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Going for Gold: Gluten-Free Expedition Food

dofe-expedition

Another year, another expedition…

I’ve talked before about our coeliac daughter’s Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, and had a very interesting email conversation afterwards with another mother about her own daughter’s expeditions.

As you may know, the DofE expeditions require that the young people carry everything they need (except water): tents, maps, food, sleeping bags, fuel, cooking equipment… and that there is a weight limit on what each person can carry. In our experience, the team of girls have split the tent and cooking gear between them, to spread the load, and so we’ve relied on sharing pans (though not crockery, cutlery or utensils). Naturally, this involves cook-in-the-bag type supplies and/or VERY good cleaning between uses. But the other family I was discussing this with needed dedicated pans, thereby increasing the weight that had to be carried. Difficult indeed!

My own daughter’s final Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition is coming up, involving 4 days of hiking and 3 nights camping.

Since my last post on this, we’ve found a couple more options for gluten-free expedition food:

  • Expedition Foods offer a range of gluten-free foods. The company was set up to serve the DofE market, and has grown to serve all kinds of outdoor explorers and enthusiasts from Ranulph Fiennes to those taking part in the Marathon des Sables. These are freeze-dried meals – so don’t need refrigeration, and are very light to carry – and to cook them you add boiling water to the bag (avoiding the cross-contamination risk).
  • Ilumi seem to add to their range all the time, and often have very good offers. Their products are all gluten-free, nut-free and milk-free, and some of them are vegetarian or vegan. The food can be stored at room temperature (or in a rucksack!) and can be heated by putting the bags in boiling water (avoiding the cross-contamination risk)
  • And we were sent some of the new, organic and gluten-free Nature’s Path granola bars to try (chocolate chip, and trail mix). We haven’t found many gluten-free granola bars, so these could prove useful. They’re of the soft and chewy variety, rather than the crisp and crunchy – at least, the trail mix ones are, I didn’t get to try any of the choc chip variety – and they are quite sweet. I can see that they might give a weary walker something to keep them going for another few miles.

And once this Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition is done, her next challenge is an expedition to Nepal, next summer. Being gluten-free doesn’t seem to hold her back at all.

Free From Foods Awards – The Winners 2014

Oo, exciting – the winners of the Free From Foods Awards were announced last night!

It’s a long, long, list, and you can read more about all the awards here. Here’s my selection of award winners that we’ve either tried ourselves or that I’m looking forward to trying in the future.

Focaccia per tutti - winner FFFood Awards 14

Overall Winner

Overall Winner of the FAIR trophy for Best FreeFrom Food 2014

Focaccia Per Tutti (Focaccia Mediterranea)

The judges said:

‘Stunning! Ticks all of the freefrom boxes and yet looks – and tastes – like an authentic and delicious focaccia. How did she do it!’ ‘Excellent aroma, good crust and lovely classic Mediterranean flavours – olives, garlic, tomatoes, rosemary.’ ‘Fantastic that it is free of all allergens except nuts.’ ‘Really filling a gap in the market – love it! Want more!’ ‘A worthy winner in terms of both innovation and quality.’

We say:

We’ve so got to try this!

Runners Up

  • Amy’s Kitchen Broccoli and Cheddar bake

    The judges said:

    ‘Visually appealing, lovely taste and texture. All elements work well together – a very, very good product.’ ‘Excellent. Good al dente pasta, lovely al dente green broccoli, well flavoured sauce and great crunchy top. What’s not to like?!’

    We say:

    We’ve tried this, and its a great freezer fallback for those days when there just isn’t time to cook.

  • Bessant & Drury Raspberry swirl frozen yogurt

    The judges said:

    ‘The best coconut product I have tasted – lovely mouthfeel and raspberry flavour comes through well.’ ‘Excellent freefrom qualities and good live cultures – very tasty.’ ‘Fab dairy free, fab texture, fab taste!!’

    We say:

    We haven’t tried this because we don’t need to be dairy free in our house, but maybe we should; I’ll look out for it.

  • Tesco Free From fresh seeded bread

    The judges said:

    ‘Excellent everyday loaf – good texture, lovely seeds and a better ingredients list than most!’ ‘Light, tasty and really hard to believe that it is gluten free.’ ‘Really good seeded loaf – perfect for sandwiches.’

    We say:

    It’s good to be able to pick up a decent gluten free loaf in the supermarket.

  • Waitrose Gluten free egg watercress and chicken salad roll

    The judges said:

    ‘Look wonderful – great lookalike for a normal filled roll.’ ‘Very good product – great to see a vending product of this nature – faultless innovation.’ ‘Fresh and well executed – what a treat – and in a mainstream outlet too!’

    We say:

    We haven’t tried this yet, but we’ll look out for it. It would be good to be able to pick up gluten free sandwiches easily.

The Innovation Award – Sponsored by Food Matters Live

Winners: Venice Bakery large seasoned gluten-free vegan pizza base

The judges said:

‘Fabulous pizza base – excellent freefrom properties – very innovative.’ ‘Great product for multi-sensitives.’ ‘Good crisp crust and great flavour because it is thin – if a little sweet.’

