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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No GF dice for Ace

Ace Pizza is the newest kid on the Mt Lawley block and in the name of research we tried it out on Friday night. Yes I know, alarm bells should have been ringing when I read the name, however I bought into the idea that this potential new local would be coeliac friendly just like it’s sister restaurant El Publico up the road.

The new fit out – of what was formerly Barolo – was oh so edgy and had a great atmosphere. We sat at the bar, which was perfect because we just wanted to grab a quick bite to eat and head home to watch Suits (we’re hooked on this show!).

The service at Ace was well, ace! The waitress took our drink order, a wine for me and for my date, a Peroni beer in a can imported from Italy. This of course was not GF, but it was a nice touch and left the avid beer drinker with a smile on his dial. The waitress also ran me through the five GF menu items, chop chop beef ($14), occy with potatoes and olive ($18), mussels with lemon and dill ($17), beets and ricotta ($16) and rib chop with bone marrow and potato ($79), but there was no GF pizza on the menu at all. This is something I assumed Ace, with the owner’s great GF track record, would have but I should have called to check first!

I ordered the occy which came out first and was more a jack than an Ace with only four pieces of “occy” on the plate mixed with a lot of potato. It was then on to the mussels, which the waitress had said were quite large but when they arrived they were really only another starter dish, a precursor to the hero dish, the pizzas!

After these two dishes I watched delicious looking pizzas being gobbled up around me and encountered a lot of gluten envy (apparently the pizzas are as tasty as they look). So, I  spent a while trying to get the waitress’ attention to order more food and fill my still rumbling belly. I began to get hangry (the emotion you feel when you’re really hungry, a cross between angry and hungry) so we folded and headed out to San Churros for strawberries dipped in chocolate and macaroons! All gluten free and they filled me right up.

All in all, I think Ace is great for others (read another review here if you’re not on a GF diet), but a bad bet for us coeliacs. I’m eagerly awaiting the day that they get on the GF train so I can eat the equivelant to my body weight in those Ace pizzas!

GLUTEN FREE DAY

YES YOU READ RIGHT… IT’S GLUTEN FREE DAY ON GROCERYRUN.COM.AU AND ALL YOUR FAVOURITE GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS ARE DISCOUNTED FOR THE NEXT 21 HOURS!

Days like this only come around once every now and then – I thought they were an urban myth – so when a sale like this hits your inbox, you know it’s time to stock up! The site has some great gluten free brands on sale, with discounts of up to 66% on these products. Even with the $11 delivery fee you’ll still save on these products!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this gluten free stuff aint cheap at the supermarket so it’s a great idea to keep a lookout for these types of sales and buy your nonperishable snacks while they’re discounted and in bulk.

Occasionally I feel like a naughty snack (especially after too many drinks the night before) and sometime I need emergency GF nibbles for when my other glutard friends are over, so I stocked up on my two favourite brands of GF chips, Piranha Chicca Chips and Vege Deli Crisps as well as Eskal Deli Crackers, which tend to be a lot more expensive in the shops.

I also purchased Well & Good Muffin Mix. I discovered Well & Good at the Coles Gluten Free Expo and now I am hooked on their gluten free chocolate cake mix and I’m hoping the muffin mix will be just as good. I don’t normally enjoy packet mixes, but with GF cakes so few and far between this is a sufficient quick fix for me.

The site is also selling gluten free pasta, rice noodles, kids snacks  and more! Happy shopping!

MEXICAN HOT SPOT

Firstly, I must apologise for not posting in a while, I have been away with work and collecting lots of content on eating gluten free while travelling the Pilbara…let me assure you, this was no simple task. However, today’s blog post is just a quickie to tell you about El Publico, a Mexican restaurant in Mt Lawley aka coeliac paradise.

I have to admit, I had eaten here pre diagnosis and didn’t enjoy it at all, but we thought we’d give it another go last night in a smaller group of just two people and therefore could choose our own dishes. This was definitely the better way to experience the gluten free friendly menu – only four non gluten free foods are listed on the menu and they are marked clearly with an asterix, meaning I didn’t have to feel like a total pain constantly asking the waiter questions!!!

We ordered the street corn and cuttlefish for starters, these were the highlight dishes of the night. We followed with a lamb belly taco, with Aunty G’s sauce and a chicken taco each. The waiter (who was fabulous by the way!) placed some house made hot sauce on the table with the famous last words ‘It’s really hot… in case you want to party!”. How hot could it be I asked myself, well, with only three drops of the hot sauce on my taco I was sweating up a storm! Beware of the hot sauce, it is in fact, HOT sauce!

Overall I was really impressed with the service and food at El Publico, they make it so easy for coeliacs, you almost forget you have any special diatary needs – that is until your date orders a crispy pork role (Torta ahogada), which had my mouth watering!

On another note, the Coles gluten free and healthy living expo is on this weekend 16 -17 March, 2013 at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre. According to a lovely lady at the Coeliac Society, the expo is a must for coeliacs as you can experience all things gluten free. You’ll find me there, taste testing my way through the expo booth by booth 🙂

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 WHAT?!

I don’t know about all you other coeliacs / gluten intolerant people, but I have really struggled to find good and easy, gluten free take away. I have found myself less inclined to pop out for lunch during the week and I have noticed that the language barrier at cheaper eats is a big hurdle (gluten free what?!), making the task of picking up a quick feed on a week night almost impossible.

This was most definitely the case last night at a Japanese takeaway place in Subiaco. I was left a little red faced and not to mention hungry, after a gluten free altercation with the people behind the counter. I could tell they weren’t well versed on gluten free foods, especially when they said a big fat “NO!” when I asked to check the ingredients on the miso paste they use – I wonder what they were hiding in that backroom, it sounded suss.

