Simple Gluten Free....

Simple Gluten Free....
Fresh is always best...and gluten free too!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fancy schmancy breakfast cereal...

I first enjoyed a breakfast parfait at a buffet breakfast on Fathers Day a few years ago.

Until then, I was a savoury breakfast kinda person, and the whole yoghurt/cereal/fruit thing just did not appeal to me.

I'm also not a fan of crunchy cereal...a strange quirk left over from my childhood when I got a Sugar Frostie (sort of like a Corn Flake but crusted in white sugar, long since relegated to the unhealthy pile and outlawed!), caught in my throat. It lodged there and I had to cough it up, tearing the tender lining of my throat in the process. Since that day, I cannot eat crunchy cereal. It must be soggy...sounds vile, I know, but that's the way I like it.

Muesli and other cereals just make my stomach curdle anyway and milk in the morning? Forget it.

This of course leads to limited breakfast selections such as toast, eggs, or leftover casserole. Nothing wrong with that but not the best approach for weight loss!

This little parfait is sweet without being sugary, is light and healthy, and can be enjoyed with any kind of cereal in the layers. These days I prefer a light untoasted natural gluten free muesli. In fact, I believe the other reason I harbour an aversion to cereal, is that I have a gluten sensitivity. Since changing over with my daughter to a gluten free diet, I feel fantastic!

You can also do these in little containers with secure lids or a recycled jar to take as a breakfast on the go when you're in a hurry. Don't forget a spoon!

So you need:

A small glass for serving...I do mine 3 at a time in a small wine glass
Muesli or cereal
Natural yoghurt...I make my own, using the method listed in my Labna recipe
Cinnamon sugar...make your own by combining a cup of caster sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon
Tinned fruit in it's own juice

Now I just layer muesli, a drizzle of the juice from the fruit tin (only coz I like it soggy..skip this part if you prefer crunchy cereal), then some fruit and a layer of yoghurt. Mine is the thick Greek Style yoghurt...yum! Then a small sprinkle (around half a teaspoon) of the cinnamon sugar. Repeat the layers, finishing with a decorative sprinkle of the cinnamon sugar on top.

Cover with cling wrap and store in the refrigerator.

I like to make these at least the night before, and I actually prefer them when they've had a day or three in the fridge. I garnish them with whatever fresh fruit I have on hand, sometimes even an ultra sweet sun kissed strawberry from my own back yard.

MMM..mmmmmmmmm....yum, yum and YUM!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gluten Free Baked Coconut Custard Slice...

Oh, this is so delicious I just had to share. My first instinct was to keep this lovely dish to myself and hand it down to future generations as Nanna's Special Secret Recipe. But then, I never really understood that whole 'secret recipe' stuff.

So here it is. A product of experimentation with Coconut Flour. This product is readily available at Health Food outlets and on-line. It seems expensive, but you use so little it lasts ages. In a normal 'baking' recipe, I have been replacing normal flour with Coconut Flour at a rate of 1/3 the amount indicated in the recipe. The reason being that the Coconut Flour absorbs liquid like you would not believe. Not all of those experiments have been successful, hence my reluctance to include them at this stage. But I will continue to experiment and post successes as time wears on.

Baked Coconut Custard Slice

4 large eggs
1 cup Coconut Cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup yoghurt (I used home made natural Greek yoghurt)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup coconut flour

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a 20 x 20cm casserole dish.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, coconut cream, milk and yoghurt with an electric mixer or whisk, until smooth. Start off on low speed and increase to medium to smooth. Add the other ingredients and mix well.

Pour into your greased dish and place in the oven for around 45-50 minutes. This recipe does not require the use of a water bath as some tradtional baked custards do. Check after 45 minutes. If the custard slice is firm to slight pressure in the centre, it's done. If it's still a bit wobbly, give it longer, checking every five minutes.

Allow to cool in the dish. Serve warm or cold with fruit on the side if desired. This is gorgeous with a drizzle of fruit flavoured syrup or liqueur, and a blob of double cream on the side. It's also great as a lunchbox snack, stored in an appropriate container.

Psst....The Dancing Diva has even had this for breakfast!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Sleepover Dilemna.

