In May 2013, I visited Coeliac Queensland’s Gluten Free Expo in Brisbane. Hundreds of gluten free products in the one place at the one time, it felt like gluten free heaven. The expo also gives you a chance to taste test products, bring home samples, talk with suppliers and producers and broaden your pantry range of gluten free products.
The Fantastic Delites snack packs caught my eye as a great item for the school lunch box. The stall holder said that they distributed this product mainly through the independent supermarkets. So off I sent my husband to a number of independents in Townsville. I had friends who also shopped in other areas of the city, searching the shelves for this products and none were to be found.
Time passes and we found snack packs in the Peckish range and a handful of rice crackers in a ziplock bag became a lunchbox staple.
So yesterday, one day after my gf son finished school, I found them… the Delites Snack packs…. at The Reject Shop Fairfield Central Shopping Centre.
So I think about the message in there…. keep on browsing the shelves of stores because you never know when and where you might find a gluten free product that you either didn’t know existed or you didn’t know where to find it.
As gluten free shoppers we sometimes become narrow in our habits and go directly to the sections of supermarkets where we know our favourite products are. Occasionally, we need to allow ourselves some browsing time because you never know where you will find something or when.
How easy is this recipe: two ingredients, one saucepan and one tray.
200 g unsalted roasted peanuts
200 g granulated sugar
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a heavy based saucepan, place the sugar and cook over medium heat. Shake the pan until the sugar has melted evenly into a golden caramel.
Working quickly ( the caramel may burn if left too long) add the peanuts and stir with a wooden spoon.
Pour onto prepared tray, spread and flatten, then set aside to cool completely.
Cut the peanut brittle into small chunks using a sharp knife or use a rolling pin to break into pieces.
The original recipe from taste.com.au magazine September 2014 drizzled melted white chocolate and dark chocolate over the brittle.
My coeliac teenager is almost at the end of his secondary schooling and so the ‘ lunch box’ will be going into retirement. KJ is the youngest of our four sons so I have been packing lunch boxes since 1994. It will a milestone day when the last school lunch box comes home.
But what I will miss is KJ’s source of ‘new’ gluten free snacks: his friends. I think that he has a friend who has a nut allergy and so I gather there is discussion over the ‘lunch box’ about different products and allergen free foods.
I threw out a wrapper recently, only to find KJ searching through the bin for it. ” Why don’t you buy me these for snacks?” he asked. Not sure why, but maybe I felt that the “My Yummy Lunchbox” label would not be readily accepted by this young adult. I was wrong!
My Yummy Lunchbox has quite an extensive range, so if you are looking to broaden your child’s lunch box snack options then check them out. They are available at Coles in the Gluten Free section.
PS Packing up the last school lunch box:
All I want for Christmas is …
a greater presence of Well & Good products on the supermarket shelves.
I thank Irena from Cooking Without Gluten for her recent blog about Well and Good’s Rye-less Rye Bread Mix. I have not used “Well & Good” products before but Irena’s photos and blog inspired me to try this bread mix.
I loved it, my husband had a lukewarm response to it and while my gf teenager had a small piece, I knew that asking him to “like” brown bread was a big ask.
It is a product with complex tastes but it is easy to handle and presents beautifully. Don’t be too alarmed at the rather greyish colour of the mixture because the end product is rich and brown.
A big thank you to Well & Good who have provided me with a complimentary package of some of their white bread products which is much more appealing to my gf teenager.
My first attempt was rated by my gf and non-gf members as a ‘must make again’ bread. It handled beautifully and not sticky at all. I made a hand shaped small loaf and 4 bread rolls with the pack. It was crusty on the outside and light on the inside. Unlike some of the other bread mixes I have made which have to be cool before you can cut them open, I broke open a bread roll while still warm and it was soft and didn’t glug up.
Fresh warm bread and melting butter… we haven’t had that experience since pre – gf days.
The bonus with Well & Good’s Crusty Bread Mix is that it includes the yeast sachet and dusting flour sachet.
Last year I wrote about gluten free food related gift ideas and stocking fillers. I had satisfied myself that you can find a gluten free food gift at Christmas and I hope that I have also given others some ideas. So with my second blogging Christmas fast approaching I have put my thoughts toward other gift ideas for those with coeliac disease.
