At one point or another it’s likely we’ll be plagued with the dreaded hayfever attack that we’d managed to avoid so well. So what exactly is an allergy?
Allergies can develop at any point, with one in four people in the UK developing one at some point in their life. Basically an allergy is the body’s reaction to a substance such as pollen, certain foods, materials or dust. Your immune system views the substance as a threat and thus you have an allergic reaction, producing histamines which result in the symptoms of an allergy, severe reactions are known as anaphylaxis.
According to Allergy UK all countries undergoing industrial development have seen an increase in the amount of people suffering from allergies, with a more significant recent increase of those suffering from a food allergy.
Food allergies and intolerances are much more than inconvenient, their symptoms can be very severe and cause anaphylaxis. Ultimately a food allergy is a reaction in the body to create an antibody to wrongly fight off a certain food, triggering reactions when this is consumed or touched.
There are many types of irritations and allergies and this week we’ll be looking at Coeliac Disease, a common reaction to gluten, suffered by around one in every 100 people in the UK. It’s slightly different from the way the body reacts to an allergy, whereby in this case the immune system attacks healthy tissues. It’s not an allergy as such but consuming gluten products can trigger symptoms. Coeliac Disease means the immune system mistakes substances found within gluten as a threat, thus attacking them and damaging the intestines. There’s no cure but you can of course switch your diet to a gluten free one.
Gluten is a protein which is found in wheat, rye and barley, it occurs in foods such as; bread, sauces, pasta, cakes, cereals and beer.
At first glance the list of foods containing gluten might seem like most of your diet but it’s not as restrictive as it seems, particularly now the condition is more prolific, there are many recipes out there to keep you satisfied, including ours below!
My Gran suffered from Coeliac Disease and as a proud Scottswoman she was fond of the odd wedge or five of shortbread. So here’s Focused Nutrition’s gluten free recipe for some melt in the mouth, buttery and crisp shortbread. Make sure you use caster sugar as it’s finer and soften the butter because gluten free flour makes a very crumbly mix so needs the wetness to bind the dough!
Gluten Free Shortbread
- 300g gluten free flour
- 1tsp gluten free baking powder
- 200g soft butter
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 190C and grease a baking sheet or circular tin.
Combine your butter, vanilla and sugar and add in the flour and baking powder. Using your fingertips rub the mixture until it resembles bread crumbs (or whizz it in a processor if you’re fancy like that/don’t like mess) you could add orange zest or dried fruit at this stage too and then squeeze it all together into a ball. Wrap it up into Clingfilm and pop in the fridge in a sausage shape to firm up for around a quarter of an hour. Alternatively press the dough into a tin before you put it in the fridge and bake as a sheet.
Once your dough has chilled, if you’d prefer rounds then take the sausage of dough out the film and place onto a floured work surface (using the gluten free flour of course!) Cut into disks and arrange spaced out on the baking sheet and prick each with a fork. Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden, don’t forget once it’s out of the oven it will firm up and it will be quite pale
Allow to cool before cutting if you’ve baked in a tin. Sprinkle with sugar and enjoy.
Allergies and intolerances are affecting more and more people each year. For more information on how we can create bespoke products to suit a range of special dietary requirements, get in touch!