Tag Archives: vegetarian

Guest Post: A week as a vegetarian coeliac

19 May

My lovely wife Abby went gluten free for Coeliac Awarness Week to show support, here is her guest post on the experience:

AbbyYesterday marked the last day of Coeliac UK’s Awareness Week. Although I don’t have coeliac disease myself, since Kev’s diagnosis three years ago I am now an expert on all things coeliac and gluten free, and I’ve become an outspoken advocate for the rights of coeliacs to enjoy eating good food, both in restaurants and at home. Thousands of people use Awareness Week to raise the profile of coeliac disease by not eating gluten for seven days in support of sufferers of the disease. My participation in Awareness Week adds another restriction to my already restricted diet – for strong environmental and ethical reasons I am a vegetarian (no fish) of almost 25 years. Before Kev’s diagnosis he never ate meat in our house, an act of support which I truly appreciated. Unfortunately, I can’t show this solidarity when it comes to gluten because, as a vegetarian, protein is a top concern and most meat substitute products, such as Quorn or Linda McCartney products, contain or are contaminated with gluten. To ensure we both get protein, Kev and I often cook two versions of the same meal – one with real meat and one with Quorn. During Awareness Week this was not an option so last weekend Kev and I carefully planned out our meal plan for the upcoming Awareness Week.

As you know from Gluten Free by the Sea Mexican food is a staple in our house so we ate black beans (refried and as chilli) several times during Awareness Week. We also went to the Plymouth Coeliac UK Support Group dinner at JD’s Grill – I know Kev raves about JD’s all the time but it’s because the place is great for coeliacs and they have a good veggie menu too. The set menu for Awareness Week had two veggie options for starters and a veggie burger for the main course (plus a delicious sweet-potato-fries-with-vanilla-ice-cream dessert). OK, that was an easy version of eating out since it was pre-arranged, but last year I found myself in Padstow during Awareness Week and basically just walked around asking restaurants what they could do for a vegetarian coeliac until one chef offered to make me gf pasta with fresh wild mushrooms. Actually, that was only the second restaurant I approached so it pays to ask questions.

The majority of our food during the week was home cooked, but we did try two ready-made products: Clive’s Pies and a veggie lasagne and a burrito from Amy’s Kitchen. I’ve loved Clive’s Pies since I first tried them two years ago and it was convenient to have a ready-made gf and veggie product in our freezer to throw in the oven for dinner when I got home late one night. The only downside was that we had to walk into town to purchase them at Holland and Barrett – I wish they were more widely available. As for the Amy’s products, I don’t normally like ready meals, but it turned out Amy’s frozen meals are not like normal ready meals! There was no grease, they weren’t over salted and they tasted great. I was really impressed.

Overall it was fine being a veggie coeliac during Awareness Week since 1) we cook most of our own food, 2) I’m assertive and not afraid to order off-menu while eating out, 3) as a vegetarian I’m an avid label-reader, and 4) I was in the UK. I am on the road for work much of the time and the vegetarian coeliac abroad experience would have been much harder, particularly in China or Japan where veggie food is confusing due to the language barrier and lack of understanding about the concept. The best part of Awareness Week was not having to worry about my gluten-containing food contaminating the gluten free food in our kitchen – I normally have to wash my hands constantly while cooking to avoid cross contaminating Kev’s food. I also don’t know what I would have done had we had a barbeque – I love halloumi and veggie skewers but it’s not the same as a veggie burger or veggie sausage (don’t worry – we have a gluten free meat barbeque and a separate barbeque for veggie products and gluten). If Quorn had some gluten free options vegetarian coeliacs would have a lot more choice for protein and I could eat gluten free at home all the time.

Abby – @anaturalstate


Delicious Allergen Friendly Soup from Soupy Do!

15 May

Earlier this year I heard from Martyn Phipps who informed me he was setting up a new Plymouth based company, Soupy Do!, that would sell a range of freshly made soups.  Not only that but all of the soups in his range were to be gluten free, dairy free, low in fat and vegetarian.  In addition to that Martyn has since gone a step further and ensured that all of his soups are free from all 14 of the regulated allergens.  A true free from experience!

Soupy Do!

Soupy Do! produce seven flavours of soup which are; Carrot and Ginger, Continental Country, Italian Herb and Red Pepper, Spicy and Smokey Tomato, Super Green, Crimson King and finally Butternut, Cumin and mild chilli.  Martyn was kind enough to drop around some samples of the carrot, tomato and butternut varieties.  All three were packed full of flavour and quite spicy, which is right up my street.  All of the produce used to make the soups is sourced locally in Devon and Cornwall where possible.

I always like to know what inspires a producer to make gluten free foods.  Martyn said “I didn’t set out particularly to make them Gluten free, but awesome tasting, with all the health advantages that they provide. I have two family members that are Coeliac so know the trouble they have finding food that ticks all of the boxes. I couldn’t understand why taste had to be compromised to meet certain criteria, or so many other things added as a compromise, so I set out to prove to myself it could be done.”

Some of you may have sampled these soups at the Coeliac UK Plymouth Group AGM where Soupy Do! were present selling on the day.  The soups are available to buy in Plymouth and will be delivered by Martyn personally to your door.  The delivery area has now been expanded to South Hams including Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Salcombe.  Martyn is also currently investigating national delivery.  Minimum order for delivery is 1kg, with a £1.50 charge for Plymouth delivery, increasing slightly with distance.

I recently placed an order with Soupy Do! and I tried the Continental Country and Italian Herb and Red Pepper soups.  I’m pleased to report that both were delicious and I can highly recommend them.  They were milder than the first three flavours that I tried for those of you who are not as keen as me on spice.  You will also be able to buy these soups at several local markets in and around Plymouth including the new local produce market at Mount Edgcumbe.  Keep an eye on the Soupy Do! Facebook page for further details of other markets.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Black Bean Mexican Chilli

31 Dec

Guest post by @anaturalstate

I’m from the American South where Mexican is a staple of everyone’s diet and, as you may have suspected, Mexican food is big in our house here in Plymouth (see earlier blog posts about Wahaca and homemade refried beans). Cooking Mexican food at home is easy, healthy, cheap, and delicious – and almost all dishes can be simply converted to a gluten free version. This recipe for black bean Mexican chilli is naturally gluten free and is also one of my faves – it serves four, but can be easily halved or double (healthy GF lunches!). Once made, the chilli is freezable too. All of the below ingredients can be found at Sainsbury’s. You will need:


Olive oil

4 garlic cloves (chopped or crushed)

2 large onions (chopped) – I prefer red onions

3 tbsp sweet pimenton (Spanish paprika, or smoked paprika) or mild chilli powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 cans chopped tomatoes

2 cans (or boxes) black beans, drained

In a large pot, heat a bit of olive oil and fry the onions and garlic until the onions have turned translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the pimenton, cinnamon and cumin, and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the spices. The spices are ready when they start to smell fragrant. Add the vinegar, sugar, lime, tomatoes and beans and cook for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring once in a while. Serve up with jacket potatoes, potato wedges, and/or cheddar, feta or queso fresco cheese, use the chilli to stuff tacos, or even just eat it on its own. ¡Delicioso!


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