1. Recipe Books
For something special Good without Gluten
For something practical Taste.com Gluten Free
For something personal : if your gf son or daughter is ready to leave home then make up your own cookbook with your tried and tested gluten free recipes. I made a recipe book last year for my gf son which is filled with all the practical recipes I know he will use and make when he leaves home. A copy sits on my kitchen bench and is used many many times during the week for flat breads, wraps, bread rolls, granola, pancakes. And it also includes recipe bases for spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, risottos.
2. Kitchen Help If you have friends or family just starting their gluten free journey then here are a couple of things I have found extremely useful…
Breville Crepe Maker and Stick Blender
Australian Gluten Free Life who publish a monthly magazine have launched their “The Box” :a box of gluten free goodies delivered to your door on a monthly basis. Looks interesting as I see this ‘surprise box’ concept is popular in other parts of the world. This is a great way to try new products that you might necessarily and readily have access to.
4.. Ready to Make
If you yourself are not a gluten free-er, then you can still put together a package with a recipe card and a few pantry ingredients for the recipe. Remember, it is the thought that counts and the fact that you have put a little thought and time makes this gift special. Choose recipes that will only require the addition of a few ingredients on top of the ones that you have put in the gift.
You either love olives or you don’t but for our family, olives are one of life’s necessities. I remember my second youngest son’s first birthday party. He hovered over the plate of cheese, salami and stuffed olives and much to the horror of a family friend he happily shoved fistfuls of tasty morsels into his mouth.
For bread making, I use packet mixes and one of them is from Springhill Farm: the Real Bread Mix. You can use this packet to make an olive bread and I have had good results. Not a confident bread maker, I make gluten free bread out of necessity and as I don’t have pantry space to keep multiple flours to blend myself, I find Laucke and Springhill Farm my best ‘go to’ bread mixes. Laucke has a focaccia recipe using the Easy Bakers Gluten Free Bread Mix but use more than 1 tablespoon of olives… olives are definitely not optional in our household as the recipe states.
Another great olive recipe:
250 g black olives
1 cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon capers (drained or if using salted capers, wash capers thoroughly)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Add ingredients to a food processor or bowl of a stick blender and blend until you reach your desired consistency.
Don’t let a gluten free diet take all the fun out a birthday celebration.
Food appeal is a visual thing, so add a bit of colour with Writing Icing and Popping Toppings.
Popping Toppings is now available in Coles.
I try not to buy gluten free recipe books, but this one caught my eye at Kmart. I picked it up, looked at it, sighed and put it back on the shelf. A couple of weeks later I saw it retailing for $30.00 at another bookstore.
So back I went to Kmart, the bargain was too good to refuse : $20.00.
Did I need it, probably not but the Brownie is heavenly.
If you are looking for a Secret Santa present or stocking filler for a gluten free friend or relative, then have a look at Good Without Gluten.
Must also mention that many of the recipes cater for dairy intolerances with alternatives such as plant milk/rice milk/soy milk being given as well as a substitution for butter.
UPDATE: Darren from Laucke has been most helpful answering my questions regarding their gluten free products.
Laucke makes Easy Baker’s White Bread Mix packaged in a 1kg box and Gluten Free White Bread Mix in a 500 g packet.
Not only has Laucke rebranded and relabelled their products, but some supermarkets are now shelving the gluten free Laucke products with the other bread mixes.
I still can’t find a packet of Laucke Easy Bakers White Bread Mix within a 10 km radius of home, but will have to ring around and/or approach my local shops about restocking the product.
And NO, the 500 g gluten free packet bread mix is not suitable as a substitute for the Easy Bakers gluten free mix and the recipes developed for the Easy Bakers mix.
Last week I literally had my husband driving all over the city trying to find me a packet of bread mix. The Laucke GF Bread Mix is a must have pantry item as I use it for : bread rolls, wraps and flat breads.
After visiting 5 supermarkets, he came home defeated. There was no Laucke Gluten Free White Bread Mix to be found. We all know that feeling: what do I use now. Just when you settle on a product that you learn how to handle, it disappears.
I felt that if need be, I would ring all the supermarkets in Townsville to find out where I could find a packet or two. It wasn’t as if they had replaced this gluten free bread mix with another bread mix product. There was no space on the shelf. It was just gone.
With a bit more time toward the end of the week, I asked at the customer service desk about the product. The helpful lady brought the item up on the store’s computer and told me that there were 6 packets in stock. No way… I had checked three times and there was none to be seen. I grabbed a packet, but did not realise that this gf bread mix was in their Creations range and wasn’t the Easy Bakers gf bread mix I was looking for. I did try to use it…. but the flat breads were doughy and the focaccia was interesting.
The problem was four fold: firstly the product has been repackaged and no longer looked like the old product, secondly the supermarket now shelved it in the baking section and not in the gluten free section, thirdly the words gluten free are not easily noticed as they disappear in amongst the folds of the packet when it sits on the shelf and fourthly there are two Laucke gf varieties but the supermarkets either have none or the Creations gf white but not the stock standard Easy Bakers gluten free white.
The two varieties are:
1. A 500 g packet of Creations Gluten Free Bread Mix that soy free as well. The soya flour has been replaced with chickpea flour and
2. A 1kg box Easy Bakers Gluten Free Bread Mix.
Be careful because on the shelf all Laucke products look the same and one could easily select the ‘normal’ bread mix instead of the gluten free one.
A friend from ‘out of town’ was arriving for a few days and asked for some guidance regarding gluten free eating out options in Townsville.
I had been one of the biggest moaners, on behalf of my gf teenager, about the lack of gluten free eating options in Townsville. But putting together a list for my friend, helped me gain a little perspective.
So I photocopied an article from The Australian Coeliac June 2013, “Take it away” about gluten free take away food as well as putting together this list.
1. McDonalds… ask for a burger no bun… it really is okay… my teenager survived the looks and friendly ribbing by his friends when his burger without the bun arrived in its box. And don’t forget their chips and hash browns.
2. Zambrero – they have a number of gluten free options: corn tortillas, bowls,tacos, nachos and are in Flinders Street East, Stockland, Domain and Thuringowa Village. It is like a Mexican Subway… you choose the meat, the filling, the sauce … etc
3. Willy’s Cantina – at Warrina Centre, Currajong between Ottos and the cinemas. “All menu items are gluten free unless otherwise noted”
4. Lulu’s Cafe 66 – at Warrina Centre, Currajong between Ottos and cinemas. They have a number of gluten free options.
5. Mocha Mecca – Riverside Douglas – makes their gluten free bread on the premise and their sausage rolls are yummy. Very very very gluten free.
6. Tom’s Tavern Roadhouse Grill, Aitkenvale – very impressed with their service… tell them that the customer has a severe gluten allergy and they will press the allergy button on the till and type a note on the docket that is sent to the kitchen : pizzas, pastas, bread
7. Relish – Kingsway Place, off Flinders Street West down a little street in the new development. Haven’t eaten here but a friend says that it is their ‘go to’ cafe for gluten free
8. Red Rooster – chips… they have three fryers : one for chicken, one for fish and one for chips, I know this because I asked to speak to the manager regarding “how gluten free are their gluten free chips?”
9. My Favourite Thai – Yolanda Drive, Annandale – the sweet and sour and curries are gluten free
10. Wayne and Adele’s Garden of Eating, South Townsville – this is the place for a special night out, owned and operated by Wayne (chef) and Adele (front of house) their menu is that little bit different with many great gluten free options.
11. Guzman y Gomez – at The Precinct, Idalia – Mexican with gf options although my sons say that there are too much beans, rice and salad for their liking. Home made Mexican is better.
12. Rising Sun Hotel – cnr Ross River Road and Bowen Road, Mundingburra – the Townsville Coeliac Qld Group had their Christmas in July dinner there.
NB Please remember that the nature of the hospitality industry is such that staff change on a regular basis and so while a cafe may have had safe gluten free options the last time you ate there, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the same holds true now. Always be prepared to ask the questions.
Don’t be afraid to let the maître d’ know that a member of your group has a gluten allergy and check the integrity of their gluten free options when ordering. It is however best to do your research, phone calls before hand and then make mention of your allergy requirements when ordering.
Also important to note is that if you mention Coeliac Disease, this might mean very little to the person you are talking to. Mention “severe allergic reaction: gluten and wheat products”.