Ethos Cafe – gluten-free, vegetarian, raw haven

When I ventured to East West Organics in New Lynn recently, I observed a nice looking cafe. It was closed, but I thought I’d go back because it looked very inviting – wooden tables, light and airy and the menu looked nice too with LOTS of gluten-free options.

I duly went back with my husband and the two youngest children for lunch. Until we ordered for the small fry, I hadn’t noticed that the menu was vegetarian! We managed to find some lovely food – here’s a sample of our brunches!

Fritters

Big Brekkie

Buckwheat crepes

The building used to be part of a timber yard, and it has been beautifully converted. There were a large number of tables outside, which was lovely in the heat of the day. Do take a sunhat and sunscreen though. The food was great, although the small boys would have liked it a little faster. We finished up with cheesecake, rhubarb crumble and a brownie and it was all very delicious.

Do stop in if you’re want to eat good quality vegetarian or gluten-free food, or just wanting to try something a little different. It was a little pricier than a lot of the local cafes, but was very high quality food, so we were happy to pay it for an every now and again treat.

East West Organics

East West organicsWest Auckland has been a little lacking in wholefood stores which include gluten-free products. So I was delighted when I was driving along Portage Road in New Lynn a few weeks ago, and stumbled across East West Organics. I thought I’d mosey in and see what they had on offer.

At the front of the shop is an art/ craft gallery which has a very wide range of items on display in a small space and which made me want to stay and browse for longer. Following on from there is an airy, well laid out space with lots of mid-level shelving. There is a great range of product, and friendly and knowledgeable staff. There’s also a naturopath counter and natural health clinic, and I see from their website that they also run workshops in things as esoteric as beliefs and green smoothies as well as yoga classes.

Their pricing is reasonable – certainly in line with somewhere like Natural Organics – and the range of items includes vegan, organic, gluten-free food products all the way up to items like glass drinking bottles and an assortment of other environmentally friendly products.

East West Organics has a very comprehensive web page here and can also be found on Facebook. If you’re out in New Lynn, have a look – and you can even stop at the cafe attached to the shop, although be aware it doesn’t have the same opening hours as the shop. More about that in a later post.

East West Organics, 34D Portage Road, New Lynn 0600

ph 09 826 5454

L’Assiette gluten-free galettes

On a recent girls’ night out, we wandered the Britomart Precinct in downtown Auckland looking for something to eat. It was a Saturday night, and of course being in the CBD was heaving with people. Our first choices of restaurant all had waits of more than an hour and a half and we’re mostly old and a little boring and  didn’t fancy the idea of a really late night. Luckily one of our group remembered a little restaurant called L’Assiette.

From the outside, this looks more like a little cafe than anything else and we weren’t sure it was open for dinner. But we headed on in, and they managed to fit all eight of us at a table. I was delighted to see buckwheat galettes on the menu with the confirmation that they were gluten-free. It was really nice to see a menu item which was just a standard item on the menu. Not a special “we can make this gluten-free” not a “does this have gluten in it” just a standard menu item. Yay!!!

The menu was small, but there was enough variety that we were all very happy with the selection available. I of course ordered one of the galette, because wherever possible, I try and encourage people who make gluten-free things to KEEP making them! This is a smoked salmon and spinach variety and it was incredibly yum!

 

 

Lassiette

Service was great, the wine list reasonable, prices very good and we had a lovely evening. If you’re down near Britomart, stop in for a meal!

Ranga’s gluten-free refreshing drinks!

RangaI was lucky enough to be sent some Ranga drinks to try recently. I love Ginger Beer, so when they said they had an alcoholic version, I was keen to see what it was like. They also sent me through some Blackcurrant and Apple Cider and some Lemon Lime and Bitters – all alcoholic versions. I chucked them in the fridge and then we had a ceremonial family tasting.

Our verdict? The Ginger Beer was lovely – refreshing, gingery and nicely flavoured. The cider was extremely drinkable, but a little sweet for my tastes. It was very nice and had a lovely blackcurrant flavour – kind of like fizzy Ribena. The Lemon Lime and Bitters was probably my favourite. We were drinking these in the middle of winter, not the best time, so they lasted for a few weeks! I can’t wait to try these in summer, and think they’ll become a staple in our fridge.

These drinks are also gluten-free, and produced down in Gisborne, my home town, so a double tick in my book!Ranga bottles

Note: I wasn’t paid for this review, but I was sent some free samples to try. Thanks for letting me try them Ranga!

Christchurch Airport Gluten-free food – Coffee Culture

Coffee CultureI was in Christchurch recently and on two separate days, was in the airport for a breakfast and a lunch. I was a bit uncertain that I would find anything to eat, as airports can be a bit random. I was delighted when we walked into Coffee Culture to find that I had several options of both sweet and savoury food.

My colleague said that the coffee was good, and I found the hot chocolate very nice. I had sweetcorn fritters for breakfast with very nice field mushrooms. For lunch the next day, I had a savoury loaf/ muffin.

