Happy Christmas from Fabulously Free From

I’m having one of those panic days before Christmas when I wonder if I have enough food to feed everyone over the next few festive days. This job is made all the more difficult as our home is 100% gluten free. In the last two days I have baked grain free mince pies, gluten free bagels, florentines and a cherry cake. All gluten free to feed twelve over Christmas.

IMG_4803IMG_4813

What a year it has been ! I was diagnosed with Crohns disease earlier this year and it has been a year of learning about healthy eating and finding out about special diets that help to keep inflammatory bowel disease at bay. This certainly has been my healthiest year in memory with far less ‘Bad days’ .

IMG_3271

Making the decision to have a gluten free home has made a huge difference to my life and now I rarely have glutening symptoms unless I eat out. I feel that I have far more energy and avoiding grains and cows milk seems to have played a big part in this. I have been following the Specific carbohydrate diet which has been a real learning curve. I don’t stick to it quite so carefully at the moment but once Christmas is over I will get back to eating as well as I can.

IMG_4005

It was lovely this year to make the short list for Free from Food Blogger and I was thrilled to come second. Many thanks to all who voted.

IMG_3860

Best wishes and many thanks to all my readers for your lovely comments and continued support in 2014.

Have a fabulous free from Christmas and a healthy 2015!

Free From Christmas festival

Yesterday Sunday 14th December was the very first Free From Festival in London. Organised by Freefromfestival The venue was BL_NK in Old street, East London and had an entrance fee of £5 which could be purchased online or at the door. It was a cash only event with live music and stalls open from 10.30 until 5.30pm Offering all kinds of free from products, dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, wheat free etc

IMG_4707

My gluten free purchases.

 

IMG_4676

 

Bread from Romeo’s Bakery.

 

I bought my tickets in advance and then also won a couple more just a few days before the event. When I realised where in London it was I nearly decided not to go, its quite a trip from Dorking Surrey! But my husband kindly offered to drive me as he was also keen to come along.

We arrived in east London at 11.30am on the most beautiful sunny day, extremely cold and blustery but a lovely day for a drive through the centre of London and over Tower bridge. I took in all the sights as if I was on a sight seeing tour bus.

Parking proved to be very easy, we found a free parking space in an adjacent road. BL_NK was quite easy to spot on Old street but there were no Free From Festival signage. There was though a welcomer who was on the door to make sure you didn’t miss the venue. It would be good to see a large banner next year. I’m sure more people would have come in, if it had been more clear what was going outside.

Outside were 3 stalls, I felt for them because it was bitterly cold. A stall selling the most delicious looking buckwheat pancakes with delicious savoury and sweet fillings available.

IMG_4693

 

A wine stall called L’ATYPIQUE

IMG_4694

 

Selling natural wines @LATYPIQUEWINES

and a Polenta stall selling hot sliced polenta La Polenteria  I didn’t explore the stall which I regret .

 

IMG_4690

 

The extreme cold and wind drove us inside quickly. After checking out the website today, I wish I had tried some. Maybe next year!

Inside in the warm were some interesting looking stalls. It was as I had expected, relatively small. But this was the first year and I’m sure by next year year there will be more stalls eager to be part of this exciting event so near to Christmas. A perfect opportunity to show off your Christmas products etc.

Freego  a gluten free online shop offering ‘the worlds best gluten free’ They search out the best gluten free products to offer on the site. At the festival there were mince pies, christmas puddings, bread mixes and posh chocolates that were also dairy free. There were samples of things to try including the mince pies which were very good. This is a site I haven’t used yet, but after chatting yesterday I certainly will go online and have a look.

 

IMG_4673

 

IMG_4711

Romeo’s gluten free bakery The bread looked absolutely delicious there was an array of sizes and types of bread including onion, seeded, foccacia etc. I bought two small loaves for the family. Unfortunately I am also yeast intolerant so I couldn’t try the bread but my son and husband said it was some of the nicest gluten free bread they had tried. We wish we had bought far more to put in the freezer.

 

IMG_4676

Mini Magoos is allergy free award winning cereals . We bought some granola to try which looked very nice. The main ingredient appears to be toasted coconut flakes with blue agave nectar, almonds etc

 

IMG_4679

 

Conscious Organic raw chocolate had five new flavours to try and buy. with an offer if you bought 4 bars , So I did!

