Gluten Free North Coast

Bill’s Fishhouse

Do you find travelling with food intolerances difficult? On a recent trip to Port Macquarie it is clear that holidaying in the regions with food intolerances is getting easier but there are still a few areas that need to improve. In this blog you will find some tips for locating friendly restaurants and navigating your way through menus.

First up road food? Depending on where you are travelling you may find it easier to pack your own snacks and lunch or scope out some suitable alternatives. Gluten free options when travelling to the North Coast include chains such as Olivers who stock a range of healthy foods including fresh juices and a good range of gluten free options.

Secondly download Trip Adviser and review the restaurant choices in the area you are visiting. Trip Advisor lets you choose restaurants based on dietary requirements as well as options like online booking. Although during the current coronavirus crisis many restaurants have turned off online booking so that they can take deposits or confirm that you are planning on dining.

Once you have downloaded Trip Adviser its a good idea to search a list of cafes or restaurants which meet your requirements. Going one step further its a good idea to jump onto the menu and make sure that gluten free for example doesn’t just mean we offer gluten free toast.

LV’s on Clarence

Reviewing the options in Port Macquarie there were three breakfast options close by to our accomodation which included LV’s , the Pancake Parlour and The Pepperberry. Each had reasonable reviews however our standout favourite was LV’s initially as they had a fabulous Mushroom fungus toast with ham that was delicious and served gluten and dairy free. Staff were also very competent at dealing with requests for changes due to intolerances. The Pancake Parlour had the ability to provide gluten free pancakes for a number of menu options but the quality of the food was a little average. The Pepperberry was a standout for its range of gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options including two types of fritters. The Morrocan fritters with corn were excellent, a little spicy and they benefited from the use of besan (chickpea) for a richer taste.

The standout options in Port Macquarie were Bills Fishhouse and Twotriplefour at Cassegrains Wines. We dined at Bills Fishhouse on the Friday night and had emailed to let them know of the various dietary requirements which included one gluten free and one both dairy and gluten free. The waiter was really well prepped and also adjusted the Fish Tasting Special to our requirements, replacing oysters with a delicious Kingfish sashimi with coconut cream. They also offered some interesting options with Kingfish wings ( a bit fattier and tastier than the main fish) as well as a delicious salt and pepper squid.

Having mentioned that we were dining at Twotriplefour the following day for lunch we were really thrilled to see printed menu’s already adjusted for our dietary requirements. It may have triggered a round of over ordering as there were so many options, however we really didn’t need to eat dinner that night so it was worthwhile. We has a delicious entree of warm marinated olives, mushrooms, eggplant and a herb and lettuce salad followed by lamb rump. Twotriplefour also offer hampers for picnicking in the grounds and that may be an option for later trips.

Bago Maze and Winery

A third tip is to contact the venue in advance either by email or phone and see if they can accomodate your dietary needs. The Bago Maze and Winery offers both salami and cheese platters and can provide gluten free crackers on request. The other venue which had a surprisingly good menu was the cafe at Billabong Zoo which offered a range of salad bowls with gluten free and vegetarian options. Both of these options we were made aware of at the venue and would probably have changed out trip to eat at those venues if we had realised. Regardless make sure both venues are on your list for your trip, Billabong zoo is in sub tropical grounds and has an impressive range of animals. Personally loved being able to feed the wallabies and sneak in a little gentle pat on the back but we would recommend being at the lion enclosure just after 11am as the keeper gets up close and personal with the lions.

Bago Maze is one of the superior hedge mazes from our travels and takes a good hour to really explore and conquer both turrets as well as identifying the many features. For Christmas they had hidden a range of Austalian animals in the maze so it was fun to go down dead ends just to see if you could find the platypus or the wombat.

Perhaps the only criticism to make at this point is that restaurants seem to freely indicate on platforms that they offer dietary options however the menu’s do not always meet these claims. A number of cafes in the area advertised gluten free but then failed the menu test as there were no gluten free items marked. Its also essential that staff recognise the importance of separately preparing gluten free foods, which in most cases these venues did by checking if the diners were coeliac. The other item is to ensure that gluten free options if fried are only prepared in a separate fryer, otherwise you risk trace contamination.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist who enjoys eating out and travelling. Clearly this year’s efforts are restricted to NSW. For useful blogs on the subject have a look at Mountain high – adding dietary options to your holiday. and A tea lovers guide to the Blue Mountains . Christine is available for appointments on 02 8084 0081 and can offer online consultations for those not currently based in St Ives, Sydney.

Okra – mucilaginous veggie

Okra is an unusual vegetable as it contains a mucilaginous gum which thickens stews and casseroles. It is known for its use in gumbo in Creole cooking however it has a wider range of uses and is worth including on a more regular basis.

