Where to buy Gluten Free/Lactose Free in Dubai

Buying allergy friendly food is so much easier than it was a few years ago. Here’s where you can find gluten free and lactose free products in Dubai:

  • SPINNEYS: You will find a range of dairy free milks here. They stock soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. They also have a jam that is labelled gluten free, by a company called Duerr’s. They stock quinoa, gluten free rice cakes, gluten free flours, and other gluten free snacks like cookies, macaroons and tomato-cheese sticks by Mrs Crimble’s. They also have some gluten free pastas and rice noodles as well as rice paper wrappers. I use those for samosas! I’ve also seen some small crisp sized packets containing flavoured gluten free rice cakes. These were in the section for food for infants. They even stock products by Waitrose. The most amazing think I saw was gluten free vegetable stock by Kallo! I can’t have these due to other allergies, but if you can, then hooray!
  • CHOITHRAM: The Choithram that I’ve been to in Dubai Silicon Oasis has an aisle for health conscious people. They have rice cakes, quinoa, and dairy free milk.
  • CARREFOUR: I always buy my gluten free spaghetti from here. They stock this brand called Peacock’s and have a variety of gluten free spaghetti noodles which are white rice noodles, brown rice noodles and vermicelli noodles. This is the cheapest (7-8 AED) brand of gluten free spaghetti I have found in Dubai. Most cost over 20 AED and contain corn which is something I cannot have. Carrefour also stocks lactose free milk by Al Marai. Look for it in the UHT section. They also sell soy milk but I have never seen any almond milk there.
  • LULU HYPERMARKET: I have heard about Lulu’s stocking lots of gluten free food but I don’t usually go there so I don’t know what they have. I recently found out that they stock almond milk by a brand that I’ve heard about repeatedly, especially from consumers in the US: Almond Breeze. I don’t drink this because apparently there is some amount of soy in it, but everyone gives it great reviews!
  • HYPERPANDA: They have a tiny little section dedicated to gluten free food, which makes me so pleased. There, I have seen rice crackers, Peacock’s gluten free spaghetti, and quinoa.
  • HOLLAND & BARRETT: This is a small, nifty little store just outside Hyperpanda in Dubai Festival City. They’ve got quinoa and lots of gluten free grains and flours.

You can always also go to ORGANIC FOODS AND CAFE in Dubai Mall but I don’t usually go to Dubai Mall. (Can you blame me? It’s always so crowded and takes ages to get from one end of the mall to the other!) There is also a Waitrose store there. In both stores, you will find a range of allergy friendly products. I haven’t listed any here because I’ve never been there.

For quick reference, use the lists below when you go shopping. The first list is sorted by product type, and the second is by store.

SHOPPING LIST

  • Gluten free/lactose free rice cakes in Spinneys and Choithram
  • Dairy free milk in Spinneys, Choithram, Lulu Hypermarket and Carrefour
  • Lactose free milk in Carrefour
  • Gluten free spaghetti (Peacock’s) in Carrefour and Hyperpanda
  • Gluten free flours in Spinneys and Holland & Barrett
  • Gluten free jam (Duerr’s) in Spinneys
  • Quinoa in Spinneys, Choithram, Holland & Barrett and Hyperpanda
  • Gluten free snacks and treats in Spinneys
  • Rice paper in Spinneys
  • Rice noodles in Spinneys
  • Gluten free vegetable stock in Spinneys

SHOPPING LIST

  • SPINNEYS: Gluten free/lactose free rice cakes, dairy free milk, gluten free flours, gluten free jam, quinoa, gluten free snacks, rice paper, rice noodles, gluten free vegetable stock
  • CHOITHRAM: Gluten free/lactose free rice cakes, dairy free milk, quinoa
  • CARREFOUR: Dairy free milk, lactose free milk, gluten free spaghetti
  • LULU HYPERMARKET: Dairy free milk
  • HYPERPANDA: Quinoa, gluten free spaghetti
  • HOLLAND & BARRETT: Gluten free flours, quinoa
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Dairy Free Alfredo Pasta? Is it true?!

