Have a gluten-free Christmas


Just because you have gluten, dairy and fodmaps issues doesn’t mean that you have to miss out. There are loads of yummy foods to fuel your festive cravings. Here are just a few of my favourites…

Berries: The beauty of having Christmas in summer is lots of berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries … yum. There’s nothing more decadent than a bowl full of berries with a scoop of ice-cream (if you can handle dairy) or whipped coconut cream.

Pavlova: Pavlova is worth putting that ‘no refined sugar’ thing on hold just for a night –  right? It’s basically eggs, sugar and air, but the taste … mmm. If you can’t do dairy, whipped coconut cream is a good alternative. And pavlova goes great with those berries I mentioned earlier.

Barbecue It wouldn’t be a Kiwi Christmas without a brbecue. The risk of cross-contamination with barbecues is pretty high for gluteys, but it’s not too hard to keep yourself safe. Cook your food on tinfoil so that it’s not touching the other food on the barbecue and make sure separate tongs are used for handling your food. Voila! Safe and healthy barbecue.

Brunch: One of my fave brunches ever is bacon and eggs. And Christmas is that time of year when it’s perfectly legit to sleep in and eat a lazy brunch at least a few times a week. Not all bacon is gluten-free, but lots of brands are. Just check the label. Serve with your fave gluten-free toast (my fave is Purebread’s Young Buck). Mmmm…

Meaty treats: Skip this section if you’re a vegetarian, but read on if you’re a total carnivore like me. Most meat is gluten and dairy-free, but keep an eye out for marinades, stuffing, gravies or processed meat. If you’re looking for some good quality meat in Hamilton, I recommend The Organic Butchery in Grasslands Place – the beef sausages are particularly delicious.

Dining out
One of the Christmas challenges for food allergy folk is the large number of food-related functions you’re expected to attend. You won’t always be able to choose where you eat, but you can do a few things to keep yourself safe.

•  If you’re eating out make sure you call the restaurant or café in advance and check they can safely cater for you.

•  Make sure you ask questions. Don’t assume that just because something is labelled gluten-free or dairy-free on the menu that it’s not prepared or cooked in a way that causes cross-contamination.

•  If you’re going to someone else’s place for a meal or barbecue, talk to the host in advance about the menu. You might like to offer to bring a food contribution that you can eat, or offer to bring your own meal if you’re unsure of the safety of the food on offer.

•  Don’t compromise your health. It’s embarrassing sometimes to have to ask lots of questions and say no to food that’s been kindly prepared for you, but you have to look after yourself. Being polite and explaining the situation helps to educate others about food allergies and also keeps you safe. There’s nothing worse than spending the Christmas season in pain.

Catering for allergic buddies
If you’re in the position of providing food for allergic or intolerant friends, there’s plenty you can do to help keep them safe. Here are a few tips:

•  Clarify what foods your buddy can’t eat. Without checking, you could be missing some vital things. I once had a boss who kindly purchased a whole heap of gluten free treats for a work morning tea. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat any of them because they were either high fodmaps or contained dairy. I spent the morning tea hiding behind my workmates because I didn’t want her to notice I wasn’t eating any of the food.

•  Try not to be offended if your buddy wants to bring their own food or asks lots of questions. It’s not that they don’t trust you, it’s just that even a small amount of cross-contamination e.g. crumbs can be enough to make some people sick.

•  Let them blend in. There’s nothing more awkward as a food allergy person than to be eating your special meal and having someone loudly start making comments about the food. It’s great to ask questions, but try not to embarrass your buddy.

Thanks so much for including us and helping keep us safe – we love being part of your social occasions, even if we sometimes have to have a special meal or miss out on a particularly yummy treat.

Anne’s Strawberry Tart (Gluten-free with dairy-free alternative)

My mum makes THE most amazing strawberry tart. This is one of those desserts that you have to physically stop yourself from over eating. Sooooo gooood…

Shortcrust base
– Cream together 4oz butter (can use butter substitute e.g. Olivani). Make sure the butter is well softened – just before melting point or the mixture will be too dry to hold together.
2oz sugar
– Add 2 egg yolks (you can use leftover whites for meringues or a pavlova to get a sugar fix)
– Beat together.
– Then add 1 1/4 breakfast cups of GF flour ((I have used Bakels baking mix (which has baking powder in it) or Macro GF Plain flour successfully) – if using the plain flour add 1/2tsp GF baking powder.
– Mix into butter/sugar /egg mixture.
– Grease and flour (dust) a baking dish (the dish needs to be large enough so that the mixture can be pressed thinly into the dish and about 1/2 inch or so up the sides).  Press mixture into dish.
– Bake in moderate oven until the base changes colour slightly – not brown/burnt.

– When cool, cover with chopped raw strawberries – best if generous – (is also delicious to use cooked apricots with a glaze made from dried apricots)
– Reserve enough strawberries (again I can’t tell you how many – I just guess and usually err on side of generosity) for the glaze.
– Put them into a pot with just enough water to stop them catching on the bottom and cook until mushy and juicy.
– Strain through a sieve but DO NOT strain through stirred up pulp – or else the glaze will be cloudy. Just let the juice run out and perhaps gently press strawberries to get most of the juice.
– Return the juice to the pot – heat – add sugar to taste and then thicken with arrowroot – not too thick – just thick enough to drizzle over all of the strawberry mixture but not so runny that it soaks through the crust.
This is my last regular column for Fitness Journal, I’m off on some adventures with my blog (which I’ll be announcing next month). I’m sure I’ll be back now and again with a story or two, and in the meantime, come visit my blog at www.gluteygirl.com or find me on Facebook or Twitter @gluteygirl. Happy Christmas everybody.

Christina Stewart is passionate blogger, photographer and cafe haunter, who has spent a lifetime dealing with multiple food allergies and intolerances. Her website gluteygirl.com is packed with education, advocacy, tasty recipes and inspiration for foodies and fellow sufferers. Packed with information on all things gluten-free, dairy-free and low FODMAPs, there are also plenty of interviews, cafe reviews, recipes and mischief. www.gluteygirl.com



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