I enjoyed a lot of great gluten free things last year and I’d like to share my favourites with you – these are all things I love and highly recommend. There are a lot to share so you might want to get yourself comfy…
Book: Get The Glow by Madeleine Shaw
We have joked to family and friends that this is our bible, which admittedly is a little extreme for a cook book, but we use it very frequently and love pretty much everything we’ve tried for the book (the savoury recipes are better than the sweet ones in our opinion though). It’s not advertised as a gluten free cookbook, but it is gluten free as the author follows a gluten free diet (this is true of a number of recent cook books). Some of our favourite recipes include the ginger steamed fish parcels (really quick and easy to make, hardly any washing up necessary, and delicious!), the chicken schnitzel with sweet potato fries, the ginger beef kebabs and the quinoa burgers. I could go on but I’ll leave it at that for now – at some point I think I’ll write a full review of the book. It’s absolutely fantastic, and we have recommended it to family and friends who now use it too. Madeleine is releasing another book in a few months and I’m very much looking forward to that.
Monkfish curry with cauliflower rice from Get The Glow
Ginger steamed fish parcel from Get The Glow
Quinoa burgers with tahini from Get The Glow
Newly discovered brand: Isabel’s Free From
This was a really tricky category as I’ve discovered a few great gluten free brands this year. Isabel’s is a definite highlight though! We really enjoy the pizza base mix (reviewed here) and the dough balls mix – we’ve even shared the dough balls with non-gluten-free family and friends who loved them! The yorkshire pudding mix works brilliantly, both for individual yorkshire puddings (reviewed here) and for toad in the hole (reviewed here). The Easy Pud Chocolate Sponge Mix is very convenient too, so all in all I’m impressed! The thing I like about Isabel’s is that everything is gluten, wheat and dairy free (or can be made dairy free) yet you really can’t tell. It’s not like the products are ‘good for gluten free’ they’re just good generally. With some other brands I feel like my partner is missing out if we share gluten free versions, but with Isabel’s I really don’t. I have a couple more mixes in the store cupboard which I bought at a show last year but haven’t had chance to try yet, but I’m sure they will be fabulous as everything I’ve tried from the brand so far is. The only mishap we’ve had was when we had no eggs in and tried an egg replacement in the yorkshire pudding mix – sadly that didn’t work so well. The instructions on Isabel’s mixes are quite specific but when I follow them they work out well. I also really like the brand’s communication – their social media accounts are great, and whenever I’ve met representatives of the brand at food shows they have been really informative and helpful. Big thumbs up to Isabel’s from me 🙂
Notable mentions also go to Delicious Alchemy (love their chocolate brownies and their oaty cookies in particular, and again as a brand they do some great stuff on social media as well as having excellent customer service), Kabuto Noodles (especially for their rice pots), and Provena (fantastic chocolate muffin mix, and their oat bread mix is fabulous too).
Supermarket: Marks and Spencer
Gluten free festive sandwich and drink from M&S
For a while now I’ve been enjoying the gluten free range from M&S – their sandwiches are my go to choice when I’m travelling, and I love their party ranges of buffet food. During 2015 though they just kept delivering great new products. There are the individual cake options you can get from most train station M&S Simply Food stores, and I love the fact they switch these up every so often – in the last few months to my knowledge there’s been a caramel pecan bar, a brownie, a fudge cake (with edible stars!), and a shortbread millionaire bar. The sandwich selection is expanding, and there are also healthier snacks too; I like the prawns with a sweet chilli dip for example. I also really like that many of their crisps are gluten free – just recently I picked up a small bag of ‘Made Without Wheat’ tortilla chips with my sandwich, and many of the regular range of crisps and snacks are gluten free too. I really like their multipacks of Cool Mini Tortillas, and the new baked Pea Snaps they do are really unique! The thing I love about M&S is their labelling – of course they have a really good ‘Made Without Wheat’ range, but lots of items within the store are clearly marked as gluten free (one example being their Hot Chocolate Fudge Pudding which is a firm favourite of ours!). For Christmas most of their food was gluten free (including things like pigs in blankets and stuffings) which makes it easier for families with coeliacs to all eat the same delicious food.
Notable mentions go to Holland and Barrett who stock some great gluten free brands (mostly online rather than in store), Waitrose who have vastly improved their gluten free offering, Ocado who have a huge range of gluten free products and brands, and Tesco for ensuring plenty of gluten free Christmas food items (I tried chestnut stuffing for the first time thanks to Tesco!).
Specialist store: Freego
There are a few online stores who offer gluten free items, but Freego stand out to me. For a start, everything is gluten free which makes it really easy for coeliacs, and they sell some items that you can’t get elsewhere in the UK. They spend time finding and testing gluten free brands from around the world and then trying to bring the best ones to customers. We particularly enjoyed the Luce’s Artisan bread mix and definitely intend to try more of this brand. Freego have a great range of naturally gluten free grains too, and some unusual ingredients that can otherwise be hard to find. They cater for many different dietary needs via categories on their website which is very easy to use. You can see some other items we tried in my review of Freego. I certainly intend to use Freego again in future for stocking up on store cupboard essentials (and the odd treat!).
Restaurant: Pizza Express
There are more and more restaurant chains as well as independents who cater for those with a gluten free diet, but my most visited place during 2015 was Pizza Express. I really like their gluten free pizzas, and they have some interesting topping combinations with regular new seasonal menus. There’s usually starter and dessert options too, and although they’re perhaps not the most exciting (salads, risottos, brownie, and ice cream), I’ve not yet had a disappointing meal at Pizza Express – and I’ve tried lots of different branches! The area we’ve moved to didn’t used to have a Pizza Express but one opened up the week before we moved, so I imagine we’ll still be visiting Pizza Express (in fact we’ve already tried our new local one and it was great). They’re always a safe option when I’m travelling, and with the discounts (we have a Tastecard) they’re great value too. I also really like that many of the gluten free options are vegetarian which is really refreshing. The current gluten free menu is available online.
Melanzane starter at Pizza Express (they don’t seem to offer this anymore but have a gluten free risotto starter and offer this as a main)
Gluten free pizza at Pizza Express
Gluten free panacotta at Pizza Express (again they don’t have this on the menu at the moment but do have gluten free desserts including a brownie)
Notable mentions go to Zizzi (their chocolate melt is amazing!), Prezzo (enjoyed a lovely pasta dish here whilst travelling, sadly there isn’t one near us), The Cowshed in Pattingham (our go to local restaurant from last year), and Mothertown Fish and Chips (our new local chippie).
Savoury recipe: Simply Cook Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice
Simply Cook Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice
It was really tricky to choose just one recipe and if I went on frequency of cooking I think it would have to be the ginger steamed fish parcels from Get The Glow which we have probably once a fortnight, but then I remembered the wonderful jerk chicken with coconut rice from Simply Cook. I haven’t yet blogged about Simply Cook but do intend to – they send you recipes and sauces/spices/stocks (four recipes per box) to make really interesting dishes, many of which are gluten free. The advantage of this over other boxes is that you can buy the ingredients so it can help you stick to a budget, or you can exclude ingredients you don’t like. We tried a box earlier last year, and since then have re-ordered our favourites which include the jerk chicken with coconut rice. You bake the chicken in the seasoning with lime, and then cook the rice with onion, stock, coconut rice, and black beans. The flavour combination is amazing – I’d never have thought of putting these together yet they work so well. The coconut rice is a revelation too – it’s delicious! I’d definitely recommend this meal (and most of the other Simply Cook dishes we’ve tried to be honest). I do plan to write a full review of Simply Cook as we really like it, but in the meantime if you’d like to try it out yourself I have a referral link which means you can get your first box for £1. We did this initially and I promise it only costs £1 – if you don’t like it or don’t want to be tied into a subscription you can turn off the subscriptions and just purchase boxes when you wish to (this is what we do as we prefer to choose the recipes and don’t want to have them every month).
Sweet recipe: Bakewell tart
Bakewell Tart (made from Phil Vickery recipe)
This was a tough decision too as we have a number of recipes we make on a fairly regular basis, but the Bakewell tart is probably our favourite. It’s a Phil Vickery recipe from the Seriously Good! Gluten Free Cooking (made with Coeliac UK) – the recipe is also available online. We’ve made the pastry from scratch (following the recipe fully), and we’ve also used ready made shortcrust pastry for the base, leaving it as is or adding in the citrus flavour as in the recipe. All variants work well and it’s a recipe we turn to often when we have visitors (though sadly last time we burnt it a little as we’re still getting used to the oven in our new place!).
Notable mentions go to the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Louise at Slice of Heaven Gluten Free Cake Studio, the coffee and walnut sponge from Glutafin, the soft centered chocolate pudding from Glutafin, and the oatmeal and vanilla cookie recipe from Michael McCamley’s Gluten Free Baking.
Blogger: Gluten Free B
There are a number of gluten free blogs I follow; some of which have been blogging for a while, others I’ve only discovered fairly recently. I tend to prefer following bloggers who have coeliac disease as I know they understand what it’s like, though I do follow a couple who choose to be gluten free. I really like to read posts about living with coeliac disease (and quite enjoy writing them too to be honest – as difficult as it was, I found it useful to express my feelings on what it’s like being coeliac when you are the sort of person who prefers to blend into the background, so you may see more of these types of posts on my blog in future). I also like to learn about ingredients I haven’t used, discover new recipes, places to eat out, and new products I might want to try. Carly is someone I’ve followed for a while on both her blog and social media, and during 2015 I’ve enjoyed seeing her adapt things to be mostly dairy free (due to her daughter needing avoid milk and eggs), seeing her produce some fabulous recipes and gluten free baking competition entries, and seeing her photography develop. She also released a gluten free and dairy free cook book which looks fantastic – I haven’t had chance to try it myself yet. She runs the ‘Fruit is not a Pudding’ blog too which I just love – I really enjoyed seeing the entries for the Christmas Fruit is not a Pudding competition. I’ve never met Carly but seem to share many of the same views as her, and really appreciate her support and friendliness (towards me and others). She recently blogged about how the gluten free trend seems to be at a peak and gluten free blogging has changed (see Have we reached peak gluten free?), and it’s given me a lot of food for thought – I’ve been having similar ponderings about my own blogging. I hope Carly does continue to blog because I really enjoy reading her posts, seeing what she has been working on, and seeing her cooking and focus change over time. I’m totally envious of her photography (check out her Instagram feed), and really admire her ethics and golden rules of social media, many of which are the same as mine – though I’m not averse to sharing photos of my breakfast as I love me some yoghurt and granola! Gluten free blogging, as with other types of blogging, has definitely changed, but I hope as bloggers we can continue to provide a useful resource for other coeliacs.
All in all, 2015 was an excellent year for gluten free discoveries and development. We moved at the end of 2015 and the town we have moved to has had a gluten free bakery and a lounge bar with a gluten free menu, both of which opened in the last few weeks. I look forward to sharing more reviews of places to eat and gluten free products via the blog in future, as well as some posts about being coeliac. I enjoy sharing my favourites too so may make this sort of blog post on a more frequent basis. I hope you found it useful 🙂
What were your gluten free favourites in 2015?
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