A couple of weeks ago I found out that my little blog has been nominated for an Allergy Blog Award. My first reaction was 'What me?' 'Really?' 'Did they get that right?'.... I was genuinely shocked. The Allergy Blog Awards are very special..... they are specific in their recognition of allergy bloggers across the UK who blog in relation to all allergies, eczema, asthma, hay fever and food nutrition. So to be nominated is a privilege and an honour.
The Gluten Free Alchemist blog has been nominated in two categories : Free From Recipes and Most Innovative. Having looked at the short-list, I feel very humbled to be in there..... there are some incredible bloggers nominated for the awards, including some of my favourites : The Free From Fairy, Le Coin De Mel, The Free From Farmhouse and The Peachicks Bakery. Looking down the list, there are also some fantastic looking blogs that I had not known about previously, but will most definitely be visiting to take a closer look.
I would love for you to take the time to vote for me and my blog...... you can find the voting form HERE...... it is really easy to do. Just enter your name and email, click on the drop-down box in my two nominated categories (Free From Recipes & Most Innovative), scroll down and vote for The Gluten Free Alchemist....
In addition to a huge sense of pride, there is also a part of me that feels a little embarrassed to be in the list...... I don't see what I do as anything special. I cook and bake gluten free because I live in a Coeliac household and this is what we eat. I am determined to cook the best food that I can, refuse to accept that being gluten free should mean anything 'less' and am resolute in my attempts to find a way to replicate and even improve as many traditionally gluten-based recipes that I can. Most importantly, I want my daughter to feel confident about being Coeliac and to know that she never ever has to miss out on food that her friends take for granted.
I blog because I can (fitting it in around a full-time day job). I spend time developing, making and testing recipes and it seems selfish to keep them to ourselves....... My blog is also, importantly the recipe book for my daughter's future....
This beautiful girl is my inspiration. She won't thank me for saying it..... she is just a normal kid.... the picture of health..... full of energy, vibrant, clever, creative, determined, stubborn and feisty. She is also Coeliac.
Coeliac Disease is not an allergy, it is an auto-immune disease which causes the body to react to ingested gluten by producing an anti-body that attacks and damages the lining of the gut. This in turn prevents the body from absorbing nutrients resulting in serious digestive issues, failure to grow in children, exhaustion, anaemia, and longer-term health problems such as infertility and a higher risk of some cancers. I have experienced the risks first hand, paying the price for poorly-managed Coeliac when I lost my father to cancer in my final year at school.
It is also genetic..... Diagnosed at the age of 6, we consider ourselves lucky. Miss GF had an amazing GP who was astute enough to ensure diagnosis before symptoms became debilitating. Without diagnosis, the trajectory may not have been so good. I have close friends who's children have suffered for years, seriously ill, failing to thrive, in pain and suffering before diagnosis was achieved. Diagnosis is key........ Once you have it, you can set a quick path to recovery..... all it takes is a change of diet..... complete avoidance from eating gluten (wheat, barley and rye and any constituents)...... for life. Symptoms and health risks alleviated.
How amazing is that? Coeliac does not require any drugs, does not result in sudden, critical life-threatening emergencies, on-going invasive treatments or complex equipment..... it just requires a good healthy gluten-avoiding diet. Fortunate doesn't come close to how we feel.....
Since diagnosis (and a realisation that I too am gluten intolerant), I have done all I can to ensure Miss GF understands and learns to manage her Coeliac safely, naturally and confidently. I have also hoped to instil a positive attitude, accepting the condition as part of who she is..... something which is simply a minor irritant to be negotiated and embraced. I am in admiration of Miss GF's positivity...... she is not only totally competent at reading food labels and checking ingredients to be sure food is safe to eat, but she has no qualms in demanding to know how her food is to be prepared from the parents of friends, chefs and waiters along the way.
Writing a Blog
When Miss GF was first diagnosed, there were very few gluten free products in the supermarkets. What there was tended to be dry, crumbly, gritty, tasteless and quite unpleasant to eat. My response was not to resign her to a life of eating 'cardboard', but to dust off the baking pans, read as much as I could about the principles of baking gluten free and get down to experimenting. Little by little, the 'brick' pizzas, loaves and cakes became edible and then good....... but without a committed motivation for writing the recipes down, most of them got forgotten.
My little blog was born out of a necessity to find a way of ensuring a record of what I made. It is my gift to my daughter...... recipes passed on for her future, from mother to daughter...... but in so doing, we share with the world in the hope that others may also benefit from what we learn along the way (and hopefully get to eat some really yummy stuff too).
Of course all of our recipes are gluten free, but we also make plenty of dishes and bakes which are free from other allergens and intolerances, particularly dairy. And we always try to push the boundaries...... If you want to progress with baking in an 'alien' landscape, you have to take risks..... new ingredients, experimental processes and unusual combinations..... Some days there are disasters and tantrums, but persevere and re-invent for long enough and there may just be a triumph on the table.....
Miss GF now cooks and bakes for us too....... regular followers of The Gluten Free Alchemist will know that she occasionally contributes to the blog with her own series Miss GF Makes..... She is proving to be quite fearless in the kitchen and it is fantastic to see her learning the skills that will serve her for life. She is a star....... A fantastic advocate for living with Coeliac Disease and growing up to knowledgeably take on the gluten-filled world with self-assurance, gutsiness and candour.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated