Where to find gluten-free love in lockdown this Valentine's
If you're anything like me, you'll want a quick and easy Valentine's menu without having to search for ages in the shops for something delicious.
So I've analysed 3 lockdown options for you - the supermarket meal deal, takeaway and cooking from scratch (but with a twist!).
Option 1 - the M&S meal deal
At first glance, the M&S meal deal leaves a lot to be desired for coeliacs. Worse, their website doesn't seem to show ingredients or allergens, which means you'll need to go into the store to scour the backs of the packs.
That said, as long as you're happy with something you can eat (rather than a choice) then you should be ok. You just have to employ a spot of cheating.
Last Sunday most of the mains had pasta or pastry, so I was left with chicken in red wine. The sides were similarly annoying - even the glazed carrots had gluten in! However, the pea, spinach, spring greens & samphire looked tempting. But then...
No puddings for coeliacs! (I don't count cheese.)
Saddened, I went to the till and asked if I could have a panna cotta pudding from their 'normal' range instead. And you know what? They said yes! So I came away with a pretty decent meal for a tenner, bulked out by some new potatoes for 47p. That's not bad.
What's on offer this Valentine's: really, M&S needs to sort its website out for those of us who need to avoid allergens as I couldn't find a search button for gluten-free options. It's not exactly user-friendly.
But! After taking to Twitter, M&S sent me a DM with a breakdown of what's gluten-free:
So basically, as long as you're a meat eater you've got 3 mains & 3 starters to choose from. Although there's a meat-free starter, it's no good for the vegetarians since they can't choose a main. Once again the sides are greens only - nothing more substantial such as potato. Pudding still leaves a lot to be desired - I mean, fruit or jelly?! (Again, cheese doesn't count. That's a fourth course for me.)
Verdict: For a meal where all you have to do is turn an oven on and pop a side dish in a microwave, it's extremely convenient. Taste-wise, my food on Sunday was pretty good for a ready meal, but not as great as cooking from scratch. The (cheat) pudding was a knockout. But the lack of choice and inability to look up gluten-free food online is tedious.
Option 2 - Mindful Chef
Am I pleased I found these guys! They've got so much to offer for their Valentine's menu and it all comes at the click of a button, arriving on your doorstep or popped into your safe place. What's more, everything is gluten-free. Choose from 7 different menus including harissa-spiced prawns, sirloin with truffled mushrooms and butter bean thai curry (vegan).
Since you'll be doing the cooking from scratch, you'll need to put a bit of effort in. That said, everything is measured out and prepared for you so you won't have to go further than your salt and pepper mills for assistance.
Every single meal I've had from Mindful Chef has been utterly delicious. Their recipes are inventive, easy to follow and utterly delicious. They've inspired my cooking in so many ways. I can't praise them enough.
Verdict: since you can't get to a restaurant in the UK this Sunday, this is the next best option, and it's a wonderful way to show your partner/family how much you love them. Plus, I guarantee everyone will want you to make the meal again. And again.
Option 3 - takeaway curry & supermarket combo
If you don't fancy proper cooking but want a curry with all the trimmings, there's an easy way round it, but it's a bit of a faff. You'll need either to order online or go to the supermarket to get a couple of gluten-free naans, then order from your local curry house the main curry and rice. While you're waiting for your order, pop the naans into the oven (and don't forget about them - that annoyingly loud oven timer's there for a reason).
Verdict: curry's always a winner, in my opinion, and making sure you've got the naan as well as the rice is a wonderful bonus. But it's always annoying having to go to 2 places to get your food, so the star rating reflects this.
Which option will you try for this Valentine's? Make sure you send me your pics on Facebook!