We say:

We tried this at the Allergy and Free From Show last summer, and liked it so much we bought some to bring home.

Commended:

  • Newburn Bakehouse Seeded wraps
  • Udi’s Cinnamon & raisin bagel

We say:

We regularly buy both these. Fabulous additions to the range of gluten free food available in the supermarket.

‘Food to go’ and food for vending machines – Sponsored by 24Vend

Winner: Waitrose Gluten free egg watercress and chicken salad roll

The judges said:

‘Delicious moist rolls (so many gf rolls are dry). Generous, nutritious and tasty filling – what a pity it isn’t dairy free as well. Excellent on-the-go food.’ ‘A delicious vegetarian sandwich (egg and cress) – really satisfies the need of people looking for gluten free and vegetarian lunch options. And they look great. Love all that cress.’ ‘Generous portion and a well balanced mix of salad, mayonnaise and chicken.’

Highly Commended:

  • Great Food Spinach & pinenut with houmous – snack pack
  • Hotch Potch Eggs Arancini

We say:

This all sounds fab; and anything that makes it easier for coeliac daughter to find food she can eat while out and about is good by me.

Foods designed for food service – Sponsored by Genon Laboratories

Winners:

  • The Indian Coeliac Gluten free authentic Panjabi pakoras
  • We Love Cake Gluten free cherry Bakewell tarts

We say:

Again, we tried – and bought – the pakoras last summer. We hope this category just keeps getting stronger; the easier it is to eat out as a coeliac, the better.

Do go and check out the full list of recommended products – and then try them! Let me know what you think…

Readymade Gluten Free Puff Pastry

fria-puff-pastry
Gluten free puff pastry!

I’ve just received a press release to let me know that Fria are launching new products into the UK market, including puff pastry and pizza. This means they’ll have 22 different gluten free products available here in the UK, including their famous cinnamon swirls.

I was thinking about the lack of ready-made gluten free puff pastry while gazing into the freezer section at Sainsbury’s recently… and here it is.

I haven’t tried it yet; although Fria has quite a long list of stockists in the UK, none are near me, so we’ll have to order online to try some.

Goodness Direct is likely to be a good source. I’ll let you know how we get on with it!

(I am feeling quite ridiculously excited).

Gluten and Dairy Free Baking Course: Braxted Park

braxted-park

I’ve had a couple of emails about a new gluten free, dairy free, baking course running at the end of April 2014, and given how many people contact me to ask about gluten free baking – and how daunting it can seem to start with – I thought you might be interested.

It’s at Braxted Park in Essex – not very convenient for me (though they do have accommodation) but it might be handy for you, and it does look like a lovely location.

The one-day course starts with tea/coffee, and ends with wine and food. Sounds like just the thing!

And during the day, you’ll learn how to create:

  • Gluten-free (and dairy-free) scones: plain,sultana or date & walnut
  • Gluten-free (and dairy-free) lemon meringue tartlets
  • Gluten-free (and dairy-free) victoria sandwich
  • Gluten-free (and dairy-free) bread served with a delicious gluten-free (and dairy-free) courgette with watercress and pecorino pesto soup.

I love scones… I’ve never had a date and walnut scone, though, and that sounds interesting.

Dr Vivien D’Arcy is the teacher for this course, and she is a gluten-free food specialist—specialising in patisserie and bread making—with a successful gluten-free bakery in Essex. She works as a part-time chef at the weekend and spends the rest of her time making gluten-free and dairy-free wedding, anniversary and birthday cakes, and supplying tearooms, cafes, restaurants and hotels. Apparently she was also finalist in the National Cupcake competition – now that sounds like something I’d like to judge!

There’s lots more information on the Braxted Park website, but the important information is that it costs £135 per person and is on the 30 April.

AND if you book by phone, and give the magic code – GFCookery – I’m told they’ll give you a 10% discount to celebrate the launch of this new course.

I regularly get emails asking where to find birthday cakes that are both gluten and dairy free – here’s a chance to master making your own. If you go, do let me know how you get on (and don’t forget to use the magic discount code!)

P.S: Braxted Park also offer gift vouchers…

Gluten Free Summer Camp Scholarship

summer-campI sometimes get enquiries about gluten free summer camps, so I’m delighted to be able to pass this on…

Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery is awarding 10 American children a scholarship to go to an American gluten-free summer camp in Georgia or Minnesota. New this year, they will also award 10 children in Canada the chance to attend a gluten-free summer camp.

It’s a Facebook competition: between Feb 18 and March 18, 2014, parents with eligible children ages 8-17, can enter the contest by ‘liking’ Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery on Facebook and helping their child submit a 100-word statement on what makes him or her special. (Children under 13 aren’t supposed to have Facebook accounts, which is why its for parents to enter).

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Summer camps aren’t big here in the UK in the same way, but I do know what it is like to send a gluten free child out on their own, and I believe it’s great independence training. We don’t know the Rudi’s brand at all, but this is a great initiative.