Gluten Free Products

Blog posts on interesting gluten free products to buy

2017 Free From Food Awards

I was delighted to be included in the judging panel for yesterday’s session of the 2017 Free From Food Awards (FFFA).

The FFFAs – now in their 10th year – celebrate the UK’s best free from products from small, (sometimes just starting out in the home kitchen) start ups to large supermarkets. The Awards are run by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson and her seemingly indefatigable team. All judging is performed blind. The judges are not told until after their comments have been recorded and scoring has been completed whose products have been tasted. All products are cooked or prepared exactly to the package’s instructions.

It’s been a pleasure to see the development of the free from food sector through the last 6 years in which I’ve been honoured to be included on the judging panel. Not just the growth in number of products now available in this sector, but the bringing to market of more innovative products and an increasing number of products catering to the wider allergy community, more than just gluten free. For me the judging, and especially the presentation of awards party, is a chance to catch up with friends within the free from community who I wouldn’t ordinarily get to see otherwise. It’s also a million miles from my ‘day job’ which is another reason why I thoroughly enjoy being involved!

As I also have a nut allergy, I have to be mindful of the categories I can judge in. For this reason, cake and biscuit containing categories are out for me as so many contain nuts, and particularly almonds which is one of the nuts I’m allergic to.

This year I judged in the Innovation and Veggie Ready Meals category.

The shortlist for the FFFA 2017 will be published on 8th February and the presentation of awards will be made on Tuesday 28 March 2017.

Until the shortlist is published, I can give you a sneak peek of the judging process and my top picks from the judging yesterday:

In the Innovation category, I enjoyed the following:

Oomi noodles.

High protein & 75% less carbs than regular chilled egg noodles, these are not marketed as gluten free fish noodles but that’s what they are. Made from a combination of Alaskan pollock, Pacific whiting and/or hoki, I really liked the firm texture of these noodles. We tried them plain and I could taste the fish but they looked just like regular noodles. They can be stir fried in 1 minute and with sauce this might be a good way to get some fish into kids. You can even eat these directly from the packet.

Oomi gluten free noodle

If you were presented with this, what would you think it is? I asked on Instagram and the suggestions ranged from a brownie containing beetroot, dates or figs or even insects to something made with flour from dinosaurs (well it is the Innovation award!).

gluten free high protein bar

Perhaps you’ll be as surprised as me to discover this is in fact a Piri Piri chicken bar made by Fori. This product is made with 60% free range chicken.

It had an interesting flavour; I’ll be honest and say I loved it and was challenged by it in equal measure. But if you’re into high protein, gluten free and nut free snacks, this product could be for you! I think this product would be good as a back up while travelling in case your special meal is not loaded on to your flight. Similarly, if you were out on a long hike, this product could provide a filling but light item to carry snack on.

As the tasting is done blind at the FFFA, we do not see the packaging at the time of product tasting. This protein bar is sold in this packaging and I think you’d eat it directly from the packet, meaning you’re unlikely to ponder whether this is a cholcolate

Piri Piri chicken high protein bar

Also in the Innovation category were these gluten free sweet potato wraps by bFree. On my recent trip to Australia, bFree wraps were easy to find everywhere, including these sweet potato wraps. I liked that they were very pliable and I imagine they would stand up well to being in a lunchbox. We tried them both as a wrap with hummus filling and also separately to taste the flavour alone. A product I will definitely be buying.

bFree sweet potato wraps

As well as the Innovation category, I also participated in the judging for the vegetarian ready meals.

My top pick in this category were these gluten free Devonshire soysages made by Dragonfly Foods. I would buy these over meat sausages and really enjoyed the rosemary flavour in them as well as the way the outside had crisped up. The texture and taste didn’t make them too dissimilar in my view to meat sausages. I suspect that they would BBQ quite well, unlike some of the gluten free vegetarian sausages on the market today.

gluten free soysages

I think that vegetarian ready meals is an area in which food manufacturers could make improvements in. There is definitely room in this area to increase the number and range of products on offer to vegetarians with dietary restrictions looking for convenience products.

Many thanks to Michelle for inviting me to participate in the judging again this year and to the whole team behind the scenes for their skills in preparing all the products to try.

You can follow news from the Free From Food Awards here. The shortlist will be published on Wednesday 8th February 2017.

Have you tried any of these products? Would you consider buying them?

