easy gluten free

Udi’s Gluten Free – Review

I was delighted to be contacted by Udi’s a few weeks back, offering to send me some of their products to try and review.  I’d already treated myself to some of their bagels a few months earlier and been very impressed, so was keen to have a try of some of their other products.

The bootie was delivered to work and the first thing to be tried was the “Chocolate Flavour Sandwich Cookies” which were shared out between my colleges (none of whom are gluten free themselves) – these look & I’m assured taste, very much like Oreos. Perhaps a hint at the American origins of Udi’s products.  If I’ve ever eaten an Oreo, I don’t remember it, but these were delicious. My colleague Paul even suggested they’re better than the originals that they’re clearly in honour of, as they’re slightly less sweet.

 

GF Oreos

I will certainly be trying these again – not least as I saw an amazing chocolate cake recipe recently which used Oreos as the base. I’m also told that twisting the top off of one of these biscuits and adding peanut butter is a treat not to miss…I’ll report back on this!!

Next up to be tried was the Chocolate Chip and Toffee Flavoured Muffins – I was a bit disappointed to start with that my muffin didn’t have any toffee in it and then realised that the pack of two has one chocolate chip muffin and one with toffee – they were both delicious, very moist and not at all crumbly (which is what tends to happen when I’ve made my own muffins recently!) – my non-bf boyfriend was also really impressed with these, when I gave in and let him have a try.

I took the Chocolate Chip Bagels to a friend’s house when I stayed over, as I’m never sure how easy it will be to have a gluten free breakfast when staying away. I’d previously had the Cinnamon and Raisin bagels and these were just as good – very chocolatey and again, no different from the bagels I had before going gluten free (assuming my memory stretches back that far!). We had them toasted with cream-cheese – really indulgent!

The Ancient Grain Crisps did not go down so well. They tasted rather over processed to me. But from a secure fan of Ready Salted crisps, perhaps this is not that surprising. I don’t really understand why you would really want to make a special kind of gluten free crisps when most (is that pushing it?) crisps are gluten free anyway. Not something I would buy, but if you love highly flavoured crisps, these might be for you.

The Chocolate Banana Cereal Bars were a surprise, as I don’t like bananas, but these were a great pre-gym snack first thing in the morning (when most people would probably just have…well…a banana!) Really chewy and not too sweet – the kind of thing it’s good to have in your bag for an emergency if you find yourself stuck at a railway station. They do taste of banana, but the chocolate took the edge off for me & I’ll probably get these again.

The Breakfast Bars are another homage – this time to Kellogs Nutrigrain bars – (although I guess this may not be as intentional as the ‘oreos’ mentioned above). I took these along camping and they ended up getting passed around when we couldn’t be bothered to make a proper breakfast. They’re great if you’re looking for a replacement for an old favourite – but I didn’t find them particularly full of flavour.

Overall I was pretty happy with my Udi’s haul – a bundle of sweet treats. I would imagine that their arrival in the UK from the USA will be a blessed relief to a lot of people who have been diagnosed with Celiac or other gluten intolerance who do not want to give up their previous eating habits. With a lot of gluten free alternatives to popular foods.

For me, these will only ever be occasional treats. It made me realise how ‘clean’ I eat these days – I was bamboozled by the list of ingredients for some of these products, although they are no worse than a lot of other food you’ll buy on the supermarket shelves. My favourite items (perhaps predictably given the above statement) were the ‘Simple’ Granolas, with an ingredients list of just three items. I was expecting them to be rather sweet like the other products, but they weren’t at all and were perfect mixed in with yogurt & fruit in the morning – a really great way to get some extra fibre – something I find hard at times.

I recommend you look Udi’s up when you’re craving a sweet treat – it’s great to be able to chow down on some goodies without any fear of a glutening – it’s always the naughty treats that catch me out. They are good quality and will appeal to non-gluten free eaters too!

 

Summer Salads

Preparing food to take to work is so much easier in the summer time. I could probably prepare a different salad combination every day, although I tend to make a batch to eat two or three days in a row.

This week I got my hands on some lovely beetroot at the local market and was very pleased with the resulting salad. Really simple, really fresh and really tasty. This was made particularly easy by the grating function on my food processor…I really love my food processor!

photo-5

 

1 x Beetroot: topped, tailed & grated

3 or 4 large carrots (I alway buy organic when I can, as they taste so much better) – topped, tailed & grated

About 2 cm of root ginger – peeled & grated

2 sticks of celery – cut in 3 lengthways and finely sliced

Black olives to taste

About 1/4 Pack of Feta Cheese

Lightly mix all of these ingredients together (if you mix it too much the whole lot will end up pink!)

Then add:

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp of sesame seeds

*******

This gave me two large portions. I ate it for lunch two days in a row, accompanied with some rice-cakes. Would also work really well as a side dish (like a healthier coleslaw perhaps).

Another variation of this is to omit the beetroot, use a couple more carrots and add a tin of cooked (drained & rinsed) chickpeas.

Easy!

Portuguese Rice Muffins

My boss mentioned these little cakes to me a few weeks ago. She’d had them on holiday in Portugal and had found them in the little cafe around the corner from the office. However, after a recent accidental poisoning from a cake labeled ‘gluten free’ I wasn’t tempted to run out and buy one – however delicious she said they were! I made a note and then completely forgot about them.

This week, while checking through my notebook, I found the note I’d made and immediately looked them up. After sifting through a couple of different versions, one of which included wheat flour, I found this lovely website Delicious Wordflux.

