11 essential foods for newly diagnosed coeliacs
Just got your coeliac diagnosis? Wondering what you'll ever eat again?
I remember feeling like that. No pizza, no pasta, no biscuits, no cake, no bread, no pies... This was my staple diet. What on earth was left?!
But then I thought about hunting. (Yes, hunting.)
At that time, it had just become all the rage to follow the 'hunter-gatherer' diet - i.e. only eat foods you could stalk or pull from the ground. And that pretty much meant gluten-free.
So that's what I did (but in the supermarket, not with a rifle and spade).
I filled up in the fruit and veg aisle, placed some fresh fish in my basket and then hurried past the bakery.
And as long as I wasn't hungry, I was happy.
But it did take a lot of effort not to go hungry. At the time, there was very little help. It wasn't the law to have allergen information on food packets. The internet was very new (and pretty useless) and the dietitian I was assigned was worse than the internet.
So here I've listed my top foods that are not only naturally gluten-free but inexpensive and last for weeks. Stock up and enjoy making life just that little bit easier.
Foods to have in your house at all times (even if you have housemates that half inch)
Sweetcorn Tasty carbs that add fibre to your day...what more do you need? Whether you boil them, sprinkle them in a salad or eat them out of the tin with a fork (hey, no judgement), they're a colourful addition that bring sunshine to your plate, even if it's grey outside.
Butternut squash With a tough exterior, these versatile bad boys are great for roasting, frying, boiling and mashing. My favourite way to cook them? Peel and dice, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 190 degrees C. (No oil needed. Trust me.)
Old El Paso soft gluten-free tortillas These are SO good. No, really. Up until recently, soft gluten-free tortillas were about as easy to find as a pair of weights in April. Fill with falafel (see no.5), tuna (see no.4) or an abundance of goodies (see no.10).
Canned tuna Try the springwater ones for less salt and no added oil. A great protein hit, it makes a quick and easy filling for a jacket potato, sandwich or tortilla.
Gosh! falafels My, was I pleased when I saw these on the shelf. Just 20 minutes in the oven and they're good to go. I love them crumbled into salad, wrapped up in a tortilla (see no.3) or on a plate of rice with a spicy sauce drizzled on top. They're also vegan, which is handy if you're trying to cut down on meat.
Chickpeas There was a time when I really didn't know what to do with a chickpea except put it in houmous (and to be honest, I didn't really do that, either). But now I realise how wonderful they can be - you can add them to chilis, dals, mix them into a salad or roll them into falafels (that is if you're not buying no.5). Heck, you can even use the juice and make meringues (more on that another time). Just promise me you'll try them.
Pesto A teaspoon mixed into cream cheese or a drizzle on top of a salad - you don't need much to take a meal from bland to exciting. The only thing I'd recommend is wiping the lid every time you use it. (Seriously. Otherwise the resulting mould is pretty gross.)
Brown rice Not a fan? Nor was I until I tried it in a kedgeree. Then I started to embrace its texture and the fact it offered a lot more fibre than its white counterpart. It's worth a go. And another. And another. If you have more than three failed attempts at liking it, perhaps it's not for you. But never say never.
Eggs The good old omelette is a great fallback if you're hungry and there doesn't seem to be anything substantial in the house. There are usually a few titbits left in the fridge that can go in - half a tomato, a lone mushroom and a couple of new potatoes. Add a dash of pepper and some chopped parsley and you've got a veritable feast!
Quark No, I don't know how to pronouce it, either. And if you also don't know where to find it, head for the cream cheese and it'll be close by. Not only is quark full of protein but it's lower in calories than many Greek yogurts, just as creamy, and has a wonderful tangy taste. I love mixing it with tuna, sweetcorn, pesto and tomatoes to make a great sandwich filling. Or for tortillas (see no.3).
Alpro soya puddings If you've also got other dietary requirements (no egg, dairy etc...) then these are a go-to treat. The dark chocolate ones are my favourite but I've been known to dabble with caramel, too. They're especially good if you have small children and want a quick pudding but can't be faffed with making a custard. Slice some banana on top or add to a gluten-free sponge for a cold winter's day.
And if you're still wondering about those housemates, get yourself some magnet locks. They're well worth the hassle of fitting to a cupboard door.
Have you got anything else you'd add to this list? Do share your thoughts below!