Saturday, 12 March 2016

Gluten-free Spaghetti with Bacon, Garlic, Chilli and Caramelised Balsamic Onions

This is a quick and easy recipe when you just want something tasty with no fuss. 

Ingredients (serves 2)
Bacon (how many rashes depends on how hungry you are)
1 large onion
Balsamic vinegar
1 red chilli
2 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan (optional)

Start by cutting the bacon up into small pieces and frying them off on a medium heat, meanwhile chop the onion. Once the bacon starts to take some colour add the onion and put the spaghetti on (gluten-free spaghetti tends to stick together so give it a good stir with a fork throughout the cooking process to separate the strands). Chop the garlic and chilli into thin slices. After 5 mins (or whenever the onions have started taking some colour) add the balsamic vinegar, let it cook out for a minute or so and then add the garlic and chilli. You may want to reduce the heat a little if needs be. Once the pasta is done drain it and add it to the frying pan with all the other ingredients along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, mix well with some tongs and add salt and pepper. Serve up and add some parmesan if you wish. Enjoy! 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Gluten Free Travel: North West England - Manchester, The Wirral, Liverpool and Chester

Hey fellow coeliacs and food lovers!

Feel free to follow my Pinterest gluten-free recipes board for tasty ideas and if you have a sweet tooth you can also check out my gluten-free dessert board too.

I'll no doubt be adding to this post along the way, as I discover new places to eat in Manchester and the North West. However, these are a few recommendations I have so far:


Dough Pizza Kitchen (City Centre) - This place I cannot recommend highly enough, to fellow coeliacs and anyone with a taste for great Italian food! The staff are warm, welcoming and most importantly very understanding about the coeliacs and their condition. They often host special evenings for coeliacs to try out new items on the menu and have a superb range of pizzas (GF bases made from scratch) and pastas. Great value for money and you always walk away stuffed! I've often found you need to book a table at the weekend, so please check availability by calling +44(0)161 834 9411 to save disappointment!

Dough Pizza Kitchen: 75 - 77 High St, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1FS.  
+44(0)161 834 9411

Carluccio's is one of my new favourite coeliac-friendly restaurants. They have branches all over the UK and they have an extensive gluten-free menu. I can't praise this restaurant enough, I've eaten in branches in Manchester and London and the choice is amazing, plus the staff are really helpful and the food tastes great (I have a mega soft spot for their panna cotta!). 

Carluccio's: Hardman Square, Manchester M3 3EB
+44(0)161 839 0623

If you're like me and you LOVE steak, then you will love CAU (Didsbury). It's an Argentinian steakhouse and boy do these guys know how to cook a steak! I first tried a CAU steak in Amsterdam and it's safe to say I was very happy they decided to open a branch in Manchester. The staff are very knowledgable about gluten-free options - the chunky chips are incredible, the peppercorn sauce is moreish and the steak (the rib-eye is amazing) is both tender and full of flavour. 

CAU: 700 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2DN. 
+44(0)161 448 1883

Expo Lounge (Didsbury) - This is a relatively new discovery for me and I LOVE it! Their range of gluten-free options are both impressive and tasty! It's also got a quirky/fun vibe to the decor which is also appealing. The staff are lovely, prices are reasonable, but beware it can get very busy at weekends - especially lunchtimes. It's family-friendly and if the weather is nice you can sit outside and watch the people of Didsbury walk by...

Expo Lounge: 766 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2DR
+44(0)161 448 2141

Namaste Nepal (Didsbury) - This is a friendly family-run business in Didsbury, serving traditional Nepalese food. Whether you're looking for a Friday night treat delivered straight to your door or want to go out for a special occasion with family or friends, their curries always deliver on taste and price. Namaste Nepal has been my number one choice for curry for many years and they're very understanding about all gluten-free items on their menu.

Namaste Nepal: 164-166 Burton Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 1LH
+44(0)161 445 9060

Foster's Fish & Chips (Didsbury) - If it's fish & chips you're looking for then look no further than Foster's! They serve the tastiest gluten-free fish & chips every Sunday and the portions are very generous, plus their homemade tartare sauce is soooo tasty! You have a wide selection of fish to choose from (all cooked fresh) and they even have gluten-free vinegar. It's probably a good thing they don't serve GF fish & chips every day as I would be in there most nights... They also have branches in Alderley Edge and Bramhall.

