I was tucking into baked budgie or grilled goldfish as they stood aghast watching me munch away. But hey, give them a chance. I can't eat nuts so these are a great little snack and solved my 4.00pm munchies attack after the kids have gone home without me reaching for the chocolate tin! Result!!!

For anyone who is interested here's what you do....
1. Drain and dry a tin of chickpeas.
2. Sprinkle with your chosen spices.
3. Bake at 220 degrees for 20 mins.
4. Leave to cool.
5. Re bake for another 15 mins until crisp and crunchy!

Go on, have a go!! 

Friday was pizza night in the Price household. Thought we'd give the Glutafin pizza bases that I used to receive on prescription another's been a while since we had a go and here's the result...

Sainsbury's own brand pizza sauce with Mediterranean veg and sweetcorn! An eclectic veg mix you may say but I enjoyed it! The pizza was ok. I had to swap my knife for a steak knife to help me get through it but it still required a large amount of sawing and arm ache (although I appreciate my pizza may be a little on the well done side). It tasted ok, a little chalky but passable. Think I may need to do a little more investigating in the GF pizza base line......hmmmm think I'll look forward to that research!!

Well, for those of you who think I've taken leave of my senses and had my sweet tooth extracted here's a little somethimg to end with. Just cos no week would be complete without a little sweetness I've been having a cheeky little nibble on these....

Jelly Belly (what I'll get if I keep nibbling!!) beans! Mmmmmm, only need a few to get that sweet fix AND a big wooohooooo for clear GF labelling!! Think other companies could definitely learn from this don'tcha think?!

Well, I'm off to bake some chickpeas......stop looking like that...they're fab....honest!!! Have a great week everyone! X

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A Whole New (Ilumi) World

As you all know, I do like a little sing song so please feel free to continue reading while humming the title of this weeks post! I like to add a little atmosphere!!

Soooooo I was thrilled to discover my favourite GF "ready meal" brand, the one and only Ilumi had launched a new dinner. Unable to wait, I made the most of their "two for a fiver" offer and quickly ordered the new Chicken Za'atar. I was unaware that only a day later I would be lucky enough to win a packet of the new dish anyway! However, it's a good job I stocked up because it's every bit as lovely as I had hoped!

Ok, I give you that it is not the prettiest dish of food you have ever seen in your life and that is largely due to my poor presentation skills! Let's face it, I'm never going to make Masterchef! However, looks aside, it tastes delicious and definitely lives up to the quality of the other dishes on their menu. Dale even came sniffing round wondering what I was eating muttering something about it smelling good! Don't be fooled though......I was all set to do my "ping ping" Tilda rice to accompany this until I noticed it states on the packet that it is a "complete meal"! There is brown rice disguised in the dish so adding my Tilda packet would have just paved the way to a full on bloatastic evening! No extra rice is needed! Well done Ilumi ( another great dish and I can't wait to see what you have in store for "New Meal Monday" this week! Woohoooo!

I have a little GF guilty pleasure that I would like to share with you all....nothing pleases me more than when a regular "gluten eater" gets a little delight out eating some of my "special needs" gluten free food!! Ha ha ha ha being GF ain't so bad after all is it hee hee hee. Please read on for two  examples of "Gluten Eaters" getting down with GF kids......

Example One

Received a text from a friend of mine this week who has been reading my blog. Liked the look of the Ilumi food so much she has ordered herself some of their soup to take to work!! Woop woop!! Woop woop!!!

Example Two

Udi's muffins come in a pack of two (as mentioned in previous posts) - one toffee flavour and one choc chip flavour.

 As an act of real true love I offered to share my two pack with Dale. Toffee for me, choc chip for him. I'm already a convert but think I may need to hide my other 2 pack as Dale has joined the Udi's crew!! Polished it off a treat and commented that you would never know they were GF!

 BOOM!! Score for the GF world!!!.......just one thing......please don't eat all of our nice GF food cos there won't be any left for us!!!!

Hmmmm the new year posed a little problem for me. How do I go about eating chocolate without consuming all the calories?! Clearly, "not eating chocolate" is NOT an option! So here's my solution...

Aero chocolate mousse! A satisfying chocolate hit and only 90ish calories (depending on the flavour you choose!). Milk chocolate, white chocolate, mint choc chip have all been sampled recently and I love them all! Definitely helping me through my withdrawal from all the Cadbury's Roses / Heroes from Christmas! Please note, these do not state they are GF on the packaging but all the ingredients are ok and they are listed in the Coeliac UK food directory.

I'm still humming "A Whole New World", are you?! Lol, have a feeling it may be going round my head all day! Please don't come complaining to me if you wake up at 2am singing it! Well, I'm off to crank up Take That to get this tune outta my head! Have a great week everyone x

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Gluten Free Best Friend Forever

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a fab, germ free and gluten free New Year and are ready to face 2014 with a spring in your step.....well, ok, as the new term looms tomorrow we'll see how long the spring stays in my step!!?