IT IS! IT REALLY REALLY IS!

I bought some rice milk the other day. Since I’m the only person having it at home, there’s quite a lot left over and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I started looking for recipes I could make using the rice milk. I googled for pasta sauces with rice milk and happened to find this AMAZING recipe for dairy free alfredo sauce by Chocolate Covered Katie.

It tasted so similar to the white pasta sauce that I used to make before my gluten free/lactose free days! I have been craving white pasta for so darn long and honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to taste like this. Why? Because this sauce is made from…

CAULIFLOWERS!

Can you believe it?! Holy Jalapeno! Cauliflowers?! But it tastes so so so gooooood! It tasted creamy and cheesy and so awesome! I generally hate the smell of cauliflowers when they’re boiled but this one didn’t smell much like cauliflowers at all! I can’t believe it! Finally a dairy free alfredo sauce that can be made without mock cheese and nutritional yeast (both of which I can never find in the supermarkets)! I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my tastes. This isn’t low FODMAP, mind.

Creamy, Dairy Free, Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Creamy, Dairy Free, Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooked pasta
  • Half a medium-sized cauliflower, cut into smaller florets
  • 1/4 cup rice milk (or any other milk you like). You might need more milk though. Read directions below
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
  • A little freshly squeezed lemon juice. 1 tbsp should be enough
  • Olives, tomatoes, and any other veggies to top with

DIRECTIONS

  • Put the cauliflower in a pot and pour in some milk. The milk should be enough for boiling the cauliflower in so it’s cooked well. Put as much is needed to cook the cauliflower. I would say for half a cauliflower, 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk should be enough.
  • Add 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then cover the pot and simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is soft and tender.
  • Pour contents into a blender or use your hand mixer and make a puree out of this.
  • In a saucepan, add some olive oil. Throw in some oregano, coriander leaves, and coriander powder. You can also add parsley, basil, garlic powder, etc. Saute until fragrant.
  • Add the cauliflower sauce and mix everything up so it’s all evenly distributed.
  • Add the pasta and mix.
  • Add olives, tomatoes or any other veggies

I actually forgot to add the lemon juice before boiling. I added it later, before making a puree out of the cauliflower and milk. Prior to that, the pot smelled like cauliflowers and that smell really puts me off. I hate eating cauliflowers that smell too cauliflowery. But adding the lemon juice made the smell go away! I was googling how to get rid of the smell when cooking cauliflowers, and an interesting tip I read online was to add a bay leaf to the pot. I might just try that some other time! Sounds cool!

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.

My Glutenscapades – Going gluten free

2 AM.

Late night munchies. Cookies? Gluten intolerant. Chocolate? Lactose intolerant. Air? Sounds delicious… meh.

Ripe banana with spots

Ripe banana with spots

So here I am, snacking on a banana, ready to tell you about why I am gluten free.

By the way, did you know that the black spots on bananas are a good thing? That’s when the bananas are ripe and sweet and less starchy – perfect to eat. Also, eat them in between meals – at least an hour before and an hour after.

In 2011, a few months after I graduated from University, I started experiencing anxiety, brain fog, and gastrointestinal symptoms which included stomach cramps and bloating. I also suffered from horrible back aches. Imagine being 21 years old and groaning every time you sit down or get up because of a swelling ache in your back. Or not being able to hang out with a couple friends because your tummy wasn’t feeling too good.

Oh yeah, and imagine things like that happening almost every single day.

I had no idea what was going on. I was feeling so sick all the time, wouldn’t go out, and I was feeling so out of it.

I lost a LOT of weight. I used to weigh around 50-51 kgs on average. I was down to 46 kgs. I went to see a nutritionist, gained all the weight back, but I was still feeling sick.

A friend suggested I take a closer look at my diet. 3451 google searches later, I began to wonder if I was lactose intolerant.