My daughter loves a good sleepover.

Indeed, sleepovers are a part of our life.

I had sleepovers as a child, my older sons grew up with sleepovers, and now my daughter regularly enjoys having friends stay overnight with us, or spending a night at a friends house. It's a real rite of passage and one I've always encouraged, knowing full well that it's one of the best ways to get to know her friends.

The Gluten Sensitive issue is a difficult one for sleepovers though. If the sleepover is at our house, how do I ensure that we have enough 'goodies' to make the occasion fun? If it's at the other persons' house, how do I impress upon them that Darling Daughter must avoid Gluten products. Insisting seems bossy, sending her own food seems snooty, and having her starve is just not an option. I find too, that whilst many of the families she stays with do all they can to accomodate her sensitivity, there are some who either don't understand or don't believe there's an issue.

She doesn't react severely, so where's the problem?

A recent sleepover meant that upon her return home, she was sluggish, irritable and out of sorts. She confirmed that she'd had a 'normal' wrap and a choc chip muffin, which in the scheme of things, shouldn't matter too much. But where she noticed the difference was at a theatre rehearsal where she found she simply could not concentrate and yawned constantly, feeling overwhelmed and fatigued.

Now you could argue that that's a typical by-product of a good sleepover, but it's more than that. All of those symptoms are typical of gluten intake in someone who has sensitivity to the product, and she is such a creature of habit that no matter where she is, she's asleep by nine and awake at seven.

I've yet to find the ideal, diplomatic solution to this problem and would welcome any advice or comments.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Trotting, not galloping...

It's been a while since we started our Gluten Free life now, and I'm finding it easier than I expected.

The greatest challenge remains how to make some of the commercial gluten-free products more palatable, as try as I might, I cannot completely ditch convenience food.

My latest success is Gluten Free Wraps turned into Pan Seared Quesilladas.

On thier own, these wraps are a bit woeful. They have an unappetising leathery texture that just isn't pleasant or satisfying.

This method turns them into a crisp wedge stuffed with gooey filling and is well worth a try for Pizza Lovers.

You need:

A large non stick frypan
Spray oil (olive oil is best)
Spatula for flipping
Plate for serving
Pizza wheel or sharp knife for cutting


Wraps, gluten free or otherwise if you aren't gluten sensitive
Grated cheese
Other fillings like pineapple, deli meat, capsicum (peppers), baby spinach, toasted nuts


Heat the hotplate on 'High' and place the pan on it. Spray the pan liberally with the oil and toss in one wrap.

Sprinkle the entire surface with grated cheese.

Then in a semi circle (because you're going to fold it in a minute), distribute your other ingredients evenly.

Leave to cook for a minute or so, checking underneath until the underside is toasty brown and to your liking.

If the other ingredients aren't melted and piping hot now, heat the grill (broiler) and pop the whole thing under there for a minute or so.

Remove from grill or hotplate, and flip the plain half over the filled half so you have a sort of omelette arrangement in the pan.

Slide onto your serving platter and cut in half, arranging one half over the other for presentation.


We're not yet galloping along with our food choices, but we've advanced from a crawl to a comfortable trot, so we're getting there!

(photo following)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Melt and Mix Energy Bars...

Here's a new recipe I've just invented for gluten free energy bars.

My 11 year old daughter is a busy dancer and athlete, and now that gluten products are out of the picture, I've had real difficulty finding energy packed goodies to keep her going.

She's great with inventive lunch box treats like beetroot, pineapple rings, carrot sticks, coconut macaroons, and GF pasta. But she's so active, that she doesn't always have time to eat everything we've packed.

I really wanted something, that was reasonably healthy, tasted like a treat, but was packed with energy laden ingredients so that she could just grab and run.

This is a great versatile recipe that allows you to vary the ingredients according to what you prefer or what you have on hand, so don't be frightened to make substitutions and be inventive.

So here it is...we love them...hope you do too.


