This week’s guest works with our buddies over at Ten Acre crisps and in her spare time runs a little Insta-blog by the name of @GlutenFreeManc. Let’s see what Rachel has to say for herself…
Right then Rachel…we’ll start with an easy one. How long ago were you diagnosed with Coeliac disease?
I was diagnosed when I was 19, so 11 years ago. I had been poorly for a few years before hand, to the point I had to drop out of university – it was all very stressful!
We can imagine! You must’ve seen some very positive changes to the gluten-free landscape over the past decade or so…
Like you wouldn’t believe. When I was first diagnosed I lived off jacket potatoes and salad for a couple of years! I remember one restaurant I visited assured me that they would create a gluten free meal. They said I couldn’t have the rice because it had gluten in it and that they would prepare me a salad. It arrived with croutons on it! I got used to it but now over the years, restaurants and cafes are definitely more clued up – I’ve had some great experiences eating out now! The same goes with supermarkets – there are so many more options now available, I remember when the ‘Free From’ isle didn’t exist or if you asked for it, you would be greeted with a blank stare! If you had said to me 10 years ago that I could eat a veggie pie (Cauliflower, Kale & Stilton is my fave!) then I would have laughed at you. I even ended up working in the food industry and so much has changed over the years to help those on gluten free diets. The company I currently work for makes gluten free crisps and popcorn and it makes me happy hearing when people first discover they can eat crisps without worrying about cross-contamination, or being flavoured with barley!
So between us we’ve got crisps and pastries covered, but is there anything that you’re yet to find a decent gluten free alternative for?
This is a tough one! I suppose a fresh French baguette. I love travelling and I get pretty jealous when my friends pick up cheap, fresh bread and baguettes and I’m sat there with stale rice cakes or a sandwich-less sandwich!
Oh the ol’ sandwich-less sandwich. We’ve all been there! Okay, so as the founder of @GlutenFreeManc we figured you’d be good for a recommendation or two. Go!
There is a restaurant in Manchester where I live called Dough. It’s been around for ages and was one of the first places around here to do gluten free pizza. It’s really good and some of toppings are amazing. Also, when I visited Valencia I found a gluten free bakery called Celia-cruz. It was unreal; I visited every day and ate all of the doughnuts.
Most annoying question you get asked about Coeliac disease?
Don’t you miss gluten?
Oh that’s a classic! Any last words of wisdom for those recently diagnosed with the disease?
Don’t let it knock your confidence – I let this happen and it took me years to feel comfortable asking. Let restaurants, friends, family know everything in advance if someone else is preparing food – and don’t be scared to double check! If you’re going on holiday, do your research before you go – it’s worth it and you might be lucky like me and find a gluten free bakery where you are staying!
To read a little more about Rachel and her Mancunian adventures be sure to follow @glutenfreemanc over on Instagram. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a pack of Ten Acre crisps next time you’re in the supermarket!
Welcome to another edition of Coeliac Spotlight! This week we want everyone to give a very warm welcome to Carrie, who’s currently studying to be a nurse. In her spare time she like to paint, play tennis and walk her adorable little pug, Benny. Carrie…Come on down!
(Sorry for the weird game show-esque dialogue. We’re hoping to get spotted for the new series of The Price Is Right.)
Let’s start with an easy one. How old were you when you were first diagnosed?
I was aged 8/9 I think. I can remember feeling a strange kind of sense of relief. I had school dinners when I was little and I can always remember feeling really bloated, like my tummy would just go all hard and I would feel really lethargic. Mum started making sandwiches for me thinking I was just being fussy or it wasn’t great cooking (let’s be fair Turkey Twizzlers were pretty grim!) but it still didn’t go away and it would be really painful. It was then she took me to the doctors and they did some tests and I was diagnosed with it.
So you were very young! How have you found things have changed since?
In the 90s there didn’t seem to be as much food readily available and now the selection is great, I’ve got to say. It was such a hassle to find a good alternative back then that I just wouldn’t bother. This was really hard, I remember my friend had a birthday party at pizza hut and I couldn’t go. Now, there is much more awareness of the disease, and along with the popularity of the GF diet, we’re seeing almost a golden age in GF availability!
There must still be something out there that you miss…
Okay. So I have yet to find a good gluten free pretzel. My mum is from New York originally and I can remember visiting as a child and being obsessed with the giant pretzels – particularly the cinnamon ones! They tasted soooo good. The free samples they hand out in shopping centres really test my self control…
We feel your pain…So how are the Welsh doing in terms of Gluten Free restaurants?
