Saturday, 5 January 2013

Why Be Vegetarian

Let joy be unconfined, the new year has brought an epiphany!  Finally, I know why I’m vegetarian.  I always knew lots of reasons to be vegetarian, that the thought of eating animals made me very uneasy and complicated, but when put on the spot by a meat eater at dinner, I’d hmm and erm, hem and haw, knowing that anything I said would sound woolly and shilly-shally and generally, well, vegetarian to those with meat in their ears.

But now I know.

A lightbulb moment - the coeliac understands why she's vegetarian

I shall give the weak one chance to escape.  “Are you sure you want to be raising this over this family breakfast / work lunch / Christmas Dinner while you’re all eating bacon and sliced beef and rack of lamb?”  I shall offer, cracking my knuckles.  Those that persist are asking for it.  So here it is.

My moment came because I used to walk to work through the fields, along the edge of a meadow containing sheep.  “Good morning!”   I would fancifully call and, because they got used to seeing me each day, they would greet me back and some would walk along side as far as their enclosure allowed. 

Now, I’m not a farm girl so it was a delightful surprise to me when one morning a lamb appeared with them and, that evening, another.  Over the coming days quite a picturesque little group had collected.  Have you ever sat and watched lambs?  They play all the time.  When they’re first born they stay close to their mother, all timid and wobbly, but as the weeks go by they get braver and more adventurous.  They make friends with the other lambs and go off to explore the furthest reaches of their space, trying to climb on hay bales, falling off and turning it into a leap so’s not to be embarrassed in front of their little lamb mates.  They are intrigued by a butterfly landing and scared by loud sudden noises.  Watch them this year, they are adorable and hilarious.

Anyway, back to the vegetarian bit.  One day, as I was coming back from work, the mothers ran towards me, wailing.  The panic, the terror, rolled off them in waves.  “Whatever’s the matter?!”  I exclaimed and looked around for the lambs and not a one was to be seen.  The lambs had been taken for slaughter.

The mothers walked along side me the whole way and I swear they were crying.  Even the ones who normally didn’t pay me much attention joined us and walked along in silent misery.  I didn’t have anything to say to them, but I knew this:  I wanted no part in their sadness. I couldn’t look them in the eye, could never travel this way to work, if I’d sat down for a dinner of one of their children.  It was a pivotal moment and I began wondering why I’d ever thought it was okay.

Would you eat your pet dog?  And I don’t mean if you had to.  I mean because he might be quite tasty and you could have him served up with his ribs sticking up on your plate which you could rip off and dip in bbq sauce?  Or, put him on a spit with a fruit in his mouth and invite your friends round to see slivers of him sliced off and put in buns for you all to eat together in the garden?  If not, why not?  Because dogs have a personality?  Well, newsflash, so do the other animals, we just don’t ever get to know them because we keep them imprisoned their whole lives.  In some countries it’s perfectly acceptable to eat dogs. 

I’ve read that a calf has the same awareness and intelligence as a three or four year old human child.  Think about that.  Would you eat a three or four year old human child?  What’s the difference?  Because their Mum and Dad would stop you?  Just like the cow tries to prevent her calf being taken?  Or because it’s wrong, fundamentally wrong, to kill and eat a sentient being? 
And what about disabled children, are they fine to eat?  They might find it hard to defend themselves, may find it impossible to communicate with us, so what, exactly, is the difference?  Why is that wrong, but another living creature is fair game?

Because we’ve been doing it for ages.  Because we can.  Because we don’t think about what we’re doing.

There are lots of reasons to choose to be vegetarian, from damage to the environment to effects on your health.  These are just mine.

Whenever meat is in front of me, I’m transported to the confused, terrified moments just before that creatures death.  The smell of blood, the stink of fear, the cries of those further ahead on the conveyor belt.  Do you think they don’t know what’s coming?  Would your toddler?  

And I remember those trapped mothers, crying for their stolen children.

The question looms as it is so often asked; “So, why are you a vegetarian?”  Bring it on.  “Why are you a meat-eater?”

Friday, 14 December 2012

Gluten-free Vegetarian Coeliac Christmas Recipes

First vegetarian coeliac Christmas?  It can be a bit of a culture shock, but there are lots of gluten-free, vegetarian recipes you can enjoy, for instance these from the gluten-free recipes page.

Gluten-free Christmas trees look a lot like wheat ones

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Poorly Vegetarian Coeliac (still gotta eat)

My sproglet's been ill.

Traditionally, when someone's under the weather, it's time to sup on chicken noodle soup and Lucozade. Things are different in Chez Vegetarian Coeliac. Here's what I fed my poppet to soothe her poorlies better.

