FROM your first spoonful of cereal at breakfast, to that lunchtime sandwich and cupcake teatime treat, MUCH of what we eat every day contains wheat, and with it, the protein that forms gluten, writes Kate Whiting.

Now imagine you were Italian and you’d grown up eating pasta and pizza. You trained as a chef to cook the meals you love and then one day you’re diagnosed with coeliac disease and have to stop eating them altogether.

This is exactly what happened to 63-year-old Giancarlo Caldesi, who runs two restaurants and a cookery school with his British wife Katie, and who has type 2 diabetes.

“I close my eyes and think of original pizza in Naples – best pizza ever – and it makes me want to sit down and cry,” admits the father of two boys, when w We meet in London cookery school La Cucina Caldesi. Just the day before after a three-year struggle with “debilitating” symptoms, he’d finally had the official diagnosis from his doctor following positive blood test results.

Caused by the immune system reacting to gluten, coeliac disease affects one in 100 people, with symptoms including bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden weight loss, hair loss and anaemia.

The only treatment is to entirely cut out gluten from the dietwhich includes cutting wheat, barley and rye, in order to manage symptoms and avoid serious long-term complications.

Now Giancarlo and his wife have created a ‘New Food, New You’ cookery course, to show people that it is possible to cook gluten (and sugar) free meals that are still tasty and satisfying.

Try some of the Caldesis’ recipes for yourself...

(Makes 4 palm-sized pizzas)

For the base: 100g cooked sweet potato, mashed; 100g buckwheat flour; 15g parmesan cheese, finely grated; 2 large eggs, separated; 1/2tsp fine salt; 3/4tsp gluten-free baking powder; 120ml cold water For the sauce: 200g tinned plum tomatoes; 1tsp (heaped) dried oregano; 1/2tsp fine salt; 1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.

For the pizzas: 1 x 125g ball of buffalo mozzarella, drained; 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; Handful of basil leaves. Any other toppings you likeFurther toppings could be olives, rocket, ham, figs, smoked bacon, chorizo, salami, spinach.

Bake the potato in the oven or microwave until soft, then mash. Preheat the oven to 200°C and put two oven trays inside, spaced apart, upside down so that they become hot. Cut two pieces of baking parchment the size of the trays and set aside for later. Make up the tomato sauce by blending the ingredients together with a stick blender or liquidiser. Blend the tomato sauce ingredients together.

Scoop out the flesh from the potato skin and put into a bowl, Mash the potatoeswith a fork or potato masher and allow to cool. It should be smooth, if it isn’t, use a stick blender to get rid of any lumps. When the mashed potato is at room temperature, add the rest of the ingredients for the base, including the egg yolks, but leave out the egg whites at this stage. Beat together until smooth using a wooden spoon or spatula. Whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks and then gently fold into the potato mixture a little at a time. Do not over-mix as you want to keep the mixture as light as possible.

Divide the mixture into four and spoon onto the baking parchment, two per piece. Spread them out with a metal spoon or a large palette knife into discs around 0.5 to 1cm thick with a spoon. Put them into the oven to Oven cook for eight minutes, or until firm to the touch and the edges become golden brown. Remove from the oven and peel away the paper to stop it sweating underneath – keep the paper for later. Put the pizza base onto a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. This stage can be done in advance, leaving the pizza to be cooked again later after topping. It can also be cooled, wrapped tightly in cling film and kept in the fridge for three days, or frozen for three months at this stage. Defrost before use.

When you are ready to cook the pizzas, Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the tomato sauce over each base and add toppings tear over the mozzarella. Dress with any further toppings and slide them back onto the baking parchment into the oven using a pizza shovel or flat tray. Bake for eight to 10 minutes until the mozzarella is bubbling and the crust becomes crisp and browned. Remove from the oven and serve with a drizzle of oil and basil leaves.

l Recipes courtesy of La Cucina Caldesi. To find out more about the ‘New Food, New You’ cookery course, visit