A small study of okra conducted in 2013 (1) showed that okra reduced the production of fat and increased the breakdown of cholesterol. The only other food with a similar cholesterol lowering effect is oats.

Nutritionally okra has a high level of Vitamin C and folate as well as moderate levels of magnesium and potassium.

Looking around for recipes for okra I was focussed on finding a breakfast option to copy the one I had enjoyed in Fiji at a breakfast buffet. What I did find was some really useful side dishes which would add flavour to any meal.

1 Roast sweet potato and okra this is a good combination of flavours and additional vegetables as a side for grilled meats.

2. Tomato and okra stew a filling side dish or a tasty breakfast option.

3. Okra and Potato Hash this would make a good breakfast option as well as a side dish.

4. Easy Roast Okra this is a simple roasted version with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Of course no blog on okra would be complete without a gumbo recipe and this chicken and chorizo gumbo from Taste.com looked straightforward.

Let me know whether you find okra is a worthwhile addition to your vegetable intake after you have tried the recipes.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives. You can make appointments on 02 80084 0081 or online at the website .

(1) Hypolipidemic activity of okra is mediated through inhibition of lipogenesis and upregulation of cholesterol degradation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23606408

Is it time to recharge the batteries?

Taking a week out in the sun in Winter is an ideal way to recharge the batteries. Last year I went to Fiji for a week with the family and it made such a difference to have a mid year break. The question is how do you keep the batteries charged when you get back?

Think about incorporating some of the relaxing rituals from your holiday into your life on your return or use it as a chance to start eating better. Some useful options to consider could be:

  1. Daily walks – one thing you tend to do as a tourist is walk, often quite a lot more than you would normally. So once you have started why not keep it up. Walking along the beach is always relaxing and incorporating a weekly beach or bayside walk is ideal. The great thing about walking is you don’t need a lot of equipment and you can always walk to a coffee bar for a convenient top up.
  2. Being in nature – barefoot on the beach or on your back lawn. Walking the Corso in Manly is a great way to pick up your mood. Spending some time in nature each day really helps us stay grounded.
  3. Massage or other bodywork – incorporate this into your weekly or monthly schedule to help maintain your self and calm your cortisol. The village adjoining the resort in Fiji offered a one hour massage for about $30 Australian. Easier to afford at this price but with health funds rebating up to $30 for a treatment it could be a good way to add some self care on a regular basis. My clinic at St Ives has three excellent massage therapists offering lymphatic, craniosacral or remedial massage.
  4. Add greens to your diet. Again something simple and relatively easy to incorporate that will give you long term benefits. My breakfast in Fiji included sautéed okra and spinach, both locally grown so they were really tasty. Try adding spinach to your breakfast omelette or a salad at lunch.
  5. Eat seasonally it’s often cheaper and the food is usually in peak condition. The imperfect pick section in Harris Farm is usually a good indicator of what’s fresh , seasonal and well priced. At the moment lots of root vegetables and cauliflower as well as citrus and apples and pears.
  6. Hydrate ! If you can’t find someone to open a coconut for you at least drain the water bottle by lunch. We loved being able to enjoy the coconut water from a freshly opened coconut and then ate the young flesh from inside. Good hydration and good fats!

Christine Pope is an experienced naturopath based at Elemental Health St Ives. Appointments can be made on 8084 0081 or online at the Elemental website .

5 Tips for good gluten free menu’s

Breakfast at The Conservation Hut

 Australia Day we added a couple of days leave creating a long weekend and headed up to the Blue Mountains. Being strictly gluten free I did some research before I left and came up with an impressive list of options. Unfortunately the definition of gluten free varied widely. So here are some tips for aspiring cafes and restaurants.
1. Having gluten free bread available is nice but it doesn’t make for gluten free options . We particularly enjoyed the gluten free high tea at the Hydro Majestic because we got to enjoy lots of delicious options which were all gluten free. They even toasted the bread which is essential when you are dealing with gluten free bread. A particular highlight was a raspberry macaroon served with fresh raspberries. Just wish they could sort out the gluten free scones – there are some great options around and they are an essential part of a high tea. Also just remember if you do provide gluten free bread then be careful about cross contamination with food handling.

2. Provide real gluten free options. At Anonymous Cafe at Blackheath the gluten free breakfast options included gluten free toast, spiced pumpkin loaf and a gluten free muesli. The spiced pumpkin loaf was served with marscopone and jam and was a delicious option.

Gluten free at the Hydro Majestic

3. Remember people who are gluten free often have multiple intolerances including dairy and egg so ideally include options which don’t double down on the intolerances. Great breakfast options could include adding a vegetable hash with optional inclusions such as salmon, egg or bacon. The Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls offered a smoked trout hash with a poached egg and was happy to leave it off when requested.

