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The Rise of the Gluten-Free Diet Coeliac Disease

17/06/2014 14:01 BST | Updated 15/08/2014 10:59 BST

Many people in this world watch their diet. Some have to watch what they eat due to a variety of food allergies, but 1 in every 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease and have to steer clear of foods that contain gluten for life.

For those that don't know, gluten is a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley and rye and if you went through your weekly shop you can guarantee the shopping trolley would contain quite a few items that contain gluten.

People sometimes mistake coeliac disease with a food allergy, which it isn't. It is in fact an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten. There is no cure and no medication and the only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet

So what can happen to people with coeliac disease if they continue to eat foods that contain gluten?

Well there is the obvious tummy related symptoms which some people get but there are a number of other symptoms too that I won't go into too much detail about, but life could get pretty serious if left untreated, including infertility, osteoporosis and small bowel cancer. It is essential however, that anyone that has symptoms should not cut gluten out of their diet until they are tested for coeliac disease as you need to be consuming a normal gluten containing diet for a minimum of six weeks prior to the tests (initially a blood test then a biopsy) as otherwise you could get a false negative result.

Recently Coeliac UK, the national charity for coeliac disease (www.coeliac.org.uk) launched a campaign for consumers to support the 'Gluten Free Guarantee' which asks supermarkets to commit to stocking eight core items of gluten-free food. The Charity recently announced the rate that people are being diagnosed has risen fourfold over the last two decades. However, although the number of cases are rising, there are still around half a million people in the UK undiagnosed.

I have to admit the selection is getting better but the choice needs to constantly evolve and improve. Coeliac UK estimates that the gluten-free market is worth £100million a year to the catering industry and with more and more people diagnosed this will only grow.

Being head of food purchasing and menu development for the 50 strong restaurant group, La Tasca, means that I always have to look at the menu to see how we can improve and develop dishes to suit everyone. Over time we developed a delicious gluten-free menu that was recognised back in 2012 by Healthy Food Guide as 'Best for Gluten Free'.

We now have 32 delicious gluten-free dishes for people to try and I can assure you, they really are full of flavour and will completely tantalise your taste buds.

Hopefully supermarkets up and down the country will listen to the campaign and provide an ever-improving selection of gluten-free products.

Being a chef is a constant learning process, I like most chefs learn every day, I teach myself something I didn't know, I may learn from other chefs - new techniques and ways to create and serve tasty foods, one thing I cannot re-iterate enough though, is that Mediterranean style recipes and the ingredients that go in them are often gluten-free, there are absolutely loads that are naturally gluten-free and these dishes I feel should be shared, loved and enjoyed by all..

I have a few gluten-free recipes in mind that I would like to share and I would certainly be interested to see comments from someone who hasn't tried gluten-free dishes before as well as those that have.

Three glorious gluten-free recipes for you to try:

ANTONY'S DAHLIA SALAD WITH manchego & clementine

Note: This recipe was created in the pepper fields of Extremadura right next to the traditional smokehouses. The peppers Antony used were picked fresh ready to be smoked, dried then milled by Antony's supplier Jose Hernandez S.L.just outside Jaraiz de la Vera

Serves 2 people

Prep time: 20 - 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 chicory

5 radishes

2 clementines

1 sweet chilli pepper

1 small pack of fresh flat leaf parsley

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1tbsp pedro ximenex sherry vinegar

½ a lemon

1 tsp pimentón de la vera dulce (smoked sweet paprika)

1 pinch flaked sea salt

50g Manchego cheese

CROCKERY/KITCHENWARE

1 large mixing bowl

1 serving plate

1 speed peeler and cooks knife

METHOD

1. Cut a 5ml slice the base off of the chicory, you should find that the first 4 to 5 leaves just 'pop off' really easy, when they become a little more difficult to pull off, cut the base again and repeat until all the leaves are off and you are left with a core. Take the core and slice into little rounds. Rinse the prepared chicory under cold running water and drain in a colander.

2. Slice the radish into thin rounds. Rinse and pop into a big bowl with the chicory and set aside. Peel the clementine; slice each clementine into about 6 round slices.

3. Slice the chilli pepper into thin slices, again following the theme above in round slices.

4. Tear the stalks off the parsley and roughly chop. Add the clementine slices, chilli pepper and the parsley to the bowl with the chicory and radish.

5. Drizzle in the olive oil, sherry vinegar and the pimentón de la vera. Roll the lemon onto the work surface to release the juices, cut in half and squeeze in the juice.

6. Add a pinch of flaked sea salt, with clean hands mix the ingredients together in the bowl; hands are best to ensure all the ingredients are evenly mixed and the delicate chicory leaves are left intact.

7. Transfer the salad to a serving plate, layering all the ingredients so everything can be seen.

8. Using a speed peeler, carefully shave the Manchego cheese over the top of the salad and drizzle again with the extra virgin olive oil and a final pinch of pimentón de la vera.

