Shopping Gluten Free

Gluten Free Chocolate Eclairs

When I look back over the last 13 years, it’s clear that the range and availability of gluten free products has improved enormously.

Here’s an example: we recently received a box of new products from Floris Foods, including some excellent gluten free chocolate eclairs.

Now my daughter has never had a chocolate eclair before, though she’s watched her siblings enjoy a ‘normal’ version of these. And – as many of you know – it isn’t fun to watch your child putting on a brave face when unable to join in a simple pleasure. And while I’m a decent plain cook, gluten free choux pastry is outside my range. I have tried!

So I was absolutely delighted to be able to offer her something that looked the same as the others had. And, even better, she thought they were fab.

What a find! Thank you!

And it just shows how much things have moved on. I would never have imagined, a dozen years ago when I was ‘faking’ tinned spaghetti so she didn’t feel different from the other children in nursery, that this kind of treat would be available in the future. Nor can I imagine what it was like before we joined the coeliac clan back in 1997, when there was even less available…

I’ve mentioned FlorisFoods before; if you haven’t checked them out yet, then do, because they have some delicious things. (Hint: the Cacao Squares bag was empty, leaving just crumbs, within minutes. The culprit? My daughter! And the Macaroons are just amazing: soft and chewy… )

Gluten Free Food – Cheaper

Do you know about this?

Approved Food sell clearance foodstuffs that are short dated, past their ‘best before’ date (but never the ‘use by’ date) and in date. Some of the lines are discontinued, in older packaging, trial lines and lines from discounted manufacturers. If you’re the kind of person who checks the discount shelving in the supermarket – and let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of us these days – you might find it useful. Plus: they sometimes have branded gluten free products.

Because of the short timescales, there’s no guarantee of what will be there from day to day. But today, there are some well known gluten free ranges, notably Baker’s Delight and a deidentified supermarket range (if you’ve been into the supermarket, you’ll know whose it is).

Here’s a screenshot of the gluten free page. Of course, they do sell staples that are naturally gluten free, such as rice, so don’t forget about these other items. This page is for dedicated gluten free foods. Note that I’ve ticked the box for ‘in-date’ foods only, so there might be more options that are just past their sell-by date. For more information on use-by and best-by dates, see the Food Standards Agency’s Eat Well site.

Now, I haven’t ordered from this company yet, so I can’t confirm their service, but I am subscribed to their newsletter, and do check the site regularly. This might be the first week I do place an order, as there isn’t always gluten free food available.

What do you think about this kind of clearance shopping? This is a UK based company – are there equivalents where you are?

Yum! Yum! Cupcakes and a Scrum in Waitrose

Did you happen to be in the Poynton Waitrose on Saturday afternoon? If so, you’ll have been astonished at the number of people crowding round the single bay of Free From food. I’m sure the staff were surprised at the run on gluten free products! There were three members of staff just trying to guide people to find it…

We were all there because the local branch of Coeliac UK (Cheshire) had a meeting next door, and once the Sainsbury Try Team had demonstrated how to create a few gluten free dishes, and we’d all had a cup of tea and a chat, a lot of people ‘just popped over’ to see what Waitrose had in store – especially those of us who don’t have a Waitrose near us.

The answer is that there was nothing new or unusual to be found, though this was a small store, so there might be more in a larger one. Some of the products were Antoinette Savill’s range, which we know we like. The Waitrose own range of gluten free products looks good; we bought some chocolate muffins. And I was pleased to see that they had a free brochure about living gluten free available – and information available online too.

But I really want to tell you about the Yum! Yum! cupcakes that we bought at the meeting.

We bought a presentation pack of six: double chocolate, vanilla icecream and strawberry flavours. They were just beautiful (check out the pictures) and my daughter was thrilled with them.


Not cheap, though, despite the discount price offered at the meeting, but if you had a special event, or wanted to surprise a gluten free friend with a pretty gift, these would be great.

Photos taken with a mobile phone before the feasting began…

My suggestion to Yum! Yum! would be to sell these in presentation packs of 2 or 4, as well as 6.

