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.
By the end of my second full week, and into the third weekend, I felt confident that I was forming new habits and that a basic pattern of meals was emerging. Although, at this time it was hard to pin point any particular improvements to specific symptoms, other than the IBS, I was experiencing enough of an improvement in my general wellbeing to want to continue.
One of the most challenging aspects of this way of eating (gluten-free, potato-free, low sugar and no hydrogenated oils as recommended in Dr Blatman’s Food Brochure) is shopping for the ingredients. Most supermarkets have ‘Free From’ aisles but none of them carry a wide enough range to cover everything I need. The same applies to health food shops, especially when you live in a semi-rural area where the stores aren’t deemed big enough to carry a full range. For my basic ingredients I now shop at two different Asian food shops, thankfully New Milton, Hampshire is diverse enough to have them, two different health food shops and five different supermarkets. However, the supermarkets are mostly needed for branded snack items.
The second problem is the time and energy required, not just for the shopping, but also for the preparation, cooking and clearing away. This leads to the third problem of having things to hand to eat when your energy resources are low.
For now I thought I would share with you the changes I have made to my store cupboard, the snacks I have come to rely on and the easiest, most wonderful recipe I have found for a bread replacement.
This is the shopping list I use to make sure I have everything I need in the cupboards.
There are one or two specifically gluten-free items to look out for when shopping, mainly those ingredients used for flavouring:
- Swiss Bouillon – I’ve used this product for years because, as a loose powder rather than stock cube, it gives me control over the strength of my stock and a sprinkle can be used as extra seasoning. The gluten-free/ organic variety is less salty.
- Soy Sauces and Teriyaki Sauces both contain gluten.
- Worcestershire Sauce contains gluten
- Malt vinegar contains gluten
- Not all rice is gluten-free, the sticky variety contains gluten
I mention these because, having thought I had excluded gluten from my diet, I have still experienced some IBS symptoms on occasions and, when I was checking on my store cupboard ingredients for this post, discovered the above sources of gluten. Originally I had thought that I had only a slight gluten intolerance: too much bread made me feel bloated and uncomfortable and eating pizza was disastrous. Now I realise that it is more significant than that. The times when I have experienced IBS symptoms have been following the use of soy sauces, teriyaki sauce and Worcestershire sauce. This explains why sometimes mince dishes and stews agree with me and other times they don’t.
Stir-fry meals are still possible as, thankfully, most sweet chilli sauces don’t contain gluten – but do check the labels.
Snacks and Cheats
Right at the start of this process I set myself two rules. Rules are there to be broken and on occasions that’s fine, especially when the two rules aren’t always compatible.
Rule Number 1:
Rule Number 2:
Few ingredients and simple method
There were very good reasons behind my rules: I have fibromyalgia so things have to be relatively easy and I’m a foodie, I confess, I have to enjoy what I’m eating.
My preferred snacks have always been rather Mediterranean: olives, almonds, cheeses and cured meats. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a Mediterranean region, so these things aren’t always available.
Here we have what I call my safety net – a selection of ‘off-the-shelf’ items that I’m happy to eat.
Again, it’s important to check the labels on these products. They may be gluten-free but that doesn’t mean they are free from the other things I’m supposed to be avoiding. One particular ingredient that is often used in gluten-free products is potato starch. Mrs Crimble’s Chocolate Macaroons, that I have so depended on for my sugar boosts, contains potato starch. This would explain why I feel bad if I have eaten them on too many consecutive days. Another is hydrogenated oil, which is often found in processed foods. And then there’s the sugar! And, of course, they are expensive.
This is why these products are for emergencies and not for everyday consumption.
I will also note that I have tasted very many gluten-free products that I have hated, but this is a positive blog, so I will only share the ones I like and that suit me. Hopefully, this will help you when searching for your own ‘safety net’ items.
Now to the promised recipe:
Brazilian Cheese Bread or Pão de Queijo
I found this recipe on-line when our daughter was living at home and had been advised to follow a gluten-free diet by our doctor. An internet search will reveal many recipes, which are all very similar. When I found this one I wrote it in to my recipe book and now can’t remember where I found it, so if you think it’s yours let me know and I’ll credit you.
These cheese breads are wonderful. They are not really like bread – you wouldn’t slice them, add butter and a filling or use them as toast, but they are a very good alternative to a bread roll with soup or on the side of a salad. The cheese filling can be varied according to taste, use and whatever’s in your fridge.
And, because they are made from a batter, they make a great alternative to Yorkshire pudding with your roast beef. I even flavour mine with some horseradish sauce by adding some to the batter before cooking. For this meal I was organised enough to grease on section of the Yorkshire pudding tray with butter for my batter and oil in the others for my husbands standard Yorkshire pudding, which meant only one tray to wash up. Keep things simple!
To make them you need:
175gs tapioca flour
80 ml olive oil (I use a light one rather than a heavy extra virgin oil)
160 ml milk (here it’s best to use at least semi-skimmed, preferably whole milk)
65gs grated cheese (I use half cheddar and half parmesan. All cheddar makes them quite chewy)
tsp salt (to taste)
- Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees celsius or gas 6.
- Grease a cupcake tray with butter (you only need to do the number of cups you want to fill)
- Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a smooth batter.
- Pour batter evenly into cupcake tray and bake at top of oven for 15-20 minutes, until batter has puffed up and is slightly brown. Leave to cool before eating.
The batter will keep in a covered container for up to 1 week in the fridge.
You can flavour the batter with herbs and spices if you wish. I make a plain batter and add flavourings at the time of cooking.
Leftovers (if there are any) can be stored in an airtight container and are best eaten within 24 hours, otherwise they go dry.
These never last long and your gluten eating friends and family will devour them.
The most difficult part of this recipe is cleaning the blender. It’s best to have one with components that can go in the dishwasher. And a top tip from my husband, who got fed up with me continually asking him to loosen the jug from the base:
Put the empty jug back on the blender, then turn the jug in the opposite direction to normal so as to loosen it slightly rather than tightening. Lift off and remove base with ease. Works every time.