Dermatitis herpetiformis sufferer, Candice Dwek, suggests stocking up with Kosher-for-Passover, gluten-free foods.
Roughly between the months of February (latter end), March and early April each year, any shops which normally stock a range of kosher products, will be stocking foods which are 'Kosher for Passover', as Passover occurs in the spring. This Jewish festival requires that any foods eaten over the course of its eight day duration are wheat free (except when in the form of matzah/matzah meal) and yeast free, amongst other more detailed and complex restrictions, on which I won't elaborate.
In the five years since I discovered that I had DH (Dermatitis Herpetiformis – a blistering skin condition for which the only treatment is a gluten-free diet) and would have to radically change my diet, I have found that pre-Passover is the best time for me to shop, and even stock up on gluten-free products which are not even available at other times of the year, whether manufactured by a kosher company, or that feature in a well-known and reputable free-from range offered at the supermarket.
My shopping list would include items such as soup croutons, flavoured breadcrumbs, oat matzah meal, countless delicious gluten-free cakes, biscuits and chocolates (not very healthy, I know, but a lot less sugary
or artificial tasting than regular free-from ranges!), gluten-free sauces, cereals, soup mixes, and more... The list of items which tend to be available in the UK increases year on year, and the majority are made in and shipped over from the USA.
A large proportion of the items available have an extremely long shelf life, so stocking up is a viable option. Prices can vary quite a bit from shop to shop, but generally speaking, the large supermarket chains have a
habit of reducing the cost of their KFP (Kosher for Passover) stock by up to half during the week of Passover – which changes from year to year, as it goes by the Hebrew calendar, so keep your eyes open for clues or check on-line via a Jewish website such as chabad.org.uk. In these supermarkets, you will need to look out for the Kosher section which is usually well marked at this time of year, and ensure that you look only at the products clearly identified as 'Kosher for Passover'. For vegetarians, a bonus is that many of the items available are also suitable, and are all clearly marked whether they are dairy, meaty or 'parve', which means neither containing milk nor meat/poultry ingredients.
The only ingredient that you would have to avoid is 'matzah meal', as this is in fact a ground form of wheat. A useful tip is to look out for labels which say 'non-gebrokts', which is Yiddish for gluten-free (a most simplified interpretation of the word).
Big cities have kosher shops which will generally have a much wider selection of products available than any supermarket, which only has a limited amount of space on its shelves, and so choice is limited.
There are also on-line kosher companies which will deliver to your door (www.titanics.co.uk and www.justkosher.co.uk in the UK – many more to be found in the US) but if you are like me, you want to see the products and check the labels for yourself, rather than take the risk and order blind. However, if you do decide to order on line be sure that you only buy products which are 'non-gebrokts' as those are the only ones you can guarantee will not contain any wheat based matzah meal.
Some of Candice's favourite purchases
OSEM Mini croutons
GEFEN Various products for soup such as croutons (known as mandel),and pasta
HAGADDA various flavours:Chocolate Roll, 7 layer cake, jelly roll
MUM'S CAKE in various flavours: date, choc chip, cherry
OBERLANDER'S BOXED COOKIES in various flavours: black and white, sandwich cookies, choc brownies; cakes: marble loaf, nut loaf
BISCUITERIE JEANNETTE dark chocolate madeleines
MONTREAL KOSHER BAKERY cakes: marble, sponge, wine square; cookies: baby fingers, filbert macaroons
HADDAR imitation soy sauce (and also lite version)
OSEM sponge cakes in various flavours (choc chip, marble, coconut, sponge)
Warning from the editor:
Anyone who is ultra sensitive should remember that kosher foods will not have been rigorously tested for allergens (they have no reason to be) so there could be the possibility of contamination.
For a longer, in depth investigation of 'kosher for passover' in the context of allergies see www.kidswithmilkallergies.org
Click here for more articles on the management of coeliac disease
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