Coeliac Awareness Week 2012 from 13-20 March

These days everyone knows a Coeliac or someone with wheat intolerance. According to Coeliac Australia “Coeliac disease affects approximately 1 in 100 Australians. However 75% currently remain undiagnosed. This means that approximately 160,000 Australians have coeliac disease but don’t yet know it.” Luckily there are so many alternatives to wheat, spelt, semolina, barley and rye, the grains containing gluten.

I am a big advocate in constantly mixing up the foods you eat. Your body thrives on eating a wide variety of grains, vegetables and proteins. Great alternatives to the gluten grains are corn, millet, rice, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and legumes like chickpeas.

By cooking with these whole food alternatives you get the full nutritional benefits as apposed to buying other highly processed products with the gluten chemically removed. With a small bit of research and a trip to your local food co-op or whole food store you can easily cook a wide range of foods you love completely gluten free.

Sunday morning is made very special by cooking up a wholesome stack of Buckwheat Pancakes for your loved ones. These are so simple to make even the kids can help out. By serving these pancakes up, with fruits that are in season, you can keep the recipe fresh and new all year round. Stack the warm pancakes up high, pile on the fruit and drizzle with naturally low GI Agave Syrup or whole organic yogurt.

The thought of entertaining guests with special dietary requirements can be enough to make even adventurous home cooks nervous. A tart is a great option to cover a range of pallets and requirements. They are delicious vegetarian and can be made Celiac friendly by using chickpea flour pastry.

Try this classic spinach and feta recipe as the centerpiece for your table at your next dinner party or customize it to your own taste using seasonal ingredients. By using the chickpea flour and organic county butter to create your own short crust pastry you are making something really unique and special that will beat “hands down” any store bought frozen option. There is always a great sense of achievement when you can tell your guests that you made everything from scratch.

While it is still cool outside it is nice to have a warm side dish. A warm salad using my favourite grain, quinoa, bright green veggies and a zesty dressing is a great accompaniment to the smooth mild flavours of the tart.

Quinoa is a champion of both vegetarian and gluten free cooking. It’s high protein content makes it very attractive to vegetarians. It is easy to prepare and completely versatile lending itself to be used in salads and with curries, bean dishes and stir-fry’s.

Chickpeas too, are a wonderful ingredients for vegetarians. They are also high in protein and work well with Mediterranean and Asian flavours. Chickpea flour is particularity appealing due to it’s unique flavour and versatility. Coeliacs out there… you should really give this a try.

For a full list of gluten free recipe ideas check out the ‘gluten free’ section on my site.

Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup wholegrain buckwheat flour
1 cup almond milk
1 organic free-range egg
1 pinch salt
1 cup fruit of your choice
2 tablespoons agave syrup

Add the flour, milk, salt and egg to a bowl and whisk until well combined.
Set the mixture aside for 10 minutes.
Melt butter in a medium/hot fry pan.
Pour 1/6th of the mixture into the centre of the pan and rock the mixture around until a thin layer of batter coats the bottom of the pan.
Return the pan to the heat.
Flip the pancake when small bubbles appear all over the surface (about 2 minutes) and when the underside is golden brown.
Cook the second side for a further 2 minutes or until it too is golden brown.
Form a stack on a warm plate and serve with the fruit and agave syrup.

Coeliac Friendly Spinich and Feta Tart

(This is a large tart that will serve 8 people)

350g organic besan (chickpea) flour
125g organic country butter
pinch salt
cold water
small amount of gluten free flour (eg. rice flour)
1 cup of dry baking beans

4 cups spinach
zest of 1 organic un-waxed lemon
200g feta cheese
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
9 organic free-range eggs
1 cup organic whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Wiz the flour and butter briefly in the food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Slowly add the cold water a small bit at a time until the pastry mixture just forms a ball.
Refrigerate the ball of pastry for 30 minutes.
Grease a large pie dish.
Roll out the pastry on a floured board until it is slightly larger than the pie dish.
Lay the pastry into the dish and press out evenly.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Trim the edges of the pastry neatly.
Preheat the oven to 190 degC.
Poor the baking beans into the dish of pastry and blind bake in the oven for 0 minutes.
Remove the beans and return to the even for a further 10 minutes.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 160 degC.
Wash the spinach leaves, roughly chop then sweat in a pan for 5 minutes.
Cube the feta cheese and place evenly into the baked pastry case.
Layer in the cooked spinach, lemon zest and salt and pepper.
Lightly whisk the eggs and milk together and poor into the pasty case.
Back for 40-50 minutes or until the filling is sold and golden brown.
Cut into wedges and serve hot.

Warm Quinoa Salad

½ cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 bunch of broccolini
1 large handful of green beans
leaves from a small bunch of fresh coriander

1 large lemon
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly wash the quinoa.
Bring the quinoa to boil with the water in a medium size saucepan.
Once boiled immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting for 15 minutes.
Top and tail the beans and slice the broccolini in half lengthways.
Blanch the vegetables by submerging them in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Assemble the salad by adding the warm cooked quinoa, warm blanched vegetables and coriander leaves to a large mixing bowl.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Poor the dressing over the salad and mix well with tongs.
Serve warm.