Providing Awareness of Gluten Free Living

Archive for June, 2011

Gluten free pasta?

Through trying many varieties of pasta and remembering what wheat based pasta tasted like, it can be said that much progress has been made in producing in a gluten fre alternative by different manufactuerers. Thankfully they are now a far cry from the early corn based abominations, some of them at least!

Although the taste is not bad, expect the water that the pasta is cooked in to become rather cloudy. I have also noticed that the cooking times do not allow for much margin of error. Italians expect their pasta to be cooked “al dente” which literally means to the tooth, so pasta should retain a firm bite when eaten. It should not represent a floury wallpaper like paste. The south of Italy, and commonly in the Campania region which includes the city of Naples, pasta is traditionally served with a tomato based sauce and basil.  It is a dish that oozes freshness and simplicity, yet making fresh gluten free pasta is tricky.

Trying to prevent the dough from breaking up is difficult, but adding xanthan gum or even an egg to the gluten free flour is one way that can help. Delicateness and subtlety when handling the dough are the order of the day, and with perseverance it will work out! Don’t forget though that in Italy most people eat the dried variety of pasta and not fresh.

Getting your oats

Oats as far as a coeliac person is concerned is usually regarded as a contentious issue . Research tends to indicate that pure uncontaminated oats should not pose a toxicity problem for most. Although some do have a problem with even pure oats.

It should be easy to identify the ingredient from the labelling as there  is a requirement to indicate its presence in food. I wonder how many gluten sufferers have tried it?

The English National Dish

Fish and chips, or chicken tikka masala? The dishes that most Brits have gotten to love. But… are they gluten free? There are various fish and chip shops that claim to provide gluten free portions. Without disputing any of these, it should be borne in mind that to be gluten free there must be no cross contamination. I.e. the chips should be fried in oil that was not previously used to fry gluten containing products such as fish with batter or battered sausage. Having come through that hurdle, lets not forget the  barley malt vinegar which is  usually fine as barley protein is removed during processing thus removing the gluten, (Spirit or balsamic is also  fine). I am sure though that a good gluten free supplier of fish and chips knows this.

Chicken tikka masala should be be more straightforward. What can go wrong with the usual spices, herbs or marinades used? Generally it should not be difficult to prepare a gluten free version, as most ingredients are naturally gluten free. But some do use wheat flour to thicken the masala, or stock cubes to add extra flavour. Always check! Gram flour (chickpea flour) and cornflour is fine.

A Gluten Free Life

For most people  it can seem quite frustrating at times looking through every label to find whether any of the usual suspects are there. I suppose Gluten labelling has come a long way since the days of trying to decipher  the contents of a food item from its almost cryptic form of labelling.Nowadays many items are clearly labelled by supermarkets by mentioning ” contains gluten”.
Its a pity places preparing food dont always do the same.

Gluten free diet for Novak Djokovic

Its  nice to see a gluten free diet being heralded on a positive note . Many may have read or heard that Novak Djokovic, the most in form tennis player in the world recently obtained  his 42nd straight victory; one may wonder at the secret of his success. Baseline? Forehand? Serve? … Probably. But also his diet. Gluten free no less. He is quoted as saying that upon following a gluten free diet due to intolerance: “My movement is much sharper and I feel great physically” Maybe there’s hope for us all!