Whilst organising a Christmas menu around allergens may seem a little challenging the basics such as prawns, ham and turkey don’t require a lot of modification apart from finding a suitable stuffing! Mince pies and puddings require more significant modifications.
One significant issue is the ratio of stuffing to turkey. This recipe for stuffing cups from Donna Hay is a great solution to that option. I have made it by substituting gluten free breadcrumbs and nuttelex (for the butter) and they work really well. Just make sure your pancetta is gluten free too!
The side dishes for Christmas can be a range of salads or hot dishes, there are some useful suggestions in my blog on Four easy ways to add Brassica vegetables to your meals. Salad options with a dressing based on either mayonnaise (no dairy) or oil and vinegar can also be a good way to add vegetables and variety to the day.
Focussing on baking these are my two essential Christmas recipes and they are both from my Mum!
Mince pies (Makes approx 36)
Fruit mince – I jar
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
2 1/2 cups of gluten free flour,
1/2 cup castor sugar ,
185g butter (or Nuttelex for milk protein allergies)
Combine butter and sugar, add flour until mix is like crumbs and then mix through egg to combine. Put on a floured surface and loosely knead. Wrap and chill in fridge for an hour before using.
Rollout pastry between two sheets of baking paper or on a floured surface. Cut into small rounds and use half for the base and the remainder for the lids. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of fruit mince into each pie and then seal lids by pinching the pastry together. Cook at 180C for 12-15 minutes.
250 g each raisins, currants, sultanas and 60 g peel
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup plain gluten free flour
3 Tblspn Rum
250 g Butter or Nuttelex (Dairy Free)
2 cups soft breadcrumbs from gluten free loaf
Rind of an orange and a lemon
1/2 tsp each salt, mixed spice, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and bicarb soda.
Chop raisins and peel, add other fruit and combine with rum. Leave covered overnight.
Cream butter, sugar and fruit rind. Add eggs slowly beating each in well then stir in fruit in alternation with the sifted flour and spices and breadcrumbs.
Place in greased pudding dish. Cover with foil and simmer for 6 hours. Keep water level about half way up the pudding bowl and check levels regularly.
Serves 10-12 people.
Ideal to serve with Coconut Milk icecream such as Over the Moo Vanilla Bean or Coyo Vanilla or Vanilla Bean and Nutmeg.
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.
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.
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.
Whilst the options for holidays restricted to NSW at the moment it seemed timely to put together an update on tea friendly venues in the Blue Mountains (that also provide gluten free options). It is very disappointing to go to a cafe or restaurant that offers expresso coffee from freshly ground beans and then be offered hot water with a tea bag rather than leaf tea, so here are the best options for the tea lovers!!
One of my favourite spots is the Megalong Valley Tearooms. It’s fairly easy to access from Blackheath and it’s a lovely drive down into the valley. Better still you can do sections of the Six Foot Track to build an appetite or walk off an excess of scones!!
Megalong Valley Tearooms have a wide range of traditional and herbal leaf teas as well as good gluten free options and a veggie hash which is usually served with an egg but without it makes a good vegan meal too. They had expanded the farmers platter to include their homemade soups and the Cauliflower leek and fennel was excellent. The accompanying vintage cheddar pickles and corned beef made for a hearty lunch. My top tea pick is the Billy Tea which includes eucalyptus leaf.
Medlow Bath has two options now. The high tea at the Hydro Majestic is well worth a trip particularly if you order the white tea with rolled pearls which unfold in the glass teapot. Bookings can be made online and they can accommodate gluten and dairy free requests.
Another option is a cafe called Tournament which has a range of options for gluten free and vegetarians. The menu includes an Ethiopian spiced bean stew as well as daily specials like the lentil pie with polenta pictured above. Impressively they also made their own gluten free bread with spiced loaf. My daughter was still in the mood for breakfast and had the poached eggs with sides of roasted potatoes and bacon. Teas included a lovely refreshing berry mix as well as the usual options.
