Gluten Free Chinese New Year

Inspired by Chinese New Year, new gluten free stir fry sauces from Tesco and other bloggers such as Becky Excell cooking gluten free Chinese food, I decided to try myself! I was cooking for 8, which was lucky at 8 is a lucky number in Chinese tradition!

I had never cooked Chinese food before, and I haven’t really eaten it either! I had help from my friends, one of whom bought duck as that’s her Chinese dish of choice, and another who made a sweet and sour chicken in her slow cooker. I also made a vegetable chow mein with rice noodles, vegetable spring rolls with rice paper wrappers (I bought vietnamese spring roll kit from Tesco as this was all I could find), breaded chicken bites, garlic and chilli prawns, egg fried rice and some spicy mushrooms.

You can see how I got on here:

The mushrooms are from Sweet Mandarin cookbook and as a couple of my friends asked for the recipe I thought I’d share it here for others.

Sweet Mandarin – Salt and Pepper Juicy Mushrooms

Serves 2, prep time 10 mins, cooking time 5 mins.

1-2 tbsps vegetable oil
1-2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
250g button mushrooms, halved
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (I found this in tesco but it had wheat in so I just left it out. Include it if you can find gluten free version)

Add the oil to pre heated wok. Quickly stir fry the garlic, onion, pepper and chilli over a high heat for 1 minute.

Add the mushroom and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned. Sprinkle over the salt, sugar and five spice powder. (Add wine- see note above) Toss well.

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New look for this blog

Some of you who have followed me previously may be wondering where this blog has popped up from. I realised I hadn’t warned about or explained any changes, so let me take this opportunity to do that.

I had this blog a few years ago and it was called The Coeliac Times. However I stopped posting for some reason or another and the blog got neglected. This year I decided to start a new blog, the Gluten Free Cat Lady, with much more of a focus on video content. However, I didn’t want to lose previous posts I had written, so I decided to instead rebrand and rename this existing wordpress blog.

So here I am, Josie the Gluten Free Cat Lady! Hoping to upload a video to YouTube every Tuesday, and a blog post here every Friday. I will of course post the videos here too, but if you have a youtube account it would be amazing if you could subscribe to my channel.

You can also follow me on social media. Twitter @gfcatlady, Instagram @glutenfreecatlady and facebook.com/glutenfreecatlady. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

To go along with the new name I needed a new look. Luckily I have a creative brother who was happy to turn my vague idea of using emojis as a logo into something slick and professional looking! Thanks bro.

Video: Baking vegan, gluten free, peanut butter brownies

For Christmas, I received a Delicious Alchemy chocolate brownie baking mix. Delicious Alchemy are a gluten free food company. For veganuary they offered some egg free alternative recipes for the brownie mix, so I thought I’d give it a go and make some vegan chocolate brownies using peanut butter.

Recipe:

  • Delicious Alchemy chocolate brownie mix
  • 60g of peanut butter
  • 75ml milk/soya milk
  • 100g unsalted butter or dairy free alternative
  • 1/3 teaspoon (1g) xanthan gum
  1. Add the xanthan gum to the dry packet mix and shake together to combine before pouring it into your mixing bowl.
  2. Place peanut butter into a bowl with the soya milk (or regular milk). Mix together.
  3. Add the peanut butter mixture to the mixing bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix and bake for 20 minutes at 160 degrees or 180 fan.

This version works using either butter or a dairy free alternative, depending on whether you also need the recipe to be dairy free.

New video: Advice for going gluten free

I see a lot of newly diagnosed coeliacs, or newly gluten free, asking the same sorts of questions on facebook support groups. There’s so much conflicting information everywhere and I imagine it must be hard to sift through or even know where to start.

So I thought I would do a video, with some of the FAQ’s useful to people new to gluten free. I hope it’s useful for you.

 

 

Isle of Wight

I’ve just spent a lovely week on the Isle of Wight with three friends. We got a groupon deal that meant we paid £21 each for 4 nights in a caravan and the return ferry crossing! Not bad. It rained a fair bit but we had sun too, and I ate a lot of lovely gluten free vegetarian food, I didn’t think it’d be so easy! There are some photos from the week on my other blog Josie Makes.

Pretty much all the places we ate at I found on the Isle of Wight Coeliac facebook page– such a great help!!!!

I think I was so hungry on the first day I couldn’t even wait to take photos before eating! When we arrived we went to Godshill, and visited the Old Smithy Tea Rooms, I ordered a vegetarian breakfast (fried eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans) with brown gluten free toast. I knew the bread was gluten free because it was so small! But thats the way I like it, I don’t like to feel unsure about whether what I’m eating is gluten free. In the evening we decided to eat in the caravan, we went to the Co-op next to where we stayed in Shanklin, and I bought a mushroom risotto ready meal and some gluten free ciabatta. Easy peasy!

For breakfasts I bought some yoghurts and had some Udi’s cinnamon and raisin bagels that I had brought with me.

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The next day we went to the Garlic Farm in the morning, which was amazing! I bought from the shop some smoked garlic butter and some garlic barbeque sauce which stated gluten free on the back. On our way to the Needles in the afternoon we stopped in Freshwater to go to The Apple Farm, but this is apparently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays! So we headed to Chessell Pottery instead and I ordered this gluten free cream ‘tea’ (with coffee). Very sweet and filling but that’s what you expect! Yum.

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In the evening we went to the Crab Inn at Shanklin which have a menu showing what is gluten free. Unfortunately I was planning to have a jacket potato but when we got there I found they only served them until 5pm. Luckily they had a smoky bean chilli too so I went for that and it was lovely. There was a large group in front of us in the queue and only one person taking orders, and they had also run out of scampi, so we felt a little underwhelmed, but we all agreed the food was actually very nice.