Foster's Fish & Chips: 812 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6UH
+44(0)161 445 4430

Greens (Didsbury) - Owned by TV chef Simon Rimmer, Greens is a vegetarian restaurant in Didsbury. Despite having lived in Didsbury for a number of years I only ate at Greens for the first time in 2014. Although there is an impressive selection of vegetarian dishes (all of which sound amazing) there were only a couple of GF options available for each course, which limited what I could have. However, the main I had was really tasty and I'd like to give this place another go soon. Just wish they'd add more GF options that's all... 

Greens: 41-43 Lapwing Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2NT
+44(0)161 434 4259

8th Day - Every payday I wander over from work and treat myself to a gluten-free dhal with rice to go, it's delicious and very filling! Upstairs is a vegetarian and vegan shop and downstairs is their restaurant. They have gluten-free options on the menu in the restaurant and plenty of gluten-free staples in the shop - from stocks to pies, from cakes to miso soups, they have a decent selection to choose from. The staff are friendly and helpful. The prices are a little on the high side, but then again you pay for what you get - the quality of the produce in the shop and restaurant are superb.

8th Day: 111 Oxford Road (University-district), Manchester, M1 7DU
+44(0)161 273 4878 (Shop)
+44(0)161 273 1850 (Cafe)

La Vina - If it's tapas you're after then you'll love this place! Friendly staff, great atmosphere and the menu is clearly labeled gluten free (GF). If you ask they have a specific gluten free menu which lists everything you can have, which is really handy. The alcohol can be a little expensive, but if you buy a bottle for the table you can save some pennies. Please note on their website it says they 'do not operate in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen area'. However I have eaten there quite a bit and had no reaction.  

La Vina: 105/107 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BQ (These guys also have branches in Hale and Liverpool)  +44(0)161 835 3144  

Wagamama - The great thing about this place is they have restaurants all over the world and their selection of gluten free food is great. They serve pan-Asian food and according to their website are 'modeled on the ramen bars' of Japan. You learn something new everyday! The staff are helpful and prices very reasonable. I particularly like munching on a bowl of edamames whilst I wait for my meal, nom nom. Wagamama also caters for a wide range of intolerances and dietary requirements, for more info visit 

Wagamama: (Inside Manchester Printworks), 1 The Printworks, Corporation Street, Manchester, M4 2BS. +44(0)161 839 5916   or
1 Spinningfields Square, Hardman Street, off Deansgate,
M3 3AP
 +44(0)161 833 9883 


Marmalade - Whenever I'm in Chester I always stop at Marmalade for some cake and tea, occasionally a sandwich too. The food is fantastic and the service is great! Dawn (owner) is very clued up on cross-contamination and is very accomodating for coeliacs. Follow them on Facebook -

Marmalade: 67 Northgate Street, Chester, CH1 2HQ
+44(0)1244 314565

The Wirral

Risa Spice - I've been to Risa Spice quite a number of times and the food is always great. The staff are friendly and very understanding about the gluten-free options on the menu. It can get very noisy on a busy night, but that's to be expected, however it just goes to show how popular it is. You can bring your own booze (which keeps costs down!) and even though I only have a main course with rice I'm still stuffed at the end of the night. 

Risa Spice: 49 New Chester Road, New Ferry, Wirral, CH62 1AA
+44(0)151 345 8967

If you're on facebook there are few pages worth 'liking' for the Manchester region - CoeliacUK Coeliac Manchester and Coeliac in Manchester

Carluccios have branches in Manchester too and offer a wide selection of gluten free food.
One of the main perks of joining Coeliac UK is their restaurant/venue guide pages - please visit their website for more info. 

Will keep you posted if I find anymore!
Jeni :o)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Gluten Free Lentil Dhal


  • Lentils (double check they are gluten free & not cross-contaminated)
  • Stock cube (again check gluten free)
  • Onions x2
  • Butter (small knob)
  • New potatoes (500g-ish)
  • Kidney Beans (1 tin)
  • Fresh ginger (thumbs worth)
  • Garlic x3
  • Garam Masala (x1 tbsp)
  • Fenugreek (x1 tsp)
  • Rice

Put the lentils into a pan of cold water (half-full) and let it come up to simmer, cook them for about 10 minutes, or until they expand in the pan. Meanwhile start chopping the onions and dicing the potatoes into 1cm chunks. Turn another hob onto a medium heat and place a decent sized pan onto the hob, drizzle in some olive oil and add the butter. Once the butter has melted place the onions into the pan and let them brown slightly, then add the potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile chop the ginger and garlic as finely as you can and drain the kidney beans. Boil a full kettle. 

When the lentils have had 10 minutes or so and they have expanded, drain the lentils in a sieve and run some cold water over them, then rest the sieve (with the lentils still in) on the pan that was used to boil them to catch any excess fluid.

Now add the ginger and garlic to the onions and potatoes, let them cook for a minute or two, then add the spices (garam masala and fenugreek), again let them cook in for a few minutes. Add the lentils and kidney beans to the main pan, then add enough boiling water to cover all the ingredients, add the stock cube and mix well. Add salt and pepper. Leave the dhal for about 15 minutes to simmer, stir occasionally. 

Keep an eye on the liquid in the dhal to make sure it doesn't run too low and stick to the bottom of the pan

When the timer goes off boil up a full kettle and put some rice on. Once the rice is done try the dhal to check the seasoning and then serve and enjoy!

Feel free to add any spices you like...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Gluten Free Travel: Lake Como (Menaggio and Bellagio) and Milan, Italy

Menaggio, Lake Como
On the outside Italy may appear to be the most glutenous capital of the world, famous for its pizza, pasta, breads, biscotti, tiramisu... the list is pretty extensive. However, I am happy to report that eating out, eating in and being a coeliac wasn't a issue, at least in Lake Como and Milan that's for sure. We were fortunate enough to have our own villa, which made planning for meals a bit easier and on days out I made my own gluten free pesto pasta, just in case. We stayed in Menaggio, on Lake Como, which was beautiful. This was my first time in Italy and I've fallen in love with the sights, smells, language, culture, people and of course the food - definitely a place I want to go back to and explore new regions of this beautiful Country.  

The Italians are very clued up about coeliac (celiac) disease, they test all children by the age of 6 and just over 1% of children in Italy are coeliacs. There are 20,000 new diagnoses every year and they see an annual increase of 20%. As a result of this increased awareness and understanding about coeliac disease, as soon as a person shows any signs or symptoms, the average time taken between being tested and receiving a diagnosis in Italy is 2-3 weeks, when in the UK and in the US the average diagnosis time is 10 years! This is why it's incredibly important to raise awareness of coeliac disease and the symptoms; I was told I had IBS when it was coeliac disease, I can even trace some of my symptoms back almost 10 years too. Italian's who have been diagnosed receive a monthly payment from the government for gluten free food, as well as additional vacation time to shop for and prepare gluten free meals. Wow! Maybe I'll be moving to Italy..... 


Ice cream or 'gellato' is divine in Italy. It's mostly organic, reasonably priced (in Menaggio and Bellagio), they have a fantastic range of flavours and are very refreshing in the heat of July!   

The majority of staff in the places were we ate spoke very good English, however some of the restaurants were limited by language barriers, which is were my phone came in handy with this genius app: Gluten free restaurant cardsYou can either download the iPhone app or print them off. It explains what you can and can't eat in most languages. 


Menaggio is a stunning place to stay - this picture was taken from our villa. Close to where we stayed was a  family-run restaurant called Pizzeria CO.RI (Via Per la Grona 57, Menaggio). The food was very tasty (I had steak and chips with grilled veggies) and the staff were lovely, for dessert I had sorbet with liquor - very nice! We watched an impressive thunderstorm whilst our food settled and the view across the lake was spectacular. Red Bay restaurant is also a nice place to chill, they also have mini-golf next door. I didn't try the food here but they do make a lovely long island ice tea!

Eating In - Menaggio

The supermarket Pellicano had a great selection of gluten free foods, ranging from pasta to breads, desserts to pizza bases and all food products were clearly labelled if they were "senza glutine" (gluten free). Their cherries were moreish too!


Bellagio is stunning. It's only a ferry ride away from Menaggio and I cannot recommend a trip there highly enough. We visited Villa Melzi whilst we were there and both the gardens and views are beautiful (see picture). In Bellagio we stumbled across a great restaurant called Far Out! where I had gluten free four cheese pasta with saffron, which was very tasty! The other place which apparently does very good gluten free options (although I haven't tried it) is Hotel du Lac which is right on the waterfront near the ferry. One thing I will say for Far Out! is always ask the staff whether they have any gluten free pasta in, they're more than happy to oblige but they did need to check in with the kitchen when I asked. 



We only had one day in Milan, which felt too short in some ways, but we made the most of it anyway. We got the ferry from Menaggio to Varenna and then got a train to Milan (took 40 minutes). A word of caution - make sure you buy your tickets in advance from a news agent and get them validated in this machine (see pic on right). We visited the Santa Maria del Grazie which was stunning, although I'm sad we missed The Last Supper - you need to book at least 6 weeks in advance to see this! We also visited the incredible church Duomo and La Scala - definitely a must see in Milan.

After wandering around for a while we decided to go for a bite to eat and I'd heard fantastic reviews about a place called Bebop. As soon as we entered the lady said 'gluten free'?. 

She must have known we'd travelled specifically to find the place, which we had. They also cater for people who are dairy free, vegans and even my rather fussy parents (Mum doesn't like tomatoes and Dad doesn't like cheese) which is impressive given that it was mostly a pizza restaurant! It was safe to say I was spoilt for choice by their menu, the staff were very friendly and accommodating and on the whole made the experience very special for me. They even did gluten free breadsticks! Main course was a tomato, mozzarella, palma ham and gorgonzola pizza (yum!) and dessert was spicy melon ice cream with handmade biscuits. You can get tram 9 to Bebop (please double check this is up to date).

Bebop, Viale Col di Lana, 4
20136, Milan

On the whole I was impressed by how accommodating Italy was for coeliacs and how friendly people were when you ask for a gluten free meal. Admittedly I've only been to a small proportion of Italy, but it has given me the confidence and inspiration to explore it further in future. Lake Como is an incredibly beautiful part of the world and it's definitely somewhere I'd love to visit again some day...

I do hope this post is helpful for coeliacs visiting Lake Como (Lago di Como) and Milan. If you have any questions just get in touch! 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Gluten Free Travel: London

After being diagnosed I was a little nervous about eating out when on holiday, as the worry of being glutened was beyond my control. London was my first trip away and so I meticulously scoured the internet for tips and advice on where to eat. Doing your research prior to going on holiday is crucial, especially if you don’t want to starve and spend hours searching for a place to eat on the go. Not fun!  Here are a few places I have tried and tested, plus a couple of extras to try next time.

Feel free to follow my Pinterest gluten-free recipes board for tasty ideas and if you have a sweet tooth you can also check out my gluten-free dessert board too.

Leon – If these guys opened branches in Manchester I’d be eating there all the time! The food is amazing. Tasty, great value, friendly staff and a wicked vibe in all the restaurants. They have about 11 branches throughout London (check website for locations) and the food fills you up for hours – great when you’re on the move and sightseeing! Can be quite busy at lunch time in the smaller Leon branches, but you can choose whether to eat in or take away. Oh, nearly forgot the most important and tastiest part of Leon – their GF brownies! Heavenly. Leon caters for many dietary requirements and preferences: GL - Low  Glycemic load of less than 10/Low Sat Fat - Less than 1.5% per 100g/WF – Wheat Free/GF – Gluten Free/DF – Dairy Free/V – Vegetarian.
Pod Food – Pod Food has about 9 branches all over London (check website for locations). I found Pod great for breakfasts, snacks on the go and salads, for a much needed health kick. The staff are friendly and prices are very reasonable for London. The food ranges from super food healthy salads, hot lunches, wraps to GF cakes.  Pod caters for many dietary requirements and preferences: SF – Super food/LF – Low Fat/V – Vegetarian/ WF – Wheat Free/DF – Dairy Free/GF – Gluten Free.

Honest Burgers make some of the best burgers I've ever eaten in my life, even before I became a coeliac. They provide gluten-free buns for the burgers (which are always cooked medium) the rosemary salted chips are so bloody tasty and the onion rings are huge and more importantly gluten-free! I cannot express how good these burgers are, just go and be prepared to be be wheeled out with a stomach full of tasty food. I love this place and I wish they opened at least one branch in Manchester... The good news is you're always close to an Honest Burgers branch in London - here's a list of locations.

Carluccio's is one of my new favourite coeliac-friendly restaurants. They have branches all over the UK and they have an extensive gluten-free menu. I can't praise this restaurant enough, I've eaten in branches in Manchester and London and the choice is amazing, plus the staff are really helpful and the food tastes great (I have a mega soft spot for their panna cotta!). 

