Adventures

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Apart from eating a lot, I have been visiting some of my favourite places – today we went to Strathconon – a huge valley which is amazing to look at. The place is full of mountains and streams.  A river runs down it which comes into lochs at points. Every time we’ve been there we’ve seen loads of deer (red deer and roe deer) – hundreds of them, and we’ve seen Golden Eagles twice. Today I saw a little lizard too. The journey up to Strathconon takes you through little towns and we decided to take a picnic instead of going out for lunch. I decided to make food before I left as opposed to relying on there being something I could buy from a shop, and I’m glad I did – we stopped in a town called Beauly and went to a lovely deli with loads of home-made cakes and freshly made sandwiches and paninis and the like, but sadly the only gluten free things they had were Mrs Crimbles biscuits in packets – 1. They were macaroons and I’m allergic to coconut and 2. Even if I wasn’t allergic to coconut I wouldn’t want only a biscuit for lunch.

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I had bought the new Warburtons Newburn Bakehouse gluten-free baguettes, and decided to try them for the first time. If anyone’s bought them, they’ll probably be shocked at how light (in weight) they are – I was really surprised especially as sometimes you’ll pick up a loaf of gluten-free bread and it feels heavy like a brick – these baguettes felt really hollow! I made myself a cheese and lettuce baguette to take with me and I was really pleasantly surprised, especially as if I’m eating gluten-free bread I’ll usually have it toasted because I think it just improves the texture loads. It tasted good although it was pretty dry – it was on its way out of date because I’d bought the pack at reduced price from Tesco because they cost something like £2.30 originally which I feel is a bit of a joke. I also bought the new Warburtons Newburn Bakehouse wraps which I haven’t tried yet but I hope they’re good too as a packet of three costs around £3.00 too! 

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Highlands of Scotland!

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I’ve been staying at home for the last week whilst on my Easter holiday from college. It’s really nice to come back from Glasgow back up to the Highlands to see my family and of course there are a few nice places to look at up here! When I was younger I used to hate living here in such a small place, but having the choice to live in a city or back up here makes me appreciate it more and actually enjoy the quiet and scenery.

I’m from a little town called Grantown-On-Spey but usually I just tell people I meet in Glasgow or other places further south, that I’m from Aviemore as it is recognised more because of the Cairngorms skiing resort and it’s pretty frustrating trying to explain to people where a place is if they have no idea that this area even exists! I thought that while I was here I’d have a chance to get all my college work done but in reality all I’ve done is gone on mini adventures with my mum and sister and eaten my body weight in food (which isn’t great because I’m supposed to be on a diet for going on holiday in two months)!

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I only became diagnosed as being allergic to wheat when I was 17 and I had moved to Glasgow by then to start college so I actually never got to know where in the Highlands was good for gluten-free food, I just have to look around a bit and have a back-up when I go out to eat now. I do have two places I think are super good though – one is ‘The Potting Shed’ which have two café’s – one in Kingussie and one at Inshriach. This place makes THE most amazing cakes. I mean, actually totally amazing. They even got voted in the top 10 places for tea and cake in Britain by Cosmopolitan Magazine – https://www.facebook.com/questions/508831655840714/. I went there last week and I was half way through eating my cake when I realised I should have taken a picture of it looking all nice. But it was too good to mess around taking photos of it – I had to eat it. Their gluten-free cakes are made with a light almond sponge which works really well and gives a lovely texture and I don’t feel they taste of almonds – I am allergic to all nuts apart from almonds for some odd reason so I’m lucky that I can eat these cakes! They are definitely some of the best cakes I have tried, all made with fresh cream and fruit (probably not good for the diet, oops) and it is great that there are options for anyone eating gluten-free.

The other place that I love and that I know have a lot of gluten-free options is ‘The Mountain Café’ in Aviemore. Any time I’ve been there in the summer we’ve had to queue for a while to get a table (which is annoying but a good sign) and I reckon it’s just because they do lovely fresh tasting food which seems to be incredibly popular. On their menu they say they can do loads of things as a gluten free option – breakfasts, sandwiches and rolls – and have a whole section on their website describing how dedicated they are to keeping their allergy-suitable foods separate and uncontaminated. They always have a huge selection of cakes and I’d say every time I’ve been there, there’s been at least two gluten-free options to choose from. 

 

Gluten-Free Apple Crumble Recipe!

I love apple crumble so much. It is such a great dessert but I also have it just as a snack sometimes – probably not the most slimming food! Tonight I’ve actually made it just to have for supper, not as a dessert as I couldn’t be bothered to wait for after to eat it! It works quite well with gluten free flour, but I find it doesn’t go as crunchy as ‘normal’ stuff does. I like to put bits of butter in amongst the crumble and over the top as this can help it to get more brown and crunchy.