Farewell, dear dairy, since I must needs be gone. 

That’s what Shakespeare would have said if he were talking to dairy.

Symptoms got better but I still wasn’t feeling that great. It’s like when you’re running a temperature of 103 and it comes down to 102.

I kept a food diary recording everything I ate, the times I ate them, and the symptoms that followed. 2065 more google searches and I found a post by someone who was experiencing similar symptoms say it had reduced by going gluten free.

Exit gluten stage left.

It was so hard. But it was worth it. It was then that I realized…

Gluten is my nemesis.

Barely 2-3 days had passed since having cut out the obvious gluten from my diet and my symptoms were starting to go away. I thought what if I was just gluten intolerant but able to have lactose? I brought the lactose back in. Bad move. Symptoms returned but they weren’t as bad as the symptoms gluten brought on.

A few gluten/lactose free months passed and I wasn’t feeling perfect, but I definitely was feeling better. Then I thought let me try having some gluten and dairy again. I re-introduced the foods. Felt okay for the first couple days. I thought maybe it was all in my head. Maybe I’m not intolerant to these foods. Fast forward 2-3 weeks and I was cancelling plans again, staying home all the time because I was feeling sick, and the anxiety returned. It all happened in such subtle ways that I didn’t even realize I was slowly getting sicker and sicker day by day. By the end of the month, I decided I just didn’t want to eat gluten and dairy anymore. I just couldn’t deal with how sick it was making me feel.

I didn’t know back then that I should have gotten tested for Celiac Disease first to get that ruled out. So I’d encourage you to get tested before you decide to eliminate gluten completely.

I’m still not feeling completely better. Does that happen to the rest of you who are gluten intolerant? I don’t feel as good as I used to before I ever started experiencing these symptoms. I definitely feel better off gluten/dairy but is it normal to not feel as good as I did maybe 5 years ago?  I still feel sick and also suffer from brain fog from time to time. The FODMAPs diet has been really helping me out with minimizing that. Look into that if you’re dealing with any tummy troubles. It’s worth a shot!

I met a doctor here in Dubai who didn’t seem convinced that my problems were food related. I told him I’m pretty certain it has something to do with gluten and dairy but he didn’t seem to believe me. He just prescribed some Fybogel. That was pretty helpful actually, but I don’t know why it was so hard for him to believe it was a food issue. On a holiday to India earlier this year, a family friend recommended an allergist in Mumbai. After the intraderm testing process, where they basically inject you to test your sensitivity to food items, I discovered that I was sensitive to the following:

  • Bengal gram
  • Black pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Red lentils/Masoor dal
  • Garlic
  • Green Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Dairy
  • Gluten

FINALLY I HAD A DOCTOR’S REPORT SAYING I WAS SENSITIVE TO GLUTEN! For the longest time, no one believed me! Everyone kept saying it was in my head, and to slowly eat a little gluten/wheat every day and build up tolerance and I was just all NOOOOOOOOOOO!

The test results made so much sense. I realized that I had already eliminated almost all the foods on the list because I always had stomach aches after eating them. To be on the safe side, I have also eliminated corn and soy from my diet.

So what do I eat, you ask? Every day is a challenge really. On days I’m feeling off, I tend to stick to eating ‘safe’ foods. Yes I get bored doing that. But it’s just not worth risking the possibility of feeling sick. I eat rice, potatoes, rice pasta, quinoa, beans, vegetables, lentils and fruit. You’d be surprised at how versatile some of these items are!

Anyway, that’s about it for my glutenscapades. Cutting out gluten and dairy has been difficult, especially considering the fact that im a vegetarian. It’s been worth it though. As parting advice, I’d say just listen to your body. It always pays. If you’ve been feeling ill and can’t figure out why, it’s worth looking at your diet and changing things around a bit. If you suspect you might have some food sensitivities, it’s worth going spending some time trying to figure it out. You’ll just be so glad that you did!