Gluten Free — Fact or Fiction
The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Over the years, I have met loads of people with different food allergies, religious beliefs, or preferences.
In February 1981, I joined British Caledonian Airways as a member of the Cabin Crew. At the time it was considered a very glamorous job, not just a ‘trolley dolly! I was lucky to see many parts of the world, it was a fabulous experience, and I will always treasure those memories.
During our ‘pre-flight’ briefing, we would be told if any passenger had pre-booked a special meal, whether it be Vegetarian, Vegan, Allergic to Nuts or Shellfish, or a Kosher meal. Back in the early eighties, wheat intolerant/Coeliac didn’t seem to be recognised. I’ve learnt a lot since then.
Allergy or Intolerance?
To be a Vegetarian or Vegan is a choice. Although I must admit, if I had to kill an animal to eat meat, I’d be a Vegetarian! I know, I know — double standards.
To have religious beliefs, well, without a doubt that should be respected on all levels.
These are not actually life threatening, unlike allergies to certain foods, such as Nuts, Shellfish or Wheat.
Ask yourself, do you suffer with any of the following, they may range from mild to severe:
- tiredness/lack of energy
- any combination of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency
- severe or occasional diarrhoea, excessive wind and/or constipation
- persistent or unexplained nausea and vomiting
- recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating
- sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases)
- mouth ulcers
- skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- tooth enamel problems
- liver abnormalities
- repeated miscarriages
- neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (loss of coordination, poor balance) and peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)
If you have answered yes to any of these symptoms, it just might be that you suffer from Coeliac disease. Occasionally there is some confusion with wheat intolerance or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease. In any case, you should be professionally diagnosed by a health official.
In the early 90’s, my closest friend said she was having a Cheese and Wine Party, but one of the invited guests suffered from Coeliac disease and she didn’t know what to do about providing Gluten free bread or crackers. In the UK, Gluten free products was not so readily available then.
I advised my ‘bestie’ to just phone her other friend and ask her to bring her own, as she shouldn’t risk cross-contamination anyway…. There-in lay another long explanation!
The ‘other’ friend, also didn’t eat cheese very often, so I offered to make my Smooth Chicken Liver Pate, which everyone loves, and is totally Gluten Free… see the recipe below.
Fact, not Fiction or a Fad
Coeliac disease affects on average approximately 1 in 70 Australians. However, around 80% of this number remain undiagnosed. This means the majority of Australians who have coeliac disease don’t yet know it.
In the UK, Coeliac disease is common and affects one in 100 people. However only 30% who have the condition have been diagnosed, which means there are currently nearly half a million people who have coeliac disease…. Guess what — they don’t yet know.
And in the USA, an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has coeliac disease. It is estimated that up to 83% of Americans who have coeliac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
So not a Fad!
The big question? Why eat Gluten? These days there is such a wide variety of gluten free products available — just check out the links above, for a wealth of information.
Now for my ‘Party’ Pâté.
My Chicken Liver Pâté recipe is ultra-smooth, it is easy to make and freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. It serves approximately 12 people, so I divide the mixture into two containers. When the Pâtés are set, I put one in the freezer, covered tightly in clingfilm. To defrost, simply leave the Pâté overnight in your fridge and then about an hour before serving, remove from the fridge.
Note: Pale yellow livers are best, but not essential. If any part of the liver is green, please cut this off, as it is an indication that the liver has been in contact with bitter bile. Also, cut off any sinew.
1lb Chicken livers
1 thinly sliced onion
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
1 cup water
12oz Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Salt
1. Place the livers, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and water into a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then lower the temperature, cover the pan and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
2. With a slotted spoon, remove all the solids (discard the bay leaves), place in a food processor, fitted with a metal blade. Start to process the livers, adding the butter piece by piece. You may need to scrap down the inside of the bowl, sometimes pieces of onion cling to the sides. Now add the salt, pepper, and Brandy/Whiskey. Process again for just a minute or two, until the mixture is completely smooth.
3. Pour the mixture into your container/s (I personally use ceramic or glass) and allow to cool down, before covering in clingfilm.
4. Serve with gluten free toast. (Personally, I love the Vital bread from Schar.)
I’ve been making this Pâté for more than 30 years, for my family, friends, parties, and even Wedding receptions!
I sincerely hope that you enjoy it too. Bon Appetit.