Gluten Free Christmas Dinner at Sainsburys

Bizarre as it sounds, given that this is still early October, I helped Sainsbury’s cook a Christmas dinner last night.

Well, in theory. In practice I spent too much time chatting to the other guests to do much cooking, so the fact that we had a delicious meal is no credit to me.

Among many others, I chatted to Dena from Beautiful, Active, Nourished, a nutrition and health business based in South Manchester, where she runs clinics and also has a gluten free bakery/patisserie; and Kate, from Postcards from a Gluten Free Life. Kate recommended Bake A Boo in West Hampstead for afternoon tea; if I ever take my coeliac daughter to London (after a must-do trip to Sainsbury’s in Pimlico, which apparently has the biggest gluten free range in the country), that’s where we should go.

I also met Kirsty from Worthenshaws, whose new Freedom desserts won approval in the Dragons Den – they’re now available across the country. Like many others, her son has a nut allergy and dairy intolerance; unlike almost all others, she decided to set up a business to create foods he could eat and enjoy.

I talked search engine optimisation with Darren from PHD, and social media with Hayley from Dare. And it was good to meet the Sainsbury’s team, some of whom I met in February.

I wish I’d had more time to talk to the other gluten free bloggers – such an interesting mix of people. Do go and check out, for instance,and

Apart from all the talking, we produced between us (though the Sainsbury’s Try […]

Free for Tea? Free From Gluten: Happy Birthday Genius

invitation to afternoon tea at Claridges from GeniusHow hard would you find it to have afternoon tea at Claridges in the company of other gluten free bloggers, journalists and companies supporting coeliacs?

(For any of you not from the UK: Claridges is an extremely upmarket smart hotel in Mayfair).

I’m guessing: not hard at all! I certainly wasn’t going to decline the invitation (see right) from Genius to meet them there for afternoon tea – I was only too pleased to be invited, so I set off from the frozen north yesterday to join them in London.

And what a glamorous event it was… This was partly a first birthday party for Genius, so we were greeted with a glass of champagne and set loose to discuss matters gluten free.

Time to chat…

Naturally, I met Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, whose brainchild Genius is; like me, and others there, she has children with allergies; but we aren’t all professionally trained chefs impelled to make a difference by devising a ground-breaking new bread. Yay, Lucinda!

Coeliac UK were well represented by Anne Maloney (Corporate Partnerships Officer) and Norma McGough (Head of Diet and Health), and with them I discussed CD and teenagers attitudes to food and risk; the cost differential of gluten free products over normal products, and the difficulty this adds if you’re a low-income family on benefits; and the influence of family medical history (other coeliacs in the family, diabetes, psoriasis etc) over environmental impact (breastfeeding, for example, is recommended). If you’re newly diagnosed – or even if you’re not! – Coeliac UK are an excellent resource.

I met Liz and John from Coeliac […]

Gluten Free Fun at Sainsbury’s HQ

So much fun at Sainsbury’s last night…

Unusually, Sainsbury’s has product development kitchens at headquarters. So a team of bloggers with an interest in cooking allergy-free turned up at the very smart Sainsbury HQ in the middle of London. As I arrived, most people were leaving the offices for the evening, but the front desk were still warm and welcoming – always a great start, when the reception team confirms the brand of the company.

free-fromAfter champagne and canapés (I told you it was fun) we were rapidly pressed into service, cooking our own dinner using recipes crafted by the Sainsbury’s Try Team to suit the range of different allergies and intolerances we represented. Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, nut free, egg free, and soya free at least – did I miss something?

Two teams, one sweet and one savoury …I volunteered to prep the treacle tarts, while others made cupcakes, and dairy-free icecream. In the other kitchen, people made Asian fish cakes, a stir fry, Thai beef salad, prawn Pad Thai and some spiced sweet potato wedges.

Naturally, we were togged up in hairnets and white coats, flapping around as you do in a strange kitchen. Where do they keep their knives? Who’s got the scissors? It was a little like those cookery programmes, where frantic members of the public cook for experts, while simultaneously chatting to the presenters and someone in the back is calling out ‘5 minutes left’… Except that they don’t have nearly so much fun as we had. I met a lot of very interesting people, learned a great deal about how Sainsbury’s develops and markets its free from products, and still managed […]

Allergy Friendly Cooking with Sainsbury’s

SainsburysSo this is exciting!

Today I get to leave rural Cheshire and travel to London to meet a variety of other bloggers… some with food intolerances, others with a deep interest in food generally. We’ve all been invited by Sainsbury’s to their headquarters to cook an allergy friendly meal with the help of the Sainsbury’s Try Team. Some of us will be cooking sweet things; others will be cooking savoury. And then we get to eat what we’ve cooked!

How much fun is that?

I’ll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, here are some of the other bloggers I’m looking forward to meeting tonight. Do go and explore their sites…

Claire at Fashion By Student

Pippa at The Intolerant Gourmet

Molly at The Particular Kitchen

Robin at Source it, Cook it, Eat it

Nicola at Nicola F.A.B

Lorna Yates – Lorna on Twitter

Tor at Fab Frocks

Paul at Paul’s Cooking…

Mowie at Mowielicious

Dena at Beautiful. Active. Nourished

Anne at Anne’s Kitchen

Celiac Symposium – 3 days to go

No, of course I’m not going – its happening on the wrong side of the Atlantic. But it should be really interesting, and I’d love to hear from anyone who is going.

I’m especially pleased to see that they are running a series of events connecting teens with celiac – including pizza and packed lunches!

There’s a great deal of stuff happening:

The symposium is expected to attract healthcare industry leaders, clinicians, nutritionists, diagnostic and pharmaceutical executives, scientists, policy makers, patients and journalists and will touch on every aspect of adult and pediatric celiac disease – diagnosis, treatment, science and public policy. This symposium emerged as the single most important forum for bringing together the world leaders who will determine the nature of celiac disease and its impact on patients around the globe.

It isn’t too late to sign up, though it will be more expensive now.

Here’s hoping that they post transcripts of some of the speeches …