This week marks the start of the 2018 Free From Food Awards (#FFFA18) and another stint of judging, something that has become a real highlight of my year, especially as it brings a highlight to an otherwise grey and somewhat miserable month following the excitements of Christmas. Ever since the list of fellow judges reached my inbox, I’ve been looking forward to the day itself as I will be a judging a new category to me with a group of fantastic bloggers and friends that I’ve got to know over the last few years and I’ve no doubt it’ll be a day filled with laughter and chatter and good-natured banter.
However, with the FFFA just around the corner, I’ve realised that I owe an apology to a fellow judge from last year’s awards, who gave G in particular a great opportunity after we met and who I never got round to thanking via my blog. Mike and I were fortunate to meet Nicki, a Brand manager from Tesco, who was keen to send some samples of the then new range of Freefrom chilled meals that Tesco were about to launch. A cool box of meals arrived with us and G, Mike and I all enjoyed trying and tasting the variety available to anyone looking for a gluten-, dairy- and egg-free ready meal. They weren’t all to G’s taste, but it was wonderful to see the selection she was able to choose from for dinner.
From traditional Chicken Hotpot with stuffing and Beef casserole with dumplings – both of which G loved – to the more exotic flavours of Katsu Chicken curry and Green Thai Chicken curry – which became firm favourites with Mike and me – there really is something for everyone. G is not always the bravest when it comes to trying new dishes and some of these really did push her taste buds to their absolute limit, but I was impressed, for the most part, with the quality of the meals as well as their flavours. The biggest disappointment was the two Italian dishes: Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom pasta and Pulled Beef and Red Wine Ragu with Spaghetti, neither of which survived being frozen and then recooked at a later date. Both the pasta and the sauces became watery and were, in our opinion, frankly inedible by the time they reached the table. It was disappointing as pasta is usually a favourite in our household, but having had surprising successes with some of the other meals, my overall review would definitely be positive about this new range. As much as I love to cook from scratch, and usually do, the opportunity to be able to keep a few firm favourites in the freezer for those unexpected times when being able to throw something into either the oven or microwave is much-needed is absolutely invaluable to me as a working Mum and I’m grateful to Tesco for creating these dishes.
Just the other day, I was reminded once again of just how far the supermarkets have come with their allergy-friendly offerings since our freefrom journey started, when I spotted this fantastic array of dairy-free choices in the fridges of our local Tesco. It was an absolute delight to be able to take my time exploring all that was there to see what treats I could find for G to enjoy at the end of her meals. These are exciting times for those of us in the allergy community as more and more shops, cafes and restaurants strive to improve and increase what they offer to those on restricted diets and I’m delighted to be a part of it.
It saddens me that my 2.5 year old still can’t tolerate a single item pictured above. Mainly due to the fact legumes and coconut are taking over the free from world.
We have no diagnosis other than the exasperating “multiple food intolerances/atopic”. But it’s been a long 2 years weaning and discovering our triggers. Coupled with sensory issues, food aversion and possible Aspergers, it makes for a tricky life. We still use mostly 4 and 7 month pouches puree (homemade is the wrong texture no matter how hard I try!) With toast and a few safe snacks, that’s our lot alongside the ever present Neocate (which causes issues since they changed from Active to Junior).
Tesco recently stopped stocking the one solid “meat” my boy could and would eat; their free from frozen fish fingers. They are the only ones available in stores in Scotland without chickpea or pea flour. My only other option is mail order with a hefty £6.90 postage (can’t even stock up on other treats as only 3 foods on the entire website are suitable!). I just have to hope he starts tolerating a few more ingredients soon!
I’m so sorry to hear that your 2.5 year old can’t tolerate many of the foods in the FF world, and can totally empathise too. M so rarely is able to eat much that we can buy from supermarket shelves and we frequently spend small fortunes buying the few prepared goods he can eat and getting them shipped to our house. Here’s to improvements in what he can eat and finding a few more safe ingredients. Thanks for sharing your experience x
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