Gluten Free Finds

Love those Gluten Free Gingerbread Men

lovemore gingerbread menIs it just me?

Am I the only one ever reduced to tears in the free from section in the supermarket?

It happened again, just last week, when I found Lovemore Gingerbread Men in Sainsbury’s. As you can see from the image, it’s a box containing four charming gingerbread men, some dairy-free chocolate beans (looking very like Whizzers – less colourful than Smarties, which as you know are not gluten free) and a couple of tubes of writing icing. Not really the kind of thing to make a grown woman cry, is it?

Those poor supermarket staff. Perhaps they should hand round a box of tissues on the shelves in the free from sections, as they used to in the cinema during romantic films when I was a teenager…

I bought them. You know I always buy these things, partly because we like to try them, and partly to encourage the supermarkets and the manufacturers by demonstrating that Yes there IS a demand for these things.

And there is a demand.

Oh yes. Even though my coeliac daughter is now approaching 14, she was thrilled. She carefully decorated each gingerbread man in turn, and ate them all, except for a gingerbread leg she gave me to taste. Like the chocolate fingers we found in the summer, this is exactly the kind of thing I wish we’d had 10 years ago.

They are expensive, of course, but I’d buy them again for a party or for a special treat. The gingerbread itself is tasty; not as gingery as I like it, but then, I’m not the target market, am I? Well, I am, of course, being the mother of a coeliac, but the product isn’t necessarily intended for me.

I contacted Lovemore, who kindly sent me a brochure (available here as a PDF to download.) and told me that they launched this line in Sainsbury’s three weeks ago. Hurrah!

So why does this simple product render me tearful?

  • Perhaps because it reminds me of all the times I sent my daughter off to children’s parties with her own party tea, all homemade, because there weren’t any products aimed at children back then; all those parties where she ate food that was different.
  • Perhaps because I’m so thrilled that manufacturers are, at last, realising that there is a market out there: children who want special-diet products aimed at them, so that they can look the same, be the same, eat the same as their peers.
  • Perhaps because every product like this makes it easier for children like my daughter to visit a friend’s house – and for friend’s parents to feel able to cater for them.
  • Perhaps because these products are getting ever closer to ‘normal’ food; and that is what children want, after all, at a party tea: cakes and biscuits that they can share with their friends without those friends saying ‘yuck’.

Lovemore, I love you. I wish you’d been there a decade ago.

Look What We Found

Beef and Basil MeatballsI was lucky enough to be sent some samples by Look What We Found to try out recently.

Their range of products includes a variety of gluten free items, and you may have seen some of these around, but I doubt you’ve seen all 21 of their gluten free items at the same time. I certainly haven’t, despite the fact that I frequent a wide variety of shops in our area, and was surprised by the range.

We’ve been camping in the Vendee region of France, and although we tried some of these at home, they are ideal for camping, as the packaging doesn’t require refrigeration. So they’d be very useful if you were travelling, as long as you had access to a means of heating the food.

One of the options Look What We Found provide is a variety of selection boxes, including a gluten free taster pack. Others include the student survival pack, which is an excellent idea, though it would be good to be able to customise a pack to include only gluten free options, or only vegetarian options. Another option would be to create a gift pack for newly delivered mothers, who didn’t have time or energy to cook from scratch, and might be very pleased indeed to receive a food parcel like this. And a great option is a pack of snack pots – the Chilli Con Carne with Camargue Red Rice comes in a snack pot size and is gluten free. Again, it would be good to have a vegetarian gluten free snack pot as an option.

We’ve now tasted several of these products, and this is what we thought:

Cumbrian Lamb Hotpot

A good, homemade taste, though we added a little extra seasoning. One of the benefits of this range is that they seem to be relatively low calorie. All these products are extremely convenient, with a good taste and decent, healthy ingredients.

English Tomato Soup with Cheviot Cheese Pesto

We liked this: wholesome and creamy, with a full flavour. We’d buy this one again.

Beef Bolognese with fresh Italian herbs

Slightly more mixed views on this one: my son said it was good; my coeliac daughter said it was OK but she preferred my homemade version (but I use lamb, so its not quite the same). We thought (as we did for all these) that it was really very good for something straight out of a packet.

Beef and Basil Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Comments on this one: very good; nice texture and taste; the basil finishes it off nicely; the best yet. We’d definitely buy this one again.