This salad is perfect on its own, a nice suggestion - would be to serve it with lovely grilled chicken, salmon or any white fish! Just make sure that these dishes have not been contaminated with gluten during preparation before serving them to your coeliac guests.

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ANTONY'S CHORIZO WITH Padron Peppers & Marcona Almonds

This recipe was created under the encina trees in Salamanca, in the oak woodlands where Antony's supplier Simon Martin allows his Iberico pigs to roam freely in over 15kilometres and naturally graze on acorns!.

Serves 2 people

Prep time: 20 - 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

100g marcona almonds

250g fresh gluten-free chorizo sausage, sliced into rounds about ½ a cm in thickness

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

200g padron peppers

1 pinch flaked sea salt

1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Zest of ½ a lemon

CROCKERY/KITCHENWARE

1 large non-stick frying pan

1 serving plate

1 zester and cooks knife

METHOD

1. Place a non-stick sauté pan onto the stove over medium heat and when hot, add the almonds to dry fry (toast) them. Cook for about 1 minute on each side until they begin to brown. Once lightly browned remove from the pan and place onto a separate plate. Set aside ready for the next stage.

2. Drizzle in 1 tbsp. of olive oil into the pan, once hot add in the chorizo, quickly spread it over the surface of the pan so that each slice is in contact with direct heat, cook for 1 minute allowing it to take on a nice browned colour and begin to crisp.

3. Now add in the padron peppers, mixing through the chorizo to turn everything over in the pan, again make some space for everything to cook evenly. Continue to cook on the medium heat for another 2 to 3 minutes until the pardon peppers soften and the skin blisters and bubbles up.

3. Add the toasted almonds back into the pan, stir through, add a pinch of flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, reduce the heat and give it one final stir.

4. Remove from the heat and plate up, piling everything onto the plate as evenly as you can!

5. Grab the fresh lemon and grate some fresh zest all over the dish and add a final pinch of flaked sea salt and enjoy!

This dish is perfect on its own, a nice suggestion - would be to serve it with lovely freshly baked gluten-free crusty bread and crisp green side salad

Tortilla

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ANTONY'S TORTILLA WITH Jamon Iberico Bellota & Piquillo Pepper

This recipe was created Guijuelo, Spain's famous town of Jamon - where Antony visited supplier Simon Martin. Antony cooked this in Simon (Seniors) family bodega..

Serves 2 -4 people

Prep time: 30-35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

100g cubed jamon iberico Bellota ham

3-4 large white potatoes, peeled and sliced into 2-3mm thick rounds

5 tbsp. olive oil

½ large white onion, cut into thin slices

4-5 piquillo peppers, sliced into thin strips

1 small pack of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

8 free range eggs

flaked sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Zest of ½ a lemon

1 pinch of saffron

1 pinch of pimentón de la vera

100g mayonnaise

CROCKERY/KITCHENWARE

1 non-stick frying pan size 22- 24cm

1 small pan, 1 serving plate

1 zester and cooks knife

1 large bowl, 1 small bowl, 1 colander

METHOD

1. Place a non-stick sauté pan onto the stove over a low to medium heat and add the olive oil. Add in the sliced potatoes and the onion, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes.

2. Place a separate pan onto the stove over medium heat and when hot, add the jamon iberico to dry fry. Cook for about 5 minutes until the ham begins to brown and the fat released. Once lightly browned remove from the pan and place onto a separate plate. Set aside ready for the next stage.

3. Check that the potatoes and onions are cooked through, without colour. Drain into a colander, placing a bowl underneath to catch the olive oil. Keep the oil.

3. While the potatoes and onion begin to cool, whisk up the eggs with a small pinch of salt into a big bowl.

4. Add in the piquillo peppers, chopped parsley and grate in the fresh lemon zest to the egg mix. Spoon in the jamon iberico bellota and finally mix in the cooked potato and onions. Give the mix one final season with a pinch of flaked sea salt and black pepper.

5. Place the non-stick sauté pan back onto the stove over a low to medium heat and add 2- 3tbps of the olive oil used to cook the potato and onion and heat through. Place the tortilla mixture into the pan and pat it down, so everything is evenly distributed. After 2 minutes, carefully place a plate over the top of the sauté pan and remove the pan from the heat. Turn it quickly over the top of the bowl that you used to make the tortilla mixture in, to capture any runaway mix! Next slide the tortilla back into the pan. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on the lowest heat and then repeat the flipping process another 4 to 5 times.

6. Make the saffron mayonnaise, place 2 tbsp. of hot water into a little bowl, add the saffron and allow it to infuse for a few minutes. Once infused, add this to the mayonnaise and mix in a pinch of pimentón de la vera at the same time.

7. Check that the tortilla is ready, remove from the heat and transfer it onto the serving plate. Cut the tortilla into 8 nice wedges and serve with the saffron and paprika mayonnaise.

This dish is perfect on its own, a nice suggestion - would be to serve it with other gluten-free tapas dishes, try Antony's pardon peppers, dahlia salad or chorizo dishes....

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