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Gluten Free and Christmas time!

Christmas is the time of year that we eat, drink and be merry!

christmas tree

christmas tree (Photo credit: fsse8info)

Sadly, for those of us that are coeliac or gluten intolerant this presents a problem.So many of the traditional holiday time fare, is full of gluten. On the NO list are mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, gingerbread, Christmas cookies and biscuits-even the traditional turkey stuffing is a no-go.

When you are out at Christmas parties and end-of-year festivities, the usual finger food i.e. cocktail pies and pasties, mini quiche, samosas, arancini balls, crumbed fish bites,mini toast,finger sandwiches, cupcakes, mini creme puffs-all contain gluten, so you run the risk of over-indulging on drinks, while you watch everyone else eating! Don’t forget many beers, ciders and some spirits have gluten-stick to dry white wine, red wine or my favourite, champagne-or any type of bubbles really!

English: A neatly decorated Christmas cake.

English: A neatly decorated Christmas cake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What to do? Depending on where you live, there are now companies coming out with new gluten-free products every day. We have gluten-free Christmas cakes and mince pies appearing in supermarkets, and here in Adelaide we have a wonderful gluten-free shop run by Romeo’s Supermarkets in North Adelaide, that is a treasure trove of all things I can eat!

For those of you that prefer to make your own or don’t have access to any of the gluten-free treats, I have included below some of my favourite recipes for you to try.

Let me know how you go! Don’t forget to have a look at my new website: It is full of recipes, information, health tips and ideas for losing weight.


450g mixed dried fruit

50g glace cherries

225g unsalted butter (chopped into small bits)

250g caster sugar  & 200ml. cold water

2 large eggs (beaten)

pouring a little brandy into cake

Pouring a little brandy into cake

2tbsp. black treacle

290g gluten-free flour                                                                           1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1.5 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp xanthan gum (this keeps it moist and tasting like a cake!)

2 tsp mixed spice (gluten free!)

Method: Place dried fruit, glace cherries, butter, caster sugar and water into a stainless steel pan and bring to the boil while stirring. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put the lid on and set aside until cold.

Preheat oven to 180C. Use a 23 cm round spring-form cake tin ( approximately 8 cm deep).Line well with a layer of baking paper,brush with melted butter and dust with gluten-free flour. Put the cold fruit mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the 2 large beaten eggs.Add black treacle,flour,bicarb. soda,cream of tartar,xanthan gum, and mixed spice and mix well. Spoon into your prepared greased and floured baking tin.

Tip: Before placing in the oven, when you have your mix in the cake tin, hold it at about knee height and drop the cake tin carefully onto the floor several times. This removes any air bubbles and you don’t have holes in your cake!

Bake until well risen and brown, about 1 hour. Resist the temptation to open the door and check as the cake will sink in the middle. Remove and cool on wire rack. the cake will keep beautifully for up to a week if you wrap it in foil.

Tip: When almost cold, use a fine metal skewer and carefully put fine holes over the top of the cake almost through to the bottom. then carefully pour 2 tablespoons of brandy over the top of the cake. This will improve the taste!

P.S. If you ice your cake, make sure your icing sugar or mix, doesn’t contain flour-most of them do!


Related articles

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Further down the Gluten Free Path

A variety of foods made from wheat.

A variety of foods made from wheat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sitting in my specialists office and looking at the list of foods I was no longer allowed to eat was certainly a sobering moment. I am sure that you have all felt this way at some time “Why me?”

The interesting thing that I quickly discovered is that we become experts at reading food labels. You can almost pick the fellow sufferers by the way that they shop. Walk down the aisle, pick up the item, price and brand is irrelevant, turn over to find the list of ingredients, quickly scan, no, something there I can’t have. Replace item on shelf, repeat above steps until you find one you CAN have.

What has really been an eye-opener, is the amount of food items that do contain gluten that you would never suspect.

As I was no longer allowed to drink fruit juice ( fructose concentration and sugar content too high), I switched to drinking bottled iced teas. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that 90% have gluten added.

To TEA-what the……?

Of course the reality is that gluten is used commercially as “filler” or “extender” which just means that it is a cheap way to extend the product and make more money for the manufacturer.

So the lesson is READ THE INGREDIENTS LABEL even if you would never consider that this product would ever have gluten naturally-beware the added “extender”. So back to my iced teas. Only one flavour has no gluten-all the others of the same brand do, but at least there is one!


Ritalin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another really scarey problem is with the gluten and lactose “hidden” content in both prescription and over-the-counter medication.

