Reflections of the year gone by

This time last year I was faced with my first Easter of being a Coeliac… because last Easter was when I got diagnosed. I remember in the rush of last-minute shopping before the shops were shut. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to eat a decent meal again. It was such a huge shock.

I know that it could have been far worse, but at the time it felt like everything was falling down around me.I couldn’t enjoy Hot Cross Buns, Lindt Bunnies or Fish n Chips on Good Friday – three Easter essentials, felt really big…and I was at my grandparents farm, with a grandmother (retired doctor) who didn’t believe that Coeliac Disease was real and a mother who didn’t know to what extent not being able to eat Gluten meant… they were all trying to be supportive but didn’t know how, which is ok and I am not upset at them – but they were people who I turn to and who I was with and I couldn’t really do that.

Irraitableness had set in big time – which I think I mentioned in a post “living life the coeliac way” (or something along the ways) but most of all it was about facing not being able to eat anything I wanted.

For quite a few months after I was still processing how and it meant to be a Coeliac I attended Coeliac society meetings, I put in a lot of research, etc on what it meant and still to this day I am making new food discoveries.

The only difference now is that it’s finally become an exciting thing as opposed to a sad thing. By this I mean before I was sad of what I couldn’t eat, now I’m happy of what I can. Plus I have an excuse to buy cookbooks, go to the healh-food for ‘weird’ ingredients and have a cupboard dedicated to flour.

Let me show you some of these discoveries… please note I’m not at all a food photographer and that it’s not me trying to take great or even good photos it’s just about the content…

– The flour that I now keep… plus some other GF things, GF plain, GF self-raising, Xanthum Gum, GF Baking Powder, Polenta, GF Yeast, Dried Apricots, GF Corn Flour, Lupin Flour, Almond Meal, Quinoa, Quinoa Flakes, Rice Flour, Buckwheat Flour, Corn Crumbs, Rice Crumbs, Soy Flour, White Chia Seeds, Caster Sugar, Brown Rice Flour and possibly a couple of things that I have forgotten… Plus there are still more flours on my to purchase list.

Gluten-Free cooking and baking isn’t just as simple as substituting flour, there are some recipes that I have found that will use five flours just for one, I know that I don’t have to cook like this and there are ways to keep to keep it simple and usually that’s what I do… but when I have one those moments where I have to try a new recipe it’s nice to have these flours on hand…


These are all the cook-books that have guided me… 4 Ingredients – was a great starting point, it let me see that I wasn’t limited, the bible has given me more variety in my diet, Sue Shepherd is amazing…haven’t made anything from her book though and Indulge says it all – info on flour and recipes that you can truly indulge in… from this I made the Choc-Berry Buckwheat Pancakes – yum, yum, yum and soooooo easy to make.

The Emma Smoothie:

– Yes it’s purple – well at least this one…

Base ingredients – Greek Yoghurt (sometimes you have to check for Gluten), Milk and Fruit. I then add things like Chia seeds (An old house-mate now friend told me about this one), Honey, Golden Syrup – Maple if you have it and so prefer, Cinnamon, Chocolate, Almond Meal, nut meg would be great… pretty much anything… favourite fruits for an Emma Smoothie – mixed berry or mango… It’s so simple but so delicious and incredibly filling!

The BEST GF bread that I have found is from a cafe on my street – it actually folds, is fluffy, looks like break, isn’t like a brick, tastes amazing, etc… here is one of my sandwiches:

– Seed bread with Spinach, Egg, Olive Oil and Feta – sounds a little boring, but honestly tastes really great – and it’s the first time that I decided not to toast it… I can tell you that picking up a normal “boring” sandwich for the first time in a year felt absolutely incredible that I actually felt like my life had changed.

Some of my friends sometimes say to me when they talk about what they have for lunch “Oh just a boring sandwich” my response is “Oh if life were that simple” and I used to be one of those people who winged about having a sandwhich…and now am thrilled at the opportunity – mainly because this bread costs $7 a loaf and I don’t want to spend that much a week…so bread or at least this bread – is a treat… ha…bread as a treat…

Other favourites include – mozzarella on olive bread and strawberry jam on pumpkin bread – cos the pumpkin bread tastes like scones!! 🙂

Thoughts on packet mixes… you have to buy them cos otherwise there are just some things you miss out on like cinnamon donuts… which I crave ALL the time… here is the GF version (yes from a packet):

– It’s pretty easy once you get to the frying bit – but seriously these don’t taste (from memory) any different to the normal cinnamon donuts and next time I’m adding jam!

