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!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


This week I discovered the Intolerant Gourmet App whilst browsing for any useful intolerance related applications. It comes at a price tag of 3 yoyo's and 99 cents, but offers 65 wheat, yeast, egg, dairy and soya free recipes. Most options are also gluten free. The recipes are generally very straight forward in terms of technical ability, and most of the ingredients should be easily found at a regular supermarket, which makes life a lot easier when planning a weekly food schedule. 

I attempted to make the roasted and aubergine salad last night minus the required aubergine and cumin/coriander seeds. After soaking the quinoa in vegetable stock and roasting the carrots in a mix of honey, olive oil, cinnamon and seasoning for 15-20 minutes, I added chives, roasted cashew nuts and lemon juice and rind. It was fantastic! The salad had a really vibrant taste which perfectly complimented the salmon and red pesto sauce that it was accompanying. The quinoa offered a light and interesting alternative to rice, something I will definitely be exploring further.

The next new recipe on this week's cooking agenda (also from the Intolerant Gourment App), is sweet chilli and orange chicken with oriental coleslaw. I've managed to pre-purchase all of the ingredients minus the chinese cabbage and toasted sesame oil, but I'm hoping these can be sourced. This weekend may prove to be a good time to venture into the world of intolerant baking, and using my handy new app I'm hoping to bake a dairy, yeast and egg free brownie. Mmmmm. Pictures to follow.

In other discoveries, I've realised that goats milk is just not for me. The consistency and taste is very similar to cow's milk, but the idea of drinking a goat product is quite off-putting, a double standard considering I'm quite happy to eat goat's cheese. Oh well!

In terms of my overall adjustment to this elimination diet, there have been several times where I've eaten something that should be avoided, each time I've felt guilty and unwell. On the plus side, for the most part I have been sticking to the guidelines and feeling energised and positive about the whole experience. For anyone going through a similar situation, I would advise sticking with it as I'm only really feeling the benefits now that I have reached week 3 . I'm sure that this can only continue as I discover new tastes and recipe ideas.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Food Investigator

Week one of the elimination diet is complete. A week with many bumps in the road but also a lot of interesting discoveries. At first, I felt at a loss as to what I could eat in work; fruit salads and regular green salads seemingly being the only options. I was also missing having something sweet with a cup of tea in the evening. As the week wore on and I started to read more recipes and research wheat free brands, I was amazed to find out about the variety of foods available for people in a similar position.

In the past three days, I took a trip to my local Dunnes Stores to investigate what they stock. To my surprise and delight, they offer quite a large variety of wheat free/dairy free products which are readily available in their own specific section of the shop. I also experienced two firsts since finding out about my intolerances:
1) My first trip to a Health Food Store to stock up on essentials.
2) My first trip to an Artisan Food Market with the specific intention of buying wheat and dairy free goods.

The former visit happened in my home town. I planned to scour the shop's stock in order to figure out what sorts of alternatives were available. The Health Food Store or Co-op provided me with Glenisk goats milk, a gluten free bread mix and some chocolate and biscuit/snack alternatives:

The latter event was run as part of the Macroom Food Festival. This festival offered a wide array of artisan food stalls, which were run by helpful and knowledgeable food producers. I purchased a fabulous brownie and lentil pie from a gluten free stall. I can honestly say, the brownie was the best I've ever tasted and this wasn't just due to the lack of chocolate in last week's diet. I had the pie yesterday for lunch, the pastry was perfect and the combination of lentils and mixed vegetable was delicious. Unfortunately, I'm not 100% sure of this company who produced these goodies, but I will investigate further and update this blog accordingly.

Foreground: Lentil Pie and Chocolate Brownie
Background: Tomato Pasta Sauce & Olive Oil
Sunday of this week, I created a food plan for each meal of the weekdays. I pre-baked my wheat free bread and packed a bag full of fruits/oat crackers etc. to take to my workplace. So far, I have stayed on track to avoid all of the foods that I'm intolerant to. Forward planning seems to be the key but I am using the following as rule of thumb: If the food has one ingredient which doesn't fit the list of foods that I am intolerant to, but the percentage of this ingredient is relatively low, it's okay to have this food occasionally.

During the rest of this week, I aim to keep on track with my food plan and to investigate alternatives to bread and pasta, as the wheat free alternatives did not agree with my taste pallet. A good friend has been invited for dinner on Saturday so it will be very interesting to prepare a meal for somebody without intolerances. Luckily, my boyfriend has been very understanding. We take it in turns to cook or prepare a meal together when our schedules allow it, and he has been very aware of my intolerances and this is making the process a lot easier to adjust to. On a personal level, I have already been feeling the positive effects of eating a diet void of processed food types. I'm feeling more hungry, my appetite feels more genuine and not just a reflex accountable to reaching a particular point in the day. I hope this continues and that my energy levels also keep improving. Until next time...