A whole new (free-from) world

Eating out gluten free
Recently I’ve felt I am becoming less and less like a tricky eater. Things have considerably improved year on year since I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2012. And even then, things were not too hopeless on the gluten-free front.

The thing I’ve noticed is that if, heaven forbid, I forget my lunch or food, I can usually find somewhere to buy another lunch or at least get the ingredients to make up a gluten and dairy-free sandwich or something. On the most part, I no longer have to survive on pure air or a bag of crisps if I’m lucky.

I wrote a blog a while back (Just Eat What?) about not being able to eat takeaways any more. Now there are four that deliver to my house. I can have a Mexican (Pinche Pinche), Thai (Sukothai), Pizza and fish and chips (Frydays). They all taste fantastic too. With the help of Deliveroo, the list is ever-growing. This is excellent for greed, laziness and sheer indulgence, but rather bad for the wallet and, pretty soon, this ‘not being able to eat anything’ business won’t be a trusted way to keep my weight under control. Hee hee.

We can get a really good Chinese takeaway (yes a blimmin’ Chinese!!!!) when we go to my sister-in-law’s. I am like a kid at Christmas and always order twice as much food as I need due to said excitement. It is absolutely amazing. It’s called Chung Ku in Rainhill. No pressure, but you must try the salt and pepper chicken wings.

One of the biggest things that I have noticed is that I can now eat something at service stations. Firstly, I found a Vietnamese roll at Waitrose which was perfect for lunch. Rather unusually, recently I’ve been caught short of a gf meal for me and my mini-coeliacs and realised that we could just stop at an M & S, knowing they would be able to feed us. It was like the olden days when I could buy a sandwich and crisps. Service stations have been one of the biggest problems for me since diagnosis. And they are usually a place you rely on to buy food during long journeys. My children survived on the M&S cocktail sausages, olives and a packet of crisps the same size as them, but they got fed all the same. Thank you M & S – you have been a life-saver on a fair few occasions.

M & S gf sandwich November 2017 234

Most of the chains are now pretty damn brilliant – I have tried Las Iguanas, Chiquito, Handmade Burger Co, Leon, Red’s True Barbecue and Pizza Hut. I managed to get my much-loved fajitas at Chiquito with a few tweaks, the peanut butter and chilli jam burgers are gorgeous at Handmade Burger Co and it was so lovely to see my kids have what their friends could (chicken wings, pizza, ice cream factory) at Pizza Hut.

November 2017 612 November 2017 610

I haven’t been yet, but Pizza Express does a vegan cheese now (which is also soya free). Hooray! I tried it at the Allergy & Free-From Show and couldn’t even tell it was free from. This is unreal.

Over the last year, nearly all the parties my little girl has gone to have catered for her. Either the venue or the lovely mums, as they have become more confident about looking after coeliacs.

I would say gf alone is usually pretty easy now. With me having the combination of gluten and dairy free, there are still a few challenges but I can definitely see it being fairly straightforward very soon if the free-from industry continues to grow as it has been.

By Karen Woodford – a gluten and dairy free mum getting over-excited by the ever-growing world of free-from

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