The Cosy Club in Cardiff is VERY good. Their GF breakfast has become something of a tradition on the weekend and their gluten free “Avocado Brunch” is incredible.
Okay, so you have one last chance to spout some pearls of wisdom. Go!
Whether it’s a dietary requirement or a personal choice, don’t be worried because there are so many supermarkets and restaurants that cater to this now, you just need to know where to look. Follow a load of Coeliac brands/blogs on Twitter and you’ll always get great little recipes or tips popping up on your timeline!
So there you have it, a little wisdom on the house, courtesy of another lovely member of the coeliac community. Fancy a go in the spotlight? Drop us a tweet or Facebook message!
The time has come once again where we must cast the dazzling beam of the spotlight upon a fellow coeliac. Our latest As most of you will know, when you’re first diagnosed with a gluten-intolerance, the help and guidance of somebody with a few more GF diet-years under their belt is invaluable. Unfortunately, this guidance is not always readily available, and not everyone has a friend/family member who suffers from the disease. This is where we come in. Enter, Jess, A 25-year-old school teacher from up’ North!
Right then, let’s start with the classic! At what age were you diagnosed with Coeliac disease?
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease at 22 after thinking I was lactose intolerant for years!
Oh wow…it must’ve been a relief to finally get to the root cause of the problems! How have things changed since your (real) diagnosis?
When I was first diagnosed, I wasn’t diagnosed as ‘coeliac’ as such but with a high intolerance to products containing gluten- at first I was still able to eat gluten in small amounts whereas now this would cripple me for days! At first I felt like gluten free options were really limited whereas now even small supermarkets cater for coeliacs. I have also found that I now have a better awareness of what to cook, which enables me to save my money a little!
So now you’ve had a few years of eating gluten free, is there anything you’re still seeking when it comes to good gluten free alternatives?
A decent cherry bakewell! All the ones I have tried/tried to bake have been painfully dry!
Perhaps we should give that one a go! We’re heading to Leeds very soon – any recommendations for a good GF restaurant in your hometown?
Filmore & Union and ASK Italian actually do a very good GF pizza! They are hard to find!
Well that’s Filmore & Union officially on the itinerary. Okay then, last of all…any final words of wisdom for people recently going gluten-free?
It’s a bit of lifestyle change but it’s really doable! Most things when natural are gluten free so keep it simple until you know what you can/can’t have – avoid anything processed as that will 100% contain gluten. DON’T RISK IT- that chicken burger or slice of cake might seem worth it at the time but you will regret it ten times over!
Fancy taking part in next month’s Coeliac Spotlight? Drop us a tweet/Facebook message and we’ll be in touch!
Right then, anyone fancy a doughnut or three? If the answer’s ‘yes’, then you’re in the right place! If you said ‘no’ then we’d suggest swiftly moving on to another blog post. We’re big fans of doughnuts here at Too Good To Be HQ, so in celebration of those joyous sugary rings we all know and love, here are three of our favourite Gluten Free Doughnut recipes out there on the world wide web!
Baked Gluten Free Salted Caramel Doughnuts
If you’re on a diet, look away now. These baked goodies are DRENCHED in salted caramel sauce and we can’t get enough of them. This recipe from from Lisa Roukin is an absolute dream!
2 eggs, large
240ml almond milk, unsweetened
80g coconut oil (odourless)
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or ½ vanilla pod seeds
100g ground almonds, sifted
140g cornmeal, medium, sifted
80g coconut sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
sea salt, pinch
salted caramel sauce
400ml coconut milk, refrigerated in the can (only use the solidified part, discard the water)
1 tbsp. coconut oil (odourless)
2 pinches sea salt
You will need 2 non-stick donut hole trays
(Pre-heat the oven to 350°F, gas mark 4, 180°C (160°C fan-assisted).)
Melt the coconut oil over a gentle heat leave to cool.
In a mixing bowl beat together the eggs and then add the coconut oil, almond milk, ½ tsp. of vanilla bean paste or ½ vanilla pod seeds and 1 pinch of sea salt. Mix in by hand the sifted ground almonds and cornmeal, coconut sugar, baking powder and cinnamon then pour the mixture into a measuring jug to make pouring into the donut tray easier.
