Tag Archives: Asda

#FFFA19

It seems almost impossible that a year has passed since my last journey to London for a judging stint at the FreeFrom Food Awards (#FFFA19), and yet, here I am, on the train heading home after another great day of finding some fab free from foods. I feel so privileged to be a part of the judging team and it really is no exaggeration to say that it is easily one of the highlights of my year. Not only do I get to taste and discover some fantastic new products to the market, obviously always feeling very hopeful that I might even find some that are M-friendly as well as delicious, but I have made some lovely friends along the way and the judging sessions are always the best opportunity to do some much-needed catching up over food and a cup of tea.

My day started with “Foods to Go”, which Mike and I judged on the one occasion I let him join me for the experience and which nicely balanced out the sweetness that I knew the afternoon would be filled with. You never quite know what you’re going to get in this category and this year was no different as the first few mouthfuls included dried fruit snacks, soup, noodles, sandwiches and sweet rice cakes! It was a relatively small category for us to make our way through thing – just 16 items to try – which is always a good thing and I was one of the lucky few able to try everything being neither gluten-free or vegetarian.

My highlights of this session were:

Thai Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup: This was a surprise hit for me. I am not usually a big fan of carrot soup as I find it inevitably sweet, but the delicate balance of the Thai spices alongside the vegetables gave every mouthful a tantalising delicious and fragrant flavour. I haven’t spotted this soup on the supermarket shelf before – though to be perfectly honest, I’d probably have passed it by anyway – but I will definitely be looking out for it in the future.

Made Without Wheat Chicken & Bacon Sandwich: Apologies for my failure to get a photo of this, but this was a delicious, well-filled chicken and bacon mayo sandwich, which was not only gluten-free, but also dairy-free and I know will be a definite winner with G. I was impressed by the quantity of the filling as well as the flavour and texture of the bread – you really wouldn’t be able to tell it was gluten-free if you didn’t know. Sandwiches can be one of the hardest things to find when we’re out and about, so this will no doubt become a firm favourite in our family.

Caramel Rice Cakes: These weren’t necessarily the biggest hit in the room due to their to-be-expected sweetness, but I fell in love with them as they’re pretty much safe for M and will give him a great sweet treat that can be added occasionally added to his lunch-box.

This year saw my return to one of my favourite categories, that of Tea-time treats, not least because it was there in 2016 I first discovered the incredible Borough 22, who perfected the most indescribably delicious doughnuts that are safe for both children and are still a regular favourite in our household. I had gone with strict instructions from M to see if I could find anything that might be safe for him, and with a few more ingredients to play with I was hopeful that I might just have some luck. The afternoon session did not disappoint and with 5 different chocolate cakes to taste amongst the 29 products, it was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

My highlights?:

Gluten-, dairy- and nut-free Occasion cake: First of all, we were completely blown away by the appearance of this incredible wedding cake which had been carefully driven to the FFFA HQ for our enjoyment; and then the taste simply took my breath away. Amazing sponge, creamy buttercream without being too sickly sweet and enough sharpness in the jam to cut through the sweetness – utter perfection and one I would definitely recommend.

Tea-cakes: Nothing beats a toasted tea-cake and a cup of tea and it was wonderful to find this vegan and gluten-free alternative for this Sunday tea favourite. Another one of those “I don’t think you’d know it’s free from” treats we got to try and one I’m definitely going to be trying out with G.

Raw Mince Pie: Now, this will be a surprising highlight to just about anyone who knows me as they know that I absolutely hate most things with dried fruit – fruit cake, Christmas pudding or mince pies are not anything I would willingly put near my mouth on your average day. But, this was not your average day and I absolutely had to try a small bit for the sake of fair judging. It was surprisingly tasty and whilst I’ll confess that I wouldn’t necessarily rush out to buy these for myself, I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an allergy-friendly, vegan Christmas treat.

My thanks go to Michelle, Cressida and Sue for their hospitality today and to all those producers who keep working hard to produce these delicious free from foods that give those living with food allergies, just like G and M, the opportunity to eat the same things as the friends and family safely. Keep an eye out for the shortlist in February and final winners, who will be announced on March 20th.

And that’s a wrap

cookery

I don’t know about you, but I frequently find that mealtimes can get a bit repetitive, especially when we’ve had to cut yet another staple from M’s diet.  Much as I love to cook and bake, sometimes I really, really hate having to decide what to prepare for dinner.  Add into the mix the need for packed lunches on a daily basis, which are generally formed of the same key ingredients due to a restricted diet and I end up pulling my hair out in desperation.  M’s recent longing for a prawn mayonnaise sandwich meant that I had to seek inspiration and work out whether it was possible to create something even vaguely similar or not.

prawnsThe easy bit, believe it or not, was the prawn mayonnaise.  Using a squirt of some Really Not Dairy original mayonnaise, a dash of Heinz tomato ketchup and a generous serving of prawns, I was able to whip up a reasonable prawn cocktail. I diced a chunk of cucumber, grated some carrot and threw a handful of sweetcorn in to add a couple of portions of vegetables to the filling too.  This mayonnaise is egg-, dairy- and soya-free and tastes more like salad cream than traditional mayonnaise, but it does the job and has been a great find for M.

Next came the more challenging aspect, the bread.  G is able to enjoy Genius bread, which is the best gluten- and wheat-free bread we’ve tried, but unfortunately it contains both egg white and potato starch which are now excluded from M’s diet. 20140317_171113 M’s sandwiches are usually made from Sakata rice crackers as his bread is really only edible when toasted, but these are small and don’t lend themselves to being a critical part of a prawn mayonnaise sandwich!  Mike and I both enjoy eating wraps, either for lunch or filled and baked for a Mexican inspired dinner and at last year’s Allergy and Free From show we stumbled across the amazing Bfree gluten-free wraps.  These taste delicious and both children enjoyed them whilst we had some.  Unfortunately, they are incredibly difficult to source in the UK, though most larger Asda stores do stock them now and I headed to our nearest shop with my fingers tightly crossed to see if they were available.

Part of my regular shopping routine, even when buying foods that I’ve bought before, is to scan quickly through the ingredients list for anything that isn’t M-friendly.  Recipes do change, even on tried and tested products, so it’s worth those few extra minutes to avoid days or even weeks of pain because of a missed offending food.  To my dismay, I noted that the wraps contained potato starch, which is now a forbidden food for M and I thought my chances of buying a good alternative to satisfy M’s cravings were over.  I went home and even attempted to make some M-friendly wraps, but the rice flour didn’t lend itself to the recipe and the kids understandably turned their noses up at the finished product that was presented to them.

20140317_170320It was a couple of weeks later when I was in our local Waitrose, that I spied a new-to-me package on their free-from shelves, Newburn Bakehouse gluten-free wraps.  I picked it up to cast my eye over the ingredients, fully expecting to find either egg or potato flour or both lurking there, but to my delight, this new product contained nothing that wasn’t M-friendly and I quickly snapped up the remaining pack to take home and try.

I prepared M’s lunch using one of the Newburn Bakehouse wraps and a generous spoonful of my home-made prawn mayonnaise and called him to the table.  He was overwhelmed to see his much longed-for sandwich waiting for him and made short work of devouring it all.  He relished every bite and, what’s more, requested a second wrap, something that doesn’t happen all that often in our household.  The wraps looked and tasted good and, with 3 to a pack, there was enough left for his school lunchbox on Monday.  Both M and I award them with a much-deserved 10 out of 10 – a great product, delicious to eat and suitable for a MEWS-diet, what more could a Mum ask for?

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