Niche Food & Drink is based near Sadler's Wells in London and is an entirely gluten-free restaurant. We made a special trip across London to eat at Niche and although the food was tasty, the service was not what I would expect from a small, independent place. As soon as we walked in we were asked if we had a reservation (we didn't) and then the gentlemen proceeded to tell us that we could have a table but he needed it back at 1.45pm - not what you want to be told when you've made a special trip and there were at least 6 free tables at that point. Now, I would try this place again as the food was good and there were lots of gluten-free options but I strongly recommend you book in advance, mostly because it seems to be what they would prefer you to do. However, if it's a cheap and cheerful lunch you're after then you might be best going to Leon or Pod Food as it was a little on the £££ side for a lunch, but it was a nice treat.

Wagamama – As you can tell from my post Eating Out: Manchester I love Wagamamas! The food is excellent, great value for money and coeliac-friendly staff. Please check the website for locations and booking information.
Other Resources:
Coeliac London – A great site on Facebook for advice on where to eat.  

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Getting Diagnosed and Living with Coeliac Disease.

What is Coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy or food intolerance, that damages the lining of the small intestine and affects the bodies immune system. This autoimmune reaction is triggered by gluten, which is a protein found in wheat (including spelt), rye, barley and oats (although not all coeliacs are affected by oats). In the bowel there are small finger-like projections called 'villi', which help us to absorb all the goodness and nutrients from food that our body needs. In a coeliac these villi become completely smooth and flattened by gluten, which is what causes the coeliac to become very ill.  The treatment for coeliac disease is a strict gluten free diet for life. Gluten is found in everyday foods such as breads, pastas, flours, cereals, cakes, biscuits, sausages (check labels), gravy, stock cubes, soy sauce, beer etc.

Symptoms can include: bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, wind, tiredness, anaemia, headaches, mouth ulcers, recurrent miscarriages, weight loss (but not in all cases), skin problems, depression, joint or bone pain and nerve problems (CoeliacUK)  
Click here for a full list of symptoms

Family History:  Coeliac disease often runs in families, but does not run in predictable patterns. If you have a close relative with the condition, such as a parent or sibling, your chance of developing it is higher. This risk is approximately 10% for those with a family history, compared with 1% for someone without a close relative with the condition. If you have an identical twin with coeliac disease, there is an 85% chance you will also develop the condition. Click here for a list of coeliac disease symptoms for children.

Getting the Diagnosis - Blood Tests and Endoscopy

If you suspect you might have coeliac disease then speak to your doctor immediately - it took me years before I found a doctor who would listen to me and who knew about the disease. If your doctor suspects that you might have coeliac disease it is vitally important to keep gluten in your diet in the run up to any blood tests (they usually perform a tissue transglutaminase blood test or 'tTG' test to look for Anti-transglutaminase antibodies) or indeed before the endoscopy itself - this is to avoid any false-negative results and to make sure a proper diagnosis is possible - some doctors recommend eating gluten for up to 6 weeks before any tests take place. Yes, you will feel uncomfortable and whilst it is tempting to cut out the gluten once your blood tests come back positive or 'elevated', you must keep eating gluten to make sure you will get absolute confirmation or diagnosis of coeliac disease from the results of your endoscopy. So power through and don't stop eating gluten until a medical professional tells you to stop - usually the gastroenterologist or dietician... 

After Diagnosis 
When you've (finally) been diagnosed you'll probably have a lot questions about the gluten free diet, what you can and can't eat and about coeliac disease itself. It's well worth doing your research and being prepared with some questions when you first see the dietician. It can be a life-changing experience going gluten free, I was diagnosed in December 2009 - I felt alive for the first time in years, my health improved dramatically, I wasn't so tired anymore, I lost just under 2 stone in the run-up to being diagnosed and I finally knew what it felt like to be 'normal' and not suffer terrible stomach pains (amongst other things!) everyday, which is something coeliacs unfortunately get used to, when undiagnosed. It is very important to seek advice and support about going gluten free and the gluten free diet from your dietician and doctor. It is quite common to feel disconnected and sometimes bewildered about where to start and what's normal. Your body will go through quite a transformation after going gluten free and this can be quite disconcerting if you're not sure what to expect. However, for UK patients there are several valuable resources you can use:

Facts and Figures (Statistics taken from a survey of over 1600 Coeliac UK Members, May 2009 – May 2010)
  • The average diagnosis time for coeliac disease in the UK is 13 years!
  • It is thought that 1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, but a lot of people are not actually diagnosed. 
  • Under-diagnosis is a big problem. Research suggests around 500,000 people have not yet been diagnosed.
  • 60% of people with coeliac disease have been previously misdiagnosed with IBS.
  • According to a CoeliacUK survey: 23% of patients with coeliac disease had visited doctors for 11 years or more and a further 11% of patients having symptoms, visited their doctor for over 20 years before finally being diagnosed. Nearly a third (32%) of respondents said that they thought GP knowledge about coeliac disease was poor or very poor.

