In this series of posts Sally shares the first stages of her lifestyle change to a gluten-free, potato-free and low sugar diet, as one of the ways to manage her fibromyalgia symptoms.
For my first week I made a few simple substitutions and omissions, discovered a fabulous chocolate cake recipe and tentatively introduced myself to polenta.
From my previous experience I knew that main meals would pose few problems except that, as a long-term lifestyle change, I needed to be aware of my food budget. It’s easy to omit wheat products and potatoes when you increase your portion of protein, especially if your protein comes from a prime cut such as, fillet steak, Dover sole, chicken or duck breast. Cheaper cuts are often developed into dishes containing wheat products or potatoes and even if you stick with stews and casseroles, there’s still nothing better than mopping up the juices with a chunk of bread or mashing your potato into the last bit of sauce.
And here’s my dilemma – I hate, detest and loath bread and pastries made with ‘gluten free flour’ as a substitute for plain, self-raising and strong flours.
As the wonderfully expressive Cherish Finden from the BBC’s Bake Off Crème de la Crème puts it: IT’S NOT NICE ON MY PALATE.
So my plan is to use ingredients and find recipes for dishes that are naturally gluten and potato free.
Rule Number 1:
And, as positive as I like to be the reality is that having fibromyalgia hinders me in the kitchen and shopping, especially for elusive ingredients.
Rule Number 2:
Few ingredients and simple method
The first day of my lifestyle change was a Sunday
No change necessary to my usual breakfast.
A salad of avocado, mozzarella, tomato and rocket
This salad is one of my husband’s favourites – the discovery of a ripe avocado, perfect tomato or reduced price buffalo mozzarella sends us into a desperate search for the other ingredients. With a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a product once again in the media for its super food credentials when taken, as here, in its raw state, and we have a delicious, light lunch.
Add a couple of chunks of fresh whole grain bread for my husband and a whole avocado for me, to make up for the lack of bread and we are both happy.
Beef stew with savoy cabbage
And for my husband, served with boiled potatoes and dumplings. Ah! Dumplings! I love (oops used to love) dumplings. I stayed strong. I heated my husband’s portion in a separate pan in which I cooked his dumplings.
On the whole – not a bad start. I found the meals perfectly satisfying. The stew sauce was sufficiently thick enough to be eaten up with the cabbage and an extra portion of avocado made up for having no bread, in terms of satisfying hunger.
BUT . . . I’d missed our weekend mornings’ coffee ritual. There was no pain au chocolate, croissant or Danish pastry with my coffee. My next mission was to find a replacement.
Monday Morning and I’m on a Mission
I need something with chocolate a little sugar and I need it for coffee time, today.
A quick internet search and I had Nigella’s Chocolate and Olive Oil cake.
This cake is so fabulous that it has replaced a Victoria sponge in my repertoire of frequently made cakes. It contains very few ingredients and is simple to make. What’s more wonderful is its versatility; not only do I love it, but so does everyone else who has ever tasted it, whether they have a gluten intolerance or not. Nigella’s purple prose sings its praises admirably. This cake is not just for coffee time – it is for all times: morning coffee, dessert, afternoon tea, special occasions. Wonderful for when you’re going to friends for dinner and you say, “Oh, shall I bring dessert?” Gorgeous on its own, with chocolate sauce, cream, ice cream and perfectly well-dressed when ‘accessorized’ with raspberries or other fruits of your choice. As you can tell it has won my heart.
It’s not a cheap cake, as it requires ground almonds and good quality cocoa powder. The cheapest I’ve made it for is about £4.20. The most reasonably priced ground almonds I have found are from Lidl. I prefer Green and Black’s cocoa powder, although Bournville is pleasant and makes a lighter, drier cake. The cake will keep in a tin for a week, if it’s not eaten before then. A small slice is all you need.
Nigella uses bicarbonate of soda in this recipe, which results in a slightly sunken gooey middle. This can make it difficult to remove from the tin – always a problem for those of us with fibromyalgia. I now leave the cake in the tin on a cooling rack until completely cool to avoid breakages. You can also replace the bicarbonate of soda with gluten-free baking powder for a firmer texture.
Back to my Monday menu:
Cappuccino and a slice of chocolate olive oil cake
Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon
A cup of chamomile tea and, another, small slice of chocolate olive oil cake
(I deserved a treat after watching my husband devour his pastries on Sunday morning)
My variation of a Salad Niçoise
Fresh griddled tuna steak, sautéed sweet potato cubes, with a warm salad of French beans, cherry tomatoes and black olives in a vinaigrette dressing and a hard-boiled egg.
This meal was inspired by the discovery of some well-reduced fresh tuna in Waitrose – I’m always conscious of our fibro-finances. My husband, not a sweet potato lover, had sautéed potatoes instead.
A very happy Fibro-Foodie
Positively living with fibromyalgia