Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gluten Free Bread - a challenge to the major suppliers

When I first was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and tasted the supermarket gluten free bread I was horrified. Next time you're in one of our local supermarkets, pick up a loaf of gluten free bread and smell it - it's very distinct......and very unpleasant.

Thank god for wonderful niche producers like Naturally Gluten Free and Choices Gluten Free bakeries.....without them, I just wouldn't eat bread.

I would like to issue a challenge to the major manufacturers - get someone in your company who eats normal bread to smell and taste some of the bread produced and see if they would eat it! Moores, Country Life and all the others you see in the supermarket - surely we can get closer to decent, affordable, edible gluten free bread for everyone, not just those priviliged enough to be able to order from the niche bakeries?

Gluten Free Bread in Australia

What I would do to have some yummy, soft, fresh Turkish Bread with vegimite for breakfast - or that soft, warm italian bread you are given in restaurants with oil and balsamic to soak it in.....

OK, so I've never found gluten free bread that gets even vaguely close to this. But I've found bread that is not only edible (when you get used to it - and you do, I promise) but will become a staple. I still believe that all gluten free bread is best used toasted (and toasted well) but if you get one of my picks on the day they are baked, they could be used to make a sandwich (especially the bread from Choices - see below).

So, my picks:

Naturally Gluten Free: based in Sydney, but deliever and stock in other places around the country. These guys have done a great job. The crunch is my pick of their products, and I'm excited to see if they continue to bring out more and interesting products. Their bread is so filling and satisfying, definitely my favorite.

Choices Gluten Free bakery in Sydney. It doesn't really matter where you live, they will deliver! Their range of bread is great - everything from white, to wholemeal to grainy bread, par-baked rolls, pitta - you name it, they have it. They also have some nice treats to add to your order! Order $40 worth and they will deliver within metro sydney the next day for free - very cool, and a great, great find! My pick is their banana bread pre-mix - it's beautiful!

Thank you to both these guys for making the effort to ensure we can enjoy gluten free bread, and also thanks for continuing to innovate and produce more great products all the time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gluten Free Pizza

Finally I've found an awesome gluten free pizza in Sydney! I've tried a few, but Crust Pizza have come up trumps!

These guys have got it right! Nice thin base, no additives or preservatives and they deliver! What more could we ask for? They even stick a great big sticker on the box, (Gluten Free) so you can be sure you eat the right one.

If you felt like you were missing out on Pizza in Australia once you were diagnosed, you don't need to worry anymore!

Another pick for me is Hugos in Manly (right on the Wharf, and an absolute joy during the day or at night). Their entire pizza menu bar one (the meatballs) can be made gluten free. What a pleasure to go out for dinner (or lunch) and know I have the pick of the menu.

Finally, a surprising find was The Calabria Club at Manly Vale. A small, family type bowling club with cheap wine and carpet (!) is the last place I'd expect to find decent gluten free pizza. It's an awesome spot to hang out with the family summer or winter, with an enclosed area for the kids to cause havoc, while you sit and enjoy gluten free pizza. You can even take the bases home to put in the freezer. A great find.
I think gluten free pizza is easy to get wrong, but both Crust, Hugos and Calabria Club have done a great job and I highly recommend them.
Any other pizza recommendations would be gratefully received.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carrot Cake (gluten free and very easy)

I have to admit, I’m not a baker. If my old friends from London could see me now….! I was undiagnosed then, drank far too much beer, and relied very heavily on packaged food and pasta with tomato sauce. I eat like a queen now, and have started to bake. For those of you that know me….don’t faint, I know it’s surprising. Not everything is a success, but I can tell you, this Carrot Cake was so easy and so yummy, even I could do it.
Check it out at and search under Gluten Free Carrot Cake.

This would be enjoyed by those who are gluten free or not gluten free. My hubby, who doesn’t like carrot cake and doesn’t need to be gluten free thought it was ‘delicious’.

Slow cooking, gluten free style

The winter has really set in now in Sydney (well, it’s a cold 18 degrees Celsius during the day) and someone at work recommended a slow cooker as the perfect easy, healthy way of cooking during the winter months.

I cannot believe I didn’t know about these things before. Being a busy working Mum, I hate that end of the day feeling of rushing to cook a decent meal for us all, without having to eat really late at night. I tried it for the first time yesterday – beef bourguignonne. It was delicious, and so easy! My hubby and I eat lots, and we will get 2 nights out of it for us both:. I prepared it all and put it in the slow cooker while my little one was sleeping at lunchtime. By the end of the day, the house smelt amazing, and my hubby got home to what seemed like a big effort, gormet dinner!

1kg chuck steak (I kept it in big 1cms pieces that just fell apart with the fork on the plate)
200g bacon (gluten free)
6 french shallots
Fresh Thyme
Bay leaf
Clove garlic
200gms button mushrooms (whole)
1 tbsp corn flour
300mls red wine
30mls brandy

Brown off the beef in a small amount of olive oil. Add the cornflower and stir in. Add the wine and brandy. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and add to crockpot (I did this for 6 hours on high, but check the instructions on your machine). I would add big chunks of carrot as well next time.

