By Nell Gordon-Hall (@saucynell) / 3 December 2020


All images Nell's own

The 1st-7th December is Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are invisible chronic illnesses that cause inflammation and ulcers within the colon. Sufferers often experience extreme pain, fatigue and depression. Flare-ups can last for days or even months, and completely wipe you out. They can be triggered by stress, diet, or sometimes they occur at random, making them very hard to control. Although there are established medications and procedures for Crohn’s and Colitis, as yet there is no cure.

I have been suffering from Ulcerative Colitis since I was 8 years old and was diagnosed when I was 13. I am fortunate that I have never had to have surgery or go on steroids. Nevertheless, I have experienced many flare-ups, which have made me put my life on hold, leaving me feeling extremely low. In year 12 I became so ill that I missed a vast amount of school and had to retake the whole year - it was very demoralising. When I have a flare-up, simple things like getting up in the morning, getting dressed or making plans can be exhausting and challenging. I find myself constantly worrying whether I will have enough energy, feel nauseous or need to go to the toilet.

I have found that although the medication I’m prescribed helps keep my Colitis at bay, it doesn’t prevent flare-ups. As a result, I’ve tried combining traditional medicine with several complementary treatments: Chinese medicine, acupuncture, reflexology, cranial osteopathy, and even Systematic Kinesiology. But in the end, I have found that the most effective means of keeping my condition under control is through diet. Now, as a recipe developer, this does not come naturally to me as I am the biggest foodie around, and I love to try everything! But I have slowly come to realise that the short-term pleasure I get from eating certain foods is not worth the misery of their bad after-effects. So, I have had to learn to be very creative with my ‘safe’ foods: vegetables with minimal fibre, white meat, fish, minimal dairy, very little sugar and everything gluten-free.

I have created 5 gluten-free recipes for anybody with a sensitive stomach. They are easy, yummy, and good for the tummy.

1. Fish fingers and tartar sauce



(Serves 2)

2 boneless/skinned cod or haddock loins 

3 pieces GF (gluten-free) bread

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 lemon zest + lemon for serving

2 eggs 

4 tbsp cornflour or GF plain flour 

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Tartar sauce:

3 tbsp mayonnaise 

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar 

1 teaspoon capers, finely chopped 

2 cornichons, finely chopped 

salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Blend the bread in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs. 
  3. Place into a bowl and add the parsley and lemon zest. Mix well and season to taste. 
  4. In a small bowl beat 2 eggs.
  5. In another small bowl place the cornflour. 
  6. Pat the fish dry with a kitchen towel. Then slice into long thick strips. You should get about 4 per fillet.
  7. Cover each strip in cornflour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and place on an oiled oven tray. 
  8. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. 
  9. While the fish fingers are cooking make the tartar sauce. To do this mix together all the ingredients and season to taste. 
  10. Remove fish fingers from the oven and serve with a quartered lemon and a dollop of tartar sauce. This recipe is delicious with a side of minty peas and new potatoes. 

2. Anchovy, garlic, chilli and parsley spaghetti



(Serves 2)

200g GF spaghetti 

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1/2 red chilli, finely sliced

A handful parsley, finely chopped

2 anchovy fillets in olive oil

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil 


  1. Fill a large pan with water and a handful of salt. Place over a medium to high heat. 
  2. Once the water boils add the spaghetti and make sure you frequently agitate the pasta in the water to prevent the strands from sticking together.
  3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan add olive oil, garlic, anchovies and chilli. Fry on medium-low heat. You want the anchovies to dissolve into a paste and the garlic and chilli to soften. 
  4. When the pasta is al-dente (after about 7 minutes depending on the spaghetti you are using), reserve some pasta water in a mug and drain the pasta. 
  5. Add the pasta to the frying pan, with a little of the reserved pasta water. Keep the pan on a low heat and mix everything. Add the parsley and any more pasta water if you want a more moist, silky texture. 
  6. Serve. 

3. Chicken shawarma pitta with tahini sauce



(Serves 2)

2 chicken breasts

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin 

1 teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon sumac

Half a lemon’s zest 

2 tbsp yoghurt 

1 courgette

2 GF pitta bread 

Tahini sauce:

