One of the most difficult aspects of cooking for a “free from” diet is working out what you can and can’t eat, and alternatives for the foods you can’t have, Go Free Foods founder, and queen of all things cakey, Charlotte Pike explains how to get started!
Not everyone wants to have a shop bought alternative – some foods just don’t work as well once you take out the wheat or dairy for example, but sometimes alternatives work well to enable you to enjoy certain dishes. So many more ingredients are much more readily available now thanks to numerous celebrities endorsing a “free from” diet. My aim is to provide some suggestions which might help you to find something new which you are able to eat.
Grains can be a minefield if you have a wheat or gluten allergy. Try quinoa, millet, teff and rice which are widely available and make a lovely alternative to couscous for example. Don’t overlook the humble potato either – a jacket potato or sweet potato mash are a wonderful source of wheat and gluten free carbohydrate.
Milk can be another problem area if you have lactose intolerance. Many people substitute cow’s milk for soya milk. However there are a number of people allergic to soya too. Oat milk and almond milk are lovely alternatives. I have noticed that they are much more expensive however, having seen a litre of almond milk retail for over £3, so here’s a recipe to make your own:
Soak a cup of almonds in water for 4-8 hours.
Drain and rinse the almonds until the water runs clear. Place into a blender.
Cover the almonds with water and blend on a low setting until the nuts have been broken down.
Add more water to fill blender up to the top.
Blend for 20-30 seconds on maximum speed.
Pour the milk through a sieve
Serve the almond milk, or store in the fridge for later. Raw almond milk can be stored in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
One of the lessons my partner and I learned very quickly when we had to adapt to a “free from” diet was that you can’t rely on readymade foods and sauces. It’s not as though we ate ready meals every night, but allergens are present in the most unexpected foods once you start to read the labels carefully. I cannot recommend enough the benefit of making your own food whenever possible. Instead of using a readymade curry sauce for example, make a simple sauce with spices (some readymade spice pastes are very good), coconut milk and tomatoes.
So with that in mind, check out the blog tomorrow for one of my favourite chocolate cake recipes using chestnut flour. It’s dense, moist and really delicious eaten warm!
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