Gluten Free

Pizza Galore.

Margherita pizza served ready to eat.
Photo by Navin Rajagopalan.
My gluten free life has just got easier. Three major chains in the UK have announced that they are adding gluten free pizza to their menus. Up until now Bella Italia have been the only chain offering pizza but my experience of it has been pretty poor – it’s a very thin base which becomes very hard and crispy when cooked.

Prezzo now give the option of a gluten free base on all of their 13 classic pizzas. They offer a good range of toppings in this range, I’m looking forward to visiting so I can try their Bianca pizza that includes goats cheese and grilled courgettes.

Pizza Hut will be offering a pizza base that meets the No Gluten Containing Ingredients (NGCI) accreditation from this Monday (8th October). They’ve worked with Coeliac UK to develop the base and to develop a training scheme for all members of staff so that they know how to eliminate cross contamination of the gluten free bases and sauces. They’ve also made all pizza toppings gluten free which is a sensible move – no gluten eating people will be affected by this but it means that everything’s safe to go onto any pizza and eliminates the possibility of any mistake.

Best of all in my opinion is the news that from the beginning of November Domino’s will be offering a gluten-free accredited product. They’ve also worked with Coeliac UK to develop their product and training for staff. One of the things I’ve missed the most is being able to order a pizza for a night in with friends for example. I’m keeping everything crossed that this pizza lives up to expectations and life becomes just that little bit more normal again.

Gluten Free · Life

Gluten Free New York.

I’ve been back from my holiday in New York for a week so it’s time I got on with blogging about it. I had an absolutely amazing time, despite the evil heat stopping me from doing everything I wanted to, so I’ve got plenty to say. I know blogging about holidays isn’t supposed to be the done thing, but I love reading other people’s posts about their travels so I don’t care!

One of the reasons I chose to return to New York when I got the chance for a holiday was that it has loads of brilliant places to eat that cater for my gluten free diet. I had a list of places that I went to last time, and spent a couple of hours researching new places online so that I ended up with a good variety of options. By the time I was getting ready to come home there were still places I hadn’t visited, I think that means I need to go again! Here are some of the wonderful places I visited.

Food: Pizza made with local, seasonal, healthy ingredients including the option of a gluten free base.
What I had: I chose the basic cheese pizza, I was a little overwhelmed by having choice so played it very safe. The pizza was very tasty, the base was very thin and crispy with an unusual but nice flavour. I had their non-alcoholic cucumber mojito which was also lovely.

Chicken Tortilla Pie from Rosa Mexicano.
Rosa Mexicana.
Food: They have specific gluten free lunch and dinner menus offering a range of Mexican dishes.
What I had: I visited twice, I had their chicken enchiladas on one visit and chicken tortilla pie on the other. Both dishes came with house rice and their refried black beans. Both meals were delicious and I enjoyed the refried beans but I wasn’t very keen on the rice which was a little more al dente than I like it.

Mexican Radio.
Food: They offer a range of Mexican food using corn tortillas, their website has quite a bit of information about gluten free options though the menus don’t show this and the waitress I had needed to go and ask what was suitable for me.
What I had: Quesadillas, I chose to stick with the basic option and it was delicious. Like Rosa Mexicano this dish came with refried black beans and house rice, and again I enjoyed the beans but not the rice. The food was nice, but the overall experience wasn’t as good as I had at Rosa Mexicano.

Barbecue pizza from Mozarelli’s.
Food: They offer gluten free pizza by the slice, gluten free pastas and gluten free desserts including cheesecake.
What I had: I was completely blown away by the range of pizzas they had on offer, I ended up choosing a slice of barbecue pizza and then strawberry cheesecake to follow. Both were absolutely delicious, I was tempted to go and spend a bit of time in the nearby Madison Square Park before going back for more! It is worth mentioning that the staff are all a little brusque but the food’s well worth it.

Food: Macaroni & Cheese every way you can think of it, they offer a choice of 12 different varieties all with the option of gluten free pasta and breadcrumbs.
What I had: I stuck to a fairly classic choice and had the 4 cheese version. It was absolutely delicious, if I’d had the opportunity I’d definitely have gone back so I could try another one or two.