On the other side of the mountains we also found a little gem called The Lithgow Tin Shed . At the top of Lithgow near the train station it offered a full range of teas including chamomile, lemongrass and ginger as well as green and peppermint teas. The menu incorporated a lot of fresh local produce which is also sold in the cafe. The three salads on offer were noodle, root vegetables with goat curd and rocket and pear. The options included adding poached chicken, confit duck or local cured salmon. Both the salads we tried were delicious and the noodle salad with chicken was very filling.
One note for anyone travelling at the moment is that if you really want to eat somewhere make sure you book in advance. Currently with COVID-19 restrictions many cafe’s are limited to the number of people they can accommodate, often at half their pre COVID capacity.
Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health St Ives and is looking forward to finding good tea options around NSW in the coming months. Appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081 or online.
This Easter weekend with so many of us stuck at home it could be a good time to try your hand at cooking a few new things themed around the holiday. For example fish pie for Good Friday which is usually a fasting day in Catholic households which translates as no meat. Saturday could be about some gluten free hot cross buns and Sunday might be time to get out the big guns with some gorgeous sides for the prawns and ham. Monday you will probably be living on leftovers but these easy banana muffins could be a nice addition to breakfast or afternoon tea.
The fish pie recipe is from Taste.com and uses almond milk in place of dairy. The gluten free hot cross bun recipe is from the Healthy Chef. Some healthy sides for Easter could include the following;
Heat oil stir in honey and herbs. Add onion and brown stirring constantly.. Lower heat and add tomatoes and stir gently. Serve warm and sprinkle with vinaigrette and chopped basil.
Vinaigrette – combine oil and mustard and beat in balsamic vinegar.
Gluten Free Banana 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)
1/4 cup choc chips preferably dairy free (or 1/2 cup frozen raspberries)
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.
Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist who practices at Elemental Health at St Ives. Her favourite tool for finding new recipes is googling ingredients.
Following on from the previous blog (Meal Plan Week One) I am documenting some healthy eating suggestions for my family as I am still not able to prepare food easily. Well I can prep some things but lifting and bending is still challenging post surgery.
This week’s meal plan included the following ideas;
One or two tablespoons curry paste ( two if you prefer it spicy), 1 tsp each cumin, mustard, ginger and garlic One onion 2 potatoes 1 piece sweet potato or pumpkin or 2 carrots 2 red capsicum 1 eggplant 2 zucchini 1 can chopped tomatoes 1 can coconut milk Add a little oil to the pan and a chopped onion plus the spices. Fry the onion in the spices. Add two potatoes, a quarter pumpkin, two red capsicum (scrub potatoes, don’t peel – less work and better for you). Cut all the vegetables about the same size – for instance, in quarters.
Chop and slice salted eggplant and two zucchini. (Before you use eggplant – slice it, pour salt on it and then after 10 minutes wash it off). Stir this through, add a can of chopped tomatoes, cover for 20 minutes, cook on low heat. Check that the potatoes are getting soft. Add a small can of coconut milk and simmer for a further 5 mins before serving.
Variations: add a bunch of spinach (chopped) or Chinese cabbage a few minutes before its finished cooking.Leftovers will make another meal with a tin of legumes or chickpeas added.
Chicken Caesar Salad
300 g cooked chicken breast fillet
2 panini diced (or 3-4 slices of gluten free bread)
3 Tablespoons of Aoili
1 Large Cos lettuce cut into bite size pieces
4 slices of prosciutto
Grated parmesan (optional)
Lightly spray panini or bread cubes with olive oil. Brown in oven for 8-10 minutes at 180C. Allow to cool. Place prosciutto on a non stick tray or on baking paper and also cook until crisp, approx 7-10 minutes at 180C.
Place cos lettuce cut into bite size pieces in a large salad bowl and toss with Aoili until it is spread through the lettuce. Layer on cooked chicken, prosciutto and croutons and if desired grated parmesan.
Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist who is based at Elemental Health St Ives. You can make appointments on 8084 0081 or online at http://www.elementalhealth.net.au .
One of the best things about finishing school in my view was the end of boring sandwiches for lunch. There is no reason that this needs to be the only option and having a variety of easy salads for lunches can be a good way to improve your child’s diet as well as adding some variety. There are a few salads it’s easy to pack for lunches and if you can add a small ice brick to the lunch box it can be kept cool as well.
What would I recommend ? These are my top 5 for the lunch box.
Easy Chicken Caesar.
Wombok with grilled chicken
Tuna nicoise salad – this is an easy version from Delicious. Roasted potatoes can easily be substituted for the boiled version and add more flavour.
Mexican rice salad
Ham and corn pasta salad – a simple favourite from Taste.com and I usually try and use good quality ham off the bone to give it better flavour.
Easy Chicken Caesar
300g chicken tenders
1 Cos Lettuce
2-3 slices of old bread
1/4 cup Aoili mayonaise (or plain mayonaise with 1 clove crushed garlic)
Grill chicken tenders until golden brown and set aside to cool. On a baking tray lightly oiled cook the prosciutto and diced bread at 180C for 8-10 minutes. Prosciutto should be crispy and able to be flaked across the salad. Wash the cos lettuce well and spin dry and then cut into 2 cm slices. Combine lettuce, prosciutto and dressing and serve with grilled chicken and croutons. For the lunch box it may be better to package the croutons separately and add just before eating. (Makes 2 serves).
Wombok with grilled chicken
½ wombok (Chinese) cabbage
1 red capsicum
2 stalks celery or 100g beans sliced
100 g snowpeas or a small can of corn
Juice of one lemon
Olive Oil (2-3 tblesp)
White wine vinegar (1/4 cup)
1 ttblsp each of soy sauce and sesame oil
Cut up finely and toss together. Finely sliced vegetables enhance each others flavour.
Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and white wine vinegar and toss through the salad. The more robust vegetables keep well and you could easily have this as a side with dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day. Just add shredded chicken (150g per person) and make sure you drain well before storing.
Mexican Rice Salad
1 cup cooked rice
1 can of black beans washed and drained
1 small can of corn
1 red capsicum diced
1 punnet cherry tomatoes halved
1 avocado diced
Dressing : 2 Tablespoons of lime juice and 1/4 cup olive oil
Combine ingredients including dressing and mix well.
A nice addition to this recipe is a small bag of corn chips or a tortilla.
Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives. She typically tries to send her family with leftovers for lunch the next day and it probably works 3 days of the week! Appointments can be made on 8084 0081.
The Blue Mountains is a great spot for a holiday whether a long weekend or a full week like we just did before Christmas. This year I thought I would update an earlier blog I wrote about 5 Tips for Gluten Free Menus which was based on an earlier trip and I have updated my information about a few of my favourite dining spots. Unfortunately a couple have since closed including long term favourite Vesta’s at Blackheath. I am also including a few tips for dining with food intolerances to make travel a little easier.
1. Gluten Free Bread is nice but …think about the rest of the menu as well. 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 and had added a delicious herb focaccia with the vegetarian sandwich. Bonus points for this venue it has now added an excellent choice of gluten free scones providing both a plain and a date scone to the menu. It also handled a request for a dairy free option particularly well and I was impressed that they could handle it over the phone on the day and didn’t require more notice.
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. They have also opened a second cafe at Medlow Bath called Synonomous which we never got to but I am sure continues the tradition.
3. Multiple intolerances should be considered including dairy and egg so ideally include options which don’t double down on the intolerances. Adding more vegetable options is one way around it. 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. The Annonymous cafe at Blackheath also offered a black rice and coconut pudding option for breakfast – a bit different and interesting but covered a range of intolerances.
