On the road with coeliac disease

14 11 2013
YAY - Real gluten free hot chips bought in Burnie, Tasmania.

YAY – Real gluten free hot chips bought in Burnie, Tasmania.

The statistics say one in every hundred people have coeliac disease.  That’s a pretty high statistic and I’m sure we’re not the only people who are travelling and have to keep a strict gluten free diet for one or more of their family members.  Many people have food intolerances and whether you’re travelling for an extended period of time or just a week or two these intolerances can pose a few challenges along the way.

I think most people would agree the biggest challenge with being gluten free is …. bread!  There is NO gluten free bread that equals the usual wheat based, fresh, soft, crusty, beautifully aromatic …. ahhh STOP – even writing about it is making me salivate and yearn for this simple pleasure I no longer enjoy.  That effortless, cheap sandwich on the side of the road is a no go for us.  Although there were plenty of times we were all tired, VERY hungry and wanting a quick lunch and if we had the luxury of being in a town that sold gluten free bread we would by a loaf (even though it’s aways around $7 a loaf), a packet of ham, packet of sliced cheese and put them together outside the grocery shop and eat away.  On the occasions when the shop didn’t sell gluten free bread which would happen often enough, corn or rice thins it was with cheese and salad or peanut butter and honey.  This required more than a chair outside the grocery shop.  We’d look for a park with tables for the cutting up and assembly of the corn thin lunches.  This was our usual lunch on the go plus a piece of fruit and to dress it up a little some dips, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, cream cheese would always add some flavour.

Who loves hot chips?  Just about everyone I think, especially after you have one …. you generally can’t stop.  Chips should be an easy gluten free find, but if you’re coeliac and you can’t tolerate traces of gluten, then when they also fry the battered fish, scollops, battered savs etc all in the same oil, the chips are a no go.  Tasmania has many fond memories of hot chips as we found the few places that cooked their chips separately, but as for the rest of Australia the memories are few.  Google becomes your friend.  The best way we’ve found suitable places to buy any form of take away food is via googling the town and gluten free.  From experience if we haven’t found it first on google and still persist and go from door to door asking, we’ve been disappointed and end up hungry and frustrated.

Apart from trying to grab something out and about gluten free is not so bad.  Thankfully we like to cook and the kids love to bake sweet yummy goodies.  We’ve worked out you can bake biscuits in the grill part of our stove if you turn them over half way, pizza’s made from gluten free wraps are great in the grill too.  We’ve purchased a “camp oven mate” from Southern Metal Spinners.   This allows us to still use our camp oven on top of our portable gas BBQ when we can’t have fires.  We bake cakes, bread and roasts regularly.

Another tip I highly recommend is to always check the freezer section or the “sale bins” of the grocery shop.  IGA Exmouth did us well with frozen gluten free hot cross buns (in May), both original and chocolate ones marked down to $2 a pack.  We ended up buying every single packet they had.  We’ve found many mark downs in regional towns for gluten free food that they obviously can’t shift.

A favourite of ours when feeling a little peckish for a nice afternoon tea or desert is a good old crumble.  We’ve made plenty the usual way in the camp oven but have also mastered the quick method using the stove.  Use which ever tin fruit takes your fancy or better still fresh fruit if you happen to have an abundance of something.  Doesn’t happen too often on the road, but occasionally seasonal fruit is cheap from the farm gates or better still you find it wild as we did blackberries in Victoria.  Warm it up in a saucepan, add a little sugar if needed and some cinnamon to taste – or you can leave it cold.  In a fry pan stir on a low heat 125g butter (half a normal size block), 1 cup of gluten free flour, 1 cup of coconut (or 1/2 cup of coconut and 1/2 cup of almond meal or 1 cup of almond meal) and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of brown sugar, depending how much of a sweet tooth you are.  Melt the butter and stir with the rest of the ingredients until it browns and toasts.  Sprinkle over your fruit, add fresh or long life cream if you have it on hand and ENJOY!

A cup of tea without a biscuit is a missed opportunity  ... specially cooked in the grill

A cup of tea without a biscuit is a missed opportunity … specially cooked in the grill

Catching your own food is very satisfying

Catching your own food is very satisfying

Hmmmm cake straight out of the camp oven

Hmmmm cake straight out of the camp oven

Pancakes over the fire.  Using our own mix - the gluten free premixes are terrible!

Pancakes over the fire. Using our own mix – the gluten free premixes are terrible!

Berry Crumble ... the best!

Berry Crumble … the best!

Using our camp oven in so many different ways

Using our camp oven in so many different ways

Making a berry crumble the traditional way in the camp oven

Making a berry crumble the traditional way in the camp oven

Fresh local produce is always the best!

Fresh local produce is always the best!

The camp oven mate in action

The camp oven mate in action

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