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Some people like to flavour their apples with spice – I’ve seen quite a lot that use cinnamon but I like to use cloves. To me cloves make things taste a bit like Christmas! There are loads of different variations to making apple crumble – ingredients, whether or not you cook the apples first, and how you make the topping. I don’t cook the apples first, especially for a gluten free crumble as it needs to cook for quite a long time to fully bake the topping (as with all gluten free baking, it tends to take longer to brown) so cooking it all for a longer time means the apples will naturally fully cook slowly. I add sugar in with the layers of apples so this creates a lovely syrup, which gets flavoured by the cloves I add.

For me, serving apple crumble with ice cream or pouring cream is a must – I love the cold of the ice cream against the hot apple crumble if it’s just out of the oven!

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Ingredients:

2 large cooking apples – (I use Bramleys)
1 tbsp light brown sugar
10 cloves
5oz plain gluten-free flour
3oz caster sugar (1tbsp of this is for the apples, the rest for the crumble)
3oz butter (cold, straight from the fridge)

Method:

First, prepare the apple base: peel the apples, and chop them into thin wedges around 2-3mm in thickness. Layer the apples neatly in a large dish around 8×8 inches and 2 inches deep, sprinkling on each of the caster and light brown sugar as you go with each layer, until all the apples are used. Place the cloves evenly on top of the apples.

To make the crumble, weigh the flour and remaining caster sugar and put them into a mixing bowl. Take the butter and cut it up into small chunks and add this into the bowl also. With your hands, rub the butter into the powder mixture – this might feel a little greasy on your hands – keep going until the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs.

Carefully pour the crumble on top of the apples, making sure no apples are left exposed, as if they are, they’ll burn and become very dry in the oven. Cut small chunks of butter and put them among the crumble, half exposed as this will add colour to the dish.

Enjoy!

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Gluten free in Glasgow – Little Italy

Little Italy – Byres Road

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As I live in Glasgow’s West End, I’d been wanting to go to this great looking Italian restaurant/pizza bar for quite a while as I had heard they do gluten free pizzas, but every time I thought about going it was too late or something else got in the way. So this morning my boyfriend Rossi and I decided to go there for lunch, as we thought it would be easy enough to get a table – even though it’s the weekend it’s still only lunch time. We got there to find the place jam-packed with people – it was a lovely atmosphere with loads of people crowded into a small place which for me is always a good sign as you know the food is obviously sought after! We decided it would be easier just to get pizza to go as we could have been waiting for quite some time for a table and we were super hungry. So I ordered a small ham and pineapple pizza (my favourite) and Rossi ordered a plain cheese and tomato large pizza and together they came to £15 which I thought was pretty good, as from a big chain like Domino’s or Pizza Hut you’d probably pay that amount for just one pizza. As we waited for our pizzas to be made, we could watch the guys freshly making the pizzas which slightly worried me as I couldn’t see a clear separate area for the gluten free pizzas. We got our pizzas after waiting about 10 minutes which I’m sure within that time at least one table would have become free but never mind, we went home and started to eat our pizzas. They were really good and my boyfriend (who is part Italian) said it was probably one of the best pizzas he’d had outside of Italy. Mine was pretty great too, apart from they’d forgotten to put the ham on but luckily I had some at home so was able to just add it myself. I would definitely go there again, but next time hope to get a table, the price was very reasonable and it’s great to know you’re getting fresh, hand-made quality gluten free food!

http://www.littleitalyglasgow.com/index.html

Gluten free chocolate chip cookies recipe!

These are probably the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies I’ve had – they’re so simple to make and they are amazing warm straight out of the oven. For me, foods with chocolate in is quite difficult and adds another factor to me finding foods I can eat because I’m allergic to soya, and it just so happens that practically all chocolate you can pick up in a supermarket will have soya lecithin in as an emulsifier. If I am desperate to get some soya free chocolate I will go to a health food or organic shop as most will stock some varieties of chocolate which don’t contain soya (sometimes the dairy free options), but if I’m honest, I usually just buy regular and put up with the effect as I’m not too badly allergic – however saying this I only have chocolate on rare occasions. You can alter the amount of chocolate in this recipe if you don’t want them too sweet, or if you want them super chocolatey you can add in a tablespoon of chocolate powder.

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Ingredients:

5oz caster sugar
4oz light brown sugar
9oz gluten free self-raising flour
5oz butter
4oz white chocolate
4oz milk chocolate
vanilla essence

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 Measure out the butter into a bowl, and put this bowl in the microwave for about 10 seconds, just to loosen the butter up a bit. Now cream together both the types of sugar with the butter until completely mixed. Gradually add in the flour, and then add the beaten egg. Cut up the chocolate roughly and add it in. Roll small balls of the mixture about the size of a ping pong ball and place them spaced evenly on a tray with baking paper on – you will probably need 4 or 5 trays for this amount of mixture but they cook so quickly you can re-use the trays. I like to put a block of chocolate on top of each cookie too. Cook each batch for about 8 minutes. Serve warm for an extra specially magic taste!

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Is anything safe from the gluten monster?!

