The Wait Is Killing Me!

OMG, THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS I AM WAITING FOR RIGHT NOW! IT’S DRIVING ME INSANE! I usually have endless patience (ask anyone – I can wait for you for hours if I don’t have anywhere to be). But this is like dangling meat, or actually, something else vegetarian that I can eat – like a fluffy baked potato, in front of me and expecting me not to go crazy. It’s RIGHT THERE!

  1. I am absolutely dying to bake these gluten free, dairy free, allergy friendly cookies. Everytime I want to bake them, my mom or grandmother aren’t there to help me. I’m only just starting to cook and bake so I need a little (read: a lot) of help.
  2. I have ordered lipsticks from Red Apple Lipstick and they have reached Dubai. They now need to be delivered to me.
  3. I bought a popsicle mould today from Ikea (they’re pink and yellow!). I obviously had to make popsicles as soon as I got home. Obviously. THEY ARE NOW IN THE FREEZER AND I AM WAITING FOR THEM TO FREEZE! IT HAS BEEN ALMOST THREE HOURS!

The popsicles are literally just killing me right now. I wish I had Jedi-like powers and could make my popsicle freeze. I am dying to try them out. I haven’t had a nice frozen treat in so long! I haven’t had ice cream or yogurt in so many months. This is so hard. I just hope they turn out good! I’ll be so sad if they suck.

Right now, all that stands between me and my popsicle is time. 

Quinoa Pilaf – Gluten Free, vegan, low FODMAP

I put up a pasta recipe before, suitable for those on the low FODMAP diet. I pretty much used the same recipe but used quinoa instead of pasta.

image

Quinoa Pilaf

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooked quinoa (Click here to read about preparing quinoa)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • Spring onions (green part only if low FODMAP)
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Other flavours you can use if you like are oregano, parsley, basil, cumin powder, fenugreek, garam masala, etc.

DIRECTIONS

  • In a saucepan, pour the olive oil and let it heat up
  • Add coriander powder, coriander leaves, and spring onions. Saute until fragrant
  • Add tomatoes. Stir it all and mix everything up so its distributed evenly. Do this for a few minutes until the tomatoes become soft.
  • Add some salt to taste
  • Toss in some quinoa and mix it all up so everything is nicely heated
  • Take the pan off heat and add olives
  • You can top it with broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.

ANOTHER IDEA

I just tried this and I’m eating it right now. It is phenomenal! Really really good! I used the leftover quinoa to make potato quinoa patties. Since there was a fair bit left over, the quinoa formed a sort of crust for the patties making them nice and crispy without breaking apart!

Gluten Free, Vegan, Low FODMAP Potato Quinoa Patties

I am crazy about potato patties. I absolutely LOVE burgers and I miss them so much since going gluten free. I used to make potato patties in a burger bun with lettuce, tomatoes, some onion slivers, cheese and ketchup. They used to be amazing! Now I can just have the potato patties. I’ve thought of making a ‘greenwich’ out of them by enveloping the patty with large lettuce leaves. Never got around to trying it.

I realized that since going low FODMAP, my protein intake has been on the low side. I work out a few times a week as well. I am also vegetarian. All of this meant that I needed to up my protein levels. BUT HOW?

The answer is quinoa.   This is a fantastic way to increase protein intake. You won’t even taste the difference!