4. Mark the menu with the gluten free and other options, such as vegetarian and vegan. 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 Cafeat Springwood and Papadino’sat Katoomba both have well marked menu’s with a good range of options. A recent find at Katoomba was the Palette Diner where v stood for vegan options making it easier to find options for my daughter who is dairy free as well. The Must Try is the gluten free crumbed chicken and ribs as well as the vegan cauliflower. Servings are generous so don’t make our mistake and over order.
5. Technology can be very useful – Trip Advisor is a great app for checking out whether local restaurants can accomodate special dietary needs, however I would still ring ahead and check if something isn’t marked. Leura Garage was good at listing gluten free options but seemed rattled when asked about dairy free and surprisingly had dairy in the roast lamb. Possibly it wasn’t a good day to check with the server but overall they didn’t handle a request particularly well and options were very limited.
Its 2019 and one in six children now have allergies or food intolerances so its increasingly important that restaurants and cafes manage intolerances as well as possible. Recently we were in Oberon and arrived after 230 so most places had shut. We ended up buying a picnic lunch at the local IGA as there wasn’t anywhere that could accomodate gluten free.
Let me know if you have any good tips for managing travel with allergies in the comments below.
These symptoms can be really frustrating and options are often limited to managing symptoms, but they all have one thing in common.
They can all be caused by food intolerance/sensitivity!
So how can you get to the core of the problem and get REAL RESULTS?
Even if you have a healthy, balanced diet this doesn’t mean you will be symptom free as it may not necessarily be the right diet for you! That is why food compatibility testing can help you get results as it can help to explicitly identify what does and doesn’t work for you.
Over my 12 years in practice I have tried a number of approaches based on my training and subsequent study. Initially I would try and find the perfect homeopathic remedy which really didn’t work as much as I would have liked. Then I tried the Naturopathic detox approach – identify and remove allergens (usually through an IGG test) and then heal and seal the gut. Lots of products and a reasonable success rate but quite expensive from the point of view of the testing and the supplements.
It is also important to remember that particularly with skin cases it can often be external factors as much as the diet that can be triggers. Sometimes you need to be a bit of a detective . I always remember seeing a client who had puffy eyes for 10 days where nothing was helping. On questioning her the new curtains in her room from China had gone up 2 weeks earlier. Knowing that these materials are often packed with chemicals I simply got her to remove them for a few days and it cleared the problem.
In previous blogs I have covered the options available for different forms of testing however currently I am recommending the Bio-compatibility Hair 500 foods and household chemicals for six main reasons;
Its SIMPLE AND EASY – It only requires a hair sample!
It is MOST COMPREHENSIVE – It covers 500 household foods and household chemicals. Including all food groups, bathroom, laundry and kitchen products and even local brands found in supermarkets and health food stores!
It is the BEST VALUE – $259 for 500 foods vs the same or higher cost for only 40-90 foods
It’s NOT INVASIVE – No blood sacrifices required! (Trying to get a blood test from a toddler is not fun!)
It is EASILY UNDERSTANDABLE – The results come like a shopping list so its easy for you to see what works and what doesn’t for your body.
FREE INITIAL CONSULT – I am currently offering a free 15 minute consult to see if Bio compatability hair 500 is right for you!
In the past skin cases were one of my groan cases – I knew it was a long process and most people want quick results and they often didn’t see them fast enough. Sometimes these cases even get worse before they get better. This process has really helped achieve some great results for clients where they have tried other options, particularly with eczema cases but also with some more complicated auto-immune conditions. In most cases clients who are compliant would see some reasonable progress in 4-6 weeks and sometimes earlier.
If you are interested in using it I do offer a FREE 15 minute consultation to see if it is suitable for you. This is not a quick fix but rather a focused process with some dietary changes required based on your individual results. You can call my clinic reception on 8084 0081 to set up a time or email me at email@example.com for more information.
If you are not based in or around St Ives then please email me at Christine@elementalhealth.net.au and I will find a local practitioner for you.
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.
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 Cafeat Springwood and Papadino’sat 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 .