In our Autumn 2020 issue, Elle Fox of CNM (The College of Naturopathic Medicine) wrote about the drawbacks of gluten, while Svetlana Sidorova provided us with a great gluten-free recipe for Buckwheat and Almond Meal Bread. We can’t wait to try it out!
The Allergy Expo is on in the RDS in Dublin until 6pm today, and after spending much of yesterday sampling all the treats on offer here and listening in to the cooking demos (We’re located very near them), I thought I’d put out some tips of who to check out if you arrive out today, or who to look up if you’ve missed this lovely affair.
1. Everyone here is super friendly
I’m not sure if it’s something to do with there being less sugar, dairy and gluten in everyone’s system for the last two days, or if it’s that many of these businesses are small, local and largely started because they wanted to offer something great that can be hard to find, and those owners are mostly here with their products but whatever the reason, it’s made for a lovely atmosphere so come with all of your questions, the experts are ready for you.
2. Blue Haven
My God this stuff is good. I cannot stop going back to eat the chicken live pate. It is heaven in a tub. They also offer a smoked salmon pate and some other products, all gluten free. But you will have a hard time not going back for more. And more. And more.
3. Doherty Meats
Doherty meats offer gluten free sausages, meatballs and burgers. This post is definitely showing my carnivore side, these were my second-most eaten samples at the expo. As I write this I’ve just popped another of their cocktail sausages in my mouth. We forget that foods we love that aren’t bread can contain gluten and the freezer-friendly options from these guys are certainly family and time friendly. That and they are hella tasty. For those of you who aren’t fans of overly meaty sausages (i.e. Irish people), don’t worry, the sausages taste like regular sausages but better.
4. Rebelicious Foods
Breakfast – the most gluteny meal of the day for many people. So what if you could leave gluten out? Even if you’re not intolerant or coeliac, gluten isn’t the best thing to put too much of in our systems. Have a read why in our ‘What IS Gluten?‘ feature. I’ve eaten Rebelcious Foods lovely bran-flakes, is it weird that I love bran flakes? I know they look like cardboard but I’m a fan in general. The Rebelicious option is as good, lacking in things that aren’t good for you, and their whole range is really reasonably priced. They’re offering discounts here at the expo but even their general store prices are entirely doable – a welcome surprise for a niche product with such lovely packaging.
Sowan’s win best gluten free chocolate brownie at the expo, hands down. And there are a lot of them here. They offer bake at home products that are gluten free. Mix it up in a bowl and pop it in the oven and you get to enjoy the baking smells as well as the eating of them. There’s something very special about the smell of things baking, (especially when those things contain chocolate.) But sometimes things smell better than they taste, not Sowan’s. They nailed it.
6. Dr. Coys
Dr. Coys are a very new business, having only launched in June. And coy they should be, the packaging is sexy and the lime and ginger chocolate tastes like nothing I’ve ever eaten – in a really really good way. It’s like a little holiday for your mouth and your brain. It would take me a paragraph to describe it in a way it deserves so just come taste it yourself. Their ethos is to use organic products and superfoods that have countless benefits, meaning it’s not just about the taste, it’s also about health and beauty and putting things into your body that give you more energy and make you feel good. It’s chocolate/art so perfect for a Sunday.
Bfree are here with sombreros and seats that look like loaves of bread so that makes me love them anyway. But they have gluten and wheat free fajita kits that are also vegan friendly, egg free, soy free, dairy free, nut free and high in fibre. They’re dead handy, so easy to make that they’re making them here and taste perfect. If the thought of going gluten-free makes you tear up about missing beautifully fluffy white bread, BFree are there for you for that too. Lovely!
8. Health & Herbs
The famous Galway health store where Dr. Dilis Clare is based are here to help you out with herbal ways to cope with allergies. Dr. Dilis Clare was also presenting at the expo. Her top tips for when you’re dealing with the symptoms of an allergy? Cool down your system like the engine of a car! Give it oil, fatty acids like Omega 3 and water. Herbal teas and tinctures can help too and they’re the perfect people to chat to about it.
9. Silk Sleep Pillows
These guys asked me if I wanted a pillow (which I thought looked overly shiny for sleeping on) every single time and I passed and I kept saying “No thank you, no thank you,” until eventually I had to stop and ask, “Ok, what is the deal with the pillows?!” The pillow covers are made from Mulberry Silk and are hypoallergenic as they’re naturally resistant to dust mites. But these guys began selling them in their beauty clinic, as they help prevent ageing, by stopping sleep creases and lines and don’t absorb the night cream you’ve so carefully put on your skin before going to sleep so they leave your skin more hydrated – they wanted to create more value for customers skin care purchases.
10. DS Gluten Free Pizza
It looks like pizza, it tastes like pizza, what’s not to love? Eating it, I wouldn’t have picked it out as being free of anything! Which is want you want from a pizza.
Other great people here to check out that I don’t have time to write about before the laptop battery dies!
The wonderful Blazing Salads; my neighbour here today, the College of Naturopathic Medicine have a stand if you’re thinking of starting a course or furthering training, the wonderfully tasty and Vegan-famous Cornucopia, Doireann Barrett from the Gluten Free Kitchen Co., Anneco; a natural mineral make up products (an Irish company), the American Muffin Company; lovely lovely guys as well as a great range of your favourite baked goods, PureBred; another lovely bake-at home range, the Gluten Free Foodie; the best Apple Tart here and on special offer at the expo – get one for your lovely mam/friend/housemate/someone who want to thank for something and drink tea with, and Iswari Superfoods; carefully and considerately sourced, high quality organic superfoods, for when you need to eat little things that make you feel like a superhero.
What IS gluten anyway?
By Elva Carri
With the Allergy and Free-From Expo coming to Dublin and Cork this autumn, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most commonly avoided foods, exciting alternatives and a few tips from the top from expo speakers on how you and your family can really enjoy living freely with your food.
What is gluten anyway?
With lots of people avoiding gluten, it was fun to see Jimmy Kimmel do a short video piece recently where he asked a number of gluten-free enthusiasts what gluten actually is. While all were aware of what foods to avoid, none could answer the question! Gluten is a composite protein made up of gliadin and glutenin and found in grass-related grains. Dr. Tom O’Bryan explains that when it comes to digestion, protein is a little bit like a brick wall. Our digestive system’s role is to take the mortar off the bricks and use the individual bricks for things like building muscle. With a gluten intolerance, your system can’t take the mortar off the bricks. Your brain doesn’t recognise what the brick and mortar combination is and instructs your immune system to produce antibodies to fight it, resulting in the symptoms you’ll be familiar with. The gluten content of wheat has actually gone up by 50% in the last fifty years. More gluten means lighter, fluffier bread, but it’s not making our digestive system as happy as we’d like to keep it.
Where to get the best gluten-free stuff
Ten years ago, sticking to a gluten-free diet might have felt like a chore. Today, it often sets people off on quite the food adventure. Not only are there a lot more products on the market, but there’s also a lot more advice available on what to eat, rather than what to avoid. And Ireland is ahead of the game in some ways. The first entirely free-from gluten kitchen in Europe was The Gluten Free Kitchen Company in Tralee, it’s still the only one of it’s kind in Ireland. It’s all home baked and the perfect spot for food lovers and health conscious alike. The American Muffin Company are a specialist baker based in the UK with a scrumptious wheat free, gluten free classic muffin. In Ireland, the Gluten Free Foodie is a great artisan bakery specialising in wheat free and gluten free handmade breads, cakes and tarts. If you like baking at home, Sowan’s Organic make a great chocolate brownie mix. And if you’re more a fan of savoury treats, Keogh’s make the only Irish produced gluten-free crisps. And you can check them all out in one day at the Expo as they’ll all be exhibiting. (Scroll to the end for a links.)
Get to know your body
If you’ve been living a healthy lifestyle and still find nagging, little problems that you can’t quite figure out how to shake, it might be time for an allergy test. People are often surprised at the simplicity of a small diet change and the positive impact it can have on their whole life. There are a growing number of places you can have an allergy test done, with some even offering a test by post. Some reliable testers with many happy clients testifying to the benefits include Nutricentric and YorkTest. There’ll be information on them and plenty more at the Expo. Along with these guys and some of the exhibitors mentioned above, you’ll also find some great speakers and cookery demonstrations to get you inspired. We spoke to a few of the expo experts for some pre-show tips.
Herbal Helpfulness, Dr. Dilis Clare
Dr. Dilis Clare recommends a tea with nettle, camomile and ribwort to sooth the inflammation of allergies. If you already have a camomile tea, simply snip some nettles and ribwort from the garden and brew it together. Interestingly, the herbs that help hayfever come out at the same time of year as our symptoms. Secondly she advises that because allergies are often an ‘overheating’ of the system, just like a car – check your oil and water! Get some essential fatty acids into your diet and hydrate.