Gluten Free Food on Prescription

The next thing you'll notice after discovering what you can and can't eat, is the potential expense of living and eating gluten free. But thankfully supermarkets are beginning to recognise coeliac disease and are creating clearer labels and gluten-free sections. Here are a few manufacturers and resources to help you get started:
But don't despair, you can eat relatively cheaply on a gluten-free diet if you know what to look for - your dietician will help you out with recipes and tips and tricks too. To help with the costs of living gluten free, you are entitled to gluten free food on prescription. Please note, this is only available for people who are medically diagnosed with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. Click on the Pre-Payment Certificate link above for more information and to sign up. It costs about £10 per month and you can set up a repeat prescription with your doctor and local pharmacy.

Awareness of Coeliac Disease

Thankfully diagnosis of coeliac disease is on the increase, however many coeliacs (including myself) have been told they have IBS without a thorough examination or further investigation into the symptoms. One of my main concerns, with regards to a lack of awareness of coeliac disease, is some doctors willingness to attribute all adominal symptoms and complaints to IBS and not further investigating why a patient has an irritable bowel. There are numerous reasons why a patient might suffer with abdominal complaints (and other symptoms), but I believe it is vitally important that doctors listen to their patients more and look beyond the 'IBS' label. When I think about how long I've had symptoms of coeliac disease, I can trace some of them back almost 10 years before diagnosis! It was only by chance that I saw a different doctor that progress was made and I had a blood test followed by an endoscopy some weeks later, which subsequently confirmed coeliac disease. My main piece of advise is to persevere - you will find a doctor that will listen to you one day.  

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Gluten Free Travel: Brighton

I always had a feeling Brighton would be suitable for coeliacs and I wasn't disappointed... 

For our first night in Brighton we ate at Food For Friends, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant with plenty of gluten-free (GF) options on the menu. We settled for the three course menu and they delivered one incredibly tasty meal after another, to be honest we were a little spoilt by how good the food and service was! For starters we both had Shiitake, chanterelle and smoked ricotta paté with red onion marmalade on a homemade toasted (GF) brioche

For the main meal I had a coconut curry with fried aubergine, courgettes and garden peas served with split pea and sesame dumplings, spiced rice and a crunchy fresh papaya, mango and cashew salad - the flavours were amazing! 

They had run out of ice cream for dessert on the set three course menu so the chef kindly offered to make me a dessert from scratch, so.... I chose the lemongrass infused crème brûlée with summer berry salad and a homemade lemon thyme sablé

Although the food sounds 'posh' don't be put off - the food was incredible, the atmosphere was lovely and the staff were very accommodating and friendly. This is definitely one of those places were I wish I had a lot more money so I could have eaten there all the time! 

The next day for lunch we decided to try Iydea on Kensington Gardens and I'm so glad we did! Again a vegetarian restaurant, but the generous portions mean you're full for hours and the prices were very reasonable. I fancied trying a dessert but was always too full to stomach one! It cost about £8 each for a substantial lunch, including a freshly squeezed juice. 

I had sweet potato, chickpea and mushroom massaman, with pesto new potatoes, rice and hummus and my boyfriend had the same massaman curry, green beans with almond and dill, broccoli, roast peppers and rocket salad with a coriander and garlic dressing and tahini roasted seeds on top

First you choose one main dish, then two hot veg or salads, then pick any two toppings.

The food was so good we went back the next day for more! The one thing I will say is space is quite limited so if you want to eat inside you may have to wait for a table, but if you're not so fussed then you can always get your food to go instead. 

On our second night in Brighton we decided to order in to our hotel from Pizzaface. They were so tasty! The choice of ingredients and selection of pizzas they offer, all on gluten-free bases, was staggering. To be honest we were a little spoilt for choice! 
So we could try more than one pizza we ordered both on a gluten-free base. First of all we tried the Jakub pizza - chorizo, pork and wild boar salami, caramelised onion, dollops of mascarpone and a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes and oregano. 

