Chambelland: The 100% Gluten Free Bakery in Paris

France is world-famous for artisan patisseries and boulangeries, which can be off putting if you can’t tolerate gluten. But luckily there is a fantastic gluten free bakery in the heart of Paris to cater for our needs. All the flours used are naturally gluten free and ground in the chambelland mill, ensuring that they are 100% gluten free and safe for coeliacs.

This vibrant bakery in the centre of Paris is the perfect place for a grab and go lunch/breakfast or a sit down meal. The breads, pastries and cakes are all made using naturally gluten free flours which produce baked goods that can be appreciated by everyone, not just coeliacs and gluten free folk.

That’s what’s so special about Chambellands, it feels like a “normal” busy café in Paris and the bakery is so good that anyone can enjoy it. One of the challenges being gluten free is it can often feel a bit like you’re the odd one out so it’s a rarity to have an exclusively gluten free place that is buzzing with customers.

There’s a set menu for the breakfast and lunch, reasonably priced. So for lunch it’s €12 to eat in and €8 to take away. That includes a sandwich, dessert and drink. When my friend and I went we noticed there was a meat option, fish option and vegetarian option. She had a haddock and cream cheese sandwich and I had an avocado, rocket, blueberry and basil houmous sandwich. I thought this was an interesting mix for the filling which worked really well.

The bread is a great consistency, it’s by far the best gluten free bread I’ve had and I think that’s because it’s not trying to be like “normal” bread, it’s a type of bread in its own right. A lot of gluten free products end up falling to pieces with a crumbly texture because the manufacturers are trying to copy and replace products with gluten rather than being confident enough to start from scratch with a new way of baking gluten free. For dessert my friend had a cheese cake and I had a strawberry tart, both of which were impeccable and delicious. She eats gluten but described the cheese cake as one of the best ones she’s ever eaten.

The staff are lovely, they give really good customer service and manage well with the constant flow of people coming in and out over the lunch period. The décor is homely, I’d describe it as retro cafeteria chic. Chambellands also produces flour to sell, bread to take home, cakes to order for special occasions and some great recipe books focused on gluten free cooking.

This place is quite simply, perfect. It was an absolute pleasure to find somewhere that made me feel just like everyone else enjoying their patisseries and fresh bread in Parisian bakeries. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Paris.

 

Chambelland

14 Rue Ternaux

75011 Paris

01 43 55 07 30

chambelland.com

 

Gluten Free WOOFing in La Réunion

Planting
Planting

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being a coeliac (and also vegetarian) does not need to hold you back when travelling! Yes, it presents its own unique challenges and is not always easy but hey, isn’t that what life’s all about, learning new lessons and adaptation management skills?!

In fact, one of my hosts said something which made me very happy. I was saying that I felt like a difficult guest and she simply said “But eating without gluten really isn’t that hard, you eat plenty of vegetables and rice, potatoes and fruit, lentils and beans. It’s not difficult.” I think my shoulders sank about 3 inches down from being bunched up close to my ears with the tension of worrying I was “difficult”.

So to kick start 2015 I went WOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) at a beautiful organic farm in the south of La Réunion. With WOOFing, volunteers exchange their time to work for food and board. I slept in a cabin in the woods with hedgehogs burrowing about in the bushes, all different coloured birds singing in the morning and endless rows of palm trees offering shade from the sun.

For me, one of the best ways to get to know a new place is to work with the land, live with the locals and share meals together. This is why I absolutely love WOOFing, it has got to be one of the best ways to travel. It is a mutually beneficial exchange where everyone involved prioritises people and planet above profit.

There is a lot to learn and each farm has its own unique way of doing things, depending on the environment, climate and soil. At the farm in La Réunion we planted palm trees to harvest the core of the trunk which can be eaten in salads. Before staying with the farm I had only eaten “coeur de palmiste” from cans which were nothing in comparison to the real thing, fresh from the ground.

When potting up the very beginnings of the palm trees, I felt grateful to be a part of the start of the trees cycle. I was filled with awe that something so small could grow into something so big and strong.