All chocolate is gluten free dairy and refined sugar free. some are sweetened with rice syrup some with agave nectar .

 

IMG_4678

Elvira’s secret pantry was an artisan italian bakery gluten free, dairy free and yeast free. Also some cakes were made using birch sugar ( xylitol ) I chose a selection of 3 mini cakes in a beautiful box . The pumpkin and chocolate cake I found quite dry and crumbly, I preferred the carrot and pistachio cake which was a little more moist . Elvira also sold quiches etc and other savoury products which looked very nice. All products were well displayed and presented.  The cakes contain lots of veggies, nuts etc . You can find Elvira at Crystal palace food market.

IMG_4675

 

IMG_4723

 

Pistachio and carrot cake

Pistachio and carrot cake

 

Foodamentalists I have been following this company for a while now on Twitter but not managed to meet the man behind this exciting company so it was good to meet Steven and have a chat about the company and plans for the future. The company is 100 % gluten free . The stall was packed with delicious looking products from sweet christmas treats like mince pies and Christmas cakes, savoury pies and delicious looking pork pies. A selection of foodamentalists mixes to were for sale. Worth coming to the festival for this stall alone! We chose lots of goodies to take home for the freezer and Christmas goodies to eat over the next couple of weeks. Including a very lovely looking Christmas cake.

 

IMG_4712

 

IMG_4683

Love bites A raw organic vegan stall, selling fresh salads, juices and chocolate tart. Can you guess what I chose!

 

IMG_4710

IMG_4698

Antillia delights a stall selling a selection of well labeled wheat free, gluten free and dairy free bakes. My worry here was that the wheat free products were made using organic Spelt flour . I queried this at the time and checked again on twitter today. My understanding is that spelt flour is still considered a type of wheat ! I was also then concerned about the gluten free cakes being made in the same location. I was given a helpful reply on twitter from @antilliadelight ” GF items are prepared apart from WF items and as GF is a very serious concern extra caution is taken to prevent cross contamination”

I didn’t feel confident at the time to buy anything from this stall although everything looked very good and well displayed.

LiveSmart 360 chocolate with a purpose…. this was a stall selling chocolate with extra health benefits. This was very expensive. not really sure about this.

As with most gluten free and free from products all the stalls were quite pricey with the exception of Foodamentalists who were good value for money.

Would I visit again next year? Yes,  I think I would make the trip if I knew there were a few more stalls confirmed . I would be particularly be interested in a grain free low sugar stall. Possibly a bigger venue might be needed too.

 

IMG_4707

 

We queued outside for one of the buckwheat wraps. Mine had egg, cheese and spinach. Really delicious and thrilling to be able to eat out from a stall, with so many intolerances this Never happens.

IMG_4696

We took them back inside and listened to more live music. They were really delicious and perfect on a freezing day.

Follow Free from festival Twitter here > freefromfestival

Facebook > freefromfestival

Here’s hoping for an even bigger and better event next year

 

 

 

 

 

Grain free Wraps

Inspired by some delicious paleo grain free wraps in Dubai, I decided to have a go at making some myself. This was the result.

Wraps-

makes 3 or 4 wraps

 

2 tbsp almond flour ( ground almonds )

2 tbsp ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon coconut flour

2 tbsp milk or milk substitute ( I used unsweetend almond milk )

salt

2 large free range Eggs beaten

feel free to add fresh herbs or spices

Method

 

IMG_4620

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, leave to stand for 3 mins

 

IMG_4622

in a frying pan melt some coconut oil

pour in approximately a quarter of the batter

 

IMG_4623

spread out using a spatula

Cook and turn over until golden . Be careful not to cook for to long. you don’t want to bake them hard. They need to be nice and flexible to roll into a wrap.

 

IMG_4626

The batter should make four wraps.

Perfect filled with your favourite filling.

Today I filled one wrap with smoked salmon and salad and butter, cream cheese would work well too.

IMG_4627

 

IMG_4629

The other I filled with salad and crumbled Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.

 

IMG_4632

Delicious and gluten free and completely grain free. Eat fresh or store in the fridge in an airtight container .

 

IMG_4631

Enjoy!

 

My review of Deliciously Ella’s grain free mince pies

Ever since I watched Ella’s video with Waitrose for her mince pies I have been desperate to make them for myself. The recipe is now on Deliciously Ella’s blog You can click through here> Mince Pies Recipe 

This is how I got on …

IMG_4633

the mincemeat looked delicious even before it was cooked.