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I just found out that fizzy rainbow laces (called Fizzy Multicolour Belts from Tesco) have gluten and wheat in them. WHY!? This is awful news, not only because I love them, but because I just bought some and ate them without reading the packet. Cue the itching, sore stomach, stingy eyes, blocked nose and cold symptoms.  Having been diagnosed as being allergic to wheat nearly 4 years ago, you’d have thought I’d have learned to vigorously check EVERY packet.  Which I usually do. But not this time. It just shows that even when you think you’re used to living a certain way, and you’re used to knowing which kinds of products to scan the ingredients list of, you can still mess up, especially when there’s the temptation of sweets in your way! It just goes to show – in a world where when people ask me “so what does that mean you can’t eat then?”, when I tell them that I am allergic to wheat, it’s not just the obvious ones such as bread, pasta and cakes, it can include almost anything – even fizzy rainbow sweeties.

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Gluten free chocolate brownies recipe!

These brownies are amazing – and because there’s not too much flour in them, you won’t even be able to tell they’re gluten free. If you don’t like them too sweet, you can choose not to add in the extra chopped chocolate – but it does make them incredible!

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Ingredients:

8oz unsalted butter

6oz (or one large bar) good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

3oz cocoa powder

3oz  self-raising gluten free flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

12oz caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs

3oz chopped white chocolate

3oz chopped milk chocolate

Around 2oz chopped nuts or dried fruit – optional

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C or gas mark 4. Line a 9×9 inch baking tin with greaseproof paper – a good tip for doing this is to scrunch up the paper, run it under the tap, and then smooth in into the tin – this ensures that it fills the corners so you don’t lose mixture in the creases.

 In a large bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the butter and the dark chocolate. In another bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, gluten free flour, baking powder, sugar, and the chopped fruit or nuts if you are using them then add this to the melted chocolate mixture, a bit at a time. Stir this together well until it is a smooth consistency. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and mix into the main mixture until you have a silky consistency. Leave the brownie mixture to cool for about 5 minutes and add the chopped white and milk chocolate.

Pour the brownie mix into the baking tray and place in the oven for around 25 minutes or until they look dark and shiny on top. It might be tempting to cook the brownies for longer as they will still be wobbly when you take them out of the oven. These are something that do with being under-done as opposed to over-done, as over-cooked brownies take on a hard, spongy consistency whereas if they are under-done, it just means they will be more gooey.

Make sure you leave them to cool completely in the tray before turning out as they will crumble if they are still hot. They are lovely heated up with some vanilla ice cream or with raspberries and cream for a really wonderful fresh flavour.

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Just in time for pancake day!

Gluten free pancakes 

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This recipe makes lovely thin pancakes which I find are perfect with just fresh lemon and caster sugar.

Ingredients:

4oz plain gluten free flour

1 large egg

½ pint of milk

Sunflower oil for frying

Method:

Pour the milk into a measuring jug and then add in the flour, then the egg. Use a whisk to thoroughly beat the mixture. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan and pour some mixture in, rolling it around the pan to cover the surface. Flip when the edges start to brown slightly, and repeat with each pancake, adding a little oil as needed each time.

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Gluten free toad in the hole and Yorkshire pudding recipe!

This batter can be used either to make toad in the hole or Yorkshire pudding. I prefer it as a toad in the hole, because as you will know if you have made gluten free Yorkshire puddings, they don’t rise and become a bowl shape like regular ones, they puff up more like a bread roll. The toad in the hole has more surface area, therefore leaving more of the batter to get crispy, something I miss with the dough-ey consistency of the Yorkshire puddings.

If, like me you had a struggle finding gluten free sausages in supermarkets such as Tesco, I’d suggest Marks and Spencers as even their value range – which is only 61% pork – is made with gluten free crumb, as are most of their other own-brand sausages.

I make enough for two meals so I cut it in half and freeze one for another time. Using half the ingredients makes enough for one meal.

Ingredients:

4oz self-raising gluten free flour
2 eggs
4 fluid oz milk
1 fluid oz water
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper
dripping or oil
4 sausages

Turn the oven on to 220 as soon as you start cooking. Cook the sausages until done, but not crispy as they will have more cooking time in the oven with the batter. Whilst the sausages are cooking, pour the milk into a large measuring jug (you will use the jug for the entire mixture so it needs to be big enough to fit a whisk in) and then measure the water in with the milk. Weigh the flour and put that in along with the baking powder, and then the eggs after. Add the salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Use a hand or electric whisk to mix the batter – if you are using a hand whisk make sure to mix it quite well as to get some air in. When the sausages have about 5 minutes to go, put the oil or dripping into a baking tray and put in the oven. The fat needs to be smoking hot.
When the sausages are cooked enough and the fat has been in the oven for 5 minutes or is hot enough, take the pan out of the oven, place the sausages in it evenly spaced apart, then pour in the batter – this needs to be done quickly so that the fat stays hot enough and sizzling when the mixture is poured in. Put this back in the oven now for about 10-15 minutes and take it out when it’s quite brown.

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