This month I’m super-excited about attending the Gluten Free Food and Allergy Show (Claudelands Event Centre (March 21-22). I’ve been before, and it’s worth a gander, especially if you’re new to the food allergy world.
To me, the most value to be gained from the show is attending the free lectures. There are usually a range of speakers about topics ranging from how to cook safely, to understanding the low fodmaps diet to how to get enough nutrition in your diet.
Other than the free seminars, you’ll find loads of vendors keen for you to try their allergy-friendly products. And wow, what a selection of yums!
The range of gluten and allergy-free foods has increased dramatically during the last five years. It’s now easier than ever to find processed food to meet your foodie needs.
However, being overly-reliant on processed allergy-free food is a somewhat dubious practice for two reasons:
• Allergy-free food is significantly more expensive than other food because it has usually been produced with more costly ingredients in a facility that is allergy-free
• Processed food often contains additional preservatives, additives and colourings that aren’t necessary and may be detrimental to your health
Living totally without processed food would be hard, and I’m not suggesting you do this, unless you’re super-keen. However, a healthy approach would be to largely eat naturally allergy-free foods (e.g. meat, vegetables, legumes and/or whatever whole foods you can handle in your diet), and use processed food only in moderation.
When you’re shopping for allergy-friendly processed food, have a good read of the ingredients label. If you have food allergies, you don’t want to put more stress on your system than necessary by adding in a load of sugar, additives, colourings or preservatives.
Many processed foods include an ingredient list with numbers and fancy names. Deciphering what these mean and whether they contain an allergen that will make you ill is very important. If gluten is a problem for you, I recommend buying the two guides (which are pretty cheap) from the Coeliac New Zealand website ‘Reading food labels’ and ‘Ingredient list handbook’. I keep a copy of them in my handbag, and still refer to them on a regular basis. If you have other allergies/intolerances, Google is your best friend for finding out exactly what is in the food you’re eating.
Importantly, if you’re severely allergic to a food item (or are coeliac) you should avoid any processed food with the warning ‘may contain traces of …’ or ‘processed in a factory containing …’ as these types of products could potentially lead to a lot of pain.
I’m no saint, so there are definitely a few processed noms in my kitchen. Here’s a sneak peek into what’s often on my to-buy list at the supermarket:
Good quality bread
I personally like Purebread’s Young Buck bread which is grain free, gluten-free and dairy-free (buy it through their website). I cook toast every day to have with eggs for breakfast. You can buy a range of gluten-free/dairy-free breads from most supermarkets, so have a scout around for a product that meets your needs.
Kumara/thick cut chips
These are a yummy snack for special occasions
Sure soy is reportedly not the healthiest of foods, but it’s another treat I like to have in the house.
Tamari or wheat-free soy sauce
It’s hard to get flavour when you’re allergic to just about everything.
I use tamari a lot when cooking.
Check out Christina’s recipe for Gluten-free, dairy-free beef stew