Potato Quinoa Patties

Potato Quinoa Patties with Indian ‘Khichdi’ style rice

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

INGREDIENTS

  • Boiled potatoes
  • Cooked quinoa
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • Coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil (or any other oil you prefer)
  • Additional flavours or herbs you might like

DIRECTIONS

  • Simply mix all ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl using your hands. Make sure the potatoes get completely mashed while you’re mixing everything up.
  • Roll them into little balls
  • Pour some oil into a frying pan and let it heat up
  • Place the balls into the frying pan. This is a tip I learned from my grandmother. Without the chickpea flour or bread crumbs holding the potato patties together, they tend to break apart. Once the bottoms of these balls start browning, flatten them with a spatula and let it cook some more. When the bottom has browned and is as crispy as you like, flip the patty and cook the other side. (P.S. Patties made without chickpea flour or bread crumbs take longer to cook.)
  • When done cooking, place the patties on kitchen paper towels to absorb some of the excess oil

WHAT YOU CAN ‘CRUMB’ WITH You can use a few things to coat the patties with to hold it together. I used to use almond flour. Gets really nice and crispy but ever since hearing that it’s not ideal to heat up almonds or almond flour, I’ve stopped using it.

  • Bread crumbs (GF or regular)
  • Chickpea flour
  • Almond flour
  • Sorghum flour
  • A batter made out of ‘moong daal’ or yellow split lentils

I want to try sort of crumbing the patty with cooked quinoa instead of mixing it up. I wonder if that will create some sort of a crust. Has anyone ever tried this? Let me know if you have!

UPDATE: I’ve tried making the patties with some leftover quinoa pilaf. There was a fair amount left over and while mashing up the potato and quinoa together, some quinoa ended up on the outer sides. Formed a nice, crispy crust that minimized breaking!

WHAT TO SERVE WITH

  • You can have them plain
  • With tomato sauce, ketchup, pesto sauce, cheese, mayonnaise, etc.
  • With rice – I sometimes like to have it with plain Indian khichdi, or with ordinary rice that has been drizzled with lemon
  • With bread
  • In a lettuce wrap
  • Drizzle with a little lemon juice

Review: GF Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

I went to the Spinney’s store today while I was at the mall with a friend and picked up a box of this gluten free, vegan snack: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. Pretty tasty! It was nice to have something to snack on. I really miss the luxury of just hopping into the store and coming out with a packet of crisps or biscuits, maybe chocolate, and washing it down with a carton of flavoured milk. I want my childhood back!

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Anyway, have a look at the nutrition information.

9g per packet. Quite a fair bit of sugar, right? It actually was very sweet. Because of the cover image on the box, I assumed that each packet would have 2 rice cakes. When I opened up a packet, I was so surprised to find 5 in there! Holy Jalapeno! FIVE cakes?! WOW! Talk about value for money! The box cost 9.75 AED ($2.65) for 4 packets of 5 cakes each.

I found an offer on Amazon for Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. 6 packs for $21.60. That’s $3.60 per box. Cheapest I’ve seen online so far! Click on the image below to know more.

Click on image: Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes - $21.60 for 6 boxes

Click on image: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes – $21.60 for 6 boxes

There was another brand of rice cakes there called Kallo. I avoided that one though because on the label, it said that it was manufactured in a facility that also handles dairy products.

Mrs Crimble’s Rice Cakes were quite nice. Tastes so much like apples. It’s quite nice to pack with you on the go since they come in little packets. Drop one into your purse or keep some in the car and have a cake every now and then – travelling and working gets hard with gluten intolerance since snacks aren’t readily available when you’ve got the munchies. Long gone are the days of glorious Nature Valley and Alpen cereal bars! This is a good alternative for when you’re wandering on the city streets and there isn’t a gluten free restaurant in sight and your stomach starts making noises you didn’t think your body was capable of. I found it far too sweet though. By the time I reached the 3rd or 4th cake, I was starting to feel like I had just gulped down spoonfuls of sugar. It was like that sick feeling you get after eating too many chocolates. I would suggest eating it with something else to sort of lessen the sweet taste. I’m thinking of having it with a glass of almond milk, kind of like having cereal. Except I might have to mix it in my mouth. OR I could break it into smaller chunks and drop it in a bowl of almond milk. Yes, that makes so much more sense than mixing it in my mouth.

