[BLOG] COME DINE WITH ME…..BUT NOT IF YOU HAVE DIETARY REQUIREMENTS!

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During Coeliac Awareness Week 2015, the awesome and fabulous guys at Genius commissioned a survey that highlighted some unsettling results. Here is what they found:

39% of people don’t know how to cook for someone with a specific dietary requirement

80% don’t know where to start when catering for coeliacs and those avoiding wheat and gluten  

20% of those with a specific diet requirement have felt excluded from social events

Over a 3rd of those lucky enough to be invited have been forced to go without food because their dietary requirements haven’t been catered for (and I have personally been in this situation myself!) 

But according to the Survey, over 2000 adults deliberately refuse to cook or cater for those with specific dietary requirements, not because they are being cruel and unkind, but because they are scared of getting it wrong and worse – making their guest very ill.

Additionally it’s not just the hosts that deliberately avoid inviting guests with specific dietary requirements, 49% of those with dietary requirements will avoid social events, meals out, holidays etc as they’re worried their needs will not be met!

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So what do we do? Here I’ve listed my own tips for those hosting an event, organising a meal out or having friends round for dinner who may have a guest who has Coeliac Disease and avoid wheat and gluten. Feel free to leave a comment below if you know of any more tips or helpful advice that will help others:

LABELS ARE EASY TO READ

All packaged food within the UK must list whether a product contains wheat or gluten (and other allergens).  They have also made it easy by highlighting ‘wheat’ and ‘gluten’ in the ingredients so you can see this immediately. They also list these in the ‘allergen box’ which is usually situated after the ingrediants, however this is being phased out (only because it’s become easier to read the ingredients) 

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WATCH FOR OTHER INGREDIENTS

Unfortunately for Coeliacs we don’t just avoid wheat and gluten, but we also avoid; Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt and Kamut. So remember to look out for these ingredients if you’re catering for a Coeliac.

MAY CONTAIN LABELLING

Manufacturers will use this label if the product may contain wheat/gluten because it was either made on a line that handles wheat/gluten or made in a factory that also handles wheat/gluten. Personally I am OK with this risk (as *touch wood* I have not been ‘glutened’ yet) but some people are very sensitive to wheat/gluten,  and understandably don’t want to take this risk. If you come across this labelling and are still unsure, I’d recommend speaking to your guest who has Coeliac Disease.

SPEAK TO YOUR COELIAC GUEST 

If you’re unsure, nervous, anxious about hurting your guest – speak to them! After all they don’t want to be ill nor do they want you to be so worried! They may be able to offer advice or guide you in the right direction. If you’re planning on eating out, they may know of restaurants that cater for Coeliacs or alternatively what products to buy or dishes to make.

DO SOME RESEARCH

They are some amazing blogs and websites that offer great and honest advice, delicious recipes and product/restaurants reviews! If you’re unsure where to start, I have listed my favourite ‘Gluten Free Go-To Blogs’ [here]. I also list easy Gluten Free Receipes [here] as well as a list of Gluten Free Restuarants that cater for Coeliacs or those who need to avoid wheat and gluten [here]

BE CAREFUL OF CROSS CONTAMINATION

You’ll be doing everything correctly. You’ve read the labels religiously, sourced and bought the right gluten free products but you’ve just used the same spoon to stir your own gluten ridden pasta with the gluten free pasta! This can be a disaster for coealics as we can become very ill from cross contamination! Just a small amount of wheat and gluten can make us poorly! Try not to fret and worry too much when cooking but do be careful and mindful!

DON’T FEEL BAD ASKING YOUR GUEST TO BRING OWN DISHES OR PRODUCTS

Gluten free food is expensive. A loaf of gluten free bread can cost a whopping £3! So don’t feel bad for asking your coeliac guest to bring their own products – they’ll be more than happy to oblige! Also don’t feel bad about asking your guest to bring their own dishes either. If you’re that worried about poisoning your guest with gluten so much so that you’re considering not inviting them – ask!

NATURAL GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS

Sometimes you don’t have to buy expensive alternatives or read food labels to find gluten free products as some are gluten free naturally. I’m talking about any fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, rice, potatoes, pulses and fish!

[REVIEW] MY TOP 5 GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS IN MANCHESTER

Back in 2007 when I was a newly diagnosed, confused little coeliac, restaurants didn’t really cater for those who needed a gluten free diet.  It wasn’t like what it is now, eating out was a real headache!

 But now we’re so lucky that more places are catering for people with coeliac disease. I still get excited when I see more restaurants creating more gluten free dishes and the waiters knowing all about coeliac disease and being gluten free. Don’t get me wrong, I still come across some places that really make it difficult and trying to ask them what’s safe is like drawing blood out from a stone.

So for Coeliac Awareness Week 2015, I thought I would list my Top 5 Gluten Free Restaurants in Manchester! They’re my ‘go to’ places that I am confidant in recommending to others  and are safe in the knowledge that I won’t be glutened! If you’re ever in Manchester, you must try some of these places out!

1. TEA 42

It’s no surprise that Tea 42 has been awarded first place at the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards! It’s the only place I know with a dedicated gluten free menu! Pretty much everything on their menu is gluten free! They do everything from breakfasts to lunch, afternoon teas, cakes and a 5 course dinner from their amazing a la carte menu! I even reviewed them on a couple of occasions and if you fancy hearing more about Tea 42 click [here] or to find out what I thought of their delicious al la carte menu, click [here]

2. SWEET MANDARIN

Would you believe it, there’s an amazing Chinese restaurant in Manchester that caters for Coeliacs?! When you’ve been diagnosed with coeliac disease, you have to say goodbye to a lot of nice things that you once enjoyed. One of those things I never thought I’d eat again was Chinese food – until I came across Sweet Mandarins!

