Perk!er Gluten Free

Since I have a soft spot for a bright, bold and engaging packaging, it was no surprise that at this year’s Allergy show I was immediately drawn to the Perk!er Foods stand.

Sadly, on this occasion everyone else must’ve felt the same way and the Perk!er stand was crammed full of people on each of the three times I circled it attempting to speak to the owners to check on the nut situation with Perk!er’s products. It took a lot of willpower to resist my usual elbow manoeuvre honed over years of travel on Russian trains, trams and buses to push to the front. Instead, I could only look on at the exciting looking Brownie cake pops displayed with the colourful packaging.

A few weeks later whilst arranging a gluten free meet up I got chatting to Ann, the founder of Perk!er and I finally managed to ask whether their products contain nuts. This is the nut warning:

“WARNING ON NUTS: None of the PERK!ER products contain nuts as a specific ingredient, but some of the ingredients we use in the BREAD & TREATS do have a warning “may contain traces of nuts”. The porridges do not have a nut warning on them. We produce our gluten free food in a nut free kitchen”

For those with nut allergies, I must leave it up to you to decide whether these products are suitable for you. I would NOT eat anything which contained the nuts I’m allergic to. But I’m still figuring out what I think about “may contain traces of nuts” warnings such as those which appear on the Perk!er breads/sweet treats (but not porridge). However, this is my personal view and each person must make their own decisions with their health.

Ann very kindly sent me a box of Perk!er gluten free products to sample. I’ve been trying to find a breakfast ‘cereal’ which is gluten free, oat free, AND nut free and which can be eaten with yoghurt, but not milk. I would also like something which has some form of nutritional value, which rules out the crisped riced type breakfast cereals. A product which fits these criteria is actually quite difficult to find but I’m sure I’m not alone in needing something similar.

Perk!er offer both (gluten free) oat based and also oat free porridge in 3 flavours; Berry; Apple, Raisin and Cinnamon, and; Gingerbread. I’m not keen on gingerbread so I was sent samples of berry and apple, raisin and cinnamon flavours. The oat free porridge is made with organic millet and buckwheat flakes.

On the first morning, I stirred the oat free porridge into my yoghurt. I wasn’t that keen on the texture because it was a bit gritty for me. I think the Greek yogurt I eat doesn’t contain much moisture to absorb the grains and for them to expand. Other yoghurts and – I’m sure – milk or water would give a different result when mixed with the porridge. The next day I sprinkled the porridge on top and this was a winner. The texture was no longer gritty and I could properly taste the flavours in the porridge mix. The oat free porridge pack costs £3 for a 270g pack which the website says this gives 6 servings. I weighed the sample packs before I ate them so I know I was eating approximately 20g in a serving. This means a pack would last me 13 breakfasts and I feel this is good value.

I also got to try a seeded loaf. Sadly, the Royal Mail let us down and the parcel arrived a few days later than it was supposed to have been delivered so the bread was a little past its best since Perk!er do not use any preservatives in their products to prolong their life. However, I did love the shape of this bread. The taste and texture of the centre part of the seeded loaf which was still really soft was delicious.

The chocolate treats. What I really like about the Perk!er products is that the look of the very cool packaging and the quality of the products make them into genuine treats.

The Rocky Road was particularly good with its fluffy pink marshmallow chunks but I very much enjoyed all of the chocolate treats. Well, except one that is. The cake pop of the type I’d seen at the Allergy show. It was pinched by naughty Mr D before I got to try it. Which just goes to show that the Perk!er products are not just for Coeliacs/gluten intolerants.

Online sales: Only the two versions of porridge (oat and oat free) in the three different flavours are currently available for online purchase from PerK!er direct by clicking here.
In person: Perk!er are selling their full range at trade shows throughout the UK. For more details, check their facebook page for details.
Also: Going to the Coeliac UK AGM on 30th June? Perk!er will have their full range available to purchase from a stand there.

Disclaimer: I was kindly sent the Perk!er products above to try but this is my honest review. In fact, I liked the oat free porridge so much that I ordered (and paid for with my own money) 3 packs of the oat free porridge after sampling it.

Gluten Free at Salts Diner, Saltaire

A weekend trip up to Yorkshire for a family christening provided an excellent opportunity to head back to Salts Mill.

Saltaire was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, philanthropic industrialist who had made his fortune in the textiles industry, mainly through the spinning of alpaca fleece. The village’s name comes from both the founder’s surname and also the river Aire on which the village is located. In building Saltaire, Titus Salt consolidated his 5 separate mills, re-locating them from nearby Bradford to the new site near Shipley in West Yorkshire. Having seen the dire conditions his workers lived in, he set about building a model village with a school, municipal buildings and terraced stone houses for his workers. Salt provided strict rules for the workers in Saltaire and this included not hanging washing outside the properties and inebriated workers faced eviction. Saltaire is now a UNESCO Work Heritage Site and is definitely worth the short trip on the train from Leeds.

I visited Salts Mill Diner last year and had been impressed with the fact they offered gluten free cakes although on that visit I’d eaten a ham hock salad. Mightily fine as my salad was, it didn’t really warrant a blog post. Fast forward to last weekend, a stressful trip up from London, a wander around Saltaire’s Victorian streets and the beautifully laid out Roberts Park and we were all ready for a cup of tea and slice of cake (maybe).

Having perused the excellent high ceiling-ed ground floor book shop full of art books (local boy David Hockney’s work features prominently) alongside highly scented lilies and the sounds of classical music (possibly my ideal Saturday afternoon) we headed upstairs to the diner. The good news is that the gluten free cakes are still on the menu. The bad news was that the day’s gluten free special, carrot cake, contained nuts. In this case they were walnuts which I am not allergic to. However, since being diagnosed with a nut allergy I sometimes feel reluctant to eat nuts, even if I know I can. I’d spotted they had a daily soup special and so asked if the soup was gluten free (it was). Just for fun, I asked if they had any gluten free bread. Fortuitously, they did! Aside from the gluten free cakes, there were a number of other naturally gluten free menu options such as salads and a risotto.

The soup was full of deliciously comforting rooty vegetable goodness. It feel like a real treat to have some (gluten free) bread and butter with my soup.

Sometimes the simplest meals can be the most tasty and satisfying.

Salts Mill Diner Details
Opening times: Daily except 25 & 26th December and 1st January. Check the website here for opening times
Cost: Approximately £5 for bowl of soup, gluten free bread and pot of tea.
Rating: 9/10 (big well done to Salt’s Diner for offering gluten free cakes, bread and other naturally gluten free meals)
Other suggestions: Recently renovated Roberts Park is well worth a tour around. Make sure you walk up to the pavilion above the bandstand to read the history of Roberts Park.