I recently read, in a not very friendly Daily Telegraph article – that the ‘free from’ food sales in the UK hit £0.5 billion last year and ‘gluten free’ alone is ‘worth’ £238 million a year. No wonder we are seeing more and more foods hitting the shelves. With a growth of more than 15% in just one year, you can see why the supermarkets have embraced this. Just this month Lidl launched their gluten free range and are no doubt currently analysing a positive impact on their overall sales figures.
Last year I was given a bread machine by my mother in law. The whole family, when catering for Zac, has experienced the frustration of spending £3 on a tiny loaf that falls apart before you can do anything with it, and has great big holes in the slices. My mother in law had a bread machine of her own and suggested I borrow it and see if I could make something more usable and tasty. A lot of the gluten free breads taste pretty rough. So I had a go and the result was pretty disastrous. I blamed the machine! It didn’t have a setting for gluten free bread and I guess that is pretty crucial as the process is quite different.
Since I have been back at work, the children have been going to after school club. When I collect them they are always so hungry that it is a bit of a challenge to get their dinner in front of them in the shortest possible time. One of the downsides of gluten free pasta is that it seems to have slightly longer cooking time than ‘normal’ pasta, and apart from the very expensive and not always available GF ‘Bob the Builder’ pasta, I have never discovered any ‘quick cook’ pasta – until this week.
I was in my local Waitrose, lurking around the chiller aisle trying to decide what to make for dinner. I decide to grab some garlic bread and that is when I spotted the Dell’ Ugo gluten free penne, sitting with all the other fresh pasta. Without thinking, or looking at the price I threw it in my trolley and headed to the checkout. Dinner sorted.
One of Zac’s favourite foods when we he was a little tot was garlic bread. Once his diet became gluten free and dairy free, the shop bought stuff was ‘out’. I have since discovered that Asda have a version in their freezer section. It is ok. But so rarely in our local store that I decided to set about making or ‘creating’ my own.
I created some garlic butter by mixing a squirt of garlic puree (from a tube) in with a dollop of Pure sunflower spread. I learned to do this when he was just a dairy free boy. I used garlic puree because, although fresh garlic is nice, it is pretty hard, even with the best crusher or amazing knife skills, to get it this smooth. Although many little ones love garlic, no-one enjoys the shock of biting down on a chunk of it!
I know I am almost certainly not the first person ever to think of this, but I promise this is the first time that this recipe has occurred to me and it is definitely the first time I have tried it. I prefer savoury breakfasts to sweet things and so thought it was time to look at some ideas in that area. Zac and I love marmite. I know it can be a bit of a borderline product for coeliacs – as it is a by-product of the brewing industry, but we seem to be ok with it.
When I was a little girl one of my favourite breakfasts was marmite soldiers dipped in a soft boiled egg – that was back in the day when you were encouraged to ‘go to work/school on an egg’. Then came the eighties and everyone got scared of eggs and for many people they went off the menu.
When you wean your baby now, you get conflicting advice about boiled eggs so I have to confess I chickened (!) out of trying them on my little ones. But they are so nutritious, quick and easy and if you are lucky enough that your intolerant child is ok with egg, it makes you think about trying them again. I remember how lovely egg and marmite tasted together and that is how my idea came together.
Sandwiches are pretty dull for a dairy free kid. The gluten free part is not such a problem, as there are a variety of replacement bread products and most are (quite) palatable. Most are vastly improved by having something added to them, but where do you start when you are dairy free? The dairy free cheese type replacements are pretty grim and Zac hates them. I once read that the body doesn’t crave what you are allergic to, so perhaps that is why Zac is not interested in fake milk and fake cheese. He still associates anything that looks or tastes like dairy as something dangerous.
So when you are trying to come up with a sandwich filling or toast topping, it is a bit tough. Zac has always loved to eat bananas for breakfast, so recently I decided to try him with a banana toastie. Another nice, quick and easy one and it is nice and filling too. It went down very well so I thought I should share it.
We make it with Warburtons gluten free bread. I have given up on Genius. It tastes better but in most loaves I have bought, up to a third of the slices fall apart before you get them out of the bag. When you are paying £3 a time, it makes the cost per slice extremely expensive and the whole experience is infuriating.