Poorly Porridge  Gluten-free oats swerved with hot milk, chopped bananas and honey or cocoa powder, ground almonds and cranberries.

Peeled grapes and snuggly cuddles - what every poorly vegetarian coeliac needs

Eggy Bread Squares  Slice gluten-free bread into quarters.  Heat corn oil in a frying pan.  In a bowl, whip one egg per three slices.  Soak the squares.  Fry in the medium hot pan until it's a light golden colour.  Serve with sea salt, or smothered in cinnamon.  Cinnamon is an elixir for many poorlies because of its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  Plus, it tastes proper yum-ster.

Get Better Quick Thick Soup  In olive oil, fry together grated carrot, sliced leek, red onion and copious amounts of garlic and ginger.  Add soaked lentils, vegetable stock, salt, pepper, generous cinnamon and a tin of chopped tomatoes, then sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

Stewed Apple and Raisins  flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Mashed Potato Islands Surrounded by a Tomato Soup Ocean  Speaks for itself.  It's fun to put a few steamed broccoli trees on the island and a red pepper cave.

Boiled Eggs with Marmite Soldiers  Go on, draw a smiley face on the shell.  You know you want to.

Rice Congee
Cauliflower and Garlic Soup (cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C)
Life Saving Dahl

(All better now!)

Todays Sources: The Top 100 Healing Foods by Paula Bartimus and Reader's Digest Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal

Friday, 26 October 2012

All Food Intolerances are Not the Same!

Today I noticed that my friend, a Conventional Eater, keeps my ‘special’ food separate from hers, even when it's sealed in a box.  Whose food is she protecting from contamination?

“Thank goodness you’re here!”  Another friend exclaims  “This would have been wasted otherwise!” And she hands me a half carton of lacto-free milk.

"I've saved this for you!" another holds out an open box of something, at a lunch party this time, "It's only just past its sell-by date but it's organic and contains no fructose or nuts.  So I thought of you."

Vegetarian coeliacs celebrate their free 'other intolerance' special food!

I am not lactose intolerant, I can take a bath in milk if I choose to, with no ill-effects whatsoever.  Fructose I can eat until the cows come home and I love nuts, just check with my family.  How come, in the minds of the conventional eaters, these things makes sense?  It’s your foods that make us sick, not the other way round.

Would we rush up to a blind person and thrust upon them the crutches left over from when our brother broke his ankle?  Would we offer the hairdresser our blunt nail-scissors to save them going to waste?  We would not, we would deem it inappropriate.  And so would you, wheat-munchers.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to use my milk surplus to create a delicious and totally gluten-free rice-pudding.  Now THAT makes sense.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Funny Vegetarian Coeliac :-)

Cheer up, you're a vegetarian coeliac!  If you have some good  vegetarian and coeliac recipes you can feel like you can do anything, BUT however hard it is to get the protein, never add quinoa to a cauliflower cheese. Trust me on this, it'll taste like something you boiled in your granny's under garments and even your child won't eat it.

Be sure to know the difference between Endame (beans) and Edema (swelling of the joints) before you try to add them to your chunky casserole (boom tish!) and finally, adding lemon juice to a cheese sauce is likely to make your dinner look like it's already been eaten.

Thanks folks, I'll be here all week.  Now for a funny short film about food intolerance:

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Gluten-free Diet and Weight Loss

The profile of coeliacs disease is rising.  Sometimes, it's okay to be a follower.   This is not one of those times.

I overheard (and butted into) a conversation about gluten-free diets being slimming.  Anyone else thinking along those lines, please let me stop you there.  Choosing the gluten-free option in supermarkets and restaurants won't help you lose weight.  Not even one ounce.  Gluten-free is not the same as low-calorie.

It's true to say lots of coeliacs are slim. This is for two main reasons.  Firstly, lots of processed foods contain gluten.  Lots of processed foods also contain high quantities of sugars and fat.  Until very recently, coeliacs had to avoid most processed foods and cook from raw, natural ingredients to ensure being gluten-free.  Therefore, they were also, missing out on lots of the added fat and sugar.

The other reason is that coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease, where the intestinal lining becomes damaged, resulting in it being harder for coeliacs to absorb the nutrients from food. Therefore, coeliacs need to pay much more attention to the nutritional value of foods to avoid developing other conditions caused by malnutrition.

A sad vegetarian coeliac, before the gluten-free diet. Pardon.

