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Gluten Free Catering

04/05/2013

This week another large chain (Pizza Express) launched a gluten free range. Eight years ago when I started my business it was originally called ‘Johnson’s Gluten Free Catering Provisions’. It came about when Coeliac UK were trying to get restaurants to advertise on their new website ‘Gluten-Free-Onthego‘. Their campaign that year was to get more restaurants to cater for coeliacs and gluten free diets.  I did some research and found that it was difficult to buy gluten free foods on a wholesale basis and the few restaurants that were catering for coeliacs at the time were buying their gluten-free bread and flours in the supermarket.

I contacted many local restaurants and large chains. The smaller restaurants were keen but it was difficult to get the large ones on board so I asked Coeliac UK for help but all they were interested in was getting me to pay to advertise. I did point out that by helping me they would be helping all coeliacs – isn’t that what they are supposed to do? I did supply a few small restaurants and hotels but sadly the volume was not large enough to sustain the business.

So while you are tucking into your gluten free pizza this weekend be grateful that they have finally woken up to the market but it could have been many years ago if Coeliac UK had got their act together!

 

Quick Gluten Free Supper

16/02/2013

Mushroom Stroganoff

I rediscovered this recipe the other day – I’ve adapted it from The Cranks‘ Recipe Book. It was quick to make and delicious. For a dairy-free or vegan version use olive oil instead of butter and and a dairy-free alternative to cream.

mushroom stroganoff

Serves 4

1 large onion
4 celery sticks
350g (12oz) mushrooms
50g butter or olive oil
1 tablespoon gluten free flour
150ml (1/4 pint) water
1 teaspoon yeast extract
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
150 ml (1/4 pint) soured cream
salt and pepper
chopped parsley and paprika to garnish

Slice the onion, celery and mushrooms. Melt the butter or heat the oil and sauté the onion and celery until the onion is transparent. Add the remaining butter or oil then add the mushrooms and stir occasionally over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour; then add the water, yeast extract and herbs. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes. Off the heat stir in the soured cream and adjust seasoning to taste. Re-heat gently but don’t allow to boil. Serve at once with rice and fresh green salad. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and paprika.

Hale and Hearty?

12/02/2011

Well if you want to remain that way probably best to avoid Hale and Hearty‘s products. New laws have come in recently to cover internet advertising but that does not cover claims on manufacturers’ websites so it is left to us bloggers to spread the word! Someone posted on my facebook page yesterday that his son had suffered the effects of being glutened after eating Hale and Hearty’s breadsticks. I went to their website to investigate further.

On their homepage it claims:

There’s a common misconception that ‘free from’ foods lack the flavour and quality offered by ‘regular’ food. At Hale & Hearty we aim to prove that misconception wrong with a range of wheat free and gluten free foods as mouth-wateringly delicious as they are wholesome.

Rich in nutrients and packed with goodness our foods are ideal for anyone looking to adopt a healthy, unprocessed wholegrain diet.

Our products are all free from wheat and gluten and because we love food, we haven’t compromised on flavour or quality. Enjoy our deliciously wholesome products and you too can be Hale & Hearty.

But look at the ingredients! (Note the claim above that their products are unprocessed and wholegrain.)

Rice Starch, Corn Starch, Eggs, Corn Oil, Vegetable Margarine (Sunflower Oil and Palm Fat (80%), Diglycerides of Fatty Acids (Emulsifier), Citric Acid), Vegetable Oil (Corn), Rice Flour, Yeast, Salt, Skimmed Milk Powder, Potato Starch, Thickener: Guar Gum, Dextrose, Psyllium Seed Fibre, Corn Maltodextrin, Raising Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Pyrophosphate).

Looking at the ingredients of some of the other products the breadsticks seem to be the worst offenders. In my years of being involved in the gluten free business I came across so many people who said they still felt ill after going gluten free so it is no wonder there is confusion! One of the reasons (aside from the hassle) that I closed my online store was that I was not comfortable selling stuff that I wouldn’t touch myself . We don’t always have time to check the ingredients, when I was first diagnosed I just used to assume that if it was gluten free it would be ok to eat but now I know better.

What price good health?