Review: Gluten free, vegetarian pasta at Carluccio’s, MCC

I ate a meal outside today after what seems like years! Going gluten free meant no eating out at all! But today was a pleasant little treat. For a birthday dinner, my friends decided to go to Carluccio’s at Mirdiff City Center. I had never bothered suggesting Carluccio’s before despite knowing about their gluten free menu because I read on their website that the gluten free pasta was made of rice and corn. I’m sensitive to corn as well. Darn it – one good gluten free restaurant in Dubai and I STILL can’t eat there, I thought.

As the waiter was handing out menus, I asked for the gluten free menu which was promptly whipped up. I was quite tempted with a couple dishes I thought would be safe for me. Mashed potatoes, but without dairy, was one option. A bowl of olives was another. Before you say that that’s weird, let me just tell you that in my defense, I love olives. I was thinking that if they couldn’t provide a pasta that was safe for me to eat, I’d just eat dairy free mashed potatoes with olives! Sounds yummy to me!

Waiting for the pasta of my gluten free dreams

Waiting for the pasta of my gluten free dreams

Everyone at my table ordered their food and I waited because I had a hundred questions to ask the waitress, Jen. Jen confirmed with the chef and assured me that they could use a gluten free pasta made of just rice. NO WAY! I was doing all I could to contain my excitement. I asked her about the tomato and basil sauce. I think I asked her about 15 times whether the dish would be prepared with any butter or cheese or dairy. She patiently answered my questions. I asked her about the oil. She said they would use olive oil. I told her I was sensitive to gluten, corn and dairy, and that I am also a vegetarian. By the way, I absolutely hate going to restaurants because I have to list all the 253462781 things I’m sensitive to. I usually have a small card-sized printout with me that lists all the food items that I cannot have but at the restaurant, I realized I didn’t have a card on me. Anyway, she assured me that the meal would be safe for me: no corn, no gluten and no dairy. I even apologized to Jen because I was repeatedly asking her the same questions again and again! But she was very helpful and very patient.

IT'S HERE!

IT’S HERE!

Jen kindly informed me that my meal would take a few more minutes since it takes longer to prepare. It came a LOT sooner than I expected! Oh mon dieu, it looked delicious! It had been SO long since I ate pasta with real pasta sauce, since I last ate in a restaurant, since I last ate with my friends! My friends were thrilled that I was finally eating a meal with them! They would often feel bad every time we went out for dinner because I wouldn’t get to eat anything. Usually, I just sit with an empty plate in front of me while everyone else eats. Then I go home and cry.

My beautiful tomato and basil pasta

My beautiful tomato and basil pasta

I took a bite. Was there some kind of mistake? For a good 5 minutes, I kept thinking what if they mixed up my order and gave me wheat pasta instead. I couldn’t tell the difference! It tasted so much like normal pasta! My friend even tried some and said it tasted better than the meal he had ordered! I had to call Jen back because I saw tiny black flakes on my pasta and I wondered if it was black pepper. (I’m sensitive to black pepper.) Jen assured me that there was no black pepper – she is the one who garnishes pasta with black pepper and/or parmesan and she had skipped my dish for that. Relief! I dug in. I dug myself into a pasta-filled abyss.

The chefs at Carluccio's, Mirdiff City Center

The chefs at Carluccio’s, Mirdiff City Center

The portion was very generous! I was so full! After the meal, I thought I’d meet the chef and thank him. Our server, Raju, took me to the kitchen counter where he introduced me to Chef Joel (2nd from the left). I told him the meal was great! I told him that I had finally eaten out after ages, and that I avoid most restaurants because they mix other ingredients that I’m sensitive to and the ingredients aren’t disclosed. Joel seemed pleased to hear that I had had a wonderful experience.

Before leaving, I thanked our server Raju, and hostess Jen. I told Jen she had been extremely helpful. It was great, really. I wanted to ask whether the pasta contained anything other than rice (if at all), and whether the chef was also handling other wheat items and if was there a separate cooking station for gluten free meals in order to avoid cross contamination, but I felt like I had asked them enough questions for the day! Perhaps next time!