Food Processor
Large baking tray...a Swiss Roll tin or Lamington tin is perfect
Large mixing bowl
Small saucepan
Measuring cups
Large knife. Serrated edged is best
Foil for wrapping and container for storing


1 1/2 cups dates (or any dried fruit or combination of dried fruit)
1/4 cup almonds (I used flaked almonds as that's what I had...but they'll go in the food processor so whole is fine too)
3 dessertspoons sesame seeds
3 dessertspoons shredded or dessicated coconut
2 dessertspoons cocoa
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup white chocolate buttons or melts (optional)
3/4 cup peanut butter or any other nut butter or tahini
3/4 cup honey. You can also use rice malt syrup, golden syrup, or even molasses if you like the flavour
4 cups gluten free breakfast cereal. We use Waffle Bitz manufactured by Back to Nature. But GF rice bubbles, muesli or oats are fine too.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. You won't be baking these, but it will prevent them sticking in the pan. Use enough baking paper to leave a bit of overhang, so you can lift the slice out easily for cutting up later.

Have a second sheet of baking paper ready to top the mixture for compressing in the pan.

Chop the dates roughly with a sharp knife first, so your food processor doesn't go into overdrive chopping them, then add the dates or other dried fruit, almonds, sesame seeds, coconut, cocoa, sunflower seeds, choc chips and choc melts (if you're using them) to the bowl of the food processor.

Pulse the processor several times to get the larger pieces chopped roughly, then put the processor on maximum speed for a minute or so. Check at 20 second intervals. You're looking for a medium fine texture with some chunks of dates and chocolate still apparent. So don't go overboard and make it too 'sandy' looking.

Tip this mixture into the large bowl, and add the breakfast cereal.

Put the nut butter and honey into the small saucepan, and heat over a medium hotplate, stirring until combined and melted.

Once melted, pour this over the mixture in the bowl and combine well. You need everything well coated in the nut butter and honey.

Once well combined, tip this into the lined tray. Using clean, wet hands, compress the mixture into the pan, spreading into the corners and making it as even as possible.

Place the other sheet of baking paper over the top of the mixture, and use a rolling pin to flatten and compress to a nice flat surface.

Chill for two hours.

Once chilled, lift the slice out and place it on the bench.

Using the knife, cut the slice into bars, sticks, or squares depending upon how you like it. We cut ours into sticks about 12mm x 120mm, and we get 32 bars this way. These are a good size as they are easy to handle and can be consumed quickly between netball matches or dance classes. But that's just our preference. I have also cut them even smaller into little cubes to just pop in the mouth, which then means they don't need wrapping and can go into individual containers ready for lunchboxes.

Now I wrap them in alfoil, twisting the ends like a lolly wrapper. You don't have to do this, but I've found it's the easiest way to store them and have them on hand for lunches and snacks. You could also store them in a container with sheets of baking paper between layers to stop them sticking.

They're best kept in the fridge, but at this cooler time of year, in the pantry is fine too.

If anyone remembers enjoying Jupiter Bars as a child, you're gonna love these!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Think Laterally...yummy coconut macaroons and meringues...already GF!

I am constantly amazed at the generosity of  the parents of my daughters friends. Some of them go to the most extraordinary lengths to accomodate her eating preferences, spending their hard earned cash on all kinds of pre-made little gourmet Gluten Free treats.

I've had to take a couple of them aside and say 'but here...these are easy and naturally gluten free'...

The luscious mounds of sugary meringue in todays photo are actually my failures! I tried a recipe that followed along the lines of meringues, when what I really wanted was macaroons. Still, as you see, they were spectacular, and the Diva claimed they tasted like Anzac cookies (another favourite), so a mighty good failure achieved!

I'm also thinking of suggesting fresh fruit, fresh vege sticks, dips like hommus and tzatziki, Aeroplane brand packet jelly (jello), plain chocolate bars, home made potato wedges or baked potato, home made iceblocks made with fruit juice and of course these....

Moist and yummy coconut macaroons
Makes about 36

2 eggs
½ cup caster sugar
½  cup icing sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded or dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line two baking trays with baking (parchment) paper.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl.

Add the sugars and salt and mix well.

Add the coconut and stir, ensuring all the coconut is well coated.

Spoon small teaspoonsful onto the baking trays. These do not spread, so you don’t need to leave much room between them. Mound them up so they look like little mountains.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and firm.

