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Wheat/Gluten Problems - Introduction

Some years ago, I discovered I had a wheat/gluten problem. This was discovered with the help of a hospital dietician.

I keep a kosher home. I enjoy the traditional Jewish foods but like adding a twist of modernity

I love experimenting – usually to good effect –and my husband and friends will testify to a few disasters but not too often.

I know that the number of “intolerants” is rising and especially in the Jewish community. Is there a gene or is it lifestyle? Whatever, I hope some of my recipes and hints will help. I write from a purely practical point of view not as an expert in medicine or nutrition.

I live in the UK and this web site is UK based so our spelling may differ slightly as does product availability and brands. However I have used the US spelling of Coeliac ie Celiac in most places as this seems to be the spelling in use throughout many countries.

I despair at the price of food for allergy sufferers. I know from experience that, yes food for the few comes at a premium. Nevertheless, there are ways of cooking or of adapting ordinary recipes. There is a difference between wheat/gluten allergy (celiac disease) and wheat intolerance, but the foods we avoid are the same.

I do admit that occasionally I use readily prepared foods. However, this is not a cheap or necessarily an easy option when you are wheat/gluten free. There are some excellent new “ready meals” & products available in supermarkets in the UK & Europe for allergy sufferers. However, on reading many of the packets I am turned off. Although they may be wheat/gluten free they are often high in preservatives, E-numbers and things that sound more like chemicals than food so I prefer to cook from scratch.

I have quite a lot of different flours in my larder but you can buy excellent ready blended gluten free flours. For details of my larder see my store cupboard.

My husband, is not one of those who will eat anything. He will eat fish, meat, most vegetables. I disguised aubergines, root vegetables and Florence fennel for some years before he admitted that they were not that bad and now eats them. He dislikes pulses, beans and nuts and I disguise these in much of my cooking at home (but he knows)!. However, I like them and cook these for others.

My husband also raises another point; as he suffers from a dicky ticker. I tend not to personally cook with a lot of salt but ask friends to add it themselves. You may wish to add more or as I do use more herbs and spices to flavour. I keep an old-fashioned stone pestle and mortar as I prefer to grind my own spices and if you toast them in a dry pan this increases the flavour. They then have more taste than the ready ground ones. If you prefer to use the ready ground versions or indeed any spices – don’t keep them too long. Spices, especially the ground ones, have a limited shelf life and do lose their flavour.

I often use low fat crème fraiche, yoghurt and quark in place of cream and full fat soft cheese. I hope that you will try these healthy options. I am also not a great butter user – though I do like it to glaze sauces and on toast. I tend to dry fry or use a little olive or sunflower oil. I roast using oil and not schmaltz though the flavour is not quite the same. Instead I flavour with Sesame oil for Chinese & Thai food and Walnut for Italian or scatter with sesame seeds.

A new trend is linseed oil and if you have joint problems a drizzle after cooking (do not cook with it) it is excellent. Use the cracked seeds tossed on salads, cereals and in stir-fries. Bit like using cod liver oil (not in cooking) but without the flavour – yes I just remember that. These oils contain healthy fats. If you get the chance to buy pure first pressed rape seed oil this has a really good flavour especially in dressings and makes a change from olive oil - however if its for “Oriental/Indian” cookery do use something like nut or sunflower oil

When I cook red meat I often cook it in association with aubergines and lentils or chick peas as I am told these counteract bad cholesterol. Even if they don’t, they go well together and eke out the meat which is getting more expensive.

However, this is basically a kosher gluten/wheat free recipe site so excuse the other little cookery quirks, I will try with some recipes to tell you a little more so it makes gentle reading as well.

Where possible I will buy fresh foods but am not averse to using the freezer for home grown vegetables and fruit or for bulk cooking. I still bottle fruit and make jam as I think it tastes better. I find that it does not go mouldy when left out of the fridge unless other things are introduced in such as crumbs.

Well that’s enough meandering let’s get down to practicalities, the recipes.