Being Assertive

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I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn with being coeliac is simply being assertive. I hate asking for things from people, or feeling like I’m being too demanding/fussy/high maintenance. But I soon had to get over that!

When I tried eating out, I’d tip toe around my needs and sort of quietly mumble that I couldn’t eat gluten. When first getting used to it all, I ordered a soup without the bread, saying I couldn’t eat bread. It came with toasted bread sprinkled on top. My shy, confused self back then just picked them out and ate the soup. BAD move. I think the soup was probably made with stock that had gluten in too so the day after that lunch was no fun. The problem was I hadn’t been clear about my needs to begin with and had lacked the confidence in myself to challenge the illogical idea of sprinkled toasted bread in someone’s soup who couldn’t eat bread.

Friends pointed out to me the gravity of such situations. The fact is your putting your health at risk if your not assertive about what you need, this goes for communicating with cafes, friends, family and anyone who you will be eating with. I know its difficult because food is such a social, uniting part of life, and as coeliacs we will often be the odd one out on these occasions. But as long as everyone knows exactly what it is we need then all will run smoothly. Now, though, I stick to eating in or only eating out at places I know for sure are gluten free savvy and I’m sure to debrief friends before eating at their houses.

I feel like a right pain in the arse when I watch over friends shoulder’s like a hawk when they cook for me. And the whole thing can be pretty awkward – I had one amazing friend who baked me gluten free bread to cheer me up when I was getting down about it all, before eating it I thought to check (and felt rude asking) “You didn’t put baking powder in this did you?” to which her face fell and she nodded as we both groaned. She felt guilty for not thinking, I felt guilty that half a teaspoon of baking powder could make all her hard work pointless. But its all a learning curve and lucky for me she baked me another loaf without it in, which was much appreciated (and also delicious).

Always check with whoever is cooking for you that there’s no risk of cross-contamination, check every ingredient that’s going into your food and make sure they know all the basics of cooking for coeliacs (plastic chopping boards and utensils rather than wooden, wiped down surfaces and under no circumstances using anything that has been into contact with gluten!). It’s rubbish feeling like such a nuisance but the fact is, people are there to support you and we just need to make sure they have all the knowledge they need to do it right.

One friend told me when I was worried “Well you kinda are high maintenance to cook for, but its not your fault and we love you anyway”

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BBQ skewers

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The sun is starting to shine again and its that time of year to whack out the BBQ’s for lazy days at the beach (when all essays are completed of course…or kind of started that is, you know with the title written)

The first time I was invited to a big BBQ I felt really left out, all the burgers and sausages (vegetarian and meat) that were being cooked had gluten in so even if I’d brought my own food there was no room on the BBQ for a gluten free section. And of course everyone was filling bread rolls full of salad, I winced as I watched hands and cutlery go from bread to salad bowl to bread, crumbs EVERYWHERE, meaning even the salad was a no go! But this time round I grabbed my friends Olivia and Danny who lived with me when I was diagnosed so are well trained in accommodating my gluten free needs and we got the BBQ going as I learnt gluten free BBQ’s are just as good.

I’ve never had prawns before, they freak me out and I can’t stop thinking about the cute little prawn in ‘A shark’s Tale’ begging not to be eaten. But I was persuaded to give ’em a go and I have to admit, they were kind of tasty (sorry prawns). We marinaded them – lime juice in a little bowl with grated ginger root, crushed garlic and finely cut chilli.

But I felt much more comfortable with some trusty vegetables which didn’t have a weird looking spine thing and eyes. So we made plenty of vegetable skewers, marinaded in sesame oil, salt, lemon juice and honey.

Also we put some tin foil on the BBQ and cooked up some tuna steak. splash on some Tamari gluten free soy sauce, sprinkle a little handful of chopped spring onions and lime juice, sesame oil and garlic make for pretty good accompaniments too.

All this along with some olives to snack on, a fresh salad and a bag of popcorn made for a very filling picnic.

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My top 5 Gluten-free Cupboard Essentials

#1

Bouillon instant stock
Bouillon instant stock

Great to add to soups, when cooking rice, steaming veg, roasting veg. Gives a good flavour to whatever your cooking.

#2

Tamari soy sauce
Tamari soy sauce

Soy sauce is a sneaky little thing, its often not suspected by non-coeliacs as containing the enemy. So here’s a great soy sauce that you can enjoy. It tastes yummy sprinkled on toasted sunflower seeds.

#3

Tahini
Tahini

A paste made from ground sesame seeds this is essential for making home-made hummus and is an excellent spread for rice cakes. Most importantly it is a great source of calcium, something coeliacs need to be sure we’re getting enough off as we have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. It is also a good source of protein and is easy to digest.

#4

Turmeric
Turmeric

Add this nutritious spice to soups, curries or add a pinch to egg salad. It has a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and studies show it can be used in a variety of cases medicinally.

#5

Ginger
Ginger

Added to stir fry with lemon juice creates a tangy flavour, put in smoothies or slice it up, pop it in a cup and pour over some boiling water for some fresh ginger tea. Ginger tea assists digestion, helps improve the immune system and soothes tummy ache. Its great for cleansing.

Veg spaghetti and sauce

A lot of people have recommended going grain free to repair the gut. This was my first experiment with a grain free, gluten free and dairy free recipe.

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Carrot
Courgette
Onions
Garlic
Passata
Herbs
Fresh greens or curly kale
Mushrooms
Butterbeans
Pepper
Plum tomatoes
Pumpkin seeds

Add or take away any veg you like, its all down to personal preference.

Chop up the onions and fry in olive oil. Add chopped pepper and plum tomatoes. Next comes the mushrooms and once this has all been stirred and cooked for a bit and the veg is nice and soft, add passata. Add in some crushed garlic (I find adding it at the end gives more flavour but if you prefer, add it in at the beginning with the onions). Add herbs. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about ten/fifteen mins. Chuck in some butterbeans and leave for enough time to heat them up then your good to go.

I used a peeler to get long strips of courgette and carrot which I then steamed for about five minutes, but again depending how you like your veg, steam for longer or less time. (Also I actually don’t own a steamer at the minute so just put a bit of boiling water at the bottom of a normal pan with the veg in and a lid on it) Add a bit of Bouillion or veg stock if you want some extra flavour.

Steam the Curly kale/fresh greens.

Sprinkle over some pumpkin seeds at the end, or sesame, hemp, linseed – or go crazy and add ’em all!