Pour the mixture into the donut hole tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
To make the salted caramel, open the chilled can of coconut milk, and spoon out the solidified coconut milk into a saucepan, discarding the water. Add the honey, sea salt and coconut oil. Whisk all the ingredients together, over a gentle heat until smooth.
Increase the heat to a gentle boil until the sauce starts to thicken and bubble, and keep it bubbling for 5 minutes, stirring it. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool slightly (if it hasn’t caramelised, continue stirring on the heat for another 2-3 minutes).
Once the donuts have baked, take them out of the oven and place them on a cooling rack to cool slightly. Dip or drizzle the donuts in the salted caramel sauce and they are ready to serve!
Baked Chocolate Doughnuts (Gluten Free AND Vegan!)
A little treat for the gluten intolerant vegans out there – these simple-to-make, doughy treats come courtesy of Stacey from ‘Goodness Is Gorgeous’ and are perfect for a spot of weekend baking. Get on with it!
For the donuts:
210g all-purpose gluten-free flour
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
30g unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
145g packed light brown sugar
56g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
55g canola oil (or other neutral oil)
2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
14 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
For the glaze
115g confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 to 4 teaspoons milk or buttermilk
Gluten free sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease a miniature donut pan or muffin tin and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, 6 tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, nutmeg, and brown sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, oil, eggs, vanilla, and cream, mixing to combine after each addition until combined. The batter will be thick.
Fill the wells of the donut pan or muffin tin about 2/3 of the way full. For perfectly even donuts, transfer the batter to a large piping bag with an open tip, and pipe the batter into each well.
Place in the center of the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until the donuts are just set. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the donuts are cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, place the confectioner’s sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, and 2 teaspoons milk or buttermilk and mix to combine.
Add more milk or buttermilk by the half teaspoon until you have a smooth, but pourable liquid. Working quickly, dip the top of each of the cooled doughnuts in the glaze, turn back and forth a bit to coat well, invert the doughnut so the glaze is facing up, sprinkle with the optional sprinkles, and place the donut, glazed side up, to a piece of parchment paper. Allow the donut to sit until the glaze is set.
Gluten Free Cinnamon and Sugar Doughnuts
Ahh cinnamon and sugar, the greatest combo since Lennon and McCartney – with the exception of Steak & Ale of Course! You can thank Gluten Free Alice for these beauties…
For the Doughnuts
150g gluten free self raising flour
1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt
110g caster sugar
120ml almond milk
2 medium eggs
1 and 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (Can also use vegetable oil or melted coconut oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Non stick spray (Could also use cooking oil or melted coconut oil)
For the topping
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
75g dairy free butter (melted)
Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Spray your doughnut tray with non stick spray. You could also use cooking oil or melted coconut oil and grease using kitchen paper.
Add your flour, salt, sugar and baking powder to a bowl and mix.
In a separate bowl whisk your almond milk, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Add this to your dry ingredients and mix well.
Add the batter to your doughnut tray making sure that its not completely full as they will rise!
Bake for around 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Cool the doughnuts on a wire tray and bake any additional mixture. (My doughnut tray is only big enough for 6 so I cook the second batch whilst the first batch cool down).
To make the cinnamon sugar coating mix together your granulated sugar and cinnamon.
Melt your dairy free butter/spread and dip your doughnut into this. You can then dip it in the cinnamon sugar mix.
It’s been a few months since we conducted one of our little Spotlight interviews and we started to miss our little chats with peeps in the community! When Jack Bleasedale approached us on Twitter asking us what had happened to the series we decided we’d not only reignite that ol’ flame, but to use him as the star of the spotlight. So a little bit about Jack: He’s 19, he’s a dancer, he’s from Liverpool and he’s a Coeliac. So, now you have his life story let’s crack on…
Hey, Jack! We’re sure you know how this all goes by now. Let’s start with the usual. At what age were you diagnosed with Coeliac disease?
I was diagnosed at age 15. I’m now 19!
The four years since your diagnosis have been an interesting few years for the coeliac community, a gluten-free revolution of sorts! Have you noticed much of a change?
Things have only changed for the better, I am more self aware now thank I ever was. I had a bad episode around my 17th birthday. I was doing a lot of shows at the time and had a really horrible experience where I was ‘glutened’ as everyone calls it! Anyway, I had to have a few days off. I was really ill and subsequently missed a big show at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff. It was tough emotionally as well as physically because I so desperately wanted to take part but I had no energy. I knew then that I needed to start taking it more seriously and couldn’t just have a piece of cake and chance it!
