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Catering for Gluten Free Diet: Tried & Tested Coeliac Recipes

Sallie Darnell

Sallie Darnell

The prospect of having to cook separately for a member of the family can be a daunting experience. However, Sallie Darnell* a professional cook faced up to it when her husband became wheat intolerant needing gluten free dishes

Having trained as a Home Economist Sallie’s interest had always been healthy eating. As such she ran a popular outside catering company for 22 years, working for corporate and domestic clients alike. In many instances she created her own recipes.

However when her husband became wheat intolerant she needed to re-think how to cook on the domestic front.  She had cooked for wheat/gluten/dairy intolerants on a professional basis but as a one off this was easy. Her new challenge in life was obviously how to create interesting fabulous food, giving variety for all time. Whilst relearning cooking principles she also discovered new recipes for wheat free food and became more concerned about vegetarian and vegan food as well. She realised her interest in healthy eating had only just begun.

Cooking lessons for specific food intolerant persons were not available at that time and so she devised a range of recipes, all easy to prepare. Here are a couple of cake recipes suitable for anyone wanting to achieve a wheat free regime.



This Victoria Sandwich recipe for instance can be adapted by changing flavours

It will make 12 fairy cakes, lemon cake, or add coffee (liquid) and walnuts
4oz /125g soft margarine or butter
4oz /125g rice flour
4oz /125g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together with hand mixer, put into prepared tin
Bake gas no 4, 180C

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

Her husband found this Chocolate Cake irresistible!

5oz /150g low fat spread or butter
5oz /150g caster sugar
2oz /50g cocoa powder
100ml boiling water
3 eggs
5oz /150g rice flour
2 heaped tsp baking powder

Mix spread + sugar until light and fluffy
Mix cocoa + water to smooth paste, then mix in eggs, flour/baking powder.
Put into cake tin 6 or 7”, lined with baking parchment

Bake 30 min Gas 4 180 C

More recipes suitable for those with a wheat intolerance – muffins, sweet and savoury filled pancakes – will be added to this Recipe Section of In Balance Magazine website in the near future.

*Sadly Sallie died some years ago. She was an inspired and down to earth cook whose work we admired.

We recommend highly the online grocery suppliers GoodnessDirect for healthy, fresh, eco and organic shopping for all your cooking needs

For information on coeliac disease and a gluten-free lifestyle see
For information on allergy and intolerances see
There is good information on the NHS website
For information about eating well go to the Food Standards Agency website

NEWS: You may have heard that Novak Djokovic, the Men’s Wimbledon 2011 Champion, had recently being diagnosed as Gluten Intolerant and claims his new diet helped him to improve his game.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Borage: Excellent Culinary Herb – Tried and tested recipes

Borage biscuits

Borage biscuits

Borage is an excellent culinary herb and can be used in a variety of ways. Borage is far better used fresh, as the flavour and colour deteriorate when dried and some essential oils lost.

The leaves taste of oil and cucumber and together with the flowers (say three leaves and three flowers) can be added to 500ml (1pt) of homemade lemonade.

To make lemonade combine the juice of a lemon with 30ml (2 tbsp) of sugar or honey dissolved in 500ml (1pt) of boiling water, and then chill. For a different refreshing drink, add borage flowers and lemon balm leaves to apple or pear juice.

Borage seed packet Thompson & Morgan

Borage seed packet Thompson & Morgan

Young leaves can be boiled as a spinach substitute or cooked with cabbage (two parts cabbage to one part borage). Chopped leaves can be added, for the last few minutes of cooking, to pea or bean soup and to stews, or finely shredded in salads (before the hairs on the leaves become stiff with age).

Traditional recipes recommend borage leaves and seeds, together with fennel in salads for increasing the milk supply in nursing mothers. The leaves and flowers are still added for flavour and garnish to wine cups, Pimms and gin-based summer cocktails and the flowers are still candied for confectionary as cake and ice cream decorations.

Borage seed packet Thompson & Morgan

Borage seed packet Thompson & Morgan

A delicious herb butter can be made by finely chopping young borage leaves, parsley and dill, producing one 15ml (1 tbsp) of each herb, blending them into 150g (5oz) of butter and then adding a little lemon juice, one 5ml spoon (1tsp) of chopped onion plus salt and pepper. For a sandwich filling or party dip, try blending 15ml (1tbsp) of finely chopped young leaves into 100g (4oz) of cream or cottage cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Here is a recipe for biscuits, adding the flowers for decoration.


225g (8oz) self-raising flour
110g (4oz) sugar
160g (6oz) butter or margarine
Pinch of salt
One beaten egg
12 drops vanilla essence
Runny preserve for brushing eg homemade redcurrant, apple or raspberry jelly.

