The search for gluten free sponge fingers is almost over

sponge fingers
For the love of sponge fingers…

You can get almost anything gluten free nowadays.

But there are still some foods which are proving ilusive.

Amisa seek ways to provide organic alternatives. As such they’ve brought out gluten free organic porridge oats, a gluten free falafel mix and various coeliac friendly crispbreads including one made from the nutritious grain amaranth.

However, it still seems impossible to find gluten free sponge fingers in the UK, which is a shame because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll love ’em, especially in a tiramisu.

Amisa do produce spelt sponge fingers which are not quite the same thing, but still very useful if staying organic or avoiding wheat is your only requirement.

Still, knowing Amisa, I can’t see it being very long before they manage to bring out a gluten free version.



Pasta galore! In more flavours than you could possibly think – recipe below

Forget fish and chips or curry, pasta is the nation’s favourite when it comes to choosing what to cook.

In many UK homes Italian food is served 2-3 times a week with “spag bol” in top position as the most cooked meal.

Pasta - everyone's favourite meal
Pasta - everyone's favourite meal

Imagine pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, rocket and walnuts; or goats cheese and honey ravioli; or creamy spinach and asparagus fettuccine – it all sounds soooo delicious, but if you have a friend with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) it’s immediately off the menu.

Still, IBS sufferers can eat pasta if it’s not made from traditional durum wheat. Biona have spaghetti, fusilli and tagliatelle all made from spelt, a more ancient grain which doesn’t effect people with IBS.

In fact pasta can be made from corn, rice, kamut, buckwheat, amaranth, millet or quinoa; vegetables are often used in pasta too.

Using other types of pasta also means a bigger range of flavour: nutty or sweet, firm or rich in texture. Choose the right kind of pasta and you really can amplify how your dinner will taste.

Here’s a buckwheat pasta recipe called Pizzoccheri – it’s a great comfort food.

125g butter
1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 medium potatoes, cubed
300g dried buckwheat pasta
1 small savoy cabbage
100g brie sliced
100g grated mature cheddar
50g grated parmesan
salt and pepper
a pinch ground nutmeg

1. In a small pan, melt the butter together with the cloves of garlic and the sage. Keep on a low heat so it does not burn.
2. Cook the pasta in boliling water for about 15 minutes (buckwheat pasta takes longer then normal pasta).
3. At the same time boil a second pan of salted water. Shred the cabbage leaves and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and place in a large serving dish. Keep the pan of water.
4. Add the potatoes to the same water and boil until very tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and add to cabbage.
5. When the pasta is cooked to al dente. Drain and toss in with the cabbage and potatoes. Mix in the cheeses.
6. Pour the butter over the top of the pasta and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Gluten-free pasta

When it comes to gluten-free the Italians are well educated about Ceoliac disease. All Italian children are tested for gluten intolerance by the time they are 6.

We get a little benefit of their know-how with companies like Buontempo who price their gluten-free pasta at very competitive prices. And our very own Doves, the British purveyor of organic and gluten-free flours, has an organic gluten-free pasta range where the pasta is made in… well Italy, obviously.

There are so many pasta companies out there who are worthy of a mention. Barkat, for example, is a special diet company who have just introduced it’s own gluten-free macaroni.

The best thing to do is to type ‘pasta‘ into the GoodnessDirect search box and then use the brand guide on the right to check through the different options.

Creative Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are essential for health. They provide our bodies with essential energy. The best sources come from whole grains such as whole wheat, oats, wholemeal rice, barley, rye, spelt, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, corn and millet.

Why are they important?

These whole grains supply more than just energy. They are packed full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients plus fibre for a healthy digestion. They are good sources of antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals including iron, magnesium and selenium. Whole grains tend to have a lower glycemic index than refined grains so are useful for stabilizing blood sugar levels. They contain a range of phytochemicals, phytoestrogens and lignans which may protect against certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.

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For optimum health we should be eating 3-4 servings of wholegrains every day. Include a variety to maximize health benefits. Whole wheat, rye and wholegrain rice are probably the most familiar. They are all highly nutritious, rich in protein and good sources of B vitamins to help nourish the nervous system. Barley which is easily digested is a rich source of fibre, iron, calcium and protein. Pearl barley has been more intensely milled. Pot or scotch barley retains a portion of its bran layer and has a higher nutritional value. Oats are renowned for their high fibre content and ability to lower cholesterol. They are also a good source of vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and manganese.

Quinoa and Amaranth are pseudo-grains but used like grains in cooking. Both are exceptionally rich in protein and contain plenty of calcium, iron and B vitamins. Buckwheat, which is actually a fruit of a plant related to rhubarb is a wonderful alkali-forming grain which when roasted is known as ‘kasha’. Being high in fibre and silica it can help support the intestines and contains rutin, known to strengthen capillaries. Millet is also protein rich and easily digested.

As well as using these grains in their whole form try them as flours or flakes in recipes. Many can also be sprouted.

Christine Bailey © Naturally Good Health in connection with Natural Health Week