On the other hand I do want to share a good experience I’ve had with Thai cuisine. Thai seems to be a great way to go for gluten free takeaway and I was pleasantly surprised when some friends and I ordered Tamarind Thai in Mt Hawthorn. The Menu has ‘gluten free’ scrawled across the front (big tick), and the lady taking our order was more than happy to point out the four menu items that contained gluten (I still double checked all dishes were gluten free at time of ordering). That FOMO (fear of missing out) feeling was nowhere to be seen… coeliac heaven!

I didn’t get any snaps of the food (we were too busy chomping it down!) but click on the image below to see a copy of the menu. The highlighted items are not gluten free.

Tamarind Thai menu, the highlighted items are NOT gluten free.

Tamarind Thai menu, the highlighted items are NOT gluten free.

LET’S PARTY, GLUTEN FREE STYLE

To celebrate my 25th birthday last week, I invited some family and friends over on Friday and Saturday nights (all birthdays should be celebrated for more than one day, right?!). On top of this being a great way to kick off my next quarter century, it was also the perfect opportunity to test run some gluten free (GF) food ideas.

I’m glad I planned a gluten free menu because I unknowingly had two coeliacs and two gluten intolerant people to the party – who knew this gluten free stuff was so common!

During the day, my party prep team (best friends, bf and mum!) and I chopped celery, carrots and capsicums to go with homemade hummus, tuna dip (courtesy of my aunty and her Thermomix – she substituted the mayo with GF mayo) and store bought olive and feta dip (check the labels, it’s fairly easy to find GF dips). I also served the dips with Mission chips, which are so yummy and approved for gluten free eating!

Gluten free dips, Mission chips and veggies to dip!

Gluten free dips, Mission chips and veggies to dip!

As you may have seen in my last post, we made gluten free meatballs which I warmed in the oven for 20 minutes and served with gluten free chili jam I made from a recipe in the Must Eat cookbook.

Meatballs were served with chili jam.

Meatballs were served with chili jam.

After first finding out I had coeliac disease I was devastated about giving up my beloved arancini. Well, I shouldn’t have been such a sook, because Antichi Sapori (the company I ordered my arancini through) came to the rescue and made me gluten free arancini as well! Everyone loved the gluten free version of the arancini so much that the little balls of rice flew off the plate before I even had a chance to try one (or get a quick snap!), so we will just have to take the word of my foodie friends on this one!

Next out of the kitchen were chicken wings and drumsticks from Torre butchers. I asked a few butchers if they would do gluten free marinate for me, but Torre were the only ones to oblige! The chicken tasted damn good and like the arancini these were chomped down in less than a minute!

Bite size gluten free chicken!

Bite size gluten free chicken!

I was a bit uncertain of how all the gluten free food would taste, so I ordered pizza from La Pagnotta – which was so tempting to eat, but a big no,no for us coeliacs. It was very simple to prepare and perfect for filling the tummy’s of my non gluten free guests!

Pizza from La Pagnotta.

Pizza from La Pagnotta.

Both nights were finished off with some sweet delights! I ordered gluten free cupcakes, macaroons (I am so happy these are gluten free!) and a gluten free chocolate mousse cake. I really didnt like the taste of the cupcakes, but I have heard that the taste of gluten free products does take some getting used to – I am sure I’ll get there!

Gluten free cupcakes from Sweet on Cupcakes

Gluten free cupcakes.

And finally, for drinks I served gluten free punch, cocktails and offered spirts for guest to create their own mixed drinks.

Peach, orange and mint punch!

Peach, orange and mint punch!

Cocktail station set and ready to drink!

Cocktail station set and ready to drink!

Fresh fruit and veg for mixing with drinks!

Fresh fruit and veg for mixing with drinks in maison jars!

It wouldn't be a birthday without decorations!

It wouldn’t be a birthday without decorations!

The night couldn’t have gone anymore perfectly, and the best part was I didn’t crave any gluten foods because my glutenless treats were just THAT good! After the success of the weekend, I think I am definitely on my way to conquering the gluten free battle!

WAITING TO TAKE THE THRONE

Hi! My name is Natalie Biagioni, and this blog is about my journey to becoming the Queen B (B for Biagioni) of all things gluten free (GF)!

Right now, as of this very minute I am a self-confessed, diehard, food fanatic – I eat what I want, when I want. I am a born and bred Perthian, with a European family who love to feed me pastas, cakes, biscuits and breads. Our whole family dynamic revolves around eating and hey, I’m not going to say no to delicious handmade pasta covered in fresh homemade sugo … who would!

So (back to the point!), you can imagine the shock and horror that hit me at 8.10am yesterday morning, when I met with my doctor and she confirmed that I have Coeliac Disease. My first thought was, oh no! No more Torres cutlets!

Alas, I began mourning my glorious gluten filled life. I ate every bit of every wheat product in my sight. I told myself “this is the last time I will eat a kit kat” and “I will start eating GF on Monday”. I even shed a tear for the arancini I won’t be able to eat at my birthday dinner next weekend!

After feeling very sorry for myself for most of the morning (and a majority of last week, before the test results came through), I was shown a documentary at work titled ‘The Ride’. It’s about four wheelchair bound men who travel on quad bikes to the sites of their accidents. The sheer difficulty that these men face every day snapped me back to reality pretty quickly. I realised very fast that eating gluten free is not the worst thing that could happen to a person!

Voilà! Here I am writing a blog to tackle my new life head on. My plan is to use this blog as inspiration, to stay on track and to document all the great products I find and the best places – in whichever city or town I am in – to eat gluten free!

The best bit is, after setting up this blog, I have found that I want to get started on my new gluten free diet right now.  No more wallowing, no more last bites, no more excuses. Here starts my journey to becoming Queen B… I hope you will join me!

Natalie xx

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