Why on earth would you want to go gluten free at Christmas? Surely it’s next to impossible and would ruin everything! Speaking as someone who has been gluten free for years and whose entire family are now gluten free (all for different reasons) I can tell you that far from ruining the culinary delights that we associate with Christmas it actually enhances them. After all, who wants to force their way through a Christmas pud that feels like a lead weight on their digestive system? If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, please can I take the liberty of introducing you to your tummy’s new best friend, gluten free flour!
Gluten free flour is available in all supermarkets. Dove’s range of flours are the best known and M&S make their own. Indeed, I would like to point out that M&S have a superb range of gluten free foods from savoury to sweet and have just launched a new cob and brown loaf which actually taste like…bread! However, my favourite thing about M&S is that they have made gluten free their default position on products like sausages and sausage meat! Needless to say, if you’re looking for some chipolatas without the heaviness of regular ones or if you’d like a ready stuffed turkey crown, then they have the answer. Even their turkey gravy is GF! They even have a gluten free mincemeat as do Sainsbury’s and Robertson’s mincemeat classic is available in Asda and Tesco. You will also find that many butchers are making some GF sausages and other produce.
But why bother in the first place? Well, if you suffer from digestive problems like wind, flatulence, bloating, IBS, and you know that you also feel a bit tired and unwell after eating bread, cakes, biscuits and other foods made with flour, then you are probably one of an increasing number of people who have a problem with wheat and gluten. There is an interesting historical reason for this and it is that the gluten in wheat based products is not the same as the stuff which our grandparents had the pleasure of. The grain has been hybridized to increase its yield and as a result it contains considerably more gluten. This little known fact is partly behind the increasing numbers of health problems linked to wheat in the diet and I defy anyone not to feel better after eating gluten free alternatives.
There was a time when going gluten free would have been a nightmare but as a result of a growing number of people turning their back on gluten, the food industry have gone into overdrive and even restaurants are now offering gluten free menu’s! Fish & Chip shops are doing GF nights and you can still get pizza and pasta (if you want to pig out occasionally!) at the likes of Pizza Express, Pizza hut, Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian and Domino’s. You can get GF beer at Pizza Express and your waiter at Jamie’s Italian will give you a personal lecture on what’s available! I will be posting a list of GF cafe’s and restaurants in Aberdeen shortly.
Where it can get a little tricky is when you buy processed foods (who wants to buy processed foods?!) as virtually everything uses wheat as a thickener or filler, even some medications! However, it’s like everything else in life…easy when you know how! Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a number of tips and GF recipes to keep you right. Please take the opportunity to try the GF lifestyle even for a month to see how you get on. We’d love to hear how symptoms improve. Apart from the obvious digestive benefits, many report improved moods, energy levels and quality of sleep. And of course, you will find it easier to lose weight! Indeed, if you’re one of those people who feel they eat healthily but struggle with their weight, as long as you don’t choose too many GF replacement foods like bread and cakes you will lose weight very easily. There is evidence that if you retain foods that your body doesn’t like you will find it very difficult to lose weight. The trick here is to eat fresh, ideally organic whole foods like fruit and veg, meat and fish and cook them yourself! That way you know what’s in them and you won’t fall prey to the evils of hidden gluten in ready meals. If M&S can forego gluten in their sausages and use GF breadcrumbs in sausage meat and fish dishes other manufacturers can too but we can certainly do it at home .Just use corn flour in place of plain flour in sauces and gravies and if you think about it, there aren’t that many times you would have reason to add this troublesome and unnecessary grain to meals so where’s the problem?
As for cakes and pies and all that naughty but nice stuff that requires flour, a number of tried and tested recipes and tips will follow.
However, I had trout and vegetables for dinner tonight and at home it wouldn’t have entered my head to add flour at any stage in the cooking! In a restaurant situation they may have had the fish dusted in flour or even offered you chips that have been dusted in flour (Watch out for this unnecessary nonsense in bought chips, it’s a no brainer!) My advice is to eat at home and enjoy the wonders of fresh and whole foods without contamination and when you do go out, check beforehand that there are GF alternatives or ‘choose’ from the many larger restaurant chains that cater very well for your needs. My other tip is to always have a plan if you’re going to be out all day so that you don’t fall short and reach for a no no! You’ll regret it when you try on a new outfit and your tummy bloats its way into the next dress size! Oh…and maybe have some safe snacks in your bag!
Well, I hope that’s given you some food for thought and look forward to sharing my Christmas treats with you…..x
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