Christmas is Coming: Mince pies

I know it’s only the first week of October, but I’ve already eaten enough mince pies to have lucky months until April next year…

We were recently sent a box of the new Genius gluten free mince pies to sample, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Surprised because occasionally some of the gluten free mince pies I’ve tasted in the past have been disappointing – hard pastry, a strong aftertaste, odd smell or unpleasant ‘feel’, or not enough mincemeat to the amount of pastry. The same is true of many ‘normal’ mince pies too, to be fair!

And because I’ve not been able to track down any of the new pastry from Genius yet, I wasn’t expecting much.

But these are very nice indeed. In fact, I accidentally ate two today – I love a mince pie.

The mincemeat is excellent, and generously dolloped into the pastry shells. It is moist, with a good consistency, and clearly contains a variety of sultanas, currants and raisins. And there’s a good taste of Bramley and spice. No mixed peel or chopped nuts, which do detract from a mince pie, in my view! And the mincemeat is vegetarian; another important factor. Not vegan: the pies do contain egg and milk.

If I was going to quibble, I’d say that the pastry was a little pale, but that was not a problem: it is soft and tasty, with no grittiness or aftertaste. (If you’ve eaten a lot of gluten free products, you’ll know exactly what I mean here!) If the new pastry is anything like this, I’m going to redouble my efforts to find somewhere that will sell it to me.

These mince pies […]

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 […]

A gluten free Christmas: Day 24


Wishing you a happy – and gluten-free – Christmas!

Here’s a summary of all the posts in this Christmas series:

Day 1: gluten free Advent calendars
Day 2: gluten free Christmas pudding
Day 3: gluten free Christmas cake
Day 4: gluten free Christmas presents
Day 5: gluten free school Christmas dinner
Day 6: gluten free Christmas communion
Day 7: gluten free Christmas shopping
Day 8: gluten free mince pies
Day 9: gluten free social media
Day 10: gluten free at the office Christmas party
Day 11: gluten free Christmas kisses
Day 12: halfway there – are you ready yet?
Day 13: gluten free panettone and stollen
Day 14: gluten free Christmas hampers
Day 15: gluten free chocolate truffles
Day 16: gluten free Buche de Noel, or Yule Log
Day 17: gluten free Christmas turkey trimmings
Day 18: gluten free recipe books
Day 19: gluten free custard, brandy butter and cream
Day 20: gluten free breakfast
Day 21: gluten free gingerbread and salt dough decorations
Day 22: gluten free vegetarian Christmas dinner
Day 23: surprise gluten free visitors
Day 24: Today!

A gluten free Christmas: Day 23

You’ve just been told that you’ve an unexpected visitor; and they have to have a gluten free diet. And the shops are all closed for Christmas What do you do?

balloonsFirst of all, don’t panic. Probably, they’ll come equipped with the basics: at least some bread. And if not, it’s still manageable – and they’ll probably be so glad that you’re able to feed them, that they’ll be grateful for anything you can provide.

Second: look in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. Assuming it is a main meal that you need to create, I’d start by looking at what carbohydrates you have that are gluten free. Do you have any potatoes, rice, polenta or quinoa? If you do, then, that will be the basis of your meal.

Then, protein. Do you have any: eggs, cheese, plain meat or fish (not breaded or battered), or dried/tinned pulses? That will then be the next element.

And vegetables – could you make a salad? Cook some side vegetables?

Often something really simple and straightforward is the best option. How about roasted vegetables served with rice and a salad? Or a souffle with chips or roasted potatoes? A risotto, a chili or a stew? Read all the labels of everything you put in. Check with your visitor before starting if possible – but don’t embarrass them by discussing the ins and outs in great detail, or by making a big fuss about it. Ask their advice; they’ll know. And if they say that they can’t eat something, please don’t put any pressure on them. “A little bit” will make a difference; “just a taste” will do them harm.

If they’ve come to share your […]

A gluten free Christmas: Day 22

silver-baublesWhat do vegetarians eat at Christmas? Or, and more specifically, what do gluten free vegetarians eat at Christmas?

They definitely don’t eat the turkey, sausages, bacon or meat-based stuffing…

There are lots of options available. In the past we’ve made a chestnut and mushroom pie, a white-nut and Sage Derby loaf, goats cheese and red onion tarts and an apple and mushroom en croute. All both vegetarian and gluten free by using gluten free shortcrust pastry or gluten free breadcrumbs, depending on the recipe.

But this year, I’m tempted by this one: Moroccan spiced pie, from the BBC Good Food site. It looks beautiful, and is crammed full of herbs, spices, nuts, berries, ginger and honey. Fab-u-lous. Do go and look.

The only issue will be swapping out their normal filo pastry for gluten free pastry. Ready made gluten free puff pastry is available at Gluten Free Foods Direct (Brumby’s). It’s probably too late to buy some now, so we’ll have to make it. I’ll probably use Gluten Free Gobsmacked’s recipe for croissants (yes, I did reference it a couple of days ago, but it is a good one!).

And I expect that will be just delicious. Feeling hungry already…