• heinz-gf-spaghetti
    Gluten Free Challenge for Heinz Gluten Free Challenge for Heinz

    Gluten Free Challenge for Heinz

Gluten Free Challenge for Heinz

heinz-gf-spaghettiWe love Heinz here.

16 years ago, when we were first navigating the gluten free diet, it was a huge relief to find that Heinz clearly labelled their products as gluten free (if they were).

This meant that I could say to people feeding my daughter: give her a jacket potato and Heinz baked beans. A reasonable meal, and more importantly, a gluten free meal that could be rustled up by anyone, even those people without experience of the gluten free diet.

And I regularly recommended this as an easy ‘first-night’ meal for those children diagnosed as gluten free, when their parents were worried about where to start.

These days, of course, there are many, many more options, and more manufacturers carry the magic words on their labelling. But the amount of brand loyalty that those two words generated has stuck, and we still love Heinz.

So we were delighted to find out that Heinz are now manufacturing gluten free pasta, and pasta sauces.

To be honest, I’m less excited about the pasta sauces—though I can see they are a natural brand extension—because most tomato-based pasta sauces that I’ve come across are naturally gluten free. (Do watch out for flour used for thickening, and any added items such as sausages, of course).

But the pasta is intriguing.

In ‘the olden days’ I used to create a home-made version of Heinz tinned spaghetti, to go to nursery with our coeliac, so that she was eating something that at least looked a bit like the food the other children were eating. Obviously getting the taste and texture exactly the same would have been tricky!

So when Heinz offered to send us some samples, […]

  • favourites
    Gluten Free Favourites Gluten Free Favourites

    Gluten Free Favourites

Gluten Free Favourites

favouritesI thought it might be helpful to list some of our current favourite gluten free products, for those of you who don’t know where to start. Of course, tastes do vary, but this is a list of reliable products that are (mostly) generally available…

Bear in mind that these do change! But at the moment, our list includes:

Bread

Sainsbury’s soft white sliced bread
Sainsbury’s baguettes
Warburton’s white wraps

Pasta

Tesco’s pasta range
Doves Farm pasta range

Flour

Wellfoods plain flour mix
Doves Farm self-raising flour
Finax Havrebrodmix oat bread mix

Biscuits

Tesco’s chocolate covered wafers
Asda caramel wafers

Cookies

Waitrose’s chocolate chip cookies

Cakes

Waitrose’s millionaire blondies
Waitrose’s country cake slices
Tesco’s victoria sponge

Cake mixes

Hill Cottage Bakery cake mixes (added 28/5/13)

Pizza

Dietary Specials’ Bella d’Italia pizza

Breakfast

Genius Pains au Chocolat (special treat!)

Ready meals

Tesco’s chicken, bacon and pea pasta (we haven’t seen this for a while)
Marks and Spencer’s breaded chicken
Amy’s Kitchen burritos

Take-away

Domino’s pizza

Snacks

Sakata crackers
Tesco Chipz (like Pringles)
Kelkin chocolate covered rice cakes

What do you think? Obviously this is a UK list… what would your favourites be?

Gluten Free at a PTA Event

happy-child-eatingRunning a PTA event, and wondering how to cater for the children with allergies in your group?

In my experience, parents of coeliac children (and no doubt those with other food allergies or intolerances too) tend to assume that there’ll be nothing at an event that their child can safely eat, and to plan around that—either making sure that the child has eaten beforehand, or by bringing safe foods.

But I was contacted recently by a reader who wanted to offer something to these children at an event which she was organising in the summer, and that made me think about how you could go about doing just that.

Her idea was to offer manufacturers a stall at the event, so that they could promote their products, and visitors could try them out. This is a great idea. Options for this will depend on the scale of your event, but could include:

  • contacting the major manufacturers (here in the UK, these would typically be those companies that produce prescription goods, or the major supermarkets). This group would probably prefer to visit large events, or specific allergy-focused events, so that they can communicate with as many people as possible – but if you don’t ask them, you won’t know.
  • contacting local manufacturers and retailers, to see if they’d like to promote themselves and their products. It’s good to support local businesses, and if, for instance, there’s a local shop that offers allergy products, your visitors may not yet know about it, so you’d be helping out by putting them in touch with each other. This group may not have as much money to spend as the larger companies.

Other options of the do-it-yourself […]

Eat Water and Slim Rice

Slim RiceI was recently sent some Slim Rice to try—it’s made by a company called Eat Water.

There’s been a lot of publicity about this new product over the last few months, but in case you’ve missed it, this is a gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, salt-free carbohydrate-substitute designed to be used in place of rice, pasta and noodles. It has very, very few calories…

They sent me the ‘rice’ to try—obviously real rice is naturally gluten free (so don’t get confused) but since, I imagine, each of the products are fundamentally the same, simply presented in different shapes, it didn’t really matter which one I tried.

And they are all gluten free. All the Eat Water products—rice, pasta and noodles—are listed in the Coeliac UK Food And Drink 2013 directory (under Pasta and Noodles) as being acceptable for a gluten free diet.

So what did I think of it?

I’ve been struggling to know what to say about this product, because there isn’t much to say, as it tastes of very little.

But it is innocuous enough, and with a flavoursome sauce, is fine. And it is, as promised, filling.

It is, apparently, based on moyu (konjac), a vegetable fibre which has been used in Asian cuisines for centuries, and I can imagine that a good use for these products would be in a noodle soup or similar dish – think ‘rice noodles’ as a comparison. A few recipes are available on the Eat Water site to get you started.

If you’re looking for flavour, I’d have to say that eating true rice or a decent pasta would offer more, but if you want to cut down on calories, you […]

  • five-gold-stars
    Try the Shortlist: FreeFrom Foods Awards 2013 Try the Shortlist: FreeFrom Foods Awards 2013

    Try the Shortlist: FreeFrom Foods Awards 2013

Try the Shortlist: FreeFrom Foods Awards 2013

five-gold-stars

At last – the FreeFrom Foods Awards shortlist is out.

I was invited to be on the judging panel for a couple of the categories again this year. This is a privilege—and not just because I got to taste 28 different kinds of cake in an afternoon!

It is fascinating, and a rare chance to spend the day in the company of experts in various aspects of living gluten free.

Plus cake, obviously.

As you’d expect, there were some strong views among the judging team, and lengthy discussion. So much so that we significantly overran the allocated time for the bread session (over 25 different kinds of bread, as well as the cake…)

But we—and the other judging teams—did eventually make our decisions. The winners of the Awards will be announced at the ceremony in London, in April. I’m looking forward to it!

Tasting such a wide variety of bread and cake at the same time made some things really clear. One of these is that the quality of gluten free goods is rising, and therefore that the ‘minimum acceptable quality bar’ for products is getting ever higher these days.

Or it should be.

There are still too many ‘good enough’ products out there on the supermarket shelves. I think we should be expecting more.

Some of the products I tasted were indistinguishable from ‘standard’ products. Not necessarily identical, but they didn’t come with that ‘obviously gluten free’ taste or smell. I’m sure you know what I mean!

One or two of the products were so good that I would buy them even if we didn’t need them to be gluten free. (Not everyone in my family eats gluten free). You’ll have to […]