Gluten Free Panettone (and Pasta) at Elena’s Gluten Free Way

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas….How do I know? Because at this time every year my blog suddenly gets a major increase in traffic from people searching for gluten free panettone.

This year Elena’s Gluten Free Way are selling gluten free panettone imported from Italy. I bought two to make sure no one (and by that I really mean me) goes without!

While you’re buying your gluten free panettone from Elena, I’d highly recommend taking a look through the other great Italian gluten free products on the website.

In particular, Elena has a great range of Italian gluten free pastas in a wide variety of shapes which are hard to find in the supermarket. My favourite is the Piaceri Mediterranei Linguine. It’s made from corn, rice and chick pea flours. I love it because it holds its shape well and doesn’t stick together as many gluten free pastas tend to. As a bonus it’s currently reduced to half price!

Details:

Gluten free panettone costs £ 9.50 from Elena’s Gluten Free Way. Website: www.elenasgfway.co.uk

Please note this panettone contains deglutinised ingredients.

Brazillian Cheese Balls: Yoki Pan de Queso

If you’ve ever been to Brazil, you will no doubt have encountered Pao de Queso, the national snack of cheese balls which are naturally gluten free.

I bought this pack of Yoki’s Pao de Queso back from Brazil.

All it required was the addition of 2 eggs and 100ml of water.

I popped all the ingredients into a bowl:

After a quick stir and knead the mixture became dough like:

I rolled them in my hands into little balls:

After 25 minutes in the oven, they came out like this:


Sadly I didn’t have the ingredients to make caipirinhas so instead I enjoyed these great balls of cheese with a glass of South American red. Lovely!

NB if you can’t find the Yoki Pan de Queso, there are other suppliers such as Isabel’s who offer a similar product.

Dietary Specials Gluten Free Ciabatta Rolls

When I look back over the last 2 years since diagnosis, I realise there is one product that has probably made its way into my shopping basket more than any other: Dietary Specials gluten free brown ciabatta rolls.

They are sold in packs of 4:


I was in my local Waitrose the other week and stocking up on a couple of packs (they were on buy one get one free) and the lady on the till asked me about them. She said she’d been recently diagnosed with Coeliac disease and couldn’t find any gluten free breads she liked. I shared my views on the main gluten free breads on the market and told her she needed to try some of the DS rolls, particularly while they were on special offer. I’m sure she was thinking “calm down dear, they’re only bread rolls”, but to me they’re not just a gluten free replacement, they’re as good – if not better – than similar regular bread rolls. If I had one piece of feedback, I wish they could make them a little larger.

I really like the linseeds and sunflower seeds in the brown ciabatta rolls. They’re also high in fibre. I usually prefer these rolls freshly warmed in the oven because it gives the outside of the bread a lovely crusty texture so rarely found in gluten free bread. However, they have been frequent travellers with me and I’ll happily eat them straight from the pack too.

The Dietary Specials website has a handy booklet you can download here with lots of recipe ideas for the ciabatta rolls.

Here are some uses I’ve found for my DS brown ciabatta rolls:

Inspired by one of the panini recipes in the above DS booklet, I made this goat’s cheese, sundried tomato and griddled courgette panini using a white ciabatta roll. As I don’t have a panini press, I used a griddle pan and its heavy lid. This didn’t look flat as panini cooked in a proper press would but it tasted great. I’d also forgotten how much I like goat’s cheese.

The ultimate comfort food: Gluten free fish finger sandwich using Young’s gluten free fish fingers. You can tell I have a favourite type of side salad!

Sausage sandwich with lashings of ketchup. These rolls are so widely available in the UK I’ve been able to rely on finding them wherever we visit in the UK, in this case a summer BBQ by the sea.

However, when I’ve travelled overseas I’ve often taken a pack with me. Here’s my gluten free stash for our holiday in France. I should add most of this returned home with us!

Finally, I’ve taken them as emergency food on flights. In this case on the way back from Albania. As the flight was just under 3 hours, Mr D was catered for but I wasn’t.

The great thing about these rolls is that they are long life (although they don’t taste like it) and this means you can take them away on trips and if you don’t use them, they can be stored for whenever you need them. Or just keep a pack in the cupboard without having to worry about wastage!

Dietary Specials ciabatta rolls are widely available at Waitrose, The Cooperative, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.