And now, the part that you’ve all been waiting for: Did I have any reactions?

As of right now, about 3 hours after the meal, I am feeling fine. In fact, I’m feeling really good because I just drank some 7up, something I have been avoiding for months. I was feeling slightly bloated after the meal, but that’s probably due to the FODMAP content of the tomato sauce. No fault of the dish or the restaurant – simply the way my body handles fructose. Although however, it was such a mild symptom. I barely even feel any discomfort. I’m going to lay low on FODMAP foods for a couple days. My symptoms usually become highly apparent the following day, so the next 24 hours will answer whether I have any further reactions to the food. I doubt it, but I’ll keep you posted anyway!

UPDATE: 24 hours have passed. I am still alive. My stomach was slightly bloated and a little uncomfortable today after dinner. It has also been making odd noises, like those that a machine that needs to be greased makes. That might be due to the fact that there was about 7+ hours in between my meals. I was starving and that’s what might have led to the discomfort. Other than that, I feel perfectly fine. I was half afraid I’d  wake up feeling anxious and with brain fog. But I woke up thinking clearly and felt good all day. No back aches, no bloat, no brain fog, no stomach cramps. Carluccio’s, I approve!

All in all, I highly recommend Carluccio’s. The staff is friendly and receptive, and the ambiance is great. It kind of feels like you’re dining al fresco, because it’s so spacious and relaxed in there! I usually hate crowded, cramped places but I felt very comfortable here. The food is excellent too. My friends loved their meals. The only complaint I heard from my friends about their meals was about the steak which was a bit too hard; and that one of the pasta dishes turned out to be very spicy. Even so, majority of the dishes turned out great and this was actually the first time my friends were somewhat dissatisfied with meals from Carluccio’s. They’ve been to the restaurant several times and have loved the food. The restaurant even has some items customers can purchase, like their pastas and sauces. It’s all stacked up on shelves on the walls. Nifty! Visit the restaurant and try it out if you like. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be going there again to indulge in gluten free delights!

To summarize:

THE GOOD

  • Quick service
  • Staff was friendly and helpful
  • Staff had good knowledge about gluten intolerance and food sensitives
  • Good ambiance
  • Good food
  • GLUTEN FREE FOOD!

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

  • 2 out of around 7 or 8 meals were dissatisfactory (the steak was too hard and one pasta dish was too spicy)
  • They should advertise their gluten free menu more. I remember a couple months ago, when I had heard in passing that they had gluten free food. I didn’t want to go in to ask so I just looked at their menu from outside. I didn’t see any sign of gluten free foods so I never bothered stepping in. The only reason I knew they had a GF menu was by googling GF restaurants in Dubai.

WILL I BE GOING THERE AGAIN? 

  • Yes!

Gluten free, vegan, low FODMAP pasta

This is one of those recipes you turn to on your “off days.” You know, when you’ve just been glutened or something, and you’re trying to heal and want your digestive system to rest for a couple days so you eat plain and simple foods. Since I found out (the hard way) that too much tomato sauce/paste isn’t good on a low FODMAP diet, I’ve been looking high and low for a pasta recipe that would still have some flavour. For a long time, I was just eating pasta noodles topped with olives and lettuce because I was so afraid I would end up getting sick from eating a more complex meal. Yeah, that was awful. There was barely any taste and I was too afraid to even add any seasoning. Mind, this isn’t one of those extravagant, restaurant style pastas. It’s a simple home cooked meal with simple flavours. A bit bland for some perhaps, but a welcome change from eating only rice and potatoes on “off days.” I browsed recipe after recipe and finally ended up with the recipe below. I just wing it for the quantities. You can add how much ever you like!

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

INGREDIENTS

  • Pasta (I use Peacock’s Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Green onions sliced into small pieces (ONLY the green part if you’re on a low FODMAP diet)
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Dried oregano according to preference
  • Olives
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Any other herbs or toppings you like!

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook pasta according to directions on the packet
  • In a saucepan, pour some olive oil and let it heat up a bit
  • Add the coriander powder, coriander leaves, green onions and oregano. Saute until fragrant. You can also choose to add things like parsley, basil, celery, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Add tomatoes and stir it around a bit. Do this for a few minutes. I usually cook mine until it is a bit mushy but not like pulp or puree.
  • Add the pasta to the saucepan, mix it all up and cook for a few minutes so everything is nice and heated
  • Top with olives, broccoli, anything you like! I usually add black and green olives on top, and serve with a side of fresh lettuce

Cosmetics Companies on their Gluten Free Status

I’ve been emailing cosmetics companies to find out about how allergy friendly they are. I am on a mad hunt for safe, gluten free cosmetics. I just can’t find any in Dubai! So far, I have received responses from Annabelle/Marcelle, Avon, Beiersdorf, Boots, Ecco Bella, MaxFactor (P&G), Prestige, and Sephora.

  • ANNABELLE/MARCELLE COSMETICS
  • [22-07-2013]

“We acknowledge receipt of your email and would like to thank you again for your interest in Marcelle®and Annabelle®Cosmetics.

Further to your last email, we are pleased to inform you that the vast majority of Marcelle® products and Annabelle®Cosmetics do not contain any gluten or gluten-derived ingredients.  This should make your next purchases easier.

The products which do contain gluten and/or gluten derivatives and those you should avoid are as follows: (correction from the first email)

Gene Youth Regenerating Eye Care, Gene Youth Regenerating Day Care, Gene Youth Regenerating Night Care, Gene Youth Generating Serum Concentrate,  New.Age Comforting Foaming Cleanser, First Wrinkle Eye Contour Cream, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Eye Contour Care, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Day Care, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Night Care, Roll-On Deodorant and our I-Bronze Self Tanning Cloths.

**Regarding the tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate information ; we received confirmation that are not derived from wheat.

One issue remains: because we do manufacture products which contain gluten and its derivatives, we are unable to claim our facility a gluten-free plant.

For anyone with a known allergy or with sensitive skin, we strongly recommend always performing a patch test before using any new skin care product of any brand.

The patch test is helps determine if one may have allergic sensitivity to a product.  It is best performed by first applying the product on the inside of the wrist or elbow and wait 24 hours to observe any skin reactions or irritations.  If the skin does not present any abnormalities following the first application on the inside of the elbow, then the product may be applied on the neck.   Once again, it is best to keep the product on the skin for a minimum of 24 hours and evaluate how the skin reacts to it.  If there are no reactions on the neck, it is highly unlikely that the product would cause a reaction on facial skin.

All Content within this email is provided for informational purposes only; is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, you should contact your professional healthcare provider through appropriate means.

We take your inquiry very seriously and hope that everything is to your satisfaction. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can be of further assistance to you or should you require additional information.”

UPDATED TO ADD:  “Regarding the tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate information ; we can also say that it’s  dairy, soy and corn free.”

  • AVON
  • [23-07-2013]

“We have been looking at your enquiry and unfortunately we could not find any official report about Gluten. Although Avon sells very high quality products, there is always possibility of contamination during manufacturing or changes/substitutions of ingredients. As with everything related to Celiac Disease, Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Gluten Intolerance, products, ingredients and preparation may change over time; your reactions to a specific product, ingredient may be different from the reactions of others. Like eating at a restaurant, you have to make a choice whether to consume/use a product. This means that I cannot guarantee that a product is 100% free of gluten as I have not any official report.”

  • BEIERSDORF [Labello, Nivea]
  • [18-07-2013]

“Please be informed that Tocopherol (Vitamin E) and tocopheryl acetate are widely used as antioxidants in personal care products as well as in foodstuff and in pharmaceuticals. Tocopheryl Acetate we use in our products is derived from chemical synthesis. It is therefore an inorganic ingredient and shouldn’t bear any risk for the consumer.