4. Educate your staff about your menu’s. At one restaurant which will not be named I was asked by one waitress whether potatoes were gluten free? She then advised that only two of the main courses were options but subsequently a different staff member then told me that everything could be made gluten free. This was a bit misleading as it turned out they removed the portion of the meal that required gluten. For dessert it was actually the crumble part of the peach and apple crumble and it would have been nice to know that half the dessert would not be included. Its so easy to make gluten free crumble mix – any mix of almond meal, brown sugar, quinoa or rice flakes would work well.

By contrast we also enjoyed dinner at Vesta‘s in Blackhealth where the waitress not only could tell you what was possible in terms of gluten free but provided options such as flaxseed crisp to enjoy with the pate on the charcuterie board. The small board made a good sized entree between two people and included a pate and a terrine as well as some meats and excellent pickled vegetables.

5. Mark the menu with the gluten free and other options, such as vegetarian. This means when you search menu’s its easy to see if there are real gluten free options and quickly identify what they are. The Ori Cafe at Springwood and Papadino’s at Katoomba both have well marked menu’s with a good range of options. The night we ate at Papadino’s the specials board even included a gluten free gnocchi. It was served with a Napolitana sauce which was quite garlicky but also delicious.

Christine Pope is a Nutritionist and Homeopath who practices at Elemental Health at St Ives. If you need help managing food intolerances or just some good restaurant recommendations you can make an appointment on 8084 0081 or book online .

 

 

 

 

 

Seven gluten free and dairy free breakfasts

Seven gluten free and dairy free breakfasts

Many of us stick to the same boring breakfast every day however when you suddenly find out that you can’t have wheat anymore the usual toast or cereal just doesn’t cut it any longer. So what do you do?

Here is a range of suggestions that I find work well in practice. I have included recipes or links to the recipes. Its easy to substitute particularly with gluten free grains or different types of milk (coconut, almond, rice or soy).

  1. Easy peach crumble (or pear or berry or apple or any combinations you like).
  2. Banana and choc chip muffins
  3. Roast vegetable hash
  4. Mango chia pudding
  5. Gluten free muesli with fruit puree
  6. Buckwheat pancakes (Orgran packet mix has all the instructions) but works well with bacon and maple syrup or grilled banana or fruit.
  7. BLAT on gluten free bread.

The recipes for most of these options are listed below but two recipes have links. One is  for the easy mango pudding recipe from the Healthy Chef which only has four ingredients but really comes down to fruit, chia seeds, water and coconut milk plus the other link is to my gluten free muesli recipe which really can be tailored to personal preference. An even easier version can be buying a gluten free muesli and adding a few of your favourite ingredients, such as nuts and seeds or LSA mix.

shutterstock_93158164Easy peach crumble

4-6 peaches sliced

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup quinoa flakes

50 g melted butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar (coconut sugar, maple syrup work well too)

Place sliced fruit in a casserole dish. Combine melted butter with almond meal, quinoa flakes and sugar . It will be a little lumpy. Sprinkle over sliced fruit and cook at 180c for 20-25 minutes until topping is crispy and golden. Serve with coconut yoghurt for a little extra protein but its delicious by itself and the quinoa and almond provide good protein and fats.

Banana and choc chip muffins

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (add to sugar)
  • 50 g butter
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free self raising flour or 1 cup gluten free self raising flour plus 1/2 cup of almond meal or coconut flour (coconut gives it a nice moisture)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup choc chips preferably dairy free
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Melt butter, mix in sugar and then egg. Add in alternately flour and bananas and stir well. Then add in the choc chips. Spoon mixture into 12 muffin cases or greased muffin tray. Cook 15-20 minutes at 180 Celsius. Muffins should be lightly browned when cooked.

Roast Vegetable Hash

This is really just a good way to use up leftover roast vegetables and many combinations work well.

Ideally you need half a cup of roast vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, carrots, etc) per serve

2 slices of bacon per person

1/2 small brown onion

1/2 cup greens either bok choy, wombok or cabbage work well

Saute bacon and onions for 2-3 minutes until lightly cooked. Add greens and roasted vegetables and stir for 3-5 minutes until warmed through. Salt lightly and serve.

shutterstock_143818549

BLAT (Bacon lettuce avocado and tomato)

Saute two to three slices of bacon and serve on a gluten free bread roll toasted with mashed avocado and sliced tomatoes.

Christine Pope is an experienced natural medicine practitioner who also teaches and until recently was Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College. Food is one of her favourite topics!

Would love feedback on the recipes or any other easy breakfast suggestions which are gluten and dairy free!