If you haven't been told by your doctor or other medical professional that you must, then here are five good reasons not to follow a gluten-free diet:

1.) A gluten-free diet is very restrictive. No chip shop chips.  No doughnuts at work because it's someone's birthday.  No 'pop into the corner shop and grab me a sandwich'.

2.) A gluten-free diet is very expensive.  Replacement items like bread and cereal cost about three times as much as their glutenated* counterparts.

3.) A gluten-free diet can be anti-social.  Eating out is a real fuss and stress.

4.) A gluten-free diet can cause problems for your friends and family when thy entertain you, because they don't understand what you can and can't eat.  Cue more fuss and stress.

5.) A gluten-free diet is hard work.  A coeliac can never 'cheat' or take the day off.  A coeliac must make sure that every mouthful is nutritious.

Yes, I know Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga do it.  Would you follow their advice about which way to vote?  If they began trepanning, would you do that too?

Nobody in their right mind wants to be coeliac.  Being coeliac means that when you look at a menu, most of the things on it are poison and could cause you to die. 

If it's weight loss you want, speak to your doctor or a healthcare professional.  Yes, avoid processed foods. Yes, eat less sugar and fats. But nooooo, don't avoid gluten; you could make yourselves ill, and who wants that?

*I've copywrite-ed that word actually.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Heavenly Gluten-Free Apple and Almond Sponge Cake Recipe

Yesterday, there was nothing sweet to eat in the house.  I roved the upstairs and down, wildly throwing open and slamming shut cupboard doors searching for junk food and then, in desperation, I made this.   Gluten-free, vegetarian, Apple and Almond Sponge.

You can eat it warm from the oven, hot with vanilla custard or cool with a cup of tea (like I am today).  

To make it you'll need:

100g of softened butter
100g of castor sugar
3 eggs
2 serving spoons of milk
3 red eating apples
200g of gf self-raising flour blend (I used Doves Farm)
100g of ground almonds
1 teaspoon of baking powder

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and grease (or line) a loaf tin.
Use the back of a wooden spoon to cream the butter and sugar together.  
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  
Peel, core and grate the apples.
Blend together the flour and ground almond.  
Mix everything together and spoon into the loaf tin.

This took about 35 mins to bake, which frankly, was far too long.  I would have taken a photo but there wasn't time before we started eating it and it's all gone now.  

Here's how I feel about the whole thing:

Gluten-free Apple and Almond Contentment

Monday, 10 September 2012

How to eat when camping - a holiday eating plan for the vegetarian coeliac

Eating when you’re vegetarian and gluten free is challenging.  Wrap the cooking / eating experience up in some khaki microfiber that has lied about being waterproof, throw in 41mph winds, remove all space and convenience and you're obviously enjoying tenting it on a camping holiday. And why not, it's summer!  

The vegetarian coeliac camper stands to attention in a silent salute to the departing tent.

I recently joined in with the delightful ritual of the family camping holiday with the organisational skills of Hitler's speed-addicted older sister with PMT.  As a Special person with Special Dietary Needs, TRUST NO-ONE to meet them but yourself.  Get informed and pack well.  Here's what I did.

The things in bold were prepared at home.  The dishes with a star* are my recipes.  The others, um, aren't.

Breakfast - gluten-free cereal, milk, bread, cheeses, fruits, fruit juice

BBQ - Red Pepper, salmon, butter, burgers, bananas, chocolate
If you eat fish, wrap the salmon in tin foil with butter.  

Sweet Potato Curry* –  potatoes, onion, oil, tinned toms, curry paste*.  
Peel and chop the potato into about 1cm cubed, they'll cook more quickly.  Chop the onion.  Heat the oil.  Add the ingredients in the order listed.    

Chickpea Gumbo* – Olive oil, butter, chickpeas, courgette, garlic, tinned and fresh toms, green pepper, salt, parsley.  Chop the courgette into 1cm cubes.  Peel and finely chop the garlic. Heat the oil and butter together.  Add the ingredients in the order listed, allowing the chickpeas and courgette time to soften before adding the rest. 

Lime Dahl* – Oil, garlic, red lentils, coconut milk, lime, coriander.
All goes into the saucepan together, stir through fresh coriander last of all.

Tuna, Butterbean and Leek Savoury – leek, carrot, tuna, water, milk, nutmeg, lemon, butterbeans, teaspoon of cornflour, ground black pepper.  Chop the carrot into matchsticks. Slice the leeks and add them both to the saucepan with a little water for a heavy steam. Once they're soft, add all the other ingredients.