Green Spaghetti, Eddie Eriksson
Working as a vegan chef, Eddie is well used to avoiding dairy and eggs. He says rice flour is his favourite substitute for regular flour, and works on a one to one ratio when subbing it in. And as a great, green alternative to spaghetti, try using a jullienne peeler on a courgette with your spaghetti bolognese. Use it warmed but raw. Much prettier than beige pasta.
Paul Kelly, The Great Irish Bake Off
Paul is a great believer in the importance of food as part of looking after our wellbeing and our state of mind. He recommends trying out new recipes at home for the sheer joy of it. Paul also noted that if you’re changing your diet, be patient with yourself because it’s not easy in the beginning. His advice – do your research, don’t worry about getting things right the first time and experiment until you’ve created dishes you love!
Dr. Denise Kelly, The Gluten-Free Foodie
Dr. Denise Kelly who runs a gluten free bakery and will be speaking at the expo gave us her best tips for alternatives in baking and pizza bases! Wholegrain rice flour has quite a neutral flavour and performs very similarly to wheat flour with the addition of xanthan gum. With savoury pastries, I’ll often add some gram flour. It has higher protein content than most other gluten-free flours and lends a lovely savoury flavour to the product. With products that stale naturally quite quickly, such as scones, I’ll use some potato starch to hold the moisture in the product. Another flour that I’ve discovered relatively recently is sorghum flour which makes a lovely flatbread. And tapioca flour makes a lovely pizza base with very few additional ingredients.
- Dr. Dilis Clare, GP and Medical Herbalist. Fresh insights from her years of experience.
- Dr. Joe FitzGibbon, doctor and author with specialist interests in allergy, fatigue and nutrition.
- Dr. Denise Kelly, Phd in Food Anxiety, will talk about parental stress concerning children eating out.
- Eddie Eriksson of Cornucopia, will look at a ‘flexitarian’ approach to family cooking.
- Lorraine Fitzmaurice of Blazing Salads, pick up some tips for nutritional home cooking.
- Tara Canning: Nutritionist, dietitian and Masterchef.
Gluten Free Greats
- Purebred: Tasty alternatives like raisin toast and chia seed loaf. pure-bred.com
- Sowans: ‘Make at home’ mixes, Ginger Cake, Chocolate Brownies and more. sowansorganic.ie
- The Gluten Free Kitchen Company: A entirely gluten free kitchen, café and delicatessen in Tralee. on.fb.me/1gg19Pf
- Keogh’s Crisps: Gluten-free treats for active kids, busy teens and you. keoghs.ie
- The American Muffin Company: Classic American Muffins with no wheat or gluten. americanmuffin.com
- Gluten Free Foodie: Irish artisan bakery serving the best handmade gluten and wheat free breads, cakes and tarts. theglutenfreefoodie.com
theallergyexpo.ie | 11 – 12 October, RDS, Dublin | 8 – 9 November, City Hall, Cork
The Gluten Free Foodie
What is it and how to have a great, tasty gluten free diet.
By Dr. Denise Kelly
We have a great Gluten Free feature in our Summer issue, but we got so much great info from the people we talked to, we thought we’d share some extra bits online to complement everything in the magazine. The Gluten-Free Foodie is the alter ego of Dr. Denise Kelly. Denise was the first graduate of the B.A. in Culinary Arts Honours Degree programme with the Dublin Institute of Technology to be awarded with a Ph.D. for her research in the area of food anxiety. Dr. Kelly will be speaking at the upcoming Allergy & Free From Expo this September. Pick up a free copy of the summer issue of Positive Life in one of our stockists, or subscribe to have it delivered.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is simply the umbrella term for a couple of proteins, gliadin and glutenin, found in wheat, barley, rye and related grains such as spelt. When mixed with water, gluten is a strong, sticky, stretchy protein that gives structure to baked products. Without gluten, a baked product has no ‘scaffolding’, no structure to hold it up after it has risen.
With coeliac disease, the body recognises gluten as a foreign invader similar to an infection or virus and it mounts an immune response. This immune response leads to inflammation in the lining of the small intestine which prevents nutrients from being absorbed properly and consequently any of a broad range of symptoms may develop.
My favourite flour alternatives
Wholegrain rice flour is the flour I use in the majority of my baking. I find that a lot of the gluten-free blended flours produce what I identify on first bite as the gluten-free ‘taste’ and ‘smell’. You shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a wheat-containing product and its gluten-free alternative. Wholegrain rice flour has quite a neutral flavour and performs very similarly to wheatflour with the addition of xanthan gum.
With savoury pastries, I’ll often add some gram flour. It has higher protein content than most other gluten-free flours and lends a lovely savoury flavour to the product.