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pork Meatballs with Butter Beans in a rich Tomato Sauce

The children thought this one a bit ‘spicy’, though the adults weren’t sure why they thought this, based on the recipe. We thought this one was fine, though the texture was a bit dry because of the butter beans – a relatively unfamiliar taste for the children. We preferred the Beef Meatballs above.

Mushroom Stroganoff with hand-picked Scottish Mushrooms

I really enjoyed this one, as did my son (“really, really good”). My daughters are not so keen on mushrooms, so this dish was never going to be a favourite with them. I liked the fact that there were a variety of mushrooms used in this dish.

Fellside Beef Chilli con Carne

This was a great favourite in some parts: “good, good, good” was one comment, “brilliant” another. The children found it a little hot, but it had a good dense flavour and a nice sauce.

Wild Rabbit in Leek and Elderflower sauce with Camargue Red Rice

My husband thought this was the best of the lot. He was the only one to try this, as the children were less than keen on the idea of eating rabbit.

Overall, we like these products, though they are expensive, particularly since each pack feeds one adult or two not-very-hungry children. I’d like to see family-size servings!

The packaging is good (the non-refrigeration is a huge winner) and carries the provenance of the food (such as the name of the farmer, the farm, and the breed of cows) which we liked.

Look What We’ve Found have four new gluten free products (also dairy free, nut free and wheat free) which all look delicious. Do go and have a look at their range...

When are gluten free products like buses?

ds-sausage-rollsWait for a long time… then you get two at once.

Not only do we have the new gluten free fish fingers from a ‘normal’ fish finger provider – a break from tradition in itself – we now have two new products from a dedicated gluten free provider.

Dietary Specials have announced the arrival of their new wheat-free and gluten-free frozen pastry and sausage rolls. These should be available from Sainsbury stores across the country (UK, I’m afraid) and some people are already reporting that they’ve found them.

The press release overstates it a little bit, announcing that this gives coeliacs the chance to enjoy readymade pastry for the first time… this isn’t strictly true, as it has been possible to buy readymade frozen gluten free pastry from a range of different suppliers for a while now (online, from G-Free and Sussex Larder at Johnson’s Provisions or Gluten Free Foods Direct,for example, or on the high street from local providers such as our local shop Just For You) and we’ve been buying readymade gluten free sausage rolls from Lifestyle for years.

But it is true that this is the first time that readymade gluten free pastry and sausage rolls have been available in a national supermarket.

For some people – perhaps those who prefer to buy from supermarkets, those who don’t want to buy in the bulk quantities sometimes required by online providers, or those who don’t usually buy gluten-free, but need to cater for a visitor – this is a big step forward. Hurrah for Sainsbury and Dietary Specials!

My shopping list is getting ever longer – I need to put the keyboard down, stop working and go out to the shops…

Have you seen this fish finger?

youngs-fish-fingers

Have you seen these yet?

GFF Direct have a page inviting us to pre-order; they’re supposed to be available mid-June.

We’ve tried fish fingers from the supermarkets (Tesco and Sainsburys) and not been particularly impressed. The children prefer homemade… But we’ll definitely try these – if we can find them.

I can’t find any information about them on the Young’s website, though there’s lots of promotional material about their new packaging. This seems odd: you’d think, if you were about to provide something like this, you’d at least have a press release or something in a ‘new products’ area.

So – have you seen them?

Bob the Builder: Yes, we’re gluten free

Does your gluten free child love Bob the Builder?

bob-the-builder-gf-pastaI remember when Bob and his gang were significant in our lives, and I so wish that this product had been around then. A decade ago I would have been thrilled to find some gluten free products designed for, and packaged for, children. And it is still a huge gap in the market …

I was still pretty excited this morning. Amazing how finding something new like this can make me feel quite teary in the supermarket. New to me, that is – I think it’s been around for a while.

It’s made by FunFoods4All, and as far as I can tell, is the only gluten free product they make. We found it in a big Tesco, but it’s also available online (at Gluten Free Foods Direct, for example).

And it’s actually a good product too. It’s a corn and rice based pasta, with no additives or preservatives. We bought some (yes, of course we did!) and she had some tonight. There are a variety of shapes (Scoop, Muck and Dizzy, and Roley too, Lofty and Wendy join the crew), and they hold together remarkably well when cooked – and expand a lot!

Altogether now:

“Bob the builder
Can we fix it?
Bob the builder
Yes we can!”