We also did lots of weeding, which helped me to get to know all kinds of different plants, to be able to identify which ones we could use as herbs/medicine/in salads and which were seen as pests. We planted courgette, ginger, root vegetables, pineapples. I also got to harvest passion fruit, pineapples and guava fruit to make jams which will be sold at the local market.

With WOOFing, the idea is often to work and live as part of a community so I’ve found it’s actually a great place to be gluten free because the ethos of the group tends to be about making sure everyone is happy and has what they need. The hosts were very accommodating, even though they eat meat and gluten, they adapted to fit me in whilst I was staying. Of course, when the others are eating things I can’t eat then I just prepare something else for me.

In creole cuisine, rice is a staple dish alongside carry which is a mix of spices with vegetables, fish, meat or beans. This is great for coeliacs! Some of the other dishes I have tried here include sweet potato cake, fresh mango juice, local greens cooked with lots of garlic and onion, tropical fruit salads, omelette and corn pancakes.

You never know until you try, and once again I am left feeling grateful for my coeliac because every day it helps me to discover new things, to be assertive about expressing my needs and to focus on my health, no matter where I am in the world.

Pineapple and vanilla jam!
Pineapple and vanilla jam!
Planting courgette
Planting courgette
My cabin in the woods
My cabin in the woods
Collecting pineapples
Collecting pineapples
Beautiful flower
Beautiful flower
Lunch time grub (polenta, lentils with herbs and spices, rice, omelette and greens with onion and garlic)
Lunch time grub (polenta, lentils with herbs and spices, rice, omelette and greens with onion and garlic)
Passionfruit
Passionfruit
The baby palm trees
The baby palm trees
Grown up palm tree
Grown up palm tree

Simple Breakfast Salad

One thing you can count on always being safe for coeliacs is fresh fruit and veg. My favourite thing about travelling gluten free is that wherever you go, you can nearly always find a local fruit and veg market. This is good because it means supporting local growers rather than corporate supermarkets and the experience of a market is always a feast for the senses.

So, this morning, I had fresh salad leaves, thin strips of raw carrot, melon and apple salad with olive oil and lemon juice. It’s simple, quick, easy to make and a nutritious start to the day. Of course, it was accompanied by some H2o to keep my body hydrated and voilá I’m ready for the day!

A fresh start to the day
A fresh start to the day

The Best of Coeliac Workaway

Ready to go, there's plenty of GF snack bars in that backpack
Ready to go, there’s plenty of GF snack bars in that backpack

When I decided to pack my rucksack and set off into the world, being a coeliac and vegetarian, I had some apprehensions about how easy it would be to find food I could eat. I joined up to three different sites where members travel by staying with host families/communities and work for them in return for food and board. There are some incredibly inspiring projects on all three of the sites, WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), Helpx and Workaway. At first I sent endless pleading emails to potential hosts, practically begging people to take me and apologising profusely for being a difficult guest when it came to food.

But then, when I stopped viewing myself as a pain that would have to persuade people into inviting me to stay, and chilled out about the whole diet thing, I found myself naturally drawn towards places that were either already gluten free and vegetarian or happy to adjust. I realised that I have something valuable to offer to these different projects and that I’m worth being taking care of and can therefore feel confident about asking for my needs to be met.

So, as a reminder to my future self in case of another scenario where she gets her knickers in a twist about being able to do the things she wants to, and as a testament for other coeliacs who may want to go travelling but feel held back, I’ve compiled a list of the best of coeliac workaway:

  • It acts as a really good filter when it comes to finding hosts. I’ve heard of some pretty awful experiences where people work their butts off just to be fed with copious amounts of bread every day and not much else. When someone agrees to live with you and your coeliac (or vegetarianism), they are either already aligned with similar values and follow a similar lifestyle or are happy to be flexible in order to fit you in. This is a win:win because people who are willing to adapt to welcome you are inevitably going to be really nice people, and people who are already gluten free or vegetarian will empathise with your needs.
  • You get the opportunity to cook and/or learn gluten free recipes, sharing food with people from around the world and feeling positive about eating without gluten. I worked at a bed and breakfast and made GF vegan cakes for the guests, they went down a treat and when I stayed with an eco-community, they taught me some delicious recipes using buckwheat flour.
  • The excitement felt when finding gluten free food on the road simply can’t be matched by anything. Seriously, who gets to be that ecstatic about food? When I found GF cookies to pack with me on a hike in the mountains, I was smiling for hours, before being gluten free I never reacted like that to a cookie!
  • You get a lot of practice in being assertive and looking after your needs. What’s more, if learning a new language; this is a great way to learn to express yourself using a whole different framework. I discovered that I actually find it much easier to say something as simple as “please don’t use the same cooking utensil for gluten meals and my GF meals, I could get sick” in French than in English. It was like discovering a different side to me.
  • A lot of the projects are centred on sustainability, healthy living and permaculture, which all fit in perfectly with recovering from illness and living gluten free.
  • Independance. You always have to be prepared to do your own thing and make sure there is something you can eat if everyone else is eating gluten. Being able to rely on yourself is a good feeling.
  • Being a coeliac guest can feel like you’re the odd one out, or being “difficult” but I’ve stayed with so many different people now and been welcomed into all kinds of different households and have always felt valued and looked after. In fact, you get to see the kindest sides of people as everyone chips in to make sure you’re safe and healthy. I have been so touched by the efforts people go to make me feel included and taken care of.

Of course, it’s not always plain sailing. There have been times where I’ve found it really difficult and simply exhausting having to explain over and over again why a crumb can be dangerous and how no, I really can’t just have a little try of the pie. But all in all, it’s been a really positive experience, and I actually don’t think I would have appreciated the whole experience as much if I wasn’t travelling as a coeliac.

In fact, I’m so grateful to be here at all, there was a time before diagnosis that I thought I wouldn’t ever feel well enough to be able to globe trot solo. This is why it is so important for people with any of the symptoms to be tested, to enable them to live life to the full without being held back by illness.  You can see the list of symptoms here: https://www.coeliac.org.uk/coeliac-disease/about-coeliac-disease-and-dermatitis-herpetiformis/symptoms/.

I’m signing out now to go and make myself a delicious gluten free picnic to eat in front of the Indian ocean in Réunion Island. Here’s some photos of the best of my last 4 months of travel:

Gluten Free birthday cupcakes, picnic on the beach!
Gluten Free birthday cupcakes, picnic on the beach!

As I was lost in the delicious taste of this meal, I forgot to take a pic, so please accept this photo of freshly harvested aubergines instead!

Gluten free cake and pancake with apple compote for breakfast before a swim in the pool, staying with a family as an au pair
Gluten free cake and pancake with apple compote for breakfast before a swim in the pool, staying with a family as an au pair
Island fruits
Island fruits
Helmut Newcake's pastrie selection in Paris (did I mention it's ALL GLUTEN FREE!!!)
Helmut Newcake’s pastrie selection in Paris (did I mention it’s ALL GLUTEN FREE!!!)
Traditional Breton Galettes from Brittany, France, which are naturally gluten free
Traditional Breton Galettes from Brittany, France, which are naturally gluten free

Gluten-Free in Paris!

Helmut Newcake's pastrie selection (did I mention it's ALL GLUTEN FREE!!!)
Helmut Newcake’s pastrie selection (did I mention it’s ALL GLUTEN FREE!!!)

What if I told you that nestled in amongst the alluring smell of croissants and fresh bread, teasing you from every corner of Paris, there is a patisserie with a mouthwatering selection of gluten-free cakes, pastries, freshly baked breads, macaroons and biscuits? And then what if I said that you can be safe in the knowledge every baked good is safe for coeliacs? You would probably think you were dreaming.

So I’m guessing you can imagine my excitement when I found Helmut Newcake on Rue Bechat in Paris. The minute I stepped in I wanted to eat it all and quick before going back out into the gluten-y world and being deprived of such delicacies!