IMG_4640

the kitchen smelt of Christmas.

Then for the pastry

IMG_4634

the grain free pastry was nice and easy to make, but not a cheap recipe. Quite a greasy dough but rolled out ok.

IMG_4635

These were then baked blind

IMG_4642

I filled them with the delicious filling, cut small stars from the remaining dough and then popped them back in the oven.

IMG_4644

Do resist taking them out of the tin, let them cool completely.

IMG_4645

Then enjoy with a cup of tea or a mulled wine.

 

I found the recipe and video easy to follow, the ingredients are quite expensive but I managed to make 22 small mince pies . Ella made 12 larger ones. In my opinion they are well worth the cost. There is almost a chewiness to the pastry, very indulgent and the filling was scrumptious . I baked my second batch for slightly less time than was recommended as the first batch were a little dark in colour. Interestingly they didn’t taste burnt. My second batch were a better colour. No soggy bottoms just delicious pastry. The pastry holds together very well. Hard to believe that these mince pies do not contain any grains. Perfect if you are gluten intolerant or have Coeliac disease. The pies are also dairy free and refined sugar free, although definitely not sugar free as they contain a huge amount of dried fruit.

find more of Deliciously Ella’s recipes here DeliciouslyElla

My gluten free dining experience in Dubai

 

On the 19th November we flew with Emirates to Dubai for a few days of sunshine and to go and watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The final race of the season.

DSC_0224

Opposite the pit lane and Red Bull garage

 

DSC_0297

We had been to Dubai earlier in the year so I was confident that I would be able to eat well with my selection of food intolerances. I had done quite a lot of  research on Twitter and Google and found a couple of places that I really wanted to eat at The Cycle Bistro which is Paleo and gluten free and Omnia Gourmet which offered a choice of gluten free desserts.

This time we stayed on The Palm Jumeirah at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

Zabeel Saray

Zabeel Saray

This worked out cheaper than staying at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam where we have stayed in the past ( also great for gluten free ). My husband emailed the Food and Beverage manager before we arrived to make him aware of my dietary needs. This was clearly written on the booking form of every restaurant that we booked. I also took my business cards which I handed to ever chef. This listed all my intolerances clearly.

Our view

Our view

Zabeel Saray is a gorgeous palace style hotel on The Jumeirah Palm with a selection of different styles of restaurants on site and many more on The Palm. Breakfasts are buffet style, no good for coeliacs due to the threat of cross contamination but at Jumeirah hotel group this isn’t a problem. The Hotels are happy to send out a Chef to speak to you and make your breakfast separately. Most days I ordered a omelette with either cheese or veggies with pork bacon.

DSC_0255

Boiled eggs are available from the buffet in their shells and fried eggs can be made by the Chef. I did have sliced fresh fruit from the buffet as it was on a stand alone table away from contamination.

IMG_4464

I didn’t trust the cheese table as the utensils were open to be used for other things. Cheese was available from the Chef. Don’t be afraid to ask as you are paying the same price as the other guests! Gluten free bread was available on request, I don’t eat this as I’m yeast intolerant so I cannot comment on its quality.

Lunches are available at most of the restaurants, once again I asked to speak to a Chef who would go over in person choices etc. There was a mistake once with a fruit vinegar dressing but I spotted it straight away and it was quickly sorted.

Evening meals were sensational the newly opened Rib Room was perfect for gluten free eating. Chef Anjan Kumar really went the extra mile at every meal. We visited here 3 times because we were looked after so well. I can recommend the grass fed steak. The Chef was happy to make me duck fat gluten free chips and on our last visit sent out some complimentary ones. The first evening we were there it was a special press night, as The Rib Room had only been open for a week.

 

IMG_4245

We also visited the Turkish restaurant, the Lebanese restaurant in the hotel and the Sultans lounge. There wasn’t a huge choice for me as I am intolerant to yeast, onion and garlic. But what I had was delicious including grilled sea bass, hullomi with grilled aubergine or cucumber and tomato , hummus and whole grilled prawns. Grilled chicken salad and lobster salad. Once again the Chef came out to go through the menu and help me decided what to choose.

