Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sainsbury's Free From - Gluten Free Oats

Finley's love of oats is something of legend around here. Before SCD he loved to eat granola, porridge, fish coated in oat crumbs, oaty crumble toppings, oatcakes and most of all, he loved to eat flapjack.

When I announced that oats would no longer be part of our life, Finley entered a period of unabashed grief - rivaled only by the wailing and prostration indulged in by many, following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Since that time he has learned to live with his loss. Allowing the merest whimper to escape when oat based dishes were baked on TV or a friend had a flapjack in their lunch box. He bore the loss like a purple heart stowed carefully under his jacket, brave and noble, burdening only himself.

I had promised him that when everything was healed and working, we would add first brown rice and then certified gluten free oats into his diet - cautiously and with the proper protocols observed (no other new foods to be added within the week). He held this promise for two long years, with both hands cradled around it to protect the flame.  And then finally we were ready.

Finley tried brown rice about 6 weeks ago, slowly at first, a few teaspoons at a time, and then onto rice salad lunches and eggy rice suppers that bought tears of recognition as his tongue remembered that familiar comforting taste.

It just so happened that Sainsburys had sent me a box of Easter goodies from their newly launched Free From range. Amongst the Banoffee Pie Bars, Hot Cross Buns, Chocolate Sponge Pudding, a bag of white gluten free flour and shiny white Gluten Free Bread that I was certainly not going to eat (but passed on to some grateful coeliac friends) there nestled a bag of certified gluten free oats. Finley ferreted them out of the box with a whoop of glee and turned to me in an ecstasy of hope, cradling the bag like a newborn as his eyes said,  'can I?'.

And so I said yes. 

Fin had all sorts of plans for those oats, but we started with a very simple instant granola topping for his banana breakfast. To make it, simply toast  a few dessert spoonfuls of oats in a dry pan until they start to smell nutty and turn very pale gold. Then take off the heat, throw in a knob of butter and a spoonful of honey and stir until everything is coated. Cool on a plate and sprinkle over your breakfast of fruit and yogurt. Finley augmented his with a dusting of ground cinnamon and a shake of probiotic powder.


I salute Sainsburys for selling gluten free oats and hope that they expand their range to include more certified gluten free basics like nuts, dried fruit and a range of gluten free flours that are made from nutritious whole grains such as Teff, Sorghum, Buckwheat, Quinoa and Millet. We need to cook! Coeliacs need to eat real food - not approximations of the rubbish that caused our digestive systems to fail in the first place!

Coeliacs have a greater susceptibility to developing diabetes if their diet is not full of wholefoods and low in refined carbohydrates and sugar. Supermarkets could help the growing number of coeliacs to make the right choices - rather than tempting them with unhealthy treats and breads that are little more than starch bound up with additives.

Please join me in calling on supermarkets to provide nutritious, wholegrain alternatives that coeliacs can trust to be safely gluten free. If you don't register your disapproval and ask for more choice, they will keep on churning out the same stuff. Wouldn't it be great not to have to buy all these basic ingredients online, or in dusty out of the way places?

In the meantime. Fin is relishing a new addition to his diet and I am pleased to know that when the bag runs out, all I have to do is pop to Sainsburys.