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Helmut Newcake also offer lunch during the day. Usually there is a vegetarian option and a meat dish but when I went there was just meat or fish so I settled for tea and an eclair, which were delicious, as well as buying a loaf of freshly baked bread to take back to the appartment. The great thing about this bread is it holds together perfectly to make sandwiches or cut slices, something which is hard to find with gluten free bread that can often be crumbly and fall to pieces.

Freshly baked bread
Freshly baked bread
To be honest, I would even consider coming all the way back to Paris just to eat another one of these eclairs
To be honest, I would even consider coming all the way back to Paris just to eat another one of these eclairs

So, next my vegetarian friend and I searched for somewhere to eat some lunch. And hey presto, imagine our delight to find that on the same road there is a gorgeous little organic café serving gluten-free veggie soup and what’s more, gluten free buckwheat cake! I was especially impressed because the woman serving me knew all about cross-contamination and not using the same utensils for the gluten free cake, I hadn’t even mentioned the word coeliac and she was already sure to be cautious. It really makes all the difference to eating out. Some days just get better and better!

Le Bichat, an all organic café on Rue Bichat
Le Bichat, an all organic café on Rue Bichat
gluten free buckwheat cake at Le Bichat
gluten free buckwheat cake at Le Bichat

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The soup was only 3 euros (WOW!) and was delicious, a warm mix of ginger, lentils, carrots and potatoes.

So, what did I do for food when we weren’t feasting on gluten free pastries and yummy soups?

As usual with travelling, I stocked up on food for breakfast and got some basics like vegetables and rice to make dinners with. In Paris there is some great organic shops “bio” which all have a really good range of gluten free foods, including cereals, muesli, bread, snacks and sweet treats. Also, surprisingly lot’s of supermarkets had a gluten free section or at least some rice cakes. And with fresh fruit and veg, nuts, or rice cakes with your favourite spread, ya can’t really go wrong! Let’s get exploring.

My friend and I in Paris
My friend and I in Paris

And now I am sitting with my packed gluten free sandwich waiting for my flight to La Réunion. Watch this space and also, never feel held back by being gluten-free, there’s a whole world out there waiting for us to discover it! (More a note to myself than anything)

Simple Gluten Free Cake (with vegan option)

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This is quick and easy to make and can be easily adapted dpending on what you like in your cakes!

You will need:

130g Sugar

3 eggs (2 mashed bananas and a splash of apple juice if vegan)

130g butter (dairy free margerine if vegan)

130g GF flour (I like to mix my flours up a bit, this tasted great with 30g rice flour, 30g chestnut flour and 100g buckwheat flour)

Optional additions for extra flavour: 2 big tablespoons of apple and banana purée in the mix with a cap full of vanilla essence and honey caramelised apple slices added on top to bake in the oven.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees c, butter up baking tray.

Mix sugar and eggs in a bowl, add melted butter, beat then add the flour and whisk it all up. When the mixture is thick and smooth, pour it into the baking dish and pop in the oven for about 25 mins. Check it by putting a knife in the middle, it should come out clean if the cakes ready.

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Crunchy Millet Muffins (GF)

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My first day at the new WWOOF host family, an organic farm in Brittany, was spent baking delicious gluten free treats.

Here’s the recipe so you can give it a try, adapt as you wish, I’m sure they would taste great with blueberries and some cinnamon. Have added options to make it vegan.

You will need:

1 cup of maize flour or buckwheat flour

1 1/4 cup of rice flour

1/2 cup millet

A teaspoon of baking powder (check it’s GF)

A teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of natural yoghurt, soya or dairy

a sprinkle of salt

2 free range eggs, beaten or one mashed banana for vegan

1/2 cup butter or vegan margerine

1/2 cup of sugar

Grated zest and juice from 1 lemon

A drop of vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 205 degrees Celsius, butter muffin tray or get cases ready.

In one bowl mis together the flours, baking powder & soda, salt and millet.

In another bowl whisk together all the rest of the wet ingredients.

Then add wet to dry mix and whisk up.

Pop the mix into the muffin cases/tray, put in the oven for 15 minutes and voila, you have your millet muffins, enjoy! Great as a breakfast with banana and yoghurt or as a packed snack for a picnic.

My millet muffin at the beach
My millet muffin at the beach