The awesome ladies at Sweet Mandarin have made it possible for us coeliacs to enjoy Chinese food again and trust me, it’s delicious! I even had crispy duck and hoi sin sauce with sweet and sour chicken with battered chicken pieces! For more dishes, check out their gluten free menu!

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I’m due to write a proper review of my experience at Sweet Mandarin so do check back soon!

3. DOUGH PIZZA KITCHEN

I am obsessed with Dough Pizza Kitchen! It was the first place I went to where I felt safe and in good hands! Not only are their pizza bases gluten free, but they also have the option of diary free cheese too! Their menu offers so many gluten free options with unique and delicious pizza variations that at times I want to order everything on the menu! Plus if pizza isn’t your thing, they also offer gluten free pasta dishes too! For a more in-depth review, check out my link [here]

4. MUGHLI 

Having a Dad who (in my opinion) is the king of currys, often makes it hard for me to find anything that compares! However, I think I found the one here at Mughlis! I am obsessed with this restaurant and their curries – especially their Railway Kari Curry! (it’s my favourite!). Mughlis is so cool inside, the staff are super friendly and helpful that it’s hard to find a fault with the place. What’s more, their menu clearly states what’s gluten free and there’s plenty of choice! Even my Dad wants to see what the fuss is about since I go on about them so much!

5. FOSTERS FISH & CHIPS 

I grew up on fish and chips! When I was little, my Dad owned his own fish and chips shop which meant I had it coming out of my ears, we ate it so much! So you could understand my pain when I could no longer enjoy fish and chips having been diagnosed with coeliac disease! But Fosters Fish & Chips have come to rescue and offer gluten free fish and chips every Sunday! They even offer gluten free vinegar to go with the dinner! For a more in-depth review, check out my link [here]

 

[BLOG] THE POSITIVES ABOUT BEING COELIAC AND GLUTEN FREE

When people discover they’ve got Coeliac Disease, they’re usually filled with upset and despair. I know I did and I cried buckets when I was diagnosed!

When I tell people I have Coeliac Disease I’m usually met with a sympathetic look, a hug or silly questions like “can you eat potatoes”, “will you get over it” and my personal favourite; “is it contagious?”

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 So for Coeliac UK  Awareness Week 2015, I thought I’d try something different. Instead of listing all the sad and frustrating things about being coeliac and sticking to a strict gluten free diet, I thought I’d add a little positive spin and list 5 things about being a sassy coeliac and a gorgeous gluten free!

1. TRYING NEW FOODS

Before my diagnosis I was a right fussy bugger! I wouldn’t try anything new and stuck to stuff I liked! I was every parents nightmare but now I’m more inspired to try things that are gluten free which has really broadened by culinary tastes!

2. LEARNING TO COOK AND BAKE

In the past, I could not cook to save my life, it was a running joke within my family. I could just about pour the correct quantity of water into a pot noodle let along cook a dinner for myself! However, having coeliac disease has meant that in order for me to enjoy the foods I loved, I would have to cook or bake them myself… from scratch! I’m no chef and have made some terrible disasters in the past but it’s because of this that I was inspired to start blogging on The Gluten Free Student Cookbook! The more I cook and bake the more my confidence grows!

3. THE ONLINE GLUTEN FREE COMMUNITY

First off, you guys are simply and truly amazing. We are so lucky to have such an incredible, caring and kind online gluten free community. The amount of support I have been given has helped me get through some very tough times and for that I’ll be forever greatful. They’re there to lift your spirits, spread awareness, inform you of new gluten free products on the market and alert you of restaurants that cater for us gluten free peeps!

If you’ve just been diagnosed with coeliac disease or you could do with some support, I recommend joining Twitter and getting in touch with these amazing people. I would list all those incredible people but I’m afraid I’d be here forever listing name after name. If you do want to know who those fabulous people are, take a look at those who I follow.

4. DISCOVERING THE GLUTEN FREE BLOGS

Just like the gluten free online community, the blogosphere is an amazing hive full of recipes, reviews, advice and guidance. I can spend hours upon hours reading all the fantastic blogs out there and they’ve inspired me and taught me so much. If I hadn’t got coeliac disease I wouldn’t have come across these amazing blogs and been inspired to try receipes that I normally wouldn’t have been bothered with! My favourite blogs that I believe you should look at are:

(If you know of any other amazing gluten free blogs that I don’t know about, please send me a tweet or an email! I’m always on the look out to find more blogs that will inspire me!)

5.BEING CONFIDENT AND STRONG

We know it’s not easy having coeliac disease and sticking to a very strict gluten free diet. The transition is bordering on torturous but getting through it and coming out of the other side is proof how strong and confidant you truly are. Not only do you have to overcome barriers such as; eating out, dining at friends houses, spending a small fortune on gluten free foods you also have to overcome that overbearing desire not to grab that Krispy Kreme doughnut and shove it in your mouth!

Coeliacs are the strongest people I know and you all should give yourself the biggest pat on your back! As cheesy as it sounds, if you can stick to a gluten free diet you can pretty much overcome a lot of things!