It’s always pleasing to come across a place which caters for the gluten-free amongst us, especially at an airport (Wellington airport is very good because of Wishbone, but Auckland isn’t nearly as gluten-free friendly). I’ll definitely be back to Coffee Culture next time I’m at Christchurch airport.

Koffee Kulture food

 

The gluten-free conversion process

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being gluten-free is converting recipes. It’s good fun! Healthy Food Guide give me a recipe each quarter to convert, and I thought it might be of interest to you all to know how I go about doing that!

Step 1

The first thing I do is make the original recipe. My kids love that part! The reason I do that is so I can get a feel for the texture of the mix – the liquidity and the feel of it as I combine the ingredients. Then I bake them to get an idea of how they should look cooked.  I’m lucky enough that because I am only gluten intolerant, I can then have a bite or two to check the cooked texture and taste. I think if you cannot have any gluten at all, perhaps you could ask a  friend or family member to be your guinea pig.

To the left, the original recipe. To the right, the forst version of the gluten-free bikkies. Ignore the chocolate chip cookies as they weren't gluten-free at all, the kids just wanted to bake as well!

To the left, the original recipe. To the right, the first version of the gluten-free bikkies. Ignore the chocolate chip cookies as they weren’t gluten-free at all, the kids just wanted to bake as well!

Step 2

Look at the recipe and decide what substitutions I can make. Obviously flour for flour is the first thing. The type of flour I choose depends on the type of recipe I am making. If I am trying out bread or scones, I might use a flour better for bread; if I am baking cupcakes or a cake, I may use a lighter blend. I have used store bought gluten-free flour mixes  with some success when I am converting recipes, but I find if I can pick the correct flour type, the recipes convert more easily. Brown rice flour seems to bind better than any other single type of flour, but does have a distinctive smell and taste.

There are some tricks I always add – I use xanthan or guar gum as a binder. I often add psyllium to give more sponginess and a more aerated texture.

Oats are a tricky one, because in other countries they are not considered to contain enough gluten to be bad for those of us who can’t tolerate it. So you can use an imported oats like Bob’s Red Mill, or just take the risk and use oats. Good substitutes for oats are quinoa flakes – these have the right texture and good taste, and are very high in fibre and calcium. However, they are also very expensive and sometimes hard to find (our local New World had them, and you can find them at various of the online and organics shops). Another option here is rice flakes, but these have a different texture, and unless you soak them in a little milk or water, are crunchy.

I often consider adding more flavouring. If you are using a good flour mix, this won’t be necessary, but some of the flour mixes have a strong taste to them and a spice is a great way to overcome this. Vanilla and cinnamon often go very well in baking.

Because I am egg yolk intolerant, I will often make the recipe gluten-free first with eggs, then try it again with an egg substitute to see if I can get the texture, taste, lightness or otherwise correct, or I just try using an egg white, which sometimes gives the best results.

For rising, I will normally use a mix of baking powder and baking soda. I find that the gluten-free flours are heavier and this does a good job of lightening the mix a little.

So I jot down all these notes on the recipe and then…

Step 3

Have a go!I’ve had some utter disasters, but what normally happens is that the first conversion isn’t quite right. So I adjust and try again. Sometimes, it works fine, but I decide I want to try and inject some more fibre by using chia seeds as an egg replacer, rather than the commercial egg replacer or egg white. Or I think more spice is required, or more flavour. Or the texture isn’t quite there.

Sometimes it will take two, three or more goes to get it right, but I’ve managed to convert almost everything I’ve tried. The next step is then to adapt and change, which lead to the ANZAC biscuit recipe becoming an ANZAC slice. Which I must say, we all ate too much of!Anzac slice

ANZAC slice pieces

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice flakes OR 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (brown rice flour works well, or a gluten-free flour mix)
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp LSA (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds  or 1 egg or equivalent 1 egg replacer
  • ¼ cup milk (cow, rice, soy or almond) or water
  • 1/2 cup currants or cranberries

 

Method

  • Turn oven to 160 degrees C. Grease a sponge roll tin and line with greaseproof paper.
  • Mix the chia seeds and milk in a small bowl and set aside for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Place all the dry ingredients, EXCEPT the baking soda into a bowl and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the chia seeds mix, golden syrup, oil and baking soda. Whisk well until thoroughly combined and the mix has a thick and caramel-like consistency.
  • Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Press into the tin to the edges.
  • Bake until golden coloured all over. Allow to cool in the tin, and ice with lemon icing

Note the difference between using the rice flakes or the quinoa flakes is that the rice flakes make for a crunchier biscuit. The quinoa flakes have a similar consistency to a normal ANZAC biscuit.

You may need to use a little extra flour if the mixture appears too wet, or if you are using rice flakes, which don’t soak up the oil like the quinoa flakes do. No more than half a cup of additional flour should be required.

Gluten-free Food and Allergy Show – Auckland

For those of you based in Auckland, click here for details of the show. It’s well worth attending, if only for the specials! I also love it for the range of new products that are displayed and the fact that I can eat almost everything there!!!

Note that it has a new venue this year – the North Shore Events Centre. I’ll be interested to see what the cafe there does, as they used to be very basic and not offer anything apart from hot chips.

Hope to see you there!GFFA Show