Gluten Free: Bread Sticks & Dough Balls.

Okay, I’m not particularly great at putting recipes up on here. Perhaps then, this may lead you to believe I’m not a culinary genius? Alas, you would be mistaken!! Hmm, Actually, genius is probably a little bit too much of an ambitious description, but still……

The truth is, having lived with Coeliac Disease for 10 odd years, preparing & cooking gluten free meals, snacks & other yummies is somewhat second nature to my routine. It hadn’t occurred to me, that sharing these may be of some use to others, who find themselves in similar Gluten-avoidance circumstances.

Although eating out in restaurants presents a whole host of dietary dilemmas, Pizza Express & Zizzi score at the top of my ‘Gluten free Restaurants’. (I’m sorry, I know they’re not overly glam) They both serve (amongst other options) heavenly pizza, BUT they don’t have dough balls or bread sticks, which is a massive boo-boo. Hence, prompting me to experiment……..

cool bananas, cool bananas blog, gluten free, gluten free dough balls, gluten free bread sticksThese deeelish snacks are incredibly simple to make, with a relatively quick prep & cooking time (you will need to let the dough rise for 30-45 mins however). View Post

The Trouble with travelling & Coeliac disease

My trouble with traveling & being a ‘coeliac’. Enter Grumpy face (apologies in advance):

Grrrrrr. Travelling in London with Coeliac disease makes me pull this face. How unattractive!!

Grrrrrr. Travelling in London with Coeliac disease makes me pull this face. How unattractive!!

Off on a adventure? Regardless of the duration that your journey takes, I’m prepared to bet my bottom dollar that your bag will no doubt weigh a ton. You’ll want to be well prepared with food so that you’re never caught out. & Here lies another grumble of mine: this form of weight lifting contributes to my back shouting ‘owchieeee’ & pain that I could just do with out, thanks. Now in this instance, my example rant is just of a London trip, across the capital for a day of boring & laborious appointments. Traveling abroad? Well, that’s a topic worthy of its own post entirely.

oh, 'ello, 'ello London. We meet again

oh, ‘ello, ‘ello London. We meet again

I’m writing this from the waiting room of a major London hospital. & I happen think the worst place I’ve found for grabbing a ‘quick’ on the go lunch or snack free of gluten monsters are: Hospitals. The very place that’s supposed help contribute towards being ‘healthy’ (overlooking the germs & seasonal rounds of diarrhea & vomiting, but you get my drift) is the very place I fear the most for finding gluten free grub. The on site canteen may have a few options, but quite honestly looks like the dogs dinner, a monstrous pile of ‘slop‘ that I’d rather run in the opposite direction from than actually consume. You’ll find most London based hospitals now have the obligatory high street-franchised ‘coffee’ shop, oh & surprise surprise; they have absolutely no gluten free foods. Zilch. Bloody brilliant, isn’t it? Maybe I talk in a foreign tongue, for when in either of these establishments I ask the staff: what (if any) produce is gluten free? My question is often met by a blank expression & the really helpful response ‘what is gluten?’. (Um, that’ll be ‘nothing’ then?)

I don’t expect bob & his uncle (who is bob anyway?) to have a textbook understanding of coeliac disease & a encyclopedia full of gluten free products. I do think, those who are selling food should be educated/ wise with the knowledge to some level of their produce. After all, I’m not asking them to run off the whole list of ingredients. & To the point, they’re still a ‘sales(wo)man’ to some capacity, & you’re hardly ‘selling’ it to me with your blank reaction.

If you’re traveling to a static destination then I think these woes are put to rest somewhat. & If you have the luxury of time to research & find a gluten free ‘hero’ cafe & plan a diversion, this is all well & good. But on-the-go no time for diverting fills me with a little dread. What about you?

I did see on twitter just this last week that Warburton’s dedicated Gluten free range: Newburn bakehouse are now stocking a ‘wrap’ option in limited Starbucks’ outlets. & Whilst I applaud this, I emphasise the limited. On the subject of Newburn bakehouse, have you tried their wraps? In old fashioned ‘blue peter’ style….here is one I made earlier.

Mmm, gluten free wrap

Mmm, gluten free wrap- Brie & Rocket

I’ve also heard from fellow coeliac sufferers, that Café Nero is supposed to stock some gluten free sarnies, but it appears we are still waiting for this to materialize. Part of the issue in theses ‘high street’ outlets stocking good ole gluten free grab & go food, could in part be down to the lack of clarity on their products & packaging (& I refer you back to my previous point earlier about staff knowledge). Lets be honest, we generally have to exhaust the ingredients list to rule out any gluten nastiness, & when time is of the essence this just isn’t practical. If you’re anything like me & have doubts you just don’t take the risk.

In the same way that the UK high street & town scene has adopted the ‘café culture’ where you can easily take your pick from at least 3 coffee shops all within a stones throw of each other, I’m hopeful* for a future of ‘gluten-free-in-abundance-culture’. A future that sees all these said ‘cawfeee’ shops have on offer: several clearly marked, reasonable priced, gluten free ‘take out’ options. *Wishful might be more fitting!

At least on my homebound journey I can report that my bag, which at the start of the day nearly touched the floor, is now considerably lighter (after ingesting my yum yums) & I can relax knowing I’m heading back to my gluten free comfort zone.

Buh Bye London, you stayed dry today-bonus!

Buh Bye London, you stayed dry today-bonus!

 

 

An afternoon stroll…. Dulwich Park

After what feels like an entire season dedicated to rain, we were rewarded with relatively pleasant weather on Saturday..can i get a ‘hooray’?. All be it a lil’ nippy, it was dry! & The glorious winter sun made the occasional appearance *round of applause please*

Donning our warmish attire, we all bundled into the car & headed out to make the most of the afternoon. We popped over to Dulwich park, where Bear thoroughly enjoyed running in & out of the shrubbery with Daddy not far behind…

Watch out Dulwich park...wild child on the prowl

Watch out Dulwich park…wild child on the prowl

Bear engaged in one of his favorite skyward-bound activities-plane spotting .…

"pooh, plane!!"

“oooh, plane!!”

The dulwich park wildlife...

The dulwich park wildlife…

 

After a burst of energetic enthusiasm, it was time to ward off a chill by seeking a warm drink & a nibble from the village shops.

taking in the views On the way to the village

taking in the views On the way to the village

 

We stumbled upon Gail’s artisan Bakery. It was bursting at the seam with villagers & that’s sure to be a good sign so we dived in.

Little village bakery...

Little village bakery…

They had a nice selection of drinks, pastry goodies & a couple of gluten free choices. We were Happy campers! I had a tasty Green Tea & gluten free coconut macaroon, Bear & Daddy shared a couple of cookies……Someone likes chocolate

'Chocolate chops!!!'

‘Chocolate chops!!!’

Walking back from the village we took a little detour through Dulwich picture gallery.

Dulwich picture gallery

Dulwich picture gallery

The architecture, style & design of this place are very pleasing on the eye. Investigating it further will have to wait for another time as a little someone had a chocolate-induced-sugar-rush on the horizon & frankly a gallery is no place for this melt down to take place!

Dulwich day out I do love visiting this village; it has such a friendly feel. You feel welcomed & as if you’re part of the community, not something that you’d usually expect in a ‘London’ suburb. & Is it just me, or do you find the sun always shines in Dulwich?

It’ll probably be another year now until we visit again; we really should visit more often. If any of you have a ‘secret gems’ hidden away in Dulwich Village be sure to share them with me & it’ll give me the oomph to get back there sooner to investigate……

Leon: Gluten Free Restaurant Hero

The bright lights of leon

The bright lights of leon

I just want to feel ‘normal’. What is normal? I’m not too sure. But when I go out to eat at a restaurant it can be a nightmare trying to unravel if a dish has gluten in it. Although my friends & family are more than supportive, I can’t help but feel like it’s a bit of a drag for them also. Asking the waiter/ess about a dish, going back and forth to the ‘kitchen’ to ask the chef. Choosing something else & the same scenario being repeated until you can actually find a dish that is suitable. It doesn’t help when you have waiting staff that has a ‘I-would-rather-be-elsewhere’ attitude to boot, who don’t understand the implications of your dietary requirement & that sending them on countless visits to the kitchen isn’t your way of making them work for that tip. Nay, I have a medical condition.

Anywho (little rant out of the way!) you can imagine then, when you find a place which has a very clear menu with tons of dishes marked as ‘gluten free’ you can feel rather elated at your discovery! To top it off, these are tantalizingly tasty meals & pretty healthy. You feel like you’ve hit the jackpot! No more worrying & fussing over a menu, easy ordering & a lovely filled belly at the end. I’m a true believer in spreading the word about these gems, & my ‘Gluten Free restaurant Hero’ is without a shadow of a doubt Leon. LEON people!! It’s awesome.

The company itself seems pretty darn cool…. I love folks who are, as I call them ‘a purple cow’ Different and unique: not trying to reinvent the wheel, just reshaping it to create improvements .

Well done Leon, you rock!!

Leon. mmm. Wrap (not GF!) but a hearty salad that is!

Leon. mmm. Wrap (not GF!) but a hearty salad that is!

My chargrilled chicken salad. With rice.

My chargrilled chicken salad. With rice.

Lovely Leon Meatballs

Lovely Leon Meatballs

Chorizo sausage, salad & rice. Awesome combination!

Chorizo sausage, salad & rice. Amazing combination!

I will add, that it does appear restaurants in general are slowly taking note. I’ve seen more are now displaying a ‘gluten free’ section on the menu’s (even if it is only a handful of dishes). As the saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, so it’s a good place to start. My other argument is, if a restaurant can offer the same dish but as gluten free, by substituting a couple of components: why am I being charged extra? (happily, you won’t find this the case at Leon) That’s pretty unfair if you ask me. What gets my goat the most though, is those whom cop out totally by saying ‘all of our dishes may contain nuts or gluten’. This is just lazy. Lazy I say!

Note to all food establishments: Take heed of Leon, they’re onto something mighty fine.

Leon, You are my gluten free, go to, restaurant heroes: & I salute you!

Mmmm, anyone for Leon tonight?!

 

We're going on an adventure

Buh-Bye 2013…hello 2014!

WOW! It’s the middle of January already? When did that happen? 2013 has been & gone and 2014 is marching on ahead & I feel like I’m being left behind…  I have soooo much catching up to do & I don’t know where to begin. I like to think I tackle life & work head on, at this time of year though with so much mounting up (the dreaded tax return to name but one obstacle!) I think I stumble slightly. Instead of my usual hey-gusto attitude, I want to lock myself in a cupboard and I have a daydreaming thought maybe, just maybe, if I ignore my ever growing to-do-list, it might by some miracle just get done in an instant? I’m pretty sure I won’t be alone in this thinking, especially in January!

The Long Road Ahead... 'The Journey is The Destination'! Lets go 2014....

The Long Road Ahead… ‘The Journey is The Destination’! Lets go 2014….

 

I need to get the wheels in motion & maximise the potential of my blog. One sentence. That made it sound easy peasy! When? I’m struggling to find time… My little bear, is now a fully fledged toddellee waddeleee! To whom i find myself acting as an interpreter on a regular basis: translating his ramblings to others, that for some reason only a mother can understand clearly?! I can’t keep up with him, he is a Duracell bunny with no ‘off’ switch. I’d love to say that once the evening arrives I crack on with my blog/ work tasks, but I’m exhausted! Secondly, How? I haven’t got the technological savvy, know how or time to set up everything… I need twitter & instagram (to name a few) and link them back here. I need to sort out my blog SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimisation to you & me). I just about understand the concept of these, but it’s kind of a false economy to think it’s best for Me to configure all of this. By the time I work it out and get around to doing it, I’m far better off hiring a professional ‘tech wizard’ to take care of it within a couple of hours. Again How? It would cost money, how much? I’m a full time mummy who is rubbing her pennies together… I feel an Ebay surge a-coming! And Where? Does anybody out there know where I can find one of these modern day wizards? (I’m stuck by how similar the search for a reputable, trustworthy & good Tech wizard is to that of finding a Builder/ Plumber/ Electrician can be!) Suggestions on a post card to me, please!

Help! I'm lost in cyber space!

Help! I’m lost in cyber space! Technology overload!!

 

Going forward, Posts that I intend to get up on here over the next month include: My Gluten Free Christmas Dinner, More gluten free eating, Traveling with a toddler-our favourite picks, My top rated baby & toddler equipment-for the first 2 years. If you have any requests then please get in touch & I’ll have a look into them (either comment on this article or via the mememe contact section).

…..i bid you a fond farewell 2013, and brace myself for the journey ahead through 2014. & I look forward to world blog domination (after all, what is January without some wishful thinking?).