Treats from here and there:

– Macaroons from the Lindt Cafe – one on the left I can’t have, one on right – the Champagne one I can – yum. Macaroons though at a cafe at uni – I can have and all the flavours…

– Most of my food is now organic, not really by choice, but it’s much more affordable now and I’m getting really into it- this is as you can read from the label Organic Lemonade which was purchased from Hooked a healthy seafood place or fish n chips whichever – which is so far the only place I have found does GF fish n chips and even their burgers are GF too – it’s ALL great and doesn’t make you feel as though you clogged up with grease.

– I started drinking coffee last year when my Aunt and Uncle were here visiting from DC – cos of their love of coffee shops and ordering quickly especially on the road… I stopped asking if the Hot Chocs or the Chai Lattes were GF (I know I shouldnt…blah) and decided that coffee was easier…next to this beautiful Cafe Latte is a Cranberry and Hazelnut Meringue (I think it was Hazelnut…some nut anyway) – with something else inside which makes it cake like without being a cake…truly delicious… This cafe also has GF bread which means that most of their meals I can eat as long as I ask for the GF option… I love when this happens because I feel somewhat normal again.

Ah yes McDonald’s – It is on a rare occasion that I go there especially now, but when I do I either get the ice-cream or the hash-browns… there are other things I’m pretty sure I can eat, but as I’m there for a treat and not a meal – it’s not really that critical that I make sure I bring my own bread just so I can eat their cheeseburgers again. Now I know that this lid full of ice-cream looks somewhat dismal…it really isn’t because it’s great to be able to have a small pig-out…besides the cheeky raspberry lemonade that is hiding made it really worth the while.

Even those forced to be incredibly healthy in some respects need ice-cream from McDonald’s or Maccas as we say here in OZ…

There are so many moments when I crave bread, pasta, pizza, donuts and all of those yummy gluten laden foods and days when I want to cry because I can’t eat them…or am frustrated at a restaurant, etc…

But after a year of being diagnosed I think I’m doing pretty well and I have to say that I’m pretty fortunate to live in a suburb that has a bunch of cafes that caters for someone with intolerance, allergies and coeliacs…plus as it’s become more “mainstream” – supermarkets are now stocking things like Xanthum Gum and Quinoa which makes life easier and more affordable so I can buy shoes… 😀

Because really that’s all we need is a good pair of shoes or 20…

Nah but seriously the fact that I can eat bread that folds even if it’s occasionally is pretty damn good!

Lesson of the day or year I should day:

We are all capable of jumping over hurdles and breaking down walls. We are all strong enough to live with what we are faced with. We are all wise enough to call upon friends and family and we are all brave enough to be happy in discovering new things.

Crying isn’t a sign of weakness and neither is hope, it’s knowing that when you have hope you are incredibly strong.

Signing off because I really need to get something eat even it’s 11:00pm – because after talking about all this food I’ve become hungry – here’s to getting the most out what you can eat!!

Living life the Coeliac way…

I did not know what it actually meant to have Coeliac Disease when I was first diagnosed, like a lot of people I thought that Gluten meant that I couldn’t eat bread, pasta, cake, etc – things that simply didn’t have wheat…basically I did not know to what extent that would mean. It’s not as simple as cutting out bread. I was oblivious to the point that I ordered Chinese food the first night I was diagnosed… Gluten though is in pretty much everything. From bread to ice-cream. It included a lot of my favourite foods, my staples, snacks, etc. It meant that the majority of things I ate I had to check and make sure they didn’t have gluten. I thought it also meant – no chocolate. No chocolate – how would I cope in life without chocolate? How would I be going to a birthday party and not being able to eat the birthday cake? How would I be not being able to order take-away as readily? There were so many questions that I was now asking about my diet and also the possibilities of other illness/disease/problems… I had a list that quite possibly could have stretched across the land of America and back and I wouldn’t have known where to start. I packed up my worries and went to the doctor – she said forget the list and focus on the diet.

However, the diet had to begin on the Easter weekend 2011… I was going to my Grandparent’s farm with my Mum which normally I love, but this diet and things being closed – it was a weekend where I was as irritable as anything because I was hungry… so hungry I was snapping pencils in half the dining room… so hungry that I ended up having a one way argument with Mum – just because I needed to release my anger…before storming out of the house and sitting in the car for 20 mins…it was another one of my not so fine moments… most people who know me well would be glad to have not been there.

After a weekend of avoiding hot-cross-buns and anything that tasted good… I survived. Back in Melbourne… it was time to go shopping… Because this diet was still very new to me I was sticking with things that I were guaranteed gluten-free, so either fruit and vege or that had a label on it which clearly stated it had no gluten…

I couldn’t really live like this forever so I got the 4 ingredients GF version…tried out a few more recipes and thought that for a while I could keep it simple but having more variety…

I then started teaching rounds… and had to stay at a friend’s house because the school was too far from where I lived – but this was almost impossible because I sill didn’t know what I could eat for dinner. I prepared a whole bunch of things, took a bunch of GF marked food and took a whole bag full of food for the two weeks that I’d be staying there and thought this would be ok…um no. Instead on my second day of teaching rounds I came back to their house where I was expecting a roast for dinner and got a trip to the hospital… about five days later and no appendix on Mother’s Day I was out of hospital and off to Mum’s work where I walked in clutching my stomach (cos the docs told me to hold on to it) – I laughed because my mother is a mid-wife – and I was hobbling into to her to work place…holding my stomach, after already been scrutinised as to whether I was pregnant or not. Last year was soon known as the: lets see how many times I can be asked if I’m pregnant or not??? The answer is still: NO!

I went to stay with Mum for some TLC and came out deciding that I needed a new school…

For months I didn’t have one…but eventually was ok with that because it meant that I was finally able to have the time to sort out what this diet meant. I joined the Coeliac society, went to a few of their meetings…including the label reading one – which was GREAT because it meant that I learnt that in Australia – wheat, barely, etc was in bold and I found out that glucose and dextrose even if it came from wheat didn’t have gluten… I felt a new way of living was about to begin… and bought a new cookbook – so perfectly named the Gluten-Free bible, a bible for eating gluten-free eating! whoot…

The super-market finally didn’t feel like the most daunting place to go and my diet finally saw some variety. I got a new school which did mean having to do a 7 week block but also meant that it forced me to learn what it was like to be incredibly organised with food. I made, polenta marmalade cake plus a huge array of other gf baked goods and snacks, salads, curries, rice-paper rolls, gf pasta bakes, other gf pasta dishes, meat and vege, stir-fry, etc, etc, etc… I even started eating take-away food again and tried new restaurants that I never would have tried otherwise…

My food was ALL new, not just Gluten-Free, but fresh, organic, natural and most importantly full of variety… my family were still calling me and asking me how my diet was going but seriously it didn’t matter…

then Summer school rolled around and I got slack… and was also getting bored again… plus I had been to a friend’s wedding where my dessert was a plate of fruit and I left feeling hungry…I’m really grateful to them though to making sure I could actually eat and it’s not actually anyone’s fault…that, that was what was on offer…  I think though that not having a proper routine meant that I could just survive with things I had in the house and my job has me eating at other people’s houses which meant that I didn’t need to take my lunch where I went. I also discovered that uni (especially during summer) was the worst place to find gluten-free food!

Beginning the uni year I bought myself a new cookbook – called Indulge by Rowie Dillon – giving a fresh take to Gluten-Free food and it even has a whole entire section on GF flours and the science behind it…I now have a whole new range of flours…an am learning a whole new way of eating. Because the start of the year I felt almost as though I had to begin again, it was tough and hard and I think it finally sunk in what it meant.

I then received an email today which talked about the Coeliac Awareness Week in March! Which meant that I’m now supporting a cause that directly affects me – that’s usually not how it goes because I’m so used donating money or participating in an event that has to do with causes which I believe in but doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with me – except of course my interests.

Everyone!! I mean, everyone!!! Needs to be more aware of Coeliac Disease, what it means for people who live with it and also what it means when you have to cater for them in any capacity whether it be a uni/school cafeteria/tuckshop/cafe/etc, at a restaurant, at someone’s house, a party, a wedding…you name it.

Also people who are coeliacs or any food intolerance or allergy needs to realise that you’re diet doesn’t have to be restricting if you are open-minded and organised. But try to relax and still have those moments where you don’t do the cooking!

Lesson of the day:

We are all becoming more aware of what people have or are going through and it’s amazing to know there are people there to support you! 🙂

Signing off… I hope you all enjoyed your dinner!