Cupcakes and cookies from Tu Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery.
Tu Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery.
Website: Their own site is down at the moment, but their Facebook page is here.
Food: All sorts of baked goods – cupcakes, cookies, brownies and more.
What I had: I tried their red velvet cupcake, chocolate cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting and chocolate chip cookies. They were all lovely, and it was such a treat to be able to walk into a cake shop and come out with great things to eat.

I also revisited Blooms Deli and went to the Hampton Chutney Co. and had tasty lunches at them both. It was so nice to be able to go to so many restaurants and eat food that I knew was definitely safe, I can only dream of the day when cities in the UK catch up!

Gluten Free

Gluten Free Goodies : Juvela Biscotti Bites.

Juvela have been producing great gluten free food available on prescription for some time. Recently they have decided to branch out and now operate an online shop stocking other gluten free goods. So far they stock a range of breakfast cereals and sweet snacks. They recently ran a promotion where the first 500 to request a sample would receive either Biscotti Bites or Chocolate Brownies. Never one to turn down free food I thought I’d give it a go.

I chose to request Biscotti Bites because I already know I can get good gluten free chocolate brownies from quite a few places. I was curious about how well biscotti would work with a gluten free recipes, most products have a tendency to be quite crumbly so I couldn’t imagine a gluten free biscotti would be suitably firm and teeth breaking.

When the pack arrived I was impressed to see it was a full size 200g pack, rather than a small sample pack. The contents of the pack had held up well against travelling via Royal Mail. I tried one plain first of all, and was pleased to see that Juvela have indeed managed to make their biscotti teeth breakingly hard. They’re a good, crunchy biscuit with plenty of almonds. I also tried having them for breakfast with my morning coffee, and they held up really well to dunking – again something that gluten free biscuits are typically bad at.

I really enjoyed this pack, but at the moment I won’t be placing an order for more. This new range from Juvela is only available from their online shop, the postage costs are fairly high – a packet of biscotti costs £2.79 and delivery costs £2.25 for one packet. On my current budget this means they are a treat I can’t justify, but I would definitely recommend them to anyone who is prepared to pay the delivery costs.

Food · Gluten Free

The Wonderful Broderick’s Bars.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before I have Coeliac Disease so have to follow a gluten free diet. When I saw this Buy of the day post on The Guardian website my first thought was to assume they wouldn’t be gluten free (most of the good stuff is). There was a link to the company’s website so I clicked to find out.

I found a lovely website, with all sorts of information but no allergen information. This isn’t uncommon, so I sent a quick email asking if they could tell me whether any of their yummy looking cakes were suitable for me. The usual responses I get, if the company bothers to respond at all, are usually very curt and tend to advise that I go and look on the ingredients list on the packaging. I was amazed therefore to find a reply to my email early the following morning from Bernard Broderick apologising for the information not being on the website, assuring me that their chocolate macaroons were definitely gluten free and offering to send me a box because he felt bad the information hadn’t been there. Of course I said yes!

A few days later the parcel arrived, it contained a box and a part box of chocolate macaroons and a box filled with a selection of their other bars – these do contain gluten so came with the suggestion I could use them as bribes! My dad is also a Coeliac so he has been sharing the macaroons, and mom is not a Coeliac so she has commandeered the box of gluten containing treats. We’ve been eating them for a few days now and I have to say they score full marks with us all! The chocolate macaroons are delicious, they’re full of coconut and wonderfully moist. According to my mom the other cake bars are all wonderful, she’s tried a few different ones now and says it’s impossible to choose a favourite as they’re all so good. She also ends up in fits of laughter each time she has one as she is face again with the very creative names that the bars have.

I’m still blown away by this lovely response. I’ve sent so many similar request emails in the 9 months since I was diagnosed, Broderick’s Bars are the only ones who’ve gone over and above in their answer. We’ll definitely be buying their cakes in the future.