Article by Maia Bedson
Coeliac Awareness Week (13th – 20th March 2020) aims to raise awareness about coeliac disease – which is an autoimmune condition where the immune system reacts to gluten, resulting in damage to the lining of the small intestine.
Around 1 in 70 Australians have coeliac disease; however, a large number of them (80%) are undiagnosed.
Common symptoms are abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, joint pain, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, bruising and irritability – though some people have no symptoms at all.
People with coeliac disease must avoid gluten, which is a type of protein found in wheat, oats, rye, barley, triticale, spelt, semolina and farro. Malt, malt extract, malt dextrin and thickeners 1400 to 1450 also contain gluten.
Additionally, they must be alert to check the many products that may contain gluten such as bread, pasta, cereals, biscuits, cakes, medications, supplements, lipsticks and lip balms, toothpaste and mouthwashes.
By avoiding all gluten, this allows the lining of the small intestine to repair and heal.
(It is important to obtain a proper diagnosis rather than self-diagnose).
If dietary changes are not made, coeliac disease can increase the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases and other health problems such as cancer, fertility issues, osteoporosis, anaemia, dermatitis, alopecia, epilepsy, and conditions related to poor absorption of nutrients.
As more and more people have been experimenting with a gluten-free diet, food manufacturers have reacted to this growing market with many examples of unhealthy ‘food-like’ products and the ‘health food section’ of supermarkets are awash with this highly processed merchandise.
Just a small sample of items available in the gluten-free/health food supermarket category are:
- Creamy deluxe chocolate frosting
- Vienna éclair biscuits
- Cheese twists
- Salted baked pea snaps
- Choc mint crème biscuits
- Instant gravy mix
It is essential to recognise that good health and recovery from illness may literally be in our hands – by creating as many of our meals as possible ourselves, using fresh and vibrant ingredients.
That is why at the Foundation, we teach and promote a wholefoods plant diet, among other lifestyle practices.
And while initially, preparation of a whole foods diet can be a learning curve, by starting with an easy recipe of something familiar to you, skills can develop, and confidence can grow.
In that spirit, we offer this gluten-free, 4-ingredient nourishing cake recipe from our kitchen to yours.
Feeling Fruity Cake
1 kg mixed dried fruit (preferably organic)
2 t mixed spice
2 cups wholemeal gluten-free self-raising flour
2-1/2 cups of water
- Place the dried fruit and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl
- Pour over the water, pressing the fruit into the liquid
- Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to soak overnight
- Fold the flour into the fruit mixture.
- Preheat oven to 125 deg C and line a 20cm/9” springform baking tin with baking paper
- Spoon the cake mix into the tin, pressing the mixture evenly into the tin
- Bake for 2 hours 45 mins and leave to cool in the oven.
- Once completely cooled, store wrapped in baking paper or paper towel in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Will keep for at least four weeks.