Hey! Earlier in the year we came to the conclusion that my husband is gluten intolerant, and it seemed like a really big major deal. Oh the innocence of life before Covid…
Not that I’m belittling gluten sensitivity. I know for some people it can be hugely debilitating. With a process of elimination we’ve worked out that there are only certain things that cause the physical discomfort, pain and bad tummy for the husband but, that said, there’s obviously something that triggers him and, just because not all wheat products cause a tangible effect, it’s probably not doing his insides any good.
The journey to gluten free was an immediate one – as soon as we recognised the signs our house became gluten free. That included a new toaster and wooden kitchen utensils in case of any pesky gluten hiding away on surfaces.
Here’s what I’ve found:
- Gluten free food is expensive. A bag of pasta is easily twice the price of a standard one. Biscuits three to four times the price. At a time when some people are losing their jobs or having their income reduced by furlough, I can see that some people couldn’t afford to buy GF products. And that sucks.
- Gluten free bread is rubbish (as well as expensive). You don’t get a choice of thickness – it’s just one standard naff slice size (we’ve always been thick sliced bread people, and thick sliced it is not). The slices are teeny tiny, like they’re made for children. It has no rigidity or strength, so if you use it for a sandwich it falls apart. It’s ok toasted. My favourites are the Genius White sliced, or the Warburtons seeded sliced. Buns aren’t much better, again not having the strength to hold a burger, but the best I’ve found are the Asda white buns. Still not cheap (£1.50 for 4) but cheaper and better than others I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot!)
- Own brand items tend to be more GF than branded. Pringles contain gluten, but Lidl do their own version call Snax which are GF, and much cheaper than Pringles, albeit only in 3 flavours. Many Walkers crisps are now out of bounds, but Asda own crisps in the same flavours are wheat free.
- Some “standard” items are already GF. For example, Asda do a “free from” white sauce for lasagne (no, I don’t make my own!) but the Dolmio one doesn’t contain any wheat anyway. In this case the “free from” refers to dairy, which I didn’t realise at first.
- Wheat and gluten is in things you wouldn’t expect. For example, frozen chips, just potato and sunflower oil, right? Actually in many cases they’re dusted with a coating for crispiness. I can highly recommend Lidl’s own brand french fries, which are delightfully crispy, super cheap, and use rice flour which is GF.
- Pizza was kind of a big deal for the husband, and he was very upset at not being able to eat it. We tried the GF options from Pizza Hut, but the dough was claggy and a bit naff. We’ve never been fans of frozen pizza cooked at home, but I gave the Goodfellas GF ones a try and OMG. They’re just so good. Not “good for GF pizza” just “good” full stop. We usually buy a margarita which we pimp up with peppers and onions, and a pepperoni which we add mushroom too. Break a ball of mozzarella over the top for extra ooze and I defy you not to love them.
- Most of the Asda range of sausages are gluten free, and say so on the label, which I found surprising as I assumed supermarket sausages would be full of breadcrumbs. On the flip side, I went to a local butcher to source some sausages, thinking they’d be higher quality, and was told they weren’t GF. More expensive isn’t always better.
My best advice for anyone who is newly gluten intolerant is:
Labels, labels, labels – you’ll soon get used to scanning ingredients quickly to identify whether something is suitable. Do check items you buy regularly though, in case they’ve changed the ingredients
Google, google, google – there are some great GF food bloggers out there who have come up with alternative recipes for gluten containing favourites.
I’ll leave you with this recipe from Slimming Eats, which is so accurate in terms of taste and texture that it’s hard to believe it isn’t the real thing – “fakeaway” kebab. It’s also much healthier and lower is calories and crap than anything you’ll get from the chip shop! Seriously, try it!
If anyone has any GF suggestions, alternatives or supermarket foods, do let me know in the comments.
Thanks, as always, for reading. x