My Gluten Free Christmas

IMG_0011

Christmas time can be a bit of a hassle for anyone avoiding gluten, wheat or dairy. It is the one time of year when invitations to parties and pub meals are non-stop and the risk of being glutened or accidently eating something with an evil ingredient can be like playing Russian roulette – you just can’t help feeling anxious upon being presented with a meal.

This year was my first works Christmas outing in my new job and I was presented on my first day in the new role with the festive menu for our meal out. Upon reading the menu, I realised I couldn’t eat a thing due to the fact that roast dinners in a pub obviously contain a generous helping of wheat and dairy and I admit I felt awful when my colleague offered to sort something out for me to eat.

I was very lucky as I got a phone call off the chef at the Navigation Inn, located in Bromsgrove, telling me how he had done a lot of gluten free catering in the past and then going on to give me a long list of what he could do to incorporate my roast dinner into a gluten and dairy free three course meal. I honestly have never had such fantastic service, with ham hock for starter, a large turkey dinner complete with gluten free stuffing and gravy, vegetables and roast potatoes for main, and then a homemade Christmas pudding drizzled in brandy sauce for pud, I couldn’t speak highly enough of the place and I would recommend both the pub and the chef to anyone looking for somewhere safe to eat in the local area. Here is a link to their website – http://www.steakandciderpubs.co.uk/

Christmas dinner was lovely for me as we can easily adapt the roast into a free from meal, by keeping things like stuffing and gravy apart from each other and making my own sauce for the prawn cocktail using Tiger Tiger gluten free tomato and mayo sauces. I used Tesco’s gluten free cocktail sausages for my pigs in blankets, and I actually thought they tasted fresher after wrapping my own bacon around them. I used Antony Worrall Thompson’s gluten free beef gravy to be quick and easy, and although the jars can no longer be found on the shelves at Sainsbury’s, it is available to buy online from mysupermarket and Ocado. I used some of the Sainsbury’s gluten free cranberry and orange stuffing balls, as well as the pork, thyme and chestnut stuffing which I really enjoyed.

IMG_0036

Boxing day in my family is Christmas Day re-visited, another 2 course meal before heading over to my cousins house for a large buffet selection. My cousin suffers from food intolerances herself and so I had no worries, knowing she would cook me something I could eat. A selection of cranberry stuffed chicken, meatloaf, roasted peppers and potatoes were piled up on my plate, with poached pears in red wine with edible glitter presented to me for pudding, which looked great and are simple to cook if anyone is looking for inspiration for cooking for guests. Floater coffees were made using St Helen’s Farm goats cream and Plamil mint chocolate flakes and I really enjoyed having creamy coffees back in my life.

photo

IMG_0048

Father Christmas delivered what I asked for this year – Phil Vickery’s Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking and the Guilt Free Gourmet cookery books. I am really looking forward to cooking up the delicious looking recipes featured knowing they will be okay for me.

IMG_0070

I was given some of the Moo Free chocolate pralines and button drops for a present, it is no secret that I love the Hammy Hamster choccies the most and so I can’t wait to dive into the box. Of course, luckily wine and snowballs are gluten free and so there was no need to go to any special effort in order to get a little bit tipsy and merry!

To everyone reading, have a very happy and healthy new year!!

Sainsbury’s Free From Christmas chocolate logs

One of the things I used to love as a kid was the small Cadbury chocolate cakes that were sold in shops at Christmas and Easter. Covered in chocolate with a spongy centre, they were finished off with a mini egg or flake on top for a yummy finish.  I can remember being given them for a treat on a Sunday night when my cousins came round and I couldn’t get enough of them.

Over the past few years however, being on a gluten, wheat and milk free diet has meant that I had to give up these little luxuries and I have often found myself stopping by them in the supermarket wishing I could eat them once more. Luckily for me, Sainsbury’s has come to my rescue this year by launching mini chocolate logs as part of their free from range.

Boxed up in a pack of five, these sugar coated brownie styled cakes are my new favourite free from find. At nearly 200 calories per cake and with 18g of sugar, they are the ultimate naughty indulgence and I can’t have more than one due to the effect high sugar consumption has on me, but I can’t deny the fact that they are truly delicious.

They are a  must have for any free from chocolate lover and I honestly can’t believe they are gluten, wheat and dairy free as I find them tastier even than what I can remember of the Cadbury’s version I ate as a child. After tasting them, I believe that Sainsbury’s has really upped their game with their free from range and I can’t rate them enough.

If you’re missing out on the traditional Christmas yule log this year, I think a box of these little lovelies will satisfy your seasonal cravings and I truly hope that they will be making an annual appearance at Christmas time on the shelves of the Sainsbury’s free from aisle.