One of the things that I have found most helpful as a Coeliac has been discovering a network of services, information and resources that supports gluten free living. There are masses of web pages, blogs and recipe books; there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of products, some available in mainstream supermarkets; there are plenty of great options for eating out. Sometimes knowing where to look, or how to narrow it down to the things that will be of most use to you with your lifestyle, can be the hardest part.
So I've put together a list of my own most-relied-upon 25 resources as a Coeliac living in Melbourne. These are all services / resources / products I've used over and over again; all things that make my life easier, more pleasant, or more fun. Of course, there are hundreds more I could've chosen, and your top items might well differ radically, but these are a good place to start.
(NB: One resource that I used to love, and would have topped the list, was Gluten Shmooten, a web page for Coeliac living in Melbourne. Tragically, it appears to be now defunct, as all the links are broken. Sadness :-(
I've divided them into 4 categories - Online Resources, Cookbooks, Retail / Products, and Eating Out. Today, I've put up the first two categories - Online Resources and Eating Out. Part 2, Retail / Products and Cookbooks, coming up tomorrow!
1. Gluten Free Girl and the Chef
Shauna James Ahern and Danny Ahern's beautifully written and photographed blog is probably my favourite of all the many gluten free food / cooking blogs on the Internet. While Shauna and Danny make some food that I wouldn't even attempt in terms of complexity, they also have a lot of simple, easy-to-prepare recipes, and general cooking tips and tricks, that I've found invaluable.
2. Nellbe's Gluten Free Kitchen
Janelle's blog is a gem, especially because, as a Melbournian like me, she's often writing about things like supermarket specials and local restauarants that are directly relevant. I love the gluten free menu plans too.
3. Coeliac Australia
As the peak body for Coeliac sufferers here, Coeliac Australia's site gave me a huge amount of help, encouragement and clear information when I was first diagnosed and really struggling with it all. I still find it a great hub of resources and visit there at least monthly to get new ideas and updates.
4. She Let Them Eat Cake
This is a baking site with a difference - egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free all in one! I am neverendingly amazed at the variety and yumminess of the food that Maggie coaxes out of her apparently limited ingredients. Check it out, especially if baking for vegans; you won't be disappointed.
5. Gluten free eating directory
There are many gluten free restaurant lists and guides out there, but this is the one I use the most; it seems to be updated often and contains useful information about other aspects of the venue (eg kid-friendliness) that are relevant to me.
6. Gluten free goddess
Almost as famous as the Gluten Free Girl, I like this site a lot too, although I find the writing style a little less engaging. (But the recipes? Nom nom nom...)
7. Ali V, Gluten Free
A fantastic Australian site that draws together lots of knowledge about not just gluten free but FODMAP diets and related health conditions.
Most fast food places are completely off-limits to Coeliacs, which, while not a bad thing in some ways, does make quick family takeaways a drag. I was very excited to discover that Nando's chicken, salads and spicy rice are all gluten free (you just need to avoid the chips).
Discovering that one of our favourite Melbourne restaurants for a special meal out, Spanish cuisine oriented MoVida, could provide a wide gluten free selection was an unparalleled joy for me. It's not an everyday place for us but it is so nice to know I can have a fancy meal out for special occasions and eat beautifully without fear.
3. Yum Cha at the Red Emperor
One of my greatest loves, pre-children, was the work yum cha lunch. My husband and I also adored yum cha and ate it often on Sundays, frequently meeting friends to do so. Losing yum cha was one of my top five disappointments when I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease. Being able to indulge again, even if only once in a while, at the Red Emperor is such a treat.
4. Snappas Fish & Chippery (Werribee)
Gluten free fish and chips are getting more and more common, I'd pleased to say; I've eaten good gluten free food from fish and chippies in Bendigo, Geelong, near my parents' place, and so forth. Snappas is our most local one, though, and the service is always excellent. Restoring our monthly Friday night family fish & chips has been lovely for us all.
5. Fresh Chilli Thai
Thai food can often be gluten free by ingredient in any case, but when you find a restaurant that gets the contamination issue, you stick to them like glue :-) Fresh Chilli has three western surburbs branches, and their Pad Thai is my favourite thing in the wide world.
6. Sushi Sushi
This sushi chain, that operates all over Melbourne, not only does lovely sushi that is gluten free, they are now carrying gluten free soy sauce as well. Win!
7. So n So's
This Chinese and pizza restaurant (yes, you read it right!) has been providing a full gluten free menu to western suburbs diners for over a decade now, and not once have I ever been glutened by their food. I would say the Chinese food is nicer than the pizzas, but it's all pretty good, and such a relief to find locally.
I'd be interested to know what other Melbourne Coeliacs think of this list. What are your favourites and your best, to quote my 3 year old?
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