26/01/2011

When I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2003 after being very ill for a considerable amount of time my first reactions were:

  • well at least I know what it is because my grandfather had the condition
  • now I know what was wrong with me I can do something about it
  • all I need to do is change my diet*

I’ve generally been an optimistic person throughout my life. Like everyone else I’ve had my challenges in life but in the last few years I’ve learnt that the only difference between successful and unsuccessful people is how they view those challenges. Sadly in our education system (I am a qualified teacher too) kids these days aren’t allowed to fail which does not set them up for life.

Yes you can feel sorry for yourself and think ‘Why me?’ or you can take responsibility for your life and health and do something about it! I’ve made mistakes over the years and continue to do so but each time I learn something and it makes me stronger.

There is too much focus from the medical profession and Coeliac UK on what we can’t eat instead of what we can! There are only 4 things that coeliacs can’t eat – wheat, barley and rye and some oats. OK that pretty much cuts out most processed food but no one should be eating that anyway. It’s no wonder that many people have other health issues as well such as diabetes and thyroid problems because many are pushed gluten free substitutes for these foods instead of being given advice on proper nutrition. Sadly the quality of advice people receive from their doctors and dietitians varies greatly on how clued up they are. Through trial and error, doing research, reading books I have learnt so much in the last 7 years about how important good nutrition is for our health.

Yes I know we are all told we need to eat ‘5 a day’ and other information is bombarded at us on a daily basis but do you really know? And even more importantly do you do it? Although I knew the basics of good nutrition I wasn’t doing it and I put on a lot of weight after I was diagnosed. I realised then that what is needed as well as a change in diet is a change of mind too. It wasn’t until I changed the way I thought that I really began to see positive changes. As a result I not only lost a lot of weight very quickly but changes in other areas of my life too. I have better friendships, more opportunities coming my way for example. This isn’t just luck or a coincidence it is down to conscious action.

I have been helping people with weight loss following my success and now I want to expand and help coeliacs who have been recently diagnosed to regain optimum health as quickly as possible. Of course this is not intended to replace advice from their doctor or dietitian but in addition to it to enable them to take responsibility for their own health and stop feeling like a victim.

*I have since learned that there is more to it than that of course!

Raw Chocolate Cake

17/01/2011

This is absolutely fantastic – only 5 ingredients, no cooking and ready to eat in less than 10 mins! It is absolutely delicious and very rich so you can’t eat too much! Naturally gluten free and suitable for vegans too.

3 cups of walnuts
2/3 cup of cacao powder (or cocoa powder will do fine if you can’t get it)
20 mejdool dates
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp natural vanilla extract

Put the walnuts and salt into a food processor and process until the walnuts are chopped to pieces that are slightly larger than a grain of sand. (Don’t overdo it or it will become too oily) Then add the stoned dates, cacao powder and vanilla extract. Process until the mixture sticks together when you press it. Then put the mixture on a plate and shape into a cake with your hands. You can top it with whatever you like – I used dessicated coconut. I put it in the fridge for about an hour before eating as well. That’s it!

 

 

 

 

This is where I found the recipe:

 

Tomato Soup Recipe

17/01/2011

I’ve been asked for soup recipes recently so I thought I would share mine for Tomato Soup – quick and easy to make and perfect for this time of year!

Cold-pressed olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small head celery
4 large tomatoes
1/2 red pepper
handful of freshly chopped coriander

Heat the oil and fry the chopped onion until soft. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves and the cumin seeds. Chop the celery, tomatoes and pepper and cook for a few more minutes then add water to your desired thickness and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft then leave to cool slightly before liquidising. Stir in a little of the coriander and re-heat. Serve garnished with the remaining coriander.

2010 in review

03/01/2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 16 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 17 posts. There were 16 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 13th with 151 views. The most popular post that day was The will to lose weight.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, glutenfree.blog.co.uk, zzsst.co.cc, twitter.com, and members.glutenfreebloggers.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for starting a gluten free business, how to start a gluten free business, starting gluten free business, gluten free scones, and glutafin site:glutenfreefoodies.wordpress.com.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The will to lose weight December 2010
3 comments

2

12 Top Tips for Starting a Gluten Free Business May 2010
7 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

3

My weight loss (and gain) journey December 2010
1 comment

4

Savoury Gluten Free Tartlets August 2010
2 comments

5

Becoming Slimmer Again October 2010
1 comment