With products that stale naturally quite quickly, such as scones, I’ll use some potato starch to hold the moisture in the product.
Another flour that I’ve discovered relatively recently is sorghum flour which makes a lovely flatbread with the only added ingredients being warm water and a flavouring such as kalonji seeds.
I don’t particularly like tapioca flour in baked goods but I find it makes a lovely pizza base and again with very few additional ingredients.
And then last but not least, I use corn starch to make roux-based sauces such as Bechamel sauce and to make coated meat and poultry dishes such as ‘Crispy Chilli Beef Five-Spice’ or ‘Salt and Chilli Chicken Wings’.
So they’re the flours that I use consistently – wholegrain rice flour, gram flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and corn starch – obviously all certified gluten-free as cross-contamination with gluten-containing flours in production and packaging is often an issue.
The best thing about a gluten-free diet
I suppose the best thing about a gluten-free diet to me is the difference it has made to my health. Before I was diagnosed I had gastrointestinal issues, I was always tired, I struggled to concentrate and seemed to have a permanent brain fog. But that all changed within a few months of going gluten-free.
Really I suppose that’s a question you ask someone who eats gluten-free as a personal choice. For someone like me who has no choice but to eat gluten-free, there are not many advantages over a ‘normal’ diet. Initially after diagnosis, I had absolutely nothing good to say about being on a gluten-free diet. You’re bombarded with information about the food stuffs that you can never have again. There is no emphasis on what you can eat. It’s overwhelming. You’re in mourning. But as with most changes in life, you become accustomed to it. Eight years on for me, I don’t really give it a second thought. I’m lucky in that I’m a good cook myself and understand food ingredients. I don’t think that there’s anything I can’t make gluten-free. But for those who have limited culinary skill, eating gluten-free is both daunting and frustrating. You always have to plan ahead and have your wits about you. You always have to have a gluten-free snack with you because when you’re hungry you make bad food choice decisions. You need to read labels because a product that was gluten-free last month may not be gluten-free this month. Eating gluten-free is more expensive and eating out socially is often disappointing.
So I’m struggling to think of anything else ‘good’ about the gluten-free diet. The only thing I can think of is that when I bring cheesecakes or cupcakes or other baked products to family gatherings and my siblings descend on them like vultures, they’re always conscious of leaving some for me because the goodies are gluten-free. Otherwise they wouldn’t give me a thought!
Tips for phasing it out of your diet
If you’re diagnosed coeliac, I’d recommend going back to basics until you become familiar with what you can and can’t have. Prepare food yourself from scratch and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Start sourcing the basics like gluten-free stock cubes, gravy mix, corn starch and pasta. Start reading labels and become familiar with gluten-containing ingredients and sources of hidden gluten such as soy sauce and barley extract.
If somebody else regularly cooks for you or you stay in their home eg. your parents, siblings, friends – pop some of the store cupboard essentials mentioned above into their larder, a couple scones into their freezer, so that there’s less stress for you and them when you visit.
Exciting things in the gluten-free world…
There’s a lot happening in the gluten-free world at the moment. The availability and quality of the gluten-free offerings available are improving day by day. My concern is that a lot of production companies and food service operators are jumping on the ‘gluten-free bandwagon’ because of the increasing potential for sales. But many don’t really understand food allergen control. This is especially the case in the food-service industry. Restaurants and hotels quite often have gluten-free offerings on their menus, but I know for a fact that back of house don’t always understand issues with cross-contamination, nor do they fully understand the ingredients they use. I’m interested in having more emphasis placed on food allergen control at a grass roots level in the catering colleges. It’d make such a difference to us coeliacs.
Godfrey Goes Gluten Free
Little changes with big impacts
Working as a pharmacist, I see people present with symptoms that are likely diet-related every day. My ears prick up when people describe big hangovers after little beer – but none with low-gluten whiskey or vodka, or buy Motilium a day after pizza. Having worked in Ireland, mainland Europe and Asia, I’ve seen how diet is key.
The most satisfying part of my job is seeing inspiring people joining the dots and seizing control of their health. Godfrey, an MS sufferer in Gorey, tamed his MS through diet changes. His MS isn’t completely gone, but being aware of how his diet affects him gives him more power over his health and life.
One of the tests used to monitor MS is how well you balance with your eyes closed. Godfrey can not only stand with his eyes shut now, but he’s brimming with energy has even inspired his GP to change her diet.
Peter Conry is a nutritional and exercise oriented pharmacist will be speaking at this year’s Your Health Show at the RDS, Dublin.