Gluten Free and Out in the Cold

Did you see the findings from the survey that Warburton’s Free From carried out?

11% of Brits wouldn’t invite someone—even family and friends—to a meal if they had special dietary needs, such as needing a gluten free diet. This even includes Christmas dinner and wedding breakfasts, events that are usually inclusive and welcoming!

This is mostly for ‘good’ reasons: fear about making their guests ill, or not knowing what to cook. But it really doesn’t have to be hard, as a lot of food is naturally gluten free.

Reassuringly, most of those surveyed thought they could cater for these friends if they had the right advice: 87%.

If you’re worried about inviting someone with special dietary needs to eat with you, then ask them for help and advice! There is advice online, but asking the person you’d like to cater for what would would be OK for them not only makes it easier for you, but is also reassuring for them.

It is unnerving to go to eat somewhere else, because of the risk involved. You could help your visitor out by telling them what you plan to offer, asking where the risks lie and discussing alternatives.

They may be worried about cross-contamination in your kitchen. It means gluten unintentionally getting into their food – it doesn’t mean they think your kitchen is dirty! It’s easily done: transferring crumbs, for example, on a knife, or maybe serving two dishes, one gluten free and one not, with the same spoon. Your guest won’t want to be rude, but slip-ups like this may mean they can’t eat what you’re offering.

Please do invite people! Even if they prefer to bring their own […]

Taste Test: Helen’s Brilliant Mixes

Ever got to nearly-lunch-time and realised that you didn’t have any gluten free bread?

That certainly happens to us!

We were recently sent some of Helens Brilliant Mixes to try the scones, brown bread, and white bread. These have been around for a while; I think we picked up a pack of bread mix in Sainsbury’s some time ago. They’re obviously having a marketing push at the moment to try to bring them to the attention of the consumers. That’s us!

The mixes were just as good as I had remembered. We whizzed the scones up in no time, when some surprise guests arrived, and they went down very well with everyone. I know that ‘normal’ scones are really speedy too, but it was good to have something quick, easy and gluten free to offer.

And both breads turned out well too. The white bread takes a little longer, but it is versatile, as it could apparently be used as a pizza base or foccaccia. We’ll have to try doing that next time.

I don’t normally buy mixes, because I was taught to bake from scratch as a child—though before we knew anything about coeliac disease. But I can see that having a ready prepared mix would be very helpful, particularly if you’ve recently been diagnosed, since baking gluten free is different to ‘normal’ baking. And I would be tempted to buy these again, as they seem reliable, and my daughter liked the results.

Though it must be said that no ready mix is going to be as cheap to use as mixing your own from the basic ingredients—you’re paying for the convenience. But that might be a […]

It’s The Little Things: Allergy & Free From Show 2012

Are you going to London for the Allergy & Free From Show 2012? It’s less than a fortnight away now, but if you don’t have a ticket yet, you can still get a free ticket here.

We’ll be there.

We went last year, and it was great. Exhausting, because it is such a big event, but really enjoyable. We talked to very many different manufacturers, and learnt a lot about new products and services. I just love to see the range of products available to us constantly increasing… and I am delighted by the choice now available!

But the best bit, for me, was when we took a break for lunch in the cafe, which was selling only gluten-free products. That was excellent in itself (and they were pre-packaged, so no risk of cross-contamination). But there was more…

We sat down to eat, and I tucked in to my gluten free houmous and red pepper sandwich, without realising that my teenage daughter didn’t know how to open the triangular box to get at hers. Because she’d never, ever, eaten a sandwich that had been wrapped up and made available for sale before.

I’ll write that again: she’d never eaten a bought gluten free sandwich before. Obviously she’s eaten gluten free sandwiches all her life, but a year ago, we’d never seen one available for sale, still less one wrapped up in a triangular display box.

Such a little thing—a tiny thing—but it shows just how different her experience of life has been from that of most of her peers.

And she was thrilled. Here it is, a year later, and it still comes up in conversation occasionally. The […]

Gluten Free Tipping Point?

Are we at a tipping point?

Has living gluten free finally become normalised?

In the course of one day last week, I learnt that:

  • one of the restaurants in our nearest town has a gluten free menu
  • one of the bakeries in that town has a poster in the window, advertising that they stock gluten free products (it turns out these are from the Gluten Free Kitchen, and they are delicious, particularly the carrot cake and the coffee and walnut…
  • and the cafe down the road is stocking Delice de France gluten free bread rolls and sweet muffins. I didn’t even know Delice de France offered gluten free products!

So: is the gluten free diet becoming the norm, and acceptable in the way that, say, the vegetarian diet is acceptable? Or was this just one day in which I really looked at my local town?

Free From Food Awards Winners 2012

Finally home after an exciting jaunt to London for the Free From Foods Awards ceremony last night. You may remember that I was invited to judge a couple of the Awards categories a while ago, which was fun, so I was looking forward to the awards evening.

It turned out to be even better than I’d expected.

Imagine a room full of people with huge enthusiasm for free from food: tiny specialist companies and big retailers, journalists and bloggers, nutritionists and food development specialists, and add the party elements of delicious (and safe to eat) canapés, gluten free beer and wine… You can imagine the noise level!

It was a bigger event than I’d expected, and more international, too. There were around 150 people there – up from the 40 that the awards started with 5 years ago. It’s obviously going from strength to strength, refining and adding to the categories for entrants over time. Next year, for the first time, there’ll be a category for children’s free from foods for example. Now that’s something to look forward to!

And I had a lot of interesting conversations.

Did you know, for example, that Mrs Crimbles (Stiletto Foods) has 40 product lines? I didn’t, as all I see are what my local stores will stock.

And as I moved around the room talking to as many different people as I could (I talked to about 35 different people, so I did pretty well) it became clear that there was a consistent theme to the evening.

Companies of all sizes face a problem in getting free from products in front of people like us, the end consumers. No […]

By |April 18th, 2012|Awards, Living Gluten Free|Comments Off