Store in an airtight container.

Will last up to 7 days in the refrigerator (ha-ha), and will become more moist and chewy with storage.

We're not finding this new eating plan too challenging yet...when does it get hard???

Here's to our (gluten free), Mimi

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What to do about school lunches?

The litle Divas' gluten free lunch box hasn't been the challenge I thought it would. She's a good eater, so long as she hasn't got tummy troubles, and has a wide variety of favourite foods. Here's what she took in her lunch box today....

An apple, a mandarin, a peeled carrot
2 steamed potatoes with herbed butter in a thermos
Beetroot slices in a sealed container
Pineapple slices in a sealed container
A plain mini bar of chocolate
Home made meringues
Slices of GF Strassbourg luncheon meat
Some poached chicken breast

That sounds like a lot, but I know she'll eat every bit. It's hard for a minute to think past the traditional sandwich and home baked goodies, but we're doing it and reaping the rewards.

Today I'm making some coconut macaroons, her other favourite and I'll be posting the recipe later.

Meanwhile, if there's something in particular you're hankering for and you're GF or Coeliac, let me know and I'll see what I can come up with. I can't promise I can help, but I'll give it a darned good try.

Here's to our (gluten free) health....Mimi...x

Day One.....

About eight months ago, my then 10 year old daughter, had a bad night feeling ill. She had abdominal pain, shivering, clamminess, headache, dry mouth, backache and aching joints. We had no idea what was wrong with her. She climbed into bed with us and eventually slept.

We'd been away at the beach that week so a trip to the Doc on our return was in order. In the meantime, I followed my Maternal Instincts and removed anything in her diet that could have triggered the odd reaction. She'd always been a bit funny, getting hives for no reason we could ascertain, tummy troubles (but nothing severe enough to warrant concern), headachey and so on...all of which we just put down to pre-adolescent hormonal issues, or when she was smaller, simply childhood fussiness.

He took one look at her and asked if we knew anything about Coeliac Disease. She presents as extremely slender for her age and height and all of the symptoms we mentioned were consistent with Coeliac Disease.

She had the initial blood test, and strangely, it came back negative. However, the Doc suggested that as he knew she'd been on a gluten and dairy limited diet (and was feeling considerably better), that it might be wise to consult a dietitian regarding a gluten free diet plan.

Now, I'm pretty savvy about these things, so I swung into action. She wasn't 'coeliac' so didn't require the careful monitoring of foodstuffs that this entails. She was simply 'gluten sensitive', so we'd eliminate ALL the usual suspects, and all would be well. Hey...we'd even reintroduce gluten products over time to see if she could build up a natural resistance.


Any reintroduction of bread or pasta...her favourites...would result in overwhelming fatigue, fuzzy headedness, and tummy and back pain. We kidded ourselves that it was everything else BUT the gluten because it's just so much darned easier.

In the end, after another nasty reaction where she suffered back and abdo pain and was running hot and cold and clammy and faint, we decided enough is enough.

Not only is she going gluten free, but so are her Dad and I. After all, Coeliac Disease is genetic, so maybe he and I are gluten intolerant as well.

Two days of being gluten free and she is bouncing and back to her 'old' self. I feel more energetic and don't have the 3 o'clock fatigue that's always plagued me. I am thinking clearly and more able to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, which as you all know is practically a pre-requisite for Motherhood. And strangely (or perhaps not so), a niggly and sometimes debilitating pain in my right side, which I'd always put down to Gallstones, has all but disappeared. DH is much the same, or so he says...he's such a cynic. Just give it a few days and he'll be singing a different song.

So here's my aim.

Having read copious material on Gluten Free living and eating, I've decided that our plan of attack will not be to try recreating our favourite Gluten laden meals with flours and substances unfamiliar to us...although there's nothing wrong with that, and I may yet declare a defeat with my strategy and revert to that.

Instead, I will try to create meals and treats that don't rely on flour or flour substitutes as much as possible. I'll incorporate more fresh veg and fruit into our diet, which in itself can't hurt, and utilize seasonal produce and imagination to replicate our previous wheat and flour filled menues.

Stay tuned....