It’s a choctravesty

Stop the press!! I have some terrible news for chocolate loving coeliacs out there… Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate is no longer considered gluten free.

This devastating piece of news hit my inbox via the Coeliac Society’s e-newsletter, and as my eyes rolled over the email I read the line Members should note that Cadbury has recently included a “may contain” statement on new packaging.” My reaction, I was a blubbering mess!  There were tears, swear words and an angry outburst that went something like “first I can’t eat Lindt chocolate, now Cadbury! What the F am I going to eat!”

I know, I know, it sounds a bit dramatic, but as a chocolate-a-day kind of girl, this news was a lot to take on. I pondered why Cadbury, a longstanding favourite, would go and change their ingredients on me. I wanted to know more, because I sure as hell am not eating that gluten free chocolate crap – People can say what they like, it does not stack up to the real stuff – so I called Cadbury.

The new Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate blcok with peel and re-seal packaging. Not suitable for coeliacs. Source: cadbury.com.au

The new Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate block with peel and re-seal packaging. Not suitable for coeliacs. Source: cadbury.com.au

The bubbly Cadbury lady on the other end of the phone told me that Dairy Milk chocolate is still made exactly the same way, however Cadbury have updated their packaging (they’ve ditched the cardboard wrapping) and have decided to include the precautionary “may contain” statement, because Dairy Milk is produced on the same production line as chocolates containing gluten.

Still not sure if you're eating the old or the new Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate? Check the shape of the choc pieces. Source: cadbury.com.au

Still not sure if you’re eating the old or the new Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate? Check the shape of the choc pieces. Source: cadbury.com.au

This was a massive let down, some would say it is a choctravesty, but the Cadbury lady gave me some hope that they are looking into putting on another machine purely for their gluten free products in the near future. Here’s hoping!

The news that Dairy Milk is no longer gluten free got me thinking about other brands that have changed their allergen statements along with their packaging. What if I haven’t noticed new packaging and what if I’ve not read the new ingredients because I have the brand / product all the time? If it wasn’t for the email from the Coeliac Society, I may have gone ahead and eaten a block of Cadbury Dairy Milk without giving the new packaging a second glance! I’ve definitely learnt a valuable lesson here, always read the labels!

Now all I have to do is find a new chocolate to eat! Reeces Peanut Butter Cups and Baci Chocolates are close contenders but not the same as the simple, melt in your mouth flavour of a piece of Cadbury. I’m on the hunt and will let you know what the next best option is as soon as I find one!

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COELIAC 101, LESSON 1

Four weeks ago, when I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, I thought it was the end of my world. The end to all delicious food which I loved so much (no cakes! no pasta! no bread!) and the start of something much more depressing, frustrating and not to mention embarrassing – “how can I expect people to cook gluten free for me?” I was heard whining.

I have had so many ups and downs in this past month, I’ve dodged a few gluten bullets and had many a melt down over a restaurant menu, but lately I have noticed a change – news flash, I can still eat most of this stuff! – which is why I thought it a good idea to give a rundown of the basics I’ve learned to date.

Lesson 1 – Cheerleaders

All coeliacs need a cheer squad.

Listen up glutards and coeliacs alike, it is impossible to get through weeks 1 -3 without a posse of cheerleaders behind you. The Queen B cheer squad grew and grew in these first few weeks and is still growing as more family, friends and friends of friends of friends find out about my disease. It has blown me away how supportive everyone has been and I most definitely needed it!

We’ll start with my mum, or as I like to think of her, the base and strongest part of the cheer pyramid. Mum took the reins at home, swapping flours, bread crumbs, dips and anything else she could think of for gluten free products. I now have my own basket filled with gluten free snacks in the pantry, ensuring I don’t even have to look at anything with gluten in it and she continues to fill it daily.

Family (also known as the catchers, the people who catch the person flying through the air) have been crucial in the changeover phase. Regular weekly dinners at home and at my boyfriend’s parents’ house are now totally gluten free. This was something I really struggled with, I felt I was being a massive burden and I initially didn’t want to attend because of the inconvenience I felt I caused. I have since been talked around by cheer captain (the boyfie) and my gluten free diet has now been embraced by all, even my 80 something year old Italian grandmother who keeps gluten free cutlets in the freezer for when I visit – I couldn’t appreciate it more.

My friends and aunties, (the cheerleaders jumping around making lots of noise, shouting give me a Q, give me a U, give me an E… well you get the picture) provide me with tonnes of tips and I receive so many good gluten free product and shopping recommendations from this great group of cheerleaders each week. Most of these cheerleaders aren’t coeliacs or gluten intolerant, just super supportive!

Some of these cheerleaders encourage me by eating gluten free themselves and go so out of their way to help me. One was seen running around the Rottnest pub (on Rotto swim day, their busiest day of the year), hunting down a chef who could tell me which menu items were gluten free – she was on a mission!

And that brings me to you guys, the people who have read this blog, commented, emailed, encouraged and spread the word! Your support has been fantastic and you have given me so many more gluten free options to explore. I look forward to continuing this gluten free journey with you!

Lesson two coming soon… stay tuned!

GLUTEN FREE PARTY FOOD: MEATBALLS!

Friday marked my one week anniversary of gluten free (GF) eating – Hooray I survived!

In preparation for my birthday celebrations (which I dragged out all weekend long!), my mum and I put our heads together and came up with some gluten free party food ideas – no small task for two people who are very new to GF eating! We decided on bite size meatballs and ordered other gluten free products from all over Perth to get us through the festivities. I will post a full re-cap on all the gluten free treats we were munching on later in the week.

I have to say, I was very skeptical of how the gluten free version of our family meatball recipe would turn out. However I was pleasantly surprised with the end result, they tasted exactly the same and maybe even better because I didn’t feel sick after eating them! As the gluten free meatballs made the cut, I am pleased to share the recipe with you here!

WHAT YOU NEED

  • A large bowl
  • A frying pan
  • Olive oil
  • 1 egg (I used fresh organic eggs from our farm, but if you can’t get your hands on organic eggs, at least make sure they are free range!)
  • 3 tbls GF bread crumbs (I used Lifestyle Bakery from Woolworths)
  • 3 tbs parmesan
  •  A handful of parsley
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  • 750g of mince (I used a combination of veal and pork).
  • 1 tbs GF self-raising flour (I used Organ, also from Woolworths)
  • 2 tsp MasterFoods All Purpose Seasoning (Spicy)

HOW TO MAKE GREAT MEATBALLS

1. Whisk your eggs in a large bowl.

2. Add bread crumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley, to make a paste.

Mix the paste.

Mix the paste.

3. Add the mince and mix the paste through, ensure it is evenly spread.
Tip: wear two pairs of latex gloves when combining mince and paste, it can get quite cold on your fingers!

Mix the mince with the paste.

Mix the mince with the paste.

4. Sprinkle self-raising flour and all purpose seasoning and mix with mince.

5. Once you have thoroughly mixed the paste and mince together, begin rolling the meatballs.
Tip:It is a good idea to roll them tight (and bite size for your party guests), so they don’t split open in the pan.

6. Coat the meatballs in gluten free bread crumbs (this is an optional step, I actually found them really nice without the crumbs on the outside too!).

7. Place a liberal amount of olive oil in the pan (around 2cm high) and heat.

8. Once the oil is very hot, place your meatballs in and cook until they are golden brown.

Cook your meatballs in oil in a hot frying pan.

Cook your meatballs in oil in a hot frying pan.

9. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice! I made the chili jam from the Must Eat cookbook, which work perfectly!

Voila! Gluten free meatballs!

Voila! Gluten free meatballs!

GOING INTO BATTLE

After my first blog post on Friday (and after receiving so much support from all of you) I was pumped for my first gluten free (GF) weekend. I headed straight home after work for a gluten free snack (Chick Nuts, thanks mum!), and dived head first into a gluten battlefield, where I stayed for the rest of the weekend.

After visiting my friend’s adorable new puppy Brooklyn, we decided on Tao in Innaloo for a casual dinner . Well, gluten dropped its first bomb, the tempura prawns! They looked so delicious, but as tempura is well and truly out, I opted for sashimi instead. It was cut very thick, and it just wasn’t the same without soy sauce (soy sauce contains wheat).

To avoid accidental gluten ingestion, I asked the waitress which menu items were GF and she very kindly hand wrote me my own GF menu. I chose the Pho Ga (chicken breast in rice noodle soup, with green onions and coriander) and to my huge delight, so did almost everyone else at the table – FOMO (fear of missing out) crisis averted!

The gluten free menu at Tao.

The gluten free menu at Tao.

The Pho Ga was nice and healthy, however gluten still managed to creep up on me in a sneaky little bowl of chili sauce served on the side of the Pho Ga. The troops had my back and suggested I check with the waitress (who wrote the GF list and also served me the evil bowl of gluten, go figure!) she confirmed it to be inedible… phewf that was close! My new number one rule is to ask questions, and lots of them.

The Pho Ga dish at Tao.

The Pho Ga dish at Tao.

Gluten went into Saturday night with guns blazing. We had organised to have fish and chips at Cottesloe beach, which, upon reflection, was not the best idea for a new glutard! I became so overwhelmed and stressed about what to order, I ended up buying almost everything in the shop! $60 and half an hour later I emerged with enough food to feed a small army, however the only suitable items for me to eat were grilled fish (no flour) and a garden salad.

I spent the entire meal googling “Can coeliac’s eat chips at a fish and chip shop” (for the record, no we can’t!) and watching my friends eat battered fish, which looked much nicer than my dry mackerel.

It was me vs gluten and gluten was kicking my butt!

Gluten may have won this time, however there’s always next weekend and I already have some moves up my sleeve in the form of homemade GF meatballs, recipe to come!

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