Anyonita Nibbles Gluten FreeWritten by: Anyonita Green
I dream in patisserie. In just about every single dream I have, I'm usually accompanied by some form of pastry, either in my hand or nearby on a table or shelf. Since 2011, I've been cultivating dreams of becoming a patisserie chef, and I've been on a self-taught patisserie creation binge, trying to replicate all of the stunning desserts I see.
In early 2014, I thought my dream would never be a reality. I was diagnosed with pregnancy-triggered Coeliac Disease. Since then, my life has become a whirlwind of unconventional flours and checking the ingredients on products at the grocery store for allergens. It means being the awkward dinner party guest who can't have the bread and wants to know if you thickened the sauce with flour or stirred the dish with a wooden spoon.
I had suspected I had Coeliac Disease or a Gluten Intolerance for a while before I finally got the courage to face up to it. For years, I had invested time and effort into learning everything I could about patisserie and then suddenly, the tiniest bite of cake or pastry made me nauseous, at best. It was betrayal and I dealt with it by being in denial.
For months, I continued to abuse my body with gluten until finally, one evening after my Last Gluten Supper (the biggest French baguette I could find stuffed with medium rare steak slices, topped with cheese and onions and grilled to perfection), I realized I couldn't face it any longer. Being ill was just not worth it. After each consumption of gluten, I felt as if my body was on a battlefield. I was exhausted from trying to digest the sticky gluten. I was ill: feverish, nauseous and alternating between struggling to keep food down and in. So I wiped my hands of gluten.
But I didn't want to give up the foods I love. Bread has always been a huge part of my life and pastry (mostly filled with gluten) is a huge component of patisserie. So instead, I'm making gluten free lemonade out of these lemons life has given me and I'm on a one-woman mission to prove that life without the gluten doesn't mean life without flavor or life without your favorite foods.
I've been taking a more unconventional approach to my Coeliac Disease with positive results. I eat better, yes. I avoid gluten at all costs and I feel better, too. But I still eat the types of things that used to make me ill; I just do them differently now! I invite you to join me on my journey to living a completely gluten free existence. It's not always easy, but if gluten makes you ill, it's better than the alternative.
I've heard of Celiac Disease but what is Coeliac Disease?
Celiac Disease and Coeliac Disease are the same disorder. Coeliac is how the British spell it and since I live in the UK & had my diagnosis here, it's what I'm used to seeing & it's what stuck. I tend to use the spelling interchangably, though.
What types of gluten free flours do you use?
I've been having so much fun discovering these new flours! I tend to use rice flour for pretty much everything. I'm more into sweet white rice flour and don't purchase much of the brown rice flour. I've also just discovered besan or chickpea flour and love it, too! It's perfect for savory dishes. Other gluten free flours in my larder are: chestnut flour, almond flour, tapioca flour/starch, potato flour, corn flour/starch and gluten free variants of bread flour, plain or all-purpose flour and self raising or self rising flour.
No gluten free pantry would be complete without potato starch, xanthan gum, agar agar and gluten free baking powder.
Isn't there a cure for Coeliac Disease?
No. The best medical advice offered to Coeliacs is to simply not eat gluten. Easier said than done, of course!
I think I might have Coeliac Disease or a Gluten Intolerance! What should I do?
First and foremost, you should seek medical guidance. You can find out a lot about Coeliac Disease online and in books and magazines, but this shouldn't take the place of having a chat with your medical professional just to rule out any other issues.
You'll find that in order to test conclusively for Coeliac Disease, you'll need to spend about two weeks eating gluten so that you have enough in your system to take a test. If you're like I was, the thought of spending two weeks being absolutely miserable wasn't appealing! If you give up gluten for a week and notice an improvement in your symptoms and a sustained improvement if you continue to give it up, report this back to your medical professional. This evidence is sometimes enough for a clear diagnosis without putting your body through the stress of handling gluten.
What one tip do you have for new diagnosees?
Gluten is in everything. Check the labels of all the processed food you eat. And educate yourself on the different types of gluten, for instance, you may be like me: I can't cope with wheat gluten, but oat gluten doesn't bother me. Be prepared for a complete life upheaval and go ahead and toss out those old wooden spoons that may have come in contact with gluten; if you're super sensitive, the traces of gluten they sometimes contain can make you feel bad.
Get used to thinking about unconventional places where you might find gluten lurking: in lipstick, toothpaste and ice cream, just to name a few.
Where can I find good gluten free recipes?
I'm so glad you asked! Here: