Monday, 6 April 2015

Part 1 - What's in our kitchen? : Gluten-free essentials!

1. Gluten-free bread

Genius Soft Brown Sandwich Bread (535g・per slice/36g=98kcal)
rrp. £2.89 (But sometimes ones close to best-by are sold for £1.99!)

Gluten-free, wheat-free, daily-free!
Water, Tapioca Starch, Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Rapeseed Oil, Maize Starch, Psyllium Husk Powder, Treacle, Humectant (Vegetable Glycerine), Stabiliser (Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose), Dried Egg White, Yeast, Salt, Millet Flakes, Flax Seeds, Sugar Beet Fibre, Caramelised Sugar Syrup, Rice Starch, Preservative (Calcium Propionate), Flavouring.

David has tried quite few of gluten-free bread, and I've just tried a couple other than this one, which one time I almost died from choking because they were so dry...:D

And this is by far our favourite loaf of bread! :) They stay very soft, go very well with marmalade & honey & Nutella, and even make perfect toasties with bacon, tomatoes and cheese as well!

nb. Here is an interesting comparison of nutrients to show that gluten-free bread can lack some portion of nutrients...:)*

Gluten-free: Genius Soft Brown Sandwich Bread (535g・per slice/36g=98kcal)
rrp. £2.89
Wheat-based: Hovis Wholemeal Medium Bread (800g・per slice/40g=88kcal
£0.78 (from TESCO :D)

 (Nutrients/per slice)GeniusHovis
Energy412 kJ 98 kcal374 kJ 88 kcal
Fatof which saturates2.7g0.2g0.7g0.2g
Carbohydrateof which sugars16.2g0.7g15.1g1.6g
Salt  -0.36g

* I would like to note that this Hovis Wholemeal Medium Bread is one of the healthiest option from Hovis, so that the result might change if we compare them with different products like white bread loaves :)

2. Gluten-free spaghetti

Juvela's Spaghetti (500g・per serving/75g=267kcal)

Maize Starch, Soya Flour, Potato Flour, Rice Starch, Emulsifiers (Mono- & Diglycerides of Fatty Acids).

David's doctor used to prescribe him these spaghetti which we loved, but now that it's not available in our new area, we get own-brand ones from ASDA, TESCO, Sainsbury's, or Co-operative, each cost around £1.35-1.40 :) And we also get all kinds of pasta, penne, lasagne sheets as well:)

Personally I prefer the gluten-free pasta to wheat-based ones but some people might dislike the former ones as it does not taste much like normal pasta but similar to the flavour of steamed rice, or just at least to me :) For better or worse, I love them though I haven't had wheat-based pasta for so long time that I can't recall how the normal pasta tastes like anymore...:D haha

But sometimes cooking with gluten-free pasta can be disastrous especially when you forget or leave the cooked pasta in cooked water for a while, then they will highly likely turn into a bucket of spaghetti jello.... :D

Other than that, they are delicious! :)

3. Gluten-free White Mix Flour

"Dove's Gluten-free Plain White Flour" (1kg/ per 100g=350kcal)
rrp. £2.19 (around £1.70-1.80 from ASDA or TESCO)

Flour blend (Rice, Potato, Tapioca, Maize & Buckwheat).

I've tried some other flour from different companies but this is definitely my favourite! I use them mainly for baking, coating, and for making white sauce :)

When I bake, I prefer to just get this plain flour and make my own self-rising flour with 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder & just a pinch of salt for every one cup (around 240g) of this plain flour :)

For making white sauce, I sometimes get "ASDA Gluten-free White Sauce Mix and just heat up with some milk and voilà easy peasy white sauce for only 38p (2 servings)!

4. Gluten-free baking powder 

Dove's Farm Gluten Free & Organic Baking Powder" (130g)
rrp. £1.45 (£1.50 from ASDA)

mono calcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch.

I've never used other baking powder except this one, but this surely works amazingly every time I bake something :)

5. Gluten-free corn flour

rrp. £1.69

corn starch flour.

I got this for thickening sauce and coating, but seems like I don't use much.
But according to the Dove website, you can make more than 7 litres of gravy with this packet haha That's a lot, isn't it :D

But as for cheaper alternative, gluten-free "Brown & Polson Cornflour" (250g) is available only for £0.89 from Ocado :)

6. Xanthan gum

rrp. £3.00 (£2.50 from ASDA)

Xanthan gum

This is amazing :) I have been using this quite sometimes by now, and seems like this makes baking stuff moist! Also, this can be used to emulsify or thicken sauce as well as somehow help make ice cream :)

But please be careful with the amount especially when you try to open this product...!

The lid wouldn't open when I was trying to make this cheesy mustard sauce for fish meal, and when I finally opened it, large portion of it with the lid fell off inside the sauce and it eventually transformed the sauce into custard pudding! :D

Anyways, I totally recommend this product for your cooking though I'm still not sure whether my pronunciation for this is right or not :)

Now that I did some more research on xanthan gum, it seems like some people are concerned about its effects on our health.

This is because xanthan gum is one of the additives, which I didn't think about before.

Though there seem to be no evidence that xanthan gum is harmful to our body as long as we don't over-consume it,

let me quote the following information from Chris Kresser's health blog which I think needs to be addressed:

"Based on the available evidence, the worst xanthan gum seems to be capable of (in adults) is causing some digestive distress in those who are susceptible by increasing stool bulk, water content, and sugar content. But as I just mentioned, those with severe allergies should also be careful.

I recommend that people with digestive problems generally avoid xanthan gum, not because there’s evidence that it could damage your gut, but because its structural properties make it likely to produce unpleasant gut symptoms."
£4.68 (can be delivered from Japan Centre, London - currently out of stock)

Soy bean (GM-free), salt, alcohol.

I found this beautiful description of this soy sauce so let me directly quote it here...:)
"Soy sauce is normally made from fermented soy beans, wheat and brewer’s alcohol and has become the basic sauce for all Japanese cuisine due to its rich, umami taste". 
"This is a plastic bottle of premium tamari soy sauce made without wheat for those who have allergies or are intolerant to wheat products. Brewed in a traditional style with specially selected, GM-free whole bean soy, this soy sauce has a rich, but mellow flavour. Whole bean soy sauces take longer to mature, but have a milder, more rounded flavour".(Source: Japan Centre Website)  
So, soy sauce for me is very important and I'm very happy that this particular product has been available in the UK as this seems to be one of the best gluten-free soy sauces in Japan. It is three times as expensive as ones in Japan - it would only cost around £1.70 in Japan...
But oh well I use it frequently, literally in everything, in pasta sauce, curry, omelette, fried rice, etc.

nb. There are many other gluten-free soy sauces available in various supermarkets for much cheaper, but I will not make any comment as I haven't tried them before.

8. Mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)

"Takara Hon Mirin" (300ml)
£4.69 (can be delivered from Japan Centre, London)


Glutinous Rice, Malted Rice, Alcohol, Sugar

Another essential for Japanese cooking! :)
I use this quite often as well as soy sauce :) You can use this to make lovely teriyaki sauce, to cook savoury meal instead of sugar, to soften meat, to get rid of fishy smell of seafood by marinating in it, or to make cheap sticky rice more delicious and shinier :)

9. Rice

Here comes my favourite food ever, and they are all gluten-free :)

* I love rice so much that browsing around rice section of supermarket makes me feel at home...:D

Though I know that basmati rice or long-grain rice is popular here in the UK, I often get paella rice or risotto arborio rice, which is very similar to the rice I grew up with that what you might call, "steamed sticky rice" :)

But lately, as I started to feel paella rice (500g for £1.10 from ASDA) is even too expensive, so I choose to get basmati rice instead (1kg for £1.48 from ASDA)...

Though I feel like I'm turning into such a stingy person..."a penny saved is a penny earned" right? :)

10. Stock cubes

"Knorr Chicken Stock Cubes" (200g/ 20 cubes)
£2.00 from ASDA

Lastly, they are gluten-free too! I've tried chicken, beef, and vegetables so far, but somehow these chicken stocks go very well with any kind of dish :)

Here's the bottom of the list :)

Of course, there are much more variety of gluten-free cooking ingredients in the world as well as in our kitchen, but the products listed here are the major products which we like to use or eat that I initially thought there was no alternatives - well, except for rice :D

In Part 2, I will write about our favourite gluten-free treats and food! :)



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