Sunday, 6 January 2013

To Intolerance and Beyond

New Year, New You? I'm certainly trying to bear this thought in mind whilst I delve into 2013. I've been attempting to avoid my intolerant food types for around 4 months now, so I feel it's time to start reintroducing foods. So far I have been sampling white bread and some types of cheese, to good effect. This allowed me to create a lovely lunch for a recent visit from my mother:

We had a green salad with tomato and smoked cheese and a dressing of lemon juice, sunflower oil and a dash of salt. The main portion of the meal was haddock with a mustard and white wine sauce added to white rice. We also had crusty white rolls drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mmmmmmmm, if I do say so myself. There's something so satisfying about making a hearty meal to be shared with a friend or loved one.

We acquired a shiny new gadget for our kitchen this Christmas, a juicer. It's been put to good use and has produced some really yummy results, such as this apple and carrot juice. We have also added pineapple for a sweeter version.

I've decided to end my Wheat Free, Dairy Free: A Diet Less Ordinary blog with this post, as I move into the new year and new food discoveries. I'm very glad to have undertaken this writing task whilst going through this process as it has allowed me to track and discuss my recipe/gardening and ingredient ideas. On a positive note, I'm 3kg lighter than I was starting this process and I feel much more balanced, so long may that continue. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I wish you all the best with your own intolerance's and food discoveries.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Very Merry Gluten-Free Christmas To You

Veronica's Crisps
Choices Buttons
As we get closer and closer to Christmas, there are many weird and wonderful types of sweet treats floating around the office. Most of them are not good for me or anyone else for that matter but I don't want to entirely skip satisfying my sweet tooth cravings. I have discovered two gluten-free treats: The first, an organic gluten-free packet of crisps that was purchased for me by a sympathetic colleague. The second, chocolate buttons which are also gluten-free and therefore do not taste like true chocolate more like the cooking variety, but are still delicious.

I purchased the buttons in my local Super Valu, I'm impressed to see that their range is continually expanding. Every time I venture into the gluten-free aisle in Tesco, I'm amazed to see how many people are looking for alternative foods to purchase. I've also been impressed to notice that some of my favourite restaurants in Cork, will create your desired pasta dish using gluten-free pasta. They do sometimes charge an extra euro extra but Cafe Bar Deli, one of my most visited spots, don't include any extra charge. It's definitely a restaurant worth checking out when looking for a gluten-free dinner. We've been experimenting with our gluten-free pasta dinners at home too. My boyfriend recently concocted a most delicious dish which included spaghetti with salmon, onion, carrot, tomato and mixed herbs:

Yummy Gluten-free Spaghetti
I also recently discovered a very unusal salad combination in one of my favourite hotels in Killarney, The Ross. This salad had a base of green salad leaves but it also included pancetta, poached egg, black pudding, pear and croutons:
Black Pudding & Pancetta Salad
Anyway, enough of all this food talk. Time to start thinking about the Christmas holidays and the adventures of 2013. I'd like to wish my readers a wonderful Christmas season and a prosperous New Year. I hope you can enjoy a couple glasses of bubbly and a well deserved break over this festive season.
Our Tree

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pasta Sauce, Organic Horticulture.....& Hot Port

After last week's promising start to creating a suitable pizza using gluten-free bases, I decided to attempt making them for a second time. On this occasion, however, I was using thick crust bases, topping the pizzas with strained tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, caramelized onion, pancetta and a french cheese made from goats milk. These toppings complimented each other perfectly. The bases although nice, were quite heavy. After careful consideration, I've decided that I prefer the thinner bases, used during my first trial.

Another meal made from alternative ingredients that turned out well, was a basic dish of pasta with sauce. We added kelkin tomato and red pepper pasta sauce to kelkin spaghetti, which is made from corn and rice. Nom nom nom. It went down so well that we're having it again for dinner tonight. Having cooked with this spaghetti on several occasions, we've realised that cooking it in a large saucepan with a lot of boiling water, is most effective. The spaghetti can have a lot of residue that comes off whilst being cooked, it comes out best once given a lot of water and space.