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt and then rub in the fat until the mixture is like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Add the beaten egg and the vanilla essence and mix to a stiff paste. Roll out, cut into shapes and place onto a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with jelly. Place a borage flower on top of each biscuit, pressing down the petals so they adhere to the jelly. Gently drizzle and brush jelly onto the flowers. Bake in an oven preheated to 190C (375F) Gas mark 5 for about 20 minutes, until the biscuits have a good warm colour. Remove from the oven but leave on the tray for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Alternatively, for a darker, crisper effect, bake the biscuits without the flowers. Once removed from the oven, brush over more jelly, add the flowers as before and then, instead of jelly, sieve icing sugar over the flowers and biscuits. Place them on the wire rack of a grill pan and grill for one minute.

For a good all-round read about herbs, try Leslie Kenton’s Healing Herbs: Transform Your Life with Plant Power. You have only to look at the front cover of the dust jacket to know the author acknowledges the beauty of the borage flower. It has some excellent reviews.

Photography Sine Chesterman ®

Sine Chesterman, Contributing author

NB At this time of year it’s possible to sow some seeds that will still give flowers and seeds for cooking in about two months. You can freeze the flowers in an ice tray and use them to brighten up drinks in the winter months. Thompson & Morgan sell an excellent variety.  Editor is the website we write about the ongoing renovation and care of a front garden in a garden city


Puppy Training Problems Solved 2: Winnie Chews a Shoe …



Winnie’s Woes: The diary of a golden retriever learning about life

A Seven Part Series with a bittersweet final episode

What a lovely walk that was, I feel quite worn out. I’ll just flop here on the kitchen floor, it’s so lovely and cool.

I’d better have a drink. Oh great, Claire’s topped it up for me. What is she doing anyway? She’s going into the pantry, perhaps for some doggie treats …

Winnie, shoo. 

Oh, I don’t think I’m supposed to go in there. And she doesn’t have any treats either. Although she has left some toys out for me. I’ll have a sleep and then play.

Yaaaawwn. The house in quiet. I wonder where Claire is?

She’s shut me in the kitchen. That means she’s gone out. I think I’ll play with those toys she left out. Oh, hang on. What’s this?

Oh, my, it smells amazing. It’s all chewy and leathery. What are these dangly things for? They chew up really well. And this bit at the bottom has mud and stuff on. It must be a new kind of toy – thank you Claire!

I’ll just chuck it around the kitchen a bit, this is so much fun!

What happens if I growl at it and pretend it’s an animal? Ha! this is brilliant. Grrr, gotcha.

Wo-ow, I-I-f I sh-sh-ake my he-ad li-ke th-thi-is it starts to fall apart … !

I’m taking this to my bed to give it a proper good chew. Now that the stringy bits have come out and the bottom is hanging off I can really get at it properly…

What’s that noise? Is Claire home? Yay! I’ll meet her at the back door and show her what I’ve done with the lovely new toy she gave me – she’ll be so proud of me!

Look Claire – I’ve chewed it all up!

WINNIE!!! Blah blah blah, naughty girl.

Oh no, I’m being told off again … she didn’t want me to eat that toy after all … why did she leave it in the kitchen for me then? And what’s a shoe…?

Claire Price, Winnie’s owner

Breeder’s advice:

The obvious comment is don’t leave anything that you don’t want chewed within reach of a puppy. Slippers, shoes and underwear smell strongly of YOU and will be very enticing to a little one. Be sure to provide toys which can be safely chewed and never chastise the puppy for something he did earlier. He can only associate the present moment, not the past.

Winnie’s Woes Part 7 – Winnie Moves On
Winnie’s Woes Part 6 – Winnie Learns about Children
Winnie’s Woes Part 5 – Winnie’s friend Henry learns not to eat stones
Winnie’s Woes Part 4 – Winnie learns about other dogs
Winnie’s Woes Part 3 – Winnie Eats too much
Winnie’s Woes Part 2 – Winnie eats a shoe
Winnie’s Woes Part 1 – Winnie finds digging is not a popular activity!

Have you read the bestseller The Puppy that came for Christmas …  A true story that has appealed to dog lovers and non-dog owners alike – it is both truly heart warming and heart wrenching.

Recommended Links:

Anythingdogz – an excellent website owned and run by Lisa Evans, an In Balance reader

Helpful Holidays offer holiday cottages in the West Country that welcome dogs.  See their Helpful Holidays website.


Need Ideas Where to Go for a Day Out?

South bank London

South bank London

How’s it going? The school holidays I mean! Run out of ideas of what to do, where to go? Then do have a look at this websitewhere all the attractions and venues included have been chosen for accessibility features such as disabled parking and their family appeal. You can download more than 75 reviews venues and attractions that contain all the information you need to enjoy a great family day out.

The UK’s top accessible attractions have received awards which might influence where you decide to go, see the details here.

A copy of updated  The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain would a good starting point for anyone who has a less able member family.

We’ll be writing more about this publication when we have used it for a little while.

Let me know if you use either of these websites and whether they were useful. Feedback is always useful. Thanks.

Val Reynolds, Editor


All photography © Pintail Media

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