Pizzapizza flour mix, warm water, tom puree, mozzarella, pineapple.
Sounds unlikely?  As successful as we have at home.  Firstly, mix the pizza base mix (haven't given you that recipe yet, but I'll link it from here when I do) with oil and water and leave it in a covered bowl in the hot tent to prove.  Later, roll it out and fry it.  Once it's done on one side and about half way on the other, add the toppings and let the heat melt them.

Snacks - flapjacks*, crisps, rice cakes, peanut butter, seed bars

It's not fine dining, but it's really, really easy.  And it will give you plentymuch energy to go gorge-scrambling or horse taming or whatever wonderful activity you have planned for your leisure.

Furthermore, here's my best tent camping advice.  I hope it helps you.

1.) Plan the menu.  I planned for one main meal and one breakfast per day, plus snacks.  This ensured we wouldn't starve, but left room for accepting invitations and eating out.

2.) List necessary items and then pack all of them, even if they do look heavy, embarrassing or useless.

3.) Check the campsite doesn't have an anti-glass policy because they will steal your peanut butter from your food stash as soon as you get there, forcing you to purchase another one from their shop at £3.69 and give you your change for a twenty in 50p's.

4.) Get Insect Repellent.  You really did need it.

5.) Never pitch your tent on a steep slope especially if you have a shiny groundsheet and slippery airbed.

6.) Remember the matches or lighter!  Don't buy a box of matches from the campsite shop which will get soggy in your leaky kagool pocket because you stopped to help someone who's tent had blown into their BBQ.

8.) Book into a spa hotel.  Take sandwiches.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Gluten-free Pizza

Dominoes America is advertising a gluten-free crust to their pizza and it's hard to know how to feel about it.  

1.) Their helpful video states that the base is less than 20ppm therefore it is technically gluten-free.  Yay.

The vegetarian coeliac throws up her hands in amazement at the gluten-free pizza

2.) A big fat disclaimer says they can't be recommended as 'suitable for coeliacs' because they are made in a common kitchen and there is a risk of cross-contamination.  Boo.

3.) It's in America.  I live in the UK.  I don't think they'd deliver and if I go for pick-up it'll be cold before I get home.  Again boo.

4.) But this is a step in the right direction.  Where America leads we inevitably follow and what can't be recommended for coeliacs yet may be in the future. Big Yay.

Their message is clear - coeliacs say no!  If you're gluten-sensitive however, and the worst that'll happen is some uncomfortable bloating and mild embarrassment, well, use your discretion, warn your friends and dial D for Dominoes.

There are frozen, ready-made, gluten-free pizzas appearing in the freezer sections of many supermarkets, or you can always bake your own which is better for you and the only reliable way you can be sure it's safe.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Dining and Dating

Hot, Vegetarian, Coeliac WLTM Person who is Not Put Off by the Embarrassment Inherent in Ordering Food with a Vegetarian Coeliac on a First Date.  Sense of Humour Preferred.

The vegetarian coeliac and a chum enjoy a terrific first date together.
Does such a person exist?  Recent dates suggest not.  Candidates have fallen into three clear categories:

The Coward:  First meeting.  Go for a coffee.  Another coffee.  Several coffees later, I'll cook lunch.  The dinner date suggestion.  The cancellation.  The comedy night suggestion.  The coffee.

The Over-Compensator: Announces loudly at the restaurant that I am 'the one we spoke about'. Speaks to the waiting staff as if I'm a child, or deaf, or mute, or all three.  Is surprised when I demur an inspection of the kitchen.  Recommends a website I might find helpful.  Brings out a list of approved foods.

The Cool-Cat: Determined not to make a scene, the cool-cat peruses the menu with sardonic disinterest, then gives it all away by worrying when I don't eat everything on the plate.  

If you've recently turned gluten-free, then I hope you are in a settled committed relationship, or very happy single, or two months old, so that by the time you want to start dating people might have got over their fears that a vegetarian coeliac may spontaneously combust, or dump you, if we look at meat, or eat a mis-matched meal.  It's no reflection on you if our dinner is rubbish.  

It is tricky being vegetarian and coeliac, but it's not a disea- oh it is a disease.  Okay well it's not like . . .  I mean it's just . . . it's just that we have to be careful about what we eat that's all.  And we know what we can and can't eat.  So trust us to be able to take care of it.  

Here's a happy role-play, let's try - 

You: Would you like to go on a date with me?
The hot, vegetarian, coeliac:  Ooh, yes please.
You:  What would you like to do?
The hot, vegetarian, coeliac: Anything except eat out.  


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Festival Fever and the Gluten-Free Vegetarian

It's festival season and all over the country people are travelling huge distances to sleep in cold, muddy fields in the hope of seeing their favourite acts, which you know will begin to perform as soon as it starts raining and a 6'4" Australian stands in front of you.