I have recently been eating lots of gluten-free bread and oaty, cereal bars. Being able to eat meals that I would have eaten before changing my diet but replacing them with suitable ingredients is much easier when on the go. In terms of gardening, I've been reading about and discussing gardening ideas with my friends and family. Aquaponics has been brought to my attention. The following website link, gives a good understanding of the concept and practice: Aquaponics.comI have also learnt about a great new course which is being offered in my much loved, UCC, the Masters in Organic Horticulture. It has only been started this past September, and it allows students to undertake classes in Liss Ard Estate, near Skibberren, whilst undertaking self-directed learnings from home. Sounds fab.

On a non-food and gardening related thread, I have discovered the best way to make hot ports. This may not sound like an important skill to have, but it can be a very handy to have when someone is feeling a bit under the weather in your household. In my opinion, it offers a much nicer alternative to the usual lemsip or tea with honey. Begin by slicing pieces of orange into segments and inserting cloves into them, as per the picture to the right. Add a good dash of port (as good quality as you can afford) to a glass, followed by boiling water, an orange segment, and brown sugar and honey to taste. I advise you drink the hot port with either a nice fire going beside you or wrapped up in a large duvet. Enjoy!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Make Pizza Not War

This week I purchased gluten free pizza bases. They were relatively expensive at around 4.60 for a pack of two, so I was hoping that they would offer a very good alternative and thankfully was not disappointed. On the pizza base I placed strained tomato sauce, around half a 400ml pack was enough to cover the two bases. I had briefly fried a large white onion, half a black pudding and a packet of bacon cut into small pieces. These were all placed on top of the tomato sauce base, along with french goats cheese and some sliced tomato. This was the pizzas before being placed in the oven:

They were cooked for 15 minutes at 220 degrees on grease proof paper and came out looking like this: 

There was a bit of mess from the goats cheese melting, but overall this was an incredibly easy meal to make. The combination of toppings, although a little unusual, were very tasty. I plan to make another gluten free pizza using a different combination of toppings, personally I love chicken and sweetcorn pizzas. The beauty with this dinner option is you can add whatever you find appealing. A friend has suggested that I attempt to make gluten free pizza bases, having never done home-made pizzas, this will take some research and time but it's certainly something I would like to attempt. 

In the past week, I've started looking up online gardening resources for amateur enthusiasts. I came across a really interesting blog, which gives invaluable tips for those interested in getting started, Gardening 101: 5 Gardening Basics for Beginners. I particularly liked the section that discusses how to prepare your soil and the section that advises what plants you can grow depending on how much sunlight is available. 

I also found a dedicated Irish resource called: Grow It Yourself Ireland. This website has a huge amount of material available for growing your gardening knowledge. They advise you what fruits and vegetables can be planted/tended to during each month of the year. This information is particularly helpful as it is written from the perspective of the Irish weather/seasons. My next focus will be on researching poly-tunnels and greenhouses, so stay tuned for more gardening ideas. I hope you have a healthy, fun-filled weekend, until next time:

Friday, 9 November 2012

You Don't Make Friends with Salad

This week has been fairly un-adventurous in terms of food choices mainly due to how busy it's been. So I've stuck to fruit salads, green salads and wraps during the day and have fallen back on tried and  tested dinner options at night. Time constraints have hindered me from forming a developed food plan which has also led to some ill advised choices, such as a rushed croissant or a sneaky biscuit. I'm reminded again that a weekly food plan is essential to an effective food shop and clever daily choices. 

During the week, I met with my friend Stephanie for a catch-up lunch. We ate at Fresco, the cafe on the ground-floor of the Glucksman Gallery in UCC. I ordered a Thai Beef Salad which comprised of warm beef, potato pieces, rocket, mango and sweet chilli sauce. It was packed full of taste and apart from the potato pieces, was an excellent option for me. I've never really found salads appealing as a dinner/lunch option in their own right. I've often felt hungry within an hour or two of eating them. The Beef Salad defied this ideal, keeping me full throughout the entire day. I would like to learn more about salads that can act as a full meal. Another goal is to get to a point where I can make a conscientious decision of what to eat whilst on the go. This will develop as my knowledge of food increases and when I am able to re-introduce some of the eliminated food options into my diet.