Look at the medication that you are taking or have been prescribed. After a recent bout in hospital a fellow patient had some pain killers prescribed for him. He was also gluten intolerant but never thought to check the ingredients on the medication-he thought the hospital would know. When he had a severe reaction to the painkillers it turned out that the original branded medication, prescribed by his doctor, had no gluten, where the unbranded tablets, which the hospital had substituted, certainly did. Even the hospital was surprised-and we are talking about common painkillers which are available over-the-counter from the chemist.

An incident I will always remember, was when my son, who was severely lactose intolerant, was prescribed a children’s sedative, as a small toddler, for his fever and joint pains. One dose of this medicine and he was literally trying to climb the walls in his cot. He was completely hyperactive and delirious with pain from the medication. When I read the VERY small print on the bottle, sure enough it contained lactose.This approved children’s medicine is readily available today, with no warnings on the label.

The bigger issue is that lactose is used on nearly all capsules and tablets, to give that nice smooth finish-to make it easier for the tablet to slide down. Some manufacturers use gluten to do the same job.

The take-home message:

  • Check your medications
  • Don’t tick the medication substitute box-yes it may be cheaper, but the chances are 99.9% that it will contain gluten or lactose or both-that is why it is cheaper.
  • Don’t only read the label. Some manufacturers don’t have anything about gluten or lactose on the label but it is usually hidden in small print on the printed sheet inside the box.
  • If there is no information ask-your doctor or your chemist-it is their job to keep you healthy-not make you worse!


Just Gluten Free cardThis is a delightful shop I have just discovered.

Full of wonderful things to eat and also a well stocked freezer with frozen pasta, rolled pastry sheets and cases for those of us that like to make our own.

They also have a selection of  amazing breads, that are baked by hand on the premises and they will give you samples to try before you buy.

My personal favourite program to follow is the Gabriel Method.

If you have never heard of Jon Gabriel, his story of surviving the 9/11 attacks in America and his amazing journey of transformation is truly inspiring. I look at his “before” photos and think ” if he can achieve that-I can achieve my goals”

His strong message is: Change begins in the mind-once you have the mind sorted out, everything else will follow naturally.

Have a look at his site, even if it is to read his amazing story-it is well worth the read.

Jon doesn’t believe in “diets” as this is based on denial and restrictions. His program is more about additions and what you can eat.

He is also very strong on mind visualization and this certainly helps to overcome that momentary weakness that we all have from time to time, when faced with our favourite dessert or a bakery shop that looks like heaven!

He has a book you can order online, which is worth reading, but there is a complete program if you want to really focus on his methods, and he conducts retreats and 3 day workshops all over Australia.

He now lives in Australia and all his methods are based completely on what he did to transform himself.

Although he doesn’t market his program as gluten free-that is in essence what it is, as he worked out from his own problems what was making him unwell and overweight.

Image 5Image 4

This is a resource I found by accident while looking for some answers about gluten. It is a little different in that there are online resources and also MP3 audio files that you can listen to while you are driving etc. The little book above is invaluable to give to friends and family who insist on inviting you over for dinner and then saying things like:

“Oh I know that there is a little gluten in the gravy ( or sauce or cake or pie etc.) but a little bit’s not going to hurt you”

You can give them this book and when they understand that you are not just being difficult or a little bit does matter,makes life a whole lot easier. I went through a stage where I really dreaded going to eat at other people’s places as I felt they were looking at me and thinking, she is just being difficult or it’s just a fad.

This book explains all this and the website also has a wealth of information from the author, who like me has been on a journey of discovery since being diagnosed as a celiac.

There are also a lot of free information articles and audio articles that you can download to add to you knowledge bank.

Still to come: Paleo diets, Yoga and pilates and lots of recipes.

My journey into Celiac diagnosis

Wheat is the third most produced cereal crop

Wheat is the third most produced cereal crop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the story of my experiences, symptoms, uncertainty and eventual diagnosis as a Coeliac.

I offer this as a starting point for those who have recently come to this select group ( 1 in 100 in Australia-so not that exclusive!)

As well as my story, it is a collection of books, magazines, organisations, on-line help, resources, some free and some you will need to pay for.

I do not suggest that any or all is better than any other, but it is merely a collection of things I have found along the way that have been helpful. Some I wish I had discovered earlier, but that is life, and we do the best with the information we have at hand at the time.

My journey down this path started as a child, when like many schoolchildren in primary school during the 1950’s, we were encouraged (read forced, as those of you who went through this daily ritual will understand) to drink a small bottle of milk each morning. The “milk monitors” brought the crates of milk next to our classroom, and we all filed out and were watched to make sure we had drunk every last drop. Usually the crates of little bottles of milk had been sitting in the sun, and so had thick cream-like substance on the top, once you peeled back the foil tops. Every morning we had to drink this little bottle, and every morning I threw up. What a wonderful way to start each day-something to really look forward to!

