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Being coeliac doesn’t mean food should be tasteless
Written by Hazel. Saturday, February 25th, 2012
My life with the phrase “special diet” started as far back as I can remember, having been brought up with a family of diabetics on low sugar diets and all meals having to fit in to a routine no matter where you are. We constantly heard “Oh it’s you on the special diet is it?” At that time we had no coeliacs on a gluten free diet. We hadn’t even heard of it!
I just have to love this phrase “Oh it’s you on the special diet.”
I love it because we are special, because we cope and adapt to get the best out of our diets.
I am Hazel, better known to many as “Fullymum” and I am a coeliac and have been since diagnosed back in 2003.
When I was diagnosed many did still not know coeliac disease, it was confused with the F-plan diet and “low carb” crazes. It was a diet that many thought I was following to lose weight.
Food wasn’t easily available, supermarkets didn’t stock bread and cakes and the only way to get the crumbly hard heavy loaves were through the pharmacy.
I was told by my dietician “you can no longer eat bread, cakes, pasta and cereal but eat plenty of fruit and vegetables with some meat, fish and dairy, and then the golden rules-
- Food shouldn’t be boring or tasteless, and
- Grow your own”.
Most coeliacs suddenly cook, bake and become good at it. They find ways to adapt recipes to suit the diet. From experience I find some great ideas and amazing meals are cooked by coeliacs or people on these special diets.
I now enjoy cooking but as for gardening I have always from a very early age grown plants and flowers and I have been lucky to be brought up with access to a garden, so when I was faced with cooking lots of fresh foods the obvious was to grow my own.
I needed space, greenhouse, patience and love and I was lucky because I had them. I had a garden with fruit trees and enough space to dig a patch big enough to grow vegetables. I started with herbs for flavour then salad leaves progressing through the years to roots, Alliums, Brassicas and Legumes and more recently to soft fruit canes. Each year I set myself a challenge of growing something different, the latest being sweet potatoes.
Gardeners need to be patient enough to practise, as not all years are the same. One has to be prepared for crop failure due to climate or disease but on the brighter side come late summer you are picking your crops in abundance and the freezing and cooking duties take over.
Besides eating fresh, I grow tomatoes for puree, chutneys, soup and sauce
I grow beetroot, courgettes and sweet potato for baking in cakes.
I grow pears, apples, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries for jams, tarts, and pies.
And of course the herbs are grown to use both fresh, and dried to add to root vegetables grown for stews casseroles and soups.
At the end of the season when my freezer is well stocked I look back at the cost and find the outlay is considerably less for me to grow all these vegetables and fruit full of vitamins and taste. Being true Yorkshire lass I hate to see one cauliflower costing more than a packet of seeds.
My personal advice to any new coeliac with an interest in gardening is to start on a small scale even if it is in pots, tubs or grow bags or miniature plastic greenhouse/cloches and to start with salad vegetables and herbs.
Trial and error in the garden is the same as trial and error in our diets. I promise you that your cooking will become extra special; just remember we are on a special diet for special people that needs that extra special love.
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