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We decided the next day to go on an easy 12 mile bike ride… well it said it was easy, but none of us cycle so we found it pretty difficult and hurt for a few days but I’m glad I did it, and after we took the bikes back to the hire place in Sandown we went to Flanagan’s restaurant by the esplanade. They didn’t say on their menu what was gluten free, but I went for the omelette and chips. I didn’t check about the chips (lazy coeliac) but they seemed fine and I ate them because I was so hungry and haven’t felt any ill effects. You may think you spot a bit of ham there in the omelette… yes they added ham which I didn’t ask for, but I was again too hungry to send it back so I picked it all out!

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Our trip to Ventnor after a morning thunder storm, and the sun came out just while we were on the beach- perfect! Went in to Tilly’s cafe who served gluten free rolls, which turned out to be these ones by dietary specials I believe. I went for cheese and egg. It was quite small but this was OK as we were going for an early dinner at Pizza Hut before going to see an encore of the National Theatre Live ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’, which was very good by the way! At Pizza Hut I went for the veggie pizza with bbq sauce instead of tomato!

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On our last day we went to Ryde, and ate at the King Lud. This was my favourite place of the trip, and maybe even ever just for it’s interesting gluten free options, it even advertised it on the board and all the staff were very helpful, even telling me how they could adapt the specials, such as the battered halloumi (I need this in my life but just wanted a quiche!) I had a stilton and asparagus quiche made by Twins, which was lovely, but full of tomato which wasn’t written in the description so maybe not great for someone who doesn’t like tomatoes. My food came out with different chips to my friends, which were thicker, but I really liked mine and it was reassuring to see that they think of everything when it comes to their free from menu.
IMG_0157 IMG_0164All in all, I feel very well fed, the list from facebook was a godsend, and it has given me faith that holidaying as a gluten free vegetarian isn’t so hopeless!

Meat Free March

Meat free march is going well, I’m enjoying it! Here’s some photos of what I’ve been eating.

Omelette Veg and Cheese Omelette from Frankie and Bennys new Gluten Free Menu

20140302_200231Vegetable Paella from La Tasca with Gluten Free Flat Bread

20140227_132942Scrambled egg with courgette and mange tout

20140304_182547Mushroom and Spinach burger with halloumi

20140305_121608Gluten Free Veggie Lasagna

20140306_182739 Mushroom and Pea Masala

20140311_072624 Gluten Free cereal that I am in love with! I have it with almond milk.

20140311_18283620140311_182839Quorn ‘Chicken’ Fajitas   

20140315_183935Tomato, Onion and Cheese Omelette with potato rosti

IMG-20140316-WA0009Sweet Chili and Garlic Stir Fry veg with rice noodles

And lots more I forgot to take photos of!

Pizza Express’ Gluten Free Menu

Pizza Express was one of those restaurants that had no gluten free options. So it is great they they have developed their new Gluten Free menu. Pizza Express seems to have done this the right way. They brought in people to advise and test their ideas. They not only bought in a gf pizza base but also a starter and desert option as well as a gluten free beer. They are the only chain that I have heard them advertising it widely including on their website, social media and radio adverts when it first came out! The staff have all seemed very clued up about it when I have spoken to them, and they bring the pizza over on a different board, uncut, and state that is is gluten free pizza. The pizzas are thin and crispy and tasty! Overall I have really enjoyed it.

I have also tried a non-pizza gf item on their menu, the Melanzane Parmigiana. This is a type of aubergine lasagna with no pasta, and topped with gluten free breadcrumbs.

Melanzane Parmigiana

I have also tried the chocolate brownie desert, it’s small because it comes with a coffee, even if you don’t want a coffee!! But I do actually enjoy coffee with cake, and a nice bit of strawberry too, so I enjoyed it.

Frankie and Benny’s Gluten Free Menu

I used to really struggle at Frankie and Benny’s, the only option seemed to be a steak with a jacket potato. My friends all love it there though so I was so pleased when they recently launched their Gluten Free menu. The first thing I noticed about it was the amount of choice it had. 4 starters, 10 main courses and 4 deserts. And not only that but it had vegetarian options too which is something that I think is lacking elsewhere! When I visited the other day I first looked at the ordinary menu as I had already looked at the gluten free menu online, interestingly though some of the things on the GF menu are not available on their general menu. I asked for the gluten free menu which was found immediately at the front desk and bought over. I didn’t think I could handle 3 courses so I ordered an omelette with jacket potato and decided to leave room for desert!

I really love omelette, but the other options all look nice too. Trying to eat less meat, the options were omelette, which had peppers, onion, mushroom and three cheeses, or a goats cheese and Mediterranean vegetable risotto which I hope to try next time! The omelette was lovely, it came slightly after everyone else’s food and they explained this is because they used all new pans and utensils, and it was not very long to wait just a minute or two. The jacket potato I was worried about because they can be quite hard and they never seem to give you butter, but this potato was lovely, soft and had butter in it, with a little bit of cheese on the salad.

Omelette

For desert I went for the fruit dippers, this was also not on the normal menu and a friend of mine actually went for this option too because she saw it on my menu. I did enjoy it especially the banana and strawberries and the chocolate fudge dip. I ate a bit of pineapple but it really hurts my mouth so I didn’t have much. I was quite full so it was a nice light desert to have!

Fruit Dippers

Overall I really enjoyed it, the food was lovely, the staff helpful and it didn’t feel like any trouble at all.

Menu