Now, my body really is a temple. I am fitter than ever and about to embark on a really exciting journey at the Royal Ballet school.
It sounds like by now you’re fully in control of your body and your nutrition. Is there anything you still miss from your old diet?
I wouldn’t say I ‘miss’ foods that much because I think there are a lot of great free-from ranges out there to compensate. I guess I just miss the freedom sometimes and miss being at a party and not having to ask ‘what’s in this?’ ‘what’s in that’ etc. I have to be prepared!
Parties are a minefield for an accidental glutening! Where do you go when you’re in need of a GF treat or seven?
I’m a big fan of this bakery called Beyond Bread in West London where EVERYTHING is gluten free. They have a black bean brownie! It sounds bizarre, but trust me on this. It’s the best!
The big question. Are you tired of hearing “What CAN you eat”, yet?
Haha most definitely. The majority of the time they are actually interested and don’t know much about the disease so I just explain to them. They don’t normally mean it in a nasty way so it doesn’t annoy me. It’s just curiosity and a subject they don’t know much about.
That’s a very nice way of looking at it. You must have the patience of a saint! Let’s finish off with some words of wisdom for people recently going gluten-free…
If you are going to a party or an event, do as much prep as you can. Ask if there will be GF food so you can eat beforehand if not and not waste away. Or stash some of your Gluten Free sausage rolls in your pockets!
Thanks, Jack! People are going to think we paid you to say that last part…
It’s the 29th May which means two things. Firstly, it’s our new intern, Gina’s birthday. Secondly, and much more importantly, it’s national biscuit day, which is a pretty big deal as far as these national days go. Inevitably, Gina will be expecting some kind of gift from her esteemed colleagues, allowing us to bring vast quantities of biccies in to the office under the guise of celebratory niceties – result! If you’re up for joining in the biscuity festivities, we’ve left a few of our fave recipes below. Enjoy!
Gluten Free Jaffa Cake
Is it a cake or is it a biscuit? Who cares when they taste this bloomin’ marvellous!
For the base
* 75g gluten-free flour
* 50g ground almonds
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
* 3 tbsp maple syrup
* 4 tbsp milk of choice
For the orange layer
* 1/2 cup (120ml) orange juice
* 1 tbsp maple syrup
* 1 tbsp orange zest
* 1/2 tsp agar agar
For the chocolate topping
* 100g-150g dairy-free dark chocolate, melted and left to cool
1. Preheat your oven to 180*C (160*C fan assisted)/ 350*F
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.
3. Pour in the coconut oil, maple and milk. Mix to combine.
4. Lightly oil a muffin tray and transfer about 1.5-2 tbsp of the batter into each of the muffin tray cups.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
To make the orange jelly
1. Add all the jelly ingredients into a small saucepan and cook on a medium/high heat mixing continuously until it starts to boil.
2. Take off the heat, pour into a wide bowl and leave to cool.
3. Once the jelly has cooled down, transfer into the fridge to speed up the setting process.
1. Cut out rings from the jelly, smaller than the width of the base.
2. Top each base with a jelly ring (or a small tsp of marmalade if you don’t want to make the jelly), then drizzle some melted chocolate on top. I find if u leave the chocolate to cool once melted it’s a lot easier to control drizzling the chocolate on top.
3. Transfer to the fridge and leave for about 15 minutes until the chocolate has set
Gluten Free Jammy Dodgers
This great recipe for these jammy treats was crafted by our pals over at The Coeliac Sanctuary. Well worth a go!
* 350g gluten free plain flour
* 1tsp bicarbinate of soda
* Pinch salt
* 140g sunflower spread
* 100g caster sugar
* 2tbsp maple syrup
* 1tsp vanilla extract
* 1/2tbsp soya milk (or almond or coconut would work)
* Stawberry Jam (about 1/2tbsp per biscuit)
* Icing Sugar, for dusting
1. Mix together flour, bicarb and salt. In another bowl cream, spread, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
2. Mix the flour mix into the butter mix. Once semi combined, mix together with your hands until you get a rollable dough, if the mix is too crumbly add the milk, otherwise it can be left out.
3. Roll out the dough, cut out 3 inch rounds (28 of them) and use a small icing cutter or knife to cut rounds out of the middle of half the rounds (these will become the tops).
4. Bake for 10-12 mins on gas mark 4 until cooked but not brown, allow to cool and put jam on the bottoms, top with one of the biscuit tops and sprinkle over icing sugar.