So the most entertaining Christmas present award goes to my friend who bought me this

.....have you read it? Oh, you so should!! April Peveteaux has become my new GFBFF (Gluten Free Best Friend Forever!) A realistic and very funny approach to eating GF! If you're new to the GF diet you may not be ready to laugh yet, however, as I am a couple of years down the line I feel I can sit back and chuckle at the highs and lows of life of a coeliac....hey, if you didn't laugh you'd cry eh?!

Anyway, I haven't turned into book reviewer for 2014 so....on with the food!!

After the roaring success of the Marks and Spencer GF party food on Boxing Day I delved a little deeper into their chilled cabinets! I was please to discover that they have merrily sneaked into their "regular food" section a Gluten Free breaded chicken and breaded cod dish. You've got to love M&S, not only do they produce fab GF food they like to create a little mystery GF treasure hunt as you wade your way through the chillers in search of your prize!  Don't get me wrong, it's totally worth it but I can't help wishing they would make it a little easier to find! So here we have the breaded chicken...

.....and the breaded cod....

and, yep, that's right...there is a sweet potato theme! Regular readers will know I have a bit of an issue with potatoes and I am a lover of all things orange!! Here's hoping I don't change colour this year (would save a fortune on tanning products in summer though!! )

So, on New Years Day, like a mad fool, I set off to Westfield Stratford for another hit on the sales. Headed to Tossed for lunch. For those of you who don't know, Tossed is a rather questionably named salad bar. On the face of it you would assume a salad bar would be a pretty safe GF place to dine. However, when you add croutons, dressings and wraps into the mix it suddenly becomes a cross contamination minefield. However, suitably encouraged by my new GFBFF April I approached the Tossed collegue with confidence....please let me quote from my book..

"You know how you can tell the difference between someone who does something for health reasons rather than hipster reasons? Those of us who have to restrict our diet announce it with shame rather than glee. I just wish waiters, casual acquaintances, and judgmental relatives could tell the difference."

Well, Josephine (my lovely server from Tossed) either knew the difference or plain didn't care about the difference! I could not have had better GF service! Josephine advised me that my grilled halloumi was usually grilled on the same grill as the dreaded bread! However, she went on to say she was happy to use a rubber grilling mat for my halloumi which they wash each time OR if I was happier she would get me a new grilling mat!! Woop woop for Josephine! Please see my lovely GF, cross contamination avoided salad below...

New Year Eve saw our two gluten loving friends come round for dinner. Nevertheless, as a thanks for buying me the above book and introducing me to my GFBFF I enrolled Dale into preparing a GF New Year's Eve banquet for them!

We started off with nibbles courtesy of Sainsburys and Udi's (

Udi's Cinnamon and Sugar Bagel Chips, Ancient Grain Aged Cheddar Crisps, Sainsburys Cool Tortilla Chips and Dips (GF checked!) and yes, before you ask, Dale is wearing shorts! Seriously that man is never cold! All GF nibbles went down well. I particularly enjoy the Udi's Ancient Grain crisps. As if having Coeliac Disease doesn't limit your diet enough it has also left me with serious potato issues! That's where the Ancient Grain crips come in like a knight on a white charger......crispy, tasty and potato free! Hurrah! (They also do a JalapeƱo Cheddar flavour too! Mmmmm! Bit of a firey kick without being overpowering mmmm!)

My new GFBFF April says,

"This is where I praise my husband for always having my back. On those nights when all I want to do is ....dig into a plate full of yum he'll make sure restaurant staff understand that I am "special".....You need one of those advocates for your health. Get one, and dining out will become less strenuous because you can spread the information sharing responsibilities around a bit."

Yep...dining out and dining in is much easier with "one of those advocates for your health". Dale can use his abnormal super powers to scan food labels at the speed of light, question restaurant staff about their menu like an episode of "Pier's Morgan's Life Stories", and spots a cross contamination risk within a 100 mile radius! In fact as I write he is researching GF restaurants in New York....we're not going until July!!

Nevertheless, the best superpower is his ability to cook GF food that no one knows is GF.......hahahahahah it's our plan to take over the world and make everyone dine a la GF mwah ha ha ha ha...(plan laugh!!)

So here is the New Year's Eve banquet..

BBQ chicken wings, BBQ ribs, Boston Baked Beans and triple cooked chips (single cooked for me!!)....please notice the frustrated laughter of everyone thinking "Hurry up with the pic and please let us tuck in!" Hip hip hoooraaaay GF dining can be tasty!!

So, I have gone on enough! As I brace myself for the start of term tomorrow I'm desperately trying not to reach for the remainder of the Cadbury's Heroes.....not sure how long I'll resist! Have a good week everyone x

* Please note the quoted book is "Gluten is my Bitch. Rants, Recipes and Ridiculousness for the Gluten Free" by April Peveteaux ISBN 978-1-61769-030-3