2 tablespoon tahini 

1/2 lemon’s juice

1 teaspoon dried mint

A little water to make into a sauce

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 

Salt and pepper 


5 lettuce leaves, chopped 

1 peeled carrot 

1/2 lemon’s juice 

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil



  1. Cut the chicken breasts into strips. Place into a medium-sized bowl and add the garlic cloves, lemon zest, yoghurt, paprika, cumin, mint and sumac. Massage everything into the chicken, cover with tin foil or place in a tupperware container and let the chicken marinate for 24 hours. 
  2. After 24 hours it’s time to prepare all the other components of the pitta. Cut your courgette in half widthways and then slice lengthways. Heat a griddle pan with some olive oil and place the courgette slices on. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side (until they are softened and browned in a stripy pattern).
  3. In a mug place the tahini lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and dried mint. Mix thoroughly with cold water, half a teaspoon at a time, to make the mixture into a liquid. Season to taste.
  4. Reheat the griddle pan with a little olive oil. Place the marinated chicken strips on it and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. 
  5. Whilst the chicken is cooking, mix the salad in a small bowl. Add the lettuce and peel the carrot into the bowl so you have thick carrot strips. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. Toss until all the leaves are covered. 
  6. Toast your pitta. Take the chicken off the heat and let it rest for a couple of minutes. 
  7. To assemble your pitta. First add a layer of tahini sauce, salad, chicken, courgette and then drizzle tahini sauce over the chicken. 
  8. Enjoy.

4. Saffron crispy rice with fried courgette, onion and crumbled feta



(Serves 2)

1 cup long-grain rice

1 pinch saffron 

1/2 tsp salt 

1 tsp bouillon 

Olive oil 

Knob of butter 

1 courgette, grated

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/4 block of feta 


  1. Add the rice to a large pan and wash three or four times with water. You want the water to be almost clear. Once washed and drained keep the rice in the large pan.
  2. Add the saffron to a small bowl and cover it in 2 tablespoons boiling water. Let sit for a couple of minutes. 
  3. Add the saffron and water to the rice along with the salt, bouillon and a little olive oil. Mix and fry everything together on a low heat until the water has absorbed into the rice. Then add double and  a quarter amount of water to the pan. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 4 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover with a clean kitchen towel and place a lid on top. Leave the rice to steam for 25 minutes. 
  4. After 15 minutes, fry the onion and courgette together on a medium heat with some olive oil. You want both to be soft and caramelised. 
  5. Once the rice has steamed, in a non-stick pan (the best is medium-sized and deep), melt the butter on medium heat and add the rice to the melted butter. 
  6. Leave to cook for around 7 minutes.
  7. Flip the rice onto your serving plate so the browned, crunchy rice is on top, and sprinkle with the courgette, red onion and crumble the feta over. 

5. White chocolate and pistachio gluten-free cannoli


(Makes 15)

Cannoli shell (Shoutout to Nichole Hunn for the shell recipe):

280g plain GF flour + extra for dusting

1 tsp xanthan gum 

30g icing sugar 

1 tsp ground cinnamon 

1/4 tsp fine salt

45g unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup Marsala wine, room temperature 

2 litres sunflower oil 


100g white chocolate 

250g ricotta 

150ml crème fraîche

1 tbsp icing sugar 

20g pistachios, roughly chopped 


  1. Mix the flour, xanthan gum, icing sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl until well incorporated.
  2. Make a well in the middle and add the butter and Marsala wine. Mix everything until you have a dough. I find it easiest to do this with my hands so the butter is not left in clumps. Add water half a teaspoon at a time if the mixture is not wet enough to form a dough. 
  3. Mould the dough into a ball and place in a bowl covered with a damp, clean tea towel while you make the filling.
  4. Melt your white chocolate in the microwave or a bain-marie. 
  5. Add the melted chocolate to a medium-sized mixing bowl along with the ricotta, crème fraîche and icing sugar. Whip everything together and leave in the fridge. 
  6. Dust a clean surface with flour. Cut your dough in half and roll out the first half of the dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out circles in the dough that are about 3 inches wide. Then dust each with flour and stack so that you have space to roll out the other half of dough and do the same. Re-knead and then roll out any dough scraps. 
  7. Heat the sunflower oil on medium-high heat in a high-sided pan.
  8. To shape the cannoli either use cannoli moulds, which you can find in kitchen shops, or mould tin foil around your index and middle finger. 
  9. Wrap each circle of dough around the mould and seal with some water. 
  10. Once the oil is very hot place the cannoli shells in the oil with the mould still in place. Fry until golden on all sides. 
  11. Remove carefully and place on kitchen paper to drain. 
  12. When cooled remove the mould and pipe the ricotta mixture into the middle hole. 
  13. Dip the ends of the cannoli into the chopped pistachios and stuff one in your mouth! 

You can find more delicious recipes by Nell at @saucynell

If you suspect you have Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis you can view the symptoms on this website: Crohn's & Colitis UK (, and book an appointment with your GP to discuss.

Words by
Nell Gordon-Hall

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