Ffestival Ffalafel
And despite being knee-deep in the stuff, so that tents are floating past and it takes three quarters of an hour to wade from your tent to the main arena, there will be no water to the showers, or to the taps for teeth brushing, and enormous queues of sweaty people will form in front of tiny tents to collect minuscule bottles of complimentary water and feel grateful.  Cold, but grateful.

Ah yes, the British summer festival!  Good times!

And one of the highlights of the festival, besides a hot cup of tea and the moment you join the queue of cars to go home, is the array of foods on offer.  Eating brings respite from the elements, usually seating is provided, sometimes shelter from the weather and briefly you may feel warm and optimistic. 

But what does the vegetarian coeliac eat?  Where is the gluten-free and vegetarian food at a festival? 

You'll be glad to know it's easier than on the average highstreet.  There's so much on offer and a quick 360 is likely to reveal a Chappatiman, Manic Organic, Burgers and Chips, Moorish Feast, Falafel Wagon, Gujarati Rasoi, La Grande Bouffe, Vegetarian Heaven,  Pitta Party and a Pieminister among others.  Almost overwhelming choice.

English, Arabic, French, Mexican, Italian, Caribbean, Greek, a world of food is represented and the quality is better now than it has ever been.  Step away from the pasta noodles and burger buns and let's see what's really on offer. 

From the above list, bizarrely, I would steer clear of the vegetarian option.  In my experience it will be all vege-burgers and Linda McCartney-in-a-bun and though it will be the easiest choice for wheat-munchers, the vegetarian coeliac will be hard pressed to dodge the gluten.

Likewise chips, although themselves gluten-free, are cooked in oil contaminated by batter, so are likely to cause a gluten reaction.

If you eat fish I recommend seeking a Goan fish curry.  If you don't, try Yam the Cassava or Madras Cafe, neither of which make much use of flour in their cooking.  Anything Greek or Caribbean also generally offers naturally gluten-free food with multiple vegetarian options.  Mexican can be a good choice if the tortillas are corn.

Or there's always taking your own and cooking in the traditional way around an open gas stove in the drizzle. 

Wow I can hardly wait.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Blog status: critical

You may have noticed I've not posted much recently.  This is because of a technical blog problem.  Every time I move away from the Dashboard I get signed out, which means I can't post comments anywhere or make new blog friends. 

I've tried to fix it.  ALOT.  I've also put my laptop down and flounced off in a strop.  Neither of these things has worked.

If you are a pro-blogger, or just a fabulously amazing person with a clue PLEASE HELP because Wordpress is befuddling my strained brain and I'm not convinced I can be bothered to start afresh elsewhere. 

Plus, I like this blog.  It's pretty.  I want it to work properly. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Gluten in unexpected places . . .

Just to freak you out, here's a list of surprising things that often contain gluten:

Adhesive tape, antibiotics, antiseptics, communion wafers, cortisone cream, cosmetics, envelope gum, fabric softener, hair dye, hair spray, lip balm, lip gloss, perfumes containing glycol and parabens, shampoo, soap and toothpaste.

Happily, the amounts absorbed into the body from these are so tiny that most people don't have any reaction at all.  For those of you who follow a strict vegetarian coeliac diet and are still suffering, investigate these at once! (and stop licking the soap)

We can still see you Gluten.

Monday, 11 July 2011

New and Improved Recipes and You!

Picture the scene.  You've been buying the same snack bar for ages, it's a reliable old friend that you can chuck in your big yellow handbag anytime.  You reach out a hand for it for it and BAM!  The words 'New and Improved Recipe!' are emblazoned across the front.  Oh dear oh dear. 

Ooh tempting, tempting . . .
Of course you will check the ingredients at once.  And discover that they're fine and everyone will be happy and dance together and celebrate with pinatas.  Or not.  But you've been lucky this time.  Some food manufacturers are sneaky and won't warn you so blatantly, so you have to stay on your toes. 

Any packaging re-design is a clue the manufacturers have been meddling, so be familiar with your favourite products.  Alterations in the artwork are just as significant as changes to the words, so if you notice something different, do check.  

And no excuses about not having your glasses with you at the supermarket - a good vegetarian coeliac never goes shopping without her reading glasses.

If you can't remember what you're looking for (and I don't mean your glasses) check out Wheat AKA . . . for beginners or Jargon-Bustin Part 2

Finally, the Coeliac Society has a Food and Drink Directory you can access as a member, which is especially useful if you eat a lot of processed foods.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Understanding gluten-free labelling changes

What does it mean when some foods are labelled 'suitable for coeliacs', some 'gluten-free' and others 'very low gluten'?  Is very low gluten also suitable for coeliacs?  Here's a handy, pocket-sized guide to understanding.