Hunting for Gluten Free Food

Our local Tesco closed for a week, while they complete their extension work… it takes a lot of effort to reshelve hundreds of thousands of items!

We left it a further week, thinking they’d be swamped in their first few days. Then we headed in, to see what changes had been made to the Free From section.

My expectations were low, but my daughter’s level of excitement increased as we followed the aisles up and down, looking for it. “It’ll be round this corner… it’ll be a big section at the back… it’s going to be huge!”

Could we find it? No. It used to be next to the bakery section, on a back wall – no sign of it anywhere near there. There was still space on the shelves in the bakery section for the Genius bread, though those were empty. But where was the Free From section itself?

I asked someone refilling shelves; they didn’t know where it was now either, and had to ask around. Eventually we did find someone who took us there.

It was in among the tinned meats.

What? Not even with the exotic foodstuffs? Near the pharmacy? With health foods? Near home-baking?

I’m very glad they still stock some free from foods; I was beginning to think, as we traipsed around, that they’d abandoned it. But the location is odd (and the staff agreed with us), and the range no bigger than before. More of each item (so that’s good!) but nothing new. It’s clearly not a priority for Tesco.

We were disappointed.

Whereabouts in your local supermarket is the Free From food shelved? Are gluten free items scattered about alongside the ‘normal’ items, or does it have its own dedicated section?

Lets Go Italian (Gluten Free)

We don’t often hear from suppliers of gluten free products, so I invited Catherine Forward from Let’s Go Italian to write about her best selling gluten free product. She also has some helpful phrases to help you eat gluten free in Italy. Let’s Go Italian is a small family business based in Great Missenden, Bucks, UK which has been selling authentic Italian food and gifts online since 1997. Catherine is the owner and loves Italian food!

Over to you, Catherine…

logo-lets-go-italian

Ever since I started Let’s Go Italian, I have been asked by lots of different people for Gluten Free pasta. I started the business because of my love of Italian cooking and had not even realized that pasta could be anything else but Durum Wheat. However, after some research, I discovered a great Gluten Free alternative, Corn Maize Pasta.

I have also learnt that Italians are quite educated when it comes to understanding Coeliac disease and eating Gluten Free. My Italian friends have told me that children are tested for Gluten intolerance at pre-school age and their pharmacies have a great stock of Gluten Free foods including breads, biscotti and of course, pasta.

Part of Let’s Go Italian’s philosophy is that all our ingredients are sourced from quality Italian producers. It has taken a while, but finally, we have found an authentic Italian producer, Molino di Ferro of Treviso in Northern Italy who do a great range of Corn Maize pasta. Rice Flour pasta wasn’t the instant success that corn maize pasta has been. I suppose it is the translucent white colour of the pasta that is off putting. However, as well as tasting great, the golden colour of the corn maize pasta is very appealing. There are also a variety of shapes, so it doesn’t always have to be spaghetti. It can also be penne, tubetti, fettuce or shells.

If you are heading to Italy for your holidays and are worried about eating there, don’t be. You will eat well and can even sample the pasta as well. Here are a few useful phrases to write down and master when eating out.

Do you serve Corn maize pasta? E’ possibile ordinare della pasta di farina di mais?

I am unable to eat Durum Wheat Pasta. Non posso mangiare pasta di grano duro

Is this suitable for a gluten free diet? E’ questo prodotto senza glutine? Sono celiaco e intollerante al glutine.

Alternatively, visit http://www.celiactravel.com/gluten-free-cards/ for ingenious printable cards that are perfect for taking with you when you eat out on holiday. Available in loads of languages, from Argentinian to Uzbek and including Italian, they are a great resource.

Equally, if you enjoy cooking at home and would like to order some pasta or other gluten free Italian ingredients from Let’s Go Italian, use the code FRF10 at the checkout to receive 10% off your order. (Valid until the end of August 2010). Click on www.letsgoitalian.co.uk to browse our range. We are a UK based company who deliver all over the world. Overseas orders delivery charges are quoted separately based on weight.

Buon Appetito!

Thanks, Catherine. And thanks for the discount offer, too!