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Hain-Celestial Group Products

Are you gluten free?

Are you gluten free?

Recently I had a conundrum.

This soup is available in my local Villa, but due to the Thai ingredients sticker I could not surmise if this product is in fact, gluten free. I contacted Health Valley Organic just to be sure, and received this reply:

Consumer health and safety is our number one concern. We do not have lists of products that are specifically considered to be gluten free. Reading the label is the best way to check for the presence of ingredients which contain gluten. If gluten is a major ingredient, it will be specified in the ingredient list. For consumers concerned about the presence of trace amounts of gluten, we suggest avoiding products that include natural flavors or spices

Hain Celestial Group products that make a gluten-free claim will carry the triangular Gluten-Free symbol, be labeled gluten-free, or specify Gluten Free certification by GFCO. To learn more about the wide variety of gluten free foods we offer please visit www.glutenfreechoices.com. We hope you find the information, recipes and articles to be a useful resource.

How interesting! That rules out all of their soups then! The website provided gives an idea about their other products:

GFAnd I must add that I am not so impressed anymore. In a previous post, I commented that the De Boles pasta was awful and I’m not a fan of the Arrowhead Mills pre-made mixes (pizza, pancake and bread).

However, I am a fan of their Organic flour mixes – Buckwheat and both White & Brown Rice. Plus, the Terra mixed vegetable chips are a nicer and more nutritious snack than Lays potato chips!

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Finding Decent Gluten Free Pasta

Despite being gluten free for over a year, I still miss decent pasta. I have had some awful pasta experiences, including De Boles rice pasta and trying to make it myself. Yeh, not a good idea without a pasta machine thingie. Not only that, but some gluten free pastas are ridiculously expensive and I have to travel all the way downtown to get them.

The Worst: De Boles

downloadThis pasta is available in most grocery stores in Bangkok, including Lemon Farms, Villas & Topps. But this pasta is not great – it’s slimy, breaks apart easily and has no taste. When you boil it, the water turns white and soupy since it is 100% rice. Avoid this pasta. If you want rice noodles, buy plain rice noodles and save yourself the money from packaging and importing.

The Best: Orgran

32257Available for sale in some grocery stores, I usually have to trek down to Maison du Vins to pick up my pasta. These cost 100-250thb, depending on the shop. Orgran products taste great and usually combine several ingredients, including corn, potato starch and rice; resulting in a nice texture and taste. Orgran also offers a variety of shapes and sizes, including lasagna sheets.

My New Favourite: Peacock Rice Pastas00810791011334_fullI found this in my local Topps and thought, for 29thb I couldn’t go wrong. I finally cooked up this pasta with some Prego spaghetti sauce and have to say – it was pretty darn good! This pasta is made from rice, corn starch and sago (similar to tapioca). The result was a great texture and decent taste! This pasta was al dente and luckily made from brown rice, meaning that there is no fat or cholesterol! Per serving (for me there are 2 servings per bag) means that I get: 6 grams of protein and 90grams of carbs. Not bad for 29thb!

Gluten Free Products: Bertolli, Colman’s, Elmlea, Flora, Knorr, Lipton, Lyon’s, Maille & Marmite

Recently I had a bit of a freakout. I raided my fridge and spice cupboard, looking for hidden gluten. Perhaps this was a pre-return-to-work-paranoia?

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out if Flora sunflower spread or Bertolli balsamic vinegar were gluten free. So I emailed the lovely people at Flora to ask. They sent me a VERY comprehensive email with their WHOLE list of products!

For all those Marmite fans, you’ll be happy to know it is gluten free (bleeurrgh). I’m still not sure about the answer to the balsamic vinegar question, but I have included the list here:

Gluten Allergen list

Please note that it was last updated 06 Feb 2013

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Gluten Free Bread – Which is best?

bread_1807973bLiving in Bangkok does not offer a lot of options in terms of buying gluten free bread. There are no American chain bakeries or little French patisseries. If you want gluten free bread, you can marry a chef or make it yourself.

I chose the second option, as my past is littered with a few shady chefs and they need no longer apply (of course, unless you’re Gordon Ramsay). That being said, I’m sure the man makes bread in his sleep. I don’t. I said before that baking doesn’t always come naturally to me, so please, bear with me.

The Criteria (Hey, I’m a teacher, this is important!)

I have tested these brands at home with some success. I have made bread or buns and pizza crusts from each product. But when it comes down to choosing which brand I will whole-heartedly support, I need to consider a few things:

  • Taste and smell
  • Texture
  • Dummy-proof instructions and dough
  • Price and availability
  • Nutrition

Let’s begin with….

Arrowhead Mills

Now I know you’re thinking but that’s pizza crust and yes, you’re right. But on the back of the box it suggests that you can use the mix for buns and other things. Being highly open to suggestions, I did. Can’t lie, they weren’t great.