Gluten-free hula hoop girl (bootylicious)

The standard for safe levels of gluten is decided by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is part of the World Health Organisation.

In 1981, the Commision set standard for labelling things as gluten-free at 200 parts of gluten per million (ppm).   So some companies labelled their products 'suitable for coeliacs'.

This standard was changed in 2008 to a dual standard:

Gluten Free = less than 20 ppm

Very Low Gluten = less than 100ppm and over 20ppm

The Food industry has three years to bring about improvements in manufacturing methods and then legislation becomes mandatory in Jan 2012.

Notice that both of these levels are lower than the current labelling standard.  Perhaps some products will lose their labelling rights but there are three happy thoughts here:

1. If you could eat it before you can still eat it now.  It's not the food that has changed, just the labelling*.

2. People with different levels of sensitivity are being accommodated.

3. Labelling standards are stricter, so from Jan 2012, things that are labelled 'very low gluten' or gluten-free' will are even more likely to be safe to eat than before.

So maybe confusing in the interim, but ultimately good news.

*bearing in mind the usual warnings about the terrfying phrase 'new and improved recipe'.  What do you mean I haven't given you those warnings yet?  Wha'?  Really?  Are you sure?  Oh. 

Coming Soon! - Warnings About New and Improved Recipes.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A gluten-free vegetarian pantry

Even when it's like today and Old Mother Hubbard has snuck in and taken over the kitchen, you can still find these ingredients:

Whole grain brown rice
Arborio risotto rice
Gluten-free oats
Cows or almond milk
Brown rice flour
Potato flour
Assorted nuts
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Red split lentils
Olive oil
Walnut Oil
An array of growing and dried herbs, especially coriander


When you've got these you can make:
jamaican ginger cake (yum), flapjacks, pizza bases, risotto, creme brulee, honey and fennel peanuts (doubleyum), biscuits, scrambled eggs, roast chicken (that one's actually not true), boiled eggs, fried eggs, raw eggs and schoup.  So you're always safe in a midnight hunger pangs emergency.

Dear Mrs. Hubbard, You're Dumped!  Love the Mice XX p.s. thanks for the risotto
Almost everything I cook contains at least one of these ingredients, usually several.  If you couple them with whatever is fresh and in-season it's almost impossible not to create an appetizing and nutritious meal.  Try them, you'll be glad you did. 

Unless you don't like delicious food, in which case you might be a little bit peeved*

*The management reserves the right to accept no responsibility for you making mediocre food.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Eating Out, vegetarian coeliac style.

So my daughter wanted to take me out to dinner. 

As she isn't yet old enough to drive,or have a job, and therefore survives on what meagre pennies she can prise from my cold, tight fingers, this was a massive undertaking to begin with. Add in the special dietary requirements of a vegetarian coeliac and the task is herculean.  Using the admirable skills of slyness, deviosity and cunning (I am so proud) she enlisted the help of an adult friend and arranged a whole evening. 

Here's a survival guide of how to handle the gluten-free, vegetarian night out:

1. Give the chef plenty of time to rise to the challenge.The restaurant was warned weeks in advance that I was coming with my special dietary needs and many a conversation was had.  This is totally the way to do it.  I generally find that most people don't want to poison me.

2. Choose what you are told.  Choices were offered, three per course, but it was clear from the way the server told us about them that there was one in particular the chef wanted to cook.  Go with this choice; it's what they're most prepared for.

3. Avoid toasted bread.  When they know you are coming, most good restaurants provide gluten-free bread with the meal, however, you're pushing it if you think they've bought a brand-new gluten-free toaster to toast it in, which brings me to my next point . . .

4. If you're not ill, be grateful.  In a commercial kitchen it's difficult to avoid cross-contamination on work surfaces, toasters, grills, breadboards etc.  Maybe the bread is gluten-free, but they slice it in the 'bread nook' which has crumbs, or they don't know to use a toaster-bag, or they don't realise that using the scoop from the ordinary tomato soup will contaminate your gluten-free version.  Whatever it is, however hard they try, it is likely that a slip-up will be made.

Don't be mad.  There's a lot to this vegetarian coeliac lark and it's not easy or straightforward and although it is now taught in UK schools as part of their Food Technology syllabus, it wasn't taught when I was a lass so most people in their 30's and above are learning.  The more you help them before the meal, the more likely they are to get it right.

