You may be aware if you read my recent Bump Watch post that what I had previously thought to be gallbladder problems is now looking instead like it may be the result of a gluten intolerance.
I'm going to be tested for coeliac disease after the pregnancy, but for now I have completely eliminated gluten from my diet and since doing so I have not had one single day of illness (which...after a solid month of being sick every single day...is amazing!)
Of course it's pretty difficult to get used to reading the labels on everything and figuring out what is safe to eat after a lifetime of eating whatever I choose...and I've noticed that it is VERY expensive to eat gluten-free too! All of the "free from" options that the supermarkets sell tend to be at least double the price of the "normal" alternatives.
But for now, it's worth it to feel human again....and so for the past few weeks I have been finding my way in the Gluten-Free food world and trying out a variety of different products.
As with everything I guess....it's all a matter of personal taste, but the things I have missed most are certainly bread and pasta.
Luckily I have found the gluten-free pasta options to be pretty much on a par with standard pasta - I've tried it from various supermarkets and have yet to find one that I dislike, which is great!
Bread, however, is a completely different world!
I have tried so many DISGUSTING gluten-free breads in the last few weeks that have taste and texture more akin to a stodgy cake than anything else.
So far, the best bread I have found has been in the form of buns rather than a loaf - Sainsburys own free-from bread rolls are certainly the best I have come across. They seem a little odd as they need to be warmed in the oven before eating, but I just allow them to cool before using them for sandwhiches or soups and they are great - almost impossible to tell the difference from the real thing!
Here are a few of the other products that have been getting me through:
These by-post Brownies are hands down the most delicious, crumbly, moist, chocolatey brownies I have EVER tasted...and, unbelievably, they are gluten free!!!
Love Brownies offer a selection of Brownies - including ones for non-celiacs - which I'm sure are just as yummy!
But the gluten-free version is astounding...I would NEVER be able to tell the difference, they have absolutely perfected the recipe and it's little wonder that these won the Great Taste Awards in 2012 and 2013!
They are gorgeously wrapped too, and therefore make a perfect birthday, new baby or get well gift by post - at just £15.95 including delivery you really can't go wrong!
There is also a caramel-fudge version available and a Christmas special Kirsch cherry version available in November and December...and I love that every flavour, including special editions, have a gluten free option available - too often companies leave celiacs out so its great to see everyones needs catered for here!
Please visit www.lovebrownies.co.uk to order or find out more!
Kellogs Gluten-Free Cornflakes and Honey Cornflakes
These are a lifesaver when it comes to breakfast time! There is really no difference in the taste and texture from the "Normal" range cornflakes that I can tell, which is exactly what you want from a gluten-free alternative but so often do not get!
I have repurchased these many times already and will continue to do so - they are also going to be a real lifesaver at Easter as I can use them to make gluten-free easter cornflake cakes!
I have used quorn mince in lieu of "real" mince for years anyway - my family actually switched over from using real mince during the BSE scares years ago, and never went back to it and so I've grown up much preferring the taste and texture of Quorn - no nasty gristly bits and so much healthier!
I use this for lots of meals, and since going gluten-free it's been great in spaghetti bolognese and lasagnes with gluten-free pastas - not all Quorn products are gluten-free but those that are have it indicated on the package, and luckily for me the mince IS one of the gluten-free Quorn options!
Amy's Kitchen make a wide range of free-from allergen friendly meal solutions, ranging from ready meals to soups...I was recently some of their soups and tagines to try out and was so pleasantly surprised.
I often used to have cup-a-soups as a quick and easy lunch solution but was surprised to find that they almost all contain wheat, so I`ve made the switch to Amy's Kitchen tinned soups and they are so much tastier! The chunky tomato in particular is really gorgeous!
I am a bit of a crisp-fiend and I was devastated when I realised that loads of my favourite crisp brands use wheat in their products - luckily for me Seabrook Crisps are gluten-free, and have always been one of my favourite crisp brands anyway!
Nairn Oat Cakes
These are wheat-free and can be used in many different ways, including as a base for cheesecake or served with hummus and nut butters - personally I enjoy them most in lieu of a cracker with some cheese, or with a slice of mozzarella and tomato!
Tomatoes are of course a store cupboard staple and a healthy one too - as I've been enjoying a lot of gluten-free pasta dishes lately, I have found Cirio products to be invaluable!
Their tinned tomatoes are great, but their passata and tomato fillets that I have most enjoyed experimenting with! I used them to create a lovely cod & tomato fillet dish served with roasted peppers stuffed with tomato & garlic infused rice...it was delicious!
