Coeliac UK Awareness week runs until May 15. Bruce McMichael, manager of Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market, explains where you can source delicious gluten-free goodies locally
STROLL around a farmers’ market or farm shop and you’ll no doubt see signs displaying food and drink described as ‘gluten-free’.
Gluten is a mixture of two proteins found most commonly in cereal grains such as wheat, rye and barley which gives bread its elastic, squishy texture. But it can also be traced in everything from ice cream to sausages and cans of baked beans.
Gluten-free foods have become increasingly common over the past few years and are eaten by people with coeliac (pronounced see-liac) disease which is caused by the body reacting against gluten.
Symptoms include bloating, nausea, wind, tiredness and anaemia. According to Coeliac UK, a leading charity focused on the condition, it affects around one person in a hundred.
For people diagnosed as coeliacs it can be quite stressful eating out, or buying food that is not clearly labelled as such. Spending a lot of time hunting out suitable foods, that are not only gluten-free but also taste delicious, can be a challenge.
Coeliac UK organises its awareness week annually and this year’s, on all this week until May 15, launches an initiative called the ‘Gluten Freevolution’ which runs until April 2018. It’s all about promoting access to better gluten-free food whether you’re eating out or grabbing something quick on the move.
For example, the charity has launched an app called the Gluten Free Food Checker, which enables users to search for thousands of food products suitable for a gluten-free diet. The app also has a barcode scanner, lists ingredients and nutritional information for products and includes readymade product lists.
The only treatment for the condition is a gluten-free diet, and while lots of bread, cakes and battered and breaded foods may be off the menu, there are many including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, rice and potatoes that do not contain gluten. And also plenty of gluten-free flours are now available so sufferers don’t miss out on foods such as scotch eggs, pizza bases and muffins.
Avril Barrow, of The Quality Cake Company, based just south of Tunbridge Wells in Flimwell, is a regular stallholder at the Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market and she says demand for gluten and dairy-free cakes, brownies and other baked treats at her stall is soaring.
“Over the past few years my customers have started buying far more gluten-free cakes and are always excited when they see the range of food they can taste and buy. My best sellers at the moment are brownies, macaroons, cookies and raspberry and almond cakes.”
Gluten-free products are also available from The Fat Carrot, Little Brittany, Marshmallow Heaven, McCarthy’s Bakery and Let’s Go Without.
Berry yoghurt crisp pots
Try this tempting gluten-free dessert as a delicious alternative
What you need:
15g / ½ oz desiccated coconut
2tbsp macadamia nuts, chopped
2tbsp cashew nuts, chopped
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
50g/ 1 ¾ oz Nairn’s gluten free porridge oats
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp olive oil
2tbsp apple juice
60g / 2oz fresh blueberries
60g / 2oz fresh raspberries
75g / 3oz strawberries, sliced
150g / 5oz Natural yogurt
What you do:
- Place the coconut, nuts, seeds and oats in a bowl. Sprinkle over the ground cinnamon. Pour in the oil and apple juice and stir to combine.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan and add the oat mixture. Toast over a low heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently until golden brown. Allow to cool.
- Mix the berries together in a small bowl.
- Spoon the berries into four glasses or bowl and top with a spoonful of yogurt. Sprinkle over the oat mixture and serve.