This was of course implemented by the Government of the day, to make up for all the deficiencies South Australian children were suffering due to the shortages and rationing during the war years. Seemed like a logical and medically sound idea. It also just happened to solve the problem of oversupply of milk in the dairy industry at the time, so a win-win for all concerned.

Except of course if you happened to be lactose intolerant, which they hadn’t actually discovered at this stage, so no amount of pleading or letters from parents could escape the dreaded bottle of milk.

Now, of course, they know better, so I and many others like me, battled our way through this period in our schooldays, longing for high school and the end of the milk torture.

I did not medically discover my intolerance until my son was born severely lactose intolerant and was placed on a special formula. I was tested as well, and all of my previous issues with milk and dairy foods suddenly were explained. I had never drunk milk, after the school-days fiasco and the smell actually turned my stomach, so I had virtually eliminated most dairy products without knowing why. Yoghurt I liked, as long as they were not sweet and had fruit in them to improve the taste.

I had also, as a child, decided that I did not like what bread did to me, as it usually made my stomach bloat up. Through the teenage years, the last thing that you want is to look fat in the stomach-doesn’t go well with bikinis. So I had eliminated this from my diet as well.

After problems during my pregnancies, including miscarriages, I found I could not loose weight and I was looking as though I was 9 months pregnant all the time.

My doctor put me on a diet which was basically water crackers, cheese,yoghurt, large quantities of fruit, vegetables and lots of healthy wholegrain bread as well as meat and fish.

Not only did it make me worse, I actually put on weight and was more bloated than ever.

Now I know that the gluten, lactose and fructose was destroying my internals, but at the time it seemed a logical path to take.

The problem with gluten intolerance is that the symptoms vary so much from person to person that it is difficult to pin point that this is the cause. The testing is improving all the time, so that is helping, but you do need a doctor who is understanding and doesn’t tell you that it is all in your head.

So many other fellow coeliac sufferers have been diagnosed with depression and given anti depression medication.

“It’s all in your head” is a common diagnosis, so it is a relief for many sufferers to be finally told they have a medical problem, and it has a name. Of course we now know that depression is only one of the diseases caused by  gluten intolerance, others being osteoporosis and calcium deficiencies, iron deficiencies, and weight loss or weight gain, depending on how your individual body reacts to the enemy gluten.

This is because the gluten causes a severe allergic reaction in the small intestine and causes the finger-like projections ( the villi) to atrophy and die. Their job is to catch the nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food before it is passed into the bowel, but with gluten intolerance they actually lie down in the intestine, as they are dying, instead of standing up. This means no vital vitamins and minerals are absorbed and so deficiencies are the result.

It also means that food passes into the bowel with a lot of undigested material and this causes the bloating, wind, and sometimes terrible pain.

Biopsy of small bowel showing coeliac disease ...

Biopsy of small bowel showing coeliac disease manifested by blunting of villi, crypt hyperplasia, and lymphocyte infiltration of crypts, consistent with Marsh classification III. Released into public domain on permission of patient. — Samir धर्म 11:23, 13 August 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other symptoms to watch out for are :

  • a lack of energy after eating , feeling very tired.
  • Irritability after eating
  • a foggy mind-unable to concentrate
  • headache-usually 30 minutes or 1 hour after eating
  • numbness or tingling in your extremities
  • joint pain
  • diarrhea, wind, gas,stomach pain, which can be excruciating and feel like appendicitis
  • heartburn-which can be so severe that symptoms mimic a heart attack.
  • depression, mood changes
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • rashes or eczema
  • strong stomach cramps during menstrual periods or irregular periods

Of course not everyone will experience all of these symptoms and the degree of suffering will vary from person to person.

I will add periodically to this story with how my diagnosis progressed and also useful resources to aid in your journey.

I will also add anything new that I find that I think may be useful to others.


A wonderful sight with lots of tips,ideas, information, latest research and recipes as well as places to buy gluten free food from all over Australia  and where to eat out without worrying.

  The Gluten Free Bible

I wish I had found this sooner, as it is written by a someone who has made the journey and gives valuable first hand tips and information.

Amazing recipes that actually taste good. I defy “ordinary” people to know these are gluten free.

Lots of other recipe books and diet tips.

Worth having a look at, especially for those who put on weight because of gluten intolerance.


Send for this free e-book  to start you on your journey to better health and weight loss.*

Hints and general tips for gluten free eating and cooking.

Send me an email and I will send you the FREE e-book for you to download.

Send your email with the subject line “Free e-book”  to:

*If you sent a request through the previous order form, please resend to the above email address. Unfortunately previous requests on that form did not register and will not be processed.

More to come: Paleo diets, The Jon Gabriel Method ( my personal favourite)

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