Teresa writes about her own search for the right recipe and accompanies the recipe with some really very beautiful pictures, which I can’t even hope to replicate. Not least because the batch I made were eaten before I got a chance to take a picture!

You can take a look at the original recipe and Teresa’s page here: http://www.deliciouswordflux.com/2011/05/portuguese-rice-muffins-bolo-de-arroz/ 

I haven’t really changed the recipe, just altered the measurements to grams and millilitres. I’ve found that a lot of the gluten free recipes I’ve found online are American and measured in cups and spoons. The best conversion tool I’ve found is actually through an ovens website: http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html & it works really well. Google helps out with anything else.


 

Ingredients:

85g of Butter (this should be room temperature, especially if you don’t have a food processor)

200g Sugar

250ml of whole milk

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

350g Rice flour (brown, white or a mix)

2 teaspoons of baking powder (check it’s gluten free!)

1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt (I used salted butter, so left this out)

Zest of 1 lemon (unwaxed)

Juice of 1/2 lemon (the lemon I had was small, so I actually used the whole thing.

Granulated sugar to sprinkle on top.


 

Pre-heat oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4)

Prepare paper or silicone muffin/cup-cake cups.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and the butter until creamy. (I forgot to get the butter out of the fridge in advance, so was very pleased to have my trusty food processor on hand for this!)

In a separate bowl or jug, mix the milk, eggs & egg yolk and lemon juice. Add to the butter mixture.

In another bowl, whisk the rice flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt (if using) and add slowly to the existing mixture, stirring/blending until well combined.

Half fill each of the muffin cups. Sprinkle a little of the granulated sugar on the top of each one.

Bake for 20/25 minutes.


 

Work in progress

Work in progress

The original recipe mentions that you should leave the cakes to stand for 20 minutes before baking. I cooked mine in two batches and I can’t honestly say there was a difference between the ones I cooked straight way and the ones I left to stand.

The only other difference from Teresa’s recipe is that I suggest you add the lemon zest to the flour instead of the wet mix, as I found when I made it all the zest clumped together.

The cakes were absolutely delicious and filled the whole house with a wonderful lemony cake-y smell. I will definitely be making another batch soon!

Slow-cooker Chilli

Most recipes I’ve ever found for Chilli con (o sin) Carne have been Gluten Free & in fact most Mexican food seems to be Gluten Free too – especially if made with traditional with Corn Tortillas (flour or wheat tortillas clearly aren’t & shop bought ‘corn’ tortillas tend to have wheat flour in, so beware).

Anyway – this is a quick recipe that I have almost literally thrown together from what I have left in the fridge. What with the bank-holiday weekend and having a very laid-back (lazy) few days, I haven’t been shopping, or this recipe would also include onion and a red pepper at the very least!


 

Ingredients:

1 packet of lean minced beef (could easily be substituted for 150g red split lentils if going for a vege version, but you’ll need to add more liquid)

3 Cloves of Garlic (crushed or chopped finely)

1 Green Chilli (chopped small)

1/2 Red Chilli (chopped small)

3 heaped teaspoons of Cumin

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 heaped teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper (or other Chilli Powder – use more or less to taste)

1 level teaspoon of bouillon

1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin chick peas (drained)

1 tin of kidney beans (drained & rinsed)


 

Brown the mince over a medium heat until there is no pink showing. (The crock from my slow cooker goes on the hob, which minimises washing up!)

Take off the heat, add the garlic, chilli, cumin and oregano – stir well.

Add the chopped tomatoes & kidney beans.

Add the bouillon & ketchup to the bottom of the empty tomato tin – half fill with hot water, stir and add to the mix.

Stir again and put in the slow cooker.

I’m short on time today, so I’ve put the cooker on high for an hour to get it started and then will turn to low for another 5 hours.

About an hour before it’s ready, I will add the kidney beans and give it another quick stir.

That’s it! Easy, inexpensive and tasty!

Serve with rice, or a jacket potato or a big pile of tortilla chips! photo 2-2photo 1-2(Will add to the recipes tab once I work out how to do it!)

 

Bread Bitch

Everything I’ve tried to write for this blog so far, I’ve read back and rejected, so this time I’m just going to write something, hope it’s not too awful and just post it, in the hope that someone other than my Mum, boyfriend and a few supportive friends might read it. Thanks for sticking with me so far!

I was ‘diagnosed’ with Coeliac disease in January 2013 – the inverted commas are there because I never went through with the full test. To be tested (which most of you reading this will already know) you have to spend 6 weeks eating a high gluten diet. I lasted about 6 days and pretty much had a full scale meltdown.  Not only were there the physical symptoms of bloating, upset stomach and headaches, but it also caused my anxiety levels to peak and periods of IRRATIONAL ANGER!

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that my header description (is that what it’s called?) bares an uncanny resemblance to that of Bruce Banner – The Hulk. Basically, that is how Gluten makes me feel – I swell up and I get really pissed of – really quickly, often followed by nasty feelings of depression and anxiety – not nice! Was interested to read recently that I’m not alone in this – take a look at Jane Anderson’s blog – I’m not sure how wide this study was, but it’s nice to know someone is looking into it!

Having been living on a gluten free diet for around 15months now, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not all that bad. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It does mean a bit of extra self-control and it does mean planning ahead if you’re going on a long train journey, but it is manageable.

Oh yes, and friends and loved ones will think you’re the biggest fuss-pot on the planet, that you’re making it up, that it isn’t that bad. But they learn. They don’t like me when I’m angry.