Tasty Little Numbers
Tasty Little Numbers are perfect for chocolate-lovers like me and are all gluten-free – plus they're only 100 calories per bar too!
Again, to satisfy a sweet tooth these are perfect! They come in a very handy sized little bag, perfect for lunches, and are available in two delicious varieties - chocolate hazelnut clusters and chocolate wafers.
This has been one of my FAVOURITE brands since going gluten-free as I have yet to try a single product from their range that hasn't impressed me!
My top choice is their Large Jam Coconut Rings which are AMAZING - just the right amount of chewiness, scrummy jam and I just LOVE the rice paper bases! I could eat a whole packet in one sitting!
I also used Mrs Crimble pancake mix for Shrove Tuesday and...after feeling depressed all day at the prospect of gross gluten-free pancakes ... Mrs Crimbles cheered me right up, the pancake mix was amazing and the pancakes tasted no different than a standard mix! Jon & Tyne ate them too and didn't notice any difference!
I have tried many items from the Mrs Crimbles range and other favourites include the coconut macaroons and cherry bakewells...I would never hesitate to try one of their products as they have yet to disappoint me with anything!
M & S Made Without Wheat Millionaire's Caramel Crispie Mini Bites
The M & S Made Without Wheat range has been very hit & miss in my experience so far (AVOID the scotch pancakes and hot cross buns at all costs!!!), but these are real little treasure among the range!
They are basically rice krispie bites coated with a layer of thick caramel and chocolate...they are delicious and so very more-ish!
Youngs Free-From Fish Fingers
I was ridiculously excited to find a range of free-from fishfingers...as silly as it sounds, its the little normal things like fishfingers that you miss the most when you go gluten-free and so finding that Youngs do them without gluten was amazing! They are just lovely and taste no different...so far I`ve only found them stocked in Waitrose so I do hope more supermarkets start stocking them soon!
Gluten-free fishcakes next please, Youngs?! *fingers crossed*
Tesco Free-From Chocolate Chip Cookies
I've been on quite the mission to find a decent cookie since going gluten-free....so many supermarkets have disappointed me with their overly-sweet, crispy offerings...M & S ones tasted like sugar snaps, Sainsburys were dry and dismal...but Tesco came through!!!
These are chewy, chocolatey and just the right amount of sweet - well done Tesco!
M & S Made Without Wheat Ready-made Sandwhiches
I discovered during my Cornwall holiday recently how IMPOSSIBLE it is to purchase a gluten-free lunch item on the go - bakeries seem completely oblivious to the existence of coeliacs, and even coffee shop chains like Starbucks and Costa (though their websites state they offer one gluten-free option) had staff that looked at me blankly and offered me a sad looking macaroon as a lunch suggestion when I enquired about gluten-free food.
I have tried all of the major supermarkets, Boots and many other places that people generally go to for lunches on the go....only to be disappointed (Come on guys, how hard is it to offer a gluten free option?! Even the salads all had pasta or couscous in them!)
Thankfully...M & S are on the ball, and they DO realise that coeliacs need lunch too....they offer gluten-free ready made sandwhiches! AND they don't just offer ONE option - my local M & S offers THREE varieties...this honestly feels like being spoiled when it comes to gluten-free shopping!!
The choices are cheese salad, chicken salad and egg & cress - I have tried them all and they are great! The chicken salad is a particular favourite of mine...in fact I make a special trip to M & S a few times each week just because I enjoy them so much!
Waitrose Gluten-Free Sausages
I was delighted to see gluten-free sausages during my recent shopping trip to Waitrose...we used them for bangers & mash, and I had them as hot dogs and they were yummy!!
I love you Waitrose for being thoughtful enough to think of providing them!
A slightly different product here but one that I have been using a lot...I can't say if my symptoms have eased so much because of dietary changes or because of using this product, in fact its probably a combination of both - but whenever I have felt my symptoms flare up I have taken a spoonful of this gel and they have eased - which is good enough for me!
Here's what they say about Silicolgel:
I must admit, this is a very unpleasant tasting gel and it really does take some getting used to - but it has been worth its weight in gold to me during the last few weeks, and I will repurchase it again and again.
Silicolgel is available from Boots, Holland & Barret and health food stores with prices starting at £8.29 for 200ml.
So those are the gluten-free products i`m loving so far! If you are on a gluten-free diet too, I'd love to hear of any product recommendations you have!
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