May 11th – 17th marks Coeliac Awareness Week in the UK. The week is designed to raise people’s awareness of the symptoms of coeliac disease and encourage those who have the related symptoms to seek the need for correct diagnosis.
This is what Coeliac UK have to say:
“While awareness of coeliac disease and the gluten-free diet is growing, there is still low awareness of the symptoms and how they affect people differently before diagnosis.
We believe people may also be potentially linking their symptoms to other conditions or not treating them seriously enough to seek further help. Creating a stronger link between their symptoms and coeliac disease will help people become more informed, empowered and confident to have their symptoms investigated and seek a diagnosis.”
Gluten-free diets are increasingly popular for a range of reasons and it’s great to see more and more companies and restaurants are accommodating them. However, there is also an attitude you sometimes find that many people are giving up gluten because it is fashionable; there has even been opposition to plans for better labelling in restaurants. Hard to believe, right?
Though I am not gluten-free myself, when eating out with friends who are there is a very familiar experience they must face; a lot of places simply do not cater for you and, when they do, it’s a kind of like-it-or-lump-it approach with one option on offer. There are certainly parallels to be drawn between this and how being vegetarian was ten years ago (things have improved a little for us since then).
In support of Coeliac Awareness Week, I’m sharing this Caramel Pear Bake. It’s also dairy-free, vegan and free from refined sugars. To make it an extra special treat, I sprinkled on some of Nākd‘s brand new nibbles in ‘Toffee Treat’ flavour for a bit of added texture, taste and goodness. You could skip them if you wanted to but to me they were the perfect finishing touch.
- 1kg conference pears, top & tailed, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
- 50ml water
- For the caramel sauce:
- 150g dates, soaked in hot water for one hour then chopped roughly
- 125ml almond milk
- ¼tsp vanilla essence
- 1tsp plant-based honey (I used Sweet Freedom)
- For the topping:
- 50g fine ground polenta
- 50g dairy-free margarine
- 3-4tbsp almond milk
- ½tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 bag Nakd 'Toffee Treat' Nibbles (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4
- In a deep oven-proof dish, add the pear slices layer by layer until the whole dish is evenly covered and several layers deep
- Add the caramel sauce ingredients to a food processor. Blend until they have formed a thick creamy sauce - do not rinse your blender at this point. Depending on the power of your blender, if there are still lumps, run your sauce through a fine metal sieve to remove
- Add 50ml of water to your blender and whizz for it will collect any remaining sauce. Pour this over the pears and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes
- Mix the polenta and margarine together to form a smooth paste. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly.
- Once the pears reach the 45 minute mark, remove from the oven and spoon over the polenta mix. Spread evenly to form one layer or drizzle over for a more rustic pudding. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes
- Once the pears have softened and the polenta top has turned slightly crisp, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. As it cools, add the caramel sauce to a small pan over a medium-low heat and gently heat through.
- Divide into six portions and sprinkle on the Nakd nibbles. Pour over the caramel sauce and serve!
Have you cooked any gluten-free desserts? Share your recipes in the comments!