Gluten Free Party Rings
These colourful little goodies featured heavily in many-a-childhood across the UK – this incredible recipe from Gluten Free Cuppa Tea will ensure the fun continues well into adulthood…
* 200g gluten free plain flour
* 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
* 100g caster sugar
* 100g dairy free hard margarine (I use Stork Baking Block)
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 300g icing sugar (to mix with boiling water)
* Selection of food colouring pastes (I used Dr Oetker yellow, pink and purple food colour gel)
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. In a large bowl measure out your dry ingredients (gluten free flour, xanthan gum and sugar), mix.
3. Cube your dairy free hard margarine and rub it into your dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Stir in your egg and vanilla extract. Keep stiring till it it starts to come together into more of a dough.
5. Use your hands to bring it into a ball of dough. If it’s sticky, just add a little extra gluten free flour until it’s a nice, firm dough. Wrap it in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
6. Remove your dough from the fridge and roll it out on a well floured surface with a well floured rolling pin too. I roll mine out to about the thickness of a pound coin, a little thicker or thinner won’t matter though either.
7. Using a circular cutter, cut out the party ring shapes, then using a smaller circular cutter, cut out the centre circles and remove them. (You can use this to roll out more party rings if you have extra dough left over)
8. Transfer your party rings to a baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes until slightly golden. (12 minutes is perfect in my oven)
9. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
10. To make the icing, sieve your icing sugar into a bowl and a little boiling water, 1 tsp at a time. Mixing either by hand or with a mixer until it’s a smooth and thick enough but still drizzles off the spoon. You don’t want it to be runny!
11. Once you are happy with the consistency of your icing, divide it into 3 separate bowls and use your food colouring gel to colour each (yellow, pink and purple).
12. Dip your biscuits face down into your yellow, pink or purple icing so they are fully covered on top. Let any excess drizzle off. Leave it to set slightly for 2-3 minutes.
13. Place a little yellow or pink icing into a piping bag and using a small nozzle, carefully draw lines of icing on top of a different colour icing (so yellow on purple icing for instance)
14. Using a cocktail stick, feather the icing.
15. Put to one side on a cooling rack so the icing can fully set. Excess icing should be able to drip off.
The scorching weather last week really brought out the worst in the Too Good To Be staff. There were fights over the seats with optimal sun, squabbles over placement of the one office fan that still works, and friendships ruined over the distribution of the limited number of ice cube trays. While all this was going on behind us, we felt it was up to the social media team to uphold the values of this fine brand and produce something of real importance to our customers. In the end we settled on offering up a few of our favourite London picnic spots, along with the ideal goodies to bring along for the ride…
Primrose hill is an exceptionally beautiful spot of land around 5 minutes walk from Camden Town. The hill boasts stunning, unobstructed views of the London skyline, making for the perfect spot to settle down with a top notch picnic in the sunshine. For this particular spot we’d recommend stocking up on a decent number of our sausage rolls – the ideal snack-on-the-go should you get peckish half way up the hill…
Another space with a skyline view – not quite as good as Primmy Hill (in our humble opinion) – but beautiful nonetheless. This patch offers enough seating to bring along some of the less-portable products in the TGTB range, providing your paper plates are up to the task. Why not rock up with a selection of quiche i.e. our Quiche Lorraine and our Quiche with Cheese & Caramelised Onion. P.S. while you’re in the area do check out the Greenwich Meridian!
Now we head out to the East-end and and its abundance of fabulous green spaces. It was a tough choice, but if there’s anywhere that’ll offer up those summery vibes atop a picnic blanket it’s Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets. We’re not 100% sure why, but we feel that east end parks attract more of a pork pie vibe than anything else – so that’s what we’re going to go with for this particular spot. Why not pop over to the Royal Inn on The Park for cheeky wine as the sun starts to set…
One of London’s biggest, best and arguably most serene bits of parkland – weighing in at a whopping 2500 acres. The spot is perhaps best known for its 650 deer roaming freely across the park, offering truly remarkable views as the herd gather on the outskirts of the park’s woodland. We’d suggest rocking up with a couple of tarts – the chocolate and lemon variety of course! These tasty treats will be gobbled in no time at all, limited your chances of any hassle from those hungry deer…
Where next for our #PerfectPicnic series? Let us know over on our social channels! @TooGoodToBeUK
A few weeks ago we put out a request on Twitter for participants in the next edition of the Coeliac Spotlight. Out of all the responses there was one who stood out in particular for their fabulously named blog. We were a little unsure as to the reason for the name and our nosiness getting the better of us we decided to invite her for a little chinwag. Please give a warm welcome to the Coeliac Sloth…
Right Georgina, let’s get straight to it…how long since your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed in 2015, at 23 years old, after having various nutritional deficiencies, bowel problems, and the fatigue and low mood. I’d had those symptoms since I was 19, but It took my doctor until January 2015 to test for Coeliac Disease.
Have you noticed much of a change in availability over these past two years?
One thing I have noticed since diagnosis, is that the availability of gluten-free food when you eat out has increased dramatically from things like meal deals, to going to a Coeliac UK accredited restaurant. I don’t have to rely on jacket potatoes and salads! I also feel like Coeliac Awareness week is fantastic for helping people understand. With social media, advertisements, TV shows, and Magazines talking about it, it really helped my mum understand what Coeliac Disease was.
It’s great isn’t it?! Now, every coeliac goes through a nightmare dining experience at some point in their life. Had any awful ones yet?
My worst dining experience as a coeliac was when I was out with my best friend, shopping. We decided to go to a cafe that does pizza and chips and have a look before we decided (I know, bad idea). In my head, I was thinking that the chips would be safe and fried in a separate fryer, as pizza and chips were the only things on the menu. I went up to the counter and asked them if they were fried separately, explained that I had coeliac disease, and I couldn’t eat gluten. They asked the chef to come out, which he did, and he asked me what gluten was. I was there for 10 minutes explaining what gluten was to him, by this time there were 2 chefs, and 3 members of staff, with a lengthy queue behind me. And then they told me they had an allergy sheet, and after reading it, they told me the chips were gluten free. I repeated my first question about the chips being fried in the separate fryer and they told me that they were. I was so tired at this point I just took them and sat down with my friend, then they all stood around the counter watching me, it was so uncomfortable!
Wow. That sounds like an experience. How about a place where you’ve had a particularly good experience? We’re guessing it wont be the restaurant you’ve just mentioned…
My favourite restaurant for Gluten Free Food is Chiquitos. They got their CUK Accreditation this year, and their staff are always so friendly and accommodating, and the atmosphere is always fun. The menu is so varied, especially with desserts, and the chilli and coriander salmon is out of this world.
Jake from the office is always harping on about Chiquitos, we’ll have to give that salmon a go. So what made you get into blogging?
I had Instagram for a while, and uploaded photos of my food on there quite often. I got asked for months, by my friends “When are you going to do a food blog?”, so I decided to start a blog and social media channels dedicated to it. I love the little community with my followers and it’s nice to talk about coeliac disease related things that I can’t necessarily talk about with my friends and family.
Okay, we’ve got to ask. Is there a story behind the name?
YES, The Coeliac Sloth is a name my boyfriend James suggested when I was looking for a name to call my blog. I was so tired all of the time before diagnosis because of my iron deficiency, and he told me that I was a “sloth in a people’s body.” Sloths are also my absolute favourite animal.
If you are anyone you know fancy taking part in a future edition of the coeliac spotlight then get in touch over on Twitter or Facebook!
Things are looking up for us Coeliacs. Supermarkets are now stocking more gluten-free food than ever before, restaurants are starting to give us a dish or two and best of all…we’ve been given our own week! That’s right people, this week is Coeliac Awareness Week and in celebration we’re giving away 2 x £25 vouchers to spend on goodies at our brand new online store. You’ll find the competition over on our Facebook page, but before you head off we thought we’d give you a (very) brief lesson on how man’s understanding of Coeliac disease has developed over the course of history…
As hunter/gatherers, man’s diet consisted largely of fruit, nuts and meat. The human stomach had evolved over the course of 2 million years with the ability to process food antigens ingested as part of this diet; however, in 10,000 BC we saw the Neolithic revolution – when the cultivation of plants would begin. Most individuals were able to adapt to these new proteins with no problems. Others weren’t so lucky and displayed signs of intolerance – what we now know as Coeliac disease.
It wasn’t for another 8,000 years, around the 1st Century AD, that the disease would be identified and named. Yep, that’s right. 8,000 years, and even then the understanding of the disease was still pretty poor. This initial observation was made by Greek genius Aretaeus of Cappadocia, who named the disease after the Greek word for abdomen – Koelia. His rather poetic musings went as followed: “If the stomach be irretentive of the food and if it pass through undigested and crude, and nothing ascends into the body, we call such persons coeliacs”.