Anyway, I had a brilliant time, there was much gluten-free cake and much reciting of the periodic table.

Thanks very much, favourite daughter!! Xx

(If forward planning is not your thing, stock up your store cupboards and cook at home using this vegetarian and gluten-free recipes page.)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Is Marmite gluten-free?

Yes, in the UK at least.  Here's the list of the UK marmite ingredients:

Is Marmite gluten-free and suitable for coeliacs?

  • Yeast Extract

  • Salt

  • Vegetable Extract

  • Niacin

  • Thiamin

  • Spice Extracts

  • Riboflavin

  • Folic Acid

  • Celery Extract

  • Vitamin B12

  • In fact you might consider Marmite to be a useful source of Thiamin and Riboflavin, which non vegetarian coeliacs can get from cereals and bread.

    And just to confirm, yes marmite is suitable for vegetarians.

    Marmite is great with cheese and also, surprisingly, spring onions and avocado. 

    Whether you want to 'eat it, . . . bathe in it, wallow in it like a hippo in mud, slather yourself from head to toe' and wrap yourself up in gluten-free bread and butter, it's all good.

    No, I'm not sponsored by Marmite and I don't have shares in the company, but I'm always pleased to add a versatile ingredient to our meagre store. 

    Here's that list of safe, gluten-free, vegetarian ingredients.

    Now grab your rice cakes and let's get sticky.

    Todays source: Tony Hall, Careline Advisor, Unilever

    Friday, 10 June 2011

    Is it safe to be a vegetarian coeliac? Nutrition and health implications of a gluten-free vegetarian diet.

    It is a challenge to follow a vegetarian coeliac diet.  In my experience, the first 7 years are the hardest.  Happily, the big consolation is; not only have you eliminated your gluten-induced symptoms, it is most likely you are a lot healthier than your friends.  Here's how.

    The smug and perky vegetarian coeliac and a meat-eating chum in 50 years time. 

    A balanced vegetarian diet should include vegetables, legumes/pulses, fruits, nuts and seeds, gluten-free grains (and maybe dairy products).  A combination of these at each meal puts the nutritional value way up high and the saturated fat level, very low.

    There is a lot of evidence to suggest that vegetarians live longer and suffer less diseases such as coronary artery disease, type II diabetes, hypertension, obesity, strokes and some forms of cancer. 

    Of course, there are a lot more factors affecting health and longevity than just diet.  There's smoking, body mass index, relaxation, excercise, genetics, high risk sports, social class.  And you cannot stuff your face with gluten-free chips and chocolate at every meal and still expect that birthday card from the Queen. 

    But if you do it right, making meals from the gluten-free vegetarian recipes offered on this site, then you too can feel smug and perky.

    You can find out more here: The Oxford Vegetarian Study: "death rates were lower in non-meat-eaters than in meat eaters for each of the mortality endpoints studied."   The Vegetarian Society: " A vegetarian diet based on whole grains, pulses (beans and lentils), vegetables, nuts and seeds will also be naturally high in fibre and low in saturated fat, which are both good for health."  American Dietetic Association:"“Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diet, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”  

    Monday, 6 June 2011

    A vegetarian coeliac dinner

    I had Sunday dinner with Ma and Pa.  Not yours, obviously.  Unless there's a LOT they've not been telling me.  No I had dinner with my Ma and Pa and I approached it with trepidation because we don't eat together often and, well, when I lived with them Findus' Crispy Pancakes were staple.

    Vegetarian sprouts, gluten-free and suitable for coeliacs

    Ma has recently gone to a lot of trouble and invested in several vegetarian cookery books especially for my benefit.  They're totally aware of the whole gluten-free thing and had been shopping especially.  And Dad has really stepped up to the mark recently and is showing a lot of kitchen action (cooking).  What could possibly go wrong?

    I'll tell you what went wrong.  The put out an enormous, delicious-looking spread, of which half the things were gluten-free, the other half were vegetarian and only the sprouts were both.

    Oh sprouts.  I love you still, but I think we shouldn't see each other for a while.

    For dinner ideas that are both vegetarian and gluten-free, suitable for coeliacs, check out the vegetarian (and vegan) gluten-free recipe page.

    For other D'oh! moments by non-vegetarian coeliac people lick here.  (And if that doesn't work try clicking it with your mouse pointer).

    Thursday, 2 June 2011

    Kelloggs Gluten-free Rice Crispies

    I am soooooooo excited!  Those of you familiar with this blog will be aware of how I feel about breakfast (LOVE IT) and very shortly there will be a new, super-convenient way to start the day.  Kelloggs are launching gluten-free rice crispies, in ordinary sized boxes and, rumour has it, at the same price as gluten-ated (TM) crispies!  Here's the announcement.