AND we tried the Cuca pizza - mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, caramelised onions, rosemary and finished with Napoli salami. Oh and a bottle of wine! 

These pizzas were something special and I kind if wish they had a branch in Manchester... 

I hope this brief intro to gluten-free Brighton helps if you're planning on going. As I was only there for a couple of days I sadly didn't get to try all of Brighton's tasty GF options, so here's a list below of some other options:  

Infinity Foods Café -  (Breakfast or Lunch)
50 Gardner Street, North Laines, BN1 1UN (01273 670743)

Donatello -  (evening meal - Italian)

1-3 Brighton Place, The Lanes, Brighton, BN1 1HJ (01273 775477)

Pinocchio -  (evening meal - Italian)
22 New Road, Brighton, BN1 1UF (01273 677676)

Al Duomo -  (Italian)
7 Pavillion Buildings, Brighton, BN1 1EE (01273 326741)

Famous Moe’s Pizza – 20 Southover Street, Brighton,  BN2 9UD (01273 676867)

Indian Summer (curry) - 
69 East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HQ (01273 711001)

Love Fit Café -  (Breakfast or Lunch)
14 Brighton Square, Brighton, BN1 1HD (01273 777941)

The Chilli Pickle (curry) - 
17 Jubilee Street, Brighton, BN1 1GE (01273 900383)

Moorish84 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3JD (01273 777765)

Angel Food Bakery20 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB (01273 208404)

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Gluten Free Travel

Gluten Free Travel

No matter where you are in the world the same principles apply whether you're eating in or eating out: pre-holiday preparation and research is key to not suffering and starving when you go abroad. I stumbled across a great site which has free coeliac travel cards. They explain what coeliac disease is and what you can and can't eat in 51 different languages, so if you get a little lost in translation on holiday then hopefully these cards will come in handy. I tried them out when I went to Italy this year and they were very useful, as my Italian is quite limited! 

I've recently stumbled across this website and I can't recommend it highly enough - it's a great resource for coeliacs who normally struggle to eat out, especially when travelling! It provides listings on a map of where you can eat out, where you can stay that caters for coeliacs and where to shop in most locations around the world :) Check it out fellow coeliacs! Oh and they also have some hints and tips on travelling gluten-free too. 

In-Flight Food

"I am serious...and don't call me Shirley!"
Another hurdle for many coeliacs, particularly on short flights is in-flight food, on long-haul flights you can request a gluten free meal in advance, just contact your airline or select when booking flights. This year I went to Italy in July, we flew to Amsterdam and changed to fly to Milan. Our flight was at 6am, I woke up at 3am had some breakfast, got to the airport about 4am and was unable to find anything suitable in the airport to eat before and during the flight, which meant when I finally arrived in Milan I was extremely hungry and finding something to eat straight away was difficult. By the time we arrived at the villa on Lake Como at 6pm (via Switzerland - long story!) I hadn't eaten a proper meal since 3am! I was feeling faint, dehydrated, tired and almost delusional from the heat and travel. 

Airlines need and should cater for people with dietary requirements, as there are a growing number of people with food intolerances and allergies who are regular and frequent flyers and are paying the exact same price as everyone else on the plane who do get to eat. It's unfair, discriminatory and wrong. A word of advice, always travel prepared with plenty of gluten free snack bars and munchies in your hand luggage, as taking a ready made pasta meal in a Tupperware box on board is not likely to get through security or a sensible recommendation.
Happy Coeliac!

Airlines, restaurants, shops, venues etc are extremely foolish not to cater for coeliacs and people with other dietary requirements as "between 1999 and 2004, the market for organic and 'free from’ retail products grew by 115% to reach £3 billion, a rate five times faster than that of the eating out market". It is estimated that people who have special dietary requirements spend approximately £5 billion on eating out per year and with increasing awareness of dietary issues, companies willing to accommodate for specific dietary needs will be at a distinct advantage. Mintel report, January 2005 (Impact of Diets on Eating Out). 

Travel Recommendations

My list of gluten free restaurants I have explored on my travels are expanding and this is one of the main reasons for starting this blog, alongside wanting to help other coeliacs who struggle for places to eat in the UK and abroad. So far I've posted guides on eating out when in:

I've nearly finished my Lake Como and Milan gluten free guide, will let you all know when it's done. Next year I'm exploring Edinburgh as a coeliac, I went before being diagnosed so this time will be quite different - no traditional shortbread for me!