I served this with creamy mash potatoes and green beans. An absolute winner!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"I could never give up bread, it would kill me"

Do you know how many times I have heard this since I was diagnosed in September 08? If I had a dollar...!

I smile smugly to myself now when I hear this! Little do they know how amazing I now feel, and how actually, eating bread might have eventually killed me!

I have never, ever felt better.....and as for the bread, yes, I miss it. I hate walking past bakers delight when they are opening the ovens, or being one of the first into my local Woolies or Coles in the morning when they are bringing the bread out of the oven....the smell is amazing, and is something us Coeliacs all miss. But feeling as great as I do now, I would never turn back.

I love the philosophy that I am not giving anything up, I am gaining. I thought that when I gave up smoking 8 years ago, and I think it now....I have freed my body of the ingredients that were beating it into submission.....I have energy, I am slim, I am healthy - and I am so clear minded now. So giving up bread hasn't killed me - I'd like to think it's freed me.

And thank god, I have found some awesome gluten free bread! To start with, I refused to eat the gluten free bread - I thought it was disgusting! But every, single new gluten free bread I find, or I hear about, I try. Why not, I've got nothing to lose!

I think all of us Coeliacs, and anyone else who needs or wants to be gluten free, need to keep up the pressure on the food industry to continue to innovate. I often hear great, and inspiring stories of people trialling new products, but we need to buy them and give the manufacturers our feedback. Vote with our pockets. Because lets face it, we generally all accept that we cannot eat normal bread, but I'm sure given the chance, we would all like to experience something close to it once in a while!

I would love to hear other people's stories and recommendations around gluten free bread. In the meantime, I will write another post shortly with my recommendations so far on gluten free bread in Australia.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm hungry all the time!

No one warned me I'd be starving all the time when I went on my new gluten free diet! I had an insatiable appetite! You could spot me running into the local shop to grab a packet of Smiths chips on my way home to eat in the car - I couldn't even make it the 30 minute drive home!

I mentioned this to a colleague of mine who's Mum is Coeliac, and she told me her Mum was the same for the first 3 months, but felt a bit better after that. 3 months?! I hate feeling hungry!

Anyway, I finally unearthed the reason why (thanks to the wonderful Coeliac Society). Much of a gluten free diet is high GI (fast absorbing foods that do not keep you full for very long) which is why I was feeling so hungry! I've had to re-educate the way I eat - basically really focusing on trying to eat low and medium GI foods (check out but also eating more often. I bought a wonderful book, Low GI gluten-free living - the essential diet and recipe guide by Kate Marsh, Prof. Jennie Brand-Miller and Philippa Sandall. This book is endorsed by the Coeliac Society of Australia and is a great start when understanding how to lower the overall GI value of your diet, but also has some great recipes and a good list at the back of staple foods so you can check on how your going.

I also went to see a Dietitian 6 months after my diagnosis - I wish I had gone earlier! She was fabulous (Sarah Dacres-Manning who I saw at the North Sydney Sports Clinic). Don't be scared off by the fact she's a Sports Dietitian - she was fabulous, and so high energy! I would recommend going to see a Dietitian, even if you think you know what you're doing. She gave me some great tips, checked out my blood tests and gave me the confidence to eat more without worrying about putting on too much weight. I have in fact come down to 62kgs with relatively little effort.

She got me to log what I was eating for a month - that was scary! The amount of chocolate I was eating wasn't too good! And I may have omitted a few of the glasses of wine! But what she helped me to realised was that because I was exercising up to 4 times a week, and on a gluten free diet, I wasn't getting enough carbs, and I was also not eating enough low GI food (thus craving the chocolate, especially in the afternoon).

I now eat about 6 times a day - a vast difference to how I was brought up, and also a big mental shift was needed by me. I was desperate to lose my post baby kgs, and I didn't think this was going to help! But it did. Because I was eating properly, I didn't need the chips or the chocolate anymore, and I had more energy to exercise, so immediately the kgs started to come off.

I will post some menu plans for you to see - but essentially I eat something like the following:

Breakfast (within 30 mins of waking up): Banana smoothie (1 banana, no fat calcium enriched milk, honey, low fat yogurt) plus gluten free toast

Morning tea: Apple

Lunch: Pea and ham soup and gluten free toast with a cheese slice or a salad and another banana

Afternoon tea: slice of home made orange and almond cake or gluten free hot chocolate or glass of fat free milk or 1 orange or gluten free crackers with pate

Dinner: Cottage pie or chicken curry with basmati rice or Thai beef salad or gluten free pasta with chicken, tomato and vegetable sauce

Supper: glass of low fat milk or herbal tea and gluten free biscuit.

Please be aware, I'm not a Dietitian, just a coeliac with a keen interest in the food I eat and the effect it has on me and I exercise at least 3 - 4 times a week. You need to see a proper medical expert to work out what's best for you.