    I'm expecting to see it on the cereal aisle at any moment.

    It's so normal!

    But the big question is: Will they still snap! crackle! and pop! ?

    Gluten-free Rice Crispies
    You might also like Can coliacs eat oats?, Gluten-free breakfast ideas, and How to Eat Porridge

    Tuesday, 31 May 2011

    Today I mostly ate . . . (two vegetarian coeliac recipes)

    Felt like I needed some tlc today so I hit the kitchen!

    Firstly I made a Carrot and Coriander soup.  D-lish.  No sugar, no fat, a little oil, lots of nutritional benefit. Then I whipped up a batch of gluten-free flapjacks (you are aware by now of my love-affair with oats), finally two loaves of coeliac-friendly bread, one of which is baking right now, the house smells gorgeous and I've bounced back.

    Here are my recipes for the soup and bread, (flapjacks another time).

    Soup (serves 2)
    Put the kettle on to boil.

    Grate or finely chop 2 carrots.

    Strip and finely chop 2 sticks of celery.

    Chuck them into a large saucepan over a medium heat and fry them with a tablespoon of olive oil for about 4 minutes.

    Use the boiled water to make 1 litre of gluten-free vegetable stock.

    Pour the stock and around 200g of red lentils into the pan and bring to the boil.

    Give it a whizz with the hand-blender.  Add a large handful of fresh coriander and simmer until you're hungy.

    Eat.  Smile.  Know that you are good.

    Please be warned; I make bread because what I make is better than I can buy, not because I'm 'into' the art of bread making.  Purists, stop reading now!

    Beat together 14 fluid ounces (320g) of milk, 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of ground nut oil, 1 tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of vinegar. 

    Pour the liquid into a breadmaker pan if you have one.

    Pre-heat your oven to 210 degrees C.

    Sieve together150g of  Doves Farm brown bread flour blend, 100g of Doves Farm white bread flour blend, 70g of rice flour and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Add them to the liquid.

    Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of yeast on the top of the mixture.

    Let your breadmaker do the hard work while you dance around your living room with no trousers on, singing into a Mr Sheen can*.

    After 10 minutes dedicated mixing, by you or your machine, put the gloopy mess into a buttered loaf tin and slip it into the oven for around 40, maybe 45 minutes.

    After 15 or so minutes, the top will have risen spectacularly and you will need to cover it to prevent burning, while the base cooks.



    Mmmmmm I'm well-fed, the bread's baked and I'm sleepy now. 

    No photos, really not my style, but here is a picture of a potato I found in the cupboard yesterday  that looked remarkably like a carrot (except for the colour).
    The Carrato?  It's definately not a Parrot.

    Saturday, 28 May 2011

    Gluten-free JD and coke anyone?

    Great News for vegetarian coeliacs!
    Happily, according to the people at the distillery, Jack Daniel's Black Label Tennessee Whiskey "has no carbohydrates (sugar or starch), gluten, fats, or cholesterol, as these are removed in the distilling process". 

    And in answer to the question 'Are your drinks suitable for someone with a gluten intolerance or coeliacs disease?', the Coca Cola peeps say "Yes.  None of the Coca-Cola or Schweppes brands contain gluten, milk, egg or soya."
    For more on alcohol, click here

    I love you.  I real' really do.

    Tuesday, 24 May 2011

    Great Songs for Vegetarian Coeliacs

    Barry Manilow - Read 'em (the ingredients) and weep . . .

    Bay City Rollers - Bye Bye Bakewells, (Bakewells Goodbye) . . .

    Bread - Be Kind To Me . . .

    Bon Jovi - Livin' on a Prayer (because there's nothing here I can eat) . . .

    Bruce Springstein - Hungry Heart . . .

    Clash - Should I Eat or Should I Know? . . .

    Culture Club - Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me?!

    Dire Straits - Money for Nothing (especially when it comes to cereal)

    Frank Zappa - Call Any Vegetable . . .

    Genesis - Misunderstanding . . .

    Hall and Oates - I Can't Go for That . . .

    Paul McCartney - Take It Away (I can see Croutons) . . .

    Smiths - Please, please, please, Let Me Get What I Want (for this recipe) . . .

    Squeeze - Tempted . . .

    Thompson Twins - Doctor, Doctor . . .

    Weird Al Yankovic  - Eat It . . .

    Yes - Leave It . . .

    Vegetarian Coeliacs Rock Out!
    What a totally awesome night.