Now, fast forward another 18 Centuries and we get to our next major coeliac milestone. In 1888, English doctor Samuel Gee publishes the first complete modern description of the clinical picture of coeliac disease, and theorises on the importance of diet in its control. Hoorah, finally we’re getting somewhere! Let’s not get too excited. Even by this point we still had no idea of what exactly caused the disease.
It wasn’t until World War Two that things became a little clearer. Willem Karel Dicke, a leading Dutch Paediatrician, noticed something interesting when bread shortages hit the Netherlands – The condition of children suffering from Coeliac Disease actually improved! This led to Dicke investigating the matter further and a few years later he released a set of seminal papers, documenting the role that wheat and rye play in the disease. Finally! Over the next seventy years we see a number of breakthroughs that allowed us to narrow down the cause of the disease (gluten, obviously) and to also successfully diagnose a patient as Coeliac with a good degree of certainty.
So, as you’ve just read, it’s taken just over 12,000 years to get to where we are today. Luckily, it takes a little less time to cook a Too Good To Be pie…
So in case you weren’t aware, this week is Coeliac Awareness Week, and in the midst of all the madness and the vast quantities of pie we’ve been eating we managed to chat with one of our favourite coeliac bloggers, The Coeliac Sanctuary! Here’s how it went…
So, let’s start with the usual! At what age were you diagnosed with Coeliac Disease?
I was diagnosed in June 2014, so I was 25. I had gone through a rough time, falling ill around August 2013 after being made redundant but had suffered with stomach problems since my early teens but I was never checked for Coeliac although I was told I had IBS on multiple occasions.
We seem to be in the middle of a gluten free revolution right now. Have you noticed many changes in the four years since your diagnosis?
4 years may not seem long but I have seen so many changes in that time. I remember when I was first told I needed to eat gluten free and going to Sainsbury’s and there not being a huge amount of choice, mostly basic foods, bread, cereal etc. However, in the last couple of years more and more has become available in supermarkets and the products are improving, it is possible to get bread that tastes like bread now rather than something that resembles cardboard! Eating out can still be a struggle, not everywhere understands the cross contamination issues but more places are becoming more aware, it’s just a case of digging out the ones that truly understand what Coeliac is.
So true, and it’s great for us! Okay, with that in mind, give us your fave spot for a gluten free bite to eat…
I have so many, I can’t choose one! The one I go to time and time again is a local pub, The Elephant in Shavington just outside Crewe, Cheshire. The landlord is Coeliac so they are very Coeliac aware, I can’t pick a favourite dish, I’ve had pretty much everything on their menu and love it all. I also eat at Swan Lake Chinese in Haslington, again just outside Crewe, Cheshire a lot, it’s so hard to find a Chinese that does gluten free but they really understand and do most of their menu gluten free, favourite dish from there is definitely sweet and sour chicken, I love anything sweet and sour.
Wow – good gluten free Chinese food is rare! We’ll have to pay it a visit. So, if you had to cook one GF meal for a friend, what would it be?
Curry. I adore my curries so make them a lot and my favourite one is Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Spinach curry, I could live of that for months without getting bored and is always my go to when I don’t know what to have, plus it’s always a huge hit with my friends.
Well you know where we are if you ever want to drop by with a bowl. We’re big fans of your blog here at Too Good To Be HQ – what made you get in to blogging in the first place?
I was ill for a long time with one thing or another and as I was a web developer I decided to build Coeliac Sanctuary as something to keep me occupied, initially I wanted to just keep track of places I could eat at and have somewhere I could review them more for personal reference and somewhere to keep my recipes. From there I found my love of writing again and people kept visiting the website so it grew into something bigger than I ever imagined.
That’s great! It’s amazing to read a blog with so much passion and an obvious love for the gluten free community. To finish off, have you any advice for budding bloggers out there?
Write about whatever you want to write about. I’ve been asked a few times by bloggers that are starting up what they should write about, as in if it’s got “recipes” in the name should they stick to just recipes or if its about gluten free travel should they stick to just that topic. My answer is always the same though, write about what you what to write about as long as it loosely sticks to topic, at the end of the day you created a blog to write about what you want to write about, it’s just own little universe, so it should be up to you to choose what you write about.