Since I started this process, I've become increasingly aware of the benefits of growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs. I'm starting to realise why people go nuts for gardening, there must be a real pleasure derived from planting and growing your own ingredients. It is vital to eat these types of food, so why not grow your own? As this blog continues, I'd like to develop my knowledge and thoughts surrounding gardening, expect to see this creeping in as the week's progress. And on a lighter note...

Gummy Bear Rescue

Friday, 2 November 2012

To Salad or not to Salad? That is the question

After a short hiatus, I'm back to blogging. The last two weeks have been the hardest in terms of persevering with wheat-free & dairy-free food choices, mainly due to my lack of motivation so I'll keep this entry short and sweet. I have found myself leaning towards easy, quick food choices rather than the healthy option:
Cupcakes or Salad-Hmmmm
Thankfully, I'm back on track now and feeling much more positive. We had a visit from a very kind aunty, who baked a fabulously light and damn tasty, gluten-free sponge cake. She also showed me a book by Darina Allen: Healthy Gluten Free Living which has a breakdown of recipes designated for each meal. These recipes guide the reader through the creation of simple, everyday meals.

On the vegetable front, aubergines have been incorporated into my weekly shop. I love roasted vegetables and have realised that aubergine is a lovely accompaniment to the usual selection of: carrots, peppers, onions and parsnips. We've also started cooking spaghetti based dishes using Kelkin gluten-free spaghetti. This allows for delicious dinners such as meatballs in tomato sauce and bacon in a carbonara sauce.

On my most recent trip to Tesco, I noticed that they stock pizza bases in their wheat-free aisle. This has given me the idea to make pizzas with a tomato puree base and perhaps some goats cheese, rocket, salami etc. Pictures and more recipe ideas to follow soon...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Glimpse into the World of Intolerant Baking

The past week has seen 4 new recipes attempted from the Intolerant Gourmet App, two were chicken based salads and neither made a lasting impression. The second used quinoa, it was interesting to attempt another meal using this ingredient, but we were not blown away by this particular dish. I have also ventured into the creation of gluten-free baked goods by making Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Cookies and Brownies.

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Cookies

The cookie mixture was incredibly easy to make, it included: dairy-free margarine, brown sugar, gluten-free plain and self-raising flour. The beauty with this recipe is that many different combinations of ingredients can be added to give the flavour. I chose peanut butter and chocolate and would like to try the cinnamon cookies version which requires ground cinnamon and flaxseeds. Simples! The cookies are definitely best eaten on the day of baking as they are a bit more dry 1-2 days after, but I don't think finishing them would be a problem!

The Chocolate Nut Brownies were again made from a very straightforward mixture: dairy-free margarine, flaxseeds, baking powder, rice milk, dark chocolate, walnuts, pecan nuts, brown sugar, vanilla extract, gluten-free self-raising flour and a pinch of salt. After mixing it all together (the nuts needed to be chopped and the chocolate and margarine melted) it looked like this:

Brownie Mixture

It was cooked in the oven for 25 mins, et voila! The brownies were complete. As there are quite a lot of nuts in the mixture, it doesn't feel too chocolate or sugar rich. This was my first attempt at baking with gluten-free flour and I was very unsure about what to expect but I didn't notice a difference in the taste. I will be making more brownies within the next two days, as they were a good, honest treat in my opinion.


Dinners are becoming a much easier meal to navigate, and I now have these easy dessert/snack options. The next meal I would like to get more ideas for is lunch. I find that I am purchasing soups from my workplace quite often and this is not always the best solution as it can have flour added to it. Oat crackers with a topping such as hummus are a nice option but boring when repeated over several days. Salalds and hot dinners can often have an ingredient added which I need to avoid, so it will be time to get creative with lunch. At least I can always rely on water!