Moreover, The Lipcare Angel Star does not contain any ingredients derived from wheat, rye, corn, oat (containing gluten) or soy. However, it can never be excluded that small traces may be found for production reasons as our raw materials are not investigated for traces of gluten or soy.

Beiersdorf cosmetics are not specially developed for people with celiac disease. The consumer should consult a physician which cosmetics are suited. In cases of severe allergies, new cosmetic products should be tested at the treating dermatologist.”

  • BOOTS NO7 COSMETICS
  • [02-08-2013]

“Further to my colleague Kirsty’s earlier email, please find below the answers you require.

No7 Stay Precise Liquid Eyeliner – Gluten free
No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation ? contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Lift and Luminate Foundation ? This product contains oats and soy and tocopheryl acetate
No7 Stay Perfect Blemish Cover – contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Natural Blush Tint Powder ? contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Intense Volume Waterproof Mascara ? Gluten free
No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder – contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Sheer Temptation Lipstick Cuckoo Coral – Gluten free

Can you please confirm if these products are free from gluten, wheat, corn, rye, barley, oat, soy and dairy?
Are they manufactured in a gluten free facility? We cannot guarantee that our manufacturing facilities are gluten free

Do you have a list of gluten free, soy free, corn free cosmetics products available in Boots? ? No This is an ongoing piece of work we are building, however this means contacting and reviewing every raw material from every supplier which will take some time

Also, a lot of your products contain tocopheryl acetate/tocopherol/vitamin E. Where is this derived from? Can you please confirm whether the source is from gluten, soy, or corn? Yes almost all of our mascara?s and foundations contain tocopheryl acetate as it has wide spread benefits. The source that we use is synthetic”

  • ECCO BELLA
  • [19-07-2013]

“Regarding your product questions, all Ecco Bella products are 100% gluten-free, wheat, rye and barley-free and dairy-free. We do use organic extract of oat in the leave-on invisible exfoliant/blemish remedy. There is organic grain alcohol used in the parfums is derived from corn. Our vitamin e tocopherol is derived from soy and the vitamin e tocotrienol is from palm.”

  • MAXFACTOR (P&G)
  • [04-08-2013]

“Hello and thanks for taking the time to write to us.

If we add gluten, wheat or wheat extract to a product, it will be listed in the ingredients on the label. The only exception in which it won’t be listed in the ingredients on the label is if wheat or wheat extract is added to the perfume at a very low level.
If you are concerned about using a product with a perfume, we recommend you use fragrance-free products, not unscented products. Unscented products may contain a fragrance to mask the smell of the ingredients.
As our products are used on the hair and skin, it would be very unlikely that a person with a wheat intolerance or celiac disease would have a reaction from trace amounts of gluten.

If you are not sure, speak to your doctor.

Thank you again for contacting us.”

I wrote back to P&G asking if they could confirm the source of tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate in their products. This was the reply I received:

“Hello and thanks for taking the time to write to us.

All the information regarding the ingredients of our products are available at http://www.P&G.com

Thank you again for contacting us.”

  • PRESTIGE COSMETICS
  • [30-07-2013]

“We apologize for the delay in answering your request as we only just received your e-mail due to a ‘computer’ glitch.

Gluten free products are not necessarily produced in a Gluten free factory.

However, all equipment prior to manufacturing is cleaned and sterilized to prevent cross contamination.

Tocopheryl Acetate and Tocopherol used in our formulas are synthetically produced.”

  • SEPHORA
  • [31-07-2013]

“Thank you for contacting Sephora.com regarding our gluten free products.

To view a list of brands that we carry that are gluten free, please visit this Sephora Advice page:

http://community.sephora.com/t5/Products/Gluten-Free-Products/td-p/142507”