The instructions were easy, the dough turned out as I expected. I should’ve used a rolling pin (not my forearm, but who wants to lug a rolling pin home from the grocery store in 35 degree Celsius heat?), so my first pizza crust was a bit thick. It didn’t taste great if I’m honest. Nor did the buns; they were somewhat reminiscent of cardboard mixed with soy milk. No amount of peanut butter could hide that peculiar taste. Which is strange, considering this has the most amount of ingredients compared to the other brands, so I would expect it to be awesome.

In terms of nutrition, I’m sure it’s fine. The website doesn’t really specify how much a serving is. In addition, I wasn’t too impressed with the lack of protein and fibre. I personally don’t think I’ll be buying this again, as I had to trek all the way downtown for it and then paid 300baht. To be fair though, it was the first one I found in a grocery store in Thailand and I was pretty freakin’ excited to try it.

Orgran

I found these products in my secret gluten free shop. Translation: I know where it is but can never remember what it’s called. This box set me back 210baht.

I love that Orgran is absolutely anti-everything! They hate eggs, wheat, yeast and milk!

Ok, so maybe being anti-everything isn’t the best attitude when it comes to wheat free bread. But I must say that I was pretty impressed with how easy it was to make this. The first time wasn’t great as I didn’t heed the ‘let dough rise in a warm spot.’ Yeh right! I ain’t turning off my air-con to let some stupid bread rise!

You can guess what happened to that first loaf. It didn’t rise and it was denser than a frozen hockey puck! On a more positive note, because the bread was thicker than a lumberjack’s beard, it was very easy to slice and freeze. The second time round was more successful – I even added hot water to help that puppy rise. My friends were much more impressed the second time!

Aesthetically, the second loaf was pleasing. It popped above the bread tin’s sides and it had a lovely golden colour on top. The texture was quite spongy, which I have resigned to tolerate in Thailand. Basically all desserts are made of rice flour, so a spongy bread has become the norm for me. Bonus for soups, not so great for crunchy peanut butter.

Now, in terms of taste, it was still missing something. Again, the ingredients have some pretty technical terms. Nonetheless, it was a vast improvement from the Arrowhead Mills.

Springhill Farm

From a previous post, you may know that I found this completely unexpectedly in the Topps nearest me. Scouring the baking section for polenta, I saw this and my jaw hit the floor. Are you serious? Gluten free bread mix only two kilometres from my house? And only 179baht? Say what!?

The package says that it is a good source of dietary fibre, gluten free, wheat free, egg free and nut free. Ok, so you have to add yeast. That’s not such a bad thing, is it? Considering that Arrowhead Mills uses yeast, I figured I’d give this one a go. I was really surprised to see bare bones ingredients in contrast to the others: maize starch, potato starch, flaxseed flour, psyllium and pea protein. That’s it!

Per serving (again, not sure what a serving is) you get 4.8 grams of protein and 6.4 grams of fibre. I think this bread is kicking some nutritional ass!

Now the negatives: I found the instructions to be condescending. I know what you’re thinking, What are you on about woman? Well, the instructions tell you to use a pastry mixer and a bread machine. Forget that hoity-toity nonsense! I live in Thailand and have a two hob stovetop. I stole an oven. I use my forearms as a rolling pin. I GOT THIS!

Mixing it up took some work, but it was worth it for the end result. Using my hands instead of a flimsy spatula, it took a good five minutes to really combine all the ingredients.

Truth be told, this mix was delicious! I made 8 buns using a 3’’ cookie cutter and put two balls of dough into the freezer for pizzas. The buns turned a lovely golden colour and browned a bit on the bottom like real hamburger buns! And they smell like real bread! My flat had the aroma of a high-class bakery! Texture wise, they are a bit denser than the Orgran stuff, but they looked and felt like real bread. It wasn’t as fluffy as the inside of a baguette, but it was certainly the closest.

Bob’s Red Mill

Although my local Villa Market has the Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, for some strange reason it doesn’t carry the special bread mix. A bit annoyed, I have to go downtown to Sunshine Market to pick this up. And it’s a pretty penny too at 296baht. Although, this product comes recommended from one of my friends back home, who is gluten free and feeds her hubby this stuff too.

In terms of ingredients, we’ve got some garbanzo flour, potato starch, corn starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, evaporated cane juice, fava flour, xanthan gum, potato flour, sea salt, guar gum, soy lecithin, and a yeast packet. Unfortunately it only packs in 3 grams of fibre per serving.

Ok, so I finally made this bread. It wasn’t so bad – it smelled great and had a lovely texture. The only problem is that it calls for eggs, and being a lacto-vegetarian, this was a problem. So I consulted the lovely Sarah Kramer for some alternatives. My go-to option of using bananas was not going to happen, so I chose flax seed oil instead. However, in a post-run-haze, I added too much of the nutty oil and wound up with flaxy tasting pizza crust and buns. Not good. It made for a decent pizza crust though!

I’m happy I tried it, but considering my diet, this is not a good option for me.

And finally, the winner is ….

Bob’s Red Mill (if you’re ok with eggs).

Springhill Farms – due to its nutritional statistics, lack of animal bits and simple ingredients!