DSC_0258

IMG_4431

The Cycle Bistro was somewhere I was very excited to visit. I had started to follow them on Twitter and Facebook and had been e-mailing the Chef. It is situated in Motor City an area of Dubai quite a drive from our hotel on The Palm. But worth the visit!

The Cycle bistro

The Cycle bistro

We went three times in a week. The paleo breakfasts were delicious and I felt very relaxed eating there.

DSC_0019

The staff were very friendly and we were made very welcome.

IMG_4260

 

 

DSC_0016

My breakfasts arrived with salad and avocado . Yummy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or bacon and my husband chose the steak and eggs which looked incredible. Such a huge choice of food including grain free pancakes, smoothies etc. With the added benefit of being much cheaper than a Hotel breakfast.

DSC_0199

DSC_0196

Chef Chris Zerbe the brains behind this venture was friendly and very helpful, making sure I had a grain free packed lunch for both days that we attended the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. My top tip- is to pack a soft cool bag and ice packs and ask your hotel to freeze them daily. Our hotel was happy to do this ensuring my lunch stayed cold on our journey. Try the sweet potato fries they are delicious any time of the day!

My packed lunch was an amazing grilled chicken grain free wrap with avocado and a side salad of mixed leaves and tomatoes.

IMG_4379

We also took some of Chef Chris’s paleo bars which were delicious and filling. This was the perfect lunch  to have at what was a very ‘gluten filled’ Grand Prix circuit.

DSC_0020

We went with a package with Red Bull as they had the best price package for the 4 days + garage tour and meet and greet with drivers in the Paddock club.

 

DSC_0122

Wedged between our two Abu Dhabi Grand Prix days was Saturday. We booked in advance to eat at Omnia Gourmet a restaurant at the fishing harbour Dubai , glad of the app on our phone we made our way in our hire car to the other end of Dubai a 45min trip. We were shown to an outside table looking out at the harbour.

DSC_0182

I’m sure the view of the harbour looks particularly beautiful in the day. Our waiter was very helpful and immediately offered to bring out the chef. Chef Curtis was from Leeds, England and went through the menu suggesting  how he could make me a meal avoiding all my intolerances . The menu contained a great deal of onion and garlic. Our starters were stunning Chef made me a starter portion of zucchini Linguini  with avocado pesto and cashew nuts it was a stunning starter. My husband was also blown away by his tuna nicoise salad the best he had ever had!

DSC_0173

 

DSC_0174

 

For my main course Chef Curtis invented a special meal for me of Sea bream with an array of tiny vegetables. Beautifully presented and tasted great.

DSC_0175

I knew desserts were going to be fab from all the instagram pictures I had seen from back in the UK. We agreed we should share three desserts ( well we had come along way! ) Paleo Love a chocolate, cashew and pistachio slice which was dairy and gluten free. Orange and Almond cake which was gluten free and a slice of  Pecan pie. Coffee and tea is also available with dairy free options I choose Coffee with almond milk.

DSC_0186

The desserts were so good we took two gluten free chocolate brownies back to the hotel for our packed lunches the next day.

Omnia Gourmet

Omnia Gourmet

The staff were all very friendly. The head waiter was Daniel who deserves a special mention as does Chef Curtis who went the extra mile to make our meals real show stoppers. More restaurants are in the pipeline including a fine dining restaurant and a burger restaurant. The head Chef Silvena Rowe was not at the restaurant on the night we visited which was a great shame, as I would loved to have met her. Maybe next time!

DSC_0185

I wish these two restaurants were in my local town in the UK I would eat there all the time!

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was something I will never forget and watching Lewis Hamilton win the championship made it extra special. We saw Jenson Button up close as our seats were directly behind position 6 on the grid looking on to the pit wall. We watched as he shock hands with the entire team before the race got underway, which seemed to show that he didn’t expect to be back next year, A great shame!

During our meet and greet with Red Bull we met Christian Horner, Jean Eric Verne and the ever smiley Daniel Ricciardo. We were able to look down on to the pits from the paddock club and watch the Sky team in action on practice day ( Friday )

IMG_4374

For winter sun and delicious gluten free and free from food I can thoroughly recommend Dubai. A beautiful 28c during the day cooling down in the evenings from about 5.30pm .

IMG_4449

 

Follow Omnia Gourmet on Instagram 

Follow The Cycle Bistro Twitter here

 

Blog post from the archives Gluten free Dining in Dubai January 2014 click here